|My audience at the Edinburgh Book Festival 2014|
|Pylewell Park, the setting for the Curious Arts Festival|
|The Gruffalo loses his head at all the excitement in the Edinburgh Author's Yurt|
|My audience at the Edinburgh Book Festival 2014|
|Pylewell Park, the setting for the Curious Arts Festival|
|The Gruffalo loses his head at all the excitement in the Edinburgh Author's Yurt|
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 Alberta books. Susan M. Toy
Also visit Susan's Blog, Books, Publishing, Reading, Writing.
Island in the Clouds: [Amazon] [Amazon CA]
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 isAdd a Comment
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 cAdd a Comment
Amazon Author pages.
A few weeks ago, we announced a Facebook Fan Page Widget Contest.
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.
And the winners are …
First Place – $20 Amazon Gift Certificate:
Second Place - $10 Amazon Gift Certificate:
Third Place: - $5 Amazon Gift Certificate:
Honorable Mentions Include:
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.
Oh, and don't forget DKV Writing 4 U is having a SUPER DUPER New Year's Special Event - great savings and FREEBIES!!!! Check it out!
Stop by for a FREE GIFT: Classic Christmas Tales (over 200 pages with 18 wonderful holiday stories). No need to subscribe for it...it's yours just for visiting!
Until next time,
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
1 Year of Free Hosting & Domain Registration Service ($129.00 Value)
Twitter Account Se
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?
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:
What Elements Haven't I Considered?
Think you've thought of everything? Think again. Here are a few other considerations:
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.
Guest Expert: C Kay Brooks
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.
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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?
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Oh, you don’t write about vampires? In the above paragraph substitute you character’s profession, personality or problem for the word ‘vampire’. Let’sAdd a Comment
Guest Expert: Karlene Blakemore-Mowle
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-Add a Comment
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!