Social Media for Children’s and Adult Books: Who Posts Where?

17 May 2018

From Publishing Trends:

Look at some of the top authors on Twitter and you’ll see that the list is pretty evenly divided between authors of books for children and adults.  Paulo Coelho weighs in at 12.2 million, followed by JK Rowling at 11.3 million.  Then a steep fall to Anthony Bourdain (6.1) and John Green (5.33), Stephen King (3.52) and Neil Gaiman (2.62), and Chris Colfer (2.52) and Margaret Atwood (1.7).  You get the idea.

Facebook mirrors Twitter in that Coelho is still at the top, but with 20.5 million followers.  Others are closer to parity with their Twitter followers, e.g. Stephen King has five million on Facebook while John Green (who’s on every major platform) has three million-plus on Facebook. James Patterson has a healthy 3.7 million.  Lemony Snicket has a half million under A Series of Unfortunate Events and Rick Riordan has more than three million under Percy Jackson.

Beyond Twitter and Facebook, the numbers are generally much smaller and harder to track.  Still, in conversation with agents, publishers, social media gurus and writers, it’s clear that authors are generally encouraged to embrace one or more social media platform. However, what they really accomplish in promoting themselves differs depending on what their goals and expectations are their level of commitment and skill.

. . . .

Most agree that authors should engage with social media only if they are comfortable. Rachel Fershleiser, HMH Executive Director of Audience Development and Community Engagement, says she’s a “huge believer in authors setting their own boundaries,” both in terms of where to post and what to write about.  She encourages authors to try Instagram, because it’s generally the least contentious, and allows an author to express his or her personality “without the stress” of a network like Twitter. Writers HouseDigital Director Daniel Berkowitz thinks that, for many, how one interacts on social media “almost runs counter to how an author operates.” Authors want their posts to reflect the same level of writing that their books exhibit, and so are anxious about achieving that, especially on “of-the-moment” platforms like Twitter.  In her blog post, So You’re An Author Without a Social Media Presence: Now What?, Jane Friedman warns that, while engaging in social media offers “an opportunity to learn about your readership as well as better establish your platform,” it’s “not necessarily an opportunity to hard sell the book you’re about to release.”

. . . .’s Pete McCarthy believes that, done right, social media is “one of the most cost-effective ways” of marketing an author.  He believes middle-grade authors often ignore Goodreads because they forget it’s a good place to meet their readers’ parents.

Link to the rest at Publishing Trends

Untapped Markets: Meeting Readers Where They Are

7 May 2018

From Publishers Weekly:

“You should be going to every Girl Scout Jamboree in the country!” urged a troop leader to author-illustrator Sarah Dillard. Sarah, whose Mouse Scouts chapter book series is beloved by Daisies, Brownies, and Girl Scouts the nation over, had been invited to the Girl Expo in Vermont on our state fairgrounds, and her publisher, Random House, arranged for a booth where we could set up and sell the books. What struck me was how many Daisy and Brownie leaders hadn’t known about the books and were intensely interested in them. It was as though Sarah had filled a need in the Girl Scout universe heretofore unrecognized.

The last time we did this event was two years ago, when there were just two books in the Mouse Scouts series. Now there are four, and you would not believe the response Sarah had from young readers and troop leaders alike. She was greeted like a rock star.

. . . .

This series is heavily illustrated with charming spot art throughout, and my favorite thing to do was to see a little person shyly eyeing the books, encourage them to open them up and look at the drawings inside, and then point to Sarah. “She wrote the words AND drew all of the pictures,” I would say. Their eyes would widen in surprise, and they would look anew at Sarah. One little girl pointed to the cover. “Even this?” she said. “Even that,” I said. “Even the wood frame around the mice!” They were uniformly astonished. Some of these kids are young enough that the word “author” carries little significance, but everyone is wowed by someone who can draw terrific pictures.

. . . .

A few years ago, I had the honor of attending a diversity conference for book industry people. I was lucky enough to be in a focus group with the amazing Just Us Books publishers, Cheryl and Wade Hudson, who have worked for diversity in children’s books for decades. They talked about their efforts to get their books into bookstores, but found that those efforts weren’t enough to reach all of the people who wanted and needed them. There just weren’t bookstores in all of the neighborhoods where the very children Cheryl and Wade were publishing for lived, and some of the bookstores that were there didn’t feature a diverse collection of titles. So they took books to church festivals and neighborhood parties and school events, where people would gather around the tables, delighted. Cheryl and Wade would hear comments like, “I had no idea there were kids like us in books!” They sold grocery bags full of books to an audience eager to embrace them, because they had gotten creative and met their audience where they lived.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

Thirty Minutes a Day is All It Takes to Automate Your Social Media Activity, But I Don’t Recommend it

23 April 2018

From The Digital Reader:

As I am sure you know, there aren’t enough hours in the day to get all your work done. This is why we are always looking for new ways to automate tasks, and why I started the Tech Tools for Authors series (soon to be a newsletter).

Sometimes, however, the automation is counterproductive or just isn’t worth using. For example, a couple months ago I developed a way to automatically gather tweets from chosen Twitter accounts and load them into a Buffer queue so the tweets can be shared from one of my clients’ social media accounts.

It’s a clever and relatively low-cost trick that ties together IFTTT and Buffer in a way that lets the two services handle the majority of the work automatically.

You’ll need to invest some time in finding sources, but aside from that the only costs are a Buffer subscription, some skull sweat invested in choosing sources, and the time spent curating the Buffer queue to remove unwanted updates.

. . . .

I won’t be using it, however, and I don’t think you should either.

I have come to the realization that I am not comfortable with the act of scraping people’s tweets. It feels too much like plagiarism, and I think using someone else’s work like this is going to backfire in the long run.

And even if this weren’t plagiarism, it’s a sub-optimal way to maintain a social media presence.

Ask any social media expert and they will tell you that the best way to get attention or build an audience is to say something original and clever. In this case that means you have to read (or at least skim) each story and find something to say. This process can’t really be automated, at least not without a lot more investment than I can afford.

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader

As usual, Nate has a lot of good suggestions and shortcuts and reading his extensive series of posts on the topic, collected as Tech Tools for Authors, provides a lot of ideas.

PG uses some automation for TPV, but not a lot. For example, visitors to TPV can sign up for a daily email update which collects all the posts that appear on that day and sends them out in an email. You’ll see a signup box in the right column of the blog, fourth from the top. He also has a Feedburner RSS feed of all posts with a link at the top of the right column of the blog.

PG uses some other services to automatically forward information and links to Facebook, Twitter, etc., but it’s all one way.

That said, PG is not terribly social on social media. He doesn’t lack for online conversation about the book biz which mostly happens at TPV. He does use Feedly and Alltop on an inbound basis to keep track of what’s happening on several topics and help find items for TPV.

PG does use a variety of tools to make non-personalized outbound communication easier. Most of the time, PG prepares several posts for TPV at the same time, but schedules them to appear at intervals during the day. Each post is spread beyond the TPV site via RSS, email, etc., when it goes live.

For some non-TPV purposes, PG uses Buffer to schedule items for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. He likes the ability to go heads-down on a task and create several outbound items that will appear automatically over the next few days. He has discovered it’s more efficient for him to use many of his tools at one sitting for a series of scheduled releases than to do one thing with a tool, then another thing with a different tool.

In the OP, Nate mentioned free tools Canva and Pablo for creating striking visuals for social media. PG has used both of those tools and obtained good results. However, his current favorite for this task is Adobe Spark.

He likes Spark because it can do a lot of things in a useful and aesthetically-pleasing way. For one thing, links to free photo sites are built into the program. It also has a large number of pre-built templates to get you started plus you can choose from a large number of color palettes for your posts, so you don’t need to worry about what color will compliment your graphic. If you start with a colored photo, Spark will automatically use a palette that goes with the photo.

PG made the following item in under one minute, starting with a Spark template. Text colors were selected automatically.

Here’s another – creation time – 60 seconds – again, starting with a Spark template

And one last Spark graphic:

6 Top Ways for Indie Authors to Make Self-published Books More Discoverable and More Competitive on Amazon

1 April 2018

From The Alliance of Independent Authors:

Amazon Kindle SEO is the process of using keywords to have your book rank higher in Amazon search results than other books. If you’ve put blood, sweat and tears into writing a book, you want readers to find and buy it! Luckily for you, there are a number of ways to (ethically) manipulate Amazon Kindle’s search engine results in order to get your shining star of a book to crawl up to the top of its search results.

. . . .

There are a multitude of keyword search tools at your disposal in today’s digital age, but you’ll only need two to get the job done in this case:

Google Keyword Planner &

  • Step 1: Come up with 15-20 keywords that best describe your book and/or its main topic.
  • Step 2: Input these words or phrases into Google’s Keyword Planner.
  • Step 3: Gather the top 5 -10 keywords that receive the most traction based on your search and add them to a new list.
  • Step 4: Make a new, separate list that features this new list of keywords.
  • Step 5: Type your new keywords into’s search bar and take note of other auto-populated keywords that come up and are relevant to your book. For example, if you type in “decorating”, what comes up right after that? will likely show you “Decorating tips” or “Decorating ideas”.
  • Step 6: Write down these auto populated keywords in a third list.
  • Step 7: Combine the auto-populated keywords with the proven best-performing keywords you found in Google’s Keywords Planner.

Link to the rest at The Alliance of Independent Authors and thanks to Rob for the tip.

How to Develop Buyer Personas Using Facebook Insights

28 March 2018

From Social Media Examiner:

If you were a car salesman, who would your ideal customer be?

People of all ages buy cars, but if there’s one specific audience that’s guaranteed to want a car, it would be teenagers who just got their driver’s license. A successful car salesman will do some research before targeting these teenagers, and might find out that many teenagers can’t afford to buy a car. So the savvy salesman will figure out that he needs to target their parents.

This is where the buyer persona is helpful. Creating a buyer persona for your business will help identify the ideal type of customer so you can produce effective content to sell your products, instead of blindly creating blog posts and videos hoping someone will buy from you.

A buyer persona is a detailed profile of your ideal customer, which includes specific details about the customer who’s most likely to buy your product.

. . . .

Creating a buyer persona is similar to creating a Facebook profile. When you create a buyer persona profile, you include every little detail about your best buyer: their location, age, gender, employment, the company they work for, marital status, interests, their shopping habits, and more.

. . . .

Every buyer persona should include these four sections:

Personal Background Info: includes details such as job, family, age, income, and gender

What They Want: includes their goals, kinds of challenges they’re facing, and what you can do to provide solutions

Why They Buy Your Product: lists reasons this person would buy your product, which specific problem it solves, and what holds them back from buying

Best Way to Reach: describes the most convenient way to reach this customer and how you would explain your solution

You’re probably wondering how you can find such specific details to create a buyer persona. Well, Facebook has already done that job for you.

When creating a profile on Facebook, people share all of these bits of information with the entire world. Through its advertising platform, Facebook gives all types of businesses access to this user information, which you can use to effectively target your audiences with ad campaigns.

Before you begin, make sure that you’re using Facebook Audience Insights. Facebook Page Insights will only offer limited details related to a specific page. You need to go beyond that.

To access Audience Insights, log into your Facebook account and go to your Ads Manager, open the Explore panel on the left-hand side, and find the Audience Insights link on the drop-down menu.

. . . .

#1: Create a Custom Audience

While it’s easier to use Facebook Audience Insights to identify and create an audience, you shouldn’t guess when you’re defining details of your buyer persona.

The best approach is to create a custom audience using your email list. Your email list consists of people who have already shown interest in your products, so it’s more effective for finding your ideal customer traits.

. . . .

You can download your email list as a CSV file and upload it to Facebook. Then Facebook scans these emails to find the profiles of your leads to create a custom audience. Facebook recommends that you use an email list or a list segment of at least 1,000 people to create a more accurate custom audience.

. . . .

#3: Create Your Buyer Persona

Once you identify the key data related to your customer, you can start creating a profile to organize all of the information in one place.

Depending on the industry and the type of business you have, you’ll need to create a unique buyer persona to profile the necessary details of your customer for ease of use.

You can create your buyer persona from scratch or you can use a buyer persona template to get an idea of how to create one. There are even online tools such as Xtensio’s free User Persona Creator that let you quickly create a buyer persona profile.

Link to the rest at Social Media Examiner

PG says that Facebook’s recent and well-publicized problems may impact how useful its tools are in the future, the OP provides a useful outline about how authors may wish to identify, describe and reach potential readers.

5 Ways to Get People Talking About Your Brand, Both Online and Off

22 March 2018

From AdWeek:

Across continents and generations, research shows that the recommendations of friends are trusted more than any other form of advertising. People love to hear, watch and share stories with the people who matter most to them. The Story feature on Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and even Google encourages users to share their choices and experiences more frequently than ever.

Rather than interrupt those stories with ads, your brand can become the topic of these stories—if you deliver an experience worth sharing. The main factor that drives these experiences is not the size of your staff or marketing budget; it’s something we all possess: creativity.

Below are five key touchpoints to consider when creating your strategy to spark shareworthy stories about your brand.

Use your staff as story drivers

People value authentic human connection in a brand experience. Lyft’s social media interaction with customers is a great example of elevating the “customer service” to “customer celebration.”

But you don’t need a whole social media department to spark these stories. The Library Hotel, a boutique hotel in Midtown Manhattan, sparks conversations in the lobby and online by adding staff members’ favorite books to their name badges and celebrating shared enthusiasm for reading. This inexpensive action inspires selfies that get shared and liked across the web.

Make a scene

An aesthetic environment encourages people to take and share pictures. By elevating the traditional brewery visit into a more interactive, multi-sensory experience, Guinness found an engaging and picturesque way to tell its story and quickly became the most popular attraction in Ireland. Merci, a concept store in Paris, uses affordable materials to constantly innovate the interior of their store through a simple rope installation. Customers happily share this experience with friends and regularly return out of curiosity.

Link to the rest at AdWeek


‘Confusing’ blurbing is slowing supply chain

12 March 2018

From The Bookseller:

Supply chain organisation BIC (Book Industry Communication) has urged publishers to stop using “hugely confusing” blurb material in title and subtitle metadata fields.

BIC has noticed that publishers and other metadata providers are using the subtitle, and sometimes the title fields, in metadata feeds to carry marketing and promotional text, for example, phrases such as “Sunday Times Best Seller”, “Gripping read from…”, “The Richard & Judy Book Club thriller 2017”,  and “Man Booker prize winner”.

Such promotional text is “not wanted” by retailers or libraries and is “hugely confusing” for the book buyer, said the organisation, adding that using such information in the subtitle field could adversely affect accreditation of the publisher or metadata provider in the future.

“It is important for discoverability, good customer experience and an efficient data supply chain that these data fields reflect only the true title and subtitle text that appears on the title page”, BIC said in a statement. “The valuable promotional text should be included in separate and dedicated promotional text fields, and all metadata recipients, including wholesalers and retailers, should be using these fields appropriately.”

The organisation has slammed the “significant escalation” of this practice over the last 12 months, which it says is “confusing and misleading” for consumers trying to make a buying decision. The practice is also having an adverse effect on supply chain efficiency because removing the unwanted text incurs extra costs and is time consuming for retailers and aggregators.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

This sounds like keyword stuffing, an ancient (in internet years) SEO tactic for improving Google rankings for web pages. The practice involved adding lots of popular search terms (sometimes in metadata or in invisible or difficult for humans to see form – white words on a white background) into a web page to rank higher in Google search results and thus garner more traffic. Example: “Sexy, sexy, sexy, sexy bagels”

PG is a little surprised it has taken so long for British publishers to attempt to game the system in this particular manner.

The solution to this problem is also ancient – ding the offenders with lower rankings in search results or don’t show them at all.

Typography is the new black. Trends in web design

12 March 2018


In the world of web design we have been experiencing a long process of incorporating typography effects in sites, which years ago was technically impossible, or at least could only be supported by a few browsers. Luckily this situation has changed and we are now enjoying an explosion of creativity in the use of web typography and communication, whilst still maintaining high levels of accessibility. The last few months have seen an increase in the richness of typefacesdecoration styles and hover effects, while icons and emojis are emphasizing the expressiveness of texts even more.

Hero fonts and bold typefaces

The use of bold typefaces is a trend that gives personality to texts and is overtaking images as the main design element. The creative use of typography is taking centre stage and, to a large extent, overtaking hero images and videos – which are multimedia elements that can have less than favorable effects on mobile browsing.


Serifs are anything but new, nevertheless, they have clawed their way back to the forefront enough that they are no longer seen as belonging to the past: bold + serif = 2018. So, polish up that amazing Clarendon, you’re gonna need it!

. . . .

Hero fonts and large letter sizes in paragraphs

The texts on a website serve more of a purpose than a purely visual one, they are a way of expressing the personality of a product whilst forming part of the “Voice and Tone” of the communication. Right now we are incorporating all the visual resources we can get our hands on including icons, emojis, pictograms, audio and overlaid images. The copy now commands so much respect that paragraphs feature as principle elements, sometimes even appearing as big as the titles.

. . . .

Pictograms, icons and emojis decorate our paragraphs

There are many typical (and not so typical) ways of text decoration that can coexist in the same paragraph, such as the classical underlines and italics of different weights to express or reinforce ideas. All this, together with numerous and peculiar hovers, colorful underlined blocksoutlined fonts, changes in typography, switching between serif and san serif (even in the same sentence), pictograms, icons and emojis are now scattered through the texts for decorative and semantic purposes. The desired outcome – to make the text more dynamic. The combinations are endless, many of them the result of visual experiments of Brutalism and Maximalism in web design.

The evolution of the paragraph in web design

The size of fonts and length of paragraphs have been growing at such an increasing speed over the last few months, so we could not resist making the following graphic to illustrate the evolution of paragraphs in the history of web design.

(Click on the image below for a larger version)

Link to the rest at AWWWARDS

Amazon is complicit with counterfeiting

4 March 2018

From Elevation Lab:

When someone goes to the lengths of making counterfeits of your products, it’s at least a sign you’re doing something right. And it deserves a minute of flattery.

But when Chinese counterfeiters tool up and make copies of your product, send that inventory to Amazon, then overtake the real product’s buy box by auto-lowering the price – it’s a real problem. Customers are unknowingly buying crap versions of the product, while both Amazon and the scammers are profiting, and the reputation you’ve built goes down the toilet.

And if you’ve paid Amazon a boat load of money to advertise the product you’ve designed, built, invested in, and shipped – it’s further insult to injury. And when new counterfeit sellers keep popping up every week so you have to play whack-a-mole with Amazon, who take days to remove the sellers, it’s the beginning of the end for your small business.

This is exactly what has happened to us. Our popular product The Anchor, the first under desk headphone mount, with 1500+ reviews, has been getting flooded with counterfeits. The current counterfeit seller, suiningdonghanjiaju Co Ltd (sounds legit), has been on there for the past 5 days and taken all the sales.

. . . .

They literally reverse engineered it, made steel compression molds, made the logo wrong, used fake 3M adhesive that’s very thin and was diecut smaller than the top (measure once, cut twice), they use a lower durometer silicone so it flexes more, its has huge mold parting lines, and the packaging is literally photocopied then reprinted (you can tell by the lack of image contrast). And they had to apply a big sticker to cover our SKU with theirs. But to the untrained eye, it would pass. Can’t wait for the negative reviews to come…

Link to the rest at Elevation Lab and thanks to Paul for the tip.

PG agrees that, as a part of maintaining Amazon’s position as the best place to sell a large number of things, the company should police counterfeits. If you check the OP, you’ll see the Chinese company used the same product name, copy, photos, etc., as Elevation Lab used. If the Chinese product is inferior, Elevation Lab could be damaged by bad reviews, etc., in addition to having sales diverted to its competitor.

Such activities appear to run afoul of a variety of Federal and state laws prohibiting false advertising.

On the other hand, Elevation Lab is selling a very simple product, even if it has the design and engineering virtues described in the OP.

Unless Elevation Lab has some sort of patent/design patent protection for the product in question, competitors that avoid using the company’s product name, exactly copying its product description, etc., could likely sell a similar product without violating any law PG can think of this morning.

While PG is from the “put the headphone in a drawer or leave it on the desk” school of headphone management, he did discover that headphone mounts are an extremely competitive product category on Amazon.

Occupy Author Photo: On Elena Ferrante, Privacy, and Women Writers

19 February 2018

From The Millions:

When I was in my 20s, I used to spend hours at the Strand Bookstore in New York, obsessively gazing at book jacket photos of authors. I was trying to discern something — A key to genius? Or the mere fact that this lucky person, in this photo, had managed to get a book out into the world?

The variations were endless: Here was a classic black-and-white, chin resting on fist. Here was a playful one, slightly off-center. Sexy duck face for a middle-grade children’s book…okay. Or, how about this one, gorgeous photo, but one that looked completely different — like witness protection plan different — from the author I saw as I sat in the audience at a crowded Barnes & Noble. Or this one: instead of confined to the inner flap, her face on the entire back of the book, where the blurbs would normally be. Was this good? Did this mean the press thought she was such a great writer they wanted everyone to know her? Or, was it like using a pretty face to sell toothpaste?

Fast forward a few years on, and I’m finally published. My husband is in grad school, but before that, he’d worked at the venerated publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Knowing my obsession, he would often point out the different FSG authors’ pictures, noting how the press often signaled the importance of a book by commissioning one of the well-known author photographers, most famously, Marion Ettlinger, whose black-and-whites portraits are instantly recognizable by the unsmiling, dramatic poses of her subjects, the marmoreal lighting. These could run thousands of dollars for a single image.

. . . .

But after being out of the publishing game for more than a decade, it’s author photo time! But I have come to wonder if, perhaps, for women, author photos are too often a lose-lose situation.

Women are judged — very often wrongly — because of their looks.

. . . .

It’s as if we already give any American (white) man the benefit of the doubt in terms of fitting into any narrative, especially one of heroism or competence, but a woman who breaks through always has to be stopped, something must be wrong.

Women authors, genius aside, must make sure they are not too old, or too young. Not too serious, but also serious enough. They have to be attractive, but not too attractive; for some reason in men it’s dreamy but in women it’s suspicious.

Link to the rest at The Millions

PG says if you’re nervous about an author photo, don’t have one. Or, to stand out from the crowd, demand a photo that obscures your face. Here are a few examples:



Or doesn’t show your face at all:


Of course, just like authors regularly use pen names, you could also have a pen photo. Here are some pen photos PG might use.


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