Showing posts with label Media Kits. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Media Kits. Show all posts

Getting Rid of Tattletale Words in Your Résumé

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of
The Frugal Editor: Do-it yourself editing secrets for authors:
From your query letter to final manuscript to the marketing of your new bestseller

People in all walks of life work mightily on perfecting their résumés and other career-building documents and then forget one vital step. An editor. Preferably an editor versed in all the elements of writing including grammar, punctuation, storytelling…wait! Storytelling?

Yes. And some other surprises like marketing—and a little knowledge about psychology won’t  hurt either.

The list is long but it can be shortened by thinking “experience.” A broad range of experience. So, no, your high school English teacher may not be your best choice. Nor, your mother who “did really well in English.”

There are a whole lot of tattletale words you shouldn’t use in your résumé or related documents like biographies, proposals, query letters, and media kits. All of these documents are designed to convince the reader of your ability to do the job—your expertise—and to nudge your career (or product) toward success.   

So what are those words? And how do they relate to storytelling?

Ambitious is one of the most frequently used tattletale words. It seems like a wasted word doesn’t it. A couple more that mean little because of overuse or are downright laughable are highly motivated or responsible. That you are writing this document is an indication that you are ambitious.

This is where that storytelling thing comes in. You tell a little story that subtly shows the responsible, ambitious, or highly motivated aspect of your work habits. Using the age-old writers’ motto, “show, don’t tell,”  will keep your reader from asking—often with a touch of irony—what makes you ambitious. King Midas was ambitious. Maybe your reader assumes your father got tired of seeing you playing video games and you got ambitious only when it looked as if the couch would no longer be a good place to park yourself.

So what is your story? Tell about the upward movement in your chosen career or even between careers—how one informs the other and gives you knowledge and a dimension that no other applicant is likely to have.

Hardworker and go-getter seem as useless in a résumé or query letter as ambitious. It’s like tooting your own horn. The person reading it might ask, “Who says?”

Overblown adjectives. Words like exciting and amazing—even when they describe results or projects—are anathema. They have the same problem as hardworking above. I call this the awesome syndrome. They are words that tempt a reader to scoff. Instead tell a story about the extra effort you put into a project and the difference it made. Or quote one of the rave reviews you received from one of your supervisors in a periodic assessment, recommendation, or endorsement.

Team player has been a cliché for decades.. Instead choose a group project you’ve worked on and tell about your contributions. Or just list some of the ways you might have helped another department or division. And, because human brains have been wired for stories since we sat around the fires we made in caves, make it into an anecdote if you can.

Think out-of-the-box is also a cliché-ridden no-no. It’s storytelling time again

Microsoft Word. I’m proud that I can produce an entire book using Word from its Contents to its Index to its Footnotes. I love that I don’t have to spend time learning another program. But there’s no point in telling people that I’m an expert at Word. Everyone is. Of course, I can use it prove another point like how well I have managed to adapt its features to new, advanced project and tell how much time I saved by doing that rather than learning a new program. I might mention how much more professional it looked even as I saved that time. And I might mention that my project got rave reviews.

Some frequently used words like synergy have become a way to insert some humor into a résumé and that has become as much of a cliché as the overuse of the word. Marco Buscaglia picked this word out of the hundred (if not thousands) of popular words I call business-ese. You can avoid them by reviewing your copy and purging anything that sounds officious including most words with more than three syllables.

Think in terms of relationships, colleagues in other departments, associates in competing companies, respected academicians, mentors beyond your teachers. Though a good story can take even that kind of mentorship out of the humdrum and into an Aha! Moment.

Before you send off your paper, go over it. Find all the weak verbs—is, be, do—and use your thesaurus to strengthen them and to make them more accurate.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson was an instructor for UCLA Extension's world-renown Writers' Program for nearly a decade and edits books of fiction and poetry. She  is the author of the HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers including The Frugal Editor  and The Frugal Book Promoter. They are both USA Book News award-winners and both have won several other awards. Her How To Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically: The ins and outs of using free reviews to build and sustain a writing the newest book in her HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. Her The Great First Impression Book Proposal is a booklet that can save anyone writing a proposal time reading tomes because it can be read in 30 minutes flat.

Carolyn is the recipient of the California Legislature's Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award and was honored by Pasadena Weekly for her literary activism. She is also is a popular speaker and actor. Her website is


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On Book Marketing, Media Kits and Homecoming Queens

I'm including this first person essay in this WritersOnTheMove blog because when I teach marketing classes to authors at UCLA, my students often have trouble wrapping their minds around exactly what the first-person essay that should be included in their media kits is. And that difficulty is exacerbated when I tell them that it helps if the essay is associated with issues that are currently in the news. This one is related to current events at the most basic level--that is, it is a commentary on a news/feature story in a respected newspaper. But the issues are current, too. I hope it helps WritersOntheMove. I've also included the author credit, because that is a vital part of marketing media
Marketing, Continuing Education, and Homecoming Queens

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

I admit it. A feature story in the New York Times Digest queens struck a chord. On several levels.

The article by Tara Parker-Pope told the story of Heidi Hansen, a forty-two year old mother of teens who has gone back to school to study nursing. And if that weren’t nontraditional enough, she’s running for homecoming queen. Gasp!

Even more amazing she’s marketing her candidacy with the same vigor of her young competitors and she’s doing it without a shred of apology for her untraditional paths or (apparently) without an utterance of the word “shameless” connected with her marketing campaign (which I’ve always contended has a subtext that there is something to be ashamed of).

So, I should back up and tell you I have an agenda. I like to defend my own circuitous path to a degree from the University of Southern California (USC). I was graduated at the ripe old age of thirty-three with two young children, one of whom I once hauled to class with me and let him pretend to catch fish in the fountain outside my class window where I could keep an eye on him. By the time I received that degree on heavy, lineny paper, I had taken at least one class every semester (including summers) since I started seventeen years before. I always considered this approach to education a gigantic plus. One class at a time with plenty of time to focus on required (and optional!) study and research. I figured I was getting more from my education and would retain it longer.

That explains my personal interest in the late-bloomer aspect of this NY Times story. But I find Hansen’s proclivity for marketing just as satisfying. Not only did she decide to run for homecoming queen because“…it’s a continuing process of being engaged in the world around me, and right now a big part of my world is my life on campus,” but she isn’t dodging the issue of being, shall we say, a bit older than the other candidates even though the photograph in the Times looks to me as if she could easily pass. No. Her campaign slogan to attract votes is,“I’m not your mother, but I could be.”

Now, you should know that I began a lifelong interest in public relations very early when I worked in New York as a publicist and when I worked in several jobs as a journalist and writer. But it didn’t really congeal until my last semester at USC when I studied public relations under the head of the PR department, a former President of Western Airlines who believed that the way to find the best and brightest students for his department was to teach entry level classes and teach them as if he were teaching seasoned pros. And my awareness of the importance of marketing in all our lives only became more intense when I became a published novelist, poet, and author of how-to books on—you guessed it—marketing!

So you can imagine how I rooted for Ms. Hansen when I read that she enlisted the help of every demographic she had access to (other than her children who seem to be. . . well, oblivious to their mother’s schmaltziness). She found fellow students (not necessarily students in her age range) to contribute their skills—one writing a musical campaign ditty, another for producing a video. I call this cross-promotionin my Frugal Book Promoter, a how-to book on marketing for writers. Mr. Hansen's videographer and musician friends are both getting their share of marketing exposure by being part of her campaign. I mean, a mention in the New York Times? I sure hope these students use that information (and the example set by Ms. Hansen) in their resumes as they learn more and more that nontraditional paths and tried-and-true marketing work for everyone.

Regardless of their age.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson is a senior (not in the collegiate sense) who has always used her marketing skills in her professional life and found they gave her a special boost when she took on a new award-winning career in publishing at the age most are considering retirement. Learn more about her at  Find her how-to book on marketing at

Where Does One Begin in Creating a Media Kit?

Where Does One Begin in Creating a Media Kit?

By Donna McDine

Media Kit? Why would I need a media kit, I’m not even published yet? To be quite honest with you it’s never too soon to start. To begin now will make it much simpler to add to as you move forward in your writing career. The essential components in creating your media kit are:
About the Author or Writer (Bio): This one pager consists of your current bio, education, current work-in-progress, and contact information (email, blog and website addresses). After you become published update your bio to reflect each success.
Appearances: Appearances may include volunteer reader at your local library and/or school visits and later on as you become published you will be known as the local children’s author which then will open up doors to school visits.
Interviews (online and in-person): Before I became published - myself and fellow aspiring writers interviewed each other for our blogs to get our names out there. It’s fun and simple. Contact a fellow writer and exchange questions and there you have your first finished interview.
Awards and Publishing Credits: This may be blank for now, but create the page with this heading and you can fill in your information as you go along. Your publishing credits include no-pay, low-pay, and paying markets both online and print.

Media Releases: Even without publishing credits you can create a media release about upcoming interviews and book reviews on your blog and of course tying in with interviews make sure you write up a media release about your personal interviews. It’s important you send out your media release to your network and post on free media release sites such as For a more detailed list of the services I utilize visit:

Book Reviews: Yes, even if you don’t have a book published yet do not forget this important part for when you do so you can place excerpts of book reviews for easy reference.
Some of your pages will be blank for now, but you will be surprised how quickly they will fill up. All of my pages started out blank and are now filling up. My book review page is still blank and I’m eagerly awaiting reviews to fill in below the title. The saying from the movie The Field of Dreams… “Build it and they will come” is true for your media kit too. The intention and creation of blank titled pages will bring it to fruition. Oh and yes, working at your writing craft is essential too.

If you have any questions I’d be happy to help. Feel free to email me privately at You may also view my media kit at

Donna McDine is an award-winning children's author, Honorable Mention in the 77th and two Honorable Mentions in the 78th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competitions and Preditors & Editors Readers Poll 2010 – Top Ten - Children’s Books category – The Golden Pathway.

Her stories, articles, and book reviews have been published in over 100 print and online publications. Her interest in American History resulted in writing and publishing The Golden Pathway. Donna has two more books under contract with Guardian Angel Publishing, The Hockey Agony and Powder Monkey. She writes, moms and is the Editor-in-Chief for Guardian Angel Kids, Publicist for the Children’s Writers’ Coaching Club and owner of Dynamic Media Release Services from her home in the historical hamlet Tappan, NY. McDine is a member of the SCBWI and Musing Our Children.
The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Global e-Book Awards Nominee
Donna’s Website:

Write What Inspires You Blog:

The Golden Pathway Blog:

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Don't have time to write and post your media releases? Contact: Dynamic Media Release Services:

What Authors Need to Know to Avoid Vital Front Matter Booboos

  To WritersontheMove Blog Subscribers and Visitors: 2023 has been a celebratory year for the release of the third edition of  The Frugal Ed...