by Michael Hultquist
I used to have a bias against self-publishing. Early on I bought into the idea that a work was no good unless it was published in what used to be the "traditional" manner, through a publishing house with editors, designers, marketing teams and a distribution network. The truth is, you have available to you every aspect of the business. All you need to do is take control of it.
The ultimate goal of any writer, whether they self-publish or work through a publisher, is to create the best work possible. What really matters with a work is the quality of that finished product, and if you are able to produce a product that is on par with or even better than your competitors, then self-publishing may be for you.
My publishing journey began as Print-On-Demand (P.O.D.) companies were growing, when the Internet was still young. I had just graduated with a Master of Arts in English and wanted to be an author. I wanted to write everything, from poetry to humor to prose, but my true passions fell in three areas: horror novels, feature films and cookbooks. Admittedly, this is a strange combination.
At the same time, I had to get a job and no one I could find was hiring writers with my experience, so I turned to a more immediate career - web site design and development. It was something I could learn mostly on my own and I became quite good at it. I use those very valuable skills in my current publishing efforts.
I went on to publish a few fiction novels with some small presses and then to co-write several feature film scripts, two of which have been produced. One even starred Samuel Jackson! Imagine my excitement. I would not, however, attempt to make my own movie. It is different with publishing. I enjoy the process of working with publishers. My last publisher, Belfire Press, hired a great editor for my novel, "Off Track", commissioned a talented cover artist, and turned the book into a wonderful publication, something I am very proud of.
The cookbooks, however, I decided to do on my own. The reasons are simple - more money and more control for me. It started as more of a hobby. In order to learn more about building web sites, I built my very first site - JalapenoMadness.com. Early iterations included my nascent cooking creations, some of which were good, some not so good. Each time I rebuilt the site, I learned more about the business along with being able to explore my love for cooking and chili peppers. As the site grew in popularity, I realized I had a built in audience for a potential book.
This is how "Jalapeno Madness: Jalapeno Recipes Galore!" was born. I had worked away in my kitchen for years, compiling my recipe creations, exploring chili peppers, building my sites up and reaching out to the chilihead community. I had the knowledge, a built in audience, and a passion for my subject. And now I had an easy way to publish my own works.
You can, too. There are a number of services available to help you, whether you need help with the whole process or only a part of it. Check out companies like Infinity Publishing, where they can assist with anything from cover design, editing and marketing services. Do what you do best and hire out the rest.
These resources are just as available to you as they are to me, but here are a few things I learned from my early self-publishing times.
Write, rewrite, and edit. The fact that you are self-publishing your work means you need to take even greater care to ensure the work shines. Give only your best work. Your readers will see it and will reward you by buying your next book.
Hire an editor. Yes, after you've edited your own work, hire an editor. You'll have a professionally trained eye. This is especially important of fiction work, but true of any work. My own editor found numerous formatting issues that I couldn't believe I missed. With a traditional publisher, they will provide their own editor. Do like the pros do and get a good editor.
Promotion is up to you. Even if you publish traditionally, you'll most likely be the only one promoting the book. Smaller presses don't have the time or staff to do much, and larger publishers focus on their cash cows. Count on doing a lot of promotional work both online and off to get your works out there.
Hold your head up. Seriously, if you put everything you have into your best work, hone it with an editor, and treat it like the commodity that it is with proper design and promotion, you should be proud of your work.
Keep learning and have fun. I realize this is obvious, but it needs to be said. There is always room for improvement. Explore your passion, continue to absorb and reflect, and it will show in your work. And if you stop having fun, it's time to move onto a new subject.
Given the chance to take my cookbooks to a top 10 publisher, I might have said "yes" instantly a few years ago. Today, I would say "maybe". They would have to give me a lot of control, or a lot of money. Why? I'm just having too much fun, and these books are mine. And I love it.
Michael Hultquist is a food writer and author of "Jalapeno Madness: Jalapeno Recipes Galore!" and "Jalapeno Poppers and Other Stuffed Chili Pepper Recipes". You can find more recipes and chili pepper fun at his web sites, www.chilipeppermadness.com and www.jalapenomadness.com. He is a member of the International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA). He is also a novelist and screenwriter who co-wrote "Victim" and "Arena". See Mike's personal site at www.michaelhultquist.com.
Promoting your brand is very important for an independent author. It helps to establish your author platform and lends credibility to the quality of your work. Having a stamp of approval, from a publishing name you can trust, is a part of your brand integrity.
After numerous requests from our authors, Infinity Publishing now provides a variety of website banners and buttons that our authors can use on their websites to acknowledge their publishing status. Our incredible design team has pulled together a few new banners that authors can download and use on their site. We’re just getting started, so be sure to continue to check back as we add to our library of author website banners as a free marketing tool.
The banner image is provided along with the marketing code to link back to the Infinity Publishing site.
To download your free website banners, go to:
Once you’ve added the banner to your website, be sure post your URL below so we can take a look.
Thank you to our authors for the continued feedback and recommendations on tools and services to make your publishing experience the best it can be.
By Sherrie Wilkolaski
Recently, I was traveling in the Adirondack Mountains and found myself at the historic Fort Edward Train Station. It was built in 1900 and is home to a charming little gift shop for Amtrak passengers to peruse while waiting for their next train. My train was running 40 minutes late, so I took the time to look through all of the nick-knacks and artwork that were available for sale to pass the time. There was a woman playing violin to a crowd of six people waiting along with me and she played beautifully. It was a little piece of unexpected Heaven.
I’m always on a quest for books and I discovered in the back of the store, near the café seating and in the front window, a bookshelf stacked with books written by local Adirondack authors. Dozens of books written about the region, others included stories of fiction, poetry and cookbooks. The kind of books that most anyone could enjoy, and in the setting of the railway gift shop, they all seemed to make such a great choice for a souvenir for a loved one, or a something to keep for oneself.
Where should authors look for opportunities?
Transportation outlets (i.e. train stations, cruise line docks, etc.)
Bed and breakfasts
Popular tourist destinations
Local writers groups
Authors everywhere should take note from those Adirondack authors, and find their local and regional book selling opportunities. If you have a book that is specific to a local area or region, be sure to call it out on your cover. Make sure your cover has a coffee table appeal, even if it is not a coffee table-type book, if you are targeting the tourist market. You want your cover design to catch the eye of the wayward traveler, looking for a good read or just a local keepsake to remember their trip.
Rodger Potocki, Infinity Publishing author of From the Inside, tells his story that spans 40 years in the Rome-Utica, NY area. A history of political issues and characters from a unique perspective. A must read to understand what happened to a once prosperous, vibrant slice of upstate New York. His book was featured on the Adirondack Express website and is carried in local bookstores and online.
Are you marketing your book to your local tourist market? Please tell us about it in the comments below.
The Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards contest is designed to honor the year's best children’s books, authors and illustrators. This year’s sixth annual Moonbeam Awards program is open to authors, illustrators, and publishers of children’s books written in English or Spanish and intended for the North American market. All 2011 and 2012 copyrights and releases are eligible.
Presented by Jenkins Group and Independent Publisher magazine, the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards are designed to bring increased recognition to exemplary children’s books and their creators, and to support childhood literacy and life-long reading. Awards are given in 38 categories covering the full range of subjects, styles and age groups that children’s books are written and published in today.
As our society has gotten more complex and growing up has become more complicated, children’s book authors and publishers have risen to the occasion, creating books that not only celebrate the joys of childhood, but also help kids and families deal with its challenges. The Moonbeam Awards will recognize and reward the best of these books and bring them to the attention of booksellers, librarians, parents and children.
Writing and publishing books that teach and inspire our children is an extremely important task, and these awards are conducted in appreciation of those efforts. Thank you and best of luck in the Moonbeam Awards!
$75 per book, per category - until March 31, 2012
$85 per book, per category - April 1, 2012 through June 30, 2012
$95 per book, per category - July 1, 2012 through August 31, 2012
Click here to enter...
By Sherrie Wilkolaski
The Sweet Sixteen is upon us. College basketball junkies glued to their TV sets, collaborating in sports bars and monitoring game stats via Twitter @ESPN. All of this March Madness excitement got me thinking about how authors might be able to join in the celebration. So we’re getting a little crazy here at Infinity Publishing and announcing Book Marketing Madness for authors! What better time to rollout new marketing programs?
We’ve got everything from new marketing materials publicity kits, to 50% OFF a marketing consultation (and it includes a personalized marketing plan), and a book fair service that is so budget friendly we’ll take your book to London for only $275. Let’s take a look at the insanity…
Book Marketing Consultation and Strategy. 50% OFF through March 31, 2012.
Having a solid marketing plan will help an author sell more books. No doubt about it. Of course, the author should actually be following through with what is in their plan, but I digress. If you’re an author on a budget, having an organized strategy, is even more critical to your book marketing success, both short and long-term. We’ve done our research, taken feedback from our authors and have designed a program that is budget-conscious and provides an incredible value.
The service is customized and includes a personalized marketing plan with both, DIY (do-it-yourself) recommendations and other marketing and/or PR services that are the right fit for your title. Every plan is completely tailored to the author’s goals and budget…even if you don’t have a budget. It includes a one (1) hour consultation, 30 Day Marketing Calendar, Personalized Marketing Plan, Guest Blogging Invite and a Free Marketing Guide Book. To learn more about our new Book Marketing and Consultation Service and what $250 can get you…click here.
All aboard for the London Book Fair! $275 will take your book across the Atlantic.
I’m a huge fan of Book Fairs because:
Book fairs are inexpensive
Provide long-term marketing exposure
Reach book buyers and media, both domestically and internationally
Incredible value for the investment
Two years of exposure
Don’t miss out. You can order this service directly online. We’ll email you a link to tell us what book you want us to promote at the London Book Fair and we’ll do the rest! That is it. Register for the London Book Fair today! Deadline is March 28, 2012.
FREE Website Banners for Authors. Yes, FREE.
We have new and improved marketing materials, that we know you're going to love. Better quality business and post cards, new posters, bookmarks and we have a new digital marketing kit, that you don't want to miss. Take a look at these incredible new publicity kits and start marketing your books in style!
We hope that you’ll get a little crazy and join us in celebrating our Book Marketing Madness. To all of the college basketball teams making their way to the Final Four…best of luck!
Tell us what college team you’re cheering for below. Personally, I don’t have a favorite, just as long as it is one of the NC teams.
By Sherrie Wilkolaski
Connecting with new groups of readers is like an explorer discovering a new land. If Lewis and Clark were self-publishing today, I am sure they would leave no stone unturned in the search for a wider audience. So how can you venture into uncharted waters? Why not try approaching some book clubs. Yes, I’m talking about reaching out to groups like Oprah’s Book Club.
If you’ve never considered cultivating book clubs for your title, think again. Book clubs are where an author can really identify and connect to their niche reader and start to build a fan base. Where can you find book clubs? There are both online and offline book clubs and I recommend finding both with some online research.
How can you make it easier for book clubs to be interested in your books?
Meetup.com. This website provides localized social connections for a variety of different clubs and groups. Do a local search to see if you can find any local book clubs that fit your genre. Then reach out to the group organizer and see if they would be interested in considering your book to include in their reading list. Let them know you are available to come and talk with their group. They may ask you for a discount on the books if they buy in bulk, so extend them that offer. If you don’t find a group, then why not start your own.
Book-club-queen.com. This site targets book clubs of all genres. From romance, cookbooks, history and even non-fiction groups. It is a good resource to learn more about what book club readers are interested in.
Book-clubs-resource.com. Another good site that talks to the club readers, providing instructions on how to set-up a book club, what type of discussion questions to ask and a variety of other topics. It is good to understand how to better approach a book club, if you can speak their lingo and address exactly what they are looking for in a new title to add to their book club shelf.
- Create a book club welcome page on your author website.
Make your book “book club ready” and create a page on your website, just for book clubbers to enjoy. Write up a short paragraph or give a list of 3-5 reasons why your book is the right fit for a book club.
- Book club discussion questions.
Create a list of the top 10 discussion questions a book club group can print out or download, right from your website. They will use these questions to discuss your book. Things like, What was your favorite character? How did this book impact your feelings about…? Make it easy for them.
- Discounts for book clubs.
Everyone is looking for a deal. Offer a discount for book clubs who buy in bulk. Don’t forget to include a free auto-graph!
Let book clubs know that you are available to come to speak with their group. You may want to do this on a local level only, do what makes sense for you.
Authors can use the intimate experience of book clubs for book promotion and an opportunity to get up close and personal with your readers. It's like having your own private focus groups. I’m sure it goes without saying; you can also connect with readers via online book clubs like Goodreads.com and LibraryThing.com.
Happy Book Clubbing! Tell us about your experience with book clubs by posting below.
By Sherrie Wilkolaski
It has come to my attention, on more than one occasion that authors like to nag potential book reviewers during the book review process. My advice…please stop doing this, it is only going to hurt your potential for getting a review in the first place. You may also end up with a comment in your review like, “the book was a very good read, but the author was very impatient waiting for me to review his book.” That is negative. It says the author is difficult to work with.
Things you should NOT do when dealing with a book reviewer:
Don’t ask when the review will be completed. Many book reviewers plan in advance, collecting manuscripts to put into their reading queue. I’ve had authors send a reviewer a book on a Monday and check back with them on Tuesday asking if they liked the book. Be realistic. You are not the only potential book they will be reviewing. It is OK to ask when it would be OK for you to check back with them, like in a few weeks or a month. Be conscious of their schedule.
Don’t tell them you hope they like the book. This is a given. Every author wants every book reviewer to like their book. It sounds unprofessional. Instead let them know that you are available if they have any questions about the behind the scenes of your writing the book, character development, etc. Let them know you’re willing to give them something beyond the book.
What do you mean you don’t like my book! If you pay attention to the flight attendant before take-off, she’ll tell you, “In the event of a water landing, your seat cushion can be used as floatation device.” Keep that in mind when you get that not-so-good review. It is OK to respond to the book reviewer to learn more about why they are not such a huge fan. It will help you as a writer. Take the constructive criticism. You still want to thank the reviewer for taking the time to do the review. Be polite and professional. That type of good will gets around. The reviewer may even post something about how gracious you were even after giving your title only one star.
Don’t tell the review what you want them to say. This is major no, no. Don’t do it.
Don’t forget to send a thank you. Not matter what the outcome of your review, be sure to send a thank you to the reviewer for taking the time to read your book and write up a review. It will go a long way.
Even if you have a review that is not as favorable as you would like it to be, you can always pull out the positive comments from the review and use those on your website, on your Amazon Author Central page, etc. It’s normal to have a few bad reviews, mixed in with the good. You need variety to create interest. How many times have you read a “bad review” and then decided the reviewer was not so bright and you bought that book anyway?
Image courtesty of treasuredspotbookreviews.com.
by Brittany Lavin
Nothing is more effective for promoting a book than hearing about the book directly from the author. Without a doubt, it’s the author saying a few words pitching the merits of his or her book that will motivate consumers to order their book. Generating interest in the book is the entire focus of every promotional effort—the goal is to produce the buzz that persuades the buyer to purchase the author’s book.
For decades authors trekked to bookstores throughout the land to talk up their books with folks attending these in store presentations, however, in recent years there are fewer bookstores hosting author book signings and the attendance at these events has dropped drastically with the increasing popularity of the Internet. Every month more folks were discovering the ease of accessing and benefitting from the various offerings, opportunities, and informative features found on the far reaching digital web supporting and encouraging social networking.
Folks long accustom to communicating via letters, handwritten notes, and phone calls carried by miles of wire, are now suddenly zapped into a lightening flash speed of communicating with the ability of reach out and thoughtfully touch people almost anywhere in the world with a smart-phone call or through typed words in emails, instant-messages, and brief twitters or tweaks. And then came blogs—blogs where the reflective thoughts posted by bloggers hang accessible forever in the vastness of cyber-space.
Authors promoting their books were some of the first individuals to benefit from publishing book dedicated websites and posting an array of content on their blogs. Their informative content provided exposure to visitors and readers to buzz to others about their book content. Thankfully, the technologists then found a way to deliver the voice and vision of individuals via easy to produce videos recorded with digital cameras included as a feature of their smart phone or captured by the laptop computer’s build-in video cam. Soon individually produced and distributed videos were popping up like spring mushrooms all across the web.
Never in the long history of book publishing, have individual authors been graced with free and open access through a public portal to reach beyond the pages of their books and connect directly with people interested in knowing more about the authors and their books.
Infinity would like all of our authors to have this opportunity to promote their books
You, the author, need to take the first step by creating a book video to benefit from this marvelous promotional opportunity.
Here are a few basic steps for making it happen:
1. Prepare an outline of what you want to mention in your video. Some folks like to have a script, but the last thing you want to do is to come off looking like you are reading something word-for-word. You’re the author and you need to project a high degree of ease and comfort when you talk about your book.
2. Practice your presentation in front of a mirror so you’re able to deliver your message in 1-3 minutes—if you go longer than 5 minutes you’ll lose their attention. Smile and be natural, you want to try to have the demeanor of meeting an old friend who just asked you about your book and you only have a few minutes to talk with them.
3. The keywords are “talk with them”—don’t get all uppity and start talking down to them. This is a sure turnoff, so be sure to come from a place of talking “with” rather than “to” them.
4. Dress for comfort by selecting a shirt, blouse, or sweater that’s fashionable and is in keeping with what you normally wear in public. You’ll be striving for a head-and-shoulder shot that features your face—keep the background simple and uncluttered so viewers are focused on what you are saying and not trying to figure out what’s going on in the surroundings.
5. This is a solo performance, so don’t include spouses, cute kids or lovable pets—you are the spotlighted star.
6. Be sure your closing includes where viewers can order your book and the briefest URL to your book dedicated website. You want them to visit your website to read more about you and your book.
7. By producing your own video in the comfort of your home you have the ability of redoing your video to smooth out any glitches and misspoken words.
8. Variety increases attention and the reach of your videos, so vary the thrust of your future video content while keeping the primary focus on your book, for example:
A. First and foremost talk about your book—this is the topic you’re most familiar with so always lead with what you know best and benefits you the most.
B. Create a video to promote attendance at a future event you will be participating in with your book—be sure to include where and when with contact info for folks interested in meeting you in person.
C. Talk about your publishing experience with Infinity Publishing—be specific with regards to mentioning any unique features we provided that directly benefited the publication and distribution of your book, or simply say a few words about your experience with us.
D. Reader reviewers are great when posted on your book dedicated website, but you can increase their impact by making a video that includes what others have said about your book.
8. Submit your book videos to Infinity Publishing and we’ll post them on Infinity’s blog and other video outlets—exposure is the name of the game and the more exposure for your book is all the better for increasing book sales. Your book dedicated website and Facebook are great places for you to post links to all of your book promotion videos.
Invest some of your time reviewing book videos created by other authors and make notes about what aspects worked well that can be incorporated into your presentation, and also learn from what came across as things you want to avoid doing. With a bit of ongoing research and carefully planning your approach, your finished results will be more effective and you’ll reach a larger audience with your book video.
Perhaps the most important recommendations are to keep your book video simple and stay focused on the primary information you are conveying to every viewer clicking on to see and hear what you have to say about your book.
By C. Hope Clark
When advising clients about their writing projects, I invariably meet someone who will state he needs money to continue writing. And he doesn't. He might need money to self-publish, to attend a retreat and get away for a week, sign up for a class, travel to a conference or do research, but nothing stops him from writing. However, a grant or other financial opportunity would make the journey easier, right?
Grants do exist, but they have rules, just like a publisher only printing certain genres, an agent only representing specific kinds of books, or a magazine preferring exact topics. Finding money for your writing efforts takes time and research for those same reasons. Grant providers have specific missions, and your needs must first fit theirs.
Here, however, are a few resources that you might be able to take advantage of. Remember, you must write a remarkable application or design a sharp presentation. You aren't the only writer attempting to nab these funds, so that means being competitive, like anything else in this business.
SUSTAINABLE ARTS FOUNDATION AWARDS
In recognition of the challenges of leading a creative life while raising children, the Sustainable Arts Foundation provides financial support to writers and artists with families. They offer a number of $6,000 awards in both the Spring and in
Winter. The applicant must have at least one child under the age of 18. They award a number of Promise Awards of smaller dollar figures to applicants whose work may not qualify for the main awards, but demonstrates both skill and potential. As with most grants, your portfolio aids the judges to rank you. They are also interested in hearing about your plans and how this award might assist you in attaining your goals.
In essence, you solicit for sponsors, only you can do it in trickles of money. Post your project, your budgetary need, and your goals on the website and start the timer. People visit the site and analyze the various projects, seeking for someone to assist. Anyone may donate, in increments as low as $1. If you receive enough pledges to meet your goal, you get the money and you're off to create your project. If the pledges fall short by the deadline, no money changes hands. Meagan Adele Lopez posted a call for her self-published book, The Three Questions, then presented a plan, posted a self-made video, and asked readers for $4,400. She received $5,200 and launched a marketing campaign for her book to include a new book trailer, cover and tour. (www.ladywholunches.net)
This foundation provides $1,000 grants to projects that inspire them. They have chapters in various cities of the United States, and are entertaining more cities to start up more opportunities for artists and creative individuals, to even include business ventures.
Locally, you have opportunities like:
• Your state arts commission or cultural agency (each state has one)
• Your local arts council (many cities or counties have them)
• Community foundations (all states have them sprinkled throughout).
Google for these resources, speak to your state writer's organization to see where they get their grants from, go to your state arts commission (see www.nasaa-arts.org to find yours) and ask the experts where artists and writers receive financial assistance in your region. That's what they do for a living. As a minimum, sign up for their newsletter or magazine, to keep up with the opportunities they have to offer which include grants, classes, legal and business advice.
Funds aren't free-flowing by any means, but they are tucked away in places here and there where most people don't know where to look. Your success with them depends on one or more of the following factors: how long you've been writing, where you've published before, how well you write (based upon samples), and the depth and creativity of your writing proposal (your plan for your work-in-progress). Some cater to newer writers. Some prefer those in the midst of their career. Some want to entertain writers with ideas that fit a theme. Some prefer giving money only to writers and artists in specific geographic regions.
Take a few moments each day to hunt for grants if you feel they would be a good tool for your career path. You'll find that those who've landed a grant, often find it easier to land many more.
C. Hope Clark is editor of FundsforWriters.com , a website and family of newsletters recognized for the past eleven years by Writer's Digest forits 101 Best Websites for Writers. Hope is also a mystery novelist, and "A Lowcountry Bribe", the first in The Palmetto State Mystery Series, is available via Bell Bridge Books.
by Sherrie Wilkolaski
Are you a children’s book author? Today is your lucky day. I’m going to give you a few tips on how to write a better children’s book. Having worked with many children’s book authors throughout my career, I’ve seen it all; authors with traditional publishers, agents, successful and some still trying to find their way. What takes one children’s book author to the next level and turns that bubble of an idea in to a bestselling reality? Let’s find out!
Understanding your target audience is key. It may sound cliché, however my experience is that many children’s book authors do not have a grasp on exactly who their reader is.
How old are they? I worked with an author who told me she was writing a book for kids in the 6-8 year old range. Once I read the book, the content was more for the 12-14 age range. Quite different. In her mind, she was thinking about a younger age group, but her writing was more mature. The fact that she wanted color illustrations also did not blend with what she was writing. I would say it blew my mind, but I’ve seen this many times.
What can the audience comprehend, given the readers age range? We were all little kids once, so an author must take themselves back to that time in their life and understand what makes sense for a child…at that age. Using words that are not in their vocabulary won’t make for the best book. Although, there is always an exception…if done right. “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” comes to mind. Personally I’m not the best reference for what kids like at any given age, so I always bring in an expert.
Illustrations…Yes or No?
As the words “children’s book author” moves from an author’s mouth to my ears, I know that the words “illustrations” will soon follow. This is an incredible stumbling block for most children’s book authors, however it doesn’t have to be.
Are pictures a must or will the book work with text only? Again, I must go back to knowing your audience. Look at your competition and stick with that style and then make it your own.
How to find an illustrator? No matter what type of images you may need for your book, from cartoon characters to stencil drawings, there are so many resources out there. First, I recommend reaching out a publishing professional to help you locate your best option. It will save you money in the long run. You may need an artist, and in some cases you can find royalty free stock illustrations that will bring just what you want to your book…at a huge savings to your pocketbook. There are also other graphics technologies that can turn photographs into illustration-like images. No matter which direction you end up going, be sure to use a professional graphic artist to design the interior. Children’s books that look homemade…will not sell.
Testing Your Content. Have you told your story or have you been waiting to share it, once it is just right? Don’t’ wait! Get out there and start telling your story. Do a reading at your local library, the elementary school, day cares and anywhere else you can find that will give you some time to read to your audience.
Use the feedback. Children like to speak their minds, so you will get honest answers. Did they like the story? Who was their favorite character? What did they like best about the book? What did they like the least? Would they want to hear the story again?
Make improvements. Don’t be so quick to jump to the finish line. Investing your time in the research and development phase, will help you to publish the best book you can. Of course, you’ll want a children’s book editor to review your final content to ensure it is all that it can be.
Secret ingredient: If at the end of the day you produce an amazing children’s book, the next phase is marketing. If the kids love your work, they will want more and they will tell their friends. Word of a good children’s book can spread like wildfire. Stay tuned…we’ll talk about children’s book marketing soon. Focus on your book production, I don’t want to distract you with marketing just yet! If your children’s book IS completed…be sure to get your book into the 2012 Bologna Children’s Book Fair.
Image courtesy of Michal Zacharzewski.
by Sherrie Wilkolaski
I think I have a little crush on blogging. Actually I believe it is a serious crush. My new passion. I’ve fallen in love with writing again, after having been absent from it for quite some time. My writing focus over the last few years have been spent writing marketing, advertising and website copy, mixed in with book cover blurbs and author media kits. My own books pushed to the side, because I am always helping another writer get to the next level.
Blogging has become an avenue for me to burn off the knowledge simmering on my brain and it is making room for new ideas. In a blog I can say what is on my mind, just as it rolls off my mental tongue. Making its way to my virtual paper, on to my assistant and then posted to my blog. Brilliant.
Why do I think blogging is a goldmine?
The proof is in the pudding. Over the last few months I have been dedicated to keeping to blogging 3-5 times per week and the results have been incredible. Website traffic has gone through the roof. It is a simple formula and it can take any author to the next level.
Here are the top 7 secrets to blogging success:
Select the key words for your website. Do you your research and find the right key words that make the most sense for your title. You don’t need to go crazy, anywhere from 10-30 key words is all you need. Tag your content with those key words with every article.
Write on the subject matter associated with your key words. It really is as simple as that. It may take you some time, but find your voice.
Fresh content. Write a new article every day, or at least 3-4 days a week and you’ll be a hit with the search engines. Note: Don’t just throw up anything on your blog. Make sure it’s a value to your audience.
Blog on the weekends. You’ll be a rock star with the search engines.
Invite guest bloggers to the party. Blogging 356 days a year can become daunting, so why not invite some guest bloggers to join you in your effort to fill your blog with relevant content. It also helps with cross-promotion, have your guest bloggers provide you with a link back to your site and ask that they let their audience know about their guest appearance.
Syndicate your blog. Distribution of your content is key. Make sure you have an RSS feed and an email subscription option to your blog. Use your social media outlets to help market your daily blog posts and your content will go viral.
Track your results with Google Analytics. Monitor the traffic on your site and see what content your visitors are most interested in…then write more of it. Google Analytics is free, take advantage of this great website monitoring tool. If you can afford it, I highly recommend using HubSpot to monitor your in-bound marketing. Their online platform and tools are fabulous!
Blogging is contagious. I've pushed several colleauges and authors into blogging lately and have recieved some pushback. To my surprise, those individuals who were most resistant are now the most dedicated and reaping the rewards.
I’m living a bloggers dream. Not only am I seeing the results in the website traffic. It has rekindled my romance with writing. It just doesn’t get any better than that. Well, only if I was writing in Paris. Cheers!
How often do you blog? Feel free to post your comments below and post a link to your blog to share with our readers.
*Photo Courtesy of Amanda at Serenity Now
Register for the 2012 Bologna Children's Book Fair and/or the 2012 London Book Fair. Don't miss out on this incredible marketing opportunity!
Infinity Publishing has partnered with Combined Book Exhibit and our authors now have the opportunity to display and promote their books around the world, at over 25 different book fairs! The next two shows coming up are two incredible international shows. Children's book authors will have a captive audience at the 2012 Bologna Children's Book Fair. The second international show that every author should be participating in, is the 2012 London Book Fair.
2012 Bologna Children's Book Fair: Bologna, Italy-March 19-March 22, 2012Book Fair Dates: Bologna, Italy-March 19-March 22, 2012
The Bologna Book Fair is the oldest and most reputable international book fair focusing exclusively on children's books. Not only is opportunity abound because of the average attendance from over 67 countries, but with personnel including book publishers, distributors, packagers and printers, literary agents, TV and film producers and licensors, the opportunities presented by the Bologna Children's Book Fair seem endless. Located within the American Collective Stand, the Combined Book Exhibit offers the opportunity to have your books on display front and center for this diverse audience!
2012 The London Book Fair *New Title Showcase*: London, UK-April 16-April 18, 2012
While the 2010 London Book Fair saw its fair share of volcano-related adversity, 2011 was a return to form, and there's no reason why 2012 shouldn't continue the trend. Attendance generally reaches and exceeds 23 thousand people from 112 different countries, and the New Title Showcase (entering its sixth installment) is the most accessible and successful of all of London's official exhibits. The London Book Fair attendance includes book buyers, agents, publishers, editors, librarians, distributors and so many more, and the New Title Showcase (organized by Combined Book Exhibit) gives your books optimum exposure!
Each of these marketing packages includes:
- Displaying one (1) copy of your book at either the 2012 American Bologna Children's Book Fair OR the 2012 London Book Fair (if you want to participate in both book fairs, you must pay for each separately)
- Inclusion in the respective book fair printed and online catalog (2 years)
- Be included with the Infinity Publishing brand at the shows and in the show catalogs.
- Additional exposure in post-show Infinity Publishing blog posts with book title listing and link to your personal storefront.
Once you place your online order, you'll be taken to another page to register your information for the show catalog.
by Sherrie Wilkolaski
Everyone is talking about eBooks, but what about the new improved Audio book? Modern technology has given readers and listeners so many different ways to enjoy audio books. Remember when buying an audio book meant a series of cassette tapes, bundled in a box. The soft humming or crackling noise that was just faintly off in the distance, reminding you were listening to a tape. There was always the anxiety that you may hear the crunch of the tape being eaten up in your portable boom box.
Audio books have come a long way.
Today, technology makes it so easy for an author to publish an audio book; I just wonder why authors pass by this distribution and marketing opportunity, during the publishing process. Having an audio book, or at least a few chapters in audio format, will introduce your book to an entirely new audience. Many authors shy away from this option and not giving it much consideration. Think again.
I’m a big fan of putting your book into as many formats as possible, so while you’re mapping out your publishing plan, at least consider what an audio book can do to better help promote your book. According to the World Health Organization, “285 million people are visually impaired worldwide: 39 million are blind and 246 have low vision. About 65 % of all people who are visually impaired are aged 50 and older, while this age group comprises about 20 % of the world's population.” This target demographic is audio book friendly.
You can put an audio excerpt up on your website and let potential buyers get drawn into the book while surfing the web. An audio file can be sold in an audio bookstore, or as a podcast on a variety of different sites. Once you have the file, you can sell it as a whole or by chapter. There is so much flexibility once it is produced.
Advice on publishing your audio book.
My biggest piece of advice to any author looking to publish an audio book…have a professional do the recording. This means hiring talent to read your book. If you are not a professional radio announcer, you are better suited to let an expert do this job for you. It will create a better quality audio book.
Have you decided to take a look at publishing an audio book? Check out publishing with Infinity Publishing…
by Sherrie Wilkolaski
A good book review can go a long way in helping an author to sell more books. It doesn’t matter if your book is just getting ready to launch, if it’s been on the book shelf for years. Having a title that continues to get reviews…will continue to sell.
A steady stream of fresh book reviews, will show the longevity of your title.
How do you get book reviews?
Create your target list. Take the time to pull a list together of everyone you would like to have review your book. Include everyone you are sure you can get reviews from, like family and friends, then put together a hit list of colleagues and industry experts that you would like to put on your wish list.
Just ask. Most authors hesitate to ask friends, family and colleagues for book reviews, but he fact is if you don’t ask, you have less of a chance of getting reviews. So how do you ask and make it easy to gather reviews?
Write your own reviews. Yes, you read that correctly, but let me be clear…you’re doing this exercise to make it easier for others to contribute. Here is how it works:
Write an email or letter to your list of potential book reviewers. Tailor the letter based on who you’re addressing (i.e. family, friends, etc.) For family members make sure that you do not have them include reviews on Amazon, GoodReads and other sites that show a person’s full name, particularly if you have a unique last name. Those reviews will not help you.
Include three pre-written book reviews for an expert to choose from. You write up a list of different book reviews. Example, if you are going to reach out to 10 industry experts, you would write out 30 different book reviews so that you can provide three (3) unique book reviews to each of the 10 individuals. You do this because you want each review to be distinctive. You should let each person know that they are welcome to contribute their own original review, but that you have supplied them with three options to make it easier for them. This is an industry standard practice, so don’t be shy about it.
Send a thank you. Once you have confirmation in writing that your reviewers have provided you a review or signed-off on your hand-crafted endorsements, be sure to send them a personalized thank you. If you decide to use their review on the back cover of your book, be sure to mail them a hard copy of the book. Remind them that you would love to see their review posted up on Amazon or any other site that they frequent, like GoodReads, LibraryThing or their favorite online book haven.
Pre-publication. If your book is not yet published, you should start getting reviews as soon as your galley copy is ready. You want to go after reviewers even before your book goes to print and before it is available for distribution. You want to include credible reviews on the back cover of your book and in your marketing.
Book launch. As your book is launched, it is one of the best times to ask for and go after book reviews. Be sure to let your readers know that you welcome book reviews on your website and wherever your fans are.
Post publication. Even after your book has been out for a while you still want to continue to grow your reviews. It shows the value of your book over time and will encourage new readers to take a chance on a long-lasting title.
This is a must for any serious author. There is a huge value to having your book professionally reviewed, by an industry standard reviewer. This should be done, prior to publication. When you’re an independent publisher, you will have to pay for your review, but that is OK. There are several professional book review services that are reputable and industry recognized. I recommend using all professional review resources before your publication date, keep in mind that you need to do this several months in advance of publication.
Here are my top picks:
US Review of Books
Keep asking for those book reviews and don’t be shy about it!
If you’re looking for book exposure and recognition, why not consider entering submitting your book for an award. The Independent Publisher Book Awards (the “IPPYs”) are intended to bring increased recognition to the thousands of exemplary independent, university, and self-published titles published each year. The awards are open to all members of the independent publishing industry, and to authors and publishers worldwide who produce books written in English and intended for the North American market. Since the inaugural contest in 1996, over 4,500 books have received IPPY Awards, and all the recognition, credibility, and increased sales that a book award can bring. Independent spirit and expertise comes from publishers of all sizes and budgets, and books are judged with that in mind.
Announcing the 16th annual Independent Publisher Book Awards, honoring the year’s best independently published titles. Entries will be accepted until March 15th, 2012 for books with 2011 and 2012 copyrights or that are released in 2011 or early 2012.
The “IPPY” Awards were conceived as a broad-based, unaffiliated awards program open to all members of the independent publishing industry, and are open to authors and publishers worldwide who produce books written in English and intended for the North American market.
Good luck to all participants!
Open to independents worldwide who publish for the North American market
Books with 2011-2012 copyright or that are released between November 1, 2010 and March 15, 2012 are eligible
72 subject categories in National awards
Regional awards for the United States, Canada, and Australia and New Zealand
E-Book Awards with fiction, non-fiction, children’s and regional categories
Winners receive medals, certificates, and earn credibility, publicity — and increased book sales!
Click here for more details on registering.
Final entry deadline March 15, 2012
$95 per category until March 15, 2012, Just $45 to also enter the Regional and E-Book Awards.