by Ben Zackheim | Mar 25, 2015 | Book Promotion, Digital Identity, Sell your book, Writing |
[Tweet “Spend an hour a week listening to one of these podcasts for writers. Go in with eyes wide open!”]
From Joanna Penn‘s excellent selection of business tips to The Self Publishing Podcast‘s eerily helpful smack talk, there’s something here for you to enjoy.
The Self-Publishing Podcast is one my my favorites, with Sean Platt (), David Wright () and Johnny B. Truant () lobbing inside jokes peppered with fantastic ideas. The charm of the hosts is a big part of the draw but their success can’t be ignored. My money is on these three authors hitting it BIG and it’s fun to watch their careers grow. What’s the benefit for us? We can draw parallels with their hard work, disappointments, victories and struggles. It’s like an epic serialized story with three guys sitting on their asses.
Best enjoyed with: A red chili lunch with espresso chaser.
Favorite episode: Selling on Apple, Kobo and Barnes & Noble
Joanna Penn () is a staple of the indy community. She’s been sharing her experiences as an author and entrepreneur for a few years, so her perspective has weight. She’s recently started to focus on the craft of writing as well. I like Joanna for her optimism and her focus on the future. Anyone who can make me feel good about this tough business has earned my attention!
Best enjoyed with: Tea (spiked with sherry)
Favorite episode: Optimizing Kindle Categories, Email List Building and Facebook Marketing with Nick Stephenson
The Reading and Writing Podcast is a great way to hear from your favorite authors about their latest books and the writing life. From Dean Koontz to Lee Childs to Walter Mosley, this podcast snags some of the best writers in the business. Straight-forward, insightful questions from the host Jeff Rutherford ( ) make the podcast a must-listen for those moments when you just need inspiration and guidance. At 181 episodes (and counting) this is the legacy podcast that should be on everyone’s subscription list.
Best enjoyed with: Buttermilk Cornbread Waffles (sweet and savory goes well with the interview AND the southern accent!)
Favorite episode: Walter Mosley. So talented. So classy.
The Author Hangout () is a new entry in my must-listen list. They’re off to a good start with helpful interviews of authors and marketing folk. Their series on blog tours is the best I’ve ever seen. The podcast is part of the Book Marketing Tools site which sells author services (see my review of their promo tool). However, they do a good job of keeping their business out of their advice.
Best enjoyed with: Pad of paper and pencil for the deluge of tips.
Favorite episode: Author Earnings: The Real Story (only Hugh Howey could find a way to say, “Indy publishing is like a raisin muffin”!)
The Self-Publishing Roundtable is a storied podcast with high turnover. People come, people go, but it always remains informative. They cover everything from marketing tactics to creative tips. The conversations are intelligent, focused and current. For example, one of the newest episodes cover Mastermind Groups. Yes, Masterminds are packed with buzzy-sugarness but they are a useful way to get inspired fast.
Best enjoyed with any slow food. Good for the digestion!
Favorite episode: Making Money In The YA Market
Jim Kukral () and Bryan Cohen () host this helpful, slick show. There’s the occasional plug of author services (Jim Kukral started Author Marketing Club) but they’re smart about it. Their Three Tips segment launches the discussion and they tend to be dead-on with their advice. Jim and Bryan also cover current news (which can lead to amusing discussion-rants).
Best enjoyed with: Whatever you eat while you’re watching the evening news.
Favorite episode: Digital Resale, Virtual Assistants and Shorter Books (they also cover Amazon Giveaways, though they come to the wrong conclusion ;-))
The Science Fiction & Fantasy Marketing Podcast covers, um, Science Fiction and Fantasy marketing. Lindsay Buroker () of The Emperor’s Edge fame joins Joseph Lallo (, The Book of Deacon) and Jeffrey M. Poole (Tales of Lentari) to discuss tactics and strategies for one of the most popular genres. The podcast is relatively new but the years of experience shine through. From showing up at shows with 3D printed swag to maximizing free promotional days, this one covers the tried-and-true and the cutting-edge.
Best enjoyed with: Mead. Ferengi crab.
Favorite episode: Book Bundles, Marketing Successes and Failures, and Creating Author Swag
If soothing British accents are your thing, then you need to tune in to Rocking Self-Publishing to find a mantra. If you like soothing British accents that are saying something useful then browse the Rocking Self-Publishing library. Packed with wisdom, inspiration and common sense it’s a welcome break from the grind. Simon Whistler () is enthusiastic and hungry to extract useful information for himself and his listeners.
Best enjoyed with: Tea (spiked with tequila). Bacon.
Favorite episode: The Importance of Being an ‘Authorpreneur’ (author/entrepreneur) with Joanna Penn (two British accents bounce off of each other like wind chimes on the bayou)
This new podcast also enjoys the presence of Lindsay Buroker (she’s everywhere!) The show is low-key and informative, with co-host Adam Poe () touching on topics that we have questions about. Pay special attention to episode 7 where he goes over how to get your books on Google Play. He’s found some success there and recommends authors get their books up for sale ASAP. I also enjoy The Writing Podcast‘s wise choice to interview traditionally published authors. We all have something to contribute to this writing life.
Favorite episode: Getting your books on the Google Play store
So there you have it! My favorite podcasts for writers. Every one of these shows is consistent, informative, well-intentioned and worth checking out. If you end up becoming a fan, tell them I sent you! ;-)
What are your favorite podcasts for writers and authors? Answer in the comments below…
by Ben Zackheim | Dec 9, 2014 | Video |
I love Hugh Howey. Sure, he’s a good writer, but he can be a helpful one too! In addition to all of his efforts to make self-publishing a transparent and optimistic community, he also spends a lot of time doling out indy tips and tricks. Hands-Dirty tips. Rubber-Meets-Road tricks.
But this one may be his best.
InDesign is a wonderful, complex mess. It will definitely help you make a beautiful book, but it will also kill you slowly with obtuse logic that hammers your head, and drop-down menus that will chop your fingers off. Mr. Howey (a name to envy) spends 50 minutes showing us how to take your doc and turn it into a book. You’ll be pausing every few seconds as you follow his steps, which will effectively turn his video tutorial into a 29 hour lesson, but that’s the beauty of it.
Thorough, clear, with a pause button. Perfect.
If you’ve been thinking about buying InDesign, this may be the best advertisement for the software ever.
by Ben Zackheim | May 28, 2014 | Book Promotion, Sell your book |
What are keywords? They’re the words you use to describe your book. Sometimes you’ll hear them called keyword phrases, but that just means keywords that are more than one word long. For example, “hero” is a keyword and “android hero” is a keyword phrase.
Amazon asks for keywords.
BN.com asks for keywords.
In fact, every site with media wants them.
But why is it so important to find keywords for your book?
Keywords are a primary way for a store to understand what your book is about. When you give your book a keyword, you’re giving it an identity. After all, “detective” paints a different picture in your head than “cooking.” Keywords are beacons, pings, scents that get picked up by search engines, recommendation bots and, oh yeah… readers.
Keywords are like perfume. If chosen wisely, they make your book more attractive to the right folks. The kind of folks who are so totally into you (and your book).
So how do you find keywords to use for your book?
How do you find keywords that will help your book get visible on the online stores?
1) Be specific and be honest.
Use words that truly describe your book, not what you think will be popular.
And when you choose the keywords, use specific terms like “android hero” instead of “hero”. This will help the book get spotted by folks with specific tastes.
2) String a couple of words together to make a short, clear phrase.
So use “mystery series for kids 9-12” instead of just “kids mystery”. These keyword terms will map well with what customers actually type into the search bar when they’re looking for a book.
Use keywords in the same way a customer would use them. Example: sleuth mysteries, not mysteries sleuth
3) Test your keywords.
Go to the online bookstores where you sell your book.
Type in one of the words you chose for your book. Notice the window that drops down?
Those are suggestions for readers to make their search easier. But it’s also list of suggestions for authors trying to find keywords for their book!
Scan the list of terms in that drop-down menu. Click on the first one that truly applies to your book. Do you like the results you see for that term? Do those books look like your competition? Then use that term! It applies to your book and it’s popular enough to appear in the drop-down menu — so go for it.
4) On Amazon, be sure to use all seven keywords or short phrases.
Separate them by a comma.
5) Be sure to use your keywords in the book metadata AND in the book description.
If the scent fits, then wear it everywhere! The more you use appropriate keywords on your book’s sales page, the better your chances of connecting to the right customer.
Keep these five tips in mind while you’re prepping your book for sale. You can also follow these tips if you want to find keywords for your existing books. I’ve seen Shirley Link & The Safe Case climb up two popular lists on Amazon just by tweaking the keywords after launch.
Good luck! It can be tough to find keywords for your book that work well. But as Amazon says, “To increase your book’s discoverability on Amazon, you need descriptions and keywords that accurately portray your book’s content and use the words customers will use when they search. Along with factors like sales history and Amazon Best Sellers Rank, relevant keywords can boost your placement in search results on Amazon.com. ”
You can’t be everything to everybody. That’s a recipe for failure. So choose your scent and find your book lovers!
Other writer’s advice on how to find keywords for books:
KDP Forum Post
The Metanautics Department (some interesting thoughts on using Google’s keyword tool to recognize term popularity in the general population)
By Ben Zackheim
You might also like:
How to write an author bio that sells books
Choose the best genre for your book on Amazon
by Ben Zackheim | May 22, 2014 | Book Promotion, Sell your book, Writing |
Many of us think in words. Authors are like that. Our thoughts take on a distinct inner voice — dependent on mood, muse and cups of coffee.
So when we’re faced with the option of building a book trailer, with words and pictures and animations… well, it’s daunting.
With an NYU Film School education and several years of playing the Hollywood game, I’ve set out to craft a trailer for my upcoming series, The Camelot Kids. I’m delighted with it so far, so I thought I’d share some basic rules that have helped me focus.
Here are my impressions of what works, what doesn’t and how to avoid the common mistakes I spot in book trailers every day.
Here are some resources for you to dig into:
Tools for book trailer creation
Adobe Voice for iPad
A spectacular tool. I don’t use that word lightly. That’s the term I save in my quiver for special occasions.
The app on the iPad does everything and does it well. You can make a slick presentation within minutes. If you want to make a fast, elegant trailer that focuses on your writing style, character voices or humor then Adobe Voice can help you. Oh, and they have tens of thousands of stock images for free. The app adds the correct credit to the end of the video so you’re pretty safe.
I can’t recommend this app enough.
Some quality book trailers have been done with Prezi tools. Like Adobe Voice, the service will help you look slick. But unlike Adobe Voice, you don’t have simple and searchable access to free, accredited images.
Graphicstock and BigStock are (as of this writing) offering a free one week trial to their library of images. You need to give a credit card to get access, but you can cancel if you don’t think the service gives you enough value.
If you decide that voice is a critical component of your trailer, then you really can’t go wrong with Blue’s Yeti mic. It looks great and sounds even better. While the sensitivity can be high it’s nothing that can’t be adjusted for with a little distance from the mic.
Book trailers that work
Fantastic book trailers and the reasons they’re so good
7 Brilliant Book Trailers
A funny piece in The New Yorker about book trailers
Have you made a book trailer? What do you think of book trailers? Let us know in the comments!
By Ben Zackheim
You might also like:
How to write an author bio that sells books
Choose the best genre for your book on Amazon