Spoilers – How to Avoid Them?

Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

On many occasions, I find some reviews so thorough that they actually spoil the story. This is one of the points we try to catch when we edit our reviews, before posting them. But I never imagined I would find an author spoiling their own book on the back cover until it came to my attention this past week. I actually found a couple thrillers that had spoilers on the back cover synopsis. One of them went even further giving the chapter away with the title chapter. This prompted me to write about this topic.

When producing a book it is important to make sure the back covers gives enough information about the story in order to draw a reader in and close the purchase. The chapters name should also have a hook, as many readers will skim through the chapters before deciding to purchase a book. But how much information is too much information?

There is such a fine line as to how much is too little or too much information, that many times we authors sin one way or the other when coming up with the back cover synopsis. Depending on the genre, missing that line can be disastrous. So, here are some tips on how to draw the line.

·         First thing to do is make a list of story points that would spoil the story if revealed ahead of time.

·         Then write the synopsis of your book.

·         Compare your list against the synopsis and take out any spoilers you find from it.

·         When choosing names for your chapters, keep in mind that although the title should paint a picture of what it is about, it should never spell out what happens. A short sentence or a couple of words describing chapter should be enough.

·         Have others read the chapter names and synopsis and get their feedback. Ask them what they think the book/chapter is about. If they reveal the main event, then you gave out too much.

If there is something more difficult than writing a book, it is marketing it. Do not overestimate yourself by thinking you know best. Find counsel with marketers when it comes to the back cover of your book as well as the front cover. It is the first thing readers will see, and some advice on how to hook the reader from marketers can make all the difference on sales. For more information on how we help authors visit www.readerviews.com.

Book Reviews and Book Criticism

Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

Many people are not quite sure what the difference is between a book review and book or literary criticism.

The primary purpose of a book review is to present enough information about the book to help a person decide whether to read it. A review will state what the book is about, without giving away the plot or the conclusions of an argument in a non-fiction book. Think of a book review as similar to a movie preview.

Literary criticism, on the other hand, is written for people who have already read the book and are interested in exploring the meaning behind the work. The literary critic is sharing his or her thoughts, opinions, and interpretation of the work, based on a close reading of the text, with the reader, as if the two are having a conversation about the work. Criticism is like the afterword to a book; it may give away the plot because it assumes the reader has already read the book—that’s why, when reading the classics, it’s best to read the introduction last, after you form your own opinion of the work.

Book reviews and book criticism are both important, but they serve two significantly different purposes, as preview and afterword. Although many book critics also write book reviews, it is important to know the difference to be able to use for promotion efficiently. A book critique is a literary analysis that will require precise information about literature and the craft of writing. As such, the person providing the critique should have the qualifications necessary to do so. A book review, does not need a literary expert…it needs an avid reader with experience on the genre of the book in order to have professional credibility. Below are some tips on how or when to use each:

  • Book Reviews can be used for any type of book. It provides a preview and an opinion about a title to anyone interested on its topic. As such, they are the most effective tool a writer has to promote their book.
     
  • Literary Critiques are not really necessary for promotion for all types of books. Their purpose to an author is primarily one of providing literary recognition for the author’s skills shown in a book as a literary contributor. So unless the author is an English BA, Journalist, or has a BA in Communication and is looking to enrich their portfolio or become the next Shakespeare, it is truly not necessary for promoting purposes, as the value of any regular Fiction and Non-Fiction is not based on its literary contribution to the art.

In the end, it always comes down to what the writer is looking for when they write –you can be the next Shakespeare, selling only a few books of your recognized literary piece and be famous for it without making best seller; and you can be a best-selling author without being a recognized literary genius! For more information on how we help authors visit www.readerviews.com.

Titles Sell Books

Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

Most of us have heard the saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” but the cover isn’t just about its design….it is also about the book’s title. In essence, the title is a one-sentence advertising of the book, a one-sentence synopsis, a domain name, a sound bite…in short, it is what the reader will remember, and as such, it can make or break sales.

 No matter how good a book is, if the title does not appeal to readers, they are never going to read it. Picking a good book title is crucial and should never be done without a great deal of thought. Here are a some tips for creating a book title that will capture reader’s interest, clearly convey the book’s subject matter, and be memorable.

Short and Sweet

Your title should be short and to the point so that it immediately conveys your book’s subject. The longer the title, the more likely readers will forget it or substitute wrong words into it. But, that is not the only advantage of a short title. A short title will also make the book easier to market through ads, as it requires less space. It is also easier to use as a sound bite, and as a website domain.

Resonance and Rhythm

You want your title to stick in the reader’s mind, so it is not only easy to say, but a pleasure to repeat. Some of the best titles have the ability to resonate giving the title emphasis and flow. Repetition of a word also works well to give the title a rhythmic sound.

Avoid Words with Double Meanings or Pronunciations

Ask yourself if your title has any words that could be misread before you settle on them. The reader should be able to get the right meaning of the title to identify what the book is about immediately. Many negative reviews come from a mislead reader.

Be Original

Readers need to find your book, in order to buy it. If your title is similar to other titles, your audience might end up buying another author’s book. Always do an online search for your title to see whether anything comes up. If you find other books with your title, pick a different title.

Reserve Your Title’s Domain Name

When making sure your title is original, also check to see whether your book title is being used for a website. If someone has a website with your book title’s name, then what is your website going to be? You can use your own name for the website, but that won’t work if you have a fairly common name since those websites could already be taken as well. Pick a title without a website already taken so you can purchase that domain name. Don’t wait or you may lose it.

Subtitles

If you feel your title needs more explanation, a subtitle is a good idea, provided it’s not there just for show. A subtitle can reinforce a catchy, but vague title. For non-fiction books, a subtitle can provide a lot of clarity about the book’s topic.

Never be afraid to ask people for their opinions. Come up with multiple titles, and then ask people which one they like best. In the process, the people you ask for help might even come up with better titles for you. Brainstorming your title can be extremely productive, fun…and enlightening as you get feedback from future readers. So be creative with it and maybe even use it as pre-publication promotion by starting a contest for the title of your book!

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

Do Your Readers Know Who You Are?

Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

Ask yourself and some friends/potential readers:

  • Does the page tell my potential readers who I am?
  • Can the reader resonate with me?
  • What is on the page that makes me human?
  • Is there something on the page that will make my potential reader say, “Yes, I want to read this author’s book?” and “This author sounds like someone I can relate to?”

If the answer to all those questions is “Yes” then you’ve created a successful author page. Just remember to update it (information, photo, contact information) as needed so it stays effective. If your answer to the above questions is no, then get to work to fix it! Following are some tips on selling your book through your bio.

  • Check the “About Us” pages of other websites. Make a note of what pulls your interest and what turns you off. Most likely, you are not the only one feeling that way so use your own feedback to re-evaluate your own page.
     
  • Put some thought into what is it about you that could resonate with your audience. Then make sure you include that in your bio. Yes, accomplishments give authors credibility, but being genuine is what will create a connection with readers.
     
  • Be selective with what headshot you will use. It is important for the pics to be clear, so high resolution is imperative. However, it is also important that it gives away a little about your personality. So a studio passport style picture won’t do! Be creative, take it in your favorite outfit, on your desk, or at your favorite reading corner…then mention those things in your bio.
     
  • Make sure that your “About” page reflects your brand and mission. This can be done by using the same design all throughout your website, having pics that show you at work, posting quotes, or a video can also make it a bit more interesting.

Although being credible and professional are important factors to convey, without a welcoming tone that just might not do the trick. On the contrary, without a friendly tone your “About” page could just push readers away! For more information on how we help authors visit us at www.readerviews.com.

 

 

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.