When your book publishes can be just as important as what you're publishing. The date you and/or your publisher chooses to release the book is an integral part of your marketing plan. If you're afforded the luxury of choosing or influencing your publication date, here are just a few things to keep in mind:
- Bookstore buyers want (and need) to know about a book six to eight (or more) months before publication. That means if you want your book in stores for the holiday season, you need to be ready with your PR and marketing plan no later than April. Then, you'll need to make sure you have books in hand by October so they make it through the retail pipeline and into stores before Thanksgiving.
- What are your competitors doing? Do you have speaking engagements planned? Are there yearly industry conferences or trade shows you need to be prepared for? Those dates are important so make sure you have books well in advance of any deadlines.
- Self-help and dieting books do best between the winter holiday and summer swimsuit season. New year, new you!
- Think outside the box. Is the industry expectation for your genre to publish in a specific month? You may want to try a few months earlier (in conjunction with a strong marketing and PR plan) and generate buzz by beating others to the punch!
- Cookbooks are hot year-round, but there are seasonal trends. Cookbooks with an entertaining spin do best around major holidays, BBQ and salads in summer months, and baking in fall and winter. Know when and were to look for evergreen marketing opportunities for your book.
And maybe most importantly, don't rush for the sake of rushing! When will you be best prepared to bring quality content with a well-planned marketing and publicity strategy to market? That’s when you should publish your book.
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The cover of a book is arguably the strongest marketing tool at an author’s disposal. It is the element of a book that is most likely to get a reader to stop, look again, and pick up the book.
The cover is a chance for the author to convey the ideas found within the pages in one fell swoop. And I emphasize the word swoop, as readers that are walking past a bookstore shelf or scrolling through online search results are not spending time studying your cover – they are glancing at it. And a few seconds are all you get to grab their attention.
It is not enough for a cover to be beautiful – it must also be marketable. An author should think about several aspects when determining the best cover for their book – target audience, name recognition, branding – but the best way to start is by asking four important questions:
Is the imagery engaging?
Photos, illustrations, and even type-driven designs can be used to create an image on a cover that is meant to hook the reader. The key here is to focus not on the aesthetics, but on the engagement. This means that when a reader looks at your cover, they are drawn in. They become curious. They want to know what is happening inside.
An example is Aberrations by Penelope Przekop – a fiction title about a woman’s hidden past. The cover makes use of gorgeous colors, but there are two things that make it stand out: the rose is blue, a color that does not exist in nature, and below the rose you see, not another flower, but red curls of hair.
The word Aberrations means something that departs from the expected, and this cover certainly does. It makes a reader wonder what is going on. Why is that rose blue? Whose hair is that? Why is it slightly tangled? What happened to her? The reader is intrigued by the cover – and then they pick it up.
Is the imagery distinctive?
Certain genres of books have certain consistent design elements. However, on a crowded shelf, it greatly helps if your book cover stands out as unique.
The book Reversing The Senses by Martin Hubbard is a business title that teaches readers to access their internal resources in order to achieve success. Within the business genre, however, the cover is unconventional due to the colorful graphic of the mirrored faces. This striking image catches your eye and makes a reader pause for a moment and consider that the insights in the book might be as exceptional as the packaging. And then they pick it up.
Does the text pop?
The text on the cover is also an essential element to consider. A good rule to follow is to place the cover a few feet away and see if you can easily read the text. Are the letters large enough? Is there enough contrast? Does the text appear on a part of the cover that is not too busy with other images? The title should pop! And a reader should be able to read it at a glance.
Playing with text can also be a way to increase engagement. For example, About Jenga by Leslie Scott is a business/history title about the entrepreneurism behind the game of Jenga. The bold white text on the solid black background makes the title highly visible, but by placing the subtitle in a smaller font on top of a graphic element, it encourages a reader to look a little closer to discover what the book is all about. And then they pick it up.
Does the cover accurately reflect the content?
A final, and very important, element to consider is the connection between the cover and the content of the book. It is vital that once the reader is hooked, and they pick up your book, the actual topic is what they are expecting and looking for. If you attract the wrong audience for your book with a flashy cover that doesn’t truly reflect your work, you’ll end up with a lot of disappointed readers. Keep the cover true to your content and you can’t go wrong.
To receive more great publishing insights every month, be sure to sign up for the Greenleaf email newsletter. Happy reading!
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Are you a new blogger? Feeling a bit overwhelmed? No worries: these three simple tips will help you learn the ropes.
• Frequency. You don't have to blog every day. You don't even have to blog every other day. But you should plan on blogging consistently, at least once a week. Pick a day, stick to it, and build up to more frequent posting. When your readers know when to expect new content from you, they seek out that content.
• Content. Blog about what you know, and produce useful and unique content. Provide your readers with something entertaining, educational, and/or informational, that they aren’t getting anywhere else and they'll keep coming back for more.
• Length. Typical web readers have the attention span of goldfish (apologies to any goldfish reading), so don't try to break any records for longest blog post. It's generally accepted that more than 250 words but less than 1,000 is a reasonable length for a blog post.
For more blogging tips and advice, this article from ProBlogger is an oldie but a goodie.
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All of us at Greenleaf Book Group send congratulations and best wishes to our authors who have books launching in August!
Lifeguard, Babysitter, Executioner by Daren Fristoe
Don't Judge a Lizard by His Scales by Dan Dugi, Jr.
Norbert: What Can Little Me Do? by Julie Freyermuth
Refined by Fire: Book One in the Guardians of Peace Series by Ruth VanDyke
The Reboot with Joe Juice Diet Cookbook by Joe Cross
The Elephant Gates by Chamalee Weeratunge
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On August 21, I’ll be leading a Free Webinar about “How to Rock Social Media Before, During, and After an event.” If you like what you read here, join me then for more tips and a deeper dive. Register free here: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5786061554153561345
“The event was awesome and I learned a lot, but I didn’t get to talk to everyone I wanted to, I totally forgot to use Twitter, and I’m way too exhausted to even look at the pile of business cards in my suitcase, let alone follow up with anyone. Bleeee-cchhhh!”
Sound familiar? That’s a friend of mine feeling overwhelmed and venting after an event, feeling like he missed out on the opportunity. Maybe you’ve thought something like that yourself on the trip home.
Events are great networking opportunities, but almost everyone I talk to feels like there must be something more they can do to take advantage of the opportunity. Guess what?
How do you maximize your impact and develop your platform while you’re at an event without missing out on all the great sessions and networking going on?
Read on for a few ideas to get you thinking. In the “How to Rock Social Media Before, During, and After an Event” later this month, I’ll dig deeper into these and many other ideas for what any author with a smart phone and a little creativity can do!
Platform Development During an Event
· Use #Hashtags: Twitter is a great network for events, and one of the easiest ways to build your online platform is to add the event #Hashtag to tweets you post during that event. For example, at last year's Greenleaf Author Summit, we used #AuthorSummit. These tweets were automatically logged by Twitter here: https://twitter.com/hashtag/AuthorSummit?src=hash. Any attendee could add this hashtag to their tweets, making it easy for them to connect to other attendees, or be a resource for folks who were not at the summit, but who wanted to keep up on what we were talking about.
· Ask Questions: Savvy social media users will be monitoring their social media accounts during an event. That means Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, and their blog comments. If you see a great session or have a great conversation with someone in the hallway or at the networking cocktail hour, there's no need to wait until a week later to reconnect. If you have a follow up question for that person, post it during the event. Even if they don't answer you during the time-crunch of the event, it's a great way to stand out during the follow-up period after the event.
· Get a Little Personal: One of the best things about events is that you are in the same space as dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of other people who are excited and energetic about the same general things you are. It's exciting, and you don't want to spend too much time hunched over your cell phone in the corner. But! You can do a lot for your platform by showing your excitement and gratitude online to the people you meet. On Twitter, that means tweeting a thank you for that great conversation you had or the session you just attended. On a blog, that can mean leaving a comment on a recent post by a speaker you like, the director you met, or a new contact you had a great connection with.
There are many more ways to supercharge your platform during an event, and it's a great chance to get creative. Join me on August 21st when I'll dive deeper into the tips above, plus many others, at our Free Webinar. Register here: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5786061554153561345
Have a favorite method you want to share? Tweet them to @GreenleafBookGr with the hashtag #GreenleafWebinar.