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Archive for October, 2009

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Traditional Publishing or Self-Publishing?

Much has been written as to how to get a traditional publisher, or why you would want to self publish.  Here are the reasons as I see them.

TRADITIONAL:
* No money up front
* Less time and learning commitment
* Small royalties and none until advance is recovered by publisher
* Loss of control over final product - they bought your book and can make it into anything they want it to be
* Little say in the design of the cover or interior
* Ego of getting traditionally published
* Your book will come and go within 6 months unless it hits it big and you can’t do anything about it
* Other versions (audio, e-book, foreign rights, first serial rights, etc.) may or may not be worked by the publisher (although they will be contracted for)
* author is often contractually obligated to certain marketing activities

SELF PUBLISHING:
* Steeper learning curve - but you can pay for activities you don’t know how to do (editing, design, typesetting, marketing, print quotes)
* Author/publisher responsible for total costs - you are now in business for yourself
* You get to make all editorial and design decisions - as well as all business decisions - YOU control the process
* Your book will be in print much sooner - typical traditional time frame is 18-24 months from beginning of negotiations
* You get to decide how the book will be marketed and to whom, when and for how long
* The book can continue to be promoted and marketed for years increasing revenues as it gets "legs" and requires less hand-holding and marketing
* You get to keep all revenues - no royalties to deal with
* You see all sales reports - no guessing if you are being paid correctly
* If you like the business and want to write more books, the process becomes easier and easier - and your business framework is already set-up allowing a more streamlined operation with less cost and more profit

As to which is a better decision. There is a place for both, but with over 500,000 new books being published each year - and less than half of them through traditional publishing houses, you can see which way the pendulum is swinging. The traditional houses are taking less and less risk with unknown authors - if you don’t already have a strong "platform" - a celebrity, sports figure, entertainer, well known Dr. etc. - you have little chance of being traditionally published - there are exceptions, but they are becoming rarer.

The ironic part is, IF you have that strong platform, you really need the traditional publisher less than the unknown person! More and more speakers and celebrities are self-publishing because you can hire everything done on the front end, and keep all the revenues on the back end.

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Have I been Subsidy Published?

The "accepted" key to deciding on the publishing "model" is: who owns the ISBN?

If you own it and pay for some help in doing your own publishing, then the company or people who help you are thought of as coaches - then you get all the profits and pay all the bills.

If someone else owns the ISBN’s - it is their publisher prefix - AND you pay them to do some package of services, then they are defined as a subsidy house. They are listed as the publisher of record and control your book AND pay you royalties of some sort. 

Some are better than others, but realize if it isn’t your own ISBN block, then someone else has published your work and if you participate in the cost of doing that (production, marketing, etc.), then you have been subsidy published. If someone else owns the ISBN and you haven’t participated in the cost of being published, then you are "traditionally" published.

It really is that simple. No matter how many flowery words you put around it, there are only three ways to be published:

  • Traditional (they own the ISBN and you don’t pay them and you get royalties),
  • Self (you own the ISBN, pay all the bills and keep all the profits) and
  • Subsidy (they own the ISBN, you pay some participation in the costs and they pay you royalties).

Everyone falls into one of those categories. From there, the actual operational implementation of all three varies widely. You need to very carefully analyze what you are getting from your invested dollars.

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10 Tips for Successful Book Store Events

 

Here are the 10 things that any author should REQUIRE of a book store when booking an event - if you don’t get these things, it will be a waste of time.

1) Stock books a month prior to the event and display prominently with a sign announcing the event
2) Have signs at the cash register about the event with fliers for patrons to take with them (better if they stuff them into every purchase bag)
3) Have the event and information about it on their website 1-3 months in advance
4) Talk it up in their newsletter at least one month in advance
5) Post it to appropriate "calendars" in local newspapers and other media
6) Send media announcements (PR) about event (author should send to their media list also) - written by either the author or the store
7) Author should attempt to get booked on local radio or TV within a day or so of the event
8) Author needs to post event on their website with a link to book store website 1-3 months in advance
9) Author and book store should utilize any local blogs or websites that will promote the event.
10) Author needs to post to Twitter, Linked In groups, FB and other appropriate social media several times in the week prior to the event.

Here is an article about one of my most successful events - in tiny, little Spokane, WA

Here’s to more great events that make independent publishers look great!

"If it is to be, it is up to me."

 

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Follow-up Critical to Getting Media Coverage

With over 500,000 new books being issued every year - and all of them wanting reviews, it truly has become the "squeaky wheel gets the grease" If you don’t follow-up - and that doesn’t mean become a pest - your rate of success will be much lower.

What we are finding that works is the following:

1) Don’t mail any unsolicited review copies. They mostly go in the trash.

2) Send a well-done email query to the appropriate editor with some background, a short bio, story ideas, and a "hook" (that element of controversy, education or entertainment that sets your book apart from others).

3) Don’t look just for a "review" - articles about your book contents or you and your connection to the book have much greater impact and are sometimes easier to get than a review.

4) Package your review copy with a sticker on the inside cover with all the pertinent details about the books distribution, marketing efforts, contact information, publisher, etc.

5) Include only a press release or sell sheet and a bio - no fancy "press kit" works any more (with a few exceptions) - they usually get stripped off and put in the garbage in the mail room.

6) Pack your book with a "Per Your Request" sticker on the outside of the package

7) Consider sending it Priority Mail (their flat rate envelope works great) if the reviewer is prominent or difficult to reach

8)  Set yourself a follow-up for about two weeks out and send a gentle inquiry - "Just following up to make sure your review copy arrived safely and to see if you have had an opportunity to flip through it yet. Please let me know when you know what your plans might be for the book." That will usually elicit some type of response.

9) Continue to follow-up at appropriate intervals (based on email conversation) until you get a firm NO or you get the review or article promised by the reviewer.  After all, you spent the money to send a review copy that they requested - they have some obligation to follow through also.

10) Once the review/article is published, send the journalist a hand written thank you note - if you have postcards for your book - a postcard is perfect - it reminds them of who you are. Add the journalist to your media list and stay in touch to build the relationship for future story ideas. Become an expert in your field.

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Kindle Books Show Rapid Growth

 

In today’s New York Times, Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com, announced the Global Kindle, but what was most interesting was his statement at the end of the article:

 

"Mr. Bezos declined to offer specific information about Kindle sales. But he said Kindle titles were now 48 percent of total book sales in instances where Amazon sold both a digital and physical copy of a book. That was up from 35 percent last May, an increase Mr. Bezos called “astonishing.”

“This has grown much faster than any of us ever anticipated,” Mr. Bezos said."

 

Astonishing indeed.  Trees everywhere are breathing easier!  All one has to do is look at a selection of Amazon.com listings to see that many, many books (I think the number is around 600,000) are now available in Kindle format.

While my own sales numbers (48% are Kindle where both print and electronic are offered) don’t jive with his numbers, we are definitely seeing an increase in activity from the sale of Kindle books.

Here is the link to the full article: http://snipurl.com/sdzh2

 

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Build an Organic Web Presence

Here are my ideas for building your internet presence without spamming people, tweeting daily or building a Facebook page.  I call this organic growth. All it takes is time.

1) Become part of the communities that are interested in your genre - for me, travel sites, retirement sites, boomer sites - for others it can be cooking sites, business sites, dog sites, parenting, etc. - start participating in the discussions a couple times a month. Always add to the discussion with interesting material and include a link to an article you wrote, or a link to your website, etc.

2) Respond to blog articles in your topic area (set Google Alerts so you are notified when your "key words" appear in a story) - again offer your information or opinion in their comment section or directly to the blogger, and links to your site.

3) Ask bloggers in your genre to review your book - send them a review copy and follow-up to make sure your story gets posted.

4) Use Google Alerts to follow news stories in your genre.  Use those journalists names/emails to build your media list so that when you do a news release, you have your own list to send to with the hope that they will be interested in your PR and follow-up with you to do a story.

5) When you find a news story in your genre in a newspaper or magazine, go to the comments section and comment on the story, add information from your perspective and leave your contact information including your website.

6) Trade links and stories with complimentary websites and blogs - build a relationship with others in your genre - help each other out with ideas.

7)  Write articles about your topic and submit to sites such as ArticleCity.com and Ezinearticles.com - other bloggers and websites go to places like this for content to post.  The ‘quid pro quo" is that they keep your bio at the bottom in tact (with your website address) and keep you as the author. I find articles all the time that I wrote years ago that are still being picked up. One just yesterday that I wrote in 2007!

I have been doing this now for 6 years and have a presence on thousands of places on the web. All of these tactics will also improve your page ranking/SEO of your website. I just Googled my "book title" (always in "quotes") - and it says there are 6,100 places on the web that have my title associated with them.  No advertising has been done - all organic growth. All without costing me a dime - except my time.

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"And I thought after 40 years of writing, I could write a sales letter... WRONG! Carol White's letter went beyond my imagination and into the sales stratosphere. Thanks, Carol! " -- AD Walker