The Back Cover of a Book: Just as Important as the Front Cover?

From The Book Designer:

Does the design of the back cover of a book really matter?

Since the front cover of a book is usually the first thing a reader sees, there’s often a heavy focus on making sure that the front cover stands out, “pops,” does cartwheels, and jumps through as many hoops as necessary to get noticed. 

Unfortunately, book back covers often get the short end of the stick with only a focus on the essentials:

  • the tagline
  • blurb
  • author bio
  • testimonials
  • publisher details
  • barcode information

This information is useful and essential, but there’s some flexibility in how and where these details are placed, and depending on how creative your back book cover design is.

. . . .

Why Does the Back Cover of a Book Matter?

The back cover of a book is the extension of the front cover and spine, but the three are sometimes disjointed as if the front cover is one book and the back cover is another. When a potential reader picks up your book and flips it over to read the summary, there’s only a single opportunity to pull them in: with words. But, when the book’s back cover design creates an atmosphere that pulls the reader in, the odds begin to stack in your favor that they’ll make it to page one. 

With over 4 million books published in 2022, authors are facing a new set of challenges in a flooded book market. 

Quality and creativity, not to mention a great story, are the most important differentiators from the sea of sameness that plagues virtual and brick-and-mortar bookshelves everywhere. 

What Are the Parts of a Book’s Back Cover?

The Tagline and Blurb

Similar to a company tagline, a book’s tagline is a sentence or two that piques your interest and gets you to continue reading. It’s the statement that tells you to prepare yourself for what is to come. It is designed to get you to keep reading. The tagline is usually in a larger, bold font above the blurb. 

The blurb, on the other hand, is the teaser that sets the stage for what’s on the inside of the book. It can be a plot summary, dialogue between characters, or a conversation with the reader.

Fiction vs. Nonfiction

In fiction, taglines and blurbs are centered around the characters and the book’s plot. In nonfiction, the tagline and blurb focus on what problem the book provides a solution to or what new or interesting information will be gleaned from the content.

Author Bio

Author bios are third-person accounts of an author’s background. Bios are a great way to share pertinent information that will endear readers to the author by establishing trust. 

Fiction vs. Nonfiction

Whether fiction or nonfiction, an author’s bio offers details about the author that the author wants to share. This can include biographical information, honors and awards, education, work history, the names of books written, or a combination of them all. Many bios will include website details and a photo. 


Testimonials are book reviews from first readers that are added to the cover for social proof. Only the best reviews or reviews from prominent sources are placed on the cover.

Fiction vs. Nonfiction

In fiction, testimonials are usually about the story, the characters, and the feelings the book evoked. Nonfiction testimonials center around the quality of the information shared and in what ways it helped the reader.

Link to the rest at The Book Designer

Unlocking Amazon A+ Content for Books: The Ultimate Handbook

From The Book Designer:

Advantages of A+ Content for Books

Now, let’s dive into the irresistible advantages of Amazon A+ Content for your books. First and foremost, picture this: enhanced discoverability. In a digital sea teeming with books, A+ Content acts as your lighthouse, guiding potential readers toward your literary treasure. By showcasing your book’s unique features, be it stunning cover art or gripping excerpts, you make it more enticing and stand out among the vast competition. Think of it as your book’s red carpet moment, where readers can’t help but stop and take notice.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. A+ Content goes beyond mere visibility; it’s your key to higher conversion rates. When potential readers click on your listing, they’re not just met with a wall of text – they’re greeted with an immersive experience. This engagement factor can turn curious browsers into enthusiastic buyers. Furthermore, A+ Content lets you tell your book’s story like never before. You can weave in narratives about the inspiration behind your masterpiece or share behind-the-scenes glimpses of your creative journey. This personal touch establishes a deeper connection with your audience, turning readers into loyal fans. In this section, we’ll explore these advantages in detail, showcasing how A+ Content can be your secret weapon in the world of book publishing.

How to Access Amazon A+ Content in KDP

Accessing Amazon A+ Content in KDP is your ticket to transforming ordinary book listings into captivating showcases. Here’s a step-by-step guide to get you started:

1. Log into Your Amazon KDP Account: Begin by logging into your Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) account. If you’re an author or publisher, you’re likely familiar with this platform.

2. Select Your Book: Once logged in, navigate to your bookshelf, where all your published titles are listed. Choose the book for which you want to create A+ Content.

3. Click on “Promote and Advertise”: Under your selected book, you’ll find the “Promote and Advertise” tab. Click on it to access the marketing and promotional options for your book.

4. Choose “A+ Content Manager”: In the “Promote and Advertise” section, you’ll find various promotional tools. Select “A+ Content Manager” to begin creating your A+ Content.

5. Start Creating Your A+ Content: Follow the on-screen prompts and templates to build your A+ Content. You can add images, descriptions, and other engaging elements to enhance your book listing. You can use tools like Canva to create graphics for your A+ Content.

6. Submit for Review: Once your A+ Content is ready, review it, and make any necessary adjustments. After ensuring everything looks perfect, submit it for Amazon’s review and approval.

7. Monitor Performance: Once approved, your A+ Content will go live on your book’s listing. Monitor its performance through Amazon’s analytics tools to gauge its impact on engagement and sales.

In just a few simple steps, you’ll have unlocked the potential of Amazon KDP A+ Content to transform your book listings into compelling showcases that captivate readers.

Link to the rest at The Book Designer

How to Design a Book Cover that Grabs Readers’ Attention in 7 Steps

From The Book Designer:

What makes a great book cover? It depends on who you ask but most will agree that you just know a great cover when you see it. Love them or hate them, every great book cover design evokes a feeling.

Learning how to design a book cover that sells is more than a skill set or good taste. It’s also developing a listening ear to the needs of your reader. 

The standout qualities of an engaging book cover include:

  • Attention to detail
  • Cohesiveness of elements
  • The feeling it evokes
  • The ability to tell a great story visually
  • Piques curiosity

When it comes to book design, as the author, your opinion matters but it’s not the most important one. 

Book buyers have cover expectations and will bypass your book if it doesn’t fit into their framework or grab their attention in some other way.

You can have the best content in the world inside of your book. But if your book cover doesn’t attract the right audience, or your ideal customer, then it’s not going to get the sales that it deserves.

In the following 7 steps, we’ll look at how to design a book cover that gets buy-in from potential readers:

  • 1. Do the Unexpected
  • 2. Select the Right Fonts
  • 3. Select the Right Imagery
  • 4. Create a Hierarchy of Elements
  • 5. Colors Matter
  • 6. Tell a story
  • 7. Show Sensitivity to the Subject Matter

1. Do the Unexpected

Playing it safe means blending into the crowd. Before you publish your book, you have an opportunity to explore all of the possibilities of great cover design (regardless of budget) to uncover what could make your book a bit more special than the next.

In this article, we touched on how and when to break the rules of genre-based cover design to create something engaging and unexpected. It’s possible to honor the expectations of the genre and still engage your reader in a surprising way. This can be done by reinterpreting the conventions of the genre by putting a creative spin on it. 

. . .

Stay within the basic genre guidelines, whether fantasy, romance, business, or historical. Be open to breaking the rules when you have a good grasp of the whys behind them. 

2. Select the Right Fonts

In most cases, you’ll want to use a maximum of two or three fonts. The right typography can be the difference between a cover that looks sharp and professional and one that looks cheap and homemade, so choose wisely. 

. . . .

3. Select the Right Imagery

When adding imagery to your cover, you can choose between original photography, illustrations, stock photos, or AI-generated artwork. The key is to find an image that reflects the theme of your book and fits the genre.

. . . .

4. Create a Hierarchy of Elements

Move the reader’s eye to where you want it to go by increasing the size of the element you want to stand out the most (e.g., author name, book title, or imagery). Alternative elements to utilize for creating visual hierarchy include contrast and color.

Link to the rest at The Book Designer

PG notes that the OP has many more illustrations than PG has used here as well as several more steps.

He also notes that, contra the old saying, online or in a physical bookstore, everyone makes preliminary judgments about what books they’re going to examine based in large part on the cover. As a general proposition, the human gaze notes images more than text when looking at a wide range of potential choices.

Why Do Writers Use Different Pen Names for Genres?

From BookRiot:

Pen names are nothing new in the world of publishing. Charlotte Bronte of Jane Eyre fame published under Currer Bell; Charles Lutwidge Dodgson published Alice in Wonderland as Lewis Carroll. There are plenty of reasons why someone may elect to use a pen name in lieu of one’s legal name, such as a legitimate fear that the book wouldn’t publish or sell well under a woman’s name; or to protect the writer from retribution for what they wrote.

What I found interesting as a lover of mysteries, especially cozies, is the proliferation of pen names for genre fiction authors. I’ve interviewed several people who have several, if not many, pen names for their books. Sometimes, it seems the pen name was associated with a single series, or sometimes, it may be associated with different genres, from cozy mystery to romance. I decided to talk directly to a few authors to understand their reasons for using pen names with different series.

When I first started working on this article, it seemed like the easy answer was that the multiple names were all due to branding. Ellen Byron, television writer and author of the award-winning Vintage Cookbook series, summed it up best, “If you’re writing erotica and cozy mysteries, you may not want your readers getting those mixed up.”

Several authors noted that the request came from the publishers and editors. Ellen Byron’s publisher asked her to use a pen name for her first series, Catering Hall Mysteries. Olivia Matthews, the cozy writer behind the Spice Isle Bakery series, had written romance suspense and contemporary romances under different names but was advised with her cozy mysteries to use another pseudonym since mystery readers may not want to read anything written by a romance writer.

With Anastasia Hastings, author of the recently published Of Manners and Murder, her pen names were used with different types of genre fiction. For instance, she wrote the Pepper Martin series under the name Casey Daniels, where Pepper Martin sees ghosts. But when she had the idea for a cozy series that took place around antique buttons, Hastings said, “For the same publisher, the publisher was worried if it had the Casey Daniels name on it, people would expect ghosts, so that’s how I became Kylie Logan.”

Some authors make their pen name part of the brand in fun and unusual ways. Hastings has at least 11 pseudonyms. Byron noted that one author has really leaned into her multiple pen names; her website is J.H. Authors (Julianne Holmes, J.A. Hennrikus, and Julia Henry) with the tagline: One Woman. Three Names. Many Books.

Link to the rest at BookRiot

Google sunsets Domains business and shovels it off to Squarespace

From The Verge:

Google Domains has been a quick and easy place to buy a dot com (or dot net, or dot studio, even) for your cottage bakery — but the company is now giving up on the registrar business and selling the assets to Squarespace. The deal includes handing off 10 million domains owned by Google customers to the popular website builder.

In a press statement, Google’s VP and GM of merchant shopping, Matt Madrigal, says the sale is an effort to “sharpen our focus” and that the company plans on “supporting a smooth transition” for its customers being handed off to Squarespace. Madrigal then assures customers that Squarespace, which already has its own domain management plus web building tools, would be the perfect home for customers’ websites. Google Domains first became available as a beta in 2014 and finally came out of beta just last year.

The “definitive agreement” between Google and Squarespace includes assurances that customers will get the same renewal prices available to them for the next 12 months. Plus, Squarespace agrees to provide “incentives” for customers to build their website with the company’s platform.

For some users, especially those who only hold their domain at Google for convenience’s sake (and point it to their hosted website elsewhere), Squarespace may not be adding any value. And as it stands: Squarespace’s domain purchasing process, by design, assumes you’re also building a website from scratch on the company’s platform.

Additionally, customers planning to subscribe to Google’s Workspace enterprise platform and who want to easily buy a domain within that process, too, will now be registering it through Squarespace by default. But if the customer would like to buy the domain elsewhere, they can do that and then link it back to Workspace later.

The deal makes Squarespace the exclusive domain provider for Workspace customers buying domains directly through Google, at least for the next three years. For those who already subscribe to Workspace, and have purchased domains through Google, Squarespace will also be taking over those customers’ domain billing and support services.

. . . .

Google Domains is yet another service the company is sending to the graveyard, at least internally. The company recently shut down Currents, which was a Google Plus offshoot for enterprise. And Google’s cloud gaming platform, Stadia, was also a recent loss.

Link to the rest at The Verge

4 Things Google Domains Customers Need to Know About the Sale to Squarespace

From Tech Republic:

You’ll have a different domain registration vendor

Former Google Domains customers will become Squarespace customers; these customers will need to sign in to Squarespace to modify, add or otherwise manage registered domain name system records. All future domain name renewals will be done through Squarespace.

Domain registration pricing will likely change in the long-run

One significant shift in the longer-run will be the possibility of domain name registration price changes. In the initial announcement, Squarespace asserted it would honor renewal pricing for at least a year, which is helpful because Google Domains tended to offer an excellent value for the price.

Expect fewer partnerships and more promotions

Google Domains made it easy to add and configure Google properties such as Google Workspace, Sites, Blogger or Firebase and also offered streamlined setup with partners that included Squarespace, Shopify, Bluehost, Wix and Weebly. Once Google Domains’ domain registrations are transferred to Squarespace, few of these partner promotions will likely remain; however, per the announcements, streamlined setup of Google Workspace from Squarespace domains will continue. Customers of Squarespace domains might anticipate more promotion of Squarespace website creation tools.

You may want to explore alternatives

The prudent action might be to do nothing: Wait for the transfer, monitor the situation and evaluate any future price changes when they occur. From what is known now, if Google Domains customers do nothing, then all registrations will transfer to Squarespace and pricing will remain stable for a year.

. . . .

[S]ome Google Domains customers may prefer to go ahead and switch to a different registrar proactively. You would need to select an appropriate registrar and then initiate the domain registration transfer process.

For example, a strong candidate might be a domain name registrar that offers Whois privacy, reasonable pricing, published names/profiles of key leadership and organizational experience as a Google Workspace reseller. Published profiles indicate a certain level of willingness from people to accept responsibility for their business actions, while experience with Workspace reselling increases the chance that support teams are familiar with Google’s systems. To that, you might also prefer an easy-to-configure DNSSEC option, as mentioned above. meets all of these criteria and is worth a look for alternatives.

Link to the rest at Tech Republic

PG suspects he’s not the only person who bought some domains through Google figuring that he wouldn’t have to go through the hassle he had when he had to transfer domains from other internet service providers/domain parking places that went out of business or looked like they might have become a little shady or short on cash. It’s been so long that PG can’t remember the details of the domain transfer hassles, just that he experienced more than a few.

PG has already come across promotions from other website hosting providers targeted at those who have purchased domains through Google.

Over The Decades (Niche Marketing Part 9)

From Kristine Kathryne Rusch:

I’m obsessed with all things Barbie right now. Not because I loved the movie. I haven’t seen it, and am not sure I will. My relationship with the doll is fraught due to some bad childhood moments, and I’m not sure I want to open that memory box all the way in the blues and pinks of Barbie World, no matter how much I like Greta Gerwig, and how subversive and feminist the movie is supposed to be.

Actually, the doll was always meant to be subversive and feminist. Created by Mattel’s co-founder, Ruth Handler, because she noted that dolls for her daughter either encouraged her to be a wife or a mother, Barbie is eternally single, someone who lives her own life.

Experts aren’t sure if Handler’s choice of a risqué German doll as the basis for Barbie was deliberate or not. Barbie certainly didn’t look like the other dolls of that era at all, which always caused controversy.

Barbie was only one small part of Mattel’s company, though. There was the Magic 8 Ball and toys for toddlers (most of which are part of Fisher Price now, and still exist) and other dolls like Chatty Cathy (which gives me the shudders just thinking about it. Dolls and I do not get along, based on long-ago childhood trauma). Hot Wheels and Major Matt Mason and other toys were all in the Mattel lines.

They were all advertised on television, and changed marketing for kids toys forever.

But Barbie, she was a part of the company. Not the whole company. And she was the original niche, something for girls that wasn’t (cough) Chatty Cathy. (God, I hated that doll.)

Barbie always changed with the times. She got a cool house and a nifty if bland boyfriend and her own car and she had her own friends. I only noticed these changes because my own friends had Barbies.

Then Barbie changed. She became representative, not just with friends of color, but Barbie herself was Black or Latina or Asian. She had real careers. I remember walking into Toys R Us back when it still existed and actually walking through the Barbie aisle, looking at all the different dolls.

It wasn’t until the movie came out that I realized how many fashion designers partnered with Mattel to create limited edition Barbies. And how many celebrities asked for their own Barbie. I didn’t realize that Barbie’s promotions had changed over the years, including  a campaign in 1985 titled “We Girls Can Do Anything” with this little tagline:

We can dream dreams and make them come true because nothing’s worth doing that we girls can’t do, your moms know it too. We girls can do anything, right Barbie?

All of these changes made an impact on the doll and on the consumer. I was listening to the NPR Politics Podcast on July 7 and I heard something that brought all of the Barbie stuff to my attention.

NPR’s Politics Podcast ends the week with a segment called “Can’t Let It Go,” which focuses on issues of the week that the reporters can’t stop thinking about. Maura Liasson mentioned that she couldn’t let go of the backlash to the Barbie movie in Vietnam.

The hosts discussed this for a moment, then host Miles Parks asked the others if they were going to see the movie. Liasson said, with disdain, that she was not going to go because “my daughter is now 22 years old and I don’t have to.”

To which host Sarah McCammon responded—not defensively, but strongly—like this: “I don’t have a daughter. I’m going to see it anyway.”

That caught my ear. I knew that Maura Liasson was close to my age. (Actually, she’s older.) She responded with the same tone and forcefulness that I would have used if anyone had asked me. It’s essentially, Barbie? Hell, no.

Link to the rest at Kristine Kathryne Rusch

PG isn’t certain whether it’s good marketing or nostalgia for girlhood or something more profound, but a lot of people have been writing about Barbie.

Of course, PG is on the wrong side of the gender divide to be in a position to speculate on the true meaning of Barbie, but he’s interested by how much writing by women of all sorts who might not have much in common with each other are being moved to write about the movie and the zeitgeist of Barbie.

#BookTok Helped Book Sales Soar. How Long Will That Last?

From Publishers Weekly:

Adult fiction has been publishing’s steadiest-selling category for the past 18 months. Unit sales of print adult fiction books were up 8.5% in 2022 over 2021 at outlets that report to Circana BookScan, making it the only category to post an increase last year. In the first six months of 2023, adult fiction was once again the only category to register an increase, with sales up 4.2%. The biggest driver of those gains, of course, has been books that have the backing of BookTok.

But a new analysis by BookScan shows that BookTok’s effect on sales is diminishing. The most notable sign of that softening came in July, when, for the first time, sales from the roughly 180 BookTok authors BookScan follows fell compared to the prior year. The 4.5% July sales dip means that year-to-date sales, which had been up by as much as 38% through May, were up 23% through July. (Total adult fiction unit sales have fallen every week since late June and are now up only 1.4% through August 12.)

BookScan analyst Kristen McLean estimates that monthly BookTok author sales comps for the rest of 2023 will be at or below 2022 levels, and that final sales will be close to the 2022 totals, when the BookTok authors tracked by BookScan sold about 47 million copies. In 2020, the first year BookScan tracked BookTok authors, sales for the group totaled 13 million copies, which then skyrocketed in 2021 to 27 million copies.

BookScan also took a look at how BookTok author sales were faring by examining trends within a July 2021 to July 2023 window. In that comparison, sales of adult authors, after increasing 9% between July 2021 and July 2022, were flat in July 2023 compared to July 2022, while sales of young adult authors were down 1% in July 2023 after increasing 4% between July 2021 and 2022.

McLean explained that BookTok author sales couldn’t continue to increase at the rate they had when the platform started to become a major discovery engine in 2020. She noted that books by BookTok authors are facing some of the same headwinds that the industry in general is, including consumers reading less in the period since Covid restrictions were lifted.

Even if BookTok sales are softening, McLean said, it remains the industry’s most important platform for discovering new writers. “BookTok is really, really important for book discovery,” she emphasized, noting that in today’s social media–driven world BookTok is especially important as a place to find books for younger readers. There is one caveat, however: McLean said not as many new authors are making the type of splash that new authors did in 2021 and 2022.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

Series vs Standalone: Cage Match

From Chuck Wendig:

No, this is not about Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg MMA-fighting one another in some kind of Douchebag Octagon, though I am certainly sending my prayers to an unforgiving universe that both of them kick each other at the exact same time and in that moment they each explode in a rain of money that catches on the wind and is spread to the four corners of the earth, finding the hands of the needy and not the mitts of the rich.

This is about a conversation that kicked off on Bluesky (god I really want to capitalize the S in BlueSky) by author pals like CL Polk, Max Gladstone, Marshall Ryan Maresca, Elizabeth Bear, Ryan Van Loan, and ultimately perhaps by Delilah S. Dawson, who lamented about those books of ours that have fallen to obscurity despite being loved by us, their wayward creators. (I’ll offer briefly my own lamentation: I wish more people read Atlanta Burns. I really liked that one. Anyway.)

I thought I’d offer some brief thoughts on why I’m largely only going to write standalones from here on out, despite really loving the big meaty toothy goodness of writing a series. This is not meant to be a commandment to you, or marching orders of any kind. It’s just my thinking. Why Em Em Vee.

a) Writing a series is depressing. It just is. By the time you’re writing books two and three (or beyond), you’ve seen the diminishing returns, the reduced support, the general “farty slow leak of the balloon as it orbits the room” vibe. And that’s a bummer. This is not the most important reason, but also, in many ways, it absolutely is.

b) Publishers, in my experience, have a rule that sequels/series releases do not get the same level of support as the initial book that leads that series. It was, I think, initially for publishers a way to “buy in” for a number of books that they can then — in theory, not in practice — coast on. Like, oh yay, we supported the first book, that energy will cascade through the next releases. This isn’t true, of course, and I’d argue they should support the later releases more than the earliest one, because you cannot Magical Thinking your way into discoverability or momentum. But generally that’s the rule: they don’t support the followup releases the same, if at all.

c) Every standalone has a new shot at ancillary rights like film/TV, foreign, or other weirder ones (comics, game, etc.). Sequels/series releases, not so much. If you’ve already sold film/TV to the first, you can’t resell on subsequent releases. Foreign sales will not come for later releases if they haven’t bought into the first. That’s not to say there couldn’t be a build-up from series releases. There could be, for international rights! But in practice, not often.

d) Every standalone is a new shot at discoverability. Discoverability remains, in my mind, one of the greatest challenges for writers. It’s just hard to get seen. It’s hard even as a seasoned writer to tell people, hey I have a book out. The Internet is noise, and increasingly messy and loud (and worthless in its integrity of information). With a series, generally that first book is the one that gets the attention — media reviews, trade reviews, that sort of thing. Followups are just less likely to ping that radar. But every standalone has a shot at finding reach. Not to say it’ll get it, but it does have a relatively equal shot at the goal. But it feels troubling when you release, say, Book Three of a Thing, and people say, “oh I didn’t know there was a Book Two.” That is definitely scream-into-a-pillow time.

Link to the rest at terribleminds

The rise of BookTok titles has meant less visibility for other titles, whether they’re longstanding authors or debuts.

From The New Publishing Standard:

“The rise of BookTok titles has meant less visibility for other titles, whether they’re longstanding authors or debuts.”

That’s per a post in The Guardian this weekend that takes yet another look at the BookTok phenomenon, happy to report easy-come quotes, but as ever short on analysis for what it means for the industry.

. . . .

“Groups of teenage girls regularly gather (in Waterstones Piccadilly, London) to buy new books and meet new friends, both discovered on the social media app TikTok.”

. . . .

Caroline Hardman, literary agent at the Hardman & Swainson agency: “It’s driving the appetite for romance and ‘romantasy’ in a really big way, so it’s having a strong effect on what publishers look for too.”

“When traditional publishers try to muscle in on the BookTok market, it never seems to work out quite the same way as an organic, viral recommendation.”

“BookTok is overwhelmingly a factor in Gen Z reading habits. In a poll of more than 2,000 16- to 25-year-olds, almost 59% said that BookTok had helped them discover a passion for reading. BookTok and book influencers significantly influence what choices this audience make about what they read, with 55% of respondents saying they turn to the platform for book recommendations.”

Link to the rest at The New Publishing Standard

Stop the world, I want to get off!

Boo Hoo. Publishers can’t figure out BookTok, so authors who are under contract with clueless publishers have next to zero visibility for the most likely purchasers of the latest .

It’s social media. TikTok will be old news some day, but social media is an important fact of life for this quarter’s revenues if you’re trying to sell to demographic groups who spend a lot of their time and get a lot of information, including information about what books are cool from social media.

BookTok sells way more books than The New York Times does, so all the times various publishers have taken the NYT book review editor to an expensive lunch don’t mean anything anymore. Besides, 95% of teenage girls have never read the New York Times or any other newspaper. They also don’t read print magazines targeted toward teenage girls.

When your readers have moved online, you better get online savvy or hire online savvy in a big hurry. That Mount Holyoke freshman who is an unpaid summer intern probably knows more about social media than the rest of the marketing department combined.

Some of the influencers on TikTok make money by promoting various products. Have your intern find out who they are and what they would charge to hype your next romantasy release and hire a few.

See what happens to sales on Amazon (because the outdated and weird publishing supply chain to book stores will take far too long to report how many books are being sold in bookstores and not returned and BookToker viewers are unlikely to spend a lot of time in bookstores anyway).

If a BookToker sells some books, send more books and more money and repeat. See, social media can be your friend after all.

What it like to be a Disabled Writer?

From Book Riot:

As a writer who lives with chronic illness, I can confirm first-hand that there are many advantages in writing as a career for disabled writers. Working from home has been a huge help in managing my fibromyalgia — being in front of my laptop in my own environment, instead of commuting to an office, means I’m much less tired and helps me avoid triggers for my chronic pain. Removing the stress of a commute (and the inbuilt possibility of train delays or cancellations, as well as the inevitability of being squashed in the middle of a crowd) means that one of the major triggers for my anxiety is no longer a factor in my daily life. Writing allows you to choose the environment you work in, set your own hours, and take breaks when you need to.

There are a huge number of writing programmes that make writing more accessible, such as speech to text software, or assistive technology for people with dyslexia. Looking at the historical literary landscape, there are many famous disabled writers who have had a huge impact on the world of books. Lord Byron had a limb difference, while Rosemary Sutcliff was a wheelchair user as a result of juvenile-onset arthritis. Dostoevsky lived with epilepsy, Octavia E. Butler was dyslexic, and George Bernard Shaw had ADHD. In the modern day, we have writers like wheelchair users Alice Wong and Frances Ryan, Sara Nović, who is Deaf, and Holly Smale, who is autistic. All of these writers, working in a variety of different genres and eras, have changed the landscape of writing and have done so as disabled writers.

But is being a disabled writer easy? Far from it. Even though writing has the advantage of being more accessible than many other kinds of work for people with mobility issues, and the ability to work from home in one’s own space can be a huge advantage for anyone who doesn’t fit the neurotypical mould, this doesn’t mean that there are fewer barriers for disabled people in writing than there are in other fields. While there are many disabled authors, they are still underrepresented, and the writing world still contains a huge number of barriers that affect accessibility. As noted by Claire Wade, the founder of the Society of Authors’ Authors with Disabilities and Chronic Illnesses Network, ‘Being an author can be a lonely and isolating experience. Being an author with a disability or chronic illness is doubly isolating’. Financial barriers also exist — setting up a disability-friendly home office takes cash that many disabled writers may not have, and self-employed writing doesn’t come with the health insurance or job protections that some disabled writers need. However, writing can certainly be a great career path for disabled creatives who want to tell stories, as I learned not only from my own experience, but from talking to several other disabled writers.


While some things about writing make it a great career for disabled people, there are many aspects of the publishing world that are just as inaccessible as other fields. In her article ‘The reality of trying to get your book published as a disabled author’, disabled author Rosemary Richings talks about receiving rejections describing her work, which centres disability, as ‘Not compelling enough for mainstream audiences.’ A survey published in Publishers Weekly showed that 89% of publishing professionals are abled, something that is bound to impact the experience of disabled authors. As with other kinds of marginalisation, the presence of disabled authors can only go so far in ensuring that disability is represented accurately and fairly in literature. If very few publishing professionals have comparable experiences, then there can be an impact not only on the accuracy of how disability is portrayed in books, but also in the experience of the authors working with those publishers.


There is still more work to be done, and publishing would benefit from listening to suggestions from disabled authors on how to improve accessibility. For example, the anonymous author I spoke to had a simple, easy-to-implement suggestion that would end the literal sidelining of people with mobility issues at events: “Arrange 10 minutes for each of the celebrities, editors, agents and ‘people everyone wants to talk to’ to sit in the corners and let everyone come to them…That way the disabled  contingent get to feel part of the party and not on the periphery.” However, despite the ease of making this kind of change, many publishing events are reluctant to change the setups they’ve always had.

Link to the rest at Book Riot

Another Example (Niche Marketing Part 7)

From Kristine Kathryn Rusch:

So, this week, I settled into the trusty writing chair, reviewed what I had on the Grayson novella…and found myself looking up restaurant menus in search of soup (teeth, remember?). I figured I was just distracted, so I went back…and found myself peering at the weather for the next month.

I shut off the wireless, went back to the novella…and found myself organizing the papers on the desk to my left.

Okay, that’s a sign.

I opened a new file, and asked myself what was going on—and my muse had a fist-pounding, tear-streaked, screaming fit about not meeting my July schedule and how she wasn’t feeling like writing a romance since she has no teeth (I have teeth) and how much she admires hardboiled noir fiction and why weren’t we working on finishing the big Fey project?????

I boiled it down further and figured out that what was really going on was that I had planned the Grayson project as a palate cleanser between the third Fey book and the fourth.

Well, that palate has been cleansed, drilled, stitched, and sanitized, thank you. I had promised my muse the Fey in August, and she expected me to deliver.

What does that mean for this post in the blog series? Well, I had thought I would deal with the Santa series. Then I figured maybe I’d poke at Winston & Ruby. (Cat dishes as merch, anyone?)

I had said I would do things that float to the top, and what has floated to the top? The Fey, which is just too big, and frankly, if I make it small as an example here, this post will be filled with spoilers.

So I think I’m going to use this post as an unplanned example of when to leave well enough alone.

My scheduling brain—which comes mostly from my critical voice—had slotted in the Santa Series. I was ready to do the Grayson, if it was short, so that it wouldn’t mess with the Fey.

But, life intervened, the Fey got messed with, and while I know (and love) the new topic for the new Grayson, it’s not what I’m going to write.

I could force myself here to fill out all of the categories that I did in the previous post. I could pretend that I’m going to do the niche marketing on the Santa series.

But I’m not. And I don’t want to confuse the folks at WMG. I probably won’t finish the novella until next year, and by then there will be new things to try and think of, as well as new items that we’ve tested that might be perfect for this series.

I considered using the Holiday Spectacular itself as an example of niche marketing, but we’re not there yet. We’re putting this year’s together, planning the Kickstarter, and figuring out what we want to do there. That won’t hit until October.

It hasn’t floated to the top of my brain yet.


I don’t want to be a full time marketer. I’ll wager you don’t either. If I wanted to figure out how to market all of the product that I have, the effort would take me until January, if not longer. And the staff at WMG would work on nothing else.

If I thought my muse was cranky this past week, I’d hate to see her after six months of no writing and just marketing. Oh, I’m not sure this condo building would still be standing…

So this has turned into a different kind of example than the one I expected. This is how you decide to hold your fire on some marketing project because you already have too much on your plate.

It takes some self-examination (and maybe some soup and a glance at the weather for the next month). It takes scheduling. It takes a realistic look at what you can do in the time you have available to you.

It all sounds well and good to do everything all at once, but none of us can do that. Big corporations can. I was overwhelmed by the amount of promotion I saw on the Barbie movie. One of our casinos was bright pink for the release week and had a Barbie theme throughout.

But that was the tip of the iceberg, or the Malibu Dreamhouse or whatever. For the last half of July, everything was Barbie…on TV, in magazines, online, on Facebook…

And since I was thinking about niche marketing, I wondered how someone could do all of this.

Until I remembered that Mattel and Warner Bros. have been working on this for more than a year—and to them, it’s a niche.


Barbie is but one of Mattel’s toys, and the Barbie movie is but one of Warner Bros. offerings this summer.

All of this Barbie stuff went live in June/July and will slowly disappear. The casino looks like itself again, after the promotion.

That’s niche marketing on a grand scale, with dozens of advertising agencies and maybe hundreds (?) of in-house staff working on all of it.

But I’m a single writer with a small company that I share with my husband. The staff we have works on both of our promotions and WMG’s stuff individually.

We couldn’t do a Barbie-sized niche promotion if we tried.

But we can do promotions like the ones I outlined last week.

I think more important than that, though, is learning how to say no. How to figure out what’s important in August of 2023. What we can reasonably do to augment our various enterprises, rather than harm them.

That’s the discussion I had with my very angry muse this past week. My planning brain told me I had enough time to finish that novella and get to all the cool marketing stuff before the Holiday Spectacular Kickstarter. My muse wanted to finish a big project that I had promised her.

The big project won.

Link to the rest at Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Niche Marketing Part One

From Kristine Katherine Rusch:

Niche marketing has existed since the beginning of marketing. Back in the day, though, companies didn’t call it “niche” marketing. These places marketed to their category or their type.

The idea that something could be marketed to everyone was a mid-20th century idea, bolstered by television. When programs went out to 120 million viewers or more every week, the way that Norman Lear’s shows  did in 1976, the idea of placing an ad on those programs was less niche marketing than trying to reach a percentage of that huge audience.

It wasn’t quite marketing to everyone, because advertisers were targeting Norman Lear shows like Sanford & Son and All in the Family, shows that were known for their liberal points of view. But still, the advertisers were trying to appeal to a broad swath of consumers rather than a select group of people who might fall in love with the product.

Now, appealing to a broad swath of consumers is almost impossible. We don’t have many venues—anywhere in the world—where we can advertise to hundreds of millions on a weekly basis. Here in the United States, the only programming that consistently brings in what’s now considered to be a large viewership are sporting events, and even that’s niche.

Most people here watch American football’s Superbowl, not because of who is playing, but to see the ads. Now, the ads play on YouTube and other venues before the big event, so people don’t even have to watch it.

This past week, I watched a lot of hockey, because the Las Vegas Golden Knights made it to the Stanley Cup Finals. The ads were different than they had been during the regular season. Less Vegas centric, and more product centric—anything from certain types of beer to…well…certain types of beer. The Vegas centric ads were less about local products and casinos and more about online sports betting.

Advertisers were aware that they were appealing to a wider audience, one that now included people in Florida, because Vegas was competing against the Florida Panthers. As a result, we also saw a lot of Disney vacation ads and even Disney movie ads.

It’s the job of many people at advertising agencies to make the decisions about how to market to a wide group of consumers and how to target consumers.

Social media created a frenzy for a certain kind of marketing, particularly by using influencers to target a very well known kind of consumer.

I had to laugh, though, as I went deep into the definitions of niche marketing for this blog series—and it will be a series, as I promised last week.  

Niche marketing is what traditional publishing is doing, and doing wrong.

Now, for that statement to make sense, you have to look at the history post that I put free for everyone on my Patreon page two weeks ago.

Here’s some information from that post that’s relevant to this one:

Sixty years ago, traditional publishing’s marketing was 100% niche marketing, geared at bookstores and book distributors. Eventually, the markets expanded outward to include department and grocery stores. But that was still niche—or in those days, targeted—marketing to a specific subset of businesses.

As I mentioned two weeks ago, traditional publishing is built on a Business to Business model (B2B). You’ll note that the targets above are all other businesses, not consumers. Up until the 1990s, it was the job of regional distributors to know what each bookstore and each grocery store needed for their racks.

I distinctly remember a regional distributor tell me that a certain Canadian fantasy writer was a bestseller in the America South, but that they couldn’t give his books away in Oregon.

That’s niche marketing on a B2B level.

It matters a lot less now to have B2B marketing in books. There are very few brick-and-mortar bookstores left. The online stores have infinite shelf space.

Writers have been relying on the algorithms of those online bookstores to target readers for their books, but the writers don’t know how to go about it. As Amazon and Google ads lose their effectiveness because the European Union (and other places) have policed them for privacy violations, writers have to figure out their own way to market to consumers.

The problem is writers in particular are stuck in the old traditional ways of doing things. Even the pioneers in modern book marketing are relying on the old traditional model.

When you see the gurus talk about marketing, they’re talking about marketing to a large swath of readers, rather than finding the right readers. Even when they’re discussing things like drilling down in Amazon ads to the also-boughts or a reader who might like a different book similar to yours, these gurus are still thinking like traditional publishers.

Ten years ago, I started up a series of newsletters. That was back in the day when writers were gathering 50,000 names on their newsletters with free promotions and giveaways and other gimmicks that would bring in names.

Those gimmicks died down, particularly when writers realized they had to pay for those names of people who signed up for free. Those people wanted the free book or the chance to win an iPad. They didn’t give a rat’s stinky behind about what book that writer promoted two months later, just like I didn’t care about the various kinds of beer pitched to me during the fifth game of the Stanley Cup finals, as Vegas dominated its way to victory. Those ads were wasted on me.

. . . .

Since I designed marketing ten years ago with my reader self in mind, I created different newsletter lists for my different pen names. I also created newsletter lists for my various series. I did the same with websites, although I let some go fallow. (That will change in the next six months as well.)

The gurus jumped all over me, telling me that I was wasting my time and energy and I should combine all of those lists into one giant list.

Well, I have one giant list. It’s for people who like all of my work. That’s the Kristine Kathryn Rusch list. It’s about three times bigger than my biggest list for a series. But if you take all of the pen names and all of the series and combine them, then I have way more names than I do on the Rusch list.

I don’t do that. I’ve promised readers that if they subscribe to, say, the list for my Diving series, they’ll only get news about my Diving series. I don’t bother them with information about any of the other series.

If I look at the weekly stats for my newsletters, I find it’s not uncommon to see someone unsubscribe from the Rusch newsletter and then turn around and subscribe to one of the series newsletters. Why? Because about every third Rusch newsletter, I remind people that they can get information targeted to the series that they’re interested in.

That, my friends, is niche marketing. To consumers. Who are self-selected.

A lot of those gurus who yelled at me are out of business now. They had 50,000 names on their newsletters, but only about 50 of those names were from people who liked their work.

Growing a readership is painstaking work. You tell good stories, let your readers know where they can get more stories like that from you, and ask them to join your newsletter so you can keep them informed about what you do.

You don’t goose the numbers. You let the readers come to you—after they’ve sampled your work.

The definition of niche marketing is this: You promote your products to a specific, well-defined audience. That audience is usually small, but it can be very loyal.

That loyalty will help you build your brand.

Link to the rest at Kristine Katherine Rusch

‘Does it really matter who wrote it?’: the rise of ghostwritten celebrity fiction

From The Guardian:

As long as there have been celebrity memoirs, there have been ghostwriters.

It will have surprised no one to learn that Prince Harry did not in fact sit down at a typewriter and bash out his memoir Spare, even before it was revealed that journalist, memoirist and novelist JR Moehringer was the writer. Katie Price widely acknowledged her ghostwriter, the late Rebecca Farnworth, who wrote not one, not two, but four of Price’s memoirs, while musician Keith Richards’ Life was written by James Fox.

“When a celebrity releases an autobiography, there’s an implicit understanding that they probably didn’t write it,” says novelist Ayisha Malik, who has worked as a ghostwriter.

But what about literature’s latest trend: the celebrity novel? Do the rules that apply to the celebrity memoir remain the same when it comes to celebrity-authored fiction that has been ghostwritten? After all, a memoir is a collection of tales that clearly belong to a specific person – who they are written down by doesn’t matter so much, as long as the experiences themselves are real. But isn’t there a difference between a ghostwritten memoir and a ghostwritten novel?

There have always been famous people who have written fiction, but the early 2020s has seen a trickle turn into a flood. From Richard Osman to Anton Du Beke, via Tom Hanks and Ethan Hawke to Shirley Ballas, it seems there is no celebrity who will turn down the chance to write a novel for adults. The children’s books world is also rife with celebrity authors, including Alesha Dixon, Jamie Oliver and Coleen Rooney.

Some of these celebrity authors, particularly those whose backgrounds are linked to writing in some form or another – from scriptwriting to penning lyrics – do write their own fiction. Among those are Osman, well regarded for writing his cosy crime Thursday Murder Club series, and children’s author and former McFly member Tom Fletcher. But others will employ the services of a ghostwriter.

“Writing fiction uses a different writing muscle to writing memoir,” says ghostwriter Shannon Kyle, who co-founded The Ghostwriters Agency with Teena Lyons. “In some instances the celebrity will come up with a loose plot and the ghostwriter has to work around this. Involvement, I think, varies wildly depending on the celebrity. A tiny minority can write and their work only needs an editor to help shape it, but the majority of people in the world, celebrity or not, cannot write a bestselling novel without a team of people behind them.”

Lyons says the question to start with is whether ghostwriting itself is ethical. “To answer this, you would have to look at the three parties involved: the ghost, the author and the reader,” she says. “From a ghost’s point of view, this is a business transaction, they are selling their skills as a writer, so it is no different from any other business transaction. The same could also be said for the author: they’ve asked the ghost to write what they would have said if they had the time, skill or patience to write it. The place where the lines might get a little blurred is when it comes to the reader. Most people know and accept that the majority of non-fiction is written with the help of ghosts. The genre of celebrity fiction is not so clear cut and therefore readers won’t be so aware of the collaboration.”

Gillian Stern, who has ghosted a number of celebrity memoirs, says that if “a ghostwriter sits with a blank page and doesn’t have any input at all from the celebrity, I think that’s ethically difficult.”

Some celebrities are explicit about their use of a ghostwriter for their books. Farnworth – Price’s memoir writer – also authored nine of the novels released under Price’s name. Malik was credited as a consultant for Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain’s novel The Secret Lives of the Amir Sisters. Although her name wasn’t on the cover, the credit page for the book states it is by “Nadiya Hussain with Ayisha Malik”.

But does this credit accurately portray the division of labour in creating a novel? What exactly is covered by that four-letter word “with”? For The Secret Lives of the Amir Sisters, Malik met with Hussain to brainstorm the baker’s “vision for the novel: the story, the characters, themes etc”.

“I then received a storyboard, which I used as a template to write a book,” says Malik.

Similar brainstorming took place for Strictly Come Dancing judge Ballas’s first novel, Murder on the Dance Floor, which is out in October. Having released a memoir, which was ghostwritten, Ballas found there were a number of stories from her life and career that had been left on the cutting-room floor.

Ballas wanted to put those stories into a novel, but she is clear that her expertise does not lie in writing and that credit has to be given to Sheila McClure. Releasing a novel is not, says Ballas, about being known for writing a book, “because I didn’t write it”.

“I’ve just given the ideas and Sheila brings my ideas life,” says Ballas. “She is the professional, not me.”

The pair’s initial meeting involved McClure listening to Ballas’s stories and some of the areas she wanted to address, including sexism in the dance world. “I went away with that information and came up with a synopsis and a character list and then went back to Shirley,” says McClure. “We did a lot of talking at her kitchen island.” And then, once more details, such as character portraits, were finalised, McClure went away to write, coming back to Ballas for feedback. The former ballroom dancer was very hands on, even if she didn’t do the writing herself.

“I’ve spoken to many people who have written books and they don’t want the real writers, or ghostwriters, to get any credit,” says Ballas. “I think this is a collaboration where all parties concerned should get their share of the credit.”

But Ballas seems to be in the minority when it comes to being open about ghostwriters from the beginning of the process, at least in adult fiction. (In children’s books, celebrities will often be paired with named co-writers: radio presenter Greg James writes his books with Chris Smith, comedian Hamza Arshad’s co-writer is Henry White, singer and television judge Alesha Dixon teamed up with Katy Birchall for a series of books.)

Many celebrities who release ghostwritten fiction will say nothing at all, and it is only a careful scouring of the acknowledgments page and its coded language that hints at the presence of a ghostwriter.

One celebrity who has found himself at the centre of speculation about the authorship of his novel is Rob Rinder, whose The Trial was released recently. In his acknowledgments, he thanks the journalist Emily Fairbairn “for weed-whacking through my cerebral detritus to find an intelligible story”; asked by the Guardian whether Rinder had used a ghostwriter and what Fairbairn’s role was, his publisher Penguin Random House said: “This is Rob’s book based on his personal (albeit fictionalised) experiences at the bar. He’s worked alongside his editors Emily Fairbairn and Emily Griffin to create a compelling novel. To put Rob in the same category as a ‘celebrity ghost-written novel’ with little involvement is unfair and untrue.”

But do readers really care whether or not a novel is written by a celebrity? And should they? Katharine Reeve, senior lecturer practitioner in creative writing and publishing at Anglia Ruskin University, says she doesn’t think “readers want to know about the ins and outs of the multiple layers of editorial and publishing processes involved in a title”.

Malik says that if a reader “enjoys the book, then does it really matter who wrote it?” But, she adds: “There’s an inherent deception in the whole process, especially in an age where the author has become just as important as the writing. When an author talks about the book they’ve supposedly written by themselves, they’re essentially lying to the audience. Generally, I feel people don’t like lies.”

Link to the rest at The Guardian

For publishers, it’s all about the Benjamins.

The Merch-ification of Book Publishing

From Esquire:

to your local bookstore, hitting the library, or logging on to Amazon. For others, however, it involves opening up a thoughtfully designed box that includes a copy of the book, alongside gifted items like a custom tote bag, a scented candle, beauty products, and maybe even a box of tea. If you’re a book influencer, the latter is often the case.

One might say that Sally Rooney started it all when it comes to covetable book merchandise that takes over the internet, though she’d likely reject that attribution. I anxiously awaited the release of Rooney’s latest novel, Beautiful World, Where Are You back in September 2021. I placed my pre-order at my local bookstore because, at the time, I thought that this was all a reader could do. Oh, how wrong I was! Leading up to publication day, I started seeing authors, journalists, and generally cool internet people post about the Beautiful World tote bag and the Beautiful World bucket hat and even the Beautiful World umbrella. Although sometimes, as a writer, I receive an ARC or a promotional bookmark (for these, I am grateful), I knew there was no way I was getting my hands on any of that premium merch. Instead, I showed up at a coffee cart pop-up in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, (sponsored by AirMail and Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, Rooney’s publisher) and won myself a tote bag the old fashioned way—by answering a Rooney-themed trivia question correctly. (“What’s the most commonly consumed beverage in the world?” Tea, of course).

In the months after the book’s release, the tote was often a conversation starter around New York City. When I stopped by a bookstore, sometimes I’d get a comment from a bookseller about the merch frenzy. A few writer friends asked how I managed to get my hands on one, while strangers who didn’t know about the book even commented on its beautiful design. It was a noticeable reaction for a simple canvas bag. In the year and a half since Beautiful World and the merch-induced frenzy of its release, the promotion of books via social media marketing and influencer relations has become even more elaborate. Now, many publicity and marketing campaigns are created with influencers in mind, with TikTok video-worthy PR boxes and branded swag that’s designed to create a social media moment upon a book’s publication. The question, then, isn’t if influencer culture is changing book marketing and publicity, but how.

mma Cline’s latest novel, The Guest, published on May 9. In preparation, Cline’s publisher, Random House Books, distributed advanced reader copies (ARCs) to book influencers, packaged alongside a tube of Supergoop sunscreen, a box of Tate’s Bake Shop cookies, a pair of sunglasses color-coordinated to the book’s cover, and a handful of other goodies, all aptly themed around the novel, which takes place at the end of summer on the East End of Long Island. The influencer mailing also came with a coveted Random House Books tote bag. Marisa Gates, the content creator behind the TikTok account “smallcasualbooktok,” posted a 15-second-long video displaying the contents of the box in February, remarking that The Guest is her most anticipated book of the year. The views, and the enthralled readers in the comments, quickly followed.

“I wish all books came like this,” read one comment. “I have never been more jealous of anyone ever,” read another. Gates, who later posted a full review of the novel in a separate video, never anticipated that her platform would grow to this size, or that she’d receive these types of responses. In fact, she told me that, “as someone who is anti-capitalism and [anti-]overconsumption,” her goal when starting her account was to show how one can build their book collection by using the public library and buying books secondhand. After nearly two years on TikTok, she now has nearly 6,000 followers on the platform. Book publishers frequently pitch her on forthcoming titles to review, which are often sent with accompanying swag, including items customized to reflect a book’s title or cover art, as well as related products from other brands that fit with a book’s theme, e.g. the Tate’s cookies, a brand founded in Southampton, N.Y.

Link to the rest at Esquire

PG has his doubts about how effective videos are for selling books, but is happy to hear/see information that shows videos, separate and apart from other advertising/promotion activities do move the sales needle.

There’s also the platform issue. If ten people view the video, creating it was a waste of time.

Should an author spend substantial time and effort to develop and grow a large online presence as opposed to working on another book? What about paying a successful BookToK influencer to advertise/plug the book?

8 Mistakes You’re Making on Your Author Website

From Writers in the Storm:

The best author websites are often the most simple. You don’t need flashy fonts or expensive designs.

Overcomplicating your website with these pricey add-ons can often lead to the opposite of what you’re expecting: fewer sales.

Here are eight common mistakes authors make on their websites and how to avoid them to get better sales on your book.

1. Your Home Page Doesn’t Have a Goal

Yes, you want to sell books, but is that all?

Speaking events, media attention, online courses you’ve created, an upcoming second book, are all things you might wish to promote on a website.

Consider the toothpaste aisle at your local grocery store. Lots of options, lots of different tubes of toothpaste and you know what? It’s overwhelming.

This is decision paralysis, and it can cost you sales.

If you’ve written non-fiction that’s tethered to you or your business, then your primary goal for the homepage likely won’t be selling your book. The goal is probably to get people to use your company, sign up for your consulting, or book you for speaking.

If your book is fiction, then yes you want to have your book on the homepage, but selling your book from the homepage isn’t the top priority either.

Honestly, when was the last time you bought a book off an author website? Probably not recently unless you personally knew the author or are an extremely avid fan. For this reason, I’m going to suggest having a mailing list sign up front and center on your website.

You’ll convert more consumers into fans, followers, and newsletter subscribers and yes, this will also help convert buyers.

2. Your Text is Too Wordy

I’ve evaluated hundreds of sites and in almost 90% of the cases the reason a site isn’t converting a visitor to a customer is because of the copy.

How do you know if your copy isn’t working? Well, let’s look at some of the biggest issues.

Too much copy: Try to keep your copy between 250 to 100 words, or less if possible.. Make your pages, and your paragraphs, easily digestible and skimmable.

Unfocused copy: Cut right to it and tell your visitors what you have to offer. Be up front about it. Don’t waste precious webpage space on a full paragraph about your dog (maybe unless your book is about your dog). This is your first impression, and those matter.

Requiring the consumer to scroll: Consumers need a really good reason to scroll and even then, it’s pretty iffy. Maybe you have a big banner at the top of your website, and all the books you’ve written scroll along that banner – it’s so pretty, right? Well, sure it is, but now you’re asking potential readers to scroll to get to the good stuff. Sadly, most won’t.

3. Your Site Doesn’t Mimic Retail Sites

Notice how your eye scans the page on popular retail sites like Amazon

If you’re like 99.9% of consumers, you scan websites in a Z fashion. This means that your eye starts in the upper left-hand quadrant (so where your book cover is) then scans the book title and finally lands on the price, before the eye wanders down the page.

So what does this mean for your website?

Well, consider what’s in your upper left-hand quadrant, what’s across the top, and what’s on the right side. If there are no calls to action and nothing incentivizing your consumer to stay longer, learn more or sign up for something that benefits them in some way, then you’ve wasted a very valuable opportunity.

4. Your Site Isn’t Mobile Ready

Your last online purchase was probably made on your phone, right?

Google has even updated its SEO triggers to include mobile optimization. This essentially means if you don’t have a mobile version of your website, you likely won’t come up in search.

Keep in mind that even if you don’t care about being found on Google, non-mobile websites are much harder to read and navigate on a small screen. While it’s important to appease Google, it’s also important to make sure your consumer isn’t sent to something they can’t read or navigate through.

So I always pull up author websites on my phone when I’m doing evaluations, and I encourage you to do the same.

5. You Give Too Many Options

Ideally, you should have only 4-5 choices in your main navigation, and then drop downs under each if you really have a lot to offer people.

Author websites that give consumers too many options at the jump drive away sales. Visitors don’t want options, they want answers.

If you want them to spend time on your site, make your navigation easy, clear, and prioritize their time in smart ways. Don’t give irrelevant options that get them off track or drive them away entirely.

This goes back to decision paralysis. Don’t just promote everything equally and let your buyer choose, tell your buyer what they need.

Link to the rest at Writers in the Storm

Microsoft Designer

From Microsoft:

Creativity is more important to individuals than ever before. This reflects a trend that has added more than 165 million creators to the global creator economy in just the last three years.1 As a result, people demand tools that help them to be both productive and creative. Microsoft 365 strives to empower individuals to achieve great things by constantly evolving our products to meet their changing needs. We continue to demonstrate this commitment with new tools that help unleash creativity and imagination by enabling any type of digital ideation and creation—no professional skills required. Today, we’re excited to announce we’re removing the waitlist and adding an expanded set of features to the Microsoft Designer preview. With new AI technology at the core, Microsoft Designer simplifies the creative journey by helping you get started quickly, augment creative workflows, and overcome creative roadblocks.

From ideation to creation, Microsoft Designer is built to assist you at each stage of the creative process. As we originally announced in October 2022, Microsoft Designer can help quickly create stunning visuals, social media posts, invitations, and more using cutting-edge generative AI technology. Since October, the AI models have steadily improved, and we’ve worked to weave these powerful capabilities throughout the Designer canvas in even more delightful ways while keeping you in control. Moreover, for those moments of inspiration that strike while browsing the web, Designer is one click away within the Microsoft Edge sidebar. The seamless integration of Designer in Edge marks the first step in this journey. We’re excited for future integrations to come.

Spark new ideas and unleash creativity in less time with Microsoft Designer

Designer leverages cutting-edge generative AI technology to assist and empower every person to get started on new ideas, create unique and high-quality graphics in less time, and uplevel content, with or without a background in design.

. . . .

Get started with your ideas in Designer by simply describing what you want. Powered by generative AI technology, get one-of-a-kind images, including accompanying text and visuals, and design suggestions to meet your needs.

Link to the rest at Microsoft and thanks to F. for the tip.

PG generated a video Instagram post for Mrs. PG’s latest book below. PG didn’t try to persuade MS Designer to create its version of the F.O., however, and he didn’t find out how to insert a link to her Amazon book page or make the video run automatically.

After the first video, a series of other spinoffs based on the first one appeared. PG copied and pasted one below.

And another variation.

And another:

And one last Instagram Post:

Niche Marketing Part One

From Kristine Kathryn Rusch:

Niche marketing has existed since the beginning of marketing. Back in the day, though, companies didn’t call it “niche” marketing. These places marketed to their category or their type.

The idea that something could be marketed to everyone was a mid-20th century idea, bolstered by television. When programs went out to 120 million viewers or more every week, the way that Norman Lear’s shows did in 1976, the idea of placing an ad on those programs was less niche marketing than trying to reach a percentage of that huge audience.

It wasn’t quite marketing to everyone, because advertisers were targeting Norman Lear shows like Sanford & Son and All in the Family, shows that were known for their liberal points of view. But still, the advertisers were trying to appeal to a broad swath of consumers rather than a select group of people who might fall in love with the product.

Now, appealing to a broad swath of consumers is almost impossible. We don’t have many venues—anywhere in the world—where we can advertise to hundreds of millions on a weekly basis. Here in the United States, the only programming that consistently brings in what’s now considered to be a large viewership are sporting events, and even that’s niche.

Most people here watch American football’s Superbowl, not because of who is playing, but to see the ads. Now, the ads play on YouTube and other venues before the big event, so people don’t even have to watch it.

This past week, I watched a lot of hockey, because the Las Vegas Golden Knights made it to the Stanley Cup Finals. The ads were different than they had been during the regular season. Less Vegas centric, and more product centric—anything from certain types of beer to…well…certain types of beer. The Vegas centric ads were less about local products and casinos and more about online sports betting.

Advertisers were aware that they were appealing to a wider audience, one that now included people in Florida, because Vegas was competing against the Florida Panthers. As a result, we also saw a lot of Disney vacation ads and even Disney movie ads.

It’s the job of many people at advertising agencies to make the decisions about how to market to a wide group of consumers and how to target consumers.

Social media created a frenzy for a certain kind of marketing, particularly by using influencers to target a very well known kind of consumer.

. . . .

Niche marketing is what traditional publishing is doing, and doing wrong.

Now, for that statement to make sense, you have to look at the history post that I put free for everyone on my Patreon page two weeks ago.

Here’s some information from that post that’s relevant to this one:

Sixty years ago, traditional publishing’s marketing was 100% niche marketing, geared at bookstores and book distributors. Eventually, the markets expanded outward to include department and grocery stores. But that was still niche—or in those days, targeted—marketing to a specific subset of businesses.

As I mentioned two weeks ago, traditional publishing is built on a Business to Business model (B2B). You’ll note that the targets above are all other businesses, not consumers. Up until the 1990s, it was the job of regional distributors to know what each bookstore and each grocery store needed for their racks.

I distinctly remember a regional distributor tell me that a certain Canadian fantasy writer was a bestseller in the America South, but that they couldn’t give his books away in Oregon.

That’s niche marketing on a B2B level.

It matters a lot less now to have B2B marketing in books. There are very few brick-and-mortar bookstores left. The online stores have infinite shelf space.

Writers have been relying on the algorithms of those online bookstores to target readers for their books, but the writers don’t know how to go about it. As Amazon and Google ads lose their effectiveness because the European Union (and other places) have policed them for privacy violations, writers have to figure out their own way to market to consumers.

The problem is writers in particular are stuck in the old traditional ways of doing things. Even the pioneers in modern book marketing are relying on the old traditional model.

When you see the gurus talk about marketing, they’re talking about marketing to a large swath of readers, rather than finding the right readers. Even when they’re discussing things like drilling down in Amazon ads to the also-boughts or a reader who might like a different book similar to yours, these gurus are still thinking like traditional publishers.

Ten years ago, I started up a series of newsletters. That was back in the day when writers were gathering 50,000 names on their newsletters with free promotions and giveaways and other gimmicks that would bring in names.

Those gimmicks died down, particularly when writers realized they had to pay for those names of people who signed up for free. Those people wanted the free book or the chance to win an iPad. They didn’t give a rat’s stinky behind about what book that writer promoted two months later, just like I didn’t care about the various kinds of beer pitched to me during the fifth game of the Stanley Cup finals, as Vegas dominated its way to victory. Those ads were wasted on me.

My series of newsletters still exist. Some of them are small, but they’ve grown organically. I’ll be doing a bit more promotion of the newsletters in the second half of this year. Just an awareness promotion, not an actual “join this list and be entered into a contest for a free iPad” promotion.

My newsletters, which you can find on this website, are segmented in advance. I’m the kind of reader who likes Stephen King’s regular novels but hates his Dark Tower series. When I see an announcement for a Dark Tower book, I ignore it. When I see that he has a new book coming out featuring his mystery characters, I preorder.

Since I designed marketing ten years ago with my reader self in mind, I created different newsletter lists for my different pen names. I also created newsletter lists for my various series. I did the same with websites, although I let some go fallow. (That will change in the next six months as well.)

The gurus jumped all over me, telling me that I was wasting my time and energy and I should combine all of those lists into one giant list.

Well, I have one giant list. It’s for people who like all of my work. That’s the Kristine Kathryn Rusch list. It’s about three times bigger than my biggest list for a series. But if you take all of the pen names and all of the series and combine them, then I have way more names than I do on the Rusch list.

Link to the rest at Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Here’s a link to Kris Rusch’s books. If you like the thoughts Kris shares, you can show your appreciation by checking out her books.

How to Quick Pitch Your Book in a DoorDash World

Anne R. Allen’s Blog… with Ruth Harris

The Tyranny Of The Time Stamp.

We all live under the lash of the digital clock and the tyranny of the time stamp. It’s not just us, it’s everyone everywhere —

Fast food and even faster fashion.

Pro chess players have 2 minutes to make their moves. On each move 12 seconds is added to the time they have remaining on the clock.

A pro tennis player has 25 seconds to serve.

Major league pitchers have 15 seconds to throw a pitch with the bases empty and 20 seconds with a runner on base.

Hitters need to be in the batter’s box with eight seconds on the pitch clock.

And you?

Your Uber And Your Oven Timer

It will take you 5 minutes to read this article about Taylor Swift and 6 minutes to read that article about Ron DeSantis. (How do I know? The NYT now includes an estimated reading time with every article.)

But it doesn’t stop there.

Your oven timer tells you your roast chicken will be done in 8 minutes.

Laundry? Your laundry will be finished in 10 minutes.

And what about your Uber? You don’t have to guess. Your Uber will arrive in 17 minutes.

I don’t know how long it will take you to read this post cuz Anne and I actually love our readers.

Still, you have access to this otherwise vast helpful — but also annoying —trove of info because of the ubiquity of the digital timer.

When Your Elevator Pitch is Too Long

Time counts — yours and theirs — and especially right now.

There are moments — at a hectic, noisy party, running into a former colleague at a football game, at a busy class reunion — when even the elevator pitch is too long.

Still, you’re excited about your book and want to spread the word.

Here is where the Quick Pitch comes to the rescue.

It’s like the Elevator Pitch only shorter. Much shorter.

The Do’s and Don’ts of the Quick Pitch

Sometimes the headline of your blurb (the one you worked so hard on, right?) will be perfect.

If not, you will have to create the ever-handy, indispensable Quick Pitch.

Here’s how —

DO go for the hook and explain the basic concept first, because, according to molecular biologist John Medina of the University of Washington School of Medicine, the human brain requires meaning before details.

When listeners doesn’t understand the basic concept right at the beginning, they have a hard time processing the rest of the information.

Snakes on a plane is a great example.

Here are a few more —

  • Nurse Ratchett meets Rosemary’s Baby.
  • Hannibal Lecter at Beverly Hills High.
  • Legally Blonde as told by John Grisham.
  • Gone With The Wind as written by Mickey Spillane.

DON’T be afraid to be outrageous.

  • An obnoxious TV chef hides from a serial killer at a snooty cotillion for high society debutantes.
  • How about an opposites-attract romance between a plumber and a poet with a stopped-up sink?
  • Or a crass, loud-mouthed politician gets rip roaring drunk and comes to in a Buddhist monastery dedicated to silence, serenity and meditation?

Link to the rest at Anne R. Allen’s Blog… with Ruth Harris

The State Of Being A Published Writer In 2023 Is Really Weird, And A Little Worrisome

From Chuck Wendig: Terribleminds:

So, a few things upfront: first, I am a privileged author who sells well and is able to support himself and his family on writing books. Second, none of this post is to be taken as fact, but rather, as opinion — it relies, quite frankly, on “artisanal data” (aka anecdotes) and also, y’know, vibes. As such, I am, like many, looking at a room through a keyhole and will certainly not be seeing everything.

All that being said —

Being an author — aka, the fancy word for “writer of books” — vibes real weird right now. There is worry on the wind. To be fair, it’s always a little weird. Being a creative person in any realm is, I assume, a chaos reigns situation on the best of days. Nothing is certain. The ground is ever weak beneath our feet. A career as a “writer-of-books” has for me always been in part the strategy of eyeballing the peaks and valleys, and making sure that you’re building the proper ramps and bridges over the gaps before you ramp the car and crash it into a fucking ravine. In this sense, worry is always part of the bargain. Shit could go sideways one of a hundred different ways we can foretell, and another hundred we can’t. Worse, we’re kind of low-hanging fruit in a lot of ways — books are (to my mind, incorrectly) viewed as a luxury, a frippery, a whiff of the ol’ fol-de-rol.

So, what’s bringing the extra worry?

. . . .

Book events are erratic in terms of attendance, and as a result, publishers don’t seem to be using them as much, which means booksellers are asking authors, “Hey, can you tell your publishers to please send authors to us?” If booksellers are hurting, we’re hurting. (I have deeper thoughts about book events and how to make them consistent and amazing, but that’s for a different post, I think.)

Hardcovers are problematic, now? Hardcovers are maybe too expensive, probably — whether that’s inflation or greedflation, I dunno, but your average wallet paid too much for eggs and rent, and that doesn’t leave money for the Fancy Big Book Purchase. Some bookstores carry fewer hardcovers now because of this (also, space issues), and some publishers are committing to fewer hardcover releases and jumping instead to paperback. But if we lose that first step entirely, it shortens the long tail of the book, putting everything on, say, the paperback. (Sidenote, I have said and will always say, I really miss the MMPB format, and wish that format was still a thing. I know I am an OLD MAN YELLING AT CLOUDS, but boy ****** howdy I’d love to see spinner racks of paperbacks again. Put them everywhere! Pharmacies! Tire shops! Pet stores!) To be clear, a lot of books have forgone the hardcover step in the past — but the number seems to be dwindling anew, which to my mind is less than ideal.

Mainstream media is closing doors, not opening them. Once upon a time, a lot of media outlets had (said with naive reverie) coverage devoted to books. Oooh! Ahh! Except, ennh, uh-oh. Some outlets have now shut down all book coverage or have narrowed the aperture so tightly that the only coverage allowed is for the Mega Big Bestsellers. BuzzFeed News, which once upon a time covered book stuff, shut down entirely. And now there’s a surge in news coverage simply being farmed out to “artificial intelligence,” which is to say, clumsy algorithmic plagiaristic aggregators (because there is nothing intelligent about it, and a whole lot that’s artificial, though more on AI later). So, where once we could count a little bit on maybe, maybe getting some breadcrumbs of media coverage… well, the Gulls of Capitalism have gobbled up those crumbs, leaving us naught but an empty plate.

Social media is more or less collapsing. The internet in general is getting less reliable overall, in part due to misinformation, disinformation, and the waves of garbage and glurge barfed forth by various bots and algorithms. Once upon a time, Googling something was a reliable way to learn about it, but now you’ll likely find yourself on a raft floating on a sea of bad information. Social media has become the staging ground for all this shit (and also how, in part, it leeches into the groundwater of the rest of the internet), and as such, social media has started to fall apart like everything else. Twitter is ****, run by a vain maniac who keeps holding up anti-Semitic and anti-trans and anti-vaxxer and other ******like he just opened a bigotry blind bag and wants to show you the “cool thing” he just found, lol, lmao, laughing-crying emoji. The wheels are coming off everything and now attention is fractured across social media. And publishers — long having us and themselves lean very hard on that very same social media — are left with shattered landscape on which to walk. Where do you go to talk about your books? There are places, but attention is now diffuse, and it’s hard to know who’s even going to see it given how engagement is throttled unless you’re paying $8 a month for Twitter Blue, which doesn’t seem to do shit anyway, and also marks you as a chump helping to enrich an *******.

Link to the rest at Chuck Wendig: Terribleminds

Here’s a link to Chuck’s Books

When Your Publisher Gets the Cover Wrong—Very Wrong

From Jane Friedman:

This story starts about eight years ago, with the arrival of a much anticipated email from the publishing house where the first edition of my book, Good Naked: How to Write More, Write Better, and Be Happier, was in production. Wrote the marketing coordinator:

Dear Joni,

Attached is the final version of the cover design for Good Naked, which the designer has asked me to pass along to you. Please note that the white gridlines are watermarks that won’t be present in the finished product…

Even now, years later, I get aftershocks thinking about the first time I opened the attachment and saw that cover design. There, filling my screen, was the image of a naked woman’s body, full-frontal, lingering in the shadows against a smoky backdrop. She was cut off from the neck up and knees down. Against the dark backdrop, two pink circles (representing the Os in the book’s title) drew the eye to the woman’s breasts. Her slender fingers formed a V, framing her pubis. And just below her private parts, spread across her silken thighs, was my book’s subtitle—How to Write More, Write Better, and Be Happier.

In summary, the proposed cover for my book—a cheerful and practical writing guide based on my decades of experience as an author and teacher—depicted a nude, headless woman, beckoning book browsers from the shadows like a back-alley sex worker.

Here, I feel compelled to state that I have nothing against back-alley sex workers. I also will concede that, yes, my writing guide has the word “naked” in its title, but so do a lot of other books, like Naked Statistics, which has a pie chart on its cover. So, when the designer saw the title of my manuscript, what made him think of soft porn? Why did he design a cover better suited to an entirely different type of book, say Fifty Shades of Writing?

I reread the email to make sure I had not misunderstood.

Final version of the cover…Please note that the white gridlines

Could the marketing coordinator who had written this email to me be any more misguided? How could she think that a few barely perceptible gridlines on the enclosed image would be my primary concern, when there was my name—Joni B. Cole—attached to a work suggesting much more for sale than writing advice?

This story comes to mind as I think about feedback during the publishing process. In this situation, I, the author, was the one tasked with providing feedback, despite being told the cover design was “final” and despite my fear of consequences. I worried that my book was already on a tight production schedule. Could the designer refuse to make changes? If I refused his refusal, could the publisher delay my book’s release, or even pull it from their list? Would I end up blacklisted from the industry, a note on my file listing me as unpleasant, uncooperative, and unwilling to do nudity?

All sorts of worries, real and irrational, cluttered my thinking. But, given the situation, I felt like I had no choice but to reject this cover wholesale. I imagined my new release displayed in the creative-writing section of my daughter’s college bookstore. (And she thought I had embarrassed her in the past!) For moral support, I showed the cover to a few friends, seeking their reactions:

“Is this a joke?”

“Whoa! I thought maybe you’d been exaggerating.”

“Is it me, or is that woman about to get busy with herself?”

The only positive comment about the cover came from my friend Dan. “It’s not that bad,” he shrugged. “Maybe it will sell some books.”

Yeah, right, I thought, and maybe people will assume those are my silken thighs. But that doesn’t make it right.

My friend Dan did make a valid point. Helping a book sell is indeed one of the main considerations when designing its cover. Depending on your publishing contract, you may not have much, or any, say in the final design, and that isn’t completely unreasonable.

. . . .

In case you are curious about what happened to that naked woman on the “final” cover of my writing guide, here is the rest of the story. As soon as I saw that image, I called my editor in a state of high dudgeon. As it turns out, he shared my low opinion of the cover choice, but the designer had voted him down. “Don’t sweat it for now,” my editor told me. “Marketing is on your side as well.” This begged the question: Who was this designer with such sway he could override both my editor and the folks in marketing?

Weeks passed. My print date drew near. Each time I checked in on my sex worker, I was told that the designer remained reluctant to remove her from my cover. As a seasoned author, I am not afraid to speak my mind, but I am also not big on ultimatums. “Replace that cover—or me and my book are walking!” For me, it still feels like a miracle when a publisher accepts my work. It was unfathomable to think I would do anything to jeopardize my “forthcoming release,” two words I love dropping into every conversation. But I just couldn’t accept that cover. This felt bigger than a battle over design. This had the stink of misogyny.

Finally, I got word. Fifty Shades of Writing was no more—I would see a new cover option for Good Naked by the end of the day. This news came in the form of an email from the same marketing coordinator who, weeks earlier, had sent along the original design

Link to the rest at Jane Friedman

“More adults use it than Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok or Reddit”: How LinkedIn is increasingly driving content discovery for publishers

From What’s New in Publishing:

At a time when publishers are moving past seeing social media platforms as traffic drivers, and even a major publication like BuzzFeed News shut down because of a sharp decrease in Facebook referral traffic, LinkedIn is giving publishers a reason to smile.

According to AOP’s latest survey, Digital Publishing: Outlook and Priorities for 2023, LinkedIn is currently the leading choice for publishers to drive content discovery.

Unsurprisingly, 44% of B2B publishers are dependent on LinkedIn, investing in the platform to promote their content. And while consumer publishers invest across multiple off-platforms, LinkedIn maintains a leading position, coming in just a hair behind Facebook overall when it comes to driving content discovery.

And while Facebook is still the leading source of referral traffic, its importance as a referrer for news sites has been declining.

“Publishers are coming round to the potential of the platform”

Echobox’s latest white paper on 2023 Social Media Benchmarks also paints a similar picture about LinkedIn’s growth and increase in referral traffic. 

“Year on year, the number of people using LinkedIn grows; and year on year, more publishers are coming round to the potential of the platform, not only for recruitment, but for content distribution,” the report states. 

Link to the rest at What’s New in Publishing

Why You Should Start Promoting Your Writing Before You’re “Ready”

From Jane Friedman:

Years ago, I had a freelance article go viral, or at least modestly viral, racking up over 50,000 Facebook shares. I received my first-ever invitations to appear as a guest on podcasts and even NPR. I also received dozens of friendly and often deeply personal messages from readers, plus a handful of job offers, right out of the blue.

The funniest thing? That piece was published by mistake. It was 2016, and I’d only just begun to freelance for national publications. I emailed a pitch to a certain online publication’s general inbox, AKA its slush pile. Within a few days, an editor got in touch accepting the idea, but then he hated the draft I turned in. It was too essayistic, he said, and I would need to rewrite the piece as a reported story. I turned in a new version a few weeks later, and a long period of radio silence began. I didn’t hear from the editor again until one random, rainy night when I was standing in line at Kroger, waiting for the clerk to drag my Lean Cuisines across the scanner, and my phone pinged with an urgent email.

The piece would be running tomorrow, the editor announced. Could I please review the draft immediately, sign off, and send in a bio?

Still in line at Kroger, I thumbed open the draft, and a thin trickle of terror ran down my back.

The draft he’d attached was the old one—the one he’d hated. I didn’t know whether to mention this or not. By this point, I’d all but given up on any version getting published, period. In the parking lot, I called a friend on the phonewith no preamble, and he advised me to let it ride. Let the piece come out, get the byline, move on.

The next day, I went to check the site for the piece, except I never made it there because my Twitter notifications had blown up, and I had Facebook DMs from radio stations asking if I would come on their shows.

This felt amazing. Exhilarating. Bewildering. In any case, I was so green that I didn’t realize the piece was unusually successful. I thought this level of attention must be what happened every time you write for a larger publication, which is enough to make me laugh now. I’ve never had a piece gain so much traction since. And today, several iterations of the internet later, I honestly wonder if essays even can go viral anymore. Short-form video is so far and away the dominant currency.

The point is: I wasted that viral opportunity in 2016—fully, completely, in the most comprehensive and self-esteem-annihilating sense.

At the time, I did not have an author website. I didn’t have a blog or an email list. All my socials were set to private, and my personal email address took some serious digging to track down. When NPR got in touch, for instance, they had to do it by Facebook DM, and the message went to my junk inbox, which means I almost missed the chance to do an hour of national media. Oof.

Why didn’t I have a basic online presence in place?

I expect the answer is obvious: I was worried what people might think. It was such early days. I’d barely published. What if my old college friends saw me taking myself seriously, how cringe would that be? What if my coworkers or neighbors saw I’d made a website for myself, wouldn’t I seem deluded? Bless her heart, I imagined them saying. How important does she think she is? Look at her spending actual time on LinkedIn!

And so when the chance came to start building a real, meaningful following, I missed it. In my effort to appear nonchalant—which probably wasn’t convincing anyone, anyway—I guaranteed that I would derive as little benefit as possible from publishing articles, from all the work involved, and from all the time and angst it cost me.

Fast forward to 2018, when I was attempting to sell a nonfiction book proposal, and all I could do was tell publishers the piece had hit. I couldn’t speak of an email list, or a Twitter following, or an Instagram account, full stop, much less Instagram followers.

Not coincidentally, my proposal kept getting rejected. One rejection from a major publisher specifically cited my Twitter follower count, still a mere three digits. When I complained to a bestselling friend, he gave it to me straight: “If you’d gotten serious about building a following years ago, you wouldn’t be in this position now,” he said. And he was right.

Link to the rest at Jane Friedman

PG says some people are better-suited for doing social media well than others.

If PG felt he needed help on Twitter or Facebook, but didn’t want to spend the time or lacked the inclination, he would be inclined to hire somebody to draft messages/posts/etc.

For PG, most people on Facebook tend to be boring. Ditto+ on Twitter. For that reason, he seldom signs on. He tends to only spend time on social media he posts on in his differing personas, but he’s not an ambitious young author who wants to be traditionally-published (gag reflex, gag, gag).

Bookwire integrates ChatGPT into its software

From The Bookseller:

Frankfurt-based publishing technology and distribution company Bookwire has integrated ChatGPT as a beta version into its “Bookwire OS – One Solution” software.

The organisation says that with the integration it aims to offer publishers “the latest technology and ensure the best service for the industry”.

During the beta phase, publishers will be able to test the benefits of the artificial intelligence tool for their digital book marketing. As an example, it says ChatGPT can be used to create automated blurbs and social media posts for Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

“As ChatGPT cannot access content from OS but only publicly available information on the internet, the tool is particularly interesting for backlist titles,” Bookwire states. “With just one click, publishers receive tailored texts for various scenarios from everyday publishing life. Publishers are free to decide whether they want to use the tool for their content.

“Bookwire will only submit requests to ChatGPT if the publishers have expressly agreed. Bookwire only provides the technical interface and does not assume any responsibility for the content created by ChatGPT.” It goes on that “it is important to emphasise that ChatGPT in Bookwire OS cannot access content or metadata but only uses publicly accessible information on the internet”.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

Amazon Advertising Analysis Tools

PG has been looking at various tools for analysing Amazon Advertising.

He has tried out a bunch of these types of tools over the years and has not found one that really fits him.

He won’t name names, but the UI on more than one of these tools is pretty crude.

PG has mostly used Excel spreadsheets, but would like to find something that could do a better job of showing him what ads and advertising strategies work and what don’t. He just checked and he has detailed data from 118 advertising campaigns on his Mother of All Excel Spreadsheets.

He’s also looking into various key word generators. Again, he’s tried out more than a few and hasn’t found his true key word love either.

Feel free to share suggestions in the comments, including likes/dislikes about the tools you’ve tried. You can also use the Contact PG link at the top of the blog to share your thoughts and opinions with PG privately.

How to Communicate with Your Designer to Get the Best Book Cover Design

From Anne R. Allen’s Blog… with Ruth Harris:

You can write an award-worthy story, but nobody will find it out if your book cover design doesn’t appeal to the target audience. Book cover design matters, and here’s why:

  • It creates the first impression and proves that the story deserves the readers’ time and money.
  • No advertising campaign is possible without an eye-catching book cover.
  • An attention-grabbing book cover is essential for building your author’s brand.

But how do you get a book cover design that fulfills all its functions? Everything starts with a communication with your designer. The clearer your requirements and expectations are, the better result you’ll get.

In this blog post, you’ll learn five essential steps for effective and successful communication with a book cover designer. Follow them and enjoy the process of creating a book cover that will intrigue the readers and make them want to read your story!

Step 1. Fill in a detailed brief

Every cooperation with a designer starts with a brief. Try to make it as detailed as possible to give the designer an understanding of your book and the hooks in your plot. Here’s what the brief should include:

  • Author’s name and book’s title. You can also include a subtitle, tagline, series name, and book number.
  • Page count and book dimensions. Though a designer can start working without these details, make sure to add them later. 
  • Self-publishing platform. The final cover must meet a particular platform’s standards, otherwise you won’t be able to publish your story.
  • Format. Indicate whether it’s a paperback, hardcover, ebook, or audiobook.
  • Optional elements. You can add a blurb, reviews, and author bio.
  • Genre. Readers have certain expectations about each genre with its unique color palette, imagery, and typography.
  • Brief plot. It will help book cover designer choose images and elements that highlight the hook of your story.
  • Description of the characters. If you prefer a character-based design, the artist will portray the protagonists on the book cover.
  • Settings. Each place and era is characterized by particular objects and symbols that create an authentic atmosphere on a book cover.
  • Series info. Let the artist know if you write series. In this case, designer will create a cover that will serve as the basis for all the parts.
  • References. A few examples of book covers you love will help the designer better understand your vision.

Step 2. Indicate what emotions you want the cover to evoke

We don’t choose books by chance. Instead, we want to feel a particular emotion missing in our everyday lives.

Romantic comedy books attract people who are thirsty for positive and love vibes. Thrillers and horrors appeal to those who want to be intrigued. Fantasy and science fiction stories grab attention if readers search for adventure and unknown worlds.

That is why it is so vital the book appeals to its target audience. So here is a little tip for you. When filling out the brief, specify what emotions you want the book cover to evoke. Based on this information, the designer will select a specific color scheme, images, and typography.

Step 3. Be responsive and cooperate with a cover designer

The best book covers are the result of mutual effort between an author and a designer. Brainstorm different ideas with the designer, share your feedback on the concept, comment on revisions, and pay attention to all the details. 

Be generous with your feedback, and if you have any doubts, changes, requests, or additional information, feel free to share it with your designer as soon as possible. Some designers have limitations in the number of revisions, so the sooner you share all your comments, the better.

Link to the rest at Anne R. Allen’s Blog… with Ruth Harris

Publisher Logos: 7 Amazing Examples To Inspire Your Design 

From The Book Designer:

Publisher logos are a part of the writing process that are often overlooked. However, logos are an integral part of marketing and alerting readers to the credibility behind your book. While logos may seem like a simplistic piece of art, they are much more important than we often realize.

In this article, I discuss what they are, if you should make your own, and provide examples of real ones.

Whether you choose to traditionally publish or self-publish, incorporating a logo with your final manuscript can help you in a myriad of ways. 

Yes, writers often pursue writing because they love the writing part of the creative process. It’s crucial to keep in mind that there are other creative aspects that largely influence your success as an author. Publisher logos are one such aspect. If you’re ready to dive in, let’s get started!

. . . .

What Are Publisher Logos?

Publisher logos are emblems that represent the brand of the publisher. Publisher logos help identify one publisher from the next. They act as an easily recognizable piece of art that categorizes books according to the publisher.

Every book that a publisher puts into the marketplace will have a publisher logo. You will often find publisher logos on the title page of a book and frequently on the book’s spine as well. 

A publisher logo helps people place the book with the publisher with a simple glance at the spine. It acts as a finishing touch to the product. 

Fun fact: One of the first pages of the book, often called a colophon or copyright page, is full of details like:

  • Copyright
  • Publication information 
  • Legal disclaimers 

Back when scribes wrote every copy of every book by hand, they used this section to make little notes about how tough it was to transcribe a text by hand. In fact, the word colophon is actually from Greek via Latin and originally meant “finishing touch.”

With this in mind, the next important question to ask is if you should make your own publisher logo. If you choose to self-publish rather than traditionally publish, should you add your own finishing touch to your book?

Should You Make Your Own?

If you want to give your book the best chance of selling, creating your own publisher logo is an important step in the process. Publisher logos are an important part of marketing. After all, branding is what differentiates your book from all others.

The more detail you put into your author brand, branding your book, and marketing this brand to your potential readers, the better chance you have for selling copies.

Creating your own publisher logo is not as difficult as it may sound. Consider the following options: 

#1 – Use Canva

Canva is a great platform for creating publisher logos and offers both a free and paid version. If you have an eye for graphic design and understand branding, you may want to try your hand at creating your own publisher logo.

#2 – Hirer A Graphic Designer 

If you aren’t as confident in the graphic design space, your best option may be to hire someone to design several publisher logos for you to choose from. Before making the hire, be sure that you do your proper research: ask other writers for feedback on the designers they have used and be sure to look at reviews.

#3 – Go Hybrid 

On the other hand, maybe you  have a vision for the type of publisher logo you want to use but you aren’t quite sure how to manifest it. This is a great opportunity to take advantage of both your own creative bent and the professionalism of a graphic designer.

Simply use Canva or another such platform to create a mock-up of the design you want to use. Next, reach out to designers and ask if they can work with your template. Once you find the right designer for your project, collaborate until you create a logo you love.

Examples Of Real Ones 

Sometimes it helps to see examples of what has been done to inspire your creativity and help you create something new. Of course, we should never copy a previous publisher logo, but it’s perfectly acceptable to draw inspiration from logos. 

#1 – Penguin Press

Penguin Press has a great, simple logo featuring, of course, a penguin! This publisher uses white, black, and orange to create an easily recognizable logo that will fit on books’ spines. 

#2 – Penguin Random House

Penguin Random House, one of the “big five” traditional publishing houses and over Penguin Press, features a very simple publisher logo. In fact, it’s so simple it may appear on-the-nose. However, their logo reinforces their brand name and is one to learn from!

#3 – Victory Publishing

Victory Publishing takes a spin on line art for its logo. An open book, created by what looks like possibly just one line, adds a simplistic spin to what we often recognize as a traditional book logo. A simple font includes the name of the publisher and when it was established (2014). 

#4 – Open Book Publishers 

This publisher breaks the trend by using blue rather than the traditional black color for their logo. An open book comprises the entirety of their logo: Simple, to the point, with hard lines. 

Link to the rest at The Book Designer

Mistborn author says video game publishing is superior to book publishing

From Video Games Chronicle:

Fantasy author Brandon Sanderson has said he thinks the way video games are published is superior to the book publishing process.

In an interview with Esquire (as spotted by PC Gamer), Sanderson was discussing his work routine, and explained that he gives himself two “discretionary hours” at the end of each day to do what he wants before going to bed.

Sanderson said that recently he’s spent a lot of this time playing Elden Ring, with what he calls a “glass cannon build”, which consists of two colossal swords, no shield, no spirit ashes, very light armour and “no pants”, according to his wife.

. . . .

He then went on to explain why he feels that video games do a better job than books when it comes to publishing.

“They let you self-select your price point by getting these really cool items,” he said, referring to the special editions available for numerous games.

Elden Ring, for example, was sold as a Launch Edition (with a poster, art cards and a patch), a Collector’s Edition (with a statue, an art book and a soundtrack), and a Premium Collector’s Edition (which contained everything else plus a replica helmet).

“One thing I think [book] publishing is poorly equipped to deal with right now is letting people pick their price point,” said Sanderson, who is best known for his Mistborn and Stormlight Archive fantasy novels.

Book publishers tend to sell hardcovers and e-books as two separate products, and later release a paperback version if the demand is high enough.

For years, Sanderson said he tried convincing the former president of Macmillan Publishers to release multiple editions of his books at different prices, with leatherbound hardcovers, and bundled with original art, e-books and merchandise.

“They won’t say it, but publishers get really excited by the idea that we can get super-fans to buy three copies of the same book,” he said. “But wouldn’t super-fans be happier if they could buy one really nice edition in all formats? Give them a bundle with the print book and the e-book. Reader-centric ideals will lead to long-term success for the publishing industry.”

Link to the rest at Video Games Chronicle

PG suggests that the people who are running video game companies are a lot smarter about story, design and marketing than book publishers are. Leaps and bounds smarter. Not even in the same universe.

(And people managing video game companies make a lot more money than people managing traditional publishers do.)

Here’s the Elden Ring game Update Trailer:

Here is one person’s (not PG’s) idea of one of the best book trailers ever made. (PG doesn’t think the adjective, “best,” is appropriate when followed by the words, “book trailer.”

4 Pillars of Book Marketing, or How to Sell More Books in Less Time

From Jane Friedman:

When I first started marketing my wife’s books, I thought we needed to be everywhere and do all the things in order to be successful:

  • Facebook ads
  • Amazon ads
  • BookBub ads
  • YouTube ads
  • Promo sites
  • Facebook groups
  • All other social media platforms
  • Newspapers and magazines

The list goes on—and on. The truth of the matter though, is that you don’t need to do even half of what’s on that list.

The do all the things approach likely does more harm than good, especially in the beginning. Sure, further down the line, you can start adding to the list, but even then, don’t feel you need to.

My wife’s books currently earn a healthy six-figure income. And we use two traffic sources:

  • Facebook ads
  • Amazon ads

Now three years into the journey, we are starting to explore other traffic sources so as not to rely so heavily on Facebook and Amazon. But these two platforms alone, along with a small spend on BookBub and promotional sites for launches and promotions, drive the results for us.

. . . .

Marketing for 30–60 minutes per day came about as more of a necessity than anything else; with three children under the age of three in the house, time isn’t something either my wife or I have much of! If you currently have young children or have done so in the past, you’ll know where I’m coming from. So I had to make sure every minute I spent was on the right marketing for us.

Avoiding the shiny objects discussed in Facebook groups, i.e. the latest fads, I identified what was driving results for us and doubled down on them, eliminating everything else.

This is when I (accidentally) identified what I now call the four pillars of book marketing. And, after speaking with many authors over the past couple of years, I believe these four pillars are critical for every author.

Without them, you’ll be spinning your wheels not knowing what to work on and when, or worse, spending your resources on things that don’t move the needle.

So, here’s what you’re going to learn:

  • What the four pillars of book marketing are
  • Why 30–60 minutes per day spent marketing is all you need
  • How and why to craft a strategy for your author business
  • Identifying your lever-moving activities
  • How to plan out your days, weeks, and months for maximum productivity and results

The 4 Pillars of Book Marketing

Some activities in your author business may not be exciting but are essential to keep your business going, such as accounting, taxes, replying to emails, and other admin/auxiliary tasks.

When it comes to marketing and driving book sales, there are really only four pillars that truly matter:

  1. Book product page
  2. Traffic
  3. Audience building
  4. Profit

Book product page

Something I say to authors a lot is: Your book sells your book.

No amount of marketing or advertising is going to sell a poor-quality book.

You could be the best marketer in the world, but if your book itself isn’t up to scratch, isn’t up to the standard it needs to be in today’s world of publishing, it’s not going to sell.

You may be lucky and get a few sales, maybe even a few hundred sales right off the bat. But when the reviews and ratings start coming in, the performance of your marketing is going to decline over time.

This is why, yes, you need to write a stellar book. But you also need to present your book in the best possible light. And you achieve that by creating a superb book product page.

After all, sales don’t happen in your Facebook ads, BookBub ads, Amazon ads, etc. They happen on your book product page. That’s where readers make the decision to buy or not to buy your book.

The key assets of your book product page you need to focus on are:

  • Book cover
  • Book description
  • Pricing
  • Reviews and ratings
  • Look Inside
  • A+ Content, specific to Amazon (optional)

With a compelling and engaging book product page in place, all of your marketing and advertising will perform that much better because your conversions (i.e., sales directly from your ads) will be higher.

And the more sales your ads generate, the more organic sales (sales that come as a result of your Amazon rank) you’ll enjoy.

. . . .

For my wife’s books, we are exclusive to Amazon. Authors who have books in the Top 500 of the Kindle store generate 80–90% of their sales directly as a result of their bestseller rank. These are all, essentially, free sales.

But to achieve a great bestseller rank and enjoy those organic sales, you need to tickle the Amazon algorithm enough to take notice of you, which you do by driving sales through your own marketing and advertising efforts, such as Facebook ads and Amazon ads.

. . . .

Audience building

As an author, your biggest asset is your books. Your next biggest asset is your audience.

I’m not talking about your Twitter followers or Facebook likes. I’m talking about true fans of your books, who you have direct access to through email.

The issue I have with building an audience on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook is that you’re building this audience on rented ground. If your account on one or more of these platforms is suddenly shut down, you would lose your entire audience overnight.

To avoid this situation, by all means, build an audience on these platforms, but, make sure you are de-platforming people by encouraging them to join your email list, which is best achieved through offering them something in return for their email address, such as a short story, a novella, a bonus chapter, or even a full book; this is commonly known as a reader magnet.

With an email list, you can contact your audience at any time (within reason, of course), ask them to buy your new release, leave a review of your book, and let them know about a flash sale you’re running.

When your email list becomes large enough, you can drive a LOT of sales of your new releases and your backlist, and it won’t cost you a penny in advertising. Your world really is your oyster when you have an email list.

Just respect your audience, don’t spam them, provide value (yes, even entertainment is considered value), and share a little or a lot, whatever you’re comfortable with, about yourself, your writing—even Tibbles, your cat, who accompanies you whilst you write!

Remember, you are communicating with real people, so be sure to treat them as such. And ultimately, be your true authentic self.

Link to the rest at Jane Friedman

In Espionage Thrillers, Emotional Intelligence Matters, Too

From Publishers Weekly:

When you work at the CIA, you’re taught to keep everything you do secret. You must be invisible. As a woman who grew up in a patriarchal family, I was not unfamiliar with the imperative. So it felt dicey when I decided to make public that I worked at the CIA and was writing a book on the subject. Being exposed and vulnerable was unsettling, but with this exposure also came freedom.

I started working at the CIA shortly after 9/11. In the years that followed, there was an immediacy and relevance to the counterterrorism mission that is difficult to quantify. In 2005, I was assigned to support the CIA’s mission in Iraq. As a CIA targeting officer, my days were spent hunting elusive high-value targets, which typically meant high-ranking members of a Sunni extremist group.

In 2010, I graduated to hunting targets in the CIA’s Pakistan Afghanistan division—not just in support of the CIA’s capture/kill operations but also targeting for the potential recruitment of sources. These were challenging tasks in my 20s and early 30s—navigating both the war zones in the Middle East and the male-dominated vaults at Langley.

On one trip to the Middle East to debrief a terrorist we were trying to recruit as a source, I was told to let my male counterparts do the talking. This entailed describing me as an “expert from Washington” and a married, pious woman who took her faith very seriously. When I asked the reason for this backstory, my male colleagues said it was because the source had never met an American woman and that his idea of an American woman came from TV and movies.

At first I was appalled, but then I began to understand. This was when the TV show Homeland was wildly popular, in which Claire Danes plays a CIA officer with bipolar disorder who sleeps with the terrorist she is hunting. Similarly, Red Sparrow,starring Jennifer Lawrence as a Russian spy, shows the actor nakedly taunting one of the male trainees to prove that she’s unafraid to use her body in exchange for information. This was a widespread misconception among those inside and outside the agency about women at the CIA that I had to fight against constantly.

But it’s not all Hollywood’s fault. Mata Hari, who was convicted of seducing French men and spying for Germany during WWI, remains one of the most infamous female spies in history. Movies like Zero Dark Thirty staring Jessica Chastain, depicting the decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden, did a much better job, having resisted the temptation to reduce female spies into dominatrices who exchange sex for information.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

3 easy ways to subscribe to your favorite authors online

From ZD Net:

At least once a week, I get emails from readers asking how they can more easily follow my musings. 

Sadly, not all websites are created equal, which means it’s not always that easy to follow or subscribe to a particular writer. 

However, even if a website doesn’t offer an RSS-type or mailing list-type subscription feature, there are ways to keep abreast of what your favorite writers are doing.

Why subscribe?

First, let’s answer this simple question. The main reason to subscribe to your favorite authors is to ensure you don’t miss a word they’ve penned. In this world of constant content, sites tend to publish more and more, which means your favorite author’s posts could get lost in the shuffle. By subscribing to a particular author, you guarantee that you won’t miss out when their work is buried by the deluge of articles.

Another reason to subscribe to your favorite authors is that you can receive all of their updates in a single location. Instead of having to visit all of those websites, you can (in some cases) use a single app to view them all.

. . . .


This is the most reliable means to subscribe to an author. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and works with a reader app to collect all of your RSS feeds into one place. There are two things you must know about using RSS. First, you must install one of the many available apps capable of viewing RSS. Here’s a shortlist of apps to choose from (some of which are free and some have an associated cost):

  • Inoreader.
  • Feedly.
  • NewsBlur.
  • Akregator.
  • Tiny Tiny RSS.
  • FreshRSS.

You will also find that some email clients (such as Claws Mail and Thunderbird) have built-in RSS support.

. . . .

Google is your friend

If those sites do not support RSS, there’s another alternative that can actually serve as a sort of catch-all. Let’s say your favorite writer works for multiple sites and even their own site. Now, let’s say either only one or two of those sites offer RSS, but the others do not. What do you do?

You use Google — not the way that you’re thinking. 

You don’t have to google your favorite author every day. Instead, what you do is create a Google Alert. These alerts will automatically generate emails for you (sent to your Gmail inbox) based on the terms you add to the alert. 

So, you can create a Google Alert for the name of your favorite author and every morning you’ll be treated to an email that collects everything published by them on the previous day. I use this feature quite a bit and have found it to be incredibly reliable.

Link to the rest at ZD Net and thanks to C. for the tip.

Pivot to … Something? The Blurry Future of Podcasting

From The Hollywood Reporter:

As top podcast executives and creators gathered at the Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn for the Hot Pod Summit on Feb. 23, a question seemed to underlie each conversation: As the industry seeks an injection of new energy amid an advertising market correction and creators experiment with formats like video, what really is a podcast these days — and how will people make money?

In various conversations with studio executives and creators, a common refrain were the difficulties of turning a profit on podcasting alone. Even Spotify, which recently revised its podcast leadership (again) and had layoffs and show cancelations in its podcast division, is reevaluating its spending after pouring more than $1 billion into licensing deals and acquisitions in the past few years.

As such, repackaging audio content and seeking out derivatives like film and TV adaptations could be the key to actually making good money in podcasting, especially now that the megadeals of recent years are getting rarer and podcasters are feeling the pressure to seek out more ad dollars from bigger buyers to keep the lights on long term. And all of this isn’t even to acknowledge the creative ambitions around podcasting, where creators want to produce expensive, buzzy narrative projects that can have a tangible impact on policy or public conversation but may have a harder time receiving funding and support compared to the more assured successes of cheaper, always-on chat shows.

But the move toward new formats was hard to ignore, especially as Spotify’s main presence at a summit for podcast executives was about, well, audiobooks. Featuring Nir Zicherman, the co-founder of the podcast hosting service Anchor who now leads up Spotify’s audiobooks business, author Gretchen Rubin and Penguin Random House Audio content executive Dan Zitt, the discussion didn’t avoid the blurring lines between podcasts and audiobooks and the multiple business models that could exist within that mix.

“Everybody’s scared to call a podcast an audiobook and an audiobook a podcast. But if you really squint, it’s harder to differentiate — and that is only accelerating over the course of the next few years,” Zicherman said at the summit, noting that Spotify was seeking to target the “casual listener” with its audiobooks offering.

. . . .

Zitt was even less precious about a delineation between the two. “Why does there have to be a line drawn at all? This is all audio entertainment to some extent. If there are different models for distributing it, which there are, why not just find the best models to distribute it where people get fairly paid?” Zitt said. “I mean, there are podcasts that are basically now taking all 15 episodes, combining them into one, and selling them in the audiobook space, so it’s not really like these things are working independently now.”

But the audiobooks debate paled in comparison to the trend du jour: how video can be incorporated into audio creators’ workflow and boost business for executives. “Last year when we were all in this room, we could not stop talking about Spotify,” The Verge editor Nilay Patel said in a talk with iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group CEO Conal Byrne. “This year, all in this room, we’re all talking about YouTube and video.” 

Despite podcasting being known as an audio medium, there’s been growing interest around the role of video podcasting — a format most notably seeing interest from players like Spotify, where top creators including Alex Cooper (Call Her Daddy) and Emma Chamberlain (Anything Goes) now regularly release video podcasts as part of their exclusive partnerships with the company. For Cooper, her video podcasts focus on her weekly guests who sit down to tape an interview at her West Hollywood studio, though the creator released a documentary-style video on abortion last October; Chamberlain, who only recently joined Spotify, has so far released two static videos of her recording her podcast in front of the mic.

Link to the rest at The Hollywood Reporter

Writing Action-Adventure for Women

From Women Writers, Women’s Books:

Unexpected female main characters have always held a particular fascination for me. I recently watched Enola Holmes with my daughters, and it fed my soul to see a young woman as a smart, resourceful fighter. and not a helpless creature incapable of saving others. Women can be fierce, active participants in the world around them. I write historical action-adventure for exactly this reason.

I have my doctorate degree in physical therapy, and have spent my entire adult life learning about kinesiology. How people move has always fascinated me. We’re trained to examine body language and how that conveys emotion, so naturally, adventure books called to me. Unfortunately, so few feature women in main roles.

Action-adventure is often geared toward a male audience. A hero’s journey is much more solitary, with women often serving the purpose of being the hero’s conquest, with the all-too-common sexualization of women’s bodies. Writing action for women doesn’t always have the goal of power and conquering. For me, these stories focus on family and sisterhood, bonding women and encouraging them to stand up for themselves. How truly refreshing to use a woman’s body for power and strength and courage, rather than to satisfy a man.

Young women have always been a quiet but persistent force in history, but their stories have been largely ignored. I write historical action-adventure to celebrate women working together as an impetus for change. Women are taught far too often to see each other as rivals from a very young age. I think this might be because women together are a force—dangerous even—to the power systems that keep women passive and quiet. I’d like to believe that when women read about trusting each other, supporting each other, and making the right choices for themselves, we can unlearn some of the toxic beliefs we’ve learned.

So much of women’s history has been hidden and washed away and minimized. Once I started searching, I discovered stories of incredible women who broke all expectations. Female acrobatic pilots and Victorian tattoo artists, women kings from the Middle Ages, survivalists and medieval entrepreneurs. Women who take an active role in their destiny and fight for their dreams have always existed, just rarely celebrated.

Maybe I’m tired of the narrative that women can’t be loud and difficult. The idea that women can’t take up space infuriates me. I want to see those daring women and travel on their adventures. I want to watch them fight and battle for what they want.

In my March 30th release, Daughter of the Shadows, 17th century heroine Isabelle mentors under a female Huron warrior, and she in turn teaches others. She fights to save her fellow Protestants from certain death at the direction of her devious husband and Isabelle learns to put her own needs aside to save everyone she cares about. The heart of action-adventure for me is a journey of the body and the mind, driven by empathy and courage.

Action must go beyond the simple pronoun + verb. Movement can show us who a character is by their body language, how they react, what they notice in their environment, and most importantly, what they’re trying to prove. Why are they traveling/fighting/running? If you don’t have an answer for that, the action will feel shallow. Understand their motivation and their adventures will have meaning.

Link to the rest at Women Writers, Women’s Books

PG notes that, once again, the publisher of this book, Black Rose Writing, doesn’t have any preview on Amazon for interested prospective purchasers to examine the first few pages of the book.

As he has mentioned before, PG thinks this is a foolish habit of more than a few publishers. If the author helps promote the book prior to publication, as is the case with this article from Women Writers, Women’s Books, why disable one of the best ways to hook curious readers into preordering by not allowing them to examine a few pages of the book?

Anyone who has spent serious time in a physical bookstore has observed dozens of shoppers open a physical book and read through a few pages while deciding whether to purchase it or not.

Amazon, which has learned a thing or two about selling books online, developed its Look Inside feature to allow shoppers to continue that same book-buying behavior and enjoy it on their various screens.

In this case, Women Writers, Women’s Books, includes a detailed description of the book at the end of the OP, but giving interested viewers an opportunity to check out the actual book could well close the deal for more than a few who planned to take a wait-and-see strategy until they could actually examine what was inside the book to avoid the hassle of trying to return a book they wouldn’t like.

Top Ten Ways to Market Your Book in a Month

From Anne R. Allen’s Blog… with Ruth Harris:

It can be daunting for authors when you have no idea how to market your book, yet it is essential to get your book in front of readers to make it successful. Here are the most important and effective book marketing strategies authors can use to promote their books and reach a wider audience.

How Can You Market Your Book?

Your author platform is a slow build, so keep that in mind. Overall visibility is the key to connecting with readers.

. . . .

Build an Author Platform

The first step in book marketing is building an author platform. This includes creating a website, blog or vlog, social media accounts, and an email list as your basic first steps.

Your website should be the central hub for all your book-related content and should include information about your book, your author bio, blog topics related to your interests, and a way for readers to contact you. 

Social media accounts, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, can be used to engage with readers and share updates about your book (and don’t forget TikTok #BookTok and YouTube #BookTube – video is popular).

An email list is a great way to stay in touch with readers and tell them about upcoming events, book signings, and new releases.

Network with Other Authors and Industry Professionals

Networking with other authors and industry professionals is an important aspect of book marketing. Attending book festivals, writing conferences, and book clubs can be a great way to connect with other authors, publishers, and literary agents. Joining online communities, such as Goodreads, can also be a great way to connect with other authors and readers.

. . . .

Create a Book Trailer

Creating a book trailer is a great way to give readers a taste of your book and build buzz. A book trailer is a short video that can be shared on social media, on your website, and on YouTube. It can be a simple animation or a more elaborate production, but it should be engaging and give readers a sense of what your book is about.

. . . .

Host a Book Launch Party

Hosting a book launch party is a great way to celebrate the release of your book and build buzz. You can invite friends, family, and media members to the event, which can be held at a bookstore, a library, or even your home. The event should be focused on your book, and you should have copies available for purchase and signing.

Zoom became super popular during the COVID-19 period, so be sure to consider an interactive, web-based platform as well. In fact, you can now hold audio-only spaces on Twitter Spaces (mobile-only), Clubhouse, or do video ‘lives’ on Facebook or Instagram.

I did a Twitter Space launch for my seventh book, Broken People, and had several hundred attendees!

Link to the rest at Anne R. Allen’s Blog… with Ruth Harris

The author of the OP is a a female author named Rachel Thompson. PG checked her Amazon Author Page. He was not impressed, but others will disagree.

5 Strategies I Use to Launch New Books in Kindle Unlimited

From BookBub:

The book launch. Whether it’s your first precious baby leaving the nest or number double-digit joining a long line in your series, the launch is always stressful… but each one is also a great opportunity.

If you talk to ten different authors, you’ll likely get ten different launch strategies they feel work best. They may all be right. Genre, time of year, timing after last release, and dozens of other factors play a part. Especially for those of us focused on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited (KU) readers, the biggest needle mover of all is your relevance. The more books you sell, the more The Great Zon promotes you. In the past, Harlan Coben, Colleen Hoover, and Gregg Olsen have been voraciously consumed, so guess what happens when they release a new book? The Zon shows their shiny new cover to everybody.

. . . .

Part I: Reaching Your People


Our golden arrow in the quiver, without question. This is a direct message to Your People who want to know about your latest novel.

I prefer to grow my list as organically as possible, but that’s a choice I employed after reaching a reasonable number of subscribers through newsletter swaps or Bookfunnel events. What’s that number? One man’s floor is another man’s ceiling, so as with all of this, opinions and successes will vary greatly, but mine was 1,000. I spent a long time at the 800-subscriber level as I weeded out the freebie grabbers from past Bookfunnel promos and my organic sign-ups grew. Once I inched across the 1,000 threshold, I became more particular and the list has grown steadily from there.

I send a short newsletter containing only the new book and the next one going on preorder. That’s it. Two calls to action — which some will tell you is one too many, but I get a nice start to the preorders from it, and I don’t think it hurts me in any way.

Screenshot Of Newsletter Promoting A New Release And A Preorder

I resend unopened emails two days later. For my latest release, Anchor Point, I even did a third unopened resend. I average a 50% open rate on my newsletters, and the unopened resend gains another 10%–12% of the original list. The second resend gained another 5% for a total of 68%, which is pretty good I’m told.

Okay, we’ve fired our golden arrow three times and reached 68% of our subscribers, which leaves all the people who dodged the arrow… plus the people who were hit but too busy to remember to buy the book… plus those who love your books, but haven’t or won’t subscribe to a list. So what’s next?

Social Media

Whether we like it or not, part of the business is having a social media presence and building a following. I use Facebook and Instagram. I use them both as they’re linked, and I can post on both at the same time. If they weren’t, I’d probably ignore Instagram. I have a Twitter account and I even tried TikTok for five minutes, but neither gained traction for me and they now sit idle. I know they work well for others, so pick your poison and focus on the outlet where your buying audience spends their time.

Regardless of which platform you use, creating a buildup to your launch can be very effective. I made graphics for 10 days out, seven days, three days, tomorrow, and day of launch (I use Corel Graphics Suite, but Book Brush is a great, affordable option). I’ve used book trailers as part of this, as well as still images capturing the vibe of the book. A catchy teaser line, a few emoji thingies, and with Facebook’s new Ad Manager platform, I can set up everything on a schedule… job done. Sort of.

. . . .

I’m sure some of you know, Facebook is determined not to show Your People anything the algorithm decides might be a promotion. As soon as you add a link to an outside source, forget it — your mum and Auntie Gladys might see it, but very few of your book-buying followers ever will. Putting the link in the first comment gets you a few more eyeballs, but I’ve heard the Facebook algo machine is getting wise to that too.

Link to the rest at BookBub

The State of Social Media (As It Pertains To Writers In Particular)

From Chuck Wendig: Terribleminds:

This is a post about social media, which is the most boring kind of post. But for writers in particular, it’s an essential one. And here is why: we are at a time when traditional media is a *******************. In general, sure, but also, specifically as it relates to book stuff. You’ll find far less book coverage than you used to in years past, in part because — at least, as I understand it — a lot of outlets have reduced the staff dedicated to book-related and publishing-related topics, sometimes cutting down to the bone. Unless you’re in the one percent of authors who sell a WHOLE LOTTA BOOKS or have a book that meets a particular threshold of that hard-to-define “buzz,” (or you’re “someone who knows someone”), you’re not really going to get out there with book announcements or cover reveals or excerpts. You might hit a few end-of-the-year or beginning-of-the-year lists but… most authors don’t, won’t, can’t.

As such, publishers are leaning harder into social media as an avenue to champion books. Thing is, they’ve already leaned pretty pretty hard into social media over the years, and it makes sense: for a long time, social media has seemed like this fertile ground of virality, right? Authors get on, authors make some noise, they get followers, the followers are readers, the readers buy the books, and holy ****, it’s free? Manna from Heaven, and it doesn’t cost the publisher a dime?

One problem: it doesn’t really work like that.

As I’ve noted in the past, social media doesn’t sell books. Okay, fine, it does, but not at the level we all want it to. It moves a copy here, a copy there, ten copies, hopefully more. And that’s good. Because in a sense, every book is a pebble thrown into the pond, and it makes ripples. Ripples (readers new and familiar) reach farther shores, meaning, those readers tell other readers, and that’s a good thing. It’s not some kind of HOLY **** YOUR BOOK HAS GONE VIRAL kinda thing, but it’s a slow and steady and reliable way to earn readership.

But… publishing doesn’t really crave the slow and steady. Some publishers are good with it! Some have a wiser eye and recognize the value of a long tail. But a lot of publishers are just stuffing a catapult full of spaghetti and hoping some of it sticks to some wall, somewhere, anywhere.

I’ve long noted that part of the real value of social media for writers is the community that comes from it — a community not just of readers, but a professional one, too. We’re lonely little weirdos, and it’s nice to have a virtual watercooler-slash-campfire around which to gather. We can hang with other writers, agents, editors, and from there, artists and film people and TV people and comics folk and — well, so on and so forth. A creative community forms from this, not one that’s ever a monoculture, but that’s a good thing. It’s good that it’s this unruly, shapeless thing, because that’s what leads to more interesting friendships. (And community is, ultimately, about these friendships. Fuck anyone who talks about this as if it’s about the “connections.” Said it before, we’ll say it again, but people are not just rungs in a ladder.)

So, does it work this way still?

Link to the rest at Chuck Wendig: Terribleminds

How Author Platform Connects to Author Brand

From Jane Friedman:

Certain words and phrases are bandied about all the time in publishing, but they don’t always make sense. One of the biggest is author platform. You may have attended enough writing seminars and conferences to recognize that even people in publishing aren’t consistently using the term.

How and where authors reach readers: that’s platform. It’s a combination of four factors, and let’s use the TV show Gilmore Girls to help visualize it.

  • Message: an announcement shouted to the citizens of Stars Hollow from the gazebo
  • Target Audience: the Stars Hollow citizens gathered to hear it
  • Platform Tools: the gazebo and the directional signs to it
  • Brand Elements: the gazebo they see and experience
  • If your message and tools are built effectively, those in your target audience will be so invested in your platform, they will personally deliver that message to anyone drinking coffee with Lorelai and Rory at Luke’s Diner.

If you need to run off and watch a few episodes to understand my analogy, I’ll wait here. For those who have already seen the show, let’s start with the author message…

Author message (the announcement from the gazebo)

I know you have something to say. You wrote a book! But your author message is not the subject of that book. Rather, your author message is tied to why you wrote that book.

For instance, my first novel, Carrying Independence, is about a guy hired to help gather the final signatures on the Declaration of Independence. But why I wrote this story has nothing to do with the document. I firmly believe we can learn about ourselves by traveling and engaging in history.

Sure, other authors are also motivated by one or both of those things, but when I couple my belief with my particular brand of humor and unbridled nerdy enthusiasm, my author message becomes intrinsically mine. It becomes my purpose, and one my readers can experience with me. They can #TravelWithAdventure while #ChasingHistories, too.

For some authors, the reason they write is to provide an escape. For others, it may be to debunk faulty thinking. Once you define your message, you must figure out how to share your message.

Target audience (the citizens gathering around the gazebo)

These are the loyal readers most likely to gather around your gazebo (real or virtual). If you are a young adult (YA) author, yet your Twitter feed and primary contacts are moms and librarians, you’re not speaking directly to your readers. Or, as I said to a YA author with this problem, your target audience of teenagers is talking about books in the cafeteria while you’re hanging out in the teachers’ lounge sounding like a boring grown-up. Yes, librarians recommend books, but authors should connect with the bullseye of their target—the people most likely to jam their noses into your book and who will then turn to their friend and say, “You also have to jam your nose into this book.”

Your readers hang out in certain places online and physically. They have other books, magazines, movies, vocabulary, and activities they love (or hate). For example, if you write Georgian romances, your readers are likely women ages 16 to 65 who read Jane Austen, follow Colin Firth, know the difference between corsets and stays, and might be members of Regency societies.

Platform tools (the gazebo and directional signs to it)

If all you have is a gazebo from which to sell your book, your readers will consist of only those citizens who happen to come to the town square. That means you need to think bigger, broader. A platform tool is anything a reader will engage with that comes from you. If they can see it, touch it, or hear it, it’s a platform tool. If you’re a cookbook author or your novel includes recipes in the back, your loyal readers may even taste it!

Tools, like directional signage pointing to the gazebo, are the means by which your target audience finds and engages with you. What are your primary tools? Your book(s), website, and newsletter. You also have social media, advertising, publicity, presentations, and even printed materials such as bookmarks and business cards.

However, not all platform tools are effective at capturing your particular target audience. YA readers are less likely to be on Facebook than on Instagram, for example. And AARP events and retirement communities won’t be ideal places for middle-grade authors to give presentations.

Link to the rest at Jane Friedman

PG never watched The Gilmore Girls, but the OP seemed more than a little saccharin and gimmicky for him. He’ll rely on others to comment on how effective the metaphors in the OP are.

Does Anyone Want to Come to My Book Signing? Please!

From The Wall Street Journal:

Years after she started writing her debut novel, Chelsea Banning settled into Pretty Good Books in Ashtabula, Ohio, on a Saturday in early December for her first author signing.

She waited with neatly stacked paperback copies of her book, “Of Crowns and Legends”—which she calls a King Arthur reimagining that takes place 20 years after his death. She had props, including a crown, a little statue of a knight kneeling and holding a pen, and pictures of friends dressed as her characters, in medieval garb.

The 33-year-old librarian in Girard, Ohio, whose real name is Chelsea Vandergrift Podgorny, was optimistic. Friends in the area said they wanted to stop by and have their books signed, and 37 people responded to the Facebook event listing that they would attend.

During her three-hour signing, just two people showed up.

The next morning, Ms. Banning tweeted to her roughly 100 followers that she was “pretty bummed about it…upset, honestly, and a little embarrassed.” She felt a little sheepish after writing the tweet and planned to remove it, she recalls in an interview. She didn’t want the no-shows to feel bad.

Then, Henry Winkler chimed in. Yes, The Fonz himself.

“That is the beginning,” the star wrote, retweeting her post to his one million followers. “Then word gets out and they come!”

She isn’t sure how, but her online confession had gone viral and was ricocheting around the arts and literary world. Thousands were retweeting it, including big-name authors. She had exposed a truth of the publishing business. Lonely events are a rite of passage for authors.

“Join the club,” Margaret Atwood, author of “The Handmaid’s Tale” and many other books, responded. “I did a signing to which Nobody came, except a guy who wanted to buy some Scotch tape and thought I was the help. :)”

Stephen King—the king of horror himself—jumped in, writing, “Dear Chelsea Banning: When you do your next signing, let us know. We’ll let EVERYBODY know.”

In an interview, Mr. Winkler says Ms. Banning’s tweet struck a familiar chord. In 2003, he held an event at a book store promoting the first installment in the Hank Zipzer children’s book series he wrote with Lin Oliver. It was billed as a reading and a chance to meet Henry Winkler. Six people came. “It doesn’t get easier,” Mr. Winkler says.

Pulitzer Prize-winner Junot Díaz says one person, a friend, attended his first reading as a published author. “I did a reading for my friend and the embarrassed booksellers and called it a win,” he says by email.

Jodi Picoult, who has sold millions of copies of her books, says once, at a signing at her hometown bookstore in Hanover, N.H., she sat alone until a wandering patron needed help finding the bathroom.

Paul Bogaards, who ran publicity campaigns for 30 years at publisher Alfred A. Knopf and now runs his own company, says the in-store author appearance is, in large part, a holdover from a time when they generated local-news coverage. As local news has shrunk, filling seats is harder.

This hasn’t diminished the author’s desire to pitch books in the flesh, Mr. Bogaards says in an email, “if only for one person eating a Twix bar in the front row.”

The same day Ms. Banning signed books to a sparse audience in Ohio, Jon Land was at the Rhode Island Author Expo promoting his new thriller, “Blood Moon,” which he wrote with Heather Graham.

More than 100 area authors spread across a hotel ballroom, waiting at tables laden with books, and lures to entice browsers.

Mr. Land, who has written dozens of books, deployed one of his regular sales tools—free candy. The children come over and take some, he says, and parents feel guilty and buy a book. But the best way to get customers to engage at a signing, he advises, is to bring a child yourself.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal

Quite a long time ago, 50,000 years BA (Before Amazon), while living in a suburb of a mid-sized city, PG attended some book signings featuring popular authors that drew a large crowd.

He doesn’t remember exactly how many channels his television could tune in at that time, but he thinks he could have counted them on one hand. It was between seasons for the local high school team, so a book signing by a famous author was the only thing happening other than reruns of The Cosby Show.

In the somewhat distant past, PG participated in some book signings. Even back when, flop-sweat is not a comfortable experience.

If an author’s time is worth anything, forgetting about book signings is the only rational decision.

Open Road Media: A New Version of Its Marketing Offer

From Publishing Perspectives:

Our Publishing Perspectives readers may remember our announcement in July that New York City-based Open Road Integrated Media had begun offering a service beyond its core “Ignition” marketing plan called Open Road Activation.

Late in the day on Thursday (January 11), the company messaged the news media that it has opened its new year with an updated version of the new offer called “Activation 2.0,” which is being referred to as a “redesign” of the July “Activation” product.

Although Open Road is seated in the States, the service is open to international publishers, with the one caveat that most of its consumer base—which by last summer reportedly comprised  some 3 million users—reads in English. In July, we were old that publishers in the United Kingdom were utilizing the company’s original “Ignition” program quite regularly, and Open Road’s personnel in the past have been at London Book Fair (this year, April 18 to 20).

The summer release of “Activation” stepped up the original “Ignition” offering to allow publishers to choose D2C (direct to consumer) components both from the company’s existing newsletters and from those newsletters’ associated sites. Open Road says its visitors to those sites are providing 1.2 million monthly page views, with stickiness at close to four minutes for the average visit. “Classic mystery” seems to be the main draw, followed by social and military history. And overall, the Open Road marketing scheme has developed as one of the most advanced uses of consumer data for retail outreach based in an independent company, as opposed to being seated in a given publishing house’s own marketing offices.

Descriptive text about “Activation 2.0” indicates that its key advantage is segmentation of the user base on the receiving end of Open Road’s marketing pieces. “Countless” specific segments, the company’s material says, “are available to be engaged, from readers of classic mystery, cyberpunk, and military history to vegan cooking, middle grade, Christian nonfiction, book club reads,” and more. 

Examples of what Open Road calls “hyper-specific segments” include neuroscience, birds of prey, ancient Greek history, mixed martial arts, and “Parisian enthusiast.” 

What may be of interest here is that Amazon reportedly has, since the autumn, appeared to be limiting to three the number of categories in which a book might be ranked. A publisher might think of “Activation 2.0’s” segmentation as a way to reach at least the Open Road consumer marketing base with a broader range of categories and “hyper-specific segments.”

Open Road says that the first iteration of “Activation” has been used by “Big Five imprints [including] Doubleday, Simon & Schuster, Harper, Flatiron, St. Martin’s, Tor, and Knopf, as well as independent  publishers and university presses [including] Sourcebooks, Astra Publishing House, Hearst Books, Blackstone, Soho  Press, and Yale University Press.”

What may be just as interesting to publishers as categorization in “Activation 2.0” is a new feature that Open Road says allows choices of specific points of emphasis such as “title awareness” and the less concise phrase “performance plus.” 

Activation 2.0 also offers email placements “enabling publishers to build or sustain momentum on individual titles by slotting them into targeted ‘Spotlight’ emails featuring 10 titles each.”

There are also options in display advertising in the company’s D2C newsletters–with an option of similar ad placement on each newsletter’s associated site. On those associated sites, publishers can also consider co-branded home-page takeovers, certainly one of the most successful techniques for annoying one’s users yet developed in the digital world, guaranteeing at least momentary visibility while the cursing user searches for the “X” to close the takeover.

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

PG’s reaction is that there are a lot of much bigger businesses that provide much better segmenting that he thinks is going to be delivered by the company mentioned in the OP.

Amazon, Google and Facebook come immediately to mind. PG would be happy to hear from any others who know more about what Open Road is actually doing.

PG went to their home page and was massively underwhelmed. He couldn’t find any free online analytics site that could tell him anything about how many people go to/search for the company.

The Book Community Thought This Author Died. Now, It Seems Her Suicide Was a Hoax.

From Rolling Stone:

NOTHING GOOD STARTS in a Facebook group. The Ward, a reading group founded by Tennessee-based author Susan Meachen, largely went dormant after a September 2020 post — supposedly written by her daughter — was shared from her page announcing that she had died by suicide following bullying and harassment from members of the book community. Now, more than two years later, Meachen has decided that she wants her life back and returned to Facebook to reveal that she was never actually dead in the first place.

“I debated on how to do this a million times and still not sure if it’s right or not,” Meachen wrote in her back-from-the-dead return to the group on Jan. 2. “My family did what they thought was best for me and I can’t fault them for it. I almost died again at my own hand and they had to go through all that hell again. Returning to The Ward doesn’t mean much but I am in a good place now and I am hoping to write again. Let the fun begin.” (Meachen did not immediately return Rolling Stone‘s request for comment.)

Fun isn’t exactly the word that springs to mind for those in the book community who had befriended Meachen and were shocked by her death. “We grieved for the loss of the woman we considered a friend,” wrote Samantha A. Cole, a fellow author who regularly chatted with Meachen online, in a receipt-filled post exposing the details behind the suicide hoax. “I personally was harassed by another author who loves to create drama, claiming I was one of the authors who bullied Susan and drove her to suicide.”

Cole said that, after Meachen’s alleged death, she beat herself up over not having reached out sooner, wondering if it might have made a difference. Having lost other people in her life to suicide, it weighed heavily on her. But she got a second chance to reach out to Meachen after she commented on the author’s comeback post in The Ward asking if the entire story had been made up, only to be invited to message her privately instead.

Cole’s first question, shared in screenshots, drew from her disbelief and confusion: “What is going on????” Meachen wrote back an hour later with less urgency. “Nothing,” she responded, as if she didn’t just spend two years pretending to be dead. “I simply want my life back. My family was in a bad place and did what they thought was best for me.”

Link to the rest at Rolling Stone and thanks to T. for the tip.

PG suggests that, even if you’ve always wanted to see an article in Rolling Stone about yourself, setting up a fake suicide is not the best way to do it.

This applies to authors and everyone else.

The Author-Creator Marketing Playbook

From Jane Friedman:

During my first full year of publishing, I made almost $200. I had three books in my catalogue and dabbled in Amazon Ads. In 2019, I made $412 publishing three more books. In 2020, I had my breakout year, generating $7,500 in revenue for my business. I was ecstatic. I had several months where I made $1,000 a row and I published six new books that year.

But something darker happened.

Almost all of that $7,500 in revenue went to Facebook and Amazon Ads. In fact, I spent $2,000 out of pocket just testing ads to get things working for my series. And once I got them working, I often had to spend 20+ hours a week managing them.

It was stressful—anxiety-inducing, in fact. At the time I thought it was the only way I could make it as an author. And I was willing to do whatever it took to turn my dreams into reality.

That was until I burned out. Suddenly it felt like I was writing more just to hit my next release than because I had a story to tell. I started to miss my deadlines, until I ultimately stopped midway through the next draft of my book.

But something else happened during this time, another algorithmic force leading me to my burnout. It was YouTube. I had started uploading vlogs to my YouTube channel in September 2020. By November 2020, I had nearly half a million views on the channel alone during that month and made almost $2,000 in Google AdSense. I also made several hundred dollars selling my books with no ads and no calls-to-action during my videos.

What followed was the greatest rollercoaster I have ever experienced. I started creating content to try and garner as many views as possible. I garnered 2 million views on my first two weeks on TikTok and started traveling the country to meet celebrities, taking the third door to access opportunities that ranged from meeting Elon Musk’s executive assistant to kayaking to the back of Joe Rogan’s house and on accident meeting one of the largest concert promoters in the world. I also started live streaming for a start-up platform run by Sean Parker, creating 1,000 hours of content on the platform.

This sounds like everything was going splendidly. But in reality, I didn’t have a broader creator strategy. I was simply a content producer, chasing the algorithmic highs and feeling despondent and, at times, worthless during the algorithmic lows.

. . . .

Pillar #1: Create where your readers hang out, but not everywhere your readers hang out.

For the longest time, I felt a pressure to be creating in “hot spaces” where everyone was getting all these sales in. But I realized that if I don’t typically consume content there, then there is a low-chance that I’ll enjoy creating there.

Some authors, particularly romance authors, may be reading this and saying to themselves, “I hate TikTok, but my readers love it!” That is a fair statement. But creating content where your readers hang out does not mean creating content everywhere. Romance readers have formed massive communities on virtually every social platform and consume content in almost every format. Specific subgenres, of course, are more predominant in specific spaces. But I would imagine that a podcast directed to a specific audience of romance readers could do really well, such as Heaving Bosoms, which has over 700 people paying them monthly for exclusive access to some episodes in their subscription program.

The key here is that although many target audiences exist in multiple locations on the internet, it is rare that an author has the bandwidth at the early stages in their career to create in multiple formats. Thus, it’s essential to pick a content format and continue leveling up and growing your audience until, if ever, you’d like to expand into other formats.

. . . .

Pillar #2: Create what you love, but have it be integral to your world.

If you take nothing else away from these pillars, remember to always make it fun. The idea of being an author-creator when marketing your books is to make the discovery process fun, not something that feels like a chore.

Creating content should be creative, something that enhances the worlds you are building instead of being a distraction. And if done correctly, it can be a fertile testing ground to see what new story ideas, characters, and problems your readers are most interested in.

However, many authors can sometimes have fun creating content that is, well, maybe not related to things their target audience is interested in. Or even more nefarious, things that their target audience is interested in, but doesn’t help authors build their unique brand.

The Tilt is a publication all about the creator economy started by Joe Pulizzi, one of the foremost experts on content marketing. The reason it’s called the Tilt is because each creator has to have a unique tilt or edge, if you will, over the competition in order to succeed.

What does this mean?

Well, let’s say you love creating true crime podcasts and you are a thriller author. Your true crime podcasts are maybe specifically focused on serial killers in the Southern United States. You have niched down your audience pretty well here and are likely appealing to law enforcement as well as true crime junkies in the South.

Yet, even with that niche there are dozens of podcasts that regularly focus on topics for this audience, such as Southern Fried True Crime. In order to succeed, you need to be able to do something different, whether that is combining two existing styles you love, niching down even further, or having some unique value-add that no one else in your market is providing.

Ideally, this content tilt is baked into the value proposition of your larger brand. The same things your readers will love about the things you write are hopefully the same kinds of things that can separate you from the pack and get people interested in your content. Tilting authentically is the key to being able to build a sustainable business as an author-creator: building a world that is true to you, has the potential to evolve and grow with time, and has many entry points for new fans, all centered around your stories.

. . . .

Pillar #3: Create how you want. Seriously, you write the rules.

I’m here to give you permission to post whenever you damn want. In the world of the creator economy, it’s all about building your dream. Not listening to the cookie-cutter advice of gurus that at times don’t have your best interests at heart. With that said, with each content format in the paragraphs below, I’ll detail best practices and why it’s probably useful to post short-form content more often than, say, podcasts for the purpose of discovery.

However, even the best practices are just guidelines. They don’t stipulate how often you need to post to tickle a specific algorithm just right. Instead, I’m focused on the psychology of cold audiences who discover your content and how to convert them into warmer leads (aka fans) that begin to look forward to your content. It’s this slow building flywheel that can lead to exponential growth due to cumulative effects.

Link to the rest at Jane Friedman

How Will BookTok Change Publishing in 2023?

From Rolling Stone:

RIGHT NOW, ONE of the biggest hubs in the book world isn’t a city, or a Manhattan high-rise, or even one particular publishing house — it’s TikTok.

BookTok, a TikTok community of readers, reviewers, and authors, has redefined publishing’s relationship with book content creators. Since its rise in popularity in 2020, the group has been directly responsible for millions of book sales, hundreds of trending conversations around new releases, and an organic word-of-mouth marketing structure that has publishing entities desperate to get a piece of the action. White romance authors in particular, like Ali Hazlewood, Sarah J. Mass, and Taylor Jenkins Reid, have become (or remained) industry giants because of BookTok support — in 2022, BookTok darling Colleen Hoover even outsold the Bible by at least 3 million units. But a new wave of growth from BookTok has seen less prioritized issues like compensation, diversity, and collaboration with publishers become major sticking points. Yet BookTok creators say that while the community continues to have a bigger footprint in the book world, a failure to diversify could mean its eventual downfall.

. . . .

Marines Alvarez, a creator who has been focused on the book world for almost 12 years, describes BookTok as a wholly unique venture for book creators — one that uses discoverability and community interactions to set itself apart from other iterations like Bookstagram and BookTube.

“It’s so interesting to be involved in a community that’s more or less nascent,” Marines says. “[BookTok] is growing up a bit in terms of the discourse and conversations that we’re having, about like consumership and responsibility to an audience. It’s really exciting to see a community find its feet in that regard.”

While BookTok as a community has been around for a couple of years, it’s only recently that the group has been recognized for its tangible impact on publishing. In November, FutureBook, a publishing trade conference, named BookTook as its Person of the Year, noting that creators’ passion for books has directly impacted millions in sales. Kevin Norman, a creator who focuses on LGBTQ+ works, says a staying power of BookTok is that it’s easy for creators to tailor their content to a specific niche or subset of books — which can often push already-published books back on top of best-seller lists.

Link to the rest at Rolling Stone

A Judge Said Movie Studios Can Be Sued For False Advertising In Trailers After A Pair Of Ana De Armas Fans Filed A Federal Lawsuit

From BuzzFeed News:

Two Ana de Armas fans can continue their lawsuit against Universal Pictures after a federal judge ruled Tuesday that movie studios can be sued over false advertising in film trailers.

Conor Woulfe, who is from Maryland, and Peter Michael Rosza of San Diego County, California, each paid $3.99 to rent Yesterday on Amazon Prime because de Armas appeared in the film’s trailer. They were disappointed to find she wasn’t in the film and have since January been pursuing a $5 million lawsuit as representatives of a class of movie customers who were deceived by the trailer.

On Tuesday, they cleared a hurdle when US District Judge Stephen Wilson issued an order rejecting Universal’s attempt to dismiss the entire case.

Universal had argued that the lawsuit should be thrown out because movie trailers should be protected under the First Amendment. They called the trailer an “artistic, expressive work” that conveys the theme of the film — not simply a commercial that would be covered by rules against false advertising.

“What is obvious about trailers generally and the Yesterday trailer in particular: they are expressive works in their own right and may not be relegated to a class of ‘purely commercial’ speech that receives watered-down First Amendment protection,” lawyers for Universal argued in a motion.

Lawyers for Woulfe and Rosza, meanwhile, said the two have never seen an actor present in a trailer who wasn’t also in the film. The judge allowed their allegations that Universal had violated California’s false advertising and unfair competition laws to continue to move forward in court.

. . . .

Yesterday, which was released in 2019, follows a struggling musician (Himesh Patel) who wakes up in an alternate reality where the Beatles never existed.

De Armas was initially set to have a major role in the film as part of a love triangle involving Patel and Lily James, but writer Richard Curtis told Cinemablend that she was cut out after test audiences expressed distaste for Patel ​​straying away from James.

Link to the rest at BuzzFeed News

One lesson for indie authors is to accurately depict what your book is about in your book description. This definitely doesn’t require that your book description be boring, but don’t promise what your book doesn’t deliver.

So PG doesn’t frighten anyone, in the OP, the idiot promoters included a actress who is evidently some sort of star in the advertising for the movie when the actress made no appearance in the final produce being advertised.

This wasn’t what courts often call “mere puffery” in advertising, e.g., “You’ll be shocked at the surprise ending,” when more than one reader can predict how the book will end.

Digitizing ‘Christmas Books’ at the UK’s Cambridge University Press

From Public Books:

In an interesting point of irony, Cambridge University Press’ 34 “Christmas Books” series was started by university printer Walter Lewis in the early 1930s, in hopes of showing off the press’ printing and design skills as the British economy slowed. And now, just in time for another economic downturn—as well as for the holiday season, of course—these highly specialized editions, “privately printed at the University Press,” have been digitized by the press to preserve a remarkable collection of limited editions.

These are not Christmas books in the sense of titles themed on Christmas. They’re called the press’ Christmas books because they were given to industry associates and customers at Christmas, in no small part as promotional pieces.

In most cases, only some 100 copies were made of a single title, and all of them were given away to “friends in printing and publishing.”

This meant that Cambridge University Press itself didn’t have a complete set of these rare editions, the last of which was produced in 1973. Starting in 2014, the press has been working to pull together a complete set of its own, drawing on “a mixture of donations and detective work.”

Ros Grooms, the press’ archivist says, “The books were published for a long time, with a pause for the Second World War, and demonstrate real excellence in the way they are put together. They aren’t showy, but all the signs of quality in printing, typography and design would have been obvious to the people receiving them.

“Great care was taken over the books but their secret was really in the experience and skill of the press’ compositors and printers. People were chosen to work on the books in recognition of their skill and they worked together to produce something really special.

“Looking through the pages, it’s easy to imagine the pleasure that these little books would have given to someone opening one for the first time at Christmas.”

In most cases, the books have a connection with Cambridge. Brooke Crutchley Walter Lewis as university printer in 1946, and continued the tradition of producing the books which, by then, had gathered a reputation. About a third of them reprint historical texts and most, of course, are related to printing and publishing since the intent was to demonstrate the company’s capabilities.

Gavin Swanson, who last year left the press’ academic publishing group—and now is editorial development manager in the journals division—was instrumental in searching out the books.

“Initially, I got a list of the books that we didn’t have and used that,” he says, “together with what was essentially a catalogue, containing a couple of paragraphs of description for each of the Christmas books, their titles and a list of illustrations.

“I would trawl through the sites of book dealers to find the missing volumes and finally came up with an original copy of the last book we needed, 1939’s From London to Cambridge by Train, just before I left the press, so I snaffled it as quickly as I could and that thankfully completed the collection.”

“These are an important piece of our heritage,” Grooms says, “and we are very grateful to Gavin for his hard work and to all those who kindly donated what must have been much-loved items, to allow us to preserve them for many Christmases to come.”

The press’ digital content team made archive-quality photos of the books and their slipcases that were made for many of the books.

Some of the volumes were photographed on a conservation cradle at higher resolution than others, including the “lift-the-flaps” Bridges on the Backs pictured at the top of this article.

Johanna Ward from the digital content team is quoted, saying, “The majority are robust enough to be digitized on a book cradle, which supports the book to allow for the high-resolution digitization of two pages at once, while not applying much pressure to its structure. … Archival photography is based on specific color calibration methods to faithfully reproduce the book as seen. We’re also digitizing at a ratio of 1:1 and so the image should also be a faithful reproduction of the size of the book.”

She points out that a file from such work isn’t as large as it might have been because these books aren’t large.

. . . .

Publishing Perspectives has asked Cambridge University Press how to see the digitized collection of Christmas books, and unfortunately the archive has yet to post the collection to its site, although they have approached the news media for coverage.

We’ve asked the company to let us know when it’s available, and we’ll revisit and update this story when they have the collection ready for viewing on the archive, perhaps on a Christmas Future.

Link to the rest at Public Books

From the murky attics of PG’s mind, an old advertising slogan appeared as he considered the inability of the Cambridge University Press’ to provide a peek at their Christmas book collection, despite of the huge number of books purchased as holiday gifts during this season and the attractiveness of the idea of giving someone a book from the Cambridge University Press Christmas book collection.

(Yes, PG realizes that the previous sentence/paragraph is overlong, but he was thinking of a 40+ year old advertising campaign for Paul Masson wine. The campaign featured Orson Wells and his delivery of the company’s slogan was epic. “We will sell no wine before its time.”

Blurb Matters: A Quiet Manifesto

From Jane Friedman:

Say he wants a blurb, he wants it bad. He’ll give you less than a week to read a rushed PDF,  and the thing is, you hardly know him. Decades before, maybe, and as a favor to his editor, you wrote a boosting paragraph after his first book launched, but you’re pretty sure that doesn’t mean you’re friends.

Still, his need is urgent—you feel the pulse of desperation beneath the skin of his email. You say yes when you shouldn’t. You claw at your schedule, make reading time. You’re only a few grudging chapters in when you know the trouble you’re in. The blurb-seeker’s book is self-absorbed, self-pitying, self-aggrandizing, without beauty, and to protect your own name, to defend your own ethos, you must step aside. You must let the author know, and soon. You must write the kindest possible declination, and swallowing hard, you do.

Maybe this is hypothetical. Maybe it is true. But let’s continue on. Let’s say your no is not well received. Let’s say you become—increasingly—the object of the blurb-seeker’s ire. Let’s say the whole affair becomes so preposterous—your refusal to engage escalating his anger, his anger escalating into threats—that when you finally shut his emails down and step away, you’re left wondering what this thing is anyway, this thing we call the blurb?

A blurb is an advert, a puff, a commendation, a gloss, according to various dictionary definitions. Or, in the words of Rachel Donadio, writing years ago for The New York Times, blurbs “represent a tangled mass of friendships, rivalries, favors traded and debts repaid, not always in good faith.” Indeed. But how are we to manage them? What place are they to have in our literary lives? Is a blurb an obligation? An apprehension? A price? A prize?

I have, over the course of my writing life, done a lousy job of taking a definitive stance on blurbs. I have been inconsistent and hypocritical, grateful and suspicious, honored and unsure, careful and compromised. I have blurbed books I’ve loved for people I’ve loved and been humbled by the pleasure. I have said no when I should have said yes (I am so sorry). I’ve written blurbs for books I didn’t fully understand, and I’ve written blurbs that were elbowed out of use on account of the blurbs proffered by writers more sexy and glam than I am (but then why was I asked in the first place?). I have died a thousand deaths asking for blurbs for books of my own, then opened emails from dear friends saying, Please, ask me for a blurb. Then received the kindest blurb. Then stood in my office and looked all around—incapable of locating just the right words to express my gratitude.

I have been fazed by the giving and fazed by the taking, and I have been—equally—shamed.

Link to the rest at Jane Friedman

7 Ways Public Readings Can Help Your Writing

From Writer Unboxed:

It is 2002 and I am sitting in a packed audience at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference listening to Margot Livesey read the first chapter from her work-in-progress, Banishing Verona. We are almost 30 minutes in, and although that’s long for a public reading, I am entranced.

So far, we’ve learned that a pregnant woman has shown up at the door of a home being renovated by Zeke, an autistic handyman. Claiming to be the niece of the house owner, this woman charms her way into the house, dons a pair of coveralls to earn Zeke’s trust, and eventually shares his bed. He has gotten up early to go out and get them breakfast, and because he has given her his only key, he has to climb back in through a window. As he returns to the bedroom, he decides that however stupid it will sound at this point, he is going to ask her name.

Livesey has me. I’m hanging on every word.

Then she reads:

The bed was unmade, empty and cold to the touch, the suitcases gone. At the foot of the bed the rug was rolled up, and spread-eagled on the bare wooden boards lay the coveralls, neatly buttoned, arms and legs stretched wide, like an empty person. Only when he knelt to pick them up did Zeke discover the three-inch nails that skewered the collar, pinned the cuffs and ankles to the floor.

What??? Judging by the audible gasp—followed by groans when Livesey then closed her folder—I wasn’t the only one in the room who had questions.

Conclusion #1: Don’t sate the audience; readings that raise questions earn readers.

Once I got home from the conference, I looked for that novel in every single bookstore I entered until 2004, when Banishing Verona finally came out.

I had a similar reaction when hearing Ann Patchett read from her then-newest, Bel Canto, at the same event. I leaned toward the woman beside me and whispered, “This reading is extraordinary.” She leaned back and said, “And this wasn’t even one of my favorite parts.” After the reading, I went right to the campus bookstore and bought the novel.

And here I am, still talking about both of those readings 20 years later.

Such can be the power of a public reading.

Conclusion #2: A memorable reading can result in sales—even if the author hasn’t yet finished writing the book.

The Sewanee Conference is big on readings by novelists, poets, playwrights, and short story writers; they have a space devoted to it that’s fully booked. I was surprised to see there was always an audience and I aimed to find out why. After listening to as many readings as possible over the course of the conference’s 12 days, I came to understand more about myself as a person, a reader, a listener, and a writer. I learned what kind of opening tends to beg my interest. What makes me laugh, what doesn’t. What can, in rather short order, move me to tears.

As the readings accumulated I saw that in novel writing, as in my previous career as a dance critic, I needed to trust my experience and appreciate my subjectivity.

Conclusion #3: Exposure to a wide variety of public readings can help a writer identify what kind of novels they aspire to write.

Seeing the benefit of this, as president of the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group, I worked with a local theater company to bring in patrons on one of their “dark” nights to present a literary night out we called The Writers’ Soiree. Members signed up ahead of time for a limited number of ten-minute slots, and the evening ended with an open mic offering shorter slots to anyone present. We brought wine, and a nearby bakery provided treats that we sold at intermission. A huge bonus for our budding novelists was the immediacy of having strangers come up to them to say how much they enjoyed their reading.

Link to the rest at Writer Unboxed

PG will include three sacrilegious statements in his reaction to the OP.

  1. These days, author readings (typically in bookstores) are a waste of time and energy for most authors. If the author is already famous, lots of people show up. If the author is unknown, a handful appear at the time and place of the reading — not the best morale booster for an author just starting out. Author readings are a 1970’s marketing tool.
  2. As a group, writers tend toward introversion. For an introvert, reading her own creation in the presence of a bunch of strangers tends to be extremely stressful, especially when the same stressful experience happens night after night on a book tour. It’s something an extrovert might like, but it’s torture for many introverts to bear their writing souls and make themselves vulnerable in front of a group of people they don’t know. It’s also taking time away from their writing and the exhausted aftermath of one-night stands in store after store, may require a long, non-writing rest to recover.
  3. If a reading of a portion of a book is thought to be a good sales promotion tool for a bookstore and a book (not necessarily true), hire a trained performer to do the reading. The author can chat with visitors one-by-one and sign their books before and after the performance. A local actor/actress/speech teacher will do a better job of presenting the written word than an author who last recited anything for a school Christmas pageant when she/he was in third grade. Give the actress the task in advance to let her read the book and talk to the author via phone or email about which parts the actress thinks would work best.

PG would bet that an experiment with an author reading one segment of a book and an actress presenting another segment of the book would reveal the actress made more of an impact on the audience than the author did. The performance by an actress would also sell more books than the author could by herself.

Right after the War of 1812 ended, PG attended college with several students who went on to successful stage/television/movie careers. He’s seen people who had the ability to mesmerize an audience with their talent up close.

Plus, unlike most normal people, performers enjoy performing before groups of people; the larger the group, the better.

End of sacrilege.

On Writing Blurb Your Enthusiasm: An A-Z of Literary Persuasion

From Women Writers, Women’s Books:

How do you sum up a whole book in a few words?

Your book is nearly ready to enter the world. You’ve got a title, a cover, even some endorsements. Then, something you’d almost forgotten rears its head: the jacket copy (or, as we call it in Britain, the blurb). It’s often an afterthought in the publishing process; the dowdy cousin to the dazzle of a cover design. But those few words can make a world of difference to a book’s fortunes. 

So how do you encapsulate your work in a way that is enticing? That creates instant appeal, a sense of place and character, mystery and intrigue, and makes anyone who picks it up think ‘I must have this book in my life, now’? (No pressure then). 

I have been a copywriter in publishing for over twenty-five years, and I know how hard it can be to find the right words. I began my career at Penguin Books, where there used to be an entire department dedicated to writing blurbs. There, in a quiet room lined with shelf upon shelf of books, we read, yes actually read at work, and learned how to distil thousands of words into just a few. Times have changed since those halcyon days, and we are folded into various marketing departments at what is now Penguin Random House. But is still our job to make every word count. 

. . . .

A professional copywriter is always thinking of their audience. At many publishing houses, blurbs are written by authors or editors or both. However, someone like me can bring a fresh eye to things. It’s hard to see the wood for the trees when a book has been part of your life for months, maybe years – some authors even say that writing the blurb is harder than writing the book. Here are some things I’ve learned: 

  1. Don’t leave your blurb until the last minute. Terry Pratchett recommended writing it as soon as possible because ‘getting the heart and soul of a book into fewer than 100 words helps you focus.’ I wrote one alongside my proposal. It forced me to think hard about the point of my book. 
  2. Identifying the core of your work can be an anchor for the rest of the blurb. The novelist Elizabeth Buchan, who used to write copy at Penguin, described it as ‘The backbone. In one sentence, what is it that makes that book that book? I wrote Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman. Its backbone was: “living well is the best revenge”.’ Buchan’s line snaps with the tension of opposing forces. Where does that fizz lie in your book? 

Link to the rest at Women Writers, Women’s Books

Planning a book event for 2023? Go hybrid

From The Bookseller:

Hybrid festivals are here to stay – that’s what disabled and chronically ill authors want, after having access to online literary festivals and events during the pandemic. Increasingly the whole writing community is backing that call. That’s why team #KeepFestivalsHybrid and team Inklusion have joined forces to create an online guide to 2023 hybrid literary festivals – and we need festival organisers to tell us their plans.

As co-founder of the #KeepFestivalsHybrid campaign along with publisher Clare Christian, I’ve spoken to so many DCI authors for whom online access has transformed their lives and careers, giving them opportunities to network with other authors, and speak at and attend events. One such writer, Chloe Timms, author of The Seawomen, commented: “I love in-person events as much as anyone but virtual events throughout the pandemic made the literary world more accessible. There’s no reason not to have the best of both worlds for readers and writers.”

This year has seen a clarion call for hybrid events across the publishing profession. Cryptic Arts has published Being Hybrid, a guide to what hybrid events are, their benefits and basic technology for hosting them. Director Jamie Hale describes the guide as explaining “the cheapest and fastest way of offering online as well as offline access to events.” 

. . . .

 “Access should be an integrated, organic framework – the skeleton around which event provision is built, rather than a peripheral facet or last-minute add-on. We want to see event organisers using the guide, taking the onus off disabled authors and audience members. We hope the Inklusion Guide will help make good access the norm.”

A report from The Audience Agency in September 2021, called Focus on Disability, concluded that when it comes to arts activities, “disabled people have been more engaged with digital and look likely to be into the future, but this is in substantial part due to the barriers faced with in-person attendance.” The Agency says the report “highlights the importance of continuing digital channels, since removing these would compound the injustice.” But how can literary festivals market their hybrid events to their target audiences?

It’s not easy for a potential festival-goer to find out whether their local literary festival has a hybrid element, or to discover others that do.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

While reading the OP, it occurred that a someone watching the digital side of a hybrid book festival saw something about a book which attracted her/him and wanted to buy that book, by far the easiest thing to do would be to purchase it online instead of traveling to a local physical bookstore only to find it didn’t have any copies of the book.

Latvian Literature at Frankfurt: When Introversion is a Bold Choice

From Publishing Perspectives:

To be internationally recognized for its award-winning #IAmIntrovert campaign, Latvian literature—and its platform of that name—will be touting some distinctly extroverted success at Frankfurter Buchmesse.

. . . .

The state-supported platform is designed not only to promote international recognition for Latvian writings and talents but also to offer translation grants to publishers and translators; present cultural programming abroad; lead Latvia’s participation at international book fairs and trade shows; and organize literary visits to Riga.

But with almost poetic irony, all this friendly outreach and sociable interaction with world markets is now buoyed on the internationally popular #IAmIntrovert dynamic.

To quote from the ‘#IAmIntrovert manifest’: “Latvians can feel deeply confused when kissed on both cheeks or when suddenly talked to on a public bus or tram. If someone compliments a Latvian, he will turn red-white-red,” a subtle reference to the colors of the Latvian flag. “Latvia is one of the world’s most introverted nations and so are our writers, of course. And we’re proud of that. We allow our books to speak for us, since literature is the perfect world for introverts.”

Latvian Literature’s representative Ildze Jansone tells Publishing Perspectives, “When the #IAmIntrovert campaign was launched in 2016, it mainly targeted UK publishers, audiences, and media prior to the London Book Fair of 2018,” at which the Baltic nations of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia were the show’s combined Market Focus.

“Now the ongoing campaign,” she says, “targets  anyone who loves literature. Our initial marketing campaign has become the strongest brand for promoting Latvian literature.”

And as it turns out, Jansone says, genuine cultural context underlies the success of the brand.

One upshot of the durable popularity of #IAmIntrovert is that Latvia’s writers and illustrators aren’t the only ones receiving accolades for their work—so is the campaign itself and the platform.

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

How To Add More Amazon Categories To Your Book Or Ebook

From Just Publishing Advice:

Do you know that you can add more Amazon categories to your book?

You can only select two categories when you first publish your book or ebook with Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

But these are not Amazon categories. They are BISACS (Book Industry Standards and Communications) headings.

If you want your new book to be much more visible, you can add up to ten new categories to make your book more discoverable by Amazon book buyers.

. . . .

How to add more Amazon categories to your book

You could use category keywords in the past.

But the only way now is to ask Amazon to add your new categories.

Why would you want to do this?

When you list your book in only two BISACS headings, it’s lost in a sea of thousands upon thousands of other books.

There is almost no way your book can climb high enough to rank in the top 100 books.

If you list your book in Fiction, Romance, or Science Fiction, for example, you have no hope.

Even if you refine your selection from the options available, you are still in a pool of thousands of other books.

For instance, Fiction / Romance / Contemporary or Fiction /  or  Science Fiction / Apocalyptic & Post-Apocalyptic.

But when you look at the Product Details section, do you see your book listed for any best-selling ranks?

Best Seller Rank

You can check out some top-ranking books on Amazon.

You will notice that when a book has these, the categories are generally narrow and are very rarely BISACS headings.

When your book is in smaller and far less competitive categories, you have a much better chance of getting a Best Sellers Rank.

How to check your categories

A book’s categories don’t appear on an Amazon book page unless it ranks.

Only the general category appears at the top of the page, such as Kindle Store›Kindle eBooks›Science Fiction & Fantasy.

There must be at least two, so how can you check?

Luckily, there is a nifty little free Book Category Hunter tool by the NerdyBookGirl.

All you need to do is paste the ASIN or ISBN, and presto! You can see all the categories.

It’s the best way to start the process of improving or adding categories to your book.

If you only see two for your book and ebook, it’s time to do some work.

List of categories

Let’s look at how you can do this.

Finding new niche categories for free

When you publish a new book with KDP, you can choose seven search keywords and two categories.

Chosen well, these help readers find your book on Amazon.

You can’t use more than seven keywords, but you can add more categories.

There are two ways you can do your research to find additional categories for your book.

One is free, and the other requires specialized software.

The free technique is relatively easy but a little time-consuming.

You will need to check high-ranking books in your genre and look at the ranking categories.

However, Amazon only shows a maximum of three.

check out other books

Clicking on a category will only give you a list of more books.

You need to copy the ASIN or ISBN of the books and use the Book Category Hunter tool to access the categories.

Then you can see all the categories for the book with the entire category strings.

The book above has twelve Kindle and ten book categories.

That’s too many to list here, but here are a few examples.

Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Thrillers > Legal Thrillers

Books > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Thrillers & Suspense > Crime Thrillers > Murder Thrillers

Books > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Thrillers & Suspense > Spies & Political Thrillers > Assassination Thrillers

You might need to check ten to twenty books or more to find categories that are a good fit for your book.

When you have your list, you can then ask Amazon to add them. I’ll show you how to do it later in this article.

. . . .

The best way to add more Amazon categories

The big drawback with the free method is that you don’t know how competitive or effective your choices will be.

The only way to get an accurate guide is to use Publisher Rocket to access the Amazon database.

Now you can check how many sales you need to rank in the top ten or at number one. You can check for books, ebooks, and audiobooks.

With the software, you can search for less competitive categories to give your book the best chance to rank.

Kindlepreneur has a terrific guide on how to use Publisher Rocket to find better categories for your book.

Link to the rest at Just Publishing Advice

PG notes that he has been using Publisher Rocket for several years and has found it both helpful and time-saving.

PG notes that he has no relationship with the folks who created and maintain Publisher Rocket and mentions it simply because he likes it. The OP caused PG to rethink some of the ways he uses the program in order to improve the visibility of Mrs. PG’s books.