writing-query-letter

7 Tips for Authors on Writing a Successful Query Letter

writing-query-letterQuery letters are a lot like resumes: People are always wanting to know how to write one that stands out from the pack. And most people don’t have a clue…

Based on everything that I’ve read and heard from other authors, here’s what I’ve learned about how to write a great query letter….

1. Start with the essentials. Don’t forget to include the most important information early on in the letter! That includes the tentative book title, word count, genre and target audience. An agent wants to know that these things are a good fit before he or she reads any further. Then…

2. Grab an agent’s attention. Forget the bland, “I am contacting you today seeking representation….” That’s boring, and it’s true of everyone. So, early on in your letter, include an outstanding quote from the book, a tantalizing question that the book raises, or an endorsement. Make sure the agent gest an immediate feel for your characters, your voice, and your story.

3. Show your professionalism. Make it clear in your letter that you’re not just a wanna-be writer. You’re a professional writer. Explain what you’ve already published, the writer’s conferences you’ve attended, and whatever other work makes it clear that you’re not just some Joe Schmoe who wrote a book.

4. Compare your book to others in your genre. This is yet another area in which you can really show how savvy you are. Explain which other books in your genre are similar to yours, and how and why yours is different. If there’s a way to also work in an explanation about why your book would be especially popular in the upcoming years (i.e. the Presidential election), make sure to do so.

5. Keep it brief. Like anyone else scouring through hundreds of letters, an agent is probably not going to read every word in your query letter. So limit the length to one page at most, and make sure the strongest elements stand out.

6. Tailor it to each individual agent. Again, think of it like a resume. Each job is different. So is each agent. Research what other authors he or she has represented before, discuss how you found him or her, and why you think you’d be a good fit for one another. If the agent has a blog, make sure to read it before drafting the letter, and reference it in the query.

7. Show off your marketing talents. In today’s world of book publishing, marketing a book is the responsibility of the author … until you’re a best-seller of course. With that in mind, you’ll get a huge leg up on the competition if you explicitly state in the query letter what you’ve already done — and what you plan to do — to market the book. That means including a link to your author website, mentioning the number of followers you’ve already built on Twitter, highlighting your blog and/or Facebook presence, etc….

Follow these seven guidelines and you’ll greatly increase your chances of getting a call from an agent. After all, writing a great book isn’t necessarily what makes an author a bestseller. Getting that book picked up by the right people is just as important.

ebooks

Print or eBook: Which Is Right for You?

ebooksI spent much of this morning reading about trends in the sales of print vs. digital books. So what did I learn?

Well, the good news is that the traditional book definitely isn’t dead. Indie booksellers and traditionalist rejoice!

But here’s another thing that’s important to know: whether your book will sell well in print or ebook form may very well depend on your genre. Consider this…

  1.  Your nonfiction book will sell better in print. I would philosophize that this is because nonfiction books — self-help books, cookbooks, etc…. — are ones that people want to keep on their bookshelves with pride, and refer back to years later. You just can’t do that with an ebook.
  2. If your book is Sci-fi, paranormal romance, or Christian fiction, it’s likely to sell much better in electronic format. Statistics show that these are the three genres in which ebooks are far outpacing print.
  3. If you’re writing a children’s bookgo with both! Many people love the digital versions of children’s books and all its interactivity. Other people think of it as more “screen time” for kids and less “true reading.” As one person recently said in a letter to the editor printed in the NY Times, “If the tablet has Clifford the dog barking, then your child doesn’t have to imagine the sound of Clifford the dog barking. Electronic devices obviate the need for children to use their imagination because it does it for them.”
  4. Your erotica book is best suited for digital. Think about it. In an airport, on a beach or in any other public place … people can read erotica in ebook format without anyone having any idea what they’re reading. Holding a physical book? Not so much.
  5. Similarly, literary works do best in print … in which nosy people can actually see the covers. As an article in Britain’s The Guardian points out: “There is a literary snobbishness at play here, clearly. Reading has always been a competitive sport. Why else would anyone have read Ulysses?”

And finally, here’s a stat to really throw you for a loop. A recent study found that today’s electronic generation — kids between the ages of 16 and 24 — actually prefer print books to ebooks.

The top-rated reasons for preferring physical to digital products were: “I like to hold the product” (51%), “I am not restricted to a particular device” (20%), “I can easily share it” (10%), “I like the packaging” (9%), and “I can sell it when used” (6%).

So, if in doubt, do both. But if you have to choose, use these interesting stats above to determine which route is the right one for you to take. Happy Publishing!

kindlescout

5 Things Authors Need to Know About Amazon Kindle Scout

kindlescoutHave you heard about Amazon’s new crowdsourcing publishing program? It’s called Amazon Kindle Scout, and it’s basically American Idol meets book publishing. Here are five things you need to know about this program that might just turn the publishing world upside down.

1. Almost anyone can post their manuscript to Amazon Kindle Scout. It’s kind of like an open audition. If you have written a book in English and want to get it published, you can post it through Amazon Kindle Scout and let the voters decide. The first genres open for submission are Romance, Mystery & Thriller and Science Fiction & Fantasy, but that is expected to expand going forward. Any adult with a valid U.S. bank account and a U.S. social security number or tax identification number is eligible.

2. There is no due date. Authors can post books at any time thoughout the year. Thirty days after a book is posted, the Kindle Scout team will review reader votes to determine whether the book will be published by Kindle Press. An author will be notified within 45 days of submission whether or not their book was selected. There will be a lot of voting going on during those 30 days, so it’s in your best interest to make sure your friends, family and colleagues are aware of the timeframe during which they can show their support for your book.

3. You can check out other entries before submitting your own. In fact, it’s highly recommended that you take a look at what other authors have done (book descriptions, thank-you notes, etc…) through Amazon Kindle Scout before submitting your own materials. See what’s working and what’s not, and learn from it!

4. This is in no way self-publishing. According to Publishers Weekly, selected authors will receive a $1,500 advance, a five-year renewable publishing contract and a 50% e-book royalty rate upon selection. In other words, if your book gets chosen for publication, you don’t pay a penny to get your book published. That’s every author’s dream right about now.

5. You must agree to the Kindle Press Submission & Publishing Agreement to participate. Under the agreement, you grant Amazon a 45-day exclusivity period to consider your work for publication. If they select your book, Amazon then has the exclusive, worldwide rights to publish your book in digital and audio formats in all languages for a 5-year renewable term. If they don’t select your book, you get all your rights back after 45 days.

Learn more about Amazon Kindle Scout and whether or not it’s the right option for you.

author-marketing

Author Marketing: 5 Things to Do (and 5 Things NOT to Do)

author-marketingAuthor marketing is kind of an oxymoron. After all, if you’re a good writer, chances are that you’re not a professional marketer. And in today’s publishing world, authors have to do their own book promotion. That creates quite a challenge.

With that in mind, here are five things authors should be doing to promote their books (and five things they shouldn’t be doing). Many of these ideas are courtesy of authors like yourself who are sharing thoughts and ideas on LinkedIn.

Author Marketing DOs

  1. Create your own website. Yes, it’s important for you to have your own author website. Whether that’s one you build yourself, or a site built through a company like ours, it’s essential that you have a site that houses all of your writings, has a place for you to blog, and gets your message across in words and colors that fit your brand. Social networking presences are great, but you don’t own them or control them. Your site is like your press kit, and it’s the first place agents, publishers and readers are going to go to learn about you.
  2. Choose your social media presences wisely. Do you write for a young adult audience? Or one for middle-aged professionals? Find the social networking tool that your audience uses most frequently (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc…) and focus your social networking attention there. There’s no need for you to be everything for everybody.
  3. Find your target audience. Be as hyper-focused as you can. If you wrote a sci-fi novel, for example, consider targeting sci-fi conventions and Star Trek fan sites. If you wrote a non-fiction book about relationships, try to get your book in the hands of marriage counselors. Think about who your readers are and where they are, and then try to reach them as directly as possible.
  4. Go local. You’d be surprised how many possibilities there are for promotion in your local area. Just a few of the ideas getting thrown around on LinkedIn include trying a book signing at your local library, doing a radio interview with the local station, shooting out an eye-catching brochure to high schools and community organizations, and guest speaking at community centers, churches, book stores, coffee shops and art galleries in your area.
  5. Get your book into the hands of reviewers. It sounds relatively obvious, but it doesn’t happen often enough. Do whatever you can to get your book into the hands of book bloggers/reviewers. Send out advance reader copies to them so they can review the book on Amazon, Goodreads, or their own personal blog. It’s also helpful to be hyper-targeted in these efforts as well: make sure you’re targeting reviewers who regularly write about books in your specific genre.

Author Marketing DON’Ts

  1. Spend all your time promoting. Your time is so important. Use it wisely! make sure to find the right balance between writing and marketing, and only use your marketing time on smart choices. For example, don’t spend four hours a day on social networking if your book is targeted to senior citizens. Similarly, there’s no need to try to speak at your local community center if your book is about a small town in another state. Find the right balance between writing and promotion.
  2. Run paid campaigns. As one write on LinkedIn says: “I tried both Facebook ads and Google Adwords. While both showed a high number of clicks, the conversion rate was disappointing to say the least. Not only that, but both services require some careful monitoring when you end your campaign.” I personally have found the same to be true. While those campaigns may get you a lot of clicks, they don’t necessarily lead to a lot of sales. And even if they do, the numbers generally don’t add up. If you were selling $100 purses, maybe. But a $5 book? Not so much.
  3. Write outside your comfort zone. Yes, you’re a writer. But you may not be a copywriter. Or a writer of press releases. Each of those require their own skillsets. So write what you’re comfortable with, and outsource other things.
  4. Give up easily. Too many authors that I’ve worked with start doing something — like blogging — and then give up a month later when they don’t feel like they’re getting enough visitors. Remember: all of these efforts take time. And while I’m not a fan of beating a dead horse, you need to give any effort a few months before determining if it’s working or not.
  5. Sell your soul! Here’s another great quote from a LinkedIn conversation: “Spending all of your time marketing instead of writing is not in the disposition of a true writer whose passion is to write.” At the end of the day, you’re a writer at heart. Stay true to that part of yourself. Think of writing as your passion and marketing as your job. Never let your job take over your life.

Do you have specific marketing ideas — or marketing fails — that you want to share with other writers? Tell us in the comments box below!

ecommerce

5 Ways to Sell Books From Your Author Website

ecommerceI often have authors ask me this question: “Can I sell books through my author website?” The answer is a resounding yes.

In fact, there are a multitude of ways to do it. Here are your options.

1. Sell the book yourself through an online shopping cart. An online shopping cart allows you to sell your book (and possibly other products) right there on your own website. You collect payment, process the order and basically handle everything yourself. The biggest benefit of such a system is the fact that you get to control the price — and profit. It’s also a good experience for visitors, since they never have to leave your site to complete their purchase. But there is a downside: setting up a system like this takes a fair amount of time and effort. There’s also a cost involved — both a set-up cost and a monthly cost — so there’s always the potential of such a venture not being profitable.

2. Sell the book yourself via PayPal. If you’re not ready to go all-in and set up an integrated shopping cart, a PayPal cart is the next best thing. For no set-up cost, you can create a PayPal account, sync it up with your bank account, and create a product page for your book. You can set the price, a tax percentage and shipping costs. PayPal will then give you a simple widget of embed code. Simply paste it on your site and when someone clicks that “buy” link, they will get taken to your product page on PayPal. In addition, PayPal only collects a small amount of the total. So what’s the drawback? Well, this option takes people off your site to make a payment, which can be jarring for a visitor. In addition, this option only works if you’re prepared to do the processing and shipping of books yourself.

3. Link to Amazon and/or B&N. This is the most common method that most of our author clients use to sell books. It’s pretty darn simple: create a “Buy the Book” area and include links to both Amazon and B&N. Unless you self-published with CreateSpace — a division of Amazon — I highly recommend including links to both (or else you risk being blackballed by one or the other). It’s easy peasy.

4. Link to your publisher site (if you have a publisher). If you were published through any of the major publishing houses, your book is likely for sale through their website. It’s quite easy to add a “Buy the Book” link on your site and simply link there for people to make the purchase in one click. Much like linking to Amazon or B&N, there’s little to no work involved in the process.

5. Let your publisher sell through your website. If you’re lucky enough to be published through Harper Collins, you’ll want to know that they recently made the selling process even easier, offering a new e-commerce platform that allows authors to easily integrate the HarperCollins shopping cart directly into their website. In other words, they’ll do all the work, and you can collect a 35% net royalty on e-books sold through the HarperCollins platform on your site. Now that’s a good deal.

See what I mean? Allowing people to buy the book through your website is easy. The hard part is figuring out which of the options above works best for you.

wordpress-logo

10 WordPress Terms All Authors Should Know

wordpress-logoWordPress has become the content management system of choice for a large majority of author websites. But WordPress also comes with a language all its own. If you’re just getting started on this journey, here are 10 terms you may hear or see in regards to your site – in alphabetical order — and what each one means.

1. Dashboard
Your dashboard is the first page that you see when you log into WordPress. It’s kind of like your own homepage. It generally includes essential information about your work on your site (number of posts, etc…), recent comments and activity, as well as general WordPress news.

2. Media
Ah, the media library. This is where all of your photos, videos, illustrations or downloadable PDFs would be housed. So, for example, if you want to add a downloadable PDF (a press kit, for example) to a page on your site, you would upload it to the media section and then set up a link to that form of media from the appropriate page. You would also go to media to find any previous photos that you may have uploaded.

3. Pages
These are pretty much what they sound like. WordPress “Pages” refers to the actual pages on your site –your home page, your about page, your book page, etc… Simply go into the pages section to make changes to any page on your site. What’s important to note, though is that pages are different from posts (below).

4. Plug-ins

WordPress is, in many ways, a compilation of plug-ins. Each plug-in is a feature that does something to the site. Do you have a contact form? That’s a plug-in. How about a photo gallery, a calendar, an email sign-up box, or something that is supposed to help with SEO? Those are all plug-ins. In other words, any features on your site beyond simple design and text is the result of a plug-in, and there are thousands and thousands of them available in WordPress. They can do practically anything you need.

5. Posts
This is a source of confusion. People often don’t know the difference between pages and posts. And that’s understandable. So, to clarify, a post is a specific blog entry. Almost everything else on your site is a page. So your “pages” might be Home, About, Contact and Blog. That blog page would be a compilation of your blog posts. So you’d go to pages to update, say, your About page; you’d go to posts to add or update individual blog posts. Make sense?

6. Settings
The bread and butter of your author website sits in “settings.” This is where your site title lives, the URL is set, and the primary email address associated with your account resides. If you ever want to make administrative changes to your site, this is where you do it. But be forewarned: a simple change – like a one character adjustment to the URL in settings – could completely break your site. So use settings wisely.

7. Themes
WordPress designs are based on themes. Each of those themes includes a basic structure and color scheme. You can then adjust those themes to incorporate your own images, adjust the colors, create a menu, and (of course) enter your own content. There are hundreds of WordPress themes currently available, and your design will probably be based on one of them.

8. Updates
Ah, updates. If you’ve had a WordPress site before, you’ve probably gotten notifications on your dashboard that there are updates that need to be run. This happens frequently in WordPress. Ultimately, these updates need to be run to keep your site current and to keep it protected. However, we’ve had instances in which updates can cause problems on a site. So make sure to have a tech person on call whenever you run them.

9. Users
Did you know that you can set up multiple users on your WordPress site? Yup, that’s what the “users” tab in WordPress is for. So if, for example, you want to have guest bloggers posting on your site, you can set them up as additional users with blogging rights. They would then have their own login into WordPress and would be allowed to do as much or as little as you give them the rights to do. If you have a technical person who you turn to for WordPress help, they should be a user on your site with administrative rights.

10. Widgets
Have you ever noticed that in the right hand column of your site, or across the footer, there are various boxes? Those boxes might include blog feeds, a newsletter sign-up area, or a picture of your book cover and a “buy” link. Those are all considered “widgets,” short for “widgetized areas.” In other words, those are like “plug and play” boxes that offer special features in their own segments of the page.

There you go! Enjoy the new and exciting world of WordPress!

gavel

Warning! 5 Actions on Your Author Website That Could Get You Sued

gavelLet me start this post with a disclaimer. I have never — and I repeat, never — heard of a client getting sued for something that’s on their author website.

That said, it doesn’t mean that you couldn’t get sued for something posted on your author website. With that in mind, and in the interest of helping all authors play things safe, here are five things you should watch out for on your site if you want to ensure that you’ll never be the victim of a lawsuit.

1. Copyright infringement. Have you ever thought about posting someone else’s material on your site? Maybe copying someone else’s blog entry and calling it a guest post? Or cutting and pasting an entire review of your book on your site? All of these are examples of copyright infringement, and they could get you served papers. As a writer, you should be especially aware of these types of issues.

2. Privacy violations. Let’s say you collect information from visitors to your site. Maybe you get their names, addresses, etc… If you then use that information in ways that the users didn’t agree to, you’re in violation of their privacy. Examples could include spamming users with emails they didn’t agree to, or selling their information to a third party.

3. Libel/Product disparagement. Do you regularly write reviews of products or other books? There’s nothing wrong with saying you didn’t like them. But there IS something wrong if you say anything incorrect about those books or products. In other words, it’s okay to say that the book was boring and overpriced. It’s NOT okay to exaggerate the cost, number of pages, etc… in an effort to make a point or be funny.

4.  Using images illegally. This is one of the most common violations on the web. People often believe that if they find an image on Pinterest, or a celebrity photo on a news site, that they can reuse that photo in their own blog post on the subject. Wrong! Remember, there’s a photographer who took that picture and is pretty proud of his or her work. And the Associated Press or Reuters, for example, collect a lot of money from sites which want the rights to use their photos online. When you use those pictures without paying for those rights, you are hitting these companies where it hurts. And they don’t take that lightly. No matter how “small time” you may feel your site is, using photos without the proper rights is a bit no-no.

5. All of these things … through comments. Do you think that if you follow all the rules you can’t get sued? Think again. If you have any commenting functions or message boards on your site, then you are responsible for what any visitors post there. It’s important that you keep a close eye on each and every comment, photo, etc… that a user posts. Any illegal use of photos, copying and pasting of other materials, or incorrect information that defames a person or business can get you into the same trouble as doing these things yourself. At the end of the day, you the site owner can be the one sued for anything that’s posted.

All of this isn’t with the purpose of scaring you. Instead, it’s intended to educate you on the most common activities on the web that many site owners generally think of as harmless …. but that can get them into a lot of trouble if they’re not careful.

 

analytics

5 Things You Can Learn in the First 30 Days After Your Author Website Launches

analyticsThere are a lot of things in life that take a pretty long time. Like building a strong relationship. Or making a baby. Or writing a book.

Thankfully, there are other things that you can accomplish in a very short period of time. Learning about your author website and how it’s doing is one of them, thanks to our good friends at Google analytics.

Here are five things that you should be able to know within 30 days of your launch (if you study your reports correctly).

1. Which sections of the site are most popular. Ah …. Google analytics. It is the greatest thing for website owners since sliced bread. It allows you to see a wealth of information — one of the most important being which pages on your site are being viewed most (and least). You should pretty quickly be able to determine the sections of your site that are doing well — as well as the things that people are not looking at. This will help you figure out where to focus your attention going forward. For example, if your blog is doing well, it serves as encouragement to keep blogging. If people love your “book secrets’ page, think of other ways you can offer bonus material to readers.

2. The search terms you should be optimizing for. Google will also be able to tell you the specific keyword that people are searching for when they wind up on your site. This should be a good starting point for you to put together a full search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. For example, I have discovered that the term “author websites” drives a wealth of traffic my way. As such, I make sure that I always blog about author websites, and optimize each post for the term. And no, I’m not using the term here just for that reason. I’m citing an example. So if you find that people are coming to your site through the keyword, let’s just say … “midlife crisis,” then that’s what you should be blogging about, and that’s the term that you should use in all of your page and post titles.

3. How people are finding your site. Where is most of your traffic coming from? Is it people literally typing in the name of your site in their browser? Are they searching for your name on Google? Are they coming in through social sharing, links from other sites, etc…? Your analytics report should be able to tell you where your traffic is coming from. You can then figure out what you should be doing more or less of as a result, and ramp up your marketing efforts accordingly.

4. Which social networks are working for you. Your analytics report will be able to tell you how much traffic you’re getting from Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc… Similarly, you can see for yourself just how many followers you’ve built on each of these networks. Within 30 days, you should be able to determine which one — or ones — to continue focusing your attention on in the long-term, and which may not be the best use of your time.

5. What’s NOT working on your author website. Your analytics report not only tells you what you’re doing right. It can also tell you what you’re doing wrong. Study which blog posts are getting little to no traffic. Figure out which pages on your site have the highest bounce rate (i.e. the percentage of people leaving without visiting any other pages) and play detective to try and figure out why these aren’t working. Is the page taking a long time to load? Is the blog post too long? Try and find a pattern in your analytics, take your best guess as to why things aren’t working, and then change them.

Thirty days may not be a very long time. But it’s long enough for you to take these learnings and make your author website even better than it was before.

free-stuff

10 Free Things You Get With Our Author Websites

free-stuffThere’s not much in the world that’s free. But in the case of the author websites we build, there are actually a bunch of exceptions to that rule — in addition to actually building and launching the website, of course. Here are 10 of them.

1. Submission to the major search engines. When we launch your site, we optimize it for your name and your book title(s). We then submit it to all the major search engines. Within a week or two, your site will be showing up on Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc…

2. Set-up of an email address associated with your domain. If your site is hosted on our server, we can easily set up an author email address for you. So if your URL is JaneDoeBooks.com, we can give you the email address Jane@JaneDoeBooks.com at no additional charge.

3. Integrating Google Analytics into your account. Want to know how many people are visiting your website? Interested in seeing which pages or blog posts they’re looking at? Set up a free Google Analytics account, and we will integrate it into your site for free. You can then log in to your Google account at any time to see the latest numbers.

4. The ability to make basic website updates yourself. We build all of our author websites in WordPress. This means that you can log in at any time and easily add/change text, photos, etc… The site is yours to play with … even if you have a moment of inspiration at 2 am! Speaking of which…

5. Training on how to use WordPress. As part of your package with us, we will give you a one-on-one training session on how to make those kinds of updates. So by the time your site is launched, you’ll already know how to add a photo, change text on your bio page, post a new blog entry, etc…

6. Email collection and list management. One of the handy dandy plugins we like to use allows you to collect email addresses in a simple (and legal) way. This means that you can encourage people to enter their email address if they’re interested in updates (or if they want whatever you’re offering as a give-away), and that list is then stored in your system for you to use as you please for marketing purposes. Best of all, it automatically sends out a confirmation email — a legal requirement — giving you double-validation that the person is agreeing to be on your mailing list.

7. Facebook/YouTube widgets. Do you use Facebook and Twitter on a regular basis? Then we can, at no cost, add widgets for each of those accounts on your website. This means that every new post/tweet you add will also show up on your Website.

8. Your site, on mobile. Yup. It’s 2014. A lot of people are on mobile. And at no additional cost, we ensure that your website is attractive and usable on mobile devices.

9. Links to buy your book(s) through Amazon/B&N. What’s one of the main purposes of an author website? To sell books, of course. With that in mind, we include links to buy each and every book on each and every author website. Want to sell through Amazon, B&N, Powell’s and/or your own publisher? No problem. We will include an unlimited number of links. With one click, any visitor will be able to buy your book from their site of choice.

10. Ongoing support. Every author will have questions after the site is launched. Those can include anything from, “How do I add a new page?” to “Can I change my tagline?” We are here to offer that support for our clients. We are always happy to answer questions, offer guidance and more. All for free!

Are you interested in inquiring about having us build you an author website? Contact us today for a free consultation!

pottermore

J.K. Rowling Sets and Example on Bonus Material for Author Websites

pottermoreThere are lots of things that are givens on author websites, like details on the book or books, an author bio, a contact form, etc…

But what makes author websites truly different and appealing is something that goes above and beyond. That’s why I always recommend that authors include bonus material on their site.

Why bonus material?
Bonus material serves a duel purpose: it makes the book extra appealing to those who haven’t read it yet (hopefully increasing book sales as a result), and offers some interesting and satisfying information for people who have read it.

In short, it makes readers feel like they’ve gotten an “inside” story that just the book itself doesn’t offer.

What’s an example of bonus material?
Just what makes up bonus material depends on the subject matter of the book. For fiction titles, that bonus material could include “book secrets” (i.e. hidden meanings in the book), how characters got their names, where the author may have hit writers block, etc…

For nonfiction books, that bonus material may be a discussion guide, a “behind the book” story (i.e. what prompted him/her to write it), segments of the book that were cut out, etc…

Can I see bonus material on someone else’s site?
Check out nearly any author website in our portfolio and you will see some form of bonus material. Feel free to grab ideas from there.

But today, we’re going to focus on one very high-profile example of bonus material: that being used by the infamous J.K. Rowling.

Just this week, Rowling launched her latest author website, Pottermore.com. In it, Rowling celebrates the 18th birthday of one of her most beloved characters from the Harry Potter series, Celestina. As part of this celebration:

  • Visitors get their first chance to actually listen to a song sung by Celestina and the Banshees (who, by the way, perform live everyday in the fantasy world of “Harry Potter.”) The song is titled “You Stole My Cauldron But You Can’t Have My Heart.”
  • Rowling shares some background information on the character and the source of her inspiration for it. That, apparently, starts with Shirley Bassey, the singer known for singing in the James Bond movie “Goldfinger” in 1964.

If you’re a fan of the Harry Potter series, this type of information can satisfy an appetite that you never even knew you had. Talk about bonus material! Authors, take note…