Even if you do not plan to pitch your book to traditional media, a press or media kit is both a useful addition to your website and a valuable exercise. As David Meerman Scott asks in his classic bestseller The New Rules of Marketing and PR:
Reporters and editors use the Web to seek out interesting stories, people, and companies. Will they find you?
You may have no plans—yet—to hire a publicist but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare a collection of information about you and your book. My question to you, and the point of this post is: when they do find you, what will you give them? Be Prepared, as the motto says.
What stage are you in?
Begin by considering your status as an author and the stage of your book. A new book author with no awards or reviews would have a different collection of information than the award-winning, well-reviewed author of a dozen books. The key is assembling the basics and keep them up-to-date.
With the possible exception of number six, here is a list of the essential basics. There is no reason why these can’t be available at book launch, or very soon after.
- Press release
- Author bio and photo
- Author Q&A
- Book sample
- Book cover (high and low resolution)
- Contact information
I recommend keeping this to a single page with the following elements:
- Contact information. Who do you want someone to call? You, your publicist? Add this to the header or footer where it can be easily found.
- Brief blurbs about the book, if you have them.
- A compelling headline; the more news-like, the better. (An acknowledged resource on drafting compelling copywriting is Copyblogger.)
- Three or more paragraphs describing your book. Depending on space, you might also use bullets or a numbered list. What will the reader learn? What does the book contain? Who is the likely audience?
- A small image of your book.
- Brief author bio. You’ll probably not have room for more than a few sentences so the more relevant this is to the writing background and qualifications of the author, the better.
- Author image, if room.
- Book vitals. Where to buy it, ISBN, author website link, available formats and number of pages, publishing date, name of publisher.
You can find more information in our post about writing and distributing a release.
Author Bio and Photo
This is a longer bio on the author. The length should be appropriate to the qualifications of the author. Make sure it is professionally edited!
You could embed a photo into the document but regardless, make a JPEG file of the photo available for download. A high resolution version (300dpi) is best because it can be down sampled for use on the web or used for print publications.
If you were interviewing yourself (the author) about your book, what questions would you like to be asked? For example:
- Why did you write the book?
- Where did you get the inspiration?
- Who are the main characters and were they inspired by someone? (fiction)
- Why should someone buy your book? (more for non-fiction)
This is an opportunity for you to “lead the witness” as it were. Reporters (and book bloggers are in this category) consider scores of books and don’t have time to read each one to come up with the key questions. Help them by preparing 5-7 questions that make your book—and you—sound compelling.
A book sample is a PDF of key pages from your book and something easily created for you by your book designer. Consider that an eBook sample contains about 10% of your book and use that for a guideline.
For fiction you want to share enough of the book to give the reader a good idea of the story. For non-fiction you want to include the table of contents and you might cherry-pick key chapters or pages from the book. Include the cover and any other pages that you are willing to freely share. Be generous!
Like the professional author photo this should be a high resolution JPEG file. You might also include a few sizes.
As I said this might be nothing to start with but over time it should come together for you. Select the quotes from the most newsworthy or best known sources that best compliment your book.
Files, Assembly and Sharing
I like to create each of these as individual PDF and JPEG files and then assemble and name them for specific uses. I also take the entire collection and create a zip file that can be downloaded from a website, or copied to a DVD, CD or thumb drive for mailing. Place a link to the file in your “media room” or the “about” page.
Another approach that works well for authors, especially those that are popular, is to create a web page with most or all of this information. It's also easier to maintain. Check out these two examples for inspiration:
Fiction: Michael Sullivan
Non-Fiction: Michael Hyatt
One last thing
Again, the key is investing the time up front to write all this information but it can grow stale if you don’t keep it up-to-date. As I said at the outset, you never know when an editor, blogger or radio/TV producer will visit your website looking for an expert like you. Be Prepared by having your book’s media/press kit ready for them to download.
By the way, the one way you can keep tabs on what the media (and people) are saying about you is to setup Google Alerts. You can read my post on that topic here.