Designing Your Press Release
posted by rdsp
As writers we should all be able to type out a great press release in no time flat. Right? Okay, so maybe it’s not the most fun in the world, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t exciting. What’s the difference, you ask?
Fun = setting your own schedule, discovering the fate of your characters, listening to your friends’ take on the story (well, sometimes). This is what motivates us as fiction writers, creation and the act of creation, while nonfiction often feels like a chore.
Exciting = getting read by strangers around the world, having articles and reviews written about your work, and being asked for interviews. A good press release will help open the door to writing’s “exciting” side, namely, some degree of tangible success.
The press release is always a single page—yes, I could rant for volumes about RDSP titles, as other publishers and editors could rant about theirs, but this is the PRESS release. That is, it’s for the press (reviewers, interviewers, entertainment journalists, talk show hosts, etc.); the point is to get them to rant for volumes about your work. Therefore, stick to the format they themselves prefer. One double-spaced sheet with a title, how to purchase the book, and what the book is.
Title: This is your one chance to get creative. You need a catchy title in bold at the top of the page, one that not only compels people to read your press release before the other 50 they receive that day, but one that will stick in their memory.
Availability: Next you need to list the book’s title, author, price, format, ISBN/LCCN, release date, publishing house—including phone and address, and distributor.
About the book: Here you get to lay out two or three paragraphs about the product. Remember, this is double spaced so you must be concise. I read some good advice somewhere, to the effect that one should think of it as an inverted pyramid. The info of greatest importance is included first, tapering down to the least important by the end. So, you start off by covering the basics of the book, without the flash of back cover material. Just stick to the facts: reiterate some of the info you’ve already included as a formal statement. Then move on to what makes this news worthy. This could be reading/signing tours, television appearances, award nominations/acceptances, stage/film adaptations, the fact that the book is the first of its kind (mention only you can back that assertion up!), etc. If you don’t have any of that in your favor yet then go more in-depth about the release: excerpts have been published in X, Y, and Z magazines, the book is a limited collector’s edition, you’re the first author from your hometown to have an international release, etc. Be sure to include any personal experiences that lead the author to write this book. End by defining who will be interested in this book, i.e. describe your market.
Again, bear in mind that this is not an exercise in marketing, simply provide a straight account of the facts. The tricky part is doing this in such a way that it sounds appealing. The press release will typically have an “about the author” sheet and a page of advance praise attached. It’s on these two sheets that the author or material is unabashedly hyped up. Note: the author page and critical commentary pages do not have to be full “pages.” You are simply putting together what you have available in the best light.
Usage: The press release will be your work horse. Include it with every review copy, interview copy, or press packets going to media outlets. E-mail it to the e-reviewers. Have copies available for download on your site—this has a very “official” air about it, for whatever reason. Give it to bookstores and libraries interested in more info about a specific title. Publishers should make sure the author has a copy. Authors who are doing their own promo should make sure the publisher has the release at their disposal. Also, the press release is never finished, as it should be updated every time there’s a new development regarding your title. Your book just got translated into another language? Great! Make sure a new release goes out letting everyone and their mother know about it.
In the end, creating a press release only makes sense. If you can’t organize a page worth’s talk about your book, then how will you be prepared to discuss it? Having a press release on hand adds a professional appearance, letting everyone know they are dealing with a serious author. Most importantly, nobody will ever read the book if they don’t know it exists. Making the press release is only a fraction of the incredible effort you’ve already exerted on writing the book, but it is—more often than not—the most crucial writing of the whole process.
current mood: enthralled
current music: Where Angels Fear to Tread by Metallo & The Fixer