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Today I want to chat about self-published and Indie author’s web presence, media kit, and author Bio. I like to participate in blog book tours and love supporting self-pub and Indie authors; however, I am constantly astounded by the lack of professional looking websites, blogs, and poorly written author Bios that I come across.
As an author, you are a brand. I will repeat that—you and your name are a BRAND.
If you’re out promoting your work, it's critical that you give the impression of being a professional. Everything you put on your website or blog or any other media outlet about yourself and your books should strive to look professional. Like with any first impression, you need to appear as though you’re a seasoned pro!
Let’s start with the author Bio. Now, you can have both a professional/media Bio and a more casual one. I think it’s always better to have a more simplified, brief Bio, which includes your personal background along with your writing credentials. It should ALWAYS be written in third-person.
Here’s an example below:
Sherry Soule lives with her family and one very spoiled black cat in the San Francisco Bay Area. She's always wanted to live in a world where sweatpants are sexy, cupcakes don't make you fat, and she could adopt every homeless animal.
As an author, her books have been nominated as *Top Picks* in the "Best Paranormal Romance" categories by sites such as The Romance Reviews, Night Owl Reviews, and the Paranormal Romance Guild. Her YA novel, "Lost In Starlight" has been quoted as an unforgettable love story for teens.
When she's not writing thrilling tales of romance and suspense, often mingled with a dash of the mystical and a splash of trendy fashion, you can find her watching Netflix with her cat, reading on her Kindle (often crushing on fictional characters), or hanging with her zany family.
Another example from one of my favorite authors:
Kresley Cole is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the electrifying Immortals After Dark paranormal series, the young adult Arcana Chronicles series, the erotic Gamemakers Series, and five award-winning historical romances.
A master's grad and former athlete, she has traveled over much of the world and draws from those experiences to create her memorable characters and settings.
Her books have been translated into twenty foreign languages, garnered three RITA awards, and consistently appear on the bestseller lists, in the U.S. and abroad.
Last example from one of my favorite authors of the New Adult genre:
Jamie McGuire was born in Tulsa, OK. She attended the Northern Oklahoma College, the University of Central Oklahoma, and Autry Technology Center where she graduated with a degree in Radiography.
Her most recent novel, Walking Disaster debuted at #1 on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists. She has also written bestselling contemporary romance Beautiful Disaster, and the Providence series.Jamie now lives in Enid, OK with her three children and husband Jeff, who is a real, live cowboy. They share their 30 acres with five horses, three dogs, and Rooster the cat.
So from these examples, you can see how to format your own Bio (all written in third-person POV) and therefore have a more professional online appearance. Check the last page of any book and you’ll usually find the author’s Bio, which will give you some ideas on how to write your own. Now get to work revising yours.
Next onto media/press kits, (it could be considered as your resume) which are great promotional tools. When it comes to impressing book reviewers, interviewers, bookstores, and bloggers the way to do it is through a media kit. Every author should have one to offer book reviewers or any media out concerning your work. These are great to use for local newspapers, writer conferences, magazines, book reviewers, or other social networks. They should be a one-page PDF that includes information about yourself and your books, publication links, as well as all contact information.
Below are two examples, and who wouldn't want to review these books after reading this awesome media kits?
Here are a few great examples of media kits and author Bios:
I might’ve nagged you guys about this before, but I strongly believe its needs to be reinstated. Most self-published and Indie authors are basically online promoters that do the majority of their marketing on the Internet through social networking. This means that you need a professional web presence. Think of your blog or website as your business card. If potential readers come across your site, it should reflect your writing style and appear professional.
Worried that you can’t afford a blog or website design? I know a few wonderfully talented designers that are pretty affordable.
And in closing, I have decided to offer my own low-priced services to my fellow writers. Let me help you to standout in the tough, competitive world of publishing and get you and your books noticed! I can help you create a media/press kit, book review request PDF, and professional Bio. I can also help you write a killer book blurb (backjacket copy) for your novels that will hook readers into buying your book. If you’re interested in my marketing services, you can contact me HERE
I’ve just returned from Edinburgh on a train packed to the gills with rucksacks, sleeping bags, and the odd piece of bin-bag wrapped set. Yes, it’s festival time and the returning festival-goers include, as they have for the last twenty-two years, me.
I’ve also been a participant this year – talking at the Edinburgh Book Festival, just one of seven festivals that completely take over the Scottish capital every August. At the same time as I was talking to 80 children about The Dark Wild yesterday, Alex Salmond was discussing the referendum next door, and had you struck out in almost any direction from Charlotte Square in search of alternative fare, I guarantee you could have found some event to suit your palate.
My audience at the Edinburgh Book Festival 2014
I wasn’t with my partner on this occasion, who was giving a talk on a forgotten Elizabethan play…at another festival, Wilderness, in Oxfordshire. Wilderness is part of a new crop of ‘boutique’ festivals offeringa midsummer’s assortment of revels from hip bands to literary events to Madhatter’s Teaparties. The lakes and Arcadian lawns of Wilderness are a far cry from the cobbles and closes of Edinburgh, although this weekend they shared the same weather.
Earlier this summer we didgo to the same festival, to the brand new Curious Arts – a kind of Voewood-on-Sea, in the charming grounds of Pylewell Park, a Regency mansion with a view from the terrace straight down to the Isle of Wight. You could dance to Ed Harcourt in the evening, listen to Lady Antonia Fraser on the Great Reform Act after breakfast, hunt a Jabberwocky in the Aboretum all afternoon, and finish the day with a gin cocktail leaning over a crumbling balustrade watching ships pass on the Solent.
Pylewell Park, the setting for the Curious Arts Festival
All very charming and civilised. But as I returned for the umpteenth time from the granddaddy of all festivals last night – I found myself meditating on the true attraction of such gatherings. What’s the point of a festival?
Let me first declare an interest in this British summer sport. I began my career programming a large theatre on the Edinburgh Fringe,the Pleasance (of which I am now a Trustee). Each year we have enough shows in enough different rooms to momentarily make us one of the largest arts venues in Europe.
I’ve sat in the sun at Hay and waded through the mud at Latitude. I’ve spoken at a tiny theatre festival that just takes over three floors of one building in Suffolk and a new book festival in Devon which was just a room in a library. Later this year I’ll be leading a wildlife walk at Bath Festival and then dashing off to sit on a panel at Cheltenham. You can festival it up from Port Elliot to Adelaide to Dubai, if you want to.
It would seem that we are at peak Festival, with over 700 events taking place this year classified as one,about 300 of them literary.
As a writer, you will be told many things about festivals, as I know theatre companies, musicians and comedians are told about theirs. You will be told they are essential for profile, that ‘festivals are the new bookshops’ and a great way for connecting with readers.
I don’t wholly dispute those things. Being in a Festival programme, especially an established one, does lift perception of you and your titles. Sales wise I’m less sure – I had a sold out talk at Edinburgh yesterday, in a 75 seat room, and probably sold 20 odd books, which is great - but it’s not the sole reason I went.
You certainly don’t go for the money. Some Festivals, like Bath and Edinburgh offer a token fee, and some like Hay, offer a case of wine and a flower. And as someone involved with the running of a festival venue, I can report that the ever increasing rental, accommodation, promotional, regulatory and staff costs associated with mounting one of these temporary gatherings mean profits are only ever normally found behind the bar rather than the box office.
It’s not cheap for audience members either.Individual events may carry an average ticket price of £8-10 but the travel, accommodation, taxi and food/drink bill means the minimum festival tab comes close to the £100 prices offered by the all inclusive weekend events like Curious Arts, and can be often more - if you visited Edinburgh all week, for example.
Why do we all go and what do we take away?
A dull critic of this pastime might argue that at best audience members take away an empty wallet and often a hangover, and we take away some book sales and inclusion in a programme mailing list.
Of course, all of us are in search of something much more profound.
Festivals may be promoted effectively but I would not place them under the heading of ‘Effective Promotion’ for any artist. There are numerous more sober and less fun ways to do that – just speak to your publisher’s sales and marketing department. But festivals are also fun for them to attend too.
Festivals, especially the summer ones, satisfy a much deeper urge in us to ‘gather.’ Writing, as we all know, can be a damnably lonely business, just you, your ideas and a cold screen all day long. School visits are often hectic and at best your longest conversation with an adult might be five minutes on logistics over a coffee in the staff room.
I think all of us, from writers to actors to comedians to singers to audience members, go to festivals primarily to talk, and to connect. We need our events, sure, we need a reason to gather, our cover story; but the real business of a Festival takes place in the green room, the author’s yurt, the performer’s bar and the pop-up café franchise.
The classic image of a festival is a big tent, and that is the heart of their appeal. Where else can one talk to Archbishop Emeritus Rowan Williams, the Gruffalo and First Minister Salmond all in one room? Even if I chose not to. They are harvest festivals without the back breaking labour (unless perhaps you’re in an acrobatic troupe), weddings for all, and the very best are always tinged with midsummer madness.
The Gruffalo loses his head at all the excitement in the Edinburgh Author's Yurt
We gather, we discover, share ideas, news, worries and gossip like crazy.Twitter handles become three dimensional, books expand to reveal the lives behind them, and readers are no longer scary anonymous Amazon commenters.
We might sell the odd book or register with a bookseller who didn’t know us before. All of which is great and worthwhile. But next time your publisher invites you to a festival, don’t worry too much about the fee or whether the sales will be worth it, just gather in the tent (ideally under a super moon) and enjoy the craic.
If anyone has any memorable Festival experiences, good or bad, do share them below!
Today we’re pleased to present an interview with best-selling author Judy Powell. Judy came on to our radar when she recently subscribed for a BookBuzzr Author Pro Plus account. We were able to connect with her and request her to do this interview.
Judy Powell is a writer and marketing consultant who lives in Ontario, Canada. Her works are diverse, featuring romance novels set in Jamaica, Chicago and New York, a historical novel focusing on Jamaican culture and history, and non-fiction essays which have appeared in anthologies.
Judy’s Caribbean romance, Hot Summer, placed second in the Toronto Romance Writers Contemporary Romance Competition which had entries from countries around the world. Her literary novel, Coffee, Cream and Curry, was awarded the silver medal in the Jamaica Creative Writing Competition.
But before we go on we want you to take a good look at the screenshot below. Notice that Judy’s book Hot Summer is ranked #7 and #9 (as on April 24, 2012) in two different categories. Now visualize your book breaking in to the top 10 on an Amazon list. Enjoy that feeling for a few moments.
Done? Now let’s move on to the interview and get Judy to spill her secrets
Thank you Judy. We’re delighted to have you on the BookBuzzr blog.
Thank you so much for having me. I’m very happy to be here.
Tell us a little about your background that is not covered in the introductory bio above.
One of the things that people find strange about me (at least my brothers do) is that I love to study. I have a BA in International Business/ Foreign Languages and 4 Master’s degrees – in Spanish, Marketing, Literature and Creative Writing. I’m c
I’ve seen a flurry of comments lately, asking me to “Like” my writer friends’ Amazon Author pages.
Now, I am always happy to support my writer friends. I’ll attend book signings, hop around on blog tours, write book reviews and click on stars. I understand that marketing goes hand-in-hand with writing, and I’ll do whatever I can manage to help an author achieve success with his or her book.
So I clicked all my friends’ “Like” buttons on the Amazon Author pages. But then I began to wonder what clicking that button would accomplish.
I mean, I totally get that clicking a “Like” button on a book is helpful. Reviews drive sales, and that pushes Amazon rankings, right? But will “liking” an author work the same way? I’m not so sure.
I spent a morning reading everything I could about the Amazon Author pages and how they work. I know where to sign up, what information to provide for it, how crucial a pretty picture is. But I have no idea how that “Like” button affects an author.
Next, I zipped around a couple marketing websites and blogs, checking for information. And here’s what I found: Click on “like” buttons. Any “Like” buttons.
The marketing gurus think it’s a good idea, even if the few I came across didn’t mention the Amazon Author page specifically. And the authors feel like it’s important, even if they’re not sure why.
I read something about algorithms that Amazon uses to increase visibility of an author and the author’s books. Honestly, I try not to get too involved with algorithms. That has a definite math sound to it and if I wanted to crunch numbers, I’d be an accountant instead of a writer.
But I know that writers can’t ignore numbers, especially when those numbers are attached to dollar signs and contracts and book sales numbers. Maybe clicking on that “Like” button on the Amazon Author’s page will ultimately push numbers in a positive way.
Maybe it won’t. Do it, anyway. Everyone, including your favorite author, appreciates a “Like” now and then.
Our in-house team evaluated a number of Facebook fan pages created using the BookBuzzr Facebook AuthorPage Widget technology. This list of fan pages are available in the presentation below. Clicking on the links will take you to the author’s Facebook fan page.
We confess that it was really hard in choosing a winner. Our in-house team of 3 judges made evaluations based on use of the various features in the widget, design and of course the “X-Factor”. We also excluded a few of the authors who had participated in the BookBuzzr beta program since they had received professional help from the in-house BookBuzzr team.
Vikram Narayan is the founder of BookBuzzr Book Marketing Technologies. (Twitter – @bookbuzzrCEO ) Vikram is a graduate from Carnegie Mellon University. Prior to starting BookBuzzr, Vikram founded another software company that has been successfully serving clients from all over the world since 2001. When he is not dreaming up ways to help authors accelerate their earnings and book sales, Vikram spends his time playing the guitar, practicing Aikido and spending time with his family.
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Buried Treasure: The Adventures of Max and Maddie, was recently showcased on Reading Recommendations Blog, created by Susan M. Toy, author, publisher, and overall champion to writers of all genres. So, I decided to do a little promoting for Susan! Here's a little about Susan and her "many hats." About Susan Toy: I have been a bookseller, an award-winning publishing sales representative, a literacy teacher, and a promoter of fellow authors and their books through my company, Alberta Books Canada. I am also an author and publisher, under my imprint, IslandCatEditions. Through Alberta Books Canada, I have represented authors directly, helping them find promotion for themselves and their books, seeking out new readers, and assisting them in making wise career decisions. I champion Alberta authors in particular, singing their praises throughout the province and online to the rest of the world, and I have displayed books for authors and publishers at Alberta library conferences. I created the writing contest, Coffee Shop Author, have sat on the Board of Directors of the Fernie Writers' Conference, served as a member of the Calgary Distinguished Writers Program steering committee, and was a member of the board of directors for the Writers' Guild of Alberta. I have made the decision to temporarily suspend operations of Alberta Books Canada in order to concentrate on my own writing and publishing, but my friends know this is just a cunning plan to spend several months at my home in the Caribbean, avoiding yet another Calgary winter ... I promise to return to Calgary in the spring with even more ideas on how to promote and market Albertabooks. Susan M. Toy
Also visit Susan'sBlog, Books, Publishing, Reading, Writing.
One question we get a lot is: how do I choose a winning book title? Another is: how do I write my back-cover copy/synopsis? And what are the most effective ways to market my book?
To help you answer these questions, we've invited Susan Kendrick to share her expert advice. There are some wonderful tips and how-tos in this interview that you can apply right away!
Susan Kendrick and Graham Van Dixhorn are partners at Write To Your Market, Inc. They specialize in creating bestselling book covers and business brands--book titles and subtitles, back-cover sales copy, testimonials, business names and taglines, and other pivotal branding and marketing tools. Their clients win major book awards and are featured in The New York Times, L.A. Times, and U.S.A. Today, and appear on national TV talk shows, including The Today Show. But maybe more importantly, Susan and Graham help these authors and experts package their message so that it makes a difference in the world. To learn more, visit www.WriteToYourMarket.com or www.BookCoverCoaching.com.
WOW: Welcome to The Muffin, Susan! Thank you for taking time to share your tips with our readers today. Let's start off by finding out what you do. What services do you provide for authors?
Susan: Thanks for having us! Graham and I create bestselling book titles and subtitles, back cover positioning and sales copy, business names and taglines, media kits, and speaker materials--the tools you need to create and grow a powerful brand for you, your message, and your business.
By doing this, we provide welcome relief for authors whose job it is to be expansive on their topic. Whether you are in the idea, planning, writing, or editing stage of your book, all your focus is on creating a story or message that will speak to people. The job of your book cover, on the other hand, is to take all that you are creating and condense it to the few words that will sell your book. It's writing, but a different kind.
What Graham and I do is interview you, listen to your ideas, and explore your manuscript to capture the highlights that will make you stand out from the crowd and appeal to the people you want to influence most--your readers. You're creating this book for them; you want to make sure they "get" what's in it for them. We also help you position your book to take the lead in your market, so that you are perceived as the expert not only to your readers, but to book reviewers, the media, joint venture partners, and other decision-makers.
WOW: That's a good point and one we often forget while we're writing. We need to think about positioning our book not only for our readers but for the media as well. Another super important issue that authors often ask about is how to choose a book title. What are some things authors should consider when deciding on a working title? And what makes for a winning title?
Susan: First, understand the purpose of a good working book title.
Just as there is expert status associated with being the author of a published book, there is similar status involved in getting out there wi
The Muffin readers, you're in for a treat today. We have an interview with Sarah McGinnis, who is vice president of creative services at Frenzy Marketing. So, what is Frenzy Marketing, and what can they do to help you with your writing career? Read on to find out!
WOW: Welcome, Sarah, thanks for stopping by today. So, what is Frenzy Marketing? Tell us about your position there.
Sarah: Frenzy Marketing is a newly re-launched, full-service marketing company specializing in work for authors, artists, and other creative professionals. We are all working artists ourselves, so we know how difficult it is to navigate the world of promotion and how awkward it can be to market yourself to others — we've been there. But we've also worked on the other side of the business--at publishers, art galleries, and even in the film business. So we know what "they" are looking for and where they're looking and how crucial it is for writers and artists to carve out a presence for themselves in the world and on the web.
I'm the vice president of creative services, so I get all the fun of overseeing our design projects, event planning, and other creative work, while the other partners in the company, Anthony Pizzuto and Anthony Cox, handle the numbers and all the really geeky behind-the-scenes stuff. We also have a fantastically talented group of freelancers in NY and beyond that we will be working with as well.
WOW: I love how the three of you understand the marketing aspect from both sides of the issue. So many authors struggle with marketing! So, how can Frenzy Marketing help an author promote her book?
Sarah: When we say full-service, we mean it! We offer everything from print and web design to event planning, web promotions, and ongoing representation. So, we can create an entire website; design bookmarks, postcards, or other promotional materials; plan author signings—the sky's the limit! Our goal is to offer plans of work that are completely flexible and customized for each individual author—plans that make use of the skills and resources an author already has, and that are totally in sync with her goals and priorities. So for example, very tech-savvy authors might just want help with the event planning side or pitching the media, or they might come to us for web hosting. Another author might be a pro at print design, but need our help making her creative vision work on the web. And others may be starting from the very beginning with their first book or even before they're published, and not quite know where to start—we can jump in and be of help at absolutely any stage.
WOW: Sounds great. I love the idea of customized services. What if an author has a low-budget? Do you have any packages for authors starting out that don't have much money? Can you give us a rough estimate of what you charge per hour or per service?
Sarah: Yes, absolutely--we can work with just about any budget. To start, we're offering three introductory packages at a great value:
Web Package $450 Website Design 1 Year of Free Hosting & Domain Registration Service ($129.00 Value) Twitter Account Se
You may have just written the next greatest novel in the world, but if no one has ever heard about it, no one will ever read it.
It is a common misconception that once your book is written and published it’s all downhill from there. This is hardly ever true. In fact, for most writers, this is where the hardest work begins. You, as a writer, love to write, feel comfortable spending many hours alone behind your computer. But after completing that novel, it’s time to take a step away from your desk and show your smiling face to the public.
Book signings are a great way to get your name and your book out into the public. Unless you are already well-known and have customers and fans lining up to buy your book, it’s unlikely that a book signing will generate a lot of money. Money, however, is not the sole purpose of a book signing. Signings are a cheap and easy way to promote yourself and your book. They most often happen at bookstores, but could be hosted by many other venues.
If your books are appropriate for school age children, consider speaking in schools, running workshops for students, or just asking a school to host a book signing. This is another great way to promote yourself and your book. You can begin by volunteering to speak to students at your alma mater. If this visit is successful, your name will travel by word-of-mouth to other educators and school districts and you will soon have several visits under your belt.
Library visits, for schools or public libraries, are another useful option.
If your book is not appropriate for school-age children, you could contact your college or local colleges about setting up an event or book signing.
Other places to consider speaking are local community groups such as Rotary. Also consider audiences specific to your book. For example, did you write about book about giraffes? Perhaps you could speak or sign at a local zoo. Write a book about a boy who loves baseball? You could contact the president of your local little league association about hosting an event for the little leaguers.
Highlights Foundation hosts a workshop entitled Life in the Spotlight: Author Opportunities after Publication, which “introduces the participants to publicity techniques and the fine points needed to create fruitful relationships with the media, but it offers instruction, practice, and a real-life school experience for each enrollee in the development of public speaking and presentation skills.” Having extra guidance in a workshop like this one as well as the support of other published writers goes a long way.
You are a writer, you are creative. Put some of your creative energy into motion by setting up events to promote yourself and your book.
After you start publishing work, after you begin building a following of readers, you realize you need to stay connected so you can inform readers of what you're working on or offer writing advice or promote your latest book.
Now, you may be wondering what the best method of communication may be. You've got a website, you promote your work on Twitter and Facebook. Maybe your blog allows for an RSS feed. Do you also need a newsletter?
Before you starting penning a periodical, several questions need to be addressed. What reasons drive your desire to begin a newsletter? Who will read your newsletter? And perhaps the most important question of all: Why should readers peruse your publication?
Why Start a Newsletter? Obviously, an e-mail newsletter can help you stay in touch with readers and grow a larger circulation base. Do newsletters give all writers and genres a boost?
Non-Fiction writers - experts on the topic they write about - benefit from this type of promotion. By offering articles, breaking news, and links to other information regarding your area of expertise, readership will increase. In many cases, cross-links with other websites draw additional readers.
Fiction writers use a newsletter to update fans about the latest news: book or article updates, blog posts, book tours, speaking engagements. Some authors offer book excerpts or links to video or podcasts.
Who Will Read Your Work?
Determining your intended audience will help you decide what type of content to include in the newsletter. Plus, defining your readership helps you focus on places to find potential readers.
Once you've defined who your audience will be, you need to ask why this audience will want to read your updates. Are they looking for specific advice on the topic? Do they want general information about books, articles, blog posts? Are they interested in personal information?
Sometimes, a writer may try to cover all bases. Trust me, as an avid reader of newsletters from several of my favorite writers, their publications don't always contain the information I'm most interested in. But that may be okay, too, since it forces me to check out their websites.
Formulate a strong mental picture about the type of newsletter you want. Play with several different design ideas. Make a list of potential articles. These strategies provide focus for you and the kind of information you plan to impart to readers. I scoured my favorite writer newsletters and found the following items:
Q & A
What Elements Haven't I Considered?
Think you've thought of everything? Think again. Here are a few other considerations:
How often will I publish a newsletter? Weekly? Monthly? Only you know for sure how much information you'll have to make a newsletter a worthwhile reading experience.
Will I write every article? Depending on the scope of your publication, a newsletter can be a time-consuming project. Can you afford to pay others to write for the newsletter?
Should I offer a premium subscription or should my newsletter be free of fees? Once again, the size of the project may point you toward the best answer for you situation.
We recently discovered that one of our BookBuzzr Pro author had broken into the top 5 on the Kindle store. While these lists change constantly, it is still a moment to savor if you are an indie author. Especially when you notice that your book is ranked ahead of a mega author such as Stephen King (in the picture it is the book ranked #4 and titled “Survivors.”)
Editor’s Note: You can win a free copy of Angela’s book on Freado.
We requested her for an interview to share her learnings on book promotion and indie publishing with us. She graciously agreed.
Ladies and gentlemen …without further ado … we present to you, an interview with Angela White, city taxi-cab dispatcher turned charbusting author!
BB – Angela, tell us a bit about yourself and your books. You are fairly enigmatic on your Amazon bio. All we know is that you’re from Cincinnati and are a city taxi cab dispatcher.
Wow. That was a great introduction. I’m blushing. And very honored to even be mentioned in the same sentence as Stephen King. He’s a mad genius, my favorite author, and unknowing mentor. I’ve spent more a.m. hours in his universes, twitching at every little sound, than I can count. I was a third shift waitress back then and I’d pick up one of his newest paperbacks and sometimes read until noon. That’s one of those things about writers; we love to flip pages, ours or someone else’s.
Something about me that no one knows… I’m not a taxicab dispatcher anymore. Thanks to the readers, I’ve recently been able to leave my offline job. I now put in full time hours (60+) on my own material and only I, tell me what to do. It hasn’t gotten old yet. Lol (in a grateful, humble manor and wishing it on others.)
My Books. Nearly everything that comes out of my pen is about the end of the world. You’ll find a bit of romance and drama, surrounded by horror and fantasy. Perfect for a chilly evening’s pleasure. For a little while, the “Real world” won’t exist. My word on that. I’ll give you what you came for.
Regardless of whether you are ‘only’ a reader, a budding author ‘wantabee’ or a published author, you should consider owning a website and posting blogs.
As a reader, you can challenge yourself personally as to how much you read and document what you read while making new friends along the way.
In sharing what you read, you help other readers to find interesting and informative reading material. If you find a new author that you enjoy, become a benefactor by encouraging and assisting the author — be a cheerleader to bolster flagging spirits of a discouraged author. Being an author can be a lonely, isolated occupation. Many beginning authors give up in frustration, not being able to continue for lack of an audience. Your blog with friends and followers could feature budding authors that you have found. The author would have a refreshing moment in your spotlight. You could be the catalyst or helping hand for that author to find a road to success.
As an author, you can use a blog to fill in details about a location, occupation or a character’s history (back story) to enhance the reading experience of your books. Once you have a following, you can engage them as partners with brainstorming for endings or new story ideas. Engaging in the creative process gives a sense of ownership, creates a vested interest in the outcome. Your finished novel, the outcome, will have a waiting audience eager to read what you did with their suggestions.
Your blog can be shared on your platform and re-shared by followers, fans, friends and those who stumble across you post. Think of your blog as the starting place of your streaming link to the world. It can be a platform or foundation where you can share yourself and your creations to build a fan base. Your blog can be the vehicle enabling you to reach out and touch the world.
So what do you blog about? Not what you had for breakfast, unless you are a gourmet cook giving instructions, a diet consultant or a “biggest loser” offering ideas on becoming healthy and slimmer.
If you are a non-fiction author, posted articles with hints that didn’t make your book, or small portions of your book working as teasers would be good. Posting success stories of how your book information was implemented could be interesting and very strong selling points for your book.
If you are a memoir author you can post more detailed information about places, people or experiences featured or mentioned briefly in your book.
A fiction author is often more challenged but should look for a non-fiction hook that people might be interested in and be searching for. You can use your story research, gathered before or during the actual writing of your novel. It might be history of vampires, theories, myths and famous vampire characters that refuse to die throughout years of literature. What about a review of vampires portrayed in the movies?
My dream was always to write a book and have it accepted by a publisher. After many years of rejections and the constant learning curve that just didn’t seem to end! my dream finally came true, eleven years after completing my first book.
I’m not sure if I’m on my own here or not, but after years of fighting just to get my manuscript passed by an editor—I never even thought about what happened next! It came as a huge shock to me that I would be largely responsible for promoting and selling my own book…this is not what you see in the movies or think about when you see your favourite bestselling author…hello! But, unfortunately the reality is, just because you get your book published does not mean you can just hand it over and merrily go about writing your next book! It was another steep learning curve—one that I’m still trying to figure out.
I started publishing my romantic suspense line of books with a small American publisher and this was where I had to learn—sink or swim style. I needed a blog—Google ‘how to’ pages became my new best friend! I needed to make social media contacts, a web page, do interviews, write guest blogs and generally take on a whole new career!
I’ve found social media like Facebook and Twitter invaluable for getting my name and books out into the big wide world. I would have always wondered about the power of social media until I received feedback from numerous people contacting me through twitter when they’ve noticed my book in a shopping centre or in a newspaper review and recognised it only because of the cover I use as my profile picture. To me, this is the only proof I need to see that social media is vital in promoting both you and your book. Those people may never have noticed my book had they not seen my presence on twitter and Facebook.
My other piece of Holy Grail for promotion is a book I stumbled upon called, ‘Wannabe a writer we’ve heard of?’ This is written by Jane Wenham-Jones and has been an invaluable tool for me. Seriously—you need to go out and get this book, it covers everything a wannabe like me ever needed!
I’ve also had to undertake a lot of other ‘out of my comfort zone’ experiences. I’ve set up stalls at local markets and annual events to sell my book and get my name out there. Both of these things do sell books, although you have to outlay the cash to buy in copies of your book in the first place. However I’ve found that by placing a buy button on my website, what I don’t sell at the markets I can sell online. This has the added bonus of readers being able to purchase a signed copy and many people like this aspect.
I’ve also done book launches and book signings in book shops. While the later doesn’t sell many copies on the day—I think it’s great for getting your name recognised, hopefully not because people recall that pathetically hopeful looking woman sitting behind a table—but hey, as long as they remember the book or a name I’m happy!
As I’ve already mentioned—I’m still learning how to do this weird thing we call promotion and marketing and learning more each day. Adding informative contacts like BookBuzzr is also a good idea—you can pick up some handy tips and tricks and trust me—if you’re new to this as I am—you need all the help you can get! You can find me on facebook here-
Have you ever wished that your book broke into a best seller list on Amazon?
Aggie Villanueva has written a book that gives you tips and ideas to use the categories feature on Amazon in order to break into a best seller list. We reached out to Aggie in order to get her to share some of her learning with the BookBuzzr author community.
The interview follows:
Hello Aggie! Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Hello Vikram. Thank you so much for having me. I am so enjoying this little virtual visit.
My writing related bio is easy because it’s below, so I’ll tell you a little about the other part of myself! And thank you for asking.
I’m a baby boomer who quit school at 15 to run away and “change the world.” I didn’t do it – Imagine that! I got caught up in the hippie drug culture which negated the hippie ideals that drew me out to begin with. It’s a common coming of age story for the 60s.
A few of my major influences were the Black Panthers (pre violence philosophy), the Freedom Riders, Martin Luther King, Maya Angelou freeing all caged songbirds, Malcolm X, Jerry Rubin, Abbie Hoffman and President Kennedy for sending in the troops to enforce civil rights and founding the Peace Corp. But most of all, my grandparents who raised me, humble Baptist preachers who lived what they preached.
I’m also a photographer. I was dubbed the Grandma Moses of the American Southwest, but last summer I moved from New Mexico to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Maybe I’ve now become the Grandma Moses of the South rather than Southwest?! Either way, I’m honoured by the moniker, and can’t wait to aim my lens at this southern mountain beauty.
What’s the story behind your latest book – ‘Amazon Categories Create Best Sellers’? Is it really that easy to become a best-selling book?
Well, of course we all know the first step is to write a quality manuscript on every level through editing and publication. And we all know that’s as easy as sweating blood onto virtual paper for several months and then paying editorial professionals to wring us out. BUT, once that shining book is in hand, it really is often just a matter of what I call “working Amazon.” And the first step is to understand what they offer and simply utilize it.
Amazon has created an ingenious free publicity machine with one purpose in mind – to sell books. And if your book is listed there, their automated system will work for you too, if you just pay the system a little attention. Amazon wisely structured the site for auto-promotion, promotion and more promotion applied to each and every book without bias.
Many are unaware of the tendrils of intertwined opportunity extending from your sales page to your target audiences. And those lead to more and those lead to more and…you get the picture. But you must put a little effort into identifying your audience. Amazon pretty much does everything else on auto-pilot.
I would never presume even slight understanding of the workings of their automated algorithmic tendrils, but my experience there points to this: everything is
I first heard the phrase ”TwitLit” from writing friend Christopher Cocca. I’ll give him coining credit. We both write flash fiction, so he had suggested using the 140-character Twitter format to tell uber-short stories. His first submission: “His probation stopped on a dime-bag.” Mine? “The gourmand often ate too much, but she was living life to the fullest.”
So how else can writers use Twitter? You might want to refuse answering the assumed question, “What are you doing?” Come on, that’s boring. We’ve got Facebook status for that. Twitter is nimble, Twitter is quick, Twitter has the power to change the world. (OK, a bit of hyperbole there.)
Agent Nadia Cornier used Twitter to update authors on Firebrand Agency’s “query holiday.” From December 15 to January 15, Firebrand invited submissions without a query letter. At final count, she had over 3500 submissions with 387 read and 30 requested. Useful, clever Tweeting. Thanks, Nadia.
Of course, agent Nathan Bransford already covered authorly Tweeting with a guest post by Traci Marchini two months ago. Marchini suggests 21 ways an author can use Twitter. Yep, she’s got TwitLit covered.
But I’m going further with this.
You may be aware of the cell phone novel phenomenom in Japan. Authors deliver stories a few lines at a time directly to mobile devices and welcome reader feedback regarding the tale’s direction. Once the novel is completed, readers rush to buy the paper copy because they feel invested in the story. After all, they had a hand (or a thumb) in its creation.
Some critics consider mobile novels an omen of a literary doomsday. Others think the platform can’t be ignored, especially with five of the top 10 novels in Japan having originated on cell phones.
So why not tell an entire tale in Twitter a few lines at a time? OK, perhaps there’s a certain level of literary integrity you want to maintain and this ain’t the way. But it’s a fun and interesting new venue for fiction, and one that could elicit reader feedback. Applications like TweetDeck help you to organize Tweets by subject and keep track of responses to others (using the “@” symbol). But be careful not to use Twitter for conversations that will lose other readers.
What about a Twitter account for your fictional characters? Don’t they have something to say beyond the confines of your book? A Tweet or two and they’re brought to life in real-time. Or maybe you can create a new character who only exists in Tweets.
The format is experimental. Who knows if it will catch on for story telling. But with Amazon’s Kindle gaining popularity and cell phones evolving into integrated entertainment devices for music, web browsing, pictures and videos, surely books and zines can’t be far behind. Can you imagine your phone’s screen folding out like a newspaper and delivering any story you want anytime you want it? Will Twitter help push things in that direction? Perhaps with a million authors using it, it just might.
So how are you using Twitter to enhance your writing career? Are you marketing yourself or using it creatively? Please share your ideas!
With the new year upon us, it might be a good idea to go over some of the basics of being a gracious and proficient virtual host. For those who may be unsure as to what a virtual host is, I’m talking specifically about hosts of virtual author/book tours.
Here’s a brief description of a virtual book tour (vbt): A vbt is a promotional strategy to create visibility for the author and his book. Writers, and others, with blogs promote the author by featuring him and his work on their blogs.
I manage a group of authors in a cross-promotional group and as part of our marketing strategy we have monthly virtual tours. While each guest does not always focus entirely on his/her book (which I call “pure promo”), no matter what the guest decides to offer it is up to the host to present it in a ‘special feature kind of light,’ especially when utilizing cross-promotion.
You might be asking, why is it so important when in a cross-promotion venture. Well, because you are also the recipient of being featured. Another host is going out of his way to present you and your work in a manner that will:
1. Attract readers
2. Make your content appear fresh and interesting
3. Include images (author and book cover)
4. Lead visitors to click on the Learn More About link
5. If a book is being featured, make it appear inviting enough to hopefully warrant the reader to click on the Buy link
So, as the Good book teaches: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!
Now on to what makes a gracious host:
1. Communicate with your guest. Ask what he would like to feature
2. Include Steps 1-5 above
3. PROMOTE your post. This means posting messages in your groups/forums, on Twitter, and other social networks
4. Make sure visitors will find it easy to leave a comment
5. Stop by during the day of the post to respond to commenters
6. Thank your guest for being there
7. This is super-duper important: do not publish another post on the day you are featuring a guest, it would be inconsiderate
So, that pretty much sums up what is needed to be a gracious host. If you can think of other ways, I’d love hear about them.
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