Tips and tricks for authors using BookBub

Whether you’re a new author or one who’s been around the block, the name BookBub has most likely come across your desk. “Well… what is it? Another website? Another login? Another password to remember?!” Oof, we know. There are a few… but don’t miss out on this one!

We here at Books Forward are big fans of BookBub and all the opportunities their services can provide. BookBub is one of the top tier bargain e-book newsletters, with one of the largest networks reaching millions of email subscribers everyday. Authors can advertise their discounted e-books and reach millions of readers who are willing to download cheaper books and try out new authors. In what BookBub calls their “Featured Deal” service, authors have seen their books hit #1 on Amazon. It also helps build numbers of reviews and rankings, and authors have seen downloads in the thousands.

Now despite all the amazing results and testimonials, BookBub isn’t necessarily your golden ticket to the bestseller lists, but can certainly help you build your readership! Here are a few of our tips to get started.

Create a profile: Having a presence on BookBub can help optimize your search engine results. Make sure to update your display picture, biography and even list some of your recommended reads. This is a great way to connect with your peers and to even see where you could advertise your book. (For example: if an author has a large amount of followers on BookBub and their readers would most likely vibe with your book, think about tapping into that network!) We recommend adding new books to your list, every other week or so.

BookBub Ads: BookBub allows you to target other authors on the platform (which is where the last tip can come in handy!) You can create ads by using the system’s templates or design your own. We recommend exploring your genre and targeting similar authors listed in that category.

Featured Deals: Featured deals are where you’ll get the most bang for your buck. But you do have to be patient! Featured Deals don’t happen right away and can take time and persistence. They can be pricey depending on the genre and the regions — if you get a deal within the U.S., expect to pay more. However, the payoff is worth it. Be considerate of the genre you are submitting in and don’t hesitate to try different genres and price points. Be sure to fill out the comment section with any accolades or awards the book has received! Once your feature deal is live, don’t be shy to advertise on other platforms — you can use this promotion to create some really great momentum.

Overall, the most important lesson to learn with BookBub (and book marketing in general!) is the more you put, in the more you’ll get back. If you decide to apply yourself to the BookBub platform, be sure to use it consistently — optimize your profile, try using ads and submit frequently to Featured Deals, and it will be worth the effort in the end! Every reader counts and BookBub is a great place to meet more.

What happens AFTER my book launches?

Authors jump through countless hoops leading up to their publication day. In fact, a massive part of publicity work is typically done before a book is even available for sale. Authors are encouraged to create a website, grow their social media following, send ARCs out for early reviews, set up pre-order campaigns, and coordinate a launch event, all before their book has hit shelves. So, when publication day finally arrives, many authors breathe a sigh of relief. You can kick back, relax, and celebrate all you’ve accomplished. As you should!

Then, after all the party hats are packed away, confusion — maybe even panic —sets in. No one told you how to continue supporting your book after publication day. What can you do to keep the momentum going?

Below are eight tips for what you can do after your book launch. And, if you are working with a professional publicity or marketing agency, they may be able to take some of these tasks off your plate. Ask them how they can support you post-launch!

Keep Posting on Social Media

  • Stay active! It’s important to keep up a consistent posting schedule so that your name stays on reader’s radars, especially when in-between book releases. If you’re worried about time-management, or feel as though you don’t have enough content ideas to fill out 3 posts per week, you can certainly post less frequently, as long as you stay consistent.
  • Share the positive reviews you’ve received. Remember to thank the bloggers and influencers who reviewed your book and posted about it on social media. This group is the backbone of book publicity, and most of the work they do is for free!
  • Host a post-pub day giveaway! Perhaps you have extra swag, bookplates, or signed copies sitting around? Time to clean up, and draw attention back to your new release.
  • Keep celebrating! Your book is in its infancy, and many good things are still to come. Did you hit number one in your category on Amazon? Has your book won a literary award? Will there be a limited-time sale? Is your publisher planning to release the book in new formats, such as paperback or audiobook? Keep sharing the good news!

Advance Your Skills on Your Social Accounts Website, and Newsletter

  • Branch out and learn new skills! The digital realm is complex and always evolving. Each year, there are brand new resources that authors can use to their advantage. Keep abreast of trends, and get inspired by how other authors are adapting and promoting their work online. Here are a few tools that are popular now:
  • Create a content calendar. This will allow you to schedule your social media posts in advance, saving you time and effort throughout the week.
  • Learn how to use Pinned Tweets on Twitter. A Pinned Tweet stays at the top of your page, so it should contain the most important information you’re trying to communicate — i.e. all the key information about your book and where/how to order a copy!
  • Learn how to use LinkTree and add it to your social media profiles. LinkTree helps you keep all your links in one place. You can add purchase links for your book to reduce the number of clicks it takes for a follower to buy your book. The fewer steps involved, the more likely it is that a reader will complete their purchase!
  • Create a TikTok account. TikTok hosts a vibrant community of readers — largely young adults — who are looking to connect over new books. If you are in the YA genre, this is definitely something you should explore!
  • Update your website and social media headers. After publication day, be sure to update your banners with language such as “on sale now” or “available everywhere!”
  • Set up an email newsletter for fans to subscribe to. You should incentivize sign-ups by giving away something for free. A sample of the book (a few chapters long) often works well.

Mobilize Your Personal Network

  • Ask friends, family, and fans to share reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.
  • Ask your network to request a copy of your book from their local library or indie bookstore. The higher the demand is for your book, the more likely it is that these professsionals will order copies in bulk.

Set Up Meet and Greets with Tastemakers

  • Approach booksellers about stocking your book. Bring your book and a copy of your press kit with you, and ask the bookseller for just a few minutes of their time. Give them your quick elevator pitch, and let them know why their customers would be interested in your book. If the store doesn’t agree to order copies right away, that’s OK. Continue supporting their store, and show them that you are serious about a mutual partnership.
  • Get in touch with libraries too! If you are stopping by in person, bring your book and a copy of your press kit. If you are not able to visit, consider mailing out postcards with information on your new release. Let the library know that you are interested in partnering with them, and helping them get more patrons through their doors.

Connect with Other Authors for Dual Promos

  • Partner up with another author for a dual event or panel. Having two authors for an event essentially doubles the audience size, which can make dual events very appealing to bookstores and libraries!
  • Set up a double giveaway. Offer your book along with a friend’s book for a dual giveaway on social media to increase awareness and participation!
  • Set up an IG or FB Live where you two chat, or agree to an interview hosted by a third party.
  • Try a newsletter feature swap! If you both have email newsletters, you can each promote the other’s book to help grow your audience and readership.

Pitch Yourself as an Expert

  • Author-focused media — online, print, radio or TV opportunities that may require you to speak on your expertise — can be set up months or even years after your book’s release. Especially if you are a nonfiction author, or an expert in your field, the media will be interested in what you have to say. So, consider pitching yourself as an expert to journalists and local TV programs!
  • Keep up to date with conferences and festivals, and apply to the ones that interest you. Many events are always looking for expert speakers!

Write Guest Articles

  • Guest articles are beneficial for author branding and are an effective way to keep your name in front of potential readers, especially while in between book releases. For a full list of tips on writing guest articles, check out our previous article here.

Consider an Ad Campaign

  • Digital marketing campaigns can start anytime and do not need to be tied to your publication date. Here are a few options you might consider:
  • Run ads in reader newsletters surrounding a special price drop on your ebook. If you’re going to be running a sale, you’ll want lots of readers to know about it. These ads help to boost exposure to tens of thousands of dedicated readers and tend to be very effective at increasing sales!
  • Plan seasonal ads. Are the holidays coming up? Run an ad campaign surrounding the season in order to take advantage of the festive gift giving. Or, if your book is addressing a serious topic such as Breast Cancer Awareness, consider running ads surrounding the related awareness month to boost exposure and draw attention to a good cause.
  • Check out marketing opportunities with your local bookseller association. If you want to reach booksellers directly, you can purchase an ad in a newsletter that will reach hundreds of indie booksellers in your local region.

As you can see, there are plenty of strategies for building your author brand and growing your readership while you’re in between book releases. Take stock of which strategies play to your strengths and pair well with your book’s genre, and follow that path!

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Links used: https://booksforward.com/tips-for-writing-great-guest-articles/

A Writer’s Guide to Goodreads

Readers and authors alike flock to Goodreads to find new books, enter giveaways, rate books, write reviews, and monitor stats of the unending sea of books that can be found online. So, what are the key things to keep in mind as a writer who wants their book to gain traction on Goodreads? We’ve put together a list of tips that can be helpful for first time authors breaking into this site.

  1. Use The Site
    This may seem obvious, but the most important part of entering a new digital space is understanding how it works. Participate as a reader and look at other author pages to build an idea of what your page might look like. Rate and review books, enter some giveaways to see how they work, check out the array of lists readers can vote books onto, and join the community. Integrating yourself first allows you to not only understand the site, but also understand the kinds of people who use it.
  2. Build Your Author Profile
    Create an author profile page that gives all the information you want to share with your readers to make finding you and your book easier. Include a short bio, a professional headshot, the genres you write in, and links to any website or social media accounts you have. You want them to be able to follow you easily across the web for updated book information so be sure to use links that are updated.
  3. Optimize and Claim Your Book Page
    In order for people to find your book, you will need to input its information. Be sure to include a good quality cover photo, an optimized description, and updated metadata like ISBN, publishing information, and price. Then you will need to claim the book as your own from your author profile so that it is connected to your account. If you are interested in what we can help with on the Goodreads optimization side, let us know, and we can tell you what we’ve done for our previous authors.
  4. Set Up a Giveaway
    One of the best ways to get your book in front of more readers on Goodreads is to offer a giveaway. You are able to list both print and online giveaways and you can set the number of copies you are willing to give. The great thing about giveaways is that whoever enters the giveaway keeps the book in their “want to read” list whether they win or not. This means that your book will be on their mind for future book purchases they will make, and it shows up in their friends’ feeds. It’s great exposure and can really help you gain interest.
  5. Add Your Book to Lists
    Goodreads has hundreds of lists that you can vote your book onto. Some fairly generic like “100 Must Read Books” and others that are hyper specific like “Fictitious Shipwrecks.” The more people that vote for the book on these lists, the higher they move and the more visibility your book has. Doing a mix of both broader and more specific lists is the best way to approach this aspect of Goodreads. Get your friends and family to help you raise your ranking and post about them on your socials to get readers involved.
  6. Engage with Readers
    Goodreads is a social platform so don’t forget to be social! Respond to positive reviews or post them on your other socials. Host Author Q&As on your Goodreads profile to answer questions about your writing process or your characters. Continue to use the site as a reader as well to stay current on what books and authors are popular at the moment. Social channels are always changing so staying up to date is your best chance for success!

 

Books Forward BFFs January 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 January 2021 newsletter here!

Tips for building mood boards and create brand aesthetics

A big part of author branding is making sure your personal social media and blogging efforts follow a particular theme, or have a certain aesthetic that associates your book with something that readers will notice and in turn, associate with you!

As a blogger myself, my aesthetic has often been described as colorful and coffee-obsessed. I almost always include a coffee mug and some sort of hot beverage in my photos, and I allow my photos to be bright, often including plants and greenery. I’ve had so many readers send me coffee-related posts and gifs from other bloggers, which warms my heart, knowing that they have gleaned something about me and thought of me in context with something I love.

Below, you’ll find tips and tricks for creating your own aesthetic, and opportunities to work on your brand!

Express Yourself

This sounds like it should be obvious, but I have a lot of authors that ask about sharing too much of their personality on social media, wondering if their platform should be book-specific. To that I say, sort of. Of course, we want the book to be present, you are an author! But if there are other things you enjoy, hobbies, professions, etc. – post those things too! They make you unique, and they might attract non-traditional readers who connect with something other than books, and that can open you up to a completely different audience! Don’t be afraid to show YOU without the pen in hand!

Be Consistent

Consistency is KEY, especially in a visual sense. It’s important for readers to see recurring patterns in your posts. For me, it’s the greenery. When friends come over, they always remark that they’ve seen my plants in all of my photos, and are often so excited to see “where the magic happens”. I’ve had friends gift me plants because they know that’s something I really enjoy from how often they appear in my photos. You want your readers to get to know you in that way, and also to create that association for them, so that when they see something that reminds them of you, they are reminded of your books and have the desire to continue reading throughout your career!

Add in a Pop of Color

One of the easiest and most essential pieces of author branding comes down to color, and ensuring that you are using the same colors across your multiple platforms. It comes back to the idea of consistency, but it can be helpful when readers are seeing you in different places that they have an association with! Select colors that resonate with you or are featured on your book cover, and be sure to use those same shades and colors for your website and social media alike!

Presets

In the world of Instagram, presets are quite popular. Presets are essentially filters that you can add to each and every photo you take to ensure that they have a similar aesthetic and appear related and consistent. This can be a simple way to ensure your photos are consistent and appear clean to viewers. The only downside to presets is that you often have to pay for them. They aren’t entirely too expensive, but it is something to consider!

Have Fun

None of this matters if you can’t have a bit of fun with it! Social media and branding, while a great way to connect with your audience, are still personal platforms where you are meant to be yourself. If your creative outlet looks different, allow for it to look different! You know yourself and your brand better than anyone! Don’t be afraid to try something outside of the box, especially if that means you’re going to find enjoyment!

Audiobooks to listen to when driving home for the holidays

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Or maybe not, depending on what your holiday season looks like. 

For us bookworms, it can be a LOT of stimulation, and not enough time reading! If you’re like me, you recharge alone, meaning that reading time is pretty essential to your ability to fully function with your family. 

It’s also hard to get that quality reading time when you’re driving to and from different houses… or is it? With audiobooks, you can get that quality reading while you commute, or even slip an earbud behind your ear and cover it with your hair during family dinner — hey, I won’t judge!

Regardless of your situation, here are some audiobook recommendations to help you relax and recharge this holiday season!

Call Us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman

Narrated by the queen herself, this profound poetry is bound to entertain as you go from point A to point B!

Formerly titled The Hill We Climb and Other Poems, the luminous poetry collection by #1 New York Times bestselling author and presidential inaugural poet Amanda Gorman captures a shipwrecked moment in time and transforms it into a lyric of hope and healing. In Call Us What We Carry, Gorman explores history, language, identity, and erasure through an imaginative and intimate collage. Harnessing the collective grief of a global pandemic, this beautifully designed volume features poems in many inventive styles and structures and shines a light on a moment of reckoning. Call Us What We Carry reveals that Gorman has become our messenger from the past, our voice for the future.

Follow Amanda on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

These Precious Days by Ann Patchett

This one is also narrated by the author, and an author we know and love! Ann’s newest collection is a stunning exploration of self, and the world around us. 

“Any story that starts will also end.” As a writer, Ann Patchett knows what the outcome of her fiction will be. Life, however, often takes turns we do not see coming. Patchett ponders this truth in these wise essays that afford a fresh and intimate look into her mind and heart.

At the center of These Precious Days is the title essay, a surprising and moving meditation on an unexpected friendship that explores “what it means to be seen, to find someone with whom you can be your best and most complete self.” When Patchett chose an early galley of actor and producer Tom Hanks’ short story collection to read one night before bed, she had no idea that this single choice would be life changing. It would introduce her to a remarkable woman—Tom’s brilliant assistant Sooki—with whom she would form a profound bond that held monumental consequences for them both.

A literary alchemist, Patchett plumbs the depths of her experiences to create gold: engaging and moving pieces that are both self-portrait and landscape, each vibrant with emotion and rich in insight. Turning her writer’s eye on her own experiences, she transforms the private into the universal, providing us all a way to look at our own worlds anew, and reminds how fleeting and enigmatic life can be.

From the enchantments of Kate DiCamillo’s children’s books (author of the upcoming The Beatryce Prophecy) to youthful memories of Paris; the cherished life gifts given by her three fathers to the unexpected influence of Charles Schultz’s Snoopy; the expansive vision of Eudora Welty to the importance of knitting, Patchett connects life and art as she illuminates what matters most. Infused with the author’s grace, wit, and warmth, the pieces in These Precious Days resonate deep in the soul, leaving an indelible mark—and demonstrate why Ann Patchett is one of the most celebrated writers of our time.

Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

A great audiobook for you and your YA readers in the family! One of the top reads of 2021, and for a good reason!

For fans of Angie Thomas and Tommy Orange, Angeline Boulley’s debut novel, Firekeeper’s Daughter, is a groundbreaking YA thriller about a Native teen who must root out the corruption in her community.

Eighteen-year-old Daunis Fontaine has never quite fit in, both in her hometown and on the nearby Ojibwe reservation. She dreams of a fresh start at college, but when family tragedy strikes, Daunis puts her future on hold to look after her fragile mother. The only bright spot is meeting Jamie, the charming new recruit on her brother Levi’s hockey team.

Yet even as Daunis falls for Jamie, she senses the dashing hockey star is hiding something. Everything comes to light when Daunis witnesses a shocking murder, thrusting her into an FBI investigation of a lethal new drug.

Reluctantly, Daunis agrees to go undercover, drawing on her knowledge of chemistry and Ojibwe traditional medicine to track down the source. But the search for truth is more complicated than Daunis imagined, exposing secrets and old scars. At the same time, she grows concerned with an investigation that seems more focused on punishing the offenders than protecting the victims.

Now, as the deceptions—and deaths—keep growing, Daunis must learn what it means to be a strong Anishinaabe kwe (Ojibwe woman) and how far she’ll go for her community, even if it tears apart the only world she’s ever known.

Follow Angeline on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult

This is one of my favorite books of the year! Jodi Picoult explores the pandemic in a way that shocks readers and educates us on a particular part of the pandemic that we as readers have not otherwise experienced in literature. 

Diana O’Toole is perfectly on track. She will be married by thirty, done having kids by thirty-five, and move out to the New York City suburbs, all while climbing the professional ladder in the cutthroat art auction world. She’s an associate specialist at Sotheby’s now, but her boss has hinted at a promotion if she can close a deal with a high-profile client. She’s not engaged just yet, but she knows her boyfriend, Finn, a surgical resident, is about to propose on their romantic getaway to the Galápagos—days before her thirtieth birthday. Right on time.

But then a virus that felt worlds away has appeared in the city, and on the eve of their departure, Finn breaks the news: It’s all hands on deck at the hospital. He has to stay behind. You should still go, he assures her, since it would be a shame for all of their nonrefundable trip to go to waste. And so, reluctantly, she goes.

Almost immediately, Diana’s dream vacation goes awry. Her luggage is lost, the Wi-Fi is nearly nonexistent, and the hotel they’d booked is shut down due to the pandemic. In fact, the whole island is now under quarantine, and she is stranded until the borders reopen. Completely isolated, she must venture beyond her comfort zone. Slowly, she carves out a connection with a local family when a teenager with a secret opens up to Diana, despite her father’s suspicion of outsiders.

In the Galápagos Islands, where Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection was formed, Diana finds herself examining her relationships, her choices, and herself—and wondering if when she goes home, she too will have evolved into someone completely different.

Follow Jodi on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead 

I mean, it’s Colson Whitehead, do I really need to say more? There’s no doubt you’ll be entertained by this immaculate writer!

“Ray Carney was only slightly bent when it came to being crooked…” To his customers and neighbors on 125th street, Carney is an upstanding salesman of reasonably priced furniture, making a decent life for himself and his family. He and his wife Elizabeth are expecting their second child, and if her parents on Striver’s Row don’t approve of him or their cramped apartment across from the subway tracks, it’s still home.

Few people know he descends from a line of uptown hoods and crooks, and that his façade of normalcy has more than a few cracks in it. Cracks that are getting bigger all the time.

Cash is tight, especially with all those installment-plan sofas, so if his cousin Freddie occasionally drops off the odd ring or necklace, Ray doesn’t ask where it comes from. He knows a discreet jeweler downtown who doesn’t ask questions, either.

Then Freddie falls in with a crew who plan to rob the Hotel Theresa—the “Waldorf of Harlem”—and volunteers Ray’s services as the fence. The heist doesn’t go as planned; they rarely do. Now Ray has a new clientele, one made up of shady cops, vicious local gangsters, two-bit pornographers, and other assorted Harlem lowlifes.

Thus begins the internal tussle between Ray the striver and Ray the crook. As Ray navigates this double life, he begins to see who actually pulls the strings in Harlem. Can Ray avoid getting killed, save his cousin, and grab his share of the big score, all while maintaining his reputation as the go-to source for all your quality home furniture needs?

Harlem Shuffle’s ingenious story plays out in a beautifully recreated New York City of the early 1960s. It’s a family saga masquerading as a crime novel, a hilarious morality play, a social novel about race and power, and ultimately a love letter to Harlem. But mostly, it’s a joy to read, another dazzling novel from the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning Colson Whitehead.

Follow Colson on Twitter.

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

This novella is the perfect read for a shorter car ride, and one that is bound to give you ALL. THE. FEELS! 

It is 1985 in a small Irish town. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, Bill Furlong, a coal merchant and family man, faces into his busiest season. Early one morning, while delivering an order to the local convent, Bill makes a discovery which forces him to confront both his past and the complicit silences of a town controlled by the church. Already an international bestseller, Small Things Like These is a deeply affecting story of hope, quiet heroism, and empathy from one of our most critically lauded and iconic writers.

Follow Claire on Twitter.

The Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox

If you’re looking for a HOLIDAY specific read, this is the one for you! Especially if you loved the movie The Holiday!

When chef Charlie Goodwin gets hit on the head on the L.A. set of her reality baking show, she loses a lot more than consciousness; she also loses her ability to taste and smell—both critical to her success as show judge. Meanwhile, Charlie’s identical twin, Cass, is frantically trying to hold her own life together back in their quaint mountain hometown while running the family’s bustling bakery and dealing with her ex, who won’t get the memo that they’re over.

With only days until Christmas, a desperate Charlie asks Cass to do something they haven’t done since they were kids: switch places. Looking for her own escape from reality, Cass agrees. But temporarily trading lives proves more complicated than they imagined, especially when rugged firefighter Jake Greenman and gorgeous physician assistant Miguel Rodriguez are thrown into the mix. Will the twins’ identity swap be a recipe for disaster, or does it have all the right ingredients for getting their lives back on track?

Follow Maggie on Instagram and Twitter.

Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty 

If family drama is your thing (and not particularly your own!), this is the book to give you all of the dysfunctional family vibes. 

If your mother was missing, would you tell the police? Even if the most obvious suspect was your father? This is the dilemma facing the four grown Delaney siblings.

The Delaneys are fixtures in their community. The parents, Stan and Joy, are the envy of all of their friends. They’re killers on the tennis court, and off it their chemistry is palpable. But after fifty years of marriage, they’ve finally sold their famed tennis academy and are ready to start what should be the golden years of their lives. So why are Stan and Joy so miserable?

The four Delaney children—Amy, Logan, Troy, and Brooke—were tennis stars in their own right, yet as their father will tell you, none of them had what it took to go all the way. But that’s okay, now that they’re all successful grown-ups and there is the wonderful possibility of grandchildren on the horizon.

One night a stranger named Savannah knocks on Stan and Joy’s door, bleeding after a fight with her boyfriend. The Delaneys are more than happy to give her the small kindness she sorely needs. If only that was all she wanted.

Later, when Joy goes missing, and Savannah is nowhere to be found, the police question the one person who remains: Stan. But for someone who claims to be innocent, he, like many spouses, seems to have a lot to hide. Two of the Delaney children think their father is innocent, two are not so sure—but as the two sides square off against each other in perhaps their biggest match ever, all of the Delaneys will start to reexamine their shared family history in a very new light.

Will by Will Smith

This beloved actor gives us his life story, and it’s one of resilience. Whoever is riding in the car with you will be glad you brought Will on the road!

Will Smith’s transformation from a fearful child in a tense West Philadelphia home to one of the biggest rap stars of his era and then one of the biggest movie stars in Hollywood history, with a string of box office successes that will likely never be broken, is an epic tale of inner transformation and outer triumph, and Will tells it astonishingly well. But it’s only half the story. 

Will Smith thought, with good reason, that he had won at life: not only was his own success unparalleled, his whole family was at the pinnacle of the entertainment world. Only they didn’t see it that way: they felt more like star performers in his circus, a seven-days-a-week job they hadn’t signed up for. It turned out Will Smith’s education wasn’t nearly over. 

This memoir is the product of a profound journey of self-knowledge, a reckoning with all that your will can get you and all that it can leave behind. Written with the help of Mark Manson, author of the multi-million-copy bestseller The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Will is the story of how one person mastered his own emotions, written in a way that can help everyone else do the same. Few of us will know the pressure of performing on the world’s biggest stages for the highest of stakes, but we can all understand that the fuel that works for one stage of our journey might have to be changed if we want to make it all the way home. The combination of genuine wisdom of universal value and a life story that is preposterously entertaining, even astonishing, puts Will the book, like its author, in a category by itself.

Follow Will on Instagram and Facebook.

Anti-hero fantasy books to read before Witcher season 2

Toss a coin to your witcher because Season 2 of The Witcher is fast approaching. And we’re all ready for the new adventures of our anti-hero, Geralt. But just before we get into the new season, here’s a few anti-hero fantasy stories to keep your blood pumping before the premiere:

Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski: For over a century, humans, dwarves, gnomes, and elves have lived together in relative peace. But times have changed, the uneasy peace is over, and now the races are fighting once again. The only good elf, it seems, is a dead elf. Geralt of Rivia, the cunning hunter known as the Witcher, has been waiting for the birth of a prophesied child. This child has the power to change the world for good–or for evil. As the threat of war hangs over the land and the child is hunted for her extraordinary powers, it will become Geralt’s responsibility to protect them all. And the Witcher never accepts defeat.

The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter: The Omehi people have been fighting an unwinnable war for almost two hundred years. The lucky ones are born gifted. One in every two thousand women has the power to call down dragons. One in every hundred men is able to magically transform himself into a bigger, stronger, faster killing machine. Everyone else is fodder, destined to fight and die in the endless war. Young, gift-less Tau knows all this, but he has a plan of escape. He’s going to get himself injured, get out early, and settle down to marriage, children, and land. Only, he doesn’t get the chance. Those closest to him are brutally murdered, and his grief swiftly turns to anger. Fixated on revenge, Tau dedicates himself to an unthinkable path. He’ll become the greatest swordsman to ever live, a man willing to die a hundred thousand times for the chance to kill the three who betrayed him.

The Mask of Mirrors by MA Carrick: Arenza Lenskaya is a liar and a thief, a pattern-reader and a daughter of no clan. Raised in the slums of Nadezra, she fled that world to save her sister. Renata Viraudax is a con artist recently arrived in Nadezra. She has one goal: to trick her way into a noble house and secure her fortune. But the deeper she is drawn into the aristocratic world of House Traementis, the more she realizes her masquerade is just one of many. And as corrupt magic begins to weave its way through the city’s streets, the poisonous feuds of its aristocrats and the shadowy dangers of its impoverished underbelly become tangled–with Ren at their heart.

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie: Logen Ninefingers, infamous barbarian, has finally run out of luck. Caught in one feud too many, he’s on the verge of becoming a dead barbarian — leaving nothing behind him but bad songs, dead friends, and a lot of happy enemies. Nobleman, dashing officer, and paragon of selfishness, Captain Jezal dan Luthar has nothing more dangerous in mind than fleecing his friends at cards and dreaming of glory in the fencing circle. But war is brewing, and on the battlefields of the frozen North they fight by altogether bloodier rules. Inquisitor Glokta, cripple turned torturer, would like nothing better than to see Jezal come home in a box. But then Glokta hates everyone: cutting treason out of the Union one confession at a time leaves little room for friendship. His latest trail of corpses may lead him right to the rotten heart of government, if he can stay alive long enough to follow it. Enter the wizard, Bayaz. A bald old man with a terrible temper and a pathetic assistant, he could be the First of the Magi, he could be a spectacular fraud, but whatever he is, he’s about to make the lives of Logen, Jezal, and Glokta a whole lot more difficult. Murderous conspiracies rise to the surface, old scores are ready to be settled, and the line between hero and villain is sharp enough to draw blood.

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb: Young Fitz is the bastard son of the noble Prince Chivalry, raised in the shadow of the royal court by his father’s gruff stableman. He is treated as an outcast by all the royalty except the devious King Shrewd, who has him secretly tutored in the arts of the assassin. For in Fitz’s blood runs the magic Skill–and the darker knowledge of a child raised with the stable hounds and rejected by his family. As barbarous raiders ravage the coasts, Fitz is growing to manhood. Soon he will face his first dangerous, soul-shattering mission. And though some regard him as a threat to the throne, he may just be the key to the survival of the kingdom.

The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht: The city of Elendhaven sulks on the edge of the ocean. Wracked by plague, abandoned by the South, stripped of industry and left to die. But not everything dies so easily. A thing without a name stalks the city, a thing shaped like a man, with a dark heart and long pale fingers yearning to wrap around throats. A monster who cannot die. His frail master sends him out on errands, twisting him with magic, crafting a plan too cruel to name, while the monster’s heart grows fonder and colder and more cunning. These monsters of Elendhaven will have their revenge on everyone who wronged the city, even if they have to burn the world to do it.

The Unbroken by CL Clark: Stolen as a child and raised to kill and die for the empire, her only loyalty is to her fellow conscripts. But now, her company has been sent back to her homeland to stop a rebellion, and the ties of blood may be stronger than she thought. Luca needs a turncoat. Someone desperate enough to tiptoe the bayonet’s edge between treason and orders. Someone who can sway the rebels toward peace, while Luca focuses on what really matters: getting her uncle off her throne. Through assassinations and massacres, in bedrooms and war rooms, Touraine and Luca will haggle over the price of a nation. But some things aren’t for sale.

A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab: Kell is one of the last Antari–magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black. Kell was raised in Arnes–Red London–and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand. After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure. Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

Book recommendations based on your favorite Christmas movie

It’s the time of year when I just want to lie around reading and watching Christmas movies, so I’ve matched some of my seasonal favorite films with books!

If you like Elf,

Read Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

It’s funny, it’s charming, and it’s overwhelmingly sweet. You’ll want to rewatch and reread.
Follow Casey on Instagram and Twitter.

If you like While You Were Sleeping

Read The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa

Falling for the brother of the person you were initially interested in? How often does this happen?
Follow Mia on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

If you like It’s A Wonderful Life,

Read The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Both explore what life would be like in different realities, for better or worse.
Follow Matt on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

If you like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,

Read This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

Too much family time can be catastrophic and hilarious, whether it’s for Christmas or for a funeral.
Follow Jonathan on Instagram and Twitter.

If you like Die Hard

Read Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby

A hero who isn’t exactly clean cut, in a heist-type situation that may end badly.
Follow S.A. on Instagram and Twitter.

If you like Happiest Season

Read The Perks of Loving A Wallflower by Erica Ridley

Sapphic romances in which the women in love are forced to hide their relationships by circumstances beyond their control.
Follow Erica on Instagram and Twitter.

If you like How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Read A Man Called Ove by Frederick Backman

Exploring why a grumpy loner is the way that he is.
Follow Fredrik on Instagram.

If you like Home Alone

Read Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

In both the book and the movie, you’ll wonder how a young boy has so many tricks up his sleeve.
Follow Eoin on Instagram and Twitter.

If you like Last Holiday,

Read A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow

Facing terminal diagnoses, these women decide to take their lives into their own hands.
Follow Alix on Instagram and Twitter.

If you like The Holiday

Read The Switch by Beth O’Leary

Both of these convinced me that switching houses with someone would solve all my problems!
Follow Beth on Instagram.

If you like The Best Man Holiday,

Read The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

All the feelings of being a grown up disappear when we reunite with old friends.
Follow Meg on Instagram and Twitter.

Books Forward BFFs December 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 December 2021 newsletter here!

Books to read if you can’t stop watching Spider-Man movies

With the new Spider-Man movie on the horizon, we are, of course, thinking about what books you might like. Whether you’re an original fan of Tobey Maguire, get emotional with Andrew Garfield, venture into the Spider-Verse with Shameik Moore’s Miles Morales, are a Tom Holland supporter, or if you’re first in line for tickets whenever an awkward teen dons the spidey suit, you’ll find something to love on this list.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

In the year 2045, reality is an ugly place. The only time Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the OASIS, a vast virtual world where most of humanity spends their days. When the eccentric creator of the OASIS dies, he leaves behind a series of fiendish puzzles, based on his obsession with the pop culture of decades past. Whoever is first to solve them will inherit his vast fortune–and control of the OASIS itself.
Then Wade cracks the first clue. Suddenly he’s beset by rivals who’ll kill to take this prize. The race is on–and the only way to survive is to win.

Skyhunter by Marie Lu

Talin is a Striker, a member of an elite fighting force that stands as the last defense for the only free nation in the world: Mara. A refugee, Talin knows firsthand the horrors of the Federation, a world-dominating war machine responsible for destroying nation after nation with its terrifying army of mutant beasts known only as Ghosts. But when a mysterious prisoner is brought from the front to Mara’s capital, Talin senses there’s more to him than meets the eye. Is he a spy from the Federation? What secrets is he hiding?

The Extraordinaries by TJ Klune

Nick Bell? Not extraordinary. But being the most popular fanfiction writer in the Extraordinaries fandom is a superpower, right? After a chance encounter with Shadow Star, Nova City’s mightiest hero (and Nick’s biggest crush), Nick sets out to make himself extraordinary. And he’ll do it with or without the reluctant help of Seth Gray, Nick’s best friend (and maybe the love of his life).

The Infinite Noise by Lauren Shippen

Caleb Michaels is a sixteen-year-old champion running back. Other than that his life is pretty normal. But when Caleb starts experiencing mood swings that are out of the ordinary for even a teenager, his life moves beyond “typical.” Caleb is an Atypical, an individual with enhanced abilities. Which sounds pretty cool except Caleb’s ability is extreme empathy–he feels the emotions of everyone around him. Being an empath in high school would be hard enough, but Caleb’s life becomes even more complicated when he keeps getting pulled into the emotional orbit of one of his classmates, Adam. Adam’s feelings are big and all-consuming, but they fit together with Caleb’s feelings in a way that he can’t quite understand. Caleb’s therapist, Dr. Bright, encourages Caleb to explore this connection by befriending Adam. As he and Adam grow closer, Caleb learns more about his ability, himself, his therapist–who seems to know a lot more than she lets on–and just how dangerous being an Atypical can be.

Faith: Taking Flight by Julie Murphy

Faith Herbert is a pretty regular teen. When she’s not hanging out with her two best friends, Matt and Ches, she’s volunteering at the local animal shelter or obsessing over the long-running teen drama The Grove. So far, her senior year has been spent trying to sort out her feelings for her maybe-crush Johnny and making plans to stay close to Grandma Lou after graduation. Of course, there’s also that small matter of recently discovering she can fly…. When the fictional world of The Grove crashes into Faith’s reality as the show relocates to her town, she can’t believe it when TV heroine Dakota Ash takes a romantic interest in her. But her fandom-fueled daydreams aren’t enough to distract Faith from the fact that first animals, then people, have begun to vanish from the town. Only Faith seems able to connect the dots to a new designer drug infiltrating her high school. But when her investigation puts the people she loves in danger, she will have to confront her hidden past and use her newfound gifts–risking everything to save her friends and beloved town.

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own. Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it–and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.

In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City–and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.

War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi

The year is 2172. Climate change and nuclear disasters have rendered much of earth unlivable. Only the lucky ones have escaped to space colonies in the sky. In a war-torn Nigeria, battles are fought using flying, deadly mechs and soldiers are outfitted with bionic limbs and artificial organs meant to protect them from the harsh, radiation-heavy climate. Across the nation, as the years-long civil war wages on, survival becomes the only way of life. Two sisters, Onyii and Ify, dream of more. Their lives have been marked by violence and political unrest. Still, they dream of peace, of hope, of a future together. And they’re willing to fight an entire war to get there.

Dark Rise by C.S. Pacat

Sixteen-year-old dock boy Will is on the run, pursued by the men who killed his mother. Then an old servant tells him of his destiny to fight beside the Stewards, who have sworn to protect humanity if the Dark King ever returns. Will is thrust into a world of magic, where he starts training for a vital role in the oncoming battle against the Dark. As London is threatened and old enmities are awakened, Will must stand with the last heroes of the Light to prevent the fate that destroyed their world from returning to destroy his own.

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental strain. When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected–she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead.​ To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia​. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life, until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way–and stop more girls from being sacrificed.