How to Properly Pack Your Purse for Promotional Possibilities by Tristi Pinkston

… Or, How to Well-stock Your Wallet for Wonderful Writer … stuff.

You never know when you’re going to run into a potential reader. If you keep your eyes open, opportunities are everywhere. Did you see an old neighbor at the grocery store? Did you overhear someone at the library saying they wanted something new to read? Did you see someone wandering the aisles at Barnes and Noble with a lost look on their face? You might not feel the urge to approach a total stranger in a store, but nearly every time you leave the house, you will have the chance to share what you do with someone else. Don’t let that moment pass you by without making the most of it.

Make sure you always, always have business cards or bookmarks in your purse or wallet. And don’t tuck them clear in the back, or let them float around in the bottom where you can’t find them and where they’ll get crumpled. Have a specific place to keep them. Know that you can reach in at any moment and put your hands right on them. Replenish them often – when you see you’re down to five, it’s time to put more in there.

Successful businessmen are always on the lookout for new clients, new opportunities. You should train yourself to be on the lookout for those same things, and you should be prepared with hand-out material. And if you don’t feel comfortable blatantly saying, “Buy my book!” you can use the back of your business card to write down other information that person might need. Do they need the name of the PTA president? Pull out your card, write it on the back, and you’ve not only gotten your information in their hands, but they have the name of the PTA president.

This new mindset—this constant awareness of opportunity—does take a little while to get used to, but soon, you’ll be marketing like a pro.

Read Tristi’s previous guest posts on Promotion:


Tristi Pinkston is the author of seventeen (and counting!) published books, including the Secret Sisters mystery series. In addition to being a prolific author, Tristi also provides a variety of author services, including editing and online writing instruction. You can visit her at or her website at

The GoodReads Giveaway by Shauna Bray/WiDo

Giving away a book can actually increase sales.  And an excellent way to give away and get attention for your soon-to-be-launched book is through Goodreads.

A Goodreads giveaway generates excitement about an upcoming book launch.  Prior to launch, the typical author is blogging, building relationships with other authors, setting up the blog tour, arranging reviews and blanketing social media with reminders about the release date.  The author is definitely excited, but an author needs reader excitement as well.  And what piques the avid reader’s interest more than a brand-new, FREE print novel?  Go where the readers are to dangle that incentive in front of them.  Right now, the gathering place for avid readers is Goodreads.

Goodreads members relish the chance to discover new books and authors, and pass on recommendations to their friends.  These are dedicated readers, the type that post reviews and follow their favorite authors.  Setting up a giveaway of your book allows Goodreads members to discover new books and authors, like you!

Once a book is offered in a giveaway, the number of readers posting it on their “to read” list increases.  Winners generally post a review of the book they’ve won, and more reviews mean a chance to boost an author profile.  And consider that the recent purchase of Goodreads by Amazon could mean reviews and to-read lists are likely to be incorporated into Amazon as well.

A Goodreads giveaway is pure promotion; a book is being exposed to a huge audience of readers. (Click here to see a list of current Giveaways on Goodreads.) In addition, the cost is minimal.  Running a Goodreads giveaway for a few weeks is  equal in exposure to any paid promotion and probably much more effective.

Starseed author Liz Gruder generated more than one thousand “want to reads” for her book when it came out in February.   She said she wouldn’t hesitate to do a giveaway again.  “They gather lots of “want to reads” and exposure for your book, and for free…  I’ve heard of authors griping about winners selling their books on Ebay or Amazon after the giveaway, but really, who cares? Exposure is exposure. What they do with their winnings is their business.”  Liz had a highly successful launch and is still garnering great reviews as a result.

Goodreads provides authors with the tools to make a giveaway easy to set up and even easier to publicize.   Go to this page to find out the guidelines.

To maximize your giveaway’s effectiveness, keep these tips in mind:

  • Schedule your giveaway to run for a month, maybe two.  If you have more than one book coming out, you may want to overlap your giveaways.  This allows an author to have plenty of time to promote and push readers to enter.
  • It takes the Goodreads staff at least two business days to approve your giveaway, so submit your dates well in advance of when you’d like it to start, particularly if it’s during a holiday.
  • Try ending your giveaway midweek, rather than on a weekend.  That way, readers are more likely to see it on the “Ending Today” list.  This creates a sense of urgency that can leads to more entrants.   Remember, also, that the giveaway ends at midnight.  If you want the giveaway to end on Wednesday, put Thursday as the date, so it will end at 12:00 am Thursday.
  • How many copies you want to give out is up to you, but don’t go overboard.  One or two copies are great, but ten copies is overkill.
  • Don’t limit yourself to just a national audience.  The more you open up the contest to people in other countries, the more participants will add your books to their “to-read” list.
  • Mention your giveaway in your blog, social media pages or on your website.  Post the link so that readers can go there automatically.
  • If you mail out your books yourself, make sure you send them immediately.  You don’t want to mar your event with  a complaint that the winner never got the book.
  • Consider adding a personalized note to the reader, along with your autograph inside the cover, thanking them for their interest and expressing hope that he/she will enjoy it and post a review.  A small personal touch can go a long way in turning a giveaway winner into a loyal reader.


About Shauna Bray: Shauna is WiDo Publishing’s marketing director and social media coordinator.  She started her career in television news and through many twists and turns found her way into the publishing world, where she’s happy to be.  Shauna lives in Houston with her very literary husband and two exhausting children.

Pinterest for Authors

It’s been awhile since I, LDS Publisher, have actually written a post here. My day job is consuming me right now, so I do a lot of book posts and have a lot of guest posting. And this post really won’t be much different because I’m supplying some links to other bloggers who have already talked about Pinterest in depth.

But I feel I need to chime in here because a lot of my day-job clients are asking me how they should best use Pinterest to advance their writing career. And I figure if they’re bombarding me with questions, some of you might be interested in this as well.

This is the advice I give to all the authors I work with:

First. Remember that your main job is to write good stories. That is your focus. Protect it with a vengeance! Don’t dilute your writing time with social media, including Pinterest. Set a specific time of the day or week to deal with social media and stick to it. Otherwise, you’re going to get sucked into the great black hole of the Internet and your writing will suffer.

Second. Understand what Pinterest is and what it isn’t. It is NOT a giant ad for your book. It’s a way for readers to get to know you and the things you’re interested in, which should organically lead to interest in your book. Of course, you absolutely should have boards dedicated to your book(s) but that shouldn’t be all there is. Also, Pinterest isn’t the be all/end all of promotion but it can be a valuable support to the other social media and online marketing you’re already doing.

Third. Is it right for you? Only you can determine that. Do not be pushed into another social media mode that you’re not going to keep up with. Nothing is worse than setting up a Pinterest account and adding one or two pins to some of the default boards, and then never doing anything again. If you’re going to do it, do it right. And as with all social media, if you don’t want it spread all across the universe, DON’T pin it.

With that said, here are some links to really good blog posts about how authors can use Pinterest to their advantage:

Want more info? Google “how authors use pinterest” and browse.

Are you already using Pinterest? Leave a link to your boards in the comments and share what you feel are the best tips for authors who are just getting started.

When Shameless Self-Promotion is Shameful by Tristi Pinkston

Last year, I wrote a post about shameless self-promotion. You can read the full thing here, but essentially my point was this: if you have created something, why be ashamed to let others know you did it? Sometimes we are hesitant to say we have a new book coming out or that we’ve started a new business because we don’t want to sound like we’re bragging, but in reality, if we don’t tell others what we’re doing, we are missing the boat in expanding our endeavors.

As people stopped by and left comments, the conversation turned to a discussion of, “Yeah, but what about times when it really is inappropriate to self-promote?” I promised a follow-up post, and at long last, here it is.

Yes, I’m all about taking every opportunity to self-promote, but I’m also going to be the very first to encourage you to choose your moments. Let’s take a look at some completely made-up and over-dramatized examples.

The Right Way:

1. Standing in line at the grocery store, you overhear someone say, “Oh, these awful tabloids. I’m so tired of reading this mindless trash. Why, oh, why can’t I find a book that is intelligently written, reaches my inner core, and makes me think about the world around me in a new and different way?” And you hand her your card.

2. Walking down the aisle at the library, you spot a lady with a wistful, lost expression on her face, and she sighs, “I wonder what I should read next.” And you hand her your card.

3. You are at a class reunion and the person who broke your heart comes up to you and says, “So, what are you up to these days?” After mentally taking note of just how much they have let themselves go since letting you go, you hand them your card.

Seriously, if you are looking for opportunities, they will present themselves to you. Just don’t be afraid to open your mouth when they come along.

Now, let’s take a look at The Wrong Way:

1. Your best friend calls you up on the phone. “I’m getting a divorce,” she says. “Oh, I know how to cheer you up,” you reply. “My new book is on sale at Deseret Book! Go buy a copy. You’ll feel better in no time.”

2. You are walking through Barnes and Noble and you see someone approaching the register with Robison Wells’ new book in their hand. You dive in front of them. “Excuse me, you don’t want that book. You want this one instead,” and you shove a copy of your own book into their hands, then kick Robison Wells’ book under the counter.

3. You are at the reading of Great-Aunt Mildred’s will. Each person there was left the paltry sum of $20.00, and the rest of her vast estate was given to The Brotherhood of the Bunny Rabbits Who Wear Purple Pants. You stand up and say, “Twenty dollars? That’s great! Now you can all afford to buy my book!”

Seriously, there are times when you need to hold back, and obscure religious cults don’t always have to be involved.

Last April, I was given the opportunity to sign at Women’s Conference. My table mate was Tiffany Fletcher, author of Mother Had a SecretRead my review here. It’s a nonfiction memoir of Tiffany’s childhood growing up with a mother who had multiple personalities. As people came by our table and we gave them the rundown of our books, they seemed to need to hear what Tiffany had to say. Many of them had grown up with parents with mental illness, and she was able to bear them her testimony of how the Atonement helped see her through a rough childhood and bring her closer to Christ. Often, they left the table in tears, thanking her for what she’d said. Was I going to interrupt that and try to sell them one of my books? Absolutely not. Those women needed what someone else had to offer. As a result, I sold about five books, and Tiffany sold fifteen—all the store had in stock. Was I disappointed that I didn’t sell more? Of course. But the fifteen people who left that bookstore with Tiffany’s book will be uplifted as they read her testimony, and why on earth would I begrudge that?

I believe in karma, that when we do good, it comes back to us. I believe that when we are patient and wait for the right moment, that moment will come. It’s good to be actively seeking marketing opportunities, but it’s good to be sensitive to the situation and to know when to be quiet. You’ll get another chance later. It’s how the universe works.


Tristi Pinkston is the author of seventeen (and counting!) published books, including the Secret Sisters mystery series. In addition to being a prolific author, Tristi also provides a variety of author services, including editing and online writing instruction. You can visit her at or her website at

How to Get Your Books Into the Public Library by Natalie Giauque

Note: Natalie works for the Salt Lake County Library system and is speaking specifically to that. However, many of her tips will apply to any library system.

Have you ever wondered how to get your books into the Salt Lake County Library system?

Here is all of the information you’ll need, and a few helpful tips.

A little bit about me and what I do:

I’m Natalie and I’m the LDS fiction buyer for the Salt Lake County Library System. The SLCLS system consists of 18 branches across the Salt Lake valley, and I buy books for all of the branches. My job is to buy as much LDS fiction as I can, while keeping within my budget constraints.

Each month I order new titles from Deseret Book, Cedar Fort, Covenant, Brigham Distributing and Walnut Springs Press. So if your book is being distributed through these channels, I’m going to see it and I’m going to purchase it. For those of you who publish independently, things get a bit tricky. There are two websites that I use to find new books, LDS Publisher and LDS Women’s Book Review.  I’ll see a new title coming out, I do a little research and then purchase the title if I feel it will be of interest to my patrons. I have limited funds, so I have to be a bit selective. If you are an author I’m familiar with, I’ll buy more copies. New authors, I’ll pick up a few copies and monitor demand.

Here are some important points if you want me to see and purchase your books:

  • Make sure you have some sort of web presence. Promote your book! This isn’t a time to be modest. With any new author, the first thing I do is Google you. If I can’t find a blog, web page, or a Facebook page, I’m going to think you aren’t interested in promoting your book. If you aren’t interested in your book, why should I be? I can’t tell you how many books I’ve passed by because I couldn’t find any information about the author. Out of date blog? Forget about it. Promote! Promote! Promote!
  • Make sure that you have the title of your book on your webpage, the price, the ISBN, and where I can purchase your book. Make sure all of your links are current! This is really important. If I have to hunt for an ISBN or a price and it takes me too long, I’ll pass on your book. Make it easy for me. I purchase books through Seagull book and through Amazon, so if you get your books into those two vendors, I can buy them.
  • Understand that purchasing books, getting them cataloged and out to patrons takes time. It can take about three months from the time I make a purchase to the time the book is circulating. So please don’t send in purchase requests if you don’t see your book in the library catalog right away. If your book has been out for a few months and it isn’t in the catalog, go ahead and send in a purchase request, as I may have missed your book.
  • Once your book is in the library system, make sure your fans know this. If your books don’t circulate well, they may end up being deleted and when you publish your next book, I won’t buy as many copies, if I buy any.
  • I discourage authors from sending books to me for the library system. If the books don’t get to me, they will end up going for book sale. I prefer that you promote your book where I can find it and I’ll purchase it through my vendors.
  • What about e-books? Many authors are now publishing in this format exclusively. The library system uses OverDrive as an e-book vendor. If you publish independently and want to get your books into our catalog, you need to publish your book through Authorsolutions ( or Smashwords ( Make sure you choose OverDrive as a distribution channel. We’d love to have you in our e-catalog. OverDrive is working with other publishers to get more LDS e-books into our catalog as well.

Questions? Leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer your questions.


Utilizing the Book Blog Reviewer by Karen Jones Gowen, WiDo Publishing

Note: WiDo author, Charity Bradford, did a Guest Post last month on Organizing a Blog Tour. She had some great tips. This month Karen Gowen, author and Managing Editor at Wido Publishing, follows up with more tips on how to find Book Blog Reviewers and establish a relationship with them.

Reviews are key to getting sales for your book, and a valuable resource is book blogs. On my sidebar (click the link to see Karen’s sidebar) is an extensive list, from the super busy who may not have time for you, to the ones just starting out who will be happy to get your request.

My Top Ten Tips on Getting Book Blog Reviews:

1. Start early researching reviewers. Don’t wait until your launch. Look for reviewers in your genre. They will have an About Us page and/or a Guidelines for Requesting Reviews page. Read it carefully to see if they’ll be a good fit for you and your book.

2. Develop a relationship with the ones you pick. Follow their blogs and show up regularly. Comment on their posts. Thank them for their reviews. You yourself will need a blog to effectively implement this important step.

3. Pay attention to how they review a book. Some will copy and paste a Goodreads summary, and then give just a word or two about the book. Sorry, but this is not a review. You are looking for valid book reviewers, not just those willing to make an announcement about your new release. Watch for those who are intelligent, fair, and thorough in their reviews.

Helpful reviews will give highlights of the story, discuss themes, plot and characters, share how the story made them feel, talk about what they liked about it as well as what bothered them. “I don’t like the cover,” is not a review and is not helpful. You don’t want a reviewer who gushes over everything, or one who is too critical– you’re looking for a nice balance

4. Check out the title of their blog. It should be something that will display well with a quote or blurb on your website or your book page on Amazon. Again, check out my sidebar and see how cool some of these blog names are. They legitimize the review, add interest to the blurb.

5. After you have chosen your favorite reviewers and visited their blog so they know who you are and it’s finally time to email your review request to them, be sure to explain why you picked them.  Copy and paste requests are too easily ignored and refused. Make it personal.

6. Be patient but clear. Reviewers get a lot of requests and the good ones are busy. The good ones also read the book all the way through and take their time in writing a thoughtful response. Tell them your release date, give them a deadline if they ask, but let them know you’d still value their review regardless of when they get to it.

7. Don’t get upset if it’s not the 5 star review you had hoped for. Positive blurbs can be gleaned from just about any response. I once asked one of my English professors for a blurb. Her response after reading my ms of Uncut Diamonds, was critical and in the end said she couldn’t recommend it. But she did say that she really loved the dialogue. Cool. We went with that because “I really love the dialogue…” makes a fine blurb.

8. Thank them privately, even if the review was less than you had hoped for. No need to add a thank you comment on your Amazon or Goodreads site. You want to be invisible and not seem like you’re checking out all your reviews and commenting on them. That inhibits potential reviewers. But a private email showing appreciation is appropriate and should be sufficient.

9. Don’t pay for anything. There was a time when paid review sites were popping up everywhere. After the negative press that led to Amazon removing reviews, I wouldn’t think paying for reviews is even considered anymore. I never have done it or recommended it. Why should we pay? There are thousands upon thousands of book review blogs out there, with more popping up every day. They are book-lovers happy to get an ARC in exchange for a review. Do NOT pay for reviews. It’s completely unnecessary and even frowned on in the current climate.

10. Don’t stop now. After the excitement of your launch and those first initial reviews you may think, okay time to write the next book. Which it is, of course. But still continue following book reviewers, add to your repertoire, keep building those valuable relationships. New blurbs and reviews will add to the saleability of your book, even if it’s been out for awhile.


About Karen Jones Gowen: Born and raised in central Illinois, the daughter of a Methodist minister from Indiana and a school teacher from Nebraska, Karen Jones Gowen has down-to-earth Midwestern roots. Karen and her husband Bruce have lived in Utah, Illinois, California and Washington, currently residing near Salt Lake City. They are the parents of ten children. Not surprisingly, family relationships are a recurring theme in Gowen’s writing. She is the managing editor for WiDo Publishing and the author of four books, all of which fit loosely into the category of LDS Fiction. Karen’s website: WiDo Publishing website:

Dealing Positively With Negative Reviews by Michaelbrent Collings

Okay, so, you’re published. Your book is “out there.” It’s “in the world” and “up for grabs.” People can “read it” and “peruse it” at their “leisure” (I like quotation marks).

And at first, things seem all right. Fairly predictable. The book doesn’t become an instant bestseller, but it is selling. Your mom bought it, and your dad bought two copies, and so did that slightly weird person who sits in your closet and mumbles a lot. Or maybe that’s just what happens to me.

Regardless, your work is now on its own. Living, breathing, and (hopefully) being passed from hand to hand by readers who are—slowly but surely—going to become Your People. Your Followers. Your Army.

And then it happens. Among the four- and five-star reviews that have made you feel higher than a kite on meth, suddenly this rears its ugly head on Amazon:


I picked this boock up because of all the good revuews. But I guess the revuews were all dun by, like, the writers’ parents and stuff. Because the book stunk. It stunk a lot. It stunk like a dead skunk that has severe dysintary and then drowns in its own poop. Also, the author is a ca-ca doodie head and probably has lice and kix baby seals and stuff. Dont read this book, it will give you cooties.

– 1 star

You read it. And the questions start. Is my work really that bad? How could this reviewer have so completely missed the point of my book? Where did he learn to spell? What if I do have lice?

And, most urgently… how do I respond?

To that last, I have three little words: Ig. Nore. It.

Okay, maybe that’s four words, I don’t know.  I’m a writer, not an accountant.

Seriously, though, when you get a review like the above, you must simply rejoice within yourself. Why? Because it means your book is being read. It’s getting out into the world, meeting new people, getting beyond the closed circles of your family, friends, and writers groups. It will inevitably meet up with people that hate it—because it’s not their style, because you did an objectively terrible job writing the piece (it does happen), or even for no good reason at all.

And like any good parent, you will have the urge to rush to your “child’s” defense.


There are really only two likely outcomes if you choose to wage war on the review or (even worse) on the reviewer himself.

1)   You try to show the review is “wrong.” The reviewer takes offense and goes to war with you. You now have a dedicated enemy who will attack you at every possible turn, giving you low ratings wherever possible and urging his/her friends and family to avoid your work like a sack of rotten meat. You have just accomplished nothing more nor less than magnifying the effect and range of the viewer’s bile and hatred. Result: you lose.

2)  You try to show the review is wrong. The reviewer takes offense and goes to war with you. You mobilize your friends and followers and fight back. A comment war ensues! You beat back the scummy, evil, poor-spelling reviewer.  He/she is silenced forever. Huzzah! But wait… those comments are there forever. And you look like nothing more nor less than a prima donna bully. This will keep people from buying your books in perpetuity. Result: you lose.

Of the two, the second is gratifying to the author, but far more damaging. I am friends with a great many authors, some of them legitimately Famous People. And occasionally one of them will get their undies in a wad over some disparaging comment made regarding their work and will mobilize their fans to attack. The fans attack. Or some of them. Some don’t. Some become “un” fans, turned off by the author’s childishness. And though maybe Famous People can afford to lose fans, the average author just can’t.

An example: my most recent novel, Darkbound, just came out. It’s a deeply disturbing horror novel about six strangers who get on a subway train that turns out to go everywhere BUT where they want it to. When it was released, a very eminent horror review site called Hellnotes wrote up a stellar review. So did several other review sites. A friend who had received an advance copy sent me a note saying he was… well… less than enamored of it. It was too dark, too violent. Worried, no doubt, about typical author ego, he asked what my response would be if he posted such a review.

My response: “Do it!” People have a right to know others’ thoughts. The fact that this reviewer didn’t like Darkbound as much as he had liked other books I’d written was a bummer. But it didn’t mean the end of the world, and insisting that he love everything about my work, all the time, would be not merely ridiculous, but counterproductive.

The reviews of our work will at times be insightful, helpful, warming. And sometimes it will be shallow tripe that looks like it was probably written in crayon by a five-year-old struggling against some weird form of Tourrette Syndrome. Both are part of being a writer. Don’t respond to either (even the good ones—that can be a bit “stalky” and can also mess with your fan base). If you want to interact with fans, get a Facebook page, a Twitter account, or stand on a box in Hyde Park.

But leave the reviews—and reviewers—alone. Ig. Nore. Them.

It is three words. I counted with my fingers.


Michaelbrent Collings has written numerous bestselling novels, including his latest novel Darkbound. His wife and mommy think he is a can that is chock-full of awesome sauce. Check him out at or


Author & Publicist: It’s Not a 50/50 Relationship by Kelly Martinez, Cedar Fort

One of the biggest misconceptions held by published authors is that once the manuscript and rewrites are finished, so is the author’s job.

Not so! Especially in today’s book market.

One of the points I diligently stress to the authors I work with is that ours is not a 50-50 relationship. If we go with the numbers game, then the breakdown is more like 80-20, with the author on the 80-percent part of the equation.

Unrealized by many authors—and, admittedly, a few of the ones I work with—is the fact that a publisher’s marketing rep is in place to help the author market, not do it for them.

I liken my role as a marketing publicist to that of a counselor: I can guide and offer suggestions of what to do, but ultimately it’s up to the author to sell the book.

We, the marketers at Cedar Fort, have an unofficial slogan we go by: Cedar Fort’s job is to get the books on the shelves and the author’s job is to get them off the shelves!

That said, a marketer’s responsibility is to offer marketing support, which, in my personal experience, comes in the form of keeping the author focused on our common goal of selling books.

From the author’s point of view, this goal can come in the forms of common book-promoting activities, including book signings, launch parties, blog tours, and media interviews.

To further illustrate my point that authors are their own best marketing resource, I’d like to share a personal experience.

I’ve pitched most of my authors to a host of media outlets and have had minimal success in attracting attention. Recently, an author of mine took the bull by the horns and pitched herself to a local TV show. A day or two later, she heard back from the show’s producer and now has a TV interview lined up.

I encourage my authors to do the traditional book-promoting activities—and whatever else comes to mind, no matter how farfetched it might seem.

Authors should never dismiss the power of social media and its ability to reach a large audience of prospective buyers. Facebook, Twitter, and author websites and/or blogs have the potential to meet hundreds, if not thousands, of people for whom the book was written!

It’s not enough to just set an account up on these social networks; the author needs to provide fresh, engaging, and entertaining material on a regular basis for it to work.

In summation, I can’t stress enough the importance that authors abandon the notion that a publisher’s marketing rep will do all the marketing work for them. Most marketing reps juggle multiple authors—in my situation, I’m dealing with upward of 30 authors at a time—so expecting us to devote the time that you would like to marketing your book is unrealistic.

This doesn’t mean we don’t want to devote all of our time to your book; it just means that we simply don’t have the time to do so.

Kelly Martinez is a Marketing Publicist for Cedar Fort, Inc. You can follow Cedar Fort on their blog, and their Facebook page at

E-Books in a Public Library? by Natalie Giauque

I’ve been asked frequently how a writer goes about getting their print books into a library system. If a writer approaches the library, they’re often turned down. Donated books frequently go straight into the library’s bookstore. What’s an author to do?

If you’re published by a large national publisher, they should take care of this for you. If you’re with a smaller, regional publisher, they may or may not have the pull to get your books in. If you’re self-published, it’s nearly impossible.

The best way is to have card-carrying library patrons request the book. If a library gets enough requests, they’ll actively seek out the book.

But what about e-books?

Yes, some libraries have an e-book catalog that allows their patrons to check out e-books. Here’s what Natalie Glauque from the Salt Lake County Library has to say:

Interested in getting your LDS e-books into the Salt Lake County Library System’s E-book OverDrive Catalog? If you are a self-published author and have the rights to your books and would like us to purchase your books, please read the following:

Self-published LDS Authors: OverDrive works with Author Solutions and Smashwords for self-published titles. If authors make their titles available through these platforms, they can be expected to be available via OverDrive.

There is no action needed for Smashwords and Author Solutions. The authors just need to ensure that their distribution partner includes OverDrive as a distribution channel.


Have any of you tried this? Leave a comment and tell us what you think.

What’s the Best Approach to Promoting My Book? by Marsha Ward

So many times, that’s a question I hear from first time authors. Here’s my answer, and you may not like it, but it’s really the truth:

After you have announced your book to your friends via your email contacts, social media sites, and twitter, and have a short “signature” below your name in your email account, the best thing to do in the promotion/marketing arena is to write the next book and get it out there.

Yeah, I know that sounds weird, but I cannot emphasize this enough. Too many people with one book available are spending prodigious amounts of time trying in vain to influence sales, instead of writing the next book.

The thing is, the availability of multiple books/short stories/novellas is what seems to drive sales better than anything. And when someone spends all their time drumming up sales for their ONE book (and thus making a pest of themselves), what’s the good of it if—when someone reads it and wants more—there is no more work available?

There IS no good that can come of that situation. After the reader exhausts their search engine capacities and their patience and doesn’t find anything else by you, your name is then forgotten—once the distastefulness of the frustrating episode fades away.

DO make sure you have a blog that you update on some kind of schedule, if only once a month. Then you have an Internet presence, and you can give periodic updates on your work-in-progress (WIP).

DO make sure you have created your Author Page at Amazon (if your book is for sale there). Set it to post messages from your blog.

DO make sure you have created your Author Page at Goodreads. Set that one to post your blog messages also.

Then, go write the next book.


Marsha Ward was born in Phoenix, Arizona, and currently lives in a pine forest in central Arizona. Marsha is an award-winning poet, freelance writer and editor whose published work includes four novels, two collaborative non-fiction books on writing, a collection of prose and poetry, and over 900 articles, essays, columns, poems and short stories. Her novels, The Man from Shenandoah, Ride to Raton, Trail of Storms, and Spinster’s Folly have received rave reviews from both readers and reviewers. Her website is at, and she regularly blogs about writing and life at “Writer in the Pines,” found at and “The Characters in Marsha’s Head” at Find her on Facebook at

Organizing a Blog Tour by Charity Bradford

We all carry an idea of what our book release will look like inside our vivid imaginations. People will be cheering and falling over each other to get to the pile of books. Our names will be plastered on billboards and all over the internet.

We wish! Sometimes being a new writer is hard only because the reality is so different from that dream in our heads. People don’t automatically know we have a book for sale. Getting the word out can be a lot of work. However, there are some things we can do to make our book release amazing—for us and for our readers.

Blog tours are a great way to start spreading the word. As an added bonus, the more “stops” you have will drive you closer to the top of search engines. Blog tours don’t have to cost a lot of money. In fact, I didn’t spend a dime on mine (not including items for the giveaway on release day), and yet they can be inventive and fun for everyone involved.

Writers and book bloggers are often more than willing to help out with your tour if you give them enough notice. Why? Because it drives new traffic to their sites. Even though it’s a win/win situation, it’s important to remember that they are doing you a favor.

Here’s what I learned while planning my blog tour:

  • Start early. I started 4 months before my release date and managed to grab the last slot on the one blog I REALLY wanted to get on for my genre.
  • Be willing to help others regardless of whether or not they can help you. Remember how your mom used to tell you to be the kind of friend you wanted to find? Yeah, it’s sort of like that.
  • Use the resources that are out there. (See some helpful links below)
  • Be professional. Even though you are working through email instead of face to face, present yourself with confidence. Craft your correspondence with the same care you crafted your queries. Be honest with your expectations. Most importantly, when someone declines, say thank you and move on.
  • Be prepared with ideas for your tour such as guest post topics, games, giveaways, etc. I started with a list of 12 different pre-planned topics.
  • Don’t be afraid of trying something new. Just because you’ve never seen it done, doesn’t mean it won’t be perfect for you and your book.
  • Take some time to create good headers and buttons that draw the reader’s attention and give a feel for your book, or pay someone else to do so.
  • Keep good records of Who, What, When, and Where so you can deliver what you promised and answer questions when someone asks about “the plan.”
  • Work a little every day so you don’t feel overwhelmed. I ended up with 34 tour stops, which is WONDERFUL, but if I had to prepare all of those posts within a month I’d curl up and die. Because I started early, I was able to work on them over two months instead of weeks. Hopefully the posts were better because of that.
  • Be flexible. If someone wants to host you, but they don’t like any of the topics you pre-planned, be willing to write a post that fits their blog and readers. In the end, you’ll be glad you did.
  • Show your gratitude. These people have just become a part of your marketing team. Find a way to thank them sincerely. My favorite way to do this is to return the favor if they have a book coming out or offer a critique if they are still working on that first project. Marketing is as much about building friendships as it is selling books.

Perhaps the greatest thing I’ve learned from this experience is that I can do this. And if I can do it, so can you. Here are the links to sites that I found most helpful while planning my blog tour.

  • There’s a great new site called The Blog Tour Exchange. It pairs you with other writers in your genre so you have a few sites to swap tour dates with. Great jumping off point.
  • Pippa Jay has a huge list of Book Reviewers you can sift through.

Good luck and have fun!

Charity Bradford lives in Northwest Arkansas with her hubby and four children, and firmly believes a smile can solve most problems. The Magic Wakes(WiDo Publishing, 2013) is her first novel. You can read her blog at Charity’s Writing Journey.

11 Things Not to Do Before Your Book Launch

I ran across this article, 11 Things Not to Do Before Your Book Launch by M.J. Rose, last month. I’m not promoting her book because I haven’t read it, but these 11 tips are pretty good. Go read them, then come back here. I’ll wait.

One of the tips that I feel strongly about and regularly expound from a soapbox is this one:

10. Don’t put the “buy the book” links on an inside page of your website where no one can see them or hide them in a corner — it should never take more than 2 seconds for someone to figure out how to buy your book. It is not crass to make it clear how to buy the book that no one has ever heard of before and that you are trying to sell.

I spend a lot of time tracking down fiction by LDS authors for this site and trying to find links to author websites or blogs. When I do finally find a site, often there is NO—as in zip, zilch, nada— information about their book(s) on it!

That just makes my brain stutter.

I know I mention this a lot, but seriously, from the number of authors who are doing this wrong, I need to mention it AGAIN.

Don’t make it so hard to find out about your books!

Put cover images in the sidebar.

Add links to Amazon or Deseret Book or some place where the books can be purchased.

Make a post or a page with a large cover image, backliner text and other information to intrigue your reader, and put a link to it prominently in the sidebar or menu tab!

Seriously, with the ease of ebooks and self-publishing now, it’s a crowded field, and even more important that you do the minimal requirements to let people know that your book exists.


Writing a Great Book Review by Tristi Pinkston

It’s fun to write a book review. It’s fun to share opinions, to hear what others have to say, to find books that we otherwise might not know about, and it’s also a great way to bring traffic to your blog. No matter your reason for writing book reviews (it might even be for school, and not for the Internet at all), these tips should be helpful. (I say “should” because, really, I can hope that they are, but I can’t know for certain.)

I’ve been a media reviewer for about five years now, and I’ve developed a style that works for me. I’ll outline it below, and then you can tweak it to fit your own needs and parameters. It’s all right if you copy it step by step, too—whatever works best for you.

1. After I’ve read the book, I let it sit for a day or two and let it percolate in my brain. I think about the plot, the characters, the things I wondered as I was reading, the questions I felt were left unanswered.

2. When I sit down to write the review, I give a synopsis of the plot in my own words. Yes, you can use the text off the back of the book, but I personally prefer to write one of my own. It presents my interpretation of the book, rather than what someone else wants me to think about the book.

3. After I’ve written the synopsis, I will make a criticism sandwich. That is to say, I share something I liked about the book, something I felt could have been stronger, and then I close with another thing I liked. I rarely just praise without mentioning something I would have improved—I am a critical reader, and so I spot things. That’s just what happens when you work as an editor. You see stuff. I think it’s important that a potential buyer know for certain what they are buying. I also feel that the author can grow and strengthen their talents as they hear what they might have done better. But I also feel that writing in and of itself is a huge accomplishment, and I don’t ever want the author to feel slammed or harshly criticized. If I can’t be helpful, constructive, and edifying, then *I shouldn’t be critiquing. Simple as that.

4. And that moves us on to my fourth point. I try hard to keep my comments helpful and edifying. If I totally hate a book and can’t find anything good to say about it, I will contact the author or the publicist—whoever sent it to me—and I will explain to them that the book didn’t quite fit me, and that I’d like to pass it on to another reviewer. This is the most fair way for me to handle it—I don’t believe in ripping people up, but instead, I believe in allowing them to learn and grow from their experiences.

5. I always like to talk about how the book made me feel or the things it made me think about. That’s what makes the review unique to me. Anyone can post the text from the back of the book, but it’s hearing what the reviewer felt while they were reading that will sell the book.

6. I always, always include a purchase link to the book. The book review should tell about the book, it should tell how I feel about the book, and it should give my reader a way to buy the book when they are done reading my review.

In a nutshell, those are my tips for writing a great book review. Some reviewers like to include the author’s bio, or interview questions with the author, or book club-style questions. All of that is great. The main thing I can offer is this—be yourself and share how the book impacted you. When you do that, you will rarely go wrong.

*I do want to make one clarifying statement—there are some book reviewers who do like to mention all the negatives and things they didn’t like, and I’m not saying they shouldn’t do that. It’s their choice. I’m explaining what works for me, and every reviewer will have their own philosophy and their own take on what makes a review great.


Note from LDSP: Book reviews can make or break a book. Honesty is vital, and so is civility. I like Tristi’s take on this. Also, if you’re reviewing a book on your blog as part of a virtual book tour, or just for fun, it only takes a couple of extra minutes to post that same review on Amazon and GoodReads. Authors and publishers appreciate it!


Tristi Pinkston is the author of seventeen (and counting!) published books, including the Secret Sisters mystery series. In addition to being a prolific author, Tristi also provides a variety of author services, including editing and online writing instruction. You can visit her at or her website at

Dealing With Negative Reviews by Whitney Boyd

As an LDS author, my purpose in writing was to create a clean, fun, flirty chick lit book that would appeal to both LDS and non-LDS audiences. I wanted my books to be realistic to life, but not to have excessive bad language, explicit sex scenes or  anything too crude or vulgar. At the same time, I knew it couldn’t be a book that was all butterflies and roses. Life, even an LDS life, does not have people walking around saying “darn” and smiling in every situation. So, I wrote my books. I made them as clean as I could, but still realistic. Words like “crap” and “freaking” are words that I occasionally use and do not find offensive. Basically I kept everything PG according to my temple-recommend-holding-returned-missionary-living-in-the-real-world moral code.

Then the reviews started coming. There are three types of reviews, for those who aren’t familiar with it. The majority were super positive (which I love!). There were a few super negative (which make me cry. Seriously), and then here and there a couple of the blah in between reviews where they say “It was a good book, but meh.”  Now, here’s where this gets interesting. The negative reviews I received were written by both LDS and non-LDS people. The LDS people expected the book to be more LDS and “Molly Mormon”. They didn’t like the border-line crude language in parts, nor the implication that one of the secondary characters in my Hollywood novel was gay.  They felt that I, as an LDS writer, should have made the main character 100% LDS in every word and thought. On the other hand, the non-LDS commentors wanted the book to be more “Fifty Shades of Grey”. They wanted the characters to do more than just kiss. They wanted a book like hundreds of other romance novels out there.

I read these reviews and felt conflicted. Was I right in my purpose?  I wrote a clean, fun, flirty book that a lot of members and non-members love. But why then were there a few people that strongly disliked it?

It took a little while, but finally I had an epiphany… I cannot please everyone. Simple. As much as I want to be the most beloved author in the world, that is impossible. Even authors who have sold millions of copies of their novels, like Stephenie Meyers, Sophie Kinsella or J.K Rowling, have received negative reviews. I know a lot of LDS people who refuse to read the “Twilight” books because they don’t adhere to church standards. Then there are even more LDS people who love the books and the movies and think they are great.

So what’s the moral of this story? Write your book. Figure out who you want your audience to be. And then be proud. You created something that nobody else could have created! As President Roosevelt said, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

Whitney Boyd, author of TANNED, TONED AND TOTALLY FAKING IT and soon to be released ICED ROMANCE. You can read her blog at

A Snowball’s Chance in Marketing by Michaelbrent Collings

I recently received an email from someone on my “official Michaelbrent Collings Facebook Fan Page” (which is still kinda weird to have, truth be known), asking in essence what he could do to sell his books to more than just his close personal friends and family… and promising me a kiss on the lips if I could help him out.

Now, first of all, please let me be clear: if you know a famous author, or a successful author, or even a semi-famous or semi-successful author, this is generally not the way to get help.  It is considered “solicitation” in a lot of cases and is illegal in many states.  However, because he and I have had a lot of previous interaction and he buys all my books and seems nice and has never (as yet) tried to make a lampshade out of my face-skin, I answered.  And I thought the answer might be germane to others who have gotten over that huge first hurdle of getting a book published, but now face the surprisingly bigger hurdle of actually trying to sell the durn-dang-darn thing!

Rest easy.  It never gets easy.  I’m one of Amazon’s bestselling horror writers, nearly every book I write hits one of their major bestsellers lists and most of them stay there… and I still have to spend about 40% of my time doing PR work and getting the word out.  So it’s always going to be a job, folks.  But… well… here’s what I told my fan:

If you ever want to dissuade someone from helping you, promise them a kiss on the lips.

Seriously, the thing of it is that there’s no easy answer. It’s like rolling a snowball down a mountain, I suppose. The bad news is that at first… you have a snowball and it’s tiny and it rolls really freakin’ slow and you’re going to be coaxing it along every step of the way. Telling people you know about your book at parties, random gatherings, funerals. Telling people you DON’T know about it at bus stops, waiting in line at the supermarket, funerals. Carrying around business cards with your website on it. A great tactic I like to use is engaging people in conversation and then saying slyly, “So what kind of books do you like to read?” after they say anything I can use to segue into that. Like a statement about their baby, or the weather, or the fact that they hate reading. You basically have to hear everything as an invitation to talk about your writing.

This does not get you invited to the cool parties.

The bad news is, at the end of the day you still have to push that freakin’ snowball along constantly. The GOOD news is… the bigger it gets, the more surface area it has. And that means that eventually it will start picking up snow at a faster rate. Hopefully.

Again, there’s no easy answer. Talk to people you don’t know. Google book review sites, looking for folks that might be interested in reviewing your novel and offer to send them a free e-copy. Google podcasts and internet radio stations that might want to talk to authors of books like yours and send them your SHORT (like, three sentence) bio and offer to chat with them at their convenience. Push that snowball.

Patience. Work. Tenacity.


Now, again, this is not the fistful of flowers and sunshine that most people want to get when they ask about selling their books.  But the reality is that the hardest work starts when you type “The End” and turn off the computer.  The difference between a great author and a successful one is that the successful one knows how to get out and sell, to work the system and network and make contacts.  Anyone can do it, I think, but precious few people really want to.

Be one of the ones that does.


Michaelbrent Collings has written numerous bestselling novels, including his latest YA fantasy Billy: Seeker of Powers.  His wife and mommy think he is a can that is chock-full of awesome sauce.  Check him out at or

Zombies? Oh, My!

I get really interesting emails here at LDS Publisher. Most of the time they are spam and I just delete them—but every so often, I just have to share. Like this one:

Hi there!

I stopped by earlier today and noticed you tend to write about zombies from time to time.  Because of that, I thought it might be worth it to share an article with you published by [redacted] with detailed information on how to prepare a barn or garage for the zombie apocalypse…

It goes on from there and includes a link to their website that features a company that builds barns and storage sheds.  I did a search on my site for “zombie” and really, there’s not much there. And none of them are me writing about zombies.


This is clever. They got me to click their link.

So what does this have to do with writing? When you’re brainstorming about marketing and promo material for your book, be clever. Tie your book into something that captures the interest of bloggers or other readers. Not necessarily zombies (although that always gets my attention) but anything that’s currently in the public eye.

What are some tie-ins that you seen or used that were a clever way to get some extra attention for a book? Tell us in the comments the title of the book and the tie-in.

3 Things Authors Should Know about Publicity by Josh Johnson from Cedar Fort

First-time authors often think the biggest part of their work is done when they put the finishing touches on their manuscript with their editor and send it off to the printer. However, they don’t always recognize that they, as the authors, can promote their book and interact with fans and readers—in person and online—after their book comes out.

Here are a few quick things that we wish all new authors would learn about publishing and promotion.

1) The future is online, and the future is now.

For the last decade, media and bloggers have been emphasizing the importance of digital promotion and talked about how the Internet would revolutionize the way that people consume news, information and content. But guess what?  The future they have been predicting for years has already arrived. Yahoo News already has a greater readership than the New York Times!

Authors that want to promote their work and realize their potential need to be engaged with their fans online. Whether that means a blog or website, or even just social media fan pages like Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, engagement online is key.

2) And I should care…why?

Author engagement in any shape or form is really essential to helping a book do well.  Establishing relationships with readers will keep them coming back for more and help spread the word to more readers. Authors really are the ones who will promote their book better than anyone else could.

There have been barrels of ink spilled about the importance of self promotion online, some worth reading and some not, but one thing authors need to know more than any other advice is how they’re going to present themselves as well as the what.

When doing interviews, guest posts on blogs, pitches to media, and even just talking to fans during a signing, authors need to keep in mind a single key message: “What am I telling my listeners, and why should they care?”

This key message should be their mantra. They know their audience more than anyone. What are they telling their readers that is unique about themselves and their work, and why should they, as readers, care?  It’s best to follow this message up with what fans should do about the message (buy their book), but that’s secondary.

3) Content rules all online.

When authors are promoting and engaging with fans, it’s important to be frequent in communication. That doesn’t mean there has to be a new masterwork post or update every five minutes, but they should be posting regularly enough, with enough original content, to keep their fans and audiences aware of their material online, and wanting to learn more about them. Authors can get creative with how they engage, but they should try to be original.

That’s it! Stick to these basics and authors will go a long way with online promotion. And just think, by being online at all, they are beating an awful lot of folks who still think that the digital future is tomorrow, when it’s actually today.


Josh Johnson works at Cedar Fort as a Marketing Publicist and Public Relations Author Representative. Cedar Fort, Inc. is a book publisher in Utah. We publish fiction, nonfiction, you name it. We love new authors. See our site for guidelines & new titles. You can also visit Cedar Fort at www.cedarfortbooks, Facebook, or Twitter.

Pen Names Anyone? by Rebecca Talley

LDSP Note: I can’t believe I forgot to post Rebecca’s guest blog last week! Soooo sorry. And it’s a good one too. Enjoy!

There seems to be two camps on pen names. Those who think an author should use his/her real name no matter what he/she writes and the other camp that believes when an author switches genres, he/she should have a different name distinguishing each genre.

I’ve published three novels for the LDS market. My current book is a young adult urban fantasy targeted at the national market. It has no LDS content or characters so I’m wondering if I should publish it under a pen name.

I’ve spent years trying to develop an online presence with my blog and website. I’ve made a lot of Facebook friends and have Twitter followers. It boggles my mind to think about replicating that with a whole new persona. And then trying to keep up with both “people” with my social networks—makes me exhausted just thinking about it.

On the other hand, would a reader who expected an LDS novel from me be upset with a book that’s about a teenage girl who fights demons?

Other authors have used pen names. Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb, J.K. Rowling, Sierra St. James/C.J. Hill/Janette Rallison, Jeff Savage/J. Scott Savage, to name a few. They’ve all been successful with their pen names and it doesn’t seem to be an issue that people know these authors use pen names.

It makes sense to separate different genres under different author names. Readers would then know that even if this is the same author, books written under one name will be thrillers, while under a different name the books will be romantic comedies.

When I first started writing, the advice was to stick with one genre (thus removing the reason for needing a pen name) and build up a readership in that genre. (As an aside, I’ve noticed in my experience that while LDS fiction may be a genre, there are many sub-genres within it, and romance seems to be very popular). That advice is great, IF you want to keep writing in one genre. For me, I have to write the story that’s burning inside me. If all my stories were romance, that’d be one thing, but so far that hasn’t been true. Forcing myself to write another romance to build up my readership in that genre (since it’s very popular) would take the joy out of writing. Since I have the attention span of a three-year-old (which is why I teach the Sunbeams), I have to write what is inside my head trying to claw its way out.

So, what do you think? Should authors who write different genres use pen names for each genre?


Rebecca Talley grew up in Santa Barbara, CA. She now lives in rural CO on a small ranch with a dog, a spoiled horse, too many cats, and a herd of goats. She and her husband, Del, are the proud parents of ten multi-talented and wildly-creative children. Rebecca is the author of a children’s picture book “Grasshopper Pie” (WindRiver 2003), three novels, “Heaven Scent” (CFI 2008), “Altared Plans” (CFI 2009), and “The Upside of Down” (CFI 2011), and numerous magazine stories and articles. You can visit her blog at

Change is Good! by Tristi Pinkston

*Tristi wrote this article in 2006. Those of you who know her realize that she decided to practice what she preached. In LDS Publisher’s opinion, Tristi is a great example of balancing humility and self-promotion.

As I was growing up, I would often overhear comments that went something like this:

“I knew her before she became famous. But then she changed.”

“You know, Gladys has really changed since she lost all that weight.”

The word “changed” was always said with the same vocal intonation you would use to say “foot fungus” or “halitosis.” Change was obviously bad and no one should ever do it. That was the message I received.

My first book was published in 2002, and at that time, I made a decision. I was not going to change. I would never give anyone reason to say, “I knew Tristi before she was published, but now she’s changed.” Consequently, I don’t often talk about my writing. I never bring it up at church activities and I hardly ever take the opportunity to share what I’m doing with others. Friends and family sometimes ask what my latest project is, and I’ll tell them, but for the most part I don’t volunteer the information. I don’t want people to think I’ve changed.

It’s different in the writing community. Everyone has the same goal, even though we’re approaching it different ways, and we get each other. I can talk more freely here than I can in my regular, every day life.

But tonight, I’ve been having some deep thoughts. I want to pass them on to you here, and I would love to hear some of your deep thoughts, as well.

1. Didn’t we come here to this earth for the purpose of learning and growing? And when we learn and grow, doesn’t that mean that we are changing from what we are now into what we can become? That would make change good, not bad. Why do people say “change” like they think it’s the worst thing that could ever happen to a person?

2. Since we are here to learn and grow, and our earth life is of a limited duration, wouldn’t that mean that we need to be working on ourselves right now, all the time? If you knew you only had five years to accomplish everything you ever wanted to accomplish, you’d get right to work. None of us knows how long we have. If we waste our time, putting off our goals and dreams for one reason or another, we may not have time to do it later.

3. And, since we’re here to learn and grow, and we have limited time, wouldn’t that mean that we should be selective about how we spend our time? I think we should carefully choose those things we do, so that we are learning and growing while we’re doing them. If you’re not going to grow from doing it, then why do it?

I think about all the chances to share what I love to do that I missed out on because I was afraid someone would accuse me of “changing.” Granted, I’m not going to get up and bear my testimony in church and plug my latest book. But how many times have I downplayed my accomplishments, or even criticized myself, all because I didn’t want someone to think I’d gotten a big head? How many times have I confused humility with self-doubt? How many times have I upset the balance between pride and genuinely deserved self esteem? And how often have I beaten myself up about it?

There is nothing wrong with taking satisfaction from what you do. When someone asks you what you do for a living, do you feel ashamed when you say “plumber” or “accountant” or “computer programmer?” You may not have the career you currently want, but you don’t generally hide what you do because you’re worried what people will think. (Unless you’re doing something illegal, which I seriously doubt you are.) Why hide your writing? Or if you dance, why hide your dancing? Why do we feel ashamed of our talents?

In all honesty, despite my efforts to “keep from changing,” there are those who have had difficulty accepting my published status. I took that far too much to heart at first. But with these deep thoughts, I’m realizing that it’s okay that I’ve changed. Why do it if it’s not going to change me? I don’t want to be the same person forever. I want to learn and grow and overcome and conquer, and I can’t do that if I am always exactly the same.

So as you write and become published, or achieve another goal you’ve had, don’t listen to those people who will criticize you for changing. If you have changed, you are on the natural path of life, achieving some of the things that God sent you down here to achieve. Just make sure that you’re changing for the better.

Tristi Pinkston is the author of nine published books, including the Secret Sisters mystery series. In addition to being a prolific author, Tristi also provides a variety of author services, including editing and online writing instruction. You can visit her at or her website at

Virtual Book Tours—Becoming the Perfect Host by Tristi Pinkston

Over the course of the last few years, I’ve set up several virtual book tours for authors who are seeking to expand their publicity on the Internet. The concept of virtual touring is fairly new in our market. Publishers or authors send out copies of their books to bloggers who have agreed to read and review those books on a certain date, and then the links are gathered up and posted at a single location. People who want to read the reviews can follow along with the tour and get a good sampling of opinions from several different sources.

I’m frequently asked by bloggers what they can do to make their sites more attractive to the book-buying reader, and how they can increase the likelihood that they will be chosen to host book tours. I’ve put together a few thoughts.

1. Make your blog more visible. The more visible your blog, the more useful it is on a virtual book tour. The purpose of the tour is to expose the name of the book to as many people as possible, but if you only have five followers and you only get ten hits a week, that doesn’t propel the book forward in a meaningful way. You should work to increase your following. One of the easiest ways I’ve found to do this is to visit other blogs and leave friendly comments. The blogger you visit will most likely return your visit, and if they like what they see on your blog, they are likely to come back. (More on this in under Item #2.) In addition, readers who follow that blog will see your name, become curious as to who you are, and follow you back to your blog. Going blog-hopping, as I call it, isn’t just a good way to spread the word about your blog, but it’s a great way to make new friends. I have several good friends I met through blogging that I know in no other way. I was just hopping around one day, ran into them, we hit it off, and have been friends ever since.

One quick note about leaving comments on other blogs. Don’t leave comments like, “Hi, come visit my blog.” That’s not showing respect for the other blogger. You want them to visit you because you have said something of value. You’re not looking for addresses for a mass-mailing—you’re looking for bloggers with interests similar to yours. Be respectful of their time and their blog. That is the basis of a good blog relationship.

2. Make Your Blog Interesting. This sounds like a no-brainer, but your blog needs to be interesting. Blog about several different topics, or, if you specialize, blog about several different aspects of your chosen topic. Include interesting links. Post visually interesting pictures. Perhaps most importantly, post regularly. If you only post once a month, you’re not keeping up the momentum you need in order to create and maintain traffic.

The more you comment and the more you blog, the more visible you become on the Internet. Your name will climb higher on the search engine lists, and that in turn will bring you more readers. It’s like a snowball rolling down the mountain, growing larger as it goes.

3. Make Yourself Accessible. When you set up your blog, make sure that your e-mail address is visible to your readers, and also that when someone clicks on your comment, your blog information comes up. I’ve had several interesting comments left on my blog and I’ve wanted to go see who left them and pay them a return visit, but their profiles are blocked and I can’t. I know that sometimes, people keep that information to themselves out of concern for their privacy, but you can set up your blog with an e-mail address created just for that purpose, and you can set up your profile to be vague as to your location, etc. But it’s crucial that people be able to find you and communicate with you if you’re interested in being a book tour host.

4. Provide Good Reviews. I don’t mean that all your reviews need to be glowing. When I say “good reviews,” I mean, be thoughtful in your evaluation. Give your readers more than just, “I liked this book a lot.” Explain why you liked it and how it made you feel. If there were parts of the book that didn’t work for you, explain why. A good book reviewer shares all their opinions, positive and negative. However, a good book reviewer will phrase their objections constructively. Rather than saying, “This author should be shot before being allowed to publish another book,” say, “The dialogue was poorly constructed and I would have liked to see more character development.” Constructive criticism goes a long way toward helping the author learn and grow. Raking them over the coals doesn’t help anyone—it just makes you look like a big meany. And, if the book is so terrible that you can’t even think of a polite way to state your objections, there is no harm in contacting the publisher or author and explaining that you’d rather pass on the review.

In summary, as you increase your name recognition and bring more readers to your blog, as you provide interesting content overall and make a special commitment to writing good book reviews, you make yourself a perfect host for virtual book tours.

After several years as a professional virtual book tour coordinator, Tristi has retired, but she’s sharing all her secrets with you in her new book, Virtual Book Tours: Harnessing the Power of the Internet.


Tristi Pinkston is the author of nine published books, including the Secret Sisters mystery series. In addition to being a prolific author, Tristi also provides a variety of author services, including editing and online writing instruction. You can visit her at or her website at

Is an ebook only publishing offer worth it?

Hi LDS Publisher!

A smaller, but quickly growing, publisher has very recently offered to publish my book (yay!). Because I am a new author, they want to publish it first as an e-book. If the book sells, then they would publish the book more traditionally. Is this a new trend in publishing? What are your thoughts?


I’ve seen this popping up more often. From a publisher’s standpoint, it’s a very safe offer to make. It limits the financial risk significantly. They don’t have to come up with the cash to invest in a full print run, the cost of warehousing and shipping the books, nor take the chance that they’ll end up with a stack of books they can’t sell and a loss in their profit margin. Too many wrong guesses and a small press is out of business.

From the author’s perspective, it’s not such a good deal. Yes, more and more consumers are using e-readers, but there’s still a large group of readers who want tangible print books. Your sales are limited right there. Also, the lower the financial risk to the publisher, the greater the temptation to give up if initial marketing tactics don’t work. Kind of the “cut your losses” mentality.

Here’s a checklist I’d go through with the publisher before signing:

    • What resources SPECIFICALLY are they going to put into creating your ebook?


    • Will it get a close edit?


    • Are they going to design a good cover that will help sell the book?


    • How will the book be coded? Are they just going to take your Word file and run it through an autocoder? (You can do that yourself.) Or will they actually take the time to have someone look at the code and clean it up?


    • What are their marketing plans?


    • How will they let the consumer know the book exists?


    • Will they set up a virtual tour for you?


    • Do they use the various social medias to spread the word?


    • Do they have a customer base they send emails to?


In my opinion, it’s better to stay unpublished than to have an unedited or poorly marketed book just sitting out there and languishing in cyberspace.

Another thought: If a publisher is going to assign resources to do a good edit, create a cover that will sell, and then typeset it enough to make a clean ebook, then they’re 90% of the way there for a print edition as well. They might as well do the little extra it takes and create a print version using CreateSpace (Amazon’s print on demand service) and at least have that available to online customers.

Readers, what do you think?

Almost Everything You Need to Know about Virtual Book Tours by Tristi Pinkston

Of all the questions I am asked regarding marketing, the first and foremost is: “How do I set up a virtual book tour?” (Well, generally the very first question is, “What the heck is a virtual book tour?”) I decided to take a couple of minutes to answer those questions today.

When you go on a virtual book tour, you have essentially arranged for several different blogs and websites to feature you in some way. They might do a book review, they might interview you, they might just talk about you – but they all do it to help you promote yourself and your book. It’s like going on a book tour from the privacy of your own home, hence the name, “virtual book tour.”

VBTs can help you in many ways.

1. They can help you become more familiar to the hosts of the sites you visit.

2. They can make your name more recognizable to the buying public.

3. They can garner you reviews on your book that otherwise might be difficult to get.

4. The more times your name appears on the Internet, the more special you look. And special = sales.

5. They can drive more traffic back to your blog and your website, helping the reader learn more about you = sales.

So, how to go about setting up a VBT?

A. Talk to your publisher and find out how many review copies of your book they are willing to send out. Some publishers will give a stack of books to the author to mail out themselves, some publishers mail the books for you, and some publishers will give a discount on copies for the author to purchase and then mail out. In fact, some publishers won’t assist in this at all … but we won’t focus on that. Talk to your publisher and find out their rules.

B. Now that you know how many books you can send out, you need to find the right reviewers for you. Go to Google and type in blogs and then your search term. If your books is about shopping malls in the Amazon, put in blogs Amazon shopping malls. Up will come a list of blogs that talk about your topic. Or put in blogs book reviews. Of course you can customize your search in any way you like. Once the list comes up, click on each link and find those blogs that seem to be the best fit for what you’re looking for. Leave a comment to establish a good relationship, and then look for a contact link or the profile link, which will lead you to a way to contact. Politely ask the blogger if they would be interested in hosting your tour, offer them a free book, and thank them for your time. You do not have to pay the blogger for the review – the free copy is their thank-you gift.

C. When the blogger replies to you, establish with them the date upon which their review will appear. You want to spread out your reviews so that the fervor you create will be sustainable – if you schedule them all for the same day, you’ll make a big splash but it will peter out quickly. You should schedule your tour far enough into the future that your publisher has time to mail out the books and the reviewer has time to read their copy. If your book will be in the warehouse on April 1st, schedule your tour for the middle of May.

D. Five days before a review is set to appear, e-mail that blogger and remind them (again politely) and then pop them a note the night before. When their review appears, copy the link and post it on your own blog or website, and invite all your readers to go take a look at it. You can then send your publisher a list of links, and they can link from their website to the review.

These are the basic steps to setting up a blog tour. You can make this as simple or as complicated as you like. I recently did a huge contest in connection with my book release, as did Annette Lyon. Some authors choose to send out books and let them speak for themselves with very little additional hoopla. What you do is up to you. But the Internet is the way many people are doing their shopping these days, and if we take the time to learn how to use it for marketing, we’ll be riding the wave of the future.

After several years as a professional virtual book tour coordinator, Tristi has retired, but she’s sharing all her secrets with you in her new book, Virtual Book Tours: Harnessing the Power of the Internet.


Tristi Pinkston is the author of nine published books, including the Secret Sisters mystery series. In addition to being a prolific author, Tristi also provides a variety of author services, including editing and online writing instruction. You can visit her at or her website at

What to Wear to the Whitney Gala???

I’m at the LDStorymaker’s Conference today and having a lot of fun spying on people incognito. But I have a troubling problem.

What do I wear to the Whitney Gala tomorrow night?

It’s so hard to know. You simply can’t be caught underdressed. That is unforgivable. But on the other hand, you really don’t want to show everyone else up. Then they’ll just hate you.

I have to make my final decision soon, and I’ve narrowed it down to three. Tell me what you think.

Option #1: Pink with Fur Stole

I like this one, but not the headpiece. Instead, I’d wear this hat:

A dear friend modeling my hat

The downside to this outfit is that fur might be a little too warm for the evening.



Option #2: Black Dot Dress

 I’m lukewarm on this dress, but I absolutely adore the shoe I’d wear with it:

Awesome shoe to wear with Black Dot dress



Option #3: Pink, Aqua, Blue Dress

This is my favorite of all the dresses. Of course, I’d wear a modest pink net shawl with it so my shoulders wouldn’t show.

Pink shoe for option #3

And this is the shoe that goes with it. I like it, but not as much as the shoe that goes with Option #2.

So what do you think? Vote in the comments.

LDSP at Last Year’s Whitney Awards

Following the LDStorymakers Conference, there will be the annual Whitney Awards presentation. This is a red-carpet event and everyone dresses up in their finest.

Here are a few photos of me from last year’s Whitney Awards Gala.

Annette Lyon, winner for Best General Fiction, and Me


Me with that slightly popular sci-fi/fantasy writer, Brandon Sanderson. He won for Best Speculative Fiction, and tied for Best Novel of the Year.


Me, Jeff Savage (awesome Middle Grade Fantasy writer), and Stephanie Black, winner for Best Mystery/Suspense


Julie Wright, winner for Best Romance, and Me


Me and Stephanie Black, winner for Best Mystery Suspense (we took another photo because Jeff was blocking my award...)


Marion Jenson, Robison Wells, Erin, and Me—having a group hug


The women from LDSWBR—Mindy Holt, Me, Sheila Staley, and Shandra Cottam


(All photos stolen with permission from Stephanie Black at