Book Marketing Tips for the Holidays and Year Round

By Ralph Daily from Birmingham, United States (Roasted American Turkey) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Ralph Daily from Birmingham, United States (Roasted American Turkey) [CC BY 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s been a while since I’ve down a roundup of articles. Since the holiday season is coming up fast, here’s a list of helpful marketing-related articles (there’s even a few specific for the holidays)!

Holiday Specific

Growing Traffic and Followers

BookBub Tips and Tricks

Working with People

Trends and New Stuff

Helpful Tools

Self Publishing


The Ins and Outs of Blogging as a Professional Writer

Blogging is one of the best ways to build a platform, both as a book author and as a freelance writer. I plan on posting more about the specifics of being a freelancer, now having done it for a while, but blogging seems a good place to start, since it applies to both types of writers.

There are a lot of benefits to blogging, especially if you do it regularly. In the past few years that I’ve been blogging I have

  • improved my writing skills
  • learned how to beat writer’s block
  • started an email list
  • earned some income
  • gotten other publishing opportunities/writing jobs
  • met some wonderful people
  • read some amazing books
  • built up a small social media following

It’s taken a while to get to this point, especially since I did not commit to blogging regularly until recently, and I feel like I’m on the verge of being able to turn this into something that earns some steady income (I’ve only just started monetizing).

For other people who may be in the same boat as me, or even those are just starting or thinking of starting a blog, here’s a collection of tips I’ve stumbled across to help take things to the next level. Continue reading

E-Book Review: Tarinel’s Song

Tarinel’s Song 
by Ron Glick, illustrated by Eda Christianson

The world will end with the sounding of Tarinel’s Song – or so the prophecy claims. Yet when the prophecy is fulfilled and the world continues on, it becomes clear that there is more to the prophecy than is commonly known. 

The fate of the world rests upon the shoulders of mismatched individuals drawn towards what seems to be the center of the crisis – a city at the heart of an empire, sealed off by magic beyond even the power of the Gods to control. But even if they are able to overthrow an unknown power within the city walls, will they be able to put an end to the chaos this harbringer portends?

Tarinel’s Song is set in the world of Na’Ril, the epic setting for The Godslayer Cycle. This first in a three book series explores how deities have evolved in another part of the world, and sets the foundation for events that will effect the world as a whole. Continue reading

The Future of Publishing…We’re In It

Three interesting articles about the publishing industry caught my eye today. But first, I’ve found that reading and thinking critically about articles goes more smoothly with music, so I invite you to play the video below and enjoy the sweet sounds of “Stereo Love” while reading the rest of my post. (And yes, I may be a little obsessed with this song right now).

First, the Kindle 3 is coming out with two versions–one for $139 and one for $114. The $114 Kindle, however, will be ad-supported, or to quote Amazon, it will be the “Kindle With Special Offers.” $25 doesn’t seem like enough of a difference to opt for the ad-supported device, though I’m sure once it becomes a viable model we’ll see larger price cuts, but the ads will only appear when you’re not reading your Kindle (so instead of seeing intricate photos of famous writers on the screen, you’ll see deals for LivingSocial). But, this is only a first step. Amazon also launched an app, AdMash, that will allow users to vote for which ads they want to see on their Kindles. For now, there are no ads in the books themselves, but I think someday soon we may see that as well.

Full articles: Amazon to Offer $114 Kindle 3 Supported by Ads; Will the Ad-Supported Kindle Sell?

The second article I found questions the role of publishers in a world where self-publishing is so easy. At The London Book Fair this week, one side argued that publishers are becoming irrelevant, because self-publishers now have the tools to edit, market, and distribute, while the other side claimed that publishers “are the best, and perhaps only, way for good books to make it into the world.” But maybe publishers shouldn’t be ignoring self-publishing. If they could somehow combine the tools of self-publishing with the edge they still have as actual publishers, they could still remain relevant. Bobbie Johnson sums up the end of his article nicely: “In the end, though, that moment didn’t seem to make much difference to the audience. Doctorow and Bridle were defeated, with around 80 percent of the audience voting for the idea publishers will remain relevant. It wasn’t a surprise; had it gone the other way, it would have been as if the audience — which was, of course, largely made of publishers — were a barn full of turkeys eagerly voting for Thanksgiving.”

Full article: Will Book Publishers Ever Be Irrelevant?

But, if publishers can’t think of how to incorporate self-publishing tools right away, there’s always the Hulu method. Michael Wolf of Gigaom suggests that publishers who can find multiple outlets, other than merely selling their books, will continue to be successful. A new Spanish company, called 24Symbols, uses a freemium model which allows users to read free books with ads or pay subscriptions for unlimited access to books. Wolf thinks that publishers should get together and offer their content in a platform similar to Hulu, because they have the rights to the most number of books. It’s an interesting thought, and probably could make a lot of money, but will publishers then lose potential sales? Thoughts, anyone?

Full article: Forget Netflix. E-Book Publishers Need a Hulu

Inside Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble in Union Square

Last week I got to go to Barnes & Noble before the store opened and listen to two of their book buyers discuss how they decide which books to buy for which stores across the nation. Not going to lie, it was pretty sweet (even if I did have to be out of my apartment by 7 a.m.).

Here’s a list of some of the more interesting things I learned:

  • Just because a topic is a current affair, doesn’t mean the book will sell in stores (ex: recent crisis in Egypt–more people wanted to read about it in the news)
  • There are not enough diet cookbooks out there. Said one buyer, “I could buy 95,000 diet books and not have enough. It’s a subject born for the business.”
  • Cookbooks in general are always in the top 5 bestseller categories
  • The key to buying memoirs is making sure the author has a platform, whether it be a TV show, or some sort of access to publicity
  • The biggest drivers in the U.S. history category are the Revolutionary War and the Founding Fathers
  • When it comes to history, the topics that are home-based sell the best. For example, the original 13 colonies buy the most books about the Founding Fathers
  • The biggest driver in the military history category is WWII, though sales have been declining lately. The second biggest driver in the category is the Iraq/Afghanistan War (journalists covering the political/military situation and soldier memoirs)
  • Sociology books tend to be more academic, and not that popular, with the exceptions “Orange is the New Black” and “Jim Crow”
  • Buyers are more likely to purchase a book if the publisher is heavily invested in the book and is willing to do a lot of publicity
  • The personal relationship between the bookstore buyer and the publisher’s sales representative is important. The sales rep is the first one to convince the buyer to make a book nationally available, so it’s important that they know a lot about the book
  • Sales people were the first ones interested in “Seabiscuit
  • 30% of a bookstore’s business in the health section is done in January (new year, new goals)
  • Cookbooks are strong for Mother’s Day and the 4th quarter
  • Summer is for beach reading (genre fiction, narrative paperback, etc.)
  • Father’s Day and the 4th quarter are good for selling history books
  • Packaging matters a lot to a book buyer. A good jacket is colorful and vibrant (at least for health books). For some, the key is to be clear about what the book is and communicate a promise. For others, the bottom line is, will this book sell?
  • On average, people spend 3-5 seconds looking at a book on a table in the store
  • Most people go to bookstores looking for fiction. The front of the store yields high traffic and sales, but deeper in the store is reserved for dedicated readers
  • An author’s hometown is very important when determining which stores to stock with which books
  • Book prices are apparently climbing; health books on average cost $25. Still, the e-book competition for narrative books is significant (e-books tend to cost $10)
  • E-books are the “big x factor right now.” When it comes to fiction/genre fiction, e-book sales account for up to 50%, and in non-fiction, e-book sales are up to 10%. However, this will probably change as ereaders get better
  • Rarely do book buyers purchase non-returnable books (unless they are very confident about its success). Bookstores lose money when they return books, and with non-returnable books, they can only put them on clearance when they aren’t selling
  • Optimally, bookstores have 15-20% returns. If a book sells out in a month, it means the buyer missed potential customers. By not buying books, a bookstore could potentially put a small publisher out of business
  • In some towns, bookstores are the only source of entertainment. Therefore, quick changes in the industry, which this year led to Borders going bankrupt, are very difficult.
  • Interestingly, Barnes & Noble wants Borders to succeed. Said one buyer, “Bookstores are not going anywhere. Publishers are not going anywhere. If one of use becomes a dinosaur, we all go down.”

So, to sum up, “A book that doesn’t sell feels like a failure to everybody.”

This Week in Publishing

According to this blog post, the death of print media is coming sooner than we think. Amazon recently said it’s now selling more e-books than paperbacks, and “for every 100 paperback books they’ve sold this January, they’re selling 115 ebooks…” This means ebook sales are 45 percent of all Amazon book sales. But what about ereaders?

Cavanaugh says, “I’m sticking by my assertion that e-readers themselves are way stations that will soon go the way of the Pong console. You can see that with every new generation of e-reader, which adds new writability and interactivity that make the devices behave more and more like those electronic brains our ancestors used to all “laptops.”

All of this is very interesting, especially just after Digital Book World, where Random House announced their plan to soon sell 50 percent ebooks, 50 percent print books. How will publishers change their strategies to raise their ebook sales? And how will they format their ebooks to fit new devices and ways to read them? Will it be a problem?

E-Book Sales Closing the Gap, Quickly

Here is a great example of the future of publishing. It’s not unusual to publish famous speeches, but with new technology we’re now able to quickly convert speeches into ebooks. Books are changing, and I think the new version of books will be shorter and more experimental. St. Martin’s Press’s ebook of President Obama’s speech at the Tucson memorial service on January 12 is just the start.

Obama’s Tucson Speech is Publishable

Turns out, libraries are still very important. And they can help publishers sell more books than bloggers. Libraries do what is called one-book, one-lend, which means the library licenses a book, someone comes in and downloads the book, that person is able to read that book for a specified period of time (usually two weeks), and then that person can no longer access the file. In December of 2010 alone, the New York Public Library had 36,000 ebook checkouts.

Still, not all ebooks are available to libraries. For example, “Life” by Keith Richards and “Freedom” by Jonathan Franzen are not yet available. And people with Kindles are not able to check out ebooks because the Kindle only works with books that come from Amazon.

But the future of publishing seems to be with the ability to read any book at any time. I suspect some day Amazon will allow its books to be read on other devices, and all publishers will soon see the importance of making all books available in ebook format, particularly the best sellers.

Digital Book World: Where do libraries and ebooks meet?


One-Stop Bindery

I’ll be the first to admit it–I’m a pack rat. When I was an undergrad at UC Santa Barbara, I worked hard for four years at the school newspaper, the Daily Nexus. And during those four years, I collected every issue of the Nexus. Yes, I know how that sounds, and fortunately my parents were kind enough to let me store all my newspapers in their home.

This week, while I was back in sunny southern California taking care of my mom, I finally found a printer who could put all my newspapers together in a book: One-Stop Bindery. It is a one-stop shop that will print, collate, bind, and take care of pretty much any printing needs.

Located at 23011 Moulton Pkwy, Suite B, One-Stop Bindery is a small office attached to a warehouse. As a future publisher, I was in awe of the warehouse. There were stacks of boxes and paper everywhere, and in between all that paper were four or five long tables, a desk-sized heavy duty stapler, several large printers, a big machine for binding books and placing covers, and a tall mechanical object that I was told could glue together hundreds of sheets of papers at once.

The owner was a nice middl-aged man who worked with his wife and daughter to complete projects. They were all very friendly, and while I was waiting for my project to be done, I found myself chatting with the daughter about Broadway shows. (Did you know that Idina Menzel fell 30 feet or so during one of her performances in Wicked, broke her rib, mostly recovered, and then did her final performance in a track suit?)

Anyway, the owner promises that they can complete most jobs within 24 to 36 hours, which is impressive once you know only three people work there. They weren’t quite equipped to complete my newspaper project (it would have taken too long to glue together the pages and give it a spine and book cover), so instead they punched three holes in each issue and used rings to hold it all together. Still, they added a cover and they were able to complete what would have been a time-consuming job for me. And, if I ever have to take out an issue, it will be easy to remove and put back. I do have to admit, it kind of pained me to see the holes in the newspaper, after I kept them in such good shape for five years.

I’d still recommend them for any binding and printing services. When I went to pick up my newspapers, I got a glimpse of their latest project: hundreds of playbills. They were gorgeous. So colorful and glossy, and I got to see the heavy duty stapler in action (the staples looked like silver thread!)

This Week in Publishing

People in line for a Harry Potter book. Photo by Zack Sheppard, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

A U.S. judge dismissed a lawsuit that claimed J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series infringed upon Adrian Jacobs’s “The Adventures of Willy the Wizard No 1 Livid Land,” which was published in 1987. Scholastic, the U.S. Harry Potter publisher, said, “Judge Scheindlin clearly agreed… Scholastic will continue to vigorously defend any such frivolous claims challenging the originality of Harry Potter and the brilliant imagination of its author, J.K. Rowling.”

AFP: US judge zaps Harry Potter plagiarism suit

Movies based on books are not a new concept. But these days, the turnaround seems to be faster than before. The movie, “I Am Number Four,” will be released in one month, but the book it’s based on came out only five months ago. How did this happen? Well, turns out there was a bidding war for the film rights before the book was even written. And, elements of the movie script made it into the paranormal novel.

Movie Alert: ‘I Am Number Four’

Over the holiday season, Barnes & Noble made more money than Borders, the bookstore that late last year was considering buying Barnes & Noble. Borders, like many bookstores, continues to have financial problems, and lost $74.4 million in its third quarter last year.

Barnes & Noble Up, Borders Down

Lastly, since we’re in our first week of the new year, here are 10 predictions for book publishing this year. Predictions include memoir as an expanding genre, more people become authors, YA will become more popular, and books will not have a minimum number of words.

10 Biggest Predictions for the Future of Book Publishing