Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Is Your Manuscript REALLY at the Editing Stage?

So you’ve been working on your novel night and day for months (or even years) and you’re sure you’re ready to send your manuscript off to an editor. But are you really? Before even thinking about searching for an editor, you need to determine first what kind of edit you think your manuscript needs.

© 2018, Susan Barton Marketing

Know Exactly What Type of Editing You Need

The first thing authors need to know is that there are different stages of manuscript editing. Authors who do not familiarize and educate themselves with the different stages of editing are doing themselves, as well as any professional editors they choose to work with, a grave disservice. Expecting a proofreader or even a copy editor to do the work of a developmental editor is unfair to everyone.

Fully Understand the Role of Author and Editor

Understanding the author's role in the writing and editing process is crucial to the success of any book. A manuscript should never be considered complete until the author himself has edited, revised, corrected and perfected the work as much as possible. It is not the editor’s job to rewrite a poorly written manuscript. Ever. Sending a manuscript to an editor that is full of typos, misspellings, improper syntax, plot holes, repetitious phrases, and unclear dialogue is just plain laziness on an author’s part. Keeping in mind that you’re paying for an editor’s time should keep things in check. In other words, the more you correct your manuscript prior to sending it to an editor, the less expensive your cost will be. Unless you’re prepared to pay dearly for a deep, line by line developmental edit you should take care of any manuscript issues long before submitting it for editing.

Be Prepared to Pay for a Full Professional Edit

Understanding that editors are just as human as authors are is a key factor to bear in mind. Editors are not infallible beings, nor are they are 100% accurate 100% of the time. The only way to ensure that a manuscript is just about perfect is to put it through each individual editing phase. This includes, first and foremost, a developmental edit, followed by a copy edit and then finally a proofread. But be prepared to pay dearly for this multi-stage process. Editing is not an inexpensive endeavor. Expecting to receive a super duper deal from a one-stop service provider and then complaining about it after the fact is irresponsible.

If you don’t understand the difference between a developmental edit and a copy edit or a proofread then you need to find out long before you approach an editor. This is not only for the editor’s benefit; it’s also for the author’s benefit. Why would you pay for a deep edit when perhaps a less costly proofread will suffice?

In Conclusion

The relationship between author and editor can be a collaborative match made in heaven or it can be a problematic endeavor, fraught with misunderstandings and hard feelings. Fully understanding the editing process and knowing your options before proceeding is the first step to ensuring your experience is the former and not the latter.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Why Authors Should Stop Worrying About Book Reviews So Much

You may be confused about the title of this post. Aren’t we, as authors, supposed to be striving to get as many reviews as possible? My answer is yes and no. Don’t get me wrong, reviews are great. Potential readers do still check out reviews when considering book purchases, but not nearly as often as they once did. (More on that topic below) 

My intention with this post is to help authors who are spending more time asking for book reviews than doing actual promotional work. What? There’s more to being an author than writing and publishing a book and then sitting back waiting for the reviews to roll in? YES, there most definitely is.

© 2018, Susan Barton Marketing

First, let’s start with the top two reasons why many authors spend so much time trying to get book reviews:

1. Thinking Lots of Reviews Boost Amazon Rankings

You’ve probably been told that more Amazon reviews mean a higher Amazon ranking, which hopefully transfers to more book sales.

If you know anything about Amazon’s algorithms, then you know that much more than reviews factor into a book’s (or any Amazon product's) ranking. And, when I say reviews, I mean VERIFIED reviews. Unverified reviews do not count toward a product's ranking. Anyway, who says that high rankings on Amazon should be your ultimate goal as an author? There’s more to authorship than pleasing the Amazon gods.

2. Thinking Readers Rely Heavily on Amazon Reviews

At one point, Amazon reviews definitely held a lot of weight with consumers. Amazon was, at one time, the go-to website for consumers who were on the fence about purchasing products. That just isn’t the case anymore. A recent study shows that consumers have become increasingly wary of Amazon reviews for a number of reasons. The persistent issue of paid, incentivized and outright fake Amazon reviews has consumers more cautious than ever.

I've also come across authors who go about getting those oh so golden reviews in all the wrong ways. What are some of those "wrong" ways? Here are my top three:

1. Relying Too Much on Book Bloggers

Far too many authors write a book, upload it to Amazon, and then contact dozens of book bloggers to ask them for reviews. Then they sit back and call it a day. This is an incredibly lazy way to promote your books. There. I said it. This lazy self-promotion never ceases to baffle me. Marketing a book takes a TON of time and effort and expecting busy book bloggers to do it for you is just plain wrong.

Aside from the fact that book bloggers have super busy lives (most don’t simply sit around reading and reviewing books – they have actual 9 to 5 jobs too), their TBR lists are often extremely long AND they almost never charge to read and review books. They’re doing authors a favor, not the other way around. And, remember, unverified reviews do not factor into Amazon’s rankings, so if you’re offering free copies to book bloggers in exchange for reviews it’s not going to do you all that much good anyway. And if you're considering gifting free books via an Amazon gift card that won't do you any good anyway - this is most definitely considered an incentivized review by Amazon. 

2. Relying on Book Giveaways

Many authors resort to giveaways as a way to get reviews. Unfortunately, there are a few reasons for not doing this. For example, there have been indications that Goodreads giveaways are rife with unscrupulous entrants who enter as many giveaways as possible and the books they do win end up for sale on eBay and elsewhere. That means you’ve given your book away so someone else can profit from it. No reviews there. Even honest contest entrants rarely bother to review the books they’ve won.

3. Relying on Book Review Tours and Pay for Review Sites

Similarly, we see authors who opt to take their books on Book Review Tours with any of the zillions of tour service providers who’ve sprung up over the past couple or so years. Guess what? Any reviews you garner via a tour that you’ve paid for (even if the service provider’s hosts do not get any compensation) is considered an incentivized review by Amazon and has the potential of being removed in a heartbeat. It can even get you kicked off of Amazon if they decide to really be meanies.

Then there are the pay-for-review and so-called book award websites, which still seem to be deemed acceptable by Amazon. Award sites like Readers Favorite and pay-for-review sites like Kirkus come to mind. Paying for a book award just doesn't sit right with me, as a reader and a consumer. Besides, do you really want to pay hundreds of dollars for one lukewarm review that's mostly your book's synopsis? And Fiverr? Don’t even get me started on that can of worms.

So then, what are some of the things you SHOULD be doing to get your book some promotional buzz? Here are my top two and as you’ll see, they’re not difficult and they should go without saying but apparently, it still needs to be said here.


I’ve talked about this so many times, but I’ll say it again. You HAVE TO GET SOCIAL on social media. No one is going to miraculously stumble upon your book. It just isn’t going to happen. You need to be active on every social media platform you can possibly manage. And this does not mean every one of your posts should be about you, screaming at followers to buy your amazing new book. It means genuinely engaging in meaningful, mutually beneficial conversations with actual people.

You should also get social in real life as well. One author I know makes a point of telling everyone, everywhere he goes – even cashiers, receptionists and wait staff – about his books. And guess what? It pays off. People check out his books, download them, and read them and sometimes they even leave reviews. When you have media kits prepared, printed and ready to distribute, you can hand them out everywhere you go.

You can still reach out to book bloggers, but offer them something of value in return. High quality, original author guest posts and interviews make excellent blog content for busy book bloggers to share with their readers. 


This should definitely be a no-brainer. The more books you write, the more readers will take you seriously as an author. It really is that simple.


Ask yourself why reviews are so important to you, before you start spending all your time on your book review quest. Are you looking to become independently wealthy? That’s highly unlikely to happen, since independent publishing is filled with writers all clamoring to have their books read. The competition is far too overwhelming. Do you need the praise, accolades and fame that might come with writing a bestselling blockbuster and you’ll do absolutely anything to get it? There are others ways to get there, but they do require a ton of work on your part as an author.

If you really, REALLY want to become a famous author with a huge following then roll up your sleeves and stop expecting everyone else to do the work for you. How?

Every author should do these things long before their books are even uploaded or printed:

  • Make sure your book is amazing and ready for readers. Your plot, characters, dialogue, etc. had better be spectacular or it’s time to go back to the writing board. 
  • Make sure your manuscript is impeccably edited and properly formatted. 
  • Make sure your cover image is eye-catching and accurately reflects your book.

If your book has been passed over by potential readers repeatedly or if, even worse, you’ve been getting negative feedback then it’s time to reexamine your work to see if it really is you and not them. Readers know when a book just isn’t up to snuff and they’re not afraid to tell you. Go back over your book and check to be sure that your book is as near to perfect as it can possibly be. Then it's time to get social and sit down to write another book!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Challenge Yourself Every Day to Market Your Book – 31 Days of Book Marketing Tasks

Book marketing is much more manageable if you challenge yourself every day to try at least one new thing to market your book. Sitting around, waiting for readers to first find, read and review your book is a waste of your valuable time. Complaining that sales and reviews are slow is counterproductive to your book marketing efforts. Even when you delegate some of the marketing to outside sources, you still need to be proactive about marketing your own book.

Below are a month’s worth of things you can do each day to market your book. Some are simple and quick and some require a bit more work. It’s up to you to decide how much effort you’re willing to put into your daily marketing tasks.

  1. Conduct a Google search for book blogs that spotlight your genre
  2. Search Amazon for book reviewers who’ve reviewed books in your genre
  3. Schedule a free promotion
  4. Start or work on your author blog
  5. Join a Goodreads group and introduce yourself
  6. Join a LinkedIn group and introduce yourself
  7. Write a LinkedIn article that does not promote your book
  8. Write a character interview
  9. Fine-tune your book blurb
  10. Build your newsletter mailing list
  11. Schedule social media posts
  12. Create a Goodreads giveaway
  13. Write a press release
  14. Write a guest post
  15. Create a media kit
  16. Record a podcast
  17. Make a video
  18. Schedule a bookstore book reading
  19. Search for social media influencers
  20. Create a slideshow
  21. Design bookmarks
  22. Design business cards
  23. Have a photo shoot
  24. Rewrite your Amazon book description
  25. Plan a promo event with other authors in your genre
  26. Update your author website
  27. Update your social media bios and graphics
  28. Update your email signature
  29. Set up a speaking engagement at your local library
  30. Create a Rafflecopter giveaway
  31. Brainstorm new book ideas

If you're overwhelmed with book marketing let me know. I can help! Submit a contact form here to get started. 

Friday, April 13, 2018


When we last saw Wyatt Baldwin and his high school buddies they were battling werewolves, zombies and vampires in Monsterland Book 1. Things got pretty dicey for Wyatt and friends and readers weren't sure what horrors were yet to come.

Just in time for Friday the 13th, evil madman Vincent Konrad is back and he's perfected a slew of unique and dangerous monsters to unleash on a world that's been left in devastation and turmoil. 

Author Michael Okon promises that Monsterland Reanimated is bigger and badder than ever before!



Michael Okon, Author

Author Michael Okon has released the follow up sequel to the monster hit, Monsterland. Monsterland Reanimated will be available today, Friday, April 13 on Amazon.com.

Long Island, New York, April 13, 2018 – Author and screenwriter Michael Okon is happy to let readers know that the second installment of the Monsterland book series is available for purchase today. Already a hit series among his dedicated readers, Book 2, Monsterland Reanimated, promises to be even scarier than Book 1.

The cast of characters readers came to know and love (and sometimes hate) are back. Michael assures us we'll hear from Wyatt, Howard, Keisha, Melvin, Jade, Carter, Igor, and of course, head villain Dr. Vincent Konrad. “The gang is all back…bigger and badder than ever. There are even some new characters I introduce that will be integral in the series,” Michael says.

There’s a new collection of monsters for our heroes to contend with. The Glob, Mummies and even a Reanimated Behemoth make a frightening appearance. Readers are also introduced to some unexpected heroes, and taken on several action-packed chase scenes. A few new enemies add to the edge-of-your-seat plot. Readers will also get to see what was underneath Monsterland.

When asked what inspired him to write a sequel, Okon says, “Monsterland is evergreen. It’s never going to end for me or for my faithful readers. I knew once I wrapped up Book 1, I was already ruminating about Book 2. Right now, I’m almost done with Book 3 and hard at work on Books 4, 5, and 6. I already have the names of new monsters for each series.” Okon says there’s also another romantic twist, but readers will have to read the book to find out more on that.


About Michael Okon

Michael Okon is an award-winning and best-selling author of multiple genres including paranormal, thriller, horror, action/adventure and self-help. He graduated from Long Island University with a degree in English, and then later received his MBA in business and finance.

Coming from a family of writers, he has storytelling in his DNA. Michael has been writing from as far back as he can remember, his inspiration being his love for films and their impact on his life. From the time he saw The Goonies, he was hooked on the idea of entertaining people through unforgettable characters.

Michael is a lifelong movie buff, a music playlist aficionado, and a sucker for self-help books. He lives on the North Shore of Long Island with his wife and children.

Readers can connect with Michael via social media @iammichaelokon and on his author website.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Are Blog Tours Dead?

I contribute to several online writers’ groups and I recently spotted a thread titled “Are Blog Tours Dead?” Savvy authors are always looking for newer, better ways to market and promote their books, and they’re often cautious of using services they’re either unfamiliar with or skeptical of. For years, the Blog Tour aka Book Tour (terms used interchangeably) was the go-to marketing method for authors. Are they dead? In a word, YES.

To clarify my Yes answer, I’ll say this – the traditional book/blog tour is dead. Why? For a couple of very important reasons:

Book bloggers are tired of them.

Traditional tours have absolutely no pay off for the blogger. They’re time-consuming, spammy and have the potential of getting a blog shut down…for good. Google considers the typical cut and paste, HTML-provided tour content to be nothing but spam and punishes them by burying them in Google searches.

WordPress.com goes even further. They give no warnings if they find blogs that post this spammy content on WordPress.com blogs. They’ll shut you down, no warning, no questions…period. All your hard work will be gone in the blink of an eye, never to be recovered.

Readers are tired of them.

Readers and blog visitors are tuning them out. Traditional cut and paste tours all look alike. They bring nothing new to potential book readers. Wading through spammy post after post is tedious, uninteresting and boring to readers.

So what is the ideal alternative to the typical cut and paste, spammy book/blog tour then?

Promoting your book with an all-original, custom designed online book marketing campaign is still the perfect way to bring something new, informational and interesting to your potential readers. It provides book bloggers with high-quality, engaging content for their readers, while allowing them a day off from posting. 

Taking the time to share never before published, high-quality content will produce a much higher ROI for you. Sure it takes more effort than simply distributing cookie cutter HTML code to a bunch of disinterested bloggers, but isn’t your success as an author worth the extra effort?

If you’re unsure of, or overwhelmed with, the prospect of creating, scheduling and monitoring a high-quality book marketing campaign let me know. I can help! Submit a contact form here to get started.

Monday, March 12, 2018

A Haunting On Long Island Ghostly Celebration and Author Interview with Michael Phillip Cash

Who says you have to wait until Halloween to enjoy a good ghost story? Not us! And, why just stop at one ghost story? How about FOUR AWESOME tales of spirits, hauntings and creepy happenings? That's what readers will get with Michael Phillip Cash's four book series A Haunting on Long Island. 

Michael Phillip Cash is an author who's taken a life-long love of all things creepy and scary and woven them into a series of ghostly novels. The series includes:

  • Stillwell
  • The After House
  • The Flip
  • Pokergeist

I asked Michael a few questions about his books and here's what he had to say...

Name your favorite television ghost and explain your choice.

Ghost Adventures. Those guys have guts and they take you in to the history of each location. A lot of my stories were inspired by their adventures. They’ve visited some incredibly haunted and scary locations over the years. I never miss an episode of Ghost Adventures!

What has been the most difficult thing about self-publishing your books?

You can’t expect to get rich – at least not right away. You’re not going to buy a yacht or a private plane on the royalties. You really have to love what you’re doing. Write to express yourself. Keeping this in mind can be tough when sales are in a slump, but once you breakthrough and begin making progress anything is possible.

What has been the best thing about self-publishing your books?

Thinking about buying a yacht or private plane one day. But seriously, having the opportunity to do something I really love doing – expressing myself through my writing – has been awesome. Connecting with my readers and followers is also incredibly gratifying.

What’s your best advice for other self-published authors?

Keep writing books. Then publicize the hell out of yourself. You are a brand. Make yourself well known and people will find your books. Use social media ad nauseum. These are the best ways I know of when it comes to be making it as a self-published author.

Michael Phillip Cash is the author of the four-book series A Haunting on Long Island. Readers can connect with Michael on his website and Facebook.



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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Five Reasons Why Authors Lose Social Media Followers

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last five or so years, chances are you’re well acquainted with tweets, shares and followers. Social media has become overwhelmingly beneficial when it comes to branding ourselves. Every author should be using social media as a marketing tool.

If you’re not contributing your content to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and all those other social media platforms then stop what you’re doing and sign up for accounts immediately. If you’ve already been using social media to market, brand and promote yourself and your books then kudos to you.

However, are you using those platforms responsibly? If you’re finding yourself losing too many followers then it’s time to check yourself. Here are my top five mistakes that just might be causing you to lose social media followers.

1. Not posting often enough.

Your followers made a conscious decision to follow you. Don’t make them go days or weeks without hearing from you. They’ll begin to think you’ve stopped writing books and you don’t want that. Consistent posts keep followers engaged and involved.

2. Posting too often

Just as there is too little posting, there’s also too much posting. Many people site too many posts as a major reason to unfollow someone. Strive for a happy medium. However, remember that not all social media platforms are created equal. For example, posting several tweets to Twitter a day is acceptable, while one or two Facebook posts per day are best.

3. Being too promotional

If all your social media shares are about you…guess what? You’re going to be dumped. No one wants to hear the same sales pitch several posts in a row and no one wants to read your “buy my awesome book” tweet over and over again. Switch things up by sharing posts that include interesting content that doesn’t relate directly to you or your book.

4. Being political or religious

Unless your book is about politics or religion, then heed the age old advice – don’t discuss politics or religion in your social media posts. Regardless of where your political and/or religious views fall, chances are excellent that you’ll end up alienating someone. That will get you unfollowed in a heartbeat.

5. Being all things to all people

Try to keep your social media posts geared toward a specific theme. If your thing is writing, books, authors, literature…you have plenty of material to work with, without having to go off in several different directions. Your followers will come to expect certain content from you, which will eventually position you as an authority in your field. Posting an occasional photo of your dog, cat or meal is fine, but it’s best to keep those to a minimum.

If you’re overwhelmed with social media content creation and management let me know. I can help. Submit a contact form here to get started.