Book Marketing, Author Publicity, Branding

Sunday, February 28, 2010

When the World Doesn't Beat a Path to Your Door...

...make your own path!

At least twice in the past week, I have received a couple of emails from authors which read something like this:

"I'm really concerned because we have sent out all of these press releases to my local newspapers, and nobody has printed anything about my book. What's going on? Why aren't they helping me promote my book?"

"I have called my local bookstores several times, and they keep telling me they can't schedule a signing with me because ________. What's going on? Why aren't they helping me promote my book?"

I have received emails like this before, and in fact some authors have copied me on emails they have sent to their local newspapers and bookstores which basically browbeat them, asking why they aren't doing more to help a local author promote their book. Yikes.

Let's take a closer look at these two comments, and then discuss them in greater depth:

"I'm really concerned because we have sent out all of these press releases to my local newspapers and nobody has printed anything about my book. What's going on?"

The answer is: I don't know. The decision to run a press release is strictly up to the newspaper or media outlet you (or I) sent it to. They are under no obligation to use it just because you sent it to them. I used to work as a reporter, and I received dozens of press releases every single day. Some made the cut, but many others did not.

Here is a dirty little secret about book publicity: the simple act of releasing a book is not as much of a newsworthy event as it used to be. There were more than 560,000 books released in the U.S. last year, or more than 1,500 titles per day. Newspapers are not going to necessarily trip over themselves printing an article about the release of a title, unless they consider something about the book to be newsworthy. If you can somehow convince a media outlet that YOUR book is newsworthy, and give them a good reason why their readers would be interested in it, they may very well interview you and run a story. Media outlets are in the business of attracting readers, viewers or listeners, and if they think a story about you or your book will do that, they will contact you. You have to have a newsworthy angle, or something unique about you or your book that would warrant a story. Having an upcoming book signing event in the area does help.

"I have called my local bookstores several times, and they keep telling me they can't schedule a signing with me because ________."

Here is another dirty little secret about book publicity: bookstores don't like to say "no" to authors requesting book signing events, so they will sometimes come up with other reasons why they "can't" host an event for you: the book isn't in their ordering system, they are booked solid for the next six months, they have temporarily stopped doing events or the publisher hasn't done "something" that would allow the author to have a signing. Perhaps these are valid and honest reasons, but often it's just a "no." They may not want to be seen as the "bad guy" who turned down an author for an event, but basically that's what they are doing.

Repeatedly contacting a store after they have declined to host an event for you will not only not work, but it might actually affect your ability to get an event at other stores in the area. Bookstore employees and mangers do talk to each other, especially to other stores in their chain, so becoming known as a "difficult" author is not something you want to do. Not every bookstore is going to agree to host you for an event. Bookstore managers will agree to host an event if they think they can sell your book. Some bookstore managers dislike doing book signing events. Rejection is part of the business. I hear "no" from bookstores and other venues every day. It's not personal. If the answer is "no" just move on to another venue until you find one that says "yes." If you happen to have an article or story about your book coming out in the local media soon, that can very quickly change the mind of a bookstore manager. They want to get in on some of that free publicity. However, continuing to hound them for an event will not work, and will actually hurt you in the long run.

Remember, it's not the job of a media outlet or a bookstore to help you promote your book. They will do so if there is something in it for them, but not because they owe you anything, because really...they don't. They are doing you and your publisher a favor when they agree to run an article about your book, or when they agree to host you for a book signing event. This is why I always thank both profusely when they agree to do something for one of my authors.

Take rejection in stride and continue to reach out to your book's niche audience, and great things can happen, with or without the help of your local papers or bookstores.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Guest Post: Jessica Handler

Today's guest post is written by award-winning author Jessica Handler. - Terry

I’m not usually a paragon of discipline, but when it comes to getting the word out about Invisible Sisters, marketing isn’t discipline: it’s fun. I’m fortunate because the book’s publicist played a part early and has a hand in publicity even almost a year after my memoir came out. Even a great publicist will tell you that it’s up to the author to be responsible for her book’s success. My publicist has made the connections for Invisible Sisters inclusion in some wonderful book festivals (I’ll be at the Virginia Festival of the Book in March, and the Southern Kentucky Book Fair in April) and I’ve pitched and organized lectures, book talks, and speaking engagements at writers’ clubs and community organizations. I ask friends and family (and friends of family) if I can visit their book clubs. If they live far away, Skype is a great resource!

Before you market your book, you’ll want to understand your platform. Get a friend who’s read the book to help you figure this out. Make a list of the topics and issues in the book, even if it’s fiction. Is it about children, parents, travel, religion, social justice, hobbies, medicine…if you’re not sure, ask yourself who your ideal reader would be, and why. This will help you decide what groups in your community would particularly like to hear you speak on this topic. Learn to use social media, like Twitter and Facebook, and update your status or your tweets to build recognition about yourself and your book with groups and individuals who you think would be interested. For example, if your book is about parenting and there’s a parenting story in the news, tweet, update, and blog about the connection! Don’t have a blog? Start one; there are plenty of free and low-cost templates out there, and plenty of students, nieces, nephews, and friends who can get you set up if you’re hesitant to try it alone.

Word of mouth (and keyboard) is the best way to encourage readers to buy and enjoy your book. Ask friends to tell other friends how much they liked it. Send thank you notes (the old fashioned kind, written by hand) to book groups and event organizers after you participate, and make sure to include a business card or promotional postcard with info about your book and contact info for yourself.

Here’s the easiest tip of all. Be friendly, enthusiastic, and support writers in your community, and they’ll support you back. Attend readings at bookstores, community centers, libraries, and schools. Join their mailing lists. Get to know other people supporting writers in your community. Writing is a solitary occupation, but you’ve got a book out! Time to celebrate and spread the news!

About the Author:

Jessica Handler’s first book, Invisible Sisters: A Memoir (Public Affairs, 2009) is one of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s “Eight Great Southern Books in 2009” and Atlanta Magazine’s “Best Memoir of 2009.” Her nonfiction has appeared in, More Magazine, Southern Arts Journal, and Ars Medica. She received the 2009 Peter Taylor Nonfiction Fellowship for the Kenyon Review Writers’ Workshop, and a special mention for a 2008 Pushcart Prize. Handler teaches creative writing in Atlanta, Georgia.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Book Marketing is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Just out of curiosity, I checked Amazon recently to see which titles were the current bestselling titles offered by Tate Publishing (where I work as associate director of marketing). The Top 5 (at the time) were:

1. A Daughter's Worth: A Bible Study for Teenaged Girls
by Ava Sturgeon
2. What All Little Girls Need & What Most Women Never Had: Healthy, Loving Relationships with Their Fathers
by Joe Cucchiara
3. The Manufactured Identity
by Heath Sommer
4. Eden: The Knowledge of Good and Evil 666
by Dr. Joye Jeffries Pugh
5. How to Survive (and Perhaps Thrive) on a Teacher's Salary
by Danny Kofke

If you peruse these titles on Amazon, you'll notice that with one exception, they were released 3 to 5 years ago. That's right, 3 to 5 years ago. They aren't new releases which have raced up the Amazon sales rankings. The authors all have one thing in common: they have consistently and persistently worked to market and promote their titles.

As I have mentioned here before, too many authors give up on promoting their titles way too soon. In many cases, I have spoken to authors who are ready to throw in the towel 3-6 months after their book's release because the aren't seeing the kind of results or reception they thought they would get with their title. It has always amazed me that authors are so willing to give up on something in which they have invested so much time and effort.

Publishing is a competitive business. Last year, more than 560,000 titles were released in the U.S. That's more than 1,500 titles per day! What are you doing to make your title stand out?

I help market two of the titles in the Top 5, and I am somewhat familiar with a third title on the list. I know that these authors have done the following to raise the profile of their books:

They have made a number of media appearances. In the case of Dr. Pugh, she has scheduled numerous Internet radio programs for herself through BlogTalkRadio. This led to an appearance on the syndicated radio program Coast to Coast AM, and that led to her being invited to appear in a series on The History Channel called The Nostradamus Effect. She continues to do Internet radio interviews.

They are actively participating in author appearances and book signing events. These include speaking engagements and any other events where they might have an opportunity to discuss their book.

They have their own web site or blog. Most, if not all, of these authors have raised their online profile with their own web site, writing on their own blogs and participating on social media sites like Facebook or LinkedIn.

They didn't quit. Even three to five years after their books have been released, these authors continue to seek new opportunities to talk about and promote their books.

A couple of years ago, I remember seeing an ad in a publishing trade magazine in which the publisher was congratulating one of their children's book authors for selling 100,000 copies of their book. Wow, I thought, that's pretty good! Out of curiosity, I checked to see when the book had been released. I was shocked to discover it had been released almost 20 years ago. It had taken two decades for the author to sell 100,000 copies of their book, but they were still promoting it, and they were still selling copies of their book every year.

It is good to set goals for yourself each year about what you would like to accomplish with your book, but remember, it all doesn't have to happen within a couple of months of your book being released. Marketing a book is a marathon, not a sprint. Your book has no expiration date. It will have a shelf life for as long as you are willing to stand behind it.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Publicity is FREE: 15 Commandments for Getting in on the Ride

Publicity is FREE: 15 Commandments for Getting In on the Ride

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

A huge retailer once said that advertising works, we just don’t know how, why, or where it works best.

What we do know is that advertising’s less mysterious cousin, publicity, works even better. It is the more reliable relative because it is judged on its merit alone and carries the cachet of an editor’s approval. It also is surrounded by the ever-magic word “free.” The two are easily identified as kin.

These two often walk hand-in-hand and yet they can be incompatible. The editors of good media outlets will not allow the advertising department to influence them. Still, in an effort to be completely impartial they reserve the right to use advertiser’s stories editorially if they deem them newsworthy. That is why it is helpful to use advertising in a vehicle that plays to the audience you would like to see standing in line for your book. This paid-for exposure then becomes an entrée to the decision-makers. A contact in the advertising department may be willing to put a news release on the desk of one of his editors, maybe even encourage her to look at it. There are no contracts, but it does sometimes work. If you’re going to try this route, choose a “little pond”, a bookish brochure or an “arty” weekly so that the dollars you spend will be noticed.

Sometimes a magazine or newspaper will run a special promotion called advertorial. These are sections where you pay for an ad and then the newspaper assigns a reporter to cover the story you want told. The article carries some of the prestige of editorial copy—that is the general reader may assume the article has been chosen only on its merits because of its copycat character. The writer or editor you meet will can be approached when your have something exceptional.

Still, advertorial isn’t exactly FREE. If FREE sounds more like the fare that will serve your needs, carve out some time to do it yourself and follow these 15 commandments:

Educate yourself: Study other press releases. Read a book like Publicity Advice & How-To Handbook, by UCLA Marketing Instructor, Rolf Gompertz, a SPAN member. Order it by calling 818-980-3576. Join publicity oriented e-groups.

Read, read, read: Your newspaper. Your e-zines. Even your junk mail, a wonderful newsletter put out by the Small Publishers of North America ( and one called The Publicity Hound ( My daughter found a flier from the local library in the Sunday paper stuffed between grocery coupons. It mentioned a display done by a local merchant in the library window. My second book, HARKENING: A COLLECTION OF STORIES REMEMBERED, became a super model in their lobby and I became a seminar speaker for their author series. Rubbish (and that includes SPAM) can be the goose that laid the golden egg.

Keep an open mind for promotion ideas: Look at the different themes in your book. There are angles there you can exploit when you’re talking to editors. My first book, THIS IS THE PLACE is sort of romantic (a romance website will like it) but it is also set in Salt Lake City, the site where the winter games were played in 2002 and, though that’s a reach, I found sports desks and feature editors open to it as Olympics © fervor grew and even as it waned because they were desperate for material as the zeal for the games wound down.

Cull contacts: Develop your Rolodex by adding quality recipients from media directories. The website has an All-in-One Directory that gives links to others such as Editor, Publisher Year Book, and Burrell’s. Some partial directories on the web are free and so are your yellow pages. Ask for help from your librarian—a good research librarian is like a shark; she’ll keep biting until she’s got exactly what she wants.

Etiquette counts: Send thank-you notes to contacts after they’ve featured you or your book. This happens so rarely they are sure to be impressed and to pay attention to the next idea you have, even if it’s just a listing in a calendar for your next book signing.

Partner with your publicist and publisher: Ask for help from their promotion department—even if it’s just for a sample press release.

Publicize who you are, what you do: Reviews aren’t the only way to go. E-books are important promotion tools and Twitter is big news right now (find me at Katy Walls, author of “The Last Step,” coordinated an “anthology” of recipes from authors who mention food in their books (yes, some my family’s ancient recipes from polygamist times are in it). It is a free e-book, a promotional CD, and great fodder for the local newspapers. If you’d like a copy, e-mail me at Use it as a cookbook and as a sample for your own e-book promotion.

Think of angles for human interest stories, not only about your book but about you as its author. Are you very young? Is writing a book a new endeavor for you? Several editors have liked the idea that I wrote my first book at an age when most are thinking of retiring, that I think of myself as an example of the fact that it is never too late to follow a dream.

Develop new activities to publicize: Don’t do just book signings. Use your imagination for a spectacular launch. Start an award. I give the Noble (Not Nobel!) for literary work each January at Get charities involved. Think in terms of ways to help your community.

Send professional photos with your release: Request guidelines from your target media. Local editors won’t mind if you send homey Kodak moment--properly labeled--along with your release. Some will use it; it may pique the interest of others and they’ll send out their own photographers. It’s best, however, to send only professional photos to the big guys.

Frequency is important: The editor who ignores your first release may pay more attention to your second or twenty-fifth. She will come to view you as a source and call you when she needs to quote an expert. This can work for novels as well as nonfiction. I received a nice referral in my local newspaper because I am now an “expert” on prejudice, even though my book is a novel and not a how-to or self-help piece.

Follow Up: Shel Horowitz, author of Marketing Without Megabucks (, reports that follow-up calls boost the chances of a press release being published. Voice contact builds relationships better than any other means of communication.

Keep clippings: Professional publicists like Debra Gold of Gold & Company do this for their clients; you do it so you’ll know what’s working and what isn’t.

Evaluate: One year after your first release, add up the column inches. Measure the number of inches any paper gave you free including headlines and pictures. If the piece is three columns wide and each column of your story is six inches long, that is 18 column inches. How much does that newspaper charge per inch for their ads? Multiply the column inches by that rate to know what the piece is worth in advertising dollars. Now add 20% for the additional trust the reader puts in editorial material.

Set goals: You now have a total of what your year’s efforts have reaped. New publicist-authors should set a goal to increase that amount by 100% in the next year. If you already have a track record, aim for 20%.

Observe progress: Publicity is like planting bulbs. It proliferates even when you aren’t trying very hard. By watching for unintended results, you learn how to make them happen in the future.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson is the author of THE FRUGAL BOOK PROMOTER: HOW TO DO WHAT YOUR PUBLISHER WON’T ( ). For a little over 2 cents a day THE FRUGAL BOOK PROMOTER assures your book the best possible start in life. Full of nitty gritty how-to's for getting nearly free publicity, Carolyn Howard-Johnson shares her professional experience as well as practical tips gleaned from the successes of her own book campaigns. She is a former publicist for a New York PR firm and a marketing instructor for UCLA's Writers' Program.. Learn more about the author at or


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

How to Sell Books in Bulk

Most authors have dreams of making their book an instant bestseller...seeing their book fly off the shelves of bookstores and selling their books to throngs of fans at book signings. However, the average signing at a bookstore results in about six copies sold. That's right, six.

But what if I told you it is possible to sell hundreds, perhaps even thousands of copies of your book without stepping foot inside a bookstore? Authors are doing just selling their books in bulk.

I'm not talking about selling books out of the back of a truck, although that might work for you, too. No, these are sales directly to major companies which will use these books at premiums or "freemiums" for their employees and customers. A few examples:

1. If an author has written a book about personal finance and money management, they could approach a chain of banks or credit unions about the possibility of purchasing a quantity of books at a discount (probably 40-50 percent off the cover price) and giving those books to new customers who open a savings or checking account.

2. Perhaps the book is about time management, or leadership, or effective work habits. The author could approach major companies about purchasing a copy for every manager or employee in their company. If it's a large company, the quantities could number in the hundreds or thousands. Again, you would need to offer the books at discount.

3. If the book is educational in nature, such as a Bible study book, the author could develop a course to go along with the book and offer it to churches around the country. Of course, the book would be required reading for the course. You could develop the same type of strategy for books about money management, getting through a divorce, better communication with your spouse, etc.

4. If you do public speaking and you are active on the speaking circuit, but not yet getting paid for your speeches (or aren't commanding high fees yet), tell organizations that instead of charging for the speaking engagement, the cost of attendance is the purchase of your book, which of course is tied to the topic of your speech. Tell them their members are getting the "organizational discount" of 20 percent off the retail price. The books could either be purchased at the door by attendees or in bulk by the organization itself (you can sweeten the deal by offering a bigger discount if they buy in bulk). If they have 500 attendees at the speech, and your book's retail price is $10, you'll stand to make $4,000 off that speaking engagement if attendees buy books at the door.

5. If you have a book about dieting, try to partner with weight loss organizations or gyms. You could cross promote with the businesses by giving them books at a discount to give to their new customers for free when they sign up for a membership, and when you are selling books at other events you could agree to place a small ad for the gym or weight loss organization inside your book (a card some other type of insert would do). When customers sign up at the gym with that card, they would get a discount on the membership.

These are just a few ideas, but it gives you a starting point. Perhaps you have some similar ideas of your own, or you could develop some that would work specifically for your book. Instead of trying to sell a handful of copies to each retail store around the country, target a few large companies or organizations which will purchase your book in bulk by the thousands. It will require some sales skill on your part, and you will have to show the companies and organizations how YOUR book will benefit THEM. They must see value in what they are buying. For the authors that can strike these types of partnerships, the rewards can be great.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The 10 Terrible Truths of Book Marketing

During the time I have worked in the publishing industry, I have heard a lot of different ideas and statements about how to market books. Some of them are pretty good. Others might seem like a good idea to someone new to the industry, but in actuality they don't work at all. Those are the ideas I'm going to address in this post, but only because they come up so often. I probably hear these ideas or comments on a weekly basis. So, here they are, in no particular order: The 10 Terrible Truths of Book Marketing, along with the marketing requests or comments which generally accompany them.

1. My book will sell itself. No book sells itself. Selling books happens to be a lot of work, but it can also be a lot of fun. But no, books do not sell themselves. If they did, I wouldn't have a job.

2. Celebrities will help me sell my book. I have had requests to send review copies to President Obama, Joel Osteen, Sean Hannity and Larry the Cable Guy, among other celebrities. I'm not sure what authors think these people are going to do with their books, and I think President Obama has his hands full without taking on a book marketing project (other than his own book). Besides, most celebrities are more concerned with selling THEIR books than that of another author.

3. I'm an author, not a book salesman (or salesperson). Well, of course you're an author first, but along with that title comes a certain responsibility to help promote and sell your book. For some authors, this means doing book tours and making media appearances. For others, it means speaking to Rotary Clubs and eating rubber chicken dinners at speaking engagements. But make no mistake, authors must be involved in promoting their book, or it will collect dust on the shelf.

4. (From children's book authors) Let's sell my books through Scholastic Book Fairs. They sell a lot of books. Yes, Scholastic Book Fairs do sell lots of children's books...millions of dollars worth each year, in fact.  But, if you and your book aren't known and already have some kind of track record of sales, your book is less likely to be picked up by Scholastic. 

5. If I could just get on Oprah (or some other national TV show) my book will be a bestseller. I have worked with authors who have been on numerous national TV shows. There is no denying it is fantastic exposure, and it's the kind of exposure I work toward for my authors every day. However, making one appearance on a TV show does not guarantee bestseller status.

6. If we buy an ad on (Facebook, YouTube, Drudge Report or some other web site) my book will sell thousands of copies. Millions of people use these sites. It is true that these are high-traffic sites, attracting millions and millions of users. But hits on a web site don't necessarily transfer into sales. Think about it: when is the last time you purchased something as a result of seeing an ad for it on one of these sites? If you're like most people, the answer is probably "never." If you do sell a few copies, it is unlikely you would make back the amount of money spent on the ad. Even after I tell people this, they still insist on spending the money, only to later call and tell me they shouldn't have done it.

7. I'm just going to set up a web site and sell all of my books online. Having a web site should certainly be a part of any author's marketing strategy, but it's only one part of an overall strategy. Authors should also use other social media sites, do book signing events, niche marketing, media appearances, etc. One web site alone won't help an author sell a lot of books.

8. My book appeals to everybody. Unfortunately, no book appeals to everybody. Take a look at the New York Times bestsellers list. I'll bet there are books on that list you have no interest in reading. This is why it is crucial to specifically target your book's niche market.

9. Once my book is released, I'll be able to quit my day job and work at writing full time. This is every author's dream, but unfortunately few writers are able to make a full time living from doing nothing but writing. Many of them have day jobs, teach writing courses, teach book marketing courses, take freelance writing jobs, write for newspapers or magazines, etc. Most authors make $1-$2 in royalties for every book that is sold. If they received an advance, they don't receive those royalties until the publishing company sells enough books to recoup the advance. In those cases, it could take years for an author to see their first actual royalty check, if they get one at all. If a book isn't a success, the advance may be the only cash an author receives for their book. If authors can't purchase books from their publisher at a steep discount for resale, they may be waiting a long time to see any real money from their book.

10. If my publisher believed in my book, they would spend a lot of money to market it. The fact is, your publisher has already taken a chance on your book by agreeing to publish it. They have already paid for editing, layout, cover design, printing, distribution, shipping, and marketing. However, not every title gets a big ad budget. In fact, few books get ad budgets, period. These are usually reserved for authors who already have a reputation for producing books that sell. These are authors who have a platform, a fan base that wants to read the books that they write. Now more than ever, publishers are depending upon authors to deliver the fans that will buy their books.

In most of these instances, there is a belief or a misconception that if the author or publisher "just did this ONE thing, the book would REALLY take off!" What I'm trying to convey with this list is there is no magic bullet when it comes to book sales. There is no "one thing" that will deliver the sales the author wants. It takes a lot of things: hard work, persistence, patience, and of course, writing great books, to achieve success in the publishing industry. So tell everyone about your book, consistently promote it, work hard, don't give up, and great things CAN happen!

Five Tips for Scheduling a Book Signing Event

Five Tips For Scheduling a Booksigning Event

Five Tips For Scheduling a Booksigning Event

By Lori A Moore

While publishers assist their authors in the marketing process of their books, including scheduling book signings and public speaking opportunities, self-published authors and published authors alike also need to be proactive in working to schedule book signing events in their local communities.

Tip 1:

Let your fingers do the walking through the local yellow pages. Don't limit your search to just bookstores. What about public libraries? Depending on the subject matter of your book, look for related opportunities. For instance, if you wrote a book on Do-It-Yourself plumbing, you might want to consider calling local DIY stores such as Lowes and Home Depot to ask if they would consider letting you have a book signing opportunity. If you book is a children's book, consider local daycare facilities and children's stores.

Tip 2:

Make the call. Don't be afraid. Call the venue and introduce yourself as a local author and ask to speak to the person who schedules events such as a book signing, etc. When you reach the right decision maker, give them a brief summary of your book and why it would benefit their core customers or clients.

Tip 3:

Once the store has agreed to schedule a booksigning, provide them with signage, posters, or copies of your book cover to use in their promotion of the event. Encourage the store to send out a mass email to their email distribution list announcing the event and placing signs in the store promoting it.

Tip 4:

Invite everybody you know to the event, even if they have been to other booksignings or already have a copy of the book. Stores want a good turnout to their event and the rule of thumb here is that they would like 30 people to show up for the event.

Tip 5:

Post the event on every available online medium including Craigslist,, as well as on all of your blogs and websites.

Don't be afraid to reach out and make those contacts. Every bookstore that I called agreed to a booksigning; not one of them said no. All it takes is some confidence, a polite and professional demeanor, determination, and a few minutes to make a phone call or a drop-in to a local store.

Lori A. Moore is the author of From Zero to Christian in Just 35 Years. She teaches college both online as well as in her hometown of Louisville, KY where she lives with her husband Michael and their three cats. Lori has a passion for adults who haven't yet experienced a relationship with Christ because everything they've heard is kind of formal and scary. She tries to write with humor and on a down-to-earth level that people can relate to and understand.

Twitter: @Lori_A_Moore

Article Source:


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Creating Your Brand

It's a situation in which most new authors find themselves. Their book has been released, but it's just not flying off the shelves or climbing the sales ranks at Amazon.

"I thought this book would sell itself!" is something I have heard from several authors.

The truth is, no book sells itself. Authors sell books, with help (sometimes very limited help) from their publishers. We have already discussed how much competition there is in the publishing industry. So how does an author stand out from the crowd? With branding.

Everyone, regardless of what industry they are in, has a personal brand. Their brand is their personal reputation, how other people view them, and what they have come to expect from that person. Vikings quarterback Brett Favre has a brand. Coca Cola has a brand. Apple Computers has a brand.

There are plenty of pro football players, soft drinks and computers in the world. Hundreds, in fact, if not thousands. However, not all football players, soft drinks and computers are comparable. Some are better than others. Some have been around longer than others. Some have developed more of a following than others. They have developed this track record of success with branding. For example, when I go see a movie starring Sylvester Stallone, I can pretty much count on the fact it's going to be an action movie. When I read a book by Dean Koontz, I know it's going to be a thriller.

This blog is an effort to brand myself as someone who knows how to sell books. In the nearly four years I have worked at Tate Publishing, I have sold a LOT of books. That success didn't come overnight, and neither does developing a successful brand. So, how does an author go about developing a personal brand?

Identify your key strength. What makes you different from other authors? Do you specialize in a particular genre? What is your expertise? What makes your book different or more interesting than others? Make a short list of these qualities. These are the things that are part of your personal brand.

Develop a clear and concise message to communicate your brand. Burger King lets you "have it your way." Coke is "The Real Thing." Brett Favre is a "Superbowl champion quarterback." I promote "sales, service and success." These tag lines are all part of branding a personality, product or service. Once a person or a product becomes well-known enough, their name itself is a brand. Kleenex is a brand of facial tissue, but now everybody calls facial tissue Kleenex, whether it's actually made by Kleenex or not.

Persistently and consistently communicate your brand. Now that you have figured out your brand (you're a romance novelist who specializes in stories with twist endings, for example) you need a way to constantly communicate that message, and do it persistently. Michael Jackson always referred to himself as "The King of Pop," and after awhile everyone else called him that, too. Use many different communications channels to convey your brand. Your press releases, your news letters, your web site, your email signature line, your blog, your social networking pages...everything should contain your branding message. If your marketing materials contain your brand, then interviewers and book reviewers will start to use it, too.

Branding can be subtle. Not everyone has a tag line as part of their brand. Jeffery Gitomer writes a series of books about selling and positive attitude, and each of his books has a color in the title of the book. His best-known book is perhaps "The Little Red Book of Selling." When he appears at speaking engagements, he wears a red shirt. His own web site depicts him wearing a red shirt. He does have a slogan: "People don't like to be sold, but they love to buy!" In fact, he has trademarked that slogan.

"The Chicken Soup" series of books is perhaps one of the most well-known series of books around. Every book title in the series has "Chicken Soup for the Soul" featured prominently. "Chicken Soup" is part of the branding. You may not remember the names of the authors, but you will remember "Chicken Soup."

If you haven't given any thought to your personal brand, now is the time to start. Is your message in your marketing materials, web site and backmatter of your books clear and consistent? Can you somehow incorporate your branding into the elevator pitch for your book? Remember, your book is a business, and each successful business has a brand. What does your brand say about you?

You can learn more about branding at

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Promote Your Book With Facebook Groups

Today's guest post is written by Dana Lynn Smith, who writes The Savvy Book Marketer blog and book marketing guides. - Terry

Promote Your Book With Facebook Groups
By Dana Lynn Smith

Facebook groups are a great place to meet people who share your interests and to subtly promote your book. For maximum exposure, join existing groups and start your own Facebook group.

To find groups to join, enter keywords in the Facebook search box. When the search results come up, click on the Groups tab to view groups focused on your topic.

Click the Join Group button to join a group. Write an introductory greeting on the group's wall, and post your book cover in the photo section. Your book cover will show up on the group page and also in the newsfeed of your friends, a great way to subtly promote your book. You can also post videos on group page. It's not wise to post wall messages and images on more than one group page per day.

Most groups have a discussion board. Scan the list of questions to see if there are any you can answer. As with other online forums, observe proper etiquette and don't be too promotional in your answer.

Groups are also a wonderful place to find Facebook friends. After all, if someone joins a group related to your topic of interest, they presumably share your interests.

Forming a Facebook Group

Forming your own group can be very beneficial, but to keep the group growing and active you will need to provide benefits to members by offering valuable information and/or active discussions.

To form your own group, log into your Facebook account then go to the create groups page and fill in the simple form to create your Facebook group.

Groups should be used to provide information and interaction to people interested in particular topic. Be subtle about promoting books through groups. A Facebook Page is more appropriate for promoting your book or business directly.

Nonfiction authors can form a group based on their book's topic. Fiction authors will need to be creative. For example, you might form a group for people who love to read historical romance. You could subtly promote your book while also discussing the genre and the writing process, offer free chapter downloads, and invite group members to share other historical romance books they enjoy.

Promoting Your Group

If you create an "open" group, anyone on Facebook can join, not just your friends. To invite people to join, use the Invite People to Join or Share buttons on the right side of the group's page.

One way to attract members is to design your group page as an information hub, offering links and resources in the Recent News section of the page. You can offer a free downloadable report as a thank you to group members.

Another way to attract and reward members is to have a contest. For example, you could give away an autographed copy of your book to a member of the group chosen randomly by selecting a number from

And don't forget to promote your Facebook group on your website, in your email signature and elsewhere.

Networking Through Your Group

As group administrator, you can send messages to members (up to a maximum of 5,000), delivered to each person's Facebook Inbox. Click the Message All Members link on the right side of the group page.

Be sure to communicate with the members periodically by sending something of value such as tips or helpful links. Just be careful not to send so many messages that you annoy people. Administrators can also post to the wall and start discussions in the forum, to encourage interaction.

If you're not already using Facebook groups to promote your book, give it a try!

Dana Lynn Smith is a book marketing coach and author of the Facebook Guide for Authors. For more tips, follow @BookMarketer on Twitter, visit Dana's book marketing blog, and get a copy of the Top Book Marketing Tips ebook when you sign up for her free book marketing newsletter.

Article Source: Promote Your Book With Facebook Groups

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What's Your Elevator Pitch?

So, what's your book about?

It is one of the most common questions asked of an author, yet I have watched as many authors hem and haw and stumble their way through an explanation of their book...and these are the people who wrote it. It's not that they don't know what their book is about. Of course they do. My theory is that they don't want to brag about themselves, or their book, so they just give a very vague description. Others go completely the other way, taking an extremely long amount of time to describe all of the best plot twists in their book.

These authors don't have an "elevator pitch."

An elevator pitch refers to a very brief overview of a product (in this case your book) which can be described in 30 seconds or less...about the length of an average elevator ride. If you have ever seen the show "Shark Tank" (I prefer the British version, "Dragons Den" on BBC America), you have seen an elevator pitch in action.

Why should authors have an elevator pitch for their book? Think of all the times you might be asked to describe your book: book signing events, book fairs, radio interviews, meetings with bookstore managers, and you'll quickly come to realize it is a question you will get a lot. Your answer could determine if you get a sale or not.

The pitch for your book doesn't need to be long, involved or difficult. It does need to be able to pique the interest of people in a very short period of time. These pitches don't need to be (and shouldn't be) any longer than 2-3 sentences. Here are a few sample book descriptions taken right from the backmatter of a few well-known books:

"The Green Mile tells the story of two men, a prison guard and his new death row inmate, and their suddenly intertwined lives. What would it be like to walk those last 40 yards to the electric chair, knowing you were going to die there? What would it be like to be the man who had to strap the condemned man in or pull the switch?
The Green Mile by Stephen King

"A kidnapped daughter is presumed dead, and when her grieving father receives a letter, apparently from God, inviting him to the scene of the crime, he can't help but go. What he finds there will change his world forever. "
The Shack by William P. Young

After years of disagreeing about what true happiness, success, and love really are, Dave and Clarice Johnson finally face the breaking point of their marriage. When Clarice's leg is crushed in a car wreck, the obvious truth that more than just her injuries need immediate attention is finally exposed. Clarice and Dave struggle to find restoration as they learn the importance of promises made and kept - and the truth that help sometimes comes from unlikely places.
Not Easily Broken by T.D. Jakes

Each of these are wildly successful books, and in the case of The Green Mile, lengthy. However, these descriptions are brief, but capture your attention. Of course, you're not going to spout your book's backmatter when someone asks what it's about, but these types of descriptions give you a starting point.

In no more than three sentences, write down what your book is about. Imagine your book is a movie. If you were reading a TV Guide description of that movie, what would it say? Focus on the central idea of the book, but make sure you "tease" the reader. You want them to be just interested enough that they will say "I have to read that book and find out more!"

Now, re-write this description and make it conversational, like something that could come up in casual conversation. After you have done this, practice reciting it a few times. You want it to sound natural, not like something you have memorized.

You aren't going to commit this to memory word-for-word, but now you have a good general description of your book...your "elevator pitch." When someone asks you what your book is about, you will be able to describe it in a couple of sentences and in such a way that it will make that person want to know more. If they ask you more questions about your book, that's great! They're interested. I have been to some trade shows where I saw a couple of authors spend half an hour telling someone what their book was about. Not only did they not sell their book, but it's highly unlikely that poor soul whose time they wasted will ever bother to read it. Why should they? The authors already recited it to them.

Your book pitch will serve you well when you get out in public, do book signings and media interviews and when you get the inevitable question: "What's your book about?"

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