Monday, August 27, 2007

Pulling your book out of marketing oblivion - a few ideas

And here is where we started - having to figure out how to market a book...

One caveat about the below - she doesn't tell you how to build a list. Otherwise, she's right on the money on these promotional strategies. Note her inclusion of offline as well as online tactics.

How to Distribute Your
Self-Published Book Offline

Judy Cullins, Guest Author

>Where is your book now? With a distributor? In a bookstore? On your website? Or, did it already die an early death after a few months?

New self-published authors often believe they need a distributor to sell a lot of books. They want to use Ingram or Baker & Taylor because they think they need to get their book into the "brick and mortar" bookstores like Barnes and Noble. They go through many hoops and snags to accomplish this - what I call the "traditional publishing nightmares" of inefficiency and lack of care for authors with so many hoops, some give up.

So many authors I speak with who have gone this route still have thousands of unsold copies littering up storage space. Talk about discouragement.

Distributors Can be Dangerous to Your Book's Health and Your Wallet!

One author wrote, illustrated and marketed six beautiful children's books. Her books were well reviewed and received. For some time, the profits rolled in until her distributor went bankrupt, owing her $160,000. After she stopped crying, she decided to take her books on the road - to local fairs and talks where she could KEEP all the profits.

Distributors take quite a chunk of money from the author's profits too. They charge the author for storage, and when books are returned, the author loses those sales, and has to pay the distributor too. Authors lose from the bookstores because payment is late or unreliable. Some authors wait for funds way beyond 90 days. In fact, many just don't get paid. Writers are not always good at collections either. You see, middlemen not only take most of the author's profits, they cause much stress too.

How Can Self-Published Authors Distribute Offline?

For print books (perfect bound, comb bound or stapled) or eBooks (sent over e-mail through Word or Portable Document Files)

One. Local Distribution.

For each venue, make sure to include ordering information such as your Web site URL, your company address, your toll-free 800 number, and your local phone number.

1. Distribute Through the Press

  • Create a "Power Press Release" (include tips and how-to's)
  • Get a Feature Story from the Media
  • Write a how-to article and submit

2. Distribute Through Flyers

  • Carry 25 flyers with you. Give everyone you meet a flyer with your book cover on it.
  • Include excerpts and testimonials.
  • Make it easy to buy. Offer to accept credit cards or checks.
  • Include your toll-free number, local number, web site, and e-mail.

3. Distribute through a local Talk Show - Radio and TV

  • Your audience wants "how-to" information, not other details about your book. Don't sell, inform.
  • Offer a free report to audience to capture e-mail addresses

4. Distribute at local talks to groups

  • Sell your print books at the back of the room.
  • Take a clipboard and capture everyone's e-mail at the talk. These people become your dedicated sales force and tell others. Word of mouth takes up to two or three years, so be patient for results.
  • Check your library for Clubs to offer your talk.

You don't need a traditional distributor to get your books out. Follow the above advice and note your increased sales.

If you are discouraged because traditional methods of distribution haven't brought you the profits you wanted, think Internet distribution. This method is good for the long haul and costs you the author little time or money. With Online distribution the author gets to keep all the money.

Whether you have a Print on Demand (POD) book or an eBook, you the author can become your own distributor these ways:

1. Distribute through two-step e-mail promotion campaigns

You don't need a Web site to sell products. Benefit from the easy and preferred way to buy by many people out there in cyberspace.

First Step: Send your different e-mail lists a freebie. Think of your groups - customers, clients, eZINE subscribers, ePublishers, teleclass groups, and networkers. Offer a free answer for a question with your expertise. Offer a free "Special Report," or an excerpt from your book. This will start your relationship off on a good foot. (Increased sales come from trust developed during relationship marketing more than anything else)

Second Step: Follow up the freebie with your sales letter for your product or service. Each sales message includes: headline to capture attention, background of problem, where the potential buyer wants to be, benefits and features of how to get there. Add testimonials and be sure it's credible and sincere.

Be sure to ask for the sale and include several easy ways to buy - toll-free number, fax or mail an order form placed at the end of the sales letter, or if you have a Web site, a link to where they can buy with a secure provider.

2. Distribute through your own eZINE

If you want to attract more credibility, trust, and sales, then write your own eZINE. Your potential clients and customers expect a lot of free information, so give it to them. In your eZINE include a feature article, editor's note, resources and tips. You'll get to be well known as the "expert." In each eZINE, add your sales messages for your products or service. Keep your eZINE regular- once every two weeks or once a month to start. Keep it short-a real challenge to many of us.

3. Distribute by submitting how-to free articles to top opt-in e-ZINE.

Online readers love free information. They subscribe to e-ZINE that you can submit your well-written article to. After learning acceptable article formats from a book coach, start subscribing and submitting them. Collect 5-10 edited articles before you send. Thousands, even 500,000-targeted potential buyers will see your article with your signature file on it every time you submit it.

Be sure your product is already up on a Web site. Many Web publishers will take your e or print book, sell it, and distribute it for you for a commission of 50% or so. This is great for people who do not have their own site.

4. Distribute through your signature file on every e-mail you send

At the bottom of each e-mail is a signature file. It should have your name and title, your top benefit, a free offer, a link to where your book is sold, your e-mail and Web address, and your local phone number. Everyone on the net accepts this subtle promotion form. If you do not include it, you are passing up an easy way to draw attention to your product.

5. Distribute through your own Web site

Creating your Web site with marketing pizzazz. Don't just be creative and put up colorful graphic. Put up order pulling ad copy that convinces your visitor to buy. Create a sales letter that includes links to the buying page where your customers can buy. Be sure your sales letter is long enough to include your customers' resistance, benefits and features of your book, and multiple testimonials. Ask a book or Web coach to guide you.

6. Distribute through someone else's Web site

Other ePublishers want your books - both print and eBooks. Each wants you to write a 100 word or less blurb (including benefits and testimonials). They will sell, distribute, and keep track of your sales, sending you a check every few weeks or so. They take different commissions. Most give you royalties of 30-50% depending on whether it is a print or eBook. You may want to investigate

7. Get an ISBN number

When you put an ISBN number on your book, you are listed in "Books-in-Print." Libraries, bookstores and ISBN require it. For the money and amount of work this is, you may do better than putting your energy into other Online venues. You pay $225 for 10 or $800 for 100 today.

8. Distribute through a sales letter straight from your e-mail

Every time I want to promote my teleclasses, I send a sales letter. The letter follows the free report I already sent a few weeks ahead to the same egroup. You may already have your eZINE subscribers in a list. Collect all kinds of lists of e-mails to include satisfied customers, teleclass participants, ePublishers, or fellow networkers.

Send sales letters that promote your books, your classes, or your service. Once, I learned this follow-up method of staying in touch with my target audience, sales rose from $75 a month to $3000 a month in about a year. Each month, count profits, not numbers of books sold! Internet authors get to keep all the money!

After several years of research and submitting to traditional publishing and distribution venues, I got discouraged and decided to become an author's advocate. I turned to the Internet 2 years ago, and find that with a little delegation, a little study with a knowledgeable coach, a little attention, and a little money, my great-selling eBooks earn enough for me to make my living this kind, gentle, and easy way. I encourage you to try it!

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