When I read this wonderful article by Carol White in the Independent Book Publishers Association newsletter, I just had to share it with my readers. Many thanks to Carol and to IBPA for allowing me to publish it as a guest post here. Be sure to click on both sample book press releases to read the text and see Carol's comments on each element of the release.
One of the most basic parts of your marketing plan is your media plan. How are you going to let people know about your book so that they can find it and buy it? By notifying the media, right?
Of course, before you get to this point, your product has to be ready to market. There is no point in embarking on a publicity campaign unless you are ready to go to market:
• Is your product well-targeted for its genre/market? You do know who will buy your book, right? And the answer isn’t “everybody.”
• Has it been professionally produced – either by you or with help from a team of professionals as needed? Designers, editors, layout, and marketing professionals can all help improve the end result.
• It has to be priced right for the market - you did do a competitive analysis also?
• There have to be places for people to buy it where they are used to shopping for information on your subject - your really well-thought-out website is only the beginning and Amazon is only the next step; from there, think about pet stores for pet books, florists for books about orchids, home improvement stores for plumbing books, online sites and so on.
Once you are ready to launch your media campaign, you’ll need the tools to do that – one or more press releases, an author bio, some sample interview questions for broadcast media or online virtual interviews, a “sell” sheet and more. The item that seems to give authors the most trouble is writing a good press release. A press release for book promotion doesn’t tell about your book – it tells a story that people care about. Nobody cares that you have written a new book unless you are John Grisham or Tom Clancy, so you need a hook.
I’ve taken two press releases of my own that have had thousands of views and hundreds of “pickups” as examples of what makes a release work year after year. The first example ties to a topic of continuing interest to most Americans – the price of gasoline – especially during the summer vacation time, which is when it gets picked up and used. In fact, I usually update the pricing information and re-release it year after year, holiday after holiday. Click on the link below to see this press release, along with my comments about each element of the release.
Sample book press release #2
A press release for book promotion has some very specific parts to be effective:
• Clearly stated contact information
• An action-oriented headline that grabs attention
• An opening paragraph that pulls people into your story
• Quotes from people or organizations to back up your information and add interest
• Problem-solving information related to your story – how will your story (book) make their lives better or easier or how will it entertain them? What is the value to them?
• Humor and fun when appropriate
• Bullet points or short sectional headlines for easy skimming of key information
• Closing paragraph that wraps up the key point and “sells” the value of your book (and story). Includes a strong closing sentence.
• A short bio and information about the book and a link to your website and additional media information
All of this needs to be done in clear, concise sentences and written to generally not exceed 500-750 words. If appropriate, make sure you include additional media information like availability for interviews, local appearances in conjunction with the story, contests being conducted around the story, and so on.
Finally, there are few things to avoid in your press releases:
• It can’t be an advertisement for you or your book
• It can’t be overly biased or present clearly objectionable copy
• It can’t be difficult to read - difficult language, too text dense, too rambling, too long, etc.
What I always tell my clients is to put yourself in your potential customer’s shoes – what would you want to hear about this story/book and does this press release deliver that information? It will often take several tries to get the story right, but with a good eye towards your customer (and not yourself) and you will be well on your way to writing a press release for your book that you will be proud of and one that will get excellent media coverage both now and for some time in the future.
About the Author
Carol White is an author, speaker, writer, and book marketing coach. Co-author of the award-winning Live Your Road Trip Dream, she is a frequent guest speaker at conventions such as the national AARP Life @ 50+ and The Great North American RV Rally, and she has spoken about publishing to groups including IBPA’s Publishing University, the Northwest Association of Book Publishers and the Bay Area Independent Publishers’ Association. She serves clients in the U.S. and abroad through her book marketing consulting practice. To learn more, visit www.carolwhitemarketing.com.
For more information about the Independent Book Publishers Association, visit the IBPA website.