A press release is a news or feature story that a newspaper can use without charge on a slow news day. Newspapers that are printed on paper have to fill up the page. If they don’t have enough news, there’s what’s called a “hole” or a blank spot on the page. A press release is also called “filler” because it can be used to fill holes.
At the Examiner, we don’t have “holes” but we still have slow news days. My column is about books. I can only review two or three books a month, but I’m allowed to publish up to five stories a day in this column. In between reviews, I publish press releases. If the story has a star rating, it’s a review. If it doesn’t, it’s a press release, or a story that the author sent to me.
Every author should have a press release about their book to send to reporters like me, or to book blogs. When the story is already written, and just needs to be edited to fit the paper’s or blog’s style, it makes life easier on everyone. The reporter or blogger gets something to publish, and the author gets a little promotion.
Yet, many authors tell me they don’t have a release, and don’t know how to write one. Here is a simple outline I use.
- What the book is about. If it’s fiction, this is called a blurb or summary. Include the genre, violence and sex level rating (sweet, mild, hot, steamy, erotic) because some readers want to know that.
- Quotes from the author about what inspired the book, what need it meets, who would want to read it, or what it can be used for.
- The author’s publishing credits, qualifications and college degrees as it relates to the book. If the book is nonfiction, the reader wants to know about the author’s experience in that field. If it’s fiction, they want to know how many other stories they’ve published, or awards they have won.
- The average star rating on Amazon, if available.
- Quotes from reviews, including the person’s name and where it was published. If you don’t have reviews yet, ask your friends, coworkers, beta readers or other authors for quotes. They don’t have to be famous, but they should look like they know what they are talking about.
- Purchase information; ISBN, binding, price, where to buy it.
- The author’s web site, social media contacts, or where the reader can get more information.
In addition to that, the author needs to attach a picture of the cover that is sized bigger than 250 pixels wide.Amazon doesn’t want reporters to steal pictures from their web site.Amazon complained to The Examiner about this, and the solution was to change the computer program so that it only accepts pictures that are bigger than Amazon’s.Amazon’s pictures are 200 pixels wide, so our pictures have to be a minimum of 250.
Book blogs also want a picture of the author.
The story should have a headline.The difference between a headline and a title is that a headline has a verb.It should grab the reader’s attention, and make them want to read the story.A simple headline would be (book title) highlights (book’s setting or characters).Other verbs that are good for book stories would include depicts, discusses, features, or shows.The headline should call attention to the most important element in the book.
When the author writes the story, they keep the copyright, and can send it to as many papers and blogs as they want to.When a reporter writes the story, they keep the copyright, and the author must get their permission to send it out again.
Press releases can also be submitted to a press release service that reporters subscribe to.A list of those services can be found at http://www.vitispr.com/blog/free-press-release-sites/
(c) Paula Hrbacek. Please link to the story instead of reprinting it.