Press Release Primer

Writing a press release can seem daunting, but with these five simple steps you can whip off a great release, and other promotional copy, in a hurry.

I often get asked about press releases and other promotional copy. What should be in a proper press release? How do I start? How do I make sure I've got all the appropriate information.

I can't claim to be an expert when it comes to news releases, but the method I have learned seems to work pretty well and, if you can't afford to hire someone to do this kind of work, might help you get past this sometimes daunting task.

This isn't my own invention. I have heard variations of it from several people, but I read it first in The Huenefeld Guide to Book Publishing (I have the Revised 5th Edition, but I believe a newer edition is available). I have added my own ideas to it, made it easy to use, and now I share it with the world.

All you need to do to produce a top-notch press release for any upcoming book is answer these 5 easy questions that correspond to five paragraphs in the release.

1) Why would someone who already has a library full of books on the same topic want to purchase this one?

In the first paragraph, you should announce the upcoming release of the book, and emphasize it's unique features. (If it has no unique features, why did you publish it???)

2) What is the exact title of the book? What is the author's name? When will it be avaliable? ISBN number? What is its Price? How can I order it?

Your second paragraph should be filled with basic information tied together without too much fluff. A simple sentence like "Book X by Author DeBook (ISBN xxxx-xxx-xxx-x) will be available on March 1, 1998 for $19.95 from DeBook Publishers. (Address or 800 number here or any other preferred order procedure should be added to this paragraph.)

3) What's in the book?

It's a pretty simple question, and after everything you've gone through so far, you should be able to answer a simple question about the basic content, style and scope of the book, don't you think?

4) What else is in the book?

After you've summarized the basic content in the paragraph above, you should mention any of the special features of this book. Does it have illustrations? What type and how many? If there are noteworthy appendices, make sure to note them. Did someone important write the foreword? This is the place to comment on it.

5) What are the author's credentials?

Discuss the author's professional status, other publications, and/or the amount of research done for the work.

Once you've got your 5 paragraph news release, you can adapt the information to fit nearly any promotional copy you'll need for that title, from back cover copy to catalog entries, simply by rearranging text, and deleting non-essential phrases and words.

Wendy J. Woudstra

Writer, editor, coder, mom. Learn more about me at

Join the Conversation

Read These Next


Are Self-Publishing Companies "Cheating"?

Are self-published authors not "paying their dues?" Are self-publishing services encouraging cheating the system? According to Brent Sampson, they are merely taking advantage of the evolution of the entertainment and business worlds.


When Characters are Real

If you are the absolute master of all your characters, you can be sure they are not real. If, however, they surprise you now and then, you might just have the real thing.


Breaking Down Publisher Guidelines - What a Writer Needs to Know

Popular opinion will vary on whether or not one should submit a "NaNoWriMo" novel to a publisher - critics tend to suggest that writers who participate in NaNoWriMo will write the book in November and start the agent/publisher search the very next month. Kathryn Lively suggests that if you believe in your book it is worth testing the water to find another person who believes in the story.