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TOC-IndexOne of the questions our authors frequently ask us is whether or not they need a table of contents, and index, both, or neither.

This is a big question because while it doesn't mean much to the author's main content, it can mean a lot to the reader. So here's our quick and dirty guide to deciding whether or not you need a table of contents or an index.

No matter where you're at in your online marketing, we're here to help you represent yourself in the most effective and most helpful ways possible. This is a masterlist of all our resources for online marketing. We've covered everything from author websites and social media to email newsletters and blogs. This list will be constantly growing, so check back soon for more resources!

Book-NoTitleFor many authors, choosing a title for their book is much like choosing a name for their child. A book's title is usually for life, and you want to be sure it's "just right." After all, as much as we say "Don't judge a book by it's cover," everybody does. The title sets the tone for the first and subsequent impressions.

So unless you want to wind up on this list of the 15 Most Ridiculous Book Titles, you'll want to invest some serious time and effort in naming your book.

So how do you choose the right title for your book?

Having trouble keeping up with what’s trending online? Confused by all the hashtags? Want a key to all the shorthand messages? The second post to guide you through the social media universe is here. 

Twitter is essentially a timeline of micro-blogging. By tweeting messages of 140 characters or less, you can share, respond or interact with other users in real-time. You can form a relationship with your followers by becoming a “person,” not just a name on a page. 
You should use Twitter to share your thoughts and movements. Tweet what you’re doing, where you’re going, highlights from your life, and books you’re reading. Remember, Twitter is not a shouting media platform. It’s social media. So be social. All posts should reflect a personal, author brand that you’re trying to build.

websiteEvery author needs a webpage, and yet as gifted as authors are with words, they often find it remarkably difficult to decide what to include on their website. If you find yourself in this group, don't despair. You are most definitely not alone. And we are here to help.

Your website can be as fancy or as simple as you want it to be. But there are a few things that every good author website will have:

Instagram is a photo and video sharing social media platform.

Users can post and edit images with captions or view the images of those users and friends that you follow. News organizations, magazines, events, interest groups and more use Instagram to share information. You can also use it. For example, you may post a sneak peak of your latest book cover. You may post a picture of a place where you write or create a contest to engage with followers. You can also create book quote images using one of the graphic creators we will cover later on.


You've finally finished your hours of researching, writing, and editing! You've sent in your manuscript and your publisher asks for a book description... That shouldn't be hard, right? All you have to to do is condense everything you know about your book into 250 words or less that convince readers they can't live without your book without actually giving away any spoilers. 

Writing a book blurb for your back cover and other promotional uses is one of the hardest steps for many authors. Even good writers can write bad book blurbs. To help prevent you from falling into this unfortunate group, we've put together a few tips that should help you write a winning book blurb, whether it's for the latest fantasy novel or for a non-fiction self-help guide.

Have the normal social media sites under control? Are you a Facebook genius, but want to branch out into something different? Or do you want to try something besides Twitter and FB to connect with readers? Then reddit is a great place to connect.

(And Why Editors Move to Goat Farms)

We wish there wasn't so much truth in this infographic about the "heartwarming, only slightly messy, and roughly 74 percent accurate story of how an idea churns through the publishing process." This post from WeldonOwen has been making the rounds in the publishing world online. Thank you for the laugh!

By now you know that using social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are a free and effective way to build an audience. Luckily, authors and booklovers have another option to connect with readers: Goodreads. Goodreads (Goodreads.com) is a book lover’s social media haven where members can keep track of books they love, books they hate, and books they want to read. Friends can share recommendations, readers post reviews, and members can even sign up to win books through the giveaway program.

auntiereadinghurts LargeAs an author, you've probably been told time and time again that great authors read great books. You can't write if you don't read. And as an author, you probably always have a book by your bed, one on the kitchen table and another in the living room. Books lined up on shelves, books stacked on the floor, and books intermingled with various pages of your latest manuscript. Image from Auntie SparkNotes

You read for research. You read for inspiration. You read for pleasure.

So what if an acclaimed novelist told you, "Don't read that book"?

About a month ago in a column for The Tyee and in an interview on NPR's Talk of The Nation, that's exactly what Crawford Kilian told aspiring authors.

Cover Reveal Blog Title

Everyone has heard the cliché “Don’t choose a book by its cover.” But we all still do that to an extent, don’t we? People do judge a book by its cover. Most people let their opinions of a cover at least subconsciously shadow their perception of a book.

Looks matter. Thus, the cover matters.

FB-TwitterIf you're an author these days, it's generally expected that you have a Facebook and Twitter account, among numerous other social media accounts. People rarely ask anymore, "Do you have a Facebook page?" instead asking, "What's your Facebook page?" or "What's your Twitter handle?"

As fabulous as authors are at writing stories, both true and make-believe, they often struggle with what to put on their Facebook page and Twitter feed. In fact, that's one of the most common questions we get from our authors.

Here's a post with some specific ideas to help move you along:

Author Newsletter

Another way to spread the word about your new book and keep readers updated is through an email newsletter. That’s right. Don’t just send one email. Send many. Invite friends, family and readers to sign up for your newsletter either online or at your launch party. If you commit to writing a newsletter you should send it quarterly, monthly, or weekly depending on your schedule.

BooksFlyVirtual Book Tours, also known as blog tours, are an excellent way for authors to promote themselves and their books.

  • – Blog tours seem to use all the advantages of social media, plus the "tour stops" are recorded on the blogs and last far beyond the event date, so there's some real staying power involved.
  • – Good tour hosts are kind to the authors and their books, but they are also honest, so readers know they can trust the blog host. That lends credibility to the tour stop and the reviews.
  • – The biggest quandary for the modern author is deciding which is the biggest perk: how budget-friendly viritual book tours are or the fact that you can do them in your bathrobe and slippers.

 

Social Media ContentSo now you have all of the accounts set up—but maintaining 2 to 3 social media platforms isn’t as easy as it seems. Creating original content for each individual site can be tricky. Do you always and only find yourself retweeting on Twitter or sharing other people’s posts on Facebook? There’s another way to engage in social media! Using one or a combination of the tools in the next section:

PinterestTypewriterPinterest is the fastest growing standalone website ever. And while recipes, dream travel destinations, style tips, and adorable photos of cats seem to dominate the site's content, there is plenty of room for authors. If you are a published author or want to become one, you should be on Pinterest.

While Pinterest is a visual way to share online content, there are a surprisingly large number of readers and booklovers on the site. While images drive the pins, Pinterest is about so much more than pictures––it's about sharing your favorite things, finding inspiration, and building knowledge.

By Fauzia Burke

One of the nation's leading online book marketing experts, Fauzia Burke recently published Online Marketing for Busy Authors: A Step by Step Guide. Sharing her expertise of online publicity, book publishing and social media, Fauzia points out trends authors should focus on. 

Important Trends and Statistics for Authors

When authors stay on top of trends, they can use the information to develop more effective online marketing strategies. Your author platform is your ability to reach your readers and build a community. Here are 12 trends to note for authors:

PrintingPressAs the Senior Editor for a small publishing company, I see a lot of potential books pass through my hands. To be honest, most of the manuscript submissions Light Messages receives have great potential. The themes are creative and timely, the information is engaging, and the characters are colorful. But more often than not, the books are simply not ready yet.

The single biggest mistake I see new authors make is to publish a book too soon. And I understand how it happens: You write the final line, share the manuscript with a few close friends and family, receive adoring reviews, and then proceed to submit the manuscript for publishing because you think there's nothing more to be done. Then, you wait. And wait. And wait some more. But the call never comes.

By Kylee Wooten

Coming up with a name is challenging. Whether you’re deciding on the name of the new family pet, battling over whom to name your child after, or trying to come up with the perfect title for your new novel, it’s almost impossible to know if you’re making the right decision.

harshreaderAre you sitting down? I have some news for you: Not everyone is going to like your book. When they don't, you have two choices: 1) Move on or 2) Move into a cabin in the woods.

Nobody likes a bad review. Not you. Not your publisher. Not even the reviewer who most likely feels she wasted her time. But bad reviews do happen.

So what's the best way to handle the inevitable bad review? Do nothing. Seriously. PR experts across the industry agree that the best thing to do is absolutely nothing. Move on and keep working.

If you can't do nothing, then your other option is to take a deep breath, step back, and glean what constructive bits you can from the criticism. Learn from the reviewer and consider if there's anything you can apply to improve your work.

By Kylee Wooten

The biggest “do” of all: You should need to be on social media. These days, having a Twitter account and a Facebook page are almost as essential to your success as an author actually having a book.

What’s the one thing that’s worse than reading a terribly dry book? Reading a terribly dry review about a book! Here are some tips by our Senior Editor to help you rise above the noise and catch the attention of book pros.

1. Choose wisely. You don’t have time to read everything, let alone review it. So choose carefully. Unless you're one of the "big voices," it will be nearly impossible to make an impression as one more review about the latest, hottest best seller. But you can make an impression by highlighting quality works by emerging authors. You’ll be the proverbial big voice in a small room instead of the other way around. You can help direct attention to your review by sending a copy to the author, publisher, and/or publicist listed on the author’s website.

One of the things that we continue to stress to our authors is the importance of a strong presence on Amazon. Amazon has a dedicated "Author Central" page, where authors can "claim" his/her books, post a bio, updates and trade reviews, and more. As one of the largest book retailers in the world, we believe in the importance of utlizing Amazon to its full capacity. Brooke Warner breaks down the most important misconceptions, little known facts and valuable tips for authors to consider when they are navigating the world of Amazon. This article was originally featured in Huffington Post.

Use our handy pre-publication checklist to help you schedule your marketing and promotional tasks for your book. Make sure you get started early––some of the items on the checklist start as early as 12 months before publication!

pdfClick here to download the checklist.

ask the author becoming an authorThe journey towards becoming an author can greatly differ from person to person, so Nancy Boyarsky and Rebecca Stevenson offer their own unique perspectives and experiences.  Have more questions for our authors? Leave us a comment on Facebook or Twitter!

You’ve finished your book. You’re in your last round of edits. You’re cover design is in the process of being finalized. You’re ready to pass out copies to friends.

And just when you thought writing your book was the hard part, now it’s time to promote your work. But don’t worry. We’re here to help.

The first step after publishing your book is to understand the importance of book promotion and starting early. And I mean really early, as in a year to six months in advance.

People often assume it takesTorchflame Books blog post repurpose your skills an incredible stroke of luck or skill to become an author. But how many authors started out from the beginning desiring to write books? How many of them, instead, started out in a completely different field? We asked Rebecca A. Miles to share about her experience becoming an author, and we hope this can inspire you, too, if you've ever considered writing a book. 

Have more questions for our authors? Let us know with a message on Facebook.

Are you tired of asking your friend’s kids for help on the Internet? Do you dread scheduling a post—let alone writing one? Are you embarrassed by your social media accounts?

You can stop worrying about that now. As a sneak peak into Pub Light: A Publisher’s Introduction to Selling your Book in 10 Easy Steps (available this month), this week starts a series of blog posts that can help you answer all of the questions you’re constantly asking yourself when it comes to social media. By tuning into our weekly blog, you will be able to learn about snippets from our latest book as well as instructions on how to revamp your online presence in order to build up your book brand.

First up: Facebook.

ask the author finding successWhat defines success for an author? Is is the number of books sold? The number of awards they recieve? Authors Brad A. LaMar and Susan Örnbratt join us for this week's Ask the Authors blog post on defining and finding success as an author. If you have any questions you'd like to ask our authors, make sure to leave a comment on our Facebook or Twitter!