Category Archives for "Marketing You and Your Books"

The Importance of Book Reviews – Why and How

Guest Post by Jeanne Felfe, Author of the Booklife Prize 2017 Quarterfinalist novel The Art of Healing

After you read a book, do you leave a review in at least one place: Amazon, Goodreads, Kobo, B&N, Net Gallery, skywriting, etc? You can usually leave a review anywhere books are sold online, regardless of whether you bought it there. In 2015, I decided to leave at least one review for every book I read. Why? Mostly because I had to honestly ask how I could expect readers to review my books if I wasn’t willing to do the same. I keep track of the books in a simple spreadsheet—title, author, genre, date read, quick thoughts, where reviewed, and how I know the author (in real life (IRL), Facebook, signing, etc.)

Why is it important to write reviews?

Bottom line—reviews help readers decide which books to spend their money and time reading. I always read reviews prior to purchasing, especially if it’s by an author I’ve never read. Reviews provide genuine feedback that helps me allocate limited resources. By reviewing books you’ve read, you can have a direct impact on convincing others to also read it (or not). Word-of-mouth plays a tremendous role in determining whether a new book “makes” it. Reviews aren’t just an ego boost for the author—reviews actually play a part in how often a book shows up in searches, Amazon exposure, and ad opportunities.

Another reason to write reviews is that it provides you an opportunity to improve your copywriting skills. Copywriting skills you might ask? Yes! Regardless of how they are published, authors are responsible for a huge portion of their own promotion. Practicing writing snappy, concise reviews will help you write your own back cover copy, promotional ads, and snippets in various online forums, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

How do you write a review?

I’m sure we’ve all seen reviews that read like short stories—they take up multiple pages, and often include spoilers. I rarely read those. Instead, I look for short reviews I can consume in a bite. A few sentences is plenty. Include what you liked and didn’t like (and why), but NO spoilers.

What if, for whatever reason, you don’t feel you can leave a positive review? Who said a review must be positive—it’s more important to leave an honest review, even if it means leaving a lower star rating. When I check reviews, I first look at a few 1-stars—I want to know quickly what readers hated—some reveal things I might not want to read that aren’t obvious in the book’s description. Next, I look at some 5-stars—I want to know what readers loved. Lastly, I look at a few 3-stars—these are generally the most honest and relevant because they are likely from readers with no connection to the author.

What do you do if you might have liked the story, but the mechanics left something to be desired—editing, formatting, etc. If the book is self-published, consider contacting the author directly and let them know your thoughts. Some authors (the smart ones) will welcome your input as long as you’re truly trying to be helpful. You could save them a huge amount of wasted time and money on promotion by letting them know their book isn’t quite ready for prime time. Can this approach backfire and result in an offended author? Of course. But personally, I would rather a reader come directly to me so I have an opportunity to improve. If the book is traditionally published, you can still contact the author with what you’ve found wrong. You can also contact the publisher. Does all of that sound like work? It doesn’t have to be anything more than a simple email or Facebook private message (do not do this in a public forum).

As an author, you should be reading deeply and widely. While doing so, consider taking a few minutes after you turn that last page to leave a review. Someone might just do the same for you one day.


About Jeanne Felfe

Jeanne Felfe is a multi-published author writing in the mid-western part of the United States. Her debut novel, The Art of Healing, was a Quarterfinalist in The Booklife Prize 2017 competition. Since 2014, she’s had more than twenty short stories and essays published in a variety of anthologies. In 2017, her personal essay, Amidst The Weeds, won first place in the inaugural contest for the online magazine,

Jeanne serves on the boards of both The Missouri Writers’ Guild, and its chapter, Saturday Writers.

You can find her at:

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How Authors Can Support Each Other Better

Authors I work with are Non-Fiction specialists, and most of them speak professionaly or do training as part of their regular work.  For them, books are part of their marketing collateral, and in some cases act as an extended business card, and in others, a giveaway or product to sell.   What ever reason anyone has for writing a book, it’s important to know that we as authors can support each other better, and really we must to this.   Because it’s easy for us to help ourselves by helping each other to greater levels of success as authors.

Here’s how we can do this:

  1. If you are part of a mastermind group, or belong to a support group or association, ask the other members to Forward Tweets, FB, and Instagram posts about your book – not just once, but two or three times.
  2. Ask them to be part of your reviewers group.
  3. ASK THEM to share your news about new book releases with their contacts – get the momentum building up.
  4. ASK THEM to please go into your Amazon listings and buy/review/post ratings on your books.

You may have to ask several times, but if we all got into the habit of doing this for each other, we can achieve a lot together.

Those are the basic things we can do for each other, but there’s more.

If you are a professional speaker:

Last week I was sitting in the audience supporting one of my authors.  I knew a few people in the room who also knew I might be there for that reason, so I was not the ideal person to throw questions from the floor, but I turned to the person next to me and asked him to ask the presenter/author ‘How can I get a copy of your book again?’   This gave that presenter/author a perfect opening at the end of his presentation to remind authors of the link for the Amazon listing – of course this was written out as an easy to remember URL using TinyURLs.   Without that easy intro to remind the audience to get the book while it was FREE for a 24 hour period, the chance may have slipped by.   As it turned out, the extra prompting and being ready with an easy to remember URL helped that book to climb to number one on Amazon overnight.

We can also do things like, have someone in the audience mention the book in a question – for example:

Prime someone to ask something like:  “I read in your book that you advocate for ‘daily blogging’/’hugging trees’ (or what ever your subject is-but make it something intriguing) and I wonder if you can expand on that in relation to ‘popularity on social media/mental health” (or whatever…).

Get a good piece of something that you know will interest the audience about your book, to create a dialogue about something in your book, and have this raised in your presentation as a question.     This might sound contrived, and yes, it is, but if you can have people help create interest in your books while you are presenting, it will help to generate sales or downloads.

Have two or three people in the convention walk about with copies of your book under their arms.   Encourage them to talk about you and your book.   Creating a two or three day free download opportunity for your kindle version is also ideal in supporting this strategy.  Arm your advocates with what they need to support you.   Educate them about your needs ahead of time.

This is about helping yourself to use your resources, including other people, to assist in the popularity of your books.   Go out there and identify some good advocates, reviewers, and encourage them to help you.   And do the same for all the other authors you know.   Let’s all rise up as a result of supporting each other as authors.



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Why it’s not really just about ‘the book’

Before, During, and After your topic development – what you most need to think about:

I was talking with someone today about what comes first – the chicken or the egg… ok… the book or the speaking topic!

The issue is often a matter of priorities – and what you’re already doing.  What have you already invested in, and how is that going for you? If you are already a speaker, getting paid to share your wisdom from the stage then start with that, and refine your topic, work out the main thing(s) you want to share, with the audience you most want to inspire with your own wisdom, experience or stories.   And from there a book is an easy (and essential) addition to your marketing materials and back of the room merchandise.

If you are already writing non-fiction and want to become a great speaker, or just get more books selling then you need to be speaking to groups and larger audiences when possible to ensure your books are getting to the hands of those you want to inspire, beyond just seeing and hearing you speak.

Either way – they are interractive and essential parts of the whole.  You can’t be a speaker who doesn’t write, any more than you can be a writer/author who does not speak.  They just go together like, well… love and marriage… a horse and carriage – ok enough with the musical cliches, but you really need to put these things together firmly in your mind!

If You Have Already Started the Journey

“But what do I speak/write about?” I hear you say…  or “what if my topic changes between one modality and the other?”

Why not start with evolving where you are currently and getting into some serious planning about your topic first… and then you’ll know exactly which Everest you wish to climb!  For example, if you are already talking about leadership, or sales and marketing, how can you evolve your current topic into a strong niched version of this?  Or work on a book topic that has the ability to focus more indepth in part of your book on an area that truly makes your heart sing when you share it. If you think you might want to develop into something that is a part of what you already cover – speaking or writing, then simply evolve it, narrow down your niche and develop a keynote speech or book section that hones in on that one thing.  From there you can further explode it out into much more – on that one thing – but instead of thinking about reinventing your wheel, and throwing the baby out with the proverbial bath water, you can move along rather than just changing direction.

H0wever, if on the other hand you are starting out as either a speaker or writer, then you have to ask yourself some key questions to arrive at which Everest you wish to climb.

Key Questions To Consider in Topic Development:

  1.  If you only had ONE speech to give, ONE book to write, ONE person of importance to you to inspire…  what would you say?
  2. Why would what you want to say/write matter to that one person? That one group of people?
  3. Called into an unexpected boardroom, event, stage opportunity, what do you MOST want to share if this it the life changing opportunity you have been seeking?  Not your life, but THEIRS!
  4. What do you want to have  happen as a result of what you said/wrote/shared?
    1.  Will They:
      1. start a revolution?
      2. Join one?
      3. Call you for a chance to further engage with you?
      4. Something else?

You have to think this stuff through.  Because if you don’t, you won’t be able to get consistent in your messages across all the platforms you want to be seen in/on.  You also need to know who you are speaking/writing/talking for and why. Why should they care?

Then it becomes a matter of Before (you write or develop your speech), During the process of writing/speaking, what you want to have happen and where you wish to be seen/heard, and After you write/publish/speak… exactly what happens next, for you and for your audience/readers.

If you can get some real clarity around all this NOW. Before you go any further on taking action, then the action that you do take will yeild far greater rewards for you, and have significantly more meaning for your intended tribe.


If you need help with your Author-ity Topic Developepment, then please let us know – we’ve got some great resources you can access for this. 

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Key Words and Writing Descriptively

You wrote the book, and the back cover, and the marketing material, and even a great press release… and you’ve uploaded the book to Amazon, put some ads on AMS and Facebook, and then what happened… ?

Nothing.  Nada. Zip!

So you sat down and cried – because all that hard work seems to have been for nothing.  Right?


Maybe you just got the creative description wrong.

What might be missing is the description, being laden with great sharp-as-a-butcher’s-knife decriptive writing with seo keywords.  Maybe your heading is not done with an SEO Keyword Search Tool used to ensure it’s easily found by anyone doing a Keyword Search.

Do you see what I just did there? 

I used a number of relevant, descriptive keywords for SEO searching in the paragraph I wrote.   I also made the title of this blog post an SEO Keyword rich, descriptively written title.    And just to really drive home the point, I’ve also boldened the particular keywords I’ve used.

Let’s take a paragraph with two versions of the same information from the back of a business book.   One version is SEO Keyword rich, and the other just reads well.

If you’re seeking a new way to do business, and get more out of every penny you spend on marketing, you’ll find this book is a must read.  It’s loaded with resources, ideas, and clever ways to maximise your marketing and advertising, so that your strategies are better employed for improved ROI.

Get more ouf of all your marketing investments, and discover a better business solution through smarter marketing and advertising strategies.  You’ll find marketing tools and business resources and an abundance of  Return on Investment ideas that really work, and more.

Now clearly you wont want to bold up each keyword, that’s not the point of using keywords in creative writing, but you will need to ensure that a few key points are highlighted so that even the scanning reader will pick up on them.

The point being that if you do a lot more about ensuring your descriptions are well crafted so that more people find what you want them to find, your traffic goes up.

And if you ensure that y our creatively written descriptions are filled with hooks and enough bait on them to ensure the readers are inspired to take action (ie click and buy) then you will sell more books.

Some copywriters assert that the first lines needs to be very short, sharp and powerful, to then inspire the reader to get to the next longer and more descriptive text in the next paragraph.  The idea being that as the reach the end of the description they go BACK to the top or opening lines and that is what they have still jiggling their neuropathways as they then open the book to review the first few pages.  I am inclined to agree with this and am adapting my own descriptive writing for back covers to accommodate this line of thought.

It’s the hooks that make someone want to pull up a chair, grab a cup of coffee and keep reading.   It’s the seo keyword research that will help people find your book first.

I’ll write more about hooks next time… 

For now – just as we all need to do, it’s time to refine some of my keywords in the descriptions of my copywriting a little more.

Happy writing everyone…


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Video – the Final Frontier of Fear Based Marketing

“Aaaahhhhhh!  No, I dont’ want to do video.  I would not like it here or there… with green eggs and ham… or anywhere else… Sam i Am!” 

That’s the phrase that typically runs through my head when anyone says – You have to start doing video.   I have avoided it like the plague for so long now, but finally, last week, I was told in no uncertain terms that enough was enough – camera shy be buggered, get over yourself and just DO it ok!

Ok, I quietly said in my head, but inside I was quacking!   Oh no – how am I going to get out of it this time?

There was finally no way out!   Why I think of video as fear based marketing has nothing to do with the reality –  sharing information visually with clients is not frightening for them – it’s just that for me, I’m fearful of doing it wrong!  Always.

Along came Grant! 

Grant from Focused Video is a young 30 something year old man who has had a passion for video and directing for years, and after a successful career start workiing in global corporate business, headed home to Queensland and studied towards his passion becoming his life’s work.

And the results of working with someone passionate, young, and enthusaistic is that even the hard stuff becomes easier.   And for me, the camera has always been my nemisis.  Grant made it not so scary.

It still took a couple of hours to shoot enough material for a three minute introduction I’m putting on my new website this week, and I was grateful for my past experience doing some video work, including TV interviews.  The ability to ‘get over myself’ was also enhanced by listening to an Amy Portfield interview the day before where she was talking with a veteran video based marketing specialist who reiterated again and again, that just be yourself, and remember that the audience want’s the information – and to not share that is ultimately selfish.

I finally got it.   

I applied the necessary war paint, memorised the script – which was actually partly a waste of time because we ended up going a lot further than what the script said anyway – and got down to business.

Grant also tried the questions and answers option – so that for a while we grabbed some footage of me just talking about what I do… more naturally and unscripted.  This gave me a chance to find my groove too.

And you know what?  No one died, the house didn’t fall down, and the sun still came up the next day.   I didn’t mess it up – although I did say a few bad words when I fluffed my lines – and we got the job done.

Sometimes it’s doing the hard work and putting our fears aside that enables us to make significant breakthroughs and find our voices.

I learned a couple of big things on Friday.

  1. It really helps to have expert help to get the job done.
  2. Using excellent tools for the job is absolutely necessary.
  3. Practicing, and writing down what you want to say clears the mind.
  4. Sharing your information can help others, so why hold back?
  5. You have to make time to learn and grow in your own business, and that means doing the things you don’t always love to do.

I’m expecting to not look as glamorous as Julia Roberts when I see the video – as much as I’d prefer to look like her.  I’m expecting to see me, and maybe me is the best person to be talking about me after all.

When it comes to promoting your work, your book, your speaking, and your programs, video is undoubtably unbeatable.  We all have to start embracing ALL the ways we can get better at getting ‘out there’.

What’s holding you back from writing that book, making that video, developing that training program?  I bet it’s not as hard as you think it might be, if you have someone to hold your hand through it, the right tools for the job, and an incentive to share your work.

PS – Video will be up next week…

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How Long Does it Take To Write a Good Book

How is it possible to write a book in one weekend?

I’ve recently been hearing about publishing coaches who offer to help people write a book in only 48 hours.   Intrigued I looked into this further and am surprised to find this really is a trend. However, having written, published, co-authored, and developed dozens of quality books in the last 10 years I can honestly tell you that there is a process, and it’s a reasonably lengthy one. Significantly longer and more complex than what can be achieved in under a week.

How long does it REALLY take to write a book?

Well some would argue that you can simply write a book by planning a few sexy chapter headings, dictate your material then give it to a publisher.  That does sound like a very good short cut way to become an author.  However the reality is that getting your content out of your head is only a small part of the process.

For a start, there are LOTS of barely average books hitting the market every day.  Millions of new titles are being released every year.   If your book is going to even see the light of day, it has to be good.  Your content has to be far better than average, well edited and reader friendly. Without these boxes ticked, Continue reading

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The Road to Retirement for Professional Experts

Here’s Why you can’t rely on having a job anymore! This is the age of freelancers and consultants and investing in becoming one might be your only option for a healthy retirement.

I have two sons. One works for a very large corporate industry and it’s hard to imagine his life ever taking a turn where he can’t get work.  Or for that matter, that his current job might ever become replaced by robots.  But as the old saying goes – yeah right!  Remember the last 30 years of privitisation, industrialisation, and mass redundancies despite fierce unionisation?  Not to mention the looming spectre of robotisation of just about everything we do…

My other son is talented, creative, works in a job that is typically transient, and service oriented, and he’s working on becoming a ‘something’ in the performing, creative, or entertainment industries.  And in my opinion, he’s the lucky one.

How is that possible?  Well, he’s in a great position to learn and enhance those skills that make it possible for him to earn from a multiple range of income sources, freewheel his way through use of his entrepreneurial skills, and live by his wits.   And while I do hope he is more than a smiling barista or struggling actor in his dotage, I know that the freedom he gets to enjoy while making flexible choices will be worth it for him.

But remember when we as parents all hoped for our kids to grow up, leave school, go to college, then settle into a nice long term job with a solid company offering good prospects for promotion?  The sad reality it that the entire world has changed, and this is no longer possible for most of the kids coming through the universities and tech institutes these days.  Plus, add to that the ever widening range of choices, and the temptation to jump from one career path to another while finding your passion is an added complication.

So – what is the best course for anyone concerned about how the world works and how that work might dry up faster than a puddle in the desert for this millennium?  Find out how to embrace all your skills market them, and your Expertise, Wisdom, Experience (EWE) and get some leverage on those.  And if Continue reading

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The Forumula for Getting and Engaging With New Fans

I was asked this week to comment on the following email by the wife of a client, and so I’ve tried to simplify the response as best I can while ensuring the gist of the information is as clear as possible. You see there really is a formula for growing your database, getting and engaging with new clients, and getting the ball rolling in terms of:

  • Read the article
  • Visit the website
  • Sign up for the newsletter
  • Autoresponders with more engagement
  • Send ongoing news and information of value and interest.

Here’s what she wrote (Q:), with my responses (A:) in italics:

Q:I’ve made some changes to my website to jazz it up a bit and I now need some help understanding my options for loading/distributing new articles/quotes/videos/etc online and directly to my database.

A: Ok – there’s a pretty simple formula for this…  1) Upload the articles into LI, as a variation of a ‘blog’ or article post in your website… maybe an extended version on the website and so a ‘for more on this, click here’ at the bottom of the LI version.  That directs to your website.

Q: I only want to use my website, Linkedin and a “newsletter” type distribution to my mailing list.

A: So you’ll need to also dangle a pretty good hook for visitors to your site to get them to sign up on your Mail Chimp database.   Again it’s a bit of a formula.  Simple version is this:  Have a ‘video, white paper, report, checklist or something of perceived good/high value’ for readers to want enough to give you their email address for.  They sign up, they go to a landing page which they can download the ‘thing’ from, then they get a download link.  Continue reading

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