As you hit the last key of the last word, you feel the weight lift from your chest. Nothing in the world can tarnish your smile. You did it! You have just finished the first draft of your business book, the one you have been working on for the past two years. You have never been prouder.
Fast-forward a few months, when your self-published masterpiece is about to hit the stands. You begin to ask book bloggers, local TV stations, podcast hosts and newspapers if they will review the book. You ask libraries and bookstores to carry the book. When you make these inquiries, you consistently get the same response: “Could you please send us your author media kit?” (or perhaps author press kit or book press kit—the terms are used pretty interchangeably.) There is only one problem: you have never heard of an author media kit. That weight begins to creep into your chest again, and the invincible smile fades.
Luckily, putting together an author media kit is not nearly as strenuous as writing your book. This post will show you all the components you need to add to your book press kit. We will even show you some quality author press kit examples. You can use these examples as a media kit template; just change the information to yours, and you’re done!
What is an Author Media Kit and Why Do I Need One?
Before delving into the specifics of what a book press kit contains, it is important to understand what function it even serves.
Basically, when you have a book, you are hoping that it sells as many copies as possible. One way to increase sales is to have increased coverage in media, blogs, websites, etc. However, it is important to remember two key facts about journalists, bloggers, and influencers:
- They have many potential topics to discuss and are trying to determine which will be the most interesting to the reader/viewer.
- They are busy.
The point of an author press kit, then, is to accomplish two goals:
- Show why you and your book are interesting and would be something that readers/viewers want to know about
- Make the process of discussing your book one that requires less time and effort for the journalist/writer
In the case of librarians and booksellers, these same goals apply. They are also busy, and they are trying to determine which books will be the most interesting to their patrons.
What kind of information would help accomplish these goals?
1. Your Bio
One critical piece of information a writer or journalist wants to know about you is a little bit about who you are. However, remember our main goals above. So you want to add a little pizzazz to your bio, letting the journalist or writer know a little bit about why you and your book are worthy of space in their medium. If possible, you want these interesting tidbits you add to your bio to bear relevance to your book. Finally, you want to keep the bio relatively short (generally speaking, around 100-200 words).
Here is an example of a successful short bio:
Jane Doe credits her background as a Corporal in the U.S. Army with giving her discipline and fortitude. She uses the same “tough love” approach as an advisor to struggling small businesses as her drill sergeants used with her. The results speak for themselves: when she gets involved, businesses see an average revenue growth of 235% in the next fiscal year. She wants to share the secrets of her success with all small business owners, which is what inspires her to write books.
Jane has an MBA from the University of Chicago. She currently lives on a working farm in Ohio with her husband, two sons, dog, cat, ten horses, and too many chickens to count.
2. Your Contact Information
This section is pretty straightforward. If the journalist/writer wants to reach out to you based on your amazing author media kit (which is what you want!), how do they do so? In this section, authors generally include:
- Full name
- High-resolution, professional headshot (preferably with a downloadable version)
- Professional email address (not your personal one!)
- Phone number
- Social media accounts/handles (again, professional ones, not personal ones, if you keep them separated—a blogger doesn’t want to see the picture of your birthday party from Facebook)
- Name of and information about your agent, manager, or publicist (if you have one)
3. Your Book’s Publication Information
Of course, you want those promoting your book to have easy access to all the publication details, and your book press kit is an easy way to give all that information to them in one easy spot.
The first item that this section contains is a picture of the book cover. You want to be sure you have an appealing and professional-looking cover, then, before you compose your media kit. Make sure that the picture you send is a clear, high-resolution shot that is big enough so the viewer will be able to read the words and see the cover design. As with your professional headshot, a downloadable version of the original is very helpful to these writers, so it is highly recommended.
Besides the picture of the cover, this section also includes a list of standard information:
- Title of your book
- Publication date
- Where the book is being or will be sold
- Available formats (e.g. hardcover, paperback, e-book, etc.)
- ISBN (remember that this could be different for different editions, so include them all)
- Retail price
- Page count
- A list of similar titles, preferably well-known bestsellers (in other words, this is the “If you liked _________, you will love my book!” part)
4. Synopsis of Book
Once you have given the basic information about you and your book, it is time to really begin enticing your audience that your book is interesting and worth promoting. The synopsis begins this process. It also serves the purpose of giving a thorough summation of the book. Remember, those who read your book press kit are busy, and they are often asked to read several books a week. They may not have time to read every word of your book, and if they do, they might not remember every part. Giving them a synopsis helps them fill in any gaps.
However, it also gives them enough information to even decide if your book is worth space on their blog or in their news medium.
If you are not sure how to write a synopsis for a non-fiction book, author Jerry Jenkins has a great post about it. His post contains a terrific example that you can use as a template for your own author media kit.
In some ways, this part of the author press kit is easy, since you are just copying and pasting a chunk of your book. However, choosing which piece you want to include can be challenging. Most authors use the introduction or the first chapter here. If you choose to use a different portion of your book for the excerpt, make sure it can stand alone. Also, make sure it is enticing for a reader and representative of the style of the rest of your book. One great way to ensure that your excerpt works is to show it to someone who has not read your book and see what they think.
6. Media Release
Not everyone feels that this is an essential part of an author media kit, but most experts would agree that it is a nice touch. In essence, a media release (also sometimes referred to as a press release) is a one-page document that contains your best interest-generating material. The goal, then, is that a blogger or media outlet could just cut and paste a lot of this information for an easy post or story.
A press release contains the following items:
- Catchy Headline: Think about this like a newspaper or a blog post title. You don’t want it to be too long (generally, less than 20 words), but you do want it to capture a reader’s attention so they will read the actual article. An example would be, “New Book Argues that Aspiring Sales Professionals Should Skip College.”
- Short Synopsis: As the word “short” would suggest, this is not the extremely detailed synopsis referenced above. This would be the type of synopsis you would see on a book jacket, one that will entice a reader to buy or rent your book.
- Angle: The fact that you are publishing a book is certainly a big deal to you. However, unfortunately, it is not automatically a big deal to others since there are many books published every day. The angle is a chance for you to say what makes your book unique. For example, you can point out that the book is based on a real-life experience or that it comes from an expert in a certain field. You could describe how it goes against conventional wisdom or how it features trailblazing research. Also, you might link your book to a popular trending item, such as remote work, mental health/well-being, etc.
- Interesting Information about the Author: Some authors include their bio in this section, or at least a condensed version. Some also include (or instead include) a few quotations from the author.
- Additional Details: Include your contact information and a few details about the book’s release.
7. Interview Resources
Remember that journalists and bloggers are busy. As much as they want to have read and retained every word of your book and to have researched your life, they do not have time to do so with every author and every book. That’s why in this section, you provide them with potential questions they could ask you if they were to invite you for an interview. These questions can be about you, your writing process, or your book. Indeed, most interviews will consist of a combination of all these elements. You also provide sample answers you might give to those questions.
If you have done interviews before, you can put some of your most interesting Q&As in this section instead. Another alternative is to put general topics about you and about your book without writing out actual questions. This method allows the interviewer to formulate the exact questions, but it gives them a great starting point.
This part may seem odd, especially to first-time authors, but remember that your goal is to make it as easy as possible for others to promote your book despite their busy schedules. This is also a chance to prove to them how you and your book should be promoted over others. So, it really is an essential section to have.
8. Reactions (if applicable)
When you first put together a press kit for your book, you will not have this section. However, when your book has been previewed and given positive press, this is a place to put powerful one-to-two sentence snippets from those reviews. This can also be a space where you feature a popular social media campaign in support of your book. However, the operative word is popular; if you are going to tell these writers to search #noMBAneeded, and no one is posting about it, that absolutely sends the wrong message about your book.
9. Also by This Author (if applicable)
This section of your book press kit is pretty self-explanatory. If this book is not your first one, the “Also by…” section to give a very brief description of your other book(s) and any awards/accolades they received.
A Few General Tips
Above are the sections that are included in a typical book press kit. However, there are a few other guidelines to keep in mind.
- Your author media kit should be used to promote your current book. So, if you are writing a second book, you want to update your book kit.
- You should put your press kit into PDF format so everyone can open it. After you do so, make sure that your links are clickable.
- Link your author media kit on your website. Sometimes people look there rather than contact you.
- Including a title page with a table of contents for your press kit is a nice touch.
Obviously, the situation laid out at the beginning of this post is not ideal. You generally want to try to have your author press kit ready to go about six months before your book’s publication because you want to start contacting journalists and bloggers about three months in advance. However, hopefully now that you have seen an author media kit template, you could make one relatively quickly. If you don’t feel you have enough time to do so yourself, or if you just would prefer help with your personal branding, consider professional assistance. After all, you need to focus on what you do best: writing professional books, of course!