If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, or even if you’ve had a quick browse through the archives (go on, feel free: I’ll wait), you’ll know that every Friday, I publish an interview with a fellow author.
I really enjoy these posts. They give me a chance to find out how other people approach this writing lark, and sometimes spark a bit of debate. And I know that they’re popular with readers too. (So to all those authors who have taken the time to answer my questions, thank you.)
But there’s one element of the interview which can be challenging, and that’s the supporting information. I want to help readers discover the books by the authors I interview, which is why I ask for a link to their website or somewhere people can buy their books, an author bio, and at least one photo.
Most people are more than happy to provide these, but sometimes authors don’t have this information to hand. It can take a while for them to find the right links, or a photo of the right size.
Which has got me thinking about author PR packs, and why it’s so important to have one at your fingertips in case you’re ever asked for information about yourself.
Author PR packs are useful if:
- You’re interviewed on a podcast or by a blogger.
- You run a blog tour for a book.
- You write a guest post for another blog.
- You take part in an author event, festival or reading.
- You do a book signing.
In all of these cases, you want to maximize the opportunity for as much PR as possible. Which means that you need to have a high quality photo, a bio, a list of your books and links to your website and social media to give the organizer of the event, blog or book tour.
If you don’t provide the information, you’re missing out on a chance to promote yourself and your books. And if you don’t have it to hand, you’ll waste time scrabbling around for the information and might miss a deadline.
Confession: I recently attended an author event where I’d been invited to do a reading. I didn’t send a bio to the organizer so he had to make do with using the information in my personal Facebook profile. I’ve learned from that mistake!
So here’s my guide to your author PR pack and what it should include.
Your Author PR Pack
You won’t need to provide all elements of your PR pack every time you’re asked for information. In fact, it’s very important that you provide the blogger/bookstore/festival/whoever with EXACTLY what they ask you for. Nothing more, nothing less.
“But I’ve got a lovely photo of myself holding my book in the village where my book is set,” I hear you mutter. If they haven’t asked for a photo like that, don’t send it. It’ll make their job harder, meaning they’re less likely to approach you again in the future. And it’ll make you look less professional.
So, to repeat, when you’re asked for information, send what you’re asked for. So that you’ve got the flexibility to do this, it pays to have a range of assets ready in your author PR pack so you can pick the right ones and send those.
OK, so what exactly should you keep stowed away in your author PR pack?
The Contents of Your Author PR Pack
Here’s what I recommend:
- A set of high resolution author photos.
- High resolution image files of your book covers.
- An author bio.
- A list of your books and the blurbs.
- Links to your website, social media and Amazon author page.
A Set of High Resolution Photos of Yourself
Make sure you have portrait and landscape photos, ones holding your book(s) and not holding your book(s). They must be well-lit and high resolution. I ask for at least 1000px wide for my blog but prefer at least twice that as it gives me more flexibility.
If you want to include black and white photos then do so, but I prefer color on this blog and other sites might too – so keep color ones in your pack too.
If you don’t already have a quality set of author photos, now’s the time to collar a friend who’s good at photography and ask them to take some. Consider your backdrops, and the mood they convey. I like to have photos of myself in front of a bookcase full of books, as my books are set in a range of locations and there isn’t one backdrop that would convey all of them.
A great photo is the one AA Abbott sent me for her interview. It’s full of contrast so stands out on the page, it’s a nice photo of her, features her book, and shows her in the city that inspires much of her writing. I imagine this was a professionally shot photo.
But you don’t need fancy equipment – with the right lighting and location and an eye for composition, there’s no reason you can’t use a decent smartphone.
Make sure there aren’t other people in the photos or anything sticking out of the top of your head. And check you aren’t gurning at the camera.
Make sure you name them to include your name: so the filename should be rachelmccollin.jpg, not IMG34555.jpg. This will help the person you’re sending them to when it comes to using the image, and will be good for SEO.
Now file those away, so you have a set from which to choose the most appropriate one when asked. Don’t send them all!!!
High Resolution Book Cover Images
You should already have copies of the front covers of your books. If you’re indie, you’ll need these to publish. And if you’re with a publisher, they should send them to you (if not, ask for them).
Keep a folder on your computer with the flat front cover artwork for all of your books. You won’t always be asked to provide these, but if your event/interview/blog post is to publicize one specific book, you may need to provide an image of that.
These should be in the jpg format, not InDesign, Photoshop or anything else that might have been used to create the artwork. And again, rename them as the name of your book.
An Author Bio
If you’re making a physical appearance, someone will probably be introducing you. You might be featured in a program or brochure. If you’re writing a guest post or doing an interview for a blog, a bio will introduce you.
Keep a couple of versions of your bio – one very short (just a sentence) and one a bit longer (no more than four or five sentences). That way, you can send whichever one is closest to what you’re asked for.
Your bio should be relevant to your author career. Don’t talk about your hobbies or your day job, unless they really are relevant to your writing. Instead, talk about when you started writing, what inspires you to write, and what kind of books you write.
A good example bio is the one Heide Goody and Iain Grant gave me for their two interviews on this blog. It gives you a quick precise of their book series and tells you ow successful it’s been, as well as giving you a flavor of their experience.
The purpose of the bio should be twofold: first, it will encourage people to read the interview or blog post or to listen to your talk or reading; and second, it will make people remember you so they’re more likely to buy your books.
After all, you’re doing PR in order to sell more books, right?
A List of Your Books
You should also keep an up-to-date list of your books, with links to where people can buy them.
I like to use books2read.com, where I can create a universal link to my books on all the book retailers, meaning I only have to provide one link for each book.
It’s also useful to keep all of your blurbs in one pace, so you can send them with the rest of your pack if they’re asked for. This will be useful for a book tour, a reading or a book signing. But resist the temptation to send all of your blurbs, or indeed any if you aren’t asked for them.
If you aren’t asked for a list of your books, don’t send it: instead send a link to your main author page.
Links to Your Website, Social Media and Amazon Author Page
You want people to buy your books, of course. So you need to provide a link which will help them do that. When you’re sending out your author PR pack, make sure you include links.
It’s a good idea to work this into your author bio, in a way that sounds as natural as possible. For example:
Rachel McCollin blogs about author websites, productivity and book marketing and is the author of WordPress For Writers. You can find out more about her at rachelmcwrites.com, on Facebook or Twitter, or buy her books on Amazon.
Depending on the type of PR you’re doing this for, you may need to type the addresses of the links longhand. But for a guest post or blog tour, you should embed the links in the text, for SEO and to look more professional. In the example above, I typed out the address of my website to reinforce my brand.
Anything Else You’re Asked For
If a blogger, interviewer, festival or bookstore asks you for something you don’t have yet, you’ll need to either explain what you can’t provide it, or get hold of it by their deadline.
If this is the case, wait until you have that before sending everything together. If you send multiple emails, chances are one will be ignored or lost, or you’ll annoy the person who’s helloing you out. Remember, everything you do should be designed to make their life easier. You want to make it as painless as possible for them to help you promote your books.
Is there anything I’ve missed, that you’ve found invaluable for your author PR pack? Let me know in the comments!