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!

 

BFFs April 2021 Newsletter

Check out the latest newsletter for our Books Forward Friends. This issue features a special opportunity for BFFs, some fun reading quizzes, highlights of our BFFs and much more!

Read the April 2021 newsletter here!

Your next great book club pick

Whether everyone takes turns choosing a book, or the entire club votes, picking the next read is always challenging. You want to pick something that will spark discussion but has a wide appeal. We’ve put together a list of recommendations that we think will be a great fit for any book club.

A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza
We actually did read this in my book club years ago, and it was so enjoyable. Everyone related to a different character in a different way, and it remains my favorite book to recommend for that very reason.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
This is a classic that will appeal to clubs who love historical fiction, coming-of-age stories and strong women.

There There by Tommy Orange
I never would have picked this up if it weren’t for my book club, which would have been a huge loss. The stories are so powerful, and the way Orange weaves them together is masterful.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Maybe not the best choice for a pandemic, but the way this story is weaved together likely will have everyone talking — and might even lead to some interesting end-of-the-world theories.

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
There’s a reason this book has been everywhere. It is full of questions that have no clear or concrete answers but will keep you thinking for months after reading it.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
If you’re looking for a humorous book that also explores emotion and has a great cast of characters, this is a great fit.

Born A Crime by Travor Noah
The affable TV host’s presence translates well to the page, but the stories about his childhood will capture you even more than his humor. (Note: If you get the chance, grab the audiobook because he’s a great narrator as well!)

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson
Science-fiction is a tough choice for many people, but this book paints such remarkable metaphors that are applicable to our reality — many different realities reflecting divides along racial lines, income lines, and more.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
If you are in a book club that likes to pick sides, look no further. A marriage is tested when the husband is sent to prison, and most people land firmly on the husband’s side … or the wife’s.

Educated by Tara Westover
This was one of the wildest true stories I’ve ever read and one that had us Googling “did this really happen” during our book club meeting.

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
Blending fiction with some horrifying truths, Whitehead’s writing will have you highlighting passages to bring up at your book club meeting to see if they blew everyone else away as well.

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong
It’s likely that most people in a book club have experienced feeling lost during a quarter-life crisis or have dealt with the circumstances around aging parents. This slim volume explores both beautifully.

Eloquent Rage by Brittney Cooper
Hilarious, heartbreaking, and so so smart, this should be required reading for any book club with white women.

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
A meditation on faith without being overtly religious, Gyasi also dives into grief, family, and science in interesting and often devastating ways.

Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi
This would be a commitment because it’s very long, but there were so many times when I was reading this that I wanted to be able to talk to someone and ask them if they were just as shocked as I was by what we were reading.

Find this complete list of great book club picks at bookshop.org.

Books Ted Lasso brought to England (probably)

Ted Lasso was one of my absolute favorite new discoveries of 2020, and I thought it would be fun to peek inside the luggage he brought with him to start his new job in England.

  1. Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu Ted has shown a baking prowess just like the main character in this graphic novel, and I feel like Ted would be absolutely hooked on its team spirit and the absolute sweetness.
  2. One Life by Megan Rapinoe If I know Ted (and I do because I’ve watched the show several times), I know that he worships Megan Rapinoe as a hero on and off the soccer field.
  3. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle Ted has been shown to be a fantastic father, and I feel like this book would be a perfect buddy read with his son.
  4. Notes From A Small Island by Bill Bryson When Ted told a bookseller he was going to be moving to London, they recommended this book.
  5. Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez Of course this book about a rising soccer star is on Ted’s radar. “If it’s good enough for Reese, it’s good enough for me.”
  6. The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis Coach Beard watched the show with Ted and then recommended this book to further his chess education.
  7. Darius the Great Is Not OK by Adib Khorram A focus on soccer and discovering one’s identity? A perfect fit for Ted.
  8. Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby A true British classic about football and all the weird rituals that come with it makes a great introduction for Ted.
  9. Only When It’s Us by Chloe Liese Of course Ted reads romance. And he especially loves a romance with a feisty, strong soccer star like Willa.
  10. The Collected Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle He said he felt like he had to read it to complete his British education.

Celebrate National Cocktail Day with these drink and book pairings

Cheers! Drink and book pairings to celebrate national cocktail day

National Cocktail Day is March 24 — also coincidentally my birthday, so double cheers! I’ll be cozying up with one of these drink + book combos to celebrate!

Summer Club by Katherine Dean Mazerov 

Normally, politics, parent drama, drunken soirees, snarkiness and sex-capades reign at Meadow Glen Swim and Tennis club where Lydia Phillips presides as president. Now, a strange car following the club manager, a break-in at Lydia’s home and a shocking discovery on the club grounds have this stay-at-home mom dusting off her newspaper-reporting skills to unravel the mystery. When a body surfaces in the river, Lydia’s life gets a whole lot more complicated — and dangerous.

Pairing: A frozen margarita, perfect for a hot summer day

 

Viral BS by Dr. Seema Yasmin

In Viral BS, journalist, doctor, professor, and CDC-trained disease detective Seema Yasmin, driven by a need to set the record straight, dissects some of the most widely circulating medical myths and pseudoscience. Exploring how epidemics of misinformation can spread faster than microbes, Dr. Yasmin asks why bad science is sometimes more believable and contagious than the facts.

Pairing: A gin and tonic, once used for medicinal purposes

 

The Authors of This Dream by Seth Mullins

Brandon Chane’s life is spinning out of control. After an altercation outside a performance venue nearly proves fatal, he’s feeling at the mercy of dark forces threatening to tear his life apart. Even as a gifted poet and musician, his efforts to channel pain, frustration, and thwarted love into his music may not be enough to save him.

Pairing: The Rock ‘n’ Rolla is self-explanatory.

 

Rethink God by Nadiez Bahi

Sherif and Christian are two strangers whose paths cross by nothing more than serendipity. For their different reasons, they become companions on a journey trying to find an answer for the big question “Does God Exist?”

Pairing: Nectar of the Gods will help you ponder the big questions in life.

 

Murmuration by Sid Balman Jr.

Charlie Christmas, Ademar Zarkan, and Prometheus Stone are the best of America—united by war, scarred by displacement, and resolute in the face of the troubles that rip the nation apart over three decades. Christmas, a Somali translator with a split personality, and Zarkan, a Muslim sharpshooter who defies gender and religious constraints to graduate from West Point, are first brought together by Stone, a lapsed Jew and an Army captain, amidst war and famine in East Africa. Their ensuing journey — which takes them from the mean streets of Mogadishu to the high desert of West Texas, from the barren plains of Indian country to the rolling hills of Minnesota — is at turns tragic and uplifting.

Pairing: A Texas Sunrise mocktail (alcohol is illegal in Somalia) that hails back to Sid’s home

 

Sing Me Forgotten by Jessica S. Olson

In this gender-swapped, feminist version of “The Phantom of the Opera,” Isda does not exist. At least not beyond the opulent walls of the opera house.

Cast into a well at birth for being one of the magical few who can manipulate memories when people sing, she was saved by Cyril, the opera house’s owner. Since that day, he has given her sanctuary from the murderous world outside. All he asks in return is that she use her power to keep ticket sales high — and that she stay out of sight. For if anyone discovers she survived, Isda and Cyril would pay with their lives.

Pairing: A Death in the Afternoon — an unforgettable cocktail for this unforgettable tale

 

Wings of Ebony by J. Elle

“Wonder Woman” meets “The Hate U Give” in a “Black Panther” world in this New York Times-bestselling YA fantasy about a Black teen from Houston who discovers she has magic powers — and learns how powerfully strong and resilient she truly is. Savor this moving story of Black girl magic with a glass of Black Magic Sangria–this cocktail even matches Wings of Ebony’s gorgeous cover! 

Pairing: A Black Magic Sangria matches the the enchanting cover perfectly.

 

The Magician by Kathleen Shoop 

It begins when narrator Patryk Rusek’s great-grandson Owen pulls up to Patryk’s nursing home, and discovers Patryk reading from his chronicle of the town of Donora to half the nursing home’s employees and residents. Flashback to Donora, 1920: Mary Musial is expecting again, and she and Lukasz Musial are hoping for a boy after four daughters. When Stanislaw Franciszek Musial is born, Mary hopes it will bring Lukasz joy, whose American Dream is rapidly fading. The story of Stan inspires Owen’s lifelong dream of being a pro baseball player despite his family’s wishes for his future. Everyone close to Stan has different goals in mind for him, but are they what Stan wants? Will insecurities and the people close to them lead them both to make choices too late, and decades apart from each other, or will they choose to follow their dreams after all?

Paring: The Sidecar is a perfect fit for the 1920s aesthetic. 

 

Among the Beautiful Beasts by Lori McMullen

Set in 1920s Miami, Lori McMullen’s historical fiction novel reveals the remarkable untold story of Marjory Stoneman Douglas– the woman who saved the Everglades. After running away from her husband – a swindler thirty years her senior – and entering into an all-consuming affair, Marjory finds herself drained by the demanding men seeking control over her life. She finds solace in the natural world – wild and free as she longs to be. So, when the Everglades are threatened with irreparable damage, Marjory knows she must speak up, or one of the greatest wonders of the world will be lost.

Pairing: A Matcha Mint Julep has a very earthy vibe. 

 

Closer to Fine by Jodi S. Rosenfeld

One of the warmest, most relatable new adult novels of the year, Jodi S. Rosenfeld’s “Closer to Fine” follows Rachel, a 20-something psych student who knows the human brain but struggles to understand her own anxiety. When a progressive female rabbi shakes up her community — and a new love interest, Liz, shakes up Rachel’s world — Rachel finds herself caught between the person she is and the woman she wants to be.

Pairing: The Sazerac has evolved and changed over time.

 

Denied by Mary Keliikoa

The second book in the gripping, award-nominated PI Kelly Pruett mystery series, “Denied” follows Kelly as a seemingly straightforward missing persons case quickly leads to hidden gambling debts, a severed finger, and an explosive message from the mafia. With a strong and relatable female lead, off-the-charts tension, and breathtaking twists, Mary Keliikoa’s action-packed story is one you won’t want to miss!

Pairing: A Reposado Old Fashioned is a feminine twist on a noir classic. 

 

Rea and the Blood of the Nectar by Payal Doshi

It all begins on the night Rea turns twelve. After a big fight with her twin brother Rohan on their birthday, Rea’s life in the small village of Darjeeling, India, gets turned on its head. It’s four in the morning and Rohan is nowhere to be found. Unwilling to give up on her brother, Rea and her friend Leela meet Mishti Daadi, a wrinkly old fortune-teller whose powers of divination set them off on a thrilling and secret quest. In the shade of night, they portal to an otherworldly realm and travel to Astranthia, a land full of magic and whimsy. Rea must solve clues that lead to Rohan, find a way to rescue him and save Astranthia from a potentially deadly fate.

Pairing: A mango fizz mocktail will be fun for the kids and make them feel adventurous.

 

The Reincarnationist Papers by D. Eric Maikranz

After an arson job gone wrong, Evan is confronted by a mysterious woman, Poppy, who recognizes him for what he is because she also remembers multiple lives — except that she is much older, remembering seven complete lives.  But there is something else Poppy must share with Evan — she is a member of a secret society of similar individuals who remember sequential past lives and reincarnate life after life.  These 28 people created a secret society called the Cognomina centuries ago so that they could associate with each other from one lifetime to another.  They are, in effect, near immortals — compiling experiences and skills over diverse lifetimes into near superhuman abilities that they have used to drive human history toward their own agenda on a longer timeline. 

Pairing: You should be able to find a good negroni no matter where your lives take you.

 

One Must Tell the Bees by J. Lawrence Matthews

It begins in 1918 in the English countryside  where the world’s greatest detective has retired to tend his bees and write his memoirs — memoirs that reveal the full story of his journey to America, first as a junior chemist at the DuPont gunpowder works in Wilmington, then as a companion for young Tad Lincoln on what turns out to be the evening of President Lincoln’s assassination — and finally as an unsung participant in the electrifying manhunt for the assassin, John Wilkes Booth.

Pairing: The Bee’s Knees is a prohibition-inspired cocktail incorporating honey. 

 

Tools of A Thief by D. Hale Rambo

How do you stop being a thief? Zizy assumed quitting her job, stealing from her boss, and flitting magically across the continent was one way to give it a go. Getting in and out of sticky situations is typically Zizy’s specialty. A little spellwork here, a pinch of deception there, and she’s home free. Quick-fingered, fast-talking, and charming the gnome knows traveling across a shattered continent won’t be easy. Still, she has the skills to keep herself from getting killed.

Pairing: Pink champagne punch is fizzy and fun, with a rosy hue.

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!

 

10 books to check out if you love WandaVision

A couple of us on the Books Forward team are obsessed with WandaVision, and we put together a list of some books to check out if you also can’t stop watching! Most of these books are fairly dark, so keep that in mind if you plan to pick one up.

  1. The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin and Peter Straub – An idyllic neighborhood hides a terrible secret. Sound familiar?
  2. Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben – Maya catches a glimpse of her husband playing with her daughter on their nanny cam, but he had been murdered weeks ago. 
  3. When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole – This thriller about gentrification is imbued with dread and quickly turns into a horror story.
  4. Fledgling by Octavia Butler – A young girl has no memory of her past, but starts to realize she has inhuman and startling abilities.
  5. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch – Jason is abducted and wakes up in a new, alternate version of his life. If you love WandaVision for the twists, this is the book for you.
  6. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty – Big, brittle smiles cover up a lot of secrets in this seemingly perfect community filled with tight-lipped housewives.
  7. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng – On the surface, Lydia leads a perfect life, but when her body is found in a lake, her family must explore what she had been keeping inside.  
  8. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia – A tough, smart heroine and a story that gets weirder and weirder as she digs deeper.
  9. The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi – Vivek’s death at the beginning of the book leads to an exploration of grief, identity and family.
  10. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn – Camille heads to stay with her family in the town where she grew up after a stay at a psychiatric facility, only to find that they have gotten more stifling, more secretive and more dangerous.

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.

 

Books in translation that we’ve loved or can’t wait to read

March is national foreign language month, and to mark the occasion, our team put together a list of books in translation that we’ve loved or are looking forward to. These are books that were originally published in a language other than English.

“Love in the Time of Cholera” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
I’ve owned a copy of Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Márquez for years, but I’ve yet to crack it open. I’m hoping to tackle a few unread books from my home library this year, including this one! So many people have raved about this novel, so I’m excited to finally dive in.

– Angelle Barbazon, lead publicist

“Woman at Point Zero” by Nawal El Saadawi
Originally published in Arabic in the 1970s, this book centers on Firdaus, a woman whose entire life was marked by abuse at the hands of the powerful. Imprisoned in Cairo as an adult, she recounts her life story from childhood to the present day. Her heartbreaking tale reflects the true stories of countless women who face a combination of sexism and class-based oppression.

“The Emissary” by Yoko Tawada
This slim dystopian science fiction novel takes place in Japan, which has cut itself off from the rest of the world following a nation-wide disaster. The book centers on a child, Mumei, who lives with his grandfather. Mumei is part of a generation of children born with a series of medical problems who rely on their comparatively spry grandparents for assistance. Despite the dystopian nature of the plot, Tawada’s tale is full of bright spots and lighthearted moments.
– Jackie Karneth, publicist

“In the Miso Soup,” by Ryu Murakami
My library happened to have it sitting featured on a shelf, so I picked it up on a whim a couple years ago. The novel follows Kenji, a young Japanese sex tour guide who accompanies his new client, a creepy American named Frank, for three nights among Tokyo’s nightlife. Reading this book was at times like a fever dream. Equal parts horrifying and intriguing, I often had to go back and check that what I had just read was really happening. When I finished it, I truly didn’t know if I could even say I liked the book. But I find myself remembering scenes from it randomly, thinking about conversations the characters had, and how the story ultimately took hold of me. A completely different kind of thriller than those I’m used to reading, this book is gruesome: Besides the grizzly murders that take place, it makes us analyze our own worst behaviors and the steps we’ll take to avoid being alone.

“A Man Called Ove,” by Fredrick Backman
This was my first Backman novel, and it still sits with me and is one of my favorite books I’ve ever read. The book follows Ove, a cranky old man who adheres tightly to routine and socializes with no one. When new neighbors moving in start to interfere with Ove’s carefully laid out plans, we begin to see just how broken and alone this grouch really is after losing the love of his life, Sonja. Backman has a way of writing that is effortlessly beautiful without being pretentious. On more than one occasion, I had to stop and take a deep breath after reading the way he so accurately describes feelings like love and heartache.

– Jenn Vance, social media coordinator and publicist

“The Flowers of Evil” by Charles Baudelaire
I remember first reading Charles Baudelaire’s poetry collection, “Les fleurs du mal,” in my college World Poetry class, and it quickly become one of my favorite collections that I read that year. Indulgent, decadent, erotic, romantic, and angst-ridden, the collection is a Poe-esque angst fest and everything you would hope to get from a mid-19th century Parisian poet and laudanum addict. If poetry titles like “Madrigal of Sorrow,” “The Serpent’s Tooth,” and “Vampire” appeal to you, then grab this volume and a glass of red wine, light some candles, and get ready to swoon on your chaise lounge.

– Chelsea Apple, content coordinator

“Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead” by Olga Tokarczuk
I’ve seen so much buzz around this book in the past year or so, and every time I see mention of it, I think to myself “oooo I need to read that soon!” and then I get distracted. But it has everything that I like in a book — an award-winning literary mystery — and it’s set in Poland, where I have roots. So I’m going to get to it soon. I promise.

“The Memory Police” by Yoko Ogawa
This is another book that I’ve been excited about for a while, but I haven’t read it yet because frankly it sounds a little scary and I am a wuss. It involves an Orwellian police force who disappear things and people and is a reflection on memory and loss.

– Ellen Whitfield, senior publicist

“Bottled Goods” by Sophie van Llewyn
I received an ARC of this one a few months back and I devoured it quickly. This concise novel takes place in Romania, a country I know little to nothing about, during the 1970’s. An intimate portrait of a perspective far from my own, I cherished each page of this succinct novel.

– Elysse Wagner, publicist and campaign strategist