Wednesday, June 3, 2015

IWSG: Ask PZM June 2015 - Promoting Your Book

It's that the first Wednesday of the month, which also means it's Insecure Writer's Support Group Wednesday. Thanks to our noble Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaughit's time to share our fears and insecurities, or support and assistance. Doesn't matter which.

If you'd like to join Insecure Writer's Support Group, click hereBe sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post.

Our hashtag is #IWSG

The awesome co-hosts for the the June 3 posting of the IWSG will be M. Pax, Tracy Jo,Patricia Lynne, Rachna Chhabria, Feather Stone, and Randi Lee!

Please stop by and thank them for their time. Yay co-host/minions!

Ask PZM:

Q: For the summer reading season – do you have any ideas for cross-promotions for books?

This is a topic I have been discussing with children’s book author Susan Chodakiewitz, who two years ago did a joint picture book project  – “Master Davey and the Magic Tea House” – with the international company Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

Inspired by that conversation, I am going to discuss some ideas that might work for you.

Benefit events:

At first blush the idea of giving away a large number of your books might not seem appealing.  Yet let’s imagine a scenario where this could be a good strategy:

You have published a nonfiction book about exercises to do in bed and you are about to publish the sequel to that book.  Meanwhile a local cancer organization needs to raise funds for research. 

You go to the organization and offer to do a fundraising event where you will demonstrate the exercises.  In addition, you will give away to all attendees the ebook version of your first book while selling physical copies of your new book at the event (and giving 10% of sales to the research project).

The organization agrees to publicize the event, including promoting your new book, and you get exposed to attendees who might spread the word about your two books. (And you can capture email addresses on the landing page for downloading the free ebook.)

Now put on your thinking cap and consider all the places that might be a good cross-promotional fit with your books.  Do you write about animals?  Think zoos.  Do you write about dance?  Think dance companies. 

And remember, every event in which you participate is an opportunity to get global recognition for your book titles by utilizing social media such as Twitter and Facebook appropriately (share not sell).

Reading programs:

Perhaps you write children’s Middle Grade and picture books.  Does your local library have a summer reading program?  What about donating several physical copies of your books for the library to give to the children who do the most book reviews? 

The library agrees to display one copy of each of your books all summer as part of the reading program display.  And then at the end of the program the library announces which children earned which books.

As part of this program you could offer to do an author reading.  And for more publicity opportunities you could offer to do a writing workshop for a “Write Your Own Book” event at the library.

Note that this idea could also work for children’s theaters.  You could give a short reading before a performance and give away several physical book copies via a drawing for attendees.

Planning for back-to-school in the fall:

Would your nonfiction – or even your fiction book – be good as part of a subject curriculum?  If so, you could work on preparing the curriculum and perhaps approaching teachers before the hectic start of the school year.
Yes, you may have to agree to donate the books for the first class that utilizes your curriculum.  Yet after that first time, with public praise of the program, you could promote the concept to other schools as a buy-the-book program.  And, if you want, you could even participate in the class discussion in person or by skype.

For an example of a subject curriculum based on a book, see the high school curriculum for my novel “Mrs. Lieutenant” at

And although no school has yet to take me up on this offer for my book “How to Succeed in High School and Prep for College,” I state at :

SCHOOL OPPORTUNITY: If an elementary or high school buys books for an entire class, I would be happy to have a complimentary skype call with the students. Email me at
(Note that I put my email in this announcement even though my email is also elsewhere on my author site.  I want to make it as easy as possible for people to contact me about this offer.) 

Local book clubs:

Summers are probably when local book clubs plan for their fall reading schedule.  Do you make available – and promote – book discussion questions for your fiction or nonfiction books? 

If you do not know of any local book clubs, check out for your local area.  You may be surprised at the number of local book clubs that you find.  (And you may also be surprised at the local groups that you might want to join.  For example, I attend numerous Los Angeles tech meetups, most of whose events are free.)

For an example of online book discussion questions as well as an explanatory video for “Mrs. Lieutenant,” see

In conclusion, now that your creative juices are flowing on this topic, what prospective ideas can you come up with for your books?  Perhaps share some ideas or actual promotions in the comments below.  (And do think about joining together with other authors for shared cross-promotional opportunities.)

Phyllis Zimbler Miller blogs on book-related topics at and her Amazon Author Page for her fiction books is at

On a personal note, I've decided to take a 2 month hiatus from my online presence. For some time now I've been bothered by my lack of enthusiasm for everything writing-related, plus my scarcity at visiting other blogs on time and leaving a decent comment. It's not my style to be elusive and self-absorbed, so I'm off to find my muse. Hopefully 60 days is enough time. Phyllis, Hank, and I will be back in August. Take care, everyone. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

IWSG: Ask PZM revised July 2010 Website Elements

It's that the first Wednesday of the month, which also means it's Insecure Writer's Support Group Wednesday. Thanks to our noble Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaughit's time to share our fears and insecurities, or support and assistance. Doesn't matter which.

If you'd like to join Insecure Writer's Support Group, click hereBe sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post.

Our hashtag is #IWSG

Your awesome co-hosts for the May 6 posting of the IWSG will be Eva Solar, Melanie Schulz, Lisa-Buie Collard, and Stephen Tremp!

Please stop by and thank them for their time. Yay co-host/minions!

Ask PZM:

Q: What are the most important elements for a book author website?

The most important element of all is the ability for you the author to make changes yourself at a moment’s notice.  If you have an unexpected book signing come up or a fabulous book review that you want to post asap, then you need to be able to do that.

This ability in the past was usually out of the question for people who didn’t know website coding (or whose spouse, child, parent, etc. didn’t know it).  People had to wait on – and pay – their website builder to make even the simplest changes.

In recent years the ability to use (known as just WordPress) for both a blog and a website has changed the landscape so that the power can now be in your own hands. 

Once a WordPress self-hosted site is up, you can make changes as easily as you make changes in Word.  (Of course, there is a similar learning curve as with Word.)

First, a clarification.  I am NOT talking about, which is a hosted site the same way a blogger site is a hosted blog site.

Second, you still usually need a web person to set up your self-hosted WordPress blog/site before you take over the management yourself.  And what’s more, just any WordPress website isn’t necessarily ideal for your purposes. 

You need a site created by a web person who understands search engine optimization, keywords, etc. as well as arranging user friendly navigation on the site.

Third, your website address (the URL or domain name of the site) is important.  When you use your website address on social media sites, you want it to reflect what your site is about.  If you want to use a book title as a website address and the book title is not very specific, such as the imaginary “Having Fun,” you might want to get an URL that includes “thebook” as part of the domain name.   

(All is not lost if you have a site now without an effective website address.  You can get a better URL and have it redirected to your site.)

Another consideration before choosing a book title as your website address: If you have written or are writing more than one book, perhaps it would be better to have one website with your author name as the address rather than individual websites each with a specific book title used as the website address.

I learned this the hard way because I started out with a book title website for my first self-published book, MRS. LIEUTENANT.  Eventually I added that site to my new author site of and then redirected the website address to the book’s page on my author site.

Fourth, of course, you want to make it very clear where someone can buy your book – and make it very easy for people to do so. 

For example, you do NOT want to give a link to the home page of Amazon.  After all, when people get to the home page of Amazon, they can get easily distracted and forget what book they are looking for or actually try unsuccessfully to find your book.

Make sure that the link to purchase your book is directly to the book’s page on a site and make that link very obvious.  Have the link near the top of the page and not where people have to scroll down to find it.

Fifth, make sure that people coming to your book author site know exactly what is on offer.  Is the book fiction or nonfiction?  The first of a trilogy?  An award-winning book?  And the cover of your book should be featured prominently. 

Here are examples from my author website – I have a fiction tab and a non-fiction tab on the nav at the top of the site:

Sixth, if at all possible, have a blog as part of your website (using WordPress for a site automatically includes the opportunity to have a blog as part of the site).  A blog is usually the best way to continually add fresh content to a website, and search engines love fresh content.  Thus fresh content on a blog can help your site rank higher in the search engine results.

Also, have a sign-up on your site so that people can automatically get your new blog posts either through email notification or through an RSS feed. 

In addition, while the above are what I consider the most important elements for a book author website, a bonus element would be offering a free gift in exchange for having people join your email list (different than your blog feed signup) so that you can keep in front of your potential fans through email marketing. 

This email list should be run through an email marketing service rather than you adding people to your own email account.  Two main reasons for this:  An email marketing service helps get your emails through the spam filters and an email marketing service looks much more professional than sending out a group email of your own.

And, finally, remember to periodically review the content of your website.  Make sure that the event information is current, for example, and that all the information and links are still accurate.

© 2010 Miller Mosaic, LLC

Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller on Twitter) has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and is the author of fiction and nonfiction books.  She blogs about book-related topics at