Expecting Freebies…Not a Good Way to Open Doors!

Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

Since I began working as an online publicist I've been inundated by authors asking me to publicize their book with our contact list, either by inviting them to an event, letting them know the book is now 99 cents on Kindle, or just announcing the availability of the book. As well, I've been inundated with cold-call press releases - some just announcing the book, some wanting a free review, and others wanting an interview.

Sometimes I just ignore these requests but most times, I reply to them with a link to our guidelines. It always amazes me how many authors expect free services from us to promote their books. I really don't understand this concept because these same authors expect to be paid for their books, and certainly, if they are employees or business owners, want to be paid for their time. Yet, it seems that the concept of others wanting to be paid for their work/time is foreign. Not only that, but also these authors are asking us to read their books without even taking the time to read our submission guidelines for complementary reviews.

But, it's not only authors that don't honor the two-way street. I receive at least six press releases from publicists per day asking for reviews and interviews for the authors they represent. They play the pay-for-play game with the authors and charge for their time and efforts, yet these same publicists expect others to offer their services to them for free. This just doesn't seem right to me. How can an honest human being expect others to provide everything free to them, yet charge for their product (book), time, and effort? Am I wrong in thinking that I, and my staff, should not be paid for the time/work we do? Granted, we do this because we love books and Indie authors. We keep our prices as low as we can because of our passion for Indie books, as we want to promote diversity when it comes to reading options for the audiences out there. Sometimes we even offer free features and many times give advice at no cost to our customers, but to expect freebies from the online promoters’ community is not a good way to connect and keep contacts that can open doors for the author. Below are basic etiquette points to consider when looking for online promoters:

·         Remember that the people you are contacting also have bills to pay in order to keep doing what they are doing! That is why they do offer some freebies, but also offer paid services.

·         Remember that the people you are contacting receive hundreds of requests a month, so read and follow their guidelines if you truly wish them to contact you back, or consider your submission.

·         Remember that the people you are contacting can open many doors but also close them. So spend some time learning about them on their page before reaching out. Showing that you picked them because of what they are about will make a difference when you need them again for your new titles.

Promoting books these days is tricky. By showing interest, respect, and professionalism, contacts can be maintained for the long run, and not just as a onetime opportunity. For more information on how Reader Views helps authors visit www.readerviews.com.

Won an Award! Now What?

Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

Previously I have spoken about how winning an award can open many doors for publicity through the media. This is why investing in awards entry fees makes sense, but make no mistake; just winning an award isn’t enough.  The award will give your work credibility, giving you the opportunity to position yourself as an expert, but it is up to you to propagate the news of your winnings! Here are some tips on how to make the most of winning any awards program, no matter which place you won.

1)      Once the announcement is received that your book won top placement in a literary awards, you must get to work revising all of your ads and covers for the winning book.  The first step is getting a digital copy of the seal from the awards program to be able to edit not only all of your online ads, but also the cover of your book through your publisher.

2)      The second step is to create enough stickers of the seal to place them on your stock of books, and ensure that the local stores carrying your book have enough for their stock.  It is important to make sure readers who stumble upon your book see that it won an award.

3)      Another thing to update immediately is your bio on your website, sell sheet and other marketing kits. You are now an award winning author so this is no time to be humble, make sure that fact of yourself is clear and noticeable everywhere!

4)      Winning an award is an excellent opportunity to pitch to the media, so a press release about it is a great way to start.

5)      Once your website, book cover, and media kits have been updated, and the press release has been distributed, you can begin to market yourself as an expert. So sharpen your article- writing pencil and begin writing.

6)      Write a couple of short articles about topics of your expertise that you can offer as fillers to bloggers, and online magazines related to that topic, and submit those articles along with your bio and book sell sheet.

7)      Write and submit longer articles to send to local or national newspapers and magazines about current events related to your topic of expertise, again be sure to include your bio and book sell sheet.

8)      Query online and local radio stations mentioning your recent award.

9)      Finally, create a speaking/book signing event locally to celebrate your award, and pitch the event to your local media. Make it grand by announcing a book giveaway for 5 or 10 attendants, etc.  Be creative with the hook to get the most attendance and media interest.

I could go on and on, the sky is the limit when it comes to publicizing ideas. The main thing is that winning an award gives you a great tool…make sure you maximize its use! We can help with this - check out our services and look out for the weekly offers in our newsletter!

How to Make Writing and Publishing Your Career

Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

Most authors write because they enjoy it, but promoting their books, seriously trying to sell their books, 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 and re-write…then 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. You need to hire a professional. Better to spend the money and have a quality product than to have a book that people will put down in disgust because of the typos. If you’re serious about being an author, you will invest the money to have the book edited.
  • I’ll be happy if I just break even. If Donald Trump thought that way about his career goals, he would have never been able to get to the White House! If you are serious about being an author, think about making a profit. Even if you break even on your printing and production costs, have you really broken even on the hundreds or thousands of hours you spent writing, not to mention marketing your book? Make sure you do the numbers on how much your book will cost to produce, what your profit margin is, what percentage bookstores and other retailers will want, and develop a plan to make a return on your investment.
  • 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.” 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 for them! And a chance for you to meet people who might never go to a bookstore or look for your book, but now find you unexpectedly, to your benefit and theirs. This is how I now have people come to me in restaurants and such, to tell me they have seen me signing books, and bought it online.
  • 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.

It is Important to Read Submission Guidelines!

Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

Most of us juggle so many things at the same time; we are seldom able to really focus on one specific thing and just windstorm through our tasks day after day, paying attention only to whether we will make our deadline or reach our goal. Granted, sometimes speed is necessary, but without focusing our attention on certain things, our efforts will not make the trouble worth it. This is the case with guidelines! In order to promote books, titles are submitted to many contests, bloggers, magazines, podcasters, etc. These people, who will get hundreds of submissions, are also most likely shorthanded, thus the need for guidelines. Sending a book out does not mean acceptance. In reality only the submissions sent following the directions stated by the contest, website, podcaster, etc., will be considered. The rejected ones will most likely be donated to a charity without being even looked at. Here are some tips when reading submission guidelines to better the chances of a book being accepted.

·         Read Carefully. Breezing through submission guidelines is not wise. Make sure you understand not only what is required, but also how it should be received. Emailing and calling to get information will often only get you an email with a link to the guidelines from an aggravated editor, who has already 100 submissions to look at and not a lot of time in which to do it. So, read carefully (more than once) and if you have questions make sure you mention you read the guidelines, but have a question. This will let the editor know that you respect them and are appreciative of their time.

·         Make Notes. Every place authors send their books for consideration has different requirements and guidelines. Some will only consider titles six to three months before publication; others only want titles published in the current year, etc. Assuming the only thing you need to know is the submission deadline is a mistake that will cost you in effort, time, money, and gain you nothing as your submission goes straight to the disqualification pile. By the way, most submissions (if not all) to contests that require a submission fee will not give refunds, so make sure you send right quantity of copies for judges, etc.

·         Keep Track of your Submissions. I can’t stress this one enough. To expect the contest provider (or any other place you send your book) to keep track for you which title or titles you have or have not submitted, is not only unprofessional it’s unrealistic. Many don’t have the manpower or the time to even email all submitters with a receipt of their submission, but will probably have instructions in their guidelines of how to keep track through their website, or at least how they can be contacted. So create a spreadsheet or any other tool to log where you sent your title, and keep track of all communications about your submission.

It is important to remember that by sending their book out for consideration, whether it is a contest with a submission fee, or a review request to the media, the author is soliciting a service from those outlets, not the other way around. It is different when the author is hiring someone to promote the book. So forget the diva attitude, and be nice by following guidelines and being polite. In the long run it will be beneficial to have the doors open for the title if a positive relationship has been established. For more information on how we can help authors visit www.readerviews.com.

The Harsh Truth of Being a Writer These Days…

Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

As I sat to write this editorial, my mind went blank. I thought of the title when talking about all the struggles and hurdles I went, and still go through myself when it comes to understanding my role as an Indie writer. The harsh truth is that being a writer these days involves many skills, along with writing, whether you are an Indie author or not. Unfortunately, most authors (me included) find out the hard way as they find themselves lost in the publishing twilight zone with their first book. Below are some skills all writers should work on along with writing to avoid going blank in the middle of the writing and publishing process.

·         Navigating the Internet to Search for an Audience. Many believe that “if they write, the audience will come,” but the truth is far from that. Even agents and traditional publishers expect writers to have an audience of followers before they will consider a title. So, learning to how to navigate the internet to build a platform is, in my opinion, the most important skill all writers should develop even before writing a book.

·         Public Speaking. Let’s face it…many of us became authors because we communicate better in writing. In fact, when it comes to communicating through speech, many of us go blank as we freeze with stage fright. But as an author, we must speak to the audience if we want to sell our books. So writers should be taking public speaking classes, or signing up with their local Toastmasters and develop their public speaking skills while writing.

·         Marketing and Promoting. Yes, authors are the ones who must sell their books. Even if published through a traditional publisher, the author sells the title. Publishers will distribute, and maybe do some advertising, but the burden to sell falls on the author’s shoulders. This is why it is so important that writers learn about marketing and promotion to help with developing strategic angles to promote their titles.

It is useless, in my opinion, to keep dreaming about Hemingway’s “writer’s lifestyle” because it does not exist anymore. The harsh truth of being a writer these days is that it is a lot of work, and most of it is not even writing! For more information on how we help authors visit www.readerviews.com.

And the Winners Are…

It’s that time of the year again! Can’t believe how fast time went by! Maybe it is because of all the awesome books we were reading…Winners, congratulations! It was a hard decision in many cases; in all honesty, the competition was fierce. I was humbled and amazed with the quality of books, as I saw the stigma of the Independent Authors vanish almost in its entirety this year. I am truly honored to have read and judged your work…to me all participants are winners. Yet only few could be selected and thus we placed the finalists…the winners are here, and their books are available. So readers click here to check out the winners!

Award Winners, this is the time to take your book for a ride online! Make sure you voice out your winnings everywhere. You can order stickers by clicking here, and check out our promotional services - click here to check out all the options! Thank you to all of you and all participants for honoring us with your books!

2016-17 Literary Awards Announcement – And the Finalists Are…

It has been by far the largest awards contest in our history. But what it is truly awesome was the great quality of the majority of the participating books. Unfortunately, judges must select only a few, and this year it’s proving to be a very difficult task! So we wish all the finalists good luck, knowing that in our hearts and minds you all are winners, as this year’s competition was truly fierce. For those participants that didn’t make the finals, know that most of you didn’t make it by a very small margin. So be proud of your book (as we are of you!), and keep reading our newsletter for tips on how to get your book out there. Check out the list of finalists here.

Finalists, as you wait for the winners' announcement, there are few things you can do to get ready and make the most of your winning status!

·         Those of you that have printed books, check out the link included in your finalist notice to order stickers for your books covers, as these bulk order prices only happen once a year. Please note that there is a deadline for ordering and orders won’t go in until then, so plan accordingly.

·         Once the finalists’ placements are announced, we will be producing certificates, to be emailed along with a digital copy of the sticker seal. This is the time to begin to contact your publishers to find out what you need to do to add the seal to your digital front covers everywhere online.

·         Plan your strategy for spreading the news about your accomplishment! Announcements to the media can be made through press releases and their launch can be coordinated with a social media campaign. Check out our PR Writing, PR Distribution, and Social Media Blitz services!

·         Literary Awards give credibility to your title, which means the author did things right! Make the most of your writing expert status and give book interviews, publish articles, and share your knowledge with upcoming new authors. Giving back is the best way to promote your work!

Being an award winner is what all authors shoot for, but for those who did not make the finalists list know this; competition is fierce, and this year was really close. Be proud of being a participant as you did something the majority of people do not. You not only wrote and published a book; you also had three lines of judges examine it! Use quotes of your review and share the knowledge you acquired during the process to make the most of the experience and keep writing! For more on how we can help authors please visit www.readerviews.com.

Keeping Your Writer Sensitivity In Check Can Help You Promote Your Book!

We all know that writers are somewhat eccentric and lack many times, a social filter–me included! This is no surprise if we take into account the amount of time writers spend inside their heads and in front of their computers; isolated within their own little worlds. This ability of living in their heads can be very useful when focusing on creating and writing their stories, but it can be a heavy rock weighing down the promotion of their book as well! In today’s competitive market, balancing the ‘hermit’ and the ‘eccentric’ side with the ‘promoter’ and ‘people friendly’ side within is not only wise, it is crucial for a successful campaign. Below are some tips on developing the ‘Promoting Author Self.’

·         Work on promoting while writing. Scheduling social time during the writing phase will not only help with creating a platform for the upcoming book, it can also serve as practice with social skills so that once the book is out, the author feels comfortable pitching while socializing.

·         Diversify your social life. Most of us tend to move within one circle of friends or likeminded people, yet expect a broad audience to read our books! But for this to be fair, the author must put his or her interest on the audience as well. By being open to getting to know a diverse audience, the author opens up the door for his work as well.

·         Balance the writing time and community time. Scheduling and structuring the days to be able to accomplish writing and promoting does not mean to create a strict schedule. On the contrary it means to juggle both to make the most of time. If it is writing time but writer’s block pays the writer a visit, why not go out instead and use the time to connect with people! A calendar is there as a guide, but it must be flexible in order to work.

In the end, being a writer should mean a lifestyle where a person exteriorizes the world within instead of a person isolating themselves for months, only to torture themselves on exhausting and awkward promotional campaigns. For more information on how we can help authors, please visit www.readerviews.com.