“An hour of planning can save you ten hours of doing.” –Dale Carnegie
Dale is on the right track, but I would tweak it to say, “An hour of planning can save you an endless amount of doing — and spinning your wheels.” –Joanne McCall
Not that I’m comparing myself to Dale Carnegie, but we think alike in this way. Preparing now so you’re ready in the future just makes sense to me.
Just this past week I was attending a live Zoom event during which the presenter was describing how to pitch media by explaining that press kits are passé. Um, no, that is not true at all. But, then again, this person doesn’t work with earned media. He works more with the networks of individuals, and while that’s a type of earned media too, it’s very different from that of trained journalists and producers. The latter expect to have the pieces they need to put a story together and it’s up to you to have it all pulled together.
If you have big plans to be an influencer and a media darling, then you need to have a press kit — also called a media kit — created and ready for distribution via email, your website and various other channels depending on how they want to receive it.
The biggest reason this will save you a ton of time is because if you do the work in advance, then when the media starts making their requests from you, you can respond right away with what they need. I don’t want you scrambling at the last minute trying to find a high resolution photo and then trying to figure out if your photographer owns the picture or if you bought the copyright — among the many other scenarios that could unfold. You have better things to do with your time, don’t you? –You don’t even have to answer that; I know you do.
Putting together several effective bios consisting of various word counts, creating interview questions and topics aimed at the various markets you plan to approach, and having a book summary that is tweaked for each market you plan to approach, is just plain smart. Waiting until the media has made a request of you to actually put it together means you will never have your best material put together. It’s like waiting to write your term paper until the night before it’s due. It’s never your best work. It always takes time.
Let’s take a look at an effective media kit. What do you need to create? What will help you to land more features, interviews, reviews? Depending on your book, the subject matter, and your own personal way of doing things, media kits will vary, but there are some fundamentals that will always be necessary.
Because we live in a digital world, a website is essential. You need an area dedicated to exactly this so that anyone doing a story on your can easily find what they need. (You do have a website, right? We are way past this question, right?)
A book release spells out the benefits to the reader, includes ordering information, and contact information. The book release can be used almost everywhere.
You need a bio of various word counts since different outlets will have their own requirements. At the minimum, there are two types: One is short for an introduction and the other is longer and includes your credentials.
Make your bio interesting. Think about how you would like to be introduced by Jimmy Fallon, Ellen, or Terry Gross and write it as if they were introducing you onto the show. Make it human. Include tidbits about yourself. Your longer bio should list your accomplishments and credentials and why you are the one to have written this book. Include what incidents or experiences led you to create it. People like to read about people.
Have a great black & white and color photo of yourself. Have a high resolution version for magazines and a low resolution for websites and just about anything else. If you don’t have any yet, make an appointment for a photo session. Be sure they look professional and that you love them. Consider buying the photo so that you own it. If you want to save money and take your own photos, go look at your bookshelf and see the various head shots on the back covers and inside flaps of your books. These are great examples of headshots. It’s fine to have other pictures with interesting backgrounds on your website, but the headshot need to be very professional looking, so no busy backgrounds behind you on them.
Quote sheet and testimonials
Testimonials are from readers who love your book. Endorsements are from credible professionals within your industry. A quote sheet is a list of positive remarks media folks have said about you and your book. This often generates interest from other media because of social proof.
Links from other publications
These look great in your media room on your website. In addition to the various press materials, links to interviews you’ve done can be very helpful for generating additional media. Be sure to have videos of interviews, presentations, or ones you’ve created yourself so that others can see how you come across. You can put media logos on your homepage too so that others can see right away the kind of media who have covered you.
This tells the backstory of you, your organization, and your book. It is an excellent way to introduce yourself to media before you ever ask them to do a story. It could be in the form of a FAQ page.
Lists basic facts about your book, including the title, author, and publisher, number of pages, size, ISBN number, publication date, binding, and price. Where to get it and who distributes it. This is listed at the bottom of your book release too.
List of interview questions
Include a list of 10-15 suggested interview questions. This is a great way to have some control over the interview. Consider including the answers so that some media can easily do a copy and paste for their publication or website.
This is a list of different subjects or angles that you can speak to. You might pitch a particular story only to find the producer passes on that one, but decides to take you up on another topic that is on your list.
For some, simply using a one-sheet is enough, particularly for podcasts. I will do a post on how to create a one-sheet if you’re interested. For now, as is clear in the name, it is only one sheet with the book cover, your headshot, some interview questions, key messages or talking points, bio, and contact information. Use your hook for the title, or just after your book’s title. The hook is the thing that grabs people.
Now that you know to plan and make sure you have the basic pieces all ready to go, let’s see what November has in store for us. Here’s a look at making already published books newsworthy again by tying into one of the following events:
Veterans Day – November 11th. This is the day set aside in the United States to honor military veterans. It coincides with other holidays including Armistice Day and Remembrance Day which are celebrated in other countries that mark the anniversary of the end of World War I.
Thanksgiving – November 25. Time to celebrate the harvest with family and friends.
Black Friday – November 26. It is considered the beginning of the holiday shopping seasons for many.
Small Business Saturday – November 27. American Express started this campaign in 2010 to encourage us to shop locally at small businesses. I can’t imagine a better time for doing exactly that this year.
The entire month of November is:
Good Nutrition Month
If you have a book on nutrition, healthy foods, cookbooks, diets, exercise, or supplements, you can tie into this.
Hunger Awareness Month
Even in the wealthiest communities, there are people who need help with access to healthy food.
National American Indian Heritage Month
If you’re located in an area with a strong Native American presence, consider partnering to create programs, products, fundraisers, or other offerings to honor local Native people. You could do a book giveaway.
National Diabetes Awareness Month
This very common disorder is often treated with special diets and exercise. If your book addresses this topic, you have an opportunity to speak about this in media.
National Long-Term Care Awareness Month
If you write about our elders, this is a good time to share your knowledge and that contained in your book.
NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month
Get writing! Or, get creative with this fun celebration by offering reading and writing corners, celebrating local novelists, decorating with book covers, or otherwise making the readers and writers in your community feel welcome. It’s a chance to talk about your book in media too.
National Peanut Butter Lover’s Month
Got peanut butter? If you have a way to tie into this month with your book, I think it is needed. (Said by a peanut butter lover here.)
National Red Ribbon Month (Anti-Drunk Driving)
A book on the problems created by alcohol, getting and staying sober, etc., all become newsworthy in November.
Vegan Awareness Month
Many people have no idea what a vegan is or what they eat to stay alive. Help them discover the richness of the vegan diet by talking about your book, which might include delicious recipes and other suggestions for thriving with this lifestyle.
Remember, media isn’t just getting earned media interested in you and your book. You also have your own networks and channels which I highly encourage you to be using! Let me know if I can help.
To your success!
P.S. Hey, what a cool gift for the book lover in all of us. Using literary quotes…
P.P.S. Where would we be without some musical entertainment? It’s become a post staple. I put a spell on you…to sell tons and tons of books and become a Media Darling…now!
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