What You Must Know When Building Your Press Kit
If you’re self-publishing a Christian book, there are some things—particularly as they relate to building your press kit for a media pitch—that you need to know. And if you’re doing your own publicity work, there may be no one around to tell them to you. I hope that’s where I can help.
As a longtime publicist and literary agent in the Christian media industry, I’ve worked on hundreds of book campaigns, including a dozen New York Times bestsellers, and have been blessed to work with some of the biggest names our industry has offered. I’ve been on set and in studio many times, not just at top faith-based outlets like CBN, Moody Radio, and Daystar, but also at places like Fox News, the Today Show, and GMA.
And because I’ve been blessed to work with some amazing people and have had some doors opened for me, I’ve also cultivated some great relationships with producers over the years. Those relationships have allowed me to hear from them the truth about what they like and don’t like for media kits and pitches from authors and publicists. And while I’m paraphrasing here, I want to share what I’ve heard with you. Some of it may not be easy to hear, but it’s the truth.
Tips for building your press kit
1. Cut the flowery language.
Flowery marketing language or back cover/inside flap copy is not what a TV/radio/podcast producer wants to read. When it comes to your book description, they don’t want to—and many times, won’t—read through a 300-word paragraph to figure out what your book is and whether it’s for their audience.
So, cut the hyperbole (never use words like ‘sensational’, ‘fantastic’, ‘dreamy’, ‘revolutionary’, ‘one-of-a-kind’, ‘life-changing’ to describe your work, unless you’d rather solicit an eye roll than a response) and get right to the point. What is it, who is it for, and what’s it going to do for them? Because, you must always know and remember that if a segment is offered to you, it’s not for you, it’s for the audience. You’re a prop and you’re there to benefit the viewers/listeners. So, how can you? Shoot for one hundred words or fewer. Along these same lines…
2. Your book is not special.
Particularly if you’re a Christian author. There’s nothing you can write about that hasn’t been written about before and probably three times this month. TV/radio/podcast producers get hundreds of pitches per week or month and the odds that your book is the first they’ve been pitched recently on prayer or pain or even an NDE (near-death experience) are zero. Instead, explain what exactly it is about your story/perspective that’s (likely) different from the others. Three to five bullet points are great.
3. No one cares about your grandkids.
Or your dog. TV/radio/podcast producers don’t want your life story. So, cut down that bio and give them what matters. What is that, you ask? Well, that depends partially on the topic of your book and what you’re proposing to them you will be on their show to talk about. What can you include in that bio that will correlate and strengthen your case as an informed, experienced, dynamic, entertaining guest? That will distinguish you, separate you from the pack, and make you interesting? Your bio, like your book description, should ideally be 100 words or fewer.
4. So what? And why you?
Everyone has something ‘important’ to say. Something that millions of people ‘have to hear.’ Fine, but know that every email they read contains an ‘important message’ that millions of people need to receive. So, your job is to summarize why it’s important, at this point in time, to a particular audience. What will change because of their getting this information or perspective? How will they benefit? And why the heck are you the one that should deliver this important information?
As I mentioned earlier, your book isn’t unique. So, assuming there are other authors/experts/speakers available and probably already on their radar to tackle a topic, why are you the most unique, relevant, and credentialed among them? Along those lines…
5. Who do you say Jesus is?
If you’re a Christian author, pitching Christian media, as important as anything else in your press materials, is a statement of faith. What do you believe? Where were you educated? Where do you attend church? Did you pastor or lead a group or study? Christian media are extraordinarily finicky about who they’ll share their airwaves with and particularly if there will be ‘teaching’ involved.
6. How do I know you won’t put my audience to sleep?
You can be the smartest person in the room and a heck of a writer… and have no business doing television or radio. It’s OK. It’s not for everyone. But a TV/radio/podcast producer wants some proof, before they book you, that you’re not a total snooze fest. So, give ‘em proof.
I almost always provide a link or two, where a producer can listen/watch a previous interview that will prove that our client is engaging and informative. If you don’t have one, get one. Do a friend’s podcast or conduct a livestream of your own with a co-host or guest. Produce something you feel good about sharing (and before you do, get a number of eyeballs on it that aren’t related or married to you). Beyond serving as proof that you’re a viable guest, it’ll be great practice. And if you’re a first-time author, you probably need it.
About the Author
A longtime literary agent and publicist, Jason Jones is the founder of Jones Literary, LLC (https://www.jonesliterary.com/) in Nashville, TN and the creator of The Publicist Starter Kit. Also, the author of Landing Local Media: An Actionable Guide to Help Self-Published Authors Book Local Press and host of The Book Publicist Podcast, he has worked with over 300 authors, including Eric Metaxas, John MacArthur, George Barna, Bob Goff, Michael Youssef, Michael Heiser, John Stonestreet, Jack Graham, Emerson Eggerichs, John Rainey, Hillary Morgan Ferrer and many other pastors, ministries and non-profits.