Author Press Kits: A Few Ideas on How-To Make One and Why and When You Need One

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Author press kits. (Insert sigh here.) Of all the things a writer needs to do during a day! Tweet, Retweet, touch base on Facebook, pop into our respective writer’s groups, check and answer e-mails, blog, make sales charts, prepare a marketing strategy, do interviews, huff, puff, drink coffee, have five random nervous breakdowns, research, query, edit, publish and…oh, I almost forgot, actually WRITE…who has time to even figure out what a Press Kit IS, much less put one together? And it’s not like it’s really easy to find the information you need to put one together. I mean, it’s out there, hidden in the slush of all the other half-cocked information you find after an hour of digging. So I thought I’d write a blog covering the dreaded Press Kit – what it is, what it’s not, and when to use or not use one. When I’m done, the information will be yours to do with as one suits your goals and needs.

Q: So, what is a Press Kit?

A: Well, in short, it’s just a packet of information that represents an author. Not necessarily even a particular body of work, just the author themselves. Of course, bodies of work, professional experience, etc., are all included in the Kit.

Q: Why do you need a press kit?

A: Honestly, it’s debatable that you would. It depends on what you’re trying to accomplish and where you are seeking to be seen. In the life of an author, you will need a full bio almost constantly, but a press kit is a little different by nature. Remember the blog I wrote about branding and how once you publish a book, you become as much a product as your stories? That’s where a Press Kit comes in. For the times when you want to use it because you need to establish a complete package of yourself as a product or service. For instance, you might present an entire Press Kit to a publisher. Maybe, but probably only if they ask for one. But you would most likely want one if you were trying to land a speaking engagement or in the event that you were going to do a television and/or radio appearance. In my experience, they are not something you pop in the mail to somebody you’re cold querying. They are things that are delivered personally and almost always at the request of the recipient. 

**Note! A Press Release can be cold sent. A Press Release is just a page from your Press kit, however, and the two should not be confused. I’ll talk a little about Press Releases later in this blog.

Q: How should a Press Kit be packaged?

A: That’s a personal decision. I’ve known authors who had slick, glossy pocket folders made up with their book covers gracing the front, the inside stuffed with glossy photos and color printed bios. And that’s perfectly all right if you have the money to invest and you’re going to be handing them out on, let’s say, a book tour circuit. Certainly, you can go all out if you wish, but the quality of Press Kits can vary from the elaborate to a simple black and white printed sheets of paper with the information pertinent to the situation you’re trying the enter. It’s a matter of your personal taste, economic position and what you’re trying to achieve. Remember, creativity is a wonderful thing, and so is flair, but the Press Kit is about relaying information to the person you want to read it. Don’t be annoying and time consuming. Most people in the press are busy and until you’ve established a relationship with them, being over the top might work against you more than for you. Don’t distract from your point, which is to display your excellence, not your flamboyance.

Q: So what goes in a Press Kit?

A: Again, how you want to design your kit is a personal thing and there is certainly plenty of room to wiggle. There’s no real clear cut answer for that. There are two basic kits that I have used, both similar, and for the purpose of this blog, I’ll map the two of them out so you can see how you can switch them up. Also, don’t be afraid to redesign them as you go along to target a specific person. You should always research who you are contacting and make sure that you are speaking directly to THEM and the needs of their service. Then you can mutually benefit each other. It’s just good business.

 

So, getting to it, this is what goes in my PRESS KIT #1:

  1. A basic bio.

We’ve discussed author bios in previous blogs. You need three. You need a short one, no more than three lines and a medium one, no more than a paragraph. And then you need the big daddy one that gives all kinds of interesting tidbits on who you are. (Remember, the Author Bio is exactly that – an AUTHOR’s BIO – and has little to do with a particular book or project. It’s your opportunity to put a shine on yourself and catch the attention of the person you are trying to impress.

 

The Bio you choose to use in your Press Kit should unquestionably be angled for the specific person you are targeting. Don’t be afraid to write a new one or change it up depending on who that person is. For instance, if you are sending the material to an editor at your local paper, who you know is pressed for time; don’t hit him with a full page bio. Send him the blurb or short version. If you know the person you are soliciting is a bleeding heart radio host who likes to get to the core of creative people’s hearts, send her the long one. But always make sure you know something about the person you are contacting before you do it. You can’t get a piece of a busy person’s time by proving you’re willing to waste it to begin with.

Oh! And always include your contact information on your bio. This would include e-mail addresses, phone numbers, Twitter handle, Facebook, etc.. You can always drop a business card with the Press Kit, but those get lost in a heartbeat. It’s best to keep it all in one place, on one page, just in case.

 

**NOTE: REPEATING! ALWAYS KNOW WHO YOU ARE GIVING YOUR PRESS KIT TO. YOU DON’T WANT IT IN THE GARBAGE THE MINUTE YOU TURN YOUR BACK.

 

  1. A Professional Looking Author Headshot.

 “But…but…but…I’m a freaking writer! I don’t need to look good!”

Au contraire! You WANT to look as professional as you can. You don’t have to be gorgeous, but nobody is going to invite a greasy haired, mustard stained shirt wearing hobo dude to their television station for an on-air interview! And the truth is that they probably aren’t going to want you in their radio station, either, if they think they’ll probably smell you from the sidewalk. Nor will they invite you to speak at their Author’s Night or ask you to be a guest at one of their Book Discussion Dinners. It’s OK to write a novel in your jams. Gosh, we all do that! But put on at least a nice shirt and comb your hair for your head shot. And don’t hide your face behind your hands or a book. People want to see who they’re going to be talking to. It’s sad that the world is so judgmental and will ignore brilliance over cosmetic appeal, but they will. Give yourself every chance you have to succeed.

**NOTE: It’s usually all right to have your Headshot right on the same page as the bio, printed out flyer style. Rarely will anybody ask for an 8×10 glossy from an author and it might be laughable if you put one in. If you have one printed separately, that might be all right, depending, but keep it on regular paper.  Nobody expects you to be a model, unless you are.

 

  1. Book information.

Chances are that you are promoting your latest title. You, of course, want to sell this information. It’s your product, after all, and your ticket to glory, fame and fortune! So make sure you have the right information included. This would include anything and everything someone would need to know to find your book…ANYWHERE…i.e., full title, author’s name, publisher (if you have one), publishing date, and your ISBN.. It’s a really good idea to have a photo of the book cover on the book information page. Color is magnificent, but if you’re pinched for pennies, black and white will do.  You can also include reviews and editorial endorsements, other press releases and links or locations to where your work can be purchased.

 

**NOTE: Be sure to include your contact info on this page as well. In fact, thinking about it, it’s not a terrible idea to add it to EVERY page, as long as it’s not obnoxious.

 

  1. Other Public Information.

This is the page where you can add the other things you do. Do you do seminars about writing or another subject? Do you edit? Do you teach? Do you have professional endorsements? Satisfied clients? This is the place to tout them. It’s also the place to tout any other accomplishments you have and any other work you’ve produced. Be sure to include previous publishers, pending contracts, etc.. Remember, you are a product, just like your books. Sell yourself every chance you have. Charm their little socks off their tiny feet.

 

  1. Bookmarks and/or postcards.

I have heard mixed reviews on these two things being included in a Press Kit. Bookmarks are always nice for readers. They’re fairly cheap to print and you can get a ton of them. They’re nice to pass out, but do they buy you air time or a speaking engagement? I don’t know. I don’t think I’m qualified to answer, but they are a bit of swag that could be considered generous. Postcards, on the other hand, you can pre-address to yourself with postage, requesting that the recipient respond to you via the “enclosed postcard”, giving them the opportunity to jot a note and not leave you waiting forever, wondering if they even opened your kit. They may send it back to you, they may not. Of course, you can treat it like a throw away post card and just consider it a gift to them for taking a few moments of their time. Again, I can’t speak to the effectiveness of post cards with a Press Kit, but it’s something to consider if you’re inclined in the direction of having them. Most postcards have the book cover on one side. Many are not intended for mailing at all and simply have the book/author information printed on the non-picture side. And some, especially for authors who have a lot of public speaking engagements, sport the author’s photo as opposed to any book cover. Again, it’s a matter of what you’re trying to achieve.

And this is what I put in my Author Press Kit #2:

  1. Table of Contents

 This is exactly what it sounds like, a quick reference for the recipient to use if he/she is only looking for specific information.

 

  1. The pitch

The dreaded pitch! Ugh! This is your letter, tailored to the specific person to whom you are sending your kit. Be so, so careful with your pitches; make sure that you are touching on the very specific things you can offer the individual or organization you are contacting. The pitch you send to a radio station will not be the same as the one you send to a television studio, nor will the pitch you write to a book store be the same as the one you write to a Writer’s Group seeking speakers for their annual convention. Take your time with these. They are your ticket through the door to exposure or a one way crapslide into oblivion. One thing you can find plenty of good advice for free on the internet is how to write a decent pitch, so do your research. Practice. Find your groove and go get ’em.

    3. Biography

For this kit, I tend to use the long biography. Really sell yourself, make the person looking at your material see you as somebody they want to know, somebody interesting that they’d like to introduce to their friends.  Be sure to tout your credentials here, too, and make yourself as authentic as possible. Don’t show off, but be confident and let them know who you are and what the stuff of what you do is all about and made of.

    4. Book Excerpt

Showcase yourself. I wouldn’t put a chapter in here, but a nice chunk, a couple of paragraphs where your writing is sharp and eloquent. Give them a taste of what you have to offer. Hook ‘em.

  1. Q and A’s

If you’ve ever had a Q and A session, say on Goodreads, they’re great when you’re doing an expanded Press Kit. Print one off and add it in. Why not? It shows you’re active and have established a rapport with your readers…and that your readers care to discuss what they’ve read of your work with you.

 

  1. Book Reviews

ONLY THE GOOD ONES! Put them here! The glorious, the shining, the over the top, the best of the best…the ones written by your drooling, maniacal, screaming public, the ones by fans that pull on your clothes as you try to make your way through the supermarket aisles… THOSE REVIEWS! Forget the balance between good and evil, forget any modesty on this page. GLORIFY!!! But keep it to a few. After about three, your recipient gets the idea that you are, indeed, a literary God, and needs no further proof.

    7. Your latest Press Release.

This kind of opens a whole new can of worms, since I really didn’t talk about press releases, so I’ll write one up real quick for you to give you an idea of what you need:

“JoJo “Biggie” McSqueaky’s career in literature began in 1976 with him taking over the school newsletter. This led him to a position at the local paper writing columns and reviews, eventually leading him to Northwestern University where he studied English and Computer Graphics, as well as Art and Photography.

Teaming up with three of his classmates, he went on to write the Screenplay for the smash underground hit film “Heads up, 7 Up!” and after graduating, went on to work for the New York Times as a proofreader, later working his way up the ladder to Editor in Chief.

He is a freelance author and is currently releasing his first novel, Cheetah’s on Crack, in August, 2014.”

OK, so that’s a crappy press release, but it’s 5 in the morning and I’m out of coffee. You get the idea. Examples of Press Releases are also all over the internet. They’re easy to find and show templates of how to put them together. so if you want a good one, do a google search and you’ll see how they’re done for real. They’re honestly a piece of cake. 

    8. Author Photo

Again, don’t shy away from a professional photo. I’ve had editors run an immediate article on me, using the photo from my kit. Of course, the photo can be either black and white or color, glossy or not. But if you do have a sort of lower quality kit, make sure that your contact information is on the page with the photo so if they want a better copy you can be contacted quickly. And, respond quickly! Editors are busy people and they are always being contacted. Believe me, they will pass you by and go on to somebody else if you make them wait too long.

      9. Book Cover Photo

Follow the same approach with your book cover photo as you did your author photo. It’s all really simple stuff. 

 

OK, so those are the two kits that I have used in my career. You can switch them up to suit you, of course, but you get the basic idea. It’s a good idea to keep a hard copy on disk of everything you’ll need. That way in the event that a Press Kit is requested or you have use of one, you can run over to your local Kinko’s and print one off in a couple of minutes. It’s also not a terrible idea to have a copy for download off of your website. Don’t be afraid to walk into a print shop and ask the guy behind the counter what other people are doing, either. Ask around. Look around. Do your research. Put together a masterpiece deserving of your time and attention. This is about you and your work. Don’t sell yourself short with your Press Kit or anywhere else in your career. You worked hard to write you book. You deserve success. Go get it, but do it the right way.

I hope this little blog helps clear up some questions or confusions. There are also many services that offer custom made Press Kits, so I wouldn’t suggest shying off of them if it’s in your budget to have somebody put something together for you. Another blog to check out for good information and a different take is http://www.girl-who-reads.com/2013/08/author-media-kit-components.html.

Keep in mind, while a Press Kit isn’t something that you might use every day, it’s another very handy, professional tool, and it’s another weapon in your arsenal. It can be time consuming and expensive depending on how you do it, but if you’re ever asked to produce one, it is also priceless to have on hand.

How book reviews are like one-night stands

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So, how many of you have had that walk of shame? Come on… everyone has had a bit too much to drink at the bar and ended up leaving with someone who… well… just doesn’t do it for them once the sun comes up. It’s almost like we are vampires at times with our choices. Solve the need for now and worry about the morning in the morning.

But since we all have been there… yes, I mean you too… there are some lessons that we can learn as writer-marketers from that one-night stand and the walk of shame. So, last night, you were out with your friends, drinking, dancing and putting the moves on the hottest, most interesting members of the opposite sex. Not finding the greatest luck with them, you decided to change your tactics and shoot for a different level, while increasing the amount of drinking and dancing. The drinking helped to lower your standards and by the end of the night, after kissing a bunch of frogs, you found an eligible – that’s a better word for willing, right? – partner and left for the night. You noticed as you were walking out the door, your friends were all trying to get your attention so you didn’t leave with your chosen suitor, but what did they know. You had spent some time talking to them, some time dancing with them and now it was time to go. Continue reading

The Art of Seducing a Reader

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I was challenged one day by some of my soon to be fraternity brothers to pick up a woman in a bar one night. I was a headstrong, full of confidence nineteen year old that couldn’t lose. I had the charm to be able to smooth my way into any relationship I wanted, but my brothers knew that, so they added one condition.

“Put a bag over your head and find her,” they said to me laughing. Well, that made things a bit harder…

That night, after being liquefied at the fraternity house, we all left for the bar and found our way inside. I was allowed to take one long look around the bar before the bag was placed over my head and pushed into the crowds of drunken students. Over the course of the next few hours, I stumbled into many people, making apologies, trying to explain why I was wearing a bag in a bar, but nothing seemed to guide me towards a woman that I could even talk to much less get a phone number from.

Sadly, this is also how many authors go about marketing their books to potential readers. They are not looking for the audience that would be interested, rather they are looking for anyone who reads a book. Continue reading

Secrets Revealed #4: Your Goodreads Book Page

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Welcome to the blog explaining the confusing, the hidden, and the very important things for an author to know about Goodreads page content. This one is about your Book Page. You would think that the Goodreads book page, dedicated to your book, would be the primary and most important page you own on the site. Yeah, you’d think it, but it’s not so much true. I mean, it’s got some really good stuff on it, but it’s more for your readers than it is for you. However, there are some pretty cool little bits on there and there are definitely some things you need to know are there and how to use. There are also giant, gaping holes, repeat links, and amazing amounts of “Wha’ da fffff…?!” So here I am again, tap…tap…tapping away at the keys in an effort to shed some light on the mystery that is Goodreads.

We’ll start again with the left side and work our way down.  You may want to open your Goodreads Book Page in a different window and refer to it from time to time as you read. The Book Page is just as cluttered as any other and sometimes describing it can be confusing to if you can’t clarify what I’m telling you by sight.

OK, getting started. The first thing you will see on your Book Page is your book cover, up on the far left upper corner. If you hover your mouse over it, you will see it gives you two options. The first is “Other Editions”. If you click this, it takes you to a page where every edition of the book in question is listed. At the top, you may click your title to return to the Book Page or click your name to go to your Author Page. If you go directly across from your name, you will see “Expand Details.” Clicking that will take you to all the legal details of your work, ie, your Publishing Date and Publisher, which edition, how many pages, the ASIN or ISBN, the published language for the edition, and the average rating. Just below that, you’ll see that you can sort these editions by type by clicking on drop down box beside “Format”. To the right of that, you can sort again by things like title, original publishing date, general publishing date, average rating, number of ratings and format.  Look just below that and you will see how you rated the book. If you look down under your book information, you will see “more detail.” Click that and it shows you exactly what it does if you clicked “Expand Details” at the top.  Below that is a box where you can choose how many books you would like to display per page.

Now, all of that might be a little by the way, but on the right side of the page, above a paid advert, you will see two choices worth knowing how to use. The first is “Combine Editions”. This is to be used when EXACT duplicates of a book have been entered into the system, as in somebody comes in after you and puts your book into the system a second time. Combining editions makes it so that the ratings and details of the book are applied to only one book that exists in the system. Be very careful using this. You will have more than one listing of each book if you have more than one type, or edition, of the book. (Paperback, hard cover, e-book, etc., are all considered different editions and should not be combined as one book, even if the contents are identical. Don’t ever combine two different editions as one will lose all of the reviews, lists, ratings, etc., and disappear from the site.)

Beside the name of the book, you will see “details”. Hover over it and it will show you the same info, yet again, that you saw when you clicked “Expand Details” or “more detail” on the previous page. Beside that is “Edit”, which will take you to the page where you can add all the details for your book and set your metadata.

Below “Combine Editions”, you will see “Add A New Edition”. This is where you want to put the information for your book when it comes out in paperback, or audio book. You simply fill out all the information you did when you submitted the first edition, meaning title, number of pages, ISBN, synopsis, etcetera.

It seems we’ve gone a long way only to return to the photo of you book cover, but back we go. Still hovering on the cover, you will see the other option, which is “Enlarge Cover”. This does simply what it says. Click it and you get to see a larger version of the cover.

Now, directly below the cover photo is an innocent looking little box that does more than it seems it would at a glance. You will see It gives you an opportunity to mark your book as “Read”, “Currently Reading” or “Want to Read.” Choosing one of these will simply put your book on that shelf.  It’s a way or organizing you online book collection. However, there is a twist with this little box that you may never notice.

Look to the right of the white area and you will see a green box that looks like it has 3 books on it. Click that and you will get a drop down menu. You’ll see the same “Read”, “Currently Reading” and “Want to Read” choices, but if you look at the bottom, there is a place where you can add books to shelves. That is to say, if you want all of your romance books separated from your SciFi, you can label your book right there as one or the other. It’s good for a lot of reasons. For an author, it helps to have many people put your book into a specific category because it helps readers find your work.  But it’s also nice because if you’re just looking for something to read while you’re babysitting Polly and Junior, you can click on your Children’s Book shelf and pick a title quickly, rather than scrolling through pages of unorganized literature.

OK, now let’s go back to the top, just to the right of the Cover Image. You’ll see the title of your book and just below it, your name will be highlighted. Clicking on the highlighted name will bring you to your author page. Right beside that, you’ll see “Rating Details.” This is kind of interesting, even though I can tell you first hand that not all the information is accurate as far as the numbers they give you in the break down (or at least not on my page). But anyway, click on that and it gives you hard numbers, like the number of 5 stars, 4 stars, etc., you have and it breaks it down to a percentage.  At the very bottom, you’ll see the percentage of people who liked your work, as well as a break down of your author dashboard information; average rating, number of ratings, reviews, how many people added and how many people have you on their to-read.

To the right of the “Rating Details”, it give you your number of Ratings and Reviews. Click either of those and it will take you directly to either choice.

Below that is your Book Synopsis, where you can click “More” at the bottom if yours is too long to fit in the space provided. Below that is another little box of information, which included which edition of book you’re looking at, how many pages the book is, who published it, and whom it was published by. Beneath that you will see the ASIN number given by Goodreads or the ISBN, the edition language, and the other editions that exist, should there be any. Beneath that, you can click on “All Editions” to see every edition of the book listed on Goodreads, “Add a New Edition”, where you can, obviously, add new editions, and “Combine Editions”, again, where you can combine editions as I described above.

Now, here’s a tricky little dude. Look in the lower right hand corner of this section. Theoretically, you should see a barely visible little tab that says, “Edit Details.” If you click that, you’ll see a tab that says “Edit Book”. This is where you can change your book information, your synopsis, etc., add an ISBN or add award information if you have it. Off to the right of “Edit Details” is “Show Metadata”. This is the all important thing we talked about in a previous blog. You MUST add your metadata in order to be easily located in the Goodreads database! Once this is done, you have the potential to be added to “Recommendations”, so DO THIS! And then have your friends and readers second your choices, or even add their own. This option can be used on any book, not just your own, so USE IT!! It’s vital to being visible in a very cluttered, competitive jungle of authors.

Below that, you’ll see “Get a Copy” with three tabs as to where to find your book. I’ve heard some authors say that their tabs work great and lead readers straight to their work. I’ve heard others say they don’t work at all. As for me, two of mine work. If you click on “more” it takes you to a page that says, “Compare Prices”. Mine doesn’t work at all, but I can surmise that if it did, it would show the price of the book on various sites, which would be of benefit for comparison shoppers.

Now, the next spot on the road to the bottom of the Good Reads Book page is “My Review”, where an author can actually review their own book. It seems counter-intuitive, non? Well, do it anyway, because it’s a chance for you to connect with your reader. You don’t have to be all arrogant and say, “This is the best SciFi book EVAR! It makes Dune look like a freaking joke!” but you sure can say something that shows how genuine you are. “I give this book five stars because, not only did I write it, but I lived it,” is an example of something that could work. Or, “I had to give Amazing, Blazing Love Machine five stars. It is close to my heart because I was in a relationship with a handsome pirate and I ruined it by being seasick all of the time. Lizzy, the main character, is the woman I wish I had been and, through her, I healed my broken heart. I hope you enjoy reading my book as much as I did writing it.” See how that works? Branding, Folks, branding! And, if you write something you think stinks, you can always edit it using the link in the lower right corner of the section.

Below those, you will see your “Friend Reviews.” These are just the reviews left by people you have on your Goodreads Friends lists, as well as the list of friends who have marked your books to read. If you click on the date to the right, it will take you to that review.  If you hover your mouse on the review, you will see the word “flag” appear in the lower left side of the review. This is where you can report abuse by a reviewer. It doesn’t mean Goodreads will do anything about it, they allow their guidelines to be trounced on every day of the year, even Christmas, but, hey, you never know. They might.

Beneath “Friend Reviews” is “Recommend book”, where you can choose to send 100 of your Goodreads Friends a message suggesting that they read that particular book.

Below the Friend Reviews is also “Lists With This Book”. This is where the Listopia lists your book is on will appear, if you are on any lists. You will see two books there, but if you look in the lower right corner and click “More Lists With this Book”, you will see all of the lists the book is on. Some books have none, some have a few, and some have many.

Beneath that are the “Community Reviews”, which will include both your Friend Reviews (Yes, again.) and the reviews of non-friends who are readers of your work. A cool little trick of this page is that you can choose which reviews you want to read by looking right under the header. You can click on 5 star, 4 star, etc., reviews to narrow down your focus. You can also choose to see the newest ones first, either in a certain star category or not, and you can see your Rating Details again, if you wish.

**NOTE! It’s very important as an author to always have your best reviews at the top of your page. Clicking “Like” on your 4 and 5 star reviews will move them to the top of the heap. The more people like a review, the higher it goes, so don’t let the bad ones be seen first. Always click “Like” if you get a good one, and always click “Like” on other author’s reviews if you read a good one.

Below that, you will see “Discuss this book” where you can begin a discussion on your work, or see the other discussions on Goodreads where they are talking about your work.

Now, we’re going back to the very tippy top of the page and we’re going to cover the right hand side of the page, which shouldn’t take long. That’s a good thing since your eyes are probably bleeding by now. Anyhoo, at the top right, you ‘ll see your “Author Dashboard”. I dedicated an entire blog to the Author Dashboard, so if you want to learn to use it, you can refer to that.

Below “Author Dashboard”, you will see recommendations as to books yours is similar to. Pretty cool, really. Your meta-data answers will help hook you up with those, too. Below that, of course, is a paid advert, and below that are your Genre Shelves. Remember when I talked about choosing/creating those at the start of this blog? Well, when people add you to them, this is where they’ll appear on your page for people to judge whether your book sounds good enough to read. They’re great for branding. Below that is “More About (Author Name)”. It’s a tiny blurb about YOU and if you click the “More About…” tab at the bottom of it, it will redirect you to the Author Page.

Below that, more paid adverts. Below that is “Share This Book” with quick links to Twitter, G+ and Pinterest. Below that is any trivia anybody’s posted about your book. And, finally, below that, are quotes from your book.

And that, Ladies and Gents, is your Goodreads Book Page in a nutshell. I’ll be back with another blog soon covering all the functions of your Goodreads Task Bar and how to use those. After that, you should be pretty well set, but I might uncover some other hidden jewel in the clutter. Who knows? In the meanwhile, you have the information and the power to use Goodreads to your advantage. Use it wisely, use it well, avoid the pitfalls, ignore the trolls, and make your dreams come true.

Wal-Mart or Macy’s – Which One Are You?

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There is a reason that marketers get paid the big bucks – we know how to position and market your product for the highest return. There is also a reason that 99% of us hate to compete based on price – because the next guy that comes along at 10 cents cheaper is going to steal our customer. That is capitalism at its finest. It doesn’t matter if the product is better or not, if the price fits, the consumer will buy.

Why do they buy? Because you haven’t given them a reason to stay with your product, in this case your book. And therein lies the rub… Continue reading

So I Think I Need a Website, But What Do I Put on It?

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A few weeks back, we started our journey into the world of author branding and marketing. Our first couple of posts took a casual look at the how we have all become brands now, whether we like it or not, and we took our first steps into the world of author marketing with a post on why every author needs a website. If you haven’t read the previous two posts, please do take a moment to skim through them.

Before I continue our journey, I have to do a bit of shameless promotion for my newly released debut novel, Agency Rules – Never an Easy Day at the Office. If you enjoy spy, espionage, or political thrillers, you have to read this book. If you enjoy action, adventure and military stories, you have to read this book. If you just want to have a fast-paced, interesting read… you guessed it… you have to read this book. What’s it about? Three words – Terrorism, Taliban and Pakistan. Yes, it’s shameless, but hey, it’s the marketing part of the business, and I am shameless about promoting.

There are things that you have to remember when it comes to promoting your work to potential readers – don’t annoy them to the point where they shut off to your work. What? Remember, we are all operating in the digital world now. The bookstore signings aren’t as regular as they are for the traditional publishers, nor are the chapter readings at the libraries and bookstores. 90% of our marketing is either on websites, Facebook or twitter so we have to be extremely careful about how we promote our work. This is why that pesky author website is so important. So let’s get to that question that I asked in the beginning… Continue reading

SECRETS REVEALED #3: Your Goodreads Author Dashboard

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The Author Dashboard on Goodreads bears some merit with a blog of its own, as it is riddled with ammo you might overlook if you don’t take the time to really inspect it. At first glance, it looks self-explanatory, even easily disregarded. It’s a sort of guidebook to the success and attention your book is receiving on the site, but like all things on Goodreads, it has larger value and tremendous potential, moreso than what may meet the eye at a glance. In this blog, I’ll go over each section of it and tell you the how, why’s, how’s and must do’s, and I’ll let you know what’s reliable and what’s not.

When you first log into Goodreads, it will take you to your home page. The home page doesn’t really require any explanation, but if you look to the upper right of the page, you’ll see “Author Dashboard” and your book cover with the number of people who added the book, rated it and reviewed it. Below all of that and slightly to the right, you’ll see “View Your Dashboard”. That’s what you want to click to follow along on this blog.

When you click on that link, you will find yourself on a page that is dedicated to your over-all Author Dashboard information. Personally, I use this page every single day, just as a way to keep tabs on what’s happening with my Goodreads progress. It’s a heck of a lot quicker than poking around page to page to look for what’s changed overnight.  Let’s start, as usual, by covering the left side of the page and moving downward. Continue reading