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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Monday, June 16, 2008

An author's press kit

by Terry McLaughlin

Once upon a time, when I was Unpublished, I saw an author's press kit. It was a folder filled with wonderful things: cover flats (oooh!), glossy photos (ahhh!), and impressive material about the author. Someday, I thought to myself, I'll have one of those, too...when I'm Published.

I may be Published now, but my press kit is still in the planning stages (darn it). I could have used that press kit many times during the past several years–just a couple of weeks ago, for instance, when a local reporter called to arrange an interview for a feature piece. As soon as I can manage it, I'm going to get my act–and my kit–together.

A press kit is a package of promotional material assembled to inform members of the press about a product (your books) or a person (you, the author). It can be in print form, like the one I saw, or in electronic form, available on a Web site.

A Web-based press kit could include:
      • an author's background or bio
      • an author's photos (available in several different sizes and resolutions)
      • past press coverage and interviews (with links, if possible)
      • images of book covers
      • current author events (such as upcoming tour dates)
      • videos
      • media contact information (an agent or publicist)

A printed press kit might consist of:
      • a folder to hold all the goodies
      • a cover sheet listing the kit contents and offering further information
      • a press release about a current event
      • an author's bio or fact sheet
      • author photos
      • book cover flats
      • promotional materials from the publisher
      • copies of past press coverage or interviews
      • a media contact information sheet
      • an author's business card

Here are some examples of handy press kits on Noodler Web sites:

Do yourself a favor: plan for the incorporation of an electronic press kit as part of your author's Web site design, and begin assembling materials for a few print folders.


At 7:33 AM, Blogger Terry Odell said...

Great ideas. I need to get organized and do something like that.

At 11:25 AM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Oh, this is a good idea. I hope I need one soon. Please share yours with us, Terry, as soon as you have one finished.

Thanks for the info!

At 11:28 AM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

Thanks for including my press kit, Terry. I think that a kit accessible online is essential and as you can see from mine, it doesn't need to be elaborate.

At 11:54 AM, Blogger Terry McLaughlin said...

Hey there, Terry :-)--yep, getting organized is part of the process ;-). I'm sure that better organization would have saved me some time here & there.

At 11:56 AM, Blogger Terry McLaughlin said...

Hi, Theresa :-)! With the way you're racking up contest finals and wins--not to mention snagging an AWESOME new agent a few days ago!--I'm sure you're going to be needing a press kit very, very soon :-).

Congratulations on all your recent successes!

At 11:57 AM, Blogger Terry Odell said...

Too many Terrys -- and I never used to run into any of them, especially ones who spelled their name the same way I do.

So far, the closest to 'press kit' would be specific information for the various programs I've done, but they don't really count as press kits.

At 11:58 AM, Blogger Terry McLaughlin said...

Hi, Diane :-)! Yes, I'm beginning to see that online press kits are, indeed, essential. I'm always amazed by what people pull from my site, and I'd have better control over the presentation--and make their jobs easier--if I assembled all that stuff in one convenient place ;-).

At 12:00 PM, Blogger Terry McLaughlin said...

Hi again, Terry (who spells her name exactly the right way)--if you were to throw in a couple of nice photos of yourself and a fact sheet or background/bio, you'd have the beginnings of a press kit, don't you think?

At 12:06 PM, Blogger Terry Odell said...

Yes, otherTerry. I have an 'author sheet' that has my bio, my books, etc. I suppose I should bite the bullet and add my picture. I usually use those as the last page of my handouts when I do programs.

And I did a press release once, as well, although it was targeted specifically to our weekly freebie newspaper. They have a section for each of the neighborhoods in the community, so I approached it from that angle.

I'll definitely be thinking about an on-line one.

At 12:19 PM, Blogger Terry McLaughlin said...

Wow, Terry, it sounds like you're way ahead of the game--good for you!

One thing I'm tired of doing is writing variations of my bio tailored to different word count requirements and purposes. I feel like the world's most boring school assignment--if I were a book, I wouldn't want to read me ;-). But at least I've saved all of them, and they're getting easier to snip & paste & cobble together into whatever anyone needs at the moment.

When the time comes to write a couple of different versions for my press kit, I'll have some material to borrow from...again ;-).

The otherTerry

At 12:39 PM, Blogger Terry Odell said...

Nothing's ever 'finished'. I have at least 5 versions of my bio (and then you still end up updating it as you have more things to add to your resume.) But yes, cutting and pasting is a handy tool.

At 1:32 PM, Blogger Delle Jacobs said...

That's a great approach, Terry. I really like Diane's and Colleen's websites too. They take a very professional, efficient, yet beautiful approach to promotion.

At 2:36 PM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Hi, from another TERRY. My entire family still calls me TERRY and refuse to call me Theresa. When I'm at conference and someone calls for a "Terry" I am the first to turn around. when people ask me my name, I have a hard time figuring out what it is?!

Anyhow, glad to know I'm not the only one who sort of hates this bio thing. What the heck to they really want? Fun and humorous? Professional and boring? I have at least six versions and I don't like any of them. How do you decide which sort of bio to use? Writing my bio makes me wish I was a karate expert on the side or a part-time private investigator...something thrilling. Oh well. Must go check out Diane and Colleen's press kits.

Thanks for the well-wishes, McLaughlin.

At 3:25 PM, Blogger Terry McLaughlin said...

Terry, sometimes I think I wouldn't be a writer without the computer cut & paste thing. I'm too lazy to be close-to-perfect in the early stages and too easily bored to fuss over fixes later on ;-).

Hooray for adding updates to your résumé :-)! A terrific sign of progress ;-).

At 3:28 PM, Blogger Terry McLaughlin said...

Hi, Delle :-)! Yes, I'm handy with the do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do stuff ;-). I WILL get an online press kit together, though, ASAP. That recent experience with the local reporter showed me (again!) that I need one.

Aren't Colleen's and Diane's Web sites purty? Lots of Noodlers have wonderful sites :-).

At 3:39 PM, Blogger Terry McLaughlin said...

You'll always be Theresa to me, Ragan :-).

How do I decide what kind of bio to write? If I can, I get some samples of what other people have prepared for the same situation. That way I get an idea of the level of formality, the word count, that sort of thing. If I can't get a sample, I try to figure out the reason for the request, and that will sometimes indicate whether I should prepare a bio emphasizing my education background, my publishing record, or more personal notes. When completely in doubt, I opt for third person and keep it brief and generic.

Congrats again, Theresa. I'm going to be the first one in line to buy your first book--I can hardly wait :-)!

At 10:05 PM, Blogger Louisa Cornell said...

What fantastic ideas, Terry Mc! And the two examples you gave us were really classy and well put together. (As if the Divine One could do otherwise!) Yes, getting organized is the key. i'm using my pen name on everything now and I got my business cards in the mail Saturday!!

And I have to agree that Theresa R is going to need one ASAP! Kudos on the agent acquisition!

At 11:10 PM, Blogger Terry McLaughlin said...

Hi, louisa :-)! Sheeesh, business cards...I've been using my bookmarks instead of cards for quite a while now, but I'd like to have some official cards, too. One more item on my to-do list :-).

I hope you get to keep your pen name--it's a great idea to use it early, if it works :-).

At 7:04 AM, Blogger Janet Mullany said...

I'd also suggest adding a list of talking points because the media are basically lazy and like you to do the work for them.

At 7:26 AM, Blogger Mo H said...

Great topic, Terry M! One thing I'd add is to see what the photo requirements are for the publications where you're sending kits. No, I'm like you, I don't have a press kit. But during the past year, I've been writing press releases for my daughter's ballet company, some of which have been picked up. In fact, I'm working on one today! We noticed one publication used a photo with our press release that wasn't what we'd sent and discovered they needed black and white (they won't convert). Another publication couldn't take the high resolution pixels due to antiquated computers. One other tip: write a catchy lead and headline for your press releases. Even if they don't use it, you have won their attention!

At 11:32 AM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

What I wonder is whether an online press kit should be in PDF form, so it will print properly. Mine isn't.


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