Considering doing a press release to promote your book? Perhaps my experiences can help. Here's what I've done and the results:
1) I sent a release through several free press release organizations. To see what I did and what organizations I used, click here to my former blog post. This was a general release about the publication of my book, but put in a newsy way that showed how it addressed some of today's issues. I didn't get any response, but did find the release posted on an Atlanta business site.
2) A month later, I sent exactly the same release through a paid service ($175) that claimed to have a targeted list. The company is Bostick Communications, who intrigued me with an e-mail advertising their services. Within 24 hours, I received over 20 responses, including a TV request, a radio opportunity, and requests from newspaper columnists and bloggers who review books.
My contact at Bostick answered my questions promptly and thoroughly prior to taking my money. Then, he approved my release and told me that they'd wait until Monday to send it, since they get less response toward the end of the week. Following the press release, Bostick alerts me via e-mail when and where my book has been reviewed.
Why the Difference?
I'm assuming that media folks don't have all day to read thousands of press releases. Thus, they ignore the stuff coming from free services and pay attention to the services they've learned to rely upon for helpful, targetted stories. That's the service that companies like Bostwick provide authors. If you wrote a book on childrearing, your press release wouldn't go to the editors at Popular Mechanics. That makes sense.
Tips from the Trenches
1. Make your press release newsworthy. Thousands of new books come out each year. Another book isn't news. "Steve Miller's Money Book Was Just Published" makes a bad headline. Try to connect your book with something newsworthy, like "New Money Book Helps Generation Y Avoid Baby Boomer's Mistakes."
2. Choose a company that can target the niche you want to reach.
3. Have an online press kit that compels the media to take you seriously (blurbs and reviews), gives them example questions and answers, and - if you're shooting for radio or TV - demonstrates that you can handle yourself in that arena. Link the news release to your online press kit. (Example: Here's my press kit.)
4. Realize that sending out review copies can be expensive. If someone half-way around the world offers to review the book, make sure it's worth it to you. It may cost $14 or so. If you're limited by a budget, you could almost send 5 copies via media mail within the USA for that amount.
5. Make the most of your results. I got a book request from two book review bloggers who had a very little traffic to their blogs. (An Alexa application tells me a site's Google Ranking as I view any site.) Was it worth sending her a book? Well, I looked at each profile to discover one worked in the legal industry and another was a home schooler. I sent each a copy for review, suggesting that the book would make a neat gift to lawyer clients and a great home school text (would she give me a blurb on the book's value to home schoolers?). Give these opportunities some creative thought to get more benefits out of each reviewer.
Any helpful advice or questions about press releases?