Category Archives: Marketing & Publishing

To Blog or Not to Blog My Novel

I have been going back and forth trying to decide whether or not to publish my fiction book titled My Stolen Diaries, traditionally, independently, or chapter by chapter through my blog The Teri Tome.  

For several weeks I have been thinking about how the process of organizing and arranging the chapters would come together while researching examples of formats other bloggers have used to post their books online.

So far, I haven’t found any articles that explain in detail or show actual examples of how blogged books are laid out.

I’m guessing I couldn’t find explicit samplings of how to blog a novel because writers either aren’t blogging their novels, or they haven’t found a functional fiction format.

I did find a few articles about how to blog a nonfiction single-topic book.

But in my opinion, the process of blogging a book lends itself well to nonfiction vs. fiction.

Additionally, all of the articles I found regarding how to blog a single-topic, non-fiction book suggests that to blog a book, a separate blog needs to be created to support the effort.

But my blog The Teri Tome gets over 30,000 page views a month, so why would I want to start all over with a brand new blog that nobody has ever seen or heard of?

I don’t want to create a blog called My Stolen Diaries. What I want to do is blog my novel My Stolen Diaries within my existing blog, The Teri Tome.

The question is: how to blog my novel within a blog?

An actual novel moves methodically page by page through the storyline allowing the reader to pick up where they left off, so blogging my novel is going to be challenging.

What I hope to do is to cohesively blog my novel and weave it all together post by post or chapter by chapter to tell the story in a way my readers can keep up with it, without having to search around for the beginning, middle and end.

And the last thing I want my reader to do is to get to the end of the book before the beginning. Nobody wants to be the victim of a spoiler, and I would totally never want to be that person.

Since I found nothing to guide me as to how to blog my novel, I decided to make my best effort to test out some formats and see what sticks.

While I didn’t find any articles that showed me how to blog a novel, I did find some generally useful articles, although I disagreed with many of them:

  • A blog should have 10-15 categories. [My blog has a hefty 21 categories before I even add My Stolen Diaries so sue me.] 
  • A new blogger should post often if they want to bring significant traffic to their blog (At least three times per week – each post approximately 300 words long, until they reach a minimum of 1,000 posts). [I never post that often, I still don’t have 1,000 total posts and as I stated earlier, I enjoy over 30,000 page views a month. So there.]
  • A dedicated [?] and seasoned [??] blogger should blog their book daily – each post approximately 500 words long). [Blogging a chapter a day of my novel seems highly unlikely, and as the queen of verbiage I need to write way more than 500 words per post. BTW, this blog post is over 1,600 words! And I would consider myself both dedicated and seasoned. So, as they say in my neck of the woods: fuggedaboutit.]  
  • The importance of writing an “Elevator Pitch” for your blogged book in fifty words or less. [Click here for the article I wrote about the grueling process I went through to come up with a 25-word book pitch for Our Romantic Getaway, although I have yet to use it in an elevator.] 
  • How to market your blogged book and requesting reviews. [Click here for the article I penned about book marketing and requesting reviews. That was before I realized that it was an all-consuming job. And please don’t judge me, but after umpteen hours of marketing and requesting, I gave up on my own advice. My bad.]
  • How to create a book flyer. [Here is my post about creating book flyers. As the late great Yul Brynner aka Pharaoh once said: So let it be written; let it be done. And okay, after a gazillion hours of mailing out flyers, I gave up on that too. Sorry not sorry.]
  • How and who to hire for search engine optimization (SEO). [Now I have to worry about SEO? Who the heck has time to write? But okay I went on the website Fiverr, and I’m working on that.]
    • How to add your blog to a blog directory. [This was a new one on me. The recommended directory was Blogarama.com, who boasts millions of visitors, so I happily submitted my blog. There is a free and paid part to their site. I signed up for free and received an email from them, letting me know that they had indexed 11 of my blog posts. But try as I might, I never found any of the supposed indexed posts, so good luck with that.]
  • The best format for creating an About the Author section is to write your achievements, expertise, and experience in the third person. [I originally wrote my About page in the first person, so I changed it up. Click here for everything you wanted to know about Teri (or not) but never asked or cared to ask. Oh, and speaking of asking;  if you wanted to ask but thought better of it, NO my novel Our Romantic Getaway is NOT about me, and YES I am wearing a top in my author photo.]
  • How to set up Google alerts so you can track your business, yourself, or any other kind of stuff. [I went on Google Alerts and added my websites, my name, blog to novel deals, how to blog a novel, worldpress.org, The Teri Tome, and terischure.com. FYI: My g-mail account is now inundated with useless alerts, but don’t go by me.] 
  • Understanding Web traffic. [Quick and easy: Concentrate on your Monthly Page Views and Unique Users. Hits are meaningless.]

Back in 2014, I published my first novel titled Our Romantic Getaway, and while it makes some money, it’s a pittance compared to the number of hours over the five long years I spent writing it.

I know.. I need to market it, and I will. I might even blog a few chapters of it. Call it avoidance behavior, but right now I’m busy with other mundane work stuff so the relaunch of Getaway will have to wait.

I’m also in the midst of publishing a not-so-mundane children’s book I wrote back in 1970 when I was seventeen. It should be out in three to four weeks. Excited!

And…I also have a cookbook sitting on the back burner. [Pun intended.] 

But My Stolen Diaries has always been the bucket-novel I’ve dreamed nonstop of publishing.

Plus, My Stolen Diaries seems like the perfect blog-a-novel project, mainly because of its event-based format.

I started writing it back in the 1990s. So far, I have 168 pages and 117,653 words.

If I assume that each average post will be 1,500 words in length, I need to write at least 78 blog posts for My Stolen Diaries.

Now I recognize, that’s a ton of posts/chapters, so here’s the dilemma:

How do I present the posts/chapters in a way that readers can easily catch up with the earlier posts/chapters they may have missed?

And will anyone take the time to slog through 78+ posts/chapters?

After racking my brain, trying to figure out what to call each post: Chapters, Episodes, Scenes, Events…

It finally hit me!

Duh.

Diary = Entry.

So, I guess I’ll start at the very beginning; entry by entry.

What have I got to lose?

What harm could it do to post some of my novel entries into cyberspace and then analyze what you all think?

Worse case, I’ll post a few entries of My Stolen Diaries and give up if I see that the Page Views don’t warrant my time.

Plus, what better way to test-market my dream book than sharing it with my die-hard readers?

And since my novel is only partially written, it won’t be like I’m giving the entire store (in this case, story) away.

Note to my readers: Your opinion about My Stolen Diaries will help me to determine whether or not to keep on keeping on, so I welcome your thoughts and suggestions. Okay, let’s be honest, I NEED your thoughts and suggestions, so puleeze help me out here?

But before presenting you with Diary Entry One, here is how I would like to disclaim:

[My Stolen Dairies is a work of fiction. F-I-C-T-I-O-N. Although its format is based on a personal diary, it’s not real. It’s made up. Space and time have been moved around to accommodate the book, and except the mentioning of some public figures, any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. The events expressed in My Stolen Diaries are those of the characters and should not be confused with the views and opinions of the author. The author will not be held responsible or liable for any perceived or actual loss or damage to any person or entity, directly or indirectly caused by or alleged to have been caused by anything in My Stolen Diaries. If anyone happens to see themselves in any of the characters, that’s on them and a figment of their overly imaginative imagination.]

Stay tuned for Diary Entry One.

Self-Publishing Tips

Self-publishing is often the best, and sometimes the only way for writers to get their works into print.

Self-publishing is challenging, but the concept that all self-published books are subpar is untrue, and more and more writers are choosing to take publishing matters into their own hands.

The old adage that traditional publishing is the only way to make a living as a writer is also untrue.

Self-publishing, once considered a low-end publishing option, offers authors publication speed, complete control, full rights, and no excess inventory.

Self-publishing is the fastest growing segment of the publishing industry, but be prepared to spend a lot of time and effort getting the word out about your book.

As an example, Fifty Shades of Grey was originally self-published, and E.L. James is now considered one the wealthiest authors in the world.

In addition to E.L. James, here is a short list of famous self-publishing authors:

Walt Whitman: Leaves of Grass
Mark Twain: Huckleberry Finn
John Grisham: A Time to Kill
Richard Bolles: What Color Is Your Parachute?
Ron Hubbard: Dianetics
Irma Rombauer: The Joy of Cooking
Richard Nixon: Real Peace
James Redfield: The Celestine Prophecy

This is just a small sampling of self-published writers whose works have sold millions of copies. And some of them are still self-publishing and still making a ton of money with their self-published books.

Despite what the traditional publishing conglomerates would like you to believe, readers like what they like, and read what moves them. They could care less if a book is self-published or not.

I receive hundreds of emails asking me the same self-publishing questions over and over. The bottom line is that they are looking for the top tips or the top rules.

But there really are no set rules, and no wrong or right way to self-publish. It’s all up to preference and how much money you want to spend.

And I’m not claiming to know everything about self-publishing.

This article is but a small sampling of what I have learned along the self-publishing way. If anyone has anything to add to this list, please comment at the end of this article.

Once your book has been written and before you sign up with a self-publisher go to https://www.copyright.gov/ and copyright your work.  And make sure to include a copyright page in your book.

Every good self-publishing company will offer you a free editing assessment, so before making a final decision, ask to see what editing changes they would make to a couple of your chapters.

First things first—you will want a non-exclusive contract. Paperback books are less expensive to produce than a hard cover version, and black and white is less than color.

One on one customer service is crucial. And you can negotiate editing services as part of your package, but make sure their editors are competent.

Make sure all distribution of paperback/hard cover and eBooks are in your name, and your name only.

Make sure you purchase a package that offers worldwide distribution for paperback/hardcover and eBooks.

Approximately 60% of all eBooks are sold through Amazon and distributed through Kindle which is marketed by Amazon. If you want wider eBook distribution, like Nook, you may have to pay extra.

Try to get your eBook on as many eReading devices as possible. In addition to Amazon, some distribution examples are Google Play, iTunes, Barnes & Noble (Nook), Kobo Books, and Smashwords.

An average cost for a quality self-publishing package can range anywhere from $1,000 to $1,600.

There are of course more expensive packages, but unless you are using a ton of four-color inside pages, you shouldn’t need to spend more than that.

Book distributors traditionally get 55% of the retail price of the book, out of which they pay 40% to the bookseller.

You will want to back into the retail price of your book based on how much it will cost to print.

So for example, if it costs $3 to print your book, you may want to put a price point on it of $12.

Then, 55% of the $12 price point or $6.60 would go to the distributor. So, $12 (retail price) less $6.60 (distributor) less $3 (printing) leaves $2.40 in royalties.

Pay close attention to royalties in self-publishing packages.

Best case scenario is to receive ALL royalties.

Some self-publishing packages require a royalty percent, but I wouldn’t personally sign up with a company that does.

And make sure your package includes: ISBN Assignment, Library of Congress Control Number, and EAN/Barcode.

Make sure the font size in your book is large enough. I would recommend that you choose your type size and font yourself, so you know and like what you are getting.

And you should get at least ten paperback/hard cover copies of your finished product.

Your book design is also a key component of your self-publishing package. You will need a paperback/hard cover format, eBook format and custom interior formatting, and a custom cover design.

You should be able to see two design versions of your cover, including the back cover and then pick the one you like best.

Make sure you can print your book at a wholesale publisher cost and that you receive at least one physical proof copy.

I like to see digital proofs at each stage, but that’s me.

If you decide to go the self-publishing route be prepared to do a ton of marketing because obvi no one else is going to do it for you. See my blog post re: marketing tips.

Good luck and happy writing!

Definition of Marketing

First-date-2

As a seasoned marketing consultant, I know what stratagem and techniques I need to implement to best perform my job, and ultimately produce a successful outcome. And explaining marketing as a one hit wonder is relatively easy—but totally inaccurate.

Marketing is a methodical process by which users can learn about and obtain information regarding the end product. One shouldn’t confuse marketing with advertising, although advertising plays a crucial part in the overall process. So does brand management, product pitching, and content messaging. And all of these tools and then some are equally essential to properly package and ultimately sell the end product.

And make no mistake about it there is a fair amount of technical research, combined with critically-timed execution in conjunction with a multi-tiered support system that goes into how to best achieve the ultimate product goal.

But when I was recently asked to write an article clarifying the difference between marketing, advertising, public relations, branding, telemarketing, and strategic planning, I had a difficult time cogently explaining the distinction between all of them.

So below is my example of the marketing process, including methodical tactics and maneuvers, using a hypothesis many of you parents out there can relate to:

End Product
Single daughter

Target Marketing
You’re the mother of the single daughter and on the lookout for an eligible bachelor for her.

Advertising
You’re introduced to the mother of a single son at a party and you say, “My daughter is a successful lawyer.”

Telemarketing
The next day you call the mother of the bachelor and say “Let’s set up my daughter, who is a successful lawyer, with your son.”

Marketing Research
The son goes on the internet to see what he can find out about the daughter.

Brand Awareness
The daughter and the son go on a date set up by their mothers, and the son says “I hear you’re a successful lawyer.”

Direct Marketing
The daughter replies to the son, “Yes, I am a successful lawyer.”

Public Relations
The daughter gives the son corporate material about her law firm for him to take home.

Word of Mouth Prospecting
The son confides to the daughter that he is having tax issues, and she says “We have a successful lawyer at my firm who specializes in tax law.”

Sales Representative
The date between the daughter and son goes well, but she gets the impression that he isn’t interested in her on a romantic level, so she says, “I have a friend who might be perfect for you.”

Loyalty Program
The daughter’s friend and the son are now in a relationship, so the son sends flowers to the daughter to thank her for the setup.

Technical Support
The son has decided that he wants to break up with the daughter’s friend, so he calls the daughter for advice.

Product Recognition
The son levels with the daughter that he has stronger feelings for her than he realized.

Inbound Marketing
The son asks the daughter out for a romantic dinner.

Message Strategy
The daughter buys a new dress and has her hair and makeup done for the date.

Content Messaging
The daughter goes out of her way to impress and engage the son, making sure she makes it clear to him that she’s interested.

Call to Action
The son and daughter have a phantasmagorical date and the son offers to make dinner for her at his apartment the next night.

Guerrilla Tactic
The daughter goes to the son’s apartment for dinner wearing a little black dress and Louboutin heels.

Lead Nurturing
The daughter and the son begin an exclusive relationship.

Brand Loyalty
The son falls madly in love with the daughter.

Viral Marketing
The couple gets engaged and the daughter posts it on Instagram.

End User
The son marries the daughter.

Book Marketing Flyer for Dummies

Our Romantic Getaway Book Flyer Ad Final
Anyone with Word can create this easy do-it-yourself sell sheet.

As a member of the National Association of Book Entrepreneurs (NABE), my novel Our Romantic Getaway was recently included in their marketing efforts at the 2015 Pacific Northwest Booksellers Show in Portland, Oregon.

As a follow-up, I wanted to send a marketing flyer to all of the potential buyers who visited their booth and/or had expressed interest in my book.

I went online and researched how to put together an effective sell sheet, but was unable to find anything that I could tailor for my personal use. I am a fan of Vistaprint.com for printing postcards, business cards, and other marketing materials, but they had no templates available that appropriately fit my book selling sheet needs.

So I did a little cut and paste job in Word and voila, I came up with an attractive, cogent marketing tool.

I purchased white 8.5 x 11 card stock (65 lb) and fed the paper through my printer feeder—the front page first, and then placed the completed front page back into the feeder for the back section.

You can download this PDF to see the final product. Our Romantic Getaway Book Flyer

If you need assistance putting a sell sheet together, contact me and I would be happy to quote you an extremely reasonable price to do it for you!

Below is a quick and easy guide to a DIY marketing flyer:

Keep your sell sheet clean and simple. It’s better to include detailed information about a couple of things than to have bits of partial information about a lot of things.

Include a quote, excerpt of a review, blurb, or endorsement from a well-known person or well-respected authority. Including any awards your book has received will give you credibility as an author.

Flyers with color will almost always stand out from plain black and white flyers. You don’t have to spend a lot of money for the flyer, and if you have a color printer you can print them yourself. If you don’t have a color printer and don’t want to spend the money to have your flyer professionally printed, you can use brightly colored printing paper with bold black text to make sure your flyer stands out.

You don’t want to risk producing a flyer with sub-standard print quality, so while it may be cost effective to use your own printer, Kinkos, Staples, Office Max, or any similar retail
printing establishment can provide affordable flyer printing services. You want your final product to look as professional as possible, so make sure your printer can provide the quality you need.

And don’t forget to make sure your contact information is easy to locate. Offer clear instructions on how to reach you or how to take advantage of your promotion.

If you set up your flyer in Word, your first side should highlight your book cover only. That’s what you’re trying to sell right? The second side of the flyer will include all the other information.

Here is what I included on my flyer:

    • A photo of the book cover (I copied a jpg of my cover and pasted it into Word)
    • Title of the book (I also placed an award sticker on my front page)
    • Author name
    • Brief description (See my article Write the Perfect Book Blurb for tips)
    • Publisher
    • Category
    • Format
    • ISBN#
    • Pages
    • Retail Price 
    • Contact Information (Mailing address, e-mail, website, blog, telephone)
    • Author Photo (I printed out a photo, using double-sided tape to add it to flyer)
    • About the Author
    • If you are available for book signing events, add a line saying so
    • A quote, excerpt of a review, blurb, or endorsement from a well-known person or well-respected authority.
    • Relevant PR or marketing plans) (only if you have room)

If you are mailing the flyer, try to call ahead and get the name of the manager. If you don’t know the name of the manager you can address it as “Attention: Book Buyer.”

If you are visiting the local bookstores in your surrounding area, ask to speak to the manager of the store. If the manager is not available, leave the flyer anyway. But make sure to ask for the manager’s name so you can contact or mail them at a later date.

Introduce yourself as a local author, and encourage them to order your book and stock it in their store. Emphasize the fact that you plan on promoting your book extensively in the area and would like to tell people where they can find it for purchase, i.e. recommending their store. You may also decide to leave a copy of your book for their review.

If the bookstore enjoys lots of traffic, etc. and you wish to conduct a book signing there, ask the manager if he or she is interested in hosting a book signing. Most bookstore managers love hosting events, particularly with a local author that will encourage patrons to buy books from their store.

If your flyer is more of a marketing tool for readers, let them know where to purchase your book. If the book is carried by only one or two wholesalers, list them. If handled by a distributor, include the distributor’s name and 800#.

Sometimes it takes more than one mailing to interest a potential buyer so don’t give up too quickly.  And don’t expect miracles. Marketing is a process. It takes time. Look how long it took you to write your book!

Writing the Perfect Book Blurb in 25 Words

Marketing books

I was recently asked to provide a book blurb for my novel Our Romantic Getaway  in 25 words or less—including the title. As the queen of verbiage, this was no easy task.

I started out with 375 words, and then cut it back to 180. That was the easy breezy part. Then I copied and pasted, added and deleted for a while, and whittled it down to 100. How was I going to shave off another 75 words?

Try as I could, the 25 word blurb was not progressing well at all.

I applied my old grade school lesson of who what when why where. This was actually quite helpful.

With some major who what when why and whereing, I was finally able to get to 25 words exactly! It was a time consuming and laborious exercise, but the creation of a succinct 25 word pitch was eventually accomplished as follows:

Our Romantic Getaway:  A couple’s vacation goes awry when they are bumped to a risqué nude resort. Can their marriage survive the bizarre, eye-opening experience?

My 25 word accomplishment got me thinking of all kinds of things I could narrow down.

Like…

A bathroom reminder for my husband:  Roll toothpaste from bottom, toilet seat down, wipe sink, use your towel, toilet paper goes over, clean toothpaste off mirror, change light bulb if dark.

(I was so proud of this one that I wrote it on a post it and stuck it on the bathroom mirror.)

Important kitchen reminders: Garbage pickup Tuesday and Friday, no dirty dishes in sink, write grocery list legibly, do not overflow trash can, dining room table not for storage.

(I was getting pretty good at this 25 word blurb thing so I really went on a roll.)

Thirteen major no no’s: Don’t gossip, spit in public, be greedy, curse, lecture, slouch, be cheap, crack knuckles, blow nose in restaurants, bite nails, talk with mouth full, procrastinate.

Life lessons for my kids Yoda style: Text and drive do not. Seek advice you must. Your mother and father honor. Your best try. Fair life is not. To dope say nope.

 

How to Market Your Book

Marketing your book

I get hundreds of e-mails asking me how my book is selling and what kind of effort I have been putting into getting it out there.

Here is my partial answer:

As a recent novelist, I can tell you that the marketing and selling of Our Romantic Getaway  has been grueling. The payoff has been worth it, although it has been slow going and ridiculously time-consuming.  Bottom line: It’s all about the buzz.

Okay, so you wrote a book and it’s finally out there. Congratulations! The feeling of holding a copy of your published work is indescribable. But once the euphoria wears off it’s time to sell and market.

You thought writing the book was exhausting? Writing it was the opening act. Now it’s time for the featured presentation.

It takes a village to be a successful writer. And writers need readers—a village of them. Focus on readers and you’ll get sales.

You may not think of yourself as a salesperson, but you better start thinking like one if you want your book to be successful.

First and foremost, you need to create and build a large and loyal fan base. It’s all about branding. You need to brand yourself as an author, editor, publisher, blogger, marketer, and anything else worth branding.  It’s all about creating your authorial image and persona.

The most successful selling tool available to you is word of mouth. Don’t be afraid to cultivate readers—one reader at a time.

Make sure to give away books. If you hand out your book for free to one person, they may tell two, and those two may tell four. When people talk positively about your book, the word will spread fast, and your book will sell.  The more people read it (and presumably like it), the quicker the word will spread, and with enough people spreading the word, you’ve finally got buzz.

But if no one knows your book is out there, no one will buy it, which equals zero buzz.  And zero sales.

Start compiling a list of magazines, websites, blogs and organizations you think are in sync with your book genre. Then send out a review request in the hopes of getting reviewed.

Here is an example of a review request:

I’ve recently published a book and would appreciate your considering reading it for possible review.  My book is entitled [Book title here]; see the short synopsis below.

[Synopsis here.]

If you are interested in reading my book, I’ll gladly send a complimentary copy. If you would like additional information about me or my book, please go to [Website here].

Thank you in advance for your time, and I hope to hear from you.  

Create an author website. Create a Facebook page (book title or author). Create a blog. Create a Twitter account.  Blog, tweet and Facebook often, and build a solid base of followers and friends.  Social media is the only way to build an audience, and eventually you’ll find your subset. Or more accurately, your subset will find you.

Offer to speak at workshops for free, and donate books to appropriate organizations.

Send any reader who contacts you a request for a short review on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, etc. Here is an example of a reader review request:

Thanks so much for your kind words about my book! If you have a spare moment, it would be a great help if you could post a review of it on Amazon, Goodreads or Barnes and Noble. Letting other potential readers know why you liked the book would help increase interest in it. It’s not necessary to write a lengthy, formal review—a quick summary is perfect. Here are the links should you be so kind as to write a review: [Insert links here].

Create quality promotional business cards and postcards and have them available at all times. Remember that you are never off marketing duty.

And don’t be discouraged if months later your book is still unknown. Your marketing can take years. And try to publish a book every year. No, I’m not kidding. But only if you can crank out a quality book. Quality is critical.

Don’t expect best seller status overnight—if at all. But never stop marketing your name and your books.  And never stop building a loyal readership and fan base.

Good luck!