Here is the Media Release I'm sending out to announce the publication of my contemporary mystery, BLEEDER. Actually, it's one of a few, as I'm targeting others for different audiences: libraries, radio stations, and so on. This is the more 'general' version suitable for newspapers. With an official issue date of August 15 (as I just learned), now is the time to send out the news so every recipient has a little lead time to process and schedule it. Some papers will run it 'as is,' some will re-write to suit their style, and others will use it as a news lead, calling me for a personal interview (I hope).
A few notes about 'releases' -- First, it should look professional and follow the usual format of a media release, with contact information up front and a release date (if time sensitive). The body ought to look like a regular news story, in format and language, without puffery or self-congratulatory statements. You have to imagine someone else - a sympathetic reporter, perhaps- writing the thing on your behalf. So it will be kindly disposed, yet have an objective tone, referring to you, the author, in third person ("I am SO excited to announce that my new book is FINALLY being published and I'm sure you'll LOVE it!" won't do).
Paragraphs should be kept very short so the piece is easy-to-read in a narrow newspaper column, without huge blocks of text that readers skip. Write an engaging opening (the 'lead'), include a brief summary of the story (something you did when you pitched the book to agents and editors already), provide purchase info and links to your web site and blog. Let media people know where to find and download .jpg photos for their coverage (a mug shot of you, cover art for the book). Include a couple of brief 'quotes' by yourself, as though someone had interviewed you for the news story. A 'kicker quote' at the very end is a time-honored journalistic technique.
Most newspapers prefer to receive "Press Releases" online and their sites might do away with all your paragraphing/formatting (Social Space blogs do that too - very annoying). That's ok. The important thing is to send it and provide a link to your web site where they can copy/paste to their liking.
At the end of the Media Release, write -30-, a symbol to indicate that the article has ended. It dates from telegraph days when reporters wired stories and ended their transmission with XXX - which is 30 in Roman numerals.
OK, here is the Media Release (without some of the italics and a few other formatting things). Copy and paste and forward it hither and yon, to thine kith and kin, maybe to your own local newspapers and radio stations, bloggers, whoever - please!
For Immediate Release
(you'd put your mailing addy and phone here)
Mystery novel BLEEDER explores higher mysteries
Novelist John Desjarlais has “the usual suspects” in his contemporary small-town mystery Bleeder: a smart amateur sleuth, a cunning villain, baffled police and colorful locals.
But in considering the mysterious death of a stigmatic priest – a priest bearing the wounds of the crucified Christ – Desjarlais explores ‘higher mysteries.’
“I don’t necessarily mean ‘religious’ mysteries,” Desjarlais explains. “Murder mysteries in general get close to our deepest motives and fears, showing humans in extremis. Such stories have a built-in opportunity to explore life's higher mysteries – not just the mystery of death, but the mystery of undeserved suffering.”
In Bleeder, classics professor Reed Stubblefield, wounded in a school shooting, retreats to a cabin in rural Illinois to recover and to write a book on Aristotle in peace. But the town of River Falls is filled with the ill and infirm -- all seeking the healing touch of the town’s new parish priest, reputed to be a stigmatic.
Skeptical about religion since his wife’s death from leukemia, Reed is nevertheless drawn into a friendship with the cleric, Rev. Ray Boudreau, an amiable Aquinas scholar who collapses and bleeds to death on Good Friday in front of horrified parishioners. A miracle? Or bloody murder?
Once Reed becomes the prime “person of interest” in the mysterious death, he seeks the truth with the help of Aristotle’s logic. But not everyone in town wants this mystery solved.
A former producer with Wisconsin Public Radio, Desjarlais teaches journalism and English at Kishwaukee College in Malta, Ill. His short fiction has appeared in a variety of magazines. A member of Mystery Writers of America, he is listed in Who’s Who in Entertainment and Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.
Desjarlais’ medieval thriller, Relics, set in Crusader Palestine, was re-issued by Thomas Nelson Publishers in May this year and is available at Amazon.com.
Bleeder (Sophia Institute Press, trade paper, 272 pages, ISBN: 978-1-933184-56-2, $14.95) will be issued August 15, 2009 and will be available at Amazon.com and bookstores everywhere.
Readers may visit http://www.johndesjarlais.com/ for reviews, photos, links related to the novel, and interaction with the author. A 30-second video trailer is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ht1OnlLnwKo.
“I wrote Bleeder as an entertaining read, a requirement of the mystery genre,” Desjarlais says. “But I hope it also leaves a reader thinking – and in wonder.”
(Some formatting stuff was lost in the copy/paste but that's ok. Please let me know if you forward this to any person, store, or media outlets so I can follow up. Thanks!)