Timing, Tools, and Tenacity

August 22nd, 2014

This morning I was finally able to remove a splinter or maybe it was a thorn that had embedded itself into one of my fingers. I’ve been aware of this foreign object in my body for a couple of weeks. The spot would swell, turn red, fester a bit and boy was it tender. But the thorn wouldn’t come close enough to the surface that I could remove it, until this morning.

Today, I noticed that the tenderness level was high and there was that tell-tale sign that whatever it was had finally come to the surface. Armed with alcohol, a needle, and a pair of tweezers, I went to work poking and squeezing until finally a teeny tiny, almost microscopic foreign object appeared. My operation was successful and immediately, the annoying pain subsided.

When it was over, I couldn’t even see whatever it was that caused all of the discomfort. All I know is that it was there and it needed to be dealt with.

This reminded me of ideas and plots. As a writer, do you ever feel a story festering inside you, nagging to be brought to the surface? Sometimes the idea will nudge you for weeks, months, or even years before you ever allow it to see the light of day. And once it’s out and you can see it in word form dancing across your computer screen, you feel a sense of relief from deep inside and, perhaps, accomplishment.

Let me tell you, success won’t come without some discomfort. For a writer, this may be in the form of uncertainty and even rejection. I suggest, however, that if you stick with your project, use the right tools, approach it with knowledge, you are bound to experience the level of success you desire.

I write books that are designed to be tools for hopeful, struggling, and otherwise serious authors. Check them out here: http://www.matilijapress.com. If you’re not sure which one is right for you at this time, contact me here: PLFry620@yahoo.com

Should You Give Your Books Away?

August 19th, 2014

Today I want to talk about giveaways. Recently, one of my clients began planning a blog tour. She decided to make five stops where the blogger would either review her book, interview her, or she would be a guest blogger. Some of the blog hosts suggested that she participate in giveaways and she asked me what I thought.

It has been my experience that there’s more interaction at blog sites where there’s a book giveaway.

If visitors don’t leave a comment, you have no idea how many stopped by and read your review or blog post. And visitors aren’t apt to leave a comment unless they know the author, they are particularly taken by your book or the post, OR they have a chance to get something for FREE.

So what can you give away? I generally offer three of my Klepto Cat Mystery books on Kindle and, perhaps, a print copy. I specific that I’ll ship in the US only. When I don’t offer these books for free, there are very few comments left at the site. When I do, there are sometimes dozens more comments.

Amazon.com has a book giveaway program for authors. I know people who have gained tons of recognition through these giveaways. One author I know gave over 37,000 books away during one of these events. But I’m not sure it did him any good–in the present, anyway. This was his first and only book. I hope to do an Amazon giveaway–have a free-book day or two. But I have 5 books in the series. It makes more sense to give away book number one in hopes that readers will then purchase other books in the series.

Everyone loves a freebie. I saw people standing in long lines at a self-publishing company’s booth at a major book festival last Spring waiting to receive free books from authors they did not know. When we hand out little heart stickers from our booth that say “I love books,” we get visitors seeking us out in order to get one.  And people will sign up at your website for freebies that you offer. What is the percentage of people who ultimately purchase a book or tell others about your book, is unknown. I guess the closest we can come to determining the success of offering your books free is by the number of people who sign up and, in the case of the Amazon free-book program, the number of future orders.

To learn more about my books for authors and my new fiction series, The Klepto Cat Mysteries, visit my websites at http://www.matilijparess.com and http://www.patriciafry.com

I offer a freeby at my Patricia Fry website.

 

How to Make the Right Decisions for Your Book

August 14th, 2014

There are many ways to conduct research—lots of avenues to the material and information you desire or require for your writing projects. One is to ask an expert. I’m often inundated with questions from clients and I don’t mind responding, if I can. However, many of the inquiries are better satisfied through the author’s own research efforts.

I typically suggest that authors check with other authors of similar books to find out what’s working for them. This is a good way to choose an appropriate title for your book, website name, distribution method, promotional activities, book cover and so forth.

Study books within your book’s topic or genre. Visit author websites and do a thorough search. In order to discover how the author is marketing his or her book, for example, study their media page. Initiate dialog with other authors. Look at their Amazon pages. Google them to find out more about the author and the book.

I’m not suggesting that you copy anyone. Rather, you should study what works for others and use the premise for your similar book. For example, if successful authors of fiction are selling thousands of Kindle copies, put your book in the Kindle program. If most books in your book’s category use dramatic cover styles, consider following suit.

Who better to guide your success than others who are experiencing success with similar books?

If you are new to publishing, be sure to check out my book, Publish Your Book, Proven Strategies and Resources for the Enterprising Author. It’s available in print, audio, and digital at Amazon.com and elsewhere. Or order it here: http://www.matilijapress.com/PublishYourBook.html

 

 

Devise a Marketing Plan

August 11th, 2014

You should have some idea about how to market a book before ever getting involved in the publishing industry. And you can start preparing for this enormous task before your book is a book.

  • Study books, blogs, and articles about book promotion.
  • Find out how other authors of similar books are promoting them.
  • Determine what activities are most conducive to promoting your particular book.
  • Inventory your skills related to promoting your book
  • Adopt and develop those skills you’ll need.
  • Make connections with appropriate individuals and services.
  • Outline those marketing tasks you plan to pursue.

Book promotion is a huge part of successful publishing. Do not treat it as an afterthought or a hobby you might pursue occasionally. If you were ever going to be obsessive about any portion of the publishing process, it should be the book promotion phase.

For more about book promotion, study my book, Promote Your Book, Over 250 Proven, Low-Cost Tips and Techniques for the Enterprising Author. It’s at Amazon.com in print, audio, and for your Kindle.

 

Why Do You Need an Editor?

August 10th, 2014

All writers need another set of eyes. If you haven’t figured out how to grow them, you’d better consider hiring an editor for your marvelous manuscript before considering publishing.

Sure, if you’re going with a traditional publisher, they will have their editorial team go through your book. But they expect your manuscript to be clean and accurate through and through before they will even consider it for publication. Always hire a good book editor before submitting your manuscript to any publisher or publishing service.

You’ve probably already found out that most pay-to-publish companies will edit your manuscript for an additional fee. But I have to tell you that from what I hear and observe, these editors do little more than run your manuscript through spell-check. I would not trust them with my manuscript.

Hire your own editor—someone who is accustomed to editing book manuscripts. Preferably hire someone who is also familiar with your topic/genre and the whole publishing field. You’ll get a whole lot more for your buck.

It’s not cheap to engage the services of a good editor. An editor will charge anywhere from $500 to $5,000 (or more) to edit a manuscript of 30,000 to 150,000-words depending on the shape of it. I suggest getting an estimate and a sample edit from several editors. Asking for references is always a good idea.

Hiring a good editor is so important that I recommend authors start saving up money before they start writing the book so they’re prepared when the time comes to shop for a good editor.

Be Prepared to Market Your Book

August 9th, 2014

Ahhh, book marketing. Now there’s a complex topic that every author who wants to experience success, must address. The truth is, no matter which publishing option you choose, you—the author—are responsible for marketing your book. Always consider yourself the CEO of your book, especially when it comes to book promotion.

So what does it take to promote a book?

  • An understanding of book promotion in this fiercely competitive industry.
  • Your undivided attention.

It also takes time, effort, and skills. Now the skills you have or choose to hone in order to promote your novel might be totally different from those required for the memoirist or the author of a business book. And your personality might come into play when considering the type of activities you’ll engage in.

I know authors who are outgoing and social. They love speaking before groups and teaching workshops in order to promote their how-to, informational, or self-help books, for example. Those authors with disabilities might do all of their promotion via the Internet. The promotional activities you engage in, might depend on the type of book you’re promoting. Thus, most authors come face-to-face with the learning curve when it comes to book promotion.

If you are unsure about and ill-equipped for book promotion, you really must get yourself up to speed. Keep in mind that no one will buy a book they don’t know exists. And no one else cares enough about your book to give it the marketing edge it needs in order to sell.

Here again, I suggest reading books on book marketing. I highly recommend my book, Promote Your Book, Over 250 Proven, Low-Cost Tips and Techniques for the Enterprising Author. Subscribe to newsletters and attend conferences and lectures focusing on book promotion. See the resources list at my website: http://www.matilijapress.com/forwriters/resources.html

If you think that writing the book was a big deal—took a lot of time, energy, and effort—just wait until you’re faced with the task of book promotion. By the way, do you know how long you’ll need to stay in marketing mode with your book? Only for as long as you want it to sell. Yes, it’s ongoing and forever.

Your Publishing Options

August 8th, 2014

There are more publishing options today than ever before and it can be downright confusing to any author, let alone one new to the industry. My book, Publish Your Book, gives a concise and thorough overview of your options and the possible consequences of your choices. It’s at Amazon.com in print, audio, and for your Kindle.

Here’s a brief rundown. Basically, there is the traditional royalty publisher. Some of them require that you contact them through an agent, but most of them welcome and, in fact, prefer working with new authors with good projects. Traditional publishers invest in your book. They generally take over all costs. However, there are some creative contracts coming out of publishing houses. Some may purchase your book outright or offer you a co-publishing opportunity, for example.

There’s the self-publishing (pay-to-publish) company where you put up all the money and they arrange for a printer and book binder.

You can self-publish—establish your own publishing company.

If you’ve studied the publishing industry (highly recommended), you’ve learned the importance of choosing a genre and or subject that is popular with or needed/wanted by a large readership or a strong niche group. And you’ve learned the value of writing for that audience. Before

approaching any publisher or publishing service, make sure you have a salable product (a book that people want—a book with an audience). Then consider the pros and cons of each publishing option to discover which one is right for you and for your project.

You might want to self-publish (establish your own publishing company), so you have complete control. You may decide to hire a self-publishing (pay-to-publish) company and pay them to produce the book. If you do that, I suggest you thoroughly research those you are considering. And do not buy into their promotional packages. Most of these packages are worthless.

Perhaps you definitely want your book represented by a traditional publisher. But don’t make this choice simply because you want to avoid promoting your book, because you will still be the marketing agent for your book. Sure, a publisher will probably do some promotion, but he will expect you to do the bulk of it.

For marketing ideas and an understanding of book promotion, read my book, Promote Your Book, Over 250 Proven, Low-Cost tips and Techniques for the Enterprising Author.  It’s at Amazon.com in print, audio, and for your Kindle. Or order your copy here: http://www.matilijapress.com/PromoteYourBook.html

 

Prepare Yourself for Publishing Success

August 7th, 2014

What are some of the most important things an author should do before publication? Here’s a list:

  • Study the publishing industry.
  • Understand your publishing options.
  • Educate yourself about book marketing.
  • Hire a good book editor.
  • Devise a marketing plan.

Subsequent posts will focus on some of these points. Today, let’s discuss the first one—study the publishing industry. Why is this important?

I tell authors that they should consider themselves the CEO of their books from day one. Even if you decide to engage an agent and/or approach traditional publishers with your project, in order to succeed, you must take charge. Who knows your project better than you do? Who cares as much about it?

Before you go with any pay-to-publish company, sign with an agent, or work with a publisher, educate yourself about the publishing industry. I suggest starting this research even before you decide to write a book. Why? You want to make sure you are writing a book that will fly in today’s crowded, competitive marketplace and you need to know how to make it fly.

When you visit Amazon.com and see books with a lot of five-star reviews, when you hear that a book is selling by the thousands, why do you think that is? Most of the time it is due to the author’s efforts. The author knows something about the publishing industry, what makes it work, what makes a book popular, how to market books and so forth. One thing these authors have learned is that you must know who your audience is and write your book for that audience.

This is a good starting place for those of you who are new to publishing. Read books about publishing and book marketing, subscribe to newsletters, and attend workshops and lectures related to publishing. You can visit my website and browse my resource pages to learn what books and newsletters I recommend. http://www.matilijapress.com/forwriters/resources.html

Your 3-Tiered Book Marketing Plan

August 6th, 2014

1: Outline your most promising book promotion activities. By now you must be aware of the many book promotion activities you could engage in. Let’s start with those that make the most sense in light of your particular project and your proposed audience. As we discussed in yesterday’s blog post, consider who comprises your audience, where they shop, what programs/lectures they attend related to this topic or genre—in other words, which activities are most appropriate for this audience and what venues do they frequent?

Many authors stick strictly to those venues and activities that are most comfortable for them. Perhaps they’ve heard that social media is the best way to get word out about your book, and they put all of their energy into this channel. Is social media actually the best way to market? Probably not for all books and all category of reader. But I believe that it should be a part of most book marketing plans.

So which activities fit most realistically into a marketing plan for you and for your book? How can you reach the greatest number of your readers?

I suggest making a 3-tiered list:

  • Priority activities that you believe are most conducive to promoting your particular book.
  • Secondary activities you think will sell books. These might be activities you pursue occasionally—local book festivals, community auctions, radio and blog radio gigs, teaching a course at the local college, etc.
  • Activities that might or might not work for you and your product, but are worth a try. This might include running a contest through your website, setting up your own workshops or a conference related to the theme of your book, going door-to-door with your book, having house parties to promote your book and so forth.

2: List the tasks necessary in pursuing each activity on your priority list and note how much time is involved. Maybe you want to go out and speak on behalf of your book. What are the steps to making this happen? What skills do you need in place? How far in advance do you need to start planning/taking action? First, do you need to learn or brush up on your public speaking skills? It might be necessary to join a Toastmasters club or a storytelling group a year in advance of your book launch in order to prepare for this important book promotion activity.

When you have a book in hand and some public speaking experience, most likely you’ll want to start by speaking to groups that meet regularly. Locate a list of appropriate clubs and organizations, begin contacting the program chairpersons, prepare a handful of speeches you can present and create promotional and informational materials to hand out. If you want to apply as a workshop leader for out of town meetings and conferences, there are also travel plans to take into consideration. And in either of these scenarios, publicity is an issue. Factor in each newspaper and radio station requirements for receiving press materials.

If you plan to sell books in the back-of-the-room when you speak, you will probably want to set up a merchant account system so you can accept credit cards. Many authors now use a credit card reader on their iPhones/iPads, etc.

Perhaps you also want to set up a website, contact your email list, start blogging, get book reviews and have your print book published in Kindle form. Use this plan-of-action formula: research each activity, consider the time-frame, gather materials and potential partners and then take appropriate action to implement the activity. Consider priorities. You’ll want to have a website before you start contacting reviewers and those on your massive email list. However, you can hold off on having the Kindle version of your book set up. When your book is on Kindle, this will give you another reason to promote to your massive email list.

3: Implement your plan. Once you have a plan in place that makes sense to you, implement it. But don’t get discouraged if you don’t sell as many books as you hoped, the turn-out was disappointing, your presentation seemed to fall flat, you’re not getting many reviews, people aren’t commenting at your blog site, and so forth. If you’re just starting out as a published author and you’re not accustomed to the task of marketing, there’s often a learning curve.

If you expect to sell a carton of books after speaking to the PTA of a small private school or during a signing at even a major bookstore, you’re probably going to be disappointed. But this does not mean that you failed in some way. This is not a sign that you should never speak in public or do a book signing again. This simply means that next time, you need to prepare more thoroughly, you should implement a more aggressive publicity plan and/or you should adopt more realistic expectations. On the other hand, maybe this activity isn’t the best way to sell your particular book. Give it one more try using different tactics and then decide.

Book promotion is not an exact science. It takes a keen understanding of your audience and a willingness to be flexible on their account. It also takes your full attention. Use this 3-tiered marketing plan and then keep doing what works and adjust those things that don’t meet your grandest expectations the first few times around.

As a reminder, Patricia Fry is the author of 45 books, including Publish Your Book, Proven Strategies and Resources for the Enterprising Author (Allworth Press, 2012) and Promote Your Book, Over 250 Proven, Low-Cost Tips and Techniques for the Enterprising Author (Allworth Press, 2011). Her next book, scheduled for launch in the fall of 2012 is Talk Up Your Book, How to Sell Your Book Through Public Speaking, Interviews, Signings, Festivals, Conferences and More. www.patriciafry.com and www.matilijapress.com. After 40 years of writing for publication—and supporting herself with her writing for most of this time—Patricia has produced her first novel series—the Klepto Cat Mystery series. Available at Amazon.com.

 

Your Successful Book Marketing Plan

August 5th, 2014

 

Most authors have fairly clear publishing goals. You know that you want to publish the book you’ve been working on for months (or years). You envision your book ranking high at Amazon.com and selling briskly at your website. But do you have a plan to make this happen?

I once had a newby, as yet unpublished, author tell me that promotion would not be necessary in his case because his book would sell itself. And this might be. Once people see this book, they might beg to buy it. Even in this unlikely scenario, however, someone will have to do something in order to bring the book to the potential customers’ attention. No one will buy a book they don’t know exists. Make sense?

Okay, now that we have that settled, what steps will you take in order to meet your book marketing goals? Are you still a tad overwhelmed by the concept of book promotion? Perhaps I can help. Consider this Three-Tiered Marketing Plan for Authors.

The Right Book for the Right Audience

First, let’s focus on the product. That’s right, your book. Have you written the right book for the right audience? Did you do the homework necessary to identify a valid need or desire for this particular book by a large enough target audience? Are you certain that your nonfiction book is different enough from other books on this topic—that it has benefits not available in other books? For fiction, have you chosen a genre that is selling? Have you read many other books in this genre so that you’re clear on the elements of a successful young adult fantasy, historical romance, thriller, etc.?

Do you have a realistic handle on the size of your target audience? Who is most likely to purchase your book and why? How many people are in this category? Where do they purchase books of this type? At Amazon.com for their Kindle? At specialty stores related to the theme of the book? At conferences and other presentations related to the business or other topic represented in your book?

These are the things you need to know before you publish a book, let alone start thinking about marketing it. In fact, book marketing and promotion are so closely entwined with the writing and publishing process that you should avoid making decisions about one without considering the other, especially during the writing stages of your project.

Once you are certain that you have developed a viable product with a large (or even a solid niche) audience, it is time to start setting goals. If you self-published or went with a pay-to-publish company, you may hope to earn your editorial and publishing expenses back within the year or even make a profit. You might have your mind set on selling a sufficient number of books to impress a traditional publisher enough to issue you a contract. Perhaps you just want to generate a steady part-time income you can count on while writing the second book in your series. Only you know the sales numbers you need to reach in order to meet your goals. You might be happy just putting your book into the hands of 500 satisfied customers or you may feel a need to sell thousands of copies.

Perhaps this 3-tiered plan will help you meet your personal and professional goals.

I’ll outline it in tomorrow’s blog post.