Blog 158The dos and don’ts of organizing and conducting book signings

Book signings are a fantastic way to create buzz, market your book, gain readers, and strengthen your platform. However, there is a right and a wrong way to organize and conduct book signings. Here, we’ll explore some of the dos and don’ts of organizing and conducting your book signings.

Do: Make sure there are enough copies of the books available.

If you’re able to, bring your own books, or make sure that the bookseller has ordered enough copies for the number of people who are expected to attend. After all, the bookseller’s goal for the signing is to sell more copies. Your goal is to boost your platform.

Don’t: Come empty handed.

It’s difficult to have a successful signing with no books to sign.

Do: Market the event yourself.

Post on social media in the weeks before the event. Making a Facebook event page is a great way to generate buzz.

Don’t: Expect turnout without doing any promotion first.

It’s going to take more than a few posters at the bookseller’s location to create a guest list.

Do: Give books away to reviewers, those who might hire you to speak, and media.

Giving books away to the right people is a great way to invest in future opportunities, and increase your chances of being advertised in the media. Who knows, a reporter might even write a glowing book review. In a future blog we’ll talk about giving books away as a means of increasing your platform.

Don’t: Give books away to friends and family.

While it’s tempting to share the fruits of your labor with your loved one at no cost to them, doing so is cutting yourself off from a significant profit area. In addition, if you give your book away, in effect, you’re telling your friends and family what you think it’s worth.

Do: Bookmark and practice a section of your book to read aloud.

This should be a part of the book that you’re proud of and feel confident reading aloud.

Don’t: Turn to the first page and “wing it.”

Readers are always going to start reading on the first page. They came to see you in person for a reason–they want to learn more about you. Confidently reading a meaningful passage of your book is a great way to give them what they want.

Do: Explore the space.

Interact with readers and other writers if they are in the same venue.

Don’t: Be a sitting duck.

You’ll be sending the wrong message. Sitting without engaging readers is a surefire way to let readers know you don’t care about being approached.

Do: Bring a sign-up sheet for a mailing list.

Book signings are a great opportunity for you to market your book, and create a following. We call this following your platform. Continue marketing your book to attendees by following up with them via social media and email. Simply put adding to your email mailing list is your main purpose for a book signing.

Don’t: Come unprepared for a follow-up plan.

If you haven’t already created an online marketing plan, complete with website and social media pages, you are drastically limiting your marketing efforts. Your point for book signings is not to sell more books—it’s to help establish and increase your personal brand.

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Blog 157If you want to sell your book, you must become a marketing expert. Here’s how.

If you’re a writer, you probably feel like writing and marketing are worlds apart. While writers toil away at keyboards, reach into their inner selves and ignite each page with sparks of emotion and inspiration, marketers are more formulaic, strategically communicating with the masses whittled down and sell-able versions of your masterpieces. It’s a simple case of left brain versus right brain. Creativity versus logic.

Right?

Actually, writing and marketing are two sides of the same coin–if you want to sell your book, you’re going to have to learn how to do both.

Assuming you have already published your book, here’s why you have to become an expert at marketing, too.

Marketing starts at inception

Marketing requires creativity the same way that writing requires structure. Perhaps it’s less than romantic to recognize the planning that goes into constructing your book. After all, it’s important to have a purpose for writing your book other than success. However, there are preliminary steps you can take to create a more marketable piece.

Before you even start writing your book, think about how to answer the question, “what is your book about?” If it takes more than one sentence to answer your question, or worse, if your answer is “it’s not really about anything,” you need to revise your plan. Granted, this step takes time to get right and condensing your ideas can be potentially overwhelming. To help, practice talking to others about your book. The more concise your answer gets, the more likely you are to pique their interest and gain a future reader.

Your book should add something new to the zeitgeist

The second question you should ask yourself is, “why are you writing this book?” While the answer to this second question can be answered in pages, the important thing to consider is that you 1. have a reason and 2. have a good reason. Simply put, your book needs to be relevant to both yourself and others.

Read contemporary books often and follow current trends. Saving interesting articles and even keeping up with popular shows is a great way to get inspired and learn what is marketable.

Network, network, network

After you’ve published your ultra-relevant book, it’s time to network, network, network. Unlike the old days when you had to go door-to-door to be heard, you now have access to the worldwide web. Create a website for your book, and post periodically to social media. Follow others on professional sites such as LinkedIn, and follow up with connections regularly. Most importantly, don’t give up–even famous authors like JK Rowling and Stephen King were rejected multiple times before finding success.

At Publication Consultants we call this building your platform. Some folks refer to this as your brand. It doesn’t matter too much what label you put on the process, but to paraphrase an old adage; the more marketing you do the luckier you will become.

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Blog 156Everything new authors need to know about avoiding costly and devious predators in publishing

You’ve written a piece you are proud of and now you’re ready to publish and promote. Congratulations! Unfortunately, there are a number of scams that will be out to get you now that you have pages to introduce to the world. All too often, novice writers will fall victim to wasting valuable time and money on fraudulent services in hopes of improving their chances of success.

Here, we’ll explore three common publishing scams and how to avoid them.

Scam #1: Vanity Publishers

The scam: A vanity publisher demands money from you up front. They usually promise you editorial and marketing services, and tell you that you’ll earn back the money you invest in no time. In a best case scenario, you walk away breaking even. In the worst case scenario, they just take money and your work never even gets published.

How to avoid it: A reputable publisher gives you options or will not charge to publish your work. Be sure to do extensive research on any publisher that approaches you, or that you approach. A good test of a publisher’s integrity is to do a Google search typing in the name of the publisher followed by the words, scam and/or legal. Follow sage-old advice: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Scam #2: Fake agents

The scam: You find someone (or someone finds you) who offers their services as a literary agent. They charge you manuscript evaluation and/or editing fees upfront, and may even offer you editorial advice that can be harmful to your manuscript.

How to avoid it:  Real agents will never charge you fees for manuscript evaluation or editing, or even offer editorial services to begin with. A legitimate agent will expect payment after the books have been sold–not upfront. Keep in mind that anyone can be a literary agent. You read that correctly. Literary agents don’t require special licenses or qualifications. So, do your research. Look for reviews on Google, their LinkedIn, and review their website before moving forward.

Scam #3: Fake Contests

The scam: Vanity publishers and fake agents are often behind this scam–they post “contests” and promise that winners will receive publications and editorial services in exchange for a steep entry fee. These “contests” are easy to win, and add little to your reputation. Another type of fake contest scam is the “contest mill” scam. Contest mills will incessantly post contests and charge a large reading fee.

How to avoid it: While legitimate contests do often charge reading fees, they are appropriately priced– anywhere between $5 and $25 to enter. Be wary of any contest asking for an entrance fee above $40 or of contests that are posted too often. In addition, research the reputation of contests before submitting your work.

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Meaning Not FameWriting from the heart produces better books—period.

Picture fame. What does it look like? Money? A placard with your name on it? A shoutout in Publisher’s Weekly? Bragging to strangers at parties? Try to read the first page of the book that got you there. Can you?

Probably not.

Now, picture the first page of your favorite novel. Think first of the setting, the plot, and the characters. Fill in the details of the opening scene–for example, the winter air turning a child’s cheeks pink, the not-so-distant dinner stewing on his mother’s stove, the faint growling of a tiny tummy. Think about the author writing that scene. Imagine why they wrote it. Were they hungry at the time? Cold? Nostalgic about their childhood?

Feel your heart beating in your chest? That’s what writing your own book should be like–and with good reason.

It takes more than “wanting to be a famous writer” or “wanting to make money” to actually write a “good” book. In fact, wanting to make money is probably the worst reason to write a book. After all, according to a 2004 Nielsen Bookscan report, only 25,000 books out of 1.2 million books tracked sold more than 5,000 copies. That’s a success rate of around just 2 percent. According to Publisher’s Weekly in 2006, the average book sells less than 500 copies.

Grim statistics aside, there is an indescribable feeling that comes with writing from the heart. Not only will you be more motivated to write if you are enjoying the content and find an actual meaning in the words outside of fame or fortune, your book will probably be better for it.

Consider A.A. Milne, author of the famous Winnie-the-Pooh children’s books. Following the age-old advice to “write what you know,” Milne modeled the character of Christopher Robin after his own son. While one might imagine Milne was overjoyed by the response to his Pooh books, the truth was actually quite the opposite. He actually loathed the idea of writing more due to popular demand. He was adamant that he had no intention of producing any unoriginal manuscripts because one of his sources of inspiration, his son, was growing older. Milne went on to write many more Screenplays, poetry, and story collections after writing his four Winnie-the-Pooh books. Simply put, he wrote for meaning, not fame.

When writing your own book, think about something that inspires you or a question you want to know the answer to. Perhaps it’s a problem that you’ve dealt with for many years, or a challenge that you have overcome. Whatever the topic is, your writing will benefit if it comes from the heart.

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SuccessWe’ve been taking a hard look at what makes a successful author. Of course the first thing we did was to try and define success and discovered again that success is a personal thing and one definition doesn’t fit everyone; however, the exercise brought to mind the definition given by Earl Ninghtingale, “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.”  We trust that the works we accept for publishing are the result of an author’s worthy ideal.

Given this definition, here are our thoughts on what successful authors do:

They Know Their Genre

Successful authors research and write content to reach readers in a niche where the author has interest and expertise. Learning where to find and connect with niche readers takes diligence and tenacity—traits common with successful authors.

They Take Calculated Risks.

The business of authorship is in flux. New technologies and platforms are constantly emerging. Successful authors are willing to try something new. They know that, even if things don’t work out the way they planned, it may take a few failures to reach their goals.

They Remember Why They Write

Successful authors are seldom in it just for fame and wealth. Their passion drives them to write the best content they know how. Their passion drives them to do what they do best—write! They write blogs, emails, social media posts, and articles for publications in their niche.

They Put In The Time

Successful authors work hard: book launches, audience development, social media campaigns, and content delivery. Successful authorship doesn’t just happen—it’s the result of hours spent writing, researching, planning, communicating, and developing their author platform.

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As an author, the social media and social networking world can be mind-boggling. Do you use Facebook? Twitter? LinkedIn? All of the above? Many argue that LinkedIn better serves business authors, but in reality LinkedIn’s social networking platform can be useful for every author.

Since its 2003 launch, LinkedIn has become the world’s largest online professional network. With a presence in over 200 countries and territories, members of the social networking platform can interact with nearly five hundred million registered users from across the globe. According to LinkedIn, more than four million of those users are businesses that have created LinkedIn Company Pages. A Company Page is often the right option for an author, as they are good way to share book announcements, upcoming events, and quick tips and updates with your audience, and also lend credibility to the new author.

Despite its corporate trimmings, LinkedIn is much like any other social networking platform in that it creates a space for the author to get their message or story out to a broader audience resulting in lead generation within the platform. However, unlike Facebook, the social media site can also help improve search results generally. Links to your booksellers’ sites, personal website, blog, and other social media output on your LinkedIn Company Page and in shared content count toward the Google search algorithm, so sharing links on your LinkedIn page improves your online visibility overall.

Another way to improve visibility and gain credibility is to get involved with one of the many Groups on LinkedIn. There are thousands of public and private LinkedIn Groups, but if a group dedicated to your area of interest doesn’t exist, it’s easy to start a new one! LinkedIn users can join up to 50 LinkedIn Groups, so the only real limitation on participation is your time. Members of LinkedIn Groups tend to be very active, so these online spaces are a good place to get an answer from an expert and to network with like-minded people. Sharing announcements for events and upcoming books with a Group can also be effective. Sometimes you can even solicit reviews and recommendations on LinkedIn Groups, but be sure to adhere to the social policies and rules of the Group.

LinkedIn can help the new author gain credibility, develop an audience, and get connected in the publishing industry, but to use LinkedIn successfully there are a few Best Practices guidelines to remember when getting started:

LinkedIn Best Practices

1) Keep link titles under 70 characters.

Lengthy titles get cut off when posted, so be sure to click into the link title to edit it before posting to your LinkedIn Company Page.

2) Keep link descriptions under 250 characters.

Similar to the link title limitations, the description associated with your status update is limited to 250 characters before being cut off with an ellipsis.

3) Share links for engagement.

According to QuickSprout, including a link in your LinkedIn posts doubles engagement!

4) Share images for comments.

According to QuickSprout, including images in updates results in a 98% higher comment rate.

5) Share videos for shares.

According to QuickSprout, linking to videos on YouTube or other video sharing sites results in a 75% higher share rate.

6) Publish a new status update roughly once a day.

According to LinkedIn, publishing about 20 posts per month allows you to reach 60% of your audience reliably.

7) Convert page fans with offers.

While you have to strike a nice balance between private and public content on all social networks, LinkedIn is a little different. Our data shows that LinkedIn is 277% more effective for lead generation than Facebook and Twitter. LinkedIn users are more welcoming to promotional content — so long as the content truly is valuable to them.

8) Send LinkedIn Announcements.

LinkedIn announcements can serve as a powerful tool in increasing your LinkedIn lead generation. On the days we send an announcement from a LinkedIn Group, we see a spike in leads for the day. We also see the impact of that send trickle over the next day or two. While creating your own group is an option, you’ll need to nurture a strong following to start generating leads from the announcements. Another option is to engage in a set number of groups and then find a way to use one of the group’s announcements for your own (relevant) marketing.

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SF-Fiction-RavensCoveSometimes a salesmen may remark, “It just came in over the transom;” meaning that an unexpected sale occurred without effort by the salesmen. When these rare occasions occur it’s a time for celebration and thanks giving.

That’s just what happened to Mary Ann Poll: America’s Lady of Supernatural Thrillers. Without warning and without her knowledge she received an email announcing that her book, Ravens Cove, had been awarded Radiax Press’ Spirit-Filled Fiction Award of Excellence. The over the transom award was followed up with a “like getting money from home without asking” announcement with a link (See Review) to an extraordinary review and heartfelt remarks by the writer of the review.

Publication Consultants is extremely excited about Mary Ann receiving the Spirit-Filled Fiction Award of Excellence and would like to introduce you to her writing by giving you a free Ravens Cove eBook. We think that once you read Ravens Cove you’ll want to purchase her other books. To receive a free Ravens Cove eBook just click Get Your Free EBook Now and follow the prompts. We trust that you’ll enjoy Ravens Cove and want to read Ingress and Gorgon and her new book that will be released early next year.

All in all this just seems like an over the transom moment for everyone.

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According to Facebook more than 1,500 possible stories are filtered through per day on an average Facebook user’s News Feed. So, how do you make your story stand out? This week, we’re exploring how to tap into this vast readership, and build your Social Media presence without getting lost in the crowd.

Photos are a fantastic way to engage with fans. They offer an eye-catching visual on the News Feed, while also adding a personal and creative touch to your presence. Make sure your visuals are great quality. You want to only use high resolution photos for the most professional look. It is also important to pay attention to the specific dimensions  Facebook allows for pictures. Images are allowed to be 1200 x 1200 px. If you are going to share a link, such as of your website, the preview image  your friends and followers see will be 1200 x 628 px. Finally, if you share a video, the preview image will be 504 x 283 px.

Pictures aren’t the only thing you should be sharing on your Facebook page. Links are a great way to circulate your projects and communicate with other Social Media presences and grab a user’s attention. However, nothing is more distracting to content than a horrendously long URL. Space is precious. Ensure  your character count includes the content  you want, not unnecessary dashes and slashes. Use a link shortener, or delete a URL entirely once the thumbnail appears. Let me say this one more time because it is so important. Use a link shortener or delete a URL once the thumbnail appears! Kindly contact me if you have questions about this.

According to a study from Track Maven, posts with 80+ words result in twice as much engagement. So do what you do best: write!

Explore the unlimited punctuation of Social Media. According to the aforementioned TrackMaven study, various punctuation uses on Facebook garner different results. Each is worth testing to see which works best with your audience. Specifically, posts with hashtags (#) see 60% more interactions on average while posts with exclamation points (!) see 2.7% more interactions on average. Make sure you’re not just posting and disappearing; be interactive. Posts  include a call to action or  ask questions receive 23% more engagement on average.

Just as you would face-to-face with a customer, have a good attitude online. Don’t be afraid to smile — literally! Depending on your brand, Emoticons can be your best friend! According to an AMEX Open Forum study, emoticons can result in a 33% higher share rate, a 33% higher comment rate, and even a 57% higher like rate on Facebook.

Make sure your Facebook page is organized and professional. Keep titles short and sweet. Any title above 100 characters gets cut off when posted on your Facebook Business Page, and you don’t want the core message to disappear as a result. You’ll also want to look into scheduling your posts or planning which times you want to upload. According to the TrackMaven study, posts published after hours (5PM to 1AM EST), see 11% more interactions than those published during the day (8AM to 5PM). They also see 29% more interactions than those published before work (1AM – 8AM). In a similar vein, TrackMaven found that posts published on Sundays get 25% more likes, shares, and comments than Wednesday posts — even though fewer than 18% of posts are published on weekends. A similar pattern emerges with email open rates. This suggests the need to experiment with Social Media and email promotion.

These tips will help you make the most out of your Facebook page, but don’t be afraid to play with Facebook and find out what works best for you and your brand.

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When you are setting out to have a book published, one of the first things you must consider is the format of the book: pBook (printed book) or eBook (electronic book). The print vs. digital debate still rages on; but why choose when you don’t have to? There are pros and cons to each. If you choose to take one route (print over digital or vice versa), you will likely be missing out on major opportunities to sell your book.

When you envision publishing an eBook, you might worry about your book disappearing into the void of the Internet. However, the truth is quite the contrary: your words can come to life on the digital stage. With an eBook you get a wider distribution and thus more exposure. An eBook is easy for others to find because of their searchability; pBooks can be harder to locate if they are not accessible online. An eBook is easy to buy and, for readers, they are less expensive than pBooks. In addition, eBooks are easy to read. They are portable, which is good for readers on the go. Digital readers make the reading experience customizable. An eBook is conveniently distributable and shareable. You can also enjoy an instant live audience or fanbase on the Internet. As an added bonus, digital books are environmentally friendly.

For all of the pros of an eBook there is one big con: several aspects of the reading experience are lost when you go digital. Many readers remain attached to pBooks, for a few reasons. There is a certain sentimentality that comes with the physicality of a book. Some feel more connected to or emotionally invested in books when they can hold them in their hands and fully engage the senses. People take pride in having a physical book collection for themselves to appreciate and display to others. When it comes to marketing a book, it is often necessary to have a number of pBooks made. Many book reviewers prefer to receive pBooks and are opposed to reviewing eBooks. Another benefit to pBooks is that it can be easier to get them into libraries.

At Publication Consultants, we publish both a pBook and an eBook (that is, unless an author requests otherwise) regardless of which publishing program an author selects. Publishing a book in only one format eliminates a significant part of the market. It is safe to say that, as a writer, your book will invariably reach more people if it is published as both a pBook and an eBook. In our experience, eBook buyers often end up purchasing a pBook for themselves or as a gift. At Publication Consultants, your book is crafted the same way for printing as it is for digital release; it is the same work either way! Our programs allow you the flexibility to have the best of both worlds.

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As writers ourselves, we understand what writers want. As publishers, we know what writers need when it comes to their book. Unlike other book publishers who have a one-size-fits-all approach, we provide the new or veteran author with not only integrity, but options. With our Diamond, Ruby, and Sapphire options, every author can find which program works best for them.

How To Choose Which Publishing Program is Right for You

Diamond

The Diamond publishing program is a wonderful choice for the serious author. Before we begin, we agree on the fee and with which services we will assist. You pay all the costs, yet reap all the rewards. We assist you with everything you need, from determining paper and style to the binding and illustrations. We’ll help you see the potential, but the final decision always rests with you.

We will obtain the copyright (in your name), as well as the ISBN number, and register your book with the Library of Congress. This way, you are able to sell your book online and off. We will also provide you with a website (yourname.com) and help you learn how to use it.

Ruby

Ruby authors receive many of the same benefits as Diamond authors. Your book is taken from manuscript to finished book (and eBook). At the start, we will decide on the terms. You will be a part of the layout, design, and other parts of creating your book, as well as in the marketing and distribution of it. All of the details of the book, from the style to the illustrations, will be agreed upon by you.

Just like in the Diamond program, we will create a website for you (yourname.com) and teach you how to use it. We will supplement, complement, and coordinate your marketing efforts.

The main difference between the Ruby and the Diamond publishing packages are the costs. For an author wavering between the two, go with the Diamond package. It will enable you to keep more of the profits.

Sapphire

This option features the same benefits as above: you receive a website in your name, have marketing help, and will proof the final copy of your book. The key difference lies in the profits. For the Sapphire publishing package, authors will receive 10% royalty.

 

No matter what publishing program you decide to use, let “Bringing Your Book To Market [1]” take the mystery out of the process. This helpful guide will help you better understand how publishing works before you begin.

Publication Consultants has established a legacy of providing authors opportunities for expression, preserving histories and stories, and bringing joy to readers and writers, creating an atmosphere of mutual respect and integrity is created

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