Thursday, March 10, 2016

Ask PZM: March 2016 Q & A

Q:  Where on the web can I best use the cover of my book(s)?

Before I answer this question, let me say that I am assuming your book cover – whether ebook or physical book cover – has at a minimum a title and author name that can be easily read in the small photo sizes that appear on Amazon and social media sites. (An example of a book cover that might not work in the following discussion is one that uses difficult-to-read fonts.)

To begin with, I am not a big fan of using a book cover as a profile photo on social media.  Especially as an author you should use a profile photo of your face in order to help connect with potential readers (unless you are purposely hiding your identity).

This also means the profile photo should only be of you unless two authors co-wrote the book and share the social media account rather than having two separate accounts.  (In my opinion two accounts rather than one would probably be a better marketing strategy.)

There are lots of online places to use your book cover or covers:

Images on social media that display behind the profile photo such as on Twitter and Facebook. (For an example see ) You can use the site Canva to easily create these images by uploading your book cover(s) to the specific social media image templates provided.

On individual tweets or Google+ and Facebook updates. (On Twitter you have to create the text of your tweet so that there are enough characters remaining to allow attaching a photo to the tweet.)

On your email signature.

On guest posts you write for which you are allowed a profile photo and additional images.
On Pinterest where you can create a board for your book and then add pins to the board that relate to the book. For example, if you publish a book on knitting, you can use the book cover on your book’s board along with pins of different knitting projects.

·      On your website in appropriate places.  Although this seems obvious to have your book cover(s) on your author website, check whether there is more than one place on your website where the book cover(s) could legitimately be displayed.

(FYI – Because my author blog is on the home page of my author site, I do not have individual book covers displayed on the home page.  This is a decision I made for my marketing goals, particularly because I wanted to separate my fiction and nonfiction books on the same site.)

Q:  Is it okay to question the recommendations of my web developer/designer for my author website?

Absolutely!  Most web developers/designers are interested in the layout and design of websites.  They are not usually experts in the marketing of what is featured on those websites.

You as the author need to work with your web person to ensure that the site is easy to use for site visitors (called UX – user experience) and achieves your marketing goals.

Since 2008 I have been involved in digital marketing, and I constantly view websites that are not effective from the perspective of the site visitor.  This is why I co-launched on March 1st the site to promote the strategies of MAD – marketing, art production, development – working together from day one.

The marketing component is what you yourself need to fulfill when you are hiring a web person.  You need to consider site elements that would interest site visitors as well as resist recommendations of elements for your site that would hinder the visitor experience.  (One such hindrance example would be requiring a visitor to register and then sign in before viewing your site.)

If your web person says “everyone is doing it this way,” remember that a) this may not actually be true and b) this may not be the best for your site’s marketing goals.

In fact, when working with a web person, it is important to make it clear that you are a partner in this project.  You can provide valuable marketing and UX insights to help the web person achieve the development/design goals.  The end result must serve to make it easy for visitors to your author site to interact with that site.

And to tie this month’s two questions together, remember that search engines may bring people to pages on your site other than the home page.  This is why considering where else on your site you might include your book cover(s) is important to discuss with your web person.

Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller on Twitter) blogs on book-related topics at and is the author of the Kindle ebook “Top Tips for How to Market on the Internet With Pictures.”

Read her TrioGeek origin story at

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

IWSG: Woe is Me

It's that the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's Insecure Writer's Support Group. Thanks to our noble Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh, it's time to share our fears and insecurities, or support and assistance. Doesn't matter which. If you decide to join us, know that whatever you share will receive the upmost respect and attention. 

Click here to join. Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post.

Our hashtag is #IWSG

Our awesome hosts for today are: Lauren Hennessy, Lisa Buie-Collard, Lidy, Christine Rains, and Mary Aalgaard! 

Sorry, I'm out of sorts. Caught a cold. 

Last month, I  decided to take the plunge and start querying again for my psychological thriller Omatiwak: Woman Who Cries. Received two rejections in one week from American agents, and these were not simultaneous queries. Yes, these agents were nice enough to get back to me in less than 2 days each. One asked for the first 50 pages, the day after I sent a query. The next day he wrote:
Your pages are interesting and well-written, and it is an engaging story.  The pacing is also strong and the story well-executed.  That said, I didn’t feel like I got to know the characters as deeply as I would have liked, and I feel that for trade editors, they will be looking for that stronger connection.

The first day I felt horrible, but my husband reminded me that not everyone will understand the aboriginal issues in Canada. And do I really want to slam them over the head with it?

No. But I don't want to be rejected either. I'm a little embarrassed that after 30 plus years I can still feel so vulnerable. The second agent read the first chapter and didn't want to read anymore.

I counsel young writers about the pitfalls of our profession. I tell them not to take these rejections personally. At IWSG we lend an ear to writers trying to place their first ms with an agent or publisher. I know how the system works. Yet, here I sit feeling ... the same thing we all feel when we receive a rejection. I can't write. Why did I ever think I could. Nobody wants to read me stuff. I'm washed up. Finished. Woe is me. 

I especially like the last one, don't you? Woe is me. 

Seriously, agents and publishers are just people. They're no better or worse than the rest of us. One day I will find a new publisher for my work. It's all about timing, faith, and a whole lot of stubbornness. We can't and shouldn't give up.