As I mentioned in an earlier post, it’s important for your author website to have media materials. This PR kit provides valuable context and supporting information for anyone who wants to work with you or cover you in the media.
A solid media kit will answer many of the questions someone would ask about you or your books. This makes it easier for influencers to learn about you, consider you, work with you, and decide to share you with their audiences.
Best of all? If you set it up right, a good PR kit also means they can cover you without contacting you. (This is especially useful when you’re traveling or otherwise unavailable to answer emails in a timely manner.)
In this first installment of a 3-part series, we’ll focus on those pieces that explain you as an author…
Author PR Kit: Bios
When the media wants your author bio, they’re not looking for your life story. And they’re certainly not hoping for an essay or a letter.
Your media materials should include one or more of these three types of author biographies:
- Short bio (one sentence)
- Medium bio (two or three sentences)
- Long bio (up to 100 words)
These come in handy for all sorts of situations. You can copy and paste them for social profiles, back cover copy, or anytime someone needs a quick blurb about you.
Your author bios should be quick, to-the-point explanations of…
- Who you are as an author
- What kind of stuff you write (your topic or field of expertise)
- Why you write it (relevant work or life experience—or simply that you’re a fan)
- Who you write it for (your ideal audience or type of reader)
At up to 100 words, the long bio gives you some room to share one or two personal details, like family, pets, or hobbies. But make sure you only include personal details after you’ve gotten in all the relevant stuff.
Example: Valorie Burton
Author and speaker Valorie Burton offers a quick burst of salient information on her website, and then you can click through for a more comprehensive description of her expertise and her media appearances. Check out her full bio here: https://valorieburton.com/about
Example: Heather M. O’Connor
I like how author Heather M. O’Connor offers a table of contents for her online PR kit. Her short bio revolves around details—and terms—that are relevant to her soccer novel for middle school readers. You can click on the link to find a longer bio that expands on this one. See her media kit here: http://heathermoconnor.com/media-kit
Suggested Interview Questions
As much as you hope that interviewers have read your book, the simple fact is that most of them won’t. They don’t have the time.
However, a set of suggested interview questions makes it easier for them to have an intelligent conversation on your topic. This helps them look good—and improves your chances that the interview goes in the direction you want. These are most likely to be used for recorded or live interviews, such as for podcasts, radio, or television.
The idea is to offer a set of 10-20 questions that focus on your subject or topic of expertise. Some interviewers might use these questions as a jumping off point—but some may print out the questions, get you on Skype or the phone, and start the interview.
The reason they want these questions is to talk intelligently about your topic. As such, your list of suggested questions should stick close to your subject.
They don’t need your help coming up with generic questions they can ask any author. (They already know those questions.)
Example: Susun Weed
Here’s a set of suggested set of interview questions for women’s health author Susun Weed. Note that all the questions are about her topic. You can see these online here: http://www.susunweed.com/A_press-kit_interviewQs.htm
Example: Dr. Ellen Libby
Psychologist Ellen Weber Libby, PH.D., offers these suggested questions regarding her book The Favorite Child. Once again, the questions help the interviewer discuss the subject. See the questions online here: http://www.ellenweberlibby.com/index.php/home/interview-questions
Author PR Kit: Q&A
While your suggested interview questions are—literally—a set of questions, for the author Q&A you also provide your answers. These can be the same questions as before, but this separate piece of your media kit is used by different people.
Your author Q&A might be copied and used as-is by blogs, websites, or print media. This document may also be used for research as they prepare their own questions. Some media might edit the Q&A into a new article or pick out certain quotes to round out a news item.
The answers should read conversationally. If typing out your answers makes them seem too stiff or writerly, you can have your computer read it back to you to hear what it sounds like aloud. If it will help to write out your answers to another person, you might trade emails with a friend or another author.
One option is to send your suggested interview questions to a friend or another author, hop on Skype or Zoom, and record yourself answering the questions in a back-and-forth discussion. You can transcribe the recording.
Example: Beverly Lewis
Here’s the first page of a Q&A with Amish fiction author Beverly Lewis. A publication or website might copy and paste it verbatim, edit or remix it into a new article, or simply pull out a quote. Find the press materials for this book here: http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/the-first-love/385580
Example: Anupy Singla
To support her cookbook The Indian Slow Cooker, journalist Anupy Singla posted this short Q&A where she shares about her family history, reveals how she was introduced to the slow cooker and explains how to make healthy meals without losing flavor. See the Q&A on her website: https://www.indianasapplepie.com/pages/press-q-and-a
What Are You Going to Do Now?
What kind of media materials are on your author website? Share your examples and ask your questions below!
Stay tuned for Parts 2 & 3 of this crash course on PR kits and media essentials for your website. For a more exhaustive approach, check out my 10-part series: The Ultimate Guide to Creating an Author Media Kit
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