There are over ten thousand daily, weekly and monthly newspapers in the United States and Canada. For the first time author they are a valuable source of free publicity. They are hungry for news and your new book is news. When approaching these papers there is a list of things that are frowned upon and another list of things under the heading of ?don't you dare. We will examine the latter category first.
Never start your press release with the headline in all caps or in bold or underlined type. Capitalize your heading as you would a title for a book and no more. Never use a barrage of personal pronouns as you must stay in the third person. Never forget to place a summary statement just after the headline. That is a few sentences that will bait the reader so to speak. It should make them want to read what follows next in the main body. Never, never, never include any personal or contact information in the summary statement or body of your press release. Save the contact info for the last "about" section of the press release, that is what it is for. In that final section, go gently. It is ok to include such info as the projected target of your book, telephone number, web site and other contact information. A note on your credentials is ok too, that is your degrees or experience or anything that qualifies you to have written your book.
Essentially there are four parts to any good press release and they are as follows:
1. The headline: One or two sentences that describe what the news is all about. Don't get dull; if you lose the reader here you have lost the reader for good. Don't say? Author Has New Book On The Social Problems of Latinos. But rather try something like?"Fiery Latinos Who Have Found Ways to Escape the Fire in the Neighborhood." Don't worry as much about it making sense to everyone. Worry more about how it catches their attention, their curiosity or even their imagination. Most editors have played mind games with the public since the invention of op-ed science; you may as well jump in too.
2. The Summary Statement: This consists of one, two or three sentences that summarize what the body of the release is about. Here you must use phrases that offer solutions, new views, controversy, or outright absurdity. If you have written a book on how to lose weight without dieting, try something like. Author Says Diets are Dead At Last.
3. The main body: This is the meat and potatoes section of the release. Choose those finer points of your book those things that comprise the heart of the matter. Use contrasts; compare your ideas with existing ones. If you have written a novel, frame the story line succinctly from the most intense parts of your book rather that a complete overall narrative.
4. Biographical information: Stay in the third person and do not make a sales pitch. Stick to credentials, experience, qualifications, and contact information. Got a web site, use it first and all other contact info as a secondary only.
The ways commonly accepted for submitting press releases to newspapers is in transition. You will still have good results by sending faxes but it is also ok to use e-mail. Newer ways are to use news feeds but at this moment it seems that only big news gets picked up and the wires are very crowded with national and world events for the most part. It will help if you approach editors first to ask if you can send them a news release. If you're not sure how to approach them just ask which editor might be interested in your particular kind of submission. Most editors are very congenial when approached this way and as they say, get your foot in the door. All of this takes a great deal of time and only the very serious need apply for this job.
It almost pains me to say that you must check you spelling and grammar very carefully. Use a word program to write your release first then send it out. It is ok to send the same release to many papers. And it is ok to send them more than one time but you should space your submissions out over a period of several weeks not days. Try to re-word each submission if possible so as not to give the impression that you are bombing them in hope of a result. You may get shot down but don't get discouraged. Some editors will just ignore you unless you have a book on the New York Times best seller list. One other very sad thing to report is that if you have used a POD publisher or you are self published you will rarely get the attention of the major news papers. If your book creates a minor national controversy or if it should leap in sales overnight they might bend their rules.
Where do you get the lists of newspapers? Many lists exist online that will cost you nothing. You can subscribe to a media service that will provide you with huge lists of newspapers but that will cost you from two to five hundred dollars. If that is worth it to you then have at it. Remember newspapers will only put your release in once so when new things arise about you or your book send them the news.. Like anything else in the public domain, some newspapers will reject you, some will be indifferent and some will think you are the cat's meow. Hang in there, it is worth it.
Rev Bresciani is the leader of a non-denominational ministry in the New Orleans area. He has written many articles over the past thirty years in such periodicals as Guideposts and Catholic Digest. He is the author of two books available on Amazon.com, Alibris, Barnes and Noble and many other places. Rev Bresciani wrote, Hook Line and Sinker or What has Your Church Been Teaching You, published by PublishAmerica of Baltimore MD. He also wrote a book about to be released by Xulon Press entitled An American Prophet and His Message, Questions and Answers on the Second Coming of Christ. You can see more about Rev Bresciani on his own website at http://americanprophet.org