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The BEST book marketing tool? A REALLY good book

I conducted a basic book design workshop a few days ago. The attendees were diverse, but each one a novice to the design/layout/typesetting aspect of getting a book into print. Several have been attending the Meetup group I facilitate: Phoenix Publishing and Book Promotion. In spite of having attended the group for a while and the fact that we have been exclusively focused on the marketing for a good 3 months now, one of the gals asked: “How do I market my book? Where do I begin?”

Make a really good book!

Make a really good book!

That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? How do I find readers for my book, now that it’s written and I’m getting ready to print a few copies? I have said again and again – in this blog and at our Meetups – that you’re shooting yourself in the foot if you wait until your book is done to begin marketing it. However, that’s certainly the situation in which some authors find themselves.

So their goal, more often than not, is to build a platform from scratch. How do you do it? There’s no cut-and-dried answer. If you look at this list, there are dozens of ways to sell and market your book. Where should you begin? Should you attempt to do all of them? Let’s take the second answer first: OF COURSE NOT! As for beginning, you should begin wherever it makes sense for you to begin. First, who are your prospective readers, specifically? Then, what can you do to begin connecting with and developing relationships with those readers?

If you already have a Facebook following in the thousands, that might be the place to start. If you’re already dabbling at  blogging, maybe begin to tailor your posts to be about your book – or start a new blog. If you’ve got access to the media or are good at writing media releases, perhaps that’s a good place for you to begin. It’s going to be different for each author. Perhaps you want to start with reviews or a blog tour. Read the archives of this blog – we’ve covered hundreds of ways to begin building your platform.

However, before you begin looking
to external means to market your book,
make the best book you can possibly make.

This means you’re not taking shortcuts.

  • You’re writing a complete book with a fantastic story or compelling content.
  • It’s ordered in a way that makes sense and has an appealing design.
  • You’ve had it professionally edited and had a professional design the cover for you.
  • You’ve SpellChecked and double-checked every URL and phone number.
  • You have appropriate headers, footers, page numbers, and a Table of Contents.
  • You paid as much attention to the back cover and the spine as you did to the front cover.
  • You have a legitimate ISBN which you bought and belongs to you (not one from someone selling off ISBNs from their own set of 10).
  • You have created a publishing company, and your book bears your publisher’s mark on the spine.

This is a book that will run rings around the vast majority of the rest of the self-published books out there. And once you know you’ve got a good book on your hands, it becomes that much easier to share it with people, create buzz around it, and channel your marketing efforts into a sizable platform of fans who are willing to help you market because they are so excited about your book.

Here’s to a your great marketing success!

Laura

__________________

PHOENIX-AREA BOOK LOVERS: Come out to meet me and 30+ other local authors for this one-of-a-kind book lovers’ event. Several Summer Author Eventfirst-time authors, award-winning authors, and authors of a wide variety of genres will be on hand to sell and sign books. Genres of all sorts – from fiction to spirituality to leadership to personal finance. The first 100 attendees to register will receive goody bags! Giveaways on the half-hour. Learn more and get your complimentary ticket at SummerAuthorEvent.com.

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

 

 

Side-by-side comparison of self-publishing infographics

Just came across the infographic below on the left and was struck by two things: (1) the subtitle and (2) the fact that marketing is plunked in as the very last item.

The subtitle reads: “this is how self-publishing a book [is] done right from scratch.” I could not disagree more. The advice in this infographic is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! The problem is the fact that marketing is plunked in as the very last step in the process. How can a company that describes itself as “having its humble beginning as an online marketing service provider” miss the boat so completely?

I created the infographic on the right a couple years ago to make the precise point that a successful book MARKETING campaign must begin as soon as you start writing. If you wait to begin marketing your book until you’ve got a thousand copies of it taking up the space where your car should be in your garage, you’ve set yourself up for a massively uphill battle.

Smart authors:

  • Clearly define and identify their audience before they begin writing
  • Begin building their platform, using social media, email marketing, news releases, blogging, etc., as soon as they know they are writing a book
  • Design and launch their website long before the book is in print
  • Know where their prospective readers congregate and how to reach them (e.g., social media, Meetups, civic and social organizations, etc.)
  • Develop a relationship with their prospective readers, so that they are eagerly anticipating the books’s release
  • Identify an inner circle of close allies who will help them promote the book’s release

No matter how good it might be, your book is not going to sell itself. If you want more people than your mom and your best friend to buy it and read it, you have to embrace the role of book marketer. If you’re in the early stages of writing or publishing your book, the time to begin marketing it is NOW! But it’s never too late to begin. Explore your marketing options, make a plan, and begin. Wherever you are – BEGIN.

how to self-pub

Here’s to a your marketing success!

Laura

__________________

PHOENIX-AREA BOOK LOVERS: Come out to meet me and 30+ other local authors for this one-of-a-kind book lovers’ event. Several Summer Author Eventfirst-time authors, award-winning authors, and authors of a wide variety of genres will be on hand to sell and sign books. Genres of all sorts – from fiction to spirituality to leadership to personal finance. The first 100 attendees to register will receive goody bags! Giveaways on the half-hour. Learn more and get your complimentary ticket at SummerAuthorEvent.com.

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

 

 

20 marketing questions a smart self-publishing author must answer20 marketing questions every smart self-publisher must ask

Beth Bacon wrote a fantastic post for DigitalBookWorld.com that inspired this infographic. In the interest of not stealing it word for word, I’ve used her concepts but reworded them. Do yourself a favor and read Bacon’s whole post here.

While Bacon suggests that these tips are directed to novelists, I believe they’re equally applicable to nonfiction authors; simply substitute “readers” for “fans.”

While I think all 20 of the questions are important, I’d suggest paying particular attention to:

Question 6 about your book cover – does it fit the mold for your particular genre?

Question 9 about how much time you can realistically commit to marketing your book. The best book in the world isn’t going to sell itself – it will require a marketing plan and the effort to implement it. But it doesn’t have to be all at once. Even a little effort a day, consistently, can make a big difference.

Question 19 about having other authors in your support network. Do you? How supportive are you of them and they of you?

Here’s to a your great marketing success!

Laura

* http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/opportunity-cost.html

__________________

PHOENIX-AREA BOOK LOVERS: Come out to meet me and 30+ other local authors for this one-of-a-kind book lovers’ event. Several Summer Author Eventfirst-time authors, award-winning authors, and authors of a wide variety of genres will be on hand to sell and sign books. Genres of all sorts – from fiction to spirituality to leadership to personal finance. The first 100 attendees to register will receive goody bags! Giveaways on the half-hour. Learn more and get your complimentary ticket at SummerAuthorEvent.com.

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

 

 

Targeted email marketing works better than generic blasts

Saw the infographic below on Pinterest the other day about the difference between generic email marketing and email marketing designed to generate leads.

Lead_Nurturing_vs_Email_Marketing

Then I had the perfect opportunity to put this concept into practice. A couple years ago, I had a gal approach me about helping to market her book of lessons about love, leadership, and legacy based on the teachings of Harriet Tubman. She didn’t elect to work with me at the time, but we agreed to stay in touch. Well guess what I saw on Facebook yesterday? This post about the anniversary of Harriet Tubman’s passing. So I dropped Karol a little note with a screen shot from my Facebook page:

HT birthday

All the note said was, “Thinking of you today.”

Now, I can see how authors might think this couldn’t possibly apply to them. You’re trying to sell books to a wide audience, right? How’s a one-on-one message going to work for you? I’m here to challenge that thinking a little bit.

First of all, who are some of the individuals it might benefit you to get in front of?

  • Managers of potential book signing venues (coffeehouses, hospitals, care homes, indie book shops, etc.)
  • Your local librarians
  • Folks who run civic, business, and nonprofit organizations in your community
  • Meetup organizers
  • Event planners

And if you were approaching any of these people, which do you think they’d prefer to receive:

(a) a generic email pitching your book/services/speaking to any and all who happen to be on your list

(b) a personalized email, tailored to the individual about a specific aspect of your book, way you can meet one of their stated needs, or simply an introduction

I’m no wizard with a crystal ball, but my strong guess is that Option B would have much greater resonance and impact on  your prospect. And that’s what these folks are: prospects. My friend Connie Kadansky, a fantastic sales coach and trainer, recently reminded my women’s networking group about something very important:

You are not just an author; you are a lead-generation specialist who happens to have written a book about ___.

When you learn to think beyond individual book sales, your influence and success will grow exponentially. This is true even for fiction authors. So how will you apply a tailored marketing approach to your book marketing plan?

Here’s to a your great marketing success!

Laura

__________________

PHOENIX-AREA BOOK LOVERS: Come out to meet me and 30+ other local authors for this one-of-a-kind book lovers’ event. Several Summer Author Eventfirst-time authors, award-winning authors, and authors of a wide variety of genres will be on hand to sell and sign books. Genres of all sorts – from fiction to spirituality to leadership to personal finance. The first 100 attendees to register will receive goody bags! Giveaways on the half-hour. Learn more and get your complimentary ticket at SummerAuthorEvent.com.

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

 

 

Are you getting your money’s worth for your marketing dollars?

Sometimes it’s challenging to know whether the very tempting marketing opportunities we come across are really worth the money. Take for instance the email I received from a client in Trinidad. She’s about to release her second book – its primary audience will be Western European and American businesspeople.

Here is her message, in its entirety:

What do you think about this for my book?

Frankfurt

The fact is, this is a tempting offer. The Frankfurt Book Fair is one of the top book events in the world! Which author wouldn’t want to take such an opportunity?

But is it really all the opportunity it seems at first glance? Here’s how I responded to my client’s query:

That is one of the THE top book fairs in the world, so it might be a good idea. However, here’ s what a book fair like that looks like:

Now imagine having a small pile of your books on one table. That’s the effect it would likely have. It might make a bit of a difference if you were listed in the directory, too – but the directory is about 400 pages long, so again, you’d have one line in the middle of all of that.

The biggest thing it might do for you is give you the credibility of being able to say your book was at the Frankfurt Book Fair, but I think there are probably better ways to spend your money.

Just my thoughts…

For someone with a bottomless marketing budget, throwing anything at the wall to see what sticks might be a workable strategy. For most authors, however, their marketing budgets are an important consideration when making decisions about strategy, tools, and opportunities. It’s crucial that before you plunk down your dollars, you give serious consideration to something known as the “opportunity costs.” Opportunity cost is defined as “a benefit, profit, or value of something that must be given up to acquire or achieve something else. Since every resource (e.g., land, money, time, etc.) can be put to alternative uses, every action, choice, or decision has an associated opportunity cost. … Such costs are not recorded in the account books but are recognized in decision-making by computing the cash outlays and their resulting profit or loss.”*

The challenge when it comes to book marketing is that every book is a little bit different, sometimes making it difficult to measure your book marketing ROI. What worked for one self-help book will not necessarily work for another self-help book. What worked for one author’s first novel will not necessarily work for the same author’s third or fourth novel. Sometimes analyzing opportunity costs is a trial-and-error process. Sometimes, though, it’s just a matter of asking the right questions of the right people.

Be sure to do your own due diligence before investing your marketing bucks. Be smart – don’t invest your car payment on a marketing gamble. Make a realistic marketing budget and stick to it. Know what your goal is, and how you will measure your success in achieving it. Sometimes it’s book sales; other times, it’s simply exposure for you, your book, or your business.

It’s possible that even the most promising opportunities will fall flat. Take those as learning opportunities. Maybe all that’s necessary is a little tweak in your strategy. Maybe you’ve misdirected your campaign. Maybe you failed to include a compelling call to action. Maybe it was just bad timing. Don’t get disheartened. When you do find something that works, do more of it!

Here’s to a your great marketing success!

Laura

* http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/opportunity-cost.html

__________________

PHOENIX-AREA BOOK LOVERS: Come out to meet me and 30+ other local authors for this one-of-a-kind book lovers’ event. Several Summer Author Eventfirst-time authors, award-winning authors, and authors of a wide variety of genres will be on hand to sell and sign books. Genres of all sorts – from fiction to spirituality to leadership to personal finance. The first 100 attendees to register will receive goody bags! Giveaways on the half-hour. Learn more and get your complimentary ticket at SummerAuthorEvent.com.

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

 

 

15 Books about Fireworks to Celebrate Independence Day

 

Thinking about naming your new patriotic book Fireworks? I wouldn’t if I were you – not if your goal is to be original. In my Amazon search tonight for fireworks, 3,320 titles came up. The following are a selection of these titles. Please understand, I am not endorsing them, as I have never read any of them. I chose them based on covers I liked, titles that intrigued me, and just plain ol’ strangeness. The descriptions are direct quotes from their Amazon write-ups or published reviews. Think some of them may be telling about the quality?


 

1Fireworks, by George Plimpton. I first read this book while sitting in the office of our fireworks shop in NJ. I got about 12 pages in and realized that Mr. Plimpton knew the fellow I was working for. When I questioned my boss about this, he said ‘George? Hell, he used to come down and shoot with us – he loves fireworks’. Unfortunately he had passed on before I read the book, it would have been interesting to shoot a show with him. However the stories and information in the book show how taken he was with the craft of fireworks. For the casual fireworks fan, or for the dedicated pyrotechnician, you will find this book most enjoyable. 


2Fireworks Fiasco: A Very Smell 4th of July, by PJ Ryan. Rebekah, RJ and Mouse are very excited because they are all going to celebrate the Fourth of July together. There will be great food, a pet parade and a fireworks display that’s about to get VERY interesting after they put there heads together to come up with a magnificent prank that is sure to surprise everyone.

 

 


3Fireworks, by RaeAnne Thayne. Rachel Lawrence hasn’t been back to Wyoming since her husband died fighting a brush fire, but if seeing her beloved nephews again means facing rancher Sam Wyatt and the guilt she still feels, she’s willing to take the risk. Sam has plenty of his own guilt. He walked away from fighting fires and built a comfortable life on the ranch for him and his sons in Whiskey Creek. The last thing he needs is for Rachel to come back with her green eyes, her long legs and the smile he’s never been able to forget. 

 


4Fireworks over Toccoa, by Jeffrey Stepakoff. An unexpected discovery takes 84-year-old Lily Davis Woodward to 1945, and the five days that forever changed her life. Married for only a week before her husband was sent to fight in WWII, Lily is anxious for his return, and the chance to begin their life together. In honor of the soldiers’ homecoming, the small Georgia town of Toccoa plans a big celebration. And Jake Russo, a handsome Italian immigrant, also back from war, is responsible for the elaborate fireworks display the town commissioned.

 

 


5Destiny Center Success Journal – Fireworks, by Diane Wigstone. Congratulations on taking your next step towards a new you! Your purchase of this Journal means that you are serious about making some changes in your life and becoming all that God created you to be! [NO idea what the fireworks have to do with your success or God...] 

 

 


6Quackers and the Fireworks, by Candace Hughes. This sweet little duck is back for adventure! This time around he celebrates the 4th of July with his best buddy Nickolas. Nickolas helps Quackers with his fear of fireworks so they can both enjoy the celebration together. [Wondering, just a little, why the namesake duck doesn't seem to make an appearance on the cover...] 

 


7The Firework-Maker’s Daughter, by Philip Pullman. Lila dreams to become a firework-maker, just like her father. In order to become a true firework-maker, she sets off alone on a perilous journey to reach the terrifying Fire-Fiend. She travels through jungles alive with crocodiles, snakes, monkeys and pirates, and climbs up the scolding volcano. 

 


8Faith, Fireworks and Fir, by Pam Andrews Hanson. David Maxwell is on a mission. He’s come to Evergreen, Michigan to persuade his beloved elderly aunts, Carrie and Cora, to give up their bed and breakfast and retire to Phoenix to be closer to him. His aunts have no intention of retiring and enlist Faith Turner, who manages a year-round Christmas store, to persuade their nephew to change his mind. 

 


9Fireworks on the 4th, by CR Hiatt. WARNING: The exploits of the sleuthing duo of McSwain & Beck are not fanciful fairy tales, or made for TV love stories. Though the series is fiction, the crimes depicted are straight from the headline-type stories, developed from interviews with big city and small town detectives. The situations are real. Ruthless corruption is real, and the perpetrators and victims are getting younger. 

 


10Fireworks: Nine Profane Pieces, by Angela Carter. In Fireworks, Angela Carter manages to tell stories dealing with Japan, medieval torture tactics, incest, gender-bending, and mirrors (LOTS of mirrors). 

 

 

 


11Selling Fireworks for Profit! “I Made Over $40,000 in 16 Days,” by Will West. [Sure you did.] If you’ve ever wondered about Selling Fireworks for yourself, your business or a non-profit group or charity, this books is an introduction to the business and the best way to make money selling fireworks. You’ll learn about the business and what it takes to sell fireworks.

 

 

 


12Fireworks and Darkness, by Natalie Jane Prior. The temperature in the room dropped, like the bitter cold before a storm, and the smell of magic gathered like a mist. Then the windows rattled, the floor shook and the paper stars and firework cases and all the trumpery tackle of Casimir’s trade suddenly lifted off the shelves and whirled around him in a blinding, stinging storm… Simeon Runciman is a firework maker who used to be a dark magician; a difficult man with a dangerous past. His son, Casimir, has always known part of the truth about him. 

 


13Fireworks at Dusk: Paris in the Thirties, by Olivier Bernier, portrait of Paris during the 1930s. Among the characters featured are some of the best-known names of the period – artists, writers, designers, party-givers and political figures, including Elsa Maxwell, Picasso, Dali, Gide, Cocteau, Schiaparelli and Pierre Laval. 

 

 


14Summer, Fireworks, and My Corpse, by Otsuichi. Summer is a simple story of a nine-year-old girl who dies while on summer vacation. While her youthful killers try to hide the her body, she tells us the story – from the POV of her dead body – of the boys’ attempt to get away murder.  

 

 


15Katy Perry: A Life of Fireworks, by Chloe Govan. How Katy made her transformation from demure choir girl to sexy household name. Accounts of the conflict Katy had growing up with a deeply religious minister as a father and her penchant for skimpy attention-grabbing outfits and subversive lyrics. Details the story of her ill-fated early career, including an early gospel album released by a small record company which went bankrupt soon afterward. Her eventual rise to fame and her controversial first chart-topping single “I Kissed A Girl,” her bisexual affair and the struggle Katy faced between her sexuality and her religious background. Exclusive stories revealing the making of her albums. Tales of the love affair and marriage to notorious television presenter Russell Brand.

Wishing all of Marcie’s American readers a happy, fireworky 4th!

Laura

__________________ Summer Author Event PHOENIX-AREA AUTHORS: If you or someone you know is an author in Phoenix, please consider participating in the Summer Author Event on August 16. This multi-author book signing and meet-and-greet will put you in front of hundreds of readers in a casual environment where you can sell and sign books. There are three levels of participation. The first 100 attendees will receive goody bags – and for just $25, you can put a promo for your book into the goody bags!  Learn more or register at SummerAuthorEvent.com.

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

 

 

Goals are good, but they need to be REALISTIC

I always try to listen when the same question or lesson shows up in quick succession. Today’s was about realistic goals.

goals

At the end of July, I am hosting a live workshop in Phoenix: Learn to Design Your Book. Here’s the description of the event:

You’ve got the manuscript finished – now it’s time to actually make it look like a book so you can send it to the printer. But where to begin?

If you’re lost at this point, this workshop is for you!

We will cover:

• Book sizes
• Cover design
• Parts of a book
• Incorporating graphic elements
• Fonts
• Chapter headings
• Headers/footers/page numbers

If all that’s keeping you from getting your book printed is knowing how to lay it out, we’ll get you over that hurdle with this workshop. Bring your laptop, your final manuscript in a Word document, and a JPG of your cover if you have one – and come prepared to work!

Of course, this is an elementary workshop and will work best for fiction and simple nonfiction books without a lot of complicated graphics or design elements (e.g., columns, photos with captions, decorative margins, etc).

The most important part, perhaps, is the last section, explaining that this is an elementary workshop.

Today I received the following query about the event:

I have finished my second novel and received it from my editor. My cover guy is doing the cover this week. The document is 90% formatted for ebook and print. Last book I sent to Createspace for formatting and they did I great job.

I am not going to learn InDesign and yet want the final books to look good.

THE QUESTION: Will this one day session teach me to use InDEsign, Scriviner, Calibre, Sigil or ? to do the formatting?

WILL I LEAVE HAVING A CREATESPACE READY DOCUMENT? (spellings and all-caps as included in the email)

Please advise.
The expectations here are so grandiose that I was initially at a loss as to how to respond. First he’s not going to learn InDesign – but he wants to know if I am planning to teach InDesign in a four-hour workshop. Only a true savant would walk away from this session fully proficient at laying out a book. That’s not the goal. Between the workshop, the workbook, and an investment of time and energy, students should have a pretty clear grasp of how to get their book formatted for print. Here is my response:
What you leave the day with will depend on your own learning curve. More than likely I will use Scrivener, as they offer a 30-day free trial and their $40 price point is a low barrier to entry. It would be a fool’s errand to try to teach InDesign in a four-hour session.

I suspect you will be well on your way to a finished product, but this kind of work usually takes practice, refinement, and several passes before you’ll be ready to print to PDF and send it off to the printer. I might adjust my expectations or skip it altogether if I were you.

Next, I received a query about the Summer Author Event, a multi-author book-signing event I am hosting later this summer:

I am interested in attending the Summer Author Event (as an author of course) and I was curious what your previous attendance numbers were for this? I am JUST starting out (just had my first signing last Saturday) and and I just need to figure out could I expect after paying to get in to make that back and get more readers for my book.  

This author definitely has more realistic goals, but even he may have misplaced his focus. Here’s my response:

This is the inaugural event, so I can’t give you numbers. We will have nearly 30 authors participating, though. My goal is for each to do some marketing so we can bring in at least 300 attendees. As with many things related to book marketing, I personally believe it’s a bit short-sighted to focus exclusively on sales. For one thing, the quality of your book and your own ability to engage attendees will factor into sales, neither of which I have any input in.

And yes, you’d like to make your money back and then some, but even if you don’t, you will gain exposure, experience, and get to meet lots of other authors in the process. I will be sending out media releases and making postcards with every participating author on them. Would love to have you involved. We have about 4 tables left at this time.

This author thanked me for my fair response. I never heard back from the first guy.

Self-publishing is not for the weak-hearted. And it’s really important to have big goals – even a goal to write and publish a best-seller! But you’ve got to be willing to work to achieve those goals, often at the expense of other things. You need a plan, a system for implementing and adhering to the plan, and the commitment to see it through. If the plan appears stalled, you may want to rethink the plan.

What you can’t do is expect to achieve a best-seller with no effort - or having a completely laid out book on your first run-through. Is it time for you to revisit your goals to see where they fall on the realism scale, from certainty to pie-in-the-sky? Revising your goals to make them more realistic is not copping out – it’s advancing them to increase the likelihood of actually achieving them!

Here’s to a setting and achieving realistic goals!

Laura

__________________ Summer Author Event PHOENIX-AREA AUTHORS: If you or someone you know is an author in Phoenix, please consider participating in the Summer Author Event on August 16. This multi-author book signing and meet-and-greet will put you in front of hundreds of readers in a casual environment where you can sell and sign books. There are three levels of participation. The first 100 attendees will receive goody bags – and for just $25, you can put a promo for your book into the goody bags!  Learn more or register at SummerAuthorEvent.com.

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

 

 

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