by Penny C. Sansevieri
So you got a book event, great! Now you want to maximize it, right? You've heard your writing buddies (or perhaps read online) about the lack of attendance at signings so figuring out how to maximize the event, regardless of the numbers might be tricky. While I spend a lot of time addressing online marketing, the offline component is one you shouldn't overlook and if book events are where you want to focus, then bringing in some ideas to help you sell more books is something you should consider.
Some years back when I was promoting The Cliffhanger I ended up at a book signing in the driving rain, I mean it was pouring and the store was all but empty. It was amazing I sold even one book, let alone seven. While not a big number the copies were all sold to people who were seeking refuge in the store from the rain and not there for my event. This signing taught me a lot about events and connecting with consumers in stores. If you have an event coming up, consider these ideas before you head out:
- Marketing: First and foremost is the marketing of your event. But I'm not talking about the marketing you do the media (though that is great too) I'm speaking of in-store marketing, this is what most folks seem to overlook. This is where you supply things to the store to help them market your event. Because the first phase of a successful event is driving people to it. Here are a few thoughts.
- Do bag stuffers. You can easily do this in your favorite computer program, do two up on a page, meaning that you use one 8 1/2 by 11 sheet of paper to do two fliers. You'll want to ask the store first if they mind that you provide this, most stores or event venues don't.
- Bookmarks: while most in the industry see these as passé, people still love them. You can do bookmarks and bag stuffers (or staple them to the flier) or you can do custom bookmarks with the date and time of your event. Nowadays it's pretty easy to get these done cheaply. Keep in mind that if you are having the event in a mall or other type shopping area, you might be able to drop the bookmarks (or bag stuffers) off at the nearby stores to see if they'll help promote the event.
- Book signings are boring: Regardless of where you do the event, plan to do a talk instead of a signing. People are drawn into a discussion and are often turned off by an author just sitting at a table. Marketing is about message and movement so stand up and speak. If speaking in public is intimidating to you, go to Toastmasters or some other local networking/speaking group and see what you can learn.
- Unique places: if you want to get more attention for your event, consider doing events in unique places. We've done them in video stores, electronics stores, gyms, even restaurants (on slow nights), doing outside-the-bookstore events is a great way to gain more interest for your talk. Why? Because you aren't competing with everyone else at the bookstore for your crowd. When you do an event at a local that doesn't normally do events, you'll gather more people just because it's considered "unique."
- Show up early and talk it up: OK so let's say you're in the store and there are a ton of people in there shopping (a book event dream, yes?) I suggest that you take your extra bag stuffers or custom bookmarks and just hand them to the people in the store. Let me know you are doing an event at such and such time and you'd love it if they can sit in. You'll be surprised how many new people you might pull in this way.
- Customize: Regardless of what your talk is about, poll the audience first to see a) what brought them there, or b) what they hope to learn if your talk is educational. I suggest this because the more you can customize your discussion, the more likely you are to sell a book. If you can solve problems (and this is often done during the Q&A) all the better. You'll look like the answer machine you are and readers love that. If you have the answers they'll want to buy from you. I promise.
- Make friends: get to know the bookstore people, but not just on the day of the event. Go in prior and make friends, tell them who you are and maybe even hand them your flier or bookmark (or a stack if you can). Often stores have Information Centers, see if you can leave some fliers there instead of just at the register. Getting to know the people who are selling the book is a great way to help gather more people into your event. If your event isn't in a bookstore but attached to a shopping area or mall, go around to the stores (and perhaps you did this when you passed out the fliers) and let them know you have an event and what can you do to help them promote it. If you can rally the troops to help you market your talk, you could triple the numbers of people at your event. No kidding.
- Take names: I always, always recommend that you get names and (email) addresses from the folks who attended. Sign them up for your mailing list is a great way to stay in touch with them and stay on your reader's radar screen. If you have a giveaway or drawing, great! This will help you to collect names. If you don't, offer them a freebie or ebook after the event. Often if I'm doing a PowerPoint presentation I will put together a set of them (delivered in PDF) after the event. Attendees need to sign up to get them and then once they do, I include them in our newsletter list which helps me to stay on their radar screen.
- Pricing: Make sure your book is easy to buy. If you are doing this outside of a bookstore this is easy to do and will help your sales. I find that a rounded number like $10 or $20 makes for a quick and easy sale. If you can round up or down without adding or losing too much to the price, by all means do it.
- Book pairing: One way you might be able to round up is by pairing your book with a freebie. When I paired Red Hot Internet Publicity with a second, but smaller, marketing book I took the awkward pricing of $18.95, bumped it up to $20 (so 2 books for $20) and quadrupled my sales after an event. Now the pairing doesn't have to be a book, it can be a special report or even an ebook that you send to them after the event.
- Product and placement: as you're doing your talk (especially if it's in a non-bookstore venue) make sure that you have a copy of the book propped up in front of you so event visitors see it the entire time you are speaking. Hold up the book when appropriate and use it as an example when you can. This will help to direct the consumers eye to the book - and making eye contact with the product is a good way to make sure it stays on their radar screen throughout your talk. When I do a speaking gig at an event that allows me to sell books in the room, I will sell four times more than I would if the attendees have to go somewhere else to buy it so make the buy easy. If you can, make sure your books are for sale in the room.
- Ease of purchase: aside from pricing, if you're doing your own check out make sure that you have many ways consumers can buy your book. I take credit cards at the event, checks and cash. Don't limit yourself as to what you can take or you will limit your sales.
- Post event wrap up: So the event is over, what now? Well, if you got attendees to sign up for your newsletter (you did do that, right?) and now it's time to send a thank you note for attending and remind them (if they missed the chance at the event) to buy a copy of your book at the "special event price."
Speaking and book events are great ways to build your platform, but if you aren't selling books there's little point in doing them. For many of us, our book is our business card and thus, if we can sell our "business card" we can keep consumers in our funnel. If your book isn't your business card you still want readers, right? So the marketing both post and during an event is crucial to building your readership. While it's easy to say that events sell books, they often don't. I find that if you don't "work it" you often will find your time wasted. Seek the opportunities when they are made available to you and then maximize them when they are, you'll be glad you did!
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 at http://www.amarketingexpert.com. To subscribe to her free ezine, send a blank email to: firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright © 2010 Penny C. Sansevieri
By John F. Harnish
There are basically to two kinds of authors, those who are making a profit from their published book, and those who haven't realized a return on the investment in publishing their book. It's almost a certainty the authors realizing a profit have taken the time to do the math to determine their breakeven point. They have figured out how many books need to be sold in order to earn enough in royalties for the author to recoup their publishing costs. Determining the breakeven point is simply taking the total cost of publishing your book, such as $500, and dividing that amount by an approximate average of earned royalties per book, such as $2; this makes the breakeven point in the neighborhood of 250 books. Some people refer to this as the baseline breakeven number-surpass 250 books sold and a profit is being earned by the author.
But hold the phone, author person, such a deal there is especially for you, you aren't going to believe!!! For a mere $1,000 a blizzard of personalized emails will be sent to a million highly qualified individuals who will be interested in knowing about your book and they'll surely order a copy as soon as they read the compelling email presenting the merits of your book. Wow, with a million orders for your book you'll be a millionaire author in just a couple of weeks!!! Ah, but with a bit of a reality check you realize that the entire million folks receiving the email won't order your book-although in your heart you know everyone will want to read your so, so marvelous book. So with a touch of reality applied, you cut the number in half to 500,000 email recipients rushing to order your book. Good golly Miss Molly, making $2 on each book order is still a cool million for the outlay of a mere thousand dollars!!!
Now, you're smarter than the average author; you know how to do the math to figure out the breakeven point. You'd only have to sell 500 books yielding a royalty of $2 each to cover the $1,000 to send out a million emails-after 500 orders, all the rest is pure profit. Mercy sakes, you believe this is too good of a deal to pass up-besides, you've already sold over a hundred books so you're well on the way to covering the publishing cost. This email campaign could put you in the black and on easy street in just a few weeks. You know you have at least $1,000 available between a few different credit cards-worry not, the money from 500,000 orders will come in before the payments fall due.
Ugh, time for another reality check. First of all, those million highly qualified individuals are qualified only by the fact that at some time their email address was harvested and added to the vendor's massive email list. That means at least 500,000 will bounce from here to kingdom come and will never be delivered. At least 250,000 will go into the junk mail file and will be instantly trashed. Of the remaining 250,000, more than 125,000 will be deleted as spam. Rounding down, leaves 100,000 that might actually be opened, and then 90,000 will be promptly deleted because the recipient has zero interest in your offered book. Now you're email effort to highly qualified individuals-who are not even remotely qualified-has quickly gone from 1,000,000 to a mere 10,000 which might yet be optimistically high. Perhaps 9,000 take the time to read your email book pitch and then delete it, because the offer didn't hit their hot button. This drops the total number of folks who still might order your book to 1,000, and 500 invest the effort to give your email a second read-through before deleting the message. Of the remaining 500, maybe 250 will eventually place an order for your book.
The cost of the email campaign was $1,000; eventual profit from 250 books sold is $500. You, the author are out $500-plus the mounting interest if you put the $1,000 on your charge cards. The only one profiting from the ill-fated effort was the vendor selling the campaign for a mere $1,000. Beware of whirlwind email offers-all they'll do is blow your money away.
A much better approach and a more cost-effective investment of your time, is to develop your own list of potential customers for bulk purchases of your book. Non-fiction topics are great to present to corporations to give to their employees-perhaps incorporating your book into a training program. Novels can be pitched to businesses to be given as gifts to their good customers. If they are interested in purchasing 100 books or more, their one page sponsorship letter can be inserted into your book for a one-time charge of $50, paid by the sponsor. However, you need to do the work of determining what types of businesses would most likely be interested in your book. Do a Google search by topics associated with your book and build a list of potential customers to send your email offer to.
You'll need to tailor your email specifically to the potential company, and harvest the names of individuals in the company so you can send your offer directly to them. The more time you invest in researching your target market, the better your results will be. Knowledge about your target audience is omnipotent. Be specific with your offer by connecting the dots to show how your book will be a benefit to the corporation. Be sure to include the URL to your book dedicated website-the more they know about you and your book the better your odds are for making a bulk sale. When they express interest and respond to your email, then offer to mail them a complimentary copy of your book for additional consideration-be sure to include a personal note thanking them for their interest. Set a realistic personal goal to send out at least one email each week to a potential bulk purchaser. These types of individually targeted efforts have a much greater chance for success than the wasteful blasting out of a million emails that will surely be trashed.
Many of our authors might not be aware that Infinity Publishing
has partnered with Eco-Libris
to launch the “100 Tree Project.” With this project, Infinity’s authors have the option to make a $50.00 donation to plant 100 trees for each book they publish. In return, Eco-Libris will authorize Infinity to include an official Eco-Libris logo that reads “100 trees planted for this book” on the book cover. This will serve as a reminder of their commitment to improving the environment.
Eco-Libris, founded in 2007, is a green company working with publishers, authors, and bookstores across the world to “green up” the book industry by promoting green practices, endorsing green books, and planting a tree for every book published.
Eco-libris has agreed to highlight each Infinity book that has taken advantage of the “100 Trees Project” in their blog. This blog will also be linked in Infinity’s Publishing blog which means more publicity for the author!
Eco-libris is currently highlighting Raven Wings and 13 More Twisted Tales by Frank G. Poe, Jr.
Click here to read the full article on Eco-libris!
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:email@example.com Copyright ã 2010 Penny C. Sansevieri
Joel M. Kauffman, PhD, top selling Infinity author of: Malignant Medical Myths: Why Medical Treatment Causes 200,000 Deaths in the USA Each Year
"My book has been available through Infinity Publishing for over five years. The subject matter remains current because the research upon which it rests has changed very little. Write a thorough, factual, accurate book and it can sell itself. In preparing the manuscript, I involved many people knowledgeable in the various subjects and on publication of MMM they were interested as were many of my friends and acquaintances. Notifications by email and regular mail followed.
Much of my success has been by word of mouth through the above activities. A number of medical professionals have told me that they have given or made available my book to their patients when subjects arise such as to whether or not to take statin medications or a baby aspirin. As a result of efforts by big pharma to peddle more and more drugs including drugs to individuals who are healthy, patients are looking for reasons not to take the recommended drugs. I have laid out the research showing the uselessness and harm of many medications and treatments.
I do not have a web site but information about MMM is available at the following locations: www.spacedoc.com and www.ppnf.org, (the Price Pottenger Nutrition Foundation). Dr. Duane Graveline and Dr. David J. Getoff are my acquaintances at the respective web sites. My profile and a partial bibliographical list of my writings can be found at www.usciences.edu."
Bryan L. Hutchinson, top selling Infinity author of: One Boy's Struggle: A Memoir: Surviving Life with Undiagnosed ADD
"When I began writing my first book, One Boy's Struggle: A Memoir, I had no intention of publishing it, much less becoming a bestselling author. But I have to admit having become an author just a few short years ago, the idea that I would one day become a bestselling author seemed only a dream, never my true goal. My goal was to write my story as a therapeutic exercise about my life as a boy growing up with undiagnosed ADHD, how it affected me as a child and as an adult. During the course of writing it all down I came to realize I wanted to help others who may be dealing with similar issues relating to ADHD and decided that my story should be published.
One of the things which has helped me the most in my life is an excellent book I read by Norman Vincent Peale, The Power of Positive Thinking, the book inspired and motivated me to seek help and to live a more fulfilling life. I took his teachings and what I have learned with professional therapy and combined them to produce my unique personal perspective, which became the impetus of One Boy's Struggle: A Memoir and my follow-up books. I wanted, and still strive, to do for others what Peale's book did for me not too long ago.
In 2007 when I first published One Boy's Struggle: A Memoir I had no way to tell the world about it. I went online and created my personal blog ADDerWorld.com where I regularly share my opinions about life with ADHD, with nearly 500 posts to date. Very soon after the creation of my blog I created the ADHD Social Network ADDer World, the very first ADHD social network of its kind. With nearly 3000 members at this point. The websites have been hugely successful, reaching and connecting with people from around the world. What's especially unique is that the proceeds from my books have for the most part gone directly back into maintaining the ADDer World community. Word of mouth has been vital, without the power of my readers' support I would not earn the proceeds to support the websites and continue writing online.
One Boy's Struggle: A Memoir has achieved what most ADHD books have so far not been able to do, and that is to reach into the world of those who do not have ADHD as well, because One Boy's Struggle: A Memoir is first and foremost the story of a boy who struggled painfully, who was severely punished and who eventually, thankfully, found his own ways to overcome his struggles. ADHD or not, we all must find our own ways to overcome our struggles and One Boy's Struggle: A Memoir gives hope by demonstrating that we can. The greatest part of this accomplishment is that my story helps dispel the myths about ADHD, and spreads awareness to those who otherwise would not normally seek information about ADHD.
However, there is still such a long way to go and I am happy and privileged to be a part of such an important cause in spreading awareness about ADHD. It is my hope that eventually my books, especially One Boy's Struggle: A Memoir, will be available in all educational institutions, and any and all places where it can help others. Too many people around the world have major life struggles, some with ADHD and some with other challenges. One Boy's Struggle: A Memoir, is written for all of us. We are all much better than we sometimes think we are.
ADHD Social Network: www.adderworld.ning.com"
Mike Stone, top selling Infinity author of: Pixies In the Valley: Oregon's Pixie Kitchen & Pixie Land
Mike's blurb sharing his effective promotional efforts wasn't received in time to be included in this issue of the Author's Advocate.Three Top Selling Infinity Authors for June 2011.