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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Are You Taking Advantage of Amazon's Author Central?

It's like having you're own personal website on Amazon. If a reader is surfing on Amazon for a particular book, that individual should be able to click on the author's name and not only view a list of other books by that author, but a whole section ABOUT the author. Who wouldn't want to have their own space on a site that averages 100 million people visiting per month and generating billions of dollars? Certainly anyone trying to sell books.

Amazon Author Central requires a separate registration from your regular Amazon account. The image below is what you should see on the login home page.

Once you login, you'll see blue tabs across the top for Books, Profile, Sales Info, Customer Reviews, and Help.

Books Tab
You can upload new books as soon as you have a cover image and the ISBN number. There is a Review section where you can post reviews from professional reviewers such as Publisher's Weekly, Library Journal, and RT Book Reviews or other endorsers. You'll also be able to update the book description. An interesting area is a Book Extras tab where you can post information about the individual characters in your novel. The info you place here will be auto-uploaded on Shelfari, an affiliate site that Amazon purchased where individuals post reviews of books. It's similar to Goodreads, and most recently Amazon also purchased Goodreads so upcoming changes will most likely start taking place on that site as well.

Profile Tab
This is where you may update your biography. In this section you may also add your blogs so that the latest blog post will automatically appear. There is an Events section where you can list all your book signings, writer conferences, and speaking engagements. Additionally, you may add author photos, up to eight video book trailers, as well as link your Twitter accounts so that your latest tweet automatically appears.

Sales Info
You can choose to view the sales info of all your books at once your individually across the country and compare states and/or regions. This sales info includes bookstores beyond Amazon, all the ones that report their sales numbers to the BookScan Highlights. If you scroll down below the American map, bar graph of Kindle sales for all books. Below is an image of my Sales info with the numbers blotted out in black.

At this time, this is the best record of sales authors have until they receive their royalty statements from their publishers. Readers will not be able to see this sales info, only what authors post on their profile tab. As you may set your individual brand name for your Facebook page, you may now set a name for your Amazon Author Central page. For example, mine is listed as

Below is a screen capture of my Amazon Central Author page viewed by the public. At the top is my photo and bio. Beneath that on the left is a list of all the books I've authored, summaries, and their purchase info. On the right is an RSS feed of my latest tweet on Twitter. Below that is an RSS feed highlighting my latest 3 blog posts. If you scroll down further, on the right are my video book trailers. 

I highly recommend you create your Amazon Author Central page. Do you already have one established? What are your thoughts about it? If you already have one, are you keeping it updated? Have you found it to be helpful?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

How to Re-frame Your Mindset Beyond the Book Launch

I'm sure agents often feel that new writers expect them to make an award winning deal with a major publisher with all the bells and whistles as soon as they sign a contract to represent them. While that may happen on occasion, the truth is, often it's a standard contract with a publisher that includes a boiler-plate publicity plan--the same one they use for all their new and midlist authors.

I believe the same expectation holds true for publicists. New authors often hope a publicist's efforts will skyrocket their book to all the major bestseller lists and all kinds of bookings on radio, TV and podcasts shows will start pouring in along with major speaking engagements. The truth is, this can happen, but isn't likely. You will receive more publicity than you might through your own efforts. A publicist will raise awareness about your book, sales may increase while your campaign is being launched, but as soon as the campaign is over and excitement about the book fades, so will the sales.

I'm not writing this to depress you, but to educate you on realistic expectations, and to equip you with how best to deal with this reality. Most of us, don't have the funds lying around to keep a permanent publicity campaign going. We would go bankrupt. Yet, for as long as our books are available, they need to sell--and thanks to the changes e-publishing has brought, our digital books will never go out of print. This means your efforts in building your platform will bring even more impact in long-term sales.

My point is this, continue to plan book launch campaigns when you have a new book releasing. These efforts will be crucial in getting your book started just like early preschool education does in a child's success in school and later in life through college and on the job. Early education builds the frame work in how a child learns, changing that becomes much harder later in life once those learning habits have been developed. It's the same way with our book launches as we prepare the frame work for future book sales after the launch.

Major reviews have already been established and uploaded on sites like Amazon, B&N, ChristianBooks, LifeWay and Goodreads. Previous interviews, blog posts, and guests posts will be available on the web for future readers to browse when they are trying to learn more about you. Your presentation has already been established, and therefore, so will the perception of readers when they find your info.

Think beyond the book launch and how you can build on this established platform as you incorporate it into your overall platform with new books. Authors no longer have a back list, they now have an also available list. This is the angle you need to be thinking when writing a marketing plan or planning your publicity promotions.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Our Apology Regarding Our Filtering System Glitch

We noticed in today's Upon the Rock Publicist Daily News that a video was featured from the Chelsea Krost Show on an inappropriate topic that made it through our filters. We do not follow this show on our news feeds, but we do follow the main networks of CNN, New York Times, USA Today and it squeezed through from one of those news feeds or a similar one. As a result, we have updated our filters and would like to extend an apology if any of you were offended. 

This is a new online daily that we have recently set up, and we are still working out the details of what RSS feeds we want to include and which ones should be tweaked under different categories. It automatically filters specific news stories into category headlines from our Twitter account based on our follows and the lists we have created. 

Our goal is to be transparent when accidents like this happen so you will feel comfortable in counting on us to deliver informative news and relevant content as it happens, especially in the publishing industry. We appreciate your understanding and hope you will still subscribe to our new online daily. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Low Down on TweetAdder 4.0 & Warning on Other Twitter Services

Here is the background: On April 6, 2012, Twitter launched a lawsuit against 5 services, 3 of which were Tweet Attacks, Tweet Adder, and Tweet Buddy claiming that the services violated Twitter's spam policy by providing auto follows/unfollows. (More info here and here.) Tweet Adder was the only service of the three to settle with Twitter and agree to provide alternative solutions. The result was TweetAdder 4.0 with significant changes. 

For the record, and in my humble opinion, TweetAdder has never been a spam software nor did it ever encourage users to spam others. What Twitter didn't like about TweetAdder is that it allowed automated following and unfollowing, but that isn't exactly spam. Traditionally, spam has been defined as sending and/or posting unwanted content to people and places who never subscribed or agreed to receive it. Spam is not following and unfollowing people whether manually or automatically, especially when users have the right and the ability to protect their accounts from being followed without prior approval. 

This post is merely meant to provide a little more information to other users who may have been like me and not following this piece of developing news. TweetAdder was not very transparent in the transition of its services, and certainly not forthcoming and honest about the upcoming changes from TweetAdder 3.0 to 4.0 to current users. As a paying customer, I feel like they at least owed me the truth. 

Even if you want to keep using TweetAdder 4.0, comments have been closed on their help blog. Emails are not being returned. Customers are being ignored, and the new upgraded program keeps crashing. I still believe there are some useful features in the new version, if only I could keep it running long enough to find out for sure. 

After May 24, 2013, the former 3.0 version will no longer be supported and may not work for those who currently have it, so reverting back to the old version may not be an option. 

I caution people who are looking for alternatives to invest in. I've seen a lot of people talking about switching to Tweet Attacks and/or Tweet Marketing Robot (aka: Tweet Demon) on forums, the latter now being touted as the TweetAdder alternative. Please do your homework. Tweet Attacks was listed in the lawsuit as well and their services will soon be unavailable, if not already. Then remains the question, how long will Twitter allow Tweet Marketing Robot to keep operating?

If Twitter refuses to allow the use of automated follow/unfollow services, then it is only a matter of time before they go after other services and have them shut down. Therefore, I caution you to consider this before investing money into another service that claims to be similar to TweetAdder's former services. 

In the meantime, I hope TweetAdder will get their act together and start responding to current customer concerns, crashing issues, and do damage control (PR) for the less than professional way they have handled this transition. As others have already stated all over the Internet, I'm disappointed in the WAY TweetAdder handled this situation. 

As Lynn Serafinn posted on a recent blog post: TweetAdder Could have practiced the Grace of Transparency and I couldn't agree more. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Writing the Elevator Pitch to Promote Your Book

When preparing to promote a book, one of the key elements you need to create is the Elevator Pitch, sometimes known as the High Concept Pitch. This is 1-2 sentence(s) that indicates the hero and heroine’s goal and their conflict in reaching that goal. When done well, it works.

The traditional idea of this concept is that you only have someone's attention for the short amount of time that you might be enclosed in an elevator ride with them. Their attention is gone the moment they step off that elevator. 

Fast forward to today and transpose that concept to online promotions. Sometimes we only have a title and enough space for a follow-up sentence in Google and Yahoo search result listings, including Goodreads, LifeWay, Christian Books, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble search result listings. Your High Concept will be floating on the screen in a sea of pages with numerous other High Concept Pitches and you need to do your best to make sure it stands out in the murky waters of the Internet.

Therefore, you will want to write it in such a way that you not only have it memorized so you can speak it to editors and agents at writing conferences and potential readers at book signings, but also so that it will transform on the web anywhere at any time in any format in case the RSS feed or link is picked up by others.

Think of a movie description you might see in the TV Guide and read a few examples.

For pitching a story to editors and agents, your Elevator Pitch should include the word count, genre/subgenre, location setting, time period if it is an historical, hero and heroine's goals, and the danger or obstacle to achieving their goals.

For exampleI've written a 100,000 word novel in 1477 Scotland. A warrior agrees to protect and restore an ancient castle, but a local lass wants him and his warriors to leave before they discover a secret that could destroy her future and her entire village, but as she comes to know him, her heart changes and the danger continues to grow.

Here is a blog post that further details the difference between the Elevator Pitch and High Concept Pitch using the movie, Pretty Woman.

Elevator PitchA no-nonsense businessman hires a hooker to be his date for a week and then falls in love with her, but has to give up his heartless business practices to win her.

High ConceptPretty Woman meets Die Hard on a cruise ship.

Our advice would be to write several of these pitches, have them marked for various uses, as well as a paragraph blurb for the back cover or for descriptions that allows more space. Then as you promote your book launch, you'll have these various concepts that you can quickly copy and paste into responses for promotional material for reviewers, bloggers, interviews, speeches, etc.


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