Saturday, August 23, 2014

Hey, Sarah: Query vs. Pitch

Alright, as promised, here is the first Q&A video. This week I am answering the question of Pitch vs. Query.



Things I learned from making my first YouTube video:
1. I say the word "so" way too much
2. I blink and close my eyes at random times
3. I'm not nearly as funny as I sometimes think I am
4. Video editing is hard and has a steep learning curve
5. Apparently it takes a while to upload a video

I promise these will get better. They have to, because I'm pretty sure they can't get worse. Bear with me while I get the hang of this and we'll all learn a little something together.

If you have your own question you'd like for me to answer, fill out the question form and I'll add you to the list.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Platform Pick-Up: Blog pt. 5

Today is the last day we're going to talk about your blog, so it's kind of a big one. Let's talk Press Kits.
I've talked about Press Kits on the blog previously. I also really enjoy this video from Word Nerds about what to include in your press kit. And here's a pretty basic sample press kit. If you don't have a press kit on your blog yet, it's time to get one.

What's it for?
Your press kit has one goal, and one goal only: Make someone's job easy. What someone, you ask. Journalists, bloggers, reviewers, retailers, librarians, event planners and anyone else who wants to promote you or your book. As you work on your press kit, keep in mind that your objective is to make it as easy as possible for all of those people to find out everything they might possibly need to make their job easier. When you keep that objective at the forefront, you'll have a much better perspective on what to include.

What do I include?
Following the goal of above, we are going to include pretty much everything. Here's a handy list to get you started.

1. Bio: Write this in third person and consider having several lengths. For example, a reporter may need only a line or two to include at the end of a write up. A bookseller promoting your signing may want a paragraph or two. Someone else may want several paragraphs. By offering several lengths you eliminate the task for someone else and...make their job easier.

2. Press Release: While you should craft targeted press releases for the various media that you send them to, for your press kit, you'll want a generic press release that anyone can use. Make sure you use standard formatting and include all your contact info, even though you're going to have it listed in another location in your kit. By providing it here you...make their job easier.

3. Book Info: This includes your back cover blurb, ISBN, publication info and purchase links. Is this information already on the book page of your website that we just talked about? Yes, it it. But you're going to include it here as well to...make their job easier.

4. Sample chapter: Some authors leave this out, but I say it doesn't hurt to have it included. It doesn't hurt anything and you might hook in a reader who was just looking for your email address. Be sure to include a cover photo in both color and black and white. Also, include buy links at the end of the section as well. Do we already have them in the book info section? Yes, we do. By now you realize we are going to duplicate all kinds of info in order to...make their job easier.

5. Sample Interview Questions (And answers): Picture if you will the journalist who needs to flesh out a story, but doesn't really have time to call you up, schedule an interview, have the interview, transcribe it, and edit it for print. Now picture that same journalist finding a set of already answered questions that they can pick and choose from to include  in their story. It's a win-win for everyone. You get more coverage and the journalist, you've just...made their job easier.

6. Book Review excerpts: No need to go crazy here. That said, if you don't toot your own horn, no one will. If you've got some really great reviews, include them here. Be sure to clearly state who gave you the review and provide a link to that person or organization's website. Why? It will (all together now)...make their job easier.

7. Contact info: Everything goes here. Seriously...everything. Any way that someone can possibly get in touch with you needs to be included here. Think home, cell phone, email addresses, social media, Amazon author and Goodreads accounts. By keeping it all in one place, you...make their job easier.

8. Photos: This includes your head shot, the cover image and any less formal author photos that you would like to share. Be sure to include these as downloadable images in hi-res, low-res, color and black and white. You can't know what format they need, and if you don't have what they need, they are liable to just not use an image, which is bad. Give them plenty of options to choose from so you can...make their job easier.

In case I didn't drill that home enough, everything here is designed to Make Their Job Easier.

What format should I use?
Upload your press kit as a PDF that way you don't have to worry about someone accidentally messing with it. Also, with so many word processing systems out there, a PDF eliminates the possibility that not all of your information is converted into whatever program the other person is using.

Also, I recommend a click-able table of contents. It lets the person checking you out skip right to the section they want to find and makes it so your kit doesn't become bulky or cumbersome as it grows. 

This is a big task, which is why I saved it for a Friday. If you find yourself in need of a press kit break this weekend, stop back by the blog. I'm hoping (fingers crossed) to post the very first Q&A video on Saturday. You guys sent me a ton of really great questions and it's time to start getting them answered. Just as soon as I can master not completely suck at video editing. So check back tomorrow. I'll have a new post up with a link to the video. 

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Platform Pick-Up: Blog pt.4

Yesterday, I mentioned the importance of checking the links on your book page. Obviously you don't want to have bad links and make it hard for readers to buy your books, but that isn't the only place you have links on your blog.

I can't tell you how many links I have on my blog. In addition to the ones that are part of the page, linking to areas like my social media accounts or newsletter, I regularly add links to my posts. Like the one up there in the top linking to yesterday's post. I also link to outside sites, like the one below. Some of them I control; others I don't.

Checking all of those links by hand would be a logistical nightmare. Good think for us, we don't have to. There are plenty of sites out there that will check for you. You can run a quick Google search for "free link checker" and you'll get plenty of results. 

In case you don't want to hit up Google, here is a free link checker I already scouted for you. This one scours your site, finds broken links and the directs you to them so you can fix them. Easy, Peasy!

So here's your task today. Run a link check on your site and fix those broken links.
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