Monday, December 31, 2007

Q&A a la Ann Landers: Getting Publicity From Grumpy Editors

Your Media Kit: Or How To Get Publicity from Tired, Grumpy Editors

Question: Because I know editors are busy I just send them a quick paragraph with a link to my website . . .

Answer: It's precisely because they are busy you don't want to do this. Our job as publicists for ourselves or our companies is to make the job of the editor as easy as possible. Telling her to go search a site is not the name of the game. Sure, you want your query to grab her interest, but maybe the query she read just before yours did that, too, but that person gave her what she needed right then and there.

So, yes. Capture her interest. Pitch your idea and a bit about you. Give her enough that if she is really time-constrained, she might not even have to check your website. Not pages and pages but a tightly packed, well-written page!

Of course, you also offer a link to your pdf media kit--directly to it. Don't make her go searching around your site to find the kit. You can offer to send her a kit by attachment, too, but often presses and other media don't want them, won't even open them.

You can also offer to help. Give her your phone and e-mail address. Let he know you're considerate of her time.

And the media kit itself--if she ever even gets to it? That's all about making her life easy, too. What an opportunity! Here are just a few things your kit needs to take full advantage of it.

 There should be items in your media kit (Like a 10 Tips piece) that can be published as is or in part by an editor who just happens to have a few inches available at deadline.

 Your media kit should be designed with ease in mind. If your kit is extensive, a Table of Contents (but call it CONTENTS, not TOC) is in order. That will make it easy for her to find what she needs from your kit.

 In addition to the usual stuff, include a complete, well edited first person essay. It could land in a first column on the front page of a newspaper.

 Include a one-page biography, but also include a prewritten short bio or tagline. The editor can just copy and paste it. No rewriting necessary.

 Most kits include a sample review and interview. Many authors forget to make it clear that they may be published at no charge and with permission of the reviewer and/or interviewer. If you don't do that, the editor will have to call you or do a rewrite. Also make clear the conditions. Does the reviewer require that the piece be uncut and that a tagline be included?

There are lots of good books on the subjects of queries and media kits written by experts. My The Frugal Book Promoter is specific about media relations, kits and queries. The Frugal Editor gives tips on how to avoid query-letter faux pas straight from the mouths of some of our nation's top agents.

I recommend that you read more than one book. There is more than one way to do a thing. Here are some other books besides mine for you to look at:

 John Kremer's
 Allan Shepherd's
 Janet Elaine Smith's new PromoPaks
 Fran Silverman's
 My new Amazon Short on writing book proposals (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000YG6O5U/ref=cm_arms_pdp_dp)
 Michael Larsen's
 Terry Whalin's

The biggest mistake is not supplying the editor with what she needs to make a decision on the spot.

I'm ranting, here. Sorry. But having worked in journalism, I know how frustrating incomplete information can be. Even these days, as the editor of my own newsletter, you'd be surprised how many posts I get from people who:

• Do not tell me what they want (these are query letters I'm getting, after all! So they should ask a question or QUERY!)
• Don't even give me a hint about how they want me to use the information they've sent.
• Don't use an autosignature telling me how to reach them in case I have questions.
• Give me links to sites that have no media rooms so I'd have to search many different pages to put a story together.
• Give me a homepage URL rather than the media room URL.
• Don't give me any information on themselves. Without that, how would I know if I'm interested in their story?
• And when I get that media kit, there is no first person essay, no article, no interview, no review, no... . You get the idea. This person wants ME to do all the work. (-:

So make 2008 your be-kind-to-editors year. You may find your queries start getting more action.
------
Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author THIS IS THE PLACE; HARKENING: A COLLECTION OF STORIES REMEMBERED; TRACINGS, a chapbook of poetry; and two how to books, THE FRUGAL BOOK PROMOTER: HOW TO DO WHAT YOUR PUBLISHER WON'T; and THE FRUGAL EDITOR: PUT YOUR BEST BOOK FORWARD TO AVOID HUMILIATION AND ENSURE SUCCESS.
Her other blogs include TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com and AuthorsCoalition.blogspot.com, a blog that helps writers and publishers turn a ho-hum book fair booth into a sizzler.

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