Today, in a rare moment of thievery, I am going to steal an entire column from The Writers Digest. Before I do so I should note that, if you’re a writer, they are one of the best resources out there. Chock full of practical, easy to follow, advice that benefits writers at all levels. Whether you’re uploading your first book to KDP or releasing the fifth book in your trilogy, as I’m about to do, it never hurts to have a resource available to make sure you haven’t missed a step or three. Now, for today’s article, I need to note I’m the assistant editor for ICC Magazine. As such, it’s my responsibility to clear creators for inclusion in the magazine. In many cases I’m also the final author. I mix articles up between interviews and flat out dissertations on the creator. No matter what I decide, I need a press kit to work from. Before you ask what that entails, this is literally what this whole post is about. Way back in 2016 award winning author, Jamie Jo Hoang, took some time out of her busy, busy, life to detail EXACTLY what you need to include in an electronic press kit (EPK). Why an EPK and not a traditional one sent via the post office? Because it’s the 21st century. An EPK can contain a lot more useful, and interactive, content than anything you print out. This way, when someone asks for a press kit, you email it to them. Or, if you get a lot of requests, have a link available on your website. A clean HTML page works better than a PDF. It takes less memory, looks more professional, and allows media to copy relevant quotes with ease.
Before you panic, as all authors do, please note the odds are heavily in your favor you already have most of what you need. If not, you can skip it for now and add it in once you get it. Reviews are a good example. ISBNs almost never exist for comics, but bar codes do and you can swap them out so people can verify your works. All in all, just include as much as you can. You can’t cross the finish line if you never start.
So follow along as Jamie, my new BFF – well, she will be if our paths ever cross, details how to create an electronic press kit in eight easy steps.
1. Contact Information and Bio
Your contact information should include:
- Full name
- E-mail address
- Phone number
- Links to your social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.)
- If you have an agent, manager, or publicist, their information should go here as well.
For the bio, I used the one that I created for the back of my book. A good author bio should include relevant information such as degrees and writing history, but also give readers insight into your personality. Booksellers and librarians are critical readers, so make sure you pitch yourself in such a way that it entices them to read your story.
You should also include a high-resolution, professional headshot. A good size would be around 1500 x 2100 pixels at 300 DPI.
2. Production Information
Your book cover goes here. Make sure you include a large enough image that all of the text is readable.
Below your cover add the following information:
- Publication date
- Available at
- ISBN (include both your e-book and paperback)
- Retail price
- Page count
3. Promotional Info
This section can be any number of things. But it’s essentially everything you have that can be used as promotional material.
Be sure to include sales copy for newsletters, e-mail campaigns, and blog posts. If you’re unfamiliar with sales copy, it’s sort of like a number of taglines. Marketing and salespeople will use these as the building blocks of your marketing campaign. So make sure they grab the readers’ attention. Consider the limitations of certain social media platforms; for example, it’s a good idea to have at least one that fits into a 140-character tweet.
Book Awards and Honors should also be included in this section. If your book earned a starred review from a reputable source like Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, BookLife, Midwest Book Reviews, or others, that can also be included here.
4. Interview Resources
This section is made up of sample interview questions and answers. If you’ve done interviews with bloggers, pull the most interesting questions and answers from those. Pick 5-10 questions that contain unique and interesting answers. Remember that the press kit is like a detailed pitch. You have to sell your story with these questions. Q&As are not just about your book—be sure to incorporate your personality.
5. Media Reactions
As you continue promoting your book and getting more and more reviews, you’ll collect an assortment of quotes that are great for advertising. The best grassroots strategy I’ve found so far has been through book bloggers. There are thousands of them out there and many of them are happy to read indie books for free!
Additionally, you can obtain book reviews from industry-recognized book review sources (some paid and some free) such as Kirkus Reviews, BookLife (free), Forward Reviews, Clarion, Reader’s Favorite (free), and Book Buzz. Keep in mind many of these reviewers sometimes give negative reviews, but often there is still a snippet that can be helpful.
You’ll notice I left off the New York Times, The Guardian, Washington Post, and Huffington Post because they hardly ever read indie books, but if you have a review from them, all the better! And if any reviewer awards you with a starred review, be sure to include the entire post.
6. Press Release
Consider your press release to be a one-page pitch of everything in your press kit. It should be target-specific and include all of the relevant information that both readers and book buyers need. If you can afford it, PRweb has a great service for $250 (usually you can find a $50-off promotion for your first one), which helps you create a strong press release step by step. Here’s a list of 20 free and paid Press Release sites compiled by Mashable.
7. Book Excerpt
This one is the easiest since you’ve already written the book! Something to consider is that it doesn’t necessarily have to be your first chapter; however, if it isn’t your first chapter, make sure it still reads as a standalone piece.
8. Title Page
Now that you’ve completed the major sections, let’s talk about the title page. Look at this page as a guide for the press kit. Here you’ll want to include the title of your book, a brief table of contents, and contact info.
If you have additional materials such as a book trailer or a popular social media campaign, be sure to include it as well. Anything that will entice booksellers and librarians to get excited about spreading the word about your book must be included!
Also, if you’re creating a PDF from a Word document, make sure to click through every link/hyperlink in your press kit to ensure they are clickable and open the correct web pages. You may need to use a Word to PDF converter in order to preserve your hyperlinks, but there are plenty of free sites online with this service.
Having a press kit is great for many reasons. Not only do you now have the materials ready to go when booksellers and librarians request them, but you can also use them to create your book’s landing page on your personal website. Plus, you’ve now compiled all of your pertinent marketing materials in one simple document for easy access as you build your own advertising campaigns.
From personal experience I will add that the “first chapter” you include should be no more than 2,000, or so, words long. Any more and things start to blur. There’s already a lot of information in your EPK.
I know this seems like a lot, but it’s really not. This is your career. It may take a few days to assemble everything, make sure all the words are spelled correctly and all the grammar is done strictly according to Hoyle. But you should think of it as the pain in the butt, like a vaccine or a good spanking, that’s worth it in the end.
See? See what I did there?
Okay, enough lollygagging, get to work!
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