The Author Press Kit
The page on your website with everything needed for media inquiries.
Back when we talked about author websites, I mentioned press kits in passing.
But what is a press kit? What should you have in it?
A press kit is a page that has everything a media person writing about you might need, all organized neatly and available to them very quickly and easily. Who might find your press kit convenient? Bloggers, reviewers, interviewers, and of course magazines and publishers who are publishing your fiction and might need photos, bios, or other information quickly.
But the best thing about having a press kit is I use it myself extraordinarily often. It provides me a handy link to send people and say “go ahead and use anything from here!” It also provides me a place where I know I’ve got my most up-to-date bios and information, and when a venue needs one I find myself copying and pasting from my own press kit more often than not. It’s incredibly convenient, and I highly recommend it.
Here’s my press kit! I started out modeling it after Mary Robinette Kowal’s, which is an excellent example of the form, and I tweaked it as I noticed what other people were doing or figured out more information I wanted to add to it.
What Goes In a Press Kit
Here are some things you can include:
Author photos, with links to high-resolution versions, plus the required photographer credit (if applicable) and blanket permission for press outlets to use the pictures.
Bios of varying lengths.
Links to high-resolution versions of your book covers. I’ve been thanked for this one!
Anything you want to make sure people get right about your name, like listing the right pronunciation or emphasizing against common misspellings.
Your pronouns, should you feel comfortable declaring them.
Noteworthy press coverage — I definitely wouldn’t list every guest post and interview, but, for instance, I’ve been featured in articles in SyFy and Chicago Magazine that I’ve been meaning to start a section for in mine.
Any contact information that would make sense for media inquiries, such as if you’re established enough that media inquiries should go to a personal publicist rather than to you directly, for instance. This is not true for me, but I do list my agent’s info.
Anything else you think people writing about you might want to grab quickly and easily.
Author press kits commonly include at least the first two above items, and I’d say to aim for that in building your first one. If necessary, you can keep adding things as you accumulate information to include, or as you start realizing something’s a common question — for instance, I didn’t think my name would be any issue when I was first building my press kit, but I’ve had enough of the same mispronunciation now that I’m thinking I should add a brief note about that.
When Should You Start a Press Kit?
If you’re only at the point of the most bare-bones website, and what you have to share is one photo and one bio, your press kit might start out synonymous with your website’s “About” page. That’s fine when you’re just starting. Even if you’re labeling it an “About” page, though, it’s good practice to make sure the press needs are available there, like the appropriate photo credit and a link to a high resolution version of the photo.
But it’s never too early in your career to start a dedicated press kit, as soon as you’ve got even a little bit to put in it, like a couple different bios or a couple different photos. You can start small and keep adding to it as time goes on. Go ahead and keep tweaking all this to fit where you are in your career — for instance, I think my first press kit I only had much shorter bios available, as I didn’t feel like I had stuff to fill the longer word counts. (I still don’t do a one-page bio.) And I’d say it’s definitely a good idea to have a press kit before your first novel comes out, as that’s when the promo needs can start getting a lot more furious, and having a press kit for people to use — or for you to point people to — can be hugely helpful.
Remember the purpose of a press kit: you want people in media to be able to look up things about you and grab them fast and easily. So you don’t want your press kit stuffed full of irrelevant information anyway. What you want it to be is simple, clean, and easy to navigate — if it’s also short, that’s absolutely fine!
And eventually, as your career ramps up, you’ll have more and more to put in those bios.