When an author snail-mails me a new book, whether or not I’ve asked for it, I page through it to see if I can find a press release that will help me decide if I want to read it.
Nine times out of 10, the release is missing.
But if I find one and it includes seven tips from your nonfiction topic that interests me, or tells me about the wild adventure thriller your novel is going to take me on, chances are good I’ll set it aside to read later.
Seldom does a press release perform that important duty.
Too often, author press releases land with a thud. They’re boring. They lack the important details that explain what the book is about. Almost always, the author or publicist fails to include information that helps make the author make money aside from selling the book.
In my free online tutorial, “89 Ways to Write Powerful Press Releases,” I walk you all the details, step by step, on how to write a press release. It includes the 7 parts of a press release, headlines, how to use multi-media within your release, tips for photos and images, how to optimize your releases for the search engines, and what to do with your releases when you’re done writing. You’ll also see more than 30 sample releases.
I devote one of the 13 modules to press releases for authors and publishers. Each of the 89 lessons includes one reason to write a press release.
My tutorial will help you avoid these nine frequent mistakes.
Not taking advantage of the many opportunities to write releases.
Your book launch is just one of many events that warrant a press release. Others include book awards you’ve won, speaking engagements and book signings, a second edition of your book, getting a celebrity endorsement, convincing a celebrity or influencer to write the foreword to your book, library appearances and classes you’re teaching.
Depending on the importance of the news, you can also publish your release to one of the free or paid press release distribution services. My tutorial explains which services are best.
Cutesy headlines that offer no clue what the release and book are about.
The writer relies on a pun or bad alliteration to be clever but only confuses the reader. A confused reader does one thing. Leaves.
Don’t worry about writing headlines that are too long. One of the new rules of today’s press releases is that we can bypass the media gatekeepers and write for consumers, not only journalists. In my free press release writing course, I show you examples of excellent headlines that not only share valuable information but rank well in search.
Large corporations are as guilty of this sin as sole proprietors.
A B.S. quote describes how excited or honored the author is to be publishing. Readers don’t care, they want to know what’s in it for them.
Sometimes B.S. quotes are bogged down with words people don’t use in everyday conversation. They lack zing. Some quotes ramble on for four or five sentences. Use short, pithy quotes filled with emotion or helpful information.
If you can’t think of a good quote, explain why you wrote the book.
Not mentioning the target market for the book.
When I ask authors to describe their ideal readers, I often hear, “Everyone.” The bigger and broader your audience, the more difficult your marketing. Yet you can’t market to everyone.
Use your press release to let readers know if the book is for them. “This book is for senior HR talent executives responsible for teams accountable for recruiting top talent.” I borrowed that phrase, by the way, from the top of the cover of the book The High-Performance Talent Acquisition Advantage by Jeremy M Eskenazi. It’s perfect for a press release.
Not telling readers where they can buy the book.
Many authors assume that most readers will go to Amazon. But not everyone likes Amazon or ordering online. Some authors don’t even sell there.
If the book is available at your website, say so, and provide a link to the sales page. Which online retailers sell it? Some authors don’t want to tick off Amazon. So they say, “Available at major online retailers.” I think that’s too vague.
If you have a regional book, is it sold in a specific geographic area?
Make it easy for people to buy.
Failing to explain other ways the author can make money aside from single-copy sales.
Do you sell books in bulk? Are discounts available for bulk orders? Can meeting planners hire you for speaking engagements? Do you do consulting? Are you taking pre-orders? If so, say so.
My free tutorial shows you how to weave this information into the release.
No links to high-resolution photos of the book cover and the author.
Magazine editors are practically begging for high-resolution (300 dpi) images of book covers. Editors have told me that they’d love to feature books in their “New Products” section but can’t if they don’t have an image that will reproduce well. Again, a missed opportunity!
Not optimizing your press release for the search engines.
What search phrases do you want to be known for? If you live in Chicago and you’re an eldercare consultant, you might want to show up in search results for the phrase “Chicago eldercare expert.”
Choose only one or two phrases. Trying to write a press release using three or more will make you crazy.
Proofreading your own release.
When I worked at a newspaper many years ago, we printed correction after correction for wrong telephone numbers and addresses, or incorrect times for events. If your press release contains and error, and you publish the release to a free press release service, you can forget about correcting it because many free services don’t have help desks. You’re stuck with a bad phone number or web address.
Recruit a proofreading buddy. Read each other’s press releases, articles and marketing copy.
Now that you know about the nine most frequent press release mistakes, learn how to write releases that accomplish your goals. Start my tutorial at here. No opt-in required.
Proceed at your own pace. You can move through several modules in one day, or at your own pace. Have fun with press releases!
For more than 22 years, publicity expert Joan Stewart, aka The Publicity Hound, has mentored, coached and taught more than 50,000 authors, speakers, experts, CEOs and small business owners how to get thousands of dollars in free publicity and tell their stories to the world, without a $20,000 publicist.” Subscribe to her free weekly publicity tips. Joan lives (and tries to stay warm) in Port Washington, Wis.
Did you know we’ve hosted an annual Nonfiction Writers Conference since 2010? We deliver the traditional writers’ conference experience entirely online so participants from around the globe can attend. Join us for our next event!