What's in a Press Release?

Do you even need a press release? I do and did, not only for my first book, but for each one of them. Maybe you do, too. A press release serves as a calling card when reaching out to media outlets. Press releases showcase our books, spreading the word about them, and helping expand our audience.

These days, I’m fortunate to have my publisher create my press release, but early on, I was on my own. Studying sell sheets (another name for a press release) from bigger authors was how I learned about the elements to use:

1. Headline: Short and catchy (no more than 20 words), this should grab the reader’s attention and highlight your book. Basics in a headline: Title, logline, or a quote.

2. Contact info – The usual: name, email, phone, website. Simple, right?

3. Publication Date: “For release on [date]” or simply note “For immediate release.”

4. Cover Photo: A high-resolution photo of your book cover can really add some pizazz.

5. In no particular order, this is what is typically in the body content:  Starting point – a short paragraph introducing you and your book in a compelling way. One or two sentences describing your book will do. Or you can be more creative. What do you love about your book? Think about the opening chapter. What did you do to draw your readers right in? The second short paragraph is a detailed description of the book (think: back cover copy). The third brief paragraph may include a quote from a book reviewer or a notable person endorsing the book. The fourth paragraph lists where to buy the book, or launch event details (date, time, location, contact info). Write the press release in 3rd person (no “I” or “We”).

6. Closing/Bio: Finish with a short author bio. 

Don’t take editing for granted! Make sure your press release is polished till it glows in the dark. My most successful press release was one that started out with a description of a secondary character and the inciting incident that started it all. The possibilities are endless!


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