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Whether you are an aspiring author, a published author, a publisher or one who provides services to those who publish, the purpose of this SLPA Blog is to provide information and resources on a full range of author/publishers issues and ideas.
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  • Sunday, November 26, 2017 10:30 PM | Linda Austin (Administrator)

    When you are selling your own book within your state, you must collect sales tax and remit to the state at the end of the year. If you are buying copies of your own book to sell or even give away, did you avoid paying sales tax on your purchase since you will have to collect and pay it anyway whenever you sell a book? Is this confusing? Writer-lawyer Helen Sedwick tries to clear this up - the best she can.

    Sales Tax Basics for Indie Authors


  • Monday, October 30, 2017 4:19 PM | Linda Austin (Administrator)

    Stephen King's book "On Writing" is said to be one of the best books on how to write. In it he says his greatest lesson was examining the redlines an editor made.  Read his upfront article 22 Lessons on How to be a Great Writer

  • Monday, September 18, 2017 10:55 AM | Linda Austin (Administrator)

    Do you really need a website? Should you be blogging, too? What about social media? Can you just use Facebook? Are you feeling overwhelmed? Jane Friedman's recent article may ease your pain. 

    What's more important, author websites or social media?


  • Thursday, August 24, 2017 4:53 PM | Timothy Yohe

    As technology grows at an astounding pace, authors need to keep up with the latest innovations. Yes, I know, it’s already tough enough to tackle the whole idea of book marketing. Many of us just want to write the book, step back, and let someone else do the labor of getting it out to our audience. If your bank account is flush with money, then you could hire it all out. But, let’s face it, many of us either struggle financially or we are getting by with just enough. Here is where helpful tools come into play. I hope that over time you will begin to find more and more of these resources on this blog and across our SLPA social media sites to help you navigate this technology and sell more books.

    Personal computers and laptops may always be around, not just because they are the first computers, but because every office has one. However - computers and laptops are not what your reader audience is using to engage on your author platform. It is on their Smartphone. Nearly everyone is busy these days and so getting information on-the-go is essential. We are using voice-activated Google searching and videos are fast becoming the medium for information acquisition. Your author platform needs to keep pace with these trends.

    One of the things you can do is to make sure your author website and social media channels look appealing in mobile form. Generally it is in this format that your content will be viewed.

    To give you a personal example, I recently overhauled my website timothyyohe.com with what I thought was a cool template. I like to use the free ones because I have an incredibly low budget for writing. After I set it all up, I decided to take a look at the site in the mobile version. It looked terrible. The wording ran off both sides of the screen and the pictures were either too large or too small. I needed a different template.

    I use Wordpress.com for my site and so I went back into the template section, clicked the “FREE” box, and put the word “mobile” in the search bar. When I simply clicked the “FREE” box earlier for templates, it gave a list of 122. With the refined search of “mobile,” Wordpress narrowed it down to 16. So, if you use the free templates for your author website, make sure you pick from one of the 16 listed. Otherwise… your website will look like mine did – a mobile disaster. Nothing will drive away your audience faster than an author website that cannot be read from a Smartphone. 

    - Timothy Yohe

    Social Media Director for the St. Louis Publishers Association


  • Saturday, July 29, 2017 4:08 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    SLPA’s Jedi Book Marketing workshop with Dr. Judith Briles was a huge success. Known as The Book Shepherd, Briles’ fast-paced presentation (think "light speed!") energized an audience of authors, book designers, editors, and publishers. More than sixty-five people attended, representing many levels of experience —from beginner to pro—as well as book genres.

    Light sabers and pens
    For those who wated tips, strategies and ideas, this was an excellent opportunity to learn from one of the industry's top book marketing experts. Briles entertained the audience from start to finish with her informative sassy and snappy style, while participants furiously took notes throughout the workshop.

    “Do or do not. There is no try.”
    Briles emphasized: "You need to think of your book as a product that you are bringing to the market. Book marketing means creating chatter and buzz about the author and book. Is it work? Is it scary? Is it confusing? Yes to all. Yet, it can be fun. It does take commitment and hot spit, but it turns you into a marketing machine ... one step at a time.”

    “Use the Force”
    Judith had a galaxy full of topics. You're the brand: What’s the right marketing strategy for your book? Who are your top competitors? What are your keywords and phrases? How should you pitch (think Shark Tank)? Who is in your tribe? What social media channels should you focus on? Which tools will improve your titles and blog posts?

    Post questionnaire and initial attendee feedback

    1. What was the most interesting thing you learned?
    • Marketing tools I hadn't heard of before. —Jennifer Geist
    • How to create a successful cover, title, and subtext, and how to test it online. —Gary Kodner
    • Website and email should contain author's name. Will adjust both to encompass my nom de plume —Vicky Wors

    2. What are you going to do differently or better as a result of the workshop?
    • We may move our focus from getting into bookstores to instead into libraries and directly into the hands of more readers, via direct sales or Amazon, etc. —Jennifer Geist
    • Full speed ahead. I'm jumping into the deep end. —Dan Grizzle
    Final comments
    • Judith dropped knowledge like a B-52 and kept the audience engaged and entertained the whole time! What a blast. — Andrew Doty

    • Very good program with excellent information! Judith was a very interesting speaker. I got a lot of good ideas. I couldn't write the information fast enough on my notes! —Cliff Harwin

    • These pros are great. I can never hear too much about social media. —Terry Mulligan

    • I was most interested in her comments about how to improve your pitch and how to get your book reviewed. I plan to work on both of those. —Andrea Jackson


    • The seminar was great. The location was perfect, and Judith was at her best. I learned more about what should be on the book cover to market the book effectively and to reduce the book cover to determine if it was readable on a cell phone. —Sharon Wyman

    A big thank you to The Book Shepherd, Judith Briles — great workshop! 
  • Thursday, July 13, 2017 3:23 PM | Andrew Doty (Administrator)

    article by Judith Briles

    One of the website strategists and specialists I bring in to work with many of my authors is Amber Ludwig of NGNG Enterprises. In a special BookCamp hosted by AuthorU.org, Amber addressed six critical must-haves to make it in the authoring world. 

    As the principal and visionary of InsightfulDevelopment.com, every time she works with authors on websites and branding, she looks at these sparks to get them going: 

    • Branding and message 
    • Website dos and don’ts 
    • Content and blogging 
    • Building a dedicated and responsive following 
    • Product development 
    • Social media 

    Beginning with author branding, it starts with focus — what do you do and what do you offer? Woven throughout were: 

    • Defining and demonstrating a clear and succinct mission statement 
    • Creating a personal tag that others immediately connect with who you are and what you do 
    • Clarity on what you do for your audience 
    • Probing into uniqueness 

    Your website is critical to review. Anyone who says that websites are minor plays are ignorant in today’s online world — the website is now the hub of everything you do online — from capturing leads, to connecting with others, to selling your products and services. 

    What you put on your website is content — make sure it’s the right content to match your message and your brand. Amber engaged our campers in an excellent exercise on developing content, where the outcome would deliver blog post ideas, articles, and product development — all taking the author business to another level. 

    All authors want fans, and list building is critical. The concept of creating free, high-value information and replacing it often was explored. Identifying formats, topics, catchy titles, and implementation for rollout strategies were explored. List building requires email collections, and MailChimp was highly recommended over Constant Contact, which has become stagnate in what it offers to users. A key takeaway was that when list building, there must be a clear call to action on what to do next. 

    Books are products, and product development can start before, during, or post-publication. EBooks, multimedia, CDs, DVDs, teleseminars, webinars, home study courses, coaching, group coaching, inner circle clubs, conferences, seminars, and membership programs were all explored. 

    Lastly, social media — the top networks of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram were explored. Beginners start with posts for Twitter once or twice a day, then build; blogging must be consistent, ranging from one to three times a week. For Facebook, just do it! Emphasis was made on not commercializing/pitching on the personal welcome page… that goes on the business/fan page. Amber suggests using Facebook ads to direct attention to whatever products you want highlighted on your website. 

    When posting, keep this in mind: Is your post word-of mouth worthy? Is your post inspiring? Does your post have a call to action? Is your post interactive? Calls to action are critical. You need all six elements — the sparks to keep your author and book plugs in action. Don’t use social media in a lame manner. It’s an amazing and massive tool that has a variety of options to support you and your book. Start with the main players and dive deep into the one that works well for you. Get a website makeover if necessary. Start thinking “what else” — what other products can you develop using your expertise and book as the foundation? Work on building your crowd — fans are important. And keep building on your content. 

    Judith Briles, “The Book Shepherd,” has shepherded more than 1,000 authors and created 500 best-sellers and award-winning books. She’s knowledgeable and entertaining and has personally authored 35 books that have been translated to 16 languages, sold a combined 1,000,000 copies, and generated in excess of $5,000,000 in revenues from combined book sales and speaking fees. As an advocate for authors, Judith knows publishing inside and out from both the traditional and independent sides. She hosts the podcast AuthorU - Your Guide to Book Publishing and is the founder of AuthorU.org. Visit her website at TheBookShepherd.com.

  • Thursday, June 15, 2017 9:47 AM | Andrew Doty (Administrator)

    article by Alex Cruz

    We are living through very interesting times, as ever-growing portions of our lives revolve around technology. This change has left few parts of our daily routines unaffected. In terms of content, the entire world’s information is only a short question away — spoken or typed.

    One of the many double-edged swords surrounding technology is its cost — more specifically, the cost to use well known and “free” tools like Google and Facebook, which are common parts of most people’s lives. But a closer look reveals they may not be so “free” after all.

    Google, Facebook, and others provide these free services in exchange for user data. This data is extremely valuable to advertisers. Google, Facebook, and others alike all have statistics in their earnings reports that measure how much the average user is worth. If you live in the United States, you’re worth about $14 per year to Facebook.

    Facebook and Google alone now take about 75%–85% of all digital advertising revenue. We’ve come a long way from the Mad Men days.

    If you are an author interested in learning more about analytics, you must first understand the world you live in.

    One of the best ways to motivate yourself is to understand what's possible. A good start may be to know how technology and analytics can help you advance your career. Technology can help you communicate with thousands of your fans at once and drive book sales beyond your wildest dreams. This is all possible.

    Now, just because you learn this does not mean people will buy your book. The punchline is that those who produce great content now have a shot at winning.

    The traditional author goal has been to get through the gatekeepers, also known as publishers. This is no different than the music industry. But times are clearly changing. This year, for the first time ever, breakout artist Chance the Rapper won three Grammys. He won best new artist, best rap album, and best rap performance. The 23-year-old was never signed by a record label, never sold a physical album, and streamed all his music for free. He was discovered on popular streaming services SoundCloud and Spotify. He went straight to consumers and skipped the major record label process.

    If you question if this is possible within the book industry, it is. A programmer recently did an “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit. Without quitting his dayjob, he wrote a sci-fi story in his spare time and made the Top 5 list on Amazon, knocking down Stephen King from the #1 spot in the horror genre. Beating out a classic by Stephen King in the Amazon ranking system is very difficult to do.

    You may feel like all this technology is intimidating and daunting. In some regards it is, but if you take it one step at a time and at least begin to know why you need to understand it, you can go from there. Learn to know what you don’t know. Nobody was born learning how to use a smartphone. Nobody was born understanding how to drive a car, but most now know how to because it was important enough. Can you sit down for an hour a night and learn? How important do you think it is to adapt?

    Start today with Nick Stephenson’s free resources at yourfirst10kreaders.com, including a free webinar workshop for authors (bit.ly/10k-readers-webinar) and free e-book (bit.ly/10k-readers-ebook).

    Alex is a digital marketing expert and the founder of PenPath. While attending the University of Missouri, he founded his first online publication, which reached millions of readers globally. He later started an analytics software startup that turned into what is now one of the fastest growing digital agencies in St. Louis.

    Alex presented "How to Market Books Online: Advice From an Analytics Expert" at the SLPA meeting on June 14, 2017.


  • Monday, June 12, 2017 12:47 PM | Linda Austin (Administrator)

    Have you thought about starting a blog? Do you already have a blog? For authors, blogs can be an important component of getting their books noticed, but there's a difference between blogging and just blogging. Ryan Lanz of "A Writer's Path" blog says:

    Ask Yourself One Question


  • Monday, May 22, 2017 8:06 PM | Linda Austin (Administrator)

    Are you using Twitter? Twitter users use hashtagged (#) words or run-together phrases in their posts as a way to instantly identify the tweet's subject, providing search words or phrases interested people can easily find. Sometimes hashtags are used just to be fun and attract attention (#ILoveChocolate). For best practices (so your tweets don't look annoyingly overloaded), do not use more than three hashtags per tweet. Facebook now accommodates hashtags, too, as searchable terms, so you could use some basic ones in your Facebook Page's posts. However, most people on FB probably aren't aware of FB hashtagging or don't know what it means.

    Here are 44 Essential Twitter Hashtags for Authors by Author Media.


  • Wednesday, April 05, 2017 12:05 PM | Linda Austin (Administrator)

    Pinterest is especially popular with women, so if your book's audience is mostly women, think about using Pinterest to attract them. You can do this with a friendly personal account or as a strictly business account. Joel Friedman features an excellent article by Frances Caballo - who includes examples! Remember, images are important whether you use Pinterest or not.

    From Fun to Serious: How I Use Pinterest Now



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