If you're a self-publisher, you need a media kit that works for your particular books. Let's look at what goes into a media kit for indie authors and poets.
Self-Publishers! Does your media kit get the job done? If the answer is no, you’re not alone. Upon conducting an honest review of their media kits, most authors find that their promotional package is not actually promoting them very well at all.
Authors struggle to answer two critical questions about our media kits:
1. What in the world do I put in it?
2. How am I supposed to use it?
If you’ve struggled to answer either of those questions when assembling your media kit, we have three easy steps to help you put together a media kit that rocks!
What Do I Put In the Media Kit?
Unlike most of your marketing materials, your media kit is not geared to potential readers, but to potential interviewers and book retailers. You need to tell them why this book matters to them. Will it bring readers to a blogger in an interview or review? Will people flock to a store to pick up a copy or meet the author? Consider it more like a business presentation for potential investors than a push for new readers.
A digital version (preferably a PDF) is perfect for sending on the web. A printed version is still necessary, however, for local bookstores and live meetings and events. Keep a few printed copies in your car, purse, briefcase, etc. because you never know when you’ll run into someone and want to share.
- Professional Bio. Don't forget to include contact information.
- Author Pic. Preferably, this should be a professional-looking headshot.
- Book Info. If you're promoting a recent title, have a page of information about the book. Info should include the basic info needed for a person to find the publication in a bookstore or on Amazon.com, like the full title, your name, publisher, date published, and ISBN. If possible, include a picture of the cover to add visual interest, even if it's just a black and white photocopy. Book information pages could also include reviews and endorsements, press releases, and ordering information. Always include contact information on every page.
- Other Publicity Information. If you're promoting your general writing services rather than a specific book or books, then you could include testimonials from satisfied clients, a list of past clients, media appearances, a list of your pieces and where they were published, perhaps even a few samples.
- Bookmarks & Postcards. It's hard to determine the effectiveness of flyers and bookmarks they are useful conversation starters, at minimum. Typically, they will have a book cover on one side, brief information about the book on the other. Writers promoting themselves in general (rather than a specific book) might want to include a photo of themselves instead.
- It is a good idea to put this information onto CD and keep it on your computer/laptop/iPad/Mobile device in a file so that you have it all at hand when you want to share the information. It looks so much more professional if your author press kit is neat and together.
Write your Author Bio in the Third Person
Walk the line between modesty and honesty, trying to answer the following questions:
- Where were you born?
- When did you start writing?
- What was your early inspiration?
- Do you have educational or professional experience in writing (outside of publishing your book)?
- What other books have you written (if any)?
- How has your life affected your writing voice?
Prepare a list of commonly asked questions about your book (but know that you’ll probably still be asked a lot of the same questions in interviews!). Use this tool as a means for sharing additional info about yourself and your book that’s not already in your summary, excerpts or bio. Here are a few sample questions to get started:
- Where did you get the idea for this book?
- What traits and other tidbits do you share with your main character?
- Did any of your inspiration for this book originate in your real life experiences?
- What made you decide to self-publish?
- Are there any specific authors whose writing styles or subject matter inspired your book?
- Do you have another project in the works? If so, what is it?
- When you self publish, do you do it all yourself? (Be generous with credit, it comes back to you.)
Press Release Must Answer Questions about Your Book
In a later post we'll discuss press releases, which will give you some added guidance. For now, remember that a release for a media kit should focus on the unveiling of your new work.
- What’s your book about?
- What’s your writing background?
- Why should someone want to read your book in particular?
- Who will like your book? If you are a new writer, it could be a good idea to name a few well known writers who write in the same genre, ie “If you like courtroom dramas like John Grisham, Linda Fairstein and Steve Martino you will probably enjoy my book.”
- Where can a person find a copy of your book?
- What do you have to say about your book/writing experience? (Always include quotes!)
- Where can a reader find more information about you, the author?
- You can post two or three reviews you have, especially if they are from reputable sources.
Ask Yourself Why is your Book Relevant
This is the MOST IMPORTANT question you need to answer in your media kit. Our friend @JohnBetcher shared his media kit with us, and he made the smart move of devoting a page of his media kit to this topic. The fact is, there are millions of books out there — what makes yours different? What specifically makes it relate to potential interviewers and book retailers?
Here are some questions to ask yourself when writing about the relevancy of your book:
- Does your book take place in a specific region that would make people take an interest?
- Do you cover a topic/subject matter that a lot of people can easily relate to?
- Does your book shed light on a different perspective of a common issue?
- Do you have specific experience/expertise on a topic discussed in your book?
- Is there a certain aspect of your author experience that makes the book interesting?
- Do you, the author, have a unique background different from most authors?
If you sit down and answer each of the above questions, you should have no problems compiling the essential components of your media kit. Keep answers short and to the point.
How Do I Use It?
Keep it updated.
Once you have put together your media kit with the above items, you must keep it updated! Make time in your busy schedule to look over it often (at least once a month for the first six months or so after your book launch). Update it more often if you have exciting news to share.
For example, if you get a new review from a popular blogger, add it to your media kit right away. If your eBook sales soar, write a new press release. If you receive an award or accolade for your work, by all means add it to the credentials in your bio.
Essentially, if your media kit is doing its job, you should be updating it all the time!
Have it ready.
Just like an old Western gunslinger, you should be ready to draw out your media kit on a moment’s notice. That means not only having a digital version prepared to attach in an email, but a printed version that can be dropped in the mail or handed out in person.
If you do get a request for a printed media kit, be sure that you print it on a good printer, on good paper. For mailings, you should also print a nice label and use a full size envelope so you don’t have to fold anything.
Think of sending out your media kit like sending out a resume for a job. You want to come across as professional as possible, so spring for printing at an office supply store and put your best foot forward.
Once you perfect one media kit…move on to the next one!
With each new book your release, you should create a new media kit with specific details on your new title. Pretty soon, you’ll have a fleet of publicists waiting in the wings to swoop in when you need them and promote your books.
What about you? What's in your media kit? Done anything especially useful in getting attention. Let us know in the comments below.