Author Solutions, authors, book marketing, Ebooks, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing

Can a video help your book be discovered by more readers?

In a recent issue of Publishing Perspectives, Gabriel Pena i Ballesté, the CEO Bookmovies.tv, wrote an article, titled, The book trailers: The best plan to connect books and readers. His main premise is video is a great way to help with discoverability. Given we are a media and image driven culture, I tend to agree.

Pena is CEO of company focused on creating book trailers, so he clearly has a bias, but he offered some helpful things to keep in mind as you think about creating a book trailer. I have taken some of his advice and added some of my thoughts to help you as you develop video content to promote your book.

  1. Be clear on the goal of your book trailer before you begin.  Are you creating a teaser? Are you creating a campaign? Are you trying to establish your credibility as an author? If you are not clear on what you want to accomplish with your video, chances are the video will not be as powerful.
  2. Keep it short. We have media ADD as a culture so it is important you make your point as quickly as possible.
  3. Have some distribution channels in mind. If you create a video, but are not sure where you will post it or how you will drive traffic to see it, you may be wasting your time.  Start with your own blog as the first place to post and then anywhere your book is for sale online.
  4. Don’t think a video is a substitute for reviews and recommendations. A video is a great promotional tool, but you should still pursue reviews and endorsements from others. It will only make your promotional plan that much stronger.

In short, a book trailer should be part of your marketing plan, because it can help with discoverability, but you should keep these four points in mind as you create the video. In addition, I have provided some examples of videos promoting books that may inspire you. Enjoy

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Author Solutions, authors, helpful hints, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing, writing

Free webinar to help you fulfill your New Year’s publishing resolution!

Register for the free webinar at the Author Learning Center.

Register for the free webinar at the Author Learning Center.

Along with losing weight, start exercising and quit smoking, one of the more common New Year’s resolutions is publish a book.  However, for most first-time authors, that task may seem confusing or unachievable. It does not have to be.

On Tuesday, January 7th at 7:30 pm EST, I want to give you some tips on how you can fulfill your New Year’s publishing resolution and make 2014 the year you become a published author.  Through the Author Learning Center, I will offer a FREE webinar titled, “6 tips on how to get published in 2014″.   Along with presenting helpful hints to get you to your goal, there will be a time for you to ask questions.  While there is no charge for the webinar, registrations are limited, so don’t wait to sign up.  Click on the link below and I look forward to hearing from you next Tuesday.

Register for the free webinar.

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authors, book marketing, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing, Thomas Nelson, writing, Writing Contest

2 writing contest winners share tips for aspiring writers who want to get published.

Completing a manuscript can be a lonely journey filled with self-doubt, but these two videos from the winners of two writing contests serve as an inspiration to all writers that persevering to complete the work is worth the effort.  Laurie Norlander entered the Women of Faith writing contest last year and is now a published author. Her book, Mirrored Images and her story is featured in this video.

Another first time author, Stacey Navarro, shares her story in this video.  As a stay-at-home mom,  she wanted to write a book that was something her daughters  would want to read. That motivation was enough to get her to finish her manuscript and enter the Crossbooks writing contest. Her description of what happened when she learned she won is worth watching the video. As with Laurie, her words will be an encouragement to any one working on a book.

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agents, authors, book marketing, book selling, helpful hints, Indie book publishing, self publishing, writing

Author Cliff Adelman shares what inspired him to write The Russian Embassy Party.

Russian EmbassyOne of the great joys of my current job is meeting and speaking to many authors. I am always interested and amazed to hear their stories of what inspired them to write and by their willingness to help other writers in the journey to get published.

At Book Expo America in May,  I had the opportunity to meet Cliff Adelman, author of The Russian Embassy Party, which he self-published with Archway Publishing.  Here’s a summary of the story from the web site:

A ride on the edges of history, with all its unanticipated connections, from the 1963 March on Washington to the 1993 chaos of Yeltsin’s Russia. When an ex-CIA agent convinces a bumbling law student to write a term paper on international rights on the high seas, the student and his roommates in Washington wind up with the whole Soviet Embassy coming to dinner. This happened on August 10, 1963, and has never been marked in the history books. Out of this encounter spins a story of revenge, counterpoint, and rollicking foolishness, ending on a railroad platform by the Russian-Finnish border in September, 1993. The Russian Embassy Party follows its sort-of-ordinary people in a not-so-ordinary web through the edges of history (the set for ‘I Have a Dream,’ watching the fall of the Berlin Wall, revelations of the Katyn Forest Massacre, the last gasp failed Soviet coup of August 1991, stumbling attempts to shore up democracy in Yelstin’s Russia) until . . . Well, let’s say only that there is a good dose of history in the story, and a larger dose of realism in the minds, environments, and conversations of both American and Russian protagonists and supporting cast. At the same time, the echoes of the 1963 Russian Embassy Party itself (when the students behaved and talked like the late-adolescents they were) cut veins through the story, linking its participants in ways they realize, bit by bit, as adults.

According to his bio on the Archway Publishing website:

Cliff started making trouble in grade school in the Boston area, made it constructive trouble at Brown and the University of Chicago, and brought the construction to a head in a string of influential monographs that demonstrated how tractable and smart both governments and foundations can be. Not exactly a wall-flower.

As you can tell by his bio, Cliff is an interesting character in his own right so I asked him to share about his book. Here are my questions and his answers to an interview I conducted with him. I think you will find it an enjoyable read.

What inspired you to write the book?  For years, I had three stories I wanted to tell.  I chose The Russian Embassy Party for my first novel.  Why?  First, because I started writing the 1963 portion of the novel as a memoir in 1973.  It didn’t go anywhere then, and certainly wasn’t a story in and of itself.  So it slept.  Thirty years later, I meet a Finn on a train from Helsinki to St. Petersburg whose business is hauling out industrial waste sludge from Russia to extractors that could pull precious metals from the glop.  It took nearly 20 years more for me to put the two poles together and say, “You know?  There’s a good story here. Now, can I do it?”  That 2013 is the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, which plays a revelatory role in the 1963 portion of the novel, was push enough to get this thing done in 2012.

….let your characters talk, and their talk should become the engines of the story.

What do you think gain by reading your book?  They will squirm a little with the 1963 late adolescents talking and experiencing life like late adolescents; they will come to appreciate the underside of Soviet/Russian life as experienced by more-or-less ordinary people, who also tell bad Russian jokes; they will learn perhaps more than they ever knew of the way advertising works in international contexts; and will come to see how they, too, are bounced along the edges of history. And they
will have a good deal of fun along the way.

….have a marketing platform spelled out for yourself before you try to sell the finished product,

How did writing [non-fiction] for your job help you when writing this book?  I wrote monograph-length pieces in ways that,as people said, “made data sing,” and asked how the hell the U.S. government let me get away with that kind of colorful writing, let alone titles such as Women at Thirtysomething, Tourists  in Our Own Land, Answers in the Toolbox, and Moving Into Town–and Moving On.  Gradually, these got longer, so I knew I could sustain the prose.  Whether I could build and sustain characters and a plot that did not depend on underlying data was another story, and whether I could have the characters and story emerge principally through dialogue (as opposed to an auctorial voice) was a significant challenge that, as it turned out, was less difficult than I anticipated.

Archway logoWhat tips would you to  give aspiring writers?  First, never write about places you have not visited   As Orwell said, the physical memories—sounds, smells, surfaces of things—come first.  Second, let your characters talk, and their talk should become the engines of the story.  Don’t tell the reader what some character is thinking or feeling: let the character do it!  Third, if you have an international environment, use languages other than English and put the translations in brackets.  You may need help for this.  I did with the Russian (not the German, in which I am half-conversant; but you will notice that, even there, I had the bi-lingual German character translate for his American listeners in the natural rhythms of conversation).  Fourth, have a marketing platform spelled out for yourself before you try to sell the finished product, whether you wind up with an agent (highly unlikely), publisher directly (even more unlikely), or engage a self-publishing platform.

What has been the most satisfying aspect of publishing a novel? (I had published three non-fiction books with commercial publishers previously, so fiction was the issue) Easy: it opened the door to putting the next novel together.  It said: you can do this, so do it again

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Author Solutions, authors, book marketing, Publishing, self publishing

The 3 phases of a successful book marketing campaign

Marketing your book can be as fun and creative as the actual process of writing a book — if you have the right
plan. In fact, developing a marketing plan is one of the most important tasks you need to complete in order to promote
your book successfully.

As with any good book, a good marketing plan has an effective beginning, an engaging middle and a powerful end. Think about it in three phases:

PHASE ONE: Before You Submit Your Manuscript

PHASE TWO: Once You Submit Your Manuscript

PHASE THREE: After Your Book Is Available for Sale

Marketing planOver the course of the next three posts I am going to address some key things to think about during each of these phases to help you create the most successful marketing plan you can.

PHASE ONE: Before You Submit Your Manuscript

The time to start thinking about your marketing plan is before you even submit your manuscript for publication. Having clear answers to these questions is the key to building an effective marketing plan. Here are some essential questions for you to consider:

WHAT ARE YOUR BOOK MARKETING GOALS?  Identifying some goals that are observable, measurable and attainable is the foundation of a solid marketing plan. Selling a million copies may be an aspiration but perhaps not a realistic goal. Set some targets you can hit, so that you can measure progress and celebrate successes.

WHO ARE YOUR IDEAL READERS?  A good marketing plan has clear goals and a clear picture of who your potential readers will be. A book for the whole world” is ambitious but not realistic. Create a prototype of your ideal reader by considering age, gender and other demographics. Getting a picture of who you are targeting will help you develop your marketing strategy.

WHAT ARE OTHER COMPETING TITLES FOR YOUR BOOK?  Go to a bookstore or search online, and look for books that might focus on a similar topic or have a similar title to your proposed book. Your list of potential titles for your book should appeal to readers who are drawn to these topics, but with a unique spin that helps differentiate your special vision as it relates to the subject.

WHAT’S YOUR TITLE?  Short and memorable is always best. Also, consider adding a subtitle if it helps add important detail about your book’s topic.

As with any good book, a good marketing plan has an effective beginning, an engaging middle and a powerful end.

WHAT WILL YOUR COVER DESIGN LOOK LIKE?  The saying goes, “you can’t judge a book by its cover,” but readers do. That’s why it’s important to give serious consideration to your cover design. Go to your local bookstore or library and look for book covers that jump out at you. Notice the color, layout, image and typography. These are all elements that contribute to an effective cover.

.• WHAT CAN YOU DO TO POSITION YOURSELF AS AN AUTHOR?  Think about how you can give yourself credibility as an author. Depending on the book, you may be able to cite particular experiences, professional accreditations or other compelling factors that lend authority to your status as a writer. You will also need this information when it comes time to pitch your story to the media.

WHAT ARE YOUR KEY SELLING POINTS?  When you speak to book buyers, potential readers or media representatives, you want to have a short, crisp and compelling reason why someone should buy your book. This selling sound bite is key to gaining the initial attention of your target audiences.

ARE THERE ANY ENDORSEMENTS YOU CAN SECURE?  Having quotes from well-known or respected people can give your book added credibility in the eyes of potential book buyers. Think about who might be willing to endorse your book, and then use their quotes on your back cover as well as in other sales materials.

WHAT WILL YOUR BACK COVER COPY SAY?  Watch people at a bookstore. If a cover attracts their attention, they will pick up the book, flip it over and read the back cover. You’ll want to give careful attention to the messages on your book’s back cover. It could mean the difference between a “pass” and a purchase.

If you think about these questions even before you submit your manuscript, you will be on your way to putting together an effective marketing plan for you book. In my next post, I am going to suggest some key questions to ask in Phase 2: Once you submit your manuscript.

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Author Solutions, authors, book marketing, self publishing

5 Slightly Unexpected Tips For Self-Published Authors to Find Success

There are many voices out there today giving their opinions on self-publishing.  Unfortunately, many of those who are the loudest are promoting one path to publishing as the only way.  As you know, I don’t agree with that perspective because there are more options and choices than ever before for authors to get their books into the hands of readers.

Jeremy Greenfield

Jeremy Greenfield

That’s why I found the post by Jeremy Greenfield very refreshing. Jeremy is the editorial director of Digital Book World and speaks at many of the key conferences around the country.  He  is a considered a thought leader in the industry and I appreciate his perspectives. I was particularly struck by the blog post he did based on a talk he gave at a conference.  You can read the full post here, but I thought there were some specific points he made that bear repeating. With his permission, I have provided some excerpts for your edification.

Beware of people who tell you that it’s absolutely wrong to use one self-publishing service or another; or someone who tells you  you can’t do it without an established publisher; or that you shouldn’t do it with one.

One thing I hear a lot these days is that “self-publishing” is a misnomer. The reason? There’s no way that one person can do everything necessary to properly and effectively publish a book. (Obviously there are a lot of qualifiers there, but you get the idea.)

Misnomer aside, there are many people out there trying to publish books without the aid of an established publishing company. Some of them gathered at the Tools of Change Author Revolution conference in New York today to share information, network and learn more about the craft of publishing.

Since so much of what you hear and read about self-publishing is common sense or things you’ve heard before, I decided to pick out five things from the programming that are slightly unexpected or things you may not have heard before.

1. Give content away. 

“Free is your best friend,” said founder of Wildfire Marketing (and DBW Expert Blogger) Rob Eagar. “Giving away part of your content or sometimes the whole book for free” is one of the best ways to generate book sales.

2. Don’t go it alone. 

There are self-publishing advocates that will tell you that you can do it all yourself. That you should do it all yourself, especially if someone who might help you wants to charge you for the service.

According to agent Jason Allen Ashlock (head of Movable Type Management and also a DBW Expert Blogger), it’s not a good idea.

“None of us goes it alone,” he said. “Publishing is a team sport. Allies, alliances and partners are more vital than ever.”

.3. Maintain a relationship with your audience. 

The old publishing cycle was: write, edit, produce, pre-sales and marketing, book release, big sales and marketing push, sales fade, repeat. The new publishing cycle is drawn out and never ends. Marketing starts the day the author gets her first Twitter follower. The sales and marketing cycle never ends.

In the old way of doing things, authors would go on book tour and get in front of readers for a set period of time and then likely wouldn’t be heard from much again until the next book. Today, authors — the marketing-savvy ones — are always communicating with their audience, building and cultivating it.

Why?

People like being a part of the writer’s life, of the writing and publishing process, according to Amanda Barbara, development director of PubSlush, a crowd-funding platform for books. Essentially, an author who maintains contact with her audience keeps them primed for new releases, new free content, new development, back-list sales pushes and more.

4. Know your rights. 

Copyright is complicated. You can’t copyright an idea but you can copyright the expression of that idea. You can copyright a book, but not a book title. When you create a work, it automatically gets a copyright attached to it and here’s what that allows you to do:

– Reproduce the work
– Prepare derivative works
– Distribute the work
– Perform the work
– Display the work

Copyrights last the life of the author plus 70 years.

5. Be open-minded. 

This wasn’t a tip that I heard at the show but it’s one I think is important. The publishing landscape is shifting and today it might be better for you to self-publish. Tomorrow it might be advantageous for you to take a publishing deal with an established publisher. And next week it might be better for you to do something in between.

What you should do may also depend on what kind of book you are publishing, what else you do for a living, what your goals are when publishing and so many more variables. So, keep an open mind when it comes to publishing decisions.

Beware of people who tell you that it’s absolutely wrong to use one self-publishing service or another; or someone who tells you you can’t do it without an established publisher; or that you shouldn’t do it with one.

The publishing landscape is shifting and today it might be better for you to self-publish. Tomorrow it might be advantageous for you to take a publishing deal with an established publisher. And next week it might be better for you to do something in between.

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Author Solutions, authors, book marketing, Ebooks, Editing, Indie book publishing, self publishing, writing

4 great tips for every writer from Guy Kawasaki

Guy Kawasaki speaking at the San Francisco Writers Conference,

Guy Kawasaki speaking at the San Francisco Writers Conference,

In my last post, I mentioned my attendance again this year at the San Francisco Writer’s conference, which took place back in February. One of the keynote addresses at the conference was given by Guy Kawasaki. Guy has published a dozen books using both traditional publishers and by self-publishing. He most recently self-published a book titled, APE, Author, Publisher, Entrepeneur. As he was researching the book, I had conversations with him about the services offered by Author Solutions  and other topics related to self-publishing.  I had never met him till the conference, but in our conversations I always found him to be a very reasonable and insightful person. His keynote only reinforced my opinion. He shared ten tips for authors today. With his permission, I am sharing a few with you in this post and in a  post to come.

  1. Write for the right reasons-According to Guy, writing for money is the wrong reason. Money is a consequence of writing a good book, but it should not be the primary motivation. He suggested there are others, such as enriching people’s lives, furtherng a cause or meeting an intellectual challenge. Could not agree more.
  2. Write everyday-I thought this was interesting challenge, but his point was writing is a skill and the more you practice  it, the better you get at it.  For a busy person, this can be hard to do, but it is a worthy goal.
  3. Build your marketing platform-This is not a new thought. Many have said it, but I thought he had some insights that bear repeating. The first point he made is you should build a platform so that you can “earn the right” to share your book with potential readers. That means you have to give to your audience before you ask them to buy your book.  One of the best ways to do that is “curate” content about the topic your potential book buyers are interested in.  Become a “sector expert” as Guy suggests, offering content that is of interest to your readers. In other words, become the go-t0 person for a particular topic.
  4. Tap the crowd-Seth Godin called this building a tribe, but it is the same idea. Use social media to build a following long before you publish your book. Use them for input on your title and your cover and even as beta readers. Their input will likely improve your book and give you a base of potential customers. Writing is a solo sport, but publishing should be a group activity.

Writing is a solo sport, but publishing should be a group activity.

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