An author’s guide to crafting a newsworthy release to gain media attention for your author brand

As an author, you may not always reach out to the media with your news releases. You may not even write news releases.

Well, you should.

A well-formed, excellently crafted and strategically targeted news or press release may be the fastest and cheapest way to get your author brand in front of hundreds, if not thousands, more potential readers.

Here are a few tips and resources to help you create a winning press release for your author brand.

Read Within Your Genre

Before you write a press release for your new release, book signing event, workshop, award win, etc. read a few press releases to discover the voice and structure appropriate for you.

Here are a few examples of author brand press releases :

Never Too Hot–Or Too Old–For Romance Historical Romance Author Defies Age Stereotypes

Turning the Page on the ‘Traditional’ Book Signing

John Grisham Wins 2011 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction

For more ideas, look to sources like PRWeb & PR Newswire.

Plot It Out

Why should I care? is the question people reading your press release will ask themselves.

Before you waste your time composing a news release, determine whether or not you actually have news to release. Sending a release every time you have a new book and adopting a “buy my book” strategy is the fastest way to be ignored or marked as a spammer.

Ask yourself these questions when planning your author brand release: why should people care? Why is this newsworthy? What is the call to action? For what audience is this appropriate? Is my ego affecting my opinion of the newsworthiness of this release?

I can’t say it enough: newsworthy, newsworthy, newsworthy!

Know Your Audience:

You may have developed a newsworthy spin for your release, but, if you are planning to send this release to specific media outlets and not just post it on your website or send it to news release distribution services, you need to keep the outlet’s audience in mind.

Make sure your news release is newsworthy for each individual audience of each place you send it.

Don’t know the audience? Well, you will need to do a little research before you send anything.

Also, if you are sending your release to local media, always, always, always have a local spin.

This is a key point, because if your news release isn’t appropriate to the audience of the media you are sending it to, editors will not publish or share your information.

Format It:

The standard news or press release has a basic structure. Here is a summary:

-Try to keep your news release one page in length.

-“For Immediate Release” should be at the top of the page.

-Center your headline and display it in capital or bold letters. If there’s a chance this news release will be posted online, be sure to stuff the headline with search engine optimized keywords. If appropriate, include a sub-headline below the headline in italics.

-Authors know the importance of a book’s first paragraph. It must grab the reader, suck them in and have them wanting to read more. A press release’s first paragraph is very similar, except you should assume people will only read that paragraph, so put all the most important information into the first paragraph. Like the classic inverted pyramid journalists use to write a story, this is how you should structure your news release; most important information presented in a clear, concise first paragraph and the rest of the paragraphs are used to flesh out the details.

-Include 1-2 quotes from a source knowledgeable about the newsworthy announcement. This should be a quote of substance, something that provides inside knowledge about the news, not a platform for you to gab about how awesome you are.

-The last paragraph of your news release should be about your author brand. This is boilerplate information, like your official author bio. Keep it short, concise and only highlight the most impressive things about your author brand; best seller lists you are on, awards won, number of books published, etc.

-Always include your contact information.

Polish It Until It Shines, Then Share it!

Once you have your news release written. Proof it and polish it until it shines, then share it!

For more information on using public relations and promotions tactics to promote your author brand, check out our new book “Minions, Mind Worms and Mind-Control Rays: An Author’s Mini Guide to Marketing, PR & World Domination” coming August 2011.