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Jim Cox Report: September 2015
Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:
Marsha Freedman is an expert in the business of book and author promotion -- and a long time 'pen pal' of mine. Every month she puts out an informed, informative (and free!) newsletter called "The PR Insider" that should be subscribed to by every aspiring author and small press publisher seeking success in the extraordinarily competitive publishing environment. In one of her recent columns she gave a succinct and practical series of 'how to' tips for book marketing and promoting. Here is the gist of what Marsha had to say:
3 New Do's for Marketing Your Book
Book publishing and publicity have changed since 1990, when I began representing authors. With the rise of the Internet, new rules developed and strategies evolved - I'll share three of the new "do's" with you today.
But first, a little background. Some of the changes arose because publishing became so easy. Today, there are authors of every stripe, from those in time-honored fiction and non-fiction categories to business people and professionals who've learned that writing a book is essential to building their brand.
In 2012, Americans self-published more than 391,000 books, according to market research giant Bowker. That's a 400 percent increase since 2007.
Also in 2012, traditional publishers released nearly 302,000 titles for a whopping total of nearly 700,000 new books. In one year! With the glut of new books being released each year, promoting just one can feel like a mission impossible.
But just as publishing has democratized, so has getting publicity. Yes, we still have gatekeepers - editors, producers, etc. - guarding access to traditional mass media, and yes, it's still important to get their attention. But now we have social media to help us do that. With hard work, the right message and some marketing savvy, anyone can potentially build a following large enough for those gatekeepers and their audiences to take notice.
Looking for media attention for your book? Here are three new do's:
Do establish an online presence and following - ideally long before you've written your book. In the old days, authors crisscrossed the country, their car trunks weighed down with books. They arranged book signings at shops and events in an exhausting effort to get in front of as many potential readers as possible. While some authors still do this, it's a big investment that doesn't offer much in return unless you have a recognizable name. Establishing an online presence with a high-quality website and regular postings on social media is a much more efficient and effective way of connecting with potential readers/buyers.
Do build a platform that will create a built-in audience for your book. Whether you're a business leader with a book or a fiction author, it's essential that you regularly provide fresh, engaging content to an audience. This is how you build a platform which, as the name suggests, puts you on a stage so others - including the mass media - can see you. Many writers do this by penning a blog on their website. Some writers host an Internet radio show; professionals using their book as a marketing tool may pay a radio station for a weekly time slot. If you live in a community with public access television, you can even host your own TV show.
Do form strategic alliances with other authors. Don't think of all of those other authors as the competition; rather, look at them as potential allies. Find authors who appeal to much the same audience as you and who have large followings, and join forces. Just as social media users help one another gain visibility by "liking" posts or "retweeting" tweets, you and your fellow authors can increase exposure for one another. Promote each other on social networks; guest-post on one another's blogs, or participate on their radio and TV shows.
On the one hand, it's wonderful that anyone with a message to share in the form of a book can now do so. Gone are the days of pinning all your dreams on some faceless editor in a New York high-rise.
But as with anything, greater accessibility leads to bigger crowds. If you want to stand out, you'll have to plan a sustained marketing campaign. If your book is a tool to build your business brand, don't worry so much about sales; it will pay for itself in establishing you as an authoritative expert in your industry.
If you hope to establish yourself as a fiction or non-fiction author, plan for long-term marketing even as you get to work on your next book.
From one book lover to another,
You can subscribe to The PR Insider and/or contact Marsha at
Now, here are some more excellent books about the writing/publishing trade:
The Writing/Publishing Shelf
How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon
Penny C. Sansevieri
Author Marketing Experts
PO Box 421156, San Diego, CA 92142
9781508563365 $6.99 pbk / $2.99 Kindle www.amazon.com
How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon is a book marketing guide specifically tailored to improving one's sales on Amazon, the sales goliath of industry. Author Penny C. Sansevieri discusses skillful timing of pre-order campaigns; how to earn a high rank in Amazon's search engines with the proper use of keywords and descriptions; how to use Kindle Unlimited to one's advantage; identifying the categories that will net greater sales; the advantages of selling book bundles (especially with regard to ebooks), how to attract customer reviews, and much more. How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon is reader-friendly and absolutely invaluable for any author who is not already independently wealthy! "Shorter books rock. I've said before that short is the new long, but that applies even more with your avid reader group. They love the quick read, they read a lot, and shorter books tend to do much better on KU [Kindle Unlimited]. Also, one of the terms of KU is that you don't get paid until the reader reads 10 percent of your book. For this reason alone it makes a ton of sense to do shorter fiction books."
Writer's Digest Books
c/o F+W Media
10151 Carver Road, Suite 200, Blue Ash, OH 45242
9781599639154 $19.99 www.wherewriterslearn.com
Professional writing teacher Barbara Baig presents Spellbinding Sentences: A Writer's Guide to Achieving Excellence & Captivating Readers lives up to its title as a practical guide improving one's writing through study, practice, and learning from quality models. Chapters cover both nuts and bolts of syntax and advanced strategies of composition, with a wealth of demonstrative examples throughout. "Just like athletes and musicians, writers can break down the complex activity of writing into its component skills; we can practice each skill on its own, then combine it with others." Filled cover to cover with tips, tricks, techniques, and useful advice, Spellbinding Sentences is a "must-have" for aspiring writers everywhere! Also highly recommended is Barbara Baig's previous book, "How to Be a Writer: Building Your Creative Skills Through Practice and Play."
Academic Writing Now
c/o FedEx Trade Networks
555 Riverwalk Parkway, Tonawanda, NY 14150
9781554812493 $19.95 www.broadviewpress.com
Academic Writing Now: A Brief Guide for Busy Students is a resource created especially to teach college students (or high school graduates) a basic, introductory college writing course; it can be used as a self-study tool or as a complement to class. Chapters focus on the most critical elements of composing a clear, concise academic essay. "Timesaver tips", tricks, and techniques fill out this superb guide to writing succinctly and well when one's free time is strictly limited. "Don't do a final proofreading until you have completely revised and edited your draft. It's never a bad idea to correct small errors as you see them. However, if you move into the final proofreading process while you still have major changes to make, much of your time will be wasted." Although there are a few pages that encourage students to practice writing their thoughts and questions, Academic Writing Now is primarily a user-friendly textbook rather than a consumable book. Highly recommended, especially for prospective college students.
Business and Legal Forms for Authors and Self-Publishers
10 East 23rd Street, Suite 510, New York, NY 10010
9781621534648, $24.99, www.amazon.com
It's always a pleasant surprise when authors discover that when it comes to "turning pro" they really don't have to reinvent the wheel. Not with Ted Crawford's "Business and Legal Forms for Authors and Self-Publishers". This 176 page compendium of 32 forms for custom use compiled by Crawford (who has served as General Counsel for the Graphic Artists Guild and legislative counsel for creator's groups fighting for greater rights, and is himself a publisher, an attorney, and the author of more than a dozen books for creative professionals -- including "The Writer's Legal Guide") is simply a "must" for the instructional reference collections for all aspiring authors and anyone who is self-published and therefore carries the entire burden of the publishing process upon themselves -- including marketing, publicity, and promotion. Enhanced with the copious inclusion of ready-to-use with negotiation checklists, "Business and Legal Forms for Authors and Self-Publishers" should also be a part of every community and academic library's Writing/Publishing instructional resource collections. It should be noted that "Business and Legal Forms for Authors and Self-Publishers" is also available in a Kindle edition ($16.99).
Captivate Your Readers
9780993700415 $11.99 pbk / $3.49 ebook www.CobaltBooks.net
Award-winning author Jodie Renner (also known for her popular "The Kill Zone" blog) presents Captivate Your Readers, a guide to crafting memorable fiction. Chapters discuss the importance of seizing the reader's attention with the first few pages, how to avoid "author intrusions" that annoy the reader, the value of using subtlety rather than "overwriting", how to show character reactions for maximum effect, 33 "must-do's" for creating a standout short story, and much more. Captivate Your Readers is an excellent resource of tips, tricks, and techniques for writers of all skill and experience levels! Also highly recommended are Renner's previous books about improving one's writing, "Fire Up Your Fiction" and "Writing a Killer Thriller".
Writer's Digest Books
c/o F+W Media
10151 Carver Road, Suite 200, Blue Ash, OH 45242
Four titles from Writer's Digest Books are superb resources for aspiring authors. Nina Amir's "How to Blog a Book" (9781599638904, $15.99) is now in a revised and expanded edition, with up-to-date information on tools for optimizing and driving traffic to one's blog, among other enhancements. Bloggers of all skill and experience levels will find this a unique and invaluable resource for creating a saleable book based on one's blog. Richard Campbell's and Cheryl Svensson's "Writing Your Legacy" (9781599638775, $16.99) is a user-friendly guide to crafting one's autobiography, offering 35 guided themes, supplementary exercises, suggestions for sharing one's milestones/relationships/career paths, and much more. Jeff Gerke's "The Irresistible Novel" (9781599638256, $16.99) encourages authors to break from restrictive "rules" in pursuit of the true goal - to engage one's readers from beginning to end. Chapters explore different points of view on everything from nuances of grammar (and why their paralyzing rules should not always be strictly obeyed) to mapping a story path with respect to engaging the reader's brain chemistry. Benjamin Sobieck's "The Writer's Guide to Weapons" (9781599638157, $19.99) is a "must-have" for fiction and fantasy writers, from novelists to screenwriters, comic writers, video game storyboarders, and more. "The Writer's Guide to Weapons" debunks common weapon myths in popular media and walks readers through authentic details about the possession and usage of an immense variety of weapons; the result is an extremely fascinating, accurate, and practical resource. All four guides are highly recommended.
Here is "The Midwest Book Review Postage Stamp Hall Of Fame & Appreciation" roster of well-wishers and supporters. These are the generous folk who decided to say 'thank you' and 'support the cause' that is the Midwest Book Review by donating postage stamps this past month:
Len Brass -- "Creation of a Family"
Chad Bishoff -- "Surviving Puberty"
Heather Latimer -- "Is Forever Too Long?"
Sands Hetherington --"Night Buddies Go Sky High"
Judith Fitzsimmons -- "Not at Your Child's Expense"
Sherrill S. Cannon - "Mice & Spiders & Webs...Oh My!"
Karen Roberts -- "Journeys: Healing Through Nature's Wisdom"
Irv Kratka -- MMO Music Group
Adam Marianski -- Bookmagic LLC
Joe Morey -- Dark Renaissance Books
Mary-Kathryne Steele -- Wisdom Tales
Elizabeth Waldman Frazier -- Waldmania!
Barbara C. Wall -- The Barrett Company Communications
In lieu of (or in addition to!) postage stamp donations, we also accept PayPal gifts of support to our postage stamp fund for what we try to accomplish in behalf of the small press community. Simply log onto your PayPal account and direct your kindness (in any amount and at your discretion) to the Midwest Book Review at:
SupportMBR [at] aol.com
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If you have postage stamps to donate, or if you have a book you'd like considered for review, then send those postage stamps (always appreciated, never required), or a published copy of that book (no galleys, uncorrected proofs, or Advance Reading Copies), accompanied by a cover letter and some form of publicity release to my attention at the address below.
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So until next time -- goodbye, good luck, and good reading!
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James A. Cox
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