What is a street team and how should I use it?

As an author, have you ever thought about just how great it would be if you had a network of friends you knew would be dedicated to helping you promote your book? Sound like a fantasy?

Enter the street team.

A street team is a group of readers that help you promote your book, usually the most loyal fans of your previous books, or books in similar genres.

The relationship built between author and team members is beneficial for both parties. Team members will have access to their favorite author (you!) as well as other exclusive content. And as an author, you’ll have a team dedicated to promoting your upcoming book by posting and talking about it to their network of followers and friends — building up buzz ahead of your book’s launch!

How to recruit team members

The first step after deciding to compose a street team is, of course, recruiting members. If this is your first time getting a team together, try and shoot for between 20-50 members initially. More is great! But keep in mind you’ll have to keep track of if everyone is doing their part and promoting on their end. Exclusivity also helps make everyone on the team feel more special as well. A fun way to cement that exclusivity: Consider coming up with a creative team name!

And remember, team members need to be active online. There will be opportunities to promote your book in person — like talking with a bookseller or book club — but word-of-mouth will be most effective online and on social media.

Where to find members

  • Reach out to friends and family who would be a good fit
  • Check in with any beta readers you may already have
  • Go through previous relationships with book bloggers and people who have previously reviewed your book
  • If you’re promoting the next book in a series or a book similar to a previous work, reach out to people who have positively reviewed your book on Goodreads, NetGalley, Edelweiss, etc.
  • Announce in your mailing list, newsletter or on social media that you’re looking for team members

Have people fill out a Google Form so you can go through and pick who would be best for the team, or create a form/page on your website where they can enter info. Ask them things like what social media accounts they have, other books they’ve read in your book’s genre, any specific ideas for how they’d like to see your book promoted, etc. Consider keeping a tab on your website where people can request to join and you can consider building up your team for future books.

How to communicate with your team

So how do you keep track of communication with members once you’ve assembled your team? You’ll need to have an online space where all members can have access. Consider creating a private page on your website that only team members can access with a password. Or an easy option: Create a private Facebook page with just you and members — just make sure everyone in your team has a Facebook account!

Wherever you decide to keep team communication, you should make it a goal to post here regularly as well (we know, basically another social media platform!!). But interaction is important: It helps team members get to know you and vice versa. And it builds a great relationship with your team for future releases.

Notes on communication

  • Try and keep content focused around you and your book. After all, the goal of your street team is to promote your work!
  • Organize things like author interviews/takeovers with other authors to cross-promote and provide new content for your team members.
  • Make sure your team has access to any kind of promotional materials, both digital and physical. This could be bookmarks they can pass out to friends or flyers, stickers, buttons, etc. that they can drop off at local bookstores and libraries.
  • And again, exclusivity is important! When making announcements, make sure team members are one of the first — if not the first — group you reach out to and alert of something new. For instance, if you’re planning a cover reveal, your team should be able to see the cover before the general public.
  • You can also consider hosting a special launch event/party with just team members to celebrate all their hard work leading up to your book’s launch!

How to incentivize team members

It’s important to keep your team active and engaged during the book promotion process. The easiest way to do that is to create a challenge system where members must complete a task to receive a special reward, i.e.: After they post about the book on all their social media accounts, they’ll get a sneak peek of a future book excerpt. For bigger challenges/rewards, you can have drawings for prizes, i.e.: If someone gets a book club to read your book, they can be entered for a video chat session with you.

Potential rewards for your system

  • First access to any advance reader copies
  • Early access to extra written content like short stories, prequels,
  • Signed copies of books
  • If they aren’t already, consider allowing them to be beta readers for future novels
  • Sneak peeks at cover and title reveals, excerpts from future books etc.
  • Early and/or exclusive access to content on your author website or blog
  • Bonus book-related content like printable artworks, maps, bookmarks etc.
  • A video chat session with you (or potentially with an author friend as well if you’re working on cross-promoting!)
  • Promotion of your team members’ blogs and social media accounts on your own channels
  • A shoutout in the acknowledgements section of subsequent books

Potential challenges for members

  • Have them leave reviews of your book(s) on Amazon, Goodreads, Bookbub, other bookseller sites, their own personal blogs, etc.
  • Posting Instagram photos (if you don’t already have a hashtag around your book/series, now would be a good time to think of one!)
  • If they have a blog, hosting you for an interview or guest post.
  • Sharing others’ reviews and social media posts about you and your books
  • Sharing your blog posts and reposting posts from your social media accounts
  • Posting shoutouts of you and your book on their own social media channels
  • Talking about and recommending your book(s) to their family members, friends, etc.
  • Requesting your book(s) at their local libraries and suggesting them to any book clubs

There’s no set limit on how often you dish out challenges and rewards, but weekly challenges are a good goal to shoot for. You want challenges to be often enough to keep members active and engaged, but you don’t want to give them too many challenges that they are overwhelmed. Being a team member should be fun — not a chore!

Organize your system in the beginning of your book promotion period so that as the weeks go on, all you have to do is keep track of if team members are completing the challenges. And don’t forget to let everyone know that the rewards are not the main purpose of the team: They’re a way of thanking team members. The goal is to get the word out about you and your book to new readers!

 

Why it’s important to take a great author headshot

When releasing a book, there are a lot of moving pieces. Of course writing the book and marketing the book takes precedence, but a lot of smaller steps can be overlooked and may have a huge impact!

First impressions are everything. Especially in a digital world – our eyes naturally gravitate towards book covers, websites, social media platforms and the quality each of those possess. We often refer to the “restaurant” metaphor: If you have two restaurants side by side, one is empty, run down, dark lighting, unclear of what their menu will look like versus a full restaurant, well lit, bustling and beautiful restaurant – which one are you most likely to go into? Consider this when building your profile. Is your website warm and welcoming? Does it look like a real person or just advertisements? This way of thinking narrows right down to your author headshot. Did you scroll through the dark depths of your photo roll and pick a picture from 10 years ago? Is it blurry? Is your pet in it? These are all things you want to avoid when settling on an author headshot.

Photography can be expensive, but if you can get professional photos done, we highly recommend including this in your marketing budget. You can hire locally for headshots and press shots, and these photos will work for radio, newspaper, your press release and beyond. Having these photos can go a long way and will keep your brand looking professional.

If you are on a tight budget, there are options. You can hire a college student, somebody who is looking for experience in photography – perhaps they need for their final project and will take your headshots at no or low cost. Another option is asking a family member or friend to help you take photos. Most phones these days come with high quality cameras.

All you need is good lighting (natural lightning works best, or invest in a ring light – these are also great for Zoom interviews!) a plain background and the editing tool in your phone. Refrain from using filtered apps for your headshot, as these can really tamper with the quality of the image. Focus on slightly and subtly brightening and adding a little bit of contrast. And take multiple shots – you’ll want options to choose from! Don’t be shy to get the best author headshots you can to represent your book.

All in all, remember to be current and stay relevant. You are an author, and that needs to be clear and concise when people see your headshot on the back of your book and the front of your social media platforms. This is your business. It may be a small part of the bigger picture, but it’s an important one that will help sell your book.

What are bookplates, and do readers and authors use them?

What are bookplates and how can I use them?

 

Have you ever loaned someone a well-loved copy of your favorite book, only to never lay eyes on that book ever again? Have you decided that generosity is futile because no one understands the deep personal attachment you have with your books? Yeah, me too.

I still cringe when I think about loaning a friend my copy of “The Fault in Our Stars” in middle school. As I handed over the book, she asked me, Can I use highlighter in this? The audacity.

Well, bookplates were invented to solve this problem by documenting the personal relationship you have with your book and ensuring that everyone knows this book belongs to you. Are bookplates passive aggressive? Maybe, depending on who you ask.

But they can also be a fun way for an author to personalize their book for readers, even during a pandemic, and can create a unique experience that will leave them eagerly awaiting your next release.

A Brief History

A bookplate, sometimes called an ex libris plate, is a label that is affixed inside a book. Traditionally, bookplates were used to indicate ownership, and historians have found evidence of bookplates being used in Ancient Egypt and Europe during the Middle Ages. Prior to the advent of the printing press in the 15th-century, books were rare and extremely valuable, so it was important to mark ownership in case a book was lost or stolen–but whether or not a bookplate actually resulted in more books being returned to their owner is unknown.

It’s safe to say that early iterations of the bookplate were more practical than ornamental. Later on, however, these inscriptions developed into elaborate artistic expressions, as wealthy patrons commissioned designs from famous contemporary artists. Take a look at this bookplate designed by Albrecht Dürer (circa the late 15th or early 16th century) from the Metropolitan Museum of Art: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/387572

Since bookplates were primarily used to reflect ownership, they often included a family crest or coat of arms. Artists sometimes inscribed these by hand or made a woodcut or engraving to transfer their designs, as Dürer is known for.

Nowadays, bookplates are usually affixed to the inside cover or front matter using a sticker or a stamp. Bookplates have also taken on a variety of uses. They are still widely used to indicate ownership, but they can also be used to display an author’s signature or otherwise personalize a book.

An Author’s Signature

Adding a signature to a book helps to bridge the gap between the author and the reader. The personal connections made during a book event or book signing can turn even a casual reader into a lifelong fan of an author’s work.

Although the current pandemic has halted many in-person gatherings, book signings have thankfully continued on through the use of bookplates!

Bookplates are a safe way for authors to send their signature to anyone, from booksellers to fans, while abiding by social distancing measures. If you can’t meet someone in person to sign their book, sending a signed bookplate their way is a great alternative.

An author might also choose to sign bookplates for efficiency if they are signing a number of books all at once for a bookstore, book club, or other large event.

Here are some examples of authors using bookplates in recent months (be sure to follow each of these authors on Twitter for more updates!)

Sara Sligar: https://twitter.com/saraxsligar/status/1264245770582028289

Maggie Stiefvater: https://twitter.com/mstiefvater/status/1361431121486114819

Adam Silvera: https://twitter.com/AdamSilvera/status/1361392998496440322

Publicity Plan

At this point, you may be wondering, how can bookplates become a part of my publicity plan? When do I use them and who should I send them to?

Bookplates are especially useful when paired with virtual events. You can offer to send signed bookplates to a bookstore in advance of an event, ensuring that each attendee has access to a signed copy.

Not only does this benefit attendees who now have access to personalized books, but this also helps build a good relationship with your local bookseller. Bookplates can be used as an incentive to encourage attendees to buy their books from their local store instead of from Amazon, in the spirit of a shop-local campaign!

You can also offer to send signed bookplates as a free gift for fans who pre-order a copy of the book. Ask fans to DM or email their receipt to you, and then mail them a bookplate with a personal note thanking them for their support.

Additionally, bookplates can be used as an exclusive perk for a giveaway. A bookplate giveaway can be held in conjunction with a virtual event or on social media, just for fun!

Get Creative!

Although traditionally bookplates have been used in a limited number of ways, the possibilities are truly endless. There are plenty of unexpected ways to personalize books for readers, and to make your book stand out from the crowd.

Some authors, like David Sedaris, add drawings or sketches to accompany their signature. These drawings often relate to a specific meaning within the book, operating like an inside joke or a teaser for what’s to come.

Another author recently took this idea and turned it up a few notches. Will Maclean, author of “The Apparition Phase” created a unique and memorable publicity campaign by personalizing copies of his book in a way no one has seen before.

Maclean signed 1000 copies of his book, but made things a bit more interesting by “hiding” a 1000-word short story within these copies. Each book contained one word from the story, as well as a number (ranging from 1 to 1000) indicating its position within the story. When all 1000 words are arranged in the correct order, the short story will be revealed.

This tactic turned readers into eager detectives, hoping to string all the words together. Fans flocked to Twitter, sharing each word that was included within their signed copy and keeping track of progress. 

https://twitter.com/lovedreadinthis/status/1331611138711285760

At the end of the day, bookplates are all about showing readers and booksellers that you care. They help to create a heartfelt memory for the reader which will have them reluctant to loan their copy of your book out to anyone – even their closest friends!

 

What are reader newsletters and how can they help me?

Authors are always trying to find new ways to reach readers and get their book to as many people as possible. There are a lot of ways to achieve this, but one of the more successful strategies is by submitting for reader newsletters.

So, what are reader newsletters?

Reader newsletters are essentially tools for book promotion. They are free to readers, and publishers or authors pay to have their book included. A newsletter is sent out to subscribers advertising books that are on sale, or even free, for a limited time.

The cost to have your book included varies based on the newsletter but it can range from around ten dollars to hundreds of dollars. This usually has to do with the audience you are reaching. 

These newsletters are all about offering bargains for their subscribers, which means that to run a book promotion through them, you usually drop your e-book price between $0-$3.99 for 3-5 days. This is what draws readers in to buying your book. 

It is a great way to gain exposure and get some sales. Often these promotions increase your standing in Amazon rankings, which also gets your book seen by more people. 

Many newsletters allow you to target a specific genre which means that the people seeing your book in the newsletter are the type of person who is most likely to buy your book.

It is important, however, to try and pick newsletters that often see good results. You ideally want to generate at least enough sales to pay for the promotion.

So, what are some of the best ones?

We submit for a full range of newsletters and the best ones do depend on genre and other factors, but here are some of my top recommendations.

  1. Bookbub: This always gets great results, but it is pretty pricey (can cost thousands of dollars), and they only accept 10-15% of the books that are submitted. If you are selected, it is a great opportunity and usually is one that recoups the money spent on the promotion itself. Just be aware that you may have to submit multiple times before you are selected.
  2. Bargain Booksy: This ranges from $10-$95 depending on the genre and is easy to submit for.
  3. Fussy Librarian: Easy to submit for, ranges from $10-$30 depending on genre.
  4. Book Lemur: I don’t just love it for the fun name, but it is a plus. This newsletter costs anywhere from $25-$55 depending on price drop price point and genre. They are easy to submit for and are very communicative if there is ever a problem.
  5. Just Kindle: This is a great one that is set at $43. There is no waiting around to get approved for this one. Everything is quick, and your newsletter ad is scheduled before you leave the website.

There are many newsletters out there and they all have benefits!

So, what do you need in order to submit for them?

Each website is a little different in the information needed to book an ad. Here are some of the things that are often required:

  • Title of the book and author name
  • Email
  • Original price point and discounted price during the dates selected
  • ASIN
  • Book cover image
  • Short description of book (Pay attention to character count required on each site)
  • Author bio
  • Number of ratings/star rating
  • Dates of price drop
  • Date you want the ad to run

Some newsletters require all of that information while others only want a subset. It is important to have these things on hand so that the submission process can be quick.

So, is it worth it?

Reader newsletters can be extremely beneficial in getting your book on the radar of a new set of people. Having these ads go out to people who love your genre can boost sales and your ranking on Amazon. As an author, exposure is likely one of your top priorities. Running these ads and these discounts is a perfect way to catch the reader’s eye. This is a low time commitment way to see maximum results.

 

How to Connect with Readers Who Have Reviewed Your Book Online

Seeing early positive reader reviews on Goodreads and Amazon can feel thrilling and gratifying. Finally, after all your hard work, real people are reading your book, and they felt invested enough to take the time to review it online!

But should you “do” anything after receiving a positive reader review — and if so, what? And when?

Reader reviews can be more than just validation that you wrote an engaging book; they also provide an opportunity to connect with people who have already shown investment in your work, which can also be a valuable tool for growing your author platform. Here’s how you can better connect with reviewers, and keep growing their investment in and engagement with you — and your future books!

Respond on Goodreads, not Amazon.
Goodreads allows authors and other users to respond to reviews and questions; Amazon does not. Goodreads is the better platform for responding to reader feedback anyway, because it’s a social media platform targeted specifically for readers who want to engage with books and authors!

Thank readers for their feedback.
Have you ever had the thrilling sensation of reviewing, tweeting about, or otherwise making social media commentary on the work of someone you admire, and then the person in question actually responds? It can be a wonderful, personalized moment that can make you feel “special” and “seen.” By thanking your readers for their positive and/or thoughtful reviews, you’re showing that you’re engaged with them, and this incentivizes them to continue to engage with you.

Answer readers’ questions.
If a reader asks a question about your book, characters, plot, etc. on Goodreads (or other social media platform), feel free to answer them (providing that it’s something you’d like to answer, and isn’t too personal and doesn’t give away spoilers)! This continues to build the relationship between you and your readers. We love seeing readers actively engaged with their audiences, and creating communities around their work!

Don’t feed the trolls.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that not everyone is going to like your book. Some may go so far as to leave a negative review or comment. Try not to take this personally. People are entitled to their own opinions. Plus, some readers assume that authors don’t read the reviews — which of course we know couldn’t be further from the truth!

If the reviewer expresses not liking your book, you can choose to ignore the comment, or you can simply and politely thank them for their feedback (and perhaps recommend another book of yours that they may enjoy more). If a reader points out an obvious plot hole or error, you can respond in a good natured way and thank them for catching it (and perhaps even lightheartedly joke that they should go into editing!).

However, if a reader is intensely critical of you or your work, or tries to argue with you in the comments, do not engage. Avoid being drawn into online arguments of any kind by always being respectful, polite, and knowing when to step away from the computer. It’s not your job to “win” anyone over!

Tell readers how they can engage with you further.
When you reply, let readers know that they can stay connected with you on social media (include your handles), get the latest news about giveaways and exclusives from your newsletter (include a link), and tell them more about your other books by linking to your website. (Note, it is overwhelming to include ALL of these things in each message, but mentioning 1-2 of these things can go a long way!). If a reader is asking a lot of questions, encourage them to follow you on socials so they can stay updated. Never be pushy or salesy; but don’t be afraid to ask people to follow you or check out your other work. These readers have demonstrated that they’re invested in you, so give them opportunities to connect with you further, and (when appropriate) ask for their support!

Readers and reviewers want to feel like they have a relationship with you, and cultivating those relationships can make a lasting impact on your current and future releases.

 

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.

 

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.

To Promote or Not to Promote: The Pros and Cons of Facebook Advertising

Authors are always doing what they can to get their books in front of more people. But the real goal should be to get your book seen by the most people in your target audience. Number of eyes doesn’t mean anything if they are not likely to turn into sales.

That’s where targeted Facebook ads come into play. Advertising on social media is an extremely effective strategy for promoting your book or building up your social media accounts. As always with promotion strategies, there are pros and cons to Facebook advertising.

The Pros

  1. Targeting a Specific Audience: Blanket advertising is not always the best strategy when trying to get more people to purchase your book. You want there to be a larger click through rate on your ad, which is more prone to happen if the audience seeing the ad is interested. By using the data on Facebook, you can target people based on their interests, gender, age, and location. You can always change these parameters as well, depending on how well an ad is performing.
  2. Number of Users: You can reach so many people on Facebook. There are currently 2.7 billion users on the platform, so even with targeting you are reaching a wider audience than you would on other platforms.
  3. Different Ad Options: There are multiple types of ads that you can run depending on your goal. The ads fall under three different categories: awareness, consideration, and conversion. You can choose what you’re wanting to accomplish (more traffic to a website, more page likes, more sales, more brand awareness, etc.) and Facebook will run an ad tailored to that goal.
  4. Comparison Opportunities: Facebook allows you to run multiple ads at a time, which allows you to monitor which ads are performing better than others. They allow you to set up an ad with an A/B Test which means the same ad runs with two different ad sets (different target demographics/psychographics) so you can see which audience is responding more. This allows an efficient way to monitor who you should be targeting and can save you money by only spending money on the ad that is giving you the most engagement.
  5. Easy to Change: Facebook ads are also easy to tweak if needed. You can go in and change the target audience at any time. You aren’t locked in to the ad set you originally create. Having the ability to change demographics as well as the image/copy at any time is helpful in making sure you are getting the best results possible.

The Cons

  1. Costs: While you can set up a Facebook ad with any size budget, the bigger the budget the better an ad will perform. This doesn’t mean that your $5/day ad won’t generate more engagement, but if you want substantial numbers, it could become expensive. Also, if your targeting is off, it can be a lot of cost for not enough return.
  2. Limitations to Facebook: While you are reaching a wide amount of people, it is only Facebook users that you are reaching and a lot of people who have accounts have started to move on to other, more progressive social platforms. This fact could lead to lower numbers of engagement on your ads. But again, a lower percentage of 2.7 billion, is still a pretty large number.
  3. Diminished Organic Views: Only a small percentage of your customers will stumble onto your post organically since the Facebook algorithm limits brands visibility, so to reach more people you may have to boost your posts.

Marketing your book can definitely be overwhelming, and understanding your options is key. It is important to take all of these things into consideration before creating an ad, however the pros usually outweigh the cons when it comes to advertising your book or your brand as an author on Facebook.

How to make the most of the 2020 SIBA/NAIBA Trade Show

Books Forward is so excited for the SIBA/NAIBA Trade Show starting Sept. 21 — check out our exhibitor booth here: https://newvoicesnewrooms.org/books-forward/! This year’s trade show is going to look a little different from previous years: for the first time ever, SIBA and NAIBA have partnered up to host a virtual, five-day event. We can’t wait to join our favorite indie booksellers, publishers, and authors online for this one-of-a-kind experience — and we also know that new opportunities can create questions for our authors. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the trade show to help authors navigate this year’s especially unique event with ease!

What does the SIBA/NAIBA Trade Show look like?
Held Sept. 21-25, the trade show will consist of a series of Zoom events taking place across four different channels. It’s a joint event hosted between SIBA (the Southern Independent Booksellers Association) and NAIBA (the New Atlantic Booksellers Association), united under the name New Voices New Rooms. Booksellers will be eyeing new and upcoming book releases!

What does this year’s schedule look like?
You can find the trade show schedule here: https://newvoicesnewrooms.org/schedule/. It’s divided into four tracks: Education (panels, roundtables, and more for booksellers), Author Events, Publisher Events, and Networking. It’s interactive and searchable; you can add all events, or just individual events, to your personal calendar; you can subscribe to it; and you can easily share it on social media. You’ll also find all of the participating publishers tagged — just click on the publisher’s name to see all of the events that publisher is participating in.

This schedule is pretty extensive! How will I know what’s happening each day?
Not only is the schedule broken up by day, but the New Voices New Rooms blog will also have a rundown of each day’s events, and is a great hub for finding out info about the show: https://newvoicesnewrooms.org/nvnr-news/. Their newsletter will also recap daily sessions and events, as will the SIBA and NAIBA newsletters, respectively.

How many people can attend the online trade show?
There is no attendance cap; there are more than 500 booksellers and other industry attendees registered right now.

Can I still arrange to be featured in an author event?
The Author Events schedule is full, but there are still some advertising options available to reach attendees via the email newsletter or trade show website, which is sure to have high traffic during that week! Find more info here: https://newvoicesnewrooms.org/sponsors/.

Do I have to register?
Anyone who is participating in the trade show (including exhibitors) or who wants to attend must register; you can do so here: https://newvoicesnewrooms.org/registration/. Registering gets you onto the list of people allowed into the Zoom rooms/events.

If my publisher/editor/representative got me scheduled to participate in a trade show author event, do I still have to register?
Anyone who is attending or participating in the trade show must be registered for the event; this is how you get on to the list of Zoom room attendees. However, it’s possible that SIBA/NAIBA registered you on behalf of your publisher/editor/representative; it’s best to check with your participating organization to make sure.

I am, or my publisher/representative is, participating in the trade show. How will ARCs/galleys/review copies of my book be available?
If an author is featured at an event, New Voices New Rooms will send a Google form to all session participants at the end of the event to incentivize people to sign up for copies; publishers will then receive a list with all the book requests. Exhibitors can also feature galley request forms on their pages in the Virtual Exhibitor Hall!

What is the Virtual Exhibitor Hall?
While we may miss the crowded and bustling exhibitor halls of previous years, New Voices New Rooms has created a really excellent Virtual Hall for Exhibitors, which you can peruse here: https://newvoicesnewrooms.org/virtual-exhibit-hall/. When you hover your cursor over each logo, the digital placard flips over to reveal a sentence or two about that exhibitor. Click on the logo to “enter” the exhibitor’s virtual booth, where you can learn more about their offerings and services, and even enter an online raffle! There’s also a searchable directory of exhibitors in the dropdown menu between the sponsor logos and exhibitor logos.

How do I know which booksellers are in attendance?
New Voices New Rooms has created a pretty awesome searchable list of all registered booksellers who will be in attendance — check it out here! https://newvoicesnewrooms.org/booksellers/

Will I be tagged on social media?
New Voices New Rooms is creating graphics and videos that can be shared on social media by publishers and exhibitors; each piece of content will include a list of participating authors’ social media handles so they can be easily tagged online. This is perfect for promoting and sharing specific authors and events!