by Lisa Norman
A marketing guru was talking to authors and advised them to be “media ready” before hiring a marketing assistant. I watched most of the authors in the virtual room look confused.
I work with authors, and many of them are not "media ready." You can tell those that are: their sales are higher.
What does it mean to be media ready?
Being media ready means that you will present yourself as a professional if you get the chance to be on a podcast, blog interview, or television show.
I watched an author botch an appearance on "The View." When the hosts started asking her questions, she stopped them and asked them to introduce themselves. She had a ten-minute segment and she wasted valuable moments because she didn't know who Whoopi Goldberg was.
Another author I met had an opportunity for a piece of great promo. She hadn't made sure her website was on a stable platform. A few minutes into a national interview, her server crashed because it couldn't handle the traffic.
What can an author do to become media ready?
1. Start with a website.
You want to prove you are professional. In the following points, I’ll give you ideas of things to include, but at the very least, make sure your site is on a solid hosting platform, has SSL (encryption–ask your hosting company), and a pleasing theme. Doesn’t need to be fancy.
2. Have a media kit or an “about” page on your website.
3. Have a good bio.
Media professionals (bloggers, interviewers, and publicity folks) will use your bio to promote and introduce you. If you are asked to do a speaking engagement, they may read part of it before you speak. Make sure your bio is current and well written–make sure it sounds good when read aloud.
4. Have a current headshot.
You want to look approachable and professional. Note that this does not mean stiff and formal! Consider what will appeal to your audience.
5. License the headshot so that media pros can use it.
Every photo has an implied copyright and can not be used without permission. Those permissions are also called a “license.” If you or your friend take the picture and you agree that it belongs to you and that you are free to distribute it widely, then you own the license to that photo. You can give permission to media professionals to use it.
If you have the photo taken by a professional photographer, the photographer owns the rights to that photo. They may give you the rights to use it. This comes in the form of a letter that you keep. Some photographers request that you add a link to their website or list their name on every photo, for example.
Make sure that you know the license for the photo and that you share the information clearly. This shows that you are a professional. If you put the photo on your media kit, most media professionals will assume that it is licensed for their use. If you include credits on the photo, they should also include them, but if your photographic use license specifies credits are required, make that note wherever you share the image.
6. Have a social media presence.
Put visible links to your social media platforms on your website and in your media kit. On your social media platforms, have genuine interactions with people. Don’t let your social media be all about sales. Media professionals want to see that you are an interesting person, not a multi-level marketing tiger. Promotion isn’t all about selling books. There is more to marketing than sales. By interacting like a human being instead of a marketer on social media, you prove you understand this. Let whoever is searching out your presence see that you connect with humans well.
7. Learn how publicity and marketing work.
For example, don’t expect that this media engagement will only sell books. Be aware that sometimes you are increasing your exposure, getting your name into people’s minds, gathering social media followers, etc.
8. Know what a conversion looks like.
A conversion is a fancy term for when a marketing campaign succeeds. Success is what you define as your goal. Sometimes this means a person buys your book. It can also mean that they sign up for your newsletter or in other ways become a staunch fan.
Would you rather have someone:
a) buy your book or
b) ask their librarian to buy your book?
(Answer is b - because libraries buy several copies at a time, and if the librarian likes your book, they’ll recommend it to people. Librarians sell a lot of books.)
9. Know how to speak in public.
This may mean taking a public speaking class or just pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. Make eye contact (yes, even on Zoom) and engage with people. Work on banning “um” from your vocabulary. Show up looking and sounding like the professional that you are.
If you’ve done these 9 things, you will be more attractive to media outlets, bloggers, podcasters, and speaking gigs.
What are some other ideas you have for becoming media ready? Please share them with us down in the comments!
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Lisa Norman's passion has been writing since she could hold a pencil. While that is a cliché, she is unique in that her first novel was written on gum wrappers. As a young woman, she learned to program and discovered she has a talent for helping people and computers learn to work together and play nice. When she's not playing with her daughter, writing, or designing for the web, she can be found wandering the local beaches.
Lisa writes as Deleyna Marr and is the owner of Deleyna's Dynamic Designs, a web development company focused on helping writers, and Heart Ally Books, an indie publishing firm. She teaches for Lawson Writer's Academy.
Interested in learning more from Lisa? See her teaching schedule below.
- January: Crazy Easy Awesome-Author Websites (a basic, hands-on website building class for authors)
- March: Crazy Easy Social Media for Authors