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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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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.

 

 

 

 

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Should I buy a media e-mail list?

I think buying email lists are a waste of time for the most part. I use three tactics to contact the media:

1) When each edition was launched I used a publicist who specializes in my genre to do a campaign (cost about $3K) - that really gets the ball rolling. Having the publicist’s name attached to a book creates immediate credibility - they won’t represent a book they think is not salable - their reputation is on the line with their carefully nurtured media contacts. I was able to get 30+ articles, reviews, etc. with this method each time. Each of those stories and reviews created hundreds of sales.

2) I keep the name and email address of every media person I ever talk to on an excel spreadsheet - these are people who I know write about my genre and I use that to send media releases.

3) I develop that list using Google Alerts - I keep alerts for my "book name" (in quotes), my "author name" and several relating to the genre - for me "road trips", "road trip budgets", "RV trips", etc. Then whenever something is written about any of those key words, I get a notice from Google. I follow the link and see what the article, discussion, website, blog is about. I often post a helpful comment with a link to my website (thus creating valuable "back links"), or contact the journalist/blogger/website owner if I can find their email, then add whatever information I can glean to my media list. it is also often another opportunity to get someone to write about you and your book.

The email lists that you buy are not usually very "clean" and they are seldom targeted to your needs, and most importantly, those people don’t have a clue who you are or why they should even open your email or note.

In today’s market it is all about having the right contacts and targeting the right media.

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