Advertising-Promotion-Marketing

Should Authors Break Free from the Brand?

10 July 2019

From Writers in the Storm:

The standard advice given to writers is to brand yourself. Find a genre, and stick with it. This strategy has proven successful for many contemporary authors such as Danielle Steel and Mary Higgins Clark, but even Jane Austen had perfected the practice years earlier, and Agatha Christie used it to pen mysteries that ranked her in the sales zone with Shakespeare and the Bible!

So why have I chosen to go against the gold standard of good advice and cross genres? I admit, it’s probably because I have no business sense, but it’s also because I love to learn new things and to challenge myself creatively.

. . . .

When I sit down to write a story, I don’t think about sales numbers or marketing strategies. I don’t even think about publishing it. Instead, I open myself to the creative flow and let the words find their way through me to the page. It’s not as hokey pokey as it sounds, but it isa beautiful, powerful, and spiritual process that helps me tap into something bigger than myself.

My first book was written with my daughter in my lap. Together, we wrote a simple story, searching online for stock photos to attach to each page. We printed the “book,” and stapled it together. In time, that handmade picture book was shared with her friends and their mothers, until it found its way to an agent and then to a publisher. Zonderkidz produced a two-book series, God is with Me through the DayGod is with Me through the Night. And before I knew it, I’d become a children’s book author.

. . . .

Truth is, many of my readers have followed me from the start. Sure, some prefer one genre or the other. Some like the romance flair of When Mountains Move while others prefer the literary tone of Into the Free. Some dig the gritty edginess to The Feathered Bone while others enjoy the lighter themes in Perennials. Heck, my books even crossover from faith-based to secular audiences and from adult to YA. I just can’t find a box that fits me.

Link to the rest at Writers in the Storm

Social Media Could Make It Impossible to Grow Up

9 July 2019
Comments Off on Social Media Could Make It Impossible to Grow Up

The following is a longer post/excerpt than PG usually includes on TPV, but the topic fascinated him.

PG is happy that the foolish things he did in high school and college have disappeared into thickening mists of the fading memories scrabbling for survival within the minds of himself and fellow members of the Order of Lavishly Idiotic Youth.

From Wired:

Several decades into the age of digital media, the ability to leave one’s childhood and adolescent years behind is now imperiled. Although exact numbers are hard to come by, it is evident that a majority of young people with access to mobile phones take and circulate selfies on a daily basis. There is also growing evidence that selfies are not simply a tween and teen obses­sion. Toddlers enjoy taking selfies, too, and whether intentionally or unintentionally, have even managed to put their images into circula­tion. What is the cost of this excessive documentation? More spe­cifically, what does it mean to come of age in an era when images of childhood and adolescence, and even the social networks formed during this fleeting period of life, are so easily preserved and may stubbornly persist with or without one’s intention or desire? Can one ever transcend one’s youth if it remains perpetually present?

The crisis we face concerning the persistence of childhood images was the least of concerns when digital technologies began to restruc­ture our everyday lives in the early 1990s. Media scholars, sociolo­gists, educational researchers, and alarmists of all political stripes were more likely to bemoan the loss of childhood than to worry about the prospect of childhood’s perpetual presence. A few educa­tors and educational researchers were earnestly exploring the poten­tial benefits of the internet and other emerging digital technologies, but the period was marked by widespread moral panic about new media technologies. As a result, much of the earliest research on young people and the internet sought either to support or to refute fears about what was about to unfold online.

. . . .

Many adults feared that if left to surf the web alone, children would suffer a quick and irreparable loss of innocence. These concerns were fueled by reports about what allegedly lurked online. At a time when many adults were just beginning to venture online, the internet was still commonly depicted in the popular media as a place where anyone could easily wander into a sexually charged multiuser domain (MUD), hang out with computer hackers and learn the tricks of their criminal trade, or hone their skills as a terrorist or bomb builder. In fact, doing any of these things usually required more than a single foray onto the web. But that did little to curtail perceptions of the internet as a dark and dangerous place where threats of all kinds were waiting at the welcome gate.

. . . .

A common theme underpinning both popular and scholarly arti­cles about the internet in the 1990s was that this new technology had created a shift in power and access to knowledge. A widely reprinted 1993 article ominously titled “Caution: Children at Play on the Infor­mation Highway” warned, “Dropping children in front of the com­puter is a little like letting them cruise the mall for the afternoon. But when parents drop their sons or daughters off at a real mall, they gen­erally set ground rules: Don’t talk to strangers, don’t go into Victoria’s Secret, and here’s the amount of money you’ll be able to spend. At the electronic mall, few parents are setting the rules or even have a clue about how to set them.”

. . . .

In such a context, it is easy to understand why the imperiled innocence of children was invoked as a rationale for increased regulation and monitoring of the internet. In the United States, the Communications Decency Act, signed into law by President Clinton in 1996, gained considerable support due to widespread fears that without increased regulation of communications, the nation’s children were doomed to become perverts and digital vigi­lantes.

. . . .

Jenkins was not the only one to insist that the real challenge was to empower children and adolescents to use the internet in productive and innovative ways so as to build a new and vibrant public sphere. We now know that a critical mass of educators and parents did choose to allow children ample access to the internet in the 1990s and early 2000s. Those young people ended up building many of the social media and sharing economy platforms that would transform the lives of people of all ages by the end of the first decade of the new millen­nium.

. . . .

Among the more well­-known skeptics was another media theorist, Neil Postman. Postman argued in his 1982 book The Disappearance of Childhood that new media were eroding the distinction between childhood and adulthood. “With the electric media’s rapid and egalitarian dis­closure of the total content of the adult world, several profound consequences result,” he claimed. These consequences included a diminishment of the authority of adults and the curiosity of children. Although not necessarily invested in the idea of childhood innocence, Postman was invested in the idea and ideal of childhood, which he believed was already in decline. This, he contended, had much to do with the fact that childhood—a relatively recent historical invention—is a construct that has always been deeply entangled with the history of media technologies.

While there have, of course, always been young people, a number of scholars have posited that the concept of childhood is an early modern invention. Postman not only adopted this position but also argued that this concept was one of the far­-reaching consequences of movable type, which first appeared in Mainz, Germany, in the late 15th century. With the spread of print culture, orality was de­moted, creating a hierarchy between those who could read and those who could not. The very young were increasingly placed outside the adult world of literacy.

During this period, something else occurred: different types of printed works began to be produced for different types of readers. In the 16th century, there were no age­-based grades or corresponding books. New readers, whether they were 5 or 35, were expected to read the same basic books. By the late 18th century, however, the world had changed. Children had access to children’s books, and adults had access to adult books. Children were now regarded as a separate category that required protection from the evils of the adult world. But the reign of childhood (according to Postman, a period running roughly from the mid-19th to the mid-20th centuries) would prove short­-lived. Although earlier communications technologies and broadcasting mediums, from the telegraph to cinema, were already chipping away at childhood, the arrival of television in the mid­-20th century marked the beginning of the end. Postman con­cludes, “Television erodes the dividing line between childhood and adulthood in three ways, all having to do with its undifferentiated ac­cessibility: first, because it requires no instruction to grasp its form; second, because it does not make complex demands on either mind or behavior; and third, because it does not segregate its audience.”

. . . .

In the final chapter, Postman poses and responds to six questions, including the following: “Are there any communication technologies that have the potential to sustain the need for child­hood?” In response to his own question, he replies, “The only technology that has this capacity is the computer.” To program a computer, he explains, one must in essence learn a language, a skill that would have to be acquired in childhood: “Should it be deemed necessary that everyone must know how computers work, how they impose their special world­view, how they alter our definition of judgment—that is, should it be deemed necessary that there be uni­versal computer literacy—it is conceivable that the schooling of the young will increase in importance and a youth culture different from adult culture might be sustained.” But things could turn out dif­ferently. If economic and political interests decide that they would be better served by “allowing the bulk of a semiliterate population to entertain itself with the magic of visual computer games, to use and be used by computers without understanding … childhood could, without obstruction, continue on its journey to oblivion.”

. . . .

Thanks to Xerox’s graphical user interface, eventually popularized by Apple, by the 2000s one could do many things with computers without knowledge of or interest in their inner workings. The other thing that Postman did not anticipate is that young people would be more adept at building and programming computers than most older adults. Fluency in this new language, unlike most other languages, did not deepen or expand with age. By the late 1990s, there was little doubt that adults were not in control of the digital revolution. The most ubiquitous digital tools and platforms of our era, from Google to Facebook to Airbnb, would all be invented by people just out of their teens. What was the result? In the end, childhood as it once existed (i.e., in the pre-­television era) was not restored, but Postman’s fear that childhood would disappear also proved wrong. Instead, some­thing quite unexpected happened.

. . . .

Today, the distinction be­tween childhood and adulthood has reemerged, but not in the way that Postman imagined.

In our current digital age, child and adolescent culture is alive and well. Most young people spend hours online every day exploring worlds in which most adults take little interest and to which they have only limited access. But this is where the real difference lies. In the world of print, adults determined what children could and could not access—after all, adults operated the printing presses, purchased the books, and controlled the libraries. Now, children are free to build their own worlds and, more importantly, to populate these worlds with their own content. The content, perhaps not surprisingly, is pre­dominantly centered on the self (the selfie being emblematic of this tendency). So, in a sense, childhood has survived, but its nature—what it is and how it is experienced and represented—is increas­ingly in the hands of young people themselves. If childhood was once constructed and recorded by adults and mirrored back to children (e.g., in a carefully curated family photo album or a series of home video clips), this is no longer the case. Today, young people create im­ages and put them into circulation without the interference of adults.

In sharp contrast to Postman’s prediction, childhood never did disappear. Instead, it has become ubiquitous in a new and un­expected way. Today, childhood and adolescence are more visible and pervasive than ever before. For the first time in history, children and adolescents have widespread access to the technologies needed to represent their lives, circulate these representations, and forge networks with each other, often with little or no adult supervision. The potential danger is no longer childhood’s disappearance, but rather the possibility of a perpetual childhood.

Link to the rest at Wired

Here’s the blurb for The End of Forgetting:

Thanks to Facebook and Instagram, our younger selves have been captured and preserved online. But what happens, Kate Eichhorn asks, when we can’t leave our most embarrassing moments behind? Rather than a childhood cut short by a loss of innocence, the real crisis of the digital age may be the specter of a childhood that can never be forgotten.

And here’s a review from Inside Higher Ed:

Someone brought a video recorder to Thanksgiving 1980, during my final year of high school. Not a close relative, certainly. Back then, it was too insanely extravagant a piece of consumer electronics for any of us to imagine buying one. (Not for several years, anyway.)

The camera sat on a tripod and recorded the holiday goings-on, which were shown — continuously, as they were happening — on a nearby television set. It would have been able to record two to four hours, depending on the format and system. A blank video cassette cost the equivalent of $50 to $75 in today’s currency. There was much apprehension over very young family members getting too close and knocking something over.

The novelty of seeing one’s actions and expressions from the outside, in real time, was intriguing but unsettling. Nothing meaningful or interesting happened, and I cannot imagine anybody getting bored enough to watch the recording. But it means that my 17-year-old doppelgänger may be preserved on a tape in an attic someplace in Oklahoma, and that possibility, however slim, has kept the memory vivid. No adolescent photograph would ever be as awkward. The tape was probably Betamax: technological obsolescence can have its upside.

. . . .

Most 17-year-olds today probably do not remember a time when they had not yet seen themselves onscreen. Chances are that many of the videos will have been their own recordings. Creating them requires no technical skill, and duplicating or transporting them is equally effortless.

None of the technology is unwieldy or uncommon, or all that expensive. And while the storage capacity of a phone or laptop is not boundless, neither is it much of an obstacle. Everything ends up in the cloud eventually. (That may not be literally true, but all trends lead in that direction.) “With analogue media,” Eichhorn says, “there is invariably a time lag between the moment of production and the moment of broadcasting; in the case of digital media, production and broadcasting often happen simultaneously or near simultaneously. Adolescents are in effect … experiencing the social world via documentary platform.” And it is a kind of social death when they can’t.

In this cultural ecosystem, the normal excruciations of adolescent self-consciousness are ramped up and acted out — often before an audience of unlimited potential size — then preserved for posterity, in endlessly duplicable form.

. . . .

The potential for embarrassment increased by several orders of magnitude after America’s Funniest Home Videos debuted at the end of 1989, but even that looks minimal in the wake of YouTube. Two or three cases of extreme humiliation and bullying via digital video are now familiar to millions of people.

Eichhorn discusses them while acknowledging the ethical dilemma that doing so runs the risk of perpetuating mindless cruelty. But her point is that the famous examples represent the tip of the iceberg. Digital images are produced and circulated now in ways that encourage the self-expression and experimentation that Erikson regarded as one of the privileges of youth — while at the same time creating a permanent record that is potentially inescapable.

Inescapable, that is, because unforgettable.

Link to the rest at Inside Higher Ed

Over 400 years ago, William Shakespeare famously wrote, “The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.”

Perhaps the Bard peered into the future and somehow discerned Twitter and Facebook.

It occurs to PG that Twitter and Facebook would have made lovely names for a couple of the fools which populate some of his plays.

This is to make an ass of me, to fright me if they could.

– Bottom, Act 3, Scene 1, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

What You Get Back When You Reclaim Your Time from Social Media

8 July 2019

From Medium:

Last fall, in the midst of touring for my latest book, I stepped away from the public stage that arguably made my publishing career possible.

After investing six years into growing my following on Twitter from zero to over 42,000, with millions of monthly engagements, I left the platform, at least for now. This might not sound like such a momentous decision, but it was for me. My 127,000 tweets — an average of 57 tweets per day — had dramatically raised my profile as a writer, sociologist, and scholar on race. The platform prompted countless interactions and conversations, frequent media attention, and valuable professional opportunities — such as connecting me with my literary agent and helping secure a publishing deal for the book I’m still touring with, How to Be Less Stupid About Race.

Yet at the precise moment when most writers would have redoubled their efforts to promote their work, I felt compelled to step down from my bully pulpit and shutter my most successful social media account.

. . . .

Most disconcertingly, even when I wasn’t tweeting, I found myself thinking in tweets — crafting pithy, retweetable observations about my life, social dynamics, and world events to share with my followers as soon as I could get my hot hands on my phone or laptop.

And then I reached a critical breaking point. Crisscrossing the nation for the book tour and connecting with readers in real life was a new, thrilling experience for me, but it was also unspeakably exhausting.

. . . .

While the vast majority of my interactions with folks at book events were uplifting and supportive, I never quite knew what to expect from Q&As. I felt the constant need to mentally prepare for everything from microaggressions to outright hostility.

What I faced most often, however, were the racialized and gendered expectations that I provide on-the-spot emotional processing, counseling, and strategizing for a never-ending stream of racial dilemmas and existential trauma. “How do I deal with my racist cousin?” a white woman would ask, expecting a sensible answer in 60 seconds or less, while a dozen people waited in line behind her. “What should I do about racism on my job?” a man urgently inquired as I signed a copy of the book.

. . . .

But as I struggled to give the fullness of my attention and intention to each and every person who I met on the road, I began to realize that I had little energy left for myself, and no energy at all for Twitter.

I began experiencing debilitating insomnia for the first time in my life. Anxiety became a daily concern.

. . . .

Media technology companies such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are quite literally invested in making us internet addicts. They’re effectively manipulating social psychological responses to ensure that our clicks and engagements don’t fizzle — or else their bottom line will. Sean Parker, one of Facebook’s founders, described the platform’s “like” button as “a social validation feedback loop… exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.”

. . . .

If it feels difficult to quit social media, it’s because corporate strategists and programmers work very hard to embed their apps with digital carrots that ensure that scrolling through our feed feels deeply rewarding. Facebook “likes,” Twitter “hearts,” and Instagram notifications all drive addictive behavior by doling out intermittent and unpredictable rewards. These rewards, in turn, fuel the release of neurotransmitters, including dopamine, which are associated with the experience of pleasure in the brain.

. . . .

Of course, the sense of community created on social media has many potential benefits when used appropriately and in moderation. But these fleeting digital rewards come at a great price. Social media apps are able to stealthily manipulate our brains into believing that we are experiencing pleasure, despite the fact that heavy usage leads to increased depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, and reduced quality of life.

. . . .

“Computer internet businesses are about exploiting psychology… we want to psychologically figure out how to manipulate you as fast as possible and then give you back that dopamine hit. We did that brilliantly at Facebook.” And it’s not just the individual that this affects, he observed: “We have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works.”

. . . .

As Alex Hern has pointed out in the Guardian, many social media executives and developers have either stopped using their own products or never used them excessively in the first place. Facebook made Palihapitiya a billionaire, but he has said he doesn’t use Facebook himself, and his own children are not allowed to use social media. Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO, “rarely replies to strangers and avoids discussions or arguments on the site,” Hern wrote. “He doesn’t live-tweet TV shows or sporting fixtures. In fact, he doesn’t really ‘use’ Twitter; he just posts on it occasionally.” Mark Zuckerberg, meanwhile, has an entire team to manage and curate his social media account for him.

. . . .

Emotionally, my mood has greatly improved. I feel less glum, pessimistic, and angry with the world than when I was constantly “connected.” I keep a gratitude journal and count my blessings. While I sometimes miss the creative, intellectual, and political community of my tweethearts, I’m immensely relieved to no longer feel the mental pressure of organizing a social media press conference several times a day in response to trending hashtags, controversies, and tragedies.

Link to the rest at Medium

 

 

Top 10 FAQs About Book Publicity and Promotion

1 July 2019

From The Bookseller:

What’s the one question authors ask me most frequently?

“How long do I have to market my book?”

I never deviate from this answer: “Only for as long as you want to sell it.”

Every author hates hearing that. By the time most get around to asking it, usually a few weeks from their launch date, they’re exhausted and broke. By then, it’s much too late.

To save you time, trouble and disappointment, I’ve collected the most frequently asked questions I hear about book publicity. But first, let me explain why you have to market your book only for as long as you want to sell it.

Authors publish more than 600,000 books a year in the United States. That’s 50,000 books a month! As many as half, or even more, are published by indie authors.

If only a fraction of those authors promote their books with blog tours, articles, book reviews, YouTube videos, print and online publicity, and social media content—and you’re doing nothing—your book languishes. And then it dies.

. . . .

5. “What’s the difference between a press release for my book and a pitch?”

A press release is a digital file that explains the main information about your book such as the topic or storyline, the genre, price, ISBN, publishing company, why you wrote it and where people can buy it. Most authors only write one version of a press release. They link to it from a customized pitch to a specific media outlet or journalist.

Let’s say your book is a romance novel. You can send a short email pitch of three paragraphs to an editor of a woman’s magazine and pitch your quiz called “Are You Dating the Wrong Men?” Within the pitch, link to the press release at your website or elsewhere online.

If you’re pitching your local weekly newspaper because you’re doing a book signing in your town, you can send a different email pitch highlighting the fact that you’re a local author, mention the event, and link to the same press release. See my two articles The pros and cons of press releases vs. pitches and When to use a press release and when to deliver a pitch.

. . . .

6. “I can’t afford those big media databases of $1,000 or more. How can I get names and contact information for journalists?”

Those expenses databases are used mostly by PR firms and publicists. You don’t need them. Besides, I don’t recommend pitching dozens or hundreds of media outlets because you won’t have the time to send a customized pitch to each one.

USNPL.com is the best free resource for contact information for thousands of media outlets in the United States. It’s short for U.S. Newspaper List. Read more about it in my article The Best Free Media Contacts Tool You Probably Aren’t Using.

Another terrific free resource is the Society of Professional Journalists Freelance Directory which lets you search by topic.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

 

We’re All Bozos on This Bus: 10 Lessons from 10 Years of Blogging

30 June 2019

From Anne R. Allen’s Blog:

Ooops. I seem to have missed my 10-year blogiversary! I posted my first attempt at blogging on Friday, March 13, 2009.

Yes, Friday the 13th. Apparently I have a need to tempt fate.

But I immediately lost the blog for about three months, and didn’t write my second post until June 20, 2009. It was a post on Writers Conferences.

After that, I posted pretty regularly, so I figure today is my real 10-year blogiversary.

I knew pretty much nothing about blogging at that point. I simply wanted a place to put the unpublished columns I had written for Inkwell Newswatch, a Canadian writers’ zine that stopped publication in January 2009.

So after somehow finding the blog again, I fumbled around with Blogger and started posting my unpublished columns on my new blog.

It’s amazing what you can do when you don’t know how.

I settled on putting up weekly posts on Sunday at 10 AM. I can’t remember why. Maybe I pictured my fellow writers relaxing with a cup of coffee on Sunday mornings and surfing the writing blogs the way I did.

Later I read that “the rules” of blogging say that Sunday is the worst day to post to a blog.

But this blog has never followed the rules. And that’s probably the most important of the 10 things I’ve learned:

1) Question Authority

“The rules” will come and go. So will gimmicks and tricks for SEO, ROI, SERP, and LMNOP 🙂 . The only thing that stays the same is the value of good content.

When I started out, “the rules” said a blogpost should be 300 words long and you should blog at least twice a day. Yeah. How many successful authors do you know who do that?

We were also told that an author blog should follow the same rules as a blog about make-up tips for teens or how to make decorative pillows out of dryer lint.

And we were supposed to run advertising all over the site. I remember reading that the #1 failure of new bloggers was “failure to monetize.” (I had to look up the word “monetize.”)

How many successful author blogs are peppered with irrelevant advertising these days?

Also, you needed a niche. You could only blog about jelly doughnuts or training your cat to use the toilet. Otherwise, readers would get confused.

Rule-makers are always underestimating readers. I slowly found out an author can blog about anything. We’re blogging to attract readers who will like our books. So we can write about anything those people would like to read about.

We simply have to make sure that what we say is honest, well-written, and helpful.

. . . .

4) Your Commenters are Your Most Important Asset.

A blog is nothing without readers. And readers who comment are giving you a lovely gift. Even if they disagree with you.

Answering comments quickly and honestly is one of the best ways for a blogger to get commenters coming back. (Although I have to admit I’m going to be away from the computer for a while today. But I will answer all your comments by the end of the day. )

Responding to comments acknowledges your readers as your equals. You’re not supposed to be sitting on a blogthrone waiting to be adored. You’re exchanging ideas with your peers.

I met Ruth Harris as well as two of my publishers when they commented on this blog. Plus I get some of my best ideas for new blogpost topics from the comments here.

. . . .

7) An Author Blog is Not a Business Blog.

Business blogs are for selling stuff. Author blogs are for communication. They’re simply a place for you to get in touch with other writers, readers and potential readers and exchange ideas.

So the most important thing is to be real and entertaining, not hype-y. A blog is a place on the Web where people can come and hang out with you.

Pushy, “buy my book” posts don’t get traffic. And following all those complicated business blog rules will exhaust you and drive away readers. You don’t sell books like cat-carriers or Ginsu knives. Hammering readers by endlessly screaming your title at them does not make people want to relax and hang out with your work. It makes them want to block you.

I’ve watched a lot of author-bloggers give up because they tried to blog so often it became drudgery. An author doesn’t need to blog more than once a week. You want people to read your books, not daily reports of what you had for lunch. Besides, when you’re bored and miserable, your readers will be too.

Have fun with your blog. and when it isn’t fun anymore, take a break.

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

Launching a Book? Do It At a Bar.

28 June 2019

From Publishers Weekly:

I’ve thrown launch parties for all three of my books, and two of the most well-attended launches occurred at popular bars in Orlando—namely the Eden Bar and the Imperial. What makes this type of book party more successful than a traditional, on-site launch at your local indie bookseller? Think creative cross-promotion. Particularly for my most recent release, Perfect Conditions: Stories, I felt the uniqueness of the Imperial captured the book’s settings and themes. The bar is located within Washburn Imports, a purveyor of hand-carved furniture from Southeast Asia that, at night, the owner turns into the Imperial, a beer and wine bar. Its enchanting space uncannily evokes the themes of Perfect Conditions, whose characters often find themselves unmoored in far-flung locales.

To get things started, I approached some members of a jazz band I know well and admire, the Strange Angels, who regularly play at the Imperial. I asked if they’d be open to making one of their upcoming Thursday-night appearances a joint venture: their usual show plus my book launch. Once the members agreed, we contacted the owner, who was more than happy to schedule a doubleheader.

Here are some key advantages and strategies for authors looking to launch their book at local hot spots, with bands, if possible:

  • Remember that even trendy bars have slower times when they look to bring in more patrons. You might ask the owner or manager when the bar is seeking to boost sales. Daytime or nighttime can work equally well. For the launch of my debut story collection, Train Shots, I chose a Saturday at 2 p.m. event at the always-hip Eden Bar, which has a lovely outdoor patio under magical ancient oaks. If many in your circle have young kids, you might want to explore this type of venue and time slot for something more family friendly.
  • If you’ll be using your local indie bookstore to handle sales, coordinate with them early on about the venue and setup. Or, if you’ll be handling book sales on your own, be sure to have a friend or two agree to work the cash box while you meet people, chat, and sign.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

Introducing “Author Website in a Box” (beta)

26 June 2019

From The Digital Reader:

For the past couple weeks I have been working on a new project, and I think it’s gotten to the point where it’s ready for public testing and feedback.

The project has the working title of “Author Website in a Box”, and it is intended to provide a complete author website based on WordPress.

The site has everything from a home page to a contact page, about the author page, and even bookshelf pages. I even included dummy content that you can replace, and I installed SEO, security, backup, and other essential plugins.

  • Yoast (an SEO plugin – it helps readers find you in search engines)
  • Novelist (a bookshelf plugin that makes it easy to display your books)
  • All in One WP Security (a firewall plugin that keeps hackers out)
  • Contact Form 7 (the best free contact form plugin)
  • Mailmunch (a great plugin for integrating your mailing list into your site)

The site has a good general design which can be improved upon or customized with a little work. It is built using SiteOrigin’s pagebuilder, my preferred tool for building author websites. Almost everyone I know agrees that while it is not the best tool available, it is relatively easy to learn. It’s also free, which means I can include a copy for you to use with this site.

I have a version of the site myself (this is what I use to develop the site for you to download) which you can see here: dummy.authorwebsiteinabox.com.

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader

PG thought Nate’s dummy site looked promising.

If you’re going to play with it with your own content, read Nate’s Caveats carefully.

PG will second some of Nate’s warnings:

  1. Never play around with new plumbing/apps/etc. on your principal business website. You can buy a weird domain name for $5 bucks at some places online. Install WordPress there and put some dummy data in to get an idea of how it looks.
  2. If the dummy site looks good, make a copy of your main website and move it over to your dummy domain. If you Google “moving a website to a new domain“, you’ll find techniques, tools and a WordPress video that talks about it.
  3. PG has moved some sites to new domains in the distant past, but can’t remember exactly which tool(s) he used, but it wasn’t terribly difficult or time-consuming. If you move your entire site, including your current theme, that might make it easier for you to compare the usability of your potential new theme with your current theme pretty easily.
  4. If this sounds daunting for you, contact Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader or somebody else who really knows what he/she is doing. (PG knows your unemployed brother-in-law will work on your site at no charge just for the experience, but if you’re in the business of writing instead of the business of fixing website glitches that appear and disappear at random and trying to live with a site that never looks quite right even without glitches, spending a little money for qualified assistance will save you lots of time and serious heartburn. A semi-functioning website doesn’t do a very good job of attracting new readers.)

 

45+ Author Websites with Stellar Designs

26 June 2019

From BookBub:

Many successful authors have websites that are the hub of their online marketing activity — they provide a central platform for everything from blogging to book sales and email newsletters. But what should you include in an author website?

We’ve compiled 45 stellar examples to give you some ideas. These sites can provide inspiration for any authors or publishers looking to launch or redesign an author website.

. . . .

To appear on this list of examples, sites had to meet most, if not all, of the following criteria:

  • Include a list of published books
  • Prominently display new or impending releases
  • Provide an obvious way to subscribe for updates
  • Provide a way to contact the author
  • Include links to the author’s social media profiles
  • Display a list of upcoming events
  • Include a blog to showcase the author’s personality and/or writing process
  • Be easy to navigate
  • Have a clean, unique design
  • Be mobile friendly

We’ve made sure to include both traditional and self-published authors, along with a variety of styles and genres, so everyone can find some inspiration.

1. Bella Andre

2. Brett Battles

. . . .

18. Kevin Hearne

. . . .

22. Rachel Howzell Hall

Link to the rest at BookBub

PG has to admit that he liked some of the designs, but others looked pretty generic and home-made (by people who do not have a design-centric person in their home).

Clean design is great, but (in PG’s immanently humble opinion), it’s easy to slip over the line from clean-cool to clean-generic.

Rectangular blocks of text against a contrasting plain background have been done before.

Arial, Helvetica and Times Roman (New, Old or in-between) have been done, done, done, done, before, before, before, before.

The combination of rectangular blocks of text and Arial/Helvetica/Times Roman can be used in original and impactful ways, but (in PG’s gracefully cultivated opinion) doing that is hard and rare and most people don’t succeed.

That said, PG thought Bookbub’s minimum standards bullet point list of criteria provided a good checklist against which an author might wish to compare her/his/zir/hir/eir/vis/tem/eir website to make certain the fundamentals are sound and complete.

For ideas on fonts, see Stop Using Arial & Helvetica in which Arial is described as “Microsoft’s bastard son (rip-off) of Helvetica. It’s just a bad copy of Helvetica – a really bad one. It’s just ugly.”

For more ideas on fonts, see Best Times New Roman Alternatives: Fonts to Avoid Default Fonts – “I had to believe there were other ways of presenting information that didn’t involve Times New Roman words endlessly written on a white freaking document.”

(Yes PG is aware that TPV could improve in the fonts department, but he likes the color, textures and mood of his current WordPress theme and whenever he looks for a good alternative that isn’t ten years behind the times, he can’t find one he likes as well or that he can make look like Ancient Faithful, the theme that (like this sentence) just won’t die. He’ll try out more alternative themes on TPV to gather comments at some time in the future.)

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