Thrillers are an enjoyable design challenge — very bold use of highly condensed type, high contrast, extreme emotions and a certain cinematic touch. The Fatal Path is no exception to this general pattern. Here are three alternate versions of the same cover.
Alongside the continuing rise of audiobooks, podcasts have also experienced dramatic growth in recent years. Some podcasts have achieved million plus audiences, which has drawn the attention of advertisers and now Spotify, the giant of music streaming. The podcast space has tended to have a scrappy, DIY feel, but that may start to recede into history. Authors interested in audio books might want to also consider the possibilities of podcasting — there have been several successful attempts to create serialised podcast dramas, an interesting echo of the long-vanished era of full cast radio dramas.
Authors will happily spend months or even years writing their book, carrying out immense amounts of research, rewriting, proofreading and structuring. But when it comes to thinking about one or two hundred words on the back of their book, their collective minds go blank. A feeling of panic descends. The author knows instinctively that there is something different about a blurb. How can they possibly encapsulate their work in such a tiny container? The typical response is to write a synopsis, giving away practically every plot point in the book. The best blurbs are an artful compromise between disclosure and withholding, suggestion and explanation. The blurb is a key marketing tool, both in actual bookstores and online, and it merits quite a bit of time and thought. Here are three perspectives on writing a great blurb, packed with plenty of useful advice and practical suggestions.
Presenting an informative and inspiring post from independent author Mala Naidoo:
Starting out as a writer was a romantic inclination, a desire to bring my writing dream to reality.
Little did I realise how important it is to create awareness that you exist, first as a person and then specifically as a writer. Later genre and style become recognisable to readers who are also feeling their way through the stories crafted by a new author.
Striking a balance between writing and marketing your books is paramount, if you want your books in the hands of readers through online or in store purchases.
Starting off with friends, colleagues and family is necessary. Your supportive core, in your writing career, will always be vital for feedback on all your books.
Some of the ways to create awareness and promote your books
is by extending your readership.
How do we do this, let us count the ways.
- Promote your books in your local community, book stores, libraries and book clubs. Offer and accept speaking engagements at book club meetings, school talks and at your local library.
- Talk about your book covers and what they mean, the visual impact - colours, placement of images etc. This has value in eliciting interest.
Cover Design: WorkingType (www.workingtype.com.au)
- Hosting a book launch when your first book is out, attracts curiosity, interest and gets attention. An afternoon tea with light refreshments is a winner to draw a wider crowd. Friends and colleagues are excited for you and offer to assist on the day. As introverts, as most writers are, (we lock ourselves in solitude for days on end) it’s not easy to solicit assistance and market your books - but it’s an essential requirement. The after effects of a book launch are book leads - requests for more books and where they might be available.
- Befriend, online or in person local independent bookstores in your town or city, and through friends in other cities to get your book online and in stores, then encourage readers to purchase your books through these channels. This helps to get your print book into stores, maybe not on the same shelf as Stephen King or Lianne Moriarty, but it gets a space, a tangible space.
- Create a website to reach your readers through blog posts, and newsletters, invite readers in to take up your free offers, create fun giveaways for your subscribers. A simple fact file on a character your readers love is all you need to spur on their interest to read more of your books. It’s an ongoing, strategic process.
- Join online author associations to promote your books or at the very least to create awareness that you exist as a writer.
- Facebook ads are a great way to create awareness and invite the purchase of your book or sign ups to your newsletter. A permanent Facebook Ad for sign ups is necessary when you begin promoting your books, website, and blog.
- When you have a new book out, launch it through Facebook and AMS ads, send out friendly newsletter or messenger communication to your contacts telling them about your new book.
- Don’t overkill the advertising, do it tastefully to keep readers coming back for more.
- Online interactions with influencers of the craft, attending book fairs, writers’ festivals, listening to podcasts and attending webinars are great ways to connect with like-minded creatives, to extend the promotion of your books. Be selective in your choices because it’s easy to drown in a sea of algorithmic advice!
- Create awareness of all your books on Facebook (pin to top), Twitter,(pinned tweet) Instagram (create a cover story, add updated information related to your writing journey). Pinterest (pins that showcase your books with links) Google+, your website and blogposts.
At first I was awkward talking about my books. Fear held me back. Now I have a little story to tell: One day a lovely hairdresser probed into my silent, private world, I managed to slip in, amidst the heat and whirring of hairdryers, a quick biographical sketch, whispering that I was a writer too. Curiosity grew in the hairdressing salon from that whispered revelation as ladies, and the odd gentleman wanted to know more about my books. Having your latest book at the ready is a loaded gun for promotion, as is having an author business card, especially at the places like the hairdresser!
Writing is a process, just as marketing and creating awareness of your latest publication is. Both need equal attention. It’s a balance I continue to work on.
Happy reading, happy writing, happy creating!
Ricc Carr talks about her career and teaching methods. Cover by WorkingType Studio.Read More
The Australian Society of Authors maintains a very useful collection of documents for Australian authors. Some of them are free, others free for their members. Titles include: The Author as Producer, the Author as Brand, Copying payments to authors, Getting Published, Getting Started for Book Illustrators, Ghostwriting Agreement & Contact List, Guidelines to Permissions, Introduction to Digital Self-Publishing, Literary Agent and Author Agreement, Literary Competition Guidelines, Paying for publication and so on. See also the vast collection of resources at the Arts Law Centre's website.
Books+Publishing are looking for books to be published from June onwards, originating in Australia or New Zealand. Please send your printed proofs by Tuesday 1 March directly to the following address:
PO Box 6509
St Kilda Road Central VIC 8008
As well as appearing online at www.booksandpublishing.com.au, these reviews will feature in their monthly Books+Publishing Reviews and Junior newsletters. Of course, there are no guarantees that a particular title will be reviewed!
Guest Post by Jo Ettles
Public speaking and networking
I often speak at events both big and small. Some events are local and some of late have been interstate. This is an amazing way to get your books and your message out into the world. It takes a lot of energy to do this though so I tend to really only participate in events and networking opportunities where I know there will be genuine interest in my work. For obvious reasons, if you are asked to speak at an event to showcase your book, make sure it is a good fit!
Invest in a good website. Create a beautiful website or blog and sell signed copies of your books from it. My website is actually a Wordpress blog combined with website design. I am lucky my husband is trained in this area so I can add and subtract information at any time. I post articles to my blog, I sell my books from my blog, I recommend other authors books from my blog and I also obviously promote my other services.
Your book is important and your website/blog should capture the essence of your work as well as who you are so invest some time and energy into this platform.
Recently, my publisher went into receivership. This was a devastating blow for not only me but also around 200 other authors, editors and talented designers. It would have been very easy to just call it quits but I decided that quitting would have been too easy.
My thing is to write short, easy to read books that will inspire people to make positive life changes instantly. That desire has been so strong that I am now starting my third book. Imagine if I let my first publisher take that dream away from me through their miss management?
I was lucky enough to get picked up by another publisher recently and so the journey to get my work out into the world continues.
Here is the thing though...
If you believe you can, you are halfway there. There are always going to be challenges, obstructions and hurdles that will set you back. If success was easy, well then everyone would be successful!
Henry Rollins said, “You must do what others don’t to achieve what others won’t”. For that reason I am relentless when it comes to marketing my books. I make the time every-day to find a way to reach another reader, to connect with another person who may want to hear my message or share it with someone else.
If you have created a beautiful book that you are proud of, take steps every day to get it out into the world. Think outside the square, take action and be consistent. Don’t wait for things to happen, make them happen.
Guest Post by Jo Ettles
I love social media and it has worked well for me. There are so many options though, so my best advice is pick one or two social media platforms and then do them really well. I use Facebook and Twitter only.
Facebook – I have a personal Facebook account but I keep this for family and friends and a few colleagues that I have connected with. Off to the side of my personal account, I have a business/ author page which I post on daily. Because I write self- help books, I post quotes and tips, wellness information that I hope will encourage people to take action towards having a better day. To me, it is fantastic a way to instantly connect with people and it also reflects the way I write.
I have used Facebook adds as a way of selling books, and I have had good results. If you are not familiar with marketing using Facebook advertising, the guidelines are strict and you need to be mindful on how to do it well to make it work. It is trial and error and maybe that is another post down the track if anyone wants to know more about that as a way to market their books.
You can actually connect your Facebook page to Twitter and when you post on Facebook, it automatically reposts it on Twitter- killing 2 birds with one stone (no pun intended!!!). Twitter is a phenomenal way to connect with the world. I once connected with two amazing coaches in London via Twitter and I sent them a copy of my first book. When they received it, they took a photo of it and then shared the photo and some information about my book with all of their followers. It definitely generated interest in my work and resulted in an increase in sales.
Here is another way to look at Twitter. If you follow someone on Twitter, they automatically receive notification via email that you are following them. It is a perfect way to connect and introduce yourself to all sorts of amazing people who might want to follow you, connect with you and even share your work.
When my first book was released, I had a publicist that actually got me a few radio interviews and a couple of good reviews in magazines. For my latest book, I have no publicist. I am my own publicist!
I wrote my own press release and sent a copy of my latest book to a few media publications. So far, I have had a few radio interviews, a great full page write up in a newspaper magazine and it is early days. I have only just started doing this.
I don’t have any real influential media connections so this method is a bit hit and miss for me, but I have nothing to lose. I think if you want to really get your work out there, be fearless. What is the worst thing that can happen? They don’t respond? Take a chance. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Send review copies to journalists in your local paper or any papers and magazines for that matter. There is a great website called Sourcebottle and it is a free online service that connects journalists with sources so if you sign up, you get daily emails of upcoming opportunities to quote or feature in stories. I have found a couple of great opportunities via this website to promote myself and my books.
Guest Post by Jo Ettles, author.
If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you right? I had no idea when I wrote my first book in 2012 that it would be such a challenging experience in more ways than one. Ever the eternal optimist, I do believe self-belief is a huge part of achieving success. BUT it also takes real work, determination, dedication and commitment to marketing yourself and your books continuously to make it in such a competitive world.
I have a strong background in marketing and it is second nature for me to recognise that you need to actively market yourself as an author and promote your work consistently. You know that old line from the movie — Field of Dreams — “If you build it, they will come”?
Well, it may have worked for Kevin Costner, but if you take that approach, your amazing book might never reach anyone.
I recently connected with some gifted authors who have released incredible books. Each and every one of them wanted to know how to improve their marketing and share their work. Here is some of the information that has helped me get both of my books out into the world.
I think everyone needs to have a professional headshot for their author profile. It is amazing how people respond to a professionally taken image as opposed to one that was just taken randomly at a party or family dinner! Present a professional image to the world and invest in a decent author photo.
When it comes to writing your bio, keep it short and sweet but always write from the heart. Readers want to really connect with you. Be uniquely you.
Goodreads is a phenomenal way to get your books seen all over the world. Create an author profile and list your books as soon as you can. Goodreads runs a giveaway competition for readers. I normally giveaway 3 signed copies of my books every few months and it generates a lot of interest in my work. I highly recommend it.
There is a section where readers can review your work and also give it a star rating. Try not to take it too personally if a review isn’t as great as you had hoped. Not everyone will get your message or your writing but don’t let that stop you from moving forward.
I recently had a review of one of my books and the reader said, that it had motivated her to clean up but I had rehashed a lot of self-help stuff that was already out there and generally, my book would only appeal to an Australian audience. At first, I got my back up! In my book “The Shed” I share a very personal story so it is definitely not rehashed. After a couple of wasted hours trying to make sense of her opinion, I just accepted that my work is not for everyone and if I was going to continue writing, I had to respect everyone’s opinion and take it on board. The following day, I saw a post on the internet by an American man. He had recommended my book on a reader’s forum saying it was full of good ideas and it was a very decent entry into the self- help genre. Balance restored!
See Post 2 for more promotional suggestions from Jo.
Author Natalie Gretton recovered from the recent bankruptcy of her publisher by holding a very successful book launch. Here is her account of the event:
My young adult medieval adventure novel was due for release five weeks after the publisher went into liquidation. After negotiation with the printers, I purchased the 1500 copies of The Healer of Marchmont. Neither my husband Mike of I had much idea of how to market the book to sell so listened to anyone who had advice for us.
I was offered our local Neighbourhood Centre to have a book launch and chose a date some weeks from that. Flyers went out to the whole town and outlying areas of Trentham through the postal service advertising the launch using the cover of the book, part of the blurb and a little about me. I also placed books in the local Trentham bookstore, Aesop’s Attic in Kyneton, New Leaves bookshop in Woodend, Stoneman’s Bookroom in Castlemaine and Paradise Books in Daylesford. These are on a commission basis. Friends were contacted by email, on Facebook, through my new website set up by my IT guru son, and word of mouth. A visit by friends who live in Canberra was good, because they took a box of 64 books back with them to sell for me. At present there are 5 books in Harry Hartog book shop in Woden, Canberra and more are being advertised by the friends. Other people took 10 books and sold those as well.
The book launch went very well. The day was lovely, sunny, still and warm. People came from many different places and were old and new friends we have known for short times and long times. We had some local people attend as well. Fifty people were here altogether. Some people had bought the book earlier and came to give comments about it or to get it signed for their children and grandchildren. Diane Parsons, a local retired secondary school teacher launched the book for me and after that, a critique was given by Charlie Wells. Charlie’s mother is the manager at the Trentham Neighbourhood Centre and had asked Charlie to read the book. His comments were very interesting and insightful for a ten year old young man. All the comments we had on the day and in emails since have been very positive. The day of the launch we sold $500 worth of books which did not include more that were sold prior to the launch.
There are still very many books to sell but at least I have more than some other writers who were left in the lurch. I think I was more fortunate than some other writers as I now have my book in print. Others were left with nothing to show for all their hard work and will now have to negotiate with another publisher.
So with a bit of advice and some energetic emailing, phoning, flyer producing and a launch with a good afternoon, good friends, some lovely snacks and a few drinks, one can recover from what could have been a total disaster.
I must say here that Julie Athanasiou, my editor and Luke Harris, my designer, have been most helpful. Luke has been in contact regularly and is most supportive of everything I have done. Thank you, Luke.
Natalie's website can be found here.
Recently, a local publisher (Jo Jo Publishing) went into bankruptcy owing authors, printers and suppliers a great deal of money. The liquidators indicated the authors were free of any contractual obligations to the now-defunct company. Many of the authors published by Jo Jo wished to remove their books from Jo Jo-badged online listings (with Amazon in particular) so they could re-upload their titles with new ISBNs. As Jo Jo was now unstaffed, they had to take matters into their own hands. Amazon has a facility for authors in this kind of situation:
Amazon's requirements / contact details continue as follows:
- An electronic or physical signature of the person authorized to act on behalf of the owner of the copyright interest;
- A description of the copyrighted work that you claim has been infringed upon;
- A description of where the material that you claim is infringing is located on the site;
- Your address, telephone number, and e-mail address;
- A statement by you that you have a good-faith belief that the disputed use is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law;
- A statement by you, made under penalty of perjury, that the above information in your notice is accurate and that you are the copyright owner or authorized to act on the copyright owner's behalf.
Amazon.com 's Copyright Agent for notice of claims of copyright infringement on its site can be reached as follows:
P.O. Box 81226
Seattle, WA 98108-1226
Fax: (206) 266-7010
Bianca Ross' charming Herbert Peabody series (typesetting and layout by WorkingType Design) continues with Herbert Peabody and the Incredible Beehive. Authors would do very well to study Bianca's promotional activities as outlined on her Herbert Peabody-themed Facebook feed. Lots of media activity, plentiful, on-point posts, a feeling of positive, targeted activity. And it helps somewhat that the book itself is excellent with very good quality illustrations. Herbert's official website is worth investigating as well. And buy the book!
Some interesting thoughts from Anne Davies, author of Wrath, listed as a notable book in the Children's Book Council Awards. She touches on the school market and writing with boys and young men in mind.