I am no longer a big fan of the traditional physical press kit with its glossy paper folder and numerous information/photo sheets placed into the inside pockets of the glossy paper folder.
Yet I do think that authors have to consider what could constitute a press kit for our New Media Age.
To begin with, let’s think physical. And business cards used by authors can be a good idea for real life networking events. But be savvy — I know I wasn’t at first.
Originally I made separate cards for separate books of mine. Then I wrote several more books and I wasn’t going to carry multiple cards around. Plus, I changed the cover of both books that were on the cards I had already made.
What I should have done, even when I only had one book, was have a card that emphasized my author website and appropriate social media touch points. Then, as I self-published more books — and added these to the website — the card would still be correct.
Postcards and Bookmarks Are Problems, Too
In the past, I was a fan of postcards for each book. But this too has the drawback of how many different postcards you can carry around with you — and what if you change the cover? Or better yet, win an award that you would like to add to the postcard text?
Third, I was a fan of bookmarks. Yet the same drawbacks occur with these as with cards and postcards. If you do spend money on bookmarks, focus on your author website and perhaps your Amazon Author Central profile.
I now believe that all physical publicity info should lead back to your author website (and that you control that website).
OK, cards, postcards and bookmarks are not enough. What else do you need?
Help Readers Find You on Social Media
Besides really good information about your books and yourself on your author website, you need social media touch points and social media participation where potential and current fans can find you and connect with you.
And, as a writer, you need to blog. Yes, you need to write posts for your own blog and guest posts for other blogs as part of what would formerly be articles placed inside a physical press kit.
Shorten these blog post links via a link shortener service (such as budurl.com or bit.ly) and share these links with publicity contacts as if you were sharing physical printouts of your posts.
The best part of using social media to send people to your author website rather than mailing a physical press kit is that you can change information instantly. No need, for example, to toss out tons of obsolete flyers and reprint new ones because your book won an award that you now want to feature on your flyers.
I would suggest storing as a Word doc a list of the links you would most like to share if a reporter or publicist asks you for a press kit. Then you can simply copy and paste these pre-chosen links into an email. (I suspect the person on the other end will be much happier to receive this email with links than a press kit in the mail. And, oh yes, the environment also thanks you!)
The Kinds of Links to Share
What links might you want to share with a reporter or publicist? Of course, the links you share depend on what the person wants to know about you. But let’s consider the options:
1. You could share a book’s link on Amazon.
But if you want the publicist to read the best review or all the reviews of your book, it is better to send the direct link (known as the permalink). Let me give an example:
If you look at any book review on Amazon, off to the right you will see “Permalink.”
Click on that and then in your browser window you will find the direct link to that specific review, which you can then share. For example, my spy thriller CIA FALL GUY just got this five-star review from someone I do not know.
Now you may want people to go directly to all your reviews for a specific book. Why not send people to your book page then? Because the reviews are far down on the book page and are separated into two different groups (“Most Helpful Customer Reviews” as decided by Amazon’s algorithms and “Most Recent Customer Reviews”). People can get easily distracted before they ever get to the reviews.
To get the permalink for all the reviews, scroll down on your book’s page and click on “See all customer reviews (newest first).” You will be on the page with all the reviews and you can copy the permalink from the browser window. You can see all reviews for CIA FALL GUY here.
(Note that the default is “Most Helpful First” — you have to scroll down and click on “Newest First” to get the whole list sorted that way.)
There is a risk with sharing the permalink to all your reviews. For example, in the case of CIA FALL GUY, I recently had a very successful KDP Select free book giveaway. But with success comes the downside — some people who are not the target audience for the book read it (because they got it for free) and then write negative reviews.
Often these people do not understand the convention of, for example, thrillers in which characters are purposely misleading. Then these people may write negative reviews that they couldn’t understand who the characters were. (That was, in fact, what I was aiming for until the end, when all was revealed.) This is why it may be better to share the permalinks to individual reviews rather than to the page with all of a book’s Amazon reviews.
2. You can share your author website URL or a specific page of that site.
For example, I could share PhyllisZimblerMiller.com or PhyllisZimblerMiller.com/phyllis-fiction-books-ebooks/ or Phylliszimblermiller.com/cia-fall-guy depending on where I want someone to go.
This link to a page on your website may be where you share your bio, or you may decide to link to the bio you have put on your Amazon Author Central profile. If, for example, you have divided your fiction and nonfiction books into two separate Amazon Author Central profiles (as I have), you can provide the appropriate link for the specific pitch or you can provide both links. (See Amazon.com/author/phylliszimblermiller and Amazon.com/author/phylliszmiller)
3. Photos are great for publicity purposes.
Besides a headshot, Joan Stewart recommends environment shots. For example, if your book is about toy train collecting, you might have a photo of you with some of your train collection.
Here’s a photo from adoption expert Mardie Caldwell’s online press kit:
4. Blog post permalinks — whether on your own blog or someone else’s blog.
You can choose the links based on what you are pitching. For example, if I wanted to demonstrate my interest in effective websites, I could share the shortened direct link — http://budurl.com/websitetarget — to my Examiner.com post.
Actually, the sky’s the limit for links you can share. Use your creativity to decide which links are best for which pitch.
But don’t overdo the links you share in one pitch because too many can be overwhelming. Many times less is more, so choose carefully. You can always send additional links if asked for more information.
Now, It’s Your Turn
What about your own author press kit? What do you include?
How do you get around the problem of outdated print materials?
Do you have a New Age press kit you’re proud of? Or elements of one at your website? Tell us in the Comment section, and feel free to link.
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Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the co-founder of the digital marketing company Miller Mosaic, LLC and the author of fiction and nonfiction books/ebooks that can be found on Amazon. She is also experimenting with writing an entire dystopian thriller THE MOTHER OF SIEGE on Wattpad — click the dropdown table of contents to read the ongoing novel — and the Cold War memoir project TALES OF AN AMERICAN OCCUPYING GERMANY on Wattpad. Contact Phyllis at firstname.lastname@example.org.