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Posts Tagged ‘book sales’

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How are reviews, publicity and cross-promotion different?

Obtaining reviews (or really any type of publicity - newspaper articles, radio interviews, online chats or blog carnivals, etc.) is not the same as cross promotion. They are done for somewhat different reasons. Yes, they both are done to increase sales, but the audience and approach for each are different.

I think cross-promotion also goes beyond listings on other websites (link exchanges) and commenting on each others blogs about your products.

I define cross promotion much more broadly. I’ll take my own book as an example (www.roadtripdream.com). When the book first came out, I tried to come up with a list of COMPLIMENTARY businesses to mine - businesses who did different things than I did, but who might have a common interest with me in "cross promoting" each others businesses. Some of the companies that I came up with included AAA (mentioned often in the book), RVIA (the GoRVing people), MyTripJournal.com, PleasureWay (the maker of the RV we used on our trip), Good Sam Club and a couple of others. Shoot big, right?

These are what I consider to be long term sales. In other words, you can’t just call up one of these companies with an idea and walk away with a sale. RVIA I worked on for three years before we became national spokespeople for them and toured the country on their behalf doing media interviews, talking to people at the national AARP Life@50+ convention and, yes, mentioning and selling our book as our credential of authority.

With PleasureWay and subsequently RoadTrek, I never was able to implement my idea with them - giving talks in their retail dealers locations with the book as a gift for coming to hear the talk about RVing in a PleasureWay. A great way, I thought for them to build a list of potential buyers.But not everything works out along the way.

We traveled for AAA-Oregon for two years doing talks and promoting our book and AAA. For The Good Sam Club, I co-wrote a technology column with Dan Parlow of MyTripJournal for two years. He and I also did cross promotion on both our websites - I was the featured travel story for over a year - and he and I did joint RV shows where we both spoke separately on our areas of expertise and shared a booth - I sold my book and he showed how the MyTripJournal website recorded that trip. My map, his website and my book - great cross promotion. We both sold a lot at those events.

So, you see, cross promotion can go way beyond just simple links - it can lead to all kinds of opportunities if you are just a little creative and very patient. Almost every book has opportunities like these lurking inside the author’s imagination - if only you thought about it in a way that would help both businesses - not just you, but them also. The old WIIFM theory reigns true - What’s In It For ME!

Each of these opportunities eventually led to other interviews, articles, web links, sales to other points of distribution (ie Camping World, Traviler Life, etc.) and all kinds of fun things along the way.

So what businesses are complimentary to your book and how could you pitch a cross promotion with them? I’m sure if you think about it, you can come up with some great ideas.

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How to Write and Publish the Perfect Book

When it comes to publishing, there is a certain recipe for success. And while nothing is guaranteed, there are significant activities which must happen in order for your book to have a chance at success. I often speak of promotion, websites, and gathering a social media footprint. Today we’re taking a look at the equally important back-end issues. Now, I can’t guarantee if you follow this that you’ll come out leading the charge with the most perfect book, but you’ll certainly be close. Writers never intentionally write a bad book, or a book that’s not marketable. We do our best, and we often hope for the best. But in a world full of clutter, you have to do more than that. You have to step out to succeed, and you have to learn the ropes of your market and the publishing industry. Here are 11 points for you to consider:

1) How big is the market for your book? Before you launch headlong into a campaign or even write your book, be sure you know the market for it really well. Often, I find that authors don’t take the time to study their market. This is important because you need to know first and foremost if there is a market for your book. I know this might sound odd, but hear me out. Some years back I worked as a literary agent and was being pitched by this super-talented author. He’d written a book on why good men fall for bad or mean women. He was proud of this book, saying there was no other book like it on the market and further, that he’d written it for men. There are two problems with this:

First, that there is no other book like it on the market. If there isn’t a book like it on the market, there might be a reason why. It’s not that there are no new ideas, but most of the models that work consist of books that fit a certain, existing market. Second problem: a self-help book written for men. No offense guys, but women buy 97% of all self-help out there. If you’re writing a good book with a great topic but for the wrong audience, that’s a problem. Know the market.

Go to bookstores and talk to booksellers, they can be the best source of information for you. Ask them if they have a book on your topic and then have them point you in the direction of where those books are shelved so you can see for yourself what the competitive space looks like. If there isn’t a book on your topic, see if you can find out why. Ask a professional you trust. This could be your bookseller, or it could be a marketing professional. You’ll save yourself thousands of dollars by doing this. Regarding my talented author with a book written for the wrong market, once we repositioned him it was fine. It took little effort but saved him countless hours, dollars, and frustration.

2) What will you call it? When we worked with author Marci Shimoff, she told us that she spent two long weeks agonizing over the title of her book: Happy for No Reason. Marci was featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul, The Secret, and had done extensive speaking events worldwide. Why would she agonize over the title of a book? Because the title (and the cover) are the most important elements of your book. People will judge a book by its cover and title, you can be certain of that. If you’re debating on a title, or even if you’ve settled on one, do not take chances. Find a professional who can give you important feedback. If a title is unappealing, too confusing, or too tied to branding that isn’t clear or benefit-driven, you could lose sales. Remember: the title of your book isn’t for you; it’s for your reader. Make it matter to them.

3) Don’t fall in love with your own ideas. This is a big one. It’s great to love your work; in fact, you should love it. You should be passionate about it. But don’t love it so much that you aren’t open to feedback. Feedback is critical to any successful book launch campaign. Further, if you aren’t open to feedback, you might miss some advice that could save your book and you from spending thousands of dollars pushing something that isn’t quite ready for the mainstream - or worse, a book that’s missed its mark only slightly. Be open to feedback and then seek that feedback from professionals you trust and respect.

4) Do you know how to compete with major publishers? If you’re self-publishing your book, or even trying to find a major NY publisher for your book, why would this matter? Because, as much as some folks like to say that NY publishers are doing it wrong, they are still the driving force behind the industry. Knowing when they typically release a majority of their titles and what their strengths and weaknesses are is important. Why? Because you need to understand what the competitive landscape looks like. It’s important to note, for example, that major publishers don’t generally publish to the niches. Why is that? Because they are focused (and must focus) on bigger areas: celebrity titles, trends, etc. Even the things (like the Snooki book) that might turn our stomachs. In an upcoming piece, I will spend some time discussing how NY Publishers work, as well as how you might compete with some of these giants.

5) What’s the "look" of your work? I’m speaking specifically about branding and book cover design. I would never trust my book cover to anyone less than a professional designer. Why? Because there are certain things you don’t want to leave to chance. This is another reason why you don’t want to get too close to your work. You might love a book cover that’s totally wrong for your book. Now, don’t misunderstand me. You should love your final cover, absolutely. But don’t love something that many professionals advise against. This could mean trouble. Further, you should do your research. Look at other covers; see what appeals to you and what does not. Make sure the cover is simple and powerful in design. If you have a brand aligned with your business, make sure there’s a synergy between them. Also, your cover shouldn’t be too complicated. If you have to explain the cover (or book title) you need to keep searching for a simpler message. Remember: you aren’t going to be able to be everywhere and speak to every consumer interested in your book about what the cover or title means. It should pique their interest without confusing them.

6) What other titles are competing with you? Knowing your competitive space is not only important, it’s mandatory. As I mentioned in #1, you want to identify your market and know that there’s an audience for your book. Once you do, however, you’ll want to get to know that market even better. You should read most (if not all) of the top books in your category (to the degree that time allows, of course). You should know the authors who write them and if possible, network with them via email, their blogs or (if you’re lucky) in person. Why is this crucial? Two reasons: The first is that you want to know what other titles are out there because your book needs to somehow align with the market. Also, what happens if you do research and find that there’s another book exactly like yours? Glad you found out now, aren’t you? Now you can change your book slightly to support a similar, but unique, message. Second, networking with other like-minded authors is always a win-win. It’s great if you can get to know them, share information, helpful tips, maybe even some upcoming networking events. Knowing your "neighbors" in publishing is never a wasted effort.

7) Who is your target audience and how will you reach them? Who are you writing for? Who is your audience? If you aren’t sure, now is the time to find out. Specifically, you want to make sure there’s an audience for your book and you want to know how to reach them. By reaching them I mean selling to them. If you’re unsure, a professional can help you identify this. The reason you want to do this early on is so that if needed, you can incorporate elements into your book that matter to your reader and make it more appealing to your audience. Identifying your target market and how you will access them is important because this could help you align with them before your book comes out. Let’s say that your audience is heavily into associations. This could be a great outlet for you to market to and even, if you’re so inclined, to position yourself as a speaker. If you’ve written fiction, this is important as well. Key associations in your market can be very helpful to your success both through promotion and networking. Authors have a tendency to isolate themselves. Yes, I know this is a stereotypical way of describing an author, but let’s face it, between writing, research, and promotion we’re clocking a lot of computer hours at our desk. It’s important to allocate some time to step out of your comfort zone and get to know the audience you are writing for.

8) How will someone buy your book? You might say: Duh - in bookstores and on Amazon. Well, maybe and maybe not. As I mentioned in #4, bookstore shelf space is often occupied by books published through major houses, therefore getting space on these shelves can be difficult. Your local store or stores may stock you, but that’s never certain until the book comes out. I recommend that you offer your book on your website and if you aren’t interested in shipping and fulfillment then link to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or whatever online e-tailer you feel most comfortable with.

9) What’s the best time to launch? Timing is everything, especially in publishing. Fall is always a big time for book releases. Publishers tend to publish their biggest titles in the Fall, making this sometimes a rough time to launch. Rough, but not impossible. If you’re launching in the Fall you will need to start your efforts early. And speaking of that - when will you start marketing your book? As soon as you have the title and branding complete. Start early, often I recommend six to eight months prior to the book launch.

10) What’s the unique message?How will you differentiate yourself from the competition? Your book is not the field of dreams; readers won’t beat a path to your door just because you wrote it. Remember that you must be different. You must be unique. It’s critical to identify your unique marketing message and, as well, identify your elevator pitch. What’s your elevator pitch? It’s a short, concise message that will help sell your book. It’s short, benefit-driven, intriguing, and all about the reader.

11) It’s not about you. The biggest and most important message in all of this is that despite the hours that you’ve toiled writing your book, at the end of the day it’s not about you. It’s about your reader, and moreover, it’s about what your book can do for the reader. If you keep this in mind as you move through the process of writing and publishing your book, you will have a title that will attract readership and help your writing career gain momentum.

Now that I’ve given you several ways to succeed, how do you align yourself with professionals you trust? First, do your homework. Read their websites, blogs and newsletters if they have one. If they purport to be social media experts, make sure you take a look at their social media footprint. I’ve had companies pitch me who say they are experts at social media yet they have no Facebook Page or Twitter account. That doesn’t seem very "expert" to me. References are always good to have as well. In fact, the more you can ask others who have been successful for the names of people they trust the quicker it will be for you to find people who have a good track record.

If you hire someone, make sure they can work hourly for you. You just want an opinion, perhaps some brainstorming time. You likely don’t need a package, just an hour, maybe two. You don’t need to spend your marketing budget on this process, but whatever you do spend can potentially save you a lot once the book hits the market.

Succeeding isn’t always about getting to the starting line on time. Often, it’s about all the work you do to get to the starting line and then, hopefully, to a successful finish. Our books are often an extension of ourselves, our businesses, and our personalities. But success requires more than just a good book. It requires a lot of sweat equity up front, and while it may seem like a hefty price for a book that hasn’t even launched, I can guarantee you this: The more you do now, the more you’ll save and succeed in the end. Good luck!

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

 

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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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Marketing Gurus and Publicists - Who does what?

In my opinion, there is only one huge  reason to hire a PR firm - who they know. Just sending out an email "blast" - you can do that for yourself.

What a true PR professional (I’m not one!) brings to the table is a virtual "rolodex" of media names in your industry (very important) who will listen when this professional sends a story lead to them. They trust this person and know that if he/she sends the lead - they should consider it. It is the rifle approach vs the shotgun. I don’t think shotguns work very well (<:

A marketing professional (I am one) brings a different set of skills to the table. They look at your project from a holistic view. They consider all parts of the project and how to best market it. They work with such things as:

* Who is the target market? How large is it? How easy is it to reach?

* Is the product produced appropriately for the market? Is the language the right level? Are the graphics appropriate, Is it well-edited?

* What is the competition? How does this book stack up against the competition?

* What is the unique "hook" that this project brings? How does it fit in with the competition?

* Is the book priced correctly for the market? Can it be distributed at that price and make money?

* How should the product be distributed to meet the authors/publishers goals? What has to be done to get it distributed to the correct channels?

* How do each of the appropriate channels fit into the overall sales mix? Does that mix create profits?

* And lastly, how should this product be promoted? What mix of publicity and/or advertising will be needed to meet the sales goals?

* Does the author have the funds to meet those goals? If not, what can be done to modify the sales goals and/or increase exposure within the budget?

* Which methods is the publisher/author willing to employ to sell the book? Live presentations? Internet? Print? Broadcast? Everyone has their own time, financial and personal constraints that expand or limit what they are willing and can do.

You’ve got to hire the right person for the job you want done. Some publicists also do some marketing work as I described, but many do not. I work with (and refer to) a lot of PR professionals - and they often bring me into jobs that aren’t yet ready for publicity to help get them ready. There is nothing more disheartening than to see someone pay for a publicity campaign when the underlying marketing work has not yet been done. A good example is a book that wants nationwide publicity, yet is only available on the author’s website and at a price that doesn’t fit the market they are going after. Sigh…

The other advantage a marketing professional brings to the table is that they can help you develop a marketing and media plan that you can implement yourself. I prepare media kits, media plans with timelines and resources, as well as do marketing and website evaluations, pricing plans, get appropriate distribution for people, and yes, refer to a publicist when the author/publisher has that as part of their overall marketing plan.

Sometimes it is a "tough love" business, but a good marketing professional will always guide your decision making in the right direction. They don’t say things to be mean - they just want you to be successful. But, one of the beauties of being an author and/or a publisher, is that you get the final say on all phases of your project, including your marketing.

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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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Market Your Book on a Budget: A 12-step Check List

Today, join me in welcoming fellow coach, Judy Cullins with a guest post on evaluating your marketing plans Thank you Judy for your work on this.

 

Answer each question with a “yes” or “no” and see how prepared you are for success.


1. You have hired a book coach or Sherpa that is inside books, seminars, and 1 to 1 sessions to make sure each of your chapters will engage their readers to finish and recommend your book.


2. You have created chapter titles that brand you and your business. That’s how the big selling authors of non-fiction do it.


3. You have about $2000-2500 to make sure your book sells–in its writing and its marketing. (low cost coaching is an investment that pays at least 3X your fees).


4. You know the book and business trends and can write your book accordingly.


5. You have a website, blog site or plan on writing sales copy that will sell you and your books.


6. You’ve published articles for ezine directories and blogs, so you have a built in “audience” for your book.


7. You did some market research with a great marketing coach to find out if your book will sell a few, a middle amount or a lot of books.


8. You take all the good teleseminars and group coaching teleseminars to update your skills in writing and marketing.


9. You have a written marketing plan and know how you’re going to promote and sell your book– before you’ve written it.


10. You are part of a writer’s discussion group online, blog regularly and interact in the social media groups such as Linkedin.


11. You invest at least 10 hours a week to promote your book.


12. You carefully brainstormed your best book title for your particular audience to brand yourself.


If you answered "NO" to three or more of these questions, you will want to investigate resources that will make your journey easier and profitable.

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Book coach, Judy Cullins helps you transform your book idea into a helpful, entertaining and engaging book. She also helps you get far more visibility and credibility for your business, mostly through social media. Judy is the author of 13 business books including "How to Write Your eBook or Other Short Book-Fast!," and "LinkedIn Marketing: 8 Best Tactics to Build Book and Business Sales." Find her at www.bookcoaching.com

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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

 

 

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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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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.

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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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"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