As the topic of Media Kit has been previously considered some may ask: Why this discussion about a Press Kit? This will be clarified in a moment.
Also, just in case some readers are thinking it: The fact that press kits are now more commonly referred to as media kits has been covered in the article Media Kit.
Why have a Press Kit?
Readers may have noted this website has both a Company Media Kit and an Author Press Kit. The reason for both is, though the authoring of books is a primary occupation, the website and integrated blog are also dedicated to helping authors with the production and publication of books as well as helping readers to find interesting and entertaining reads and to help both understand the topic of reviews and reviewing. The website therefore fulfils the roles of both an author platform and a communication organisation. Of course, for many authors this will not be relevant but at least it provides the writer with examples of both that may assist a broader spectrum of readers and visitors. The company media kit deals with the more technical and professional aspects of the website and, as already pointed out, was the subject of the previous Media Kit article consequently, this will not be discussed further here. In the conclusion to that article the following statement was made: ‘Note: There are other styles of kit besides media that may suit an author better. (The writer will consider a further article that specifically looks at these.)’ This article ‘Author Press Kit’ is in response to that.
Note: The differing terms of ‘Company Media Kit’ and ‘Author Press Kit’ have been utilised to indicate the subject matter of each and therefore to, hopefully, avoid confusion.
As the title implies an author press kit should, strictly, focus on the author and their books. Some may argue they are more than their writing and of course they are. To comprehend why the more narrow approach is suggested it is necessary to understand who a press kit is for. It is for any journalist; media editor; blogger; etc. who may take an interest in the author and wish to publish information about them, interview them or refer to them in some way on a public basis. These are usually very busy people who do not have time to search for, and plough through, multiple sources of information. A press kit helps them readily find the information and to quickly ascertain whether the author and their books would truly be of interest to ‘their’ audience.
Of course, it is not necessary to have a press kit and many will debate as to its usefulness. It must be acknowledged the majority of independent (indie) authors are not so fortunate as to attract the attention suggested. However, if they do, it is sensible to have relevant information readily to hand. The time and effort put into creating the kit would be more than justified. Besides, it may even be possible having such a press kit will act as its own magnet; it make may make readers curious. Once created these kits do not require a lot of maintenance; a simple update to reflect personal and productive changes (e.g. a new book) is all that is required.
What to include
When preparing any publicity material the focus for it must always be kept to the forefront; it is very easy to be distracted by asides and to go off in tangents. As already stated, most of those who may be interested are busy people and, if they find an endless torrent of anecdotal information that they do not really require, may quickly abandon any further reading and move on to another project. The content should be as concise as possible without losing important information. In addition, what is included should facilitate downloading or copy-pasting. Time, for these people is always an important issue.
Contents list: The journalist, media editor, blogger, etc. may be looking for something specific. A contents list will help them find it. Keep it simple.
Author Biography: Bearing in mind these are primarily intended to be about the author, a biography should be foremost in presented information. It depends upon the publication type or perhaps the column space available, as to how long a biography the journalist etc. is looking for. Consequently, many suggest having a range of different length biographies to hand; Short (two or three sentences – no more than one hundred and fifty words); Medium (maximum of two hundred and fifty words); Long (suggested between three hundred and fifty and five hundred words). Naturally the suggested lengths are just that ‘suggestions’ however, recorded experience appears to support them. It is also strongly suggested biographies are written in third person: makes them more appropriate for a wider range of publications.
Profile: Photograph or image. This should be the same as that used in publications, social media and elsewhere. If considered appropriate, or necessary, as it is within this website, some explanation or clarification may be added.
Books: Naturally the person reading the content will wish to have some idea of the authors output. What has been published so far; Genre; Synopsis (short!); etc. Unless a vast number of books it would be sensible to include thumbnail images of all book covers. It there is a large number then a selection would help; probably best if these are of books the author is best known for.
Testimonials: Most will undoubtedly include positive reviews. Again conciseness is important so it may be sensible to simply include extracts. If an author has received non-review testimonials e.g. direct communications from readers that commend them on their general authorship, it would be appropriate to include them here. In fact, such testimonials, due to how unusual these are, may prove far more beneficial. If lengthy, include and extract, perhaps with a link to where the full testimonial may be read.
Interview Q & A: The busy state of journalists etc. must always be born in mind. It may help them if some ‘foreseen’ questions are posed and answered. Throughout conciseness is a necessary quality. Authors should therefore avoid the temptation to go overboard: two or three ‘informative’ questions, with answers of course, should prove sufficient. If the reader (journalist etc.) is interested they will no doubt contact the author with any further questions they have.
Contact: Naturally, information/links to where the author may be reached should be included. The reader should not be made to hunt for these. The author must decide, bearing in mind the information will be publicly displayed and the issues of privacy and security, which details to provide: e-mail address or contact form; telephone number, postal address etc. It is also suggested links to social media sites such as Facebook; Twitter; LinkedIn etc. are also given. These should be limited to the most relevant i.e. those that provide additional information about the author. Such sites as Pinterest, Instagram etc. would probably not be relevant. This will also be the place to offer the information in other formats e.g. as an e-mail attachment or, if the author is willing, in physical format to be sent by post. Some journalists etc. prefer these to simply downloading or copy-pasting from a website.
Though not absolutely necessary, an Author Press Kit is a useful item. Besides making life easier for journalists, media editors, bloggers, etc. it also provides a ready reference of material for the author themselves.
Purpose and aim must always been born in mind. These are not marketing kits; they are simply a means for those interested to gain further insight into the author themselves. Naturally, books will be mentioned but the press kit is not about them per se.
Conciseness is paramount. Busy people cannot be expected to spend endless hours of their valuable time searching for information. In fact, they are unlikely to do so.
The kit should be offered in varying formats; not everyone is reliant upon the internet nor do some wish to be tied to it. The author should be catering for all individuals.
Above all authors should be grateful if they do receive the attention of media personal; few indie authors are so fortunate.
Though the kit is not a marketing tool, authors may refer and link to it in posts that may help raise public awareness of them and their books but it should be kept to a minimum. As with ‘Buy Me! Buy Me!’ posts readers will soon be put off if they are inundated with anything similar.