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The hard part is done.  You have completed your new best seller.  You have just purchased a new wheel-barrel to collect all the cash that will soon be rolling in.  Your family, friends and co-workers have kept you afloat for the first several months with more than acceptable sales figures.  But wait.  What is happening?  Is there more to life than Amazon?

The Online Train is Moving

The online giants have lulled you into a world where everything is packaged perfectly for your new baby.  Great picture of your book, a brief description of your work, and even an attractive picture of you, the author, with your bio.  Reviews with loving words and nothing but kind gestures.  Armed with your Best Seller Ranking, you are now ready to move on to other and possibly more lucrative distribution channels.  Be careful.

Other Channels of Distribution

Don’t get me wrong, the online giants are wonderful places to sell your book.  In fact, many authors go no where but online.  In the words of self-publishing guru Dan Poynter, the hardest place to sell a book is at the bookstore!  On the surface, you would assume that the large and independent bookstores would love to sell your book.  Why not?  After all, there is another title they can add to their repertoire, and the margins aren’t so bad as well.

A lot depends upon the Publisher

Selling your book directly to the consumer either through your website or through an online source is a relatively straight forward proposition.  It gets a little trickier when you venture off the online train and attempt to move to the major wholesalers.  One thing to look out for is whether or not the publishing entity will take returns on your book.  If so, all is good.  If not, this could be a major hurdle that you have to overcome in order to get your book distributed offline.  The retailer at the end of the line needs to be able to return it to an entity, like a publisher, if the consumer is unhappy with their purchase, or there is something wrong with the book itself. 

Don’t be Caught off Guard

While the online market is a great and necessary place to be, such can be said of the offline market of bookstores, big box stores, and the plethora of other opportunities for sales.  If your publisher will not accept returns, it is not the end of the world.  There are companies out there who specialize in distributing other publisher’s books once completed.  Usually another ISBN is established and away you go.  Make sure if you are in the early phases of your project, you check on returns and what is really in the fine print of expanded distribution.

Author Bio

John Patrick (Jay) Thomas is a four-time cancer survivor who lives with his family in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina.  Jay attended Gettysburg College and The American University before embarking on an entrepreneurial career on Wall Street.  Jay turned to the teaching profession after his life-threatening bout with bone cancer, where he has taught at Charleston Southern University, Southern Wesleyan University, and more recently at West Ashley High School.  He has traveled as a missionary and may be one of the few people that tell you cancer was the best thing to ever happen to him.  You’ll have to ask him why.

www.acalltofaithbook.com

Book Clutch

If you stopped by the blog last week, you saw a feature on Twelve South’s BookBook line for Apple products. This week’s feature is a great ‘bookish’ project that will make women and the men in their lives happy.  Starting with the men, how many times have you heard, “Can you hold my purse?” What women don’t understand is that a man in this situation gets statements from other people, such as, “Wow that really works with your outfit” or “That purse goes really good with your eyes.” I’m now going to introduce a solution for all problems, a purse disguised as a book! Now instead of feeling as if all masculinity has been taken from you, you can feel sophisticated.

Kate, who is a stay at home mother and also author of the blog See Kate Sew came up with the idea of converting an old book and an old clutch into a new book clutch. This clutch is perfect for the book lover who is also on the go and doesn’t need a large bag.  This clutch will hold keys, a cellphone and some credit cards or cash perfectly. I think the design and idea speaks for itself on why women book lovers will snatch this idea up.

Instructions

  • Search the thrift stores for metal framed purses and books that are about the same size (metal frame and book need to match in size, at least along the spine.
  • “Gut the book” Cut all pages out of the middle of the book, just leaving the front and back cover.
  • Cut the metal frame out of the purse leaving just enough fabric to glue to the inside of the book.
  • Glue the metal frame of the purse to the inside of the book using heavy duty glue, making sure the opening of the purse opens with the book.

For more information on the project or the person who invented the book clutch, please visit http://seekatesew.blogspot.com/2011/01/cwts-reveal-book-clutch-how-to.html

I have two Troys in my life. The first is Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The second Troy is Troy Landry, the hard-working man-of-the-land of Swamp People fame.

Love him or hate him, most people can recognize Troy Polamalu by his hair. Even if you aren’t a football fan, you might have seen him in the Head & Shoulders commercials.

Polamalu’s luscious locks are a tribute to his American Samoan descent. Whatever his reason, he likes it long, and he is staying true to who he is.

I see a lesson in marketing in this. Here’s a guy with something that makes him stick out. It isn’t a forced publicity stunt. He doesn’t do it for the attention. But he’s also not afraid to capitalize on it. In addition to endorsing Troy, Head & Shoulders even insured his hair for $1 million.

What is it about your or your writing that makes you stick out? How can you use it to your advantage? Maybe you don’t see anything special about yourself. I suggest you ask your friends what it is that makes you unique. It is harder to tell what is unique about yourself because it just seems natural to you. Let’s take a look at the other Troy.

I don’t actually watch Swamp People. Usually I read while my husband watches the show and I look up from time to time. But I have seen enough to know a little bit about Troy Landry.

This Troy is an all-American kind of dude. He’s an outdoorsman. He’s a family man. He’s dedicated. He loves his work. When he does something, he goes all-in with no second-guessing (which is kind of necessary in his line of work).

Again, I see the lesson of being true to who you really are. But I also see the value of strong commitment to whatever it is that you are doing. Maybe writing a book isn’t as life-threatening as hunting alligators, but the principle remains. Especially when it comes to marketing.

Once you decide what it is that you need to do, go for it. Stop second-guessing yourself. Remember your passion for your subject. Don’t back down when things get uncomfortable. That’s when you need to push through and get the prize.

It will be worth it.

Photo:Troy Landry. (2012). The History Channel website. Retrieved 1:27, July 10, 2012, from http://www.history.com/shows/swamp-people/bios/troy-landry-s3.

If I had to pick one key buzzword from the past several book industry events, it would be discoverability. As more and more people turn to the internet for book purchasing, whether electronic or print, the need to provide good title information is huge.

Just a few years ago, your biggest challenge and goal was to get your book in front of the world by getting it on a bookshelf.

Now your challenge and goal is to get your book to come up on a screen.

For most search engines, the more your book sells, the higher up it appears in search engines and the more likely to be sold again. It is a great cycle once it starts. But what if you are just starting out?

There is another key to discoverability: excellent metadata.

Metadata is data about data. In this case, it is information about your book. Very basic metadata includes binding type, number of pages, subject, title, author, and description. You would be surprised at how often people neglect to take care in providing this information.

Our company uses a new title form to collect this information. As forms tend to be, it can take a little time and be a bit tedious. But if this is now the key way the public discovers your book, don’t you think it is worth it?

Along with the need to provide good information, the industry is now pushing to have that information earlier in the process. We’ve recently had to rethink our new title submission deadlines in order to keep up with the requirements of the larger customers such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Please take great care in providing as much detail as you can about your book. If you don’t know what one of the terms means, ask. Take the time to write a concise and compelling book description. Use your author bio as a chance to connect with readers about your book, not to talk about your dog (unless, of course, a dog is central to your book).

Do a little research to figure out which subject codes best represent your book and give it the best chance of selling (the more specific you can get, the better). List comparable titles that are actually comparable (“No book is like it!” doesn’t work. Neither does listing a selection from the best-seller list when your marketing plan and budget doesn’t look anything like theirs).

By being meticulous with your metadata, you give your title its best chance in the online world.

You know what? Writing is not all it is cracked up to be. It is supposed to be this sort of glamorous profession, and yet it is not. It is more like hours of blank, mindless boredom and frustration interspersed with bouts of intense productivity. Even when you stay productive the writing itself becomes more of a chore than a joy. Your brain just gets fried.

I know the signs that I am getting burnt out. I start misspelling simple words like the and when. I add commas like sprinkles on a donut. I forget the names of people and places and start referring to them in general terms, just because I am too lazy to look them up. You know; that place, with the thing, by the water, with the clouds. You know what I mean, right?

Sometimes, you just need to take a break. Get outside, get some fresh air, and maybe take a walk. But sometimes even that will not cut it. Sometimes, you just need a vacation.

Vacation is not a four letter word, no matter how society makes you feel. For some reason, we feel like taking a break is tantamount to running away from home: foolish, unwise, and really a little childish. But it is not! It is so important to take a brain and body break; to get out of the rut that you are stuck in and find your center.

What is the point of staying at work and getting nothing accomplished? Pouring out reams and reams of boring, repetitive, and uninspired writing is not what you want to do with your time. If you just take a little break, you will come back refreshed and inspired, and that is worth more than anything.

Another thing that gets me about writers, though, is how what we do is frequently not considered work. Oh, yes, maybe if you are a journalist or something ‘real’, people might take your work seriously. But if you are a blogger or the like, then you can forget about it. I love the tone they use.

“So… you blog for a living?”

They say it like it is a dirty word or something. It is like they say: so you sleep for a living? Really?! What is hard to understand about this? Writing is writing, whether it gets printed on paper or online. If this is my profession, you better respect it or you will get a piece of my mind!

Do not listen to them. You know how hard you work. You know how tired you get, using your brain and creativity day in and day out. You need to be refilled and refreshed. There is no shame in needing a break, and no shame in taking a vacation. In fact, I insist. Stop reading, stop working, and get going. Now. I mean it. Why are you still here? Go! Oh, and have fun!

Author Bio

Heather Smith is an ex-nanny. Passionate about thought leadership and writing, Heather regularly contributes to various career, social media, public relations, branding, and parenting blogs/websites. She also provides value to hire a nanny by giving advice on site design as well as the features and functionality to provide more and more value to nannies and families across the U.S. and Canada. She can be available at H.smith7295 [at] gmail.com.

Britain Going Blog Crazy - Metro ArticleYou have probably read over and over, or heard from many well-intentioned friends and acquaintances that you should have a blog to promote your book. This sounds easy enough, and it really is pretty easy to set up a blog site, but how do you do it in a way that will actually help your book sell?  Here are a few key points to keep in mind.

1. The blog should be for your audience, not for you.

Your blog is not your personal journal. I’m not saying that you can’t document your thoughts, feelings, dreams, etc. I am saying that you need to keep your audience in mind and write with their interest in mind. In a few of the blogs that I follow, I actually enjoy an occasional rant or off-topic post, but if that is all I find, I stop following. And unless you have a book about writing or something associated, a blog centered around your progress as a writer isn’t likely to sell you any books.

2. Post consistently.

This can mean once daily, two times a week, or once a week. Figure out a schedule that will work for you and the time you have to devote to blogging, and stick with it. People will find comfort in knowing when to expect you to post. I don’t recommend going much longer than once a week, so that people don’t forget about you, but do what you can.

3. Make it social.

Most blogging platforms give you the ability to include share buttons. Use them.

4. Include “dig deeper” spaces.

Create tabs where you can house static information like an author bio with a picture, and a tab for your books (with links to buy). Don’t go tab crazy or it gets overwhelming, but include enough that your followers can see what you are about and who you are. People love the personal touch.

5. Fiction and nonfiction are different, but each can gain a following.

I’ll start with nonfiction, because it is easier. With nonfiction, you generally have a topic and your blog can be used to expand your audience of people interested in that topic, and it can also build your reputation as an expert in your field.

If you write fiction, your task is a little more difficult. Start with topics you cover in your book. If you write historical fiction, go more in-depth about that time period. Others write short stories or in-depth character information. Still others put out teasers for future books.

6. Don’t spam.

Remember that the first point was about writing for your audience, not for you? The same rule applies for spamming. You will want to reference and link to your book throughout the life of your blog, but no one wants to read straight-up advertising all the time. Your mom wouldn’t even keep following you if you did that. People will follow good content and will tolerate a sales pitch if it is relevant and a small part of what you are offering.

7. Find the hook.

Not all posts have to be content pulled directly from your book. Remember, you are writing for your audience. Determine what it is about your book that interests them, and then expand. Maybe you wrote a book about coffee mug design. I don’t imagine there are too many people out there who are strictly interested in coffee mug design alone. Your audience would likely also be interested in plate design, or flatware design, or home design in general. Expand your scope and in turn, expand your audience. Who knows, maybe you will start generating material for a new book, and you will already have your platform built

8. Start your blog before you publish.

Speaking of building your platform, you really ought to do this before you ever publish, whether it be print or an eBook. Blogging first lets you build an audience so that you have people to announce your book release to. If you are consistently putting out valuable information, your followers will be happy to support you when you finally have a product. They won’t resent the pitch because you’ve been a part of their community without constantly spamming them.

9. FOLLOW ALL THESE RULES, but really, do what you are most comfortable with.

Just like I ended that sentence with a preposition (yea, you aren’t supposed to do that), it would have sounded weird to me had I put “do that with which you are most comfortable.” It just sounds unnatural, and I don’t like it. You don’t want that feeling to follow you into your blogging.

When you are uncomfortable, it shows in your writing. That is not to say you shouldn’t try to push yourself, but you want to work in your strengths. Let’s say you’ve done a great job at posting two times a week for months, and then all of a sudden it’s the holidays and you have unexpected travel for work thrown in and on top of that your kid gets sick… You end up not blogging for three weeks. Don’t fret, just pick up when you can and go forward.

Or if you need a day to rant about your frustration about trying to write your book, even though your blog is about dog grooming, then do it. Your followers may appreciate the break. And even if they don’t, it will give them pause to remember that you are just another person, which is always good when you are doing your promotion.

These rules are guidelines, and using them to work for you will give you a blog that is engaging and interesting. Best wishes!

Photo: Annie Mole, Creative Commons

booksSo you got a good review? Great! Grand! Wonderful! Now what?

Everyone knows that a good review is great for your book. But it will not, on its own, increase sales for your book. You have to use that thing!

1. Use a portion of the review on your book

Front Cover If the review is good, and I mean really, really good, and it is from a very noteworthy source, and you are ready for a new print run, you might want to put a snippet from the review on the cover or back of the book. This only works well when the reviewer is likely to draw attention. This is not the place for a review from an Amazon customer.

Inside Flap or Back Cover These are also good places to put reviews. These work when you have too many quotes to put on the front or the review isn’t from someone high-profile enough for the front cover.

Inside the Book If your review is from a B-list actor or an author in your genre that maybe isn’t very well-known, or just, in general, does not meet front-of-the-book status, you can put the review on a page inside the front of the book. This is a great place to put multiple reviews, and to put a little more of the review text.

2. Run some advertising that uses the review

Make sure to use snippets of reviews in all of your marketing going forward. It is one thing for you to promote your book, but it gives the promotion legs whenever you pair it with favorable words from an outside source.

3. Link your social media to the review

Lots of reviews today are done online or have an online component. Run the link on your Facebook page, Twitter, or whatever other social media you are using. You can run the link more than once. First, you might thank the reviewer for their kind words. A week or so later, you could reflect on the review. A little later you could tag it with “see what others are saying about my book.” You can get a lot of mileage out of the review this way. If you have a website, that is also an excellent place to post the full review.

4. Alert the marketing team about your review so they can let sales reps, book sellers, and online retailers know. We have a marketing update form for a reason. We often hear about reviews in other ways, but we don’t want to miss an important one that we can use as a sales handle. Also, lots of well-established reviewers will automatically post your review with online retailers like Amazon, but not all do, so we can facilitate that for you.

5. Encourage friends and readers to give online reviews

Though you don’t want a review from an Amazon customer on the front of a book, these are still a great way to promote the book. As online sales continue to grow and bookstores continue to shrink shelf space, a big issue is discoverability. A good review on these outlets can push a customer to buy. Goodreads is another excellent site for customer reviews.

6. Update promotional tools displayed in all tradeshows and book signing events to include the review

Any time you are promoting your book, you want to use your reviews. Reviews lend credibility to your book at these types of events. At trade shows, attendees see a lot of material all at once, so you need to use whatever you have to make your book stand out in their memories. A good review is a great way to do this. At a signing you are face to face with your customers, and again, a good review gives you credit.

A while ago I saw a bit about reviews for The Funny Man by John Warner in Jane Friedman’s blog, Jane Friedman: Being Human at Electric Speed. For this book, he has solid reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist. The Daily Beast named the novel one of the best debuts of the fall season and it was recommended by Picky Girl. He also has several blurbs. This guy seemed to have it all.

He says in the interview that he is “eternally grateful for all of these things…but by themselves, these are not even close to ‘enough’ to sell the book to anything other than relatively paltry, ‘friends and family,’ numbers. That said, I’m hopeful that all these little sparks have the potential to catch fire.”

I think this is key; to remember that a good review is a piece of a puzzle that helps to sell a book, but it takes a lot more as well. It certainly doesn’t hurt, though! Again, congratulations, and here’s to using that review to its potential!

Photo: Robert Brook, Creative Commons

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