I was talking with a podcast host a few months ago about booking guests—how did he select his guests? Then he shared this story…
He received an email from an author who was pitching themselves to be a guest on his show. It was evident that they had not done much research to learn about the show because the email pitch was so vague.
Skeptical but still mildly interested, the host asked for additional information to see what would come back.
He received a press kit that was professional and well-written, that positioned the person as an authority. He could tell they put a lot of effort into the press kit to make it as helpful as possible to media and those who might be interested in an interview.
As a result, he booked that author for an interview.
That press kit made all the difference, putting the author in an entirely new light.
Lesson learned: Even a terrible email pitch or weak connection can turn into a huge opportunity if you have a great media kit.
A Must-Have Tool
Just so we’re on the same page, a press kit is the information an author or organization provides the press—that is, any media outlet from a blog to a newspaper to a TV show or podcast—to inform that media outlet about who they are, what they do and why they matter. It can include bios, fact sheets, press releases (if relevant), data and statistics, images, etc.
It’s everything that helps tell the story you want told.
And it’s a critical weapon in the modern author’s arsenal, making it clear why you’re the best person to talk to on your topic.
Standing Out from the Competition
So you wrote a book or are writing a book. Congratulations—but you’re just one of many. According to the bibliographic company Bowker, “ISBN registrations for self-published titles have grown more than 375 percent since 2010.”
Thanks to the digital revolution, we’re in the middle of the Information Age—which means we’re knee-deep in knowledge overload, surrounded by a noisy world, limited attention spans, and wanting-it-yesterday mentalities. Your audience needs to hear about your book, your message, and your story, but how can you cut through all the clutter?
Your press kit is a great start, helping you stand out from all those other authors in your space (very few authors actually create a press kit, and of those that do, few do it well). Done right, your press kit not only gets more publicity for your book, it also shows the media reporter, blogger, or podcast host that you are here to help them look good and produce a great story for their readers, listeners, or viewers.
Here are my top 5 reasons why you need a professional online press kit for you and your book.
1. It makes the media’s job easier.
Today’s media workers are stretched thin, always getting pulled in many different directions. Time is at a premium and a press kit saves a reporter a lot of time in research and preparation.
As a podcast host myself, I just did an interview with an author who didn’t have a press kit. I spent a considerable amount of time researching, preparing, and developing the questions I wanted to ask.
On the flip side, I’m interviewing another author next week. She has a press kit. It’s professional and informative; outlines topics she can address; has excerpts from her book as well as useful data and statistics; and includes a list of suggested questions. Super helpful—and a huge time saver for me.
The more helpful you can be, the more likely media will book you for an interview or cover your book. They will also remember that great experience you provided them and want to work with you again in the future.
Remember, this is media “relations.” It’s about building solid relationships that you can leverage not just now, but in the future, too.
2. It saves you time.
Your time is as valuable as the next person. Instead of dropping everything to draft customized materials every time a media person requests them, a press kit that is available on your website is easy to link to in a quick email.
3. It ensures accuracy in your message.
You want consistency in your brand and message, as well as the story that’s being told from media placement to media placement. A press kit can ensure this.
If someone hears you on a podcast this week, reads about you in an industry trade journal the next week, then reads a blog post about your book, you want to make sure the message they’re hearing in each place is consistent.
One of my mentors is known for saying, “Clarity attracts, confusion repels.” If there’s inconsistency in your message among media placements and in your own content, then there’s confusion. I don’t think anyone wants to push people away, so consistency is a solid policy.
4. It makes your media partners look good.
I was on a teleseminar recently with a group of authors, one of whom was a former journalist. She shared a story about an event earlier in her career where she was assigned to interview a professional athlete and only had two hours to prepare.
Not being a sports reporter or having any interest in sports, she wasn’t sure how she would handle the situation. Fortunately, the athlete’s PR representative provided a press kit. After reading through that and doing some online research, she was prepared and confident.
Afterwards, she was congratulated by multiple colleagues on how well she did in the interview. The press kit helped make her look good.
Even today, she remembers how valuable and helpful the press kit was to her as a reporter—as a result, she’s now working on her own press kit for her forthcoming book.
5. It’s a direct reflection on you and your personal brand.
I feel that sometimes people think if they have a website and a book and send out a few emails and tweets, that’s enough to succeed—to get coverage, sales, speaking engagements, the works.
Not true. Remember, you want to be helpful.
Taking the time to create a press kit is a direct reflection on you and your brand. It’s an opportunity to further position you as an expert who is professional and serious about helping the reporter, blogger, or podcast host you’re working with tell a great story, which can lead to more media opportunities.
Plus, the third-party credibility and social proof that comes with increased media coverage for your book is priceless.
When to Use It
You’ll send out your author press kit with every pitch you make to a media outlet. Inquiring about going on a podcast? Attach the press kit. Asking a blogger to review your upcoming book? Press kit. Pitching a timely related story to a newspaper or TV show? Press kit.
Basically, if there’s any sliver of a reason someone might need to know more about you, the topics you cover, why you’re an expert, and why you’re worth talking to as a professional on this subject, attach your press kit.
It’s also an excellent addition to a review package if you’re pitching trade journals for reviews—this is where the press kit comes in handy for fiction authors, even though we usually think of it more with experts in the nonfiction area; the inclusion of a well-developed press kit makes it clear that you’re taking your author career seriously.
Examples to Get You Started
Now that you know why you need a press kit, let’s talk about the how.
Here are a few examples of press kits for authors who I feel have done a great job of covering the five points above:
- Mary Valloni, Fundraising Freedom (download pdf of kit)
- Joanne Miller, Creating a Haven of Peace (download pdf of kit)
- Cardiff Hall, Tide Turners (download pdf of kit)
- Kary Oberbrunner, Elixir Project (review online press kit)
A Helpful “How-To” Resource
If you’re looking for a helpful resource that provides additional guidance on how to develop your own press kit, I’ve created a free template to make sure you’re covering the main points and including relevant content.
You can download it here.
For more on how to get media coverage, read on!
- How to Write a Press Release that Gets Attention from Reporters
- Virtual Book Tours: A Powerful Promotion Tool for Authors
Joel Kessel is a communications advisor who specializes in working with media. He helps organizations and those who have something to say—authors, speakers, thought leaders—gain clarity and confidence on how to strategically and authentically communicate and deliver their message through the media—reporters, podcasters, bloggers, influencers—so they can have a larger impact on the people they serve. Read more from Joel’s blog at http://www.joelkessel.com/