Whether you’re looking to gain some media attention, attract book reviewers, pique the interest of bookstores, or develop relationships with key figures and organizations from your niche market, having professional materials to outline your project will be an essential asset to your pitch.
These materials can take many forms, depending on how best to showcase your work, but in the publishing industry, the package you put together will commonly be referred to as a media kit. At Tellwell, we call this package a Book Backgrounder, because it can and should be used to pitch your project to more than just media contacts. In fact, these promotive materials should be attached to every email you send out to inform someone about your book, and you should have copies printed and ready to bring with you for any in-person networking.
What makes up a media kit?
Think of a media kit as a 2-5-page portfolio that outlines your project and what sets it apart from the rest. Much like a resume, the most important information should be featured up front, and in many cases, the kit can be kept to 2 pages in length.
Here are some components to consider adding when putting together your media kit:
- A fact sheet which would include the book synopsis and cover image, your author bio and headshot, and other details about the book, including ISBN’s, the genre, your publisher and retail information.
Why it’s useful: This component is crucial if you plan to use this kit to get your book into physical bookstores. The store managers will benefit from having both the product details and a description of the book, to determine if they think it will sell well in their store. These elements are also commonly requested from book reviewers when considering review requests from authors and publishers.
Tellwell Tip: Even though the fact sheet will display the contents of the front and back cover of your book, it still helps to bring in a sample copy of the book for the store manager to review.
- A press release that outlines the newsworthy qualities of the book. For this, be sure to use the first paragraph to tie your book into the latest trend in your book’s industry. For example, if your book is a memoir about your experiences coping with bullying and depression, you could use the press release to showcase how it relates to Bell Let’s Talk Day or Pink Shirt Day leading up to those annual initiatives.
Why it’s useful: Many traditional media outlets seek out a press release to consider pursuing a story about you and your book, or hosting you for an interview, so if your goal is news traction, this should definitely be included in your media kit. Beyond that, having a press release can reinforce your credibility and news value when contacting relevant organizations or public figures about your project.
Tellwell Tip: It helps to update the press release part of your media kit as per what’s trending in the news to reinforce the timeliness of your book. So, be sure your press release conveys the most recent news development on your book’s topic.
- A “Quick Facts” sheet with details about any upcoming events, previous media attention, online traction, or any other relevant details about your book. For example, if you’re donating a portion of the proceeds from your book to a charity, it’s important to mention that and even to succinctly outline why you’ve partnered with that charity in particular. Essentially this component of a media kit would outline all of your project’s selling features and book-related highlights.
Why it’s useful: This is a great way to subliminally convey the main selling features of your book. It’s your opportunity to tell anyone you contact about the book why they should be interested in your project. This is your book’s resume, and it will evolve over the course of your marketing efforts.
Tellwell Tip: Including links to anywhere you or your book have been featured, whether it be a blog, a magazine, a newspaper, a radio show, a TV programme or a podcast, adds to the appeal of your project and will help grow your book’s buzz.
- An Author Q&A where you can explain in greater detail what inspired your project and why readers will be interested in your book.
Why it’s useful: This can be extremely effective if you have a unique reason for publishing your book and want to feature it in your media kit. Book reviewers and readers in particular will benefit from the additional detail and context you’re able to provide through a Q&A. Think of it as an exclusive, behind the scenes look at the book you’re sharing with them.
Tellwell Tip: It helps to limit yourself to a couple core questions, which you can answer in greater depth.
- Poignant reviews or testimonials that praise your book. These can be authentic customer reviews left on Amazon or Goodreads, or reviews you’ve collected from book reviewers (paid or unpaid) or key figures in your niche industry.
Why it’s useful: The more positive things others have to say about your book, the better. This encourages book reviewers, bookstores, press, and readers alike invest in you and your book, knowing that others have given it a glowing review.
Tellwell Tip: Be sure to specify where the review is coming from. This adds authenticity to the review, which will give your book more credibility.
- A book excerpt that acts as preview of what a reader can expect from your book.
Why it’s useful: The style and subject matter of the excerpt can help people understand more clearly who your target audience is. It also helps reviewers, bookstores and relevant organizations understand whether their networks would be interested in your book.
Tellwell Tip: If you’re specifically targeting book reviewers with your media kit, it helps to instead include some sample chapters or even an e-copy of the book. Often times a brief excerpt may not provide enough context.
- A summary of your marketing plan that indicates what you’re doing to promote the book. This can be point form, but should provide an overview of your main marketing strategies with examples of how you’re executing each of them.
Why it’s useful: Bookstores in particular need to know what you’re doing to actively encourage book sales, since they’re taking a risk by giving your book shelf space. It can also be beneficial to show relevant organizations or public figures why they should take a chance on endorsing, or getting involved in promoting your project.
Tellwell Tip: Even if you haven’t made much progress in the execution of your marketing strategies, it’s still worthwhile to outline upcoming plans you have to reinforce the time and effort you will be committing to marketing your book.
You’ll also want to prominently display contact details, including links to your website and main social media profiles somewhere in the media kit so any of the people you distribute the document to can get in touch with you.
You marketing goals and contact list should help you to determine which of the above components would add the most value to your pitch. Use those to build a concise and visually appealing media kit that gets to the heart of why people should care about your project.
Whether you put these promotive materials together yourself, or have someone else design them for you, they will be invaluable to you when looking to gain any kind of exposure for your book.
To learn more about Tellwell’s Book Backgrounder service, click here.