Avoiding Mixed Messages When Marketing Your Book

Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

Mixed messages about the book in the marketing pieces can sabotage sales by confusing readers and clouding what the book is about. This is why it is imperative that everything used to market a book sends a clear message of what the book is about. Following are a few examples of marketing mistakes and ways an author can make their book’s message clear.

·         Biggest Marketing Tool - The front cover of your book is your biggest marketing tool. No one is going to read the back cover, or anything else you write about your book, unless the front cover hooks them. With one image, the cover has to reflect what the book is about, and show that the book’s subject is interesting. Mixed messages from book covers can badly hurt book sales. For example, if your book is about overcoming fear, a photo of something scary is not enough, as the book is not about the fear, but of conquering it.

·         Second Biggest Marketing Tool is the Back Cover - Once the front cover hooks the reader, the back cover has to convince the person to buy the book. It must also deliver the book’s message in a short sentence or better yet a sound bite. Author biographies and book endorsements can help, but the back cover should not be limited to these because they don’t tell you what the book is about. An effective back cover will have at least one paragraph making the book’s subject clear, or in the case of fiction, what the book’s plot is, to avoid any confusion. A reader who buys a book thinking it is about something different will backfire into a bad review.

·         Author Photo - The author needs to tell a professional photographer what his book is about and that he wants that message conveyed in his photo in order to create the right image to complement the marketing story. That doesn’t mean you need a gimmick in your photo. It may just be a straight headshot, but the pose should have dignity if you want your book taken seriously, or you should be smiling or even laughing if your book is humorous. Why would a writer of murder mysteries want a cat in her photo? The book isn’t about cats, so this type of picture could convey mixed messages.

·         Websites - People do not read websites. They browse them, meaning authors only have a few seconds to let people know what their site is about and why they should look at it in more detail. If your message isn’t clear from the start, visitors won’t stay. The book cover or covers with a clear message about what they are about should be on the home page with visible links to the other pages and a clear call to action to the reader on how to purchase that message in the form of your book.

·         Other Marketing Pieces - Anything that the author will give away as marketing to potential readers needs to have a clear message about their book. If you’re a dog groomer, and also an author, a business card with dog grooming information on it is not going to work. You need separate business cards to promote you as a romance author. Whenever possible, put the book cover on the business card to present a clear message that you are an author and this is your book.

·         Promoting Your Book in Public - When promoting a book in public, mixed messages must also be avoided. A suit probably won’t sell a cookbook, but a chef’s outfit might help. When giving interviews present a clear message by steering the interviewer in the right direction and having a few sound bites ready. The book’s message needs to be determined early on (early on means before writing the book or at least when writing it), to be able to figure out ways to convey that message with images, in a few words, in a sentence, and in a paragraph. Make sure the message is clear each time you present it to people, whether online, on paper, or in person. For more information on how we help authors visit www.readerviews.com

Categorizing Your Title in Literary Award Contests

Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

Summer marks the midway point in our annual literary awards contest, and it is around this time each year I like to share some wisdom with our authors  as it relates to entering contests.

•        Each literary awards contest has different guidelines, categories, and submission requirements. So when submitting to various contests, it is always a good idea to keep a log that not only keeps track of when you sent each one but also shows the guidelines, fees, categories you submitted to…etc. Doing this will help to keep track of the current submissions, and it will also create a chart with information about each contest, which will be helpful for upcoming books.

·         Authors are right to assume that the genre of their title should be the main category to enter in the contest. Does this mean that it must be the only one? The answer is no. A literary novel, for example, could also be historical fiction, mystery, thriller, or all of the above! Consider submitting the title in a few categories, or even submitting the title in different categories for different contests to improve the chances of scoring an award!

·         Choosing which category to enter in an awards contest is important mostly because the category selected will determine the judge who will read the book. If the author chooses to enter their Christian fiction title in the general fiction category, it will be reviewed by a judge who prefers to read general fiction. A better fit for the title would be the judge that reads Christian fiction titles. It is essential to choose the category that is the best fit for the book’s topic.

·         As some categories are more generalized, they will have more submissions than the more specific ones. In other words, the fewer the number of titles in a category, and the number of categories entered improves the chances of being picked as finalist or winner.

In the end, all authors want their title to win. When shooting to win, competitors need to make sure they give their submission the best possible chance. In my opinion, the key is to categorize the book correctly and even submitting in different categories applicable to the book’s topic. Keeping all this straight and organized will also help when strategizing submissions and make the process easier for your next title. For more information about the Reader Views Literary Awards, click here

Showing vs. Telling

Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

When I lived in Venezuela and later in Italy, I taught English as a second language, first to High School students, then later to professionals. But I didn't continue teaching when I moved to the US as the opportunities presented to me were in a different direction. 

A few months ago a friend asked me to teach creative writing and composition to her teen-age daughter. It wasn't until our first class was over that I realized how much I enjoyed teaching. I currently have two students, and might take a third one time permitting, as I think I am actually learning more about writing as I teach than I have in any workshop or published work I have ever done. It just shows you how sharing and giving can turn into receiving. In my last class I was practicing writing fiction in the third person point of view, and using dialog as a way to show and not tell to move the story forward.

What I learned:

·         When writing, we all think we are showing the reader, however when we are reading, we realize we were actually telling.  I was trying to give my student an example of showing - I wrote something quickly out of the top of my head. My student, being the sharp young man he is, looked at me and said “How is this different than mine?” I was shocked by his question but once I read what I had written I realized that he was right; there was no difference.”

·         Usually, showing instead of telling does not come natural, no matter how much experience you have as a writer. This proved to me that to show instead of tell, we have to hear, whether out loud or within our mind, what we are writing. You can do this by focusing and listening to what you are writing as you write, which is what I usually do when working on my book projects; or you can just read back what you wrote and change it as you go.

·         Learning how to show more and tell less doesn't have to be that complicated.  I just try to visualize what I want to say in my mind and then focus to generate it in writing in a way that would touch me if I was the reader. Here is an example of telling and showing as I share with you all a Susan moment I had last week:

Telling: I tried to take the avocado’s pit out with a knife but instead I pierced my left hand’s palm. I started screaming as the tears ran through my face, grabbed paper towels and held it tight to stop the bleeding. Somehow, I reached my phone and called my husband, sobbing and trying to endure the pain.

Showing: I was making an avocado salad for lunch and for some reason I decided to imitate Chef Bobby Flay’s technique to take the pit out of the avocado with a knife. The next thing I remember is standing over a blood splattered kitchen sink pressing a blood soaked paper towel on my left hand palm. Somehow I managed to get to my cell phone on the other side of the counter and dialed my husband’s number, he had never heard me cry.  

For more information on how Reader Views can help with your book visit readerviews.com.

Why You Want To Read Indie Books

Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

During the beginning of the Internet Publishing revolution many Indie books felt short on production quality. Needless to say that this fact, on top of the traditional publishing efforts against change, gave all Indie authors a bad rap, which made it difficult for them to succeed in the market. Yet, many Indie books began hitting the bestseller mark as authors learned more and more about the publishing process. In the end, the publishing industry seems to have been able to accommodate traditional and Indie authors in the entirely different book formats currently available. So why should readers want to read Indie books on top of, or even in place of the traditional ones? Below are some reasons:

·         Because readers want to choose what to read! The broad list of Indie books is so vast that readers will always find something different to read. This is due to the Traditional Publisher Marketing focused selection process.

·         Because they are getting better and better! The bad rap is going away as the quality of Indie books improves steadily.

·         Because Indie is here to stay! There is no longer uncertainty about the Indie Publishing Industry existence. In fact its growth has been fast and hefty!

·         Because Indie Authors are becoming as Credible as Traditional! In the beginning, a self-published author was not given much credibility because a publisher did not choose to publish their manuscript, and instead they did it themselves. Currently the idea that good books are not self-published is less relevant, as Indie authors grow fans and establish their own platforms.

The book market has gone from being publisher based to reviews based as readers now shop for authors based on the reviews and Awards honored instead of who published them. To find good books to read, check our book reviews through www.readerviews.com and www.readerviewskids.com.

What is a Back Cover without Endorsements?

Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

All Authors know the importance of an interesting front cover to hook the reader, yet many ignore the true purpose of the back cover. Even if the front cover gets the attention of a reader while passing by the shelves either at their local bookstore or their go-to online store, the front cover is not what will close the deal. What will actually get the reader to open the book is the back cover. This is why it is critical to sales that the back cover is put together strategically. Yet, many of the Indie books worth reading that have come my way show very little thought in them by showing only the author’s picture, bio and a short synopsis, but no endorsements. Here are some tips on getting endorsements for the back cover.

·         Be selective when choosing who to ask. All endorsements are awesome, however if we wish to target our specific audience, the endorsement should speak to them. Another author on the specific genre could do the trick, a specialist on the book’s topic, an editor of a publication that covers books, or even a book review quote can also give the credibility needed to close the deal for the reader.

·         Don’t be afraid to ask, and even offer to pay the endorser for their time. We hear everywhere that paying for any kind of review and publicity is a no. However, if you are asking someone to take time out of their own schedule to read your manuscript and provide a back cover endorsement, this is no longer a review…it is a service to the author.

·         Send the finished manuscript for editorial reviews before publishing to be able to quote them as endorsements on the back cover as well.

·         There is no specific good number of endorsements, just remember that they need to be short, and have a sound-bite quality to them to resonate on the reader’s mind.

Remember, any endorsement is better than none! For more information on how we can help with endorsements email us at admin@readerviews.com or visit www.readerviews.com.

Testimonials, Book Reviews and Awards Programs

Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

Many authors, including me, put a lot of effort getting our books reviewed and entered into awards contests as soon as the book is out, if not earlier. We do this all the while knowing that it can backfire if the review comes back negative, because it is very important to put people’s opinion about our work out there in order to give our work credibility. But is this the only thing we can do? My answer is no.

Granted, winning an award and getting excellent book reviews is awesome, but we can gain professional credibility in many ways and through many sources. As authors, we are in contact with different venues for our events - bookstores, professional organizations, etc. So why not request testimonials from the people we come in contact with while promoting our books as well. This can include media, event coordinators, bookstore managers, editors, book video producers, publicists, etc. Further still, why not request testimonials to the contacts we made while researching the topics for our book, and even requesting testimonials from writers who critiqued our manuscripts? If you think about it, positive testimonials about the author, posted along with book reviews and award winnings, will give your possible audience the full picture to relate to you, and thus promote your book.

It is a fact that many people that purchase books at an author event will do so because they liked and related to the author. This is the number one reason author interviews are used as a book-promoting tool. Some authors dream of being on a T.V. talk show. The exposure these shows can give are great, but what closes the deal is how much the audience related to the author during the interview. Help your audience relate to you and your work through the testimonials of those who have met you and worked with you!

The best promoting strategy comes by combining tools, which allow your genuine uniqueness to be put out there along your work. Honest book reviews and testimonials posted on your website and even on your Amazon page can go a long way. Then if the award is accomplished your promotion will be ready to get your work to the next level. 

For more information on how Reader Views helps Indie authors, visit our website at www.readerviews.com.

Love to Read? Become a Reviewer!

SusanNew.jpg

I have always loved books. My favorite place was a book shop owned by two Old Italian ladies in my home town in Venezuela. To this date I haven’t found a brick and mortar bookstore that shows a variety of books comparable to what they used to carry, and I have lived all over the US, Venezuela, and Italy! Yet our literature budget had to be divided between our family of five book lovers, and thus I ended up reading a lot of Stephen King and Sci-Fi books as hand me downs from my older brother, along with Agatha Christie books and other cozy mysteries in Italian from my mother.

This is why Reader Views is a dream-come- true for me. Who would have ever imagined that I would be able to get so many awesome books and even voice my opinion to authors, and other book lovers like me! So there is no mystery that I am the one picking out our own reviewers. In my mind a book lover is someone who see reading as a basic need, and thus regardless of their budget or time availability, they are somehow always reading something.  Sometimes this love for books makes us hold on to some of them to create our own library to cherish, re-visit and share with loved ones. To people like this, or more accurately, to people like me, I just have to say: Become a book reviewer! Below are benefits about becoming a book reviewer with Reader Views:

·         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 an honest review about it. Now “honest” means honest and not rude. There are many ways to say things, and positive or negative opinions can always be said with manners, and using a professional voice. For someone who reads a lot, this is not that difficult, plus did I mention - free books? Yes, the free books were the hook that got me into it…but in all honesty my writing has also improved considerably thanks to writing professional reviews. In fact, most of our kid reviewers grow up with amazing communication skills due to their reviews.

·         Also, becoming a reviewer does not means that you won’t be able to choose what you read. On the contrary, not only does the reviewer pick what they are going to review, their picking pool will double. Some even end up increasing the genres they pick as they dare to try other genres when some titles from other genres might grab their attention once in a while.

·         My favorite aspect of being a reviewer is the relationship that developed with authors and publishers. Whether the reviewer becomes a professional reviewer for Blog Critics, Amazon, etc., or remains an independent reviewer for their own blog; the experience is life enriching as they connect with the literary world and publishing industry

·         Finally, it could become a source of income whether through ads on their blogs, affiliate accounts or even becoming a paid professional for publicists; although as a hobby it is also satisfying and enriching through perks from the publishers and authors. The reviewer could actually go both routes at the same time

Reading and writing have been always 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 in this life. Some of it has to do with the services I provide to Indie authors, and some of it with helping people find life lessons in books to improve their lives. Plus, I get free books! To find out on how to review books for Reader Views visit us at www.readerviews.com and click on the become a reviewer tab.

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.