Tips to consider when setting up bookstore events

Some authors don’t look forward to events – too many people, too much talking about themselves and their work. While others can’t wait for their launch party – it’s a chance to visit with all the people in their circle and meet potential new readers!

Regardless of what kind of author you are, events can be a great way to celebrate your book and all of the years of hard work you and a whole slew of other people put into it. Here are a few things to keep in mind when setting up author events at bookstores.

Business first

While most bookstores love to host events, they are ultimately a business. Staffing an event, whether virtual or in-person, takes hard work and money, so try not to be offended if they aren’t able to work you into the schedule.

Bringing an audience

The event coordinator may ask you if you have a network of family and friends in the area who are able to attend. This is for your benefit, as well as theirs. They (understandably) want to sell books, but more than that, they want your event to be a success for you! Having an event and expecting the bookstore to provide the audience won’t get you too far.

Don’t forget to promote your event on social media, and feel free to ask the bookstore if they do this as well. You can ask friends and family to share your posts to increase your chances of having more people show up, as well.

That being said, if you do host an event and only a few people show up, don’t despair. This gives you an opportunity to connect with readers in a more personal way that you’ll likely remember for a long time.

Inviting other authors

Partnering with other authors can be a great idea. This can cut down on nerves because the focus isn’t entirely on you, and an “in conversation event” is generally a more attractive prospect for bookstores. You can even think outside the “author” box, especially if you write nonfiction – an expert in the field that you are writing about could make for fascinating back and forth. Plus, the other speaker is likely to draw even more people to the event!

Multiple events

Be cautious about setting up several events in the same area: Will you be able to draw a good-sized crowd to both events? If you do feel like you can pull it off, having a different topic discussed at each event is a good idea. That way you don’t feel like you’re giving a speech but rather engaging in a topic with that audience.

Above all, try to enjoy this part of your author journey – it’s something that not all authors get to do, and events can be something that both you and readers will remember for years!

For more tips on different kinds of events to consider, check out this blog post: https://www.ingramspark.com/blog/tips-for-author-events.

Books to read if you love Only Murders in the Building

I don’t know about you, but I can’t for Season 2 of Only Murders in The Building! Watching all of the episodes in season 1 won’t take too long, so here are some great books to read if you are looking for more of the hijinks, mystery, and unlikely friendship that the show does so well.

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

The first title that came to mind was this hilarious murder mystery novel that takes place in a retirement village. Four septuagenarians get to take their true crime club to the next level when a local developer is found dead. Whether the female cop with her first big case wants the help or not, they are at her disposal as more bodies begin to drop. The mystery itself is great, but what really makes the book are the eccentric characters (reminiscent of Charles and Oliver) you can’t help but love.

​​A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder by Holly Jackson

This book is for the Mabel lovers out there as it follows another girl who loves true crime. Pippa Fitz chooses to do her final year proect on a local murder case from five years prior, but the more she digs, the more dangerous it gets for her. A great murder plot with a determined female protagonist that Mabel would most likely be friends with.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

If you enjoyed those flashback scenes to secrets and partying that led to Oscar being wrongfully convicted of Zoe’s murder, you’ll love this book about four rich kids with something in their past they want to keep hidden. This book’s description: “A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive,” is very reminiscent of Mabel’s Hardy Boys gang. Complicated relationships, deception, and life-altering decisions are at the root of both of these groups of friends and the book itself is quite the page-turner.

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

While the show deals with only murders in the apartment building, this book deals with only the murder in Blackheath Manor. Aiden is suddenly at the mercy of his own wit, as he finds that Evelyn Hardcastle will die every day until he can identify her killer and break the cycle. You get to see through the eyes of all the suspects and crazy characters as he wakes up in a different body each day. Much like the show, it will keep you guessing until the end and you’ll have almost as many theories as Charles, Oliver, and Mabel pin up on their murder board.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman

If you love the tone of the show, you will love this book about a curmudgeonly old man named Ove who finds his world turned upside down when a boisterous young family moves in next door. I honestly think Steve Martin would make a wonderful Ove. Much like you grow to love Charles more as you get his backstory, the same is true for Ove. It’s funny and heartwarming and has the energy that makes it feel like the story could exist in the same world as the show takes place.

Finlay Donovan is Killing It by Elle Cosimano

This book is a little different from the show in that instead of solving murders, the main character is doing the killing. A writer who is struggling to hold her life together and come up with a good book idea for her publisher, stumbles into becoming a hit woman and hilarity and ridiculousness ensues. Lots of twists and turns in this book and perfect if you were a fan of Jan.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

A classic for a reason, this Agatha Christie novel takes place in a big house on an island instead of an apartment building in New York, but the stakes of finding out who is doing the killing are the same. A who dunnit done perfectly, this book will have you changing yoour mind constantly and then you’ll still be surprised by who it turns out to be. Clever like the show, and a must read for anyone who calls themselves a mystery fan.

The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz

An unlikely duo, Detective Hawthore and the author Anthony Horowitz who he hires to write about his life end up working together to figure out who killed Diana Cowper, the mother of a famous actor. What makes the story even more strange is that she walked into a funeral parlor on the morning of her murder to plan her own service. If you love the show, you love unlikely friends solving crimes and that is eactly what this book brings to the table.

 

Should I enter my book in awards contests?

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

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

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

How to be strategic when applying for awards

Make note of your budget.

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

Do your research.

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

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

Think outside the box.

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

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

Pay attention to guidelines.

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

A few things to make note of when scanning guidelines:

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

What should I do after an award win?

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

I would also recommend you:

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

Not sure where to start?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Books Forward BFFs June 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 June 2022 newsletter here!

How to decide which social media platform is for you

Social media is one of the most effective ways to market your products or services. I know that when I find out about a new author, actor, restaurant, boutique, etc., the first thing I do is search for them on social media. Even when using Google, the first links that pop up are always the main social media sites, as long as the person I am searching for has a presence there.

There are many reasons why some platforms may make more sense for you than others, but with all the tips and tricks we have below, keep in mind that none of this is black and white. The tips below are just based on what we’ve seen authors have success with in the past, and on demographics for each social media platform!

What should I focus on when deciding which platform to use?

When deciding which social media platform to focus on, think about your audience. What is the age demographic you are trying to target? That should be the first indicator on where to get started. Also, don’t get overwhelmed by all of the options below! It is much better to consistently create good quality content for one platform, going directly to your ideal audience, rather than creating average content spread out across five different platforms reaching wide ranges of people every once in a while. You can slowly work up to more platforms once you figure out the ideal place to start for your book and brand!

What are the benefits and target audiences for each platform?

Facebook

Facebook is the largest social media site, with 2.9 billion people having a Facebook account. It has a reputation of being for older generations, but based on recent statistics, 26.4% of the platform’s user base is actually made up of millennials ages 25-34. However, 36% of the platform’s users are 45 or older.

The Facebook algorithm is designed to focus on starting discussions, whether among friends and family members on a personal profile, or among you and your audience members on a Facebook page. That means your posts should have questions in them to spark conversations! For example, mystery books with shocking twists make for great discussion pieces and would do well on Facebook.

However, there are so many ways you can make your genre work on Facebook. You just need to be creative with content ideas! Your post could also be as simple as a picture of the current book you are reading and a cup of coffee. In the caption, you can pose the question: “Do you prefer coffee or tea / Have you read this book?” etc. Make it a conversation! Facebook is a good place to share links to blog posts as well, if you have a blog!

TikTok

TikTok was created in 2016 and has 1 billion users – it is one of the fastest growing apps in the world, and has more daily visitors than Google and Facebook. And if you haven’t heard of it yet, #BookTok is taking the “book world” by storm, so it’s probably time to hop on the bandwagon!

The target audience for TikTok is ages 16-24, with 60% of the users being under 25. However, keep in mind that YA and/or fantasy authors will absolutely perform the best on TikTok because those are the most popular genres on BookTok. But there are so many niches on TikTok, and BookTok specifically, that you can most likely find a world for your book on there somewhere, even if you don’t write YA or Fantasy.

Also keep in mind that TikTok is known for videos focusing around humor, so you’ll be spending a lot of time making videos to go with funny, trending sounds, and showing your face a good bit! It’s definitely an app you can have fun with, but wouldn’t be ideal if you don’t have time to regularly film videos and search the app for ideas or relatable content to make your own.

Instagram

Instagram has 2 billion users, and is one of the most visual platforms. It focuses on showcasing items or services through videos and images. #Bookstagram is a huge part of the “book world,” where your book could potentially do really well if you market it correctly!

60% of Instagram’s users are ages 18-34, so the majority are either Gen Z or Millennials. That means that a wide range of genres can do well on Instagram, and what really matters is making sure your content looks really nice. Instagram has sort of become a version of Pinterest, where the ideal Instagram feed would be very aesthetically pleasing. For example, romance books usually have fun, adorable covers and do well on Instagram.

For your profile as an author, any content that focuses on showing off your book, images of yourself, your writing desk, your favorite coffee shop, videos of you doing some of your hobbies, graphics shouting out any upcoming events and interviews, would all do well on the app.

Another thing to consider is that Instagram and TikTok are two platforms that can go hand in hand pretty well. If you’re making TikTok videos, you can easily reshare them onto Instagram as reels to maximize the visibility of your videos.

Twitter

Twitter has 436 million users, and most of Twitter’s content focuses on trending news, entertainment and politics. 38.5% of Twitter users are ages 25-34, and 21% are ages 25-49.
With each Twitter post or “Tweet”, you are only able to type a maximum of 280 characters, so each tweet is very concise! Tweets that have an image or link with them also perform better than just text.

You shouldn’t only post about your book – posting about current events and entertainment you are enjoying, such as other books you are reading or TV shows that you are watching is beneficial to reach a wider audience. A great way to join the conversation is to talk about trending topics and relate it back to your book when and if you can! There are also popular hashtags associated with author and writer life on Twitter that you can use – try tagging all of your relevant content with #AuthorCommunity and #WritingCommunity.

Other platforms include LinkedIn, which is great for the business authors out there, Youtube, which focuses on long form videos, and Pinterest, which I mentioned above. Social media is definitely an investment of your time, but we do find that it pays off in the long run. And most of all, remember to have fun with it!

Books on the Bob’s Burgers character TBRs

I have been watching Bob’s Burgers for almost a decade, and I’m so excited that there’s finally going to be a movie! To celebrate, I made a list of the books I think each character would enjoy.

Bob
Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures by Merlin Sheldrake – Bob loves gardening, and he frequently gets overly involved in hobbies, so I think he’d enjoy this deep dive into mushrooms.

Taste by Stanley Tucci – I can see Bob listening to this one as he cooks and taking inspiration for new burgers of the day.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values by Robert M. Pirsig – He’d try several times to start this one, but once he finally gets into it, he won’t be able to put down this classic about fatherhood.

Linda
Chocolat by Joanne Harris – A book about a mom who runs a chocolate shop? Linda’s all in.

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan – Linda will definitely try to get the family to take up mahjong after reading this book about mothers and daughters.

Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake by Alexis Hall – Linda lives for a good romance once, and she’s extra into this one because it involves a baking competition!

Tina
Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion – Tina has a very intense fascination with zombies and this book is right up her alley.

Kiss and Tell by Adib Khorram – Just like every other preteen girl, Tina loves boy bands.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han – Tina can definitely relate to being in love with several boys at once, and doing embarrassing things to get them to notice her.

Gene
Stand Up, Yumi Chung by Jessica Kim – Gene loves being the center of attention and making people laugh.

Sarai Saves the Music by Sarai Gonzalez and Monica Brown – Always in possession of his trusty keyboard, Gene is making up a soundtrack to his own life.

Summer of A Thousand Pies by Margaret Dilloway – The title of this book sounds like a perfect summer project for Gene.

Louise
Ghost Squad by Claribel Ortega – Despite being the youngest Belcher kid, Louise is often the leader of a gang of kids looking for trouble.

The Dragon Warrior by Katie Zhao – A book about a girl warrior in charge of an army of dragons is basically a “how to” list for Louise.

Tristan Strong Punches A Hole in the Sky: The Graphic Novel by Kwame Mbalia – The graphic novel is perfect for a younger kid who still loves pictures, and Louise would appreciate Gum Baby’s snark.

Teddy
Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey – Teddy isn’t ashamed to read romance, especially not one that involves a handywoman.

The Guncle by Steven Rowley – “Uncle” Teddy can always be counted on to take care of the Belcher kids in an emergency.

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg – A book about loyal friends and a diner is very applicable to Teddy’s personality.

Mort
Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett – A family named the Mortons that run a funeral home? Enough said.

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders – It feels like Mort would enjoy this book focused on the in-between of life and death.

The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe – It’s perfect for a man who is more comfortable with death than most other people.

Book recommendations from nurses of bookstagram

Nurses are an essential part of our healthcare system and should be celebrated all the time, but especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nurses and other healthcare professionals stepped up to the plate during truly unprecedented times and have provided our communities with life saving medical practice. To celebrate nurses we asked some of our favorite bookish nurses to share a beloved book recommendation – check out their picks below!

Happy National Nurses Day! Don’t forget to show a nurse how much you appreciate them today and every day!

Courtney, @courtneycanread: Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia
“When I really love a book it can be hard to form words and not just squeal and exclaim “you HAVE to read it, I LOVED it!!!!” and for me Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts is one of those books. I read it at a time that I needed a fun escape from reality and while it gave me that I also got so much more. It’s a heartfelt read about an eccentric billionaire who dies and leaves behind clues to his fortune creating enemies and unlikely friends as they all try to confront their own ghosts and solve the mystery. Okay I’m at the point where I’ve convinced myself to do a reread so I hope that I’ve convinced you to pick it up!”

Shannon, @workreadsleeprepeat: Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez
“Abby Jimenez is always my go-to for books that I can literally never forget. Her latest release, Part of Your World, is an age gap romance featuring a woman in STEM! The steam is perfectly done, every chapter has you laughing out loud (the ring light scene, IYKYA) and she brings such tough topics to her books while guiding you through them in such a perfect way. The main character had me wanting to be an even better nurse and work more on community outreach. I could go on and on about all of Abby’s books but definitely check this one out for Nurse’s Day!”

Lauren, @nightnursereads: Lease on Love by Falon Ballard
“I absolutely adore Lease on Love! Sadie is a firecracker and Jack is our cinnamon roll hero, they are so different yet find a connection with each other. This forced proximity, hilarious, slow burn romance will keep you laughing and falling hard for this book!”

Abby, @abbyturnsthepage: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
“The Count of Monte Cristo is my annual go-to. I’ve recommended it endlessly and made it my mission to gift it to every reader friend. It’s a savory slow burn of betrayal and revenge with a lingering feeling of hope. Hope for justice, hope for joy, and a hope for peace in the heart of a man who had his whole life stripped away from him.”

Maggie, @magsisreadingagain: Greenwood by Michael Christie
I am a big fan of Canadian authors, and books that look at family histories, and this book delivers in spades. A story that spans one Canadian family’s experience with the forestry industry, its environmental impact, and family dynamics that echo loneliness and disconnection. Patterned after the rings of a tree, the timelines flow from 2034 to 1934 and back again. The perfect immersive read after a chaotic workday.

Joslyn, @betruetoyourshelf: You Had Me At Hola by Alexis Daria
The pandemic of course has been hard on everyone and in these difficult times romance novels have been a saving grace for me. While I picked it up because it was a romance, it was really the relationship between the cousins (Primas of Power) that drew me in!

Thank you again, nurses of bookstagram, for your fabulous recommendations, but also for all you do for your communities! We appreciate you so much!

Books to read to get in the mood for the new Downton Abbey movie

The new Downton movie, Downton Abbey: A New Era, is releasing on May 18, and if your stomach also flips when you hear the theme music begin to play, these books are perfect to add to your TBR! Ranging from early 1800s to late 1900s, these historical books will capture your attention as a fellow fan of drama, history, love, scandal (and yes, some sprinkled with humor) all packed into one read.

To Marry an English Lord by Gail MacColl and Carol Wallace

“Marvelous and entertaining.” –Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey
Discover the true stories behind the women who inspired Downton Abbey and HBO’s The Gilded Age, the heiresses–including a Vanderbilt (railroads), a LaRoche (pharmaceuticals), and a Rogers (oil)–who staked their ground in England, swapping dollars for titles and marrying peers of the British realm. Filled with vivid personalities, grand houses, dashing earls, and a wealth of period details and quotes on the finer points of Victorian and Edwardian etiquette, To Marry an English Lord is social history at its liveliest and most accessible. Sex, snobbery, humor, social triumphs (and gaffes), are all recalled in marvelous detail, complete with parties, clothes, scandals, affairs, and 100-year-old gossip that’s still scorching.

Follow Carol Wallace on Instagram and Twitter

The Loyal League Series by Alyssa Cole

All of the suspense and adventure of an espionage thriller paired with swoon-worthy romance and hidden American history.

An Extraordinary Union: An Epic Love Story of the Civil War: The first of award-winning author Alyssa Cole’s highly-acclaimed Loyal League series! As the Civil War rages between the states, a courageous pair of spies plunge fearlessly into a maelstrom of ignorance, deceit, and danger, combining their unique skills to alter the course of history and break the chains of the past . . .
Elle Burns is a former slave with a passion for justice and an eidetic memory. Trading in her life of freedom in Massachusetts, she returns to the indignity of slavery in the South–to spy for the Union Army.
Malcolm McCall is a detective for Pinkerton’s Secret Service. Subterfuge is his calling, but he’s facing his deadliest mission yet–risking his life to infiltrate a Rebel enclave in Virginia.
Two undercover agents who share a common cause–and an undeniable attraction–Malcolm and Elle join forces when they discover a plot that could turn the tide of the war in the Confederacy’s favor. Caught in a tightening web of wartime intrigue, and fighting a fiery and forbidden love, Malcolm and Elle must make their boldest move to preserve the Union at any cost–even if it means losing each other . . .

Follow Alyssa Cole on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook

Passing by Nella Larsen

The tale is simple on the surface with several adventures in Chicago and New York’s high life. But underneath, it seethes with rage, guilt, sex, and complex deceptions.

Generally regarded as Nella Larsen’s best work, Passing was first published in 1929 but has received a lot of renewed attention because of its close examination of racial and sexual ambiguities. It has achieved canonical status in many American universities. Clare Kendry is living on the edge. Light-skinned, elegant, and ambitious, she is married to a racist white man unaware of her African American heritage, and has severed all ties to her past after deciding to ‘pass’ as a white woman. Clare’s childhood friend, Irene Redfield, just as light-skinned, has chosen to remain within the African American community, and is simultaneously allured and repelled by Clare’s risky decision to engage in racial masquerade for personal and societal gain. After frequenting African American-centric gatherings together in Harlem, Clare’s interest in Irene turns into a homoerotic longing for Irene’s black identity that she abandoned and can never embrace again, and she is forced to grapple with her decision to pass for white in a way that is both tragic and telling.

Snobs by Julian Fellowes

Once I became obsessed with Downton Abbey, I came across the creator of the show, Julian Fellowes, and his book Snobs. I had to read it knowing he created Downton Abbey, and his work definitely did not disappoint if you’re a fan of witty storytelling.

In his superbly observed first novel, Julian Fellowes, creator of the Masterpiece sensation Downton Abbey and winner of an Academy Award for his original screenplay of Gosford Park, brings us an insider’s look at a contemporary England that is still not as classless as is popularly supposed.
Edith Lavery, an English blonde with large eyes and nice manners, is the daughter of a moderately successful accountant and his social-climbing wife. While visiting his parents’ stately home as a paying guest, Edith meets Charles, the Earl Broughton, and heir to the Marquess of Uckfield, who runs the family estates in East Sussex and Norfolk. To the gossip columns he is one of the most eligible young aristocrats around. When he proposes, Edith accepts. But is she really in love with Charles? Or with his title, his position, and all that goes with it?
One inescapable part of life at Broughton Hall is Charles’s mother, the shrewd Lady Uckfield, known to her friends as Googie and described by the narrator—an actor who moves comfortably among the upper classes while chronicling their foibles—as the most socially expert individual I have ever known at all well. She combined a watchmaker’s eye for detail with a madam’s knowledge of the world. Lady Uckfield is convinced that Edith is more interested in becoming a countess than in being a good wife to her son. And when a television company, complete with a gorgeous leading man, descends on Broughton Hall to film a period drama, Googie’s worst fears seem fully justified.

The Bridgerton Series by Julia Quinn

We burn for the Bridgerton series! It takes place in the 1800s, long before Downton Abbey, but follows similar themes with a more lighthearted, romance-focused tone.

The Duke and I: In the ballrooms and drawing rooms of Regency London, rules abound. From their earliest days, children of aristocrats learn how to address an earl and curtsey before a prince–while other dictates of the town are unspoken yet universally understood. A proper duke should be imperious and aloof. A young, marriageable lady should be amiable…but not too amiable.
Daphne Bridgerton has always failed at the latter. The fourth of eight siblings in her close-knit family, she has formed friendships with the most eligible young men in London. Everyone likes Daphne for her kindness and wit. But no one truly desires her.
Amiability is not a characteristic shared by Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings. Recently returned to England from abroad, he intends to shun both marriage and society–just as his callous father shunned Simon throughout his painful childhood. Yet an encounter with his best friend’s sister offers another option. If Daphne agrees to a fake courtship, Simon can deter the mamas who parade their daughters before him. Daphne, meanwhile, will see her prospects and her reputation soar.
The plan works like a charm–at first. But amid the glittering, gossipy, cut-throat world of London’s elite, there is only one certainty: love ignores every rule…

Follow Julia Quinn on Instagram and Facebook

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

This book is a non-linear, emotional and captivating historical fiction that I read in about two days. If you haven’t picked it up yet, this is your sign to do so.

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?
Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.

Follow Brit Bennett on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Mārquez

I have to agree with the New York Times Book Review that this book should be “required reading”… This book is epic and profound.

One of the most influential literary works of our time, One Hundred Years of Solitude remains a dazzling and original achievement by the masterful Gabriel Garcia Marquez, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature.
One Hundred Years of Solitude tells the story of the rise and fall, birth and death of the mythical town of Macondo through the history of the Buendiá family. Inventive, amusing, magnetic, sad and alive with unforgettable men and women–brimming with truth, compassion, and a lyrical magic that strikes the soul–this novel is a masterpiece in the art of fiction.

Follow Gabriel García Mārquez on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook

The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende

If Emma Watson recommends a book, I am more than happy to read it. So I did exactly that when this book was on Our Shared Shelf in 2020. I quickly began to read much of Allende’s other English translated work, including A Long Petal of the Sea and Violeta. To put it simply, her work is exquisite.

The House of the Spirits, the unforgettable first novel that established Isabel Allende as one of the world’s most gifted storytellers, brings to life the triumphs and tragedies of three generations of the Trueba family. The patriarch Esteban is a volatile, proud man whose voracious pursuit of political power is tempered only by his love for his delicate wife Clara, a woman with a mystical connection to the spirit world. When their daughter Blanca embarks on a forbidden love affair in defiance of her implacable father, the result is an unexpected gift to Esteban: his adored granddaughter Alba, a beautiful and strong-willed child who will lead her family and her country into a revolutionary future.
One of the most important novels of the twentieth century, The House of the Spirits is an enthralling epic that spans decades and lives, weaving the personal and the political into a universal story of love, magic, and fate.

Follow Isabel Allende on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook

The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillippa Gregory

From “the queen of royal fiction” (USA TODAY), this is another historical fiction that I devoured.

When Mary Boleyn comes to court as an innocent girl of fourteen, she catches the eye of the handsome and charming Henry VIII. Dazzled by the king, Mary falls in love with both her golden prince and her growing role as unofficial queen. However, she soon realizes just how much she is a pawn in her family’s ambitious plots as the king’s interest begins to wane, and soon she is forced to step aside for her best friend and rival: her sister, Anne. With her own destiny suddenly unknown, Mary realizes that she must defy her family and take fate into her own hands.
With more than one million copies in print and adapted for the big screen, The Other Boleyn Girl is a riveting historical drama. It brings to light a woman of extraordinary determination and desire who lived at the heart of the most exciting and glamorous court in Europe, and survived a treacherous political landscape by following her heart.

Follow Phillippa Gregory on Twitter and Facebook

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I recently read this one after seeing it all over social media for the past year, and I have to admit, I’m now obsessed with it too. I’m now reading Malibu Rising by Reid, and enjoying it ~almost~ just as much.

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?
Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jump start her career.
Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ’80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

Follow Taylor Jenkins Reid on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook

Diana: Her True Story – In Her Own Words by Andrew Morton

This one is nonfiction, but if you are interested in English history and Princess Diana’s story, you’ll truly love this book.

The sensational biography of Princess Diana, written with her cooperation and now featuring exclusive new material to commemorate the 20th anniversary of her death.
When Diana: Her True Story was first published in 1992, it forever changed the way the public viewed the British monarchy. Greeted initially with disbelief and ridicule, the #1 New York Times bestselling biography has become a unique literary classic, not just because of its explosive contents but also because of Diana’s intimate involvement in the publication. Never before had a senior royal spoken in such a raw, unfiltered way about her unhappy marriage, her relationship with the Queen, her extraordinary life inside the House of Windsor, her hopes, her fears, and her dreams. Now, twenty-five years on, biographer Andrew Morton has revisited the secret tapes he and the late princess made to reveal startling new insights into her life and mind. In this fully revised edition of his groundbreaking biography, Morton considers Diana’s legacy and her relevance to the modern royal family.
An icon in life and a legend in death, Diana continues to fascinate. Diana: Her True Story in Her Own Words is the closest we will ever come to her autobiography.

Follow Andrew Morton on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook

Books Forward BFFs May 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 May 2022 newsletter here!

Book marketing: What it is, and why it is never done

When authors write a book, what is the goal? To sell copies, to create a reader base, to retire from their day job and become full time writers – career goals can vary, but the answer to finding long-term success as an author remains the same: market your book.

A lot of the time, authors think writing the book is enough. It is, of course, a crucial part of being a successful writer, but writing a book and launching it into the world isn’t enough to get the book in front of its target audience to sell copies.

I am not discrediting all the work that goes into getting your book published, whether self publishing, traditionally publishing, or indie publishing. It is a long, tedious, process that takes a lot of work and good writing.

However, not marketing your book is like tripping at the finish line, and you’ll be doing yourself and your book a huge disservice without marketing!

So, what is book marketing?

The point of book marketing is to create awareness among booksellers and consumers for a specific book. The long-term goal of marketing is to generate book sales, but how do we get there?

When looking at famous authors with strong readerships, what do they all have in common?
They follow well-researched marketing strategies that help get their book to the ideal audience. Having a well-written book is important, but a book’s success is also dependent on making sure the right people are reading it.

First, identify your genre and target audience.

An important pillar to being a great writer is also being a reader. If you want to write thriller books, but never read that genre, how will you know what your fanbase is interested in reading? How will you know what book is missing from the millions? It is important to know the nuances of your genre, as well as the other authors who write what you write.

Along with identifying your genre comes identifying your target audience. If you write thrillers, go see who authors in your genre are following and who follows them on social media. That is a great way to start finding your audience members and engaging with them!

Build relationships with authors and readers.

Once you’ve established your niche in the world of books and readers, start interacting with the people who appreciate what you appreciate! Message the authors you followed on social media, and start networking with them. Consider collaborating with authors. This could be as simple as a social media post about them and their book, or a joint book giveaway.

A 2017 study from Digital Book World said that 95 percent of books were sold by word of mouth. Readers talk to other readers! There are so many books I would have never known about if I didn’t hear about them on Bookstagram or Booktok. If you want to be part of the conversation, interact with your readers. Send select readers with large engagements a copy of your book in exchange for an honest review or post about your book. This is a great way to start garnering attention for your book, as well as a loyal fanbase!

Get active on social media.

Trust me, I know social media can seem like a daunting place. It’s one of the biggest concerns and questions I get from the authors I work with.

There are so many directions you can go with social media, but if the idea of getting started is overwhelming you, start small. Start with the platform that feels easiest to you, whether that’s Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, or Twitter!

The idea is to make sure readers can find you, see who you are and what you write, and to stay updated on your books! It’s also the perfect place to find readers and authors to interact with.

Again, if we’re starting small, there’s no need to come out the gate posting 3 times a day. Start with two posts a week, and plan them out ahead of time. Sit down one day of the week for a few hours, plan two posts, schedule them out, follow new accounts, engage with users, and be done for the week. As you get more comfortable with it, you can add in more posts, more engagement, and more platforms!

Run Facebook ads.

There are so many strategies just through Facebook advertising you can get started with, but again, it makes sense to just start small!

If you’re new to social media, specifically to Facebook and/or Instagram, you can run Facebook Page Like ads. This is a great way to gain more followers on your social media platforms. When you create a Facebook ad, as long as your Instagram is linked to your Facebook, the ads will also go to your account on Instagram.

You can also run Sales ads, which will redirect users to your book on your website, Bookshop, Amazon, anywhere you choose! People will be able to see your ad, interact with it, and immediately buy your book.

Utilize Amazon author central.

Amazon is the largest book retailer in the world, and has completely changed nearly everything about the way we market and publish books. Having an Amazon Author Central account is one of the most important things you can do for yourself as an author.

There are multiple ways to utilize it, and the most important is to optimize your author page. Make sure you have an updated profile picture, bio, social media and website links, and that all of your books can be found under your author page.

You can also update your book’s categories on Amazon. This means you can change the categories your book falls in. For example, if you write thriller books and your book is in the thriller category, that’s great. But that category is so broad and encompasses every single thriller book on Amazon, so being more niche benefits the book. For example: thriller books with women sleuth leads.

The benefit of having niche categories is that it gives your book a better chance of hitting number one in that category on Amazon, which is another great marketing tool you can use if you do hit number one, or even if you hit the top 100 list in a category.

Run Amazon ads.

Amazon ads are another useful strategy to get your book out there. Advertising on Amazon is done through keyword targeting, using keywords that you personally choose. For example, again if you write thriller books, you can use “thriller books” as a keyword, and your book will pop up as a sponsored option when people search for thriller books on Amazon. This is a broad category, so it makes sense to be quite niche when it comes to choosing your keywords as well.

Amazon lets you update and trade out keywords as much as you need to until you find the ones that are targeting the right audience to sell your book.

Make videos!

Making videos is a fun marketing strategy that is blowing up in 2022. This doesn’t mean you have to be active on TikTok, posting videos every day, but we cannot deny the huge reader base that interacts with video content. Videos are a huge way to get engagement, and you can also post them on any social media platforms, not just TikTok.

There are also a lot of authors out there who have book trailers, but in today’s day in age, it seems to make more sense to make a personalized video. That can be anything from behind the scenes of your writing process, a book aesthetic video, a video of you unboxing your books, a tour of your writing desk, you thanking your readers, whatever feels natural to you!

Start small.

As you can see with all of the above marketing strategies, you just have to start small. Nobody is expecting you to do every single tip above, to have 100k followers on social media overnight, or to sell 500k copies of your book in a week. However, these strategies are all a great way to build up your author brand, books, and audience to get where you want to be as an author.

If you strategically look at where you feel you need growth as an author and start there, you’ll be able to look back and see how far you’ve come in a matter of months, even if that growth is just selling 10 more copies of your book, or gaining 100 Instagram followers! All of it builds on itself, so take it one step at a time and remember to enjoy the journey of gaining readers for your books.