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.