By Mari Selby
Marshall McCluhan said, “We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.”
Your press kit – or media kit – is a tool. It’s your chance to shape how you want to be perceived and received. Media kits are sent out along with your book to reviewers, interviewers, for possible speaking venues, or even book signings. Professionals take the time to develop a kit to demonstrate their professionalism, show consideration for the person receiving their message, and be prepared for the interviews that result. Amateurs think their book says it all and that should be enough for anyone and act as if they are the center of the media’s universe.
When you do begin to build a kit, remember that the primary purpose of a kit is to make it easy for an editor, or producer, or radio host to find and use what they need, so he or she won’t be able to pass on your pitch. Over the years, numerous Selby ink contacts have compared our kits to big publishers, and they’ve said how much the press kits help them.
Traditionally, in printed form, a media kit is held together by a paper report cover. Your books cover goes on the front as either a postcard or printout. That way, your book and media kit will not be separated from each other. In the digital form, all pieces of the kit must be a PDF. And this digital version is what goes on your website. Get creative. Find a design that is a match for your book. Some authors create video media kits.
You can be creative with the contents of each element of a kit. However, there are six essential elements to any kit, and each piece is only one page. Once you receive reviews, awards notices, or articles, these also go into the kit.
- Author Bio: Writing your bio is your chance to be seen the way you choose and the best way for an interviewer to get to know you personally. Start from where you were born and what it was like growing up in that location. Then include details from childhood challenges to adult accomplishments. Conclude the bio with a few tidbits about writing the book and where you live now.
- Curriculum Vitae or CV: Not every author needs a CV. However, if you have written anything that needs substantiation, then you will need a CV. Or if you want to speak professionally, you will need a CV. A CV lists education and work experience and your achievements, awards, honors, and publications. Even a CV is just one page with only your most current information.
- Praise Page: Praise equals endorsements or testimonials for you and your book. Reviews are published for the public. An endorsement is a few sentences; a review may be a few paragraphs. Soliciting endorsements takes time and contacts, but is worth the effort. Praise from a known writer connotes validity for your work and attracts more readers. Encouragement from family and friends is helpful. Selby ink’s rule of thumb is that you can never have too many endorsements. However, only the more well-known endorsers go on your Praise page. The rest can be placed on your website.
- Pitch Point Sheet: Some people in the industry refer to this as a sell sheet. The points included on this sheet are the core messages of your book. They can be talking points or the key elements to workshops you offer. Your book’s cover, ordering details, ISBN, and contact info also go on this one sheet. Our authors often use their pitch point sheets blown up as posters for events.
- Interview Questions: This is a list of 10 to 15 questions you can write up to cover the key points of your message. The first question is what qualifies you to write this book. The questions in between offer insights into the book that entice readers to pick up the book and inspire great interviews. The last questions include what one can learn from your website.
- Press Release: These are questions you focus on when writing a press release: What makes your message or your book newsworthy? Why should the media pay attention to you?
If you are already famous, all you need is to send out a press release as an announcement. However, if you are still building your brand and name, this is your chance to grab the attention that will develop awareness of you and your book. Then there is the question: How many press releases do you need? The first one is to announce the launch of the book. And then the next ones are capitalizing on media or awards you have received.
Editors sigh when they contrast our kits to those they receive with no media kit and barely a cover letter with, “Amateurs packages go in our circular file; however, professionals make our day by giving us what we need.”
Avoid the editor’s and interviewer’s circular file. Separate yourself from those amateurs and be noticed for your professionalism and your message. Take the time to create the best press kit you can. Then you will have a better chance at receiving the attention your project deserves. Final question: Do you have a media page on your website? If not, then create a page there today.
© March 2017, Mari Selby
MARI SELBY founded Selby ink in 1998 after working for a small publisher where she was successful in improving their sales from 20,000 books to over 100,000 books in one year. Prior to being a publicist Mari was a family therapist in private practice for almost 20 years.
Chris Hayden has been working at City Book Review since 2012, so that makes him the keeper of knowledge. He manages the office and book reviewers (all 200 of them!), which is no small feat. If you’re looking at the book reviews here, you’re seeing them because he sent the books out for review. Without him, this place would fall apart, because no one else in the office knows how to use the postage machine. Two words: job security.