Coach: The Press Kit
While I have been going on residencies or attending summer workshops since 2003, I didn’t start streamlining my process until 2006. That was the year that I applied to 6 artist residencies and was granted 4. Not bad returns.
What I did in that year was to start what I would later term my press kit in one folder on my computer (with most parts later on my website) and it has the following parts:
- 6 versions of my bio. Most of mine are very academic, but I have one that emphasizes my values and some interesting aspects about me. Bios are 750, 500, 250, 100, 50, and 25 words. I started out with the 50 and 100 word bios. Each of these has a specific purpose in how I use them.
- Bio photos that I update about every 6 months to a year.
- Artist statement. This I update every year. I have a few versions of this that are specifically aligned with projects as well as a more general artist statement.
- Work sample. As a poet primarily, I have a 5-page sample, a 10-page sample, and a 25-page sample. As a prose writer, I keep a 10-page sample and a 25-page sample. I privilege work that has been published previously and I note that publication in the header.
- Curriculum Vita. I have a VERY long CV and a much shorter artist CV that’s 3 pages. My CV is easy to also shorten as needed to focus on work from the last 2 to 3 years.
- An actual press kit (with bios, photos, testimonials, workshops you can give, contact information, website, etc) On Canva, you can do this for free!
- Reading Proposal. I have one that is essentially what I would send to a venue if I was planning a book tour that lists my contact information, bio, blurbs from my books, ISBN and ordering information for my books, and a sample of my work. I generally only reach out to venues if I am planning a book tour and I often will curate the reading with other folks who have projects that are coming out at the same time. If the venue is outside of my geographic region, then I reach out to a writer in the area to include in my proposal. The proposal has all of the same information for those that I am pitching for a reading. I like to curate a reading with 3-4 people, which is more likely to build camaraderie among writers and the community and ensure that there are people in the seats.
- Project Proposal. I have project proposals for things that I am currently doing as well as ones that are dream projects if only I had the time and funds to do it. This is useful when applying for grants, fellowships, or artist residencies. For an artist residency and fellowship arguably, your project can always change, but you should have a firm idea of what you want to do, have the evidence to support that you can actually get it done with the resources that you have requested.
- Book trailer/Poetry Film/Digital Story: I did this for my second book, creating a small poetry film, which was a beautiful exercise and way of experiencing my work. I want to do more with this, particularly with VR, since one of my current projects has a lot to do with immersion.
- Testimonials about your teaching (if you offer workshops) and blurbs that are on your books.
- List of references (for grants, fellowships, residencies). If your references will send you copies of the letters, it’s great, because that way, if you need a letter within a shorter time frame than 2 weeks, you can ask them, sending the letter in your email. Useful if your letter writer is traveling. As someone who travels often (sometimes with only basic technology), having the copy of a letter can be helpful in refining it and submitting it for you.
- List of writers you admire/writers with whom your work is in conversation.
- Completed grant application for a local artists’ grant, because many of the questions are pretty standard and as you apply for more grants, then you can copy, paste, and revise based on what you have done previously. It makes doing an application far more likely when you don’t have to write something from scratch.
Have you assembled a “press kit”? If so, what are the parts that you have? How much time have you taken for each item? How often do you revise them?