The 20 Rules for Writing an Effective
Press Release – An Excerpt from PUBLICIZE YOUR BOOK!
Whether you are writing the press release
yourself or simply reviewing the release written by your publicist,
you should know the rules of press release writing.
- The words FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE appear
on the top left of the page above the headline.
- Your contact name, phone number, and email
address are stacked at the upper right-hand corner of the
- Next comes the headline, in capital letters,
usually in boldface, and centered on the top of the page
to emulate an attention-getting newspaper headline. That
headline summarizes why anyone would want to know more about
you or your book, and announce some item of news interest.
This headline is not newsworthy: NEW BOOK ABOUT BICYCLES
TO BE PUBLISHED IN SEPTEMBER. This one is newsworthy: NEW
BOOK REVEALS THAT TWO HOURS OF BICYCLING A WEEK CAN REDUCE
RISK OF HEART DISEASE.
- A dateline appears at the start of the
first paragraph and also includes the location of the news
source, for example: (Charleston, S.C., July 26, 2008).
- Following the headline, the first paragraph
of the release presents the most important information about
your book. If you hide the most interesting and salient
information deep in the body of the release – then
you’ve likely lost the opportunity to capture the
reporter’s interest. Present information
in descending order of importance.
- The release should be no longer than two
pages. Use double space or at least one-and-a-half spacing.
Do not try to cheat for more space by single-spacing your
text, which makes the release hard to read. Use letter-size
- Do not use sans-serif typefaces or others
that are hard to read. Instead use easy-on-the-eye typefaces
like Times New Roman or Garamond. Do not mix different typefaces
in the same release.
- Avoid italics.
- Customize your releases for the media you are pitching. It is better to send out 10 customized pitches to targeted reporters than 200 generic releases in a mass mailing. Mention any information
of local interest in your lead paragraph. A debut book from
an author from Cleveland is of greater interest in Cleveland
- Spell every word correctly and pay particular attention to the proper spelling of names. A reviewer of the first edition of this book thought this was an obvious thing to point out. Well, you’d be surprised at the number of sloppy press releases that cross reporters’ desks. Proofread the
release several times, and verify that all information is
- Include any relevant quotes from your
book, from you or an expert in your field, that substantiate
and reinforce the topic of the release. Think of the release
as an encapsulated newspaper article, and write it as such.
Many reporters will include parts of press releases in the
body of their articles. So familiarize yourself with the
tone and style of newspaper articles to present your book
in an informative and non-hyped way.
- Don’t use exclamation marks, which gives the release an amateurish air.
- Do not use hyperbole. Avoid hyped-up words
and phrases like “destined for the bestseller lists”,
“unique”, “best ever”, and “fantastic.”
Write simply and concisely.
- Keep sentences short.
- Edit the press release ruthlessly to eliminate
redundancies or unnecessary text.
- In their book, Jump Start Your Book
Sales, Marilyn and Tom Ross offer this smart advice:
Write all your promotional materials (including your press
releases) from a benefit point of view. In other words,
clearly convey what the reader or end consumer gets out
of your book.
- After the first mention of your title
in the body of the release, include in parentheses the name
of the publishing house and the publication date.
- Book titles are conventionally written
all in capital letters.
- Names are written as Joe Smith the first
time he is mentioned, and after that, he is simply referred
to as Smith, or, formally, Mr. Smith.
- At the bottom center of the release, after
the body of the text, write -30- or ### to indicate
- At the end of the release, list the publication
date, page count, price, format (hardcover or paperback),
publishing house, and ISBN. Also include the Web site address
for the book.
Sample Press Release