Zoom Book Tours: 5 Authors on Publishing in a Pandemic

From Wired:

WRITING A BOOK is a lonely pursuit, one that can take years of solitary work. Selling a book is another story. Authors give talks in cramped storefronts, schmooze at luncheons, and learn to casually discuss their belabored creative project as commercial content. The publicity circuit can be dispiriting, sleazy, and exhausting. It can also be exhilarating, liberating, and fun—a chance for people who spend a lot of time alone with their thoughts to feel like someone’s heard them. This year, releasing a book into the world became another task largely undertaken solo, at home, staring at a screen. The Covid-19 pandemic forced the publishing industry to reimagine its process for convincing people to buy its latest offerings. Even the industry’s fanciest nights, like the National Book Awards gala, took place as digital events, with participants glammed up and sitting at home.

. . . .

Joanne McNeil, author of Lurking: How a Person Became a User

I was lucky enough to have a few in-person events before quarantine. One of the events was recorded for Book TV, on C-SPAN, and because it was one of the very last in-person bookstore events that happened anywhere, it ended up playing repeatedly in March and April at odd hours. The first month of quarantine, I wasn’t sleeping so great, so I would be awake at 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning. I had signed up for email alerts to tell me when it aired and I’d get the emails sometimes just before I’d go to bed. I was staying with my parents, and my dad wakes up really early. The first time it aired, we were both up, and I was able to watch my event with my dad.

It could be a lot worse. The kind of person who wants to hole up in a room and write 80,000 words is not necessarily the kind of person who loves to be the center of attention. So there are some aspects of the virtual events that are less nerve-wracking than doing them in person. But the drawback is that these bookstores aren’t getting the same sales. And you don’t have the conversations you used to have; you’re not meeting in a restaurant and getting to catch up with old friends who show up to the reading. I miss those things. When you log out of a Zoom and you’re just alone in a room. It’s really bewildering.

Just staring at the screen feels exhausting. There are only so many ways to make virtual events different. But one of my upcoming events will be different—it’s a Second Life Book Club, hosted by Bernhard Drax. He creates avatars for authors on request. I asked for a cyborg avatar. I’m excited because it is a creative approach that isn’t trying to replicate the offline experience of a book event.

. . . .

Charles Yu, author of Interior Chinatown

At first I was really nervous about Zoom. What if the connection cut out? Would I be presentable on camera? I got to do an event with the writer C. Pam Zhang, who wrote an incredible debut this year. Her book was picked for the Goop book club—the first pick!—and she invited me to be on a panel. I was really excited, and since it was for Goop, my wife Michelle and I wanted to present our home in a nice-looking way, with me in front of a built-in bookshelf that Michelle had made. But the connection wasn’t good enough, so I had to move to the bedroom. Only afterward did we realize that the dresser behind me was covered in a layer of dust visible on camera. We had moved some books off of it, so there was a negative outline of dust around where the books had been. This only made it more noticeable. So much for a good impression on Goop!

That was probably the worst mishap I had until the National Book Award. [Ed note: Yu won the National Book Award!] It was a mishap of my brain. I really didn’t expect to win, so I prepared absolutely nothing. When they announced my name, I started freaking out. My son was next to me and he started freaking out. My daughter was upstairs, she started freaking out. Michelle and I just looked at each other, freaking out. So I give my remarks, which are totally off the cuff—and I forget to thank my family. When I realized afterward, my stomach dropped. My book is about people who are underappreciated and I forgot to thank the people who’d supported me all those years and were literally in the background when I won. And my parents were watching in their home. I’ll never forgive myself for that.

Going to an awards ceremony in our living room was really fun, though, because afterwards I changed back into shorts and we had pizza.

Link to the rest at Wired

Perhaps PG’s blown out with too much holiday consumption, but the promotional efforts of the publishers in the OP seemed to be very underwhelming.

Why screw around with traditional publishers if they can’t figure out an effective way to promote your book? PG’s not a publishing marketer, but he could think of ten ways to do a better job than was done for these authors.

OTOH, author appearances via Zoom certainly don’t cost the publisher any sort of meaningful money.

Titles and Comp Titles — How To Find the Best Ones For Your Book

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

A Prince by any other name would still be a Prince. (I hope.)

Meghan by any other name would still be a princess

Ditto Diana.

Lord or Lady. Peasant or serf.

Professor or student.

Beginner or expert.

Titles orient us to where we are and what we should expect next.

Doesn’t just apply to people, either. Also applies to books, because time-pressed readers/editors/agents take only a few seconds to make their buy decision, and authors have the same few seconds to make their sale.

If you’re aiming for a traditional publishing deal including relevant comp titles in your query letter is a must, because comp titles help define the expectations and positioning of your book. If you’re self-pubbing, well-chosen comp titles are a guide for the readers you hope to reach. In both instances, comp titles provide a target in a crowded marketplace, and will affect your cover, blurb, sales pitch and marketing plan.

Agents and publishers ask for comp titles because they need a quick shorthand way to establish the basis for sales expectations and marketing. The agent/editor/potential reader needs a reference point, and, if your book will appeal to readers who enjoy legal thrillers, steamy romance or epic fantasy, you’re providing a valuable selling tool by providing appropriate comp titles that give a solid clue about which market you’re aiming at.

. . . .

According to John Medina of the University of Washington, the human brain requires meaning before details. When listeners don’t understand the basic concept right at the beginning, they have a hard time processing the rest of the information.

Bottom line for writers: The title and the cover—image plus title—have to work as a unit to explain the hook or basic concept first. Wrong image and/or misfit title confuse the would-be buyer and you lose the sale. On-target image plus genre-relevant title and the reader/agent/editor will look closer.

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

The Secret To This Romance Author’s Success? Breaking All The Rules.

From Amazon Author Insights:

I can safely say that every time I’ve been asked to speak to aspiring writers, afterward, I’ve had not one, but several come up to me and say, “I can’t believe you did what you said you did. I was told never to do that. I was told never to break that rule.” This does not surprise me, but it saddens me. When I started writing, I too had a set of rules for writing romance (my genre) that I was under the impression were unbreakable. And I wrote within the confines of those rules.

It was only when publishing house after publishing house, agent after agent had rejected my submissions, and I’d decided that no one was ever going to read my books, that I threw the rules out the window. I then simply wrote what I wanted to write, wrote how the stories came to me, was true to them and my characters.

Then I published myself … And I’ve sold more than two and a half million books.

What are the rules I broke? First, I didn’t write what I thought people wanted to read. I didn’t research what might be popular — what might sell — and write that. I wrote stories that felt personal to me, that I enjoyed completely from writing to reading. The first book that I did this with was Rock Chick, and with it and the Rock Chick series, I broke all the rules:

I wrote in first person, and at that time, romance novels in first person were available, but not customary.

I wrote my heroine’s thoughts in a stream of consciousness. I had paragraphs — many of them — that were just one word. I put myself, and what would eventually be my readers, in the mind of my heroine, Indy. Not describing what she was thinking, but thinking what she was thinking as she was thinking it. It’s important to note that not everyone could get into that, and that’s understandable, even expected. It’s also important to note that the ones who did, really did.

Link to the rest at Amazon Author Insights

Using Book Promotion Newsletters to Increase Sales

From Mike O’Mary via Jane Friedman:

I ran an indie press for seven years and published thirteen books, including three New York Times bestsellers, three Hoffer Book Award Winners, and a book that was optioned for a film. We averaged 6,000 copies sold of each title—including two titles that sold more than 20,000 copies each.

To put those numbers in perspective, I think a Big Five publisher would consider 5,000 copies sold to be “respectable,” and most small publishers would consider that to be a “home run.”

We achieved success without traditional distribution and on a shoestring budget. And one of the keys to our success was using newsletters and websites that promote books.

There are dozens of book promotion newsletters (more than 100 by some counts), and I used many of them as a publisher. In this blog post, I’ll tell you why authors should include book promotion newsletters in their marketing plans, and why I launched my own such newsletter, LitNuts, despite the crowded playing field.

. . . .

You are probably familiar with some book promotion newsletters. Some of the more prominent ones are BookBub, Bargain Booksy and eReader News Today. And for every prominent newsletter, there are many other smaller ones like Book Basset, the Choosy BookWorm and the Frugal eReader.

Most of these newsletters follow a similar business model in that they are free to subscribers, and authors and publishers pay to have their books featured in the newsletter. The cost to have a book featured in one of these newsletters ranges from as low as $10 (even less in some cases) to several hundreds or even thousands of dollars (in the case of BookBub).

The newsletters are great for readers. In addition to being free, the newsletters mostly focus on bargains, and everybody loves a bargain.

The only problems from the reader’s perspective are (1) the focus on bargains means a limited universe—not every great book is $2.99 or less, and (2) uneven quality because the only requirement for most newsletters is payment—they are not looking at quality, which means there’s a more-than-middling possibility that the 99-cent self-published “bargain” ebook you just downloaded isn’t worth the time you spent to download it, let alone read it.

There are additional problems from the perspective of the author, including convoluted promotion “packages,” tiered pricing structures, and a maze of sometimes complicated order forms.

. . . .

Another thing that can be complicated from the author’s perspective is coordinating promotions. A lot of times, an author will plan (or “stack”) promotions with multiple newsletters in support of a sale—for example, putting the ebook edition of your book on sale for $2.99 (or even free) for a few days or a week. You can set up the promotions yourself with each newsletter, but be prepared to spend lots of hours at the computer filling out online order forms.

There are some economical services that will handle submission to multiple book promotion newsletters and websites if you are giving away free copies of an ebook:

  • Taranko1 on Fiverr: Will submit free ebooks to multiple promotion services for as little as $5.
  • Book Marketing Tools: Will submit free ebooks to multiple services for $29.
  • Author Marketing Club: No charge, but they don’t submit for you. Instead, they have consolidated the links, to take you directly to the order forms of multiple promotion services. You still have to submit the books yourself, but having all of the order forms in one place will save you time.

Link to the rest at Jane Friedman

5 Tips For Promoting Your Book This Christmas

From Self-Publishing Review:

1. It’s not such a great time to launch on Amazon

Unless you are selling incredibly well, it’s doubtful that over the Christmas period, say from around December 10th through January 5th, you will garner many sales or reviews on Amazon. If you are looking to launch a new title, you may do better to wait for the holidays to be over. This is because at Christmas time, Amazon users are looking to buy gifts that are already wished for, such as perfume and games, and Amazon will be pushing Best Selling books from traditional authors, i.e. authors you can’t really compete with as an independent author, and you could see a very flat release if you attempt it.

2. Editorial Reviews – A Good Time To Buy

Instead of falling on your face with Amazon, you may do better to build up your professional reviews and giveaways during the break. Many services, such as ours, are open all year round, and have reviewers available to review your book despite the holidays. These reviews are great for your author profiles on Amazon and Goodreads, and you will start the new year with a bang.

Link to the rest at Self-Publishing Review

“Buy Now” Book Covers for Independent Authors

From Writers in the Storm:

Practically speaking, a book cover is just a tool to bind and protect the pages of a book. But every writer – and every consumer – knows that a book cover is so much more. Your cover is a visual ambassador for your book: it’s a marketing tool, a billboard for your brand, and sometimes even a small piece of art available to the reading public.

Having a great book cover is an essential for a successful author, so here are ten key book cover design tips that will ensure you’re getting the most out of yours.

10 Design Tips for a “Buy Now” Book Cover

1. Don’t use too many typefaces. Limit yourself to two. Some book covers may require a third typeface; others can shine with just one. Too many fonts cheapen your overall look and make you seem less professional.

2. Don’t overload your cover with ideas. A book cover is a visual elevator pitch—you’ve got literally milliseconds to convince a potential reader. And if you can’t boil your book down to one central concept, you’re in trouble. As a writer, you know about main ideas and supporting details. The front cover gets your main idea. A few supporting details go on the back in your book blurb.

3. Don’t skimp on an illustrator. Seek out a talented professional if your book requires a custom image – and be prepared to pay them for their services. Custom illustration isn’t cheap, but nothing kills a cover like a bad illustration.

Link to the rest at Writers in the Storm

How to Reduce Your Workload with a Facebook Auto Poster

From Hootsuite:

Let’s face it. Facebook is just one part of your marketing strategy. You have so many other things to do, not to mention a life you want to enjoy. And you have only 24 hours in the day.

That means it’s time to look at automating some of your Facebook marketing efforts. One of the first, easiest things you can do right now is start using a Facebook auto poster to automatically publish your posts. You’ll spend less time on the platform and more time doing other tasks.

. . . .

[A] Facebook auto poster is a tool that publishes your Facebook posts at a scheduled time you’ve established previously.

There are many Facebook auto posters out there. You can choose one that satisfies your needs.

But no matter which tool you opt for, make sure it covers 3 essential features:

  • Options to publish now or schedule for posting in the future.
  • Automatically publish scheduled posts on multiple Facebook pages, groups, and profiles you’ve created at the same time or at staggered intervals.
  • Allow to publish all types of content: Text, links, images, videos.

Besides these features, you may also want to consider a clean and intuitive interface, detailed reporting and dashboards, or the ability to manage multiple Facebook accounts from one place.

. . . .

1. Simplify your workflow and save time

If you ever search for time management tips, you may know this quote: “Work smarter, not harder.”

It may be a bit cliché, but imagine this situation: You’re doing Facebook marketing, and have to post a lot on this platform. Are you pleased with continually copying and pasting the same post into different groups?

The answer is a loud No.

By scheduling your posts ahead of time, you’ll save yourself a significant amount of time to do other things. Your work process becomes simpler because a Facebook auto poster takes on the tedious tasks for you.

2. Reach multiple time zones and post at the best time

The best time to post on Facebook is between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. EST on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.

Note that this can be different depending on geographic locations (9 a.m in the United States is 11 p.m in Australia, don’t you know?).

That means you need an auto poster to ensure your posts will be published at the time with the highest engagement rates. You don’t have to log in to your account at 3 a.m; you can set it up once and let it run, only tweaking once in a while as necessary.

3. Maintain consistent scheduling across all platforms

Consistency is the key to building and growing your followers on Facebook.

Why?

Because if you consistently show up in your audience’s feed, you are more likely engage them with your brand. By doing that, your organic reach can increase, and your posts may get shown to potential new followers.

Whether it’s a slow news week or the biggest holiday season of the year, posting consistently benefits your business.

Link to the rest at Hootsuite

Five Mistakes That Even Experienced Social Media Managers Make

From Agorapulse:

Social media marketing is never done: It is a continuous process that requires constant attention and effort.

There are also no set rules as to what should be done to achieve certain results.

There are things you can certainly do wrong though, even if you think you are an experienced social media manager.

Here are five mistakes even experienced social media managers do (I certainly did all of those!) and how to fix them.

1. Not Scheduling Social Media Updates

I know, for some social media managers reading this, scheduling is an integral part of their workflow.

How can someone achieve a consistent social media presence without creating a well-balanced schedule of social media updates?

The truth is lots of brand-owned social media profiles don’t really have a consistent schedule. Many social media managers fail to create a schedule regularly. (Yikes.)

Scheduling is not that easy to manage if you’re always in a rush or don’t have a strategy.

I’ve been there many times … You schedule creative social media updates weeks ahead and then overlook the day when your schedule has been exhausted. Time flies and a few weeks or even a month may pass before you realize you should have filled your schedule up with fresh updates.

To overcome this struggle, I’ve been using these two tricks:

Create a social content schedule for the following year

I tend to use a slower period for scheduling. This is when I sit down and schedule 1-2 updates a month for as far a year ahead. Usually, these are weekend updates or posts timed for a holiday or a seasonal trend (back-to-school, Black Friday, etc.) This way, I make sure I will not miss any.

. . . .

Set up a routine

Always schedule monthly updates on a specific day.

For example, always on the last Friday of the previous month or always on the 28th of each month. Doing so will help you to keep yourself accountable.

I also create a recurring calendar reminder to never miss the day.

. . . .

2. Cross-Posting the Same Updates Everywhere

As social media managers, we always have to manage more than one channel. At the bare minimum, your active social media profiles to manage to include Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

It is always tempting to create the same update and cross-post it everywhere.

Doing so will, unfortunately, create a few missed opportunities by making your updates less appealing (and hence easier to miss).

There are platforms that support mostly vertical images, and there are platforms that prefer square images. There are channels that tend to respond better to animated GIFs and / or micro-videos, and there are platforms that hardly support them.

I could go on …

Creating an original, well-crafted (visual) update for each of your channels is not only more effective but also very doable. For example, there are image creation solutions that allow you to resize your images with one click of a mouse (such as Snappa) and there are tools that let you create animated GIFs in minutes (like Bannersnack):

Link to the rest at Agorapulse

PG fails to check any boxes as either a social media pretend-expert or a more than a mini-social media user.

In the earliest existence of TPV, PG had a couple of WordPress plug-ins that automatically spit out a short blurb with hash tags on a couple of TPV social media accounts that PG seldom monitored. PG seems to recall that each of the plugins wanted some money to keep doing what they had been doing at no charge and he hadn’t seen any real benefit from the social media world, so he uninstalled them.

One of the fundamental principles of any sort of advertising or promotion activity is to know your audience, which includes knowing what the audience watches, listens to, clicks on, etc., etc.

While TPV is anything but a finely-crafted piece of self-promotion for whatever he’s selling these days, PG thinks he has a pretty good feel for the people who stop buy to check out what’s going on around here. He watches comments and, on occasion, traffic stats for the site and it’s doing what he thinks he wants it to do, at least today.

If PG woke up one morning and decided he wanted to be a social media star, he would probably ask a neighbor who teaches social media marketing at a local university to identify his smartest student, then hire that student on a part-time basis to help set up PG’s social media empire, launch it, then watch what the student did with social media on PG’s behalf for a few months to learn the ropes.

During PG’s online wanderings, he has read a zillion articles about how to be successful in social media, but he senses that he’s not feeling the rhythms necessary to really do it well.

If he were purely pragmatic, PG might conclude that he’s doing fine without social media and focus on the things he knows how to do and knows will work for him, but he has a soft spot for new gadgets (he can see several by just glancing at the far reaches of his large, wrap-around desk), so he still monitors bright objects like social media.

DIY Book Covers Have Come a Long Way — How to Create Professional-Quality Covers with Design Apps

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

In the early days of self-publishing, authors who didn’t know know coding had to hire formatters to make their books cyber-ready. Since then, formatting has become part of many writing programs. Word processors like MSWord, Scrivener and Pages will output ebook files and apps like Vellum (Mac only) and Jutoh (Pc and Mac) make it easy to create well-formatted, upload-ready files themselves.

The days of the pricey formatter and frustrating waits for edits and revisions or even minor corrections (typos!) are mostly gone.

Ian Andrew, a former Microsoft trainer turned indie author, offers a step-by-step guide to formatting an ebook in MSWord.

As similar transformation has been taking place with book design. Easy-to-use, drag-and-drop apps have made it possible for authors—even those who don’t know PhotoShop or think they don’t have design skills—to create attractive, pro-level, genre-appropriate book covers.

In my decades as an editor and publisher, I’ve spent a lot of time in cover meetings. While editors, marketing departments and sales managers contributed ideas, the art director quickly sketched images (called “thumbnails”) to show us what our ideas would look like when transformed into visual concepts. From that first quick sketch, more ideas would lead to new ideas, second thoughts, and other changes until everyone agreed on a version that would form the basis for the eventual cover.

We made decisions about:

  • Photo or illustration?
  • Poster or type cover?
  • Spot art or full page bleed?
  • genre?
  • color?
  • font?
  • The competition.
  • What’s selling?
  • Why?
  • What isn’t?
  • Why not?

. . . .

Several easy-to-use, drag-and-drop on-line apps (some FREE) will let you quickly transform your ideas into professional-looking, genre-specific covers.

BookBrush, offers customizable cover templates in a variety of genres, quick, easy ways to change fonts and text plus clickable buy buttons and one-click 3-D covers. There’s a user forum to help if you get stuck plus lots of extra templates.

Canva, similar to BookBrush, differs in the details and provides an excellent intro to design principles. Dave Chesson wrote a post about how to design a professional-looking book cover in Canva. He goes into detail about which fonts go with what fictional genres and how to add pro effects to your cover.

. . . .

A veteran (survivor?) of many cover meetings and plenty of follow-up one-on-one sessions standing over a drawing board hashing out pesky details and revisions with art directors, I’m not a designer. But, along the way, I have learned quite a bit about what the pros think about what works—and what doesn’t—when the subject is book covers.

First—and most important—is to put your creativity aside. Now is not the time to Think Different. Instead, you want to do what the other kids do.

Your goal when designing a cover should be to fit in rather than stand out. The reader wants to know at a glance what kind of book you’ve written.

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

PG notes that there are lots of links in the OP to cover design tutorials and free or low-cost graphics tools to help you make covers.

However.

PG made covers for several of Mrs. PG’s early self-published novels and thought they looked great.

Then, Mrs. PG decided to switch to a professional cover designer.

(PG’s ego was and is just fine. He’s pretty certain nothing can dent it.)

Mrs. PG’s books with professionally-designed covers sold better than her books with PG’s works of art on the front.

When she switched to writing in her most recent genre, Mrs. PG found a cover designer who was talented in designing for that genre and the era in which those books were set (and who charged a higher price than her previous cover artist). Those books have been selling extremely well, enough so that Mrs. PG believes the extra money she’s paid for her covers has generated an excellent return on her investment. Some of the Amazon reviews and emails from reader friends have mentioned how great the covers look.

PG has bloviated about Mrs. PG’s experience with homemade PG covers and professionally-designed covers.

Your results may vary.

While PG imagines himself to be a great artist from time to time, that feeling passes and he’s willing to admit that others are better than he is with book covers and probably a lot of other things as well.

The purpose of a book cover isn’t to be great art. It’s a very important marketing/advertising tool that’s designed to catch a reader’s positive attention, stop them from scrolling on and click on some related link.

If a book cover accomplishes that task, it’s done its job. Some book covers do their jobs better than others do.

Postscript: The OP mentions several online sources for free images. PG cautions that you need to make certain that the website does in fact offer images that have been properly licensed from the creator AND that such license permits your commercial use of the image in which you are interested, such as including it on a book cover and in your blog to promote sales of your book.

PG has a couple of clients who used images they found online that didn’t indicate their source or copyright status and who thereafter received letters from an attorney’s office asking for money.

So far, PG has been able to keep the lawyers away, but has explained to the client that he can huff and puff, but if the creator of the image (or the agency to which the creator has licensed the image) is not permanently intimidated by PG’s huffing and puffing, something unpleasant might happen in the future.

One additional point on this issue that won’t violate attorney/client privilege: PG suspects the law firm asserting the claim may be using some sort of a web search/web spider program to wander around the internet looking for images for which its client has licensing rights, including clicking down through a website or blog to find an image that the owner of the website posted a year or two earlier.

But PG could be wrong about that.

How Do We Market Books Now?

From Publishers Weekly:

Covid-19 has greatly affected the publishing industry across all divisions and markets, and the marketing and publicity divisions of trade publishers have required particularly swift and frequent changes to their ways of doing business. In the opening panel of PubTech Connect 2020, which was copresented by PW and NYU School of Professional Studies Center for Publishing and was held virtually this year through Zoom on November 17, the topic of the hour was new marketing strategies.

. . . .

The panel focused on how to capture consumer interest in a marketplace that has shifted to digital sales, the benefits of virtual events, the importance of fleshing out direct-to-consumer marketing, and how libraries are adapting to an emphasis on digital resources.

The word of the day was “nimble,” and Fassler opened the discussion with an emphasis on adaptation in the marketplace. “We’ve learned a lot this year during a time of distraction and disruption,” she said. “I think one of the biggest challenges has been how to conduct effective outreach when we’re hampered by the way we used to do things, like galley mailings. I used to do a lot of creative partnership work at conferences, pitching our books and explaining how our products are aligned. It’s been necessary to be creative even earlier.”

LaDelle was quick to point out that “consumers are holding publishers more accountable” for their marketing plans and execution. It is no longer enough to share pull quotes or cover reveals, she said: “There’s a need to be present and intentional with our marketing content.”

Martinez stressed the importance of direct-to-consumer interactions. “Now is a great time to build a great consumer list. People are hungry to feel connected to the book community, especially at a time when they can’t go to book events or book clubs.” This is even more the case, Martinez said, for independent presses like Soho, adding that developing a vast and effective email campaign is imperative in making sure a book is successful.

“We really have to be nimble and flexible,” Seyfried said, pointing to the shrinking holiday shopping window as a direct example of the sorts of marketing and publicity tools Covid-19 has affected. Penguin Random House’s internal insights team, she added, conducted a marketing study that revealed that 25% or more of book consumers are doing their Christmas shopping early this year due to Covid-related worries like shipping delays. “We pivoted to launching our gift-giving messaging in mid-October,” she said. “Usually we’re still in planning phase in October, but we’ve had to rush it and be more adaptive.”

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

“Nimble” is not an adjective PG would apply to traditional publishers and their marketing.

Perhaps the “senior v-p and director of integrated marketing strategy” was speaking in comparative terms. “More nimble than usual.”

Sort of like the winner in a nursing home’s annual wheelchair gymnastics tournament for its over-90 residents.

PG suggests the answer to the question posed in the headline is clear – You market books where people are buying books. Today and for at least several more months (and maybe forever) that would be online.

Based on unstructured observations, PG suspects that Amazon’s ad sales in its book department have skyrocketed. Big publishers and not-so-big publishers are paying the Zon a lot of money to move books. If the reading habits of the PG household and the households of the Friends of PG are any indication, this is a good time to be in the book business if you’re a good marketer and can stand out from the crowd. (It’s a good time to be in the streaming video business as well.)

PG also suggests that traditional publishers might consider lowering their obscenely-high licensing fees for ebooks in libraries so libraries can afford to purchase more licenses. (PG’s online library projects some of the ebooks he has been perusing won’t be available for 3-4 months.)

This is a perfect time for intelligent publishers to build a reader base for their promising authors via greatly expanding their presence in library ebook departments.

But, (Heaven forfend!), that might upset Barnes & Noble!

Speaking of Barnes & Noble:

How To Find Your Target Audience, Part One

From The Book Designer:

Step one: Find Comparable Authors

The first step in my method to creating a reader profile is to find comparable authors. Comparable authors are those who have written books similar to yours.

Click on the following link to download and save a comparable author spreadsheet, designed for you to track the authors you find in your research who write similar books to yours: Author Upscale Academy Worksheet Research Table Revised Digital Version

For step one focus on filling the following columns:

  • Author Name
     
  • Publishing Path (Are they self-publishing, with a small press, with a large press?)
     
  • Example Book (What is one book of theirs that is similar to yours?)
     
  • Book Price (list the price of the example book)
     
  • Category (What category or categories is the book listed in?)

I suggest using Amazon to find your comparable authors as you can find authors from all publishing paths, from those with the big publishers to those who are self-publishing.

While it is great to look at bestseller lists like the USA Today list or the New York Times list you may miss some of the great indie authors who are not always included in traditional lists. That being said, if you want to take things one step further with your research do check out bestseller lists as well and see what is popular in your genre. But for now, let’s focus on using Amazon to gather our list.

Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Go to Amazon.
     
  2. In the search bar click the dropdown menu (By default this says “All”.) and select “Books” or “Kindle Store”.
     
  3. Type in your genre and click the search button. (I used “young adult fantasy”.)
     
  4. On the right hand side you’ll see a breakdown of categories. If you can narrow down your category further with the options given, do so. For my example I picked Swords & Sorcery:
     

     
  5. Look for books with the “Best Seller” banner:
     
     
  6. When you find a book with the best seller banner, click on it and scroll down to the “Product Details” section, here you can click on any of the categories listed to view the best seller list.

     
  7. You can alternatively go directly to best seller lists on Amazon. Start on either the Bestsellers in Books or Bestsellers in the Kindle Store and click on your genre from the right-hand sidebar.
     
  8. For more authors check out who is reviewing the book you already have on your list and giving them 4-5 stars reviews. Amazon will let you look at other products those reviewers have liked on the reviewer’s profile. (Click on their name to view this profile.) This will give you an idea of other authors these readers love. If you have already published a book you can also use this process on your own books to find more comparable authors.
     
  9. Next take a look at “Also Boughts” under your comparable author’s book pages and their Amazon author page. This is another great way to find other comparable authors for your list. If your book is already on Amazon you can also look at the “Also Boughts” section under your book.

Link to the rest at The Book Designer

PG notes that the OP is the second post in a series that discusses the process of finding your target audience. Here’s a link to the first post.

Should You Hire a Social Media Assistant?

From Jane Friedman:

I hate social media. It’s an addictive rabbit-hole.

I just don’t have time. Social media takes away from my precious writing time.

I’m no good at creating those visuals and posts.

I hate all that self-promotion.

I’ve heard many authors—myself included—express frustration and dismay at the expectation that we will not only produce wonderful books, but also carry out what amounts to a second full-time job as our own marketing team. Most of us don’t mind holding events, whether live or virtual, where we get to engage with readers. Nor do we mind interviews, written or recorded, where we can talk about our books and our writing process. But what so many of us do hate is the seemingly bottomless pit of social media engagement.

Facebook, with all those reader and writer groups. Instagram. Twitter. Pinterest.

“Likes” and “follows.” Comments and messages and shares.

Wouldn’t it be great if someone else could do all this for us?

Someone else can—for a price, and with a few caveats.

What is a social media assistant?

Whether they call themselves virtual assistants, social media consultants, or author assistants, these are people who will manage your social media for you. Unlike publicists, who seek media coverage on your behalf, or direct marketers, whom you pay to advertise your book on their sites, such an assistant takes over tasks that you could, if you wanted, do yourself or learn how to do yourself. They may do it more attractively, strategically, or frequently—but they have no special credentials like the high-level media connections of a good publicist, nor any special access to important gatekeepers. What you’re buying, in effect, is time—and the freedom to use that time in other ways.

The questions are: How much is that time worth to you, and are there other benefits, besides freeing up your time, that a virtual assistant can offer?

. . . .

I now understand that social media is a long game, not a quick grab. It’s about the slow, steady development of connection and engagement. Like all relationships, it takes time and commitment. You have to show up every day, not just on birthdays and anniversaries. And that means a hefty investment of energy.

Not everyone wants to do that. After all, there’s no end to what we, as authors, might do to reach out to readers! Another thing I’ve learned is that no one can, or should, do everything. I advise those who ask me: “Just do the stuff that’s fun for you, and outsource—or forget—the rest of it.”

And there’s the heart of the matter: what should we do ourselves, what should we jettison, and what should we outsource?

Sometimes the answer is clear. If you want to pitch to the book review editor at The New York Times, you need a professional publicist to do so on your behalf—and even then, there’s no guarantee. Many authors I know are unhappy at what they now consider to be a poor “return on investment” after hiring a publicist at a cost of anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000. They’re wondering if there isn’t a middle ground between spending that kind of money, which most don’t have, and doing it all yourself.

A virtual assistant—someone who can manage author promotion on social media—can seem like an attractive option. At a cost far below that of a publicist, with a direct appeal to readers that can actually be tracked, social media assistance is a rapidly-growing alternative.

. . . .

Below are five composite summaries of the models I encountered—what they offer, how they work, their strengths and drawbacks.  In all cases, it’s important to remember what a virtual assistant cannot do. Since a VA has no access to your phone, she can’t post photos of you doing book-related things. Her posts will, of necessity, have a certain “artistic distance” to them.

VA #1 is a self-published author of several books who has a side-business helping authors with services ranging from proofreading and editing to developing marketing plans, social media coaching, and query critiquing. Her experience and familiarity with the writing world made her an attractive choice. I also liked the fact she offered three options or levels of service, although her prices were at the high end. However, she also had a full-time job and a book of her own launching soon. I wondered if she would really be able to give me the kind of ongoing support I was looking for.

VA #2 is a polished professional, whose website and proposal were evidence of the strong visual style I was looking for. She also provided references so I could see the Instagram accounts of several clients she manages, and the same quality or “flair” was evident there. She offered an expensive prix fixe package, with no flexibility—although her proposal was comprehensive and strategic, and included features like a weekly Instagram Story Reel that other proposals did not. I was hesitant, however, because she had never done social media for an author, and the demographic that her posts seemed to be targeting was not mine. Her work seemed to be geared to a younger, more style-conscious audience, and I wondered if she would know how to target the kind of readers (and book-buyers) I sought to attract.

Link to the rest at Jane Friedman

As a preliminary opinion, PG thinks social media savvy is more important than book biz savvy in a good social media helper for an author.

How and when to work the social media platforms is ideally instinctive and intuitive for a helper. Mixing in the book stuff is probably not hard to do for a good social media jockey.

Social media is about grabbing a few seconds of favorable attention and maybe a click-through. If the helper can do that for the author or the author’s book, PG suggests he/she has done the job.

Perhaps careful crafting and curation could improve click-through on a post a bit, but PG suggests that three good-enough posts -not dumb or clumsy-looking – will provide more benefits than one expensive and time-consuming-to-create post. Once a post is up, its sell-by date is probably measured in hours, a couple of days at most.

For PG, social media posts are analogous to a quip. Make one good quip, get a bit of positive attention, then make another quip.

PG suggests that if you want to dip a toe into the social media assistant water, you may want to hire someone on a temporary freelance basis.

If PG wanted to grow larger in social media (he doesn’t), he would contact a friend who teaches digital marketing at a local university and ask the friend to suggest a couple of smart first or second year students who might want to earn some money on the side and create some examples of their work for their portfolio when they are looking for a real job around graduation. Such a student might write a case study or two based on what he/she did on social media for PG.

While most of the visitors to The Passive Voice are not likely to have a professor friend who teaches digital marketing, at least some live within a reasonable distance of a community college or other higher educational institution. PG doesn’t know whether any high schools (public or private) teach this sort of thing, but that’s another place where some talented social media devotees may be found.

If an author were to pursue this path she/he would want to see some examples of the prospective helper’s work and check out the helper’s social media accounts to see their content plus how many followers, likes, comments, etc., the prospective helper had accrued.

If a potential helper was located, the author would likely want to review each potential post prior to it going online to determine whether it looked like something likely to help sell books, gain followers, etc.

Posting something someone else has created to a social media platform is a task even the majorly technophobic can likely learn with the tiniest bit of practice or guidance.

PG thinks it’s also a good idea for the author to “own” their social media accounts – their name and contact info on the account shows they’re the owner, they know the ID/PW for the social media account, etc. When one social media assistant goes on to bigger things, the author changes the password and hires a replacement.

One nice element that comes with a social media helper is that geography means almost nothing. She can leave the big city for small town life and still do everything she did for the author via the Net. A block away or halfway around the world, the working relationship can continue if both parties want it to.

PG admits that some of his attitude concerning the importance of social media knowledge vs. book domain knowledge comes as a result of working with a very large advertising agency in ancient times. (Printed advertising fliers were the latest thing and calligraphers were on their way out).

Advertising professionals often work on more than one account – insurance plus dog food was one of PG’s combos.

Agencies are also prone to move their employees to different accounts when it benefits the agency’s overall financial performance. Client A needs more agency resources, so creative, research, etc., professionals will be assigned spend time on Client A because Clients B and C shouldn’t need a lot of attention for awhile.

An advertising pro can figure out how to sell anything.

Build and Manage Series Pages in the Kindle Store

From The Digital Reader:

For a number of years now Amazon has been making series pages for Kindle ebooks. One of their bots would identify all of the books in a particular series, and then list them all on the same page so that a reader could buy all of the books at once, paying retail.

I can’t find my first post on the topic, but I always thought this idea was a good one because it aligned with how I buy ebooks (when I find a new favorite author, I buy their backlist).

And now Amazon has given authors the option of creating series pages on their own. A couple days ago they published an announcement in the KDP support forums:

You can now publish and update eBook and Paperback series detail pages automatically through KDP. With the launch of series in KDP, you can:

  1. Create a new series: For any titles in your KDP account, create an ordered or unordered series to help readers on Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk and Amazon.de find all the books in your series on a single page.  Learn more.
  2. View and organize your series: Navigate from a series title on your Bookshelf to view and manage books in your series. Review series details and titles to ensure the information is up-to-date for readers. Learn more.
  3. Edit an existing series to control how it appears to readers: Adjust description. In addition, add, remove, re-order or change whether your titles are main or related content. Learn more.

If you already had an eBook series detail page available on Amazon.com, we’ve added that series in your KDP account. You can view existing series in your account by visiting your KDP Bookshelf and checking the box on the bookshelf for “View titles in series”.  If you don’t see your series in your account, you can create a new series by following the steps here.

Not all features are available in every marketplace. Series that contain paperback and pre-order books are available on Amazon.com, but not Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.de. We’re working to add more series features in the future. For more information on KDP series, click here.

Does anyone know how long this feature has been available?

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader

Branding 101

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

Does the idea of “branding” yourself or your work make you cringe? (I’m an artist, dammit—not a corporate sleaze bag!) Are you confused by what “branding” for novelists, essayists, poets, or even general non-fiction writers even means? Or, conversely, are you sold on the necessity of branding your writing and excited about the opportunity, but completely intimidated by how exactly to go about it? 

I confess I was solidly in the cringe camp for much of my early writing life when discussing authors as brands. But that’s because I was (as my above “corporate sleaze bag” comment might have hinted!) operating under misconceptions about what branding is (and possibly being unkind to sleaze bags too . . . but I digress).

. . . .

In a nutshell, [James Patterson] says to think of “brand” as a relationship you have with your readers. What can readers turn to your books for—and never be disappointed? What can they depend on you for that you will always deliver?

I also really benefited from Mike Loomis’ take that “personal branding does not mean a fake façade.” Rather it’s “the public expression of your calling.”

Thinking of brand that way—as a promise and a commitment rather than a hard sell—eased my concerns about seeming overly “salesy” or gimmicky.

. . . .

Why YOU (and every author) needs a brand

First and foremost, having a clear brand finds you readers—who then, hopefully, become loyal, voracious fans.

Regardless of genre or form, Trad published or Indie, the biggest struggle authors face is getting noticed and not having their book(s) fall into obscurity.

Knowing precisely what your brand is (what you offer readers!) gives you an action plan to attract readers, gain visibility, and stand out in a very crowded marketplace.

A strong, clear, consistent brand is:

  • a magnet to new readers (Ooooh, this looks and sounds like my kind of book!)
  • a reassurance to return readers (I really liked his last book—and this one is awesome too!)
  • a comfort to true fans (Insert YOUR name never disappoints!) that keeps them coming back to you book after book

Two side benefits of knowing your brand:

1. It makes almost all aspects of marketing and promotion easier.

. . . .

2. It is a map for deciding future projects. 

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

Regarding James Patterson, PG will note that the first 25 years of his career was spent working at a very large New York advertising agency. One of the things ad agencies do for their clients is to help the client to create a high-quality and memorable brand.

A good brand is worth a lot of money, whether it’s Coca-Cola (what’s the price difference at your local grocery store between a 2 liter bottle of Coca-Cola and a 2 liter bottle of generic cola that may taste pretty much the same?) or James Patterson or JK Rowling?

How much did JK make on her first book during the first six months after its release? How much does she make now when she releases a new book of almost any sort? What about the difference in the advance she received then and receives now?

You’ll also note that Ms. Rowling is very picky about what products are associated with Harry Potter and friends. Has anyone seen a Harry Potter drag strip? A line of heavy construction equipment named after Harry?

One way to receive a strong letter from a large law firm is to use Apple’s or Coca-Cola’s brand without permission.

Should you ignore the letter and go ahead regardless, you’ll want to have a very good group of attorneys lined up ahead of time. They won’t work for free. A great many top-quality attorneys will turn you down flat absent a huge retainer fee paid upfront because they know how hard Apple or Coca-Cola will work to not only slap you down, but to make an example of you that will intimidate anyone who thinks about following in your footsteps.

On a regular basis Forbes magazine publishes a detailed evaluation of The World’s Most Valuable Brands. The article includes a description of the methodology they use to separate brand value from the overall value of the corporation that owns the brand. It’s definitely a quantitative process.

Here are the top ten on Forbes’ latest list:

RankBrandBrand Value1-Yr Value ChangeBrand RevenueIndustry
1Apple$241.2 B17%$260.2 BTechnology
2Google$207.5 B24%$145.6 BTechnology
3Microsoft$162.9 B30%$125.8 BTechnology
4Amazon$135.4 B40%$260.5 BTechnology
5Facebook$70.3 B-21%$49.7 BTechnology
6Coca-Cola$64.4 B9%$25.2 BBeverages
7Disney$61.3 B18%$38.7 BLeisure
8Samsung$50.4 B-5%$209.5 BTechnology
9Louis Vuitton$47.2 B20%$15 BLuxury
10McDonald’s$46.1 B5%$100.2 BRestaurants

Maximizing Your Amazon Author Central Page

From IndieReader:

When was the last time you gave your Amazon Author Central profile some love? For most indie authors, the answer is “not recently.” And, if you haven’t set it up yet, you aren’t alone, but you’ll want to take the time to do it today. Your Author Central page is possibly Amazon’s best book marketing tool for indie authors. It’s your very own landing page; it represents you as an author, which is really critical, and you should treat it as the important platform it is.

. . . .

Did you know that you can have a custom Author Central URL? You can. And you should take a moment to set this up in your Author Central dashboard. That way you can start using the URL as you’re sending readers to Amazon to preview your books. Does this seem superficial? It’s not. With marketing, you always need to consider what you can do to make it easy for potential buyers to click that Buy Now button. A clean, direct URL on your website, social media, business cards, etc. can play a huge role in making that happen.

You can use your Author Central URL in anything, even your email signature! I often use this URL in the back of my books. It makes it easy for readers to go to my Author Central Page to sign up for author updates, and I always include it if I’m asking them to review the book.

. . . .

One of the first things you should add, after your books, is a bio note. Keep it short! Why? Because while a longer bio might look fine on your book page, it’s a lot harder to read on your Amazon Author Page. It’s tempting to go longer, but most consumers will not take the time to read through to the end – as interesting as the content might be. Save the longer bio for your website and use something short and catchy on your Amazon Author Central Page.

The best bios include a little bit about the author and leave room for your website, social media accounts, even your newsletter sign-up. You can also list upcoming releases, which is a brilliant book marketing technique that proves this is NOT a stagnant promotional strategy. What you really want is to begin your bio with compelling details that leave a browser wanting more, then provide links where they can get it!

Link to the rest at IndieReader

Readings, reinvented

From The Bookseller:

I had been working throughout 2019 on widening out and experimenting with the format of book readings. I took my second novel, Lanny, on the road with two musicians. We did semi-improvised performances, somewhere in between a reading and a gig. Overseas, I re-wrote sections of the book using submitted text from local audiences so the readings became bespoke collaborative one-offs, and the book changed from place to place.

I guess at the root of this is a slight discomfort with the way we put authors on pedestals. I think it’s far more interesting to share the stage. More than that, it’s my basic responsibility. The privilege of having an audience or a readership, the sheer good fortune of that, means one should make every effort to support the work of others and where possible divide any limelight between many voices, many types of work. The old format of author on stage reading from the new book, followed by intelligent questions from a well-prepared chair, followed by audience questions (nine good questions and a mansplain, as the formula goes) can be wonderful, but we have plenty of it. It may be a little tired, and a little limited, as a way of sharing literature. It also perpetuates a fairly simplistic and limited economic model, which can also grate (I love a signing queue as much as the next bookseller) but perhaps not as generative or suitable to our increasingly diversified methods of cultural participation as it needs to be, if we want to keep books and book culture alive and relevant.

To this end we had been planning a project at the Union Chapel called ‘The English Soundwood’. It grew out of a multi-performer project I did when Cheltenham festival kindly invited me to curate events in October 2019. For that first event we had poets, novelists, memoirists and musicians, all performing together. The Union Chapel gig was going to widen it out further to include more musicians, a bigger visual element, audience participation, puppetry, live technological enhancement and so on. And, like everything, this has been postponed.

So this Sunday I will find myself a long way from sharing the stage with others. I will be standing alone in an empty venue, reading not new work, or collaborative work, but old work. In order to support a beloved venue and their extraordinary charity, the Margins Project, I’m reading the whole of my first book, Grief is the Thing with Feathers, as a livestream. The idea being that even if you hated my first book, you could buy a ticket and not watch the livestream, and you would be supporting a great organisation.

Readings are a funny thing, and I don’t know what it will be like to do a whole book in an empty chapel. I’m not an actor, so I don’t even know where to look, if there’s no audience. And will I lose my voice? Not that my book is very long, but still, when was the last time I spoke for over an hour with no break? Also peering over my shoulder like an intimidating crow, is Cillian Murphy, who very much made the book his own when he starred in Enda Walsh’s stage adaptation in 2018. I can hear him in my head. I can literally see him in the text because he drew all over my paperback copy. So I need to banish him, because nobody wants a cod-Cillian, a faux-Murphy.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

PG would love to see a robust analysis examining the economics of a reading/book signing for an author who isn’t a noted celebrity.

How much time does it take to prepare?

How much time and how expensive is it to travel to a bookstore, then return home afterwards? (PG understands that travel times may vary, depending on many circumstances, but he does know of at least some traditional publishers that expect non-famous authors to be willing to drive for 1-2 hours each way to appear at a book signing.)

How does the author feel after returning from a 2-4 hour book signing? Refreshed and ready to write? Or exhausted in the way some introverts are after being coerced into interacting with a bunch of strangers who have never heard of them or their books?

What’s the author’s hourly income generated by a book signing, considering time spent preparing, traveling back and forth, sitting behind a table for x hours, packing and unpacking whatever the author is taking to the signing, recovering after the signing is over.

PG thinks more than a few book signings take at least an entire day during which an author could be sitting comfortably at home working, researching, editing, etc.

Serious publishers pay a lot of money buying ads, pumping up the sales force, reaching out to bookstore owners, etc. In addition to advertising and promotion costs the publisher pays to third parties, the publisher is also paying its employees while they’re doing promotions, marketing, pitching store owners, etc., etc.

An author who is also a skilled public speaker or pitchperson might command high speaking fees or receive a generous commission for using those talents in a commercial venture other than promoting her/his book.

While sales commissions vary widely from industry to industry, it isn’t unusual for a commission sales person to receive 30-40% of the amount the employer receives from a customer who purchases goods after being pitched and charmed by a good sales rep.

No professional sales person would spend three or four hours to receive a commission equal to what a traditionally-published author receives from a book-signing at which she sells 25 trade paperbacks.

PG wonders if an author going shopping or running errands wearing a sandwich board might earn more than an author sitting in a bookstore signing books.

Wikimedia Commons

Anyone who is interested in exploring this marketing system can buy the materials necessary here.

Book Marketing Services/Agencies/Consultants

PG is interested in knowing whether any visitors to TPV have had good experience with a third-party marketing person/agency with respect to their indie book sales.

If you qualify, if you could explain a bit about what the marketing activities consisted of and what you think the marketing person/service did that you could not have done yourself or did better than you could have done yourself.

PG is not inviting a flood of canned pitches from people who work in the book marketing business, but will welcome an intelligent explanation of what a book marketing expert can deliver that most authors could not or could not do as well.

PG understands that many authors treasure their time and would rather write than market. However, many indies who want to earn a living, earn enough to pay the house payment, etc., don’t have excess funds sitting around to spend on some individual or group that doesn’t deliver real value, so PG is looking about information concerning profitable expenditures on marketing services that clearly earn more than they cost.

PG thinks there’s a good financial case for most indie authors to hire a good cover designer or collect a favor from a friend who knows what she’s doing in cover design. Good covers sell books. They won’t make a bestseller out of a mediocre book, but they can catch the favorable attention of people looking for books on Amazon or elsewhere.

He’d be interested in hearing what type of marketing services, if any, provide a similarly reliable return on investment.

Paid Reviews – Good? Bad? Meh?

More than a few indie authors use paid reviews as a promotion tool.

The big dogs in this business are Publishers Weekly and Kirkus.

PG understands that both PW and Kirkus use a lot of freelancers for their reviews. PG is not aware that either company publicizes the amount it pays freelancers for a review, but people who claim to be doing this work now or claiming to have done this work in the past few years report a range of fees earned. PG has not seen/heard of any number above $100 as the amount the freelancer receives. Other numbers bandied about include $50 or $25 per review.

Of course, PW and Kirkus charge indie authors much more for a paid review.

According to its website, Kirkus charges $425 for a “Traditional Review”.

Publishers Weekly says “BookLife Reviews will be written by Publishers Weekly reviewers.” On the Booklife.com website, one learns that the cost is “$399 for a complete review with takeaway, comp titles, and design and production grades, written by an expert Publishers Weekly reviewer, with a six-week turnaround time.” Four-week turnaround costs $100 more.

Seems like a reasonable deal. Including reviews in promotions, advertisements, KDP descriptions, etc., seems to help sell books for indie authors. Basically, the calculation goes something like this: “If I spend $425 on Kirkus, will placing an excerpt from a “Kirkus Reviews” reviewer in my book description sell enough additional books to earn back $425 in increased royalties?

Since both companies are continuing to offer this paid review service, PG concludes that a lot of indie authors are happy with the results they see from their investments.

So, beyond the blurb-quote, what does a PW or Kirkus individual (likely freelance) reviewer deliver for the $50 or so she/he receives?

PG understands that some reviews that indie authors have received have included factually-inaccurate statements about the book’s content. Something the reviewer said was in the book was not, in fact, in the book or other errors of a similar nature.

In other cases, some indie authors have wondered whether the reviewer read the book at all.

Perhaps most troubling, some indie authors have reported that the reviewer included some nasty criticisms about the book that have not seemed justified. The blurb was OK, but the remainder of the review was extremely disrespectful toward the author and his/her book.

According to what people in a position to know have told PG, even indie authors who have sold and continue to sell a great many books and earn very respectable royalties have received this treatment.

On a few occasions, the indie author has suspected that the only one-star review a book received on Amazon (accompanied by a nasty, sometimes factually incorrect description of the book) had been written by the same person hired by PW or Kirkus to write the paid review.

If these sorts of activities are taking place, a few questions arise in PG’s mind:

  1. Does anyone who is employed by Kirkus or PW on a full-time basis actually read the reviews that authors pay for to determine if they have any basis in fact?
  2. Is there any quality control built into the indie author review program?
  3. Is the difference between the $400+ the author pays PW or Kirkus and the $50 or so that the freelancer receives pure profit for PW or Kirkus?
  4. Does PW really use an “an expert Publishers Weekly reviewer” for its paid reviews?
  5. Do Kirkus and PW use the same reviewers for the paid indie reviews that they use for the reviews of traditionally-published authors that appear in the Kirkus (“Trusted since 1933”) and PW printed reviews and reviews that appear on the kirkusreviews.com and https://www.publishersweekly.com websites?
  6. Do Kirkus and PW have any written contracts with the freelance reviewers who write paid reviews of books by indie authors?
  7. If there are written contracts, is there any agreement by the freelance reviewer that she/he will write an accurate review after reading the entire book and not take any actions elsewhere that may reasonably be expected to diminish sales of the indie author’s book?
  8. Are any Kirkus or PW reviewers would-be traditionally-published authors who have drunk the NYC Kool-Aid that says all indie authors are trash?

A couple of additional questions arise in PG’s mind. He suspects he knows the answer, but he’ll ask them anyway.

  1. Do traditional publishers directly or indirectly pay for reviews of their books in PW and/or Kirkus?
  2. If so, how much do such Kirkus and/or PW reviews cost traditional publishers?
  3. Are reviews created for traditional publishers written by the same “expert Publishers Weekly reviewers” that write paid reviews for indie authors or is there a much different group of reviewers that write the TradPub reviews?

End of rhetorical questions.

PG doesn’t know if the descriptions of poor behavior he has heard about are isolated slipups in an otherwise honorable, fair, valuable and well-functioning service operated by PW and Kirkus or not.

He would be happy to hear about good or bad results from these programs from indie authors.

PG will note that some indie authors who are upset by one or more of the questionable activities described above say they will continue to use the Kirkus and PW services because they believe the blurbs still help sell enough books to more than justify the costs.

Feel free to share experiences, reactions, criticisms of PG or anyone else, etc., in the comments.

If you would prefer that such matters not show up in the Comments section of TPV, feel free to send a private message to PG via the Contact link towards the top of the blog. He not post any of the contents of those private messages without the express consent of the person who sent them.

While PG was obviously disturbed by what he heard about the Kirkus and PW programs, he hopes to hear that these are rare aberrations in a couple of publicity services that help indie authors sell more books.

Depending upon the response he receives from this post, PG may make further posts to correct, clarify or confirm what he’s described above.

Indie Romance Books Are Big Business, But Why Aren’t We Hearing About It?

From Shondaland:

Self-published writers are a large part of publishing’s billion dollar romance industry, but they still don’t get the credit they deserve. Here’s why that needs to change.

. . . .

It’s April 2019, and the line to get into Girl Have You Met, a book signing that focuses specifically on Black independent romance novels, is wrapped around the corner in Memphis, Tennessee. Women stand in line chattering, some with large bags they’ll use to hold their mountain of book purchases, others attempting to peer inside the glass windows to get an early glimpse of their favorite authors.

While those who peruse the New York Times to find their next read have probably never heard of most of these writers, the scene in Memphis isn’t uncommon at book signings that predominantly feature independently published romance authors. Pre-COVID, events like Book BonanzaBehind the Pen, Indie Love and a swath of other events held in cities like Los Angeles, Atlanta, and New York were the same — sold out.

To say that independent romance is a beast in romance publishing is a well-known understatement. Indie romance has actually changed the business across the board, setting trends in craft and marketing strategies. But perhaps most importantly, indie romance has reshaped the narrative of what kinds of stories readers really want.

Take, for example, popular book vlogger, Mina Thomas.

“When I read Something Like Love by Christina C. Jones in 2017, I cried over my first ever experience reading about a bisexual Black woman like me,” says popular book vlogger, Mina Thomas of MinaReads. “Indie romances often provide me with representation that is often slow to show up on the traditionally published market.”

. . . .

“People have such antiquated ideas of what a romance novel really is,” says acclaimed romance author, Marie Force, whose independently published novel, 2013’s Waiting for Love, helped set a new precedent for the enormity of the genre when it became a New York Times best seller. She’s sold a staggering ten million books to date, including over 900,000 books last year, the bulk of them self-published.

“Romance is a dynamic, diverse, billion-dollar-a-year genre that celebrates the act of falling in love in so many different ways,” she says. “Of course, the ‘act of falling in love’ is also associated with sex, so that makes the romance genre taboo or racy or ‘porn,’ a word romance authors hate to have associated with our work. It’s just so disrespectful of the width and breadth of what romance really is.”

Nevermind that indies often have scores of faithful readers who, on average, devour multiple books per week, and have tight, vibrant branding, which means they regularly dominate USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists (those indies would be New York Times best sellers too, if it still counted ebooks).

Link to the rest at Shondaland

Switching authors on to book fairs

From The Bookseller:

Back in March, I was watching Twitter like it was a countdown, waiting like so many others for the inevitable to happen and for the London Book Fair to be cancelled.

And so it was. Covid-19 hit the world and unleashed disruption like no other. The cancellation of physical events at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair comes as another sad but expected result. However, Frankfurt will push forward with an extensive digital programme, as many other book fairs have begun to across the world. The loss of the physical events has been tragic for both organisers and attendees, but as a writer, I think the enforced move towards more digital content is an overdue and welcome development.

The value of book fairs has long been accepted by publishers, agents and booksellers. For writers, not so much. Bookfairs are driven by their marketplace nature, full of business wrangling that revolves around writers but in practice doesn’t directly involve us. Despite this, fairs present a brilliant opportunity for writers to get a behind-the-veil look at how the cogs of the industry turn.

When I first attended LBF, I was awestruck by the sheer size of it all. Thanks to the dedicated Author HQ area, I attended numerous seminars that gave me an insight into the industry’s preoccupations and processes, networked with other writers, and met with representatives of book organisations such as the Society of Authors (which I joined) and BookTrust (which introduced me to BookTrust Represents, an initiative which promotes and supports authors and illustrators of colour).

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

A question occurred to PG while he read this – Does Amazon ever show up for book fairs?

Author Websites: Are You Missing These 5 Crucial Elements?

From BookBub Partners:

A well-optimized author website can help an author brand themselves and sell more books. It’s an important marketing tool that provides readers, publishing professionals, and members of the media vital information. But designing one can be overwhelming — and on top of writing and other marketing activities, remembering to update it regularly can seem like a chore.

So what should an author’s website include (and keep up to date) at the very least? What crucial elements should you ensure aren’t missing from yours?

We scoured dozens of successful authors’ websites to see what elements they include with the most regularity and showcase several examples of each below. This way, you can see different formatting possibilities when you’re deciding how to incorporate these details into your own site. (Some elements may overlap, as authors often include multiple on a single page.)

  1. Books (with retailer links)
  2. Author bio (in the third person)
  3. Author headshot (with photographer credit)
  4. A way to get updates (via email and/or social media)
  5. A way to get in touch (with you or your publishing team)

Link to the rest at BookBub Partners

Pen Pals – Five Ways Authors Can Show the Love

From Women Writers, Women’s Books:

Publishing is a highly competitive industry, with more than 60,000 books expected to be published this fall season alone. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when your book is on the verge of a breakthrough but your efforts to promote it are threatening to break you as well.

Whether traditionally or self-published, we’ve all been there, with experts telling us what to do at every turn. Build your platform on social media, drive readers to your website (why can’t they take a cab?), become a subject matter expert in a world where SME’s are a dime a dozen. So what’s an author to do?

I’d say start with acknowledging that it’s more blessed to give than to receive. With so many authors in the same boat, why not synchronize our rowing? Here are five ways to put this concept to work:

  1. Rachet up the Reviews—If you’ve recently signed with a publisher, contact a few authors with whom you are going to share a catalogue and suggest you exchange reviews, either in advance or after publication. Above all, we are writers – so why not harness our skills in the service of each others’ work? If you are -self-published, you can reach out to authors in your genre on GoodReads and do the same.
  2. Power in Numbers—Form or join an author’s group that meets online bi-monthly. Not only is this a morale booster, it is also a great way to brainstorm ideas. Authors whose books are similar can join forces and offer a presentation to a book club. Someone who needs help with their book cover or wants to explore audio-book recording options can ask for advice.

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

Book Tours – Analyzed

The post that appeared immediately prior to this one included a video in which the author was performing a video substitute for a physical book tour. When PG posted the video from YouTube, it had received 2,594 views.

PG is of the gigantically, perennially and irrefutably humble opinion that traditional book tours where a publisher sends an author out to visit a number of bookstores for an event in the bookstore to which anyone who learns about the event can attend.

Typically, the bookstore staff sets up some chairs for the audience, has several stacks of the book being promoted spread around the store and provides the author a table and a chair.

Thereafter, the author makes a short speech about her/his book designed (almost always by the author) to induce members of the audience to buy a copy of the author’s book. After completing the pitch, the author sits at the table and autographs books that members of the audience have purchased, often with a trite phrase, “I hope you enjoy my book!” or something the purchaser requests, “For Lurlene from her loving granddaughter, MaryJoJean.”

After chatting with strangers and signing all the books that are purchased, the author packs up, thanks the bookstore staff (perhaps leaving them some candy) and exits the store to travel to the next bookstore on the tour schedule. On a large tour across the US, airplane travel and hotels are involved.

For a really, really, really bestselling author, the publisher might send a minder to help schlep the author around from place to place.

To PG, this sounds like a mid-Twentieth-Century marketing strategy. (“Housewives! Have we got something new to brighten your humdrum day! The latest scientific innovation in kitchen cleaners!”)

Let’s break the thinking behind what passes for the marketing strategy behind a book tour.

  1. The author’s time costs the publisher nothing.
  2. We will send one of our authors to a physical bookstore. We’ll have the bookstore create some sort of poster announcing a book signing by Arthur Author for his latest book.
  3. If the publisher is feeling really generous, it might pay to have some cheap promotional brochures printed and shipped to the bookstore so the store will have something for an employee to sprinkle around for most of its customers to ignore. If it’s colorful, children might pick up a brochure to leave in the back seat of the car when they get home.
  4. The bookstore will have its employees set up chairs and a signing table, unpack a couple of boxes of books, place a few books around the store and stack a bunch on the signing table.
  5. In advance of the designated time, the author will leave an inexpensive hotel room, drive a rental car to the store after cruising around a strange city for awhile, walk into the store and start meeting total strangers.
  6. The introverted author who hates speaking to groups of people will thereafter speak to a crowd of strangers which will always be smaller than the author expected to show up.
  7. After trying to be interesting and entertaining for 15-20 minutes, the introverted author will then have to talk to a stream of strangers for about 60 seconds each, try to appear to be enjoying the process of acting like a homecoming queen, and write something trite in each copy of the book.
  8. Emotionally exhausted, after the last customer has left, the author will then effusively thank the book store manager and staff for their efforts, glance at the large stack of unsold books, and stumble out to their means of transportation and try to remember where the next book-signing is scheduled and when she’s supposed to be there.
  9. If the author is sufficiently depressed, she may estimate how many copies of her book were sold at the book-signing, calculate the royalties she will receive from those sales and realize that each of the store employees earned more on a per-hour basis than the author did for the time she put into preparation, travel, getting dressed up, undergoing the introvert’s torture of talking to a bunch of strange people (including some who were stranger than others) in the store, then more travel.

Perhaps PG is missing some giant financial or psychological benefit that accrues to a typical author as a result of a traditional book-signing or series of book-signings, but he doesn’t think so.

Then, let’s consider that Amazon sells more books than any bookstore or chain of bookstores in the world.

And, the author earns a higher royalty when Amazon sells an ebook than when Joe’s Books and Bait Shop sells a paperback.

But, as always, PG could be wrong.

Authors Get Real About Going on a Book Tour…From Their Living Rooms

From The Oprah Magazine:

Novelist Laura Hankin found out that the launch event for her second book was cancelled through a Facebook notification from the bookstore. “I cried very hard. But then I also was like, how dare you cry over a canceled book event? That doesn’t matter,” Hankin tells OprahMag.com. “It was just another bit of uncertainty amidst a whole world of uncertainty.”

Hankin’s novel, Happy and You Know It, was released May 19, about two months after the coronavirus forced much of the United States to shelter in place and work from home—a time when bookstores were cancelling events left and right and authors were forced to call off their promotional tours.

Now, Hankin is one of many authors, publicists, and booksellers who are figuring out the publishing world’s “new normal,” which has meant participating in Instagram Live events, answering questions on moderated Zoom chats, or—like Hankin did—making music videos.

Hankin decided to process her own mixed feelings in a song called “Indoor Book Tour.” Using cheeky lyrics about being stuck on the couch and having the in-person audience of a single cat, “Indoor Book Tour” highlights the solitude of what had once been the active, social act of book publicity.

Link to the rest at The Oprah Magazine and thanks to DM for the tip.

Writer’s block at the signing table

From Murderati:

When I’m sitting in a bookstore, autographing a book for a customer, I dread hearing these words:”You’re the author. Why don’t you sign it and write something clever?”  There’s nothing that kills my creativity faster than having a fan staring over my shoulder, waiting for me to spontaneously write “something clever” on the title page.  I’ve heard that many men are unable to pee in public restrooms while other people are around.  They stand at the urinal and strain and strain, but just can’t get things flowing.  I have the literary equivalent of shy bladder syndrome.  I just can’t seem to produce the expected stream of clever words while anyone else is watching. In the privacy of my own office, I do a lot of hair-pulling and pacing and muttering and grimacing when I write. It is not a pretty thing to see.  In fact, I think writing is sometimes a grotesque affair, and one that should remain out of sight of the public. But when you’re sitting at a signing table in a bookstore, you’re performing in public, and you’re expected to smile, not grimace, while you try to come up with something clever to write in every book.  It’s always a relief when a customer says,”Just sign and date it, please.”  

I’ve learned to come prepared with stock phrases to accompany my autographs.  On my first book tour, for HARVEST, I wrote “thrills and chills” on just about every book I signed.  It was my fallback phrase, pithy and appropriate and somewhat clever.  It allowed me to face a line of customers without panicking that my brain would suddenly go blank.  On later tours, I began to vary it a little, just so I wouldn’t write the same thing for every customer standing in line.  I wrote “Enjoy the thrills!”  Or: “Many thrills!”  or “Great to meet you!”  If the book was for a special occasion — say, a birthday — I”d write :”Happy Birthday!  May it be thrilling.”  But I still fall back on tried and true phrases that don’t require me to wrack my brain for something spontaneously clever.  

Link to the rest at Murderati

The art of the normal

From The Bookseller:

Super Thursday has arrived early this year. Thanks to some overexcited reporting, the annual media frenzy that follows the yearly revelation that a lot of new hardback books are published in the autumn, has been focused on early September, rather than October, as we used to know it.

For numbers people, here are a few. Yesterday (3rd September) around 260 trade hardbacks were released.

. . . .

Come “real” Super Thursday on 1st October, we go again with some 450 trade hardbacks, a healthy increase on 2019, but mercifully down on 2018’s record.

This is not new, of course. For as long as there have been books, there appear to have been more of them than there are readers. Overproduction has often been denounced as a plague, but rarely have we done much about it. For publishers, a book is the thing that can cure all of our ills—just one more, as I’ve been known to say while on my way to the bar. It is easy to scoff, but the media’s fascination with this subject should not be taken too lightly, not least because for all of the smart campaigns that will be launched between now and December, this one costs us not a jot (except perhaps in reputation). In fact, we ought to be revelling in this big moment for books, just as we can take solace from how books kept us entertained and informed during the lockdown.

The trade is not just about big books (though we might like them), but also about the people who write and sell them. As the author Joanne Harris argues, for writers these weeks will likely just be “confusing, stressful and culminating in annihilation”. For booksellers, as pictures circulating on social media of stacks of as-yet-unopened deliveries suggest, it is both a physical and mental assault course.

This time around there is the added spice of having to contend with the new normal. We are often accused, in this sector, of denying the obvious. This year we cannot. In his half-year results address, Penguin Random House chief executive Markus Dohle talked about a world in which online book sales have become more important. He is not wrong; Covid has shown us all how fragile a supply chain can be when it is reliant on customers wanting to visit physical locations together.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

PG wonders if traditionally-published authors ever question whether it’s a good idea for their books to be released on the same day as hundreds of other books are released.

PG also wonders how good a job underpaid publicity people and unpaid interns do with providing excellent support for a massive launch of so many books at once.

PG will note that the OP is focused on the British book business, but large US publishers have similar and often synchronized book release schedules.

If your debut novel is released on the same day as Delia Owens’ second novel is released and JK Rowling’s US publisher releases a new Harry Potter sequel, guess how much attention your book will receive.

For publishers, building up enthusiasm among the literati and press might be a great idea.

For an individual author’s book dumped onto the market along with a bunch of other new books, maybe not so much.

#1 Most Popular Book

In connection with the release of Mrs. PG’s latest book, she ran a price promotion on the first book in this series, featuring a female Oxford professor/amateur sleuth.

Yesterday, early in the evening, she checked the performance of An Oxford Murder, Book 1 of her series, and was pleased to discover that it had a Best-sellers rank in the US Free Kindle Store of #1 for all ebooks, regardless of genre.

A bit earlier this morning, her book was still ranked #1 overall in the US and, on Amazon UK, #3 for Historical Mysteries.

When PG just checked, the book was ranked #4 overall for free books and #1 in Historical Mysteries, #1 in Women Sleuths and #2 in Literature & Fiction, each in the Free Kindle Store. It’s still hanging in as #3 for Historical Mysteries in the UK store.

Mrs. PG has always enjoyed good sales at the launch of a new book and for her free book promos, but this one is particularly good.

With respect to her latest book, Murder at Tregowyn Manor (which is priced at $2.99 for the ebook), most of her sales are coming from the US, as usual, but she’s also generating nice sales numbers from Australia and the UK as well.

PG shares these results for the benefit of other indie authors who may find them useful for their launch plans.

PG thanks all the kind visitors to TPV who have continued to support Mrs. PG’s books over the years since the launch of TPV.

5 Basic Rules of Social Media

From Social Media Just for Writers:

It’s so important to converse with readers, friends, and influencers in your sphere. If you don’t allocate time to chat, you are missing the point.

Because at its essencesocial media is social. So, to engage in social media and not allocate time to socialize, well, it’s antithetical to the very premise of social media.

. . . .

Be a social butterfly, in the best sense possible. Social media was never designed to be a broadcast messaging system the way radio and television are. Conversations are the backbone of social media, and that is what distinguishes it, and that is what has fueled its dominance in marketing. The beauty of social media for authors is that it allows you to converse with your readership in a manner that was never possible before Facebook was created. Indie authors have a powerful medium with which they can market their books, converse with their readers, answer questions in minutes, and further their relationships with their loyal readers, even though it’s all done virtually.

Don’t attempt to be the prom queen; strive to always be authentic and care about others. Don’t talk solely about yourself. Social media is an inclusive media. You will get further and do better if you help others, including helping other authors in your genre. You can interview your colleagues for your blog and share information about their promotions.

Link to the rest at Social Media Just for Writers

How to Make Book “Sales Copy” Feel Like a Simple Conversation

From the Nonfiction Author Association:

You’ve put a ton of time into writing your nonfiction book and now you’re ready to sell a lot of copies, make a positive impact, and gain a loyal legion of fans.

. . . .

With all the social media platforms and digital marketing channels open to you these days, there’s no reason why this vision can’t come to fruition.

However, to achieve this goal you’re going to need an ongoing promotional campaign, the basis of which is strong “sales copy” for your book.

Now, I just put the term sales copy in quotes for a reason.

Over the last 12 years I’ve crafted marketing copy for over a hundred authors who’ve written books they intended to sell to people all over the world. However, many of them felt squeamish when they heard me use the terms “sales copy” or “persuasive sales copy” when talking about their marketing content.

The reason is terms like “persuasive sales copy” sound like a ploy you use when you want to trick or manipulate people into buying your books. And nobody wants to do that. The good news is that you don’t have to.

When written properly, persuasive sales copy can have the same feel as a friendly conversation you’d have in a coffee shop with a potential reader of your book. No hype. No fluff. No razzle-dazzle and no manipulation. Just straightforward honesty and authenticity.

. . . .

Today you live in a global economy that is tightly connected by social media platforms and video conferencing tools that enable you to speak with people around the world as if they were sitting right next to you.

This connectivity empowers you to sell your book to anyone, anywhere, any time. So, if you have a book that can energize, stimulate, enlighten, educate, or entertain, you need to let people know you have something valuable to share with them.

. . . .

In today’s online market it is easy to shy away from writing sales copy and simply substitute it with a large volume of blurbs, posts, articles, and videos that are intended to create “awareness” for your book.

Creating this content is definitely a sound strategy. However, at some point you also need to craft compelling sales copy that motivates readers to buy your book NOW …instead of later, or never.

. . . .

As I mentioned earlier, compelling book marketing copy can be written in the same tone as a casual chat between two friends in a coffee shop. When you understand this, then “persuasive sales copy” should no longer be a phrase that makes you apprehensive.

There is no doubt that marketing copy filled with hype, fluff, and unrealistic promises will turn people away. However, marketing copy with a casual, friendly tone can be highly effective if you lead people through a simple motivating sequence that 1) shows you have a precise understanding of what readers want, desire, or need; and 2) communicates the clear-cut benefits they’ll derive from reading your book.

It really is possible to do this by writing sales copy in a style that mirrors the tone and feel of a casual conversation you’d have with a good friend.

. . . .

To stand out in a crowded market, your book marketing copy needs to have a distinct voice in which it is written. The key here is to avoid writing your marketing copy in a “salesy” voice, and instead write it in a straightforward authentic voice that is true to your book.

For example, if you’ve written a self-development book that has a nurturing tone, write your marketing copy in a nurturing tone. If you’ve written a business book that has an authoritative edge to it, give your marketing copy an authoritative edge. If your book has a witty attitude to it, write your marketing copy with a witty attitude.

Chances are the voice and tone of your book is a direct reflection of you. So if you write your marketing copy through the same authentic voice as your book, it’s going to be much easier for you to give it a conversational tone that resonates with your readers.

. . . .

  • Avoid using worn-out clichés that don’t really mean anything like “second to none,” “cut above the rest,” or “to a whole new level.”
  • Stay away from basic general statements and popular buzz phrases.
  • Make sure your benefit statements are detailed, specific, and to the point.
  • Craft your copy as if you’re going to read it to a potential buyer while the two of you are drinking coffee together.

Link to the rest at the Nonfiction Author Association

Can You Zoom Your Way Up The Bestseller Charts?

From IndieReader:

Tips for Hosting a Virtual Author Event

If you’re stuck indoors, like most of us are right now, it’s time to consider hosting a virtual event. It’s a simple way to market your book from home! I’ve done webinars on Zoom and similar platforms for years. I love doing virtual events and I jump at the chance to do as many as I reasonably can.

Even if you are unsure about virtual events, I encourage you to add this strategy to your repertoire of marketing tools because it’s a solid way to promote a book.

Yes, we absolutely love in-person events, and there’s nothing like meeting readers and attendees and shaking hands (can we still do that?). But in the absence of in-person gatherings – or if you don’t want to travel – virtual events can be really fantastic. So let’s dig into some of the how-to’s for these events, so you’re prepared to knock it out of the park!

1. Check Your Surroundings

Make sure the area behind you on camera is not cluttered! You don’t want attendees to focus on that stack of books on your desk instead of you. Ideally, get yourself a plain backdrop such as a wall or a lovely bookcase. You can even order fun screens from Amazon if you’re really eager to appear in front of a spiffy backdrop.

2. What’s Your Light Source?

The other extremely important element is lighting. You can easily check lighting on your phone by recording a video in the room where you’ll hold your virtual event. I love natural lighting, and I always try to keep the lighting as natural as possible. But if your room is devoid of a lot of natural light, you can try your existing lighting or get a ring light fairly inexpensively (again, on Amazon).

3. Be Sure to Smile!

. . . .

4. Where’s Your Camera?

It’s pretty easy to stare into your computer screen (I have done this a lot) but you really want to look at your camera because otherwise it seems like you’re gazing off and not paying attention. I have a small red dot by my camera to remind myself to pay attention to where the camera actually is.

It’s tricky at first because if we can see everyone, we’re inclined to look at them, but when you do that you really aren’t looking “at” them, if that makes sense. This takes a bit of getting used to, so don’t worry if you don’t get it on the first try. But put something by your camera so you’re reminded to look there. Maybe a big arrow!

Link to the rest at IndieReader

PG would add that it might be a good idea to do a practice run-through with a handful of friends as an audience and record it. Replaying the recording to see how things look and sound when you’re not in the middle of doing the online event can help identify issues you’re not aware of during the performance (and it is a performance).

Additionally, based upon PG’s experience doing presentations in meatspace, no matter how many or few show up online, be upbeat and enthusiastic about communicating with them.

Whether numbering 300 or 3, an audience will sense any disappointment you’re feeling if you don’t consciously plan to be and act upbeat. It’s a performance, not a conversation. (Yes, really. Even if you characterize the event as a conversation, if you perform poorly, it will be a bad performance and a bad conversation.)

If you communicate any disappointment to an audience, you’re communicating the idea that the people who are participating are not very important and/or that you feel like a failure.

How to use simple psychology and basic common sense to sell more books

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

Do you dream about creating a group of Superfans who will buy every book you write?

Yes? Well, then, do you make it easy for readers to become your Superfans?

. . . .

I want you to keep the idea of “Superfans” in your mind as we talk about today’s topic. To create these Superfans, we need to make sure that we don’t do anything to frustrate our readers. In fact, our job is to make purchasing/following/subscribing as easy as possible.

In order to do that, there are three simple steps:

  • Create content in a reader-friendly format
  • Use simple psychology to help guide readers
  • Harness what we know about e-reader technology to make it easier for readers to find us — and buy more of our books

. . . .

I’m a science grad who became a science prof – so when someone from the publishing industry (in 1995) suggested that textbooks would be converted to electronic format, I jumped for joy!! After decades of lugging around massive science reference texts, the idea of tucking a computer disk into my bag was pretty exciting!

. . . .

Because the first Kindle wasn’t released until 2007, the idea of reading electronic textbooks was still over a decade away at that point. At the time, though, fresh out of university and thinking I knew everything, I was excited, but my fellow profs – who turned out to be smarter than I was – expressed concern about the differences in reading style. Honestly, back then, know-it-all me thought they were over-reacting.

Over the years since, I’ve done quite a bit of research into the differences between how people read via a paper source, like a paperback book, versus how people read via an electronic source, like a Kindle or e-reader.

. . . .

To sum up, people don’t actually read material presented electronically. Instead, they scan.

People “read” in a non-linear, non-continuous fashion. They will allow their eyes to take breaks between paragraphs. They will make use of headlines, graphics, bold text, italic text or lists to guide the movement of their eyes.

Another key finding from the existing research is that the more a person reads on electronic sources, the more they exhibit this scanning type of “reading.” This finding implies that scanning behaviour, or non-linear reading, is more pronounced amongst younger readers than older readers.

. . . .

The “Jars of Jam” study involved creating two different types of displays of jam in grocery stores. One display had many different flavors of jam, number of jars, size and shape of jars and varying prices. The second display typically had 2 flavors of jam and one size of jars, all at the same price. This experiment was carried out in different types of stores and in different locations within the store.

The second display (the simpler display) always sold many more jars of jam than the first.

Some feel this result is counter-intuitive. Wouldn’t people appreciate having more choices? Or are they, in fact, overwhelmed by too many choices with the result that they don’t make any purchase? The research indicates that they are, and that the sale is lost.

What’s the connection between the bread, jam jars, and turning readers into Superfans?

Look at the menu-line of your website. Do you provide numerous alternatives for a reader to choose from? Or do you use the menu structure to nudge people in the direction you want them to go?

For authors, the “Jars of Jam” theory applies in two critical places:

  • Website design – especially with respect to the menu-line and buy links
  • Promotional platforms and & newsletters – think BookBub

Which one below would you think is better for readers to find information?

Example #1

Example #2

If you answered example 2 you would be correct!

Why does BookBub sell so many books?

BookBub is one of the most successful promotional newsletters. Do you think the psychology behind the “Jars of Jam” correlates with the limited number of suggested books in each newsletter?

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

The Nothing Man

It has been some time since PG has paid any attention to a book trailer. When they first became a thing, he watched a few. They were pretty terrible, so he stopped.

He happened across the book trailer below and saw distinct improvements over prior efforts. That said, he still doesn’t know if they sell any books, but would be happy to read opinions on the topic in the comments.

Giving Back To Your Readers

From Writers in the Storm:

In my last two posts here on WITS I talked in general terms about building your author platform, both online and offline. Today I’m going to dig a little deeper into building a long-term relationship with your readers. 

. . . .

One key piece of information we ask potential readers to give is an email address. This allows us to keep them up to date on new releases, share our creative process with them via newsletters, and send the occasional promotional mailings. But what can we give them in return for this valuable piece of information?

Like many authors, I’ve been giving readers a free story download in exchange for signing up for my newsletter (I admit I stole this idea from the great James Scott Bell). You might think managing all those download requests will eat up most of your writing time, but the good news is the process can be automated.

. . . .

Now that you have something to give to the readers, you’re going to need somewhere in the cloud to store it where it can be easily accessed and distributed. There are many cloud storage providers out there, but Google Docs is probably the simplest solution. I have a specific folder where I upload and store giveaway files. This helps keep things neat and tidy and makes getting the download links a snap.

. . . .

You’re also going to need a way to collect and manage the email addresses you receive. You’ll also be using this same application to automate the delivery of your file. Two of the most popular solutions are Mailchimp and MailerLite. Both are free up to a certain number of subscribers, and both offer delivery automation. I’ve found MailerLite to be the most flexible and robust at the free level, and a good fit for most authors, but do your research and decide what works best for you as you scale up and move toward achieving you ultimate goal as a writer.

Link to the rest at Writers in the Storm

There’s no excuse for not knowing where your book fits in the market

From Nathan Bransford:

I know that the vast majority of authors haven’t worked in the publishing industry and aren’t spending their days acquainting themselves with its ins and outs. I know that for the uninitiated it’s increasingly difficult to tell the difference between traditionally published books and self-published books. I know you would rather just write your books and coast to fame and fortune without lifting another finger.

But real talk: If you don’t know where your book fits in the market and can’t come up with some comp titles published in the last 5-10 years, there’s really only one reason: you just haven’t done the research.

It takes hundreds of hours to write a novel. You can afford to spend an extremely important 2-3 hours clicking around on Google and Amazon to research what else is out there.

. . . .

it’s not enough to just write a good book and then let the magic of publishing take care of the rest. There was never a time when someone could “just be a writer” and it’s certainly not true now.

There are many, many reasons it pays to know where your book fits in the market, but they all really boil down to this:

  • You must know what differentiates your book as you’re pitching and promoting it.

If you’re pursuing traditional publishing, you’re going to have to write a query letter. If you’re pursuing self-publishing, you’re going to have to write good jacket copy, or at least know what good jacket copy looks like. If you’re planning a marketing campaign or social media presence, it’s helpful to know where your audience is and what they’re reading.

In order to really know why your book is special, you should know what else is out there. You should know who your potential readers are. And in order to do that, you have to have a sense of the landscape.

Link to the rest at Nathan Bransford

It’s Time to Radically Rethink Online Book Events

From Electric Lit:

Before the stay-at-home orders came down in Baltimore, the last thing I did in person was participate in a panel conversation about—ironically—“art and the apocalypse.” In retrospect, we should have cancelled, but the threat in Maryland still felt surreal; those were the days when it seemed like we could beat the pandemic by washing our hands.

I’ve been thinking about that panel a lot lately because my first novel is coming out in August, and I’ve been trying to envision a book launch without an in-person event. I’m embarrassed to be grieving for this tiny problem, which is less than negligible compared to all we have witnessed this year. But publishing a novel has been a lifelong dream for me, and book events have been an important part of that dream—because other authors’ events have been such meaningful parts of my own inspiration. I have vivid memories of electric readings by Victor LaValle, César Aira, and Tim O’Brien. I got teary-eyed watching a hundred public school kids crowd in to see D. Watkins at the Baltimore Book Festival. After hearing Valeria Luiselli speak about The Story of my Teeth, I was so inspired I wrote an entire short story in an afternoon. When my dreams have felt far away, when my fiction has seemed meager and hopeless, I have gone to a bookstore and sat on a folding chair and been reminded that books are my spirituality—they are my connection to my own humanity, and to my understanding of grace in others. The magic of a book event is in the revelation, fresh every time, that my very favorite thing to do, a thing I do mostly alone, is also the thing that connects me most closely to other people. 

As COVID has become our new normal, book events have started up again, in virtual formats. But like every other online substitute we’ve instituted—family Zoom calls, Instagram birthday wishes—these internet readings have lacked some of the magic of human connection. Is there a way to recapture that magic online?

. . . .

By the third week, I had swung from denial to despair at the never-ending stream of news of illness and death, health care system failures and government malfeasance. The experience of these months reminds me of when I fall asleep on the couch watching a movie and then refuse to get up to go to bed. I know that I will feel terrible sleeping on the couch, but all I want to do is keep sleeping on the couch. My friend Nicole calls this feeling “special features,” because back in the days of DVD, she would demand her partner play the special features after the movie so that she could continue to sleep. By my fifth week of staying at home, I felt like I was living in special features.

To alleviate the loneliness, I found solace in online book events. Bookstores and literary festivals, podcasts and grassroots publicity efforts, and publishers and authors had intrepidly brought their work and energy online, gathering readers together despite the pandemic with heroic success. I went to more book events online in April than I have ever been to in a physical month; there were nights I hopped between three different conversations, from Zoom to Crowdcast to Instagram Live; it was like wandering through a literary night market, the tents all patchwork-stitched together but the doorways tacked open to warm, inviting fires inside. In those first three lonely months, wandering through this nightly market has been a comfort.

But lately, I’ve started to wonder why these events have not yet evolved. Most events are still following the old-fashioned format of the in-person bookstore event, where two authors have a conversation, maybe with a short reading, maybe with an audience Q&A. Rather than developing new ideas for book events to suit the technology we’re using, the literary community is by and large continuing to do what we’ve always done. 

Don’t get me wrong—many of these events have been truly excellent. But the internet, which can be thrilling and inspiring and creative, rarely mimics the conventions of the physical world. So why are we still circumscribing book events according to the limits of what is possible in person? 

These restrictions are not ideal for digital space. In bookstores, the “in conversation” model works because it gives you the inspiration of being in the same room as the author, as well as the excitement of being part of an audience. Neither of those translates organically to Zoom or Instagram Live, where it doesn’t really feel like you’re in the same room. And while there is often a chat box, or little hearts floating up the screen when people “like” something, the sensation of being part of the crowd is abstract. Without this sense of community, some online book events have left me feeling lonelier than I was before. 

It’s time to start experimenting—and to try radically reinventing what a “book event” can be, in this radically different year. 

Link to the rest at Electric Lit

PG has six reactions to the OP.

  1. Don’t look to traditional publishing for technological innovation. Not in their DNA, not in their bloodstream, not in their frame of reference, not in their world.
  2. A great many authors are introverts and speaking to a large group of people, let alone pitching their books to a large group of strangers is akin to medieval torture. Some will put together a schtick-style personality to use in signings, but they still may not enjoy the experience, particularly if they have to repeat their schtick night after night. It’s even more depressing if they spend all prime writing time away from their keyboard and don’t sell very many books.
  3. What portion of readers will buy books in physical bookstores in the future? The historical origin of book signings is based upon the belief that if you can draw a lot of people to a physical bookstore and they hear an author talk about a book, they’ll pick up a copy before they leave. This assumes that they 1) prefer physical books to ebooks and 2) won’t pick up their cell phone and order the book from Amazon for a lower price, perhaps even while they’re listening to an author talk about the book.
  4. If Amazon is the preferred place for a lot of people to purchase books, why not focus energy and money online, where purchasing a book is a click away?
  5. If you catch a bookseller in a candid mood, they’ll admit that book signings are a pain to deal with. They have to keep at least one more person working in order to handle a crowd, which costs money. You have to order more copies of the book than you ordinarily would to make certain you have something to sell to people who attend, but you also probably have to pay someone to return a bunch of unsold books so you can use your limited budget to buy different books that people will buy. If someone outside the store wants to make a quick visit to buy a book and sees a mob of people in the front window, isn’t it possible that they may skip the purchase or go elsewhere because they don’t want to spend the time necessary to work through the throng to locate and purchase their book? Plus, maybe have to track down someone to take their payment.
  6. With regard to online gatherings, PG notes that human beings are marvelously adaptive creatures. Certainly, we like to physically gather with kindred spirits, but we can also become more accustomed to seeing someone’s face on an iPad. PG has already seen improvements in the quality of online presentations and meetings because a perceptive individual will try to improve her/his performance in a business/commercial setting, whether it’s a conference room, bookstore, coffee-shop interview or in a video conference. At the beginning of this pandemic, nobody seemed to think about their cat playing in the background during a video call. Now, only the terminally clueless fail to put pussy into another room and shut the door. And, if you’re dressed properly only from the waist on up, you should expect to show up on YouTube in your underpants, you idiot.

PG suggests that the book signing is an outmoded publicity technique whose time has past. If an author values his/her time, it is unlikely to be worth the time, effort and queasiness involved in talking to a bunch of strangers while worrying about flop sweat on your forehead and in your armpits.

Don’t Fall Into the Trap of ‘Precrastination’

From LifeHacker:

We live and work in a culture that values productivity (and in turn, profits) above pretty much everything else. But we’re also big fans of instant gratification. (Isn’t the best part about making a checklist adding a few things you’ve already done, just so you can tick them off right away?) As it turns out, when you mix the push for productivity with our love of instant gratification, you can end up falling into the trap of “precrastination.” Here’s what that concept means and how to avoid it.

Dr. David Rosenbaum, a psychology professor at the University of California, Riverside, first coined the term “precrastination” in a 2014 article in the journal Psychological Science. He describes it as “the hastening of subgoal completion, even at the expense of extra physical effort,” but it can apply to tasks (like office work) that don’t involve physical labor.

Basically, you precrastinate if you opt to put in extra effort in the rush to complete a task (and tick it off your to-do list) that may end up being unnecessary with a little more time and planning. Chris Bailey, writing for CNBC’s Make It vertical provides this example:

You and your team are gearing up for a complex project, and they’ve sent a number of emails asking for clarification on certain points. Rather than taking the time to write back in a thoughtful and deliberate manner or schedule a call to discuss, you send back a series of half-baked replies.

Task complete, right? Not quite. While you may have temporarily dealt with a few items on your to-do list, your lack of clarity generates further questions. As a result, more effort is needed to get everyone back on track.

How to avoid ‘precrastination’

The key here, Bailey says, is to identify when zipping through tasks is a good idea, versus when it’ll actually end up costing you more time in the end. 

Link to the rest at LifeHacker

Both the supply chain and book marketing are forever changed by Coronavirus

From veteran publishing consultant, Mike Shatzkin:

Just before the world changed, about five months ago on February 18th, we wrote in this space about two initiatives that made sense for all publishers to employ to raise revenues and profits.

One was Ingram’s Guaranteed Availability Program (GAP), which connects their Lightning print-on-demand capability to their ability to ship within 24 hours, delivering just about any quantity of books to justabout any account in the world. With just about any return address you want on the package. By mid-April, it was clear that the supply chain was already adjusting.

The other was Open Road’s “Ignition” marketing program, a highly automated way to sharply improve the performance of ebook titles. The tactics employed include metadata improvements, pricing adjustments, search-optimized discovery that brings in tens of thousands of new readers every day, 8 unique newsletters touching millions of consumers (about whom more and more is known every day), and an array of genre-specific websites that funnel readers to books they love. Building this capability involved many thousands of ebooks tracked across millions of consumers for more than five years.

Both of these capabilities required tens of thousands of titles, millions of dollars of focused investment, and laboriously constructed system support to build. Ignition required a commitment to build an automated marketing effort that works across many thousands of titles. This is not a good fit with a publishing business model that has always focused on a few new titles, not the thousands on the backlist, with dedicated efforts that are largely driven by hands-on human marketers.

It is not likely that any publisher, even the very biggest ones, could build what Ingram and Open Road have created. But beyond whether they could, it is even less likely that they would.  It took Ingram seven years to make Lightning Print efficient and tie it to “third party distribution”, the ability to ship the book “as” coming from somebody else. And Open Road, by dedicating massive marketing resources to build an automated capability that hardly connects at all to the marketing that publishers have always done, built something that it is almost impossible to imagine any of the biggest publishers shifting their focus to attempt.

The timing of the February 18 piece was accidentally prophetic. The world of publishing pretty much shut down less than a month after it was written. It is evident to many publishers that Ingram’s GAP capability has been a lifesaver. In a recent week, five of the top ten New York Times paperback bestsellers were being printed by Lightning. Those publishers know that they wouldn’t have been able to grab those sales with the normal book supply chain.

. . . .

Indeed, sales at Ignition are up 75% in the four months since we published that first piece. Forced lockdowns are good for online sales, and especially good for ebook sales.

. . . .

Publishers market manually. They use humans to examine their metadata and change it. They assign titles to marketers, who are charged with making them more visible to buyers and today that means online visibility for online buyers. They are experts at “publicity”, which means getting their titles featured to other people’s audiences. They have, to varying degrees, built lists of book consumers they can address directly with newsletters and emails. Some have “vertical” websites that give them billboards to feature their books.

But all of those devices are applied book-by-book by human marketers who are directed, intentional, intelligent, and extremely limited in how many moves they can make and how many titles they can touch. And, therefore, very expensive.

This is a very poor match even for a publisher with 5,000 or 10,000 titles on their backlist. The publishers’ standard approach is not at all useful for lists of 20,000, 30,000 or 50,000 titles. And that’s why what Open Road has created, the only truly automated book marketing program in the industry, is of such extraordinary value. And unless two or three very big publishers get together to build something that will require millions of dollars and years of work as a joint effort, that will not change.

. . . .

For a variety of reasons, the biggest publishers have been the slowest to join the party. For one thing, Ignition is designed for large and difficult-to-manage backlists. Even though it works for new titles as well, it performs a function — marketing backlist — that publishers with enormous lists built over decades always got along without. The reflex reaction of a publisher seeing the virtue in marketing backlist (and, in the online sales era, everybody does) is to do it the time-honored way: allocating scarce (for backlist) marketing resources where they would seem to provide the most benefit.

Link to the rest at The Idea Logical Company blog

PG will lay out the problem with big publishers.

They don’t really want to change.

And, if a Big Publishing CEO takes a wiggle toward change that costs any significant amount of money, the large international conglomerates that own four out of the five largest US publishers (ViacomCBS, which is all about TV and video, owns the fifth), will shut down that foolishness in a New York Minute or a Gütersloh Minute (Bertelsmann), Paris Minute (Lagardère), Stuttgart Minute (Holtzbrinck) or a New York Minute with an Australian accent (News Corp).

In these conglomerates, publishers play the strategic role of cash cows (not terribly fat cash cows, but, still cash cows). If conglomerate management wants to take a flyer on risky booming growth and capital appreciation, it will invest in something in Silicon Valley through its separate venture capital investment arm. No book persons will be involved.

Furthermore, to the best of PG’s knowledge, none of the five conglomerates which own the Big Five US publishers have made even baby waves in the tech world. The founders of next Google or next Amazon are not looking for money in Stuttgart. Palo Alto, Menlo Park and San Jose are just a few freeway exits away and everybody there is already fluent in geekspeak and moving very fast is how those investors thrive and survive.

PG hadn’t heard about Open Road’s “Ignition” marketing program as mentioned in the OP.

However a quick look gave him the impression that the organization is primarily a collection of book-oriented e-newsletters – see Our Portfolio.

The company touts:

Ebook Promotions

Feature your books in a newsletter that reaches over 1 million book lovers looking for their next favorite read.

Content Marketing

Showcase your brand, product or creator on one of our targeted digital properties. Smart, search-first, audience-focused opportunities.

Maybe there’s some magic juice happening behind the scenes, but Early Bird Books, the company’s largest email newsletter with a claimed circulation of 2.6 million doesn’t seem too special:

Early Bird Books provides a great service to ebook aficionados looking for free and discounted ebooks written by authors they love—and by others that they’re willing to try at a special price.

The Early Bird Books web and social channels provide fun articles, book lists, product recommendations, and other highly relevant content to keep consumers engaged on all of their devices.

Email newsletters, social media marketing and search-engine optimization are standard vanilla services, provided by any number of internet marketing agencies. Analyzing the results of such activities typically comes with the package as well.

But this may be news for New York publishers.

Self-Cancel Culture

PG doesn’t usually include two items from the same source on the same day, but he’ll make an exception for this one.

From The Wall Street Journal:

Every day brings news of another “cancellation”—a celebrity’s tweet incites an online mob, an article written in 1987 gets a corporate executive fired. The latest trend is self-cancellation, in which the offending party, rather than enduring the coming onslaught, self-flagellates and hopes for absolution.

Consider the case of Alexandra Duncan and her would-be novel “Ember Days.” The book was all set to be published by Greenwillow, an imprint of HarperCollins, when the author withdrew it. The problem? Parts of the book were written from the point of view of a black American, a person of Gullah heritage, from the Georgia and South Carolina Low Country—and Ms. Duncan is white. 

The book’s prepublication description led some of the novelist’s online acquaintances to question the propriety of a white woman writing from the perspective of a black American, and so she decided to cancel the book.

“My own limited worldview as a white person,” Ms. Duncan wrote in a statement, “led me to think I could responsibly depict a character from this [Gullah] culture. Clearly, the fact that I did not see the signs of the problem with my book’s premise . . . is evidence that I was not the right person to try to tell this story. I am deeply ashamed to have made a mistake of this magnitude.” 

. . . .

Evidently being criticized, in the world of literary wokeness, is the same as being canceled, so PW felt obliged to kill the article. “We regret the damage the publication of this story has caused this individual,” PW proclaimed, “as well as any other instances of violence enacted upon Black, Indigenous, and other people of color.”

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Sorry if you encounter a paywall)

PG has never been consulted by the management of HarperCollins (although he does recall conversations with an attorney or two working there), but he wonders if anyone thought of a pen name.

Additionally, Ms. Duncan would not appear to be on the wrong end of the political spectrum for a New York publisher. She appears to be a contributor to Our Stories, Our Voices: 21 YA Authors Get Real About Injustice, Empowerment, and Growing Up Female in America.

Perhaps the takeaway from this episode is that, in mid-2020, only authors of Gullah descent can write fiction that includes Gullah characters. Authors with a tendency to display paler shades of skin in public must only write about characters who are white.

As PG’s mind wandered about this issue, he asked himself whether authors of indubitable whitishness are permitted to write novels deriving from the Star Trek universe which include Worf, Tuvak, Guinan, Uhura or Geordi.

Must we begin the process of segregating black and white characters and authors to avoid giving offense to anyone?

For safety’s sake, perhaps we should have black publishers and white publishers as well. After all, the New York publishing world is between 97% and 98% white. What right do all those white publishers have exploiting black authors with advances and royalty rates equivalent to slave wages?

Back to pen names, people of all sorts have been using them for centuries to conceal their true identities.

From Powell’s:

Ever heard of Charles Dodgson? Or Samuel Clemens? Maybe Eric Blair? What about some more contemporary names like Madeline Wickham, Jim Grant, or David Cornwell? Award yourself a cookie for every one of those you recognized. They are, of course, the alter egos of world-famous novelists. They are the Clark Kents and Diana Princes of the literary world. In case you didn’t get them all, they are: Lewis CarrollMark TwainGeorge OrwellSophie Kinsella, and John Le Carré.

Authors have been using pen names since there were, well, authors. They’ve done it for many and various reasons, but it’s most often a pragmatic decision. Let’s talk about a few approaches to this.

Probably the least likely reason to use a pen name is the Reginald Dwight tactic. Or the Maurice Mickelwhite. Or the Chaim Witz. Elton John, Michael Caine, and Gene Simmons just sound a bit sexier, don’t they? Unlike other art forms such as music and thespianism — proper showbiz, in other words — there’s less disadvantage to a slightly nerdy name for an author. Lee Child is a little more striking than Jim Grant, but I doubt that was Lee’s reasoning. In fact, if you’re using a pen name to sound more rock ’n’ roll, then you’re probably in the wrong business.

. . . .

Gender swapping does, however, cut both ways. The rise of domestic noir — or, God help us, grip-lit — has seen women like Paula HawkinsGillian Flynn, and Ruth Ware come to dominate this particular field. Given that something like 70 percent of crime fiction is read by women, it’s hardly surprising that there is a thriving market for thrillers by women for women. But, like women had to do for the last couple of centuries, men are sneaking in with crafty pseudonyms: the gender-neutral S. J. Watson, for example, or my good friend Martyn Waites, who writes commercial thrillers as Tania Carver. Literary cross-dressing has been with us for hundreds of years and doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon.

. . . .

A much more common reason, and possibly one of the oldest, is good old sexism. The history of literature is well populated with women who either used men’s names or fudged it with some androgynous initials. Even some female authors that are household names today were first published under masculine pseudonyms: the Brontë sisters, CharlotteEmily, and Anne, were first published as Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. Others continue to be recognized by their pen names, like Middlemarch author George Eliot, known to her friends as Mary Ann Evans. These women chose male pseudonyms because it was felt they could not otherwise be taken seriously by readers. 

Speaking of Stephen King, the grandmaster of horror is part of a venerable tradition of big-league authors adopting pen names just because they wrote too damn much. King published a string of novels as Richard Bachman because his publisher felt readers couldn’t handle more than one a year.

. . . .

When I first had the idea for Here and Gone back in 2014, I knew this was something different. While I didn’t set out to create something more overtly commercial than my previous work, there was no denying that it sat closer to the likes of Harlan Coben and Linwood Barclay on the crime spectrum.

. . . .

Given the shift in subgenre and setting, a pen name became an increasingly obvious route to take. After much discussion, my agent and publishers agreed. In my mind, Haylen Beck is an entirely distinct entity from Stuart Neville.

Link to the rest at A Brief History of Pen Names, Powells

What is Typography, And How Can You Get It Right?

From Reedsy:

Typography is the art of arranging text in a legible and visually pleasing fashion. It’s not to be confused with typesetting, which describes the technical process of getting text onto a page.

From the lettering on a road sign to the flourishes on a Coke bottle, we see typography at work everywhere. Books, of course, are no exception. Whether you’re looking at the content or the cover, typography makes our favorite stories both readable and memorable. That’s why every indie author should keep it in mind when thinking about book design.

. . . .

Typography encompasses far more than choosing a font — and there’s a lot more at stake, too. Done right, it’ll draw readers’ eyes and get them to click “buy” on your product page. But if you phone it in, it can make your book stand out for all the wrong reasons, resulting in a sloppy-looking volume that’s a headache to read.

. . . .

1. Clear typography lets people access your story

If you say the words “book typography,” most authors will probably think of the title emblazoned on the front of their masterpieces. But before we start judging books by their covers, let’s take a look at the most important part of any volume: the text itself.

One of the less glamorous functions of typography is making a text easier to read. Clean and consistent type allows the reader to disappear into your words. Bad typography, on the other hand, diverts attention away from your writing, to the way it’s arranged on the page.

Worst case scenario, you might use a typeface that doesn’t pass the basic test of legibility. In that case, your readers will end up squinting at the page, using all their brain-space to decipher your words instead of enjoying them. Odds are, they’ll stop reading long before the book is done.

2. Beautiful typography draws readers’ eyes

Now, let’s talk about covers, an area where bold and beautiful typography can really shine. If you’re an indie author jostling for attention in a crowded marketplace like Amazon, an eye-catching title can make a reader zero in on your book.

. . . .

Choosing the right typeface for your book cover requires you to think beyond mere beauty. In addition to visual appeal, all the text on your cover needs to be:

  • readable
  • appealing at thumbnail sizes
  • genre-appropriate

Even the most gorgeous font won’t cut it if it’s illegible, confusing at thumbnail dimensions, or suggestive of, say, high fantasy when your book is a contemporary romance.

Link to the rest at Reedsy

PG suggests that, in the online book purchasing world (yes, he’s thinking mostly of Amazon), the cover is an advertisement for the book, plain and simple.

Yes, it needs to look like a book, not a microwave, but the purpose of the cover is to catch the eye of a prospective reader.

There’s a balance going on with every cover.

If your book is a romance, something about it needs to imply romance instead of science fiction. But if your cover looks almost identical to every other romance cover, it’s not likely to catch a reader’s eye in the sea of guys with their shirts unbuttoned or women in long dresses standing in front of mansions.

Yes, you can design your own cover. However, PG (who fancies himself as more appreciative of the visual arts and possessing a more nuanced eye than your typical plumbing supply shop owner) tried his hand at designing some of Mrs. PG’s early indie covers.

The covers were artistic triumphs (well, maybe artistic participation prize recipients), but they didn’t sell many books. Mrs. PG decided cheap labor wasn’t doing her very much good, so she hired a professional designer who had other clients writing in Mrs. PG’s genre and sales picked up nicely.

Communications in 2020: What Do Authors Value?

From Writer Unboxed:

I decided to ask a few authors and a veteran literary publicist—with many books to their credit—their their thoughts about value. Specifically, how have their marketing communications efforts evolved through the years, and what are some of the big differences between their various book releases.

. . . .

ROBYN HARDING, Internationally Bestselling Author of THE SWAP, out now

I published my first novel in 2004, before social media was widely used (or even created in most cases), so I was at the mercy of my publisher’s in-house publicist to promote my book. She arranged local television, newspaper, and radio interviews for me, and put me in touch with several online book bloggers. (I still remember being asked: What do you consider to be your best feature? I didn’t bat an eye then, but I would now.) My next few novels were promoted the same way. After taking a break to explore screenwriting, I returned to publishing with my first domestic suspense novel, THE PARTY, in 2017. The world of promotions had moved almost completely online, and I had much more opportunity to participate in my own publicity. Now, my in-house publicist gets my book into the hands of print and online publications for inclusion on lists and round-ups, which I share on social media to amplify their reach. (I’ve had my books in big traditional publications like People and Entertainment Weekly, but it didn’t seem to impact sales.) I usually write a few articles that tie into the theme of my book, and my publicist will place them. In 2017, I didn’t have Instagram or Twitter, so I was trying to promote a book and develop a following at the same time. Since then, I have found an amazing book community online, and have developed friendships with many bookstagrammers. When my latest novel, THE SWAP, was published on June 23, I felt such incredible support. I spent the entirety of pub day thanking people on social media. It was pretty great.

. . . .

CHRIS BOHJALIAN, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author of THE RED LOTUS (which came out on March 17, 2020 when the world shut down); look for the special 25th anniversary edition of WATER WITCHES on June 30

My 21st book was published on March 17, 2020, so the differences between my most recent release and the twenty that preceded it is like comparing apples and oranges.  It makes more sense to compare (for instance) my 20th novel with my first.  I have been writing since the Mesozoic era, and the big changes between publishing a book in the late 1980s and the present include:

— The dramatic decrease in newspaper and magazine coverage of books;

— The decrease in television coverage of books;

— The rise of the online book sites and the way readers give books one to five stars;

— The rise of thoughtful book bloggers and passionate book blogs;

— The rise of the social networks to sell books;

— The increase in small, dedicated book groups that meet in living rooms across America;

— The increase in national book clubs hosted by smart celebrities who care passionately about good books;

— The way digital audio has fueled monumental growth in audiobooks;

— The way eBooks have rendered book tours less fiscally viable;

— The way streaming networks have adapted books into limited series that really give a book a chance to breathe on the the screen;

— The way that online bookstores have made ‘discoverability’ of a new book more difficult for book browsers, because there are fewer bricks and mortar bookstores and they have smaller inventories.

Link to the rest at Writer Unboxed

How to Create Amazon Ads that Convert

From The Independent Publishing Magazine:

1. Know Your Audience

An overlooked aspect of your marketing campaign is the people who’ll be looking at your ads–your audience! You can spend hours on the rest of these steps, but they’ll be useless if you don’t know who you’re trying to target.

Your book won’t be for everyone, and that’s okay. Rather than trying to reach everyone, target your marketing directly to those who are most likely to read your book.

One great strategy you can use for getting to know your audience is to create ‘reader personas’. A reader persona is a short bio of a reader avatar that represents large sections of your audience.

With a reader persona, you’re basically writing to one person, which is a lot easier than writing general statements in your ads.

Here are some ways you can find information out about your audience and create your persona.

Use Google Analytics: If you have a website, you can find information about your audience through your Google Analytics dashboard. This will tell you a lot about your general audience including interests and nationality. Just check out the ‘audience’ section in your Analytics menu.

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Use Reddit: One cool way to find out more about your target audience is to use Reddit, which is basically a hub for a wide range of online forums. The site is incredibly popular too and some subreddits (the particular forums) have great participation numbers. 

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You can also use a Reddit Keyword Tool that will scrape popular phrases from a subreddit.

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Ask Your Readers: One of the easiest ways to get information about your ideal reader is to get info from the readers you already have. You can do this through email surveys, or even start a Facebook group to better connect with them.

Once you’ve got information written down, you can build a buyer persona on a Google Doc, Spreadsheet or any other way you see fit. HubSpot has a dedicated buyer persona builder that’s free to use. While the tool is built for B2B sellers, you can delete sections and add your own, so you can make it fit an indie author.

Link to the rest at The Independent Publishing Magazine

Online Marketing Doesn’t Have to Mean Lying, Cheating, or Gaming the System

From Anne R. Allen’s Blog:

A lot of authors get that deer-in-the-headlights look when I mention marketing books online.

But it’s pretty much the only way to promote books during this “stay at home” pandemic.

So we gotta do it. I understand your reluctance. Social media is full of trolls, scammers, and vast herds of bellicose morons.

And there’s also a lot of unethical and downright criminal behavior that gets labeled as “online marketing”.

Some online marketing “gurus” teach (expensive) lessons in manipulation, lying, cheating, and general flimflammery. I had one contact me just this week. He’d put a Google Alert on “guest blogging” and this blog came up, with my piece complaining about unethical behavior in requesting guest blogposts.

He’s such a lazy idiot that he hadn’t bothered to read the passage of the blog he cut and pasted into the email. But because I used the magic keyword phrase, he expected me to link to his website that teaches people to send unethical guest blogpost requests to bloggers like me.

Um, sure, right, dude. I’ll send my readers to Moron McSleazy University, so they can learn to use Google alerts to harass me.

Here’s the thing: trying to sell your books or services by gaming the system, abusing bloggers, and lying is a very bad idea. Even if you’ve paid a lot of money to learn how. What you want to do is establish a brand that people trust, like Stephen King, Doris Kearns Goodwin or Lemony Snicket—not Scams “R” Us. How do you do that? As Ruth told us last week, you reach success with patience and persistence, not tricks and gimmicks.

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1) Some Authors Claim Scams are “Genius Marketing.”

Some indie author left a Facebook comment on one of my posts about how Amazon scams are robbing real authors of royalties. His comment:

“What’s wrong with selling a 500-word book for $9.99? I call that good marketing.”

I naively tried to explain, “The reader is going to be angry and disappointed at being scammed and they won’t buy any more of this author’s books.”

The man replied, “Is this book plagiarized? Otherwise, this is genius.” 

I was gobsmacked. This “writer” equated “marketing” with “sleazy, dishonest behavior.” And he admired it.

You know, those Old West snake oil guys only succeeded because they left town the next day to escape being strung up by a posse of disgruntled customers. Not so easy to do on the Internet where you can be doxxed.

There are also “genius marketing” companies that charge thousands of dollars to authors to “buy in” to  99c boxed sets that may possibly get the author “USA Today Bestseller” status. But there’s also a guarantee of no income–because all the money is supposed to go to marketing. But…

  1. Most of these don’t work anymore because readers have bought the sets and found most of the books sub-par.
  2. There is remarkable bad will, bullying and squabbling in these boxed set groups.
  3. Often the companies simply take the money and evaporate. Maybe to teach at McSleazy U.

David Gaugrhan tweeted about a new one just this morning. $5000 to buy in for “guaranteed” USA Today status. Might we say “caveat emptor”?

Online marketing should be about establishing a brand and growing a readership, not getting fake credentials or making a quick buck and skipping town.

Link to the rest at Anne R. Allen’s Blog

PG will add that, for most authors, success is a journey. Overnight success is a rarity. There has been more than a single one-trick pony who bombed with the second book in the book world. Overnight success that leads to long-term success is even more rare.

An audience of readers who are anxious to check out an author’s next book is the closest thing to gold PG has found in the writing biz. If the author treats them right, they will buy the next book right away when it’s released, giving it a great boost under Amazon’s algorithms. These same readers will tell their friends, post on their blogs, Facebook, etc., about the new book. They’ll post positive reviews with thoughtful comments germane to the book and, often, talking about why readers with similar interests will like this book.

Theoretically, it’s possible to buy a service that will post fake reviews that are convincing, but, to PG’s knowledge, this has never worked. Too many similar reviews, too many generalities, too many exclamation points and a general odor of inauthenticity.

At some point in time, an artificial intelligence engine may be able to digest the text of a book and spit out phony reviews, but, to the best of PG’s knowledge, that hasn’t happened and isn’t likely to happen in the near future. For one thing, there are much better ways for an artificial intelligence operator/programmer to earn way more money than by selling fake reviews.

For this reason, smart authors work hard to build groups of readers who like their work. Email lists, advance review copies sent to people the author knows personally who won’t grind out something phony or formulaic, engaging blogs with regular visitors, writing reviews of quality books by other authors in the same genre – basic literary marketing blocking and tackling.

Readers who buy well-written books aren’t dumb. If an author exhibits an online personality that’s a genuine reflection of who she is, a personality that may well show up in her characters and her books, people who like the way she writes, thinks and is will tend to stay connected and want to read the next book.

Unless the book promotion shill is a lot smarter than the author’s readers, she/he won’t be able to fool those readers.

But PG could be wrong.

Lockdown diaries: the book marketer

From The Bookseller:

If you’d asked me how I was coping a month ago, the truth would have been not so well actually. I let the anxiety that so many of us have been feeling overwhelm me, and I was tired of all the Zoom. SO TIRED.

I was pretty good at keeping ‘work’ at ‘work’ before all this – I’d just stay in the office late before going to the theatre, a gig or dance class. I worked late a lot. My brain likes being alive in the evening. I was made for the London culture life! So what happens when that’s taken away? The PMS Pandemic breakdown is what happens. And what a rollercoaster of emotions that was.

Today I’m working hard on keeping balance and boundaries in place. I’m grateful for the new ‘hide self view’ update in Zoom – I love seeing other people but I found it tiring to see myself, I know I’m not alone in this. I never really took proper lunch breaks in the office, now I’m militant about that full hour. Ten minutes of morning yoga has become such a habit that I automatically roll out my yoga mat after making my bed now. Every morning. WHO am I?!

Usborne recently held a well-being seminar as part of Mental Health Awareness week, and I discovered the word bibliotherapy. Isn’t that lovely? I’ve never really been that much of a self-help reader but that’s what I’ve found myself steering towards during these times. I’ve felt the need to educate and reflect. If you’ve been feeling similar, I’d highly recommend listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED Talk on overwhelm in the time of Covid19. It’s wonderful, and might just be the conversation you also need to hear today.

Speaking of conversations, have you found that we’re having more valuable ones? As a marketer, the audience is always at the forefront of your mind, however, never have I felt such a strong desire to be truly connecting with them. I run a niche YA Instagram channel, which I often just about found the time to fit it in around campaigns, however the moment lockdown was announced my approach to this social channel changed. I officially introduced myself as a person to our followers in week 1 by sharing my private collection of comfort reads, and the conversations have blossomed from there. We’re ten weeks into the Usborne YA Social Distance Bookstagram Bingo and I cannot begin to express just how amazing these discussions have been.

Although I may be struggling to get through books at the pace I once did, I’m certainly not finding it difficult to talk about them. And that’s a marvelous thing. Thanks to the conversations I’ve had with our readers the last few months, we’ve collaboratively built The Usborne YA Book Club. It launches in a few weeks and I’m really excited to see how this grows and what learnings crop up.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

“a life saving growth of 300% in our D2C e-commerce sales during lockdown” – Verso

From The New Publishing Standard:

While many publishers have this past decade continued to rely heavily on bricks & mortar bookstores as a buttress against Amazon’s dominance of the online print and ebook market, UK publisher Verso has long since put its efforts into building a D2C (direct to customer) relationship with its audience.

And that has paid off handsomely, not just with a 25% increase on global sales year on year, but a massive 300% increase in its e-commerce sales in 2020’s first quarter while other publishers were hit by lockdown closing bricks & mortar stores, distributors like Bertrams, Gardners variously operational or closed, and Amazon prioritising non-book goods distribution.

Link to the rest at The New Publishing Standard

Marketing to kids in difficult times

From The Bookseller:

Many months ago, when we all sat in our meeting rooms, sipping coffee and bouncing campaign ideas around, I don’t think any one of us marketing folk could have predicted just how much our plans would be forced to change. The effects of the national lockdown on marketing campaigns and the publishing industry in general has been monumental, but when it comes to children’s books, there’s a whole extra layer of complexity. 

In the current climate, how can we ask parents to find the money to spend on books? What about those who don’t have time to read their kids a bedtime story? How can we reach kids and their parents in a sensitive, positive way? Many marketeers in publishing houses (or their own houses) will be wondering where to start. Here are some ideas for what seems to be working well right now.

1. Think audio

There are some new opportunities that have presented themselves during lockdown. Individuals are spending more time than ever with digital audio. Fun Kids Radio launched their ‘Stuck at Home’ podcast during the first week of lockdown, and have observed a 44% rise in streaming, with webpage views are up 126%. This is because they are creating useful, entertaining content for children, occupying them and which providing parents with a snippet of free time.

I’d highly advise creating an audio ad and distributing it across a network of interest-based children’s podcasts. Better yet, if you can get your author to record the audio (even on their smart phone) they can capitalise on their author brand, making the ad more sentimental and genuine. By utilising interest focused podcasts, you are sure to speak to your listeners at a time when they’ve chosen to engage. This is a tactical way to maximise on pester power.

Francesca Simon, the author of the wonderful Horrid Henry series, is also featuring on a podcast all about her title character. Her involvement will encapsulate children, those who are familiar with Henry’s adventures will relish in it, and the few that are yet to encounter his mischief will be begging their grown up to buy it for them.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

Maxing Out Your Readership

From Dave Farland, Story Doctor:

Certain books don’t just sell well, they sell far more copies than there it would seem that they have audience members. They aren’t just hits, they become a “phenomenon.” You know their names: Harry Potter, Twilight, 50 Shades, etc.

Before Harry Potter was released, I’d read an article talking about the Goosebumps novels. Analysts believed that there were 2.5 to 3 million fans of middle-grade novels. But Harry Potter “broke out” of the middle-grade bestseller list and was read by adults and teens and even kids who were younger than the intended audience. As a result it sold 130 million copies worldwide—and garnered an audience 50 times larger than logic dictates it should have.

It happens over and over. We eve know how that happens. Sometimes an influencer, someone like Oprah, will champion a book. Bill Clinton will walk into a press conference with the book in hand, or a superstar actress will be spotted reading it on a beach, and suddenly a novel like The Alchemist gets extraordinarily wide press coverage and surges into the “phenomenon” range on the bestseller lists.

Most of the time, it happens when publishers pay large bookstore chains to make nice displays of a book in their store windows, and the displays attracts wide attention from avid readers.

On other occasions, critics and reviewers on television take notice and create a hullabaloo, promoting the books with news articles.

Once a book gets enough sales, it will often glean Hollywood interest and get a movie tie-in, and the publicity for the film—which may be worth tens of millions of dollars–drives millions of more fans to the books. Thus you get a hit like Lord of the Rings that has great sales, but sold a hundred million more copies after the movies based on it came out. The same thing happened with Game of Thrones.

That’s the way that it has been done in the past, but I’ve been thinking about how we might create a phenomenon novel for Indie writers now, or in the near future. It wouldn’t be as expensive as some of the traditional ways, but it would be completely possible.

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The big problem with authors is that our books are so inexpensive, we don’t have enough profit margin for big advertising campaigns. It’s not quite like we’re selling yachts or cars.

But there are a number of ways to get inexpensive advertising—enough to create a big enough hit to justify expanding the campaign in stages. So you focus on going onto Goodreads, then creating a fanbase on Twitter or Facebook. Maybe you start a channel on Twitch, or put up some videos YouTube.

Many authors develop what we call “Street Teams” to help in such efforts. These are fans who help advertise on platforms where they have a presence, and I don’t know a really successful author who doesn’t have a couple of heroic fans who help out in that way. Of course, as an author you don’t want to take advantage of other people’s goodwill, but there are ways to thank your Street Team without paying huge sums of money.

Authors who don’t grow their audience may soon find that they have a shrinking audience, and most of us usually come to realize that the best way to grow our audience is to write another book.

Link to the rest at Dave Farland

6 Ideas for Promoting Your Book While Watching TV

From The Book Designer:

I’m one of those people who likes to watch TV to unwind, but just can’t sit there and watch TV. Know what I mean?

I don’t really like that about myself, but I’ve not only accepted it, I’ve learned to take advantage of it. I try to do something productive while sitting there – knitting, cleaning out my inbox, promoting my books, and so on.

That’s right. I promote my books while watching TV, and you can, too. If you’re a like me and find it difficult to just sit and look at the screen, try doing one of these book promotion activities the next time you’re sitting still in front of your favorite show.

1. Follow people on social media

Pull up the Twitter app on your smartphone and scroll through your notifications to find who has followed you recently — and follow them back. When you’re done with those, find a popular author in your genre on Twitter, and follow the people who follow her.

Do the same thing on other social networks, including LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram if appropriate.

2. Schedule tweets

Use a desktop tool such as Hootsuite or Tweetdeck or a phone app like Everypost to schedule your tweets several days out — all during commercial breaks.

You can also retweet what others share either from your computer or smartphone — all without missing any of the TV action.

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4. Create tipographics and share them on Pinterest

Tipographics — also known as tip-o-graphics — are tip lists presented as images. I create them from my blog posts.

Each tipographic image features just the tips from a specific post. I add each image to my “Book Marketing Tipographics” board on Pinterest, and link each image back to the original blog post with all of the details. 

Link to the rest at The Book Designer

9 Tips for Creating Amazon Ads that Convert

From Indies Unlimited:

Amazon ads can be a big opportunity for authors looking to up their sales especially during a time where it’s difficult to write the next book (like now, for instance). But if you don’t know how to use them intelligently, they can also be a big waste of money and time.

In this article, we’ll look at 9 tips all authors can use when advertising on Amazon, including:

  • How to get your book appearing next to the biggest authors in your genre
  • Why it’s okay to lose money on some ads
  • How you can make sure your book doesn’t end up in the wrong hands

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1. Choose Manual Keyword Targeting

Keywords play a huge role in ads because they help you control where your ads appear and who sees them. By default, Amazon chooses keywords for you to target–but you can select your own keywords for your Sponsored Product ads. You can do this by selecting ‘Manual targeting’ and then scrolling down to add your keywords.

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Sure, you can let Amazon do the targeting for you, but doing it yourself will allow you to explore more options and find better opportunities. You can find ad keywords in plenty of the same ways you’d find regular keywords, there’s even a dedicated tool inside Publisher Rocket to help you do just that.
It’s important to have at least 200 keywords in each of your ads–yep, you heard right… 200 keywords.

2. Target the Books of Authors in Your Genre

Using your ads to target a popular author in your genre can be an effective strategy.

If shoppers are already searching for the author, and your books have some similarities, you can use ads as a chance to get in front of your ideal readers.

Selling books through these keywords can also be a way to get yourself on the ‘also-bought’ section for that author. Though, that’s entirely dependent on whether the person who’s on another author’s page buys their book and then clicks on your ad and buys your book too.

If you’re targeting authors who write books like yours, and you understand your target market and have books that fit it, this could work out for you. Especially in markets with voracious readers.

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You may be wondering why “also-boughts” are important. Well the “also-boughts” are one of the main ways Amazon suggests new books to their readers. So, if your book makes the “also-bought” section for a well-known independent author in your genre, there’s a fair chance that you’ll get sales. I wouldn’t suggest you go for traditionally published authors like J.K. Rowling, though, as those types of keywords will be highly competitive and cost you too much for little return.

3. Target Books on the BookBub List

In a similar way to the previous tip, you can target books that have been recently featured on the BookBub daily email — these books get thousands of downloads, and you can take advantage of that.

Also, books that appear on BookBub will more than likely be less

competitive than the big-name authors in your genre. For example, it’s going to be cheaper to target an indie author who writes vampire fiction than it would be to target the Twilight series.

Thanks to BookBub promotions, there’s a good chance these keywords will lead to traffic.

Link to the rest at Indies Unlimited