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Book Awards Season Complete


I have the privilege of working with many clients during the course of the year, and one of the greatest joys is seeing those clients win book awards. My congratulations to the following marketing clients and their books which have received one or more 2011 awards.

Dreamtime Dream Interpretation - Terri Ulstrup - Finalist - Spirituality - 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.

Minder - Kate Kaynak - Reader’s Choice Awards Top 5 pick for Best YA Series of 2010, Best YA book

Mary’s Son - Darryl Nyznak - three gold Mom’s Choice Award:  Most Inspirational/motivational book in the older juveniles (aged 9-12) and in the Young Adults (aged 13+), and  for Adult Fiction/Literature.  Finalist, Benjamin Franklin award for best fiction cover design.

Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber - Dane Batty - Finalist, True Crime Book of the Year; Finalist Reader Views Book of the Year - Societal Issues; Finalist, Next Generation Indie Book Awards - biography

Conversations with Jerry and Other People I thought were Dead - Irene Kendig - Winner, (Health: Death & Dying), International Book Awards; Finalist,  (Death & Dying), National Indie Excellence Awards

The Medical Bill Survival Guide - Nick Newsad - 2nd Place - Health & How To categories - Reader View Awards 

Congratulations also to the following colleagues on their awards: Kate Bandos, KSB Promotions - Life Buzz award in five categories and Christie Gorsline for her book Empty Nest to Life Vest - Gold Traveler’s Tale Solas Award.



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Is a Subsidy Publisher right for your project?

This is a guest post from fellow consultant Shel Horowitz. He originally did this as a post on LinkedIn and I liked it so much, I asked him if I could post it here. Thanks, Shel.

 

It doesn’t sound like it would be a big deal, but the organization that assigns the ISBN to the book is the publisher. When your publisher is a subsidy house (such as Trafford, AuthorHouse, XLibris, iUniverse—all owned by the same company, incidentally—or Outskirts, Infinity and their hundreds of competitors), anyone in the industry can tell by the ISBN that you went with a publisher that does no vetting, that will take anyone who can pay the fee (other than hate speech or smut), that doesn’t give a flying f about whether the book has been proofread, let alone edited—and that in most cases will have a very generic cover and interior design. The industry, having seen vast quantities of junk coming out of these presses, assumes that anything with one of those labels is junk.

And the unfortunate reality is that 90 percent of the books coming out of these presses should never have been published. There’s certainly a lot of junk coming out of true self-publishing, too—but the percentage of good stuff is much, much higher.

Now there are a few reasons why in some cases it makes sense to go this route, as long as you know what you’re getting into and have good reasons. For example:

  • A client of mine whose book was good enough to publish traditionally told me he was in his late 80s and didn’t want to wait two years to find a publisher and have the book come out, and likewise he didn’t want the hassle of being his own publisher. He went with iUniverse, and probably sold a lot fewer books, but got it done very quickly at relatively low expense.
  • Infinity (my favorite of this ilk) got wind of my Grassroots Marketing for Authors and Publishers and begged me to let them publish it. I let them do their own edition for the book trade. If a bookstore wants to order, I let them order Infinity’s edition. If an individual orders, I fill the order from the books I printed under my own ISBN (which cost me half as much per copy as Infinity’s). What I got out of it was outsourcing all the hassles of dealing with bookstores, as well as “street cred” with subsidy-published authors who might hire me for book consulting or marketing consulting/copywriting.
  • Professional speakers often use these companies because they don’t want the hassles, and because they have a built-in market that doesn’t care that their books are ugly and overpriced. In that market, they can pay the $9 per book to get them printed, because they sell them direct for maybe $25. In a bookstore, where comparable books might be $18 and the bookstore takes 40 percent, the numbers don’t work.
  • Finally, when I get a client with a crappy book that has a sharply limited life expectancy, I recommend these companies. If you’re going to sell 100 or fewer books during the life of a title, there’s no point setting up a publishing company, choosing printing and design vendors, etc., or paying someone to do it for you.

In true self-publishing, you buy your ISBN block and you choose your vendors for all the services you need (such as editing, design, indexing). And you set the price of the book. Some subsidy houses will allow you to supply your own cover and interior. Some will even let you set your own price. And some subsidy houses also offer on-demand printing services where they don’t assign an ISBN; in this case, you are buying short-run printing from a company that happens to also offer subsidy publishing services, but you are not subsidy publishing. Many people use companies like Lulu and the printing arm associated with Infinity to do Advance Reader Copies (ARCs). I used Lulu to do a relative’s vanity project in  run of 6 copies. I didn’t ask for ISBN and I didn’t use one of mine. I was simply using them as a printer.

But ultimately, there’s only one test that makes the determination whether a book is self- or subsidy published: who obtained the ISBN from the official ISBN agency (Bowker, in the US).

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Book shepherd and publishing/book marketing consultant Shel Horowitz’s two most recent books are Grassroots Marketing for Authors and Publishers (self-published) and Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green (Wiley), both of which have won multiple awards. Visit him at www.FrugalMarketing.com

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What is the difference between marketing and promotion??

My degree is in Marketing, so I’ll give you the classical definitions, which I still use today when approaching a client’s project.


Marketing involves the "4 P’s" - Product, Price, Place and Promotion. A marketing plan looks at everything from the appropriateness of the Product for its market (target markets, competition, quality of the product, production values, etc.), how it is Priced in the market (low cost leader, price leader, value play, etc.), where it will be sold (Place) which for books is mostly about what types of distribution and outlets will be used, and finally Promotion - which people usually think of as "marketing" but you can now see, it is only one piece of marketing.


In big companies the marketing department sets the strategies and direction for the product or product line, then other parts of the company implement those strategies - sales, PR, communications, etc. As small presses, we do it all, but that doesn’t make it any less important to think about how all of these pieces function together.


There is nothing more disappointing to get a client who says "I’ve done all this ‘marketing’ for my book and spent all this money on advertising (part of promotion) and my book isn’t selling - what’s wrong?" Then I find out that the only place it can be purchased is on iUniverse’s (or some other POD publisher) website or just as bad, their just launched website. They have totally gotten the cart before the horse. You must have distribution before spending money or time on promotion. I’ve had similar horror stories with pricing problems and product problems. It ALL has to work together - product, price, place and promotion.


Back to promotion for a moment - promotion is made up of two major components in the book industry (well, any industry actually) - push and pull marketing - and again, you need to do both. Push marketing is "trade" marketing - getting your potential distribution partners interested in carrying your book - this can be trade reviews, ads in PW, attending BEA, etc. - these are book trade outlets. Pull marketing is what you do once you have your distribution set up - this is internet, broadcast, print and live presentations - things that are targeted towards your potential audience - getting them to go purchase your book. Remember - 7 impressions to make a sale - this is where pull marketing comes in (you pull the sales through the channels). In my opinion, you shouldn’t just focus on internet marketing - it is necessary to be wherever your potential readers are - and getting the word out via print media (newspapers and magazines), broadcast media (TV and radio) and doing live appearances are all valuable pieces of your plan and need to all be pulled into a coordinated effort.


A third type of marketing is what Seth Godin calls building your tribe - this is really the old institutional or branding marketing - building a name for yourself and your products. That should start well before the book is out - even up to a year isn’t too soon.


To drill down a little further on promotions, you have paid promotion which is called advertising - you get to tell your story however you want - you paid for it. The other type of promotion is publicity (whether via print, broadcast, or internet) and this is what most of us focus on (most small publishers can’t really afford much advertising). With publicity, you don’t get to advertise your product - the publicity outlet is telling a story of some type (news or entertainment) and you hope to be a part of it - these stories are much more powerful than advertising when you get featured as an expert or as an example in the story.

Hopefully that explains the difference between marketing and promotion.

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How Can You Make Your Book Successful?

Doing a commercially viable book involves many facets - all of which have to present and firing on all cylinders to create a successful project.

* Product - your book has to be well designed and produced and have a definable target audience of sufficient size to sell a "reasonable" number of books. One way to determine this is to go to Amazon and put in the key words for your book. See how many other books there are in your genre, what are their sales ranks? how long are they? how long have they been out? who published them? — all kinds of excellent competitive information available to help you.

* Pricing - Once you know that you have a well-produced book with a reasonably sized market that you can reach, then you have to make sure it is priced right for the market. You can’t base your retail price on anything except the price the market expects for your type of book. You can get a lot of this information from the research I suggest above.

* Place - Once you have your product and pricing right, then you have to understand the places where you will sell it. This includes everything from your trunk, to book stores, to non-traditional locations (gift shops, boat stores, RV stores - whatever suits your genre), to the internet, and more. You have to consider ALL the possible places that a potential buyer will look for your book and try to be there. Every distribution channel has a different cost and it is the combination of all your channel choices together that will make up your profitability picture. You can’t look at any one of them in isolation.

* Promotion - Most people think this is the only part of marketing that is important, but as you can see it is the very last piece of the puzzle to consider. Once you have everything else in place, THEN and only then, can you think about promoting your book. The saddest thing I see is people who spend time and money on promotion when they haven’t adequately addressed all the other pieces of the puzzle. Promotion comes in many flavors and some are costly, but many are not. I am not a big fan of paid advertising for independent publishers as it is just too costly to make a pay off. The four areas to consider are internet, broadcast, print and live presentations. A combination of those well executed, will provide success.

There is no quick fix or magic bullet - it is many things done consistently and well, over time.

I have been in the marketplace with my book since 2004. My strategy has shifted over that time as success has come, as the industry has changed, and as the books sales have changed. I’ve done two editions over many printings; have used wholesalers, a national distributor (Midpoint) and now use LSI. I’ve had sales into every part of the travel business and have had publicity in everything from the AP (3 times) to Money Magazine, to AAA to AARP and hundreds more - all from my own efforts with a small infusion of a publicist’s help early on. You can see some of it here: http://www.roadtripdream.com/media2.html

There is nothing special about what I did - I had never written professionally, knew nothing about the publishing business, and had no special help that isn’t available to each of you. It is about having a little money to invest in your own success, persistence and dedication to being successful, getting involved in (and understanding) the publishing business, understanding your own genre, and never giving up.

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Twenty-First Century Media Kits

Publicist Paul Krupin provided me his insight to current questions about Media Kits. The following is our interview. 

Q. Is there a place for a full-blown, old fashioned media kit any more, if so, when? 

I don’t believe there is a place for a standard one size fit all media kit at all. Each and every media one deals with, from the smallest blog online, newsletter to the largest magazine, newspaper or TV show is best viewed as a publisher who makes their income by publishing or producing content that people are willing to pay for. The media kit is one of the key methods for delivering the content that is needed to help that media do their job.

It should be a simple package with the minimum information needed to give the media what they need to do the job you want done.  So tailor what you give them to achieve your goals and address their specific stated or published needs and style.

 * handwritten short note

 * copy of the news release they received printed in laser color

 * book, product review, and/or promotion copies

 * cd/dvd with product photos, people photos & ms word files of text materials

 * pictures (4 by 6 size) of product and people photos for features

 * q & a’s - audience focused educational and entertaining information that allow shows to be created or feature story articles to be written

 * testimonials and reviewer comments that offer insights, but watch out that you only include comments from people but not media that compete with the one you are send to.

 You give the media what they need to do their job so that you get the best possible feature story coverage you can get. 

Q. Have online media rooms totally taken over the need for media “kits”? 

Not really, but it does make it easier and faster to make the content and information available to the media who are technologically savvy enough to utilize the materials you make available. Some media will happily go to an online media center. Some won’t. You need to determine the preferences of the particular media person you are working with and what they want or need to do their job.   

The robust online media center will get utilized. An effective online media kit can be one of the most valuable media and marketing tools you can create on your web site. It will help persuade even the most doubtful media that you are newsworthy and have what it takes to make their day.  When you send out a news release to your media, many of them will click on your link and come to your site. They are on a mission. They are searching for the information they need to write a feature story of some sort or an interview. You job is to make their visit fruitful and productive.  You must not only validate any claims you’ve made regarding your book, services or products, but you must also make it easy for the media editor or producer to find facts sufficient for them to quickly satisfy their needs.

When it comes to the Internet, the operative word to key in on is this one: “quick”. You must make it quick as a click to get what the editor needs. This may be facts, bio, pictures or interview questions. It can also be 200, 400, 600, 800, 1,000, 2,000 or 5,000 word articles.  Everything must be ready to go. Click it: they get it.

The goal is to make it attractive, easy to use, and ready to go for immediate media utilization. You create what you need to make the experience successful and enjoyable.

Q. What are the latest trends you are seeing? 

  1. Length does not matter. Content matters. With emailed news releases you can pitch the proposal for media, and then provide the media the camera ready problem solving tips articles, feature stories, and interview questions and answers with photos or video or audio very quickly and effectively.  Many media will know the quality as soon as they see it and use it right away. We see 1,000 to 3,000 to 6,000 word articles used this way. The days of the short one page faxed news release are gone.  You get to put your best foot forward.  
  2. Micro marketing communications tactics are important and need to be carefully developed and applied to headline, email subject lines, and to the leads of news releases. These are the door openers to getting media interested you your proposal for media coverage. Some news releases are received on cell phones (e.g., iPhones and Blackberries), portable notebooks, and laptops. The media will only see the subject line and maybe a snippet. Extra special care must be taken to make the headline identifies who will be interested and what the value is to the audience.  This is a quest for galvanizing nuggets of crystalline clarity that convey value and importance so well that the media responds with a “yes, send me more” and the door opens for a follow up that closes the deal.  
  3. The media is getting numb and there is a lot of mediocrity being produced.  Quality, credibility and persuasion are more important than ever.  To be successful you must learn how to turn people on and be effective with your communications.  This is the key question.  What can you say in three to five minutes that will absolutely convince half the people in front of you to hand you money for whatever it is you have to offer.  That’s what you need to figure out.  Once you create and prove this little script and once you really get it down and prove to yourself that it’s repeatable. That’s the miracle of the microcosm in America.  We’ve got a country of 330 million media indoctrinated people, and once you learn how to galvanize them even in your back yard, you can use technology to repeat the message and reproduce the response again and again. You must simply decide to be the very best you can be and give enthusiastically from the heart. Be sincere, be authentic, and go ahead and help the people you can help the most.  Do that and you will shine.

 

Thanks Paul for your insightful answers.

 

Paul J. Krupin, Direct Contact PR

Reach the Right Media in the Right Market with the Right Message

http://www.DirectContactPR.com  Paul@DirectContactPR.com  Blog.DirectContactPR.com

800-457-8746 (Toll Free US); 509-531-8390  (Cell);  509-582-5174 (Direct)

Free eBook download http://www.directcontactpr.com/files/files/TrashProof2010.pdf

 

 

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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.

 

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

 

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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