There's always discussion amongst authors about ways to promote their books. People get caught up in blogs, facebook author pages, twitter posts, forums, etc., etc.
Long before those methods, there were press releases. Although the technology has changed to make disseminating press releases easier and faster, it's still a valid way to promote your work. And most writers/authors overlook it.
Got a new book coming out? Press release. Win an award? Press release. Doing a book event? Press release. Just like in the days of yore.
Only you can determine who should get your press release depending on your demographic, subject matter, location, etc. That can be a lot of work, toiling over your laptop, emailing incessantly - as you should send these emails individually and not in a group blast. Nonetheless, it's necessary.
Today's press really want short and sweet press releases. They want the information to the point, no more than a few paragraphs. And attach your cover art in a small jpg. Don't clog their in boxes. Many newspapers and media outlets are short-staffed. If your release is too long, they won't take the time to read it. A lot of section editors will just paraphrase your release into a few short sentences and put it in the "Notes" section. Press is press - be happy.
Here's my latest press release as an example: http://www.1888pressrelease.com/cambridge-books-releases-a-new-suspense-novel-by-k-s-brook-pr-325497.html
I used that example because now you have an idea of what it looks like if you use a free press release distribution site to send out your press release. Actually, I used a number of them. Here is a list of free press release distribution sites for your use. Some of them require a free membership, some of them don't. But as you navigate their pages, be careful. Of course they are going to try to sell you a better package than the free one you want.
http://pressexposure.com/ (300 word minimum)
http://www.i-newswire.com/ (300 word minimum)
The only problem with keeping a press release very short is that it may not meet the 300 word minimum instituted by two of the above sites. So, when I do my next release, I'll merge the two together and send that out through i-newswire and pressexposure.
These sites don't replace emailing your release to newspapers and periodicals. But they will send your news out all over the place - and they usually yield good results in Google. And all for free.
K. S. Brooks is an award-winning novelist, and author of 6 books.