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  • Writer's pictureMaximilian Sam

Welcome To 2024 and A Guide To Writing Press Releases

Welcome back and hello 2024. We must apologise for having taken an extended break. Sometimes, even for us, real life can get in the way.


There’s been a lot to organise over the past few weeks. At least it means the foundations are in place to make the rest of 2024 run smoothly. We can hear the whispers of “wishful thinking” already!


A big thank you to everyone who downloaded the free Stray Army calendar. The response was incredible. If you didn’t get yours, please drop us a line and we’ll send one straight over.



We mentioned how busy it’s been over the past few weeks. Two of the reasons will become clear over the coming weeks. For those who watched our first appearance on the Daisy Lane Publishing podcast, we have bad news for you. They invited us back. The episode will go live soon. Keep an eye on Daisy Lane Publishing’s YouTube channel and our social media channels so you don’t miss out on seeing the chat about how marketing can influence the books we write. As before, we had great fun recording the podcast. The support from everyone involved is amazing.


We’ve also been writing a short story that’s been submitted towards an anthology. The actual publication will come out next year, but submissions are also getting their own 15 minutes of fame when they go live on the amazing Sue Bavey's blog. Our submission, The Gameshow, will go live in the coming weeks. Again, keep your eye on our social media channels so you don’t miss out. It’s also well worth visiting Sue’s blog (https://suebaveycom.wordpress.com/) to see all the other submissions.


We’ve also been working on further books which should be available later in the year. There’s a wide variety of different genres coming, so there should be something for everybody. Don’t forget you can buy the current books from the website. Whilst you’re there, don’t forget to have a look at the Stray Army merchandise, too. We’re constantly adding new designs and products. We might even give a special mystery prize to the first person who can find me on the west coast of Turkey whilst they’re wearing some of the merchandise.


A Guide To Writing A Press Release


We promised we’d give you a guide on how to write a press release. We will not give you a template for two reasons. First, there are enough of them if you do a Google search as it is. Second, if your press release is the same as everyone else’s, it’s going to be boring and will fail.


The two key areas you are trying to address with a press release are that it is interesting to a journalist, and it contains the information they need to build a story. Don’t worry about not having everything you want to say in a press release. If you’ve made it interesting with enough information, a journalist will contact you if they need more. Once we’ve given you a guide into what should be in the content, we’ll also tell you some things you should, and more importantly, shouldn’t do.


A press release should always answer the key questions. Who? What? Where? When? How? and Why? If you’ve answered all those, you’ll have got your message across and the interesting parts without even trying. To show you how it works, we’re going to use the example of the press release we used to announce the publication of It’s A Stray Dog’s Life. It comes with a bit of a warning. We’d all love to announce our books prior to publication date (as we did with It’s A Stray Dog’s Life), but it isn’t always possible. If you’re self-publishing with Kindle Direct Publishing, it’s an impossibility with paperbacks and hardbacks. Don’t worry, your book sales aren’t dictated by pre-orders. Sales grow over time. Consistent messaging and marketing will create sales. A press release is just the first tool at your disposal.


The most important line you will write is the headline. It needs to grab a journalist as interesting. Otherwise, it’s in the bin before they read anymore. Always remember, they are incredibly busy with more deadlines in a week than most of us have in a lifetime. The version we’re showing you is the one we used for the English-speaking media in Turkey. It better highlights some key things you should have in your mind.


British Ex-Pat, Maximilian Sam, Publishes First Children’s Book.


The headline has given the immediate hook of being local and relevant, whilst announcing news. A journalist will read further as it fits the type of story they write about. It means you’re already 90% towards getting your story printed.


The first sentence should reinforce the headline whilst adding key information.


Local British Ex-Pat, Maximilian Sam, will publish his first children’s book, It’s A Stray Dog’s Life, about the stray dogs he looks after on 28 February.


We’ve given more substance to the story by telling a journalist we have a children’s book coming on 28 February, the title, the concept, and the audience. It’s taken two short sentences to create and describe a story the target journalist is likely to be interested in. You will notice this headline and the first sentence wouldn’t work for the media in Hertfordshire, for example. It’s difficult to be a British ex-pat in Watford! It’s why it’s important to identify your target journalists and make the headline and first sentence appeal to them. They’re the only parts of the press release you’ll need to change. For example, we changed the headline for the Hertfordshire media to:


University of Hertfordshire Alumni, Maximilian Sam, Publishes First Children’s Book.


Obviously, the start of the first sentence changed too. We’ve now made our press release relevant to our different target audience.


The rest of the press release is straightforward. The next paragraph you’ve already written. It’s the part most authors struggle with. It’s time for the back cover blurb. If you jotted down the idea for your book before you started writing it, then you’ve done all the hard work. The back cover blurb is highlighting your book idea in two or three sentences. It’s nowhere near as scary or difficult as people seem to think. You can, as we did here, add a quick description to the blurb.


Have you ever wondered what dogs are thinking when you look at them? Now you can find out, as Princess, Buster and Snowy share their adventures. It’s A Stray Dog’s Life follows the stray dogs as we get the chance to see their lives through their eyes.


We’ve used a description of the book. Why reinvent the wheel? Especially as our back cover blurb should be our ultimate selling pitch.


We’re now on the last part. Your quote. This is the opportunity to add personalisation and any snippets you haven’t included already. If you can use it to explain why you’ve written the book and how it’s different, then it’s job done.


Maximilian Sam said, "I look after several stray dogs in our area, giving them food and taking them on walks. I’ve been able to watch how they interact with each other and humans. It’s what gave me the idea for the book. I also wanted to create something that wasn't a picture book, but also not as grown up as Harry Potter, for example. As such, each chapter is 1,000 words long with seven chapters per dog. This makes it perfect for a week’s bedtime reading about each dog."


We’ve now explained why we can write about the stray dogs from a position of expertise, and why we wrote the book in a certain way.


We’ve given a journalist plenty of information and an opening if they’d like more. Everything is there to write a piece announcing your new book.


There’s one more important area to add. It should always be titled Note To Editors. this is where you can give your own background and contact details as it's the part journalists don't print. If you don't put it in the Notes To Editors you might find your email address and phone number printed too (I’ve seen it happen).


Maximilian Sam is the award-winning author of three books. He has spent his life travelling the world, living in 10 countries so far. He now splits his time between working, writing, and looking after stray animals. You can find out more about Max at www.maximiliansam.com. If you require further information, images of the front cover of the book, or a photo of Maximilian Sam, please email xxxx or call xxxx. You can also click the WeTransfer link to download images.


We’ve now given a little background on who you are and pointed the journalist towards further information. You can, of course, attach the book cover image and photo with the press release. Please be aware, many attachments won’t make it through the email server to the journalist and could mean they don’t get the press release at all. Embedding the images doesn’t work particularly well either. Pointing out in your email cover letter you can send the images either by email or through a reputable file sharing website is far more effective.


You can also add in other details throughout a press release. If you've won an award then mention you're an award-winning author. If you've hit the bestseller chart, mention it. You can also highlight where people can buy the book, but remember you don't want to limit where people will go to find it, so be careful unless you have a plan to limit it to a specific outlet. The best solution is to have a website and direct people there. You can also offer review copies of your book, if the publication writes book reviews and you are targeting the right person.


The Ege Eye
Building Relationships Leads To More Coverage

There are some other things to bear in mind. You can send out the same press release to 1,000 places, but don’t expect it to work unless it is targeted specifically at what the publications write about. Having a short list of the key titles will give you far more chance of success and help build a relationship with the journalists you’re likely to be in contact with for a long time. A great way of increasing the chances of success is to email or call the target journalist in advance with two sentences on your news story and asking if it would be of interest. They will invariably say yes, which means they are already looking for your press release, making you stand out in what is always a very busy news schedule.


Also, remember the red lines you must never cross. We’ll even come and knock on your door ourselves if you do!! Never telephone a journalist asking if they’ve received your press release. It’s the guaranteed way to make it hit the dustbin. Journalists are incredibly busy. Wasting their time asking if they’ve received your press release will annoy them. A lot. It’s the same as contacting them an hour before their deadline. Make sure you know the print deadlines of your core targets. Giving them time to see and write up your story is the only way it will appear. It doesn’t need to get lost in the dash for hitting the ultimate deadline. Finally, target who you are sending the press release to. It’s pointless sending it to the newsdesk of a national daily newspaper unless you are already very, very famous. It won’t usurp other stories. Think carefully about where it would be most effective and use your efforts there.


Media Week
Following The Rules Can Lead To Having Some Fun Too

We hope this has been useful. It really isn’t rocket science. It takes some research and a touch of thought, but it isn’t as frightening as people seem to think.


Don’t forget to have a look at all the new merchandise, grab a couple of copies of the books, or drop us a line if you’d like a download of the calendar. You’ll see us soon on a video podcast, but until next time, bye for now.


MaxS and the Stray Army


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