“Straight Expectations” by Jane Friedman discusses the ins and outs of self publishing

Writers Digest ranks Dog Ear Publishing as a Get Smart resource for self publishing

 

The March / April edition of Writer’s Digest contains a great selection of articles on self-publishing. The articles covered, literally, pretty much everything authors must know before beginning their self publishing journeys. Dog Ear is praised in “Straight Expectations”, a great article on resources for authors looking to self publish books.

The articles take a very straight forward approach to defining what authors need to know before choosing to self publish their books – no punches are pulled in any way, but conversely very little negative prejudice shows in ANY of the articles. I couldn’t actually find ANY myself, but a few other readers I surveyed felt that some of the writing was ‘too honest’ about the chances of self published works ending up in the traditional market… I tend to believe that reality is uncomfortable for many folks – especially when it’s applied to their dreams and wishes – so I was pretty comfortable that everything I read was pretty much just grounded in the realities of our market.

Jane Friedman – publisher and editorial director of Writer’s Digest – opens the discussion with an article titled “Straight Expectations.” This is a quick intro to the 5 key items authors should consider… not that any one of the items would dissuade a potential author from self publishing, but each is a critical item for review.

Contributor Andrea Hurst – president of Andrea Hurst Literary Management – is next with “The Stark Reality of Self-Publishing: An Agent’s Perspective” – tough medicine that authors looking to self publish their books need to take in large doses. She discusses the fact that even though self-publishing may seem to be a logical first step in getting your book into a traditional house, the chances of success don’t really seem to be much better than if you’d just sent a query letter and sample chapter – and with good reason. Self-published books that fail to find an audience do so not because they are self-published, but because of some other mitigating factor (such as quality of writing; lack of marketing by the author – yes, even as a traditionally published author you’ll be asked to help out to a large degree; or often times – just no market for the book on a broader basis…). Even with all the ‘medicine’ Ms. Hurst’s piece is an amazing perspective from one of the significant gatekeepers of the traditional publishing world.

Joe Wikert – you’ll know him from my comments about him on our self publishing blog – he’s one of the gurus I read on a daily basis because his take on technology in our industry is so insightful. His article The Changing Landscape of Self-Publishing highlights this in great detail – and highlights how little so many of us really understand about what is going on ‘out there’ – our industry looks nothing like what any of us expected even a single year ago – let alone 10 or 15 years ago.

Click here to see more information about various self-publishing companies, as it was discussed in Writer’s Digest.

 

 

You, the author, are almost 100% the reason your book will sell. It is your belief, excitement, enthusiasm, and energy that will get readers excited about buying your book. We, however, can be the means by which you communicate your passion to the rest of the world!

But, for ANYTHING to happen we need to know a few things about you and your book. And you’ll need give us a good target at which to aim our marketing efforts.

What is your definition of success for your book?

Some authors write for themselves and their families only – they don’t dream of their books as bestsellers in the marketplace. Some authors write for a very specific personal need to tell their story. Some have unique insight into very specific topics. Many have dreams of seeing their book in the front of Barnes & Noble or Books-A-Million. Each author is different, but you MUST decide what your real definition of success happens to be. We don’t want to pursue a goal that may not be what you actually feel is important.

Who will buy your book?

The secret to sales success is to target your marketing directly as possible to your potential reader – and have it be someone who is reachable.

“Everyone will want to read my book!” Sorry, but that doesn’t work. Even the absolute best selling books – that sell 2 or 3 million copies in a year – only penetrate to about 3% of the population. Sales success for your book will be driven by defining a very clear picture  of who is interested in your book.

They must be identifiable: Make a list! Which groups would be interested in your book? Why? Who is next? Why should they need or want your book? (remember this – someone is more likely to buy something they NEED before something they WANT)

Now – narrow it down even more. Years ago books on computers were all the rage – the market was saturated at the “beginner” level, and it seemed impossible to get anymore books into consumers hands.. Then a company came along with the bright idea that they would write a computer book for beginners – but beginners who felt intimidated by their computers – and the now ubiquitous and quite famous “For Dummies” series was born – at the time the books hit, there were nearly 3 dozen titles out for beginners. Yet this one scooped up nearly a 70% market share overnight. The rest were left to fight for the scraps. Find a unique angle about your book – and don’t try to be everything to everyone, because you can’t – insteand target 100% of a specific part!

Where will you sell your book?

Start Worldwide (world wide web that is) and then get local: Where are your customers? Probably scattered around the country. Use the power of print on demand, and just in time fulfillment to deliver books all across the nation without having to print hundreds at a time. Where do your customers hang out online? What magazines and papers do they read? What stores do they frequent – that AREN’T bookstores? What associations, clubs, or affiliations do they join? What conventions to they go to? How can you reach them? Promote your books where you find a high concentration of potential buyers.

How will you promote your book?

The least expensive and most effective ways to promote books are with book reviews, news releases, search engine registration, and some form of highly targeted direct advertising – such as email campaigns, news releases, and pay-for-performance click through advertising. Longer term promotions include author signings, TV and Radio spots, and tradeshows – these are also the most difficult, time consuming, and expensive to secure.

Do NOT neglect the power of you the author – our top tier packages include materials that can help turn you into a promotional machine. Business cards, posters, bookmarks – all are available to support your marketing efforts.

Follow these steps on creating a plan for your book, and together we will build a great campaign to get the word out about your story!

In other articles we’ve talked about how to identify what you would consider success for your book – and how to begin developing ideas for promotion and marketing (see the article here –What Is Book Marketing?). In this article, we want to bring you more fully into the world of book marketing and show you how to effectively market your self published book using Press Releases and New Book Announcements.

I come from the traditional publishing world – both working at the largest retail bookstore chain in the world and at the largest book publisher… and I spent years thinking that I (and others like me) knew the best ways to promote and sell books. All it took was tens of thousands of dollars in advertising, a hot spot on radio or TV, and an author who could be presentable in interviews. It wasn’t about the audience, topic, book quality, or even the author.

It wasn’t long before I saw how wrong I was! Boy did I learn some lessons after leaving the safe havens and hallowed halls of traditional publishing (I actually learned a bunch while I was there too). I am convinced that the author is the single most important and effective tool in promoting his or her book. You must promote your book as aggressively as possible. It is your efforts that will make the difference between your book becoming a successful and exciting seller, or collecting dust and mold on damp shelves (those units that don’t get returned.)

Well, then – what to do? How can you go beyond just seeing your words in print, and actually bring to life your dream of being a successful, selling author? It’s always risky to make broad statements about marketing and promoting books – because so often varying audiences and topics have very different needs. BUT – most of the mechanics are the same. Keep in mind the audience for which you wrote your book in the first place. NEVER, EVER forget that it’s far easier to sell your book to someone genuinely interested in your topic!

So we return once again to WHO WILL READ YOUR BOOK? Who is your target audience? Hopefully you’ve spent some time thinking about this – and have written your book with an audience in mind. Now we have to find ways to reach them…

1 – Magazines

One of the first items on the list is to identify the media sources that cater to your audience – look for the magazines that are read by the people who will be reading your book and search the Internet for newsletters. It goes like this – say your are Helen Corey – our author of Healthy Syrian and Lebanese Cooking, then her target magazines include Bon Apetit, Gourmet, and Cuisine magazines. Web sites would be Cooks.com, Epicurious.com and others. How about a book on real estate like our recent author Al Chapman – then maybe magazines like REALTOR, but also publications like Smart Money. Try to think outside the box!

But wait – now you need to do some research about each of those magazines! Spend some time identifying the editor that writes reviews about books or other materials – or the editor who is charge of covering your specific topic (ethnic food, or real estate investments for example). It’s far better to contact 50 highly targeted sources than to send 500 blind or blanketed press releases.

Now it’s time to write your press release (or review the one we’ll provide you in our Professional and Masterpiece packages). Two things have to occur for your Press Release to have ANY value – 1) it must truly reflect your book and the target markets needs, and 2) unless it actually gets to the desk of the RIGHT person to write about your book, it’s almost guaranteed that the WRONG person will dump your hard won Release in the wastebasket. What does this all mean? Research, research, research – hit the phones, scour the web sites, and go to the bookstore and read the mastheads and ferret out the name – or names – of the RIGHT person (or persons) at each magazine. Remember this, too – getting a review in a niche publication (think small targeted circulation vs. mainstream like Gourmet) is well worth your effort and time – the people reading and visiting specialty publications are already predisposed to be interested in your book.

2- Newspapers (small and large)

Now it’s time to hit the papers. Here, some additional tricks can help you – and it’s even more important to send your press release to targeted individuals. Practically every paper around the country has an editor for specific topics such as science, health, sports, lifestyle, travel, etc. Get to the right person! But, don’t neglect the Book Reviewer or editor – just remember that there are quite likely many places in the paper that could possibly review your book (or even mention it as a resource for a story!) A “guerilla” marketing approach (if we don’t write your press release) – ask your targeted editor if he or she can recommend someone to write your press release. Many editors “freelance” their services – and it might be a way to get a wonderfully written press release, and a leg up in getting it printed!

3- I want to be a star on the RADIO (and TV)

Both the AM and FM dials are full of talk radio – and this is your target. Hit AM first (since there are so many, the chances of getting on the air are higher) and then follow up with the “big guys” on FM like NPR’s All Things Considered. Email, mail, or fax your Press Release to every single one that seems appropriate. We can assist you in purchasing a database of such stations, or you can hit the internet and look this information up on your own. Several companies make directories of the radio industry – including Gale Research – and many are available in the library. Don’t forget to start local and work outwards – you are more likely to attract attention in your own town than somewhere 500 miles away. While it’s tough to say how often it is successful, make sure to get your information to your local TV stations – quite often a slow news day may come up, or, you might be hitting on a hot and current topic – and you might get a call. Get the names of the producers who set up interviews, or the reporter who covers the subject that you’ve written about. Don’t forget cable television. Then fax AND email your information to them – and my experience is DON’T call… but be persistent with email and faxes every couple of weeks.

As I’ve said, pay particular attention to your local stations and papers – you’ll have a far greater chance of getting on a local show or in a local paper. Another strong outlet is your city’s multitude of “freebie” community newspapers. Most of the time, these outlets have a need for good material – and always love it when that information is free. Remember to contact the ones you wouldn’t normally think of – a book on real estate would be a great “editorial” in the local real estate or “homes for sale” magazine!

Well, I’ve sent all these Press Releases – Don’t I want to send a book, too? NO – for one, it’s VERY expensive; and two – most editors don’t want to read your book, they want to read a nice, short Press Release to get an idea of what your book is about. Your Press Release will be nicely written, one or two pages, and will direct the reader to either contact you or us for review copies, and to set up an interview – pick one or the other. NO editor wants to call two places. Don’t make them do extra work!

4 -National Exposure – the BIG ONES

The Today Show, Regis, Oprah, Good Morning America – all the famous shows. Every single one of them should get a copy of your Press Release. Do your research again and get the names of the producers – watch a show or two and see who produces which segments (or even the ones you think you’ll like) and send them your Press Release. Mention what you liked about one of their shows and why you think you can present something of a similar level of interest to the audience. These shows are long shots for even the most successful of authors – but there are times you’ d be very surprised by who ends up on the air!

These four “Marketing Targets” cover the entire spectrum of media likely to review your book and give you “air time”. Between all these media outlets, the internet, and local interest, there is a very good chance that you’ll end up on at least one. One of the last bits of advice to increase your chances is to make sure the producers and editors understand that you are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Many times complete unknowns have vaulted into stardom because of a big name last minute cancellation!

As a last thought – use the relationships you have. Authors MUST be fairly shameless self promoters – but do it with some level of dignity. Everyone you know should know that you have written a book and that you are on the Promotion & Marketing Warpath! Ask friends if they have friends who have friends at any of the above mentioned outlets – you’ll be surprised how close some of these “media makers” are –sometimes desperate reporters, television producers and radio hosts are just looking for guests to pop up out of the woodwork. Let everyone know that you are available.

Finally – promote, promote, promote – saturate the media with Press Releases and Announcements. It is a very rare book indeed that sells purely on it’s own “psychic” draw and no public awareness.

guerilla marketing (n) – The art of promoting your book in ways that revolve around ingenuity rather than money.


If you have read our newsletter for any length of time, you know we frequently comment on how a self-published author’s work on their book does not stop when the writing is done. It is entirely likely that you will spend more time promoting your book than you actually did writing it. The key is to learn how to promote your book effectively without either wasting your time or going broke in the process. You need to find the promotional efforts that will deliver the most bang for the buck.

This is where you turn to Guerilla Marketing

The term “guerrilla marketing” was created by Jay Conrad Levinson author of a series of books on the subject. The idea is to make as large of an impact as possible without spending tremendous amounts of money. Guerilla marketing goes deeper than just selling books, it’s about how to transform you and your book into a brand – it’s how you conduct your daily life, interact with potential readers, and build relationships with interested (and interesting) parties. Marketing is really EVERYTHING you do, done on a REGULAR basis. From the title of your book, to the name of your website, to the signature line at the bottom of your emails – all are part of guerilla marketing.

Here’s a quick table of the differences between traditional book marketing and guerilla book marketing

Traditional Guerilla
brick-and-mortar bookstore-centric non-traditional outlets (internet, direct sales, etc)
Inventory based (get books on shelves) Direct-to-consumer based (sell books directly to customers)
“push” books into the market “pull” books into the market
High monetary investment / low return Low to moderate investment / high return
Gross Sales / potential returns Net Sales / grow profit
Shotgun approach targeted and focused
Sporadic consistent and regular basis

 

Think about how you have gone about promoting your book – or even the services or products you’ve considered purchasing to help in the promotion of your book – on which side of this chart do they fall? Do the ideas or materials you’ve thought about work for you, or will you have to work for them to get sales? As Peter Drucker has said, “The aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous.” Few authors relish the thought of becoming sales people. So don’t – become a guerilla marketer!

Here’s a short list of ideas that will help you build an inexpensive, yet very effective and profitable guerilla marketing campaign for your book.

  • Guerilla Tactic #1- Stop making the booksellers and wholesalers rich – get a web site and shopping cart. Continuously giving away 40, 50, or 55% on your books just destroys your profit. Your book MUST be available through all the “traditional” outlets, but it doesn’t mean they are the only outlets.
  • Guerilla Tactic #2: Create a newsletter or e-zine centered around the topic / genre of your book. This will bring “like-minded” readers to your site and build awareness of you and your book.
  • Guerilla Tactic #3: Send postcards to everyone you can think of who might be interested in your book. You’d be surprised to discover the effectiveness of direct mail..
  • Guerrilla Tactic #4: Get involved in the online communities that deal with your topic / genre. Participate in newsgroups and forums. Present unique ideas or fresh perspectives – but be cautious of “spamming” the group about your book. Update your signature line in your email with your book title and web address.
  • Guerrilla Tactic #5: Offer to give speeches to companies, schools or organizations about your field of expertise. You can hand out business cards or brochures at most events.
  • Guerrilla Tactic #6: Present readings or discussion groups at your local library, school, community events, business gatherings and even nursing homes. The goal is to expose readers to what you have to offer.
  • Guerrilla Tactic #7: Find a way to get in the news – get Press Releases about you and your book to your local paper and radio stations. Create a perception of “newsworthiness” by presenting yourself as an expert on your topic or genre (or even “self publishing” for that matter…}
  • Guerrilla Tactic #8: Become a resource – if you’ve written fiction, review books in your genre. Business expert? Serve as a resource to your local media. Reporters work under horrendous deadlines, and occasionally they may need something to go to press quickly and your story might just be at hand.
  • Guerrilla Tactic #9: Give something away – at your reading, give away a book or two. Post your favorite chapter on the web. If your book is non-fiction, offer a service. Target your giveaway to the intended audience.
  • Guerrilla Tactic #10: Above all, be creative – do the things that no one else is doing. Our author Jillian Curtis did a reading of her book – and her son offered to dress up like the main character! Have fun –and make sure others are having fun too and you will sell books.

These are just a few ideas to get you started – each author and each book is unique. You need to tailor your marketing to what you can physically do. Don’t get stuck on a single idea – guerillas use a wide variety of marketing tools, all designed to work together. Launch multiple marketing efforts simultaneously.

Well, it’s not exactly book “design” so to speak – but it is all part of your cover and the initial impression your reader will have about your book. It’s also the world’s smallest space for turning a potential reader to into a sold purchaser. You need to grab your target customer’s attention and MAKE HIM OR HER BUY… all in two paragraphs or less… and you thought writing your book was tough – creating less than 300 words of copy from a 100,000-word manuscript is difficult to say the least- there is so much you want to say!

Below are some thoughts on writing your promotional copy – both for your book cover and your other marketing vehicles. We’ve also provided space on our web site, in the Projects area (where you can register your books) where you can upload your author bio and cover copy.

On virtually every traditionally published book, the exciting and graceful words working their magic on the back covers weren’t written by the author, but by a professional copywriter. Like any creative endeavor, Copywriting is a craft all unto itself. This isn’t to say, however, that you can’t be extremely successful writing your own back cover copy – it just presents it’s own unique challenges.

The words on the cover of your book are intended to offer a brief description of the book that will hook your readers into your story and motivate them to open the pages and buy your books. It is also a good area to highlight any reviews a book may have received, as well as promote you – the author.

We offer copywriting services to those authors who have no desire (or time) to compete with the stables of copywriters churning out pages and pages of copy for the big publishing houses – however, many authors can quite competently do this on their own – and for those authors we want to offer some tips and tricks for writing exciting and effective promotional copy.

First – Read the cover copy on other books in your genre.

Go to the bookstore or a library, pick up books in your genre, and read the cover copy. Take some friends so that you can ask them why they liked certain books. Compare the writing side by side on several books, watching how they build the case for each book – what information they reveal. You’ll see some books that really grab your attention (and ENGAGE you!) – write down the titles, what you think makes their cover copy successful, and how well the writing on the cover is representative of the impression about the book you get from looking at the cover. Now – think of ways to apply it to your own book. Pay attention to how few words really get to show up on the cover.

Second – Have a friend write a description of your book.

Tell your friend about your book – then have them read it. Get them to write a quick description of your book – highlighting elements within your book that they found most enjoyable. This may give you a new set of ideas about what is or is not important in your self published book.

Third – “KISS” – or Keep It Simple Stupid – it’s about the quality, not quantity.

The best promotional and cover copy doesn’t cover every character, scene, plot twist, or feature of your book. Remember this – the goal of your promotional copy is to ENGAGE your reader, CREATE a desire to buy your book, and DELIVER a brief summary of your book. It’s about being descriptive without being all-inclusive and cumbersome, engaging but not exaggerated. Your cover text should complement your book – but never, ever over or understate what your book will do for the reader.

Fourth – Borrow from your own work.

Sometimes it can be very effective (not to mention efficient) to just use passages from within your book. If you’re having trouble cutting your epic novel down into a few brief paragraphs, then skim your manuscript looking for paragraphs to excerpt. Remember that this is most effectively used if you have strong content that can be taken out of context and still make sense. Place the passage in quotes and underneath the quote identify the passage as having come from your book.

Fifth – Got Reviews?

Someday you’ll have lot’s of great reviews – if you happen to have any of them at this point in your career, then by all means, put at least one of those reviews on your cover! Pull the most complimentary sentence or two from the review(s) and put them in quotes on the back cover (or front cover if you have room).

Sixth – Brag a little!

Readers are curious folks – and they want to hear about you as an author. For fiction or other more fanciful works, tell the reader a little about your background (especially parts that may be relevant to your story) and if you have published any other works. On the covers of nonfiction books – you need to establish yourself as an expert in your topic – list your success, affiliations, or even degrees if it’s important.

It will take some time to get your copy written – especially if this is your first time. A couple more suggestions – look at your work as impartially as possible, try to identify features that set your book apart, try to visualize how the copy will look on the jacket and back cover of your book, and last – keep it short.

Your promotional copy is meant to give readers an emotional connection to you and your book – as well as motivate them to BUY it -don’t neglect this often overlooked (and so very important) communication tool for your book.

We’ll get the tough parts out of the way early – Why not self-publish?

Everyone knows that producing and publishing your own book can be a tremendous challenge – especially when it comes to making money. For self publishing, pros and cons both exist. We’ll explore the self publishing “cons” first. The vast majority of the books in the “traditional” publishing industry barely ever break even – and an even smaller percentage of self published books ever see a profit.

A tiny minority of self published books are ever a big success or achieve fame. Self published authors have to rely on their own resources, be more creative in finding retail shelf space for their books (as a rule, self published authors have far less access to chain bookstore shelves than the big publishers who spend millions on marketing dollars), and  have to work very hard to create any sort of buzz about their books.

Does this make it all seem like there aren’t ANY reasons why you would want to discover how to self publish a book? Does that all make it sound much too grim? We said there were self publishing pros and cons. Now that we’ve got the “cons” out of the way, here are some of the self publishing “pros”.

Control is completely in your hands – you call all the shots, but still get access to a wide breadth of experience from your self publishing company. If you want pink flamingos on your book about Kenworth trucks, well we might make some recommendations, but ultimately it’s up to you.

No more rejection letters! If you’ve tried publishing the traditional way you know what we mean… Over 750,000 manuscripts are written each year, yet less than 3 percent ever see the light of day at a traditional publishing house.

The reward is completely in your hands – you took the risk, you made the effort now, 100% of the reward is yours too.

The thrill of seeing your book in print – and done exactly as you wanted – is nearly unmatched.

No matter how many or few you sell, you can keep your book alive and available long past the point at which a “traditional” house would have taken it out of print.

You can publish on tightly focused or niche topics without worrying that your editor “doesn’t think this market has any real value.”

A couple of other items to keep in mind:

“Royalties” – we don’t call them that, because we let you set your OWN profit margin – the only money we receive from sales of your book is the printing cost (and some handling & freight fees). You may price your books at any price you wish and make as much or as little profit as you like. That is NOT the case with ANY other self publisher – they all set your retail for you and then give a percentage of the NET sale.

Control – as you can see from our web site, we believe in giving you as much as possible within each package – and letting you have as much control and input as you’d like. No one else offers the absolute freedom that Dog Ear Publishing does…

Compare Dog Ear Publishing – we’ve done some of the homework for you –click here to see how Dog Ear stacks up against the other major self publishing companies. We compare our services, price, and speed on a weekly basis and report the numbers here.

The business world is convinced it’s found a “revolutionary” way to reach customers and create “buzz” for its products… and it has, in many ways. And, it’s something you can use to promote your book.

The best part is, it’s really simple and something that you as an author already know how to do – WRITE!

The revolutionary marketing method? That odd little word called “blogs”.

You’ve heard the term “blog” before, I’m sure.

Here’s the revolutionary part though…

Have you done anything about it?

Do you understand the power that a blog can have?

Have you thought about using a blog to build a community of interested readers for your book, increase your book sales, create awareness of you as an author and take your marketing efforts to the next level?

You may be asking “How do I start blogging?” Now is the perfect time to start… and we want to help you get started… NOW! (and we’ll get to the HOW below)

What does it mean to you? It probably evokes images of a glorified internet “diary” where geeks, computer nerds, and lonely teenagers rant and rave in the ether of cyber space.

But wait, blogs are quietly revolutionizing the way customers interact with companies (and even each other) about everything from existing products to new ideas and improvements in customer service.

Very few people realize this fact, and even fewer the importance to authors and their readers (and potential readers). Including the fact that you can earn money by blogging (by generating sales for your book).

What does this mean? It means blogs have come of age and anyone who wants to create a community of interested customers better sit up and take notice fast!

When they first came on the scene (and many times still today) blogs were simply a diary of an individual’s thoughts that was posted on the internet; but today’s blogs are evolving into vibrant websites that even the most computer-phobic of us can use and update instantly without knowing a single piece of arcane programming code.

A blog creates an interested and interactive community for you and your book – with you (and your book) as the central focus and the readers driving the content of the blog that provides rich feedback to the author.

Your blog also allows readers to respond your posts, provide additional information, links, expanded opinions, and more. Best of all, it builds interest in your book.

You can make immediate updates from a computer anywhere with only a Web browser and an Internet connection.

And – different from the typical “static” web pages where content is difficult to change (so rarely does…), a “dynamic” blog is in a constant state of renewal and evolution.

Smart businesses are beginning to understand the huge impact of a concept that “mom and pop” businesses have understood for years: to truly be successful, you must know your customers and be completely in tune with their wants, needs, and desires.

Large publishers throw millions of dollars down a dark scary black hole every year trying to identify (really “guess”…) what people want to read. (In the corporate world of publishing it’s called the “Marketing Department.”)

However, in the self publishing world, we don’t have those kinds of dollars to throw away – so we have to be smarter. We need to understand our readers, our markets, and the ways that we can build interest for the topics we publish (and find NEW ones).

A blog allows you to avoid guessing what’s on your readers’ minds and provides an active and up-to-the-minute means for them to tell you exactly what they do and don’t like about your book, writing, and practically any other topic you might feel is important.

Having this sort of immediate access to your readers minds makes it possible for self published authors to build huge market share.

There are two ways you can build your blog: you can use one of the “hosted” solutions (like Blogger or LiveJournal) or stand-alone applications (really only meant for the “nerdiest” of us). Hosted blogging solutions are extremely easy set up, often in just a couple of minutes.

I’ll assume you already know how to type… so you can create a blog. Point your web browser to Blogger.com and you will find you can set up a blog free of charge and be posting within just a couple minutes.

The best part? Blogger.com is owned by search giant Google and will host your blog on their servers.

Stand-alone blogging software (the other alternative) is installed on your own website – which we are beginning to offer as an option on our upper level packages.

For the stand-alone products, one of the most popular is Moveable Type (from moveabletype.org ) and is a very versatile and powerful suite of tools for creating a full-featured blog (if you want to create a blog that competes with those of the largest companies in the world).

No matter what you choose, understand that your blog can be a critically important part of marketing plan for building reader awareness for your book.

A tremendously important feature of blogs (and one that raises them heads above more traditional email newsletters) is that your readers have the ability to get your updates without having to receive an email. With the wonders of RSS (real simple syndication), subscribers are notified of your updates to the blog through their news reader.

Why is this better than email? Publishing your blog with RSS feeds (that your readers then subscribe to) means your content NEVER EVER gets caught by SPAM filters.

If you like this information (and found it helpful) and please feel free to post it on your site, put it in a blog, toss it in your newsletter, or in general spread it around. Please just give us credit here at dogearpublishing.net

May you have success in your creative efforts!

If you have any questions or comments – please write us at AuthorResources@dogearpublishing.net

We’ve all  had, at one time or another, the fantasy of our books being absolutely indispensable to readers – and that our genius is immediately recognizable even without the benefit of creating awareness or self-promotion. Well, for some very famous authors this may be true – but then again, publishers still spend millions of dollars promoting even the greatest writers’ books. Having your book recognized for the high quality endeavor that it is, and selling some in the process, really is ALL about building an awareness of both you as an author and your book. One of the hard truths of the self-publishing industry is that authors must work diligently to create a market for their books – and all without the multi-million dollar book marketing budgets of the big publishers.

Author Events are the primary vehicle for the self-published author to get out and meet the public. These book marketing events can be your ticket to both sales and increased publicity – all thanks to your local retail outlet. This article will be your quickstart guide to developing and setting up winning Author Events and Book Signings.

Follow the steps outlined below, and you’ll find yourself scheduling more effective (and enjoyable) events, selling more books, and reaching more readers than ever before.

1 – Research the target locations

Keep in mind that sometimes (more often than not as a matter of fact) the best place to sell books ISN’T in a bookstore. Craft book? What about hobby or fabric stores? Cookbook? What about a local gourmet shop? Business or finance book? Any local seminars coming up that you could “piggyback” with? History or historical fiction? How about your local historical society functions?

Each bookstore has a specific focus, clientele and “ambiance” that contribute to its success. These traits are determined by the store’s location, the inventory focus, the personality of the manager and her or his team, and the appearance and atmosphere of the store itself – and these factors drive what products sell within this store. Make sure ALL of these factors support YOUR topic and your book. For example – a store focusing on children wouldn’t be the place to pitch your latest investment strategy guide…

Start local before you go global. You’ll have the most success where you have the greatest chance of being recognized.

Each and every venue you discover will have has specific presentation opportunities and needs. Make sure you understand where author events are typically held within the store, and what area is available for your presentation. Find out who is in charge of coordinating author events and get to know them – get on their mailing list of events so you can see what the store is typically presenting to their customers. Ask them what they want in an author. Match their needs and wants to what you have to offer, and don’t waste each other’s time by forcing your book to fit their world.

2 – Be absolutely professional in requesting an event

It’s almost funny how many authors begin to think that just because they put pen to paper they deserve to be treated like royalty. Respect the store managers – you need them far more than they need you, keep your ego in check, ask them if you can present your idea for an author event and ASK FOR THEIR FEEDBACK. They will be far more inclined to want you in their store if they feel involved and invested in your success – it doesn’t mean make them do your work, but use their experience and knowledge to make your event a success (they probably know their customers better than you do…).

Create and use the best possible marketing materials – build a professional media kit that includes a press release, reviews, articles on topics that support your book (both articles you have written and other sources), a print out of your cover, a poster, postcards, author bio, author photo, marketing info and calendar showing other events. Send this rather large packet of goodies to the appropriate person at the store – you should have this person’s name from your research phase. NEVER send a media kit to a generic address – I guarantee you are better off having NOT sent anything.

3 – Help drive attendance (and thereby book sales)

Author Events really have only one goal as far as the store is concerned – get more people into the store to spend money. It isn’t a public service. Let the manager and events coordinator know what you can do to help drive customers to the store – as I said, an author event is designed to sell books and boost bookstore attendance, if all you are doing is capitalizing on customers already in the store – what value is your signing to the store?

There are lots of ways you can help the store bring more faces to your event:
– provide a mailing list to the store to which they can mail their newsletter with an announcement of your event
– offer to mail / email info about your signing to THEIR list, or provide materials they can send to their list (they may not want you having total access to their customer list – which may violate some privacy/spam requirements)
– help drive media coverage of your event – local papers, radio, etc – by sending them a press release announcing your event. Ask the manager about what forms of advertising they prefer you use and which work best for their store
– call the local paper the week before your event and ask if they’ll send a local editor or cameraman over for your event

The goal is to coordinate and cooperate – combining your efforts with those of the store will far more than double your results

4 – Create an interesting presentation or performance – tailored for each store you visit

It’s not just about sitting at a table and hoping that your signature will create interest and sell books. In today’s multimedia, multimodal, multimessage world, sitting and chatting to prospective readers won’t get you much interest.

Don’t just ask for a signing – think about what else can you do to draw traffic into the store. Is there a tie in with your book that you can use to create interest? Any current events that make your book timely? Be highly creative – think outside the box – got a cookbook? bring prepared food and teach the group how to make one of your recipes; got a fiction story? dress up like a character and do a reading or re-create one of the scenes; conduct a “seminar”; offer advice… whatever it takes to draw NEW customers into the store. It’s not enough to just capitalize on the traffic that is already there – that doesn’t make the storeowner any more invested in your success, and most of those people aren’t there to buy your book anyway.

5 – Remember the details of selling books

Don’t neglect the details of inventory and actually selling books – and remember that for you, the goal is as much about author awareness as it is selling books. Good awareness can contribute to an additional 50 to 75% of your event book sales. Remember these things:
– You need to have books in the store for your event, so help the store get a good deal on stocking 10 to 30 units and make sure they are in-stock before your event
• offer extra units at a good discount – if they buy direct from you and pass along some savings to the customer
• consider consignment – though only as a last resort
– Make sure you understand the store’s stocking policy for author events
• will they bring in extra inventory for the promotional period surrounding your event?
• do they keep extra after the event? (don’t be surprised if they only keep a few… be prepared to have some returns)
• how long will they keep you in inventory?
– Ask the store manager if they’d like you to autograph the remaining copies.

6 – Tie in callback or side opportunities

Can you schedule another appearance while you are there? It’s a long shot, but often worth a try. (However, don’t advertise your “next appearance” at your current event, or people will put off buying your book.) Does the store have multiple locations at which you can conduct additional events?

Make sure you get the names of your attendees – ask them to fill out cards to receive your newsletter (you have one, right?)

7 – After Event follow up
– send a “thank you” note to the store
– ask for their feedback
– ask to schedule another event (though this is a long shot) – or be part of an event that the store may be sponsoring or in which it may be involved (a community event or even another author event)
– keep in contact with the key person at the store – by visiting in person once a month or so (the best) or call / email
– send a complimentary note to the store’s district manager or corporate home office about the event

Never ever underestimate the power of an author appearance – most book sellers need events that can help drive additional customers to their store. Try to hit weekends, but remember that weeknights are good for many topics. Concentrate on what helps bring customers in to the store and you will be more successful than presenting an event that only draws on the traffic already present. Decide carefully where you prospect for events – make sure that what you offer (and the topic of your book) suits the needs of the store. It’s always easier to start local and then move outwards in radiating circles – this gives store personnel the chance to have actually heard about you from other sources.

Follow these simple steps and you will find yourself scheduling more events and conducting them more successfully – creating even greater demand for you in future events.

In a nutshell:

1. Research, research, and research – don’t waste your time on stores that aren’t a fit just because they’ll let you in the door.
2. Create an interesting “EVENT”. Presentations sell more than “visitations” – people will be more interested in you and your book if you entertain or inform (so will the store manager). Don’t just expect to sit around, chat, and sell books.
3. Be absolutely professional – provide all the detail they could ever dream of having about you, your book, and why they should care.
4. Gather reviews and blurbs from all possible sources
5. Show them what you can do for their store. Present ideas on driving more traffic to their location.
6. Tie in side opportunities
7. Don’t forget the details of selling books
8. Make everyone glad you were there

An incomplete checklist of setting up your event:

1. Research & Identify target stores
2. Create marketing materials
3. Contact store managers in person or by phone, then follow up with materials – remember to have your ISBN on hand – this is how they look items up with the greatest ease
4. Get all the store info on a single sheet – address, phone number, manager’s name and direct line, event coordinator (if there is one), all the email addresses you need – including a contact at their corporate home office or a district manager if you can
5. Prepare materials you will bring:
a. Two Posters – glued or bonded to a hard backing so that it stands up – if you aren’t handy and can make this as professional as possible, go to a craft shop or frame shop and have them do it
b. Post cards about your book to hand out
c. Bookmarks – put one in each book in the store (and leave them there even after you leave)
d. Author bio sheet with picture in plastic frame
e. Easel to stand one of your posters on

6. Ask store to stock some copies of your book at the register along with your bookmarks

7. Offer to do a Press Release or announcement about the signing for the store

8. Bring book easels to set 3 or 4 books on – or borrow some from the store

9. In-store – don’t sit behind your table, get into the crowd!

10. Be Happy! You are there to share something special with the audience – and they are there to support you and listen to your ideas. Remember – they came to your event voluntarily. They WANT to be there!

11. Put a bookmark or card in every single copy of your book in the store

12. Hand a book to everyone you can – ask them to browse through it, take it to table and read it, or even show them your favorite passage. Just getting them to TOUCH the book will increase your sales dramatically

13. Put articles of interest (on your topic of course) on your table – generate conversation with them

14. Take pictures of your event – have a friend or store associate photo you ‘in action’ at the table. One shot posed, one shot candid, one with the store manager and/or events coordinator – send this one to the store with your thank you note (maybe you could suggest they start posting author signing photos in the store??)

Nothing can guarantee a great book signing – but not being prepared CAN guarantee a lousy one. Follow these steps and tips, and your next event will not disappoint. Good luck!

If you like this information (and found it helpful) please feel free to post it on your site, put it in a blog, toss it in your newsletter, or in general spread it around. Please just give us credit here at dogearpublishing.net

May you have success in your creative efforts!

If you have any questions or comments – please write us atAuthorResources@dogearpublishing.net

Publicity is that elusive thing that can make or break your book – in all sorts of ways! Learning to promote you and your book is something that can take a bit of “re-training” for most new authors (and many old-timers too). Publicity is really all about selling your idea (and you), but all too often the word “selling” brings up images of polyester clad, used-car salesmen, telemarketers, and strong-arm sales strategies that do nothing but alienate your intended customer.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

True “salesmanship” is all about creating a deep connection with your intended reader or reviewer by providing unique, useful and rewarding information about your book. It’s all about creating a relationship that you will both benefit from, and to which you can return time and again. It’s about creating the awareness that you are an EXPERT about the topic of your book.

Good publicity is also regular and consistent publicity – there really is no such thing as an overnight success. Remember that you never know who is reading or listening — it just might have been someone who could lead you to bigger and better things.

Here are some ways to create a great relationship with the editors and reporters that can provide your book the long term exposure it needs to succeed:

1) It’s ALL about your intended audience – and very little about you. You might be brilliant, but editors only care about their audiences. As a matter of fact, more often than not, if you come across as thinking you are too wonderful, you’ll most likely be a turn off to the editor or reporter. This is where “blanket” press releases that go to thousands of outlets fail – they typically focus on you the author, and unless you are already a household name, guess what? No one cares. You MUST tailor your release to the intended audience – and it must be unique. Focus on the benefits you will provide their audiences. Think about the publication or program you are approaching – what do they provide to their audience and how does your book contribute to their goals? Don’t, under any circumstances, make your pitch sound like an ad for your book – if you have a good fit, and have good information inside your book, then it will generate interest in the book. The goal here is to make the editors, reporters, and audience understand that you are an expert on your topic, and that your book contains lots of good information – by PRESENTING some of the information… not by TELLING them you are an expert.

2) Target your pitch. Be confident knowing that reporters and editors have lots of need for information. But also understand that one of the quickest ways to get rejected is to pitch the wrong person – you’ll waste both your time and hers (and probably annoy the editor or reporter) – do your homework and find out who is the correct contact for your book. Once you’ve found the right person – ask him what he wants. Only pitch your idea if it’s a fit. Be sure to respect his or her time – everyone in the media industry works on unbelievably tight deadlines. Ask if they are under a deadline and if so, could you call back at a better time. Be short, sweet, and to the point – which means get to the point quickly. The audience will eventually want more detail than the reporter or editor – but for your reviewer, be able to sum up your book in 30 seconds or less. “Talk less, listen more” – let the editors or reporters drive the conversation after you have them interested. They will have specific needs and questions – so stop talking and answer them explicitly.

3) Approach ALL types and sizes of publications and media. Don’t be afraid to contact the “big guys” and don’t neglect the smaller ones. Anyone in the media has to aggressively pursue getting new and fresh content for their shows, magazines, and newspapers. This is especially true of anyone who needs to fill space on a daily basis. They are almost always on the search for people who can present information on exciting and interesting topics and trends. The biggest outlets are always on the lookout for an unknown that they can highlight. The smaller journals and outlets often have a very focused and influential audience – and you never know who might be reading them or listening to their shows. The smaller publications can also be “gateways” into the larger ones . Almost every size publication has value in your publicity campaign. Your chances of getting into smaller publications is probably higher than the larger ones, so set your time and effort accordingly.

4) Treat your contacts with unfailing respect and politeness. Yes, you are very busy – you might even be far busier than the publicist or producer that you are trying to approach. But you need them to help you out – and being constantly aware that they are very busy themselves will keep you focused on getting your materials to them in a timely manner. Never ever be late in submitting materials for a review or an interview.

5) Understand that publicity isn’t a “one shot success” effort. It is all about sustained and consistent awareness of your product. Marketing research indicates that  consumers will need to see your name about 7 times before they will remember it. Try to keep your interviews and reviews spaced out a little bit – frequency and consistency are critical. Don’t ever let up on your publicity campaigns – even the most successful product lines in the world (think Nike and McDonalds) continue to consistently spend millions on awareness campaigns for their products. Very rarely is anyone an “overnight success” – even the best-selling authors spent years building their reputations.

Follow these 5 steps while conducting your publicity campaigns, and your level of success will be far greater than those who have either ignored or never learned these basic steps.

If you like this information (and found it helpful) please feel free to post it on your site, put it in a blog, toss it in your newsletter, or in general spread it around. Please just give us credit here at dogearpublishing.net

May you have success in your creative efforts!

If you have any questions or comments – please write us atAuthorResources@dogearpublishing.net

It is interesting how certain topics and issues can become common themes among authors. One item that we hear a lot is how to determine a book’s retail price.

The following are some of the factors that we consider when advising authors on setting their book retail price. First, what type of genre does your book fall into – nonfiction, fiction, children’s, juvenile, self-help or something else. Some genres allow for higher retail prices or have less competition. For example, religious themed books are in high demand; as a result, retail prices for these books tend to be higher than a traditional fiction.

Secondly, the cost to print your book will affect your retail price. Are your books being printed traditionally or digitally? Digital printing tends to increase the unit cost of your book compared to traditional printing. However, digital printing allows you to print as few as one book at a time. At Dog Ear Publishing we offer both digital and traditional printing.

Another factor in determining a retail price is the bookstore – both traditional and virtual. Bookstores are in business to make money off the sale of books, so don’t forget they will expect to buy your books at some discount from the retail price. Typically, a traditional bookstore takes somewhere between a 30% – 50% discount off the retail price. Online bookstores can take up to a 55% discount. Some bookstores allow you to negotiate their discounts while others are firm in their demands.

Dog Ear Publishing allows you to set your wholesale discount and book retail price at any level you like – see this article for details.

The major ISBN registration agency, Bowker, recently collected Retail Price statistics on all of the books published in and reported their findings.

Average Suggested Book Retail Prices Last Year and how they compare to previous year:

$27.52 for adult hardcover (down $.10)
$25.08 for adult fiction hardcover (unchanged)
$28.49 for adult nonfiction hardcover (down $.29)
$15.76 for adult trade paperbacks (up $.11)
$14.78 for adult fiction trade paperbacks (up $.07)
$16.16 for adult nonfiction trade paperbacks (up $.15)
$7.35 for adult mass-market paperback (up .07)
$16.09 for juvenile hardcover (up $.26)

If you like this information (and found it helpful) please feel free to post it on your site, put it in a blog, toss it in your newsletter, or in general spread it around. Please just give us credit here at dogearpublishing.net

May you have success in your creative efforts!

If you have any questions or comments – please write us atAuthorResources@dogearpublishing.net