Essential Items for the Writer's Toolkit

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Many of us never think about the marketing end of the business of writing until we get a book contract. That’s when it feels like you're thrown head first into a bottomless body of water. The enormity of getting your name in the public sphere begins to weigh on you, especially when you realize the publisher you’ve signed with does not have much of a publicity plan, if any.

When I got to that state of impending panic, I wrote out a marketing plan for my first book, Contraband. I didn’t do everything on my list. I lost energy after a while, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.
Anyway, the point is that every opportunity to market our work is to be seized with both hands.

A former co-worker of mine is now with a local radio station and they’re doing some sort of literary programme this Tuesday. They will be doing author interviews/features. She explained there was a cost attached to being featured. I said thanks for thinking of me, but that it wasn’t gonna happen. 

Okay, so I’m cheap, but practicality and the sludge-like Jamaican economy dictate that I don’t have a whole lot of disposable income.  Buying books?  Yeah! Paying for a feature? Definitely nowhere near the top of my list of priorities.

Anyhow, she then asked me whether I had anybody in mind who’d be willing to fund this venture. So, I said no. Then she came up with the names of a couple of folks we both know. I said fine, go ahead and see, but I ain’t asking. I looked like the bunch of characters below when she came back and said she’d arranged everything and that we were good to go. 


She rang me again on Thursday to remind me to include all the stuff I want people to know about my books, blogs, website and whatnot.

Point? A media kit, or something close to it, is an item all writers need to prepare - sooner, rather than later. 

It needs to have handy bits of information that people can grab on the fly to learn more about you. Good thing I posted one on my site. It’s even better if you update it once in a while. Looking at mine, I realize it needs jazzing up. Stat.

Next on the agenda is to tie my notes together into something informative and orderly.

The point of this ramble is that even if you aren’t yet published, there are some things that are important to know or have in place if you plan to take on writing as a career.   

  • Do you have a complete listing (titles/format) of all your works-in-progress in a file somewhere?  
  • Do you have any idea what you want to achieve as a writer?
  • Do you know why you write what you do? (For interview purposes and such)
  • Do you document your plans with tangible goals, so you know each time you hit a milestone?
  • Most importantly, do you have a place where you showcase what you do?

If you haven’t done much on the PR front yet, have a look at the article here and here. **

**N.B. This is not an endorsement of the site on which the article is listed. 


  1. This is excellent advice! I certainly learned all of that the hard way :o)

  2. Hehehe as it happens, I do all that by nature... Still, it's a good reminder that I need to think about these things.


  3. Wow. Great information here. I took a class last fall that walks you through marketing your (self published) book. I've been scared to death ever since because I hear publishers are doing less to market their books anyway. Every time I walk into a book store and see ALL the books there, I'm intimidated even more. I really think I can complete?


  4. Jessica, yes I learned that way too.
    Misha, good on you.
    Donna, I've had to do a whole lot more that I thought I'd have to and it still isn't enough. A good approach is to do something every day to publicize your writing.

  5. For the most part I feel like I'm prepared publicity-wise, but I admit that I'm not always prepared and I'm still learning.

    Because I follow so many writers online, I've been learning a lot from them, in addition to reading articles and attending conferences.

  6. It's so important to know where you want to go and your list of things to do are so important. Thanks for the post.

  7. Great tips and advice. I'm in the process of expanding my presence right now and focusing on how to proceed.

  8. Medeia, preparation is important, so you're on the right track.

    Yes, Clarissa, focus and direction go a long way towards being able to plan properly.

    Carol, just when you think you're doing okay, there's more work to do.

  9. Happy belated birthday!
    *giggle* on the cartoon. So great that your friends were able to come through for you!
    Hmm, must think about my media kit...

  10. Deniz, thanks, I discovered how important the media kit is today. The interviewer asked me about the awards I'd won. No doubt, they got the information off my website.

  11. Wonderful post. And smart advice. Thanks! I know someday soon, I'll need to do this. Btw, I never wished you a happy birthday. I hope it was beautiful, my friend.

  12. Happy belated birthday. I hope it was a good one.
    This is such a good post. It's kind of overwhelming when you have to do almost all the marketing yourself, with little or no help from the publisher. Until you're doing it, you just can't imagine what all is involved, and you can only spread yourself so thin, Good for you for refusing to pay for that radio interview. I wouldn't have either.

  13. Well said! And sometimes the opportunities come when you least expect it so you've always got to be ready.

  14. Thanks, Robyn. Glad you found something helpful here.

    Lyn, yes, it's easy to feel overwhelmed when you realize just how much ground there is to cover.

    So true, Liz. I was nervous and not inclined to go through with it, but it was a new and useful experience.

  15. Thank you very much for the links, Joy. The second one is particularly informative. Knowing how well-prepared and self-motivated you are, I'm sure it's a case of your thinking that you should be doing more rather than you're not already doing plenty. :)


  16. What great advice! Keeping on top of the marketing stuff really is crucial. You've inspired me to revisit and perhaps buff and polish my publicity information.

  17. First of all, Belated wishes...hope you had a good one.

    Secondly, this is excellent advice! I'm not so great at marketing myself, and this gives me a starting point if/ when I publish a book.

  18. Thanks for this reminder post! I have a list of authors "what goes in the media kit" which I send out to the author I promote!

  19. Great advice. I have compiled a took kit per se. I wrote out my goals, expecations and a business plan. So I hope I'm prepared. I do need to get a media kit together, that's an awesome idea.

  20. These are great questions to ask ourselves. I think it's important to ask them early in our careers too.

  21. Michelle,

    Yes, I'm always thinking I should be doing more. Could be because there's always room for improvement.

    Cynthia, I can't stress the importance of that media ready information. I wondered what questions I would be asked and in the middle of it all, the interviewer asked about the awards I'd won. Luckily, I had copies with me. Stuff I hastily grabbed off the site.

    Nas, you're obviously on the ball. :)

    Lena, the business plan is where I'm falling down. I do need to follow through on more than a few things.

    Lynda, the earlier the better!

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