Local Book Events - Tips for Authors

 Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

Many authors are writers first and marketers second, and although it takes writing the book to market it…without the marketing in place the book won’t get to readers. It is a vicious cycle, but somewhere in there, the author can find the perfect timing and come up with a balanced formula that can work for them. Here are some tips:

·         Although online stores are an awesome way to get books out there, the author should also think local in order to get a jump start on sales through book events planning.

·         The best time to plan local events is 6 -3 months before the book is out. The author should come up with a list of possible book stores that might be interested in hosting a book launch, signing or speaking event.

·         Visiting the store and establishing a positive relationship with the sales staff and management before approaching them with a book pitch is not only wise…it is necessary. So, the author needs to allocate that time to build up these relationships before the book is in production. Mentioning their upcoming book is OK, as long as it sounds like sharing a comment and not like a pitch.

·          When the time comes, and there are galleys available, the author should then present the pitch by following their regular process and not expect special treatment.

·         The author should always remember that he/she is not the only one trying to get their book into the store, and that to the end, creating a positive can go a long way.

In the end, we are all humans, and if given the choice the bookstore will always choose the product that they think will sell, but they will also prefer to work with the author they already know to be nice, easy to work with, and that can have their back by being available to fill in gaps on their events calendar. For more information on how we can help authors visit us at www.readerviews.com.


Feedback: Constructive Criticism or TMI

 Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

Yes, I am going to go there… again. Through the years I have truly enjoyed helping other authors, to the point that I have found myself neglecting my own writing projects. But occasionally I bump into an author that makes it very difficult to not ask, “Dude, what are you thinking?!” So here I go again writing about author etiquette when dealing with free services or media attention, such as reviews, interviews, giveaways, and awards prizes that are valuable services. However, this time I am writing as an author, much like yourselves, because as an author I find difficulty in trying to understand how there are some among us who are eager to give unnecessary criticism on a free service. I’d like to remind everyone that any publicity is better than no publicity and the professionals offering them take time out of making a living to give a helping hand. We should all be appreciative enough to keep unsolicited advice. Here are some tips on how and why to do so:

·         The professionals who offer comp services are specialists in the field. They offer them to give back, network, and any other number of reasons they might have. But they do give a free service at their own expense instead of using that time on a paying customer.

·         They do the work in a professional manner following the standard guidelines of the field. In other words, you are getting the same service you would if you had hired them.

·         Sometimes, by voicing opinions without knowing the reason behind the way things were done, you are closing a door for the future. Consider asking upfront why things were done in such a way instead. You could learn a thing or two and keep a door open for future projects.

Finally, remember that the advantage of receiving freebies goes beyond of what you are getting. You are also establishing contacts that might be helpful in other ways. The professionals offering them know other professionals in the field, they also have all levels of successful clients, and deal in some cases with media contacts. So be friendly, professional, appreciative and most of all kind. Gaining friends along the hard road of Indie success is not a plus, it’s a necessity to making it to the finish line successfully.

To learn more about how we help Indie authors, visit us at www.readerviews.com.

Proofreading 101

 Sheri Hoyte Managing Editor

Sheri Hoyte
Managing Editor

There is nothing like curling up on the couch with a new book.  Sure, there are a million other things you could be (or should be?) doing, but if you’re anything like me, the opportunity to relax and be carried away to another place and time through a story is priceless.  That being said, there is nothing that puts a damper on my treasured quality time like a poorly edited manuscript!

Proofreading is the most basic of all editing functions.  It can also be the most overlooked or neglected function in the process of getting your book published.  Taking the time to check your document for punctuation and spelling mistakes, and grammatical and formatting errors, can take your finished product from good to great.  Proofreading should not replace professional editing.  Rather, proofreading should be done before sending the manuscript to be edited.  The cleaner the manuscript, the better the chances the editor will catch everything else through their special lens.  More importantly, the cost of editing a well finished manuscript will be less than a messy one for sure! Following are some tips to help you through the proofreading process.

·         Don’t depend on the spell checker and grammar checker built into your word processing program.  Spelling and grammar checkers are a great place to start, but they don’t catch everything and shouldn’t be considered the final word.

·         Patience.  Proofreading is about as monotonous as it gets, but rest assured that it does get easier with practice.  Set yourself up for success by creating a distraction-free zone; put the phone away and turn off the music.  Steer clear of anything that may cause your concentration to stray. 

·         Don’t try to proofread something you’ve just spent hours writing.  Your brain and your eyes need a break.  It’s too easy to overlook errors when you are tired and have been working on the same thing for too long. 

·         Proofread from a hard copy.  Online writing software is great, and I love technology - almost always; but there is something to be said for spreading your document out on the table and getting down to business with your red pen.  It’s easier to gloss over errors on a screen that oftentimes jump out at you on paper.

·         Read slowly and read everything.  Read every single word.  Slowly.  Again.  Get the picture? Oh, and don’t skim past the obvious places errors like to hide, such as chapter numbers and titles, page numbers, character names, addresses, capitalization, etc.

·         Have someone else read your work.  Often a fresh set of eyes may be just what you need to put the finishing touches on your masterpiece.

When all is said and done, the quality of your publication is a direct representation of you as an author.  Be confident your best efforts are showcased by spending a little time proofreading your work.  For information about our services for authors visit us at www.readerviews.com and click on the Services for Authors tab

Create Community and Support Your Books

 Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

By now most, if not all, authors know they need to create a platform even before they become published if they want to sell their books, articles, or any writing at all. But not many create a community around them to support their writing. Currently, the publishing industry is not only flooded with books of all formats, it is also becoming congested with all kinds of platforms. Many of those focus on readers, book promotion, and Indie publishing services. This makes it very difficult for new authors to navigate and decide which services they need, and where to get them. But, it also creates a diversity of vendors for the author that might not be beneficial at all. Yes, sometimes things go wrong with a vendor and a new one must be found, but not creating a stable community around them can, in the long run get an author stuck in internet limbo. Below, are some tips on how forging a sense of community can benefit the relationship of Author–Vendor–Audience:

·         Having a support community generates an environment of collaboration between the author and vendor. This not only creates loyalty between them, it also provides costs breaks, infinite resources, and even promoting help within the vendors’ platforms.

·         Vendors not only know many readers, they are also readers!

·         An author community can not only help expand their platform quicker through the credibility of a community; through the long term relationships it provides friends, and collaborators who want to see the author succeed, instead of just seeing an author as someone who provides business.

Having a supportive community of collaborators allows authors to rely on them and spend more time producing new books, as well as touring their current ones. For more information on how our community can help authors visit us at www.readerviews.com.


Writing – From Hobby to Career

 Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

Most authors write because they enjoy it, but promoting and selling, or even writing books that an audience will read requires the will to step out of the writing blitz and into the grinding world of publishing, which usually is not a writer’s favorite place to be! Yet, writing will never go from hobby to career unless the author does so. Below are some tips to take your writing from hobby to career:  

·         Re-writing the Masterpiece First Draft! The phrase “I just write it as it comes out. It’s inspired and revision is not necessary.” Sadly, no one will be impressed with typos, misspelled and wrong words, repetitive phrases, illogical plots, or dialogue that isn’t clear or doesn’t sound genuine to the characters. Not only are you obviously a hobby writer, but I’m sad to say that you’ve wasted your money publishing a book that no one will buy, or if they do, will only hurt your reputation. So get the manuscript critiqued and listen to what others have to say. Then re-write and send it to a professional editor.

·         Spend the money on Editing! Nope, your son who just finished his BA in English will not do. Pick an editor who has experience with the same type of book you are publishing under their belt. Not only is your son inexperienced, he won’t take your book seriously enough as a professional. Personal relationships are best kept as that. Hire a professional. Better to spend the money and have a quality product than to have a book that people will put down because of the typos. If you’re serious about being an author invest the money to have the book edited.

·         I’m not going to get up to give a speech. No problem. Plenty of other authors will. If you don’t talk about your book, then you can’t provide a hook to make readers interested. People want to be entertained, and even if you’ve written the best book ever on your subject remember, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,”(Theodore Roosevelt). So get up and give that speech. If you’re shy, go to public speaking groups or get a coach so you get better at speaking in public. You need to present yourself so people will get to know and like you, and then they will want to read your book.

 ·         I’m not going to sit at that art fair for eight hours a day all weekend. Yes, doing book shows and art fairs can be long days. They can also be exhilarating experiences where your readers have a chance to meet you personally. They get the opportunity to speak to you individually, to have you personally sign their books. What an opportunity!

 ·         I don’t want to write or promote online full-time because then it would be like work. Let’s get real here. You love writing. It’s what you’re passionate about. What’s wrong with working at it—with having a job you will love, if not fully, then a lot more than the day-job you have now? Writing and promoting yourself full-time—that’s not work, that’s living the dream and never having to work again, even though you might actually be putting more time in it than any regular ‘day job.’

Now that you’re aware of the “hobby” mindset, get rid of it! No more excuses. Make today the first day of the rest of your professional writing career! For more information on how we help authors visit us at www.readerviews.com.

Do Your Readers Know Who You Are?

 Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

Recently I decided to go back to working on my own book projects, so I went back in time looking for unfinished stories, ideas, notes…etc. As I read things written years ago I realized that the person I was then had grown and evolved into someone else…to who I am today; yet none of it showed on my website. I even felt the disconnect with it as I browsed my content, as I found only one aspect of me as a writer. So, if I couldn’t relate to it anymore, what is happening to my audience?

An author’s website is his/hers writing den, store front, office, but most of all is a meeting place for fans, readers, and media. Here are some things to consider when designing or updating your website:

Make it active and current. - Does the page really show who you are? To attract the right audience, the website needs to be genuine and present the author as he is currently not how he was few years back when the first book came out.

Know your audience and show what you have in common! Will the reader feel your buzz? For readers to relate, the author needs to open up to its audience, but he/she also needs to get to know the audience to be able to connect. To achieve this, the website should be as interactive as possible.

Finally, it is not all about credentials. It is always a good idea to post your credentials for credibility, especially for nonfiction books that call for it. But even when credentials are needed, authors need to remember to keep themselves humans and reachable for the audience. By speaking about your hobbies, children, favorite food, etc. the audience will feel welcomed by a down to earth person and not a statue on a pedestal.

In the end we must look at our website as the place we invite readers to meet, greet, chat and get to know each other! For more information on how we can help authors visit bookbybookpublicity.com.


Book Promotion – Is There a Perfect Formula?

 Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

Most Indie authors know promoting a book is the real hard work in the writing profession. Most of us have already spending an infinite time online, at speaking events, book signings, conferences, and who knows what else, always trying to promote ourselves and our books. For some those efforts translate into book sales, but for others it doesn’t.  Why is that? What do some authors do that helps sell books? What are we missing when our promotion efforts don’t produce the expected results? Is there such thing as the perfect formula? In the years I’ve been doing this I can only offer a straight “No” as the answer to this last question. Book promotion is not a cookie-cutter design. Yes, we must use online tools in combination with real world events and opportunities, but how we combine them is not a “one-size-fits-all” thing.

Below are some tips on how to design a promotion campaign customized to each title:

•           The most important thing is to always begin promoting early.  That is about 6 months before the book is out.  While the book is still in production, the author should be already being planning what strategy best fits the book, and begin putting it in motion.

•           Get help. Even when the author plans to do their own campaign, some guidance is necessary in order to navigate the different angles, tools, and best timing for the launch of the campaign. So partnering up with a publicist even if just for consulting always makes good sense.

•           Make a decision and be persistent! Promoting your book is not a “once and done” thing. It must be a consistent effort for as long as the book is for sale.

•           Be proactive. In the end no one is more interested in selling your book than you - not Bookstores, not publishers, not publicists!  So the author should always be a consistent promotion pusher. Be proud of your product and keep up with it!

For more information on how Reader Views can help visit us at www.readerviews.com.

How Do You Focus When the Ideas Aren’t Flowing?

 Sheri Hoyte Managing Editor

Sheri Hoyte
Managing Editor

Are distractions hampering your productivity? While searching the internet the other day, (conducting research of course), I came across a pitch generator that uses the letters of your name to determine how you should pitch your book idea to publishers. According to this generator, my pitch using my first name should be for a “high-voltage tragedy about an exuberant ghost’s failure.” Well, that was so much fun I tried it again with my last name. Then my brother’s name, then my third cousin’s name…you get a clear picture of my afternoon, right? A session that began with a specific plan, ended with letting distraction stand in the way of productivity.  

It all starts with the blank page, my biggest obstacle.  All that whiteness creates overwhelming anxiety for me. While some writers see a blank page as an opportunity for total creative freedom, I just freeze.  So how do you focus when the ideas aren’t flowing?

To answer this question I had to consider what actually works best for me, not what everyone says should work for me.  Realizing that trying to fit within “accepted norms” wasn’t helping, I set out to determine three things that hinder my productivity, and come up with a plan to create new habits to help my focus.  Here is what I discovered:

  • I am a perfectionist. That old “do it right or don’t do it at all” philosophy somehow became my mantra, and it is quite a burden. It is challenging for me to write a first draft of anything, whether it’s a book review, an article, or an outline for a story idea, because I have this notion that everything must flow from my mind to the paper in perfect form. 

I’m sure you can guess how this is working out for me. To get over the fear of the blank page I started jotting down my random thoughts into files on my computer and saving each thought in a separate document.  This helps me in two areas: there isn’t a blank page to contend with, and since there is already the start of a rough draft on the page, it releases me from perfectionism.  It’s not fool-proof, but it has been helping.

  • My inner critic is brutal. There is a little “mean girl” inside my head just messing with my creativity, and filling my head with doubts about my ability to write. This is tough. The key here is to set my work aside for a day or two when possible. This appeases my inner critic by accepting there may be some changes needed. I usually find that I return to the project with a clearer head and am more able to see which areas need improvement, without using any negative self-talk.
  • Setting goals is counterproductive for me. This doesn’t even make sense, but as soon as I set a goal, that voice inside my head starts saying things like, “You can’t do that,” or some other such nonsense. This is not just a writing phenomenon with me either, as I discovered one day while exercising with my husband.  We typically walk around the lake close to our home a couple of times each week.  It’s really beautiful and is a nice change of pace.  Anyway, I’ve been trying to build up my endurance by setting short jogging goals.  It never fails – as soon as I say, “I’m going to run to the next tree,” the task becomes impossible to accomplish. It seems the tree actually keeps moving farther away, my body starts protesting, and it’s harder to breathe. It’s really quite a sight. Yet, if I don’t set goals, how can I push myself?  I’ve found that by setting an “intention” to do the best I can rather than a hard-fast goal, I am more successful.

The reality is we are all a work-in-progress. Just being aware of the things that stall productivity can help.  If you find yourself in a situation that takes you away from your intentions, it’s time to take a break. Be gentle with yourself. Get a cup of tea or a snack. Go outside and do some yard work.  Or just stretch.  Whatever works for YOU.  By moving the focus away from the things that aren’t working and concentrating on developing realistic long-term habits, you are creating the best possible environment for your own success. For more information on how we help authors visit us at www.bookbybookpublicity.com.