Saturday, June 30, 2007

Don't Bow Down to

When readers visit your website to buy a book, do you send them to Amazon? If so, you could be making a huge mistake. Why? Sending customers to Amazon is the marketing equivalent of idolatry and ineffectiveness. Now, before you whine about convenience or the importance of a high sales ranking, let me give you the big picture:

1. Amazon steals your contacts
Amazon loves it when you send book-buying customers to them, because they get the most important piece of business data possible – contact information! That’s right. Amazon is more concerned about getting your customer’s email and mailing address than selling your book. Why does it matter? Because, the best way to grow a business (and your writing career) is to develop a database of highly-interested customers.

People who visit your website to buy books are like marketing gold. Customers who buy one book are likely to buy another book or know someone who will. Therefore, you want to stay in touch with these people through your newsletters and promotional activities. Odds are in your favor that they’ll buy again. However, if you send customers to Amazon, then you lose the chance to build a relationship with these important people. Meanwhile, Amazon laughs all the way to the bank. How do you think they grew so fast?

If you’re still not convinced, consider this. Publishers love authors who build a personal database with thousands of targeted contacts, because it means easier marketing for your next book. Show your publisher a large, legitimate database, and they’re more likely to show you large advances and bigger marketing budgets. Are you with me?

2. Amazon steals your profits
If you send a customer from your website to buy your $12 book at Amazon, you’ll be lucky if you make $1.50 in profit – regardless of whether you use Amazon’s Advantage or Affiliate programs. However, if you sell a $12 book from your own website, you can usually make at least $6.00 in profit. That’s a big difference!

Look at this way…for every 100 books you sell yourself, you make $600 in profit (not just revenue). That’s enough money to buy a new computer, new clothes, or go on a relaxing weekend vacation.

Now, don’t give me that nonsense about, “I don’t care about money…I just write as a ministry unto the Lord.” If you really write as a ministry, then you should be the best possible steward of your God-given talents. So, ask yourself, “Would God prefer me to mindlessly give away money to a secular corporate giant (Amazon), or use that money to help feed my family or feed orphans in Africa?

3. Amazon steals your marketing effectiveness
Let’s assume your new book is about to launch. You’re doing a big marketing campaign with email newsletters, blog tours, and media interviews. Let’s also assume that your marketing is awesome. People read your e-newsletters, surf the blogs, and watch you on TV. Enamored by you, they come running to your website. But, when they're ready to buy your book, you redirect them to Amazon.

A month later, you start wondering if your marketing campaign was effective. Guess what? You’ll never know, because Amazon is holding all of your data. Sure, you can check your website hits and your faulty Amazon ranking, but all that really matters is the actual sales data. Yet, you don’t have that important information, because you gave it away to Amazon. They know who bought your book, but you don’t - isn't that weird?

So, what’s the marketing moral of the story? Stop sending customers to Amazon, and start selling books from your website. How do you do that, you ask? Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Marketing Mistakes Authors and Speakers Make

What?! You haven't been to my website yet and read my free article, "Marketing Mistakes Authors and Speakers Make." Click here to access this required reading.

Are you avoiding these mistakes? What other mistakes have you experienced or seen authors and speakers make?

Feel free to post your comments.

Don't Charge Less to Speak Locally

Lately, I’ve seen some speakers who advertise a lower speaking fee for engagements in their local area. Yet, they charge their normal speaking rate for out-of-town events, plus all travel expenses (usually for two people).

Frankly, this doesn’t make sense. Because if you’re staying local, then the host organization doesn’t have to pay extra expenses associated with your travel. So, you’ve already saved them a lot of money. Why give away the farm by lowering your speaking fee? Instead, charge the same amount to speak, regardless of whether you’re leaving town or staying local. It also prevents crticism from organizations who talk to each other and find out that you charge varying rates for the same service.

Get Better Before You Get Bigger

"Get better before you get bigger" - I recently heard this axiom from Lysa TerKeurst, President of Proverbs 31 Ministries. Lysa is an accomplished A-level speaker and oversees their annual SheSpeaks Conference, which I highly recommend for women in ministry. She told me how they encourage women to focus on improving their message and delivery, before they worry about how big their audiences are.

This is good advice to consider. What are you doing to improve your skills as a speaker and writer? Are you sitting around pouting about small engagements or low book sales? Or, are you honing your craft by reading instructional books, meeting with critique groups, or attending a speakers or writers workshop?

There are two aspects to getting a bigger platform: effective marketing (that’s where I come in) and creating a better message. Believe me, it’s hard to get good word-of-mouth if you're a lousy communicator. In contrast, the better your message gets, the easier it is for others to tell their friends about you. Check out the list below for resources to help you get better.

Writer’s Conferences and Critique Groups:

Speaking Conferences and Workshops:

Now, get out there and get better!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Meet Me at ICRS

For those who are attending the ICRS Convention in Atlanta on July 8 - 12th, here's my schedule as of now:

AWSA Golden Scroll Banquet - Sunday, July 8th, 1 - 3pm
For more information, visit:

Harvest House Author Dinner - Sunday evening (private function)

CLASS Marketing Workshop - Tuesday, July 10th, 2 - 3:30pm, Room B406
Open to CLASS grads. I'll be giving tips and insight to help you generate more speaking engagements.

I'm available for individual appointments before and after these events. If you'd like to get together, contact me at 1-800-267-2045 or email:

How to Determine Your Speaking Fees

Recently, I was talking with Gerry Wakeland, the Managing Director of CLASServices. CLASS has helped over 7,500 men and women improve their speaking and writing skills ( Gerry mentioned a practical way to determine if you are an A, B, or C speaker, and the fees associated with each level.

C = Beginner: This is a speaker with little experience who mainly addresses audiences in their local area (and has not spoken outside of their state). Fees received range from $0 to $750 for a single presentation to a weekend retreat. Beginning speakers are either not published yet or self-published.

B = Intermediate: Speakers at this level usually have at least one published book and have built a regional (multi-state) following beyond their local area. Fees received range from $750 to $2,500 for a single presentation to a weekend conference.

A = Advanced: Speakers at this level usually have several published books and a solid national following. Their name alone can draw an audience, and their speaking calendar is usually booked over a year in advance. Advanced speakers also generate a lot of repeat bookings. Fees received start at $2,500 for a single presentation and can reach five-figure amounts.
(If you speak in the secular or corporate world, fees in the $5,000 - 10,000 range are considered normal!)

Use the explanation above to see if you’ve appropriately set your speaking fees. And, ignore conventional wisdom that says to raise your fees only when your event calendar fills up. By then, it’s usually too late. Instead, raise your fees when you bring more benefits to the table.

Do you feel like your fees are too low? Do you struggle to add benefits or negotiate proper fees for yourself? Give me a call at 1-800-267-2045 or email: I’d be glad to help.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Out of Sight...Out of Mind

When was the last time you contacted your entire customer base? If you’re an author or speaker, your customers are your readers, listeners, event planners, church leaders, etc. It only takes six months for most people in this group to forget that you exist and search for someone else to help them. You cannot reach your full potential if you don’t stay in regular communication with your audience. Regardless of your field, there are several ways to keep people focused on you. Check out these helpful strategies:

Regular Newsletters – Junk email floods the average Inbox, so print newsletters tend to be more effective. Use both print and email to extend your reach. Keep articles brief and make the content 75% audience-focused and 25% sales-focused. Quote other sources if you need new ideas. Send your newsletters at least once a quarter, if not monthly.

Personal Contact – Trust is best built through relationships. Take time to reach key contacts and prospects with a phone call, email, or hand-signed letter. Get out of the office and invite people to meet you for lunch or coffee. Monitor their ministry sphere and become a source of information. Don’t focus on selling people, concentrate on understanding their life and needs. They’ll be more inclined to book you if they feel like you care.

Send Items of Value – People respond when you give them something of value. For example, offer coupons on a regular basis. Send a thank-you gift after an event to meeting planners. Mail an interesting book or article to prospects. Organize a contest and encourage your audience to participate. It doesn’t need to be expensive, just recurring.

Trade Show Meetings – If you know where your audience congregates, meet them there. Host a get-together, sponsor an event, teach a workshop, or network with the attendees. Face-to-face time is the best way to stay connected with customers.

Ask for Help – Solicit genuine support from your audience by asking for their opinion on your message. Create surveys, polls, or request reviews of your products. Ask a select group to give input into an article or book you’re writing. Create ways to make it comfortable for your audience to exchange information. Doing so builds a stronger bond.

You risk little to over-communicate, but you risk a lot if you under-communicate. If you’re an author or speaker, absence does not make the heart grow fonder. Stay in contact with your audience, and you’ll stay on their mind – especially when they’re ready to book you or buy your products.