Books Forward October 2021 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 2021 newsletter here!

How does a book publicity firm decide which authors to represent?

Many writers dream of publishing a book, but few realize that publishing is just the first step in a dynamic journey of getting your book in front of–and loved by–readers. Our book publicity firm Books Forward has represented more than 700 amazing authors during our 20 plus years in business, and a question I hear frequently is “How do you decide which authors you represent?”.

We are so lucky to hear from incredible authors every day interested in using our services. While we wish we could help everyone (seriously, I’d love to help every writer fulfill their biggest book dreams!), we have to be selective about the authors we represent for a number of reasons. And with thousands of books launching daily in the U.S. alone, I want to share our selection process with writers so they can make the smartest, best choices before querying publicists for representation.

Our team at Books Forward choose the authors we represent by asking ourselves the following questions:

First and foremost, are we excited about the book? As avid readers ourselves, we love great books, and we read a lot of them! Our team has diverse reading tastes, so we embrace a variety of genres and content, but across the board we are looking for books that pull us in and keep us hooked.

Do we see specific ways to promote this book to its target audience, and help it stand out among the competition? We want to help our authors reach as wide an audience as possible, but we also want to help them reach their specific target audiences–aka the readers who gravitate towards (and are engaged enough to buy) this specific type of literature. The better we understand a book’s target audience, the better we are able to help get that book into the hands of fans.

Does our team have experience in this genre? Can we bring our A-level expertise to this project? We always want to bring our best to every project. We’ve worked with all kinds of authors in almost every genre, and our publicists and digital strategists each specialize in different areas. We always consider if we are a strong match for a campaign, and if we’re not, we may refer authors to another firm. We’re always transparent about the best options for them and their books!

Will the author be a partner in publicity? We bring a vast amount of work and expertise to every campaign; however, publicity is a partnership. We are looking for authors who will be available for interviews, open to writing guest articles, active on social media and willing to promote the book to their own networks. We want our books to succeed, and author participation is essential for establishing a brand and a loyal readership.

Will the author have awesome goals, but also realistic expectations? After more than two decades in the publishing industry, we have seen (and continue to see!) publishing evolve constantly. The industry is more competitive than ever, and we seek to partner with authors who understand that the promotional tactics that worked even just 1-3 years ago may no longer be as effective. Our best clients are those who are open to trying promotional strategies that are innovative and out-of-the-box, as well as tried-and-tested publicity tactics.

Is there a budget in place for publicity and marketing? If they are indie publishing, are they willing to work with a book-specific editor and designer to get the book into the best shape possible? While we always seek to find promotional solutions that work within an author’s specific budget, quality publishing and promotion requires both time and money. A book is, in many ways, a product–and cutting corners reduces the quality of the product, as well as its ability to reach its target market. We look for authors willing to invest time and resources to publish and promote their book, so that together we can give each title its best chance of success.

And lastly, does this book help move the world forward? Here at Books Forward, we want to represent books that elevate voices from a diverse group of authors, break barriers in the publishing industry and convey a story that will resonate with readers. We’ve been fortunate to work with so many authors who are doing just that–and we are thrilled and grateful to continue representing incredible, innovative authors for years to come.

I hope this helps you on your journey to publishing and planning promotion for your book!

This post originally appeared on https://www.teenink.com/ in July 2021.

Marissa DeCuir is the president and partner of Books Forward publicity and Books Fluent publishing. As a former journalist, she’s always looking for the best hooks to utilize in author publicity and book marketing and believes in taking a personal and strategic can-do approach to help authors reach their goals.

Making the most of a festival appearance as an author

Attending a festival or book event as an author can seem intimidating, especially if it’s your first time. But it can be so much fun, and hugely helpful to your writing career! As things (maybe) start to be in-person again, here are some tips to help you make the most of your time.

Before the event

  • Connect with previous attendees: ask them what they enjoyed last year and if they will be there again this year.
  • See if the event has a list of people who will be there this year, and reach out to anyone you’re excited to meet and tell them just that. Try to set up a time to meet for coffee or something similar.
  • After registering, see if there is a panel or discussion you can take part in. If you don’t see one, email the organizer to let them know what you can speak on — it can’t hurt to try!
  • Look at the schedule of events ahead of time to plan your days. You will likely not be able to do everything, so you want to maximize your time.
  • Check the social media hashtag for the event and engage with fellow attendees.

During the event

  • Have an elevator pitch for your book. You are likely to meet a lot of people and not spend a ton of time with each of them, so you need to be able to sell yourself quickly.
  • Bring lots of business cards, bookmarks, postcards or other swag that people will hang on to! Networking is likely to be one of the most valuable things you can do at a book event.
  • Get contact info from people you meet or speak with, when appropriate, so you can follow up with them later!
  • Support your fellow authors — buy their books, join their mailing lists and talk with them! They’ll likely want to support you as well.
  • Share photos and videos from the event on your social media – allowing your readers to follow along with you!

After the event

  • Follow up with anyone you met with, thanking them for their time and referencing something specific you spoke about if possible. Make sure to have a link to your website in your signature, and encourage them to reach out if they have any questions about your book.
  • Post recap photos to social media – and tag the appropriate people, publishers, etc. in them.

Books Forward September 2021 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 2021 newsletter here!

Eight bookish podcasts to check out on International Podcast Day!

Happy International Podcast Day! As readers, we don’t just read books — we also participate in tons of extracurricular activities involving books. We talk about books, join book clubs, look for great reviews, and writte as well.

One of the biggest ways we discuss books is through podcasts, and not only are there shows about specific books, but there are podcasts on books for your radar, book club podcasts, and even writing podcasts for authors. There’s a little bit for every reader and author on this list, so I hope you give one a listen.

All the Books at Book Riot

If you want to keep up with what’s new and cool in the bookish world, then All the Books from Book Riot is your go-to. With new episodes every week, the hosts share what’s new and trendy that’s being published. With expert recommendations, you’ll definitely keep abreast of what’s publishing at all times.

The Stacks Podcast

If you’re looking to join a book club without the stress of going to meetings, hearing expert author interviews, or discovering books you may not have heard before, then The Stacks Podcast may be the one for you. Offering everything you’d need to be as prolific a reader as you can be, the Stacks Podcast hosted by Traci Thomas has it all.

The Maris Review

If you’re a fan of listening to author interviews, then this is the podcast for you. Hosted by Maris Kreizman, the podcast features some incredible authors of today, includes exciting topics to discuss, and learning a little bit about the authors we all so love and adore.

Minorities in Publishing

Unlike the other podcasts on this list, Minorities in Publishing discusses the deeper and wider expanse of publishing. Specifically, it discusses the diversity (or lack thereof) in publishing, sharing interviews with publishing experts and authors and their experiences within the publishing industry.

Deadline City

Hosted by YA authors Zoraida Cordova and Dhonielle Clayton, get a look into the process of creating a book, expert author interviews, and learning what it’s like to be a popular writer! If you’re an author trying to get your book going, this podcast may give you the encouragement you need.

Beyond the Trope

If you’re a fan of SFF books, then this is the podcast for you. With interviews from today’s greatest SFF authors, you’ll not only find new books to read but completely unraptured by why these authors wrote these books. It’s a great way to dive deeper into the writing process, especially for those massive SFF worlds.

Black Chick Lit

If you’re looking for more diversity in your reading life, check out Black Chick Lit. This bi-monthly podcast covers not only books written by Black women, but also about Black women. Discussing some of the latest novels from BIPOC authors, these two intrepid hosts dive deep into the themes and stories that shape Black women’s narrative in modern literature.

Books and Boba

If you’re looking for a book club that focuses on the Asian American community and experience, look no further than to Books and Boba. With monthly book picks, author chats, and more, the hosts of Books and Boba covers all things coming out from Asian and Asian American authors. Find some great new reads, listen to some interesting author conversations and immerse yourself in the world of Asian American writing.

Books Forward August 2021 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 2021 newsletter here!

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?

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.

 

What is Netgalley and why should I use it?

NetGalley helps publishers and authors promote digital review copies to book advocates and industry professionals. Publishers make digital review copies and audiobooks available for the NetGalley community to discover, request, read, and review.

We’ve put together some tips and tricks for anyone who is interested in reading books on Netgalley, so that you all can utilize this platform to its full potential, and of course to get as many approvals as possible!

  1. Fill out your profile completely
    Netgalley asks specific questions for your profile, and it’s of the utmost importance that you review and answer all of them. This will help publishers to notice you when they are reviewing your requests, and to make sure you are a legitimate reviewer.
  2. Provide links to your preferred platforms
    Some of us thrive on Instagram, others on TikTok. It’s important to share your preferred platforms with Netgalley so that no one has to do any guessing! If you were to look me up right now, you’d see a great following on Instagram, but my TikTok game is WEAK! What if that’s all they thought that I had for social media? I’d be doomed!
  3. Be sure to share your reading preferences!
    There are a lot of times that I receive emails based on my preferences, which is a great way for me to find books I hadn’t yet heard of, and even receive download links! If there’s a genre you know that you love, I highly recommend sharing that with the team at Netgalley – you might just get a sweet surprise!
  4. Check out each publisher’s approval preferences
    Each publisher is different! Some require a specific number of followers on social media, while others may prefer a high review percentage. Either way, it’s good to know so that you can increase your chances of being approved for books from your favorite publishing house.
  5. Keep up that review percentage!
    But really… my current percentage is… not ideal, and it shows in how many books I get approval for. Don’t be like me! Keep that review up to 80%, which is the recommendation of Netgalley. It DEFINITELY makes a difference. I know I’ve missed out on a number of books because of my low rate, and once you get stuck in the hole, it’s hard to dig your way out!
  6. “Read Now” books are especially great for beginners!
    If you are just starting out on Netgalley, the “read now” titles are a great way to get access to books, as well as to boost that review percentage!
  7. Don’t request too many books at once!
    It’s easy to get excited and request every book you see… and trust me, I’ve been there! But, it’s best to try and only request books you know you can prioritize on that never-ending TBR of yours…
  8. Keep your profile updated
    Make sure to update your stats as you have more followers or your reading preferences change! If you mark the date you last updated your numbers, it will let publishers know that you’re staying current.
  9. HAVE FUN!
    Netgalley is such a great opportunity for book lovers and educators alike – enjoy your access! 🙂

Books Forward April 2021 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 April 2021 newsletter here!