Phone 888 522 8747 Cell 503 784 4749
Speaker Writer Marketing Coach

How to do “FREE” right

 

These days, everyone talks about free content. "Give it away!" they say, but does this really work? Well, yes and no. As with anything, there has to be a strategy. 

Recently I was on my morning run through our neighborhood and I noticed a number of garage sale signs (that’s tag sale for those of you back east). One of the signs had a sign beneath it that read: We have free stuff! As I ran though the neighborhood I passed that house and noticed they put all their free stuff in the "Free zone" and already, even at that early hour, hoards of people were migrating there. I passed the other garage sales which were doing OK, but not great. Clearly the one with the free stuff pulled more people, but did it actually sell more paid merchandise? Yes. I checked in with the sale after my run to find most of the good stuff gone (note to self: shop first, exercise later). When I talked to the homeowner they said that the free stuff went fast, but as I noted each time I passed by, it wasn’t junk stuff, it was actually good enough to make the garage sale shopper feel like they got a real deal. If it’s junk and it’s free, it doesn’t really matter. 

What’s the lesson here? Free stuff can help you sell more of the paid merchandise, but you have to be careful, because some people just want freebies and that’s fine. But they are not your customers. Here are some tips to help you maximize the use of free: 

1. Why free? The first question you should ask yourself is why are you doing this? If you aren’t sure, then free might not be right for you. Free content should be offered to help further your message, build a list, and get new people into your marketing funnel. If your model isn’t set up this way, maybe it should be. If you aren’t interested in this kind of a marketing model, then free probably isn’t your thing. 

2. Define how free can help: Figure out why you want to give free stuff. As I mentioned above, getting clear about your model will help determine if a free product is even worth your time. If it is, then you need to figure out how it will help you. As an example, we have a lot of free stuff on the Author Marketing Experts, Inc. site (www.ameauthors.com) but the free for us is designed to build trust. Distrust is rampant online, and in particular, in the book promotion and publishing industry. There are a lot of scams out there and so trust is important. Our free stuff builds our mailing list, yes, but it also builds trust. 

3. Make sure it’s really free: A lot of people have content that is purported to be free when it’s not really free. What I mean is that you get a sliver of it, not even a piece really worth mentioning, but the stuff you want is something you have to pay for. If you want to do free, make it free. Find something of value and give it to your customers. 

4. Make it something your end user wants: As I’ve mentioned a few times, make sure the free is something people want. If it isn’t you a) won’t bring in the right crowd of people (you’ll end up just getting the freebie hunters, and b) you won’t build your mailing list as fast. So, for example, give your readers something really substantial like an e-book or tips, or a workbook. Virtually any electronic product is easy to create and deliver. When I changed our freebie on the Author Marketing Experts, Inc. website, we quadrupled our sign-ups. So, what was the freebie? 52 Ways to Sell More Books. Now, as an author, isn’t that appealing to you? Exactly my point. 

So, what if you’ve written a fiction book? Well, consider this: 83% of Americans want to write a book, so what if you gave them a free how-to guide? You don’t even have to create this yourself, you could partner with someone who has already created this. If you don’t like that idea, consider (for those of you in the historical fiction market) doing a did-you-know piece on the history you’re referencing in your book. The idea here is to a) give value, and b) give your readers something they will care about. Also, whenever possible, give your readers something they need to keep so it will remind them of you and your book: tip sheets, workbooks, reference charts. All of these things are pieces that your consumer may keep, which can keep you top of mind. 

5. Take names: You should never give free away without asking for an email address. I see people do this all the time; they have a ton of free stuff but never collect emails. If that’s the case, the freebies you are offering may be of great value to your end user but they won’t matter to your marketing. Get emails. It’s called an ethical bribe. You get something (their email) and give them something (the free stuff). 

6. Make it easy to get: Don’t make free difficult. What I mean is make it easy to get your free stuff. If people have to jump through hoops, they won’t do it and the free stuff won’t matter. For example - put your free stuff on your home page, or at least have a link to it, though I recommend using free stuff as an ethical bribe (as a way to get sign-ups for your newsletter). When you ask for their email, make it easy. A simple click or two is all it should take. Then, don’t ask for too much information. If you ask me for my address, birthday, and whatnot I doubt I will want your free stuff that badly. Shorten the staircase. If you make it complicated, it’s not really free. Just bait. If you bait your consumer in this fashion you’ll lose them. 

7. Make the free stuff work for you: If you give away something, make sure that it works for you. What I mean is that when you get our free stuff, we always make sure and remind folks of who we are and what we do. For a while we had a free Twitter e-book that always went out with our product catalog imbedded in it. 

8. Call to action: Make sure that your free stuff has a call to action. You are collecting names and email addresses and building your list, that’s great. But what do you really want people to do? Define what you want them to do, and then include your call to action in the free stuff. Let’s face it, it’s a good piece - designed to help your reader - but it must also help you. It’s ok to promote your book on the last page, or encourage folks to do a consult with you if that’s what you offer. You can also offer specials and change these periodically in the giveaway. 

9. What will you give? People often ask me what you should give away, and I say, it depends: Who is your market and what do they want? Now, on our site you’ll see 52 Ways to Sell More Books, which is an e-book we offer when you sign up for our newsletter. Do our folks want that? You bet. Why? Because they are authors and authors want to sell more books. A special report or e-book always makes a great freebie, maybe you have a white paper that you did on the industry; if so, offer it as a freebie. 

10. Follow up! The best kind of free stuff is, as I like to call it, the gift that keeps giving. Auto responders are a great system but often underutilized when it comes to marketing. If you are collecting names and then never contacting your prospects again, what’s the point? Our 52 Ways to Sell More Books is delivered over several weeks, and then when we’re done, we deliver more quality content. People need to be reminded, and reminded again. Now, you can also funnel folks into your newsletter as I mentioned earlier. I do both. We have the auto responder and the newsletter. Think it’s too much? Maybe, but our market wants information. Define what your market wants and then give it to them. If a newsletter and an auto responder is overkill, then scale it back. No one knows your market like you do. 

The real key here is that free stuff can work well for you in so many ways, but free stuff without a goal is just free. Great to get free stuff, right? But then how is all of this hard work going to pay off for you? 

If you still aren’t a believer of free, try it for 90 days and see if it doesn’t change your life. If you do it right, free will monetize your audience like nothing else will. The biggest reason is that in an age of pushing things on consumers, your audience really wants to sample what you have to offer before they buy. Free is a great way to do that. It’s also a great way to stay in front of your audience, build trust, and develop a loyal following.

Reprinted from "The Book Marketing Expert newsletter," a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques. http://www.amarketingexpert.com

 

 

Like it? Recommend it


Build Your Presence and Expertise - You’ll be rewarded

Book success doesn’t happen overnight. It takes being in the marketplace long enough, working your media contacts consistently enough, having good search engine rankings so that people find you – and eventually people start coming to find you for your expertise – not your book – and then you get great quotes that sell books. 

This inquiry arrived this morning. I receive probably one of these every couple of weeks or so now – but to get an article around your expertise in a magazine of this scope is a gift.  Even though I no longer actively promote my book, all my previous work is still creating results - and selling books.

My name is XX and I’m the editorial intern at Realsimple.com.  I’m currently working on putting together a checklist for all the things you need to pack in your car for a big road trip, and I’m in need of an expert who can tell me exactly what all I should include. I thought that with you might be able to provide some expertise on the matter, as you have 50,000 miles under your belt.

Please let me know if you would be interested in helping out for this article and we could set up a time to talk on the phone. I appreciate your time and look forward to hearing from you.

Do you think I followed up on this email in about one minute! We had a great conversation and the article will be completed soon. 

This is the power of patience. You have to build your platform, collect your "tribe" and have an excellent web presence and you too will get calls like this. Patience - you can’t do it in a day or a week. That is why you should start well before your book comes out. I’ll link to the article when it comes out.

 

Like it? Recommend it


Are Book Award Contests Worth the Fees?

So many of my blog posts come out of responding to a question from a client or colleague and this is no exception.

Here’s why I think book awards are valuable to authors who are struggling to get recognition and feedback for their books: 

·         Stimulates sales – most people don’t care or understand what the award or sticker is – only that the book has one.

·         Stimulates bookings – get more radio interviews, book signings and speaking gigs

·         Provides credibility and feedback on the title for the author/publisher

·         Good for putting on your media materials to add credibility

·         Gets buyers in book stores, libraries and other outlets a reason to at least look at a book twice

·         The “gold seal” impresses consumers to buy the book when in a store or at a signing

·         Might get someone interested who wouldn’t be otherwise – like a traditional publisher – again it is the “second look” idea 

I have a story that I often tell about a book signing we did where we ran out of the books that the store had ordered from our distributor (they weren’t stickered), so I went to the car and brought in another case, which just happened to already be stickered. Pretty soon, the people who had bought the earlier store copies were coming back wanting their stickers – “why doesn’t mine have the award stickers on it?”  Geez, fortunately, I had brought extra stickers in my kit of supplies, so I went and got them and stickered their books – and the extras we left at the store. 

People are weird.  But I do know that my awards have helped my books and my consulting business.  Having won the Ben Franklin for the best marketed booked in 2006 was the start of my consulting business – people started calling me to help them with their books too.So awards are good for not just books.

I guess I feel that the small fee to enter (if you have a worthy book), is insignificant compared to the possible “good things” that can come from it. And yes, as many people point out, it is a good source of revenue for the company holding the contest, but they do have expenses for shipping to judges, preparing the awards, and in the case of the IPPYs and Ben Franklins – they put on quite a nice event for the winners and provide some publicity around the award winners.

Like it? Recommend it


How much does it cost to self-publish?

While it doesn’t have to be cost-prohibitive, getting a book published does require some money to do it in a way that will give you a real chance at success. As I’ve discussed here before, using a "self-publishing company" will only lead to heartache over the long run. People are now thinking that "if I just e-publish I won’t have to pay anything." This too is faulty thinking as you will see.

What we need to remember is that self-publishing is a business and, like any business, there are costs associated with running it. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune, but depending on how much you can do for yourself, you will have (minimally) costs in this range whether you e-publish or p-publish:

Business set-up: $20-$500+ depending on whether you set up as a sole proprietor, LLC, or corporation and what the laws are in your state regarding licensing, taxes etc.

Business tools: ($50-$2,000) computer, software, bookkeeping/checking account, business cards, stationery, website - some things you may already have, some you may have to acquire.

ISBN: block of 10 costs $250 from the US ISBN agency, Bowker. NEVER buy your ISBNs from someone else and never buy a singleton. The numbers identify who the publisher is and if you buy one or more from someone else - they are the publisher, not you. As a small press, you don’t need any of the other services offered by Bowker.

Book Production: This includes editing (about $500-$2,000 depending on what needs to be done), cover design (roughly $200-$1500), interior design and typesetting (depends on complexity and book length $200-$2000). If you can do some of these tasks yourself, then those costs can be reduced or eliminated, however, I don’t recommend skipping editing or editing your book yourself, even if you are professional editor - you are too close to it.

Marketing: $500-$5,000+ - depends on your goals for your book, how you will distribute it, what types of publicity you want to do (print, broadcast, internet & live appearances), and, again, how much knowledge you have to do some tasks yourself.

As you can see, the only cost that e-publishing avoids is printing, which runs from about $1.50 a book on up depending on size of print run (and whether it is off-set or POD),  format & size, page count, color usage, etc.

Because the book business is so hyper-competitive with about a million new books being produced each year, you really can’t cut corners if you want a professional book that will get noticed and garner sales in a range to be profitable. But successful publishing is a business and has costs like running any business.

Like it? Recommend it


What Book Reviewers are Up Against

Here is a peek into the “sorting” room at ForeWord Magazine – one of the premiere reviewers (for the trade) of independently published books. It gives you some idea of the sheer quantity of books out there seeking reviews and why your book has to be of perfect quality to be considered, much less to get a review.

http://www.forewordreviews.com/foreword-insideout/volume-1/

Trade reviews are important to help your book get into book stores and libraries. If you aren’t using trade distribution or worried about libraries as part of your business plan, then you wouldn’t submit your book to an organization like ForeWord.

If your marketing plan is focused entirely on direct contact with your potential customers, then you would want to try to get reviews and articles in newspapers, magazines, websites and blogs that are directed towards your target market.

Regardless of your target publications, you need to remember that the chaos you see in the short video goes on at every publication every day.

What will you do to stand out from the crowd?

Like it? Recommend it


Pricing - Retail and Discount Schedules

You, as the publisher/author, get to set your own retail price. You also should set your own pricing discount schedule for your various types of distribution. The law says that you must offer the same discount to the same "class" of customers. It is a little confusing what this means, but generally the type of customer and the terms under which your book is sold to those customers determines the pricing schedule.

 

Typically they look something like this:
THIS IS AN EXAMPLE ONLY

Retail/end user (for instance on your website) Satisfaction guaranteed (returnable if not satisfied)
1-2 copies - no discount, payment upon purchase
2-10 - 10% - payment upon purchase
10+ 15% - net 30 days

Wholesale -

all quantities - 55% discount, returnable, net 90 days (pretty standard)

Retail book stores -

1-2 copies - 20%, non-returnable paid upon order (called a STOP order)
2 + copies - 40% discount,returnable, net 90

Special sales - maybe gift stores, food stores, pet stores or other genre specific
(these are less standard, but might be something like this)

1-5 copies - 25%, non returnable, paid upon order
6-20 copies - 40%, nonreturnable, net 30 days
20+ (or full case) - 50%, nonreturnable, net 45

Once you determine your discount schedule, the law says you must apply it in an even handed way. If you want to offer a different discount to a particular client, you must establish a new discount schedule with some terms that are different than your existing schedules that justifies the difference in terms. another variable that I didn’t mention above and that can effect your schedules is who pays shipping.

Now, in a very practical way, do I think the full force of the US government is going to descend upon us little publishers? No. But is it good business practice to do this and treat your customer equally? Yes.

Once you publish a book and have it listed in Bowker’s Books in Print with a specific retail price and establish your discount schedules, your work with pricing is done. Anyone who buys a book from you may resell it at any price they choose. You have no control over that - nor should you. You’ve set your terms, gotten paid according to your price schedule and released it to the world.

One word of caution that should be noted is that of credit terms. Once you establish your discount schedule, you also need to consider who you consider to be credit worthy. You do not have to extend credit to anyone, however, you do need to assess each companies credit worthiness. Having a standard credit application and terms under which you extend credit can make the difference between the success and failure of your business. There is no point in "selling" books to a company that does not have the known ability to pay for them. There is nothing wrong with asking for money or a credit card upfront. That one small act will save you a world of heartache with companies and individuals who can’t or won’t pay their bills.

Like it? Recommend it


The Power of Article Banks and Google Alerts

Here is an example of the power of Google Alerts and the power of having articles in article banks.

I wrote this article several years ago and put it on a couple of article banks and on my website and today it pops up on my Google Alerts for the book name because this website picked it up and used it. I was a little upset at first because the requested byline isn’t at the bottom of it – but then I noticed that they put the information in a little different format in the middle of the article – and that was OK with me.


My analytics for my website told me the other day that there are now over 3,000 inbound links to my website – that means that there are 3,000 places on the web that have my website URL listed somewhere on their website where people can just click and instantly be on my website. It could be embedded in a story like this, listed on a resource page, mentioned in a blog post, etc.  Some of those links I cultivated early on in my website’s life trying to get people to link to me, or post and article etc. Now I do nothing because people just find the articles, link from one post to another, etc.  

The moral of the story is to write those articles now, get them onto relevant websites, blogs and article banks; spend some time getting relevant sites to use your material, do an interview with you, post a review (use your sample review), or run a contest with your book as the prize. Some work early on, pays big dividends down the road.

What Not to Do on Your Summer Vacation!
By admin
The website has a television clip of them sharing their experiences, a complete budget worksheet (.xls format) for both long and short trips, information on their award-winning book, "Live Your Road Trip Dream" and much more.
levis ophthalmic collection - http://eduagain.com/learn/un851451383i92/

 

 

Like it? Recommend it


Why isn’t my book selling?

From a client: 

My book is getting great reviews in places like Foreword Magazine, so why isn’t it selling better?

My answer:

There are two kinds of marketing - push and pull. Anything that is primarily for "the trade" (publishing) is "pushing" your message into the channels so that they know about it, can put it in their system if desired, and even stock it in the stores if they feel that there is/will be consumer demand. That includes most reviews, ads in trade publications, shows like BEA, etc. 

The other side of the equation - pull marketing - is marketing to the consumer so that they will "pull" the book through the trade channels. You have to have both types of marketing to the target buyers in order for your book to have robust sales.

The other parts of the puzzle are distribution (which you have), the product itself has to be done well (which you have) and it has to be priced right for the buyer - most people buying books today in your genre aren’t expecting a hard cover book and a higher than $20 price point, so that slows sales.

So you need to get the consumer to know about your book more widely - and that takes continuous exposure for as long as the book is selling.

So the question for you is what are you doing each month on an ongoing basis to create the consumer demand? There are lots of avenues to do that - radio, lifestyle stories in print or online, stories about parts of your book in article banks online, interviews in print, broadcast and online, live appearances and more.

Make yourself a calendar of your activities each month that are media related - make sure your distributor knows about all the media you are doing each month so they can tell the stores. If you have 2-4 things every month that are national or strongly regionally focused, you will see sales increase.

 

Like it? Recommend it


Organizing a Successful Virtual Book Tour

Let’s face it: Unless you are a celebrity, traveling the country and hitting up bookstore after bookstore for signings is probably not going to sell many books. You’ll more than likely spend way more for travel than you’ll make in book sales. Enter the virtual age. From the comfort of your own home or office, you can set up a virtual author book tour and reap real rewards from this effective—and inexpensive!—marketing tool.

So what is a virtual author book tour? Basically it involves visiting—virtually, of course—a group of websites for a period of time. The visits can take several different forms: interviews, guest posts, book reviews, book excerpts, and so on. (You can read more here in an interview I did with Penny Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., and author of Red Hot Internet Publicity.) The sites usually range from blogs, websites, online radio stations, and social networking sites. The purpose is to increase an author’s online exposure, drive additional traffic to his or her website, increase search engine rankings, and hopefully sell more books.

It’s not difficult to set up a virtual tour, but it will take some research, planning, and followup. You can do it yourself–or you can hire a company to do it for you. We’ve been setting up tours for authors for the past year or so, and we’ve learned a lot as far as what is needed to make a book tour successful.

I consider the first two items on the list to be essential; we have found it is much more difficult to set up a successful tour with authors who are not active online and who do not wish to blog regularly. I believe it is far less beneficial to the hosts as well, to host these types of authors, and they are less apt to agree to an appearance. And frankly, I don’t blame them!) 

  • Be an active blogger who not only blogs regularly but who comments on others’ blogs. Make yourself known in the “blogosphere.”
  • Be active in social media sites (we recommend Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter). You don’t necessarily have to have 10,000 Twitter followers, but you should be networking on these sites, providing valuable content where appropriate, and building your following. 
  • Have a capture system on your website (and I’m assuming you have one that highlights your book or that has a page about your book) so you can collect email addresses and build your list. Provide those who sign up with something of value—such as a free report or subscription to your newsletter.
  • Have a call to action on your website instructing visitors to purchase your book, such as “Buy your copy today!”
  • Develop a list of potential hosts based on sites your target market hangs out on. If you’re an active blogger in your genre already, chances are you’ve got a list of sites you check regularly. Find others. Concentrate on those who get a fair amount of traffic.
  • Be familiar with the sites you plan to approach so you can avoid those that would not be appropriate. Send a personal inquiry, letting them know you’ve been following their site and emphasizing why your appearance there would benefit their readers/listeners. Include a link to your website where they can read more details about your book, your author bio, and other pertinent links. Indicate the date ranges of your tour; plan ahead as some sites are booked well in advance. You probably won’t want to book more than one or two appearances per day.
  • Respond immediately to replies, sending a review copy of the book promptly when it is requested. Confirm the details—date, type of appearance, and topic desired.
  • Keep track of where you will be appearing and when. (We use an Excel spreadsheet.) Follow up with your host a couple weeks before your appearance. Make sure they have everything they need from you, including a photo of you and your book as well as your bio.
  • Let everyone know. Once you start getting appearances scheduled for your virtual tour, start letting your friends and fans on Twitter and Facebook know about it. Be sure to include details—including links—on your website, blog, and newsletter.
  • Visit frequently.The day of your appearance, make sure to visit the website or blog regularly, answering questions and responding to comments. If your appearance involves a live podcast, be ready for questions.
  • Follow up with all your hosts afterward and be sure to thank them.

We love virtual author book tours. It’s a great way for authors to increase exposure, gain new fans, and sell more books. Hosts too benefit by gathering additional visitors to their sites. And there is no chance for jetlag!

Guest Post by Sue Collier from her blog at Self Publishing Resources

As a writing coach and publishing consultant, Sue has worked with hundreds of authors, helping them write, edit, and publish hundreds of books. My book The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing is slated for publication by Writer’s Digest in March 2010. I currently own Self-Publishing Resources; we provide book writing, book packaging, and book marketing services for self-publishers and small presses.

 

 

 

 

Like it? Recommend it


Is Distribution for POD an Oxymoron?

Recently a question was posed to me about distribution for POD books. While I believe that is really an oxymoron, it does cause considerable confusion, even among authors that do traditional off-set book printing.  Distribution in the traditional sense, implies book stocking at some level - either at a warehouse or in a retail location. With the advent of print on demand, the idea is to eliminate warehousing and provide just-in-time delivery to the consumer. So how can you have both? Or should you want to? Here is my reader’s question:

In your opinion, if trade distribution doesn’t work well for the POD publisher, what do you think is best to get your books sold and distributed? I’m a little confused by the statement that stores ’seldom stock’ books from LSI. Do they order from them or not?

Here is my answer:

You have to understand the difference between “available nationwide” and “in store stocking”. In a BN (or other large store) there are approximately 80,000 titles at any one time – out of several million books, that isn’t many. And those titles have approximately 6-8 weeks to prove themselves, or they are out of there! 

What LSI gets you (through Ingram) is availability – BN has access to it in their system via the Ingram database as “available” for order if someone comes in and asks for it. If they get enough requests, they may actually put it in the BN system, vs having to look it up on Ingram’s system and their stock.  If BN (for example) decides to “stock it” or “carry it”, the first level of doing that is to have it available in their (BN) warehouse vs through Ingram’s warehouse. If that goes well, they may try store stocking in a few stores where the demand is coming from. If that does well, then they may try it in other similar stores, etc.

 To get regular store stocking, you have to have one of two things. A distributor that has enough confidence in your ability to promote your book regionally or nationwide as apprpriate (and therefore be “worthy” of store stocking) or enough people coming in and asking for it because of publicity that you have done to generate the buzz and demand for your book (see above).

 So when I say “seldom stock” I mean that the only way a POD book will be stocked is via the first method above. To have a trade distributor, you must have stock in the distributor’s warehouse (usually hundreds, if not thousands of books or it isn’t worth the distributor’s time) and that model does not fit a POD model. If you are going to print thousands of books for a distributor to sell, then you must have an off-set run to make it viable financially – and then you have to be confident in YOUR ability to “pull through” the consumers to buy the books, or you will end up with those books back in the distributor’s warehouse and eventually back to you because the didn’t sell through.  Something no one wants to see happen. You have to plot your marketing strategy very carefully to know what will work for your book.

 That is why my first question to a prospective client is always “what are your goals for your book and how will you reach those goals?” A goal of a few hundred books in a local or nationwide market has a much different marketing and distribution plan than a client who wants to sell 50,000 this holiday season. I’ve had both clients this year.

 So to answer your question, it depends upon what your sales goals are for your book and do you have the time, money, know how and other resources to make it happen.

Like it? Recommend it


Posts:
Categories:
Marketing Services (17)
Publishing Advice (36)
"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