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The Secrets of a Press Release

There are no real secrets of a press release, just a few things most people don’t realize. Keep reading and you’ll know what, where and how to use one.

A press release is usually a single page, single-sided advertisement of your book. It should include as much information as possible without looking so busy that people can’t read it. You will need to be creative to make it stand out. Use color paper; add a photo or two that includes the image of your front cover.

When someone reads your press release, they should learn the title of your book, the contents, the cost, and a sense of why they should read it. They should also know where they can obtain a copy, and whether it’s a website or local bookstore. They can’t buy your book if they don’t know where to go. Some press releases have a dotted cutline along the bottom for a buyer to complete an address form and order a copy through the mail, enclosing a check.

A press release is an easy form of advertisement. You don’t need expensive graphic design software or pay someone to do it for you. Making a press release in Microsoft Word is simple. Even a novice computer user can write up some text, change font size and color, insert a photo or two, splash some color around, and make a fancy-looking announcement about your book.

Once your press release is complete, make sure someone else goes over it. The last thing you want are mistakes. If there are errors on your press release, people will think there are mistakes in your book. Remember, your press release is an advertisement for your book and needs to look professional.

Now it’s time to go to the printers and make color copies. Although black and white is cheaper, color will attract attention and look more professional. Here’s where you also want to consider using colored paper, but keep in mind that green-colored type won’t show up on green paper.

Next step is to do your research and figure out what organizations, groups, clubs, etc., would have a strong interest in your book. Send them your release, along with a letter or note stating you’re available to speak with the agreement you can sell your book during your lecture – maybe even sell them at a discount, but only while you’re there. Keep in mind that a lot of organizations have websites and newsletters that will publish your press release. If you belong to a group, consider doing a swap: they run your press release and you advertise their group in your newsletter.

If allowed, hang your press release at the local library, high schools, and local colleges. Think outside the box. Post them in the common areas of your condo or apartment complex, maybe at your local grocery store, movie theater, local play theater, anywhere you see other people advertising their businesses.

Send your press release out to the masses, including your local and state newspapers, and include a note that you are available for interviews and photo shoots. What most people don’t realize is that many publications will print all or part of your release free of charge. Example:

Say you’ve written a book on the Civil War. Besides sending your release to various reenacting groups, history groups, etc., do a search for Civil War publications. In the Writer’s Market alone there are nine possible magazines that might print your release; search the Internet for Civil War/History magazines and websites and the results (or hits) are in the hundreds. If you’ve written a book on the process of coloring brick, you might be hard pressed to find groups and places to send your release; that’s where out-of-the-box thinking is needed. You might start by seeing if your local home repair store or nursery has a posting board.

So, be creative, put together a professional press release, do your homework, and get the word out about your book.

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