Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Your Title Can “Sizzle,” But Your Subtitle has to be the “Steak.”

Don’t expect would-be book buyers to understand what your book is about if you don’t tell them. “Don’t judge a book by its cover” is very bad advice for publishers, because something has to compel buyers to pick it up.

Design isn’t the only thing that makes a great cover; you have to have a great title too. An appropriate title. A unique title. Take your working titles, pick up the phone and call your voice mail. Say a few sentences about your book and then listen to your voicemail as if you were listening to a radio program. We often see people who can’t even remember their own book title because it’s a play on words, or is difficult to say, or is impossible to decipher over the airwaves. Does your title contain an acronym? Make sure the letters don’t rhyme with other letters that are close and might make another word when put together. Why? When you have taken the time and money to publish your book, people have to be able to find it! If they can’t understand you or they misunderstand you, you lost your precious marketing dollars.

Lisa Pelto, President
Concierge Marketing
and Publishing Services

Monday, April 27, 2009

"Put Your John Hancock Right Here"

When entering the vast world of publishing, know what you are getting into and don’t sign anything you don’t understand. Every week, we see eager authors who have signed contracts they didn’t really understand (sometimes with their attorneys who didn’t understand the terminology either). In particular, they get hooked up with agents who are not legitimately trying to place their book) or "self publishing" companies whose contracts are very confusing. So before you send anything to any publisher, editor, or book or literary agent, Google the name or visit a site called Preditors [sic] and Editors ( Find out what others say about them first and make sure they are who they say they are.

Remember one thing: With the print on demand/subsidy/vanity houses, their contracts say you retain the rights to your work. However, that doesn’t mean you own anything they have done with it—for example, you do not own the book they produced from your manuscript. Know what the terms mean, or ask a professional before you sign.

Don't pull a Sally Field at the first person who says they will publish your book ("They like me, they really, really like me!"). Know what you are signing. Know what kind of company you are dealing with. Understand their business before you give up any of your rights.

Lisa Pelto, President
Concierge Marketing
and Publishing Services

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Link Baiting -- We've Been Hooked!

As you’re aware, we’ve recently jumped head-first into the world of online networking, and we are seeing vast benefits from it already in the first few weeks. The number of unique visitors to our site has way more than doubled daily, as well as the reach of our message. According to, the number of visitors our site receives has gone up 400% since March 31 of this year. We attribute this jump in visitors to our presence on sites such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as Google AdWords, and our own blog. We’ve been able to spread our message further, and we would like to help our clients do the same.

With that in mind, here’s another great way to drive traffic to your website: "link baiting." The strength of the links you have connected to your site will determine how high Google’s search engine algorithm will rank it. Your rank is also determined by the number of visitors your site receives, and the way the site is designed and written.

Link baiting is not a quick process – it involves things such as getting businesses and organizations to put a link on their site for you, without necessarily returning the favor. It takes time for the search engines to crawl through websites and register the new links. In the long term, however, the benefits will float to the surface, and we know your page ranking will as well.

Erin Pankowski
Marketing Manager
Concierge Marketing
and Publishing Services

Monday, April 20, 2009

We're Thinking of Starting Our Own Writer's Strike...

To begin my rant... last week I was in a music CD store where they sell used CDs. The clerk told me that they pay a royalty to the artist for the secondary market merchandise. Finding this unbelievable, I called around to other second hand intellectual property merchants and I couldn't find another one who does this. I even doubt that the first one was telling the truth, but who knows.

Actors, as well as the writers who write for them, get royalties every time their ad is shown, or their tv program is broadcast, or their video is sold...this may bring to mind the writer's strike of 2007-2008, in which the Writer's Guild of America went on strike against major production companies to demand an increase in royalties from DVD and online downloads. Eventually they came to an agreement siding with the writers.

With this in mind, why doesn't an author get a portion of their secondary sales? Why does the bookstore get rewarded with a full refund for damaged, mistreated, mispackaged, over-ordered books?

Bookstores "display" rather than "stock" books in their stores (on consignment); thus meaning bookstores are allowed to make irresponsible buys or damage the merchandise with no repercussions (they can return overstock for full credit virtually forever). Bookstores get the largest percentage of the final take on a book sale no matter how it is published (traditional versus independent) -- 40% of the retail price. If they paid for merchandise they damaged, it wouldn't be so bad, but they don't.

And these bookstores that take trade-ins or buy backs -- wouldn't you think that on the second hand books they take in, (which I BET they return to publishers as damages on occasion), they would need to pay a royalty?

It's tough enough to be a small publisher, with all of that, but then have to deal with the wholesalers that require publishers to have an open return policy no matter who damages the books or how many they over-order.(Wholesaler takes 55% [and publisher pays shipping], wholesaler then sells to a bookstore at a 40% discount.) If you do the math here, you'll easily see that the big loser is the one who spent a large part of their life writing the property that is being juggled among the profit takers.

If the printed book is to survive, it should be a booklover's mission to make sure that the publishers and authors who create the masterpieces get paid their fair share -- just like actors do when some broadcast medium shows a movie or tv program (or ad) that includes them in it or a musician when they play a song on the radio.

Publishers and authors who foot the real bills in publishing could use some industry changes. Sooner rather than later.

End of rant, but frustration continues...

Lisa Pelto, President
Concierge Marketing
and Publishing Services

Friday, April 17, 2009

Don't Bite Off More Than You Can Chew...Or Sell

Why on earth would you want to fill your garage with cases of books? With technology today, you can order a few books, or even one – you can be your own “print-on-demand publisher”. And because digital technology is so cost effective, you can make modest changes or fix errors the second and third and fourth time around when you print your books.

Editor and publishing colleague Sandra Wendel explains, "Over the course of six printings, we have found a few tiny errors in a book on Las Vegas (actually readers have pointed them out). They were slight errors of fact in history, and we have corrected them easily on the second print run because we run short runs (although the runs are getting longer as the book progresses through maturity)."

You don’t have to broadcast to the whole world that your first run is very small—make sure you have a product that will sell before investing too much in huge inventories. Nearly 400,000 books are published each year—to get the attention of a buyer is tough. Start conservatively and react appropriately. This IS a business, after all!

Lisa Pelto, President
Concierge Marketing
and Publishing Services

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Let an Editor be "The Samurai"

In Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg discusses the importance of editing. It's tough to edit yourself. And it's tough to have others edit your work. The truth hurts sometimes, but your book may have taken you 5, 10 or even 30 years to write. Why, like so many authors, do you want to skip the editing process or think you can do it all yourself? You can’t. Your mother, your sister’s aunt’s brother’s wife, who is a high school English teacher isn’t necessarily the professional book editor you need either.

In the words of Susan Driscoll, former CEO of iUniverse, “If you spoon with them or share DNA, do not ask them to edit your book.” Editing is a complex process involving much more than just making sure everything is spelled correctly and the commas are in the right place. If you believe that your mother would be totally frank and “brutally honest” with you about your book, you are not alone (and you are wrong - unless your mother is a book editor), and you could be jeopardizing your work. Editors will tell you if you need snappier chapter titles or should expand a point or develop a character.

Of 100 would-be authors I polled last year, 75% of them said that a relative would be a fantastic editor and that they would be honest about their book. In retrospect, 90% of them changed their tune after publishing about having their now ex-family member edit their cherished book.

...And that cousin who is an artist and volunteered to do your illustrations … don’t do that either! (What if you don’t like the pictures?)

Lisa Pelto, President
Concierge Marketing
and Publishing Services

Monday, April 13, 2009

When Publishing, If You Fail To Plan, You Might As Well Plan To Fail

A Few Suggestions for Self Publishing from Tom Becka, Radio Host and President of Orpheum Brothers Press

  1. Get your marketing strategy put together. The book means nothing if people don't know about it and know how to buy it.
  2. Understand it's a lot more work than you think. Writing the book is only the first part. You've got to edit, re-edit, approve the art work, edit some more, plan your marketing strategy, get into the book stores, proof read, and approve the final edit.
  3. Have realistic expectations. Only Harry Potter and the Bible sell millions of copies. Most books are lucky if they sell a couple hundred.
  4. Know your market. Who will want to buy your book and how do you reach them?
  5. Repeat the previous 4 items until exhausted.
Our response: Yeah, what Tom said! Plus, schedule time for editing, layout, indexing, printing, and all the other production details. But don’t fail to set realistic landmark dates that will allow you time to market before your book is set to publish. Lots of people talk about the writing and publishing of a book, and then they wait to start marketing. Don't do that! Start marketing the minute you settle on a book concept. Talk about it, Twitter about it, blog about it during the writing process to help you build your following. You don't invite someone to dinner after you set a place for them (most of you anyway).

Prepare formal, written marketing and publicity plans ahead of time. For goodness sake, don’t wait until you have books in hand. Are you hoping for critical reviews like Publishers Weekly or Library Journal? Don’t try to send it to them once it’s published. They want your book four months ahead of your publication date. Don’t wait to send your book to Parents Magazine after it’s published either; most magazines want to have books six months in advance. It is possible to get reviews and other publicity, but don’t forget to plan that into the release date of your book.

Plan ahead, plan well, plan realistically. Your investment in planning on the front end will pay off for you many times over.

Lisa Pelto, President
Concierge Marketing
and Publishing Services

Friday, April 10, 2009

David DeFord's Take on Social Networking

David DeFord, President of Ordinary People Can Win Publishing
Company, and Author of I Wish to be Useful: A Guide for a More Meaningful Life

I've seen a recent upturn in sales of my books on Amazon and on my own website.
I attribute the increased sales to my Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn strategy.

Rather than tell every one of my Facebook friends, LinkedIn connections, and Twitter followers when I go to the bathroom or what I'm having for dinner, I keep it professional. Here are a few things I've been doing:
1. Posting motivational quotes that relate to my books
2. Telling everyone when I post a new episode of my podcast, I Wish to Be Useful, on iTunes.

These actions keep me on their minds in a positive light, and prompt some of them to check my podcast.

We’ve recently delved into the social networking world ourselves here at Concierge Marketing – and that’s just what it is – another world. There are so many aspects to social networking, but the good thing is that everything you post can be connected. That’s the trick; to get all of the parts to function as one creature and get your message out there to the right people.

For instance, when we post a new blog entry, we include a link on Twitter to let people know, so that hopefully they’ll click on the link to read it. Or if we find an article we think our friends and followers online would be interested in, we link to it. We are trying to drive traffic to our sites to give ourselves more name recognition, and also to better associate ourselves with others in our field.

Information is found and disseminated so quickly, it’s important to keep your message at the forefront of your tweets, Facebook posts, etc…Otherwise you’ll just get passed up for the next best thing. That’s something I’ve mentioned before, relevancy. So again, make sure that the things you are posting will be of value to potential or current customers.

Erin Pankowski
Marketing Manager
Concierge Marketing
and Publishing Services

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

First, a Thought from Tom Becka on Social Networking

“I think social networking is just another tool in the arsenal. With a Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, or LinkedIn account, you can be in control of your message and help generate sales. The trick is to branch out and generate new leads and new "friends" But with some work, you can have a site that will be a resource and keep reminding people about your product. You won't sell a million books off these sites but combined with all your other media it definitely helps.”

Social networking is a buzz word right now, and has been for awhile. I hear about Facebook and LinkedIn several times a day from different media outlets – local and national. Everyone is trying to get you to visit their page, some for personal reasons, and others for business.

It’s important to keep your content relevant for your audience, so that the right people will be interested in reading what you have to say. It’s also important to keep business and personal networking sites separate. Not everyone cares that you went out and had a few drinks Friday night. It’s not a bad idea to have separate pages for both, and different friends to go along with those pages.

If you do these things, you’ll keep yourself from getting into sticky situations between work and play, and you may find that you have new followers by keeping the content relevant.

Erin Pankowski
Marketing Manager
Concierge Marketing
and Publishing Services

Friday, April 3, 2009

Find Your Niche Market Before Publishing
by Lisa Pelto

“Everybody” is not a niche. When I speak to the author of a new book, I always ask them “Who Cares”? It’s not meant to be a rude question. If you can’t identify WHO your book will appeal to, don't waste your time and money publishing it. (Note: I didn’t say you shouldn’t write your book, you should; I mean you may not want to spend the money publishing it. That's the BIG question, kids.)

Be able to identify who your book buyer is (not necessarily who the reader is). Frankly, as a micropublisher, the buyer is more important than the reader. Why? One of the best markets for independently published books is actually the person who is buying a book for someone else. Steve Farner, author of Hey! I'm the Manager...Why Aren't You Listening to Me? describes how he found his niche:

"My book evolved from my management seminars and keynote talks. I had key stories, theories and concepts that I used in my speeches. Writing my book allowed me to hone my speaking skills by clarifying details of my stories. By putting things in writing, I was able to find clearer, more succinct ways to tell my story, and thus improve my entire product set. Now my major audience is corporations who are training their managers."

More questions you must ask yourself:

  • Are you willing to share your expertise with enough detail and
    clarity to make the product valuable to your buyer?
  • Are your target buyers willing to see you as the expert in whatever
    field you choose to write?
  • Are your target buyers willing to shell out $20 for it?
  • Does it fill a need currently not filled in the genre?
  • What features can you add to make it fit the niche?
  • How will you reach buyers once identified?

Lisa Pelto, President
Concierge Marketing
and Publishing Services

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Advantages to Being an Independent Publisher, by Donna Miesbach

I always thought that to be published with any amount of credibility you had to go through a "mainstream" publisher, but I've changed my mind. I'm finding that the advantages of being an "independent" publisher far outweigh having the name of a "big" publisher on your book, at least when it comes to what we've published so far.

Working as an independent publisher guarantees that your book will be available as long as you feel there is a market for it. You also have the freedom to make sure that the book is produced in a manner that truly portrays what you are trying to say. Being able to have a voice in all the many details, such as how the cover is designed, and how the pages are set up, is important to me. In other words, I can move forward knowing that the finished product will be a clear reflection of the book's message.

This is not to say I would not ever work with a "big name" publisher, but right now, with the longevity I feel our book is going to require, being an independent is definitely the way to go.
I feel truly blessed to have found people to guide me through the process, people who truly excel at what they do. Together we are making a difference.

Donna Miesbach
Co-author, Coaching for a Bigger Win, A Playbook for Coaches