How to Get More Book Reviews

By Scott Lorenz

Westwind Communications

As a book publicist I’ve read a few thousand book reviews and have written a few dozen myself.  I have a pretty good Write a Review Luliidea about how to write a book review that is helpful to potential readers and buyers of a book. Authors have a difficult time getting people to write a review because their fan base of readers don’t have time or most likely don’t know how to write a review. So, here it is. Hand this to anybody who says, ‘I just don’t know how to write a review.’

Before you pick up a pen, ask yourself these questions:

  • How did the story affect you?
  • Did it make you laugh, cry?
  • Did it affect the way you think about family, spouse, or life in general?
  • Would you recommend it to others?
  • Would you by it as a gift for events such as graduations, birthdays, etc?

 

Here’s What Makes A Good Book Review:

 

  1. In general, you are trying to help someone determine if they should buy the book. “It needs to give a clear reason for someone to want to read or avoid the book in question. Narrowing the potential audience is also helpful,” says Ross Rojek, editor and publisher of the San Francisco Book Review.

 

  1. Talk about your impression of the book. “For fiction reviews, brief plot summaries. You don’t need details about every character and every event. For non-fiction, say what the book’s premise is and whether it fulfills that,” says Debra Englander, former acquisitions editor for Wiley Books.

 

  1. Include qualifications or relevant background about the author. “Include information about author – reputation, qualifications, etc, — anything relevant to the book and the author’s authority,” says Bill Asenjo, award-winning freelance writer. For example, a lawyer should be able to write a good courtroom thriller, but not a book on sewing.

 

  1. Provide a short example from the book. “One good phrase or sentence that encapsulates the book is easy to promote,” Rojek explains. “Be mindful not to give away the ending!”

 

  1. Who should buy this book? “Do compare similar products,” Amazon’s tips on writing reviews states. For example, “If you liked Harry Potter you’ll love this book” or, “If you are into current news events, this book is for you! It’s perfect for middle school children and older.”

 

  1. Talk about what kind of reader this book is for. “Summarize some of your thoughts on the book by suggesting the type of reader you’d recommend the book to,” children’s author Luisa Plaja told BookTrust. If this is a great gift book for the recent college graduate or pregnant Moms then say so!

 

  1. Did the book live up to expectations? Does it deliver on the title? If the book title is “How to Build a House?” Does it in fact tell you how to do it? “Describe what the book does well and what it does poorly (and why), but it should also explain who would value the book,” said Dr. Eric Russell, book reviewer and English Language and Literature professor.

 

  1. Be sure to create a snappy title for your review. Perhaps one with a key word that would help someone find your review about the book. Using the house theme again:  “If You Want to Build A House, THIS Book with Tell You How!”

 

  1. Add the stars on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being great. “A five-star review should be for a book that has everything: good writing, good-editing, and a story that makes you want to read it again and tell your friends about,” Neal Wooten, author and managing editor of Mirror Publishing, advises in his article on HuffPost.

 

What Not To Do:

 

  1. “Be honest, but not overly critical,” Englander warns, “If a reviewer is especially nasty, readers wonder if he/she had a personal agenda.”

 

  1. Don’t lose focus on what you’re reviewing. “Review the book you read – not the book you wish the author had written,” Asenjo cautions.

 

  1. Don’t describe your seller or shipping experience,” Amazon urges. Don’t comment on the fact it arrived late or the book was damaged. The author has no control over that and nobody cares.

 

  1. Don’t review books by your friends or enemies,” suggests Rebecca Skloot, a previous vice president of National Book Critics Circle. Doing this doesn’t provide you any real practice on writing a review and doesn’t help anyone. Keep your intentions as a reviewer in check.

 

  1. Don’t use a book review as an excuse to show off your writerly voice,” recommends Ann Finkbeiner of The Open Notebook, board of directors and regular reviewer for The New York Times Book Review and The Wall Street Journal. A review’s purpose is to evaluate a piece of text and create discussion with other readers. If you want to showcase your writing ability, start a blog.

Bottom line: Authors, want reviews? Ask your readers to write one! Readers, don’t know how to review? Follow the guidelines above to ensure the creation of a helpful review for future readers!

About Book Publicist Scott Lorenz

Book publicist Scott Lorenz is President of Westwind Communications, a public relations and marketing firm that has a special knack for working with authors to help them get all the publicity they deserve and more. Lorenz works with bestselling authors and self-published authors promoting all types of books, whether it’s their first book or their 15th book. He’s handled publicity for books by CEOs, CIA Officers, Navy SEALS, Homemakers, Fitness Gurus, Doctors, Lawyers and Adventurers. His clients have been featured by Good Morning America, FOX & Friends, CNN, ABC News, New York Times, Nightline, TIME, PBS, LA Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Woman’s World, & Howard Stern to name a few.

Learn more about Westwind Communications’ book marketing approach at http://www.book-marketing-expert.com  or contact Lorenz at scottlorenz@westwindcos.com or by phone at 734-667-2090. Follow Lorenz on Twitter @aBookPublicist

Should Authors Repurpose their Book Content into an App?

Authors, How About an App for Your Book?

Books inside an iPhone, RepurposeBooks are turned into movies all the time. But what about other money making avenues for repurposing content and expanding the reach of the book? How about creating an iPhone or Android app for your book?

The bestselling book What to Expect When You Are Expecting has an app that is a great example of how a book can expand its reach by creating a useful companion app.

More >>>>>  http://bit.ly/1YDNe8A 

What Authors Can Learn From Motown Hits

By Scott Lorenz

Westwind Communications

With hard work, perseverance and a little luck, your book could be “Cruisin” with Smokey Robinson to the bestseller list and you will be “Dancin’ in the Streets” with Martha and the Vandellas. 

Motown_The_MusicalWho doesn’t love the music of Motown?  Smokey Robinson, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight, The Temptations, Lionel Richie and The Four Tops – their classic songs have entertained people from all walks of life for over 50 years.

I recently noticed that the titles of some of the biggest Motown hits also suggest some important themes that can help guide authors to improve their careers. Let’s have a look:

“What’s Goin’ On” (Marvin Gaye) advises you to educate yourself on what is going on in the publishing industry. It’s a moving target; what worked last year might not work today. It’s imperative that authors keep abreast of the changing publishing industry by reading books and magazine articles, going to book fairs and festivals and attending writer’s conferences.

“I Heard It Through The Grapevine” (Marvin Gaye) tells you to use today’s version of the grapevine, social media such as Twitter and Facebook, to promote your literary work. Authors should be sure to stay up to date about what others are saying about them, their work, and what their competitors are publishing as well. Be sure to keep your page updated and have frequent interaction with your followers to retain their interest.

Respect” (Aretha Franklin) reminds you to treat others the way you want to be treated. Share resources and knowledge with fellow authors. Respond to comments and questions on social media. Take on a mentee. Be kind. Network. Respect the time and effort you’ve put into your craft and help others to do the same.

“Shop Around” (The Miracles) advises you to “shop” for the best book publisher, publicist, and others who can help make your book a success. This is not similar to shopping for commodities at the mall or grocery store; you should go with the person who provides the best quality for your needs, rather than the one with the lowest price. An investment in good editing, good book cover design and good marketing will help create a solid foundation in the long run.

“Signed, Sealed, Delivered” (Stevie Wonder) When signing a publishing deal make sure to look over the fine print, and ask questions about the contract. You, as the author, do not want to be obligated to terms that you were not aware of.  Remember, “Ain’t Nothin’ Like the Real Thing” (Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell) so make sure you ask a lawyer to look over the contract before you sign.

“It Takes Two” (Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston), and “Rescue Me” (Aretha Franklin). Don’t be afraid to ask for help because publishing and marketing a book can be a nerve-wracking and overwhelming task for a first-time author. Do not wait until you need a rescue before calling in the professionals. As a book marketing expert, I’ve seen many authors make costly decisions that have to be rectified, which include bad titles, bad covers, bad editing, or lack thereof. “Stop in the Name of Love” (The Supremes) for your book.

“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” (Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell) inspires you to be steadfast and resilient in order to be successful. For example, 100+ publishers rejected Mark Victor Hanson, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul, but he had the tenacity to keep searching for someone who would publish him.

The Bottom Line: “You Can’t Hurry Love,” (The Supremes).  Success will not happen overnight and it’s not always easy as “ABC” (Jackson 5).  But it doesn’t have to be a “Ball of Confusion” (Temptations.) With hard work, perseverance and a little luck, your book could be “Cruisin” with Smokey Robinson to the bestseller list and you will be “Dancin’ in the Streets” with Martha and the Vandellas.  J

About Book Publicist Scott Lorenz

Book publicist Scott Lorenz is President of Westwind Communications, a public relations and marketing firm based in a Motown suburb that has a special knack for working with authors to help them get all the publicity they deserve and more. Lorenz works with bestselling authors and self-published authors promoting all types of books, whether it’s their first book or their 15th book. He’s handled publicity for books by CEOs, CIA Officers, Navy SEALS, Homemakers, Fitness Gurus, Doctors, Lawyers and Adventurers. His clients have been featured by Good Morning America, FOX & Friends, CNN, ABC News, New York Times, Nightline, TIME, PBS, LA Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Woman’s World, & Howard Stern to name a few.

Says Lorenz, “If you need help, just reach out, “I’ll Be There!” (The Four Tops). Learn more about Westwind Communications’ book marketing approach at http://www.Book-Marketing-Expert.com   or contact Lorenz at scottlorenz@westwindcos.com or by phone at 734-667-2090. Follow Lorenz on Twitter @aBookPublicist

How ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Author Hit It Big… And ‘Mommy Porn’ Entered Daily Vernacular

E. L. James author Fifty Shades of GreyBritish author E.L. James’s erotic romance trilogy Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, and Fifty Shades Freed is the hottest topic in publishing right now. The trilogy has been featured on mommy blogs, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Saturday Night Live, book clubs, and Amazon.com. The book’s main characters are Seattle billionaire 27-year-old control freak Christian Grey and innocent 21-year-old Anastasia Steele. Grey, a self-made entrepreneur, not only controls his wildly successful businesses, but takes the reins in the bedroom as well. With a tortured childhood fueling his dominant personality, the trilogy unravels the tumultuous relationship between Grey and Ana. So, what is it that makes this series so special that it’s flying off shelves with more than 20 million copies sold in the United States alone?

James has been wildly successful and has gained massive publicity for her work through word of mouth and media outlets alike. Fifty Shades of Grey was first published in 2011 by a small Australian publisher. It generated buzz by word of mouth after it was available as an ebook. Once the book topped the American best-seller lists in early 2012, Vintage Books bought the rights to publish both the ebook and paperback for seven figures.

Fifty Shades of Grey gained massive popularity on the web via “mommy blogs.” The Suburban Jungle raved about the book in her blog and explains, “…so many of us can’t put the series down. We have an inherent connection to the characters and may not even know it.” BabyCenter Blog’s Lindsay Weiss wrote a cheeky post titled “I have a ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Hangover” in which she explains her dedication to the series. “Are they tremendously meaningful literature? No they are not. Are they even exceptionally well-written? Nope. But have they kept me up until 2am for two nights straight? Yes, they have. I can’t put them down. I can’t sleep. I’d rather read than eat. And I’m cursing the time it’s taking me to write this post because it’s taking me away from the twisted plot of the book.” Weiss’ blog post received 57 responses of women raving about the books.

In an article in The Guardian, Vanessa Thrope wrote, “Mainstream publishing houses are colonising fresh territory in the next stage of an ebook revolution that is changing not only how we read, but what we read, forever. Following the success of Fifty Shades of Grey, which started out as an ebook series posted on a fan site by author EL James and has become the world’s fastest-selling book, publishers are starting to move in on the profits generated by the thriving online platforms that serve unpublished writers. In July of 2012 Pearson, the owner of Penguin Books, bought one of the largest grassroots publishers, Author Solutions, based in Indiana, in the US, for £74m. (135 Million US Dollars)The idea is that Pearson will no longer have to rely on spotting ebook hits early; instead, they will own a new author’s work from the first moment it appears on screen. This acquisition comes in the wake of Pearson’s launch last year of Book Country, a website on which fiction authors could publish their work.”

From Mommy Blogs to daytime television, Fifty Shades of Grey took the media by storm. Ellen DeGeneres featured the book on her show and Saturday Night Live did a parody of the book’s effect on women.

It’s no secret that sex sells. However, James is not selling sex. In fact, she’s selling romance, which is the best-selling category in publishing. The romantic plotlines appeal much more to women, the book’s primary fan base, than sex alone.
While various readers’ sexual fantasies and tastes may differ, most can agree that receiving lavish gifts would be wonderful. Grey showers Ana with foreign cars, the latest technology, an expansive closet filled with designer duds with price tags to match. James speaks to readers’ inner desires to experience a life in the lap of luxury.

In a USA Today article, author Deirdre Donohue explains that James gives women what they want: Christian Grey. “The 27-year-old self-made entrepreneur dropped out of Harvard (hello, Mark Zuckerberg). He is a smoking-hot Adonis (hello, Channing Tatum). He has his own security force to keep his family safe (hello, Michael Corleone). He’s also an innovative philanthropist (hello, Bill Gates).”
Presently, James’s first novel in the trilogy, commonly referred to as “mommy porn,” has received over 6,187 5-star reviews. However, just over 4,624 readers have given the book 1 star. I have authors contact me practically in tears that someone ‘trashed’ their book with a 1 star review. Now I just mention “Fifty Shades of Grey” collection of a few thousand one star stabs!
James is praised for her honesty and bluntness regarding socially taboo sexual desires. However, other readers feel her writing style is repetitive and lacks a certain polish.

Women have blogged about how Fifty Shades of Grey has helped them in their marriage. The books aren’t a dirty little secret hidden in bed-side tables. Instead, women are opening up and explaining how the books’ themes of love, desire, and passion have helped their sex lives and relationships.
Universal Films/Focus Features has purchased the film rights. There has been loose talk of James writing a fourth book as well. Visit E.L. James’ official website  for updates on all things Grey.
The Bottom Line: Women love Fifty Shades of Grey and E.L. James for her romantic, erotic, and boisterous characters and themes. Perhaps you can take a page out of her book!

How Amanda Hocking REALLY Did It – An Inspiration for All Authors

Amanda Hocking, as I’m sure you know, is a best-selling e-author on Amazon.com. Since uploading her first e-book in the spring of 2010, she has grossed about $2 million. She’s got 10 novels under her belt, all of which fall into the paranormal-romance category. The prominent entertainment company, Media Rights Capital, optioned her four-book vampire series “Trylle”.

Clearly, she’s had great success self-publishing her e-books. So, it was a surprise when Hocking decided to sign with St. Martin’s Press, which is a very established publishing house. Amanda Hocking 1

Hocking has openly explained that she suffered from depression for the vast majority of her life and turned to writing as a sort of escape. She finished her first novel at 17, titled “Dreams I Can’t Remember” and was turned down by each of the 50 agents to whom she’d sent her work. Not long thereafter, she caught a clip on YouTube of the band Blink-182’s Mark Hoppus encouraging American youth to make their dreams come true. Hocking admits having a sort of “aha” moment and realized that she could not wait for her dreams to come true. She had to put forth the effort and make them come true.

In 2009, Hocking began to treat writing as a job rather than something she did for entertainment. She wrote a few more novels, sent them off to agents, and still received only rejections. In April 2010, Hocking uploaded her novel “My Blood Approves” to Amazon, then later to Smashwords, then directly on Barnes & Noble’s site. Hocking started selling books, first a few a day, then as she uploaded more of her work, she managed to sell 26 books in one day in May. These days, the author is selling 9,000 books a day.

Just how did she do it? Well, the stories she writes are an obvious piece of her success. Her novels combine action and romance with a dash of quirk and topped off by Hocking’s creative style of writing. Additionally, by selling e-books, Hocking was able to sell the books for far less money compared to a traditional bookstore book. Therefore, people were more inclined to spend the 99 cents or $3.00 to read her work instead of dropping upwards of $15.00 for a book off the shelf of a trendy bookstore. Hocking has a very blasé attitude in regard to her success and rapid writing. When asked just how she manages to complete her work so quickly, Hocking responds on her blog, “I don’t know. I just write a lot and drink a lot of Red Bull.”

Hocking also suggests that writing paired with reading more than she writes, was instrumental in her success. She made sure to edit her novels a great deal in order to get them just right. Learning to take criticism was useful to Hocking’s success because she was able to understand that although her books weren’t for everyone, they did have an audience.

Taking a look at her blog, Hocking describes herself as an, “Obsessive tweeter. John Hughes mourner. Batman devotee. Muppet activist. Unicorn enthusiast. Fraggin Aardvarks guitarist. Author of the USA Today Bestselling Trylle Trilogy & the upcoming Watersong series.” She actively updates her blog, so her fans always have something new to read. This past October was Hocking’s second annual “Zombiepalooza!” on her blog, which ran for the entire month of October. Hocking explains that while she especially enjoys zombies, Zombiepalooza is really a celebration of all things horror and Halloween. Throughout the month, there were guest posts, giveaways, and other fun goodies, such as the “ultimate Halloween Playlist.”

John Kremer recently mentioned Amanda Hocking in a seminar about blog tours. Amanda Hocking inspired him to name a particular type of blog tour a Blogpalooza. John got the name from Hocking, after her first Zombiepalooza in October 2010. In his seminar, John also explained a few of Amanda’s stats, which were affected dramatically by Zombiepalooza. Before Zombiepalooza, Amanda had been selling about 3,000-5,000 copies of Kindle eBooks each month. She sold about 20,000 total before October 2010. In December 2010, after Zombiepalooza, she sold 100,000 copies in the month of December alone. In January, she sold 450,000 copies of her Kindle eBook novels.

In February of 2011, she made the USA Today best-seller list. By the end of February, she had sold 900,000 copies of self-published Kindle eBooks. In March 2011, her book sales totaled over 1 million copies, and she subsequently sold the rights to four of her books to St. Martin’s Press for $2 million. Some were surprised by her decision to sell her book rights, but Hocking has explained that in order to be a billion-dollar author, she needs people to buy her books at Wal-Mart. In order to get her books onto shelves, she had to partner with St. Martin’s Press.

Says Hocking, “I’m a writer. I want to be a writer. I do not want to spend 40 hours a week handling emails, formatting covers, finding editors, etc. Right now, being me is a full time corporation. I am spending so much time on things that are not writing.”

“I like writing. I even like marketing, especially when it comes to interacting with readers. And I don’t mind editing. I just don’t want to run my corporation, because that takes away from writing and everything else that I actually enjoy doing,” concludes Hocking.

After gaining so much success, Amanda has been able to seize unique opportunities. For example, she was a featured speaker at Comic Con in San Diego. Additionally, she was able to buy a life-size Han Solo figure from Star Wars, which was encased in carbonite. The life-size figure is rare and was something Hocking had her eye on for quite some time. The unique purchase was due in great part to the success of her Zombiepalooza.

The way Hocking executed Zombiepalooza is what earned her such success. She invited people to guest-post on her website, offer free copies of their books, and contribute stories to her blog. Simply put, she asked people to come to her blog and blog. Those guest bloggers, in turn, brought their fan clubs to Amanda’s website, earning Amanda’s work more exposure and causing her to gain even more fans. Zombiepalooza was an event blog tour that really got people talking and excited about the event, making it extremely effective.

In addition to her own blog, Hocking has separate blogs for her book Virtue, My Blood Approves, The Hollows series, as well as a blog dedicated to soundtracks for her various books. Hocking follows dozens of blogs herself. Having been blogging since April 2009, Hocking has had nearly 2 million page views. Check out Amanda’s blog to learn more about her, her work, and to see release dates of her upcoming books at AmandaHocking.blogspot.com or her facebook fan page.

The bottom line: Amanda Hocking is an incredibly talented author. She has achieved great success in her career, largely due to marketing her novels so effectively. Amanda began writing e-books and now has a multimillion dollar book deal. Her talent for both writing and knowing how to market her books has enabled her to become a wildly successful author. Amanda Hocking has helped pave the way for authors to follow in her footsteps without the traditional ‘gatekeepers’ of publishing being involved.

Use Twitter to Promote Your Book

Congratulations, you’ve written a book. Good for you! Now, do you think you can use 140 characters to successfully promote it? After all, what good is your book if no one (except your family) reads it? Twitter is a great tool to utilize while shamelessly promoting your book. As with most things, successful book promotion via Twitter is an art form not to be taken lightly.

The first thing you need to do is create an account with a not-so-boring username. In my case I used what I do in the name @aBookPublicist, you could create something clever or about your book. Then you’ll need a picture or headshot, it better be a good one too, it’s the only image people will have of you so make it clean, clear, and simple.

Twitter is reminiscent of the schoolyard playground, so play nice and make friends.
Upon entering the world of Twitter, your mission is to create a following. If people aren’t reading your tweets, they won’t read your book. The best way to gain a following is to follow people. Hopefully, you’ll pique their interest so they follow you in return. It won’t hurt to do a Twitter search for the subject area of your book. If you wrote a romance novel, search topics like “love,” “relationships,” and “romance,” Follow those people, pages, or groups and maybe they’ll want to follow you.

Look up magazine editors and tweet them specifically (using the @ function) to steer their attention to you and your literary masterpiece.

You should make nice with the book industry folks like book store owners, book reviewers, librarians, and your wonderful friends at Westwind Communications @aBookPublicist and let them know what you’re up to by following them. If you have a new blog post, find an article about your genre, or have new information on a speaking engagement; let them know about it by tweeting it.
You’re an author. You should follow other authors. That way, you can get tips on what is happening in the writing world, outside of your area of expertise. You’ll learn while you are promoting and what’s wrong with that?

About writing actual tweets: You’ve written an entire book, don’t ruin it all with a bad tweet. It is important, while tweeting, that you use a catchy headline and include a link. If your tweets are stupid, boring, annoying, or uneducated, no one will read them; or worse, people will unfollow you! We simply cannot have that nonsense. So, you should be sure to use keywords that relate to you and your book, attracting “tweeps” to your page and thus gaining your book recognition.

DO NOT make every single tweet a shameless self-promotion. People don’t like that. If people don’t like your tweets, that means they will not like you or your book. Tweet interesting things you come across, your genuine thoughts, and save the self-promoting tweets for about 20% of your total tweets.
Since tweets are limited to 140 characters, each letter is very valuable. Use www.tinyurl.com to shrink up those lengthy links containing fascinating information. This will give you more room to convey your personal message and to add your own touch to the tweet.

Once you gain a following, you should reward those who were kind enough to give a hoot about you in the first place. Reward your “twitterverse” by announcing a “giveaway” and give a prize to a follower selected at random. You could make them earn their prize, perhaps by re-tweeting a tweet of yours.

Remember how I said be nice and make friends? Well, Karma will help you survive in the land of social media. Re-tweet posts from people you follow. They’ll probably be flattered and thus, more inclined to re-tweet the things you post; especially if they’re interesting and relatable!

Still not convinced all this tweeting is worth it? The media follows Twitter posts as they are searchable by Google. If someone is commenting on a current event in the news and a reporter finds your tweet, you can get quoted directly or they may call you for an interview. Trust me, as a publicist I know it works.

The bottom line: Twitter is becoming a very useful tool that all authors need to utilize. Get tweeting today.

Authors: Rename Your Book For a Second Life

Throughout the ages books have been renamed, given a new copyright date as a result, and found new life and success.

There are several reasons to rename a book such as adding a subtitle to be friendlier to search engines. Another important reason is to get a new copyright Stack of Booksdate because many book critics will not review an old book and reviewers often define an “old” book as one with a copyright of more than a year old.

Margaret Mitchell first gave the title “Pansy,” the original name for Scarlett O’Hara, to her epic novel. That title was dropped as soon as MacMillan convinced Mitchell to rename her main character. She then considered the titles of “Tote the Weary Load” and “Tomorrow is Another Day,” the latter being taken from the last line in her novel. When MacMillan objected to these two titles, Mitchell reconsidered and suggested “Gone With The Wind.”

Sometimes just a minor tweak in the title will pay off big, such as “Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone” being renamed “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” “Philosopher’s Stone” was the first novel in the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling when it was first published in London in 1997. The next year it was republished in America with the “Sorcerer’s Stone” change made in the title and it reached the New York Time’s best-selling fiction list in August 1999.

Other examples of books that were re-titled include:
• “The Last Man in Europe” to “1984”
• “The Dead Un-Dead” to “Dracula”
• “Catch 18” and “Catch 11” to “Catch 22”
• “Atticus” to “To Kill a Mockingbird”
• “First Impressions” to “Pride and Prejudice”
• “Fiesta” to “The Sun Also Rises”
• “Strike” to “Atlas Shrugged”
• “Mistress Mary” to “The Secret Garden”

I think you get the point. Tanya Hall of Greenleaf Book Group (www.greenleafbookgroup.com) tells of the renaming of a book that made a big difference for Greenleaf: “Gregg Crawford approached us seeking distribution services for his book, ‘Execute or Be Executed’, originally published in 2006,” says Tanya. “We saw potential in the book but it definitely needed to be repackaged and re-titled to stand out in the crowded business genre. Gregg agreed to our suggestions, and the end result was ‘The Last Link: Closing the Gap That is Sabotaging Your Business’ which was published in March, 2007 by Greenleaf Book Group Press and became our first New York Times bestseller.”

Many of the authors with whom I work do not subtitle their book which is a big mistake. A subtitle allows for a book title to contain more searchable terms which, in this day of search engine optimization, is a major consideration. Remember that people use Google, Bing and Yahoo! to search for information they need immediately – help that fills their needs, wants and desires. You want to be their Answer.

Authors should always be open to suggestions made by editors and publishers. You may love your title but the publishing company that makes millions of dollars each year selling books knows a lot more about titles that sell than you do.

So be ready to rename your book if that new title will attract more readers and sell more books. If in doubt, ask Margaret Mitchell, or J.K. Rowling, or Ernest Hemingway, or George Orwell or ….. Want to rename your book? Bounce an idea off me at: scottlorenz@westwindcos.com.

Should Authors Self Publish Their Books Online?

Authors who want to publish their work online will want to pick up a copy of ePublish by Steve Webber. ePublish is a step-by-step instruction manual that shows authors how to publish their work on all forms of electronic devices. From Amazon’s Kindle to iPhones and other platforms, ePublish discusses the “how to” and the “ins and outs” of each. It also suggests services which can help you publish your book electronically if you do not have the time, skill or patience to do it yourself. With this book as your guide almost anybody could publish a book electronically in a few hours.

Why publish electronically? It’s only a matter of time before it’ll be the preferred choice among readers because it offers a multitude of advantages. Weber Young Woman Sitting Looking at Laptop Screenpoints out that ebook readers can click to a link on the pages to an Internet discussion group or multimedia files with audio and video, not to mention that authors can update their work online. Try doing that with a printed book!

Weber also scopes out some new web sites offering services to authors. In an ever changing publishing world it helps to have someone like Weber find the best stuff, try it out and then write about it. It’s worth the price for that info alone. It’s like having a personal guru at your disposal.

One such site he uncovered is called titlez.com which allows users to instantly retrieve historic and current Amazon rankings on competitors’ book and create 7-90 day reports. More importantly you can use this tool to research your next book or create a book marketing plan using the info gathered. You can compile a list of related books, comparing and contrasting sales figures and rankings, all for free while it’s in beta testing. Weber has gems like these and hundreds of others inside the pages of ePublish.

Weber also delves into book marketing strategies such as giving away the first chapters of the book online through Amazon, blogs or elsewhere to stimulate early e-sales.

ePublish is only 109 pages but its chock full of good solid insight into the most exciting thing to hit book publishing since Guttenberg invented moveable type. This is another terrific book by Steve Weber who is expert at cutting out unnecessary clutter and fluff. I highly recommend this book. For a list of my  “Favorite Book Marketing Books” check out this link to a complete list.

Book Marketing and Book Promotion Using Book Signings

As a book publicist I have a strong opinion about book tours. Authors tend to think they are a great idea because they see Bill and Hillary Clinton, Rachael Ray, Howard Stern and other big names out on the circuit and think that’s the way to promote a book.

Frankly it’s just ONE way to promote a book and is an element in the overall marketing of a book. The reality is that unless you are well known it’ll be you, the Stack of Library Booksflower vase along with your book at the little table waiting for people to approach you. Now don’t get me wrong, book signings can be very useful and even if you don’t sell books it gives the media a reason to write about your book right now in order to promote the event. Without that reason to do the story right now, they have plenty of other books to write about since most reviewers are deluged with dozens to hundreds of books every week. And that’s where I believe book signings and book tours are most useful.

In fact, book stores that have turned down a client will happily book them knowing a mention of their store will be in an upcoming article. Westwind Communications has obtained media coverage and then pitched a book store with a guaranteed mention if they book the author. This technique usually works. How can they refuse? The PR for the book signing, which can be difficult and time consuming for them is already done.

Book stores want enough lead time to put an announcement in their newsletter, get a press release out to their contacts, create flyers and in-store promotion. They hate last minute plans, and who can blame them? So it’s important to work a few months in advance if possible. But should you get a media interview and you know it’s going to hit on a certain date then it makes sense to pitch a book signing to the area book stores and then get back to the media outlet to add that appearance in at the end of the story.

Book stores also like to have the book available in “their system” before booking an author signing. This means that the book has to be available on their computer when they look it up so it can be ordered through regular channels, IE their own system, Baker and Taylor etc. There are exceptions to everything and sometimes an author can bring books into the store and sell them giving the store the profit from each book as it would expect. But, that tends to throw a monkey wrench into the mix and the big national chains tend to shy away from this for one reason or another. Sometimes I believe it’s the extra paperwork it creates. In the case of a short notice booking you may have better luck going to smaller independent book stores where the owner is on site. It’s there where they may seize the opportunity. They tend to be more open at a chance to book an author for an in-store appearance.

The bottom line: There’s no way to know how you’ll be received in a book store, whether you’ll sell many books or even one book. But, unless you try it you’ll be wondering. So, my recommendation is to try it. See what happens. Frankly, often what happens is something good that goes way beyond simply selling a book. You might meet a local librarian who’ll invite you to speak to a library group, or a member of a book club who’ll do the same. You may find a member of the media who’s looking for a new angle on a story, or just trying to get some feature story ideas. After you’ve done a few book signings you can see if it’s worth your time and effort. You may just be surprised.

Writing Your Book was Only the First Step. Marketing Your Book is the Survival Step.

Marketing your book is too important a task to leave to the good intentions of a publisher.

Marketing your book is too important a task to leave to the good intentions of a publisher. Harsh words? Maybe, but after spending so much time writing your book, don’t assume the publisher will put the same effort into the marketing of your book. I hear this issue every day from authors who contact me to promote their books. Believe me, writing your book was only the first step, making your book known so it can be sold is the survival step.

What you must always remember is that it does absolutely no good to promote your book if it is not readily available to buyers either at bookstores, online or by phone.

After writing your book, do not hurry your book into the market. With 175,000+ new books every year, the world is not waiting for your book to hit the stores. So take all the time you need to market it correctly.

The key to marketing is to really know your book. What is the overwhelming message your book conveys? Whether you self-promote or hire a professional, you must know your message so you can know your market.

If you decide to self-promote, I strongly recommend the purchase of MAXIMUM EXPOSURE Marketing System Book Marketing Training Program for Publishers and Authors by Tami DePalma and Kim Dushinski. This is a very well written publication that teaches authors all about marketing their book. If it’s not in here it’s not important.

I also recommend that authors purchase John Kremer’s 1,001 Ways to Market Your Book. This is a collection of techniques and tactics that have been used by other authors in the promotion of their books. Sometimes it’s better to follow a path created by someone else than to spend time and energy forging a new one.

John Kremer says, “Eighty percent of all books are sold by word of mouth, but it’s publicity that primes the marketing pump. Remember that you cannot do everything, so hire the right persons to do the things you can’t do. If you’re not comfortable doing your own publicity, then hire someone who does it for a living.” You can purchase his newly revised book at: http://www.bookmarket.com

This is the advice I would give to those brave authors willing to self-promote. But, very frankly, I do not recommend self-promotion, for the same reason you don’t cut your own hair. You can do it, but it’s not going to be that good. Book marketing and promotion requires special skills and most authors simply do not know how to market a book nor do they have the time or, more importantly, the patience.

At a recent media conference I attended in New York City, the producers of the Today Show and Good Morning America said they each receive about 75 books every day! With those incredible numbers, unless an author has a PR person trying to get their book on top of the heap for them it’s unlikely their book will ever get on the radar screen.

Getting media coverage is all about creating interesting ‘angles.” I try to find out everything I can about the author using a questionnaire that even asks about fraternities or sorority membership, roommates in college, and other tidbits about them personally and about the book itself. We then use this information to craft a pitch that entices the media to want to interview the author. To me it’s like going fishing, you use whatever bait you can and keep changing it until you find the one that really works. And, like fishing, the bait that works today may not work tomorrow and that’s where most people will give up. With thousands of media outlets, this is a very time-consuming task. Unless an author has someone skilled in book marketing, their potential best-seller is just one of a million books lost on the shelves of Borders, Barnes and Noble, and in the “ether” of Amazon.com.”

My approach to book promotion involves the following:

To successfully market your book, you need to determine who will read it. Once we really zero in and determine who your audience is, we can target the media they read directly.

We make sure galleys and the finished books are sent to the reviewers at major publications and broadcast outlets. We write and send press releases, pitch letters in an electronic press kit and make follow up phone calls to media outlets encouraging reporters and reviewers to write about our client’s book.

Being reviewed by The New York Times, Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times and USA TODAY are major goals. In fact USA Today has 4.3 million readers every day. Furthermore, it gets more notice from the other media than the other four newspapers combined. That’s a major reason why we will make a concerted effort to get our authors noticed by USA TODAY.

We also contact national magazines and others that may be interested in the author’s “personal” story. Sometimes the media is more interested in the author than the book itself and that is just one more angle we’ll use to promote our client’s book.

We contact TV and radio outlets. Every day thousands of interviews are conducted on TV and Radio stations across North America and several hundred are with authors. If you are not trying to get interviewed by the producers of those shows they won’t find you because they simply don’t have time to look for you. We have developed relationships with many producers over the years and those contacts combined with well-thought-out pitches produce results.

We regularly go to New York where we have face-to-face meetings with journalists, editors, writers and producers from top national magazines, newspapers and radio/TV programs. We have successfully pitched such media outlets as 20/20, Prime Time, CNN, People, Good Morning America, Newsweek, Time Magazine, Dateline NBC, The View, Oprah’s O magazine, Cosmopolitan, Fox News, Good Housekeeping, Newsweek.

If you don’t have a web site for your book, create one. We’ll refer media to your site for more information and to download book jackets, author photos etc.

Remember, writing your book was only the first step. Making your book known is the survival step.