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Jim Cox Report: July 2022
Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:
To begin with, I want to give a plug for an organization called EveryLibrary. They have just launched a campaign to oppose the growing trend of banning books from public and school libraries. Here is a link to their website
Check it out if you too are opposed to the banning of books. I'm old enough to remember one old adage that came out of World War II -- When they start by burning books, they end by burning people. And given Trump and his inner circle's almost successful coup attempt to overthrow a fairly elected American government so that he could remain in power, it's not so far fetched to consider that, as it did in an enlightened and cultured Germany back in the 20s & 30s, book banning and book burning could happen here in the enlightened and cultured America of today.
As I have often mentioned before, one of the fringe benefits of being the editor-in-chief of the Midwest Book Review for the last forty-six years or so is that I'm the happy recipient of a steady stream of helpful, informative, and thought-provoking articles on just about every aspect of the publishing industry.
One of the best sources for these is The Ethan Report by David Hancock (who is also the founder of Morgan James Publishing). Every month David has sage wisdom and useful information on the art and craft of writing, publishing, and marketing books. Full disclosure -- I regularly review the titles he publishes because he and his staff consistently do very good work with and for their authors.
David has given me permission to share with you from his June "The Ethan Report" an invaluable article by Marji Ross and Karen Anderson that will be of major and practical use to any author finding themselves bearing the burden of publicizing, promoting, and marketing their book.
8 Simple Things Every Author Can Do To Promote Their Book
No matter when your book was published, there are still thousands of readers (perhaps millions) who have not yet discovered your message -- but could benefit from your advice, insight and experience. So how to do you attract new attention to your book and your message, once your initial launch has passed?
We urge authors to start with these 8 simple steps. Even if you think you did them "way back when" you launched your book, we have found it's incredibly valuable to double-check and update these, so they are as timely and powerful as possible.
1. Hyperlink Your Email Signature
You probably don't realize how many ways and times you communicate with potential readers every day. The first and most obvious is via email. And before you say - well, the people I'm emailing already know about my book - don't be so sure.
People are busy, distracted and forgetful (yep, that's all of us!), and just because you may have told them about your book once, don't assume they remember that you even have a book, never mind what the title is.
Also, even if the recipient of a given email you send is not a prospect for your book -- or already has the book -- they are still a potential referral. A reminder of your book might also remind them of someone they want to recommend it to.
Thus, be sure to add to your email signature a line that says "author of XYZ book" and hyperlink that line to your book's detail page on Amazon or BN.com. Set up your inbox so that every time you send an email, that signature line is included.
2. Add Your Book Jacket to Social Media
We all know a picture is worth a thousand words (sorry, fellow writers, but it's true), so you need to be sure to leverage the visual aspect of your book. The easiest way to do that -- so make sure you do this today! -- is to add the JPG of your book jacket to your social media accounts.
All your social media accounts, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube, have the ability to upload photos and most have a functionality that allows you to "pin" them so they stay near the top of the page. That way, every time someone interacts with you on social media, they are reminded of your book.
3. Change Up Your Profile Picture
The social media strategy above is essential - now let's talk about a way to super-charge it. Your accounts have a profile picture associated with each account. Some of the most effective social media marketers know that changing the profile pic provides two excellent benefits: first, it adds interest and variety for people who visit your page or follow you regularly; second, every time you change your profile pic, your friends and followers are alerted.
So, how do you use that to promote your book?
Take a new photo of yourself with your book - - or your book on its own -- every week and update your profile pictures with the new photo.
You can use photos of you (or a loved one) reading your book in different settings, or giving the book to a friend, or autographing copies of the book, or finding the book on the shelf at a bookstore, or the book itself lying on a coffee table or nightstand or kitchen counter or coffeeshop bar. Get creative and keep changing it up -- every new photo is a new opportunity to connect with a potential reader.
4. Optimize Your Author Page
Do you have an Author page on Amazon? There are plenty of benefits that come from having such a page, including the boost you get on Amazon's own algorithm, as well as credibility and authority from the perspective of browsing shoppers. Your publisher cannot set that page up for you - only the verified author can do it. So make setting up your Author page on Amazon a priority!
And if you already have an Author page, when's the last time you checked it?
Is your Author Bio up to date?
Have you loaded in testimonials or photos under the "Author Updates "section? This is a very powerful - and free - marketing tool from Amazon, be sure to maximize it!
5. Add an Action-Oriented Pop-up or Slider
As you begin to raise your profile as an author . . . as you do radio, TV and podcast interviews . . . as you post about your book on social media . . . as friends and colleagues mention you and your book to their network . . . remember that traffic will go not just to Amazon, but to your own website. For that matter, you may have an active website for your business that attracts significant visitors.
Make sure you are capitalizing on that traffic!
Most of the popular website platforms, such as SquareSpace, WordPress, or Weebly, allow you to add a "slider" or "pop-up" and these are quite easy to customize to promote your book.
Include a picture of the cover and a call to action. Invite the visitor to "learn more by...." or "click here to read a sample..." or "available now on Amazon" -- no matter what you ask them to do, invite them to engage with you somehow.
6. Harvest Hidden Testimonials
Most successful books feature testimonials and blurbs from experts and thought leaders on the book jacket or in the press materials. These can be effectively leveraged for all kinds of marketing purposes, so even if you didn't start out with any blurbs, chances are good that by now you have some you can use.
Before you protest that no one has given you a testimonial, it's time to "harvest" all the testimonials you didn't know you had. Check out your Amazon reviews. Find any comments about your book on social media. Go back through any and all media interviews or coverage you've gotten with the specific goal of finding quotes from the media saying something complimentary about you or your book.
For instance, when you do a radio or podcast interview, the host will introduce you, and chances are high that he or she will say something nice about you or your book. That's a testimonial! Same goes for anytime someone introduces you when you give a speech or do a book signing. Set aside some time to look for these hidden gems, because they are precious.
7. Maximize Your Blurbs and Endorsements
Once you have collected your testimonials, blurbs and endorsements, you've got to share them with the world! So, of course, you should have a "brag sheet" in your media kit, which can be sent alone or as part of a larger press kit, whenever appropriate.
Of course, you should be certain to include all of them on your book detail page on Amazon and other online retailers. Of course, you should feature them, with photos if possible, on your own website.
But that's not all.
One more thing many authors overlook is the chance to post any and all blurbs and reviews for your book on all your social media accounts in the comments section. Do one a day, or every few days, rather than all at once, to create a "drumbeat" of support for your book.
8. Leverage Your Endorsers
One more thing you should be sure you do to fully capture the benefits of endorsements and testimonials is to reap the "halo effect" of those blurbs via the social media accounts and followers of the folks who gave you a testimonial in the first place.
Here are two great ways to do that:
"Like" on Facebook anyone who has blurbed your book and post a "thank you" to them on their FB page;
Retweet on Twitter your blurbs with the hashtag of the endorser. In this way, you reach not only your direct audience, but also the (hopefully much larger) audience of anyone who provided you with a blurb.
There you have eight different ways to promote your book. Implement each of these methods to reach new readers, grow your audience, and sell more books.
Publishing for Profit
In Marji and Karen's new video course, Unleash the Power of Your Book, they unveil a wealth of strategies and secrets you can use to relaunch your book effectively. Plus, you can leverage the relaunch into even greater success. Some of these strategies are multi-faceted marketing techniques, but most are simple actions that you can take immediately to boost your discoverability and build your platform.
Editorial Note #1: Marji Ross and Karen Anderson are seasoned book publishing veterans and creators of Unleash the Power of Your Book, a new video course to help published authors sell more books, make more money, and have more impact. You can reach out to them at www.strategicbookpartners.com. Additionally, Marji Ross has an informative website at https://marjirossconsulting.com/about.
Editorial Note #2: For those who are interested they can subscribe to The Ethan Report on the Morgan James Publishing website at https://www.morgan-james-publishing.com
Now here is a review of new books which are of particular interest to aspiring writers:
Landscapes for Writers and Game Masters
McFarland & Company
PO Box 611, Jefferson NC 28640
9781476683577, $29.95, PB, 250pp
Synopsis: Landscape science tells fascinating stories, whether in writing fiction or creating a role-playing game. Earth's varied terrain provides many examples of scene-specific challenges and resources for story characters, with distinctive land features, compelling locations, and intriguing traits.
Landslides, floods, coastal erosion, glacier movement, and volcanism can deliver fresh plot points and alter the social character of an imagined region. Characters traveling different river types encounter very different puzzles, opportunities, and combat environments and the same variety awaits within other classic settings, such as caves, mountains, deserts, shorelines, and volcanic zones. Atypical landscapes such as tundra, karst, and vast glacier surfaces can breathe fresh air into any stories.
"Landscapes for Writers and Game Masters: Building Authentic Natural Terrain into Imagined Worlds" by Scott Rice-Snow is a reference source for creative writing and game world building. It delves deeply into many landscape characteristics that help set the tone, shape character behavior, and drive the plot. Chapters are divided into diverse geographic environments, from rivers and shorelines to caves and volcanoes, and show how knowledge of the terrain can deliver plot points, add veracity, pose key problems, establish conflict, and lead into the next scene. Readers will discover how authors and game masters can effectively weave land and terrain into their stories.
Critique: Illustrated in black-and-white photos, "Landscapes for Writers and Game Masters: Building Authentic Natural Terrain into Imagined Worlds" is an invaluable and innovative resource for the novelist and the video game creator. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Landscapes for Writers and Game Masters: Building Authentic Natural Terrain into Imagined Worlds" is a unique and recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Writing/Publishing collections. It is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.99).
Editorial Note: Scott Rice-Snow is Emeritus Professor of Geological Sciences at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. He has published research in river, glacial, and karst geomorphology, as well as hydrology, geoarchaeology, and geoscience education. He also hosts the ground4inspiration.net website, documenting unique landscape features and their narrative/gameplay potential.
Write Like You Mean It
Brown Books Publishing Group
16250 Knoll Trail, Suite 205, Dallas, Texas 75248
9781612545271, $19.95, HC, 192pp
Synopsis: With the publication of "Write Like You Mean It: Mastering Your Passion for the Written Word" award-winning journalist and content writer Steve Gamel dives into his best advice for writers that he has gathered over the years.
With stories from his early years and frequent foibles as a journalist, Gamel equips aspiring writers with trade tips to learn, tools to utilize, and lessons to write stronger content. He has designed a compendium of experience based recommendations, instructions and insights that will be exceedingly useful to all kinds of writers: first-time writers, veteran writers, nonfiction writers, fiction writers, freelance writers, college writers, high school writers, writers who own their own business, and anyone else wanting to put pen to paper (a keyboard to computer) any kind of story of their own.
Simple steps in each chapter break down the productivity practices of creatives, the organization needed to get to the finish line, and the purpose behind it all: drawing readers in with quality content and style. Steve Gamel also discusses the intentional processes behind organizing ideas, conducting interviews, beating writer's block, networking, editing, and publishing. Whether an old hand at writing, a novice, or a college professor aspiring to write full-time, "Write Like You Mean It: Mastering Your Passion for the Written Word" will prove to be as informative as it is inspiring!
Critique: With instructive chapters organized into three major sections (Start Writing!; Writing to a Purpose; Write Like You Mean It to Be Read), "Write Like You Mean It: Mastering Your Passion for the Written Word" is further enhanced for the aspiring writer with the inclusion of an informative Introduction, and a six page bibliography of Reference and Resources for Further Reading, six pages of Endnotes. Practical, comprehensive, exceptionally well organized, and thoroughly 'user friendly' in presentation, "Write Like You Mean It: Mastering Your Passion for the Written Word" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, college, and university library Writing/Publishing instructional reference collections.
It should be noted for the personal reading lists of aspiring and seasoned writers alike that "Write Like You Mean It: Mastering Your Passion for the Written Word" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).
Editorial Note: Steve Gamel has an informative website about his work and services at https://www.editthisllc.com/about
How to Tell a Story
Philip Freeman, translator
Princeton University Press
41 William Street, Princeton, NJ 08540
9780691205274, $16.95, HC, 264pp
Synopsis: Handed down from ancient Greek literature, Aristotle's Poetics is arguably the most important book ever written for writers and readers of stories -- whether it be novels, short fiction, plays, screenplays, or nonfiction.
Aristotle (384-322 BC) was the first to identify the keys to plot, character, audience perception, tragic pleasure, and dozens of other critical points of good storytelling. Despite being written more than 2,000 years ago, the Poetics remains essential reading for anyone who wants to learn how to write a captivating story -- or understand how such stories work and achieve their psychological effects.
Yet for all its influence, the Poetics is too little read because it comes down to us in a form that is often difficult to follow, and even the best translations are geared more to specialists than to general readers who simply want to grasp Aristotle's profound and practical insights.
With the publication of "How to Tell a Story: An Ancient Guide to the Art of Storytelling for Writers and Readers" ably translated into English for an American readership by Philip Freeman contemporary and aspiring authors and readers are provided with the most readable translation of the Poetics ever yet produced, making it an indispensable handbook that is more accessible, engaging, and useful than ever before.
In addition to its inviting and reliable translation, a commentary on each section, and the original Greek on facing pages, this edition of "How to Tell a Story: An Ancient Guide to the Art of Storytelling for Writers and Readers" features unique bullet points, chapter headings, and section numbers to help guide readers through Aristotle's unmatched introduction to the art of writing and reading stories.
Critique: A complete course of Aristotelean instruction that is impressively 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "How to Tell a Story: An Ancient Guide to the Art of Storytelling for Writers and Readers" must be considered essential reading by anyone aspiring to write stories that would be successfully attractive to an author's intended audience. This splendid edition from the Princeton University Press is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, college, and university library Literary Studies collections and as a textbook for creative writing workshops curriculums.
It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, aspiring (and experienced) writers that "How to Tell a Story: An Ancient Guide to the Art of Storytelling for Writers and Readers" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Editorial Note #1: Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath during the Classical period in Ancient Greece. Taught by Plato, he was the founder of the Lyceum, the Peripatetic school of philosophy, and the Aristotelian tradition.
Editorial Note #2: Philip Freeman is the author of more than twenty books on the ancient world, including the Cicero translations How to Think about God, How to Be a Friend, How to Grow Old, and How to Run a Country (all from Princeton University Press). He also holds the Fletcher Jones Chair in Humanities at Pepperdine University.
Simple, Brief, and Precise
GIA Publications, Inc.
7404 South Mason Avenue, Chicago, IL 60638
9781622775958, $24.95, 266pp
Synopsis: "Simple, Brief, and Precise: How to Write with Clarity" is a straightforward, practical, easy-to-use tool to improve writing in which author, academician, and writing instructor Darrel Walters draws from his experience reading tens of thousands of pages as a university professor to create an essential reference and guide. "Simple, Brief, and Precise" is an invaluable instruction guide for anyone aspiring to make better use of the English language and the writtenword.
Critique: A DIY writing workshop seminar in the form of a book, "Simple, Brief, and Precise: How to Write with Clarity" is an exceptionally effective and comprehensive textbook that is especially and unreservedly recommended for anyone seeking to become adept, efficient and compelling with their writing whether it is for a business report, a letter to a family member, or the next Great American Novel. While an outstanding selection choice for personal, professional, community, college, and university library Writing/Publishing collections, it should be noted for students, academia, corporate executives, freelance writers, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Simple, Brief, and Precise: How to Write with Clarity" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $23.70).
Editorial Note: Darrel Walters earned a PhD from the University of Michigan, advised masters and doctoral students at Temple University for 24 years, and now presents writing seminars for business professionals and university students and faculty.
Write a Must-Read
Page Two Books
978-1989603697, $27.00 Hardcover/$8.99 Kindle, 224pp
Diane C. Donovan
Write a Must-Read: Craft a Book That Changes Lives?Including Your Own is a study in nonfiction writing that differs from the usual "how to write a book" title. It focuses on producing works that "places the reader first" in a manner that doesn't just invite readers to partake, but compels it.
Its one thing to write and publish a book, but it's quite another to produce a reader-centric message that resonates and promises not just attraction, but transformation.
AJ Harper wrote books designed to help and inspire others, and this how-to guide is no exception. She tackles many of the reasons why books languish both in sales and in interest: "Click on the listings for many Amazon category bestsellers and you'll see a lot of "abandoned" books - books that people wrote and published quickly and then left up for proof that they wrote it. How can you tell? Look at the reviews. Has it been a year or more since someone left one? That means the author likely isn't promoting it, or not much. Look at the sales rank. Is the book ranked at one million or higher? That means it sells a handful of copies a year.
How did this happen? How did we get to this place where the main goal is speed, not quality? Where the focus is on the perks of being an author, not authorship?"
By asking the hard questions about what makes a book long-lived, Harper encourages would-be and existing authors to consider their audience and how they define, attract, and perceive their readers.
A chatty combination of humor and practical inspection accents the advice, making it both accessible and hard-hitting: "Nonfiction is an entirely different animal. I always outline (plot) before I write. Why? Because I have a different goal. With fiction, I am focused on honoring the characters and the story. With nonfiction, specifically personal and professional development books, the aim is transformation. My singular goal is to help the reader change their life, and so pantsing it is not an option. When I put on my ghostwriter or developmental editor hat, I move firmly into the plotter camp. Although that's a fiction term. What could we call ourselves, nonfiction writers who outline? Outliners is too obvious. Smarties? Ha. Maybe not. You let me know if you come up with something." By doing so, Harper illustrates the very techniques she is promoting to connect with readers.
From developing and inserting Core Messages at appropriate points to identifying and finding a book's Ideal Readers, the routines and choices of publishing and promoting a book are accompanied by insights on why each can fail, and how to avoid common pitfalls of publication.
The candid revelations about the work involved in not just writing, but seeing a book to publication and matching it with its intended audience are delivered in admonitions that explain how the book industry really works, exploring the author's role in augmenting publication with self-promotion efforts: "Let's get one thing straight: Marketing your book is your responsibility. If you think signing with a traditional publisher means you can sit back and write and they'll take care of finding your readers, someone gave you bad information. What they will do is push that trade distribution sales engine behind the scenes so your book is more likely to end up on shelves, but getting readers excited to buy your book is all you."
The result is exceptional, highly recommended not just for the wide-ranging practical information it contains, but for the author-centric realities and realizations it promotes.
Write a Must-Read stands out from the crowd and is about more than writing, publishing, and promoting. Ultimately, it's about syncing transformation and mindsets to that of a book's potential audience to fulfill a book's potential as well as an author's dreams.
It deserves a place in any library or individual collection strong in writer's guides, as a standout approach to nonfiction writing success.
Editorial Note: AJ Harper is an editor and publishing strategist who helps authors write transformational books that enable them to build readership, grow their brand, and make a significant impact on the world. As ghostwriter and as developmental editor, she has worked with hundreds of authors, from newbies to New York Times bestselling authors with millions of books sold. AJ teaches her method in Top Three Book Workshop and the Must-Read Editing Workshop. She is the Head Writing Coach for Heroic Public Speaking, the premier speaker training program created by Michael and Amy Port. She is also a writing partner to business author, Mike Michalowicz. Together they've written nine books, including Profit First. She can be contacted via her website at https://ajharper.com
"The Midwest Book Review Postage Stamp Hall Of Fame & Appreciation" is a monthly roster of well-wishers and supporters. These are the generous folk who decided to say 'thank you' and 'support the cause' that is the Midwest Book Review by donating to our postage stamp fund this past month:
Attila Szabo -- "Passion and Addiction in Sports and Exercise"
Lynda McDaniel, Writing Coach
Jeff Wheeler -- "Fate's Ransom"
Susan L. Rogers -- "Dead Man's Pose"
Anne Jordan -- "Sunny the Sideloader"
David C. Loschke -- "After The Silence"
Aruna M. Lepore -- "Peanut the Penguin"
Joseph Ganci -- "David: God's Chosen Crucible"
Berlando Drake -- "Gurty the Goose Leads the Flock"
Robert Saniscalchi -- "Bond of Brothers: Danger Close"
R. R. Davis -- "The Various States of a Garden Well Kept"
Jerry Aylward -- "The Scarlet Oak: Murder, Spies, and Spirits"
Sally Alexander -- "The Lost Colors: A Caitlin & Rio Adventure"
Carolyn Begley Daley -- "God's Love for You: A Pictorial Devotional"
Letisha Jackson -- "Woman to Woman: Letters from Wives to Mistresses"
Elizabeth Frazier -- Waldmania! PR
Skye Wentworth -- Skye Wentworth PR
In lieu of (or in addition to!) postage stamp donations, we also accept PayPal gifts of support to our postage stamp fund for what we try to accomplish in behalf of the small press community. Simply log onto your PayPal account and direct your kindness (in any amount and at your discretion) to the Midwest Book Review at:
SupportMBR [at] aol.com
(The @ is replaced by "[at]" in the above email address, in an attempt to avoid email-harvesting spambots.)
If you have postage stamps to donate, or if you have a book you'd like considered for review, then send those postage stamps (always appreciated, never required), or a published copy of that book (no galleys, uncorrected proofs, or Advance Reading Copies), accompanied by a cover letter and some form of publicity release to my attention at the address below.
All of the previous issues of the "Jim Cox Report" are archived on the Midwest Book Review website at www.midwestbookreview.com/bookbiz/jimcox.htm. If you'd like to receive the "Jim Cox Report" directly (and for free), just send me an email asking to be signed up for it.
So until next time -- goodbye, good luck, and good reading!
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James A. Cox
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