Writers' Forum - February 2021





Who Should You Ask to Endorse Your Book?

Sandra Beckwith dives into the process of gaining “meaningful testimonials from people your ideal readers admire and respect.” This article really helps you build a list of the best endorsers for your book. Even if you think that some well-known people might not be interested in doing this favor, it never hurts to ask—you may get a YES!

The Great Ebook Pricing Question

David Gaughran’s discussion on setting your ebook price begins with an invaluable comparison of price and value . . . defining these as price = “something we, as self-publishers, attach to the product. While value = the worth consumer places on the product.” This article helps you sort through how to price your book based on your goals—whether you’re looking, for instance, to “maximize income” or “build a bigger audience.” Read through the end for his thoughts on whether lower ebook prices are “destroying the industry.” Great advice.

Building Your Writing Support Triangle

On Jane Friedman’s blog, Jessica Conoley talks about how important a support system is in the crazy world of publishing. She puts supporters into three key areas: Mentorship, Critique, and Accountability. She further breaks these groups down into levels, subgroups, or steps. This is helpful info for authors no matter how long they’ve been writing, but if you’ve got a solid support system, you will likely be able to immediately identify who fits into which slots for you (and possibly where you’re missing key support, too.) https://www.janefriedman.com/building-your-writing-support-triangle/


Sandra Beckwith is one of my go-to book marketing experts. The invaluable advice she provides via her Build Book Buzz website is often included here on the Writers’ Forum. The tagline of her website is “Do-it-yourself, book marketing tips, tools and tactics,” but she will also coach you one-on-one. I love her straightforward and easy-to-follow advice for selling more books. After all, like she says on her website, “Your books won’t sell themselves.” 

Her biography begins with the key reasons that I consider her an essential read for any author: "I teach authors how to reach more readers by creating training programs that take the mystery out of key book marketing tactics and by working one-on-one with them so they get over, under, or around book marketing and sales roadblocks or obstacles."

Read the rest of her biography here. (Along with many other wonderful professional accolades and experience, you’ll find she is a kindred spirit if you too like a tall skinny vanilla latte from Starbucks.) Also, I encourage you to subscribe directly to her newsletter. You can find the subscription form on this page: https://buildbookbuzz.com/about/


Fix Your Scene Shapes to Quickly Improve Your Manuscript

Lisa Cooper Ellison, writing for Jane Friedman’s blog, expands on the idea that stories can have shapes, by explain that there are recognizable scene shapes too; the pear, the funnel, the wind tunnel, the watermelon, and the kite. She identifies the problem within each of these and how you might go about fixing those to improve your story. If you’ve never heard of this before, it’s a fun way to examine your story structure.

Understanding Third-Person Point of View: Omniscient, Limited, and Deep

Tiffany Yates Martin, also on Jane Friedman’s blog, runs through the basics of each of the types of the third-person point of view. This is a great tutorial to remind us of the nuances of all three and what to pay attention to in order to write them well.

What’s the Difference Between a Viewpoint Character and a Protagonist?

Louise Harnby shows us how the protagonist is not always our viewpoint character. She explains that the “protagonist is the person whose experiences drive the story” but they we aren’t always seeing the scene through their eyes. “The point of view character is the person whose internal experiences drive a scene or chapter.” Smart article to read if you're thinking about writing a book where you view point character or characters are NOT the protagonist.


Working with a Literary Agent

Fellow author Kristin Oakley interviewed me recently about how I found (and why I wanted) my literary agent after initially publishing my books independently. Read the interview here: https://kristinoakley.net/working-with-a-literary-agent/

Independent Publishing Blueprint

My newest course, The Independent Publishing Blueprint, is now available for $99. This course begins with a comprehensive discussion of the pros and cons of independent (self) publishing, hybrid publishing, and traditional publishing. The rest of the course goes through a step-by-step approach or blueprint that will allow you to successfully publish your book independently. You’ll learn the lingo of the publishing world, business basics you need to consider, book readiness and formatting, categories and keywords, options for print, e-book, and audiobook – and as a bonus we'll discuss the elements of your online author image and a book marketing/launch campaign. The course includes a 60-minute instructional video, a Publishing Guidebook, and more.

Check out the full info here: https://valeriebiel.podia.com/independent-publishing-blueprint

Book Cover Bonanza: Three helpful articles and one video give must-needed tips on this important subject!

You book cover design is essential to enticing readers to your book and can really make or break your ability to sell copies. If your book is traditionally published, book cover design decisions will largely be out of your hands, but for indie published authors this is a key point on your journey to produce a professional looking book.

In How to Create a Best Selling Cover, Kelley Worsham gives some excellent tips as you begin to think about design. Clayton Noblit continues this discussion by warning of the 5 Most Common Mistakes in Book Cover Design—things like bad images, bad fonts, and even too many elements can sink your design. David Gaughran’s article How to Design a Book Cover That Sells is one of the most comprehensive discussion on book cover design with lots of resources to help you design your own book cover or where to hire professionals, along with anticipated costs.

And if you prefer to watch a video that gives you for options for book cover design, Amanda Zieba has this covered in her recent video:



How to Launch a Book Using BookBub

BookBub has six ways you can support your book launch using their platform. These work best if you’ve already established yourself as an author on BookBub and have built a following on that platform. But this brings up what a good idea it is to ask people to follow you there. It will help support future book marketing on that platform.

The Importance of Finding Your Marketing Sweet Spot

I love this article from Ricardo Fayet which makes the plethora of book marketing advice feel more manageable. He understands that if you try to implement too many book marketing ideas at once, none of it is going to work well because your efforts are too fractured to gain traction in any one place. Instead, he encourages you to focus on one or two things and spend a month learning about them and implementing them. Eventually, you will find what works for your book. What I know personally from helping other authors market their books is that the pathway to sales is different for everyone. What works for one author might not work well for another . . . so you definitely need to find your own sweet spot. Read the full article here:


Get Reader Reviews Now to Drive Sales Later

Mike O’Mary gives stellar advice on how to gain early reviews and once you’ve done that how it can help continue to drive sales. He describes Goodreads’ giveaways, blog tours, KDP Select giveaways (if you’re exclusive to Kindle with your ebook), and how to utilize book promotion newsletters.  He gives us a more in-depth look of the value of book promotion newsletters, including applying to be chosen for an elusive BookBub Featured Deal.

(The picture above is from the UntitledTown Book & Author Festival in Green Bay, Wisconsin where I did indeed speak for free. From left to right authors Kelly Risser, me, Angie Stanton, and Kat Olestro.) 

Five Reasons You Should Speak for Free

I remember being really unsure of what to charge or even if I should charge at all for speaking engagements when I was at the beginning of my book publishing journey. There were discussions at writing conferences where all of the new authors (me included) took detailed notes on what to charge and often the discussion became very adamant that you MUST charge a fee when you were asked to speak at an event. I have modified that over the years. If I have the chance to sell a significant number of books or there are other perks (like free tuition to a conference that I would have paid for anyway), I will speak without earning a fee or stipend. I also give deep discounts to speaking gigs that are within a short drive from my home. Sandra Beckwith’s article on this topic echoes many of these same approaches but she describes in more detail what you might gain in different scenarios from waiving your speaking fee. Read it all here: https://buildbookbuzz.com/5-reasons-you-should-speak-for-free/


50 Social Media Stats to Help You Choose the Right Platform for Your Business

Social Media Today gives us this fabulous infographic detailing the demographics of the users of each major social media platform—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, Tumblr and more. Where do your ideal readers hang out most?


Happy Writing (editing, marketing, and more!) - Valerie  

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