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The success of a traveling troupe of authorsA professionally assembled press kit is one of the most important tools an author can have while waiting for your next big novel to go viral on the internet.
Let me preface the article with a disclaimer. This is only the opinion of this new author, based on the experiences of the following practices named in the article since October 2011.First of all, the several writers groups, crit groups, seminars, workshops, and online classes I have been privileged to be a member of have allowed me to pick up tricks of the trade, and have a head start when my first novel was published. Without them, I would be floundering around trying to figure out what to do. Oh, I continue to learn, research, and try to find the next big marketing secret, and will continue to do so. However today, I want to share a success story with you that came about quite by accident. Keep in mind, I had a website set up, a blog, joined all the social sites necessary, etc. With all that in place, I felt pretty confident I had covered all the bases. Not so. At several different writing groups, programs were presented about the importance of a press kit. You would take these kits and approach the newspapers, TV, radio, and so on. VERY important, yes indeed. Different speakers suggested different materials to be assembled in this press kit. If you do not have a press kit assembled think about preparing one. It sure comes in handy.
One of my troupe and I decided we needed to find more venues to have book signings. Another troupe member invited us to a festival to share a booth and that invitation set us off on a whirlwind ride. We bonded, and included another member.The newspapers sometimes run your press release, and sometimes they don’t, but when a business approaches the newspaper for a promotion the papers seem to listen. So press kit in hand, we dressed in our business suits, kits tucked away in a nice portfolio, along with our book, ready to shake hands with the proprietors of the towns. To our pleasant surprise, these proprietors took notice that we arrived dressed professionally, well spoken, with portfolio in hand. One venue even served us tea and crumpets while we discussed the possibility of the event. When she asked us what our books were about, where we were from, etc., we each pulled out our preassembled press releases with every possible piece of information. Bios, blurbs about our book, head shots, even the book itself. She was impressed and signed us right away. The well thought out press kit sold her. She had all the information to help us promote the signing and had nothing more to do. The promo was in a couple of newspapers in our area, there was an ad run on the local radio stations, and when we arrived for the actual event, our head shots, one pages, book covers were set up nicely on a bulletin board right by the door. That was one of the most successful signings we’ve had. (We have since returned to that venue, and will continue to do so; they were so taken by the group.) It isn’t always easy to appear personally at a venue to set up a signing, and I have set up a professional email which includes most of the elements necessary to convey what they need to know about me and my next best seller. I have had wonderful response from that, in fact, that is how I acquired two television appearances in a town almost two hours from me. Set up a professional looking email and include every piece of information they might need in a neat, concise package.
What has our success rate been? Well, we have not had an open weekend since January of this year, and we are booked through the summer and beyond. Are we selling books? Yes!In this highly competitive field, people online are overwhelmed with authors trying to sell their books. It’s wonderful to see so much talent out there! But, if you are looking to make a little money while you wait for the royalties to come in, don’t discount a good old–fashioned book signing.
What is in a press kit? This is only a partial list; feel free to tweak your kit to fit your needs. I’d love to hear what you put in yours!
1. A short bio, a medium bio, a longer bio. If you have all three, you will be prepared to present what the vendor requires on the spot. Be efficient.
2. A professional headshot. If you cannot afford a professional picture present the best photo you have for your press kit.
3. A One Page….this is a page designed anyway you like on your document that gives a description of you, along with headshot, and a description of your book with a picture of your book cover. This way, if they need corporate permission, they can scan this One Page to the corporate office. Be sure and include your email and website on this page. I have used this often. All the information on one page. Neat and tidy.
4. A professional invoice. Think positive, you will sell the corporate office. Have an invoice with a picture of you on the header, email, website, AND the price of the book already to go. All you have to do is fill in the name of the corporation and the date and voila, they can fax it immediately.
5. Business cards with your email and/or website.
6. Book marks. These are great giveaways even to the vendors. It will keep you in their mind after you leave.
7. A list of questions. I have a list of 5 most important questions I would want someone to ask, say for a radio or television interview. I also have a list of 10 questions for blogging interviews, and being the optimist I am, a list of 20 questions for a more intense interview. If you provide the questions, the vendor is less likely to have to scratch his head wondering what he will ask you. Plus, if you hone your answers, you will be prepared to answer impromptu questions, such as I had to do on my two television appearances.
Think about forming a troupe. The best case scenario...people who live in separate towns close enough to travel to and fro. Advertise those people on your flyers. Don’t discount passing out flyers in the town you will be appearing in. It works.
These are all I am going to share at this time. I’d love feedback on what you provide in your press kit and how you use one.
When you present a professional look, when you are prepared, the doors open.
Happy writing and Happy marketing!