Public Speaking – Electronic Media Kits For Authors

Your book is sizzling! You just lost 25 pounds to get ready for your speaking tour. You have a great press kit, which is printed on the finest linen stock and enclosed in the most expensive shiny black presentation folder with a screen print of your book cover on the front.

Then, why aren’t all those prospective target audiences you have contacted getting back to you with public speaking engagements about your sizzling book? Well, there may be a simple answer. Many prospective audiences and professional firms, as well, are receiving booking requests and public speaking promotional materials via internet press releases as standard procedure these days. As a result, many people who frequently need to distribute press kits are now delivering them as digital or online press releases and packets, transported over the internet to target audiences to save time and create a less intrusive method of filing and updating.

Digital and online press packets and media kits do not make their hardcopy counterparts obsolete. I advise that a hardcopy always be available to hand out at public speaking events and other functions if requested. However, somewhere in your presentation materials, you should refer to the availability of a digital version of your media kit. The digital version can be stored as a page on your website for convenient download or printing, saving you the cost of postage, photographic reproduction, photocopying, printing, paper, ink and presentation folders.

  • You don’t have a website?
  • As an author and a professional practicing today, you should!

There is no need to go out and buy an expensive complicated publishing or design program to create your online media package. Unless you already know how to use design and publishing software, it can be frustrating and time-consuming, delaying any chance that you will have your digital press packet prepared in a timely fashion. Also, it can be quite expensive to hire someone to do the job for you. I suggest using a simple word processing software like MS WORD, which will give you all the flexibility and simplicity you need to create an attractive and effective digital media kit.

The best thing about MS WORD is you probably already know how to use it. Open a new document and type in your letterhead, which will consist of your name or the title of your book or both, plus your contact information. Not too fussy, though, meaning too many colors and fancy fonts. Keep it simple and elegant. Save a blank copy of the letterhead so you can cut and paste new material into it to update your kit.

I approach digital media kits the same way I approach traditional hardcopy media kits. They should contain your biographical sketch, a press release, recent event poster and contact information. Be sure to use an image of your book cover to promote yourself as a published author, which will increase your attractiveness to a wide array of target audiences. Include a headshot of yourself and photograph of you before an audience if you have one.

You may start the body of your press kit with a brief biographical sketch and a list of your speaking topics. Remember, your speaking engagement should be more than a reading from your book. Your speaking topics may be drawn from themes covered in your book. In this section, include a hyperlink to your website or to specific pages in your website where an online press release and more detailed information can be found about you, your book and the services you offer. Consult Free Publicity for Your Book for additional ideas.

Additional hyperlinks may point to video presentations on your website of you in action on the stage. It may be useful to include hyperlinks to news coverage about you or excerpts of your TV appearances. On a separate page in your media package, include a digital copy of at least one newspaper article that covers you and your book. When you have finished creating the files for your internet media kit, save them. Then place those designed materials into a PDF (portable document file) to lock the files in place and prevent changes. PDF files are very common and most users are able to open them easily.

I suggest that you restrict the media kit to a couple of pages so that you will not have to zip it. Unfortunately, some users do not have or know how to use unzip programs, making your press materials inconvenient to access for some and not accessible to others. Once the PDF file is created, you can attach it to messages to email recipients and store a copy on a page of your website. If you do not know how to create a PDF file, simply attach your MS WORD electronic media kit to an email and write the recipient a personalized message.

Remember, though, a regular MS WORD file is not locked and may be changed. Because users fear contracting a virus, they do not indiscriminately open attachments from strangers. So, be sure to let your recipients know you are sending an attachment or you may risk having your carefully crafted public speaking promotional materials cybertrashed.

How to Create Digital Publicity – A Guide for New Authors

In the good old days, everyone knew how to carry out publicity. A few months before publication, you met with your publicist. You discussed various possible publicity angles (about the book, about your own story, and so on). Your publicist tried to arrange a serialisation deal (where newspapers print extracts before publication). You whacked out review copies to all the major newspapers. Perhaps you hassled around to get a little PR on local or national radio. Maybe even TV.

And that was that. Job done. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, but you’d done what you could.

These days, it’s more complex. Newspapers have far less space given over to books and many more readers don’t consume traditional media anyway. Naturally, those all-important eyeballs have migrated to the internet and any genuinely competent PR campaign today has got to find ways to reach surfers.

Self-published authors are well aware of these facts and have long been reasonably deft about attending to their digital platform. Writers aiming at traditional commercial publication, however, have tended to think that all they need to do is address their writing. Publishers will do the rest.

That attitude is profoundly wrong. I know of only one publisher in the UK that makes a realistic attempt to help their lower budget authors with digital publicity. The others think they help but really don’t. So, almost certainly, even with a literary agent and a publisher on your side, you’re on your own.

Clearly digital publicity is potentially an endless brief. You’ll need a website, yes. A blog, for sure. A presence on Facebook, ideally. A twitter feed – you know you ought to. And what about forums? And Goodreads? And Lovereading? Potentially the journey is infinite.

I’ll outline a more detailed set of guidelines in a future post, but for now, the things you need to know are:

One, you and you alone are responsible for building a digital footprint. You may get help from elsewhere, but don’t count on it.

Second, you need to start very early indeed. Digital publicity can be powerful but it takes time to build. A year is a short lead time, so if possible get started now.

Third, you need to understand your own brand. That’s harder than it sounds. If you write non-fiction books about management skills, then clearly that’s your brand, it’s what you’re going to major on in your online work. On the other hand, if you write contemporary fiction, it’s much harder to identify and reach the audience that matters most to you. Nevertheless, you have to try.

Fourth, you need to think from the outset about search engines and how to use them. If you write books about the history of the Papacy, then clearly “Papacy” is going to be a key search term for you. But there are 3,000,000 pages on Amazon that reference the term and the top entries on Google are dominated by big outfits like Wikipedia. Can you realistically compete with those guys? Maybe, maybe not. But it’s a process that requires careful aforethought because the very design of your website and blog will be affected by these decisions.

And fifth, you need to figure out who you are. If you find you naturally love Twitter, then pursue a Twitter-led strategy. If, like me, you really don’t like Twitter but are comfortable blogging, then pursue that. But either way, you do need to persist. Occasional bouts of intensive activity are pretty much useless. This is a stone you have to keep rolling.

It’s sad that authors have to think about these things. It’s more work than in the past, and you get less money not more. But I don’t make the rules – and if you want to succeed as an author, then digital publicity is a fabulous route to success. Some self-pub authors have sold a million books through online means. That’s the kind of track record that would have your literary agent speechless with admiration. So it can be done. You need to do it. Go for it – and good luck.

Is There a Future for Public Libraries? How Will They Evolve As E-Books Eclipse the Paper Book?

In the battle between traditional books and E-books, many would say traditional books are on the path to retreat. While Kindles and Kobos provide a simple, compact, technological alternative to the burden and clutter of weighty paper tomes, it may be hard to argue in favour of the traditional book. E-books and E-readers make accessing literature as simple and convenient as the click of a mouse. Compare that to the tactile experience of traveling to a book store or library, searching bodily for a volume and physically carrying it to and fro.

But do the boons of the changing literary technology render the traditional book and it’s once ubiquitous community outlet – the library, obsolete?

To me, a frequent library patron and lover of books, it would be a crying shame to close the communities’ libraries. In the matter of the physical book versus the electronic version, it can be a matter of personal preference. Some prefer to collect and build up their bookshelves, some just like the feel of thumbing the pages, for others it goes further involving nostalgia and childhood memories. But is the practicality of housing, transporting and manufacturing the paper book becoming simply not worth it?

I could go on about the virtues of the paper book and how I believe enthusiasts like myself will ensure they never completely fade away. But the library issue is about more than paper vs click. Many would argue that as long as people are reading, what matters the format? E-books are cheaper, easier on the environment, available at a click. True, all true. But let’s get back to libraries.

If E-books, and the receding popularity of reading in its traditional sense are to blame for the closure of libraries then the libraries must evolve. And many are. Many libraries across the modern world are digitizing their collections. Unfortunately government cuts in funding to public libraries have been increasing steadily since the 1990s. Ironically, this makes it difficult for libraries to modernize, making themselves more accessible to today’s public.

Many of you might be thinking back on the last time you set foot in a public library. Was it that research paper in 4th year? Yes, library attendance is going down. But for a large segment of the population it provides a much needed haven. For years libraries have been providing a bridge over the digital divide, providing computer and internet access freely to the public. Providing a warm place to go, learn and feel connected is a vital service our community needs.

So all that to pose the question:

Do you see an evolution or an extinction of the world’s public libraries?