February Writers' Forum 2020


Should You Pay to Display Your Book at BookExpo?

Facing Common Author Challenges with a Positive Outlook


The February 2020 Writers' Forum - 20 Articles on Publishing News, Writing Craft Hints, and Book Promotion topics

Should You Pay to Display Your Book at BookExpo? (Short Answer: No)

The advice of Victoria Strauss is indispensable to authors and I highly recommend that you subscribe to her blog directly to make sure you don’t miss any of her pertinent warnings about less-than-honorable practices within the book industry. In one of her recent articles, she details why spending money to display your title(s) at BookExpo is not a great use of your hard-earned dollars. Read it here: https://www.victoriastrauss.com/2020/02/14/should-you-pay-to-display-your-book-at-bookexpo-short-answer-no/

Facing Common Author Challenges with a Positive Outlook

I love this positive article from Penny Sansevieri giving encouragement to stay positive amid the many challenges you face as an author. Specifically, she covers what to do when you get a bad review, feel like everyone else is doing better or that you’re terrible at book marketing and more. We all have bad days, here’s some great actionable advice to help you overcome these moments. Full article link: https://indiereader.com/2020/01/facing-common-author-challenges-with-a-positive-outlook/

More from the Publishing Industry

2020 Publishing Vision Forward

Judith Briles at the Book Designer celebrates the growing acceptance of independent publishing IF you do it right. This article delves into the ever-important issues that indie pub authors must address Quality, Control, Time, and Money. One of the best points she makes is about topics that are timely and how moving forward with independent publishing might be a necessity for timely topics when you look at how long it takes to sell/launch a book traditionally. Smart advice!

Amazon Past Prime: Why Major Retailers & Publishers Are Going it Alone

The past couple of months, I’ve featured articles here in the forum that highlight the Amazon publishing platform, including how some major best-selling authors have left their traditional publishing houses for Amazon. In her latest article, Kristen Lamb explains how some retailers and publishers are no longer relying on Amazon to help them with their sales. Why? Mainly, because they’re able to provide a similar online shopping experience without giving Amazon a cut. This is definitely worth the read: https://authorkristenlamb.com/2020/02/amazon-paradigm-major-retailers-bailing/

Writing Craft Tips for the savvy writer

Writing Craft

How to Write Immersive Fiction: Action versus the Intention to Act

Louise Harnby’s blog on writing and editing is always helpful! In Writing Immersive Fiction, she takes you step by step through the editing process with an eye to putting the readers “attention where it is supposed to be” on the action. Really, really good exercises here to make sure your making the most out of your scenes.

Identifying Showing and Telling: Thinking in Layers to Understand Reader Experience

In a related article to the one immediately above, Louise Harnby helps us identify the difference between too much telling versus showing. This often trips us up! She uses a grid system to help you compare a shown narrative with a told narrative. PG Warning here on the content she uses as an example. 

Tips and Tricks for Finishing a Manuscript

Amy Holland (for the Good Story Company) gives five steps to keep you moving toward a finished manuscript. She particularly addresses pitfalls like attempting to consume too much writing craft advice from too many sources and comparing yourself overly much to other writers. Read it HERE.

Blog Archive with Amanda Zieba

Writer and writing educator Amanda Zieba recently categorized her blog posts into a neat archive you can reference as needed. Her topics include Authorpreneur Advice and Writing Topics. Take a moment to bookmark this site for future research: http://amandazieba.com/blog/2020/2/29/blog-archive

Is Dictating Your Story an Appealing Idea?

I have to admit that I never thought about dictating an entire book, but I do often work out my dialogue scenes out loud. (Doesn’t everyone?) This article “Best Transcription Services for Authors” caught my eye. This article discusses the pros and cons of creating a story this way along with a review of the services that you might use.

Pre-launch tasks - what to do to make your book ready for sale!


What Else Your Book Needs (in addition to the main content)

The Pop Editing Blog article “More on Standing Up to the Competition: The Complete Package” takes writers beyond their book’s main content and lists out all the OTHER things your book should include. Good advice for both fiction and nonfiction writers.

How to Write the Blurb of Your Book

Sean Platt the co-author of “How to Write Fast: Better Words Faster” lists out the considerations and details to help you write the most effective book blurb. We’ve covered this topic before. If you’re looking for more advice check out the February 2019 Writers’ Forum article entry “Pitching Your Book – Log Lines and Book Descriptions.”  

How to Use Keyword Research to Sell More Books

Dave Chesson (in my opinion the best expert on keyword research) teaches us how to find the keywords for our title(s) in this Keyword Research article. I know this is a frequent topic here in the forum, but so many authors don’t realize the impact carefully researched keywords can have on findability and sales. If you missed it, January’s Forum included a deep dive into using all 50 characters available for each keyword phrase. 


Book Marketing tips and book promotion advice.


Does Your Book Need an Update?

This is a great “housekeeping” article for your previously published books(s), walking you through potential updates on your cover, book description, and quantity of reviews. Read it here:  https://marketingchristianbooks.wordpress.com/2020/01/20/does-your-book-need-update/

How to Add Categories to Your Book on Amazon

I’m purposefully not including this article in the pre-launch section, because I feel this is best done after you’ve published. Initially, you can pick two categories when setting up your book on KDP; however, you can have your book listed in up to 10 categories. Thanks to author Deborah Jay for this helpful tutorial!  https://deborahjayauthor.com/2020/02/03/how-to-add-categories-to-your-book-on-amazon/

Also, if you’re curious which categories your book is currently popping up in use this handy tool from BookLink: https://www.bklnk.com/categories.php

You might be surprised to see that your title is listed in more than the two categories you initially designated. This is likely due to keywords you included that help to identify the book as one that ought to be listed in an additional category.

Book Promotion: Do This Not That – February 2020Subscribe Now - Reading, Writing, and Roaming with Valerie Biel, award-winning author and publicity professional.

Amy Collins on the Book Designer blog writes a must-read article acknowledging how fast the advice for best practices in publishing changes. She lists some of the out-dated guidance. (Read this to make sure you’re not still doing some of these things.) And, she presents new info from the past 12 months that we need to be aware of like updates to Amazon’s review terms, the loss of book wholesalers, the decline in effectiveness of keyword-based Amazon ads, and more . . . read it all HERE

How to Clearly Define Your Target Audience So You Can Build Your Platform and Sell More Books

Stephanie Chandler of the Nonfiction Authors Association shows us how to identify our book's themes as a first step in finding our nonfiction book’s primary target audience. She then lists questions to ask about how your work can better serve this audience. This is a good exercise to determine who you should be targeting most when marketing your book.

How to Get Honest Book Reviews in 2020

The Self-Publishing Review details four simple methods to follow to get honest book reviews. One of the methods is using a Goodreads giveaway. Unfortunately, I’ve read some recent criticism that the Goodreads giveaways have been infiltrated by used book buyers looking to scam titles for their inventory

Another of the methods detailed in the article is pursuing editorial reviews. For the indie pub author this often means using the paid reviewer service at one of the main editorial reviewers, like Kirkus. If you’re curious, Rose Fox, the director of BookLife Reviews explains how editorial or trade reviews work in: “Trade Book Reviews: Behind the Scenes with a Professional Reviewer."

Happy Writing (marketing, blogging and more!) - Valerie  


Another great list, but not enough time in the day or cells in my brain! But I'll give a few a read. That's for the great selection! As always :)

Hi Christine, I know--too many articles and so little time; however, I do have a bit more time lately with the coronavirus lockdown. Sticking close to home does have some advantages. - Valerie

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