Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Top 5 Things to Do to Make Sure Your Book Fails

The following article is reprinted by permission of Books are Marketing Tools blog by Jerrold Jenkins, owner of the Jenkins Group, Inc., a publishing services firm.

Avoid That Fail: The Top 5 Things to Do to Make Sure Your Book Fails

Guest Blog by Peter Winick

I figured there are plenty of “experts” out there both online and off that will tell you everything you need to do to ensure that your book is a huge success, so I thought I would share with you the 5 things I’ve learned that will make sure your book is a failure.

This might be helpful because with all of the information readily available somehow the average business book still sells less than 2,000 units so something is clearly not working in the current marketplace.

1) Don’t define what success looks like.

Whether it’s hitting the best-seller list, getting exposure for yourself or your brand, engaging people that will follow you in the future, driving sales of a specific offering, don’t think of those things upfront — they are difficult decisions and it will all just “work itself out” once the book is released. You’ll know what success looks like when you get there.

2) Don’t ask for help from anyone.

Let’s face it — your friends and family are busy and your clients have full schedules so it doesn’t make much sense to bother anyone and ask them to help you get the word or message out. After all, most of us are too shy, it’s somewhat awkward and if we can avoid asking for help we certainly should. Most books become incredibly successful by a combination of luck, fate and serendipity.

3) Spend as much time as possible on the cover.

You can never have too many versions of the cover to pick from. 30? 40?  I’d say at least 100. Ask everyone around you for months on end to give you their input (but don’t waste time asking an expert — your friends and colleagues certainly know best). It clearly makes perfect sense given that you’ve spent a year or more of your life writing the book…it’s all about the cover.

4) The publisher knows best.

Never argue with the publisher, after all, they publish hundreds of books a year and your book is obviously the one they care the most about. They know your content better than you and the 23 year old “Assistant to the Assistant of the Junior Director of Marketing” that they will assign to market your book clearly knows what she’s doing. She’s been there for almost three months and can follow their “marketing” template fairly well, plus she read a lot books in college. You’re in good hands.

5) The web and social media are a fad.

As an author you just need to know how to write a good book. The web, LinkedIn and Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are all for kids and they probably won’t be around that much longer. Book buyers obviously go to the book store to buy books, they aren’t wasting their time online so neither should you.

Visit Peter's website at


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

More MG Bestsellers of 2012

Parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, librarians, teachers, other children's book buyers and enlightened consumers—here's another blog on bestselling MG books for you!

This week I continue the blog of two weeks ago that listed twenty-one children's bestsellers of 2012. I have gleaned books suitable for middle-grade readers (ages around 9 through 13) from the Publishers Weekly Children’s page, which lists recently published and less recently published (frontlist and backlist) bestsellers for all ages.

The following titles conclude the list of most recently published, hardcover, middle-grade bestsellers of 2012. They are listed in order of copies sold, starting with the highest number sold.

Confessions of a Murder Suspect by James Patterson
Nevermore: The Final Maximum Ride Adventure by James Patterson
Wonder by R. J. Palacio
Caught by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult
The Demigod Diaries (Heroes of Olympus) by Rick Riordan
Chomp by Carl Hiaasen
The Accused (Theodore Boone #3) by John Grisham
Big Nate Fun Blaster by Lincoln Peirce
A Mutiny in Time (Infinity Ring #1) by James Dashner

The Enchantress (Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel #6) by Michael Scott
Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian by Eoin Colfer
Michael Vey 2: Rise of the Elgen by Richard Paul Evans
Son by Lois Lowry
The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee (Origami Yoda) by Tom Angleberger
Shatterproof (The 39 Clues: Cahills vs. Vespers #4) by Roland Smith
The Dead of Night (The 39 Clues: Cahills vs. Vespers #3) by Peter Lerangis
The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer
The Kane Chronicles Survival Guide by Rick Riordan
The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict by Trenton Lee Stewart
Monster High: Ghoulfriends Forever by Gitty Daneshvari
The Empty City (Survivors #1) by Erin Hunter
Safari: A Photicular Book by Carol Kaufman
The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary by Jeff Kinney
A Series of Unfortunate Events #1: The Bad Beginning: The Short-Lived Edition by Lemony Snicket
Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead
Divide and Conquer (Infinity Ring #2) by Carrie Ryan
Trust No One (The 39 Clues: Cahills vs. Vespers #2) by Linda Sue Park
The Last Hope (Warriors: Omen of the Stars #6) by Erin Hunter
Which books do you like best on this list and why? Are there any books on this list that you don't think should be bestsellers? Do you have a list of books you think should be bestsellers and aren't? What makes a bestseller in your opinion? Let's have your opinions.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Fifty Things Under $50 Bucks To Promote Your Book

The following article is republished with permission of the author, Penny Sansevieri of Author Marketing Experts, Inc. 

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These days it seems like everyone's book marketing budget is a little tighter. If you're feeling the pinch, or if you're just looking for some great free stuff to do on your own, here are some tips that could help keep you on track. 
1.  Buy your domain name as soon as you have a title for your book. You can get domain names for as little as $8.95. Tip: When buying a domain always try to get a .com and stay away from hyphens, i.e. - surfers rarely remember to insert hyphens.
2.  Head on over to or and start your very own blog (you can add it to your Web site later).
3.   Set up an event at your neighborhood bookstore. Do an event and not a signing, book signings are boring!
4.   Write a few articles on your topic and submit them onto the Internet for syndication. You can submit them to sites like ezinearticles.comand
5.   Check out your competition online and see if you can do some networking.
6.   Do some radio research and pitch yourself to at least five new stations this week.
7.   Ready to get some business cards? Head on over to The cards are free if you let them put their logo on the back, if you don't they're still really inexpensive.
8.   Put together your marketing plan. Seriously, do this. If you don't know where you're going, any destination will do.
9.   Plan a contest or giveaway. Contests are a great way to promote your book.
10. Google some topic-related online groups to see if you can network with them.
11. Send thank you notes to people who have been helpful to you.
12. Send your book out to at least ten book reviewers this week.
13. Do a quick Internet search for local writers' conferences or book festivals you can attend.
14. Create an email signature for every email you send; email signatures are a great way to promote your book and message.
15. Put the contents of your Web site: book description, bio, Q&A, and interviews on CD to have on hand when the media comes calling!
16. Submit your Web site to the top five directories: Google, MSN, Alexa, Yahoo, and DMOZ.
17. Write a great press release and submit it to free online press release sites like: PR4 - ,,
18. Write your bio and have someone who can be objective critique it; you'll need it when you start pitching yourself to the media.
19. Schedule your first book event!
20. Start your own email newsletter; it's a great way to keep readers, friends and family updated and informed on your success.
21. Start a Twitter account and begin tweeting. If you don't think Twitter is significant, think again; it's been a major part of our marketing strategy for over 2 years now (before anyone even knew what Twitter was).
22. Develop a set of questions or discussion topics that book clubs can use for your book, and post them on your Web site for handy downloads.
23. Add your book info or URL to your answering machine message.
24. Start a Facebook Fan page. Fan Pages are much better than groups because they're searchable in Google.
25. See if you can get your friends to host a "book party" in their home. You come in and discuss your book and voila, a captive audience!
26. Find some catalogs you think your book would be perfect for and then submit your packet to them for consideration. If you're unsure of what catalogs might work for you, head on over to and peruse their list.
27. Go around to your local retailers and see if they'll carry your book; even if it's on consignment, it might be worth it!
28. Add your book to Google Book Search.
29. Research some authors with similar subjects and then offer to exchange links with them.
30. Start a Squidoo page and make sure it's linked to your Twitter Account and Facebook Fan page.
31. Make sure your blog is connected to Amazon via their Amazon connect program (yes, it's free).
32. Ask friends and family to email five people they know and tell them about your book.
33. Leave your business card, bookmark, or book flyer wherever you go.
34. Subscribe to Google Alerts and make sure that you are getting alerts under your name as well as your book title(s), brand, and keywords.
35. Pitch yourself to your local television stations.
36. Pitch yourself to your local print media.
37. Work on the Q&A for your press kit. You'll need it when you start booking media interviews!
38. Pitch Oprah. Go ahead, you know you want to.
39. Is the topic of your book in the news? Check your local paper, and write a letter to the editor to share your expertise (and promote your book!).
40. Stop by your local library and see if you can set up an event. They love local authors.
41. Do you want to get your book into your local library system? Try dropping off a copy to your main library; if they stock it chances are the other branches will too.
42. Go to Chase's Calendar of Events ( and find out how to create your own holiday!
43. Going on vacation? Use your away-from-home time to schedule a book event or two.
44. If your book is appropriate, go to local schools to see if you can do a reading.
45. Got a book that could be sold in bulk? Start with your local companies first and see if they're interested in buying some promotional copies to give away at company events.
46. Don't forget to add reviews to your Web site. Remember that what someone else has to say is one thousand times more effective than anything you could say!
47. Trying to meet the press? Search the Net for Press Clubs in your area, they meet once a month and are a great place to meet the media.
48.Want a celebrity endorsement? Find celebs in your market with an interest in your topic and then go for it. Remember all they can say is no. Check out the Actors Guild for a list of celeb representatives.
49. Ready to get some magazine exposure? Why not pitch some regional and national magazines with your topic or submit a freelance article for reprint consideration?

50. Work on your next book. Sometimes the best way to sell your first book is by promoting your second.
About the Author
Penny C. Sansevieri, founder and CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is an adjunct professor, teaching self-publishing for NYU. She is the author of twelve books, including How to Sell Your Book by the Truckload on Amazon and Red Hot Internet Publicity, which has been called the "leading guide to 
everything Internet."  For more information see

If you would like a free marketing evaluation of your book, you can e-mail Penny at 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Middle-Grade Bestsellers of 2012

And now something for parents, grandparents, and all children's book buyers . . .

Publisher’s Weekly recently published statistics on the bestselling children’s books of 2012. Not surprisingly, Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games trilogy was top of the list with 27.7 million copies sold. For middle-graders, Rick Riordan’s and Jeff Kinney’s books are among the top sellers. Most of the top-selling ebooks are YA, which, again, may not be so surprising.

The following are the first twenty-one, hardcover, new, bestselling fiction books suitable for middle-grade readers. Many of these may also be suitable for upper elementary-school readers.

The Mark of Athena (Heroes of Olympus #3) by Rick Riordan

The Third Wheel (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) by Jeff Kinney

The Serpent’s Shadow (Kane Chronicles #3) by Rick Riordan

Tales from a Not-So-Graceful Ice Princess (Dork Diaries #4) by Rachel Renee Russell

Tales from a Not-So-Smart Miss Know-It-All (Dork Diaries #5) by Rachel Russell

Middle School: Get Me Out of Here! by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts

“Who Could That Be at This Hour?” (All the Wrong Questions #1) by Lemony Snicket

Big Nat Goes for Broke by Lincoln Peirce

Justin Bieber: Just Getting Started by Justin Bieber

I Funny by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein

A Perfect Time for Pandas (Magic Tree House #48) by Mary Pope Osborne

Lincoln’s Last Days by Bill O’Reilly and Dwight Jon Zimmerman

Nancy Clancy, Super Sleuth by Jane O’Connor

Nevermore: The Final Maximum Ride Adventure by James Patterson

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Caught by Margaret Peterson Haddix

The Demigod Diaries (Heroes of Olympus) by Rick Riordan

Chomp by Carl Hiaasen

The Accused (Theodor Boone #3) by John Grisham

 Big Nate Fun Blaster by Lincoln Peirce
A Mutiny in Time (Infinity Ring #1) by James Dashner

Friday, July 5, 2013

Three Pillars of Fiction

The following article by Katia Raina first appeared on the Writing and Illustrating blog of Kathy Temean, author, illustrator, teacher, website designer, and marketer, who has kindly given her permission to republish it.

Three Pillars of Fiction

We all want things. That’s what makes life interesting. Fiction, too. Fuel your character’s journey with desire.
What does your character want? It sounds obvious. But looking back, I know I didn’t used to think enough about it. Now, before I write my scenes, I really hone in on the protagonist’s desire. If I am unclear on what it is, I pre-write, have my character speak to me for a couple of hundred words, or throw a few of my people together and let them have a conversation.
It’s good to be aware of both what the character wants throughout the entire story and what the character wants in the scene/chapter you’re working on. As Kurt Vonnegut said: “Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.”
Not wanting something/dreading something can work well too. But, as I always tell my kids, when you focus on what you want, instead of what you don’t want, the results will be so much better!
There is another level of desire for the writer to be aware of: what your character thinks he or she wants. vs. what your character really wants. And why. That’s something else to know.
Finally, a good story is populated with people, all sorts of wonderful, terrible, flawed people, right? The more desires those people have, the more alive and real they will feel to both the writer and the reader. So, get to know your people’s secret (or not so secret) wishes. Then place them into your scenes, sit back and watch, as their desires clash and propel your story forward.
I credit one of my workshop advisors from January, the wise and generous Kathi Appelt, with opening my eyes up to the idea of a character’s “truest truth.” Every character — and I think maybe every person – should have at least one, a big one. Take a moment now to think: what is one thing you believe in with your entire being? What is one truth you could stake your life on?
And then do the same for your characters. Maybe he believes in the power of music. Maybe his belief is that life is not fair. Maybe her belief is that her physical beauty will carry her through. Or that her mom is perfect. Or that dragons exist, or that there is no God, or that global warming will one day kill us all, or that one day, she will sprout wings, that one day she will fly. (That last one’s from Castle of Concrete, my debut novel :)  ). Do you see? The belief can be wise or misguided, positive or negative. But characters are much more interesting when they believe in something.
Also keep in mind, belief is subject to change. When the character’s innermost belief is shattered by the challenges and events that have been pushing your story forward all along, it turns into an unforgettable moment that transforms your protagonist, and ideally, your reader.
Of course your main character must change in the course of the novel. An interesting main character will also affect change on others around him. But keep change in mind on scene and chapter level as well, as you write, plot or revise your story. In every single scene something should happen. Which is another way of saying, in every single scene, a change must occur. Or it’s not a scene at all. Just as with desires, changes come in two varieties: internal and external. Here is what I do for every scene, especially when revising (not always when rough drafting, where I explore more):
I write down an Outer Turning Point and an Inner Turning Point for each chapter. Sometimes, by the way, there are more than one. An outer turning point deals with external action, (anything from witnessing a car accident, to leaving the room, to finding treasure), while an inner turning point shows a shift in thought or feeling: for example a change from hope to despair, or a shift in awareness (he will never like me; I am wasting my time). Being aware of these changes helps prevent the characters from constantly see-sawing, or flip-flopping, in their feelings and decisions. (As in: now she likes him, now she doesn’t, now she likes him again). Sure, sometimes a character might change his mind, but it happens in a series of inner and outer turning points building on each other, building into an arc, a progression of change and growth that feels true.
Also, sometimes when I am revising, I’ll copy the first sentence of my scene, and the last, and look at them together. This is a very telling exercise. If you do this, you’ll know right away if there was change or growth in your chapter. You will know whether it was cohesive, or if it falls flat.
So, that’s it. Desire, truth and change.
If your scene loses momentum, or your story does, go back to those three pillars.
These are good to keep in mind for real life as well.
In human experience, desire, truth and change mean everything — or at least they should.  As we live out our lives, let’s never be lulled by the daily routine, by the sameness of days and weeks and years, into forgetting our own truths and desires, and change — good change – will take care of itself!

About the Author
Katia Raina is the author of Castle of Concrete, a young adult novel about a timid half-Russian, half-Jewish teen in search of a braver “self” reuniting with her dissident mother in the last year of the collapsing Soviet Union, to be published by Namelos.
She also is attending the Vermont College of Fine Arts, where she has just completed her first semester in their MFA program. 

Don’t Miss Reading Katia’s post titled, "What I’ve Learned At VCFA Series: Semester One (Included: The Secret To Productivity!")Katia talks about writing and history, and occasionally features interviews and all kinds of lists on her blog, The Magic Mirror,