Approaching a Reader in the Wild

Skyler Boudreau Editorial Contributor

Skyler Boudreau
Editorial Contributor

Contrary to what you may hear, readers are not an endangered species. Their habitats are growing by the day, as more bookstores and libraries are constructed and their beloved authors continue to produce an endless food supply, nurturing the sharp minds of this truly unique animal. With the creation of e-readers and audiobooks, access to stories (mandatory for species survival) is more widely available than ever before. As the species continues to thrive, your chances of running into a reader in the wild increase.

What happens if you do stumble across one? How should you react? Are they aggressive? Do they bite? For this example, we will use a common subspecies of reader; the Coffee Shop Reader.

The Coffee Shop Reader isn’t necessarily found in a coffee shop. You can find one in many different eating establishments, from your local diner to a burger joint. Not all Coffee Shop Readers look alike either. They are, however, still relatively easy to identify with the untrained eye. Just search for the book in their hands and the hyper focused look in their eyes as they become completely invested in the fates of their favorite characters.

As you observe the Coffee Shop Reader with a smile, you are struck with a burning question. What in the world are they reading? Something has captured their attention so completely that they are scarcely aware of their surroundings. You must know what this incredible book is.

You can’t see the cover from your angle. As you shift in your seat to get a better look, the Coffee Shop Reader places their open book down on the table and leans over it with obvious hunger, hunger that not even their half-finished plate of fries will satisfy. Damn it.

You’re left with one option. One you desperately wanted to avoid. You take a calming breath and prepare to interrupt the Coffee Shop Reader’s trance.

“Hey, uh, what are you reading?”

The Coffee Shop Reader doesn’t hear you the first time, and you are forced to repeat your question. They jump. A brief flash of annoyance crosses their face.

“What is it?” they ask.

“Um. I just wanted to know what you’re reading,” you say.

The Coffee Shop Reader’s face softens. They smile and your heart stops pounding.

“Oh, it’s American Gods. Neil Gaiman is my favorite author,” they say.

“Really?”

You pull a worn and tattered paperback novel from your purse. It took hours of internet shopping for you to find a purse you were satisfied with, one that could fit at least one paperback of your own inside along with your wallet, keys, and all the other miscellaneous items that end up at the bottom of purses.

The Coffee Shop Reader’s face lights up with obvious delight when they see the cover. The edition is older, but it’s unmistakably the same book. They take their backpack (probably full of other books) off the chair next to them and set it on the ground. You recognize an invitation when you see one and leap out of your own chair to join them.

Ah the wonders of nature.

Creating a Book Video that Complements the Book’s Marketing

Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

We have discussed many times about how book videos can benefit a book’s marketing campaign. But we have never talked about what that book video should look like! I don’t mean about what format (video or slide show…narrated or not…). I am talking about the script, the images, the soundtrack. How are we to decide how much to give out, what imagery do we want to create for the setting, the characters…etc., and how much of the story do we want to give up? Below are some tips on how to create a book video that will complement a title’s marketing campaign:

·         Become a reader – Yes, even if you wrote the book, read it. When we have on our author hat or editor hat we might miss details that might hook a reader’s eye. Use what you find to develop a script for the video. By doing this you will avoid just repeating the synopsis behind the book.

·         Play with the point of view of the story. Instead of portraying the story through the narration, have a character tell what the story is about.

·         Don’t decide how much of the story to give away. Begin writing the script, see where that takes you and then pick the story frame that makes sense and matches the time allowance.

·         Whether you chose to use pics or video. Remember, you do not want to substitute the book’s imagery with others that do not match descriptions. So be mindful of setting and characters when choosing pictures and videos. For example, if you are speaking of the White House, don’t chose a picture of the Capitol in Texas…If the main character is a red-head Irish girl, don’t choose just any model with red hair, instead find one that looks Irish!

·         Same thing with soundtrack. If the story is about a rock & roll musician, don’t use a piece of music that sounds country or British rock. Make sure it also matches the setting. If the setting is in the 70s New York, make sure the music takes you there!

·         Make sure color scheme is the same as your cover or illustrations.  

These suggestions might sound somewhat obvious to some, but when you listen to song after song, and look at picture after picture as you search for a match, it’s easy to pick the wrong one because the price was less or maybe we forgot which one was the one we liked before. By creating a script beforehand and jotting a bullet point description of what vision you have as a reader (not as the author), the book video most likely will complement the marketing by establishing an imprint on the audience which might help them decide to check out the book. For more information on how we can help authors visit www.bookbybookpublicity.com. For more information on our book video series click here.

 

Reading Block? Yes, You Read it Right…

Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

Authors are big talkers about writing block…but what about reading block? I had always assumed that all authors read as much as they write. But my biggest surprise during the 10 years I have been working with authors is how little reading many of them get done! Meeting authors that don’t read has always baffled me, but even I (book worm by birth) have gone through reading blocks at different times throughout my life. Contrary to the belief of many new Indie authors, reading is necessary in order to master writing. I expanded my genre repertoire in order to get better by improving on vocabulary, style and techniques, before I even considered writing for publication. In fact, reading is not only necessary to improve writing skills, it is necessary for research on the topic whether for fiction or non-fiction, for marketing, to establish fan following, and much more. Below are some examples on how to get reading while writing:

1)      Schedule reading time as work time. You need to consider reading as part as your job as a writer. Even if it is thirty minutes a day, you will be able to notice a big difference in your writing skills.

2)      Consider choosing reads within the genre you are currently writing. This will not only benefit your current work, but if you write reviews on the books you are reading, it can also help you to make contacts as well as gain fans for your upcoming book.

3)      Join a critique group. This is my favorite, as I not only read other authors’ work, I also get feedback on mine while I am working on it!

4)      Join a book club. The great thing about book clubs is that they more than likely will be interested in reading your book, too. However, what I really like about book clubs is that you are dealing with avid readers and can make note of what they want to see in a book.

It is no secret that the writer’s lifestyle is more isolating than glamorous. But the funny thing is that the more we isolate ourselves within our work, the more prone we are to blocking ourselves. Reading is the medicine for that. By using reading groups to get you out of your isolation at least once a month you will also harvest benefits for your platform. Happy reading!

For more information on how we can help Authors visit www.bookbybookpublicity.com. To find a great read, check out our reviews at www.readerviews.com.

 

Have Some Science with Your Fiction!

Skyler Boudreau Editorial Contributor/Reviewer

Skyler Boudreau
Editorial Contributor/Reviewer

Learning to read is undoubtedly an important piece of a student’s education. You’re confronted with the written word every day, whether it appears on road signs, labels food packages, or the instructions that came with the nifty new dresser you’re trying to build. Reading is one of those things that is never going to go away.

I don’t recall ever studying the benefits of reading fiction, specifically. There must be some, after all, beyond the obvious answer of “it’s fun!” It’s a topic I became very interested in recently and I decided to do a little research.

One of the most intriguing articles I found online is about a study conducted at Emory University a few years ago. According to the article, the study found that reading fiction strengthened a reader’s ability to put themselves in another person’s shoes. Any avid reader will tell you that seeing a conflict from various perspectives is a pivotal piece of a good book. But most people know it’s also a skill that will make going through everyday life much easier.

Reading for fun is just as important as reading for information. I love a good nonfiction book as much as the next person. I also like analyzing symbolism, metaphor, and all the other devices used in fiction. It’s like trying to assemble a giant puzzle. The study mentioned above demonstrates a more subtle benefit to the hobby.

According to a 2018 survey from the Pew Research Center, “[o]verall, Americans read an average (mean) of 12 books per year, while the typical (median) American has read four books in the past 12 months. Each of these figures is largely unchanged since 2011, when the Center first began conducting the surveys of Americans’ book reading habits.”

The survey goes on to discuss the steady consumption of eBooks and the growing popularity of audiobooks. The different mediums available nowadays make novels available for a wider array of potential consumers. I think it’s important to teach that audience why reading fiction for fun is just as important as reading for a class assignment and why they should read beyond what’s necessary.

There is plenty of other research on the science behind reading out there. This is just one small aspect of it. I encourage you to check out the sources I linked in this post and to do some further reading on your own.

My Ultimate "Beach Read"

Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

I’ve always had a problem with the ‘Beach Read’ expression, because I never really understood its meaning.  I assumed for the longest time that it was just a marketing stunt to sell books during the summer but was never satisfied with that explanation. So, I decided it was a good topic to investigate a little closer. Up to now, my idea of a summer reading list consisted of a list that included all the books that I have not been able to read for lack of time. In other words, my beach reads were pulled out from my ‘catching up’ or ‘to be read’ lists. Maybe that is why I never got the classification of ‘Beach Read’ as a subgenre.

However, I have discovered during my mini investigation that it is a legit thing! You see, during the summer we are surrounded with distractions. We have beaches, lakes, summer camps, outdoor adventures, yard and garden work…and yes, kids out of school with too much time and energy. Many of us take this time for traveling, others for catching up on things before the fall. So even though we like to think that we will have a lot of time to finally enjoy a few reads, the truth is that our brain will be all over the place while we are reading. Therefore, a beach read can be defined as one that doesn’t require a lot of concentration. Some consider romance and chick-lit beach reads because of their light characteristics. But I can’t limit myself to just few genres. So now that I understand a little better what a ‘beach read’ is, I came up with my ultimate beach read characteristics.

·         Simple language. Yes, I know we writers love to showcase our vocabulary, but if I am to read a book while watching my kids and puppies playing in the pool or the ocean, I want to to be able to read with one eye watching, so no big words!

·         Easy to follow plot. I am on vacation in the summer, relaxing and forgetting all my problems and challenges of my job and daily life. My brain has gone into hibernate mode, so I want to read a commonsense plot with no more than one twist.

·         No sad stories! I am happy during a vacation…do not want to spoil that.

·         Still want it interesting though. No dull characters and plots. I still want it to captivate me, so yes, it needs to be a good, well written book.

·         In my case, all fiction genres are welcome in my ultimate beach read list. However, I don’t consider nonfiction titles as beach reads (just my own personal preference).

So, what is your ultimate beach read?

For more information on how we help authors please visit www.bookbybookpublicity.com.

 

 

Trouble in Paradise...or Dying in Paradise?

Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

I can’t remember how many times I have been told to write about what you know. In fact, I can’t remember how many times I have advised the same thing to others either! What I forget to specify is that this advice not only applicable when writing nonfiction, but it is especially applicable when writing fiction! When writing fiction, sometimes we believe that it must be based on an area of expertise. For example, If I am a police officer, I should write a crime mystery, a lawyer should write a legal thriller, a military officer should write a war novel, etc. But that is not the only “knowing” an author can base their writing on.  Authors can also pull together awesome stories out of their own lives. This is so true that I am entertaining an idea taken from my recent trip to Maui.  Below is a step by step on how I am doing this:

·         Choose life episode. – I am choosing the ocean kayak adventure me and my husband went on during our recent Maui vacation…the one where we almost died along with four other couples, due to the guide’s negligence. (yeah, this really happened to me last week!)

·         Choose setting or settings – Current times, Austin, TX and Maui, HI

·         List main Characters, ME, my husband, and Heroes who saved us.

·         Develop main characteristics of main characters: Name, description, personalities, background, backstories…etc.

·         Create a story line or board.

·         Decide how to present the story…third person, first person?

·         Begin writing the first draft!

At this point, I still don’t know if it will be a short story or a novel. All I know is that I am making a fictionalized tale out of something that happened to me. That may mean that it will be a creation in my mind and the events will happen as they actually did. Or maybe the event will happen totally different. It could be a mix of reality with creativity. I might even omit the fact that it is based on true events. All those things, for me, will resolve once I sit down and write. Right now, I am wondering where I should start…. How about:

Susan gasped, as she surfaced from the almost tsunami size wave, desperately pulling down her choking lifejacket. For a moment she considered taking it off, but immediately remembers that she can’t swim. The smell of the ocean overwhelmed her, the taste of the ocean now in her respiratory track burned within her. She turned around looking for her husband, when she found herself under another wave. Surprisingly, she came out of it alive, although suffocating in salty water. She opened her eyes to see a wall of water rising in front of her again. She puts her fingers on the snap button of the lifejacket ready to cut it loose… ’God, thank you for letting me die in such a beautiful place…’

For the title, I am thinking Trouble in Paradise, or Dying in Paradise. I am also still debating whether to leave it as a short story or make it into a novel. What do you think I should do?

For more information on how we help Authors visit www.bookbybookpublicity.com

Finding the Right Fit: Hiring an Editor

Sheri Hoyte Managing Editor

Sheri Hoyte
Managing Editor

All authors need a second pair of eyes on their work and hiring an editor can be one of the most important parts of your book’s success. Finding a professional editor who shares your vision, maintains your voice, and will work within a reasonable timeline will make your journey to publication easier and more enjoyable.

A mistake some self-published authors make is to try to save money by doing the editing and proofreading themselves. Hiring a professional with experience in editing and proofreading is necessary before publishing a book. Without the help of a good editor, an author risks his book being filled with typos and grammatical errors as well as plot or content issues. In short, editing is not the place to try to save money. Shop around when looking for an editor.  Following are some tips for finding the right editor for your book:

·         Never hire an editor based on price alone. Some editors state a simple flat rate, such as: “I charge $2,000 to edit a book.” There needs to be a basis for that price, both to be fair to the author and to the editor. If the book turns out to be 20,000 words, the author may be overpaying. If the book turns out to be 200,000 words, the editor has probably shortchanged himself.

·         Never hire an editor without it being clear what he or she will do for you. Requesting an editing sample is the best way to determine if you will get what you pay for. The editing sample not only provides the author with an idea of the editor’s style, abilities, and vision for the book, but it allows the editor to calculate approximately how many hours it will take to edit the book based on the author’s writing abilities—grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, character development, and organization.

·         Determining the level of editing needed.  Editing levels vary from something as simple as proofreading, to light and heavy editing. Light editing might require some rewriting of a sentence here or there, along with proofreading for errors. Heavy editing may include rewriting passages, correcting major grammatical errors, making decisions about paragraph order, larger structural issues, and deleting unnecessary passages. Ask the editor what level of editing he feels you need; if you disagree after reviewing the justification for it, seek a second opinion. Make sure the type of editing required for the book and the cost to you are agreed upon before the work begins. You do not want the editor to edit only half of your book, and then ask you for more money.

·         Make sure the editor respects your style. The most important aspect of choosing the editor is not the cost or the timeframe to complete the work. It is how the book sounds when you read it after it has been edited. A good editor will make the book sound like your voice while correcting your grammar and helping you to develop or delete passages as necessary. You don’t want the editor to change your tone. After all, it is your book.

You’ve spent hours writing your book – you owe to yourself to publish the best book possible. One readers will enjoy, remember, and recommend to others. Finding a good editor is key to achieving that success. For more information on how we help authors, visit www.readerviews.com.

Benefits of Being a Book Reviewer

Sheri Hoyte Managing Editor

Sheri Hoyte
Managing Editor

I have always loved books. Reading them, holding them, smelling them, stacking and rearranging them – anything and everything bookish. This is why Reader Views is a dream-come-true for me. I could never have imagined that I would one day be able to get my hands on so many great books to read, let alone voicing my opinions of those books to authors and other book lovers like me! So, it’s no surprise that I get more than a little excited when I get an email from someone wanting to review for us. In my mind a book lover is someone who sees reading as a basic need, and regardless of their budget or time constraints, people like this are somehow always reading something.  You know who you are.  So, what’s stopping you - become a reviewer! Here are a few of the benefits:

·         Free Books! To a book lover, this is like getting free food on an all you can eat menu. The only catch is to write honest reviews about what you read.  HOW to do that is a topic for another day, but – did I mention FREE BOOKS?

·         Choosing the books you want to read. Becoming a reviewer does not means that you won’t be able to choose what you read. On the contrary, we want you to review books you are interested in – life is too short to do otherwise.  That said, you may choose to experiment in genres outside your norm, and for that, more power to you!  I discovered many genres in my many years of reviewing that I might not have even considered at one point in time.

·         Be the first to discover the next big name in books.  We receive many books to review before they hit the shelves.  I cannot tell you how many times I’ve finished a book completely in awe of what I just read. Some of the debut authors we review are amazing – and, you never know who’s going to be the next (insert your favorite author here).

·         Developing relationships. My favorite aspect of being a reviewer is the relationship that developed with authors and publishers. Whether the reviewer becomes a professional reviewer for one of the big companies or remains an independent reviewer or for their own blog; the experience is enriching, connecting with the literary world and publishing industry.

·         Reading improves your writing! We all know this already - if you’re a writer you MUST read! Stay current in your genre by studying the books of your fellow authors.  There’s nothing more inspiring than reading the words of others!

Reading and writing have always been a big part of my life, but it wasn’t until I became a reviewer that I truly threw myself into my purpose and passion.  How about you - won’t you join me?  Learn more about becoming a reviewer for Reader Views.