Part One of this article and points 1 -7 appear at ChazzWrites.com. For a sample media kit, please take a moment to sign up for my newsletter in the link to the right or send your email address to expartepress at gmail dot com and I’ll email the pdfs to you anyway. However, if you mention your website in the newsletter sign-up form, I’ll give your page a plug in the All That Chazz Podcast. I’m easy that way.
Now, on to more fun yet crucial points about creating a killer media kit:
8. Some people think email is easier to delete so they send boxes to media outlets. Stick with email. You’ll never hear from a bunch of the journalists you approach. Printing out a fancy press kit and trying something UPS-delivered with a red ribbon on it is not worth the expense. Better to hit them up for editorial coverage several times through the year and do it cheaply instead of betting it all on one killer package that has to hit now to pay off. Save some of your chips for the next roll. Seriously, please save your money. A document that arrives in the mail is just as easy to dump in the garbage can beside the desk. If the package is perfumed in any way, you just went from quirky and interesting to creepy stalker.
9. Unless you’ve cured cancer and have been keeping it a secret from the world’s medical community until now, don’t pay for a huge media release from a press release propagator. I tried it and, besides jumping through their annoying hoops, it had all the amusing charm of throwing money out the window of a moving car. It was expensive, had no measurable impact and their sales team kept calling until I got mean.
10. Keep the press release short and to the point. More than one page is a strain and a mistake. If you’ve got too much to share it will get lost so use it in your catalogue page. Bullet points are awesome if you can fit your content to your pitch. A solid FAQ page with lots of white space is an alluring alternative. Don’t send a video on CD. There’s a good chance the production values will be too low and they’ll also be afraid that if they watch it, they’ll die in seven days. (Give them a Youtube link instead if you feel your video is that strong.)
11. Provide some detail in your author bio that establishes you as an expert: Awards won, relevant job experience, books written or other media in which you’ve appeared. Keep it short (or go longer if it tells a story. Rags to riches is good. Plucky, spunky and coming up will probably have to do.) You have an advantage over all the other press releases your target will receive today: Every reporter wants to publish a book, too, so they want to meet you and find out how you cheated, lied and took enough drugs to get this stupidly quixotic.
12. Think visually and use images: Luckily, this is where your killer book covers come in. To make sure the attachments got opened so they could see and appreciate all my awesome covers, I used this ad designed by Kit Foster of KitFosterDesign.com at the bottom of my cover letter:
13. Provide your name, contact numbers, email address and websites. It’s a really good idea to remember this point so they can contact you for the interview unless you are wicked clairvoyant.
14. When they interview you, be positive and chipper and helpful. It’s not in the bag until it’s in print or on air, so pretend you’re an extrovert. Later you can go back to being miserable in private. I am.
15. Hit multiple news outlets over time. It’s unlikely one media event will sell a lot of books. You could get a bit of a bump depending on the venue, but awareness takes time. Sales usually require repeated encounters as you permeate the world’s consciousness. Don’t bet everything on one roll of the dice and keep your expectations low to very conservative. Success always pleasantly surprises me.
16. Someone will be unhappy about your apparent success, however deceptive appearances may be. Ignore them. Several someones may contact you to write their book idea (as happened to me after a much-publicized contest win.) Run away screaming at full speed with your hands over your head. Change phone numbers, and country of residence if they persist.
17. Remember that you don’t do this for the fame and riches. It’s all about the writing and the orgies with the Roman toga theme. Get back to the keyboard and TO-GA! TO-GA! TO-GA!
~ Robert Chazz Chute is the author of a bunch of cool, helpful and suspenseful books that you can buy here. How suspiciously convenient.