The Author’s Guide to Book Contests

Haven’t you always wanted one of those coveted stickers to put on your book’s cover? A sticker that distinguishes it from the rest of the readers’ choices.  A sticker that may even draw the respected eye of a certain former TV host with the book club we all know and see featured in book stores around the world.  It could happen!
We’re not saying it will happen tomorrow or next week, but if you start small and take the time to promote your book through smaller channels, the prized “O” could be within your reach one day.
Book contests give your book some exposure. And while reviews and social media pages work similarly, exposure from a larger group is always a plus. Awards also provide added credibility.  How many times have you seen or heard of a book being purchased only by virtue of the fact it has won a major award?  As a former bookseller I can honestly say it happens a lot.
There are a wide variety of contests out there and not all of them may be a perfect fit for you, so definitely do some research before you commit to a contest.  Make sure they include your genre as a category, check out the entry fee, how the judging works, and their general criteria for entry.   We’ve complied a starter list of book award contests that we have suggested to authors in the past and have posted it below for the benefit of the literary-inclined.  Best of luck and may the “O” be ever in your favor.

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Notice Me! – The Author’s Guide to a Happy Fan Base

authorIt is a truth universally acknowledged that everyone loves recognition.  You can’t deny it, it’s pretty great when you read that first positive, glowing review of your work. Sometimes it’s even better when a fan comments on how much they loved your work publicly, whether it’s on a blog or Facebook post.
So it’s only natural that said fan would be just as eager to get a response to their excitement. Thus begins our foray into maintaining a happy fan base. 
Don’t Upset or Embarrass Your Readers for Having an Opinion
When posts like this exist on a book blogger’s site – any book blogger mind you, I’m not just calling out Cuddlebuggery – it’s a little disheartening to imagine that an author would ever harass a reader after asking for an honest review.  So first and foremost, don’t harass your readers. It does not look good for you and could very easily affect the way other potential readers see you and your work.
Do Add Fun and Interactive Content to Your Pages
Readers love to see that you’re genuinely passionate about your writing and outside interests so if you love hiking and the outdoors, don’t be afraid to post pictures of yourself on a hike or some images from your favorite place to write/think. If you’re a foodie and love trying new places to eat, post about it! Check in through your author page to great restaurants or give a nice review of your favorite order and post a picture.  You could ask if anyone knows a similar recipe or if they’ve ever been there.
Fans can communicate directly with you and they love being able to interact with someone who they feel has a genuine interest in their thoughts and ideas outside of how it pertains to your book.  This allows your readers to connect with you on a personal level and could very well generate more talk about your books, recommendations, and general internet chatter.
For more ideas about interactive content, visit:
A Prime Example
J.K. Rowling is quite possibly the queen of positive fan interactions.  She Tweets back to her fans, directly replies to their comments, and makes constant references/posts about the books that we all know and love – their world, characters, where are they now, etc.  Her most notable reference to the acclaimed Harry Potter series came on the night of the series’ final movie premiere when she uttered the now famous “Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.” This quote is talked about, reposted, referenced, and/or known by millions of fans all around the world.  Why? Because they love her. They love this author who has always interacted with the fans, understood them, and connected with them through mutual experiences and interests.
So in conclusion, don’t be a Debbie Downer, be a J.K. Rowling!
 J.K. Rowling

5 Powerful Tips to Increase Book Sales That Work


ebookE-books aren’t difficult to write, but it can be a challenge to sell them unless you’re a well-known author. The good news? E-books are the fastest growing segment in the publishing industry, so becoming a successful e-book writer isn’t just a pipe dream. There are low-cost ways to get the word out about your book and establish your credibility as an author. Here are five selling tips that work!
1. Offer a Free Chapter
People hesitate to buy when they’re not sure about the quality of your writing or the information you offer, especially if you’re a new author. One way to motivate them is to offer a free chapter of your e-book, available for instant download right from your website. Even better, give away a free chapter in exchange for an email address. You can use their email address to send information about future e-books you’re authoring. Giving away a free chapter is a good way to get your prospective reader hooked on what you have to offer.
2. Get Your Book Reviewed
If you’re listing your book on sites like Amazon, it’s important to have good reviews. Since customers can’t flip through the book, they often base their purchasing decisions on book reviews posted on the site. Reviews are especially important if you’re a new author. To get your book reviewed, visit websites relevant to your topic and offer a free copy of your book in exchange for a review.
Another way to get your book reviewed is to email book reviewers and/or bloggers and ask them to read it. If they like it, they’ll mention it on their blog where it could reach thousands of eyes. Not only do you get a review, you get free publicity. Not every blog will review your book, but be persistent. Some will.
3. Harness the Power of Free Publicity
Free publicity is one of the most effective ways to boost your book sales. Publicity gives you credibility as an author and creates interest in your publication. Write a press release for your book, and send it to press release distribution services that will submit it to major search engines.  Note that while most press releases sites offer paid services, free ones are also usually available. Paid press release services can cost several hundred dollars, but they’ll submit your press release to big name players like CNN and Yahoo!. Choose a reputable company such as eReleases. Lesser known press release services are perceived as spam.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Give Away Free Copies
Offer a copy of your e-book to people who have a large following on social media sites. If they enjoy your book, encourage them to share it with their friends and followers. This is a quick and easy way to make your book go viral. Don’t forget to set up Facebook and Twitter pages of your own to promote your book and yourself as an author.
5. Submit Articles to Relevant Media Outlets to Market Your Book
Do a search for popular magazines, blogs, or websites that are relevant to the topic of your book. Offer to submit a free article or guest post in exchange for a byline and a link to your book. Media outlets are always looking for quality content, and writing an article can be a great way to promote your book (either in the article or in your bio), so it’s a mutually beneficial relationship.
The Bottom Line: There are lots of books out there, and how you market can make or break your book’s success. Give these five selling tips a try, and get rewarded for all of your hard work.

Marketing Your New Book Online: 3 Things You Need to Know

open bookCompleting a manuscript is a huge accomplishment. Publishing your story is even more incredible. Whether this is your first book or your fiftieth, chances are that understand exactly how vital marketing is to a book’s success. Many publishers will assist you in your marketing endeavors; however, a book’s marketing plan ultimately rests in the hands of the author.
Marketing is one of the most important factors in a successful book launch. Before your book even hits store shelves, there are a few things you need to know about marketing your book on the Internet.
Marketing takes time
Many new authors make the mistake of thinking that they can post a Facebook message about their book and become an instant bestselling author. If this were the case, every author would be a millionaire. Unfortunately, marketing takes time. Quality marketing takes even more time. When you decide to publish a book, start promoting it long before the book is even complete. Share your book cover or synopsis with your friends and relatives. Post your cover blurb on book message boards. Contact bloggers to talk about your book’s upcoming launch. There are many ways that you can start getting the word out about your book and none of them are quick. When you decide to publish your manuscript, make sure that you understand that marketing is a lengthy endeavor, but one that’s well worth the effort.
Loyal fans make all the difference
When you start to gain fans, you’ll find that their support makes a huge difference in your sales. Fans who add you on Facebook, tweet messages at you, talk about your books and leave reviews on retail websites all contribute to an author’s success. Make sure that you take the time to publicly thank your readers. Consider leaving grateful Facebook messages when someone contacts you through your social media sites. You could also share positive book reviews with your readers. If you have a mailing list, sending a free sample chapter or even a free book offers a great way to thank your readers for their support.
Don’t be stingy
One of the biggest mistakes that many authors make is thinking that all marketing should be free. While there are plenty of ways you can market your book inexpensively, understand that sometimes, you’ll have to spend money to promote your novel. One simple way that you can market your book online is to host a giveaway. This could be a giveaway of your book or it could be something else entirely. Many authors host a gift certificate giveaway in order to gain new Twitter followers or Facebook fans. Others host a book giveaway to spread the word about a specific story. While these giveaways can be a wonderful way to get your name out there, understand that you’ll be the one responsible for supplying the prize. In your marketing efforts, you should plan to give away a lot of free copies of your book, in giveaways and to book reviewers.
No matter how much time you have to market your book, make sure that you treat marketing as an important part of launching your book. If you understand the value of solid marketing, you’ll be more likely to have a wonderful book launch with the success you’ve been working for. If you don’t have the time to market your book yourself, you can hire a professional to handle all of the book promotion and marketing for you.

The Secret to Success With a Self-Published Book on Amazon: You Need Reviews

Listing Books for FreeGetting a book on Amazon isn’t difficult anymore. If you can’t find a publisher for your book today, you can easily self-publish for very little money and put it up on Amazon. While it’s very easy to bring a book to market today, it’s more difficult than ever to get in front of readers. Bowker is the exclusive issuer of ISBN book identification numbers in the US.  The company’s figures reveal that authors publish thousands of new titles every single day in the US. As a writer with a self-published book out on Amazon, how are you supposed to stand out in a crowd this size? The idea should be to get as many Amazon reviews as possible on your product page. But how do you do this when you are a new author?
When you are an unknown, only existing readers who write honest and convincing reviews can get you new readers. There’s no other way that potential readers can know what you’re like. The Amazon Algorithm pays attention to positive user reviews. The more reviews you have, the higher up in Amazon’s search results you go.
How do you get book reviews? A variety of reviewers exist:
Media Outlets: There are book reviewers at every major media outlet… The Los Angeles Times, Denver Post, BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, etc. They all have writers on staff that cover books. If you hire a PR firm to promote your book they will reach out to media contacts nationwide that cover books or your specific genre to see if they would be interested in reviewing your book. Book reviews in newspapers, magazines, or online are a great way to get the word out about your book. And most media contacts will be willing to publish a review for your book on Amazon as well, just make sure your publicist asks.
Amazon Top Reviewers: Thousands of customers on Amazon are very dedicated to writing good, honest reviews. It’s their way of giving something back to the world and earning the respect of the community. Many of them write 3 or 4 full reviews each day on every manner of product, books included. While it can be hard to get the attention of these reviewers, you may succeed if you are persistent.
To find these reviewers, you should head to This page offers a full listing of all the top Amazon reviewers. Once you find a reviewer who reviews books in your genre, you should click on their nickname to view their Amazon profile. They usually have contact information displayed. If you can’t find any address, you should try looking them up on Facebook or Google+. When you establish contact, you can ask them if they might be willing to review your book if you send them a copy.
Reader reviewers on Amazon: Amazon has many dedicated reader reviewers. Unlike the Top Reviewers reader reviewers only review books. Often, they stick to the genres that they know. They tend to write thoughtful, well-researched reviews that reach many potential buyers. GoodReads is another book website that has such dedicated reader reviewers.
Regular book buyers: Regular readers don’t tend to write many reviews. Usually, only 1% ever end up writing a proper one. If you make a point to include a heartfelt request for a review at the end of your book, you will usually get a few people to respond. They are not all likely to be five-star reviews, though. Getting plenty of honest reviews, though, can win people’s respect. The very fact that many readers would bother to review your book makes you look worthwhile.
Each time a reader writes a review, you should reply to it by clicking on the Add a comment button. You should thank them for their review and perhaps try to discuss something they’ve said. Reader engagement is a valuable public relations tool in the book business. It can attract many new reviews.
Book blogs: Many people who are passionate about books run blogs about the genres that they like. They tend to have thousands of fans who turn to them for advice. You should search on Google for bloggers in your genre and then write to them, asking them to review your book.
Many of these bloggers write reviews on their own blogs and then posts extracts from their reviews on Amazon. If you’re interested in filling your Amazon product page with such good reviews, you need to find bloggers who write on Amazon in this way.
Bloggers tend to be busy people. Usually, the best way to get a blogger’s attention is to write a personalized pitch. You need to go to the blog, learn the blogger’s name, read some of the reviews, gather information and use it all to tell them why exactly you feel they would be just right for your book. You need to look like you’ve done your homework.   
Amazon gives you a great deal of power
It can take time to build a following on Amazon. The retailing giant, though, gives you powerful tools. When you decide to learn to use them and stay the course, success as an author turns out to not be as hard to come by as it first appears.

Writing the Perfect Blurb for Your Novel

WritingWe don’t know who first said that you should never judge a book by its cover, but its safe to say that they were not in the bookselling business. A great cover is key to a successful novel, and getting the cover copy right is a vital part of this.
Cover copy, commonly known as the blurb, is the text on the back of your book. It is your “elevator pitch” to the reader, your twenty-second window grab their attention and convince them that they need to read your book. So how do you hook them?
Ideally you might want to start with a logline, a single sentence that sums up the entire novel. This might be an actual synopsis like:
She said she wouldn’t date him if he was the last man on earth…and now he is!
Another great option is to use a line from the book itself, assuming that you have one really succinct line that sums up the whole novel.
This logline is just a way to grab attention so that they will go on to read the rest of your cover copy. The ideal blurb is around 200 words broken up into three or four paragraphs, giving your reader a strong flavor of the book but leaving them curious to find out what’s inside. What to include is entirely up to you but remember you’ll need to convey the following:
Even if you think your genre is obvious from the cover design, don’t be afraid to explicitly state it in your cover copy. Also, try to write your copy in the same genre as your novel: for a thriller, use taut language focusing on action; for romance, use evocative language and focus on relationships.
The particular tone you use in the novel can play a big part in keeping your readers hooked, and the cover copy should give them a taste of that tone. This is especially important in a well-defined genre like crime, romance or sci-fi, where readers have a vague idea of the story you’re going to tell, but want to know how you’re going to tell it.
The one thing that sells books in any genre is this: a terrific protagonist. Your hero or heroine is going to be your reader’s new best friend if they read this book, so you have to make it clear why they would want to meet this person. Who are they and what makes them unique?
Fitting your plot into the cover copy can be a real challenge. The best advice is to not try to summarize it as such, but to pick out a few key plot elements and include those. What challenges will your protagonist face? What dangers must be survived, what questions must be answered? In essence, what elements of the plot drive your hero on through the novel? Focus on those, and it should help drive potential readers to the cash register.
Any pre-publication praise you’ve received can go at the end of your cover copy and this can help sell novels. But the quality of the praise is important. Unless the praise is coming from a household name, try to state exactly what qualifies them to offer an expert opinion. For example, if the praise is from another author, be sure to put Author of… after their name. Reviews are even better and if you can include the name of the publication it lends a real legitimacy to your book.
Writing your cover copy might seem like a small job after you’ve completed an entire novel, but getting it right can take a long time. Be sure to show it to others for feedback and tweak every single word until it’s just perfect. Good luck!

The Power of a Great Press Release

News websitesPress releases are important to get the word out about your book online and gain visibility. There are numerous benefits to a well-written press release. Most importantly is the potential for reaching new customers; millions of people get their news online, including major media outlets. Because major websites such as Yahoo and Google News pull results from press release sites like PRWeb or PR Newswire, it is possible to reach thousands of potential customers in a matter of hours.
Now the question is, should you do it yourself or hire a professional? Well that depends greatly on your skills and knowledge of press releases, in addition to the amount of funds that you may or may not have available.
It is a good investment to have a professional press release writer or publicist write your press release. A quality press release will get picked up by more outlets and have far greater distribution results. However, anyone can write a press release as long as a little work is put into it. While a traditional press release has many rules, an Internet based release does not have those same strict guidelines.
More important than anything is your headline.
To write a successful press release you must keep in mind that it is all about the headline. As with anything on the Internet, you must grab a reader’s attention immediately; there are so many other companies and websites competing that your headline needs to jump off the page.
Keep your headline to around 150 words and be sure to include keywords or phrases. Do not use so many keywords and phrases that your title does not make any sense, however. Remember that the headline you write is similar to a first impression. It must be good enough that the reader wants to learn more.
Here are some sample headlines you could use to promote your book:
Author Michael D. Dennis Announces Book Signing In West Hollywood, CA
New Young Adult eBook ‘Kitty Hawk and the Tragedy of the RMS Titanic’ Will Be Free On Amazon June 20 – 24, 2014
 Author Elise Celine Releases Inspirational Young Adult Romance Novel ‘John Dreamer’
Adventures of Retirement Living Chronicled in New Novel Time to Retire by Jon Foyt
 Author Enrico Lamet Offers Unique Perspective of World War II in Newly Released “A Gift from the Enemy”
 Quirky Young Heroine Stars in New Young Adult Adventure Book Series by Iain Reading 
Teko Bernard’s Highly Anticipated Debut Novel Now Available for Sale on
 New Contemporary Romance Novel ‘An Incurable Insanity’ Explores Traditional Indian Culture Through Universally Appealing Love Story
Children Gain Better Understanding of Cystic Fibrosis Through New Picture Book Sticky Icky Booger Bugs by Sherry Frith 
Lifestyle Businesses Are an Easy Way to Work Less and Live More, Says Author and Business Owner Rasmus Lindgren
New Sports Fiction Book Helps Kids Exercise Their Minds 
Novelist Jerry Kaczmarowski Announces The Release Of His Latest Techno Thriller ‘Sapient’
Keep it short and to the point.
You want to write just enough to peak the reader’s interest so that they want to visit your website for more. Do not give away all of the information in your press release. This will defeat the purpose of driving relevant, targeted traffic to your website.
Include pictures with your press release.
Studies have shown that press releases containing images will get better results than those that do not. Not only do people notice pictures quicker, a press release containing visuals looks better and is ranked higher by top search engines. If you are distributing a press release to promote your book, you should include both your headshot and your book cover with the press release.
Include contact and/or company information.
In the last sentence of your press release, include your publicists contact information. If you don’t have a publicist, then you should include your contact information.
Research press releases to get a better idea of the format. Publicists will tell you that the format you use for your press releases makes quite a bit of difference in the way your book and/or website is perceived.
By following a few simple rules you can write a great press release and attract the attention of many possible customers. Depending on the press release distribution website you decide to use, the rules and guidelines may vary slightly. Be sure to read each website’s rules before submitting your press release.
Here’s a list of some of our favorite press release distribution sites:

How to Get Book Reviews

Isolated open bookAre you a new writer hoping to enjoy similar success to those big names in the publishing world? Sales may not come overnight, but you can make a start by promoting your own work.
Whether you’re a traditionally published author or an independent one, book reviews are critical to your success. They are the lifeblood of your sales. A good book review can be worth hours or even weeks, of social networking. This article looks at some of the methods you can use to increase your book’s profile and gain more reviews.
Thank Those Who Have Already Purchased Your Book.
Make sure you leave a thank you at the end of the book. Adding a polite request for a review, with a link to the book on Amazon and Goodreads, is one way to help increase your reviews.
Reach Out To Book Bloggers
You can search online for book bloggers that cover your genre and ask them if they would be interested in reviewing your book. Here are two great book blogger databases: and The Indie View. Keep in mind you would need to provide them with a complimentary copy of your book to review. Most book bloggers have a page on their site that explains their review policy, make sure to read this before contacting them. Book bloggers will provide an honest review of your work, so you can’t expect that just because you gave them a free copy of your book that they are going to give you a 5 star review. The more reviews you have, the better. And you have to take the good with the bad. Plus studies show that readers aren’t usually put off by reviews which have both good and bad points.
Offer Free Review Copies
On your website, Goodreads, Twitter, and Facebook announce that you are willing to offer free copies of your book in exchange for a review. Let readers know you’re looking for feedback to help improve your work. People love to know their opinion is being sought and taken on board, or that they’ve had a hand in shaping a creative work. Once readers realize you’re not likely to be put off by their comments, they’re going to be more interested in reviewing your book.
Reach Out To Book Clubs
Reach out to your local book clubs and ask if they would be interested in reading your book or having you come speak. You will need to provide complimentary copies of your book, but the amount of reviews you will get from the book club members will make it a good return on your investment. Meetup is a great site to use to search for book clubs in your area.
Conscience Reviewing
Make sure that you thank each reviewer personally; it doesn’t matter how bad the review is. Sometimes you have to simply grit your teeth and look carefully at the points they’ve raised. Try to address their concerns as if you’ve written them yourself.
Acknowledge your reviewer and give it a few days for them to respond. Maybe they will even edit their review. And if they don’t respond, other potential readers will see your mature approach to the review which can’t hurt.
Bear in mind that ultimately, building reviews isn’t going to be an overnight process. It can take a reviewer any where from 1 week to 1 year to review your book. It takes time, but with some networking, a few freebies, and willingness to take critique on board, you should see a noticeable difference in your book sales and reviews!