Are you guilty of these author press kit blunders?

author press kit

What’s in your online author press kit and how is it presented?

If you’re looking for book publicity — free media exposure — you have to:

  • Have an author press kit on your website
  • Include the right elements with the right information
  • Present it in a format that’s easy for all journalists to use

Are you making any of these common author press kit mistakes that are interfering with your ability to effectively promote your book? Don’t worry if you are — all of these can be fixed easily:

1. You don’t have an online press room with an author press kit.

Get out! No press room? No press kit? No media information? You need to read “Must-have online press room elements for authors and books” before you go any further.

Actually, most authors don’t have one, which means those who do are light years ahead of their competition when it comes to priceless book publicity.

When I’m looking for an expert author to interview for a magazine article assignment and have two choices, which one do you think I’ll contact — the one with a press kit or the one without? When I see an online press kit, I think, “This person wants to be interviewed. I won’t have to talk him into it.”

Unless you’re trying to hide from the press, you need one. It’s expected; it’s useful.

2. Your press materials are only in PDF format.

Here’s the problem with PDFs: You want journalists to copy and paste your press releases, fact sheets, bios, etc. In many cases, when someone copies text from a PDF and drops it into Word or another program, all formatting is lost. The journalist has to manually insert paragraph returns and so on.

That’s a problem.

So you want your press materials available in a format that lets people copy and paste easily. That’s plain text in the same way that the text on your “about” page is plain text.

Ditch the PDFs, even though you see publishers and publicists using them. They create problems.

Candy Harrington’s press room is a great example of how to do it the right way. Select “press releases,” then click on any headline to see how easy it is to copy and paste the text.

3. There’s no date on your press releases.

When your book announcement press release doesn’t have a date, I don’t know if the book is new or three years old.

Perhaps you’ve got a press release listing your bookstore appearances, but you haven’t included the year. A journalist compiling a local calendar of events won’t be able to use the information without taking extra steps to confirm that it’s current. As soon as you force reporters to take unnecessary steps, you lose them.

4. You don’t provide contact information.

This is incredibly common, probably because it doesn’t occur to you that someone might want to contact you for an interview or to ask a few questions.

Picture this*: A local network TV affiliate is searching online for local romance authors for a new twist on the usual Valentine’s Day segment.

The reporter finds your site, is thrilled to see that you have a press room, but can’t find your contact information on that section of your site, in your press releases, or on your site at all, for that matter (another common problem).

That will probably cost you that publicity opportunity.

5. There are no images.

Not that you need a lot of them, but you do need your book cover and an author head shot.

Make them available in both high-resolution (“high res” is 300 dpi or greater) and low-resolution (“low res” is less than 300 dpi) versions. Publications need high-res images; bloggers and websites like low-res.

6. You haven’t clearly identified the press room where you house your author press kit.

Label it clearly on your toolbar.

Title options include:

  • Press Room
  • Press Kit
  • For the Media
  • For the Press
  • Newsroom

Many authors, experts, and others have a section identified as “Media,” which tricks journalists into thinking that they’ll find press kit elements there. What they find instead are reprints or links to articles or segments that include an interview with the author. That’s good — reporters like knowing that their interview won’t be your first — but it’s misleading.

If you have a “media” page that showcases your publicity success but doesn’t have press materials, add them so you’re both serving and attracting journalists.

Make sure you create an online press kit and house it in on your website so that you not only support your publicity efforts, but so that you improve your site’s search engine optimization — SEO — too.

Avoid mistakes by using templates

Need help creating your online press kit? “Build Book Buzz Publicity Forms & Templates” has a template and sample for every author press kit element, from your book announcement press release to your bio and sample question and answer sheet.

Learn more at

What do you call your online press room? Tell us in a comment.

*Channeling my inner Sophia Petrillo

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Sandra Beckwith is an award-winning former publicist who now teaches authors how to market their books. Three groups have recognized her site as an outstanding resource for authors, so you know her advice is author-tested.

Download Sandra’s free “Top 5 Free Book Promotion Resources” and you’ll also receive the free weekly “Build Book Buzz” newsletter loaded with book marketing tips and advice.

10 Responses to Are you guilty of these author press kit blunders?
  1. Idelle Kursman
    June 21, 2017 | 12:27 pm

    Thank you for this article, Sandra. I just put up my website and was informed I don’t have a distributor to sell my book. Any suggestions? My book is enrolled in IngramSpark.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      June 21, 2017 | 2:08 pm

      Idelle, IngramSpark’s sister company, Ingram, is a book distributor. You need to create demand for the book for it to get stocked by stores and libraries, though.


      • Idelle Kursman
        June 21, 2017 | 3:58 pm

        But will they distribute my book for me on my website?

        • Sandra Beckwith
          June 21, 2017 | 4:15 pm

          There’s a difference between “distributing” and “selling.” YOU — nobody else — can sell from your website. When you sell from your own website, you’re the seller (but honestly, people don’t buy from authors directly — you’re better off linking to Amazon and other retail sites like Barnes & Noble and Booksamillion).

          You also want your book available for purchase on Amazon, where most books purchased online are sold. Amazon is the seller in that case.

          A distributor gets your book into traditional retail locations — stores. The store is then the entity that “sells” the book.


  2. Tina Gilbertson
    June 21, 2017 | 8:39 pm

    Hoo boy, Sandy. You got me with this one. I always had in the back of my mind that I needed something other than what I have on my website, but this article told me exactly what’s missing and what to do about it. I can’t thank you enough for bringing clarity to this subject.
    It’s remarkable that although my book has been out for three years, I’m *still* learning from you how to be a better book marketer. I’m so grateful. No one is better than you at what you do.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      June 21, 2017 | 9:21 pm

      What a nice thing to say, Tina. Thank you so much! I’m glad this one struck a chord with you, too! Don’t you love those “ahas”?


  3. Wendy Owen
    June 21, 2017 | 9:57 pm

    Incredibly useful info Sandy. I’m just creating my author website so will include these details. I’m participating in a joint author book soon, so need to get a move on!

    • Sandra Beckwith
      June 21, 2017 | 9:59 pm

      I’m so glad it was helpful, Wendy. Thanks for letting me know! Good luck with the website — I hope you enjoy the process.


  4. Micki Peluso
    June 24, 2017 | 6:06 pm

    Great article and just in time for the release of my next book. I have ever thing that goes in a press release but not labeled as such. So I better get working on it.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      June 24, 2017 | 6:49 pm

      Good luck pulling your press kit together, Micki. I’m glad you’ve got a good starting point.


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