Because John Kremer really does know everything that can be known about marketing books, I would encourage you to sign up for Ning.com's Book Marketing Network group. I've been quite pleased with what I have seen thus far. Just click on the graphic below to take you there.
One thing I have noticed from Steve Weber is that he makes it very easy for people who read his books to find a place to order them. After most of his posts, you will see an Amazon box (like the sample shown below) right after each post. Again and again. And my guess is that this results in sales.
Whatever you do, don't make it hard for people to find your book.
I like independent publishing. I enjoy the process of creating a book and bringing it to market. However, I do get that this process is not for everyone. If you do not want to do it all yourself, what's a writer to do?
You have several options:
1. You could go with one of the subsidy houses like AuthorHouse Or Publish America. I hope you won't. Why is that? Because you won't sell any books. The average customer (and, yes, you are a customer) sells less than a hundred books. Also, if part of your marketing strategy is to sell into bookstores, it's unlikely that will get you there because the cost for each book is too high.
2. Hire someone to do the work for you. There are book shepherds out there that will take on as little or as much of the process as you desire. It's not cheap, but you will end up with a high-quality product.
3. Use Booklocker.com. Some time back I interviewed Richard Hoy of Booklocker.com and I was impressed with their service. Yes, you do get charged a fee just like one of the subsidy houses, but the fee is a much more reasonable $492 (or if you supply your own cover, you can knock $175 off that price).
And importantly, I respect any company that tells you right up-front why you should not use them. See:
This is the direction I would go if I were in the market for this service. I should warn you that BookLocker.com makes its money from selling books more than from selling you services (which is the exact opposite of those other companies), so they will want to know how you plan on marketing the book. Remember, marketing the book, no matter how large the company, falls first to you.
Here's a quote from that 2005 interview:
The dirty little industry secret is that the biggest POD firms use the same backend service to do the actual printing and distribution of the books. So the quality of the books and the distribution channels are identical. The only real differences are the prices we charge, the quality of our customer service, and our business models.
In summary, BookLocker.com is an ethical company providing an honest service. Yes, for me, I would still choose to do it myself, but if you can't (or won't), then BookLocker.com is the choice for you!
This week I am once again reminded of the power that comes from a single mention by a big dog; a mention by a person that is a guru in your particular field. In my case, a single mention by John Kremer in his newsletter resulted in hundreds of people going to my new Self Pub News website. Hundreds. For a new site, that is a very good thing.
Could you duplicate that effort? Quite possibly. The important thing to remember about websites and blogs is that it is a numbers game. Often you can correlate the number of sales with the number of people who visit your site. Remember that ratio is not large; this is one of the main reasons why you must increase traffic. You always need to be looking for ways to increase the number of people who come to your site.
So how do you do this? First, you need to decide who the major players are on in your field. As it happens, I have two fields, distance/online learning and self-publishing. With that second one, I have had the opportunity to interview many of the "big dogs" right here at SmallPress Blog. This includes, of course, John Kremer. So, when I started the new site last week, I made sure to send him an email announcement. The rest, as they say, is history.
However, if you do not know the person/people, you need to change that. One way is to start posting on their blog or in their forum. Another possibility is to just cold email them. These are real people and often they respond just like everyone else.
If your field is self-publishing and book marketing, imagine how nice a mention by Dan Poynter, John Kremer, Fern Reiss, Seth Godin, and so on, can be for your site. In my case, I provide a service to the independent publishing community. This service, the SmallPress Blog and now Self Pub News, means that I must interact with many of the major players in the field.
Think about it. While this works less well for fiction, imagine the traffic if you can get John Grisham to mention your legal/crime book on his blog. I think thousands of hits is not an unreasonable number (and, no, I don't know if Mr. Grisham has a blog, but you get the idea).
The point is that you need to build relationships with the people that can make your career, your website, your book become successful.
Some things to remember are:
1. Build real relationships. No one likes to feel they are being taken advantage of by the new guy. In other words, don't abuse the relationship. Constantly asking for help gets old fast.
2. Look for the "big dogs," but don't hound them. Yes, lousy pun, but you get the point.
3. You need to promote the "big dogs." One way people reach that level of big doggedness is that others link to them and mention their writing/blog/book.
Today, thus far, I have received 26 emails about making a book announcement on Self Pub News. Apparently, self publishing guru John Kremer mentioned it in his weekly newsletter (for which I am grateful).
However, out of those 26 emails, only one of them came across as professional. He used proper spelling, punctuation, and formatting. He clearly had gone to the site and gave me exactly what I asked for (and it was easy to see that he had because he even mentioned that his book announcement was 100 words, one of the parameters).
That one will get placed on Self Pub News. All of the rest, I had to send a generic email requesting further information (which makes getting into SPN that much harder for them).
1. People, before you go firing off emails, please check out a site. If those writers had, they would have seen a post telling them exactly what I require.
2. How well you present yourself does play an important role in writing and publishing. Half of the emails I received either had significant grammatical errors and/or came across as very unprofessional. If you are a professional writer or publisher, it's important that people see you that way.
This is in no way to take people to task, but you have to remember that, in this business, you are dealing with people who work with words for a living. Words are important and how you present those words is equally important.
Beginning on Monday, July 23, I am starting a review column, perhaps 3 paragraphs, focusing on those books -- self-publishing, book marketing, etc. -- that are the most useful to us as publishers.
The first book out of the gate will be Steve Weber's Plug Your Book!: Online Book Marketing for Authors. It makes sense that I should review that book first since I just had the opportunity to interview Steve.
If you have a book that you would like toss into the ring (or slush pile, if you will), I would be happy to take a look (but no guarantees; I'm rather fickle!). Please send it to:
SmallPress Blog, PO Box 19021, Fresno, CA 93790
I'm a writer. I have been thinking about this quite a bit lately. I have written 4 (and 9/10) books. I have written a great number of online and print articles. I write a couple of newsletters. I have been a magazine columnist. I have been interviewed a significant number of times about that which I write.
And, yet, I found myself reminding folks on my writer's blog at ThomasNixon.com:
that I really am a writer and that I really do earn a substantial portion of my income from writer. And, oh, by the way, why don't you go buy my book.
I think sometimes people forget that there really is a book that they really can buy because they have seen the link or cover so many times. So, I politely remind them that I do have a book and that I do appreciate it when people buy the book.
And I think that is okay.
In wandering the Internet, I came across science fiction publisher Baen Books' free library. What does that mean?
It means they put up a number of their books for free in digital versions and, importantly, are not charging you to read them. They also haven't used some silly DRM (Digital Rights Management) system to block your reading.
Now, here's the lesson: They made putting the books up for free optional to their writers. Writers who elected to do so have been blessed with increased sales.
Increased? Yes because, apparently, if people like what you write, they go out and buy the book. What a concept.
I have talked with and/or emailed with small publishers who worry incessantly about their property being stolen. In other words, people getting to read their books for free. The only valid opinions, perhaps, are those who do not offer print versions of their books. Nothing for people to go out and buy (which is odd in this day and age of print-on-demand).
However, what if you looked at it as advertising of your services, your website, or even of you? It's all about building the platform, baby! Everything connects to everything else.