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I want to thank Mayra for having me at The Dark Phantom  today as part of Pump Up Your Book’s 5th Anniversary!  Today I’d like to talk about virtual book tours, or blog tours, as a vehicle to sell your book. 

It seems to be the million dollar question and that’s why I chose this topic today to talk about.  I am here to settle this question once and for all and explain just what blog tours can do for your book. 

Most authors when they sign up with us are aware of blog tours.  They’re everywhere.  Some authors are setting up their own tours and some authors who aren’t Internet or promotion savvy come to us.  They are the ones who I feel need blog tours more than anyone else. 

A blog tour is a vehicle really not to sell your book exclusively, but is mainly to sell YOU.  A blog tour will get your book into the eyes of thousands.  Whether they buy or not depends on a few things. 

Is this your first book?  Debut authors have it the hardest.  It’s usually not until the 2nd or 3rd that their career really takes off.  That’s not to say you can’t be a one book wonder, but it just seems the authors with more books under their belt do better. 

Have you already established your author platform before your book comes out?  Most authors who already have an established email list and have been writing articles about their book’s subject are the ones who will see a difference in sales. 

Are you in the social networks to sell your book or are you in there to help or to get help?  People can pick you out in a second if your book is your main reason you are there. 

Selling your book can be infuriating, exhausting and downright crazy but a blog tour can give you focus.  Even though it is a lot of work, building up your presence in the search engines and getting your book into the public’s eye should be your main focus.  If you watch your sales  constantly and there are no sales, you start to wonder what in the heck you are doing wrong and why you went through so much trouble. 

The key here is exposure and whether you think that doesn’t amount to diddly squat as opposed to seeing those book sales, that’s where you’re wrong. 

After my romance anthology, Romancing the Soul, came out, I established myself as a relationship expert.  I had no real credentials other than the fact relationship help was dear to my heart and I felt I was darn good at it.  To this day, I still have people emailing me with their problems.  

I set up a professional website and started building my contact list.  I began writing articles to make my author platform more solid.  They say blog tours are exhausting, that’s nothing compared to the work I put in establishing myself in the search engines for my key search words. 

I gave my advice away for free, too.  Anyone with problems concerning relationships got my answer right away.  Where there were other relationship experts charging for the same thing I was doing, I didn’t want to do that.  I wanted to give freely for I knew this was only strengthening my whole author platform and you can’t put a dollar amount on that.  

I wrote articles until my fingers fell off.  I was interviewed by blog owners plus radio.  But the one thing I did which I felt helped my author platform more than anything else was the key word positioning. It was then that the editor of the supermarket tabloid, OK! Magazine, found me in the search engines, called me up and asked me a few questions about the Jennifer Aniston and whoever-she-was-dating-at-the-time relationship.  Whammo bammo, my quote appeared in that week’s issue and I owe it to building up my author platform and positioning my key search words in the search engines. 

So now we come back to the million dollar question: do blog tours sell books?  If you reread what I just wrote, what I did was very similar to a blog tour.  The only difference was that it wasn’t on a set schedule.  But, to this day, people are still finding out about me.  If I walked away from relationship help, it would follow me wherever I went  because I had positioned my key search words permanently in the search engines.  My old website I was using?  It’s sitting there.  I’m not updating it or anything so these people are finding me somehow and I have every reason to believe they are putting certain search words into the search engines and that’s how they find me. 

With a blog tour, you are building up your author platform, no ifs ands or buts.  People say the only thing that influences readers to buy books are reviews and that the interviews and guest posts aren’t making people buy their book.  After all, it’s supposed to be all about the book, right? 

Yes and no.  If the author continues to write books similar in theme to their first book, it can be all about the book.  If the author is trying to sell a debut book, then I would fully recommend building up that author platform.  They may not get a book sale based on this or they could sell by the truckload.  It just depends on how much time the author invests in their career. 

Back to blog tours again.   If the author is not Internet savvy and if the author does not have a good presence in the  search engines, a blog tour will definitely do the trick.  Will the author’s main goal be to sell books or does the author understand how using blog tours to build up their author platform can sell books down the road or lead them to other great things? 

You can’t go into a blog tour thinking you’re going to sell books by the truckload.  You can go into a blog tour counting on the fact that your book is presented to thousands of prospective readers, buyers, publishers, agents, movie producers, and yes even editors of supermarket tabloids. 

I hope this cleared up any misconceptions you have about blog tours.  If you are an author who has the time and the know how to set up a tour for your own book, that is definitely the way to go.  You save money that way.  

If you are an author who needs help setting up a tour, knows their way around the Internet, is social network savvy and has the contacts with the bloggers that have been carefully screened, then you enlist the help of a blog tour service such as us. 

To celebrate five years of publicizing books online, Pump Up Your Book will be stopping off at wonderful blogs throughout the month of April so that you can hear more of what we do and our viewpoints on Internet promotions and blog tours.  There are prizes along the way so be  sure to check out http://www.pumpupyourbook.com/2012/04/01/pump-up-your-book-5th-year-anniversary-celebration/ to find out how you can win.  

Now the good news is that we are giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Card here at The Dark Phantom!  Give us the best book promotion tip you can think of and leave it in the comment section.  If you are a book blogger and not an author, tell us the best way you know to get traffic to your site.  You must leave your email address with your comment or there’s no way for us to get in touch with you.  This contest will end on April 27 and the winner will be announced on our tour page (link above) on April 30.  This is an international contest and good luck! 

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As a national book publicist professional with years of measurable success in book marketing, book promotion and publicity I have developed a  tested, comprehensive plan to launch a book that has spelt success for my range of  author and publisher clients. The following book marketing, book promotion and book publicity tips represent what I have developed as a good, solid, general plan to create “buzz” about a new book and generate sales. Authors and publishers need to adhere to a plan such as this as they seek and develop a strategy to launch a book marketing/book media outreach/book publicity plan for their published works.  To me, no worthwhile, effective and basic PR plan such as this one can be successful without these book marketing and PR tips: 

  • Develop, prepare and write a media-friendly, dedicated two-page press release for the book you are marketing that is colorful, engaging, gets the media’s attention and, most importantly,  tells a story.
  • Virtual Author Tour: a global on line book marketing tour on the Net targeting social bloggers, forums and affiliate programs that will generates interest in your book
  • Presence for the book on Facebook, Twitter, Google and other social media web destinations.
  • Professionally photographed photos of the author for media and web site use.
  • Distribution of the press release to all relevant  book reviewers and feature profile writers print, radio/TV and online medias from Publishers Weekly to The NY Times to USA Today to the Today show to Google News, Yahoo, Twitter, Facebook and others.  Using a good online news release distribution service like prlog.org (www.prlog.org) or PRWEB.COM too is crucial in getting maximum media and reader exposure for the press release.
  • Book store signings and other select and appropriate venues where a book and its author can be introduced to a live audience of 20 to 200 or more.
  • Author speaker events from panel discussion groups at book festivals to local relevent groups that can give support for marketing a book.
  •  National, regional, local and Net radio interviews to sell a book are a must and no book PR campaign can be successful without radio.
  • Television show bookings from local stations to national shows (for example, The View to C-Span Weekend Books to PBS” Book Mark to PBS’ Between the Pages as well as Today, Good Morning America, the Own network and others).
  • Book authors may write articles or papers on any given subject relative to his or her book that can be brokered to the print and digital media (newspapers, magazines, on line pieces).
  • An introduction of a book to a select national book club to seek reviews
  • Book authors should place their book’s web site address within their e-mail signature as another way to publicize their published works.
  • Media training should be conducted with most authors publicizing a book.  This can be done with mock interviews for TV, radio, print and digital medias.
  • “Rave” book reviews should be placed on an author’s web site and used to update the original press release on a regular basis to keep it fresh and appealing.
  • Electronic broadcast (radio, TV) interview clips can also be placed on an author’s web site as another content marketing tool.
  • Dedicated web site for a book: every author needs his own dedicated web site, whether it is a start-up web page or an intricate, sophisticated site.  The website should feature his or her biography, photos for media downloading, an outline of their book titles as well as radio clips, print reviews and video of TV guestings, events that can be listened to and viewed.
  • Authors need to keep their web sites fresh and attractive, updated. Dated content on any book web site is a sure way to keep visitors moving on. Blogs can work very well for an author who wants to expand the awareness of themselves and their published works.  

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Well known, experienced, professional Hollywood book, TV and movie publicist Charlie Barrett formed The Barrett Company in 1991 as a full service publicity and media relations agency to serve books/authors/publishers, television and motion picture industry clients. TheLos Angelesheadquartered publicity firm offers 21st century publicity and media relations services to celebrities, authors, actors, directors, screen writers, filmmakers as well as film and television producers.

Charlie’s author clients have include LA author-screenwriter Carla Malden, author of Afterimage, Kindle’s John Locke/Lethal People, Julie Sinatra/Under my Skin, Warren Adler/War of the Roses, David R. Fett MD and Steve Langford/White Sleeper, Deby Eisenberg/Pictures of the Past, Marty Jurow/See’in Stars: A Show Biz Odyssey, actor George Kennedy/Trust Me, Peter Ford/Glenn Ford: A Life and Dr. Ken Nedd/Power Over Stress as well as many, many others.

Since it’s inception, TBC has served as publicists to such companies and celebrities as CBS, Simon & Schuster, ABC, Globe Pequot Press, Harper Collins publishers, Norton publishers, Paramount studios, Oxford University Press, PBS, Warner Brothers, American Movie Classics cable channel (Mad Men), Bravo, Life Time Television, NYU Press, Ben Bella Books, Fox Television Network, Little Brown publishers, Fox News, CNN, self-published author service firms such as Xlibris, Author House and i-Universe as well as numerous celebrities from Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon to Kevin Costner, Tatum O’Neal, Tim Curry, Martin Landau, Robert Stack, Rod Stewart, Gary Conway, Oprah Winfrey (Oprah’s Big Give television series on ABC) and numerous other stars.

Mr. Barrett started up The Barrett Company publicity firm after serving in top PR positions with the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) for more than ten years, where he was in charge of media relations for Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show and Today, among other well-known NBC shows such as Unsolved Mysteries, Fame and numerous highly-rated NBC specials, including The American Film Institute Awards and The American Movie Awards.

When earlier basing inNew York City, Mr. Barrett served as a book publicist to many major publishers with publicity campaigns for a number of best-selling authors from large trade book publishers from Scribners to Random House.

Mr. Barrett has also held executive media relations posts with 20th Century Fox Film Corporation inNew Yorkand Capitol Records inHollywood,New YorkandLondon, where he helped launch recorded music by The Beatles, The Band and many other music artists including Joe South, Freda Payne, Bobbie Gentry and Glen Campbell.

You can visit his website at www.thebarrettco.com.  Visit them on Twitter at www.twitter.com/thebarrettco.

~ ~ ~ GIVEAWAY ~ ~ ~
Pump Up Your Book and The Barrett Company are teaming up to give you a chance to win a Kindle Fire!
Click on the button below to enter!

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Frugal and Focused Tweeting for Retailers isn’t only for retailers. I requested a review copy because, as an author, I’m always on the lookout for new ways to promote and market my books. I have to say, I was not disappointed with Johnson’s book.

In an engaging style and simple, straightforward language, the author explains what Twitter is all about, and how to use it effectively in a marketing campaign. There are hundreds of Twitter applications out there, and the whole thing can get pretty confusing, especially for a beginner, so what is most helpful about this book is that the author separates the essential ones from the ones that should be avoided.

From the basics of how to set up an account, to how to integrate Twitter into your other social media, to building your list of followers, to attracting new followers, to much, much more, Frugal and Focused Tweeting for Retailers will take your Twitter marketing efforts to the next stage.

The book also includes sample Tweets and critiques, a list of applications (those that work and those that should be avoided), as well as a glossary of important technical Twitter terms.

I would recommend this book to authors who are new to Twitter, and also to those authors who, like myself, are familiar with the basics but would like to take their tweeting to a higher, more focused and effective level. If you don’t quite ‘get’ what Twitter is all about, your doubts will be clarified after reading this little crash course on the art of tweeting.

Find out more from Amazon.

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Some authors and writers are not the best self promoters. We are at times the quiet types, deep thinking introverts who have a hard time with small talk. But put us in a room alone in front of a computer or leave us in the mountains or on a secluded beach with paper and a pen, and magic happens. We can become the most obnoxious, outgoing, lovable characters ever written.

Oh, the joy and mystery of being a writer…

Telling people you meet, that you are an author is usually not enough to get them to run out and buy your book. On the contrary, the more common response is a variation of, “You’re a writer? Oh… you should write my life story! You wouldn’t believe everything I’ve been through! It’d make a great book… or movie!”
Not wanting to sound entirely uninterested, I usually respond with, “Why don’t you write it?”

If you have a story to tell, tell it… then promote it.

Part of the challenge of self promoting is going back and forth using the right side of your brain to the left, going from being lost in your story to suddenly doing business and promoting your work. Sometimes we need help.

I’ve just started doing more internet-type marketing and it is a very good fit for me. I’ve joined Facebook and Twitter. I’ve started blogging and sending out newsletters to my readers. And I’ve updated my website with my book trailers. Since I’ve made this shift, I’ve noticed much more activity, more book sales and a lot more readers responding to my work. I am so thankful for my dedicated readers and their comments—they are the inspiration to my new marketing strategy.

The key is to find what works for you. By trial and error, I have found it best to pick the top five most enjoyable ways to promote, and then go for it. If you are outgoing and good at sales, do book signings and speaking events. If you love to give interviews, get your press kit together and call up the media. If you have the money and you want help, hire somebody to help you. But find out what part of promotion you love and get it done. Whatever feels right to you is going to work for you.

List your top five most enjoyable ways to promote… then promote!

Becky Due, like the main characters of her novels, spent many years running from herself, looking for love, crying a little and laughing a lot along the journey of finding herself. Through writing, Due found her passion. She is the author of several books and is currently working on her next novel.
Happily married she and Scott live in Colorado, Florida and Alberta, Canada with their two “kids” Buddy the Cat and Shorty the Pug.

Becky has been a guest on national radio programs and has been the subject of numerous newspaper and national magazine articles for empowering women through her novels. She has served as a guest speaker at Women’s Resource Centers, Shelters, Colleges and High Schools within the United States. Becky has had extensive training at Victim Services, worked the 24-Hour Sexual Assault Crisis-Line and was a Victim’s Advocate where she offered one-on-one assistance and support to rape victims. In 2007, Becky started, Women Going Forward, the first national women’s telephone support group, which ran for almost two years. After receiving much recognition for her novels, Becky’s focus turned back to her writing and empowering women through her novels.

Becky’s latest book is a supsense novel titled Returning Injury: A Suspense Chelebrating Women’s Strength. You can visit her website at www.beckydue.com.

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carol.thumbnailCarolyn Howard-Johnson is an award-winning author and poet, a columnist for MyShelf.com, and an instructor for the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. Her books include the popular titles The Frugal Promoter and The Frugal Editor, both USA Book News’ Award winners. She’s also the editor of Sharing With Writers and Readers newsletter. In this interview, she talks about her books, book promotion, the future of ebooks and print on demand technology, and offers some advice to aspiring authors.

Tell us a bit about yourself. When did you start writing?

I started writing seriously when I was chosen for my high school’s newspaper staff. I mostly wanted to be a part of it because the cutest boys in school (the ones we called the ivy-leaguers) were on that staff. But it turned out that my teacher thought I had talent for journalism. It turned out that others did, too. One of those young men is still a friend and has written several books and screenplays. And it turned out that I had a love for writing, too. Writing in the clear, organized journalistic style was like putting together a puzzle with words.

What type of books do you enjoy writing?

Truly, my first loves are my fiction, memoir and poetry. But I also get a real charge out of writing how-to books that will help others. I’d love it if your readers would look some of my creative work up, though. Many are award winners and they do tend to get shuffled aside in favor of my successful HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers.

This series seem to be popular with authors. What prompted you to write these books and what sets them apart from other similar titles on the market?

I started with The Frugal Book Promoter. I had fallen into so many marketing potholes (some that cost a lot of money!), and I wanted to help other writers avoid doing that. I figured that if I had those troubles with my marketing background, the average creative author with no experience in publicity or marketing or promotion would really be in dire straits. I also needed that sort of a text for the first class I taught at UCLA so I wrote it myself!

BTW, everything in that book is something I did myself. That makes it very, very practical, full of nitty-gritty how tos and lots of resources. I followed that successful model with the others.

Tell us about your newsletter, “Sharing with Writers and Readers”.

I started that newsletter in my search for the perfect promotion campaign for a writer. I resisted a long time because of the work involved but I’m a great recycler and finally figured out how to put out a letter that had the same practical qualities as my books and I share those secrets in The Frugal Book Promoter. I also strongly recommend having a newsletter. Newsletters are great for building loyalty—for both fiction and nonfiction writers.

Your readers who would like to subscribe may send me a request at HoJoNews @ aol.com. Put SUBSCRIBE in the subject line and I’ll take care of it for them.

Virtual book tours and book trailers are extremely popular at the moment. Are they overly hyped, or are they really great tools of promotion?

Well, we’ve all known for a long time that picture is worth a thousand words. So yes, the visual aspect of promoting is important. The trouble is, the competition with these vehicles is steep and so many authors haven’t perfected their speaking and on-camera skills. And it’s really, really hard to make a presentable trailer. One should choose what fits one’s book, one’s pocketbook and one’s personality when mapping out a promotion campaign. I did it all, but no one else needs to. I fell into those potholes for them. Your readers can see a natural how-to video of me at my Writer’s Digest 101 Best Website blog, www.sharignwithwriters.blogspot.com . It was professionally filmed and, I think, that word “natural” is important. Not elaborate. Just doing what you do. (-:

How do you see the future of electronic and print-on-demand books?

It is growing and the future is huge. Digital is rife with new models that suit all kinds of different books for different niches. Aaron Shephard wrote an interesting book called Aiming at Amazon that tells a writer how to skip all the bookstore hullabaloo and concentrate on online sales.

And here’s the thing. We as authors are in fact retailers. We are selling books. We want to offer our books to readers the way they want to read them, not the way we think they should. Both The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success and The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won’t are available for Kindle and The Frugal Book Promoter is available as a plain old e-book at StarPublishllc.com. I’m working on some other formats now.

What, in your opinion, is the most effective tool of book promotion?

Speaking and teaching by far. That skill carries over to the ability to use TV and radio well. And those videos and trailer you asked about, too. You can learn to do it. Yes, you can!

Do you have a website and blog where readers can find out more about you and your books?

Writers can find lots of lists and other resources on my www.howtodoitfrugally.com Web site, as well as lots about all the stuff I do, including travel and poetry. Here are some blogs that are sure to benefit your readers, too:

Blogs for Writers:
http://www.SharingWithWriters.blogspot.com
http://TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com
http://www.SizzlingBookFairBooths.blogspot.com
http://www.TheFrugalEditor.blogspot.com

It’s a little off the subject but I also blog on War. Peace. Tolerance and Our Soldiers at: http://warpeacetolerance.blogspot.com . That’s because my grandson has done two stints in Iraq and I believe our troops desperately need our support, no matter how one feels about the wars we are in.

What is the best writing advice you would give an aspiring author?

I really think authors should not rely completely on the Web for their education in writing. Take some good classes offered by reputable universities who vet their instructors. Oh, yeah. My favorite. Persistence.

Thanks for the interview, Carolyn!

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Interview by Penny Sansevieri

Each year we get a lot of questions about Book Expo (BEA). Authors and publishers are wondering if they should go, how they will benefit from it and most importantly, how best to maximize BEA. This year I decided to ask AME’s Publishing Consultant, Jerry D. Simmons for his take on BEA. Having spent countless hours at this event, I thought he would be a perfect candidate to share some valuable insight on this big publishing event!

1) For those who are reading this who don’t know what BEA is, can you explain what it is?

Book Expo America is the annual showcase for the largest publishers in the world. It’s a place where companies rent booth space to display their goods and services. The convention hall includes publishers and related businesses, both large and small, which offer products and services to industry professionals directly or indirectly related to the industry.

2) Someone reading this might wonder, why would I attend BEA? Do you think it benefits anyone in publishing to go to an event like this and if so, why?

If you’ve never attended, it is fun to attend at least once just to get a feel for what the bigger world of publishing is all about. Depending on your particular situation either as an author or business person, it is the one place where all related companies gather to display their offerings so if you want to see what the industry is all about and how you or your business might fit, it’s worth the visit. Book Expo can be as much or as little as you want out of it, but if you derive your revenue from books, publishing, or anything related, you should attend at least once.

3) Can you explain the setup of BEA? It seems that the big 6 New York publishers are always taking center stage of this event, is that true? Is it a case of “whoever can throw the most money at this event gets the biggest booth?” Or is BEA generally a primary focus of corporate publishing?

BEA is focused around the six big publishers, no doubt, without them the BEA would hold little relevance to the general public. As it stands today, the media is interested simply because of the celebrity authors and future bestsellers that are on display. Each of these big companies may spend well in excess of $1 million on this show so it is a big deal for them and they spend a lot of time in New York preparing.

Booth placement is key for this show and the sponsors do the best they can to make everyone happy. Size of the booth is indicative of how much money the sponsors are receiving from the big publishers. Having attended more than 20, I would have to say that the BEA as it now stands is as much representative of corporate publishing as anything else.

4) So, let’s say I’m a small publisher looking for more exposure for my books. How would I strategize BEA to my best advantage?

For small publishers BEA becomes a necessity to attract the kind of attention it takes to build your business and sell books. If you are small and do not attend, then industry wide you are not seen as a “player” in the publishing business. The best way to strategize if you are a small publisher is to make sure your booth reflects who you are or who you want to be as a publisher. You have to promote your company to the industry, such as agents, authors, and other publishers. It’s important for you to put forth the perception that you publish quality product and are serious about your own development as a company. The BEA is the place where you have an opportunity to capture the attention of the bigger players regardless of their area of expertise. This is especially true if your books rarely get reviewed in the traditional media and if you are not based in Manhattan.

5) As a small publisher, what’s my best plan of attack? How should I prepare for this event?

The first thing you have to do is make sure you have developed an image you want to portray to the industry. If your focus is quality fiction then you need to have large images of your covers, with free and review copies available, and complete marketing plans, including promotion, publicity and advertising. You have to mimic what the big publishers are doing which gives the impression you can compete even if you are on a smaller scale.

6) I’m a vendor looking to acquire more business. Let’s say I’m a publicist or marketing person – why would I want to go to this event and how could it benefit me?

The first thing I would do is walk the halls and get the lay of the land, in other words, determine where the big publishers are located and what all the other booths are about. It’s one thing to read the BEA catalog or read Publishers Weekly for the convention layout, it’s quite another to walk the hall to see for yourself what each of these businesses are all about. The employees of all the big companies constantly walk the halls looking at their competition, and not just the big publisher booths, but the entire hall.

As a vendor trying to acquire more business, I’d gather as much free information in the form of handouts as you can possible carry, including catalogs from everyone. I would also gather as many business cards as you can and shake hands and speak with as many people as you can meet. Then at night in your hotel pour over all of this information looking for opportunities. I’d pick up as much competitive information as possible and then use this information in acquiring more business.

7) As an author, how could BEA impact my career? How could BEA help me?

Depending on where you are in your writing career attending a BEA for the first time should open your eyes to the possibilities. The books you see from the biggest publishers could easily have been written by you, it’s all about understanding the market, positioning your manuscript, having knowledge of what the big guys are looking for, how they purchase rights to publish books, and then knowing how to market yourself as an author. As you walk the hall you will get a sense of just how big the industry, how serious you need to approach your writing, and how extremely important it is to know how the business operates. The authors of the books you see in the catalogs of the big publishers are no more talented than you, but they know something about the business and how to market themselves and their writing. If you’re serious about a career as a writer, you can learn what you need to know to be successful by keeping your eyes open and developing your plan.

8) As someone who’s attended many of these events, what are some insider tips you can share about event networking and attracting new business at an event of this magnitude?

The idea that you can walk into any booth and make a cold call on an editor, publisher or any business and accomplish something is the easiest way to be seen as an amateur. When that happens, no one will take you seriously. The BEA is not the place to try and transact business; it’s the place to meet people that will hopefully allow you to transact business in the future. The only way for anything to get accomplished at BEA is to have established some contact prior to the show and then set an appointment to meet during the show. That is the only way. Dropping in on people and sticking your hand out with a business card is the quickest way to ruin what reputation you might have established.

9) Many people say that “deals are made at Book Expo” but is that true, are there deals made on the event floor?

The biggest deals the largest publishers make is international rights transactions. I can’t say that deals are never done on the floor, but if there are, then BEA is the end point, not the beginning. Discussions are held that lead to business being conducted, but rarely do agents and authors, service and product vendors initiate contact at BEA that result in business being conducted at that moment. The atmosphere is more festive and most executives hate to have serious discussions on the floor. BEA is the place for introductions, exchanging of information, but not serious business.

10) As a service provider, publisher, or author – what are some things to look for in book placement, catalog placement, or promotional pieces that might clue me into new trends, or vendors one might want to connect with.

First of all depending on the product or service you provide, you need to scope out the competition. Who else is offering the same and how are they presenting themselves to the public? This is very important. If you are looking for opportunities from publishers’ catalogs, look for books that are similar to ones you have worked on in the past. Particularly check out the marketing of these titles and make a mental note on those which you have something to offer that is new and exciting for the publisher.

If you are a small publisher again, take note of the competition. Publishing is about perception; compare your presentation to your competitive publishers. Does your catalog compare? What about your marketing plans? Prices? Page counts? What are they doing differently? The goal is to figure out how to compete effectively.

As an author, there are tons of free and review copies available on the floor of the big publishers at all times, these are the titles they are heavily promoting. Pick them up and read them, this is what is selling today, compare the story, not the writing and pay attention to what publishers are doing to promote their books. Regardless of how you publish, there are plenty of marketing ideas floating around, right in front of your eyes, pay attention because chances are you can take those ideas back home and use them.

11) What type of information gathering do you recommend someone does prior to the event? What’s the best way to prepare for Book Expo?

Remember, the BEA is not the place to transact business; it’s the place to meet people who you can eventually do business with. It’s okay to have a plan of how you want to tour the hall, especially if your time is limited. But the best preparation is hunting and gathering as I’ve discussed before. The BEA has plenty of information to share, take advantage of the free offering in one location, and it happens only once per year.

The best way to prepare for a BEA is REST! Attending a BEA can be exhausting, go in with your eyes open and don’t let the show overwhelm you. It can be daunting to walk in and see all the huge displays and walk away feeling like you’re lost. This is the place to see what’s going on in the world of publishing. I tell my clients that the bookstore is their laboratory, where they can find out what’s being published and how books are being marketed. If the bookstore is your lab, the BEA is the PhD program for students of the business. There is a lot to learn and much you can gather at a BEA.

As a final note, let me share with you what the independent bookstores around the country are looking for when they attend BEA. There are searching for non-book product that is compatible with their store and shows promise of selling. They are not looking for books. Yes of course they drop by the big publishers’ booths and visit but they rarely make appointments. If they do, they typically are promoting their stores to the publicity department asking for more author events. For those book professionals BEA is not all about the books, but the industry as a whole.

Jerry D. Simmons is a Publishing Consultant with 25 years experience with corporate publishing. He’s worked on such bestselling titles as: Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Scarlett, Bridges of Madison County and thousands of others. Jerry consults with publishers seeking to expand their line, increase their revenue, or maximize their sales potential. He consults with authors on marketing and publishing possibilities and, together with Author Marketing Experts, Inc. has recently launched a book management service that will guide authors step-by-step through the publishing process. Jerry will be teaching a series of free teleclasses: Successful Publishing is More Than Just Publishing the Right Books. FMI on this call and planned dates, please email us at: info@amarketingexpert.com. Jerry can be reached via email at jerry@writersreaders.com.

You can get more information on heading to BEA by visiting their web site at: http://www.bookexpoamerica.com/. It’s being held in Los Angeles this year: May 30, 31 and ends on June 1.

Reprinted from “The Book Marketing Expert newsletter,” a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques. http://www.amarketingexpert.com

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Welcome to The Dark Phantom Review! It’s nice to have you here.

Why don’t you start by telling us a bit about your book, and what inspired you to write such a story?

Hi Mayra,

Thank you for inviting me to share your blog space and your readers. Part of the reason for my writing Small Town Secrets is the dynamics of small towns where I have lived. Each one is different, yet the same. Everyone knows everyone so when anything happens to one person it affects the mesh of the whole town.

Sometimes, someone’s past comes back to haunt them. Sometimes the gossip mongers dredge the sludge to come up with something to try to ruin, or at least make life miserable, for someone they have a grudge against for whatever reason. I had some composite characters running around in my head from all the places I’ve lived – plus a set of twins who I promised to put into one of my novels. As luck would have it one day NaNoWriMo [National Novel Writing Month] came along and I needed a story to write – so I began to put these characters on the page—Small Town Secrets is the result. I think the story was writing itself in my mind much longer than just that brief month of frantic writing though.

How would you describe your creative process while writing this novel? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline? How long did it take you to write it?

For Small Town Secrets as with all of my work so far — I start out with in depth character sketches. By the time I have the sketches done for the main characters the plot is strong and has an end goal. I do the character sketches before the NaNoWriMo so I will have access to all the pertinent information I need about my characters and where they live so all I need to do is write toward the story-worth-telling-goal. Then, on November 1 I begin and literally write like the wind of a Northern Wisconsin blizzard. I wrote over 54,000 words of this story in that month. Then I took a long deep breath and went back to the chapters that needed expansion or other work and did that. So in the end I had an 80,000 plus word novel to submit. It probably took me three months to write – and edit a couple times (I am my own worst enemy when it comes to edits – I read what I thought I wrote not what is actually on the page. So normally I will let a novel rest before I check it one more time and submit it.) When it finally comes back with edits from my editor, I *see * those errors I missed even if they aren’t all caught by the first editor.

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? What seems to work for unleashing your creativity?

I honestly must say I don’t allow writer’s block. I’m not sure if it’s because I always have several projects going at once, or if I should attribute that to writing my morning pages every single day. It’s to the point that after my husband leaves for work in the morning I sit down with a notebook, and immediately begin to write. Even if I need to get ready to go to work that 15 minutes to ½ hour that it takes to get those pages down seems to serve my muse for the day. If I am hung up on one project I move on to a different one. Sometimes that will be non-fiction, or it could be an article, or a poem. Maybe it is the routine and I must admit that my writing routine is pretty strict. I never thought it was, but I think I missed something, because even if there is snow to shovel (and I love doing that) or garden weeding (I love that too) I write those pages and try to do one chapter at least of my current WIP fiction project before I allow myself to move from my writing table. Aren’t you glad I’m not your mentor, coach or mother? {smile}

How was your experience in looking for a publisher? What words of advice would you offer those novice authors who are in search of one?

Every time I tell this story I thank my lucky stars because I fell into a perfect situation. A friend told me her cousin had received a contract from Wings ePress, Inc. and loved them; perhaps I should check them out. They were a fairly knew publisher. I did. I submitted my first manuscript and they accepted it. I have published nine books with them since and have two more under contract. They, of course, are not the only publisher I have. I had to try several other publishers just to prove to myself this was not a fluke and I really could write.

I think the single best piece of advice I can give a new writer is – don’t ever give up your dream. Keep submitting until you get that yes! There is room in any publishing house for that story that tugs at an editor — the right time, the right place, the right editor. I believe it’s all in the timing providing you have a story-worth-telling and you tell it well.
So never quit reading other writers to learn the craft. Take classes, read books on writing and your turn will come. I just know it!

What type of book promotion seems to work the best for you?

I’m an introvert so I don’t really get out there and promote like I know I should. I’ve resorted to post card mailing (which works well), online chats, finding reviewers to review my books, stuffing every piece of outgoing mail with a business card that tells about a book, complete with ISBN and my contact information – I get these and postcards free from Vista Print, the only charge is postage and that’s nominal.

I use pens and pocket planner calendars that I get from National Pen for very reasonable prices.

I hold contests and try not to make the prizes my books – if people think they are going to win a book they will not as readily buy one. OR if I give a book away I will offer to give them any book of their choice if they purchase the book and then win a copy —so that they can have their pick of my books, that encourage them to buy first.

If I give a book I use one I’ve made like a cook book tied to my book specifically. I did this for Bed and Breakfast Murders – at the end of the cook book I give information about preparing for a blizzard and how to stay safe, since the characters in Bed and Breakfast Murders were trapped with a killer in their midst in a bed and breakfast by a blizzard. I have done it again for Small Town Secrets since the protagonist owns the Golden Kettle Café her recipes are in the cookbook. Everyone who comments on your blog will get a download copy of The Golden Kettle Café Cook Book that Chaneeta Morgan (the protagonist) and I have complied for Small Town Secrets. [As long as we have an email address where we can reach them.]

Those are some of the ways I market and promote. I make up bookmarks to leave with a tip at a restaurant, or the local library—they love to have give aways for their customers. This winter I took a stack of pocket planner calendars to the library along with some pens for them to give to their patrons.

Another essential promotion is a web site and a blog. Both of these are becoming increasingly more important. On your website, be sure to have a page of freebies – things that your visitor can grab while they are there. A recipe, a small report, or article, a e-book download. I have a number of freebies on my website that may give you some ideas for your own. I have one small e-book that tells how to write a book report aimed at the kids. I have a 17 step book for designing your own website on the free Yahoo Geocities. I make these booklets using PDF995 a simple to use program similar to Adobe Acrobat only its free – you can pick it up at www.PDF995.com . I use this same program to format my books that I want to print at lulu.com it makes the conversion so simple. And you can add a link to your website so that the person can download the PDF file instantly.

I am currently working on a Marketing and Promotion book if anyone has any questions I’ll try to answer them or steer them to a couple good tools such as Janet Elaine Smith’s Promo Paks (now out in print format from Star Publish) or Carolyn Howard Johnson’s Frugal Book Promoter ,another book from Star Publish.
If you have some marketing hints you’d like to share I will try to use them in my book and if I do, I will give you space for a signature line to advertise your books, website, blog etc.

What is your favorite book of all time? Why?

I struggle with this question constantly. I have so many favorites – I remember reading The Diary of Anne Frank when I was about ten or eleven…I recently bought that book again because it has hung in my mind all these years. Is it my favorite? Not the only favorite for sure. My frame of mind, what I’m working on in my own writing has much to do with what I want to read at the moment and thus what comes to mind as my favorite, for the moment.

So many writers have such unique talent that sparks things in me, I read Jude Devereaux and Francis Hodgson Burnett for the pure joy of their words, the beautiful way they create a vision in my mind.

I read Stephen King or J. Gayle Kretschmer for characterization.

I read Janet Elaine Smith for the simple joy of her fun loving and endearing characters. Ron Berry gives me humor, Joyce Anthony gives me depth and spirituality, Barbara Williamson-Wood and Tony Hillerman give me Native American spirituality. Barbara Kingsolver and John Steinbeck give me people and the nuances of class and life among them. Dean Koontz, John Grisham, James Patterson, Patricia Cornwell, Mary Higgins Clark, Nevada Barr, they all sit on my shelves because they are a great read to get me in the right frame of tone, or mood for what I’m trying to write. If you’ve never read Nathalie Goldberg I encourage you to do so immediately – start with her Writing Down the Bones and you’ll read everything she’s ever written, she’s amazing.

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?

I certainly do Mayra. My website is www.billiewilliams.com ( a free serialized novel is available there under the bookclub tab http://billiewilliams.com/BOOKCLUB.html )or http://www.pensinmotion.com (a free 5 week writing course is available at Pens in Motion) I have two blogs http://printedwords.blogspot.com (all about writing) and http://onewomansgarden.blogspot.com (organic gardening articles)

Do you have another novel on the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects.

I am working on the book that is currently being serialized at my bookclub http://billiewilliams.com/BOOKCLUB.html a chapter a week until the novel is finished, the title is The Capricorn Goat ~~ January Flannel. It is another mystery/suspense January Flannel the protagonist is another of my accidental sleuths who solves crimes with wit, wisdom and chutzpah. I began this project this year at NaNoWriMo got over 55,000 words done then and it will continue until I finish I believe about 80,000 to 100,000 words this time. She is embroiled in a plot that is murder by poison, her friend Echo owns a catering business and someone has poisoned a pair of her clients and made it look like it was her. She is to cater a New Years Eve party and an avenging lover is determined it will be her last before she is put in prison. Can January stop this from happening, especially now that someone tried to put her out of commission by running her down with his car?

I am also working on another book in the writing series I have out this one is Mystery, Muse and Manuscript about writing the mystery. (the three former books Writing Wide, Exercises in Creative Writing and Characters in Search of an Author are available from Filbert Publishing at http://www.filbertpublishing.com) the third is Spice up Your Writing! Write to Entice, and is available from http://www.lulu.com/content/1349866

I also have another couple novels in the works. Tracker, a mystery suspense about a young woman who raises and trains blood hounds for search and rescue teams. Her life may depend on how well she has managed to train a young pup in the methods and means to find her. And a new, for me, Romance that is a romantic suspense – titled Skye’s the Limit set on the Isle of Skye with a Scottish background. So I have plenty to keep my muse stimulated for the time being. I have so many stories I want to get to. Time to knuckle down and just ‘do it’!

Thanks for stopping by! It was a pleasure to have you here!

Thank you so much Mayra for allowing me to visit and share your space, your time and your engaging questions with your readers.

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