Bookstores Are the Worst Places to Sell Your Books

Article reprinted with permission from Dog Ear Publishing.

How many times when you dreamed of readers finding your book did your dreams center around them finding it in a “brick-and-mortar” bookstore? Chances are, most of the time . . . This is the fantasy the leads too many authors to the endless pain of the author-agent-publisher rejection cycle. And, it rarely sells any significant amount of books.

The realities of bookstore sales are frightening – far more books fail courtesy of bookstores than succeed. Consider these facts:

Returns rates exceed 70% in many categories — that means bookstores send back 7 out of every 10 books they buy. YOU the author bear the biggest brunt of the pain of returns. The publisher has other books they can rely on – you, however, have seen your dream destroyed.

Bookstores buy very few copies on a story-by-store basis, and they typically only merchandise the books that have big marketing dollars behind them. Unless you can afford a multimillion-dollar marketing campaign, it is highly unlikely that your book will be stacked anywhere a potential buyer can find it (let alone in the front of the store.)

Author signing events typically sell only about 7 books — all your scheduling, time, calling stores to set up events — results in selling 7 books…

Bookstores take up to 90 days to pay for your books — and to mitigate what they owe you they will quite often return your remaining stock WITHIN the 90 days.
Retail outlets typically command very large discounts (but then so do online retailers in many cases…)

The typical retail buyer is not a destination purchaser, but a browser (most readers who know what they want go to the online retail sites). A reader in search of a book can be a GREAT customer. But when you are shelved next to all the other books in your particular category, your competition stands as good a chance at getting bought as you do… and if you are stocked near a well-known author, most buyers will bypass your book to pick up the well-known name.

Now that you’ve had all the “good” news — here is an interesting fact:

Over half the books sold in the publishing industry are sold through NON-bookstore vehicles.

That means that more books are sold in other places than bookstores- and your book is likely to be most successful through these outlets. And online sales — driven by a targeted, effective, and comprehensive marketing plan – will be the cornerstone of your book’s success.

Authors spend a lot of time and money chasing the improbable, when the “golden egg” of self-promotion is right in front of them. In my opinion, I’d sell my books everywhere except the brick and mortar bookstore!

Utilizing the tools that make the internet the powerhouse it is today will build sales that you never dreamed were possible. Search Marketing, blogs, newsletters, email campaigns, web sites, and your personal appearances (yes, the human touch still has meaning in book sales) are the new tools for building great book sales.

Thanks for reading. As always — if you like this information (and found it helpful) please feel free to post it on your site, put it in a blog, toss it in your newsletter, or in general spread it around. Please just give us credit here at www.dogearpublishing.net

May you have success in your creative efforts!

 Ray

Book Publicity for Authors – Getting the most from your publicity campaign

The following article is reprinted with permission from Dog Ear Publishing Company.

Publicity is that elusive thing that can make or break your book – in all sorts of ways! Learning to promote you and your book is something that can take a bit of “re-training” for most new authors (and many old-timers too). Publicity is really all about selling your idea (and you), but all too often the word “selling” brings up images of polyester clad used-car salesmen, telemarketers, and strong-arm sales strategies that do nothing but alienate your intended customer.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

True “salesmanship” is all about creating a deep connection with your intended reader or reviewer by providing unique, useful and rewarding information about your book. It’s all about creating a relationship that you will both benefit from and to which you can return time and again. It’s about creating the awareness that you are an EXPERT about the topic of your book.

Good publicity is also regular and consistent publicity – there really is no such thing as an overnight success. Remember that you never know who is reading or listening — it just might have been someone who could lead you to bigger and better things.

Here’s some ways to create a great relationship with the editors and reporters that can provide your book the long term exposure it needs to succeed:

1) It’s ALL about your intended audience – and very little about you. You might be brilliant, but the editor only cares about their audience. As a matter of fact, more often than not if you come across as thinking you are too wonderful, you’ll most likely turn out to be a turn off to the editor or reporter. This is where “blanket” press releases that go to thousands of outlets fail – they typically focus on you the author, and unless you are already a household name, guess what? No one cares. You MUST tailor your release to the intended audience – and it must be unique. Focus on the benefits you will provide their audience. Think about the publication or program you are trying to approach – what do they provide to their audience and does your book contribute to their goals? Don’t under any circumstances make your pitch sound like an ad for your book – if you have a good fit, and have good information inside your book, then it will generate interest in the book. The goal here is to make the editors, reporters, and audience understand that you are an expert on your topic, and that your book contains lots of good information – by PRESENTING some of the information… not by TELLING them you are an expert.

2) Target your pitch. Be confident knowing that reporters and editors have lots of need for information. But also understand the one of the quickest ways to get rejected is to pitch the wrong person – you’ll waste both of your time (and probably annoy the editor or reporter) – do you homework and find out who is the correct contact for your book. Once you’ve found the right person – ask them what they want. Only pitch your idea if it’s a fit. Be sure to respect his or her time – everyone in the media industry works on unbelievably tight deadlines. Ask if they are under a deadline and if so, could you call back at a better time. Be short, sweet, and to the point – which means get to the point quickly. The audience will eventually want more detail than the reporter or editor – but for your reviewer, be able to sum up your book in 30 seconds or less. “Talk less, listen more” – let the editor or reporter drive the conversation after you have them interested. They will have specific needs and questions – so stop talking and answer them explicitly.

3) Approach ALL types and sizes of publications and media. Don’t be afraid to contact the “big guys” and don’t neglect the smaller ones. Any one in the media has to aggressively pursue getting new and fresh content for their shows, magazines, and newspapers. This is especially true of anyone who needs to fill space on a daily basis. They are almost always on the search for people who can present information on exciting and interesting topics and trends. The biggest outlets are always on the search for an unknown that they can highlight. The smaller journals and outlets often have a very focused and influential audience – and you never know who might be reading them or listening to their show . The smaller publications can also be “gateways” into the larger ones . Almost every single size of publication has value in your publicity campaign. Your chances of getting into smaller publications is probably higher than the larger ones, so set your time and effort accordingly.

4) Treat your contacts with unfailing respect and politeness. Yes, you are very busy – you might even be far busier than the publicist or producer that you are trying to approach. But you need them to help you out – and being constantly aware that they are very busy themselves will keep you focused on getting your materials to them in a timely manner. Never ever be late in submitting materials for a review or interview.

5) Understand that publicity isn’t a “one shot success” effort. It is all about sustained and consistent awareness of your product. Marketing research indicates that a consumer will need to see your name about 7 times before they will remember it. Try to keep your interviews and reviews spaced out a little bit – frequency and consistency are critical. Don’t ever let up on your publicity campaigns – even the most successful product lines in the world (think Nike and McDonalds) continue to consistently spend millions on awareness campaigns for their products. Very rarely is anyone an “overnight success” – even the best-selling authors spent years building their reputations.

Follow these 5 steps while conducting your publicity campaigns, and your level of success will be far greater than those who have either ignored or never learned these basic steps.

If you like this information (and found it helpful) please feel free to post it on your site, put it in a blog, toss it in your newsletter, or in general spread it around. Please just give us credit here at www.dogearpublishing.net

May you have success in your creative efforts!

Ray

How I Did My Booksigning

Christine Husom, author of Murder in Winnebago County published by Second Wind Publishing, agreed to share her book-signing experience. I’m sure you’ll find it as fascinating as I do.

To my fellow writers:

I had a book launching/signing last night at the local library, hosted by the Friends of the Library. The head librarian had asked me a while ago if I would be interested — of course I would!

To prepare for the event, I ordered 100 postcards with the book cover on the front and book info, publishing info and event details on the back. I sent out a number of the cards and also put stacks of them at the library, 2 local bookstores and at our family’s downtown business. I also had posters made and hung them in a number of stores and the library. I also put a press release in the paper (free advertising!)

The turn-out for the signing was overwhelming — I thought there were between 75 and 80 people, but 3 people today told me it was closer to 100. They had 60 some chairs set up and there were a lot of people standing and some were out in the hallway — they couldn’t get in because the back was too crowded. I was surprised by the number of people I didn’t know who were there and also some people I know only casually. I guess there are a lot of people who like book signings (and/or mystery novels). I thanked them all for coming — my family, old friends, new friends and future friends.

I wasn’t sure how to conduct the signing, exactly, so I told the group we could do whatever they wanted. I told them I was at a Tami Hoag signing and she read a passage from her book, then did signings. I don’t recall her answering questions, but it is possible she did. John Sanford spoke for a while about his life and interests, then took questions for a fairly long time before the signings.

No one suggested how to proceed so I asked them if they wanted to know why I wrote the book and how I got published, etc and they did. Then I took questions. They asked things such as do I write on a laptop or with a pen and paper, do I wake up in the middle of the night and jot things down, how did I choose the title, how long did it take to write, when will my next book be out, what is the next book about, etc. Then someone asked me to read a passage. I felt a bit tongue-tied and said “Feminine” instead of “Fenneman” (my character’s name) a couple of times. But I laughed and said, “See I didn’t think I would be able to read.”

My husband said he was proud of me — he said I was poised and genuine. I was grateful I had a podium to lean into. I donated a book to the library and they gave me a nice thank you card and flowers. They served cookies and fruit and juice. Not everyone bought a book, others bought two — one for a gift. There were some couples who bought one between them, others I think will borrow the copy from the library. But I did sell about 60 and gave another 6 to some family members and the library.

There were people who wanted their picture taken with me — that was different and very cool!!!

All in all, it was a great event. I am getting books into the local bookstores and also am selling some at our store. I sold four there today — three people had heard about the signing but couldn’t make it. I am planning to go to “Once Upon a Crime” bookstore in Minneapolis and see if they might host a signing. That’s where I saw Hoag and Sanford.

I felt a little dumb signing the books — I have an illegible signature, but my daughter said I should use that instead of trying to write my name so people could read it. One person told me, “no wonder you have to type” when she read my writing — touché.

I encourage all of you to have a signing. It seems to generate excitement and interest. I was told the attendees were very engaged in what I had to say and liked being part of the fun. Sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone. I was not quite as nervous as I would have imagined. I was with a group of people who wanted to be there, for whatever reason, and I was glad and grateful they were there!

All the best,

Chris

The End of the Book Business As We Know It?

The New York Magazine published an article that began: the book business as we know it will not be living happily ever after. With sales stagnating, CEO heads rolling, big-name authors playing musical chairs, and Amazon looming as the new boogeyman, publishing might have to look for its future outside the corporate world. It is a very long article, but well worth reading if you are interested in the book business. What might be bad for big publishing might be good for independent publishers. Click here to read the article.

Claire Collins, author of Images of Betrayal and Fate & Destiny, both published by newcomer Second Wind Publishing, has this to say about the article (Collins’ remarks are in bold, excerpts from the magazine are in Italics):

Great article. Very long but good. The main points I got from it are as follows: 

A new imprint mentioned on the first page says they will “Have fewer authors and sell more books.” They will be publishing 2 books a month, with 25 authors signed up. And one of the “authors” is 50 Cent? and the other is a cookbook? This is what they think people want to read? 50 Cent is already out of date and do people really care what a dirty rapper has to say? The people who do care . . . can’t read. And isn’t the market already totally full of cookbooks? Any time I want a recipe, I look online. I don’t see this as being the future of book publishing.

The article says :

The astonishing success of Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain led to a bidding war for his second book, which Grove/Atlantic editor Morgan Entrekin lost with great regret to Ann Godoff at Random House’s eponymous imprint (known as Little Random). Lucky him. The price tag, more than $8 million, might well have sunk Grove, one of the few biggish independent houses left, because Frazier’s follow-up, Thirteen Moons, sold less than 500,000 copies, according to BookScan. Ann Godoff was fired not long after the deal was made. “It is possible they broke Little Random’s neck,” says one agent. “Frazier’s wife will not have the luxury to buy another racehorse.”

This is why the rest of us get rejected.

He wrote ONE book that sold . . . ONE.

And the second one was a flop

All of these publishers are thinking they’re getting the next Harry Potter series and it’s not up to them. It’s up to the buyers and the public. When they get an author who does well once, they jump all over them thinking the author can do it every time. The expectations keep rising beyond what can be achieved.

The article says:

Why weren’t publishers elated? What’s wrong with a company that returns only 10 percent of the books it buys and might eventually eliminate the cost of print production? Well, it doesn’t help that Amazon, which has been on an intense buying spree (print-on-demanders BookSurge; book networking site Shelfari), lists publishers as its competitors in SEC filings. Editors and retailers alike fear that it’s bent on building a vertical publishing business-from acquisition to your doorstep-with not a single middleman in sight. No HarperCollins, no Borders, no printing press. Amazon has begun to do end runs around bookstores with small presses. Two new bios from Lyons Press, about Michelle Obama and Cindy McCain, are going straight-to-Kindle long before publication.

This means the big corporate publishers won’t survive because their overhead is too high, and it’s too high because they pay their lead staff outrageous sums just like they pay in some of their advances. You can’t survive like that. The small publishers, POD, and self-publishing will thrive. From the printer to the buyers doorstep. That’s exactly what we are doing now. Now it would really help if the cost of printing could come down.

In regards to the Kindle:

But Amazon may be offering a sweet deal now in order to undercut publishers later. If their low, low prices succeed in making e-books the dominant medium, they can pay publishers whatever they want. “The concern is they want to corner the market,” explains one books executive, and then force publishers to accept a genuine 50 percent discount. “If they took over as little as 10 to 20 percent of the market,” says an agent, “publishers simply would not be able to exist.”

 Of course they are. Amazon wants a $400 Kindle in every hand, and that price will lower over time. They want to be to the book world what Ipod is to the music world. 

What does the article say about the future of publishing?

Miller has worked out separate contracts, co-op and all, with booksellers and authors-capping advances at $100,000 and reducing returns. Their list now includes not just 50 Cent but Michael Eisner, his former boss at Hyperion; John Lithgow (a memoir); and Isabella Rossellini adapting her short-film series on bug sex. All these authors will contribute to their own pre-publication marketing.

Miller doesn’t wait for agent submissions, instead accosting writers at conferences, telling them how much more a writer can make under 50-50 profit sharing. He’s even throwing in something literary, 22 previously unpublished stories by Mark Twain, who, Miller points out, ran a profit-sharing publisher that made a killing on Ulysses S. Grant’s memoirs. “If he were alive, this is exactly the deal he’d want,” Miller says brightly.

Profit sharing may very well be an option for Second Wind Publishing once it gets past the start up phase. When it gets rolling, our future can be wide open since we aren’t funding the fat wallets of stockholders and CEO’s. Just the publisher, at least for now.

Other industry folk, while supportive, note that precious few writers-except those with trust funds-would forgo advances, and that it generally works best for those who have a pre-existing fan base that will gobble up their books. As for Miller’s other key ingredients, profit-sharing is not a new concept, and online marketing is catching on everywhere.

Yet again, this is what those of us who are published by small presses do. This is the whole key that the industry doesn’t understand, and this is why they are going to fail. Writers WILL forgo advances except for when they know that the publisher paid the last author that million dollar advance. Then, they ALL want that. But if we look at how many people not only forgo advances but PAY to have their books published, then it refutes the claims of the “industry folk”. They are completely out of touch with the public. Who decided that we care what 50 Cent thinks or that we need another cookbook? The same people who think writers won’t produce good books without six figure advances.

One indie publisher has been pitching an imprint around town that would go beyond what Miller’s doing-expanding into print-on-demand, online subscriptions, maybe even a “salon” for loyal readers. He envisions a transitional period of print-on-demand, then an era in which most books will be produced electronically for next to nothing, while high-priced, creatively designed hardcovers become “the limited-edition vinyl of the future.” “I think they know it’s right,” the publisher says of the executives he’s wooing, “but they don’t want to disrupt the internal equilibrium. I’m like the guy all the girls want to be friends with but won’t hop into bed with.”

Of course the big publishers don’t want to hear what this guy is saying. They’re all on the verge of not existing and they know it’s true.

But going back in time isn’t an option. A hundred Bennett Cerfs wouldn’t save the current publishing model-not without a hundred Bob Millers puzzling out the way forward, unhampered by fear or complacency. The kind of targeted, curated lists editors would love to publish will work even better in an electronic, niche-driven world, if only the innovators can get them there. Those owners who are genuinely interested in the industry’s long-term survival would do well to hire scrappy entrepreneurs at every level, people who think like underdogs.

This is us again. We’re the underdogs. We don’t have the product placement advertising and we can’t pay to have our books dropped by the front door of Borders.

And think about how hard we are all working at writing and getting our books out there. The authors who are getting the huge advances and selling books no matter what they do aren’t working at it as hard anymore. Because people will buy their books just because of whose name is on it. But readers will only get burned so often before they do stop buying them.

Creating a Book Marketing Plan

This article was reprinted with permission from Dog Ear Publishing.

You all know a book won’t sell itself? Right? Surprisingly, many authors DON’T understand this fact until too late — and they are disappointed with their sales performance. Every book needs some sort of marketing plan — something that sets your expectations and creates achievable goals that you can attack in an orderly fashion.

But – how do you create a marketing plan for your book? There is a ton of great freeware, even more that you can spend lots of money on, that all help you create a marketing plan for selling your book. But – before you go to the exciting effort of spending time and money on downloading software, open up your trusty word processor and follow me…

Chapter One – Who will buy your book?

The secret to sales success is to target your marketing as directly as possible to your potential reader – and have it be someone who is reachable.

“Everyone will want to read my book!” Sorry, but that doesn’t work. Even the absolute best selling books – that sell 2 or 3 million copies in a year – only penetrate to about 3% of the reading population. Sales success for your book will be driven by defining a very clear picture of who is interested in your book.

They must be identifiable: Make a list! Which groups would be interested in your book? Why? Who is next? Why should the need or want your book? (remember this – someone is more likely to buy something they NEED before something they WANT.)

Now – narrow it down even more. Find a unique angle about your book – and don’t try and be everything to everyone, because you can’t – insteand target 100% of a specific part!

Chapter Two – What is your definition of success for your book? What is your GOAL?

Some authors write for themselves and their families only — they don’t dream of their books as bestsellers in the marketplace. Some authors write for a very specific personal need to tell their story. Some have unique insight into very specific topics. Many have dreams of seeing their book in the front of Borders or Barnes & Noble. Each author is different, but you MUST decide what your real definition of success happens to be. We don’t want to pursue a goal that may not be what you actually feel is important.

Chapter Three – Objectives, Plans and Actions

Everything needs to start with a GOAL – and that is what you outlined in Chapter Two. Everything you do for your book should be in support of this goal.

Objectives- these are the steps you take to achieve your GOAL – for example, if you goal is to sell 5,000 books, then you need to identify some OBJECTIVES as the “steps” to achieving your goal. Just like your GOAL – make sure your Objectives are reasonable, and something that you can achieve. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to confuse WANTING to do something or achieve a goal with be ABLE to achieve a goal – make sure you possess the necessary skills to do the things on your list. Perhaps my OBJECTIVES list would look like this:

1. Set up personal events to promote my book – book signings, seminars, radio interviews, etc.
2. Secure reviews from print resources.
3. Identify online resources for promotion of my book
4. Identify non-retail opportunities for book sales.
5. Create outbound awareness campaign of me the author as an expert in my field

Plans – your PLANS outline the needed steps to get your OBJECTIVES moving, and they begin to create “to do lists” and measurable actions. For example, one of my Objectives is to set up personal events to promote my book. So, my plan section might look like this:

Objective: Personal Appearances:

Plans:
i. Set up one book signing per week at local outlets
ii. Set up two seminars on book marketing in 1Q 2006
iii. Conduct one radio interview per month in 2006

Actions- these are the details of each PLAN- and, as the saying goes, “the devil is in the details…”. This is where most marketing plans fail – you must have a coherent and workable set of “actions” to achieve each plan, that then leads to each objective – and, eventually, achieves your ultimate goal. If you can’t produce a reasonable set of “actions” for achieving each plan, then scrap the plan and start over. Here is my “Action” list for the Objective / Plans above:

Objective: Personal Appearances:

Plan: Set up one book signing per week at local bookstores

ACTIONS:

  • Call B&N at Keystone- get Events Coord, name – make appt to visit and present book signing idea. BRING BOOK!! Mary knows Mgr – get intro?
  • Borders Mgr – drop off book – and mention reading / seminar on mktg –
  • Contact library for presentations on self-pub. Monthly event?

As you can see, it really is all about breaking your marketing efforts down in to small enough pieces to be A) understandable, B) achievable and C) measurable.

Marketing & publicity is a long-term, consistent and concerted effort – it never ever happens overnight, even though it may seem to for some people.

Chapter Four – Create a reasonable timeline and budget

All of us have finite amounts of time, energy, and money. Marketing can eat up all three very quickly, leaving you alone, exhausted, and broke. The game is to pace yourself and resources so that you can keep the effort moving along. This is where your planning in Chapter Three works it magic – without looking at the “big picture,” most of us would never know how much of our precious resources should be devoted to each aspect of the game. Organization and prioritizing are the most important part of the process – and you may find yourself returning to “Chapter Three” and rewriting sections of your plan.

Here are some monetary expenses you may expect to incur in your marketing plan:

1. Sample Books – do you plan on sending them out or dropping them off?
2. Marketing materials – posters, flyers, postcards, etc.
3. Press release writing and distribution
4. Advertising – sponsored search, links, banners, print
5. Web site design and shopping cart creation
6. Direct mail opportunities

A quick note on samples – I don’t believe in sending out books blindly – it’s too expensive and not effective. If a potential resource is interested in your book, they’ll ask for it (as long as you’ve written a good press release…)

Chapter Five – Creating a brand with your book marketing plan

Think about this… in many cases, you – not your book – are really the “brand” you are selling. Books can occasionally be seen as a commodity… “experts” who can be interviewed on a topic are often far more valuable. Your book is your calling card – and ultimately the way you will profit from your “expertise” – but many times, it YOU that is the selling point!

Use your marketing plan to push you as the primary product – building a brand around what you know and your “mystique” as an author. Also – don’t forget to let us know your plans! If you and your book are “tied” as a brand – let us help you use your book to increase your credibility and awareness. At least have us add your web site in several places in the book – even on the cover. Letting us you’re your marketing plans can allow us time to helpyou create the best possible product.
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That’s it – the building of a book marketing plan in a nutshell if you will. Let us know if we can answer any questions, and thanks for reading.

As always – if you like this information (and found it helpful) please feel free to post it on your site, put it in a blog, toss it in your newsletter, or in general spread it around. Please just give us credit here at www.dogearpublishing.net

May you have success in your creative efforts!

 Ray

Blogging — Creating a Community for Your Book

The following article is reprinted with permission from Dog Ear Publishing:

The business world is convinced it’s found a “revolutionary” way to reach customers and create “buzz” for their products… and they have, sort of…

The best part is, it’s really simple and something that you as an author already know how to do – WRITE!

The revolutionary marketing method? That odd little word called “blogs”.

You’ve heard the term “blog” before, I’m sure.

Here’s the revolutionary part though…

Have you done anything about it?

Do you understand the power that a blog can have?

Have you thought about using a blog to build a community of interested readers for your book, build your book sales, create awareness of you as an author and take your marketing efforts to the next level?

You may be asking “How do I start blogging?” Now is the perfect time to start… and I want to help you get started… NOW!

What does it meant to you? What is the meaning of blogging? Probably, it evokes images of a glorified internet “diary” where geeks, computer nerds, and lonely teenagers rant and rave in the ether of cyber space. Thats the way most define blogging.

But wait, blogs are quietly revolutionizing the way customers interact with companies (and even each other) about everything from existing products to new ideas and improvements in customer service. And very few people realize this fact.

Even fewer realize the importance to authors and their readers (and potential readers). Or, that you can earn money by blogging (by generating sales for your book).

What does this mean? It means blogs have come of age and anyone who wants to create a community of interested customers better sit up and take notice fast!

When they first came on the scene (and many times still today) blogs were simply a diary of your thoughts that was posted on the internet; but today’s blogs are evolving into vibrant websites that even the most computer-phobic of us can use and update instantly without knowing a single piece of arcane programming code.

An blog creates an interested and interactive community for you and your book – with you (and your book) as the central focus and the readers driving the content of the blog that provides rich feedback to the author.

Your blog also allows readers to respond your posts, provide additional information, links, expanded opinions, and more. Specifically, it builds interest in your book.

You can make immediate updates from a computer anywhere with only a Web browser and Internet connection.

And – different from the typical “static” web pages where content is difficult to change (so rarely does…), a “dynamic” blog is in a constant state of renewal and evolution.

Smart businesses are beginning to understand the huge impact of a concept that “mom and pop” businesses have understood for years: to truly be successful, you must know your customers and be completely in tune with their wants, needs, and desires.

Large publishers throw millions of dollars down a dark scary black hole every year trying to identify (really “guess”…) what people want to read. (In the corporate world of publishing it’s called the “Marketing Department.”)

However, in the self publishing world, we don’t have those kinds of dollars to throw away – so we have to be smarter. We need to understand our readers, our markets, and the ways that we can build interest for the topics we publish (and find NEW ones).

A blog allows you to avoid guessing what’s on your readers’ minds and provides an active and up-to-the-minute means for them to tell you exactly what they do and don’t like about your book, writing, and practically any other topic you might feel is important.

Having this sort of immediate access to your readers minds makes it possible for self published authors to build huge market share.

There are two ways you can build your blog: you can use one of the “hosted” solutions (like Blogger or LiveJournal) or stand-alone applications (really only meant for the nerdiest of us). Hosted blogging solutions are extremely easy set up, often in just a couple of minutes.

I’ll assume you already know how to type… so you can create a blog. Point your web browser to Blogger.com and you will find you can set up a blog free of charge and be posting within just a couple minutes.

The best part? Blogger.com is owned by search giant Google and will host your blog on their servers.

For the stand-alone products, one of the most popular is Moveable Type (from moveabletype.org ) and is a very versatile and powerful suite of tools for creating a full-featured blog (if your desires are to create a blog that competes with those of the largest companies in the world).

No matter what you choose, understand that your blog can be a critically important part of marketing plan for building reader awareness for your book.

A tremendously important feature of blogs (and one that makes them heads above more traditional email newsletters) is that your readers have the ability to get your updates without having to receive an email. With the wonders of RSS (real simple syndication), subscribers are notified of your updates to the blog through their news reader.

What’s the big deal? Publishing your blog with RSS feeds (that your readers then subscribe to) means your content NEVER EVER gets caught by SPAM filters.

If you like this information (and found it helpful) and please feel free to post it on your site, put it in a blog, toss it in your newsletter, or in general spread it around. Please just give us credit here at www.dogearpublishing.net

May you have success in your creative efforts!

Ray

Book Promotion: Establishing an Online Persona

Your online persona is simply how the world perceives you. In real life, the first thing people see is your physical person. Online, the first thing people see is your writing — in comments, blogs, blurbs. Sometimes they see your icon first. Either way, that first impression is in your hands.

What image do you want to portray? Witty, wise, intelligent, forward thinking, funny? Down-to-earth, optimistic, casual, youthful, enthusiastic? Helpful, creative, disciplined, worldly, romantic?

This is one time and place where you can be the person you always wanted to be. Even better, in acting as if you are that person, you become it. This online persona is not a fabrication, it is the better part of you. Do you want your readers to know how much you whine and complain? Do you want them to know you’re a lazy slob? Do you want them to know you tend to be narrow-minded? Only if it will help you sell more books. And you do want to sell books, don’t you?

In the online world, the moving finger does not always move on after having writ. You can change what you have written to reflect the person you want to be. Before you post a comment, make sure it fits with your online persona and that it says what you want to say. Check for grammar and spelling. Some toolbars, like Google, have a spell check that works great for comments. Some sites let you delete comments. Other sites let you edit your comments, so you can rework those already submitted. And you can rewrite your blog posts.

Did you publish an article whining about how much your mother-in-law drives you nuts? Rewrite it. Turn it into a humorous piece, one that reflects your online persona. Do publish political rants? It’s better to take a milder stance, unless you don’t mind alienating half of your potential readers. You do want readers, don’t you?

Do you regularly use IM-speak in your comments or blogs? i m sr u only want readers to see such abbreviations if you are appealing to a young audience. Otherwise, it’s best to write clearly. You are planning on making a career of writing, aren’t you? Think of the future. There is no past on the Internet. The words you say in the real world dissipate into outer space; the words you write online remain in cyberspace forever.

Make sure your icon reflects your persona. Using a sexy avatar such as one showing naked buttocks might work if you write soft porn, but if you wish to establish yourself as a serious writer, use something else. Your book cover is often a good choice.

Always remember, you are an author, both of your book and of yourself.