Books Forward Authors in the Media: November 2023

What can we say, Books Forward authors are always going, going, going! We’re excited to feature some of our authors and their recent media wins.

  • Maya Golden’s article I Was Called ‘Little Black Girl’ and Treated Like a Gimmick was featured by Newsweek.
  • The New York Times featured Rudy Ruiz on a recent reading list of 6 Paperbacks to Read this Week.
  • George Franklin and his new book were covered by The Hill in this recent story.
  • Author Lyn Squire stopped by In Reference to Murder for an Author R&R.
  • Finding Genius had author Audrey Gale on to discuss novel writing.
  • Kosoko Jackson was interviewed by Nuvo News about his childhood and how it influenced his writing.
  • Culturess called Ava Reid’s new book a “dark, emotional and important gothic fantasy.”
  • Maggie Giles’ alumni outlet Western News featured her and her book Twisted.
  • Edward C. Green wrote an article for Spiritual Media Blog about living a life of low self-confidence.
  • GirlTalkHQ featured this article from Alison Levy about how her real-life experiences influenced her new book.
  • Chrissy Holm and her book Finding Sunlight were featured by Tagg Magazine.
  • BookLife says Wen Peetes is “transparent and fully vulnerable” in this review for Inner Child Healing.
  • S. H. Cotugno discusses ways that monsters and mad scientists can be empowering characters in this article for Writer’s Digest.
  • Marschall Runge wrote a piece for Real Clear Health on hackers attacking health care.
  • NBC Washington interviewed Kathryn K. Abdul-Baki about her book Dancing Into the Light.
  • Suzette Mullen talks about her new book in this feature for Out Front Magazine.
  • Mexico News Daily spotlighted Ann Marie Jackson and her book The Broken Hummingbird.
  • Sophia Kouidou-Giles was featured in the National Herald on how her latest book highlights the sorceress Circe.
  • Writer’s Digest ran this piece from author David Scidmore about using physics to explain characters and world-building.

Want to stay up to date on what Books Forward authors are doing? Follow us on Facebook, X, Instagram, TikTok and Threads!

5 Pre-Order Campaign Tips Authors Should Utilize

Looking to create a successful pre-order campaign for your next book? The Books Forward team has you covered. Here are our tips for encouraging pre-orders: 

Update your sales pages on all platforms

Ensure that your upcoming release (and any previous books!) have up-to-date, engaging copy on Amazon and all other sales channels. After all, if you’re going to be directing buyers to these sites, you should make sure that everything is in good shape! Here are our tips for making your sales pages pop.

Offer a pre-order discount 

An easy way to encourage pre-orders is to drop the price for a limited time leading up to the release. Everyone loves a sale! Plus, you can discount your backlist books during this time as well for an extra boost. If you’re writing a series, consider a deep discount for the first book(s) in the series as a way to entice new readers.

Offer swag items and other exclusives

If you’ve never entered into a swag-based pre-order campaign, it’s simple:

  1. Author offers exclusive swag to fans who pre-order.
  2. Reader DMs their receipt of purchase along with their email and/or physical address. 
  3. Author sends out swag items until they run out.

Here are some examples from a recent campaign:

If you’re hesitant to run a swag-based campaign because of how costly it can be, you’re not alone. While swag (especially custom products) can be pricey, there are some ways to cut costs without sacrificing quality. For example, many authors offer digital swag like downloadable prints or excerpts from the book.

That said, eye-catching physical swag still tends to have the best effect, especially for sci-fi/fantasy, young adult, and romance authors. These genres allow you to be especially colorful and creative with your swag!

Update your social media pages

Make sure to update all your headers with the upcoming release date. Try using pinned tweets and IG images to ensure the latest pre-order news stays at the top of your feed!

Lean on your networks: your email list, author friends, and street team

All authors have networks of supporters–hopefully you’ve figured out who your “people” are! 

If you have an email list, you’ll want to schedule an e-blast encouraging your subscribers to pre-order. We’d recommend offering them a swag item or discount not offered elsewhere to thank them for being loyal supporters!

Consider any authors you may be connected with who are releasing new books at roughly the same time as you. Offer to support each other by exchanging social media or newsletter promo posts!

You may also consider engaging a street team to help with your pre-order campaign. Ideally, this team of dedicated fans will promote your book on their social media pages in exchange for special rewards and exclusive opportunities.

Bonus: keep your social media active and fun

Throughout your pre-order campaign, you’ll want to stay active on social media, posting engaging content to keep your followers interested in the upcoming release, such as a cover reveal or a behind-the-scenes video about the making of the book. It’s important to share content that isn’t directly sales focused every now and then, so your followers don’t feel bogged down with posts to “buy, buy, buy!”

We hope these tips will lead to more pre-orders for your titles, but as our team likes to say, publicity is a marathon, not a sprint. Remember, these things take time!

Wondering what other authors think of pre-order campaigns? Check out Books Forward President Marrisa DeCuir’s article for The Writer, with input from bestselling authors like Joan He.

Books Forward Authors in the Media: October 2023

What can we say, Books Forward authors are always going, going, going! We’re excited to feature some of our authors and their recent media wins.

  • Heather Dixon wrote a guest post for In Reference to Murder.
  • BookLife called Kathryn K. Abdul-baki’s new book a “richly described memoir of a mid-century Arab-American childhood in the Middle East.”
  • Liz Kinchen chatted with Hippocampus Magazine about her new book “Light in Bandaged Places.”
  • My SA featured local author Rudy Ruiz.
  • Audrey Gale hopped on the Murder, Mystery & Mayhem Laced with Morality podcast for an interview.
  • Thushanthi Ponweera’s new book was reviewed by Bookworm for Kids.
  • Kveller featured author Bridget Hodder and her new book “The Promise” in this recent article.
  • Kosoko Jackson’s newest book made this Book Riot list of 9 YA Novels from the Horror Renaissance You Need to Read.
  • Indie Crime Scene interviewed author Maggie Giles about her recent release “Twisted.”
  • KSQD’s The Dream Journal hosted an interview with Roberta Kuriloff.
  • Author T.C. Morrison wrote about writing legal satire in this piece for Robot Butt.
  • Citywide Blackout interviewed Lyn Squire about his new book.
  • Rob Long and Andrew Dolberg were featured in Punxsutawney Spirit for their book “The Great Weather Diviner.”
  • Sanctuary Magazine featured an excerpt from Suzanne Marriott’s book “Watching for Dragonflies.”
  • American University alum Sid Balman Jr. was featured in this piece from The Eagle.
  • Ava Reid and Kosko Jackson made this TOR reading list of Most Anticipated Young Adult SFF/H for September & October 2023.
  • Cartoon Brew interviewed S.H. Cotugno about their new book “The Glass Scientists.”
  • Leisl Kaberry describes how she started her writing journey in this article for Book Club Babble.
  • BookLife named Lynn Slaughter’s “Missed Cue” an editor’s pick in this review.

Want to stay up to date on what Books Forward authors are doing? Follow us on Facebook, X, Instagram, TikTok and Threads!

All About Agents: What You Need to Know as an Indie Author

There’s a wonderful history of indie authors creating a great platform, getting noticed by traditional publishers and landing a publishing deal. 

The best tactic is to query an agent on the strength of your work and current accolades. It’s very rare to go directly to a publisher these days as they mostly work with agents. After you query an agent and secure their services, they will approach prospective publishers for you.

Finding an agent can be a long and tedious process, as they each have their own submission requirements and it can be months before you hear back from each with answers. 

With this in mind, here are some of our favorite resources for finding an agent:

  • Poets & Writers has a great amount of information on agents. They have a Literary Agents Database and a helpful Agent Advice column.
  • Publishers Lunch: We recommend looking over what deals have been made for mid-list authors each day. You don’t want a blockbuster agent because they’re already set financially. Info includes: genre, author, synopsis, agent and which publisher the work sold to. You can sign up for the free daily newsletter that will give you most of this info, or you sign up for a $25/month newsletter which has all of the details.
  • QueryTracker: This free database hosts plenty of agent data. Because the info can be outdated, it’s best to use this tool to create a list of agents who represent your genre, then crosscheck with each agent’s website to confirm who they represent and which publishers they work with.
  • Guide to Literary Agents An old standby, written by Robert Lee Brewer.
  • AAR – Association of Author’s Representatives: Here’s a list of member agents, with varying amounts of information about them.
  • Children’s authors can view the Rights Reports on PW. These reports cite which agents facilitated the deal for upcoming kids books.
  • Women Writers, Women’s Books also has an Agents Corner column where authors can share their agent success stories and offer advice.
  • Writer’s Digest Guide to Literary Agents Blog: They post notices about agents and agencies. There’s not a tremendous amount of information here, but it’s worth keeping an eye out for news.
  • We also recommend finding books that are comparable to yours in genre and audience, and seeing who the author’s agent is. These agents may be a good fit for you, so we recommend keeping a list and checking their websites, querying where it makes sense to do so.
  • Manuscript Wishlist is a helpful tool designed to help agents share information about the types of books they are looking for. Scan through to see if your manuscript is on anyone’s wishlist!

I know it feels like the possibilities are endless, and it’s not unusual for an author to query upwards of 100 agents. Casting a wide net will help make sure you’re paired with the right agent for your book.

Want to get the inside scoop on what an agent really thinks? Check out our interview with Natalie Lakosil here:

So you got a book review — now what?

Ah, the coveted book review. Every author wants them, and everyone in the industry talks about how important they are.

But have you ever stopped to think about why that might be and how exactly you can use a review to benefit your book and author brand?

First thing’s first, let’s talk about ways you can secure book reviews:

  • Be sure you are ready to start soliciting reviews. ARCs are perfectly fine, but create these after the copy editing and proofread process.
  • Consider your goal of why you want reviews and how you plan to utilize them, and this will help you decide between consumer and professional reviews (a mix of reader buzz and premiere publications is best!)
  • If you’re a new publisher, start a blurb program with authors you have published. If you’re an author, reach out personally to fellow authors on similar publishing journeys who write in your genre.
  • Reach out to authors of comparable books, as well as the reviewers, influencers and media outlets that have covered them.
  • Submit the book for free and/or paid review programs with industry publications (Foreword, BookLife, BookPage, Kirkus, School Library Journal, etc.)
  • Consider other options with media if the book is not accepted for review (reading list, excerpt, guest article from the author, etc.)
  • List the book on NetGalley and Edelweiss.
  • Coordinate a Goodreads giveaway, as well as a giveaway with LibraryThing.
  • Think outside the box: Does the author have any bookseller or librarian supporters who may provide a blurb?
  • Pull reader reviews from retail listings.
  • Follow submission guidelines closely: Be mindful of deadlines, editorial calendars and specific information requested – whether for a trade publication or book blogger.

Now that you’ve built up reviews, blurbs and other accolades, what in the world do you do with them? There are plenty of ways you can maximize the impact of your reviews:

  • Add the most compelling review quotes and premiere endorsements to the book’s front and/or back cover, and use additional quotes on an inside praise page.
  • Also highlight the catchiest and most compelling quotes at the start of the book description on online retail pages, as well as others in the Editorial Reviews section on Amazon and metadata with Ingram to help populate things like the Overview section on Barnes & Noble.
  • Add reviews to the press kit and any other marketing materials.
  • Mention the earliest reviews and blurbs garnered when reaching out to secure other potential reviews.
  • Include quotes on NetGalley and Edelweiss listings.
  • Have the author add reviews and other media coverage to their author website.
  • Use them in advertising copy.

These effective book marketing tactics will help you take your book to the next level!

How the Black Lives Matter Movement and the Pandemic Transformed Bookselling

State of the Industry Blog Series:
How the Black Lives Matter Movement and the Pandemic Transformed Bookselling

In our new “State of the Industry” blog series, we’re breaking down how the pandemic has transformed the publishing industry. By understanding how the industry has rapidly transformed in 2020 and 2021, writers and authors will be better prepared to navigate the new state of the industry in 2022.

Last month, we explored how the pandemic impacted indie bookstores, and whether or not “saved” indies.

Now it’s time for a new question: How did the Black Lives Matter movement impact indie bookstores? And how are indies doing today?

Answer: BLM boosted indie bookstore sales in a surprising way. Bookstores fared better than expected during the pandemic, but they are still struggling.

The murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 sparked outrage against racially motivated police violence, spawning mass protests and a highly visible reckoning with racism that swept America, and the globe. The “Black Lives Matter” movement (also known as “BLM”) inspired active discussion about race, racism, anti-racism, white privilege, and allyship that reverberated from the streets to The White House to the world — and was felt clearly among publishers and booksellers.

In June 2020, The New York Times reported that “As Americans grapple with the country’s history of racism, many of them have turned to books, propelling titles like “How to Be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi and “So You Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo to the best-seller lists.”

The article also reported that some bookstores, especially Black-owned stores like Semicolon Bookstore in Chicago, saw a “huge financial boost,” with sales rising from 3,000 books per week to 50,000 books per week. Store owner Danni Mullen estimated that at least half of her store’s income resulted from “the 10 or so race-related books dominating best-seller lists.”

By May of 2021, the general consensus was that indie bookstores had not suffered as much as had originally been projected at the beginning of the pandemic.

Booksellers experienced a surprisingly strong holiday season in December 2020 that, coupled with other unexpected boosts like the sales resulting from the BLM movement, helped keep many stores open at the start of 2021. Booksellers reported a huge boost in online sales in 2020 and 2021, compared to previous years. Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans enabled some store owners to meet their payrolls. directed more than $14 million to indies in revenue as of May 2021.

There was also arguably more awareness of and support for “supporting local” businesses like indie bookstores than ever, due to the economic pressures of the pandemic.

However, indie stores were (and are) still struggling. Bookstore sales fell 30 percent overall in 2020 according to the US Census Bureau. While BLM gave a huge financial boost to some stores, those bestselling titles did not dominate sales in the same way as time went on.

Stores were operating on the same limited budgets, but were combatting higher costs that were unimaginable two years ago: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), hazard pay, postage, extra cleaning and sanitizing products, etc. Bookstore staff had to work hard to ship books and reorganize/sanitize stores. With reduced income and population capacity in-store, these challenges demanded more of the remaining staff.

As of October 2020, in-store foot traffic was still way down, and it was hurting revenue. Some stores (especially those in NYC) were hit hard by the fact that a substantial portion of their customer base were tourists, who were no longer visiting in the same capacity.

As of May 2021, profits were still down for indie stores, according to the Associated Press. In-store events had not returned to pre-pandemic levels. And despite the influence of, Amazon still commands a hefty share of the book market.

Without a doubt, the pandemic transformed bookselling in a variety of ways: Booksellers, authors, and customers got a crash course in how to approach sales and events virtually; proved to be a noteworthy competitor for Amazon; and the Black Lives Matter movement helped open publishers’ eyes to the sales potential of their backlists.

While some bookstores will return to some semblance of pre-pandandemic “business as usual,” the events of 2020 and 2021 have certainly changed how booksellers, authors, and readers understand and approach bookselling as a whole.

And it’s not just the publishers and booksellers who have changed — readers themselves, and their reading habits, have transformed as well.

We’ll explore this in more detail in our next blog: How the Pandemic Transformed Readers and Consumer Habits.