Posts Tagged ‘book marketing’

How I Became The Mad Dog-Woman of Hertfordshire and Featured in The Mail Online!

February 12, 2015

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Today, I’m delighted to have a guest blog post from the very talented Dr Annie Kaszina, author of “Do You Choose Your Dog More Carefully Than Your Husband?”
When I first started working with Annie, she had an idea for a book called “Conversations with Cupid”. However, in our mentoring sessions, it rapidly became clear to me that there was a much more fascinating book that reflected Annie’s great wit, humour and love of dogs!
Twelve months on, Annie is being courted by the world’s media, ahead of her book launch this Valentines’ Day.  Over to Annie (and her dog Basil K)…

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At 11.25 one wintry Sunday night my shrieks sent my lovely partner haring up the stairs – and he’s, sadly, as deaf as a post*. He raced into my office and found me grinning maniacally. I’d just discovered I was featured in “The Mail Online”, in an article that incorporated all of my passions – although not necessarily in their true order of priority: my handsome little dog Basil (photographed) my book “Do You Choose Your Dog More Carefully Than Your Husband?”(described) my mission to help women find their perfect partner, and my beloved partner (who inspired so much of the book).
In a year, I’d gone from working as just another relationship coach to having a unique message and voice and, potentially, reaching millions of people even before the book’s launch. (Within a few days, there were interviews on the BBC, an inquiry from Australian television, and a piece in “China Daily” no less!)
How did it happen?

Call it a When-Annie-Met-Stephanie moment. Like a lot of people who are quietly passionate about what they do, I didn’t see what was special about my story, and my expertise. Stephanie suggested there was a huge market hungry for relationship books.

I wondered: should I ‘sit on it’ for a while? – and take the risk that what I was doing might start to feel old hat to me. Or should I go for it? I sent Stephanie the book outline. Purely to make her laugh, I added a few words at the end to the effect that I was the serial relationship zero who only wised up to herself when she realized she’d chosen her dog more carefully than her husband.
I started writing the book. Boy, was that fun! Every morning I’d be down at my local Costa when it opened. Swigging latte, I’d bang out my 2-3,000 words in a couple of hours. (Stephanie’s advice not to be precious, but just write really helped.) Around the half-way mark, I went to one of Stephanie’s one-day events. The more I listened, the more I questioned whether my book was on the right track, or not. Stephanie kindly said she’d take a quick look at a sample chapter.
With a view to ‘saving’ what I’d done, I dashed off a latte-fuelled prologue – in Costa, naturally – one Sunday morning. It was personal, quirky, and funny: I talked about ‘glue rabbits’ the ludicrous crunch point in my marriage, and dogs. Quite where it all came from I don’t know.

The sample chapter didn’t do much for Stephanie. But she really liked the prologue. That was the way to go, she said. Great! I was meant to write my book as the Mad Dog-Woman of Hertfordshire! Where would I even start?

Back in Costa, of course, swilling yet more lattes. (You would not believe how many points I accumulated on my Costa card over the following weeks, or the mates I made.) I sat there banging away on my skanky little notebook until I virtually became the cabaret – albeit a whey-faced, make-up free, scruffy cabaret. But at 8am even that is, arguably, better than nothing.
Anecdotes from my own life, and unexpected reflections tumbled from my fingertips. I found a voice I didn’t know I had. I got progressively happier – even though it was, actually, one of the toughest times of my life. It was the best fun I’ve ever had on my own in a public place.
Writing that book was easier than I could ever have imagined. Here are my top 5 tips to make getting a book done a doddle.

1. Find yourself a great place to work. Good music, good light, and good coffee are all big pluses.
2. Time everything. First, allot a block of time each day to writing. Then use a timer to divide that block into 20 – 25 minute chunks. This prevents you slipping into the writerly [sic] pitfall of disappearing up your own thought process.
3. “Worrrk eeez never wasted”, as my old Professor of Italian used to say. So, you write a first draft, or half a first draft and it doesn’t work out. You haven’t wasted your time: you’re just honing your skill. What doesn’t go into the book is every bit as precious as what does, in terms of making you a better writer.
4. Get yourself a brilliant coach who knows their stuff, loves working with people like you, and can see the big picture that you could be missing. There are plenty of people to choose from but not too many as supportive, generous and all round brilliant as Stephanie J Hale. That’s just a fact of life.
5. Have fun so your readers will have fun, too. The guy who I wrote my first academic book about, in Italian, he who shared his name with a brand of chocolates and an industrial machinery supplier, rightly said: “If it bores you to write something, it will bore the reader to read it.” Nobody wants to be bored. Ever.

* Or, as he prefers to put it, “Nearly as deaf as a post.”

Basil

Annie Kaszina PhD, author of “Do You Choose Your Dog More Carefully Than Your Husband?” was a long-term relationship disaster, until she realized that it made sense to choose her partner at least as carefully as her dog. She has spent 10 years teaching women how to become that special woman who has her dream partner eating out of her hand.

Find out more about Annie and her new book “Do You Choose Your Dog More Carefully Than Your Husband?” at: www.ChooseYourMan.com

 

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Dr Annie TOTALLY understands relationships – and talks about them with the sort of humour and insight that comes from true experience. She was a joy to interview… and a joy to read.”

– TV and radio celebrity, Anne Diamond

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‘Celebrity Authors’ Secrets’ in SOCIAL & PERSONAL Magazine

May 14, 2014
Celebrity Authors' Secrets in SOCIAL & PERSONAL Magazine

Celebrity Authors’ Secrets in elite fashion magazine, SOCIAL & PERSONAL

Elite fashion magazine, SOCIAL & PERSONAL is running a feature on my book Celebrity Authors’ Secrets in July.
This time, extracts from John Gray (Men Are From Mars author), Alexander McCall Smith (No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency), Joanne Harris (Chocolat) and Bernard Cornwell (Sharpe series) will be featured.
The magazine goes out to 20,000 premium readers in Ireland.
It’s hard work when you’re planning a press campaign. Sometimes you get no ‘bites’ and have to be willing to rewrite your press release and start all over again.
There are weeks when you can graft all day and seemingly get nowhere. But it’s exciting when hard work pays off.

How To Get Your Book Serialised in Newspapers and Glossy Magazines

April 28, 2014

Most authors find the idea of pitching or promoting their book to newspapers, magazines, radio and television daunting. However, you presumably wrote (or are writing) your book because you feel you have something worthwhile to say. So it’s worth making sure as many readers get to hear about it as possible.

One of the biggest mistakes authors (and indeed, some PR consultants) make, is to assume that your press release should be sent out mainly to book reviewers. To my mind, this is a massive mistake. A book review tends to have postage-stamp sized coverage, with a teeny image of your book cover if you’re lucky. What’s more, someone has to actually read 70,000+ words before this can happen. Yes, book reviews are influential in selling books. But they shouldn’t be the only weapon in an author’s arsenal.

If you send your press release to a specific science editor, features writer, reporter or broadcaster instead, you power up your PR campaign considerably. SAGA Magazine, for example, has first serialization rights for my forthcoming book. This spans six pages and includes four photographs, plus an image of my book jacket, as well as a double-page illustration. If I paid for similar coverage in advertising, the cost would run into tens of thousands.

Journalists like stories that are:
* topical (an event or activity that’s linked to a trending news topic);
* inspirational (ordinary people doing extraordinary things);
* educational (improves health, wealth or relationships);
* unexpected (eat more chocolate, get slim);
* controversial statements (men are worse bosses);
* ‘then and now’ contrasts (you were overweight/broke/depressed etc. and now you’re the opposite);
* a big promise (lose wrinkles in 7 days with facial yoga).

Remember that most journalists won’t have time to read your book. So bullet-point the necessary facts. Or write your press release about you and your inspiration, or anything else that is interesting and relevant. Another approach is to create an event or photo opportunity for them to attend.

Here are some quick and easy guidelines for structuring your press release:

• Headline – start with something that’s likely to grab attention.
• Paragraph 1 – summarize your ‘story’ giving key information.
• Paragraph 2/3 – flesh out your story – who, why, what, where and when.
• Paragraph 4 – include a quote from you or someone relevant to the story.
• Paragraph 5 – include extra relevant information such as a photo opportunity.
• Final Paragraph – include the all-important sentence: For a review copy, permission to use printed extracts, or to arrange an interview, contact xyz.
• Contact Details: phone, Skype and email.
• If the story is for immediate release, say so. If it’s embargoed until a certain date, this gives journalists time to prepare ahead.

Take time to tailor your press release for different publications. Suppose, for example, you’ve written a dieting book. Your press release for health magazines might look at emotional and physical topics. For national newspapers, you might include more statistical evidence. For regional media, you might mention a “local author”.

Like all things, it takes a while to master new skills. But eventually, you’ll learn to do this on ‘auto-pilot’ and may even start to enjoy it. It will also leverage your time considerably. Compare the potenial return on investment of an hour spent writing your a press release with an hour spent giving a reading in a loval library or bookshop. To my mind, it’s a no-brainer to send out your press release to as many journalists as you can to get maximum coverage!

And if several publications want serialisation rights for your book? Then, you need to weigh up what your long-term goals are and whether their target readership is the same as yours. This is rather a nice problem for any author to have!

If you need support, or an extra helping hand through the process, I offer a range of 1-1 mentoring and done-for-you solutions to help authors get maximum media coverage. (Email for more details at: oxford writers@me.com)

You’ll also get many powerful book promotion ideas in my new book Celebrity Authors’ Secrets which is available for pre-order on Amazon right now: http://amzn.to/1kdtv9G

How To Pitch Your Book To Glossy Magazines, Newspapers or Radio: Top Mistakes Authors Should Avoid

April 14, 2014

Many authors wrongly assume that their book isn’t important enough, or that only celebrities and famous writers, will get media coverage. This just isn’t true. Radio stations (particularly local radio stations) have many hours of airtime to fill each week. Similarly, most print publications are also looking for inspiring, topical, or controversial human interest stories to entertain their audiences.

You may be thinking: ‘Why bother – it’s too much effort.’ But here’s why it matters: many newspapers and magazines have audiences that run into millions. SAGA Magazine, which has just snapped up the first serialisation rights to my book Celebrity Authors’ Secrets has a readership of 1.8 million. The Huffington Post, for which I am now a blogger, has over 30 million readers globally. Many other newspapers, magazines and radio stations which are running features and reviews for my book have similar-sized audiences.

This phenomenal coverage costs nothing, zilch, other than your time and energy. Yet, in return you can build a massive following for your book even before it’s launched. So it makes sense – enormous sense in fact – to spend time on mastering this.

When authors do approach the media, a common mistake I see is that the press release ends up sounding like a ‘pitch-athon’ for the book. Most journalists don’t have time to read books. They may not even be interested in your book, period. But what they are interested in is you, the story of what inspired you to write your book, or the fact that you’re an expert who can comment on a similar topic that’s in the news. In other words, your book is not necessarily the reason why you will get media coverage. It does however give you a big reason to attract the media’s attention.

Another common mistake is to write the same press release for all publications. Many of SAGA Magazine’s readers are over 50 and interested in writing books – so a press release about publishing secrets works fine. However, when approaching women’s magazines or celebrity magazines, I angle my press release on more personal (rather professional) aspects of famous millionaire authors’ lives. So I look at interesting ‘trivia’ about their day-to-day lives and the sacrifices they make to write their books. This is much more in keeping with the ‘gossipy’ nature of these magazines and what their audiences like to read.

All authors can use this strategy to get publicity for books. It’s remarkably simple and you can do it in a weekend. It’s just a matter of writing a one-page press release and identifying where to send it.

In my next blog, I’ll reveal tricks for high-impact book promotion that even professional publicists are missing.


Be one of the first people to grab a copy of Celebrity Authors’ Secrets, by pre-ordering a copy right now on Amazon.

     “Anyone setting out to write a book should thank their lucky stars for Stephanie’s outstanding inspirational guide. I’m astonished by just how much insider information and personal experience the world’s top million-selling authors are prepared to share.” 

– Sue Price, Arts, Culture and Books Editor of SAGA Magazine

 

Beverly Hills Book Awards Finalist: 2014

Beverly Hills Book Awards Finalist: 2014

How to Choose the Right Cover Image for Your Self-Published Book

March 25, 2013

I’ve been helping several clients to choose cover images for their books this week. These authors have either been rebranding existing books that haven’t been selling very well… or been choosing images for brand new books that are about to be launched. As research shows that 74% of a reader’s buying decision is based on a book cover alone, it’s vital to get this right.

This means paying careful attention to:

* Your book title;
* The image on the front of your book;
* The colours used;
* The font used;
* The blurb on the back of your book;
* The testimonials you use on the book cover.

It pays to spend time making your Contents page sound as compelling as possible. Your very first sentence should also grab the reader by the collar, as should the rest of page 1.

To select the right cover for the front of a book, it’s essential to do a little market research, and focus on your target readership. One of the authors I’ve been working with this week has written a fantasy book aimed at young adults.

His designer produced 18 book covers, which the author and his team all really liked. However, when I showed these same covers to my sixteen-year-old son and his friends, they said things like: “these look really boring”, “I don’t know what it’s about” and “I wouldn’t read it”.

To get an idea of what did appeal to them, I instead showed them a random sample of 10 fantasy books on Amazon. I asked which they liked most and what they would read. They opted for book covers that to me seemed a bit basic, unsophisticated and even downright ‘cheesy’ – with characters in action scenes. However, the important thing here is that my opinion and aesthetics were irrelevant. Teenagers are the target readership for this book and these were the type of cover images they preferred.

‘Crossover books’ – book designed to appeal to both adults AND children – usually have two entirely different covers. The Harry Potter books do this, for example, as do the ‘Northern Lights’ books by Philip Pullman. Most books published globally will also have different covers, as every country will have different cultural references. The colour white may be associated with weddings and innocence in the UK; but in China it is associated with death and mourning.

For this reason, I always recommend that you do your market research first before you produce a book cover. Make sure you get feedback from your target audience on every aspect of your cover and what it means to them.

When choosing a cover image, it is also vital to consider what your long-term goals are for your book. A picture paints a thousand words. Every cover image therefore gives instant subliminal messages, based on a reader’s associations.

Another of my non-fiction clients is about to publish a book to attract new clients for her pension planning business.

Here are a selection of some of the designs she has looked at:
1. A dinghy and a lifebelt image on the cover, to give a sense of drama and urgency to her message.
2. A solid oak tree with rotten roots to symbolise the state of most people’s finances.
3. An empty glass jar, with the word ‘pension’ on the side, to illustrate the fact that most people’s pension pots are empty.
4. A golden egg in a nest symbolising the notion of a golden nest egg.
5. A picture of the author on the front looking friendly and personable.

Each of these five images has its merits. However, they will each attract different types of readers. The author wishes to attract affluent middle class professionals who are already fairly financially stable, to her business. It therefore makes no sense to have images which suggest poverty or desperation such as the dinghy, the empty pension pot or the rotten tree. Instead, the golden nest egg is much more likely to appeal, as is the picture of the author on the front. However, if she wishes to sell her business in the future, or prefers to delegate consultancy to other partners in the business, then it is probably better not to have her photo on the cover.

Gold, on the other hand, always conveys a ‘success’ message to a reader. (Think about how many bestselling books have gold lettering on the cover for example.) The gold nest egg image instantly conveys that the book is ‘special’ ; the gold lettering also suggests that the book is a bestseller. This image is therefore much more likely to appeal to her target readership.

It always pays to spend time on your book cover, to do your market research, and to have your cover professionally produced. I am constantly seeing amateurish books with clip art on the front, or images that simply aren’t congruent with the target readership. That’s why book ‘make-overs’ and re-branding can work miracles for book sales. If you don’t believe me, try it for yourself. Simply set up a split-test with your book. Keep your old version live on Amazon or Kindle. Then, set up a new version with a different cover and title. I can guarantee, you will soon notice the difference.

For more tips and tricks for producing bestselling books, do sign up for my guide, ‘How to write a six-figure book’ at: http://www.millionaireauthorsbootcamp.com/report

Or alternatively, please contact me for a consultation here at: http://www.oxfordwriters.com.

Why Authors MUST Build A List of Fans Hungry For Their Books

May 17, 2011

Many authors are so focused on writing their books they neglect the bigger picture.

But if you genuinely want to attract a publisher or an agent, you need to go the extra mile to grab their attention.

Here’s a recent question from one of my subscribers that I’d like to share… and my answer:

How would you interpret an agent who writes three paragraphs gushing about how much she enjoyed the writer making so much effort to get her attention and then summing it up with, “However, the book is not for us.” Do you think it’s time to give up?

My reply in brief:

This means exactly what it says on the tin. They love the book, but it’s not for them.
Loosely translated, they can see you’re a great writer, but they don’t feel the passion and excitement that’s essential to represent a book.

No, you definitely should NOT give up. Agents wouldn’t give you the time of day if they didn’t think you had talent.

The current publishing environment is incredibly tough. For this reason, your pitch needs a big dose of ‘oomph!’ or uniqueness to stand out.

For this reason, I strongly recommend building yourself a ‘platform’ or ‘list’ of fans for your writing.

This can be done via social media such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.  This can often sway the case in your favour.

Here’s a different letter from one of my other subscribers which reflects the difference this can make:

My daughter is on the cusp of a book deal. She has an agent after following your advice in your ‘Get an Agent’ course. We found your advice invaluable, especially the advice about creating social networking interest.

Her agent told her that her web presence and web profile was the main factor in taking her on – something we would not have known about had we not attended your workshop.

At a time when some publishers are getting 1000+ manuscripts per week, you need strategies to make yourself and your book stand out from all the others.

If you can persuade them that you already have a following before your book is even published, they will see you are highly motivated, savvy and marketable.

All this can only reflect well on you… and help you land the book deal you deserve.