July Writers' Forum

July Writers' Forum - The Best Book & Publishing Advice In One PlaceIn my journey through the steps of independent publishing, refining my writing skills, and most recently completing a successful agent search, I’ve come across some excellent information, tips, tools, and shortcuts that I think would be beneficial to any writer. Once a month, I’ll share the “best of” information and news from the publishing industry as well as feature other authors and writing instructors with tips to share. I am incredibly thankful for the assistance and advice given to me from writing and publishing professionals and am happy pay that forward. On a professional level, I also use my publicity and editorial skills to aid other authors through my company Lost Lake Press.

The Best Indie Author Advice & Book News Celebrates 100 Posts!

Happy 100th Blogiversary to me!

This is my 100th blog post since beginning the Three Rs: Reading, wRiting, and Roaming in 2014.


Book Events

I am not sure if Sherman Alexie had any upcoming book tour stops here in Wisconsin. I know he was here for the Untitled Town Book Fest in Green Bay this spring. Please take a moment to read his note about the heartbreaking reasons he has decided to stop his book tour.  

He was promoting You Don't Have to Say You Love Me -- a memoir mostly about his relationship with his late mother, Lillian Alexie. It's available in both hardcover and Kindle or wherever you prefer to shop for books. (Alexie is best known for his middle-grade novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.) 

Bookish Happenings for August

Books & Company at 1039 Summit Avenue in Oconomowoc is getting creative with a Return to Hogwarts Party on August 24 from 6:30 to 8:00 pm . . . trivia, refreshments, games etc…  Looks like fun! Learn more at:  http://www.booksco.com/event/back-hogwarts-party-thursday-august-24-630-pm

August 2017 Events at Mystery to Me in Madison, WisconsinMystery to Me Bookstore at 1863 Monroe Street in Madison has a great schedule of events for August:

Wednesday, August 9 at 6 pm Lesley Kagen will be speaking at the Sun Prairie Public Library. Kagen is a bestselling and award-winning Wisconsin author who will discuss her career as a writer, actress, and voice talent followed by a book signing. (Books sold by Mystery to Me.)   Free and open to the public.

Thursday, August 10 at 7 pm at the store Allyson K. Abbott and Vickie Fee will be talking about their new installments in their cozy mystery series: A Toast to Murder by Allyson K. Abbott and One Fete in the Grave by Vickie Fee. (RSVP via the Eventbrite link on the store’s website below.)

Sunday, August 13 at 6:30 pm Craig Johnson (of Longmire fame) will visit the store. He’ll discuss his new book, The Western Star, to be released September 5. (Special bookplates are available for those who preorder the book for the author to sign that evening.)

Friday, August 25 at 7 pm William Kent Krueger will discuss his latest pulse-pounding thriller, Sulfur Springs. This event also has a rsvp set up on Eventbrite at the store’s website.


Please let me know of any upcoming book releases or events that you’d like featured in the Writers’ Forum!

Featured Subject

Don’t Miss Out on Affiliate Marketing

If you have ever felt like there’s no way you’re ever going to learn everything you ought to know about the publishing world, join the crowd. I had one such moment a few weeks ago when I learned about affiliate link marketing. (Some of you I am sure are shaking your heads at this and asking, “How did she not know about this?” Trust me. I asked myself the same thing.)

So, for those of you who need a quick tutorial, I am here to save the day!

Here’s how Wikipedia defines Affiliate Marketing: . . . (It) is a marketing practice in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought about by the affiliate’s own marketing efforts.

What does this mean?

If you have links to your own products (or other products) on your blog or website you should be using an affiliate link which gives you a small fee for each purchase made by clicking through that link from your page or blog. You don’t get paid much, but if you already have purchase links to your books on your website, what do you have to lose by making sure these are affiliate links that pay you a small percentage on top of your book royalty. And you don’t have to stop there, many products are available for affiliate linkage. There’s a nice article about how this works on a blog by Melissa Culbertson

How You Can Become an Amazon Associate & Why You Should!

At the moment, I’ve only created Amazon affiliate links—so that’s what I’ve focused on here. For the step-by-step process in how to become an Amazon Associate (the first step in being able to create these links), read this “Savvy Book Marketer” postOnce Amazon sends you your Associate acceptance email, this article from “Untethered Income” will help you successfully build (and test) product links. 

This is a good start, but all of your book links ought to be affiliate links. Nearly every online retailer has a program, you just need the diligence to set them up.

Pre-Publication Information

The 50 Best Book Covers of 2016Best Book Covers of 2016

The Design Observer released its winners of the 50 Best Book Covers of 2016. This may be especially helpful for reference if you are at the beginning of your cover design process. The only downside to this list is that the genre is not listed. Some are obvious, but others would require some research. There are a number of great contests out there to see which book covers are considered the best of the best. Definitely do some genre-specific internet searches to see what’s working best for the type of book you write BEFORE you finalize your cover.

The Pro-Bono Marketing Staff Every Self-Published Author Has at Their Fingertips

I have to admit that the reason I clicked on this Book Designer article by Eva Lesko Natiello was my reaction that I had somehow missed out on something. What the heck??  

I knew better, of course, but it got me to click. This article is a witty take on how elements of book design and promotion can serve as the hardest-working parts of a successful publishing venture. For instance, she lists your Book Cover as the Senior V.P. of Sales and your Meta Data/Book Description as your Senior V.P. of Marketing. Read the full article here.

Using Keywords to your Advantage in your Book Description

Picking the Right Keywords for Amazon Book Category InclusionAs you set up your book description (particularly on KPD/Kindle) you get to pick two book categories and then seven keywords. If you are savvy when choosing those keywords, you can leverage them to give you access to more than your two main book categories. But you have to know the right words to choose for other categories where your book might fit! A 2013 article from Jennifer Bresnick served as my original guide to this and a new article from Melinda Clayton at Indies Unlimited addresses this same topic.

Using my first novel as an example, I chose these two main categories for my young adult fantasy novel based on Celtic mythology:

·        Juvenile Fiction > Fantasy & Magic

·        Juvenile Fiction > Legends, Myths, Fables > Other

Then I added these keywords: Teen & Young Adult, Paranormal, Celtic, Coming of Age, Historical, Ireland, Romance

Those keywords have allowed my book to not only be ranked and searchable under the two main categories but the book has also been listed under Coming of Age and Paranormal & Urban Fantasy even though those aren’t either of the two main categories. The articles take a deeper look at this subject.

When to Publish Your Book

And just when you think your book should come out in time for Christmas sales, think again . . . The BookBaby blog walks through the best months for release, depending on your topic.

Agents Tell It Like They See It!

If you want to listen in on agents being extremely candid about the book industry, check out this discussion featuring Jodi Reamer (Writers House), Kim Witherspoon (Inkwell Management), Robert Gottlieb (Trident Media), Sloan Harris (ICM), Eric Simonoff (WME), and Christy Fletcher (Fletcher & Company) on the “Publishing . . . And Other Forms of Insanity” blog. 


My Failed WATTPAD ExperimentMy Failed Wattpad Experiment - What I did right and the many things I did wrong!

I had hoped that the free reader platform, Wattpad, would be a springboard to more fans and more sales. Unfortunately, the Wattpad Success Story proved elusive for me. I detail my experience and what I did right and wrong here

Promoting your YA Novel

Another article from Book Baby this month gives tips on promoting your young adult novel through different types of social media . . . there’s some expected advice about Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest, but what was new to me were the tips about promoting via Reddit. I have one more thing on my list now--which might be good after my Wattpad fail. 

An Audio Book Narrator Interview - How to get your book recorded.Audio Books

Anne R. Allen has an excellent interview with an Audible/ACX narrator that gives inside info on getting your book recorded, so you don’t miss out on the fastest growing book market. 


I’ve thrown a lot at you today from a lot of different directions. Even if you’re not ready to use all of this advice immediately, you might be thinking, “I’m so tired!” or “There’s too much to do!” We all feel that way at least some of the time. Book writing is hard, but I think book marketing is even more difficult.  Judith Briles on The Book Designer website recognizes this and talks us through our “marketing fatigue”. She acknowledges the hard work that is required to be successful and gives encouragements to keep us moving in the right direction! 

Happy Reading & Writing, Valerie  



Add new comment

To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
Your email will not be displayed to the public.

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.