Blog to Book Project–Advanced Reader’s/Reviewer’s Copies (ARC)

ARC stands for Advanced Reader’s (or Reviewer’s) Copy. It’s a copy of your book that you give to someone before your official book launch. The idea is for these reviewers or Beta readers to have access to your writing so that you can gather testimonials, feedback, and even reviews before your book is published.

So how do you get an ARC copy if your book isn’t published yet? Well, it depends on the publishing platform you are using and the formatting template you chose.

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Amazon allows you to order a publisher’s proof before your print book goes live so that you can check for formatting errors. The publisher’s proof is exactly how your book will look once it’s released, provided you don’t make any changes, except there is a message on the cover that states it is a proof and not for resale. As an author, you can purchase up to five copies at a time. You’ll be able to send these as gifts to Beta readers, reviewers, or book bloggers.

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If you are using Pressbooks as your book formatting template, you have a few digital options. You can download your book in PDF, EPUB, or MOBI format to your computer and then just send the file via email. You can also provide the link to your webbook. The address of your webbook is what you see when you click on “Visit Book.”

If you are using Microsoft Word, you can also download a .docx or PDF version you can send to reviewers. Honestly, these are my least favorite format to receive when reading books. When I can, I take the time to use a converter to change the file to MOBI for easier reading on my Kindle. I use Zamzar, which is free online.

You could also publish your book but not publicize the fact. This technique is known as a soft launch. You can gift books to reviewers, or set up a free promotion so that readers can get a copy without buying it just yet. Remember, though, for the review to carry weight with Amazon, it needs to be a verified purchase.

So, another way to provide the book at a discounted is to set the price at $0.99 during the time you are looking for reviews. Then when you are ready for your official book launch, change the price to what you usually would be asking for your book. That way, those reviewers you purchased your book at $0.99 will be able to publish a verified review.

When sending out your advanced reviewer’s copies, be sure to ask what format the reader would like to receive their copy of the book. Also, be sure to include launch day information, so readers have an idea of how long they have to read the book, and any testimonials and reviews will be ready before then. A reviewer should always disclose the fact that he or she received an ARC in their review.

Remember, you can’t force someone to leave a review even if you have given your book away for free. A few reminder emails are ok but don’t start badgering people. Nor can you control what a person might write in a review. You may get some bad reviews. Decide if what the person says is valid or not, then either do some editing or let it go.

Assignment: Decide how you will distribute your ARC.

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ebook cover
Click on the image for a preview!

Blog to Book Project — Blog Tours

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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.

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ebook cover
Click on the image for a preview!

Blog to Book Project — Six-Month Book Launch Timeline

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After you’ve finished your book, done extensive proofreading, had another set of eyes look at it for editing issues, and check your formatting, you should organize your book launch. In this chapter, you’ll find a six-month book launch (six months before and six months after), but you can adapt the timing and suggested marketing to fit your needs.

Before your book launch, you should have your Author Website, Facebook Author Page, Twitter, and Pinterest accounts already set up and be sharing interesting non-launch information regularly. If not, time to get on the stick about it. Continue sharing value-filled content during the entire launch period, with sporadic promotional posts.

Six Months Before Launch

  • Post a cover reveal across your social media sites.
  • Conversely, if you haven’t decided on a final cover design yet, you can poll your followers. Ask them which design do they prefer and why.

Five Months Before Launch

  • Add your book blurb to your Author Website and share it on your social media channels.
  • If you’ve already uploaded your manuscript to the publishing platform of your choice, make it available for pre-order.

Four Months Before Launch

  • Spark some interest in your newsletter.
  • Offer an incentive for readers to opt-in. You could send them a sample chapter, a character description quiz, a useful checklist based on your upcoming book’s topic, set up a challenge for your readers, or offer exclusive content in the form of a webinar or audio file.
  • Make sure to include a reference to your soon-to-be-released book someplace in the newsletter and on the opt-in page.
  • Share the opt-in lead magnet on your social media networks.

Three Months Before Launch

  • Update your author profiles on all your social media platforms. Include information about pre-ordering your book.
  • Continue providing content through your newsletter and Author Website.
  • Share a glimpse of your author’s life while you were writing the book.
  • Talk about the inspiration behind the book.

Two Months Before Launch

  • Create some marketing images. Use images from your book or your book cover. Add quotes from the book, author quotes, or testimonials from others if you have them.
  • Remember to provide a way for readers to pre-order your book as you post them on social media.
  • Send out the call for ARC (Advanced Review Copy) readers. Get your book into their hands as soon as possible.
  • Contact Book Bloggers to see if they would be interested in an ARC to review on their blogs.

One Month Before Launch

  • Create some countdown social posts using Canva. One month, one week, x days until the launch.
  • Share your book trailer.
  • Post an excerpt or first chapter on your Author Website. Generate some anticipation.
  • Create a Pinterest board about the book. Think outside the box here. If you are writing historical fiction, pin relevant facts, locations, even period furniture. If your book is non-fiction, pin articles you used in your research.
  • Begin your book blog tour.

Launch Day

  • Send out a launch day newsletter.
  • Post “Launching Today” posts across your social media networks.
  • Update your social media headers to highlight your book.
  • Email your ARC and Beta readers letting them know the book is ready for verified reviews.
  • Hold a launch party. Broadcast snippets live or share them afterward.
  • Post public thank you for event coordinators and share pictures of you and your book enjoying the party.

One Month After Launch

  • Continue your book blog tour.
  • Contact other authors to do some cross-promoting.
  • Keep posting to your Author Website.
  • Set up a live Q & A session on Facebook or Twitter.

Two Months After Launch

  • Take your book on the road.
  • Do book signings at local bookstores.
  • Talk to libraries about getting your book on the shelf.

Three Months After Launch

Four Months After Launch

  • Publically thank readers who provide feedback or leave a review.
  • Find an organization that relates to your book topic and see if it would be interested in having you speak at an upcoming event.

Five Months After Launch

  • Make recommended reading lists on Goodreads or your Author Website that include your book.
  • Keep publishing engaging content on your Author Website.

Six Months After Launch

  • Release the print or audio version of your book. Use the new format to do another mini-launch.
  • Start generating interest in your next book.

You might not want to include all of these suggestions, but the more publicity there is about your book, the more likely you’ll sell some copies of it. So try to complete as many as possible, as often as possible without being spammy.

Assignment: Plan your book launch.

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Click on the image for a preview!

Blog to Book Project –Amazon Ad Campaigns

Amazon offers a way to reach more potential readers through Amazon Advertising. These ads are run on a cost-per-click auction based model. That means Amazon holds a real-time auction every time someone does a search to determine which ads will appear based on relevancy. The cost-per-click, your “bid” is the amount you choose to pay if someone actually clicks on your ad.

Amazon will always choose the highest bid within the category to display since it will make them the most money. So suppose you have a book about canaries that you want more people to be aware of. Amazon suggests that you bid $0.70 but the bid range for that category is ($0.40 – $1.40). You decide to go with the custom bid of $0.70. However, someone else has a book about canaries and their bid is $1.40. Amazon will choose to show that bid more often than yours when the criteria is met in a search. 

Your book cover and book content have to meet certain requirements to even be considered. To see the complete list of prohibitive cover images and book themes, you’ll need to read through Amazon’s book ad policies.  

Currently, you can run Sponsored ads on Amazon in the US, UK, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain. Lockscreen ads are only available for the US. 

You can advertise books written in languages other than English, but all language in the ad must match the language of the Amazon site where the ad is running. For example, if you want to advertise a book written in Japanese on Amazon.com, the ad must be in English. Also, book titles must clearly state if the book isn’t in the language of the Amazon site where the ad is running.

If potential readers click on your ad, they’ll be taken to the detail page of your book on Amazon. Therefore, before you set up an ad campaign, you should make sure that the layout is eye catching and the book blurb is interesting. Check the visual appeal of your book cover, too.

Creating an Ad Account

To begin, go to your KDP bookshelf and select a book you want to run a campaign for. Choose Promote and Advertise under the ellipses.

Then you’ll want to look at the Run an Ad Campaign section. Choose a marketplace from the available options. 

You’ll be taken to a screen that forces you to accept Amazon’s policies before continuing.

Once you do so, you’ll see that there are two options to choose from: Sponsored products and Lockscreen Ads. 

Sponsored products are those that you see across the top after you search for a particular book topic. Lockscreen ads appear on Kindle and Kindle Fire devices of people that have read a book related to one of your target words in the past. Lockscreen ads are only available for eBook promotions, not paperback.  We will discuss these individually in future posts.

Assignment: Set up an Amazon Ad Account

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Blog to Book Project — Pinterest for Authors

If you are like me, a bit of an introvert, social media interaction is downright painful. Lack of Likes and trolls can mess with your self-esteem. What if there were a non-communication social platform you could use? Would you do it?

Well, there is! Pinterest! You don’t have to like everything you see, engage in potentially controversial group conversations, or worry sharing too many posts. You get in, pin some things and get out, just like that!

As a writer, you can create boards for writers or readers. Pin your favorite books, authors, book quotes, motivational phrases, and writer woes. If you write an article on your author website about the top 10 best ways to promote your self-published book on Amazon, include a pinnable image in the article and pin it.

You can also create boards for each of your books. This isn’t a promo board, but rather of pictures of your research. Take a look at how the author of Deadly Kin did this. Her profile picture lets us know she writes Regency romance type books. She’s listed the research books she used and then look at the images she included. You can bet your bottom dollar that a couch like The Knole Sofa pictured is a key point in the book. Intriguing, right?

Even if you already have a personal Pinterest account, you’ll want to use a business account for the analytics aspect. You can transfer your personal account to a business account (and make boards you don’t want the world to see hidden) without too much difficulty. 

To do this, log in and click the three dots (…) that are in the upper right hand corner. Choose : Add a free business profile. Decide on topics that describe your business, as well as adding the business type, name, email, and website. If you have an author Instagram, Etsy or Youtube account, you can link them up to Pinterest. You’ll be given the option to copy boards from your personal profile. If you want to start fresh, you’ll be taken to the area where you can create your first Pin. 

Pinterest templates Landing Page

I absolutely LOVE Canva for creating Pinnable images.

Once you have an image, to create a pin, click on the plus sign in the upper right hand corner.

Upload your image. Write a headline and short description. Add the link you want people to go to if they click on the pin. Choose a board to pin your pin to. Publish now or schedule it for later and that’s it.

Spend some time scrolling through your Pinterest feed. Go ahead and add pins to your boards gleefully. If you come across something worth pinning in your web browsing, do it! It only takes a few seconds. Pinning from the site itself keeps the image connected to the right content so other people can enjoy that little tidbit too.

Assignment: Create your Author Pinterest account.

Blog to Book Project — Kindle Instant Previews

Amazon has a fabulous preview option that you should take advantage of. As long as you are an Amazon Associate, each book detail page will give you a way to either embed or share a link to a preview of your book. 

Go to your book’s detail page on Amazon. Over on the right side, there are some social media icons that you can use to share the page. After the last symbol, you’ll see <Embed>. Click on that. 

A pop-up window will open. Here your Amazon Associate ID and Tracking number will appear. You’ll want to double check those because any book purchased through the preview option earns you a commission. You use either the link or click on the embed option.

The embed option gives you code that you can insert in the text (HTML) section of your book’s landing page on your website. You did set up a website and create a landing page right?

For some reason you aren’t able to embed the code, there is still a way to add the preview link to the landing page. Upload the cover of your book and under Display Settings choose Link to: Custom URL. Here you can add the LINK (not the embed code) to the image. Make sure you caption the image letting people know that it is clickable and will provide a preview of the book.

The preview can be accessed through any Kindle device or anyone with the Kindle reading app on any device.

At the end of the sample, readers are encouraged to purchase the book on Amazon. There’s a good chance that if they made it that far, they’ll be interested in buying!

Assignment: Embed the preview on your book’s landing page. Share the preview link wherever you want.

Blog to Book Project — Goodreads

Goodreads is another great place to get book reviews. Once your book is available on Amazon, you can create a Goodreads Author page and add it to the millions of books on that site. Amazon owns Goodreads, so book reviews on any of Amazon’s international sites will appear on Goodreads too. 

Another nice option is the Goodreads widget you can add to your author blog or website. You can also add your blog feed to your Goodreads Author page for even more exposure. You can interact with readers through question and answer forum. You can run giveaways on your books. You can even advertise your book on Goodreads. Woot! 

To set up your Goodreads Author page you first must apply for the Author Program. Sign in to Goodreads or create an account if you don’t already have one.

Then search for your book using the ISBN, ASIN or title. Click on the book and then on the author name.

At the bottom of your author profile page you’ll see “Is this you? Let us know!” to complete and submit an application for the Author program. 

Once you’re approved, you’ll get an email welcoming you to the program. 

Next you’ll want to get your book listed on your author dashboard. Add your book using ASIN, ISBN or title to search for it.

Fill out the missing information which you can find on your book’s detail page on Amazon. Add a cover image. Submit.

Goodreads will verify it and voila, you have a book listing! Be sure to add each edition, paperback and ebook, so that readers of both types will see your book on Goodreads and leave a review. 

Experiment with the different tools that Goodreads offers. Set up a giveaway. Answer some reader questions. Add some friends. Join some groups. Participate in discussions. Add your reading lists. Write some reviews. Have fun!

Assignment: Set up your Goodreads Author Page. 

Blog to Book Project — Amazon Affiliates Program

I’ve been an Amazon Affiliate since I started blogging. I don’t make oodles of money, but I do make a little bit. If you haven’t already signed up, then you should do so. You have set up your blog and started creating a social media presence right?

Basically, you can get a tracking code for any product page on Amazon. If someone clicks on your link, Amazon knows about it. You may be eligible for a commission on anything they purchase after they click that link, even if it wasn’t the product that originally led them to Amazon. 

There are all sorts of tools designed to drive traffic from your link to Amazon that the company provides. You’ll need to decide which will work best for you. 

However, as an author, being an Amazon Affiliate means that you get a small commission on your own book in addition to royalties if someone buys your book using your affiliate link. A bit of double-dipping, shall we say! 

Being an Amazon Affiliate also provides you access to the Kindle Instant Preview links which we will talk about in a bit. Plus, when you offer your Free Book Promotion, if readers downloading your book stay on Amazon and purchase something else, you’ll get a commission there too. 

The important thing is not to abuse your affiliate status. Amazon does not allow affiliate links in ebooks sold on Amazon, so make sure your book doesn’t have any. You also must not click on your own links to generate commissions. Amazon will boot you out of their program if they catch you. 

And you’ll need to disclose your affiliate relationship with Amazon in posts, newsletters and other places you may insert a link. I use an image on my blog’s sidebar that is visible on whatever page is being viewed. 

The easiest way to get affiliate links for your book is to go to the book’s detail page on Amazon. You’ll have three options, text, image and text plus image. Feel free to try them all and see what gives you the best results. 

You can keep track of clicks and commissions earned from the Earnings section on your Amazon Associates SiteStrip that will now appear at the top of any page you visit on Amazon. 

You can also see how many ebooks your links have sold, whether yours or another author you are promoting. There’s no need to be stingy with Amazon Affiliate links. The more the merrier. 

Amazon pays out commissions earned every two months. You need to meet a minimum amount, otherwise, the amount just rolls over until you meet the minimum. If you choose to get paid by direct deposit or Amazon gift card, you’ll get paid after your commissions earned a total of $10. If you want to receive a check, then you’ll need to wait until you rack up $100.

So that’s a brief overview of the benefits of becoming an Amazon Affiliate as an author.

Assignment: Sign up to be an Amazon Affiliate

Blog to Book Project — Twitter for Authors

Twitter is another great place to advertise. When you sign up for Twitter you get to choose your user name. You can choose your own name, a pen name or something really cool.  If the name you want to use is taken, which happens a lot, come up with something else. 

Fill out the profile information completely. Make sure to include a link to your author website. Add your profile picture. I use my page icon instead of my author picture, but that’s just me. If you are having difficulty deciding what to include on your profile, look at other authors in your genre and see what they have done. 

Take some time every week or so to find other writers, book reviewers, and interesting people to follow. Try to find people that are prominent in your particulate niche. 

Tweet a variety of images, posts, links, book reviews, author interviews, news articles along with a few self-promotional bits. When your stuff gets retweets or comments, publically thank them. It’s good form. 

Use hashtags generously.  #bookreview #author #freebookpromo #freekindle 

The lists option is a nice way to organize the people you follow. They get a notification that you put them on a list and are often flattered enough to follow you back. 

Twitter is a rapid-fire social media site. Tweet copiously!

Assignment: Set up your Twitter account and begin tweeting!