The Power of Byline Articles for Fiction and Non-Fiction Book Marketing
By Sandra Poirier Smith
Whether working on your own or with a publicist, a byline article is an excellent book marketing tool to help build or continue to build your expertise, credibility, and brand.
What is a Byline Article?
A byline article is about 700-900 words and filled with actionable items, ideas, how-to, case studies, etc. showcasing an author’s advice and expertise. The article is typically published in its entirety by print or online outlets with the author given full credit as the writer, usually with a brief bio and book title.
Byline articles are designed to entice readers to want to learn more. After reading an article, readers can then share the article on social media, buy the book, engage the author on social media, sign up for a newsletter, visit the author’s website, and/or hire the author to speak, consult, etc. Byline articles links are incredibly valuable to add to an author’s website, retweet/post on social media platforms, use for credibility in marketing efforts “as featured in TIME magazine,” and help with search engine optimization of an author’s name and brand.
Audience and Message
There are two important items to consider before writing an article: who is the target audience and what information do you want to share with them? For the best chance of securing placements, the article needs to be tailored to the demographics of the media outlet. For example:
- If you have a health/nutrition book and want to reach parenting interest readers to build your brand with new moms, then gear tips just for them, perhaps “exercising with infants” or “healthy food choices that will entice both adults and”
- If you are a small business tax expert and want to get the attention of restaurant owners, then write an article with information geared just for this audience. Even if the advice is the same basic principles that may be offered to other small business owners, tailor the article to the needs of this specific reader.
How and Where to Submit Byline Articles
If you are working with a book publicist, he or she then presents articles to editors at print and online media outlets for consideration. While household name media is always welcomed, don’t forget the power of the smaller, highly focused online and trade publications. If authors are pitching directly, research the outlet, the demographic, and send an introduction email. Here is an article from Contently.net with tips to help writers pitch on their own.
Byline Articles for Non-Fiction Authors
Non-fiction titles lend themselves beautifully for articles. For inspiration, authors can look to chapters in their book (sometimes chapter titles make great article titles), or expand on popular blog entries, which are typically shorter in length. Popular articles themes, across all genres, include:
- productivity tips—doing things better or more efficiently,
- learning the inside secrets of experts, and
- specific and actionable tips that result in increasing personal happiness/decreasing stress
Byline Articles for Fiction Authors
For fiction titles, authors and publicists need to be a bit more creative. For example, a romance book could offer an article to a local newspaper on the 7 most romantic locations in the city name. If a book is set in New Orleans with a chef as main character, a byline article geared for travel and food media outlets could be 10 cafes to sample New Oreleans’ best coffee or an article on recipes from the region, perhaps sent prior to Mardi Gras for a nice tie-in. If the fiction project is a children’s picture book about bullying and self-esteem, a byline article could feature specific tips parents can share with their five to seven year olds.
Author Guideline for Writing Byline Articles
There is a general format and style editors look for when reviewing byline article submissions. Here the guidelines:
- The article should be 700-900 words.
- The article should NOT be self-promoting in anyway. Don’t use “I”, “me”, “my” etc.
- The book should not be mentioned in the body of the article. However, include the book, author website, etc. should be part of the author bio. Also offer an author photo and book cover.
- The article should be strictly fact-based, and not opinion based (that’s an op-ed).
- The article should provide the reader actionable information they can easily apply.
- The article should be well organized.
- Tips, how-to, or numbers articles are favorites among the media as they keep an article organized.
- Use bullet points to make it easy for the reader to find valuable information to take with them. Example: 5 exercises to do at your desk to get you in tip-top shape for summer, 10 steps to save for your toddler’s college education, 7 biggest mistakes author make when designing their book cover
- The article should provide new information to the media, something that isn’t obvious.
- Going against conventional wisdom makes an article appealing.
- The topic should be applicable to all different types of people (unless writing an article for a very specific niche market) and easy to understand.
- It should be catchy, and, unless dealing with a very serious subject, don’t be afraid to have fun with the topic!
- Be honest. Some media outlets want exclusive, never before published articles. Never lie. If the article has already been published, offer the outlet ideas for a new and exclusive article.
The goal of a byline article is to get an author’s name and expertise out to their target audiences, and entice people to want to learn more. The key to successful placements is to think about the media outlet’s target reader and gear the article specifically for this audience to make it as easy as possible for editors to say yes to running the article. Once published, byline article links are excellent, credential- building assets to add to an author’s website and social media platforms, and also helps to grow the author’s digital footprint and brand.
7 Tips to Finding the Right Designer for Your Book
by Tamara Dever and Erin Stark
Why do I need to hire a professional?
A book’s cover and interior design have a great deal to do with whether reviewers and buyers investigate a title further. In fact, professional design can be critical to your book’s sales success.
Design goes way beyond aesthetics. It’s a tried and true sales tool—a means of conveying information and getting the attention of buyers. When used properly, it reflects and elevates your message.
Because design is so important, you’ll want to be sure you work with an experienced designer who specializes in covers. Where can you find that person? What information do you need to provide to ensure the design efforts’ success?
DESIGNED FOR BOOKS
Just as engineers specialize in different fields such as electrical or mechanical design, graphic artists usually have more experience with one kind of project than another. Be sure to work with someone who specializes in book design. While most graphic designers could help you with at least some aspects of creating a book, one who specializes in books will be able to guide you through the whole process and provide the experience and knowledge that can help you avoid hassles and save you both time and money.
THE RIGHT ONE FOR YOU
How do you find that perfect designer to add to your publishing team? Ask other publishers and authors whose covers you admire. You can find many publishing association websites offering great resource listings. Most printers, PR firms, and editors can recommend the right designer as well.
- Look at many samples of a designer’s work. If you can’t visualize your book within that work, don’t hire her. Most designers have a range of abilities, but won’t be comfortable drastically changing their style for one project and your book will suffer for it.
- Talk to the designer and listen to your gut feeling. This may seem obvious, but if you don’t click right away, don’t hire them!
- Talk with other clients. Ask specific questions such as: Was your deadline ever in jeopardy because of the designer? Why? What was done to remedy the problem?
- How many front cover designs were you given? If you provided any initial ideas, were they built upon or discarded completely? (A good designer will do at least one layout using your idea and others with her own.)
- Find out how many years of experience she has and how many books she has designed. Does she know the elements of a book cover or interior? Does she know how designing a hardcover book cover is different from designing a paperback? Make sure the designer also has production experience. Can she handle getting the files into pre-press properly? Ask to speak with printers that have worked with the designer you are considering.
- Keep in mind that designers are not usually illustrators. Illustrators draw or paint custom pictures to be used on a book cover or within the text. Designers pull together all the elements of a cover or page — this could include stock or custom illustrations or photographs, embellishments, colors, and all text — to create an overall design that is visually pleasing and, above all, sellable.
- Sign a written contract with the designer. It is not wise to work with a designer who doesn’t use a contract. The contract should cover exactly what will be produced for you, the timeline for production, and the agreed-upon cost. Unless the contract specifically states that ownership is being transferred, the designer will automatically own the design he creates. Note that the design firm often reserves unlimited rights to use images of the cover and interior pages for their promotional purposes.
Have you seen a stereotypical “self-published” book? Don’t let your book become one of those! It’s tempting to spend a few hundred dollars for a finished cover, but…Don’t do it! Do you really want to find out that nobody wants to distribute, promote, or buy your book because it hasn’t been produced properly? Do you then want to spend more time and another couple thousand to get it done right the second time? Trust me, it happens all of the time and breaks our hearts. Expect to pay a flat fee of roughly $1,500 to $3,000 for a good cover and between $10 and $25 per page for quality interior layout. It IS worth every penny when you choose to work with a reputable firm.
MAKING A GRAND APPEARANCE
In all, you’ll get better sales results and the respect you deserve with high-quality cover and interior designs and great end-product becomes a sure thing when you hire a carefully-selected, experienced book designer paired with a gifted editor and a great PR team who, together, have your best interest at heart.
Tamara Dever is the founder of TLC Graphics, an award-winning book design and production firm with biblical values providing customized support to small publishers with big dreams. This premier team takes manuscripts through editorial, design, printing, and beyond to create beautiful, salable books. Tamara is a board member of SPAWN, mentors aspiring designers, and has authored articles and presented classes on book design and self-publishing for over ten years. You’ll find their portfolio at TLCGraphics.com. Tamara resides in Austin, TX with her husband and business partner, Tom, their two children, two dogs and a horse.
Erin Stark is an award-winning interior book design specialist with over 18 years of experience. She is an invaluable member of the TLC Graphics team and has been presenting classes on book design and self-publishing for more than ten years. Erin lives in Olathe, KS with her husband Brian, has two children, and a number of foster kittens at any given time.
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