Photo by Gerritt Tisdale from Pexels
Welcome back to Marketing Basics for Writers, where we tackle the basic things writers need to know in order to sell their books because yes, YOU are the main driver of your book sales unless you’re someone already very famous.
Previously, I wrote about the importance of building a network and how to distinguish between marketing and sales tactics. This new post is about something very basic and yet important that most writers seem to overlook: the media kit (or EPK, ie. electronic press kit).
One of the things that people in marketing always warn about is to always stay in control of your own narrative. That means how YOU wish to be seen and known should take precedence over what other people write about you. Because many people are lazy or don’t know how to factcheck anymore, it’s often the first information that gets out about a writer that becomes the foundation of any future information. Thus, it’s imperative that you not only get your information out first, but you also have to make it easy for everyone to access it.
What’s in a media kit?
Here’s the basic list, which I’ll be breaking down further below:
1. A good HI-RES author photo.
2. A short bio of 100 to 150 words.
3. A longer bio of 300 to 500 words.
4. A list of awards.
5. A list of published works, with each work including blurbs, review highlights, and images.
6. Contact information for publicists, agent, etc.
These should all be put together on one page or section of your site and made easily downloadable.
This is a basic step that many authors fail to do properly. Look: most of us hate getting our pictures taken, but considering how visually driven the Internet and our cultures have become, you need a good author photo.In entertainment, you need at least one horizontal and one vertical image, but as far as I can tell, it’s not that necessary now but if you can do that, bonus points to you.
I’d like to confess that I am tired of writers who cover up their insecurity or embarrassment by acting like they’re above taking good photos. They end up looking sheepish or ironically mugging for the camera. JUST QUIT THAT SHIT AND BE PROFESSIONAL. This is part of the business. If you feel uncomfortable with the person taking your picture, find another photographer who will relax you enough to get some good shots of you. I’ll be interviewing a photographer in a future post to talk about how to prepare for an author photo shoot, so watch out for that. In the meantime…
– use a selfie you’ve taken in a mirror or with a selfie stick
– have your photo taken by your friend/mom/sibling/etc. unless they are professional photographers
– use weird angles and poses–unless there’s something significant or relevant about that angle
This should contain the most important and relevant information about you. Now: relevant means something different for each person. The short bio is a way to express your personality, whether it’s through actual accomplishments (awards, books published, leadership credentials) or through trivia that tells potential readers something intriguing or unique about you that is related to your books. The important thing is that the short bio contains talking points that make you an interesting profile for a journalist.
This should provide more information in context of the short bio. This is where you can expand on what’s already in your short bio, and again, make sure what you include is relevant and provides people with an idea of the kinds of things you write and what they can expect from you. Also: be interesting. If the only thing you can say about yourself is that you love cats and need coffee every morning, you need to go out and live first.
Remember that these bios aren’t to give people every detail about your life so far. It’s a very curated list of interesting things about you, written in a way that will hopefully charm readers or at least entice them to read your work.
List of published works
For each published work, you should have:
– a short and snappy summary
– a hi-res image of the cover
– awards, blurbs, and snippets of good reviews (make sure you list the most glowing ones first or list by famous person)
So that’s the basic media kit right here, which I would also add is something different from the kit that you would send out to people you hope will read your books. But that will be a post for another time.
Got questions? Email me here at contact[at]theunpublishables.com.