Some of our favorite authors to follow on Twitter

We live in a golden age — not only do we get to read masterful books from some truly groundbreaking authors, but we also get to follow them on social media and see what they’re having for lunch and their musings on the latest Taylor Swift album. I’ve been on bookstagram for a while, but recently started getting more into Book Twitter, and while it is a wild and lawless place, it’s also full of hilarious, thoughtful writers. It makes sense that great writing would translate to wonderful social media accounts — check out some of our favorites!

  1. C.L. Polk, author of The Kingston Cycle novels and The Midnight Bargain. Her tweets are somehow relatable and hilarious.
  2. Christina Lauren, author duo who has written 25+ romance books together. They will remind you that being a romance writer isn’t all champagne and flowers.
  3. Kwame Mbalia, author of the middle-grade Tristan Strong series and Last Gate of the Emperor. He is the creator of Gum Baby, Tristan Strong’s snarky sidekick, who is the best thing about the internet.
  4. Saeed Jones, poet and author of How We Fight For Our Lives and Prelude to A Bruise. I follow him for unapologetic takes on the news, politics, writing, and everything else. And for the judgemental cuteness of his dog.
  5. Susan Orlean, writer for The New Yorker, and author of multiple books. Over the summer, a drunken tweetstorm provided some much-needed laughter.
  6. Alexander Chee, author of How to Write an Autobiographical Novel, The Queen of the Night, and Edinburgh. He’s a professor of creative writing at Dartmouth, and his tweets make you realize that the truly great writers see things a little bit differently.
  7. Jasmine Guillory, author of five romance novels. She’s been open and honest about the difficulties of keeping on during the pandemic, which has provided me with some much-needed realism. Her newsletter is also wonderful — I’ve gotten some great recipes from it!
  8. Brandon Taylor, author of Real Life and the upcoming Filthy Animals. My favorite things are his hot takes on centuries-old pieces of art. 
  9. R.F. Kuang, author of The Poppy War trilogy. Readers are constantly tweeting sentiments like “WHY!?” at her as they make their way through her books and terrible things happen to their favorite characters — she seems to take great delight in this, and it’s hilarious to watch.
  10. Nicole Chung, author of All You Can Ever Know, editor of Catapult. She recently started a parenting column, and I’ve found it enlightening and inspiring. Also her Peggy the puppy tweets are a pure endorphin rush.
  11. Roxane Gay, author of several books and contributor to multiple anthologies. Honestly, there are so many reasons to follow her, but I think her pinned tweet sums it up: “I will say it again. My tweets are not meant to be universal. They will not nor cannot account for every reality. If something I say doesn’t include or apply to you that doesn’t invalidate your truth.”
  12. Kristen Arnett, author of Mostly Dead Things and the upcoming With Teeth. The randomness of her thoughts regularly makes me snort with laughter.
  13. Dahlia Adler, author of several novels and book blogger. She regularly champions other authors’ books with boundless enthusiasm and joy, which is truly delightful.
  14. Leah Johnson, author of You Should See Me in A Crown and the upcoming Rise to the Sun. Her small obsessions always make me smile — when she talked about Logan Lerman in Percy Jackson, it ended up making me start the series.
  15. R.O. Kwon, coeditor of Kink, author of The Incendiaries and contributor to multiple outlets. She can tweet back to back tweets about writing panic, political disgust and needing a haircut without breaking a sweat.
  16. Aiden Thomas, author of Cemetery Boys and the upcoming Lost in the Never Woods. He has so much enthusiasm for the things that he loves that it will leap through the screen.
  17. Sabaa Tahir author of An Ember in the Ashes series. Another writer who seems to take pleasure from the pain she causes her readers by putting the characters in her books through pain and suffering.
  18. Alisha Rai, romance author most recently of First Comes Like. She creates excellent TikTok videos and posts them on Twitter for everyone’s enjoyment.
  19. Samantha Irby, blogger and author of several books. No one’s books have ever made me laugh like hers, and this translates well to her Twitter feed. 
  20. Sarah Gailey, author of several novellas and books, most recently The Echo Wife. Their tweets take on the most random of things, and they always stands up for the disabled community.

And special shout out to Mike Lasagna — he’s not an author, but champions them relentlessly in a way that will make you buy way too many books.

Influencer Marketing Tips and Tricks for Authors

The term “social media influencer” comes up often these days, though it is vague and meaningless to some people. Books Forward is here to help you find out who these people are, and how you both can work together!

Who are influencers?

Influencers are people who have a decent following on social media, full of an audience of people who are specifically interested in the influencer’s opinions on whatever topics or items it is they discuss. Some influencers are “fitness gurus” who post videos of workout plans, their healthy eating habits and fitness clothing brands they prefer. Other influencers post makeup tutorials and makeup brand preferences. In the book world, there is an entire community of influencers who make posts that center around books they love, books they are reading, books they are planning to read, books they bought six months ago but still haven’t had a chance to pick up, books with beautiful covers, books with sad endings. . . do you see the theme here? There is an entire social media world out there that focuses specifically on books. As an author searching for an audience, it is crucial and beneficial to tap into that!

What do influencers do?

All of the posts that influencers make on social media build their reputation on their platform. Twitter’s #BookTwitter, TikTok’s #Booktok, Youtube’s “Booktube” and Instagram’s “Bookstagram” accounts are popular platforms for booklovers to unite and discuss everything that is books. Twitter is a place where people typically discuss in-depth themes of books, while TikTok features aesthetically pleasing videos of bookshelves with books arranged by color, or book challengers for people to complete together. Youtube is a great place to find people talking through book reviews, and Bookstagram has beautiful, artsy pictures of books with thoughtful captions about the books featured.

Influencers with a large following are often sent book after book from many different publishers, so the books they decide are good enough to read, or have an attractive enough cover to post, hold significant value in the book world. However, large accounts can also be deceiving. Sometimes, sending your book to an account with a smaller following will garner just as many audience members because of engagement of posts and thoughtfulness in posts. People like to get an opinion on a book from somebody they trust, and when a well-respected influencer gives a raving review about a book on their account, it immediately gains leverage.

What Does This Mean for Authors?

This is the most important question, right? Why does this entire “book world” on social media matter? It just sounds like an outlet for people who are obsessed with reading, right? Well, that is right, and that is also why it is important for authors. Just like us, a lot of these influencers have their specific preferences. Maybe there’s one who LOVES historical fiction novels, or YA romance novels. If you are releasing your debut YA romance novel and manage to get an influencer to read and review your book positively, you now have a significant following of people listening. About YOUR book. Even if you only get the influencer to post a picture of your book, saying they are excited to read it, it gets your book in front of people who are potentially interested. You are tapping into a niche audience that was basically formulated for books like yours!

A lot of the time, influencers will be perfectly happy with a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. A lot of bookstagrammers don’t post negative reviews so it depends on who you reach out to, but you basically send them the book for a post on their story, or a picture on their feed. Also they aren’t sent as many books as the bigger accounts and can be more thoughtful with posts.

Common Misconceptions

It is not always about the number of followers that a bookstagrammer has. If you get an influencer who has 100k followers to read your post your book, but your book is YA and the influencer prefers mystery books, the audience receiving the message is targeted to people who might not be interested in your book. It is best to find an influencer who’s brand lines up with yours, because the people representing your book are a reflection of it. You want people who support and appreciate your work as an author and your book’s genre. Accounts with smaller followings should not be cast aside because of their size; these accounts may look smaller but could have a high engagement level! This is something you should always consider when picking influencers to work with. Smaller accounts also don’t have as many books coming their way, and the chance of getting a review or post from them is higher. Reach out to a variety of followings, and focus on the branding of the individual influencer.

 

Is TikTok the next Bookstagram?

You’ve seen it in the headlines, heard about it incessantly from your teenage niece, or (perhaps) you’ve even downloaded it yourself. Let’s talk about TikTok. 

TikTok is a very popular app that promotes the creation of short-form video content and slideshows of no more than 1 minute in length. The app is designed so that videos have a much greater chance of going viral than, say, content on Instagram or even YouTube. 

As of the time of writing this blog, TikTok has approximately 800 million monthly users, ranking just behind Instagram (1 billion monthly users). However the app is only two years old, so its growth rate is substantial. It also received a huge download boost during March-July 2020 due to Covid-19 lockdown. 50% of users in the US are under the age of 35, with the majority of users being 16-24

Like Bookstagram, TikTok has a healthy book community. YA is the most popular genre on TikTok due to its demographic, with YA Fantasy and YA Romance/Rom-Com being among the top most popular subgenres

Just like Bookstagrammers, BookTokers are influencers who review books, offer recommendations, and flex the extensiveness of their shelves (such as @zacharyjamesoffical, @treofpaperbacks, and @amysbooknook. Authors are beginning to find very influential platforms on TikTok as well, and since the app is still relatively new, it’s not inundated/saturated with authors just yet. TikTok viewers (who are often young, aspirational writers themselves), love connecting with authors writing in their favorite genres, or engage with videos of fellow writers explaining their successes, tips, and struggles. 

There is a niche on TikTok for EVERYTHING. So what makes a video become popular or go viral? Here’s the thing: Nobody knows. TikTok’s algorithm is notoriously “uncrackable” (as far as users are concerned, at least) meaning that even frequent users don’t really know why some content becomes popular and others, well, doesn’t. The pro is that technically anything can go viral; the con is that “trying to go viral” is a mystifying and frustrating endeavor. But there are a few indicators of success. 

When you publish a TikTok video, the video will not be visible to 800 million users — instead, it will be introduced to a pool of a few dozen (based on what content those users have engaged with previously). If your video is watched from start to finish, liked, and shared by that small pool of users, TikTok will then “show” it to a pool of a few hundred, and then if engagement is still high, they’ll “show” it to a few thousand, and so on and so on.

Videos with high engagement get exposed to more viewers. Engagement is measured by likes, shares, comments, duets, and view time (watching the video from start to finish is best). Videos tend to get highest viewership (aka most exposure to viewers/higher engagement) within the first three hours of posting, but not always — every person who engages with your video can give it a little “boost” in the algorithm (meaning suddenly more people see it), so videos can go viral “later,” like 3-5 days after posting. This is the exception though, not the norm.

Again: No one knows the exact formula for making something go viral. Success can feel very arbitrary. However, popular TikTok content is pretty much always entertaining, authentic, and relatable. Seriously, leave your sales pitches at the door — no one is interested. But if you entertain, are authentic, or are relatable (or best, a combination of all three), the influence/following you’ll gain is extensive and unlimited. Telling people to “buy my book!” on TikTok is content-death — but authentically demonstrating your passion for your work and then asking people to check out your book / showing why it’s appealing can have a huge effect. Viewers on TikTok want to support creators; demonstrate why they should support you. 

Books Forward holiday gift guide

Still on the hunt for the perfect gift for the special people in your life? We have a few suggestions…

For your mom, who is working to diversify her reading life:
We love our families and we love our mothers, sisters, grandmothers, and aunties, but not every family looks like a Norman Rockwell painting, and not every woman is a 1950’s homemaker. Nor should they be! Seema Yasmin’s Muslim Women Are Everything is a beautifully illustrated book with inspiring stories of successful Muslim women from around the world.

For your BFF who thinks they’re totally a detective after binging too many true crime docs:
We all have that friend who is obsessed with true crime documentaries and can’t get enough of suspenseful TV dramas. Let them get lost in the pages of The Second Mother, the newest psychological thriller by USA Today bestselling author Jenny Milchman. This twisting story follows a schoolteacher who attempts to outrun her past by accepting a job on a remote Maine island — only to discover that its residents may be more dangerous than the isolation itself.

For the aspiring hip hop artist in your life:
Big Freedia is the irrepressible force behind bounce rap music going mainstream and a collaborator with Beyonce, Lizzo, Drake and Kesha. And although this year’s tour with Kesha was canceled due to the pandemic, this iconic voice for LGBTQ+ and Black Lives Matter activism is celebrating the paperback release of her memoir, Big Freedia: God Save the Queen Diva, just in time for the holiday shopping season. From growing up as an overweight gay choir boy in New Orleans’ worst neighborhood, to surviving Hurricane Katrina by living on her roof for two days, to bursting underground bounce music into the mainstream, Freedia’s signature creativity and resilience continues to set her apart. Grab a copy of this book and pair it with Big Freedia’s new holiday album, “Smokin’ Santa Christmas,” available on Dec. 11.

For your armchair psychologist sister:
Did your sister take an intro psychology class in college and now she wants to diagnose everyone in the family? Losing the Atmosphere: A Baffling Disorder, a Search for Help, and the Therapist Who Understood is the perfect book for her. In this stunning new memoir, Vivian Conan takes a deep dive into her struggles with unsettling symptoms and her mental health journey.

For your activist cousin who’s not afraid to discuss race and politics at the dinner table:
Your family has a carefully curated list of topics to NOT talk about at the table — and your cousin can be relied on to confront them all during the course of the holiday. It’s a breath of fresh air after too many prim discussions about the weather and the consistency of the mashed potatoes; these dialogues are important, even if they challenge some of your relatives. Gift your cousin Wings of Ebony by J. Elle. This explosive YA debut is about a Black girl from a poor inner-city neighborhood who is desperate to return to her community after she discovers she has magic powers and is swept away to the secret land of Ghizon, only to discover that the evil infiltrating the land may also be threatening her hood. Described as The Hate U Give meets Wonder Woman in a Black Panther world, this novel tackles racism, privilege, and allyship with clear parallels to the Black Lives Matter Movement.

For your favorite crazy cat lady:
We know them, we love them, and we (usually) support their feline fandom. So instead of turning to a typical T-shirt or overdone wall art, this year, gift your cat-obsessed friend with a book from a cozy mystery series featuring lovable Siamese RahRah and his amateur sleuth owner, Sarah. Debra H. Goldstein’s Sarah Blair Mystery Series are witty and charming whodunits that include easy recipes for the cooking-averse — and of course, lots of cat content!

For the theater nerd in your life:
Got that one friend who breaks out into song when things are a bit too quiet? Or maybe you are that friend. Either way, embrace that performance prowess by pre-ordering your friend — or yourself — a copy of Odd Woman Out by actress Melanie Chartoff (aka Didi Pickles from Rugrats). From breaking into the biz to the devotion that led her to put career over love and family, Melanie’s stories are equal parts heartwarming, entertaining and oh, so funny in this memoir.

For your siblings who swear like sailors:
None of us can deny 2020 has been a mess. But instead of shushing your brother’s creative cursing or stifling your sister’s impulsive swears, psychologist Jodie Eckleberry-Hunt would rather embrace it, as she details in her self-help guide Move On Motherf*cker: Live, Laugh, and Let Sh*t Go. Whether it’s journaling exercises or practical steps individuals can incorporate into their daily lives, this is a book your family members will be ******* glad to receive under the Christmas tree this year.

For your film-obsessed friend:
I bet you’re thinking, “We all love movies, right?” or “I’ve been watching 10+ hours of Netflix per day since March, surely that counts, right?” Well, nice try. But when we say obsessed, we mean like, knows-Cary-Grant’s-birthday-and-celebrates-it-annually obsessed. Or, someone who actually knows what French New Wave Cinema is, someone who’s not only subscribed to Netflix and Hulu but also the Criterion Channel. You get the idea. Well, if you’re into getting the perfect gift, look no further than Phantom Lady: Hollywood Producer Joan Harrison, the Forgotten Woman Behind Hitchcock by Christina Lane. Considering that this is the first-ever biography on writer-producer Joan Harrison, it’s sure to have even the most extreme film fanatic saying, “Huh, I actually never knew that!”

For your techie cousin:
If your cousin is always coding or streaming on Twitch, then getting them a book may not seem like the obvious choice – but we’re not talking about a slow-burn here, we’re talking about a fast-paced, action-packed, furious page-turning type of book. The Price of Safety by Michael C. Bland is set in the United States in 2047, a time when technology is implanted in human brains and extensive surveillance is used to reduce crime rates. After a techie dad decides to help his daughter cover up for a crime, things get dangerous, pitting them against powerful forces in the government.

For your younger brother, who has taken to wearing all black and talking about death a lot:
This year has brought out the nihilism in a lot of people, but we suggest directing them to a book that will fit their darkness but leave them uplifted. E.A. Barres’ thriller They’re Gone is gritty with great character work. It starts off with two murdered men and only gets more intriguing from there.

For your uncle who misses the glory days of rock ‘n roll:
Jon Zazula, who is known in the music world as Johnny Z, gives a look behind the scenes in his book, Heavy Tales. After he and his wife founded Megaforce Records in the early ’80s, he had a hand in the early successes of bands like Metallica, and has stories to share.

Need even more book recommendations? Check out our previous blog posts or email me at ellen@booksforward.com.

Our favorite books we’ve received as holiday gifts

When you’re a kid, seeing a book-shaped present under the Christmas tree can be a letdown — many would rather have a toy or cool game to play with. But as we’ve grown up, we’ve grown to appreciate the thought and care that goes into receiving a book as a gift. Whether it’s a new-to-you book that you can look forward to reading, or an old favorite in a new edition, we’re choosing to unwrap books first this holiday season!

The Books Forward team got together to reminisce on some of our favorites books we’ve been given during the holiday season:

“My father read To Kill A Mockingbird to my sisters and me when I was under 10 years old. He read us all of the classics. When I started JKS Communications for book publicity, he and my mother gave me a first-edition copy. I treasure it.”

Julie Schoerke Gallagher, founder

When I was a kid, my dad bought me a copy of Where The Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein. It’s a classic that I’ve revisited multiple times, reading it from cover to cover!” 

Angelle Barbazon, lead publicist

“Years ago, my dad got me a copy of The Snowman by Jo Nesbo for Christmas — usually I like to read a series from the beginning, but this book worked really well as a standalone. After reading it, I immediately dove into the rest of the series and got really into other Nordic noir books as a result!”

Ellen Whitfield, senior publicist

“I actually don’t buy a lot of books for myself anymore, even ones that become some of my favorites. So when I couldn’t stop raving about A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza, a friend (*cough* Books Forward publicist Ellen *cough*) bought it for me for Christmas 2019. Now, I have it on my shelf and can pick it up and reread anytime I want to feel all those feels again.”

Jennifer Vance, publicist

“When I was a teenager, my grandma gave me Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier for Christmas. I love watching my grandma’s favorite classic movies with her, and after reading Rebecca, I was swept into reading every book turned into an adaptation I could get my hands on. My grandma and I still discuss which books were better than the movies, and love cozying up on the couch together to rewatch all of them.”

Corrine Pritchett, publicist

“A decade ago, my good friend introduced me to Bill Bryson with his book The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America. Bryson had me at the first line: ‘I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to.’ It was the first time I ever laughed aloud, unashamed, in public while reading a book, and this continued as I read the rest of Bryson’s works. Most people start with and favor A Walk in the Woods (also hilarious) but The Lost Continent remains my favorite (because it has to be somebody’s favorite).”

Chris Gorman, special projects 

Tell us which books you’ve received as gifts (or that you’re hoping to receive this year) on Instagram (@booksforwardpr) or on Facebook

4 tips for writing a great book synopsis

 

A succinct, compelling book description is a crucial element in any book marketing campaign. Yet, for many authors, penning a well-constructed description of their work is easier said than done. This is understandable. Who wants to see the fruits of their labor crammed into the space of a couple of paragraphs? No one wants to force their baby into such a little box.

As difficult as it may be, it’s important when writing a book description to think about your book from the perspective of a total stranger. Why should they be interested in you or your beloved book? What are the five main points you think will stand out to them, and why are they important? If you can condense your book to an easily digestible, compelling description, you will have much more luck convincing editors, bloggers, publishers and book reviewers to give it a chance. Try to use brevity to your advantage and give your audience just enough information to get them hooked.

Sure, writing a book blurb can feel like a ruthless, editorial bloodbath. But cutting your book down to the most vital or tantalizing points will give you a new understanding of your work, and your book will be better for it. If you’re feeling uncertain, here are some common book blurb pitfalls to avoid.

1. Don’t over explain the plot.

One of the most common problems we see with book blurbs is when an author can’t decide when to stop describing elements of the plot. The result is usually an overly long book blurb, bloated with plot points, yet short on why we should read the book. While it’s important to give readers an idea of the story they’re about to read, there’s no point in giving away all the twists and turns before they’re even invested in the main character. Try to focus on summing up the main plot and its themes in a single sentence, two at the most. That should be enough for readers to get an idea whether they’re interested.

2. Don’t oversell your book with “filler” adjectives.

Another dubious feature of many book descriptions is when the author appears to be reviewing, rather than describing, their own book. Sure, maybe your book really is a “compelling,” “heart-rending,” story, “perfect for readers of all ages,” but why should anyone take your word for it? Too many superlative descriptions act as filler and, unless they can be attributed to an actual reviewer, often make the author look specious. Rather than wasting your word count, try to focus on why your book is compelling or heart-rending and tell that to the reader.

3. Highlight your book’s primary conflict.

Something we often see with book descriptions is that authors will get so overwhelmed with information that they forget to outline the main conflict of their book. It should go without saying that conflict is an essential element to every good story, and since it’s likely the thrust of your narrative, it’s good to make the central conflict of your story clear from the outset. Is your protagonist struggling with illness? Social oppression? Evil god-like forces? The conflict of your narrative is more often than not what will draw your readers in, so why not make it clear from the outset?

4. Avoid clichés and overused descriptors.

By trying to be thoughtful about outlining the details of your main plot, themes, and central conflict, you’re also telling the readers about why your book is unique. Yes, at the end of the day, your story may be a classic tale of a protagonist’s struggle between the forces of good and evil. But should you describe it that way? Surely, it’s not as generic as that, right? Try as much as possible to avoid these clichés and describe your book with language its unique qualities and highlights your individuality as an author. Don’t let your book blurb sell your book short!

One rule of thumb: think of your book blurb less as a description of your book and more as an adaptation. Rather than just telling readers about your book, imagine you’re adapting your book into a new poetic format, that gives its complexities in miniature condensations of narrative description. And, as always, consider cutting a sentence or two when you’re done!

How to write an author bio that stands out

Nothing can strike fear into an author’s heart quite like the author bio. Sure, you may have just finished off the final touches of the next great American novel. But the task of condensing an entire career into a couple short paragraphs is a lot trickier than it may seem. Plus in today’s age of digital media, your author bio may follow you from one corner of the internet to another for years. You’ve suddenly got quite a potential challenge on your hands. Luckily, you can follow a few tips to ensure that your author’s bio is positioned to paint as complete (and efficient) a portrait of you as possible for years to come.

Don’t date yourself!

To be clear, I’m not talking about ’80s references here. One of the biggest mistakes authors tend to make when writing an author bio is churning out long lists of previous publications, awards, and “forthcoming” works. This makes a lot of sense in a professional CV, but not so much in an author’s bio. Anticipate that any bio you’re going to write will be repopulated around the web for the rest of time. It’s not going to look fresh in 2020 if you’re talking about that “forthcoming” Writer’s Digest piece from fall 2007.

Rather than getting too specific, it’s best to simply list publications and awards in the past tense with as few specific dates as possible and only where they make the most sense. See, for example, Books Forward author Tori Eldridge:

Tori Eldridge is the Anthony and Lefty Awards-nominated author of The Ninja Daughter, which was named one of the “Best Mystery Books of the Year” by The South Florida Sun Sentinel and awarded 2019 Thriller Book of the Year by Authors on the Air Global Radio Network. Her short stories appear in several anthologies, and her screenplay ‘The Gift’ earned a semifinalist spot in the prestigious Academy Nicholl Fellowship.

This paragraph tells us a lot about Tori. We know that she’s published in several anthologies and been nominated for several awards, but we don’t need to know all of the specifics. Only in one case is the date necessary — the 2019 Thriller Books of the Year award — and it’s used here to maximum effect. If you can help from bogging your reader down with specifics, the achievements you do choose to highlight become a lot more interesting!

Slipping in the goods

We’re all interesting people, and we all have exciting things to share about ourselves. But for authors, it’s crucial that your author bio only shares information that’s most pertinent to your brand and the kind of promotion you’re trying to do. For instance, if your book is about running an effective workplace, you might not want to fill your author bio with information about how much you love raising ferrets or decorative pinecone collecting.

The information listed in your author bio is likely to come up repeatedly in author interviews and media coverage, so it’s best to include information that you’re comfortable talking about that will help drive interest to your book.

Here again, we can look to author Tori Eldridge for a good example:

Before writing, Tori performed as an actress, singer, dancer on Broadway, television, and film. She is of Hawaiian, Chinese, Norwegian descent and was born and raised in Honolulu where she graduated from Punahou School with classmate Barack Obama. Tori holds a fifth-degree black belt in To-Shin Do ninjutsu and has traveled the USA teaching seminars on the ninja arts, weapons, and women’s self-protection.

Here it’s clear from Tori’s bio that she would be an interesting media interview, she’s comfortable in front of a camera or behind a microphone, she has interesting stories to tell about growing up in Hawaii, and that she has expertise in one of the main subjects of her book, The Ninja’s Blade, and can speak further on the topic of self-defense.

If you find you have less colorful facts to include in your author bio, don’t force it! Maybe you can take one or two important facts about yourself and interestingly frame them. Perhaps you can focus on mentioning one or two achievements or self-defining experiences. Try to include a couple of pertinent facts to your book or make good interview questions. Don’t be afraid to sound boring; less is more!

All roads lead to social media

Finally, another key to a good author bio includes links to personal websites and social media accounts. In fact, think of the author’s bio as more of a prologue to the information that interested readers will find by visiting your personal website and social media pages. The key here is that you want to just give readers enough to paint a broad picture of who you are and what you’re bringing to the table as an author. That’s why it’s best to keep the bio short, sweet, and always pointing tantalizingly toward these personal accounts for more information.

Books that inspire some of the most creative bookstagrammers

Books that inspire some of the most creative bookstagrammers

I’d say that all bookstagrammers have to be creative — a lot of work goes into creating aesthetically pleasing pictures of books. But these influencers go above and beyond! From fashion to baking to drawing, they raise the bar for book reviews. We asked 26 bookstagrammers what book inspires them, and here’s what they said:

  1. Daci (@daciandthebooks) says: “The Book of Delights by Ross Gay is like if your smartest, wittiest friend—who also happened to be a poet—shared their gratitude journal with you. I read it on vacation and it helped me appreciate the mundane as much as (if not more than!) the remarkable.”
  2. Carmen (@tomesandtextiles) says: “A book that inspires me is We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Although this is technically an essay adapted from Chimamanda’s TED talk, I find myself regularly referencing the words within these pages as a way to reinforce my feelings about intersectional feminism and to motivate me to keep fighting against the patriarchy.”

  3. Lili (Utopia State of Mind) says: “I’ve been a fan of Mark Oshiro’s work since I read an early copy of Anger is a Gift and their recent release, Each of Us A Desert, is a transcendent book that emphasizes the importance of stories being told, our responsibility as a community to never forget, and the burden of carrying these weights alone. The stories that change us. Without which we become someone who doesn’t understand the weight of regret.”
  4. Holly (@bookcooklook) says: “I’ve read so many wonderful books during the pandemic that it’s hard to choose just one, so I’ll go with my most recent favorite, The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd. I don’t typically “star rate” my books but if I did, this one would be five stars for sure. This magnificent novel is about a fictional character named Ana, who in this story is the wife of Jesus. It’s important to note that the book is not about Jesus per se, but rather about Ana herself, the women in her life, and her own strength, bravery and determination. It is very much a book about female empowerment, and while Ana likely never existed, the book is filled with historical details that add depth to the beautiful writing and captivating story.”
  5. Saida (@saidainabook) says:  “I am always inspired by so many books but the one I want to mention today is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. For me, this book is a reminder that imagination and creativity know no limits. Full of magic and whimsy, The Night Circus breaks free of all sorts of boundaries and is endlessly inspiring.”
  6. Kate (@katesbookparade): says “Ever since I was very young, I’ve been inspired by The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards, a small but mighty story about finding the wonder that exists all around us. I used to be a children’s librarian, and children’s books always hit me in all the feels by reminding me of the richness of life’s possibilities!”
  7. Thom (@readbooks.servelooks) recommends: “Temporary by Hilary Leichter. Imagine a world where virtually anything can be a job. One day you’re cleaning the deck of a pirate ship and the next you’re an assassin’s assistant. In that same world, you might have 18 unnamed boyfriends that live in your apartment and bond while you’re gone. With Temporary, Leichter has written a novel that is absurd, hilarious, heartfelt, and memorable.”
  8. Mariah (@thekneadtoread) says: “I recommend Sabrina & Corina: Stories by Kali Fajardo-Anstine. Each short story, centered around Latina characters of indigenous descent, will hit you right en la corazón. Excellent content, powerful message, and magnificent writing so you can’t go wrong!”
  9. Melanie (@drawntobooks) says: “Although the subject matter might be a little dark to read amidst the pandemic, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is a book that has always inspired me. His sharp yet poetic writing is nothing short of masterful. The father/son dynamic was explored so deeply and beautifully I will forever remember it’s characters and their journey.”
  10. Zoe (@zoecreatesthings) says: “A book that inspires me is Mira Jacob’s graphic memoir, Good Talk. Oscillating between hilarious and heart-rending, Mira Jacob’s storytelling is strikingly earnest and beautifully nuanced. I’d recommend it to anyone interested in creative mediums. (I’d also recommend it to anyone, period.)”
  11. Robbi (@book.to.bowl) says: “I really connected with the character of Thandie in What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons, as she navigates early adulthood and works to define her identity as a black woman; the story is a truly intimate look into what it means to be a black woman who often doesn’t fit into certain stereotypes. Additionally, as someone who loves to cook and eat, I appreciated how certain memories in the book are connected to a particular dish or cooking experience.”
  12. Debora (@oh_apostrophe) says: “Little Women by Louisa May Alcott inspired me to be a reader, a writer, and an independent woman. The beauty and modernity of Little Women is that it gives girls the freedom to be whoever they want to be — dreamer or doer, poet or princess, homemaker or wave maker.”

  13. Mel (@acosyreader) says: “Any Ordinary Day: Blindsides, Resilience and What Happens After the Worst Day of Your Life by Leigh Sales is an eye-opening and compassionate book that has inspired me to view grief in a new light, and taught me so much about how we as humans cope with the challenges life throws at us. I read this book at a tough time, and it helped me see new ways of showing up for, and supporting, grieving friends and family. Full of compassion, empathy, good humour, and resilience – there’s something for everyone to be found in these pages.”
  14. Mel (@thebookfamilyrogerson) says: “Underland: A Deep Time Journey by Robert Macfarlane is a nonfiction book that explores human existence in the context of deep time. Wide-reaching and at times almost mythical in tone, the author’s subterranean adventures to locations including the Paris catacombs and Norwegian sea caves challenge and dizzy the reader. This haunting read inspired us to assess our place in the world and consider the legacy we’d like to pass onto future generations.”

  15. Maria (@mpjustreading) says: “The Body Papers by Grace Talusan inspires me to speak up about trauma and mental health issues. It’s a great reminder that cruelty or abuse should never be faced alone, especially since silence can never protect or heal anyone.”
  16. Em (@pagingserenity) says: “I recommend The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi! It’s a story full of magic and friendship. The worldbuilding and writing are so captivating. And the characters are diverse and so likeable they feel like your own friends by the end of the book.”
  17. Claire (@drawmeabookreview) says: “A book that has inspired me is The Right To Be Cold by Sheila Watt-Cloutier. Highlighting Indigenous voices and Canadian literature is important to me, and Sheila Watt-Cloutier is someone who has dedicated her life to fighting for and supporting her small Indigenous community in northern Quebec. I love that she’s done so many different things, from education worker to environmental activist, all to help those in her local community.”
  18. Monica (@oxfordjanebooks) says: “Things In Jars by Jess Kidd is a newer favorite of mine! It is marvelously executed: magical, so funny, turn-your-stomach gross, odd and psychologically astute. I was completely captivated. Jess Kidd describes 19th century London so that you want to lift your feet out of the muck and cover your face to avoid the stench. Definitely a story for those of us who love a smartly crafted mystery with brilliantly created characters.”
  19. Zaina (@writingquills) recommends: “Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali. This is an #ownvoices novel and a love story between two Muslim teens. As a Muslim myself, it warmed my heart to read a YA story with positive Muslim representation and that, along with the budding romance and beautiful imagery, made me feel a good deal of emotions. This book talks about Islamophobia, living with Multiple Sclerosis, cultural appropriation and so much more. Zayneb and Adam inspired me a lot. I adored Love From A to Z and would definitely recommend it!”
  20. Vivien (@steepedinwords) says: “I would love to recommend Circe by Madeline Miller. Circe is strong and does not let men or her life circumstances dictate the way she will live. She’s independent and strong willed who loves unconditionally and does everything in her power for her loved ones.”
  21. Amanda (@escape_in_a_book) recommends: “Autoboyography by Christina Lauren. This YA queer love story is a powerful ride. Coming of age, loving who you are, the toxicity prejudices…so much is unpacked during this fictional journey. Equally entertaining and important, a must read for everyone.”
  22. Katie (@baytownbookie) says: “My book recommendation is Beginner’s Pluck: Build Your Life of Purpose and Impact Now by Liz Forkin Bohannon. Liz debunks the myth that your passion and purpose are just floating out in the universe waiting to be discovered and encourages readers to cultivate their passions through pluck (spirited and determined courage.) It is packed full of charm, wit, humor, 90s references and practical ideas for building passion/purpose in your life.”
  23. Suruchi (@_ink_and_fables) says: “The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri inspires me because it teaches us how we should never ever let go of our roots. It’s a medium to reconnect with our family and no matter what, we are a product of our roots.”
  24. Britannia (@booklooksbyb) says: “One of my favorite recent inspiration books is The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton. This series is not only visually beautiful, fantastical & engaging but it is also very smart in how it challenges & reflects concepts of beauty & how we as a society see, value and treat people’s bodies (especially the bodies of women). As a makeup artist, a book lover and a woman of color, this story really resonated with me and I would highly recommend it!”

  25. Aleyxandra (@alyxandriaang) says: “My book recommendation is Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. This heartwarming, generational tale is a story that teaches you compassion, the struggles of immigrants and the importance of identity in an unknown world. This book inspires me every day to be humble and resilient.”
  26. Jennie (@jennieshaw) says: “The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith made me want to rent a billboard that featured the cover and a speech bubble containing bold all caps that screamed READ THIS BOOK. Because holy smokes, it’s amazing!! I’d been in a reading slump when this book’s quirky adventure of Hell’s librarian reminded me why escapist novels are so important — they’re like red bull for imagination inspiration!”
  27. Meg (@bookswithmeg_) recommends: “Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson. I loved this one because just as soon as you think what’s going on … it’s something completely different. The emotions that this book pulled from me was unexpected but made me love this book THAT much more!”

 

Leaning into e-books during the pandemic

I’m an old-fashioned gal — I much prefer reading a print book over an ebook. But I’ve never been one to pass up a good sale, so if there’s an e-book I’m interested in for 99 cents, I’ve probably bought it. That accounts for most of the 60+ books in my Kindle account. How many of those had actually been read as of early 2020? Well, that’s none of your business. 

Also, most of the time, our clients send us early copies of their books in e-book format, so early on in my career at Books Forward, I got an e-reader to accommodate that. That was pretty much the extent of the dealings I had with e-books.

And then the pandemic hit, and the library closed, and I couldn’t check out any book that sounded good on a whim. Do I have a home library full of books waiting to be read? Yes, but that’s besides the point. Luckily, I could still access the library’s vast collection of e-books. 

I do have a bookstagram account, and I was worried about how photos of e-books would turn out. But reading whatever I want was more important to me, so I started checking out as many e-books as my account would allow. And gosh, it’s opened up new worlds. 

I don’t have to drive to the library to pick up the book I’ve been anticipating—it’s often available with just one tap of a button. I read A Court of Mist and Fury and A Court of Wings and Ruin on my Kindle in the spring; not having to hold those giant hardbacks probably saved me many a hand cramp. 

When I wake up before anyone else in my house, I can get a few chapters in by pulling up an e-book on my phone without having to switch a light on and wake up my husband. 

It also has been a way for me to access a larger number of diverse selections — the library’s budget is only so large, and e-book copies are much more affordable than hard copies. If there’s a book I want to read that the library doesn’t have, 99 percent of the time I can request that they stock the e-book and have my wish granted in a matter of weeks.

Plus, there are so many good deals on e-books, and I’m actually reading the books I buy on my Kindle now! (Miracles never cease!)

I’m not going to lie to you and say I’m deserting physical books for e-books; that will likely never happen for me. But I will say that I’ve developed an appreciation for the ease that they provide. 

As for bookstagram photos — it’s still a work in progress, but I’ve learned a lot by trying to take pictures of my phone. And honestly I use my account more for reviews than photos, and now I have more books to review than ever! 

Graphic Novels and Comic Books: Not just for kids

a selection of comic books and graphic novelsI am absolutely a book snob and years ago I might have told you that I didn’t consider comic books or graphic novels “real” books, but guess what: I was wrong (imagine that)! People who are visual learners often connect better with this artistic format; it’s been shown that graphic novels and comics increase reading comprehension and inspire creativity. It can also help boost reading confidence in reluctant readers. 

Now to get technical: what’s the difference between the two? Graphic novels contain a complete narrative, whereas a comic book is part of a larger, serialized story. 

And there is something for everyone of every age. Some of the most rich and complete stories I’ve read have come from graphic novels.  I asked the Books Forward team what comics or graphic novels they’ve enjoyed, and added my recommendations at the bottom. Happy reading!

Jennifer Vance, Publicist 

The Netflix series Kingdom is based off the comic The Kingdom of the Gods by In-Wa Youn, (illustrated by Kyung-Il Yang), and after quickly bingeing the seasons available for the show, I knew I had to check out the source material. While the book definitely differs from the show, it’s still amazing. The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous, and if you love horror and gore and action, you’ll love this. Oh, and spoiler alert: There’s a whole lotta zombies.

Angelle Barbarzon, Lead Publicist

American Elf by James Kochalka was my first introduction to autobiographical comics. For years, James Kochalka posted a daily comic on his website, typically one to four panels chronicling a snippet from his day like a diary entry. Some days, he shared completely mundane things like stargazing at night with his wife or his cat’s tendency to sleep on his pillow. But other days, he shared deeper glimpses into his life, like the day his first son was born. But that’s just life, right? A mix of ordinary and extraordinary. Sadly, after 14 years, the daily comics came to an end, but they were all compiled into books that you can buy and read over, and over, and over!

Blankets by Craig Thompson is one of those graphic novels that I recommend to people who think comics are limited to superheroes fighting crime or pun-filled newspaper strips. Everything about this book is beautiful — the writing, the illustrations, the stories, everything! Based on his own life, Craig Thompson intertwines stories of two young brothers growing up in snowy Wisconsin with a coming-of-age tale of love, loss and faith. There will always be a place for this book on my shelves!

Hannah Robertson, Publicist

The Gigantic Beard that was Evil has illustrations that are simple but striking, and its message is one I can get behind any day.

Everything about The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg is breathtaking. It made me think a lot about where we come from and where we’re going.

Jackie Karneth, Publicist 

As a fan of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s utopian/dystopian novel Herland and a lover of cheeky webcomics, Aminder Dhaliwal’s Woman World is the perfect mashup heaven made just for me. Have you ever imagined what the world would be like if men suddenly ceased to exist? (It’s okay, you can admit it). Well that’s the premise here, and you’ll get to dive right into the hilarious happenings of a diverse group of female characters as they each navigate life without men. 

Another webcomic-turned-book, Nimona by Noelle Stevenson is the story of a young shapeshifter who suddenly becomes the sidekick of supervillain Lord Ballister Blackheart. Nimona and Blackheart are on a mission to prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin isn’t really all that. And despite Blackheart’s tough exterior, he quickly warms up to Nimona as they begin wreaking havoc together. A funny, witty, and oh-so-smart story filled with magic, friendship, and lots of surprises, this is definitely a “I read this in one sitting” type of book.

Chelsea Apple, Content Creator

I really enjoy the online webcomic Lore Olympus. A version of the Hades and Persephone myth that mixes a modern retelling with a mythical reboot? Sign. Me. Up. The characters are well developed, the story is intriguing, and seriously look at this art

I also follow Let’s Play! When I first started this webcomic, I thought I knew where it was going: a nerdy (but clearly attractive) video game developer becomes next door neighbors with the hot video game reviewer who trashed her debut project. Perfect enemies-to-lovers territory, right? Turns out, I had no idea where this story was going, and I’m loving the fantastic character development, interesting relationships, and the surprising plot!  

Ellen Whitfield, Senior Publicist

My most recommended graphic novel is Check, Please! Ngozi Ukazu’s illustrations are a perfect fit for her story about an ice skater who got a hockey scholarship to a college in the midwest, and has to figure out how to navigate his new campus and coming out to his teammates. Oh and he’s a champion baker. You’ll fall in love immediately, and the good news is that volume 2 is even longer and cuter.

The first graphic novel I ever read (it was only last year!) was Kid Gloves, written and illustrated by Lucy Knisley. It covers her experience with fertility problems, conception, pregnancy and childbirth, and drops some serious knowledge along the way. 

Heartstopper by Alice Oseman took me right back to the uncertainties and hopes and worries and breathlessness of high school. Everyone deserves to be loved like Nick loves Charlie — the way they are together just makes me melt. 

I read Good Talk because of Lupita Reads, and was blown away by Mira Jacobs’s storytelling ability. Being a parent is hard enough, and the responsibilities that come with raising a Black or brown child in America are overwhelming. The author switches between stories from her early life to present day in this intimate memoir.

I have a tendency to look at first love through rose-colored glasses, but Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me, written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell, reminded me that falling for someone as a teen can be as difficult as it is wonderful. It captures the highs and lows of that emotional time of life.

Some other graphic novels and comics on our TBR: