Kobo Writing Life Podcast

In a slight twist to the normal format for the podcast, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, who is interested in getting involved in podcasting interviews Mark Lefebvre, Joanna Penn and J, Daniel Sawyer about podcasting for authors.

Some of the questions that Kris asks in the discussion, are:

--> How did you get started in podcasting?

-->What schedule(s) do the podcasts come out on? Monthly, Weekly, Daily.

--> Has podcasting interfered with writing or has it augmented it?

In the course of the discussion, Kris, Mark, Joanna and Dan talk about:

--> How podcasting allows them to network, learn, and connect with others
--> How the podcast needs to become a "habit" for listeners. Joanna, for example, shares stats about how moving to a weekly format increased her listener engagement
--> the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) value when you add a transcrpt of the show on your website
--> How Joanna almost gave up podcasting a couple of years ago because of the time it took away from her writing and how having a monetization strategy helped with that
--> Authors like Scott Sigler and Terry Fallis who used podcasting to build their audiences and kick-off their writing careers
--> Time management challenges, tools used and how the use of "batching" (pre-recording a number of episodes in a single sitting) has benefited Joanna Penn and J. Daniel Sawyer
--> The value of adding a personal side to a podcast, and the way that has benefited The Creative Penn podcast
--> Bundlerabbit- a service that allows people to curate their own bundles
--> The use of ad space swapping with other podcasts in order to expand one's audience
--> Podcast distribution options
--> The importance of listening to a podcast before pitching yourself to them as a potential guest

In the wrap-up, Mark talks about the importance of constantly learning.  Kristine Kathryn Rusch is an industry veteran who teaches and mentors writers directly and on her amazing blog "The Business Rusch" But even after all those decades of experience, she still has an open mind and is willing to learn, because the publishing industry is constantly changing and evolving.


Links to other interviews with the same guests:

Episode 16 - Joanna Penn

Episode 29 - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Episode 54 - The Uncollected Anthology (with Kris)

Episode 56 - J. Daniel Sawyer


Other Links of Interest:

Joanna Penn's HOW TO PODCAST

The Creative Penn Podcast

J. Daniel Sawyer's Full Suite of Audio/Podcasts


Direct download: KWL_Podcast_069_PodcastingForAuthors.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:42am PDT

In Episode 68, we check in with Ethan Jones, a spy thriller author who decided to go wide with his novels and focus on growing his Kobo sales. His 2015 sales were up 260% over 2014, and every month has broken his sales record from the preceding month. Kobo is now Ethan's leading retailer, bringing him healthy four figures each month and rising. How did he accomplish this? What advice does he have for authors considering publishing to KWL, or just starting out? Tune in to find out!

  • Ethan has three spy thriller series currently on the go
  • His inspirations: Brad Thor, Vince Flynn, Baldacci, Tom Clancy, Bourne series
  • He feels it’s important to not only know the market, but to know the basic story lines of major authors in his genre and not repeat them; “Readers are more likely to believe that Ethan Jones copied Brad Thor than the reverse.”
  • Why he switched from exclusive with another retailer to wide distribution. Since then, his Kobo sales have grown in a big way. He saw a 260% increase in sales for 2015 over 2014. Every month is higher and higher, now bringing in healthy four figures per month, more than all other retailers combined. It took perseverance in terms of both time and effort
  • When you upload to Kobo, give the books time. Inform your readers that they are available in that channel. Think of your career as a marathon – you are laying the groundwork to establish a readership globally, across multiple retail channels
  • Sold books in 30 countries so far through Kobo, including Fiji and Turks and Caicos
  • Ethan still works a full-time job, and does his writing during his commute and lunch break. He catches up on email and marketing on the weekend
  • Connects with the writing community through online forums, cross-promotions, and attending conferences
  • On Mailing Lists: he manages two lists. 1) 2 emails a month, goes to everyone who has expressed interest in him and his books. Brief update, new releases, any deals, offers that include cross-promoting 2-3 other authors.  2) ARC readers, 1 email a month about review copies and a reminder about posting reviews
  • Releases a new book every 3-4 months
  • Average cost of producing each book: $200-$300 per book for editing/proofreading. $200 for a cover. Under $500 per book total
  • Beyond BookBub, his promotional strategies include: tell readers about all new books, price pre-order lower than launch price. Send occasional flash sales to his mailing lists. Hit some of the smaller promotional website opportunities beyond BookBub
  • Something his readers might not know about him: English isn’t his first language (it’s Albanian), and Ethan Jones is a pen name
  • A few overall words of wisdom:
  1. Start right away with building a mailing list. Invite anyone and everyone you know – it might surprise you to learn who is interested in your writing.
  2. Distribute widely; think about your career as a long-term gig, and give yourself 18 months to work on promoting new channels.



Author Ethan Jones on Facebook

AuthorEJones on Twitter

Ethan Jones is the author of the wildly popular Justin Hall spy thriller series, featuring Canadian Intelligence Service special agents operating mostly in the Middle East. This series has nine books so far. The first four books in this series have reached the Amazon’s Top 10 Best Sellers lists. Ethan has also started a new spy series: Carrie Chronicles, which features Justin Hall’s partner, Carrie O’Connor, in solo adventures. The first two novels in this series, Priority Target and Codename: Makarov have already come out and more are expected to be released in 2017.

He is also working on a romantic suspense series, featuring Jennifer Morgan, set in New York. The first book in this series, The Secret Affair, is already out and the second and the third will be published in fall and winter 2016. Ethan is a lawyer by trade, and he lives in Edmonton, Canada, with his wife and son.

Direct download: Ethan_Jones_ep_068.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00am PDT

What if some of the artists we feel as if we know – Meryl Streep, Neil Young, Bill Murray – turned up in the course of our daily lives?

That’s the basis of this collection of linked stories that follow Rose McEwan, an ordinary woman who keeps having extraordinary encounters with famous people.

Nora Parker, Merchandising Coordinator at Kobo, interviews Marni Jackson, author of Don’t I Know You? Published by Flatiron Books in New York.

In the interview, Nora and Marni discuss:

  • Marni’s turn to fiction from her previous books such as Pain: The Science of Why We Hurt and Home Free: The Myth of the Empty Nest
  • The accidental manner by which these stories ended up converging into the linked-stories novel that it became, starting with a short story Marni wrote called “Bob Dylan Goes Tubing” which was originally published in The Walrus in September 2012
  • How that same “Bob Dylan” short story was inspired by a painting that her son created one afternoon when they were at the cottage
  • How Jackson choose who to include in the stories and how Rose McEwan’s relationship to celebrity evolves throughout the tales
  • How Bill Murray is a great character in the book because of the carefully curated and crafted persona of “Bill Murray” that he deftly manages and uses to connect with his fans (or, to use a very Canadian term, as Marni does: “Stick-handles” his fame in a really interesting way
  • The interesting relationship between celebrity and audience and how the audience or fans actually “author” a celebrity’s fame
  • The manner by which celebrities don’t necessarily exist “out there” in the distance, but that they are very much a part of our creative lives (ie, we may put on one of their songs while we are having sex – a perfect example of how they are incorporated into those intimate moments)
  • The juxtaposition of the journalist in Jackson who enjoyed documenting real elements from the celebrities in this book with the fun and fictional encounters with Rose
  • Jackson’s interest in our relationships with celebrities and our relationship to fame rather than in the cult of celebrity
  • The Al Purdy stage show project that Jackson is currently working on based on the film al purdy was here which she co-wrote that her husband, Brian D. Johnson, directed
  • The concerns regarding the mention of famous people in the book and the fact that Jackson’s lawyer went through it with her line-by-line to ensure there was nothing that could be construed as libelous or defamation of character

After the interview, Mark Lefebvre, Director of Kobo Writing Life and Author Relations, shares some thoughts regarding Author Branding, outlining some ways in which an author can ensure that they are curating and presenting a consistent author persona or brand out into the world. He draws upon a couple of examples that, like in the Bill Murray reference Marni Jackson uses, are Canadian. He uses his own example of the use of the life-sized skeleton Barnaby Bones that he employs for his Mark Leslie horror/paranormal/ghost story author persona. He also explores Hugo and Nebula Award winning science fiction writer Robert J. Sawyer who uses the “Dean of Canadian Science Fiction” element throughout his persona, including the name of his website: SFWRITER.COM. As a final example, Mark looks at the fonts uses in the title for the Netflix original STRANGER THINGS and how that makes a promise to potential viewers.

Other links of interest:

Marni Jackson's Website

Marni Jackson's Books on Kobo

Flatiron Books

The Walrus Magazine

Branding for Writers – from Joanna Penn’s The Creative Penn

Direct download: KWL_Podcast_067_MarniJackson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:34am PDT

Recorded at Kobo's headquarters, this episode features Toronto-based literary agent Sarah Heller, from the Helen Heller Agency. Why did Sarah become an agent? What are some benefits to being an agent in Toronto? What are some key tips for authors planning to query an agent? Tune in as Sarah and US Manager Christine Munroe discuss all of this and more.

  • Sarah has a background is in fine arts, but her mother (Helen) started the agency in 1988 so she grew up with publishing in the background. Sarah joined the agency 11 years ago.

  • Growing up she always loved reading, was surrounded by books, and all of that fell into place when she started agenting.

  • Why Sarah loves working in Toronto; it offers the benefit of being easily accessible to other international publishing centres, New York, and London, but is separate enough that there’s a vibrant Toronto/Canadian writing and publishing community.

  • Why she loves being an agent. She can wear many hats – introduce people and projects to one another, dig into the creative process with edits, negotiate contracts.

  • “With the advent of being able to publish quickly online…it’s a very viable way of publishing your book and doing well with it financially and critically.”

  • She helps her authors make best use of all of their work. Many authors have projects stowed away that haven’t been published, or have gone out of print, so there’s great new potential in digital publication.

  • Their agency manages a KWL account and helps authors publish digitally to Kobo. “The landscape is so fluid that you can publish a book online…that can then retroactively be picked up by a publisher if that’s ultimately what an author wants… There are also cases of certain territories not having access to a book that now they do.”

  • They want to take advantage of all opportunities to help their authors advance their careers.

  • How to stand out when querying an agent:

  • Get the name of the person you’re addressing your query to. Never, “Dear Sir or Madam” (no “sirs” at their agency, for example!).

  • Research what kind of books the agency handles – and does not handle.

  • Brief and to the point query letter, synopsis and your background.

  • No gimmicks necessary.


Sarah Heller has developed an internationally and New York Times bestselling list. She specializes in establishing new authors with a focus on front list commercial YA and adult fiction. Sarah received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from York University, and is a graduate of the Advertising Design program of the Ontario College of Art and Design.

Direct download: Sarah_Heller_interview.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00am PDT

Reedsy's ambition extends beyond just being a place where authors can connect with publishing professionals; it's a place for collaborative tools and with an ultimate goal of assisting the publication process right from the first written word of an author's manuscript right through the typesetting, publishing and marketing of the final book.

Mark Lefebvre, Kobo Writing Life Director, interviews Matthew Cobb, co-founder and lead designer of Reedsy regarding the platform and the amazing online Book Editor tool.

In the interview Mark and Matthew discuss:

  • What Reedsy is (a marketplace for authors and editors, designers, etc to meet and collaborate as well as an online tool that allows authors to both collaborate in the creation process, but also produce production ready ePub and print on demand files)
  • How the filters allow an author to find the right professional to provide the right editorial services to them, and the quote request process where you can request a free quote from up to 5 different matching professionals
  • The curatorial process by which editors and other professionals apply to be within this ecosystem and are vetted and approved by the team at Reedsy
  • How Reedsy doesn’t only handle the introduction to the publishing professional but also the transaction (ie, payment to the editor), but also the file transfer, as well as customer support and assistance
  • Details about the online book editor and how it was born out of the frustration inherent when one of the founders wanted to publish a book
  • The issues inherent with trying to use WORD to typeset and prepare a book for print-readiness along with how an author can simply copy and paste their WORD file document into the editor and it’ll preserve all the formatting, including headings, alignment, etc
  • The ability for editors and authors to work together collaboratively online using the Reedsy Book Editor
  • The use of templates that authors select, when they’re ready to export their print ready or ePub format file
  • Whether or not this free editor is good for other formats such as children’s books, cookbooks, or other fixed layout types of book formats
  • A bit about the four co-founders of Reedsy and the internal Reedsy family of employees
  • Matthew’s favourite advice for a beginning writer to get on the right track for success

Mark then talks about the importance of finding the right person for the right job (ie, an author looking for just the right editor) and relates that to both the story of Goldilocks (how she kept trying things until she found the one that was just right), as well as the concept of asking a more detailed question in order to get the most optimum answer for you.


Links of Interest:


Reedsy Book Editor

The Reedsy Blog

Reedsy on Twitter

Direct download: KWL_Podcast_065_MatthewCobbReedsy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:42pm PDT

In Episode 64 of the Kobo Writing Life Podcast, KWL Director Mark Lefebvre interviews Robyn Baldwin, author of Love Lost, Life Found: 8 Practical Steps to Heal a Broken Heart.

In the interview, Mark and Robyn discuss:

  • Robyn’s past work as a Senior Integrated Marketing Manager
  • How the book itself has been three years in the making – first and foremost as a journaling experience; and then, later, in response to others, who, in reading her journal, thanked her for sharing it as it helped them
  • The specific identification of the target audience for this book: someone who has called off a wedding, gone through a divorce or left a toxic relationship
  • The additional target for this book might be younger women for whom this book might help them to identify what a difficult relationship looks like so they never have to put themselves in that situation
  • How the book might also be targeted at a “13 year old Robyn” as something that she wished she could have had
  • The underlying message of the book that there is a life to be found after all the “broken bits”
  • The role of social media in both her demise as well as in her healing: Such as the “false picture” that she was actively portraying even while in the midst of the dark depths of the toxic relationship and then how
  • The role of Pinterest in the time leading up to the wedding, and then, later, the more important role of how she used Pinterest to find motivational quotes
  • The significance of the release date for this book, August 25th, and how a comment from her mother led her to wanting to change, or take control of that date as a positive thing
  • Robyn’s identification as an Alpha Female and the inspiring Alpha Female Podcast that she hosts
  • Her definition of an Alpha Female: An Alpha Female is a powerful and assertive woman. Her confidence is due to being an intelligent and intellectual problem-solver. Being an Alpha Female is a State of Mind based on choosing ambition and being proud of it. She strives for a happy and healthy work/life harmony
  • How Robyn’s background in marketing helped her with the aspect of planning out the book and the book launch path
  • The timeline, schedule and check-lists that Robyn managed within Asana for the both the self-publishing steps as well as the marketing efforts leading up to the launch of the book
  • Robyn’s advice for other first-time authors for where and how they should consider starting
  • How a lot of the promotional efforts Robyn is participating in aren’t about promoting the book, but about sharing valuable pieces from the book with various online sources: such as the “calling off a wedding check-list”
  • An interesting revelation of how, when Robyn reached out to literary agents regarding the book, she was told her platform reach (which was in the realm of 20,000 people), wasn’t large enough and that she should consider self-publishing it
  • The authentic and organic way that the book itself was woven into Robyn’s personal and social media presence
  • Robyn’s use of Gary Vaynerchuk’s concept of “Jab Jab Jab Right Hook” - from his book of the same name


Other links of interest:

Robyn’s Website - http://robynbaldwin.com

The Book: Love Lost, Life Found

Robyn on Facebook

Robyn on Pinterest

Robyn on Twitter

Robyn's Instagram - http://instagram.com/RobynBaldwin

Robyn on YouTube

Direct download: KWL_Podcast_EP_064_RobynBaldwin.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:38am PDT

Episode 63 features NYT bestselling author Melody Anne, who began publishing in 2011 and has published forty (!) books and sold over 7 million copies since then. What strategies helped her get to where she is today, and what’s working best for her now? How has becoming a bestselling hybrid author changed her life? Tune in and get inspired by Melody Anne’s incredible journey, which she shares with US Manager Christine Munroe. At the end of the episode, Christine shares some reminders for planning your new releases as we head into fall.

  • Melody Anne never grew up dreaming of being an author, because she couldn’t have imagined the tools that exist today and empower authors to self-publish
  • She’s self-published 40 books in 5 years
  • Her first conference was RWA in Anaheim, when self-publishing was spoken about more negatively. She stayed quiet but met Ruth Cardello, who became her mentor and inspired her to make her first book free
  • Melody was horrified by this strategy – it took her a year to write the first book. But her sales exploded, with 40,000 downloads in the first day, followed by a huge spike in her paid books
  • Another important moment was when a NYT bestselling author sitting next to her at a signing told her that she had done a great job and had a successful signing – that validation meant a lot to her
  • Market changes from 2012 to now, from her perspective: more volume, more books priced at free, more niche genres. Marketing strategies have completely shifted to adapt to these developments
  • Another huge moment was when she hit #3 on the NYT Bestseller list. She still finds it hard to believe that so many people want to buy her books when there are so many others to choose from nowadays
  • “My day to day life is horrifyingly boring.” Half the time she’s in her pajamas at her computer for 12 hours a day, and forgets to brush her hair
  • Her release schedule these days: self-publishing, and publishing with Montlake and Pocket. She has a release every month for the remainder of 2016
  • How she gets it all done: she currently has 6 people working with her, 3 of whom are full-time
  • She works hard to engage with fans on Facebook, Goodreads, over email, but from her perspective the best way to connect with fans is face-to-face at conferences and readings. But when authors are out meeting fans, they need to remember that first impressions are crucially important. You can’t take back a bad first impression
  • The importance of writers getting out into the real world, away from their computers at home. “When you sit at home too long, you kind of forget… When I’m out, I watch how people talk and interact, and all of those things go in my books.”




@melodyanneauthor Facebook

@authmelodyanne  twitter

@melodyanneromance  Instagram


NYT and USA Today bestselling author Melody Anne wrote for years, then published in 2011, finding her true calling, and a love of writing nonstop. Holding a Bachelor’s Degree in business, she loves to write about strong, powerful, businessmen and the corporate world. When Melody isn’t writing, she cultivates strong bonds with her family and enjoys time spent with them as well as her friends, and beloved pets. A country girl at heart, she loves the small town and strong community she lives in and is involved in many community projects. To date, Melody has over 7 million book sales and has earned a spot on multiple best seller lists, including being an Amazon top 100 bestselling author for 3 years in a row, as well as a Kobo and iBooks best seller. But beyond that, she just loves getting to do what makes her happiest – live in a fantasy world, 95% of the time.

Direct download: KWL_EP_064_-_Melody_Anne.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:48am PDT

In a KWL Podcast first, we checked in with an editor from a major publishing house, Tessa Woodward from HarperCollins. In her eleven years at Harper, specializing in editing romance, women’s fiction, and historical fiction, Tessa has seen the industry go through the parallel changes in the emergence of eBooks and self-publishing. Tune in to her Tessa and KWL US Manager Christine Munroe chat about:


  • The range of genres Tessa edits: women’s fiction, romance (historical and contemporary), some mystery and non-fiction. She is specifically always looking for great romance, especially historical
  • What the submission process is like at HarperCollins. Avon Impulse has an open submission policy – it’s one of the few remaining imprints that offers that opportunity for authors without literary agents. They receive 100-400 submissions a month
  • What Tessa looks for in a new submission: a great voice
  • She had no background in romance before she started at Avon. How she fell in love with the genre, and the “classic” romance authors she read first in her self-education when she first started: Julia Quinn, Lisa Kleypas, Rachel Gibson, Stephanie Laurens, Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Now, Tessa is a big-time romance book lover who rarely reads outside the genre
  • During a typical workday, Tessa doesn’t have time to do much reading or editing. She reviews covers, marketing and publicity, writes and approves copy, takes editorial calls with authors, and answers a lot of emails
  • Why Tessa doesn’t expect an unpublished author to have a social media platform established when they approach a publishing house
  • Her one big pet peeve when it comes to authors who do have social media already in place
  • When she’s looking at self-published authors interested in a traditional deal, she’s much more interested in the potential of this specific story than eBook sales track record for previous books. She still has to pitch the new book to bookstores, who won’t be very interested in hearing just about eBook sales or free download numbers
  • The main benefits, from Tessa’s point of view, of working with a publisher today. You get an experienced support team who share the publishing burden with you, so that you can focus on writing your next book.
  • Tessa joined HarperCollins 11 years ago, and has seen the industry undergo changes in digital publishing and self-publishing, particularly in romance. She thinks new digital opportunities have opened up the chance for publishers to experiment and publish a lot more books, and a wider range of voices
  • How she feels about hybrid authors – “As long as we’re working together, I think it’s great!” Hybrid authors bring new insights, and can create opportunities for new hybrid marketing models and more


Senior Editor Tessa Woodward edits a wide array of romance, women's fiction, and historical fiction. On the romance side, she edits authors across all genres, including the New York Times and USA Today bestsellers Tessa Dare, Jennifer L. Armentrout, Jennifer Bernard, and Maya Rodale. Her women’s fiction titles range from USA Today bestseller Shelley Noble’s beach-set novels, to Molly McAdams’ New York Times bestselling New Adult stories, to Lisa Turner’s psychological mysteries, and the darker, historical ORPHAN #8, a debut from Kim van Alkemade. She is the US editor for international bestseller Paullina Simons. On the nonfiction side, she is publishing THE WORLD OF MR. SELFRIDGE. She is looking for more women's fiction with strong characters, both historical and contemporary, as well as all genres of romance.


Direct download: Ep_62_Tessa_Woodward.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00am PDT

Episode 61 features an interview with Peter James, an international best-selling British writer of crime fiction, which took place at Kobo in June 2016 in front of a live audience. Peter is interviewed by Kobo Writing Life director Mark Lefebvre.

In the interview, Mark and Peter discuss:

  • Peter’s work on the Canadian television program POLKA DOT DOOR in Toronto in the 1970s where he worked as a "gofer" and was asked by a producer, when a regular staff writer called in sick, to write an episode. After that he ended up writing for the show for a year.
  • The original “Agatha Christie” style crime fiction that Peter was weaned on which had very strict rules and conventions: A dead body in chapter one; preferably in a country house; a bit of culture; a bit of sex; a little bit of violence and the hilariously fitting opening line that he has come up with which inserts all those elements
  • How Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock (one of two of the best crime novels ever written, in Peter’s eyes – the other one is Thomas Harris’s The Silence of the Lambs) is a book that changed Peter’s life, because it threw all of those rules out the window.
  • How Brighton Rock taught Peter 3 important things about novels: A great opening line. Where the central character is a villain that you can care about.
  • How some of the most enduring characters in all of literature have been villains.
  • How the villain in LOVE YOU DEAD was inspired by a woman Peter met on a prison visit
  • How having his house burgled let to Peter finding great friends from the police force who have invited him to learn directly from them for the past thirty years, inserting the authenticity that he so carves in his crime fiction
  • The dedicated police officer who, upon first meeting Peter, pointed to a mountainous stack of crates of manila folders and introduced them as his “dead friends” and how he eventually became the inspiration for Roy Grace
  • Two traits that really good detectives have: They are incredibly anal and capable of incredible out of the box thinking
  • Peter’s belief in the inseparable trinity of character, research and plot in creating writing
  • The great extremes that Peter has gone to in the name of research for his books, including being locked in a coffin for half an hour, held a live scorpion in his hand, been submerged in an overturned van
  • The book DEATH COMES KNOCKING: Policing Roy Grace’s Brighton that Peter is co-authoring based on long-running respect for the real police and the many years of research he has done with them
  • The haunted house that Peter lived in which partially inspired his novel THE HOUSE ON COLD HILL
  • The real character (Hayden Kelly) from Peter’s last three books who is a real guy and came up with forensic podiatry, the measurement of the unique gaits of different people

Mark then talks about the great ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) that he received from Peter’s Canadian distributor (see blog post here) as a great example of author branding and grabbing a reader or reviewer’s attention as well as another important resource that authors can rely on for digital branding:  PERSONALITY.  He uses the example of Peter’s YouTube channel and how it helped add a new layer a new dimension to Peter’s author brand, and how watching several videos of the author helped Mark, as a reader, feel connected to the author. Mark discusses the importance of that connection which can be achieved through digital mediums.


Direct download: KWL_Podcast_061_PeterJames.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:12pm PDT

KWL EP 060 - Book Blogging with Vilma Gonzalez

In this week’s episode, we’re focusing on book blogging. Vilma Gonzalez, the all-star blogger who runs Vilma’s Book Blog, shared her journey with us, along with tips for how authors and bloggers can work together to help one another succeed. Tune in to learn:

  • How Vilma developed the aesthetic and brand of her blog. She is a marketing expert by day, so she knows the importance of a website that is easy to use, clean, and represents her
  • The growth of the blog over three years, growing her audience from 100 followers to over 33,000 today
  • How did she make that happen? Hard work, dedication, time. She applied the rules of business, being professional and staying focused on what readers want to see, and who she wants to be as a blogger
  • Vilma targets various social media outlets differently based on the typical users for each – for example, Snapchat and Instagram skew younger than Facebook – so she tailors posts appropriately
  • Her typical day: she essentially works two full-time jobs. She’s worked in marketing and technology for 20 years, and still does that full-time. Then she comes home, takes care of her kids, and works late nights on the blog, reading books, scheduling social media posts for the next day, often until 1am
  • How to monetize a blog. Affiliate links and ads are the primary ways to build steady income, but the affiliate side especially recently has been unstable
  • On average, Vilma reads 3 books a week plus an audio book. She keeps things on a very organized schedule – one book Monday-Wednesday, one book Wednesday-Friday, and one on the weekend.
  • What is the value to authors for building relationships with bloggers? You’re getting access through a trusted source to a dedicated audience. Bloggers have built a level of trust with their followers, so that recommendation is a powerful tool. Authors can also use the opportunity to learn about how readers are reading and connecting with bloggers
  • #1 advice for authors approaching bloggers: pay attention to what they’re looking for. Understand who they are and what they like. #2: don’t approach too aggressively and come in with big expectations. For example, Vilma’s review schedule is booked 4-6 months in advance, so there’s not much she can do for an author hoping for support for a launch with short notice
  • How she balances her friendships with authors, and what she’s trying to accomplish on the blog, for example if she reads a book by a friend that isn’t a good fit for her
  • Why she has a policy to only post positive reviews (3-3.5 stars or more) on the blog. She wants to remain focused on sharing books that she loves
  • The parallels between bloggers and authors, including struggling with breaking through the clutter of volume and staying focused on a strong brand and solid marketing
  • The benefits to bloggers of attending conferences and connecting with authors and industry professionals in person
  • Advice for bloggers wanting to start today: figure out who you want to be, and keep everything centered on that primary value or identity

Vilma Gonzalez is a marketing professional by day and book reviewer by night. She's been devouring books since she was very young and in early 2013, created Vilma's Book Blog, a website dedicated to reviewing books of all genres. In addition, she also writes for USA Today's HEA blog, penning a column entitled Love In Suspense, which focuses on thrillers and mystery novels. Vilma also blogs about fashion and style trends and is determined to own every Alex and Ani bracelet every made. She currently lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and their two young sons. 

Direct download: Vilma_Gonzalez.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:28am PDT