How to develop an elevator pitch

Describe yourself in three words. I’m sure you’ve been faced with this dreaded, near-impossible task at some point. The longer you consider your options, the farther you seem to be from your goal. How can anyone distill their identity, with its many layers, into only three words?

As an author, you’re about to face a similarly head-scratching challenge: creating a 1-2 sentence elevator pitch for your book. Packaging the plot, emotional interest and core selling points of your work into such a small container may feel daunting, but with a systematic approach it can be simple and pain-free. And, as you navigate through the various stages of your book’s life, you’ll quickly find this pitch to be one of your most valuable assets!

What is an elevator pitch?

Also called a logline, an elevator pitch is a brief description of a book that serves as a plot summary and presents a sales hook. Traditionally, this logline will be no longer than two sentences, so concision is key. 

Your goal with your elevator pitch is to grab your audience’s attention–whether they are an agent, publisher, bookseller, librarian or general reader–and get them excited about your book. That said, your pitch can’t be full of empty promises. It has to accurately describe your plot, match the tone of the book, and reflect what makes your work compelling and unique. 

How do I write an elevator pitch?

A good logline will use original, descriptive words and will address the following questions in a clear and concise way:

  • What is the setting?
  • Who is the protagonist?
  • What does the protagonist want? What is their central motivation or goal?
  • What is at stake for the protagonist?
  • Who (or what) is the antagonist, and how do they relate to the protagonist?
  • What will the protagonist actually do in the story? What action will they take?

25-Word Example (based on André Aciman’s “Call Me By Your Name”):

  • Italy in the 1980s: 17-year-old Elio falls passionately in love with an American man. The six weeks they spend together, though fleeting, change him forever.
  • What is the setting? Italy in the 1980s
  • Who is the protagonist? 17-year-old Elio
  • What does the protagonist want? To find love
  • What is at stake for the protagonist? Heartbreak (implied)
  • Who (or what) is the antagonist? The fleeting six-week time limit that restricts their romance; a society that doesn’t understand love between two men (implied)
  • What will the protagonist actually do in the story? He pursues a life-changing romance with an American man

50-Word Example (based on Mason Deaver’s “I Wish You All the Best”):

  • When 18-year-old Ben comes out to their parents as nonbinary, they’re kicked out of the house and forced to switch schools. Dealing with heightened anxiety, they’re torn between their desire for anonymity and their growing attraction to charming student Nathan, whose friendship helps Ben believe a happier life is possible.
  • What is the setting? High school
  • Who is the protagonist? 18-year-old Ben
  • What does the protagonist want? A happier life
  • What is at stake for the protagonist? They risk losing the safety net of their anonymity 
  • Who (or what) is the antagonist? Their parents who kicked them out; their heightened anxiety
  • What will the protagonist actually do in the story? What action will they take? They attend a new school, and they fall into a promising new friendship with Nathan

75-Word Example (based on Lisa See’s “Shanghai Girls”):

  • In Shanghai in the late 1930s, 21-year old Pearl and her younger sister May have their glamorous lives upended after they learn they’ve been sold as brides to suitors from California. As bombs drop suddenly on their beloved city, traveling to the United States may be the fresh start they need; but living with these strange men in an unwelcoming country puts their bond as sisters and best friends to the ultimate test. 
  • What is the setting? Shanghai in the late 1930s
  • Who are the protagonists? 21-year old Pearl and her younger sister May
  • What do the protagonists want? A fresh start; safety from the bombs that fall on Shanghai
  • What is at stake for the protagonists? Their bond as sisters and best friends
  • Who (or what) is the antagonist? The war that’s destroying their city, the unknown suitors they marry, and the unwelcoming Americans they encounter
  • What will the protagonists do in the story? Marry suitors, and move from Shanghai to the United States to escape the threat of war

What should I avoid doing when writing an elevator pitch?

Avoid major spoilers

You’ll want to share enough information in your logline to pique the reader’s interest, but not so much that they know every major plot detail. You should leave the reader wanting to know more. 

Avoid buzzwords, cliché phrases, and vague language

Words that are overused in book marketing lose their impact and become vague over time. They can also detract from what makes your book unique. Instead, opt for original adjectives and precise language whenever possible.

Avoid focusing too much on themes

When asked “what is your book about?” it may be tempting to reply with the book’s core themes or philosophical talking points. “It’s about liminality; second chances; the risks we take for the ones we love; the power of storytelling.” You get the idea. While important to the story, without an explanation of plot to contextualize them, these themes can end up feeling lifeless.

Avoid excessive name-dropping

Unless the protagonist is famous and the sales hook relies on their name-recognition, cutting out character names can save you lots of precious space. 

Avoid “meanwhile” statements 

Focus on one major conflict whenever possible. Mentioning too many subplots in your elevator pitch can be confusing for the reader and may detract from your primary selling points.

How should I use my pitch when it’s ready to go? 

Your elevator pitch may be one of your single greatest assets as an author. It can:

  • Help you get connected with an agent
  • Help you or your agent find the right publisher
  • Help you or your sales team pitch to buyers
  • Help you grab the attention of booksellers and librarians
  • Be adapted into a book blurb to hook readers
  • Be adapted into social media posts to promote your book

Is it okay to have more than one elevator pitch?

Absolutely! It can be useful to have a few options to choose from. So if you can’t decide on just one logline, don’t stress. As an exercise in building your repertoire, consider creating different loglines based on length– one at 25 words, one at 50 words and one at 75. Then, mix and match, or select your favorite from the bunch.

When writing an elevator pitch, try not to think about all of the exciting details you’re leaving out. You’ll inevitably have to keep much of your novel’s plot hidden from view, but that’s a good thing! Those will be the surprises that shock and delight your reader down the road. 

Instead, think of what you can include in your pitch by addressing the list of questions above. Focus on what makes your book stand out from the crowd. Keep your pitch fresh, compelling and concise, and you’ll be all set!

Networking tips for authors

It’s true that the writing life is often a solitary one–long nights alone at your computer, anyone?–and perhaps for that very reason, it’s important to intentionally step out of your comfort zone and find your writing community.

Writing workshops (whether in person or online) are an especially great way to meet other authors. These are spaces where you can share your goals as a writer and improve your writing in a collaborative space.

Finding peers who understand your passion is also a great motivator! You can learn from each other and grow together personally as well as professionally.

Here are some key tips for getting started on your networking journey.

Become DM-Friendly

We all know that networking involves reaching out to others, but the other half of the battle is making yourself available for contact. Here are a few steps you can take to make your online pages more approachable:

  • Include your professional email address and/or phone number on your website and social media accounts.
  • Keep your social media handles consistent across all platforms so you’ll be easy to locate online.
  • Make sure your social media pages are public and that your notifications are turned on so you’ll know when someone drops you a note!
  • Design your website to be a conversation starter! Share unique information about yourself, or include a free sample of your writing to encourage feedback.
  • Start an email newsletter. This will allow you to gather email addresses from fellow writers (and readers!). Be sure to send new subscribers a “thank you for joining” email, and see what relationships blossom.

Attend Events

Become a frequent attendee! Turn out for bookstore events, writing workshops and book clubs in your local area or online. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to find someone with common interests! Exchange business cards or contact information and set a date/time to meet up again.

Lend a Helping Hand

Offer your assistance! Set up tables and chairs for a book launch event, or work the ticket booth. Boost a fellow writer’s work on social media. Review their work on Goodreads/Amazon. Offer to be a beta reader. Be that supportive person they can count on when they’re feeling insecure or overwhelmed.

And when it’s your turn to ask for help, be specific about your needs and note any deadlines you may have. Others will be more willing to return the favor if they know exactly what they’re getting into!

What Goes Around Comes Around

Just like friendships, networking is a two-way street. If someone provides you with a blurb for your book or invites you to an event, be sure to return the favor!

And as you gain more experience in the industry, become a mentor to someone else. Introduce them to your contacts and show them the ropes. You may feel like you’re doing most of the heavy lifting at first, but you never know where your mentee will go–you may end up learning from them too!

The Host with the Most

As your circle grows larger, it’ll be easier for you to take initiative and host your own networking events. Depending on where your network is based, you can host events online or in person. Here are a few ideas to try out:

  • Go live on Instagram or Facebook. You’ll see lots of familiar faces during your livestream, and you may make a few new friends too!
  • Host a writing workshop, book club, or other event in your community
  • Offer to host a friend’s book launch party on Zoom or in person

All in all, networking is a give and take. It’s about supporting other writers and learning from their successes (and mistakes!) just as much as it’s about getting assistance in promoting your work. The most important rule of thumb is to be genuine. Be true to yourself! If you put out positivity, you’ll be sure to get it back from your community.

Cover reveals — what are they and how do I set one up?

How To: Cover Reveals

We know how precious book covers are for authors and readers alike. For authors, it’s a visual representation of all your hard work and an important milestone in your publication journey. And for readers, it’s a window into the soul of your book. Especially in the age of BookTok and Bookstagram, first impressions matter!

One way to take advantage of a beautiful cover is through a cover reveal. These scheduled unveilings help build excitement for upcoming releases and may help increase pre-orders as well!

While cover reveals are most popular for middle grade, YA, romance, mystery and sci-fi/fantasy books, there are no rules for who can and cannot have one. If you’re proud of your book cover and want to show it off in a memorable way, go ahead!

Keep reading for our tips on how to put together a successful cover reveal.

The timeline

Cover reveals are traditionally held about 6 months in advance of publication day; however, this is just a loose guideline. In general, reveals can be held any time after the cover art is finalized but before it’s been posted online.

If you’re thinking about setting up a cover reveal, check in with your publisher first and ask what they have planned. These days, it’s fairly rare for a publisher to coordinate cover reveals, but it’s worth checking, just in case.

If they don’t have any plans, take matters into your own hands! Start out by choosing a date for the unveiling. Ideally, this would be about 2-4 weeks in the future, so you have plenty of time to tease it on social media beforehand.

DIY hosting

There are two main strategies for running cover reveals. The first is to self-host, and the second is to call on an influencer, blogger or your street team and have them host your reveal for you. (Wondering what a “street team” is? Check out our previous post on street teams here.)

If you choose to self-host, you should alert your publisher and publicity team of your plans, and make sure anyone else who has access to the cover image knows to keep the file a secret until cover reveal day!

Then, simply tease the upcoming cover reveal on your social media for a week or so to build hype. Tell your followers that something exciting is on the way, and remind readers to check your social media pages on the planned day.

A little help from your friends

If you’d rather have your cover reveal hosted by an influencer, blogger, or street team, then you’ll have to prepare for a bit more work. You’ll need to wrangle a willing participant (or several) with a schedule that will allow them to post within your preferred time frame.

(Wondering what a blogger/influencer cover reveal looks like? Check out these examples from Dru’s Book Musings and @readtotheend)

Some influencers may want to be the exclusive host for a cover reveal, whereas others may not mind being part of a larger push where several outlets share the cover at the same time. Be upfront with your contact about your plans, and make sure they are fully onboard.

Additionally, to make your cover reveal stand out from the crowd, you can offer to give away an excerpt of the book or send some swag to the influencers’ followers.

If you’re not keen on reaching out to influencers, you can also call on your street team to help you out with your cover reveal. Try creating a sign-up sheet for team members to let you know their availability to post, what accounts they can share a reveal on, and how many followers they have.

We often recommend self-hosting because it’s easier to get exactly what you want, and requires less coordination. That said, having influencers or your street team help you out can connect your cover with a much wider audience than you could reach on your own. If you’re willing to put in the extra effort, it might all be worth it in the end!

The big reveal

When unveiling the image on your social media accounts, be sure to include links to pre-order if available, and thank the artists who worked hard on your cover! If your pre-order links aren’t live yet, you can link back to your website and encourage traffic in that direction instead. You can also share fun “behind-the-scenes” stories about how the design came to be, or share pictures of initial sketches or inspiration.

After the cover reveal post goes live, you’ll need to update the cover in all the relevant places: Goodreads, your author website, and your Facebook / Twitter headers. You can also create a “pinned tweet” on Twitter so your reveal remains at the top of your feed for several weeks, which is a good way to keep it visible until your next piece of important book news!

Cover reveals may not be for every author, but if you’re fairly social-media savvy, a cover reveal can be a memorable way to celebrate all you’ve accomplished so far while building excitement for your upcoming book release. Ultimately, your network of readers, friends and followers want to share these exciting milestones with you, so don’t be afraid to put yourself out there!

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Hyperlinks used:
https://booksforward.com/street-team-promoting-your-book-books-forward/
https://drusbookmusing.com/2022/04/17/cover-reveal-deadly-intent/
https://www.instagram.com/p/COaws1ELOGp/

Should I enter my book in awards contests?

If you’re marketing your own book, you may be focused on getting reviews, booking events, and building a social media following. But have you considered entering literary contests as well? In addition to providing credibility for you and your book, winning a contest can also score you a monetary prize or an opportunity to network with other authors and book industry professionals.

And, because of the wide range of literary awards available, there’s a good match for nearly every book!

Keep reading for tips on how to build an award strategy that works for you, and how to make the most of publicity surrounding a win.

How to be strategic when applying for awards

Make note of your budget.

While many awards are free to submit to, some do charge an entry fee, typically around $75. Determining in advance how much money you’re willing to spend on awards will help you narrow your options later on.

Do your research.

First, look for contests that have a solid reputation and line up with your unique audience and genre. When you’ve found a contest that seems like a match, dig a little deeper. Search what books have won in your category in the past. Do they seem on par with your book? Look up the judges for your category. What’s their realm of expertise? Do their interests overlap with your book’s themes?

As a general rule, always keep your eyes open for possible scams. Some awards don’t have authors’ best interests in mind. If you have a hard time finding basic information about the award’s history, judges and guidelines, that’s a big red flag. Similarly, if the entry fee is high while the prize pot is low, that may be cause for concern.

Think outside the box.

Does your book have unique cover art or interior design elements? There’s an award for that. Have an audiobook? There’s an award for that, too.

You should also look for awards that are specific to authors in your city, state or region. Local awards receive fewer entries than national awards, which will give you a better chance of taking home the gold!

Pay attention to guidelines.

Since guidelines tend to vary greatly from contest to contest, it’s crucial that you read the fine print. I know, I know. That can be tedious. But most awards won’t offer a refund for an incomplete or incorrect submission, so do it for your wallet’s sake.

A few things to make note of when scanning guidelines:

  • Can a submission come directly from an author? Or solely a publisher/publicist?
  • Does the contest accept ebook or physical mailings? Or both?
  • If physical copies are required, how many are needed? And, will you need to include any printed materials in the package as well (e.g., receipt, copy of entry form)?
  • Are you able to submit the same book in multiple categories? If so, is an extra fee or book mailing required?
  • Are ARC submissions allowed? Or will they only accept final copies?
  • How long is the submission period and when is the deadline?
  • Are you eligible for more than one year? Some awards have a 2+ year eligibility period. So if you happen to miss the deadline for your publication year, check to see if you’ll be eligible for the following year as well.

What should I do after an award win?

If there’s an in-person award ceremony, try to attend! These events are a great way to network with other authors and book industry professionals.

I would also recommend you:

  • Add any wins that you get to your website, email signature, and Amazon book listing
  • Share an announcement on social media and congratulate other winners/finalists
  • Order award stickers for the cover of your book (if available)
  • Update your resume for potential events and speaking gigs to reflect your accolades
  • Celebrate being an award-winning author!

Not sure where to start?

As you know, awards offer credibility, and solidifying your position as an award-winning author can benefit you for years to come!

If you aren’t sure where to begin, here are a few excellent literary contests for indie authors. Best of luck!

Foreword INDIES
https://www.forewordreviews.com/awards/

Kirkus Prize
https://www.kirkusreviews.com/

Next Generation Indie Book Awards
https://indiebookawards.com/

IndieReader Discovery Awards
https://indiereader.com/the-discovery-awards/

BookLife Prize (from Publishers Weekly)
https://booklife.com/about-us/the-booklife-prize.html

Independent Publisher Book Awards (The IPPYs)
https://www.ippyawards.com/

IBPA’s Ben Franklin Awards
https://www.ibpabenjaminfranklinaward.com/

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?