Editor’s Note: In the past we published a list of free online news release outlets here. A few still exist, but we no longer recommend them. In place of that list we offer this news release book promotion resource for Christian authors.
A News Release Can Help You Promote your Book
Wise Christian authors are always looking for inexpensive ways to promote their book. Distributing a news release can an effective way of doing it.
In the past, creating a news release was an easy way to get news of your book out to the world. Not so today. Times have changed and Christian authors must be more creative when it comes to using news releases.
Still, you want to write a news release—or a series of them—for two main reasons:
1. You get news out about your book. You get visibility and perhaps some immediate sales.
2. You get links from your release back to your author website. An author website is key to your success, and a news release link to it is an enduring path to getting traffic and books sales.
The Essential Ingredient in Your Release
Your release must be newsworthy. Almost all authors think the release of their book is a newsworthy event, but most editors and reporters won’t see it that way.
Conscientious news people will not print an announcement. Also, they will not be interested in a news release that is really a disguised advertisement. They don’t like “advertorials”—they want you to buy an ad.
So, your book must be newsworthy. Not newsworthy in your eyes, but in eyes of the publication that receives it.
Fortunately, you can slant your release so it is newsworthy. Your method will differ depending on whether you have written a nonfiction of fiction book.
Releases for Nonfiction Books
A nonfiction book is always about something in particular. Whether, “how-to,” history, biography, science or self-help, the book speaks to a specific topic. It is far easier to get editors to accept a story that is about the topic. This is especially true for Christian magazines and blogs.
You see, you are an authority on the topic, and the topic is newsworthy. Oh, you wrote a book on the topic? That’s important, but not the main reason for the story. You’ll get good spin by talking about the topic and saying, “By the way, you can find out more about my book on my website.”
Editors are more likely to print your release if it is about a topic of wide interest. Your release can either be “hard news” or it can be a feature story. Pitch your book, but do it in a minor way.
Releases for Fiction Books
What about fiction? Well, it’s no secret that nonfiction is a better fit for publications. A new novel is not news. You need to come up with an angle that will appeal to publication editors.
Hard news about a novel is limited. You signed a three book deal with a major publisher or you just passed the 100,000 sales mark, for example. That’s hard news.
A feature story about your book is an easier idea to sell. That story is not that you released a new novel. The story is about the obstacles you overcame to write the story. Or the fact that you used your movie star grandma as the inspiration for your main character. Or that you are teaching children to write novels.
There is newsworthiness in that approach. People will want to read your novel after they know about you as a person.
Fiction authors should also contact the book editor of newspapers and magazines, especially local ones, and see if they will review your novel. Don’t forget Christian publications as well as others.
Places to Publish
Online News Outlets
You can publish your release on one of the online services. In the past, most online news release outlets were free and many were connected to Google News, so you got extra exposure because of that.
Sadly, things have changed. Now, almost all have a fee associated with them. Here is a list of places that offer both free services (with restricted features) and upgraded (paid) services. Investigate each site carefully to verify that you get the value you expect, whether free or paid.
While publishing your news release to an online news release is quick, easy and often effective, you have other choices.
Email a copy of your release to your local and regional newspapers. Don’t just send it to their “info” email address. Instead, take the time to discover the right person to send it to. For example, most newspaper editors will want to put your Christian book on their church page. Find out the name of the church page editor or reporter and send your release directly to that person.
If you your book is about a more general topic, and you want to reach wider audience, you may want to send your release to the editor of a different section. A Christian book about gardening, for example, might get more attention in the Home and Garden section of the paper. Find the name of the editor or reporter responsible for that section and send it to him or her.
Newspapers reach a broad audience. Authors often want to reach a more focused audience. One way to do that is to do a Google search and discover all the websites that deal with the topic of your book.
Once you have collected the email addresses for the sites, send them your news release.
Some will publish your news release as is, but most interested website owners will want to contact you personally. They’ll want to ask you questions so they can turn your news release into a unique blog post. That’s an excellent way to get visibility, so you want to make yourself available to people with questions.
How to Write a News Release
Editors and reports receiving your news release are expecting a certain level of professionalism. But you can do it. After all, you are a writer. First and foremost is that you offer them newsworthy content.
Beyond that, make sure it contains the conventions of a news story. Take a free mini-course that covers all aspects of writing and distributing a news release here: How to Write an Effective Promotional News Release.
Research the best news outlets for your book. Make a list that includes the publication name, name of the editor or reporter you want to reach, their email address and the date you contacted them. It’s okay to follow-up a week or so after you send the release.
Send the release. Then, check to see who published it. News release visibility can increase your book sales either in a direct or indirect way.