The Awards Deadline is Coming!

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I can’t believe another year has gone by from the last deadline already. Here at Reader Views, the excitement has taken over as all reviewers and judges are busy reading and scoring away! Many great books have come our way, and as we get buried by the late entries we welcome the Holidays to enjoy them as well! It is not too late to send in submissions, so hurry up and make sure you postmark them by December 1, 2016! Below are some tips on submitting to any Literary Awards program:

·         Read the Guidelines! All Awards programs post submission guidelines on their websites and/or submission forms. These guidelines and rules exist for a reason. No Awards program will make exceptions, and the result of most of them is disqualification – sometimes even without notification. So make sure you understand guidelines and follow them. After all, if you don’t compete, you went through the trouble for nothing!

·         Send the final version of your book! This is just common sense, and yet it happens all the time, with submissions of either galleys or advance review copies. Whether it's due to time limitations or budget constraints, submitting anything less than the final version is a big mistake, and judges will penalize for it even if they liked the story! As well, it could be counter-productive if the contest provides for and posts a review of the book. It is best not to enter a contest at all if you can’t submit a final product.

·         Listen to your audience! If your book reviews are not favorable or they are good but mention editing issues, it might not be a good idea to enter it into a contest. The best thing to do in these scenarios would be to publish a revised edition and submit that version. Alternatively, it may be best to cut your losses and do a better job with the next one before submitting to literary contests. Chances are if your audience found many flaws in your book, or didn’t find the book interesting, the judges will have the same experience, so let your audience be your guide when considering whether to invest time and money into Awards contests.

It is never too late to become an Award winner. It doesn’t need to happen with your first publication, so don’t push it, and strategize instead. This will allow you to submit with a better chance to win in future contests! For more information on how we help authors, visit www.readerviews.com.

Indie Authors Can Help Restore Peace – Write Away!

No matter where you live, election year is always stressful. This year in the US, the stress reached its climax once it was over! It was a historical first throughout – A woman candidate for one of the big parties, and a billionaire entrepreneur for the other party. After a nasty campaign, Trump is elected, yet instead of things going back to their daily routine, we find ourselves stuck in an angry, fearful, uncertain environment as both popular fronts are unable to stop campaigning.

As a small business owner, as a woman, as an immigrant, as an US Citizen, as a writer, as a mother, and friend to a diverse group of people which include all races, beliefs, and nationalities, I wonder what my life will look like every time a new president is elected, and come up with a plan to navigate any changes that will affect me in any area of my life. This time the new plan seems more urgent. Below are some of my thoughts on how all indie authors can help to restore peace:

·         Stay calm and think before you write a post – Sharing our thoughts and expressing ourselves is our right. However this right does come with responsibility, especially in times of turmoil. This is why we must express our self in a conscious way. This does not mean censoring ourselves, but choosing words and tones that will contribute to peace instead of anger, by being positive instead of negative.

·         Keep writing to enlighten by sharing personal life lessons learned, different points of view, and offer solutions to problems instead of writing to attack, vent or offend.

·         Write everywhere to enrich consciousness. By expanding our goal beyond selling our books, we can enrich consciousness and education by collaborating and sharing our own uniqueness. Make our differences a plus by giving readers useful content based on our uniqueness.

As writers, it is our responsibility to educate, enrich, complement, and inspire growth in our audience. We can help restore calm. We can help to inspire respect, tolerance and love. We can help to offer ways for progress and growth. Be conscious of that and write away! For more information on how we help authors visit www.readerviews.com.

Preparing your Publicity Campaign for 2017

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We are getting close to the end of the year, but instead of focusing on the word “end” authors should be focusing on the “beginning” by planning ahead for 2017. Here are some must-do promoting steps to start 2017 on the right foot!

•    Download a 2017 marketing calendar and mark all the events in the new year that can be used as marketing opportunities for your title.

•    Make a list of media programming deadlines relevant to the topic of the book and create a list of possible articles you can contribute. Then begin writing those articles and submitting them to each editor.

•    Make a list of magazines deadlines and guidelines to request reviews for your book, and submit accordingly.

•    Sketch a publicity plan with your publicist for the entire year, which also includes local events.

The best way to promote a book is to plan ahead as it will allow the author to make the most of any available opportunity. To find out how we can help visit us at www.readerviews.com.

Book Promoting - Is There Such a Thing as the Perfect Formula?

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By now, most indie authors realize that promoting a book is the real hard work in the writing profession. Most of us have already spent an infinite amount of time online and at speaking events, book signings, and conferences, and many other things, to promote our books and ourselves. For some people, these efforts translate into book sales, but for others, it does not. Why is that? What do some authors do that helps sell books? What are we missing when our promoting efforts don’t produce the expected results? Is there such thing as the perfect formula? In all the years I’ve been doing this, I came up with “No” as the definitive answer to this last question. I have come to realize that promoting should not be designed with a cookie cutter. Yes, we must use online tools in combination with real world events and opportunities, but how we combine them is not a “one-size-fits- all” thing.

Below are some tips on how to design a promotion campaign customized to each title:

  • The most important thing is to begin promoting early. That is, about 6 months before the book is out. While the book is still in production, the author should already be planning what strategy best fits the book, and begin putting it in motion.
     
  • Get help. Even when the author plans to do their own campaign, some guidance is necessary to navigate the different angles, tools, and best timing for the launch of the campaign. So collaborating with a publicist, even if just for consulting, always makes good sense.
     
  • Make a decision and be persistent! Promoting is not a one-time thing. It must be a consistent effort for as long as the book is for sale.
     
  • Be proactive. In the end, no one is more interested in selling the book than the author. Not bookstores, not publishers, not publicists! So the author should always be the consistent nagger and pushing promoter. Be proud of your product and keep up with it!

For more information on how Reader Views can help visit us at www.readerviews.com!

What do Judges Look for When Scoring Literary Awards Titles?

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The 2016-2017 Reader Views Literary Awards are here, and that means lots and lots of books to read!  I am a fan of all genres but tend to gravitate toward my favorites throughout most of the year.  This is the time of year, however, that I get to broaden my horizon and dip my toes into all areas of literature.  Reading with my judge’s hat on is little different than reading for leisure, however.  I need to be able to evaluate the work through specific aspects of the book and thus must be on the lookout for, and pay attention to those details. Following are the guidelines I use when judging a book:

·         Content.  Content, of course, is critical.  Does the author’s voice convey a distinct and consistent style throughout?  Does the flow of the book draw the reader in at an appropriate pace?  Does the reader have a clear understanding of who the characters are in the story? 

·         Presentation and Design.  I’ve said this before; there is nothing more distracting to a great story than editing and proofreading errors.  This is the easiest thing to fix or prevent in the first place.  I can tell within the first few pages whether or not a professional editor has been used.  An occasional typo won’t make or break the book, but consistent use of poor grammar will cause me to close the book for good.

·         Production Quality.   Is the cover attractive and appropriate for the genre and the story?  Yes, I know the cliché, but a dull and drab cover, or a noisy cover with hidden titles and too much information can be a turn-off.  Does the binding fall apart when opening the book?  Is the paper quality adequate or just so-so?  I have a hard time concentrating on a story when the book I’m reading is falling apart or the pages are tearing because the paper is so thin. 

·         Innovation. It’s no surprise there is a lot of competition out there in the writing world, now so more than ever.   To stand out in any genre, innovation is the key.  Is the subject matter original?  Does the author bring a fresh voice to the genre?   Are writing elements being used in interesting and creative ways?

·          Social Relevance and Enjoyment.  For fiction books: Is the book impactful on the community of the genre?  Is it reflective of important social issues? Is it highly entertaining and completely engrossing?  Would I re-read this book?  Was I left wanting more? 

·         Resourcefulness.   For self-help, business, how-to, etc. type of books: Is the book easy to follow, clear and concise? Are credible sources noted? Does the author have credibility in the subject matter?

When I read a book, whether for pure enjoyment, to learn a new skill, expand my knowledge, or for a literary contest, I want to feel a connection to that book.  Be it fiction or non-fiction, humorous or biographical, when I’ve finished a book and it lingers in my mind for days – that is the sign of greatness.  For more information on the 2016-2017 Reader Views Literary Awards visit www.readerviews.com.

2016-2017 Literary Awards – Don't Miss The Early Entry Opportunity

Is it really mid-October already? Once again, I am amazed by how quickly the year passes. Autumn marks my favorite time of year because the weather is changing, the holidays are just around the corner, and the Reader Views Literary Awards program is in full swing! As usual, we have received so many inspiring books that it looks like this will be another tight competition!

The end of October marks the deadline to receive the discounted submission fee, so if you were planning to enter, this would be a great time to do so! The final entry deadline is December, but I encourage authors to take advantage of the early entry offer to beat the rush and allow more time for judging. With so many intriguing titles submitted in all categories, the anticipation is already building!

For more information about the 2016-2017 Literary Awards and guidelines click here.

Kid Writers - Authors of Tomorrow? Why not Today’s!

If there is one thing I love most about my job, it is reading children's book reviews written by kids. There is a transparent factor in their writing which I believe most of us lost as a consequence of growing up. We do get it back in our old age, but ‘til then it is refreshing to see it in kids writing. Thanks to the internet, some kids have the opportunity to self-publish through their parents, teachers or mentors support. These works are treasures of humanity in my opinion, whether blogs, short stories, essays, or poems, as they reflect our consciousness evolution.

I have been teaching and mentoring one of our kids’ reviewers in writing. She amazes each time we meet with her unique and profound points of view and creativity. My time with her reminds me how important it is for us as authors and role models, to not only encourage our kids to read, but also create writing opportunities for them. Within the next few months, I plan to act upon this thought by creating a Reader Views Kids blog to facilitate a writing opportunity for kids of all ages. So stay tuned for more information in our newsletter! In the meantime here are some tips to encourage your kids to write!

·         Read to them from the moment they can hear your voice! Nothing can substitute a good story when it comes to enriching and stimulating young minds. So read with them, let them ask questions, but also ask them what they think about the story, characters, pictures. This will not only help them to learn to express themselves it will also open a parent-child communication channel crucial to their development.

·         Research and look for book clubs, reading circles, and publications whether online or local, where kids can network and find other kids involved in reading and writing.

Furthermore, help them to get gratification from reading and writing by looking for publishing opportunities. There are plenty of places out there that publish kids works, such as HighLights.com, creativewithwords.tripod.com, storymonsters.com, and even their school's newsletter!

Finally, sign them up as a kids’ book reviewer at www.readerviewskids.com!

Local Book Events Tips for Authors

Many authors are writers first and marketers second, and although it takes writing the book to have something to market, without a marketing plan in place, the book won’t get to readers! It is a vicious cycle, but somewhere in it all, the author can find the perfect timing and come up with a balanced formula that will work for them. Here are some tips:

·         Although online stores are an awesome way to get books out there, the author should also think local to get a jump-start on sales through book events planning.

·         The best time to plan local events is 3-6 months before the book is out. The author should come up with a list of possible bookstores that might be interested in hosting a book launch, signing, or speaking event.

·         Visiting the store and establishing a positive relationship with the sales staff and management before approaching them with a book pitch is not only wise, it is necessary. So, the author needs to allocate that time to build up these relationships before the book is in production. Mentioning their upcoming book is OK, as long as it sounds like sharing a comment and not like a pitch.

·          When the time comes, and there are galleys available, the author should then present the pitch by following their regular process and not expecting special treatment.

·         The author should always remember that he or she is not the only one trying to get their book into the store and that in the end, by creating a positive impression, having a good rapport with and being known by the staff, along with being nice and professional can go a long way.

In the end, we are all human, and given the choice, a bookstore will always go with the product that they think will sell. But they will also prefer to work with the author they already know to be nice, easy to work with, and that can have their back by being available to fill in gaps on their events calendar. For more information on how we can help authors visit us at www.readerviews.com.