Unknown Facts About First Chapter Plus

Back in 2010, the idea of an interactive e-catalog was a revolutionary one. After all these years, it has proven to be a useful tool for authors, especially Indies! So much so, that we can find many e-catalog services in different shapes and forms in the virtual world. There are many advantages to the First Chapter Plus catalog, though. Following are some facts about our catalog:

1) It was one of the first e-catalogs (if not the only one) launched in 2009 – 2010 in which listing prices have remained almost intact over the years, keeping affordable options open to Indies.

2) The first chapter of the book stays on the website for years, meaning it can be found by readers through search engines for years!

3) It is one of the most interactive and user-friendly e-catalogs out there, which allows the reader to explore not only the book but also the author's website.

4) October is the largest issue of the year, and goes out as the "Holiday Issue" to its audience, offering all titles just in time for the holiday shopping rush.

5) It includes many promotional offers to its subscribed authors, often offering free months throughout the year.

To check out the catalog, visit www.firstchapterplus.com!


Marketing through Photos and Images

Images can be key tools when promoting and marketing your books. Here are a few tips on how to make the most of your book images.

Some books have at least a couple of images connected with them—the cover and the author photograph. Other books have numerous interior pictures, illustrations, and/or other types of images and artwork. All of these images can help to promote your book. The idea is to identify which images are great to use for marketing before the book is published and put in place a marketing plan using the images.

Make Sure You Have the Right Types of Images

It is important to have the right image specs. Make sure your artist, photographer or illustrator provide you with high and low-resolution jpeg format on all artwork. This will guarantee quick availability for use on the internet, or on printed marketing materials when your campaign is in place. Sometimes images will be given to you in tiff format, which is better in some cases. However, jpeg format works with most, if not all different systems. Graphics, if designed or produced by someone other than you, will have certain rights that might limit their use. Make sure you understand what you are allowed to do or not with them to avoid future problems. The best thing to do, even if it’s a little more expensive, is to obtain unlimited use rights or specify the production of marketing and other products that might bring income, such as t-shirts…etc, this way you won’t have to go back to get permission to use and edit on each marketing project you might want to launch.

Another wise thing to do is take a quick class or You-Tube how to use Photoshop or any other photo-editing software. This will save you time and money when designing promotional and marketing tools. Depending on what your plans are and which online system you plan to use, the graphics might need different requirements, so it is always useful to know how to edit them quickly.

Ideas to Market Your Book Images

Websites: The first thing an author will need to create and build their platform is a website, and yet, many Indie authors skip the website altogether! Having a website not only creates a place where readers can find out more about your books and your events, it also creates your brand as an author. First-time authors starting out with their first website must make sure the website resembles their book cover or reflects the book’s content. Talk to your website designer so the best use of the cover and other images can be made. Use those images as a preview so people will want to buy the book. This is one way to use the book’s images to promote the book.

Blog: A website with no activity will not do the trick. Authors need to make sure the website connects them with their fans, so it needs to be interactive. This is the benefit of adding a blog. When you are creating your brand, you want the images and color themes to identify with your products. You may want your blog to reflect the theme and content of your book and your author persona as well. The author picture from the book will identify you and connect you directly to your product, so why use a different one? You can use your other images to post on your blog, a couple at a time. This one place you will want to make sure you have many jpeg images available. If you are going to post a daily blog or even just a couple of times a week, make sure your images are all readily available to you, and already cropped and sized as needed, to save you from spending a lot of time with them. 

Online Photo Albums: In the age of social networking, people love to look at each other’s photos. So much so, that most postings on Facebook are done through an image nowadays. Whether you’re on Facebook, Instagram, your website, or another site that allows you to upload photos or images to an album, a photo album for your book, events, or even about the main topic of the book, creating a photo album is always a great idea. People will be more interested in your book if they can see some of the images. And don’t be afraid to alternate some of these images for your profile photo as well.

Book Preview Videos: There is no better way to make the story in your book come alive than seeing it on a book video. Having a video made of your book can be tricky, and should be done by a professional to obtain an effective tool that will hook the reader and convince them to check out the book. There are several professional book promotion companies, and yes Reader Views is one of them. When picking one, do not go by just their prices, also check out samples of their work, and options offered. Make sure they allow you to use your own pictures as well as stock pics. Getting the books graphics in the video is vital. You may want to include a voiceover script or have one made for you that will help you match up the words said with the proper images to use, as this will give it movie flair. Even if your book doesn’t have a lot of images, here is a reason to find additional images, provided you pay for them or use royalty-free images that will help you promote the book. A good book video producer will help you find additional images and even animations that will go with your book.

 Postcards and Other Marketing Pieces: Bookmarks and book cover business cards are not the only way to create handouts. Let’s face it printing handouts can get expensive, so why not make an income from them? For example, if you’ve written a history or travel book, why not turn your images into your own postcard line. If the tourists are likely to buy your book, they’ll buy your postcards also, and because postcards are generally low-cost items, you may be likely to sell a large quantity of them. You can do the same with your book marketing pieces—pick five or six of your best images and make t-shirts, tote bags, notepads, bookmarker series—for children’s books you could have a bookmarker for each character in the book or children’s trading cards! Even if you don’t mention your book on all of these items, you can earn additional income from your images, and you can sell these products on your website in addition to your book, and even on Amazon.

The local gift shop might not sell books, but they might be able to sell calendars or t-shirts. Don’t limit yourself. Market and sell your images, with or without your book.  

People love to look at pictures, and images are attention grabbers. Use images to get attention and promote your book in every way possible. Being creative with those images can generate additional income for the author as well! For more information on how Reader Views can help authors click here.

Full Disclosure - That is What Authors Want!

When it comes to services for Indies, the internet is the one place most of us go shopping. Yet, finding what we need is not a simple thing. Our first stop will always be a search engine, but as we go through the list of companies, and begin the click-through process, we realize quickly that we not only don’t know what we are looking for, in many cases the websites we are checking out don't even specify the costs clearly. That and the justified fear of scams is enough to paralyze new authors on the spot when it comes to searching for services that might work for them. In my opinion, we should all be able to shop for services the same way we shop for groceries and clothes. In all honesty, the 'full disclosure' policy should also be applied to people, and thus my new profile pic, showing all my shades of gray! Following are some things to consider when searching for publicity and promotional help through the internet:

  • The first thing to do is to sort out the websites that offer services a la carte and those who do not disclose services or prices.
  • Then tackle all the places that show details. Make a selection of a couple that call your attention, not just on prices but also on the detail of services described, as well as any additional information about the staff, and the company's mission statement. Don't shy away from contacting them to get a feel for them, and ask questions. 
  •  Once you have an idea of what publicity services look like, check out the ones that pique your interest and compare those companies to make an educated choice.

In the end, there is no wrong or right, just what works for each one of us, but we can’t figure it out if we don't have the necessary information! For more on how we help authors visit readerviews.com.

Why Authors Should Blog


Many authors start a blog as a way to build a platform, a place to post their events, start a conversation with their audience, and as a marketing tool for their titles; but very few use their blogs to the fullest potential. Blogging is first and foremost, a publishing tool, which can be utilized when creating new projects. Below are some ways writers can make their blogs work for them during the creative process:

•    What to write – Many times a new story is born through a current or historical event, an interesting person we met, a dream, or even a specific life experience; yet thinking and writing a story doesn’t make it sellable. So, if the purpose of writing the story is to sell it, the author should think about the feasibility that the story would have an audience. This is where blogging comes in. By writing and posting articles, short stories or essays, and marketing such content in a way that it will not only bring traffic to the website but will also generate a response from such traffic; the author can get audience feedback on story ideas. This will allow authors to be conscious of what is worth developing into a book and what isn’t, which in turn gives the book a better chance to succeed.

•    Provide an outlet for multiple ideas – Many authors (if not all) have more than one nagging story idea in their minds. This makes it very difficult to focus on one project at a time. Through blogging short stories or articles about the ideas that pop up, and realizing the level of interest of the audience, the author can purge ideas that are only taking space in their brains and put the effort where the market is.

•    Accessible Ideas Archive and Record Keeping – Blogs can also serve as the author’s idea archive, which can be revisited multiple times for new writing material. The fact that a story doesn’t have a market today doesn’t mean that it won’t have a market tomorrow. Authors can not only read through their old entries and find something that applies to the audience a couple of years down the road; they can also read the feedback it generated for comparison and to determine a better angle to market the story as a new project. The blog can also provide a verifiable record on when the author generated that idea for copyrights issues as well!

Creativity is a gift that authors sometimes do not use to their fullest by limiting it to only creating stories. Being creative when using the tools provided by technology will, in fact, make the difference on all writing projects. For more information on how Reader Views can help authors, visit www.readerviews.com.


What Authors Need to Remember When Writing a Children’s Book


As a reviewer and author of a children’s book, I have been on both sides of the book’s coin. On one end, I wrote and illustrated my book. On the other end, I manage Reader Views Kids, our website where all the reviewers are kids. During the time I spend in these two roles, I have become very aware of a few things about children books and kids as an audience, which I didn’t really realize before. Things that have been very handy in my writing and publishing my book, Tuma: The Tribe’s Little Princess.

·         Writing children’s books should not be done in isolation. I always become a hermit when I am working on a book. First, I put the story down, and then I begin the critiquing and rewriting. This did not work with my picture book. There are so many factors to consider for this audience, that it becomes imperative for the author to tune up to what is current.

·         Not only does the vocabulary need to be age appropriate, but the story must also be age appropriate, in order to spark their interest, as well as gain parental approval. So, just because I believe I have a story that kids would love, doesn’t mean they will. They need to be tested.

·         Kids are brutal reviewers! They have no filter, so they will be as honest and raw as it gets. This is why it is best to test your manuscript before investing in the publishing. It is not about the story and message you want to share; it is about how you deliver the story and message to your audience.

I am not trying to discourage anyone from writing and publishing their own children’s book idea. I am just pointing out to include the audience in the process. This will definitely give the book the best chance in the market, as the result will be in-sync with what kids are currently into, and not what we remember from our own childhood.  To learn more about how Reader Views can help authors, click here.

Categorizing Your Title in a Literary Awards Contest

With the end of summer approaching, the deadline for our annual literary awards contest gets closer and closer.  As the submissions coming in keep piling up, I thought it would be the perfect time to share some awards wisdom with our authors!

        Each literary awards contest has different guidelines, categories, and submission requirements. So when submitting to various contests, it is always a good idea to keep a log that not only keeps track of when you sent each one but also shows the guidelines, fees, categories you submitted to…etc. Doing this will help to keep track of the current submissions, and it will also create a chart with information about each contest, which will be helpful for upcoming books.

·         Authors are right to assume that the genre of their title should be the main category to enter in the contest. Does this mean that it must be the only one? The answer is no. A literary novel, for example, could also be historical fiction, mystery, thriller, or all of the above! Consider submitting the title in a few categories, or even submitting the title in different categories for different contests to improve the chances of scoring an award!

·         Choosing which category to enter in an awards contest is important mostly because the category selected will determine the judge who will read the book. If the author chooses to enter their Christian fiction title in the general fiction category, it will be reviewed by a judge who prefers to read general fiction. A better fit for the title would be the judge that reads Christian fiction titles. It is essential to choose the category that is the best fit for the book’s topic.

·         As some categories are more generalized, they will have more submissions than the more specific ones. In other words, the fewer the number of titles in a category, and the number of categories entered improves the chances of being picked as finalist or winner.

In the end, all authors want their title to win. When shooting to win, competitors need to make sure they give their submission the best possible chance. In my opinion, the key is to categorize the book correctly and even submitting in different categories applicable to the book’s topic. Keeping all this straight and organized will also help when strategizing submissions and make the process easier for your next title. For more information about the Reader Views Literary Awards, click here. 

Book Reviews: Getting Personal

I know that I have written many articles and editorials about book reviews, but every so often, I confront situations, reviewers, and authors’ reactions that perplex me, and I am prompted to spend a little extra time on this topic.

To start, I want to clarify once again, that legitimate book review services will not guarantee a positive review, even if you pay for an express review, an awards submission, or a publicity package. The only guarantee you get when purchasing a package is that someone will read your book and provide you with a review. Book reviewers are usually so swamped that the amount of time it will take to read and review a book is not guaranteed in many instances. In fact, most publicists will tell their customers that the book review process should begin six months prior to publication.

Self-publishing has created opportunities not available to indie authors previously.  I am all for indie books as I am an indie author myself. Having said that, I must state as an indie author I have a big responsibility to produce the best quality product that I can. This includes writing and editing craftsmanship as well as publishing design and printing. There are a few things we must remember as authors when submitting a title for review.  We have to remember that we will not be sitting next to the reviewer or awards judge to answer questions or explain ourselves.  We also have to remember that what a reviewer or judge says or thinks about the book is just their opinion. It is just a summary of their experience with your book in their own words.  

Granted sometimes the words are not exactly what we would like to hear, even though it goes without saying that reviewers should always use their professional voice when writing a review. As the Managing Editor of Reader Views, I select reviewers that have a professional track record. I give them guidelines on how to word their opinion, and even read and oversee the editing of all their reviews. Sometimes we will miss something, we are only human. But in all cases, we will post an honest, professional review, whether positive or negative. We will not edit out the voice or opinion of the reviewer, but we do expect a professional review. This is what all authors, including myself, should expect.  

Yet, some authors  take the opinions of  a single reviewer or judge in a personal way. I know how proud we all are of our work, but taking it personally will get you nowhere. Instead, when we don’t agree with the reviewer’s opinion, I invite consideration of the following:

·         Send a note to the reviewer thanking them for their time and ask them a little more detail about their opinion so that you can consider those points on your next project.

·         Look closely for portions of their review that can be used as quotes and post that quote on your website and on your Amazon Author Central account as an editorial review quote.

·         Comment on the blogs where the review has been posted, and in a polite and friendly way appreciate their time for the review and opinion in some way.  Maybe even clarify some of those negative points for all readers to consider.

By not taking a negative review personally, a lot can be accomplished. In the end, I revised my own book as the result of comments from a reviewer, and I ended up with a better product the second time around. The whole experience made me more publishing savvy, and my professional attitude allowed me to keep many doors open to receive good reviews for my improved revised edition.  For information on how Reader Views can help authors, visit us at www.readerviews.com.

Why Kids Should Become Book Reviewers


One of my favorite things to do as the managing editor of Reader Views is to match our authors’ titles with one of our reviewers when processing publicity packages. Being an author, I understand how terrifying it can be to have your book reviewed, so I always make sure each title gets the best chance by making sure the reviewer is the appropriate one for the title. Having a reviewer within the target market and genre of the title is very important to give the most honest and professional review possible. But, my commitment to professionalism and honesty does not go only to the authors; it is also for the readers!

Reviews must help readers decide whether a title is for them or not. It because of our dedication to readers, we decided many years ago that kids should review children’s books, and thus ReaderViewsKids.com was born. We created the Reader Views Kids website to cater to young readers who love to read, and value other kids’ opinions about the books they want to read. Through this, we discovered that we were not only serving the authors and readers but the reviewers as well! There are many benefits for the kid reviewer. To list a few…

·         They learn better reading skills

·         They learn better writing skills

·         They learn how to form their own opinions about other people’s writing

·         They learn how to communicate their opinions

·         They learn how to provide constructive criticism

In all, becoming a reviewer helps kids become assertive, self-confident, and well-adjusted critical thinkers who are not afraid to be themselves. For more information on how to become a kid reviewer (from preschool to young adult) click here. 

To check out some of our kids' reviews visit www.readerviewskids.com.