Posts Tagged ‘author tips’

Getting the Most Out of Goodreads: Aiding Authors in Shameless Self-promotion

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Since its launch in 2007, Goodreads has grown to over 25 million users discussing, sharing, and reading over 750 million books. That’s a lot of people who could be buying your book. But where to start?

Why Goodreads?

Free Marketing. Two magical words that every author loves to hear. In the world of shameless self-promotion, authors have a steep job ahead of them, so a little free marketing can go a long way. Social media websites, like Twitter and Facebook, make promoting more simple, but Goodreads specifically focuses on making an author’s life easier.

The Author ProgGoodreads-Logoram

Goodreads created a program just for you, the author. Besides being a popular information hub for obsessive bibliophiles and casual readers alike, Goodreads treats authors like a VIPs, giving them special tools geared towards helping them sell their books. These tools and features are part of the Goodreads Author Program.

The Author Program allows you to

  • Hold giveaways
  • Blog and let your readers the latest news
  • Start a featured author group for yourself so readers can discuss your books
  • Upload videos
  • Edit your books’ information and upload covers etc.

These special privileges, and a few others, help you communicate with your readers and create a following. The more people that know about your books, the better your books will sell.

How to jsign Upoin:

  • Sign up or Sign in. If you don’t already have an account, you can sign up through Facebook , or you can sign up with just your email. If you already have an account, make sure you’re signed in.
  • Search for your book. The author program is for authors who have already been published or are currently being published. Once you have found your book, click on the author name (yours), and you should be taken to the author page.
  • Scroll down to the bottom of the page. Click on the “is this you?” link and join as a Goodreads Author.

Over the next few weeks, we will discuss:

  • How to better promote your books using the Goodreads Author Program
  • How to use Goodreads with Twitter and Facebook
  • Author and Reader Interaction: The Do’s and Don’t’s

In the mean time, look around on Goodreads, become friends with Ambassador International and enjoy your new VIP status–you’re a Goodreads Author.

5 Tips for Taking a Great Author Photo

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A great author photo can say just as much about a title as…well…the title! Author photos are key selling tools in the publishing world, and you want to make sure yours stands out. Your photo will be featured on your books, as well as on any blogs, websites or social media you produce. Sometimes, your author photo can even make or break a signing gig. It may sound like a daunting task, but a few simple principles are all you really need to get a shot that shines. So, stand up straight, check your teeth for spinach, and smile!

 

Be Authentic

The goal of an author photo is to establish a connection between you and the viewer. Showing your personality is great, but be careful not to overdo it. You want the photo to be current, relatable, and YOU. Be authentic to yourself and your genre. If you write upbeat devotionals, don’t take your photo in a gloomy graveyard. If you’re writing about the struggles of high finance in the business world, that baseball hat and shorts just aren’t going to cut it. In the same vein, pick a pose that displays your personality, but avoids tropes.

Author Photo good pose

DO Be Genuine and Personable.

Light It Up

Proper lighting in photography cannot be stressed enough. The light should not be bright enough to obliterate the shadows on your face, but it should bring out your eyes. Dark and moody is usually not going to be a good choice: you’ll get dark circles under your eyes, you’ll look tired, and your neck is going to vanish into the background. Speaking of backgrounds, this is a good time to consider where your photos will be taken. Outdoors is a great choice, especially in the late afternoon, but you could also do them indoors, preferably next to a window with a lot of natural light.

Author Photo too dark

DON’T Forget that Lighting is a Key Element in a Great Author Photo.

Focus In

Your face needs to be the center of attention in your photo. This doesn’t mean that you have to be centered in the frame, but it does mean that you should be the most prominent feature. Remember, the spotlight is you—your face should be in focus.  Solid colored clothing is a great choice for author photos: prints distract from your face. Make sure you don’t blend into the background and you’re all set.

Author Photo bad focus

DON’T Focus on Something Other Than Your Face.

Hi Resolution

This is not a time to show off your selfie skills. This photo is going to be on the back of your book, on your website, on your blog, on your facebook, and several places between. Your iphone is nice, but your readers will be able to tell. Trust us on this one. All photos should be 300dpi, with room to crop down if needed.

Author Photo Selfie

DON’T Use a Selfie.

Go Pro

It’s tempting to go DIY with author photos, but it’s better to leave this project to a pro. If you’re going the budget route, check with local university art programs—often a student photographer will give you a great deal for their time, and it will look much better.

Author Photo GoPro-1

DON’T Use a Candid Snap Shot.

Investing in a good photographer is an investment in your book. Your photographer will know what light is working best, how to position your hands, and can help address any problems you encounter along the way.

Author Photo HiRes

DO Use a Professional to Capture a Great Author Photo!

** Special thanks to Ambassador intern Josh for modeling all of our author photo dos and don’ts! **

Guest Post: Mastering the Amazon Affiliate aStore

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This is a guest post provided by Renee Metzler, author of Total Home Makeover: A 20-Day Plan to Renew Your Space and Spirit.

I happen to really love my publishing company.  Sometimes I feel led to pray that God will use them in a mighty way.  As I was praying for Ambassador International, God inspired me with an idea on how we as authors can help each other, our company, our readers, and ourselves spread our message even more effectively:  Expanded Ambassador Bookstores.

As Ambassador International authors, we all have one thing in common, we already have a Mini Ambassador Bookstore, that is, we are in the business of selling an Ambassador book.  It occurred to me that my Mini Ambassador Bookstore is actually pretty small, it only contains one book.  You guessed it, my book.  Now, I also happen to really love my topic, home management.  However, I am aware that most people need more than just one message or one book in their lives.

So, with the help of a nifty little tool called the aStore at amazon affiliates (which by the way also gives affiliate sales commissions), I’ve decided to expand my Mini Ambassador Bookstore to 10 books or more.  My audience is primarily women and mothers ages 25-65 and I think they would enjoy a few of the great titles created by some pretty amazing authors at Ambassador.

I can still feature my book and focus on creating posts and content around the subject in which I’m called to speak, but with an Expanded Ambassador Bookstore, I now have a chance to help spread our message, the love of Jesus Christ, even more effectively.

Amazon aStore THMWhy an Expanded Bookstore?

Well, because it pretty much benefits everyone.  Take a look at who benefits:

  • My Readers can experience other great Ambassador Books and authors.  A potential reader might never read my book, but your book could prove invaluable.  I helped make that connection.  This may meet a real need in their lives, plus they will see that I’m trying to meet their need.
  • My Fellow Authors can experience greater audience reach, helping them to connect with those who need their message, and finding more financial success so they can continue to afford doing their call (a little less time on marketing and a little more time on writing that next book).
  • My Publishing Company can experience greater success through sales thus giving them room to grow and spread the message of Jesus Christ more.
  • Myself.  I will gain an expanded bookstore with quality Ambassador Books bringing more value to my website.  My website now expands beyond my topic and offers other valuable resources.  By helping a reader make a connection with God through your book, I ultimately reached my goal to be an Ambassador.  Financially, I will benefit with an affiliate sale increasing my monthly commission.  Now, I too, will spend a little more time writing that next book.

Okay, the benefits seem clear.  By expanding and banding together, Ambassador Authors could have more reach.  Let’s take a look at the potential reach in numbers.

I’ll call this the Lone Rider and Posse Scenarios.  Please note that these numbers don’t represent actual statistics.

The Lone Rider.

1 Ambassador Author, alone, might reach an audience of 1,000 in a year.

That’s a 1:1,000 author-audience ratio.  The Lone Rider is lonely.

The Posse.

100 authors, together, each sharing 10 books (that’s 1,000 messages all together) reaches an audience of 100,000 in one year.  That’s a 1,000:100,000 author-audience ratio.  That’s powerful.

Just by banning together and helping one another, through an Expanded Ambassador Store, we can reach so many more.  And that’s when we add just 10 books to our Expanded Ambassador Bookstore.  I have to tell you though, when I sat down to expand my Ambassador Bookstore, I couldn’t stop at ten!  You have all created some wonderful books!  No, I continued to add until I was at 20, 30, and beyond.  Those additional books increases the total reach as well.

I’m proud to be an Ambassador International author, but even more so an Ambassador for Jesus Christ.  My avenue is words.  It’s my hope that by expanding my bookstore with your books more people will be reached for Him.

An Invitation

Of course an Expanded Ambassador Bookstore might not be right for everyone, but I wanted to share this idea with others at Ambassador, and if you feel inclined, you’re invited to join the Posse!  It’s inspiring to think that our publishing company could gain more reach, have more impact for Jesus Christ, and help more people, just because we helped one another.

Amazon aStore videoHow to Create an Expanded Bookstore Quickly + Video Tutorial

Creating an Expanded Ambassador Bookstore is actually a pretty simple process.  Start with an affiliate account with Amazon.  After starting your affiliate account, follow the seven steps below to set up an expanded Bookstore for your website or view the video tutorial for instructions.

  1. Log in to your affiliate amazon account.
  2. Click on aStore.
  3. Add Category Pages for easier shopping for your readers such as fiction, non-fiction, and children.
  4. Add products.  In the search box add the title of an Ambassador International book.
  5. Save and name your store.
  6. Link your store directly to a page on your website or embed your store on a page.
  7. Announce and share your Expanded Ambassador Store to your friends, family, and readers.

P.S.  Ambassador Author:  If you feel your book is a great fit for mothers, and it’s not on my bookshelf at http://totalhomemakeover.webs.com/manage, please send me a note at http://totalhomemakeover.webs.com/contact-us and I’ll be sure to add it.  Blessings as you discover more ways to reach more for Him.

5 Tips for Developing Your Amazon Author Central Page

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Most authors know that a key component for reaching readers is selling their product on Amazon. But this can go well beyond simply having a product listed among the millions also offered from the gigantic retail outlet. Amazon offers a free marketing tool called Amazon Author Central. It’s a way for authors to market their books, reach readers and develop an online community. Here are fives tips for developing your Amazon Author Central page.

 

Write Your Biographyamazon author

Your Amazon Author Central page includes a section for adding your biography. This is your chance to unveil yourself to potential readers and future fans. Be personable and honest. Feel free to add a little more length to this biography that perhaps wasn’t able to be included on your book cover.

 

Migrate Your Feeds

If you have a blog or a Twitter account you can have your Amazon Author Central page automatically update when you write a new post or send a new tweet. This is a great way to ensure that your Amazon Author Central page remains vibrant and fresh. There will be no question that you are regularly engaging readers and encouraging responses.

 

Create an Author Page URL

If you want to be able to share your Amazon Author Central page on your social media accounts you’ll want a simple and memorable URL. Amazon makes it easy to shorten and customize your URL. On the Author Central Profile tab, click add link next to “Author Page URL.” You’ll want to come up with something basic. Using your name is probably best. Once you find the perfect URL click save. Your Author Page URL will go live in approximately 30 minutes.

 

Add Photos and Video

Add color to your Amazon Author Central page by uploading exclusive photos or videos. Create a short video welcoming people to your Amazon home. Or simply upload your book trailer to give people a quick pitch for why they should buy your book.

 

Promote Events

Whether you’re hosting a book signing at a local store or have scheduled a Twitter chat to talk about your book, your Amazon Author Central page can be a good place to promote those upcoming events. Take just a few simple steps to update this information on your page.

Featured Image Credit

Beyond the Manuscript: Engaging Media on a Local and National Level (week 6)

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Beyond the ManuscriptOver the span of six weeks Ambassador COO Tim Lowry will be sharing a series he calls “Beyond the Manuscript.” Whether you’re a new or seasoned author we hope you’ll find this material helpful:

Over the last 5 weeks I’ve really enjoyed sharing the Beyond the Manuscript blog series with you. For this final week I called upon our publicist Alison Storm to provide some practical tips for engaging media on a local and national level.

Engaging the Media

Local Media

For many authors local media will be the best resource for spreading the word about your book.

  • Highlight Local Ties: If you’re a Greenville, SC author getting a newspaper in Texas to care about your new novel is going to be a lot harder than getting the attention of the Greenville News. Think about what is going to make people care.

For Literal Lily, an Ambassador children’s book. The author’s mother-in-law illustrated the book. So rather than pitch the book itself, which doesn’t really have a news peg we pitched that it was a family affair and were able to book several interviews.

National Media

While booking a national show would be great, you may actually find that you sell more books after local media hits.

  • Think About News Angles: This is especially important for novels and children’s books. The author of Dancing From the Shadows has personal experience with autism and the novel revolves around the subject. So we used that as a hard news angle to pitch the media during National Autism Awareness Month.

Practical Tips For Contacting Media

Access Decision Makers: Find email addresses of decision makers. Do Google research and you should be able to find the person you need to contact. At newspapers this person is likely an editor. At a TV station it’s an assignment editor or producer. At a radio station it’s a programming director or producer.

Don’t Use Attachments: Copy and paste your news release into the body of the email. Many news outlets have spam filters and do not accept attachments.

Offer Free Review Copies: Offer to send the decision maker a free review copy. Don’t simply send a free review copy unless you’ve found someone who is interested. That’s just a waste of resources.

Time Your Email Correctly: Do not email your news release at the end of the day or it may get lost in the shuffle. TV stations especially have a lot going on just before show time and this is not when they will be most attentive to your pitch.

Follow Up in One Week: A week after you initially contact media outlets follow up. Include your original email in your follow up email and be very brief. Ask simply, can I send you a review copy or answer any questions? Alison says she almost always has the majority of her success after the follow up.

Don’t Get Discouraged: Don’t be surprised if you don’t hear back. You may send out hundreds of pitches and only get one response. Don’t give up. Craft a new pitch. Use a new angle.

Once You Book an Interview

Prepare and Practice: Do not wing it. This is especially important for live interviews when time is limited. List out the main points you want to cover. Practice your sound bite answers. For TV appearances, wear solid colors and bring your book with you.

Don’t Say “My Book”: It is amazing how many authors will do an interview and never say the name of their book. It may feel awkward, but it’s extremely important that you work in the title of your book several times throughout the interview.

Smile and Get Excited: If you aren’t excited about your book, why would anyone watching your interview be moved to buy your book?

Don’t Expect Media to Sell Your Book: We’ve had authors appear on programs that we thought would result in huge sales boosts and the response was minimal. Media should be used as a tool in your arsenal, but it’s not the only thing that will help your book sell.

What experiences have you had with media?

I’ve really enjoyed sharing a lot of the basics with you. My hope is that you find these tips helpful on your journey to publication and marketing. If you’re just getting started talk with us, we’d love to learn more about your work and find out if we’re the right home for you and your title.

Beyond the Manuscript: Developing your product launch plan (week 4)

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Beyond the ManuscriptOver the span of six weeks Ambassador COO Tim Lowry will be sharing a series he calls “Beyond the Manuscript.” Whether you’re a new or seasoned author we hope you’ll find this material helpful:

We’re now 4 weeks into this series and today we’re going to be looking at Developing Your Product Launch Plan.

Ideally the building of your platform should be in full swing while you’re writing and especially as you advance into publication.

As you move into publication you want to start working on your launch plan. This is very important. If you wait until the book is out then start planning you will have lost valuable time and opportunities.

Developing a launch plan starts with creating buzz.

You need to get people excited.

Why?……

Your book is coming out!! This is exciting, let people feel your energy and enthusiasm, you’ve put a lot of hard work into getting to this moment.

Use your social media, share updates of when and how your book will be available, publicize scheduled signings, readings, book festivals, conferences. Let your fans know. Offer your followers pre-release exclusives, this could be the ebook and print book bundled or personalized copies. You can partner with your publisher on this for joint marketing.

You will want to connect with retail. This is especially important in your home market, this should be were your biggest initial audience and personal sales come from.

Pick a strategic retail partner. You might decide you want to have the support of a local indie store or if your publisher has distribution into a national chain you may take this route. Many writers develop friendships with bookstore managers early on in the writing process so you may already have a store in mind.

Once you’ve picked a retail outlet you feel is central to the local success of your title make those all important introductions. You’ll want to connect with the manager, owner or CRM (community relations manager), share with them about your book (using the title, not “my book”), how you’d like to work with them on a local level for a launch party/signing. They may have questions so be prepared, as I shared in earlier posts you’ll want to master your pitch. This allows you to draw in the manager and get them excited, be prepared to tell them about your local reach, what you’ve been doing to build a following and most importantly be prepared to tell them how and when they can get the book. Is it nationally distributed through a publisher/distributor or is it a self-published title that you will be handling the distribution? If this is the case know your discount scales and terms.

Once you’ve established your local retail partner, link to them on your website. Plug them in your social media and connect with their social media, keep a close eye on what they are doing so you can make yourself available should they be doing anything locally that will help get your book out there.

Stay connected with the manager work with them on your local events.

When planning events you have three main categories you can consider:

  • Retail: this includes bookstores, gift shops, coffee houses
  • Non-Retail: covers churches, book clubs, libraries, schools and of course
  • Online: Google+ Hangouts, blog tours, giveaways

Each of these categories need to be explored and tested by you. You will find that you’re going to have strengths in some areas and weaknesses in others. If you plan wisely you can have each event cross promote another.

Think about your audience and where they will be likely to go.

The next step is creating a media database. A media database along with your retail contacts and fan base will become a go-to list for the ongoing success of your title and any future titles. You will want to compile a spreadsheet including:

  • Local TV and radio show producers
  • Local news papers and magazine editors
  • Local events calendars
  • Bloggers and reviewers

Do keep in mind national media likes several months lead time. National magazines around 3-6 months lead and national broadcast around 3 months lead unless it is breaking news. If you’re reaching out to local TV and Radio the lead time is not as essential.

Creating this database for yourself is going to take work but it is worth it. If you have a good publisher they’ll have reach into an extensive media databases and will pitch your title as they see appropriate. I do however recommend you make your own connections when possible and build on relationships with any that interview you. You never know when your subject matter ties in perfectly with breaking news.

Your platform is established. Your social media is active and working. You’ve got your pitches down. You have store contacts, media contacts and a launch plan created.

Next week we’re going to put this all into action and help you make your first big event a successful signing.

What retailer do you want to have your first big event at? Have you got a game plan in place to ensure a buying crowd is in attendance?

Beyond the Manuscript: Building Your Fan Base (week 3)

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Beyond the ManuscriptOver the span of six weeks Ambassador COO Tim Lowry will be sharing a series he calls “Beyond the Manuscript.” Whether you’re a new or seasoned author we hope you’ll find this material helpful:

This week we’re going to take a look at building your fan base as you write. If you have followed the steps previously laid out you should have your social home bases in place, now you have to put them into action.

Start by connecting! Seems obvious however some people feel that by just having an online profile followers will just drop into place without any work. You will want to reach out to friends, family, and fellow writers inviting them to connect with you, invite your contacts across from your personal page to your fan page. Friend, Like, Follow, join Circles. Think of how you network at a business or social gathering. This is exactly the same thing you’re just doing it online.

Once connected:

Bring your fans on the journey with you. If you are a fiction writer this can be as easy as teasing excerpts, or inviting followers to share feedback on characters or a part of the story you’re having trouble developing. This involvement lets fans feel like they are part of the action.

Guest blog, share about your writing experience, the highs and lows, the search for an agent or publisher, perhaps you want to take a little extra time to build added content for sharing outside your book. This could be creating sub-stories for characters outside of the main storyline or creating interviews and back stories with the fictional characters. This all allows readers to build a connection. Be sure your activities connect back to your home base, your website. Include your link everywhere you can.

We’ve briefly mentioned promo videos over the last two weeks. A promo video can be as simple as a still graphic displaying the book title and you reading a gripping excerpt in the background for 90 seconds or a more developed video such as the trailer for A Time To Heal below that showcases the title beautifully.

Any readers that frequent our site or social media may have seen us promoting Google+ Hangouts with our authors. This is one of the biggest tools that Google+ offers that is set apart from the other social media sites and personally I think it is brilliant! If you’ve never taken part in a Google+ Hangout or seen one you can follow this link to see a recent Google+ Hangout we did in partnership with our friends at Gospelebooks.net to promote Peter Hubbard’s latest title Love Into Light. With the right partnerships and pre-marketing a Google+ Hangout can bring you many new followers and sales of your book.

In putting the above tips into practice you will see your fan base grow. It is important to keep your posts frequent but they don’t need to be all about you or your book. A good balance is 70/30, 70% interaction and sharing material not related to your book, 30% promotion and selling of your material. Be aware of your time on social media, I’ve heard frequently from authors that hours just melt away once they get on Facebook. If you’re working on a deadline for publication be wise with your time online. Use tools like Hootsuite to efficiently schedule your posts across all your social media platforms.

Next week we’re going to be looking at developing your product launch plan. Your launch plan will help you put all your tools to work.

What is your biggest struggle with using social media? Have you found anything that works for you?

Beyond the Manuscript : Creating Your Platform (week 2)

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Beyond the Manuscript

Over the span of six weeks Ambassador COO Tim Lowry will be sharing a series he calls “Beyond the Manuscript.” Whether you’re a new or seasoned author we hope you’ll find this material helpful:

  • Week 1: Author and publisher marketing
  • Week 2: Creating a platform
  • Week 3: Building your fan base
  • Week 4: Developing your product launch plan
  • Week 5: How to organize a successful signing
  • Week 6: Engaging media on a local and national level

Any author that has ever attended a writer’s conference or been in the publishing industry any length of time has likely been told “you need to work on your platform.”

This week we’re going to cover some of basics needed to get you on the road to Creating A Platform.

A platform is key to the success of any book. If you have no established platform and no plans of establishing one then the your going to be facing an uphill battle. Thankfully however there are now more ways than ever before to build a platform, get a following and get your message out to the masses.

Let’s take a look at some of the tools that are available to you.

Social media icons

-Facebook: I have no doubt that everyone reading this has heard of Facebook, you probably already use it on some level. This is must for building your social presence — think of Facebook as a country with 1.1 billion residents, this is a huge market!

When talking about Facebook with respect to building your platform we’re talking about creating a fan page verses using a personal account.

A fan page is created from your personal account and Facebook has genres in place allowing you to easily create an author page. A fan page allows people to “like” rather than friend you.

With Facebook you can also customize your page URL (web address). We recommend making your URL your author name. The key in all this is to create a brand — your name is your brand. You want to make it as easy as possible for your readers to find and follow you.

-Twitter: Again I’m going to assume almost everyone reading this has heard of Twitter, you may already have an account and have tweeted out a link to this blog, for others we’re getting into a grey area. Twitter is a powerful networking tool. Using short, concise messages you can grab attention and easily direct followers to your content, keep posts to 140 characters or less, incorporate links and hashtags to what is relevant. The best way to learn how to effectively use twitter is 1) by using it, 2) following others in your category that you respect and see how they’re using it to build there brand and following.

-Google+: Although relatively new to the social media scene Google+ is growing in popularity and an important one for building your platform. Google is the king of search and they love data. As a publishing house we have recently seen some of our Google+ posts show up on Google’s home page for a search ahead of websites related to the product. Put simply Google likes Google, that makes this a must. Finding friends and creating circles will take some getting used to however once established Google offers great tools that makes the learning curve worth it — Google Hangouts could perhaps be one of your most valuable free marketing tool. We’re going to go into further detail about Google Hangouts in the coming weeks and how you can use this tool to build a following and sell product.

-Website/Blog: This is your home base, the social networks are the connectors to you but your website is where it all happens. Use great tools like WordPress to create a robust website with a blog integrated. When building your site think about what you want it to achieve. If you’re wanting to push sales do you want to link to major retailers or would you prefer to handle your own sales using a service like paypal or perhaps providing both options? Do you speak at events or do you want to build this out as part of your marketing? If so make sure your site has a speaking calendar, instructions on how to book you and if possible audio or video of you speaking at other events. Do you want to offer freebies to bring fans to your site? Perhaps you have had several interviews or have a great media kit you’d like to have downloaded — this can go on a media page.

-YouTube: This is yet another one of Google’s sites.If you’re going to create a video there are options like Vimeo and Animoto however we strongly suggest YouTube as the way to go, this being a Google run site it works nicely with their analytics and places it higher in searches than other sites. Again, use your author name to brand your channel on YouTube.

It is important if at all possible that you keep your branding consistent. Website URL, Facebook URL, Twitter handle, YouTube Channel etc. Do not use some nickname or alias that only a handful of people know you by, stick with the name that is on the book.

Next week we’re going to be talking about how putting these tools to work and building your fan base as you write.

What tool have you found most successful for you to connect and build a listening audience?