Monday, July 31, 2017

Realistic Book Publishing Information

If I want to learn about publishing, I want to turn to an expert. Amy Collins has been in book marketing and distribution for over 20 years. She started her career as a book buyer in 1996. I found THE WRITE WAY to be loaded with insights. Read this book with your yellow highlighter and be prepared to use it often.

In the introduction, Collins writes, “As a writer on the verge of publishing, you are enthusiastic about your work and determined to see it through to book form. While these are certainly helpful qualities in battling the challenges ahead, there is one tool to help you overcome the obstacles and push forward during the final stretch: That one key tool is knowledge.” (Page 6) This title is packed with such knowledge. 

Whether you want to produce an excellent book, sell it to bookstores or simply sell many copies (broad distribution), then you need this information. 

As an example of the insider information, Collins writes, “Here are some sobering statistics from Nielsen Bookscan, a company that tracks the sales of more than 6 million books in the United States:
• Each year, only two to five books sell more than a million copies each.
• Less than 1 percent of the books published this year sold more than 500 copies. That’s it.
• This year, major TV stars went on daytime talk shows, hawked their wares, showed up on NPR and still sold less than a few thousand books. The vast majority of  books published by major publishing houses lose money. Far more books published by small presses lose money. More than 80 percent of books published lose money. This isn’t meant to make you change your mind or discourage you in any way. I just want you to get a grasp on the book industry and realize how unpredictable it can be. Knowledge is power, remember? The more realistic your goals, the better able you will be to achieve those goals. Besides, once you have invested in this project, you are going to be looking for results. If your goals are in line with a realistic idea of success, then you are going to be much happier with yourself and your accomplishments.” (Page 50-51)

From reading stacks of books on publishing and writing, you never find this type of realistic information in a book. Never. Collins includes timetables about what authors need to do when to make an excellent book then push it into the market.There is specific contact information for authors (even if they self-publish, to explore distribution and marketing channels for their book.

Whether you are working on your first book or you have written many books, you will gain important information in THE WRITE WAY. I highly recommend this book.

Let me know if you've found realistic publishing information like this book in the comments below.


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Monday, July 24, 2017

Review Your Business Card for Key Basics

I've become an expert at skimming business cards on the spot with writers. My actions spring from my own frustration with missing information. Over the years, I've exchanged thousands of cards with people at writer's conferences. When I did not glance at the card on the spot, I would tuck it into my pocket, take it home, then discover missing information like a phone number or email or mailing address. As an editor, it would force me to email this person and gather the missing information (wasting time and energy).

The best time to gather this missing information is when you are meeting face to face with this person. Recently I was in Nashville for a Morgan James Publishing author event. I met a number of authors at this event and exchanged business cards. One of these authors, a medical doctor-turned-writer-podcaster, lived nearby in Boulder, Colorado. When we exchanged cards, I glanced at the information and it only contained his website. There was no email address nor phone number. He said, “My email address is on my website and I want people to go to my website.” It was good to know he had a rationale for the missing information—but I still collected it on the spot and wrote his email and phone on his business card. Others might not have his information from his business card but I gathered this important data on the spot.

When I attend events, my business card is one of the key tools that I use. Some of my long-term friends are amused at the changes in my business card over the years. I've added and improved my cards. Each time I reprint, I evaluate the information to see if it contains what I need. Because I work for a New York publisher, I have a business card which contains my photo, direct dial phone number, work email, and other information. Here's my Morgan James business card:
Whalin Morgan James business card - Front

Whalin Morgan James business card - back
Yet I live in Colorado and I'm also an author with my own blog, local mailing address and books. In recent years, I've been carrying two business cards. The local card shows off this information. Here's the front and back of my personal business card:
Whalin Personal Business Card - Front
Whalin Personal Business Card - Back
Since I've shown you what I'm using for my business card. Now take a minute to review your card and make sure it includes the basics:

*a current photo

*your phone and email address

*your physical address (or at least your city to give the receiver your time zone)

*twitter name

*blog website

*giveaway to build your email list (one of the most important author tools)

How did you do on the basics? Are you missing something? The most difficult element to proofread is something that is missing. That's why we need a checklist to make sure you cover everything. If you are missing some element maybe it's time to reprint your business cards.

Let me know your experience with business cards in the comments below.


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Blog Milestone:

With this article, I've gone over 1400 entries in the Writing Life. I've been writing this blog since 2009 and posting only one article a week, takes time to reach such a mark. There is a massive amount of information in these entries. If you have never used it, I have a search tool in the right hand column of the blog (scroll down to locate it). You can use it to find information on different topics—and I often use this tool to find past entries.

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Monday, July 17, 2017

Beyond the Radio Interview

Last week I was in Nashville with some of our Morgan James authors for another great event. It was similar to the event I detailed in March (follow the link if you didn’t read it). It was another distinct event to help and train our authors (a scarce activity across publishing from my experience).

I met a number of authors that I’ve brought to Morgan James for the first time which was fun after speaking with them on the phone and email for months.

One of these authors had done over 40 radio interviews—which is fantastic and to be commended. There are thousands of radio stations which are eager to interview authors and it is another terrific way to promote your book and give it exposure. If you don't know or use radio, follow the insights in this article about radio.

This author was saying the interviews barely made any impact with his book sales. I asked if he had saved the audio recording of his interview for on-going promotion. He looked at me with a blank stare and said no. It showed me that I’m taking an additional step with my radio interviews that some authors are missing. In this article, I want to show you how to preserve the interview for on-going promotion. You've invested your time and energy into the radio interview. How can you maximize and repurpose the interview for even more use than the single station?

The first step is to book an interview and give a solid interview. When you speak to the radio host, you need to pour a lot of effort into the interview. Stand up and walk around your office if this helps you have more energy. Answer every question with enthusiasm as though you are hearing it for the first time.

Radio hosts are busy and often work from  a list of questions that the author or the publicist provide them. I’ve answered the same questions over and over yet each time I act as though it is the first time I’m hearing the question. It is a basic that you need to provide a great interview.

To move beyond the interview, ask for a recording of the interview. Sometimes the radio station will put it on their site after the interview. Other times if you ask, they will email the audio file to you. You have to ask for it or search for it and preserve this audio file.

With this audio file in your possession  the next step is to  listen to it. Is it a solid recording? Do you need to cut out local commercials or anything to make it universal and just your interview? 

I use an audio program called SoundForge for this editing process.  Just like Microsoft Word edits words, you can use SoundForge to edit audio files.

I create or check to make sure I have a solid recording of my interview. Next I upload the audio file to my own hosting site. If I just link to the interview from someone else's site, they are in control and I've had these links disappear. When I put it on my own site, I know the interview is always going to be available online and never disappear. You have to make sure you preserve the interview on a site that you control.

The final step is to  incorporate this interview into your on-going social media efforts (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn). Here’s an example from one of my radio interviews about my Billy Graham book (click on the photo to see the real links in this tweet and try out the interview):
The interview was recorded months ago, yet because it was a morning radio show, it sounds like it happened yesterday. The listener doesn’t need to know the real date.

Because I reuse these interviews, people will regularly email me saying they heard my interview and compliment me. I respond with gratitude and never say when it actually happened (not relevant information for that listener). These recordings continue to promote and drive book sales and exposure for my book—long after the interview.

It does not happen  without the author taking control and action. Are you preserving your radio interviews for on-going promotion?

Tell me about it in the comments section below.


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Monday, July 10, 2017

Steal This Book Marketing Idea

Imitation is one of the greatest forms of flattery. I've been observing different book marketing ideas for years and never seen this idea.  I wanted to write about it and give you the details so you can use it (or improve it and use a variation) with launch your book.

Evan Carmichael is a brilliant entrepreneur and marketer. His first book is called Your One Word. It includes an interesting subtitle which stresses a benefit to the reader: “The Powerful Secret to Creating a Business and Life That Matter.” Notice several actions with this bookmark:

First, he asks, “Did you get your free bonuses?” The answer is “no” and you keep reading. Every author needs to offer some sort of bonus that ties to your book. Then Carmichael explains how to get the bonuses: “Email a picture of you and the book to oneword@evancarmichael.com and we'll send them to you!” He has set up a special email address for receiving these photos.

Many people are using a smartphone so taking a self-photo with the book is easy then emailing it to this address. In this process, Carmichael captures the email addresses of his readers—which is something every author should be doing—and adding to his email list in this process. I'm unsure what he is going to be doing with the photos, but I guess I will learn because I emailed my photo.

Second, he includes a little Amazon logo with five stars (clearly suggesting readers to give him a five star review). Then he asks for the review saying, “If you're enjoying this book it would mean a lot to me if you could review it on Amazon so others can discover it too!” Evan is following a key principle: if you don't ask, you don't get. Also with a color, he emphasized the words “a lot.” Followed with gratitude of “Thank you!” and his signature.

The overall effect is to touch his readers, get an email address and encourage them to write a book review. This little bookmark certainly caught my attention and I suspect will be effective for other readers. Carmichael's book released on December 6, 2016 and as of this writing has 76 Amazon reviews (way more than your typical nonfiction book). It looks like this strategy is effective.

One other key if you use this idea: write an excellent book. Carmichael has a well-crafted book with solid insights, stories and great interior design (use of bold and sub-heads for example). The foundation of every book is exceptional writing. The book is a hardcover business book with an attractive cover design—and published by Tarcher (an imprint of Penguin Random House). The publisher tells me that lots of energy has been poured into the creation of this book with excellent endorsements and broad bookstore distribution. Your One Word is a well-made book.

In my years in publishing, I've never seen such a bookmark but believe many others can replicate this idea with success. It's why I wanted to show it to you.

What do you think about this bookmark and idea? Is it something you could use? Tell me in the comment section.


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Monday, July 03, 2017

What Writers Can Do With Bestseller Lists

There are many different types of bestseller lists—New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly then every major newspaper has a bestseller list. Also the bestseller lists are often broken into different categories like nonfiction (hardcover and paperback), fiction (hardcover and paperback), children's books (hardcover and paperback), etc.

Book authors need to be reading these bestseller lists and keeping mental track of the books on them. Some authors are put off with bestsellers. When they read them, they don't resonate with the writing and wonder how it got on the list. There are many different ways that books get on the list.  Whether you "like" the book or not, I believe authors need to be aware of what is on the list for several reasons:

First, these list show you what the reading public is buying and reading. It also shows what publishers are creating and launching into the world.

Second, I encourage you to read or listen to these bestselling books. You can learn from them. You don't have to purchase these books but can often get them from your public library. If the book is not available, then learn how to get on the hold list for the book. Even if the book is very popular, eventually you will get the book.

Third, every writer needs to be aware of their competition and what is going on in your area of publishing. As an editor, I will speak with many authors. Some of these authors want to publish a romance novel while others are working on nonfiction and yet others are writing a children's book.  Often during the conversation I will ask if they read in their genre or area of the market. Their response is revealing whether they are in tune with their market or not. Some authors don't want to be “tainted” by the work of others so they are not reading. My contention is that you can learn a great deal about the reading public as you read and study your competition. This information will also feed into the competition section of your book proposal , your marketing plans and much more.

One of my bestselling author friends reads other books on the bestseller lists. It has been a part of his reading habit for many years.

Do you read bestseller lists and track on this information? Why or why not? How do you use them in your writing life? Tell us in the comment section. 


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