Designing the Virtual Press Kit
edited: Sunday, April 21, 2002
By Howard Hopkins
Posted: Saturday, October 27, 2001
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An article on designing PDF Press Kits.
When I first began trying to publicize my novels online, I encountered a number of obstacles. First, I write print westerns under a pseudonym, Lance Howard, and ebooks under my own name. This, I quickly discovered, created a bit of confusion. I needed a way to separate Lance Howard from Howard Hopkins, while at the same time letting folks know they were the same author.
I also "paint" ebook covers, design promotional cards, postcards and bookmarks for other writers and needed a way to get this information across without cramming up my signature lines or diluting their impact.
The press kit seemed like a partial answer; that way I could delegate sections for my books, my ebooks and my artwork. Why partial? Well, designing a press kit takes a lot of time and consideration and an author wants to make it look as professional as possible. Yet at the same time the costs involved can be astronomical. Printing the individual elements on quality paper, color, sturdy folders, business cards for the inside pocket and postage to send them to various sources add up quick. And while press kits are effective where physical newspapers, magazines, or radio are involved, they don't solve the problem of online promotion very well. Since I wanted to focus on my ebooks and e-art, that was a quandary.
Enter the Virtual Press Kit. I am not sure why I didn't hit upon the idea sooner. I had been publishing an electronic magazine for half a year, all the while stowing the online promotion idea in the back of my mind, or slipping individual pieces of it into my publication. While laying out my last issue, those elements suddenly gelled. Why not desing a publication dedicated to promoting my work exclusively. From there it was a short step to the Virtual Press Kit.
What goes in your kit? Well, the same elements that go into your printed version: press releases, flyers, a business card, contact information, etc. I will try to take you on a brief tour through the one I created to get you started. From there you can tailor it to your own needs and individual tastes.
I created my Virtual Press Kit for Adobe's PDF, because I had the software for my electronic magazine and because Adobe Acrobat is cross-platformed for Windows and Mac operating systems. However, the Adobe software is a bit pricey so you can do yours in Word if you prefer. I set mine up using Word 97, so I will gear the article towards that program.
First I created my cover using Paint Shop Pro 7. Most authors aren't virtual artists, though, so I would suggest picking your ebook cover as an opening page. Word allows you to insert a jpeg and a great cover grabs a reader's attention immediately. For the next page, I used Word's WordArt feature. There are a number of fancy designs, but I would suggest selecting one of the more subdued, professional looking patterns. I titled this page Howard Hopkins' Virtual Press Kit. Not particularly original but it gets the point across. On the next page I placed my contact information, my email and webpage address. I would suggest not entering your mailing address, unless you have a post office box specifically for that purpose. Anyone in need of your mailing address can contact you through your email.
On the next page I placed my bio.
Beyond that, I set up a section listing all my hardcover and paperback credits, then my ebook credits. I keep a number of pages after that for my print and ebook covers. Next, I inserted press releases for my most recent novels.
Last I offered an information section and samples of my artwork for covers, cards and postcards. I included some of my favorite works and pricing guidelines.
That's all there is to it. If you are skilled with graphics, then pretty it up in whatever way suits your style. If you have Acrobat, print it to PDF then research places that might be interested in seeing your work, perhaps local newspapers--if you can find the local reporter's email listing in the paper, all the better. I got an interview this way.
For those who would like to see a virtual copy of my kit for ideas and set up feel free to request one from me at Yingko2.AOL.com