Too often, we find that authors believe that the only thing they need to do to be successful is to write a good book.
Yes, writing a good book is important. It is the foundation of a career, or even simple sidegig, as an author. But there is so much more that an author needs to do in order to succeed in a field that can be as cutthroat as professional athletics.
One of those things is to be media friendly. One of the best ways to be media friendly is to have a prepared and accessible media kit.
A media kit, also known as a press kit, is a collection of information about you and your books that is geared specifically toward media, meaning it reveals only what you want media to know about you in a tone that you are comfortable with.
The benefit of a media kit is that if a blogger or other media agent is trying to find a story, they are more likely to settle on a story about you if they can gather some of that foundational information without having to reach out and then wait for a response. Heck, if a blogger or media agent can write a story filled with information without contacting anyone, they are going to think they found the goldmine of article opportunities. Look at our articles, we don’t contact anybody (see: procrastination).
So, now I expect you are sitting there going, “Awe man, I don’t have a media kit, where do I even start?” Below are the steps you need to take to get going.
First, start with the basics.
Every media kit should have some incredibly basic information…
Biography: Take the time to make this more lengthy than what you would put on the back cover of your books–enabling media outlets to have more to work with. Include information such as your education, how long you have been writing, your other interests, a brief overview of your personal history as it pertains to your work, and, if you are comfortable, where you live.
Contact Information: Here, you should be including all the ways that you are comfortable with media reaching out to ask for more information. At the very least, include an email or phone number. Other resources you can add are social media handles, a personal website, or a mailing address.
If you are agented, ask your agent if you can include their contact information in the media kit as well. They may request that you note what sorts of communication should be directed to them rather than yourself. Similarly, if you are signed with a publishing company, ask if you should include contact information for a marketing or public relations representative.
Images: Articles often have a visual component built in, even if it is just used as a featured photo that people click on to access the article. Make sure potential writers have access to images they can use–personal logos, publishing company logos (be sure you have permission), headshots, book covers, etc.
If you are not comfortable with sharing these things openly–many companies do not want to offer a logo in an easy download to protect brand standards, for instance–then include a note somewhere in the kit about who should be contacted to gain access.
“To schedule an interview…”: It is amazing how much a call to action can do. This simple clause shows a potential interviewer that you are comfortable with being interviewed (and it is amazing how many people are not), and that you expect them to want to interview you. (Psychology, people, psychology.)
Move from the main course to the a la carte section.
These things that are optional for your media kit. Add them if you feel they are relevant to you, or as you have time to add them.
Cover Letter: Add an introduction to your media kit so that it feels more personal and authentic. Talk about why you enjoy being a writer, thank them for taking the time to read your media kit, and provide a call-to-action.
Books: Include a one-page overview of each of your books. Include the cover, summary, a selection of positive reviews, and publication information (ISBN, cost, publication date, etc.)
Quotes: Include a selection of quotes from you, your agent, reviewers, editors, or other notable figures that a member of the media could work into an article.
Media Mentions: Have you had others write about you? Give a summary of longer articles, or include the full copy of smaller, one-page articles. Not only does this provide the media with more information and resources, but it adds an element of competition to your media kit ala “this person is writing about me, you’re stupid not to write about me too.”
FAQ: This is a great spot to just fill with quotable text. Answer all the basic interview questions–where you’re from, why you write, your methods, so on and so forth–making sure you are presenting yourself both succinctly and full of personality. Even if you are presenting the same information elsewhere in your media kit, you can use this place to give the media an interview with you that required no heavy lifting on their part, with the phrasing geared more toward a member of their audience than the audience of the kit.
Design the HECK out of it!
You are a professional, or hoping to be one, so act like it! If you publish a word doc in an automatic font (Arial on Google Docs, Calibri on Microsoft Word, so on and so forth) with very simple formatting… well… you don’t exactly look professional.
Ideally, you will have the ability to design something unique to yourself with a software such as Adobe InDesign. The next best option is that you have a very good friend with the ability to do this for you for free or at very low cost.
If this isn’t an option, then your next best option is to hire a graphic designer to help you create a styled media kit. There are many freelancers online that you can hire for a very reasonable price. Check sites like Upwork or Fiverr for lower cost options. You can also use local networking or instagram to find reliable freelancers that have a body of work that you feel will fit with your desired style.
The final, and perhaps most realistic, option is to use free templates. Many websites, including the popular graphic-making site Canva, offer templates for media kits. You may even be able to find a template geared specifically toward authors. Your word processor may also have a template installed that will work–either a media kit specific template or a letterhead that will at least provide a touch of elevation to your media kit.
Get it proofread. And then get it proofread again.
Make sure your proofreaders are reliable, and put those with media experience higher on your proofreading list.
Do not simply ask them to find errors: ask them if they feel your kit is missing any important information about you, or if anything seems unclear or difficult to identify.
If you have a website, put it up there. Easy! If you do not, then put something in your social media bios that invites them to inquire for your media kit. That way, they at least know they can ask and receive.
Keep it updated.
Listen, you are an amazing person who is constantly changing, releasing new books, and changing your Twitter handle as you fall in and out of love with certain puns and cultural phenomenons. Throw something on your calendar that reminds you every year to go into your media kit and verify all of the information. If you release a new book, go in and update your media kit to reflect that information.
It also isn’t a bad idea to include a separate media kit specifically for a new book that includes more information than you would include in your overall kit. These media kits should only live for a short period of time on your personal blogs–or at least tucked down low a few months after the book is released. Of course, keep it for your records in case you get a late-blooming blogger.
Congratulations! You did it!
You will never need a media kit until the moment you need a media kit. And it is a lot better to have one ready to go when you get that inquiry from a blogger than to scramble to put one together in a period of time that doesn’t tick them off and drive them elsewhere.
Three Houses Press has a slightly different media kit as a business than what you would prepare as an author, but feel free to check out our media kit located in our about section.
So get on it, you awesome writers you! Send us your kits when you are done so we can shower you with compliments! … and get some blog story ideas.