Something that you might not have thought about putting together in the course of self-publishing a novel is this: a press kit. I know I didn’t until recently, once my YA fantasy novel, “The Charismatics,” was near completion. What is a press kit, anyway? Well, it’s a calling card of sorts—a place where media can go to pull any information they may need about you or your book, without hassle.
As an author, marketing is a huge part of getting your book on the radar and into the hands of new readers. How do you do that? By reaching a wide audience through interviews, guest posts, articles in magazines/local TV, and book signings. For all of these various avenues, you are going to need organized material for media outlets to utilize, and the more easily accessible options you have, the better chance of getting some free marketing! I recommend having a “Press” tab on your website, at which point individuals can click on it and find the various files listed below. The other option is to include it on your website via Dropbox, so that people can download the files in a folder there.
Here are the must-haves for your author press kit:
1. Headshots (2 or 3 at least). These should be professionally taken, and they don’t have to cost a lot. Ask around for referrals of freelance photographers, on go on a website like elance.com. The headshots I had taken a year ago cost me $100, and they were worth it. Make sure that you own the copyright to them, and also that they are not watermarked by the company unless you don’t mind that (which you probably don’t want, because it could confuse your readers). Also make sure they evoke your personality, and that you look as attractive as possible (Photoshopping should be part of the photographer’s package). Beauty sells.
2. High-res JPEGs of your book covers. If you hired a cover designer, ask them for the high-res JPEG image files of your book cover, front and back (if you have a print version). Make sure to also have a 300 dpi image (if they aren’t already) so that if a magazine is using them for a print article, they are clear—you can use Adobe Photoshop for this if you designed a book cover yourself.
3. Resume/CV (non-fiction). This is mostly necessary for non-fiction, especially if you are an “expert” regarding the topic your book is about. If you have won any literary awards however, then a CV for your fiction writing could also be appropriate.
4. Bio: A long version and short version. This can be a difficult thing for many authors to write, but it’s necessary to include. You should have numerous versions, including a “tagline” that might only be a sentence, as well as a short bio that includes your website or where they can find you, and finally a long bio that showcases your personality. For an example of my “long” bio, go to www.ashleyrcarlson.com/about.
5. Book blurbs: short and long version. The same principle here as with a bio—you want to have various lengths for different needs. I would strongly suggest memorizing these as well for a phone/video interview; I’ve had numerous instances lately during video interviews when I was asked to describe my novel and went off on tangents that weren’t crucial or descriptive of the overall book. Be sure to include the stakes, the main characters, and the overall conflict. For an example of my book blurbs, go to www.ashleyrcarlson.com/books.
6. Fun facts list. This would be an extension of your bio, and just some more ways to showcase your personality. Have a favorite food? Place? Hobby? Can you be found binge-watching Netflix with a bag of double-stuffed Oreos? Include that. Whatever is quirky, funny, impressive, or unusual can be included.
7. Answers to interview questions. There are a variety of questions that you can provide the answers to already, usually surrounding your book, your inspiration, how you began writing your book, favorite things about writing, etc. 5-10 should be sufficient.
8. Ways to be contacted via all of your social media. You should have every link to your social media platforms available, including website, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. Don’t forget to include your Goodreads Author Page and your Amazon Author Page. Those are also very important for readers to find out where to purchase your book.
For a fantastic, in-depth article about putting together the perfect press kit, read this guest post by Maria Messini on Molly Greene’s blog.
Until next time, keep writing and keep dreaming!