3 Steps to a Successful Press Kit
Publicity can be a wonderful marketing tool. Imagine talking about your book on a local morning show, getting a mention in the city paper or having your book reviewed by a popular website. Many authors strive for these publicity opportunities but find them difficult to attain without first sending a press kit. Luckily, every author can build his or her own press kit to communicate with the media. Follow our steps to build a strong press kit, and in turn build strong relationships with media professionals and a strong platform for selling your book.
Step One: Build
News directors and editors get many, many press kits a day; and they may only give a few seconds of attention to each one. They don’t have time to read long, flowery sentences or irrelevant facts. Press kits need to be short, sweet and to-the-point. Tailor your press release to what the news directors at specific organizations would be most interested in hearing.
To better your chances at media spotlight, be a perfectionist with grammar and spelling. One grammar mistake or typo can make a news editor send your press release to the trash can in an instant.
Generally a press kit includes a press release, an author bio and an information sheet.
- Press release. Consider what stories make it onto the news. They always have a “hook,” or an aspect that makes them particularly interesting to certain audiences. They are timely and local. Most news stories are about something that happened in your town yesterday, not in another country three months ago. Some news directors only skim press releases, so it pays to put your most important information first. Professional publicists organize press releases by putting the most interesting and unique facts first and the least interesting facts last to give the releases a better chance of being liked by the news directors who read them. If you want help creating a professional and effective press release, we can help. Check out our publicity services.
- Author bio. The author bio should make you seem intriguing to the particular audience to whom you’re marketing. For instance, you can reveal your lifelong love of baking if you’re marketing a cookbook. It would be best, however, to not mention it if you’re marketing a historical fiction. Keep it professional. Strive to make it reasonably short; cut out information that doesn’t relate to your book or make you stand out from the crowd.
- Information sheet, or sell sheet. Important facts to showcase on your sell sheet include your book’s publication date, price, word count, available formats, purchasing information and selling points. Organize the information clearly. Have separate headings for different types of information, and use bullet points to help news editors quickly find the information they want. Add an image of your book cover to make the information sheet more visually-appealing. Add other images only if you believe they will add to the sheet’s professionalism and general message.
- Optional Materials. The two most important words to remember when creating your press kit are these: stand out. Additional press kit elements can help you do just that. For instance, attach a few eye-catching photos that could be used in an article. A picture of your book cover, a headshot of yourself, or a photo of you at a book signing can help an editor envision what your finished story could look like. Consider including a mock question-and-answer interview or a short article about your book. These make it easy for news directors to quickly turn your story into a full article. Be creative and professional with the elements of your press kit. Make it unique to yourself as an author and to the book you’re working to promote.
Step Two: Send
Make a list of all the media outlets you’d like to contact. All forms of media can be useful in building your marketing platform, so consider websites, blogs, local magazines, local radio stations, online radio shows and any other organizations that have the potential to boost awareness about your book.
Though many news organizations still accept press releases by snail mail, emailed press kits get seen by editors more quickly and easily. In fact, some editors prefer to receive only electronic press kits.
Write a polite, friendly and personalized message to each news organization. Keep the message no longer than a paragraph, and be sure to reference all attachments. Your attachments should include your press release, author bio, information sheet and any additional pictures or informational documents. All attachments should be in a format easily opened by the editors. Most organizations should be able to open text in the form of Microsoft Word documents and images in the form of JPEGs.
Step Three: Follow-up
When searching for media attention, it’s important to follow up with a news organization after you’ve emailed your press kit. A news editor can be easily distracted with late-breaking news or an oncoming deadline, so a friendly call or email can be a good reminder. Ask if they have any questions regarding your information, and make sure they were able to open all files attached with the press kit email.
Persistence is important to achieving publicity. News editors take many things into consideration when deciding which stories will become news. Even if you have a flawless press release and have an intriguing book concept, a heavy news day can ruin your chances of getting publicity. If you’re not picked for an interview, it doesn’t mean you and your book are unmarketable. Focus on building a positive relationship with news organizations, and opportunity will knock. To see Westbow Press authors who have already received media attention, view our Author News page.
When you are lucky enough to garner media attention, use it to your advantage. Promote not only your book, but also your website, social media accounts and future book signings. After your moment in the spotlight, continue to use the publicity in your other marketing efforts. Talk about it on Facebook and post your news on your website. When potential readers see that you are newsworthy, it will add to your credibility as an author and help to strengthen your brand.