One of the most vital items an author must have online (and optionally in hard copy) is a media kit. It contains all the information in one place that a media representative will need when preparing an interview or writing a story.
Online Media Kit
A full media kit will include at least:
• About the book (with 3 major message points)
• About the Author
• Images (Front cover JPG/Author Photo JPG)
• Press release(s)
• Prior Media (Clippings from previous media interviews, articles, audio, video)
• Scheduled Media and events
Dawn McCoy’s book, Leadership Building Blocks: An Insider’s Guide to Success received 5 of 5 stars from Midwest Book Reviews. Here is the review: “There’s always qualities that separate good from great. “Leadership Building Blocks: An Insider’s Guide to Success” is a guide for those who want to rise to the challenge of leadership with flying colors. Encouraging readers to embrace their intuition, face a bad situation down with out faltering or giving up one’s own beliefs, and use the right short cuts to get the most out of your followers. ‘Leadership Building Blocks’ is a choice pick for those who want to become the ideal leader for their company.”
A sell sheet can be created in a generic fashion and then customized to the particular use. You might have a special sell sheet for the author to sell the book to a major publisher, another sell sheet to help sell copies of a self published book to a bookstore, or a sell sheet to use at live events for individual or corporate book buyers. There are some basic elements that are part of every sell sheet, including:
• Title, author, publisher
• Date published, page count
• Retail and/or distributor availability and retail price (ex: Available on Amazon, retail price: $19.95 or Available through Ingram, wholesale price: $14.95)
• Hard cover or soft cover and anything else noteworthy (ex: Includes CD or Includes password to downloadable worksheets)
• Blurb about the core messages of the book (a paragraph followed by bulleted items is a great format)
• Photo of the author and the front cover of the book
• Author bio
The sell sheet might also have the table of contents. Sell sheets are always one piece of paper only, in full color and with content on both sides. They are intended to be used at live events but should also be downloadable as a PDF on the author’s web site, probably in the media kit. Something else that may seem small but will mean a lot to users of the media kit or author’s web site is the way you name any files that are downloadable. It isi very helpful to the user to name them with the author’s last name and/or the book title (short version) and the item name, such as SmithSellSheet.pdf or RelationshipNetworkingSellSheet.pdf.
An author should continually think about how his or her book relates to the news of the day, and she should release her own news stories accordingly. A press release should be short—a page or two at most, with a provocative headline that grabs the reader’s attention. Enticing statistics in the opening of a press release immediately communicate the magnitude of the problem or challenge the topics your book addresses. Writing should be short, pithy, and tight. In press releases, include a quote from the author, and testimonials about the author when possible.
Always include a brief author bio and all the relevant book information and ordering information, such as the ISBN, publication date, publisher, web site and contact information. Take care to optimize the key words in your press release. Any words that the media might search on to find your subject should be repeated as often as possible in the release.
Here are two recommended services to help you write and distribute press releases to the major news agencies:
• PR Web (www.prweb.com) is the least expensive way to get your press release into broad distribution at about $80 per release.
• PR Newswire (www.prnewswire.com) is the granddaddy of news release services. One of their services, ProfNet, allows experts in all fields to register their availability to journalists.
Make sure and use Google Alerts to keep track of where your author shows up and send the author an update each week.
Another important part of the media kit is to have at least ten and preferably twenty interview questions, along with the answers, on the author’s web site. This allows an interviewer to get a real feel for the author’s expertise and viewpoint to help them know whether the author would make an interesting guest for their viewers/listeners/readers.
One of the key mistakes made by authors when they talk to journalists is this – journalists (and their audiences) don’t care that the author wrote a book. They only care about how the author’s expertise can help them in their own lives. So authors should not spend much (or any) time talking about the book itself.
Typical interview questions should be about the author him or herself or controversial aspects of the topic of the book. DO NOT ask and answer questions like “What is the book about?” Instead, ask questions such as “You say there are three keys to financial independence. What are they?”
(At least 20 questions the author is prepared to answer, with the answers)
Why do we need to do business differently in the new creative economy and how can the Right-Brain Business Plan help?
Why is it important for entrepreneurs to have a business plan?
What are the top three things that stop creative types from doing a business plan?
What is a Right-Brain Business Plan? And how is it different from a traditional business plan?
You challenge the concept that a business plan has to be a stodgy, boring, traditional document. Why take a right-brain approach to business planning? What are the benefits?
Creative entrepreneurs often feel challenged by the numbers and asking for money. What suggestions do you have for them to overcome these challenges?
Being an entrepreneur often means you’re working on your own. What advice do you have for people to get support in their business?
A great way to begin the promotions process is to write short articles that can be submitted to article banks and used by ezine compilers. These articles are often used immediately, allowing you feedback and recognition for your work. The stories themselves are not a source of income, but they do appear with your bio, in which you can include your book title and information.
Accepted articles generally run from 500 to 1,000 words. “Top Ten” lists make great articles—anything with a powerful title and quick-read information such as “The five steps to becoming a top speaker,” with short paragraphs on each idea.
Visit the vast web sites on which you can submit articles. Generally, you must register on each site before you can begin to make submissions. Some of the article banks require you to format the articles in a particular way—for instance, only sixty to sixty-five characters are allowed per line.
Some of these web sites also have a word restriction on your bio, which may be limited to fifty words. Use the most powerful statements to describe you and your work, and refer to your for-sale products and your Web site. Take a look at other writers’ articles and get a sense of how to write the articles and the bios.
Here are two of the better article banks with the largest subscriber bases available for submission of nonfiction articles. Check out the individual sites for their article length requirements, and so on.
Don’t forget to publish these articles on the author’s own web site as well.
In addition to ezines, longer articles are appropriate for trade publications and newspapers. Use data that is short and to the point (like your “Top Ten” lists), and you are more likely to get the author’s name in print.
Broadcast and Print Media
Broadcast media is television and radio. When your author receives a request to be interviewed, you can help the author both with preparation and on the day/time of the interview.
Print media is newspapers and magazines. Interviews are sometimes scheduled weeks in advance or they may be scheduled in a few minutes because the story is of such immediate interest. You want to be ready to capitalize on these opportunities at a moment’s notice. Authors should always be ready to say “yes” to a journalist because helping a journalist today and making a connection means the possibility of pitching another story to that journalist in the future.
Many interviews are done last minute because perhaps the news of the day just brought the author’s topic to the public’s attention. You will be glad you had a great media kit prepared and available on the web site when a radio host asks your author to be interviewed in five minutes (this happens all the time).
The VAAs Role with the Media
1. Creating a media list, starting with local media and progressing to national media (scroll down to the bottom of this page for a downloadable Word document to help you with the compilation
2. Creating relationships with the media, especially media that covers the author’s topic of expertise
3. Sending out only those things that are news-related to show an understanding of how the media works and why your author will be a pro when given a media opportunity.
4. Getting all the relevant details on the media outlet, the producer and the show host or journalist so the speaker can be fully prepared.
5. Posting any media events on the author’s website after the fact.
6. Using social media to highlight the event before and after.
How to Create a Media List
Professional journalists use services such as Vocus or Cision to do their research on who to contact in the media, but these cost many thousands of dollars to subscribe per year, so they are not affordable for the average author or VAA. You might be able to work with a publicist to access some of these resources if you are lucky.
You are looking for as many media outlets as you can find that you think might be interested in the author as an expert to be interviewed. Your media list should include the type of media, the topic of interest and an individual contact name and email. It is not always easy to find contact information for journalists and producers because they will be deluged with requests if they are too available.
Cision is a source for creating a media list. This online version is Cision and media contacts are available online (but for thousands of dollars per year).
With a little diligence you can compile a working media list for your speaker with free resources. Here is what you are looking for and sources for finding it:
Broadcast (and all) Media
Television – look for the name and contact information for the assignments editor or section editor
Internet Public Library – list of U.S. newspapers and magazines by state and world publications World Newspapers and Magazines
Yahoo News and Media
Congress.org – media by zip code in the U.S.
TVA Productions – all sorts of media in the U.S. by type and location Radio – look for the news director or talk show producers.
Print Media – look for the editor or managing editor. There are often websites associated with print media that carry more or different stories. This is a valuable place for great stories.
TradePub – business and trade publications
Online Media Bloggers, website owners, Internet radio sites, podcasters
Media Outlets Using Twitter (US and World)
Technorati– Blog search engine
Blog Talk Radio – List of popular Internet radio shows
Preparation Before the Interview
Help the author:
* Prepare and practice the most important messages to convey
* Practice answering questions to refine your message and get comfortable with your answers (you might want to record this by phone so the author can hear the play back)
* Create lists like the “top 3 ways to connect with your audience” with stories listeners can relate to and remember. *Be sure the author is talking on a land line – not a cell phone or cordless phone or speaker phone so the sound will be clear. Disable the call waiting feature on the phone.
* Be sure the author is at a place where you won’t be disturbed and there won’t be background noise from kids, pets and doorbells.
Send the author an email with a confirmation on:
* Day and time of the interview (location, if TV)
* Who will call whom (and telephone number to call in on if the author is to call into a radio show)
* Audience demographics for the show, size of audience, if possible * Length of the interview
* If you can get a copy of the interview
Send to the Producer/ Interviewer/Journalist a Week Before the Interview (when time permits):
* Author bio
* Author and cover photo
* Five to ten interview questions the author is prepared to answer
* Fact sheet on the book including where it can be purchased
* Any major testimonials or endorsements for the book
* The author’s website URL
* The correct telephone number and a backup number in case of emergency
Once an author has done a TV, radio, magazine, newspaper or online interview, that interview can be replayed by visitors to the author’s site forever. You want to make sure and get copies of the interview or article to be available on the site and in a special media section.
Articles can be put into PDF form for downloading and/or you can link to the media site where they originated. Video and audio files can be loaded into the site so they can be seen/heard from the site (streaming audio or video) or they can also be downloaded and played from the user’s computer.
One of the best ways to get additional media is to show the media has already taken an interest in the author with these important clips.
Using PR Help
If you and the author have done all you can to ensure that you have both an audience and a book that fits them, it might be time to consider hiring a publicist to make those media connections that are beyond your reach. Publicist costs can get out of hand in a big hurry if you aren’t clear about what you want out of publicity and don’t give direction to the publicist. The author can easily spend $2,000 to $6,000 a month, and the expenses can go up from there. When you hire someone to handle publicity, you need to look for two things: experience and connections.
A full-blown publicity effort for a book might include a four-to-six-month publicity campaign, strategically outlined to obtain the most media exposure possible for the book (and the author’s business).
A publicist hired to handle such a campaign would:
• Create the PR strategy (whom you are targeting, when and how)
• Write all the materials in the media kit
• Pitch the author’s expertise and the book to his or her media contacts
• Follow up after the pitches
• Schedule interviews and handle journalist queries
Great Examples of an Author’s Media Kit:
Watch a Slidecast
Download material for your notebook