Friday, January 19, 2018

The Death of a Legend

Dusty Richards presenting Vivian Zabel with award at 2011 OWFI Conference

      Dusty Richards -- the resident OWFI, Arkansas, and national cowboy author and winner of multiple Spur awards -- died Thursday, January 18, following complications suffered in an auto accident a weeks previous.  His ever present and supportive wife Pat, with him in the accident, passed last week. 

      Dusty and Pat will be missed, but at least they are together as they always were in life. 

     I work with words everyday, whether writing or editing or reading, yet I have trouble finding the words needed to give tribute to this legend of the writing world. He mentored many authors, including me.  He attended conferences and workshops in Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas, sharing his wisdom and encouragement. We all lost when Dusty Richards left this life.

     Everyone who knew Dusty has stories to tell. My favorite memories of him are of his handing out awards during the Saturday banquet at Oklahoma Writers Federation Inc. (OWFI) conferences. He enjoyed participating as much as those who received honors did.

     A talented western writer, Dusty won many awards and got to see one of his novels made into a movie. He gave the cowboy stamp to everything he wrote, bringing the words to life and giving readers a glimpse into yesteryear. 

   Although Dusty wasn't connected to 4RV Publishing, he connected to many of us associated with the company. His death leaves a hole in our lives and in our hearts. Using the words of another well-known and beloved cowboy, Happy trails to you, Dusty Richards from all of us at 4RV.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

5 Ways for Authors to Promote Themselves and Their Book(s)

5 Ways for Authors to Promote Themselves and Their Book(s)
 by Vivian Zabel

            Whether an author has a book released through a traditional publisher or goes the self-publishing route, he/she must promote that book. Publishers may point the way, but the author does the work. Promotion may appear overwhelming, but many ways to help a writer promote exist. Now, an author does not try all the methods and tips at once, but one at a time to find what works.
            One tip all promoters suggest is writers must begin promoting themselves before they ever mention a book. Possible readers must know the author and be familiar with the name before they will be interested in any book. In fact, many tips are repeated from source to source.
            This article will cover only five suggestions, but the sources are listed at the bottom of the text. Writers can and should do research to discover their “perfect” way or ways to promote themselves and their book or books.

Promotional Tips and Suggestions

 1. Start early, not too late: Promote yourself by becoming an interesting person, one who shows interest in others. Cathy Presland states, “Comment on threads in Facebook groups or on other people’s threads to build your reputation as an expert.” Using material researched, for background or facts used for a book, to build a reputation as an expert allows an author to “double-dip” with one’s work.
            According to Tony Levelle, a writer should begin as much as three years, or as soon as possible, before any book is released: “… start building a network of supporters and reviewers. Keep track of everyone you meet as you research and write the book. Pay special attention to, and make notes about, those who demonstrate a genuine enthusiasm for you and your project.”
            One problem many authors have, says Brian Feinblum, is they “don’t think about marketing until the book is already written.”

2. Start a blog and a website: Every writer needs a blog and website, before any book is released.
A blog should help build the reputation of the author as an expert in one or more fields. A blog shouldn’t be used to “pound” readers with the book. It shouldn’t be “buy, buy, buy.” It should be somewhere for readers to want to read and learn more about the author and what the author knows and shares. For example, an author could write in-depth posts on a topic researched for his/her book, referencing the book and linking to it at the end of the post. If the book is not finished or even written yet, the author can still post information about the research, creating a useful amount of knowledge over time           
All authors need a website dedicated to themselves and their book or books, which they update regularly. All information should be correct and complete. Tonly Levelle gives a list of what such a website should include:
* A book blog with updates and corrections concerning the book. It should include responces to reader comments and suggestions.
* Sample chapters from the book (I disagree with this one. I suggest using short stories or articles linked to the book).
* A link to where the book could be ordered online.
* The authors media kit.
* Book reviews and blurbs.
* The author’s schedule of appearances, such as at bookstores, speaking engagements, and conferences.
* Contact information.

3. Write an outstanding, well-written book: All the preparation, all the promotion, all the planning in the world means nothing if the book isn’t the best it can be. An exceptional book will create word-of-mouth publicity.

4. Create a Media Kit: According to Levelle, a media kit should include the following information –
·       Professional business cards that include the author’s contact information.
·       A head shot by a professional photographer or talented amateur.
·       A short biography, 100-150 words, to tell readers why the author is qualified to write this book.
·       A “one sheet” with a glassy print of the book cover and a description of the book (think back cover blurb) as well as a few short reviews and recommendations from others.
5. Prepare to do a heavy load of work: Since even well-known, famous authors must promote their book, ALL authors must be prepared to do the major portion of promotion and marketing for their books. Authors should find as much help as possible from anyone and everyone, but authors must realize that the hard work is theirs. [Brian Feinblum]
            Authors can find hundreds of suggestions and tips for promoting and marketing their books. Each should find and use those which work for him/her, trying, and ignoring unusable ones, keeping those that do work.
            A book means the most to the author, and, therefore, the author needs to promote and market his/her book.

               Brian Feinblum, “Promotional Pitfalls,” The Writer, September, 2018 page 16
               Tony Levelle, “15 DIY Book Promotion Tools You Need to Know,”
               Cathy Presland, “50 (and more) Ways to Promote Your Book,”

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Book Marketing – 6 Tips to Give Your Author Platform a Boost

By Karen Cioffi

So, you’re an author. That’s great. But, just writing books isn’t enough – you’ve got to promote you and your books.

The first step to doing this is to have yearly, monthly, and weekly book marketing goals. With goals, you know where you’re heading and can work toward that end.
Marketing goals can be considered a marketing plan and it will have a number of steps or objectives that must be set in motion and accomplished.

To market your book. You need to generate visibility for you and your platform. Six of the bare basic online marketing strategies to increase you visibility are:

1. Create a presence and platform

Creating an online presence and platform is initiated by creating a website. First though, you’ll need to be sure of your niche because the domain name, site title, and content should reflect your niche and/or your area of expertise.

Remember, plan first. Choose a domain name and title that will grow with you. As an example, if you choose a site name, Picture Books with [Your Name], you’ve limited yourself. What if your next book is a chapter book or young adult, or other?

As part of your book marketing strategy, you should also create a ‘hub’ site that will act as the center to your offshoot sites, such as the individual sites for each of your books.

Leave room to grow; it’s always advisable to use your name as the hub site’s title, or part of it.

In addition, with today’s gone-in-a-second attention span, it’s a good idea to keep your site simple. Marketing expert Mike Volpe of points out that it’s more important to spend time, and money if necessary, on content rather than a flashy website design; simple works.

Google verifies this ‘simple is better’ strategy and notes that milliseconds count in regard to your page load time. In fact, Google gives a ‘poorer’ score to pages that are slow to load.

Sites that take a few seconds or more to load may also cause you to lose potential subscribers and buyers.

TIP: You should have an author website up and running before you start submitting you manuscript to publishers or before you self-publish.

2. Increase visibility

Writing content, blog posts, for your readers/visitors is the way to increase visibility – content is definitely still King. Provide interesting, informative, and/or entertaining content that will prompt the reader to come back and, just as important, to share your article.

Also, be sure your content is pertinent to your site, and keep your site and content focused on your platform.

3. Draw traffic to your site with blogging

To draw traffic to your site, promote your posts by using social media. You should also include guest blogging. This will increase your visibility reach.

This is considered organic marketing; it funnels traffic back to your site with valuable content and free offers.

TIP: When using social media, choose two or three networks and ‘work’ them. It’s important to be active on the networks you promote your books on.

You can learn more about using social media at:
The Social Media Marketing Smorgasbord

4. Have effective call-to-actions

Your site must have call-to-action keywords that will motivate readers to visit and click on your links. Keywords and phrases to use include:

- Get your Free gift now for subscribing
- Free e-book to offer on your own site
- Buy Now
- Get Access Now
- Get Started Today
- Join for Free
- Don’t hesitate, take advantage of our expert services
- Be sure to Bookmark this site
- Become a better writer – tips right to your inbox
- Are you blogging wrong? Find out how to do it right!
- Know what email marketing is? Find out here!

You get the idea, motivate the reader to want what you’re offering and give him/her a CLEAR and VISIBLE call-to-action. Make it as simple as possible for the visitor to buy what you’re offering.

You can also check out this article from Hubspot for more ideas on CTAs:
Great Call-to-Action Examples

5. Develop a relationship with your readers
It’s been noted that only 1% of first time visitors will buy a product. Usually, only after developing a relationship through your newsletter, information, and offers will your potential customer or client click on the BUY NOW button or other call-to-action you have in place.

While it will take some time and effort to implement and maintain these strategies, it will be worth it in the long run. Think of it as a long-term investment.

6. Create an ebook for increased visibility and opt-in enticement

Another strategy is to offer your readers an ebook relevant to your niche. This will help to increase your usefulness to the reader and help establish your authority.

As an author, you might offer a chapter or an excerpt of your book in ebook format.

So, there you have it - six tips on boosting your book marketing results.

This is a revised reprint from 2013.

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author, children’s ghostwriter, and online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing. For must-know writing and marketing tips, get free access to The Writing World.


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