Friday, September 7, 2012

The Four "P"s of Book Marketing, (and then some...)

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a presentation where the speaker asked the group of small business owners: "What are the four Ps of marketing?" As usually happens when a crowd is asked a question, no hands went up. So the speaker pushed again. "What are the four Ps of marketing?" A young woman timidly raised her hand and said "uh, product, presentation, uh, ummmm, people and persistence?"  To that the speaker said "No. Anyone else wanna try?"  I watched as another victim raised his hand and said "Product, profit, packaging and plan."

Again, the speaker said "Uh. No. Anyone else?" Finally, someone gave him the answer he wanted, "Product, place, price and promotion." However, he was wrong to even hint that the other words are not important to marketing. I believe there are a dozen critical words in marketing (for books in particular). We'll start with the ones most people are familiar with, and then move to the others in the next post.

Product: Does your book fill a need? Does it look like it fits in the category? Is it high quality? Is it in the proper format? Are you buying the manufacturing at the right place?

Place: This term is often replaced with the word "Position", but I'm keeping those separate -- you'll see why later. In my world, place means distribution. Is your book where people can find it when they are ready to plunk down the $20? Can you make money in the distribution outlets you have selected?

Price: Does your book reflect what the market will bear for this type of book? Have you done your research to see if there is a correlation between price and sales? Have you considered your costs? If you are using any type of collaborative publisher, don't let them push you into a price that is too high for the market. Be realistic and do your due diligence.

Promotion: Ah, this is where most people focus their time, energy and financial resources. This is advertising -- this is something you should be able to measure and quantify, and everyone thinks they can, but it's only part of the mix. This is getting your name out there. If you think you are ready to publish and you have not begun promoting your book, start today. (If you are still reading this...go now. Start NOW.)

Next post will cover some other Ps:  
Position, people, persistence, patience, presentation, profit, plan and publicity.  

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Metro Author Series for Fall - Ready for Registrations!

Register NOW for Fall 2012 Author Series 

To register online, go to WebAdvisor.
To register by phone, call 402-457-5231 or 800-228-9553
ONLINE COURSE INFORMATION - After registering for your online course, please complete the required Online Orientation at
To be placed on a wait list call 402-457-5231
Term: Fall 2012
Cost: $29 per session (senior discount available)

How to Write Your Book (COMM_005N)
September 29, 2012, 9-noon, Sarpy Campus
Admit it: You' ve always wanted to write a book. So what s stopping you? Publishing experts Sandra Wendel and Lisa Pelto will help you find time, focus your thoughts, outline your ideas, put words on paper,and get into print. It s easier (and less scary) than you think. Ideal for memoirs, nonfiction, and children s book authors. The class How to Publish Your Book ideally follows this one.

How to Publish Your Book (COMM_525N)
October 20, 2012, 9-noon, Sarpy Campus
Publishing your book is easier than you think with small-run digital printing, ebooks, and independent publishing as a small business. Gone are the days of query letters and agents. Make your book dream a reality. Book publisher/marketer Lisa Pelto and writer/editor Sandra Wendel will take you step-by-step through the many options and costs. For writers of all types of books, including fiction, printed books, ebooks. If you haven' t put words on paper yet, consider attending the class How to Write Your Book first (not required).

How to Market Your Book (COMM_530N)
November 10, 2012, 9-noon, Sarpy Campus
Learn the most effective strategies for marketing your book from publishing experts Lisa Pelto and Sandra Wendel. Whether you are traditionally published or independently publishing an ebook (digital) or printed book, you must take the lead to create a knock-em-dead book campaign. To be successful, you'll wear the hats of marketing director, publicist, event coordinator, speaker's bureau, and advertising coordinator. Learn what goes into a winning press release, how to pitch to the media, market your book to the trade and directly to consumers, and how to develop an effective and coordinated online presence that includes the power of social media. In addition, you will craft an effective marketing message and your elevator speech, along with receiving a tutorial on the online options. 

You will receive the greatest benefit by taking these classes in sequence; How to Write Your Book, How to Publish Your Book, and How to Market Your Book, but this is not required.

Join us!  It's a fun series -- and every quarter is different because we cater the class to the attendees.  

Note:  The How to E-publish Your Book, Class 050N-70 is not connected to this series and is taught by a different person, however
we cover all of this material and help you decide if epublishing is right for your book.

What did you have for lunch...every day last year?

Ridiculous question, right? Unless you had the exact same thing each day for lunch in the last 365 days, you probably would have a lot of trouble answering this question.  If you wrote it down, you would be able to do it, no problem.

Yet many authors don't write down who helped them, and then end up forgetting about people who contributed. You don't want to put "And for those of you who helped and are not mentioned, you know who you are" in your book.  How lame is that?

As you are working on your book, write down the names and contact information of the people and organizations that have helped you along the way.  All of them, no matter how small the contribution seems at the time. Don't expect to remember everyone you will want to thank later in your acknowledgments -- and you should acknowledge each person that helped you.  

Everyone likes to be recognized for making a contribution to something with permanence.  Also, if you need to follow up on something later, you'll know who to contact.  Finally, most of those in your acknowledgments will be your little marching marketing army because they are in a book! 

Now, back to work!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Warning: More Sharks are Fishing the Waters

Penguin's recent acquisition of Author Solutions is barely an indication of what is beneath the surface. For a traditional publisher as large as Penguin to add themselves to the mix of "self" publishing brings an annoying new challenge to those independent authors who have chosen to truly self publish. I'm talking about those true self publishers who hire and pay experts to provide services to get them up and running. I'm talking about those true self publishers who have their own distribution and marketing operations, and those who can't get a media person to look their way because the media are so busy selling their own titles on their own shows. (How freaking hard is it to get airtime for your book when it is your own freaking show?)

Penguin: Don't even try to continue to apply the term "self publishing" to the services provided by the companies you just acquired, because it gives the industry a bad name. They hijacked the term and we want it back.

Authors:  So many hooks are dropping in the waters around you -- many have sharks on the other end of the line. Their revenue comes from you, not consumer sales of your books. Understand what you are signing before you enter into any contracts with businesses that use the term "Self Publishing company" if their own logo goes on the back or if your book will be in their own distribution account. Don't be fooled when they tell you "You own the copyright to your book" because you own it anyway. What you don't usually own with these companies are the layout of the interior and the cover they did; nor do you usually own the publishing rights for that book, and you may not own any subsequent formats for that book (like ebooks). Please know what all the terms really mean and don't get caught up in their nets even if they dangle big publishing promises on their hooks (as was indicated in the press release).

Monday, April 30, 2012

Ethics, Integrity and an Honest Day's Work

I recently joined the Business Ethics Alliance (BEA) founded here in Omaha. It's an amazing amalgamation of industries, business models, diversity, and energy. It's a thought-provoking exercise just milling through their printed materials, so I'm looking forward to their workshops, too.

A headline jumps out today in one of their pieces of literature:

What is our "Ethical Legacy?"  
Now that's a question for us all.  The answer lies in our Core Business Values as business leaders and members of a community. The pamphlet silently instructs what "Ethical Legacy" means and it begs us to figure out what our core business values are and when/where they apply in our lives. The organization has formed The Ethical Legacy Project, whose goal is to identify, articulate and communicate core values of the Omaha business community. Sounds pretty good.

For me, the relative importance of the task I am completing at any given moment put the values in slightly different places on the scale, but it certainly is good to have a strong base of equally important compasses. Whether I am estimating a job, ordering supplies for a client, creating a marketing plan, reporting the results of a campaign, inspecting delivered materials, entering an award contest or sending out a press release, I strive to remember and adhere to these values, which I have adapted for my company from the Legacy Project:

  • Accountability: Hold myself and others answerable; communicate expectations, provide feedback and ask for and implement fair corrective actions when appropriate.
  • Community Responsibility: Realize that my actions and the actions of my company carry a responsibility not just to me, but to my employees and vendors, clients and their customers, their families, my neighborhood, my different "communities," and my organization.
  • Financial Vitality: Strive to achieve sustainable financial success, driven by ethical management and systems. When the systems don't work, strive to improve them.
  • Integrity: Be genuinely respectful, honest, fair and trustworthy in all and to all. Do the ethical thing even when no one is looking. Hold others to the same standard of integrity and do business with others who share your values.
  • Moral Courage: Behave consistently, even when it is difficult, unpopular and comes at a cost. Don't look the other way when someone shows poor judgment or character against their community.

It's a good start for a Monday.

If you haven't heard of this organization, you should look them up:

Friday, April 27, 2012

Don't Buy a Pet Fish and Expect it to Act Like a Dog

Chew on This...

The publishing industry changes pretty much on a daily basis. The opportunities for independent authors have never been greater, and the barriers to entry have virtually disappeared. It's just not that hard to publish a book these days -- however, if you plan on being successful, you have to think of it as a business. The good news is that it's easy to get your book out there; the bad news is that a lot of poorly conceived, poorly funded, and poorly edited books also make their way "out there" in droves. The really good news here is that there are people to help you understand the business and your options and what you are getting into. (Hey, btw, we can help you with all that stuff!)  Do your research (check behind their ears, look at their teeth, do a sniff test on Google).

Lots of Publishing Species From Which to Choose...
The new terms in publishing are coming fast and hard, and it's important to understand what they mean to you. I'm not going to give you a glossary of terms here, but suffice it to say, you need to understand the pros and cons of each publishing option.  Don't sign anything until you really, really understand what everything means. Several publishing options are explained and expanded upon throughout this blog.

Who Let the Dogs Out?
Once you choose your publishing breed, don't change your mind and decide it should be doing something instead because some friend told you "You should do ______." Unless they are truly an expert, this is bad advice 99% of the time. Use the best features available from the method you choose and don't expect your method to do new tricks for which it is not set up.

Every day, I hear people who have chosen to publish through a print-on-demand company wonder why their book is not on the shelves of the bookstore. It can be a wise choice for many authors, but knowing your realistic objectives will be your guide. Without clear-cut, realistic, educated objectives, you could be caught chasing your tail.
On the other hand, every month, I meet at least one author who published their book with the fabulous intention of selling it in the back of the room after a speaking engagement. Good plan. A few weeks into the book's life, a friend walks up to the author and says "I went to the bookstore and they said they don't have the book. I want to buy it there." Of course the unspoken message the author hears is "What, isn't your book good enough for bookstores to carry it?" I tell those authors to say "No, bookstores aren't right for my book; however, I take cash, checks and all major credit cards. I'll run out to the car and get you one. I'll even sign it for you!" 

The Tail End of It All...
Making your book available through as many options as possible certainly helps your customer make the decision to purchase your book. Don't buy into claims that your book will be on the shelves of every bookstore, because it won't. (And you don't want it there!) Being available to order at those places is good, however! There are 100,000 books in a pretty big bookstore these days. There are a million new books published each year, and some 30,000,000 titles currently in print, maybe bazillions more. Those aren't very good odds. My final thought is to help you remember that bookstores aren't your target end consumer -- readers are!

Know your plan and stick with it for success!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Publishing is Marketing 401

What's Your Marketing Perspective?

From a marketing standpoint, how a business is "oriented" sets the course for how they run their whole operation. Not only is it one of the most definitive marketing opportunities of virtually any industry, the publishing business has had a very defined evolution. Companies and their owners have philosophies, and those philosophies are in general categories of orientation: Product, Production, Customer/Market, or Sales. We are going to talk about the first three, and each term is linked to an expanded definition from another source on the web.

Product Orientation - (The product itself is the focus of the business) Simply put, in traditional publishing, the author hands over 100% of the editorial and creative control to the publisher (because they are spending the money). The publisher says to the author "Rewrite this or that. Here's your cover, ain't it grand. Oh, and here's how we are positioning your book. Have a nice day Mr. Author." Then he moves on to say to the consumer, "Here's this book. Buy it like this."

Production Orientation - (The way it is produced is primary focus) Along came the POD/Subsidy/Vanity and "so called" self-publishing companies (iUniverse, AuthorHouse, Xlibris, and the like), and the tables were turned. The editorial and creative control for publishing a book went right into the author's grasp...only problem is, the author doesn't often know what they are doing and more often doesn't want to spend the money to hire professionals. Author says to "publisher": "Print my book and put it on your wholesale listings." And then moves on to say to the consumer, "Hey I wrote a book. Buy it like this."

Customer Orientation - (Finally, the consumer enters the mix, and the market drives products by demanding high quality, pricing control, availability, formatting and even creative -- by voting with their credit card.) Now, in the most exciting time ever for publishers and readers alike, the consumer says "I want to read a good book, with a good story line that has been thoughtfully edited, and creatively packaged and is available in the formats I want to read it. I want this book as a Kindle, this book for my iPad, that book as a paperback, that book as a PDF, and so on. Don't have those formats, Mr. Author? I'll move on to another book, thank you."  
It's your time. It's the reader's time. Go on. Write your dream!

Monday, February 6, 2012

You are NOT saving the economy by buying that...

If something is not right for you, learn how to say "No thank you." and mean it.

I dislike salespeople that sell, sell, sell, sell, sell.  How about solving a problem I might have.  I've learned that there are few things in life that a salesperson cannot overstate. Everything is always "The Best", "The Strongest", "Most User-Friendly".

In college marketing classes, they call that "Puffery"; in my office, I call it "Blah, Blah, Blah."

Personally, the more superlatives, adjectives and other fancy language a salesperson uses on me, the less I believe him. I'm cynical and skeptical, it's true; but it's only because I've been bitten here (and there) in my career. So how do I make sure I'm not being duped or oversold? I question. I object. I suspect... But more actively and objectively, I test.

Salespeople beware.  There is a new consumer out there that cares what they buy, from whom they buy it, and what "its" impact is on the world.  Make sure you are solving a problem, rather than just trying to make a buck.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Don't Let the Ship Hit the Fan...

Shipping materials need love too...

When we are doing ANY shipping on ANY book, we test the packaging that we want to use with that book. 

Is it... (Not what the manufacturer says, but what it actually is.)

Durable?  We'll throw it off a couple of buildings and drive over it ourselves, thank you.  Lightweight?  We'll weigh that out ourselves with all the parts.  Ecofriendly?  Specifications please!

Bottom line...

Yes, it does impact your bottom line.  Make sure your books arrive to your customer's doorstep in good shape and looking professional.  And make sure your shipping materials aren't adding more to the cost of your shipping than you are collecting for shipping.  Remember, you may have to pay for an extra pound of shipping for even a fraction of an ounce. 

It matters.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Dating (in Publishing, that is)

Clients often wonder why we want to wait to release their book. It's sitting there all ready to go, and yet we insist on waiting.  "UGH!" they say -- "But people are already in line outside the bookstores waiting for it to go on sale!" 
Self publishers and independent authors are often caught in the trap of their own false impressions of how a book is published. Take the time to publicize your book properly.  You'll need a minimum of four months to get a review from a professional reviewer, or a possible feature in a magazine or any other type of publicity. 

There are several dates you need to know
  • Advance Review Deadline:  4 months ahead of your Publication Date
  • Street Date:  When you have actual books in hand and you can sell them privately
  • Pub Date/Publication Date/Release Date: The date when the industry can start selling you book
Another important date
Copyright Date:  The date when you officially send your book to the Library of Congress.  Make sure you are not sending it ahead of having your book published.  Libraries and other buyers look at that date to determine the book's age.  So if you finished writing your book in December of 2011, finished your editing and layout in June, and set your publication date for November 2012 -- you would set your copyright year as 2013 and NOT 2011.  Why?  Buyers look at the book's copyright year when deciding one title over another.  In January of 2013 with a copyright year of 2011, your book would appear two years old if you set your copyright as the date you finished writing.