Writers' Forum - July 2018
Featured Articles: How to (Ethically) Hack Amazon Categories and
#CockyCate is Over (At least for now!?)
Now in its second year, the Writers' Forum is a compilation of the month’s important publishing news and helpful writing information for authors, particularly those independently publishing their books. For readers, there are links to southern Wisconsin bookstores to preview their upcoming events. I’ve been an independently published author since 2014 and provide this information to assist others in the way that generous writers assisted me when I was at the beginning of my indie pub journey. On a professional level, I also use my publicity and editorial skills to aid other authors through my company Lost Lake Press. I'd love to use my skills to guide you through the steps of independent publishing!
Get to your local bookstore. There are cool things happening there all through the month of August!
How to (Ethically) Hack Amazon Categories
This is incredibly important information for independently published authors (well actually for ANY author), but as an indie author you are in control of this process and need to educate yourself on the best ways to position your book for sales. You may already understand that you’ll be choosing a BISAC code (or two on Kindle) for your book. That is the Book Industry Standard and Communications code. When choosing the proper BISAC code or codes for your book along with the proper keywords, you can land your book in certain sub-category rankings beyond your main categories. David Gaughran walks through this process with helpful links to KPD pages. Even if your book has been out for a while, this is good housekeeping to do to make sure you’re linked to the proper categories.
#Cockygate is Over (at least for now?)
Okay, so this is ridiculous – but I finally found a trademark lawyer who has analyzed the issues here in this case where an author trademarked the word “cocky”. To understand the complexities of trademark law and whether something is merely a descriptive term or not, you’ll want to go to the 11-minute mark. Great tutorial on that general concept if you’re interested. Otherwise, I think we can be done talking about this at least for now. Warning: Suggestive book covers are part of the evidence presented at trial.
Search Engine Optimization
Last month I highlighted an article by author Dave Chesson called “SEO for Authors – Part 1” . . . now I bring you Chesson’s “SEO for Authors – Part 2”. These are key steps in making your books as findable as possible by people searching the internet. Learn how to choose keywords to make your book stand out in your category! (If this sounds confusing, take the time to read through both of Chesson’s articles. He provides a very easy-to-understand description and tutorial.)
Blogging and Author Newsletters
There are several articles out lately about how blogging is not as popular as it once was and that even author newsletters (which are really just a targeted blog post) are not as popular either. I’m ignoring this information. I think if you provide relevant information and good content, people will be interested in reading your blog or newsletter. The main criticism comes from whether your blog or newsletter helps you sell books and the newer advice says, if it doesn’t then you shouldn’t be doing it. What they’re ignoring is the enjoyment and connectivity function that these two medium serve. I LIKE writing my blog posts and sharing them to my subscribers in a linkable newsletter format. I like sharing tips and news about indie publishing with authors. If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t do it!
But now, there’s another reason to keep on blogging . . . I’m not sure why this is news, because I always assumed that publishers looked at a writer’s platform and their ability to help market their book before offering publishing contracts, but Anne Allen points out that according to Jane Friedman, publishers are now acknowledging that “fiction markets are increasingly more competitive and risk-averse due to continued dwindling sales.” Friedman tells us that agents and publishers are now combing queries looking for “authors who demonstrate they have a vision for their career and the marketing work involved in that career.” Allen is right when she says that blogging is one way you can show “vision” and an aptitude for “marketing work” before you query your first manuscript. Allen goes on to explain how blogging actually helped to revive her writing career. Read the whole article here.
What about Author Newsletters?
Jane Friedman provided an excellent list that is now a few years old but still relevant on how to get started with your author newsletter.
RJ Crayton at Indies Unlimited gives great advice on how to interact with your subscriber list by asking questions, giving the best methods to engage with readers by asking for their input. Check out "A Survey of your Newlsetter Readers Provides Info and a Sense of Community".
Good Reads 101 for Authors
If you haven’t set up your author page over on Good Reads, now’s as good a time as any. Tony Riches gives you a step-by-step tutorial. This article is part of the monthly #AuthorToolboxBlogHop which you might like to check out for more advice.
Who Are You Going to Thank??
Judith Briles walks through the list of people in your ‘tribe’ who helped you create your book so you can properly include them in your Acknowledgements section. (You don’t want to forget anyone.)
Trends in Book Cover Design
Do you walk around the bookstore and check out the newest book covers? I do and am always interested in how trends fade and new ones pop up. So far this year we’re seeing a lot of big blocky text – either on a neutral background or a super-colorful background. This is a fun article analyzing this year's most popular design choices by Emily Temple at Lit Hub.
Searching for Bloggers to Review your Book
If you’ve ever wondered how to get started sending inquiries out to bloggers and asking them to review your books, here’s the article you’ve been waiting for. Stephanie Chandler at the Nonfiction Authors Association gives detailed links and resources on organizing your search for bloggers amenable to reviewing. It never hurts to ask, but it’s better to be asking the right person so you don’t waste your precious time. NOTE: There’s a link at the bottom of the article to check a website’s ranking to see how much traffic an individual blogger receives on their site. That link doesn’t take you to the right spot on the Alexa page, use this one instead: https://www.alexa.com/siteinfo
Everyone loves book swag, right? I know that I’ve had a lot of fun with Celtic-themed jewelry, book marks, and even more expensive things for book bundles and giveaways. I love to give things away (and also receive cool things from authors I love.) If you’re considering investing in some swag, Nate Hoffelder gives you the scoop on what to consider and even some great sites to go to.
I’ll do a shout out to my favorite book swag shop here on Etsy – which is aptly named: The Book Swag Shop
How to locate and pitch internet media sources
I often teach about reaching audiences by gaining attention in traditional media (tv/radio/newspaper/magazine) and on social media platforms, but I rarely talk about the media sources that “live” only on the internet. Obviously, we are increasingly getting our information from digital news sources. Here are 5 online public relations strategies to locate and pitch internet media sources.
Social Media Wrap Up
Don’t Wear Out your Followers
I always enjoy the “do this not that” book promotion advice on The Book Designer website. Amy Collins tells us this month how she basically broke up with a romance author on all her social media platforms – meaning she quit following her entirely. WHY?? Because all this author did was constantly promote their books. Authors -- do not constantly try to sell to your followers or subscribers. It wears them out and is not reflective of the best social media practices. (Although we could probably argue about what that means forever.) We’ve all been there with someone who just sells, sells, sells – whether it’s the latest health supplement or diet gimmick or yes, books. Don’t be that person. The good news is Collins gives a helpful list of what this author should have done instead.
I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about my LinkedIn account, which makes me realize I really need the advice from Bakerview Consulting. She’s created a handy infographic to walk you through designing the best LinkedIn profile possible. Time for a little housekeeping perhaps?
Happy Reading & Writing, Valerie