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Is this all there is? Selling books is a bitch!

Is this all there is? Selling books is a bitch!

I posted this today on the Yahoo Self Publishing group in response to a frustrated author.

Al wrote:

” I wonder if it as simple as perhaps we are not asking people to buy our books? You can get the freebie advertising but it is like throwing chum to fish. You might get their attention but unless you hook them by the lip you are not going to catch any. …[]… Musicians and published authors actually go out and play their music or do book signings. Buddy Holly hated touring (and it killed him) but his record sales needed the public appearances.”

I don’t think asking people to buy your book is simple at all. I don’t think it’s as effective as tantalizing them and persuading them.

Most authors and even most publishers devote very little time and effort into the identification, targeting, messaging, acquisition and activation of buyers for their books. Yet figuring this out is crucial.

Even with the incredible technologies available online, people don’t know how to create the messages and communications that pull people in. Instead, they either do very little (as in, build it and they will come), or they push the product, find out how hard it is, and then give up because so few people buy the book.

You can do a lot with the media and technologies online if you seek to understand how people buy or get engaged with your books, products or services.

1. People discover a need, or want to solve a problem.

2. They begin a search usually online, but it can happen on social media like FB or Twitter or any number of other places (including discussion groups like this one)

3. But they really don’t look very hard. They only pay attention to the first few things they discover or the first few recommendations they get from people they have familiarity with.

4. People also tend to go and hang out where they are invited, accepted, entertained or educated.

Now for every type of book, product or service, there are thus hundreds if not thousands of places to search and become associated with.

But as most people now know, you can’t easily sell product and survive the act of asking. You must provide helpful, non-sales laden information, guidance, education or entertainment with subtle links that lead you back to your site. That’s where the real sales process then begins.

So what do you do?

1. Determine who your audience really is! Identify who your best targeted customers are and then figure out where they hang out. Your goal is to then learn how to be prominent and highly regared wherever they hang out.

2. You need to identify the type of content that will turn them on. Is it action laden excerpts? Is it drama? Is it illustrations, games, videos, or helpful tips?

3. You need to learn how to communicate so that your content works wherever you place it. The post for a blog is not automatically what you place in a tweet. The content and the trail of breadcrumbs has to fit the medium.

4. You need to participate in the communities meaningfully. You answer questions and provide feedback, offer tips, advice, stories, humor, experience and enthusiasm, so that people are inspired and get interested and so that you trigger the action to go to your site to explore your product.

5. You create content that people want to link to, want to share, and want to give to others.

This is what you try to do with media when you do publicity. Only now, EVERYONE is a publisher who is trying to make money off subscriptions and/or advertising.

If you do it reasonably well, you get dozens or articles or posts.

If you do phenomenally well, you go viral.

You don’t just write in a vacuum. You develop, test, deploy, analyze and improve.

My simple acronym for this process is this: CACA

C – Create

A – Ask

C – Create again

A – Ask again

Once you prove the message works in your backyard, only then can and should you use technology to try to repeat the success widely.

Your objective is to keep on placing things before YOUR people so they can decide to participate, play or purchase.

But just realize that this is hard to do. Think about it! When was the last time you read the newspaper, and went and grabbed your credit card.

Yet very often, a single piece of information triggers a desire that brings something to mind that does indeed get you to take action. Then and only then do you search for the contact information, the email, the phone or the order form.

Few authors realize that creating the book is only the beginning. To be successful they have to find satisfaction in connecting with people again and again till they get enough action to pay for their investment in the work they created. It’s not just mechanics and technology.

It’s not just fine art or excellence in creative writing.

There’s persistent, dedicated systematic communication outreach that has to drive people to action.

Success often lives or dies with the close monitoring of the one-to one relationship developed between the author and his or her audience.

That is where the author must determine “what did I do and say that turned you on?”

Learn this and you can use the technologies.

Fail to learn this and nothing happens.

Getting the Best Publicity

Guidance, strategy and steps to getting the best publicity

Dealing with Media Rejection – How to Turn a No Into a Yes

How to turn a rejection from media into an acceptance and feature story media coverage

OK, you send out a news release.

You asked for a review, a feature story or an interview. You gave them options, incentives, access to data, photos, people.

They said NO! Is it all over? Is that all there is? Has the door to opportunity slammed in your face?

I don’t think so.

No rarely means No. It usually means not now. It means maybe later.

But it is up to you to figure out what do do.

And what you do is simple: You make another proposal. You offer to send another idea. You say, how about i call you back in two hours (after your deadline has passed).

Always pitch back another idea for something else. Never let the conversation stop. Take the action and get them to say yes to something that keeps the conversation going.

Media people have a job to do. Maybe your proposed idea just didn’t fit in with their needs or maybe they think it will take more time and effort than they can give. As them “Is there something I/We can do to make this more attractive? Is there more information we can send to you.”

If they still say no, ask them “How about something totally different? What about this idea instead?”

Ask them “What would you like to see us present to you?”

Find out what the media wants. Then give them what they need and make it easy for them to work with you.

That’s how you’ll get respect from media for being a valued contributor and a working professional they can trust and rely upon to help them do their job.

That’s how you’ll close more deals and get more of what you want, too.

Promoting and Marketing on Facebook, Twitter and social media

Promoting and Marketing on Facebook

> Trying to promote books on Facebook is as pointless as trying to buy
> groceries in a church. It’s just not there. Been there, done that. Don’t
> waste your time. You can’t put “likes” in the bank.

OMG, failure certainly speaks louder than success.

Promoting as in marketing books with the immediate goal of selling books on Facebook is not how it works. This is not a direct marketing method of communication.

That’s simply not the right way to approach the use of these instant publishing technologies.

Think about what results in people taking action and sharing on Facebook.

They read and/or see something short, sweet, and incredibly thought provoking. They may comment on it if it’s worthy of comment. And they may share it if it’s value packed and worthy of sharing with others.

It’s a filtration process. The cream rises to the top.

Notice that only the really good noteworthy and excellent ideas and knowledge are passed on from person to person.

If you are going to intentionally and strategically use these technologies, you simply have to focus on creating messages that are worth sharing.

The Bottom Line: Quality and excellence is what triggers action.

I harp on this all the time. If you learn how to turn people on first, THEN you get to leverage the technologies to repeat the message and trigger the actions you want to happen.

Leave a trail of tasty intellectual candy and people will keep on taking bites and eventually want to buy the whole bag.

You can leverage, maximize and benefit from posting good, positive, enthusiastic, entertaining, and educational information.

You can see your ideas shared if what you post is truly noteworthy ideas, writing, photos, and helpful support every chance you get with every post you make.

You cannot just believe you are good. You must BE REALLY GOOD. In fact, other people must find what you shared to be so good, they are driven to share that incredible goodness with others.

This is real time public relations. You want to learn how to do this with Facebook, and every other media (= prime media, Internet media and yes, now even social media) you try to get published in.

If you write something that is really, really good, people will share it. But you have to learn how to create and make use of micro marcom.

I’ve been studying and developing successful strategies that people utilize for micro-marcom (micro marketing communications) for a while now. The media are masters at this.

The best way to use FB and other technologies is to make use of little tiny galvanizing nuggets of clarity.

You see the tweets in their headlines on Google News, in newspaper headlines, and in chyrons on TV. They hint of stories that will be dramatic, personal, achievement in the face of adversity plus humor. You can see these headlines are designed to be Attention Grabbing Short Phrases, with a link to get you to sit through “the rest of the story”. Study these tweets and you’ll see they basically fall into one of the following seven categories:

Problem Identified
Problem Warning
Problem Solved
Someone in Trouble
Someone Saved or Rescued
Something Bad Happened
Something Good Happened

If you are going to use Facebook and all these media to promote, you will be most successful if you stay as personal as you are talking to your best friends and giving them your very, very best.

And you have to be quick about it. You can provide a link so they can get more goodness, and by golly it had better be as good as you said it is!

This way the image and impression you create is always helpful, educational, fun, entertaining, and worthwhile.

You can choose to create a personal brand that people always want to enjoy, and that results in people sharing what you offer, because it is simply so good.

When they like what you do, they will act to get more of you.

Publicity Planner for 2012

Publicity Planner for 2012 - free pdf file download

Publicity Planner for 2012

Every year I create a forward-looking publicity calendar to help identify opportunities for people which is available in a free pdf file download.

It contains a lot of unusual holidays so that you can get creative, think ahead, and identify ways to tie-in to calendar events well in advance of the day they occur.

Here’s the link to the Publicity Planner for 2012:

β€’ http://www.directcontactpr.com/files/files/PublicityCalendar2012.pdf

β€’ Snip URL: http://goo.gl/YtBUi

Share freely. Enjoy!

Guy Kawasaki knows how to make candy – Response to “Launch Any Product Using Social Media”

Analysis of the utilization of social media on the creation of a NY Times best seller

I read Guy Kawasaki’s very interesting article titled on Mashable “Launch Any Product Using Social Media”

Guy’s post describes the social media actions he took to launch a new book titled Enchantment

Here’s the post I placed on Mashable comment in response (Guy’s personal comment is also included at the end):

Guy,

It would be wonderful to learn how many books sold each channel produced. That might be hard to document. It would be nice knowing how many books sold from the effort in total.

I don’t attribute your success to the social media. I attribute your success to the fact that YOU are known to produce candy. You have for many years now produced books and all sorts of information that is remarkable. It is intellectual candy, so that when people get a small taste of a new recipe, they instantly want the whole bag.

You are one of those individuals who will be able to sell anything you offer. You are one of those individuals whose every published word has been worth reading.

The fact that you used these social media technologies is interesting, but if it were anyone else, it wouldn’t necessarily work. You can make great use of these technologies because you’ve got credibility and the people you want to reach are interested in what you have to say.

To really work well, the technologies (any publishing technologies, not just the social media) need a message that produces the feeling of want and desire instantly. It has to offer tremendous news, education, or educational value. It has to come from a trusted source. It has to taste like candy.

Without that candy, nothing will happen no matter what technology is used. With that candy, every technology you use can be a force multiplier.

The key with everything that you do is that YOU are known to produce candy. And the real lesson to be learned is that if anyone wants to achieve success like you, then they have to produce their own candy first. And it’s not just the product, but it’s also the little and large snippets of communication in all the marcom you offer, that also needs to taste like candy. The messages have to be really good, the content has to be quality and offer tremendous value.

And in your case, the person who is offering it is someone who can be trusted and known to produce worthwhile advice, entertaining insights, and helpful information.

That’s the lesson learned. You do your best and make candy. You help the people you can help the most and you do it with style, energy, and pizzazz. You make it your life’s work.

If all these things happen, then no matter how people learn about it, they will likely conclude it truly worthwhile. They will then feel very much inclined to buy not only the bag of candy you are suggesting we buy, but everything you have for sale.

In a nation with 330 million people trained and indoctrinated in reading and using media and technologies, truly remarkable sales and success are indeed possible. And with 1.3 billion people in China, the world is indeed a remarkable place filled with global opportunities.

You’ve earned it. That’s really what other people have to do, too. Make candy.

———–

Paul,

You made my evening. Thanks so much. I feel like Willy Wonka. πŸ™‚

I don’t know how many each channel sold. It’s very hard to figure this out because so many things pointed to my Amazon affiliate account.

I hope I can continue to make candy that pleases you!

Guy

Book publicity and selling more books

Book publicity and selling more books

Question Posted on Independent Authors at Yahoo Groups.

>> Do book reviews sell book? Yes, and the review sites can prove it, because they get paid a percentage of the “buy-through” from Amazon. They don’t sell that many, and more nonfiction than fiction, but they do sell. And why not try to get our books reviewed? There are only so many options open to us. We can try to place an article in a magazine or newspaper, we can try to get book reviews, we can enter contests and hope for the best, we can do book club talks, and we can visit our local book stores and try to get signings. Why not try them all? I’d stand in front of Costco with a banjo and balloon hat if I thought it would help. I write books that I hope people will read. How they find my book is immaterial to me. I write books that I hope people will read. How they find my book is immaterial to me. < < I just don't believe that it's smart to rely on the "proof that reviews work" for others and make the assumption that the same process will work for you. I also believe that if you are writing to create a real business, then how people find your book is crucial to your survival and success. There are many choices an author/publisher can make when deciding how to profit off one's intellectual property. Hope is not a strategy. Systematic carefully targeted communication to specific groups of high probability markets of people with money, with dedicated monitoring and continuous improvement is a strategy. The Naked Cowboy stands in Times Square in his underwear playing his guitar. That's how he communicates with HIS PEOPLE. He's built a successful nationally recognized brand doing this. He entertains and stimulates sufficient numbers of people who buy his music. There's a teenage kid with hair down to his knees who plays a screaming guitar a la Jimi Hendrix each day in Santa Monica who also is doing pretty well. So maybe standing in front of Costco with a banjo and a balloon isn't such a bad idea. If it works for you, do it! YOU have to determine how you can reach and communicate with the people who matter to you. If what matters is sales, then that means you HAVE to know how you are communicating so that the action you produce is sales. Look at this model: Write a book. Self-Publish in ten ebook formats and POD. Have the book available at Amazon and Google and dozens or even thousands of other e-stores. Send the eBook to book reviewers by email. Get reviews. Sell books. Sounds pretty good, doesn't it? What if YOUR PEOPLE, don't read the reviews. What if THE REVIEWERS, won't even accept the ebook. System failure. Yet this is what lots of people are doing. They write the book and pitch to a limited number of book reviewers. Then fail and stop. I see this all the time. Sometimes the problem is the book. Some books simply aren't that good. This is one serious problem. Sometimes the book is fine, but the author and the publisher don't take the actions needed to reach THEIR PEOPLE. And they don't have the stamina to go the distance. They stop before they learn how to turn THEIR PEOPLE on. To me and my clients, this question is one that turns on return on investment. If the goal of writing and publishing is to produce sales, and there is only so much time and money to be invested in marketing, promoting and publicizing, then the determining factor is how many books can you sell? People do write to try and make some money. You have to care about how people find out about you and your writing if sales are important to you. If you don't care, then there is very little chance that enough people will ever learn about you and buy what you have to offer. My point is that YOU have to decide how to spend your time and what you receive from your efforts. Book reviews are one option. Feature stories are another. You can embark on a program of speaking and or doing entertainment. People are successful in producing income and attracting attention that triggers action (e.g., sales). Which tactic works the best for you? Do you know? The LA Times article BOOK PUBLISHERS SEE THEIR ROLE AS GATEKEEPERS SHRINK (http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-gatekeepers-20101226,0,7119214.story) is pointing out that it is possible to create writings and develop audiences using the new technologies that are available. The article only hints at what JA Konrath and the other authors are doing to gain attention for their writings so that they do indeed sell books. The article says “In addition to Konrath, bestselling author Seth Godin, science fiction writer Greg Bear and action novelist David Morrell recently have used Internet tools to put their works online themselves.”

Right.

Internet tools.

This article fills people with hopeful and vague ideas that the future is here and that this type of success is going to become more commonplace.

And it may indeed for some.

BTW. Look at this article! It points out exactly what I am saying. It’s not a book review. It’s a human interest feature story. It is even a shining example of one of my favorite rules — the DPAA + H rule. It’s dramatic, personal, and tells stories of achievement in the face of adversity + humor.

So it does attract reader attention. It is emotionally engaging and even galvanizes people with visions of hope that they too can be a wildly successful author without being raked over the coals by classical mainstream publishers. It highlights the apparent simplicity of the new publishing economic model.

It also identifies the authors by name. It brands each one so that anyone who looks them up can now be exposed and potentially buy everything they have available.

Great article. This is an example of the very best type of media coverage authors can get.

Is it entertaining? Yes. Is it really helpful? Let’s look for the practical value.

Seth Godin and Stephen King can write just about anything they want and it will sell. They not only have created a huge national following, but they’ve each created consistent, high performing diverse platforms of communication that allow them to reach and sell directly to THEIR PEOPLE. They have created astoundingly successful communications systems that persuade people to take action.

Most people do not have these “Internet tools” in place. In fact, many authors write and publish without even thinking about how to reach out and touch someone, anyone. They don’t think about how to do so consistently, so that can run a writing and publishing business profitably and consistently.

The article doesn’t help most of us very much at all. In fact, the end of the article highlights what is identified as the biggest challenge to successful publishing:

“Indeed, the challenge in a world where anyone can publish a book is getting people to pay attention…. In a blog post titled “Moving on,” about his decision to self-publish, Godin wrote that “my mission is to figure out who the audience is, and take them where they want and need to go, in whatever format works.”

Seth Godin is talking my language. This is the field I work in. Targeted PR.

So back to reality.

You get to choose what you want to do.

And if you want to make money with your publishing, here’s my suggestion.

Follow the money.

The country is huge – in the US alone you have 330 million people. The potential is phenomenal. If you can develop a process for reaching people you can do very well. I believe you can even learn how to do this starting one on one in your back yard, anywhere.

I even came up with a cute little acronym which describes how to do this.

CREATE.

ASK.

CREATE AGAIN.

ASK AGAIN.

= CACA

Think about what you do that turns people on. Test it. Get a sale.

Ask people who reacted the way you wanted them to. Ask them, “What did I do that turned you on?”

Capture it. Record it. Document it. Then prove it.

If it works, do it again. Test it again. Improve it by asking again.

CACA.

Then repeat this process till you can stand in a room or present to 25 people and get half the people in the audience to hand you money.

Then use the many technologies you have at your disposal to present, broadcast and target YOUR PEOPLE with this proven message.

Decide what marketing actions to take and then document the sales and profits you receive.

Compare it to other actions you can take. Be systematic. Identify a pathway to profits. Determine if you have developed a process of steps that can be duplicated.

If it works, then do it some more. If it doesn’t, then stop and do something else.

More CACA.

Bring it on.

The Goal of a News Release

The Goal of a News Release

The goal of the news release it to get publicity and not to sell product.

My experience is that media view endorsements as marketing facts. I don’t believe that media care much about what other people think until they have determined that they are interested in the story first. Only then do the bio and endorsements act to validate that the author and the message are solid and can be trusted. They are not usually newsworthy in and of themselves (although there are no doubt exceptions, e.g., a Sarah Palin endorsement of a candidate).

Media are usually content based decision-makers who make their living publishing. So if you want to be in the media you need to help them do their job. But there are lots and lots of media and you need to give the right message to the right media. How do you do this?

First you have to know your book, author and content.

Then you have to identify your target audience.

To answer the question, “Can I reach this audience?” you ask, what do My People read watch and listen to, particularly when they are most receptive to taking the action that I want them to take?

That’s how you identify and target the right media. I use Cision to create these custom targeted media lists. Hitting the right media is one of the crucial steps because they are the only ones that matter.

Then you tailor your message to meet the needs of those media. To be maximally effective when you do create your pitch, you study these media and evaluate existing coverage for similar projects. You look over the possibilities based on what they do publish or produce, since this is how they make their living.

Then you create and give them a strategically written ready to go proposal for an article or a show that meets those needs using the very best content that the author and intellectual property you seek to promote has to offer.

That’s how you maximize your chances of success for any book, product, service or initiative. You give right media something newsworthy and value laden that’s designed to make them money their way.

This is a very difficult process. There is lots of uncertainty and if you mis-match the message and the target, you simply don’t get the best response.

So many people miss the boat and create general vague all purpose news releases that really are simply ads for the book. They don’t really even understand that media don’t care about the book. They only care about whether a news release pitch offers, news, education or entertainment that the audience will really enjoy, and that’s really easy to publish (e.g., doesn’t cost the media a lot of time, money or effort).

Media simply will not respond unless the pitch is really interesting and delivers exceptional value (news, education or entertainment) and the actions they are to take (write an article or do an interview) are logical, easy and quick.

You give the media what they need and they’ll give you what you want which is bona fide objective editorial high value content laden coverage that promotes the book and the author.

You give them a pitch that looks like an ad, you’ll get a response from their advertising reps. They’ll basically tell you, if you want an ad, pay for it.

Quick advice for experts and professionals on how to maximize publicity and media coverage

Quick advice for experts and professionals on how to maximize publicity and media coverage

You are a natural problem solver filled with good advice.

This is the core approach you need to take when branding and promoting. You simply need to decide to help the people you can help the most, with each and every bit of outreach that you do.

Select the biggest upcoming problem that’s on the horizon and then solve it, offering an article and interviews.

This is what will carry you forward and propel media coverage. It will also carry your books, products and services along with it.

Make sure that the content you offer is like candy. It tastes so good that people want the whole bag.

Bet you can’t eat one!

Publicity Planning – Look ahead and pay attention to lead times

Publicity Planning - Look ahead and pay attention to lead times

Pay attention to lead time and start working on publicity well in advance of holidays and calendar events:

It’s August 23, 2010

Labor Day is two weeks away
Salami Day is Sept 7 this year
Rosh hashanah is Sept 9
Patriot Day (9/11 day) is two and a half weeks away
Grandparents Day is Sept 12
International Chocolate Day is Sept 13
Columbus Day is two months away
Fall is four weeks away
Halloween is two months away
Thanksgiving is three months away
Christmas is four months away

Plan ahead and pay close attention to media lead times.

Best days to transmit your news releases are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Plan and write copy Friday through Monday. Plan ahead and start writing early.

Critical lead times: Blogs, Daily Newspapers, Radio and TV – seven to ten days. Weekly newspapers – four to six weeks. Magazines – four to six months.

Free media calendar available at http://www.directcontactpr.com/files/files/Publicityplan2010.pdf