Press or media kits are important to any author’s marketing plan. Whether mailed or available online, press kits should contain some basic materials with a little room for creativity. An effective press kit will make things easy for the media and can get an author valuable media attention.
Most authors think of press or media kits as a set of materials they mail to newspaper reporters, radio and TV hosts, or other media people. While physical media kits are still used, they require authors to track down the media experts to mail the materials or the media person to request the information, so an online media kit is also important since it allows the media to view the materials immediately and make a decision about giving you media attention. As a result, authors should make a media kit an integral part of their websites.
Following are basic guidelines for what belongs in a media kit, whether in physical or online form, and ways to make the media kit’s contents effective.
Required Media Kit Content
- 1. Book Cover Image. Make sure your book cover image is high resolution so it can be used in print or on the web. It should only be the front cover, not the full cover.
- Author Photo. Again, make sure it’s high resolution. It should also just be a headshot, not full body. You want a photo that appears like you are looking at the viewer so you are up-close-and-personal. Be professional—make sure your book conveys the image you are trying to promote with your book.
- Book Synopsis. A one-page summary of your book’s content. Often the copy from your back cover, two or three paragraphs will suffice.
- News Release. A professional press release that announces your book’s release, giving some information about it as well as basics such as title, publisher, ISBN, your website address, and publicity contact information. Even though media people might be getting this information off your website, make sure your website address is on the news release in case they print it and then need to find your site later.
- Author Bio. Your bio needs to be concise, not rambling. Provide information relevant to your book and your career as an author. You can mention your spouse and kids or your hobbies in one sentence, but there’s no need to give us a paragraph about your interest in quilting if your book is about divorce law, or tell us about your role as a soccer mom if you’re writing mystery novels. Limit it to just a few short and to the point paragraphs.
- 6. What Others Are Saying/Endorsements. Endorsements are quotes from other authors, magazines, newspapers, experts in the field, or book reviewers that state how much they enjoyed and would recommend your book. Each endorsement should only be a few lines and give the person’s name, title, and affiliation (such as the name of the TV or radio show he’s on, or his book title.
- 7. Sell Sheet. Although similar to a press release, your sell sheet is just that—a sheet that sells your book. It contains basic information about your book such as price, title, ISBN as well as stating where the book is available—bookstores, online bookstores, your website, and book distributors so people know how or where to purchase it. Feel free to include graphics such as your author photo and your book cover. An example can be found at www.IreneWatson.com
Additional Physical Kit Materials
- A Cover Letter. Make sure you address it to the media person (newspaper reporter, radio host etc.), and make all attempts to personalize it with the appropriate person’s name, as well as a reminder of your conversation if you spoke to the person prior to sending the materials.
- Folder. You want your media materials to be neatly packaged, not all loose in a manila envelope and falling out when the envelope is opened. Put them in a new and neat looking folder, but also a folder that will be quickly recognizable as yours. You can design and print special folders with your book cover on them, or some authors simply have overruns done of their book covers and then paste copies of the cover onto the front of a folder. The point is to make your folder stand out and be highly visible so it won’t get lost on someone else’s desk and buried under piles of paperwork, and if it does, it will be easy to find again. Plus, it will provide branding and a professional image that sets you apart from other authors.
- Your Book. It doesn’t hurt to send an actual copy of the book if you are mailing the press kit. Most media people won’t have time to read your book but the chance to spend five minutes looking at it might be a deciding factor in your getting a cover story or interview.
Additional Online Materials
Note that all of these materials, including the required materials listed above, should be downloadable on your website.
- Website Page. Obviously, you need a website if you’re going to have your media kit online. The important thing is to have your media kit be a link that is clearly visible on your website—one of the key pages of the site—so it is quickly accessible and viewable. You can then include all your contents on your Media Kit page so it is easily downloadable. Again, an example can be viewed at www.IreneWatson.com, which also includes all the other items I’ve mentioned in this article.
- Your Book Video. If you have a book video, it should be available to view, but also available for download. For example, a TV show may want to use a clip from it, so make it easily accessible and avoid the extra work of dealing with sending it via CD or flash drive, which can easily be lost.
- Banners. Especially if the media person is online, whether it’s a blogger, an online radio show, or some other website that promotes authors, having a website banner the media can upload and display on its home page to feature you and your book gives you that extra boost of professionalism and will make the media’s website look good as well.
- Your Book. While you might mail a copy, obviously you don’t want to put a downloadable copy of your book on your website, but you could put up sample pages with a statement that a physical or pdf copy of your book is available by request through mail or email to legitimate media people.
Follow the guidelines above, but also be creative (within reason). One author I know had the word “bones” in her title so she sent bone-shaped cookies out with her press kit. You could certainly send bookmarkers or a pen with your company logo on it. Just remember to be tasteful and ask yourself whether you personally would want to receive these items or if they will just be dismissed as junk and tossed away. Remember that media people are very busy and don’t want to wade through a lot of non-essential information.
An effective media kit will get you the press you need to make your book a success. If you haven’t done so already, make it a goal to have a press kit page on your website within the next thirty days.
Irene Watson is the Managing Editor of Reader Views, where avid readers can find reviews of recently published books as well as read interviews with authors. Her team also provides author publicity and a variety of other services specific to writing and publishing books.