New book: The Man Who Talks to Strangers

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By Caleb Pirtle III

Caleb Pirtle III has traveled down many back roads and dead end streets during his writing career as newspaperman, magazine editor, and author. He collects people. More accurately, he collects their stories. Some call him a writer. He calls himself a thief. He says, “I steal their stories, write, and publish them.”

He has written a memoir of sorts about many of those whose paths he crossed – from the down and out to national celebrities, from country music stars to death row inmates, from hit men and lawyers to farmers who struck it rich when the oil fields broke the Great Depression that gripped East Texas.

You will find a mesmerizing collection of the famous, the notorious, the unknown. Pirtle’s stories will make you laugh and cry and feel good about mankind. Some are hard edged. Some prick and warm the heart. He says, “What happens is never as important as the people who make it happen,” and those in his memoir are not easy to forget. As one reviewer said, “His writing reads like short stories of literary fiction. They’re not quite like anything you’ve read before.”

Pirtle believes his whole life has hinged on one simple fact. He’s the man who talks to strangers wherever he happens to find them.

Get The Man Who Talks to Strangers on Amazon.

About the author

Caleb Pirtle III is the author of more than seventy books, including the Ambrose Lincoln series: Secrets of the DeadConspiracy of Lies, Night Side of Dark and Place of Skulls.

Pirtle is a graduate of The University of Texas in Austin and became the first student at the university to win the National William Randolph Hearst Award for feature writing. Several of his books and his magazine writing have received national and regional awards.

Pirtle was a newspaper reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and served ten years as travel editor for Southern Living Magazine. He was editorial director for a Dallas custom publisher for more than twenty-five years.

Get to know Caleb at his:

And follow him on Twitter @CalebPirtle.

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Thursday teaser: The Complete Mailing List Toolkit

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By Barb Drozdowich

Welcome to The Complete Mailing List Toolkit part of an ongoing series of author “how-to” books, which is designed to help you navigate the technical issues of self-publishing. This box set specifically focuses on how to create optimized reader newsletters, how to grow your mailing list, how to ensure your newsletter arrives in inboxes and how to master email marketing services such as MailChimp.

I will use the word “communication” a lot in this box set. I feel to be successfully engaged with your audience, you must communicate with them, not simply bombard them with email and social media posts. Whereas many experts focus on simply gaining subscribers, I argue that this is too narrow of a focus.

Why this book?

Two reasons:

  1. This book is well researched and pulls information from many different schools of thought, and
  2. I take a holistic view of communicating with readers.

Initially, my intention with this box set was to collect information from a wide variety of sources and condense it into a neat and easy-to-understand package for you. However, as I was researching, my opinion changed. I found that much of the information available online and in various webinars seemed to miss the boat in terms of accuracy, while others just seemed fixated on adding people to a mailing list like hoarders would add one more item to a collection. They weren’t looking at their readers as individuals, nor were they treating them as such.

I wanted to create something more “bigpicture-ish” (is that a word?)—that looks at all aspects and all facets,of communicating with readers using newsletters. Hence the box set. For authors who just want to attack one part of this puzzle, the books are available individually, but my wish is that they are all read together.

I come from a background of technical training and while I’m certainly comfortable with technology. I tend to be holistic in my view. I want to break subjects down into manageable sections, and I don’t want to skip topics because they are difficult to explain. I feel that I haven’t done my job unless I can explain complicated things and make them relevant to you. I’m holistic in terms of looking at one subject within a larger context.

In terms of communicating with readers, I don’t focus on only one part of the puzzle in this box set. I want you to understand why I suggest using shorter subject lines for a newsletter. I want you to understand why entertaining readers, is as important as communicating with them. I want you to understand why it is necessary to use an Email Marketing System right from the get go to communicate with readers. I want you to understand how to work within the laws that govern your actions when you communicate with readers. I want to explain why the technical aspects that many overlook are really important to success in your endeavors.

Most importantly, I want you to understand that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all methods of communication. The way you communicate with a teenager isn’t the way you would communicate with a senior. The material that fans of romance are interested in is not likely to be the same as fans of horror. I want you to learn what your audience wants, not take the advice of an expert without thinking about it and without testing it out. I want you to learn to talk WITH your audience, not AT your audience. I want you to see your readers as more than a wallet.

Seems like I have a huge objective! We are going to break the subject of communicating with readers down into four books. In the first book we are going to address the topic of gathering the names of interested readers. We’re going to view it as something other than hoarding.

Next we’ll learn to use MailChimp really well. There are many Email Marketing Services, but MailChimp is the most popular with folks just starting out. If you have already chosen a different service, note that the lessons in this section are transferable to other services.

In the third book we’re going to talk about making sure that our newsletters actually end up in the inbox of our readers. This book will be fairly technical, but you’ll have a good understanding of why best practices are what they are.

Finally, in the last book, we’re going to talk about how to create really great content that is appropriate for our readers. We’ll bring in some science, some psychology, and some good old-fashioned marketing to help you form a plan for going forward.

I guess it is too soon to say that I’ve really enjoyed writing these books … but I hope that you appreciate my efforts and learn to be better communicators with your readers!

About The Complete Mailing List Toolkit

Is a broken mailing list holding back your author career? Discover how to transform your marketing and attract dedicated readers.

Does emailing your subscribers feel like shouting into the void? Are you struggling to come up with newsletter ideas that resonate with readers? Author consultant Barb Drozdowich has spent decades teaching writers how to navigate the technological pitfalls of publishing. Now, she’s here to help you master your mailing list.

The Complete Mailing List Toolkit provides a holistic approach to reader engagement through the power of direct communication. This bundle of four essential books provides strategies for list building and step-by-step guidelines for creating content that turns readers into lifelong fans. Through a series of easy-to-follow explanations, you’ll finally discover how to optimize your use of MailChimp and revolutionize your author platform.

In The Complete Mailing List Toolkit, you’ll discover:

  • How to create attractive newsletters your readers will eagerly anticipate
  • How to troubleshoot deliverability issues so you can reach more readers
  • How to understand and measure open and click rates to gauge your success
  • How to tailor your message to meet the needs of your unique audience
  • Why quality engagement matters more than subscriber quantity, and much, much more!

The Complete Mailing List Toolkit is your how-to guide for mastering email outreach and connecting with more fans. If you like practical solutions, down-to-earth explanations, and empowering guidance from an industry expert, then you’ll love Barb Drozdowich’s career-changing box set.

Find it on Amazon.

About the author

Social Media and WordPress Consultant Barb Drozdowich has taught in colleges, universities and in the banking industry. More recently, she brings her 15+ years of teaching experience and a deep love of books to help authors develop the social media platform needed to succeed in today’s fast evolving publishing world. She delights in taking technical subjects and making them understandable by the average person. She owns Bakerview Consulting and manages the popular blog, Sugarbeat’s Books, where she talks about Romance novels.

She is the author of 15 books, over 45 YouTube videos and an online WordPress course, all focused on helping authors and bloggers. Barb lives in the mountains of British Columbia with her family.

She can be found on her

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Monday musings: Coloring in the literary map

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Photo credit: Porsche Brosseau (Creative Commons)

The beginning of July is the opening of a season of national celebrations. For writers and readers, it’s both an opportunity and a danger.

July 1 last Saturday was Canada Day, the celebration of the establishment of Confederation in British North America in 1867. Of course, tomorrow is the Fourth of July, the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. The 14th is Bastille Day in France, the observance of the beginning of the French Revolution that eventually would make France into the democracy it is today.

Wikimedia Commons

Around the world, there are national celebrations coming up in July: Rwanda, Armenia, Algeria, Venezuela, Argentina, South Sudan and South Korea are just some of the countries are celebrating some kind of national, independence or some kind of national creation event.

July is a busy month for patriots.

Opportunity

For writers and readers, the annual national celebration is an opportunity to explore what it means to be a Canadian, American, French, South Sudani or whatever you are. To examine what makes your country what it is, to look at the successes and failures of the past, the opportunities and threats. To connect with fellow citizens, and to engage with others around the world.

Danger

The danger is obvious: an orgy of embarrassing boosterism, of “we’re the best,” and disrespect and rejection of other countries, cultures and ways of life. Even more dangerous is the insistence of a particular definition of a single, narrow aspect of a culture as the only legitimate one.

When this becomes the basis of a story, book or movie, it’s embarrassing. When it becomes the basis of a political movement, it’s destructive.

So what’s the solution? To me, it’s always been to broaden my view, to learn more about as many different people, countries and cultures as I can, to seek the commonality and the constructive everywhere. It’s one reason I like to travel.

Photo: Wilerson S. Andrade Creative Commons License

The previous editor of this blog, Kathleen Valentine (RIP) had a project to read a book from a different country every week or month or so. It’s a great idea, and something I have been toying with for some time.

I have read books by authors from

  • Canada (well, duh)
  • the U.S.A. (hard to avoid)
  • Mexico (completing my North American coverage)
  • the U.K. (also hard to avoid)
  • France
  • Germany
  • Columbia
  • Russia
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Australia
  • Israel
  • Yemen
  • Spain
  • Sweden

Fifteen out of 196. Not a good proportion, so I am going to start trying to expand that.

How many countries can you color in on your literary map?

What about you, readers?

If we were to color in countries on a map where BestSelling Reads member authors live, we’d have four to shade. This is something we’re working on expanding.

But what about you? How many countries can you color in on your map of literary exploration?

Share in a Comment.

 

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Monday musings: Travel and inspiration

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“Where do you get your ideas from?” Cecily Pigeon (or maybe it was Gwendolyn) asked Felix Unger in Neil Simon’s play, The Odd Couple.

It’s a question every writer gets. While Felix, who wrote news for TV, could answer “From the news!” for fiction writers, it’s more complicated—and, I think, more fun.

There are any number of things that can spark an idea for a creative writer of fiction—or even non-fiction. Sights, sounds, smells, stories, experiences; the way a shadow moves over a wall as a car’s headlights sweep past; the way a friend hesitates before answering a question; the shouts of spectators at a football game; even the way clouds move across a darkening sky.

I just returned from a trip to the Czech Republic, where so many sights, sounds and experiences sparked ideas for different types of stories, I could barely write them down fast enough to remember them. In fact, I’m certain I’ve forgotten a lot.

Have you ever done that writing exercise, where you base a story on a picture? Here are a few images that can prove evocative.

This is an old palace in the Moravian town of Telc. Castles and palaces are easy. What does it make you think of? A story about a princess and a cruel king in medieval times? How about lost treasure buried deep in hidden passages, or a horrible family secret?

Here’s a picture taken from the plane on the way back. Those are the mountains of Greenland—yes, Greenland! This can evoke stories of lost explorers, or refugees fleeing persecution in a warm climate. How about a story about climate change? Reach deeper: the relationship between humanity and the infinite.

Here’s a shot of street performers in Prague. What story would you write about this? What if I told you they were playing “Stairway to Heaven”?

A new story

My favourite story idea from this trip to Prague came like pulling on the tiny end of a thin thread. You know how it is: First, the bit of thread you can reach is so short, you can barely grasp it. Pulling on it is as likely to make it slip from between your fingers as to pull it longer, but bit by bit, you get a better grip. Then it comes out, faster and faster, fuller and fuller.

I had an idea like that after attending a “black light” performance, a uniquely Prague form of entertainment. Not so much ideas of events or characters came from that, but more a feeling that Prague evoked in me: a city that at the same time presents mystical, almost magical impressions, as well as a long tradition of modernism and commitment to science, rationality, humanism and science.

What about you? What inspires ideas for stories in your mind? Do you have a picture you’d like to send to your favourite author to see what they might come up with? Leave a Comment.

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Easter Monday Musings: Do you love to talk about books?

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Do you love to talk about books? One thing I’d like to do is drink a cup of coffee and talk about books with readers and writers.

I love chatting with readers, but I want more than the usual “Where do you get your ideas from?” I’d like to hear about more specific aspects of the reading experience.

What do you like to talk about when it comes to your favorite books or favorite writers?

What about characters? Do you want the stock heroes and heroines, the Jack Reachers and Jets, the ones who can defeat any foe without question? Or do you prefer the kind of protagonist with weaknesses, flaws, who isn’t certain to win every contest?

What about stories? Many romances today follow the arc of 50 you-know-what: smart, educated but poor young woman meets gorgeous but damaged billionaire. After overcoming several barriers, their love blooms. Does that still have you flipping pages (or swiping left on your e-reader)? Or are you yearning for something different.

Personally, I find the boundaries between genres annoying. In recent years, there has been a profusion of books that combine, or cross, the paranormal or fantasy and romance genres. Do you like that? Are there genres that you’d like to see combined? How about horror and steampunk?

Or what about creating a new genre? What are the books that you’d like to read, but haven’t been written yet?

I also want to know what you want to hear from authors. Are there specific questions, like “Why does the heroine go into that room when she knows the axe murderer is hiding in there?” Or “Why doesn’t he just ask her out, already?”

So tell me what appeals to you in your favourite books, and ask me—or any BestSelling Reads member author—what you’d like to know.

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Monday Musings: The challenges of writing historical prose

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by Scott Bury

It’s just one word out of a hundred thousand, but it can stop a writer. Sometimes, the search for one right word can take longer than writing a hundred pages.

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That happens to me a lot when writing books based on history, whether it’s my historical fantasy, The Bones of the Earth, or my World War II trilogy, Walking Out of War.

If you get a historical fact wrong, the readers will let you know.

alliedtravelpass-tovienna-inside

The facts are essential

The challenge for the writer is to make every story immediate — to put the reader today into the story, even when it takes place a half-century or a millennium ago. The key to making the story real to the readers is the little details.

These can seem inconsequential — like what kind of side-arms Soviet army officers carried, or who the Eastern Roman Emperor was in 593 CE. But when you get to that point, you realize you have no idea what you’re writing about.

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A good example came up when I was writing Army of Worn Soles, the story of my father-in-law Maurice Bury. A Canadian citizen, he got drafted by the Soviet Red Army just before Nazi Germany launched Operation Barbarossa, the largest land invasion in history.

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Maurice told me a lot about his experiences in the war so that I could write his story as a book. I wrote a draft that had a lot of the facts and the whole sweeping epic, but he passed away before I could finish it. That left a lot of details wanting.

Like what the Red Army’s anti-tank gun looked like in 1941.

It took a long time to work out. Google and Wikipedia to the rescue! But it wasn’t that simple.

Try Googling “Red Army anti-tank gun 1941” and you’ll get conflicting information of various levels of reliability. The Soviets used more than one type of anti-tank gun. Which one did Maurice command? Finding that out required going deeper than Wikipedia, and careful reading of the notes I took when Maurice was alive.

There’s nothing like hard copy

My current work-in-progress is the third volume of Maurice’s story, Walking Out of War. I got stuck in the postwar period. After Maurice fought in the Battle of Berlin, he left the Red Army to return home to Montreal. He told me how he walked from Berlin to Munich, found a D.P. camp in Ingolstadt, Germany, and then in Landeck, Austria. Finally, he met other Ukrainian people in Vienna who helped him get the necessary permits to return to Canada. But when exactly did all this happen? What did he do to survive in the interim?

Then I found some of the most interesting items I have ever seen in my life. In Maurice’s papers, pushed to the back of a desk drawer, was an old, tattered wallet with his ID papers — some as a schoolboy in Poland. There were two D.P. identification cards, a letter from the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration Displaced Persons Centre Kufstein, another authorizing Maurice to travel to Vienna to arrange his transfer to Canada, and more.

The most interesting were the travel permits authorizing Maurice to go from the Landeck D.P. camp to Vienna, and another from Austria to Canada. What’s most interesting is that they’re dated in early 1947 — nearly two years after the end of the fighting in Europe.

So what did Maurice do for those two years?

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Another mystery to solve.

Walking Out of War, the third part of the trilogy, is nearly complete and will be published by the Written Word Communications Co. and Independent Authors International by the end of 2016.

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Thursday Teaser: Blogging for Authors

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By Barb Drozdowich

You could WIN a free e-copy of Blogging for Authors. Find out how at the end of the excerpt.

AT ITS HEART, blogging is just another form of communication. In my mind there isn’t a lot of difference between blogging and having a chat with some friends over a cup of coffee. You’ll notice that I’m using the words “chat” or “conversation.” When we’re talking about blogging, I want you to keep the word “dialogue” in mind.

A blog is neither a billboard, nor a monologue. Blogging should be a dialogue.

Although I refer to the words “conversation” and “dialogue,” your first response may be that no one talks on your blog, or that no one leaves comments for you to respond to. Times have changed.

The face of a conversation has changed in the electronic world. The person with whom we are chatting may not literally respond with words – they might respond with actions such as sharing your post with their friends on Facebook. They are doing the electronic equivalent of “Come over here and listen to this person.” The electronic version is more along the lines of “This is great information; please go and read it.” That’s a response and in the big picture, that’s a much more important response. Although I’m the first one to admit that comments are wonderful, such interaction is between two people. I have 16,000+ followers on Twitter. If I share on Twitter, it’s pretty likely that more people than just myself will be part of the conversation. It’s also pretty likely that a handful of my 16,000+ followers will join in, in their own way.

If you have a WordPress blog, one of the people you are “speaking” to might click on the Like button or in fact be so moved by what you have to say that they re-blog it. And the conversation grows to include even more people.

The author’s blog is a space that belongs to the author – unlike Facebook, Twitter or other social media. The author’s blog is also searched and indexed by Google unlike the various social media (for the most part). This allows for your conversations to be searched for and found long after they take place. This isn’t true of any material that you put on most social media. In fact, a post on your blog can be found years after it’s created. The accepted shelf life of a Facebook post is considered to be between two and five hours and the shelf life of a Twitter post is 18 minutes. A LinkedIn post can have a shelf life of up to 24 hours in some cases.

An author’s blog is the place where the author can share with their community; the place they can start or continue conversations and have dialogues. This is the place that the dialogue will grow a community of friends and supporters – people with like interests who will help spread the word about your book.

What’s Blogging for Authors all about?

Are you an author who needs to learn more about blogging?

Do you feeling uncertain about technology or what to blog about?

Finding that all-important reader is the key to an author’s success. Many studies shows that blogging is a great way to connect with readers because at it’s heart, blogging is just another form of communication.

Blogging for Authors covers all aspects of blogging from what to write to how to navigate today’s technology

In this book you will learn:

* Why authors need to blog

* What topics authors should blog about

* How to choose a platform to blog on

* How to create the ideal blog post

* How to manage sidebars and widgets

* How to keep your site safe and up to date

˃˃˃ And there is more!

Blogging for Authors contains links to 26 free instructional YouTube videos as well as a coupon for money off my newly created WordPress for Beginners Course – the perfect tool for authors & bloggers. This course is an online program specifically designed with beginner authors/bloggers in mind.

Pick up this great deal today from Amazon and approach blogging with confidence.

How to win a free e-copy

If you’re an author, tell us your biggest blogging challenge in the Comments section below. Author Barb Drozdowich will choose a commenter at random for a free e-copy of Blogging for Authors.

About the author

BarbDrozdowichPicSocial Media and WordPress Consultant Barb Drozdowich has taught in colleges, universities and in the banking industry. More recently, she brings her 15+ years of teaching experience and a deep love of books to help authors develop the social media platform needed to succeed in today’s fast evolving publishing world. She delights in taking technical subjects and making them understandable by the average person. She owns Bakerview Consulting and manages the popular blog, Sugarbeat’s Books, where she talks about Romance novels.

She is the author of 9 books, over 25 YouTube videos and an online WordPress course, all focused on helping authors and bloggers. Barb lives in the mountains of British Columbia with her family.

Visit her:

And follow her on Twitter @sugarbeatbc.

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Win a Book Wednesday! Book Blog Tours: An Essential Marketing Tool for Authors

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Welcome to Win A Book Wednesday!

Leave a comment to enter to win a copy of Book Blog Tours: An Essential Marketing Tool for Authors, 2nd Edition. Hot off the press – published on  Amazon yesterday! This new edition covers both tours carried out by tour companies as well as DIY tours. Filled with helpful tips and even spreadsheets to help you organize your next tour!
BD_coverdesign05_FINALWhat’s your verdict on Book Blog Tours? 

Great idea…or a waste of time and money?

Not sure what a book blog tour can do for your visibility as an author or the promotion of your book? Are you considering trying out a Book Blog Tour to market your newest release? Do you want a primer that will help you take confident steps into the book promotion world?

Book Blog Tours teaches you about Tours (either hired or DIY) from the point of view of a Blogger and a Reader?

Book Blog Tours covers topics such as:

  • The Hows and Whys of book blog tours
  • Book Marketing on blogs
  • How to set goals for a blog tour
  • Giveaways from the point of view of a blogger and a reader
  • How to plan a DIY blog tour
  • Contains spreadsheets and checklists that will help you organize your tour

˃˃˃ Work your way through the topic of book blog tours in a step-by-step fashion, both from the point of view of hiring a service as well as the DIY type of tour.

Book Blog Tours looks at blog tours differently than other books. This book challenges commonly held beliefs and has you thinking and planning before acting on your next tour.

Book Blog Tours is available on Amazon

*****

BarbDrozdowichPicSocial Media and WordPress Consultant Barb Drozdowich has taught in colleges, universities and in the banking industry. More recently, she brings her 15+ years of teaching experience and a deep love of books to help authors develop the social media platform needed to succeed in today’s fast evolving publishing world. She owns Bakerview Consulting and manages the popular blog, Sugarbeat’s Books, where she talks about Romance – mostly Regency.

She is the author of 6 books and over 20 YouTube videos all focused on helping authors and bloggers. Barb lives in the mountains of British Columbia with her family.

 

Author Website: http://barbdrozdowich.com

Business Blog: http://bakerviewconsulting.com

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/BarbDrozdowichAuthor

Twitter: http://twitter.com/sugarbeatbc

Google+: https://plus.google.com/110824499539694941768/posts

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/sugarbeatsbooks/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7234554.Barb_Drozdowich

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSgVt36XlVAHWj5dkSd0Zyw

Tech Hints Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/DfCRj

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Barb-Drozdowich/e/B00EN3CIDM/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2?qid=1437240887&sr=1-2

 

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Win A Book Wednesday The Author’s Platform: The Beginner’s Guide

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Welcome to Win A Book Wednesday! Leave a comment below and enter to win a copy of the Author’s Platform: The Beginner’s Guide

166_0.667498001436562231_wyap_cv_hrCreating buzz for your book and your career as an author just got easier.

‘The Author’s Platform’ will help you create, understand and use a powerful author platform to sell books!

Social Media and WordPress Consultant Barb Drozdowich will steer you through the technology behind book marketing without all the techno-speak. She has helped many authors just like you build an author platform that engages readers and builds sales.

This book will help you decode the mystery behind building a powerful author brand and navigating the social media platforms essential to publishing success

‘The Author’s Platform’ teaches you why you need the various facets of the author platform to build visibility. Barb uses a simple analogy, Operation Book, to help you understand the steps to successful book marketing in the media age. She covers: 

  • The Difference between a Website and a Blog
  • The Important Items Your Blog Should Contain
  • The Nine Essential Social Media Platforms
  • Newsletters
  • Amazon’s Author Central and many more

˃˃˃ With simple-to-follow steps, Barb will help you create, understand and use an Author Platform to support your career.

Available on Amazon

Barb’s note: 

The whole point of this book was to create something that wouldn’t be intimidating to beginner authors, yet give them enough information to get started building their platform and get ready to move to the next level of understanding about promoting their book. If you have an author like that in your circle, please pass this book on to them as it truly is written at the primer level!

*   *   *

BarbDrozdowichPicSmallerSocial Media and WordPress Consultant Barb Drozdowich has taught in colleges, universities and in the banking industry. More recently, she brings her 15+ years of teaching experience and a deep love of books to help authors develop the social media platform needed to succeed in today’s fast evolving publishing world. She owns Bakerview Consulting and manages the popular blog, Sugarbeat’s Books, where she talks about Romance – mostly Regency.

She is the author of 6 books and 25 YouTube videos all focused on helping authors and bloggers. Barb lives in the mountains of British Columbia with her family.

Barb can be found:

Author Website  |    Business Blog  |   Facebook Author Page

Twitter  |    Google+   |   Pinterest   |   Goodreads 

YouTube Channel

Tech Hints Newsletter

*   *   *

Excerpt:

Website or Blog

 

Let’s start with the hub of your author platform—your website or blog. These words are often used interchangeably but can actually denote separate things. Let’s define.

Usually the word “website” refers to a static site on the Internet containing information that isn’t changed frequently. A programmer or web designer versed in HTML coding usually makes the changes on a per-change or hourly basis. Many authors view websites as expensive, and they certainly can be.

I’m rather frugal and prefer not to spend money. As a result, I’m not fond of static websites. Yes, they serve a purpose. However, I don’t think the average author must make the investment.

Static websites pose another problem. Because new and exciting information doesn’t appear in a timely fashion, these sites don’t attract the attention of Google and therefore often don’t rank very well in a Google search.

Think of Google as a toddler with a new toy. Those of you who have had exposure to toddlers know the toy doesn’t stay new long and, before you know it, the toddler is on to other toys—always looking for something new and different. If the content on a website is rarely updated, Google won’t pay much attention either.

Why should you care about this? As an author in need of visibility, you must rank as high as possible during a Google search. If you have an uncommon name such as mine, ranking on Google is a slam-dunk. Search my name and you’ll discover I own the first page of Google in a name-based search.

If you have a common surname like Smith or Jones, or share a name with a celebrity, you’ll probably never own the first page of Google. A client of mine shares his name with a moderately successful country singer. That’s a tough row to hoe. Ranking higher on Google than a famous person is difficult, but it is possible—as long as your name isn’t Steve Jobs or Bill Gates.

Why do you want to rank high on a Google search? It’s true that the majority of your readers will come from word of mouth. But not all. If a potential reader wants to find you quickly, or they’re looking for books in a specific genre, they frequently perform a Google search. They’ll glean the first entries found, but rarely look beyond the first few pages delivered by Google. Make it easy for readers to find you by ensuring you rank high on a search.

 

Tech Hint: I have lots of people tell me they “Google” themselves or search for themselves on Google all the time and they rank really well. Google is a responsive search engine. In other words, it learns. The more you perform a certain search, the better Google gets at finding what you want. If you Google yourself all the time, Google will get really good at finding you. Go to the local library and do the same search without signing on to your Google account. You will likely see a very different result. You likely don’t rank as high as you think!

 

Let’s return to our discussion of websites versus blogs. If websites feature static content, blogs offer a constant stream of new information. To my mind, blogs offer a second benefit: an author can maintain a blog with minimal paid help. Most important, a blog’s fresh content ensures it will rank higher in a Google search. (Remember the toddler example.)

 

Blogs

 

During the 1990s, a blog was known as a weblog, indicating that it was something found on the Internet as a serial recording of information—a diary, if you will. Today, blogs are quite different, personalized and modified to display information in a variety of ways. But ultimately, a blog is still a serial collection of information.

In my experience, most blogs are designed by highly technical people with little understanding of the needs of authors. Even if your first blog seems a technical wonder, it is likely to change once you decide how you will use your blog. Please use the information below to make informed choices about your initial direction, or to modify the blog you’ve already developed. Whether you are a new or seasoned blogger, I hope that by the end of this section you will have a better sense of the components required for a successful blogging experience.

This brings me to an important point: regardless of your web designer’s opinion, ultimately your blog must be easy to use and tailored to your needs. If you have a blog that is too complicated for your skill level, ask for help. Make sure that help is qualified and is used to working with authors. We are a niche group with unique needs.

There are many different platforms for blogs including Blogger, free WordPress (also known as WordPress.com) and self-hosted WordPress (also known as WordPress.org). Each platform has positive and negative aspects.

As of this writing, a self-hosted WordPress blog costs no more than $100.00 a year. There are some additional startup costs. For example, how much you spend depends on the graphics selected for your blog.

For a nominal charge, you may also register a domain for your free WordPress or Blogger account. Doing so allows use of your author name unless the domain has been registered by another writer with the same name. For example, I own the domain barbdrozdowich.com and it is attached to my author site.

Do you care if you register your own domain? Only you can answer that question. In my opinion, you should.

 

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Win-A-Book Wednesday: Broken Places

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By Rachel Thompson

FINAL FINAL BROKEN Places COVER  (1)

 

Win a free copy of Broken Places, Rachel Thompson’s acclaimed memoir, just by leaving a comment below.

About Broken Places

Within one week of its release in January 2015, Broken Places, reached the Top Five in Women’s Poetry and #1 on Amazon’s Hot Releases List. Thompson courageously confronts the topics of sexual abuse and suicide, love and healing, in her second nonfiction book of prose and poetry (her fourth book overall). The author bares her soul in essays, poems and prose, addressing life’s most difficult topics with honesty. As you follow one woman’s journey through the dark and into the light, you will find yourself forever changed.

“A stellar achievement” — Tracy Riva (Top Amazon Reviewer, Tracy Riva Reviews) 

About the author

Rachel Thompson copyRachel Thompson is the author of newly released Broken Places and the award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. Rachel is published and represented by Booktrope. She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. For affordable group sessions check out Author Social Media Boot Camp, monthly sessions to help all authors! Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington PostThe San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), 12Most.com, bitrebels.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly.

Not just an advocate for sexual abuse suvivors, Rachel is the creator and founder of the hashtag phenom #MondayBlogs and the live Twitter chat, #SexAbuseChat, cohosted with certified therapist/survivor, Bobbi Parish.

She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.

Visit her:

Connect with Rachel Thompson on:

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And follow Rachel on Twitter Twitter @RachelintheOC
and her consulting business  @BadRedheadMedia.

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