Book Marketing Tips From A. F. Stewart

A. F. Stewart is a writer of fantasy stories and poetry. Stewart has been writing for several years, periodically interrupted by those pesky events called life. Stewart has three published books: one volume of poetry, a short story collection and a non-fiction booklet about action movies. All are currently available at Lulu.com.

Here’s what Stewart has learned (the hard way):

A quick how-to guide on book marketing, for those who have no funds for professionals.

The Must Have Items:

1. A Website
2. A Press Kit (online and/or for mailing out)
3. A Media Kit for individual books
4. A Press Release

* A Website:

Find a webhost. There are free hosts out there, (Geocities and Bravenet, for instance, and of course Squidoo), as well as inexpensive ones. Just make sure they are reputable.

You will have to decide whether you are going to use CSS or HTML; either way it is a good idea to become familiar with both forms. (Just use Google, there are a lot of tutorials out there). I recommend CSS, it is more confusing to edit, but it gives a nicer website.
As for editing, it can be done in notepad.

Use a website template. It will make creating a website far easier. Some webhosts provide you with free templates, but there are other places to find them as well.

Meta tags. Use them: title, description, keywords. They can be useful for search engines, and they don’t hurt.

Add webtools. Whether you get from your webhost or another source, they are handy things. You can add a newsletter, forms (for surveys, contest entries, etc.), a guestbook, a message forum, polls.

Add your books to your site. Post pictures and weblinks so people can see and buy your books, or if you can, use a widget (Some publishers have widgets that link to your books). Also add any links to reviews or other sites that have your book info. Put book excerpts on your site, plus any book freebies such as brochures, flyers, media kits, etc. And list any future books; you never know who will be interested.

A link page. Now you can add one or not, but I’ve found a lot of free directories want a reciprocal link, and it makes it easier if your links are on one page. Also, you may wish to offer a link exchange with other writing sites, or other authors.

To see what I’ve done go here:
Afallon Website
Enter Afallon

* A Press Kit:

This is for promoting yourself as an author. You will need:

* A short Biography of yourself, written in the third person.
* A good quality photo of yourself. (Although I did use an icon in my online press kit.)
* A list of your books, with all their information and a good synopsis. Also including any good reviews won’t hurt.
* A list of any awards or accolades, if you have any.
* A list of your writer’s groups
* A contact list; email, websites. (If you are mailing a press kit, you may wish to include a phone number.)
* For an online press kit, add a link to your blog.
* Freebies such as flyers, brochures. (Hard copy for mailing , downloadable for the online kit). And if you are mailing your kits out, throw in a business card.

You can have a separate site for your online press kit, or simply make it a page of your website.

To see what I’ve done go here:
My Press Kit

* A Media Kit:

I use this as a press kit for each book. I include:

* A fancy cover page. A pretty design, with the name of the book, my name, the date and where I published.
* A cover sheet. It includes a short descriptive blurb about the book, and a list of the media kit’s contents.
* A photo of the book cover
* A fact sheet on the book. It includes a description of the book, the publisher, where it is available, the price and the product details. (such as copyright, page length, binding, etc.)
* Any book reviews
* An Excerpt from the book
* An sample author interview, in the form of a Q and A. (This is only for the online version.)
* The book’s press release

You can find my media kits on my website or at my online press kit.

* A Press Release:

I use the free online press release services like Sanepr and PRlog. You will need a press release for each book, and you can also send out releases for book events, the launch of your website, for winning awards, etc.

For a how-to on writing a press release go here:

Press release tips
OR
Write a proper press release

A Sell Sheet 

(also called a tip sheet)

A sell sheet is a cross between a flyer and a fact sheet. It is usually one page, designed to catch the eye and promote your product, in this case your book.
It can be used for promotion at events, sent to bookstores/libraries, or added to press kits.
It most often consists of:
The book title and book cover thumbnail
Book Facts
Book Synopsis
Reviews
Marketing strategy such as book tours, appearances, book signings, advertising, etc.
Contact and buying information
Author Biography

You can have your sell sheet designed for you, or you can attempt your own using Microsoft Word or Powerpoint. I recommend using Microsoft Office Powerpoint.

How To Advertise Yourself as an Author

A. F. Stewart is a writer of fantasy stories and poetry. Stewart has been writing for several years, periodically interrupted by those pesky events called life. Stewart has three published books: one volume of poetry, a short story collection and a non-fiction booklet about action movies. All are currently available at Lulu.com 

Here are Stewart’s free or cheap marketing wisdoms for marketing a book online:

1. Get a Website: An essential selling tool. You can sell your books directly from the site via links, or you can set up a store of your own. (It can be done, there are helpful sites that show you how).
There are plenty of free, or inexpensive hosting sites that you can use for your site. I went with Bravenet.com; you get some nice free website add-ons, such as hit counter, guestbook, email forms, etc. If you would like a look at my site here it is: Afallon Website

2. Get an Online Press Kit: You need to sell yourself and your book. This is an excellent way to do it. Create a bio, book list, post your reviews, press releases and any other promotional stuff.

3. Join the online social networking: Get your presence as an author out on the World Wide Web. Join Squidoo, MySpace, Facebook, Gather.com, AuthorsDen, or any other writing form that suits your needs.

4. Promotional freebies: It is not to difficult to create your own brochures or flyers, (using a program such as Powerpoint), that you can make available for a free download. And a definite must is a downloadable Media Kit for your book.

5. Book Trailer: You can get a professionally done book trailer, (if you look there are inexpensive options) or do your own. Windows Movie Maker can be use to make an interesting promo with some imagination.

6. Write Articles: Excellent way to spread your name as a writer. There are plenty of places to post them for free.

7. Get a Blog: Write your opinions, your experiences, post excerpts from your books, write online stories, whatever.

Trying to market your books, and make a name for yourself as an author can be tough, especially if you self-publish. And it can be expensive, if you listen to all the big marketing companies. They are loads of sites that try to sell you on their new and improved, breakthrough system, guaranteed to get you sales or bring traffic to your website. Maybe they can, but they usually cost hundreds of dollars.
So, I went looking for free advertising. And, yes you can find it, but you get what you pay for. I tried some of the free classifieds, the ads where you put code in your website, places where you can add banners, the advertising forums; basically a waste of time. Skip the freebie advertising.
Now for the free stuff that does seem to work.

Advertising your Website:

1. Put the URL in as many places as you can: on your blog, social networking sites, press releases, emails, media kits, website guestbooks, generally anything that goes public. And don’t forget to put it in your books.

2. Get in the search engines. Submit to Google, Yahoo, DMOZ, etc. Submit manually or use free search engine submission. Just keep in mind the free search engine submission sites also have pay versions and will try to sell you on those. Free bulk submission is easier, but I have found free manual submissions work better.

3. Get indexed by Google and Yahoo. You have to be indexed to use their helpful website monitoring tools.

4. Get Links. One useful way is link exchange. Link Market is an excellent free link exchange site, and you can pick and choose who goes on your site. And do not put just any link on your website, make sure they relate to your site in some way.

5. Submit your URL to free directories. You will have to this manually, but get it out there. Do a Search, and find those directories. There are several niche directories to which you can add your website.

6. Advertise your website with a free press release. Tell the world that you exist, and what you are all about. If you would like to see an example, my press release can be viewed here: Press Release

7. Hold a contest. I’ve created several contests and posted all on Grandma Jam’s Sweepstakes Guide to advertise. I got interest, and website traffic.
My Contest Page

8. Join webrings. Find rings that pertain to your website and join. It gets you on Google.

9. Join one of those online bookmark sites, and add your own website. I’ve joined del.icio.us and Stumble.

And if you have a special site, or preview page, for your book, make certain to list it in the directories and search engines as well. Also add to your online bookmarks.

Setting Up Author Events and Book Signings

This article was reprinted with permission from Dog Ear Publishing.

We all have at one time or another had the fantasy of our books being absolutely indispensable to readers – and that our genius is immediately recognizable even without the benefit of creating awareness or self-promotion. Well, for some very famous authors this may be true – but then again, publishers still spend millions of dollars promoting even the greatest writers’ books. Having your book recognized for the high quality endeavor that it is, and selling some in the process, really is ALL about an awareness of both you as an author and your book. One of the hard truths of the self-publishing industry is that authors must work diligently to create a market for their books – and all without the multi-million dollar budgets of the big publishers.

Author Events are the primary vehicle for the self-published author to get out and meet the public, and they can be your ticket to both sales and increased publicity – all thanks to your local retail outlet. This article will be your quickstart guide to developing and setting up winning Author Events and Book Signings.

Follow the steps outlined below, and you’ll find yourself scheduling more effective (and enjoyable) events, selling more books, and reaching more readers than ever before.

1 – Research the target locations

Keep in mind that sometimes (more often than not as a matter of fact) the best place to sell books ISN’T in a bookstore. Craft book? What about hobby or fabric stores? Cookbook? What about a local gourmet shop? Business or finance book? Any local seminars coming up that you could “piggyback” with? History or historical fiction? How about your local historical society functions?

Each bookstore has a specific focus, clientele and “ambiance” that contribute to its success. These traits are determined by the store’s location, the inventory focus, the personality of the manager and her or his team, and the appearance and atmosphere of the store itself – and these factors drive what products sell within this store. Make sure ALL of these factors support YOUR topic and your book. For example – a store focusing on children wouldn’t be the place to pitch your latest investment strategy guide…

Start local before you go global. You’ll have the most success where you have the greatest chance of being recognized.

Each and every venue you discover will have has specific presentation opportunities and needs. Make sure you understand where author events are typically held within the store, and what area is available for your presentation. Find out who is in charge of coordinating author events and get to know them – get on their mailing list of events so you can see what the store is typically presenting to their customers. Ask them what they want in an author. Match their needs and wants to what you have to offer, and don’t waste each other’s time by forcing your book to fit their world.

2 – Be absolutely professional in requesting an event

It’s almost funny how many authors begin to think that just because they put pen to paper they deserve to be treated like royalty. Respect the store managers – you need them far more than they need you, keep your ego in check, ask them if you can present your idea for an author event and ASK FOR THEIR FEEDBACK. They will be far more inclined to want you in their store if they feel involved and invested in your success – it doesn’t mean make them do your work, but use their experience and knowledge to make your event a success (they probably know their customers better than you do…).

Create and use the best possible marketing materials – build a professional media kit that includes a press release, reviews, articles on topic that support book (both your own and other sources), a print out of your cover, a poster, postcards, author bio, author photo, marketing info and calendar showing other events. Send this rather large packet of goodies to the appropriate person at the store – you should have this person’s name from your research phase. NEVER send a media kit to a generic address – I guarantee you are better off having NOT sent anything.

3 – Help drive attendance (and thereby book sales)

Author Events really have only one goal as far as the store is concerned – get more people into the store and spending money. It isn’t a public service. Let the manager and events coordinator know what you can do to help drive customers to the store – as I said, an author event is designed to sell books and boost bookstore attendance, if all you are doing is capitalizing on customers already in the store – what value is your signing to the store?

There are lots of ways you can help the store bring more faces to your event:
– provide a mailing list to the store to which they can mail their newsletter with an announcement of your event
– offer to mail / email info about your signing to THEIR list, or provide materials they can send to their list (they may not want you having total access to their customer list — which may violate some privacy/spam requirements)
– help drive media coverage of your event – local papers, radio, etc – by sending them a press release announcing your event. Ask the manager about what forms of advertising they prefer you use and which work best for their store
– call the local paper the week before your event and ask if they’ll send a local editor or cameraman over for your event

The goal is to coordinate and cooperate – combining your efforts with those of the store will far more than double your results

4 – Create an interesting presentation or performance – tailored for each store you visit

It’s not just about sitting at a table and hoping that your signature will create interest and sell books. In today’s multimedia, multimodal, multimessage world, sitting and chatting to prospective readers won’t get you much interest.

Don’t just ask for a signing – think about what else can you do to draw traffic into the store. Is there a tie in with your book that you can use to create interest? Any current events that make your book timely? Be highly creative – think outside the box – got a cookbook? bring prepared food and teach the group how to make one of your recipes; got a fiction story? dress up like a character and do a reading or re-create one of the scenes; conduct a “seminar”; offer advice… whatever it takes to draw NEW customers into the store. It’s not enough to just capitalize on the traffic that is already there – that doesn’t make the storeowner any more invested in your success, and most of those people aren’t there to buy your book anyway.

5 – Remember the details of selling books

Don’t neglect the details of inventory and actually selling books – and remember that for you, the goal is as much about author awareness as it is selling books. Good awareness can contribute to an additional 50 to 75% of your event book sales. Remember these things:
– You need to have books in the store for your event, so help the store get a good deal on stocking 10 to 30 units and make sure they are in-stock before your event. Offer extra units at a good discount — if they buy direct from you and pass along some savings to the customer. Consider consignment – though only as a last resort.
– Make sure you understand the store’s stocking policy for author events. Will they bring in extra inventory for the promotional period surrounding your event?  Do they keep extra after the event? (don’t be surprised if they only keep a few… be prepared to have some returns). How long will they keep you in inventory?
– Ask the store manager then if they’d like you to autograph the remaining copies. 

6 – Tie in callback or side opportunities

Can you schedule another appearance while you are there? It’s a long shot, but often worth a try. (However, don’t advertise your “next appearance” at your current event, or people will put off buying your book.) Does the store have multiple locations at which you can conduct additional events?

Make sure you get the names of your attendees – ask them to fill out cards to receive your newsletter (you have one, right?)

7 – After Event follow up

– send a “thank you” note to the store
– ask for their feedback
– ask to schedule another event (though this is a long shot) – or be part of an event that the store may be sponsoring or in which it may be involved (a community event or even another author event)
– keep in contact with the key person at the store – by visiting in person once a month or so (the best) or call / email
– send a complimentary note to the store’s district manager or corporate home office about the event

Never ever underestimate the power of an author appearance – most stores need for events that can help drive additional customers to their store. Try to hit weekends, but remember that weeknights are good for many topics. Concentrate on what helps bring customers in to the store and you will be more successful that presenting an event that only draws on the traffic already present. Decide carefully where you prospect for events – make sure that what you offer (and the topic of your book) suit the needs of the store. It’s always easier to start local and then move outwards in radiating circles – this gives store personnel the chance to have actually heard about you from other sources.

Follow these simple steps and you will find yourself scheduling more events and conducting them more successfully – creating even greater demand for you in future events.

In a nutshell:

1. Research, research, and research – don’t waste your time on stores that aren’t a fit just because they’ll let you in the door.
2. Create an interesting “EVENT”. Presentations sell more than “visitations” – people will be more interested in you and your book if you entertain or inform (so will the store manager). Don’t just expect to sit around, chat, and sell books.
3. Be absolutely professional – provide all the detail they could ever dream of having about you, your book, and why they should care.
4. Gather review and blurbs from all possible sources
5. Show them what you can do for their store. Present ideas on driving more traffic to their location.
6. Tie in side opportunities
7. Don’t forget the details of selling books
8. Make everyone glad you were there

An incomplete checklist of setting up your event:

1. Research & Identify target stores

2. Create marketing materials

3. Contact store managers in person or phone, then follow up with materials – remember to have your ISBN on hand – this is how they look items up with the greatest ease

4. Get all the store info on a single sheet – address, phone number, manager’s name and direct line, event coordinator (if there is one), all the emails you need – including a contact at their corporate home office or a district manager if you can

5. Prepare materials you will bring:
a. Two Posters – glued or bonded to a hard backing so that it stands up – if you aren’t handy and can make this as professional as possible, go to a craft shop or frame shop and have them do it
b. Post cards about your book to hand out
c. Bookmarks – put one in each book in the store (and leave them there even after you leave)
d. Author bio sheet with picture in plastic frame
e. Easel to stand one of your posters on

6. Ask store to stock some copies of your book at the register along with your bookmarks

7. Offer to do a Press Release or announcement about the signing for the store

8. Bring book easels to set 3 or 4 books on – or borrow some from the store

9. In-store — don’t sit behind your table, get into the crowd!

10. Be Happy! You are there to share something special with the audience – and they are there to support you and listen to your ideas. Remember – they came to your event voluntarily. They WANT to be there!

11. Put a bookmark or card in every single copy of your book in the store

12. Hand a book to everyone you can – ask them to browse through it, take it to table and read it, or even show them your favorite passage. Just getting them to TOUCH the book will increase your sales dramatically

13. Put articles of interest (on your topic of course) on your table – generate conversation with them

14. Take pictures of your event – have a friend or store associate photo you ‘in action’ at the table. One shot posed, one shot candid, one with the store manager and/or events coordinator – send this one to the store with your thank you note (maybe you could suggest they start posting author signing photos in the store??)

Nothing can guarantee a great book signing – but not being prepared CAN guarantee a lousy one. Follow these steps and tips, and your next event will not disappoint. Good luck!

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

When is the Best Time to Start Promoting Your Book?

In an online discussion about writing, one participant asked when was the best time to start promoting. As I was responding, it suddenly dawned on me I had a blog post!

So, when is the best time to start publicizing your book? At least year before you even sign a contract. Better yet, two years or even three. All the research says if you wait until you’re published, it’s too late since it takes three years for a book to take hold. (The traditional book publishers cheat new authors when they give them a mere six weeks to make or break.) Book promotion isn’t like selling gardening hoses, where you simply have a product to sell. In book promotion, the product is you, not your book. And it’s about name recognition. So start a blog — talk about your writing, your hopes, your successes and failures. Post scenes for critique. Get readers involved in the process, so that when you do sign a contract, they feel as if they have a stake in your book and, as writes, we know that to hook a reader, they must have something at stake.

One reason why so many fail at blogging is that most bloggers do not get the feedback that one gets on places like Gather who award points for participation, because blog readers have no reason to comment. But the stats can show you if people are looking.

Another reason why blogs fail is that the bloggers don’t give them a chance. It takes a year, maybe two or even three to build up a base of readers and a library of articles. People read about the blogs that get millions of readers and expect the same, but those blogs are a miniscule minority.

Facebook is another place where you can start your pre-publicity publicity by gaining “friends.” It takes a long time to build up a name there, but it’s mostly about connecting with anyone you can, posting notes (articles), updating your status frequently, setting up an rss feed so your blog is automatically posted, participating occasionally in a group discussion.

Also, you can join one of the library cataloguing places like librarything or goodreads. Catalog your books, talk about reading, connect with others who share your likes and dislikes. 

There are many things a writer can do to publicize long before a book is even finished, and if done right, no one will know you are promoting. Which is the point of guerilla marketing. Sneak in under their guard.

So, one to three years before a contract (or an agent) is even a gleam in your eye is the best time to start promoting. What’s the second best time? Today.

Guerilla Book Marketing

This article was reprinted with permission from Dog Ear Publishing.

Guerilla marketing is the art of promoting your book in ways that revolve around ingenuity rather than money. An author’s work on their book does not stop when the writing is done. It is entirely likely that you will spend more time promoting your book than you actually did writing it. The key is to learn how to promote your book effectively without either wasting your time or going broke in the process. You need to find the promotional efforts that will deliver the most bang for the buck.

This is where you turn to Guerilla Marketing.

The term “guerrilla marketing” was created by Jay Conrad Levinson author of a series of books on the subject. The idea is to make as large of an impact as possible without spending tremendous amounts of money. Guerilla marketing goes deeper than just selling books, it’s about how to create you and your book as a brand – it how you conduct your daily life, interact with potential readers, and build relationships with interested (and interesting) parties. Marketing is really EVERYTHING you do, done on a REGULAR basis. From the title of your book, to the name of your website, to the signature line at the bottom of your emails – all are part of guerilla marketing.
 
Think about how you have thought about promoting your book – or even the services or products you’ve considered purchasing to help in the promotion of your book – on which side of this chart do they fall? Do the ideas or materials you’ve thought about work for you, or will you have to work for them to get sales? As Peter Drucker has said, “The aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous.” Few authors relish the thought of becoming sales people. So don’t – become guerilla marketers!

Here’s a short list of ideas that will help you build an inexpensive, yet very effective and profitable guerilla marketing campaign for your book.

Guerilla Tactic #1- Stop making the booksellers and wholesalers rich – get a web site and shopping cart. Continuously giving away 40, 50, or 55% on your books just destroys your profit. Your book MUST be available through all the “traditional” outlets, but it doesn’t mean they are the only outlets.

Guerilla Tactic #2: Create a newsletter or e-zine centered around the topic / genre of your book. This will bring “like-minded” readers to your site and build awareness of you and your book.

Guerilla Tactic #3: Send postcards to everyone you can think of who might be interested in your book. You’d be surprised to discover the effectiveness of direct mail.

Guerrilla Tactic #4: Get involved in the online communities that deal with your topic / genre. Participate in newsgroups and forum. Present unique ideas or fresh perspective – but be cautious of “spamming” the group about your book. Update your signature line in your email with your book title and web address.

Guerrilla Tactic #5: Offer to give speeches to companies, schools or organizations about your field of expertise. You can hand out business cards or brochures at most events.

Guerrilla Tactic #6: Present readings or discussion groups at your local library, school, community events, business gatherings and even nursing homes. The goal is to expose readers to what you have to offer.

Guerrilla Tactic #7: Find a way to get in the news – get Press Releases about you and your book to your local paper and radio stations. Create a perception of “newsworthiness” by presenting yourself as an expert on your topic or genre.

Guerrilla Tactic #8: Become a resource – if you’ve written fiction, review books in your genre, business expert? Serve as a resource to your local media. Reporters work under horrendous deadlines, and occasionally they may need something to go to press quickly and your story might just be at hand.

Guerrilla Tactic #9: Give something away – at your reading, give away a book or two. Post your favorite chapter on the web. If your book is non-fiction, offer a service. Target your giveaway to the intended audience.

Guerrilla Tactic #10: Above all, be creative – do the things that no one else is doing. Our author Jillian Curtis did a reading of her book – and her son offered to dress up like the main character!

Have fun -and make sure others are having fun too and you will sell books.

These are just a few ideas to get you started – each author and each book is unique. You need to tailor your marketing to what you can physically do. Don’t get stuck on a single idea – guerillas use a wide variety of marketing tools, all designed to work together. Launch multiple marketing efforts simultaneously.

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

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