As an author, you’ll likely be spending an insane amount of time on marketing. Having a robust press kit—specific to the needs of online marketing for authors—done in advance of your marketing push means maximum efficiency!
Sample Press Kit
Think of a press kit as a compilation album of your marketing materials, plus a few more goodies.
A sample press kit would have the following:
- An author photo at 300 dpi (high-resolution)
• Cover art at 300 dpi (high-resolution)
• Your book excerpt
• A sheet providing the various descriptions of the work (the one-line, the synopsis, etc.)
• An author bio (short and/or long, depending on the situation)
• Positive reviews (if you have them yet) and copies of any positive articles about you as an author or about your work
A digital press kit might “zip” all of these files into one folder for easy emailing and download. All of the above items are also things you will find in a typical list for a well-thought out author website, so you’re getting extra value out of assembling these materials and putting a press kit together.
About Those Marketing Descriptions
From the moment you are filling out information during the self-publishing process, through the endless (and I do mean endless) marketing process, you will find yourself being asked to describe your book (and you) in several different ways.
Sometimes the online retailers want a one-line description of the book and sometimes they want a longer plot description. Sometimes you’ll find yourself involved in a marketing promotion that requires an excerpt of the book.
If you start guest-blogging or promoting your author name at workshops and conferences, your bio will become an issue as well. Does the program ask for a short bio or a long bio? Do you have an author photo up on the web? Do you have a larger one that you could send out if someone from the press wants it or your picture is going into a conference brochure?
The most efficient way to handle the need for descriptions of yourself and your work is to do it all at the beginning of the process and put the relevant parts up on the web, while reserving the remainder in a file on your computer. You’ll find yourself referring to it over and over again and, in fact, it’s nice to create a folder where you can place a single document that has all of this material for each book.
Note that for those of you writing series, this becomes even more useful; you will find yourself referring to descriptions of earlier works in the series for things like end matter promotion as well.
Synopsis/Longer Plot Description
The longer plot description is one of the most important marketing tools you will have. It is front-and-center on all online retail sites. A well-chosen long description can make the difference for a reader trying to decide whether or not to buy. It should be around 1,000-4,000 characters, compelling enough to trigger a sale, and clear enough about the story so that that reader gets an accurate sense of the book without spoiling the plot.
One-Line Description (~1 Sentence)
The one-line description is often requested during the self-publishing process and is also useful for promotional materials that feature multiple books along with super-short descriptions all on one page.
e.g. The heir to a crumbling dukedom known for treachery falls in love with a merchant’s daughter whose family business is founded on honesty and loyalty.
e.g. Learn how to organize your day with this revolutionary new time-management theory that doesn’t require seven steps to get you to maximum efficiency.
An excerpt (also called a preview) is a portion of writing extracted from the book and presented to the reader so they can get a sample of what the whole book is going to be like.
Excerpts are used on book detail pages on the website, on guest blogs and other promotional opportunities. You may need to tailor something specific for a particular word count, but it’s nice to already have an excerpt in mind for opportunities that don’t have specific requirements.
Authors often assume that the best excerpt from the book is simply Chapter 1. Certainly, this is sometimes the case. But sometimes your Chapter 1 is more like a prologue. Or your Chapter 1 is too short. (Or too long.) Or your Chapter 1 is more like a summary of what’s to come. Or your Chapter 1 happens to contain racy material that is not appropriate for the venue where it needs to be displayed.
The best advice to give about choosing an excerpt of the work when requirements are not specified is to think about keeping it short enough for a reader with limited time to get through, and to end on a compelling hook that makes them want to read more. So, maybe that’s Chapter 2. Or the second half of Chapter 1. Simply remove the chapter header if necessary and type “Excerpt from Book X” in its stead.
You might think you only need one version of your bio—until you hear yours being read out loud after others at a panel discussion and realize you’ve provided a dissertation where a CliffsNotes summary would have been more appropriate.
A long bio is for things like your website and your press kit. A short bio is useful for things like your byline on a guest blog and social media websites. A third bio in between could be useful for public speaking engagements where you are going to be introduced or for accompanying your excerpt in an online promotion.
What goes in a typical author bio? Well, that depends on many factors. It matters whether you write fiction or non-fiction. It matters whether what you are writing actually has something in common with where you went to school, where you are living, where you’ve worked, what unusual pursuits you’ve undertaken in the past, etc. The more relevant your personal details are to what you’ve written, the more likely those details have a place in your bio.
In general, a good bio lends credibility to your brand as an author.
At its simplest, you’ll build out your bio by mentioning awards or achievements you’ve received that are relevant to your writing, including details of personal experiences that have some connection with the subject matter of your books, giving some sense of your unique personality, and dropping in your website and social media accounts.
This article originally appeared on The Verbs.