~ By Heidi Hormel
A very wise newspaper editor where I worked once told me: Just tell me what happened.
What he meant was don’t get cute and literary with that story about a municipal meeting just go all Joe Friday on it and give me the facts. That’s a good way to approach a basic press release.
Press release, schmress release, you say, those are so 1990. Not so. Press releases (however they are used) have their place in promoting a book, book signing, giveaway, etc. Even if your release is never sent to a newspaper, the basic outline of a typical press release will give any reader the facts that they need in an easy to follow format.
Oh, and don’t forget, a press release is not a novel. It should be 250 words at the longest. Shorter is better.
So I promised fill in the blank, right? Well, there may be a little more to it than that but not much more. Here is the general structure of a release that can be used in a newsletter, on FB, for reviewers, etc.
I’ll assume you’ve included the contact info in the email (because who uses snail mail).
TITLE: After your contact deets and possible an email that says below is my release, place a title for the release that clearly conveys what your release is about.
Example: Debut Author Releases First Book About Love Re-ignited
FIRST PARAGRAPH: Your first paragraph should have all of the info that someone needs to have – the traditional who, what, where, and when (the why and how aren’t that important for this paragraph for a book launch or signing).
Example: Debut romance author Heidi Hormel releases “Love Ignited”* on May 14, a book that has been noted by New York Times Bestseller as “gripping and heart-wrenching.”
SECOND PARAGRAPH: Here’s a good place on how to get your book, any discounts, etc. Or for a signing, explain the location or whether an RSVP is needed.
Example: Hormel’s book is available through Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and ABC Publisher in both print and electronic formats. A special release price will be available through May 31. For more information, visit her website: HeidiHormel.dragon.
THIRD/STORY PARAGRAPH: Here’s a good place for a short (and I mean short) paragraph about the plot of the book. Depending on your own personal backstory, this paragraph and the FOURTH/AUTHOR paragraph could be swapped (Remember the inverted pyramid? The most important info goes first).
Example: In “Love Ignited,” fire-breathing dragons take human form once a millennium to find a mate. For two dragons who have fought for hundreds of years, finding out they are now mates is a little much to take, but then they have bigger problems. The two have been chosen by their clans to solve the riddle of the Sphinx to save their race and the Earth.**
FOURTH/AUTHOR PARAGRAPH: This is the brief bio space, which may be interesting but is not essential.
Example: Hormel has been named an author to watch by the RT Book Reviews and is a former astronaut who became a writer after three successful missions to the space station.
FIFTH PARAGRAPH: This final paragraph is always a re-iteration of contact info. Because this is a call to action, you want to make sure that readers are clear on what you want them to do.
Example: To purchase “Love Ignited” or to find out more about Heidi Hormel, visit HeidiHormel.dragon; her Facebook page (Heidi Hormel); or her Twitter profile (Heidi Hormel).
Easy, right? This is truly the most basic of releases, but it provides a wealth of uses because you’ve broken your material into easily read/digested bites. Take the material here and use with abandon.
However, this is a release and not the same as pitching to an editor or other media mogul to provide a full story/free coverage. That’s for another blog …
Before embarking on a life in a suburban garret w/ a recliner & a computer, Heidi Hormel was a reporter & PR flunky. Visit her at HeidiHormel(.)net; on FB at Heidi Hormel, Author; or on Twitter at Heidi Hormel.
*Try to follow AP Style if possible that means book titles in quote marks, for example.
**I write contemporary … really … not one dragon fire-breathing or otherwise.
***Hashtags or -30- are the traditional means of indicating a press release is finished. This is just the way it is, but I’m sure End of Release would work, too.