Thursday, January 28, 2016

What Authors Must Do On Branding, Platform Building & Marketing A Book

I often hear from authors that they don’t know where to start when it comes to branding, marketing, and promotions. We hear a lot about branding and building a platform. So what type of help might an author need in this area?

Certainly many authors could take advantage of establishing or improving their brand, including:

·         Unpublished writers seeking to land a book deal with the help of a bigger profile
·         Writers who want to seed growth for their books many months prior to a book’s launch
·         Authors looking to grow their brand and profile during their book launch and beyond

Authors may benefit from people who can supply these services:

·         Strategic Branding Advice:
o   Branding consultation and strategizing sessions with an expert
o   Having a pro review their book, background, and marketing materials to determine their brand
o   Having their key selling points identified
o   Getting a website audit by a pro who knows what to look for
o   Understanding how to leverage his or her network of contacts
o   Knowing how to secure blurbs and testimonials for their books
o   Brainstorm on marketing opportunities to pursue
o   Strategize on messaging and developing one’s brand
o   Create fliers and marketing materials/letters
o   Perform extensive/detailed research of specific markets
o   Help them leverage their network of  lists and assets
o   Help them conduct or circulate a Webinar
o   Help create content for seminar or events
o   Help them put together a promotional download or create a marketing video
o   Consult on the Development A Column, Radio Show, TV Show
o   Provide A Book Marketing Audit – or a SWOT
o   Competitive marketing analysis – show them what others in their genre/field are doing
o   Bestseller consultation
o   Manage an advertising campaign – advise on where to spend money, content of ads

·         Establish accounts and create user profiles with key social media outlets:
o   Twitter, You Tube, Linked In, Instagram, Google +, Pinterest

·         Social Media Activity:
o   Have content crafted for the author to share via social media
o   Brainstorm or develop content for an author’s blog or podcast
o   Interact online as a surrogate for the author, including sharing and posting content through social media platforms on behalf of the author
o   Increase the frequency and quality of social media engagement of an author
o   Greatly increase the number of connections/friends/followers on each social media platform

·         Speaking:
o   Identify organizations to solicit engagement opportunities
o   Research the right contacts and developing outreach lists
o   Put together a speaker’s sheet/marketing kit
o   Help the author identify which topics he or she can speak on
o   Reach out and follow up with groups for paid/unpaid speaking appearances
o   Seek out a speaker’s bureau on their behalf

·         News Media/Publicity:
o   Develop your media profile by pitching you as an expert to targeted media, including select local or national radio, television, newspapers, magazines, newswires, industry publications and niche media outlets

When it comes to marketing a book, authors might need these services:

  • Craft a letter - -and gather a list of independent and chain bookstores – and contact them about an author’s book.
  • Arrange for book signings

  • Craft a letter - -and gather a list of public libraries and/or specialty or school libraries – and solicit them about an author’s book/
  • Arrange for book talks – possible book sales

  • Craft a list, gather a letter, and contract thousands of national, regional, and local associations, both professional and non-profit ones.
  • Seek out speaking appearances, bulk sales, opportunities to post on their site/blog/newsletter, or explore some way of collaborating with them

  • Compile a list of non-profits – then write a letter -- and connect with them via call, email or mail regarding an author’s book and seek out speaking appearances, bulk sales, opportunities to post on their site/blog/newsletter, or explore some way of collaborating with them

Facebook Groups
  • Identify groups you should join
  • Connect with these groups on your behalf

Book Awards
  • Identify awards for authors to apply to, providing application/rules/fees
  • Help authors apply for these awards

Conferences/Seminars/Book Fairs
  • Identify the conferences/seminars authors should consider attending or displaying at

  • Identify when publications or digital resources authors should read to inform them on book marketing strategies/resources.
  • Identify sources for authors to read for their industry

Book Trailers
Create/distribute them for authors.

Create one for the author.

Book Freebies
  • There are many sites and outlets like Amazon that offer the posting of books for free – you could benefit from having a list of these giveaway sites. Consider posting on an author’s book or backlist title on the giveaway sites to help build a brand

Book Clubs
Work with MJ Rose Author Buzz or Penny Sensiverri – or develop your own lists.

Direct Sales
Depending on the book’s subject matter and the author’s credentials, authors need to develop lists of each of the following – either nationally, regionally or locally – and to contact them regarding the purchase of their book, pursue the consideration of a speaking appearance, or secure an opportunity for writing a piece for their web site/newsletter/blog

  • Government Agencies
  • Chambers of Commerce
  • Retirement Communities
  • Nursing Homes
  • Universities
  • Public Schools
  • Hospitals
  • Rehab Centers
  • Churches and Temples
  • Certain kinds of stores, such as Gift Shops, Clothing Stores, Italian Restaurants
  • Realtors
  • Senior Centers
  • Day Camps
  • Summer Camps
  • Day Care Centers
  • Corporations of a certain industry, size, location
  • Women’s Groups
  • Political Organizations
  • Museums and Cultural Centers
  • Professional/Organizations
  • Military Bases/Veterans groups
  • Sports Leagues and Teams
  • Travel related entities
  • Health Organizations
  • Labor Unions
  • Schools
  • Special Markets such as Airports
  • Overseas markets: Canada, UK, global

Think about what you can do vs. what a professional would do for you. Determine which areas are most important to you and which ones you need the most help in. Then seek out a professional who can guide you and work closely with you in a collaborative manner.

2016 Book Marketing & Book Publicity Toolkit

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Interview With 16-Year-old YA Novelist Claire Fraise

1.      What challenges did you overcome to write and publish your YA novel, Imperfect? I think the biggest challenge for me was learning how to translate the clear vision of the world in my head into words that did it justice. Imperfect is set in a morose, futuristic world where the United States has been taken over my large corporations. The people live in a highly stratified social hierarchy and have little to no contact to the people outside their region. Think North Korea run by Monsanto. I spent hundreds of hours imagining all the little nuances of this world and the characters living in it but had trouble initially expressing those details in compelling text. When was there too much detail? When was there not enough? I got the feel of it eventually but it took me a while. I ended up rewriting the whole thing five times.

2.      What trends do you see in your genre? The word dystopia has recently become a dirty word in the YA sphere. Why? Because most YA books are formulaic. They tell the same stories. Writing a dystopian novel has become like a mix-and-match game. Yes, I definitely need to have a totalitarian government. Love triangle? Gimme! Ooh, mysterious, womanizing, sexy bad-boy who falls madly in love with the protagonist? Must. Have. It often feels like the genre contains one core story that is told hundreds of different ways through hundreds of different filters. Its infuriating. I love dystopian stories (obviously) and, to me, there is nothing more exciting than reading a fresh take on the futuristic-adventure concept. So, lets go writers. Lets leave the cliches to rot and come up with something awesome. The readers are ready.

3.      If you had to write your book all over again, what would you do differently? Lots of things! My brain is hard-wired to come up with story ideas (it doesnt do anything else!). As soon as I submitted my final manuscript, I was chomping at the bit to incorporate new elements and change dialogue. Specifically, I had these two scenes: one between Summer (my protagonist) and Aaron (the leader of Troop 5, the rebel group); the other between Summer and Ian Cooper, (the son of Making Perfects CEO) that I never added that I wished I had. It wouldve been great to have readers really get to know Aaron and his relationship with the people of Troop 5 before the end of the book.

4.      Who are your favorite authors? Why? I have so manyway too many to namebut the ones that are coming to mind right now are E. Lockhart, Shakespeare, J.K. Rowling, Cassandra Clare, and Leo Tolstoy. Heres why:

I love E. Lockhart because We Were Liars was the most stunning, clever, and beautifully woven YA book Ive ever read. Shakespeare because he is (duh!) the master of the English language and crafts the most beautiful sentences and plotshe made me fall in love with the power of the written word. J.K. Rowling because, growing up, Harry Potter taught me more about family, being true to yourself, and being a good person than any other book. Cassandra Clare because Ive never cried as hard as I did finishing Clockwork Princess. Seriously. I would give anything to write that powerfully. And Leo Tolstoy because of the beautiful descriptions he uses to transport his readers into his workreading Anna Karenina is like entering a time capsule.

5.  How can we get more people to read books more often? Write awesome stories that catch peoples imaginations. Reading is a magical experience and one that cant be recreated through any other medium. You cant get the same rush watching TV as you can finishing the final chapter of a book that youd been reading for the previous six hours straight. Books are so accessible that the only impediment to reading is the attention-deficit electronic-driven culture we live in where we no longer take the time to plunge into a story. The desire to read has to come from within us. It cant be forced upon anybody.

6.      What has been the best moment in your publishing journey? Getting my first proof in the mail. Holding it in my hands. Seeing the story in print. I was in aweall of the years of daydreaming, planning and writing had finally come together into something tangible. It had a glossy cover! I couldnt believe it. I danced around my living room in pure joy, gave my family members massive hugs, and sat down to read the whole thing through to check for typos. That was my biggest high.

7.    What advice for have for a struggling author trying to get published? Write a good story. Write a story that you love and that you would want to read. If you have your heart set on traditional publishing, send out some queries, attend writers conferences, and stick with it until you get responses. If you prefer the control and higher royalties that come from self-publishing, do that instead. At the end of the day, your choice of publishing method isnt what matters. Your story does. If you have a story that you adore, have poured your heart and soul into, and are willing to do the work for, everything else will fall into place.

Claire Fraise is the author of Imperfect (CreateSpace). She is a client of Media Connect. For more information about the author, please consult  You can follow the author at or

2016 Book Marketing & Book Publicity Toolkit

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Future Of Books?

I recently watched the Back to the Future trilogy with my 8- and 11-year old.  They loved watching Doc and Michael J. Fox go from 1985 to 1955 to 1885 and back.  Watching the movies reminded me how even the immediate past seems worlds apart from today’s world - and how our future will unpredictably but significantly be so different from today.  It’s a mistake to think we’ll have more of the same -- only better, faster, cheaper.  No, the future will be something completely different from today – even the constant of human activity could be altered. What will books 50 years from now be like?

I assume – and hope – books will be around in 2066. Perhaps there’ll be other ways to “read” a book other than print, digital, and audio.  Maybe our bodies will be altered so they become enhanced in a way that allows them to download or consume information in a way that’s very different than today.  In fact, if we alter people’s abilities to read faster, for longer, and to retain more information, we would see a huge change in the book industry.

Another change that I hope comes about is that literacy rates rise significantly.  Roughly 1 in 9 global citizens – some 800 million people are illiterate.  If we can cut that number down significantly, we’d have not only more readers and book consumers and writers – but more people participating in society rather than burdening it.

Books will move towards being multimedia sources of content and perhaps even multi-dimensional. Perhaps everyone will have a virtual reality system that allows them to visualize or live in the worlds created by the fiction they read. 

Books will certainly cover different topics than what’s covered today.  As science, politics, and religion evolve, so will what’s written about or by those involved in significant sectors.  With new technological advances, medical breakthroughs, and scientific discoveries, non-fiction and novels will retire some subjects while opening up doors to entirely new ones.

Things like driverless cars, as they become the norm and get adopted by the masses, could allow more people time to read books, which is always a good thing.

If the world can figure out a better economic system, more people will have the financial ability to buy more books.  Right now the 62 wealthiest people in the world are worth as much as half the world’s population – 3.6 billion people. Socialism, capitalism, communism.  Say what you want about them but a system that relegates so many to have so little doesn’t sound fair nor helpful.

If a world can figure out how not to kill people, from war and crime to suicide or manmade diseases, we’d have more people around to buy more books.

Perhaps the planet will contract – mass disease, war, or financial collapse could cause the world to go backwards.  Terrorism and other factors could play a role in the world becoming one that doesn’t value or support books.

One thing is for sure.  The future will be radically different from today just as today is quite different from life centuries ago.  We’d like to think books will remain a constant no matter what else happens to the world, but we really don’t know with any certainty as to what 2066 and beyond will bring us.

2016 Book Marketing & Book Publicity Toolkit

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016

Monday, January 25, 2016

Book Publishing Ethics: Do They Exist?

The world struggles to figure out what kind of moral code it should live by so it’s no surprise to see that the book industry lacks any kind of official ethical standard.  What should it consist of, who should follow it, and what body of power shall promote and enforce it?

I am not aware of a book publishing ethical code, but I do know that bits and pieces of the book industry reportedly adhere to certain standards.  For instance, there are ethical codes of conduct for the public relations industry, so in some way, those who practice the art of book publicity should consider learning and following the ethics of the PR industry. 

The same may be true when it comes to say contract law. The legal profession has ethical codes so an entertainment or intellectual property lawyer or even a publisher’s corporate lawyer, should at the very least, adhere to the standards of one’s profession.

But are there clearly adopted and universal codes for booksellers, book printers, writers, editors, distributors, libraries, and all those who contribute to the book industry ecosystem?  And even where some kind of professional standard may exist for accountants, lawyers, and others, how do we reinterpret expected behaviors for publishing industry situations that are truly unique to it?

What are some situations that have – or could – come up that impact the book publishing industry,  consumers, the media and those that interact with it?  Here are some:

·         What should or shouldn’t be published? Why? Who decides?
·         Who is obligated to write about underserved topics?
·         What standards of research should an author follow?
·         What burdens do publishers have to verify a writer’s book?
·         Are there limits/guidelines as to what stores should charge for a book?
·         Is a store obligated to sell all books?
·         Should books carry advertisements?
·         Must books disclose that some or all content was paid for?
·         Does a company have an obligation to publish a book it purchased the rights to?
·         Should publishers publish only one side to a story?
·         Should outdated books still be made available for sale?
·         Should old books get a PC scrubbing?
·         How can we recruit and promote more ethnic talent within the industry?

Some issues have to do with legal questions, but others may come down to fairness and economics, including what one’s compensation should be, from author to publishing executive.  Other issues may not seem like issues because no one’s complained or thought about them, but nevertheless should be explored.

Many ethical issues for the industry relate to money, access to information, and rights violations.  But plenty may extend to social, political, or religious conflicts as well.

Whatever ethical issues that may or could exist, the question remains:  How do we begin to identify and address them – and then encourage the promotion of such standards within the book publishing industry?  

No one is really policing any of this, but random spotlights by major or even social media will sometimes fall upon specific incidents, such as when an author’s credentials, plagiarism, or content veracity are called out.  But on a regular basis, you won’t find Publishers Weekly, Book Expo, Writers Digest, Authors Guild, ASJA, Library of Congress, IBPA, BISG, ABA, NYPL, AAP, or any other significant institution in the book industry discussing book publishing ethics in any kind of comprehensive, updated, relevant, and transparent way.

In fact, many groups, media outlets, and non-profits would rather shy away from ethical shortcomings in their field of specialty or the book publishing industry as a whole.  No one wants to air dirty laundry and too many have too much to lose to question things out loud.  That said, some will speak up about isolated issues of importance, but no one is tackling all of the issues confronting all of the industry.

That needs to change.

Maybe the first steps to addressing this are as follows:

1.  We need to catalog all of the major ethical issues that currently afflict the industry from all sectors, including publishers, consumers, authors, unpublished writers, publicists, lawyers, marketers, librarians, editors, printers, and all that play a role in books.

2.  We need to bring together those in the industry to examine these issues and to begin to make solutions or come to terms with recommended guidelines of behavior.

3.  We need everyone in the industry to begin to follow the ethical standards of the book industry, not just those of their specific profession.

4.  We should repeatedly review, update, evaluate, alter, add, or delete portions of such standards on an annual or regular basis.

5.  We need an enforcing body that can educate others and to be available to mediate conflict resolution on such matters if necessary.

Everyone in book publishing goes about doing their job or serving their function, looking to do it as best as possible.  What do we use as our guiding standard – is it the law, money, fear, or some other thing?  Or do some of us not give any consideration to any standards of any kind?

Most major industries have some kind of public code of conduct, ethics, and moral standards.  Until book publishing adopts one that covers everyone and all situations, we all act with the risk of doing blatantly bad things or ignoring the obligation to do really good things.  The industry, by virtue of publishing books, does a lot of great things for society, but it needs to be held accountable for what it does, doesn’t do, and how it does what it does.

Need a starting place?  Try this as an example:

this group needs ethical standards that pertains to interactions with literary agents, publicists, publishers, media, consumers, fellow authors, etc.

Issues may include:
·         Plagiarism
·         Source acknowledgement
·         Admitting to errors in content
·         Knowingly omitting relevant information from a book
·         Paying sources and not saying so
·         Protecting one’s confidentiality
      Not bribing reviewers
·         Showing up for scheduled presentations and media appearances
·         Dispensing advice or views with care
·         Treating others with respect, honesty, and dignity
·         Disclosing conflicts of interest

Obviously book publishing ethics must take a lot of things into consideration, including:

·         Rights
·         Responsibilities
·         Obligations
·         The needs of others
·         The role we each play in the bigger publishing industry
·         The role the book publishing industry plays in the world

The book publishing industry should consider:
·         How it splits the pot of money that comes in
·         How it services the poor, the minority community, and those with otherwise have little say in the world
·         How its books impact society
·         How what it doesn’t publish, on purpose or by unawareness, impacts society
·         Methods used to recruit, train, and reward its employees
·         How it should help with literacy and education
·         How books influence the conversations society has about politics, wealth, health, and all significant areas of life
·         What it’s doing to improve the quality of books
·         What it’s doing to publish a diverse group of books, and how well it also balances a need for profit with an obligation to serve the needs and desires of readers.

As I mentioned earlier, no industry group or publication lays out a detailed ethics code or set of moral standards for the entire book industry, but some have developed short or condensed ethics codes for a narrow slice of the book world.  For instance, Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) issued this pledge:

1.      “To uphold the highest standards of our industry, to create works of lasting financial and/or cultural value, and to pursue editorial design, and production excellence.

2.      To respect the rights of authors and other creators and stakeholders, to observe all copyright laws and conventions, and to never knowingly publish plagiarized work.

3.      To reward authors and contributors for their work, to be honest in our financial dealings, to write contracts in understandable language, to resolve all disputes promptly and fairly, and to foster equal opportunity in our workplaces.

4.      To not mislead readers or buyers with false promises, inflated sales data, or manipulated reviews.
5.      To recycle and reuse and to follow green practices.”

Such pledges are better than nothing but they fall short of what is needed here. In a general sense, we want to call upon people treating each other with courtesy, respect, dignity, and honesty.  We expect people to conduct business on the highest professional level.  We want people to be insulated against fraud, unfair practices, or discreditable actions.  We expect people not to engage in any action or practice that takes advantage of or exploits the lack of information, expertise, or power of anyone.  We don’t want anyone to unfairly limit or restrain access of the marketplace.

But how is all of that specifically applied to across-the-board situations that the book industry will inevitably confront?

Ethics are what we say they should be – and what we do to honor them.  What should be the ethics of the book publishing industry?

2016 Book Marketing & Book Publicity Toolkit

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016