BookBub Partners Blog | Book Marketing & Publishing Tips
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Most authors and book marketers know that covers are important — and that it can be worth spending money for a professionally designed cover. After all, a book’s cover design has a proven impact on sales.
But where can you go for help with your book cover design? We’re always on the lookout for useful resources, and we compiled this list for anyone seeking cover design help. We tried to include a variety of designers and premade cover options so you can find the best match for your genre and budget. While we haven’t vetted these specific resources ourselves, we hope they’re good places to start and make your search for cover design help less overwhelming.
Book Cover Designers
If you want a cover that’s truly customized to a book and its characters, you may want to consider hiring a professional cover designer. A seasoned professional can provide a unique, eye-catching design tailored to your book. Here are a few designers available for hire, with examples from each so you can quickly get a taste of their work.
Bespoke Book Covers offers both ebook and print cover designs for self-published authors with unlimited edits and lots of customization. Find more details here.
Premade Book Cover Designs
If you’re looking for an option that might be less expensive, you can purchase a premade book cover design. These are customizable cover templates you can tweak yourself, and many of these websites also offer custom design services if you need additional help.
GoOnWrite has hundreds of book cover designs available across dozens of genres and topics — and at $50 per cover with discounts for multiples, the pricing is excellent. James, the designer of all of these covers, offers custom design services as well.
Get access to hundreds of book cover templates plus some extras, including formatting layout templates, an ISBN Barcode Generator, and 3D renderings of the cover once it’s ready. Packages include tutorials and start at $197.
BookBub Ads is a great tool for helping you achieve a variety of book marketing goals, but it can be tricky to master. You may find yourself falling into common pitfalls like targeting readers who don’t engage with your ad or spending a lot on a campaign without seeing the returns that you want. The best way to avoid these mistakes and ensure that your campaigns will meet your goals? Test your ads!
Why should I test my ads?
To find a receptive audience. Reaching the right readers with your campaigns is crucial — in order to drive more sales, you need to reach readers who are likely to be interested in (and willing to buy!) your book.
To optimize your creative image. Testing your creative can help you figure out what design will attract the most clicks from the audience you’re reaching.
To maximize the use of your advertising dollars. Running test ads with low budgets and figuring out what works lets you invest the majority of your budget in campaigns that you’re confident will deliver the results you’re looking for.
To develop a strategy that works for this platform. BookBub’s subscriber base is unique compared to other advertising platforms — and each author’s audience on BookBub may differ as well — so even advertisers who are experienced on other platforms should run tests on BookBub.
To determine the most effective way to achieve your goals.Different goals call for different campaign set-ups. Learning how your campaign variables affect your results can help you create more successful ads.
Testing your ads may seem a bit daunting at first, especially if you’re new to BookBub Ads. However, setting up an ad is a straightforward process, and testing is as simple as creating multiple campaigns to run simultaneously! In this post, we’ll walk you through the best practices of testing and show you how to apply them to your campaigns to improve your results.
How to run tests
You can use a process called A/B testing (also known as split testing) on BookBub Ads. The basic steps are simple:
Set up one campaign (the “A” version).
Create a second campaign (the “B” version) identical to the first, then change just one element — that element is the variable you are testing.
Run your campaigns.
Compare the results.
Repeat as needed until you’re satisfied with the results.
This process can be used to test any one of your campaign variables, including image, targeting, retailers, and more. Multiple rounds of testing can help you improve your campaign results; by testing each element of your ad in isolation, you’ll be able to learn what contributes to your ads’ success. You can then build off of those insights by continuing to tweak and test one part of your campaign at a time, improving your results as you go.
We’ll go into detail about how to run tests on different parts of your ad, but here are some best practices to keep in mind no matter what you’re testing:
Set low budgets. $10-20 is usually enough to glean dependable results! You’ll be able to scale up to bigger campaigns with larger budgets later, once you’re confident you’ve found a winning strategy. Just make sure that your test budget will allow your ad to serve enough impressions for your results to be statistically significant.
Use CPM bidding. Our auction takes the click-through rate of CPC ads into account when serving impressions — meaning a CPC ad that doesn’t generate a strong CTR right away will be shown to readers less frequently, which can skew the data you’re seeing from your tests. Using CPM bidding will ensure that your tests serve impressions consistently, delivering cleaner test results.
Bid high. Bid on the high end of the average range shown in the ad setup form, and set your test campaigns to use your budget as quickly as possible. This will help you win impressions — and therefore see results from your tests — fast.
Only test one variable at a time. This lets you know exactly which element of your ad is driving the levels of engagement that you’re seeing on each test. For example, you may want to try out both different blurbs and different audiences. However, if you ran two campaigns whose blurbs and targeting were both different from each other, you wouldn’t be able to tell which variable drove the increased engagement in your winning test.
Testing your image
You only have one second to hook a reader and get them to click when they see your ad, so designing an image that will engage your audience is crucial to your campaign’s success. With BookBub Ads, you have two options for creating your image:
Use our built-in creative builder. The creative builder is a great option if you’re new to ads or are unsure about how to design your own image, but it’s more limited — all you’ll be able to edit is the text of your ad copy and your call-to-action button. If you’re using the creative builder, you can learn more about testing out the blurb that you use for your ads in the next section!
Design and upload your own image. There are lots of free tools, including Book Brush and Canva, that make it easy to create ad images.
If you’re creating your own image from scratch, there are a couple of different directions that you can take when you test, like trying completely different images or just swapping out smaller details. Some elements in your image that you may want to consider testing include:
Call-to-action format (button, banner, etc.)
Font and size of text
Background and foreground images
3D vs 2D cover
The copy (we’ll cover this in the next section!)
To start, create a couple of different images that you want to try. Set up your first test ad (the “A” version) with the targeting, bid, budget, and pacing that you intend to use for all of your tests. To easily set up your “B” version, you can copy the “A” version. On the “Manage Ads” page, click Select Action next to the “A” test ad and click Copy Ad from the dropdown:
This will create a new ad with all the same setup details as the original. Then, you can upload your alternate image into the new campaign. Don’t forget to change the name of your ad, too! Each test should have a descriptive name that allows you to quickly distinguish them from each other in your dashboard.
You can repeat this “copy and edit” process as many times as you need — as long as you only change the image in each version, you can run as many different test versions at once as you want! When you’re done, you should have multiple test ads that are alike in every way but the image.
If this is your first round of testing, you may want to start by testing the biggest differences first (such as using two completely different images) — you’ll have a chance to do more fine-tuned testing later. This will ensure that you’re focusing on your most successful image rather than spending time on the details of an image that, on the whole, isn’t as effective for your campaign. For example, you might run a first round with two images that have significant differences, like the two below:
After determining which of these two is more successful, you could then move on to testing smaller changes in the winning image — such as font, background and button colors, and button copy or placement.
Since you’re using identical targeting and bids for each of your image test campaigns, you can attribute the different levels of engagement that you see on each of these ads to the only element that varies between them: the image. Your CTR (click-through rate) is a good indication of how appealing your ad is to your audience, as it captures what percentage of them were driven to click!
Now you can use the highest-performing ad images in further rounds of testing!
Testing your ad copy
Whether you use BookBub’s creative builder or design your own image, you only have a limited amount of space available for your ad copy — so you need to make those words count! Depending on the content that you’re advertising and the readers that you’re targeting, certain elements might work better for your campaign than others. Some things you may want to consider testing in your copy include:
Quote from a publication or author
Intriguing hook that shares your novel’s conflict (fiction)
Pose a question your book answers or a problem it solves (nonfiction)
Popular trope from your genre
Review count or star ratings
Comparison to a similar author or book
Want to see some examples of blurb A/B tests we’ve run at BookBub? Click here to find the results of blurb tests from our Featured Deals emails!
Like with your image, if you’re in the early rounds of testing, start with the biggest differences between copy first — leave more granular, word-level changes for later tests. You can use the same copy and edit process here to edit your ads: start with your “A” version, setting up the targeting, bid, and budget you plan to use for all of your tests; then copy that version into as many tests as you want with new blurbs:
Once you have your tests set up, you should have multiple campaigns identical in every way except for the copy in the images. Narrowing in on this one difference ensures that you can credit any variation in CTR to the different copy. The higher the CTR is for a given ad, the more that copy was able to engage your audience.
Testing your targeting
Targeting can have a huge impact on the engagement you see on your campaign — reaching the readers who will be most excited about your book is an important factor in driving clicks.
However, capturing the right audience can be a challenge for new and experienced advertisers alike. You may find that a seemingly obvious target choice just doesn’t generate the engagement that you expected, while a surprising author is getting you lots of clicks. Partners who have run successful ads on other auction-based platforms may discover that the targets they’ve relied on for those platforms don’t deliver the same results on BookBub. This is why testing your targeting is key to making the most out of your campaigns.
You’ll follow the same process in testing your targeting that you did in testing your blurbs. Use identical bids, budgets, pacing, and in this case, images, for each version you test. Since you’re specifically testing your audience, you want to ensure that readers in every campaign you run are seeing the same content — that way, you can attribute whatever variance you see in CTR to the targeting you’re using in each test, rather than ad design. For the most fine-tuned test results, we recommend testing one individual author target at a time, but you’re welcome to test combinations of authors and categories against each other, too. Once your ads are set up, let them run!
To compare your targeting tests, look again at the different click-through rates that each campaign generates.
Another metric to keep an eye on here is your eCPC (effective cost per click), which is how much you’re paying for each click on your ad. A lower eCPC means that your budget is being spent more effectively — you’re getting more clicks with the same amount of money. Checking your eCPC is important because some targets will cost more than others if many other advertisers are also targeting their fans — a target who delivers a high CTR may not be worth it if their eCPC is high, too! Authors who deliver high CTRs and low eCPCs for your ads are great targets: they generate engagement for cheap!
You can continue to run tests refining your targeting using the same methods until you reach a level of engagement and costs you’re happy with.
Next steps & scaling up
You can test the different elements of your ad in whatever order makes the most sense for your campaign. In fact, you may want to bounce between the elements that you’re testing to ensure that you’re optimizing your campaign for receptive audiences. For example: test some variations on ad copy; drop the winning blurb into a few different image styles; use the winning copy-image combination to test your targeting. Then, once you’ve found a strong audience, go back and tweak your copy again to see if any changes help make your ad more engaging to that audience. Going back and forth between variables helps you continue to improve all aspects of your campaign.
After a couple of rounds of testing one element, you still might not see the results that you want — and that’s okay! If you test images for a couple of rounds and just aren’t getting your CTR as high as you’d hoped, you might consider skipping ahead to testing your targeting to see if there’s another author that you haven’t found yet whose audience is more interested in your book.
Once you’ve honed in on an image and audience that delivers CTRs and eCPCs you’re happy with, you can start scaling up to larger campaigns that help you achieve your marketing goals. Ramp up your overall budget if you’re pushing a large campaign to promote a new release, set up a long-running campaign with a fixed daily budget if you’re advertising a permafree book, or stack other promotional activities alongside your ads to hit a bestseller list.
No matter how you choose to run your rounds of testing, be sure to monitor your campaigns carefully, use your best performers as you move forward, and always keep your goals in mind so that you’re developing campaigns that will deliver the results you’re looking for!
Ready to put these tips to use? Click here to get started and create an ad now!
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I’ve been a reader all my life, and I’m a firm believer that as a writer, it’s crucial to keep reading. I’m also a firm believer in the power of word of mouth — no one can read a book they haven’t heard about.
As writers, we’re in a unique position to both spread the word about books we love and to benefit from the subsequent engagement this gives us with readers. Recommending books I’ve loved has brought me new readers and has allowed me to engage in the enthusiastic online book community.
Why I recommend books
I recommend books for lots of reasons:
I enjoy it! First and foremost, I love books. I am always reading something, usually multiple books at once. And when I read something I love, I love to tell others about it.
I know how much it can mean to other authors. Since I’ve become a published author, recommending books has taken on a greater importance in my life. This is because I’ve learned how helpful and awesome it is to have a reader or a fellow writer recommend my own books.
It builds goodwill with readers. I think that sharing authentic enthusiasm for other people’s books is a great way to engage with readers online. Readers can also come to rely on your recommendations, so it’s something to take seriously. If I don’t like a book, I don’t talk about it online. If I am talking about a book, it’s because I truly love it and hope others will as well.
It builds goodwill in the author community. As well as staying top-of-mind with your readers, book recommendations also help foster great relationships with other authors.
My favorite ways to recommend books
I make recommendations across several platforms: BookBub, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and more. Readers are in lots of places, and the more places that you shout out about a book, the more readers you will reach.
Make recommendations on BookBub
I make recommendations on BookBub because it has become much more than a platform where you can find deals for books. Over the past few years, BookBub has made a concerted effort to be one of the key places that readers go for book recommendations. The more books you recommend, the more visibility you get with other users. This can increase your follower count, which in turn helps increase visibility of your own books, including when you have a new release or a Featured Deal (BookBub emails all of your US-based followers when you launch a new book, run a Featured Deal, or run a Featured New Release!).
There are two main ways that I choose the books I recommend on BookBub: first, I post a review if I’ve read and loved a book. Second, BookBub sends emails asking for thematic recommendations, such as your favorite beach read, so I try to participate in those as well. I do also try to skew my recommendations to my own genre.
Any time a reader recommends one of my books, I think that is a win. But I’ve also been lucky enough to have two high profile authors (Mary Kubica and Christina Baker Kline) recommend my books. Author recommendations can get featured in their followers’ weekly recommendation roundup newsletters, so my books got great visibility from their large follower counts.
Editor’s note: Learn how you can boost your exposure to BookBub readers using recommendations here.
Boost news about other authors’ books on Twitter
On Twitter, I like to retweet the posts of authors I follow when they share news about new releases or book deals. It’s a great way to amplify others’ work and to take a break from self-promotion.
Share new releases on Instagram
On Instagram, my approach is similar to Twitter. When I have a friend with a new book out, I try to extend their reach and provide some content to those who follow me.
Ask readers questions about a book I loved on Facebook
Facebook can be a good way to engage with readers about books I’ve read and loved. When I recommend a book on Facebook, I often ask my fans to let me know if they’ve read it too, and what they thought.
Almost ten years ago, I started a book recommendation group on Facebook to shout out books that I loved. I did it just to pass on the goodwill and good luck I’d had in my publishing career. A side bonus that I didn’t anticipate is that it created a lot of goodwill among readers and other writers which has ended up benefitting my own career. The lesson? Recommend books you love because you love them, but know that if you come from a true place, it can benefit your career as well. I plan to continue recommending books on different platforms. And I plan to keep on reading. Hope you join me!
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Marketing a book as a debut author is vastly different from marketing as a seasoned author with a large backlist. For one, you likely don’t have an existing fan base — and you also lack the experience to know what tactics work best to reach the right audience. So if you’re a debut author, what promotional strategies should you try when preparing for your first book launch?
A few weeks ago, I asked authors on Twitter for the one marketing tip they’d offer to a debut author.
The responses I received were so valuable, I had to compile some of the highlights to share with BookBub Partners Blog subscribers. Thanks to each of these authors for giving us permission to share their wonderful tips! You can click on any of the tweets below to view the full threads on Twitter.
What tips would you have for a debut author? Share yours in the comments below this post!
1. Keep a master interview sheet
Karen McManus, NYT bestselling author of One of Us Is Lying, recommends keeping a master document for interview answers and updating it whenever you do a written interview. This can save you a lot of time later!
2. Manage your marketing time strategically
Samira Ahmed, NYT bestselling author of Internment, suggested being strategic with your time by setting parameters (e.g. limiting the number of interview questions you’ll answer) and politely turning down certain requests.
3. Be selective about the marketing tactics you use
Mike Chen, author of Here and Now and Then, recommended preventing burnout by only taking on the marketing activities that work for you — which will often depend on your audience, your genre, and your personal preferences!
4. Don’t be entirely self-promotional on social media
Libby Cudmore, author of The Big Rewind, suggested developing a social media presence where you treat followers like friends, not customers. Several other authors made similar suggestions in this thread!
5. Keep your giveaways simple
Laura Silverman, author of You Asked for Perfect, recommended keeping giveaways simple, noting that some debut writers run complicated ones with too many rules. For example, on Twitter, simply ask for a follow and retweet to enter for the most interactions.
Dan Koboldt, author of The Rogue Retrieval, recommends building a mailing list. This way, you can send newsletters to communicate with your readers regularly. If you’re looking for an email service provider, Mailchimp is free up to 2,000 subscribers, and MailerLite is free up to 1,000 subscribers.
8. Use Storygram tours for promoting books on Instagram
Kayla Ancrum, author of The Wicker King, reminded authors to treat bloggers as team members, and thank them for their time and effort in writing a review.
12. Use BookBub’s marketing tools
Sophia Elaine Hanson, bestselling author of Vinyl, gave a shout-out to BookBub as a form of paid advertisement that’s worth the investment. (Thanks, Sophia!)
13. Network authentically in the writing community
Jess Lauren, author and mentor, recommended being kind and encouraging to fellow authors, and paying it forward while expecting nothing in return.
14. Write another book!
Ally Carter, bestselling author of Heist Society, recommended writing another book! This was a common reply that I received, and it’s great advice — frontlist sells backlist, and the more books you publish, the more opportunities you’ll give new readers to discover you.
What tips would you have for a debut author? Share yours in the comments below!
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With BookBub Ads, authors and publishers can promote any book to BookBub’s millions of power readers at any time. While this is a valuable audience of book buyers to begin with, BookBub Ads’ targeting options let advertisers refine their audience even further.
There are four targeting options available: author interest, category interest, retailer preference, and region. You can use any combination of these on a single campaign. But how can you best use these targeting options to reach the right audience for your marketing goals — and make the most of your ad spend?
Here are eight ideas for targeting readers using BookBub Ads!
1. Target readers interested in the promoted book’s author
Target readers interested in the author of the book you’re promoting to reach an engaged audience who is highly likely to click and purchase. When you target by author, the potential audience is larger than just an author’s followers — it also includes any BookBub reader who has clicked on that authors’ previous Featured Deals, bookmarked their books, or otherwise expressed interest in the author. Promoting to an established fan base is a particularly effective strategy for preorders, new releases, and full-priced books.
To target an author’s fanbase on BookBub, select Add Authors in the “Audience Targeting” section of the Ads creator.
Search for the author’s name, then select the correct author from the dropdown.
Note that in the screenshot above, “X Readers” notes the number of BookBub users who have expressed interest in this author; this is the maximum number of readers who can be reached by targeting this author.
2. Retarget readers who clicked on a Featured Deal
Because each author’s targetable audience includes readers who clicked on their previous Featured Deals, one of the best times to run an ad campaign can be right after a feature.
Here are three strategies you can use to retarget readers who clicked on a Featured Deal:
Reach readers who clicked on your deal but didn’t purchase. After you run a Featured Deal, run a BookBub Ads campaign targeting the promoted author’s fans to let them know the discount is still available. This gives you a second chance to convert readers who clicked on the feature but weren’t ready to commit and make a purchase!
Promote the next book in a series. If you ran a Featured Deal for a first-in-series book, you can promote its sequel via BookBub Ads.
Reach readers who clicked on another author’s deal. Keep an eye out for Featured Deals by other authors whose fans would be a good fit for a book you want to promote. Run an ad campaign targeting their fans to reach these new readers.
Note: This targeting will include readers who previously expressed interest in the author on BookBub in addition to those who clicked on the recent Featured Deal.
3. Target readers of an author who blurbed the book
BookBub readers put a lot of trust in their favorite authors’ books suggestions — 76% of them have purchased a book after it was recommended by an author they liked! Run an ad highlighting a blurb from another author and target that authors’ fans for a personalized message highly likely to catch their interest.
4. Target readers interested in similar authors
Targeting readers of similar authors will let you reach a large audience while still focusing on readers who are most likely to click and purchase.
To find authors to target, USA Today bestselling author Ernest Dempsey says, “I look through Amazon’s ‘also boughts.’ I check the left column on my Amazon author page to see other authors my readers buy. I will also click on those authors and go a couple layers deeper to see who some of their readers read, since those are often ones that will enjoy my work too. I also look through BookBub’s authors in my genre.” Read other successful advertisers’ tips on choosing author targets here.
You can add as many authors as you’d like in the “Audience Targeting” section.
5. Target readers interested in popular genre authors
Targeting readers of popular authors in the same sub-genre as the book you’re promoting will increase your chances of being featured in their trending books’ “Also Bought” sections on retailers. Since these pages get more traffic, that’s great visibility for your book! However, this strategy will only work if the readers you target are actually clicking your ad and purchasing your book, so be thoughtful (and honest!) about which popular authors’ audiences are likely to be the best fit for the book you’re promoting. Targeting authors with extremely large fan-bases can deliver higher costs and lower click-through rates, so run tests to find the authors that will work best for you.
To identify popular authors, simply look at retailers’ sub-genre bestseller lists to see which books are popular now and target the authors whose books seem most similar to yours:
6. Target by category interest
Targeting readers who expressed interest in a specific book category when they signed up for BookBub will allow you to reach huge audiences of genre readers. Keep in mind that reaching a broader audience often leads to lower engagement rates, but it can help you increase visibility for a book by reaching a higher volume of readers.
One particularly effective way to use category targeting is in combination with author targeting. Alex Nicolajsen, Director of Social Media & Digital Sales at Kensington Publishing Corp., frequently uses this strategy: “Generally, we’ll target several authors along with a specific genre or group of genres. We know that readers love to keep coming back to the authors they love — but we also know that they’re always on the lookout for a new author to read when they’ve finished the books from their favorites. By targeting comparative authors, readers can find a new author or book based on what they already enjoy.”
To add category targeting to a campaign, click Add Categories…
…and choose from among BookBub’s category options.
When you combine author and category targeting, you will reach only readers who have expressed interest in at least one of the categories and one of the authors you’ve selected.
Tip: If you want to target by category alone, try using CPC bidding to keep your costs down! Learn more about different bidding strategies here.
7. Target by retailer preference
BookBub Ads is one of the only advertising platforms that lets you target readers based on the retailer where they purchase books. This makes it an excellent tool for running retailer-specific promotions!
To target readers on a particular retailer, simple enter a link to that retailer in the Click-Through Links section. Our system will automatically target your ad to readers who purchased books from that retailer.
We make it easy to add multiple retailer links to a single ad campaign, but if you want to customize the ad images for each retailer or have greater control over how much of your ad budget is invested in each platform, we recommend creating separate campaigns. Once you create an ad campaign for one retailer, you can “copy” it from the “Manage Ads” home page and swap out the retailer links and ad creative to quickly create distinct campaigns for each retailer.
Tip: If you “Choose a Book” at the beginning of setting up your ad campaign, we’ll automatically pull in any links we have on file for you! Adding a book to an ad also allows you to easily view all ad campaigns for that title.
8. Target by region
BookBub has readers in the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, and India, and you can target your ad campaigns to readers in each of those countries. This is particularly useful if the book or deal you’re promoting is only available in certain regions.
Enter the retailer links for each region you want to include in your ad campaign, and we’ll target those readers automatically. (Learn how to find region-specific links on each retailer here!). For links to non-retailer sites, you can select which regions and retailers to include:
You can also create separate ad campaigns for each region to specify how much you want to spend in each one. For example, you may want to allocate more of your budget to readers in the US than readers outside the US.
GrubStreet held their annual Muse & the Marketplace conference for writers last weekend in Boston, where authors, agents, and editors hosted talks and panels on craft, the publishing process, and book promotion strategies.
We gathered lots of helpful publishing insights and promotional tips on a variety of topics, from marketing on social media to participating in bookstore events — and even to dealing with author envy! We’re excited to share some of these tips with our readers who couldn’t attend, and hope you find these takeaways useful.
1. How to optimize your social media strategy
Some authors avoid social media because it takes too much time — time in which they could be writing. But authors Jenna Blum and Sara DeVillo recommend all authors create and optimize a social media strategy to promote books and connect with the writing community! And if you’re a traditionally published author, keep in mind that publishers usually don’t create social media content for you; it’s up to you to post content, and your publisher’s publicity team can amplify your content by reposting and sharing.
Here were some of their specific recommendations for optimizing your social media strategy:
Post on a schedule
When you post, post consistently. If you post once a day, continue to post once a day. If you post on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, maintain that schedule so your followers know when they can expect content from you. You can also use tools like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to automatically schedule content on certain platforms.
Use the rule of thirds
Your social media feed shouldn’t be entirely self-promotional. Instead, use the rule of thirds. For example:
One-third: promotion, whether it’s for yourself or fellow authors
One-third: insight into yourself as an author
One-third: a personal interest (bonus if it’s something your audience would enjoy or benefit from hearing about, e.g. movies, politics, etc.)
Tailor content for different social media platforms
Keep your brand consistent across all of the social media platforms you participate in, but each channel should have its own look and feel. Decide what kind of presence you want to have on each social media platform. For example:
Facebook: the watercooler; it’s a place to get more personal and tell anecdotes
Twitter: a place to make quips, be snarky, and talk politics
Instagram: a place to share pictures and book recommendations
2. How to establish an author brand on Instagram
It’s important to establish your goals for Instagram: What is unique about you that you can offer in your posts? Why should people follow you? Author Sara DeVillo shared some great Instagram tips for growing your following and developing a consistent brand:
Optimize the bio: Make it welcome and inviting. Make the URL your website, but you can change it to offer something when you can (free content, guides, tips, etc.)
Post pictures: Consider the value each photo offers, and optimize the lighting, angle, and color to catch followers’ eyes.
Engage with followers: Respond to all comments people make on your photos, and reply to all DMs so your readers feel appreciated (don’t forget the spam folder!).
Post Stories: This feature isn’t as high-pressure as the main feed, and can be more casual. Stories last for 24 hours unless you add it to your highlights.
Use hashtags: You can include up to 30 hashtags per post. Look at other popular, comparable accounts and see how they use hashtags.
Repost content: Create a hashtag for your book, and follow the hashtag so you can repost when other people post about your book.
Sara also shared some fascinating insights around what kind of content gets more engagement:
Images with a high amount of negative space get 29% more likes — bright, light, uncluttered spaces are pretty!
Images featuring blue as the dominant color generate 24% more likes than images that are predominantly red.
There’s little correlation between caption text length and the number of likes — people care more about the picture.
Hashtags with 10k posts are the sweet spot for discoverability. If you choose hashtags with tens of thousands or millions of posts, and you’ll get lost in the feed. (See more advice on Instagram hashtags here!)
3. How to use Twitter more effectively
Twitter can seem like an overwhelming platform at times, but it’s a great way to connect with readers and participate in the writing community — and it can even help you do research for your next book. Author Mitali Perkins shared some excellent pro tips for making the most of Twitter as an author:
Optimize your header image. Include some of your published books, or the book you’re working on now, so people correlate your books with you.
List your location. Even if you choose a state or broad region, this can help event coordinators know you live nearby when looking for speakers.
Pin a tweet. Choose a tweet that you want to use as a banner tweet at the top of your profile. This could be a tweet including links to purchase your new release!
Create a Twitter Moment for each book launch. Create a hashtag for your book to follow the conversation, and add individual tweets about your new book to this Twitter Moment.
Build Twitter Lists. Lists let you follow subsegments of the community — this can also be a great research tool. For example, you can create lists for comparable authors, editors in your genre, art historians, and so on.
Take regular breaks. Set periods in the morning and at night when you aren’t connected, and take regular hiatuses from the platform when necessary. You can also mute words and phrases to protect yourself from content you don’t want to see.
4. How to proactively deal with author envy
Envy is an issue that many authors deal with, especially when scrolling through social media. Authors Grace Talusan and Patrice Gopo shared their tips for releasing yourself from the clutches of the green-eyed monster and dealing with envy in the writing world. By freeing yourself from this envy, you’ll free up more of your brain space for writing and promotion!
Step 1: Acknowledge the existence of author envy. First, it’s important to acknowledge the existence of the green-eyed monster. Develop awareness of your particular response to jealousy, and figure out what exactly sets you off. Make a list and begin to recognize what (and what doesn’t) cause you to feel envy. This will be different for everyone!
Step 2: Move away from whatever triggers the envy. Take a break from social media, or use the “mute” or “snooze” features. You may even want to take a break from connecting with certain writers or reading their work. Grieve your losses rather than pretending they don’t exist, and don’t condemn yourself for your envious thoughts. Do something that makes you feel joy or reminds you of your strengths. Also, remember that you are loved!
Step 3: Outsmart your envy. Dedicate yourself to honing your craft, and practice writing so your work is as strong as possible, and so you feel proud of it. Celebrate your successes rather than waiting for others to celebrate them. Acknowledge all the ways, big and small, that you’re accomplishing your writing goals. Journaling exercises can help you reconnect with yourself and why you write. It may also help to find inspirational quotes to help you focus on why you write.
Step 4: Disarm your envy. Cultivate a spirit of willingness to help others, and celebrate other authors’ success. When you’re aware that you’re feeling envious, try to reframe your thoughts before you go down a painful path. Remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can.
Step 5: Find the root cause of your envy. Once you’re ready, explore the causes for your envy with trusted friends (writers or non-writers), a therapist, or a support group. Recognize that sometimes, author envy may have nothing to do with writing or another writer, but stems from disappointments and pain earlier in life. Remember to focus on your unique journey!
5. How to build relationships with booksellers
From hosting events to stocking shelves, booksellers are an author’s front-line sales team. They often hand-sell books they love, and can recommend yours to their customers. So it’s important to foster genuine relationships with these booksellers, and find ways to help them help you. Author Leah DeCasare and Grub Street instructor Allison Hoch shared several ways to build these relationships:
Attend author events. Post pictures and content from these events on social media. Being part of the literary community means that bookstores and sellers know of you.
Join local literary groups. Moderate panels, attend events, and get involved in any way you can.
Engage with booksellers on social media. Share and like posts from booksellers, and join the conversation.
Research bookstores to reach out to. Find the stores in and around your community. Scope out their calendar and see if they’re a fit for your content.
Mail postcards or handwritten notes. Whether you have a book coming out you want all the local stores to know about, or you’re traveling to a different city, a handwritten note can make a world of difference.
Bring a press kit. When you go into a bookstore to meet a bookseller, have a press kit on hand to leave with them, so they can review it later.
6. How to prepare for your bookstore events
Once you’ve set up an event at a bookstore, it’s time to prepare! Planning ahead of time will help make the event as successful as possible, and cut down on event-day stress. Here were some tips Leah and Allison offered for preparing for a bookstore event.
To get more people to attend your event:
Discuss recruiting other authors to bring a bigger audience.
Ask the store about their marketing plan and see where you can potentially fill in the gaps — you don’t want to duplicate their efforts.
Actively invite local people (friends, family, coworkers) and fans.
Promote on your platforms early and often with links to the bookstore’s website or IndieBound to boost sales and preorders.
Include the bookstore name, city, and date in graphics or book tour listings. Tag the bookstore in your posts.
Work with your publicist (if you have one) on media coverage leading up to your event.
To prepare for the event:
Check in with the venue the week before the event to make sure you have what you need; projectors, AV equipment, a mic, etc.
Confirm any details for the event format, e.g. how much time do you have to speak before signing?
If you’re going to read, time ahead and know how long it takes to read certain passages. Mark readings of different lengths in a copy of your book.
If you’d rather not read an excerpt from the book, consider reading a short story instead. Attendees will become familiar with your work — and also get closure during the event!
Keep reading time to a minimum. Focus more on interacting and telling stories, or doing a Q&A with another authors.
Keep a book-event bag with bookmarks, signing pens, any other swag, and your reading copy with pages marked.
7. How to rock your bookstore events
Once the day of the event is here, it’s good to know what to expect so the event runs smoothly. Leah and Allison offered tips on how to handle the event itself.
The talk and Q&A portion of the event:
Arrive at least ten minutes before the start time.
Look over where you’ll speak and sign books.
Be entertaining and make a personal connection with the audience.
Embed questions into your talk (e.g. “While writing my novel, I did research at the British Museum; feel free to ask me about that during the Q&A”)
Plant someone in the audience to ask the first question and get the ball rolling.
Show-and-tells work well! Use visuals if they help you tell your story or if you have exciting photos or illustrations to share — but don’t use them to hide behind them!
Watch the time. Move things along as necessary; ask for a set number of questions, and invite people to stay to get the book signed. Ask for help from the event planner if you need time checks or signals.
The signing portion of the event:
Some stores will have a staffer place post-its in books with the signee’s name. Otherwise, always ask for the spelling of the person’s name, even if you think you know it (this also helps when you’ve forgotten someone’s name)
Bring your pens and have one or a few phrases prepared to write above your autograph. Some authors even draw a little something!
The store may ask you to sign stock for them. This is good news because it means they’ll have a big pile of your books prominently displayed for at least a week or so. (And if they don’t ask, offer to sign stock!)
After the event:
Write a thank you note. Email is fine, but handwritten is better!
Post about the event on social media, thanking the bookstore and readers.
Let people know if the store has signed stock (for those who couldn’t make it to the event).
Continue to be professional. Don’t bad-mouth the store if the event wasn’t what you’d hoped.
8. How to prepare for a debut launch 6-9 months in advance
The months after landing your first traditional book deal are an exhilarating — and somewhat stressful! — time. First, you’ll work on developmental edits with your editor, and you’ll further develop your relationships with your agent, editor, and publicist. And once your book goes through copy edits, you’ll likely be 6-9 months from your book launch, and it will be time to start preparing! Author Blair Hurley provided tips for preparing to promote your debut launch.
Create a spreadsheet including potential events, bookstores, organizations, book groups, authors, influencers, or other communities that might be interested in your book.
Launch an author website to make it easy for potential readers to find you and buy your book online. Feature any praise your book has garnered.
Talk to the marketing team or the person in charge of marketing your book. Make sure your visions for promotion align.
Prepare a talk or class about your book or pathway to publication. Universities, writing organizations, and book clubs might be interested in having you give a presentation.
Reach out to local newspapers and magazines to pitch yourself for interviews.
Write think pieces or essays on your area of expertise and pitch to online outlets such as Slate, The Rumpus, Electric Literature, or The Millions.
Link to your website on all of your social media profiles.
Participate in conversations on Twitter and Facebook; don’t just self-promote.
Find your social media voice and make a regular habit of sharing content.
Respond to messages and emails as much as you can.
Coordinate joint events with seasoned authors; it’s hard to fill up a bookstore as an unknown writer.
Query book festivals. Their deadlines are often a year in advance.
Present your publicist with ideas for contacts you have or events you could attend.
Offer to have Skype conversations with book groups or other organizations. Put this information on your website so organizations know you offer this.
9. How to juggle writing (and promotion!) with a day job
Writing full-time is the dream for many authors, but in reality, most authors do have full- or part-time jobs to supplement their writing income. But when writers are expected to be prolific and help promote their own books — on top of their day job — it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Authors Mira Jacob, Rebecca Makkai, Rani Neutill, Daniel José Older, and Maurice Carlos Ruffin shared fantastic tips on how to write while working.
Remind yourself why. Write a postcard to yourself six months from now with your dream or reminder for what you want to accomplish.
Build a support system. Create a network of different writers and mentors that can tell you how they juggled writing with a day job. They can be a great support system, and can also fill in the gaps of your publishing knowledge.
Set boundaries. Protect your time, even if you love the hustle. Be cognizant of your bandwidth and say no to more things.
Find joy in writing. Figure out what about writing makes you happy. When that happens, you’ll jump to run home from work to write, rather than thinking of it as a chore. Remember: Your job as a writer is what millionaires want to do when they retire!
Did you attend #muse19? If so, let us know what your biggest takeaway was in the comments below!
The views and opinions expressed in this event recap are those of the panelists and speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of BookBub.
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We often get questions from authors and publishers about what’s working well right now on BookBub. To that end, we’ve spoken with our editors to find out what BookBub readers have been buying lately across a few of our categories. We hope these insights help partners identify titles that may be good fits for an upcoming Featured Deal, Featured New Release, or Ads campaign!
The Editorial Review Process:
As a reminder, we have a limited number of spots in our curated Featured Deals and Featured New Release emails. Because we receive hundreds of submissions per day, we’re only able to feature a subset of the titles we see, so we rely on an editorial process to determine which deals and new releases BookBub’s members are most likely to buy. Our editors use a combination of historical performance data and knowledge of our members’ tastes to select the featured books. (You can find an infographic that breaks down the Featured Deal selection process here).
We asked our editors what tropes and trends have been working well recently in a few of our categories, and for examples of books we’ve run that include these attributes. While the editors would love to see more books that meet these descriptions, keep in mind that this list is not exhaustive — there are lots of other themes, tropes, and subjects that our readers enjoy in each of these categories.
Also, because we receive so many submissions, a book that falls into one of these areas won’t necessarily be the best fit for our members. Even if it is, timing is everything and we may simply not have room for your book when you submit! Lastly, note that these trends are not evergreen — our readers’ tastes and preferences typically change over time, so be sure to subscribe to the Partners Blog for future trend updates like this one.
Science: Big questions about space and time
Science readers are currently enjoying mind-expanding nonfiction, especially if it helps them grapple with complex topics like neuroscience, quantum mechanics, and physics. Science books that address big questions and afford a glimpse of the inner workings of space and time are of particular interest, as long as they’re not too speculative.
BookBub Featured Deal blurb: “Do time and space exist? What is reality? A New York Times bestselling author hailed as “the scientist they’re calling the next Stephen Hawking” (The Times) breaks down complicated questions about the universe in this lucid journey through physics. “Rovelli’s book is a gem” (NPR).
Middle Grade: Lighthearted fantasy
Our Middle Grade readers love magical adventures with a hearty dose of whimsy and humor. Like the work of Roald Dahl and Rick Riordan, these stories are often fast-paced, infused with magic, and full of fun!
BookBub Featured Deal blurb: “Buckle in for “a breathtaking adventure” that “rivals Rick Riordan’s The Lightning Thief” (Booklist): On her 12th birthday, ordinary Kiranmala is unexpectedly pulled into a magical dimension — where she must fulfill her royal destiny and save the world! “Laugh-out-loud funny and extremely engaging” (Kirkus Reviews).
Beautifully illustrated picture books pack an extra punch when they highlight a valuable, age-appropriate lesson. Whether teaching children about sharing, nature, or important historical figures, books that combine kid-friendly storytelling with an important message or information are doing well with our readers right now.
Featured Deal Blurb: “The #1 New York Times bestseller and Academy Award–nominated film comes to life for children! This educational picture book celebrates four black women who did crucial work for NASA. “Inspirational and groundbreaking… Freeman’s full-color illustrations are stunning” (School Library Journal).
History: Narrative histories of sweeping topics
Our History readers are eagerly purchasing sweeping, readable histories of broad topics, such as the course of an entire dynasty, life as experienced in another time, or the founding of a nation. These books are both educational and entertaining, and the historical information comes to life through interesting anecdotes and evocative — but also factual — storytelling.
BookBub Featured Deal blurb: “Step into an English castle and experience the Middle Ages in this captivating classic! From military measures to the culinary tastes of nobles and peasants, this history is a must-have work of medieval scholarship. “The Gieses succeed in making a remote and unfamiliar world accessible” (Kirkus Reviews).
Historical Romance: Making bets
Romances featuring a bet are quite popular among our historical romance readers at the moment. When the hero or heroine enters into a bet, often he or she is bound to consequences that can complicate matters of the heart. As an unlikely pair is forced together to fulfill an obligation, usually they both come to a revelation that some things are more important than winning a bet — a rewarding ending that historical romance fans can’t help but swoon over!
BookBub Featured Deal blurb: “After losing a card game, the Marquess of Bromton must fulfill a wager and marry Lady Katherine, a spinster ruined by scandal. At least a child of their union would give him a rightful heir — but what happens when his heart starts to get involved?”
New Adult Romance: Elements of Romantic Comedy
One recent trend in New Adult Romance has been books with elements of romantic comedy! Our readers are enjoying stories that make them laugh out loud in between the more romantic scenes. These books have the same tropes and meet-cutes as other romances, but with over-the-top moments or snarky inner dialogue that deliver side-splitting humor and moments of levity.
Featured Deal Blurb: “From a USA Today bestselling author! At 22, Jan keeps having one-night stands — and still hasn’t lost her virginity. But her latest fling, Matt, might be the one guy whose allure she can’t deny…”
Erotic Romance: An arrangement
Erotic romance readers love when the characters make an arrangement or deal with no intention of falling in love — but sparks suddenly fly! Whether it’s a friends-with-benefits situation or a marriage of convenience, the forced intimacy in these books leads to a tantalizing sexual tension and uncontrollable chemistry.
Featured Deal Blurb: “From a USA Today bestselling author: Confident billionaire Nathan Windsor has everything he wants in life — but his gorgeous new neighbor, Sophie, stops him in his tracks. He proposes an arrangement to show her how to let loose… and their chemistry is hotter than either expected!”
Paranormal Romance: Steamy Scenes
Right now Paranormal Romance readers don’t seem to shy away from steamy scenes and erotic content — in fact, books that are on the sexier side are currently performing well to this category. In these books, often a supernatural mate (or two) will embark on a sensual journey filled with intimacy and pleasures with a human woman.
Featured Deal Blurb: “From a USA Today bestselling author: While imprisoned, sexy wolf shifter Reed meets Hannah and discovers a passionate connection. But will Hannah be able to handle another bond when former Navy SEAL Josh comes to their rescue? A red-hot ménage romance with over 800 five-star Goodreads ratings!”
Romantic Suspense: Protecting the innocent
Tales that spotlight children in danger have been well-received by our Romantic Suspense readers lately. The stakes are elevated when an innocent child (or someone with a baby on the way) is in peril, and our subscribers love it when the hero swoops in as the protector!
Featured Deal Blurb: “From a USA Today bestselling author: Career-oriented Kate is blindsided when her sister’s daughter is abandoned on her doorstep. Now, someone is out to harm her niece — and sexy Navy SEAL vet Chuck may be the bodyguard with daddy skills she needs! But can they keep things strictly professional?”
Christian Fiction: Romantic suspense
While BookBub’s Christian fiction readers enjoy a wide range of content, romantic suspense has performed particularly well recently. Adding a dash of danger to a love story is a great way to hook readers usually drawn to romance or fast-paced thrillers, and it seems to be a winning combination in Christian fiction at the moment.
BookBub Featured Deal blurb: “When an injured young woman stumbles out of the mountains of Kauai with no memory, Cameron helps her uncover the past. But she’s not yet free from danger — and together their search for the truth will change their lives. A faith-filled work of romantic suspense!”
Christian Nonfiction: Common questions about faith
Christian nonfiction readers enjoy books that offer a deep dive into common questions that many might experience throughout their spiritual journey, such as whether science and faith can be reconciled or what may await after death. Books that turn to the Bible to reflect upon these questions offer the comfort, hope, and faith-strengthening answers these readers seek.
BookBub Featured Deal blurb: “A profoundly moving New York Times bestseller with over 26,000 five-star Goodreads ratings: Don was pronounced dead after a horrific car accident, only to be revived 90 minutes later. Share in the glorious time he spent in heaven with the Lord in this “extraordinary story” (Newsweek).
True Crime: Suburban secrets
BookBub’s true crime readers are currently loving deep dives into contemporary crimes that reveal the turbulence, secrets, and tragedies of seemingly perfect families in quiet neighborhoods. Well-researched accounts of shocking acts that rocked a community — and the events that led up to them — offer a chilling glimpse into the dark side of human nature.
BookBub Featured Deal blurb: “From a New York Times bestselling author: When a young mother went missing, investigators immediately zeroed in on her husband — but what began as a missing persons case would escalate into a horrifying sequence of tragedies that would destroy an entire family and shock a nation.”
Planning a discount on a title that features one of these trends? Submit a book for a Featured Deal here!
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Writing guest posts for blogs is a great way to help new readers find you and promote yourself and your books for free. Writing for blogs can help grow your fan base and can help you connect with writing communities. There are scores of book, literary, and industry blogs out there, many of which accept guest content. But finding a blog whose audience mirrors your own and successfully pitching articles can be time-consuming and frustrating.
To make things easier, we’re sharing tips on how to successfully guest write for blogs. This post includes suggestions for finding the right blog to pitch to, deciding what to write about, forming a strong pitch, and plugging yourself in the post.
1. Identify which blogs reach your target audience
Start by finding blogs whose audiences match your desired audience. You can find blogs that focus on your genre(s), area of expertise, or audience’s demographic, and blogs that produce content covering a wider range of genres and categories.
Choosing a blog or outlet that promotes your genre is always a great way to begin. Odds are, if the blog owner or editor already likes work within that genre, they’ll take the time to look at your book, too. In addition, it’s never a bad idea to do your research. – Ashley Johnson, She Reads
To find some blogs that are relevant to you, use a search engine, check to see if any authors or bookstagrammers who cover genres relevant to you have a blog, and explore some of the many online book blog directories. Start a list of a few book blogs that fit your work. Here are a few directories to help you start:
(If you’re offering publishing services or selling books to authors or other members of the publishing industry, try a blog geared toward a professional audience rather than a consumer audience, such as the BookBub Partners Blog.)
2. Familiarize yourself with their content, audience, and style
Before pitching content, it’s important to familiarize yourself with a blog’s content types, its audience, and its style. Being familiar with its content and audience can help you decide if the blog is a smart fit for you, determine what type of post would be useful for them, and write a more thoughtful and tailored pitch. Being familiar with their style can allow you to match it, as appropriate, when you write.
Check out a blog’s articles, comments, and social media following. Scrolling through their headlines and reading some of their posts can help you get to know their content and style, and better determine who makes up their audience. Seeing who’s commenting and who follows them on social media can give you a better idea of who reads it.
This guest post, “5 Literary Mysteries Worth Reading,” by mystery author Ritu Sethi, matches the blog’s typical content and covers a topic that Sethi has authority in. It was strong content for the blog to post and exposed Sethi to more readers.
Familiarizing yourself with a blog’s content is an important step for any blog you’d like to write for. Are you sci-fi writer who found a blog that frequently posts articles about trends in science fiction? Pitch something similar, like this post on the Science Fiction and Horror book blog Sci Fi and Scary.
Many blogs have submission guidelines, rules, or suggestions. These often outline what content they want most and how they prefer content be submitted. Be sure to check for these before pitching, as many have specific instructions. The “JOIN US” page on Book Riot, for example, explains what the blog wants from writers who would like to contribute, and offers advice to readers.
3. Pitch a tailored and thoughtful piece of content
Coming up with an idea
When you finally choose a blog to pitch to, come up with a post idea that fits in with the rest of their content. Ideally, a guest post would appeal to their readers while covering something you have some authority on or experience in.
Do they frequently run book roundups? Pitch them one within your niche! Do they lean towards long-form thought pieces? Draft one up that seems to match their audience’s tastes. If you do your homework and pitch a really tailored and thoughtful piece of content, it will be hard to turn down. – Johanna Golden, BookBub Blog
Pitches should match your own voice and writing style. Ideally, they are also concise and friendly.
Send a short but sweet pitch. Include a basic line or two about your work and a relevant link so the writer can access more information if they need to. Above all else, remember that you’re talking to a human being and working with someone who’s personable will make the collaboration efforts that much easier. Spice up your usual pitch and start your messaging with an encouraging note (i.e. I hope you’re having a great week!). – Ashley Johnson, She Reads
Bloggers often receive emails that offer no details about the post idea or the pitcher’s expertise. These demonstrate little value to a blog, and are much easier to turn down or ignore entirely. People have emailed us at BookBub Partners asking to write a guest post without any details about who they are, what they would write about, or what they have written about. Others have pitched us articles that don’t relate in any way to our content. We’re much more likely to engage if a pitch has clear value to our audience and enough information for us to evaluate the idea.
Building a relationship with the blogger
Some bloggers and writers recommend building a relationship with a blogger before reaching out. Some bookstagrammers and book reviewers advise the same for their fields. Blogger Shayla Raquel elaborated:
The strongest pitch is one without the typical, humdrum content that bloggers see in the email inbox all the time. If you want a yes, then build a relationship weeks or months ahead of time with the blogger by engaging—liking, sharing, commenting—with their content. Then it won’t feel like a pitch at all; just a friend offering to provide value to a blog.” – Shayla Raquel, ShaylaRaquel.com
Pitching already written articles
Many writers send full, already written, posts as pitches. Bloggers may accept this, but they may require large edits to it, or like your idea but would prefer you had gone in a different direction. Pitching a well-articulated concept and outline can save you time and make your pitch more flexible. Writing a full post before pitching is no guarantee that it will get accepted.
Contacting a blog that doesn’t cover your preferred content
Feel strongly about pitching a post to a blog that doesn’t typically produce that kind of content? Some bloggers may be open to it, and it can be worth it to reach out anyway. Make it clear that you are familiar with their normal content.
If you find a blog that you’d love to be on but they don’t currently cover your genre, reach out and ask about contributing content to that genre for them. Book bloggers and editors are often busy, and although they may not currently be covering your genre, it doesn’t mean they don’t want to do so in the future. Providing free quality content could be the kind of push they need to expand their scope of book coverage. – Ashley Johnson, She Reads
Feel free to use this basic pitch template as a model for emails you send to blogs:
Hi [name of blog owner/editor],
I’m a [(genre) author/publisher/publicist/etc.] and I would like to write a guest post about [topic] for [name of blog]. The headline would be something like [“title”], and it would cover [specifics of what it would be about]. [Additional details as needed].
Here are some examples of [articles I’ve written/some of my books/my website]:
[link to article you’ve written, book you authored, your website]
[second link if applicable]
Let me know what you think!
In a pitch to this blog, that template might be completed to look like this:
I’m a mystery author and I would like to write a guest post about marketing for new authors for the BookBub Partners Blog. The headline would be something like “10 Marketing Tips for New Writers,” and it would offer tips for authors who are beginning to market their books. It would cover starting social media pages, running their first website ads, and building an email list.
Here’s an article I wrote about choosing the right cover, “How to Choose the Right Book Cover,” [linked] and my author website [linked].
Let me know what you think!
This is by no means the only way to go about pitching to a blog. Many successful pitches are shorter, simply detailing the article idea. No matter how you reach out, try to make a pitch specific, relevant to the blog, and concise.
As with most communication, it doesn’t hurt to be friendly. Mentioning something on their blog or in their social media that you enjoyed is a way to show that you know their blog and that you’ve put thought into this pitch.
4. Tastefully plug yourself in guest posts
Providing a bio
Many blogs include short author bios with their guest posts. These are typically two to three sentences long, with some basic information on who the author is, what they do, and a link or two to their website, blog, social media page(s), and/or books.
If your post is accepted, consider sending a short bio with links to whatever you would most like readers to see. Many writers send their bios with their pitch, which can be a nice way to introduce yourself concisely.
Check out some of these examples of bios from various blogs:
In her bio on our blog, M.J. Rose introduces herself with helpful links in one sentence. All Partners Blog bios include a link to follow the author on BookBub when applicable, as hers does.
This is Catherine King’s bio at the end of a recent Book Smugglers guest post.
Mentioning yourself in the post
Some blogs give more information about their guest writers, like the Queen of Contemporary book blog, which offers a personalized introduction in addition to a shorter bio at the end of the article. When available, these opportunities allow you to share more information about yourself.
Sometimes, it’s even appropriate to mention your work or expertise in the body of the post you write. This is often the case in author and publishing focused blogs, where you can use your experience as examples for the post.
Instagram is a massive and growing social media platform, and it is full of book lovers. There are many book-focused Instagrams with tens of thousands of followers, whose moderators feature books in appealing images that are widely liked and often reposted. As of this publication, users have posted over 29 million pictures with the hashtag #bookstagram. For many authors, Instagram has become a strong platform to attract new readers and engage with existing fans. However, the image-based social media service remains confusing to others, and many authors don’t even have a profile.
To help demystify Instagram, we asked popular bookstagrammers and authors with large followings to share their tips for creating stronger profiles, taking better pictures, attracting new followers, and getting popular bookstagrammers to feature their books. These strategies can be used by anyone, from beginners to experienced Instagrammers, to help grow, develop, and improve their presence on the platform. We hope this guide will help authors and others in the literary world attract new readers and engage more with their fans on Instagram.
1. What to post
Posting the right type of content on your Instagram feed can make your profile more attractive and engaging to followers. Drawing from the recommendations of authors and bookstagrammers, we narrowed the content types we’ll discuss down to three categories that have performed well on Instagram. These are: pictures showing your life as an author, sneak peaks and previews of your work, and pictures of books (including reposts of bookstagrams). These are great starting points for a creating a strong feed.
I. Pictures of your life as an author
This type of content includes photos that offer behind-the-scenes glimpses into your life as an author and reader. A photo of you on a book tour or interacting with readers at a book signing are two great examples. You can also consider sharing what inspires you and what you enjoy to read. Fans often find these insights engaging on bookstagrammers’ and authors’ pages.
Sara from @fictionmatters elaborated on what she enjoys from authors she follows, and what she has found to be the case with her own followers.
Readers want to know what you’re reading, what bookstores you’re going to, where you write, and what inspires you. Definitely showcase your own book as well, but content that shows us who you are as a bibliophile is engaging and eye-catching. And feature book stacks! People love a good book stack. – Sara, @fictionmatters
In this high-performing post, she shared some of the books she read in January, detailing what she “enjoyed,” “loved,” and what she considers a “must read.” Of course, she arranged the titles in a stack.
Author R.S. Grey agrees, saying she likes following people on Instagram when she’s “awarded glimpses into their lives” that she can’t find elsewhere. She also emphasized that she thinks photographs “outperform graphics/teasers nine times out of ten.”
Dig deep. Share a part of yourself. Anyone can post a quote about your book, but only you know the details about how those words came to be and what makes them extra special. Did you write them while listening to music? At your favorite coffee shop? Let your readers know! – R.S. Grey
Grey posted this photo for New Years, and in the caption she shared her concerns and excitement for 2019, giving followers a behind-the-scenes look into her life as an author, mother, and partner. Note that she still features and promotes her books in these posts (and check out that book stack!). Find her entire feed here.
II. Sneak peeks and previews
Sharing a sneak peek into the writing process or a preview of a new book are common social media tactics well-suited for Instagram. Consider sharing a bit of a new novel, an image of a completed or in-progress manuscript, or a picture of you working on your next book.
Helen Hoang shared this video of her beginning chapter one of a new novel. The hashtag #amstaring is a humorous play on #amwriting. It excited her followers and performed well relative to her other posts.
III. Reposts of Bookstagrams
Reposting the photos of bookstagrammers is a great way to get free, appealing content. If you stumble upon a photo you find especially appealing or relevant, you can post it on your profile. Instagram doesn’t have a built-in ‘repost’ feature like sharing on Facebook or retweeting on Twitter, so be sure to credit the page that first posted the picture in the image or the caption. The app Repost makes it easy to copy others’ photos while still crediting the original poster. You can also take your own bookstagrams, which we explain how to do later in this post.
Most of author Calvin Demmer’s recent posts are reposted images, yet he still has over 5k followers and drives engagement in his comments. Demmer marks reposts and credits the original poster in the bottom left of each repost, as you can see on his page.
BookBub’s page often reposts popular bookstagrammers, like this one from @lazhotelparis. These images receive high numbers of favorites and strong engagement. BookBub always credits the original photographer or poster in the comments.
Authors and bookstagrammers don’t need to limit the content in their Instagram posts to these three categories, but hopefully they provide a strong starting point for authors who aren’t sure what to post to their feeds.
While the type of content you post is important, creating an appealing and aesthetically pleasing page can also attract followers. To make an appealing Instagram page, try to maintain visual similarities post-to-post to make your feed appear pleasingly uniform. This can help you create a recognizable Instagram “brand” aesthetic.
Jenna from @jennareadsbooks recommended sticking to a color scheme for an aesthetically strong feed. Using similar colors and the same filter on all of your photos can create cohesion, she explained. Her photos feature dark wood and soft natural lighting to create a theme in her feed.
Charlotte of @booksandteacups uses white bedding and other textiles with bright light and splashes of strong colors.
It takes a lot of time to discover your own photography style, so I think it’s important to experiment a lot and choose the style you like most! If you want your Instagram feed to match, you can for instance, use the same background color in all your photos (for example, white, which I use). Other than that it’s just experimenting a lot and you’ll discover your own style soon enough! – Charlotte, @booksandteacups
While starting with one consistent background color can help you establish your own style, consider changing color schemes over time. In her recent photos, R.S. Grey has used red as a dominant color, but she’s leaned toward pink, tan, blue, and other colors in the past. In the top row below, from early 2019, she favored rose. In the bottom row, from late 2018, she favored amber and similar colors. Note how they match the cover of the books she promotes.
Author Dan Brown went in a slightly more dramatic direction. His pictures merge together to form larger, mysterious looking images on his page. Each of these posts includes a second photo from his personal life or promoting one of his books. This is an example of an author forming a creative and cohesive feed that reflects his writing while still giving fans an enjoyable view into his personal life. The post on the top left of this screenshot includes a second picture, featuring his dog and cat, Winston and Zeus. The second image in the top middle post features a quote from his novel Origin.
Not sure how to take an appealing bookstagram photo? Here are some strategies to take great photos. While practice makes perfect, we hope these tips can help you get started!
I. Feature a single book with a complimentary background
Evelyn, who runs BookBub’s own Instagram page, offers these simple tips for taking a good bookstagram photo of a single book.
If you’re not sure where to begin, try taking a picture of a single book against a simple, complimentary (but not overpowering) background. And put the book you’re featuring in the best light — literally! Find a soft, natural light, and focus sharply on the book to highlight the cover. – Evelyn, @bookbub
In this photo, she featured The Proposal, held by a member of the BookBub team whose outfit complimented the blue and white cover.
Charlotte of @booksandteacups offered this tip for creating a bookstagram: “I suggest placing that particular book in the center of the photo and decorate it with some small items, for example a candle, a bookmark and a blanket.” Combine it with natural light and easy colors, and you can create your own appealing bookstagram.
In this photo, Charlotte placed An Enchantment of Ravens on a bed with a sweater, hot drink with marshmallows, and glasses. The neutral, light colors of the sweater, drink, and bedding, and glasses compliment each other and allow the book cover to stand out. It got over 1,600 likes.
II. Use natural light and filters
Popular bookstagrams frequently feature books in well lit, comfortable spots. For complimentary lighting, bookstagrammers recommended taking pictures in sunlight, even when inside. For uniformity, they recommended sticking with a single filter.
Taking a photo under natural light makes all the difference. That ultimately translates to less editing and higher quality. And when you get to the point where you are taking/posting photos regularly, this has the potential to set your feed apart from others… combine the natural lightning with the right props to set the perfect cozy and bookish mood. Bonus tip: use those filters! Pick your fave and stick to that one. That will give homogeneity to a feed. – Elena, @thebibliotheque
In this picture, she used sunlight and simple props (tea, a blanket, her laptop, her bed) to create a cozy, well-lit picture of Queen of Air and Darkness.
III. Focus on the background
Another bright idea for a simple yet effective bookstagram: an open book in a pretty place. @bookbaristas took this photo in Miami, and has taken other pretty pictures at beaches, parks, and with other atmospheric backgrounds. The words of the book aren’t legible and the cover isn’t visible, yet it’s still captivating.
Faroukh of @theguywiththebook often posts images of a book against a background of a place he’s travelling to.
IV. Feature bookstacks
Want to feature multiple books? As Sara from @fictionmatters mentioned earlier, book stacks often perform well. Set them against a complimentary background, as you would for a single book, to make them pop.
This picture from @lottelikesbooks of a stack of new releases is a good example. She sets the books on white table with a white background, and adds a literary coffee cup. Consider doing something similar with your books or books you’ve read. Here are a couple moreexamples for inspiration.
If you’re not sure where to begin, look for inspiration! #bookstagram is full of ideas — see what other book bloggers are doing, what style of blog speaks to you, and then add your own unique twist, whether that’s a specific book genre, a theme for picture-taking, or even pairing your favorite books with your favorite foods. – Evelyn, @BookBub
Extra tip: bookstagrammers often include themselves or another person in their picture, without including their faces. These images often get strong responses, perhaps because people can more easily imagine themselves in the picture.
For more on taking strong Instagram pictures, check out these resources:
Technical tips for photographing. Includes information on balancing pictures, correct exposure, framing your subject, and more.
Posting impressive pictures can attract new followers to an Instagram page, yet there are also other strategies that even the most inexperienced Instagrammers can use to grow their following. Posting frequently, interacting with your followers, linking to your Instagram on your website and newsletter, and using proper hashtags on your images are among the methods bookstagrammers and authors suggest for gaining followers.
I. Link to your Instagram on other platforms
Put links to your Instagram page on your website, other social media pages, and newsletter, if you have them.
Bestselling author Julia Quinn added links to her Instagram on her website, mentioned it in her email newsletter, and advertised it in this post on her Facebook page. She also saw huge increases in followers when her publishers announced to their own followers that Julia had joined Instagram.
Don’t have a publisher? Consider asking an author you know, and whose fans may enjoy your genre, to share your Instagram page in exchange for sharing theirs.
II. Post regularly
Author R.S. Grey and other popular bookstagrammers found that posting regularly, engaging with followers, and engaging with other pages were important for growing their followings.
I think the best way forward is to treat Instagram as a part of your job, rather than a marketing tool. Get invested. Post often and consistently. Take ten minutes out of your day and snap a few photos. They don’t have to be perfect, but consider simple techniques: natural lighting, bright colors, compelling subject matter. – R.S. Grey