Monday, May 30, 2011

BEA and IBPA Book is Closed for 2011

It was true at Publisher's University, and confirmed at the Book Expo:  Self Publishing is evolving...quickly.

Turning the page to the future of books, the Publisher's University seemed to be all about Amazon. They are seemingly taking over the world. They were everywhere at Pub-U.  Yes, Amazon is important, no critical, for any self publisher's toolbox. But it's only one tool - okay maybe 10 tools, but still. Today's DIY publisher needs to be forming a platform, sharpening their focus, and needs to be tightly edited and well formatted and designed. 

My presentation at Pub-U was all about how to work with publishing services companies; starting with hiring professionals for editing, cover design, interior layout, and other publishing duties, to evolving our mindset to serve the customer. Much of my presentation covered "orientation" in the growth and evolution of self publishing -- product, production and customer orientations.  It's a concept right out of college marketing texts, but fits perfectly with the publishing e-volution.

Product Orientation - In the infancy of modern self publishing, authors found that they could get their work published and pushed out to the public with little regard for the customer. What they had to say, they had to say ... and "everyone" should buy it and like it. They published with the product foremost in their minds because they could do it, no matter the cost to them financially, nor the cost to editorial quality. 

Production Orientation - The next major evolutionary step loomed in the production and printing advancements in the self publishing industry. Virtually anyone could publish their product and push it through to the public easier than ever. Thus the technology drove much of this era in publishing. 

Customer Orientation - Now that over a million books are being published (and countless others are being produced that the general public never even sees), the customer has finally become a critical piece in the mix. For the first time, the customer's editorial, quality and content needs are a factor in what authors are writing. In addition, the way in which the customer consumes the book is also driving how the publisher produces their book.  It's finally the way it should be.

Hopefully the current customer orientation will never change. With the customer in the mix as the major element driving publishing, the industry is bound to flourish.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Book Expo America and NYC -- Here we come!

Keeping it light and easy this year on our way to BEA.  First stop Saturday: DIY Conference (if our flight is on time.)  Sunday: Brunch with a client, and then off to the first day of IBPA - Publisher's University.  Monday: Into Javits by 7am for networking, then presenting with Amazon's CreateSpace guru Jon Fine on how to work with a publishing services company, and then meetings, meetings, meetings.  Monday night: Ben Franklin Awards. Tuesday: It's off to the races at BookExpo, starting off the day with a rights agent to explore what our clients have been up to... then off to meet with distributors and printers, catalogers and buyers.... and finally, meet with the CEO of Baker and Taylor about a few things that are on my mind. 

We're out there advocating for our clients nationally. Many of our clients are advocating for their platform all around Nebraska and in many places nationally. It's a crazy weekend and a crazier two days to follow, but I'm SO EXCITED!!!

Thanks to my AMAZING staff for pulling everything together, and to my wonderful family for putting up with my passion for the independent author.  We have some really cool tricks up our sleeves for finding real business for y'all!  We'll be reporting regularly here on this blog... stay tuned for news!


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Utilizing Publishing Services Companies

I'm preparing my presentation for a program in New York with Amazon CreateSpace's VP of Marketing. My job is to talk about using the "new tradition" of publishing. In the initial stages of deciding the direction of my presentation, I planned on talking about Amazon and their print-on-demand division, CreateSpace, as the main players to get you where you need to be. I do believe that they are an important and very major player in any new hybrid publishing endeavor, but they aren't the only option. I like them especially because you own ALL the rights to your book (not just the copyright --you want publishing rights too.)

My plan at IBPA is to soak up all I can about all of the upcoming publishing avenues for our clients and other publishing friends. At BookExpo, in addition to it being the biggest book show in the world, we have appointments set up with our foreign rights agent, the press room, a distributor, a couple of ebook companies, five printers, and two catalog buyers. Two days at IBPA, and one rockin' day at BookExpo. 

I'll be writing a lot about different publishing options over the next few days, blogging about our trip to New York, and bringing new information from IBPA's Pub-U, and BookExpo. 

If you are so inclined, you can still register for both:
Pub-U May 22-23
BookExpo America May 24-26

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tracking Your Time

There are a lot of reasons to keep track of your time. As I get older, I realize how much I got done in the weeks prior. But as a publisher, it helps me analyze where my company is spending time - and whether or not we are spending our time where it matters.

From 2004-2009, I used massive spreadsheets to help keep myself organized and to help my company track billing. At billing time, I wanted to drive my car into a wall most months. By then, I had three employees and each one of them would unknowingly write a different description of what they were working on. One would enter in Business Cards, the next one Biz Cards and another 2 Sided Bus Cards -- but that doesn't sort very easily to tell me they all spent time doing something with a business card for a client. I tried protocols, but there was inevitably a misspelling here or there and I missed a lot that way too. Billing took me 40-60 hours a month!

Then in January of 2009, I instituted three new things: A task list called Checklist by Task Solutions and its counterpart Task Anyone, which sends notices to individuals to whom I assign tasks. We have sort of outgrown it at this point, and I'm searching for another more flexible solution to it -- but it worked well for me when I had only 100 or so tasks to track. I'll continue to use it until I find something equally user friendly and cost effective for our task lists that are more than 2000 tasks long.

The third item I purchased and put in place was Standard Time. It is a time-clock oriented piece of software that has things compartmentalized by the person assigned to the task, the client and the project on which we are working. Each project is broken down into subcategories and then down to tasks within those categories. For example, a string might look like this:

KELLY W. (Client in purple here)
   Book 1 (Projects in royal blue here)
       Publishing Compliance (Subcategories are in red)
             Purchase ISBN (Tasks are in black)
             Apply for LCCN
             Join IBPA
             Category Research
             Pricing Research
             Front Cover
             Back Cover/spine
     Product Feature development
             Diagram album
             Press Release
             Sell Sheet
             POP Display
             Book Launch Party
             Facebook Updates
      Distribution and Sales
             Baker & Taylor set up and maint.
             Amazon updates
             Amazon sales
              Facebook Updates

Each time a person works on something, they are able to specify exactly which thing they are working on simply by clicking a clock-like icon and then selecting the task as the project tree expands from that simple click. Expenses are noted in the same way. For example, let's say someone spends $45 on their company Amex card printing sell sheets. They just expand the tree until they see the sell sheet category under Marketing and PR, and then enter the amount and the payee. When reconciling the Amex bill at the end of the month, I know exactly what the charge was for. And for billing I run reports to tell me by client, project and employee what we worked on how many minutes it took. (You can set parameters to always round up to five minutes, or fifteen minutes, etc.) There is also a feature that lets you link to Quickbooks or bill directly from the program. 

This type of program is quick, inexpensive, and very effective. I researched several and found this one more than served my needs. (The only thing I wish I knew how to do is write my own reports for it; currently I use the pre-existing ones that come with the program with the various filters that allow me to customize them for me.)

Check this out:  Standard Time, and talk to Warren Peacock.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


The final entry in the WAKE UP Marketing Strategy is all about Perception, but this is really just the beginning of the real work of marketing your book with solid information about your target audience!

P = Perception

Always remember that as an expert in whatever you have written, you are probably very much like your prospective customer.  Just like you, your customers immediately perceive the things they see, hear or experience. Perceptions are technically nothing more than what a person recognizes and understands -- but that's all marketing really is. 

All along in our analysis of the WAKE UP psychographic marketing strategy, we have been talking about locating your target audience through their beliefs, values, habits and interests. These can not be easily manipulated by a marketer; however, a person's perception of something can be controlled by skillfully crafted and placed messages. Your packaging, your marketing, and any other tie-in to your book should honestly and effectively convey a message that results in the perception you are aiming for.
“It is one of the commonest of mistakes to consider that the limit of our power of perception is also the limit of all there is to perceive.”    ~ C. W. Leadbeater
There's perception, and then there's reality. The reality is what your book will provide to the reader -- from the format, to the words you've chosen, to the distribution strategy that you selected. It's your skills, your story, your life, your expertise, and then even your delivery of all of those things in a form you can share that are the reality. It's the things you have chosen in your publishing program that make your book what it is.  But does the reality of your product match the same as your customer's perception of your book?  It needs to be totally in sync to maximize your effectiveness. 
Consult with your Watch Group again to gauge their perceptions of your marketing messages. 

Now the real work begins.....

Monday, May 9, 2011


Continuing with the in-depth examination of the W-A-K-E U-P Marketing Strategy using psychographics.

U = Understand

Up to this point, we have stressed how important it is to know your audiences, but it's critical to understand the questions that your customer is subconsciously (and sometimes consciously) asking before they purchase or read your book.

Even for a relatively inexpensive purchase like a book, you need to make your marketing materials address these issues. These are the questions that your customer is pondering while looking at your book and your marketing materials, (or even while listening to you speak):
  1. What can you DO for me, teach me or show me? How is what you know going to help me, entertain me or enlighten me?
  2. Is this information or story IMPORTANT to me? Your buyer is looking for a book they want to buy rather than the book you want them to buy. Of course you are in love with your book, but if your book is of no value to your buyer or reader, who will care?
  3. Is the information contained in the book NEW to me or MORE than I've gotten in the past? Whether people own up to it or not, everybody wants more, everybody wants new.  It's not rude for a person to want more -- it's just human nature. 
  4. Is the information BETTER than I've had in the past? Book buyers and readers alike are very likely to have many books on your subject or genre. Does your book offer something better? ("Better" is subjective in fiction, but quite objective in non-fiction.)  Most readers simply want one nugget that will inspire them -- is there something in your book that sets it apart from the others in the same category? 
  5. Is the information TIMELY? It's true that time is money. It's just a fact. One of the best reasons to independently publish is that you can get a book into the marketplace in a timely fashion. (Do not skip the editing process to get your book out fast - remember quality is important!)
  6. Does the book provide VALUE for the price? There is a point at which the cost is too high for the value a reader gets from it, and in turn, there is also a point at which the price is so low that the customer doesn't believe it is valuable. 
Taking the time to understand what your customers want from you will ensure the money that you spend on publishing your book is not wasted.  If you don't make the effort to consider what customers want from you, why should they go to the expense of purchasing your book? 

Friday, May 6, 2011


Continuing with the in-depth examination of the W-A-K-E U-P Marketing Strategy using psychographics

E = Examine

There are two definitions for the word Examine: #1 is to "Inspect (someone or something) in detail to determine their nature or condition; investigate thoroughly," and #2 is to "Test the knowledge or proficiency of (someone) by requiring them to answer questions or perform tasks." This is the time in your marketing planning that you need to do both.

In this step of your WAKE UP Marketing Strategy, it's time for you to really dig in and inspect the information you have before you, and test its validity. Listen to voices other than your own. Will the knowledge you gained in the previous step really hold up in the marketplace and enable you to get your book in front of your primary (and secondary) audiences with a message that compels them to purchase it or read it?

Examine your facts closely and determine the actual words your target customer finds relevant and persuasive. Uncover the tone of voice used in the messages that have influenced your audience. Remember, your Watch Group told us how they purchase and what they like –  but WHY do these messages break through the clutter of your audience's internal and external noise?
  • Is it the creative? (The overall idea, concept, look or format of the piece)
  • Is it the timing of its arrival?
  • Is it the offer?
  • Is it the clever copy?
Truth is, it's a mix, with each of these items ranking in different order for different audiences at different times.

Examine what you have learned, inspect for any irregularities as well as any harmonies, test everything thoroughly. Look for timing opportunities, offers, lingo, geographic differences, etc.

Once you have thoroughly examined what you know about your primary audiences and your messages, it's time to prove your understanding of these audiences and their needs by applying what you have learned and creating messages and campaigns that will persuade those audiences.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Continuing with the in-depth examination of the W-A-K-E U-P Marketing Strategy using psychographics  (This post has been repaired.)

K = Know

Know what your final objective is before you move further. That objective is not to prove that you think you know who your customers are and how they buy or consume things, but to use the new facts and information you just gathered from your Watch Group so you actually know how your target audience thinks and behaves, based on the information they shared with you. Good marketing strategy doesn't always go with your gut instinct – and now that you have asked your Watch Group, you actually know the answers to important characteristics, interests, values and beliefs of those you need to target...Really use and internalize this information so you know who you are marketing to and how to reach them through the noise. Use your data to know who these groups are and how to find them and communicate with them.

Here's what you need to know:

End User vs. Customer / Buyers vs. Readers / Primary vs. Secondary Customers 

Wow, is it hard to know who to target in book marketing! Let's distinguish some terms from one another:
End User = Reader = The one who actually commits to consuming (i.e. reading) the book
Customer = Buyer = The one who actually commits to the purchase of your book
Primary audience = In some industries, this is the actual buyer, but in book marketing, primary audience is the person specifically compelled to consume OR purchase the book by the topic could be the reader OR the buyer, depending on your book. The book industry resembles the jewelry industry in a lot of ways, in that the marketing is targeted to the buyer differently than it is marketed to the end user. Pay close attention to the Mother's Day ads for jewelry to see this distinct difference in messaging.
Secondary audience = A customer that is outside of the regular scope of your book, but one who is attracted to the content or product for some other reason. (Sidebar example: We did a memoir about the life of a land developer and her family. It's a very interesting web of murder, innovation, thievery, brilliance, love, hate, family, solitude, riches, hardship, deceit and loyalty. However, in our WAKE UP research, we found a larger secondary audience of those who were interested in the development of the cities in which this family played a huge part.) *

Since you are a publisher/author, you have another tier of buyers that buy for a different reason. Of course I'm talking about distributors, wholesalers, retailers, rep groups, rights agents. I'll handle this in a different post later.

Now you know; next, examine the audiences and your messages and how they fit together to accomplish your goals.

*If you are interested in this book, click here Schepp Family Chronicles, and it is also available through Amazon, or Smashwords.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Continuing on with the in-depth examination of the W-A-K-E U-P Marketing Strategy

A = Ask

Once you find a Watch Group that agrees to share their opinions, ask them how they get their information about, in this case, parenting and childcare issues. (Remember our example book is a work-life balance book for parents.) Go so far as to ask them to show you what they read (and tell you why), what other things they like to do, what kinds of online activities catch their attention, etc. Ask them where and how they purchase things for their family -- and WHO BUYS versus WHO USES goods and services in their circle of influence.

Ask them pointed questions about how they like to gather information. Don't ask "yes or no" questions -- ask things that require a short answer. You are more likely to get valuable information that way.

Dig Deeper

Don't let your Watch Group members generalize. For example, when you ask where they gather information and a Watch Group member says "TV" or "Junk Mail", ask for more information. What TV shows? What channels? When do they watch? Do they use DVRs? For direct mail, ask them to save any and all junk mail for you for 2-3 months (in a sack). Ask them which ones caught their eye and enticed them to actually read the piece. Ask them what type of mail would probably lead to a purchase, which ones would normally get tossed without a moment's thought, and which ones get put aside for another day. Send them a shipping label and ask them to ship their direct mail pieces to you for further examination. (Some people want to black-out their name, and that's okay. It isn't necessary to ask them to do that, though.)

Ask your Watch Group how they most like to be communicated with. Do they like workshops? Which ones? Do they read mail? Do they participate in groups online? Which ones? Do they use Facebook for information? Are they otherwise connected online? Do they read blogs? Which ones? Do they read magazines? Which ones? Do they go to trade or consumer shows? Which ones? At what types of retail outlets, both online or in-store, do they shop? Which ones?

Ask, and you will know (which happens to be tomorrow's post)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Watch for Your Readers and Buyers - Build a Watch Group (Advisory Board)

Continuing on with the in-depth examination of the W-A-K-E  U-P Marketing Strategy

W = Watch

In the "Watch" phase, you are looking at the whole universe of prospective customers to examine further. (Remember, our example book in this series of posts is a work life balance book for parents). Here you are doing a parenting book about work life balance, probably for people with children, grandparents, and caregivers...but perhaps your book would be one that parenting groups, doctors, daycares, or family therapists might find useful. In the case of this example book, we might want to watch for human resource departments at companies as well, because of the topic. Who among these groups is our customer, and in which part of their life are they a customer? (i.e., you might have an HR person who is not a parent -- they would never see your marketing if you only marketed to parents in their homes.) All of these various groups become your "Watch Group," which by the way, I build simply and inexpensively on Facebook (when possible).

Hint:  "Everybody" is not a Watch Group.  If you have identified "Everybody" as your audience... well, it's not an audience and you can not begin to market to "Everybody."  Do YOU buy "Everybody" else's books?

One way to build a valid Watch Group that can provide you with valuable information about how to reach others like them, is to use the search feature on Facebook. Ask group leaders and popular fan page owners to help you post a notice to invite people to be in your group. Once you build the group with a few people, expand it by asking those people if they know others who might want to be on the Watch Group (Advisory Board). 

Once you have built a group of 10 or 12 people, set some rules -- for example, no bashing or name calling, no opinions about others' ideas. Just sharing where they get their information. Most people will be very forthright, but be advised, some people just like to hear themselves talk and will get all over others. Don't let that go -- stop it as soon as it starts.

Next up:  A = "Ask"