How to Write an Effective Press Release

Happy 2014 everyone. I hope your year is off to a flying start.

I’m deeply immersed in writing my mentorship novel so I’d made a commitment to myself to not start blogging again until February.

But many of my author friends are having books released in the next couple of months so I decided to do this post How to Write an Effective Press Release to help them successfully launch their new book babies into the very competitive market place.

The Purpose of a Press Release

You’re not just writing a press release to let people know you have a new book. You want them to be as enthusiastic as you are – so your press release needs to have a hook.  You need to think about what you want this press release to achieve.

Your press release will serve two definite purposes:

1.            Press Releases are supposed to make the media salivate – to make them desperate to interview the creators of this fabulous new book.

2.            Press Releases are supposed to inspire publications to want to favourably review your brand new book.

So when you draft your press release, you need to bear these two important factors in mind. You need to think about what you are trying to achieve with your press release.

PRESS RELEASE WRITING TIPS FOR AUTHORS

  1. Have a hook – why should the person you are sending the press release to want to read about your book? Why should they want to let others know about it?  A hook must have benefits and it must be relevant. Your hook should be upfront in the headline – in the same way as an advertisement.
  2. Do not use your publisher’s name or your name as a headline or sub-head – they are not selling points – they are just information. A publisher headline is not going to inspire the press to desperately seek authors and illustrators out to interview them – they need to know why they should be doing this.
  3. Be specific – Don’t use vague terms like international or bestselling author. Anyone who has ever sold an e-book could be an international author and everyone’s definition of ‘bestselling’ varies widely. If you really are a bestselling author, don’t be afraid to say how many thousand or million copies of your books have been sold.
  4. Be clear about what kind of book this is and what readership it’s aimed at. Particularly with kid’s books, a picture of the cover won’t necessarily reveal this. Being specific about this kind of information will ensure that your press release information reaches the most appropriate contact.
  5. Be relevant – if the book relates to a contemporary issue or event, say so  – and make the specific connection. For example if you are publishing a book about science and it’s the International Year of Science, then make sure you make mention of the fact in your press release.

LAYOUT

The important things should be listed first. Don’t clutter the press release with excess images. Unless you are a famous author, it will be the words you use in your press release that hook the publication/reviewer not the pictures.

Make sure your press release is clear and easy to read.

You have very few words in which to hook someone – use them wisely.

Here’s a fictitious sample press release to help you out.

PRESS RELEAS - sampleI hope you have found this post helpful.  Good luck with your new book. I hope it sells many copies.

If you have any tips for creating an effective press release, please leave them in the comments section of this blog.

Happy writing and book launching:)

Dee

THE WRITER’S JOURNEY – AND MAKING THE MOST OF IT

I’m about to get on a plane to Nevada, and attend the SCBWI Nevada writing weekend at Fallen Leaf Retreat.  So my mind has been very much focussed on my writing journey, and how I got to this exciting place in it.

When I was seven years-old, I was asked to recite my poem at school assembly, and that was the day I decided on my future career.

It took a while to get a book published, but no matter where my life has strayed, I have always been and will always be a writer at heart.

Of course a bestseller would be nice – but most of all I write because it’s an intrinsic part of who I am.

Letters to Leonardo Book CoverI was discussing this with my teen boys the other day and we were talking about goals, and how fulfilling them is what the journey is all about. My fifteen year-old wants to be a stand up comedian. My seventeen year-old is a scientist and great people person, and would like to combine these talents.

We are all different, but we realised we have something important in common – we ALL care about the world we live in, and in our own way, we want to make a difference.

This is what keeps me writing – helps me rise above rejection, battle through writer’s block and scrape the money together to do things like the mentorship I’m embarking on (although I was extremely lucky to receive a financial contribution from CAL to enable me to take up this opportunity.)

I write to make a difference in people’s lives. I write for the girl who came up to me at a school visit and said that Letters to Leonardo was the best book she’d ever read.

Hope for Hanna_CovWebI write for the boy who read Letters to Leonardo and said how great it was to find a book about someone who had a parent like his (one with a mental illness).

I write for the kids who read Hope for Hanna, and were inspired by it to raise money for a village in Uganda.

I write for kids who need a voice, for kids whose life is hard, and need reassurance that they are not alone, and for kids whose life is simple and good, but who will develop empathy from reading about kids who aren’t so lucky.

My writing journey has had many ups and downs, but they have all contributed to who I am today as a writer – and I have learnt so much along the way – not just about writing – but about making the most of the journey.

HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF THE WRITING JOURNEY

  1. Celebrate every success, no matter how small it seems
  2. NEVER compare yourself to any other writer or to their successes.
  3. Try not to dwell on the rejections, the hard times. Allow yourself to be disappointed, upset etc but move on.
  4. Always have something to look forward to – a pot at the end of the rainbow. It doesn’t have to be anything big – it could be attending a writing event at your local library, networking with another writer, sending out a new submission – anything to help you feel you are moving forward.
  5. Network with other writers – sharing a problem/experience can help diminish the pain of rejection, and it’s so much fun to be able to share good news with people who get how significant it is.
  6. Be patient – even if you’ve written a fabulous book, it could still take a while to get published.
  7. Stay true to YOUR vision for your story – listen to advice but only take on what works for you.
  8. Involve your family and friends in the journey – kids can be great critiquers, partners can be great supporters and friends can help you stay focussed (particularly writerly ones).
  9. Take risks – be prepared to step outside your comfort zone.  A few years ago I wouldn’t have dreamed of hopping on a plane by myself and going to the US.
  10.  Enjoy the ride.

MY FIRST PICTURE BOOK – AGED 11

Below are some images from the first book I ever wrote and illustrated. I think I was about 11.

I have to confess that some of the pictures were copied from a beautifully illustrated version of The Ugly Duckling . The storyline was definitely original though – it was about a duck who got her neck stretched and became a swan. (I wasn’t very well versed in biology in grade five:)

IMAG4496

IMAG4498IMAG4494 It is fun to reflect on your writing journey and look at where it all started, and where you are now. It helps you realise how far you’ve come – even though at times it might not seem like it.

If you have tips to share on how to make the most of the writing journey, please feel free to include them in the comments section of this post.

The Journey Continues

I arrive in Nevada on Thursday 24th October and while I’m there I’m going to try and blog daily about the experience and share what I learn.

Happy Writing:)

Dee

HOW TO DISGUISE THE TRUE BITS IN YOUR STORY – TUESDAY WRITING TIP

A lot of what I write is based on something that actually happened. My YA novel Street Racer was written after I read an article in the paper about someone involved in a street racing accident.

Hope for Hanna is based on real events that happened to a number of people and Harry’s Goldfield Adventure (coming out August 2010) has a factual setting, but the story is purely fictional.

My YA novel Letters to Leonardo, started with a story that was told to me by a friend, and one of the book’s characters is a person that I actually know.

SO, WHY CHANGE FACT INTO FICTION?

If you’re writing a biography or an autobiography there is no need to turn fact into fiction – in this instance, it’s best to stick to the facts.

When I wrote A Duel of Words, I had to be creative about the way I told Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson’s story, but I had to be meticulous about the factual detail.

But if you’re writing a novel and making things up about your characters, you need to change the facts because:

  • What you make up could offend or hurt someone if you name a real person.
  • Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction and people wont’ believe it. In high school I had to write a love story so I wrote about how my parents first met. The teacher’s comment was that the story was well written but ‘not credible’. (Even though it was all true).

HOW TO CHANGE FACT INTO FICTION

To me there are two steps you need to take to disguise the true bits in your story.

  1. Make the physical changes to the detail.
  2. Make the emotional changes inside you.

HOW TO MAKE THE PHYSICAL CHANGES

Letters to Leonardo is based on some real people, real events and real places. I spent a lot of time creating new scenarios, places, people and events so that I could disguise the things and people that could be recognised. Here are some of the steps you can take to hide the ‘true bits’.

  • Change names of characters and places
  • Add or remove people from the event
  • Change the setting
  • Change the time/era in which the story took place
  • Combine real events from different sources
  • Change the details of the actual event – eg a cat stuck up a tree could become a dog stuck in a drain pipe.

It’s all about using your imagination. Look at it as a challenge. How could you tell someone’s story without them recognising it? How could you tell your own story and people not know it’s you? Think of your facts as being treasure that you have to bury beneath ‘creative’ detail.

Sometimes it can help to draw up a two column table with the real events/people/names etc in one column, and the second column devoted to the ‘made up’ bits.

HOW TO MAKE THE EMOTIONAL CHANGES

I find I’m only able to fictionalise ‘true events’ in my life once I have been able to emotionally distance myself from them.

Maybe this is the same for you – maybe you need time to allow something to become a story in your mind rather than a traumatic event.

Fact can be a great basis for fiction – it’s just how you handle it.

I hope that you have found these tips helpful.

Happy writing

Dee:-)