Thursday, December 18, 2008

Good Sources of Publishing Industry News

Publisher downsizing...acquistion freezes...layoffs...new technology...bestseller lists...with all of the crazy things going on in the publishing industry these days, it's important for authors to stay in touch with the latest industry news.

Here's a list of blogs and newsletters that I recommend:

Publisher's Weekly - Daily Enewsletter

Christian Retailing E-News

Chip MacGregor - Literary Agent Blog

Alan Rinzler - Consultant Editor Blog

Michael Hyatt - President of Thomas Nelson Blog

Joe Wikert - Publishing 20/20 Blog

These are just a few of the great sources of information that give authors insight into the publishing world. Do you have a great source of publishing info? Leave a comment with your suggestions.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Success Story from The Writing Spa

Are you a first-time author struggling to finish your mansucript? Or, an established writer who's hit a creative wall? I continue to hear good things about Mary DeMuth and her new service called The Writing Spa. Mary is an experienced author of five books with four more on the way. And, she writes both fiction and non-fiction, so she has the insights to help any kind of author.

Here's a recent success story from a happy client:
“Mary DeMuth is one of the most perceptive, insightful writing coaches I’ve had the honor to work with. She gets into your heart and mind and actually feels the story. She then responds with questions to help you passionately paint the picture from your heart to the reader—a rare talent indeed. Mary is tough, but she builds you up and challenges you to be the writer God designed you to be. If you’re looking for an excellent return on your investment, I encourage you to work with Mary DeMuth.”
Jan Coates, author of Set Free

If your manuscript could use a makeover, check out The Writing Spa.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Monthly Marketing To-Do List for Authors

A common fear that I find with authors is concern over what marketing activities to do on a regular basis. This anxiety hits everyone, from beginner to bestseller and fiction to non-fiction. Either information overload sends authors in all directions, or analysis-paralysis shuts down their marketing efforts altogether.

Sure, there are thousands of ways to promote your books. But, trying everything won't necessarily make you successful. Usually, you're better off sticking with a consistent plan that keeps you focused on the right priorities. So, for the betterment of worldwide author sanity, I've created the following monthly book marketing checklist. This list is in addition to any weekly activities you may engage, such as blogging or participation in social networks.

1. Create a Free Resource
Every month, you should take time to create at least one free resource of value for your target audience. Your resource doesn't have to be extravagant. The important distinction is that provides real benefit to your readers. Good examples include brief helpful articles, resource listings, teaching videos, booklets, study guides, humor compilations, short stories, travel guides, etc.

Occasionally, I hear authors complain about taking time out every month to create a new resource. But, if you want to be a professional, then you must invest in the growth of your career. Creating a free resource every 30 days is the least you can do to connect with your book buyers.

2. Send Out a Newsletter
Current marketing research reveals that the average American receives over 3,500 buying impressions per day. Since our finite brains can't contain all this information, we easily forget about products and services. So, if you want people to remember your book, you must remind them that you exist. Sending out a newsletter via print or email newsletter is one of the most effective, yet overlooked, tools available.

Unfortunately, many authors shoot themselves in the foot by sending self-focused, rambling newsletters that never benefit the reader. So, I recommend making at least 75% of your content helpful to the reader, and the other 25% used for promotional text.
Click here for a list of seven key elements every author newsletter needs to include. And, don't forget that newsletters make a great vehicle to share the free resource we just discussed.

3. Look for Media Opportunities
At least once a month, ask yourself if there are any current headlines, trends, holidays, or stories that tie-in with your book's message, including fiction or non-fiction. Too many authors blow great opportunities for media coverage by failing to look for media connections.

I recommend creating a Media Calendar for your book that lists any possible tie-in for each month of the year. For example, if you write books on marriage, you know that Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, and Father's Day will open regular doors to get media coverage. Know this ahead of time and send a press release to radio, newspaper, and TV producers. If you write fiction stories for children, then back-to-school, Christmas, or summer break periods may provide natural ways to get more exposure. In addition, don't forget to monitor the headlines, and offer yourself as an expert to comment on national stories.

4. Update Your Website
Nothing says "forgotten author like a static website that never changes. Your website is your most important marketing tool. Don't let it sit there and gather dust. Keep it fresh by updating your Home, Latest News, and Free Resource pages every month.

You can add new items as free resources discussed earlier. Plus, update your latest news and events calendar with upcoming media or speaking engagements. List new products in your website store. Post a recent testimonial from a leader or book review from a fan. There's usually more happening with your message than you may think. Pay attention to your activity and keep people updated.

5. Pursue Speaking Engagements
The best way to sell books and grow your author platform is to get out and speak. No other marketing activity lets you simultaneously connect emotionally with readers, generate word-of-mouth, and sell books on the spot. So, increasing your speaking opportunities needs to be a priority.

To get more bookings, devote some monthly time to these three activities. First, research who and where the leaders are that could book you. Build a leader database, and find out which conferences they attend. Second, send leaders your helpful print newsletter (not email, or it's spam), and visit key conferences for networking opportunities. Third, ask leaders you already know for referrals and testimonials that will draw other leaders to you. Conducting these three steps each month should help open new doors.

Reduce your fear of book marketing by enacting this monthly plan. This isn't the exhaustive list, but it's a good foundation to build upon. Don't worry, writing success isn't based on some mysterious lottery system. Instead, you will sell more books when you regularly remind readers your message is valuable.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

December Amazon Comparison of CBA Publishers

WildFire Marketing has released the December 3rd Amazon rankings for the Top 15 CBA Publishers. This research let viewers see both the overall CBA industry rankings, plus each publisher's individual top 20 bestselling book list.

Why is this information helpful to you? This is one of the few ways that authors, agents, and publishers can simultaneously see how a publisher's best books stack up against their peers. For example, Neilsen BookScan doesn't let other publishers see the competition's sales numbers (only bestseller lists). But, WildFire's free research gives publishers a way to see which titles are selling well on Amazon at 14 other houses. This data is also helpful to see which authors, topics, and genres are dominating Amazon sales trends. For instance, this month included many new titles that focused on Christmas themes.

Items of Interest this Month:
1. Top-Selling Overall CBA Title:
"Multiple Blessings" from Zondervan took the top spot with an Amazon ranking of #10. This new release continues to capitalize on the popular TV show, "Jon & Kate plus 8."

2. Biggest Publisher Moves:

a. Charisma House debuts on the list at #14.
b. B&H dropped from #8 last month to #13 this month.

3. Zondervan e-Book Outperforms Print Version:
Since October, the e-book version of "Jesus Wants to Save Christians" by Rob Bell has consistently held a higher Amazon ranking than the print version. This marks an interesting point in the industry as book formats and buyer preferences continue to transform.


Note: Amazon rankings do not reflect accurate sales figures and only account for a small percentage of a book's total sales. However, they can help determine how specific publishers or book titles perform over time versue their peers.

Click here for an Excel spreadsheet of the December 3, 2008 rankings.

If you missed the November 2nd rankings, click here.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Advanced Book Marketing for Authors

Okay, I'm not one who likes people promoting stuff on their blogs. As I tell my author clients, "It's more important to provide value to the reader, rather than promote your books."

However, I'm really excited about a new resource that I've just completed. It's an 8-disc audio CD set called, Advanced Book Marketing for Authors. If you're going to succeed as an author in today's dismal economy, then you've got to leave the beginner stuff behind and implement proven, advanced marketing techniques.

So, I've put together over 6 hours of top-level instruction to help you sell more books in 2009. My material was recorded live before a diverse group of authors at a recent writers conference. During this conference, these teaching sessions outsold all other resources by a margin of 6:1. Plus, most of the class sent thank-you notes afterwards telling how grateful they were to discover book marketing ideas that really work. Here's a sample of the topics covered:

Discs 1 & 2: How to Market for More Bookings
Discs 3 & 4: Write Newsletters that Get Results
Discs 5 & 6: Turn Media Interviews into Book Sales
Discs 7 & 8: Author Q&A: How to Set Speaking Fees, Build a Leader Database, Negotiating Tips, and much more...

Plus, Disc #1 include 10 bonus teaching resources, such as listener handouts, author website checklist, and samples of professional newsletters, press releases, and speaking contracts.

If you're skeptical, take a moment and listen to this short sample:










I know times may be tight right now. So, I've priced this teaching resource to fit any authors budget. The people who attended my teaching sessions paid over $1,000 to attend the writer's conference. But, I'm making the same instruction available on audio CD for only $125.00 - a huge bargain.

Even better, I'm offering a special promo price by December 31st of only $99.00. So, I hope you'll take advantage of this opportunity to improve your book sales in 2009.

To order Advanced Book Marketing for Authors, go to: www.StartaWildFire.com/store.html

"Rob Eagar mentored me for 6 months and really helped take my marketing, speaking, and branding to the next level. I can attest that I make much more money as a result of Rob's tutelage. Plus, I'm more strategic as I promote myself, my message, and my books."
Mary DeMuth
Author of Watching the Tree Limbs
2007 Christy Award Finalist

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Linore Rose Burkard - Fiction Marketing Diligence

Congrats to fiction client Linore Rose Burkard for going the extra marketing mile! In preparation for her upcoming novel, Before the Season Ends, WildFire taught Linore how to define her core audience. Then, she searched the Internet and located over 125 specific reader groups. Plus, she's creating a library of resources that positions her as a go-to expert in the "Jane Austen / Regency" genre.

This early research puts her in a great spot to connect with readers and build lasting fans as her book releases in December. Bravo to Linore for showing fiction authors the benefits of diligent preparation!

Monday, November 17, 2008

3 Ways Publishers can Maximize Marketing Budgets in a Tough Economy

As I write this article, the U.S. stock market dropped over 35% below its previous high and economic uncertainty rules the business world. Unemployment has increased, and discretionary spending is down. Those of us in the publishing industry face real concerns about meeting projections and growing book sales. Therefore, now is the time to consider every way possible to maximize every resource available.

Fortunately, there is still one area of untapped potential that offers publishers substantial opportunity at low cost. You can train your authors to handle more of the marketing efforts. Writers who become skilled at promoting books can produce thousands of dollars in extra profits for the publisher. Even better, these authors don’t require costly salaries, expensive office space, insurance packages, or retirement plans. Instead, the publisher just pays a small author royalty. Therefore, why not invest to train your writers how to sell as many books as possible? It’s a win-win, right?

The problem may lie in the perspective. I’ve heard some publishers worry that their authors are too apathetic or incompetent for the marketing task. Others complain about the lack of time or manpower to provide training. So, authors get pushed to the backburner, and publishers keep spending marketing money on costly tactics, such as print advertising, outside PR firms, and video book trailers.

Now, I’m not knocking print ads, PR firms, or trailers. They have their place in the industry. But, they happen to be three high-priced marketing methods that publishers use with questionable results. And, more of the same is not going to keep your business afloat in this tough economic climate.

After teaching over 100 authors at all levels, I’ve found that they possess a genuine desire to connect with readers and generate more book sales. Most authors know that their success relies on improving their marketing skills. But, most authors don’t know where to get the right help, nor do they have the personal finances to invest in themselves.

Here’s a solution to make your marketing budget work harder: Take a small percentage of money spent on expensive print ads or PR firms, and redirect those funds to train authors how to sell more books. Doing so allows you to simultaneously cut costs and create more writers marketing their frontlist and backlist titles. Below are three ways that educated authors could help publishers maximize their marketing budget:

Spend less on outside PR firms. Teach authors to get media interviews on their own.
Many publishers spend big money on outside PR firms. Fees can range from $1,500 - $5,000 per month per title! For an A-level author, this money may be worth spending to secure prestigious exposure. But, for the average author, publishers could save money by teaching authors how to partner with their in-house PR staff and get more media interviews on their own. And, since the average book launch only lasts around 90 – 120 days. Authors can keep the media ball rolling long after the book tour stops at no extra cost to the publisher.

For example, I taught an author how to capture media coverage for her new message. Within three weeks, she lined up nine radio interviews and a television appearance by herself. Another client landed six interviews within six weeks – and resurrected interest in two backlist titles. Why pay expensive fees to PR firms when you can pay less to teach authors how to do it themselves.

Spend less on pricey print ads. Teach authors how to get more article placements.
Many publishers spend over $10,000 – 20,000 per title on print promotion. Since most Americans ignore advertising, however, it’s easy to feel like you’re wasting critical marketing dollars. Consider a better return on investment. Teach authors how to get magazine articles placed in front of an interested audience.

Major magazine and newspaper ads can cost publishers over $4,000. Whereas, authors can repackage their book’s expertise into articles and interviews for free. And, most people agree that articles are three times more valuable than advertisements, because of the higher credibility factor with readers.

For instance, I taught author, Leslie Vernick, how to send insightful content to influential editors and leaders through a regular newsletter. Her very first issue created an invitation to become the relationship expert columnist for Today’s Christian Woman magazine! This regular feature in concert with other marketing efforts helped her new book, The Emotionally Destructive Relationship, go into a 6th printing in 12 months. Even better, the national magazine exposure didn’t cost Vernick’s publisher a dime. Yet, it would have cost thousands to buy high-profile ad space to get similar attention for her book…not to mention all of the money and time spent on staff involvement.

Spend less on book videos. Teach authors how to get more speaking engagements.
YouTube has made book trailer videos the sexy, new, marketing starlet. The problem is most trailers fit into two categories: low-budget, boring, author interviews that put you to sleep. Or, high-budget, mini-movies that substantially raise your break-even point. Worse, it’s difficult to track direct R.O.I. from a video trailer. So, why toss money to the wind when you can spend your budget on a sure thing? Author speaking engagements trump video book trailers any day of the week.

When authors learn to speak more frequently, they spend more time in direct contact with their target audience, develop emotional connections with readers, generate back-of-the-room book sales, and capture contact information to grow their platform.

Two of my clients recently sold over $2,000 worth of books at individual speaking engagements. Plus, they created powerful word-of-mouth, and acquired hundreds of new subscribers to their monthly newsletters. Talk about return on investment! This may explain why some larger publishers are setting up in-house speakers bureaus. In contrast, you don’t get any of those benefits from a book video trailer.

As our economy tightens, publishers cannot afford to waste any part of their marketing budget. So, reduce expenditures on expensive, ineffective methods, such as print ads, outside PR, and videos. Instead, redirect funds to train authors how to do more book marketing for you. Authors are more capable than many publishers think. And, now is the time to make sure every resource in your company is pulling together.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

November Amazon Comparison of CBA Publishers

WildFire Marketing has released the latest Amazon rankings for the Top 15 CBA Publishers. This month, the research was expanded to let viewers see both the overall CBA industry rankings, plus each publisher's individual top 20 bestselling book list.

Why is this information helpful to you? This is one of the few ways that authors, agents, and publishers can simultaneously see how a publisher's best books stack up against their peers. For example, Neilsen BookScan doesn't let other publishers see the competition's sales numbers (only bestseller lists). But, my free research gives publishers a way to see which titles are selling well on Amazon at 15 other houses. This data is also helpful to see which authors, topics, and genres are dominating Amazon sales trends.

Note: Amazon rankings do not reflect accurate sales figures and only account for a small percentage of a book's total sales. However, they can help determine how specific publishers or book titles perform over time versue their peers.

Click here for an Excel spreadsheet of my November 2, 2008 rankings.

If you missed the October 2nd rankings, click here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Thomas Nelson Publishers looking for Book Bloggers

Here's a good, new example of how authors and publishers can utilize social networking to help market their books:

Thomas Nelson is putting out a call for reviewers. The publisher has launched a program called Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers, allowing readers to register at a Web site in order to receive a free copy of a select book for review purposes. At the site, http://brb.thomasnelson.com, which is now live, there are currently nine books available for review. For its part, Nelson requires potential reviewers to write 200-word reviews and post them both on its blogger site and on Amazon.com.

The idea for the program, according to Nelson CEO Michael Hyatt, came from his own blogging. After Hyatt started talking about two books on his blog, Stephen Mansfield's The Faith of Barack Obama and Lynne Spears' Through the Storm, he noticed a number of readers and fellow bloggers wanted to discuss the books. In August, Hyatt offered free copies of Mansfield's book and the move generated over 100 online reviews. Now, with this program, Hyatt wants to generate similar reactions. "Good or bad, we want people online talking about our books."

Other publishers and individual authors should consider how to adopt a similar program like this for their books.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Writing Spa for Authors

Mary DeMuth, a WildFire Marketing client, has launched a helpful tool for new and established authors who feel stuck in their craft. It's called The Writing Spa, and Mary serves as a writing coach who mentors fiction and non-fiction authors.
Mary has a solid reputation in the industry for creating book proposals and ideas that publishers appreciate. So, if you, or a writer you know, needs a boost to get over writer's block or kickstart an important book project, visit The Writing Spa.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Kathi Lipp - Incredible book marketing success at a tradeshow

Hats off to Kathi Lipp for exhibiting extreme marketing prowess at the International MOPS Convention earlier this month to generate incredible exposure for her new book, The Husband Project.

Kathi used creative ideas to inspire listeners at her workshops and draw leaders to her booth. As a result, 1,400 people signed up for Kathi's newsletter, 650 leaders requested follow-up kits, and she received 4 speaking invitations!

Yet, here's the amazing part, Kathi's book doesn't release until January, 2009! She serves as a great reminder that it's never too early to start marketing your book.

October Amazon Comparison of CBA Publishers

WildFire Marketing tracks the top 15 CBA publishers according to the average ranking of their 20 best-selling books on Amazon. Using this monthly data over time helps authors and publishers identify who is best utilizing this important online sales channel.

Note: Amazon rankings do not reflect accurate sales figures. However, they can help determine how specific publishers or titles perform over time versue their peers.


Click here for a PDF file of the October 2, 2008 rankings sheet.

If you missed the September 2nd rankings, click here.

Friday, October 3, 2008

More Interesting Book Statistics

As an author, do you wonder if your books make enough money to keep your publisher happy? This week, I ran across some interesting stats on the subject:

  • More than 50% of all books published never earn back their advance.

  • Most publishers don't break even until your book has sold 7,500 - 8,000 copies.

  • Publishers want authors to earn back their advances within the first 18 months.

  • Publishers have to pay extra to put your book on an endcap in bookstores. So, they must think that your book is worth the extra cost to do so.

For more book stats, here's another blog post that may interest you.

Thanks to Sally Stuart for today's helpful information. If you write books for the Christian or religious market, be sure to check out her resource:

2008 Christian Writers' Market Guide.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Conduct Author Teleseminars with Confidence

I'm seeing more authors and speakers take advantage of technology to teach and interact with their audience remotely. For instance, one of my clients is conducting a free teleseminar this week, and she already has over 70 participants signed-up. Not only will she get good exposure for her new book, she also plans to launch a paid tele-coaching group out of this free event. This is a great idea, and one that any non-fiction author should consider.

However, teleseminars and webinars can quickly fall apart if you don't know how to do them right. Recently, I ran across a great article by Vicki Sullivan, called "Speaking at Remote Events: How to be Present when Your Body Isn't." The article helps identify key distinctions to consider as you plan a teleseminar. Vicki has years of experience and her material is quite insightful.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Amazon Comparison of CBA Publishers

WildFire Marketing is now providing free, monthly listings that measure how CBA publishers sell books via Amazon.com. Our research helps identify how each publisher's top-selling titles perform in comparison to other houses. We compiled each publisher's Top 20 bestselling books on Amazon, calculated the company's overall average ranking, and rated the top 15 performers.

Note: Amazon rankings are not entirely accurate, and they only represent a small portion of total book sales. However, our research can help gauge if frontlist titles are performing as desired. Plus, you can see which publishers best utilize this important sales channel.

Click here for a PDF file of our September 2, 2008 rankings.

If you would like similar data for a specific group of ABA publishers, feel free to contact me at 1-800-267-2045.

Friday, September 12, 2008

WildFire Marketing partners with Harvest House Publishers

WildFire Marketing has teamed with Harvest House Publishers to provide specialized book marketing instruction to their authors.

Training includes advanced help with book marketing issues, such as author websites, branding, newsletters, speaking engagements, social networking, etc. More details to come...

We're excited to announce this new partnership!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Beth Vogt - Author Press Release Success

Kudos to client, Beth Vogt, for revamping her website to present a much stronger brand and marketing message. Check it out at: www.MommyComeLately.com


In addition, Beth developed a great press release that tied her book's message (about late-in-life motherhood) to the nomination of Gov. Sarah Palin for Republican vice president. Within 90 minutes of sending out her press release, she landed a radio interview. And, within a week, more requests came in. Wow...talk about quick results!

We appreciate Beth being a proactive role model for authors!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Leslie Vernick - 6th book printing in 12 months!

Congratulations to our client, Leslie Vernick! Her latest book, The Emotionally Destructive Relationship, has been available for only 12 months and just went into its 6th printing! This marks over 30,000 copies sold, which is a testament to Leslie's rapidly growing author platform.

As you can imagine, both Leslie and her publisher are thrilled. If you haven't checked out Leslie's unique book that helps individuals, couples, and families, visit: http://www.leslievernick.com/

We're happy for Leslie's achievement!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Leslie Nease – How to get lots of media interviews by yourself!

Congrats to our client, Leslie Nease, for showing how easy it is to get media interviews by yourself. Leslie learned how to send out an e-blast to radio and TV producers that gets results. Within 3 weeks, she had lined up a TV interview and 9 confirmed radio interviews...all by herself!

Plus, she landed a speaking engagement at her full fee, and received coverage through an article on a major church news website. Go Leslie!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Back to School for Authors

Summer is almost over and kids are headed back to school. Likewise, WildFire Marketing wants to help authors go back to school – the school of book marketing.

Rob Eagar is offering a free, 30-minute, audio teaching session entitled, “How to Turn Media Interviews into Book Sales.” Rob has taught over 100 authors how to improve their book marketing skills. In this teaching session, he spells out new ways to maximize any radio or TV interview and generate more book sales…even if you write fiction. Here's a cheat-sheet of the important issues that Rob covers:

  • How to prepare for an interview.
  • How to set proper goals and determine real results from your interview.
  • How to control an interview – even with a difficult host.
  • Specific techniques to help your interview boost your book sales.
  • Plus, Rob shares a secret that most interview hosts don't want you to know.


To access Rob’s free teaching session, visit: www.startawildfire.com/audioresource1.html
A downloadable written transcript is also available.

Authors: Please forward this information to your author friends and writer’s groups.

Publishers & Agents: We invite you to notify your author roster about this helpful free resource.

"Rob Eagar has the energy, drive, and professional savvy to make a lasting impact upon any author's ministry. With a commitment to results, Rob will help you succeed by giving you solid business principles and proven marketing strategies that create a strong foundation for future growth."
Bob Hawkins, Jr. - President
Harvest House Publishers


For authors who want a "higher education" in book marketing and platform-growth, check out the WildFire Marketing – Author Mentor Program. Receive personalized instruction from Rob Eagar on all facets book marketing, such as websites, social networking, speaking, newsletters, media, etc.


You can choose from three different levels based on your budget and schedule. Learn how to spread your message like wildfire! For more information and author success stories, visit: www.startawildfire.com/mentorprogram.html

Thursday, August 14, 2008

New Coaching Options for Authors

WildFire Marketing has enhanced the Author Mentor Program to offer you three new levels and pricing options. Authors can choose from Silver, Gold, or Platinum levels based on their budget and schedule. For example, you can boost your book sales faster with weekly coaching sessions and unlimited follow-up with Rob Eagar. Or, if you're under a writing deadline or a busy schedule, you can choose from less-expensive, scaled-down coaching options.

The Mentor Program is designed to help any author improve their book marketing and platform-growth skills. Rob will listen to your needs and create solutions to help achieve your goals. Plus, he will walk with you through the process to ensure proper execution, follow-through, and success. Using personal coaching sessions and follow-up via phone and email, Rob will teach you how to:

  • Enhance the value of your expertise.
  • Build a memorable brand.
  • Excel at media interviews.
  • Boost website traffic and income.
  • Improve your keynote speaking skills.
  • Acquire more speaking events.
  • Sell more books and spinoff resources.
  • Launch powerful newsletters…just to name a few!

Click here for pricing, details, and signup information.

"I hit a point in my writing career where I needed expert help. I'm absolutely thrilled with the ways Rob Eagar and his Mentor Program helped me so quickly."
Mary DeMuth
Author of Watching the Tree Limbs - 2007 Christy Award Finalist

Monday, July 21, 2008

Concerns for Christian Publishers

While attending the ICRS tradeshow for Christian retail stores and publishers in Orlando last week, the lack of energy was palpable. There was a sense of nervous concern about the future, and you could tell that big changes are hitting the industry. Here's a sample of the decline in event attendance:

"Last week’s trade show ended July 17 with total attendance of 7,448—the lowest numbers since the 1980s, and well off last year’s already limp showing of 9,266. Professional attendance (which is mostly retailers, plus some industry professionals) was down to 2,386, a 17% drop from last year and about half as much as in New Orleans eight years ago...Exhibitor numbers declined to 353 (including music and gifts), down from 410 two years ago."
Source: Publishers Weekly

The good news is that many Christian publishers are still selling lots of books and doing okay financially (Thomas Nelson and Baker both did well in 2007). However, the bad news is that more Christian bookstores are continuing to close. Current CBA membership is down to only 1,731 retail locations. This problem puts Christian publishers in a tough spot, because their retail distribution options are narrowing as the large bookstore chains grow in buying power. In other words, publishers are trying to cram more cherries (books) into an ever-shrinking cherry pie (retail market).

One way for publishers to combat this tightening distribution trend is to pursue more non-retail channels, such as bulk sales, social networking, sponsorships, and direct-to-consumer sales. However, most of these options are best met by getting the author involved in the sales process.

For example, most social networks hate corporate intrusions and product promotion. But, authors can build relationships within these communities to increase awareness and spur new book sales. When publishers help educate their authors how to grow their platform, they can tap into a lot of new growth opportunities.

It's time for publishers to stop talking about how much they value "author platform," and offer real training to help their authors make it happen. To elaborate, check out my article, "Why Launch a Book When You can Launch an Author?"

Christian bookstores are disappearing because they struggle to offer real value to readers (price, location, inventory, etc.). Instead, they try to rely on sympathy votes from Christians to get business, but few believers are voting for them. Let's hope that Christian publishers learn from this problem and avoid making the same mistake.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Be a Wordsmith and Help End Hunger

If you're a professional writer or speaker, then you know that command of the English language is a key to your success. Words are the tools you use to change people's lives, entertain them, or challenge individuals to grow. Plus, those with a strong vocabulary usually garner more respect from others.

So, how good is your knowledge of words? Here’s a fun way to test and build your vocabulary while helping to make food contributions: http://www.FreeRice.com/

My playing level is around 40. See if you can top it.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Win a Garmin 260W GPS Navigator

WildFire Marketing is excited to announce our new website (www.startawildfire.com/) to help authors, speakers, and publishers sell more books and spread their message. To celebrate our site launch, we're giving away a new Garmin 260W portable GPS navigator for use in your car or on foot.

When a wildfire breaks out, GPS navigation lets people know how fast the fire spreads. Likewise, GPS can help you get places faster to spread the message of your book. Now, you don't need to worry about getting lost on the way to author speaking events, book signings, or media interviews.

Register to win the Garmin 260W by visiting the WildFire Marketing
home page. Simply signup to receive our free email newsletter. Signup today, because the winner will soon be selected on Tuesday, July 22nd.

Plus, every person who signs up will also receive an exclusive article from Rob Eagar called: "Marketing Mistakes Authors & Speakers Make."

Note: If you have already subscribed to our newsletter, then you are automatically entered to win the contest.

Help us spread the wildfire! If you have a personal blog or newsletter, we invite you to tell your group about our contest and new website. Post this information in your blog or newsletter, then notify us at Rob@StartaWildFire.com And, we'll enter your name twice to increase your chances of winning.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Meet Me at ICRS in Orlando, FL

If you're a Christian author braving the heat at the ICRS Convention in Orlando, FL this July 13 - 17th, let me know. I have a few appointment slots available to meet with authors who are ready to get serious about boosting their book sales.

If you'd like to meet, contact me at 1-800-267-2045 or email: Rob@StartaWildFire.com

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Amazon Rankings Explained

I apologize to my blog readers for disappearing for the last two weeks. Vacation and summer fever seemed to hit. But, I'm back with a "doosy" today.

Have you ever wondered what a book's Amazon ranking really means? Is there a way to tell how many books an author is selling over time via Amazon? Well, the truth is that no one knows for sure. In fact, even the staff people at Amazon say that their ranking system isn't completely accurate. So, don't ever obsess over your book's Amazon ranking, because it isn't always right. And, it only represents one channel of retail book sales.

However, a few math wizards with a lot of time on their hands (and a lot of Mountain Dew to drink) have tried to shed some light on the issue. Here's a summary of their findings:

Amazon Rankings Explained
Ranking: Estimated Sales:
10,000 = 30 books per week
100,000 = 6 books per week
1,000,000 = less than 1 book per week

If you wanted to estimate your book's Amazon sales, check your ranking periodically over a few months. Then, take the average number, and apply it to the chart above. For example, if your ranking over three months is 5,500 / 18,000 / 55,000, then your average ranking would be 26,166. If you apply 26,166 to the chart, then you're probably selling around 20 books a week...not much when you really think about it (1,000 per year). That's another reason why you shouldn't obsess over your Amazon rankings.

If you're average ranking stays lower than 10,000, pat yourself on the back - because Amazon customers are probably buying over 1,000 copies per year. This still isn't enough money to pay the bills. But, who said anything about money, real authors write for the sheer love of writing, right?
(Source: Morris Rosenthal, 2007)
http://www.fonerbooks.com/surfing.htm

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

How Not to Launch a New Book

This video is a funny take on the whole book promotion agony that many authors experience...enjoy!



Monday, May 19, 2008

Author Platform - More Important than Ever

If you’ve followed the headlines in the Christian publishing trade (CBA), then you know the industry is undergoing serious change. What does this change mean to you as an author? Growing your platform is more important than ever. Here’s why:

  • More Christian bookstores are closing down.
  • Most CBA publishers are experiencing sluggish book sales.
  • Most CBA publishers are reducing the number of new titles they publish each year.
  • Last month, Thomas Nelson (the largest CBA publisher) pulled out of the ICRS trade show, cut frontlist titles in half, and laid off 10% of it workforce.

This news has a lot of authors worried about their future. Some writers wonder if publishers will overlook the first-time or up-and-coming authors. Others worry that their books won’t get published if they can’t guarantee that over 50,000 copies will be sold. In other words, will sales trump craft? You can ponder this dilemma all day long. Instead, I suggest you take a deep breath and ask yourself this question, “What can I do to grow my author platform?”

Publishers no longer have the money or staff resources to market all of the books that they publish. More and more, they lean on the authors to help promote their books. Some authors complain that this treatment is unfair, because they’d rather stay in their writer's cave and churn out books. They think the publisher should do all of the marketing. Well, those days are long gone, and will probably never return. If you’re going to succeed as an author in this new age of publishing, then you must constantly improve your platform-building skills.

I know a lot of authors who think personal book marketing is ungodly or a waste of their time. But, here’s the irony…if you learn how to sell your books better, then you encourage more people with your message, plus you increase your income. In addition, you give your writing career a fighting chance, and you help your publisher succeed in a very competitive industry. So, what’s not to like about building a bigger platform? Yes, it’s hard work, but everybody wins.

Growing your author platform is no longer a luxury that you do in your spare time. Instead, it’s a necessity that every author needs to invest in with their time and money. Smart authors spend several hours each week focused solely on promoting their books.

At WildFire Marketing, I spend every day teaching authors how to build larger platforms. So, you’re probably thinking, “Okay, help me out…give me some tips to get started.” Here’s a few recent success stories from some of my clients that I hope inspire you:

Leslie Vernick, author of The Emotionally Destructive Relationship, flexed her platform-building muscles to help her new book go into a fifth printing in less than 8 months! Her efforts included activities, such as sending out audience-focused newsletters, revamping her website, using her expertise to garner regular exposure on national radio, speaking at churches and major conferences in front of influential leaders. Her publisher is ecstatic with strong frontlist sales that she’s helped create.

Mary Southerland, author of five books, re-energized her platform by capturing hundreds of new newsletter subscribers each month, revamping her website with free resources, creating a brand that separated her from the crowd, booking several new speaking engagements, and lining up six radio interviews by herself. All of these efforts helped her sell over 700 books on her own in less than 15 weeks! Her publisher was excited to see her backlist titles come back to life.

Johnny Parker, author of Blueprints for Marriage, sent out one newsletter geared to church leaders and never imagined what would happen. One church called and booked Johnny for a weekend event at his full fee. During his event, the audience responded to his message, and purchased over $3,000 worth of his books and resources. And, within a few weeks, the same church called and re-booked Johnny for another big event nine months later!

All of these authors realized that when you invest in building your platform, it produces a positive cycle with multiple benefits. You sell more books, strengthen your career as an author, and generate the income to keep growing.

So, what are you doing to build your platform?

Monday, May 5, 2008

Is Your Book in Family Christian Stores?



Last week, I blogged about how to find out if your book is in-stock at Barnes & Noble bookstores. Click here to read that post.

Today, I have good news that you can also determine if your book is on the shelf at Family Christian Stores, the largest retail chain of Christian books. They have over 300 U.S. stores in over 37 states.

Similar to the Barnes & Nobles online process, go to Family's website and type in your book's title in the "Search" box at the top of their webpage. If your book title appears, then click on the link that takes you to that's book information page. When you get there, you will see a small box on the right that says, "Enter your zip code to find it in a store near you." Type in a Zip Code, and click on the "Go" button. Then, you'll see a page that lists stores near you. Under each store location, it will either say, "In-stock" or "Out of stock".

As mentioned in my previous blog post, these kinds of inventory tracking tools are a great way to find out if your publisher got good distribution for your book. Keep in mind that America is a large place, and Family has over 300 stores. So, if your book is new, then it may take a few months for your title to appear.

If you’d like to check on the in-stock status of your book, I’ve provided a list of Zip Codes from some of the largest CBA markets in the U.S.

Atlanta – 30338
Chicago – 60610
Dallas – 75201
Denver – 80211
Houston – 77024
Nashville – 37234
Orlando – 32805
St. Louis – 63128
Washington D.C. – 22102

What if your book is listed everywhere as "Out of Stock"? First, don't get mad, and don't send your publisher a mean email. That won't solve anything, and there could be many reasons why your book isn't available. However, make a mental note that you need to kick up your personal author marketing a notch to build more awareness for your book. If you don't, then your book may have a very short life.

Many authors have resurrected bookstore distribution through their personal marketing efforts. The key question is are you willing to work hard to get your message out (speaking, newsletters, blogging, website improvements, trade shows, etc.) It takes a lot to make a book successful. Bookstore distribution is just part of the battle. Focus on the marketing tactics that you can control. And, let your passion for your book keep you moving forward.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Is Your Book in Barnes & Noble?



Half of the battle to good book sales is bookstore distribution. Since 70% of bookstore purchases are impulse buys, then it’s important for your book to be on the shelf. Customers don’t like to hear, “We don't have it, but we can order it for you in 5 – 10 days.”

But, how do you know if your book is on the shelves at Barnes & Noble, the largest book retailer in America? Fortunately, they offer a cool feature on their website (
www.BarnesandNoble.com), called “Find It in Our Stores.” To use this feature, search for your book in the Barnes & Noble database. When it appears, go to your book’s individual webpage, and find the box that says “Enter a Zip Code.”

You can use this Zip Code search feature to find out where your book is in-stock at Barnes & Noble stores across the country. This tool is a good way to find out if your publisher successfully got good distribution for your book. Keep in mind that America is a large place, and B&N has almost 800 stores. So, if your book is new, then it may take a few months for your title to appear.

If you’d like to check on the in-stock status of your book, I’ve provided a list of Zip Codes from some of the largest CBA markets in the U.S.

Atlanta – 30338
Chicago – 60610
Dallas – 75201
Denver – 80211
Houston – 77024
Nashville – 37234
Orlando – 32805
St. Louis – 63128
Washington D.C. – 22102

Happy in-stock searching!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Client Success Story - Nancy McGuirk

Nancy McGuirk
Helping Women take God at His Word
Speaker and Author of Rest Assured
Founder of Women's Community Bible Study - Atlanta, GA
www.NancyMcGuirk.com

"I’ve been speaking and writing for over 18 years, but learned mostly by trial and error. After working with Rob Eagar, however, I learned more in a few months than I had learned in years. My confidence and professionalism quickly improved, and the feedback that I receive now is better than ever. Through Rob’s help, I discovered how to:

  • Create keynote talks that fulfill leader’s goals and generate referrals.
  • Cut my message preparation time in half and work more efficiently.
  • Drive more traffic to my website.
  • Network with other speakers to increase speaking engagements and product awareness.
Rob had answers to questions that I'd been wrestling with for a long time. He is a wealth of industry knowledge and advice. I recommend his services to speakers and writers at any level."

Friday, March 28, 2008

Lessons Learned at "The Shack"

Wow! I recently finished one of the best pieces of Christian fiction I've read in a long time..."The Shack" by William P. Young. I'm not a big fiction reader, but this book is one of those rare life-changing gems.

I guarantee that this book will give you a new perspective about God, your relationship with Him, and provide answers to that ever-gnawing question, "If God is so loving, then why do bad things still happen?" Here's a brief glimpse at a few other lessons "The Shack" brought home:

1. God loves you more than you think...way more than you think. If we can get this concept through our thick heads, then life takes on a whole new meaning. It's hard to think sometimes that God really loves a screwup like me, but it's true. This book gave me a picture of that truth like nothing I've ever seen.

2. Life is about relationship – period. As Americans, we tend to strive too much to achieve goals, find success, and accumulate wealth. But, without relationship, none of that stuff matters. I was challenged to examine everything I do in the context of relationship. And, not just people, but seeing God more in my everyday relationship with Him.

3. Any pain you’ve experienced can always be redeemed. No if's, and's, or but's about it. Even if you've been victimized, abused, or rejected, there is redemption and healing available to you - if you want it. Actually, I've watched this principle come true throughout my life, but it's still hard to remember sometimes.
---

Alright, most of you know that this a marketing blog to help authors and speakers sell more books. So, besides the incredible spiritual lessons that I learned at "The Shack," let me also share some interesting publishing lessons as well:

1. Get your message out - even if other people (or publishers) reject it. Here's the amazing part - "The Shack" is self-published, and it's already sold over 300,000 copies in the first 9 months! (It's Amazon ranking is at #9 at the time of this blog post, and #44 on the CBA retail bestseller list!) Unbelievably, two Christian publishers turned this book down! Bet they're smacking their heads 'bout right now. So, what's the lesson? If you know you've written a message that makes people respond positively, don't let rejection stop you from moving forward.

I experienced this battle with my first book seven years ago. I knew I had something to say that would help people, but I was a "no-name." So, I had to do it myself and start by self-publishing. (I don't recommend self-publishing for everyone, but it's better than a dream dying.) Later on, I got picked up by a great publisher, and the rest is history. But, there were many days early on when I felt like quitting. When you hit those tough spots, don't let the passion for your message die out. God still makes miracles happen.

2. Write something unique that truly helps people. There seems to be too many books these days, especially fiction, that are just an outlet for someone's vain ego, or an attempt to heal their past pain by writing about it. I'm sorry, but that's selfish. If you don't have something to say that really makes people's lives better, then keep it to yourself.

There must be real value in your message in order for it to be marketable. Sure, entertainment provides value. But, go deeper than that, and show your readers redemption, wisdom, inspiration, or advice that improves the condition of their lives. This leads me to my next point...

3. Word-of-mouth is the Key. If you want to sell a lot of books someday, then you've got to create a message good enough to generate strong word-of-mouth. For example, I had two friends urge me to read "The Shack," and I've already bought 5 copies to give away to family and friends.

Word-of-mouth only happens if readers feel like you made their life better. What's a great way to determine if your message has word-of-mouth power? Create several focus groups of people who are willing to give you their honest feedback. I'm not talking about friends and relatives who will tickle your ears. I'm talking about people who've got nothing to lose if they tell you the hard truth. Find those kinds of folks, and give your message a real test.

According to the author, "The Shack" was never intended to be a book. He just wanted to create a good story for his kids. But, when he let a few people view the manuscript, they couldn't keep it to themselves.

If you can't generate serious "buzz" among your focus groups, then you've got to go back to the drawing board. However, if you can get people who barely know you to voluntarily express a desire to tell others about your message, then you're on to something good. Find out what makes your focus group readers excited, and really build on those points.

So, I'm back from "The Shack," and thankful for the lessons learned. I hope they encouraged you as much as me. If you need your own visit to "The Shack", click here.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Is Your Speaking Career Feeling Sickly?

If you’re a speaker, can you tell when your speeches are getting sick? By “sick,” I mean that your message is feeling flat, and you’re losing motivation for your presentations. Some speakers wait until it’s too late before they assess the health of their message. So, here’s a list of symptoms to help you discern if your speeches are losing vitality:

  • You rarely get repeat bookings.
  • You haven’t raised your speaking fees in the last 2 years.
  • You get less than 2 new bookings per month.
  • You’re calendar is rarely booked over a year out.
  • You struggle to get endorsements from leaders.
  • You haven’t developed a new speech in the last 12 months.
  • Deep down, you feel mad at God.
Ask yourself is you’re avoiding the reality that your career could be in the doldrums. As a professional, you owe it to your audience to keep your message alive and growing. Don’t wallow in excuses and negativity, such as:
  • It’s not my fault…the economy is bad.
  • Churches and businesses are cutting their speaker budgets.
  • I don’t need help…my message is fine.
Just because you’ve had speaker training doesn’t mean your work is over. You need to continually improve your speaking skills, or you’ll get stale – and your audience will notice. So, consider taking a refresher course, reading books on speaking, joining ToastMasters, or work with a professional speech coach.

Don’t judge the success of your speeches by superficial criteria, such as standing ovations or feedback from friends. Judge yourself by leader responses, booking dates, and your willingness to take on tougher speaking challenges.

If you’re not constantly growing, then you’re stagnant. And, society never stops changing. So, if your message stays idle, then you will get left behind by new styles, new speakers, or new audience formats. For instance, if you’re still relying on PowerPoint, then you're stuck in the dark ages. Modern speakers use powerful video clips, striking visual aids, and interaction to engage the audience.

As a side note: If you’re a Christian speaker, remember that the spread of the Gospel is at stake. You can’t afford to be flippant about your message. So, look yourself in the mirror and decide why you speak. Is it just for the money and attention? Or, is it to truly changes lives and point people to Jesus Christ?

Take this blog post as a friendly “wake-up call” to examine the health of your message. The desire to teach is a noble calling, and public speaking has the power to reach multitudes. But, your message can’t spread like wildfire if it’s become a dying ember.

Friday, February 29, 2008

What Makes a Bestseller?

Every writer dreams of becoming a best-selling author. But, as most of us know, that's a rare achievement that few ever attain. Fortunately, you don't have to be a best-seller to make a decent living as a writer.

Still, I ran across an interesting post from Joe Wickert, the Executive Publisher for Wiley & Sons. It's a few years old, but he gives a good summation of how best-sellers are created. These comments especially caught my attention:

"I feel (author platform is) the single most important ingredient for a bestseller. Sure, placement and promotional activity can boost sales of just about any book. But the sales difference between a book written by an author with a solid platform vs. one with a lesser or no platform is huge. Thanks to all the platform vehicles available these days, authors can help drive more sales than ever before."

Joe's blog is definitely worth reading. Check it out at:

http://jwikert.typepad.com/the_average_joe/2005/02/what_makes_a_be.html


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Client Success Story - Cindi McMenamin

Cindi McMenamin
Strength for the Soul
Speaker and author of When Women Walk Alone (over 90,000 copies sold)
www.StrengthForTheSoul.com

"Rob Eagar helped put my speaking ministry back on the map! After writing 6 books, I was facing burnout in my writing and speaking. But, my publisher suggested that I check out Wildfire Marketing. And, in less than 3 months, Rob enabled me to experience these results:

  • Enriched the message of my ministry with a new brand, Strength for the Soul.

  • Wrote improved marketing text to make my speeches, books, and website more appealing.

  • Sent out better newsletters that reached key leaders and generated new bookings (see before/after pictures below).

  • Created a new e-commerce system to produce additional revenue.

  • Gained new confidence to negotiate higher speaking fees.

Rob re-enforced to me the value of what I do and how you can’t put a price on bringing life-change and the opportunity for salvation to another individual. I’d recommend WildFire Marketing to any author or speaker who wants to take their ministry to a higher level.”


Sunday, February 10, 2008

How Do Speakers Get More Bookings?

If you're a professional speaker or an author who wants to promote a new book through speaking, then you've probably wondered, "How do speakers get booked?" Is there a magic wand that you can wave to get more bookings?

Actually, there is no secret formula, but here's some interesting information that can help answer the question. Leaders usually make booking decisions about speakers in this order of priority:

1. Personally having heard the speaker and been impressed.

2. Heard from a trusted peer that the speaker is excellent.

3. Heard from a trusted subordinate (fellow staff member, assistant, etc.) that the speaker is excellent.

4. Heard from a trusted third party that the speaker is excellent.

5. Heard from a speakers bureau or agent with whom there is a relationship.

6. Seen or heard something about the speaker (e.g., media interview).

7. Received promotional material from the speaker.
Source: Money Talks by Alan Weiss

I've worked with speakers at all levels, and I can vouch for the validity of this information. Note how the top 5 ways that leaders book speakers are based on "relationships," such as personal encounters, referrals from peers, staff members, friends, etc.

Plus, the #1 way is through hearing a speaker do a great job at another event, being impressed, and inviting that speaker to come speak at their organization. And, it's no surprise that the least common way speakers get booked is by flooding the world with mass mailings of brochures and media kits.

So, now you know how speakers get booked. But, this brings up an even more important question: What are you doing to get more referrals and build relationships with key leaders?

If you're stumped, give WildFire Marketing a call at 1-800-267-2045. We can help.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Client Success Story - Lysa TerKeurst

Lysa TerKeurst
President, Proverbs 31 Ministries
Best-selling author of When Women Walk in Faith
www.LysaTerKeurst.com


“Initially, I was skeptical of investing in a marketing consultant. But, after meeting with Rob, he identified several specific areas where he could help me improve. And, in less than three months, I experienced these results:

● Differentiated me from other speakers by developing a unique brand, Leading Women in the Adventure of Faith.

● Dramatically improved my bio and speech descriptions for my marketing materials.

● Increased my confidence to speak at higher fees.

Not only did Rob help me improve in these areas, but he also trained me on the crucial techniques of becoming a “value-driven” speaker. He enabled me to identify what my audience needs and how to answer their needs in memorable and life-changing ways. Because of Rob's help, my message now makes a much stronger first-impression, and my talks have a far-reaching lasting impression.”

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Interesting Book Statistics

Ever wonder what happens to your book once it's published? Hopefully, it sells well and the publisher is happy, which generally means...
  • a successful fiction book sells at least 5,000 copies.
  • a successful nonfiction book sells at least 7,500 copies.
But, if it doesn't sell, then what happens? Check out these interesting statistics:

• 40% of manufactured books never sell.
• The typical waiting period before books start the long and expensive trek back to the warehouse is only a mere 4 months!
• The industry return rate is 36% for hardcover and 25% for paperback.
• Superstores like Barnes & Noble sell around 70–80% of what they order, discounters like Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club only 60% (i.e. - 40% return rate!).
• 37% of all books sent to stores in 2002 were returned.
• HarperCollins lost $250 million in 2002 on returns alone.
• Between 65 and 95% of returned books are destroyed once they come back from a bookseller (that’s a lot of time, energy, and money to be turned back into pulp).

Imagine if you ran a business where your customers could return 30 - 40% of any product they bought from you...whenever they wanted to. No wonder publishing is such a tough industry.

Statistical sources:
http://www.BeneaththeCover.com/2007/03/20/love-hate/
http://www.BookStatistics.com