Press Release Primer
by Wendy J. Woudstra
I often get asked about press releases and other promotional copy. What should be in a proper press release? How do I start? How do I make sure I've got all the appropriate information.
I can't claim to be an expert when it comes to news releases, but the method I have learned seems to work pretty well and, if you can't afford to hire someone to do this kind of work, might help you get past this sometimes daunting task.
This isn't my own invention. I have heard variations of it from several people, but I read it first in The Huenefeld Guide to Book Publishing (I have the Revised 5th Edition, but I believe a newer edition is available). I have added my own ideas to it, made it easy to use, and now I share it with the world.
All you need to do to produce a top-notch press release for any upcoming book is answer these 5 easy questions that correspond to five paragraphs in the release.
1) Why would someone who already has a library full of books on the same topic want to purchase this one?
In the first paragraph, you should announce the upcoming release of the book, and emphasize it's unique features. (If it has no unique features, why did you publish it???)
2) What is the exact title of the book? What is the author's name? When will it be avaliable? ISBN number? What is its Price? How can I order it?
Your second paragraph should be filled with basic information tied together without too much fluff. A simple sentence like "Book X by Author DeBook (ISBN xxxx-xxx-xxx-x) will be available on March 1, 1998 for $19.95 from DeBook Publishers. (Address or 800 number here or any other preferred order procedure should be added to this paragraph.)
3) What's in the book?
It's a pretty simple question, and after everything you've gone through so far, you should be able to answer a simple question about the basic content, style and scope of the book, don't you think?
4) What else is in the book?
After you've summarized the basic content in the paragraph above, you should mention any of the special features of this book. Does it have illustrations? What type and how many? If there are noteworthy appendices, make sure to note them. Did someone important write the foreword? This is the place to comment on it.
5) What are the author's credentials?
Discuss the author's professional status, other publications, and/or the amount of research done for the work.
Once you've got your 5 paragraph news release, you can adapt the information to fit nearly any promotional copy you'll need for that title, from back cover copy to catalog entries, simply by rearranging text, and deleting non-essential phrases and words.
by Wendy Woudstra