Book Marketing, Author Publicity, Branding

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Get Speaking Engagements: Straightforward Cold Calls That Work!

Get Speaking Engagements: Straightforward Cold Calls That Work

By Lily C Iatridis

Being invited to speak regularly is a wonderful place to be. You don't have to do the work anymore to get the speaking gig! But we're not all at that point all the time. And if you're not there, you mustn't be too picky about who accepts you as a guest speaker. Remember, even the local Rotary or Garden Club is perfectly acceptable when you're starting out.

It's important to get out there and leverage your time by speaking to groups.
So if you want to get regular speaking engagements, you've got to get on the phone and call people that don't know you. You have to promote yourself to people that may have no clue who you are.

Pretty uncomfortable, hey?
Well, here's how I've gone about finding my speaking engagements in the past, and it's worked well for me. I hope that it will do the same for you.

Know where you are.
In other words, get rid of the ego. I've heard complaints about speaking to groups while they're eating dinner, and I've done a few of those myself. Yes, it is distracting to speak amidst the sound of clinking glass and silverware with waiters crisscrossing the room in front of you. If you find situations like that truly horrible, then don't do it. But remember, you have to build your speaking resume somewhere, and as the old saying goes, "beggars can't be choosers." Taking the position that some groups aren't good enough for you is self-defeating, especially if your speaking calendar's not fully booked.

Prepare a "sales" letter and send it via email to the right contact person.
First, call the organization or research online to find the person who books speakers for the group. Then, write an email that describes the benefits of your message clearly, hits the emotional triggers of your target audience, and builds credibility around your work. When you send the letter, create an interesting subject line that will entice them to open your email.
There's a reasonable possibility that your email won't be opened. That's ok. You can reference the letter and it's contents briefly when you follow up with a phone call a few days later, which leads to the next step...

Follow up with a phone call!
Yes! Here's where that scary cold call comes in. Whether leaving a voice mail or if you're lucky and get a live person, deliver your five second intro. Then ask if their organization accepts guest speakers.
If you're leaving a voicemail, reference the letter you sent, repeat the primary benefit of your talk in less than 10 seconds. Close by repeating your name, company name, url and telephone number, and say you'll follow up again in a week.
If they don't accept speakers, ask for a suggestion on groups that do, thank them for their time, and move on to your next call.
Now, if you get a live person on the call and they do accept guest speakers, here's your opportunity to a) make a connection, b) do some relationship building, c) research your target market, and d) get on their speaking calendar. Take full advantage of this opportunity!
Remember: Have a conversation with the person on the other end. Do NOT dive into a monologue. Ever. First, ask if they have a few minutes to speak to you. If they're in the middle of a busy day and don't have time to speak, ask for a convenient time to call again, and call again at that time.

Get them talking about the problems you solve.
When you find someone who has the time to speak with you, get them talking about their or their members' problems your solution solves with questions. Wait and listen to their responses. Even if the topic gets a little off subject, that's ok because you're connecting and building rapport. Here's a little extra challenge for you- can you get them to laugh over something? Or laugh together over something?

Circle back to the speaking engagement.
Some local programmers want to meet you first before they commit. They want to get a feel for how good of a speaker you are. Go to one of their meetings and give a killer elevator pitch. A video of you giving a talk in front of an audience on your website would also be very useful.

Invite them to get better acquainted with you by joining your mailing list.
If the person on the other end can't commit to scheduling you right away, invite them to join your list to get better acquainted with you and your work. They almost always say yes. If they don't want to receive more subscriptions, that's perfectly understandable.
Hint to success: Never, ever act like you're personally hurt or disappointed by their response. Don't be attached to their "yes."
Most of the time, people that don't know you at all won't book you right away.

Follow up.
After the live conversation, send a personal email thanking them and giving instructions on how to subscribe to your list if they wish. For example, forewarn them to look out for the confirmation link email. If they decline the ezine subscription invitation, invite them to be your friend on Facebook.

Keep in touch.
Last but not least, keep a log of everyone you've called, when, and the response you received. If it's someone that has remained connected with you, try them again six months or a year into the future. Initial apprehension toward you as an unknown entity may have changed drastically for the better within a few months if you're good at marketing.
I've gotten some great clients and loyal followers that way! You can too. After all, you're in your business for the long haul, aren't you?

Lily Iatridis of Fearless Delivery, has a proven track record and knows the key elements in effective and engaging presentation. Her expertise is in supporting professionals to get their message expressed clearly to deliver the biggest results in their live and online presentations. Secrets and strategies such as "how-to" shortcuts, personalized instruction and even packaging the presentation are just some of the skill sets that Lily brings to her audience to create a fearless and effective delivery.

If you've ever been nervous in front of an audience, please visit and download Lily's free ebook, "5 Steps to Neutralize Difficult Audience Members- Without A Power Struggle!" In this ebook, Lily shares simple strategies that will put your mind at ease, arm you with useful strategies, and entertain you with some stories of her own bumps along the path to public speaking success.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How to Sell 100 Books Now

When it comes to generating sales, authors like to see immediate results.  What is more immediate than directly selling 100 books?  Why did I pick the number 100?  Well, other than being a good round number, it's a way of gauging the impact of your marketing efforts.  Find what specifically works for you and keep repeating it, and before you know it you have sold hundreds, if not thousands, of books.

I asked my fellow marketing reps to brainstorm with me and come up with a list of things that have helped our authors sell significant quantities of books.  They may not all work for you, but I encourage you to try each one.

  • Contact a local book club about your book, ask them to read your book as one of their selections and attend their end of the month meeting to discuss the book with the club.  Be sure to ask them if their friends might be interested in using your book for their book club too!
  • Contact a local nursery/day care/school/magnet school about presenting your book to their students.  Be sure to watch for any venues that host a story time event, ask them to read your book at their next story time.
  • Sign up for a community event or a festival to promote and expose your book to the community.  Be sure to let people know what types of events you are available for.  Speaking?  Story times?  Signings?  Presentations?
  • Contact your local Chamber of Commerce and let them know they have an author in town.  Ask them about any upcoming events.
  • Contact the local rotary club (or similar organization) about being their next Guest Speaker.  Ask them to sell books after your presentation.
  • Have a fitness/healthy living book?  Contact your local running groups or race expos about setting up a small table at their next event.
  • Schedule a blog tour, click here for more details!
  • Contact the local independently owned movie theater about selling books in their lobby on a Saturday afternoon.
  • Make 5 phone calls to decision makers regarding scheduling a speaking event.
  • Watch for any community newsletter or event programs that might spotlight your book.  Most events have a program that is distributed to event attendees, ask them to mention your book in the next program.
  • Have you considered doing an event at your bank/financial institution?  I have many authors who have done this and they have been successful!
  • Mailing out a card?  Be sure to place a promotional item for your book inside!
  • List the link to your book in our bookstore or your website link in your e-mail signature.
  • Have you contacted the local museum?  Be sure to ask them if you can sell your books in their gift shop.
  • Brainstorm on the organizations in your community that your book is a great fit for!  Examples:  Alumni group, MOPS, Rotary Club, FCA, Girl Scouts, YMCA, Boy Scouts, etc.  Contact your local chapter about attending their next event.
  • Have you contacted the local independently owned gift shops in your area about a book signing event?  Examples:  Cupcake shops, boutiques, gelato shops, ice cream shops, donut shops, barber shops, florists, specialty shops.  Start with the locations that have the highest foot traffic for more exposure.  Send me a list of 5 locations that you would like for us to contact for you!  I need their address and phone number.
  • Have a book trailer or an upcoming event?  Post it on all of your networking sites.  Be sure to set up an “event” on Facebook to invite people to your signing.  
  • Personally pursue your own pastor for a church signing, and donate a portion of the proceeds to the church. 
  •  Do events at private homes (sort of like a Tupperware party).  From marketing representative Jim Miller:  " One of my authors was the perfecter of this. She had a friend host a garden party for her and 10 other ladies. She told them the story of how the book got published, answered questions, and then sold a book to each person there. Then she said, “Who would like to host something like this and invite friends that I don’t know?” All 10 said yes. She asked that question at every party and went from house to house for 6 months. She also got 3 church speaking engagements and a radio interview out of it."
  • Contact your local media and follow up on media contacts made by your publisher/publicist.  Sometimes personal contact by the author makes a difference in getting an interview or coverage for your book.  Use these media opportunities to promote your upcoming book signing events.  

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Update Your Author Web Site!

I have discussed here previously how important it is for authors to have a web presence these days.  In particular, authors need a web siteA recent blog posted by Publishers Weekly underscores the importance of what I have been saying. 

Barbara Vey writes about authors on her blog, Beyond Her Book, on the Publishers Weekly web site, and she detailed a number of pet peeves she encounters when she visits author web sites.  Are you an author that doesn't have a web site?  You already lose major points with Vey. 

Some of her other complaints include:

An outdated web site, especially one that doesn't list the author's new releases.

A web site that doesn't offer the reader a way of purchasing a book.

A web site with no blog entries or other communication from the author.

A web site with no information about the author.

I'll also add a few more things I think an author web site should have:

An author photo.  Newspapers often contact me looking for an author photo if they can't find an author web site, or a photo of the author on the site.  When newspapers carry stories about an author, they want an author photo, along with the book cover photo.  Make it easy for them and have the photos available as downloads, along with copies of the press release for the book.

A schedule of author book signings.  I'm surprised that many authors overlook this, or don't keep their event schedule up-to-date.

A sample chapter or two of the book.  If your book is already listed at Google Books and has a preview, just post a link so potential readers can browse your book.  

Vey says it best in her blog post:  "To me, being an author is a business and as a business you need people to see the product.  What’s available and what’s coming up at the very least. It doesn’t have to be fancy.  No need for video or anything flashy.  Just something that says I take my job seriously and here’s why you should read my work."


Friday, January 7, 2011

Guest Post: Selling Books By Giving Back

Selling Books by Giving Back

Selling Books by Giving Back

By Irene Watson

Promoting a book to make money doesn't mean you can't be human or caring. By giving back to the community, authors create positive images of themselves and get their faces and books in front of people who otherwise might not be interested in or ever hear about their books. Selling yourself by helping a good cause will not only help you to sell books, but in the end, you will feel good about yourself and feel more connected to your community and the world at large. You might also have some great experiences that will inspire your future books.
While you could go work in a soup kitchen or just donate money, authors can find ways to contribute to their communities that also will help to promote their books. Following are just six of hundreds of possibilities for how authors can give back:
  • Visiting Senior Citizen Centers and Assisted Living Homes. Senior citizens represent a large portion of the reading public, largely because they have more time to read. They also appreciate visitors and interacting with others, and they are likely to tell all their friends and family members, who include children, grandchildren, great-nieces and nephews, in-laws, and cousins, about a book they like. In other words, senior citizens have a lot of connections and can provide great word-of-mouth referrals for your book. Especially if you are writing about history, healthcare, or topics especially of interest to seniors, you might find a group of seniors to be the perfect audience for your book and your message. Many senior centers, assisted living, nursing, and veterans' homes have reading groups and book clubs, and they are always looking for ideas for event planning. Authors might choose to volunteer to read to seniors at these facilities once a week or month, or simply visit and give a talk about their books. During the visit, be sure to pass out cards or book markers; seniors may not always have the best memories and might not remember your name, but if your book interests them, they will show books they buy or book markers to their visitors and tell them about your book. Seniors also enjoy engaging in the discussions, and if authors are willing to listen, they will have great stories to tell-material for future books.

  • Speaking at Career Day Events for Students. Budding young writers are everywhere, and offering to speak to high school students or college freshman at career day events, or participating in events like Young Authors, can be a great way to give back to your community and provide the encouragement needed that you received or wish you had received as an aspiring young author. Besides speaking to aspiring writers, authors who have written non-fiction books might wish to speak to future historians, doctors, businessmen, or other groups of students whose field of study is relevant to their books' topics. While students don't typically have a lot of money to buy books, that doesn't mean they won't remember the encouragement you gave them and buy your books when they are older, and they might also tell their parents about your books or ask for them for their birthdays or holidays. Best of all, authors will be planting a seed in young people so that new "keepers of the flame" are born to carry on the gift of writing and storytelling.

  • Public Radio and Public TV fundraisers. Public Radio and Public TV stations love to offer gifts to their listeners and viewers as incentives for donating to their stations. While your book may only cost $25, viewers who give the station $100 might receive it free with their donations, which sells a book for you and helps out the station so it can afford to buy more programming to enrich people's lives. These stations will want to buy your book at a discount, usually equivalent to what bookstores desire, such as 40 percent. You may not sell a lot of books or make a lot of money directly through this venue, although some authors have done very well this way, but it is a great way to advertise for your book, and while all the viewers might not donate the amount needed to get the free book, you can bet many will buy the book at regular price at bookstores or online. In addition, you'll now have media contacts at the station who might invite you back when your next book comes out, or interview you, or recommend you to other stations. Some authors have even had local PBS stations make films out of their books if their books are of local interest to their viewing audience.

  • Donating Books. Donating a book may seem like a financial loss, but it can result in publicity that helps sell books, and again, it provides a benefit to an organization. Many libraries that receive donated books from authors have connections with the local media and will take a photo of the author donating the book for their newsletters or even the community spotlight sections of local newspapers-great publicity in exchange for one donated book.
Donating books as raffle prizes can also be effective. For example, if your book is donated for a church bazaar's raffle, everyone who buys a raffle ticket may see it listed as one of the prizes. That could be hundreds of people who see your book title, and while only one person might win the donated book, several others might decide to purchase the book for themselves.
Benefit dinners are another great place to donate books. Communities are always hosting spaghetti dinners and other events to raise money for people who have cancer, leukemia, or other health conditions that result in large medical bills. Donating a book to help with a raffle or auction at one of these events will not only help you get public attention, but it may help raise money that could save a life.
  • Promoting Literacy. As authors, we love to read. But can you imagine not being able to read, or not having books to read? Illiteracy is a major problem from which poverty, prejudice, and many other social ills stem simply because people cannot read, and therefore, cannot be informed or educated. Multiple ways exist for authors to help with literacy.
Visit schools and talk to children about the importance of reading or make an author visit and read your children's book to them to get them excited about reading. Volunteer your time to help students by tutoring or helping them with a workshop. Tell children about your own experiences as a writer. Get them excited about the world that will open up to them once they are able to read. Explain to them how reading and writing are important for almost every job out there today.
Don't forget adult-education programs where you may find more people interested in your book. If your topic interests them, your book could be a stepping-stone for them in learning to read.
I know of one author who got a grant to offer a workshop where she'll help at-risk teens write and publish their own books. She's found editors and book printers who have agreed to donate time or print books at cost to help these students publish their books, which will give them the confidence that if they can write a book, they can achieve anything they want in life.
  • Donate a Dollar for Every Book Sold. Many authors have donated a dollar for every book sold to a charity or cause that is important to them. This situation is especially true with non-fiction books. A book about Alzheimer's might result in a dollar per book sold going to the Alzheimer's Association of America. A children's book author might donate a dollar per book to causes that promote literacy. A wildlife book might result in one dollar for every book sold going to the American Humane Society. Beyond sharing their profits, authors are likely to sell more books, the volume of sales thereby making up for the loss of profit per book. Furthermore, you can speak at conventions for these causes or sign books at conferences. People are more willing to part with their money when they feel it will go to a good cause and they'll getting something for it, like a good book.
Many ways exist for authors to give back to their communities. Whether or not these avenues result in more books being sold, authors will come away feeling good about themselves and knowing they've made a difference, the results of which can never be measured or underestimated.
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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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Why Isn't My Book Stocked at a Grocery Store?

We have already discussed how difficult it is for a new author to have their book stocked in a bookstore.  With more than a million titles printed last year, ebooks becoming more popular and bookstores facing tough times, bookstores just aren't very willing to "take a chance" on a new author anymore.  As difficult as it is to have a title picked up by a bookstore, it is even more difficult to get a book stocked by a grocery store, pharmacy, Wal-Mart, Costco, etc. 

A couple of days ago I was at our local grocery store to pick up some food, and I personally took the picture posted at the beginning of this article.  This is the actual book display at our grocery store.  Do you notice anything that stands out in this photo?

If you answered "all of these books are bestsellers, or written by bestselling authors," you would be absolutely correct.  There were no books by new, unknown authors stocked at the grocery store.  They will only stock bestselling books, or books written by bestselling authors.  The grocery store wants to sell books that they have a reasonable expectation will sell, and sell quickly.  If a title is by a relatively new, unknown local author, the grocery store manager (or more likely, the book distributor for the grocery store)  has no idea how the book will sell.  They are taking a risk by agreeing to stock it, and in these economic times, nobody is willing to take much of a risk. 

The same goes for the big box pharmacies such as Walgreens or CVS, or the big box stores like Wal-Mart, Sam's Club or Costco.  These stores buy in large volumes only, think thousands and thousands of books.  They get the books at steep discounts from wholesalers, and they only get books that they have a pretty good idea will sell quickly.  These stores will not let stock sit on their shelves for long.  If the book, or any other item in their store, doesn't sell then it is going to get yanked from the shelves and sent back to the publisher or manufacturer.

With this being said, I have had authors who have sold books in these venues, but their book was not stocked by the stores.  Instead, they did a local book signing event in their area on a consignment basis.  That means the author had to bring their own books to sell.  The author got exposed to hundreds of shoppers the day of their event.  The store looked good because they were seen as supporting a local author.  However, these events are few and far between.

In order to one day see your book actually stocked on the shelves of these venues, it has to become a good seller first.  That means doing the legwork at smaller, local events, reaching out to your niche audience, attending book fairs and festivals, doing speaking engagements, etc.  Trying to get a book stocked by one of these stores before the author or the title has developed any kind of sales history first is like trying to bake a cake while skipping the first five steps of a recipe.  Those efforts will fall flat.   There are always exceptions, of course, but that is just what they are, exceptions.  They don't happen often.

Develop a plan to start locally first, and then expand from there.  Remember, every author has to start somewhere, but more likely than not, that won't be in a Wal-mart or Costco store.  

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