How to write a press release


12 June 2024
A well-written and concise press release makes the busy journalist’s life easy, giving them all the information they need quickly and clearly. Get your press release right and you can begin creating interest, publicity and marketing opportunities for you and your book or writing project. Find out more with our guide to putting together a professional press release.

You might think writing a press release is a simple process – certainly compared to writing your story – and yet so many people ruin their chances by sending emails which end up in the trash folder almost unread.

If you’re used to writing in a more literary way, you may feel tempted to embellish your release with unnecessary verbiage, but the following tips will help you write and distribute a press release that picks up coverage.

How to write a successful press release - ten top tips

1. Start with a strong headline

The headline should be attention-grabbing and succinct, giving the readers an idea of what the press release is about.

2. Be concise

A press release should be no longer than one page and should include only more important information about the book, including the following essentials:
  • title
  • author
  • release date
  • an attention-grabbing summary of your book
What makes your book stand out? 
Why is it different?
Why is it of interest to the person you are contacting?
Here's an example of an attention-grabbing summary:
"In this thrilling new novel, a young detective races against time to catch a serial killer before he strikes again.'

If you struggle to write the summary, ask yourself what you would tell a friend first and take it from there. 

You need to do what any good news reporter seeks to do with each news piece:  answer the key questions of who, what, where and when (and why and how if appropriate).

Avoid clichés, puns, and overwriting. A press release is a factual document and not a place to show off your literary flair. Plain English is always the best option.

3. Be relevant

Make it clear why your chosen publication or journalist should be interested in your story.

4. Know your audience

Tailor your press release to the specific audience you are trying to reach. For example, if you are trying to target literary critics, focus on the themes and style of the book. On the other hand, if you are targeting readers, focus on the plot and characters.

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5. Use active voice

Use an active voice and strong verbs to make the press release more engaging.

6. Include quotes

People like people. They are generally nosy and interested in other people, so do include a quote from you. It might feel a little awkward to quote yourself, but remember that once it is in print, no one will think about the fact you wrote it yourself.

7. Proofread and edit

Journalists are sticklers for accurate language. Littering your release with spelling errors and grammatical or factual mistakes will lose your credibility.

8. End it

Type 'ENDS' under your last line to make it clear that the content for publication is ended. What comes after this is for the journalist’s information and not for publication. At this point, it is important to remember to include your contact details so they can get in touch with you for further information or to arrange photography if required.

9. Don’t send a review copy

If you send a review copy, it is likely to end up in a pile of papers on someone’s desk, so don’t waste a copy. Let them know that a review copy is available, and if they’d like to see one, they will ask.

10. Don’t pester

PR agencies are notorious for follow-up calls. ‘Just checking you got my release and whether you are going to use it?’ So if that’s what the professionals do, you should do the same, right? Wrong. It may be a controversial point in PR circles, but our advice is don't even be tempted. If a press release is suitable, it will be used. If they need more information, they will be in touch.

What can I use my press release for?

  • Regional and local newspaper coverage – and don’t forget hyperlocal blogs, too, if you have any in your area
  • Local radio interviews or even local television if there is a sufficiently strong angle
  • Upload it to the news section of your website
  • Post a link to it on social media
  • Coverage in university alumni magazines or publications from groups you belong to
  • Adapt it for use on a flyer to promote a reading you may be doing.