Book Marketing, Author Publicity, Branding

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Guest Post: How Authors Can Use Webinars to Sell More Books

How Authors Can Use Webinars to Sell More Books

By Gihan Perera

If you're an expert who has written a book about your area of expertise - or you're in the process of writing it - I'm sure you know already that it's not enough to just publish the book and wait for the money to come rolling in. You need to do more - much more - to promote it (if you want more sales) and you (if you're using the book for positioning as an expert).

Webinars can be a powerful tool to help you as an author. Here are three ways you can use them to help you as an author.

1. Market Research
Your readers are looking for you to help them with one or more of these four things:
  • Solve their problems
  • Answer their questions
  • Meet their challenges
  • Achieve their goals
The more your book does these things, the more successful it will be. Unfortunately, sometimes it's difficult to know exactly what readers want.
One way to find out is with a free Question and Answer webinar. You invite everybody in your network (and ask them to forward it to their networks as well), turn up on the day and simply spend an hour answering the questions that people ask. Don't promote anything; just answer their questions. You provide an extremely valuable service, and in return you discover exactly what your market wants to know.
I've seen people do this without any more structure than I've just described. But you can add a few extra features - and make it easier for you at the same time - in a few ways:
  • Invite attendees to e-mail you their questions in advance, so you have time to prepare your answers.
  • If you've already got some structure for your book (for example, you know it's in four main sections), arrange the questions in this same broad structure.
  • Record the webinar, and get the recording transcribed - this might even provide some new material for your book.
2. Bonus Webinar for Customers
To encourage people to buy your book as soon as it's launched, offer a bonus webinar for customers who buy it by a certain date.
In this webinar, you simply deliver a presentation outlining the main concepts of the book, answer reader questions, and perhaps even offer some bonus material. Don't worry about repeating some of what's in the book, because attendees will appreciate learning the information in different ways.
Of course, a webinar is just one of the many ways you can encourage "early bird" sales, but it has a number of advantages:
  • A webinar has a date attached, so this creates a natural deadline.
  • You can serve all these readers at the same time, so you don't have to limit the offer to a certain number of readers (as opposed to, say, offering a free 15-minute consultation to them).
  • The recording can become a product in its own right, which you can sell individually or as part of a bundle with the book.
3. Webinar Series
One disadvantage of a book is that it only gives you one point of contact with your customer. Most people won't read a book more than once, and very few of them will even read it in full even once!
You can address this by offering an on-going webinar series about the content of the book, either to customers only (as a bonus) or to anybody (as a promotional opportunity).
The purpose of your webinar series is not only to promote book sales - although it will do that anyway. It's also to continue positioning yourself as an expert, and to remain in front of your target market's mind, so that when they're ready to buy what you've got to sell, you will be their first choice.
Again, webinars are not the only option available to you. But if you're willing to make the commitment, they can be a very powerful option, because your attendees get to engage with you live.

Gihan Perera is an Internet coach for speakers, trainers, consultants and other business professionals. He's the author of "Fast, Flat and Free: How the Internet Has Changed Your Business". Visit and get free e-books, webinars and more.

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Guest Post: How Can People Find You If They Don't Know You Exist?

Article at a glance:
  • People can’t search for you if they don’t know you exist.
  • Keyword searches return thousands of competing results.
  • Media exposure helps point people to your website.

It pains me to see the hurt and frustration of people who don’t understand why their wonderful book or their cool, new product isn’t selling well. Too often, they conclude no one is interested in their message or that their gizmo falls short.
That’s usually not the case at all; heck, it’s why I went into marketing and PR! The need to market new books and products has been around for, well, as long as we’ve had books and products. The only thing that’s changed is the new media options we’ve added to our strategies.
I was recently talking about this with Joe Thomas of Left Brain Digital, the web developer and marketing consultant who designed our new website and services many of our clients. He said he’s still surprised by the number of authors and entrepreneurs, both new and seasoned, who tell him “I just don’t get it!” when their books or products don’t sell.
Since Joe has a way of explaining things that always makes me laugh, I asked if he’d mind writing about this problem for The PR Insider. He readily agreed. So, here’s Joe:

How To Write A Happy Ending
Or … I Have A Really Neat-o Book or Product, Now Why Doesn’t Anybody Buy It?

I can’t even fathom the number of conversations I’ve had with new clients suffering from a severe case of “I Just Don’t Get It!” disease. The stories of why they wrote their books or developed their products are all different, but the endings are the same: They’re not selling diddly. Squat. Nada.
Before we get too far into the whys and why nots, let me warn you, I am not going to tell you what you want to hear. There’s no magic form for you to fill out to get instant access to my “Special Report,” nor is there a download of secret “For Your Eyes Only” information designed to get you on my mailing list. (My next rant is going to be about buying into the web marketing trap.)
Instead, I’ll go straight to the “why,” which is as complicated as it is simple: People can’t buy what they can’t find.
Most web marketing gurus will tell you that Search Engine Optimization can help direct potential customers to your book or product, and why you should hire them to get you listed front and center. I am not that guy. Oh, I believe in the power of Google, but there are major caveats:
  1. Search engines are great if you know what you’re searching for. Type in your name and/or book title into Google and look at the results. You may be at the top of page 1 and even have 22 different listings on the first and second pages. You may get the same results on Bing and other search portals. You might even show up first on, where your book is right there, for sale to the masses. But you’re still not selling many books are you? Here’s the tricky part: YOU know your name and your book title, don’t you? But, people can’t search out your name and book title if they don’t know them.

  2. People can search for my incredibly, fantastical keywords, can’t they? Well sure they can – and they do. Let’s assume for a second you have a book and it’s about Politics, Money, Religion, Employment or any number of topics. Now go to Amazon and type in your keywords – you know, Politics, Money, Religion, Employment … You just discovered there are 672,481 books using your Incredibly Fantastical Keywords, right? Now type in those same keywords along with your name and/or book title. Eureka! There you are. I now direct your attention to No. 1 above.
  3. Your website is totally gorgeous but it’s not getting you sales. The first part of this quandary is, LOOK AT No. 1, above. Are people actually visiting your site? Have you checked out your server logs to see what your traffic data looks like? You’re probably thinking your webmaster takes care of all that, right? Unless your webmaster is getting a piece of the profits from every item you sell, odds are he/she doesn’t really care. Let’s be honest here, you’re paying your webmaster whether you sell or not. Now, if your traffic data is showing that you’re getting a boatload of traffic but no sales, maybe you need to be more realistic about how gorgeous your site really is. Looking good and converting visitors into buyers are two different things. But before you start blowing up your site, go back and LOOK AT No. 1, ABOVE.
Here’s a bit of free advice: If your marketing plan to reach 100,000 book or product sales is based on people finding you without a clue who you are, keep your day job and forget about buying the fancy car with your profits. You need exposure. You need to get your name and the name of your book, product or business in the news – in newspapers (they all put their content online nowadays), magazines and e-zines and blogs. Get yourself interviewed on talk radio and TV, if you can. Get your social network sites up and active and build a following.
Plenty of people do it themselves. If you find that too difficult or time-consuming, hire professionals to do it for you. There are 5 hundred million thousand books and products for sale online. If you want folks to know what to search for, they have to know that you exist and what you have to offer.
And the happy ending will come.
Joe makes it sound as easy as 1-2-3, doesn’t he? OK, so maybe it’s not that easy, but if you’re motivated and willing to spend the time getting your name out there, you’ll see it’s very effective. Along with making people aware of who you are, media attention gives you credibility that you just can’t buy.
That’s what I would call a happy beginning!
Get it? :-)
Marsha Friedman launched EMS Incorporated in 1990. Her firm represents corporations and experts in a wide array of fields such as business, health, food, lifestyle, politics, finance, law, sports and entertainment. She consults individuals and businesses on a daily basis and is frequently asked to speak at conferences about how to harness the power of publicity. Outside of the office, she is also the founder of a non-profit organization called the Cherish the Children Foundation. In 1996 the White House recognized her charity which sets out to raise awareness of the plight of underprivileged and foster children.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Terminator's Book Platform

Regardless of how you feel about action movie star and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, authors could take a few cues from the Terminator. 

Arnold has always been a shrewd businessman.  He earned his degree in business administration from the University of Wisconsin-Superior and put that knowledge to use in the 1970s, starting his own mail-order business.  He was a millionaire by the age of 30, long before he became a Hollywood actor.  That kind of money was unheard of in the world in the competitive bodybuilding at the time. 

Now he is putting his marketing sense to work again, on a new book that is due to be released in October.  Sure, Arnold is a celebrity, but that doesn't mean bestselling book sales are guaranteed.  That is why he is working on building the platform for his book early by getting potential readers involved in the production process for his book and by connecting to them through social media. 

Last month, Arnold and his publisher released the book cover and a synopsis of the book.  It was blasted out to Arnold's 2.4 million Twitter followers. 

The back cover photo is being left up to his Facebook followers, who will get to vote on which photo should be used.  He also launched a Pinterest page to solicit photo suggestions. 

I have mentioned previously in this blog that marketing a book should begin as early as possible, to help build buzz and word of mouth.  Getting readers involved in picking a book cover or an author photo is a great way of doing that.  Of course, you may not have 2.4 million Twitter followers, but authors should work on building a presence on social media the moment they decide to become an author, share the production process with readers, maybe even a sample excerpt or two and get them excited about the book. Do this successfully, and by the time the book is released you'll have an audience eagerly waiting to buy a copy. 


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Guest Post: Sell More Books Using Center of Influence Marketing

 Today's guest post is courtesy of Lynn Baber, author of Amazing Grays, Amazing Grace and He Came Looking For Me.  You can find out more about Lynn at   

Survey says…… most books are discovered through Center of Influence or Relationship Marketing.
AllBusiness is Personal
After my first business book was published in 1989 I started shopping a second title, All Business is Personal. Simon and Schuster was reviewing the proposal when I had an abrupt career change and left the board room for the barn. End of project.
The simple truth I hoped to communicate in All Business is Personal is that effective marketing is to individuals and not statistically defined groups. Whether the buying decision is for a stick of gum or a fleet of company cars, there will be some one who will approve the purchase order. That one person is the focus of successful marketing.  The simple truth of relational marketing has not changed one iota since 1989.
Authors quickly learn that selling a book is far more difficult than writing a book. Once upon a time I was a business consultant with an emphasis in marketing. Center of Influence (COI), or relationship marketing is an old concept that is becoming more and more relevant in the online world we live in.

Center of Influence Marketing

Simply put, COI is the process of identifying and targeting the people whom others look to for information, answers, and opinions. We live in a tribal society of sorts, where folks listen to the same music their friends do, read the same books as their peers, and share similar belief systems and spiritual leaders.
If you haven’t noticed the increase in tattoos you must be legally blind. Gender, age, and economic status appear to be irrelevant. Tattoos are the in thing. Why? Because the folks a man, woman, boy, or girl hang with or wish to emulate have tattoos. Skin art isn’t an expression of individuality but the desire to join the “tribe.

Market Your Book to Real People Not a Nameless Faceless Audience

The mechanism of Center of Influence marketing is simple. This is the place where I remind you that ‘simple’ is not synonymous with ‘easy.’
  • List the characteristics of one person who would most benefit from your book. Describe them in the most detail possible as if they were the protagonist in your new novel.
  • Research to determine who that one person (by name or description) would most likely look to for advice, information, and truth. Who would they trust? Which tribe do they belong to or aspire to?
  • Make a list of the folks (real people now) who are at the center of tribal influence.
  • Personally approach those people with an introduction, the offer of a review copy of your book, a meeting, or some type of further contact to at least get on their radar. If you don’t know the person establish a beginning and make it personal.

What Not to Do When Contacting Center of Influence Prospects

I love you and want to marry you. I want to raise children with you and grow old together.” – a note addressed to Occupant
Relationship marketing using generic terms and targeting is just as obvious and doomed to fail as a pledge of lifetime fidelity to Occupant. Social media only works when it is personal.
  • Don’t be impersonal. Learn about your COI target and his or her “tribe.” Do enough research to know why others look to them. Make your approach personal and relevant.
  • DO NOT send out a blanket email or letter to “Dear Center of Influence”
  • All Business if Personal. Ignore this truth you may as well quit now and use your books as fuel for toasting marshmallows. You must earn the opportunity to get a hearing with each Center of Influence unless you already have an established relationship.
The next step will determine the success of your book. Use your new relationship with each COI leader to get a review, speaking opportunity, or invitation to do an article for their blog, newsletter, or other media or group outlet. If the COI loves your book make it easy for them to share that discovery with the members of their tribe. If a COI does not love your book, ask why. Feedback from a tribal leader is a priceless gift for the purpose of refining your marketing plan.
Creativity is essential to writing a great book and equally necessary to market it successfully. If you have any questions please ask. I would be pleased to help you in any way I can.
Now go out there and find the movers and shakers who can carry your message to their tribes!
Click on the first two words of this post to visit the Goodreads Survey details. If you want more, check out this link as well

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Readers, Fans, and Evangelists

Today's guest post is courtesy of  Jim Miller.  Jim does a great job of helping authors find their target audience, and he also writes his own blog at

Authors talk and think all the time about who is reading their books, but how often do you think about who talks about your book and who gets others to read it?

Gaining readers is only the first step of building an audience. A reader is merely someone who read your book whether they loved it, hated it, or were indifferent. If all you’re building is readers, you’re doing all the work yourself, one reader at a time. You can have success this way, but you can have more success paying attention to the other types of people you’re looking for.

Fans are people who love your book and talk about it. Evangelists are people who get others to buy it. Building up these segments of your audience is far more important than building readers alone. These people will be the army you need to grow your brand.

So how do you build fans and evangelists?

• The first step is to provide a place for fans to gather. If you don’t have a blog, start one. If you don’t know what one is, you’re reading one. The internet has no lack of articles to learn how to blog well, but here is a good place to start.

• Use your website and/or blog to let people know more about you and your message. If you’re a fiction author, you can write short stories or back stories about the characters in your book and post them here. Do whatever you can think of to give more to people who want more. Think about the things you like to read about famous people you admire and provide these things.

• Encourage anyone who comes to the site to post comments and questions, and respond to them. Readers think every author is famous, and the more they like your book, the giddier they’ll get about hearing from you. When they’re excited about hearing from you, they’ll tell all their friends that an author replied to their comment. They may post a link to your blog or website on facebook or on their own blog. You can encourage this by giving blanket permission to repost your posts if they give you credit, like I did with the tips on blogging from Ford Saeks. (If you haven’t clicked that link yet, it’s right here.)

• Wherever you go to speak or sign books, tell people about your blog and/or website, and encourage them to connect with you there. If you use projection slides with your presentation, put your blog or weblink on the last slide, and make sure it stays onscreen while you are taking questions from the audience.

• Always, always, always ask people to tell others. Obviously, I’m not talking about accosting strangers and asking them to tell people about your book. That would be creepy. However, whenever someone says something nice about your book, your knee-jerk response should be, “Thank you so much. Please tell everyone you know about the book. We’re trying to build an audience!”

• This is particularly true when people ask you when your next book is coming out. It is not uncommon for new authors to have 5 or 6 people ask this question and then try to put pressure on me to make their 2nd book happen. I can’t go to our acquisitions editors and say, “6 people have asked when the next book is coming out.” Their first question will be, “How many books have they sold?” If someone asks you when your next book is coming out, say, “As soon as we sell enough copies of the first one, so tell all your friends to buy it.” Some people will. Those are your evangelists.

• Reward your fans and evangelists in ways that are small to you but big to them. This could be anything from sending them a handful of bookmarks to naming a character after them in your next book. Some authors even use their blogs to workshop their future books. They share ideas or setting and plot points on their blog and work the feedback they like best into their writing. Be creative.

The crazy thing is that fans and evangelists don’t even have to be readers, necessarily. I’m a fan of Craig Groeschel, pastor of I interviewed him (skeptically, I might add) when I was the editor of a magazine that showed how churches use technology in worship. The more I heard his heart and heard his passion repeated through my interviews with the rest of his staff, the more I came to appreciate him. I’ve never read his book Chazown (that’s the Hebrew word for “vision”), but I like it because I’ve seen his God-given vision in action.

Even stranger, I’m an evangelist for Bill Hybels, another author who is pastor of Willow Creek Church. When I was 17, my dad gave me one of his books, and for 25 years now, I’ve called it “the best book I’ve never read.” The book is called Who You Are When No One Is Looking. The title alone convicted me and changed the way I look at the world. It has shaped my character again and again over the past 25 years, and I’ve told many, many people to buy the book. If you’ve never considered this issue or known who you should be when no one is looking, go buy the book and read it.

If you’ve done anything at all to build your audience, you have some fans and evangelists. Connect to them and watch how much faster your audience grows.

Comment below: What are some of the ways you’ve created fans and evangelists?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Reader mail: Niche Marketing Success Story

Today's post is an email I received from an author in response to Mark Mingle's guest post:  Are We Having Fun Yet?  Lisa Y. Potocar is the author of "Sweet Glory."  Lisa's email is a great example of why authors must be intimately involved in promoting their book, and how targeting a book's niche audience can lead to success...and a lot of fun along the way! - Terry

Hi, Terry!

In reply to your blog today, “Are We Having Fun Yet?” I’m having a BALL!!!! Just to keep you in the loop, I’ve had at least 15 events since my novel’s release on January 31, 2012, and I’ve sold a ton of books out of my own stash—YAY! I’m having HUGE success with the public libraries and their book clubs and historical societies. And my greatest audience is adults versus young adults, for which my story is aimed.  

I’ve been hopping on every opportunity that comes my way, including a radio interview, a writing presentation for 4th through 6th graders (this I did free of charge and it was a HUGE success), and two blog interviews. This past Monday night I presented to a local historical society, and the board members were thrilled when I signed back over to them the $50.00 honorarium to help them preserve their building.

I’ve been bringing Billy Bear (3 feet in stature) dressed in full cavalry garb and some Civil War bunting with me everywhere I go—Billy alone attracts great attention, but his offer to answer a question for a free bookmark is adding to bringing the crowds. And everyone has been rewarding my passion for my subject and enthusiasm to present it with a purchase or two—sometimes three—once even five by the same person.

I have numerous contacts to make that have arisen from my various events, such as the Capital District Civil War Round Table, a Civil War reenactment and encampment event in Windham, NY, Carnegie Hall in Pittsburgh, PA, numerous public libraries, another blog interview, etc., etc. I’ll keep you posted!

So….you be the judge….am I having fun yet? I hope you’re having fun too!

Lisa Potocar, Sweet Glory


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Guest Post: Are We Having Fun Yet?

Today's guest post comes courtesy of Mark Mingle. - Terry

When it comes to selling books, something is wrong if you are not having fun. Very wrong.

Think about it. You have taken your book from an idea, to a manuscript, now to a published work. No one knows it inside and out like you do, and no one will be more passionate about sharing your message than you will.

Doing that should be fun, just like it's fun to show off your new car, your new baby, or your new home. I'm not talking about bragging and being obnoxious, but about genuinely being excited and passing along that enthusiasm. Remember, enthusiasm can be contagious, and nothing is better for a book than that kind of organic, grassroots excitement.

Not all phases will be fun, and there will likely be failures along the way. That's life, and nothing that is worth anything in life comes easy. Publishing a book is not for the weak at heart. You will face rejection, frustration, and trouble. That's par for the course and shouldn't discourage you. Resistance on the path to success makes you stronger, and as an author, a huge part of the process is finding out what works - and what doesn't - for you and your book. That takes time, and it is done by trial and error. But breaking through after hard work can be extremely rewarding.

Once you find what does work, replicate it to death. Have fun with it, be a blessing to others, and find a way to help people by using your book. Whether it is fund-raising, taking your children's book to schools and seeing the kids' faces light up, or challenging someone with exactly what they need from your book, these opportunities can be fun and provide a terrific outlet for spreading the word.

If doing this has become painful and is no longer fun, it's time to re-evaluate what you are pursuing. There are always new directions and possibilities to pursue. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Guest Post: Sell Books With a Book Contest

Sell Books With a Book Contest

By Sandra Beckwith

Do you want people in your social networks talking about your new book? Host a book contest! With the right prizes, this promotional tactic can generate book sales, blog subscribers, Twitter followers, or Facebook fans (or all of the above).
Book contests are easy to implement and inexpensive, and they offer wonderful opportunities for you to connect with your readers and those who should become your readers. They also give your friends and fans an opportunity to "introduce" you to their networks.

Here are a few guidelines to get you started:

Decide what you want to accomplish. The contest goal is important because it helps you structure the contest and establish rules. When Barbara Techel hosted a recent contest to promote "Class Act: Sell More Books Through School and Library Author Appearances," she wanted people to buy the book, but she also wanted to generate more authors as Twitter followers because they're the book's target audience. Other common contest goals include increasing the number of blog subscribers and Facebook fans or generating pre-publication orders.

Be creative. Host a contest before publication to help select your cover design or to name a character in the book.

Don't require a purchase. It's against the law.

Determine your prize. Give away five copies of your book; offer the books of other people (get free shipping worldwide at when you're working to generate more followers, subscribers, or fans; or use other merchandise as prizes. Just make sure your prizes are appropriate for your target audience. Techel attracted authors by offering prizes donated by businesses that help authors market their books.

Set a time frame. Most book marketers agree that seven to 10 days gives you enough time to build momentum and get action.

Establish rules. How do people enter? How do they win? If entries are judged, be sure to explain how that happens. To generate more Twitter followers, Techel asked people to follow her on Twitter and retweet a specific tweet posted on her contest website page.

Encourage people to share contest information - and make it easy for them to do so. Most of us are willing to help you get the word out - we just need to be reminded to do it and sometimes instructed how.

Be organized. No matter what system you use, make sure you've got a way to track entries. For example, if you're running a Twitter contest that requires people to follow you and retweet the specific contest phrase, include a unique contest hashtag. It will make it easier for you to track and gather entries. In situations where the winner is selected at random, use It's easier than doing it yourself and nobody can challenge the outcome as biased.

Announce the winners. This helps extend the life of the contest and generate even more awareness.
Match the right prize with your audience's interests, and you could have the formula for significant viral exposure.

Sandra Beckwith is a former national award-winning publicist who now teaches authors how to be their own book publicists. Get free tips and subscribe to her free "Build Book Buzz" e-zine at

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Friday, February 24, 2012

8 Ways to Use Twitter to Grow Your Business

8 Ways to Use Twitter to Grow Your Business

By Janis D. Pettit

Are you tweeting? If so you may be wondering if it's really paying you back for the time and effort you put into it. I must say I wondered the same thing when I started but now I'm grateful I stuck with it, because it's become an indispensable business building tool.

Just like anything else in your business if you have a clear strategy you'll get better results. Just randomly tweeting doesn't accomplish much and you'll find followers clicking the un-follow button. Instead figure out how you want to use this versatile tool and what type of results you're hoping to get.

8 ways
1. Build relationships

o Use tools like tweetdeck (it's free) that help you divide followers into groups or categories so you can interact with the people with whom you really want to form relationships.

o Re-tweet the interesting tweets of people you respect and follow

o Reply to their requests or relevant tweets

o Mix in some personal information that's fun so you show people you're human and have a life. This does not mean posting what you had for lunch!

2. Build your expert status

o Post links to valuable information, blog posts, videos, web pages. Follow leaders in your industry who have many more followers.

o Respond to their posts and build a relationship with them. Each time your tweet appears in their twitter stream, their followers see you.

o Tweet live from events where you speak or that you attend and let people know what's happening in real time.

o Tell your followers about your success with clients

o Build relationships with subscribers who are not yet clients

3. Find joint venture partners

Follow people who have the type of clients you want or who offer products you think your subscribers and clients would buy. Build relationships with those people and approach them about a joint venture if it would be a win-win situation

4. Educate about your products or services

Notice I said educate, not sell. You can gently tell your followers about upcoming offers or send them to a preview video or blog post, but absolutely no heavy sales language. Offering your followers special time-sensitive deals for them only is a great approach.

5. Surveys-find out what people want

6. Customer support or questions

You can answer customer questions or let them contact you through Twitter if they have a problem and need help

7. Press releases

Let followers know when something exciting happens at your company by tweeting about it and linking them to a press release

8. Strengthen relationships with current clients and subscribers.

Brag about your best clients. Re-tweet what they have to say and support their efforts on Twitter as much as possible.

Of course there are even more ways to use Twitter. It's also important to set up your Twitter feed to be imported onto your Facebook wall or fan page, as well as to Linked In. That way Twitter becomes command central for much of your social networking which saves you a lot of time.

Look at the list above and decide how you could best use Twitter to generate traffic to your website or blog and build lasting, loyal fans, and new valuable relationships.

Janis Pettit is a small business coach and marketing expert who has owned successful small businesses for 21 years and has coached hundreds of small and solo business owners, showing them how to dramatically increase profits and build wealth. She is co-author of 136 Ways to Market Your Small or Solo Business and creator of numerous business marketing home-study courses and coaching programs. Get her free e-book, 12 Secrets to Building a Profitable Small or Solo Business, plus access to business building audios at

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Monday, February 20, 2012

4 Simple Steps to Creating a Vanity URL for Your Amazon Author Central Page

Amazon now allows authors to create a "vanity URL" or personalized web address that points to their Author Central page on Amazon.

Author Central is a great place to feature your bio, videos, and latest tweets and blog posts. It's especially important for authors with more than one title for sale on Amazon, because it shows a summary of all of your books.

My vanity URL looks like this:

Here are four simple steps to creating your own Amazon Author Central vanity URL:

1. Login to your Amazon Author Central account. If you don't already have an Author Central account, you can create one at this same page:

2. Click on the Profile tab.

3. Click on the Add Link button at the top right of the page, next to Author Page URL.

4. Enter your preferred URL name and click Save. Most authors will probably use their author name in the URL, but give it some consideration first, because you can't change it once it's assigned.

Learn more about optimizing your presence on Amazon in my how-to guide, How to Sell More Books on Amazon.

About the Author
Dana Lynn Smith, The Savvy Book Marketer, helps authors and indie publishers learn how to sell more books through her how-to guides, blog, newsletter, and private coaching. For more book promotion tips, get Dana's free ebook at 


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Top 10 Tips for Successful Public Speaking

Top 10 Tips for Successful Public Speaking

Top 10 Tips for Successful Public Speaking

By Julie Kelly

Did you know that many people fear public speaking more than death? This is a very common fear and one that needs to be addressed if you are to be a successful career woman. It takes time, exposure and practice to become well versed in something new, and public speaking is no different.

Most managers and executives have to give public presentations at some stage in their career and it is a very good skill to have in your bag of tricks!

Being nervous is normal, even Madonna still gets butterflies before getting on stage, but it is a matter of focusing once you are in front of an audience.

Here are my tips for giving a great presentation.

1. Know your topic. Knowing your topic inside out and back to front is absolutely critical to giving a confident, successful presentation. As they say, knowledge is power, and the more you know, the more empowered you will feel. Research the topic/subject and ensure you are familiar with and understand the content. Once you have researched the topic, create your presentation in a logical order to capture the audience's attention and maintain it throughout. Giving presentations is about information exchange, not a rehearsed verbatim. Use conversational language, a little humor if relevant and personal opinions or experiences.

2. Know your audience. Knowing who will be listening to your presentation is very important, as you need to tailor it to the needs of the audience. Understanding the culture of those listening will help you choose appropriate language, monitor the inflections in your voice, control your body language and tailor your overall delivery.

3. Have an expert mindset. You have been asked to present on a topic and that makes you an expert. The fact that you know more about a particular topic and are informing others about it means you need to own it. Be confident in the fact that you have been asked to talk in front of an audience on a topic that you are familiar with. It is a great way to learn and develop a new skill.

4. Familiarize yourself with the room. I personally love the "dry run". I need to know where I am going to talk, what the room looks like, what the sound system sounds like and to run through my presentation to ensure there are no technical glitches. Another quote I love is, "People don't plan to fail, they fail to plan!" Know the room and what would work best in regard to working the space.

5. Practice. Once your presentation is complete, you need to start practicing it aloud in a private place. Practice it over and over until it sounds right and you are confident with the delivery. You can go the extra step and record yourself and review the presentation as an audience member. Refine and edit the presentation, as sometimes what seems good on paper does not translate well verbally. Refine and keep practicing until you feel like you have nailed it. This will boost your confidence tremendously.

6. Visualization. If you can see it, you can achieve it! I'm a huge believer in this concept. Visualization is a powerful tool that allows your subconscious mind to believe your thoughts and imaginations. So if you can see and hear yourself giving the presentation of a lifetime, you are on the road to success. Believe in yourself.

7. Work the room. Knowing your audience and topic go hand-in-hand with working the room. Giving presentations is not only about the words spoken but the presence you have whilst presenting. It is always better to stand rather than sit. Make good eye contact with the audience and move around the room so that each section feels like you are intimately talking to them.

8. Breathe. Remember to breathe when you are giving a presentation. Pause when you speak and keep composed.

9. Do not read from notes. Reading from notes can insinuate a lack of confidence and/or knowledge on the topic of presentation. It is acceptable to glance at notes throughout your presentation but be mindful not to read from them continuously.

10. Speak with conviction and confidence. Speaking with passion and conviction captures an audience. Believing in what you are saying is key to nailing a presentation. Confidence is gained through experience but conviction comes from believing in yourself and your words. Be true to yourself and speak to your audience in a manner that makes them want to listen.

At the conclusion of your presentation, thank your audience and answer any questions they may have. Learn from each experience, as some will go better than others. Soon you will find a method that works for you. Fine-tune it with each presentation and soon enough, public speaking will become second nature to you.
Remember practice makes perfect!

I personally get the most satisfaction when I give career-coaching presentations to a room full of people, because I believe in what I am teaching and I believe in myself. Sharing your knowledge is extremely gratifying. Julie Kelly, the Founder and voice behind Her Career Advice, is a very successful, professional woman, who helps other women gain confidence, skills and strategies to master the workforce through her books, blog and career coaching. Her Career Advice is an online resource aimed at empowering and educating women on how to have successful careers and ultimately fulfilling lives.

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Book Signings of the Rich and Famous

Every new author has an expectation of their book signing events.  It usually goes something like this:  they will be held in a major bookstore, with huge banners on display and a line of people out the door.  The bookstore will have ordered hundreds of copies of the book and have them on display in the front of the store where they can be seen as soon as customers walk in the front door.

In reality, a new author's first few book signings may be held in a small, local independent bookstore, or maybe even a coffee shop.  They'll bring their own books to resell.  They have to hang their own posters to promote the event, and if they don't promote the event ahead of time they may sell only a handful of books, or none at all. 

Every author has to start somewhere, and that is not always in a major chain bookstore. With the current state of the economy, many bookstores are only doing events for well-known authors with a track record of sales, reducing the number of book signing events they host, or not hosting book signings at all.  The number of bookstores is also declining, most notably with Borders going out of business last year.

 Successful, celebrity authors have also taken note, and you are just as likely to see them doing a book signing at a  library as you are to see them in a large bookstore.  Here is a sampling of events featuring some well-known authors: 

Mary Higgins Clark makes it a point of directly reaching her readers by doing book signing events at Wegmans grocery stores. 

Basketball superstar Kareem Abdul Jabbar is conducting a book signing during an event at All Saints Church in Pasadena, CA (pictured above).

Olympic skating star Kristi Yamaguchi is reaching her book's niche audience by doing a book signing event at an ice skating center.

Olympic bicyclist Lance Armstrong signed 750 books in one hour during an event at a bicycle shop.  

Former TV talk show host Regis Philbin did a book signing event at the Coral Gables Congregational Church.

Frank Calabrese Jr, author of the New York Times Bestseller "Operation: Family Secrets How a Mobster’s Son & The FBI Brought Down the Murderous Chicago Family" did a book signing event at Bella Luna Cafe, an Italian restaurant in Chicago.

Kristiana Gregory, bestselling author of the popular "Cabin Creek Mysteries" did a book signing event at Rembrandt's Coffee House in Eagle, ID.  In that neck of the woods she's also a local author. 

Of course, celebrity authors also do plenty of book signing events at bookstores, but the point is they aren't limiting themselves only to bookstores.  They are identifying the niche market for their books and doing book signing events at places where they are likely to find that audience. 

I have worked with authors who have sold hundreds of books at a single event, and the events were not held in bookstores.  Bookstores should be a part of every author's promotional plan, but they shouldn't be the only part of their promotional plan.  Think outside the bookstore now and then, and you may be surprised with the results! 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Guest Post: Get Out There!

This article is primarily aimed at women starting their own businesses, but I think there are a lot of great points here that would be very useful to authors.  Networking is crucial to the success of any business venture.  As I always say, "your book is your business." - Terry
Get Out There!

Get Out There!

By Pat Mussieux

Are you hiding behind your computer and thinking you can grow your business that way? Is that part of your comfort zone because you don't really know where to go and what to do when you get there - when it comes to marketing your products and services?

I am always telling my clients that they need to get 'out there'. Easily said, I know. What I have learned, though, is that they just don't know where and how. Here are some key tips for you - so you can develop the KLT fact (know, like and trust). People do business with people they know, like and trust.

Get a business card and carry them with you at all times. It is unbelievable to me how many women entrepreneurs I meet, out and about, who don't have a business card with them. Come on! Get a professional business card - and be sure to use the 'real estate' on the back of it, too - and have them with you at all times - in the car, in your purse - in all places. It is 'client attractive' to make it easy for people to connect with you.

Create, and send, a weekly ezine (newsletter) and be consistent about it - You know, by now, that my ezine comes out every Thursday at 2:00 p.m. EST - and when it doesn't, I get e-mails from people asking if they have been dropped from my list because they didn't get it on any one occasion. People come to expect it - especially because there is always good, solid content which is helpful to them in growing their business and become a wealthy woman leader. They come to know me and what I have to offer. What about you?

Create a 'free gift' and have it available on your website. One way to 'get out there' and get known, is to be driving traffic to your website on a regular basis - through your business card, your ezine, a public speaking event, a radio interview, etc. Get people to your website so you can grow your list - and be sure to offer a free gift (a report, a CD, etc.) that has great content for your prospects.

Get booked for interviews on radio and TV. Many, many people listen to blog talk radio these days - there is a lot to learn from the various experts who are being interviewed. You need to be one of them. Just google 'blog talk radio' - find the category that fits with the work you do - listen to a few of the shows to ensure you have synergy with the host and determine that you can bring value to that person's show - and make contact. Get talking!

Public Speaking. We've talked about this before - as an entrepreneur who wants to grow their business and make more money, you've got to get out on various stages - to create awareness about who you are and what you have to offer. Create a signature speech, create a list of the stages you want to be on - and get going.
Volunteer. I totally believe in the universal principle of giving back - volunteer your time or services to an organization that aligns with your values. As a new entrepreneur, don't 'sign up for life' - but, rather, manage your time and energy so that you can have a 'presence', give something of value, and still have plenty of time to be working 'on' your business.

Pick up the phone! Yup - that's what I said: pick up the phone! I often surprise clients, on a Friday afternoon, when I randomly choose a name and call them just to chat and see how they are doing. Or I call someone with whom I have developed an e-mail or social media relationship, and make arrangements for a coffee date - taking it to the next level. Get out there.


There are many ways to grow your business, whether you are a 'start up' or a seasoned entrepreneur, but it does mean stepping out and away from your computer. I totally believe in the personal touch and 'getting to know' people. You've got to get out there - and in a big way.

Pat Mussieux is fast becoming regarded as a highly valued Canadian mentor for women entrepreneurs taking her own business from zero to a multiple 6-figure home-based business in less than 4 years. Much of her success can be attributed to her expertise in marketing, mindset and money! Pat Mussieux is a business coach, author, speaker and radio host. You can reach her at

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Monday, January 16, 2012

What Publishing Can Learn from Netflix

Nearly every day, I receive an emails from publishing industry newsletters touting the surging sales of ebooks, and all but writing the obituary for the printed book.  The newsletters contain news of the latest independent bookstore to close, along with a quote about how bookstores are having a hard time competing with the likes of Kindle. 

This is true, to a point.  The Apple ITunes store made it easier than ever to purchase music, enabling people to download their favorite songs, rather than making the drive to their local music store.  As a result, the local music stores are gone, but does that mean you can no longer buy CDs?  No. 

Devices like Kindle and Nook make it easier to purchase books, and the number of ebooks being sold has definitely exploded.  I think the means of selling paper books will definitely change, but I don't think it will go away altogether, just like CDs haven't gone away altogether despite the fact that nearly everyone seems to own an IPod or listens to music on their smartphone.  For a good example of the reason why, look no further than Netflix.

I subscribe to Netflix.  Instead of running to the corner video store, which we still have here in Mustang, I can just log-in to my computer and within a couple of minutes I'm watching the movie of my choice at home.  My family also opted to receive DVDs in the mail from Netflix because some movies are only available on DVD through the service. 

Netflix announced last year that it would be dramatically boosting the price of its DVD rentals.  The reason for the increase is because Netflix wanted to move more subscribers to downloads and eventually phase out the DVDs. 

The reaction?  Subscribers went berserk.  More than one million people cancelled their Netflix subscriptions. 

It turns out people didn't want to give up their "dated" DVD service.  Despite industry predictions that DVDs will eventually go away, many people prefer to keep using their DVD players and Blu-Ray players rather than watch a move on a desktop computer, laptop or phone.   Netflix quickly backpedaled and reinstated the old policy on DVDs. 

Despite the major increase in sales of devices like Kindle and Nook, and the surging sales of ebooks, printed books aren't ever going to go away completely, unless for some reason all the trees die and we can no longer make paper.  Many people still prefer to read a printed book.  I have had people tell me they will NEVER buy an ereader or purchase an ebook.  They like to handle printed pages and be able to collect the hard copy volumes and keep them on a bookshelf in their home. 

And who uses ebooks the most?  You would think that it would be a technology used most by young people, but studies have shown most ebooks are purchased by middle-age people in their 40's and 50's.   Another survey indicates that most college students prefer their printed textbooks over ebook versions. 

I don't think ebooks are evil.  They give authors and publishers another product to sell.  Debating whether an ebook or printed book is better is like debating whether CDs or vinyl albums are better.  The end product is the same; the delivery method is different.  As always, the businesses that can adapt to change and (listening Netflix?) provide the customers with the products they want will be the ones that survive.  Those who can't, won't. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Book Marketing Snowball

I was recently speaking on the phone with a new author whose first book was just getting ready to go to print, explaining how book signings work, why authors do them, the importance of niche marketing, how distribution works, etc., when I got this question:

"Well, that's all well and good, but how do we get my book into Walmart?  They would sell a million copies of my book!"

I then explained that marketing a book is like rolling a snowball down a hill.  When it first starts rolling, it is a small snowball.   As it continues to roll down the hill, it gradually gets larger and larger.  By the time it reaches the bottom of the hill, it is significantly bigger than it was when it started. 

When a new, unknown author first becomes published, their book is the small snowball.  It may go unnoticed at first, but with persistent promotion it will continue to grow.  It may not grow as fast as the author wants it to, but in order to keep the sales and exposure going, the author and publisher must continue to keep pushing it down the hill.  If the author stops promoting their work, what happens?  The snowball isn't going to get any larger, and neither will the book sales. 

Many authors want to begin at the top of the hill with the big snowball, but they only have a big snowball if they have a large platform from which to launch their book.  Is the author famous?  Are they well-known in their state, region or even across the country?  Do they have a large following in their life or profession?  If not, then they are starting with a small snowball. 

You may have heard of the book "The Girls With the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson.  It's a book that has been made into a movie, which is now playing in theaters.  The book wasn't published until after the author had died, and it was released in Sweden, Larsson's home country.  Nobody outside of Sweden had heard of Larsson prior to his book being published, but it won an award and was well-received in his home country.  A publisher in Great Britain took a chance on the book and translated it into English, renaming it from the original title, "Men Who Hate Women" to "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo."  The book didn't sell. 

The British publisher resorted to giving away copies; leaving them in public places like bus stops where people would find and read them.  Like a snowball, word of mouth grew until book sales picked up and "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" became a success.  Eight years after it was published, the book is now a Hollywood movie. 

That is an extreme example of a small snowball rolling down the hill and becoming something very big.  Not every author will have this kind of success, but the journey will almost always begin with a small snowball.  If you keep pushing it, it will become something bigger.  You just have to keep pushing. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Guest Post: Personality and Book Selling

It is said personality counts. And it does as well on the book front.

Whether at a bookstore, art or craft fair or promoting your book on Facebook are you not drawing people in with your personality? Without one-to-one contact, would you have made that sale?

I doubt it. Even your family or friends bought your book because they knew you. Keep in mind whether selling your wares online or in more intimate settings. People are interested in you and what you have to offer.

My book, Seasons of the Soul, relates to autistic parents, those struggling with issues or those interested in the topic. With book in hand, I approach customers providing them a short synopsis of my uplifting book. I peak their curiosity with a story in Seasons of the Soul where my youngest autistic son runs out of the plane while we waited for takeoff, causing the flight’s delay. Andrew’s anxiety got the better of him. From there, I tell the potential buyer about my book and how it includes personal accounts about my two different autistic sons as well as faith stories. “If interested, visit my table. I will be here from ...” I conclude.

So what did I do there? Raised their interest yet not pressured them. Again, personality talks and a pressure-cooker salesman dooms a sale. 

Second, smile. Yes, it is not easy but think of it this way. A smile may lighten the heavy load you are carrying. A friend of mine works in retail. When customer lines are long or they complain, the clerks are told to smile. That goes even when the associates’ feet hurt from standing. Smile. Remember a smile masks the feet aches and possibly the stinky smell reaching your nostrils.

Third, eye contact. You cannot expect customers to purchase something from you if you are looking at the floor. Self-confidence in your abilities - even when you doubt your talents at times - does wonders. 

Did you know people also can pick this up online? “I hope readers will like this,” you post. What this says is you are not confident about yourself. Turn that phrase into: “I know you will love this.” You are not bragging. You are showing c o n f i d e n c e. Underneath you may wonder if you are overestimating your abilities but if you do not believe in yourself, how can you expect others to do the same?

Four, attractiveness. How you portray yourself online to the arrangement of your table to your own appearance makes a distinct impression. 

Thumbnail photos make your Facebook or Twitter posts. Some Facebook friends include photos where their hair is in disarray or you have little idea what is pictured. A reader needs to know, otherwise, they see your presence as unprofessional. 

If you are selling personally at an art or craft fair, make your table display simple but attractive. Show a book award (but do not exhibit everything you received), cover your table with a bright cloth and use a vertical backdrop behind you if outside winds are not a problem. 

Lastly, you are important. Make your appearance professional and clothing appropriate. I wear skirts or dresses often. I want the customer to see me as an author with stature and at some chamber of commerce events I wear my hat. I stand out and when I fail to wear one people ask, “Where’s your hat?” It is my trademark. What’s yours?

I look forward to your comments and may God richly bless you.

Janet Syas Nitsick is the author of "Seasons of the Soul," published by Tate Publishing.  Visit her blog at 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Ten Things All New Authors Should Know About Publishing

There are a lot of misconceptions about the publishing industry.  New authors publishing their first book usually have an idea of how things "should" work, but these are ideas that typically are rooted in how the publishing industry used to work, or are based upon things they may have read online that just aren't true.

With that in mind, I thought I would address the Top 10 things new authors should know about the publishing industry, and explain how things really work.  Hopefully, this will save you a lot of time, effort and frustration.

1.  Books are not automatically stocked by bookstores.  In 2010, more than 3 million ISBN numbers were assigned.  That means three million different book titles.  The average large bookstore stocks about 110,000 titles.   Not every title that is released is going to be stocked by a bookstore.

2.  Publishers don't control which books get stocked in bookstores.  Bookstores decide for themselves which books they will stock.   The publisher can't make them stock anything.  Publishers submit titles, make them available for distribution and in some cases pay for shelf space, but they do not decide which titles you see in a bookstore.

3.  Most books are not sold in bookstores.  Bookstores sell a lot of books, but most books are sold online or through retailers other than traditional bookstores.

4.  If your book doesn't have an ISBN or distribution, it's not going to get sold through a bookstore.  If you are looking for wide availability for your book, it has got to have the kind of distribution publishers can provide.  There are some titles that are the exception, but that is just what they are:  rare exceptions.

5.  Ebooks are not replacing printed books,  yet.   According to the last figures I saw, ebooks were about 12 percent of the book market. 

6.  Pricing your ebook at 99 cents doesn't mean you'll sell a million copies.  These gimmicky sales strategies work a handful of times.  By the time you have heard about it, it has been done and everyone else has gotten the same idea.  Only eight authors have sold more than a million copies for the Kindle on Amazon.  That's right.  Eight. 

7.  Low book prices don't necessarily translate to higher sales.  This past weekend I shopped at a bookstore that was going out of business.  Every book on the shelf was one dollar.  There were still many books on the shelf that had not sold, not even for a dollar.  If a book is too cheap, many readers wonder "what's wrong with it?"

8.  For the most part, selling books is a slow process.  Many authors expect to sell thousands of books the moment they reach their book's release date.  If nobody knows about your or your book before the release date, they aren't going to know on the release date, either.  It takes time to build your reputation as an author, and sales.  I bought a business book at the $1 sale I mentioned earlier, and after reading it, I thought "this is a pretty good book."  I checked the sales ranking on Amazon:  it was ranked in the 1 million-plus range, meaning it's not moving many copies through Amazon, if any. 

9.  The average book title in the U.S. sells about 200 copies.  More than 651 million books were sold in the U.S. in 2011, according to Nielsen bookscan.  If the 2010 numbers hold up and about 3 million titles were released, that means the average book title sold about 217 copies last year.  The number could be lower, because that 3 million titles figure is only taking into account new titles being released, not titles that were released in previous years that sold in 2011.  A book by a new unknown author is generally considered a success if it sells 5,000 or more copies, UNLESS it's a book released by a celebrity of some kind, then those numbers would be considered dismal.

10.  There is no magic formula for selling books.  I often hear from authors who ask me to tell them how to quickly sell thousands and thousands of books, or make their book a bestseller.  Here is the secret:  write good books, target your niche audience, and work really, really hard to make you and your book known.   You'll sell books, but there is no guarantee you'll become a bestselling author.

Of course, I have covered a lot of this information before in previous blog posts, but I thought it would be helpful to compile a Cliff's Notes version here that would address some common misconceptions.  You can have success as an author even if your book isn't in every bookstore in the country, or you aren't featured on a national TV or radio show.  The publisher I work for recently had a title on the NY Times Bestseller list for non-fiction, but I work with authors who have sold many more copies than that title has, although they have been at it for a longer period of time.  Remember, patience and persistence win the day!

Friday, January 6, 2012

An Important Marketing Tool: The Business Card

An Important Marketing Tool: The Business Card

An Important Marketing Tool: The Business Card

By CJ Heck

When it comes to marketing your book or your written work, don't overlook one very important tool - the business card. It's one of an author's most important tools, and they're not expensive, considering the many ways a business card can help you.

If you have a website, have your website URL printed on the back so they can visit your site. Have a picture of your book(s) on it, like a logo. I've sold a lot of books using my business card. There are so many uses for it and I'd like to share some of them with you. You can probably come up with even more ways.

** Remember, we're in the business of selling books:

* Bulletin Boards in stores and businesses you go to. Thumb-tack your card there with all of the others.

* While sitting in waiting rooms, on a plane, train, or bus talking to people. Hand them one of your cards.

* At gatherings, parties, class reunions (yuck), or while networking with your 'real' job - hand out both of your business cards.

* Tuck a few inside books you've sold for buyers to pass out to their friends.

* Ask it it's okay to leave a small stack of them on the counter at your local public libraries. Libraries love local authors! So do people who come to the library - they will take the cards, trust me.

* If your book is a children's book... anytime you see a mother with children, strike up a conversation, introduce yourself and hand her a card, or several to give to their friends.

* Again, for children's authors, any time you meet a teacher, a principal, school librarian, give them cards, too. You can also tell them you do school visits (if, in fact, you do them).

* Ask to leave a stack of business cards on the counter at the mechanic's where you take your car, at your hairdresser, barber, and even at the gym.

* Buy a small business card holder, have it full of cards and right beside you on the table at book signings, school visits, or other speaking engagements. Maybe someone won't buy the book that day, but when they take a business card, it's an excellent reminder of your book for later, when they're considering gifts.

Here's one of my personal favorites. I've sold a lot of books this way:

Restaurants - when the check comes after dinner, write "Thank You" on one of your cards, and add the waitress' or waiter's name if it's on the check. Then be sure and sign it and leave it, along with the tip. Many times, they've followed me out to the door asking more about the book, or wanting to shake my hand, or even ask for more cards for the rest of the staff.

* The above also applies to anyone giving you a good service - your barber, the clerk in a department store, but always write "Thank You" and sign your card. Remember, it's an autograph AND a reminder about your book and website. People love meeting authors - use this to your advantage, fellow writers. Have those business cards in your pocket and ready to pass out.

You'll sell more books, I promise.

CJ Heck is a published poet, writer, blogger and author of four books. For excerpts and more information, please visit: CJ is also a Vietnam War widow.

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Are You Prepared for Opportunity?

The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes.  ~Benjamin Disraeli

A couple of incidents this week reminded me of this quote, and led me to write this blog post.  Authors are always scrambling for opportunities to promote their books, but most expect it come when they want it to, not when it actually does arrive.   Many think that all of the major opportunities for their book will come as soon as their book's release date arrives, but I have rarely found that to be the case.  

Yesterday, I received a phone call from a producer of a nationally-known television news program.  I won't mention it specifically here, but let's just say you would definitely recognize it, and it reaches millions of people every week.  The producer wanted me to put them in touch with an author.  Great!  These are exactly the types of opportunities I love to pass along to my authors!  However, when I tried to reach the author, their phone number had been disconnected.  They had changed their number and not sent me the new one.  Luckily, I was able to reach them by email, but this could have been a huge missed opportunity for them.  This author's book was released 2 1/2 years ago. 

Another one of our staff received a phone call from Focus on the Family.  They wanted one of our authors to write an article for one of their publications.  The publication reaches millions of people, and of course, the author would be able to mention their book.    This author's book was released about 18 months ago.  

As you can see, some time has passed since the books' release dates until these authors were presented with career-boosting opportunities.  They didn't happen within a few weeks of the release date, as so many expect, but after both authors had put in time and effort to position themselves as experts in their fields.  

A successful writing career consists of writing good books and a series of opportunities that may come your way.  Those opportunities can come at any time, whether it is 2 months or two years after your book's release date.   Patience and persistence always win the day.  Will you be ready for opportunities that come your way?  

What are some of the opportunities you have been able to take advantage of?  How long did you work at promoting your book before these opportunities became available?  Please share in the Comments section of this post. 


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Guest Post: Which Books Sell Best At Which Times of Year

Which Books Sell Best at Which Times of Year

Which Books Sell Best at Which Times of Year

By Irene Watson

Promoting your book means taking advantage of any opportunity that will be relevant to it. In general, book sales are very low in winter, following the Christmas rush, but summer and the holidays are good times to sell books. Being aware of what events or holidays will help your book sales can help a publisher and author realize when to promote hard and when promoting may be wasting time and energy that could be put into working on the next book or preparing for a better promotion opportunity down the road. Here are some guidelines for determining the best times to promote your book.

Christmas: The Christmas season is probably the time when the most books are sold. However, the fall is also the time of year when the most books are published because everyone thinks his or her books will sell best at Christmas. Not true. No one is going to want to receive a diet book as a Christmas gift-that would be insulting-although the same person might buy the diet book for him- or herself at a different time of the year. Similarly, a self-help book telling you how to take charge of your life might be offensive to someone, making the person feel the gift is a sign of disapproval about how he is living his life. Books work as gifts when the book matches the receiver, being something the person is interested in, so obviously, someone who likes to cook might enjoy a cookbook, or a spiritual person might enjoy a collection of inspirational quotes and poems. Novels, children's books, history books, and even biographies always have a tendency to sell well as gifts at the holidays.

Summer: Summer is the next big season for book sales, and authors have more flexibility during this time than during the holiday season. Plenty of book festivals and art and craft shows exist where you can promote your title to the general public and usually find some people interested. Any topic has potential in the summer, as long as it's not related to winter, like a book about skiing or ice-climbing. Of course, the biggest sellers are often novels for beach and escapist reading on a vacation. Travel books also sell well in spring and summer for people preparing for vacation. And don't forget fitness books-people want to shed those extra pounds so they can look their best at the beach.

Other Holidays/Seasons: Depending on your book's subject, you can help to promote it at various holidays. Start planning two months or more before the holiday and start promoting at least a month before so as the holiday approaches, people become interested and excited. For example, any romance novel has potential for Valentine's Day, any book about Ireland or that has Irish characters in it could do well for St. Patrick's Day. Horror novels can be a hit around Halloween, and historical fiction or history or biographies about significant Americans could do well at the Fourth of July. Books on war and the military can be promoted in conjunction with Memorial Day and Veterans Day, or at anniversaries like Pearl Harbor or the landing at Normandy. And if your book is about hunting, there's deer season, bird season, bear season. There's also a school "season." Be creative about considering possibilities.

Anniversaries: Don't forget significant anniversaries of events-several books are in the works to be published in conjunction with the two hundredth anniversary of the War of 1812, and I imagine the same will be true in 2014 when World War I reaches its century mark. There are always various events being held on certain topics of interest that can help to sell your book. For example, if you write about automobiles, Henry Ford, or the automobile industry, the upcoming 100th anniversary of a specific model of a car, such as the Model T celebrated in 2008, could help you to promote your book.

Annual or Bi-Annual Events: Every time the Olympics comes around, books about athletes and especially Olympians can see higher sales. If you are a local author writing about the history of your area and the town holds an annual Founder's Day, you can promote your book at the festivities. The Fourth of July is a popular time for communities to celebrate their own history in conjunction so keep that in mind. It might also be an annual car race, an annual fishing derby, or an annual exhibit at the public library on mental illness that might be relevant to your book.

Festivals: No absence of festivals occurs, especially in summer. If you're writing history or something with an ethnic connection, seek out the local Greek, Scandinavian, Italian, Irish, or any number of other ethnic festivals. The lilac festival might help sell your gardening book; the yachting festival might help your book on shipwrecks. And don't forget about food! It might be the annual cheese festival or the annual seafood festival-anywhere people go to eat is going to bring a crowd-the festival-goers' minds might not be on books, but you'll catch a few people's eyes. When people are having fun and satisfying their appetites, they are in a good mood and more willing to part with their money.

National ____ Day/Month: You name it, there's a day or month for everything. It might be Black History Month that will help you, or Breast Cancer Awareness Month, or even National Pickle Day. Find out when these events take place, help to raise awareness of them, and promote your book in conjunction.
Whether it's a hometown event or an international conference, a national holiday or a historic anniversary, numerous possibilities exist for ways to tie your book into something people will get excited about. Plan ahead so you are ready to promote when the event occurs. It might be advertising on your website for the month in advance that on "Mother's Day only" you will have a "half-off" special. It might be booking yourself to be at holiday shows every weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It might be seeking out organizers for summer events in the winter so you can be prepared. With a little creative thinking, you can always tie your book into something else that already has people interested and excited so you can capitalize on their enthusiasm to help your book sales.

Irene Watson is the Managing Editor of Reader Views, where avid readers can find reviews of recently published books as well as read interviews with authors. Her team also provides author publicity and a variety of other services specific to writing and publishing books.

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