Quick Link: How to Write a (Romance) Blurb by Rosalind James

Quick links, bringing you great articles on writing from all over the web.

Your book blurb is one of the best tools you have in marketing your book. You have gotten the potential reader interested enough to come look a little more at your title. This is where you can make a big impact on sales. While Rosalind James is writing specifically about Romance blurbs, the tips she provides at Romance University works for everyone. Also, as someone that prepares an ebook newsletter please please please start your blurb with a two to three sentence paragraph the captures the essence of your book. Then go deeper. Not only are you helping people like me who want to present your book in the best light possible, but you also give a good description for people who like your story to tell their friends. It puts you in control of your marketing message!

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How to Write a (Romance) Blurb by Rosalind James

by Rosalind James

Welcome Rosalind James in her first blog post for RU – and it’s a doozy! =)

As some folks know, I spent my misguided youth—all right, all right, my misguided middle age—as a copywriter. Which means that writing blurbs for my books was a piece of cake, right?

Wrong. I had to learn how to do it, because writing one type of copy isn’t the same as writing another. But maybe it was a little easier and less scary to learn. So, OK, here are my tips for Writing Your Kickass Romance Blurb.

Look at other blurbs. (You thought this was going to be some technical post, huh?) I learned to do it by going to the library and pulling down books in my genre from the paperback rack. Somehow, it was much easier to spot trends and pick out blurbs I liked from physical books. I read and took notes for an hour. I noticed what I hated as well as what I liked. Which blurbs made ME want to read the book? Because I write the kinds of books that I like to read. After I did my research, I came home, and . . .

Read the full post on Romance University

Quick Links: Where Do Consumers Get Their e-Books From?

Quick links, bringing you great articles on writing from all over the web.

Ever wonder what the breakdown of e-book purchases looked like?  While not a comprehensive sample,

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Where Do Consumers Get Their e-Books From?

buy nowThere are many places where readers can find and download e-books. There are a number of online retailers such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Kobo that sell them directly.  Your local library likely has a robust digital collection or sometimes piracy is just a click away. Good e-Reader has been running a poll for the past three weeks where we asked the question “where do you get your e-books from?” Over 827 people responded and we now have some fairly comprehensive data.

Unsurprisingly Amazon was the most popular digital ecosystem that people get their e-books from. Over 258 people, which represented 29% of the vote regularly purchased all of their e-books from Amazon.

Amazon releases new e-readers and Fire tablets every year, so their hardware has a high rate of adoption. Not everyone upgrades their device to the latest and greatest, some continue to use older devices, while others use the Kindle app on their smartphone or tablet.


Quick Link: Surviving Submissions: Donning Your Chain Mail

Quick links, bringing you great articles on writing from all over the web.

I know that no one likes rejection, but some people bounce back from it better than others.  I don’t. I am one of those horrible people who wants everyone to like them, although I am trying to grow out of this. has a great post on dealing with submission rejection.  The post goes beyond the whole “X number of famous people got rejected so you should feel fine” fluff and gives some really good points. Head on over to Writer Unboxed and check it out. If you feel like it, leave a comment on your best tip for dealing with rejection, I promise not to judge.

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Surviving Submissions: Donning Your Chain Mail

Crusader Knight With Sword Front Crestby

In the late 1990s, I wrote a short story—my first ever—and submitted it to The New Yorker. It was a really amazing piece of fiction, one that reflected dozens of minutes of toil and revision. I do not remember the plot (which suggests there was none) except for one detail: the female character sits on a therapist’s couch, and, wrapped in a blanket like a burrito, floats into the air and–poof!–vanishes.

I am certain this 7,000-word work of art was roughly 7,000 words too long.

More than fifteen years later, I see how many things were wrong with that experience. First, the piece was a piece of garbage. I did not know how to write a story, and I had no one guiding me through the process. I should have sought advice from someone, if not another writer, than at least a friendly barista or the wine guy with the radio voice at the Safeway where I buy cheap Riesling.

Wrong thing #2: I had the gall to submit to The New Yorker. Sure, I had read The New Yorker, usually while waiting for my dental appointments, usually looking at the pretty cover or the cartoons because the stories were, well, a little uppity in my opinion. Perhaps I thought that the inclusion of my story would endear me to the other works of fiction. But certainly, even if my story had been an actual work of art, I was not familiar enough with the publication to know whether it would be a good fit.

These days I am a better writer with a better understanding of story structure, and yes, I carry around suitcases of humility. I have given up trying to like The New Yorker’s fiction and instead peruse People while waiting for my dental checkups. And when I submit an essay or a story, a grant proposal or retreat application, I do so in a much smarter way.

Read the full post on Writer Unboxed

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If you liked this article, please share. If you have suggestions for further articles, articles you would like to submit, or just general comments, please contact me at paula@publetariat.com or leave a message below.

Categories, keywords, Amazon, and you. How to get the most out of your choices.

Site searchPart of uploading your title to the Amazon marketplace includes filling out a lot of “metadata”, you know, all that information you have to input into the fields for Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) to accept your book.  Each bit of information can help get your title in front of viewers and boost sales. So it is important to make careful choices. Today we will focus on Categories and Keywords.

Readers use categories and keywords to find new books. The goal is to figure out what your ideal reader will do to search for new titles. This might seem like an easy task at first, because your book might be clearly romance, science fiction, or some other genre. By doing a little research and tweaking your choices, you will be able to get your book in front of more people and improve your ranking.

This doesn’t mean you should go for keywords or categories that don’t match your story in an effort to boost your ranking. People will complain and Amazon takes this very seriously. You can get blacklisted. Carefully matching your keywords and categories to your story allows you to get your story in front of an audience who is most likely to appreciate your work and become true fans. Everyone wins!


Amazon Categories

Categories are basically the genre of your book. Amazon allows you to have two categories, which you should take advantage of.  For your research, start off by going to Amazon Kindle Books, and on the left hand side you will see a list of categories.

Select the one that you think matches your book closely. For example let’s select the “romance” category. Now you will find two good pieces of information. At the top left side you will see “Popular Romance Categories”. Continue down and you will see that the original category of “romance” has expanded to many subcategories.

Explore the different subcategories. Again you are looking for the best fit. So if your hot new romance is about two military people who find love in a foxhole, you really are not going to be a good fit for paranormal romance. Unless one of those foxhole loving people also transforms into a werewolf.

Another way of finding categories for your book is to browse until you find a similar book in terms of subject matter and genre. Scroll down the book details page until you find “Look for Similar Items by Category”

Remember you have two instances for categories, so keep that in mind. In the example above, one choice could be military, another paranormal.  You want to dig deep. If I click on the “Military” category, there are no more subcategories. The “Paranormal” category does have a bunch of subcategories, which makes it a better choice.

You want to go as deep as you can, and still have the categories makes sense. So try and pick the most specific subcategory you can.  The cool thing about finding a more specific category is that you will be searchable in all the parent categories. So “Romance -> Paranormal -> Werewolves & Shifters” will show your book if someone searches for “Romance”, “Paranormal”, or “Werewolves & Shifters”.

Then you can head on over to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and start entering the two categories that you want for you book along with your other information. Depending on what you choose, you might find that there are some categories on the main Amazon site that you don’t see available on KDP. That is because some categories require you to enter keywords to be available.

From the Amazon KDP Help section:

Categories with Keyword Requirements

To list your title in certain sub-categories for Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, you’ll need to add Search Keywords in addition to the categories you choose for your title. Click a category below to see the keyword requirements.

Amazon.com (US)

Biographies & Memoirs LGBT
Business & Money Literature & Fiction
Children’s eBooks Mystery, Thriller, & Suspense
Comics & Graphic Novels Religion & Spirituality
Erotica Romance
Health, Fitness, & Dieting Science Fiction & Fantasy
History Teen & Young Adult

See Amazon KDP Help for other countries keywords

By finding a good fit and utilizing more specific categories with special keywords, your can place your book in categories that have less overall titles. Why is that important? Because a category with less total titles means the odds of your book becoming a top 100 listing increases. This increases the chances of how many people will see it and Amazon promoting your title.

Romance subcategories

You can tell how many books are in a category, by typing the category in the search bar. Make sure you are searching in the Kindle store, under the title category, for our example “romance”. This way you can see how many books are being sold under each sub-subcategory.

So in our example above, if one soldier was a werewolf but the other was an angel trapped in soldier’s body, then you could choose “Romance -> Paranormal ->Angels”. Then your book would show up under “Romance”, “Paranormal”, and “Angels” and your book is only competing with 3,102 other titles. If you choose “Romance -> Paranormal ->Werewolves & Shifters” then you would be competing against 13,606 other titles. Both searches fit your book, but the “Angels” subcategory allows you the best option for a top 100 listing.


Keywords are what a reader might type into the search bar to find your book. The goal with categories was to find the most specific category type with the least of amount of titles. The goal with keywords is to find the broadest.

You are allowed seven keywords, separated by commas. But did you know you can also use phrases? The total number of characters allowed in the keyword text field must be 399 characters or less. Keywords are hidden, so the only people who know what keywords you pick are Amazon and you. This makes it a little more difficult to find out what others are using.

The first step is to brainstorm. What main words or phrases would you use to find your book? Try and step into your ideal customer’s head and ask what would they type to find your book?

Some other ways to brainstorm keywords per Amazon

Useful keyword types

  • Setting (Colonial America)
  • Character types (single dad, veteran)
  • Character roles (strong female lead)
  • Plot themes (coming of age, forgiveness)
  • Story tone (dystopian, feel-good)

If you are using a phrase make sure to use a natural order. “Sword & Sorcery” is a common phrase but “Sorcery & Sword” is not. Again you are trying to guess what people might type to find your book, so use common phrases that are well established.

When you think you have a good list, go test your keywords one at a time on Amazon, in the Kindle store, and look at the results. With keywords you want more results, the higher the number the better. If your keyword doesn’t have a lot of results, then that means it isn’t a word that users type very often.

As you start to type in your keywords, watch to see what auto-prompts Amazon suggests. Those auto-prompts are the ones that people use most often to search Amazon. For example, when I type in the letter “p”, one of the auto-prompt suggestions is the phrase “paranormal romance.”  You want to make sure though that you don’t waste a keyword by using one of your category selections.

Also don’t waste keywords on information or metadata you have already entered, such as your title or any of your information that you have entered on any of the other KDP form fields. Don’t worry about punctuation either, Amazon’s got you covered.

Also you can’t use as keywords

  • Reference to other authors
  • Reference to books by other authors
  • Reference to sales rank (e.g., “bestselling”)
  • Reference to advertisements or promotions (e.g., “free”)
  • Reference to anything that is unrelated to your book’s content

You can always go back and change your categories and keywords after you have given them a chance to work. By doing your research and trying out different options, you can optimize your chances of getting your book in front of more readers who are looking for you.

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If you liked this article, please share. If you have suggestions for further articles, articles you would like to submit, or just general comments, please contact me at paula@publetariat.com or leave a message below.

Your ISBN: Answers To Frequently Asked Questions

Today’s featured link is from the Bookbaby Blog by Steven Spatz who provides answers to a lot of common questions about the International Standard Book Number or ISBN numbers.  It is a pretty comprehensive offering and helps demystify the topic.

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Of all the mysteries surrounding the process of self publishing, the book ISBN ranks among the most intimidating to many new authors. We’re here to allay your concerns and give you answers.

magnifying glass scanning bar code  made in 2d software
magnifying glass scanning bar code made in 2d software

The ISBN. Seldom have thirteen little digits been so misunderstood. Our BookBaby publishing specialists field calls all day long about the International Standard Book Number – also known as the ISBN. Let me take this opportunity to field a few of the most common questions.

  • What is an ISBN? The ISBN is a numeric identifier that is used around the globe by book stores, publishers, and just about everyone in the publishing industry. ISBNs have either 10 or 13 digits (all ISBNs assigned after January 1, 2007 have 13 digits).

Read the full post on Bookbaby Blog

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If you liked this article, please share. If you have suggestions for further articles, articles you would like to submit, or just general comments, please contact me at paula@publetariat.com or leave a message below.

How to Market Yourself as an Author Before You Have a Book to Sell

On The Write Life, talks about the importance of making connections and setting a marketing plan in place before you even have a book published. I hate to use the term marketing here, because you want to make sincere connections and offer something of value to people, even if it is yourself. But Chuck does a good job of explaining that. Do you have any helpful tips on how to connect? If so please share in the comments, thanks!

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How to Market Yourself as an Author Before You Have a Book to Sell

September 2015 saw the release of three of Chuck’s new books, the 2016 Guide to Literary Agents, the 2016 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market, and his anti-clown humor book When Clowns Attack: A Survival Guide.

Marketing concept

Let’s say you have a book out and want to promote it. So you contact a website and offer to write a free guest post (or several) for them.

In exchange for providing the free content, you have some requests:

  • You want the column(s) to be accompanied by your book cover
  • You want the column(s) to be accompanied by your headshot
  • You want the column(s) to be accompanied by your bio, with a link in the bio that will redirect readers to a buy page for the book — Amazon or IndieBound or whatever you ask

Some people may have further things to promote, like classes or workshops or consultation services or an eBay profile full of knickknacks. It doesn’t matter.

The point is that if you’re writing the column for free, what you want out of the exchange is the chance to promote something. Simple and easy.

This is Guest Blogging 101, and everyone wins in this deal.

The best time to promote yourself: now

But what if you don’t have a book or anything to sell yet? What are you selling then? Simple:  You’re selling a connection to yourself.

Sure, you don’t have a book for sale now, but you will in the future — so you need to connect yourself to interested individuals now so you can inform them of the book release down the road.

You can encourage potential readers to stay connected to you in a few simple ways:

  • Follow you on Twitter
  • Sign up for your free email newsletter
  • Like your Facebook fan page, or befriend you on your personal page
  • Subscribe to the RSS feed for your blog

Read the full post on The Write Life

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If you liked this article, please share. If you have suggestions for further articles, articles you would like to submit, or just general comments, please contact me at paula@publetariat.com or leave a message below