Next Step: Apply for Book Awards

So now that you have published your book, what’s next? While we encourage our authors to take a well-deserved break to celebrate their accomplishments, the work is not finished. Next up, it’s time to start applying for book awards to gain more praise and recognition for your book. Here are few book award suggestions for self-published authors:

The Next Generation Indie Book Awards is the largest nonprofit awards program for independent publishers. Authors have over 70 different categories to choose from when applying and the top 70 books interested are given maximum exposure with a leading New York literary agent with possible representation. Look to increase your audience by submitting your book or e-book for entry as 2018 applications are now being accepted. Maybe you’ll find yourself at the Gala awards reception!

Another annual award that we recommend considering is the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) Benjamin Franklin Awards. What makes this competition unique is that all entrants receive direct feedback on their entries. For each category, one Gold winner and at least two Silver winners are selected. Now in its 30th year, the book awards program is considered one of the highest national honors for small and independent publishers to receive. Make sure to check your eligibility for the 2018 competition before applying.

It’s important to note that in the last few years there has been a rise in the quality of submissions. This has contributed to the growth in the overall competitiveness for award selections for self-published authors. Our advice to help increase your chances to win an accolade is to hire an editor to help review and perfect your book before its publishing date. This should include correcting any grammatical errors and getting help with design.

While we can’t guarantee that your book takes home first prize, the award stickers help to distinguish your book (or e-book) on a crowded shelf. Have a busy schedule or feeling overwhelmed? We can help, so contact us now!

Tips for New Writers

Being an author isn’t easy. Attaching your name to a piece of writing that is open to public criticism takes courage. Experienced writers who have developed thicker skin might say that it gets easier over time, but for new writers, the idea of publishing can be daunting. Here at Booth Media Group, we have helped guide many authors in different points of their career. Which is why we wanted to share a few tips for any new writers who are looking to successfully launch their first book.

To begin, take plenty of time to identify your audience. While your marketing strategy is made up of a variety of components, you should focus your attention on who will make up your readership initially. It is much easier than you might think to leave out individuals who can make up an influential portion of your audience. We suggest using brainstorming activities created by leading marketing professionals that are at your disposal online. For instance, set a timer for 10-15 minutes and write down as many of the five W’s (who, what, etc.) of the individuals who you believe are your target readership.

Remember, being a successful author takes time, and there will be setbacks along the way. Do not be discouraged; taking what you’ve learned from your mistakes will help you in the long run. Take time to invest in your brand. One way to do this is by setting aside a few hours every week to develop engaging content to be posted on your brand’s website and social media accounts. Don’t know where you’ll find the time do write social media content as well as your book? No need to fret; we can help with that, too!

We’re confident that these tips will lead to early successes. Make sure to check out our Facebook Page for other tips and motivational advice posted weekly.

The Shy Author’s Guide to Shameless Self-Promotion

There are those who are the Don Kings of book promotion and who revel in the busy atmosphere of finding their unique space within a book signing or press junket. And, there are those authors who shy away completely, wishing their book would sell based on their writing merits alone without speaking words to other human beings. And even in this new era of book promotion, your audience would like to meet and understand the person behind those words in the book that cost them x number of dollars. That human connection is still what sells books.

There is help, however for the shy author who would rather hire a stunt double than speak in a public forum about their book.
Here are some tips:

1. Prepare all the things you want to say or have announced about you. By writing down different ways to kick off conversation about the book that you are comfortable with, you can have some sense of control over the narrative. If you ignore the process altogether, you might find yourself in conversations you simply do not want to have.

2. Be a participant in the physical set up of the table, desk, podium placement or interview seating. This will empower you to, again, have some sense of control about what your audience sees and feels when they meet you. If you have marketing material to share like personalized bookmarks, signed copies of your book or cards with your social media handles, share it. Allow these items to do the “speaking” for you.

3. Put out candy, or something! Invite the warmth to your table in any way you can and if candy, or mittens, or keychains or something that can be taken directly from your book, use it.

4. Know that if your digital marketing has done its job right, there is an audience waiting for you and they want to see you. Be yourself and enjoy the ride. They came for you.

5. Co-signing. If you are still terrified to meet and greet your readers or to hold any kind of book signing, why not pair up with a fellow author? Cross promotion can become something greater for you and should not be viewed as competitive but as a compliment. By endorsing each other’s books in the form of casual conversation (much like a podcast) you will eventually find the courage to venture out and promote your book on your own. Plus, merging different audiences can win a wider fan base.

6. Blog and reach out on social media more. If public speaking is simply not for you, keep yourself free of any form of speaking by writing and stepping up your web presence. Start an email list and reach out with newsletters and announcements. Make your audience feel special.

Meet your audience wherever they are. Of course, they are online, but they are also in bookstores and at events. Connecting with one will help you connect with many: and that connection will sell your book.

I’m on Amazon, why do I need a website and a blog?

Glad you asked.

After months of writing and rewriting, of working with an editor, of pouring one’s self into a book, it can be understandable that the very last thing an author wants to do is write more. Especially when that more is for a platform or marketplace they feel might be a waste of time.

It’s a common misconception that once the book is written, it is done. But in order for an author to truly reach their audience on a much larger scale, the book needs to be placed in the hands of their fans. In order to do this, standing out in the constant noise of digital media is key. And it’s easier to stand out when you have something to stand ON: content.

Before a book is finished, it is wise to begin creating the buzz online. This can be done through a thoughtfully designed website that features you as an author and the book itself as a coming attraction. Generating this kind of interest grows more the closer you get to the book’s release date. Along with the website itself, having a strong blog that consistently shares information about the author, the origin of the story, locations found in the story, and other bite-sized details will be good in keeping the potential readership interested. A website can even give the author an idea about how well the book will be received by offering things like pre-order options.

A strong blog will also generate a great deal of content that can be shared across social media, something that should go without mentioning when it comes to the promotion and buzz that an author generates. These blogs also allow your PR campaign to showcase what’s coming: everybody wins!

Of course, an author who has just written a book might not be interested managing all of the day-to-day activities of their book promotion. This is why hiring a good social, web, and marketing firm such as Booth Media Group is essential in creating that ever-important web presence for the book.

Having a book is one thing. Marketing the right way to gain the necessary traction is another and can make all the difference in your overall success as a published author. It can be a journey to becoming a household name or seeing your book on the big screen, but it all starts with content.

GUEST POST: 21st Century Marriage: Crisis or Opportunity?

By Marcia Naomi Berger
www.marriagemeetings.com

I believe in marriage. This might sound naïve, what with half of first marriages ending in divorce and even higher failure rates happening in second and third marriages, respectively.

But there is a reason for so many marriage unhappy endings. Huge cultural shifts have occurred in recent decades. These changes have bred new expectations for marriage, which are often unconscious so that people lack clarity about why they are marrying; what they hope to gain from the union.

Until recently, most women needed marriage for financial security and social status. People, in general, are no longer stigmatized for living together and bearing children outside of marriage, or for being divorced. Currently most women hold jobs and a third of married women out-earn their husbands.

Clearly, the rules have changed. The old reasons for marrying, by and large, no longer apply. What looks like a current marriage crisis is the result of a widespread lack of understanding for how to create a satisfying 21st century marriage.

What most of us now really want, whether we know it or not, is a relationship that fulfills us emotionally and spiritually, as well as physically. When these needs are not met, spouses tend to blame their partner. Some blame the institution of marriage, saying it is obsolete.

I don’t think so. I think marriage is evolving—and that’s a good thing!

The vast majority of us can create lasting, loving marriages. We just need to learn how.

I’d like to propose a solution that has worked beautifully not only for my clients, but in my own marriage of over 25 years. You and your spouse agree to hold a weekly thirty minute “marriage meeting” with a simple format that covers all of the important aspects of your relationship. (Any two people who live under the same roof can benefit from holding similar meetings.)

A marriage meeting has four parts: Appreciation, Chores, Planning for Good Times, and Problems and Challenges. During Appreciation each of you takes an uninterrupted turn to say what you liked that your spouse did during the past week. Chores is the business part of the meeting. You each bring in your to-do list. Together, you agree as to who will take care of what task(s). Planning for Good Times is when you schedule a date for just the two of you, and perhaps also an enjoyable activity to do on your own. During Problems and Challenges, you talk about issues or lingering concerns. Start with light matters during early meetings and make sure to use positive communication skills.

An easy-to-resolve challenge might be telling your spouse that you’re trying to lose weight, so could he or she please either not bring home the junk food you find tempting or keep it somewhere where you’re not likely to see it. Once you’ve gained confidence by holding five or six successful meetings, more challenging topics can be introduced, like in-law issues, money, sex, and parenting concerns.

Some people object to the idea of a formal meeting. The trade-off is worth it though, because without an ongoing system for addressing details of our lives that need attention, it is easy to ignore them for too long. You might want to talk about something when your partner is otherwise occupied or decide to wait for a right time that never seems to come. If you do bring up a sensitive matter when your spouse’s mind is elsewhere, you might feel like you’ve entered a mine field.

Similarly, it’s easy to forget to express appreciation or to plan dates and other enjoyable, restorative activities. Chores can pile up or get mishandled. By scheduling times for marriage meetings, you will get to reconnect and feel valued by your spouse every week.

You’ve probably heard people explain their failed marriage by saying, “We just grew apart.” Couples do not grow apart; they drift away because they stop making time for each other. Marriage meetings provide a weekly wake-up call for staying connected emotionally, intellectually, physically, and spiritually.

Soon after our honeymoon, my husband and I took a class for couples that included a brief mention of the idea of holding a weekly marriage meeting. We’ve been holding meetings ever since then. I don’t know how we would have stayed happily married without them.

Every week we have a time to reconnect, feel appreciated, coordinate handling of business, plan dates together, and deal with whatever is on our minds. Because the meetings help to clear up misunderstandings promptly, we don’t accumulate grudges—which is enough of a reason by itself to hold marriage meetings. I give them major credit for our lasting happiness together.

Marriage meetings foster romance, intimacy, and teamwork, and smoother resolution of issues–a golden opportunity for your 21st century marriage!

You can buy Berger’s book Marriage Meetings for Lasting Love on Amazon!

Bio note: Psychotherapist and clinical social worker Marcia Naomi Berger, LCSW, is the author of Marriage Meetings for Lasting Love: 30 Minutes a Week to the Relationship You’ve Always Wanted, where you will find detailed guidelines, step-by-step instructions for conducting each part of a Marriage Meeting agenda, and communication skills for successful meetings. www.marriagemeetings.com.

How to Make Your Book Event Stand Out!

By Peg Booth

If you’re an author on a book tour or just doing a regular book event, it’s important no matter where the book signing or talk is held that you ensure you contribute to the success of the signing. In other words, your job is to do more than show up! The critical word to remember is promote, promote, promote!

Marketing your book through events, talks and book signings is still an incredible way to reach new readers. As more and more people become creative about the events and where they are held, it still is important to remember that the audience wants you to be entertaining, energetic and inspiring. Keep in mind that no matter how many people show up, you need to enjoy the event and be accessible. As Mark Victor Hansen of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series® always says, “no matter if 10 people or 100 people show up, you’re there to entertain them!”

Here are TEN valuable tips for ensuring you’re part of a successful event:

1. If you are the person booking your own bookstore event, book at least 6-8 weeks out to assume the most time for you and the venue to promote your event. Research your event prior to attending it, and arrive early in order to get a feel for the store and its patrons.

2. Make sure you know what area is set up for your presentation and that you’re comfortable with the area and where the audience will be sitting.

3. Take some extra press kits about your book with you – just in case there is an opportunity to give those to a media person or someone else who requests them for follow-up. Also bring along at least one of your speaker press kit in case someone at the signing comes up to you after your talk and is interested in you giving a large speech for her or his organization or business. Always make sure to ask for his or her business card as well so you can follow up.

4. Remember book signings are held to benefit the store and help drive sales. The more people who come to listen to your talk – the more valuable your event will be. Make sure that you ask the store to post the event in their newsletter, online at all their social media networks and be certain to have the event listed in the local media’s calendar listing sections. List the event on your website and Facebook page too.

5. Make a poster (PDF’s look especially professional) announcing the event, make copies, and send them to the bookstore so they can distribute to their customers for several weeks before your event.

6. Send a press release to appropriate local media and appropriate targeted businesses and associations announcing your upcoming event or make certain your publicist is doing so, starting at least four weeks before the date of your event.

7. Make sure that you have a prepared presentation and talk, about 20-30 minutes. Try to have two or three different talks that work depending on the audience (discuss what topic would be appropriate with the event coordinator). Be interesting, fun and entertaining, not bland and just informative. Make sure to tell stories during your talk because it will keep your audience focused on what you are saying and listening attentively. Do not book events where you just sit behind a table and wait for people to walk by and sign books.

8. Don’t be stand-offish to the audience or to the bookstore event managers – they are there to support and help your event be successful. You are really there to smooze the staff so they will remember your book and hand-sell it for months after you have left the store!

9. Leave plenty of time at the end of your talk for audience questions, at least 15-20 minutes.

10. Always give out your website, your blog address, your Twitter ID and your Facebook address at least a couple times during the event.

After the event—-always follow up:

1. Send a personalized hand written thank you note to the event coordinator.

2. Ask for her or his honest feedback on your event, including a self-addressed stamped envelope to return the feedback comments (or wonderfully written testimonial that you can use to pitch more events!)

3. Ask to schedule another event in a few months or to be part of an event that the store may be sponsoring or in which it may be involved (a community event or even another author event.)

4. Keep in contact with the event coordinator or assistant manager or store manager by visiting in person once every 6-8 weeks or so or by calling or emailing. This keeps your name and the name of your book in front of these salespeople often.

5. And lastly, send a complimentary note to the store’s district manager or corporate home office about the event and how wonderfully you were taken care of by their staff. This is rarely done and they will remember you and again, your book!

An extra gesture that the events will remember long after you’ve gone is to bring a little gift for the event coordinator as a special thank you for hosting you. Little things make a big difference for authors at book signings and events.

Keep your humor intact and remember to relax and enjoy the evening!

It’s Never Too Late for A Boost of PR

By Peg Booth

In this competitive book arena, both online and offline, it’s still very important to empower your book’s visibility with PR outreach. The good news is that every book has a reader; in fact, with the Web’s reach, many books are finding new readers daily even if they’ve been out for awhile. But it’s not enough to coast along with your book’s profile on Amazon and do nothing, not if you want to increase book sales. This is where PR comes in.

There are a few things that you can and should do to give your book every chance for success. Every author needs to have a website or a blogsite so that readers can easily find you and find out more about your book. We can’t stress enough how important it is to be visible in the online world. Having a Facebook page, a Twitter profile, even a Google+ presence can dramatically help people get to know you and your book. People are now searching for experts and authors on Facebook almost as often as they are on Google. As Facebook continues empowering its search capabilities, that number will continue to grow. Having a clean, professional looking website for people who find you on social media can be the difference between making a fan, and getting nothing.

The power of the Internet is that online you also have the book bloggers to reach out to for good PR and reviews. Whether you use a full-service media agency or plan your own blogging campaign, the book bloggers are important and should be respected as any other offline media person. As we look at print publications slowly moving more and more of their editorial content online, you might have the best of both worlds with hybrid reviews that are featured online and offline all in one.

Keeping your book at the forefront of the current news and happenings will give you additional and empowering ways to highlight your book and your ideas. Always look for the news hook as you make your way toward success, and keep your PR firm in the loop with your ideas. After all, you’re the expert on your book; your ideas are what your audience wants to hear.

In PR there is a saying, “Pitch new and often.” What that really means is that you always want to find new ways of pitching ideas and you want to continue to pitch no matter how many “no’s” you might receive.
In the midst of pitching your book as many different ways as you and your PR professional can come up with, it is vital to maintain a fresh, vibrant online presence through your website and your social media profiles.

So even if your book is months past its publication date, by using all of these tools, you and your PR team can improve visibility and sales. It’s never too late.