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Friday, February 22, 2008

What to Put in Your Media Packet

Your media packet represents you to the media and to conference organizers or others who might be interested in your work. Your publisher will probably instruct your publicist to put together one for you. Typically the publisher will have a list of outlets they’ve worked with in the past. So, it’s best to ask for that list and supplement it by sending out your own kits. You can also share your media kit at conferences because it’s not unusual for book reviewers, bookstores, and publications to attend. If you have a copy of your media kit with you, it’s easy enough to hand it out on the spot. Do ask first, however. Some folks would rather you mail your kit to them later.

Here’s the point: Your publicist will never send out as many media kits as you’d like. And you can’t pass one along if you don’t have it. So putting together a media kit is a wise idea. Besides, it really isn’t that hard.

Start by Preparing Your Folders

Start by buying folders with pockets from an office supply store. Or ordering nicer quality folders from places like Paper Direct. (

Ask your publisher to “over-run” the cover of your book. Do this before they go to press. After they finish printing all the covers they need for your press run, they will keep the color press going and crank out more covers. This makes the additional covers very, very cheap. What costs the most is the set-up of the press.

Adhere the cover to the front of your folder OR slip it inside your folder.

If you don’t have copies of your cover, you can simply label the outside of the folder. For my book The Best of British Scrapbooking, I created labels that said:

The Best of British Scrapbooking
Media Kit
Contact: Joanna Campbell Slan

You want the folder to be quickly and easily identified as YOUR information. Sure, a color copy of your cover looks great, but the media are pretty pragmatic. They are more concerned about a good interview possibility than about stuff being fancy.

Tip: Another option is to include a copy of your book cover on a CD. Also put your photo on the CD.

Tip: If you are simply sending a book in hopes of a review, just slip your information inside the front cover and dispense with the folder. Do be sure, however, that all your information includes your contact details.

Create the Guts of Your Media Kit

Your Author Photo

Sad to say, the media are more likely to interview you if you are attractive. So you need a great author photo. The mood of your photo should enhance your credibility. If you have written a thriller, and you appear pleasant and smiling in your photo, you’ve done yourself a disservice.
Okay, here’s the controversy: If you never wear makeup and you do just for your author photo, will folks recognize you at conferences? My vote is to be the best YOU possible, not to tweak your image so much you don’t match the picture.

Be sure your photographer knows you are using this photo for publicity and sells all rights to you. Otherwise, you can have problems later.

Ask your photographer how much he will charge to make 4” x 6” copies.

Tip: I ordered 100 copies of a 4”x 6” color shot for less than $10 with shipping from Snapfish. (

Tip: Keep on the lookout for Snapfish coupons in scrapbooking magazines.

Tip: You could have 100 color copies of your cover made by Snapfish. Just load the cover as you would a photo.

Media Release

You need a simple release, one-page long that quickly describes the “who, what, when, where, why and how” of your message. Answer those questions and you’ll have the guts of the release.
Now, let’s work backwards. What’s the most interesting aspect of what you’ve done? Consider what makes anything newsworthy:

1. Sex (if that’s part of your book or your book’s hook, go for it)

2. Money (see above. Also were you given an enormous advance? If you were, what the heck are you doing reading this? Give me a break.)

3. Location (Are you local? Are you a small town person with a New York publisher? Is your book set in or near the area covered by the media you are targeting?)

4. Number of people affected (My book is about scrapbooking, and by one estimate there are 32 million scrapbookers in this country alone. That’s a big number. If your book affects or is about a lot of people or a problem that could affect a lot of people mention that.)

5. Blood, guts and tragedy (Of course, if it’s a mystery, there’s bound to be some of that. Otherwise…is your killer unique? Or some part of your story fascinating. For example, Darkly Dreaming Dexter is about a serial killer.)

6. Celebrity (Are you famous? Is your story about someone who is famous? Perhaps you’ve written a roman a clef about someone in the news. Share that. Also, someone can be a celebrity in an industry or in an area, but not a national celebrity, so don’t disregard your stint on the city council too quickly.)

7. Unique (Are you the oldest person to be given a publishing contract? One of a family of sextuplets? Are you a Siamese twin? Distantly related to George Washington’s slaves? The only person in your state to ever write a book? Whatever makes you one of a kind is newsworthy.)
Human Interest (If you love kittens and your book is about one, or if you have a sappy ending or if you wrote this book because your dying grandmother begged you to…share that.)

Standard media release format is always used for these. See the sample at the end of this piece.

Tip: A press release is a release that only goes to the press: magazines and papers. So the term "media release" is more current and all-encompassing.

Reviews and Blurbs

Create a sheet with all your blurbs. If you have already had media coverage, copy those articles and put them in the packet. If you’ve made any appearances on television or radio, you can include a CD or put in a page with links to those videos and audios. If you’ve had any public speaking background, you might wish to include this. Broadcast media—radio and tv—want to know if you can handle yourself on air and if you are well-spoken. Make sure that your information answers that question for them.

A Tip Sheet or a List

If it applies to your book, you can produce a tip sheet. For example, if your book is about a pet-sitter, you could write Ten Tops Tips for Pet-Sitters.

Another take on this is a list. So you might create Ten Things to Ask Your Pet-Sitter.

An Author Bio

Try to stay away from clich├ęs or long-winded information that’s not interesting. Think of the highlights of your life and why you were the right person to write this book. The main reason to do an author bio is to enhance your credibility, so stress your qualifications as an author. If this is your first book, what else have you written? (If the answer is “nothing,” you must be the luckiest person on earth. However, knowing that the media will want to know all this…write something! Create a blog. Contribute to an organization’s newsletter. Freelance articles.

Sample Interview or Sample Questions or an Author Q & A

The more of the media’s job you do for them, the more likely they are to cover you. So…think like a reporter and interview yourself. To get a sense of what questions a reporter might ask, read interviews with authors in your newspaper. (If your newspaper doesn’t interview authors, check out the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and book editor Jane Henderson. Or, go to websites of prominent authors you admire and read interviews with them.)


If you can’t include a copy of your book, include an excerpt. Bes ure to get your publisher's permission.

Cover Letter

Go ahead and ask for what you want! If you’re hoping for a review, tell the media that you’ll be happy to send a copy of your book for review purposes. If you’re hoping for an interview, tell them you are available in person or by phone. But…you are not the greatest thing since sliced bread, so be straightforward and business like. For example, “I hope you’ll be interested in reviewing my book. If you are, simply email me and I’ll get you a copy.” OR “I’m available for radio interviews, and I hope that you will consider me as a guest on an upcoming program.”

Media Release (This should be centered, but won't let me without centering everything! Use 16 point type and a serif font. Serifs are those funny little feet on letters. This is a serif font. This isn't.)

For Immediate Release: (today’s date)
Contact: (Your publicist or you)
Phone: (Make sure you will be available. Don’t give them a number and go on vacation!)
Email address:

Local Scrapbooking Celebrity Sets Mystery Series in St. Louis (centered)

After writing ten non-fiction books and establishing herself in the scrapbooking world as a celebrity, Joanna Campbell Slan claims it is no mystery why she chose St. Louis as the setting for her new mystery series which begins with the release of PAPER, SCISSORS, DEATH on September 13, 2008. “Our town absolutely fascinates me. You couldn’t find a richer more complex setting for a series,” says Slan.

PAPER, SCISSORS, DEATH features Kiki Lowenstein, a woman who has only ever been good at two things in life: scrapbooking and getting pregnant. After the suspicious death of her husband, Lowenstein is forced to sell her home in Ladue. But her daughter continues to attend a private school modeled after MICDS, where Slan’s son went. During the course of the book, the protagonist will travel to the City Museum to visit the World Aquarium and its famous two-headed snake, We.

“Did I model the private school after MICDS, heck, yes. St. Louis has more private schools than Chicago does, and we’re one-quarter the size of the Windy City. There’s definitely a whole private school culture here which is rich in tradition,” says Slan. “The challenge for any writer is to create an alternative universe that is new for the reader. But at the same time, it must be realistic. So I used the world I’ve gotten to know.”

Slan is well-known to scrapbookers. Here in the US, they’ve nicknamed her “The Journaling Goddess,” and in the UK they call her “America’s Scrapbooking Queen.” She’s written for all the industry magazines, taught at major conventions, and founded a contest for scrapbookers in the UK. She is also the author of seven books on the subject, teaches it online, and writes an online newsletter which reaches 4,000 readers. Her first book Scrapbook Storytelling came out when the hobby was young and sold 85,000 copies.

PAPER, SCISSORS, DEATH is the first book in the Kiki Lowenstein Scrap-N-Craft Mystery series. The ISBN is 0-7387-1250-7 and it is available through all booksellers. For more about Slan or scrapbooking go to her website:
--30-- (This is newspaper slang for "The End.")

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