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  Title: Designing the Virtual Press Kit

Author: Howard Hopkins

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 download it at:

About the author:
Howard Hopkins is the author of six horror and western ebooks
from Atlantic Bridge Publishing (www.atlanticbridge.net) under
his own name and more than twenty print westerns under the
penname Lance Howard. His novels can be purchased at
bn.com,www.amazon.co.uk and amazon.com and he lives in Maine.



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