Tag Archives: author tips

Tellwell News Tips & Tricks

Take a Number: Understanding Tellwell’s Production Queues

Unlike the majority of New Yorkers, your Average Andy doesn’t love waiting in line. Rarely does a person wake up, stretch, rollover and think, “I know, I’m going to wait in line for something today.”

Waiting in line — or “queueing” as our tea loving friends across the pond so fondly refer to it as — is no one’s favourite part of their day, and yet we do it. Constantly. Every day.

And while we know you’re not always thrilled about it, it’s an integral part of our process here at Tellwell. It’s how we keep ourselves organized, manage workloads and make sure our services are provided to authors in a fair and timely manner.

The queue system is applied to services from illustrations and editing through to design and distribution.

Nearly every member of our production team has a queue that project managers use to assign projects and it’s important that we have every element in place before we add authors to a queue. If a project manager throws an author into design before they have all their images selected or haven’t completed their design questionnaire, it adds a lot of unnecessary time to the designers’ workload. One missed piece of the puzzle can hold up the whole process, and the more often this happens, the more likely our turnaround times are to be negatively affected.

It might seem like we’re being nit-picky, but we do it to every authors, so please don’t feel like you’re being singled out. Each project manager goes over their authors’ project assets to makes sure everything is accounted for. Things like editor and design questionnaires give our team insight into you as an author, what your goals are, and how we can best help you produce an amazing finished product.

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Tips & Tricks

Tellwell’s Tips for Launching your Book

After months of preparation, you’ve reached the end of the self-publishing journey. You do a quick Google search and there it is – your book listing on Amazon, Chapters, and Barnes and Noble. Excitement turns to panic as you wonder, “What do I do now?! How am I going to launch my book?”

Launching your book doesn’t have to be a grand event, and it doesn’t have to happen the second your book is released. Many authors wait months to line up events or signings, and focus instead on spreading the word via social media. Others plan a book tour, involving readings and book signings at multiple venues over the course of several weeks.

Remember, the purpose of launching your book is getting the word out, whether that be online, over the phone, or through in-person engagements. Regardless of which approach you take, here are Tellwell’s top 10 tips to launch your book when it becomes available:

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  1. Have promotional materials prepared: While your book is being designed, you’ll want to start thinking about materials you can put together to give to people who ask about your book. Examples include a bookmark or business card to hand out in person, an email signature with links to your author website or social media profiles, or a poster of the book cover to take to in-person events.
  2. Build an email/mailing list: When your book is available, you’ll want to have people to tell. So, while you’re working through the production process, start building a contacts list complete with names and email addresses. That way when the book is available, you can send out an email blast to all interested contacts with links to where they can buy the book.
  3. Know your target market inside and out: While it may be tempting to say anyone would take interest in your book, it can be a lot easier to promote your book to smaller, niche markets. Ask yourself – “Who is the type of person most likely to buy my book?” Once you’ve figured that out, determine where you might find them, where they buy their books, and what they look for when adding a new book to their collection so you can tailor your content and keywords to their interests.
  4. Get social: In a digital age, it’s nearly impossible to avoid social media when trying to get the word out. Whether you’re a social media guru, or you’re just getting started, try to engage with readers on at least one social media platform.
  5. Keep your audience engaged as your book is nearing completion: Use your social media platforms, or your mailing list, to share updates with your audience before the book comes out. This creates some pre-launch buzz that will kickstart your promotion efforts.
  6. Network, network network! As a one-person operation, it’s extremely difficult to generate buzz around your book. That’s why it’s critical to build valuable relationships with individuals and organizations who can help you get the word out about your book. Whether it be a local business who is willing to host you for events, or a charity you partner with and donate a portion of your book proceeds to, get networking!
  7. Get Reviews: We know you feel passionately about your book, but having others praise it will help to attract new readers. Like any product, getting customer feedback will help others to decide whether they should buy your book.
  8. Invest in book giveaways: Whether it be organized directly through your website, or through another source like Amazon or Goodreads, give away some free copies of your book to build momentum. Incentivize your audience to keep your book on their mind.
  9. Use clear call to actions: When approaching people about the book, be very clear about what you want from them. Are you requesting a review for your book? Do you want people to subscribe to the blog on your website? Keep your prompts clear, concise and genuine.
  10. Take it one step at a time: Marketing takes time and consistent engagement, so be sure to break down your goals into tangible steps, and don’t forget to celebrate all the small victories!

 

 

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Tips & Tricks

The Key to Standing out as a Self-Published Author: Book Marketing

You’ve finally done it – your copy has been meticulously edited, you’ve spent too many hours tweaking the design of your book jacket, and now your book is ready for distribution – you’ve published your book.

But just when you’re about to get that freshly-printed, new book in your hands, someone says it. It creeps up on you, making the hair on the back of your neck stand up, your stomach tightens and a wave of uncertainty hits you; then someone asks you the question: “How are you going to market your book?”

Abstract book store blurred background with colour bokeh in shopping mall book store.

It’s okay, breathe.

It’s a long, labour of love getting your book published. It’s a monetary and time commitment. So why then, after going through the editing process, the tedious design process, and setting up distribution, do you need marketing for your book?

Well, the reality is, when you decide to self-publish, you’re involuntarily signing up to be your own publicist (unless of course you actually hire a publicist). Much like the term suggests, being a self-published author means a good portion of your book sales are going to be dependent on the effort you put into book marketing.

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Tips & Tricks

September is the perfect month to hit the shelves as students hit the books

With summer drawing to a close and students heading back to school, we think it’s time to share some information for authors who wish to see their titles on the shelves of public libraries.

Demand for titles has been increasing and waitlists for books have been lengthening at libraries across North America, the most popular categories being children’s picture books, general fiction, mystery/thrillers, cookbooks, and memoirs/biographies. This is great news for both readers and writers as library budgets are growing to facilitate this.

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Here in Victoria, BC, the Greater Victoria Public Library (GVPL) encourages the community to make recommendations for additions to its collections as libraries aim to provide desired and relevant content for its patrons. Recommendations can be made on the GVPL website at https://www.gvpl.ca/suggest-a-title/. Librarians make selections based largely on the credibility or relevance of a book. Once a book is in a library’s collection and reports on checkout rates are viewed, other libraries will often order the same books. As well, library users can request books be circulated from one branch to another.

Alternatively, the GVPL accepts donations which “enhance its collections.” Book donations must be suitable in subject and style for its intended audience, relevant to community needs and interests, and representative of notable trends, genres, and cultures. Many libraries are currently seeking additions to their e-book collections which are increasingly made available online. Find out more here.

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Author of the Month

Don Levers talks book marketing – Masterminding the perfect strategy for success

don-levers-author-headshotIn January 1977, five men tunneled through steel and concrete to break into the Vancouver Safety Deposit Vault. The men pilfered more than 1200 safety deposit boxes and stole millions of dollars in jewelry, gold bars, and cash. It was a perfect crime. Except, when staff at Vancouver International Airport noticed that the men’s luggage was exceptionally heavy, they called the police. The men were arrested. The perfect crime a flop.

This is the true story that inspired Don Levers to begin to write his novel, Loot for the Taking. “The idea of these professional criminals who staged the perfect crime with an imperfect getaway wouldn’t leave me,” said Levers.  He began writing the novel in 1987 and last year, with encouragement from his family, Levers sat down to finish his book. “It took a solid year of writing, re-writing, editing, re-writing, and more editing to reach the finish line,” said Levers.

There are a lot of parallels to publishing a book and planning the perfect crime. You can write the best book on the planet, but if you don’t take steps to make sure your getaway (marketing plan) is solid, you’ll be grounded in terms of book sales. Which is why Levers decided to make book marketing his primary occupation. “It’s a lot of work but if you enjoy it, it’s not a job,” he explained.

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Tips & Tricks

An Image-Based App for a Text-Centric Industry

Marketing your book requires branding.  Putting aside that nearly 70% of brands are using Instagram as a marketing tool and that it boasts an impressive worldwide user count of 700 million, humans are 90% visual beings able to process images 60,000 times faster than text.

 

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But we’re in the business of books and you’ve recently published a book that may be more than a little too word-heavy to be considered a “picture book”. So, how can an image-based app like Instagram be useful to you as an author?

Social media gurus would say, if you’re not active on social media, you don’t exist. Active social media doesn’t just mean hosting a website or having a Facebook account. Today, being active online means posting content often and engaging with other users on all major platforms – the big three being Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Let’s focus on how authors can best utilize a picture-driven platform like Instagram.

Instagram is fun! It offers the opportunity for you as an author to give readers and fellow writers an insight into who you are as an individual, your process, your life beyond the cover of a book and a brief description of yourself. While Instagram certainly can be an enjoyable app with many cool features, like the rules of writing, you’ve got to know them in order to break them.

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Tips & Tricks

Why authors should have a media kit

Whether you’re looking to gain some media attention, attract book reviewers, pique the interest of bookstores, or develop relationships with key figures and organizations from your niche market, having professional materials to outline your project will be an essential asset to your pitch.

These materials can take many forms, depending on how best to showcase your work, but in the publishing industry, the package you put together will commonly be referred to as a media kit. At Tellwell, we call this package a Book Backgrounder, because it can and should be used to pitch your project to more than just media contacts. In fact, these promotive materials should be attached to every email you send out to inform someone about your book, and you should have copies printed and ready to bring with you for any in-person networking.

What makes up a media kit?

Think of a media kit as a 2-5-page portfolio that outlines your project and what sets it apart from the rest. Much like a resume, the most important information should be featured up front, and in many cases, the kit can be kept to 2 pages in length.

Here are some components to consider adding when putting together your media kit:

  • A fact sheet which would include the book synopsis and cover image, your author bio and headshot, and other details about the book, including ISBN’s, the genre, your publisher and retail information.

Why it’s useful: This component is crucial if you plan to use this kit to get your book into physical bookstores. The store managers will benefit from having both the product details and a description of the book, to determine if they think it will sell well in their store. These elements are also commonly requested from book reviewers when considering review requests from authors and publishers.

Tellwell Tip: Even though the fact sheet will display the contents of the front and back cover of your book, it still helps to bring in a sample copy of the book for the store manager to review.

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Author of the Month

Celebrating Canada 150: Heather Pattullo’s passion for her country drives book’s success

heather-bioLike many first-time authors, Heather Pattullo didn’t realize the journey she was getting herself into when she decided to self-publish. On a steep learning curve, she encountered many hurdles along the way, including a 4-month waiting period to gain permission to use the images in her book.

But, her ‘cross-Canada guidebook’ Positively Canadian: A fun guide to Canadian language, culture and history, couldn’t have been released at a better time.

On the cusp of Canada’s 150th birthday, Pattullo has been taking advantage of any opportunity to feature her book, and it’s certainly paying off.

“The end was worth the means to get there. My fingernails are growing again” she said.

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Not only has it been extremely rewarding to finally hold the book in hand, but also Pattullo said she’s been overwhelmed with the response from those she’s connected with so far.

Taking advantage of the waiting period to develop some good working relationships with those in her local community, Pattullo has already had book signings at Albany Books in Tsawwassen and Black Bond Books in Delta. Both bookstores are now carrying her book on consignment.

She was featured in her local paper, the Delta Optimist (read the article here,) and was also invited to sell her book at the national and provincial conventions for the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire (IODE) in Vancouver at the end of May.

Her calendar is already filled up with events throughout July, including book readings and signings at three Fraser Valley Regional libraries in the Delta area, and a signing at the Granville Chapters in Vancouver on July 9.

Pattullo has approached private schools and the Vancouver Community College, to add copies of her book to their libraries for students to read and learn about Canada. She’s already sold the first 150 copies of the book, and a second order has arrived for her upcoming events.

“I haven’t even tapped into the all the ESL schools in Vancouver,” said Pattullo. “I still have lots of places to go, I’ll probably be busy until Christmas!” she laughed.

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Author of the Month

An educator, an illustrator and a puppeteer walk into a bar…

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…While that could be the beginning of a corny joke, it’s also, save for the bar, the beginning of Linda Briden’s story as an author.

Long before holding her new book, Know Me, in her hands, before retiring, before hosting her first workshop for children, Linda spent her days as a child and youth worker and a special education teacher.

“I’ve always worked with kids that didn’t quite fit the system,” she says. “The system wasn’t designed for these kids. These kids that had some challenges, that had different stories and, perhaps, had strengths and gifts that weren’t quite mainstream.”

After retiring and finally having some time on her hands, Linda felt compelled to find a way to keep helping the kinds of kids she’d spent years working with. This led to two very important things happening — a meeting about pictures and a meeting about puppets.

“It was kind of a perfect storm,” she says of Know Me’s early days. “I connected with this young woman who did the illustrating (Daria Pekh), and she was really keen to do something a little different from what she had been doing. I then developed a business partnership with a woman who’s a puppeteer, and we’ve created a workshop that incorporates the book and a performance piece which uses the text from the book.”

Linda and her Puppeteria workshop partner, Shelley King, wanted to create something to address the bigger ideas of inclusiveness, tolerance, and acknowledging individual stories. The idea of the Know Me workshops and book were born together as chicken and egg, creating completely cohesive and complementary companion pieces to one another.

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Tips & Tricks

Picking a perfect cover image

There are only ever a few reasons as to why we are compelled to pick up a new book from Amazon or our local bookstore:

  • It’s one of those must-read titles.
  • One of our friends or family members mentioned it.
  • It’s mandatory to pass our upcoming high school test.
  • Our favorite author finally finished another book. Like maybe the sixth book, George?
  • Or…we liked the look of the cover.

I can easily think of a few books that I picked up for one of those reasons, and I bet you can too!

The importance of a cover

Your book cover is the first thing a reader will see, it will determine if they look past it on a shelf, or if they keep scrolling down while shopping online. Your cover is important, I can’t stress this enough; it is also one of the biggest contributors of creating a successful book as a self-published author.

Let’s break the cover down to its elements: a cover is essentially a title and an image. While the title is usually a few words or a phrase that describe the content or the story of the book, an image is a bit more than that. The image is a picture that introduces readers to the story. It can be used to convey themes, plot points, characters, and it can even foreshadow events to come.

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