Friday

12 Book Publishing Things to Avoid


Always finding such useful information from the Book Marketing Experts Newsletter, I want to share it with my readers - authors need all the help they can get in their book promoting endeavors.

12 Things Authors do to Sabotage Their Success

By Penny Sansevieri

Writing, publishing, promoting, publicizing. It all seems quite daunting, doesn't it? Well, it doesn't have to be.
First you need to start out by doing the right things and knowing what can help, or harm, your success. Keep in mind that while there is always a creative element, publishing is a business. It's important to know your business to be successful. Here are a dozen ideas that I hope will help you on your journey from writer to successful author.

1. Waiting too long to market. When it comes to marketing, some authors wait too long to get the word out there. If you're sitting on top of your publication date wondering where to start with your marketing, you're about six months behind the curve. Book marketing is what I call the long runway of promotion. A great campaign will consist not only of a focused marketing plan, but a plan that starts early enough to support the ramp up that a good book marketing campaign needs. And this isn't just for the self-published market, any book that's being released these days needs a minimum of a six-month ramp up. This doesn't mean that you are marketing during that time, but ideally you are getting ready for your launch by having a website designed, starting a newsletter, building your mailing list, building your media list, planning your events, etc.

2. Not having enough money. I see it all the time; authors spend all their money on the book process (book cover, editing, etc.) and then don't have enough for the marketing. That's like opening up a store and not having money to stock it with inventory. Before you jump headlong into publishing a book, make sure you have the funds to do so. So, how much is enough? It depends on what you want to accomplish. Be clear on your goals and market, then sit down with someone who can help you determine a budget.

3. Not getting to know others in their market. Who else is writing about your topic? If you're not sure, then you should do your research. Getting to know your fellow genre authors is not only important, but it can really help you with your marketing. How? Because most readers don't just buy one self-help book, or one dating book, they will generally buy in multiples. So getting to know others within your market can not only help you market your book, but it could also help you connect with fellow authors, and there is truth to the fact that there is power in numbers.

4. Ignoring social media. While social media may seem confusing to most of us, it's important to know that it can sometimes be a make or break situation when it comes to marketing your book. If you can't make heads or tails out of Twitter vs. Facebook, then hire someone who can help you or guide you through your choices.

5. Thinking bookstores don't matter. While it's nice to think that most of us do our shopping online and via Amazon, bookstores (especially local stores) can really help or hurt your marketing efforts. If your book isn't going into bookstores, then you'll want to get to know your local area stores to see if you can present your book to them for consideration and/or do an event in their store. Having a local presence in bookstores is important, especially if you are doing local events and local media. If the bookstore won't stock the book (and many of them won't if you're a first time author), then make sure at the very least that your book can be ordered. You don't want people walking into your neighborhood store and being told "Sorry, we can't get that book."

6. Printing too many copies. In order to get large printing discounts, authors will often print huge numbers of their books. I've seen ranges from 10,000 on up. Generally I recommend a run of no more than 2,000. You can always go back to print and likely when you do, you'll want to make changes to the book, possibly adding new testimonials, endorsements, and reviews. Also, you have better things to do with your marketing dollars than spend them on storage space.

7. Not spending enough time researching their market. If you were going to open up a store in a mall, let's say a yogurt shop, would you ever consider opening a store without doing the proper research? Probably not. Yet every day authors publish books and haven't done market research. This research, while it can be tedious, could save you hundreds of dollars in promotion and/or cover design.

8. Not hiring a professional to do their book cover. In tight financial times, it's ok to cut corners in marketing or find less expensive ways to do things. But one corner you shouldn't cut is on your book cover. Your cover is important because it's the first impression your audience has of your book. Don't shortcut your success by creating a cover that doesn't sell. In the long run, the money you save on the cover design could cost you four times that in book sales.

9. Not having their work professionally edited. Your book is your resume; not only that but it's your reader's experience as well. What kind of experience do you want to give them? If the answer is a great one (and it likely is) make sure the work you do on your book mirrors that. Your work should always be professionally edited, no excuse. If you don't have enough money to do this, then ask yourself if publishing this book is really a good idea. Perhaps waiting until you have the funds to get the book released the right way is a better idea.

10. Expecting immediate book sales. Nothing happens immediately, especially book sales. The sales process for books can be lengthy, especially when you're dealing with multiple reporting agencies. Most authors don't know that places like Amazon, Baker & Taylor, and Ingram don't all pay on the same timeframe. They all have particular cycles to how they pay. For example, Amazon might pay 90 days after the sale, whereas some folks I've talked to say that Baker & Taylor sometimes lags five months behind. What this means is that if you are pushing your book in December and hope to see the fruits of your labor in January, that timeline isn't realistic. Don't end up disappointed if your royalty statements aren't reflecting the promotion you've done. It could be that the agencies just haven't caught up with your sales.

11. Not having a website. Someone once asked me if all authors should have a website, to which I responded: does your book need a book cover? Every author should have a website. It doesn't have to be fancy, lengthy, or expensive, but it's a 24/7 sales tool and the only way to build credibility online.

12. Giving up on their book too soon. Like anything, book marketing takes time. I see authors all the time who start to grow impatient after a few months, wondering where their success is. How long will it take? That depends. But you might not be the best person to determine that. If you've been marketing your book for a while and can't figure out why nothing has taken off, spend an hour with a professional who can tell you if you're on the right track. Do this before you decide to throw in the towel. You might be inches away from success; don't give up before you do your research.

Making headway in marketing is as much about the good decisions, as it is avoiding the bad. Good luck in your publishing journey!

***
Reprinted from "The Book Marketing Expert newsletter," a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques.

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Monday

Giving Basic Writing Advice

Recently, I was asked to look over a children’s fiction picture book manuscript. This was not a paying job, just a favor.

The ‘new to writing’ authors, who are both health care professionals, had already been calling major publishers to find out submission requirements. They were told their manuscript would not be looked at without an agent.

So, they went to the library to find a book on top agents. While this is a worthy endeavor, there are some basic first steps to take before shooting for the stars.

Just glancing at the manuscript, I knew it needed a lot of work. And, interestingly, I was surprised to see so many errors in a simple 600 word story. It seems as we progress in learning the craft of writing, we forget that we didn’t know the very basics at one time either.

When critiquing, or giving writing advice, it’s important to begin with the positive aspects of the manuscript. If the errors are basic and abundant, you may also want to state them in generic terms, not to offend the author/s.

What does this mean?

Well, instead of saying, “You shouldn’t have the children’s picture book manuscript formatted in lists, numbered, or in Australian Sunrise 10pt font,” you might say, “Manuscripts are usually preferred typed in New Times Roman 12pt font, and are double spaced using a free form flow with the first sentence of each paragraph indented.

To help with clarity, you could include a first page example of a manuscript you have, or rewrite the 1st paragraph of two of the authors’ manuscript.

If there are just too many errors, for time’s sake you can make a list of proper manuscript formatting tips. This is the approach I took.

I started out with the ‘positive:’

This is a wonderful idea for a children’s book and has great potential, especially that both of you are professionals in the health field. Children will certainly benefit from the story’s information. It could use some tweaking though.

Then I added a brief sentence: Here are a few tips for writing and formatting a manuscript to help get it submission ready:


  • Manuscripts should be formatted in 12 pt Times New Roman Font  
  • They should be double spaced
  • They should be in free form without numbering for pages or in list form
  • The first sentence of each paragraph should be indented
  • Children love action – actions are better conveyed through ‘showing’ rather than ‘telling’
  • Notes for illustrations after each of your intended pages are usually frowned upon by publishers
  • Most publishers, especially the major ones use their own illustrators
  • Manuscripts are more likely to make it past the slush pile if they are polished
  • Usually writers go through a process of one or two critique groups and writing groups, after rewrites and editing it gets to a point where it looks perfect. That’s when it needs to be professionally edited
These tips are part of the advice I offered the authors and I kept it as generic as possible.

After you note the manuscript errors, you should end your advice on another positive note. You might say, “With rewriting and editing, you will have an engaging story that children will be sure to love, and it’ll be submission ready.”

After my comments, I provided links to a few articles about writing for children and editing.

Since every author’s personality is different it's usually best to use the gentle approach when offering writing advice.

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Friday

Create an Online Media Kit for Books

I have a wonderful article by Dana Lynn Smith for those of you promoting books:

Book Publicity — How to Create an Online Media Kit  
By Dana Lynn Smith

In your author and book publicity efforts, it's critical to make it easy for journalists, talk show producers and other influencers to quickly find everything they need to know about you and your book. One of the best ways to do that is to create a page for the media on your website and blog.

Online author and book publicity pages are called by several names, including media room, media kit, press room or press kit, or they are simply labeled as Media or Press on the site's navigation menu. On some sites, the media page is accessed through a link from the About page of the site. Whatever you call your book publicity page, just make sure it's clearly marked and easy to find from any page on your site.

Remember, your media page isn't just for the media – it's a great place to showcase your credentials and biographic information for a variety of author and book publicity purposes. For example, you can link to your media page when introducing yourself to bloggers, potential clients and potential partners.

Here are some of the most important elements to include on your book publicity page:

•   About the Author – You might create two bios, a short one of about three sentences (imagine a radio announcer introducing you) and another bio about half a page long.

•   About the Book – Summary of your book, written in a news style without marketing hype.

•   Praise/Endorsements/Reviews – Feature any celebrity quotes prominently.

•   Awards – Book awards and awards received by the author.

•   Author Photos – High resolution version for print and low resolution for online use. Include a caption beneath your photo listing your credentials or author tagline. See this article for tips about creating your author photo.

•   Book Covers – High resolution for print and low resolution for online use.

•   Contact Information – Make this easy to find, include email address, phone number, and address if applicable. See these tips for protecting your email address online.

Other elements commonly found on author and book publicity pages include:

•   Complete Press Kit – One page or document containing all of your media information in one place.

•   In the Media – Provide links to previous media coverage that you've received. If you have appeared in any major print or broadcast media, include their logos prominently on your media page.

•   Audio and/or Video Clips – Short audio or video clips of you (preferably being interviewed) allow potential interviewers to hear or see you in action.

•   Interview Topics – A list of topics you can speak about.

•   Sample Q & A – Radio stations, in particular, will appreciate using questions you provide for an interview

•   Article Topics – A list of topics you can write about and/or suggested angles for feature stories about you. You might even provide pre-written stories or tips for the media to use.

•   Fact Sheet – One-page document with pertinent facts about your industry or book topic.

•   Press Releases – Links to online versions of press releases about you, your book or business.

•   Media References – Nice quotes from media who have interviewed you or worked with you.

•   Clients Include – If you're a consultant, you might want to post a list of important clients (with their permission) and a few testimonial quotes from clients.
Sandra Beckwith, a former award-winning publicist who now teaches authors how to generate media attention at www.buildbookbuzz.com, advises imagining what questions journalists would ask about you and your book and making sure they can find the answers to those questions in your media room. "You want to make sure you're providing the information they want in a format they're familiar with," she says. "That means you want to present that information in a factual way without hyperbole or exaggeration."

Many online book publicity pages contain downloadable documents in PDF format, but Sandra advises just putting the text of your media materials on a web page and letting people copy and paste from there. Even when it's convenient to copy or download your book publicity materials from your website, some people will still want you to email information to them or even send a printed media kit.

For inspiration, check out these book publicity pages for ideas to use in creating your own media page:

Laura Stack (nonfiction)
http://www.theproductivitypro.com/media_room.htm

Your online author publicity page is a great promotional tool. If you don't already have a media page on your site, get started now – you can always add to it over time. If you do have a media page, now is a good time to review and enhance it.

•  For more book marketing tips, follow @BookMarketer on Twitter.

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Dana Lynn Smith is a book marketing coach and author of the Savvy Book Marketer Guides. For more tips, visit her book marketing blog and get a copy of the Top Book Marketing Tips ebook when you sign up for her free book marketing newsletter.


Write Like an Expert

If you're a freelance writer looking for new avenues to query your work, you might take a look at special-interest magazines. These magazines may cover topics such as travel, boating, pets, health, and lifestyle. Moira Allen, in a guest post, explains how you don't necessarily have to be an expert in the special-interest magazine you query.

How to Write Like an Expert

By Moira Allen

Most special-interest magazines look for "expert" commentary on the subjects they cover. But even if you lack a professional's expertise on a particular topic, your chances of making a sale may still be better than you think. When I edited a pet magazine, I preferred non-expert writers to non-writer experts, because such writers offered expertise in six critical areas:

1) Understanding. If you're writing for a market you're familiar with, you may have a better understanding of the needs and interests of its audience than an "expert." You have a sense of what needs to be communicated to people like yourself--and how. For example, suppose that you're a cat owner writing about a feline disease for a cat magazine. While a veterinarian could tell readers about the pathology of the disease, you know how this information might affect other cat owners. As an expert in cat ownership, you can determine whether it is more important to focus on recognizing the symptoms of the disease, providing preventive treatment for your cat or the environment, or treating the cat when it becomes ill.

2) Communication. Writers serve as translators between the technical experts and the audience. That veterinarian you interview may tell you all about histolytes and platelets and blood counts, but such information won't help your audience until you've translated it into language the pet owner understands--and framed it in a context that makes the information meaningful.

3) Personal Experience. Experts often don't provide information as to how the subject in question actually affects the lives of ordinary people. Writers, on the other hand, often develop a topic based on an experience they've had--what you learned when your cat contracted a particular disease, for example. Thus, you know that an article on "how to give cats shots" will not have as much impact as an article on feline diabetes that follows one pet owner's experience with the illness, including how she learned to give her cat regular insulin injections. Even if you haven't had a specific experience, you have a shared background with your readers that will help you communicate what readers need to know. You share their fears and concerns, and thus can express the answers or information a reader needs to deal with those concerns.

4) Balance. An article written by a "leading authority" on a particular subject may be brilliant, but one-sided. Writers, however, can examine controversies from all sides, following up leads and exploring various angles by interviewing experts with differing opinions or in different fields. For your article on feline diseases, for example, you might interview not only a veterinarian, but also a cat breeder, and perhaps some cat owners who have coped with their pets' illnesses. Thus, your article may present more information and more options than that written by an "expert."

5) Tact. Some experts simply aren't good communicators, while others don't understand the need to match their prose to the needs of the magazine's audience. Such "experts" often do not take kindly to having their work edited, either for content or for clarity. This makes it difficult for editors to work with them--and often makes them reluctant to work with the magazine again. However, writing clearly and working with editors to polish and refine your prose is part of a writer's job. If you take that job seriously, editors will find you a joy to work with, and will come back to you again and again with new assignments--and let you handle the difficulties of talking to experts!

6) Flexibility. Experts, by definition, are specialists. An editor won't be able to go back to the person who provided an article on dermatology, and ask for another article on obedience training. A writer's expertise, however, can be transferred from one subject to another with ease. Prove yourself able to handle two or three "expert" articles on different subjects, and you'll be one of the first writers an editor thinks of when the opportunity arises for a challenging assignment.

Copyright © 2001 Moira Allen
This article originally appeared in Writer's Digest.

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Moira Allen, editor of Writing-World.com, has published more than 350 articles and columns and seven books, including How to Write for Magazines, Starting Your Career as a Freelance Writer, The Writer's Guide to Queries, Pitches and Proposals, and her most recent book, Writing to Win: The Colossal Guide to Writing Contests. Allen has served as columnist and contributing editor for The Writer and has written for Writer's Digest, Byline, and various other writing publications. In addition to Writing-World.com, Allen hosts the travel website TimeTravel-Britain.com, She can be contacted at editors "at" writing-world.com.

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Monday

Selling eBooks – Reach Your Market Through Free Services

As an author, most of us are aware that writing books may not be a lucrative endeavor. In fact, it most likely won’t be. But, there are other avenues you can take to earn an income or at least supplement your income.

Each of you have knowledge and skills that others would like to learn.

Maybe you’re a great cook and have mouthwatering recipes you can share. Maybe you are a wiz at creating crafts. Or, maybe you are an expert in marketing, or finance. Whatever your area of expertise, there is an audience just waiting to learn from you.

You may be wondering how you can reach that audience.

The answer: e-books.

E-books are a simple product to create and with services such as Lulu.com, Smashwords.com, and Amazon’s Kindle, you can have a ready-made worldwide market. And, statistics show that the e-book market is steadily growing and e-readers are becoming must-have household items. You should want to be a part of that growth.

Special Features to Help You Target Your Market

Your eBook Title

To market your e-book effectively, your keyword should be incorporated in your title, and it should be a title that will grab a reader. Look at the two titles below; which one will grab a reader and quickly let him know that his money problems can be solved by selling e-books?

Make Money Selling eBooks
You Can Earn an Income by Selling eBooks


Note: Be sure your title is reflective of the e-book content. If you’re writing about apples, don’t title it, All About Oranges.

Your Book Cover

As with your title, you want the cover to grab a reader. There are number of image services where you can get free images, just be sure you can use the image on products for sale and without attribution.

The cover should also be reflective of the book content.

Book Category and Keywords

Taking advantage of free e-book publishing services allows you to target specific markets through their category and keyword functions. But, before you choose a category or keywords, do your homework. Look over the available choices and pick a category that best fits your product. In regard to keywords, research those that will be effective – look for long-tail keywords, they have less competition.

Take your time with this step, it can mean the difference between no sales, some sales, and huge sales.

Book Description

Another important feature these services provide is an ample book description area. Again, take your time and create a ‘hook’ description.

If you belong to a critique group, ask them to go over your content before uploading it. For those who don’t belong to a critique group (if you’re an author, you should belong to one) try asking in one of your writing groups, or ask a writing friend for some input.

I’ve published e-books on Lulu and recently published with Kindle. And, if I can do it, anyone can. I won’t sugar coat it though, it does take some effort and time, but the results are worth it. You can have a ready-to-go product for sale within a day. If you get proficient at publishing on these sites, you can complete a project in a couple of hours.

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Friday

Combine and Automate Your Social Networks

Promoting your books or services is time consuming, as we all know. Taking steps to integrate your social media networks can help in this area. To show you how to take these steps, I have a great article by Dana Lynn Smith, the Savvy Book Marketer.

Save Time by Integrating and Automating Your Social Networks

Guest Post By Dana Lynn Smith

Social networking is a powerful tool for promoting books and authors, but it can be time consuming. There are a number of free time-saving tools and applications that can help you integrate and automate your networks and status updates. We'll explore several of these below.

Automatically Flow Your Tweets to Facebook

One easy way to automatically flow your tweets to your Facebook profile or pages is to use the Twitter application on Facebook. When you install this application on your Facebook accounts, it automatically posts all tweets except @replies (messages that begin with someone's Twitter user name) to Facebook's Status Update. You can connect the application to your personal profile and to multiple fan pages.

The downside of this app is that if you tweet frequently, your Facebook friends or fans may get tired of seeing so many messages. The tolerance for a high volume of messages seems to be lower on Facebook than on Twitter.

Another option is the Selective Tweets application. Install this application on your Facebook profile or pages and then add the hastag #fb at the end of any tweet that you want to appear on Facebook.

Here's the really cool thing: when you use this application, it creates a link on your Facebook status update that allows people to follow you on Twitter.

Another nice feature is that Selective Twitter works with both profiles and fan pages on Facebook. The disadvantage is that you have to remember to add the #fb to your tweets and it takes up three of your precious 140 characters.

Automatically Flow Your Tweets to LinkedIn

Because LinkedIn is a professional network, it may not be appropriate for all of your tweets to appear there. With this process, you can selectively decide which tweets go to LinkedIn. Even if you don't want your tweets to flow to LinkedIn, you can create a clickable link to your Twitter account from your LinkedIn profile.

It's easy and just takes a few moments to set up. First, you'll need to sync your Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. From the Edit Profile screen on LinkedIn, check the Twitter box and then specify the Twitter account that you’d like to sync and/or display on your LinkedIn profile.

As part of the setup process, you can choose whether to send all of your tweets or just selected tweets from Twitter back to LinkedIn as a status update. If you choose to be selective (which I recommend), just include the hashtag #in at the end of any tweets that you wish to appear on LinkedIn.

See this page for a more detailed explanation of the set up process, and read this article for more tips on how authors can use LinkedIn.

Manage Multiple Social Networks and Automate Tasks

Another way to integrate your social networks is to do your posting from a third party tool that allows you to post to multiple networks and automate key tasks. Some of these tools let you schedule your posts in advance, which can be a real time saver. You can schedule a whole day's worth of posts on all your networks and even set up posts to be sent when you're on vacation.

TweetDeck is a popular free downloadable program that works on Windows, Linux, Mac, iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. It allows you to update multiple Twitter accounts, plus Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Google Buzz and Foursquare. With TweetDeck, you can sort your followers into groups, schedule posts to appear at specific times in the future, create and manage Twitter lists, and more.

My favorite tool is HootSuite, a free web-based service that lets me manage posts on my Facebook and LinkedIn profiles, as well as multiple Twitter accounts and Facebook Pages. HootSuite also works with MySpace and several other networks.

To use HootSuite, first you sync to all of the social network accounts that you want to integrate. As part of that process, you'll be giving each of the networks permission to link up with your HootSuite account. Once your accounts are linked, you can view incoming posts on all of your networks, along with your outgoing posts, both pending and already posted. For your Twitter accounts, you can set up columns to view posts from Twitter lists or based on search criteria that you enter.


You can use the Shrink button to create short links, click the calendar icon to schedule posts in the future, and use the icons to the right to select which network(s) to post this message to.

Lots of people follow me on more than one network, so I don't like to send the same message to all my networks and pages simultaneously. When I post a message, I usually schedule it to go to different networks on different days. Before sending the first post, I copy the text of the message to my clipboard (Ctrl-C on Windows). Then I paste (Ctrl-V) the message into the message box again and send select a different network and date.

HootSuite has lots more features – learn more on this page. Use the Quick Start Guide to get up and running fast on HootSuite.

The downside that I see to HootSuite is that it can't integrate my Facebook group or do automatic follows or welcome messages on Twitter.

SocialOomph.com (formerly called TweetLater) is a popular tool for pre-scheduling tweets on Twitter. Other features in the free version allow you to automatically send a direct message to new Twitter followers, automatically follow everyone who follows you, and more. The paid version of SocialOomph allows users to post to Facebook, integrate with a blog, schedule @replies and direct messages in advance, and more. Personally, I prefer the management and scheduling tools on HootSuite, but you could use SocialOomph to do automatic follows and direct messages.

Future Tweets is another free service that lets you schedule tweets in advance. This may be a good choice if you just want a scheduling service without other bells and whistles.

Ping.fm may be a good choice if you want to coordinate posts to wide range of networks, but it doesn't offer as many features as some other services. However, Ping can be integrated with HootSuite for added functionality.

You may need to experiment with several social networking tools before you decide which one best meets your needs, but you're sure to boost your productivity by using tools like these.

*****
Dana Lynn Smith is a book marketing coach and author of the Savvy Book Marketer Guides. For more tips, follow @BookMarketer on Twitter, visit Dana's blog at www.TheSavvyBookMarketer.com, and get a copy of the Top Book Marketing Tips ebook when you sign up for her free newsletter at BookMarketingNewsletter (.com)

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