What is a media kit? It is useful information about yourself and your work that is provided to interviewers before an interview to give background. Typically, media kits are for news agencies, like newspapers and television studios. As a writer, you may find it handy to send to podcasters, bloggers, literary agents, booksellers, and other book-related and promotion groups.
As a former journalist and someone who once did Public Relations for a state agency, it is a godsend to have a media kit with a lot of facts that I don’t have to hunt down. With a press kit (now called a media kit to include more outlets), it gave me time to form better questions before I met with the person I was interviewing with.
Why might you need one?
Helps you prep for interviews with newspapers, radio, magazines, or with podcasters and bloggers. It provides “at their fingertips” info so they don’t have to hunt it down with Google. You want to make it easy for them to pick questions to ask. They can also help them focus the interview in the direction you want.
Approaching bookstores and libraries to sell/carry your book. You can also have industry specific information about how to order your book wholesale.
Give preparatory info before speeches and presentations when doing public speaking or reaching out to book clubs.
I don’t use Canva a lot, but I loved using it for my resume. With Canva, I created a short, punchy version and a long “factual” version. I tried paying a copywriter to make one for me (as I HATE doing these things) but in the long run I think the one I came up with works best. I adapted the same bio to fit my Amazon, Goodreads, and Bookbub bios.
What is the purpose of a resume? I’m not applying for a job
The short one should hit the highlights and is for the person who needs a quick overview of who you are. They want some select pull-quotes about your background that would interest their readers (newspaper, bloggers, magazines) or listeners (podcast, radio show).
The long one is for a deeper dive into your experience and background for in-depth interviews and write-ups. This would be appropriate for a newspaper feature, or when you are the star speaker of a presentation.
Reporters and interviewers want highlights they can review in order to form interview questions more easily. Choose talking points that make you unique and show you would be a fun and easy interview for them to do.
- Name, if using a pen name, list your real name, along with all pen names.
- Email contact, address, website, and phone number
- All social media urls (spell it out so if they printed a copy they can still find you)
- List of book titles and date published
- ISBN numbers of books (ebook and print)
- A synopsis about you
- List of availability speaking topics or areas of expertise
The longer resume should have more details about your life’s journey. Where you lived, experiences, education, hobbies, and family life. Remember, what you want to share is up to you. You want to get the interviewer curious about you, especially as it comes to how your life relates back to your books.
Your book needs a resume!
Why does your book need an information sheet? For the same reasons! However, while your personal resume talked about you, your book resume/info sheet should give details about your book (or series) so the interviewer has a synopsis at hand to review.
I like to do 3 info pages for each book: one that is brief for publicity; one for bookstores and libraries; and another that is a Q&A to spark questions.
Here’s a brief list of the details I give on mine:
- Every sheet should have the author’s name and contact info.
- Book details to include are book title, book cover, and the formats available. If in print, state the size of the book and page count.
- For wholesale use, the book ISBN on that platform and contact info for easy ordering and any library trade catalogs it might be listed within.
- Sheet 1 has a summary of the book, a snippet from the story, and a few of my best reviews. It is for interviews.
- Sheet 2 has the above info, but also the wholesale purchase info. It is for booksellers and librarians.
- Sheet 3 has some Q&A specific to that book. These are the key talking points I feel are important about that book, which I’m hoping the interviewer will expound on during our talk.
Sheet 1 example: basic publicity release
Sheet 2 example: Wholesale buyer info
Sheet 3 example: Book Q&A
All of my resumes are on my About Byrd Nash page.
You will need an Author portrait or headshot
You will also need a headshot. This is a portrait photo of you, which would look good printed in color and black and white. If you can’t afford a photo-session, here are some tips on how to DIY it:
- Cellphones now have great cameras inside of them! See if yours will work.
- Clean up the background behind you so there are no stray things poking up behind your head. Some people like to have a blank wall behind them. As an author, you might like a bookshelf – just make sure it isn’t too busy looking behind you.
- Keep your clothes in solid colors or a very simple print. Don’t get something too busy. The focus should be your face.
- Don’t get “artsy-cute” with cosplay or something weird. Take a serious professional photo and if you want to throw in some fun ones, okay.
- You can take flattering photos by positioning the photographer slightly higher than you are. That is why selfies, holding the camera higher than the subject, is popular.
- Bring your chin slightly forward from your neck as if you are going to push a button with your nose.
- A three-quarter profile is often the most flattering stance. Turn one shoulder slightly to the camera and turn head towards the camera.
- Lighting should be soft but consistent all over your face. No sharp shadows. You can often get this effect by going outside on a sunny day and standing on the shady side of a building.
- Indoor photos are usually too gray, grainy, and dark to use. You can get around that by using light stands with umbrellas. I bought my set cheaply here. I used these for my own photos as it was an overcast day outside and I needed them done fast!
- Another option is to try a Socialite stand! Chose one with a light ring for indoor lightening. Not as nice as the umbrella set-up, but you can use it later for social media purposes.
- If using Photoshop, whiten your teeth and your eye-whites slightly. This can help the photo pop more.
- Provide a larger photo that can be cropped. This allows them to fit it with their own layout.
- Realize for social media that your end portrait might be round, square, or small!
What format do you use for your Media Kit documents?
I have my entire kit in a pdf that I designed in Canva. The benefit of a pdf is that no matter the computer, everyone sees it the same way.
The disadvantage is that the recipient can’t copy and paste any of it. This could be a problem. For example, if a reporter (or blogger) is writing up an article about you, she/he might like to copy your education right off your resume for the story or that book snippet onto the blog. For that reason, consider making a Word doc also to be emailed out upon request.
Provide headshots in a jpeg/jpg format, and generally with a 300 dpi quality. Ask if they have a preference.
Let’s talk branding
It’s important that your materials convey a professional image. Maybe you write some sexy stuff, but your local newspaper won’t publish a photo of you in your lingerie. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t use an interesting top border of red silk or that you can’t use a sexy book snippet (but again target your interview audience and realize that NSFW means a limited outreach).
Consider this as the branding part of your media kit:
- Colors. Body text should be black, but headlines could be a deep blue, red, or green. Don’t overdo.
- Small graphics like line separators could be in color.
- Use your logo (note my signature with my bird logo).
- Book covers are part of your branding. Try using a dark color found there.
- Image header on your page that fits your genre.
- Don’t get cute with text that is to be read – no one likes pale pink body text!
I hope I didn’t overwhelm you! When I started out, my media kit was very simple. Don’t worry if yours doesn’t contain stellar reviews and a dozen books! We all start somewhere and you can always build upon a solid foundation of what you have.