by Jillian Bullock
After 20 years of back and forth writing my memoir, Here I Stand, I finally got serious. I dedicated two solid years of writing three hours a day along with one year of edits after I presented my book to an editor. Although the book wasn't published yet I started getting media interviews, which garnished interest from movie producers about optioning the rights to my life story.
Here I Stand tells the unforgettable true story of my life as a young, African-American woman who defies the odds by becoming a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, an award winning filmmaker and a competitive martial artist after I overcame life with the Philadelphia Italian Mafia, rape, drug addiction, violence, criminal activity, homelessness, prostitution, and teenage motherhood.
Traditional Publishing vs. Self-Publishing
As an independent filmmaker and screenwriter, many of my filmmaking colleagues suggested that I get the book published as fast as possible in order to do a "book/movie tie-in." I wanted to get my book published the traditional way, so I sent out numerous query letters to literary agents. I got a few emails from agents who wanted to read my proposal. Most of the agents ultimately passed. One agent, however, loved the proposal and wanted to represent me. As she worked her magic sending the proposal out to various publishers, I did some research on the publishing process. I realized if I did go the traditional publishing route it could take up to two years before Here I Stand was on the market. Thinking back to what the film folks said two years and the interest from movie producers could die.
To get my book out as soon as possible, I turned to self-publishing. After doing extensive research on companies, I decided to go with Infinity Publishing. The representative who was assigned to me was thorough, patient and accessible. In six months time I was holding my memoir in my hands. It was an absolutely wonderful feeling to know after 20 years and much blood, sweat and tears I was now an author.
A Life Altering Moment
With the book available, I was ready to deal with the producers who expressed interest in Here I Stand. While I tried to work a deal, which meant finding a producer/director I clicked with and who understood my vision for the film, I started doing motivational speaking. Not only was I able to share my story of how I transformed my life, but I was allowed to sell books after the speech.
Surprisingly, I wasn't prepared for people's response to my story. Yes, it was brutal and hardcore, considering my upbringing and horrific experiences, but I noticed that people were moved by my triumph of overcoming the odds. I made a point to share with people how one's past doesn't dictate what their future will be and despite the obstacles, challenges and hardships people may endure they still can go on to achieve happiness, success and greatness in life.
After one speech, a woman came up to me with tears in her eyes. She said, "I'm going to call you Dr. Jill because your words heal." With that one line my life completely changed. Afterwards, I started getting emails, phone calls and letters addressed to - Dr. Jill. I think the woman I spoke to must have been either a great publicist or an angel. I had a moment of clarity and now I realized it wasn't just about me obtaining a movie deal for my book, it became something much bigger. In order for me to truly reach out and help people, I went on to get a certification as a Professional Life Coach. I also decided to return to college in January 2013 to begin working on acquiring a Ph.D. in Psychology, so I could actually earn the knowledge, education and title of "Dr. Jill."
When my book was first published, I never thought about how my experiences could help someone change or improve their lives. At the time I was writing more for myself. I wanted to purge those emotional demons I held inside as a result of all I've been through. Now, as I continue to look for the right home for my story with the right producer, director or movie studio, helping people has become a much more important mission for me. As I continue giving speeches and writing books, it is important that I use my words to make a difference in the lives of others.
Jillian Bullock, a former reporter for the Wall Street Journal, is an award winning filmmaker, a fitness expert, a motivational speaker, and a certified professional life coach. After graduating from La Salle University in 1991, Jillian got an internship on the set of Spike Lee's film, Malcolm X. She formed Jaguar Productions, Inc., a film and sports entertainment company in 1995. Jillian has sold two scripts, one in 2010, entitled A Champion Inside, and one in 2011, entitled A Scar Across My Heart.
She is the CEO of Jillian Bullock Enterprises, LLC, a fitness, wellness and empowerment company. Jillian is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Psychology and she is working on two new books, A Warrior's Heart: From Crack Street, to Wall Street, to Hollywood, a sequel to her memoir HERE I STAND, and Elite Warriors: How to Look, Feel and Perform Like an Athlete, Even if You Don't Want to Become One.
As a martial artist (she holds a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and Wing Chun) and a boxer, Jillian is also a freelance writer for several publications and writes articles on the following topics: fitness, martial arts, boxing, health, wellness, rape and sexual assault, and domestic violence. She has been featured on several TV and radio programs and interviewed for numerous magazines and newspapers, including People, Essence, Ebony, Yahoo Sports!, New York Times, and more.
For more information, visit www.jillianbullockenterprises.com.
I was an English major in college, so my homework for four years was basically to read. I loved the classics in school – Jane Austen, William Faulkner, John Steinbeck. Now that I’m an Author Advocate for Infinity Publishing, I find myself falling in love with every book an author tells me about.
It’s almost impossible for me not to get excited about a book while I’m talking to authors. They are so passionate about their stories and excited to see all their hard work finally come to fruition.
Sometimes I think the memoirs are my favorite because every Infinity Publishing author has such a unique and interesting life story. Other times, I think the children’s books are the best because it’s so important to get children excited about reading. But then there are the novels – adventure, romance, science fiction – the characters and stories are so fascinating. And I can’t forget about the nonfiction books in which authors relate intriguing and useful information about all kinds of topics.
Just as every book is different, every book needs a different publishing plan. Would the book be best in print, ebook, or audio book format? Or perhaps all three formats? Which marketing plan will get the word out to the most readers? Would your book benefit from professional copyediting or translation services? What are the advantages of extended distribution for your book?
These are the questions that Author Advocates are here to answer. Everyday I talk to authors who are nervous about taking the next step. Some have done extensive research on publishers and others don’t know where to start or what questions they should be asking. Either way, they want to make sure they are making the right decision.
So if you are thinking about publishing a book, we want to hear from you. You did the hard part – you wrote the book. Now let us guide you to the publishing package that is right for your book. Whether you are putting the last period in place or just starting Chapter One, we would love to hear more about your book and tell you more about what it means to be an Infinity Publishing author.
Photo courtesy of mvttley.
Lindsey Huckabee is an Author Advocate for Infinity Publishing. You can tell Lindsey about your book by emailing her at Lindsey@infinitypublishing.com.
By Catherine C. Brooks
Write a book about Mathews County Post offices, it seemed an impossible job. After a leader of businessmen and women in our general area read my articles in a regional magazine for over two-years, he asked me to write a book about Post Offices in Mathews County, Virginia. For a time, I felt the idea absurd. However, I had a copy of the initial research that my maternal aunt had done. She spent six weeks during the summer of 1961, worked in the Postal Archives in Washington D.C., and gathered information about Mathews County Post Offices. Then, I contacted the historian of the Mathews County Historical Society and found a wealth of information sat in their files. I spent multiple hours hand copying it. On other mornings when the sun was shining, I drove to the areas and took pictures of any remaining older buildings that housed the post offices in former years. Contact with postmasters that were still living or serving the local offices gave more input for my book. As I wrote about one community after another, the title became obvious, “Walk with Me”.
After spending months researching and writing my books that relate local history, I find promotion and sales a challenge when the first shipment arrives from Infinity Publishing. I live in a rural area with a limited population. However, with one or more reviews in hand, I contact the local weekly newspaper. They not only publish a review, but also send a reporter for a photo and details as to why I wrote the book last published. The ideal is that a review, with an accompanying ad, precedes my first book signing by only a few days. I always have copies of previously published titles on hand at each new book signing. It is unbelievable how many of the older publications I sell.
Mathews County has a Market Days celebration, which is similar to a county fair, the first Saturday after Labor Day each year. I get permission to set up in Mathews Memorial Library on Main Street with books and a pen. It is the largest book sales and signing that I have each year. The library doesn’t make a charge, but I always give them a copy of the latest book.
I appeared on the local radio station once with a new publication. I don’t know how many sales can be contributed to that interview. However, every exposure helps.
It was a surprise when I learned someone had placed “Walk with Me” in the Mathews County archives in the Virginia Library, Richmond, Virginia. The small county had 44 post offices with 38 open at one time. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, citizens walked, rode horse back, or if affluent, rode in carriages to the general store with a post office in the corner for a distance of up to five miles. They wanted to make one trip take care of their needs.
“Didn’t Know We Were Poor” is a favorite with the women. It’s about life in the county before and during the Great Depression. “Photographic Memories Of Mathews County” competes with other photo books, but readers ask for more pictures in another book.
My book about World War II shows how the war affected conditions on the home front as well as overseas. “War Brought Trials and Anxieties …” contains newspaper clippings, diaries, and letters from my fiancé. There is little about actual battles, and more about the emotional affect the war had on both servicemen and those at home.
Catherine C. Brooks has a passion for local history, having lived in Mathews County, Virginia, since birth. She operated “The Craftsman Shop,” a retail fabric store, with a workroom for window treatments/furniture covers business, for 25 years after her husband’s death. Since retirement, she enjoys sharing the history that she has lived. Other than work in a local church and enjoying family and friends, Brooks spends her time writing or telling about yesteryears. She has found life in Mathews, a rural county on the Bay, where few farms remain as they did the first decades of her life, worthwhile. Her first book, “Walk with Me,” continues to be in demand, and calls for “Didn’t Know We Were Poor,” War Brought Trials and Anxiety,” and “Photographic Memories of Mathews County” increase. Her church denomination’s newsletter and several magazines have published Brooks’ articles.
Photo courtesy of Kimberly Vohsen.
by Brittany Lavin
Nothing is more effective for promoting a book than hearing about the book directly from the author. Without a doubt, it’s the author saying a few words pitching the merits of his or her book that will motivate consumers to order their book. Generating interest in the book is the entire focus of every promotional effort—the goal is to produce the buzz that persuades the buyer to purchase the author’s book.
For decades authors trekked to bookstores throughout the land to talk up their books with folks attending these in store presentations, however, in recent years there are fewer bookstores hosting author book signings and the attendance at these events has dropped drastically with the increasing popularity of the Internet. Every month more folks were discovering the ease of accessing and benefitting from the various offerings, opportunities, and informative features found on the far reaching digital web supporting and encouraging social networking.
Folks long accustom to communicating via letters, handwritten notes, and phone calls carried by miles of wire, are now suddenly zapped into a lightening flash speed of communicating with the ability of reach out and thoughtfully touch people almost anywhere in the world with a smart-phone call or through typed words in emails, instant-messages, and brief twitters or tweaks. And then came blogs—blogs where the reflective thoughts posted by bloggers hang accessible forever in the vastness of cyber-space.
Authors promoting their books were some of the first individuals to benefit from publishing book dedicated websites and posting an array of content on their blogs. Their informative content provided exposure to visitors and readers to buzz to others about their book content. Thankfully, the technologists then found a way to deliver the voice and vision of individuals via easy to produce videos recorded with digital cameras included as a feature of their smart phone or captured by the laptop computer’s build-in video cam. Soon individually produced and distributed videos were popping up like spring mushrooms all across the web.
Never in the long history of book publishing, have individual authors been graced with free and open access through a public portal to reach beyond the pages of their books and connect directly with people interested in knowing more about the authors and their books.
Infinity would like all of our authors to have this opportunity to promote their books
You, the author, need to take the first step by creating a book video to benefit from this marvelous promotional opportunity.
Here are a few basic steps for making it happen:
1. Prepare an outline of what you want to mention in your video. Some folks like to have a script, but the last thing you want to do is to come off looking like you are reading something word-for-word. You’re the author and you need to project a high degree of ease and comfort when you talk about your book.
2. Practice your presentation in front of a mirror so you’re able to deliver your message in 1-3 minutes—if you go longer than 5 minutes you’ll lose their attention. Smile and be natural, you want to try to have the demeanor of meeting an old friend who just asked you about your book and you only have a few minutes to talk with them.
3. The keywords are “talk with them”—don’t get all uppity and start talking down to them. This is a sure turnoff, so be sure to come from a place of talking “with” rather than “to” them.
4. Dress for comfort by selecting a shirt, blouse, or sweater that’s fashionable and is in keeping with what you normally wear in public. You’ll be striving for a head-and-shoulder shot that features your face—keep the background simple and uncluttered so viewers are focused on what you are saying and not trying to figure out what’s going on in the surroundings.
5. This is a solo performance, so don’t include spouses, cute kids or lovable pets—you are the spotlighted star.
6. Be sure your closing includes where viewers can order your book and the briefest URL to your book dedicated website. You want them to visit your website to read more about you and your book.
7. By producing your own video in the comfort of your home you have the ability of redoing your video to smooth out any glitches and misspoken words.
8. Variety increases attention and the reach of your videos, so vary the thrust of your future video content while keeping the primary focus on your book, for example:
A. First and foremost talk about your book—this is the topic you’re most familiar with so always lead with what you know best and benefits you the most.
B. Create a video to promote attendance at a future event you will be participating in with your book—be sure to include where and when with contact info for folks interested in meeting you in person.
C. Talk about your publishing experience with Infinity Publishing—be specific with regards to mentioning any unique features we provided that directly benefited the publication and distribution of your book, or simply say a few words about your experience with us.
D. Reader reviewers are great when posted on your book dedicated website, but you can increase their impact by making a video that includes what others have said about your book.
8. Submit your book videos to Infinity Publishing and we’ll post them on Infinity’s blog and other video outlets—exposure is the name of the game and the more exposure for your book is all the better for increasing book sales. Your book dedicated website and Facebook are great places for you to post links to all of your book promotion videos.
Invest some of your time reviewing book videos created by other authors and make notes about what aspects worked well that can be incorporated into your presentation, and also learn from what came across as things you want to avoid doing. With a bit of ongoing research and carefully planning your approach, your finished results will be more effective and you’ll reach a larger audience with your book video.
Perhaps the most important recommendations are to keep your book video simple and stay focused on the primary information you are conveying to every viewer clicking on to see and hear what you have to say about your book.
By: Christopher A. Master, Lead Cover Designer
How big is a postage stamp?
The answer: .875” x 1”.
Most of us who have published a book have been conditioned to believe that success equates to having your book featured prominently on bookstore displays. I fell into this thought process when publishing myself. This is true for select high-profile authors with names like King, Rowling or Sedaris. The truth of the matter is that in recent years, a larger portion of book sales has been coming from online book retailers than from brick and mortar locations.
Fundamental 2: Think Digitally
Many, if not all, online retailers will list your book for sale with just a thumbnail snapshot of the book cover (a larger version is only viewable by clicking through to the product page) alongside other similar titles. On Amazon, for example, this thumbnail size is just .75” x 1.25”.
Why should an author worry about the size of a thumbnail image of their cover?
Consider these covers featuring two vastly different girls: Girl with a Pearl Earring and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Both covers look great when taken at full size, yet the thumbnails tell a different story. In the case of Pearl, both the title and the pearl earring are virtually lost at the reduced size. In contrast, the bold text of the Dragon title maintains easy legibility even as the art becomes decidedly less clear.
You can conduct your own similar comparison. Pick a handful of books that you like or that you have on your own bookshelf and look at their corresponding thumbnails on Amazon. Is the text legible? How does the artwork look at the reduced size? Now, if you hadn’t known anything about this book prior to seeing the thumbnail, would you have still purchased it?
Be sure to keep these sizing issues in mind when devising your own cover concept. As I mentioned earlier, many of your sales will actually be coming from beyond the bookstore. Potential customers will be viewing your book’s information (and many others) on a computer, tablet, and even their cell phone. Sales can be helped or hindered by something as small as a postage stamp.
Does your book cover design need a facelift? Click here to view some of our cover design samples. Our professional team of designers would love to work with you to create a new, more modern and digitally friendly look.
Click here for Part 1.
Christopher Master works as the Lead Cover Designer at Infinity Publishing. With 10+ years of cover design experience, he has amassed a design portfolio of well over 1000 book covers.
He has been married to his intelligent and very patient wife for nearly a decade. In 2010, they welcomed their first child, Sylvie, who is a now toddling machine. A few years back, Christopher published a collection of humorous true childhood stories entitled Tiny Cracker Zoo. Between work, family and freelance design, he strives to find the time to pursue writing a second book, this one focusing, perhaps, on the misadventures of new fatherhood.
by Sandra Poirier-Diaz, president of Smith Publicity
If your goal is to sell books or attract new business, then bylined articles are a great way to reach your target audiences with a controlled message showcasing your expertise.
First, what is a bylined article? It is an article, written by you, and is published in a magazine, newspaper or online outlet. Full credit is given to you as the author, along with a nice blurb about you, your book and your business (if applicable).
Placement of your article gives you credibility, continues to establish you as a leader and expert in your field, differentiates you from your competitors and opens new opportunities for you. These may include opportunities for regular article submissions, expert commentary, consulting projects, speaking engagements and invitations from publishers for your next book. All of these have happened for our clients, including an author who shared he received more than $500,000 in new business as a direct result of just a few months of media exposure.
Once you have written the article, you (or your publicist) pitch it to targeted media for placement. Often your photo or even book cover may accompany the article.
Here are some tips for writing a bylined article to increase the chance for placement and attracting readers:
1. Pick a topic with valuable information for your audience. The article cannot be about how great you are or how wonderful your book is. Although that might be the case, you need to select a topic related to your book and expertise that will inform, educate, or inspire readers. The goal is to give readers insight to your thoughts, ideas, and advice and to entice them to learn more about you, your company (if applicable), and to buy your book.
Here are examples:
- Business relationship author wrote an article on tips to remember people’s names, target was general business audiences,
- Author with a specialized target audience wrote an article on the Tax Benefits of Oil Investments
- A successful woman CEO and author wrote an article: Women You’re Unique. You Lead Differently from Men, and that’s a Good Thing—Especially in the World of Business!
2. Include lessons learned/case studies. Showcase your expertise by including case studies where there was a real life challenge and how your advice resulted in a positive solution. Readers will learn from the lesson and you will shine as an authority. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Look at the chapters in your book and isolate one point to write about. Again, the goal is to entice people to learn more about you.
3. Know your media outlet. If you have a particular magazine, blog or online site in mind, read the type and style of bylined articles they publish. If your relationship self-help book can be useful to teens, women and newly divorced women, write an article specific to one audience. Don’t make it generic. If your entrepreneurial book can be of use to specific industries, write an article just for them—the family business, a graphic designer, a financial planner, etc.
4. Choosing the right article headline. Again, look through your favorite magazine or online sites for article headlines that grab your attention. Use active, not passive words. Highlight benefits, not features. Examples of weak and strong headlines:
Fabulous Diet Tip that Makes a Difference!
or better ....
5 Ways to Visibly Reduce Body Fat in 30 Days
Use Back Up Storage Drive With 1TB of Memory
or better ...
Never Lose Another Computer File Again
Investing Your Money For the Future
or better ...
10 Tips to Save NOW for Your Toddler’s College Education
5. Know the length of an article. A good rule of thumb for the length of an article is between 700 and 1200 words. Again, if you have a specific outlet in mind, check specific submission guidelines for the outlet.
Using your published article. Once published, showcase your articles as part of your resume, in your brochures, as handouts in your presentations, on your website, etc. It gives you credibility—as featured on HuffingtonPost.com, as featured in TIME magazine. Plus, online articles never go away and will turn up when people search for you online. Although bylined articles take care and thought in creating, the benefits of showcasing your book and expertise are priceless.
Sandra Poirier-Diaz is president of Smith Publicity, one of the premier book publicity and book marketing firms in the industry. Since 1997, Smith Publicity has implemented more than 1,000 promotional campaigns. Clients of Smith Publicity have appeared on virtually every major radio and television show, and been featured in top publications across the world. For more information please visit www.smithpublicity.com orSandy@smithpublicity.com
By: Sherrie Wilkolaski
With only a few days left to Christmas, you may be wondering what last minute gift you might get for your favorite author. Here is a list of gifts that you can give any time of year. Most authors won’t come out and ask for what they really want this holiday season, so use this list as your cheat sheet.
1. Buy a copy of the book. Authors love to sell more books. If you know an author (or are just a fan) buy a copy of their book. It will make their day, even if they don’t know it was you. If you already have a copy, buy another and give it as a gift. That’s two gifts for the price of one!
2. Book review. A book review is worth a thousand words. Give the gift of a favorable review this holiday season. Jump on to Amazon.com, GoodReads.com, LibraryThing.com or whatever your favorite reader-centric watering hole is. It will be a gift that keeps on giving, for years to come. If you happen to have the same last name as the author, use your initials or encourage a friend to post a review.
3. Tell your friends. If you’re an avid reader you’ve probably already promoting your favorite books on GoodReads or LibraryThing, so that is great. Be sure your author’s book is on your virtual bookshelf and don’t forget to rate and review it. What about sending out an email to your list of friends and contacts about your favorite book? Everyone is always looking for a new book to read and would probably appreciate the referral.
4.Get social. In this modern day of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and a variety of other social media outlets, why not give a shout out and promote your favorite book and author with a tweet, post on Facebook or put them in your LinkedIn network. Get creative. Just one tweet or re-tweet will go a long way…well that is, if you have followers. Don’t forget to post on the author’s Fan Page how much you like their work!
5. Book events. Offer to throw your favorite author a book signing event. Get your friends together, tie it in with your business (if possible) or tie it in with a fundraising promotion. People love to meet authors and authors love book signing events, so do them a favor and organize an event for them. Even if it’s only a few people, it will get people reading and talking about the book. Books are sold one at a time, so every little bit helps!
These are only a few ideas on how you can give back to your favorite author. This holiday season support your favorite author and get creative. It will be the best gift they get all year long!
Photo courtesy of: nicephoto via sxc.hu
Sherrie Wilkolaski is a public relations and marketing expert for independent authors and traditional publishers. Her boutique publishing house style draws authors to her—it’s the measurable results in book sales that keep them loyal. A former Director of Publishing Services at Lulu and Director of Marketing at Author Marketing Experts, Inc., in the past, she has also co-hosted the blog talk radio show, “The Publishing Insiders.” She serves as a publishing columnist for the Raleigh Examiner. Currently, she is a marketing consultant with Infinity Publishing. She is the author of “How to Start a Wedding Planning Business” and the “Cookies and Cocktails” cookbook series. Her third, yet to be titled, book is coming out in the spring of 2012.
A group of Infinity authors will be meeting for a book signing event at the King of Prussia Mall on Saturday, December 17th.
"The Art of the Written Word" event will be hosted at "Nestology", located in The Court of King of Prussia Mall. The store is owned by new Infinity author Caroline Ludovici, whose book "The Obsidian Mask" is due for release the week of the event.
Many of our local authors will also be in attendance to sign and present their books. They include:
Zeni Earnest, a resident of Phialdelphia, PA, will present her book The Clear Secret and A Cup of Coffee & A Blueberry Muffin .
Jane Hamilton, The Caregiver's Guide to Self Care: Help For Your Caregiving Journey .
Timothy Hedrick will present both his books: A Fulfilled Life and A Collection of Thoughts .
Jennifer Monahan, whose travels have taken her to forty-four of the fifty United States, will be signing her book An American in Oz: Discovering the Island Continent of Australia.
Kevin Rebbe, Mr. Stinkas and the Little Cheese Shop.
Laura Rudacille, of York, PA, will be signing her 3 books: Here's The Thing... , Saltwater Cowboy , and Invisible Woman .
James Strait, Déjà vu All Over Again .
S.A. Williams, who was named to Who’s Who in the World, 2001 and 2003, will sign and present her book Anna's Secret Legacy.
The event will be held from 1pm to 6pm. Wine and cheese will also be offered and the event is open to the public.
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By: Penny C. Sansevieri
Most of us meander into a bookstore, maybe grabbing a latte from the nearby coffee vendor and saunter up and down the aisles looking for our desired title. Bookstores are great and I’ve always said if I were ever to get locked in a store overnight, let it be a bookstore (preferably one with a handy Starbucks inside). But bookstores are so much more than that.
For the savvy author, a bookstore is a great way to not only get to know your market, but to research your competition and get a better understanding of the sales space. This is one of the best and least expensive ways to do your market research. Making your bookstore your research laboratory is a fantastic way to position yourself for success, regardless of how you are published.
Know Your Market
First off, if you’ve written a book for which there is no market (read: there are no books that cater to this audience), you may have a problem. Unless you are already a brand, meaning that you’re a published author with a significant following, it’s unlikely that you will be able to create such momentum for a yet unserved market that a publisher will consider you. If it hasn’t been written there is likely a reason why. Now there are always exceptions of course, my other book: Red Hot Internet Publicity is not a title that I would have published in 1976, mostly because there was no Internet back then. So yes, new markets are developing all the time but it’s key to wait till those markets emerge, otherwise you’re selling to an audience that doesn’t exist. This also goes to creating a new genre for your book. You should fit into an existing genre and find the best one for your market. This is also key since sometimes books can straddle different markets. A change in title can take your book for women wanting to succeed in business and move it from the business category into self-help and/or spirituality. Be clear on where your book belongs. Remember a confused mind won’t make a choice, so if you confuse your reader, you’re likely to lose a sale.
Who Else is Sharing Your Shelf Space?
Understanding what your market is and who else is sharing your shelf space is key. What are their books like and have you read them? This is all part of your market research: know your competition and know who shares your space. It is not just important to know other competing titles; this is key for marketing and media positioning. Also, you should take note of all other recent titles in your category and go visit their websites. If you’re really eager to watch your competition you could also get Google Alerts on their name or book title to see how much traction they are getting. I will usually do this for any major author in my market as well as all of their book titles. Not only can you keep an eye on their hit rate, but these sites and media targets could be good for you as well.
Every Book Tells a Story
Each book in your genre will tell you a little something about the author and publisher. Now I’m not talking about the contents of the book itself, I’m talking about things like the cover, book jacket, book size (both dimensions and page count), as well as endorsements, back cover copy, etc. Getting bookstore shelf space isn’t easy. Generally bookstores won’t keep books on their shelves that aren’t selling, so getting to know books that are doing well in stores can really benefit your title as well. Learning from books that are out there is a great way to position yourself for success.
Books that make it into and onto a shelf in a bookstore need to “look” the part. Yes, your book may be the best out there but if it doesn’t meet the needs of the genre, it simply won’t get put on a shelf. In order to play in the publishing sandbox you must play by the rules. While it’s nice to be a maverick and to hear stories about authors who “bent the rules” and claimed success, if you read the backstory to any success, you’ll find that following the rules and playing to the market is key to success. There are 1,500 books published each day. Yes, you want to stand out but you also want to look the part.
Here’s a checklist to get you started in your bookstore research. You’ll want to expand on this as you find more titles or more ideas to research. I suggest for example adding in URL’s from the book jacket so you can research the author’s website, etc.
- What genre does your book fall into?
- Is there a sub-genre and if so, what is it? (for example, my books fall into reference/writing, writing being the sub-genre)
- List the top five titles and authors in that market:
- Key points each book has in common? (for example, all cookbooks you noted had nutritional analysis on each page)
Penny C. Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert and an Adjunct Instructor with NYU. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns. She is the author of five books, including Book to Bestseller which has been called the “road map to publishing success.” AME is the first marketing and publicity firm to use Internet promotion to its full impact through The Virtual Author Tour, which strategically works with social networking sites, blogs, micro-blogs, ezines, video sites, and relevant sites to push an author’s message into the virtual community and connect with sites related to the book’s topic, positioning the author in his or her market. To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, you can visit her website athttp://www.amarketingexpert.com. To subscribe to her free ezine, send a blank email to: email@example.com Copyright © 2010 Penny C. Sansevieri
by Penny C. Sansevieri
Let's face it, regardless of the odds we authors still want to get into bookstores. But if you've been having a hard time with this, take heart. It's getting harder and harder to get into stores, but not impossible. We're going to look at some of the possibilities here.
First, it's important to understand the pressure stores are under right now. With the increased focus on publishers to get their authors out there, bookstores are being given most of their marching orders by their corporate office. Bookstore shelf space is bought and paid for by theNew Yorkpublishers, making getting on the shelves or display racks a bit tricky - if not impossible. So here's a game plan for those of you trying to survive outside of the traditional market.
1. Get to know your local store: I know this might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many authors don’t really know the people in their local store. The thing is, if you know them, they know you. Then, when you’re ready to promote your book they might be more open to having you in their store if you have taken the time to get to know them.
2. Events: One way to get into a bookstore is by doing an event. Sometimes when you do an event the store may stock the book before and after you've done your program. Start to follow the types of events they do at the store. Get an events calendar or get on their email list. You’ll start to see trends emerge. For example, they might have an independent author night you could participate in. Also be cautious for big releases, like the recent Stephenie Meyer events many stores had planned. If you are trying to capture the attention of a store when they’re in the middle of a major book launch, you’re likely to be ignored.
a) Book signings are boring, offer to do an event instead. Events are a draw, book signings aren’t unless you’re a celebrity. Plan to do a talk, educate, entertain, or enlighten. This will be a more attractive pitch to the bookstore and will draw more people to your talk.
b) Get to know the local authors in your area and then offer to plan events for them. Here’s how this works: Bookstores are inundated with local authors asking for a time slot, but what if you went to the bookstore manager and said that you’d be willing to coordinate a once a month event featuring all the local authors? The bookstore could just refer all local independently published authors to you, you could coordinate this - and guess what? Not only are you helping the store, but guess who’s getting a monthly showcase in their store? You. You can do this with more than one store if you have the time, but keep in mind that with cutbacks often one store manager will oversee a few locations so you might only have to go through one person.
c) If they won’t let you coordinate a monthly event, suggest that they have an Independent author night if they haven’t already started this. If they have an Independent author night you should definitely participate, it’s a great way to gain exposure, not to mention network with some local people.
3. Distribution: Making sure that the bookstore can actually acquire the book is often the first step in getting stocked. Bookstores generally tap into two databases for stocking: Baker & Taylor and Ingram. If you're listed there, bookstores can order the book, though a listing in those databases doesn't usually prompt stocking because these are not distributors, they are wholesalers. There's a big difference. Distributors such as IPG, Perseus, and Midpoint actively push the book into the bookstores, or try to sell copies into the stores during their sales push. Wholesalers don't do this, so if you can get a distributor for your book, great! This could really help your in-store success.
4. Local marketing: don't forget any marketing you do locally, whether it's speaking in venues outside of the bookstores, television, radio, or print. All of this can drive traffic into the bookstores. Market locally and when you do, let the stores know you're going to have a feature or appearance so they can stock the book, if they want to. It's always a great idea to get to know the managers or buyers for your local stores so you can alert them to media or an event you're doing. This not only keeps you and your book on their radar screen, but it's a nice courtesy to offer them. Most managers are stretched pretty thin and appreciate the buying tip, whenever they can get it. Even if they choose not to stock your book the first or second time, keep alerting them to your promotion. Eventually they just might.
5. Know your Geography: Let’s say you live inNew York, but your book is more suited to theMidwest market... Why keep pushing in an area that's already inundated with authors and books and events? Why not push it to a market that’s more appropriate for your topic? By doing this you will not only open up channels you might not have considered, but you'll likely do better in sales. When you do this, you should plan to coordinate some marketing around it so folks in that local area are aware that your book is there.
6. Buy a book: Don’t just wander the store trying to make friends: shop there. Support your local stores regardless of whether they are a chain or independent. You’d be surprised what a difference this makes when you’re trying to get to know the folks who could book you for an event or stock the book on their shelves.
7. Funnel your buyers: Try as best you can to funnel everyone to one store to purchase your book. If you’re having a tough time getting shelf space (and aren’t we all?), funneling folks to one store might prompt that store to keep a few copies of your book on hand. Whenever you do local speaking or media, let them know by name and address where they can get your book. Stores have been known to take in books that they’re getting lots of requests for, regardless of how they are published. If you’re sending people to one store - instead of fragmenting them to a bunch of different ones - you could start building an ongoing interest in reorders, and sometimes all it takes is one store to stock it before the neighboring stores will follow suit.
Getting into bookstores isn’t impossible, but it does require a dash of creativity. Keep in mind that if bookstores still aren’t receptive after you’ve tried the tips in this article then maybe you’re sitting in a tight market. Areas likeLos Angeles,New YorkandChicagomight be tough areas to get noticed, because these are often the first stops traditional publishers seek when planning author tours and getting stocked on the shelves. If you’re near those areas, try looking outside of the city for alternatives that are often overlooked byNew York. If that doesn’t work for you, then consider non-bookstore shelf space and events. If you're not sure how to do this, check out my other article on events outside of the normal bookstore market, http://huff.to/cx05E2.
Over the years we’ve planned events for our authors in all sorts of non-bookstore venues such as: video stores, electronics stores, gyms and even grocery stores. If events are your focus, keep an open mind and remember: often the biggest piece of getting your book into a bookstore is the relationship you build with them.
Penny C. Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert and an Adjunct Instructor with NYU. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns. She is the author of five books, including Book to Bestseller which has been called the "road map to publishing success." AME is the first marketing and publicity firm to use Internet promotion to its full impact through The Virtual Author Tour™, which strategically works with social networking sites, blogs, micro-blogs, ezines, video sites, and relevant sites to push an authors message into the virtual community and connect with sites related to the book's topic, positioning the author in his or her market. To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, you can visit her web site at http://www.amarketingexpert.com. To subscribe to her free ezine, send a blank email to: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright ã 2010 Penny C. Sansevieri