Blog to Book Project — Blog Tours

authorcopies

A traditional book tour is when an author takes his or her book on the road stopping at bookstores, coffee shops, and libraries to do presentations or book signings.  A blog tour involves your book being featured on different blogs and websites over a specific time period. The dates are set in advance like a book tour, and each article or post is unique to the site or blog hosting it.  A related idea is the blog blitz. This is when your book is featured on different blogs or websites, but on the same day.

Book bloggers are an excellent choice to include in your blog tour. Reedsy has a large list of book bloggers you can find here. Other places you might consider are websites that are in your niche. For instance, if you write about health topics, perhaps a health blogger would be interested in featuring your book.

You can provide an ARC (advanced review copy) to bloggers and website owners that would like to review your book. You also could provide promotional information or an exclusive excerpt for those that don’t have time to read it before your launch date. Don’t forget about podcasts, giveaways, or author interviews as potential promotional material for your blog tour.

You should organize your blog tour about six weeks before your book launch so that bloggers and web site owners have time to schedule your feature post during the time immediately before and after your launch.  Make sure to include how readers can purchase your book as well as sharing the post on your social media channels. Take the time to visit and comment on the blog or website that is hosting your blog tour that day.

Assignment: Plan a blog tour.

***

ebook cover
Click on the image for a preview!

Blog to Book Project — Improving Your Chances of Becoming an Amazon Best Seller

resized_bestsellerEveryone wants to be the author of a best seller. Once you have that moniker, chances are you’ll sell more books because people are drawn to success. You might also have more opportunities to promote your business, speak as an authority at functions, and make more money. It’s a status thing. 

Becoming a best-selling author on Amazon isn’t always easy, but there are a few things you can do to increase the odds in your favor.

Bestseller status is calculated by Amazon with actual book sales. A book that successfully reaches #1 has recently sold more than any other book in that category. Sales aren’t consistent across Amazon sites. Therefore, if your book is selling well in the U.K., it might not meet the count to become a U.S. bestseller. 

Amazon’s bestseller algorithm has a predictive component. So a sudden spike in sales might not be enough to launch your book among the stars. You’ll have more success with a sustained period of high sales. 

You can increase your chances of hitting that bestseller mark by taking a serious look at your:

  • Categories
  • Keywords
  • Cover
  • Title and subtitle
  • Blurb
  • Reviews
  • Introduction

categories

Categories

When you uploaded your book, you had the option to choose two categories that you felt best represented the theme of your work. What you might not know is that you can request up to eight more categories, as long as you can justify your book being classified in that way. All you need to do is contact the KDP people (http://www.kdp.amazon.com/contact-us) with that request.

You should research your category choices carefully. Sometimes, the same categories are not available for print books as they are for Kindle books. Ideally, to improve your chances of best-seller status, you should look for categories that don’t have a lot of competition but still fit your book’s theme.

You can see all the current categories for Kindle books here and for print books here.

Keywords

If you want the right readers to find your book, keywords are another important aspect. You’ll have the option to include up to seven keywords when you upload your manuscript. Don’t be afraid to use phrases instead of single words here. For example, “How to retire in Mexico” is probably more searchable then just “retirement.”

Make sure your keywords don’t violate Amazon’s policies. The key is to think like a reader. If you were searching for your book, what phrases would you use? Do some searching on Amazon and see what results you get.  

Cover

A picture is worth a thousand words. Make sure your cover is eye-catching and representative of your book. 

Title and Subtitle

An interesting title and subtitle that hints at what readers will find inside, or outright tell them, will improve sales.

Book Blurb

The book description is key to convincing readers who are on the fence about your book. Make sure your book blurb shines.

Book Reviews

Readers give often quite a bit of credence to the opinion of others when it comes to their book selections. Work on getting quality book reviews.

Attention-Grabbing Introduction

With the Look Inside option, you have the chance to dazzle your potential reader with your prose. Don’t waste this opportunity with acknowledgments or other items that can be moved to the back matter.

Once you’ve tweaked these factors to optimize your chances, then the best thing you can do to reach bestseller stardom is to write a great book and market the heck out of it. 

Assignment: Optimize your book for bestseller status.

***

book it book cover

Blog to Book Project –Author Newsletter

An author newsletter is also an excellent way to market your book. However, don’t be book self-promoting every single time. So if you aren’t selling, what are you writing about in your newsletter?

You should write content that would be interesting to your readers. Providing useful, informative, or entertaining particulars increase the chance that your readers will peruse, read, and maybe even look forward to your periodic missives.

If you are a middle-ages romance novelist, perhaps you could share some historical tidbits you discovered while researching your soon to be released Scottish highland book. If you write about homesteading, how-to articles are always well-received.

Get your readers involved with polls or surveys. What do they want to read about? Which cover is more appealing? What would they do if….?

Share your upcoming promotions. If you had a book signing recently, write about it. Include pictures and links to where newsletter subscribers can get a signed copy for themselves. If you do a podcast, include a link. If you have a Q&A session on Facebook Live coming up, invite them to join you.

Tell an entertaining or embarrassing personal story. Talk about how your cat Fluffy has been helping or hindering you as you write your soon-to-be-released book. Give readers your writing playlist, favorite inspirational quotes, or writer’s block brownie recipe. Bonus points if you can tie in your next book.

You could include articles written from the perspective of your book characters. Or tie in the holidays to an upcoming or past book. Remember when Janie broke Paul’s heart right before Christmas in Jingle Bells, Chrismas Sucks–A Holiday Romance? Well, this Christmas, here’s how you can avoid family drama…

A newsletter helps you make a personal connection with your readers. Those that sign up are already interested in your books, so why not capitalize on it? Unlike Facebook or Twitter, you own the newsletter. You don’t have to worry about changing algorithms affecting the visibility of your posts or having the platform disappear completely. Remember Google +?

Mailchimp has free plans, pay-as-you-go plans, as well as several other monthly plans. With any plan, you can use ready-made templates to drag and drop your content, links, and images. The free plan allows you to contact up to 2,000 subscribers and send up to 12,000 emails per month. Because Mailchimp integrates with Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress, readers can sign up for your newsletter through these platforms as well.

Another email option is Mailerlite. The free plan will let you contact up to 1,000 subscribers and send 12,000 emails per month.

Remember not to spam your subscribers and to include an unsubscribe option at the bottom of the newsletter.

Post a link to your newsletter sign-up page on your Twitter, Facebook, and website. Offer a freebie in exchange for their opt-in. You could offer sample chapters, novellas, checklists, writing tips and tricks, or something else that you think your readers might enjoy.

The key to a successful newsletter is offering content that has value, such as useful information, personal connection, free/bargain books, and so on. If you don’t think you are up to the task, then don’t try to force yourself to create a newsletter. Focus on other methods of social media publicity instead.

***

ebook cover

June 2020 Book Releases

ebook cover
Click on the image for a preview!

FREE today! Book Weaving: How to Create a Story Tapestry From Your Blog Threads is designed for bloggers who want to make something tangible from their blog posts. 

herb cover

The eBook version of Exploring Traditional Herbal Remedies in Mexico is now available for download for those of you that purchased it as a pre-order. The eBook version is a fraction of the price of the paperback version, so you’re getting quite a deal!

I’m working on a three-book series about self-publishing this month, so look for that announcement in the (hopefully) near future.

Blog to Book Project–Examining the Drawbacks to Self-Publishing on Amazon

There are a number of excellent self-publishing platforms out there, but Amazon is by far the largest. Although no one knows for sure, many experts estimate that there are currently 6 million eBooks and a total of 48.5 million books available for sale on Amazon. Amazon has cornered the market on approximately 40% of the self-published eBook market. This overreading vastness can be both a blessing and a bane.

Amazon has made it easy to self-publish. However, Amazon also sets the price you can sell at. If you notice, most eBooks listed on Amazon that are not written by authors like Toni Morrison or Stephen King are under $5. As an author, you get only pennies for books read through KOLL and Kindle Unlimited.

On the other hand, forcing you to keep your eBook price low can work to your advantage. As an unknown author, readers may be more apt to take a chance on your book at bargain prices than they would if they had to shell out more than $10 to get their hands on it.

Print book prices are also set by Amazon. You can not offer your book for a price lower than what Amazon decrees, which sometimes prices your book far outside of the average person’s book budget. Which in turn, encourages readers to enroll in Kindle Unlimited where they can read an unlimited number of books for a set price while you get shafted on royalties.

With the sheer number of books that are available on Amazon, your contribution to the literary world may get overlooked. Amazon offers to help you out through paid advertisements, but it may not be worth the money you invest in them, especially if you are just starting out. You’d do better to devote more time on marketing strategies outside of Amazon even if you are redirecting potential readers to your book listing on Amazon. We’ll talk about ways you can do that in the course too.

As you can see, publishing on Amazon can be a writer’s dream-come-true or nightmare.

Blog to Book Project — Discussion Questions

If you think your book would be something a class or book club would enjoy discussing, consider adding a section with open-ended questions in the back matter.  This part might be called Discussion Questions or Book Club Guide or any number of imaginative monikers.

The questions might talk about the theme, historical significance, character development or symbology. Don’t be hesitant to pose questions about controversial themes. The idea is to provoke further thought and meaningful conversation. 

Make sure the questions you include can be answered either through something the reader can find in the text or with a bit of research. Other questions can be expressed opinions. 

Try to include a good mix of the following:

  • Why…..?
  • How would you explain….?
  • What is the importance of ….?
  • What is the meaning of …?
  • Compare….
  • Contrast …
  • What is the difference between…?
  • What is the similarity between…?
  • What are the causes of …? 
  • What are the results of …?
  • What connection is there between…?

You can divide the questions by chapter however try to keep them in the same order as the topics appear in the text. You can choose to number the questions if you like.

Designing discussion questions is a great way to put yourself into your reader’s shoes. Is there something that should be explained more or is unclear in your book? Now’s the time to go back and edit it.

Assignment: Even if you don’t plan on including this section, take the time to create at least 20 questions that would be useful in leading a thought-provoking discussion about your book. Are there things you need to change? 

Blog to Book Project — Genealogy or List of Characters

Although most often found in fiction books, you may also want to include a List of Characters in your blog to book project if it would be hard for the reader to keep track of the people and relationships in your story without a guide. You can organize the list by order of appearance or family groups or overlapping relationships, whichever would be most useful for the reader.

You can eliminate some of the confusion in your book by using the same nicknames or given names throughout the story. Don’t call the neighbor Fred in one chapter and Mr. Miller in the next. Be consistent. 

It might be useful to include a genealogy in some situations especially if there is something unique about the family tree that pertains to the story. For instance, the main characters might be cousins twice removed that had met at a family reunion as children and reconnected as adults. Instead of going through the intricacies in the text, a mere mention with reference to the genealogy at the beginning of the book might suffice. 

There are many free templates available online to help you create an attractive genealogy to include in your book. 

Assignment: Create a List of Characters or Geneology for your book. Review your book to make sure you are consistent in name-use.

Blog to Book Project — Conclusion or Epilogue

An epilogue is found mostly in fiction books. This is a short section that concludes the end of the story. It might take place immediately after the events of the story or there could be a leap of years or decades. It can also be used to segue into another series of events that are covered in a sequel to the book.

In a non-fiction book, this section could be called the Conclusion. A conclusion wraps up any loose ends the book doesn’t address. It might talk about what happened to the people mentioned in the book later or if the events in the book predated or caused other historically significant occurrences.

Both an epilogue and conclusion are written as if they were part of the book. If the point of view is different than that of the main text, then this section is properly termed an Afterword. 

The Conclusion or Epilogue should only be a page or two. If you can’t wrap things up properly at that point, either continue in a sequel or go back to the main book and add more chapters. 

Assignment: Write the Conclusion of your book. Is everything summed up nicely? Are loose ends tied off? Will there be another book that continues the story? This would be the place to mention that. 

Blog to Book Project — List of Contributors

If anyone contributed to your book, this is also where their information would be listed under the heading entitled List of Contributors. 

This section is not the same as the acknowledgments page although you are acknowledging the contributions of these people. It is more than a simple thank you

The List of Contributors includes relevant biographical information, like membership in certain organizations, current position demonstrating expertise in an area, academic affiliations or published works.

Contributors are listed in alphabetical order by last name but written in standard order. So Henry S. Pingleton is not written Pingleton, Henry S. but as Henry S. Pingleton and comes before Johnny Quimby and after Yori Oliver.

You might include editors, translators, publishers, agents, professional proofreaders, or professors in this section. Librarians and research assistants deserve their due as well. Don’t feel as if you have to include every publication each contributor wrote in this list. Instead, include the one or two most relevant to your book topic. 

Assignment: Consider whether you need a formal List of Contributors or can get by with the more formal Acknowledgements.