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.
  • 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, Amber addressed six critical must-haves to make it in the authoring world. 

    As the principal and visionary of, 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 Visit her website at

  • 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, including a free webinar workshop for authors ( and free e-book (

    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

  • Wednesday, March 08, 2017 9:54 AM | Andrew Doty (Administrator)

    The internet provides an overabundance of information — good, bad, and utterly useless — on just about every topic, and publishing advice is no exception. There are endless options for successful publishing, and the best strategies are often unique to each author’s needs and desires. As a publishing consultant, I frequently find myself trying to help authors find out what they need and want before I can give them what they really came for — recommendations.

    So in the interest of helping you save some time, here are a few of my most recommended resources.

    First and foremost, check out the St. Louis Publishers Association’s website, blog, and social media ( Every month, we host informative and helpful speakers who provide their expertise and answers to our attending members. Additionally, we make useful posts on our blog and social media sites and feature educational and illustrative articles in our monthly newsletter ( as well as our Resources page (

    If you know you want to write a book but haven’t started yet, check out Dan Poynter and Danny O. Snow’s “7 Action Items to Take Before You Begin Writing Your Book” at

    On writing:

    If you’re looking for inspiration, like a writing prompt, or just some new words to learn and use, simply Google “word of the day” to find one of the countless webpages dedicated to that; also, check out the Writer’s Digest Creative Writing Prompts (, ThinkWritten: 365 Creative Writing Prompts (, and Storymatic ( (The first two are free, the last one is not.)

    And if you want some tips to improve your writing, see Elmore Leonard’s, “10 Rules for Good Writing” ( and Johnny Lists’s, “12 Useful Websites to Improve Your Writing” (

    On publishing:

    Four of the most important resources I can recommend are Judith “The Book Shepherd” Briles (, who has a very useful blog, many helpful books, and also hosts a free teleconference every Monday at 11am Central to answer questions from authors; Jane Freidman’s Key Book Publishing Paths chart (; Kimberly Rae’s Write with Purpose article “Finished a New Book? The 10-Step Process from ‘Done’ to ‘Published’” (; and Noah Lukeman’s Ask a Literary Agent ( Unfortunately, Ask a Literary Agent hasn’t been updated since 2014 and therefore is at risk of becoming a little more outdated every day, but things aren’t changing so fast that the advice is even close to bad yet. (And on a side note, Judith Briles will be speaking for the SLPA in a special workshop on July 22!)

    About publishing books and uploading files through Amazon / CreateSpace / Kindle Direct, the most direct source of how-to information is Amazon’s own Kindle Direct Publishing help knowledge base at

    On marketing:

    Head over to Shawn Manaher’s Book Marketing Tools website at and download the handy (and free) 20-page guide “The Ultimate Author Checklist for Online Book Marketing.” Also check out BookBub’s “Ultimate Collection of Book Marketing Examples” (, Tim Grahl’s “Book Marketing: The Definitive Checklist” (, the Smashwords Book Marketing Guide (, and Phil Bolsta’s nearly endless “How to Promote Your Book Like a Pro!” blog post ( All of these marketing resources are free. If you’re looking for something to spend money on, Tim Grahl’s Your First 1000 Copies: The Step-by-Step Guide to Marketing Your Book is one of the most widely recommended books in the industry.

    And finally, a shameless plug: I strongly encourage authors to ask questions on my blog at, where I do my best to be a useful resource for authors and will happily answer any questions I can.

    Andrew Doty is the Editorial Director of the St. Louis Publishers Association, as well as the Editor-in-Chief of punctum books, the owner of Editwright, and a freelance developmental editor and publishing consultant.

  • Monday, January 23, 2017 10:22 PM | Warren Martin (Administrator)
    I recently read a friends Facebook post about selling 3,000 ebooks in one month and achieving a recorded 1,075,000 Kindle Normalized pages read, I had to ask what is the strategy?

    KenFarmer kindly shared the strategy used to market and build an audience:

    EBooks Sold in One Month – 3,000

  • Monday, January 09, 2017 9:30 PM | Linda Austin (Administrator)

    Happy New Year! Hope you have a writing, publishing, or marketing goal to strive for. Jane Friedman gives an overview of the publishing world during 2016. Maybe we're not so surprised...

    Looking back at 2016: Important publishing developments authors should know

    (Nabbed from the latest newsletter from Katherine Pickett, editor and former St. Louisan and SLPA board member)

  • Wednesday, November 16, 2016 1:41 PM | Linda Austin (Administrator)

    November is NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. What you accomplish is a first draft, not a publishable manuscript. Now what?

    Jane Friedman explains what to do after the first draft

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