Tip #1 Aug 6, 2014 16:15:47 GMT
Post by Kitty on Aug 6, 2014 16:15:47 GMT
Welcome to another issue of the Book Marketing Expert Newsletter!
I just returned from Romance Writers of America and wow, what a great event that was. I learned a ton of new stuff that I'll be sharing on our blog and in future newsletters, but one thing stuck out at this event: free is your best friend. In fact many of the bigger, more successful authors say: always have something free. Free drives engagement and (believe it or not) drives sales. If you're wondering how to get more sales, consider dropping the price of your book to zero and following the advice in this week’s article. You might be surprised how well it works.
While I was at Romance Writers, I had the pleasure of attending a party given by Amazon where everyone was all a-buzz about Kindle Unlimited but also, audio books. Audio is the new black. Keep an eye out in the next couple of weeks, I'll be publishing a piece on easy ways to turn your book into an audio book.
I hope you are all having a wonderful summer!
Penny, Paula, Amy, Katie and everyone at Author Marketing Experts, Inc.
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Feature Article: Why Free is Your Best Marketing Tool (and how to harness it)
It seems that everyone wants a freebie these days, doesn't it? It’s gotten to the point that when I mention doing a free eBook giveaway to authors, they just cringe. “I don’t believe in free,” they’ll often say. Believe me, I totally get this. We get hit up all the time for free this or that. Let’s face it, when you’re marketing something there will always be freeloaders, but most people aren't trying to score a free ride - what they are doing is trying to sample content.
Let’s move past the people who just want free stuff. Those aren’t the people who will drive our success. In fact, I want you to ignore this demographic altogether. What I’m focused on are the consumers who love sampling, because if you start your career off by making them pay, you've just raised the barrier to entry. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying don’t charge for anything, but you want to get them hooked. You want them to say, “I love this author, I’d read anything she writes.” Now you have a fan and, possibly a Super Fan (which we will discuss in more detail in the next issue).
The challenge with publishing these days is that there is a lot of it. With over 3,500 books published each day, it gets daunting. Also, though you think you have control over the pricing, you don’t. It’s not set by you, it’s set by your readers. This is an important statement because I often will talk to authors who have ridiculously high prices on their books. Their reasoning? They want to earn back the money it took to produce and market the book.
All right I get that, but pricing your book too high won’t get you there. I promise. Look at other books in your market and see how these authors are pricing their books. Look at a cross-section of books and see if there is a “norm” or average. Also, if you’re self-publishing, just forget about doing the hardcover, or do it as a special edition. The cost of printing a hardcover, especially if you’re printing via print-on-demand, will virtually price you out of the market.
When you’re doing this price-comparison research, go to Amazon since most online book buyers will default there anyway. Plug in your genre and take a look at both the print and eBook pricing. Keep in mind that you’ll see a lot of free pricing in eBooks. This is either from a freebie promotion they are doing or because it’s part of the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library service through Amazon, so it pays to check this out and be sure which it is.
Of all of the industries to suffer with “free” it would be the music industry. They screamed and threw tantrums about how free was ruining their business, and I agree, it was. But it had a negative impact mostly because they did not understand how to harness it. They didn't understand that consumers were tired of buying an entire CD just to get one song, especially if the other songs were terrible (and this happened to me several times). Smart musicians have learned that, regardless of the paywalls that get put up, users will still get their music for free, whether it’s on pirating sites or YouTube. The point being: free will always find a way, and to fight free means you’re putting your energy towards an unproductive goal.
Whether you like her music or don’t, you have to admit that Lady Gaga is a marketing and branding machine. Surprisingly, she does not make her living off music sales; in fact, 69% of her income comes from merchandise and touring. I’ll talk in a minute about why this matters to you.
How Free Helped Me
For years people thought I was crazy because I gave away so much free stuff. Keep in mind that I gave away free before it was so in vogue, too. We had ridiculous amounts of content out there. You want some insider tips on pitching media? Check the blog. You want a walk-through of how to use Amazon’s algorithms to your advantage? We have about five videos on YouTube that cover all of that and more.
You want to listen to me speak but can’t fly to an event? No problem. I teach free webinars all the time. I've given away content for years and that’s a good thing because now free content is one of the main keys to driving traffic to and getting visibility for your website and blog. Fourteen years later here we are, still in business, and I’m not living out of a cardboard box. Free does work and it works well.
How to Maximize Free
Now comes the really fun part. This is where you get to put free to work for you because there are certain things that you can put into your book, and put into action afterwards, to start building your tribe.
First, let me share a story of a publisher I met at a recent book event. She told me that she’s no longer going to offer free eBooks because she finds that it drops the sales of all of her books. This sort of surprised me so I decided to dig a bit further. I asked her if she was cross-promoting her books in the freebie blogs. She wasn’t. I asked her what her follow-up plan was with the freebie downloads, and she didn't have one. Well, if you don’t follow up you can’t get in touch with those readers, can you?
I had an author who did a freebie last year who gave away 37,000 copies of her book over 2 days. The day after the promotion ended she sold 1,300 books. Now, you may gasp at that 37,000 number but consider this: the old way of thinking is viewing these as lost sales. The new way is to view this as a conversion number. The higher the number, the better the conversion.
Now, we all know that some people just love downloading free. They’ll never read it and probably never become a fan. Then you have the folks who downloaded it thinking it was something it wasn't. They open the book, thinking it’s X when it’s really Y. You don’t want those people, either. But then there’s the core readership. Out of a big number like 37,000, that may only be 1,000 readers. Again you may gasp, but stay with me for a minute because what I’m going to show you will blow away several outdated marketing theories.
You only care about that sliver of readers. The 1,000 who will open the book, read the book and (if you’re lucky) write a review. Why? Because that’s how you start building those Super Fans I mentioned previously. You will never capture 80% of people into your funnel, but you may capture 100 or 1,000. When you do, these are the people that you want to market to. Keeping in mind that out of 100 or 1,000, not all of these people will turn into fans. Some may not like your work, but some will.
This is how you start to grow your tribe.
Putting Your Book to Work
Earlier in this piece we talked about the ways your book can cross-promote other books. If you have read any of my other pieces, you know that I often talk about a letter to readers. This letter is from you, to them. You’re thanking them for getting the book, telling them that you hoped they liked it, and asking them to stay in touch with you and, if they are so inclined, to review the book. We just want readers to know that we care about what they care about and, that they matter. This is a very big deal. This letter alone will turn your book into a powerful communication machine.
When you’re a non-fiction author I think using free promotion is pretty easy. You do free eBook giveaways, you offer great content. You share your ideas freely. You dialog with people on social media. You’re not stingy. You’re a free-wheeling font of help and information. People love you, they love what you have to say, and when they need to know something, guess who they check with first? Yep, that’s right. You. Welcome to Super Fan-dom. Let’s have a look at what you may be able to do and what results it will leverage. In each case, if you write a book and then end it with “The End,” you aren't using your book real estate in the best possible way.
These are some pretty basic ideas, I’m sure you’ll come up with more. I had an author who did a “solve the mystery” in the back of his book (yes, he was a mystery author). This helped keep readers engaged and they headed on over to his site (he offered a prize = incentive). In another case, an author offered to name a character in her next book. She referred them to her site, offered a simple quiz (based on the book), and the winner would get a character named after him or her. There were other prizes, too. People love prizes and contests and quizzes so give them a reason to go to your site.
Now comes the hard part: Engagement. If you’re a fiction author this is a little tougher. I mean your book is fiction so what can you talk about, really? Well, actually, lots of stuff. Let’s start first with your website. Forget the static site, we already know that you should not have a static site but to go even deeper than that, your site should be a glimpse into your world or the world of the book. Open the Kimono and give readers a look inside your world and your book.
Why does all of this work? Well, clearly there’s some fun engagement going on but it’s more than that: We’re really taking the time to spend time with our readers, even if it’s just virtually. You lure them in by offering freebies, then you build the relationship by informing, entertaining, and building relationships with them. You’ll want to do this utilizing social media, your blog, video content.
And speaking of video, I was at a big publishing event earlier this year and someone asked a speaker, “Do book trailers sell books?” The speaker replied emphatically: no, they do not. I would disagree to a point. Book trailers, like anything else you do, do not sell books. One action, one trailer, one Facebook update does not sell a book.
Consistent engagement with your reader (not at them, there’s a difference) now that does sell books. How do I know? We’ve tested both ways. Unknown authors with a first book in a super cluttered market selling a lot of books, maybe not New York Times bestseller-worthy, yet, but give them time. By lowering the barrier to entry, by letting readers sample, giving those same readers proactive ways to engage and reasons to stay in touch, they will build a campaign worthy of big sales.
Next issue, we’re going to look at some more solid engagement ideas to transform your readers from a freebie loving fan to a Super Fan.
Book Marketing Resources From AME
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Bestseller Lists: Did You Know?
Over the years I've been asked about getting on a bestseller list – actually, if I had a dime for every time someone has asked me, I’d be richer than Bill Gates. That said, making a bestseller is still somewhat of a mystery. But if you want some low-down on how the New York Times works, here’s some bestseller scoop you may not know.
Did you know that the New York Times Bestseller List is actually based on a “survey” of closely guarded accounts posted for weekly sales? These are essentially stores – according to many sources - 34 reporting stores that the Times polls to see what’s selling.
Sales need to be showing up across the board. For example, if you’re hot on Amazon but nowhere else, your book would be excluded. If they are picking up a lot of bulk sales for the book, then it would be excluded, too. But, if the book is showing large bulk sales *and* a lot of regular sales then it could be added to the list.
Also, the Times list is polled Sunday to Sunday, so if you launch your book later in the week, it’ll be harder to hit the list for that week.
How much do you need to sell to hit a list? Well that depends on when you launch your book. If you’re targeting the heavy-shopping season (like Christmas), then you likely need to sell more. Though, to some extent, publishers have moved away from publishing “seasons” there are still some busy times you should be aware of: January sees a lot of change-your-life/save money books while the summer season sees a lot of beach-read type books (genre fiction). Also, if you’re planning to have a shot at the list, be sure to check out major anniversaries. You may recall the recent Kennedy 50-year anniversary which was key for many, many new Kennedy titles.
And one final note on the Times list: Independent bookstores are central to these lists. At one time I know that many of the reporting stores were Indie stores (I’m not sure of that now and I assume these stores change). If you’re not in an independent bookstore (or several) you may be out of luck.
1,001 Tips for Writers – Traditional Publishing
An author should try to get an agent to represent him. Selling a manuscript cold is the toughest way I know to get published.
— WILLIAM TARG, Indecent Pleasures
William A. Gordon is the author and/or editor of five books, including the acclaimed Four Dead in Ohio: Was There a Conspiracy at Kent State?, the perennial The Ultimate Hollywood Tour Book and Shot on This Site, a guide to TV and movie locations throughout the United States. His website is 1001tipsforwriters.com/
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THERE'S MORE TO THIS issue of the Book Marketing Expert newsletter! click on this link to continue:
Building Your Website: What Exactly Does “Building a Site” Mean?
Building a website, like a foundation to a house, has many stages. “First,” says Jeniffer Thompson of Monkey C Media, “you need branding and a working concept. The only way to build a firm foundation is to know your audience. This will help you build something that will engage your customers and draw them in.
Once you have a focus, you can start designing your concept. The final stage is the programming stage. I recommend that your designer and your programmer be two different people. It is best if your team works in the same office or has experience working together. A designer is an artist and does not typically think in terms of ‘code,’ while a programmer usually has trouble designing a site that works visually. With everything, there are always exceptions.”
Defining Your Goals
It’s important to define what your exact goals are before you engage a web designer. A web designer cannot help you determine your goals. It’s something you need to do and then revisit often. By “revisit,” I mean even after the site is up and you've had a chance to get some traffic and make some sales, you might find that your original goal for the site isn't serving you anymore. But your basic goals, the ones you start with, need to be clear and focused. You’ll probably want to start with up to five goals for your site and then refine them in order of importance.
When we talk about defining goals, we’re not talking about your needs, but rather the needs of your customer. Who is your customer? Do you have any idea? If you don’t, you better get busy discovering who you’re marketing to. This information isn't just important when developing your site; it’s the cornerstone of all of your marketing.
Knowing your audience is also about understanding their hot buttons or emotional triggers. You’ll hear me say this a lot in this book: market to someone’s most pressing need and you've made a sale.
Market to a need they think about only once a week and it’s going to take a lot more convincing. This is why when we talk about getting to know your customer, we call it “profiling.” Creating a profile of someone you’re marketing to is almost like putting together a blueprint for success. But a profile isn't something you create and then forget about. It’s an ongoing effort; something that’s constantly updated, amended and altered. Why? Because your customers aren't static. Their needs keep changing and evolving, and so should your website. We run a customer profile for every product we sell and we don’t just do it once—we do it every ninety days. That way, while much of the information is still current, we might be able to peg a pitch on an emerging trend before everyone else catches on!
Below is a short list of questions to get you started. Generally, when I hand this list out in class, clients go home and generate several more questions on their own. The idea is that while not all of this information is relevant to the sale of your book, product or service, it will help you formulate an idea of who the person is you’re marketing to. Another reason to do this is that when you know what they read (magazines) and where they hang out (clubs and organizations), it might give you a few more places to target when you launch your marketing campaign:
Where do your customers work?
Are they self-employed?
Where do they live?
Where do they play?
What makes them happy/sad?
What type of store(s) do they buy from?
What magazine(s) do they read?
What radio stations / TV programs do they watch?
What clubs or organizations do they belong to?
What kinds of events do they attend?
What types of websites do they frequent?
Would they have a website?
Do they have a military background?
Are they parents or grandparents? If so, will this influence their buying or surfing habits?
In the rapidly changing world of Internet marketing, Red Hot Internet Publicity by Penny Sansevieri is up-to-the-minute. This book covers social media in detail--not just Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn but also recent powerhouse sites like Pinterest and Google Plus--there's even a chapter on the reputation-rating site Klout. Learn more at www.amazon.com/Red-Hot-Internet-Publicity-Marketing/dp/1480224952/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1365511693&sr=8-7&keywords=sansevieri
Discover How to Secure Powerful Book Endorsements
“Blurbs, Endorsements, and Testimonials: How to Get Experts, Authorities, Celebrities, and Others to Endorse Your Book” provides detailed, step-by-step instructions that guide authors through the entire solicitation process, from identifying potential endorsers to securing and using the testimonials in the most influential ways possible.
The complete program is $29. For more information, visit bit.ly/bookblurbsprogram.
AME in the News
* The Author Chronicles blog included Penny's article: "20 Ways to Reuse, Recycle, and Repurpose Your Old Blog Content," in its top picks: authorchronicles.wordpress.com/2014/07/17/top-picks-thursday-07-17-2014/
* Keep up with Penny's latest articles for Huffington Post: www.huffingtonpost.com/penny-c-sansevieri
Secrets of Getting Into Bookstores
Shelf space is tight, but there are ways you can work with bookstores and get your book on their shelves:
Submissions Accepted: USA Regional Excellence Book Awards
USA Regional Excellence Book Awards recognizes and rewards excellence in books that take readers into the heart of a “place.” If your book delivers the experience of a locale – whether it’s the glitz of Hollywood of any era, the historic sense of New England, the glamour of a Beverly Hills, the grandeur of one of the great plains states, the high powered bustle of a New York City, the distinctive character of any locale -- and your book is produced with excellence, then it is a perfect candidate for a USA REBA award. Submissions accepted through Sept. 15, 2014. usaregionalexcellencebookawards.com/
Things to Consider When Considering Self-Publishing
Before making the commitment to self-publishing, ask yourself these important questions:
How to Get a Custom Book Trailer
In today's multimedia world it's not enough to write your book then Twitter your friends. You need a media plan. An essential part of that plan is to visually represent your book with an exciting trailer.
That is Turn Page Media's expertise; setting mood and telling the visceral emotion of your story. Book trailers give your writing an advantage in a competitive and crowded marketplace; let us help you get that edge.
For more information, visit turnpagemedia.com/home.html
Quiz – Do You Know Which Social Site is Right for You?
We know we need to be social, but now it’s important to be on the right social media sites because it’s not about being everywhere, it’s about being everywhere that matters:
Social Media Snippet: How to Increase Google+ Engagement
Google+ is getting a lot of attention these days. But many people aren’t sure how to get the most out of the site. Here’s what you can do:
Social Media Snippet: How to Get Your Blog Post Shared 1000 Times
If you blog, you should share your posts widely. This infographic walks you through the process:
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Reprinted from "The Book Marketing Expert newsletter," a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques.