How to write a press release for your new book launch
Everything you need to know to publish a new book press release
Congratulations, you or your client wrote a book! Now you never have to write anything else, ever again. Everyone will simply hand you money, and your work here is done.
Just kidding: now you have to write a press release for the book.
"How ridiculous!" you may be screaming at your computer screen. "Edgar Allen Poe never had to write a press release for The Tell-Tale Heart. Why should I?" And while that is true, there were far, far fewer books being published in 1843, and the competition for new literature was much less fierce. These days? Approximately four million books are published each year. So yeah, your book needs a press release.
Why write a book press release?
Before we discuss how to write a book press release, let's talk about why you even have to. A book press release is about convincing journalists and media publications that this shiny new book is worth their time. Among the sea of books published each year, why is this one different? How does this book stand out from the libraries full of other books? If you can't answer this question, don't write a press release until you can.
However, while the book press release should be compelling and have a clear call-to-action for the media, it should also be short. Journalists don't have the time to sit around and read a synopsis as long as the book itself. A good book press release requires intentionality and careful planning to ensure that the journalists have the right information.
Okay, but do you need a book press release?
The short answer is: no. You don't absolutely need a book press release in order to release a book. The world will not collapse in on itself, the sun will continue to rise every morning. However, we at Prezly like to think strategically. A big part of a solid strategy is having a centralized location where people who are interested in what you're selling can find all of the pertinent information. Even if your book release strategy is going to rely heavily on, say, social media. Having a centralized location where the fans and journalists can find all the information they need is only a good thing.
Who even writes the book press release, anyway?
The author, agent, and publisher might all be playing hot potato with this task, but generally, the book PR comes from whoever is responsible for media relations. It could be the author if the book is self-published or an indie release. It could be the communications department if the author has a publishing deal that includes media outreach. It could be the author's grandmother if she's got a Windows 98 and ample time.
Really, the who of a good book PR is less important than the how. As long as the thing gets written right and sent to the correct people.
How to write a press release for a new book
Alright, onto the press release. What key elements should your press release include?
1. An interesting angle
What makes this book more newsworthy and compelling than all the other books being released? Identify this hook and write the release around it. A journalist should never be wondering, "is this news?" because you'll answer that question for them throughout the press release. Make it clear why this book isn't just a product to be sold but a story to compel the journalists' readers.
Journalists need stories. They aren't there to sell the book for you.
Having trouble thinking up a pithy one-liner to sell your story? Read the first few chapters of Save the Cat for many, many tips and examples.
2. The title
You shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but you should judge a book by its title. And its cover. Actually, judge a book by the whole book. Who am I to gatekeep how you judge things?
Anyway, a good title is key to hooking an audience.
3. A summary of the book
Unless the author is Maya Angelou or Stephen King, odds are potential readers are going to want a summary of the book. (And if this is in fact Stephen King reading this, hello, I love you.)
Writing a good book summary is an art because you don't want to give away the entire plot, but you don't want it to be so vague that people aren't interested. A great book summary differentiates a book from the rest in the genre but stays ambiguous enough to avoid spoilers.
4. The release date
Don't be Patrick Rothfuss.
Don't be George R.R. Martin.
Don't be either of their agents.
Don't make people wait 45 business years to read this book.
Including a release date in your book press release is crucial to getting media coverage. Journalistic timing is a complicated thing, and you don't want them running a story about a novel that isn't set to be released until 2045 (this is directed to Patrick Rothfuss specifically). Give the media a solid date so they can work your book into their editorial calendar in a timeframe that makes sense.
5. Book signing tour information
Obviously, this should only be included if the author isn't a fantastically mysterious antisocial shut-in who only sees the light of day to snatch the Uber Eats delivery off the porch under a shroud of darkness.
Barring that, many book authors will have a series of dates where their fans can come and have a deliciously awkward interaction with their favorite author. A great book press release will include these dates.
6. About the author
This is your opportunity to let the author shine. Give key information that journalists can use to cover the author, but keep the info relevant and interesting. Information about previous books, accolades, and social links for the author are also great to include in this section.
Some questions to ask when writing this section:
- What makes the author uniquely qualified to write this book?
- How can the author relate to the audience in a personal way?
- Does the author have a specific authority on the topic that makes this book more distinctly readable than another author who also writes on this topic?
- Can you include a fun, sassy fact that makes the author more engaging to their target audience?
7. High-quality images
A centralized place for journalists to download high-quality images of the book is just good sense. They're more likely to cover a story when they don't have to hunt down the necessary elements and assets.
At Prezly, we work with publishing companies to distribute their press releases, and beautiful images are an industry must.
This gorgeous example from Untold Publishing's book release, "A Taste of Tanzania" by Stephen Walckiers, illustrates how effective amazing images are when teasing a new story.
Prezly is fantastic for showcasing images because assets can be easily downloaded at their original high resolution – without cluttering up journalists' inboxes with massive image files.
👉 You could always try Prezly for free to see if it's a good fit for your press release-y or bloggy needs.
8. Preorder (and order) information
Who is carrying the book? Where can people find the new book? Will it be available in physical stores, or online only?
Links to all the best places to order the book reduce the friction between a customer's interest and their actually making a purchase.
Where to keep your book press release
If the book press release is just a PDF that you occasionally email to people, you're missing out. A press release doesn't have to be just a one-time bonus for your book brand. Journalists, bloggers, and reviewers don't only include newly published books in their publications and may come across your PR months or even years after the book has been released. And you don't want a professional journalist scouring your Goodreads or Amazon listing for crumbs of information.
A press release should always be housed online for the following very good reasons:
- Websites can be optimized for SEO, meaning your PR can be found by people searching for a book just like yours
- A website can be sent as a link for distribution but in such a way that your recipients' inboxes aren't clogged with your PR assets
- It's professional and flexible
- If you need to update any information, your contacts don't have a bunch of out-of-date PDFs full of misinformation floating around
Need more convincing? Find out why creating an online press kit for your book release is a solid idea.
Distributing a book press release
Alright, now that you've written the best book press release in the world, how are people going to see it?
You could print copies and tape them to electric poles around your city. While this is a whimsical and adorable idea, odds are it is an ineffective strategy if you're hoping that people outside of a 2-mile radius will purchase said literary masterpiece.
You could also buy a book publishing PR distribution list and mass e-mail a bunch of people, but this would also be a largely inefficient strategy.
Why is buying a book press release media list a bad idea?
- Like pretty much all media databases you can purchase, chances are they're terribly outdated
- Pretty much everyone and their aunt try to shortcut the process and buy media lists, so competition to get the attention of anyone on those lists is sky high
- Many journalists don't want to be on PR lists and will disregard cold-approach messages
You are better off emailing 20–30 highly curated journalists and publications with personalized pitches than 200–300 generic mass pitches that get thrown in the spam bin. This is true for both self-published authors and agents: few people ever build a good, working relationship with the media by with spamming them generic pitches.
We have a whole guide on building better media lists if you'd like to learn more about the art of creating a fantastic book release distribution list.
Now that you know how to write a fantastic book press release, where to host it, and how to best distribute it, you're ready for your bestseller to hit shelves.
And now you never have to write anything ever again.
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