The next roundtable gathering of the Alliance for Literary Writers, Authors, & Yabbering Scribes (ALWAYS) writers’ collective, will take place at: 11:30 a.m., Thurs., Nov. 10, 2022, at Mimi’s restaurant in Chandler, AZ. Our roundtable discussion topic: established authors will meet in person to discuss holiday marketing techniques and tactics. Can’t make it in person? Contact Ann Videan for a Zoom link to attend our meeting.
Come on in! I’m so glad you’ve found our little online community! Here, we share ideas to create and market better writing, music, and “village.” Throw in a few “Coffee CommuniTea” coffee and tea-shop reviews, and we’re golden, right? What better places for writing, enjoying music, and creating community? Our goal is to generate success together, using fresh tactics to get the ‘verse buzzing about cool creative endeavors. Come in and join us… —Ann
Our roundtable also led us down a primrose path of many other valuable tips, listed after the review bullets, all of which you can consider as plants to nurture in your book-marketing garden.
Book review gathering tips
Right after your book launches, ask friends and family to read it and write a review. Ask any of your beta readers for reviews as well.
Amazon will throw out any reviews from folks they feel are connected to the author in any way—editor, relative, illustrator, +—so those close to you may want to use a different/specific email address under which to write reviews.
Since your launch team receives the book early, on the day of your launch ask them to order the book or download the ebook, and write a review. The proof of purchase pretty much guarantees Amazon will print the review.
Give potential reviewers permission to write only one or two lines about what they thought about the read. A review does not need to recap the plot, sound brilliant, or be lengthy! All you need is a sincere reaction stated in one or two sentences. You can even give potential reviewers a few bullet points you’d like them to cover, or provide existing review examples.
Away from Amazon reviews, you could coordinate your contacts to post comments, one-at-a-time, about your book in your Facebook, LinkedIn, or other online groups. This is also a great way to gain followers!
You could offer a free book, or something related to the book—trivia, top-10 list, character art—in exchange for a review. Or pay a fee to feature your e-book, free for one day, on Freebooksy.com. You can also schedule an ebook promo on the well-respected The Fussy Librarian site.
How about some promotional ideas?
Create a video to share part of your book. Let the video speak for the book, no need to push the title in the video, you can add it to hashtags or comments. Hire a professional to read/voice your words so it’s more credible.
Use Canva to create videos, covers, memes, and other graphics for online sue. It sizes pictures and keeps resolutions intact.
Book Brush, similar to Canva, but specifically geared to authors.
Don’t be afraid to pay for ads to promote you book. It’s all about awareness! The following sites allow you to submit/offer your book for free, others provide promotional options. Note: most are geared toward ebooks.
• Books Children Read is a great site for readers to purchase children’s books. The site also loves to promote children’s book authors too. And look whose book was featured in the blue promotional bar when I visited the site! Congrats, Hayley Rose!
• Also, if you need help with all the action items in marketing your book(s), Trello comes highly recommended.
Here’s hoping these resources give you amazing results with your book review requests and marketing efforts!
If you have additional ideas and resources, please add them in the comments below.
Our established Phoenix-area ALWAYS authors met in Sept. 2022 to discuss how to make the most of book booth exposure. Here are valuable tips gleaned from the discussion, including additional marketing advice.
Proven tips for attracting readers to your booth
• Pre-publicize your booth and why people should come by. When you let readers know before the festival, you increase your chance of traffic and sales, especially if you offer them something they can only receive by coming to the booth.
• Stand beside or in front of the table instead of behind it, when possible.
• Entice passersby to step up to you by commenting on their clothing, asking a question, or offering an interesting activity:
– “What do you like to read?” (Then refer to authors in that genre near you, and ask them to do the same.)
– IDEA: Our group is going to try handing out other author’s postcards (with booth number printed in a stick-on dot ) to readers looking for a specific genre.
• Offer an interesting activity, even for adults: a progressive story to which they can add writing or art, non-messy food tasting, trivia questions, etc.
– For kids: stickers or buttons for them to wear; candy; coloring pages
• Sell other items, colored pencils, trinkets, swag (screen cleaner with your book cover imprinted on it, pop sockets, or other useful items)
• Support a charity by giving away your book for a donation, which will be directed to the charity. Or give part of your proceeds to a charity.
• Supermarket table: Some indie authors are setting up tables in supermarkets
• Connect readers with your book via online communities:
– Sign up on the Book Movement site, where you give books away for reviews from book clubs
– Post your writing at Booksie.com, providing tools for writers to publish their work and connect with readers from across the world.
• Make purchasing your book easy: Have a info readily available for quick online, Paypal, Venmo, or Zellepayments. Have a Square, for credit card swiping. You can obtain one for free or inexpensively and will pay 3% or less in credit card fees to use one.
• After you set a book up and have a few reviews that are good, only read your five-star reviews. You can’t please everyone, and you need not suffer from low reviews.
• Don’t use bookmarks, which often are thrown away. Hand out postcards on demand only, or a Top 10 list, a recipe, food lists, trivia, or other book-content-related handouts.
• Keep accurate sales numbers. They can help you get into bookstores and all major distributors.
• Hire an actor to read your most emotional chapter and post the video online.
• Purchase a $5 ad on Amazon or FB, and look at the search term used by those responding. If they searched for the title of the book, rather than general search terms, they likely saw your ad.
Recommended Arizona book expos, fairs, and other events
I happily discovered, too, my expertise and fee structure as a book shepherd aligns quite nicely with industry standards. Great to know in this world where pricing for book-related services can be all over the map!
An International Standard Book Number( ISBN), per isbn-international.org, is “a product identifier used by publishers, booksellers, libraries, internet retailers and other supply chain participants for ordering, listing, sales records and stock control purposes. The ISBN identifies the registrant as well as the specific title, edition and format.”
A Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN), says the Library of Congress, is “a unique identification number the Library of Congress assigns to the catalog record created for each book in its cataloged collections. Librarians use it to locate a specific Library of Congress catalog record in the national databases and to order catalog cards from the Library of Congress or from commercial suppliers.”
But where do I obtain an ISBN?
Quick answer: Your print-on-demand publisher (e.g. KDP/Amazon, etc.) or through Bowker’s MyIdentifiers.com, depending on what you want to do…
Anyone who uses the free ISBN from KDP wants to only sell books and buy author copies through KDP/Amazon. It allows you to be in Amazon’s expanded distribution system, which puts you in the computer system of Barnes & Noble and other select bookstores and libraries. Not on the shelves, but in their systems in case readers want to order your book .
Anyone who purchases their own ISBNs through Bowker typically wants to:
• Buy books locally (faster, with more quality control). These days, it’s taking weeks to get printed books through KDP. I’ve always been personally satisfied with KDP printing, but some of my authors have had issues.
• Sell ebooks on other e-reader platforms like Smashwords, Apple Books, Kobo…
• Publish through IngramSpark (IS) to have their books listed in their distribution catalog. This is a pretty good reason to get an ISBN specific to IS.
Bowker ISBNs cost $125 for one and $295 for ten. Since every format of a books needs a uniques ISBN, I always suggest buying the package.
[Side note: I’ve done both KDP and Bowker ISBNs in the past, but am leaning toward definitely buying a Bowker ISBN to use with IS in the future.]
And how about that LCCN?
Formerly called a Preassigned Control Number (PCN), the LCCN allows your book to be purchased by and/or donated to a library, because the Library of Congress (LOC) can easily catalog it.
It takes less than five days to obtain a LCCN, often the next-day. You first need to set up an account at the LOC, then fill out an application for a single book’s LCCN.
My thought is, why not? It can only help, and doesn’t cost anything or take much effort to secure.
Use large, readable type, especially for the title and author name. The words must be visible and stand out in thumbnail size, which is how most readers will first see your book.
Make sure the cover art/photo fits your genre. Just a visit to a section of a bookstore or Amazon page with your genre will give you the idea of what to strive for.
One strong image attracts the eye more than several small ones.
Use colors that mimic the mood of your book contents.
If you use a photo of your characters on the cover, they mustmatch the characters descriptions in the book.
Here is a blog I found from “Creative Indie” Derek Murphy describing eight traditional publishers’ cover design tips.
Use author/creative writing professor Deborah Chester’s “Story Question” as starting point for your back-cover book blurb. These two sentences cover all the main points in your story: WHEN SOMETHING HAPPENS*, *YOUR PROTAGONIST* *PURSUES A GOAL*. But will he succeed when *ANTAGONIST PROVIDES OPPOSITION*?
End your blurb with one word having to do with death, enlightenment, or love.
You can update your covers any time you want. You might even try testing a “split” cover, giving readers two options, to see which image sells the book better.
Logistics and resources:
Design rates for covers can range from $25 (fiverr.com) and premade (Getcovers.com) to $300-$500 for custom designed covers. Well-known graphic designers may charge $600+.
You have only a few seconds to intrigue a reader when they look at the back of your book. If you give them a lengthy synopsis (a plot-point by plot-point description), you can easily lose them in the detail. Synopses are for agents, editors, and publishers who want to know each step of the storyline, including the ending. A synopsis is an informative piece.
Blurbs need to be relatively short—just a couple of paragraphs, if possible—hitting the compelling highlights of the characters’ and the story’s arcs, but not giving away the ending. It serves as a teaser to interest readers enough to open the book to learn more, or to buy it. A book blurb is a marketing piece.
“Real estate” on the back of a book is valuable. It needs to include compelling words to entice readers to look inside and buy. That includes the blurb, testimonials, perhaps a tagline, maybe some author info/photo; not to mention the business and purchasing items like the publishing info and barcode. A long blurb takes up too much space to allow easy readability of the other detail on the back cover.
Authors almost always use the book blurb on their Amazon book page listing, too. Readers don’t spend a lot of time checking out a book online. Here’s how it goes…
If a reader likes the thumbnail, they click to see the details.
If they like the cover, up-close, they scroll down to the description.
If the description is too long, or doesn’t have an immediate hook, they leave your page and start searching for something else and you’ve lost them.
If the description grabs them quickly, they scroll back up to the “Look Inside” feature to learn more.
If they like what they see inside, they buy.
Readers holding a physical book follow the same process (obviously, without all the clicking and scrolling). 🙂
So, with all of that said, a short and punchy blurb works best. Hook the reader with compelling highlights without telling them everything that happens in the story. What you need instead of a short synopsis with too much detail, is a quick hook to entice a reader to want to know more about the story… an enticing marketing blurb.
WHEN SOMETHING HAPPENS*, *YOUR PROTAGONIST* *PURSUES A GOAL*. But will he succeed when *ANTAGONIST PROVIDES OPPOSITION*?
This is a two-sentence description which can serve as the perfect foundation for your book blurb. Of course, you’ll probably want to embellish with some details within and around the story question, but it will start you off in fine shape.
Maybe using color coding for some of the phrases, below, will help you see how this works?
When something happens, your protagonistpursues a goal. But, will they succeed when the antagonist provides opposition?
The story question gives you the main points in your book:
Main good character
The story’s overall goal
Example: Harry Potter, book 1
When he finds out he’s a wizard, Harry Pottermoves to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to learn about magic and his mysterious past. But, will he succeed when the dark Lord Voldemort, who killed Harry’s parents, returns to retrieve an immortality stone so he can destroy the young student?
An imaginary nonfiction inspirational book example:
Growing up in a cloud of fear and self-doubt, Susangoes on a spiritual quest to find herself. Floundering to develop self-worth while unemployed and in the midst of a divorce with her unfaithful husband, will she be able to use her mind and will to overcome the hardships and forge a path to joy and fulfillment? Or will spirit intervene?
While reviewing a blog I ran across at the Self-Publishing School site, I realized their points covered some of the main techniques I teach in my writing workshops to overcome these issues. Study the few tips below, and you’ll be amazed at how your words jump off the page!
Avoid passive voice, use active voice instead
Passive voice often uses inactive verbs followed by words ending in “-ed” or “-ing”
Passive voice = is cheering, are praying, have binged
Active voice = cheer, prays, binged
In active voice, you start your sentences with the subject and use an active verb to describe what the subject does.
Don’t use weak verbs, use active verbs instead
Inactive/”to be” verbs = is, was, has, have, be, been
Active verbs create a mental picture: cheers, pray, binged, stumble, stared
Why use emotion explaining, when you can simply show physical reactions?
Climb into a character’s skin and experience what they taste, feel, hear, smell, and do.
Beauty is in the details… describe how someone’s hands shake and lips quiver when they tremble in “fear.”