Hi, SEers. Forgive me for being a hypocrite, but today’s post is going to be a do-as-I-say-and-not-as-I-do post. Remember, I used to work in corporate communications, so I know marketing strategies. (That doesn’t mean I use them myself; it just means I know them.)
Okay… Unless you literally just decided to become an author today, you almost definitely have an author website. Hopefully you’ve included the basics:
- landing page to advertise news and collect email addresses
- blog to share content, generate interest, and remain fresh in the minds of your fans
- book pages so your work is well-defined and easy to find
- about page to introduce yourself to new visitors
- social media links so people can find you elsewhere online
- contact page so your readers can reach you
- platform-wide cohesion and pleasing design
Many authors stop there. Okay, let’s be honest—many readers fall short in some/most/all of those categories.
- Their landing pages don’t have clear calls to action (CTAs).
- They don’t update their blog regularly.
- They don’t have book pages or the pages are hard to find, messy, and missing information.
- They skip the about the author section because of privacy concerns.
- They forget to have social media links listed, or they neglect other social media platforms entirely.
- They don’t provide readers with a way to get in touch.
- They haven’t established a visual identity, and/or their web design is ugly or hard to navigate.
If you need to work on one or more of these areas, you can deal with them rather quickly (except maybe the last one, which could take considerable time and effort, particularly if you aren’t comfortable with graphic design).
But there’s one thing your site is probably missing, and that’s a great detriment to you.
A media kit.
For the record, I used to have media kits for each book on my site. I decided to make some changes to them, though, so I pulled them down. But I never found the time to revise them. Shame on me, because these are excellent tools to have available. I will show you one of my old kits when this series of posts is over. (Yep, sorry. This is a huge topic, so it’s going to require more than one post, and I don’t want you to get ahead of the conversation.)
The number one marketing tool at your disposal is your website. The number two tool is a media kit. Websites are where people go to learn about you, but once there, the media kit is what they really want or need.
If you are traditionally published or have the money to hire a publicist (try not to laugh too hard there), you may have had a kit put together for you. (Note the word may there. Publishers are doing less and less for authors these days, so you might be on your own, anyway.) If you haven’t had one prepared and uploaded already, you need to get it on your site. Self-published authors, you wear all the hats in the business, including that of marketer, so you’ll have to compile this information on your own.
You might be wondering why. After all, you’ve gone this long without one and haven’t noticed any negative effects.
Well, you can’t notice what isn’t there—in this case, public interest. If you want to generate awareness, then trust me; you want a kit.
Why? For starters, they help sell you to agents, editors, and news reporters. Even if you aren’t looking to go the traditional route, you will want publicity. A website is essential, but busy professionals aren’t going to navigate your three layers of menus and click on thirteen different links to find what they want—if they find it at all. No, your site is for fans who can explore at their leisure. Your kit is for the industry. The more you can expedite information retrieval, the more likely you are to get exposure.
Media kits are also useful for your fans. These are the people looking for all the information they can get about you. They’ll have looked over your site, but they may want even more. Perhaps discussion questions for book clubs or tweetables to make sharing their love of your work easier.
Finally, media kits give you an air of professionalism and credibility that will give you a leg up over other writers when you’re hoping to secure an interview or article with other organizations. Consider your website to be a resume and your media kit to be a portfolio. You apply for a job with a resume, and if it’s good enough to land you an interview, they’re going to want to see your portfolio. This correlates to media placements. Interested journalists or bloggers might assess your website to see what you and your work are about, but it’s the centralized collection of information in your kit that helps you seal the deal.
I can personally attest to the fact that my media kit garnered the attention of a news reporter in my hometown when I released Type and Cross, so I speak from experience. Without the kit, the information would have been scattered online and the reporter likely wouldn’t have bothered to contact me because she probably wouldn’t have taken the time to read all the different pages on my site.
If you weren’t already convinced of the importance of media kits before, I hope you are now. But how do you go about creating a media kit? What goes in them?
Remember, this is your portfolio… the thing that proves your book is worth people’s time. There are certain elements that are crucial, others that are gravy. How exactly you assemble the kit is up to you, but getting this information in there in one way or another is vital to having a successful kit.
Elements of a Media Kit
- news release
- book one-sheet
- author info
- bio (yes, that’s a separate section)
- published works
- future works
- contact information
- author Q&As
- interview questions
- book details and purchase information
- book FYIs
- book excerpt
- purchase links
- book cover and blurb
I’m about out of time, so I’ll begin to cover the specifics the next time I post (if you’re interested).
In the meantime, what are your thoughts? Do you have a media kit on your site? Now that we touched on the basics, do you see the need? Let’s talk about it.