Archive for July, 2010

Readers buy Authors, not Publishers

We know that having a  little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Sometimes we get some information and think we know what we need to know about a topic. Unfortunately, that’s seldom the case.

People new to the book publishing world think the author writes the book, so the publisher should market the books. Reality is the author writes the book, the publisher publishes the book, and the reader buys the book based on one of two things–the content or the author’s reputation (both of which are author-driven, not publisher-driven).

Whether you’re published by a royalty publisher who purchases your intellectual property (which means you no longer own it) or you pay for publication (which means you own your books and the profits from sales are yours), the marketing of your book is up to you.

When new authors hear about huge cash advances or thousands of copies of a title sold, they envision the same success for their own book. Publishers, if they throw any marketing effort at your book at all, will only invest marketing money in authors who prove they can create demand for their books.

That’s why you see authors all over the media. That’s why you see authors making in-person appearances. That’s why you see authors hiring public relations consultants. That’s why you see authors making book trailer videos on YouTube. The list goes on and on of things authors do to get their books noticed in a crowded marketplace.

Of course, the quality of your writing is important, but just as important to your writing success is your likability. For example, professional speakers often gauge the success of their presentation by how many books they sell in the back of the room. When people like you, they want to take a piece of you (in the form of your book) home with them.

Write clearly. Write conversationally. Several books we’ve published are written with the feeling that the reader and author are enjoying a cup of coffee together. In essence, when you write a book, you’re asking someone to invite you into their home.  They’ll only do that if they like and trust you.

Readers buy authors, not publishers. You, as author, are responsible for marketing your book. Once you’ve become a recognized money-maker, your publisher might help you, but until then, you’re pretty much on your own in terms of marketing.

Be honest with yourself about your expectations for marketing your book. Your success depends on it.

Happy writing!

Statistics Are a Two-edged Sword

Many of us like to support our assertions with statistics. And that can be a good thing–or not. It depends on the credibility of your source AND your interpretation of what the statistics represent.

For example, the other night as I was driving to teach my college class, I heard the teaser about an upcoming story on public radio that the housing market was improving in the Twin Cities’ market. Immediately following that teaser, the announcer said, “The news isn’t good for housing sales in the Twin Cities.”

What? Can something be both good and not good?

Well, yes, depending on the statistic you use to make your point.

Why they said the housing market was improving is that the average selling price of a house in the Twin Cities was $182,000 for June 2010, up about $5,000 from June 2009.

Why they said the news wasn’t good is that for June 2010, signed purchase agreements were down 40 percent from June 2009.

Thus, depending on which statistic you used, you could make a case for the housing marketing having good news or bad news.

Here are some things to consider when including statistics in your writing.

  • Understand that your credibility is on the line.
  • Use statistics only from resources your reader will consider credible.
  • Determine what you want your statistics to reveal so you select the right ones.
  • Be aware that statistics are easily manipulated–especially percentages. For example, our son coaches high school basketball, and in the beginning, his team won the very first  game it played. I told him he could quit coaching and tell everyone he won 100 percent of his games. Of course, that’s ridiculous to do, but statistics would have supported that assertion.
  • Use statistics to set up concepts you want your reader to get. For example, if you want your reader to see we aren’t out of the housing foreclosure woods yet, you can cite statistics that reveal the latest foreclosure numbers, along with the latest unemployment figures, and make a connection that people without paychecks are at risk of losing their homes.

Statistics are a two-edged sword, so be careful you don’t cut your credibility when you use them.

Happy writing!