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

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

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

The Pros

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

The Cons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Books Forward Welcomes SIBA / NAIBA Attendees to New Orleans

Bienvenue to all SIBA / NAIBA indie booksellers and other lovers of literature! At Books Forward, we are passionate about elevating important messages and stories from diverse voices, as well as championing independent bookstores. And we are so excited to extend our Southern hospitality to the attendees of 2020’s joint SIBA / NAIBA tradeshow! Welcome, y’all!

If you want to discover some incredible new authors, enjoy some fun NOLA swag, or receive a free consultation about boosting your social media presence, check out what we have in store for you this year. Connect with us during the conference by participating in a few of our offerings below: 

Visit our virtual booth in the exhibitor’s hall: https://newvoicesnewrooms.org/books-forward/ 

Check out our booth and come meet the amazing Southern authors and books we’re representing this year! You may request galleys for any of our titles.

Ask us for a free social media consultation 

Are you a bookseller looking to boost your social media presence? Our digital marketing team will review your social media accounts and offer constructive feedback and advice for increasing your online engagement, hosting virtual events and bringing more patrons to your online store! Email us at info@booksforward.com to schedule your consult.

You may also be interested in scheduling some of our authors and leading experts for free (live or pre-recorded) virtual learning opportunities.

Learn New Orleans lingo 

Think you know how to say “Tchefuncte,” “Vieux Carre,” “Ouachita” and “Burgundy?” Think again! Let our New Orleans team teach you how to pronounce the trickier words you’ll see while virtually visiting the Big Easy, and we’ll have you speaking like a local in no time. Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Pick up some fun swag 

We have a present for you! Check your conference box to snag your grab bag of NOLA flavor, including a snazzy sticker and (of course) a fun Mardi Gras bead courtesy of Books Forward! 

Meet our authors face-to-face

Our authors want to say a big “thank you!” to indies and share some cool news with you via video! Check out Big Freedia’s (New Orleans’ one and only Queen Diva and Bounce music icon) shout-out to indie booksellers, bestselling author Rea Frey talking about the importance of indie bookstores, bestselling author Jenny Milchman (known for what Shelf Awareness called the “World’s Longest Bookstore Tour”) reading from her newest thriller, and Washington Post journalist and Jeff Goldblum biographer Travis Andrews sharing some fascinating facts about “Jurassic Jeff”.

Join us on social media 

Be the first to enter our giveaways (often for indie bookstore gift cards, but also for other literary themed gifts!), get tagged in our shout-outs, chat with us online, and see our posts, streams, and stories during the tradeshow and beyond! Follow us on social media by clicking the links below: 

A sincere THANK YOU for all you do for the literary community. We’re sending a big virtual hug your way!

“Help Me Help You!” Tips for your family and friends who want to help your writing career

So many authors are reluctant to ask their family, friends and assorted contacts for help when they are promoting their book, but I always tell them to think of it from the opposite perspective. Wouldn’t you want to support a friend or loved one who had a new book coming out?

The thing is, most people don’t know exactly how to show that support, and they just need a little nudge in the right direction. So we put together a handy guide you can pass along when someone asks, “How can I help?”

Dear friends and family, here’s how you can help the authors in your life:

  1. Preorder a copy of their book — and not just for yourselves, but for others. Everybody’s getting a copy for Christmas! This is the most tangible way to help. For those who don’t have the financial means to order several books, there are a lot of other things that can help.
  2. Talk about the book on social media. Include links to the author’s website so people can order copies for themselves. Follow the author on their social media pages, and share their posts as appropriate to help drum up excitement.
  3. Rate and review the book on all platforms possible. Amazon doesn’t allow reviews before a book’s publication date, but Goodreads and other sites do. These ratings can be a deciding factor for whether someone buys the book or not. Seeing even just a handful of positive reviews can be a big incentive to check it out, so leaving a 5-star rating and review is an easy way to have a critical impact.
  4. Add the book to Goodreads lists to boost its SEO (Search Engine Optimization) power. When someone searches for books about specific topics — for example, “books about teenage witches” — Goodreads lists are often among the first results to pop up. By adding the book to several topical/thematic Goodreads lists and asking others to vote on it, you are making it more visible to its targeted readers.
  5. Suggest it as a book club pick to any groups you’re involved with who may enjoy it. The author may even be able to do a virtual Q&A with book clubs if that’s something you’d be interested in.
  6. Request that your local library carry the book. Check to see if the book is available at your library. If it’s not, check online to see if they have a form on their website where you can request that they carry the book. Many libraries have request forms specifically for this purpose (and if yours does not have an online form, a conversation with the librarian is a good place to start!). If the library chooses to carry the book, they will purchase a copy (another sale for the author!), and the book will be able to reach a new audience of readers who may not hear about it otherwise.
  7. Talk to your local booksellers and see if they know about the book. If not, give them an elevator pitch! Their recommendations are invaluable, so even putting the book on their radar can be helpful.
  8. And of course, spread the word! Word of mouth is still so important. Talk about the book to your friends, your coworkers, in your personal and professional circles, anywhere you can. Being an advocate for the author in your life is truly a gift — and you may help your other friends and connections discover a great new read!

What to expect leading up to your book launch

The day a book launches is one of the most exciting of an author’s career, but the weeks leading up to it can be nerve-wracking. Knowing what to expect can help give you a sense of calm as you move into “launch month.”

I like to describe the publicity leading up to your publication date like a snowball: it starts out rather small and moves slowly, but as you get closer, momentum and size build up.

First, many readers prefer to wait until launch day or launch week to cross-post reviews (Amazon actually doesn’t allow reviews to post before then, although other sites do). This burst of reviews in a short period of time can be beneficial; it’s similar to advertising, and the sudden, frequent exposure to the book’s cover and title can lead to more orders!

Second, local media publications in your area are more likely to post a review or blurb about the book near the launch date, in order to create a more timely hook for their newscycle.

So how can you help build the momentum?

Check in with your network of family and friends around this time to ask them to help spread the word about your book. They can do this through Goodreads reviews, social media outreach, or good old-fashioned word of mouth. Many of your supporters will want to help you during this time, but they might need you to tell them how.

Post regularly on social media. Prior to launch, you may have been posting about your book on social media less frequently in order to not overwhelm your followers. However, the weeks leading up to your launch is the time to really use those platforms to display your excitement and share this part of your journey! You should also use social media to share any reviews, and to thank the people who wrote them.

Make sure your website is fully updated and running smoothly. As more people hear about your book, your website is likely to have more visits. Make sure buy links (including IndieBound) are displayed prominently to give you the best chance at getting those orders! If you have a reader newsletter, make sure that you have a system in place to capture email addresses of anyone who wants to subscribe.

Be savvy about making your book launch event a success. Encourage your contacts in the area to come, and to spread the word about the event to their networks as well. Stores appreciate when events gather a crowd, and it gives you an opportunity to spread your message beyond your circle. Ask the store what format usually works best for them, whether it’s a short reading, a Q&A, a conversation, etc.

Bring bookmarks and extra pens for signing, and a notepad to take down any email addresses for contacts you may make. Plus some water and mints–you’ll be doing a lot of talking!

In the wake of COVID-19, many stores are offering virtual events instead of in-person events, which is a great option to reach a wider audience beyond where you can travel! Even if an event is virtual, we still recommend being strategic about when, where, and with whom you set up events: you want to make sure you can draw an audience, so that it is a good investment for you and the bookstore.

If the bookstore doesn’t set up a Facebook event for your launch, you should set one up yourself! It’s a great way to let a wide audience know about your launch, and you can include a lot of information in one place.

And most of all, remember to enjoy yourself! This is a special time, and at the end of the day, nothing can diminish your hard work, creativity, and the amazing accomplishment of releasing your own book!

What can authors do to make the most of their time stuck at home?

We at Books Forward know how important this time is for our authors and readers alike. People are going back to basics and reading more than ever (let’s take that good news where we can!).  Sitting at home, readers are wondering “What can I read today?” while Authors are wondering “How can these readers get a copy of my book?” We are here to be that clotheslines between the two! Grab your pegs and pulley that fresh book into their (hopefully) clean hands with a few of these easy tips!

Audience 

Start with your reader –  Who  are they?! And find them! 

  1. Who is your audience? What do they look like? What stores do they shop at? How old are they? Are they married, single,  young, old…  You get the point! Narrow down that audience as best as you can and go after that using hashtags and similar accounts.
  2. Comparable authors – This is a trick that can help you not only find your audience, but find out what works best for that author, which in turn could work well for you! What content are they posting? Where do they get the most engagement? Follow some of their audience and engage. 

Photos

We live in a very visual society – which *err* doesn’t really help us wordsmiths –  but if a visual photo is going to give them incentive to read your caption or better yet your book then we have to think about the immediate bait. With some extra free time at home, why not try to snap a few good photos for content? If a photo is going to get your readers hooked, then let’s reel them in.

Tips for photos:

  • Lighting! Lighting! Lighting! In this day and age, most smart phones carry a quality camera. However, to get the best quality of the camera, you need to take pictures in natural lighting. Move your camera around different angles to see how the light affects your photo. Shoot outside if that helps (*Insiders Tip*  A photographer’s favorite day, is overcast – not too bright and not  too gloomy)
  • Editing Apps: You can download free editing apps such as ColorStory, Afterlight and VSCO but to avoid being overly complicated, most phones have an editing option right in the photo. 
  • Editing Tips:
    • Lightning: Don’t brighten it too much, but adding a little extra can make your photo look extra professional!
    • Crop: Don’t be shy to take a photo as is and use the crop tool to clean it up!
  • Content: Not every photo has to be a perfect photo, people want to see the real you so feel free to share a recipe here and there, your writing setup, your morning coffee routine,, your family – anything that may pull readers in to who you are and how you write. Inspire them!

Easy Photo Examples:

1- Flat Lay: Greenery, or flowers can help bring color to your photo! Place your book on a stool, a chair or table – add greenery around it and voila!

2- Add in textures and colors that you have lying around the house! Where’s your reading spot? Maybe your writing desk? A fun angle: Hold out your book  below using one hand, and snapping the photo with your other:)

3- Use different covers and mediums of how you can listen or read your book!

4- Furry Friends are welcome! People love pets – sneak in those hashtags of your dog’s breed and find new followers that love books &  pets too!

5- Bookstacks – Share with your readers, what you’re reading or what inspires you! Sharing your name and associating with other authors always gives good perception. Tag them and see if they repost it!

6- Don’t be too shy to get in the shot! Set up a timer or have a friend/family member to take a picture of you writing or reading. Get that book plug in there too  by having it somewhere in the frame;)!

Instagram LIVE

This is a great new tool for creatives. Although, it may seem terrifying to go live – It’s a great way to  connect! *just remember to turn on AND off the camera*

Here are a few ways you can use this tool:

1- Pair up with another author! They can be in the Books Forward family or a fellow author you know. Schedule a time, share it with your fans on both socials and choose to ask each  other questions about the writing process, or any chapters in your book etc. You  can have a theme or it can just be a quick happy hour chat!

2- The new donation button – This tool is a great way to get readers to buy  your book on the spot. OR, you  can use this tool to pick a charity and raise money during your Live. Team up and Tag!

https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/instagram-adds-live-donations-feature-for-fundraising-via-instagram-live/576951/ 

Facebook LIVE

Again, another great tool to reach out to people on that platform! You can do a  reading hour, where you read and discuss a section of your book, throw a launch party, cook your favorite meal- anything that helps create content, tags other accounts and promotes your book at the same time is a good recipe!

Example:

1 –  Authors, David & Julie Bulitt LIVE making their favorite drinks in the kitchen!

https://www.facebook.com/172783613413991/videos/235977604179931/ 

2- Author Katie Burke, jumped on a Zoom call with local bookshop The Booksmith and a few kids from her book “Urban Playground;  What Kids Say About Living in San Francisco.”

https://www.facebook.com/172783613413991/videos/235977604179931/  

REVIEWS

Don’t be shy to reach out to  Instagram, Facebook or any book reviewers and offer a copy of your book in exchange for a post! Now, on Amazon you can send an ebook as a gift, super easy and practical for social distancing! 

All in all, social media is a great tool but you have to be patient with it. The more time you spend engaging, creating content and connecting with people you will start to see your numbers grow – Remember, consistency is key! It’s a clothesline, where you need to hang each item up one by one –  give it time. Unfortunately, social media is not an automatic dryer. *welp*

Books Forward Authors Provide Virtual Learning Opportunities at Home

Dear booksellers, librarians, parents, teachers, avid readers, book club members and other eager learners,

We have been so touched (and impressed!) with how you’ve kept yourselves and your networks engaged and learning during this difficult time. Our Books Forward author family wants to help by providing a variety of free virtual learning opportunities and story times!

Our children’s and adult fiction and nonfiction authors are available for sessions via Zoom, Skype and other platforms. We can coordinate a special day of readings, discussions and inspiring lessons, covering everything from the writing craft to science experiments to nature exploration and much more. Below, you’ll find some fantastic opportunities tailored specifically for children, tweens and teens, as well as many options for adult readers.

We’ve also partnered with Book Club Babble to help your book club go virtual during social distancing, and to connect you with bestselling and award-winning authors.

Email our coordinator Erica Martin at erica@booksforward.com with your requests, and we’ll arrange a virtual visit (or few) perfect for you!

VIRTUAL READINGS, DISCUSSIONS AND LESSON OFFERINGS:

Writing and Poetry

  • An advocate for marginalized voices in both publishing and her community, YA fantasy novelist J. Elle offers a tailored writing instruction video for your class.
  • USA Today bestselling novelist and Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day founder Jenny Milchman leads a virtual writers group for kids and teens.
  • Children can write poetry with Jet Widick, whose poems center around our everyday experiences and taking delight in the present moment.
  • Literacy instructional coach Caroline DuBois teaches writing in verse and shares supplementary educational materials for her forthcoming middle grade historical novel written in verse, The Places We Sleep.
  • Middle grade author Corabel Shofner shows how characters have a mind of their own and that settings hold a story in place and time, along with other writing prompts.
  • Historical novelist Donna Baier Stein helps budding writers find inspiration for stories by challenging them to find a piece of art in their homes and write a short story based on it (an activity that inspired her own book, Scenes From the Heartland). 
  • Crime thriller author Ed Aymar teaches the importance of diversity in fiction, with narrative techniques for getting it right.
  • Christine Meade, professional editor and author of the new thriller The Way You Burn, offers a writing lesson on how to craft tension, suspense and mystery in narrative form.
  • Love romance novels? Learn how romance author L.A. Long crafts her beguiling characters, gripping plot lines and simmering scenes.

Science & Nature

  • Children’s book author Cole W. Williams invites young ones on a journey with Dr. Brainchild as they discover how creativity, some wacky inventions and science can transform the ordinary into something EXTRA tasty!
  • Dr. Sam Stea offers classrooms and kids a practical introduction to discussing climate change through a fascinating YA climate-fiction adventure story.
  • Tracy Richardson shows there is more to our world than meets the eye with her environmentally-themed, science-fiction YA series.
  • Fine gardener Monique Allen, founder and creative director of The Garden Continuum, offers unique gardening tips, advice and how-tos for cultivating outdoor spaces that reduce stress, promote creativity and sustain the environment. 
  • Naturalist David Parrish offers a fresh understanding of the natural world for nonscientists. Whether you’re curious about sustainability or the accuracy of “The Big Bang Theory” theme song, Parrish will move you to think like a scientist in his insightful, unconventional — and often humorous — approach to biology.
  • How advanced is surveillance technology in the U.S., and how far could it go? Sci-fi thriller author Michael C. Bland details the uses (and abuses) of current surveillance technology and explains why “the future of tech” has already arrived.

Personal Development, Mental & Physical Health

  • Research psychologist Rachel Kowert initiates conversations with children about diversity and inclusion. Her latest book Pragmatic Princess: 26 Superb Stories of Self-Sufficiency inspires young minds to build their own castles and change the damsel in distress narrative to one of self-reliance (with the power of science behind it)!
  • San Francisco columnist and family law attorney Katie Burke demonstrates strategies to encourage open communication with kids about their living environments and other complex (and fun!) topics.
  • Missing that after-church fellowship? Christian novelist Annette H. Valentine hosts a “brunch chat” about books, family, children’s education, Bible study and God’s love.
  • Divorce lawyer and family therapist David and Julie Bulitt offer communication techniques and activities for families during this time of extra “togetherness.”
  • Caregiving expert Donna Figurski shares self-care tips and guidance for how people can still take care of themselves and find support while caring for others.
  • Lisa Boucher shares healthy ways to cope with the temptation to drink out of boredom and how to stay sober when dealing with elevated anxiety, job loss, etc. 
  • After 20 years as VP of publicity for Estee Lauder, Phyllis Melhado took a “second chance” with her life and began a career as a writer, and now she teaches how you can embrace your “second chance” as well.
  • Fifth-degree black belt Tori Eldridge teaches simple martial arts moves and exercises that help channel energy, work out restlessness or frustration, get focused, and have fun!

History & Literature 

  • Wendy Terrien explores the mythology behind her critically-acclaimed YA fantasy series and introduces viewers to the beloved canine rescues who inspired her stories.
  • Historical thriller novelist Samuel Marquis relays some of the most dynamic, fascinating and engaging real-life stories of battles and bravery that occurred during World War II.
  • Inspired by photographer Dorthea Lange’s gender-defying antics during the Great Depression, and her own personal family’s history in the Dust Bowl, Shelley Blanton-Stroud offers a fascinating look back at women’s unconventional antics to survive (and thrive).
  • Michelle Cameron offers a guided tour through a little-known, important period in history: Napoleon’s emancipation of the Jews from Italian ghettos in the 1790s, which still has reverberations in our world today.

Business

  • Designer Justin Dauer (author of Creative Culture) shares fresh, insightful and, well, creative ideas for keeping employees engaged and motivated while working from home.
  • Want professional advice on how to secure your retirement during these uncertain times? Legal consultant Ida Abbott provides video consultations for those interested in retirement planning and financial security.

Humor

  • Join comedian and author Dani Alpert for a happy hour discussing unique family dynamics (and how to channel breakup-related grief to a hilarious memoir) from her own experiences as the Girlfriend Mom. 
  • Need a laugh right now? Humor writer Lori Duff shares funny oh-so-real life stories that demonstrate to us (especially women and parents) that we have no choice but to laugh at our failures, no matter how spectacular, and rejoice in our successes, no matter how itty-bitty.
  • Comedic novelist Brandy Ferner encourages children to brave the unknown (safely!), and moms can enjoy a chat with Brandy about the relentlessness of motherhood.

Don’t see a specific lesson you’re looking for? We have other opportunities available from our roster of bestselling authors and varied experts. Email Erica Martin at erica@booksforward.com and let us know what you need!

And if you need help with downloading ebooks or audiobooks to read at home, check out our #BooksForwardHelpline for guides, reading recommendations and other resources.

“Indoorsman” expert meets quarantine with inspirational humor

Pastor, expert “indoorsman” and award-winning author John Driver provides some comic relief during this time of social distancing and staying indoors.

Co-author of the bestselling book Vertical Marriage, as well as the autobiography of the inspiring Purdue superfan Tyler Trent, Driver adds his uplifting voice to the conversation surrounding COVID-19 with his comedic and faith-based survival guide for the “indoorsman.”

The Ultimate Guide For The Avid Indoorsman: Life is Better in Here teaches readers how to fully embrace the indoor lifestyle. This hilarious handbook provides tips and tricks to help you thrive in your comfy, climate-controlled world. Learn the finer art of setting up a perfect home theater, cleaning with minimal effort, developing indoor hobbies, etc. – and take the complimentary online Indooreagram Quiz.

Driver is putting something into the hands of people trying to survive the extended indoor lifestyle that will brighten their mood amid all the chaos. He knows the power of a good book – and laugh – can soothe the soul and calm the spirit. At a time when fear surrounds us, Driver hopes to remind us all we have to be grateful for within four walls.

Working from home new to you? 7 career writers show how to do it best.

Professional writers and published authors are experts at the work-from-home game; they have spent weeks, months and even years at their home computers in pursuit of their chosen profession. Their dedication results in finished manuscripts and published books, so they’re a great resource for those new to working remotely.

Maybe your boss has closed the office doors for COVID-19, and now you’re home in front of your laptop, still in your PJ’s, ready (or not) to embrace work-from-home life. Your morning commute now consists of the walk from your bed to your computer, and there’s no need for office attire (out of the video conference’s camera view, anyway). That part sounds pretty nice—right?

The truth is that working from home is like being an author: it sounds almost universally appealing in theory, but in practice it’s a lot more challenging than most people realize. Now unsupervised, those little social media breaks, furtive Netflix episodes and other distractions can really pile up. Keeping a consistent schedule may seem easy at first, but over time your discipline starts to slide and you become less organized. Perhaps most surprisingly, it can be lonely. You may not miss your coworkers, but as the days go on, that absent human interaction might make you go a little stir crazy. 

And if your kids are home as well due to school closures, well: that’s a whole different ball game. 

Here are some helpful tips from career writers on successfully working from home: 

  1. Determine your strengths and weaknesses. 

“I would suggest that people new to working from home figure out their strengths and weaknesses—strengths so that you can lean into them, and weaknesses so you can try to rein yourself in. I have to be on social media for #authorlife, but it’s hard to know when to stop. So I use an app to keep myself off social media when I need to be focused. I also use noise-cancelling headphones and a soundtrack that I put together for each book. My strength is that I can get a lot done when I’m focused, but I do have to make sure I am scheduled for it, or the day quickly falls away. Oh, and I try to block off days from meetings and calls so that I have some days dedicated to whatever nearest deadline I have.” Lori Rader Day, Edgar Award-nominated and Anthony and Mary Higgins Clark award-winning author of multiple thrillers, including most recently The Lucky One

  1. Schedule out your breaks. 

“The biggest advantage for me when I work from home is the ability to get started earlier in the day. I find that I’m most creative in the morning, but typically mornings are spent getting myself ready for work and the kids ready for school, then sitting in traffic for 45 minutes. So, when I have the opportunity to work from home I love waking up early and sitting down to write. Everything I accomplish before 10 a.m. seems like gravy. Given all the distractions at home, I try to just acknowledge them rather than fight them. I’ll schedule time to look at my phone, do the laundry, clean my closet, go for a walk, or just take a snack break. Having that time set aside helps keep me from taking a million mini-breaks.” Andrew Maraniss, New York Times bestselling author of Strong Inside: Perry Wallace and the Collision of Race and Sports in the South

  1. Create an inspiring designated workspace, and find a comfortable position.

“A great technique for enhancing creativity at home is to bring elements of Nature into your workspace, whether by means of outdoor views, desk plants, scents, abundant daylight, colors, decorative motifs, or artwork. Best of all, these same environmental cues also reduce stress—a welcome salve for these trying times. Try writing while reclining rather than sitting. Research shows that the part of our brain responsible for raising alertness deactivates when we assume this posture, which in turn makes us more relaxed and open to taking creative risks. It certainly seems to have worked for people like Michael Chabon, Truman Capote, and Virginia Woolf! If you’re feeling a bit cooped up, try looking at pictures and objects from the past, like personal memorabilia and souvenirs from trips taken. Besides mentally releasing you from your physical confines, psychologists say it can also boost idea output by putting you in a more abstract, big-picture state of mind.” Donald M. Rattner, My Creative Space: How to Design Your Home to Stimulate Ideas and Spark Innovation 

  1. Stay in contact with others—but also set some boundaries. 

“Working from home can be isolating, so it’s important to reach out to others as part of your work day (or after your work day for fun!). As humans we need connection with other people. You can connect with others even while at home through phone, email, video chat, private messaging, texting…there are so many options. I’ve found that when I’m working long, hard hours alone that video chat, even just a five minute call, feels the most connected to me because I see the other person’s face as well as hear their voice. Skype, WhatsApp, and even Facebook Messenger are great, easy-to-use video chat options…I’ve also found that in working from home it’s important to have boundaries. Boundaries for other people, to let them know when you are working and don’t want to be disturbed. And boundaries for yourself, to make sure that you don’t work yourself too hard (I’ve been known to still be editing or writing at 10pm), or too little (social media is a huge distraction, especially when we need to be on it as authors). I think it’s also important to build in little pockets of relaxation, play, and reward.” Cheryl Rainfield, author of Scars, the No. 1 American Library Association’s “Top 10 Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers”

  1. Use the tools available to you to increase your productivity and focus.

“Whether you are quarantined because you have come in contact with someone who was exposed to the coronavirus, or you are limiting social contact voluntarily, turn the reduced level of activity into a positive for your work-in-progress. Set clear identifiable goals such as writing to plot point X or finishing chapter Y or set specific word count goals, and resist the temptation to look at the news until you have finished. Use an app such as Freedom or even write longhand to stay off the internet and keep yourself from constantly checking updates. Rely on social media to stay connected with other writers, or start a private email chain between writers you know. Share daily progress, talk over the scary current reality, and cheer each other on. Despite the scary time we are living in, you may find this an especially productive time.” Jenny Milchman, USA Today bestselling author of Cover of Snow and forthcoming The Second Mother

  1. Put together a playlist that helps you focus, and only listen when you work. 

When I write from home, I curl up in an overstuffed reading chair with my laptop. Though those writing sessions are not easy for me, I get through them by playing classical music, which I don’t listen to at any other time, but which works well for my writing because it seems to focus my brain on the writing task.” Katie Burke, author of the family-focused conversation starter Urban Playground

  1. Remember to enjoy your life regardless of circumstances.

Take advantage of this restrictive time to clear clutter out of your basement, pull weeds in the garden, or get caught up on projects you’ve neglected for a while. It helps to have water-tight boundaries so you can focus on your job. Treat your work space as if it’s miles away. If possible, only go there to work. Keep it at arm’s-length after hours. Don’t allow intrusions to cause you to lose your focus or procrastinate: doing laundry, vacuuming, or organizing your spice rack. When not working enjoy other areas of your home: gardening, watching a good movie, reading a book, or cooking a fun meal. And lead as much of a full social life as possible such as having non-symptomatic friends over for dinner. Be creative and don’t let your circumstances dwarf your tranquility, happiness, or productivity. Your greatest power is your perspective. It can victimize you or empower you when you look for the upside in a downside situation and figure out what you can control and what you can’t and accept the things you can’t. That’s survival of the fittest.” Bryan Robinson, author of #CHILL and more than 40 other nonfiction books and novels

 

JKS Communications celebrates 20 years with launch of Books Forward publicity and Books Fluent publishing

Veteran book publicity firm JKS Communications has been moving books forward for 20 years, and the company is proud to celebrate this anniversary with the launch of two new companies under its brand. Books Forward will continue the signature creative, customized book marketing and author publicity campaigns, and a new indie publishing division, Books Fluent, will provide professional editorial, design and publishing services. 

BOOKS FORWARD

JKS has promoted more than 700 authors, small presses, literary award programs and publishing houses since 2000. The Books Forward team will continue to represent both traditionally published authors and independently published books that meet high industry standards. Services include traditional publicity through mainstream and book-centric media, book tour development, author branding and digital marketing.

Books Forward has a particular passion for books that empower, inspire and move the world forward. Clients include New York Times bestselling author Andrew Maraniss, whose award-winning historical nonfiction examines race and social justice through sports; USA Today bestselling author Jenny Milchman, famous for the “world’s longest book tour”; YA author J. Elle, set to release her #ownvoices debut after garnering attention through a social media campaign; Mary Higgins Clark award winner and national president of Sisters in Crime Lori Rader-Day; indie published success story S.B. Alexander, who later helped Books Forward build its digital marketing division; “The World is Just a Book Away” anthology of stories from Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Academy Award and Golden Globe winning actresses and other world leaders; Chaithanya Sohan, who explores themes of home and belonging in the U.S. through immigrant stories; Holocaust survivor and scholar Laureen Nussbaum, who shines light on unsung heros; and #1 YALSA Top Ten Quick Pick author Cheryl Rainfield, an international child abuse and feminist advocate.

“Our foundation is built on veteran journalists, giving our team a unique strength. Through national media outlets, we share books to make the world a better and brighter place,” the company’s President Marissa DeCuir said. “And it’s that love of meaningful stories that powers our team to share authors’ important messages, and inspire readers with engaging fiction and nonfiction. The world needs some positivity, and readers crave books that matter — to them and to our world.”

BOOKS FLUENT

JKS’ new indie publishing company, Books Fluent, transforms manuscripts into high-quality commercial books that equal or exceed industry standards. 

Having guided authors through the self-publishing process for years, Books Fluent’s team of industry experts expands upon these services. The company offers professional book editing, on-trend cover design and interior layout, savvy distribution plans, and management of ISBNs, copyrights, and other nitty gritty tasks.

Books Fluent’s expertise empowers authors to learn the unique language of this industry and become successful publishers, rising above the competition of more than 3 million books released every year.

CELEBRATING 20 YEARS

Books Forward and Books Fluent will celebrate their launches throughout 2020 with prizes, special announcements and exclusive opportunities for authors and readers alike — including one grand prize of a free book publicity campaign for an author working to help move the world forward. To enter, submit an application here

As part of the company’s continued mission to elevate voices, Books Forward is also launching the #booksforward campaign to celebrate all the incredible ways stories have made the world a better place. Book lovers are encouraged to join the conversation by using the hashtag and sharing about literature that has impacted their lives.

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Facebook: facebook.com/BooksForward