Promote Your Self Published Book – Give The Media What They Want – Better Press Releases
I can hear the groaning from here. ‘Oh no, not a blog post about Press Releases? Spare us!’
Hang on a mo’. This works. I know it does. I’ve been on the receiving end of tons (literally) of press releases over the years, and there are a couple of things you really need to know if you’re a writer promoting your book. About what will appeal and what definitely will not. And even though this information was true several years ago I suspect the same applies today, probably more so.
Press releases fall into two categories, and only two.
1. The absolutely hopeless, corporate, written-by-numbers jobs. I can picture the scene :- ‘Okay I’ll put together a press release for the company if I really must, although it is supposed to be my lunch break you know, and it’s Trevor who usually writes them. Yes, I know he’s off sick. Okay, what’s the password to Trev’s computer.’ Something like that. Let’s call it SMARTCO PLC Press Release.
2. The press release that is one sheet. Contains amusing quotes or interesting and unusual facts and angles on things the reader sitting on the newsdesk thought they already knew. It also has links to a website where these quotes can be copied and pasted, and of course any stunning images that can be copied and pasted. That will do for now. Let’s call this MY FAB BOOK Press Release.
So, let’s quickly gloss over Number 1. These arrive by the ton on newsdesks every morning. I’ve been there, both in local and national radio and in busy TV newsrooms. They are quite accurate and contain dates and times and facts and figures but THEY ARE HARD WORK. I think this next bit is probably the most truthful fact I’ve ever written ‘People working on newsdesks in all media haven’t got time to bother with HARD WORK‘. It’s…..well…hard work.
However, your fabulous press release is different……it contains the following….obviously facts and figures about your book, keep them short and to the point. The title of the book, your name, release date, price of the book, and who to contact to buy the book.
Just ONE contact number or address, not multiples, multiples have a nasty habit of getting mixed up ‘Oh no, they’ve only gone and printed the contact number of the milkman! How could they do that?’ Easy. It’s called ‘giving them too much information’.
So that’s the basics…now for the really meaty stuff that will make sure your press release begins to generate interest.
Right, you need to find an ‘angle‘ about your book, one really good one, and write about it in one paragraph, maybe two. Every book has some sort of angle, you just have to find it.
For example if your book, your novel, is about witch trials in Manchester (I know that’s stretching the point a little, or maybe not?} then give them a fact like ‘The story is based around the famous witch trials of 1666 in Manchester. Convicted witches would be hung by their heels for three weeks from the Town Hall balcony. You can still see the old rusty hook in the wall’. (I rather like this).
“The last witch to be executed was Sara Smith in 1672. Her great great grand daughter Emma stills live in Salford. She helped me with the research.’
Give them a list of five to ten fascinating facts. Now obviously if this is a ‘local history book’ you’ll have plenty, but if it’s a novel it is harder but somehow you have to find the ‘angle’ or the ‘link’ that will give them what they want.
I’m making all this up don’t forget (oh really?) and it’s rubbish of course but it would definitely interest me on a slow Monday afternoon on the local paper’s newsdesk.
Also, you need to tell them a little bit about you. If you are a window cleaner and this is your first book this is good. ‘Window Cleaner Plots Murder Mystery Up A Ladder’‘…..that kind of thing.
It also works the other way round. You might have been Lord Mayor….that’s a very good angle…Lord Mayor Unearths Horrific Facts about Witch Trials and Writes A Novel….I like that. There has to be at least a dozen fantastic headlines there, but I can’t think of any right now. I’m rushing. So, whatever your profession or previous job or interest you should tell them and they will make a link or you could suggest one…..
Don’t include the opening paragraph of the book or anything like that, they won’t use it. They want STUFF they can lift straight from your press release and print (newspapers) or turn into questions that make them look good, as though they already know the answers (TV).
So when the local radio station invites you in to talk about your book they have the ten best questions in front of them “So, Steve, I believe there were a few strange customs back in 1666? Concerning the Town Hall?’ To which Steve replies “That’s right Sue, a very good question….dah dah dah….”
Finally in your press release do not include photos. This was fine at one time but not in 2013. Photos get lost anyway, disappear under coffee cups, someone always scribbles a message from their partner on the back in a hurry and the photo is gone forever. NO.
On your single sheet press release give them the links to your website and where the images appear. Be very careful about this. Make sure any photos you want them to use are all together in one place on your website. Do not make them have to jump from page to page to find these images. MAKE IT EASY FOR THEM. They can copy and paste these photos into anything they like. Make sure any photos are your copyright.
Include on the webpage the text ‘quotes’ that are in your press release, so they can simply copy the text.
And that’s it. What you have done is give them instant links to your images and your text. You have given them the tasty quotes and facts, you have given them five to ten questions and ONE contact name and number and address. If you do that then you will have them fighting for your press release.
All they have to do now, if it’s a local newspaper, is write a short intro to the piece and then slot in the meaty stuff. My guess is they would be so fascinated they would probably contact you and find out more. Certainly TV would make something of it….
Good Press Releases are vital in self publishing. They work. They will sell your book.