Category Archives: Amazon.com

Keeping up to Date Can Get You Down

 

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My book had been out for 5 years, so I started looking for just a few now-dated references and marking them with sticky-notes. I used a whole lot of  sticky-notes!    Photo by Sylvia Cary

Ever bite off more than you could chew? I did that recently. I made the mistake of re-reading my own book, “The Therapist Writer: Helping Mental Health Professionals Get Published,” which I  had indie-published on Amazon and Kindle, as well as on LightningSource, five years ago. While reading, I was stunned to realize that while I was out there marketing the book, publishing gremlins had been sneaking into it and making it sound dated! Dated! Imagine that! How the heck did that happen?

Well, it happened because during that five years the publishing industry had been rushing ahead and making changes, hundreds of changes, big and small. For example, there was no IngramSpark under the LightningSource umbrella when I published my book, so I had no mention of it.  At the time, a self-publishing author could get an ISBN number for $10 from Amazon’s CreateSpace. Today you can’t. It’s $99. “No wonder I’ve been reluctant to market my book the last couple of years,” I said to myself. “There are now mistakes in it and I’m embarrassed. Obviously, they were put there by those publishing gremlins!”

I made the decision right then and there to “update” my book, tweak the cover, and market it all over again. Then I upped the challenge to myself: “No, I’ll come out with a Second Edition with new chapters, which of course means I’ll have to get another ISBN and a new cover, front and back — but then I can really go to town marketing it in all the ways I neglected to market it before! I’ll be a changed author/promoter.”

I took a second pass through the book and put a sticky note wherever I caught something that was dated or needed fixing (see photo above). I set forth with great determination to track down every change in the publishing industry over the last five years and document each one.

Trying to keep up. . .

Within weeks my apartment had every surface stacked with books, notebooks, and printouts. To catch up with “the latest” I was watching YouTube videos, listening to webinars, writing new chapters, and driving around town to panels and workshops. I began to feel overwhelmed and sick at my stomach when I looked at the months of work ahead of me, not to mention my new, about-to-be-created re-publishing expenses.

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My bed of research books became a nightmare.  Photo by Visualhunt.com

And for what? I finally asked myself that all-important question: Why was I doing this? It was stupid. Why compete with all the hundreds of new books, Kindles, newsletters, webinars and videos about “the publishing industry” when I already had a unique niche audience (therapists who want to write) that I should be focusing on in a more laser-like fashion. I’d been making that mistake authors are warned about of trying to sell to everybody. “Stick with the shrinks, Sylvia,” I said and felt better already.

Knowing when to hold and when to fold       

So I walked back my plan for an update or a snazzy Second Edition and decided to Keep It Simple. I went through the book a third time just to tidy it up enough so I’m not embarrassed by statements of facts that are no longer facts. They’ve changed. I deleted some things, corrected some things, switched the first two chapters around, but it’s basically the same book, same cover, same number of pages, minus the errors (or most of them I hope). I’m about to upload it to CreateSpace as a “correction,” not a reinvention!

Getting good ideas is great, but knowing when to quit helps you sleep at night.

(c) Sylvia Cary, The Therapist Writer

 

 

 

 

 

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Living in the Blurbs

 

 

 

colour-speech-bubbles (1) 8 Ways to Get “Blurbs” for Book Marketing     Photo by Morguefile

“Blurb” is a great little word, a sort of nickname for the more official-sounding words such as “testimonial,” “acknowledgment,” “endorsement,” “review” or “comment.” A blurb is a snippet of something that somebody says about your book that you can then use in your book marketing. It can be anything from an eloquent celebrity endorsement that you’ll probably want to use on your front cover to an unfortunately useless comment (“Great book!”) that a reader puts up on your Amazon book page as a “customer review,” but may quickly get disappeared by Amazon because it doesn’t fit their review criteria.

Why Blurbs?

There’s a whole history (just Google “blurbs” and you’ll see) about why blurbs have gotten to be so important, especially for indie authors publishing on Amazon, but the bottom line is that — aside from a good book with a good cover — you gotta have blurbs. An author should never launch a book on Amazon “naked” (meaning with no customer reviews), yet many do. That’s not good. Blurbs legitimize your book and make people feel more comfortable about buying it. Going to a book site with no reviews feels like going to a movie when there are only one or two other people in the theatre. It feels uncomfortable. You want out of there. Buyers go elsewhere.

Where to Use Blurbs

  • Indie authors want blurbs mostly in the form of customer reviews on Amazon. Set a goal of 100. (I know! Yikes!). Blurbs are also used for . . .
  • Front cover (hopefully from a celebrity or thought-leader in your field)
  • Back cover (as a powerful sales pitch for your book)
  • Inside the book where you can include pages of blurbs — which is why you’ll want to get a bunch of them in advance of publication
  • On your marketing pieces (business cards, postcards, bookmarks, flyers, “one-sheets”)
  • As part of your email signature
  • On your website, blog, or landing page
  • On certain social media sites (pretty-up a blurb for Pinterest)
  • Stamped on your give-away items, such as mugs or pens

 How to Get Blurbs

      Before Publication . . .

  1. Send out pages of your work (or a chapter to a specialist in the area you’re writing about) to get feedback and a usable “comment” (to later be put up on Amazon).
  2. When your book is close to its launch date, set it up on Amazon (pre-order status) so you can ask the people who’ve already read your pages or sections to write a “customer review”. Give them How-to directions.
  3. Order “proof” (advance) copies to give out for peer reviewers or whole-book readers for additional reviews. People do tend to procrastinate, so give them a deadline and offer some incentives for getting their review in quickly.
  4. Some reviewers who procrastinate are very relieved to have you write their review for them and they can just sign off on it. Saves them a lot of time!

 After Publication . . . 

5. Launch Day: As soon as your book is up on Amazon, officially published, grab the link from your book page and paste it into an announcement you’re going to send (using an email program like Constant Contact) to your email list telling them your book is published, asking them to click on the link to see it, and begging them to write a customer review (I like to use the word blurb or “comment” because it sounds less like a book report!). Explain How-to and why – because it helps you sell books!

6. If you’ve sent out a lot of announcements, some people will write reviews on Amazon, others may write you personally and say nice things about your book. Immediately, email them back and ask, “Would you mind putting that on my Amazon site?” (Give How-to directions). Otherwise use their blurb for something else.

7. Whenever you run into anybody you know at the market and they say something nice about your book, ask them, “Do you mind if I use that as a blurb.” If they can put it up on Amazon themselves, great, but if not you can use their blurb elsewhere, so write it down before you forget it, then email it to the person who said it to make sure you remembered it correctly!

8. This is like looking for spare change in the couch, but look though older emails and social media posts to find blurbs about your book you forgot you had. You may actually find a great blurb you didn’t realize was a “blurb” at the time that you read it. Now you recognize it for what it is and realize it’s just perfect for a press release you’re writing.

Blurbs are in the Air

There are many more ways to get “blurbs” (reviews), such as tracking down Amazon Top Reviewers  or doing the whole guest blogger thing (which is getting harder and harder as there is more and more competition for attention for one’s book). There are, as well, some really terrific books and Kindles by known experts in the book marketing business, but for now keep it simple and do these basics. And keep in mind that the next time somebody tells you, “Your book really touched me, especially that scene . . .” ask them, “Can I use that as a blurb?” See, blurbs are in the air.

(c) Sylvia Cary, LMFT, author of The Therapist Writer: Helping Mental Health Professionals Get Published.

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Writing for Your “Inner Circle” – And Skip the Book Marketing

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How to Get Published and Skip Book Marketing  Getting a book published is a big job, but the biggest part of it isn’t the writing or even the publishing; it’s the book marketing. For many authors, book marketing is a … Continue reading

8 “Starter”Book Marketing Tools

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GUEST BLOG:

“The First 8 Things to Do to Start Marketing Your Book”

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by Catherine Auman, LMFT, Author of Shortcuts to Mindfulness: 100 Ways to Personal and Spiritual Growth, Publisher – Green Tara Press, www.greentarapress.com

8 “Starter” Books Marketing Ideas

You didn’t know that becoming an author meant becoming a marketer, did you? That’s okay; neither did I. The fact is, you’ll need to become actively involved in the marketing of your book because if you don’t, no one but a few friends and family will buy it. Then again, even they might not.

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Really, it can be fun. Here are 8 BRIGHT IDEAS you can get started on before publication:

1) First, gather the items you’ll need to market your book:

  • Author photos/headshots – professionally done, please
  • Author bios of varying lengths – 100 words, 200 words
  • Book synopsis, about 100 words, written to entice readers
  • A jpg of your cover
  • Your elevator speech – a 30-second verbal summary of your book for use at cocktail and other parties when someone asks you, “What’s your book about?”
  • If you don’t have a website, get one. If you do have one, redesign it to promote your books as well as yourself.

2)  Create an Amazon Author Profile. This establishes you as a legitimate author. You can link your website, blog, videos, the promotional tools above and the ones you will develop in the future. Go to authorcentral.amazon.com and it will walk you through the steps.

3)  Create a Facebook Page for your book. Invite all your friends to Like (or Love). Start posting the items above and anything you can think of to create buzz. People prefer it if you try to educate, enlighten, or amuse them rather than just sell.

4)  Create a Goodreads Author Profile. Goodreads is where the avid readers hang out. Go to the Goodreads Author Program tutorial which will teach you how. Later you will be sponsoring book giveaways as promotions.

5)  Go to Vistaprint.com and make some inexpensive postcards using the jpg of the cover of your book. You can use these in any number of ways: send out by snail mail, leave at coffee houses, tack up on bulletin boards, and many uses you will come up with as you go along. I always keep some in my bag – you never know who might want one.

6)  Start identifying people and places to ask for book reviews. You will want to get as many as possible, and you’ll be able to use the reviews later for further marketing.

7)  Identify local stores that are likely to sell your book – not just bookstores, but gift stores and specialty shops.

8)   Schedule and plan your Book Release Party. Congratulations! You’re a published author.

© 2016 Catherine Aumancatherine auman book cover sept 2015 guest blog

(c) The Therapist Writer Blog by Sylvia Cary, LMFT, author of The Therapist Writer: Helping Mental Health Professionals Get Published. Timberlake PressTimberlakePress.com.

 

Happy Birthday Dear Dan Poynter

"Hot" Publishing Panel sponsored by Publicity Association of Los Angeles (PALA). Left to right, Dan Poynter, "publishing guru; __, Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author, and Robin Quinn, book-doctor and moderator for the evening.

THE BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING panel on Sept. 17, 2014, at the Culver City Veterans Memorial Auditorium, sponsored by the Publishers Association of Los Angeles (PALA). Panelists (left to right): DAN POYNTER, self-publishing pioneer and author of The Self-Publishing Manual (and dozens of other books); CONSTANCE ANDERSON, Director of Pacific Coast Regional, a small business development center (with classes on such things as how to write business plans); CAROLYN HOWARD JOHNSON, author of the HowToDoItFrugally series of books to help authors; and Moderator, ROBIN QUINN, book-editor and coach. (NOTE: This blog post will focus just on what Dan Poynter said. After all, it was his birthday!     — photo: Sylvia Cary

“Global Dan”

It may not surprise you to learn that on September 17th, 2014, Dan Poynter, self-publishing movement pioneer and author, spent his 76th birthday in a room full of writers and wanna-be writers talking about–guess what?–publishing. “I haven’t retired,” he said. “I’ve never met an author who was retired.”

After we all sang “Happy Birthday Dear Dan” and shared some homemade fudge, we quieted down and leaned forward so as not to miss a single word of what this man had to say. We all know that Dan Poynter knows stuff.  When a man travels 6000 miles a week to different places around the globe in order to share with people about publishing, and then he listens to what they say back, he obviously has his ear to the ground and it’s smart to pay attention.

Learn to Love Amazon was Poynter's message for the evening. "There's a book published every five minutes, which is 3500 a day, 3.4 million a year and most are on Amazon. So be there, too!

Learn to Love Amazon was Poynter’s message for the evening. “There’s a book published every five minutes, mostly on Amazon. So be there, too!

“Amazon is Your Friend”

Dan Poynter usually has a specific theme when he talks, and on this particular night his topic was Amazon.com, the world’s largest online book-seller. He addressed himself to the fact that Amazon is constantly being maligned by segments of the book-industry world, especially bookstores and publishers, which Poynter seems to find irritating.  “Publishing hasn’t changed the way they do business since 1947, so they should stop complaining and start marketing.” He points out that readers are now reading books on their iPhones, yet back before Border’s went belly-up, one brick and mortar store in California was paying$32,000-a-month rent. “You have to sell a lot of books to pay that.” Dan said. “Don’t expect the book business to change anytime soon,” he added. “It’s really too late for most of them to catch up.”

While traditional publishing was taking pot-shots at self-publishing and Amazon, Amazon started giving customers what they actually want. (What a concept!) He recommends a book called The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone (2014) because it tells you all about what Amazon can do for you, the self-published author. (Or how you can buy a toaster).

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“Amazon Does More for Authors”

Poynter listed just some of the things that Amazon does for authors:

  •  Amazon leveled the playing field so everybody can play. Anybody can publish their book for FREE.
  • Amazon makes it easy for self-publishers to market their books, including their own “page” where they can put photos, videos, links to blogs, and more.
  • Amazon lets you have real people review your book and tell you want readers really want and don’t want. (And buyers actually read these reviews before buying).
  • Since bloggers are the new book reviewers, Google for bloggers in your area to write reviews. Type in “your subject + book bloggers.”

Poynter’s Conclusions

  • Thanks to Amazon, you can now be in charge of your writing career
  • Learn the rules
  • Don’t put out shoddy work –it hurts all self-published authors
  • Support our industry–buy books as gifts
  • Amazon is the only dog in the fight
  • Amazon is a fact of life
  • Keep buying Amazon stock!

Dan Poynter has three free newsletter you can sign up for — one on publishing, one of marketing, and one on speaking. Go to http://www.parapub.com and sign up on the top left side of the front page.