Book Marketing, Author Publicity, Branding

Friday, December 16, 2011

How "Book Thief" Made Out Like a Bandit

I came across an interesting article today in Publisher's Weekly.  It was about Markus Zusak's 2006 novel "The Book Thief" surpassing more than two million copies sold.  For the author that is slogging away at book signings, two million seems like an incomprehensible number.  So, how did he do it?

According to the article, Zusak's publisher, Random House, credits " book clubs, community read programs, and passionate word-of-mouth recommendations."

In other words, the publisher and author targeted the niche audience for this book.  Notice they don't credit Walmart, prime placement on Amazon's front page or a huge advertising campaign for the book.   Too often, authors are looking for the whiz-bang flash of a splashy ad in a newspaper, or pin all their hopes of a bookstore chain carrying their book in every outlet in the country.  There is much to be said for word-of-mouth advertising.

The author himself is surprised, saying he didn't think anyone would be interested in reading the book.  He simply writes for the sake of writing.  He has some pretty interesting comments beginning at 3:26 in the interview below.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Guest Post: Holiday Author Events

Holiday Author Events: How to Increase Holiday Book Sales

Holiday Author Events: How to Increase Holiday Book Sales

By Irene Watson

Book sales are typically highest for most authors during the holidays so authors should take full advantage of the holiday season. Many avenues exist during the holidays to increase book sales and a little extra imagination can always help, while a lot of the possibilities can also be effective the rest of the year. If you want to sell books, the holidays are definitely the best time.
Any dedicated author who wants to sell books will make sure the months of November and December are filled with opportunities for them, and while it would be easy to let your book marketing go onto the back burner because of all the other busy activities surrounding the holidays, this season is often the one that can cause the biggest jump in book sales. If you want to sell books, here are some tips for making a fun holiday season also a profitable one.
  1. Plan Ahead. Begin in the summer or sooner trying to schedule your events in November and December. Many Christmas art and craft shows begin taking applications at this time, so to get in and get the best placement, spring and summer are the time to reserve a space. That said, often shows are not filled until the last minute, so never feel it's too late to call and try to get in if you didn't plan ahead. If you have a new book coming out, you might plan to release it in late fall-September or October are slower months for book sales, but a release at that time will give you a couple of months to plant the seed in Christmas shoppers' heads while catching those early shoppers, and it will give you time to build buzz about your book. Finally, the more time you give yourself, the more ideas you can come up with and the more you can refine them so they will be effective during the holiday season.
  2. Schedule Events Every Weekend. Whether it's a Christmas craft show, a church bazaar, or a holiday book signing, make sure you fill the holiday season with events that will draw in people who are looking to purchase Christmas gifts. The more high traffic the area receives, the better. While a book signing at a bookstore might seem like a good idea, more people are buying books online, whether we like it or not, so bookstores may not get the traffic that other places receive. A Christmas Craft show, on the other hand, can often generate traffic that numbers in the thousands. Furthermore, people go to craft shows looking for craft items and are often surprised to find books there, which are often among the more affordable items. You receive exposure there to people who might never go in a bookstore, and you are bound to be seen by people with money in their pockets that they are planning to spend. Any event in a mall is also a good idea during the holidays.
  3. Participate in Holiday Entertainments. If you've written a children's book, you might get yourself a booth at the mall when Santa is there so your target audience of children sees you. If you can find an open mike holiday event, such as a poetry reading, go and read from your book so people hear it and want to buy it. Is your downtown having a Ladies' Shopping Night? Then ask one of the store owners if you can sell your books that night in the store.
  4. Donate Books for Christmas Fundraisers. Christmas is the season of giving. You can give copies of your books to local charity events, whether it's the church bazaar, the local Toys for Tots or another organization's book drive, an auction of items for charity, or anything else that offers your book a chance in the spotlight. And don't forget that giving of your time is also fruitful. Participate in an event where you might not only feel good about helping others-whether it's the church bake sale, a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner for the homeless, or any other event-but where you will also meet new people and you can tell them about your book-granted, the homeless might not buy it, but the other workers there might. Remember, wherever you go, many people will treat you as a celebrity because you are an author. You don't have to flaunt your book, but when people ask what you do, simply remember to say with pride, "I'm an author." Many people find it exciting to meet someone who has written a book, and even if you only get one interested person, that person is often capable of spreading the word to many other potential buyers.
  5. Offer Holiday Specials. Many ways exist to get people excited about your book by offering various forms of specials. If you attend a Christmas craft show, make a sign announcing you have an "Exclusive Show Special" and offer a discounted price for your book, or better yet, if you have several books, offer a "Buy Two, Get the Third Free" or other package deal. Perhaps you have an author friend who will share the book with you and you can have a special where the customers get one of each of your books as a special deal. Or if you have an artist friend, you could offer a discounted piece of art with the purchase of a book or vice versa. And don't forget your website! Offer specials there and send out emails to your readers, plus post messages on Facebook and other online places where you can reach your online readers to let them know you have a special limited time offer, or even that you are offering free shipping until Christmas. Anytime you can let people think they are getting a deal, they are more likely to buy.
  6. Be Cheerful and Festive. Exude the holiday spirit! Wear Christmas colors-red and green, or fun Christmas ties or sweaters. At events, decorate your booth with holiday ornaments, from a Christmas tablecloth, to giving away Christmas candy, or anything else that will attract people to your booth, putting potential customers in the holiday mood and making them feel welcome. Remember, nobody wants to do business with a Scrooge, much less read his book. A Christmas Carol has already been written. Now it's time for people to read your book.
Trying to promote your book during the holidays can be time-consuming and exhausting-at least many authors have told me that as their reason why they don't do it-but I find that when you connect with people at holiday events they are usually in a cheerful mood and cheer you up, and when you imagine people tearing open wrapping paper to discover your book under their Christmas trees, it can be quite an invigorating experience. As far as book sales go, most authors should wish it could be Christmas all year round.
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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Monday, November 7, 2011

Guest Post: Start Marketing Your Book Even Before It's Done

Start Marketing Your Book Even Before It Is Done

Start Marketing Your Book Even Before It Is Done

By Lisa Shultz

Ideally, one should plan and implement a marketing campaign many months before the actual launch of your book. Lay the foundation for success early and then be consistent with ongoing marketing well after your book has been released.

Here are seven tips to do while you book is being edited or in process of production and you have a bit of extra time on your hands since the book is being worked on by others.

Tip #1: Review all your social media profiles and update them. Put information in the profile indicating that your book is soon to be published, and add a date if you know one, and a brief overview of what the book is about.

Tip #2: Begin to do searches on all social media platforms of your target audience and join groups, "like" pages, and subscribe. For example, you were writing a book about a dog, your target readership might be dog lovers. Spend time finding out where dog lovers hang out both physically and on the internet. Perhaps visit the actual locations in your community where dog lovers go and build relationships with owners of stores and leaders of organizations related to dogs.

On the internet, begin interacting with members of groups related to dogs and just enjoy the conversation. In forums and groups, it is best to spend several months in friendly interaction before ever suggesting a call to action such as buying your book. If the membership enjoys your comments in the groups, they will be much more willing to actually buy a book from you at a later date.

Tip #3: Build your lists. Accelerate your efforts at adding followers to your lists. Those lists might be friends and fans on Facebook, your email distribution list, and blog subscribers. Wherever you have lists, build them to greater numbers. Allot a certain amount of time each day to list building activities to increase your connections.

Tip #4: Begin to inquire about joint venturing with others who have large lists. Leverage the lists of synergistic people in your niche by suggesting a mutually beneficial partnership of cross promotion. Perhaps they will promote the launch of your book to their lists if you feature them on your blog or they have the opportunity to give a bonus to your list when someone buys your book.

Tip #5: Draft press releases and email and social media announcements so you are prepared for the big launch day when it arrives. You may edit these drafts as the day approaches, but you will have these important promotional pieces in a ready state.

Tip #6: Create interview questions that you would love to answer on radio shows or blog interviews. Those who might interview you appreciate you making their job easier, and you have a chance to practice your answers so they sound smooth and natural.

Tip #7: Place information about your book release in the signature line of your emails such as "Author of the soon to be published book entitled (your book's title)".

Remember that marketing needs to be a part of your routine every week consistently before and after your book comes out. Keep a constant stream of exposure to your target market for your book's success. Whether you traditionally publish or self-publish, you will be in charge of marketing your book, so start early and be persistent!

And if you would like to know more about self-publishing process, visit Get free instant access to tips, a free book visualization and more. You'll find that the writing process can be simplified and even easy with guidelines and sequential steps to follow. Lisa Shultz is a self-publishing specialist and loves to help others bring their books to life.

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Monday, October 31, 2011

Guest post: Increase Book Exposure Through Author Speaking Engagements

Increase Book Exposure Through Author Speaking Engagements

Increase Book Exposure Through Author Speaking Engagements

By Sarah Bolme

One surefire way to spread the word about a book is for the author to embark on a public speaking campaign. Authors who pursue speaking engagements gain more attention for their books. Some authors have single-handedly propelled their books to bestseller status through traveling and speaking nationwide on a continual basis.

Even if an author does not have the ability to travel and speak extensively due to other life commitments, don't overlook this important aspect of book marketing. Authors willing to do even a few speaking engagements will develop a loyal reader base and increase their books' sales.

Getting Started

A good place for authors to start speaking on their book's topic is through local bookstores and libraries. Many bookstores (especially Borders and Barnes & Noble) will host short seminars by authors for their patrons. Libraries do this also. Authors who take advantage of these opportunities can sell autographed copies of their books after these events and boost their sales.

Non-fiction authors usually have a built-in topic for speaking. However, fiction and children's book authors can create opportunities for speaking. For example, children's book authors can volunteer to read their children's book at a bookstore or library during National Literacy Month (September). An author of a young adult fiction title can volunteer to lead a short seminar for teens on fiction writing at a local library. Authors of mystery novels can take advantage of Barnes & Nobles' October Mystery Month. These ideas are just a few of the many opportunities that can be created for authors to schedule speaking engagements to promote their books.

While developing a public speaking business takes time, speaking publicly can pay off for those authors who undertake this aspect of their book marketing campaign. Initially, authors generally will need to speak for free and use each speaking engagement to sell books. However, once a speaking business is established, authors can begin to charge for their speaking services.

If an author has no previous speaking experience or is fearful of the idea of speaking in front of a group of people, consider getting some training in public speaking through reading books on speaking or taking classes. One good place to gain know-how and confidence in public speaking is through joining a local Toastmasters club .

Securing Speaking Engagements

Speaking engagements must be cultivated and pursued. Opportunities only drop into the laps of those authors who have built the speaking side of their profession over time. Most new speakers will have to spend time cultivating speaking engagements.

All sorts of events feature authors as speakers. Authors can seek out speaking engagements through identifying specific events and groups geared toward their book's target audience as potential speaking venues. For example, a book on healthy dating habits for teens could lead to speaking engagements at middle- and high-schools as well as community and church youth groups.

When an event or group has been identified as a potential speaking venue, the next step is for the author to contact the group's organizers and present an author bio and speaking topic with synopsis for consideration.


How many books can you sell through speaking engagements? The number all depends on the event, the speaker, and the audience. Whether the book sales total three or three hundred, remember that each speaking engagement is exposure. And exposure builds on itself to produce future book sales.

Sarah Bolme, is the author of Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace ( and the director of Christian Small Publishers Association ( �2007

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Why Authors Should Do Book Signing Events

Photo credit:
One of the hottest tickets in the author book signing world right now is for rock star Ozzy Osbourne's latest book, Trust Me, I'm Dr. Ozzy: Advice from Rock's Ultimate Survivor.

  Each of his book signing events has been met with readers camping out in line, lines going around the block outside the bookstores and bookstores issuing wristbands to guarantee readers a place in line.  Ozzy's book entered the NY Times Best Sellers List at #12.

But, this isn't the experience of most authors and their book signing events.  The average bookstore signing event results in about six books being sold.  There usually is no line around the block, and customers at the store may be indifferent to the fact a book signing is being held at all.

The difference is Ozzy Osbourne has a platform from which to launch his book.  He is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, pioneered the heavy metal rock sound with his former band, Black Sabbath, and has been performing since the late 1960's.  He and his family also had a TV show you may have heard of, "The Osbournes."  His book probably would have been a bestseller even if he had done no book signing events at all.

The reason he is doing book signings is simple.  It's not for the book sales or the money.  It's for the publicity.  Each book signing event is another opportunity for him to talk about his book, connect with is fans, and get media attention, which does drive more book sales.

Chances are, you are not a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, or have legions of fans who have followed you for the past 40 years.  That is even more reason to do book signing events, speaking engagements and any other event that will put you in front of readers.  You may not sell 200 books at a book signing event (although I work with many authors who have), but the events are a way of introducing you, and your book, to new readers that you may not have reached otherwise.

I often have authors tell me "I'm not going to waste my time with book signing events.  I'm just going to market my book online."  The problem with this is they don't know who to market their book to online.  They build a web site, join groups on Facebook and Tweet "buy my book!" to 100 or so followers on Twitter.  Those activities are fine, and might result in a few sales, but they should be done in addition to, not instead of, book signing and author events.

We have a saying in my marketing department:  "Events sell books."  Over the past six years, I have seen it time and time again:  the authors who do the most book signing and author events sell the most books.  The authors who are not very active with events are the authors whose books are not selling well, and they are also the authors that tend to complain about their royalty statements the most.

Yes, you will run out of friends and family to invite to your events.  That is why authors need to constantly be networking outside of their circle of acquaintances.  This is where the "marketing online" comes in, but also getting out and meeting new people through signings, speaking engagement and other personal appearances.  Use each appearance to generate additional events.  Mention to the groups you are speaking to that you are available to speak to other groups with which the members might be affiliated.  I have had more than one author tell me "I only sold two books at my event last weekend, but I got two speaking events lined up as a result of talking to customers."  I have had authors tell me that it "costs too much money" for them to drive to book signing events, and then turn around and spend several hundred dollars on a newspaper ad (against my advice).  Unfortunately, the ads rarely generate sales, whereas the book signing events probably would have.

If book signing events weren't worth doing, the celebrity authors like Ozzy Osbourne wouldn't bother doing them.  Every new author has to start somewhere in terms of building their platform, and book signing and author events play a major part.  Think of the events as your introduction to the book-buying public and a publicity activity...and yes, an opportunity to sell your book.

Monday, October 24, 2011

How to Deal With Bad Reviews

Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain, and most fools do. - Benjamin Franklin

Every now and then, not often, but a few times a year, I receive a panicked call or email from an author which goes something like this:

"I just noticed that someone left a terrible review of my book on (or some other online bookseller).  How can we get it removed?"

Well, the short answer is:  you can't.  Customers are able to leave reviews of your book on most any bookselling web site, and you may as well get used to the idea now that not all of those reviews are going to be positive.  That's just the nature of the business.  That doesn't mean people can go on these sites and attack you personally, but they can just about say anything they want about your book.

The great thing about the Internet is that it allows anyone to go online and instantly communicate anything they want to say.  The bad thing about the Internet is that is allows anyone to go online and instantly communicate anything they want to say.  Some people say things online that they would never say to someone face-to-face.  The anonymity of the Internet gives them free reign to say mean things.

Take this one-star book review from, for example:  "The character development was shoddy, unrelatable and unbelievable, the plot kept changing along with character perspectives the actually story never really getting anywhere, it was written as if it was a bunch of stories that someone decided to string together with random sentences and pieces of other stories."

The book being reviewed?   The Holy Bible.

When you publish a book, you are putting a piece of yourself on public display.  Just as in everything else in life, not everyone is going to like you, or your book.  Book reviews are subjective.  Opinions will vary from person to person.  In the not-so-subtle words of my company commander from Navy boot camp:  "Opinions are like a hole in your butt.  Everybody has one, and some of them stink." 

I once shot a TV commercial for a radio station where I used to work.  The kindest review I read about it was "Terry doesn't look as old as I thought he was."  Another review contained the world "yuck."  The local newspaper named it "The Best Worst Local TV Commercial" in its year-end edition.  My morning show's ratings were increasing, so I got a chuckle out of the reviews.  When you are in a public position like radio announcer (or author) you've got to have a thick skin.  

So, what can you do when your book gets a bad review?  Should you respond to bad reviews online?  My recommendation is "no." Why throw fuel on the fire?   Let the positive (and negative) reviews speak for themselves.  When your readers contact you to tell you they like your book, encourage them to leave a fair and honest (and hopefully positive) review on Amazon, and other book review and bookselling sites.  Let your loyal readers be your cheerleaders. 

Don't let negative book reviews get you down, and don't let them dissuade you from writing more books.  Every author has received bad reviews for their books.  It happens to everyone.

Just ask the guy who wrote the Holy Bible. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Guest Post: What Should Your "Promotional Tagline" Be?

In my role as the head of a PR firm, one of the most common misconceptions I see has to do with the superlatives people choose to describe themselves. Now, I'm not referring to how the media positions someone, but rather how someone seeking publicity wants to refer to him or herself.
I once overheard my senior strategist, Tony Panaccio, having a conversation with a client about what their tagline should be. It went something like this:
Client: So, what should I call myself?
Tony: I'm not sure what you mean.
Client: Well, when I identify myself to the media.
Tony: Well, your name is Jim, right (not the actual name)?
Client: Yeah.
Tony: So, why don't we stick with that? It’s short, concise and happens to be, you know, your name.
Client: That’s not what I meant. I was trying to think of something catchy.
Tony: Okay, how about “James?”
It went on like that for a bit, until Tony was able to explain to the client that it’s not kosher to try to “name” yourself to the media.

Taglines can work well for people who have their own radio or TV shows, but for those just breaking into the spotlight, it actually has the reverse effect than intended. The media is a cynical, somewhat sensitive league of professionals, not unlike Tony, actually. When they see a name they've never seen before with a tagline they've never seen before, it strikes them as odd and out of place. In fact, many will turn their noses up at those self-made designations.

We often get folks who want to attach all kinds of superlative descriptions of themselves in their bios like “genius,” “brilliant,” “guru.”  The point is that those in the media will come up with the nicknames and catchy taglines as they see fit, once they have come to understand that person’s experience is real. They are the ones who get to determine who the gurus are and not the prospective gurus themselves. 

Further along those lines, some have tried to attach the terms “groundbreaking,” “innovative” and even “spectacular” to describe their products or their books. The problem is that the media feels they are the ones who will determine if someone or something fits those descriptions. When people are positioned that way as part of a pitch or an article, it can be offensive and it immediately raises the question as to the validity of that designation. That’s why using superlatives about yourself in order to establish your credibility, typically results in exactly the opposite effect.

That’s why I don't call myself anything like “The PR Mechanic” or “The Marketing Maven,” as others in my industry call themselves. It’s not for me to make those calls. It’s up to you and the media to determine that I’m deserving of some kind of title to show my expertise.

In the meantime, feel free to call me Marsha. All my friends do and you’re far more likely to get my attention.

Marsha Friedman launched EMSI Public Relations 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. Some of the more prominent names on her client roster are Sergeant’s Pet Care Products, Former National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane and the famous Motown Group, the Temptations.
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.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Guest Post: 10 Things You Need to Know About Virtual Book Tours

10 Things You Need to Know About Virtual Book Tours

10 Things You Need to Know About Virtual Book Tours

By Dorothy Thompson

By now, most authors know what virtual book tours are or at least have heard of them. They're that wonderful marketing tool that should be a must have in every new book's campaign. With each new book I write, I'm making a game plan before the book is even published and a virtual book tour is the first promotional venue on that list.
While most of us know what they are, there are still a few new authors who might have heard of them but have no idea what they involve. I give you my top 10 things you need to know about virtual book tours so that you will know what to expect.
  1. Virtual book tours are the BEST way to get the MOST online exposure for your book. Not only are you presenting your book and yourself to thousands of people, all of your interviews, guest posts and reviews are archived which means months down the road, you're still selling your book because of that one tour.
  2. Virtual book tours ARE a lot of work. Not only are you searching for the perfect blogs to host you, you are acting as the middle man between you and the blogger unless you are using a paid service such as Pump Up Your Book who will do all the work for you. Even if you do sign up with Pump Up Your Book, there is still lots of work to do completing assignments - filling out interviews and writing guest posts unless you choose an all review tour. Even though it requires a little bit of your time to fill out interviews and write guest posts, it's well worth it.
  3. You will learn more about your book than you ever did. I had an author tell me that through the interviews and guest posts she had to complete, she never learned so much about her book which caught her off guard. Now when she is interviewed on radio shows and makes television appearances, she is better prepared.
  4. Virtual book tours will build up your author platform. No matter if you're a fiction author or a nonfiction author, virtual book tours will build up your author platform using your key search words.
  5. Your reviews are guaranteed. Offline publicists while they mean well do it all wrong. They query a book blogger, make arrangements to send the book, then that's where it stops. The review is not a guaranteed thing. The reviewer can post the review anytime they see fit. With virtual book tours, your review is guaranteed on a certain date unless the reviewer jumps ship which rarely happens. I had an author tell me she signed up with an offline publicist who sent out many books and only one or two reviewers actually came through for them. That was money loss for the author. Books don't come cheap these days so coming up with a date you and the reviewer can agree upon guarantees that review will be a given thing.
  6. Many reviewers now take ebooks which save you money. Thank goodness someone was smart enough to invent a device that automatically loads a book in a few seconds (no waiting to go to the book store anymore my friend) and makes it fun to read. When Amazon lowered their price of the Kindle, sales soared and book lovers started talking about getting one. What that means is that it opened up a wonderful way to get these books to the book reviewers quickly and less expensively. Have you noticed how much books are and how much it takes to ship them? Not saying all reviewers will take ebooks, but as time goes on, most will have an e-reader and, as a matter of fact, will prefer an ebook.
  7. More website hits, more blog hits, more Twitter hits and more Facebook Fan Page hits. All authors should have a website or blog and accounts at Twitter and Facebook. No matter if you think they're all a waste of time. A virtual book tour will definitely give you more hits at all places as long as your links are in your bio.
  8. Going on a virtual book tour raises your Alexa rankings. What is Alexa? Alexa measures how well you are doing in the search engines. By going on a virtual book tour, and including interviews and guest posts during that tour, your website and blog links are included in every bio (or should be!). Those are incoming links which Alexa uses to measure your ranking. The more your website or blog link shows up on other sites, the more valuable your site is to them and thus, your rankings soar.
  9. You will learn how to sell your book through media exposure. Not all authors take advantage of their interviews and guest posts by gearing them toward their audience, thus luring them to their book and/or website/blog. I've had many authors on tour and the ones who really take the time to make their interviews and guest posts effective selling tools are the ones who profit the most. The key thing here is to make your audience curious. One liners in the case of interviews may not cut it. Of course there are only so many ways you can answer "What's your book about?" but take your time and get your audience's curiosity peaked so that they do make your way over to your website or your book's buying link.
  10. Virtual book tours teach you how to connect well with others. There is no better way to learn how to network. All these wonderful book bloggers who agree to host you are your new friends in your extended network and they will be there for you the next time you have a book to promote (unless they completely hated it of course). You'll also learn how to use the social networks effectively as you study how to get people over to your stops by persuasive wording. Remember to talk to your audience, not at them.
There you have it. 10 reasons I feel you need to know about virtual book tours in a nutshell. If you have a tour coordinator as opposed to setting one up yourself, she will walk you through it so that it will be a fun experience for all. Your book will thank you for it.

Dorothy Thompson is CEO/Founder of Pump Up Your Book!, a public relations agency specializing in online book promotion. You can visit her website at

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Guest post: Making Your Radio Interviews Count

Making Your Radio Interviews Count

Making Your Radio Interviews Count

By Mari Selby

One of the quickest and easiest ways for your book to be noticed is to be a guest on a radio show. People still listen to the radio at work, while driving their cars, or as background at home. Most radio interviews happen on the phone, so you can sell books while in your robe and slippers. In 1999, prior to today's health craze, we secured 100 radio shows for author, Dr. Lindsey Berkson and her book, Healthy Digestion. With only these radio shows to promote her book, sales went to over 17,000 in a few months. Another client landed a regular TV gig because the producer heard him on a radio interview. Yet another author's architectural practice multiplied because new clients heard her speak on the radio. One of our quantum physics authors received an invitation to speak at a prestigious conference because he used a CD of his radio interviews to promote himself and his book.

Each one of these authors did not waste air on the radio. They offered tips, were storytellers, and captured the audience's interest. For most people it's easy to talk or teach in an interview, however to capture someone's attention long enough to have them buy your book takes skill and practice.
10 tips to being a successful radio show guest:

1. Make sure listeners know who you are. Give the host an introduction that is exactly how you want to be introduced. What is the most advantageous way of describing you and your book?

2. Never say "the answer is in my book". Both hosts and the audience hate that. Instead you could respond with "we address that issue through what we call problem solving tools. Active listening is one of the techniques we use. Active listening involves..."
And then you can add "there are a number of other tools we offer in the book."

3. Practice answering a list of questions in front of the mirror, with family, while driving in your car. Practice until you are easily answering the questions you include in your media kit. Then have your family ask questions not on the list and be spontaneous with your answers. (Or you can hire a radio show coach to guide you through the ropes.)

4. Clearly state how people can purchase your book, and inspire them to action. During the interview talk about your website. What else will people learn by going to your website? Make sure the host knows the name of your website so they can mention it also. Mention how your book might be a good gift for Aunt Susan who likes books on wildlife, or how Dad always wants to know more about cooking. Give them a reason to buy the book for someone else besides themselves.

5. Make a personable connection with the host, and the audience. Say the hosts name when you answer a question. Demonstrate how you want to help the audience. Be engaging. The goal of every interview is to be invited back.

6. Listen to the some of the host's archived shows to learn how she runs her program, so you won't be surprised, and can give "good air time". One of the biggest mistakes authors make is to approach a radio show about new electronic devices with a suggestion for a show about how to keep your marriage alive.

7. The host asks you what you think is a stupid question. What do you do? You don't say- "Well that is a stupid question!" You say- So many people have asked me that question and... then you bridge to where YOU want to go. You say what YOU want to say. It is called a bridge- and the people who do this best are politicians. Stay focused, don't get defensive, be polite and then answer it the way you want to.

8. Either hire a publicist to get you on the radio shows, or plan your approach. Do you want to research regional shows that will support regional activities? Or do you want to research radio shows that connect with your topic nationally? Plan on approaching these shows at least a month before the event. Ask the engineer for a copy of the interview either as a MP3 to use on your website, or a CD to send out for speaking engagements.

9. Cover your bloopers if you can with a cough, or a vocalization like hmmm, or a "that's an interesting question", or a laugh with "you caught me on that one". Or you can repeat the question. Dead air scares everyone, and audiences leave.

10. Last but not least, have fun!

Mari's writing can be read on Mari is the director of Selby Ink, a publicity and marketing firm. Selby ink promotes authors who make a difference, and helps those authors to develop name recognition through assessment of their work, and developing virtual and real life" events. Selby ink specializes in the following genres: body, mind, spirit, relationships, environmental issues, and social justice. You can also find Mari on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn

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Friday, September 23, 2011

Guest Post: How to Optimize Your Amazon Profile to Market Your Book

How to Optimize Your Amazon Profile to Market Your Book

How to Optimize Your Amazon Profile to Market Your Book

By Phyllis Zimbler Miller

Having your book on Amazon is a very exciting prospect. You can tell all your friends "you can buy my book on Amazon." But what about all the people who don't know you and who are on Amazon looking for books to buy?

Published and self-published authors can optimize their exposure on Amazon thanks to many author-friendly features. And if you don't know about these opportunities, you're missing out on free book marketing resources.

In this article we'll be looking at optimizing your profile on Amazon. (One word of caution: It is very difficult to connect with a real person on Amazon concerning author activities, so you may encounter problems that you are unable to resolve.)

Step 1: Have your own account on Amazon. Sounds basic but it is necessary. All this requires is buying one product on Amazon with a credit card in your name. (If you share an account with your spouse or family, set up a separate account.)

Step 2: Sign-in to your account. You'll see at the top left-hand corner of your computer screen the words "Hello, Your Name." Right below that click on "Your Name's" Then slide your eyes over to the right and look under the shopping cart icon and to the left and you'll see "Your Profile." (Make sure you're wearing your glasses because the wording is small.) Click on this.

Step 3: Now you're at your profile, which every person with an account on Amazon has. But this is definitely an author-opportunity page. And, yes, there are privacy controls here too (as on Facebook) so you can choose which information is seen by whom. Click on the button in the top right-hand corner that sees "Edit Profile." (You will again be asked to sign-in as extra protection that other people aren't editing your Amazon profile.)

Step 4: Start filling out the bio information. For an author, the most important line may be the "Name" because that is the name that will appear on any reviews and other activities you do on Amazon. Make sure that this is the same name as used for your book. For example, your credit card (used to set up your Amazon account) may only have a first and last name. But if you use three names for your author identification, put all three names here. (And be sure to upload a photo - people want to know what the author looks like. If you're on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, it's a good idea to use the same photo across all platforms to increase your recognition factor.)

Step 5: Do share personal information with which you are comfortable on this profile. Readers like to know about an author - sharing information gives a more three-dimensional feeling to who you are. And include the URL of your book's website if you have one.

Step 6: Go through the process of having your own books approved for your Amazon bibliography. This requires an outside representative to confirm to Amazon that you are indeed you.

Step 7: If you have a blog, have your blog posts automatically feed into your profile. (Carefully read the "Add RSS Feeds" information.)

Step 8: Recommend tags for your book. And write brief reasons for each tag as to why that tag is appropriate for this book. These tags must then be approved by Amazon.

Step 9: Check the privacy settings you have used on each of the elements of your profile. You may choose to have different settings on different types of information.

BONUS STEP: Make sure that you or your publisher have requested the "Look Inside" the book feature. This feature is NOT automatic. You want potential book buyers to be able to look inside the book as they could at a bookstore.

For the free report 7 TIPS FOR CREATING A CALL-TO-ACTION WEBSITE by Phyllis Zimbler Miller and for other free book marketing information, visit
Follow book author Phyllis Zimbler Miller at and connect with her on Facebook and LinkedIn as Phyllis Zimbler Miller.

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Guest Post: As Easy as 1,3...wait...

Today's guest post comes courtesy of Mark Mingle, who has more than a decade of experience working in the publishing industry. - Terry

Working with authors,  it is not uncommon to hear someone new to the industry exclaim that his or her book will instantly "sell millions" and "take the industry by storm."

While I will never fault an author for believing in their work and being enthusiastic, it seems that blind enthusiasm can often prohibit an author from making good choices in taking the necessary steps to success.

If the steps look like this, something is generally wrong:

Step 1: Write and publish a book
Step 3. Sell millions

What's missing?

Clearly, something is off here.

The biggest step often skipped is this - Step 2: Building your name, reputation, and platform as a professional author. And of course, this is the most important step, and it takes much time and effort.

When you think about famous authors, the list is fairly short of those known for simply being a writer - John Grisham, Stephen King, James Patterson, and Stephanie Meyer come to mind - but many of the bestselling authors in today's market are known for something else they have done or because of the platform they had before writing books - Joel Osteen, Sarah Palin, Dick Cheney, and Michael J. Fox, for example.

The biggest and most often-skipped step authors want to make is leaping past the building of a name, reputation, and platform to just sell books as though they already had become a household name. The focal point for these authors becomes supplying bookstores with copies that "will sell themselves." But the reality is that books don't sell themselves, unless the public has an awareness of you or your book and the demand has been generated outside the retail market (as the celebrity authors above have done).

Having said this, I recognize that most authors will never pastor a mega-church with 20,000 members and have a weekly national TV ministry. The majority of authors will not run for Vice President of the United States. But the reality remains that you must gain an audience by building your name and expanding the sphere of influence you now have.

Here are three things you can do to expand your sphere of influence in a short amount of time.
  • Use your book as a fund-raiser. In other words, find a worthy cause - cancer research, a church or missions group, a local school, etc. - and connect with local leaders of that organization (and beyond that, regional or national leaders) to donate portions of your book sales to their organization. This serves both you and the cause you are assisting and can get your book in front of a large mass of potential readers.
  • Launch a Facebook fan page for your book. This enables you to spread the word further than your own hometown by engaging a social network that knows no bounds. As friends (and friends of friends) discover and "like" your book, the word will travel fast. This can introduce you to a whole new world of contacts, which can lead to the following...
  • Pursue speaking engagements. If you are an author and are not engaging people personally with your message and thereby the news of your book, you will likely be disappointed in the sales of your book. Show me an author that is not afraid to speak anywhere and everywhere at any time about their book, and I'll show you an author that is selling books consistently.
I wish it were as easy as Step 1 and Step 3 above. If it were that simple, we'd all be on an yacht somewhere together. But if you skip Step 2 and do not build your name, reputation, and platform, you will likely not reach the next level as a professional author.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Guest Post: How to Know What to Charge for Public Speaking

How to Know What to Charge for Public Speaking

How to Know What to Charge for Public Speaking

By Meredith Liepelt

So you're a business owner who is interested in spreading your message through public speaking. Good for you! Public speaking is arguably one of the best ways to promote your business. The problem is that you don't know if you should or should not charge for your speaking engagements. And if you do charge, how do you set your fee?

Here's the answer - you just decide.

This sounds very simplistic, but this is the reality. You just decide what is right for you at this point in time. There is no "speaking fee system" that you have to fit into, thank goodness! That would severely limit what you as business owners want to do in your business.

In fact, that concept reminds me of my former work in corporate human resources, where I had a hand in creating compensation systems for three different organizations. For example, it was determined that if you are in job A, then you are in pay scale 1 and the salary range is $X to $Y. (I don't miss that work.)

There is no system like this for speakers, thank goodness. You just make it up.

That being said, there are many things that you need to weigh for yourself to find out what is right for you. Here are a few considerations to ponder.

1. Do you get clients when you speak?
One of my clients was going through this struggle. She regularly enrolled clients after speaking, to the tune of a minimum of $20,000 each over the course of their relationship. So, I asked her this, "If you can enroll a few clients at this level each time you speak for free, is a $3,000-$5,000 speaking fee worth limiting your speaking opportunities to only paid engagements?" Bottom line here, don't let your ego get in the way.

2. When someone asks about your fee, go into "journalist" mode by asking them questions first.
There are many things that go into a speaking engagement. For example, are they expecting original material or can you tweak your signature speech? Do they want power point slides, how many people will attend, who are they, what information are they expecting and/or wanting, can you sell from the stage or sell products at the back of the room, is there travel and an overnight stay involved, and so forth. Gather as much information as you can so you can assess if it's even an opportunity you want to pursue. If a relevant audience will not be there, just pass on the opportunity.

3. Ask who else is speaking and who spoke last year.
While this won't tell you exactly what the venue is accustomed to in terms of speaking fees, it is a clue as to what caliber of speaker they expect and what they may have budgeted for a speaker, if anything. And who you may be able to meet.

4. Find out all the "soft" benefits.
If they tell you upfront that they don't pay for speakers, find out if there are any "soft" benefits instead. For example, will they record your speech and send you a copy? Will they add a small amount to the ticket price to cover the cost of giving your book or a DVD to each attendee? Will you receive a list of attendees with their contact information so you can follow up with them once? Note - don't just add the attendees to your email list. This is called SPAM; it is not ethical and will not do you any favors.

5. Can you chalk this up to good PR and high-level networking?
Many times at large events, one of the benefits of speaking is that you get to meet and network with the other speakers. This can be worth way more than a $2,000 speaking fee. Or, you receive positive PR for your business, and being a speaker at the event builds your credibility. Again, that could be worth a lot more than a speaking fee.

6. Raise your fees
If speaking is your main source of revenue, keep raising your fees. In fact, increase it by at least 30% for the next inquiry you receive. One of my clients doubled her speaking fee and to her surprise, she keeps getting it! Now, she's raising her fees again. If nobody is saying "no," you're not charging enough.
So there are arguments for charging a fee and not for charging a fee. What's your business model? Are you working toward being a professional speaker or are the relationships that you can make worth more than the speaking fee? The beauty of being an entrepreneur is this: you decide what's right for you. And your answer can change over time.

Copyright 2011 Meredith Liepelt, Rich Life Marketing
Meredith Liepelt, President of Rich Life Marketing, offers a free report called "101 Ways to Attract Ideal Clients, Build Your List and Raise Your Profile," which can be downloaded immediately at

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ten Things All Authors Can Learn From Amanda Hocking

You may have heard of Amanda Hocking.  She is the 20-something-year-old author from my home state of Minnesota who self-published some novels as e-books and sold more than a million copies.  According to Wikipedia, about 9,000 copies of her novels sold each day earlier this year.  Many of her e-book novels were priced at just 99 cents, but supposedly she has earned 1-2 million dollars from her ebook sales.  Earlier this year, she signed a $2 million, four-book deal with St. Martin's press.

Now, before you think success in the publishing industry is as easy as cranking out some e-books on your own and throwing them up on Amazon, you should read a few words of advice.  They echo many of the same things I have said on this blog time and again, but they are not MY words of advice.  They are the words of Amanda Hocking, taken from her blog.  I have added my commentary after her quotes.  I thought it would be a good idea to pass along these pearls of wisdom from Amanda because 1) She is absolutely right, and 2) Every author, no matter where they are published or how they are published, can really learn something here.  Amanda's quotes are in bold.  My comments are not.

1.  I don't think people really grasp how much work I do.  As I have mentioned before, most authors work for years to become an overnight success.  It doesn't happen overnight, in 3 months or even a year.  If you are expecting your book to "burst upon the scene" and sell thousands of copies the day it is released, you are going to be sorely disappointed.  I have had authors ask me how long it will take to make their book successful.  The answer:  I don't know.  Nobody can answer that question. 

2.  This is literally years of work you're seeing. And hours and hours of work each day. The amount of time and energy I put into marketing is exhausting. I am continuously overwhelmed by the amount of work I have to do that isn't writing a book. I hardly have time to write anymore.  Being an author is more than writing a book.  If you aren't willing to put in the time to market and promote yourself, in addition to what your publisher is doing, very few people are going to read your book.  Although Amanda has signed with a publisher now, that doesn't mean she will get to spend all of her time just writing books.  She will still have to market and promote in addition to what her publisher is doing.

3.   My books have all been edited - several times, by dozens of people with varying backgrounds - and people still find errors.  I get calls from panicked authors who are upset because they have found a spelling error, a typo,  a misplaced comma, etc.  No book is perfect, not even books written by millionaire bestselling authors who are signed with major NYC publishing houses.  No matter how many times you go through a book and how many times it goes through editing, you will never obtain absolute perfection.

4.  And just so we're clear - ebooks make up at best 20% of the market. Print books make up the other 80%. Traditional publishers still control the largest part of the market, and they will - for a long time, maybe forever.  Actually, the latest figure I have seen from the industry is that ebooks make up about 12 percent of the publishing marketplace.  I have heard too many authors express fears that nobody wants to buy books printed on paper anymore.  That is just silly.  Most books sold in the U.S. today are books printed on actual paper, not ebooks.

5.  Even if ebooks end up being 80% of the market, at least half of those sales will probably come from traditionally published ebooks. So publishers will still control the majority of the market.  Most ebooks sold right now are books that are produced by publishers.  Yes, there are a lot of self-published ebooks out there, but without the backing of a publisher they largely go unnoticed.  Publishers still serve a function, even if a book is released as an ebook.

6.  Publishers have done really great things for a really long time. They aren't some big bad evil entity trying to kill literature or writers. They are companies, trying to make money in a bad economy with a lot of top-heavy business practices.  I have never understood why so many authors begrudge a publisher for trying to earn a profit.  If a publisher doesn't make money, they aren't going to publish more books.  More specifically, they aren't going to publish YOUR books if they don't make any money off of them.   Publishers, by and large, are not non-profit entities.  At the company I work for, authors can purchase their books from us at a 60 percent discount and resell them for full retail.  The authors make more money off the sale of their own books than we do.  But yes, we do still make some money on the books.  We wouldn't be in business if we didn't. 

7.  Nobody knows what makes one book a bestseller. Publishers and agents like to pretend they do, but if they did, they would only publish best sellers, and they don't.   This is absolutely correct. There is no secret formula for becoming a bestseller.  I can't tell you how to make your book a bestseller.  Nobody can.  Despite how many "bestseller courses", webinars, seminars or books you buy from people who tell you they can show you "the secret" to how to make your book a bestseller, there are no guarantees in the publishing industry.  The folks who sell these products can tell you how THEY became a bestseller, but nobody can tell you how YOU can become one, too.  I can help authors make their books profitable, but I can't guarantee any author bestseller status.

8.  I guess what I'm saying is that just because I sell a million books self-publishing, it doesn't mean everybody will. In fact, more people will sell less than 100 copies of their books self-publishing than will sell 10,000 books.  I personally cringe when an author tells me they expect to sell a million copies of their book.  It's not because I don't have faith in the author or their book, or because I don't think their book is good.  It's because I don't think most authors realize what it takes to sell 10,000 copies of their book, let alone one million copies.  Since Amazon began making the Kindle e-book available, only eight authors have sold more than a million ebooks, whether they were priced at 99 cents or $9.99.  That's right:  eight.  Concentrate on selling one book at a time, and if the market responds, you'll start to see the sales numbers grow, but don't expect to sell a million copies right out of the gate.

9.  But I just think everyone should be realistic about this. When J. K. Rowling became the world's first billionaire author, I didn't go, "Ha! I will publish now, now that I see an author can make that much money doing it."  Not only is J.K. Rowling the world's first billionaire author, I think she remains the ONLY billionaire author.  The cold, hard fact is this:  most authors will not become bestsellers, and most authors will not make a million dollars selling their books.  You can say this about any profession, really.  How many extremely talented musicians do you see playing at small clubs in your area, musicians that are really, really GOOD, maybe even great, who will never sell a million copies of their CD or make it to the top of the music charts?  The answer is, most of them.  But most don't do it for the money.  They do it for the love of their craft, and because they do have a fan base that they want to please.

10.  Most people who do it will not get rich, just like most authors signed up at Scholastic books aren't billionaires.  Traditional publishers are not evil any more than Amazon or Barnes & Noble are evil. Things are changing, hopefully for the better, but it is still hard work being a writer.   Notice once again that Amanda says "it's hard work being a writer."  She isn't just talking about the act of writing a book, but the whole process, including marketing and promotion.   It IS hard work, and no author will become successful without it.  That is why authors must sell books, attend book fairs, signings, speaking engagements, reach out to readers via social media and the myriad of other tasks that have nothing to do with writing if they hope to be successful. 

Amanda Hocking has probably taken the hardest road to success in the publishing industry.  She self-published her books, and she did everything on her own.  I know of only one other author who has achieved that kind of success without the backing of a publisher.  Whether an author is self-published or not, Amanda learned that the road to publishing success relies on a good book, hard work, lots of self-promotion, and just plain old luck.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Guest Post: Make The Best Use Of The Book Marketing Tools You Already Have Available

Make The Best Use Of The Book Marketing Tools You Already Have Available

By Lynnette Phillips

Writers aren't usually marketers. Writers want to write and marketing interferes with writing schedules; unfortunately, if want to make a living writing, getting your books seen and talked about is essential.
Make marketing less painful and time consuming. Here are a few tips for using tools you may have at hand.

  • The first marketing step you should have taken was to select and register a domain name for your website or blog. Your domain name not only identifies your site but also contributes to your author platform.
  • Use images and graphics to draw people into your 'store' (website). Post videos and book trailers, to help attract and hold visitors' interest.
  • Drive traffic to your blog from your social networks. Use your blog posts to share your views and expertise; connect with your audience.
  • When you title your blog posts be keyword conscious. Use a subtitle if necessary but keep the keywords upfront to be noticed. This, after all, is what the search engines use to find their results.
  • Make short stories you've written or excerpts of your book available on your site. This adds interest to your site and will increase traffic.
  • Instead of linking to a book vendor's main page from your blog or website, advertising for them, plug your book by linking directly to your author's page on the vendor's site. This will show all of your writing that is available on their site.
  • Keep your author's page on Amazon and elsewhere updated and current; take advantage of any marketing or promotional tools the book vendor makes available.
  • Link RSS feeds on your author's page. A RSS feed linking your blog to an author's page makes time spent on one blog post do double duty.
  • Link your blog to social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn giving you fresh content to share. There are some sites that can help you with this such as and
  • Place an events calendar on your website and be sure to post to the event calendars made available to you in places like Amazon's author page and GoodReads. Record the release of new titles, your book signings, speaking appearances, author readings and so on.
  • Keep your bio on your website and elsewhere up to date. Whatever else you include in your bio be sure to talk about your work and related activities.
  • Add the RSS feed from your blog to Yahoo
  • As a member of GoodReads you have tools available to you via their author program. GoodReads also has a widget available for your website that displays reviews of your work.
  • Ask for book recommendations and reviews from not only friends, family and colleagues but also from the general population on your social networks.
  • Social Media Networking should be second only to your website and blog as a marketing tool. If your blog posts are sent to Twitter, Facebook and other platforms via links or feeds you already have a presence.
  • Share links to your book reviews, articles and podcasts but don't be self-centered and only talk about yourself; sprinkle in tweets or recommended links to relevant or interesting articles, websites and podcasts to add value to your tweets and posts. One of the best ways to build relationships via social media is to link to or retweet posts of other followers; be generous.
  • Create an email signature that attaches to each email you send. It should be 3-4 Lines. You might want to include a line that links to your book for sale.
  • When you make a comment on a discussion board or blog don't forget to include the URL to your site with your signature.

About the Author: Lynnette Phillips offers Book Marketing services as both a Coach and Consultant and also Professional Editing services. She has authored several Book Marketing and Self-Publishing Guides. She also maintains two blogs Lynnette's Book World and Lynnette's Book Marketing. You may reach her by email at
(c) Copyright 2011 by Lynnette Phillips All Rights Reserved
Article may be reprinted freely as long as the author bylines and info box are included. The article itself may not be altered.

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

How to Market Christian Books to Churches

Since I work for a Christian publishing company, churches have always been an important marketing and promotional opportunity for our authors.  They can also be some of the most difficult venues at which to market and promote books, despite the message the books contain. 

Many authors with Christian books make the mistake of contacting every mega-church they can think of right out of the box.  After all, these churches have several thousand members in their congregation, so this is the perfect place to sell lots of books, right?  Well, not so fast.

First of all, while it is true that the mega-churches have large congregations and minister to thousands of people, most of them are pretty stringent when it comes to who they invite to come and speak and sell books to their flock, especially if you aren't a member of the church in the first place.  In fact, many of these places are more concerned with selling their own pastor's books, and outside books are not really welcome.  Other churches frown on selling anything of any kind in God's house at all.  The church I attend falls somewhere in the middle.  The bookstore only sells books written by the pastor, but they do have a nice coffee shop which sells an awesome caramel machiato. 

Christian authors can do a great job of reaching their book's niche, expanding their ministry and helping churches all at the same time.  It's all a matter of how they approach it.  Here are a few tips to get you started:

1.  Start with your own church.  If you are an active member of your church, talk to your pastor about speaking to the congregation about the topic of your book as a Bible lesson.  You could also propose that you teach a Bible class, with your book as part of the curriculum for the class, or take part in a retreat as a featured speaker. 

2.  Expand your ministry.  Once you have your foot in the door at your own church, ask for recommendations for other churches in your denomination or synod.  Offer to teach classes, speak and participate in various church ministries, with the teaching materials centered around your book.  This is a great way to spread your message.

3.  Work the phone.  It's a fact of life that churches get bombarded by sales people all the time, and they get a lot of junk mail pitching religious supplies, Bibles, pews, computer software and books.  If you simply mail a request to a church, chances are you won't get far.  Work the phone, find out who makes the decisions for scheduling classes and guest speakers at the church, and then contact that person and use your elevator pitch.  Explain how you can help the church, don't just ask for an opportunity to sell your books.

4.  Speaking of helping the church...  Offer to donate a portion of your book sales to the church, or a special fundraising project they currently have underway.  Donate a couple of copies of your book to the church library, or offer to stock a few books in the church bookstore on a consignment basis. 

5. It's all about the niche.  Churches are niche markets, too.  Just because you have a Christian book doesn't mean it is appropriate for all churches, especially if it goes against their doctrine.  For example, if your book is Pentecostal in nature, you won't have much luck pitching your presentation and book to a Lutheran church. 

For many Christian authors, their book is a key part of their ministry.  If you work with the churches and help them accomplish their mission the sales will follow. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Newspaper Book Reviewers on the Chopping Block

It's not just bookstores that are struggling in today's economy.  Newspapers are having a tough time of it, too.  As they look to cut costs, one of the positions they are putting on the chopping block is that of newspaper book reviewer. 

According to Publisher's Weekly, the L.A. Times gave the ax to all of their freelance book reviewers.  In addition, some long-standing book review columns will also be disappearing from the L.A. Times.  For authors who depend upon reviews from major newspapers to give their books a promotional boost, this comes as bad news.  It is also another sign of the times.   Newspapers are seeing less of a demand to dedicate valuable space to book reviews when readers can get that information online at places like, written by fellow readers. 

If you have been reading this blog for any length of time, then you already now that you don't have to depend upon the blessings of a review from a traditional major newspaper (although smaller local newspapers will still sometimes dedicate page space to book reviews and interviews with authors).  These days, there are a number of different places online where you can get your book reviewed, which we have mentioned here before. 

While this is bad news for book lovers who read the L.A. Times (and for the folks who last their jobs) it is a further reminder that authors need to work ahead of the curve and not be so dependent upon the traditional ways of promoting their books.  The days of hoping a newspaper will review your book and doing one or two hugely-attended book signing events at the biggest bookstore in town on your book's release date are over. 

Now, authors are doing blog tours, getting their books reviewed by readers on Facebook, doing interviews and book club appearances via Skype and conducting book signing events at local, well-attended fairs and festivals.  The successful authors are those who keep up with the changes in the marketplace. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Are Paper Books Dead?

Since the news broke that Borders is closing its remaining 399 stores and firing 11,000 employees, authors, publishers and many in the news media are asking the same question:  "Is the printed paper book dead?"

After all, Borders couldn't make a go of selling paper books, and lost market share to Barnes & Noble and Amazon, which sell their own ebook reading devices.  Then there is the news that ebooks are rapidly outselling hardcover books at Amazon.

Well, hold on.  There are a few pieces of information missing from the picture.  First, Borders didn't go bankrupt just because it was behind in the ebook game, although that was a contributing factor.  There were many other things at work here, including the very important fact that Borders had not turned a profit since 2006, prior to the explosion of the ebook market.  Borders made a number of bad business moves, and it would have gone out of business even if the ebook didn't exist.

Let's also examine more closely the fact that last year Amazon said it was selling more ebooks than hard cover books.  Well, exactly how many is that, exactly?  Amazon hasn't been forthcoming with exact numbers, but Business Insider took a stab at it.  The number they came up with (as of June 2010):  Amazon sold about 22 million Kindle ebooks last year.  That's the equivalent of about 6 percent of the total print book market.  A more recent figure from May 2011 shows that Amazon sells 105 Kindle ebooks for every 100 print books sold.  That's not 105 for every one print book sold.  That's a five percent advantage in favor of Kindle.

What Amazon doesn't say is this:  Amazon is not 100 percent of the total book market, they REALLY push the Kindle on their site and elsewhere, and the majority of ebooks sold are priced a lot cheaper than print books.  In some cases, Kindle ebooks are actually sold at a loss.  With that being the case, print books remain more profitable than ebooks overall.

So, are printed paper books dead?  I think the real, true answer is "Not right now, and not anytime soon."  One day, printed paper books might follow the path of vinyl record albums:  not as many people use them anymore, but they still use them.  For right now, the printed paper book is still holding its own, and I think it will be around for as long as people prefer to collect an actual physical copy of a paper book that they can hold in their hands and discover in their favorite bookstore. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Have You Really Done "Everything" to Market and Promote Your Book?

Sometimes, authors hit a brick wall when it comes to marketing and promoting their book.  "I have tried EVERYTHING to market my book," is a phrase they might use.

But, have they REALLY tried "everything?"  Probably not.  What they really mean is they aren't sure how to move forward.  The author may be out of ideas, may not know what the niche market for their book is or maybe they identified the wrong niche market for their book, which is actually common.  Sometimes, the niche market for your book isn't what you think it is. 

Many authors focus on bookstores at the expense of everything else.  With the recent closure announcement from Borders, we can see that bookstores are struggling, too.  Bookstores do sell books, and should be a part of every author's marketing strategy.  However, it shouldn't be the only place where authors try to promote their books. 

Here are a few ideas you may not have tried.  Or, if you have tried some of them, this list might serve as a launch point for you to come up with some other ideas you may not have considered.  In my experience, there is always something new you can try to promote your book.  Even if it doesn't work, at least you can say you tried it.

Contact local book clubs and offer to speak to them about your book.
Contact local schools and offer to do presentations about writing a book, being an author or the subject matter from your book.
Contact local day care providers (if you have a children's book) and offer to come in and read to the kids.  Send order forms a week prior to your appearance so parents can order your book.
Contact the local chamber of commerce and let them know you are available as a guest speaker.  
Contact your local visitors and convention bureau and let them know you are available as a guest speaker for any conventions or conferences coming up in your area.
Contact your local gyms and fitness centers (if you have a diet or fitness book) and offer to teach a free class (where you can sell your books).
Contact your local Kiwanis, Rotary and Lions clubs.  They are always looking for guest speakers.
Contact the organizers of local fairs and festivals and get a booth at their event where you can do readings and sign books.
Contact local museums (if you have a book which deals with history, especially local history).
Contact local public libraries and let them know you are available for signings, speaking engagements, and author events.  They may stock your book, but even if they don't you can usually sell your books at the events.
Join writers groups to network and take part in local author events.  These are not places to try to sell your books directly.  Other members are trying to sell their books, too.
Network on Facebook.  REALLY network (with readers).  Joining author pages and writing groups is fine, but they are made up of other authors trying to sell their books.  You should be trying to reach READERS in these groups.  

This is just a short list to help you brainstorm and get started.  Do you have other ideas not included in this list?  Post them in the comments section!  Thanks!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Guest Post: Harry Potter Just Made $476 Million – And How is YOUR Business Doing?

Call it what you will – the summer doldrums, the dog days of summer, the summertime blues. It really doesn’t matter what you call it, but most all of the statistics show that businesses slow down during the summertime.

Now, if you’re content to follow the crowd, by all means, feel free to follow suit. But, I certainly can’t run my business based on seasons of the year – and as a marketer and CEO, I can’t understand why other businesses would, unless they’re seasonal in nature. So, if you’re able to disagree with the crowd logic (or as I see it, “illogic”), then while everyone else is following the trend, you could be spending your time and energy transcending it.

But, don’t take my word for it. Just ask Dan Fellman, head of domestic distribution for Warner Brothers. Just last week, the latest Harry Potter film chalked up a record-breaking $476 million for its opening weekend. And, Warner Brothers is also spending advertising dollars promoting its summer 2012 blockbuster The Dark Knight Rises, the last chapter in director Christopher Nolan’s Batman film trilogy. The release of the trailer trended high on all the news search engines over the last two weeks, and according to some fans, added more reasons to see the Potter opening weekend debut.

Granted, summer loves the movie industry, but it’s not so much about the industry as it is about one glaring fact: people and businesses don’t stop spending money over the summer. So, in defense of summer, let me offer a few important reasons why now is the perfect time for a full-court promotional press.
  • People Still Spend Money - According to the U.S. Census Bureau, retail sales rose .01 percent in June, maintaining a 20-month streak of monthly increases in consumer spending. In fact, despite a lackluster recovery, the U.S. is barely .02 percent away from breaking the record for consumer spending in a single month. That’s not half bad for the summertime. And wait until they calculate a few hundred million dollars worth of movie ticket sales for July.
  • Opportunities Abound - While others are sitting back, you could capture the spotlight. One of the truisms about the media is that it never sleeps. It never takes a single day off. And, with iPads and smartphones enabling people to take the news with them, the media is more and more becoming a moveable feast. Consumers don’t have to be home anymore, listening to the radio or sitting in front of a TV, to receive your message when it’s delivered by the media. If things actually do slow down for your business during the summer, then factually, the only answer to turning them around IS promotion, promotion and more promotion.
  • Planning Smart - In the event that the summer isn’t a good time for you to promote, it is still a good time for you to prepare to promote. One of the pitfalls in promotion is that you don’t realize you need to do it until it’s too late, and then you’re constantly behind the 8 ball trying to get it done. You wind up behind schedule and you settle for something less than perfect because of the short timetable. Whether you are actively promoting or simply using the summer months to prepare to promote, one thing is for certain – summertime can be the most productive time of the year for your marketing effort.
The summer doesn’t have to be slow. It can be a time when you recharge your promotional efforts and move yourself forward. But feel free to take a break to go see Harry Potter, so you can see how the big boys use the summertime to do more than just take in a little sun.

Marsha Friedman launched EMSI Public Relations 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. Some of the more prominent names on her client roster are Sergeant’s Pet Care Products, Former National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane and the famous Motown Group, the Temptations.
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, Marsha is a mother of three and a grandmother who also raised one of her grandchildren. 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.

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