Why Having a Platform May be the Only Way to Sell Books

Why Having a Platform May be the Only Way to Sell Books
Some years back, the industry starting tossing out the word “platform” like confetti during Mardi Gras. Everyone was using the phrase and it quickly became the word du jour. Publishers wanted authors with platform. Books by authors with a platform were easier to sell to their market and therefore, easier to promote. Problem was, everyone was using it and no one was defining it. During the first twelve months that word really hit everyone’s radar. I got endless questions from authors about what a platform was. No one really understood it or why they needed it.

Truth was, five or ten years ago a platform was only good if you were a high-profile non-fiction author. Fiction authors relied on their genre, their readers, and hopefully, their reviews. But having a platform was also a tricky thing because what it consisted of varied from genre to genre and was also often left to a publisher’s discretion. None of it was terribly objective. Publishers, who were particularly keen on an author platform, would often select books to publish based on certain criteria but that criteria, and what their “must haves” were when it came to an author platform, were undefined and ever-changing.

Cycle forward now seven years or so. Everything has changed. Publishers are no longer gatekeepers of publishing and hence, no longer the main entity to define a platform. Now, however, other challenges emerge.

Not only do we live in a world where anyone can publish but we also live in a world where even if you can’t write a book (or don’t have time) you can hire someone to write it for you – and voila: suddenly you’re a published author. There is an inherent problem with this model which is this: in order to gain any kind of attention for your book, you’re going to have to have a platform.

I see this on author calls all the time. I often get authors who come to me with books they’ve written or had ghosted and they have zero momentum online. Meaning little or no blogging, very little in social media, and in some cases, no website. Now, don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with writing a book, having one ghost-written, or publishing a book if you’re a platform virgin. But you must realize that not having a platform will present you as a newbie, to a certain degree, even if you’ve been in your market for dozens of years.

For fiction authors it’s the same thing. The fiction market often relies on reviews either from professional reviewers or from readers. With the flood of books hitting the market that’s become a tougher road. But if you have fans built up (yes, fans are considered a platform) and you’re active on your website and in some form of social media, you’re years ahead of most authors hitting the market.

So, let’s break this down for you. What does it really take to build a platform? Surprisingly, not much. We often want to make a task harder than it needs to be. Truth is, 80% of the authors I either meet at events, speak to over the phone, or write me personally are just lost when it comes to this area. So lost in fact that most of them just do nothing. Feel like you belong to this crowd? You’re in good company. Lack of understanding often brings inaction or, in some cases, the wrong action.

What is a platform, really? To break this down, a platform is not who you know but who knows you. When you think of it this way you’ll understand that a platform is really a series of actions that get you in front of your reader. To use another analogy they are the legs of the table you stand on that raises you above the crowd. What will your “legs” be? But wait. If you run ads are they considered “legs”? Well, no. While I can’t comment on the effectiveness of ads for your particular market, I do know that consumers don’t favor them. They do, however, favor organic activities. What’s organic? It’s when a reader finds your content naturally. When it’s not pushed on them in the form of an ad. Organic could be a blog post you wrote, your social media, guest blogging you’ve done, etc. Consider these:

Social Media: Of course I was going to start here because it’s the easiest and simplest way to reach your reader. Well, ok, maybe for some it’s not. Social media requires work but most authors misunderstand what I mean by “work.” It doesn’t mean you need to work every social media platform out there. It means you need to find the one (or several) that you feel best serve your market and use them consistently. By consistently I mean daily. Post one thing, engage and move on. If you can spend hours noodling with social media that’s great, but if you can’t, do a few really effective things and move on. Being productive and busy aren’t the same things. If you spend two hours on Facebook cycling through your friend feeds without posting or commenting (maybe you hit Like) you’ve just wasted two valuable hours of marketing time. Social media doesn’t always require the kind of time you think. More isn’t better, it’s just more.

Blogging: Here’s another, often misunderstood marketing tool. Blogging is (or it can be) the single best way to grow your platform. Why? Because it’s your voice and your expertise on your site. Do you need to blog daily? If you can, that’s great. If you can’t, that’s fine, too. Blog twice a week. The problem I see with people trying to throw a lot of content out there just for the sake of pushing content is that most of it is garbage. Have you noticed this recent trend? Lots of people writing lots of stuff, but much of it isn’t worth your time. Don’t be one of those people. When it comes to blogging, less can be more. If you’re writing something that’s incredibly helpful, insightful, or engaging but you feel you can only do that twice a week, that’s fine. Frankly, I’d rather see one thing that totally inspires me, rather than 10 things that don’t. For fiction authors, don’t cop out on this, either. You can write in character if you want, give away snippets of your book, discuss some unique ways to do book research or talk about the publishing industry because so many of your readers may be writers, too.

Goodreads/Library Thing: It’s becoming more apparent that the way to find readers is to go to where they are. These two sites have millions of readers and in an upcoming piece I’m going to write about how to work these platforms to your advantage. Though know this, much like social media you should be on there daily if you can be, or a few times a week if that’s not possible.

Speaking/events: We all know that bookstores are shrinking and so is event space, but if you want to do speaking it’s a fantastic way to draw in an audience. If you aren’t on the speaking circuit and don’t know places where you can do events or talks consider some unique sites. I’ve written a lot about author events in non-bookstore venues such as Hallmark or card stores, restaurants, kitchen or cooking stores, grocery stores or markets, gyms, gift shops, etc. If you have a book that ties into one of these areas, or perhaps one I didn’t mention consider going after them for an event. Likely they’ve never done a book event in their store so you’ll have to educate them. Offer to bring your own books (selling on consignment often works well in these venues) and if doing a talk isn’t in the cards because of store traffic, consider just getting a table and signing books. But, in either case, bring your mailing list sign-up sheet and encourage folks to give you their email address. Offer them something as an incentive to sign up. I never, ever, ever do a single signing or speaking event without bringing a sign-up sheet and giving folks something for free to encourage getting an email.

Website/mailing list: Everyone who writes a book needs a website. Period, end of story. If you think your book will sell well without one, you are mistaken. And look, I know that when you publish it seems that everywhere you turn someone has got their hand out for money. Yes, if you hire good people to do great work for you it will cost you money. But that’s really the ticket: hire good people to do great work. Your website doesn’t have to be this mega-fantastic site but it should be well-designed (read: please don’t design your own site, create your own book cover or cut your own hair. I’ve done all three and it wasn’t pretty). You should have a mailing list sign-up. I know you may have a million reasons why you don’t want one but I’ll give you one major reason why you should: Platform. When you capture emails you are making your website work for you. It not only becomes your 24/7 sales tool but your re-marketing tool. Our newsletter (which we’ve had for years) has become one of our #1 ways to market. We get in front of our reader every two weeks with helpful, insightful information and they remember us. How will you get your reader to remember you?

Blockbuster world: I’ve written pretty extensively on why I feel we need bookstores and why I don’t want them to close but the biggest reason I think bookstores are important is that we don’t want to live in a blockbuster-only world. Imagine what it would be like if the only bookstores were in Wal-Mart, Target and airports. What would that mean for your book? Well, likely it would mean that if you weren’t a blockbuster, your book would never be on any of these shelves. You may argue that even with stores your book isn’t on any shelves. That’s true for a lot of us, and even with Barnes & Noble and a lot of independents it’s hard to find a home for your book on a bookstore shelf. This is why platform is even more crucial. Consumers are driven by big names and those big names are driven by their platform, in some cases their readers. Consider the success of certain books from unknown authors that were entirely reader-driven. Welcome to the new world of the blockbuster. Reader engagement is crucial – now more than ever you must engage with your reader. You can do that via your blog, on social media sites, in places like Library Thing and Goodreads and via speaking events and your mailing list. Readers are gold, they are your platform.

Now it’s very likely that you read through this piece and thought, “my reader isn’t in any of these places.” I’d be surprised if that was true but if you are sitting in a very niche market or have devised other ways to get in front of your reader and grow your platform, then good for you.

The point is that developing your platform is a fancy way of saying: “Get in front of your reader as often as you can.” Figure out how to reach your individual reader, and you’ve now figured out how to build your platform. In an age where everyone can publish (and it would seem that everyone is) the thing that will define you and separate your message from the noise will be your platform. Without it, yours may be the best book that no one has ever read.

Reprinted from “The Book Marketing Expert newsletter,” a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques. http://www.amarketingexpert.com

Why Social Media is Killing Your Business

Why Social Media is Killing Your Business

We all hear how important it is to be the King (or Queen) of social media. We need to be on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and, of course, Pinterest. But did you ever consider the aspects that might actually be hurting your business?

A number of productivity experts have commented on the idea that we live in ‘busyness,’ meaning that we feel we are busy because we continually enmesh ourselves in doing things for the sake of doing them, without being cognizant of the actual result. We feel that we have to be on social media so we are, often to our own detriment. Consider these numbers:

According to Empowerednetwork.com, 22% of time spent online is spent on social networking (see article here: http://bit.ly/10PJM9r). People spent twice as much time on Facebook than they did exercising. The average user spends 24 hours a month on a social networking site. Also, the research related to student productivity is alarming as well. According to this piece, the GPA of college students that regularly use Facebook is a full point lower than their peers who do not log on.

One out of ten workers spends more time on the Internet than they do working. Workers are interrupted once every 10.5 minutes with things like IMs and Tweets; once that happens it can take as long as 23 minutes for employees to get back on task.

So what do you do if you need to stay on top of your industry and keep up with your social media? And what if you are a solo entrepreneur trying to market your business? Sometimes we are faced with tough choices: finish the proposal for a new client, or market yourself on social media to get future business. If this sounds like a familiar battle, here are a few ideas to help you control the time you spend on social media:

Make sure you’re doing the right things: I realize this is kind of a no-brainer but it’s still worth considering. When was the last time you checked your engagement on any of these social sites? Are people responding to you or are you just posting and ditching? Make sure that your message is getting to the right people on the right sites. Maybe you don’t have a message that will resonate with Facebook, maybe your people are really on LinkedIn or Google+. Consider taking a close look at how “social” your social networks really are and whether they’re really benefiting you.

Scan headlines: Unless you are sitting in a really boring industry that doesn’t make a lot of news, we can’t possibly keep track of everything that’s going on, all the time. That’s why I suggest doing a quick scan of your headlines in the morning. You have to be really diligent with this. Delete whatever doesn’t immediately spike your interest, read what does. If you spend the morning reading everything in your market you’re probably gaining a lot of knowledge, but not a lot of value. Not everything matters. Pay attention to only what does.

Get a media alert system: Since Google Alerts is going away, I’ve been recommending some new systems (either Talkwalker.com, http://talkwalker.com/en, or Mention.net, https://en.mention.net/) – both of these sites are very robust and will keep you apprised of any goings on in your market. The keywords you select here will be very important so don’t pick a keyword that’s too general. Also, you’ll probably want to modify these keywords as your market changes. With these services you will get one email, once a day, with every headline and story that the service mentions. Some services will even send you tweets that mention the keywords you’re looking for which is also helpful because if your objective is to engage in conversation around a particular keyword, you can dig in as soon as you get the notification email.

Get over FOMO: Many of us suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out); in fact, a number of newspapers have done stories on this. We stay hyper-connected to everything because we’re afraid we’ll miss something. I can almost guarantee you if it’s something major, you’ll find out. If it’s not, don’t worry about it. Get yourself out of the FOMO habit by turning off your devices after a certain hour, or for a certain period of time during the day so you can concentrate on work.

Watch your numbers: Much like point #1, you’ll want to watch your numbers closely. Check your social media engagement and make sure that people are, in fact, engaging with you. When we do this we always find places we can enhance or draw back on. Don’t waste your time on things that won’t matter. A lot of what folks do in social media is also related to FOMO. They want to be “everywhere” because they feel like if they don’t, they’ll miss out on business, news, speaking gigs, whatever. People don’t enter your message through every portal, you’ll find that the majority of your customers is on one or maybe two specific social media sites. Be there and ignore the rest.

Limit your time: It’s hard to do, but I really recommend that you limit your time to thirty minutes in the morning and thirty minutes at night on social media. Let’s face it, we can watch the stream of conversation all day but if we do, we’re losing valuable time that we could be investing elsewhere.

Busy vs. productive: We’re being constantly bombarded with “busy” messages. Consumers are busy, we’re busy, everyone is busy – but are we busy or productive? The two aren’t the same. If spending too much time on social media is limiting your productivity, you have a problem. Often before each task I’ll ask myself whether this is just part of being busy, or if it is productive. Is the task leading somewhere or just keeping me on the constant loop of “busy?” Imagine how much more free time you’d have if you pulled back and assessed busy vs. productive for everything you do at work. It’s great to be busy. Better to be busy than to be sitting around waiting for the phone to ring, but we often associate success with being busy. If you’re not accomplishing anything, then being busy is, well, just being busy. The problem with social media is that it “feels” busy which can be a bit deceptive.

Consider outsourcing: If you feel like you can’t handle everything you need to do in social media, considering hiring someone who can help you reach your goals. Social media experts and assistants are popping up everywhere. If you want a recommendation go onto LinkedIn and put out a call for some resources. LinkedIn can be a fantastic place to find new vendors, by the way. Recently I put out a call for a collection agency and found some really amazing companies. People on LinkedIn love making recommendations so go there if you’re trying to find someone.

Productivity experts will often encourage shutting down your Internet or turning off email to help you focus. While these ideas are great, there’s still a huge time-suck that is social media. It’s part of what we need to do to gain exposure and new business, but it can also be a serious detriment to our success. Finding a balance between being “social” and being productive isn’t always easy, but it’s a balance worth striking.

Reprinted from “The Book Marketing Expert newsletter,” a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques. http://www.amarketingexpert.com

Pitching Story Ideas to the Media: Who’s Who in Your Local Newspaper’s Newsroom (Part 1)

When pitch­ing story ideas to your local paper, you want to make sure your pitch lands into the right hands. The last thing you want to do is the send your idea to the wrong per­son, who may “round file” it, instead of pass­ing it along to the appro­pri­ate col­league. If you have a story that’s time-sensitive in nature, you espe­cially want to see that the right per­son gets it ASAP.

Here’s the low-down on the more com­mon writ­ing and report­ing roles at a daily newspaper:

Journalists/reporters: These indi­vid­u­als are the news writ­ers. They do the research, con­duct the inter­views and write the sto­ries that you read. A reporter’s job is to pro­vide the facts and rep­re­sent both sides of a story with­out any bias. They write from the third per­son per­spec­tive, so you will rarely see the words you, me, I or us in a story writ­ten by a journalist.

In larger cities, reporters often have “beats” or are given reg­u­lar assign­ments to cover. This means, they’re cover local sto­ries by topic, like city hall/government, neigh­bor­hood or crime watch, busi­ness, schools, sports, arts, lifestyle, etc.

At mid-to-large-sized dailies, the news­room could be divided into depart­ments. Think of the sec­tions that come with your news­pa­per – national news, local news, sports, busi­ness, lifestyle, travel, among oth­ers. Again, you will have reporters who spe­cial­ize in many of these top­ics and have peo­ple who man­age these roles within these departments.

Colum­nists: This type of jour­nal­ist writes on a recur­ring basis on a spe­cific topic, often pro­vid­ing spe­cial com­men­tary or their own opin­ions. So you will see the use first (I, me) and sec­ond (You) per­son in their columns, or the plural use of we and us. You can usu­ally spot a colum­nist in a news­pa­per, as their work is accom­pa­nied by their photo and “by line” (who the col­umn is writ­ten by).

Top­ics cov­ered by a colum­nist run the gamut. You can have a colum­nist who spe­cial­izes in advice, careers, busi­ness, tech­nol­ogy, pol­i­tics, weather, sports, among oth­ers. Colum­nists can be local, national or syndicated.

Local colum­nists write about local top­ics and their respec­tive columns appear only in that one publication.

National columnists are employed by large daily papers – such as USA Today, The New York Times, Wall Street Jour­nal, The Boston Globe, et al. – and write columns that can be sold to and repub­lished in other papers across the country.

Syn­di­cated colum­nists appear in mul­ti­ple news­pa­pers, but these writ­ers sell their work syn­di­ca­tion ser­vices which, in turn, dis­trib­ute the col­umn through­out the news­pa­per world.

Blog­gers: You can also read your local paper online, so blogs are a reg­u­lar fea­ture on the paper’s web­site. The blog­ging plat­form gives news­pa­per indus­try imme­di­acy, which is some­thing all news out­lets (both broad­cast and print) strive to pro­vide when report­ing the news. The goal is to pro­vide the newest, fresh­est, most unique angle to any story at any given time. Since news­pa­pers do not have the lux­ury of inter­rupt­ing our favorite tele­vi­sion pro­grams or songs play­ing on the radio with break­ing news or run­ning mul­ti­ple news­casts in one day, the blog, as well as its web­site, allow these news pub­li­ca­tions to report up-to-the-minute coverage.

The blog can be writ­ten by reporters or colum­nists or by some­one hired specif­i­cally to write blog posts. Blogs allow reporters or colum­nists to share a “behind-the-scenes” glimpse at how their story came together. Since news­pa­pers have lim­ited space, news sto­ries are writ­ten to fit. So the blog plat­form allows the story to be expanded, so the writer can pro­vide fur­ther analy­sis on the topic.

Finally, many peo­ple who do not buy a printed copy of the paper may opt for an on-line sub­scrip­tion. The blog offers on-line sub­scribers addi­tional con­tent, while extend­ing the social out­reach of the publication.

Photographers/photo jour­nal­ists: The use of pho­tog­ra­phy in news­pa­pers is also a jour­nal­is­tic role. Photo jour­nal­ists cover all types of news: acci­dents, spe­cial events, break­ing news, weather, sports, etc.

Pho­to­graph can be used as a self-contained story – with a cut line appear­ing beneath it. They also can accom­pany an arti­cle to pro­vide a visual rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the story being told and help­ing to draw a con­nec­tion between the reader and the report.

Just like report­ing the news, the images should be timely to work in cadence with the arti­cle it accom­pa­nies. And the image should be impar­tial, pro­vid­ing the reader with a fair and accu­rate account of the event.

In Part 2 of Pitch­ing Story Ideas to the Media, we’ll look at news­room man­age­ment at a local newspaper.

© 2013 Stephanie Faiella, http://www.avantimarcom.com

Stephanie Faiella is a vir­tual mar­ket­ing con­sul­tant and founder of Avanti Marketing+Communications. Stephanie offers a free audio report on “15 Mar­ket­ing Cam­paign Strate­gies Designed to Build and Grow Your Busi­ness” – along with two free bonuses – wh

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10 Mistakes Authors Make that Can Cost them a Fortune

10 Mistakes Authors Make that Can Cost them a Fortune (and how to avoid them)

When it comes to books, promotion, and book production I know that it can sometimes feel like a minefield of choices. And while I can’t address each of these in minutia, there are a number of areas that are keenly tied to a books success (or lack thereof). Here are ten for you to consider:

1. Not understanding the importance of a book cover

I always find it interesting that an author will sometimes spend years writing their book and then leave the cover design to someone who either isn’t a designer, doesn’t have a working knowledge of book design or the publishing industry. Or, worse, they create a design without having done the proper market research. Consider these facts for a minute: shoppers in a bookstore spend on average of 8 seconds looking at the front cover of a book and 15 seconds looking at the back before deciding whether to buy it. Further, a survey of booksellers showed that 75% of them found the book cover to be the most important element of the book. Also, sales teams at book distribution often only take the book cover with them when they shop titles into stores. And finally please don’t attempt do design your own book cover. Much like cutting your own hair this is never a good idea.

2. Trusting someone who has limited or no track record

When you hire a team, make sure you ask the service provider for their track record. Often I see an author who successfully marketed their single title now feel they have all the marketing knowledge they need to help you market yours. Unless you are in similar markets I would avoid this at all costs. You want people who have worked in the industry and know the needs of the market beyond just one title. You also want someone who has some history. Ask for referrals, and success stories. I give references all the time to potential new clients but when I am the one interviewing a new service provider I will ask for them but never call them. I mean who’s going to give you a bad referral? I want to see that they have some names they can give me then I’ll go online and Google them to gain some insight into their history and online reputation.

3. Listening to people who aren’t experts

When you ask someone’s opinion about your book, direction, or topic, make sure they are either working in your industry or know your consumer. If, for example, you have written a young adult (YA) book, don’t give it to your co-workers to read and get feedback (yes, I know some YA books have adult market crossover appeal but this is different). If you’ve written a book for teens, then give it to teens to read. Same is true for self-help, diet, romance. Align yourself with your market. You want the book to be right for the reader, in the end that’s all that matters.

4. Trusting Oprah to solve all your problems

Getting on Oprah is an article in and of itself but let me say this: the quickest way to turn off a publicist is to use the “O” word. Why? Because anyone worth their salt knows how tough a road the Oprah pitch can be. Not just that, but sometimes authors will become so myopic and obsessed about this show that they lose sight of other, maybe better opportunities. And trust me on another point: someone (friend, co-worker, family, spouse), somewhere will tell you “You should go on Oprah” and while you might be 100% perfect Oprah material, the only people who can determine if you should be on her show are her producers. Shoot for the stars, dream big, but keep a realism about your campaign otherwise you’ll spend a lot of time and a lot of money chasing a potentially elusive target.

5. Planning for the short term only:

There’s a real fallacy that exists in publishing and it’s this: “instant bestseller.” Anyone who has spent any amount of time in the industry knows there is no such thing as “instant” and certainly the words “overnight success” are generally not reserved for books. Book promotion should be viewed as a long runway. Meaning that you should plan for the long term. Don’t spend all your marketing dollars in the first few months of a campaign. We find this especially true for self-published titles that need a little more TLC than their traditionally published counterparts. We offer campaigns that last 90-days but that’s not because we think 90 days is all it will take to make your book a success, it’s because we find it’s a reasonable time to get started, get a foot hold and start your progress down the runway of success.

6. Not understanding timing

Timing is a funny issue. First, there’s the timing that books follow to get reviewed, so lead times as it were. Then there’s production timing, and if you’re lucky enough to get a distributor there’s the time it will take for a distributor to get your book into the proper channels. A book launch should be planned carefully and then leave wiggle room for slipped dates and late deliveries (which will happen). I recommend that you sit down with someone who can help you strategize timing so you can plan appropriately for your book launch. A missed date is akin to a missed opportunity.

7. Hiring people who aren’t in the book industry

Let’s face it, even to those of us who have been in this industry for a while it still doesn’t always make sense. So hiring someone who has no book or publishing experience isn’t just a mistake, but it could be a costly one. With some vendors like web designers you can get away with that. But someone who has only designed business cards can’t, for example, design a book cover. Make sure you hire the right specialist for the right project. Also, you’ve likely spent years putting together this project, make sure you make choices based on what’s right and not what’s cheapest. If you shop right you can often find vendors who are perfect for your project and who fit your budget. There’s an old saying that goes: You can find a good lawyer and you can find a cheap lawyer but it’s hard or near impossible to find a good, cheap lawyer. The same applies in the book world.

8. Designing your own website

You should never cut your own hair or design your own site. Period. End of story. But ok, let me elaborate. Let’s say you designed your own site which saved you a few thousand dollars paying a web designer. Now you’re off promoting your book and suddenly you’re getting a gazillion hits to your site. The problem is the site is not converting these visitors into a sale. How much money did you lose by punting the web designer and doing it yourself? Hard to know. Scary, isn’t it?

9. Becoming a media diva

Let’s face it you need the media more than they need you. I know. Ouch. But it’s the unfortunate
truth. So here’s the thing: be grateful. Thank the interviewer, send a follow up thank you note after the interview. Don’t expect the interviewer to read your book and don’t get upset if they get some facts wrong. Just gently, but professionally correct them in such a way that they don’t look bad or stupid. Never ask for an interview to be done over. Most media people don’t have the time. I mention this because it actually happened to a producer friend of mine who did an interview with a guy and he decided he didn’t like it and wanted a second shot. Not gonna happen. The thing is, until you get a dressing room with specially designed purple M&M’s, don’t even think about becoming a diva. The best thing you can do is create relationships. Show up on time, show up prepared, and always, always, always be grateful.

10 . Hiring the best and then not trusting their advice.

So, here’s the thing that’s always confused me. You hire me then don’t listen to my advice. And it’s not just me, I hear this all the time from other industry professionals. Look, it’s not an ego thing, it really isn’t. It’s just this: if you’re paying good money to your vendors, asking them for advice and then not taking it you might have a disconnect. Perhaps a breakdown in communication, maybe you don’t trust the person you hired. If you don’t trust them then you should part ways and find someone you have some chemistry with. Otherwise what’s the point? Build your team with people you enjoy working with and respect. Then when they try and guide you or save you some money, take the time to listen.

Penny C. Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc. To learn more about Penny’s book Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of ts or her promotional services, you can visit her web site at http://www.amarketingexpert.com.

Copyright © 2009 Penny C. Sansevieri

Media Exposure Is Marketing Gold – If You Know How to Use It

Media Exposure Is Marketing Gold – If You Know How to Use It

Media Exposure Is Marketing Gold – If You Know How to Use It
By Marsha J Friedman

At a glance:

  • Implicit media endorsements make you stand out from the competition.
  • It’s not advertising; it’s building credibility.
  • Maximize your exposure by posting it on your Web site and sharing it via social media.

A colleague of mine, who’s a former newspaper reporter, tells a story about a savvy attorney she knew. He’d tip her off whenever he had a particularly juicy case if she promised to include his name alongside that of his client in her story. Whether he won the case or lost it, people remembered his name and associated him with high-profile cases. He’d figured out that having his name in the paper bought him something no amount of advertising could: credibility.

For anyone trying to build a business, sell a product or get their book into the hands of more consumers, the implicit endorsement that comes from being interviewed by the media is what I call “marketing gold.”

Let me explain. Thanks to the Internet, you and every competitor you have, big or small, have the same chance to reach your potential consumers. So, what makes one business, one product or book more appealing than another? It’s endorsements from the media that make you stand out. Let’s face it – if USA Today has chosen to review your book, or refer to it in an article, it gives reason to believe there’s something special about it. If a doctor is quoted in the news about solutions to a particular health issue you’re dealing with – your instinct will be to check out him and his product first, because the media must consider him an authority to have quoted him.

When the media recognizes that you have something important to say, you gain credibility. This is the marketing gold I’m referring to: the endorsements from TV and radio show hosts, the editorial coverage in newspapers and magazines – and now, bloggers, news Web sites and followers on social media too. All these forms of recognition give others confidence you’re as good as you say you are. But, it’s upon you to use this “gold” as a critical part of your marketing to let people know these endorsements exist.

The return on investment usually isn’t immediate, which can be frustrating to people who expect a surge in business or a spike in sales with every media interview. That used to happen more often in the old days – I’m talking way back in the ’90s – when a radio talk show host might chat with you for 30 or 60 minutes and newspapers had twice as many pages to fill. It became apparent that when a client’s message clearly addressed an urgent public problem, along with their expertise and solution-oriented content, they could hit the jackpot.

From January to April, an IRS expert who spoke of resolutions to IRS problems or gave on-air tips on how to prevent IRS abuses would always see a huge jump in book sales. Or, the health expert, who got on the air during flu season and explained why his health program would make them feel better faster would sell a ton of product.

But the old days are gone and here we are in 2012. Today’s talk radio interviews are brief – 7 to 10 minutes in the larger markets – and newspapers have no space for full feature stories on interesting entrepreneurs and writers. There are far fewer opportunities to grab an audience for a significant length of time.

So how do you grow your investment in PR? Marketing your media exposure is a strategy that pays big dividends over time – but requires an effort from you.

  • Your Web site should prominently display your endorsements: “As seen on CBS,” “featured in the Louisville Gazette,” “heard on WFLA radio.”
  • Don’t forget to mention the media coverage to your Twitter followers and Facebook fans, too. The third-party endorsement will help you build more contacts, because people like knowing who the experts are and following them.
  • Use the media you’ve obtained to help you gain more TV, radio and print exposure. It serves as credibility for journalists as well and they will be more likely to want to interview you if you’ve already been vetted by other media professionals.
  • Let your personality shine online and respond to journalists and followers alike with interesting commentary and insights – not pleas to buy your book or product.

Yes, it takes work, a strong theme and a message that resonates. But if you invest wisely, you’ll grow rich in marketing gold.

For 20 years Marsha Friedman has been a leading authority on public relations as CEO of EMSI. Go to www.emsincorporated.com to signup to receive her free weekly PR Tips today! More resources for authors can also be found at www.publicitythatworks.com. Or call at 727-443-7115, ext. 202, or email at mfriedman@emsincorporated.com.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Marsha_J_Friedman


7 Reasons You’re Not Selling Many Ebooks

7 Reasons You’re Not Selling Many Ebooks by Lindsay Buroker

1. Nobody knows your ebook exists.

Obscurity. This is what we all struggle with when we’re getting started, especially if we’re coming into this without an established fan base.

I know there are a lot of you out there like me, who feel the story should sell itself, but the truth is we have to work to be found, especially in the beginning. People can’t buy your ebooks if they don’t know they exist. We have to figure out what marketing tactics we’re comfortable with and pursue them, not just for the first couple of weeks our ebook is out but for the months that follow as well.

Some things I’ve had luck with so far:

* Giving away a free ebook
* Advertising on Goodreads
* Guest blogging

2. The writing needs work

With ebooks, people can download samples before buying, so if your writing is turning the reader off in the opening chapters, that’s going to be an automatic no for folks.

We writers tend to fall into two camps: we’re either tough critics who are never satisfied with our own work, or we’re perhaps more satisfied than we should be, and it’s a shock when we get bad reviews. I’m firmly in the former camp, so I’m not sure what goes through the minds of folks in the latter, but either way we’re not the best judges of our own writing.

For a litmus test, can you answer yes to the following questions?

* If you have multiple ebooks out, does your other work occupy the top slots in Amazon’s “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” section? (Granted, if you write in different genres, this test may not be fair, but if people aren’t going on to purchase your other stories, that can be telling.)
* Are the majority of the reviews positive? (Only those from people you don’t know count.)
* Do readers write to you to say they enjoyed your work? (Bonus points if they ask about sequels.)

If these things aren’t happening, or occurrences are infrequent at best, it may be a sign that the writing isn’t there yet. E-publishing is easy, and it’s thrilling to see all the success stories out there, but rushing to publish isn’t always a good idea.

In Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell pointed out people usually need 10,000 hours to become a true expert at something, and I’ve seen other writers say your first million words are “practice.” It’s not enough just to write a lot either — we have to seek opportunities to learn and improve. Participating in writers’ workshops, where strangers are critiquing your work (and you’re critiquing their work), is a fantastic educational opportunity. Your fellow writers are probably going to be your toughest critics, so when they start telling you your stuff is ready for publication, that’s a good sign.

3. Your cover art and blurb need work

I’m still waiting for the day when I love all my covers and my blurbs are all scintillating, but I’ll get there eventually! If you’re not sure if you’re there yet, ask for feedback from others. At the least, the blurb is easy to change.

If you don’t have a lot of funds to spend on a cover designer right now, save your pennies. I’m not sure this element is quite as important as some people suggest, but it is the potential buyer’s first impression, and you can often tell a self-published book right away based on the cover alone. If it amateurish, people might assume the writing is too.

4. Your work isn’t easily categorized

My two novels fall into this camp, and it’s a bit of a bummer. They’re fantasy, but they don’t qualify as “epic fantasy” or “steampunk” or “historical fantasy” or any other sub-category people search for. This translates to less visibility, because your ebook isn’t appearing in any Top 100 lists, and it’s not coming up when people type their favorite categories into the Amazon search box.

I don’t have an answer to help you with this one, except to suggest picking the “as close as it’s going to get” categories when you’re going through the publication wizard and then tagging your novel with popular sub-categories that maybe sort of kind of apply.

5. Too much front matter before the story starts

As I mentioned, people can and do download samples before buying ebooks. On Amazon, the sample isn’t always that long, especially on a shorter work. If you have a long dedication, a list of other works, a note to the reader, a long license statement, etc., then you may not be giving your readers enough time to get into the story.

6. Your ebook is priced too high

If you have an established fan base, you can get away with charging more for your work, but if nobody has heard of you, you’re asking the reader to take a risk. The higher the price, the most risk.

You probably don’t have to price your ebook at $0.99 (though we’ve discussed some advantages of the 99-cent price point), but many consider $2.99 fair for an unknown novelist. That lets you take advantage of the 70% royalty at Amazon and make $2 per ebook (more than most traditionally published authors will get per book or ebook).

7. You just published your first ebook.

Patience isn’t one of my personal qualities, so I can understand wanting fast results. You hope you’ll be the exception, and your books will take off right out of the gate. It doesn’t usually happen that way though. With most of the success stories we’ve looked at, the authors didn’t sell many ebooks their first six to twelve months until they reached a tipping point (there’s another Gladwell book you can look up) and sales took off.

Many of the successful ebook authors have a large body of work out there too. The more ebooks you have on the virtual shelf, the more ways there are for folks to find you.

All right, that’s seven! Thanks for reading, and I hope this posts helps those who are new to e-publishing. I still have a lot to learn myself and am crossing my fingers for future success for us all.

Update: JA Konrath (bazillionaire traditionally published author turned indie) wrote up What Works: Promo for Ebooks last week, and it’s the most useful post I’ve seen on his blog. It also makes me feel terribly unoriginal for mentioning Outliers. Ah, well. The post is definitely worth a read!

Top 5 Marketing Mistakes Authors Make

Top 5 Marketing Mistakes Authors Make

by Shennandoah Diaz

Writers are an enthusiastic and passionate bunch, but when it comes to marketing, we see more confused faces, blank stares, and resistance than in any other industry. It’s easy to be idealistic about writing a book, but when it comes down to it, publishing is a business, and authors who want to sell books need to be on top of marketing. To offer some guidance on the topic, here are the top five mistakes we see authors make in their marketing efforts.
#1 Not Doing Any Marketing at All

The worst thing you can do as an author is nothing. Publishers and bookstores alike are concerned about bottom lines and profit margins. They won’t risk their money on a title with no marketing support. Even if you do manage to get it into bookstores, if you don’t drive people in to buy your book, you may be stuck with hundreds of returns as the books that never sell make their way back to the warehouse (leaving you looking like a dud not worth publishing again). In many cases, you have roughly three months from the date of publication to prove the strength of your title. If it doesn’t move, you can say goodbye bookstore and hello backlist.
#2 Waiting Until They’re Published

Everyone wants a bestseller. Did you know that bestseller status is based on velocity of sales and not on the total amount of sales? That velocity is built largely on preorders from retail stores? Retail stores start making their purchase decisions as many as six months before the date of publication, which means you have to prove you have the followers before you even have a book. You need to start building your author platform now. It takes three months to get traction, six months to see results, and a good year to build up a decent platform. Don’t wait.
#3 Expecting the Publisher to Do It All for Them

Again, publishing is a business. If you go out and start a business, you don’t expect the bank who fronts the loan to do marketing for you. Publishers take on titles based on the assumption that you will actively sell your book, and they are expecting you to deliver. Even though this can be frustrating, it’s your career hanging in the balance if the book doesn’t sell.
#4 Automating Everything

Too many people—not just authors—think that marketing is automated content. It’s not. I’m all for re-purposing content and streamlining processes, but a constant stream of one-way ads and promotional posts is a cop-out. Today’s market demands engagement. They want direct access to the real you in real time. Don’t set your marketing on cruise control.
#5 Not Making It Professional

Last but not least, too many authors plop a DIY website with no content and a few weak profiles on the Internet and attend one writer’s conference and call that being a professional author. You have to dress for success, and your marketing materials have to be up to snuff. You need to invest in professional websites, vibrant materials, and a professional appearance so you always make a great first impression. Any author with the intention of getting into Barnes & Noble should expect to spend at least $5,000 to $10,000 on marketing.

If you are an aspiring author, I implore you to take heed and put some thought and money into your marketing. To succeed in retail, you need great marketing in addition to a great book. Don’t leave it up to chance!

Shennandoah Diaz is president of Brass Knuckles Media, an uncensored PR & Marketing firm catering to creatives and the avant garde. Passionate about education, Diaz empowers creatives by sharing articles and teaching workshops on marketing, social media, and publishing. Learn more at www.brassknucklesmedia.com or at www.shennandoahdiaz.com.

Reprinted from “The Book Marketing Expert newsletter,” a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques. http://www.amarketingexpert.com

5 Thing to Know about Publicity Before You’re Published

5 Thing to Know about Publicity Before You’re Published

Whether you’re a debut author about to launch a book (congrats!) or a writer trying to get published (good luck! I hope you do!) or a sophomore or seasoned author who’s thinking of biting the publicity bullet (yes, you should!), there are things to know about publicity in advance.

I love the phone calls and emails I get from authors and writers who are thinking about publicity. I love that they are taking initiative and getting answers, they are preparing to give their book the best chance and they are eager and full of questions about publicity – what is a publicist? what do you do? will it sell books? can you make me a bestseller?

Inevitably, there are similar questions that pop up – and I’ve addressed those here – in case these help you understand what publicity is, what it isn’t and what it can and can’t do for you as an author.

5 Things You Should Know About Publicity Before You’re Published or Before You Hire a Publicist

#1 Publicity is Awareness but not Sales & Marketing

Many authors admit they know nothing, or almost nothing, about publicity – except that they know they need to do it. More often than not, publicity is confused with sales and marketing. Publicity is not sales. Publicity is not marketing. Yes, they go hand in hand. Yes, they can (and should) be synergetic. But publicity (also known as PR) does not guarantee sales. Is there a correlation between when a media hit (book reveiw/feature/blog mention) happens and sales? Yes. Usually. Almost always. But, publicity is about creating awareness and chatter about your book. Sales and marketing is about moving that sales needle. Everything from the book cover design, language on the book, colors on the cover, genre, endorsements – and much more – are well researched by sales and marketing teams to motivate people to buy that book. Publicity is about getting the media and audiences talking about a book, creating visibility for a book – and thus will generate awareness of the book and the author, and also traffic to find more out about the book either to bookstores, the author’s website, or booksellers online. And, hopefully, once there, the sales and marketing of the book (the cover, the colors, the language, the endoresements!) and what the consumer sees when they arrive at that site, will make them purchase it. So…. publicity is not sales and marketing. They are completely different animals – but both very necessary.

#2 Publicity doesn’t happen overnight

Publicity doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it’s a very long-term and strategic process. When you open up the newspaper or pick up your favorite magazine and read an article, or even see a segment on the Today show, chances are that story has been in the works for months and involves a lot of people – including a publicist spearheading it – and a lot of moving pieces and parts that take up time. Even book features and book reviews are the same way – and moreso in some cases because book space is limited and reviewers are getting pitched hundreds of books a day. There are two types of media: short lead (online, broadcast and newspaper) and long lead (print magazines/print media). Yes, short lead media allows for the feature to be published quicker, but both take a lot of back and forth and advance planning. A solid publicity campaign takes six to 12 months to execute. Be patient! Be persistent! Be realistic! In order to give your book the best chance, realize that publicity is a long term strategy.

#3 Publicity is an investment

There’s a terrible catch 22 when it comes to publicity – you gotta spend money to make money, and even then, there’s no guarantee. Often times, authors know they need publicity and they know it’s going to cost money but they need the money from the book sales in order to pay for the publicity. Yet, they need the publicity in order to create awareness of the book so people will be motivated to check it out and consider buying it. It’s a terrible conundrum. Legitimate publicists do not work on commission – I’ve been asked more than once if I would consider working off a model where I make money if and only if the author makes money. Again, see #1. Publicity is not sales. It’s like starting a business – it’s an investment. You’re paying a publicist for the effort and the work done on the publicity campaign, not on sales success. Try and find a budget that’s reasonable for you – and know it’s an investment in your book and in your long-term career.

#4 Relationships matter…and they don’t

Many times authors will ask me what kinds of relationships I have with media. There are lots of people in the industry who will say you need a publicist who has relationships because that’s the only way to get coverage. Is this true? No. Is it important to have media relationships? Yes (it’s a sign of a good publicist for sure). Is it the only way to get coverage? No. You should definitely ask this question when interviewing a prospective publicist, but don’t let people get you down that you can only get coverage if you’re on a first name basis with an editor in chief. What relationships get you is this: when I pitch media that I’ve worked with for a long time and have relationships with, I know they are going to open my emails and thoughtfully read and consider my pitch. Are they going to guarantee me coverage because I have a relationship with them? No. But, because they know me and my work, they will open it and respond and consider my angle because they know I bring them stories that matter, stories that are relevent to their audience and stories that are well thought out and comprehensive. A good publicist has relationships, builds them over time, doesn’t abuse them, and gets coverage for clients in media even when they don’t have an in or a relationship – that’s the sign that they pitched a really good story, so good that the editor bought it whether they have a relatinship or not. So yes, ask a publicist what kind of relationships they have, but more importantly ask them what kind of results they have.

#5 Buyer beware

Last, a word of warning because I have seen this happen more than once – be careful of scams. There are a ton of publicists and publicity firms out there. If it feels like a sham, if your gut is telling you it’s a scam, if it’s too good to be true, it likely is. There’s no guarantee in publicity. If someone is guaranteeing you XXX amount of media hits and interviews and agreeing to reward your money back if you’re not completely satisfied, then that’s not a legitimate or professional publicity route. If they’re promising to blast out your book to thousands of media – that’s a pitch machine and not a personal, professional publicist working to get you the best, most appropriate and targeted opportunities and exposure for your book. If you’re allowed to pay with a credit card or required to pay in full all up front – that’s not legitimate and you could very well lose all that money. I’ve seen it happen. So, interview, ask questions, ask for references and to talk with clients, follow up on those references and talk to real people. Be smart and take your time – you want a PR partner who you feel can passionately stand behind you and your book, don’t get fooled or scammed by shiny promises.

Crystal Patriarche is founder of Sparks PR Agency, a full-service boutique agency that provides strategic public relations to business clients through its BizSparksPR division and book publicity and consulting to authors through its literary BookSparksPR division. She’s also a journalist whose articles on books, entertainment, beauty, health, motherhood and careers have appeared in many national magazines, newspapers and websites. For more, visit

Purchasing Works of Art

Purchasing Works Of Art

Purchasing Works Of Art
By David Tatham

The public today seem to be very picky about what they have in their homes. A lot of people are in reality starting to invest in various forms of art that will not only be fine decoration, but a talking piece. In reality, this is one of the finest methods to tie a room together and give guests an interesting subject of conversation. People who have not had the opportunity of trying this method of investment will need to examine these excellent tips and get a superb new look.

Before looking for anything, be absolutely certain to think about the amount of money that is required for this type of purchase. Paintings are going to range in price, depending on who the artist is, and where they are living. The prospective purchaser will have to make sure that they study and calculate what they might like to buy the most. Keep in mind, this is not always going to be cheap so be ready to spend a much money for the top paintings.

Afterwards, be sure to research the various types of paintings that are at present most sought after. Naturally the modern designs are going to give the home an modern and sleek appearance that might be unseen to many people. There are brightly coloured designs as well as styles that can be quite contemporary and sleek.

The bottom line is what the collector likes and how they currently have their homes decorated.When doing some research, be sure to learn about some of the most sought after painters as well. David Shepherd is a very well known painter that truly knows how to present nature and wildlife in the most unique ways. Those who are interested in watercolours will need to make sure that they see Russell Flint. His watercolours are very vibrant and will easily be able to catch one’s attention.

Take the time researching the great masters and make sure to see what they have to offer in the way of original paintings and prints. A little patience needs to be employed throughout the art buying process. There is definitely no need to commit to any type of purchase. Browse through various galleries and check out various openings to make sure that all of the right outlets have been tapped into.

Individuals who have not invested in or purchased a work of art or signed, limited edition before will need to look in much greater detail so that they find something they will enjoy looking at whenever they come home. A reputable art dealer needs to be located so that the right paintings are purchased. Galleries are great, but they can be very highly priced. A dealer is going to have a number of different pieces that are difficult to source and incredibly unique.

Speak to these local dealers to see what stock they hold and try to find out about any exhibitions in order to make the right decision. Do not forget to take the overall delivery and installation into consideration. Professional delivery is typically included with the any large works of art, and usually the professionals will also install the painting too. These arrangements will need to be made before purchasing so discuss with the dealer about what they offer when placing the order. Buying art does not always have to be such a complicated process.

Actually, many first time collectors have been able to find the painting they had always wanted very quickly. Talk with various vendors and gallery owners to find out what is available and begin shopping today.

David Tatham, specialist picture dealer for over 25 years, has a detailed knowledge of Lowry’s biography. Signed, limited editions and paintings can be viewed and bought from the website. http://www.lowry.co.uk

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=David_Tatham


5 Ways to Engage Your Facebook Business Page Fans

5 Ways to Engage Your Facebook Business Page Fans

We’ve all heard that if you are in business, you need to have a Facebook Business page or Fan page. Now that you’ve gone ahead and built your Facebook fan page, what’s the next step? If you build it they will come… or will they?

If you now do nothing with your Facebook page, it will do nothing for you. Congratulations, you have a cyber-slug!

If you don’t have the time to spend keeping your page updated, or you don’t have the cash in your business to pay someone else to keep your page updated, you are wasting your time. It’s that simple.

We’re a fickle crowd. If you are not keeping your page current and populated with new and interesting bits and pieces to read, you won’t be top of mind with those that have liked your page.

Without posting on your wall, your fans are not seeing your page in their newsfeed. Your fans will have to remember to find and revisit your page. They won’t.

When was the last time you actively visited a page on Facebook purely because you thought of it?

Or did you see a post or comment in your newsfeed from a friend that caught your eye and you clicked through to find out more.

My guess is option 2. Most of us operate that way. We see what others are doing or talking about and then go and have a look see.

With that in mind, how can you apply the browsing habits of most online users to your Facebook page strategy to ensure people continue to visit your page?

1. Post 2 to 3 times per week

Yes, per week. Be on your wall posting articles, comments, questions, videos, photos, etc at least 2 to 3 times per week to keep your page fans engaged.

If you are not talking to your page visitors, someone else will be.

2. Post at different times of the day / different days of the week

Unless you know exactly when your page fans are online, make an effort to post at different times of the day and also, post on different days of the week.

By posting at different times of the day, you can make sure you are appearing in the newsfeed of your fans at differing times. People are online at different times of the day. Some like to early morning browse. Some jump online after lunch. Others do a quick catch up on what’s happening at dinner time or when they’ve finally put the kids to bed and have a few moments to themselves.

Likewise, some people are more active on weekdays. Others browse on the weekend when things have slowed down at work.

Know when your target market is online and post specifically to tap into their peak browsing times.

3. Repost your content

It’s perfectly fine to write one single article and post the same article to your wall 2 or 3 times. Just make sure you spread out the time between the posting.

For example, you may post an article at the start of the month and repost it at the end of the month. Why? No one can possibly be on Facebook 24 hours a day. There will be fans that would love to read your content but were not online when you first posted it.

Reposting gives people the chance to catch it on the second time around.

4. Post Content from other Sources

Be seen as in information disseminator. As well as sharing your own information, source material that you know will appeal to your target market.

If you read an article that was helpful to you in business, chances are, it will also benefit others. So share it.

Your Facebook page visitors will appreciate the gesture and may even “on-share” it, citing you as the reference point where they found it.

This is where the ability to tag in Facebook can be really useful. An article you found and posted can easily be shared as a link by someone else, with a tag to your page as a thank you for sharing. Win-win!

5. Respond to Comments or Questions

If someone posts a question or a comment on your page, reply. Sounds simple, but I’m amazed how many people don’t even bother to visit their own page to see what is happening on the wall.

Engaging with your visitors is an ideal way to establish rapport and build up a following of loyal fans who will love to hear from you.

If you do this, chances are next time they have a question in your field of expertise, they’ll ask you. Their friends will also see that they’ve posted on your Facebook business page wall and some will click through to see why.

Why Did you Build a Facebook Business Page?

Your aim when building a Facebook business page should be to generate traffic to your page, as a source of potential leads, clients and customers.

Your challenge is to keep them interested when they get there. Keep them engaged. Keep them coming back.

That way they’ll see you as the expert and seek your advice and opinion when they have an issue to solve or question to ask.

About The Author

Wendy Moore is the founder of www.savvywebwomen.com and creator of the Savvy List Building Blog – the information packed resource that shows business owners and entrepreneurs how to get in front of an audience that wants to buy what they are selling. To receive your FREE Special Report and weekly how-to articles to expand your online List Building toolkit, visit www.wendymoore.net.

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