Author Press Kit: How You Market You

J_K__Rowling

Example from an author we all know.

Who is your favorite living author? Have you ever visited their website? If you wanted to know more about them, where would you click? What would you expect to see on that page?

Now think about your website or blog. If a journalist, blogger, production manager, or agent wanted to know more about you, where would they find the information? How are you selling yourself as a writer or subject matter expert? How are you telling the story of you?

If you are new to publishing, you may not have even thought about needing an “About” page on your website. If you have one, it probably has a few fun facts about you, some pictures of your family and maybe an homage to your faithful pet. This information may be meaningful to you, but will it get you an interview or a speaking engagement? If not, perhaps it’s time to re-work your “About the Author” page to serve as an author press kit.

“Who has the time for that?” you may ask. In truth, it’s likely you already have most of the information needed to create an effective press kit. You just didn’t know you needed one. An effective press kit includes:

Author Biography and Contact Information

Lulu recommends authors have multiple versions of their bios for use in article submissions, guest posts, and interviews. Your press kit bio should be about 200 words focusing on what makes you interesting and your areas of expertise. Don’t forget to include a head shot and your (or your publicist’s) email, phone, and social media contact info.

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In addition to contact information, always include a clear, professional head shot with your bio.

 

Specific information about your book(s)
List the title, topic, genre and intended audience for your book as well as a succinct summary (no spoilers).  If you are writing nonfiction include your credentials or personal experience relevant to the topic.

Press Coverage
Show your press-worthiness. Include excerpts from reviews, transcripts from interviews, links to press releases, blogs and articles written about your work. List awards, nominations, and recognitions your work has received. Your press kit is not the place for humility.

Press Kit Newsroom1

Busy reporters are always looking for compelling local stories. A well-written press kit makes it easier for them to meet their deadline.

 

Frequently Asked Questions (and Answers)
If your goal is to schedule newspaper, radio, or television interviews, include a list of frequently asked questions and answers about you and your book. The more upfront information you provide, the easier it is for a journalist to prepare a story. Your answers should be personal, conversational, and quotable. FAQs and answers also provide jumping off points for further questions:

  • What lead you to writing?
  • How does your early (or current) life influence your writing?
  • What is your inspiration for developing these characters / writing on this topic?
  • How does the story mirror your own experiences?
  • Why did you choose to self-publish your work?
  • What are you working on now?

    Press Kit Radio Interview

    “You’ve probably answered this question a thousand times, but I just have to ask….”

Excerpts

Fiction authors should include a few meaningful sections that artfully demonstrate their writing style or provide character insight. Nonfiction writers should include a PDF of the first few chapters of their book.

Upcoming Events
Do you have a book signing event scheduled? Are you attending or speaking at a conference? Are you appearing on TV or radio? Let the world know where you will be and how to contact you during the event. If you choose to include an “events” section on your press kit page, it is imperative you keep it up to date. You may also choose to update this section with pictures from the events or links to print articles and interviews (audio / video).

Press Kit Reporter

“I saw you were going to be in town. Will you have time for an interview?”

 

Sell Sheet
If you are selling books directly from your website or through social media, you should also include your product and price lists for hardcover and paperback versions as well as wholesale bulk pricing for bookstores.

Remember, your author press kit does not have to be fancy. Keep the format, font and layout simple and easy to read. Start with material you already have and add to the page as you build your reputation online, in print, and through broadcast media. Remember this content is how you sell yourself and your work, so proofread, proofread, and proofread again to make sure it is error-free. A professional looking press kit page will help get you the publicity you need for publishing success.

Press Kit paparrazi

The publicity you deserve!

Additional Resources

How to Write a Killer Author Bio

Guest Blogging: How to Build Your Online Reputation

Five Hours to Success

 

Introducing Lulu Academy: Enroll Today

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At Lulu, we believe education is crucial to successful publishing. Self-publishing is more than just sending your manuscript and cover files to a printer. If a self-published author wants to be in control of their work (rather than ceding control to a big company) they must learn about the process to make informed decisions on publishing and selling their work.

Publishing can be complicated for beginners. From file layout, to cover design, to making your product available on retail sites; there are many lessons to learn and hazards to navigate. To aid authors, Lulu works diligently to produce useful knowledge base articles and instructional videos.

We recently introduced a new series of videos we’ve called Lulu Academy. These short videos focus on a single aspect of the publishing process. Created by Lulu employees, the videos are designed to provide short, easy to understand instructions, including screenshots of the steps in the publishing process.

Lulu firmly believes that knowledge is power and we want to help you not only get your book printed, but also to help you be the best self-published author you can be. We know that publishing can be complex and daunting, but we aim to help you make sense of it all.

You can find these and other video tutorials in the Lulu Knowledge Base, under Video Tutorials. Stay tuned for additional videos in the near future.

Examples of Lulu Academy Videos:

Why Choose Lulu?

Distribution and Your Book

The Price of Success: Not as High as You Think

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We now know that devoting as little as five hours a week to your marketing plan can result in much higher sales. That seems like a minimal investment in time, but how much will it cost? We asked 4000 of our bestselling authors how much they spent marketing their books.

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Not as much as you thought, right? 65% spent less than $500. If you add the authors who spent nothing (7%), the total number of authors who spent less than $500 in marketing is 72%. In other words, nearly three out of four best-selling authors spent less than $500 promoting their book.

How best-selling authors spent their marketing budgets

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As you can see, authors spent the most on advertising. Website and purchasing promotional copies of their book come in second and third, respectively. Below is a detailed breakout of how authors spent their advertising budgets.

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Key Takeaways

$500 or less is enough to promote a book. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars.

Most authors spent 28% of their overall budget on advertising, 15% on their websites and 14% on buying promotional copies as well as copies they sell direct to readers.

Action Items

Determine a marketing budget for promoting your book based on how many copies you think you will sell. Take into consideration annual fluctuations in sells as well as any upcoming holidays.

Examine previous promotional spending and determine what worked and what didn’t. Adjust your marketing plan to more accurately target your intended audience.

Additional Information

What Authors Say Is Most Important for Sales

Driving Online Traffic and Book Sales

Need Some Help Marketing? Ask a Friend

5-Star Reviews Are Actually Better

Human Trafficking Survivor: Marketing a Personal Journey

 

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Marketing your story can be daunting if you are a survivor. You might have been telling your story in a big or small group – to an audience at various conferences where the crowd is moved with compassion to take action to fight human trafficking or domestic violence, but never have thought that that was marketing. You are selling a product or service without realizing it.

This was the case for me when I decided to put my face to my story seven years ago as a victim of human trafficking and domestic violence. According to the Polaris Project, a U.S. based nonprofit operating the National human trafficking hotline, over 20 million people are trafficked around the world. The International Labor Organization (ILO) also states that human trafficking is a $150 billion industry. As a survivor, fighting the crime by helping other survivors is paramount to me because nobody should suffer such an ordeal. Safe Horizon, a nonprofit organization in New York states that one in four women and one in seven men experience domestic violence.

Bukola Oriola-1500p-13I published my first memoir, Imprisoned: The Travails of a Trafficked Victim on Lulu to shed light on a personal experience with the help of a professor at St. Olaf University in Minnesota. He had read my interview in the newspaper and found that I had written a book and was looking for a publisher. Now, seven years after, I am working on another memoir, a sequel to the first book. This book is entitled A Living Label. The goal of the book is to empower survivors, educate the public, and provide practical solutions to government agencies and nonprofit organizations, on how to effectively work with survivors in a way that is mutually beneficial to all parties involved.

However, I wanted to make this book reach a large audience of up to one million people. So, I decided to put a marketing plan together. I thought about timing and events around the issue of human trafficking and domestic violence, in addition to my own life’s events. First, I realized that my birthday falls during domestic violence awareness month and that I could use the book launch as my birthday party.

I created a marketing plan for a 13-week launch starting from August 1 until October 30, my birthday. Every week for the next 13 weeks, I will be discussing the book and the issue on my social media pages. While discussing each chapter, I will be asking people to subscribe to my mailing list. I call them my Insiders. They get to read more from the book, including full chapters before it is available to the public. They also get to critique the book. Their critique gives me clarity on what I should include or take out of the book. It also helps me to expatiate on certain segments of the book. To expand the number of subscribers, I ask those who want to publish their books to join so that they can learn the tips that I am using to launch my book successfully. This technique has been rewarding. I get questions. And, some of them have started taking steps to writing their books or implementing some of the tips that I shared.

In addition to using the online platform, I have also been tapping into offline contacts and resources to promote the upcoming book. I am sending emails to the contacts who have work related to the issue or are willing to promote the issue. I have also created three hashtags in addition to using the book title as a hashtag to help the launch have more visibility on social media platforms.


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About the Author

Bukola Oriola is a speaker, author, mentor, advocate, entrepreneur, consultant, and member, U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking. Appointed by President Barack Obama in December 2015, Oriola is also an award winning journalist and a survivor of labor trafficking and domestic violence. She has dedicated her life to helping others by sharing her story, and offering practical solutions to service providers, clinics, community members, and law enforcement on how to help victims of human trafficking and domestic violence.

She was awarded Change Maker 2009 by the Minnesota Women’s Press for her courage. Oriola is the founder of The Enitan Story, a nonprofit organization with a mission to advocate for victims and empower survivors of human trafficking and domestic abuse. She is also the owner of Bukola Braiding and Beauty Supply, LLC.

Honorable Bukola Love Oriola

Secretary, U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking

I am here to inform, educate, and inspire positive change.

Bukola Oriola: Recipient, 2009 Minnesota Women’s Press Change Maker Award

Author, Imprisoned: The Travails of a Trafficked Victim

www.bukolaoriola.com

www.enitan.org

www.imprisonedshow.com


Calling All Lulu Authors

Do you have a story to tell about realizing your dream as a writer? Do you have self-publishing knowledge or expertise to share with other authors? Want to expand your digital reach?

If so, we are looking for authors like you to share your story with our blog audience. Email your story pitch to PR@lulu.com. Include a brief biography and a link to your published work. We will do the rest.

Guidelines for guest posting.

 

Need Some Help with Marketing? Ask a Friend

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The last question we asked our authors was where they turned for marketing assistance. While it’s easy to imagine bestselling authors employing a team of marketing experts, the truth is,  most of them did it alone.

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It’s refreshing to see that 58% of authors had no help and an additional 21% had only unpaid help from friends and family. Only 21% – about one in five – paid for marketing support with just 2% hiring a marketing team. That’s one in fifty authors with a marketing team, versus six in ten doing marketing all on their own.

If you need help, phone a friend

While most authors did their own marketing, don’t hesitate to get help if you need it. Whether it’s hiring a designer to make a new cover (something many of our authors recommend) or recruiting a family member to stuff envelopes for a promotional mailing, there are plenty of ways to get the support you need. Here are a few ideas that we heard from the authors who responded to our survey:

  1. If you don’t have a big budget, offer to trade services. For example, write something for the graphic designer who you want to redo your book cover or website.
  2. Engage your fans, followers and subscribers. One of the best ways to get noticed on social media is to ask for your readers feedback or suggestions. Ask your audience which new book cover they like best or which email service provider they recommend.
  3. Hold a contest and give away signed copies of your book to the winners.
  4. Check out Fiverr.com. You can get a lot of marketing tasks done for cheap on this website. Be sure to select someone with at least ten reviews of 4.5 stars or better and test them out with something small before dedicating a large portion of your marketing budget to them.

Action Item

If you could get help with just two tasks on your book marketing plan, what would they be? Identify and reach out to people with those skills.

Key Takeaway

58% of best-selling authors had no help with marketing. Only one in five paid for marketing help.

B Better Than Yesterday: Lulu Achieves B Corporation Certification

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Lulu is proud to announce we recently received certification as a B Corporation, making Lulu the first online publishing company to achieve B Corp status. This prestigious designation is awarded to companies that harness the power of business by observing higher standards of performance, transparency and accountability to solve social and environmental problems.

Lulu pioneered the sharing economy when it introduced free online publishing to the world. “Lulu’s original intent was to remove barriers to publishing so that all authors could tell their story and profit from their knowledge. Little did we know, the print-on-demand business model we developed would eventually save millions and millions of trees from being turned into books no one wanted,” said Lulu founder, Bob Young.

Young refers to recently released statistics stating that approximately 40% of all books printed by traditional publishers will not be sold. Instead they will be returned by retailers and pulped. This means that hundreds of millions of books are being printed, shipped, shelved, returned and pulped each year. About 13% of the paper in every book you buy is composed of recycled paper generated by this pulping process. The remainder comes from our forests.

Lulu’s business model prevents this horrendous waste of natural resources through use of print-on-demand technology. Books ordered from the Lulu bookstore are printed when they are purchased, using certified sustainable paper products and are shipped directly from the printer to the buyer – further reducing Lulu’s, as well as our authors’ and their readers’ carbon footprint.Lulu Loves Trees header

“We always knew that Lulu was environmentally friendly, but as we worked through the B Corp certification process, we learned of the additional impact we can make each day through fair business practices and community involvement,” said Nigel Lee, Lulu CEO.

To encourage greater community involvement, all Lulu employees are granted three paid volunteer days per year to help others in their communities. Employees can participate in Lulu sponsored group activities or share their skills with organizations close to their hearts.

“Lulu is committed to improving our B-Corp scores,” Lee continues. “By trying a little harder each day to achieve this goal, we will make the world better today than it was yesterday. We do that one story, one tree, one classroom, one community, and one paid volunteer day at a time. It’s part of our story. What’s yours?”

View Lulu’s Impact Report

 

About B Corp

Certified B Corporations meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance; legally expand their corporate responsibilities to include consideration of stakeholder interests; and build collective voice through the power of the unifying B Corporation brand. Today, there is a growing community of more than 1,600 Certified B Corps from 42 countries and over 120 industries working together toward one unifying goal: to redefine success in business.

About B Lab

B Lab is a nonprofit organization serving a global movement of people using business as a force for good. Its vision is that one day all companies compete not only to be the best in the world, but the Best for the World® and as a result society will enjoy a more shared and durable prosperity. Learn more bout B Lab.

 

Five Hours to Success: Sell More Books

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You will spends months, maybe years writing, editing, and rewriting your book. When all of that is done, you can release your work into the world with just a few clicks on Lulu.com.  For some authors the work stops there, but successful authors know that’s when the real work begins. How will you make your book visible in a marketplace full of books? How will you get your book onto the bestseller lists? Where will you find the time and the money to market your book to your audience?

For most authors, marketing a new book will likely be more challenging than writing it.  To help you focus your efforts, we asked 4000 of our bestselling authors how many hours a week they spend marketing their books.

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The majority of best selling authors (61%) dedicated five hours or less to book marketing each week. 16% — about one out of every six — said they spent 5-10 hours a week on marketing tasks. Only 25% of these authors said they spend more than ten hours a week marketing their book to their audience.

How much time can you invest?

Let’s face it, authors would rather be writing than marketing. It’s what you are good at, but without a marketing plan, your book will simply gather digital dust on some online bookshelf.

By breaking marketing tasks into small steps, you can make them more manageable, regardless of your time constraints. If you only have five hours a week, work in blocks of one to two hours. Keep plugging away until every item on the list below has been researched and completed:

  1. Define your audience
    • If you aren’t familiar with your audience and their shopping habits, research them to gain that understanding
    • Write a one-paragraph description of your target audience – what they like, where they shop, etc.
    • Find those people and get your book in front of them
  2. Write your book’s elevator pitch
  3. Create a website
    • Write a detailed author biography page and include a head shot
    • Set up an email opt-in to create a mailing list (see below)
    • Add a page for editors and bloggers to request review copies of your book
    • Add new articles, transcripts of recent interviews, and reprints of book reviews
    • Add a blog to your site. Update it at least weekly. Twice a week is even better
    • Add a page with contact information for interviews, events and public speaking opportunities
    • Add a page for your coaching or consulting services (if that makes sense for your business and market)
  4. Get a Facebook business page for your book
    • Update your page at least weekly
    • Add a way to sign up for your email list (see below)
    • Like and follow other Facebook pages in your niche and comment on their pages to expand your audience
    • Use Shopify to sell your books directly from your Facebook page.
  5. Set up an email list with a free email service provider such as mailchimp.com
    • Send an email update at least every two weeks
    • Use content from your blog or update your readers on your marketing efforts or how your next book is coming along
    • Include Lulu coupon codes for reader discounts in your email messaging to encourage shopping
  6. Identify 20 influential people to whom you can send your book
    • Create a promotion package
    • Mail the promotion package to those 20 people
  7. Secure 3-5 speaking gigs
    • Bring copies of your book to speaking events for audience members to purchase
    • Be on the lookout for other authors targeting the same audience. You can build a relationship with them and cross-promote each other’s books to build audiences and drive sales
  8. Research 1-2 conferences or book fairs to attend or to sponsor for a booth
  9. Find 3-5 niche websites where you could advertise or write a guest blog post
  10. Make your printed book look as good as possible. Does it need a new cover? Better typesetting?
  11. List your book on eBay
  12. List your book on Goodreads
  13. List your book in “Shameless Promotions” in the Lulu forums
  14. On an ongoing basis, spend one hour on each major bookselling site polishing up your book’s description and appearance
  15. Reach out to potential reviewers on the big bookselling sites. Aim for at least 20-30 reviews for your book
  16. Don’t give up. As one author said about marketing, “It’s hard work! But it’s also essential for the author to relentlessly promote a new book for at least 18 months after publication.”

 

phew giphyPhew! … Sounds like a lot or work, right? Well, put in just five hours a week and you’ll be further along than you’d think. And – here’s the best part – you’ll also be closer to making enough sales to brag about on your Facebook page.

 

Action item

Schedule one hour every weekday to promote your book.

Key takeaway

Once you have everything set up, marketing shouldn’t require as much of your time. The majority of successful independent authors spend 5 hours or less per week on marketing.

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