Extracurricular Activities

I am amazed at the number of Christians involved in extracurricular activities. One of those areas of interest is politics. In a number of social outlets, the platform of negative reporting is spearheaded by Believers. If they dislike a politician, they illustrate their contempt with negativity. If they endorse a political party, they will sound the trumpet of praise and adoration. If it’s a political ideology they disagree with, they will express it with carbon monoxide rhetoric. I am not interested in whether someone is Republican, Democrat, or whatever. What concerns me is that the harvest fields are ripe for harvesting, but the harvesters seem more concerned with issues unrelated to reaping. (John 4: 35) The last thing I want to do is to turn off a potential Believer by expressing a political viewpoint that might add to the further polarization of our society. The majority of our political understanding is determined by what we read or hear from the media. Can we honestly promote something as truth, when all we know is from biased reporting?


Our Country is in a mess, but I am at rest because God is in control. This is a time for Christians to stay the course. This is the time to stay focused. This is the time to pray for those in authority. (I Timothy 2:1, 2) This is the time to make sure our priorities stay in line with God’s Word.I don’t believe there is a Biblical subject that has not been written or verbalized about. The redundancy of theme writing and publications has inundated the social platforms. Faith shared articles and quips have continued to be popular with the faithful. My concern is that those outside of the Faith have little or no understanding of what our jubilation is all about. While the Christians encourage each other with the Word, the unbelievers remain in the dark searching for the allusive answer to what life is all about. It is time for Believers to leave their spiritual “Disneyland” and share their lives with those that are living day by day. It is exciting to feel the spiritual goose bumps in our closed communal gatherings, but the real excitement is releasing the “rivers of living water” to those in our communities that are looking for something to quench their thirst from the heat of sin.


The Life Book is what Believers need to tweet about. We need to share what God is doing in our lives, and what our lives are doing in serving God!

Some of the Best Cooking Books That Need to Be in Your Kitchen

Having just graduated from university, cooking books have a firm place on my kitchen shelf. From disastrous attempts at making barely edible dishes, my time as a student has exposed me to many cooking books. Here are the top ten of the best cooking books that are invaluable to any wannabe Masterchefs out there.

Ready… Steady… Cook!

10. Delia’s Complete Cookery Course by Delia Smith

This mammoth cookery book whips in at number 10. Delia Smith is very much the David Beckham of the cooking world – an institution. Her Complete Cookery Course does exactly what it says on the tin. It provides wannabe chefs with a full, comprehensive guide to creating the best dishes. With fundamental must know recipes like apple pie and yorkshire puddings, Delia shows she is one of the masters. With mouth-watering pictures acting as a rough guide this book is a god send for beginner chefs. No doubt a staple on your mother’s shelf, this book is perfect as a starting point in the basics of pastry making, cake baking and roast making. A genuine triumph in the cookery book world.

9. The New Curry Bible by Pat Chapman

Chapman’s bible does not follow the conventional rules of cookery books, but is a diamond in the rough for curry fanatics out there and the reason it has made this best cooking books list. The New Curry Bible does not simply show you the recipes but teaches you the history of curry making. It is not a book to be bought for people who want a quick fix curry. If you are one of those people I suggest you save yourself time and money and just buy a ready meal. However, if you are interested in the exquisite nature of curries, then this book teaches you all you need to know. Like any specialist cook book, it is a little disheartening at first to encounter all of the strange herbs and spices that you know you don’t own, but the rewards from having knowledge of these is irreplaceable. Although it may take you a while to get to grips with the fine art of balancing the spices, you will most certainly become famous amongst friends and family for the talent you will take from this beautiful book.

8. Rick Stein’s Taste of the Sea: 150 Fabulous Recipes for Every Occasion

As a massive lover of seafood, this book has literally been my magna carta. Rick Stein takes you on a journey around the coast and teaches you to really appreciate fish in all its scaly glory. From skinning methods to filleting, this book teaches you how to prepare and cook fish to perfection. Stein writes in a clear and simple fashion and it is impossible to resist his infectious passion. With a variety of dishes that cater for absolutely every occasion, this book is a must have for beginners and experienced fish mongers alike. The instructions are not condescending or set in stone, and leave freedom for experimentation. A truly great book by a truly great chef and teacher.

7. Simple Chinese Cooking by Kylie Kwong

Following the theme of specialist cooking books, Simple Chinese Cooking is an absolute must have for anyone wanting to start a love affair with chinese cooking. Filled with beautiful photography, this book coaches you through each dish with clear and crisp step-by-step instructions. Usually when faced with a specific cook book, there seems a never-ending list of ingredients that appear to exist in outer space, but this book has essentials that can be bought and found easily in local grocery stores. Not only is this book a great guide, but it is also incredibly exciting as each week you can watch yourself develop and gain confidence with once seemingly difficult dishes. From steamed cod to sweet and sour pork, Kwong’s recipes will have you burning all your chinese takeaway menus from the get go.

6. Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals by Jamie Oliver

There can be no such thing as a best cooking books list without Mr Oliver, of course. One of the things I love most about almost all of Jamie Oliver’s cook books are their beautiful and impeccable presentation. They are not endless pages of lines and lines of writing but are instead filled with bright, colourful and delectable pictures, as well as no- nonsense recipes. In his 30 Minute Meals Jaime shows you that once and for all cooking does not have to be a stressful and laborious affair. Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals is amazing for working people for whom time is money, and of course students who wish to spend minimum amount of time cooking and maximum amount of time… studying. Not only is it wonderfully organised with a designated section for starters, mains and desserts, but there are numerous vegetarian recipes scattered inside, making this book literally for every type of chef.

5. The Best Recipes in the World by Mark Bittman

After his debut cook book How to Cook Everything became an international sensation, Bittman is back to teach you it is easier than you thought to cook recipes from all around the world. With no unnecessary embellishments Bittman gently leads you on a culinary round the world trip that will leave your taste buds in a state of euphoria. The best aspect of Mark Bittman’s The Best Recipes In The World whilst you may never get round to cooking everything inside, the dishes you do make will leave you feeling inspired to take dishes you already cook and turn them on their head. Although it can be overwhelming to face so many recipes in one book, I urge you to add this to your collection. It is timeless and will only help to increase your knowledge of food.

4. Gordon Ramsay’s Secrets by Gordon Ramsay

In this incredible and not too badly priced book, Gordon Ramsay lets you in on a few secrets that have made him the world-renowned chef that we have all come to love. With a huge collection of recipes from poultry to fish and desserts to soups, this cookbook lets you in on inside info that will have friends and family thinking you are a bona-fide kitchen guru. The recipes are simple and effective and Ramsay has even added flourishes of his own, such as useful tips on presenting dishes. If you really have a passion for cooking or would love to learn more, this is the book that teaches you not just to cook but how to become a chef. These tips help to make cooking a truly enjoyable experience and will boost your confidence to be adventurous not only in cooking but also in eating as well.

3. The Complete Book of Sushi by Hideo Dekura

As a self-confessed sushi addict this book is incredible – the pages are almost edible. It combines the modern with the traditional and allows you to get to grips with this difficult Japanese style of cooking. Although not to everyone’s taste, this book teaches you the secrets behind making that difficult sticky rice and how to present your sushi in wonderful ways. The most interesting thing about Dekura’s book is they way it advances from simple to expert. This allows you to move gradually at your own pace and also sets little targets within the book. Whilst there are other books on the market such as Yo Sushi’s, it is Dekura’s book that really stands out of the crowd. With gorgeous photography it inspires with a mere flick of the page, and unlike its contemporaries has clear and simple instructions. A must have for any sushi fan and it also makes a great present.

2. Wahaca – Mexican Food At Home by Thomasina Miers

This book comes in at number two of this best cooking books top ten and is a must have for any frequent Wahaca customer. It was only recently published and plunges you straight into the vibrant and tasty world of Mexican street food. One thing that did surprise me was the breakfast section, and I have to admit I have been thoroughly converted to a mexican way of eating in the morning. Full of beautiful pictures and written in an accessible and friendly way, this book does exactly what the title states and brings Mexican food straight into your kitchen. Miers has clearly done the research required for such an exquisite book, and the information about mexican chillies is invaluable. An excellent book for cooking meals for friends and a great equivalent to BBQ parties.

1.Jaime does… by Jaime Oliver

In at number one is Jaime does. In this book Jaime travels through foodie hotspots such as Spain, France and Morocco in order to find innovative recipes. The book is beautifully presented (like all of Jaime’s books) and has wonderful pictures of his travels alongside the amazing pictures of his food. Each country has an introductory paragraph that explains the culture and food he came into contact with, and then in very simple language and an ever friendly tone, Jaime guides you through a range of dishes. From light bites such as patatas bravas to the more complex dishes like the steak tartare, Jaime’s tone never condescends you as the amateur chef. This book not only provides great enjoyment as a teaching tool but is also nice to flip through every now and again to behold the location shots of his food journey. Overall a very deserving winner of this Best Cooking Books list. Absolutely delicious!

This is by no means the only ten cook books I think you should own. There are many other brilliant cookbooks out there for beginners such as The Student Cookbook by Sophie Grigson. This is superb for amateur chefs who simply do not have the time to cook elaborate meals every day and are after recipes for both real cooking and convenience cooking. Then for more adventurous chefs who are willing to getinventive and scientific in the kitchen, there is Heston Bluementhal’s brilliant book The Fat Duck Cookbook, which combines vivid illustrations and wacky recipes for a truly great cooking experience. Overall, the ten books that compose this best cooking books list all offer friendly, easy to follow guidance which enables you to not only enjoy them as books, but also enjoy them as learning tools that will one day make you the king of the kitchen.

Bon appetit ladies and gents.

Book Promotion and Marketing

Books do not market themselves, nor do agents and publishers do all the work for you if you’ve gone that route. And if you’re a self-published author, that means most or all of the burden of marketing falls upon your shoulders.

This article talks about methods you can use to promote your book. One thing I want to point out is that it’s difficult to determine which methods pay off even after you’ve made them. Sometimes book sales can happen as a result of a combination of two or more different methods, and even after the fact, you may not know which methods played a role.

Most of these approaches are free, except for your time, so I say, try as many of them as you can.

MARKETING PLAN
It is advisable to have a marketing plan before you start, even if it’s a simple plan that evolves over time. Consider the following elements:

• Set goals for yourself — establish a number for the number of books you want to sell, earnings, number of books written, number of author interviews you do, number of guest blogs you participate in, Amazon ranking, number of hits on your website, number of Facebook “likes,” number of articles you write, and number of positive reviews you get.

• Know your target audience. What age are your potential readers? What gender? Are they likely to be from a specific geographic location? Do they have special interests?

• Know your competition. Find books similar to yours and read their reviews. See what others like about their books. Check out the author’s Amazon author page, their website, and their blog. See where their books are priced. Learn everything you can about your competition. Learn from their successes and their failures.

• Prepare a budget. There are lots of free resources out there, but it is unlikely you will be able to publish a book at no cost whatsoever. Consider these potential costs:

o Editing
o Proofreading
o Cover design
o Formatting
o Printing
o Distribution
o Advertising

• Think about your brand as you act upon your marketing plan. For authors, your brand is your name. Think about what you want people to say about you, and then behave accordingly. Be consistent within your website, blog, author profile, on-line discussion groups, and interviews. As Warren Buffet once said, “It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”

• And finally, track the results and revise your marketing plan as needed.

MEDIA KIT
Always have a media kit available to send to the media when asked or to hand out at book signings, speaking engagements, conferences, and any other place where there is potential for self-promotion. At a minimum, include the following:

• Book summary
• Press release
• Select book reviews
• Author bio and headshot
• Image of book cover
• Where to buy the book
• Author contact information

CREATE A GOOD PRODUCT
I almost hesitate to include this on the list, but more than once I have been asked to review a fellow author’s manuscript or published book, and it violates every writing rule on the books and/or it contains typos. At the very least, I recommend investing in a professional proofreader.

WEBSITE
It is essential for authors to have a website, and for those of you who have never created one, or think you don’t have the skills to create one, think again. It’s not that hard. I used Yahoo Site Solution to create mine, but there are numerous others available. Just Google “free website design” and you’ll see tons of site design tools for free. If you truly can’t handle designing your own website, or don’t have the time, you can always hire it done. Be prepared to pay a minimum of $1,000 for a very basic site.

Before creating your website, you’ll have to get yourself a domain name. Domain registration is cheap and easy. I used Namecheap, but there are many others available. Most web hosts offer domain registration as well. Put thought into the name. There are tips for choosing a good domain name on the Internet such as you’ll find on thesitewizrd.com.

You’ll also need a web host in order to post your website on the Internet. I used Yahoo, but there are numerous others. My advice is to find one that offers 24/7 tech support. Some are better than others.

Things to include on your website are:

• A “Home” page that welcomes people to your site and gives them an overview of what’s inside
• Your bio, including a photo of yourself
• Your contact information
• A synopsis of your book and cover of your book if published
• Testimonials
• Links to other sites you think may be on interest to your audience
• Some sort of “freebie” whether a sample of your work, writing advice, sharing your expertise, links to related sites, etc.
• Where to buy your book
• The right keywords in the page titles, tags, and contents of your page

Promote your website as often as you can. Include the URL on your business cards and stationery (if you use stationery, and if you’re under 25, if you even know what stationery is). Include the URL as part of your bio. Put it in your e-mail signature block. Whenever you give someone your contact information, include your website URL.

BLOG
You have to blog nowadays. (If you’re reading this article from my website, and you’ve checked out my photo, you know this statement didn’t exactly roll off my tongue.) In my day… well, never mind. Today people blog. They read blogs, and they follow blogs. Blog, blog, blog.

It’s relatively easy to create a blog. There are numerous blog templates to choose from. I chose WordPress. It’s easy to use and it’s clean. For me, there’s nothing worse than a cluttered blog where you have to sift through a lot of erroneous stuff looking for what’s meaningful to you. Another pet peeve I have is to see typos in blogs. Blogs should be well thought out and proofread. Otherwise, you may lose credibility with your audience.

Most bloggers aren’t going to spend time reading or following a blog that doesn’t interest them, so the lesson here is to create material that is of interest to those who you want as followers. Sounds like a simple concept, but it really isn’t. It takes a lot of thought to get it right. Focus on providing your readers with free worthwhile informational content, even if it means commenting on other peoples’ blogs or directing them to other sites. It’s okay to have fun, too. Don’t be afraid to do something a little crazy once in awhile.

People love freebies, and free eBooks are a great giveaway since they don’t cost you anything.

Conducting polls can generate great discussion on your blog. I’ve seen authors post things like “Choose which cover you like best,” “Tell us about your all-time favorite character in a book,” and “What makes you keep turning the pages?” You might learn something very valuable in the process.

It’s one thing to create and maintain a meaningful blog, but it’s quite another thing to draw people to it and then become your followers. Including the right keywords will help. Asking questions can also result in some lively discussions and keep viewers coming back. I saw on one person’s blog, “Make me smile today… leave a comment or question.”

Don’t forget to include other links on your blog. Make it easy for readers to see what else you have to offer, including the link to buy your books.

Blog sites need to be consistently updated with new material. Once to twice weekly appears to be an acceptable frequency. Too few posts and you’ll appear stale. Too many may cause an overdose for your audience.

Remember, promoting your books should be secondary on your blog. If you do a good job with the rest of it, book sales will follow.

Like websites, blogs take time to catch on. Don’t get discouraged the first year.

AMAZON.COM AUTHOR PAGE
If your book is available on amazon.com (and if it isn’t, you’re missing out), it behooves you to create an Amazon author page where you can include your bio, photo, a link to your website, blog and twitter page, events, and videos.

SIGNATURE BLOCK
Be sure to include all your links in your e-mail and stationery signature blocks.

BOOKMARKS (not the electronic kind)
Bookmarks are an inexpensive way to promote your books. Include on your bookmarks a copy of your book cover, a synopsis, your bio and all your web links. Carry them with you wherever you go and give them away like you would a business card. Pin them to community bulletin boards. Always include one in books you give away. Ask your dentist, hairdresser, or dry cleaners if you can leave a supply in their reception area.

ON-LINE DISCUSSION GROUPS
There are numerous online discussion groups you can join to get advice, give advice, and network with authors, editors, book reviewers and publishers. Three of the most popular venues for discussion groups are Facebook, LinkedIn and Goodreads (see more discussion on each of these down the page). Become an active participant in discussions–the more you interact with fellow members, the more you learn and the more exposure you’ll get for your books. Look for successful authors in these groups who have great web pages and/or blogs you can follow and learn from them.

Many groups have separate areas of the site that will allow you to post information about your book. Use these to promote your book, but don’t forget to provide feedback on postings from your fellow authors. Not only are you helping them gain exposure, but you will gain some for yourself. These groups are all about helping each other.

FACEBOOK PAGE
Social media sites are a must for authors, and Facebook is by far the largest and most popular. But before you go promoting your book on your Facebook wall, give serious thought to creating a Facebook Page (f/k/a Facebook Fan Page). This will keep your professional posts and other activities separate from your personal ones. Facebook Pages are viewable by anyone, even non-members, so your posts can get significant exposure with the right keywords. One of the great features of the Facebook Page is that when someone ‘likes” your page, it gets broadcasted to their contacts, potentially reaching many more people who may be interested in your books.

Post milestones, book launches, interviews, and book signings on your Facebook Page… anything that you deem interesting to your followers and potential book buyers. As long as you keep it interesting, it won’t be considered spammy. Strike a good balance for the number of posts. Too few and people will think it’s not an active and current site. Too many and people may get annoyed. Be generous with including links, not only links directly related to you, but include other links that may be interesting or helpful to your audience members. Direct your visitors to places they may not otherwise have visited.

It’s important to get people to “like” your Facebook Page, as search engines, such as Google, favor Facebook Pages with lots of “likes.” One way to get “likes” is when you “like” someone else’s Page, ask them if they will return the favor.

Just remember, Facebook is all about creating relationships, whether you’re using your personal profile or professional page. It is not advisable to use Facebook strictly as a selling tool. Once you make connections and earn their trust, the sales will come naturally as a side benefit.

LINKEDIN
What Facebook does for social networking, LinkedIn does for business-oriented networking. With more than 50 million members worldwide, LinkedIn provides a vast pool of valuable networkers and potentially buyers for your books. Just as you would create interesting posts for your blog and Facebook Page, you would do the same in LinkedIn. But also like Facebook, you don’t want to make your LinkedIn site into a hard sell endeavor. That will just turn people off.

Use LinkedIn for offering interesting articles, making announcements and reaching out for advice and/or offering advice. Increase your visibility by encouraging discussions and comments. Offer freebies. Create contests. Make it fun. Even though it’s business, people still like a little fun.

REVIEWS
Book reviews are the best way to promote your book, and while you can pay good money for them, you can also get them for (almost) free. For the cost of a book and postage, you have the opportunity to get great publicity from a good review, and the rewards can be enormous by posting them on your website, your blog and anywhere else you have exposure.

One way to get reviews is on amazon.com. When someone tells you they really enjoyed your book, ask them if they would write a short review on Amazon. A positive book review on Amazon is worth its weight in gold. Potential book buyers read reviews! If you can get ten or more positive reviews, your book looks like a winner for anyone looking to buy it.

You may want to try offering a free book to someone in exchange for a review. Just be cautious who you pick. If it isn’t an experienced reviewer, you may get back something you don’t want to ever share with anyone. Experienced reviewers know how to highlight the important things you did well and constructively state where the book needs improvement.

It’s not easy to get one of the top five book reviewers to review your book, but it’s always worth a try. They are Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews and Midwest Book Review. A more comprehensive list may be found at stepbystepselfpublishing.net/reviewer-list.html. Some charge for their services, and others don’t.

BRAGMedallion.com is a privately held organization that brings together a large group of readers, both individuals and members of book clubs, located throughout the United States, Canada, and the European Union. BRAG (Book Readers Appreciation Group) states its mission as “recognizing quality on the part of authors who self-publish both print and digital books.” Books submitted are read and evaluated by members drawn from its reader group and judged using a proprietary list of criteria, but the single most important criterion they ask their readers to use in judging a book is whether or not they would recommend it to their best friend. Once a book meets this standard of quality from three out of three reviewers, they award it their B.R.A.G. Medallion™. Less than 15% of books submitted receive this honor, so if you submit your book and you become an honoree, you can use it proudly to help promote your book.

Whatever you do, do NOT pay someone to post bogus reviews on Amazon.com or any other site. Not only is this dishonest and less than honorable, but you’d only be fooling yourself about the quality of your writing.

INTERVIEWS
You may be surprised at how easy it is to get interviews that focus on you and your book. Send your press release or other promotional pieces to radio and TV stations, newspapers, newsletters and magazines and ask for an interview. A local ethnic TV station contacted me when they saw the press release for my first novel, “The Coach House,” and invited me in for an interview. My book had an ethnic thread running through it, and they thought their viewers would be interested in it. Did I mention they have 500,000 viewers? You’ll also find agents, publishers, editors and other authors who include author interviews on their blogs. I ran across several such people in the online discussion groups in which I’m a member.

BOOK CLUB AND DISCUSSION GROUPS
Book clubs and book discussion groups love to have the author present for their discussions. The tricky part is finding a book club who is interested in your book. Word of mouth may be the best way. Spread the word to your friends you would be willing to participate in a book club discussion.

There are thousands of online book clubs, but since they are online and accessible to anyone, you can be sure they are inundated with requests, so try to be genre-specific in your queries. Here is one book club list book-clubs-resource.com/online/. I am sure there are many others.

BOOK PROMOTION SITES
Launched in 2007, Goodreads is the largest site for readers and book recommendations in the world. They claim to have over 8,900,000 members who have added more than 320,000,000 books to their shelves. Goodreads allows authors to submit their books for consideration.

Here’s a list of other book promotion sites.
Authonomy
Bibliophil
Book Buzzr
BookBrowse
Bookhitch
Booksie
Filed By
Jacket Flap
KindleBoards
LibraryThing
Nothing Binding
On Book Talk
SavvyBookWriters
Scribd
Shelfari
Wattpad
WhoWroteThat
WritersNet

LOCAL ESTABLISHMENTS
Write letters to the editor of your local newspapers, newsletters, and trade journals. Call your local radio station and offer to do an interview. Contact your local library and book stores and offer to do a signing or free lecture. Talk to everyone you visit about your book–your dry cleaner, dentist, doctor, and grocer. Look for bulletin boards wherever you go to post information about your website, blog and books. Make the postings fun and eye-catching.

BUSINESS CARDS
Something as inexpensive and easy as business cards will let others know you’re a serious professional writer.

POST CARDS
I live in a 56-story high rise with 482 other residents who are neighbors (of sorts) and potential book buyers. I designed a postcard with a very easy-to-use template from Paper Direct and sent it to all my neighbors. On the front, where the stamp and address label go, I included an image of the front cover of my book, a one-sentence synopsis, and the fact that I’m a local author. On the back, I included a little longer synopsis, where they can find my book, a few promotional sentences from someone who had reviewed my book, and my contact information.

PRESS RELEASES
Press releases get the message out about your book launch, and anyone can write one. Send yours to any media outlet you think will be interested in helping you promote your book – TV and radio stations, newspapers, magazines, newspapers, book stores, book clubs, book discussion groups, book reviewers, etc.

There are templates available such as on PRWeb.com, pressreleasetemplates.net and smallbusinesspr.com for do-it-yourself ones. If you want to engage a service, try mymediainfo.com, cision.com or vocus.com. Muckrack.com is a free service.

TESTIMONIALS
Testimonials can be a great tribute to the story you’ve written, even if coming from family and friends. Post them on your website and in your blogs.

Here’s something fun to try. If your storyline includes something a certain celebrity or group of celebrities could relate to, send a request to their manager or agent asking for a testimonial from the celeb. For example, let’s say you’ve written a story about how a young man pulls himself out from the depths of an impoverished childhood and makes a name for himself in the world. Wouldn’t it be a coup if Jay-Z or Jim Carrey (each with a similar story) would endorse your book with a two-sentence testimonial?

TARGET GROUPS
Try connecting with groups or associations who can identify with your protagonist and/or storyline. For example, let’s say your protagonist is biracial and has a difficult time fitting in. There are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of people out there who have experienced the same thing and many of them belong to the Association for MultiEthnic Americans (AMEA) or subscribe to Mavin Magazine. On AMEA’s website, they list recommended books (fiction and non-fiction) for their members, and Mavin Magazine has an E-Library available for their subscribers. This would be a good opportunity to offer some freebies or a discount for members. Since there’s a group out there for just about everything, this avenue is worth pursuing.

I signed up for a Google Alert for the title of my book, “The Coach House.” That’s when I discovered there are quite a few restaurants around the country and in Europe named The Coach House, and that got me to thinking. I sent each one of them a letter telling them we had something in common and maybe we could do something fun that would benefit us both, like have them hold a drawing (business cards in a fish bowl) where one of the prizes was a copy of my book. In return, I could advertise their restaurant on my website, blog, and Facebook page. Think outside of the box, they say.

FAMILY AND FRIENDS
Don’t discount word-of-mouth with family and friends. If all my FB friends re-posted my book announcement, I would reach close to 10,000 more people. That’s a lot of potential book buyers.

E-Books: Value and Price

For the last several years, the debate has raged over e-book pricing. What is the best price? What is the customer willing to pay? What should the government and courts do to monitor the situation? It can all be confusing and put authors into a tailspin.

While the courts, online retailers, and large publishing companies continue to argue and battle it out, what is the independent author supposed to do? No one has all the answers, but some common sense, a little experimenting with prices, and some knowledge of the industry can help you determine an appropriate price for your e-book. Remember, there is no perfect price for every book; what is a good price for one book may not be the right price for another.

Here are some questions to consider when determining the price for your e-book:

What is the value of your book?

You need to determine your book’s value before you set the price. Did you write a short erotic novel to compete with the other one million out there that you spent maybe a month or less writing? Then its value is probably fairly low because it may not be in great demand. Are you writing a specialized thesis on a topic that has never had a book published on it before-then the value may be very high, although your reading audience may be small. Did you spend ten years writing and researching your book, or did you write it in a week? Can your readers easily get the information in your book elsewhere?

I once told an author her one hundred page history book was overpriced. She replied, “What do you think my book is worth when I spent five years writing and working on it?” Obviously, she perceived her book’s value as high, but her readers, seeing a slim volume that won’t take long to read, may not see it as so valuable. Consider also the value of your reader’s time. Will your reader think it worthwhile to pay $9.99 for something that takes an hour to read? Perhaps time is more valuable than money to your reader so he won’t want to pay $9.99 for what he may perceive as ten hours of work reading your book but he would pay $2.99.

If you insist your book’s value warrants a higher price, you could be right, but you will need to convince your reader of that value through your marketing efforts.

What is the most and least you can charge for your e-book?

Never should you price your e-book over $9.99. While a few major publishers can get away with higher prices for best-selling authors, $9.99 is the limit for most of us because Amazon decided that $9.99 was the cut off for paying out higher royalties. Books priced between $2.99 and $9.99 will receive 70 percent royalties from Amazon, while those over will receive a lower royalty of 35 percent, meaning your $15.00 book will earn you only about $5.00 as opposed to $7.00 for your $9.99 priced book. I won’t speak to every e-book retailer’s pricing model here; you’ll want to look at them individually, but $9.99 is definitely the highest you should go.

The advantage to pricing high is more money per book, but it also means you will likely sell less books. That said, lower priced books might be seen as of less value-being from unknown authors, poorly written, or simply short. To me, anything priced under $2.99 I automatically think must be of lesser quality and that even the author doesn’t perceive its value as high.

If you’re an established author, a middle price of $3.00-$6.99 is reasonable for an e-book and probably will not dissuade most readers from buying your book. Only if you have a book the reader will perceive as having high value should you price it in the $7.00-$9.99 range. A book in that price range should have the value of information worth buying, or you should be a well-established author with a large following-meaning thousands of readers.

How many books do you want to sell?

If you price your book at $0.99, you’ll need to sell ten e-books to equal if you had priced it at $9.99. Possibly, the lower price will make your book attractive enough that you can sell ten times as many books, as if you had left the price at $9.99. If you can sell ten books at $0.99, wouldn’t you be better off because now you have ten readers more likely to read your future books so you can price those higher?

What does the competition charge?

Look up other books in your genre. If you’re a new romance author, what are other new romance authors charging? If you’re writing your third business book and your first one became recognized in the industry, you can probably afford to price your business e-book higher. Price at or slightly lower than the competition for books in the same genre or similar to yours. If a reader sees two books about Lady Jane Grey, and yours is a dollar lower, unless the other book appears to have more information, yours is the one likely to be bought.

Where are your readers buying their books?

While I doubt many of the e-book sellers out there are spending time comparing what you’re selling your e-book for at various online stores, you probably want to be fair in charging the same price across the board. That said, just because your book is at Amazon doesn’t mean that’s where your readers are going to buy it, so make sure you sell it at many sites-Barnes & Noble, Kobo (the Canadian e-book seller), and Google Play (where people with Android phones and tablets are buying). Are you selling to the twenty-year old who is likely to buy at Google Play or are you selling to senior citizens who might prefer to buy at Amazon, which is more familiar to them? Make sure your book is at all places and then price accordingly. Your twenty-year old is a college student with little money so $0.99 is a better price for him, but then most e-book sellers will want you to sell for the same price at all their stores.

Do you have more than one book, especially a series?

If you have more than one book, consider pricing one lower. If you’ve written a series, you might want to give away or price low the first book in the series to sell it. Then if you hook readers with it, they will want to read the rest of the series. If you’ve written multiple books but not a series, I recommend pricing the book you and other readers consider your very best book as the lowest because after all, you want your very best to be what people first experience so you give the best impression and win them over as future readers.

Could you serialize your book, or sell it in individual chapters?

Serialized books-especially novels-have been around for centuries, and recently, more and more authors have started to sell their books as chapters or short installments. If you’ve written a short book-up to fifty pages or so-and it works as a stand-alone piece, price it low, such as at $1.99, and then continue the series at the same price or slightly higher. The reader will be more likely to buy four books at that lower price, if he likes the first one, than buy one book for $7.96 when he isn’t sure he’ll like it, and you’ll still make $7.96 if he ends up buying all four.

How good are you at marketing your book?

Marketing is the bottom line. Whether you price high or low, just because you’ve written a book and made it an e-book doesn’t mean anyone is going to read it. Yes, someone might stumble upon it at an online bookstore and buy it, but if you make a true effort to market it, you’re going to sell more books. If you are good at marketing, you will be able to promote your book as having value and being entertaining, and then perhaps you can price it higher because of that perceived value and higher interest. If you’re not going to spend much time marketing, then price low so the lower prices can help to compensate for your lack of marketing efforts.

Don’t Be Left Behind

No hard rules exist for e-book pricing. Every author needs to determine what works best for his or her individual situation. Try pricing high, and if your books don’t sell, try pricing lower. Be aware of trends or reasons why your e-book might be more popular one month than another-if you’re writing about the American Revolution, you might sell more e-books in June and July around Independence Day than you will in February-so maybe you lower or raise the price accordingly at such times. Develop a strategy, stick with it for a few months, then reassess and readjust your prices accordingly. Whatever you do, remember that e-book sales are now starting to outpace printed book sales, so don’t be left behind by ignoring the e-book pricing question.