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Monday, November 03, 2014

What I Wish I'd Known When I Started Publishing


When I was on a panel at PALA (the Publisher Association of Los Angeles (an associate of Independent Book Publishers Association or IBPA), I was asked to give them the five most important tips to an independent writing career and this is an abbreviated rundown of what I told them:

  1. One of the most deleterious ideas—the one that has the most disastrous effect on the welfare of an author’s book—is that marketing is selling. Especially selling people something whether or not they want it (or can use it).This incorrect idea of what marketing is at its roots is unethical, destructive to creativity, and absolutely false. It is what marketing is not. Here’s what marketing is:
    1. It is having a passion for one’s own book, a passion coupled with a strong belief that it will help others—either a certain group of others or everyone. That it it is an authentic belief that the book will make their lives better. Help them. Entertain them.
    2. Marketing is the process of learning who those people are and showing them why it is right for them and helping them access it in the most convenient way for their needs.
    3. It is about caring and making it evident that this caring is  apparent through the campaigns and promotions the author does. Authors will be forgiven for that awful term selling if the reader can see—and feel—the caring. Both in the book and in the marketing campaign itself.
  2. Here’s my most inspirational tip:. You can now be in charge of your own writing career. That means you get to make your own decisions. Fortunately that also means you have the never-ending uphill learning curve to climb and I believe it’s fortunate because you will never get bored.
  3. There are no blanket rules—no undeniable, unforgiving, steel-clad rules in writing or publishing. But you must know the rules anyway. If you don’t,  and you put out a less than professional product (and it is apparent there is no good reason for having broken those rules), you have done yourself and all the other independent authors a disservice.
  4. Learn, learn, learn. One of the best ways to do that is to use the benefits offered by respected writers organizations. Use them to learn more but also use the benefits they offer to help you market. Both their paid services and the ones that come free with membership. Example: One that works well is renting one of their lists for a direct marketing campaign.  
  5. Learn to fight what is left of Book Bigotry or Entrenched Publishing Rules without spending time trying to change others’ minds. People only change their minds when they’re in enough pain. Be confident in knowing that entrenched (read that traditional) marketing ideas aren’t the best way to sell books anyway. The best way to use your marketing budget and time is to find the ways you can reach the most people in the least time (and where you can make the greatest net profit)—and that isn’t by selling through bookstores. . .or in airports.
  6. Tips: Read, read, read, but read cautiously. Everyone on the Web isn’t an expert. Find experts with newsletters written by experts who will keep you up to date.
    Examples: Amazon sends information about their new promotion opportunities to those who are already published. To get that information, you have to read their e-mails.  And read newsletters. My favorites are:
Dan Poynter’s letter and marketing place.
Hope C. Clark’s Funds for Writers
Joan Stewart’s The Publicity Hound
My SharingwithWriters (Subscribe at http://howtodoitfrgally.com/newsletter_&_blog.htm)
And for speakers (one of the best ways to market), Tom Antion's letter for speakers

  1. Join organizations:
    I love Independent Book Publishers Associations (IBPA), of course, but there are lots more targeted associations like memoir writers, journalists, the Military Writers Society of America, PEN. Remember they only work as well as you work them.
  2. Join listserves, sometimes called social network groups or forums. IBPA has a great one. Author U is one founded by Judith Briles. Here’s a tip: Learn which contributors are experienced and which aren’t before you take advice to heart.

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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Twubs New Free Tool to Give Authors More Exposure



Twubs.com is an online tool I know most authors aren't using. The idea is to put your dibs on hashtags you use frequently to promote. 
I just registered three hashtags that I use for my Twitter promotions with them. The idea may sound insignificant but you get a page of your own where you can describe your book, include a cover or headshot, etc. And we all know that kind of thing helps with exposure and search engine optimization.
Using Twubs is a little like registering your own trademarks. If you want a test run, check out the three I just registered



http://twubs.com/MovieReviews/info (where I do mini reviews that often point out writing-related techniques).

While you’re at Twubs, please like and tweet. You can also find other tweeters to follow on Twitter, tweeters who cover topics similar to yours.

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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Memories, Your Videos and Making Some Moolah



 

Memories lead to memories lead to, yeah, something I'd like to remind you about. In this case, I was answering questions for an online interview to promote the SouthernUtah Book Expo and I mentioned my high school newspaper and yearbook and recalled that getting sponsorship ads for those things was as vital to their being as the photos, writing, and layout of those parts of high school life we all value.

That reminded me that authors can do the same kind of thing with their Web sites, their marketing materials and, yes, even their books. I am a sometimes actor and occasionally I notice how carefully a director will place a picture on a wall or a can of Coke on the table in the shot he's taking. That's placement advertising and we—as consumers of both the Coke and the ad itself—hardly notice. It's subliminal. It's natural to see them there. And besides, this country lauds capitalism and monetary independence. In fact, many metaphorically wave the flags of commerce in our politics (though some suddenly become shy about doing so for their own books!)

Just as I'm thinking about that, I ran across a related article in the business section of the LA Times. Of course! It's about product placement in videos and how it's growing. And how it's making some smart video companies and producers some really big dollars. Why am I not surprised? Here's why. The Love Boat, the TV series from several decades ago, was one giant product placement sitcom! This kind of marketing is not new—nor is it unacceptable.

For any author to do it and make large quantities of money requires an audience (we authors call it a platform). But it can be done on a small scale—perhaps out of the goodness of your heart or perhaps in trade with other authors who are out there making videos and otherwise promoting and building their platforms like crazy.

The video entrepreneurs featured in that article remind others that audience is "more important than any brand deal." They say that if they love a product it feels good to do something with it commercially.

Some advice for successful product inclusion:

  1. Don't interrupt the story (the arc or thread) with an "unrelated product message." I'd extend that and say at its best it should never feel like an interruption at all.
  2. A product or its logo might work best if it doesn't appear until half way through the video. If you should decide to use an actual ad, put it at the end of the video (or end of a book) because if a person has hung in long enough to see that final frame, they probably will be more open to a product than if it's flashed up front where it might discourage a person from watching at all.
  3. Try a title card. Entrepreneurs McLaughlin and Link Neal use product placement well into their cat video and then a brand name "title card" at the end. I'm thinking even the title card could add something more than just an ad. Perhaps it could look like a cross-stitched "Kitty Snoozing" sign hanging from a doorknob. It could be designed with Friskies colors, a logo, and little kitty-food-can tassels hanging from the corners. The question now is, what would the title card on your video look like—beyond just your bookcover image and a Web site address.
In past articles for this newsletter, I've also mentioned that when the ad is both pertinent to the story being told and also offers something special—something that will help with a career, project, or pocketbook—that can only make it more satisfying for everyone.

So what are the guidelines for success—whether it is a paid-for project, a bartered one, or from the goodness of your heart?

  1. Passion
  2. Appropriateness
  3. Perceived Benefit
  4. A Promotion Partner so you can share both real expenses and the time it takes to promote it.

On that latter point, one of my subscribers, Reno Lovison, once made a slide-show video for me without even asking. He sent it to me as a gift with suggestions of how I might promote it. It was an interesting turn around because his own promotional materials and video business were the product placements within the ad he made for me. Talk about partnerships! His Web site is http://authorsbroadcast.com/ and if you look at the books on his Web site, you'll also see the cover of one of my retail books for which he made a more traditional sales video several years ago (and which I still use in multiple spots on my Web site).

If you'd like to read more check the LA Times story by Madeline O'Leary, Tuesday, July 29, Business Section (B3).

Happy Writing, Editing, and Promoting,

Carolyn
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  Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .

Friday, October 03, 2014

Two New Amazon-ish Aids for Your Publishing Career

In an effort to keep you updated on what happening in Amazon territory, here are a couple of notes from the last issue of my SharinwithWriters newsletter. To subscribe send me an e-mail with SUBSCRIBE + FREE Wordtrippers Booklet in your subject line to HoJoNews@aol.com.
  
 Easier Kindle Publishing for Children’s Authors
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The people at Amazon say,
“Starting today, you can use Kindle Kids' Book Creator to create illustrated children's books for Kindle, taking advantage of features like text pop-ups. Here's how to get started:
  1. Download the tool, and you can convert individual illustrations into interactive books for both Kindle devices and free reading apps.
  2. Once your book is ready, export the file and upload it to KDP.
  3. Set the book category, age range, and grade range to help customers find the right books for their kids.
Want to learn how to prepare, publish, and promote illustrated and chapter books for children? Check out the new KDP Kids for more information.


  Amazon List Network Now Free with Bonus for Your Book
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Spread the word for AmazonList.net ,  the brainchild of Gene Cartwright. 
  •  ALN Elite Author Group now includes a (1) free 3 dimensional image for a more exciting visual presentation of one of your books. (Others may be purchased at a nominal charge.) 
If you are already an ALN member, send Gene a (1) large 2D image of one of your books, and he'll create a 3D image for you. (send to 3d@amazonlist.net)
 Join Gene and ALN on Twitter, too
He tries to follow back asap, and not more than 24 hours.

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 Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .

Monday, September 15, 2014

Meet the Authors Book Fair Guru Shares HowTos for Successful Book Fair Promotion

I love hosting blog guests who are real experts on the topic they are sharing. Who better than someone who has planned and run successful book fairs for several years running to tell you how to make it worth your while. And now is the time to make one of these fairs--especially Meet the Authors Book Fair--work for you. Inexpensively.
Successful Selling at Author Events

by

Valerie Allen
Author and Director of Meet the Authors Book Fair

People do business with people they know. This is why networking is essential for authors while at a book fairs, doing back-of-the-room sales, having a book launch, giving a book talk, or making a presentation.

Successful selling authors consistently engage in these activities during book events:
  1. Collect business cards for future contact and to create an email list.
  1. Give out business cards to every person with whom they speak.
  1. Stand, make eye contact when approached, and smile.
  1. Engage in conversation with a positive comment about the event, facility, food, etc.
  1. Listen actively for what is important to the other person.
  1. Inquire about their reading habits and interests.
  1. Talk books, ebooks, audio books, large print books.
  1. Ask about their favorite book or author; tell about yours.
  1. Talk about your books. Use your 25 word pitch.
  1. Be a volunteer at the event to meet and engage with more people.
  1. Be a matchmaker and introduce those with common interests.
  1. Follow up with an email after the event about something of interest to them.
If you stay comfortably seated at your book display table, head down, reading or eating, with no eye contact, it is like putting out a “DO NOT DISTURB” sign. Passerbys will feel they are an intrusion on your time. They will keep on walking and you will have few, if any, book sales. Think Perpetual Promotion when given a networking opportunity. You must Tell to Sell!
MORE ABOUT OUR GUEST BLOGGER. 

Valerie Allen writes fiction and nonfiction, including: Write, Publish, Sell! Quick, Easy, Inexpensive Ideas for the Marketing Challenged. She is co-founder of AuthorsForAuthors.com, which sponsors two book fairs each year in Melbourne, Florida. On November 22 & 24, 2014 is the Meet the Authors Book Fair.  Vendor space is open to authors to sign and sell their books. For those who cannot attend in person, they also have a option for Display Books Only.  Your book, business cards, and fliers will on display for two days, face out on book easels. Your book and materials will be returned if you enclose a SASE. For more information and the registration form go to:  www.AuthorsForAuthors.com



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SharingwithWriterblogger is Carolyn Howard-Johnson. She is the author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .