Book Marketing: Your Online Press Kit

by Joel Friedlander on March 22, 2011 · 26 comments

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When you’re launching and marketing your book it can be essential to get attention from the media. It may be big media, niche market media, trade magazines, book reviewers, book bloggers, talent bookers or any number of other representatives of print, electronic, or broadcast media.

It’s your job to make their job easy.

There are many times you’ll want to send information to media contacts. It’s become common for authors to maintain their own media kit on their website, on the site for their book, or on their blog.

It makes sense. You can point inquiries to your Press or Media page, and make available lots of information to make it easy for busy reviewers, editors, reporters or researchers to get basic information on their own schedule.

I’ve been putting together a media kit for A Self-Publisher’s Companion, and studying some of the others I’ve found online.

  1. For instance, Tim Ferris of The 4-Hour Workweek fame, has a full media kit with press release, book summary and sample interview questions. He also has a large assortment of photos of Tim Ferris to choose from.
  2. My doctor Marty Rossman just published a book with Crown, a major trade publisher. I took a look at his site for his new book The Worry Solution. In addition to photos of the author and a bio, this page is heavily weighted toward interviews. It features extensive sample subjects for 8 different interviews, and a list of 15 possible interview questions.
  3. Seth Godin’s new publishing venture, The Domino Project, has, as you might expect, a robust Press page with excerpts, Q&As, and press releases for the enterprise as a whole and each title. Their media kit is a bold and effective 9-page PDF that tells the story of Domino in a compelling style.
  4. For a self-published author with a lot of experience I took a look at Susan Daffron’s Publishize Press Page. Note that well after publication Susan went back to add awards her book had won so the press page was kept up to date and effective as a tool to sell her book.

What to Include in your Online Press Kit

You can get creative with your press kit, but keep in mind that reviewers will expect certain elements. These include:

  • A press release, usually the one you write for the book’s launch.
  • Author bio, including previous publications and qualifications to write the book. Include author’s platform information.
  • Author photo, and it’s smart to include high-resolution files for print and low-resolution for online use.
  • Book photo, with the same resolutions as the author photo.

Many other items can and are added, but keep in mind that throwing more information at people is not always a good strategy to get them to pay attention to your message. Some great additions might be:

  • Sample review. These can be very helpful to writers who are in a time crunch, and who isn’t?
  • Sample chapter
  • Interview questions
  • Photos that can be used in a story about the book or its subect
  • Reprints or transcripts of interviews about the book
  • Testimonials from early readers with authority or celebrity

The easiest way to make your press kit available is to put all the documents into a PDF or a ZIP file and put a download link to the file on your book’s Press or Media page. This page works best when it’s in your navigation, or you provide a link on the home page of your site. The idea is to make it easy to find.

I was surprised to find that a number of writers with books out right now didn’t seem to have a press kit at all. Or it may have been that it was really, really hard to find.

Since we rely on publicity and spreading the word about our work through other people’s networks, it makes sense to me to make sure your press kit is obvious and easy to download.

Links

Tim Ferris, The 4-Hour Workweek Pressroom
Seth Godin, The Domino Project Press Page
Martin Rossman, M.D., The Worry Solution Press Kit
Susan Daffron, Publishize Media Kit
Joel Friedlander, A Self-Publisher’s Companion Media Kit Page

Photo by elitatt

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    { 13 comments… read them below or add one }

    advertising business internet marketing May 2, 2013 at 9:33 am

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this post
    and the rest of the site is also very good.

    Reply

    Jenn Mattern April 23, 2013 at 6:53 am

    I used to run a PR firm where I worked with creative professionals. When I worked with musicians, they always knew the importance of a press kit. They were considered mandatory. When I worked with writers, I’d get glazed-over looks. I never understood why writers so rarely had even a basic press page available, nonetheless a full media kit.

    There are some great tips here for those looking to get one out there. But it’s missing the most important element — your media contact information. In many cases this is different from the basic email address you might include on your website. Media outlets generally expect to have more direct contact info and more options to reach you. They also expect the info right in your media kit. They don’t want to have to dig around on your website to find it.

    It’s also a good idea to highlight past media coverage. That’s especially true if you have any audio or video that you can share. It shows members of the media that you can handle being interviewed live, and it can be important if your book is on a topic where a broadcast campaign makes sense, even if just in local markets. It can also help you land interviews with podcasters. It’s not going to kill your interview chances if you don’t have this kind of thing yet. But it will make you stand out if you do.

    Something else I recommend on my blog’s list of media kit components is to include information that tells the media why they should care about your book.

    For example, it’s not enough that you have a new book. What’s the market for that book? They’ll be more interested if your target market meshes with their own. What kind of sales figures have you seen on past books, assuming this isn’t your first? It shows them that you have a built-in audience and can increase their interest in highlighting you as a result.

    If the book ties to something timely or in the news, make that clear (like one old client’s novel about modern day piracy coming out at the same time as news stories on Somali pirates). It’s not always available in your latest press release, and honestly most book press releases I’ve seen are pretty poor to begin with — too much about the book, too little about an actual news angle associated with the book. And of course you’ll want to update that periodically as timely issues and events change. A media kit is not a static document.

    Reply

    Jennifer Robin March 22, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    To my surprise, traditional media often prefers traditional press kits: hard copies sent in a folder. If they want a photo they may ask you to send a pdf directly to them even if the same image is available to download on your website. If they request a book, they want it priority mail. Keep your website updated as they gather information from that for last minute interview bookings. Some welcome follow up e-mail queries, some prefer phone calls. It depends on individual preference. Less happens electronically then I first assumed. Learning all this is just another hat every indie publisher must wear!

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander March 22, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    Great feedback, Jennifer, thanks for that. Yes, the traditional press kit is still alive and well and, since most publications are still print publications, you need to provide them with the kind of materials that work in their context. Checking the individual requirements of media sources is the best bet.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander March 22, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Here’s another link you might find useful, it’s from an article written by L. Diane Wolfe on her blog Spunk on a Stick:

    What On Earth Do I Put In My Media Kit?

    Reply

    Belinda Kroll March 22, 2011 at 9:51 am

    I have a press kit, but hadn’t thought to combine everything into one zipped folder. Thanks for the tip!

    Reply

    Derek Oscarson March 22, 2011 at 7:27 am

    Excellent article, Joel. Another good example of authors needing to think unlike authors and more like marketers and other business disciplines.

    I would also suggest making an epub media kit version. The more formats the better for self-promotion.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander March 22, 2011 at 7:59 am

    I never thought of that, Derek, although it makes sense. Have you seen press kits in ePub?

    Reply

    George Angus March 22, 2011 at 7:18 am

    Hi Joel,

    I have to admit, it never crossed my mind to put together a press kit. I think that anything I can do to promote myself as an author helps so you’ve just given me my next project.

    I’ll let you know how it goes!

    Cheers

    George

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander March 22, 2011 at 8:01 am

    Hi George,

    Glad to help out. Making it easier for people to write about you and your work just makes sense. Not only that, you can make sure they get the facts straight.

    Reply

    Michael N. Marcus March 22, 2011 at 3:17 am

    Two tips:

    (1) As the book get older, update the press kit to include such things as new reviews, bestseller status and awards. The author’s photo may have to be replaced if it is no longer realistic. The press release should no longer announce the publication. It can be more general, or have a news hook relating to an achievement, or a tie-in with an event such as a season or holiday, or the death or election of the subject of a biography, etc. You can also do a new release to announce a movie deal, translated editions, revision, and publication of other formats such as eBooks or audio books. If you have only one general release, it should not have a dateline of months or years earlier.

    (2) The kit can contain a PDF of the one-page sell sheet, which summarizes everything else and can help a busy writer, reviewer or editor. Here’s a link to one of mine: http://silversandsbooks.com/images/sell-sheet-stories-10-PDF-2.pdf

    BTW, the sell sheet should also go into every physical book sent out to possible reviewers. The back of a printed sell sheet can be used to promote other books by the same author or publisher. Sell sheets can be given out at trade shows, book signings or any venue that may generate sales or publicity. Always have some in your office, briefcase, laptop case and car. I’ve given out some to people sitting next to me on airplanes — and they bought books.

    Michael N. Marcus
    http://www.BookMakingBlog.blogspot.com
    http://www.Self-Pub.info
    — Create Better Books, with the Silver Sands Publishing Series: http://www.silversandsbooks.com/booksaboutpublishing.html
    — “Stories I’d Tell My Children (but maybe not until they’re adults),” http://www.amazon.com/dp/0981661750

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander March 22, 2011 at 8:03 am

    Thanks for the great tips, Michael.

    Reply

    Angel Stell December 13, 2011 at 12:44 am

    Hello Joel,
    I just want to say thank you for all of your helpful tips and information. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve visited your website for help on self publishing. I really appreciate that you are willing to share so much of your knowledge on this subject and all of the others with us.

    Thanks again,

    Angel Stell

    Reply

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