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.

Can Authors Write a Bestseller without Reading?

 Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

This editorial is about something that has been bothering me for awhile. In my work as a publicist the one big disappointment I’ve had since I began working helping other Indie authors is the fact that many have admitted to me that they do not read as much as they should. Worse yet, some have even said they do not like to read even though they enjoy writing! What? I find it mind blowing that someone can publish a book, and ask an audience to read it, when they do not even like to read! But let’s forget that for a moment…There is a reason why the question most asked to authors on interviews is, “What are some of your favorite books?” or “Which authors have influenced your writing the most?” It doesn’t matter how many creative courses a writer goes through…the information in them won’t go through the writer unless they read other authors’ works. Reading is actually part of the writing process as it is a writing development tool in itself. Below are some points on how reading helps writers become bestsellers:

·         Style. An author’s writing style is something that can’t be learned in a class. It is something that the writer discovers through the writing experience and especially through reading. It takes a lot of reading other writers’ work to discover your own voice and style.

·         Effective plots and characters development. Theory and practice obtained in classes through writing exercises are not enough for a writer to be able to produce a bestseller. Writers need to read different books (especially ones that have made the Best Seller list), to learn and master different techniques that worked for other authors, in order to develop their own technique.

·         Writing from the heart. To open yourself in your writing for an audience to read sounds much easier than what it is. Yet, if the author doesn’t pour their heart into their writing (whether fiction or nonfiction), their work will not feel genuine, and audiences will not engage.

·         How to determine what makes a book good or bad. How can someone understand what makes a good and a bad book without reading other good and bad books? Furthermore, how can you write a good book without knowing what makes a book good?

·         Finally, how to write for readers. Most writers write for themselves or a small audience, which is very different than writing for a huge audience of different readers. Reading gives writers insight on how to engage the audience. It can help writers develop techniques like showing instead of telling among others, and by being a reader themselves writers can relate to what the audience might be looking for.

Generally speaking, in my opinion, authors who don’t read have a big disadvantage, one that will most likely prevent them from becoming best- selling authors. For more information on how we help authors visit us at www.bookbybookpublicity.com.

 

Should You Enter Your Book in a Giveaway?

 Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

As Indie authors it is important to make the most of your marketing dollars - the primary goal being to increase sales, followed by the need to develop/boost your fan base.  

One of the easiest ways to promote your book is to enter it in book giveaway contests.Here are some of the benefits of participating in a book giveaway:

·         A no-cost or low-cost way to introduce your book

·         Stimulates awareness and interest in your book and brand

·         Generates leads for potential readers

·         Cultivates new relationships and widens your fan base

·         Generates book reviews

·         Leads to future sales and word-of-mouth marketing

We encourage authors to enter their titles in our monthly book giveaway, which we offer at no cost. It is an excellent way to keep the buzz around your title going on the social media networks. We also tweet, post and pin the contest information on all of our social media pages! This month the authors participating in our contest are giving away over 40 copies total!

Additionally, you can increase the effectiveness of your book giveaway by promoting it on your own website. Tweet about the event, post it to Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. to generate further interest. Fans and followers are more likely to write book reviews. They also lead to future sales and will promote your work.

Be sure to personalize the experience after the contest. When sending out your book to the winner(s), slip a note inside the cover congratulating them on winning a copy of your book. Let them know you hope they enjoy reading it and that you would be grateful for a review, if so inspired. 

For more information on our book giveaway contest and other ways Reader Views can help promote indie authors, visit our Services for Authors or email us at admin@readerviews.com.

Getting Personal with Book Reviews

 Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

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 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 and blogger reviews should begin 6 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 to 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 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 most 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 you consider 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 promote those quotes 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 open doors to receive good reviews for my improved revised edition.  For information on how Reader Views can help authors, visit us at www.readerviews.com.

Next Gen Authors - Encouraging Kids to Write!

 Sheri Hoyte Managing Editor

Sheri Hoyte
Managing Editor

If I had to choose one thing I enjoy most about working at Reader Views, it would be reading the book reviews written by our Reader Views Kids reviewers. Kids see and absorb everything, noticing details using all of the five senses.  Things that, as adults we have learned to tune out or take for granted.  Seriously, who does ‘show versus tell’ better than kids? 

Not only that, but there is a fresh, honest tone in the writing – if there is something in a book that doesn’t appeal to a young reader, it will be voiced! I get a bit reflective when I read things written by children, first looking back to my own childhood and my love for books, and later, passing it down to my son.   When he was younger he loved to write poems and short stories and we even submitted some of his work, at least a couple articles of which were published. He’s now a high school English teacher, sharing his own wisdom and passion for words with the youth of today. Perhaps there’s even a Great American Novel in his future!

Today, with publishing being more accessible than ever, there are many kids developing their craft, becoming illustrators, authors and co-authors with their parents!  Does your child have curiosity for everything around them?  Does she have a love for books? Is he a natural story teller? Here are some things you can do right now to support and encourage that passion:

·         Read to your children every day! It not only cultivates a good habit, it enriches and stimulates young minds. While reading, be sure to let them ask questions, and also ask them what they think – about the story, characters, pictures, etc. This helps develop the ability to express opinions and with self-discovery as they learn more about their likes and dislikes.

·         Find book clubs, reading circles and publications, either online or locally, where kids can network to find other kids involved in reading and writing. The local library is a great place to start!

·         Look for publishing opportunities. There are plenty of companies that publish kid’s works, such as Highlights, StoneSoup and Cricket Magazine.  Be sure to also check out writing contests, online sources and even the school newsletter.

Writing and reading go hand in hand so keep your children reading, encourage their creativity, and submit some of their work.  You can also check out www.readerviewskids.com and consider applying to have your child become a reviewer for kid’s books.  We love kid’s reviews!

Are you Building a Relationship with Book Sellers?

 Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

With all the buzz about going green and selling on Amazon many authors are not putting too much thought on selling their books in their local bookstores, often just making the effort of listing their books online and focusing on online promotion. But good relationships, especially with your local and independent bookstores, can result in significant sales and publicity.

Most people who love books still visit bookstores, so not considering Indie and big books stores is a mistake in my opinion. Authors should try to work with bookstores, although Indie authors might find Indie bookstores easier to work with; in my experience big stores are also becoming more receptive to Indies and are trying to accommodate their local authors by organizing local author book events or accepting books on consignment. I also have found that if the Indie authors offer the chain store’s same deal offered to them by their distributor, they might even order books for their event. Independent bookstores, by comparison, can be a delight to work with. People who work in independent bookstores love books. They are big readers, and if you develop a relationship with those people, they are going to remember you and your book and recommend it to people. If you build a relationship with an independent bookstore’s employees, they will reciprocate by acting as intermediary in building a relationship between you and your reader.

Here are just a few of the benefits authors I know have received from working with independent bookstores:

  • Bookstores have advertised programed events for local Indie authors where they can participate and sell their books.
  • Local independent bookstore employees know you so they are more likely to host a book signing for you. And because you live nearby, if they have a cancellation by another author for an event, they might even call you up to come and participate.
  • When customers ask for suggestions, employees at the bookstore you have a relationship with are more likely to have read your book and recommend it to customers.
  • Independent bookstores may work on consignment or may buy directly from the author. Either way, once the books are sold, authors get their payment quicker.
  • Independent and local bookstores will often sponsor events with the local library, as well as participate in local festivals. As a result, authors associated with independent bookstores can build their connections to key organizers of community events
  • Because of their close association with libraries, independent bookstore owners and managers have been known to sit on library boards and participate in greater statewide book events, such as deciding on a “community read” or even which books the state library will promote as notable. A relationship with the bookstore can help your book to get noticed for these reading programs.
  • Authors who have relationships with independent bookstores are more likely to have their books receive better product placement in those stores.

Finally, participating in the community as a local author can help Indies achieve some kind of celebrity status in their community which might be noticed by the local media. For more information on how we can help authors visit us at www.bookbybookpublicity.com.

Book Contests to Check Out

 Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

There are currently many Literary Awards for Indie Publishers as well as Traditional ones. Some of them are distinguished enough that an award will increase book sales. Others are not followed as much and so winners receive little attention. So how does the Indie Author choose?

  • Entry Fees:  Most of the Literary Awards will have an entry fee, so the selection needs to consider the submitter’s budget. If a contest with no entry fee is found, then by all means enter your title!
     
  • National:  National contests are stiff competition, but the greater the competition, the more important the award. If your budget permits, give the contest a try.
     
  • Regional:  Local contests provide greater chances of winning and some have funding so entry fees are minimal. Check out your local libraries for information.
     
  • Independent:  For self-published authors, these contests are the best place to start getting notoriety for your book. Good choices include the IPPY (Independent Publishers Association Awards) and our own, Reader Views Literary Awards.

Once you win or become a finalist, send out press releases. Many contests will sell you award stickers for your books. Some will also provide a review that can be also useful to quote when promoting the title, even if it didn’t place as a finalist or winner. Reader Views provides all participants with a review. Winners get a digital certificate and seal on top of the review, and the convenience of ordering stickers for their books on stock.

Reader Views receives thousands of books each year for review from authors who have worked hard to achieve their dream of being published. Our Annual Literary Awards recognizes the very best of these up-and-coming authors, all talented writers who we know have very promising writing careers ahead of them. Recognition always brings attention from audiences. So although it is impossible to fully measure how well book awards sell books, contests do create a buzz, making them another way to get attention for your books.

Here are few book contests to check out:

For more information on how we can help to get your book out there visit www.bookbybookpublicity.com or www.readerviews.com.