Tips for Getting Endorsements and Why you need them

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By the time my first book was contracted, I had several endorsers willing to come on board. The same with my second novel.  Endorsements are an additional encouragement to readers that your book is well-written and worth reading.

Who should you ask for endorsements

Endorsements however lose value if it is your mother or any other family member. They need to be from other authors or people in the field you are writing about.  My second book has an endorsement from a women’s life coach, Darlene Larson. She helps wounded women begin afresh. My heroine Isabella is healing from an abusive marriage. Darlene’s endorsement was crucial.

I write for women, but I got male endorsements for both novels. That extra atta-girl from the male gender lets prospective readers know the storyline will appeal to men.

Where does one get endorsements?

I am going to assume you attend writers’ conferences, critique groups and other writing classes. You have found friends and kindred spirits in these places. I review lots of books for many authors as well.  I emailed a lot of these friends to get the half-dozen I have in each book. Many turned me down for various reasons: they were too busy at the moment or because of their affiliation with my publisher, they couldn’t.

Don’t be afraid to ask

It’s like getting published. If you never submit, you’ll never get a contract. If you never ask, you’ll never find yeses. The more you ask the more chances of getting more than one. Send out twenty or so requests, and if you get four you’re doing well. Be sure the twenty aren’t all best-selling strangers, but people you’ve spent time getting to know. Especially those who’ve read portions of your book or critiqued it. They will give you a glowing endorsement. Perhaps they can’t endorse but might be willing to do a review when it comes out. That’s golden.

Some authors ask busy people for endorsements by giving them three or four prewritten endorsements to choose from. I personally have never done this.  I won’t endorse something until I’ve read it. Prewritten endorsements are permissible in writing circles, if you can get more endorsers that way go for it. Some people want to read the synopsis and the back cover and then a bit of the book before they write an endorsement.

Be sure these are people who read your genre, have some credibility as an author or in their field of expertise before you ask them.

When do you ask?

As soon as you finish your book. You can tell them you’ll send a copy once it’s edited and you receive a contract. That way you can add who has agreed to endorse your book in the proposal. But after the contract is signed is also good.  You’ll have plenty of time before it is published to secure them. And your ARC copy will be available to send out once you get a yes.

Now, go forth and get endorsements.

Share what you do to get endorsements.

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Why I’m Excited about my Audio Book

audio-1867121_640This week I’ve been listening to the audio version of my novel Secrets & Charades. I’m excited about the prospect of a new audience for my novel. My reader, Meghan Kelly, is doing a wonderful job of bringing to life the story of Evangeline and Jake.

Several friends and at least one family member prefer audio books. Therefore, marketing to listeners is a good idea. Who are these listeners? There are commuters, those driving to work or taking the train. And sales persons who listen between calls. My husband’s cousin listened to a lot of books on her assembly line job. A friend of mine listens while she cleans house. Those who are blind or have brain injury also love audio books.

Some may ask why I didn’t record the book myself.

Three simple reasons

  • Publisher offered it
  • Although I love reading out loud—even doing voices, turn on a recorder and I stumble a lot. I get frustrated doing over my voice mail message.
  • I lack the proper equipment.secret-charades-front-cover

Advantages of using a professional narrator

  • They have “the voice” for the job
  • They have the professional equipment, eliminating unnecessary background noises.
  • They have a following of readers who love their narration
  • Together, we double our marketing stream.

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After auditioning five narrators, Meghan Kelly had the voice that best captured my story. The combination of a wonderful story read by a woman who understands my characters adds so much to the readers experience. In my mind it’s a win-win. I’ll post the link  to my audiobook when it is available.

Meghan Kelly hs

Here’s some info on my narrtor. I’ll be posting and interview with Meghan once the audiobook is available.

PLEASE!  Like my Facebook Page!!
e-mail: mustsing71@hotmail.com
Direct hire link: https://www.acx.com/narrator?p=A2FDC5ZS8UJAMN

Share your experiences with Audio books. I’d love to hear them.

 

The Importance of Author Media Kits

By Paige Boggs

Thank you so much for having me today, Cindy! I am so excited to be guest posting on Jubilee Writer. For those of you who don’t know me, I run Electively Paige – a book blog as well as author solutions company. Every day, I field emails from authors that either want me to review their books on my website, or work with me on their book marketing and publicity plans. Oftentimes, there is a lot of back and forth emails getting the information I need to feature a book, which wastes quite a bit of valuable time that could be spent garnering even more attention for that author’s books. That’s where media kits come in.

Paige Boggs headshot

The Makings of a Good Media Kit

When we see words like “kit” it often puts us in the frame of mind that it’s going to be a lot of work to put together and, quite possibly, not worth the effort. When it comes to author media kits, this couldn’t be further from the truth. A great media kit can actually save you valuable time. This is information you are emailing over and over again to book blogs, reviewers, magazines, podcasts, book stores, etc and having this information together in a neat package will also make it easier on the people you are contacting.

As far as what goes in a media kit, that can vary based on a number of things such as what you write, what you’re hoping to accomplish with the kit, and how much detail you want to put into it. In general, a good media kit will contain the following:

  • Your Contact Information – Yes, you are likely emailing them from your email address but this information can easily be lost when your email is being forwarded among members of a blog or company so it’s best to keep it in your media kit. Your full name(or pen name if you use one instead of your given name), plus your email address is all that’s necessary. If you often communicate by phone this would be a good place for that number to go, too.
  • Your Author Bio and Photo – Try and keep this clear and concise while giving a little inside peek into who you are. The one you have on your Amazon profile or in the back of your book should work nicely. The photo should be semi-professional, preferably not a selfie. This is really just a preference, but I also like to include a short one to two line bio, as well.
  • Your Important/Social Media Links – Be sure to include not only your website link, but the links to where the recipient can find you around the web such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, your newsletter, etc. Anything that might be relevant.
  • Your Book’s Press Release – I could write a whole other article on the makings of a good press release, but today is all about media kits. Basically, you need a short synopsis/overview/blurb of the book. What is on the Amazon listing page should do nicely. Add to it your book cover, the publication date for the book(even if it’s already available), the publisher if not independently published, and the pricing of the book in all available formats(ebook, print, audiobook) as well as where it can be purchased. In press releases, it’s also a good idea to include any “angles” a media professional might want to know your book has. Perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train? Does it align with a special national month or day? This is something you’ll want to include to stand out from the crowd, especially since there is a chance that the journalist/blogger you’re sending your kit to has a story in the works about one of these that your book will fit into nicely. You can view a HUGE calendar of these days herehttps://nationaldaycalendar.com/calendar-at-a-glance/. Moving slightly off topic, but using hashtags associated with these fun days on social media is all but guaranteed to up your reach so I recommend you study up on these, as well.
  • Book Excerpt – A good rule of thumb is the first chapter, because that should be able to help someone decide whether or not they’d like to keep reading. Depending on the book, I’ll also include an excerpt from later in the novel, if I feel it might be relevant. I like to include a few book teaser/meme images with short book quotes. These are great for sharing on social media, and including in blog posts. Just make sure you can legally use the images. There are numerous free stock photo sites out there, and even more available for reasonable pricing. I have always been a Photoshop and Illustrator girl but I recently found my time saving graphic-making soulmate in Canva. You cannot beat the convenience of Canva for creating quick, professional-looking images. It’s completely free, but there is a paid version with more robust features that I take advantage of.
  • Sample social media postings – A page with sample tweet ideas is always a great idea, especially if this is a blog that might not have room for you around the launch of your book but would like to offer you some valuable social media real estate. This makes it easier for them to help you. I like to use mini excerpts from reviews, the book’s tagline, and anything that might catch someone’s eye.
  • A Q&A/FAQ section – These are questions you are commonly asked in interviews about yourself and the book in question. Answering these here is another good time saver for you, and gives those receiving your kit a bit more insight into who you are. I also like to include a “5 Fun Facts About…” section or similar. Bloggers get so many requests each day, and that’s a fun way to stand out from the crowds.

That’s it! I know that it looks like a lot, but it’s truly not. Especially with it being such an integral component of your author toolkit.

How to Put it All Together

This is the fun part! There are a few different ways you can put it all in one place. The way I like to do this is create a folder in Google Drive with the title of the kit, for instance, Cindy Ervin Huff’s Media Kit. To me, this is ideal because including actual attachments in cold call emails can often land you in the recipient’s spam folders – and we definitely don’t want that. Plus, it can be a hassle removing images from word documents and PDFs. Those are both still viable options if you don’t have a Google account, but if at all an option this is the route I would recommend taking. Simply upload everything I mentioned above and then make the folder public. To do this, when you’re in the folder click the drop down arrow by its title, click get shareable link, make sure link sharing is on, and copy the link they give you. It will be incredibly long, so I recommend creating a free account on bit.ly and putting that link into their link shortening program and giving it a custom url such as bit(dot)ly/YourNameMediaKit. There you have it! In what likely amounts to an hour or so of work, you have a media kit that you can use over and over when contacting a limitless amount of bloggers, journalists, book stores, and more about your book.

When NOT to Use a Media Kit

Wait, what? I know what you’re thinking. “Paige, you *just* told us how media kits are the greatest thing since Doctor Who, what gives?” Well, there are always exceptions to the rule. If the place you are attempting to contact has specific submission guidelines you always want to take that into consideration first. For instance, my review request policy page has a form you can fill out right on my website. You can view it here, as an example. http://electivelypaige.com/book-review-policy/  That doesn’t necessarily mean that your kit won’t come in handy, it makes it easy for you to copy and paste over into the website’s submission forms or in the body of the email you’re sending following their guidelines. So, yes, there will be places where you’re not going to link to your kit but overall it’s a valuable asset that you will use over and over again.

In Conclusion

As you can see, there really is no reason not to have a media kit. It will save you time and sanity, and do the same for those you are reaching out to. If you have any questions I’ve not answered here about media kits, my inbox is always open. You can reach me at paige@electivelypaige.com or on Twitter @ElectivelyPaige.

Thank you again for having me as a guest today, Cindy! I had a blast.

I enjoyed having you, Paige. You’ve givn us some great information. Thanks.

The Many Marketing Categories of Your Novel

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Imagine we are in the hallway at a writer’s conference with a group of fellow-writers. We’ve been discussing highlights of the event and throwing out snippets of knowledge. Small incomplete bits that need further information. My post today is a snippet. One I need to understand more fully but thought you might find interesting. Or better yet you might have thorough knowledge and could share in the comments.

Marketing snippet

Here is my factoid about marketing. I’ve noticed it as I complete my second author kit for my upcoming Contemporary Romance. I’ve heard it mention by many publishers. I’m still a bit confused.

Authors define the genre their book falls in before they begin writing. We use that tag to focus our words toward those readers. This is the general category our book would be marketed in. Secrets & Charades is a Romance. More specifically a Historical Romance.

For marketing purposes, it can be placed in a variety of other categories. Because of its faith theme.

  • Christian Fiction
  • Christian Historical Fiction
  • Christian Romance
  • Clean Romance
  • Christian
  • Inspirational
  • Religious

Because of the cowboys:

  • Western Romance
  • American Western Romance

Amazon allows you to list your book under three categories. My understanding (this is where I remind you this is my hearsay in the hall) if you change the listing you could increase your sales. If a historical novel were a secular romance it might be categorized under some additional categories steamy romance, erotic romance, sexy romance.

Some of the categories cross over as far as audience appeal. If a prospective reader loves Historical Romance with lots of heat my novel might not be their cup of tea. But then again, they might love it because the storyline engages them.

My upcoming contemporary romance can be listed under Romance.

And because of its faith theme:

Christian Romance

Inspirational

My hero has a prosthetic leg so we can add Wounded Warrior Romance (yes, it is a thing).

It might even be classified under categories that appeal to dog lovers. My hero has a service dog.

Don’t choose wrong categories

Although we narrow our genre focus while we write our story we want to be sure we are marketing it to as broad a market as possible without missing the mark. My novels are not children’s books or sci fi. Neither contain gratuitous sex. Listing them as erotica will irritate perspective readers. (No need for angry reviews.)

Another example

A YA Sci Fi would be classified under YA fiction

Sci Fi

Fantasy

Dystopian

Again, if it has a Christian theme it might also be listed under Christian Fantasy

Christian Dystopian

Christian Sci Fi

Inspirational and Religious.

If there is a strong romance element it might be listed under YA Romance or Sci Fi Romance.

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Variety of categories draws more readers

Adults could find a YA book in the Sci Fi categories. Adults read YA, by the way. Men might find Secrets & Charades in the Western and my upcoming release in Wounded Warrior.

I’m too new to this publishing biz to have any idea what is the winning category. And some of the categories I mention may not be one anymore. Even so I need to have some alternative genre categories in mind to add in future marketing. And for me I leave the final decision to my publisher and my marketing gal. If your self-pub you might want to ask your successful Indie friends what they would recommend.

Okay readers, any of you have more snippets of information to share about this topic. Curious minds are desperate to know.

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Secrets & Charades book trailer:

Marketing Accountability

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Marketing tip # 5 Be accountable

I hate the idea of marketing. I’ve already mention how little I know.  One thing that is keeping me on task is having someone to be accountable to. She checks in with me every week to see how my marketing is going.

She is also doing research, searching for the best marketing options for me.  I don’t have the time or the inclination to figure it all out on my own. Erin is a godsend and I am grateful. She is a writer and aspiring novelist. But your marketing accountability person need not be a writer.

Your spouse, a family member or friend can be that person. It is so easy to let life interrupt your marketing goals. Knowing someone is going to ask about your progress and meet with you to achieve them can be the perfect catalysis.

Don’t settle for just anyone. Avoid the too helpful and bossy. They love to fix things. They’ll take over and make you crazy.

Instead find someone you feel comfortable with. And who understands your project and listens to what your endgame is.

Questions to ask yourself

Do you trust their counsel?

If they see you are going over budget and their suggestion is to trim it. Could you receive that sort of advice from them?

Do they respect what you do?

If your spouse, friend or family member doesn’t think being a writer is a real job why would you ask for their help? Look for people who admire your tenacity for taking on the hard task of writing a book. They will be excited to help you market it.

Are you open to criticism from this individual?

How the two of you relate can make or break your success. Criticism is not the same as counseling. Criticism may not come with an alternative solution.  Can you receive their criticism and evaluate the bones to find the truth behind the sharpness? If not, your stress levels are going to wreak havoc on your decision making.

 Do they keep their commitments?

I’ve known people who say yes to every project. But rarely finish any of them. The committee member who shows up once full of ideas. He never appears again until the celebratory banquet.

 Can they agree to disagree and work with you, anyway?

After carefully considering the counsel or criticism, you still decide to do it your way. will they walk away or stand by you? This is your show, not theirs. Your reputation and success are on the line. Can they stay supportive in the background and let your choice play itself out?

Once you’ve found that person treat them with the same respect and consideration you want for yourself. Together with the aid of your launch team you should create the right amount of buzz to push your sales consistently forward.

 

Do you have a marketing accountability partner?

 

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Learn What You Don’t Know

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Marketing tip #4 Learn Stuff

To quote Leroy Jethro Gibbs (NCIS) when he tells his agents to investigate. “Go! Learn stuff!” They need to do interviews, research facts, and revisit the crime scene and evidence. This same directive applies to marketing. When it comes to marketing “we don’t know what we don’t know.” And for me, there is a gob of stuff I don’t know.

I just spent time building my author page on Amazon. Once you get in there it is a step by step process. Clear instructions and examples helped me put all the components in place. Then I came to the part where I could add my blog address. I know my URL. It’s http//www.jubileewriter.wordpress.com. But the site asked for my RSS. Without it, my blog post would not be part of my author page. What is an RSS and how do I find it? I didn’t have time to email a friend and ask for instructions. As I pondered this, the words of a young member of my critique group came to mind. You can find anything on YouTube. Thank you, Erin. So, I googled “how do I find my blog’s RSS.” Voila! I clicked the first reference. A blog about it with a—wait for it—YouTube link at the bottom to find your RSS for WordPress blogs. The RSS for WordPress blogs is simply—feed. You add a forwardslash and the word feed. Other blog servers have different RSS that must be added after your URL. I didn’t bother to learn those. Sorry! I’m sure there’s a YouTube video for those as well.  So, my URL with RSS looks like this. http//www.jubileewriter.wordpress.com/feed. I learned what I needed to know.

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Learn what you don’t know

Educate yourself about any social media you don’t know. I’ve used Facebook for years. Twitter is fairly new for me. I’ve been reading blog posts about hashtags to figure out how best to mark my posts. Twitter is an awesome place to market because your tweets go out live to every one of your followers and on feeds that match your hashtags i.e. #amwriter. You can retweet the same thing often because unlike Facebook people usually don’t go back once a week to scroll through what they missed.

I accidently got a Pinterest account. How can you accidently sign up for one? I needed a picture for my blog. Signing up gave me access to all those Pinterest pictures from various boards. Now I have Pinterest and their admin constantly emails me boards I might like to pin to my site. I need to learn more about Pinterest and create some boards myself. It is easy to use. My sister loves it. Other authors swear it is an awesome tool.  That brings me to the next point.

Make time to learn stuff early on

The learning curve for new things for some of us is long. I do better if someone talks me through steps while I do them. But I can follow step by step instruction, it just takes me longer. Learning how to create a blog site and figuring out how to reach more people has been a big learning curve for me. Blogging is part of my marketing toolbox. I have been using it for a few years. Years before my novel got a contract. Years before my novel is due to come out. This is key. Don’t wait until your book is out to learn stuff. That is like reading about CPR while your spouse is having a heart attack. Your novel may die before it has a chance to be part of many reader’s libraries.

 

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Be proactive

Ask marketing questions and do what can be done long before your book is published. I couldn’t create an Author page on Amazon or Goodreads before I had an ISBN number for my novel. But I could create a reader page on Goodreads and post lots of book reviews. Goodreads is a great place to engage with other readers. My Facebook friends who are avid readers follow me on Goodreads. Now I’ll build an author page on Goodreads and those same readers may follow me as a writer.

Pay for what you don’t know or don’t want to learn

There are wonderful people out there who can design bookmarks, flyers, and postcards for advertising in no time. Then there is me. I would rather pay for someone to do it for me than do it myself. As I journey through marketing my novel, Secrets and Charades, I will pay for others to do some of the work for me. Research which marketing people are right for you. Ask around for referrals. Learn stuff.

Share what you know

Gibbs always gathered his team for a briefing. Each agent shared what they found out and all the pieces were put together. Share the stuff you learn. Even if it’s little. There is always someone who doesn’t know what you know. Don’t be a negative Nellie. Be sure the things you bring to the cooperative marketing idea table are truly helpful. And if you must warn someone of a bad experience, package it in carefully chosen words. The right attitude may set the stage for you to be offered an opportunity to share stuff in a speaking or teaching venue in the future.

Tell me what you’ve learned about marketing along the way that made a difference for you? What services would you rather pay for? How do you learn stuff? I’m anxious to hear your answers.

 

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You Gotta Ask

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Marketing tip #1  Ask

I absolutely hate to ask. Because I hate rejection more.

If you’ve been building a network with other writers, the asking is easier.

When my publisher asked me for a list of possible endorsers, my knees knocked. Then I recalled all those whose books I have reviewed and promoted.  They said anytime they could help me out they would and to just ask. So, I asked thinking I might get one or two. I got seven. Seven endorsers. Seven people who got a pdf copy to read and can easily do a review when Secrets and Charades is out. I secured Beta Readers the same way. Those awesome readers who look for typos and other weirdisms before it went to press. They too can post Book Reviews.

Phew! That wasn’t so hard.

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Another asking hill to climb

Ask people to be part of your launch team. That was a scary thought for me.  What if they say no. What if they say yes and really mean no. Helping other people promote their books is easy for me, but, promoting myself, not so much.  But I’ve been talking about my writing life with others on social media and in the real world. Gulp! Could I do this?

The easy way is to follow the good advice, the hard way is doing it my way.

I had to try my way.

An experienced author told me to send personal PM to Facebook friends. A personal ask.  But I was sure sending it out as an FB post would get better results. I got two. I got another at church because I asked her. That was three. I knew that was not enough. Fear of rejection nettled in my mind. I had to do this because well, I need help and my novel comes out March 15th.  So recently I sent out a lot of PMs and got 30. Wow! 1000% increase. Why? Because asking gets results.

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The scripture says “you have not because you ask not.” And as a mother, I often tell my children “Well, I can’t read your mind.” Often people think if you want my help you’ll ask for it. While those who need help, think people should just volunteer. We don’t want to volunteer and get rejected. (Do I see a theme.)

I’ve done the do-it-my-way before, and it hasn’t had great results in other ventures in my life.  Yet, I still struggled getting out of my comfort zone and doing things differently. It does take a village of helpers to raise your new novel up through the rankings on Amazon and other retail sites. It takes stepping out of our comfort zone and asking for help.

 

How many do I need on my team

Another wise author said you can never have too many team members. I think it is because as in any volunteer endeavor there are the doers and the joiners. The doers are reliable. The ones who will go above and beyond to help you reach your goal. The joiners do less, but without them, everything would fall on the few.

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Keep asking

Ok, I asked for endorsements, beta readers and Stage Crew (What I am calling my launch team.) Now I’ll keep asking my publisher, acquisition editor and other authors what is my next step and how do I do it. I’ve never done a launch party of any kind. I’ve never done a book signing.  Podcast and building a speaking platform are foreign to me. I read articles and blogs on these subjects. I listen to others talk about their success. Mostly, I ask lots of questions. I’m not done asking questions. My plan: stay teachable and step out of my comfort zone and ask. After all I want to sell my novel. And asking for help with marketing is one way to reach that goal.

How are you about asking for help when it comes to marketing? What wisdom can you pass on? I really want to know, that’s why I’m asking.

 

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