Showing posts with label howtodoitfrugally. Show all posts
Showing posts with label howtodoitfrugally. Show all posts

Carolyn Howard-Johnson Shares Sell Sheet Secrets

 


By Carolyn Howard-Johnson,
multi award-winning author
of the HowToDoItFrugally Series
of books for writer

 
[Excerpted and abbreviated from a chapter on preparing review copies in my How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically, third in the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series for writers.]
 
Over the years as I worked with clients, I realized that too many authors don’t know about sell sheet and many more undervalue the opportunities they afford. Sell sheets are generally thought of as fliers that get inserted into their free review copies, otherwise known as ARCs. They are printed with a very short pitch (otherwise known as a logline), the book’s metadata, a bio of the author that relates well to the theme or topic of the book, and maybe even a few blurbs (endorsements) the publisher or author has already collected. They act as a one-page website at-the-ready for reviewers.
 
When reviewers prefer e-books, few publishers or authors are savvy enough to send a sell sheet as an attachment with it or, better, rework the e-copy into the very front of the e-book itself. A few of the big publishers do that with a special ARC edition of their paperbacks, too.
 
Are you still wondering why they are so important? A great sell sheet helps the reviewer write the review easily and quickly. But more importantly, it can serve as a kind of guide for them by highlighting the points the publisher (traditional or self-publisher) feels most important. The reviewer is not obligated to follow these subtle suggestions, but they usually incorporate at least a portion of it in their reviews. It also helps the reviewer avoid making mistakes within the review itself.
 
Sell sheets can also be inserted into books used for other marketing purposes. Books sent to bookstore buyers, TV directors, schedulers, feature editors, librarians and more. When appropriate, publishers might add a subtle suggestion that reviews and blurbs are always appreciated or add a Post-it note to that effect. These marketing wonders may be called “sell sheets,” but they are beyond selling. They are useful, professional, and even courteous because they make it easier for recipients to do their work.
 
Ideally sell sheets should be printed in color on glossy paper, 8 ½ x 11, and may be printed on both sides.  Here is what they should include.
 
•    A book cover image.
•    A headshot of the author.
•    Include book and author awards. You're trying to convince people of the quality of the book and expertise of the author.
•    Know your audience and let the sell sheet reader know who that is. No book is for "everyone."
•    Include the BISAC subject heading in your metadata. You'll find them at bisg.org/standards/bisac_subject/index.html. These are the headings that bookstores and librarians use so you might as well do what you can to make their jobs easier when you are selling them on featuring your workshop or having a signing for you, too.
•    Your metadata includes:
        -Your ISBN, both 10 and 13.
        -The book's binding type (perfect, wire, comb, sewn)/
        -How the book might be purchased. (paperback, hardback, jacket, e-book).
        -The book’s dimensions.
        -The book’s page count.
        -When pertinent, include name of the illustrator, their awards, and short bio.
        -Don’t forget the retail price for both US, Canada, and others that may be pertinent.
    Let people know what the book includes:
            *Appendix
            *Glossary
            *Reference
            *Index
            *Bibilography (My publisher is an avid fan of bibliographies for his nonfiction books because that are a mark of professional publishing.)
•    Include review quotes and endorsements, most important and credible first.
•    Include a short author biography. Keep it focused on the author's pertinent platform rather than how many children she has, unless the book is about raising children.
•    Include complete distributor information. That, by the way, is not Ingram, though that info should be there, too. If you don't have a distributor, do your research fast and try to get one that offers a sales force as well as distribution.
•    Include the publisher and how to order directly from them.
•    Mention the author’s speaking ability and the subjects they are qualified to speak on.
You can see that one side sheet will probably not accommodate all the required information. Use both sides. E-mail me at hojonews@aol.com and I will send you a copy of a two-sided professionally produced sell sheet.
 
Hint: You can use sell sheets as fliers at fairs, when you speak and more. When you send out ARCs, you might choose to include the most basic info on a label applied to the inside of the front cover. That way, if the sell sheet gets separated from the book, the recipient is sure to have all the information she or he needs.
 
Don't forget to include a way you can be reached by e-mail. You DO want to be reached, don't you?



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Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, and retailer to the advice she gives in her HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers and the many classes she taught for nearly a decade as instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program. The books in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers have won
multiple awards. That series includes The Frugal Book Promoter  (third edition) and The Frugal Editor (second edition). They garnered awards from USA Book News, Readers’ Views Literary Award, the marketing award from Next Generation Indie Books and others including the coveted Irwin award. How To Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically is the newest book in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers.
 
Howard-Johnson is the recipient of the California Legislature’s Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award, and her community’s Character and Ethics award for her work promoting tolerance with her writing. She was also named to Pasadena Weekly’s list of “Fourteen San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen” and was given her community’s Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts.
                  
The author loves to travel. She has visited ninety-one countries before her passion was so rudely interrupted by Covid. She studied writing at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom; Herzen University in St. Petersburg, Russia; and Charles University, Prague. She admits to carrying a pen and journal wherever she goes. Her website is www.howtodoitfrugally.com.


Trusting Your Own Instincts: Rules Vs. Passion


Trusting Your Own Instincts: Reaching for Your Star

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the
multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers


Advice divvied out to authors by fellow authors often makes me uncomfortable It is, after all advice. Really. Advice almost never applies to all authors, all genres. Even what we think of as “zero-tolerance” disciplines like punctuation and grammar “rules” offer style choices and exceptions. I don’t blame the authors. Many are operating on what they learned decades ago. The things is, the publishing industry is always morphing and that’s especially so in the age of the internet.  And language itself?  It’s a living entity. Shakespeare himself probably knew that the rules for sonnets he followed (or made) would one day be different. He also may not have realized that one day they would be considered sacrosanct.

For instance, nonfiction authors—well respected nonfiction authors—suggest that authors research the need for a topic among their presumed audience, that they check out competitive titles, agents who are looking for a specific topic, and on and on.  Some of it is pretty good advice. What it overlooks is passion. And the joy that passion brings to what we do.

I feel lucky that I hadn’t read this advice when I started my HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers. So here’s my story. I hope it gives a few authors the confidence to follow their dreams. I start this story backwards because the original going-against-advice started back in early 2004 and you, dear reader-author, may not put much stock in anything based on ancient history.  

So, this is 2021.  My series for writers has been prospering since 2004. I started thinking my books had outgrown their own britches—or I had outgrown mine. So, there was a nice person I had worked with way back then partnering with a writer-oriented organization. I had been vaguely aware he was publishing and because Dr. Bob Rich and Diana Raab, two of my online friends, had published with him. One morning when I felt overworked and underappreciated, I picked up the phone and called Victor Volkman, publisher of Modern History Press. No research. No book proposal. Yes, I knew doing it went against all publishing tradition, all common sense. I really expected a no after I gasped, “Do you remember me? We worked together on a podcast some time ago.”

“Yes, he said. And he kept saying “yes.”

The upshot was that he published a full book under his Modern History Press imprint and a slender booklet (a kind of nonfiction chapbook) in less than six months. So, he deserves credit for following…well, his instincts if not his passion. He went by the seat of his pants, here, too.  Two books, both with a September first release date? Really? And both books had been published before. Well, that was gutsy. No matter what you’ve heard about the possibilities of getting a traditional publisher for a self-published book, it is rare. That path is loaded with all kinds of dangers and I am the first one to warn a client of what she might be up against if that is her hope (all the while urging her to follow her star if the book is already published or there are other well-meaning no-nos pointing in the direction of her book, style, or whatever.).

Returning to the early days of The Frugal Book Promoter, I came to realize I had just mirrored an earlier foolish move I made when I first started writing again. It was early-internet days. E-books were just beginning. And the craziest stuff –some of it outrageously unethical—was going around the net in what we called Yahoo writers’ groups and other places. I felt I should be letting people know, maybe teaching, but knew that I didn’t have the graduate degrees necessary. But a friend at a party told me that the world-renowned UCLA Extension Writers’ Program valued practical experience above graduate degrees so…well, I just pitched them a new course based on avoiding the potholes I had just experienced publishing my first fiction effort. Again, no hesitation. “Yes.” And I had a class to teach that fall with no book or e-books written specifically for authors available to use as a text!

That series of books now includes six of them and hundreds of how-to articles. The joy flows. One of the most joyful aspected is helping new writers avoid the same potholes I fell into and maybe rope in successes they would never have had if they hadn’t ignored the rule-makers, the nay-sayers. We have instincts and passions that can work for us. We can be cautious about using them, but we should never ignore them.

Publishing is in big part about trusting our instincts. Publishing is intense. That means writers must learn to take care of themselves. That includes learning more so we become more confident in our own choices, can take better care of our own needs.

Because of my desire to help other authors avoid the pitfalls I had experienced with my novel, I dropped my fiction to write that text. I used a new concept—a chatty text. And I am still chatting through my nonfiction books (gasp!)—and finding some time for fiction and poetry, too. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love more than just one thing in their lives. That’s why we have hobbies—and some of us have one or more children.

And it happened because I didn’t let advice—and fear—deter me. It happened because I did what people should always do when they start something new, I asked for a whole lot of help from my friends. The publishing industry is very traditional but there are a lot of plucky souls in it. Most the authors I know are risk-takers. The authors who aren’t in that category still have manuscripts stowed at the bottom of drawers or the bowels of their computers.

Suggestion for Friends and Writers

Gifts for Writers
Everyone is a writer these days. The ones who aren’t may find my advice to write about what is bothering them helpful for their stress level. Maybe my multi award-winning The Frugal Editor  will help give them the confidence to actually send what they write to the power brokers of the world! Especially when they find that a whole lot of the rules that stifle our creativity aren’t rules at all, that we get to make style choices. Emphasis on the word choices.

The Great First Impression Book Proposal is one of the books my published by my new publisher, this one its second edition.  And now it’s an audiobook, too. I’m including it because it makes the point that sometimes doing something the easy way is the best way. (The subtitle suggests you can learn all you need to know on the topic in thirty minutes or less using this booklet.) A new book on how to make Twitter work for authors is in the planning stages. Watch for it on The Frugal Book Promoter page at Modern History Press or follow me on my Amazon author page at https://bit.ly/CarolynsAmznProfile page for automatic notifications of new books in the series.

 




Gift for Readers
I’m including my newest nonfiction book of poetry because I am making a point that we needn’t give up one passion to pursue another. Imperfect Echoes won a Writer’s Digest honorable mention award. Jim Cox, Editor-in-Chief of Wisconsin Bookwatch says, “[Carolyn Howard-Johnson is] an exceptionally skilled wordsmith, her poetry will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf. Very highly recommended for community and academic library Contemporary American Poetry collections . . .” Find Imperfect Echoes . And, yes, some of the poems in it are a bit risky.



Cover art by Richard Conway Jackson who is serving twenty-five years to life in a California State prison for receiving stolen property.



 

 


Let's Focus on Building Writing Careers

It Isn't About Book Sales: It's About Career Building  By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Adapted from the multi award-winning  flagship book in the HowToDoItFrugally Series of
books for writers, The Frugal Book Promoter, Third Edition

In a writer's world sharing is sometimes as important as the creative aspect of building a book. The trouble is sharing—for many—translates into selling books. Of course, most of us want to do that, but we tend to lose sight of the fact that we will eventually sell a whole lot more books and, in doing so, share with a whole lot more people, if we concentrate on building our careers. Indeed, for some authors with nonfiction books based on their businesses and professions, the whole purpose of the book is to increase credibility and exposure for themselves and careers. For them, their book may be all about their careers, but in that journey they may neglect how important it is for that book to reflect their professionalism at all levels.

What many authors think of when they think of book sales is the kind of hardsell that most would rather eschew. When they decide to do it anyway because they know they should, they may skip learning something about marketing first and their efforts backfire on them. I have a motto: “Never say, ‘Buy my book.’” Keep reading for better ways to market your book and yourself.

Here's the surprise for most everyone but those who have already studied a bit about marketing. Marketing—marketing anything—isn't about selling. Marketing is about knowing your audience and doing stuff that will attract more of a similar demographic. Marketing a book is about finding the people who will benefit and appreciate what the author has to share and then letting those people know how they will benefit (or avoid problems) by reading it. Doing that requires a lot of writing along the way and that's what we do. There is real pleasure in seeing our marketing efforts succeed and seeing our careers build as we do more of it and learn more about it. Here are some ideas of giving-sharing kinds of marketing from the flagship book in my multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers, The Frugal Book Promoter. Each may be used as a part of a launch campaign or to nudge exposure for books that have been around a while.

§  Meet new readers by running a contest on your website, on Twitter, or in your newsletter. Use your books for prizes or get cross-promotion benefits by asking other authors to share their books; many will donate one to you in trade for the exposure. Watch the 99 Cent Stores for suitable favors to go with them.


Hint: Any promotion you do including a contest is more powerful when you call on your friends to tell their blog visitors or Facebook pals about it.

Barter your books or your services for exposure on other authors’ websites. Other authors tend to understand your need to build your career and to sell your books. You'll make long lasting friends doing it.

Offer classes in writing to your local high school, college, or library system. Students can become valued friends and fellow writers. Publicizing the classes is easy and free and helps build your author-name recognition. When appropriate, use your own book as suggested reading. Use your teaching experience in your media kit to show you have presentation skills.

Send notes to your friends and readers asking them to recommend your book to others. Or offer them a perk like free shipping, gift wrap, or small gift if they purchase your book for a friend. That’s an ideal way to use those contact lists—the ones I show you how to build in The Frugal Book Promoter—and to let personal friends share in your exciting publishing adventure.

Some of your reviews (both others’ reviews of your book and reviews you’ve written about others’ books) can be networking experiences. Read that word "networking" as "making friends who want to work with you." Check the submission guidelines for the free review service blog I started to help fellow authors extend the life of their favorite reviews. It's at TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com. There are several review-related opportunities in the tabs at the top of the home page.

Connect and reconnect. Subscribe to new blogs and newsletters to get new ideas, new opinions. Start reading the ones you once subscribed to again. Join a writers’ group or organization related to the subject of your book. Offer to help them with guest articles and blogs. Enter their contests. Communicate on their forums.

When you ship signed copies of your book, include a coupon for the purchase of another copy for a friend—signed and dedicated—or for one of your other books. Some distributors insert fliers or coupons into your books when they ship them for a small fee.
   
Adjust the idea above to a cross-promotional effort with a friend who writes in the same genre as you. She puts a coupon for your book in her shipments; you do the same for her in yours.
   
Be sure your book’s Amazon buy page amplifies the effects of its logarithms and utilizes the benefits they offer through AuthorCentral (also called AuthorConnect).
   
Explore the opportunities for speaking on cruise ships. Many have cut back on the number of speakers they use, but your area of expertise may be perfect for one of them. I tried it, but found ship politics a drawback. Still many authors like Allyn Evans who holds top honors in Toastmasters and Erica Miner have used these venues successfully. Do know, however, that you need a knockout platform including speaking credits.
  
I call reviews forever-reviews because they hang around forever on the web. And because they are forever useful on their own or repurposed as endorsements—yep, even when a book is aging. In fact, I think they are so important to your career that I wrote an entire book on how to get them, how to manage them on places like Amazon, and how to utilize them…well, forever. It is, How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically: The ins and outs of using free reviews to build and sustain a writing career.

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Carolyn Howard-Johnson has been promoting her own books and helping clients promote theirs for more than a decade. Her marketing plan for the second book in the HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers, The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success won the Next Generation Millennium Award for Marketing. The just-released third edition of The Frugal Book Promoter, published by Modern History Press, is New! Expanded! Updated! Her poetry, fiction and nonfiction books have been honored by the likes of Writer’s Digest, USA Book News Award, the Irwin award, Dan Poynter’s Global Ebook Awards and more. Learn more about Carolyn and her books of fiction and poetry. Each of them helped her learn more about maximizing marketing efforts for different writers, different titles. Learn more at www.howtodoitfrugally.com and http://bit.ly/CarolynsAmznProfile.




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