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August 22, 2013

Author Media Kit Components

by Donna Huber

Authors often hire me to create media kits for them. In the digital age it is so easy to put together a kit and every author should have one. If you are hoping to get media coverage - local news stories, magazine features, or radio/television interviews - then you need to have a media kit available before you start pitching your story.

What do you need to include in the media kit?

Cover Page
On this page you will list the title of the book or series you are promoting with this kit. It is also possible for the media kit to encompass all your work. In this case it would be just your name. For the purpose of this post, we are assuming the kit is for a particular book title or series.

Also on the title page you will want to include contact information - a telephone number and email address is best. If you are using a publicist or have someone else managing your schedule, you will want to provide their contact information.

On all the following pages you will want to have a header with your book/series title and name and in a footer your email address (in cases where the kit is printed out and passed around, it's possible that pages will get separated.)

Press Release
Even if you do not plan on using a press release on a news wire service, including a press release in your media kit can be helpful to journalists. In several news stories written for my clients, I have seen parts of my press release included. If you have a print ready "story", it is more likely for newspapers to include you. You will want to provide the basics - who? what? where? when? and how? You will want to include a couple of quotes from you. It best if you write the press release as if you are writing about someone else. PR News has some great tips you will want to check out if you are new to press releases.

More: Do you need a press release?

About You
Unless you are keeping your identity secret, include a photo of yourself. Embedding the image makes the kit look nice, but you will want to indicate that high resolution images are available. Or go ahead and attach the high resolution image as a separate file (jpeg and png are usually preferred), when submitting your media kit.

Include your biography. I recommend it being longer than a couple of sentences. Two or three paragraphs are usually good. You want to give them enough information for them to build their story or prepare an interview, but also be conscientious of their limited time.

In this section include your social media links.

About the Book or Series
Again, embedding book cover(s) in the document makes it visually appealing, but you will want to make sure high resolution file(s) is available. This is particularly important for print media.

Include a synopsis. This is not necessarily your back cover copy. Journalists are busy, yet they need to appear informed - especially for interviews. They are not likely to have enough time to read your book in its entirety; they may not even skim all of it. Your synopsis should give them enough detail that if seems like they read the book. If your kit is for a series, the synopsis can be an overview of the entire series or you can provide separate synopses.

Provide all the book information - formats available, number of pages, ISBN, release date, publisher, availability, genre, target audience, etc.

Media likes to use quotable material. Include 3 - 5 sound bites from reviews. You do not need to provide the entire review, just the best parts. Usually it is just a phrase or a sentence. IMPORTANT - correctly attribute the quote. While you can use reviews found on Goodreads and Amazon, it would be better to get bloggers or other publishing professionals (authors, editors, agents, etc) to provide the review. If you are having trouble getting reviews, then ask for just the sound bite you need. You may already have these if you included praise inside your book or on the back cover.

Awards and Honors
If you have won any writing awards you will want to include them. If you are a non-fiction writer, then awards and honors in your field should be included. Fiction authors who have won a national or international award or have received a prestigious honor should include them, even if it is not writing related.

Other Books
(Remember we are preparing a media kit for a particular title or series). Any other published works need to be included. If they are in different genres or have different target audiences, indicate it. If you write under several pen names list the titles by pen name, unless you are wanting to keep your identities secret.

Marketing Efforts
What are you doing to promote your book? Your media kit can also be used as part of your presentation to bookstores and they will definitely want to know what your marketing efforts are. Include any events you plan to participate in, if you have a national ad campaign, merchandising, book club guides, etc.

Include a links to your book trailer and any special online features in this section.

Suggested Topics/Interview Questions
Provide a list of topics you are knowledgeable about and are comfortable talking about. This list is particularly important for live interviews, speaking engagements, and when wanting to contribute an article to a publication.

You may also want to include a sample Q&A, which would include frequently asked questions. Where did you get your inspiration? What is your writing process? etc. This will help the interviewer prepare their questions and also provide quotable material.

Press Coverage/Media Appearances
If one media outlet gave you coverage, it will provide credibility and make you seem more newsworthy. If possible provide links to the stories and interviews. Guest posts on blogs can also be included in this section. Guest posts that demonstrate your ability to speak/write about specific topics are particularly important.

Are you a regular contributor to a website or been published in a magazine or organizational publication? Be sure to include titles and links if possible.

You can also include live appearances at festivals, conferences, and events where you were an invited or featured speaker.

This list does not have to be specific to your book or series.

Concluding Tips

It will take a couple of hours at least to compile this information. The press release alone may take a few hours as you revise and refine the language. If you have done a number of appearances and have not been keeping a list, then that section may take a while. Googling your name and/or book title will help you locate any news coverage or blog appearances you are unaware of or have forgotten about.

Be sure to keep your media kit up-to-date. You never know when you might need it. Media kits are useful for more than just media personnel. Festivals, conferences, and other events may request a media kit to aid in the preparation of their promotional material.

Make it easy to read. Journalists are always under deadline. When possible use lists and bullet points to draw the eye to important information. White space is important - when text is all scrunched together it can make one feel like they are going cross-eyed when reading it.

In addition to emailing your kit to interested parties, you may want to consider adding a link on your blog/website for people to download. If you use something like Dropbox, you can include your high resolution images in the folder as well. On occasion, media professionals may find you by referral. By having your media kit available online, you make it easier for them to locate all the information they need to determine if you are newsworthy or not.

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