Sunday, November 29, 2009

Part 2: Now You Need to Get People to Visit Your Book Author Website

Welcome back Phyllis Zimbler Miller for Week 2.
Last week you offered tips for an author's website. What's next?

Blogging can be a book author’s best friend (after Twitter, which I’ll explain below).  First, don’t groan.  You’re a writer, so write.

A blog on your website is even better than a standalone blog because all that fresh content (and you will commit to blogging at least three times a week) makes the search engines like your book author website better.  (Full disclosure again:  I didn’t know this when I first started blogging so my book’s blog is separate; it’s at

And blogging is one reason to have a book author website before your book is published – it’s a great way to start the author-reader relationship.

If you are a nonfiction author, it’s pretty clear what you’ll write blog posts about.  Whatever your book topic is on.

And if you are a fiction author, don’t despair.  There are all kinds of things you can blog about – from recipes of your book’s locale (Thailand perhaps) to actual detective techniques (for mystery novels) to writing strategies.

Great, you’re blogging.  Now you have to get people to read your blog.

While Facebook (where you can have a group or fan page for your book) and LinkedIn are two of the most effective social networking sites, Twitter is the goose that lay the golden egg in my opinion.  Why?  Because, once you learn how to use Twitter effectively, it is the easiest way to get in front of people interested in your topic in a non-invasive and genuinely helpful manner.

Again, if you have a nonfiction book, you share information related to this topic, including information that does NOT come from you.  And you answer questions on this topic if you can.

If you have a fiction book, you interact with all the other fiction authors on Twitter and share writing tips, publishing tips, and your worse nightmares (your books aren’t available at the Borders author panel).  Through your tweets you share with others and become a real person to them.  And if they read fiction they should be interested in checking out what you’ve written.

One of the biggest pluses of Twitter (besides the 140-character limit for each tweet and not having to open email to read the message) is that you get only 160 characters for your bio and only one hot link.  (Currently LinkedIn has three hot links available in your profile and is there even a limit on Facebook?) 

Upload a good headshot of yourself (not your book cover – people like to interact with people, not inanimate objects), write an interesting (truthful) bio, and link to your website or blog. 

Then start slowly, learning as much as you can about Twitter etiquette and how to tweet worthwhile information for your followers.  (Do NOT -- unless you wrote a cookbook -- tweet what you ate for dinner regardless of whether you see other people tweet this.) 

One final word of caution that has to do with your website, your blog and your outreach efforts:   
This is NOT a three-month project 
of book promotion and you stop after three months.  
This is a three-year project or more of promoting your book.

Commit to the long haul, to continually learning new strategies, and to keeping an open mind about new possibilities, joint ventures, and new ideas.  Remember, you’re sharing your hard work with the world because you believe in what that hard work produced.  Now you just have to make it easier for people to learn about your hard work and want to partake of it.

Thanks Phyllis, for all your advice. 

Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller on Twitter) has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and is an Internet business consultant whose power marketing website is
Her company builds book author websites and provides other book marketing services.

Download now her free report on 
“Power Marketing’s Top 3 Internet Marketing Tips” 
and check out her company’s information package
“What You Should Know About Marketing-Driven Websites” 

Sunday, November 22, 2009

An Author's Website = One Purpose: Get People Interested in Your Book

Welcome marketing expert Phyllis Zimbler Miller.
Phyllis is visiting this week to to talk about author websites.

Have you every clicked through to a book author website to find yourself totally confused?  Is the book fiction or nonfiction?  Is it for sale yet or not yet published?  What does that gorgeous sunset picture have to do with a book on the federal justice system?

How many nanoseconds do you think someone who doesn’t know you will stay on the site before clicking away to someone else’s site where no guessing games are required?

And the solution is NOT to just have a book page on a book site along with hundreds of other book authors. If this is the only place to get advice about your book, you may be helping the sale of other books rather than your own.  Why you ask.  Here’s why:

Have you ever wondered what can happen when you tell someone your book is on Amazon or give out the link  The person who has good intentions to buy your book gets to Amazon, gets seduced by something else on offer on the home page, and no sale for you. 

Or the person gets to the home page and can’t remember how to spell your name or your book’s title and, again, no sale for you because, let me tell you from personal experience, the search engine at Amazon is NOT the sharpest tool.

I hope by now I’ve convinced you that you need your own book author website and that you need it to be crystal clear to a first-time visitor what you have on offer.

Let’s look at important elements your book author website needs in order to be a marketing-driven website.  (You do want to SELL your book after all, don’t you?)

But first, in full disclosure mode, I need to state that when my novel "Mrs. Lieutenant" came out in April 2008 I did have a website for it at  Yet the website at that URL now is a new website done by my business partner and younger daughter Yael K. Miller after we started building WordPress websites for clients.

And that experience leads me to my first point:

•    If at all possible, have a book author website that once up you can control yourself and make changes at the drop of a hat.

If you suddenly get a phone call from your local Borders that the store would like you to join an author panel happening in two days’ time, you want to be able to post that information on your website besides doing other publicity (which we’ll discuss in Part II of this post).
Other top points:

•    Collect email addresses at your website so that you can send out update information to your fans (including that Borders author panel).
•    Provide an excerpt of your book – encourage people to sample your wonderful prose or your brilliant business ideas.
•    Provide book group discussion questions.
•    If appropriate, provide a lesson plan for studying your book’s material in high school or college.
•    Have very clear contact information on the site.
•    Last, but certainly not least, have a very clear BUY button. And if the book isn’t available yet, make that very clear also.  (This is when collecting email addresses can enable you to later send out a publication announcement.)

In Part II we’ll discuss marketing methods to get people to your marketing-driven website.

Thanks Phyllis for being so honest about promoting. I'm looking forward to next week's discussion.  

Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller on Twitter) has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and is an Internet business consultant whose power marketing website is  

Her company builds book author websites and provides other book marketing services.  

Download now her free report on  
“Power Marketing’s Top 3 Internet Marketing Tips” 
and check out her company’s information package 
"Marketing-Driven Websites” 

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Stress Relief for Writers and Readers

This is the time of year there's a lot of talk about stress and stress relief.
Maggie Toussaint offered some suggestions to keep your life in balance.

I'll like to offer a few simple exercises to help you relax during the

  1. Reverse the effects of hunching over a book or keyboard with this back bend.

Roll a towel or small blanket and place under your chest about breastbone height.  Experiment for the best location until you feel very good. Try placing the roll along your back bone. Also under the knees can be relaxing. Relax on the floor and breathe, allowing chest to open. Take slow deep breaths. (Very flexible? Use a rolled yoga mat.) This is sometimes called the modified Fish Pose.

2. Rock and Roll the tension out of your back and shoulders. 

Lie down on the floor. Use softening protection for your back if needed.
Bring your knees up towards your chest. Breathe slowly in and out through your nose as
you allow your lower back to relax and flatten. Keep your neck and head relaxed.
Continue as long as you like without falling asleep.

Still holding onto your knees, begin to roll from side to side. Gently, not too far in each
direction, massaging the spine. (If you’re not completely comfortable, stop and add
another blanket.) Keep breathing, slowly rocking side to side.

As this becomes easier, use your hands to move your knees in a clockwise circle. Begin
with smaller circles and let the circles become larger. Feel your lower back flattening
and stretching as it relaxes. Reverse the circle and keep breathing.

Continue as long as you like. Then change to a back and forward movement rolling from
head to the base of your spine. Hold your opposite ankles or move your hands under
thighs and rock as long as it feels good, massaging your entire back and spine.

To come to a sitting position, cross your legs, grab your opposite big toes, and rock up,
pulling on your toes. Or roll to one side and get up slowly.

Find some quiet time, lay on the floor, put your feet up the wall or on a chair, and BREATHE. 

When I teach yoga it's always clear the hardest part for most students is learning to relax. The progressive relaxation (savasana in Sanskrit) that I taught scientifically teaches your body to relax.

Amber (Amala) Polo, MS, RYT, is an Integral Yoga teacher trained at the
Satchadananda Ashram in Buckingham, Virginia. Amber has studied with
teachers throughout the country, taught in the Florida Keys, and offers classes
and workshops in the Verde Valley of Arizona near Sedona. 
She is also a published author.

Amber's CD combines gentle words teaching relaxation with peaceful background music. 
The CD and MP3 downloads are available from
MP3 downloads also available from Amazon and iTunes.

Leave a comment about stress release for a chance to win a demo disc of 
Relaxation, One Breath at a Time.
Contest Closed.
Congratulations, Kitty!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Publicist Deborah Riley-Magnus Tells Us "It's Only a Meatball!"

Welcome Deborah Riley-Magnus, publicist and writeaholic,

With all your marketing and advertising background tell us something that newly published authors (or soon to be published) need to know that isn't usually talked about.

I’d like to start with a riddle. What do you get when you start with an artist who went into advertising, spent 20+ years in marketing and PR, radio and television … then became a chef … and though it all wrote like a madwoman?

You get a publicist with eclectic views on problem solving, a sense of humor and a hunger to not only tell stories of her own, but get the word out about wonderful stories other authors have written. 

You get me. A person who likes to cook inside and outside the kitchen.

Something I’ve discovered is that most new authors simply can’t grasp the positive nature of the huge shifts happening in the publishing industry today. Everything from cutbacks in what a traditional publisher will do to market an author to what Wal-Mart will do to sell books, can easily seem ominous. It’s sent many writers into a frenzy of desperation, leaping at vanity presses, self publishing, e-publishing, and indie publishing (all wonderful, viable options) only to discover that writing a book and getting people to buy it are two different universes. And guess what, those authors with the big publishing house contracts are learning the same lesson you just learned.

The first thing authors and soon to be published authors need to do is stop panicking, stop dissing the literary agencies, book sellers and publishers and open their eyes. New and exciting publishing opportunities are opening and developing, evolving and peeking up all around us. It’s like having a tarot reading, when that death card shows it’s face it means two things: the end of something and the beginning of something else.

Not only the industry gets to be creative at riding this unpredictable tide either … so do authors. We can close our eyes in terror and hope for the best, or we can throw up our hands and see the joy and promise of the ride.

Think hybrid … think outside the box that holds the box … think unique. Possibilities abound and with the shifting paradigm comes a freedom to experiment with marketing approaches we’d have been told simply wouldn’t work a few years ago. Yup, they do work and I’m trudging those new, unexplored avenues everyday for my clients.

To have written a novel, done the research, polished the plot and characters and not gone that extra mile to identify specific marketing paths to reach the audience for your novel is no longer acceptable. So many authors gripe at me when I say these things, explaining that all they should have to do is write. The world has changed and only the brave who change with it … or better yet, take part in reforming it … will find success.

Think of your writing as a business. Of course, that’s not a new concept, but really … a business. Have a product (your book), a platform (what makes you and your book visible and interesting to buyers), a business plan (controlling any and all expenditures) and a lot of balls. Balls to juggle silly, not what you were thinking although a strong commitment and bold attitude is important.

Juggling is a performance entailing illusion, timing and creativity. It involves distracting the audience and focusing them where you want them to look. It’s not quite slight of hand but it is a show. You are the performer when you get your book published, make no mistake about it. And your performance as a marketer will have a huge hand in whether you disappear into the din or dazzle and succeed.

There, I’ve said all the things most authors cover their ears not to hear. The success of the industry and your book is in your hands.

What’s the best way to handle marketing in a down economy?

It’s not brain surgery, it’s only a meatball!

Marketing in a down economy should be looked at the same way as marketing in a strong economy. No one should overspend for marketing. Ever. No one should accept mediocre or less than sterling marketing packages from any media, no matter how the bank balance looks.

I’m always amazed when people seize up because of the economy. If they’d been approaching their marketing correctly and efficiently in the first place, they should continue to do so now. We just won’t be making the stew with Black Angus tenderloin, we’ll be using sirloin or chuck, cooking it longer and watching the seasoning more carefully to get the same results. Don’t use the economy as an excuse to feel defeated. Writers get enough of that elsewhere. The key to a down economy is to be successful in spite of it. Use your money wisely, get good advice and have a powerful message.

No budget? There are hundreds of ways to get the word out. Press releases can be sent out on free online services. Targeted phone calls take little time. Social market your butt off. Tell everyone you know from your dentist to your vet to your mailman and old college friends that you’ve written a book. Everyone knows someone, don’t ever forget that. With every mention your circle of influence grows. Talk to local radio stations and book stores. Get a buzz going. A smile, a few connections and a good platform can sell a few cases of books each time the author does an appearance.

Tough economy or not, good planning and creative, effective approaches are standard requirements. There are experts, books and programs everywhere to assist. Don’t be one of those authors who think this stuff isn’t for them. Be one of those authors who laughs all the way to the bank. Tomorrow you’ll start writing your next book while they’re still grousing over what they don’t want to do. Paralysis is the worst enemy. After courageously writing a book and getting it published, why go all coward about blaring your horn? Toot away! If a down economy means people are buying fewer books, then you need to make SURE your book is the one purchased.

Talk about your book(s).
My books?  Not “How to Market for Authors”, that’s for sure, LOL. In addition to handling publicity for my various clients, I have several writing projects.

For years I’ve run a successful writing website. It features and promotes published and unpublished authors with interviews and sneak peeks of their work one week, and fanfiction the next week. I also have my author’s site which I struggle to keep updated (just like I advise my clients) and a blog which I update twice a week.

I am working on the first of a Paranormal Romance series, the book entitled Cold in California, and I’m also developing a cookbook entitled Who Says Vampires Don’t Eat: Recipes for the Loving Vampires in Your Life. The cookbook is a tongue-in-cheek exploration of the emotional, psychic, mother-in-law, teenaged and nosey neighborhood vampires every cook deals with. It’s interspersed with narrative and filled with my recipes.

My goal is to market both books together, bouncing the publicity ping from one to the other. I’ll be doing cooking demonstrations at author events and hopefully selling both books in tangent. Just as Cold in California is a series, so will the cookbook be. I’ve already begun testing recipes for further Vampires Don’t Eat cookbooks focusing on young people surviving away at college, bachelors, entertaining and kids. I’m having a blast!

I love your marketing plan! And definitely will come to your book signings.Thanks for stopping by to talk about the elephant and the meatball.

Deborah Riley-Magnus has a twenty-seven year professional background in marketing, advertising and public relations. She is a voracious writer, producing pieces weekly for various websites and working on several novels. Her business, Magnus Consulting, focuses on unique and original creative problem solving for her clients who are primarily authors. A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she currently lives, works and writes in Los Angeles, California. 


   Contact Debbie at:
Magnus Consulting
Publicity - Marketing - Promotions 
19009 South Laurel Park Road  #2 -  Los Angeles CA 90220
(310) 637-1424  - C (310) 779-1046
(website under construction)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Val Pearson from You Gotta Read Reviews

Welcome Val Pearson, book reviewer from You Gotta Read Reviews,

Tell me how you started reviewing books?
I've been reading books forever.  I started reading reviews to books and totally disagreed with some of the reviews I had been reading so I googled review sites.  My first stop was Simply Romance Reviews (which is now out of circulation).  I noticed a sign on the side that said I could sign up as a reviewer.  I noticed that the books were provided to you free of charge and my first thought was "What?  How come I have never heard of this before?"  So I contacted Julie, and asked if I could possibly be a reviewer even though I had never written a review before.  The answer was yes and a reviewer was born!

I see a lot of review sites are looking for reviewers. What are the qualifications to become a reviewer? What are the benefits?
The qualifications are simple.  You have to have a love for books and respect for an authors work.  We have an outline of the types of information we need to include in a review and all the sites I am on, it's mandatory not to bash an authors work.  Regardless of if you like the book or not, there IS something good in the book, FIND IT!  Reviewing is totally opinion based and your opinion is surely not going to be everyone's opinion.  It's all subjective but every review I have ever written, I stand behind 100%.  The benefits are many.  You get to read the latest and greatest books.  You find yourself speaking with your favorite authors and watch their work grow the longer you are a reviewer.  Of course, the books are free and who can beat that huh?

Are reviews edited?
 On some sites, usually the bigger review sites, yes the reviews are edited.  On small ones, no they are not.  I depends on which review site you are visiting.  On the smaller sites (which are usually the quickest turnaround) there simply is not the manpower to be able to have every review edited.  Reviewers are all volunteers and most of the staff are volunteers.  We do our jobs for our love and passion for books.  We don't get paid and sometimes that is something that a lot of authors forget.

How long does it take to get reviewed?It varies from site to site.The bigger sites take longer to post reviews and for good reason. Their reviews are edited and sent back to the reviewer if there are any elements missing from their review.  The smaller sites spell check of course but not much editing takes place. Like I said before, the manpower is simply not there to be as detailed as they would like.

I love the way You Gotta Read rates books. Instead of stars you use:
  • You Gotta Read - Our highest rating - very few books will earn this award
  • You Need To Read - Excellent books that don't quite meet Gotta Read
  • You Want To Read - Good books to read, these are the average reads, still a good book
  • You Could Read - Books that you might want to think about before purchasing
  • Leave It On The Shelf - Books that just didn't measure up - hopefully you'll never see this one given
Do you and other reviewers read a lot of books that never get reviewed because the rating isn't high enough?
All the books we read do get reviewed. The question is, will it get posted. Generally, if the rating is a low one, it will not be posted but the author will be notified and sent the review for their own use. We all feel that reviews are subjective. What I may think is a wonderful book, may not be such a great book for another reviewer. It's not fair for damage to be done to an author's reputation just because of one poor review.

What's your general feeling about the quality of the books sent for review? Going up, down or about the same since you began reviewing?
On the most part, I think the quality of books is pretty much staying constant. You do get the books that you wonder how an editor let a book through with so many grammatical errors but then you also have your books that are exceptional. I do see more books that have been poorly edited that I have ever seen before.  I am not sure if it is the influx of ebooks hitting the market or a lack of available time to edit the book but this problem really bothers some reviewers I know. I can get past this most of the time and I will usually let the author know that there were several mistakes in the book and hopefully they can catch the book before it goes to mass market distribution.

Any tips on getting reviewed (or getting a good review) besides writing a great book?
My suggestion to authors is try to be patient but when enough time has gone by, by all means, check on the book to make sure it has been reviewed or just check on the status of the book.  The blurb is especially important to reviewers checking out your book for review.  It's our one chance to take a glimpse of your book and in five seconds or less, we know if it looks like a book we want to read.  Another point I really can't make enough is when your review is posted, PLEASE leave a comment about your opinion of the review or just a simple thank you to the reviewer goes a long way.  The authors who pick apart our reviews seem to be remembered in a negative light far beyond that one review.  If a reviewer feels a appreciated by an author, believe me, the reviewer will want to review more of that particular author's books.  A little kindness goes a long way.

Are you also a writer/author?
I am not yet an author.  I do like to write but when I look back, I always find fault in my writing.  I want it to be perfect but somewhere between my brain and the paper, I lose what I want written down.  I will one day day be a writer but for now, I enjoy reading and getting ideas on future books.

What your most recent favorite book?
I couldn't possibly pick only one book.  I have become familiar with so many wonderful authors and their work.  My absolute favorite genre is romantic suspense. I've just read Awakening Allaire and Avenging Allaire by Margie Church as well as Rebecca Vickery's Surviving With Love and Looking Through The Mist.  Destiny Blaine is also an author that is an automatic read for me.  There are so many more I couldn't possibly list them all.

Do you ever just read for fun?
Sometimes when I feel overwhelmed by reviewing so many books, I do stop and read for fun.  I just feel more freedom when I read for fun.

OK, my time is about up but I would love to invite anyone who loves to read to reach out to one of the review sites and sign up to become a reviewer.  There are so many sites that need your help reviewing books.  Regardless of your experience with reviewing books, whether it be extensive or someone who has never reviewed books before, we need you!  You can be trained to write a review.  You will find that you benefit so much from letting others hear your opinion and the authors really do appreciate the time you take to review their work.  I would like to invite you to stop by our site, You Gotta Read, If you would like to be a reviewer, on the right sidebar are details of where to contact us.  Give it a shot, we would love to have you!

Thanks Amber for interviewing me.  I love your work and look forward to reading more of it!

Thanks Val, for taking time from reading to stop by.

Last year Val reviewed two of 
my short fiction romances
And Roberta recently reviewed  
Christmas on Wherever Island  
my short holiday novella and gave it a 
You Gotta Read.