Entries Tagged 'Press Kits' ↓

How to Write a Kickass Author Bio

I know that sometimes when you sit down to do something that should be simple, like write your own paragraph-long author bio, you just get blocked and stare at the blinking cursor and wish for death. But you’re a writer. Suck it up and write your damn bio. You’ll need it for your website, any press you get, your book covers (eventually), and your query letters. Here’s how to do it:

1. Write your bio in the same tone that you write your books.

If your books are a little humorous, your bio should be a little humorous. If your books are about familial relationships, it’s probably best to highlight your family. If you write dog training books, you’d probably better mention your dogs.

2. Keep it short.

Remember, no one cares as much about you as you do, so don’t put them through the agony of reading a page-long description of your quirks and history from age 2.

3. Make it interesting.

Your readers want to be able to connect with you on some level, so make it easier for them to do that. Think about the questions people most often ask you: What do you do? Where do you live? What are your hobbies? Do you have any kids? If you have some weird fact to share that also relates to what you write, score one for you. Use it.

4. Write it in third person.

This is true for almost everything. The major exception is, of course, query letters. Those need to be in first person because, uh, they’re letters, duh.

5. Put your name at the very front.

I tried, but I cannot think of any other item that must be in every author bio besides your name, and it should be the very first thing people read. “Jane Doe has been a writer since the tender age of blah blah blah…”

If you’re still drawing a blank, here’s some other stuff that you could include in your bio, but certainly don’t have to. Oh, and don’t include all of them. I will personally hunt you down if you use all of them in one bio. It’s just unnecessary and no one wants to read it.

  • Where you live
  • Who you live with
  • What you write (If this is for a book cover flap, what you write besides what the reader is holding in her hand.)
  • Your hobbies/how you spend your non-writing time
  • What got you into writing in the first place
  • Any REALLY BIG credentials– I’m talking New York Times Bestseller here, not Mom’s Yearly Poetry Contest winner.
  • Your educational credentials only if they relate to what you write (If you have a PhD in coniferous fungal varieties, I don’t really want to know, unless that’s what your book is about.)
  • Any causes dear to your heart or volunteer work you do (even better if it relates to your subject matter, but doesn’t have to)

Don’t forget to go around and read the bios on some of your favorite authors’ websites and get some ideas for what you’d like to do with yours. Remember, this writing stuff is fun, so enjoy it!

Press Here, Press

Don’t forget to make your press kit available online! The press doesn’t want to search through endless cutesy pages of stuff to find what they need. Everything in your press kit should be available on one page in your “press room,” ready to print or download.

Also, I’ve heard from a marketing presenter, the press room page of your website will consistently be the most trafficked part of your site. I’ll keep an eye on my sitemeter and see if that turns out to be true, but it makes sense. I always click on the link for the press, just because it makes me feel special. (Take that, press. I can see everything you can see.)

Press Kit, sans Pink Kitties

In order to do press releases and get yourself some media attention, you’re going to need a press kit. A press kit must include:

1. press release
2. book tip sheet
3. biography

It should also include:

4. photo
5. business card
6. book reviews (which should only be short blurbs excerpted from full book reviews, and can optionally go on the book tip sheet)
7. excerpts
8. copy of your book
9. recent newsletter
10. bookmarks and other promotional items
11. pitch letter

We’ll go over a lot of pieces of this in other articles, but to cover the most important aspect of the kit, the press release, I’d like to direct you to a how-to article. (Hey, why am I gonna rewrite what’s already been written by someone who knows what she’s doing a lot better than I do? Hm?) Check out How to Write a Press Release by Luan Aten. Follow it carefully. You’re a writer, so don’t whine about how hard it is to write a press release. You wrote a freaking novel. A press release is nothing. Here’s a word of warning though: Spin it. You’re not writing a release about how your book is coming out. That’s boring. Find an angle. “Local author published in emerging eBook format.” Something like that. Consider your audience. You might have a few different press releases to use, depending on where you’re submitting them.

Your book tip sheet is just a simple one-pager with the following information: title, author’s name, publication date, genre, page count, blurb, reviews. Format it nicely on your letterhead and don’t go over a page in length.

Each press kit will have a different pitch letter. I know, whine whine whine, it requires work, but in order to pitch yourself, you need to be targeting the specific place you’re pitching to. Think of it as a book pitch. Get those hooks and twists in there and think of a unique way to market yourself, beyond “my book is coming out.” I guarantee no one cares that your book is coming out besides maybe your mom.

Once you get everything together for your press kit, I suggest finding a nice way to present it. Since you’re an eBook author, have all of this stuff available (and formatted beautifully on your letterhead) in electronic format. You might even consider presenting the whole kit on a cd, though I would suggest presenting it in print format too for more traditional outlets.

To present it beautifully in print format, find a pocket folder that fits your brand. You don’t have to order custom folders, but consider getting folders in a color that goes with your letterhead. You can find pocket folders with a window in front to let your letterhead show through, or you can even print up stickers with your logo to attach to the front of the folders. Remember, be professional. No pink kitties. Some folders also come with perforations where you can insert a business card.

We’ll talk about where to submit your press releases in another article.