Helpful Websites for Writers (& Readers)

This Is Writing is a book-centric site for both writers and readers.  The site is neat and well organized.  For writers, there is a wealth of goodies to take advantage of on this site.  The site provides free book marketing opportunities in the form of:

 

  • Author Interview Spotlights
  • Book Except Posts
  • Guest Posts
  • Book Reviews

And when I say book reviews, I don’t mean 2 or 3 vague statements which could apply to any random book in the same genre.  These are very well-written reviews:  3-4 paragraphs of detailed critique and opinion of the book.  I was quite satisfied with the Review that my book, Dominic’s Nemesis received.  I also availed myself of the Book Excerpt and Author Interview services…very nice.  In addition to the great book marketing opportunities for indie authors, there is also a detailed Writer’s Resource Page, complete with lots of links to online writing classes, book cover design services, tax advice for writers, self-publishing help and a lot more.  Some of the links are for paid services and other for free resources…definitely worth a look if you’re just getting started or looking to improve your craft.

This is Writing site is also a mecca for avid readers.  Readers can subscribe to the site and get a weekly email of eBook recommendations form new and Indie authors.  This is a free service.  But even if you’re not much of a joiner, there’s a great many book reviews and excerpts posted on there to browse through.  Avid readers can easily scout out their next good read.

Author’s Den is not just a website for writers and readers.  Its more of an online literary community.  Very vibrant and interactive.  For Authors:  It offers a free membership (and several levels of paid memberships).  The free option comes with lots of sweet features.  You can set up an author bio page with your background info, photo, links to your sites and social media.  In addition, authors can list all their books.  There’s space for a cover image, premise, book trailer, excerpt, reviews, and purchase links.  There are separate interactive type pages where Authors can post blog articles, news, upcoming events, original poetry and stories.   Authors can gain followers, link to online stores, create your own blog page, send messages, etc.  (a special bonus, you can track how many views your pages get!)  And this is just with the FREE membership!  And in case you’re wondering, its very user friendly.  I’ve only been on there a short while and I really like it.

For Readers:  You can follow your favorite authors and get notifications when they post articles, news, events…etc.  You can read posted content and review books, message authors and other readers, purchase books and comment of posts/blogs.  Its great!

The Book Blogger List is a website which basically acts as an online database of book blogger websites, many of whom do accept request/submissions for books reviews and some also run blog tours and other promotional type posts through their site.  The listing of blogs is done by genre and is searchable by genre.  Many of the blogs listed on there are listed under more than one genre (including, A Writer’s Journal).  This is a great site for avid readers, because it gives you a quick way to get a look at lots of books in your favorite genre… and to get some info, opinions and reviews about them.  This site is also great for Indie authors and agents who represent Indie authors because many of the blogs listed on here accept requests/submissions for book reviews.  Some blogs also offer professional services for authors…marketing/publicity, cover design, edit/proofreading, Blog tours/Cover reveals…etc.  I cannot personally attest to any of the individual blogs, but its a great place to shop around and see what’s out there and available…maybe do some pricing and get the best deal.

Attention: Fellow book bloggers, this site accepts request to have your blog listed with them, there’s an online form to complete that is pretty straightforward.  The turnaround time is a bit much, but its a free service so they are probably swamped with requests.  Be aware:  There are some expectations.  Bloggers wishing to be listed on their site have to either offer book reviews (which are posted on your blog) or regularly feature other authors  (for example, via Blog Tours, Cover Reveals, Promo Blitz, etc).   You also have to keep your blog active or eventually you’ll be removed from the list.  The blogs who list with them are reviewed/checked periodically to ensure that these expectations are met.

Net Galley is a website with the goal of offering pre-release proof copies of books for the purposes of getting early reviews, creating a buzz and generating interest in upcoming books.  It’s great for readers…especially those on a budget, because you get the books for free with the expectation that you will write a review or post comments/commentary either on Amazon and/or GoodReads if you are just a lay-reader…OR your blog, website or other media outlet if you are a book blogger or professional reviewer attached to a publication.  There are tons of books on there in every genre you can imagine.  Agents, publishers, editors of major and lesser-known publishing companies list books to garner reviews and create buzz…so you could conceivably get a free, advanced reading copy of your favorite author’s new novel to enjoy weeks before its commercially available…Of course a review of what you read is expected.  There are no review “police”, but if you get on there and develop a pattern of requesting books to read and NEVER leaving a review or posting comments somewhere, your requests will eventually start to be denied.  That’s just the way it is.

Here’s how it works, you have to register…there are a few levels of registration.  You can registrar as a Reader/Member which means you are a layman who basically wants to get on there to request books to read and then review (on Goodreads, Amazon, Blogs, etc).  You have to be approved as a member, but it’s free and relatively painless.   They just want to know things like if you have a blog…what are the genres you read, where you are likely to post the reviews/commentary you write (social networks and such)…that kind of stuff.  After your membership is approved you can go on there and browse the listings for books you might like to read.  The site layout allows members to search the books available for review by publisher, genre, or date of upload onto NetGalley.  Members request the titles they want, with a representative for the publisher making the decision to approve or decline the request.   If approved, the user usually has a choice between selecting a Kindle, PDF or EPUB copy of the book  Some books have criteria for approval…Ex. Regional requirements (UK readers, US only, etc).  Other books are unrestricted and they pretty much approve whoever requests it.  It just depends on the publisher/agent/author and what their goal/promotional strategy is for the book.  Most book listings are only on there for a short time (because this is a paid service for whoever is listing it…kind of like houses listed on the real estate market) so if you see one you like, its best to request immediately before the listing expires.  There is nothing on there to indicate when the listings expire so you could see a book listed and two days later its “archived”.   (You have been warned.)

Second Option –  you can registrar as a Publisher/Author Member which exist on several paid levels which are dictated by what features/options are  available at that level. Publisher/Authors members can list books and set parameters as to who they are willing to approve to have a read-copy and designate what kind of readers they are looking for.  You have the power to review all the folks who request a copy and either approve or deny them access to the book.  You get stats on who viewed, requested, rated and review the books etc…and they are lots of other features/options.  If you want an exhaustive list, you have to get on the site and get more info.   Like the reader membership, I think you have to be approved for this type of membership as well.  I’ve never gone through this process so I don’t know how extensive it is.  But I do think that the Publish/Author Membership is less user friendly because there are all kinds of how-to lists, instructions and disclaimers to go through with this type of membership.  It looks kind of complicated (an expensive) to me.  Unless you’re an Agent/Publisher/Author, etc…with deep pockets, I wouldn’t mess with it.

For my fellow Indie Authors interesting in possibly listing their books…check out the second half of my Net Galley posting which is… from An Indie Perspective.


banner Lola's Blog ToursLola’s Blog Tours is a tour company that organizes and executes Blog tours, Book Blitz, Cover Reveals, and review opportunities for authors who are promoting their books.  While the tours, book Blitz, and review opportunity services are a bit on the pricey side, the Cover Reveal option is offered free of charge ($0).  What makes this site so good for Indie authors is that, most of us are on a tight budget when it comes to marketing and promotion…so a free Cover Reveal can take a bit of the load off your finances.  And plus, Its a great jumping off point to start promoting for the release of your new/latest novel.

Lola organized the Cover Reveal and Giveaway for my second novel, ‘When Lucifer Met Calamity’. And I had a very positive experience.  She gave me good advice and answered all my questions during the planning and organizing period of the Cover Reveal.  The reveal itself went over very smoothly.  The subscriber-ship on my blog increased.  And it also caused a stir on my Goodreads profile, both my Facebook page, and my pinterest boards.  The Cover Reveal was definitely worth it. I would recommend the service for all Indie or self-published authors. I think the service is good for every author, but I mention Indies and self-published writers in particular because for us good promotion/marketing and word-of-mouth buzz is harder to come by (even when you pay for it).  Doing a Cover Reveal through Lola’s Blog Tours is a great way to promote your book and increase awareness and recognition.

Attention avid readers, there’s also a section on Lola’s Blog Tours that is called “Review Opportunity“.  Here, a selection of books are offered to interested readers/reviewers who wish to get a review copy of the book.  This is a great place to discover your new favorite author!  Check it out when you have a minute.

 

th-1“Other Worlds of Romance” Blog Talk Radio show is a talk radio show that focus on books from three specific romantic sub-genres:  paranormal, fantasy, and sci-fi romance.  This 30 minute broadcast airs once a week on Monday nights from 10pm – 10:30pm (central) and is hosted by award-winning, best-selling romance author Linda Mooney.  Each week she has a guest author on to introduce their upcoming or recently published book, answer questions…and read an excerpt directly from their book.  This is a great little gem that all lovers of paranormal/fantasy/sci-fi romance should tune in to.  Its also a unique  way to discover new books…and authors.  You can call-in and ask questions, as you listen…or shoot questions via e-mail.  And the show is broadcast live, so there is an exciting unknown element that makes it extra fun.  (My recent appearance had a few, eh, unscripted interruptions.  One in the form of my cat Boo who decided that he just had to go to the Loo right in the middle of my reading, lol.)  But not to worry if you miss the show…all the broadcasts are captured afterward in a permalink which is up and running within 30 – 40mins after the show…so you can listen to it…whenever and where ever you wish.  Check out my appearance on the show, promoting Dominic’s Nemesis.  [My Blog Talk Radio Appearance]

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LitLovers is a book-centric site that I discovered purely by accident.  Its main topic of conversation is Book Clubs…so it’s inherently geared more toward readers than writers, although I found the site helpful as both an avid reader and an Indie author.  For readers its great for instructions and information on how to start a book club.  There are also lots of book clubs featured on the site, so you can get some great ideas on how to spruce up your club.  Many of them have very unique ways in which they chose the books they read…plus the names of some the clubs are hysterical.  I highly recommend reading about the featured clubs).

They also have lists and suggestions of popular book club books.  Thus, if you’re already a part of a club and are glancing around for your next read, this is the site for you.  If your club is into serious literary critique as opposed to just a fun social gathering, they even offer reading guides and guidelines for how to discuss a book.  They even have a section dedicated to book reviews.  On the flip side, as an author, I used this site (in particular the section on reading guides and book discussion) to help me create a reading guide for my book Dominic’s Nemesis.  I incorporated some complex themes and heavy symbolism/metaphor into the storyline and so I thought it might be a good book for discussion.  To increase its appeal to the book club set, I created a reader’s discussion guide and included it in the back of the book.  This site was very helpful with composing the questions and even just deciding what sorts of questions were best suited to discussion.  There’s a wealth of tools and information on this site for writers and readers.  If you are either, I encourage you to hop over there when you have a few minutes to explore.  (There’s a fun list of suggested icebreaker games for getting your club meetings started.  Highly recommended.)

*****  MARK’S LIST  *****

Low Cost e-Book Formatting & Cover Design

If you are an Indie author who is self-publishing your own books/e-books, odds are you don’t have a huge budget to spend on professional services such as custom cover designs and e-Book formatting.  At the same time, you also may not have the software or know-how to Do-it-yourself (I personally had formatting issues.  Read Bumps in the road if you want the lowdown).  If you, too, fall into this category let me recommend that you take a look at Mark’s List.

swlogoIt’s a list of freelance professionals culled together by Smashwords (a online e-book distributor ).   The list is made of two kinda of services…e-Book formatting and cover design.  Mark’s List provides instructions about how to chose a cover designer/e-Book formatter along with some etiquette do’s & don’ts.  The list itself is made up of freelances in multiple languages (French, Italian, English, etc.) and also tells a little bit about their pricing, some specifics on their services and their website/contact info.  The prices are comparable low…at least from what I’ve seen advertised by professionals working for established companies in the industry.  While I cannot vouch for every freelancer on the list, I will say this, Mark’s List is how I found the e-Book format professional that prepared both of my books for their e-Book release.  She was very easy to contact.  Polite, and performed the service I paid for within the deadline I gave.  Totally satisfied.  Just thought I’d share.

 

 

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PR Log is a Press Release Distribution Service..and I would recommend it more for writers/authors than for readers.  (Unless of course you are a news geek, then yeah, this is the site for you.)  There’s a virtual buffet of press release listings, on every topic and in every category under the sun.  Its also a great tool for Indie authors or traditionally published authors who wish to do some self-promotion on the cheap.  Authors can distribute their press releases announcing all your significant events:  New publications coming out, book signing, media Appearances/Interviews , etc.

With your press release you can include a cover image of your book (because let’s be honest, some people won’t read it if there are no pictures, lol.) plus 2 clickable links (so you can redirect folks back to your blog or buy page)  and 1 video embed (A Book trailer is a great choice for this).  And this is just the very minimum Free option.  There are several more extensive paid packages…the least expensive is only $25.  And you can track traffic to see how many views you get, even with the free option!  Of course,  you get a more detailed stats report with the paid packages.  Its definitely worth a look for Indie authors on a strict marketing budget.  I used their services for both of my books, and while I can’t directly point to any sales that resulted, I can say this, it increased traffic on the blog significantly.  I know that some folks look at press releases with the same dismissive glance that they view pop-ups and blinking ads on Amazon.  I disagree.  Press releases increase visibility and plus you never know who might see it, read it, and take an interest in you, your books or your blog.  Just saying.

‘When Lucifer Met Calamity’ Press Release

‘Dominic’s Nemesis’ Press Release

 

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The site is an off-shoot of Publisher’s Weekly.  BookLife is a site dedicated to everything Self-Published.  Get tips, reviews, and post your profile.

Self-published indie authors can now submit their books for PW Review consideration FOR FREE!   This is an opportunity, not a promise, just so you know.  There are hundreds of authors submitting their books and only a few are selected for review…but hey, what do you have to lose?  Its free.  And if your book is picked, its another review to add to your queue and free marketing and promotions on their site.

On BookLife, you have to register with the site, then add your book or books (called “Projects”) and from there, with a couple of clicks, you can submit your book(s) for review consideration.

Hey, even if they don’t review it, you still get to list your book with them.  They provide a free web page for your title where you can post:

  • cover artwork
  • a description of the book
  • on-sale information for all formats
  • an excerpt
  • reviews
  • news items

And, any time you add a news item or new review, it gets posted to the front page of BookLife.com.  If you link your profile to Goodreads, every time your book(s) receives a new review, it posts on the front page of BookLife in the news section.  Can’t beat that.

Also, they have a searchable database where readers/viewers can look up books by author, title, or genre.  I think that’s worth the hour or so it takes to set up an author profile and submit your book projects.  I just recently discovered it, and I have taken full advantage.  Its a fair exchange, they are getting great content for their website and you are getting free high-traffic web space.

 

D. Alyce Domain

 

 

 

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