More Photos from Past Storymaker Conferences…

Since the Storymakers Conference isn’t all about me, here are more photos from the past few conferences that I gleaned from the Interwebs.

Stolen from

 A nice writerly-looking man, Jaclyn M. Hawkes, Jessica Day George


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A Nice Woman, James Dashner, Another Nice Woman


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 David J West, Tamara Hart Heiner, Melissa J Cunningham, Mary Gray


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Deirdra Eden Coppel and J Scott Savage (the author formerly known as Jeff)


Contributed by Jennie Hansen @

 Susan Law Corpany Curtis, Janette Rallison, Sarah M Eden


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 Gregg Luke, James Dashner, Traci Hunter Abramson, Abel Keogh


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David J West showing off his sword handling skillz


P.S. If you recognize some of the people I don’t, please post their names in the comments. Thanks.

Who’s Going to Storymakers?

The LDStorymakers Conference is this weekend! I am so excited I can hardly stand myself. I have to say that as far as writing conferences go, this is one of the best. It’s well organized, has great presenters, and the atmosphere is positive and supportive. I have so much fun at these conferences. I love it!

Unfortunately, if you haven’t already registered, it’s too late. (Sorry.) But there are zillions of writers conferences going on this summer, so I’m sure if you’re determined you can find one.

But back to Storymakers. To get us in the mood, I’m dedicating the rest of this week to getting us excited. And what better way to ramp up the enthusiasm than to reminisce about past Storymakers conferences.

Here are a few snapshots from previous years of me with just a few of my favorite peeps.

These are some of the long-timers at Storymakers.
Rachel Nunes, Tristi Pinkston, BJ Rowley, Me,
Julie Wright, Jaime Theler, Crystal Liechty, and Jeff Savage

The Walnut Springs Gang
Front Row: Tristi Pinkston, Theresa Sneed, Betsy Love
Middle Row: Rhonda Hinrichsen, LC Lewis, Amy Orton
Back Row: Linda Mulleneaux, Me

Here is a bunch of us. I think it’s the Authors Incognito group.
I’m the one with the red arrow.

This is me with Howard Tayler. He’s hilarious.
If you get a chance, go to his class. He doesn’t always stay on point,
but he has lots of good information.

And here I am with Whitney Award Winning author, Dan Wells.
Also in the pic are Bron Bahlmann (when is that next book coming out, Bron?)
and James Dashner (umm, I think he might have written a book or two…)
and a future author, I suppose?

More photos to come!


*Photos provided by Tristi Pinkston and LDStorymakers.
**Special thanks to my lovely assistant for collecting and “polishing” them.
***Photos were chosen based on compatibility with me. 🙂

The Power of a Good Word

How important is word of mouth? In honor of the release of The Hunger Games movie, I offer this little anecdotal* evidence.

[And no, we’re not going to talk about the book itself and whether it’s good or bad or appropriate or whatever.]

Back in mid-2010, just before Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins was released, I went down to my local Barnes and Noble to get copies of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. I thought I’d better read them to see what all the hoopla was about.

Unfortunately for me, they were all sold out.

I talked to one of the floor managers and he told me that when The Hunger Games first came out in 2008, they’d ordered several copies, put them on the shelf and they just sat there.

Yep. Over the space of several months, they’d only sold ONE copy.

Then Stephenie Meyer, of Twilight fame, mentioned the book on her website and blurbed it, saying:

“I was so obsessed with this book I had to take it with me out to dinner and hide it under the edge of the table so I wouldn’t have to stop reading. The story kept me up for several nights in a row, because even after I was finished, I just lay in bed wide awake thinking about it…The Hunger Games is amazing.”

–Stephenie Meyer,

The next day, Barnes and Noble sold every single copy they had in stock and hadn’t been able to keep them in stock since.


Does  The Hunger Games owe it’s success to Stephenie Meyer? Who knows. But her mention of it certainly didn’t hurt.

So what does this have to do with you and your book? Word of mouth is very important. Most readers trust other readers. In my opinion, getting book reviews on blogs, GoodReads, Amazon and other online places is a good way to get the word out. Even quick little tweets and status updates on social media sites is a good thing. If there’s enough positive and sincere buzz going around, eventually people are going to notice.

Readers, what do you think about word of mouth?


*based on personal observation, case study reports, or random investigations rather than systematic scientific evaluation.

Shameless Self-Promotion by Tristi Pinkston

LDSP Note: I am sooo tired of having to hunt down authors, only to get to their blog or website and find no mention of their books. At all! (And yes, I know I’m at the right place.) So I tracked down this article by Tristi Pinkston. Take it to heart people!

We’ve all heard the term “shameless self-promotion.”  I’ve used it myself quite a bit.  Today I want to get on my soap box a little bit.  You don’t mind, right?  I mean, that’s sort of the theme of my whole blog… “Tristi on her soap box.”  If I were ever to change the title of my blog, that’s what I would use.

Self-promotion is absolutely crucial to every form of business.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a car salesman, or if you work in a clothing store, or if you are a make-up girl, or if you are a construction worker.  In each of those jobs, you are selling yourself—your skills, your experience, your know-how.  You are presenting yourself in such a way that your employer and your customer can feel confident in you and the job you are going to do.  Filling out resumes, going for interviews, meeting with prospective clients—these are nothing more than selling yourself and your abilities.

When you write a book and enter the big, bad world of marketing, you’re doing exactly the same thing you’ve done every time you’ve entered the work force.  You’re informing people of a skill or ability you possess.

Let me ask you a question.  Say you’re in the middle of a job interview, and you are asked, “So, I hear you’re good at typing.”  Would you answer, “Oh, I don’t know about that.  That other applicant you just had in here is a lot faster.”  Or would you say, “Yes, I’m pretty fast.” It’s a pretty simple choice to make, isn’t it?

So why do we downplay our writing?  Why do we feel that we need to apologize when it comes to talking about our books?  We say “shameless self-promotion” as though perhaps, at some point, we might have felt the need to feel ashamed, but we’re going to shake that off for a second.  There is no need to ever be ashamed of the product you have produced as long as you know you did your very best on it.  If you turned out something you know wasn’t up to your potential, then you can make a decision to do better next time.  But “shame” is not something that should ever be associated with something you created that came from your gut. If you really, really are ashamed to admit that you did it, then… why did you do it?

Now that we’ve talked about the “shame,” let’s talk about the “self-promotion.”  Go back to the analogy of the shoe salesman.  A woman walks into his shop and says, “Hi, I need a pair of shoes.”  He pauses.  Should he say something?  What if he shows her a pair and she says she doesn’t want them?  He would be crushed.  Humiliated.  Rejected.

Um … no, he’s going start showing her shoes, right?  Of course.  That’s his job.  And it’s your job as a new author to talk about your books.  He has shoes to sell, you have books to sell.  If someone doesn’t buy your book, it doesn’t have to be a devastating thing—it just means that those shoes didn’t fit.  Someone else with feet of a different size will soon come into your life, or your shoe store, and you’ll be able to make that sale.

So, let’s encapsulate my little lecture.

1. Stop being ashamed to talk about your books!

2. Stop feeling as though you have to apologize!

3. Get some confidence—talk about your book in an upbeat, positive way.  Let other people know it exists.

4. Never downplay your accomplishments.  Don’t say, “Well, it’s just a little story about…” No!  Smile and say, “It’s a great story about…”

Self-promotion is hard.  It’s hard to get up the courage, it’s hard to know what to say, it’s hard to find that balance between talking about yourself and coming on too strong, and it’s also hard to know when you shouldn’t bring up your books (and yes, there are times when you don’t want to promote, generally in times of social politics, but that would be a blog for another day).  You can learn how to master all of these skills, but you’ve got to practice them, and regularly.  Hiding behind pillars and potted plants will not make you a master of self-promotion—you’ve got to get out there and do it, and you’ll find your own stride and what works for you.  And if you’re interested, here’s another post I wrote on this very same topic.

All right, then!  Go promote yourself, and let me see you stop saying the word “shameless!”  It should all be shameless!


Tristi Pinkston is the author of nine published books, including the Secret Sisters mystery series. In addition to being a prolific author, Tristi also provides a variety of author services, including editing and online writing instruction. You can visit her at or her website at

Author Platforms

Everywhere I look on-line I read that an author needs a platform if he/she expects an agent or publisher to accept the writer or the work.

Now, I can see that if you have a published work to tout. A platform helps get a book the publicity it needs to be successful. The internet makes that relatively easy, yet time consuming. If you have a ready-made platform, all your “friends” on FaceBook and elsewhere have supposedly been following you and should be anxious to see your book.

But what if you don’t have a book to tout yet?

I’ve been struggling with that issue a lot lately. I have two books, one of which is probably ready for publication. But, without a platform is an agent or publisher willing to accept me or my book for publication? But how can I get a platform if I have nothing published yet?

Maybe someone can help me here. It seems like a dilemma to me. Frankly, at this point, being unpublished, I would rather spend my limited time writing.

Understanding what a platform is and is not trips a lot of writers up. Ten years ago, a well-written book was platform enough. An author might generate some extra publicity if the book was based on a timely topic, but it wasn’t really necessary.

However, now, when anyone with a computer can “publish” a book, and when traditional publishers do less to promote their books, having a platform is very important. All things being equal, an author with an established platform will have an edge over the author without one.

So, let’s go over this briefly.


What is a platform? It’s a tool or process used by an author to reach and build their target audience, usually through online visibility, to create a group of followers and/or fans. Sometimes it ties in with a topic or theme from their book. Sometimes it’s as simple as having a blog with lots of followers.

Jane Friedman has an excellent post on this. Go read it now. I’ll wait.

Rachelle Gardner, a literary agent, did a post on Author Platforms last year. Go read it. I’ll wait.

I found another good description for a platform by Karen Dionne: “Just as a real platform elevates a speaker above his audience, if fiction authors can find a way to make themselves stand out from the crowd, the odds of their fiction being picked up by a major publisher increase.” (Go read the entire article.)


What difference does a platform make? I’ve heard one LDS author say that it meant the difference between her book coming out as a midlist title (which is how it was originally scheduled) to actually being released as a frontlist, or lead title (one that gets more attention, promotion and marketing). If an agent can see you’ve got an established platform that works for you, they can use that to sell your book to a publisher.

Bottom line, life as an author is no longer just about creating the novel. The author has to spend some time in promotion and spreading the message.


How do you create a platform? Find an outlet that spotlights your writing skills and your message. A blog is a good way to do this. Readers will get a sense of your writing style and personality, and that will increase the chances that they’ll buy your book. You can use Facebook, Twitter and other social networks to enhance and support your platform. You can also do speaking engagements.


What’s your message? That’s up to you. It might be on writing itself or perhaps it ties in with the theme of your book. Click here to read a post from 2008 with a few examples.


Readers, do you have a platform? If so, what is it? Where is it? Please tell us in the comments below.

Musty Writing by Michaelbrent Collings

When considering self-publishing on Kindle, there are four things you must do (“Must”y writing – get it?  Ha!).  They are like the mustard on my hot dog: a non-negotiable element.  Without it, you may as well not even try.  ‘Cause I won’t bite.

Now, before I dive into what those elements are, I should probably tell you how I know about them.  So y’all know I’ve got street cred.  And mad skillz (part of having street cred is always spelling “skillz” with a z).

I’ve been writing for most of my life.  I sold my first paying work when I was fifteen.  Going to college, I won a bunch of creative writing scholarships and awards.  Then I became a lawyer, where my job involved mostly (wait for it!) writing.

Oh, yeah, and somewhere along the way I became a produced screenwriter, member of the Writers Guild of America (which is statistically harder to do than it is to become a professional baseball player), and a published novelist.  Throughout all this, I had a book that I really liked, called RUN.  And though I had done all the above, no book publisher would touch RUN with a ten foot cattle prod.  Largely, I suspect, because it was very hard
to figure out how to market it: it was a sci-fi/suspense/horror/thriller/apocalyptic novel with romantic elements.  There is no shelf for that at Barnes & Noble.

But I believed in the book, dangit!  So I researched around, and discovered self-publishing through Amazon’s Kindle service.  I decided I didn’t have much to lose, since RUN was just sitting on a shelf anyway, so decided to try my hand at self-publishing an e-book on Kindle.

Within a few months, RUN became a bestseller, topping Amazon’s sci-fi chart, and eventually becoming the #61 item available for Kindle, out of over ten million books, games, puzzles, and blogs.  I also published a young adult fantasy called Billy: Messenger of Powers which has hovered on various genre bestseller lists on Amazon for the better part of a year now.  And followed those up with another e-book, and another, and another.  Some of the others became bestsellers, some didn’t.  But all have made money, and all have increased my fan base.

Now I don’t say this to brag, but I want you to understand I know a bit whereof I speak.  Through the process, I have learned the ins and outs of Kindle publishing (and e-publishing in general), learning as much from what didn’t work as from what did.  And that’s why I’ve come up with these four important things to do:

1)  Make a kickin’ cover

This is one place where approximately 99% of self-published authors get it wrong.  Look at most self-published books, and they look less professional.  And like it or not, a lot of people go strictly off the cover.  You have about ten seconds to wow them with your cool cover before they click the button and move on to another book.  For the Kindle edition of Billy: Messenger of Powers, I spent days upon days designing the cover.  Everything from the cover image, to the typeface, to the composition of the elements.  It was critical.  And it paid off.  Same for RUN, and another of my books, Rising Fears,
all of which have been praised for the fact that the covers are interesting enough to “hook” readers.  Some of my other covers aren’t as effective, or as professional looking, unfortunately.  And guess what? They also don’t sell as well.

2)  Market yourself

Here’s a fact of life in general: people generally don’t give you things for free.  You have to earn them.  And that includes getting people to read your work.  When I wrote Billy, I spent over a month designing a website ( that was interesting, conveyed a message about the book, and had a look and feel that I felt would intrigue people and make them want to find out more.  Same with the website for RUN (  And my own website,, took even longer.  But that was only the start.  I also had a Facebook “fan” page, a Twitter feed, and did the rounds of book and genre conventions.  Not to mention doing interviews, podcasts, guest blogs, and generally talking to anyone and everyone who would listen.  You have to do more than write a book.  You have to create an event.

3)  Have a grabby description

”What do you do when everyone you know – family, friends, everyone – is trying to kill you?  You RUN.”

That is the description on for my book RUN.  Two sentences that I spent an extremely long time writing.  Like the cover of your book, the production description is something that has to grab people, reel them in, and not let them go.  Some self-published authors think the best way to get someone to read their work is to describe every jot and tittle.  But in reality, the secret isn’t information, it’s captivation. You have to intrigue your (prospective) readers.  You have to leave them with serious questions that they want answered.  Describing what your book is about is less important than creating a specific feeling in the mind and heart of your audience: the feeling that they will be better off reading your book than not.

4)  Write something worth reading

This may seem obvious, but the fact of the matter is you have to have something pretty darn special.  I’m not saying this to depress anyone: I firmly believe that most people have great stories in them, and have the potential to learn how to tell them.  But make no mistake, it is something that takes practice, dedication, and perspiration. Writing is a skill.  It is a discipline.  Anyone can knock out a sentence or two.  But getting those sentences to grab a complete stranger to the point that he or she is willing to fork over hard-earned cash to read them is another matter.  Let alone getting them to like
the sentences enough that they want to tell their friends to spend their hard-earned cash on them.  Again, I really do believe that most people have it in them to do this.  But I also believe just as stridently that to get to that point takes practice, practice, and more practice.  I have spent thousands of hours learning how to write … and I continue to
learn.  Any author who wants to charm people into buying his or her work has to be willing to put in the effort to make it happen.  Because without the skill to back up your work, no matter how good your basic ideas are, they probably won’t sell.  There are exceptions (that’s right, Twilight), but for the most part a book has to be extraordinarily well-written in order to get people to buy it.

That’s not to say that everyone will like your book.  Some people don’t like RUN, or Billy: Messenger of Powers.  Or Harry Potter or anything by Stephen King or even the bestselling book of all time (the Bible).  But if you don’t care enough to develop your writing skills in service of your storytelling, you can bet that few (if any) will like it at all.

And so…

… there you have it, folks.  Again, I think most people have interesting stories to tell.  But without doing the four things above, the great story will probably sit quietly in a dark corner of your closet.  And that, my friends, is no fun at all.

Michaelbrent Collings is a bestselling novelist whose books RUN and Billy: Messenger of Powers have been bestsellers. He is also a produced screenwriter and member of both the Writers Guild of America and the Horror Writers of America. His blog is at, and you can follow him on Facebook at or on twitter @mbcollings.

A Little More on Giveaways

This post doesn’t deal with the legality of giveaways but rather the logistics. Tracking entrants can me a real pain—especially if you want them to do more than comment on a post.

For this site, I decided to try out a simple form system. I tested quite a few of the free ones and decided to go with Wufoo. It was easy to use and had a clean look, although it’s bigger than I’d like. But hey, FREE.

Here’s a site that lists several other free form makers.

If you want something more than a simple form, try Rafflecopter. I’ve used them on several sites in my real-life job.

Up until now, you had to ask to use them and wait for acceptance, but they’ve just done their official launch and anyone can use them now.

They’re also doing their own giveaway where you can win an iPad2 or a Kindle Fire. Here’s the link to that info. 

And while you’re there entering to win, browse their entire blog. They have lots of good ideas for holding giveaways. (Remember, I don’t know for sure that all their ideas are legal, as I am not an attorney, but some of the info is very, very good.)

Have you used something to track your giveaways that you can recommend? Let us know in the comments.

What is a Book Bomb?

A “book bomb” is when an author or publisher asks readers to purchase a particular book from Amazon on a specific day. If enough readers cooperate, it pushes the book up in Amazon’s rankings, giving it much more exposure than it would get if the same number of copies of the book were purchased over a longer period of time.

To schedule a book bomb, you use facebook, twitter, author newsletter lists, and other social media to get the word out: if you’re going to buy this book from Amazon, do it on this date, please.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t—depends on how connected an author is, how much buzz they can generate, and how internet/media savvy their readership is. Sometimes an author or publisher will offer a reward for participation. Send them proof that you ordered and you’re entered to win something cool, like an iPad or Kindle

A reasonable goal is to get the book to move up above 1,000 in Amazon’s listing. You’ve done a great job if it shows up in Amazon’s top 100 for it’s genre. If you’re really successful, it might even move to Amazon’s top 100 books overall. If a book hits any these markers, it very likely that it will be picked up in Amazon’s marketing and sent out in their promo emails to customers.

Some of you may have participated in the recent Book Bomb for Variant by Robison Wells. If you missed it, that’s too bad. Here’s what happened…

Coordinated by Larry Correia, the Book Bomb took place on Thursday, November 10th. The day before the bomb, Larry reported, “Last night Variant was at #6,068 overall out of six million some odd books, and #74 in his genre.”

By the end of the day on Thursday, Variant was #57 on Amazon’s Top 100 Book list, #10 in Teen Fantasy and #7 in Teen Sci-Fi.

I’ve watched Book Bombs play out before but I’ve never seen one be quite this successful. This is the power of social media in action! If you want to see the details, visit Larry’s blog.

Supporting Your Facebook Friends

After reading Michael Young’s posts on Facebook Fanpages, I hope all of you published (or very soon to be published) authors have created your fanpage.

Now it’s time to spread the love.

If you have a Facebook Fanpage, paste your link in the comments. It doesn’t have to be fully customized or functional yet. Just let us know it exists.

Readers, please go support your favorite authors by “liking” their fanpages.

Integrating Your Facebook Fanpage (Pt 3) by Michael Young

The last step in maximizing your Facebook Fanpage is to integrate that page into your website, blog and other social networking sites.

Phase 3: Integrating Your Page

1. Link to your new fanpage.
Put a link or button to your new fanpage on your regular Facebook profile, your blog, and anywhere else you can think of.

You can find some nice buttons and instructions for installing them at There are other places to get buttons too, but this is the one I use.

2. Sync your fan page.
If you like, you can sync many popular blogging platforms with your Facebook fanpage. I have my Blogger-based website to update my Facebook fanpage every time I write a new post with a link to that post on my fanpage wall.

[LDSP: A simple way to do this is using the Notes function on FB or an app like Networked Blogs. Both are quick, easy and automatic once you set them up. Fans can read your entire post without visiting your blog.

Or another option is to use a program like HootSuite. It takes a little more work, but it lets you schedule which blog posts to sync, including archived articles. HootSuite allows you to offer a teaser on your FB page, but then the reader has to click to your blog to read your actual article.

There are pros and cons to both options. Pick the one that works for you.]

There are many other aspects of a fanpage, but that should be enough to get you started. It is a great place to announce things and interact with fans.

You can take a look at what I have done at my page:, or if you have any questions about how to set up and configure your own page, feel free to shoot me an email:

Good luck!

Michael D. Young is the author of the novels The Canticle Kingdom and The Last Archangel. He is also the author of the inspirational pamphlet “Portrait of a Mother”. His work has been featured in various online and print magazines such as Mindflights, The New Era, Allegory, and Ensign. You can visit him at his website,, and his facebook fanpage,

Customizing Your Facebook Fanpage (Pt 2) by Michael Young

After you’ve created your Facebook fanpage, you need to customize it to fit your needs and to maximize exposure of your books.

Phase 2: Customize Your Page

1. Add content to your page.
Upload videos and photos of you at book signings, readings, school visits—anything that provides evidence that “hey, I’m a real author.” I have a picture of each one of my books with a comment that has information about it and a purchase link.

Photo of my book.

2. Fill out the info section.
Include more links, and a little more about yourself as an author, including what sorts of books you like to read. I also include my author biography here.

3. Get 25 fans as quickly as you can.
You will not be able to get a custom URL for your Facebook page until you have at least 25 fans. Post on your main profile about your page, send out emails, post to other social networks—do whatever you can to get 25 fans (people who “like” your page) as quickly as possible.

4. Rename your URL with a custom name.
When you first create your page, its URL with be: over which you have no control)

Not exactly something you can drop in a conversation or put on a bookmark. Once you have your 25 fans (likes), you can customize your URL.

To do this, click on “Edit Page” in the top right corner and then click on “Resources” on the left-hand menu. Finally, click on “Select a username”. You will then be able to choose a name, provided that it is not already taken.

NOTE: Think your name decision through very carefully. You with NOT be able to change it once you have set it.

I chose the name “authormichaelyoung” and now my URL reads Much easier.

5. Create Custom Tabs and Pages:
There are many free programs that will allow you to create custom tabs on your Facebook fanpage, which enhance the look and utility of the page. Here are a few I’ve used. (There are many more.)

  • The free version allows you to create a custom landing page that new visitors to your page will see. It is easy to customize and produces great results. (I have one for my page. If you haven’t “liked” it yet, you should see it when you pull it up. If you have, you can click on the “Welcome” tab to see it.)

  • This is an amazing free site that allows you to create stress-free giveaways. They have instructions on their site once you have registered about how to create a “Giveaways” tab on your Facebook page. Check out my page to see what this looks like.

  • If you search for Goodreads on Facebook, you can gain access to a free app that will display your books and reviews from Goodreads as a tab on your Facebook page. You need to register as an author as first.

Tomorrow: Phase 3: Integrating Your Page

Michael D. Young is the author of the novels The Canticle Kingdom and The Last Archangel. He is also the author of the inspirational pamphlet “Portrait of a Mother”. His work has been featured in various online and print magazines such as Mindflights, The New Era, Allegory, and Ensign. You can visit him at his website,, and his facebook fanpage,

Creating Your Own Facebook Fanpage, Part 1 by Michael Young

This is part 1 of a 3 part tutorial on creating and customizing a Facebook Fanpage—something EVERY published author should have. ~LDSP

Let’s face it. As an author, you don’t necessarily want to share everything will your fans. You probably don’t want to them all to see every picture of your kids or the invite to your family barbecue with an occasional message about your writing.

Instead, you want to use your Facebook page to build your brand as a writer with a specific message to your specific fans. Luckily, building such a page is both simple and can be completely free.

Here is a list of simple steps that will take you from square one to…a much more advanced square.

Phase 1: Create Your Page

1. From your Facebook account, click on “Pages” on the left hand menu.

2. Click on the button that says “Create a Page”.

3. Select “Artist, Band or Public Figure” and then choose “Author” from the dropdown menu.

4. Choose a name and agree to the terms.

5. Choose a profile image. (The cover of one of your books works well, or your author headshot)

6. Invite your friends and announce the creation of your page on your main profile.

7. Enter the address of your website or blog and a short description that gives visitors an idea of what you write.

8. Viola! Your page is born.

Tomorrow: Phase 2: Customize Your Page

Michael D. Young is the author of the novels The Canticle Kingdom and The Last Archangel. He is also the author of the inspirational pamphlet “Portrait of a Mother”. His work has been featured in various online and print magazines such as Mindflights, The New Era, Allegory, and Ensign. You can visit him at his website,, and his facebook fanpage,

Facebook Ads

Do you think it’s worth it to place an ad on Facebook?

Readers, I’m going to need some help on this one.

I don’t really know a lot about Facebook or Facebook ads. As anyone who is my friend already knows (and if you aren’t my friend, come friend me), I had someone set my account up to include my posts there automatically. I try to log in every couple of weeks and see what’s going on, but I don’t usually post anything. So my advice is do what I say and not what I do.

Every author should have a Facebook Page, which is different that a basic account or a group. My understanding is that it allows you to have more friends, a vanity URL, and the ability to use fancy promo widgets. Make sure you have images of your books, links to your website and blog, and other info. Remember, this is a page for fans, so think before you post things.

As to Facebook ads, anybody out there try one? Did you feel it was successful?

(P.S. If you are Facebook savvy and you’d like to do a guest post here on setting up and using Facebook fan pages as a marketing tool, PLEASE, read this and send me an e-mail.)

How Do I Get a Book Review?

I’ve self published a book [XYZ for ABC’ers] because there isn’t any books in the lds market for this age group. I couldn’t get Deseret Book, Covenant Comm or Cedar Fort interested in my manuscript because they said the niche was too small. Any suggestions on how to get a book review out there in LDS magazines or?

First off, I’d suggest a blog promo tour. (Click here for great tips on doing your own blog tour from Danyelle Ferguson.)

Or you could hire someone to help you set one up. (Another regular guest blogger here, Tristi Pinkston, coordinates virtual book tours.)

If you do it on your own, first set a budget. You’ll need to send out review packets which should contain a copy of your book AND a press kit. Determine how much it will cost you to create and ship each packet and the number of reviewers you can afford to send it to.

Then, make a list. Include both LDS print magazines (Google: LDS magazines) and LDS bloggers who do book reviews (Google: LDS book reviewers). Go to their websites, particularly their information pages, and see if they review LDS non-fiction. Read some of their reviews to see if you like their style. Read their guidelines for submitting a book for review. (It seems like I’m giving the same advice to everyone this week.)

Find magazines that have a wide distribution and review blogs that have high traffic and hit counts. Cross off any reviewer who expects you to pay for the review or who requires you to run an ad. Then sort your list in the order of preference. You’re looking for reviewers who do an in-depth review, who are honest and fair, and who seem predisposed to enjoy the type of book you’ve written. (For example, if they only review fiction, your non-fiction book might not be a good match for them. Or if you write fantasy, don’t send your book to someone who has never given a fantasy book a positive review.) Once you’ve got a good list, you’re almost ready to go.


Send an email to the magazine/blogger first. The email should be a customized version of your cover letter (as described here). Ask if they’d be interested in reviewing your book. Ask about their review schedule—if they can’t get to your book for six months, they’re not a good option. For bloggers, you can give them a time frame of when you’d like the review to post.

Once the reviewer has said they’re interested and they have the time to review your book on your schedule, THEN mail the packet. Follow up in a week to make sure they got it.

One very important note about asking for reviews: Do not assume you’ll get a glowing review. You might—and if you’ve done your homework well, you’ve stacked the deck in your favor. But, no matter what the review, do not argue with it. Do not fight. Do not leave nasty comments on the blog or send mean emails. After the review prints/posts, simply thank the reviewer for their time. If it’s a print magazine, send them a nice thank you note in the mail. If it’s a blogger, leave a nice thank you comment on the review post.

Readers, other ideas or advice?

Unique Blog Tour Tips by Danyelle Ferguson

Most authors – no matter if they are traditionally published or self published – set up their own blog tours. Some authors band together with peers who write in the same genre, then do a big blog tour together or contest together (like the Massive Romance Reader Squee Moment Ahead contest). Other authors send a “Call to Review” on their blogs or emails (See H.B. Moore’s blog post).

But what if you want to hit a broader market? Or you want to target certain niche readers? A great blog tour has reviewers with both small (100+) and big (1000+) follower counts, reviewers who have relationships with the author & reviewers who don’t know the author, and covers a variety of geographical locations.

For my book – (dis)Abilities and the Gospel – I wanted to get a wide variety of reviewers. Very few people on the tour were writer friends. My goal was to have a lot of reviewers who didn’t know me, who attended different churches, and who either had kids with cognitive disabilities or were church teachers who had someone in their class with a cognitive disability. Here’s how I found them:

First: Get Organized.
I’m a huge spreadsheet organization freak. It’s probably the only area I’m really good at keeping everything on track (Ask my hubby. I’m horrible at keeping my desk organized!) But spreadsheets – I can whip them out like crazy and keep track of gobs of things that way. And a good spreadsheet is essential when putting together a blog tour.

So, let’s get started. Create a spreadsheet with the following fields: Reviewer’s Name, Blog Title, Blog Address, Email Address, # of Followers, Target (for me this was either parent, church teacher, or book reviewer), Contacted On (date you emailed review request), Response, Scheduled Review Date and Review Copy Sent. Add blogs you are interested in to this list. Once you’ve done all your research, sort the list by number of followers and pick some of the bigger blogs and mark those lines in another color. Then sort the list by targets and see which demographics you need more of and mark those with a different color.

Then start sending emails to the bloggers. I had a lot of people return my emails saying they had never done a book review or participated in a blog tour. I sent them additional information, along with expectations for the tour (I gave them the option to choose a date within the tour time frame and told them I wanted their honest opinion about the book). Don’t be afraid to choose reviewers who don’t have book blogs, but have a connection to the topic related to in your book. During my tour, one of my reviewers was a cake decorator who had a child with autism. Her review not only introduced my book to a large group I wasn’t connected with, but was also picked up by several e-magazines. (See Topsy Turvy Cakes)

Start with Your Contacts
If you’re traditionally published, shoot an email over to your marketing team and ask if they have any blog book reviewers they recommend. My publisher actually had a few and even offered to send those bloggers review copies if they agreed to be on the tour.

I also emailed out to some disability and church groups I work with to see if they had recommendations, blogs they frequently went to for information, etc. If you write YA, email out to your nieces, nephews, church youth groups, your friends’ kids, etc and ask them what blogs they go to check out cool stuff.

Twitter was actually my best resource to discover new reviewers. If you’re not on Twitter, then you should start a profile. It’s a great way to connect with others – even if you don’t post on it daily. I try to go out once a week to socialize for about an hour.

On the Twitter homepage, there’s a link at the top that says “Who to Follow”. If you click on it, it brings you to a page with a search box. You can search for anything here (book reviewers, YA Romance, etc). You can also search for books that are like yours – for example, Matched by Ally Condie. Twitter searches through status updates and profile descriptions to suggest friends for you. For my tour, I searched for autism, LDS autism, Down syndrome, special needs, and church to name a few.I went through about a hundred profiles, checked out their activity and following. I also looked at who that person followed. I often found more good leads that way. After narrowing down who I wanted to review, I contacted them through either Twitter email or an email address that was listed on the profile.

Another tip is to do geographical searches – such as Autism Canada or Fantasy Reader Arizona.
Take advantage of hashtag searches too. Check out authors who write in the same genre as you and see what they are doing on Twitter. Elana Johnson did a huge Twitter promo for her book Possession using the hashtag #tagged. You could go through the postings with that hashtag to find readers who loved her book, then contact them to review your book.

Amazon & Goodreads
The awesome thing about Amazon and Goodreads is that they link to their reviewers profiles. Some of those reviewers list their websites or blogs. So you can check out books similar to yours and do some research on readers. Find a few who you really like, then send them an email through their website or blog.

Check Out Other Authors
It’s time to go hit the websites for all the big authors who write in your genre. Especially if you know of an author who has a book coming out in the next few months. They often list all the stops on their blog tour (Check out Ashley March’s pre-publication book tour). Go check out those reviewers and their guidelines. (BTW – Keep all this info in a spreadsheet for future reference!) To find more authors: Go to, type in an author’s name and hit enter, then check out the “Related Searches” results just under the search box.

In Closing
Putting together a good blog tour involves a bit of internet stalking sleuthing. But it’s totally worth it when you put together a completed list of reviewers from all over. The goal of a blog tour isn’t just to get (hopefully) awesome reviews, but to reach reader circles you currently don’t have connections with. Go for variety! Happy book tour scheduling!

Danyelle Ferguson is the author of (dis)Abilities and the Gospel: How to Bring People with Special Needs Closer to Christ. She’s also a public speaker to churches and disability groups, freelance editor and book reviewer. She lives in Kansas with her hubby and four angels-in-training. For more information, you can check out her blog ( or her website (

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A Guide to Signing at Costco by Tristi Pinkston

I was very blessed to have my sixth novel, Dearly Departed, picked up by Costco. I signed there regularly from the end of June to the end of August, and had a fantastic time. I’d like to share with you some of the things I learned during those two months in hopes that they’ll be helpful to other authors who will also be given that opportunity. Keep in mind that these are things that worked for me, and as you go into the stores, you may find your own ways of attracting customers. There are many ways to skin a cat, as the saying goes—although I never have understood why anyone would want to skin a cat.


There are a few things you can do at home before you ever go to the store that will help ensure your success. Eat a good meal with a lot of protein. Dress in nice, but comfortable, clothing. Wear supportive shoes. Yes, ladies, it’s tempting to wear your cute new high heels, but I really advise against it—your feet, ankles, knees, and hips will pay the price. I also found that I became very warm in the store, so after my first few visits, I started wearing my hair up in a clip rather than down. That helped me not overheat. You know what your body needs—honor it and prepare to take care of it.
I recommend that you prepare a bag or a box with the following things—
  • A cute tablecloth. Costco does provide one, but sometimes they are dusty or a little bedraggled, and if you bring your own, you can be sure that it’s in good condition and goes well with your book.
  • A table decoration of some kind. I was given a cute statue of a bookworm, and I sat him on my table at every signing. Not only did he give a little more visual interest to the table, but the little kids just loved him and would often stop to pat his head, which made their parents pause for a moment, which gave me the opportunity to speak with them.
  • A water bottle. You’ll be talking a lot, you’ll get thirsty, and you will want to keep yourself hydrated. [LDSP: and breath mints]
  • A handout. This may be one of the most important things you can bring. I’ll discuss this in more detail below.
At the Store:

Try to arrive fifteen minutes early. When you let the manager know you’re there, they will ask an employee to help you set up, and that usually takes a few minutes. You want to start your signing on time to fit in as many actual sales opportunities as possible, so by showing up a little early and getting set up, you can begin when you’re supposed to.
Put plenty of books on your table. It sometimes feels easiest just to grab one small stack from the table, but you want your table to look abundant. This also gives you, and your customers, a subliminal message: “I expect to sell a lot of books today.” That will create an atmosphere that is very conducive to sales.
Have everything you need out on the table. Signing pen, bookmarks, newsletter sign-up sheet—have it all accessible so that when you need it, you don’t have to stop and dig for it.
The Actual Signing:
Now that you’re all set up and ready to go, it’s time to have some fun!
Personal interaction is the best way to bring people over to your table. Some authors have already created such a name for themselves that they can sit quietly behind their table and they will get mobbed by scores of rabid fans. Other authors, though, are still working on building up their name recognition, and they do that by interacting with the public. Stand, rather than sit. When you stand, you are many times over more likely to attract attention. Smile and say hello to everyone who passes. And … here’s where handouts come into play.
Think of something you can bring with you to give people as they go past. I did bookmarks at first, and handed out hundreds per signing. But that wasn’t the best use of marketing money. Even though I did get a number of sales, the bookmarks were around six cents each, and if I handed out two hundred at a signing, it was adding up to $12.00 per signing for bookmarks. I was also afraid that the customers would just toss the bookmark at their earliest opportunity, and that would be a waste. So I came up with an idea that was unique to my books. I made up a black-and-white flyer on a half sheet of paper that showed the cover of my book and a catchy blurb, and then at the bottom was a recipe. This tied in with my book because at the end of the Secret Sisters Mysteries series, we’re releasing a cookbook that will feature the foods mentioned in all the books.
Then, as people went past, I would say, “Hi! Would you like a free recipe?” If they said yes, I would hand it to them and say, “There’s also some information on there about my new novel.” In this way, I got my information into their hands, called their attention to the fact that there was more on the sheet than just a recipe, and opened up the door for a conversation. Coming in at two for a penny, the fliers were more cost effective, and because people love to keep recipes, I decreased the likelihood that it would just be thrown away.
When They Say No …

Customers in Costco are very busy. I know that when I shop in there, I put myself in battle mode. I have a list, I know where I’m going, and I walk fast. My mom has often complained that she doesn’t like to go there with me because I walk so fast, she can’t keep up. That’s just the mentality of the Costco shopper. We know we need to have a firm objective or we’ll get lost in the hustle and bustle.
As people pass your table, they are very often in this mindset, and they will often say “no” before they even know what you want. This isn’t an uncommon exchange:
Me: Hi there! Would you like—
Them: No!
This isn’t something to take personally. To quote the Madagascar penguins, just smile and wave. (You don’t really need to wave, though.) Just turn to the next passing person. Most customers will be very appreciative of the thing you’re giving them, and will be polite in their refusals, if they aren’t interested.
After the Hand-off:
I believe that in any book signing situation, there are three steps the author should take in feeling out the customer and introducing their product. It has a lot to do with feeling out the customer’s interest level and showing respect by not being pushy. If you offer your information in a non-pushy way, that customer is likely to remember you kindly, and they may purchase from you down the road, even if they don’t today. If you’re pushy and in their face, they will remember it, and they will tell their friends, and you’ll build a reputation opposite to what you want.
The first step is what I think of as the introductory step. At Costco, I’ll greet people with an invitation to accept a recipe. As I hand over the recipe, I tell them there’s also a blurb on there about my new book. If they take the recipe and keep walking, I leave it at that. However, if they pause, we go into the second step.
This is to give them my quickest pitch about the book. In the case of Dearly Departed, it’s: “My main characters are three little old ladies who infiltrate a nursing home to solve a murder.” If they are still engaged, I then say, “It’s a lighthearted mystery comedy, a ton of humor all the way through, without any language or graphic violence.” At this point, they generally either thank me and keep walking, or they start to ask me questions.
It’s important to break up your pitch into sections like this so you can give just the right amount of information to meet the interest level of the person. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve:
  • been at a store and had an author or salesman give me a much longer pitch than I wanted to hear
  • been at a store and wanted to know more, but the author or salesman had prepared a pitch that was so short, I was left wanting, and they didn’t seem to know what to say after that
Be respectful of your customer’s time and don’t try to make them listen to more than they want to hear, but be prepared to have long conversations as well.
When Not to Approach:
To go along with our discussion of being respectful, I’d like to suggest that you not approach the following groups of people—
  • People on the phone
  • Mothers who are currently wrestling with screaming children
  • People who are visibly upset
In each of these instances, step back and give them space. They’re dealing with something bigger than their decision whether or not to buy a book, and to intrude would be rude and thoughtless.
Taking Note of Your Target Audience:
My book is about an elderly Relief Society presidency, so generally speaking, the people who buy my books are middle-aged ladies. When I am approaching people, I tend to naturally gravitate toward those ladies in my marketing efforts, and find myself more rewarded. However, this is not to say that we should ignore everyone else—it’s just saying that we need to be aware of which demographics are more likely to buy. I had a great conversation with a guy studying film making at UVU with an emphasis on horror. That may be about as different from what I do as you can get (except erotica) but we had a great conversation. He didn’t buy a book, but he took my information, and I was able to share some things with him that he found helpful. I also sold a book each to two Goth girls wearing plastic bras. It surprised the daylights out of me that they were interested because I hadn’t pegged them as people who would want what I had to offer, but they came up to me and asked me to sign two copies. This shows the importance of smiling and greeting everyone who passes, even if you think they aren’t likely to purchase.
Sometimes It’s Not about Sales:
During my two months at Costco, I had the opportunity to meet some amazing people. Several of them were aspiring authors who needed some guidance in how to take the next step. Some of them just needed someone to talk to at that moment, like the lady who was planning her husband’s funeral. To me, a successful signing isn’t measured by books sold. It’s measured by lives touched, both me being helpful to someone else, and the things I learn from the people I talk to.
Taking Care of Yourself:

We’ve talked about standing up, but now I want to talk about sitting down. It’s important that you not push your body further than it can go. If you’re not used to standing on hard floors for long periods of time, work up to it gradually. Sit down during slow times. Stay hydrated. Make sure that you’re not hurting yourself. It’s wonderful to have this Costco opportunity—it’s something only a small percentage of authors get to do—but approach it wisely and make sure you’re not hurting yourself. Know your limits and honor them.
Bringing Helpers:
You might find it helpful to bring someone along to help you, especially if you’re in one of the larger stores. I did several signings alone, and at other times brought my mom, my son, or my husband along, and in each case, found that having a helper was a good idea. They could hand out fliers to people while I talked to prospective customers. They held down the fort while I ran to the bathroom. They could refill my water bottle. Having a helper there can increase your productivity. It’s something for you to feel out for yourself, but I found it to be a good thing. And when it came to my son, it seems no one could resist his cute little face. Nearly every person he approached took a flier.
Most Importantly …
Have fun! You’re there to celebrate this awesome accomplishment—you are a published author and you have landed a spot in one of the most coveted sales venues in the nation. Enjoy it. Enjoy the people. Enjoy the chance to share what you love to do. If you find that nothing else I’ve said strikes a chord with you, I hope this does—leave the stress behind and just appreciate the moment. Your talents are being given a showcase. Your name recognition is about to skyrocket. Your opportunity for future sales is going to increase exponentially. You are planting seeds for a bounteous harvest later on. The expression “joy in the journey” is completely applicable here—even if you have a slow day, you are paving a path for your future as your information gets into people’s hands. I did a signing at Swiss Days in Midway and was told over and over, “I saw your book in Costco.” You become recognized, and in this industry, that’s a good thing.
My book is no longer being carried in Costco—you need to hit a certain sales bracket in order to remain in the store over an extended period of time, and because my book is a little more specialized, that didn’t happen. But I know my experiences there are going to help me in a ton of other ways, and I’m so happy for the chance I had to be a Costco author.

Tristi Pinkston is the author of eight published books, including the Secret Sisters mystery series. In addition to being a prolific author, Tristi also provides a variety of author services, including editing, coordinating blog tours, and online writing instruction. You can visit her at or her website at

Do I Have to Have a Launch Party?

Do I have to have a launch party, or can I just send out announcements?

No. You don’t have to have a launch party.

However, book sales are greatly benefited by the human connection—the more you interact with readers on a personal level where they can meet and greet and get to know you, the better your sales. A launch party is a fun way to do this.

If you just can’t do a face-to-face launch party, then get on Facebook and make friends. Blog. Have a virtual launch party with activities and prizes. Do something to let people know you and like you.

HELP ME Find Your Books!

And by “ME,” I don’t just mean LDS Publisher—I mean every single reader out there who accesses the Internet!

If you’re a published (or about to be published) author, you need an Internet presence and you need good solid information about your book(s)!

I know I’ve talked about this before but I think it bears repeating because because a lot of you (especially newly published authors) are NOT doing this. How do I know you’re not doing it? Because I’m googling you!

When I hear about a new LDS author or that an author has a new book about to come out, I google you to find the needed information to post about your book on the LDS Fiction site. I should be able to find you in three clicks. Guess what? Often, I can’t find you in 30 clicks!

Okay, rarely am I that persistent. But the point is, if I’m not willing to look that hard for you, potential readers won’t be either. If they can’t find you in three clicks, they’ll assume you aren’t that good and won’t bother. Lost sale, lost fan.

Sometimes when I do find an author blog, I’m able to determine that yes, the person is an author, and yes, the person does have a book coming out or the book has been recently released. But that’s all. No mention of the title, the release date, the publisher. I know that in our culture, we’re trained not to toot our own horn but there’s a difference between over-doing the bragging and simply providing information to interested parties.

Here is the bare minimum that you need to do:

  • Have a blog or website. They don’t have to be fancy. A simple, visually appealing static blog using a basic template is better than nothing.
  • Have a post about your book. Use LDS Fiction posts as a template. In fact, if your book is listed there, copy and paste it onto your blog, if you want. I don’t care.
  • If you have more than one book, do a post on each book. If you have a series, let us know in what order to read the books.
  • Make sure there is at least one link in that post to a place where readers can buy your book online—Amazon, Borders, Barnes and Noble, Deseret Book, Seagull, BYU Bookstore, your publisher… (the more options the better)
  • With publisher permission, post the first chapter of your book on your blog.
  • Put the book covers as pictures in your sidebar.
  • When you have a new book coming out, get that information up there as soon as possible!
  • If you’re doing a book signing or speaking somewhere, set up a Page on your blog and put a link in your sidebar, with information well in advance of the event. Include date, time, location, complete address, phone number of location (if available), and if you’re savvy, a link to a map of how to get there.

Here are just a few authors who I think do it right. Some of them have fancy websites, others have simple blogs—but they all have good information about their books that is easy to find.



If you have a blog or website that you think is a good example of doing it right, feel free to put your link in the comments section.

Don’t have a blog and need help setting one up? I’ve put some basic info under the label Blogging 101.

Great! But how do you get in on those signings?

That’s what Brenda commented about this post.

First, talk to your publisher. Sometimes they will set these up for you. I understand Valor did an amazing launch with five of their authors last night. Or, if they don’t usually do this, they might be willing to give it a try, especially if you do a lot of the legwork for them.

If your publisher is not at all interested, then this is when NETWORKING really earns back all the time and energy you’ve put into it. Hopefully you’re part of some writing associations (if you’re not, join some). Many of these associations sponsor a yearly conference and have author signings during the event. See if you can get in on that. Then, while there, get to know the other authors. Find who you really click with and those who have books that will complement but not compete with your book.

Talk to all your author friends and get a group of 3 to 5 authors committed to doing a group signing. It helps if one of the authors is established and has a name that pulls people in.

Designate the author with the best verbal/social/business skills to contact bookstores and set up signings. Pick a theme—these signings work best if you can turn them into a party. Have posters and bag stuffers made for the store. Do door prizes, maybe even cookies. (I always bring special treats and small gifts for the bookstore staff.) Brainstorm and come up with some fun ideas.

Then get the word out: blog, facebook and tweet yourself silly.

When it’s over, be sure to THANK the bookstore. Then build on your success. If your group of authors can pull in 100 people and sell books to all of them (or most of them) then the bookstore is going to think you’re the best thing since sliced bread and they’ll love working with you in the future.

How to Set Up an Aspiring Author Website by Jordan McCollum

Jordan posted a comment on this post with links to her articles on setting up a website. Since not everyone reads the comments, I asked to re-post her original article here. The following is reposted with permission.

If you’ve been following our website review series, you’ve learned some great things to do (and not to do) when setting up your website. Maybe you’re ready for a “real” website, but not sure how to get it. It’s okay; I’ve worked with websites and Internet marketing for the better part of my life and I still didn’t know exactly how to set up a website until I did my own. And it’s easy.

There are three basic things you need for a functioning website:

  1. a domain (you get this from a domain registrar, like GoDaddy)
  2. a host to store your website’s pages and files (from a hosting company)
  3. (technically, you don’t need this, but unless you’re going to be doing all your coding by hand, you’ll want it) software to work the back end—and hopefully generate the HTML code (usually provided by the hosting company, too)

blogger logoSometimes you can get these things together. Blogger, for example, will give you everything—your domain is, Blogger stores your pages and files, and Blogger software generates your HTML code and provides the software that lets you maintain your site.

In fact, you can make Blogger into your “real” website, which can be especially useful if you’re going to be the one maintaining it. You can also use Blogger Custom Domain to put your Blogger blog at, and Camy Tang has a useful guide on how to make a a basic free blog more like a website.

Getting more advanced

If you feel like you’re ready for a more “real” website, but still apprehensive about setting one up, here’s my advice: use WordPress. This is especially great if you’re already comfortable with blogging software, because you get the ease of blogging software and the features of a “real” website.

wplogoYou can use (and you can get a blog to show up at, too, but it’s not free like it is on Blogger)—or you can use It’s the same software, but with you can customize your blog however you want.

However, for, you also have to get hosting—space on a server to store your website’s files for others to access them. I’ve been with BlueHost for over two years, and they’ve done really well for me. I chose them because they were inexpensive ($7/month), and one of WordPress’s recommended hosts.

WordPress has some advantages over Blogger that make it more like a “real” website. Camy Tang’s guide above will help you create static pages like an about page or a contact page on Blogger. That’s great—but they’re still going to look and act like posts on your blog.

With WordPress, however, you can keep blog posts and pages separate. Don’t want a blog? That’s okay—you can do that with WordPress, too, and just use the page features to easily create a static website instead. Check out the menu bar at the top of my site. See how it says “About” and “Projects,” etc.? Those link to WordPress pages—timeless, static webpages that aren’t posts on the blog.

Also neat: WordPress made that menu bar all by itself. I didn’t have to do a thing. It updates the menu bar whenever I update a page. WordPress is highly customizable, in both the site design and software—and for free.

If you want to create a WordPress website on BlueHost, sign up for BlueHost using my affiliate link and I’ll send you a free PDF guide to setting up WordPress with BlueHost*—with info on installation, set up, importing blogs, add-ons and more! (If you’re planning to import another blog, also check out my search-engine friendly guide to migrating from Blogger to WordPress to make your switch safe and easy.)

What do you think? Are you ready for a real website?

* To get the guide, be sure to email me at guide at once you’ve completed the sign up.


In the LDS market, are blurbs on a book cover from established authors an effective marketing tool? Especially in the case of a release from a first time author?

Personally, as a reader, I never look at the blurbs. Since I don’t know the blurbers personally, I can’t determine whether their blurb is an honest eval or something they’ve done to please their publisher. Therefore, I assume all of them to be hype and ignore them accordingly.

However, the powers that be must feel that blurbs accomplish something because they’re all over every book. Since that is the case, I say go ahead and jump on the blurb-o-wagon. Get them. Give them. Whatever.

Readers: Have you ever purchased a book based on a blurb from someone you didn’t know personally? How and why did it influence you?

Setting Up a Signing

How do you set up a signing? Do you think signings help?

Let your publisher know that you want to do signings and see if they have a process in place to set them up for you. However, unless you’re a BIG seller, be prepared to travel on your own nickel.

If your publisher doesn’t set up signings or you’re self-published, you’ll need to do this yourself. You’ll have the most success setting up signings in your local area or an area to which you have connections—like maybe the town where you grew up.

Visit or call the local bookstores to make sure they stock your book.

Then stop by and introduce yourself. Take business cards and/or bookmarks. Ask what the store policy is on book signings and who is in charge of setting them up. Make an appointment to speak to that person. (Do not assume that they will be there and able to speak to you right then.)

For every visit, dress professionally—this means business casual, at the most relaxed. Hair done, make-up on, if you’re a woman. Hair combed and freshly shaven (or trimmed), if you’re a man. And please, please, please, brush your teeth and pop a breath mint before you go.

Be prepared to state what you will do to help advertise the event:

  • Provide posters for the doors/windows.
  • Provide bag stuffer flyers.
  • Be willing to bring treats or door prizes.
  • Time a press release or human interest story in the local paper that will list the dates, times and locations of your signings.
  • Online promo for the signing—and this should be more than a simple mention in a blog post. Facebook it, Twitter it, send it in your newsletter. You need to be able yo give them an estimate of how many people you’ll be able to drive through their doors.
  • Bring author friends for a multi-signing event (if the store is interested).

The more work you do, the more likely the bookstore is to host a signing.

And DO NOT go in with the attitude that you’re doing them a favor. Unless you’re a BIG name that’s going to draw hundreds of customers, most book signings are not worth the time and effort for the store. They are doing YOU a favor to let you come in and meet your public.

One more thing to note: Not all bookstores do book signings. If they refuse you, be pleasant and tell them that if they’re interested in the future, to give you a call. Then ask if they’d like you to sign the books on their shelves. You want them to be impressed by how easy to work with and accommodating you are; not intimidated by your bullying self.

And yes, I do think signings help, but not in the way most authors imagine. They don’t usually help generate immediate sales for the store. It helps to sell your work over time. Signings are most helpful because they personalize you to the workers at the bookstore. If they like you, they will recommend your book to customers after you leave. (This is not really favoritism, it’s just the way people work.)

Do Book Trailers Work?

What do you think of book trailers? 

Book trailers seem to be the “in” thing right now. I’ve never really worked with trailers because they weren’t common practice when I worked in-house at a publishing company.

I’ve seen some trailers that look great and some that look awful. They’re expensive to make and I have no idea how effective they are.

Readers, help! Answer these questions in the comments:

  • As a reader, have you ever purchased a book based on the book trailer?
  • Have you ever NOT purchased a book based on the trailer?

  • As an author, do you have trailers for your book(s)?
  • Do the trailers seem to help with sales?
  • Do you feel the trailer was worth the cost?

Where can we post/how can we use trailers to use them as marketing tools?

YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, your website or blog. Again, readers, I need your help. Where else?

If you’re an author and your book is on LDS Fiction and you have a trailer, send me an e-mail with a link to your trailer and I’ll add it to your book post.

What’s With This Twitter Thing Anyway? Guest Post by Jaime Thelar

I started twittering not too long ago, as you readers may know—and as of today, I have 100 followers. Now what do I do? Since I’m behind the curve on this geeky type stuff, I asked Jaime Theler to explain it all. Thanks, Jaime!

I’m pretty vocal with friends and acquaintances about my love affair with Twitter. (Thanks, friend and techo-savvy guru Matthew Buckley for getting me hooked!) Usually the response I get is a raised eyebrow and a disbelieving look. I mean, it’s called “Twitter,” which sounds like something a six-year-old would say over and over while giggling, like the word “pooh.”

Eventually some of the skeptics decide to give it a try. Then I get emails, messages, and conversations that go something like this:

I heard all about this Twitter thing, so I reluctantly gave in and joined. Now I have an account, 4 followers, and I don’t get it. Who cares what I eat for breakfast or that I’m going to the store? This is stupid! I’m going back to Facebook.”

Impatient are you, my young Padowan. Knowledge need you.

*cough* *clearing throat*
Okay, that’s enough talking like Yoda. I can’t even do it in a blog.

Anyway, what I was trying to say by channeling the little green dude is that perhaps the problem stems from not understanding Twitter and how it is, and more importantly, is not, like Facebook.

*Disclaimer: I am a Twitter enthusiast, not a Twitter expert. You can find several discussions, articles, and blogs about Twitter and why it’s popular and how it’s changing the world and why the little bird should be your favorite animal, etc. etc. I’m just sharing why I like it and why it’s valuable to me.

What Twitter is not:
Twitter is not the place to connect with your ex boyfriend’s best friend’s sister that you lost touch with after high school. Neither is it the place to build your own farm, aquarium, or medieval castle. You won’t find BeJeweled or MahJong or notes with 40 random questions that you then pass on to your friends. You can’t post 140 pictures of your last race, (adopting innocent, “who, me?” expression) or take quizzes about which 80’s movie you are, or what your birthday says about you, or what your Native American name is. And on Twitter you won’t see everyone else you know who is doing all these things.

What Twitter is:
1. Twitter is like removing all the extraneous bits of Facebook and leaving the status, but Tweeters (or tweeps) don’t use it like the status updates in Facebook.

2. Twitter is more public than Facebook, because anyone can follow you on Twitter, but you don’t have to follow them back. This is why you’ll see so many celebrities on Twitter, because they can have a kerjillion fans but not have to wade through a kerjillion fans’ worth of Tweets.

3. Twitter is more business. It’s for staying current in an industry. I follow hundreds of writers, editors, agents, and publishers, and the vast majority of them I’ve never met. Yet they carry on a constant conversation with each other and their followers about the industry. When the whole best-seller price war happened I knew about it right away, as well as their reactions to it. I also find out what drives agents nuts, when they get excited about something in the business, and when they have a big deal. The people share links to great blog posts, contests, or things of interest to the business.

4. Twitter is fast. You only have 140 characters per Tweet, so you won’t get rambling discourses. If you want to check out someone’s link you click on it, if you don’t want to, you don’t. If you like something someone else said, you retweet it.

5. Twitter is what’s happening in real time. Here’s an analogy–> if Facebook is the 30 minute evening news, Twitter is the ticker at the bottom of the screen.

6. Twitter is also entertaining. You learn how to tweet something that is a) interesting and/or b) informative in an entertaining, ADHD way. And you get to know another side of people.

7. Twitter brings together people for real time conversations. When your tweet involves a common topic, then you include what’s called a hashtag. It involves a # sign and a word or string of words. Then people can search for that hashtag and pull up all the tweets on Twitter about that subject. Some common ones I use are #amwriting (for tweets about my current WIP) or #writegoal (self-explanatory). There are hundreds of people using these hashtags and it develops into a network of people with similar interests. They cheer each other on, or vent to each other.

Like this tweet this morning by @GripeMaster:

Done” in the sense of “done until tomorrow, when it becomes worthless because I changed everything–again.”#amwriting

Oh, can I identify with him!

There are even groups that set up a certain time to talk about a topic. For example, the topic of #nano is pretty hot. Some agents do an hour of answering questions on #askagent, some authors do #askanauthor, and there are several groups of writers, readers, agents, and publishers that participate in discussions like the weekly #kidlitchat and #yalitchat. It’s like sitting around and instant messaging with dozens of people at once who like talking about the same things as you, and you don’t even have to shower.

You can use the Twitter Search to find the conversations under these hashtags, but if I want to follow a conversation as it’s happening I prefer Monitter, which is a free, real time, live twitter monitor. It gives you three columns so you can follow three topics at once–and never get anything done. 😉

Try following one of these conversations. Twitter user @Georgia_McBride hosts #YAlitchat on Wed. @ 9PM Eastern. #Kidlitchat Tues @ 9 Eastern. Here’s a link to her post where she explains more about it, and where she posts the transcripts after she’s done. You don’t have to participate or even have a twitter account, but you can see what it’s all about.

Beyond the Twitter site:
Slogging through one column of everyone’s tweets on the Twitter site can give anyone a headache. When it gets better is when you start using organizing programs like the one I use, called Tweetdeck. You can organize the people you follow into groups which then have their own column. I have a column for all that I follow, a column for agents/editors, a column for published authors, a column for writers, and a column for my friends that I know personally (that way they don’t get buried under the hundreds of other people’s tweets). I also have a column for Direct Messages (like private email – but still only 140 characters) and Mentions (when someone responds to me or retweets me – basically anything that has my username in it). Tweetdeck now also has a Facebook feed, so I can see Twitter and Facebook all from one program. It saves sooo much time.

A tiny note on Twitter Etiquette:
Give proper credit. If you like something someone else said or linked to, then make sure to give them credit with their twitter name (the @ sign and their name). Like this tweet this morning from @MFAconfidential:

Getting published takes passion, persistence & patience by @JaneFriedman via @mystorywriter @CafeNirvana ~

You can find a whole slew of articles on Twitter Etiquette, and I don’t want to get too long-winded, so just Google it.

The Best Way to Learn is To Follow Those That Do It Right:
If you’re only following people that tweet the minutiae of their day, then it’s hard to figure out how to work Twitter right. I learned best by reading what others said. So here are a few people I recommend to follow to learn.

@ldspublisher [added by LDS Publisher!]

**Ahhhh! Brain freeze! I’m drawing a blank and I had a whole list yesterday. I’ll write them down from now on and post them all in another blog, promise. Just look at the people I follow on Twitter (I’m @bookmom2000- click on the Follow Me button in the sidebar). There are so many good ones.

You can also check out these lists:
15 Twitter Users Shaping the Future of Publishing
100+ of the Best Authors on Twitter
15 Must-Follow Comedic Film Actors on Twitter

Does Twitter Make You a Better Writer?
Here’s one blogger’s opinion about How Twitter Makes You a Better Writer. I’m not so sure I agree with it, but I’ll still pass it on.

Thanks for sticking with me this long, dear readers. This turned out to be a rather wordy post, so I’ll forgo the discussion on how to get followers for a future post. I hope this has been at least a little helpful, and do chime in with all the things I’ve missed or your Twitter questions.

Jaime is the author of two LDS non-fiction books, Parenting the Ephraim’s Child and Enjoying the Journey. Jaime is also the mom of three, and addicted to books.

Read more of Jaime Theler’s posts at her blog, Bookmom Musings.

Or visit her official website HERE.