This month, we continue our crash course on creating your author media kit. These materials make it easier for you to explain your book to the world.
As part of your author website, your online PR kit should offer a quick grasp of key details—about you, your current book, and how to promote you to others. It’s helpful to offer this information in a format that’s easy to find, easy to skim, and easy to use. They’re too busy to wade through a lot of unnecessary info to find what they want.
In Part One of this series, we covered essential pieces that explain you as an author.
In this second installment, we’ll focus on the ways your media kit should explain your current book…
Quick Description (1-2 Sentences)
Sometimes referred to as an “elevator pitch,” your book needs a brief description that hooks us in a few words. For a nonfiction book, this may mean the main topic or thesis statement. For a novel, it might be what the inciting incident means to the main characters. For a memoir or book of poetry, this can be about the context to orient potential readers.
If you can boil down your book’s hook into one or two sentences, this can come in handy for all kinds of uses. A quick description is easy to say or drop in an email when...
- Pitching to members of the media
- Connecting with booksellers, event planners, or librarians
- Talking with publishing professionals
- Creating social posts and marketing copy
From the perspective of the media: I’ll need that quick description to include in the introduction to your interview. This helps explain you to my audience and intrigue them to read or listen to the interview.
This kind of quick blurb is also ideal if I’m promoting your segment or interview ahead of time. Think about how a talk show teases what’s coming after the commercial break. They’ll generally share one sentence about what will be revealed in that next segment. The goal is to hook viewers or listeners so they’ll stay tuned.
Quick Description = Hook
Your quick description should work the same way. Its purpose is not to give away the ending or the answer found in your book. It’s to provide a hook so that whoever reads or hears that sentence wants to know more.
To see how that looks out in the field, here’s the introduction to an author interview on the Forbes website. Kate Harrison explained Lonny Kocina’s book The CEO’s Guide to Marketing with this sentence:
Here are more examples of quick descriptions…
In the midst of World War II, a German-American family finds themselves stranded in Japan in this inspiring tale of an extraordinary family adapting to the hazards of fate, and finding salvation in each other. (Journey Interrupted: A Family Without a Country in a World at War by Hildegarde Mahoney)
(Year One: Chronicles of The One by Nora Roberts)
(Caring for Your School-Age Child: The Complete and Authoritative Guide, Shelly Vaziri Flais MD FAAP, Editor-in-Chief)
Three kids trade a corn dog for a spaceship, blast off into space, accidentally break the universe, and have to find their way back home.
(Jacob Wonderbar and the Cosmic Space Kapow by Nathan Bransford)
Further reading: An Elevator Pitch for the 8-Second Attention Span
One (or Two) Paragraph Description
It’s also wise to offer a punchy description of your book that’s one or two paragraphs. This is the kind of copy you’d use for the back cover or to describe your book on retail websites. Like the quick description, this paragraph or two should set up the right expectations without spoiling it.
You want to provide enough details and context to make a connection with the right readers. A novelist might share the story hook and how that impacts the main characters. A how-to author might advance the primary topic and explain how the book’s unique take will help readers. A children’s author might outline the central lesson of the book and explain how this book’s approach will make it more engaging for young readers.
There are a few reasons a member of the media may want a description of this type:
- If I used your quick description to promote the interview, I may need this longer description to introduce the interview in the segment itself.
- I may use the quick description in the intro and follow up later in the interview or at the end with the fuller description.
- I might use this paragraph in the show notes after the interview is posted.
Remember that your description isn’t for you—it’s for the reader. Pique their interest. Tell them what they’ll experience. Explain what they’ll get out of your book!
For example, here’s the full description of Tim Ferris’ The 4-Hour Workweek. If I were to interview him, I might use the quick description (circled in red) to frame the interview, post the paragraph description (circled in blue) on the website to describe the book, and pull interview questions out of the subsequent details.
Speaking as a member of the media, your description could sway my decision whether (or not) to share you with my audience. A compelling description makes it easier to imagine that you’ll be a good interview and that my audience will be interested in what you have to share. But if your book description is limp and boring, I’ll have a more difficult time trusting that you’d make a good guest.
Further reading: How Great Book Descriptions Sell More Books
Your digital media kit should include a one-sheet, sometimes called a “sell sheet” or a “tip sheet.” This serves as kind of a one-page version of your author media kit.
With all the details about your book in one place, your one-sheet is a useful tool for meetings and conferences. Sure, it’ll help you with the media—but it’s also great for talking with booksellers, librarians, wholesalers, event planners, literary agents, publishers, and even readers.
Your one-sheet needs basic information about you and your current book, as well as how to contact you. The sheet can also include...
- Publishing Details
- Endorsements / Reviews
- Selling Points
- Speaking Topics
- Suggested Interview Questions
- Plans For Marketing/Publicity/Social Media Campaigns
Here are a couple of one-sheet examples. Note that there is no set format. Feel free to choose the details and style that works for your needs.
An ideal one-sheet is easy for someone to skim and find specific details. An event planner, a bookseller, and a member of the media will be looking for different information. Make it easy for folks to find what they consider important.
What's in Your Author Media Kit?
What kind of media materials are on your author website? Are you going to add or update any of the types listed in this article?
Watch for Part 3 of this crash course on PR kits and media essentials for your author 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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