Book signing pushes author’s book to top of best-sellers list

Gail Mencini headshot

By Gail Mencini

The Boys of Summer are on the field. The smell of hot dogs, beer and peanuts waft through stadiums. The sound of the crack of a bat and cheers of the home team crowd resound.

What does that have to do with being an author?

Everything.

Imagine the new baseball rookie in his first at bat. He stands at the plate, nervous and excited. The pitcher tries to stare him down.

The pitch fires at him, but he knows to let the first one pass without swinging—wide outside. Ball one. The second pitch comes quick and fast and straight over the plate. He swings. It’s a homerun!

What kind of publicity will follow that game in which the rookie’s first at bat is a home run?

Exactly.

Here’s a tip: Writing a book is not Field of Dreams.

You cannot write a book and expect the readers and buyers to come.

Are you a proven New York Times bestseller? No? How about a big name in politics or the entertainment industry? Not that, either. Maybe you’re a keynote speaker at national conferences, or the inventor of the next greatest thing.

No, no and no.

But you are an author of a well-written, engaging book produced with quality at least equal to that of the New York Times best selling books.

Odds are, whoever published your book—a large publisher, a mid-sized company, or small press—will not throw marketing dollars in your direction. This levels the playing field for authors who are independently published compared to those published by someone else.

 
How to Hit a Home Run

How do you turn this …

 

Gail Mencini in bookstore

           

 Into this?

 

Gail Mencini best seller in Denver Post 

Partnering with your local bookstore and having an event there is a great start.

Why?

Cover of To Tuscany with Love

Credibility. You’re the real deal—an author with a bookstore signing.

To Tuscany with Love is an adult coming-of-age novel set in central Italy. Eight college students come together with sizzling chemistry and rebellious humor during one whirlwind summer in Tuscany. While  uncovering the charms of Italy, they discover both friendship and love.

I have to confess, I was honored, excited and downright thrilled to see that big bookcase in the Tattered Cover bookstore filled with copies my novel, face out at the front of the store. Even better, that bookcase was there for all to see for the six days preceding my reading and signing event!

 

What were key components of getting To Tuscany with Love stocked by the Tattered Cover?

  • The book has wide distribution, including Ingram and Baker & Taylor
  • It is fully returnable by bookstores
  • It carries standard industry discounts to bookstores
  • It has an eye-catching cover
  • It is well-written and has broad appeal
  • I made a personal appeal to them

Did I do anything to make my signing a special event? Of course!

 

Little Extras and Big Benefits 

After clearing it with the bookstore, I brought food—Italian Amaretti Cookies (homemade by me), a bouquet of sunflowers for the cookie table, bookmarks and business cards. I made dozens of cookies, and left the remaining cookies for the staff of the Tattered Cover Bookstore to enjoy.

What other benefits are there to a bookstore event?

You’ll sell books, always a good thing.

What happens when you sell books (other than make royalties or profits)?

You’ll have sales stats, if they are large enough, that other stores or the big chains might notice.

You have an event to crow about on social media—Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, even Pinterest, and Google+—before and after the event.

 

Tips for Filling the Bookstore

How do you turn it into a success? It’s not hard to figure out.

Get book-buying people to fill the seats. The staff at the bookstore for my event had to bring out extra chairs, and then more people came and soon were standing in the back!

Yes, that means reaching out to your friends, neighbors, hairdresser or barber, cousins, book club, bunko, or tennis club friends, parents of your children’s friends, and anyone you can get them to bring along. Oh, what’s that? They already came and bought books at your launch party? Can they come again? If not, you need to find more people.

Tell everyone you know. Send out postcards and emails. Call friends to remind them.

Hope the weather’s good, but not too good, that night.

Last?

Plan your talk. Respect the fact that someone may bring their young child or mother, and attempt to have your words resonate to a wide audience. You have a responsibility to make it an entertaining night for your friends that attend the event.

Be gracious.

You created something wonderful and found a way to share it with the world. Have fun!

Afterward? Thank your bookseller host.

 Then, take a short break and relax. Maybe even go to a baseball game.

 *     *     * 

Gail Mencini is the award-winning and best-selling author of To Tuscany with Love, the first book in her Tuscany series. It’s available on Amazon.com and at the Tattered Cover. Connect with Gail through her website, GailMencini.com. She shares recipes and anything Italian on her Facebook page. You can also follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.

Author U Extravaganza: $100 off registration and other ways to save

 

Become Seriously Successful at Book Publishing by Registering Here

 

Here’s a fun video I created to whet your appetite for the Author U Extravaganza in Denver May 1-3.

This is the Number One event for authors and publishers because it’s big enough to attract a terrific lineup of speaker experts and publishing stars, but not so overwhelming that you get lost in the crowd. This is my third year as a presenter, and I’ve met other speakers and authors who have become joint venture partners on a variety of projects and products.

3 Ways to Save

1. Click here (affiliate link) to register and save $100 off the Friday-Saturday registration. But only if you use the coupon cod AUEX100.

2. Book airfare to Denver right now. It’s dirt cheap, even from cities like Boston.

3.  There’s a special room rate of $119 per night (includes wifi) at the Hyatty Regency, Denver Tech Center, but only until April 9.  Reserve a room here and enter the rate code: G-5AUT or call 1-888-421-1442 and ask for the AuthorU rate.

Have you been to the Extravaganza? What’s the Number One reason other authors should attend? What do you like best about it? Are you going this year? The Comments section awaits….

5 tips for getting fiction or nonfiction books into Costco, Walmart, Target

Costco store where author has a book signingA quick trip down the aisles of your local Costco might leave you wondering how—or if—you could ever get your book onto the store’s shelves.

Most of the books I saw at my local Costco in Grafton, Wisc., yesterday have “New York Times Best Seller” on the top of the cover.

That makes sense. Competition for shelf space is fierce, and those big chains only want titles that they’re convinced will sell.

A quick peek inside the covers showed that most of the books were published by one of the big publishing houses or their imprints.

But what about Anatomy of Muscle Building by Craig Ramsay? The beautiful artwork on the cover caught my eye. The oversized paperback was published by Firefly, a small press out of Ontario, Canada. The book had only six reviews on Amazon.

How do books like that one compete with those in the Big Leagues?

On the Publishing at Sea cruise in January, New Shelves book distributor Amy Collins, one of my co-hosts, did four presentations on book distribution. I was fascinated when I heard her say that, with persistence and hard work, indie authors can get their books into the giant chains as well as into supermarkets and airport bookstores.

She’ll be my guest on a webinar I’m hosting from noon to 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time on Thursday, March 20, on How to Convince Costco, Walmart, Target and Other Huge Chains to Sell Your Books. UPDATE: The video replay and bonuses are available here. 

Here are five of the dozens of tips she will share:

 

1. Local authors can get special attention.

At my local Costco, an endcap in the books section prominently displays books by two Wisconsin celebrities—Gov. Scott Walker and former Green Bay Packer Donald Driver.

You might find those books in Costco stores in New York or California. But I bet you won’t find Food Lovers’ Guide to Wisconsin: The Best Restaurants, Markets & Local Culinary Offerings by Martin Hintz and Pam Percy. 

The book has only one review on Amazon—just one! But this isn’t Amazon. It’s Costco. And foodies in these parts would snap up a book like that because it’s about local restaurants and food festivals.

So while your book might not make it into all the Costcos nationwide, it might make it into the stores near you, especially if the fiction or nonfiction title pertains to your area.

 

2. The cover of your book must be perfect.

If you enlisted your cousin Sue to design your cover, chances are pretty good you won’t make it into any of the big stores.

Why? Because Sue most likely knows nothing about book distribution. She doesn’t know what makes a winning cover. Even if she had to guess, she’d probably be wrong because the elements of a perfect cover this year for a particular genre might be very different than what they were last year.

In other words, your cover needs to look very much like the covers of all the other books in its genre. If the cover passes the first test, it then must pass two more tests before the buyer opens the book to see what’s inside!

 

3. You can convince a store to carry your book even if it carries similar titles.

When I was at Costco yesterday, I saw two books on gluten-free food.

Why two books and not one? Because the best-seller Grain Drain by David Perlmutter delves into the dangers of eating wheat. The other title was a gluten-free cookbook. Two very different types of books on the same topic.  

 

4. You must agree to a deep discount on your book.

If you want play in the Big Leagues, you have to be willing to pay. Major chains expect you to discount the book at least 55 percent. 

There are ways around this problem, however, such as getting the book printed very inexpensively overseas. 

If you work the numbers, you’ll quickly see that selling 200 books at your regular retail price won’t make you nearly as much money as selling 30,000 copies at a deep discount.

 

5. Don’t ask a big store to carry your book until you’ve done your homework.

Go to the store. Walk the aisles. Make note of the kinds of books they’re selling. Talk to the person responsible for deciding which books the store sells.

Pay attention to the price on the stickers. How does your price compare? Is the retail price of your book correct? On Thursday, Amy will explain the sweet spot for pricing and why the price of your book has absolutely nothing to do with how much money you want to make on it.

 

The Big Payoff

If you’ve done everything Amy will teach you, and you’ve successfully gotten your book into one of the big chains, you have more opportunities.

Costco, for example, might let you do a book signing, even on the weekend. Many authors hate book signings because they don’t sell many books. 

But have you been to a Costco on a Saturday? The place is a madhouse! And that could mean more invitations to speak when a member of a local book club sees you signing books. 

Your title in Costco, Walmart or Target—or even a big supermarket chain—gives you bragging rights when approaching other specialty retailers like airport bookstores. You now have a track record. And a darn impressive one.

Register for Thursday’s webinar Order the webinar replay and increase your chances of hearing “yes.”

Book publicity tip: Share testimonial photos on your Facebook page

When author Gail Mencini wrote her fiction novel To Tuscany with Love, she included a character who must deal with breast cancer. The novel follows the adventures of Bella Rossini, a vivacious college junior, who is suddenly thrust into living in Tuscany with seven strangers during one life-altering summer. 

Gail, a breast cancer survivor, hoped that writing about the struggles with breast cancer would remind women of the importance of mammograms.

She was thrilled when, this week, reader Toni Daylor emailed to tell her that the novel nudged her to make a long overdue appointment for a mammogram. Toni also included a selfie of her and her Xray tehnician, holding a copy of Gail’s book. Gail asked for permission to post it to her Facebook page, and from there, word is spreading.

 

 

“Little did I know that the book would actually have this type of effect, even though that was my hope,” Gail said. “And, by the way, it’s also good publicity.”

 

Takeaway:

Jump on testimonial photos like this one. It’s a feel-good story that your friends, followers and fans will love to share and, often, it can be just as powerful as getting a great book review. 

 

Other Tools That Can Help You with Book Publicity:

Where to Find Millions of Readers Online to Review, Recommend and Buy Your Books

How to Launch a Book, Promote It and Sell a Truckload, Without an Expensive Publicist 

Crowdfunding: How to Use Other People’s Money for Your Book or Project

11 gems I learned on the Publishing at Sea cruise on how to get a book published

Publishing at Sea Authors and Presenters

 

One of the major benefits of presenting at conferences is that I usually return home with a to-do list a mile long, based on what I learned from the other presenters and even from audience members.

That’s exactly what’s happened on the six-day Publishing at Sea cruise I hosted with Judith Briles, Amy Collins and Georgia McCabe Jan. 18-23. One of the three programs I presented during our trip to the Western Caribbean was on how to write blog posts very quickly when you don’t have time to write. This post is one of several examples I shared with authors. 

It’s a brain dump of sorts—a list of things I learned in no particular order. And it’s easy to write because you simply flip through your notes and list the things you’ve highlighted. You can write it and publish it from your hotel room, a great way to keep your blog current even when you’re away. I had very limited Internet access on the ship, so I waited until I returned home.  

Here are 11 things I learned on the cruise:

1. “Don’t do well what you have no business doing.”       

The quote is from Judith, a book shepherd, her way of  telling us to hire a bookkeeper if we struggle with balancing a checkbook, or paying a professional book editor, not Aunt Sally, to edit our books.

 

2. Don’t price your book on how much money you want to make.

There’s a right formula for pricing, says Amy, a book distributor. The right price is in the middle of what the market is charging for books like yours. The formula for profit: The right profit is the retail price of your book divided by 8.5. That’s the amount you’re shooting for as profit before taxes per book. 

 

3. You MUST have your cover professionally designed if you want to sell the book in bookstores.

Book buyers look at your cover first, Amy says. If they don’t think it will sell the book, they toss your book on the junk pile. They don’t give a damn how well it’s written. Each quarter, she adds covers to her Pinterest board on What YA and Tween Covers Look Like Today. The look of the most popular covers, she says, changes rapidly.  

 

4. Don’t give away bookmarks. Include valuable information and sell them.

Judith asks, “What valuable list or cheat sheet can you print on your bookmarks that readers can’t live without?”

 

5. Want more people on Facebook to comment on your status updates? Ask a question and give them three multiple choice answers: A, B and C.

Make it easy for them to interact with you, Georgia says. Don’t make them think! 

 

6. You need HUNDREDS of bloggers and reviewers, not just a dozen, to be talking about your book.

Contact them early, well before your launch, and ask them if they’d like to review the book, Amy says. Send a pre-publication edition.

 

7. If you publish a book yourself, never refer to it as “self-published.”

Create your own publishing company and refer to it when someone asks, “Who published your book?” Judith says the phrase “self-published” refers to books published by Xlibris and other print-on-demand companies, many of them publishing predators. 

 

8. On Pinterest, create a killer cover slide for your most important boards.

If you don’t, Georgia says, Pinterest will grab an image and only part of it will be visible. I’ll be creating a new image for 50 Tips for Free Publicity, my most important board because it has the Number One position on Google for the keyword phrase “free publicity.” I explained in step-by-step detail how I do it,  including the strategy for cross-promoting from my blog, during the webinar How to Create How-to Tips for Non-visual Topics on Pinterest and Get Great Google Ranking

 

9. Speakers, include images of your book covers on the opening slide when you speak at conferences.

Judith says this plants a seed in the minds of audience members that you have books to sell—even better if you’re selling them at the back of the room. Include your photo and all contact information on the closing slide.

 

10. The sale of Kindle books has surpassed the sale of all print books on Amazon.com.

Yet a significant number of people were actually enticed into buying print books from ebooks, Amy says. 

 

11. Use Outbrain to promote your articles and blog posts.

It’s a super paid tool that connects with 70,000 online publishers, Georgia says. It provides your blog and article titles in the “other related stories” section beneath the featured article someone else wrote.

This is a pay-per-click service. The link lasts for one day. But it’s a fabulous way to pull more people to your content, from similar content they’ve already read.   

Those are my takeaways. Tomorrow, I’ll write about 11 things I taught on the cruise. If you have a gem of your own to share, comment below, even if you weren’t lucky enough to join us on the cruise. And don’t forget to share this post with other authors, publishers and anyone who’s thinking of writing a book. These are things authors need to know BEFORE they write, not after.

How to get people to review your books--banner ad

The Best of The Publicity Hound’s Tips of the Week of 2013: Yours to regift

Ebook--Best of 2013 coverIf you want to ramp up your PR campaign, generate more publicity and really build the buzz on social media, here’s the gift that keeps on giving. 

It’s “The Best of the Publicity Hound’s Tips of the Week of 2013,” a compilation of 34 of the very best tips from my popular ezine. The ebook has become an annual tradition, and I encourage you to regift it to your friends, followers and fans.

You can download the ebook, or use the handy app we created, by clicking on the links in red, below. 

When sharing it, use this link which will lead people right over to this blog post: http://PublicityHound.com/bestof2013 (you can’t download the book from this link, which leads right back to this blog post. Look for the download instructions in large type,  below.)

This year’s ebook has a special emphasis on free tools you can use to save time and money in a publicity or social media campaign. Here’s what you’ll find in the 49-page ebook:

—How to create and use the social media 2.0 press release from Shift Communications

—How to Promote Your Business with Your LinkedIn Company Page

—The differences between print, broadcast and online publicity, and the advantages and disadvantages of each

—How to ask for reviews of your products or services on LinkedIn

—Where to find a huge directory of freelance writers, complete with contact information

 

Ebook--Best of 2013 coverClick on the book to download the free ebook

 

 

 

 

 

MobileAppPhone

Click on the phone to add the app!

The “Best of” Mobile App

This is “The Best of the Publicity Hound’s Tips of the Week of 2013″, delivered to your mobile device. This is an app you can download to your smartphone or tablet so you can keep the ebook at your fingertips!

 

Problems accessing the book? Email my assistant, Christine Buffaloe, at Chris@SerenityVA.com  

 

 Free Publicity Tip 35--Best of 2013 ebook—A handy tool that will help you check for plagiarism and duplicate content

—Alternatives to the very popular and now defunct Google Reader

—Five big advantages for marketers who use Facebook calls to action

—Where to find a giant list of local and regional magazines so you know all your pitching opportunities

—36 places to publicize your startup

—Where to find a free 39-page report on how to research and pitch bloggers, step by step

—Where to find inexpensive and very creative marketing help if you need a new slogan or tagline

—Where to find a fabulous list of 50 tips for pitching the media

 

 

Ebook--Best of 2013 coverClick on the book to download the free ebook

 

 

 

 

 

MobileAppPhone

Click on the phone to add the app!

The “Best of” Mobile App

This is “The Best of the Publicity Hound’s Tips of the Week of 2013″, delivered to your mobile device. This is an app you can download to your smartphone or tablet so you can keep the ebook at your fingertips!

 

Problems accessing the book? Email my assistant, Christine Buffaloe, at Chris@SerenityVA.com 

 

—40 forms and links on how to contact Google

100 power words you should be using in your headlines and email subject lines

—A webinar replay of tips on how to shoot video using an iPad and a $5 app

How to make a killing on Pinterest if you have a topic that’s dull, academic or yucky

—How to enlist the help of hundreds of bloggers who can promote your posts

—Why tips lists are more powerful than ever when used in a publicity campaign

—Where to find a free tool that will help you create a cover image for Google+

—3 places journalists are dropping clues about topics they think are important

 

Ebook--Best of 2013 coverClick on the book to download the free ebook

 

 

 

 

 

 

MobileAppPhone

Click on the phone to add the app!

The “Best of” Mobile App

This is “The Best of the Publicity Hound’s Tips of the Week of 2013″, delivered to your mobile device. This is an app you can download to your smartphone or tablet so you can keep the ebook at your fingertips!

 

 Problems accessing the book? Email my assistant, Christine Buffaloe, at Chris@SerenityVA.com 

 

–How to help readers find your books on amazon

–How to pitch a radio talk show host who reviews books

–Where to find a handy free template for an email pitch that generated tons of free publicity

82 story ideas for publicity, several for all 12 months of the year

–Ideas for action photos to include in your online press room

–Why you should write your blog or article headline before you write the copy

–Where to find a free tool that will let you create a video of your Twitter profile and tweets

 

 

Ebook--Best of 2013 coverClick on the book to download the free ebook

 

 

 

 

 

MobileAppPhone

Click on the phone to add the app!

The “Best of” Mobile App

This is “The Best of the Publicity Hound’s Tips of the Week of 2013″, delivered to your mobile device. This is an app you can download to your smartphone or tablet so you can keep the ebook at your fingertips!

 

 Problems accessing the book? Email my assistant, Christine Buffaloe, at Chris@SerenityVA.com 

 

–The 6 big benefits of using hashtags

–Where to find the top 50 new product review blogs

–5 ways to use a free tool to create fun photos  

–Where to find a free replay of a webinar I ihosted on  the 7 things your 2014 publicity plan MUST include

–Where to find step-by-step directions on how to improve your Google+ Hovercard

–How to add an email opt-in box to your Facebook page

 

Ebook--Best of 2013 coverClick on the book to download the free ebook

 

 

 

 

 

MobileAppPhone

Click on the phone to add the app!

The “Best of” Mobile App

This is “The Best of the Publicity Hound’s Tips of the Week of 2013″, delivered to your mobile device. This is an app you can download to your smartphone or tablet so you can keep the ebook at your fingertips!

 

Problems accessing the book? Email my assistant, Christine Buffaloe, at Chris@SerenityVA.com  

Let me know if you like the ebook and have used any of the tips. The Comments section awaits….

And if you don’t subscribe to these twice-a-week tips, you can do so in the box on my homepage.  

5 top things to consider before you write and self-publish a book and why publicists should care

1. Why are you writing a book/ebook?

 If you are an expert in a field, are you writing a book to promote that expertise? If so, your reasons for writing may be different than for a person who wants to “make money” from book publishing.

To promote your expertise you will probably want the widest exposure possible, and this may mean giving away as many books as you can. This in turn implies using numerous strategies for getting your free books into the hands of your target audiences (see #2).

If you want to write a fiction book, is it a story that you just have to share? Something that keeps you awake at night thinking what happens next? Or do you dream of becoming famous?

That latter goal, as well as making a great deal of money by writing and self-publishing, may be very hard to obtain. You need to consider how you will feel if you do not reach this goal.

Publicists:  Understanding the reason(s) why people who have written and self-published books that they want you to publicize is very important. Specific goals require specific publicity strategies, and you want to use those strategies that closely align with your clients’ goals for their books.   If your clients are not clear about their goals, this muddies the water for your own efforts.

2. Who are the target audiences for your book?

Trust me, it is not the entire world.  In fact, frequently the narrower the definition the larger the market.  Why?  Because you are speaking to specific people — to their information needs or their entertainment interests.

Say you are a real estate lawyer with a very specific niche. If you write a book with information for that specific niche, that is who your target book audience is. It is not all people who want to buy or sell real estate.

And when we talk about book specifics (see #3), you want those to connect directly with your target audience and not with everyone interested in the general topic of real estate.

What about fiction books?

The more specifically you can define your target audience, the more specifically you can categorize your book. This is important because of the way search engines work — and Amazon is one big search engine.

From my own experiences (this is anecdotal), I have seen that the more specific category a book is in, the easier it is to be found. Thus my novel, MRS. LIEUTENANT, gets good reviews but it is hard to find on Amazon because the novel does not fit into any very relevant sub-categories for the kind of story it is.

On the other hand, my cozy mystery CAST THE FIRST STONE and my romantic suspense spy thriller CIA FALL GUY are more easily found because both these books fit into relevant sub-categories on Amazon.

Before you start writing a novel, consider how the specific story you want to tell might fit into a popular sub-category of fiction — a sub-category for which people search. And if you cannot satisfactorily answer this question, you may want to tweak the story to better fit into a relevant sub-category.

Publicists:  Clearly these questions of target audiences are very important to the publicity efforts you might undertake for book author clients. If authors do not understand that the entire world is not their target audiences, they may not understand the strategies you are using. If your author clients have not already done so, helping them identify the target audiences for their books should be part of your pre-planning with them

3. Are you willing to spend the necessary money to have your book/ebook professionally edited and formatted as well as having a professionally designed cover?

Now there is a whole range of possible fees for each of these categories. But they are non-negotiable in terms of being done.  Obviously, if you are a professional editor, you can probably do your own copyediting. But if you are not, you need your book proofed, especially for spellcheck errors (such as sight for site).

And while Kindle Direct Publishing, for example, allows you to upload a Word doc for conversion to Kindle’s mobi ebook format, these ebooks often have formatting issues.  For nonfiction it is your professional reputation that could suffer from a poorly formatted book. For fiction, your book just might be abandoned — or get Amazon reviews dinging the poor formatting.

Cover design is a whole other ball of wax, as the saying goes. And because the book cover image is usually rather small online, the elements of good book cover design are more important than ever. Plus there are certain “looks” for different categories of books.

Warning:  Be careful when considering free or inexpensive book covers that are actually the same cover used for different books with only the title and author’s name changed. Also be sure you have the right to use a specific image or photo on your cover.

In addition, you might want professional guidance on your book’s title and subtitle, especially when you are considering what keywords in the title and subtitle will best attract the search engines.

Publicists:  All of these considerations are important for you if you are being hired to promote a book. The better each element is, the better book you will have to promote.

4. Are you willing to stay the course — to not give up after three months and move on?

Perhaps this is the most important consideration. Book marketing is a long-haul strategy – and it is even longer now that books can remain online forever rather than be yanked off bookstore shelves after a few weeks.

First, the publishing landscape is constantly changing these days. This means there may be new opportunities tomorrow for your book that are not available today.

Second, you will learn about other existing opportunities as you start book marketing. And many of these opportunities require staying power.

If you are not going to be willing to put in the passion – the time and the effort and probably the money – to promote your book, perhaps it is better not to write the book.

Publicists:  When prospective clients come to you about promoting their books, it is a good idea to ascertain whether these authors have the commitment to be your partner in promoting their books. If they believe that you will wave your magic wand and immediately sell tons of books for them, perhaps a reality check is in order.

5. Do you have realistic expectations for your book?

Yes, even if you are committed to the long haul, some books will sell and some will not for any number of reasons.

Will you be comfortable with knowing you have done a good job of writing the book and getting all the other elements (editing, formatting, cover, title, etc.) in good shape?  Will you be glad you went through this experience even if you do not sell many copies?

Or perhaps your goal is to spread information about a topic. Will you be satisfied if you give away tons of such a book in order to help your target audience?

The answers to these questions go back to your answers to #1 and are very important to consider before you start down this road.

Publicists:  This may be the toughest part of your job — getting clients to understand that there is no magic wand. So many variables go into a book selling well that it is impossible in most cases to predict how well any one book will do. But if authors understand this situation from day one, they should be better prepared for whatever does happen.

And then there is always tomorrow …

17 gems, jewels about print, ebook publishing

man and woman reviewing a bookIf you want a crash course on book publishing, set aside some time this weekend to watch the replays of four free webinars that will teach you way more than what most authors know about book marketing, distribution, publicity, sales and many other topics related to publishing.

I’m one of the Chicks at Sea, five publishing experts who will be hosting “Create the Ultimate Bestseller at Sea,” a Caribbean cruise Jan. 18-23 for authors and publishers. We offered the free webinars to whet your appetite for the cruise and demonstrate how much we know about our topic.

I’m amazed at how much I’ve learned in only four weeks from the other experts!

Book shepherd Judith Briles, book distributor Amy Collins, and social media and branding expert Georgia McCabe presented along with me. Our tips apply to self-published authors as well as those who have big publishers. We discussed print books and ebooks. We offered options for those who want to do some publishing tasks themselves, or outsource to the pros.

I’ve excerpted several jewels and gems from each webinar below. Click on the title that interests you and register to listen to the entire replay at your choice of times and dates. When you’re done, think about what you can learn by spending five days with us, at sea, on a working vacation.

The 7 Deadly Sins Authors Commit in Book Publishing Today

  • Many authors make a fatal error and embrace the “Rush to Publish” syndrome. They sign up for expensive programs that promise shortcuts. The result is often sloppy books that look amateurish.
  • Your book cover must be done professionally. Too many self-published authors rely on “my cousin who really likes to draw” or “my neighbor who is a professional photographer” for this all-important task. Expect to spend at least $500 on a cover. We also tell you exactly how much you can expect to spend for other publishing services. 
  • Authors whose books aren’t selling six months after they’ve launched sometimes give up and abandon their marketing so they can start writing their second book. You must ALWAYS be marketing, even a year or two after your book has been published. In our four webinars, we suggested many ways to pump new life into an old title.
  • You should know the target market for your book so well that you’d be able to write a page in your ideal reader’s journal. Too many authors write books for the masses or fail to identify exactlywhom they are writing for. 

Authors Beware: What You Must Know to Avoid Being Fleeced by the Publishing Predators 

  • This phrase should set off your B.S. detector: “If you sign with us, a senior editor with our affiliate New York publisher will look at your book.” The scam artists say this. What they don’t tell you is that their “New York publisher” has a post office box in New York but the company is elsewhere.
  • Another B.S. phrase: “We can get you top media coverage.” No they can’t. When I worked as a newspaper editor, I couldn’t even promise my reporters that the stories I assigned them would be printed.  
  • You do not need several thousand copies of your book printed. Any “publisher” who tells you this is lying.
  • Some of the predators call them themselves “publishers” but they’re really companies that will print your book for a hefty fee. We know editors who have been fleeced and whose books were so inferior that they literally fell apart because the spine was weak or the glue was cheap. 

Your Toughest Questions About Book Publishing Answered Here

  • What information do many authors fail to include at their websites? The price of the book! And sometimes even a link to where people can buy it.
  • Is starting a podcast worth an author’s trouble? Absolutely! A podcast can help you reach new audiences that might not otherwise discover you. We give you tips galore on how to get started.
  • How does a self-published author know how to price a print book or an ebook? By doing research  and finding out the prices on your competitors’ books. We give you tips on how to search, and where. 
  • “I heard Amazon is doing a huge sweep through its store and removing self-published ebooks about erotica, and even some about romance. Is this true?” Unfortunately, yes. So are other book sellers. Judith Briles tells you exactly what to do to avoid being part of the sweep.

How to Use 12 Book Publishing Trends to Sell More Books

  • Self-published authors, finally, are on equal footing with authors who have big New York publishers and have gained a new respect within the publishing industry. That’s because they’ve taken the time to learn about publishing. These four webinars will make you very smart, very quickly. 
  • Hashtags are the new search tool. Learn how to use them when sharing information about your book.
  • Create a Google+ profile and get active on that site. Your involvement is part of what Google factors into its algorithm,the formula that determines where you show up in search results.
  • Libraries offer opportunities galore for authors to SELL more books. The number of library patrons is skyrocketing due mostly to the bad economy, and some patrons use libraries to find out about new authors before they invest in their books.
  • You no longer have to grovel at the feet of traditional media to ensure adequate publicity for your book. YOU are the media! I explain many ways you can create your own media outlets and promote your book far and wide.      

If you like those tips, you’ll love all four webinars. 

Cruise at Sea banner with 5 book publishing experts

Important Note: The deadline for signing up for the cruise is fast approaching. If you’re on the fence about whether to come, you can call me at 262-284-7451, or Judith Briles at 303-885-2207. All the details are on the PublishingatSea.com site.  

You can spend 5 days at sea with 5 book book experts, pick our brains, bounce ideas off of us, learn which vendors we recommend, know how much you can expect to spend to publish your book, and return with everything you need to lay the groundwork for a bestseller.   

12 publishing trends that can help you sell more books

red "bestsellers" sign in book store

Update: Watch the webinar replay of “How to Use 12 Book Publishing Trends to Sell More Books.” 

In the old days, if you were self-published, you weren’t a “real” author.

Authors whose books were picked up by the major New York publishing houses looked down their noses at you. So did distributors, bookstores, book reviewers, journalists and others. 

But a lot has happened in the last decade—none of it good for the big publishers.

Some of them aren’t around anymore. They’ve either gone out of business or they’ve been gobbled up by bigger competitors. Ebooks have roared onto the publishing seen, capturing time, money and attention from readers who prefer cheaper books they can read on devices like Kindles and tablets.

Self-published authors are almost on equal footing with other authors who have big publishers behind their titles. That’s because they’ve devoted a lot of time to learning how to publish slick, top-quality print books or ebooks that you’d never guess were self-published. They also have at their fingertips a wide variety of free and paid tools to help them.

Self-published Authors No Longer Shunned

My friend, book distributor Amy Collins of New Shelves Distribution, sells print books and ebooks to retailers and wholesalers. She says the “self-published authors no longer shunned” trend will help authors sell more books.

So will the demand for ebooks, the other trend.. 

50 Shades of Grey, which started as a self-published ebook in Australia, landed a seven-figure deal from Vintage and vaulted to the top of the New York Times print bestseller list without ever being in print in the U.S.—one more reason self-pubished books are getting more respect.

Book distributor Amy Collins of New ShelvesAmy says she is seeing a 90 percent success rate with her self-published clients—a feat that would have been unheard of several years ago. Before she takes on a client, she makes sure the author can answer a list of questions that will weed out the amateurs whose books don’t have a chance of being distributed.

Amy will join me along with book shepherd Judith Briles and social media expert Georgia McCabe for a free webinar at 8 p.m. Eastern Time tomorrow, Oct. 22. How to Use 12 Book Publishing Trends to Sell More Books will explain a few trends that you probably aren’t even aware of. Some of them were new to me when I joined these women last week to present the content for tomorrow night.

This webinar is the fourth in a series of free webinars we’re hosting to promote our cruise to the Caribbean Jan. 18-23 for new and established authors. “Create the Ultimate Bestseller at Sea”  is a working vacation. You can spend five days with five book publishing experts and get onto the fast track of creating a best-selling book, and have a blast during the two days we’re in port in Cozumel and Grand Cayman.     

If you can’t join us on the cruise, by all means be there for tomorrow’s webinar.

Publishing at Sea

Listen to Our Other Free Webinars for Authors

You can listen to the replays of our other three free webinars by registering at your choice of time and dates. Click on each title to register:

The 7 Deadly Sins Authors Commit in Publishing Today

Authors Beware: What You Must Know to Avoid Being Fleeced by the Publishing Predators

Your Toughest Questions About Book Publishing Answered Here

After you register, we’ll send you periodic reminders so you don’t miss the replays. Register for tomorrow night’s call here. and learn about the 10 other trends.

Publishing predators stalk authors: How to spot them

wolf in sheep's clothing with "Authors Beware" warning about the publishing predators

 

If you want to publish a book, there’s a Publishing Predator around the next corner.

They call themselves publishers, but they’re anything but.

They’re better known as the “vanity press” and the fist sign that they’re about to fleece you is when they tell you that YOU have to pay THEM to publish your book.

But that’s just the beginning.

Once they know you’re interested, they’ll keep calling and emailing and pestering you relentlessly. Some authors just give in and say yes to stop the phone calls.

After you sign a contract, they keep trying to upsell you to more expensive things like marketing and publicity—services that a legitimate publishing house should be providing.

They’re wolves in sheep’s clothing. And book experts Judith Briles, Amy Collins, Georgia McCabe, Penny Sansevieri and I usually get phone calls from authors after they’ve already signed contracts and have been taken for thousands of dollars with little to show for it except piles of books that fall apart. 

Judith Briles has written extensively about these publishing rip-offs at her blog, and many authors have added to her complaints in Judith’s Author U group on LinkedIn.  

Learn About the Publishing Predators Oct. 10

I’m hosting a free webinar with the four other women I mentioned above at 7 p.m. Eastern Time on Thursday, Oct. 10. Register for Authors Beware: What You Must Know to Avoid Being Fleeced by the Publishing Predators.  

We’ll tell you how to spot the companies that have a far greater interest in your checkbook and credit card than in developing you as an author and helping you create a book you can be proud of, market and sell.

You will learn:

  • The key phrases and marketing gimmicks that should set off your B.S. Detector
  • Key questions you should ask any book consultant.
  • Why you must avoid any publicist who promises you coverage in top-tier media.
  • What you can expect to pay for reasonably priced publishing services…and when to know if you’re about to be fleeced. 
  • What to do if you’ve been swindled…lots of unsuspecting authors come to us after it’s too late

Don’t miss this deep dive 60-minute webinar with us.

You Can Win a Free Cruise

We’ll also let you know about the cruise we’re hosting for authors Jan. 18-23 to the Caribbean. It’s a working vacation where you can learn all about book publishing during more than 12 presentations and workshops. One lucky author will get to cruise free.

Note: Come to the webinar with your questions! We’ll answer them all at the end of the program. If you’re listening in by phone only, you need to email questions to Judith@Briles.com or JStewart@PublicityHound.com during the live webinar.

Hope to see you on the call!