Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Media Kits, Part Two

So what is a Media Kit and why is it important?

Go to any of the web pages I’m linking to down below and they will go over how important a Media Kit is. It is a major marketing package. It helps people promote your book without you having to do anything. Journalists expect to see one if they visit your website or blog. Most importantly it puts out the information, correctly, that you want people to have.

Why is that important?

Here’s a scenario: Let’s say a blogger is doing a review, it’s 2 am and guess what, they forgot to ask and you forgot to send your bio to them, it’s too late for them to contact you now about it so they go to your website and look for a media kit (now, if you have one, you probably should have sent it but you know, mistakes happen) so they go to your site and you don’t have a MK available. So that blogger now has three choices: scrap the whole review, scrap any sort of bio which helps promote not just your book but your brand as well, or they decided to just make a quick bio for you. At best the bio will be bland and uninteresting and at worst they could get some information horribly wrong. If you had a Media Kit there they could have downloaded it, copy and pasted what they needed, and the whole thing would have went off without a hitch.

Now as a Hybrid Author with only two books and one short story anthology out I don’t have journalists or bloggers banging on my door night and day looking for easy access to my info, but if any of them do happen to swing by my blog I want to make sure any info I can provide them is readily available.

By and large a Media Kit is a helpful tool for branding and marketing, but it is always offered first, never sent unsolicited. That’s not to say if someone is doing a review for you that you shouldn’t include your Media Kit, you totally should. But don’t just start sending out your Media Kit willy-nilly to every blogger you find without them even showing an ounce of interest in you first.

Now, I’ve combed over sites explaining how to make a media kit, I’ve attended a webinar on the subject, I’ve highly considered shelling out money for some Media Kit Templates (but in the end I didn’t have it in the budget), and I’ve poured over other author’s Media Kits to see what I liked and what I didn’t like.

Some people tell you that you only need a book synopsis and an author bio. Other people say you need a separate .doc for every thing in the kit: Bios (tiny, small, medium, large), a Press Release, Sample Interview Questions, Sample Chapter, Contact Information. Others go even further by saying you need to have an introduction for when you are speaking at an event, Book Review Excerpts, And a .doc specifically for photos of you (color and black and white head shots, plus color and black and white candid’s. Maybe something with your dog? You out fishing?) You can even find a PicMonkey tutorial on making a Media Kit on the photo editing site. Possibilities are endless and overwhelming.

For my approach I took what was relevant to me. I don’t have hundreds of book reviews to warrant having a page of book reviews excerpts in my Media Kit. Nor do I have professional head shots to fill up a photo .doc in my Media Kit. I have yet to master how to write up a decent Press Release so rather than embarrass myself, I figured I’d leave that out as well. Public speaking isn’t in my near future (maybe one day) so that could be cut as well.

What I do have is a synopsis, bios (a twitter bio, a small, and a large), a sample chapter (obviously), my contact information, and I even sat around and thought up some sample interview questions and answers.

I guess we better address that one real quick.

Why sample interview questions? Because sometimes you might get asked to appear on a podcast, radio interview, or get asked to do an online interview, but the person interviewing you might not have the time to actually sit down and read your book (shocking, I know) so this helps them. It says “hey, you might not have read my book but here are some questions you can ask to make you look good and I’ve already answered them so you know what I’m going to say ahead of time.” Easy-peasey. A Media Kit is all about making the blogger/journalist/interested party’s life easier. The easier you make their life, the more chances they might give you in the future to help expand your brand and marketing.

Now that we’ve got that covered, let’s get back on track. Should it look all prettied up? Well it certainly shouldn’t look boring, but not too much because you don’t want it to look gaudy. That is strictly from a graphic design stand point. A simple boarder, maybe a drop shadow to help it stand out, place in a logo if you’ve got one, maybe some badges if you got those too. Now, if you are doing them all individually then by all means put these on every page, but if you are compiling them and you are using graphics that take up a lot of space you might consider using your images on the first page and then possibly the last. You don’t want to distract on every single page of your sample chapter with your logos and what not.

So how do mine look? Here’s some screen shots of each of my files separately:

Synopsis (note I put hyperlinks in my files which include the buy links):

Sample Chapter:


Contact Information:

Sample Interview Q&A:

Here’s a look at my completely assembled Media Kit for Waking Up In Bedlam (which includes Synopsis w/buy links, Bio, Contact Information, and Sample Chapters of WUIB with the buy links again at the bottom:

 (notice my award nomination badges and my logo are only on the first and last page when it's all put together, because having them on every page would be distracting)

-Here’s a little note I wanted to add about my author picture. Everyone will tell you to use a professional picture (also called a head shot). I don’t have a head shot, and I am a very camera shy person. So I choose to put in a picture of me looking like I normally do. If you saw a head shot of me you wouldn’t recognize me. I don’t generally dress up, I can’t put on a forced-smile to save my soul, and honestly if you saw me at a convention I would want you to recognize me. This is me, it is who I am, I’m not a doll, I don’t play dress up. A little bit of lip gloss is pretty much the only makeup you’ll see me in, and usually I’ll be a t-shirt that shows one of my many fandom obsessions and my rather oversized sunglasses. Add in my headphones and a beanie, and that is me. So it was my choice, to include a picture that shows me as me, not me as something I’m not. One of these days I’ll get head shots done, I’ll find a photographer who understands I can not smile on cue and will be able to find a way to get a genuine smile by catching me off guard. Until then, I’d rather just be me and honestly I am tired of hiding that. <3

Now if you’d like to use my Media Kit as a template for your own feel free to click here and download them from my blog and enjoy.

Web pages to help you construct a Media Kit of your own:
(Just do a google search for “how to make an author media kit' and you will have information for days and days)

Do you use a Media Kit? If so, have you found it has helped you in your marketing? If you are a review blogger do you like having a Media Kit included with the book you are reviewing? Let us know in the comments.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Time Management

Okay so this was actually my husband's suggestion for this post. At first I rolled my eyes at him and then I took a hard look at my life and realized that everything I accomplished does come down to time management. I know I gave you a low down once on how my schedule works and that pretty much remains the same. Except here's some things that have changed: My daughter is a heck of a whole lot more active, I do formatting on the side, I've just gone back to school, and my other pen is quite busy. So what do I do to manage time? A few things. I use a combination of things that keep me on track. Maybe you will find something that works for you.

The first thing I do is the Bullet Journal. Now I've taken this technique and tweaked it so it works for me, my notebook is a combination of the Bullet style and my random notes. Every day in the morning or the night before I write down what MUST be done (top of the list) and what should be done if I have time (bottom of the list) This normally looks like this (with the bullets being check boxes):

  • Dishes
  • Laundry
  • Dust
  • Sweep
  • 1 hour on school work
  • workout 
  • 1 hour one editing Twisted Redemption
  • 1 hour on InDesign
  • 1 hour writing
That's a mild day and some days I get everything done, other days I get through chores and editing. As projects come and go the list changes, but the idea stays the same. So what an hour of work? Really? Does that include the time that I play on fb? Check sales? Check blog posts? No, no it doesn't. You see that's another thing I use. The Pomodoro Technique: 25 minutes of solid work 5 minute breaks. This works great during nap time for me. I close down every browser except for my Kanbanflow board. 

This board comes with a timer and allows me to assign tasks to put that time towards. I love this because it means I can see how long it takes for a project. Example? The first round of edits I did on Twisted Redemption (addressing all comments and fixing a lot of smaller things) Took me about 15 hours of work. To read through and get Druid Blood ready for Betas took me about 10 hours worth of time. Now I have an idea of how much time to allot towards Black and White Desires when it comes in and other projects that are similar. 

Like all people some times I take on too much, keeping with these let's me see when I have taken on too much and how to avoid it next time. When someone comes to me and says "I have this huge editing job, can you fit it in?" I look back at the last similar job and see how long it's taken me and say yes or no. It's great, if you're struggling I suggest you try some time of the techniques above. Even if you alter them to work for you. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


I'm here for the day because Mia is down with a migraine that's refusing to leave. So...let's talk networking, shall we? Yep, I just heard a collective groan across the internet of authors. My hubby and I call networking 'playing nicey nice' because occasionally I run across people that I don't like, they rub the wrong way, but networking is important in this business. Now do not be mistaken, networking is not kissing ass of people who are higher on the author food chain than you and it's not riding on coat tails. As an author you have to network with a lot of different people and you help each other out. Examples?

Editors: I meet editors at convention, always take cards, always talk about their process. Why? Ms. J takes such wonderful care of me, but I also know (from conversation) that she can get pretty busy with school and family. Something might happen and I don't want to be out an editor. As an Indie author you don't want to be caught without an editor during crunch time.

I keep a file on different cover artists, why do such when I have one that I'm so happy with and has amazing prices? Because it might not always be that way. She might get way too busy to do my cover, something personal might happen where she has to close her business for a bit, or heaven forbid we have a falling out—cause trust me, that happens a lot in the indie world. I don't want to be stranded. I meet cover artists at conventions, pick up their cards, talk prices and in general just talk. I get to know them, they get to know me. Just recently I'm in a huge author event that has a graphic artist doing banners, they gave us a list of prices for her for future use. I messaged her and talked to her a bit. I do research on this. I will not be high and dry if something happens to my cover artist.

Okay so what about the people who don't offer a service? Other authors? Bloggers (though they do offer us a service)? Podcasters? People, this is where connections and cross promotions come into play. I did a podcast interview with someone I met from AnomalyCon, I was asked back to do a Co-host for two other shows for them. I really enjoyed the first interview and my first experience on a podcast. They get 100 listens per a cast...that's 100  more people who get to now my name. Exposure. Other authors? Some times they have advice for you, they know other events, and sometimes they are nice enough to tell you about the mistakes they made, so you won't make them. It's all about connections. Bloggers are the say, if a blogger likes your book, they spread the word, especially if you are not a stuck up egotistical sack of author (and yes, they spread that around too)

What I'm not saying: You don't have to kiss ass (yes, this needs to be said again), you don't have to be everyone's best friend, but you will make friends in the process. (I certainly have). Do not pester your contacts, always be grateful. If you are someone's networking contact, be nice, be professional, and be willing to help. Indie is a miss leading name...we don't do it alone, we do it together with support.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Review: What The Body Needs, Laura Oliva

What The Body Needs by Laura Oliva


Jak O'Mara is a survivor.

She's survived in her father's construction company. She's survived in the boxing ring. And she survived the brutal attack that left her permanently scarred.

For the last five years, she's tried to convince everyone -including herself- she's no victim. But with the apparent return of her unknown assailant, the life she's rebuilt crumbles overnight.

Ex-cop Marcus Cutter has his own scars, they just don't show. Following the violent death of his younger sister, he fled his old life in disgrace. After almost six years, "rock-bottom" feels a lot like home.

As Jak's new bodyguard, Marcus is forced to return to the city -and the memories- he's tried to forget. All he wants is to do his job, but Jak isn't what he expects. When he's with her, he finally feels something besides pain.

When the danger escalates, Jak decides it's time to take matters into her own hands. She's determined to find who's after her, no matter the cost. Marcus knows he has to protect the woman who's made his life mean something again. But how do you protect someone who's convinced they have nothing left to lose?


Admittedly this isn’t a genre that I normally read, but it was enjoyable nonetheless. I did have my issues with the main character, Jak, mostly I wanted to slap her, shake her, and ask her what the hell she was thinking, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It takes a lot for me to want to engage with a character when I don’t agree with their choices and in this book I seriously wanted to engage with her. I did however love Marcus, he is a great leading man.

The setting is crystal clear, you get a sense you are standing on these streets, in these neighborhoods. It is a tactile experience, I could almost touch and smell the city around me as I was reading. Ms. Oliva has crafted the location with complete authenticity and as a reader that level of detail is appreciated.

The characters all strike me as attempts at throwbacks to the old noir detective/private investigator films of the 1940’s. Where bad guys had street names, like Five Finger Freddy, that boarder on almost comical, men smoked cigarettes without care, and women could down a glass of whiskey just as quickly as their male counterparts and spoke in husky-seductive tones. Speaking of the street names, I did find myself thinking that a lot of people’s names reminded me of the Dick Tracy comic books and it did give me a little giggle or two. Given the tone of the story though, the names of certain characters didn’t pull me out of the tale too much to where I couldn’t enjoy it. It is that throwback feel and characters that build this story.

The genre is Noir Romance. Go into it with this in mind. Just because it has that throwback feel, don’t expect to find any character in a long trench coat and a wide brimmed hat. This isn’t like film-noir of the golden age like High Sierra or The Maltese Falcon or the Frank Miller noir of today’s cinema like Sin City. This is set in the modern age with realistic characters. Think more like the noir genre of the 1980-90’s films. Things like Basic Instinct, neo-noir like Heat, and L.A. Confidential (comparing books to film isn’t fair, I know, but it’s the best way to explain it). The setting is vivid, the scenery is realistic, it's the characters that are dark in this story. They all have issues that they wear like tattered badges of courage. Never wanting anyone to dig too deep and expose their vulnerability, but in the end, it is exposed and gives you a great insight into why these flawed characters act the way they do.

Of course I have to end this on the steamy parts… They are steamy, well written and when it happens they are executed brilliantly. Have I mentioned they are steamy? The language isn’t too graphic for those of you who don’t like the use of explicit language in sex scenes, but it is definitely enough to fog up your glasses as you read.

4 out of 5 Stars
Heat Rating: HOT
 (mild, medium, hot, spicy, scorching)

Links for What The Body Needs: Amazon, Smashwords, Goodreads

About The Author: Laura's Bio

When not sweating blood over the keyboard, Laura Oliva is a full-time mom, wife, amateur chef, gardener, and (non)recovering clotheshorse. Laura lives in Northern California with her young son and her remarkably patient husband.

SPE was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A note on review bloggers

So being a review blogger and an author gives me a chance to see things from both sides of the equations. We’ve all seen it, authors moaning and groaning about bad reviews from bloggers or readers. We all know my stance on that. (If not it boils down to this: put your big person panties on and get over it. You’re a professional) I may be beating a dead horse here, but I keep in contact with other review bloggers and I’ve seen and heard some interesting stories about authors. Okay, so authors here’s the deal…Review bloggers are not your friends. Got it? You can’t hand them a book an expect them to lie to you, even if you’ve built a good relationship with them.

I just heard you gasp. If they aren’t our friends, what are they? Think of them almost as a boss. No they don’t get to tell you what to do, but let’s face it, they get to judge the work you do. You go and you write a nice letter asking them to read this book, you make it appeal to them, you want them to review it. Some blogs have a policy that if they rate it under a particular amount of stars, they will let you know first and you can say if they can post it or not. (You will find no such policy here at SPE) As an author I think that defeats the purpose of sending it to a review blog.

I am sending my book to a stranger (if it’s the first time that blog has read one of my books) I may be sending it to someone I consider a friend. But they are a review blog first, I expect that they tell me the truth about the book. If I want an ego stroke, I’d got to someone who feels obligated to lie to me. (We all have those friends.) Giving me a chance to say no or yes to posting a review tricks the readers into thinking that all blogs will only give me a certain rating or higher. As a reader, that pisses me off. I’m the person who reads the bad reviews to see what I’m getting into.

As a blogger I don’t think it’s a good policy, which is why you won’t find it here at SPE. Authors say they want honest reviews, that is what they are going to get. Readers deserve to see those 1 or 2 star ratings. The problem is that there are mobs out there so quick and ready to label reviewers as bullies because of low ratings. That is not right and is a whole other blog on it’s own. That being said, author’s if bloggers give you a choice and a low ratings, suck it up. Do not be rude back to them. They have spent their time reading your book. Just because they didn’t like that one doesn’t meant they won’t like the next. Being a pompous twat isn’t going to help your relationship with them. And by the way, just like authors talk so do bloggers.

My point is. You are an author, learn to take feed back and deal with it. You don’t get to screen your readers’ reviews, why should you get to screen your review blog reviews? Honest feed back, it’s what we need. Remember, especially as an indie author, you’d be no where without your readers. Your readers turn to those bloggers, if they shut down because of rude authors, you’re only hurting yourself.