January, 2017

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What Libraries Look For in a Self-Published Book


If you are lookinDog, Dogue De Bordeaux, Mastiffg for a new source of income from your book, you might want to consider libraries. Libraries in the US are experiencing a huge surge in foot traffic. Public librarians are seeing a lot more patrons and their checkout rates are skyrocketing
. Need more good news? Their budgets are going up too. In many cities, the annual budget for libraries is increasing and libraries are opening new locations and reopening at historical rates.

With over 3 billion dollars a year being spent in US libraries (according to ALA Materials Survey released March 2016) on materials (read: books), it is time for you to spend some of your sales and marketing time presenting your book to librarians.

Before you pick up the phone or keyboard, you need to know one key piece of information: what libraries look for in a book.

#1 They want books that will appeal to their patrons.

The higher the checkout rate at a local library, the more successful the library is rated. Books that appeal to patrons mean higher checkout rates and the librarians are seen as successful and the libraries get to keep their budgets intact.

#2 They want books that drive traffic into their libraries.

The more people that visit a library, the more needed the library is to the community. Budgets go up, more staff is needed, and everyone gets to keep their job and continue with their main goal which is…

#3 They want to be of service to their communities.

Librarians the world all over have one common characteristic…they want to be helpful. It is the main reason why they become librarians. So, if you (as an author) can be of help to their patrons, you should offer! Write an article for their newsletter, offer a workshop, host a club or event…

#4 They want to save time and look good to their bosses.

Librarians are just like the rest of us. They are overworked, busy, and want to go home at the end of every day knowing that they are well respected. If you can help the librarians order successful books quickly and easily, you are doing great. Do what you can to make a librarian’s job easier, and you will have a lot of sales.

#5 They want to work with authors that understand these first four goals.

If you approach librarians with a marketing plan that will drive traffic into their branch, and you can show them that your book will do well on their shelves; if you can offer them your book easily and through wholesalers that they already work with and can offer their patrons some added benefits….You are well on your way!

Materials librarians use to decide which books to buy

  • a one page sales sheet with your book’s details and description
  • a one page sheet about the author that showcases what a great person you are
  • a marketing plan and outline showing all the ways you are going to promote the book
  • a list of things you are willing to do to help the library promote the book and your topic
  • Reviews from trusted sources

Now that you know what libraries look for in a book, create an email that focuses on the librarian’s goals instead of on how great your book is. A proper attitude, the right tone, and the right materials will get you much further than your belief that your book should be a best-seller.

*Originally published on IngramSpark.com by Amy Collins and New Shelves Books. Dec 20, 2016


What to do AFTER you upload your book on Amazon

Your Book’s First Day on Amazon.com


There are things we want to see on our book’s Amazon page:

  • Search Inside working nicely (but not showing TOO much of the book)
  • All versions of our book showing up on all the different book’s pages and linked together
  • Our Author Page highlighted and linked
  • Our reviews from previous editions posted on the current edition
  • Perhaps our book discounted by Amazon to give it a “boost”

We also want to see our book on the top of the list when we type in the title or our author name.

But these things won’t happen right away.  The week that you upload your book is too soon to expect to see these things. Links, listings, Search Inside, reviews… these items take some time to find, enact, and post.  So when you first upload your book, please be patient with Amazon and give the computer minions time to get to all of the thousands of books that were uploaded on the same day your book was.

BUT, there are things you can do to speed up the process a bit.

  1. You can email CreateSpace or Amazon Advantage customer service with the ISBNs of all of our versions of your book and ask them to link them together.
  2. Go into Author Central and choose “Call Me”. They will call you and you can request that they copy the reviews and materials from your first edition to your current edition.
  3. You can also ask them to assign your book to a specific category you have seen but could not find in the drop down list on your upload page.  (This is a great way to position your book against your direct competition and get a higher ranking)
  4. Go into Author Central and make sure ALL versions of your book are listed on your bibliography. If not, claim them.

As for where your book falls in the list when you type the title or author name into the search bar, that is strictly based on demand and number of views and sales. The quickest way to get to the top?  Search by title name, find your book, click on it, and buy a copy. Then choose that EXACT URL (with search tags) in the URL bar and copy to send to your friends to click on and purchase.  After a few purchases, your book will be up near the top of the list when people type in the title!






Sanda-BeckwithThis week I am honored to host Sandra Beckwith, the owner of BuildBookBuzz and one of the most knowledgeable marketers I have ever met.  Please enjoy this article she has written expressly for New Shelves Readers:

What’s one of the best ways to get media exposure for your book?

Demonstrate that you’re “media-friendly” by creating an online press kit for your website.

An online press kit houses all the materials a journalist needs to determine whether to report on your book or its topic, or to use you as an expert resource for an article or segment related to your book.

4 reasons for an online press kit

Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, you need one.

Here’s what your online press kit will do for you, your site, and your book:

  • Help journalists find you when they’re looking for interview sources.
  • Improve search engine optimization (SEO) so that your site show up when people search for terms related to your book. (That’s because your press kit elements will contain those search terms.)
  • Give journalists the information they need to report on your book – sometimes, without even contacting you.
  • Provide readers with detailed information that helps them decide to purchase your book.

8 online press kit elements

What should you include in your online press kit?

Consider these eight elements. The first five are essentials; the last three are good to have, but optional.

  1. Announcement press release: This versatile tool helps people understand the value of your book. When writing it, include an objective description, information on why people will benefit from reading it, your author credentials, and how to purchase it. (Get detailed instructions in Get Your Book in the News: How to Write a Press Release That Announces Your Book.)
  2. Author bio: Is this on your book’s jacket flap or back cover already? Just copy and paste! Two to three paragraphs are usually enough. (But be sure you don’t make these four common author bio mistakes.)
  3. Author photo: Provide a professional, current author photo in a JPG format that journalists and bloggers can save and use.
  4. Book cover image: Media outlets and bloggers will want to use your book cover as an illustration, so make it possible for them to do so without contacting you for the file.
  5. Author Q&A: The question-and-answer list is particularly popular with radio talk show hosts, who don’t have time to read guest books and must rely on publicity materials you provide.
  6. Optional tip sheet: This is a type of news release that offers tips or advice in a bulleted or numbered format. It’s used by both fiction and nonfiction authors to get widespread media and blog exposure. Not familiar with tip sheets? Read, “How to promote your book with tip sheets.”
  7. Optional quiz: Newspaper, magazines, newspapers, bloggers, and radio talk show hosts love quizzes, so give them what they want! They’re fun to create, too.
  8. Optional fact sheet: If you find yourself continually referring to specific details during conversations about your book (with the media or others), consider summarize them in a bullet point fact sheet that places all of the information in one document called a fact sheet. It will save everyone time while helping your SEO.

Don’t make this common mistake

Finally, avoid the mistake that many authors, publicists, and publishers make in their press rooms: Do not make these documents available in PDF format only.

There are two reasons for this advice:

  • Because people use different software and systems, not everybody can copy and paste easily from PDF files. Even when they can, journalists often lose formatting. That means they have to find and insert important paragraph breaks, and so on. Don’t force them to do any more work than necessary.
  • If your PDF is saved as an image, search engines can’t search it – which makes it useless for SEO.

Here’s what you want to do: Make everything but the images available in a text format that’s similar to all of the other content on your site.

One of my favorite examples is my student Candy Harrington’s press room for her book, 22 Accessible Road Trips: Driving Vacations for Wheelers and Slow Walkers. See how easy it is to copy and paste information from her book announcement press release?

Writing your online press kit elements

You can create all of these materials easily yourself. You wrote the book, so you can write all the materials that support it, right?

Instead of reinventing the wheel, though, take the easy route and let me help you. Get a template and a real-life sample/example for each of your written press kit elements – as well as templates and samples for other important book publicity tools – in my popular author workbook, Build Book Buzz Publicity Forms & Templates.

This time-saving resource that includes instructions for creating these elements (except the images) and many others used by authors guides you through the process with fill-in-the blanks forms and samples.

What’s in your author press room? Please share a link to it, too!  

Sandra Beckwith is an award-winning former publicist who now teaches authors how to market their books. Three groups have recognized her BuildBookBuzz.com site as an outstanding resource for authors, so you know her advice is author-tested. Download Sandra’s free “Top 5 Free Book Promotion Resources” and you’ll also receive her free weekly newsletter loaded with book marketing tips and advice. 



Getting PR and Media-An Interview with The Publicity Hound, Joan Stewart


book publicity do's & don'ts by Amy Collins for BookWorks.com

Welcome to an Interview with one of my FAVORITE people, Joan Stewart!

In my last post, I had the privilege of giving you some ideas on how to impress bookstores and convince them to stock your books. One of the ideas included making sure that you had a strong marketing and book publicity plan.  Great advice (if I do say so myself), but HOW? Getting press and having a constant promotional presence IS vital, but how does an author with no PR experience go about getting that presence?

Enter Joan Stewart,  aka “the Publicity Hound“. Joan and I have worked together for many years helping authors and publishers learn the ins and outs of PR and marketing. Joan has over 30 years experience in the media and knows what doesn’t work and what does.

SO to start, here is a short list of things Joan and I have seen authors and publishers do that do NOT work…

Book Publicity Don’ts:

1.   Going for the “Big Hit.”

Every author is hoping for a call from NPR’s Terry Gross or the producers of Good Morning America. Perhaps they are pitching for a cover story at USA Today. Spending more than a small amount of time and money on these Top Tier Media outlets is not a great idea. There is a VERY small chance of getting in (especially if you are an indie author.) On top of that, if you DO get a Big Hit, it is a general media outlet going to a general audience; it is virtually impossible to focus on your message. Getting a Top Tier media appearance is fabulous to build credibility but does not usually sell books the way you think it will.

2.    Sending out press releases and expecting that the editors and press will contact you. 

Press releases are simply announcements.  They are very different from story or interview idea PITCHES to the writers and editors. (See our earlier post on pitching your book.)

3.    Sending out mass emails to thousands of reporters on a list. (“Spray and Pray”)

Lists are a great way to get started and a very useful tool, but mass mailing a form letter to the list will not get you anywhere NEAR the results a crafted email will. Take the time to personalize each email.  You will gather FAR more media and press successes if you do.

What Does Work:

1.  Penetrate your local community where people know you. 

WHY:  Local media frequently views local authors as celebrities and local media are incredibly easy to get into comparatively to national media stations—especially local papers. Newspapers and weekly papers need local news, and you need items in the press on a regular basis.

book publicity do's & don'ts by Amy Collins for BookWorks.com

Pat Morgan, author of The Concrete Killing Fields,  penetrated the local Memphis area when she launched her book. She got a full page article in the local paper and a big write up in the Memphis Flyer and appeared on local TV stations. Yes, she had plans for a national press appearance and ended up in larger markets, but those local press appearances helped her sell a TON of books in Memphis and got her on a local bestseller list for TWO YEARS.

2.  Springboard from an event.

If you are appearing at a function or speaking for an organization, offer to write an article for that organization’s newsletter. Or ask if they will send an email to their entire mailing list about you and your book. Then, get the organization to help you pitch the media in their industry and geographic area. Program coordinators are looking for interesting speakers, but they also know ALL the media folks because they have to promote their events. Remember, only a small percentage of a group’s membership will attend an event. Reaching the rest of the membership and getting online and print exposure is a great way to optimize your appearance.

book publicity do's & don'ts by Amy Collins for BookWorks.com

Steve Snyder, author of Shot Down: The True Story of Pilot Howard Snyder and the Crew of the B-17 Susan Ruth, (a BookWorks Book of the Week) sold over 2000 books in eight months mostly by targeting museums that had anything to do with aviation. WWII groups, retirement communities, and senior living mobile home parks and RV clubs.

3.  Partner with corporations and non-profits whose themes tie into the themes of your book.book publicity do's & don'ts by Amy Collins for BookWorks.com

Mara Purl, author of The Milford-Haven Novels,  now speaks for the American Heart Association about taking care of your heart and life by being kind to yourself. She is not a medical professional; she is a novelist who writes heartwarming love stories! The American Heart Association buys copies of her book to give to folks who attend the events so that they can relax with a book. She put bookplates for the non-profit organization in the book. The organizations love it and she has sold thousands of additional books with this idea.

4.  Getting your book into Holiday Gift Guides. 
Holiday Gift Guides in newspapers and online are easier to get into than national magazines. National magazines start planning their holiday content many months in advance. Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Graduation, Father’s Day, hunting season—you name it—print publications, websites, and podcasters all have gift guides. If you are interested in being considered for a seasonal promotion, I suggest you approach your target venue four months before the holiday month. Newspapers usually don’t need that much time, but magazines do.  Better safe than sorry!

5.  Pitching the New Product sections of magazines, (especially niche magazines!) 

book publicity do's & don'ts by Amy Collins for BookWorks.comWhile Real Simple and Martha Stewart are great, go with niche and smaller publications to start.  They are always looking for new products, and a book IS a product. There are always websites and newsletters happy to suggest new products that could help their readership. Let your fingers do the Googling! TIP:  Make a high-res jpg (300 dpi) of your cover available on your website so that journalists and editors can download a high-resolution photo with no trouble.  Also, have a 50-word, a 100-word, and a 200-word description ready for cut and pasting as well.  Editors LOVE to work with folks that make their jobs easier.

We’d love to hear what kinds of book publicity strategies you’ve used to get noticed in the comments section below—what worked, and what didn’t.

Originally published at: https://www.bookworks.com/2016/10/book-publicity-dos-donts-for-indie-authors/#sthash.vZF0RPkA.dpuf