Here are the questions they’ve asked, along with my answers. I’ll keep adding to this list, so bookmark this page and send me your questions. 🙂
Press Releases About Your Book
Q. You never mentioned a specific word length for the press release. I always heard press releases aren’t supposed to be longer than one page. Is that correct?
A. That was a guideline about two decades ago when we wrote press releases for one audience: the press. Today, however, we write them for readers, book buyers, bookstore owners, publishers, bloggers, podcasters, etc. A two-page press release that includes all the pertinent information is fine. Don’t worry about the word count.
Q. I have written a non-fiction book that includes a fictional story to illustrate the points I’m making. Should I use your press template for a fiction or non-fiction book?
How to Present the Media Kit at Your Website
Q. What’s the best way to let people know there’s a media kit at my website?
A. From your website’s homepage, or from the page that features your book, link to your “Media Kit.” On that page, you will link to each PDF document you created. You can see how Joel did it for his Media Kit for A Self-Publisher’s Companion.
Q. Why do I need separate PDF documents?
A. Because busy journalists, bloggers and meeting planners don’t have time to wade through one giant document, hunting for what they need.
Q. Do I offer them on my website as Word documents or PDFs?
A. PDFs. Some journalists might want the Word document for things like your author bio, so they can quickly cut and paste. Have it ready to email to them if they ask for it.
Q. When I make a PDF, I usually build in security so people cannot steal my work. Should I build in security to the Media Kit PDFs so people cannot cut and paste? If not, what happens if someone who is not a journalist wants to steal my material, like my cheat sheet or checklist, for their own use?
A. Do not build in security that prohibits people from cutting and pasting. Don’t make people use a password to open anything. If someone cuts and pastes content from your media kit for their own use, and you find out about it, email them and ask them to remove the material immediately. If they don’t, a strongly worded letter threatening legal action should solve the problem.
Author Contact Information
Q. Your template for Contact Information includes a mailing address, phone number and email. I don’t want my home address or phone number listed publicly, and I’m always paranoid about having my email address “out there.”
A. Including contact information is imperative. Rent a post office box and use that as your mailing address. If someone wants to mail you a check for a book, they need a place to send it. As for the phone, get a Google Voice number, or use a phone number that kicks into voicemail—but make sure you check it regularly. Media people who need you to fill in for a guest who has canceled on a radio show won’t wait around forever. They want to talk to you now. As you start to establish strong relations with the media, give them your mobile number and expect a text.
As for email, use a second email address, but make sure it’s connected to your domain name. Don’t use Yahoo, Hotmail or AOL addresses.
Q. On the template for Interview Questions, should I write the answers to the questions I want TV and radio show hosts to ask me?
A. No. All they need are the questions. Expect them to deviate from your list, however. They might use one, some or none of the questions you’ve given them.
Q. If a reporter calls me for an interview, should I let them know I have the interview questions in my Media Kit and suggest they use those questions?
A. No. Let them ask their own questions. The page with the interview questions in your Media Kit is primarily for in-person or telephone interviews for radio and TV interviews. Broadcast journalists will welcome the questions. Print journalists won’t. Don’t offer the list to print journalists unless they ask.
Book Excerpts Page
Q. When I get a radio or TV interview, and it went well, should I ask the host for a testimonial that I can use on the Book Review Excerpts page within my media kit?
A. No. Those excerpts should be from actual book reviews. Most media people will not read your book. So they won’t be in a position to review it.
However, you can create a separate sheet if you wish titled “(Your name) in the Media.” It can include a list of media outlets that have covered you or your book, links to the printed or video interviews, and a quote from the journalist or broadcaster that speaks to the quality of the interview. Example:
“Our lines were jammed when Joan Stewart took questions from listeners. Her answers were quick, complete, and filled with memorable sound bites. I will ask The Publicity Hound back again. –Joe Flibeetz, WDOG-AM 1140. Philadelphia.”
Media Kit Photos
Q. The photographer who took my environmental photos was adamant that his photo credit must be used at all times because he owns the rights to the photos. How do I handle this in my media kit? Do I explain to editors that they cannot use my photo unless it is accompanied by his photo credit?
A. Working with photographers who own the rights to their photos is a giant pain in the neck. The next time you hire a photographer, find someone who doesn’t insist on these restrictions, even if you have to pay a little more for the photos. Ask around, and you’ll find someone.
For your media kit, let the media know who took the photo, tell them the photographer owns the rights, and ask that they use a photo credit. This is a reasonable request, and print and online media are pretty good about this. Just don’t make a huge production out of it.
Q. I write under a pen name. I bought a stock photo of a middle-aged man and use that as my head shot. Can I keep doing this?
A. No. It’s deceptive. Readers who discover your little secret can out you on social media, and it can get ugly. Besides, that stock photo can show up on a wide variety of websites that you might not wand to be associated with.
If you want to use a pen name, fine. But use your real photo. If you must remain incognito, hire an artist to sketch a four-color caricature or avatar of you. Use that in your media kit. You can find many artists at Fiverr.com. Learn more about whether you should be using a pen name at Joel Friedlander’s blog. Check out this interesting discussion about using photos with pen names.
The Book Order Form
Q. When I do speaking engagements and book signings, I accept payment by using Square for credit card processing. So I have no use for the order form at the bottom of the template for live events. Can I replace it with something else?
A. Not so fast! Not everyone will pay with a credit card. And some people won’t buy that day. They’ll want to take the order form home with them and “sleep on it.” They might want to mail you a check. Give customers every opportunity to pay you in as many forms as possible.
Miscellaneous Media Kit Questions
Q. I have three very different books: a mystery, a memoir and a business book on how to make sales calls. Do I need three different media kits, or do I use one media kit with information on all three books?
A. You need a place at your website where people can access the press kit for each book very easily. However, individual pieces of your press kit like your Author Bios, “fun facts you didn’t know about me,” and Contact information, can remain the same from one kit to the next. Don’t make readers wade through press releases, national sell sheets and other items for books they don’t care about. You want three tidy packages.
Q. Do I need to have my media kit in a printed format? How expensive is that?
A. Most of the time, a printed kit is unnecessary so don’t worry about creating one unless you absolutely must have it. If so, create it inexpensively. Tuck all the materials into a plain folder you can buy at an office supply store. What’s most important is what’s inside. Some authors keep it simple by attaching a printed sticker of their logo to the top of the folder. Or staple your business card to the front of the folder.
If you’re going to a live event, you can also transfer the media kit materials to a CD and hand out CDs.
Got a question about Media Kits? Email me and I’ll answer it.