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April 2011

Creating Book Reviews - Some Dos and Don'ts

Although there has been a steady decline in print readership, there are still millions of potential book buyers out there who turn to the book review pages in their local  newspapers to see what interests them. Thousands of people in the book industry also study book reviews and book listings in newspapers and magazines. Thus, book reviews and book reviewers can have a tremendous impact on publishers and writers.

Although much of the available review space gets gobbled up by celebrities with virtually guaranteed bestsellers, not-so-well-known authors can get a fair share of publicity if they astutely organize their promotional efforts.  If you are thinking about pursuing book reviews for your book, here are a few ideas you might like to consider.

1. You will probably become very frustrated pursuing the likes of The New York Times, Publishers Weekly and other prestigious mass-circulation review media. Go after less-in-demand sources.

2. Look for review media whose editorial interests most closely match with your book's subject matter.

3. Review space or electronic media time should not cost you a cent. However, be aware that ad sales departments may attempt to convince you to place an advertisement. Be aware that any review medium with credibility does not decide which titles it will critique on the basis of an advertising commitment.

4. Don't ever refuse to provide a review copy if the request seems valid.

5. Don't think a magazine or newspaper is unsuitable because it doesn't run formal book reviews. Many have sections that tell of newsy items or new products of interest to their readers. These mentions can be golden. So can ones in newsletters.

6. The Internet offers another approach to book reviews. If you are seeking to send out numerous review copies, it may be cost prohibitive to send everyone print copies of your book. The practice of sending a digital review copies of a book or of selected chapters to  book reviewers is becoming a more common practice. And with the increasing use of ebook readers, digital review copies are becoming more accepted and even wanted.

Of course, book reviews are just the tip of the book marketing iceberg. Some of the other ways to get your book  noticed include author interviews or profiles that compel readers to buy books, as they lend a personal angle to a writer's story. In future posts, we will explore how the use of offering enticing samples taken from a book as well as how write-ups such as op-ed essays can draw attention to your written works in much the same manner as formal book reviews.

[This post was created, with permission, from excerpts taken from The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing, 5th edition, co-authored by Marilyn Ross and Sue Collier.]

Promoting Your Book Through Non-Traditional Book Markets

What do we mean by "non-traditional book markets?" In an earlier post, we mentioned an example of a book about organic fertilizers. While relatively few bookstore customers would probably be interested in this narrow subject, nearly all of the customers of a tree nursery or gardening center could be potential readers. By selling this book through nurseries, you have just experienced a non-traditional book market.

Here are some other things to consider regarding non-traditional markets:

  1. Non-traditional markets will probably accept smaller discounts (20% to 30% to start), will pay faster, and return fewer (if any) unsold books. As a starting point, offer to provide a dozen copies on consignment. If they sell relatively quickly, offer two dozen more at a bigger discount, COD. Then check back periodically to make sure they have enough stock.
  2. Additional non-traditional markets to pursue include live events held at libraries, schools, churches and other public locations. And don't forget potential bulk sales to businesses and other institutions that focus on related topics.
  3. Don't be shy about offering your book to people you know personally, especially those named in the acknowledgements. Church groups, trade associations, social clubs, civic groups, fraternities, alumn associations and other organizations with which you are affiliated are also good prospects. Contact all of them.
  4. At live events, readers often pay full price for books, usually in cash, and of course there are no shipping or handling charges. This compared to traditional book trade outlets, which often "require" 50% below cover price. And, when possible, turn these live events into book signing events.
  5. If your book gives positive treatment to a product, service, company or other institution, offer them copies, and ask them to help promote your book. For example, if your book is about investing, talk to banks, stock brokerages and other financial institutions that might want copies for their customers as a gift or premium.

As a self-publishing author, you have an opportunity to take advantage of specialty book markets. Use your intimate understanding of your audience to identify what and where these markets are, and make you book available to them. You may discover that promoting your book through these non-traditional markets to be a successful book marketing strategy.

[This post was created, with permission, from excerpts taken from U-Publish.com 5.0, co-authored by Dan Poynter and Danny O. Snow.]

Ten Great Ways Twitter Can Help You Promote Your Book

By guest author Dana Lynn Smith.

Twitter is a great way to promote a book while you build your networks and reputation. Here are ten ways authors can harness the power of Twitter to promote their books.

  1. Help others by sharing information, while you gain a reputation as an expert. You can post links to helpful articles, recommend resources, offer tips and discuss other books that you enjoy.
  2. Meet potential customers and stay in touch with existing customers. Promote your Twitter URL everywhere you're listed online, and include keywords in your tweets to attract followers who are interested in your topic or genre.
  3. Stay on top of news and trends in your field or genre, and get ideas for your articles and blog by reading the tweets of the people you follow.
  4. Promote live and virtual events such as book signings, podcasts, virtual book tours, teleseminars and book launches.
  5. Gain visibility and new followers by hosting a Twitter contest where you give away a prize to a randomly chosen winner.
  6. Ask for help and get instant responses - things like feedback on your book title, cover design or website. It's amazing how helpful folks are.
  7. Spread goodwill by helping your peers. Introduce people to one another, recommend other related books, or re-tweet interesting posts from people you follow.
  8. Promote your book, but be subtle. Make promotional tweets a small percentage (10-20 percent) of your overall communications so that people feel they gain value from following you.
  9. Meet other authors, experts, publishers, marketers and vendors. Twitter is ideal for networking, and it's a great place to learn about the publishing industry and meet those you might promote your book.
  10. Keep in touch when you're on the road. Use your mobile devices.

Most importantly, have fun. It's fascinating to meet people from all over the world while you promote you book.

[Dana Lynn Smith is a nationally recognized book marketing coach and author of The Savvy Book Marketing Guide.]

What Makes A Great Book Title?

The number one rule in creating a book title is this: Your title should be easy to remember and easy to say. In a great book title, the words should relate well to each other. A short title has fewer words a customer can get wrong.

For example, take a look at the top ten best selling books for 2010 as reported in the New York Times. The list includes Freedom by Johathan Franzen, Finishing the Hat by Stephen Sondhiem, and The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. When you look at all ten titles, the average number of words per title is three.

Here are some other things to consider.

  • Books-in-Print uses a 92-charactorer computer field. Ingram, the big book wholesaler, uses a 30-character field. Try to make your title and subtitle tell the whole story in 30 characters.
  • Books-in-Print lists all currently available books by title, author and subject, but most directories list only by title. If you start your title with the keyword, your book listing will be easier to find. For example, if your book is on how to win political elections, try to start with the keyword "election." Then your book will be listed along side other election books.

Your book's subtitle may be longer and should be more descriptive. But together, the title and subtitle should leave no doubt what your book is about. The bottom line? Make your title specific, familiar and short.

The number two rule in creating a book title is: Beware of working titles. Working titles are dangerous. They can become too familiar to the writer, while being misleading or meaningless to potential customers. Remember that a working title is for the manuscript, not necessarily for the book.

[This post was created from excerpts taken from Successful Nonfiction by Dan Poynter.]