Archive for the ‘marketing’ Category

Looking For A Few More Affiliates

July 7, 2007

Do you have associates or affiliates? According to the Merriam–Webster dictionary, an affiliate is someone that you have a close relationship. Several months ago, I started an affiliate program which is a part of my shopping cart. Some people have signed up for this free program. My sign-up page is simple and can be completed in a few minutes. After you sign up, then you receive an email with your own affiliate number and link to my products. Also you will have access to my banners and promotional emails for different products. Several of my affiliates are actively using their links and earning the benefits of such activity. They are receiving checks for their efforts.

Yet the majority of my affiliates have signed up and aren’t making any sales. I’m unsure of the reasons. Maybe they don’t understand how to use the links or haven’t taken the time to put them into emails or on their websites. I don’t have any idea what their particular barrier is to using their links—but I’m working to get this information.

Some of the most successful affiliate programs provide training and sales ideas for their partners. In about nine days, I’m going to provide an affiliate training TeleWebcast. I’ve sent an email to all of my affiliates telling them of the specific date and time for this free training. The TeleWebcast allows them to ask their questions. I will organize the training around these questions plus give them some innovative ideas about how they can improve their affiliate marketing. I hope a number of these people will be able to attend the live training. If they can’t get to the training session, then I will take the replay and store it in the affiliate area so they can listen to it on their own schedule.

If you have not signed up to become one of my affiliates, I hope you will in the next few weeks. And if you have questions about how to use an affiliate program, then ask them during my forthcoming TeleWebcast. As an affiliate, you touch people that I will never cross their path. You can tell them about my products and lead them to the landing page. If the individual buys the book or product, then you receive an email and I receive an email notifying us of this purchase. Then following the unconditional guarantee period, I pay 50% commissions from this referral. It’s a good way to boost your passive income and help other writers in the process.

The Necessity: Ask The Right Question

June 1, 2007

I’ve watched writers over the years and know they are a creative bunch. The majority of them have some idea for a magazine article or a novel or a book, sit down and crank it out. Often they invest hours in the writing process and when it’s completed, they turn and try to sell that manuscript to a magazine editor or a book publisher.

Because there are literally millions of these ideas, queries, book proposals and manuscripts in the jammed pipeline, the writer waits forever for a response from some editor or literary agent. They burn a path to their mailbox or their email box looking for some response. And often when that response comes, it’s a rejection. That’s when the self-doubts set in for the writer.

It’s like the old chicken joke which has been around forever. What came first the chicken or the egg? Where in the creation process of the writing do you begin and write something that fills a need in the market? There are three large elements with this process: Messenger, Delivery System and Market. The majority of people believe they are the messenger, the book is the delivery system and they are trying to reach the market. It’s a long-shot way of touching that market in my view because not enough research has been put into discovering the need of the market.

Yesterday I was fascinated with this transparent post from Thomas Nelson President and CEO Mike Hyatt. While the writer invests vast amounts of time and creative energy in their idea, the publisher has the real “skin in the game” (as some people would say) or financial investment. The publisher has created a product and most of that creation is based on their experience and some “gut” reaction. Mike makes a case for the publisher to do more research before they produce the product. I want to take this idea a bit further and encourage the writer to survey the marketplace before they write another book proposal or another query letter.

How do you survey your market? I’d suggest you use a tool called the Ask Database. Behind the scenes, I’m using this Ask Database to compile the questions and data for my free teleseminar next week (and other teleseminars that are in the planning stages). I hope you’ve asked your question about book proposals or the publishing process because I’m eager to gather your input. Each writer should be building a list of people they can survey. It’s their market and they should be connecting with their readers to find out what they want–then write something that fills a need in that audience. You communicate to your audience on a regular basis through a newsletter like my FREE Right Writing News.

This process of asking the right question and meeting a market need is more important than ever for every writer. Why? We’ve been saying there were 170,000 new books published last year–and a very small percentage (something like less than 500 book titles sold over 5,000 copies–I’ve heard this statistic but can’t lay my hands on it–so I’m hedging) actually sold. Here’s the frightening detail: R. R. Bowker who compiles the statistics have reworked their method to compile the numbers. Now they estimate that over 290,000 books were published last year–a 120,000 jump from their previously published number of 170,000.

Whether the number was 170,000 or over 290,000, it’s a huge number of new books–and many of those titles are entering the market but not selling. I return to my key point in this entry: Are you asking the right question and what are you doing to get your answers?

The Forgotten Story Continued

May 23, 2007

In yesterday’s entry, I wrote about the forgotten story of Dan Brown, the author of The Da Vinci Code and some of his not-too-long ago days in the publishing business. I included a short quotation from a court document. Just ahead of the quotation is another element in the story and points to a common situation within book publishing–change.

Authors are trusting of their publisher that they will carry out all of their promises for promotion. These marketing plans are nonbinding since they are normally not included in the actual book contract yet are used to show the publisher’s intentions for your book. These plans are offered in good faith but many things change within a publisher between the signed contract and when the book is actually released into the marketplace. Editors leave. Marketing people change houses and financial priorities shift. Many years ago I signed a contract with one of my books and the editor told us about plans to market the books in airports around the country with distinct displays and other such ideas. In between signing the contract and the release of the book (often separated by as much as 18 months), my editor left and none of those plans occurred. Yes the book was published but in a much more modest fashion.

For Brown’s earlier novel, Angels & Demons, he changed publishers from St. Martin’s Press to Simon and Schuster. Here’s the promised plans from his publisher, “Simon & Schuster said they were extremely excited by Angels & Demons. They promised to give the book considerably more publicity and support than my previous publishers. Their proposed publicity included a much larger print run (60,000), advertising in major newspapers, web advertising, a 12 city tour, an e-book release, and other exciting prospects.”

For a writer like Brown who was financially struggling, such a promise was a major encouragement. Yet the court document continues and reveals what happened: “Unfortunately, when the book came out, my print run was slashed down to 12,000 copies with virtually no publicity at all. I was once again on my own and despite enthusiastic reviews, the novel sold poorly. Blythe and I were heartbroken as we had put so much work into this book. Once again, we took matters into our own hands, booking our own signings, booking our own radio shows, and selling books out of our car at local events.”

You have to understand this incident took place in 1999 or 2000. Angels & Demons has gone on to become a bestseller. After the success of The Da Vinci Code, readers purchase Brown’s other books.

OK, what do you gain from this little historical trip? First, it’s a reminder of the ever changing nature of publishing. Also it’s encouragement for every author to take a pro-active stance with their own marketing and reaching their own grassroots audience. It’s not easy for anyone but if you are consistent (and have a book which is compelling and excellent), then you can eventually find your audience and success. Hold on to the dream yet realize it may take years of consistent work and effort to reach it. Everyone is looking for the quick way and more often than not, there is no quick way. If publishers understood it, then they would use it on the next book and the next book (which so often doesn’t work on a regular basis).

Authors need to keep working on building the audience for their books through forming relationships and the dozens of tools out there. If you need any inspiration in this area, pick up a copy of John Kremer’s 1001 Ways to Market Your Books and start something that you haven’t been doing. In this area, I’ve been learning about virtual book tours and teleseminars. Last night my first teleseminar was successful. After the teleseminar, I edited the tape some at the beginning and the end using Sound Forge which is a terrific piece of software. You can get it from Mike Stewart, the Internet Audio Guy. Then I uploaded the file to the replay page using audio generator. I selected the “snazzy player” which allows you to fast forward or rewind the teleseminar. It was not complicated and I believe I created a great result–and learned a bit more about marketing books through teleseminars. Also I helped people learn about a great resource for authors, Author Law.

My encouragement to each of you is to continue forward–learning the craft of writing, forming new relationships and crafting better submissions for the editor.

Break The Ice

May 12, 2007

Have you ever entered a new group of people and wondered, “How in the world will I begin a conversation? What’s a good question to ask?” There is an old proverb that goes something like: The man with many friends must consider himself friendly. At least you’ve got the Terry Whalin spin on this saying since I don’t recall where I picked it up.

A week or so ago, John Jantsch, author of Duct Tape Marketing, wrote on his blog about Scott Ginsberg, who is known as the name tag guy. He pointed out several free ebooks on Ginsberg’s website. I downloaded the PDF files to my desktop and promptly did not read them. Today I got around to reading them. One or two of them, I didn’t find valuable but several of them I’ve actually printed and read. I don’t agree with everything but they have some good ideas and are worth your attention in my view. Let Me Ask Ya This has some good ideas for breaking the ice and starting a fascinating conversation with a new person. It’s a good resource to help you build some relationships.

Over the last few days, I’ve been listening to a recorded message from John Kremer, author of 1001 Ways to Market Your Book. John says that one of the keys to selling your book–at any stage of the process is to continue to build and foster relationships. Each of us need all of the tools we can get in this process so if reading Scott Ginsberg’s ebook of conversation starters helps you to build relationships, then you need to use it.

The Tricky Balance

March 21, 2007

With increasing frequency I hear this little statement, “Talking about writing is much more fun than actually writing.” It’s true in some respects. Carefully crafting words on paper is hard work. It’s disciplined work and something you have to focus on and make happen. I know these elements firsthand because of the writing deadlines I’m facing–doing and completing all the time. For example, in the last week, I’ve completed a new Ebook which you will be hearing about in the coming days (now in the production process).

Often the first step for many writers is to learn the craft of writing and regularly practice their craft through magazine articles, articles for websites, book proposals and books. It’s one part of the process. Also I listen as some writers ignore another key part of the process–the personal marketing, platform building and promotion. Call it what you want but there is also a necessity to devote a certain level of energy toward this process. You can’t delegate this process to your book publisher or you will likely be disappointed with the results. This result is particularly true if you are a beginning writer and new in the process or in the middle-selling part of the pack.

Today I read a fascinating article from Marisa D’Vari who is one of my colleagues in the American Society of Journalists and Authors. We’ve met at our conferences. In the January/ February issue of Pages, D’Vari wrote “Platform Shoe-Ins, How Does Savvy Marketing Build A Bestseller?” This article isn’t available online–and I just found the reason (Pages is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy). Here’s a couple of relevant paragraphs to this discussion from D’Vari, “Victoria Moran, author of the bestselling Creating a Charmed Life: Sensible, Spiritual Secrets Every Busy Woman Should Know, takes a spiritual view of what it takes to create a bestseller, despite the fact she spends several hours a day building buzz for her books and hosts a radio show on Sirius Satellite Radio’s Martha Stewart Living channel. “I do the footwork–the website, the online newsletter, working with speakers’ bureaus–yet what has really made magic for me is just showing up,” she says. “By believing in my message and that there’s a place for it in this world, great stuff has just come to me.”

“Media attention can create awareness of the author’s name, but what makes a bestseller is the right book at the right time with the right buzz. A large promotional budget can help launch a book, but it’s self-defeating for a shy author to appear on Good Morning America or embark on a book tour. Making a personal connection with readers can go a long way to building a readership, but in the end, Moran may be right–all an author can really do is believe in her message, promote the book as well as she can, and leave the rest to the universe.”

Notice the huge “footwork” Moran is doing to get out in front of the public. Also the way she believes in her message then is waiting for the right book at the right time. It’s a tricky balance.

Can You Start Something Viral?

March 9, 2007

While at Mega Book Marketing University, various speakers often used the phrase viral marketing. For example, they talked about The Secret DVD which has sold millions of copies through word of mouth viral marketing. The DVD has turned into a bestselling book which will top the New York Times nonfiction hardcover list for the next two weeks. I understand the controversial nature of The Secret yet you have to admire the viral nature of this effort.

Can you start something which will spread like wildfire? As you start it, can you give the enthused person the tools to help you spread it. Here’s one idea that came from the massive amount of information last weekend–and it’s free.

Just look at this button related to my FREE Right-Writing Newsletter:

I’ve added one of these buttons to my newsletter page. I’ve also added a different button in the right-hand column of these entries about The Writing Life:

Why in the world would I want to add these buttons? If you go to the pages, you will notice that I’ve added different buttons than the two above. This simple tool can become viral or the reader can easily pass your site on to others. It’s the type of action we want to take as we tell people about our books and other products.

This tool is free–that’s right FREE. The site is at Tell A Friend Generator. You fill out your first name, your email where you want the script and the location that you want passed on to others. In seconds, you will receive the email buttons like above yet leading people to your website. It’s just one of the numerous resources I learned about this past weekend.

A Lifetime of Learning

March 5, 2007

Late last night I returned from a marathon of marketing information in Los Angeles called the Mega Book Marketing University. I can’t recommend it enough as a life-changing experience. The people that I met were fantastic. The information was vast and diverse and the insight enormous.

Like any learning experience, the proof for the coming months will be in the follow-up and the application of the principles into every day life.

In many ways I’m on informational overload at the moment but over the next few days I’m hopeful to be able to pinpoint a few key lessons from a small portion of the overall experience. It is not going to happen today. In the meantime, if you have not done it, I would encourage you to listen to the preview calls which are stored online from this event.

Resource for Book Marketing

February 13, 2007

Early next month I’ve been invited to participate in Mega Book Marketing University in Los Angeles on March 2, 3 and 4. I’ll be meeting with participants and listening to their pitches and reading some of their book proposals as a literary agent. I’m looking forward to this opportunity and what I can learn from the experience. Also I’m eager to help the participants with their various book ideas.

If you look at the various speakers and read their backgrounds, you will see each of these people are heavily involved in selling millions of books.

Whether you attend Mega Book Marketing University or not, you can take advantage of their Free Preview Teleseminar Series. After you register for the calls, you can listen to these calls either live (the next one is Thursday, February 15th or you can listen after the call. The various calls are stored on this page and include the notes. Each one can be a valuable part of your personal education about book marketing.

As you listen to these calls, look for the transferable concepts. The speaker may be talking about a business book or something else which is completely outside of the type of book which you want to write. How can you take the principles and methods then apply these aspects to your own situation? If you approach these calls with the right mind set, then you can gain more than the normal listener.

Build New Business

February 12, 2007

The article addressed booksellers but I was instantly interested in the topic: Booksellers: Tips for Building New Business by Janet Switzer in the February 5th issue of Publishers Weekly. I knew Switzer’s name associated with marketing Chicken Soup for the Soul.

While this article is addresses to booksellers, much of the information can easily be applied to writers–at least writers who are working at their craft more like a business than a hobby. Switzer is a skilled marketer who has sold millions of books. Next month she has a new McGraw-Hill book, Instant Income. Notice the planning that went into this article. It’s targeted to a niche audience for Publishers Weekly and it appears immediately following one of the most read sections of the magazine (the various bestseller lists).

The online version of the article includes an active link at the end of the first paragraph along with this sentence: Switzer also has developed an entire book signing promotion kit for bookstores, at http://www.instantincomebooksigning.com/. I clicked the link and when I reached this landing page, I signed up for her Instant Income Book Promotion Kit. It is a fascinating study in a smart campaign with great tools for any retailer to use and promote her book which releases next month. Notice how each item in the package considers her audience (retailers) and is targeted to them with useful tools.

I’ve seen too many book authors not enter the process until too late or with too little energy. Then they are surprised with the lack luster sales results. It will take consistent work on your part–just like you’ve had to work at learning to write a book proposal or other parts of the writing business. I appreciated this post from John Jantsch, the author of Duct Tape Marketing who asks, “How Long Should It Take For My Marketing To Work?” It’s not a one time event but something you work at for the long haul.

Let’s return to Janet Switzer’s article for the writer and I’m going to ask a few probing questions for you. Are you targeting your book proposal to a specific category and niche of buyer? Are you working to create media events around the launch of your books or your travel plans to other places? In Switzer’s materials, she’s open to scheduling a teleseminar for a “informative virtual booksigning.” I’m sure she qualifies these teleseminars to make sure the audience is going to be substantial.

The other key points of her article can also be developed for writers with a little creative spin. Are you working to open new doors and build new business for your writing? It’s more of a lifestyle mentality than a one time event.

A Matter of Focus

February 9, 2007

Are you stuck some place with your writing life? Maybe you’ve started several novels but not managed to finish them. Or maybe you have a half-baked query letter and haven’t completed it and sent it out to various magazine editors. Possibly you’ve started a book proposal yet not submitted it. Years ago, one of the people in my writing critique groups had a whole desk drawer full of manuscripts. He had not submitted any of them. Or maybe the array of writing choices overwhelm you and you wonder which thing to tackle first.

In some ways it’s a matter of focus and getting out of stall then forming a plan to move ahead. This past week, John Kremer included a short article about Keith Ferrazzi, the author of Never Eat Alone. [If you don’t subscribe to John’s free newsletter, take a second to do so because it’s packed with great information]. The current issue of Reader’s Digest includes an article from Ferrazzi about how to achieve your dreams.

Then Ferrazzi created a simple online quiz so readers could follow through. Check out this tool and it may help you get out of stall and on to the next level in your writing life.