Writing a Punchy Press Release

(as featured on my weekly Huffington Post blog)

The ideal press release will contain not only all the relevant information about your book but also a tantalising hook to grab the attention of any journalist reading it. It should be as concise as possible and no longer than an A4 piece of paper (around 500 - 700 words). Relevant information should include:

1. The headline. At its most basic, this will be - Book Press Release. But preferably something more eye-catching. Think in terms of being a newspaper reader, what would capture your imagination? For the importance of an arresting headline, check out

2. The title of your book, your name, the publication date and any reviews you may have gathered.

3. A compelling description of your book (70 - 90 words). This can be taken from the back cover copy of your book, providing it is suitably attention-grabbing and leaves the reader wanting to know more. NB before writing my back cover blurb I checked out how the big sellers in my genre did it. I suggest you do the same. Alongside this text should be a picture of your book’s brilliant front cover (click here to read my previous blog about book covers).

4. If you have timed the release of your book to coincide with any important anniversaries etc (see previous blog article on when best to publish your book), this fact should come next to give the journalist a ready-made angle.

5. Genuinely interesting information about the author. Annoyingly, it’s not enough that you have written a book - you need to show the journalist that there is something utterly unique about you, which will provide him/her with a great story.

6. The publishing company, the price, the ISBNand where your book is available.

7. Your contact details: website and email address.

Remember that a press release can be tailored to whichever journalist you are sending it to. A press release for Heat magazine should be different to that aimed at the Guardian. Research your target audience and craft the story accordingly.

I did up a special one for BBC Radio London, highlighting my love of the capital’s quirky cinemas and how I had been involved (in a very small way) in the setting up the Portobello Pop Up. This got me onto BBC radio –twice - where I was then able to chat about the quirky one-seated cinema which features in my book. NB Remember that local press and radio which be much easier to target than the nationals. 

The Advanced Information sheet (AI) (more info) is like a press release for the bookshops, giving them all the relevant details about your book – ISBN number, RRP, publisher’s logo, size and key sales points, press campaigns, etc all of which will act as an incentive for them to stock it.

An example of the layout of both a press release and an AI sheet can be found here: www.hattieholdenedmonds.com/press-release

For more detailed info, check out The Book Designer and Joanna Penn.  www.thebookdesigner.com/2011/03/how-to-write-a-press-release-a-mini-tutorial/ www.thecreativepenn.com/2009/01/13/press-release-success/