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Dear Extra Squeeze Team, How Do You Plan a Book Launch?

February 14, 2020 by in category Featured Author of the Month, The Extra Squeeze by The Extra Squeeze Team tagged as , , , , , ,

Each Friday in February we’ll be featuring The Extra Squeeze Team.

Ever wonder what industry professionals think about the issues that can really impact our careers? Each month The Extra Squeeze features a fresh topic related to books and publishing.

Amazon mover and shaker Rebecca Forster and her handpicked team of book professionals offer frank responses from the POV of each of their specialties — Writing, Editing, PR/Biz Development, and Cover Design.

Have you a question for The Extra Squeeze Team? Send them to us by using this handy link.

Dear Extra Squeeze, How Do You Plan a Book Launch?

Rebecca Forster | Extra Squeeze

Rebecca Forster 

USA Today Bestselling author of 35 books, including the Witness series and the new Finn O’Brien series.

When I published my first book over thirty years ago I assumed the publisher would have all sorts of glittery, fantastic promotions planned that would shoot me to literary stardom.

Not!

In those days – just like these days – the author is responsible for launching their book and establishing their brand. The good news is that now the opportunity for promotion is controllable. I maintain a new release plan that has proven manageable and effective over the course of more than thirty books.

1) Write a good book: professional, exciting, as error free as possible and packaged beautifully. All the promotion in the world will not support an inferior product.

2) Set up your pre-orders and then create excitement with a sneak peek of a few chapters on your website (don’t forget buy links at the end of these chapters).

3) Alert interested parties starting with distribution channels. Smashwords, for instance, has an alert for author’s running BookBub ads. Once they know your ad date, they will pass the information along to their bookstores, those bookstores will consider your book for further promotion. BookBub Partners has an automated per-order alert for your followers. Amazon has the same. Read the distributor’s newsletters and find out what free opportunities are there for the taking.

4) When your manuscript is ready, start submitting it for reviews (I love PRG and InD’Tale).

5) Continue to nurture and grow your social media followers and plan affordable advertising geared toward look-alike audiences. Try sites like LitRing (have loved the 4 promos I’ve done with them). Many advertising sites won’t take pre-order advertising but purchase spots for immediately after your launch while your book is new. I am not a fan of blog tours. I have only paid to do one but I couldn’t quantify the results so for me this isn’t part of my strategy.

The bottom line is this: write well, be aware of what is available, be as genre specific as possible in your target marketing and remember that the launch is the beginning and not the end of your marketing efforts for your book and your brand.

Jenny Jensen | A Slice of Orange

Jenny Jensen

Developmental editor who has worked for twenty plus years with new and established authors of both fiction and non-fiction, traditional and indie.

Marketers say someone has to see your book 7 or 8 times before they buy. I’m not a marketer, so I can’t vouch for that but all the on-line exposure of a blog tour must be good. It can’t hurt – or can it? Just as a poorly written book will not sell, a poorly presented blog tour will turn off your audience before they even turn on. You need to leave a positive, compelling impression.

 

Prepare Several Blurbs

 

Since the content should be unique to each site you’ll need to prepare several blurbs – those enticing peeks at your story – not to mention tweets and whatever other social media is on offer. You can approach a blurb in different ways: lead with the most startling action element, lead with the dilemma, lead with a spotlight on character or setting, but lead with a sentence that hooks.

 

Describe Your Story Well

 

However you describe your story it’s critical that it be well written. This is, after all, the reader’s first taste of your voice. I’ve read choppy, unstrung blurbs that show what might be an interesting plot if you overlook the way the words are strung together. Regardless of how intriguing the plot sounds my immediate reaction is: This person can’t write. I won’t be reading this one.

 

Edit. Edit. Edit.

 

Of course, you’ve written a great book. It’s been carefully crafted, closely edited for errors in all respects from plot and character development to syntax and grammar. Your beta readers love it. Now you have to craft the words to sell the story without a single spoiler and with the same silver voice of the book. Craft your blurbs and interview responses with the same care you gave your book. And edit, edit, edit.

Robin Blakely | The Extra Squeeze Team | A Slice of Orange

Robin Blakely

PR/Business Development coach for writers and artists; CEO, Creative Center of America; member, Forbes Coaches Council.

 


You need a PR plan to succeed. Straight up, any plan is better than no plan…and even if you are working with a traditional publisher, your plan may be the only plan that is ever created with much concern about building your long-term career. Accept early that your success as an author is not your publisher’s concern. Their business is centered around the products they have curated for their brand; it includes the book you created–not you.

The reality is, take care of yourself and build your own business.

Phase One is prep time.

 

Build or refresh your website. Connect your social media platforms to your website. Make sure that you use one author picture across platforms so that your brand has a singular face. Establish a media page to create and post your downloadable press kit. Include links to downloadable high-resolution images of your book cover and your author photo. Make sure you have a landing page for book sales.

Prepare a press release that offers the announcement of your book to share with your local paper, bloggers, industry influencers, and reviewers. Don’t know who they are? Figure it out. Clearly define the top four niches of your audience and start building a database of contacts to help you reach each target. In Phase One, fully create the day-by-day choreography for book launch week.

Phase Two is book launch week.

 

Synchronize your PR efforts to reach every corner of your world with news about your book in the seven days of the week that your book is first released. Everyone you can imagine needs to know now, all at once. Either plan a parade of activity or nothing will happen.

Phase Three is steady-to-the-course season.

 

PR efforts must be sustained. That means shift your message from new book announcement to relevant reasons to discover your book, reasons to peek inside, opportunities to read and buy.

How does a blog tour figure into all this? Up to you. The key is to decide when, how, and if you want a blog tour. It is hard work with lots of moving parts. It is a godsend for some authors and hellish for others.

H. O. Charles | A Slice of Orange

H.O. Charles

Cover designer and author of the fantasy series, The Fireblade Array


I wish I knew the answer to this one because if I did, I would be a ££££££££££££-ionaire by now! I can tell you what NOT to do. When I launched my first book, I did little more than list it on Amazon and submit it to Smashwords. I had no idea about advertising (still learning on that front), and I published in secret, under a pseudonym, so had no friend or colleague network to exploit.

 

Tip 1: Don’t go it alone – if you know people who can help, use them. This applies to other authors. If they see your work and like it, they might team up with you to do a newsletter promo or similar.

 

Tip 2: Don’t do what soooo many authors do and sign up to a forum, then post once about your amazing new book. It won’t get you sales, but it will get people’s backs up (may have done this <coughs>).

 

Tip 3: Don’t list your pre-orders at full price. If you’re unknown, no one will take a chance on you anyway so you may have to lure customers in by being cheap!

 

Positive tips:

  • Do look at advertising opportunities, and check out writers’ forum reviews on their effectiveness.
  • Do make sure all of your pages are set up nicely – web page, Goodreads page, Facebook page… etc. so that readers can look you up, contact you and leave reviews easily.
  • Try to get on a few blog interviews.
  • Do be careful with your PR and the claims you make. It’s perfectly okay to brag about your past achievements, as long as they’re verifiable. I’ve noticed a few writers recently who claim to have sold 200,000 books in a month – you go to their Amazon page, and their book is ranked #100,008,282,212! It’s very easy to see through such fabrications, and once a writer loses trust from their readership, it’s unlikely to be regained.

Last of all, I would say to keep your expectations low. I know that sounds dreadfully pessimistic, but realistically, very few authors do well on one book without the backing of an expensive PR agency. It’s only once you have a good body of work out there and plenty of positive reviews that more readers will start to notice you.

If you have a question or topic you would like the Extra Squeeze Team to tackle please use the this contact form.

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How do you prepare for a new book release? How important are blog tours?

June 30, 2017 by in category The Extra Squeeze by The Extra Squeeze Team tagged as , , , , , ,
The Extra Squeeze | A Slice of Orange

Ever wonder what industry professionals think about the issues that can really impact our careers? Each month The Extra Squeeze features a fresh topic related to books and publishing.

Amazon mover and shaker Rebecca Forster and her handpicked team of book professionals offer frank responses from the POV of each of their specialties — Writing, Editing, PR/Biz Development, and Cover Design.

How do you prepare for a new book release? How important are blog tours?

Rebecca Forster | Extra Squeeze

Rebecca Forster 

USA Today Bestselling author of 35 books, including the Witness series and the new Finn O’Brien series.

When I published my first book over thirty years ago I assumed the publisher would have all sorts of glittery, fantastic promotions planned that would shoot me to literary stardom.

Not!

In those days – just like these days – the author is responsible for launching their book and establishing their brand. The good news is that now the opportunity for promotion is controllable. I maintain a new release plan that has proven manageable and effective over the course of more than thirty books.

1) Write a good book: professional, exciting, as error free as possible and packaged beautifully. All the promotion in the world will not support an inferior product.

2) Set up your pre-orders and then create excitement with a sneak peek of a few chapters on your website (don’t forget buy links at the end of these chapters).

3) Alert interested parties starting with distribution channels. Smashwords, for instance, has an alert for author’s running BookBub ads. Once they know your ad date, they will pass the information along to their bookstores, those bookstores will consider your book for further promotion. BookBub Partners has an automated per-order alert for your followers. Amazon has the same. Read the distributor’s newsletters and find out what free opportunities are there for the taking.

4) When your manuscript is ready, start submitting it for reviews (I love PRG and InD’Tale).

5) Continue to nurture and grow your social media followers and plan affordable advertising geared toward look-alike audiences. Try sites like LitRing (have loved the 4 promos I’ve done with them). Many advertising sites won’t take pre-order advertising but purchase spots for immediately after your launch while your book is new. I am not a fan of blog tours. I have only paid to do one but I couldn’t quantify the results so for me this isn’t part of my strategy.

The bottom line is this: write well, be aware of what is available, be as genre specific as possible in your target marketing and remember that the launch is the beginning and not the end of your marketing efforts for your book and your brand.

Jenny Jensen | A Slice of Orange

Jenny Jensen

Developmental editor who has worked for twenty plus years with new and established authors of both fiction and non-fiction, traditional and indie.

Marketers say someone has to see your book 7 or 8 times before they buy. I’m not a marketer, so I can’t vouch for that but all the on-line exposure of a blog tour must be good. It can’t hurt – or can it? Just as a poorly written book will not sell, a poorly presented blog tour will turn off your audience before they even turn on. You need to leave a positive, compelling impression.

 

Prepare Several Blurbs

 

Since the content should be unique to each site you’ll need to prepare several blurbs – those enticing peeks at your story – not to mention tweets and whatever other social media is on offer. You can approach a blurb in different ways: lead with the most startling action element, lead with the dilemma, lead with a spotlight on character or setting, but lead with a sentence that hooks.

 

Describe Your Story Well

 

However you describe your story it’s critical that it be well written. This is, after all, the reader’s first taste of your voice. I’ve read choppy, unstrung blurbs that show what might be an interesting plot if you overlook the way the words are strung together. Regardless of how intriguing the plot sounds my immediate reaction is: This person can’t write. I won’t be reading this one.

 

Edit. Edit. Edit.

 

Of course, you’ve written a great book. It’s been carefully crafted, closely edited for errors in all respects from plot and character development to syntax and grammar. Your beta readers love it. Now you have to craft the words to sell the story without a single spoiler and with the same silver voice of the book. Craft your blurbs and interview responses with the same care you gave your book. And edit, edit, edit.

Robin Blakely | The Extra Squeeze Team | A Slice of Orange

Robin Blakely

PR/Business Development coach for writers and artists; CEO, Creative Center of America; member, Forbes Coaches Council.

 


You need a PR plan to succeed. Straight up, any plan is better than no plan…and even if you are working with a traditional publisher, your plan may be the only plan that is ever created with much concern about building your long-term career. Accept early that your success as an author is not your publisher’s concern. Their business is centered around the products they have curated for their brand; it includes the book you created–not you.

The reality is, take care of yourself and build your own business.

Phase One is prep time.

 

Build or refresh your website. Connect your social media platforms to your website. Make sure that you use one author picture across platforms so that your brand has a singular face. Establish a media page to create and post your downloadable press kit. Include links to downloadable high-resolution images of your book cover and your author photo. Make sure you have a landing page for book sales.

Prepare a press release that offers the announcement of your book to share with your local paper, bloggers, industry influencers, and reviewers. Don’t know who they are? Figure it out. Clearly define the top four niches of your audience and start building a database of contacts to help you reach each target. In Phase One, fully create the day-by-day choreography for book launch week.

Phase Two is book launch week.

 

Synchronize your PR efforts to reach every corner of your world with news about your book in the seven days of the week that your book is first released. Everyone you can imagine needs to know now, all at once. Either plan a parade of activity or nothing will happen.

Phase Three is steady-to-the-course season.

 

PR efforts must be sustained. That means shift your message from new book announcement to relevant reasons to discover your book, reasons to peek inside, opportunities to read and buy.

How does a blog tour figure into all this? Up to you. The key is to decide when, how, and if you want a blog tour. It is hard work with lots of moving parts. It is a godsend for some authors and hellish for others.

H. O. Charles | A Slice of Orange

H.O. Charles

Cover designer and author of the fantasy series, The Fireblade Array


I wish I knew the answer to this one because if I did, I would be a ££££££££££££-ionaire by now! I can tell you what NOT to do. When I launched my first book, I did little more than list it on Amazon and submit it to Smashwords. I had no idea about advertising (still learning on that front), and I published in secret, under a pseudonym, so had no friend or colleague network to exploit.

 

Tip 1: Don’t go it alone – if you know people who can help, use them. This applies to other authors. If they see your work and like it, they might team up with you to do a newsletter promo or similar.

 

Tip 2: Don’t do what soooo many authors do and sign up to a forum, then post once about your amazing new book. It won’t get you sales, but it will get people’s backs up (may have done this <coughs>).

 

Tip 3: Don’t list your pre-orders at full price. If you’re unknown, no one will take a chance on you anyway so you may have to lure customers in by being cheap!

 

Positive tips:

  • Do look at advertising opportunities, and check out writers’ forum reviews on their effectiveness.
  • Do make sure all of your pages are set up nicely – web page, Goodreads page, Facebook page… etc. so that readers can look you up, contact you and leave reviews easily.
  • Try to get on a few blog interviews.
  • Do be careful with your PR and the claims you make. It’s perfectly okay to brag about your past achievements, as long as they’re verifiable. I’ve noticed a few writers recently who claim to have sold 200,000 books in a month – you go to their Amazon page, and their book is ranked #100,008,282,212! It’s very easy to see through such fabrications, and once a writer loses trust from their readership, it’s unlikely to be regained.

Last of all, I would say to keep your expectations low. I know that sounds dreadfully pessimistic, but realistically, very few authors do well on one book without the backing of an expensive PR agency. It’s only once you have a good body of work out there and plenty of positive reviews that more readers will start to notice you.

If you have a question or topic you would like the Extra Squeeze Team to tackle please use the this contact form.

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MEET MY CHARACTERS

June 7, 2015 by in category Pink Pad by Tracy Reed tagged as , , ,

Tracy Reed

I have been on a blog tour for the past few weeks, which has been great. It’s given me a chance to chat with readers from all over. I can say that because, I know one of the blog stops was based in the United Kingdom and another was based in Australia. I’ve officially gone international. YEAH!

There are a lot of things I like about blog tours…I’ll expound more once it’s over. One of the things I like is it forced me to really get to know my book. I know that sounds strange seeing I wrote the story, but there were a lot of things I had forgotten about their back story and personality. We talk a lot about building or developing characters at RWA and this was very helpful.

I am the first to admit, I am a novice when it come to writer lingo or jargon…protagonist, story arch, subplot, syntax, deep point of view, conflict. antagonist, alliteration. And don’t get me started on length…short story, novelette , novella, full length, jumbo or super length. I may not explain it in correct author terms, but I get by. However, there’s one thing I know for sure, I read what I like and write what I like.

So when I decided to do the blog tour, I was asked to do a character interview. What the crap. I had no clue what that was. I’m not a stupid woman. I graduated college with honors. I had my own sports segment on my college television station for a year, which also aired on local cable. I interned in the Sports Department at the local NBC Station in Tulsa for a year. I worked in Public Relations and the music industry. Plus I run my own business, but this stumped me. When the blog tour promoter answered my simple question, another, “What the crap!” popped into my head. How was I going to interview these two people without giving the story away. Oh yeah, and I had to provide the questions.

I thought long and hard about this and once I started writing, it just flowed. This was my favorite type of interview to do during the tour. I’m already kicking around possible questions for characters from my next books. A good thing about this type of interview/post, is it makes the characters seem real, which helps tell the story.

Here’s my post from a couple of days ago that first appeared on Writer In Progress Blog [www.writerip.blogspot.com].
Meet GENERATIONAL CURSE’s Kyla James and Sean Prescott
GENERATIONAL CURSE is set in New York. However, there are a few things about Sean and Kyla you might find interesting. So let’s ask them.

Where do you live?
KYLA: Upper East Side
SEAN: Tribeca

Tell us about your family? Any sisters and/or brothers?
KYLA: I grew up in a traditional home. My father’s a doctor and my mother is his support. I have a younger sister, who’s also married to a doctor. All of them live in the suburbs.
SEAN: I grew up in a traditional situation. My dad is in construction and my mother worked in his office until a few years ago. They live in the suburbs. My older brother is married and is heart surgeon. He and his family live in California.

What do you do for a living?KYLA: I’m an Interior Designer
SEAN: I’m a Furniture Designer

Where do you work?
KYLA: All over Manhattan, the Hamptons and a few projects in Florida and Chicago
SEAN: My showroom is in Tribeca. However, I do custom work for clients all over the world.

How did you meet?
KYLA: I was leaving an appointment and walked passed his showroom and a chair in the window caught my eye.
SEAN: That’s not how we met. I was doing a showing in Charlotte and she came in.
KYLA: I don’t remember that.
SEAN: She walked in and started stroking all of the sofas and taking pictures. Then she asked if I shipped to New York. I said yes and gave her my card.
KYLA: Oh yeah. Now I remember. Because when he turned around and I saw his behind, I forgot about everything that happened beforehand.
SEAN: Really?
KYLA: Shut up. Next question.

Is that how you started working together?
KYLA: No. I think it was at least what, a year later?
SEAN: About six months. That’s when she walked into my showroom.
KYLA: That’s right, now I remember. It was the chair. I knew it looked familiar. I went inside and I was surprised to see him. We started talking and…

What about the chair?
KYLA: I ordered it for my client.
SEAN: Then she came back the following month for another client and we’ve been working on projects ever since.

So when did you start going out?
KYLA: Who said we were going out?
SEAN: We’re just friends.

Really, you seem very comfortable with each other.? [They’re both smiling]
KYLA: Uhm…I’m in a relationship right now. Besides, I don’t like to mix pleasure with business.
SEAN: So am I pleasure or business?
KYLA: Next question

Have you ever been in love? Engaged? Married?
KYLA: No. No. No.
SEAN: Yes. Yes. No.

What happened Sean?
SEAN: Next question

Tell us something the other doesn’t know about you:
KYLA: Sean’s my best friend.
SEAN: I’m in love with her.

Have you ever considered being more than friends?
KYLA: Uhm…I thought we covered this?
SEAN: Yes.
KYLA: Really?
SEAN: Yes.

Okay, here’s the lightening round.
Print or ebook?

KYLA: Both
SEAN: Both
CD, vinyl or iPod??
KYLA: Yes, no, yes
SEAN: All three

Movies: Chick flick, action, suspense, documentaries?
KYLA: All four
SEAN: All four
KYLA: Really, you like chick flicks
SEAN: Next questions

Jazz, Hip Hop or old school R&B?
KYLA: Jazz and old school
SEAN: All three

Favorite comfort food?
KYLA: Fried chicken
SEAN: Mac and Cheese

Favorite pizza topping?
KYLA: Mushrooms, sausage and extra cheese
SEAN: Pepperoni, sausage and extra cheese is a must

How do you take your coffee?
KYLA: Black
SEAN: Black

Favorite desset?
KYLA: Sugar cookies
SEAN: Gelato

Dog person or cat person?
KYLA: Dog
SEAN: Dog

City or Suburbs:
KYLA: City
SEAN: City

Taxi or Subway:
KYLA: Taxi and foot
SEAN: Taxi or foot, sometimes the subway or I drive

Will you ever get married?
KYLA: Next question
SEAN: Yes

Fiction for Women Who Love God, Couture and Cute Guys

Available at 
Amazon.comBarnes and NobleiTunesAll Romance eBooks

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emaginings: Blogging Around

January 16, 2013 by in category Archives tagged as , , , , , ,

Last month I promised a report on the blog hop and mini-tour I’d planned for my latest release How To Woo… A Reluctant Bride. I ended up doing a second blog hop in January, so will include that also. This is by no means scientific, but just the results of my little experiment. Keep in mind that this was an attempt to revive a blog that had been essentially dormant for several years, so there was little or no base of support to draw from.

Note: I’m only going to discuss sales at Amazon.com since those were the only ones of any size.

The Secret Santa Blog Hop was first, from Mon. Dec. 17 through Thursday Dec. 20. My story was uploaded to Amazon on Dec. 11 and was live by Dec. 12, so the blog hop took place the following week. The grand prize for this blog hop was a Kindle Fire preloaded with a bunch of the participating authors books, including mine. The prize for commenting on my post was a $15.00 gift card, and over the course of the hop + tour, I also gave away two free e-books (winners choice). I got 25 entrants for the gift card. Not bad. The page views during the hop ranged from 66 the first day (some of them me until I figured out I could check comments from the Dashboard) to only 14 on the last day.

I checked my sales on Sunday and again on Thursday and saw I had picked up ten sales. Might have been more if I hadn’t offered e-book giveaways for the mini-blog tour. Someone, I’ve forgotten who, said not to do that. Offer something other than a book so they will buy yours. I think it’s good advice.

Starting on Thursday, Dec. 21, I blogged at several other sites including the main TRS (The Romance Studio) blog on Dec. 21. There were very few comments and I have no idea how many page hits were involved. However, by Monday, Dec. 2 4, I had sold another 15 copies. Again, not too bad when everyone is getting ready for the holidays. By Dec. 29 I was up to a total of 79 copies.

This month I participated in the Something New, Something Naughty Blog Hop from Thu. Jan.  10 through Sun. Jan. 13. Page views ranged from 26 to 42 and I had comments from 27 people. The grand prizes for this hop were gift certificates from EdensFantasy and two other gift cards of the winner’s choice. Again I did the $15.00 gift card giveaway.

I also guested at Louisa Bacio’s blog on Jan. 11 and she told me there were 138 page views. That’s awesome!

By the evening of Jan. 11, my sales for that month at Amazon were up to 102, in addition to the 79 in December. I realize that might not sound like a lot to some of you, but it was more than I expected, so I am happy.

My thoughts:

I liked the blog hop better as there was some camaraderie with the other writers involved and I only had to come up with one blog post for each tour. Writing blog posts can be time consuming. The mini-blog tour (3 days, 4 different blogs) was more stressful as each one had to be different. Next time I will try to plan further ahead to lessen the stress, but this was thrown together very last minute. 

Did the blog hop and mini-blog tour help?

I’ll never be certain, but I can’t imagine it hurt. The objective was to raise my visibility online and I do think that happened. Next time I may do a smaller amount on the gift card giveaway, but this is all a learning process. I’m not sure I recommend doing two blog hops so close together, but with a new release, and at this time of year, I think this was a good move. I would definitely blog hop again and I’m grateful to the writers who organized the hops, namely Tabitha Blake (Secret Santa) and Jennifer Wright and Lisabet Sarai (Something New, Something Naughty) as well as our own Louisa Bacio.

UPDATE: I forgot to add thanks to Tara Lain for her fabulous talk on blog tours at the November OCC meeting, and to my three Yahoo support groups where I learned about self-publishing and discovered organized blog tours: Indie Romance Ink, Authors Network and Marketing For Romance Writers. And a big thanks to Vivienne Westlake, author of A Marquess For Christmas, for doing an excerpt exchange.

Now I have to stop blogging for a bit and work on another story!

Has anyone else tried blog tours or hops? Any thoughts on their effectiveness? 

Linda Mac w/a Lyndi Lamont

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