Archive for February, 2011

Once Published, Books Don’t Sell Themselves

I wish I had a dollar for every author who thought that once his/her book was published, Oprah would be sending the limo immediately. The truth is, that’s not going to happen. Nor are a lot of other expectations authors have for selling their books–unless the author creates a buzz about his/her book.

Last week I had the honor of speaking to the Minnesota Chapter of the National Speakers Association. I was one of three presenters. One spoke on products, one spoke on Internet sales, and I spoke on book writing/book publishing/book marketing. The audience ended up being 50 percent more than had signed up. It was an energizing day.

There were many questions, but the recurring question was about marketing.

I told the audience the worst place to sell a book is the bookstore. Not only do bookstores take 55 percent of the cover price, but they return (no matter what the book’s condition) unsold books to you for FULL credit. That means you end up with books that are basically unsaleable and you lost money because you paid shipping to boot!

Not only do you pay a hefty premium to be in bookstores, but your book competes with all the other books in the store for the consumer’s dollar. Why would someone find your book and buy it when they can find so many books they’ve already heard about elsewhere?

So, what can you do to sell your book? Place them in other types of stores where they stand out. For example, if you have a gift book,  place it in a gift store. Fishing book? Sporting goods store. Parenting book? Children’s clothing or toy store. Well, you get the idea. Even better, try to hold an event/book signing in that store.

What else can you do? Write articles based on your book and make sure you get a tag line that mentions your book. You can submit your articles to any number of places on the Internet. Create a video (called a book trailer) about your book and put it on the Internet. Create a website for your book and offer ideas/guides for book groups to use your book. Entire books are written on book marketing, but I’ve given you a jumpstart on thinking about ways to market.

With technology today, you have more opportunities than ever to get the word out about your book.  People buy authors, but they won’t buy you if they don’t know about you.

Happy writing!


Tie Your Book to Current Hot Topic

Most authors are surprised to learn they hold the primary responsibility for marketing their books once published. Over the years I’ve heard many authors say, “I’m a writer. I don’t want to market the book.” We don’t publish those authors because we know their books will fail in the marketplace and they’ll blame us instead of themselves.

So, what do you do if the thought of marketing your published book creates anxiety or fear in you? Find ways you can create a buzz about your book that take the spotlight off you.

One of the easiest ways to attract attention is to tie your book to a current hot topic. I urged one of our authors to do that with his book after the horrific shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims in Arizona last month. You see, his book, Flashbacks of Abuse, tells his story of how he and his daughter survived a shooting incident while on vacation in Europe and how his life changed since then.

What could he do to tie his book to the current topic? He could blog. He could write letters to the editor. He could connect with local media for interviews and share what goes through one’s mind when facing a gunman. He could send out press releases regarding his experience.

How can you tie your book to a current hot topic?

One author (not ours) connected spending habits to dieting. How much attention does the media give diets each January when it urges everyone to begin the new year by creating new habits or a new you? It’s smart to tie financial concepts to the current hot topic of dieting at the beginning of the year.

Tune into what’s going on in the world, then find a way to tie your book to what’s hot, and you’ve got a ready-made marketing opportunity for your book.

Remember, people buy the author, not the publisher, and your book’s success in the marketplace depends on you. No one will be more excited about your book than you are, which is why you’re the perfect person to market it.

Happy writing!


Measure Your Writing Progress

Writing is both a science and an art–science in that good writers research their topics and experiment with words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs, and art in that good writers draw on their creativity to produce a piece unlike any other that reflects the artist’s view of life.

One of the things many writers aren’t very good at is measuring their writing progress.

I spoke with one author last week who said, “I’ve been pushing this book uphill for two years, and I’m ready to publish it.” The comment reminded me of Sisyphus, the Greek mythology king who repeatedly rolled a boulder uphill, then watched it roll down again. This goes on through eternity.

If you’re working on your manuscript and never seem to get anywhere, it’s time you begin measuring your writing progress and break the cycle of fruitless hours pushing your book uphill and watching it roll back down.

Be aware that progress comes in increments and not all increments are the same size nor accomplish equal work.

Have you ever bought a new car and you think your new car is unique, but as soon as you begin driving it you see dozens of cars just like it on the road? What happened is you increased your awareness and started seeing that particular color or model of car you previously overlooked .

So it is with progress. Once you increase your awareness of what to look for, you’ll start seeing your progress more than before.

Here are some progress indicators.

  • Check the clock when you start and stop writing for the session. Measure your time spent on writing, on research, on editing, on anything you’re doing to advance the writing of your book.
  • Check the word count when you start and and stop writing for the session. Subtract the beginning number of words from the ending number of words and you’ll quickly see how many words you added to your book that session. By the way, if you’ve been editing in that session, you’ll probably find you have fewer words at the end of the session and that’s progress too! Give yourself credit for tightening up your writing.
  • Check your attitude. If you’re dreading writing, maybe you need to rethink your project. Maybe you aren’t writing the book you want to write at all. Maybe you’re writing the book someone’s told you to write, but you’re not jazzed about it. Books are in print a long time. If you’re not writing a book you want your name on for the ages, don’t feel pressured into doing it. Write the book you want to write instead–then measure your progress on that one.
  • Check on your willingness to let others read your work-in-progress. If you’re not willing to share what you’re writing, one of two things is probably going on. (1) You’re not happy with your writing, or (2) you’re afraid of a negative experience–someone will either steal your writing or criticize it. If you’re not happy with your writing, take a step back and try to objectively figure out why. If you’re afraid of a negative experience, you may decide to concentrate your writing efforts on journaling or other personal writing no one will see.
  • Check yesterday’s writing before starting today’s. If what you wrote yesterday looks good, holds your attention, and makes you want to get started writing today’s stuff, you can take comfort knowing you’ve got something good going. That will energize you to get into today’s writing session.

Pick at least one of the indicators and measure your writing progress. It works.

Happy writing!