Author’s Book Marketing Guide: Month 2 Pre-Release

Photo: Notebook with checklist and hand checking off the list.

The countdown is getting close! Are you able to breathe? Hopefully with the homework we’ve laid out in Months 6, 5, 4, 3 of the pre-release plan, the only nervousness you feel is the excitement of your new book almost ready for a booming and successful start! This month is all about “priming the pump” so to speak for advance sales.

This month we’re going to concentrate on:

  • Article directories
  • Press Releases
  • “Push” pages

Article Directories

Remember that in order to catch peoples’ attention, you have to be visible. The best way for a writer to increase their visibility (not to mention increase inbound links to their website, therefore increasing search engine results) is to have name recognition everywhere. That means contributing articles online. You can easily capitalize on any membership sites you belong to. Doing so increases your membership’s community library and helps establish yourself as an expert. (Keep in mind that this doesn’t have to be about writing or publishing. Any expertise can be linked back to your website, which will promote your book when it releases.)

There are also a number of articles directory sites. Articles directories are super easy ways for your articles to find their way into blogs, newsletters, and other sites. With these directories, you retain full attribution and gain links to your websites. Posting your articles for free is sometimes the quickest way to have people pick up on your material for redistribution among their blog, newsletter, or website. While the effort won’t be directly compensated, the exposure to different networks can be amazing. Most directories allow you to track your articles so you can ensure the poster does properly attribute you and provide a link to your information (like your website, book link on Amazon, etc). Sometimes your articles can even end up in publications around the world, increasing your visibility and establishing your expert status.

If you’re like me, the thought of writing “how-to” articles as a fiction writer was daunting. But, as you can see, as a writer, no matter that genre, you are an expert in writing, at the very least. From my own trials and errors (many, many errors!! Oy vey!) I learned how to market myself and my books better, and a lesson learned is something that can written and submitted!

 

Press Releases

All right, the time has come to put together your book’s press release. I recommend completing on main release, then all you need to do is tweak the first paragraph a bit here and there for other releases. The “tweaking” allows you to tailor it specifically for types of publications you want to target.

But I’m a fiction writer! you’re thinking. No worries. So am I, but a press release is easy. Think of it as backwards storytelling. In fiction we start with the broad and tailor down to the specifics. In press release writing, we start with the specifics and supply the filler information. So your “who, where, when, what, and why” information is at the top. Make sure to include a headline and lead sentence to “hook” the readers, just like you did when writing your back blurb. (Example: New Book Provides Step-By-Step Book Marketing to Authors). Don’t make the mistake of focusing on you as the author (example: BC Brown Launches New Marketing Book). The writer isn’t as important in the headline as catching the reader’s attention. The first sentence needs to hook the reader with what is new, original, or hmmm….weird about your book. Then hit ’em with the book title, release date, publisher, and author name. Head into the next paragraph with a one-line recap of the book’s content. The best is if you can focus on how to book solves a problem or introduces a useful process. If the book is fiction, then you need to highlight how your book is different or original from the others on the marketing, and your one-line recap should be a plot summary. Then add on your credentials.

You head into the next paragraph with any special launch events, media appearances, and book tour signings. Don’t forget to give accolades to your publisher or distributor (if you have one). I tend to give my editor a little shout out here also. Definitely include how your book is available – online, in bookstores, and/or through your website. If self published, it’s best to not mention that fact. It’s unfortunate and unfair but a lot of stigma is still tied to self publishing. Although many indie authors are making strides toward bettering the image in quality of work and expertise, it isn’t quite there yet.

Last paragraph should include your website information, push page (which we will discuss next), and contact information so interested stores or media outlets can follow up with you. Successful press releases are limited to around 200-300 words. Keep sentences short, use active verbs, and keep the focus on what the book delivers for the reader, not on the book itself. Your credentials should always show how your experiences is beneficial to the reader. Make sure to double-check for typos. You wouldn’t believe how many press releases have come across my desk with errors in the email or phone number for an author – yikes! (A useful hint is to read your press release backwards, starting at the bottom of the document and reading it one line at a time to the top. The break in continuity will keep your brain from “filling in the known gaps” and glaring errors should present clearer.)

Traditional media outlets are still sticklers for what they consider “professional submission guidelines.” And let’s face it, the traditional media outlets still dominate the landscape for news. Make sure you follow the traditional press release format. Here is the example I used for my novel, A Touch of Darkness:

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Glorious Bastards Press 555-555-5555

A Touch of Darkness Revitalizes Gritty Noir with Dark Humor, Realistic Police Procedural, and Touching Humanity

     Mattoon, IL—A Touch of Darkness, An Abigail St Michael Novel, the newest title by fantasy author BC Brown, catapults into the modern-day, alternative reality of mysticism and madness with Abigail St Michael, former cop and psychic consultant.

A Touch of Darkness opens in the midnight world of psychics and serial killers with the death of a child, washed in the shadows of night and the alternating red and whites of police lights. Abbey St Michael is forced to confront an evil on her doorstep that may be closer than she ever realized. With her unique brand of dark humor and sarcastic wit, she struggles to catch a killer while not getting caught herself.

BC Brown’s first work, the dark fantasy Sister Light, Book One: Of Shadows and published under the pen name BB Walter, burst onto the sci-fi/fantasy scene first as short fiction and then expanded by request of fans for a full-length printing. Sister Light then went on to repeated sold out signings while on book tour and earned high praise from reviewers and readers alike. In A Touch of Darkness, Brown has brought all the sweeping vision of epic fantasy to contemporary paranormal mystery with an added noir grittiness and realism evident in its market pre-sales.

A Touch of Darkness is published by Glorious Bastards Press, a new author collaborative imprint. The Abigail St Michael Novels are distributed in the U.S. by Simon & Schuster. Learn more at www.bcbrownbooks.com.


When submitting your press release make sure to embed it in the body of your email. Do not attach it as a document. Understandably reporters are uneasy about opening attachments for fear of viruses. Many firewalls are built to keep out attachments for that reason. You should always include a personal note to the correspond in an effort to build personal relationships. Keep it brief however. I usually start with a line or two about one of their recent articles I’ve read. Just remember to be sincere, actually read the article. Then wrap it up with a polite note asking their consideration for your release.

Don’t forget about all the paid and free press release distribution services. The paid ones range in price. I’ve seen them go from inexpensive to costly, depending on their presence and distribution, plus bonuses that can be added. I’ve used PR Newswire in the past. Free sources I like to use are OpenPR and 24-7PressRelease. There are numerous others, and I suggest doing a little websurfing to see one that fits you best.

Why press releases? Every release that gets picked up online will drive traffic to your website and the push page we’re about to discuss. It also helps boost search engine results, creates buzz about your book, and builds visibility about you as an expert. Don’t forget to use your press release when emailing bookstores too. Their PR person will be able to use it in their marketing when setting you up for book signings and events. Always notify media personally of events when you’re going to be in the area as well. And don’t forget about capitalizing on the “homegrown” aspect – let local professional association publications, alumni magazines, community event publications – know about your book and who you are. You’re a celebrity now!

Push Pages

A push page is an industry term that allows for online pre-sales of your book. This can be done even if you are self publishing by creating a pre-order button on your website.

Most commonly used in non-fiction, push pages are becoming popular in genre fiction work as well. Typically push pages (for fiction) use pre-ordering by offering bonus materials, such as a short story in the same genre etc. It can be anything really (audio recordings, swag, etc) from the author. The point is an incentive to commit to and purchase the book prior to its launch. Another fun way to market (and grow your audience and author network) is to ask other authors to cross promote with you. You can ask them to offer an excerpt or downloadable chapter, article, discount (anything) to your launch. Just remember that you want similar content without competing messages. This can work especially well if you and an author friend have opposite publication schedules. Also, ensure you have a way to fulfill the cross-promoted material (or the material you are providing) so everyone gets what you’ve promised.

To recap: this month you should be working on article directories and submissions to them, press releases to be sent out, and push pages for pre-release sales. If you haven’t yet, you should make sure you have bookmarks, business cards, posters, and book “fliers” designed and ordered. Send out your press releases and review copies. Contact bookstores to schedule those important signings. Start scheduling conventions and conferences for speaking opportunities and signings.

During all of this, make sure you update your spreadsheet with notes as to who you’ve contacted, when, and responses received. This includes media, reviewers, and book stores. Make notes about personality, outcomes, and overall experience. You can work with those who are willing to work with you instead of against you by keeping accurate notes. And it will save you a lot of time in the future! I also consider what “swag” I will be giving away at future events. In the beginning, I suggest keeping it small: bookmark with some type of giveaway (I suggest a short story download), maybe pens or magnets, candy). Keep it simple and small at first. Find ways to tie it to you or your book when possible.

Okay, well that wraps up your 2 month pre-release. You are well on your way to a successful launch if you’ve followed the steps laid out. Remember, by following each of these little by little you save yourself a lot of last minute stressing and initials sales that may be discouraging, to say the least.

BC Brown is the author of three novels and has participated in multiple short story anthologies. Having committed almost every ‘bad deed’ in the book of ‘How to Be An Author’, she now strives to educate others through humor and simple instruction.
Why I Help the Homeless

Why I Help the Homeless

I didn’t grow up in a family that had causes. I was taught from an early age that you took care of yourself first, and then you helped others when and where you could. It wasn’t until I became an adult that I realized that helping others was taking care of myself. Once I realized I could do more, a simple drive around Phoenix told me just where I needed to jump in. Phoenix experiences a booming homeless population due to our temperate winters, and there were thousands of people who needed my help.

I work with several non-profit organization in Phoenix, Arizona that assist people experiencing homelessness. Many of those non-profits are a mixture of groups that provide services like meals on Sunday and a few nights a week or large outreach events once a month on Saturdays or Sundays.
 
One such group called Hope 4 Phoenix began providing meals for homeless individuals on Sundays and Wednesdays. Using leftovers from those meal, they started distributing sandwiches to people struggling with homelessness in downtown Phoenix popular areas for homeless to frequent. Phoenix homeless advocate Mike Atanasio saw the need to expand the meal service to a full 7 nights-a-week. He coordinated local food banks to provide ingredients for soup (in the winter) and items for sandwiches (peanut butter and jelly for the yummy win!).
 

Along Came BC

 
Mike handles several dozen outreach projects and events for the Arizona Friends of Homeless network. His advocacy is full time – morning, noon and night, including the middle of the night at times. When he decided to tackle the task of expanding the meal service to 7 nights-a-week, I asked to participate. And decided to make it a “thing.” Because someone in marketing doesn’t know how to do anything without first figuring out how to brand it, even a soft brand. 

The #humanKINDness Project

#SandwichesInParks
BC Brown and fellow author C.A. Wilke helps people experiencing homelessness in downtown Phoenix, Arizona.
Do you know that most shelters, soup kitchens, and/or churches in the greater Phoenix metro area serve their final daily meal around 6-7 pm and don’t serve breakfast the following day until 8 am? That is the span of approximately 14 hours in which people experiencing homelessness in Phoenix must go without food.
The #humanKINDness Project is intended to provide a basic meal (soup and a sandwich), perhaps a warm blanket during the cold season, to those in need on the streets and in the parks of downtown Phoenix. However as I went out each week, the overwhelming cry for more items, such as hygiene, towels, and socks, became louder and louder. I put out the call and people responded with an abundance of compassion and supplies.
 
Coordinating donation efforts from local, statewide and even multi-state resources, The #humanKINDness Project has grown from providing a single cup of soup, a sandwich, and a blanket to providing a cup of soup with dipping bread; a full sack lunch with peanut butter and jelly sandwich, chips, a snack item, fruit, and a piece of candy; a beverage; and assorted hygiene and feminine hygiene products, as well as socks, shoes, clothing, and towels and washcloths (all as donated). If you are interested in donating, please visit our Amazon Wishlist. All items can be directly shipped to our initiative by choosing the preloaded shipping address.
 
But what’s more are the changes in the faces of the people we see every week. Some few of them eyed us warily when we first started. Now we’re on a first name basis with many, chatting weekly about their lives. Instead of woes and sadness, these people tell us of prospects and hopes; they smile instead of grimacing.
 
I know what I do weekly isn’t a solution to homelessness. I know it isn’t sustainable in the long term and it is only one small local effort to help. But in a world where people often get too wrapped up in the big picture, it’s enough for me to take a closer, hands-on approach to dealing with a topic that is important to me. 1) it makes me feel good, and 2) it helps my community.
 
Who knows? In time my efforts might be duplicated in other areas. Or maybe someone will come up with a better idea of helping. In the mean time, I’ll keep driving my truck around and handing out #humanKINDness among other necessities. To learn about our latest efforts, follow up with our latest post here.

To find out how you can volunteer to help people experiencing homelessness in your area, click here. 

BC Brown is the author of three novels and has participated in multiple short story anthologies. Having committed almost every ‘bad deed’ in the book

Close up of a redheaded woman smiling and wearing a yellow sweater and dangling gold earrings.of How To Be An Author, she now strives to educate others through humor and simple instruction, and uses her celebrity to advocate for others.

Coming Soon: Karaoke Jane

 
 

Author’s Book Marketing Guide: Month 3 Pre-Release

Let’s get ready to rumble!

Okay, we’ve covered what to do in months 6, 5, and 4 prior to book release. We’re halfway toward your release day. In this post you should start to see all the hard work you’ve put in so far pay off. This month, we’ll focus on: 

  • Website content creation
  • Blogging schedule
  • Utilizing social media for pre-launch excitement
  • Mailing out review copies

Content, baby!

All knowledge is worth having.” (Kushiel’s Dart, Jacqueline Carey)

Knowledge is one of the most valuable resources in today’s world. As a writer, that is especially applicable to you. Every time you write, you turn what you know into content for others to consume. A good writer knows how to go one step beyond their book however. But don’t worry about having to do a ton more work. You can take what you already know – how to write – and repurpose it into content. For example, I’m using my own marketing fumbles, bumbles, and jumbles to help you take an easier path while on the road to book marketing. In the end, it’s

Author Book Marketing Plan, Month 3 by BC Brown @BCBrownBooks - Photo Credit: Eric Rothermel. Source: Unsplash

a win-win for us both. You get the benefit of my knowledge, and I get you reading my blog and learning a little bit more about me and my writing.

 
I’m bloggin’ it! Your website and subsequent blog are amazing opportunities for you. Combined with social media, you get to share your expertise with the world. Using your website and blog to put out valuable content is important. It’s makes you more than just a spammy spammer shouting “Buy my book!” at everyone. Think of it like this, your book is like your business card to the world. It tells people you’re here and you write. Your website and blog are your pitch, which you should remember from Month 4 Pre-Release. The media pitch is your chance to sell not only the story but yourself as an expert as well.
 
Your website is also a great place to offer readers a “sneak peek” at your book. Offer them a free chapter to get them hooked on your story. I mean, a little honey goes a long way. You can include interviews, a Q&A session for readers, and audio and video chats. You can tie in current events with your books. For instance, if you write a paranormal series about witches based around Salem, Massachusetts, even if it’s fiction, you could write historical tidbits about the Salem Witch Trials, or expand out a series of articles for the week leading up to Halloween or El Die de Los Muerto (The Day of the Dead). 
 
Feel free to invite other experts on your website too. Cross promotion between writers or other artists can only improve your traffic and broaden your reader base.
 
Be a social butterfly. Social media is a great opportunity to grow your network into a global audience. The trick is having interesting content to add to social media, keeping it updated, and participation, participation, participation!
 
Many writers make the mistake of only adding their website or book content to social media. It’s a big neon sign of “Look at me; look at me!” And then they vanish until, lo and behold, the next “Look at me!” moment gets posted. Social media takes a little time and commitment, but it is well worth the effort. It’s true that every time you post any content on social media, you make it easier for search engines to find you. Which, as an author, is important. You want those clever little searchbots seeking you out. What you want to avoid however is them only finding the same, boring things over and over. 
 
I spend a great deal of time on social media, surfing and chatting, sharing and liking information out there. Yes, a lot of content I share is writing-related, since that topic happens to interest me. But I also make sure that for every article I share I am careful to be conversational on my social media channels. I include content that isn’t just writing or book related. Essentially, you need to be a person – multifaceted like the characters in your books.
 
I can’t stress how important it is to have a regular presence on social media. Don’t set up profiles on a dozen sites, slap up some introductory promotion, and then abandon the sites until your next blog article hits and you want the promotion. Do you have to be on there every minute of every day? Certainly not. Not if you plan on putting in your due diligence writing your next book and promoting your current and upcoming ones. Then, of course, there’s always that whole family and friends thing you should put a little time in on. Oh, and a job if you have one of those. Keep your presence on social media active and load it more heavily with you as a person than you as an author. Just don’t forget some of the author gig too.
 
It’s time to fish. Now that you’ve got your media pitch and reviewer letter all squared and polished, it’s time to cast them out there, baby. This can get overwhelming quickly, especially if organization isn’t your forte. I recommend keeping this to a manageable amount each week. I tend to go with 3 media pitches and 3 reviewer letters per week. That gives me a dozen by the end of the month. Fairly respectable. Some times reviewers and media people will have comments or suggestions for reaching out to them or how to better pitch. Take the advice and adjust as needed. Continue doing this routine each month right up launch day and even after. 
 
So basically, what we’ve established this month is you getting social media accounts squared away. Do your research and find out where not only authors are but where readers seem to be. Get those accounts set up right away. Remember to keep it small at first. You can build your social media network gradually as you get more comfortable.
 
We’ve also talked about getting content going for your website. I recommend writing and having a minimum of two months worth of valuable content ready for your blog in the pipe at all times. For me, I come up with a list of topics I want to cover and then take one afternoon to get them all written and ready to post. Keep in mind that the key to being valuable to your reader is keeping your content high quality, interesting, and consistent.
 
And, lastly, it’s time to send out your media pitches and reviewer letters in small batches. You have 3 months left until your book launches. That’s a comfortable amount of time to get booked on a few radio, TV, or podcast spots, still toss in a few newspaper interviews or spotlights in the local “hometown news” sections, and get a review or two back from established reviewers. 
 
If you’ve been tackling each month as I’ve written about it then you are well on your way to a bombastic book launch.
 
Photo: Author BC Brown
BC Brown is the author of three novels and has participated in multiple short story anthologies. Having committed almost every ‘bad deed’ in the book of ‘How to Be An Author’, she now strives to educate others through humor and simple instruction.



5 Easy Ways to Support an Author

You love to read? You have a favorite author you just can’t wait until they publish their next book? Show ’em some love.
5 Tips to Support Authors
5 Ways to Support an Author

  1. Write a review. This seems simple but the truth is few readers take the time to review a book once they have read it. Reviews don’t have to be difficult. Writing a simple line or two is easy: “I read a lot of…and I enjoyed this story. The story was exciting and kept me reading to the end.” Seems basic but will encourage your favorite author to keep writing. Not to mention, if on Amazon, will increase that author’s visibility to other readers, leading to more writing by your favorite author. Win-win!
  2. Tell your friends. Bookworms tend to know a lot of other readers. Tell your friends about your favorite author and their books. Nothing helps support your favorite author like readers buying their books. We are fond of eating. 
  3. Share with your friends. There is nothing like the gift of a book. Have you ever finished a book and thought “I wish there were someone I could talk to about this book!” There could be. Buy a copy for a friend you think would enjoy it. Even if you only decide to gift your copy of the book to a friend, it’s still beneficial. Your friend may fall in love with your favorite author and buy more of their books, write reviews, etc.
  4. Use the public library request system. All authors, no matter how popular, need exposure to readers. Nothing gets a writer more exposure than being available in public places where the demographic is perfect: all readers (well, mostly). Putting a Request to Stock into your local library may give your favorite author access to a town they haven’t yet been found by readers. (I should also point out that it isn’t misleading to put in a request to stock even if you own the book. Just remember to rent it at least once, maybe twice, to be fair to library resources.)
  5. Share your author on social media. Like the book? Tell the world! Literally. Social media connects many of us with hundreds of thousands, even the potential of millions, of people a day. When you have a favorite author, find them on social media; follow their sites; and share stuff you find interesting on their sites with your own friends. Two things happen by following an author’s social media a) you are telling your friends online how much you like an author and helping them reach new readers, and b) you’re front and center for sneak peeks, new contests and releases, and goodies your author is giving away. It’s win-win!
There are five easy tips to show your support for your favorite authors. How do you show your support? Are there more ways not listed?
 
@BCBrownBooksBC Brown is the author of three novels and has participated in multiple short story anthologies. Having committed almost every bad deed in the book of ‘How to Be An Author’, she now strives to educate others through humor and simple instruction.
Books: A Touch of Darkness ◘ A Touch of Madness ◘ Sister Light (out of print)
 

Coming soon: Karaoke Jane