Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Gayle Trent Guest Blogs on Press Kits: Ironing Out the Details

Gayle Trent is on blog tour and I thought her piece on media releases an important retminder for this blog. Enjoy! And please send us all your own media release tips!

The first and most important piece of your press kit is your press release. Your press release should be concise--one page is long enough. Since you want to say, "This book is terrific!" without being the one to actually say it, you'll want to have a blurb or review comment early on that extols the excellence of your book. Following the blurb, give a brief but brilliant description of your book. Include a statement about the author (you, although you might want to write it as third person) and follow up with ordering information.

You'll want to include an author bio in your press kit. The journalist wants to know whether or not you're a local author, where you got the idea for your book, how you went about writing the book (while you were juggling two part-time jobs and three young children, for example), etc. If possible, put your photograph on your author bio.

Make a Media Questions and Answers Sheet. If the journalist is tight on time (or if it's a television or radio journalist), this sheet will write the interview. Prepare no fewer than five nor more than ten Q&A's such as "Q) Why do you think books like Murder Takes the Cake are important? A) I think it's important to have a fun, literary resource that introduces or validates readers' interests in hobbies.

If possible, make a "talking points" sheet relating to your book. Lissa Warren, publicist and author of The Savvy Author's Guide to Book Publicity, suggests something along the lines of "Ten Things You Might Not Know About ____________" or "Common Financial Mistakes Women Make." These talking points can give the journalist a filler in the paper or a sidebar to an article about you and your book. For instance, if you've written a romantic suspense novel and your heroine is a forensic scientist, your talking points sheet might contain "Ten Ways Real Life Forensics Is Different From TV Portrayals."

Include an engaging excerpt of your book in your press kit. The journalist might not have time to read your book, but he/she might comment on the excerpt provided; or the excerpt might propel the journalist to go ahead and take the time to read the entire book.


Prepare your press release. Brainstorm with other authors (or other creative friends) to make your press release the absolute best it can be. Set it aside for at least a week and then read it with a fresh eye. If you're uncertain about it, book marketing expert John Kremer has a press release review service at http://www.bookmarket.com.

Prepare your author biography.

Get photographed. You can do this on a budget, too. Wal-Mart, J.C. Penny and Sears all do good photographs that will be appropriate for your press kit. Tell them up front that you need a professional photo for your website, and they won't be as apt to pressure you into buying lots of photos.

Prepare your Media Questions and Answers Sheet. If you're not sure what a journalist might ask you, watch Today, Book TV, The Early Show or Good Morning, America to see how the journalists on those shows interview authors.

Prepare your "Talking Points" Sheet. What interesting facts related to your book can you put into a "top ten list" or other media-friendly format?

Choose which excerpt from your book would appeal to a journalist. If you're not sure, ask family members or friends to read your book and help you decide. Remember, you don't want to give away any surprises in your excerpt, but you do want to provide a good hook and an example of your strong points. For instance, if you feel you're strongest with your dialogue, you'll want to be sure your excerpt contains a lively exchange between two or more characters.

Do you have any reviews you'd like to include in your press kit?

Determine how to present your press kit. Some people use two-pocket folders. You can put your press release in one pocket and other information in the facing pocket. Plus, the folder has a handy business card holder. You might want to simply mail your press kit in a business-sized envelope. Or you might decide to be a little more creative. Jacqueline Deval uses the example of a book called The Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn: "The book reveals hundreds of imaginative and simple ways for families to save money…. She mailed out the press packet inside brown paper lunch bags with a sticker of the book's cover pasted on the front."

Hope this helps!


Gayle Trent is a full-time author. She is currently at work on a new cozy mystery series involving her hobby, cake decorating. The series features Daphne Martin, a 40-year-old divorcee who has begun the second phase of her life with a new home and a new business venture--Daphne's Delectable Cakes. Gayle lives in Bristol, Virginia with her husband, daughter and son. Gayle loves to hear from readers who can contact her via e-mail at gd830@hotmail.com or via one of her websites: GayleTrent.com or http://gayle24202.tripod.com/.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of 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. She is also the author of the Amazon Short, "The Great First Impression Book Proposal." Some of her other blogs are 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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