Social Media Strategy

Connecting with influentials is a simple concept, yet may prove to be the most productive of your social-media efforts. Why? Let’s face it. You’re probably not the most popular or influential person on the Internet. How many followers do you have? How many will you have a year from now? If you’re starting from scratch (let’s say with 100–200 followers), you might hope to grow your fan base to 500–1,000 people in a 6–12 month span. Well worth doing. But for the first years, your greatest impact can come from working with influential people and organizations that already have a big fan base. Identify InfluentialRead More →

I see posts that claim to list “great” award competitions for indie books. But they often contain mediocre contests, some of which I consider to be mostly profit-making ventures (and no, not for you) rather than serious award programs. I only respect and recommend a small number of indie book award contests. And I consciously avoid a batch of them. It’s hard to say that any award is “bad.” We all like awards. We all like praise, whether from the New York Times or from your mother. Or from an eccentric lady down the street. But if that eccentric neighbor decides to charge you $50Read More →

“Without leaving the house I know the whole universe.” – Lao-Tzu This could also be the motto of the social-media platform known as Twitter. For book authors and other writers who wish to use Twitter, I’ll offer some specific tips below. And here’s a link to Twitter’s own help center, to walk you through the basics. But first, a general shout-out for tweeting in general. To my astonishment, Twitter is surprisingly useful. It’s a well-connected, active group of intelligent users, a place to connect casually with fellow literary types and to be generous about other people’s accomplishments. It’s also a place where you can, nowRead More →

SEO magic

If you’ve been looking for ways to get noticed on the web, you’ve probably run into the term SEO. It stands for Search Engine Optimization. So . . . how important is it to understand and use? Is it a real game-changer? Or is it mostly hocus-pocus, a bit of internet trickery, a fake magic charm, like the “ohwa tagu siam” chant from scout camp, something to trip up the uninitiated? Perhaps you can tell that I’m not enamored of SEO; at least, I don’t think it’s as valuable as those claiming it’s “essential” make it out to be. Mostly, I just think that writersRead More →

Branding is a simple concept. For an author, in a nutshell, it’s what people expect when they hear your name attached to a book (or story). If you think of the name Mark Twain, or Stephen King, or Toni Morrison, or J.R.R. Tolkien . . . many things likely pop into your head. For me, the name Tolkien conjures up images of a professorial fellow with a pipe, the smile of a raconteur on his face, eager to spin long tales that I suspect I’d like hear, maybe sitting close by in a comfy easy chair by the fireplace in his study, sipping a littleRead More →

In emerging-writer discussions, I often hear versions of this question: How long do I keep trying if I’m not seeing any results in my pitches to agents or publishing houses? There are many ways to approach the answer. You can just buy into Winston Churchill’s advice to youngsters: “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense.” Yes, there’s a part of me that appreciates that kind of bulldog stubbornness. I’d definitely want it if, say, I needed to defend Great Britain from invasion from foes. ButRead More →

Facebook is no longer as free and open as you may think. Did you know that the average post you do on Facebook now reaches only 12%–14% of your friends? The FB marketing director defended this, saying, “There are pieces of content you create that are interesting, and there’s some that are not.” Per their Oct. 3 announcement: Facebook will now “allow” users to pay $7 to make their posts “more visible” in friends’ News Feeds. (Later in this post, I’ll note several things you can do to deal with this.) It’s true. As of October, Facebook is offering you the “opportunity” to “Promote” anyRead More →

Of course, if you self-publish, you are both author and publisher. Then you’d also do standard “publisher” marketing tasks: send review copies to key review periodicals, sites, and influential people; design a standard catalog sheet or flyer with key specs, summary, and order/availability details; create any additional sales tools (postcards, shelf cards, etc.); make sure the book is listed in key books-in-print databases and online sellers; create web pages with ways to order the book; create & post extra online enhancements: tables of contents, first chapters, sample material, author interviews, etc.; reach out to and field queries from media; and fill any other needs ofRead More →

I’ve often heard writers ask whether they should follow a “no simultaneous submissions” policies, as requested by some publishers. The question of multiple submissions, also call simultaneous submissions, is daunting to an emerging writer. Here is how the policy is often stated: Please do not send us work which is also being submitted elsewhere. We do not consider simultaneous submissions. This policy saves our editors from reading work that is not actually available for first North American publication, and it saves authors the embarrassment of having to withdraw a manuscript. My advice? I recommend that authors do what is in the best interests of theRead More →

I like to use this blog to share good examples of things that book authors (and/or their publishers) can do to market their books. I recently ran across this online list of book-club discussion questions, a reader’s guide for a mystery book by Dee Garretson, author of The Gargoyle in the Seine. What did I like about this particular list? 1. Posting the questions online, she also provided, at the beginning of the page, specifics on how to reach her if you are a member of a book club and wanted her to discuss her book with your group . . . in person or viaRead More →

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