Book industry reviews: what are they, and why are they useful?

Great authors are great readers, and as a reader, there are several sources you might turn to in order to discover new books: trusted newspapers like The New York Times, book bloggers, social media hubs like Goodreads and Instagram, or your local bookstore or library.

But have you ever wondered how booksellers and librarians find out about upcoming book releases, or how publishing professionals keep up to date with emerging authors and industry trends?

Typically, these industry leaders and tastemakers will turn to trade publications such as Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, and Library Journal for book news and reviews. If you’re unfamiliar with the ins and outs of these esteemed publications, then you’re in the right place! This article will explore how you can get a book review in a trade publication, thereby connecting you with booksellers, librarians, and other bookish professionals across the country.

What is an “industry review”?

An industry review is a term for a book review that is featured in a trade publication reaching publishing professionals, booksellers, and/or librarians directly. Here are some of the most common trade publications:

As an author, why do I want an industry review?

First and foremost, a positive review with a longstanding, reputable industry publication will help lend your book credibility. These reviews hold a lot of weight to those in the industry, and a starred review or favorable blurb can go a long way.

It will also help get your book in front of booksellers and librarians – and since both groups have major purchasing power, it’s not a bad idea to get on their radar.

How can I get an industry review?

Most trade publications require a formal submission, which includes sending copies of a book at least 4-6 months in advance of publication day. Often, your publisher or publicist will handle the submission process for you, using an ARC. (Not sure what an ARC is? Learn more here).

Not every submission will lead to a review, but if a book is accepted, the review will typically be published in advance of release day.

I’m an indie author. Can I still submit my book for an industry review?

The short answer is yes! Indie authors often face a lot of hurdles getting their books in front of literary tastemakers like bookstore owners and librarians, and industry reviews can be a great way to help bridge the gap.

Indie authors often have two options when it comes time to submit for a review: a free option and a paid option.

Traditional submissions, while free, are not guaranteed to return a review. And they are typically much stricter as far as the timeline is concerned. If you or your publisher won’t have access to ARCs 4 to 6 months in advance of pub day, then you may not be eligible for a free review submission.

In order to provide more flexibility for indie authors and small publishers, many industry publications have a paid model for submissions that allows you to submit for a review on your own timeline. For a fee, you are guaranteed to receive an unbiased review, typically within 4-8 weeks of your submission.

One question I get a lot from authors is whether paid reviews are taken seriously. Because paid review services do not guarantee a positive outcome, they are seen as legitimate by book industry members as long as they come from a reputable source like Kirkus, Foreword or Publishers Weekly.

Which publications have paid review options?

While there are countless paid book review opportunities out there, only a handful hold genuine credibility and name-recognition within the industry. We typically recommend paid reviews with these trusted publications:

Although it’s not necessary, you can certainly submit for paid reviews with multiple publications if your budget allows.

And if you’re unsure about a certain paid opportunity that you’ve found, do some research before rolling the dice. Look up the publications’ social media accounts and see what their follower counts and engagement rate are. Check out some sample book reviews on their website, and don’t be afraid to ask for testimonials from past customers. If things seem at all suspect, definitely hold off. And, if the offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.

I’ve got my review back – what do I do now?

Hooray! The hard part (waiting) is over. You should now scan your review for any potential blurbs that you might want to use in promotional materials.

Once you’ve found your money quote, you can make the most of it by:

  • Getting it printed on the final version of your book. Your publisher might want to add this to your front or back cover, or an inside praise page, if your timeline allows for it.
  • Adding it to the Editorial Reviews section of your Amazon listing.
  • Sharing it on social media, and adding it to social media banners.
  • Adding it to your website.
  • Including it on printed promo materials such as a press release, bookmarks, or postcards.

While industry reviews are invaluable for their ability to connect your book directly with industry insiders before your publication date, they also have many long-term benefits. Positive blurbs from these reviews can be used in promotional materials for years to come!

What is an ARC and why is it important for publicity

What is an ARC?

An ARC, or advanced reader copy, is a version of a book–either in digital or print format–that is made available to select readers before the official publication date.

Is there a difference between an ARC and a galley?

It depends on who you ask! Some will tell you the terms are synonymous, whereas others will note slight differences between the two. For some, the term galley more accurately refers to an earlier proof, which isn’t as far along in the proofreading and copyediting process. They instead use the phrase bound galley to signify a version is more polished than a traditional galley. In this case, bound galley and ARC both refer to the same thing: a near-final version of the book that will be shared with a wider audience ahead of publication.

Who gets to see an ARC?

ARCs may pass through many hands, but they are primarily shared with reviewers, tastemakers, and media professionals with the hopes of building buzz for the author and their new release.

So, how are ARCs used in publicity?

ARCs are traditionally used to:

  • Get blurbs. You can share your ARC with authors and experts who have agreed to provide a blurb. These blurbs can then be printed on the cover or interior of your book.
  • Submit for industry reviews. Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Foreword, Shelf Awareness, and other popular industry publications will review books prior to release day. Many of these groups require 3-4 months lead time, so the earlier you can send a copy their way, the better!
  • Secure reviews from readers, bloggers, and influencers. Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and book blogs each house unique avid reader communities. Always check to see if the contact you are reaching out to has review guidelines posted, and follow their requested procedures. And keep in mind that most of these reviewers work for free. If they do agree to review your book, be sure to show your gratitude for their time and energy!
  • Coordinate media placement and interviews. Local newspapers, radio stations and podcasters are also great targets for ARC-sharing. If you share a book with them ahead of your release, they may be able to fit you in for an interview or feature surrounding pub day.
  • Enter awards contests. Some literary awards programs accept ARCs, while others only accept final copies. The benefit to using ARCs when you can is that you’ll receive your results earlier, and can promote award wins as soon as possible.
  • Notify booksellers and librarians. If you’re hoping to book an event or to place your title on local shelves, you’ll want to share an ARC with nearby bookstores and libraries. After previewing the advanced copy, these tastemakers may be more likely to pre-order your book and/or set up an event with you.

Will flaws in my ARC negatively affect the response I get from awards committees, reviewers, influencers and booksellers?

Reviewers, influencers and industry professionals are used to working with advanced copies, and they are attuned to the fact that typos and formatting errors will likely be reworked before publication date. These small flaws rarely affect how a reviewer will receive your book.

That said, it’s always best to check guidelines prior to submitting a review request or award entry. If the individual or organization only accepts final copies, you would want to wait until after publication date to complete your request.

Is it safe to share digital ARCs?

Sharing digital ARCs, or eARCs, is typically safe if you are sending an attachment to a trusted contact. If you are worried about sending attachments, you can set up a privacy-protected listing for your ebook on NetGalley. Or, your publisher or publicist may set this up on your behalf.

NetGalley is home to over 400,000 users–mainly reviewers, booksellers, librarians and educators–who are looking to stay up-to-date on new book releases. Listing your book on the site helps to expand exposure, increase reader reviews, and can potentially lead to pre-orders.

Get sharing!

ARCs are a very valuable tool in book promotion. Creating a plan for how to use your ARCs will help boost exposure for your new release and will set you on a path to success!

publication day

What happens AFTER my book launches?

Authors jump through countless hoops leading up to their publication day. In fact, a massive part of publicity work is typically done before a book is even available for sale. Authors are encouraged to create a website, grow their social media following, send ARCs out for early reviews, set up pre-order campaigns, and coordinate a launch event, all before their book has hit shelves. So, when publication day finally arrives, many authors breathe a sigh of relief. You can kick back, relax, and celebrate all you’ve accomplished. As you should!

Then, after all the party hats are packed away, confusion — maybe even panic —sets in. No one told you how to continue supporting your book after publication day. What can you do to keep the momentum going?

Below are eight tips for what you can do after your book launch. And, if you are working with a professional publicity or marketing agency, they may be able to take some of these tasks off your plate. Ask them how they can support you post-launch!

Keep Posting on Social Media

  • Stay active! It’s important to keep up a consistent posting schedule so that your name stays on reader’s radars, especially when in-between book releases. If you’re worried about time-management, or feel as though you don’t have enough content ideas to fill out 3 posts per week, you can certainly post less frequently, as long as you stay consistent.
  • Share the positive reviews you’ve received. Remember to thank the bloggers and influencers who reviewed your book and posted about it on social media. This group is the backbone of book publicity, and most of the work they do is for free!
  • Host a post-pub day giveaway! Perhaps you have extra swag, bookplates, or signed copies sitting around? Time to clean up, and draw attention back to your new release.
  • Keep celebrating! Your book is in its infancy, and many good things are still to come. Did you hit number one in your category on Amazon? Has your book won a literary award? Will there be a limited-time sale? Is your publisher planning to release the book in new formats, such as paperback or audiobook? Keep sharing the good news!

Advance Your Skills on Your Social Accounts Website, and Newsletter

  • Branch out and learn new skills! The digital realm is complex and always evolving. Each year, there are brand new resources that authors can use to their advantage. Keep abreast of trends, and get inspired by how other authors are adapting and promoting their work online. Here are a few tools that are popular now:
  • Create a content calendar. This will allow you to schedule your social media posts in advance, saving you time and effort throughout the week.
  • Learn how to use Pinned Tweets on Twitter. A Pinned Tweet stays at the top of your page, so it should contain the most important information you’re trying to communicate — i.e. all the key information about your book and where/how to order a copy!
  • Learn how to use LinkTree and add it to your social media profiles. LinkTree helps you keep all your links in one place. You can add purchase links for your book to reduce the number of clicks it takes for a follower to buy your book. The fewer steps involved, the more likely it is that a reader will complete their purchase!
  • Create a TikTok account. TikTok hosts a vibrant community of readers — largely young adults — who are looking to connect over new books. If you are in the YA genre, this is definitely something you should explore!
  • Update your website and social media headers. After publication day, be sure to update your banners with language such as “on sale now” or “available everywhere!”
  • Set up an email newsletter for fans to subscribe to. You should incentivize sign-ups by giving away something for free. A sample of the book (a few chapters long) often works well.

Mobilize Your Personal Network

  • Ask friends, family, and fans to share reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.
  • Ask your network to request a copy of your book from their local library or indie bookstore. The higher the demand is for your book, the more likely it is that these professsionals will order copies in bulk.

Set Up Meet and Greets with Tastemakers

  • Approach booksellers about stocking your book. Bring your book and a copy of your press kit with you, and ask the bookseller for just a few minutes of their time. Give them your quick elevator pitch, and let them know why their customers would be interested in your book. If the store doesn’t agree to order copies right away, that’s OK. Continue supporting their store, and show them that you are serious about a mutual partnership.
  • Get in touch with libraries too! If you are stopping by in person, bring your book and a copy of your press kit. If you are not able to visit, consider mailing out postcards with information on your new release. Let the library know that you are interested in partnering with them, and helping them get more patrons through their doors.

Connect with Other Authors for Dual Promos

  • Partner up with another author for a dual event or panel. Having two authors for an event essentially doubles the audience size, which can make dual events very appealing to bookstores and libraries!
  • Set up a double giveaway. Offer your book along with a friend’s book for a dual giveaway on social media to increase awareness and participation!
  • Set up an IG or FB Live where you two chat, or agree to an interview hosted by a third party.
  • Try a newsletter feature swap! If you both have email newsletters, you can each promote the other’s book to help grow your audience and readership.

Pitch Yourself as an Expert

  • Author-focused media — online, print, radio or TV opportunities that may require you to speak on your expertise — can be set up months or even years after your book’s release. Especially if you are a nonfiction author, or an expert in your field, the media will be interested in what you have to say. So, consider pitching yourself as an expert to journalists and local TV programs!
  • Keep up to date with conferences and festivals, and apply to the ones that interest you. Many events are always looking for expert speakers!

Write Guest Articles

  • Guest articles are beneficial for author branding and are an effective way to keep your name in front of potential readers, especially while in between book releases. For a full list of tips on writing guest articles, check out our previous article here.

Consider an Ad Campaign

  • Digital marketing campaigns can start anytime and do not need to be tied to your publication date. Here are a few options you might consider:
  • Run ads in reader newsletters surrounding a special price drop on your ebook. If you’re going to be running a sale, you’ll want lots of readers to know about it. These ads help to boost exposure to tens of thousands of dedicated readers and tend to be very effective at increasing sales!
  • Plan seasonal ads. Are the holidays coming up? Run an ad campaign surrounding the season in order to take advantage of the festive gift giving. Or, if your book is addressing a serious topic such as Breast Cancer Awareness, consider running ads surrounding the related awareness month to boost exposure and draw attention to a good cause.
  • Check out marketing opportunities with your local bookseller association. If you want to reach booksellers directly, you can purchase an ad in a newsletter that will reach hundreds of indie booksellers in your local region.

As you can see, there are plenty of strategies for building your author brand and growing your readership while you’re in between book releases. Take stock of which strategies play to your strengths and pair well with your book’s genre, and follow that path!

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Links used: https://booksforward.com/tips-for-writing-great-guest-articles/

12 Tips for Writing Impactful Guest Articles

Today, we’re back again to discuss everyone’s favorite tool for author branding: guest articles! While each individual publication or blog will have its own set of rules you’ll need to follow, these general guidelines are designed to help you get started.

Side note: if you’re wondering what exactly guest articles are and why they’re worth your time, check out my previous article here. Then, return back to this page and read up on these specific writing tips.

Exclusivity matters

Most outlets want first-publication rights for an article — they’re looking for content that was written exclusively for them. This means that the article you submit should not have previously appeared anywhere else, in print or online. Once it’s published, you’re free to link to it on your website and social media pages.

Tailor Your Topic

Before you begin writing, brainstorm topic ideas that both fit within your realm of expertise and meet the expectations and interests of the publication you’ll be pitching.

Ask yourself: Who is going to read this article, and what are they interested in? What is a timely, relevant topic that I can write about? What qualifications do I have that make me an authority on this topic? What makes my perspective unique, something that no one else seems to be saying right now?

If your topic is unique, timely and tailored to both your expertise and the reader’s interests, then you’ve hit the jackpot.

Self-promotion is not always your friend

This is incredibly important. While it’s our job at Books Forward to promote you and your book, it’s not the job of an editor. Their job is to provide meaningful content to their readers. Guest articles and op-eds are meant to position you as an expert, give your name exposure and cement your brand. If an editor feels like you’re blatantly selling a product, it will likely turn them off.

That said, book bloggers are a different breed. They may not mind helping you promote your book via a guest article, because their audience is primarily interested in learning about authors and the books they write. They want to hear about a character’s development, the setting, your insights into your chosen genre, your experience as a writer and how this book came to be.

Keep and eye on word count

Most media outlets and blogs will provide a word count, so try your best to stick to it. Editors and bloggers know their readers better than anyone else, so that’s why they provide specific word count guidelines. If they don’t specify how long your article should be, take a look at other guest articles they’ve published in the past.

Cut the jargon

Write as if you’re having a conversation with someone. Write in terms that readers will understand and identify with. If the subject you’re writing on is complicated, give examples or explain the concept in detail. If people can’t interpret what they’re reading, they’ll move on without a second thought.

Craft a catchy but informative headline

The editor may or may not use what you suggest depending on their needs — SEO, anyone? — but it makes their lives easier if you give them a title to start with.

Tips and lists

People love “quick hit” information that they can apply to their own lives. If you can, provide some tips related to your topic or an easy-to-read bulleted list of takeaways.

Back up your claims

If there are statistics, case studies or real life examples that support your opinions, consider including them in your article. It will lend you credibility and readers will be more likely to trust what you have to say.

Provide links

If you’re referring to a specific news article, organization or anything that has a website associated with it, provide a link. This helps with website hits and can get more eyes on your piece!

Include a bio

Write a 2-3 sentence third-person bio to plug into the bottom of your article. This should at least include your name, expertise, your book title with the publication date, where you live and your website. If you’re sending along a headshot, make sure to include photo credits as well.

Prepare to make changes

If the editor or blogger looks over your article and asks you to make edits, be flexible and accommodating to their requests. It’s great news that they want to work with you on your piece! Let them know that you’re willing to meet them in the middle in order to provide the best article for their readership.

Show some love

After your piece is published, be sure to share it with your readers! This not only shows the publication or blog that you appreciate them for hosting your article but also helps your article get more attention.

With these tips in mind, you’re on your way to creating impactful guest articles. Double check that your article draft complies with the specifications outlined by the individual publication or blog you plan on pitching, and you’ll be all set!

Why Books Come Out on Tuesdays

Why are books released on Tuesdays?

I hate to spoil the ending, but we don’t really know why. So, if you’re looking for the one right and true answer, you won’t find it here. That said, if you enjoy a good mystery and like parsing through a mixture of plausible and somewhat out-there theories, please pull up a chair!

Tradition

Ask a bookseller or a publishing professional why books are released on Tuesdays, and many of them will tell you that’s just how it’s always been done. However long-standing a tradition may be though, its longevity rarely reveals anything about its origins.

Out of every day of the week, why Tuesday? Was it a random choice made by someone who had no idea it would become the standard practice? Or was it a well-researched decision, proven time and again to be the most optimal day for book sales?

Popular theories

According to Laurie Hertzel, writing for the Star Tribune, the Tuesday standard can likely be attributed to three root causes:

Ease of distribution

Is money always the root cause? Publishing is a business after all. Because consolidating new releases to one day can reduce costs, this theory seems quite compelling.

Consider this: if books are released with equal frequency on any given day of the week, that means a distribution company will need to send out more trucks throughout the week to deliver shipments, and those trucks may only be partially full if there isn’t enough volume to fill it. In these cases, both the distribution company and the publisher may get the short end of the stick. The publisher could end up paying more money for extra transportation throughout the week, and the distribution company is sending out trucks that aren’t completely full, which is a loss in potential revenue.

So having a common day of the week for new releases makes sense, but this doesn’t exactly address why Tuesday is the magic day. It may be a stretch, but some believe it’s quite simple—if a Tuesday release is selling well, there should still be time for a bookstore to order more copies before the weekend, which wouldn’t necessarily be true of later days in the week.

Level playing field for booksellers

Having a specific, already agreed upon “laydown date” helps ensure a level playing field. If stores were able to sell new books the moment they are received from the distributor, certain stores would end up with an unfair advantage over neighboring stores who are still waiting on their copies to arrive. Even online retailers like Amazon and Bookshop.org are not supposed to send books to customers before the laydown date.

This usually works, although in September of 2019 Amazon was involved in a scandal after sending out copies of Margaret Atwood’s highly anticipated sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale—The Testaments. Constance Grady reported on the issue for Vox, and spoke with indie bookseller Lexi Beach who runs Astoria Bookshop. While Beach didn’t believe the scandal would negatively impact her sales, stating that people who pre-order books on Amazon aren’t necessarily her customers, the fact that Amazon can violate an embargo without facing the usual punishment reveals the unfair advantage they have in the industry.

Once again, having a common laydown date makes sense, but why must that day be Tuesday? Some say that Tuesdays are usually low-sales days, and new releases help even out an otherwise disappointing day for profits.

A better shot at the bestseller list

Every author wants to be a bestseller and every publisher wants to see bestseller-level sales—but can a Tuesday release day make their dreams come true? Possibly!

With a specific laydown date ensuring that books are put on shelves across the country on the same day, book sales are more neatly organized into a strong first week of sales, rather than being dispersed across several weeks.

As Constance Grady notes in her article on The Testaments scandal: “If the book’s release date is fuzzy for some reason—if some parts of the country get it a week before other parts do—its early sales become diffuse. They get scattered across two (or more) weeks instead of one. Which, in turn, makes it harder for the book to debut as a bestseller.”

And for the third time, we are left wondering, does anyone know why Tuesday matters? Nicholas Latimer of Alfred A. Knopf told Laurie Hertzel that “Most stores tabulate and report their sales for any given week on Monday, and then start fresh on Tuesday.” It’s possible that these sales reports strategically affect bestseller rankings.

Bestseller lists are complicated though, and different lists have different criteria a book must meet to qualify. If you’re looking for a more in-depth explanation of bestseller lists, check out this helpful article from Vox.

A theory all publishing professionals can get behind

Oftentimes I find myself wondering: Tuesday is great, but why not Monday? Let’s start raking in book sales earlier in the week.

But then I remember that publishing professionals work Monday through Friday. Having books release on Mondays would likely cause some very hectic starts to the work week. Tuesdays, though, are more manageable because we have time to get our ducks in a row on Monday before the big day. Is that a flimsy and ultimately selfish theory? Maybe, but I think it makes sense!

The one right and true answer

We live in a postmodern world (or possibly a post-postmodern world—who’s keeping track?) so you know there isn’t one right and true answer. Maybe it’s ultimately up to you to decide. Do you have a theory that wasn’t listed here? Let me know!

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Links used:

Star Tribune Article: https://www.startribune.com/why-do-books-publish-on-tuesdays/392809791/

Vox Article – Amazon:
https://www.vox.com/culture/2019/9/5/20849562/amazon-testaments-margaret-atwood-handmaids-tale-sequel-embargo

Vox Article – Bestseller List:
https://www.vox.com/culture/2017/9/13/16257084/bestseller-lists-explained

guest article

Here’s Why Guest Articles are Important for Authors

 

How to Use Guest Articles to Build Your Author Brand

Developing your author brand can feel like a long and confusing process. It’s difficult to know where to begin or what to focus on. After all, there are so many options—countless avenues to explore! It may help to start with something you, as an author, are already familiar with: writing.

What are guest articles, anyway?

You may have experience blogging regularly on your website or sending out email newsletters to your subscribers. While these are important and worthwhile strategies, this isn’t quite what we’re referring to when talking about guest articles. A guest article (or guest post) is usually any piece of writing an author produces that is published on a third-party hosting site—a medium (website, newsletter, magazine, etc.) that does not belong to the author.

Most hosting sites will want first-publication rights for an article, meaning they want content that was written exclusively for them. So, unless they specifically approve a reprint or an excerpt, any article you submit should not have appeared anywhere else before, in print or online.

In addition to first-publication rights, most sites are looking for the following in an article:

  • Originality. What are you saying that hasn’t already been said?
  • Expertise. Why should you be the person who says it?
  • Timeliness. Why does this matter now?

You may feel limited by this at first—especially if you’re used to blogging on your own terms—but there’s actually a lot of flexibility here! The term guest article is really an umbrella category that encompasses a wide array of content, from casual blog posts to formal op-eds.

How do I find the right media outlet to share my article?

Researching the right outlet to approach will take a bit of time. While there’s no one-size-fits-all method for finding a perfect match, you can narrow your focus by considering a few key elements, each of which relates to your author brand:

  • Style. Do you prefer a more casual or formal style? What adjectives would you use to describe your writing?Newspapers usually feature academic, journalistic, opinionated, and of-the-moment pieces. Blogs, digital magazines, and niche newsletters often share more laid-back, relatable, humorous, or specialized articles from guest authors.
  • Audience. Who do you want to reach? Who could benefit from hearing your message?If your article offers writing advice, it would be wise to contact magazines and websites that cater to fellow writers. If your topic is highly specialized, try pitching specific publications that reach readers in your field of expertise.
  • Message. What topics do you feel passionate about? What conversations are you always having with friends, colleagues, and fans?You don’t need me to tell you that your message is a huge part of your brand. You likely have a few main themes that come up in your writing, or several talking points you lean on during interviews. That being said, while it’s important to have cohesive messaging, it’s also OK to branch out into new territory every now and then. Follow your passion and your interests!

How do I pitch a guest article?

First, double check to make sure the media outlets you want to approach publish articles from guest authors. Read a few pieces and take time to explore the outlet. Confirm it’s a good fit for you in terms of style, audience, and message.

Second—and I cannot emphasize this enough—check for submission instructions! Newspapers, magazines, and blogs often have their instructions clearly listed on their website. Submission requirements vary from outlet to outlet. Some may want to see a full article already written, whereas others may prefer to see a list of potential topics you can write on. It’s important that you adhere to these guidelines in order to have the best chance at success.

Third, follow up. Unless their guidelines say otherwise, it should be OK for you to check in if you don’t hear back within a week or two.

How do guest articles benefit me as an author?

Ah, the million-dollar question. Guest articles do require some heavy lifting from you as a writer, but you’ll certainly reap the benefits! These articles are designed to help you:

  • Reflect your expertise. You’re an author, and that means you’re an expert, both in terms of writing craft and the topic you write on. Publishing articles can help you secure your place as an authority in your field.
  • Reach a new audience. Getting your writing published with a new media outlet exposes your work to a new audience, connecting your message directly with readers who may not have heard of you or your book yet!
  • Get your name in front of readers. This is obvious, right? Publishing guest articles is especially helpful for authors who are between book releases and want to keep their name on readers’ radars in the interim.
  • Improve your SEO. If you’re able to link to your website or social media accounts at the end of your article, that can help improve your search engine optimization! Once your article is published, you can also link back to it on your website. This way, you’ll be driving traffic in both directions.
  • Help others. One of the many goals of writing is to help others. So, share your expertise and wisdom—make the world a better place!
  • Become better acquainted with your message, passions, and talking points. While you’re helping others, you’re also helping yourself. As you dive deeper into your favorite topics and begin to crystallize your message, you may find it easier to do various other authorial tasks, such as answering interview questions or writing social media posts.

At the end of the day, guest articles shouldn’t feel like a dark cloud looming over you. They are a fun opportunity to play to your strengths, explore your interests, connect with new readers, and solidify your branding. And, since they don’t necessarily need to be published around your publication date, you can start writing articles and pitching them anytime. Why not now?

publication dates

Did your book’s publication date shift? Here’s why that’s OK

I, for one, hate change. I’m a planner and a list-maker, and switching gears makes me dizzy. Checklists, deadlines and color-coded markers are the backbone of our society, sure, but when plans change, it’s better to adapt than to fight it out.

Why do publication dates change?

Publication dates can shift for a variety of reasons. However, it’s important to keep in mind that in every case, your team may suggest a date change because they believe your release would be more successful on a different day. Your team knows that publishing a book is more often a marathon than a sprint. While detours may add a mile or two to the journey, they can also better prepare you for crossing the finish line.

Here are a few common reasons for moving a book’s release date:

Production Delays: From editing and designing to printing and shipping ARCs, a lot of work goes into production, and there are often several eyes and hands working on a book all at once. A thorough publishing process opens up the possibility for delays. Editors often factor time into their schedule for a few things to go wrong. Even so, if a snag is hit in one department, it may cause others to fall behind too.

Unforeseen Circumstances: The pandemic is one of the most monumental unforeseen circumstances we’ve encountered in a while. Due to its impact on travel, many books that had planned in-person book tours had to adjust their schedules. To see some of the hundreds of altered publication dates, check out this spreadsheet from Publishers Weekly.

Competition for Media Attention: Say the planned publication date for your book was set for Election Day, or a similarly newsworthy date. As the day approaches, and you realize the impending media frenzy, your team may decide to move your release date out in order to give it a better shot at securing publicity.

Catching the Trend Wave: Book releases can also shift to earlier dates on the calendar! Typically, this is because your team is looking to capitalize on a seasonal or topically relevant trend that would help your book reach a larger audience.

How to make your date change work for you

If you haven’t begun promoting the book yet, it will be relatively easy to make a radical change, should you choose to do so. You can switch from a summer release to a fall one, for example, which was the route many publishers chose in light of the pandemic.

Or, if you’re simply recovering from a small production delay, your date may only shift back one or two weeks. In any case, let your publicist know about your date change ASAP, if they aren’t already in the know. This will be important as they begin to create press materials and organize their outreach to the media.

What if promotion has already begun using the old date?

If you’ve already begun promoting the book, a date change may feel a bit more stressful. Rest assured, though, it’s still manageable!

First, you’ll need to let your publicity team know ASAP about the new date. Your publicist may need to update interested media contacts, and they’ll want to have the correct information for their pitching moving forward.

Plan to spread the word of your date change on social media–here is where a pinned tweet may come in handy! A pinned tweet allows you to showcase one tweet at the top of your profile page, so it won’t get buried at the bottom of your feed over time. Pinning a tweet about your date change will make sure that it stays on your readers’ radars. If you’ve never pinned a tweet before, here are some helpful tips from Business Insider.

Also, be sure to make any necessary changes to your website and Twitter and Facebook banners. You may need to have new graphics made accordingly.

If you are using an email newsletter to keep friends, family, and fans updated, you should send out a special announcement of the date change as well.

What if readers forget about my book or lose interest due to the delay?

This is a valid concern, but it’s equally possible for the delay to translate into added anticipation for the release!

When in doubt, get creative: ask yourself what you can offer to readers that will be sure to keep your book on the forefront of their minds. This will likely look different for every author depending on your audience’s needs, but here are a few options to get you started:

You can plan a special giveaway in the interim, such as offering free signed bookplates to your audience. Or, you can set up a FB Live chat for your would-be pub day, where you play a few games and answer questions from your followers.

In the end, publication days may change, but our love for a good book never will.

 

bookplates

What are bookplates, and do readers and authors use them?

What are bookplates and how can I use them?

 

Have you ever loaned someone a well-loved copy of your favorite book, only to never lay eyes on that book ever again? Have you decided that generosity is futile because no one understands the deep personal attachment you have with your books? Yeah, me too.

I still cringe when I think about loaning a friend my copy of “The Fault in Our Stars” in middle school. As I handed over the book, she asked me, Can I use highlighter in this? The audacity.

Well, bookplates were invented to solve this problem by documenting the personal relationship you have with your book and ensuring that everyone knows this book belongs to you. Are bookplates passive aggressive? Maybe, depending on who you ask.

But they can also be a fun way for an author to personalize their book for readers, even during a pandemic, and can create a unique experience that will leave them eagerly awaiting your next release.

A Brief History

A bookplate, sometimes called an ex libris plate, is a label that is affixed inside a book. Traditionally, bookplates were used to indicate ownership, and historians have found evidence of bookplates being used in Ancient Egypt and Europe during the Middle Ages. Prior to the advent of the printing press in the 15th-century, books were rare and extremely valuable, so it was important to mark ownership in case a book was lost or stolen–but whether or not a bookplate actually resulted in more books being returned to their owner is unknown.

It’s safe to say that early iterations of the bookplate were more practical than ornamental. Later on, however, these inscriptions developed into elaborate artistic expressions, as wealthy patrons commissioned designs from famous contemporary artists. Take a look at this bookplate designed by Albrecht Dürer (circa the late 15th or early 16th century) from the Metropolitan Museum of Art: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/387572

Since bookplates were primarily used to reflect ownership, they often included a family crest or coat of arms. Artists sometimes inscribed these by hand or made a woodcut or engraving to transfer their designs, as Dürer is known for.

Nowadays, bookplates are usually affixed to the inside cover or front matter using a sticker or a stamp. Bookplates have also taken on a variety of uses. They are still widely used to indicate ownership, but they can also be used to display an author’s signature or otherwise personalize a book.

An Author’s Signature

Adding a signature to a book helps to bridge the gap between the author and the reader. The personal connections made during a book event or book signing can turn even a casual reader into a lifelong fan of an author’s work.

Although the current pandemic has halted many in-person gatherings, book signings have thankfully continued on through the use of bookplates!

Bookplates are a safe way for authors to send their signature to anyone, from booksellers to fans, while abiding by social distancing measures. If you can’t meet someone in person to sign their book, sending a signed bookplate their way is a great alternative.

An author might also choose to sign bookplates for efficiency if they are signing a number of books all at once for a bookstore, book club, or other large event.

Here are some examples of authors using bookplates in recent months (be sure to follow each of these authors on Twitter for more updates!)

Sara Sligar: https://twitter.com/saraxsligar/status/1264245770582028289

Maggie Stiefvater: https://twitter.com/mstiefvater/status/1361431121486114819

Adam Silvera: https://twitter.com/AdamSilvera/status/1361392998496440322

Publicity Plan

At this point, you may be wondering, how can bookplates become a part of my publicity plan? When do I use them and who should I send them to?

Bookplates are especially useful when paired with virtual events. You can offer to send signed bookplates to a bookstore in advance of an event, ensuring that each attendee has access to a signed copy.

Not only does this benefit attendees who now have access to personalized books, but this also helps build a good relationship with your local bookseller. Bookplates can be used as an incentive to encourage attendees to buy their books from their local store instead of from Amazon, in the spirit of a shop-local campaign!

You can also offer to send signed bookplates as a free gift for fans who pre-order a copy of the book. Ask fans to DM or email their receipt to you, and then mail them a bookplate with a personal note thanking them for their support.

Additionally, bookplates can be used as an exclusive perk for a giveaway. A bookplate giveaway can be held in conjunction with a virtual event or on social media, just for fun!

Get Creative!

Although traditionally bookplates have been used in a limited number of ways, the possibilities are truly endless. There are plenty of unexpected ways to personalize books for readers, and to make your book stand out from the crowd.

Some authors, like David Sedaris, add drawings or sketches to accompany their signature. These drawings often relate to a specific meaning within the book, operating like an inside joke or a teaser for what’s to come.

Another author recently took this idea and turned it up a few notches. Will Maclean, author of “The Apparition Phase” created a unique and memorable publicity campaign by personalizing copies of his book in a way no one has seen before.

Maclean signed 1000 copies of his book, but made things a bit more interesting by “hiding” a 1000-word short story within these copies. Each book contained one word from the story, as well as a number (ranging from 1 to 1000) indicating its position within the story. When all 1000 words are arranged in the correct order, the short story will be revealed.

This tactic turned readers into eager detectives, hoping to string all the words together. Fans flocked to Twitter, sharing each word that was included within their signed copy and keeping track of progress. 

https://twitter.com/lovedreadinthis/status/1331611138711285760

At the end of the day, bookplates are all about showing readers and booksellers that you care. They help to create a heartfelt memory for the reader which will have them reluctant to loan their copy of your book out to anyone – even their closest friends!

 

Amplify Your Book: The Value of Radio for Authors

As an author, your first radio interview can feel daunting, exciting — maybe even frustrating if you worry the whole thing will be in vain. Radio’s dead, right? Or at least dying? Will it really help to promote my book? Like all media that isn’t deemed “social,” radio has been given a bad rap in the past few years. But just as print books haven’t keeled over at the sight of ebooks and audiobooks, radio seems to have carved out an essential place in our lives.

Debunking the Myth of “Drive Time” as Radio Royalty

If you’re like me, when you think of a time and place for radio listening, you think of your morning or afternoon commute. This is what’s known as “drive time” radio, which typically encompasses the hours of 6 a.m.–10 a.m. and 3 p.m.–7 p.m.

Many authors believe that drive time is the only time in which radio effectively reaches a large audience of potential readers. If you’re on air during any other time slot, you might as well not be on air at all. In fact, a January 2019 study from Advertiser Perceptions which surveyed 301 marketers and other agency professionals determined that advertisers feel the same way: advertisers believe that more than half of all AM/FM radio listening happens during morning and afternoon commutes. (Source: Advertiser Perceptions as cited in Westwood One).

Yet the reality of radio listening proves quite different. Nielsen Audio reveals that morning and afternoon drive times each comprise 21% of radio listening, which, while strong, actually ranks second to midday listening. Twenty-six percent of listening occurs between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Furthermore, this study reveals that, while advertising professionals assume that only 13% of radio listening happens during the weekend, the reality cited by Nielsen is 21%—the same percentage of listening held by one of the coveted drive times!

For a more thorough outline of the mythical superiority of drive time radio, check out this article from Pierre Bouvard, CIO at Cumulus/Westwood One.

Radio-Podcasting Crossover

When it comes to the potential reach of a radio interview, there is another factor worth considering. Many radio programs also publish their segments online via their website or a podcasting platform such as BlogTalkRadio, Spreaker, Buzzsprout, or Podbean. This creates a web link (or multiple links) of your interview that can be shared on social media, creating digital impressions and meeting more potential readers.

In addition to reaching an extended audience, podcast links also contribute to author branding. These links can be published on the media page of your author website where booksellers, librarians and media professionals can check up on your credentials. 

Relationship-Building with Hosts

Another important aspect of radio is the chance to make an impression on a host or producer that develops into a mutually-beneficial partnership. It’s not uncommon for a radio interview to lead to more coverage down the road, whether it’s a “part two” to your conversation that will be recorded next week or a follow-up interview set to take place when you release your next book.

Remember that radio is beneficial to you beyond the here and now. With SEO-serving web links and the opportunity to build your promotional network, radio can be an investment in your long-term branding.

Becoming Fluent in Your Own Book

At this point, I hope you see why radio is a valuable addition to your plan for book publicity! But in case you need one more reason to jump on the bandwagon: radio will also help you become fluent in your book. 

Writing is one remarkable skill that you have. Yet verbally communicating what you’ve written about in a way that is concise, relatable and entertaining is another skill altogether. Radio interviews operate as the perfect testing ground for you to share your elevator pitch (without seeming rehearsed!) and to answer some questions you may not have prepared for in a fairly low-stakes environment. These interviews will help you become fluent in your book so you can shine during future TV interviews, bookstore events, Q&As with book clubs, and networking events.

Radio interviews can be an extraordinary tool for authors—no matter the time of day! If presented to you, I would recommend seizing the opportunity to amplify your book, gain credibility, and make a lasting impression.