As a poet (or as a person, really), the idea of developing a media kit and getting exposure can seem scary. And while it may be out of your comfort zone, it can’t be overstated: developing a media kit is a crucial component in spreading the message that you’re a published poet, that your work is available and out in the world, and that people should read it. We’ve talked a bit about how to pitch niche, trade, and literary publications and establish yourself in the industry, but as part of your promotional marketing efforts for your self-published poetry collection, developing a media kit is a must.
Credibility is everything. Your work needs to be solid and compelling, but so too does your marketing. Having a polished and prepped media kit to hand to publishing companies, organizations, and media outlets demonstrates that you’re serious about your craft and that you have your act together (even when it might not feel that way). Even if it seems like an illusion, just having this kit assembled will put you shoulders above other self-published authors struggling to be heard.
Annnddd, it makes it easy to promote you. Someone reaches out and wants to do an article about you? Boom, send over that media kit and you’re good to go.
What to include when developing a media kit
Just as you do when you introduce yourself in real life, the first thing you’ll need to include when developing a media kit is your bio. We’re going for concise, impactful, and tailored to your work as a poet. You may be a prize winning baker, but if it’s not relevant to your work as a self-published poet, let’s leave that out of this bio. The goal here is to keep it between 100-200 words, which tends to be the standard, and make it clear who you are and what you do. For example, “Jennifer is a literature professor and self-published haiku poet.”
If you’ve been published in any trade publications, received notable press coverage, or have a degree or other relevant qualifications, you’ll want to include this in your bio as well.
If you’re stuck on how to format your bio, or if you struggle with trying to figure out how to talk about yourself, take a look at other authors and poets you admire and see how they’ve formatted their bios on their website and media kits. Or check out our other resources on how to create a rocking author bio.
In addition to your written bio, make sure you’re including a high-resolution headshot (300 dpi is the standard) in a PNG or JPG file that journalists can use for articles about you. You can take the photo on your own, but hiring a professional to take several headshots you can be proud of is a solid investment. And don’t forget to list your website and all contact information so that interested media outlets can reach you.
A press release
Press releases are one of the top tools publications use to clue themselves in on newsworthy stories and information to share with their audience. But here’s the catch: especially with the advent of digital self-publishing, more books are being released than ever before. A press release needs not only to highlight you and your new collection, but it also needs to have a catchy angle that makes it newsworthy to a larger audience.
Because press releases are meant to be timely and can become dated quickly, it’s best to include this in your media kit when you’re in the middle of the launch of a new self-published poetry collection, but you can remove it otherwise. According to Reedsy Blog, components you’ll want to include in your press release are a catchy headline, a synopsis of your self-published poetry collection, launch details, contact details, details on how to get the book, and an image of the book that can be used in an article.
A sell sheet
A sell sheet acts as the one-page flyer or resume for your book. It provides a concise list of details about the book that makes it easier for journalists to promote it and for readers to find it, learn more, or purchase. It’s also something bookstores can use for ordering purposes. According to Reedsy Blog, a sell sheet should include the title of your collection, your name or pen name, genre, price, total number of pages, ISBN (if you have one), date of publication, brief overview of the contents, formats the book is available in, and when it is available for sale. You should also include a photo of the book, your headshot, and any testimonials or reviews about the collection.
Excerpts of your work
If your media kit is going to be used specifically for the launch of your new collection, you’ll want to include poems from the collection. But if the media kit is meant to be evergreer, and you’re using it to promote your work as a whole, then take this opportunity to curate examples of your best work that speaks to who you are and your craft. A good rule of thumb is to include the first few pages of a new release.
Now that you’ve got the components outlined that you’ll need for the media kit, it’s time to start building it! We strongly recommend putting all content in a Word document before you even think about design to avoid additional roadblocks further along in the process and to ensure you’re happy with it from the beginning. If you have a trusted friend, advisor, or colleague, ask them to read through the media kit at this stage to get their feedback and to establish what tweaks need to be made. Another thing to consider before heading to design is your existing branding.
Do you already have a logo, brand tagline, and color scheme? This is a chance to reinforce consistency in who you are and what you do. Branding isn’t required, but we recommend establishing it as you grow your reputation as a poet and author to create a visual identity that will help you as you develop your audience. There’s always the option to hire a professional graphic designer, but if you have that DIY spirit, check out these resources on how to design and establish your own branding and logo:
Once you’re ready to design your media kit, you can again choose to DIY it or hire a designer to assist. We recommend putting your media kit in either PowerPoint or PDF format (why not both!?!) and making it eye-catching but simple. Minimalism wins here.
Take a look at these media kit templates to get some inspiration:
It’s done . . . now what?
So you’ve made it through organization, writing, and design, and you’ve got yourself a sparkly new media kit. Now what? It’s time to use it! Make sure to include it on your website with the best contact info to reach you or your media contact for any press inquiries. And don’t just react . . . be proactive with it! Just as you did when you submitted your poems for publication, you can proactively pitch your collection with the press release, or submit the media kit to publications and journalists to secure media coverage about you and your work. It’s also critical that you keep your media kit up-to-date and make changes to it on a regular basis.
And while you’re working on getting media coverage, also start preparing for those press inquiries that do come in. Practice interviews with your friends, partner, loved ones, or your literary agent. Develop a Q&A list with questions you think you’ll be asked based on your work and media kit. How you conduct those interviews will vary depending on whether it’s in a broadcast or print format, but check out this resource from the APA on how to prepare.