Book Marketing Techniques

Title – How to Market a Book
Author – Joanna Penn

REVIEW SCORE – 4.5/5

This is the BEST book for all first time authors, to learn all the different methods to market your book and earn sales. The book covers important concepts on how to build an author platform, market books online and offline, as well as monetization techniques using merchanside and books in multiple formats.

I do have to specify that the book is slightly older, so some of the topics on Amazon policies and online paid ads have changed, competition for ebooks has increased dramatically. Nevertheless this is a fantastic guide for debut authors, especially because the author is a bestselling author with both fiction and non-fiction books. So the topics and core principles of the book are relevant and true till today. Hence this is a truly evergreen book.

New authors reading this book will find useful information, irrespective of your writign genre, or even if you write under a pseudonym. If you already have some books published, then this book has techniques to spike up your sales.

Higher sales and revenue through self publishing

Other practical ideas presented in the book include:

  • How to get more reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, Google, etc.
  • Which paid ad platforms return the highest ROI
  • Ad stacking, which the author used to hit the prestigious New York Times bestseller list. Hitting the list is much harder now, but the method is definitely useful to jack up sales and author ranking, which is the final goal.
  • Concept of “30-60-90” day content cliffs.
  • How to quickly and easily build your email lists.
  • Top 10 mistakes made by newbie authors.
  • how to use traditional media (TV, newspapers and radio) and conventional methods of Public relations to increase brand awareness for your books.

Overall, highly recommend to all authors who are yet to see five figure annual sales numbers!

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Money moves – build a happy financial future

February 14th is Valentine’s Day, so let’s show some love to our future selves by building a financially secure future.

This post is about 2 excellent books on managing your money smartly, whether you are just out of college and tackling a mountain of student debt, or a seasoned professional worried about retirement savings, or a parent wondering how to save for your kids’ college fees, or anywhere in between.

Smart Women Love Money

Title – Smart Women Love Money
Author – Alice Finn

REVIEW SCORE – 4/5 ****

About 90% of people have absolutely no clue about how to save or the basics of investing. Colleges sadly don’t teach this important life skill, and young people are thrown unprepared into the adult world. This is a great starter book for anyone (not just women) who want to create financially security for life!

However, if you already have a 401(k) account with index funds and 6 months of emergency funds, then this book will feel very basic. I felt the whole book could be condensed into a simple blog post “list” type article. That said, appreciate that the author provided lists of index funds for various risk appetites, and some good pointers on saving more on taxes.

30-day Money Cleanse

Title – The 30-Day Money Cleanse: Take Control of Your Finances, Manage Your Spending, and De-stress Your Money for Good
Author – Ashley F Gerstley

REVIEW SCORE – 5/5 *****

Love this book because it is practical and actionable! The book has a simple flow and makes it easy to start working on the core principles of saving and investing – understand cash flows, assign budgets to broad segments and automate savings. It doesn’t matter whether you are just out of college or earning a 7-figure income. This book will coax you to get on the right path to a stable financial future, without waiting for retirement to have a fun and enjoyable life!

Unlike many other authors (and financial gurus), this book does not reprimand or guilt you about money mistakes in the past. This book will literally allow you to cleanse away any past money “sins” and get on the right track!

Even if you have good money habits, I suggest the book as an annual exercise, to ensure you are on the right path, and to confirm you don’t have unnecessary subscriptions that are subtly hurting your financial goals. I found myself canceling online magazines that I never read and some unnecessary fees that I had overlooked. These may seem like pennies, but they add up to hundreds over a 3-5-year time frame.

Fantastic book, and I highly recommend.

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FEB = month of love, and amazing romance authors

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, here are the Top 10 Romance authors you should absolutely try as a gift to yourself or your favorite bestie!

Historical romance, contemporary or medieval time travel series or plain old classics – this post presents (in no specific ranking order) a list of romance authors in multiple niches. So you are sure to find something you love!

  1. Stephanie Laurens – Historical Romance. Absolutely love the Cynster series, though you can read them in any order.
  2. Emma V Leech – Historical Romance. Girls Who Dare series starring members of the Peculiar Girls Book Club. Just the book club reference would have attracted me, but the stories are riveting!
  3. Julia Quinn – Historical Romance. I loved the Bridgerton Series, but “The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy” from the Smith-Smythe series will be #1 favorite by this author.
  4. Nora Roberts – contemporary. Almost all her books are fascinating, but “Blithe Images” is the one I adore the best.
  5. Susan Elizabeth Phillips – Romantic Comedy. My favorite book by this author is “It had to be You.”
  6. Jane Austen – Pride and Prejudice. Countless plays, movies – this book is such a classic that it is even referenced in other historical romance books! Classic Romance.
  7. Nicholas Sparks – “The Notebook” was made into a movie, and my personal favorite – “Safe Haven”. Contemporary Romance.
  8. Jude Deveraux. I read her book “The Summerhouse” as a teenager, and thought it was beautiful! Contemporary Romance and chicklit fiction.
  9. Alyssa Cole – Contemporary Romance. I loved “Duke by Default” because it combines sword designers, social media and Instagram influencer and a realistic way of showing people’s biases and insecurities.
  10. Karen Marie Moning – Normally I don’t read fantasy or paranormal (except Harry Potter as a teen), but her Scottish Highlander series are Time travel romances mixing fantasy, medieval romance and contemporary ideals.
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Good Leaders & Managers

Title – The Truth about Managing People
Author – Stephen P. Robbins

REVIEW SCORE – 5/5 *****

I first bought this book for an MBA class on organizational behavior. Compared to the dry, and sometimes boring texts on management, this book was really unique because of the bite-sized chapter. Very similar to Seth Godin (marketing and consulting) and Avinash Kaushik (web analytics and data visualization) as I am a huge fan of both.

As a new manager, I found this a valuable resource, especially since I don’t have direct reports but supervise a bunch of contractors from our vendor-partners. I also lead a 1000+ member meetup, and inter-disciplinary projects at work, which means I often have to lead without a title and persuade people to agree on conflicting agendas.

However, even early career professionals will benefit from the book because it makes you understand what skills and behaviors will help you accelerate your career. For new and experienced managers, there will be many “A-ha” moments when you finally understand why your colleagues, peers or even executive leadership behave the way they do!

This book essentially summarized the best research on management principles into short, usable strategies. There are sections on motivation, hiring, conflict management, so the book is like an MBA-in-a-box. Similar to “Tools of the Titans”, but shorter and more focused on managerial topics. So you will want to keep a copy handy and refer different chapters at different stages and situations.

Pearls of Wisdom from the Book:

Some gems that resonated with me, and things that you will learn:
[1] People skills matter! Merit, competency and hierarchy are baselines for success, but excellent people skills will propel you like nothing else.
[2] How to conduct realistic job interviews, to hire more efficiently.
[3] Making the most of appraisals, irrespective of which side of the table you are on.
[4] I never heard the term “buddy” system, even though my company has it (called “shadowing”). I definitely attribute my success to the fact that this helped me shorten the learning curve and socialize faster with key stakeholders.
[5] Visionary leadership matters. I think women managers especially get hindered by this, but the fact is that a lofty goal motivates employees to find workarounds and creative solutions for near-impossible goals.

There are many more strategies for being both an efficient manager and a brilliant leader, but I will let you learn those directly from the book!

What I disagree:

The only point I disagreed slightly was the chapter on “mentors”. Like Sally Helgesen (Women who Rise) and Lois Frankel (Nice Girls still Don’t Get the Corner Office), we need “advocates” not mentors to get ahead in the career ladder. Mentors are important, but most corporate programs haven’t morphed these into sponsorship, which to me, defeats the purpose of mentoring. Still, I do agree that mentoring is important, especially early in your career.

Conclusion:

Overall, I love the book! Conversations with my managers and perceptions about me as a worthy leader, have improved since I started applying the principles in this book. In short, a Must read!

Similar authors – Tools of the Titans (Tim Ferris), Seth Godin’s blog , Avinash Kaushik’s blog Occam’s Razor – , Jack Welch, Robin Sharma, Carol Dweck (Mindset), Peter Drucker (Management/ Marketing), Adam Grant (Originals) .
TV shows – Not really applicable, but if you like Boston Legal and Shark Tank, you should test ride this book too!

Happy Reading!

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Title – End Game
Author – David Baldacci

REVIEW SCORE – 4.5/5

What’s to love about the book?

A thrilling, plot twister that will keep you guessing till the end. This is a book in the Will Robie Series, although I personally have never read the other books in the series. However, I am a big Baldacci fan, and his book “The Winner” and “Absolute Power” were my favorites for years in high school! This book reminded me why I was such a die-hard fan! It’s amazing how Baldacci can keep churning out plot after plot, without losing his touch to keep readers engaged and on the edge of their seats.

There are a lot of seemingly side stories, but the author doesn’t let us lose focus of the main story. The middle dragged a bit, but the end ties all the threads together, so the narrative is truly brilliant. You don’t see a lot of stories where the main characters are both assassins and detectives – sort of Jack Reacher meets Sherlock Holmes, so I loved it!

There is a lot of action and violence in the book, but of course the good guys win against all odds, due their brilliant mercenary skills. It also showed a lot of “grey” decisions that law enforcement officials often need to make – some decisions are unethical but necessary for the greater good, and some which seem correct at the time, feel foolish with hindsight. The Doomsday argument conversations felt a bit forced, but it did present some interesting perspectives that I wouldn’t have thought about, not being the uber-rich! 🙂

As always, the action scenes are amazing, I could almost imagine the explosions and raining bullets as if it were a movie. And in all fairness, it would probably make an amazing movie plot like Fast and Furious or Jack Ryan type series.

Finally, big shout out to “BJs”, my local big box retailer which recently started selling bestselling authors at unbelievably low prices. Beats Amazon, Walmart and every other retailer, especially since my book is a mint condition hardcover copy! My bookworm soul and frugal-Indian brain are both ecstatic!

Who should try this book?

If you’ve never heard or tried Baldacci books, then you will love it if you like action or thriller books. Alternatively, folks who love the movies and authors below, will find it entertaining as well.

Similar authors – Daniel Silva, Robert Ludlum, James Patterson and Tom Clancy.
Movies & TV shows – Jack Ryan, Mission Impossible, Rambo, Fast and Furious.

Happy Reading!

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