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Featuring The Extra Squeeze Team

February 21, 2021 by in category Featured Author of the Month, The Extra Squeeze by The Extra Squeeze Team tagged as , , , , , , ,

Each week 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 Team, How do you prepare for a new book release?

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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

Send us your questions! 

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Everything But a Dance by Linda O. Johnston

August 6, 2018 by in category Pets, Romance & Lots of Suspense by Linda O. Johnston tagged as , , , ,

Everything but a Dance | Linda O. Johnston | A Slice of Orange


I’ve blogged here before about the importance of authors letting the world know about our books.  Writers may prefer just sitting at their computers and writing.  We’re more successful, though, when we actually publish those manuscripts we’ve spent so much time, effort and love on and let others read what we’ve been up to. 

The internet and social media help a lot with letting readers know what we’ve written, but it also helps to get out in the world and meet readers and discuss our stories with them.

I’ve been doing quite a bit of that lately—not that I don’t always seem to have something pending. Or just behind me.  I write in different genres, so I’m always busy.

Recently, I attended the RWA National Conference in Denver, where I had a great time—and was recognized for having had my 25th Harlequin novel published.

Returning home to L.A., I headed south to San Diego, where I participated in a panel called Romancing the Galaxy at Mysterious Galaxy, a bookstore specializing in—what else?—mysteries and sci-fi, but they also include romantic suspense and are now branching out into more romance.

Also, in the past couple of weeks, I’ve been on a delightful panel with other mystery authors at the Beverly Hills Library.  And yesterday, I did a reading from my most recent Barkery & Biscuits Mystery Pick and Chews at the August meeting of the Sisters in Crime, Los Angeles Chapter.

More to come?  Always.  Can I tell you about it?  Not yet.  All I can say for certain right now, though, is that it won’t involve my dancing in front of a crowd—fortunately for me and for that crowd.

One thing I wholeheartedly believe in, though, is that writers don’t just write, then promote themselves.  Writers help other writers in all stages of writing, from starting out to finishing books, then getting published, and, yes, then in getting out there and promoting.  So, thanks to those writers out there who’ve been there, and continue to be there, for me.  And if any writer has any questions for me, whatever stage you may be in, let me know.

And, oh yes, I’ll be glad to tell you more about my own stories.


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Publicity by Linda O. Johnston

April 6, 2018 by in category Pets, Romance & Lots of Suspense by Linda O. Johnston tagged as , ,

Publicity | Linda O. Johnston | A Slice of OrangeI mentioned my first book of 2018 last month when it was published.  There will be three more published this year, and the second will be a May release.

It’s PICK AND CHEWS, the fourth in my Barkery & Biscuits Mystery Series for Midnight Ink., and the only one this year that isn’t a romance.

I’ve started publicizing it already, which is always necessary when you have a book published, whether traditionally as mind mostly are, or self-published.  This week, I appeared on a panel of other mystery writers at the Altadena Main Library, where several of us talked about the mystery subgenres we write in.

And what else is pending?  Well, I’ll be at the L.A. Times Festival of Books later this month.  There, I’ll spend some time at the Romance Writers of America booth, where I’ll get to publicize my romances, including the book published last month: the first in my K-9 Ranch Rescue miniseries for Harlequin Romantic Suspense, SECOND CHANCE SOLDIER.  I also have times scheduled at a couple of booths for mystery writers, sponsored by local chapters of the Mystery Writers of America.

Next?  Malice Domestic, a conference in Bethesda, Maryland, that features cozy mysteries, as mine are.  And after that my next conference is RWA National in Denver this year–where of course my focus of publicizing my work will be on my romances.

Then there are my ongoing blogs, here at A Slice of Orange, plus Killer Characters, Killer Hobbies, Under Cover of Midnight, and The Writers in Residence, plus more at Writerspace.

Then there’s social media.  I’m on Facebook a lot.

Is that all?  I certainly hope it isn’t.  Publicity is something that continues.  And, fortunately, it’s mostly fun!

What about for you?  Do you do a lot of publicity?  What are your favorite resources?


A Barkery & Biscuits Mystery


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Celebrating Indies with Their Own Magazine: InD’Tale

May 15, 2014 by in category Archives tagged as , ,
InD’Tale’s TJ MacKay & me
Recently, I met T.J. MacKay, the brilliant, savvy blonde and very vivacious lady behind the new on-line magazine, InD’Tale. The magazine is for readers and indie authors, blending industry information with behind-the-scenes looks at the writing life. Her passion for those folks who forge the road less traveled with their literary vision and are now paving it with their talent, is unparalleled.  Her emphasis on romance is just the tip of the iceberg. For Mothers Day, here is an interview with a lady who just gave birth to a magazine every author should read.
Rebecca: InD’Tale is a great play on words. Why the focus on Indie Authors?
T.J.: When Indie was just starting to boom, there was no really credible platform in the industry for all the talented authors.  I wanted to provide the singular place where they could learn some of the tricks of the trade and be celebrated through interviews and reviews.
Rebecca:  To follow up on the word play, is there such a thing as an Indie Reader?
T.J.: Almost everyone could be considered an “Indie Readers.”  I don’t think readers give a hoot whether a book has a publishers stamp on it or not – they just want a really good, well-crafted story.
Rebecca: Tell me about two articles in upcoming issues – one for authors and one for readers.
T.J.: Mark Coker of Smashwords.com – one of the first to celebrate indie authors – just signed on to be a re-occurring contributor. He has an article on the way in June.  We are finishing up a great three part series on screenwriting by one of Hollywood’s newest talents.  For readers (as well as authors) we have a behind the scenes look at an industry photo shoot that takes us step by step through the process of creating amazing book covers We do an in-depth feature interview on a favorite best selling author each month. This is done in a personal, conversational style so readers can really get to know the author … oh goodness, I could go on and on! 
Rebecca: You specifically talk to USA Today and NYT bestsellers for your in-depth interviews. Why?
T.J.: The feature interview is a 7 – 8 page layout, so the highlighted author needs to have the experience and credentials to be able to help teach those who are working to achieve that same level of success.
Rebecca: Do you know the requirements for an indie author to hit those lists so we can try really hard?
T.J.: The NY Times requires sales in multiple venues, which – when traditional was the only way to go – seemed fair and reasonable.  Now that Indie is such a huge portion of the industry, however, it’s become quite a conundrum for them.  Indie authors are making money but it is from one or two distributors (almost always Amazon) which doesn’t qualify them.  I asked the Vice-President of Amazon about it and he said, “Until we can convince New York to change their policy, authors may be faced with a choice: get rich or get on the list.”  I think this will eventually change.
Rebecca: How do you choose the books you’ll review?
T.J.:  As of right now, we review all books that are submitted and qualify. You can see our guidelines on the website. We review between 80 – 100 books a month and are working two months out right now.
Rebecca: Who are your reviewers?
T.J.: Currently, we have 24 reviewers.  All have professional credentials and are strictly screened and trained.  Professional reviews require a reviewer to set aside their personal views and look at a book from a strictly objective point of view. We have very specific guidelines that must be adhered to in order to maintain consistency and credibility. I also randomly read some of the books that are being reviewed to make sure that standard stays consistent.
Rebecca: Your emphasis is romance. Will you review other genres? 
T.J.: Actually our emphasis is NOT just on romance. We review almost all genres and require only that there be a romantic thread within the story. 
Rebecca: Are you or have you ever been an author? You are pretty darn passionate about books.
T.J.: Actually, I’m just pretty darn passionate about people and books! I doubt I’ll ever write a book. I was a journalist and my passion is in helping incredible authors become successful. I’m also an avid reader.  I read an average of 5 to 6 books a week just to keep up!
Rebecca: What else do we need to know abut the TJ MacKay brand and the way you want to bring readers and authors together?
TJ: The most important thing to know about me is how deeply and sincerely I want to help talented authors find success and readers find the books that will spark their love of reading.  It truly is a passion. Only those who have felt that drive to write, no matter what it is they write, can honestly understand how deeply that desire can run. Every single thing we do at InD’tale is for that one purpose.

Find T.J. at:  http://www.indtale.com
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