Monday, October 27, 2014

MindStir Media Books

Today a prospective client asked where he could find some of the books MindStir Media has published. This reminded me that perhaps it's time to publish a post on this subject... We've published many, many books in numerous genres and, if you're interested, you can see some of those books at Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com. Now, those sites won't show all of our published books because we do help some authors and other companies publish under their own names, but a simple search at Amazon for "Mindstir Media" will return plenty of results. To make it easy, I'm adding a couple links below:

--MindStir Media books at Amazon
--MindStir Media books at B&N

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What To Look For In Self-Publishing Packages

There are many self-publishing companies out there and most of them include self-publishing packages of some sort. Unfortunately, some packages are really low-quality. Authors think they're getting a great deal with those cheap packages but those packages will actually harm a book's chance at success in the long run because they're using cheap template-based cover and interior designs, making the book look amateurish. If you don't have at least $1000 to $1500, you probably shouldn't be self-publishing in the first place. I know that might sound radical but the truth is this: It takes money to produce a high-quality book.

So here's what you should look for in self-publishing packages -- the packages that could actually help you produce a high-quality book that people want to buy:

  • The best self-publishing package will most definitely include a custom book cover design. This means no templates are used in the design. The design is unique and eye-catching. 
  • A great package will also include a custom interior layout. Basically, the interior will be hand-formatted, focusing on hyphenation, chapter headers, scene breaks, etc. The interior's font should also match the font(s) used on the cover design. 
  • Editing is an essential too! I've never seen a manuscript that doesn't require some level of editing. Even the most seasoned writers (e.g. J.K. Rowling, James Patterson, Stephen King) rely on professional editors to polish their manuscripts. The public should never see a first draft!
  • Your book publishing package must have distribution as well, and not just availability on Amazon.com. Sure, Amazon is the #1 online retailer in the world, but there are thousands of other retailers and booksellers in the world. Purchase a self-publishing package that offers worldwide distribution, preferably through a legit wholesale distributor such as Ingram.
  • Ongoing support needs to be provided. You should be able to pick up the phone and get through to an actual living, breathing person. And that person should understand publishing and be able to answer your questions throughout the publishing process. Make sure you don't end up working with a self-publishing company that only works through email. There aren't many things more frustrating than working with a company that hides behind generic email messages when you're simply trying to get clear answers to your questions.
  • Marketing assistance ought to be included. The best self-publishing companies will at least market your book through social media and their own bookstore. 
  • Fair and affordable book printing prices are key. Do your research before buying a package. Try your best to understand how much you'll be paying for each copy of your book when you buy direct from the publisher.



Friday, August 8, 2014

Your Author Website Needs Proper SEO

If you want your author website to be a book-selling machine, you have a couple options. You can pay for website traffic via pay-per-click methods (expensive) such as Adwords, BingAds, Facebook Ads, etc or you can optimize your website so that it attracts organic traffic (less expensive). Or you can utilize both paid and organic traffic options. Here's what you don't want to do, though: sit back and wait for people to find your website. That just doesn't happen. You need to be proactive. Here are five very basic search engine optimization tips for your author website, sponsored by PAGE SEO COMPANY, a premier NH SEO company:
  1. Perform keyword research. Find keywords that relate to your book(s). For instance, maybe your book is Christian Fiction. You would want to add the term "Christian Fiction" in your website's homepage title tag. It would read "Your Name - Christian Fiction Author". The title of your website is probably the single most important onsite SEO factor. Search engines see the title of your website and use that info to help determine the topic of your website.
  2. Once you've decided on your keywords and sprinkled them in the website's title, it's time to update the meta description. This too should include your keywords. Also update your meta keywords. 
  3. Next, you should include content -- text and images -- on your website that contain your keywords. It's important that you use your keywords in the text sparingly. Don't go overboard and "stuff" as many keywords in your text as possible. "Keyword stuffing" isn't appreciated by Google and your site could get penalized.... How in the world do you add keywords to an image? Easy. You add alt tags
  4. Each page on your website will have its own URL. A URL is basically the address of a page. So you might create a URL for your about page as follows: www.yourauthorwebsite.com/about. That isn't a very search engine friendly URL. Instead, consider creating URLs that contain the keywords and possibly match the title. For example, www.yourauthorwebsite.com/about-christian-fiction-author. 
  5. You should also focus on quality link building. Google counts backlinks as votes of popularity, so quantity matters but quality is much more important these days. You should only pursue high-quality backlinks. With enough high-quality backlinks your website should start appearing in Google search engine results pages for your keywords. 
Obviously, this is an incredibly basic primer on SEO. There are actually around 200 Google ranking factors to keep in mind for your author website. Search engine optimization is an extremely effective method of promoting your website, but it can also be annoyingly complicated and time-consuming. If you'd rather spend more time on writing than doing SEO, I highly recommend you hire a professional SEO services company.  As the #1 NH SEO agency, Page SEO Company can handle all of the onsite and offsite SEO for you, so you can get back to writing.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

How to Get Reviews for Your Book

As the president and owner of self-publishing company MindStir Media, book reviews is a topic that comes up often when speaking with my authors. To get MindStir Media books reviewed I usually recommend the following options to my clients (this is a partial yet powerful list):

  • NetGalley: This site puts a digital version of your book in front of 145,000+ reviewers, who can download the PDF. Whenever a reviewer downloads your book, he/she MUST review the book before downloading any other books from the website. MindStir Media authors have the option to get reviewed via this service.
  • GoodReads: Use this website to give away copies of your book in exchange for honest reviews. MindStir authors are encouraged to signup for a Goodreads account and then use the Author Program to participate in the giveaway program. Here's a link that I usually give out to MindStir Media authors: http://www.slideshare.net/GoodreadsPresentations/your-guide-to-giveaways-on-goodreads-15194819
  • LibraryThing: This site is a lot like Goodreads in that you can give away print copies of your book. On LibraryThing, though, you can give away copies of your ebook in exchange for reviews as well. MindStir Media authors have found this very beneficial. 
  • Contact reviewers directly: Sites like The Indie View show lists of book reviewers. Look through the list of reviewers and follow their submission guidelines, etc. Also perform a search on any of the major search engines for something along the lines of "book blog reviewer list" or "book blog directory" and you'll find a wide array of book reviewers for you to contact.
  • Turn fan mail into reviews: You might receive fan mail from time to time. Instead of sending back a dull response, why not send a genuine "thank you" and then ask them if they'd kindly post a book review on Amazon.com? Tell the fan that you appreciate their kind note and would really appreciate their continued support by posting an honest review. You'll be surprised by the response!
  • Run a "Free Book Promo" for your Kindle book: As part of their Select program, Amazon allows authors and publishers to offer their Kindle books for free for up to 5 days during each 90-day period. Readers worldwide will download your ebook for free during that period and many of them will review the book on Amazon. MindStir Media authors have seen great success with this book review tactic. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Self Publish A Book: The Best Way

MindStir Media is a full-service self publishing company, and I'm the owner of MindStir Media, so keep that in mind while reading... There are numerous articles out there that discuss how to self publish a book but many of them talk about self publishing as if you have to "go it alone." The truth is simple: You do not have to handle self publishing alone, and some -- including myself -- would argue that you should not handle it alone...

There are exceptions, of course, but the best way to tackle self publishing is to hire a team of professionals around you. This means hiring a book designer, an editor, printer, self-publishing coach, publicist, etc. You can try to assemble this team yourself, as some self publishing authors do, but that will take a lot of time and patience on your part. The easiest and most convenient way to self publish, in my opinion, is to simply team up with a self publishing company like MindStir Media. MindStir has everything in place for you to self publish a book, including professional editors and book designers, coaching, etc.

Regardless of how you decide to self publish, here's a partial list of things you should look for in your team and/or preliminary questions you should ask:

  • Book designer: A professional book designer should have a portfolio available for you to view. For instance, at MindStir Media we have an entire online bookstore filled with books we've designed. Authors can quickly see the work done and decide whether or not MindStir's designers are a good fit. 
  • Editor: What books has she/he edited? Are they published? How did they do in the marketplace? What kind of background does she/he have? 
  • Printer: You should always inquire about pricing. How much will it cost to print your book? Is the printer equipped to handle large volume? The printer MindStir Media uses is actually the largest print-on-demand printer in the world, printing millions of books for publishers worldwide. 
  • Coach: There are many self publishing coaches out there but many of them are not qualified to be giving advice. A good self publishing coach has experienced strong book sales and understands the ins and outs of self publishing, including marketing. 
You'll also need to look into book distribution and order fulfillment. Ingram is the leader in wholesale book distribution and there are many book fulfillment companies throughout the world but, again, the easiest way to handle these items is to partner with a self publishing company like MindStir Media...

Friday, May 16, 2014

Turn a Book Into a Movie

Photo by MD4Group, Flickr
Throughout the years many authors have approached me and asked how to turn a book into a movie. The starting point is almost always getting a screenplay and/or treatment written. But there are, of course, right and wrong ways to handle the treatment and screenplay. You shouldn't try to handle this alone. You should definitely seek the help of professionals, since you may only get one shot at selling your story to a movie production company. So I highly recommend finding a screenplay writing service, or even more specifically a book to film adaptation service. Because in order to turn a book or novel into a movie you really should generally have both the treatment and screenplay in hand to shop around to the major movie and television production companies. This is so much better than trying to simply pitch an "idea." Imagine how many "ideas" present themselves to those Hollywood studios! You need to stand out and you do that by having both a treatment and full screenplay in hand -- ready to go.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

NH Book Publisher

All you have to do is Google NH book publisher and you'll notice that MindStir Media is a leader among NH book publishers. MindStir has been seen in many New Hampshire publications such as The Portsmouth Herald and Spotlight Magazine. So, naturally, every week I hear from NH authors looking for a book publisher in NH. Although it's not absolutely necessary to work with a local publisher nowadays, many authors in New Hampshire insist on dealing with a local publisher. I do help authors nationwide -- and I do so over the phone and by email -- but for authors in NH I'm able to meet up with them from time to time and consult in person...

For instance, about a month ago I met up with a MindStir author located in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and helped her with marketing, specifically book marketing via Facebook. I was able to take her non-targeted Facebook page and help her target pet lovers -- the topic of her upcoming book. She went from very little engagement to receiving a healthy number of likes (and comments) per post. She also attracted many new targeted Facebook fans... There aren't many book publishers in NH other than MindStir Media (if any) that will sit down with you and share marketing knowledge. That's one of the things that makes MindStir so "Mind-Stirring" and different from the rest of the NH book publishers: personal one-on-one support.