When it comes to New Year's resolutions, "write a book" and "get published" are consistently some of the most popular. But what if you've already written a book and gotten it published? This month, we turn to our PR Manager, Ceci Hughes, to discuss New Year's resolutions for what comes next! Q: What are some manageable, bite-sized first steps a new author can take to market and promote their work, if they don't know where to start? A: Publicity and marketing can often seem daunting for first-time authors. If you’re feeling anxious, I recommend starting by asking yourself how much time you can realistically devote to promoting your book. Lots of authors have full-time jobs outside writing and promoting their books, so it’s important to be realistic about your goals. You might also consider asking family members and friends, or even hiring an intern to help you with book promotion if you're completely swamped. Once you’ve decided what is manageable for you, I recommend focusing on four areas: your online presence, events, reviews, and media appearances. Out of those four, I believe building an online presence is one of the most important (and thankfully, the least time consuming). If you can devote ten or fifteen minutes every day to making a social media post, writing a newsletter to send via email, updating your website, or engaging with your followers, you’ll have better luck getting people to pay attention to your events, reviews, and media appearances. A devoted audience is one of the most helpful things for succeeding at book promotion. Q: Can you give some examples of how authors can organically build their audience? A: I know it’s all well and good to say an audience is important for book promotion, so of course, the next logical question is: How do you build your audience? When it comes to social media, think about what your audience would like to see. Obviously, they’re interested in you and your books, but what other content do they engage with? For instance, if you've published a children’s book about dogs, consider sharing content about your pets. Or, if you’ve written a mystery novel, your followers might be interested in what other mystery books you enjoy reading. One of the best ways to build an audience is to engage with other authors. Other authors are in the same boat as you, and they can be great for brainstorming new publicity ideas. Other authors might also be interested in reviewing your book if you review theirs, making social media posts about your book if you post about theirs, and so on. You might also consider setting up events with other authors to draw a larger crowd. Q: How do you suggest authors set realistic goals for their promotional efforts? This comes back to considering how much time you can put into promoting your book before making grand plans—after all, you don’t want to stress yourself out! I recommend setting aside some time each day (or each week, if you’re very busy) to focus on book promotion, even if it’s only half an hour. Then, set goals for that designated time: for instance, “This week, I will submit my book to five awards,” or “I will reach out to three influencers this week to see if they will share my book with their followers.” Once you’ve set a goal, try to stick to it. It’s easy to tell yourself that since you set the goal for yourself, it's okay to let it slide, but when it comes to book promotion, perhaps nothing is more important to achieving success than dedication and persistence!
During a recent marketing session on accruing book reviews, I encouraged authors to build business relationships with booksellers, reviewers, and media. In response, attendees asked one key question: How can a relatively unknown author compete with major marketing firms, big publishing houses, and PR companies, all of which have deep pockets and established connections with media and booksellers? One way to achieve success in the face of this seemingly overwhelming competition is by using an old-school method that has recently lost favor, especially among younger authors. While it's true that in today's world, book marketing happens largely via email and online contact forms, this alternative approach can still see success: making connections with editors and reviewers via phone calls, or even in-person visits. Authors might make these connections with smaller, local media outlets rather than with a major publication like the Washington Post or the New York Times—but at the same time, the editor of a smaller publication may be more likely to write a review. Authors who do their research to learn what genres a reviewer is interested in and the titles he or she is currently reviewing are more likely to receive a coveted "Yes!" to their requests. I also challenge authors to invite local or even national celebrities, corporate leaders, and other influencers outside the book world to write and post reviews for their book on Amazon and other major retailers' websites. Such reviews can be persuasive—sometimes more so than reviews from lesser-known reviewers in the publishing industry. Authors can establish connections with these reviewers in the same way one builds any relationship: saying hello, making conversation, and being friendly and excited about their ideas, fields, and books. Authors have to be bold and courageous in these efforts. They also have to wear their armor when they do this—because for every success, some rejection is inevitable. Busy and overwhelmed bookstore owners will turn you away; an executive's secretary may refuse to connect you to the CEO; an editor may be rude—but on occasion, you might be fortunate enough to reach the right person at the right time. Ultimately, depending solely on social media or emails to spread the word about your book may not be enough. To give your book the best chance, you have to take risks and challenge yourself to reach out to people you never imagined contacting. Stand strong, and be endlessly persistent—and you might just be surprised! written by Robert Pruett, publisher
I’ve always believed that if you learn the vocabulary of a profession or field, you can understand it much better—and this is certainly true of publishing. Publishers often use language unfamiliar to laymen—terms like developmental editing, line editing, and copy editing; soft proofs, hard proofs, interior proofs, and cover proofs, and others. Often, some of the most confusing terms for new authors are those that involve the period between the moment they finish working with their publisher to edit and revise their book, and its actual publication. When all files are approved and the author has no further changes or corrections to make to their book, the publisher will usually ask them to sign a print release—essentially a form declaring, “I’m ready to print my book!” Once the print release is signed, the publisher sets a release date three to six months in the future, to mark when the book will be shipped to the booksellers and customers who preorder it. The intervening months, or pre-release period, allow the author and publisher time to promote the book. The promotion accomplished during this period is similar to a preview announcing the release of an upcoming film: it introduces the work to its intended audience—and to the press, reviewers, and bloggers—to inspire them to talk and write about the work in advance of its release. Like filmmakers, authors hope that when the fruit of their labor is finally released into the world, hundreds or thousands of potential audience members will be moved or persuaded to purchase their work: if a filmmaker’s marketing is successful, tickets will be sold, and the theater will be packed at the premier; and if an author’s marketing is successful, their book will fly off the shelves. At Brandylane, we know that this outcome is what every author wants. We believe that forewarned is forearmed, and that it’s never too early for an author to learn about every aspect of publishing. That’s why we do our best to provide our clients and readers alike with jargon-free instructions and explanations about the publishing process—a process that can sometimes be complex and intimidating, especially for new authors. If you have questions about the lexicon of the publishing world—whether you’ve already written a book or not—feel free to call or email us. Answering questions is one of our specialties—and we do it in simple language. written by Robert Pruett, publisher
Almost every author would love for their book to be published by one of the Big Five—HarperCollins, Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, Hachette, and Penguin Random House, the five largest publishing houses in the US. This is the holy grail, a prize coveted by authors in every genre. But unknown—and even veteran!—authors have a slim chance of being signed by one of these houses. Their acquisitions editors refuse unsolicited manuscripts, so authors must first find an agent willing to represent them—and these agents are also highly selective. They require authors to submit a query and an impressive professional proposal, and to have a substantial following or track record of success from previously published books. And of course, they also require an author to have a compelling manuscript—or at least some portion of it. Authors also need lots of patience in pursuing an agent, as these professionals are notoriously slow to respond—if they respond at all. Even if an author finds they are one of the chosen few, this may be a less satisfying position than they originally expected. Unless you’re an award-winning author like Stephen King or Cormac McCarthy, a popular political figure, or a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, you may have very little involvement in the production of your book. Your manuscript may be restructured and developed in a way that is completely contrary to your vision—and you may not even see your book’s cover until it’s published, let alone have the opportunity to offer your input! In addition, the big houses are always looking for a quick success. With traditional publication, the publisher invests one hundred percent of the cost a book—and an unknown author with no track record poses a significant financial risk. Given this, it’s understandable that publishers are wary and cautious when it comes to signing a new author. If a book doesn’t perform successfully within four to six months, the publisher’s promotional efforts will likely wind down, or even cease completely. One author I know who was published by one of the major houses was expected to hire her own private publicist, fund her own travel, and build her promotional effort largely on her own. And though the young, inexperienced, overworked in-house publicist who was promoting her book was available at its launch, four months after her book was released, the publicist stopped calling. Why? Because her book hadn’t sold five thousand copies, only four hundred—not unusual for a new author. So if you are a hopeful new author who expects to sit back, hold a few book signings, and wallow in your success after your book is published, waiting for royalty checks to pour in, take a moment to research the industry, and traditional publication. You may find you wish to consider another path to publication—one that might be more realistic and attainable. At Brandylane, we don’t require an agent; we stick with our authors for the long run; and our authors have the opportunity to work cooperatively with talented editors, designers, and an active PR team ready to support them. Let us know how we can help you! written by Robert Pruett, Publisher
Publishing industry veterans know there’s a big difference between making a book available in the marketplace and making readers aware that it’s available. Many first-time authors believe that if their title appears on Amazon or on a bookstore shelf, people will come across it by default, and word will quickly spread. In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth—and in fact, this usually happens in reverse! While readers can discover books by accident when browsing through Amazon, for such a circumstance to occur in the physical world, Barnes & Noble or a local bookseller must first choose to carry and sell that book. For that to happen, a bookseller must first know about the book themselves, and then be convinced that it will sell. How are booksellers convinced of this? Often, an already existing demand for the book will do the job. Booksellers comb through industry data, which reflects the activity surrounding a title—social media buzz, reviews in printed publications, or a combination of the two. They also take into account requests from people who come to their stores. The more people are asking for and talking about a book, the more likely it is to win a coveted spot on a bookstore's shelf. Often, a perfect storm of these influences is required for a new title by a first-time author to make its way to the shelf. But it might also happen because an author has walked into a bookstore, introduced himself to the manager, and shared his very worthy book, his passion, and his platform directly. Ultimately, there are no secret formulas or magic potions that win the hearts and minds of booksellers or book lovers—but we do know that in all cases, you should start with a professionally edited, designed, and packaged book. We also know that alongside our efforts, a committed, passionate, energetic author who builds an online following can find an audience—though it may take months, or even years. When it comes to publishing a bestseller, only celebrities can boast overnight success stories. The rest of us have to keep our shoulders to the wheel, and never give up. written by Robert Pruett, Publisher
In these times of uncertainty and constant readjustment, digital marketing has never been more important. Quarantine and stay-at-home orders may have affected your event plans, but there are countless ways to market your book online and on social media. Read on for some helpful and creative tips for marketing your book from home! Social Media Social media is crucial for promoting your book. Though platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook might seem intimidating at first, they are a great way to grow your audience, boost publicity for your book, and further establish you as an author. Social media is a space where you can be as creative as you want, and invite your readers along for the ride. Here are some ideas to get your readers engaged and your book selling! Using the “Live” Feature Most social media platforms, like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, have an option to “go live”, or livestream. This feature allows you to broadcast from your phone. Your livestream will be available for your followers to watch in real time, or to watch later if you choose to keep the livestream up on your profile page. This allows you to connect with your readers and supporters directly and personally. There are so many ways you can use this feature! Virtual Events Virtual events are an amazing way to actively promote your book through quarantine. Maybe you were planning a reading at a local bookstore, but it was canceled. No worries -- just set up your phone and you can host your very own event right from your living room! Looking for a fun way to show off your amazing book cover? Throw a virtual cover reveal party! Not only is this a great way to get your readers excited, it’s a wonderful tool to get your readers engaged. Let them join in on the fun! Virtual events can be accessed any time anywhere in the world. Without geographic barriers, so many more people will be able to attend your virtual event and hear all about your new book. Virtual Book Club Another way to keep your readers engaged is starting a virtual book club! You could even choose your own book, hosting a discussion where you can get feedback from your readers and even answer their questions. Not only does this encourage followers to buy and read your book, but it asks them to think critically and connect with the book on a deeper level. What better way to promote a book club than a Q&A with the author? Giveaways and Contests Hosting games like giveaways and contests is a great way to engage your followers and drum up excitement for the grand prize -- your book! There are so many ways you can get creative thinking of different rules and reveals. Maybe all your followers need to enter the contest is to use a special hashtag, or post a photo promoting your book, or simply follow your profile page. Giveaways and contests work well across all social media platforms, though Instagram encourages more direct communication and visual marketing. Collaboration Collaboration in quarantine? It’s easier than you think! Let’s go back to our earlier scenario -- a canceled reading at a local bookstore. You could host a reading on your own, or you could collaborate with that bookstore’s social media pages. You could “go live” on the live feature with the bookstore, take over their “story” feature for the day, or even just collaborate on a post for their profile that promotes your event and your book. Do you have a few writer friends? Throw a virtual festival! Have everyone read their latest story or poem, again on the “live” feature. Strengthening connections will not only help you promote your book, but develop a great network of fellow writers. Maximize Your Online Presence Right now is the perfect time to work on developing your online presence. Platforms like social media and a personal website will help readers find you and your book online. Check out our previous blog post, “A Guide to Starting Your Author Website” to walk you through creating a website and all the online services Brandylane Publishers provides. Blogging Blogging is a valuable way to communicate with your readers and start building a community. There are countless ways to make blogging work for you. You could update your readers about any book news, milestones in the publishing process, and ways they can support you and your book. If you have a website, regularly posting on a blog will incentivize readers to continue visiting your site. This will give your website more traffic, which will boost the site in search engines. Newsletters If you have lots of information or fun things to share, a newsletter is a creative and direct way to ensure your readers keep up to date with any news and events. Your newsletters don’t have to be purely informative however, you can get as creative as you want! Whether you send out a monthly wrap-up of writing, book news, and publicity or you send out a poem every day of the week, a newsletter allows you to solidify a subscriber base of readers and keep them engaged with you and your book. There are plenty of platforms where you can design, write, and send out your newsletter for free, like Mailchimp. You can also see the analytics of each newsletter, meaning you can see how many people sign up for your newsletter and read your emails. Reaching out to reviewers and publications Digital networking is so important right now, and a great way to grow your network is reaching out to reviewers and publications. There are countless reviewers, bloggers, and social media influencers in the book world. Reaching out to these reviewers will grow your network, boost publicity, and gain access to new audiences. While you’re at it, reach out to a few small publications as well. These publications could review your book, feature your submitted work, or interview you about your book. Marketing your book from home has never been more important. Luckily, it’s also never been easier. Marketing online and on social media can be daunting, but we hope these tips will inspire you to get creative and get posting!
Check out this video about Sara Arnold's The Big Buna Bash: https://ethiopianege.com/archives/11155
Have you heard the secret to gift shopping for your loved ones? Something they want, Something they need, Something to wear, and Something to read! You can give people their “something to read”! It’s no secret that the holiday season is one of the busiest shopping times of the year. Make the most of book sales in preparation for winter! Events Develop activities and presentations that tie your book into a holiday theme. If your book is about baking, host a holiday cookie baking class. If your book is about dogs, host a talk about dangers that dogs may face during the holidays that they may not at other times, like chocolate under the Christmas tree. If your book is a memoir, prepare a talk about how religion affected your childhood, especially holidays. Attend holiday events that have been planned by other people, like holiday craft shows or winter book fairs. Drive Sales Offer discounts on your cover price or offer free shipping. Black Friday is November 29. Cyber Monday is December 2. Here at Brandylane, we offer a sale that lasts all of Thanksgiving weekend, Thursday through Monday, to make the most of these events. Offer bonuses with the purchase of your book like: Downloadable content. Games, coloring pages, or learning materials are great options, especially for kids’ books. A free ebook with the purchase of a print book. Sell only autographed copies of your book. Special gift wrapping, perhaps with themed paper, either as part of the package or at an added cost. Discounted or free shipping, or free local dropoff. Include bookmarks, printed coloring sheets, or other paper goods with a purchase. Include an ornament, candy, or other holiday item that ties into your book -- or just as a fun bonus! Promote Online Boost a holiday-themed post on Facebook or Instagram using a fun, seasonal graphic. We recommend utilizing Canva to easily create eye-catching graphics! Add holiday decor to your website to make it jazzy and up to date. Post social media pics of your book(s) with holiday decor. Send out a holiday e-blast to subscribers that frame your book(s) as a holiday gift. Host an Instagram giveaway. (See Marketing Tip #25 to learn more about Instagram giveaways.) Host a literary advent calendar! Offer twelve days of gifty content. Host twelve giveaways with different prizes: Paperback Hardcover Ebook Gift card Journal Anything else literary! Host twelve days of different deals: Free ebook download Free shipping 25% off the cover price Anything else you can think of! Simply run an advent-themed campaign where you post twelve pictures of the same theme across twelve days. Your twelve favorite books Twelve books you’ve read this year Twelve winter book pictures
If you’re on Instagram, a giveaway can be an effective way to connect with your followers and develop your following. If you’re new to Instagram, a giveaway can help you to get a lot of followers quickly by attracting people to your profile. A giveaway can also help spread the word about your book by familiarizing people with its cover image. This is a great way to build a buzz around your book before or after its release. Decide what to give away. You can give away: a signed copy of your book any other book(s) selections from your bookshelf (winner’s choice from your bookshelf or from a specific stack you’ve curated for this purpose) bookish accessories (like bookmarks, book sleeves, or bookish merch) a gift card to a retailer (like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, etc.) General giveaways often have more appeal. People participate more when the prize is monetary and they can choose their own book in some way. However, giving away your own book will center all of the buzz around your work. Which works best for you? Figure out the logistics. Once you figure out what you are going to give away, it’s time to make some other important decisions. The most important one is deciding on a timeline. How long and when are you going to run this giveaway? Generally, we do not recommend running a contest for more than seven days. Most interest is drummed up in the first week, and after that it fades away. How will you keep your entries organized? This is especially important if you are going to permit bonus entries that include disappearing actions like posting to stories, as opposed to permanent posts you can return to later. Some people use spreadsheets or digital or written lists of all entries and assign each entrant a number. No matter your preference, you’ll need an easy way to randomly choose a giveaway winner when the time comes. What works for you? Where will this giveaway take place? If you want to host an international giveaway, be sure to familiarize yourself with international shipping rates. Some giveaway items, like a digital Amazon gift card, can be distributed anywhere, but shipping a hardcover book to Greenland may cost more than you would like to pay. If you don’t want to offer international shipping, be sure to state in the rules that this giveaway is only open to residents of your country. Develop rules for the entrants. Post clear and comprehensive rules for a giveaway to provide entrants with a straightforward understanding of what they have to do to win. LIKE-FOLLOW-COMMENT is the golden rule of Instagram giveaways. Here is an example of the rules for this typical giveaway structure: In order to participate: LIKE the post FOLLOW @brandylanepublishers *please do not follow to unfollow* COMMENT and tag 1-3 friends who would be interested in the giveaway. Instead of asking entrants to comment and tag friends, you can ask them to comment which book they would choose if they won, or answer a question related to the book you are giving away. (For example, if you were giving away a fantasy book, you could ask what special power they would have.) Bonus entries can be fun, but don’t forget that you will have to keep track of them diligently. Here are some examples of bonus entry options: Bonus Entries: SHARE the post in your story. You must TAG @brandylanepublishers for a bonus entry to count! SIGN UP for the Brandylane mailing list using the link in our bio *notify us via DM once completed* Tag up to 10 additional friends for one bonus entry per tag. Though not technically a “rule,” you will want to draft a brief disclaimer to post along with the rules. Here is an example of a giveaway disclaimer: Giveaway is not associated with Instagram/Amazon/Book Depository. Must be 18 or have parental consent to enter. Giveaway ends ______ at _____ EST. List the date and the time the giveaway will close, and don’t forget to include your time zone, since IG connects people all around the globe. If you have any other restrictions on who can win, be sure to add those: This giveaway is only open to residents of the US and Canada. Must be able to receive shipments from Amazon or Book Depository. Launch the giveaway. On your start date, share a post to let people know your giveaway has started! Share a picture of the prizes or another related picture. In the comments, post the comprehensive rules. Don’t forget to hashtag! Take a look at other people’s book giveaway posts that have had a lot of interaction and emulate their tags. Consider coming up with your own hashtag for the giveaway, like #brandysummergiveaway. Once you post your master giveaway post, share in your Instagram story and on other social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. The goal is for as many people as possible to learn about your giveaway! Promote and maintain the giveaway. Promote the giveaway daily in your Instagram stories to let people know it’s still going on. You can also share another regular post about your giveaway. Be sure to indicate if people have to enter on the original post, or if they can enter through followup posts. Continue to share on other social media platforms as well. Keep track of entries, especially if you are accepting bonus entries for things you may not remember or be able to access later. Stay organized, and you will thank yourself when you’re trying to pick a winner. You’re probably getting a lot of notifications by now, but it’s important not to disable your notifications. Stay diligent about checking your Instagram account regularly. If someone asks a question about the giveaway, answer within a few hours. When new people follow you, check out their accounts and follow them back if you like what you see. The best part about giveaways is making a ton of fun, new connections! Close the giveaway. When the giveaway ends, post right away to let your followers know it’s closed. If you’re closing your giveaway in the middle of the night, schedule that post using a tool like Buffer. Go back to your original giveaway post and add a line at the top: ***GIVEAWAY CLOSED***. Be sure not to accept entries that are posted after this time. When you’re ready to choose a winner, you may choose to assign entrants numbers and draw a random number. (If one person did bonus entries, add their name additional times under additional numbers.) You may have some other way you want to select a winner. However you do it, be sure to check to make sure the winner followed all of the contest rules. If they didn’t, keep drawing until you find someone who did. Once you find a winner, share them with the world! Have fun with this part. Maybe do a video with a random number generator picking the winner, or do it on Instagram Live. There are a ton of different ways you can draw in an audience with this. After you reveal the winner, message them individually to let them know they have won. Ask for any information you need (choice of book, shipping address, favorite color, etc.) and let them know how long they have to respond before another winner is chosen (24-72 hours is a good window for this.) Not everyone checks their Instagram every day, but you should not have to wait forever. Send the winner their reward! Make this fun! Wrap their book, add a thank-you card, and use stamps or stickers to decorate. Make the winner remember you and this wonderfully fun giveaway they have won! The prettier their package is, the more likely they are to share about it on their own accounts when they receive it. That’s a whole new audience for you and your book. Instagram giveaways can be complicated, so planning is key. They are a surefire way to build your audience, spread the word about yourself or your book, and connect with “Bookstagrammers” in a way everyone can get excited about.
Brandylane Publicity has heard the same question from authors a hundred times over: “Should I pursue this marketing opportunity?” Whether it’s a paid review site, social media opportunity, festival, or something else, the answer is usually the same—We don’t know if this one path is right for you. We never want to recommend you spend time and resources trying to garner publicity from entities we’re not sure about. Odds are, we haven’t heard of them before, as there are a million and one ways to market your book, and Brandylane can only approach a select list of contacts that pack a punch. But lack of experience with a company, blog, or advertiser doesn’t mean we can’t make an educated decision about it. Below, we’re going to teach you how to analyze new marketing opportunities yourself to make informed decisions. We use Publisher’s Weekly (PW) as our example throughout, but you probably already know that PW is a very popular resource for publishers and authors to seek reviews, both free and paid. We submit all of our new releases to PW. What’s the best that could happen? What’s the worst? When considering a new publicity avenue, start by comparing the potential outcomes with the risks. Sending a digital copy of your book to an Instagram reviewer who may not review it is low risk. You’re sending free files digitally, and the worst-case scenario is they might ignore you. Submitting a book to PW takes about ten minutes and costs nothing, so that’s low-risk with the potential for high reward, since PW is well circulated. On the other hand, sending large amounts of money to an unknown third-party publicist is high risk. They could take your money and disappear. Money isn’t the only thing you could risk. You may be risking time, your privacy, or even your reputation if this publication misrepresents you in some way. However, these things cost money much of the time, and if someone is scamming you, odds are they’re in it for the money. Even if someone is not intentionally scamming you, the opportunity they're offering may not be the best use of your time and resources. Read on to learn how to evaluate marketing opportunities as they come to you. Approach technology critically In school, you learned to read critically. It’s important that you approach digital technology with the same critical eye. If you are considering sending your book to a blog or paying an online company to run ads for you, take a close look at them. What does their website look like? Is professionally designed and well organized? Are there grammatical or formatting errors? Is it hard to find concrete information, like what services in particular will be provided, or where they are located? Is it aesthetically pleasing? While busy, the Publisher’s Weekly website is organized, grammatical, and easy to navigate. It’s obvious right away that they do a lot of business with a lot of affiliates, which indicates that authors trust them. Search further. Most bloggers and companies have social media accounts. Inspect these closely. If a company promises to promote your book on their social media accounts, they should have a considerable following to make it worth your time and money. Don’t send your review copy to a Bookstagrammer with only 75 followers. There are Bookstagrammers out there who have 75k followers and will happily review your book. PW has 165,000 followers on Facebook and 778,000 on Twitter, but only about 1,000 followers on Instagram. Clearly, this business focuses on Facebook and Twitter, which is common for larger companies, especially because PW only accepts digital copies, which do not photograph well for Instagram. Based on social media following alone, PW is a good company. Ask questions If you are unsure about pursuing a promotional avenue, contact them and ask questions. Anyone can Google Brandylane’s phone number, call our office, and ask questions about the submission process, book production, printing, publicity, and more. While not everyone is available by phone these days, you should be able to fill out a contact form or track down an email on a company’s website to ask your questions. Be specific. “Will you get my book featured on blogs?” is not the same question as “How many blogs can you guarantee will feature my book? What kinds of followings will they have?” If you like, you can even ask for references. If they can’t provide any, perhaps you can find your own. Read on . . . Ask around For starters, Googling “[company name] scam” can often yield helpful results. Pro tip: You can use this method for anything in your life you suspect may not be completely safe. If a website or company is a scam, odds are, you’re not the first person to encounter them, and other people will have shared their experiences online. In the same vein, if you Google a company and little to no information populates, that lack of online presence should be a signal to you to steer clear. Just because something is not a scam doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a good route, though. Rather than asking if a certain opportunity is a scam, ask other people if they’ve had experience with the company or person in question. This can be as easy as a Google search or asking a friend. Word your searches carefully: “Publisher’s Weekly reviews” will yield review articles from PW itself. However, “Using Publisher’s Weekly as an author” may give you better access to other authors’ experiences. If Google isn’t your style or isn’t giving you helpful results, ask fellow authors or people who may have had experience in this field. Ask questions in online author groups like those on Facebook. (If you haven’t joined the Brandylane Publishers and Belle Isle Books Authors FB group yet, you should!), Alternately, ask the internet at large by posting your question on Twitter or Reddit. “Has anyone tried submitting to #PublishersWeekly? Thoughts?” If someone who has had a bad experience reads your message, they’ll probably want to let you know. Final Words We are still more than happy to help you figure out if an opportunity is right for you. At Brandylane, we pride ourselves on offering unparalleled personal attention to our authors. However, we want to give our authors the tools they need to publicize their own books, when possible. If you take the steps outlined above and you’re still not sure what path to take, then of course—reach out and ask.