Dress Up Your Author Media Kit with “5 Fun Facts You Didn’t Know About Me”

by | Feb 8, 2017

People love reading fun facts, like these, about their favorite authors:

  • Stephen King said that if he had the chance to live his life all over again, he wouldn’t change a thing, except he’d want to appear in an advertisement for American Express.
  • English novelist Evelyn Waugh’s first wife was also named Evelyn. They quickly became known as “He-Evelyn” and “She-Evelyn.”
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, lived next door to Mark Twain.
  • When writing the sex scenes for 50 Shades of Grey, author E.L. James listened to a playlist that included Bruce Springsteen, the Black Eyed Peas, Frank Sinatra, Kings of Leon and Britney Spears.
  • John Steinbeck used 300 pencils to write East of Eden.

Nothing dresses up an author’s media kit faster than a list of “5 Fun Facts You Didn’t Know About Me.”

Why fun facts? Because most author bios are more potent than sleeping pills. Fun facts practically beg journalists and bloggers to add them to articles they’re writing about you.

How to Use Your Fun Facts

You can weave fun facts into your bio, but I recommend you offer them on a separate page in your online media kit and link to them from the bio, so they stand out.

Some facts can be short enough to be tweets. Others can be paired with whimsical stock photos and shared on social media. How about creating an entire Pinterest board of fun facts about you?

Radio and TV talk show hosts can steal fun facts and turn them into questions for interviews. Be sure to take them with you to the studio when doing interviews.

You can use relevant fun facts when pitching journalists.

They’re also ice-breakers when someone who doesn’t know you reads your media kit and wants to contact you.

One of my fun facts is about a valuable possession that sits in my office: a 1:18 die cast model of my first car, a 1963 white Chevy Nova affectionately nicknamed “The White Tornado.”

“Your car reminded me of my first car, a 1965 blue Ford Fairlane,” one reader wrote, and we starting exchanging emails.

You’ll find so many uses for fun facts that you’ll wonder how your marketing campaign existed without them.

The Sex Temple: Now THAT’S Fun

One of the challenges of fun facts, especially if you’re building a list of five or 10, is making sure each one is indeed quirky or unusual enough to be interesting. Here’s an example.

Dr. Laurie Weiss, author of the book Letting It Go: Relieve Anxiety and Toxic Stress In Just a Few Minutes Using Only Words (Rapid Relief With Logosynthesis), created a media kit for her book using my Quick & Easy Media Kit Templates. She scheduled a consulting session and asked me to review all the materials in her kit and coach her on how to improve them.

At age 77, Laurie has done a lot over the years. Here are her “5 Fun Facts You Didn’t Know About Me.” See if you can guess which one I told her to delete and replace with something fun:

  1. I was on television for the first time in 1947 when I sat in the top row in the Peanut Gallery on “The Howdy Doody Show.”
  2. I studied with a Lakota shaman for 7 years.
  3. I am fascinated by elephants. I’ve been blessed by several of them in India and have been tasted by a baby elephant in Thailand.
  4. I went indoor skydiving for the first time at age 67 and zip lining for the first time at age 75.
  5. I wish I had had these tools during the 5 years I spent earning my Ph.D. while working full time, going through menopause, and helping my parents complete their lives.

Did the Howdy Doody fun fact hook you and make you keep reading, like it did me? I breezed through them all, fascinated. But the list ended with a thud. That last fact looks out of place. Her reference to “these tools” puzzled me. (What tools?)

I knew from reading her bio that Laurie and her husband have traveled to more than a dozen countries. So I asked her to pinpoint the most interesting thing she can remember seeing or doing.

“I spent an afternoon at the sex temple at Khajiraho and learned more possible sex positions than I can possibly remember,” she said.

She nailed it! That’s her new fifth fun fact.

Fun Facts About Other Writers

Stephanie Sammons, author of Linked to Influence:

“I grew up in Plano, Texas… and was the high school mascot (yes, I wore the wildcat suit.)”

Elizabeth Cottrell, freelance writer:

“In my distant past, I did leprosy research with armadillos.”

Author and bio expert Nancy Juetten:

“My biggest indulgence is driving my grocery cart down the aisles at Whole Foods and putting amazing and delicious things into my basket without looking at the price– -a rare pleasure!”

Joel Friedlander, who publishes this blog:

“I can recite the entire Greek alphabet.”

My favorite fun fact:
More than a half century later, I still know all the words to the song played on Talent Roundup Day each Friday on “The Mickey Mouse Club” TV show from the 1950s.

Now, It’s Your Turn

If you’re having trouble coming up with your own fun facts, use this handy cheat sheet to spark ideas:

Can you share a quirky fact about your hobby?
Which animal was your favorite pet?
What’s the oddest piece of clothing you own?
What’s the most interesting place you have visited in your travels?
What do you fear most?
What’s your guilty pleasure?
When you’re playing music, what group will you dance to even if you’re alone?
What’s the most unusual thing in the top drawer of your desk?
What was your childhood nickname?
What was your favorite toy when you were a kid, and do you still have it?
What do you collect?
Who is your hero?
What was the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you?
If you weren’t doing the job you’re doing now, what job would you want?
What was the make and model of your first car, and did it have a name?

Now, start making your own list. And don’t forget to share one of your fun facts in the Comments below.

Photo: bigstockphoto.com.

tbd advanced publishing starter kit

29 Comments

  1. cherie watkins

    I am facing my fears in my forties.
    The first time I went on a rollercoaster was when I was 43 years old.
    Went on CN Tower in Toronto at 42 years old.
    Traveled on the highway at 40 years old.
    Own my own business as of this year.

    In bucket list…

    Hang from CN Tower.
    Fly on a plane.
    Publish my book.
    Own my own business with more than 12 clients…
    and much more crazy and amazing, scary things!!!!! any ideas for me?

    Reply
  2. Robinne Weiss

    A couple of fun facts I suppose I could use…
    I used to teach with an 8-foot Burmese python wrapped around my body.
    I’ve been known as the Bug Lady since I was 7 years old and the neighbours used to call me up to ask me to take centipedes out of their bathtubs.
    I once delivered a pair of goat kids in the middle of a dinner party.

    Reply
    • Joan Stewart

      Robinne, if I were a reporter interviewing you, I’d ask you about delivering the goat kids at the dinner party. And I’d find a way to make that the lead of my story.

      Reply
  3. Gail

    There’s nothing that tells you your bio is boring like having your nephew read it to you while you’re driving.

    I said, “I wrote THAT?? Yuk!”

    I’ve long wanted the nephews and nieces to ask me questions for me to answer since we don’t see one another often. They can be creative — they asked me one a few years ago that made me laugh so hard I cried. No, I won’t answer it here!

    Reply
    • Joan Stewart

      Gail, how about asking your nieces and nephews to interview you? See where they go with the interview. You might be surprised what you learn about yourself. And I’ll bet you’ll have the makings for “5 Fun Facts.”

      Reply
      • Gail

        I’ve been thinking about that.

        And anything’s better than what’s up now!

        Reply
  4. Laurie Weiss

    Joan, I love the article and working with you was a fantastic experience. I thought of one more:
    Many years ago I was highly skilled at injecting radioactive tracers into the tail vein of a mouse. (It could be a long story)
    Now, on to your list…

    Reply
    • Joan Stewart

      Laurie, I think you should keep building that list and turn it into “10 Fun Facts You Didn’t Know About Me.” That mouse one is too good to let get by.

      Reply
  5. Vic Tomlinson

    When I had just graduated from college, I worked as a short time as a desk clerk at a Holiday Inn in Richmond, Virginia. Late one night I had the opportunity to meet Muhammad Ali and his entourage that needed lodging for the night. I’ll never forget the size of his hands as I shook them. I got his autograph, but I lost it over time.

    Reply
    • Joan

      Vic, the autograph may be long gone, but the memory remains. Thanks for sharing.

      Reply
  6. Silvana Clark

    Great ideas! I list several “Fun Facts” on my home page. One is, “I spent a week living with complete strangers while filming the Fox reality show, Trading Spouses”.
    The others are listed here:
    http://www.silvanaclark.com

    Reply
    • Joan Stewart

      This is a good one, Silvana. Thanks for sharing.

      Reply
  7. Mary Debono

    Love these fun facts, Joan! Here’s one of mine: In the middle of a crowded mall, I once walked right up to a full-length mirror, calling out and waving. It was only right before bumping into the mirror that I realized that I was waving to myself. I thought the image in the mirror was my sister! To be fair, that same sister once did the same thing, thinking it
    was me. I guess we look alike!

    Reply
    • Joan Stewart

      I’m glad I wasn’t drinking coffee while reading this or I would have been spitting it out of my nose while laughing. You really put the word “fun” in “fun facts.” In your media kit, how about adding a photo of you and your sister side by side so we can see the resemblance?

      Reply
      • Gail

        That story cracked me up because I did something similar in a Sports Authority in Florida. I was about to ask my sister something when I realized I was looking my reflection in a mirror. And it had to be a funky angle, because while we have similar features, I don’t think my sister and I look a lot alike!

        Reply
        • Mary Debono

          Glad I’m not the only one, Gail! Thank you for sharing your story. I got a good chuckle out of it!

          Reply
  8. Billie Tekel Elias

    Thanks for a fun tip, Joan. For you, I should have written that my father was shocked that his Auntie Mame-like ex-wife (my mother) allowed me to watch dogs mating when I was only six years old. Because I write about that in my book, Pearl’s Party…and you’re invited, instead I wrote that my favorite game as a kid was Lie Detector. It involved deductive reasoning and an electronic gadget.

    Check out my other fun facts at the bottom of the page https://pearlsparty.wordpress.com/about/

    Reply
    • Joan Stewart

      Billie, your fun facts are fabulous! Like Judith Briles who commented here, you included photos in your fun facts which carry readers along visually. Nicely done.

      Reply
  9. Judith Briles

    OK Joan … I’m game and created my 10 and have posted on TheBookShepherd.com website on the Media Buzz page along with the About Me this AM.

    Check it the photo I added to #7: I was pulled out of a conference audience by Johnny Carson’s favorite animal handler, Jim Fowler to be his assistant. He pulled out a 12-foot boa constrictor and handed it to me. Gulp.

    Reply
    • Joan Stewart

      I love it, Judith! This is a valuable reminder to include a compelling photo along with a fun fact. If there are no copyright restrictions, a media outlet could use the photo.

      Reply
      • Judith

        It’s my photo. Will add the (c) to it.

        Reply
  10. Frances Caballo

    What a great post, Joan. Love the fun facts. These are the fun facts that I’ve included in my bio on my website: “Like you, I try to maintain a healthy balance in my life. I hike, cycle, dance (love the Blues), and for quite some time volunteered for the Golden Gate Labrador Retriever Rescue, based in San Francisco. I also enjoy water aerobics, QiGong, and two more things: a great glass of zinfandel or a shot of Casamigos Anejo tequila.” I think the tequila may surprise some people. Did it surprise you, Joan?

    Reply
    • Joan Stewart

      Frances,the tequila fun fact forced me to say to myself, “After 4 years of Spanish in high school, I should know what Casamigos Anejo means.” I Googled it and learned that George Clooney started his own Casamigos tequila company after he ordered 1,000 bottles of the stuff in a year. Now THERE’S a fun factoid to add to your fun fact about the tequila.

      Reply
      • Frances Caballo

        You’re right, Joan. I prefer the same tequila that George Clooney loves. I should say that George Clooney and I have something in common: we love the same tequila. Anejo means aged. Casamigos is a combination of casa (house) amigos (friends). There are great pictures on the Casamigos website of George.

        Reply
        • Judith Briles

          yes you should Frances … I great coattail to George!

          Reply
        • Joan Stewart

          Frances, make this a fun fact all its own. Don’t lump it in with all the other things you mentioned.

          Reply

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