Thursday, May 15, 2008

You Have a Bedroom, a Workroom, a Playroom. How About a Media Room? And Not in Your House!

Most rooms we think are essential -- even bedrooms -- we could easily do without.

Look at all the people who live in studio apartments! The one room everyone seems to think they can do without (and shouldn't!) is a media room.

I'm not talking about a room in your house with a screen, stereo and a popcorn machine. I'm talking about the room on your website that makes life so easy on an editor, agent, blogger, reviewer or publisher that you'll have an edge with them over those who don't have one. Some people call them press rooms, but that's sort of slaps at nonprint media like web editors and radio hosts. So, if you have a "press room" you may want to change its moniker so you look like the professional you are in front of those who can make a difference for you.

But that isn't all you should do. Take a minute to look at this article to see if you're making your media room (aka press room) into the Clydesdale it should be rather than a little pink (and possibly useless) pony.

The media room is an integral part of your website but it is not a place for your readers. It's only for that list of gatekeepers above and it's all business. Meaning no cutsie stuff. Just simple, easy-to-download media kit(s) and a few other possibilities I've listed below. If you think of something else to add to the list, ask yourself, "Will this feature help those who need information access it more easily and save them time?" and "Will this feature only clutter my media room like so much unused furniture and make it harder for editors to find what they need." If the feature is not suitable for the media room, save it for somewhere else on your site.

Because this room will not have music or graphics or any other gee-gaws, you may need to duplicate some information that you have in your media room elsewhere on the site for the casual visitor. Your list of awards is a good example. They'll be in your media kit but you'll probably have a separate page or area for them elsewhere.

The best way to give editors and others who visit your media room is to have a downloadable .pdf of your media kit. Include in that kit:

1. Contact information on every page of the kit and on the media room's home page.

2. A cover letter that's relatively generic so that it will work for most any kind of person who downloads the kit.

3. Your book cover image(s), in high resolution in case the editor needs to use it for print purposes.

4. A professional head shot of you -- also in high res.

5. Two author bios, one very short that editors can pick up and use as a tagline without rewriting it and one that's longer to give them a better flavor for possible feature stories, etc.

6. A page of your publishing credits and experience similar to what you would use in a resume. Keep it simple. Bullet it if possible.

7. A synopsis of your book. A strong, short pitch is even better. Or both.

8. An assortment of endorsements or blurbs.

9. Two sample book reviews, one long for print media, one short for use on the Internet. Both should be available to reprint at no ch * rge and you should say so on the review pages.

10. At least one sample Interview, though you may use several, each with a different focus.

11. An awards page, both publishing and writing awards.

12. A first person essay available for reprint with permission to do so.

13. A list of available seminars or keynotes for your speaking appearances. You might also include ideas for feature stories.

14. A fellow experts page. This makes it easy for an editor or moderator to put together a panel and include you, of course.

Your Media room should also include or have links to:

1. Your Media Releases for news and events, most recent first.

2. Transcripts/audio recordings/video clips and podcasts.

3. Downloadable aids like business cards and sell sheets.

4. Sample chapters of published works or snippets of works in progress. Nonfiction works should have your Contents page available for perusal.

5. FAQ or a facts file.

Don't even ask why you should do this. You don't have time. It is essential this very minute and if it isn't, it will be the minute you have a book, set yourself up as an expert, have a business, begin to consult or whatever work you plan to coordinate with your writing career. You need a media room at least as much as you need a website.

A media room will do for you what you can't possibly do for yourself and what your publicist can't do for you either. It makes your book, your business available to everyone and puts you upfront and center where you'll be on their minds.

You'll find this list with the complete details of writing a media release, putting together a media kit, etc. -- right down to the correct font, structure and indentations -- in The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won't You'll find a sample media room (with several media kits each with a different focus) on my website at

PS: The photo is one taken by Nancy Cleary, author and publisher. It is of her well-used copy of The Frugal Book Promoter.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits and consults on issues of publishing. Find her The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success on Amazon. Learn more about her other authors' aids at

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