Book Marketing 101 by Bobby Ozuna

Bobby Ozuna is a public speaker,  internet talk show host, co-founder to the READ3Zero foundation for kids, host to blog talk radio’s The Indie Author Show, and the author of Proud Souls. I am pleased that Bobby has allowed me to post this information about book marketing. Bobby says:

By demand and an earnest desire to help the many people who appear lost when it comes to the most effective way to brand or market themselves, I thought I would offer some tips for consideration when working to develop a place for your business, organization or art–outside of the actual product. This is what’s called brand-building.

A vast majority of my work involves authorship, but these tips can be applied to any business venture. If you wish to sale a product, then you have to learn to think beyond the product. It’s not good enough to say (using books as an example) [that] “I wrote a book and now everyone should buy it.” Like any successful business, you have to first consider the consumer. People spend money everyday, on something or many things–some of which are true desires to possess (needs) and others are simply purchases based on a good sale to their desire to own something else (wants).

Here are some things to consider when establishing a brand or marketability within your respective field. I use book publishing or authorship as an example here, but you should truly consider aspects of these examples when working to sell your product, contrary to what that may be.

1. Establishing a Web Presence

What does your website signify and is it created and written (and re-worked on a continual basis) to help search engines (potential customers) find you? How much time do you spend learning about the best ways to optimize (SEO) your website and online presence?

In today’s fast moving society of high-tech gadgetry it isn’t enough for an author to be content with simply “having a book on Amazon” (or any other online retail store). It is not acceptable either for an author to say, “I don’t know how to do this stuff” or worse “I can’t learn it.” Whether you chose to publish independently or had little or no choice to see your work in print, if you plan on making a dent in today’s book buying consumer base, then you will have to learn how to establish (at the very least) a web presence that builds on your credibility of your book(s) subject material. If you aren’t interested in building a website or quite possibly, can’t afford a good web developer/designer, there are many free tools you can utilize. Something after all, is better than nothing at all. Personally, I am a fan of blogs and all their optimization (SEO) functionalities to help you gather customers based on your sites material. Establishing a web presence is easy but maintaining the data and staying current is the hard part, because it requires continual effort. I have listed some points to consider as you design and refine your marketing plan.

Questions you might ask yourself when evaluating your present website and/or blog, including any social networking media you might incorporate.

What does my website signify? What does it say about me as a person or literary professional? Are you utilizing every social networking site for fun, or to help establish your place in relation to your artwork? For instance, many people use Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and a blog. (These are are great places to start building your online/web presence…hint, hint.) BUT, if you skim through these sites of your fellow author and publisher (and of course, your own material), you might find they are spending an ample of amount of time discussing the weather or their favorite sports game and rarely, if ever, discussing their book’s subject material. If you have a MySpace, Facebook, etc., you want to incorporate links to your storefront, images of your book cover and of course, summations of every blog post for people to navigate to and read. That leads us to one of the most important aspects of developing your web presence: Becoming the expert!

Becoming the Expert:
A major part of branding and marketing your book publishing business is solidifying your expertise within your book’s genre or field. Article writing is by far the best way to get this done. If you have a blog (if you don’t go get one now!) or website, you want to start working on a plan to contribute at least (at the very least) two articles per week about your book’s subject matter. You can use these articles as a means to discuss or share quotations from your book and also interview other people, share tips & tricks or help develop others. These people you help are potential book buyers! If people trust your information, then they will surely trust your book. The more consistent you are with refining and defining your online presence, the greater chance of exposure and of course, possibilities for selling your business’s product: YOUR BOOK!

Branding Tip:
Most of us wrote a book, then worked to develop our credibility for the information. Pretend instead, you were the subject matter expert already who HAPPENED to write a book. If you approach  marketing from this perspective, it will help shed light on new methods for marketing your businesses credibility (you) and your book’s material (book) and ultimately, give way for people (followers) to trust you enough to purchase your product (sales).

2.  Marketability

How are you trying to sell your work and have you determined your actual market? Trying to sell book products to people who don’t read or (let’s say) other authors who are competing against you? Are you working to establish an online presence that is catchy (building on wants) of those who fall into your customer base?

If I said the word marketing and then listed some random words, such as: soda, car & shoe, it would be relatively easy to guess what words or businesses came to your mind when you heard me say them. For soda, you might have considered Coke or Pepsi. For car you may have thought of Ford or Chevy and lastly, for shoe, the odds are pretty good you thought of Nike or at the very least, the Nike swoosh symbol. This is what’s called Top-Of-Mind marketing and branding. Top-of-Mind, being, the very first word(s) or business models that comes to your mind when a list of words are mentioned. When a business is working to focus its attention on a certain customer base or “corner of the market” it is imperative they understand just who their customers are and work within their niche to build an effective marketing plan to target that audience.

As an example, I work for Texas based children’s author (Melissa M. Williams/Iggy the Iguana) but my own work of fiction (Proud Souls) would never be considered for marketing to the same audience. Why? Well, (if it wasn’t obvious) my material is written for adults NOT children. I don’t even tell children much about my book, apart from saying, I’m a writer too! It sounds like a relatively simple thing to do, but if at the end of the day, the name of the game is sales, then why would I spend my time (or waste my time depending upon how you measure the quality and cost of your time) talking about, sharing or trying to sale a product to a consumer base that won’t purchase my product(s)?

This installment deals with marketability or your ability to market a product effectively to a particular customer base. Take these points into consideration and these suggestions as you work (and rework and rewrite) to develop your marketing strategy.

a.) Know your customers:

If you write for children, then you need to be in front of children. You need to create a product that doesn’t always fit WHAT YOU THINK is the best product for a child (or children) but what they like. Get out there and ask them. Meet with kids, conduct author visits, and school presentations and ask them what they think of your product. They are after all your entire customer base. If your book is niche, or based on events or circumstances for adults, then find the people who will identify with it the most, and get their perspective. You can offer books for free, to generate a buzz, get some reviews, offer free readings, etc. 

b.) Appeal to your audience

You don’t want to create a cover that is too adult for children anymore than you want to create a cover that is too childish for adults. Look at other books in your genre and get a feel for cover styles. If you aren’t sure, ask yourself the next time  you are in a bookstore. If I read this genre and I walk down that genre’s aisle, what books pop out and grab my attention? Is it a bold title on the spine? Is it an image? Is it dark? Light? The cover design should correlate with your book’s theme, that after all is an old trick of playwriters from ages ago.

c.)  Streamline your visual aids

When you think of shoe, you most likely think of Nike. When you think of Nike, you most likely think of the swoosh sign. This isn’t a coincidence but targeted, planned and effective results of good marketing. If you have a profile picture, it should be the SAME one you use on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and your website. If you have a cover design image on the Internet, it should be the same as well, everywhere. Your business logo on your blog or website should match what’s on your book cover, etc. The idea is to brand one cover design, with one business logo and one author profile picture. That way, when someone sees you on Twitter they may recognize you from Facebook. If they find you posting comments on a book blog, they will recognize you from MySpace, etc. Your job is to make sure people know what you look like, what you wrote, and what your book cover looks like…without thinking twice!

d.) Learn to be convincing–and believe it!
Does one shoe make you run faster than another? Does one energy drink truly make you a better athlete? Does one laptop or personal computer help you work any better than the other? No, no and no…but…the sales and marketing staff at each of these organizations will work to make you believe otherwise. That is the power of a good marketing campaign. If your book deals with overcoming loss (non-fiction) and you have been through devastating loss and rejuvination, then YOU ARE THE EXPERT! You after all, have written a book about the subject! Get out there on blogs, guest blogs, radio shows, Facebook, MySpace, support groups, etc. and remind the people how YOUR information and knowlegde helped save your life…and how it can save theirs too! Period.

e.) Become the expert

I can’t stress this point enough. I read once that if you work at anything (consistently) for five years, you become the subject matter expert. Trust me, it may seem like you’re not at times and because of a lack of sales, you may not feel like the expert, but you are! The little things you learned and forgot you learned along the way are the very things someone else is looking for. Why not be the one who feeds them continuous content to help them get where you are? By posting articles, podcasts, interviews, etc., on a continuous (continous) basis, you are allowing people a chance to trust you and with that trust and learning, will come sales–if you have a product–and what better product to sum up your knowledge than a book?

f.) If I like you–I will like your product

Someone told me once that we write because it is our gift and we work hard at it so the world will fall in love with our work. We blog–or utilize any social networking website–so people will fall in love with us. If you want to sale books you must believe in them. If you want to sale books you must be your books biggest and greatest advocate and NOT sit around waiting on someone else to love it or promote it or believe in it more than you! If you want to sale books, then you have to learn to be personable enough that people LIKE you enough to give your art (your work, your product) a chance. Remember who you were when you were just starting out…how much you loved talking about your book…without query letters, sales pitches, guidelines, etc…? That person could inspire the world without any formal effort. Don’t let the formalities destroy the beauty in your heart…to share with the world what is in your soul.

3.  Credibility

Do you write articles, teach classes, offer lectures, that solidify your expertise within your market? Are you available to help others learn how to do what you are (working) to accomplish? To help others with a serving spirit, doesn’t hinder your ability to make money, but rather opens more doors for opportunity by helping others along the way.

4. Consistency

How often are you working online to develop a TOM (top of mind) marketing presence. As an example, when people think car company, do they think Chevy or Ford? When they think (for example) of your product line, art, book genre, etc., do they think of you or your works title? What have you done to help establish that want, based on your businesses product. Your product is not only your item for sale, but YOU!

5. Time

If you are writing a book or trying to sale a book to make money only, people can see right through that. And that, makes you no different than the hundreds of thousands of other authors on the market. What makes you (YOUR BUSINESS) different than the next? What do you offer a community, a market, consumers, etc that truly makes your business worth investing in–and ultimately–buying your product? I read once that anything you do for five years [you] become the expert at. All of this work takes TIME, but if you believe in your product, if you believe in your passion, etc., then time is in your favor, not working against you.

These are a few of the various points to consider when working to write your marketing plan, develop a marketing model and lastly, create your web model (links to) your various websites.

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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.

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