Author writes press release and needlessly distributes it globally

The glorious press release! Bastion of a legacy system of promotion that was (nearly) entirely dependent on the print media. Yet, we still use this antiquated system, complete with the strictly adhered to format. I am not going to go into that format here, there is a good description here on PRLog (which coincidentally has a free and paid release distribution service).

How do you know when to use this medium, and when to ignore it?

In point of fact, the answer is quite simple – deceptively so. You only put out a press release if you have something genuinely newsworthy to say. Re-read that a couple of times before we move on to what that means.

The fact that you have written a book is not newsworthy. I know it seems like it should be – it was a lot of work, and is a huge accomplishment! It is certainly newsworthy to your friends and family, but presumably they already know. So, I implore you; do not ever put out a press release with a headline that reads something like, “AUTHOR PUBLISHES SECOND BOOK”.

“But Katherine”, you say, “I have seen this done, I know it is done.” There was a time when publishing a book was a rare and noteworthy thing, so yes, this was done. It probably is still done by folks who are in the habit of doing so or who merely do not know any better. I can assure you, it does not sell books.

**Note – The exception to the rule above (there are exceptions to every rule) is when you are pitching to a local publication (or blog). Your small town media may in fact care that you have published a book, as that makes you somewhat of a celebrity compared to many.

Some clues to help you identify a newsworthy event or article you can relate back to your book:

  • Does your book tie-in, in some way, to a hot topic in the news – war, financial strife, etc?
  • Did you have to do something remarkable in order to write the book?
  • Does the book have a relation to some event taking place in the near future?
  • Are you, or is the topic of the book, a famous person?
  • Does the book benefit a cause or charity (bonus if that cause or charity is already in the news)?
  • Do you mention a historic event for which there is an upcoming anniversary?

Here is where I think people in the book business can get confused; you do not need a press release in order to pitch your book to reviewers, bloggers, or most online media sources. You do need to know why they should feature you. If they are a book review site, you will ask them for a book review, of course. This does not require a press release. It does require that you have your ducks in a row with respect to knowing why they should be interested in your book. This means you research their website, and try to give them something useful. The internet is all about reciprocity, after all. They need content, you have content, so tell them why they want your content specifically.

If you do decide to put out a press release, you have two choices in how to get it picked up. 1) Do a lot of homework, and find the names and email addresses of the media you wish to pitch (or purchase a list of contacts from a reliable list vendor) or 2) Use a free or paid distribution service (such as PRLog which I mention above).

Disagree with me or need clarification? Comment below and I will be happy to discuss!


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