Why Every Author Needs A Media Kit
Have you ever been asked something specific about your book and had to look it up online to find it? Do you know the ISBN off the top of your head? How many pages the book has? What the publication date was?
If you’ve been interviewed by a reporter or blogger about your book or notified book sites about it, you'll have realised that you need a fair bit of information like this, and it isn’t always readily to hand.
When you're promoting your book, and talking about it regularly, it's a great idea to make that information easily available in one place for everyone who needs it.
It’s about being prepared, making life easier for yourself, and providing a great service for people looking for information about you and your book(s). The easier you can make life for someone who is willing to promote your book, the more chance you have of getting a good result.
And you do this by giving them free and easy content for their blog, podcast, or webinar.
A Media Kit
A media kit is a great way to capture all the information you need in one place. Even if you don't plan to promote to traditional media, it makes you look professional, and it captures all your information in one place. You'll find you refer to it more than you expect.
You can host a media kit on your website or blog; you can create a simple URL to send to reporters or reviewers; and you can direct people to it when they want background on you.
It's more than an about page, it needs to have specific pieces of content. Think about what bloggers and podcast hosts need when they are introducing or researching you, and how to give it to them in an easy-to-access format.
What To Include In Your Author Media Kit
Basically, you want to include everything a reporter might want to know about both you, and your book.
It isn’t just reporters, of course, it could be a podcast host you've reached out to for interview. It could be someone hosting a webinar, or looking around for guests to invite to a telesummit. It could be someone coming on your training course, a reviewer, a blogger, really anyone.
Think about your media kit as a way to package everything you would tell a blogger with an audience of 200, or a producer from Oprah.
You want easy to access information, professionally presented, and available to download should they need to. That will make them more likely to feature you or your book.
The detailed specification
Your media pack needs to include:
1. Your Author bio
Your author bio – this is generally between 100 and 150 words, a short biography of you. It needs to be short and memorable. The first part of the bio introduces you in a way that someone interviewing you would introduce you – e.g., ‘teacher and novelist’; ‘author and coach’, etc.
The second part is something that encapsulates your background and experience – e.g., ‘20 years in the military’; ‘degree in creative writing’, etc.
And then you link the experience back to your book.
Which would read something like: ‘Patricia’s experience in forensics gave her the perfect background to write page-turning murder mysteries’.
After spending two decades helping Hollywood stars lose weight, ‘Dr Michael’s health books now bring his groundbreaking ideas to the general public – without his six-figure consultation fee’.
It doesn’t have to be clever. Try asking a close friend to come up with something unique that they would use to introduce you – you might be surprised at how simple, and yet how perfect it is.
Most authors can rattle off a number of questions that people ask them all the time; everything from:
Where do you get your ideas?
How do you find the time to write?
What are your best weight loss tips?
These are what you need here.
If you you're new to this, and don't have a stack of questions to pull out, make them up. Think about what a chat show host might ask if they interviewed you. Think about what a client or a business contact asks you. Go into your background and pull up something interesting about the content of the book, or your experience.
Reporters tend to ask the same type of questions your family or friends might ask. Even if it seems a bit basic, remember you have the experience, they don't; it's about what's interesting to them.
Get those questions down -- maybe six-to-eight of them. Try to write a couple about yourself and your experience, a couple about your writing process or motivation, and a couple about your latest book.
Add in one or two about your first book if you have written a number of books.
Also consider adding a few questions and answers about your favourite topics -– for non-fiction authors this needs to be things in your books, for novelists this can be your novel(s) main themes or characters. This alone could provide fodder for a good blog post or article about you.
If you're looking for interviews or speaking, then provide interview topics instead of FAQs. A headline, and a paragraph or two of detail. Michael Hyatt does this nicely on the media kit for his book, Platform.
A good photograph (or photographs) of you – with the emphasis on 'good'! Please don't use a photo snapped with your smartphone, or on holiday. Casual is fine, but professional is essential.
Your author photo is a vital part of your book marketing toolkit, and you'll find you use it everywhere -- from your website to social media, to guest posts, to training courses.
Get a few shots done by an experienced photographer. Amateur or trainee is OK and local colleges can be good places to look if you don’t have a big budget -- many budding photographers are grateful for the experience and exposure. You can often find someone for a very reasonable cost who's willing to put in the time to get it right.
Ask to see photos they've done before so you can get a feel for style and lighting (lighting is crucial!). Choose someone who's a fit for you -- you're not trying to shoe-horn yourself into a role that doesn't fit.
You also want shots of your book. A cover picture, and then some alternative shots -- perhaps an iPad cover graphic, a neat little pile of books, you with your book, and so on.
A little variety is good because bloggers and journalists don't always want to use the shot that is seen everywhere. A choice makes it look more exclusive.
And, for images, make sure you provide downloadable versions in both high resolution and low resolution for online use and print media.
4. A Press Release
Do you already have a press release for your book?
Yes? Great. No? Write one now!
It isn’t difficult. Look around for some ideas of style and content, and start off with this format: There will be a dateline, heading, sub-heading, intro paragraph, and body, plus contact information and a URL where someone can buy the book.
The press release needs to be written with the most important information in the first couple of paragraphs and additional information in following paragraphs so that a busy reporter or editor can just cut the document if they are short of space.
Also bear in mind that your book release press release isn’t about your book. That may sound ridiculous but it’s a fact. Books are released every day, that isn’t news. The content of your book, your motivation for writing it, how specific events helped you imagine and create the book -- you need something in the story that makes it newsworthy.
News is something that’s new, original, unique, important, and/or happening now. Find that unique and current 'something' in your book, your life, or your experience that creates a publicity hook.
This distribution, with a unique URL for each release, can give you valuable SEO, social proof -– and, of course, the potential for a journalist to find and feature you.
5. Sell Sheet
The sell sheet for your book (or latest book, if you have more than one -– the other sell sheets can have their own URLs in the ‘Media Room’ on your website).
This is a one-page information sheet about your book, including all the practical information about it: book title, ISBN, number of pages, publisher, date of release, formats it is available in, places people can buy it (Amazon, Kobo, Nook, bookstores, etc.), price (optional, as this varies in different countries), and review excerpts.
It should also contain a shot of the book’s cover and, if you have one, your headshot.
We have a template you can download here.
6. A sample chapter [OPTIONAL]
You can also include a download of your book, or a sample chapter.
Be careful with this if your book is enrolled in KDP Select (Amazon’s exclusivity contract for Kindle books). You can only give short excerpts, so keep it under 10%. Choose a portion of the first chapter, or a sample from your best chapter.
For books that aren’t enrolled in Select, publicists tend to include a PDF copy of the book and ask the recipient to let them know if they would prefer it in Kindle (mobi) or ePub format.
Reviewers will want to see the full book, but it's easy enough to indicate this in the media kit:
If you'd like to receive a complimentary review copy, please contact us at....
If you are going to email bloggers or podcasters to request a guest spot or an interview, you can create a sample document with excerpts from several of your books – so you demonstrate your expertise.
How To Create Your Media Kit
Once you have written the content, create a PDF document for each of the items in the pack.
You will use these in emails to reviewers, bloggers, etc., and you will upload them directly, or link to them on your website so they are easy to find if people are writing about you.
Creating Your 'Media Room'
Think digital. You want to create a 'media room' on your website.
You do this by simply creating a page called 'Media', 'Press', 'Press Information', or something similar.
Create a link to each of the items in your media pack on this page. Then use the URL to that media page to give to reporters, bloggers, podcasters, reviewers, etc.
If you use a URL shortener plugin such as PrettyLink, you can create an easy to remember (for you and the listener!) URL for that page.
Have you ever listened to a podcast or webinar where the guest speaker is asked where listeners can find them? Often they will give a list of places: website, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Bear in mind that people often listen to content while doing other things, such as driving or working out – times when they can’t stop, whip out of a pen and jot down all the contact information.
Creating an easy-to-remember URL is better for events like these because you can also add all your contact information on your Media Room page: social media links and a contact form (better than giving out an email address because it can filter spam).
You can personalise the link to that podcast or interview, and have it redirect to your general media page. Listeners may be more familiar with your host, than with you -- so something like mywebsite.com/pam works well (if Pam is is the person interviewing you!). This give you the ability to track people who find you from that particular interview.
Over time, you can refine which podcasts and blogs bring you traffic and readers, and maximise the impact of the interviews you choose to do.
If you are interviewed live, you'll (hopefully) have the opportunity to give this URL several times, so listeners have a good chance of remembering it.
Using Your Author Media Kit
Now you've got it, make the most of it. There are four things you'll want to do regularly:
Hosting on your website and directing people to one simple URL. This also gives you SEO leverage, you are adding new content on your site that Google can find and list.
Sending to people who would be interested in it as free content, such as bloggers. Often busy bloggers will post your FAQ sheet as it is, which is great. You’ll need to set up something like Google Alerts to monitor this – set up one with your name (or pename) and one with your book title at the very least. Then you'll be notified when people use your content and you can adjust it slightly for future mailings, so the exact same text isn’t being used multiple times.
Sending to people who may be interested in interviewing you, such as: podcast hosts, webinar organisers, training course creators, etc. These people are all interested in great, free content so don’t worry about approaching them. As long as you do it professionally and politely, you won’t go wrong. They may or may not want your content or contribution right now, but they could in the future or for other projects.
Sending to book reviewers. Go through Amazon’s Top Reviewers (https://www.amazon.com/review/top-reviewers) and find reviewers who have reviewed books in the same genre as yours. Some of them have contact information on their profiles, others may include a name that you can Google to find their website. Not all accept approaches from authors so do check to see if they exclude this. If it looks like they might accept them you can send a polite contact. A friendly, short email asking if they would be willing to take a look at your book is all you need. Include the URL to your media pack in your email signature. Not everyone is willing to open attachments from strangers but, if you start a dialogue, someone may be interested enough to click through.
Don't be shy about using your media kit, and sending people over there. Maybe you could put the link on your business cards when you go to networking meetings? Maybe include it in your email signature?
You'll no doubt find all sorts of uses for your media pack -- it’s a supremely handy tool! You will probably even use it yourself. How many pages are there again in your book...?
This post was written by Michelle Campbell-Scott, author of 'PR for Authors.' Michelle is currently travelling the US and Canada with her daughter, wrangling an ancient RV and writing in the margins.
Do you have an author press kit? Is there something you can implement now? Let us know on social media...