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.