From the Archives: Creating a “So you’d like to…” Guide for your Self Published Book

Welcome back to our Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.

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[ Originally posted: September 1, 2008 ]

If you are promoting your self-published book, hopefully by now you have created a few “listmania” lists. If you were poking around your Amazon “Profile” page, you may have also seen the “So you’d like to….” guide section.

Writing a “So you’d like to…” guide is nearly as easy as creating a listmania list and will probably yield even better results, simply because the number of guides on Amazon is less than the number of lists. Why? Because guides are more work to create. But not for you! You’ve already written a book, and you can turn excerpts of your book into guides.

In fact, you can basically cut and paste a selected section from your published book and create a guide out of it. Just follow the steps on Amazon.com by clicking on the “Create a So you’d like to… guide” link in the “So You’d Like to” section of your profile page.

To get there, sign in to your Amazon.com account from http://amazon.com/connect then click on your personalized “Store” tab the top, and then click on “Your Profile” from tab menu.  If you have not set up an Amazon Connect account yet, you can read more about doing this here: Using Listmania to Promote your Self-Published Book

Again, like with the “listmania” lists, the real power of the guide is adding OTHER books that will spark people’s interest in reading your guide.

Good luck and have fun!

As we’ve mentioned in the intervening years since my first post, Listmania has … gone to list heaven. But it hasn’t left a giant gap in our normal ways and means of doing things, as by and large its primary functions were usurped by Goodreads’ superior tools.

And boy, do we love Goodreads. I mean, I. I love Goodreads. A lot.

So what if it’s been bought by Amazon? Goodreads has Listopia. Goodreads has “best of” lists. Goodreads has twenty different functions that I haven’t even begun to explore, but love the idea of. (Giveaways! Recommendations! Blogs! News & Interviews! It seems endless.) Just so long as Amazon resists the urge to do more than place banner ads on every page (which we’re more than used to with Facebook, anyway) I will love the gift that is Goodreads.

It’s not just good for readers (and it is good for readers). It’s good for authors, too. Reviews on Goodreads consistently show up in the first three or four items indexed in any given Google search for a book. They probably shook hands under the table somewhere, but it certainly benefits self-publishing authors.

Get yourself on Goodreads. Explore Listopia. Explore the relics of Amazon’s “So You Want To…” guides, but be aware: a lot has changed in the past eight or nine years, and a lot will continue to change as we adapt to an ever-changing digital future. The key is not to hold on tightly to any one tool or service (I know, I know, I need to lighten up on my love for Goodreads then!). The key is to be willing to pick up new ones when they become useful, and to let the old (and beloved) ones fade away into obscurity.

Sometimes, self-publishing is about saying good-bye.

RIP, Listmania.

rip listmania

Thanks for reading.  If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them.  Drop me a line in the comments section below and I’ll respond as quickly as I can.  ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

“The Blow-Up Man” : A Saturday Self-Published Book Review

Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.

When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review, courtesy of Read Rate Review:

the blow-up man by nina blakeman

The Blow-Up Man

by Nina Blakeman

Publisher: Outskirts Press

ISBN: 978-1478766629

Synopsis*:

The Blow-Up Man is a psychological thriller that takes place in a dispirited region of West Texas. It is where pests, weeds, predators, and strong winds make living in the region a burden to most. West Texas is not a place for the weak or a naive, young woman with a head full of fantasy. Abandoned homesteads along the barren countryside represent the many dreams that didn’t come true, but the nightmares that did. In the middle of the vast rural region is Ethanville, an agrarian town of 100,000. It is an unlikely place to find a university. A barbed wire fence is all that separates the institution of higher learning from the adjacent grazing land.

Inside the hallowed halls of Cullen State University is where Faye Brady falls in love. Thirty-year-old Faye has lived a sheltered life. With a deceased father, and an emotionally detached mother, Faye exists in a world derived from the imagination of the many authors she s read and falling in love means living happily ever after. Life without a father has left Faye with many unresolved issues. They’re major contributors to her falling long and hard for her older mentor, Dr. Todd Davis.

Dr. Todd Davis is a well-respected researcher in the area of pharmaceutical sciences, and it’s under his direction that Faye earns her PhD. He’s handsome, and his intellect, experience, and confidence are all powerful enticements that draw Faye into his world. Faye’s mother, Madeline Brady, is concerned about her daughter s relationship with Todd. Faye interprets her concerns as intrusive, but its Todd’s age and baggage that cause Madeline to worry.

Fourteen years ago, Todd had a relationship with a woman named Annette Dolce. Annette has father issues of her own. But unlike Faye, she s impulsive, manipulative, and dangerous. She s also the mother of Todd s twin girls. The girls are on the cusp of adolescence, and even though the twins are identical, their personalities have diverged in two separate directions. Emma is most like her mother, and in Annette’s eyes, Emma can do no wrong.

Ella is quiet, reserved, and serious. It is Ella who is often the target of her mother’s displaced anger. When things get overwhelming at home, Ella seeks refuge down the road at the home of Margaret Carson. More than once, the widowed neighbor proves herself to be Ella s champion against the vengeful mother. Todd doesn’t want to believe that Annette is all bad. To do that, he has to face that he gave his children that kind of mother. The righteous Todd will do whatever it takes for his children to believe in family; however, it s his loneliness that pushes him towards the younger Faye. He wants to build a life with her. When Todd informs Annette of his decision to marry Faye, the psychologically disturbed Annette is pushed to the edge. Faye is frightened of Annette and she should be. The world of books has left Faye totally unprepared to deal with Annette. Does Faye have what it takes to overcome the toxic mistakes of Todd s past, and the nightmare that is about to come true?”

Critique:

In the opening chapters of ‘The Blow-Up Man’ by Nina Blakeman, we meet Annette Dolce, the apparently wronged ex-lover of Todd, and her current man discussing the list of complaints she had against Todd, the father of her twin girls Ella and Emma. The reader hears from Annette of the things that have been done to her, sympathises with her, empathises with her hurt feelings – and then throughout the rest of the story learns how wrong they were!

Annette is a user; a manipulative, impulsive and psychologically disturbed woman who uses whatever it takes to have her own way – people, family, items – apparently at times not even sure she actually knows what she really wants. She is an abusive wife and partner, and a neglectful and abusive mother, particularly of one of the twins, Ella. Dr Todd Davis, a gentleman, respectful and respected is in a new relationship with a gentle, sheltered and consequently a naïve woman called Faye. When Todd announces to Annette that he is to marry Faye her jealousy knows no bounds, and fuelled by rage she sets out to exact her revenge on the people who have wronged her!

A compelling and deeply psychological read, demonstrating that women can be abusive too, and men are just as likely to be the abused. Cleverly, Nina Blakeman has caught us up at the beginning with Annette as the victim; however, as the story unravels we realise how deceptive people can be as the truth about the complicated relationships between the characters is revealed.

reviewed by Jo at Read Rate Review ]

Here’s what other reviewers are saying:

Annette Dolce feels betrayed by life and by the father of her two illegitimate children. She is the mother of twin girls, Ella and Emma – who couldn’t be more different from each other in personality. Emma takes after her mother; Ella, her father. The girls’ father, Dr. Todd Davis, Ph.D., is a professor at the local university. He has recently found success in his pharmacological research on a new drug for treating prostate cancer, and his love life when he falls in love with his student, and much younger woman, Dr. Faye Brady.

Annette and daughter, Emma, don’t accept Todd’s new liaison nor his subsequent marriage and make no secret of their displeasure. Ella is accepting but is the scapegoat for the unhappiness and frustration of her mother and sister. When the local lifestyle magazine publishes a big spread on the new super-couple, Dr. & Dr. Davis, and “their” daughters, Annette goes off the deep end and plans to get revenge for all her past perceived insults, injuries, and betrayals.

The Blow-Up Man by Nina Blakeman was a suspense-filled story of a madwoman scorned. Fast-paced with interesting characters in a rural West Texas location (which I loved!) The author’s descriptions of the various settings were vivid and creepy, yet familiar. (Like the author, I, too, am a Texan.) The plot incorporates intense scenes of torture and child abuse.

Good, strong secondary characters in Faye’s mother, Madeline; Annette’s live-in boyfriend, Angel; an obnoxious and privileged med student, Matthew Nolan; and the new priest in town, Father Sweeney all add depth and help to advance the story. Cool medical terminology lent a feeling of authenticity and genuineness but some of the details of the research were a little much for me on occasion.

I highly recommend this tense and highly readable novel for those that like their suspense “gritty.” I was pleased to see mentioned somewhere online that there is a sequel in the works. Yay!

– Goodreads Reviewer Karen Siddall

The Blow-Up Man by Nina Blakeman, shows a disdained woman fueled from her mad desires after an emotionally damaging marriage is tossed back into her lap after her former husband marries another woman and dumps there kids into her lap. The definition of a Woman Scorned is the premise for this quick pace west Texas account. Fully developed details with incredibly eerie depictions, draws the reader into the story line specifically. Caution however, this story tells of torture and abuse of children, so for the squeamish at heart you are for warned. If you want the tenacious suspense and the professionally cruel story telling, Nina Blakeman and The Blow-Up Man, delivers!

– Goodreads Reviewer Jay

* = courtesy of the book’s Goodreads book page.


saturday self-published book review

Thanks for reading!  Keep up with the latest in the world of indie and self-published books by watching this space every Saturday!

Self Publishing Advisor

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An Indie Author’s Social Media Primer | Summary Edition

Well, it’s been quite a project, this social media primer of ours!  I hope it’s proven as useful to you, our readers, as it has been enjoyable for me to write!  I thought I’d take a couple of minutes to take a lingering glance in the rear-view mirror, and write a bit of a retrospective on what it means to carry out a social media marketing campaign–and how a primer fits in.

We’re here,” I wrote in that initial blog post, first and foremost, to talk about how to market your self-published book.”  And therein lies both the value and danger of social media as a marketing tool.  If you really are using social media effectively, as a natural and organic extension of your existing work and personality, then you’ll most definitely benefit, and your book sales will most definitely benefit as well.  If you approach social media as an all-purpose tool and the only tool you need in your toolbox–or if you present yourself falsely, inauthentically, or otherwise find yourself at odds with your fans–or if you bite off more than you can chew–or if you find yourself slipping into social media as just another time-waster–then you’re missing the point of being an author on social media.  These are the pitfalls, or at least a few of them, and they should not be taken lightly or underestimated.

social media

Here’s the trick to being a self-published author on social media:  You must always remember that you are, first and foremost, a writer.  And as we’ve said before here on Self Publishing Advisor, the absolute best decision you can ever make in marketing your book is to write another book.  If social media helps you spread the word, and helps you keep writing, then it has a place in your campaign.  If it distracts you, or distresses you, or eats into time you would otherwise spend writing, then you should revisit the expression “effective marketing.”  There is, however, a great deal of value to trying something new, especially when you hit a roadblock.  It is my hope that, by providing a primer guide to each of the major (and some of the minor) social media platforms, I may take some of the guesswork and fear out of launching yourself into the world of social media.  Maybe, just maybe, you’ll be able to bypass some of the misery and second-guessing and mistakes that I myself have made over the years–and find a new home, a new community, and an engaged readership in some unexplored corner of our digital universe.

The List:

  1. First Thoughts
  2. Twitter
  3. Tumblr
  4. Instagram
  5. Snapchat
  6. YouTube
  7. Pinterest
  8. Goodreads
  9. Etsy
  10. LinkedIn
  11. Flickr
  12. Facebook

Thank you for helping me build this Social Media Primer!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings. ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

An Indie Author’s Social Media Primer | Goodreads

In contrast to last week’s post, which looked at a social media platform that is less-used (might I even say underused?) by indie and self-published authors, this week we’ll be examining the other end of the spectrum–at a platform that has been mined so often and so thoroughly for its marketing potential that setting up a profile has almost become a requirement.  I’m talking about Goodreads, if you haven’t already guessed, a website we’ve looked at before on Self Publishing Advisor.  Fortunately for us and for you, however, it’s a website that keeps evolving, and keeps generating new possibilities.  I can definitively say that most authors know some of the buzz about Goodreads, but very few know all of the ways in which this platform can be of use.

Goodreads

For those of you who are new to Goodreads (and don’t be ashamed if you are, despite what I just said about authors definitively knowing things–there’s always going to be some new corner of the Internet to explore!), what is this website?  In short, it’s a cross between Facebook and Amazon for readers and writers and those involved in the dissemination of books.  All users can create profiles, log the books they’ve read or are reading or want to read, rating them out of five stars and posting book reviews as they go.  You can find your friends by interlinking your Goodreads account with Facebook or Twitter or Amazon, or by using their email addresses.  (Goodreads was purchased after its stratospheric rise by Amazon, so a lot of its features (like reviews and “buy from these retailers” links) are already well-integrated into that other behemoth of the book industry.)

Authors get even a little more love, in that they can create specialized “Author Pages” that list their books (including pictures of their book covers), link to blog posts, and allow authors to create and manage book giveaways.  Goodreads is so passionate about making promotion easy for authors that it has even put together a comprehensive web page describing how to best use their features–you can find that here–and have left me almost nothing to add except a little style and flourish.

No, that’s a lie.  I still have a lot to say about Goodreads!

Debunking the Great Goodreads Myth: “If I have Facebook and Amazon, I don’t really need another spot to store all my book recommendations, do I?”

Oh, but there’s something so incredibly satisfying about falling into a community that shares your passion for literature, isn’t there?  Amazon was created to sell things, and its “social” structures were integrated into that website after they were proven to be marketable.  Facebook was created to be social, and its “profitable” structures were integrated into that website after they were proven to have social elements.  Goodreads, on the other hand, was designed around the reading experience, to aid and abet readers and writers in sharing their love of literature.  Both social and marketable elements shaped the platform’s earliest concepts, and so the fusion of these two aspects is 100% seamless.  To be sure, it won’t replace your Facebook or your Amazon account, but it occupies a third space–and an equally compelling one, in my opinion.  It fills a niche and fills it perfectly.

Top 5 Best Practices:

1. Set up an author page.  Do it.  There’s no excuse not to, not when the resources are literally right there at your fingertips, delivered on a platinum platter by Goodreads’ own staff.  And if you’ve already published books, don’t worry–you can “capture” existing books in the system and take ownership of them, even if one of your readers has beaten you to entering the vital statistics into the system.  And if you run into trouble, the Goodreads staff are always quick to respond to both emails and posts in their help forums.  There’s a seemingly endless list of possible situations that the staff will troubleshoot for you.  Remember all of my past references to “findability”?  Setting up a Goodreads author page and filling in as many of the empty fields as possible will, without fail, make you more findable.  Have you googled a book recently?  More than half of the top search results for the average book link back to Goodreads–reviews, book pages, author pages, and forum posts.

2. Be a reader–an active reader.  Quite apart to the other benefits of being an avid reader (which I’m sure you are, already!), being an active reader on Goodreads has some serious benefits for your self-promotion methods.  The more books you review–actually review, not just leave a three- or five-star rating–the more people will see your name and follow the name back to your author page, and land on your books.  Even established authors with big followings will benefit from reading and from using Goodreads as the tool it was designed to be–a platform for sharing one’s passion for the printed (or digitized) word.  Other readers pick up on passion, enthusiasm, and authenticity.  I have been followed by a whole host of strangers on Goodreads who see my reviews, and you can bet they form a perfect nucleus of potential new readers.

3. Encourage your readers and followers to write reviews.  Elsewhere, even offline or apart from Goodreads, reviews are a wonderful–or even necessary–component of a sound marketing strategy.  Whenever you click on a book page in Goodreads, you’re delivered a whole sheaf of reviews, and the ones with the most “likes” are prioritized by the website to be displayed at the top of the sheaf.  Other readers and respond to reviews by liking, or by replying with their own comments.  However you incentivize the posting of reviews on your own books (see my next point), make sure that you do incentivize it!  At the very least, encourage your readers to check out your Goodreads author page.  The more people who interact there, the more links and metadata that is generated, and the more “findable” you are through indexing search engines like Google and Bing!

4. Host a giveaway!  I’ll admit it, I’m a giveaway addict.  (And I know I’m not alone–FREE BOOKS?!?!  Who wouldn’t be?!)  Goodreads makes hosting a giveaway so incredibly easy.  I will sit there for hours perusing the list of upcoming giveaways, signing myself up and crossing my fingers that I win this or that one.  New readers will find you simply by virtue of the fact you’re holding a giveaway … and this is before you even let your existing fans and social media followers know that they can enter!  (And again, don’t be afraid of the Goodreads forums.  There’s a lot of excellent information to mine there.)  You can only host a giveaway if you’re a book’s author or a bookseller, and there’s a heavy emphasis on giving away new books, upcoming releases, and new editions of previously published books.  By limiting giveaways in this way, Goodreads has cultivated a certain level of respectability and credibility that you won’t find in a lot of other places.

5. Join a group.  Goodreads is built around networking, so make sure to take full advantage of all of the networking options on the website–whether that’s creating a book list through Listopia, or posting reviews of books you’re reading, or posting blogs to your author page, or joining a group.  The groups are where a lot of the fun happens, and you can find a group to fit even the most specific interest.  There are book groups based on genres, on careers (librarians and booksellers are well-represented, as you might expect), on where you live or used to live (the LA Transplants book club group looks quite interesting), what you do in your leisure time, and, of course, a whole bunch of groups that cater specifically to you, the indie or self-published author (including this one!).  If you haven’t already found “your people,” you might just find them in a Goodreads Group.  You’ll find encouragement, information, instruction, and feedback.  The key to a good group experience is, as with all things social media, living as authentically online as you do offline.

Most Overlooked Feature:

In my mind, this one comes down to two possibilities: Goodreads Events, and Listopia.  In some ways, I feel as though Listopia is on its way out while Events is still quietly going strong and perhaps growing in its possible offerings.  In essence, you can use Events to organize real-life or digital meetups, including book readings and sales or online promotions.  You get to invite both current Goodreads users as well as non-users (by sharing the link), and you can manage each event to meet your personal preferences for a “public” versus “private” or “restricted” guest list.  Yes, Facebook also provides options for event invitations and meetups, but they’re less specific to the book industry–and, simultaneously, less likely to be stumbled-upon by new readers.  In any case, you can’t hurt your chances by trying it out!

I hope you’ll join me in building this Social Media Primer!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of social media know-how. ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.