How to write a gripping news release for your new book

This is me writing a news release in 1947. Just kidding.

In my day job as communications director for a pair of tall ships, I write a lot of news releases, mostly announcing where the ships will be and when. Our non-profit company has no money for advertising, so we depend on local TV stations, newspapers, and bloggers to help us get the word out. I’m assuming that you, as an independent author, have little or no funds for a full-scale publicity campaign. Some of the techniques I’ve learned can help you get the attention of editors for your new book. You start with the tried-and-true of answering the basic questions: Who, what, when, where, how, and most importantly, why.

Who: Tell the editor who you are in one paragraph, sticking to facts relevant to your book. What other books have you written? How long have you been writing? What makes you qualified to write this book?

What: Tell the editor about your book in a single paragraph. What is the title? What is a one-sentence summary of your book? What is its genre? How long is it? What are the other books in the series?

When: The time elements of your news release take two forms, those related to the release of your book, and those related to promotional events, such as signings or readings. When will your book be available for purchase? When will you appear for author signings? (“Where” is also important for the latter element.)

Where: Again, this focuses on promotional and sales elements of your books. Where will it be available, physically and online? In the case of an author appearance, what’s the name and address of the venue?

How: In most cases, you can get away with leaving out an answer to this question, EXCEPT if you have an interesting story to tell about how you came to write the book. For example, if you spent a year in a monastery to learn about wine-making, that’s an interesting “how I did this” fact to include.

Why: The most important thing you can tell an editor is why he/she should care about your book. What’s unique and different about it? And more importantly, what’s unique and different about you as an author?

Now you have a few ideas to get you started writing a news release for your new book. In the future, I’ll flesh out some of these ideas, and include a few sample paragraphs. Stay tuned!

What’s your favorite tip for writing a news release?

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