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Author Nancy J. Cohen discusses the writing process and life as a Florida resident.

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Posts Tagged ‘book promotion’

How Not to Request a Book Review

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 28, 2017

Occasionally, I’ll get requests from authors to review their books. Some of these I’ve accepted, but mostly I send a polite refusal. Here are some examples of what not to do when approaching an author, especially when you don’t know her personally. This also applies to guest blog posts.

 

Reader

Dear Nancy J. Cohen,
I
noticed your review on Amazon for “Murder at the Seaside.” My book is a suspense novel set in Phoenix. It’s a bit outside the cozy genre, but the language is clean and amusing. Would you be willing to read my book and give an honest review?
[When they start with my full name like this, I know they are unfamiliar to me. This book is outside my genre, and the author is an unknown who got my name off Amazon. No deal.]

Dear Ms. Cohen,
I would love to have you interview me on your blog for my upcoming romantic comedy due for release from XYZ Publishing. See back cover blurb below. Please let me know what other information you need to consider reviewing it.
[Is this person requesting a review or a guest blog spot? Either way, her book isn’t my genre, and the author is unknown to me. I’m not interested.]

Dear Nancy,
I’ve finished my first medical thriller and would be honored if I can get a blurb from you. I love your romantic suspense novels. They keep me at the edge of my seat. I’ve really enjoyed reading Hair Raiser and hope to read more of your work.
[This would be a polite, No Thanks. I write mysteries, not romantic suspense. And this person says “they” keep her on the edge of her seat, but she’s only read one. Thrillers are outside my genre, and while occasionally I do read them, I’d rather not be obligated here.]

Hello Nancy J. Cohen,
I saw that you reviewed“The Stolen Queen.” My book has similar elements but more romance and intrigue. [Story Blurb follows]. This romantic adventure is so thrilling and unlike anything you’ve ever read, you’ll be hooked until the last page. My novel is a spine-tingling adventure with exciting twists & turns.
[Bragging about how your book is a bestseller or how it’ll hook my interest is a turnoff.]

Dear Nancy,
I saw that you reviewed the Alex Rider story, “Stormbreaker.” I am author of a middle grade fantasy titled “The Secret of the Oracle.” In this time-travel adventure, Eddie must overcome his fears and battle evil forces in ancient Greece to discover the identity of a sorcerer. Would you like to receive a complimentary digital copy of my book?
[I accepted this one. YA Fantasy is a genre I like to read, and the story line intrigued me. The author didn’t make any braggart claims about how his story will blow me away. He was polite and concise in his request. I enjoyed this book and gave it an honest review.]

Hello,
I have a new release coming out titled “Murder in the Garden,” and I am organizing a book tour. I will provide excerpts and interviews. I’ll be running a Rafflecopter contest, and if you’d like to participate, I’ll include your social media links. (Story blurb follows)
[I accepted this one and was happy to help a fellow mystery author. Why? Not much to do on my part except schedule a blog post on the set day. It’s the appropriate cozy genre. And I’d get social media links in her Rafflecopter. She sounds savvy and will likely show up on the blog to answer comments. This person made things easy.]

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My Advice

· Request a review from an author who writes in the same genre or who clearly enjoys reading the type of book you’ve written.
· Mention a deadline if you have one for the review.
· Be gracious and accepting that the author might not have the time or interest.
· If you’re proposing a blog post, study the type of posts on the host’s blog and then suggest several relevant topics. Also note, while on her site, if she even hosts guests or has a submission policy.
· Be modest. Don’t make braggart claims about how your book is a bestseller, will keep readers riveted until the end, or is a laugh-out-loud funny story. Readers can judge these things for themselves.
· Mention your website or the Amazon page for your book so the author can find more information there.

· If the author declines your offer, thank her politely for her consideration.

Note that a book review request differs from an endorsement request. What else would you add to this list?

 

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Posted in Book Reviews, Business of Writing, Marketing, Reviews, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , | 15 Comments »

Book Promotion Secrets

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 7, 2017

At SleuthFest, we heard publicist Maryglenn McCombs speak on Seven Secrets to Promoting a Book.

MaryGlenn

Timing is everything. Coordinate your publicity around the release date. Target holidays if your book has a holiday theme. Ditto for a historical angle. Start your launch campaign at least three months prior to release. Don’t have media coverage or reviews posted until the book is available. Trade media that serves bookstores and libraries is the exception.

Brevity in a short synopsis is an important tool. The synopsis is your book’s advertisement. It should be similar to book jacket copy to entice readers. Write three different lengths: 175 words or less, 100 words or less, and 50 words or less. Create a one-liner soundbite.

A stellar press kit can help you stand out. You need advance reading copies (ARCs) in print and digital formats. Have low and high resolution author photos. Get a professional headshot taken. Make sure your website is polished. Write a press release and a one-page sale sheet that tells about your book and mentions any endorsements. You can include a sample author interview. Have a biography written in third person. Tell where your books can be found but don’t mention specific vendors (i.e. at most major online retailers).

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Identify your target readers. How can you reach them? Three months before release, send ARCs to the trade media. Contact syndicated reviewers, radio/TV media. Plan signings and launch party 6 to 8 weeks ahead. Look at smaller, local media and online venues. “Promotion is a marathon and not a sprint.”

What works?

· Print Media.

· In-person launch parties.

· Steady media coverage.

· Book awards.

· Big endorsements.

· “Best-of” lists.

· Gift guides.

What doesn’t work?

· Radio tours.

· Lengthy book tours.

· Social media caveman tactics.

· Book trailers.

· Mass mailings.

· Asking buyers to review your book.

· Gimmicky promos.

Find people who will review your books. Look at local news sources, community groups where you belong, school alumni, work resources, places related to the book’s setting. See who’s reviewed books similar to yours.

Be polite and persistent when pitching your book. Follow review policies. Never ask for a copy of the review because that shows you don’t follow their publication. Don’t make outlandish comparisons of your work to others.

The most important part of a media campaign is the book. Get a professional, eye-catching cover design. And write the best book you can.

Disclaimer: Any errors are due to my misinterpretation.

For more information, visit Maryglenn.com

CLICK TO TWEET

Posted in Business of Writing, Marketing | Tagged: , , | 16 Comments »

Writing and Recreation

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on January 16, 2017

These two terms seem to be mutually exclusive, right? Actually, what I’m doing these days is mostly marketing. With a new book release and two conferences next month, it’s essential to be supremely organized. So here are some of the things I did this past week. Why mention them here? I have to be accountable to someone, and you’re it. Besides, this will give you some idea of what goes into book promotion. This does not count my daily visits to social media.

· Post the blog tour dates on my website for Facials Can Be Fatal – Done.
· Create the posts for my Facebook launch party on Feb. 22 and schedule them ahead of time – Done.
· Configure my next contest, get the Rafflecopter code, and load to my sites – Done.
· Complete interview at
Life of Writers and share to social media – Done.
· Track reviews for Facials Can Be Fatal on Goodreads and for Hair Raiser audiobook on Audible – Done.
· Prepare handouts and complete PowerPoint for next month’s writing workshops – Done.
· Contact panelists and devise questions for panels I’m moderating at Sleuthfest – Ongoing.
· Prepare my February newsletter – Done. Sign up now if you want a copy!
· Prepare blog post for the Feb. 22 release of Facials Can Be Fatal – Done.
· Order copies of books for upcoming events – Done.

That’s enough. You get the picture. I’m in a marketing phase. It’s necessary to set aside a couple of weeks to prepare for a book launch. I’ll be speaking on this topic on Friday afternoon at SleuthFest. I hope you’ll join us if you’re attending.

For a welcome break, we enjoyed dinner Friday night at All That Jazz Café in Sunrise. A jazz band played while we dined on a delicious dinner of pecan-crusted salmon, broccoli, and rice pilaf. It was a pleasant diversion from a work-filled week.

Jazz1Jazz3Jazz4Jazz2

Saturday, we took our afternoon exercise at Plantation Preserve Trail. It’s always an invigorating walk.

Plant Preserve1 Plant Preserve3

On Sunday, I felt like using up some ingredients in our fridge, so I made blueberry pancakes and an omelet with cheddar cheese and fried salami. Not too healthy, right? Then we took a long walk at Sawgrass Mills Mall to burn off the calories.

Pancakes3 Omelet

I hope to get caught up in my chores so the Muse will turn back on, and I can plot my next book. In the meantime, have a great week!

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Booklovers Bench, Jan. 1 – 18

Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklovers Bench

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Posted in Business of Writing, Florida Musings, Food, Marketing, That's Life, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Marketing Tips from Book Publicist

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 24, 2015

Maryglenn McCombs, book publicist, spoke at the recent Florida Chapter of MWA meeting. These are my notes from her speech.

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“Publishers are looking for authors who have platforms.” How do you get one?

  • Join professional writers’ groups and get involved. Besides the Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, Maryglenn mentioned Crime Writers Association of North America, Independent Book Publishers Association, and StoryCircle.org.
  • Attend conferences and get connected with other people in the industry.
  • Ask your writer friends for endorsements. Make sure they are recognizable names in your genre.
  • Write a good book.
  • Have a professional product so that you’re taken seriously.
  • Also: Write a blog; comment on other authors’ posts; become active on Facebook and Twitter; share news and interesting articles.

Maryglenn mentioned that an off-press date is when the printing is finished, but it’s different from the release or pub date when the book is available for sale. If you can do it, time your pub date with an event or holiday. For a historical, you can set the release date around an event or a particular date in history.

Aim for review coverage at or after the book is available for purchase. Reviews any earlier are not helpful. The exception is trade media that serve bookstores and libraries.

Readers read. Radio people listen. TV viewers watch. So how do you reach the readers?

“Book promo is a marathon, not a sprint.” Three to six months ahead of your pub date, send info to syndicated reviewers, consumer print media, trade media, and larger online outlets such as:

The Freelance Star
The Bismarck Tribune
Mysterious Reviews
Mystery Fanfare
Stop You’re Killing Me

Promote your book for up to one year after its release. Target local media, alumni groups, newspapers where you grew up, niche markets relating to topics in your book, other groups where you’re a member, media in the town where your book takes place.

Share your news if you win an award, your book goes into a second printing, or you sell more rights.

Have available advance reading copies in print and digital formats; a jpg of your cover in 96 dpi and 300 dpi; a professional headshot; a website with your contact info; a one-page press release or media sheet with your book’s data; a 175 word or less story blurb; web links, and an author bio. “Brevity is the soul of wit” for press releases and pitches. Also prepare your elevator pitch.

To find reviewers, look for similar titles and Google them for reviews and media coverage. When contacting reviewers or press people, cast a wide net. Do your research ahead of time and address the proper person by name. Be polite, but also be persistent. Follow the submission rules on blogs and review outlets. Be accommodating to their requests. Do not ask a reviewer to send you a copy of the review. It shows you’re not reading her posts. Follow their sites and leave comments to maintain a relationship. Send a follow-up thank you for a review and ask the reviewer’s permission to use quotes from it. What counts is how you react after media coverage. Always say thank you, even for a bad review. i.e. “It’s feedback like this that will make me a better writer.”

What Works

Print Media
Launch Parties
Steady Media Coverage
Personal Contact with Booksellers
Starred Reviews
Winning Awards or Being Nominated
Big Endorsements
Your book put on “Best of…” Lists or Gift Guides

What Doesn’t Work

Radio Tours
Bad Covers
Lengthy Book Tours
Book Trailers
Mass Mailings
Swag and Gimmicks
Asking Readers for Amazon Reviews
“Buy my Book” Social Media Tactics. Share your real news, research tidbits, history of a region, writing tips. Work on social media for up to thirty minutes twice a day. Be engaging and play nice.

Seek “evangelists” or fans who will tell everyone about your book. But don’t let them manipulate posts online as that’s unethical. You want people who will tell their friends and book clubs about your work, hand out your bookmarks, and recommend your titles.

Disclaimer: These statements are my interpretation and any errors are my own.

Here I am with Kathryn DePalo and Kat Karlton aka Karen Kendall.

Posted in Business of Writing, Marketing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , | 10 Comments »

Book Trailer How-To

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on August 10, 2015

Would you like to create your own book trailer in Windows Live Movie Maker? If so, be prepared to spend time on a learning curve. The first effort is the hardest, but then you’ll know what to do for subsequent titles. Just follow these steps that apply to Windows 7, and you’re on your way. Go Here to download Windows Essentials 2012 for free. It works with Windows 7 or Windows 8. Or check your list of Programs to see if it’s already installed on your computer.

View the Book Trailer for Peril by Ponytail: http://youtu.be/T2Vao7yDIVY

Various companies will do trailers for you on the cheap, but their work is similar to what you can do with a slide show. I’d rather pick out the photos and music that best suits my story. If you’re a big moneymaker, a bestselling author, or perhaps a thriller writer whose work demands a broader canvas, then you can go for moving videos, productions using real actors, or voiceovers. But if you’re an average writer who wants to give your readers a taste of the story without making a big splash, this will work for you.

Do Your Homework and Watch Book Videos

Go to author sites on YouTube and find trailers for books in the same genre as your work.
Write down the text on each slide and note the type of image accompanying it.
Listen to the music. How does it make you feel? Does it create a certain mood?
Does the story move quickly while giving you an idea of the plot and main characters?
How long is the trailer? Is it too long? Or too short?
What do the credits say at the end?

Write Your Text

Now write your own text in verses to fit on each slide. Remain brief, offering your story points in as few words as possible. The text should give the reader an idea of what your story is about, the tone of your work, and an introduction to your main characters. Ask your critique partners for input. You’ll need other critical eyes to help you hone down your plot to a few sentences with punch. It’s not an easy task.

Remember the adage: Short and Simple. Try to keep your video under 2 minutes.

At the end: Add your book cover and publishing info, where readers can buy your book, music and photo credits, and review quotes if desired.

Search For Images

http://www.123rf.com One medium-sized image at 72 dpi for Web usage is approximately 824 x 581 px and costs 2 credits. You can buy 40 credits for $38. Music is available here too. Make sure you read the fine print on the licensing terms. If you want to use an image as a book cover, you may need an extended license.

http://www.bigstockphoto.com/ Small-sized images are 900 x 743 px and are 1 credit each. You can buy 10 credits for $35 or 25 credits for $49.

If you see a photo you like, look at the description and put that same wording into the search box. Similar photos will pop up. Or go to the photo you like and click on the Related Images displayed. Figure out how many credits you’ll need per photo and what the packages cost. Also check the licensing terms to be sure they meet your needs.

Here are more photo sites. Some of them also have music available.

http://www.istockphoto.com/ This one is pricey with 1 credit for $12; 6 credits for $60.
http://depositphotos.com/ (30 credits for $32)
http://www.dreamstime.com/
http://browse.deviantart.com/resources/stockart/
http://www.canstockphoto.com
http://www.corbisimages.com/
http://www.epictura.com/
http://us.fotolia.com/
http://www.fotosearch.com/
http://www.freestockimages.net/
http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/
http://www.freefoto.com/index.jsp
http://www.freeimages.com/
http://www.freephotosbank.com/
http://www.fontplay.com/freephotos/
http://www.ingimage.com/
http://www.jupiterimages.com/
http://www.gettyimages.com/creativeimages
http://www.gettyimages.com/photolibrary
http://photopin.com/ (For Blog Posts)
https://pixabay.com/

Whichever site you choose, register for an account so that you have a Lightbox, or a Likebox as it’s sometimes called.

In the site’s Search feature, put in keywords for the type of picture you want (i.e. romantic couple, beautiful redhead, businessman, airplane over island). Scroll down until a photo catches your fancy. Click to add it to your Lightbox (at 123rf, you click the little heart). You can search this way for Photos, Video Clips, and Music.

Match an image in your collection to each verse in your text. Then purchase enough credits to buy the ones you want. Click on the image and then on Download. Save it to your computer.

Whichever site you use, check the licensing requirements before you make your purchase. As mentioned above, some may require an extended license to use the image as a book cover, in a collection such as on a Pinterest board, on a coffee mug you offer for sale, and so on.

Search For Video (Optional)

Live action can add spice to a video but it also takes up time and increases the size of your file. Many of the sites listed above will have royalty-free video clips, but here are some more.

http://www.alunablue.com/
http://www.archive.org/details/stock_footage
http://www.artbeats.com /
http://www.footagefirm.com/free-footage
http://www.gettyimages.com/Footage
http://www.gotfootage.com/
http://www.stockfootageforfree.com/
http://vimeo.com/groups/freehd
http://worldclips.tv/

Search For Music

Searching for the right music can be a time-consuming task. Decide upon the tone of your video and put keywords into the search feature on these sites. Is your story dark and scary? Light and funny? Upbeat and bouncy? Intense and mysterious? The music is important because it elicits an emotional response in your viewers.

Check the length of the music clip against the length of your trailer, and make sure it’s long enough. You can repeat the music if necessary to extend its length on your video, but there might be a slight gap where the first one ends and the clip restarts.

http://www.stockmusic.net/ $39.95 per track; Pay once, use forever. My Favorite.
http://www.melodyloops.com/
http://www.audiomicro.com/
http://freeplaymusic.com/
http://www.freesoundtrackmusic.com/
http://www.gettyimages.com/Music
http://www.ibaudio.com/
http://incompetech.com/music/
http://www.istockphoto.com/audio.php
http://www.opuzz.com/
http://www.stockmusic.com/

Now What?

Open a New Project in Windows Live Movie Maker (File; New Project) and click Add Videos and Photos. Add one photo at a time, and the program will produce slides. If you want a blank slide to add text only, click the Credits button.

Once you have your pictures added, go back to the beginning. Click on Add Caption for each slide and add your text in the text box. You can drag this box to wherever you want it placed. You can also change the color of the text. If it’s a light background, choose a dark text. If you have a black or dark background, make the text white. Alter the font as needed.

You’ll now see Video Tools and Text Tools. These have little boxes where you can see the Duration. I try to have the duration of my text shorter than or equal to the video. So a video slide might run for 5 seconds, and the text for 4.50. Some slides you’ll want longer, if you have more text or if you have an image like the book cover that you want to linger on screen. Under Text Tools, choose Effects. This gives you options for how you want your text to scroll or appear on the slide. Click on Edit if you want to make changes.

Under Video Tools, click on Animations. Here you can add Transitions between slides. Position your cursor in front of each slide. Then hover your mouse over each transition effect to see what it does. Click to select. Keep in mind that the transitions cut some of the time out of the slide before and after. Each time you want to view the effect, put the cursor in front of a slide and click the Play button. Next do the same for Pan and Zoom. Make choices there so your pictures aren’t static.

When you have arranged your pictures and text to your satisfaction, click on Home and Add Music. Browse for your music file and click Open. The program adds it to your slide show. You can adjust the track as needed, like timing it to start further in by changing the Start Point. Also, hit Fade In at the beginning or Fade Out at the end if desired.

Add credits at the end by clicking Credits. This will be a text only slide. Here’s where you put the sites where you found your images and music. You’ll also want a slide to show your book cover. Either add text there or on a separate slide with your book info: Title, author, publisher, etc. The same Text Tools apply to these slides as for the others.

Remember to save your project often. Hit File and then Save Project.

When you are totally done, click File, then Save Movie and choose the Widescreen/HD version to Save to Your Computer. Your trailer is ready to upload to YouTube and elsewhere. Don’t hit the YouTube button on Live Movie Maker, or it may upload a smaller version. Then go to YouTube and upload the HD file to your account.

A book video is another tool in your promotional arsenal, but it’s not worth breaking the bank over. Doing it yourself or hiring a low-cost company is the ideal way to go. It’s another way to excite viewers about your upcoming release.

Where To Post Your Book Video

Amazon: https://authorcentral.amazon.com/
Book Goodies: http://bookgoodies.com/contact-us/video-trailer/
Book Trailer Central: http://booktrailercentral.co/
Book Trailers: http://booktrailers.ning.com/
Daily Motion: http://www.dailymotion.com/us
Preview the Book: http://www.previewthebook.com/previewupload.php
Veoh: http://www.veoh.com/
Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/

Remember to add your video to all your social networking sites plus your website and blog.

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Watch my Trailers

Mysteries

Peril by Ponytail: http://youtu.be/T2Vao7yDIVY
Hanging By A Hair: http://youtu.be/gv5ldn9uw7I
Shear Murder: http://youtu.be/ePpShWy3Wbw

Romances

Warrior Lord: http://youtu.be/91cdYSftbmU
Warrior Rogue: http://youtu.be/cjV-PRVGoVs
Warrior Prince: http://youtu.be/aVm2FIumw0o

GIVEAWAYS!

Enter to win a signed advance reading copy of Peril by Ponytail (Bad Hair Day Mystery #12) in my Goodreads Giveaway, https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25419636-peril-by-ponytail

Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench http://bookloversbench.com/contest/

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Marketing | Tagged: , , , , , | 25 Comments »

Book Promotion Countdown

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on May 29, 2015

Have you sold a book and now you’re panicking about what to do? Does the thought of book promotion strike terror into your writer’s heart? Here are some guidelines to keep you straight on the road to self-promotion. Or if you are a seasoned author, use it as a quick checklist of things to do. Always remember to be courteous, to avoid clogging the loops with your constant pronouncements, and to comment on other people’s posts in return. Don’t feel obliged to do everything mentioned here. Select what works best for you.

IMMEDIATELY UPON SIGNING CONTRACT

Send a press release to local media with an angle that will interest them.
Send notices to alumni newsletters and professional organizations, if appropriate.
Solicit cover quotes from other authors.
Get a professional photo taken or consider updating your photo.
If you’re a new author, reserve your domain name and the domain name for your series.
Create a website or update your landing page with your book sale news.
Announce the sale on your social media sites.
Send an email newsletter announcing the sale to your mailing lists.

newsletter

4-6 MONTHS PRIOR TO PUB DATE

Send advance reading copies (ARCs) to book bloggers and reviewers after making personal contact. Some sites online allow you to fill in a review request form and upload a pdf copy.
Notify booksellers and librarians about your upcoming release.
Reserve ad space in trade journals, e-magazines, and online reader sites.
Offer to write articles in trade magazines for issues matching your pub date.
As soon as you get your book cover art, order printed promo materials.
Do a Cover Reveal as an Event. You may want to time it to when your book goes on pre-sale.
Design video trailer. Some of your blog tour hosts may ask for this link along with book data.
Contact bookstores to schedule events. Offer to be a speaker at writers’ groups, community clubs, conferences, and libraries. Schedule live radio interviews for release month.
Arrange for a virtual blog tour. Hire a company or solicit blog tour hosts on your own.

Pony Postcards  Bookmarks

2-4 MONTHS AHEAD

As soon as the book appears for pre-order online, add the buy link to all your sites.
Send a press release with signing dates to local media.
Load video book trailer and add links to all your sites.
Write the blogs for your virtual tour and match topics with hosts. Post your schedule online.
Decide what to do for a book launch party. Schedule it as an Event on all your sites.
Run giveaways of your ARCs on Goodreads and LibraryThing.
Order swag materials for conferences.
Look for niche marketing opportunities.

P1030420P1040166 tee shirt2 (800x600)

1-2 MONTHS AHEAD

Contact booksellers and event organizers to verify your appearances and to make sure they’ll have your books in time.
Send email newsletter to readers, including signing dates, blog tour schedule, contests, and pre-order information.
Send promo materials or swag to conferences for goody bags or promo tables.
Set a virtual book launch party date and list it as an Event.
Prepare your newsletter and giveaways to coincide with the launch date.
Update websites with reviews as you receive them.
Write a page full of tweets and Facebook posts so you have them ready to go announcing your book launch. Do earlier if your book is available for pre-order. Include quotes from reviews when you get them.
Write a book club discussion guide if you want to have one available.
Post excerpts on social media to raise interest. Put your first chapter on your website.
Remember to promote yourself to your publisher. Send them copies of book reviews, feature articles, and promo events.

RELEASE DAY!

Send out a newsletter to your readers announcing the launch and inviting them to join your online party and enter your giveaways.
Announce the release on all your social media sites and online forums. Schedule tweets to run all day. You can schedule Facebook posts ahead of time on your author page.
Don’t forget to thank your blog hosts and respond to comments.
Go out and celebrate!

Launch Party Header

Time, budget, and energy are considerations when planning your promotional campaign. Choose what’s reasonable for you to accomplish, and remember that family takes priority, writing comes next, and all else is a bonus. The above suggestions aren’t written in stone. Some items you may be able to do sooner and some may come later. You’ll eventually work out your own rhythm. Do as much or as little as is comfortable at your level.

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Marketing is what I’m spending all my time on these days. I am readying to launch my revised Author’s Edition of Body Wave in June, and I’m working on the release campaign for Peril by Ponytail coming in September. And by the way, I have some ARCs available for my 12th Bad Hair Day mystery.

If you are a book blogger or have a review site, and you’d like to be considered for an advance copy of Peril by Ponytail, please query me privately. Reviews would be appreciated on Amazon, Goodreads, and BN as well.

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Marketing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , | 29 Comments »

Blogging Made Perfect

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on September 12, 2014

So you want to write a blog. Or you already have a blog but want to increase your subscribers. What now? Here are tips on getting started and attracting followers.

Define Your Purpose.

Do you wish to share news about your work? Be recognized as an expert in your field? Build a community? Engage with readers? Have other writers look to you for advice? Share information relevant to a special interest?

Determine Your Goals.

Do you mean to increase book sales? Have a substantial number of followers? Get a number of comments on each blog? Have folks reblog your posts? Receive requests for guest posts?

Set Parameters.

How often do you intend to post? What days of the week are best? What time during the day will more people likely read your post? How long should each post be?

Brainstorm Topics.

When you’re writing a book, jot down blog topics related to your theme, research, and writing process. These will be useful either to show your story in progress or to provide fodder for blog tours when your new release comes out. Meanwhile, determine what readers want to know and address these topics. What information can you share with others that might be useful? How can your content add value to people’s lives? In what way can your personal anecdotes inspire others? Some authors set certain days for specific blog topics. For example, one day they might post recipes. Another day they might bring in a guest blogger. Excerpts, book reviews, or trivia related to a particular hobby or personal interest might fill in other slots. Or you might wing it, writing posts as they come to you. Just keep in mind the image or brand you wish to project.

Acquire a Site.

When you’re ready to start, register at WordPress.com or Blogger.com for a free site. Or add a blog to your website. Become familiar with the features and start posting.

Link Blog to Your Social Media Sites.

Not only should visitors be able to tweet and share your particular article around the Web, but your posts should be automatically tweeted and sent to your Facebook pages. Check your Settings for how to enable these features or ask your Web designer to add the proper Plug-In. Get Share Buttons at http://www.sharethis.com or http://www.addtoany.com Add your blog to Networked Blogs, http://www.networkedblogs.com. Some authors use Triberr to raise their visitors: http://triberr.com/landing/bloggers.

What Pages Should Your Blog Site Contain?

Keep in mind that visitors to your blog, if separate from your website, might not visit you elsewhere. So consider what tabs you’ll want to have. Here are some suggestions: Home; About (Bio); Appearances; Book Trailers; Books List; Contact (your email); Contests. In one sidebar, you can show your book covers. In lieu of this, you can use a rotating carousel or slide show from Amazon. Sidebars can also contain a Blog Roll, Search box, Subscribe button, Social Networking Icons, Live Twitter feed, and RSS feed button.

Include Photos in your posts.

Photos will draw more hits, but be careful of copyright issues. Upload your own photos. Buy photos at royalty-free sites or at least make sure you provide attribution. Many writers skirt this issue, but you do so at your own risk.

Tag your Posts.

Use tags and categories with keywords to drive traffic to your site. Tags are for individual posts while categories classify your topics.

Avoid Messy Code Issues.

Write your blog in Word or another word processing program to keep your files on your hard drive. Then copy and paste each blog to Notepad or Windows Live Writer. These eliminate messy code issues. Download Windows Essentials for free from Microsoft. This includes Windows Movie Maker (for DIY book trailers), Photo Gallery and Live Writer. http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-live/essentials

Offer a Blog Roll.

Ask other authors for a cross-exchange of links. More links leads to more traffic.

How to Gain Followers

*Post often. Some people set themes, like “Recipe Monday” or “Guest Blogger Wednesday” or “Photo Friday.” Be consistent in your approach. If you prefer to blog randomly, still do so two or three times a week. Keep your material current.
*Have a clear and catchy headline.
*End your post with a question to stimulate discussion.
*Don’t use your blog solely to promote your books. You’re building a community of readers who want to get to know you, or else you are establishing yourself as an expert by offering useful material. Share new release info, reviews, contests and such sparingly.
*Comment on other people’s blogs.
*Invite guests who have a following.
*Always respond to comments and respect others’ opinions.
*Offer giveaways to commenters.
*Evaluate results. If you get a lot of comments on certain types of posts, steer your blog in that direction. Be responsive to readers. Note what engenders interest and what does not.
*Be careful what you put out there. This is a public post. Avoid politics, religion, and any mention of personal business or issues you don’t want to share.
*Always be respectful of other industry professionals.
*Link to other authors and favorite pages as appropriate to help spread the word about their sites.

Index Your Blog

When your blog is a few years old, you might want to reblog an article. Keeping records of the topics, categories, and dates will help you retrieve these files. I suggest you write your blog in Word and save the posts by month and year. It’s imperative to keep your own blogs on your computer so you don’t lose them if there’s an online snafu. Then keep a separate file that’s an index so you can quickly search topics.

Blog Hops

Blog Hops pool you with other authors. Study your listserves for these opportunities or get one going with your author friends yourself. What is it? Each author posts a blog about an agreed upon topic with links to all the other bloggers on a particular day. Offering a prize for commenters will bring people to your sites, and hopefully you’ll gain new readers from among these other authors’ fans. Participating in a blog hop will broaden your exposure.

Blog Tours

If you wish to do a blog tour, determine if you want to do guest posts, author interviews, or have the site offer a review or book blast. Then solicit hosts by asking other authors if you can guest on their site. Make sure you study their slant and offer an appropriate topic. Write your guest posts and assign each one to a host. To attract readers, offer a grand prize drawing from all commenters, a prize on each site or a Rafflecopter contest. Publish your tour schedule on your website and broadcast it on your social networks. Be sure to show up the day of the posting to answer comments. OR hire a virtual tour company if you don’t wish to DIY: Goddish Fish Promotions http://www.goddessfish.com, Great Escapes http://www.escapewithdollycas.com/great-escapes-virtual-book-tours/ (Free Cozy Mystery Tours), Bewitching Book Tours (Paranormal Romance), http://bewitchingbooktours.blogspot.com/, Buy the Book Tours http://www.buythebooktours.com/#axzz2OqJtoGjs , Partners in Crime http://www.partnersincrimetours.net/

What other tips would you add?

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Marketing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

Make Your Own Book Trailer

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 19, 2013

Would you like to create your own book trailer in Windows Live Movie Maker? It’s a way to save money and to maintain control over your project. If so, be prepared to spend time on a learning curve. The first effort is the hardest, but then you’ll know what to do for subsequent titles. Just follow these steps for Windows 7, and you’re on your way. Most likely, if you have a PC, you already have this program on your menu. If not, Go Here and download it for free. (I also use the Windows Live Photo Gallery to store and edit my photos.)

My recent trailer for Hanging By A Hair cost me $58 for the images and music from 123rf.com. The images are perfect for the story, and the music adds tension. Click below if you haven’t seen it yet.

There are some companies that will do trailers for you on the cheap, but their work is similar to mine with a slide show. As the author, I’d rather pick out the photos and music that best suits my story. If you’re a big moneymaker, a bestselling author, or perhaps a thriller writer whose work demands a broader canvas, then you can go for the moving videos, the productions using real actors, or the voiceovers. But if you’re the average writer who wants to give your readers a taste of the story without making a big splash, this will work for you.

Do Your Homework By Watching Book Videos

Go to author sites or YouTube and find trailers for books in the same genre as your work.
Write down the text on each slide and note the type of image accompanying it.
Listen to the music. How does it make you feel? Does it create a certain mood?
Does the story move quickly while giving you an idea of the plot and main characters?
How long is the trailer?
What do the credits say at the end?

Write Your Text

Now write your own text in verses to fit on each slide. Remain brief, offering your story points in as few words as possible. The text should give the reader an idea of what your story is about, the tone of your work, and an introduction to your main characters.

Ask your critique partners for input. You’ll need other critical eyes to help you hone down your plot to a few jaunty sentences. It’s not an easy task.

Remember the adage: Short and Simple. Try to keep your video under 2 minutes.

Search For Images

These are the main three sites that I’ve used:

http://www.123rf.com Medium-sized image is 565 x 847 px and are 2 credits each. You can by 20 credits for $20 or 40 credits for $38. Music is available here too. I bought mine for 30 credits. Make sure you read the fine print on the terms. I bought standard licenses. If you want to use an image as a book cover, you’d need a print only extended license.

http://www.bigstockphoto.com/ Small-sized images are 600 x 900 px and are 1 credit each. You can buy 10 credits for $35 or 25 credits for $49.

Reading the fine print on the terms for this site, you’ll see that you cannot use images as part of an online album or collection. I’ve interpreted this to mean you cannot pin these images to your boards on Pinterest. Since I like to make an image board for each book, I won’t buy my trailer images here unless they have one I can’t find elsewhere.

If you see a photo you like, look at the description under it and go to your preferred image site. Put that same wording into the search box. A similar photo might pop up there. You can also click “similar images to this one” if you want more pictures with the same actor.

http://www.istockphoto.com/ Small is 567 × 847 px. 10 credits cost $19.99; 30 credits costs $49.99, but you may be only getting 6 images at 5 credits each for this price.

Credit package prices are current at the time of this blog post and may change, so check for yourself. Figure out how many credits you’ll need per photo for the above mentioned sizes and what the packages cost. Also check the licensing terms to make sure they meet your needs.

Here are more sites I’ve collected:

http://browse.deviantart.com/resources/stockart/
http://www.canstockphoto.com
http://www.corbisimages.com/
http://www.dreamstime.com/
http://www.epictura.com/
http://www.flickr.com/
http://us.fotolia.com/
http://www.fotosearch.com/
http://www.freestockimages.net/
http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/
http://www.freefoto.com/index.jsp
http://www.freephotosbank.com
http://www.fontplay.com/freephotos/
http://www.jupiterimages.com/
http://www.gettyimages.com/creativeimages
http://www.gettyimages.com/photolibrary
http://photopin.com/—Images for your blog with proper attribution
http://www.reflexstock.com/
http://www.sxc.hu/

Whichever site you choose, register for an account so that you have a Lightbox, or a Likebox as it’s sometimes called.

In the site’s Search feature, put in keywords for the type of picture you want (i.e. romantic couple, beautiful redhead, man with gun, airplane over island). Scroll down until a photo catches your fancy. Click to add it to your Lightbox (at 123rf, you click the little heart). If you like the model, click where it says Other Images Using This Model or Similar Images. You can search this way for Photos, Video Clips, and Music.

Keep collecting images until you have enough to match each line of text. Then purchase enough credits to buy the ones you want. Click on each image and then on Download. Save it to your computer. I keep mine in a folder labeled Cover Images.

Whichever site you use, check the licensing requirements before you make your purchase. As mentioned above, some may require an extended license to use the image as a book cover, in a collection such as on a Pinterest board, on a coffee mug you offer for sale, and so on.

Tip: All of these sites have periodic sales. After you’ve set up an account, watch your emails for discounts on credit purchases.

Search For Video (Optional)

Live action can add spice to a video but it also takes up time and increases the size of your file. Many of the sites listed above will also have royalty-free video clips, but here are some more.

http://www.alunablue.com/
http://www.alwayshd.com/
http://www.archive.org/details/stock_footage
http://www.artbeats.com
http://www.footagefirm.com/free-footage
http://www.gettyimages.com/Footage
http://www.gotfootage.com/
http://www.stockfootageforfree.com/
http://vimeo.com/groups/freehd
http://worldclips.tv/

Search For Music

Searching for the right music can be a time-consuming task. Decide upon the tone of your video and put keywords into the search feature on these sites. Is your story dark and scary? Light and funny? Upbeat and bouncy? Intense and mysterious? The music is important because it elicits an emotional response in your viewers.

Check the length of the music clip against the length of your trailer, and make sure it’s long enough. You can repeat the music if necessary to extend its length on your video. Likewise, you can clip it to start where you want if it’s too long.

These are the two sites I’ve used:

http://www.123rf.com Music tracks vary in cost. Buy a credit package and use extras for photos.
http://www.stockmusic.net/ $39.95 per track; Pay once, use forever.

Here are more:

http://www.audiomicro.com/
http://freeplaymusic.com/
http://www.freesoundtrackmusic.com/
http://www.gettyimages.com/Music

http://www.ibaudio.com/
http://incompetech.com/music/
http://www.istockphoto.com/audio.php
http://www.opuzz.com/

http://www.stockmusic.com/

Now What?

Open a New Project in Windows Live Movie Maker (File; New Project) and click Add Videos and Photos. Add one photo at a time, and the program will produce slides. If you want a blank slide to add text only, click the Credits button.

Once you have your pictures added, go back to the beginning. Click on Add Caption for each slide and add your text in the text box. You can drag this box to wherever you want it placed. You can also change the color of the text. If it’s a light background, choose a dark text. If you have a black or dark background, make the text white. Alter the font as needed.

You’ll now see Video Tools and Text Tools. These have little boxes where you can see the Duration. I try to have the duration of my text shorter than or equal to the video. So a video slide might run for 5 seconds, and the text for 4.50. Some slides you’ll want longer, if you have more text or if you have an image like the book cover that you want to linger on screen. Under Text Tools, choose Effects. This gives you options for how you want your text to scroll or appear on the slide. Click on Edit if you want to make changes.

Under Video Tools, click on Animations. Here you can add Transitions between slides. Position your cursor in front of each slide. Then hover your mouse over each transition effect to see what it does. Click to select. Keep in mind that the transitions cut some of the time out of the slide before and after. Each time you want to view the effect, put the cursor in front of a slide and click the Play button. Next do the same for Pan and Zoom. Make choices there so your pictures aren’t static.

When you have arranged your pictures and text to your satisfaction, click on Home and Add Music. Browse for your music file and click Open. The program adds it to your slide show. You can adjust the track as needed, like timing it to start further in by changing the Start Point. Also, hit Fade In at the beginning or Fade Out at the end if desired.

Add credits at the end by clicking Credits. This will be a text only slide. Here’s where you put the sites where you found your images and music. You’ll also want a slide to show your book cover. Either add text there or on a separate slide with your book info: Title, author, publisher, etc. The same Text Tools apply to these slides as for the others.

Remember to save your project often. Hit File and then Save Project.

When you are totally done, click File, then Save Movie and choose the Widescreen/HD version to Your Computer. I save them in a folder called My Videos. Your trailer is ready to upload to YouTube and elsewhere. Don’t hit the YouTube button on Live Movie Maker, or it’ll upload a smaller version. Save the version you want and then upload it from YouTube itself. For a site like Linked In, you will need the smallest version available, so you’ll want to save it different ways as needed.

The idea is to offer your readers a bit of insight into your story, to maybe tease new viewers into buying your book. A book video is another tool in your promotional arsenal, but since many readers don’t even watch them, it’s not worth breaking the bank over one. Doing it yourself or hiring a low-cost company is the ideal way to go. Here are some companies who offer inexpensive trailers. Many other sites offer them and so do virtual assistants, graphic artist companies, promotional sites.

Where To Post Your Book Video

Amazon: https://authorcentral.amazon.com/
Book Goodies: http://bookgoodies.com/contact-us/video-trailer/
Book Trailer Central: http://booktrailercentral.co/
Book Trailers: http://booktrailers.ning.com/
Book Trailer Theatre: https://www.facebook.com/BookTrailerTheatre –Promo on Fridays only
Daily Motion: http://www.dailymotion.com/us
Livewriters: http://www.livewriters.com/video.php
Preview the Book: http://www.previewthebook.com/previewupload.php
Shelf Pleasure: http://www.shelfpleasure.com/contribute/
Veoh: http://www.veoh.com/
Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/
Watchthebook: http://www.watchthebook.com/

Remember to add your video to all your social networking sites plus your website and blog.

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Watch my Trailers

Mysteries
Hanging By A Hair: http://youtu.be/gv5ldn9uw7I
Shear Murder: http://youtu.be/ePpShWy3Wbw

Romances
Warrior Rogue: http://youtu.be/cjV-PRVGoVs
Warrior Prince: http://youtu.be/aVm2FIumw0o

Follow Me Online

Website: http://nancyjcohen.com
Blog: https://nancyjcohen.wordpress.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/nancyjcohen
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nancy-J-Cohen/112101588804907
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/91508.Nancy_J_Cohen
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/njcohen/
Linked In: http://www.linkedin.com/in/nancyjcohen
Google Plus: https://google.com/+NancyJCohen

Posted in Business of Writing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

Outside the Box Marketing

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on October 20, 2012

How can you raise your readership and increase your book sales? Today at the MWA-FL Chapter meeting, Joanna Campbell Slan spoke on Promoting Outside of the Box. Joanna is the author of three mystery series, including the Kiki Lowenstein books and her newest Jane Eyre mystery, Death of a Schoolgirl. Joanna offered tips on increasing visibility online as she explained what works for her. Here are some ideas I gleaned from her excellent presentation:

End each book with a hook. You’ll want your story to have a satisfactory ending, but include an element that will make the reader anxious for the sequel.

In between your regular releases, offer short stories or novellas in digital formats and for a low price. Relate the titles clearly to your series.

Include a list of titles in series order in your works whenever possible. Also add links to all your social networking sites, plus consider links to other sites relating to your story.

If you are self-publishing, ask for Beta readers on your Facebook page. Request that these people do not share the file and that they consider putting a review on Amazon when the book is available online.

Give readers suggestions on how to help when you answer their fan mail, i.e. “Please share with your friends” or “This book would make a great gift.”

Five star reviews on Amazon help readers who search for these ratings to find your books. Encourage your fans to spread the word and contribute to positive customer reviews.

Create an account on Pinterest and put up your book covers there.

When you do posts on Facebook, start the update with a headliner type line or an intriguing sentence that will catch attention.

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These are all great suggestions. Now if only I had a clone to implement them! Thanks, Joanna, for a great session.

Posted in Business of Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , | 15 Comments »

Promotion Checklist

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on July 23, 2012

Have you sold a book and now you’re panicking about what to do? Does the thought of book promotion strike terror into your writer’s heart? Here are some guidelines to get you started on the road to self-promotion. Always remember to be courteous, to avoid clogging the loops/tweets with your constant pronouncements, and to comment on other people’s posts in return. Don’t feel obligated to do everything mentioned here. Pick and choose what works best for you.

IMMEDIATELY UPON SIGNING CONTRACT:

Send press release to local newspapers and trade magazines. Copy any feature articles that result to editor and agent.
Send notices to alumni newsletters and professional organizations.
Solicit advance reviews/quotes from other authors.
Get professional photo taken or update photo.
Reserve your domain name or the domain name of your new series.
Announce the news on your website, blog, listserves, and social networks.
Send an email newsletter announcing the sale to all your mailing lists.
Post excerpts to raise interest.

4-6 MONTHS PRIOR TO PUB DATE:

Send galleys/ARCs/pdf copies to reviewers after making personal contact.
Reserve ad space in online or print sites.
Offer to write articles in trade magazines for issues matching pub date.
As soon as you get your book cover art, order business cards, printed promo materials, and swag.
Design video trailer.
Solicit booksignings and speaking engagements at writers groups, community clubs, conferences, and libraries.
Add cover and blurb to your online sites.
Design contests for the next few months leading up to Release Day.
Solicit blog tour hosts and determine topics.
Look for niche marketing opportunities.

2 MONTHS AHEAD:

Send press release with signing dates to local newspapers.
Load video trailer and add links to all your sites.
Update mailing lists. Send email newsletter to booksellers and librarians.
Write all the blogs for your virtual tour and match topics with hosts. Post your schedule online.
Determine upcoming contest prizes and giveaways.
Decide what to do for a book launch party.
Send promo materials to conferences for goody bags or promo tables.

1 MONTH AHEAD:

As soon as the book appears for pre-order online, add the buy link to all your sites.
Add the book to Goodreads and post giveaway.
Create a “Meet the Author” poster for book events.
Set Google alert for title.
Verify dates with booksellers/conference organizers for events and check that books will be in on time.
Send email newsletter to readers, including signing dates.
Send copies of book reviews, feature articles, and promo schedule to editor/publicist. Remember to promote yourself to your publisher.

RELEASE DAY!

Have a party, run contests and giveaways, offer a Q&A session, and celebrate!

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Time, budget, and energy are considerations when planning your promotional campaign. Choose what’s reasonable for you to accomplish, and remember that family takes priority, writing comes next, and all else is a bonus. The above suggestions aren’t written in stone. Some items you may be able to do sooner and some may come later. You’ll eventually work out your own rhythm. Do as much or as little as is comfortable at your level, and good luck!

Posted in Business of Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , | 28 Comments »

 
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