Books paired with Dolly Parton songs to celebrate Diamonds & Rhinestones’ release

We don’t need a new Dolly Parton album as an excuse to listen to her songs and compile a reading list, but we are excited for her new greatest hits album, so you know we couldn’t help ourselves. Once you’ve settled in with some of these books, check out our Dolly Parton-inspired playlist and stream Diamonds & Rhinestones: The Greatest Hits Collection, available now!

I Will Always Love You + The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Achilles, son of the cruel sea goddess Thetis and the legendary king Peleus, is strong, swift, and beautiful, irresistible to all who meet him. Patroclus is an awkward young prince, exiled from his homeland after an act of shocking violence. Brought together by chance, they forge an inseparable bond, despite risking the gods’ wrath. They are trained by the centaur Chiron in the arts of war and medicine, but when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, all the heroes of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows. Little do they know that the cruel Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.

Eagle When She Flies + Becoming by Michelle Obama
In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her — from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it — in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations — and whose story inspires us to do the same.

9 to 5 + Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig
The societies we live in are increasingly making our minds ill, making it feel as though the way we live is engineered to make us unhappy. When Matt Haig developed panic disorder, anxiety, and depression as an adult, it took him a long time to work out the ways the external world could impact his mental health in both positive and negative ways. Notes on a Nervous Planet collects his observations, taking a look at how the various social, commercial and technological “advancements” that have created the world we now live in can actually hinder our happiness. Haig examines everything from broader phenomena like inequality, social media, and the news; to things closer to our daily lives, like how we sleep, how we exercise, and even the distinction we draw between our minds and our bodies.

Coat of Many Colors + Where the Line Bleeds by Jesmyn Ward
Joshua and Christophe are twins, raised by a blind grandmother and a large extended family in rural Bois Sauvage, on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast. They’ve just finished high school and need to find jobs, but after Katrina, it’s not easy. Joshua gets work on the docks, but Christophe’s not so lucky and starts to sell drugs. Christophe’s downward spiral is accelerated first by crack, then by the reappearance of the twins’ parents: Cille, who left for a better job, and Sandman, a dangerous addict. Sandman taunts Christophe, eventually provoking a shocking confrontation that will ultimately damn or save both twins.

Jolene + My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry
When young lawyer Lily marries Ed, she’s determined to make a fresh start and leave the secrets of the past behind. But then she takes on her first murder case and meets Joe, a convicted murderer to whom Lily is strangely drawn — and for whom she will soon be willing to risk almost anything. But Lily is not the only one with secrets. Her next-door neighbor Carla may be only nine, but she has already learned that secrets are powerful things. That they can get her whatever she wants. When Lily finds Carla on her doorstep twelve years later, a chain of events is set in motion that can end only one way.

Islands in the Stream + All That’s Left in the World by Erik J. Brown
When Andrew stumbles upon Jamie’s house, he’s injured, starved, and has nothing left to lose. A deadly pathogen has killed off most of the world’s population, including everyone both boys have ever loved. After danger breaches their shelter, they flee south in search of civilization. But something isn’t adding up about Andrew’s story, and it could cost them everything. And Jamie has a secret, too. He’s starting to feel something more than friendship for Andrew, adding another layer of fear and confusion to an already tumultuous journey. The road ahead of them is long, and to survive, they’ll have to shed their secrets, face the consequences of their actions, and find the courage to fight for the future they desire, together. Only one thing feels certain: all that’s left in their world is the undeniable pull they have toward each other.

Little Sparrow + Dead Dead Girls by Nekesa Afia
Harlem, 1926. Young Black women like Louise Lloyd are ending up dead. Following a harrowing kidnapping ordeal when she was in her teens, Louise is doing everything she can to maintain a normal life. She spends her days working at Maggie’s Café and her nights at the Zodiac, Harlem’s hottest speakeasy. Louise’s friends, especially her girlfriend, Rosa Maria Moreno, might say she’s running from her past and the notoriety that still stalks her, but don’t tell her that.

When a girl turns up dead in front of the café, Louise is forced to confront something she’s been trying to ignore — two other local Black girls have been murdered in the past few weeks. After an altercation with a police officer gets her arrested, Louise is given an ultimatum: She can either help solve the case or wind up in a jail cell. Louise has no choice but to investigate and soon finds herself toe-to-toe with a murderous mastermind hell-bent on taking more lives, maybe even her own….

My Tennessee Mountain Home + Truth or Beard by Penny Reid (plus all the other books in the Winston Brothers series)
Identical twins Beau and Duane Winston might share the same devastatingly handsome face, but where Beau is outgoing and sociable, Duane is broody and reserved. This is why Jessica James has been in naïve and unhealthy infatuation with Beau Winston for most of her life. His friendly smiles make her tongue-tied and weak-kneed, and she’s never been able to move beyond her childhood crush. Whereas Duane and Jessica have always been adversaries. She can’t stand him, and she’s pretty sure he can’t stand the sight of her… But after a case of mistaken identity, Jessica finds herself in a massive confusion kerfuffle. Not helping Jessica’s muddled mind and good girl sensibilities, Duane seems to have gotten himself in trouble with the local biker gang. Certainly, Beau’s magic spell is broken. Yet when Jessica finds herself drawn to the man who was always her adversary, now more dangerous than ever, how much of her level-head heart is she willing to risk?

Here You Come Again + Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
When Elizabeth Bennet first meets eligible bachelor Fitzwilliam Darcy, she thinks him arrogant and conceited; he is indifferent to her good looks and lively mind. When she later discovers that Darcy has involved himself in the troubled relationship between his friend Bingley and her beloved sister Jane, she is determined to dislike him more than ever. In the sparkling comedy of manners that follows, Jane Austen shows us the folly of judging by first impressions and superbly evokes the friendships, gossip and snobberies of provincial middle-class life.

Hard Candy Christmas + You’re a Mean One, Matthew Prince by Timothy Janovsky
Matthew Prince is young, rich, thoroughly spoiled and on top of the world. But one major PR misstep later, and Matthew is cut off and shipped away to spend the holidays in his grandparents’ charming small town hellscape. It’s bad enough he’s stuck in some festive winter wonderland — it’s even worse that he has to share space with Hector Martinez, an obnoxiously attractive local who’s unimpressed with anything and everything Matthew does. Just when it looks like the holiday season is bringing nothing but heated squabbles, the charity gala loses its coordinator and Matthew steps in as a saintly act to get home early on good behavior…with Hector as his maddening plus-one.

Books Forward November 2022 Newsletter

Check out the latest newsletter featuring our award-winning authors and industry news. This issue features upcoming book releases, recent media coverage and much more!

Read the November 2022 newsletter here!

Books Forward BFFs November Influencer Newsletter

Check out the latest newsletter for our Books Forward Friends. This issue features highlights of our BFFs, fun titles available for review, and special opportunities for our friends.

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Books Forward October 2022 Newsletter

Check out the latest newsletter featuring our award-winning authors and industry news. This issue features upcoming book releases, recent media coverage and much more!

Read the October 2022 newsletter here!

Books Forward BFFs October Influencer Newsletter

Check out the latest newsletter for our Books Forward Friends. This issue features highlights of our BFFs, fun titles available for review, and special opportunities for our friends.

Download the October 2022 newsletter here!

How authors can make the most of working with their publicists

There are so many great duos: Sonny and Cher. Peanut butter and jelly. Calvin and Hobbes. An author and their publicist.

If you’ve hired a publicist to help market your book, you’ve already taken the first step in building a truly dynamic partnership. And with any partnership, it’s important that both sides are working together toward a common goal.

Here are a few things to remember as you start working with your publicist:

Communicate with your publicist

You know your book better than anyone else. If you have ideas on marketing strategies, let your publicist know. Any author can hire a publicist and let them take over, but you’ll find value in collaborating with your publicist and truly being a team.

Ask questions

Whether you’re a debut author or you’ve published numerous books, the publishing world is constantly changing, and that goes for literary marketing as well. Your publicist is there to help answer questions and guide you through your book marketing journey. They might not always have the answers, but a good publicist will work to help solve problems and be a listening ear for your concerns.

Be open to new ideas

Your publicist’s job first and foremost is to promote you and your book, and sometimes that can mean brainstorming fresh ideas and new ways to market your book to readers. Together, you and your publicist can get creative and figure out how to set your work apart from the pack. You never know how one opportunity can lead to another, and even “smaller” opportunities have value in the short and long term.

Be timely

This one shouldn’t be a stretch: Most authors are used to working on deadline. If your publicist gives you a deadline for something, let them know if you’ll be able to meet that deadline — and then meet that deadline.

Be responsive

We know everyone gets approximately 1,187 emails a day, and your publicist isn’t purposely trying to add to your inbox (we promise!). Thankfully, the book industry isn’t one where fires are continuously being put out every single day.

With that being said, responding in a timely manner to your publicist’s communication helps them do their job. And the reverse is the same: Your publicist should be accessible to you, and you shouldn’t be waiting weeks to hear back from them.

Early on in your partnership, work with your publicist to set an expectation for response times that both of you can agree to follow. Or a good rule of thumb is responding within 24-48 working hours (aka, don’t feel like you need to give up your weekends or holidays).

And remember, if you’re going to be unavailable and away from email for an extended period of time, let your publicist know — we want you to enjoy that family vacay you planned without worrying about emails from us!

Be honest

They say honesty is the best policy for a reason. Every relationship requires honest communication, and a working one is no different. If you’re worried about an upcoming event or struggling with a particular task you’ve been assigned, let your publicist know. And also expect honesty from them in return.

Remember, your publicist is on your team

Your publicist wants what’s best for you and your book, and both of you want to succeed. Publishing and promoting a book is stressful, and the team you assemble should help make that journey easy to navigate. Cultivate a good relationship with your publicist, and allow them to take the reins so you can do what you do best — write!

Books Forward September 2022 Newsletter

Check out the latest newsletter featuring our award-winning authors and industry news. This issue features upcoming book releases, recent media coverage and much more!

Read the September 2022 newsletter here!

Books Forward BFFs September Influencer Newsletter

Check out the latest newsletter for our Books Forward Friends. This issue features highlights of our BFFs, fun titles available for review, and special opportunities for our friends.

Download the September 2022 newsletter here!

How to use social media to promote your book

We get it — social media is daunting. But here’s the secret: There is no single right way to be on social media. *Sigh of relief*

Every author should be on at least one social media platform, so check out these tips below to find what works best for you and how to make the most of it!

Highlight the basics

No matter what platform you’re on, make sure you’ve got your basics covered. You want your username and profile picture to be the same, if possible, across all your social media accounts. That way, your followers can easily recognize that it’s you on whatever platform they’re on.

This also includes adding your author bio, website and other social media links wherever possible. And, of course, if you’ve got a book coming out, you’ll want to include buy links right at the top of whatever platform you’re on so everyone can see!

Pick the right platform for you

Try not to feel too overwhelmed with all the different platforms – choose the ones that work best for you and build up slowly. Work with what works best for you, where your audience is, what you enjoy most and where you feel most comfortable engaging. If you know you aren’t going to enjoy making videos, then don’t worry about starting a TikTok account.

As long as you’re active somewhere readers can find you, that’s already a step in the right direction. When you’re ready, you can always take on another platform. Even though they’re on the internet, people can tell when posts and interactions are genuine, so if you aren’t having a good time, your followers will be able to see that.

Creating content

Creating content doesn’t have to be a time-consuming ordeal. You can even post the same things across all your different platforms, though keep an eye out on the different formatting.

Also, don’t be afraid to reuse content. Some of your followers might have missed you posting about a podcast you were on, so don’t worry about posting about it again. Reusing content helps take the load off you, and it’s also a great way to recognize the people who took time to review the book, interview you, etc. But make sure you have some sort of plan when you post: Be creative with your content — don’t post the same thing over and over — mix it up and plan out posts in advance if you can.

And if you’re worried you’re posting too much about your book, here’s a secret: You aren’t. In fact, you probably aren’t posting enough about it. Not everyone is going to catch every single post of yours, so don’t worry about inundating your platform with stuff about your book. It can be weird talking about yourself, but you should be proud of that book you’ve written — and the people following you are following you because they want to know more about you and your career!

Scheduling Apps

We know most authors want to spend their time…well…writing! Social media can seem overwhelming when trying to keep an active presence on various platforms — honestly, it’s a full-time job. And if you’re looking to save time, consider utilizing scheduling apps to create content in bulk so you don’t have to post in real time. This saves time and allows you to focus on what you love most! Different apps work for different platforms, but a few of our favs are Buffer, HootSuite, and Later.

Using social media to network

Use the search tool on each platform to see what’s trending and where you can join in on the conversation by using the same hashtags. It’s also important to always tag locations, companies, authors, etc. whenever possible. You want people to see you’re talking about them. This gives them the opportunity to share your posts to their network, which will hopefully make it back to yours.

In addition to following people who follow you and other readers, consider following accounts in the industry, other authors, bloggers, book stores etc. You can even follow media outlets and reporters local to you, as well as any local businesses, organizations, associations, etc.

And don’t forget to repost other authors in your genre, as well as interacting with them via replies. Promoting yourself and your work is great! But it all goes back to networking. The more you engage, the more likely their followers will see you and consider following and learning more about you and your work.

Building an audience

Does social media translate directly to sales? Probably not. But acquiring an engaging audience and building your author brand are both equally important, and cultivating that dedicated fanbase can indirectly lead to sales.

As you build your following, people will want to see that you’re active, so try and set a goal for yourself to post frequently. This can start with 1-2 posts a week and then slowly increase until you feel comfortable posting more often.

In addition to posting, you’ll also want to make sure that you’re frequently engaging not just with people who follow you but also with people you follow. Carve out time when planning your posts to also reply to comments, read posts from other people, and share posts when possible.

Books Forward August 2022 Newsletter

Check out the latest newsletter featuring our award-winning authors and industry news. This issue features upcoming book releases, recent media coverage and much more!

Read the August 2022 newsletter here!