Note: While this post contains a little bit of general knowledge I’ve gleaned over the past several years, the bulk of this information comes from a talk I heard recently by marketing genius Thomas Umstattd, Jr of Author Media. Please refer to the links at the end of the post for more information directly from the source!
Raise your hand if you’ve heard of a press kit or media kit before. Did you know it’s a great idea to have one on your website if you’re an author? Today we’re going to dive into why you want a media kit, how to make it available, and what you should include.
Why have a media kit?
The harsh reality these days is that ultimately the bulk of book promotion falls on authors. Sure, if you’re lucky, you may have a publicity team at your publisher who designs amazing social media graphics or helps you set up interviews. But that isn’t the case for most authors, and even for the ones who do have their publisher’s help, they’re still expected to help shoulder their own promotion.
How does a media kit help? Essentially, a media kit is a handy reference sheet for journalists, podcasters, bloggers, and anyone else who might want to interview you. It includes basics about you as an author and also about your latest (or next) release. When you have all that information conveniently located in one place, it conveys a crucial message to would-be interviewers: this author is easy to work with.
When they see a neatly organized, informative media kit, they know you’re someone who understands the way media works. You recognize how helpful it is for them to have all your information conveniently accessible in one place. You understand that deadlines in the media world are actual deadlines, and that when an article is due the next day or a live podcast goes on air, the journalist has to be ready to go. You’re a professional, you’ll respond quickly, you won’t be boring, and you’ll be a dream to work with.
Who wouldn’t want to interview someone like that? There’s your ultimate why – a professional media kit can help create opportunities for publicity spots, which in turn means chances to promote yourself and your work. And isn’t that what authors want? The chance to sell more books?
How do you share your kit?
Have I convinced you? Excellent. Before you dive into creating the kit, think for a moment about the best way to share it with your potential interviewers. In the past, a media kit would be a pretty, formatted downloadable pdf that could easily be printed, because most people were working with printed pages. If you’d like to see one, here’s one I made for my romance-writing alter ego Kellie VanHorn.
The problem with only having this information in pdf form is that it doesn’t copy and paste well. I made these pages in Canva, and while they look nice, the formatting gets all messed up if you try to copy and paste the text. And with many applications being digital these days, it makes sense to have your media kit available directly on a webpage.
After hearing Umstattd’s talk, I converted my pdf into a more user-friendly webpage on my other author website (take a look here). The pdf is still available as a download, in case anyone wants to print a copy out to have on hand during an interview. If you compare the two, you’ll probably notice the pdf is sadly in need of updating. *adds to to-do list* Of course, I thought the pdf covered everything until I learned more about exactly what a media kit should include. Which brings us to…
What to include
- Author bio – both a short and long version. Journalists are looking for an interesting story to tell. What can you include that might give them a unique angle?
- Head shots – both hi-res and web-friendly versions, and both portrait and landscape (make sure you own the copyrights)
- Book cover for the release you’re currently promoting (either newest or forthcoming)
- Book info or link to webpage for that specific book – publisher, page count, ISBNs, blurb, buy links (use affiliate links for Amazon if you have them!). Think about what a reviewer or podcaster might need to share and make it available.
- Optional book excerpt (or have it on the book’s page)
- Sample interview questions – just the questions, not the answers. Interviewers want fresh material, not something sitting on the web, easily available.
- Past interviews – a list of podcast episodes, video interviews, or blog interviews you’ve done in the recent past. This section is almost like a resume, giving potential interviewers a feel for what it’s like to interview you, and showing how in demand or popular you are.
- Press release for current book
- Past press releases
- Author contact information – your email, phone (perhaps a Google voice number, if you don’t want to share your personal number), social media links. Make yourself easy to reach.
You might notice I don’t have all of these on my Kellie VanHorn media kit. No phone number yet–sorry, you can’t call me to ask questions. *shrugs* I’ve never attempted a press release, so I don’t have either a current one or any past ones. *adds another item to to-do list* I also haven’t put a book excerpt up on my book’s page. But I’ve tried to include everything else, so that when I get interview requests for my July release, I can send the interviewer a link to access all the information.
And yes, I will be doing all of this again for my Kellie M. Parker pen name once I have a cover and blurb for THIN AIR. And a release date. And some new author head shots. And an updated website.
*adds 15 items to to-do list*
Guess I’ll be busy for a while. 😉
For more information, you can go straight to the source at:
Do you have an author media kit? Drop a link in the comments, I’d love to see it! Or feel free to share any tips you might have!