Never Be Afraid to Ask

Ian O’Neill, the one-time advertising copywriter turned award winning freelance journalist, is the author of Endo, a mystery/suspense novel set in Ontario, Canada. Ian has written for newspaper, magazine, radio, television and once wrote a dirty limerick on a dusty car but didn’t sign it. Ian writes:

The more technology enters our lives the more we’re able to live at arm’s length – the arm being enormously, freakishly long at times. It means communicating without, in many cases, having to look people in the eyes (their actual eyes, not a webcam version of them). Surprisingly, there are writers harboring a trepidation about not only coming face-to-face with other humans, but simply making requests even at a comfortable, technologically-created distance.

My father may not have had a tremendous amount of formal education but his teachings have stayed with me. One little nugget of knowledge he imparted has served me well in the writing world and stands to help a lot of authors better market their books.

Never be afraid to ask. This is the translated version from my father’s thick Scottish brogue which in it’s original form was, “You’ll never get the jail for asking.” At least not in this part of the world.

Dad was definitely on to something.

Considering the plethora of ways to communicate, some authors still find it difficult to ask for things. Is it in our nature? Is it in a writer’s DNA? Are you Canadian? Factoring in the percentage of writers who are simply shy or nervous about communicating to anyone, you’re left with those not wanting to be perceived as pushy or have anyone thinking they have a big ego.

 Authors with small publishers shoulder the bulk of their book’s promotion burden. This is where many writers vacillate in getting attention for their work. We know so many ways to get the word out. There are hundreds, if not thousands of sites like this one listing ways to promo your work. The problem is the writer has to approach a bookstore owner/manager, a site’s administrator, even their own publisher to get that opportunity.

So, to what kinds of questions am I referring? Questions that, when asked, can promote you and your work and can help sell books. That’s the dirtiest four letter word in any author’s vocabulary – sell.

Putting together a blog tour is difficult if you can’t approach bloggers with a request to participate on their site. This seems like a simple task, but our perceptions of what others think of us gets in the way of what is potentially very good for us. Maybe it’s how you approach people that will make the difference. Always be professional and polite when dealing with anyone — reader, blogger, fellow authors, anyone. This applies to any situation, whether communicating from a distance or in person. Never use net speak; always use proper spelling and grammar. No one wants to see LOL or U or smiley faces. Save those for your casual communications.

What about a book launch? You’ve considered it and are laying the groundwork for a killer launch. Your book has gardening as a key component so you think having an outdoor launch at a local botanical garden is a good idea. Now all you have to do is ask. Get up the gumption to call, e-mail or go in person to find out if what you want is possible. I can’t tell you the number of author’s I’ve spoken to who’ve mentioned plans like these then dropped them a week later. The amount of work and dollars involved may have contributed to their change of mind but many have admitted the interaction intimidation factor.

 What other options does the writer have at their P.R. disposal?

Book signings are a great way to get your name out there. This is a difficult task to accomplish whether you’ve got a publisher setting these up for you or you have to organize one yourself. The biggest challenge is approaching the bookstore with the idea. You’ve made a list of stores including that great indie place you’ve shop at for years. Take a deep breath and ask if they do signings. Then work out any of the details necessary to make it a success. How much advertising will the store do to promote the event? Will they supply all the books? What can they provide for shoppers in the way of refreshments? Get a list of questions down on paper before you even ask if they are willing to do a signing. If it helps, read them over a dozen times out loud to familiarize yourself with them before hand or read them right off the paper. 

Ever venture into a bookstore and see a lonely author sitting at a table, books stacked beside them, pen at the ready but no one is lining up? It’s not uncommon and there are a few things to remember if you are that solo artist. Looking at people and smiling is the first step in breaking down any awkwardness and that usual imaginary barrier that surrounds the table. When someone does approach you, put a book in their hands. We choose books in several ways, not the least of which is by reading the cover copy. Having the book in hand allows for this to happen and it increases the chance of a sale. One book sold opens the possibility for dozens more to sell.

Conventions are a fantastic place to meet readers, potential readers and fellow authors. Again, those bearing the marketing load must take the initiative and ask to be included. It can be daunting but in my experience cons are one of the most receptive at communicating with and including new authors. Find out what booksellers will be attending and staffing a booth in the sales room and ask to have your book among their convention inventory. Bring books with you to your panels and put it in the hand of conventioneers in hopes of sparking their interest.

One of the best selling features of a book is reader reviews. Whether you have a website, blog, Twitter, Facebook or use a mailing list, connect with readers and ask them to give you a positive review. You’d be surprised at how receptive readers are to this especially when you explain that they can be part of your success. It will make readers feel connected to you giving them a more personal stake in the situation.

Worrying that people will see you as egotistical becomes irrelevant when you realize that if you don’t talk about your book, who will? Ask questions and get the ball rolling.

What we’re really talking about here is initiative. Once you establish a course of action you need to be able to approach those involved or in charge and ask for what you need.

The result of writing this post is twofold; I get to impart some knowledge that could help other writers and I get my name and book title mentioned to an established audience. That wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t asked. Remember, in the end the absolutely worst thing that can happen is someone says no. As writers, that is a common word and by now, holds little weight. We hear it, absorb it and move on to find a yes.

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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

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

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