Friday, December 4, 2009

December Comparison of ECPA Publishers

Check out the November Amazon rankings for the Top 15 ECPA Publishers. This research lets you see both the overall 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 ECPA 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.

Items of Interest this Month:

a. Top-Selling ECPA Titles by Amazon Ranking:
1 - "The Five Love Languages" (# 157) by Gary Chapman from Moody.
2 - "The Total Money Makeover" (# 180) by Dave Ramsey from Thomas Nelson.
3 - "Same Kind of Different as Me" (# 194) by Ron Hall from Thomas Nelson.
Rankings exclude the self-published title, "The Shack," by William Young (# 36).

b. Biggest Publisher Moves:
Tyndale moves up to # 2 this month from # 4 last month.
B&H Publishing jumps to #10 this month from # 13 last month.

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 last month's rankings.

For all previous month rankings, click here.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

November Comparison of ECPA Publishers

Check out the November Amazon rankings for the Top 15 ECPA Publishers. This research lets you see both the overall 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 ECPA 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.

Items of Interest this Month:

a. Top-Selling ECPA Titles by Amazon Ranking:
1 - "The Five Love Languages" (# 114) by Gary Chapman from Moody.
2 - "Crazy Love" (# 150) by Francis Chan from David C. Cook.
3 - "The Total Money Makeover" (# 181) by Dave Ramsey from Thomas Nelson.
Rankings exclude the self-published title, "The Shack," by William Young (# 26).

b. Biggest Publisher Moves:
Charisma House jumps to #12 this month from #14 last month.
Barbour Publishing re-enters rankings this month at #14.
David C. Cook falls out of Top 15 this month.

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 last month's rankings.

For all previous month rankings, click here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Enemy of an Author is not Piracy, but Obscurity.

"The enemy of an author is not piracy, but obscurity."

This is a great quote from Seth Godin, bestselling author of 10 business books. I recently watched him discuss the secrets he used to create multiple bestsellers. Take a few minutes and check out this highly recommend video called, "Using New Media, New Marketing, and New Thinking to Create 10 Bestselling Books." To watch, click here.

If you enjoy the video, make a point to visit Seth's blog.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Book Marketing Q&A: Trouble Getting Requested Speaking Fees

Question: Larry asks, "Lately, I've had several big conference events invite me to be one of their keynote speakers. The potential to promote my new book would be incredible. However, they want me to discount my requested speaking fee by 30%. Part of me says I should just accept the discount in return for the exposure. But, another part of me is tired of accepting a discount when I know they can probably afford my normal fee. How do I negotiate what I think is fair?"

Larry, I'm excited for you that bigger events are taking notice of your message. Give yourself some kudos for getting high level leaders interested in you. As you negotiate your speaking fees, consider these points in response to your question:

1. If someone doesn't want to pay your full fee, it's because they don't see the full value of giving you their money. This principle is as strong as the law of gravity. Therefore, you have to go back and spend time building your full value in that person or organization's mind. Focus on the results that you create, your unique communication skills and message, and any specific ability that you have to draw people to your speaking events. In a leader's mind, your value has to be equal or greater than the money you're asking for.

2. Examine why you think your total fee is fair. Why do you believe that you're worth that amount? You must believe it internally first, before you can negotiate it. Use the same reasoning that convinced you to set this amount to explain to leaders why you're worth charging for it. Sometimes, I encourage my clients to stand in front of mirror and practice saying their full fee out loud. You've got to have conviction about your request.

3. If you can't establish to a leader that your value is equal to your fee, then you may have to speak for less until you can re-establish your desired value/fee balance. But, it is your responsibility to communicate your value to leaders. They won't do it for you. The KEY to getting high fees from big-time leaders is to establish a peer-to-peer relationship where each of you trusts and respects the other. Therefore, consider what can you do to build and foster these kinds of relationships? Do you need to spend more time in person with them? Could you give away small amounts of value for free to build your credibility?

There isn't necessarily an easy answer to your question. But, these are solid principles that you can use to your advantage.

Great question.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Book Marketing Q&A: Follow-up to Public Speaking Resources

Per Mary's question yesterday, I forgot to offer some other advice on preparing to speak publicly on your book. Two things:

1. The best way to become a better speaker is to build an effective speech (See Andy Stanley's book, "Communicating for a Change" in my previous post), then go speak as frequently as possible. Practice makes a huge difference in your confidence and ability to motivate an audience.

2. When it comes to practice, I first suggest that you record yourself giving your speech alone in your office or home. The #1 way to improve as a speaker is to LISTEN TO YOURSELF. I can't stress this enough. In the beginning, it will feel uncomfortable, but it's the best way to identify areas of weakness and make the necessary changes.

Also, it's important to practice your speaking skills in front of other people. A great way to do this is by joining your local Toastmasters club. I have several clients who said this group was beneficial early in their speaking career.

Keep the great questions coming!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Book Marketing Q&A: Public Speaking Resources and When to Start a Website?

Two questions today:

Mary asks, "My first paid speaking engagement as an author is next month. And, like so many who have gone before me, I feel so incredibly inadequate. Can provide your top three resource recommendations for an author who is starting to speak in public about their books?"

Mary, congratulations on landing your first paid speaking engagement as an author. That's a great step forward for your career. In terms of top-level resources to help you grow as a public speaker, check out these books:

Communicating for a Change
by Andy Stanley
Andy Stanley shares the seven imperatives that define his approach to challenging people’s minds in order to change their lives: Determine Your Goal, Pick a Point, Create a Map, Internalize the Message, Engage Your Audience, and Find Your Voice.

Andy Stanley is the senior pastor of North Point Community Church in Atlanta, GA. His concepts will simplify your approach to communication and transform your sermons, lessons, and presentations into powerful life-changing experiences for your listeners. I recommend this book to all of my clients! To purchase a copy, click here.


Money Talks - How to Make a Million as a Speaker
by Alan Weiss
Don't be fooled by the subtitle, "How to make a million as a speaker." This is one of the best books I've ever read about public speaking. In Money Talks, Alan Weiss looks at public speaking as a catalyst for creating positive change for the audience. He believes you should produce tangible results that last long after you've left the engagement. This is a far different tone from most books on public speaking, which indicate that speaking is an ego-centric medium and that platform skills are more important than the value delivered.

Alan has literally made over $1,000,000 through public speaking. But, his focus is not about the money. Instead, he explains how to deliver real, measurable value for your audience, which will create the kind of speaking career that you desire. To purchase a copy, click here.




Janine asks, "Should an author have a well-developed web site BEFORE pitching a book to a publisher or agent? And, should "book" content be on the site? How do publishers see this?

Good question, Janine. Yes, I would recommend that you create and utilize a website as early as possible. The reason why is that you want to start building your platform from the beginning by sharing your content with people and gathering contact information for your newsletter, blog, etc.

Too many authors wait until their book is about to be released to build a website. By then, it's way too late. Every author, new and experience, should start marketing their book at least 6 months ahead of publication. You do this by writing articles from your book, speaking on the subject, sending newsletters about the subject. Your goal is to "seed the market" and get people looking forward to wanting your book, rather than springing it on them at the last minute.

For a basic primer on specific elements for a good author website, check out my free resource called, Recommended Author Website Requirements.


Note: I've gotten some great questions lately from several women, but none from any men. C'mon guys - you shouldn't be afraid to ask for directions when you're driving. Likewise, don't be afraid to ask for help with your book.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Book Marketing Q&A: Does an Author Need One or More Websites?

Rachel asks, "As a non-fiction author, is it better to create a different website for marketing each book? Or, just have one author website from which to market each of your books as they are released?"

Rachel, you bring up a good point that confuses many authors. I recommend that authors create just ONE website for all of their books. The main reason is because you want to make it easy for people to find you, interact with your online community or blog, and gather their contact information. In other words, a "one-stop shop" is usually a better approach than setting up several different "stores."

Authors who create several different websites for each of their books run the risk of segmenting their audience too much. This prevents their readers from finding out about the author's other books and cross-promoting titles. Also, you will generally get a higher search engine ranking with one author website that is busy with traffic, rather than multiple author websites with smaller traffic.

Having said that, you could consider creating a specific landing page or separate parts of your author website that is dedicated to each of your books. That way, you can easily direct readers to a particular book that you want to highlight - without reducing your overall website traffic.

Keep your author website simple and easy to navigate. Getting too fancy usually frustrates the visitor and reduces your book marketing effectiveness.

Thanks for the question...keep 'em coming!


Monday, October 5, 2009

October Comparison of ECPA Publishers

Check out the August Amazon rankings for the Top 15 ECPA Publishers. This research lets you see both the overall 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 ECPA 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.


Items of Interest this Month:

a. Top-Selling ECPA Titles by Amazon Ranking:
1 - "Ignite" (# 42) by Nelson Searcy from Baker.
2 - "Crazy Love" (# 79) by Francis Chan from David C. Cook.
3 - "The Five Love Langauges" (# 81) by Gary Chapman from Moody.
Rankings exclude the self-published title, "The Shack," by William Young (# 19).

b. Biggest Publisher Moves:
Waterbrook / Multnomah moves up to # 3 for the first time.
Harvest House jumps to # 7 from # 12 last month.
Crossway drops to # 9 this month from # 6 last month.

c. Thomas Nelson sets new benchmark.
Thomas Nelson set a new mark as the first publisher to achieve an average monthly ranking under 1,000. The average Amazon ranking of their top 20 books was 875.

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 last month's rankings.

For all previous month rankings, click here.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Book Marketing Q&A - How to Launch a New Website and Author Brand

Debbie asks, "Is there any kind of checklist or step-by-step directions for authors to use when launching a new website and brand?"

Debbie, thanks for the question. Here's a simple checklist to use as a guideline:

1. Use your brand tagline everywhere (email signature file, blog posts, business cards, newsletters, free resources, etc.) Your brand won't work unless you use it. Too many authors create a good brand, then they never use it - which wastes all of that hard work. If you've got a great brand, promote it everywhere by saying it out loud to people, writing it on everything, posting it on all of your social media communications, etc.

2. Write text for an email website announcement that you can send to everyone you know. It's okay to do a one-time announcement to people who aren't on your newsletter list. That's not considered spam. Also, post announcements on your blog, Twitter, and Facebook pages.

3. Consider creating a contest to draw attention to your new website. For example, you could encourage people to visit your website, sign-up for your newsletter, which automatically registers them to win one of your books or audio/video products. Make a lot of noise about it, so that you can collect as much contact information as possible. Mention the contest on your blog, Facebook page, Twitter account, etc.

4. Prepare a new newsletter issue that includes your new brand, and send it out shortly after the contest to announce the winner and start building relationships with your newsletter subscribers.

5. Get into a rhythm of writing regular blog posts (2 - 3 time a week) and sending out a monthly e-newsletter.

6. Send a print newsletter (not a media kit) once a quarter to key leaders in your target audience. Highlight how your expertise and offer content that helps them be better leaders.

7. Send a press release to local media and line up some interviews on radio, TV, and newspapers. Start local to find the hook that gets their attention, then use that hook to pursue regional and national media outlets.

There are a ton of ways to promote a new brand and website. But, this checklist can give you a good place to start.

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Keep those great questions coming!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Book Marketing Q&A: Speaking for Free to Speaking for a Fee

Tracey asks: How do I move from speaking for free to speaking for a fee?

Good question, Tracy, because public speaking is one of the BEST ways to promote your book and generate extra revenue to support your writing. First of all, it’s okay to speak for free sometimes. I encourage it under these circumstances:

a. You’re just getting started and you need some practice. It’s easier to get speaking engagements when people know that they won’t have to pay to let you cut your teeth.

b. Speaking for free is also a great option if it provides you with quality exposure to a roomful of bona-fide leaders who can hire you for paid speaking engagements. Your speech is your best form of advertising. If you do a good job, leaders will contact you for upcoming events. And, then you can charge a fee.

However, when it comes down to charging a fee, it’s important to base your price on the value that you provide. That’s why A-level authors generally get higher speaking fees. Either they’ve written a bestselling book that everyone likes, or their name alone is a marketing draw that will bring a crowd. Leaders want to make sure that they’ll break even on whatever they pay you. So, an author who has a large platform acts like insurance policy that helps attract enough attendees to cover the event costs.

If you’re just getting started and don’t possess a large platform, then you’ve got to start somewhere. However, every market is different, so there’s no formula that applies to everyone. For example, authors who speak in the corporate world, can usually start at $500 - $1,000 and quickly move up to $3,000 – 5,000 for a major keynote presentation. Celebrities and politicians can make $10,000 – 25,000+ for a single speech.

In contrast, authors who speak in the non-profit or ministry sectors tend to make a lot less. Beginning authors may start at $250 and eventually move up to $1,000 – 2,500. Advanced authors with a large platform may be able to garner $5,000 – 10,000.

If you’re just getting started, try these ideas to establish reasonable speaking fees:

1. Ask other authors you know for a range of fees they think is fair for your level. Don’t take one person’s opinions. Get feedback from a few people and build a range.

2. Look at your personal budget and establish a bare minimum that you’re willing to accept. Speaking in public stinks when you feel you’re doing it for peanuts. So, set a fair fee that makes you excited to speak and promote your book.

3. Practice looking at yourself in the mirror and saying several times confidently, “My speaking fee is _____.” I’m serious, because in order to get the fee that you want, you must first believe that you’re worth it. Otherwise, you’ll cave every time someone asks how much you charge. If you can’t create positive results for your audience, then you should be charging a fee at all. On the other hand, if you really improve people’s lives, then you should be compensated in a worthy manner.

4. Raise your fees as your value grows. If you become a better speaker, build a larger platform, or add new elements to your expertise, then charge more for it. The mistake many authors make is to only raise their fees when their calendar gets full. Then, they drop their fees when their calendar gets empty. Don’t live on this roller-coaster. Keep your fees consistent with your value.


Got a book marketing question? Email it to me and get an answer.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Maximize Your Author Marketing Budget in Tough Times

After the economic fallout of the last 18 months, the U.S. economy is showing signs of recovery. Yet, plenty of uncertainty still rules the business world. Unemployment is high, and discretionary spending is down.

If you're an author, whether new or established, you face tougher obstacles than ever to meet your publisher's expectations and grow your book sales. Yet, sticking your head in the sand and waiting for the sky to fall won't improve the situation. Nobody will buy your books if you stop marketing your message. Instead, marketing during a recession is more important than ever. But, when your budget gets squeezed, it's crucial to look for ways to do more with less.

Why spend your money on expensive tactics, such as print advertising, outside PR firms, and speakers bureaus, when you can do it yourself? Believe me, I'm not knocking these options. They definitely have their place in the publishing industry. But, they're also three high-priced marketing methods that authors use with questionable results. So, when money is tight, here's another approach to consider:

1. Spend less on outside PR firms. Get more media interviews on your own.

Some authors believe that the secret to success is hiring an outside PR firm to get media interviews for their new book. But, PR firms charge monthly fees from $1,500 - $5,000 with no guarantee of good placements. Avoid this costly expense by learning how to get media interviews on your own.

In addition, most publisher-sponsored book tours only last 90 - 120 days. So, you need a plan to keep the media ball rolling long after your publisher stops promoting your book. Develop your own ability to get interviews so that your book can receive continuous exposure.

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. Another client landed six interviews within six weeks, and resurrected interest in two backlist titles.

It's easier to get media interviews than you might think. Media producers aren't opposed to authors submitting show ideas - as long as the ideas are relevant to their audience.

2. Spend less on advertising. Get more article placements.

Advertising options abound for authors, such as print ads, tradeshow promotions, website ad campaigns, etc. But, most of these options are expensive and difficult to tell if they create substantial book sales. For example, a full-page ad in a major magazine or newspaper can cost over $4,000! Yet, most people ignore advertising, because they know they're being sold.

Consider a more effective option. Repackage your book's expertise by turning it into helpful articles for use in magazines, trade publications, and websites. Most people agree that articles are three times more valuable than advertisements, because of the higher credibility factor with readers. People are more likely to take an interest in your book, if you write an article that provides substantial value.

For instance, I taught author, Leslie Vernick, how to create newsletters that highlighted the expertise of her book, "The Emotionally Destructive Relationship." She sent her newsletter to influential editors, and her very first issue created an invitation to be the relationship columnist for a major woman's magazine. This regular feature, in concert with her other marketing efforts, helped Leslie's new book go into a 6th printing in 12 months! The national magazine exposure didn't cost her a dime. Yet, it would have cost thousands to buy high-profile ad space to get similar attention for her book.

3. Spend less on speaker's bureaus. Get more speaking engagements yourself.

One of the best ways to market your book is through public speaking. You get direct contact with your target audience, develop emotional connections with readers, generate back-of-the-room book sales, and capture contact information to grow your author platform.

However, many authors mistakenly believe that hiring a speakers bureau is the best way to get more events. This is usually true for only the top, A-level names. If you're an average author, most bureaus just give you a listing on their website and direct mail catalog. Yet, these organizations take a 15 - 25% commission out of your speaking fee, which is a lot of money for such little marketing help.

Speaker bureaus make sense only a) when you're too busy to handle your own administrative tasks, or.b) you arrange a non-exclusive agreement to get access to an audience you couldn't get by yourself. Otherwise, keep money in your pocket by getting speaking engagements yourself.

Connect with leaders who can book you by sending helpful newsletters, articles, or resources. Don't promote yourself or your books. Emphasize your desire to partner with them to improve their organization. Concentrate on their needs, and show how your book's message (even fiction) can provide beneficial results. Two of my clients recently sold over $1,500 worth of books at separate speaking engagements that they booked on their own. Plus, they received substantial speaking fees, created powerful word-of-mouth, and acquired hundreds of newsletter subscribers.

Word to the wise: Do not take this article as an encouragement to market yourself unprofessionally. "Doing-it-yourself" does not mean sending homemade marketing materials that look cheesy. You must do your homework and spend some money to make money. But, today's home office tools make it easier than ever before for authors to publicize a competent image.

As our economy struggles, you cannot afford to waste any part of your author marketing budget. So, minimize expenditures on expensive methods, such as advertising, PR firms, and speakers bureaus. Redirect your efforts to do more of the book marketing work yourself.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Revised Data: Amazon Comparison of ECPA Publishers - September

For those who follow my monthly "Amazon Comparison of ECPA Publishers," some new information was provided that influenced the September rankings. Two publishers notified me about separate imprints within their company that weren't being included in their rankings. I use http://www.titlez.com/ as the source for my free research, and their online database doesn't automatically include these imprints.

Manually adding the Amazon rankings for these imprints made an impact on the rankings. For example, Moody Publishers moved up from # 9 to # 6 in the rankings due to the strength of their "Northfield" division. In addition, B&H Publishing moved up one spot to # 9 in my rankings on the sales of their new military-based imprint, "Fidelis."

Click here for the revised September rankings.

I appreciate these publishers contacting me with the updated information. My goal is to make these rankings as accurate and helpful as possible.

If you have any information about new divisions or imprints, feel free to contact me at 1-800-267-2045 or email me at Rob@StartaWildFire.com





Thursday, September 10, 2009

September Amazon Comparison of ECPA Publishers

Check out the August Amazon rankings for the Top 15 ECPA Publishers. This research lets you see both the overall 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 ECPA 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.



Items of Interest this Month:

a. Top-Selling ECPA Title by Amazon Ranking:
"Crazy Love" (#59) from David C. Cook claims the top spot this month.
"The Love Dare" (#73) by B&H previously held the top-ranking position for all of 2009 so far.
-- Rankings exclude the self-published title, "The Shack" (# 13).

b. Biggest Publisher Moves:
- David C. Cook moves up to #13 on the strength of "Crazy Love."
- Howard, Kregel, Barbour, Standard, and New Hope publishers fell outside of the Top 15 rankings.

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 last month's rankings.

For all previous month rankings, click here.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

August Amazon Comparison of ECPA Publishers

Check out the August Amazon rankings for the Top 15 ECPA Publishers. This research lets you see both the overall 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 ECPA 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.


Items of Interest this Month:

a. Top-Selling Overall Titles by Amazon Ranking:
- Book: The Love Dare at # 41 from B&H Publishing.
** Rankings exclude the self-published title, The Shack, at # 7.

b. Biggest Publisher Moves:
FaithWords drops from # 8 last month to #12 this month.

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 July, 2009 rankings.

For all previous month rankings, click here.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

5 Principles of a Great Author Brand

Several of my author clients are in the process of creating a new brand for their business or ministry. During our discussions, some misunderstandings arose that were preventing these individuals from establishing a powerful marketing identity. So, I thought I'd share a few principles to consider when creating and managing your own brand:

5 Principles of a Great Brand for Authors:
1. A great brand makes you stand-out from the hundreds of other authors. Otherwise, there's no point in having a brand. This may sound obvious, but many people still overlook this fact. You need a brand that is catchy, memorable, and easy for people to pass on word-of-mouth.

2. A great brand generates a sense of appealing curiosity from leaders that makes them want to find out more about you. If you can't make leaders feel a magnetic attraction to you, then your brand is bland.

3. A great brand communicates the kind of results that you can produce for your readers. It's not enough to have a clever catch-phrase or tagline. Your brand must express how you make other people's lives better. In the corporate world, top brands achieve this goal. For example, Wal-Mart's brand was "Always Low Prices." This phrase tells me that my life will better, because I'll be saving money. Home Depot says, "You can do it...We can help." Do you see the implied result?

Some of my favorite brand taglines for authors include "The Stress-Buster," "Blueprints to Build Your Life," "Strength for the Soul," and "Get Gutsy for God." They're memorable, and they communicate results.

4. A great brand establishes you as the best choice, such as the "Cadillac" or "Mercedes" of the industry. Besides being unique, your brand should position you as the best option for a leader. When your brand becomes synonymous with quality, then you've got a powerful marketng force at your disposal.

5. A great brand must reflect your own passion, because you will be solely responsible to get in front of everyone. No one else can market your brand better than you. It's like trying on a dress or a suit, and buying the one the fits you the best and makes you feel confident. When you create your brand, you must feel comfortable and excited with it.

2 Misconceptions about a Brand:
1. A brand does NOT have to please everyone, including your friends - because your friends don't hire you for publishing projects or speaking engagements. Therefore, your brand must appeal primarily to LEADERS who have the decision-making power and money to work with you. If your brand appeals to leaders, then you're on the right track. If not, then it will hinder the growth of your career.

2. A brand isn't a big deal. This is false, because you are already being branded by everyone around you. We have finite brains, and we need a way to quickly remember and recall everyone else. A brand is part of this mental function. And, if you let other people brand you, the outcome will usually be negative, because people don't fully know who you are. Therefore, you must actively manage your brand to create a perception among leaders of your uniqueness, value, and expertise.

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Resource suggestion: For further study, I suggest an excellent book on creating your personal brand as an author, speaker, coach, or consultant. Check out How to Establish a Unique Brand in the Consulting Profession by Alan Weiss.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Quick Tips for Beginning Speakers

Almost every author eventually tries their hand at public speaking. If you’re just getting started, here's a few recommendations to make your road a little smoother.

1. Start small

Do not try to speak in front of large audiences until you’ve had some experience. Otherwise, you could short-circuit your growth and hinder your chances for referrals. Test your comfort level by speaking locally as much as possible. As your confidence grows, extend your reach into neighboring cities or states. Building a national platform usually takes two to five years. So, set realistic expectations for yourself.

Start off speaking for free until you’ve proven your value and expertise. Raise your fees as your value grows. When leaders are convinced that you can create positive results, your fees are usually less of a concern. However, expect some fee resistance at least 20% of the time. If leaders rarely complain about your fees, then you’re not charging enough.

2. Pick up other speaker’s “crumbs”

As intermediate and advanced speakers get busy, sometimes they can’t take all of the event requests they receive. So, try to build a close relationship with one or two speakers just above your level. Don’t pursue them solely to get bookings. Seek to learn as much as you can from them. Watch what works and learn from their mistakes.

Tell these speakers that you’re available to cover for them or take events they don’t want. Offer to return the favor by assisting their organization or helping promote their book. For instance, you could help run their resource table, handle some their office work, write an article for their newsletter, or baby-sit their kids while they’re out speaking. Position yourself as a partner, and you might create an extra source of new bookings.

3. Create “piggyback” events

If you’re new to speaking and enjoy traveling, you can boost your experience by adding-on events to your current bookings. For example, imagine you’ll be speaking in Atlanta, Georgia six months from now. Spend a day researching and calling other organizations that could also use your value during your visit.

Contact the leader and say, “I’m already booked to speak in your area on this date. Would you have an opportunity for me to address your group, too?” Sometimes, your current booking can provide enough credibility for the secondary leader to book you on short notice. However, don’t accept a piggyback event that could cannibalize attendance at your primary event. That would be unprofessional. And, don’t discount your speaking fees for add-on events. Instead, offer to split the travel expenses with the original organization and make everybody happy.


Every author has to start speaking somewhere. Most famous authors had to pay their dues for a little while. Yet, speaking is one of the best ways to sell more books. So, keep this tactic a central part of your book marketing plan.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

July Amazon Comparison of ECPA Publishers

Check out the July Amazon rankings for the Top 15 ECPA Publishers. This research lets you see both the overall 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 ECPA 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.


Items of Interest this Month:

a. Top-Selling Overall Titles by Amazon Ranking:
- Book: The Love Dare at # 78 from B&H Publishing.
** Rankings exclude the self-published title, The Shack, at # 5.

b. Biggest Publisher Moves:
B&H Publishing drops from # 9 last month to #12 this month.

c. July Rankings Mark Best Overall Sales Month for 2009
The combined average sales rankings for the top 15 ECPA publishers dropped from 10,349 in June to 5,014 in July (the lowest monthly combined average of 2009), which indicates an increase in Amazon book sales for the industry over the last 30 days.

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 June, 2009 rankings.

For all previous month rankings, click here.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Italian Vacation Pictures

Many of you have asked about my recent vacation to Italy. Even though I'm a consultant to authors, I just couldn't find the words to do the trip justice. So, here's a few pictures from our travels. My wife, Ashley, and I stayed in the Cinque Terre and Lake Como regions of Northern Italy. Put these places on your must-see list.
(Click on a picture to enlarge.)












Thursday, June 18, 2009

Social Networking - Unlocking Behavioral Disorders


(Click on the picture above to enlarge)
Credit to Alan Weiss and his awesome blog for posting this hilarious photo (and available T-shirt) from Despair.com.

Social media is getting all of the hype these days. Yet, it's struggling as a medium to actually create significant books sales. For example, at BEA 2009 last month, John Sargent, the CEO of Macmillan Publishing stated, "Viral marketing doesn’t sell a ton of books.” He said a video based on a Macmillan book spent time in the number-one spot on YouTube in the U.K.—and wound up selling a whopping 200 extra copies. So what works? Most CEOs agreed front-of-store displays can boost sales.

Now, I'm not knocking social networking...just don't forget about the tried-and-true methods for authors to spread a message, such as public speaking, newsletters, personal networking, alliances, etc.


As for the behavioral disorders that social networking can cause authors, check out this insightful article, Why I Kissed FaceBook Goodbye, from Anne Jackson, author of Mad Church Disease.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

June Amazon Comparison of ECPA Publisher

Check out the June Amazon rankings for the Top 15 ECPA Publishers. This month's research lets you 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 ECPA 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.

Items of Interest this Month:

a. Top-Selling Overall Titles by Amazon Ranking:
- Book: The Love Dare at # 27 from B&H Publishing.
** Rankings exclude the self-published title, The Shack, at # 5.

b. Biggest Publisher Moves:
Tyndale overtakes Zondervan for the # 2 spot.
Baker jumps Waterbrook to claim the # 4 position.
Moody rises from #14 last month to #11 this month.
FaithWords falls from # 7 last month to #10 this month.

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 May, 2009 rankings.

For all previous month rankings, click here.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Secrets of Public Speaking

Do you really want to know the secrets of public speaking?

All of my author clients know that I'm a big fan of Andy Stanley’s book, Communicating for a Change. It’s the best book on public speaking that I’ve ever read. If you don’t have a copy, get one today. I usually make Andy’s book required reading for any author who is learning how to create better keynote speeches.

However, you can also get access to Andy’s key information free via his Leadership Podcast available on I-Tunes. Click here to listen to his session called "Effective Communication" (you may need to download the I-Tunes store software). I highly encourage you to take 30 minutes this week and listen to Andy's informative message. Your keynote speeches will never be the same!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Soundbites Sell Books

Since most media interviews that authors get are brief, it’s important to limit your answers to the key information. I used to make the mistake of going into detail when I answered an interviewer’s questions. I’d go through my entire answer, and then try to wrap it up with a clever statement. By that time, however, my audience was bored and losing interest. To them, it was like reading a newspaper with no headlines. They needed something to get their attention in the first place.

One of the best ways to grab your audience is to speak in “soundbites,” which are pithy statements that sum up your thoughts. Think about soundbites like a newspaper editor using a headline to introduce an article. And, when an interviewer asks you a question, start your answer by using your soundbite. This approach will help keep your audience listening for the rest of your answer.

For example, when I wrote my book on relationships, interviewers used to ask me, “Rob, is it appropriate for a woman to ask a man for a date?” My soundbite response was, “She can try, but if a man won’t lead in dating, then he usually won’t lead in marriage, and she’ll windup miserable married to a passive guy.” Now, you may disagree with my answer, but my bet is that I grabbed your attention, right? And, you probably want me to explain my answer further. This should be your goal as an author. Say things that make the audience want to know more about your message. Below are some soundbites that I’ve helped authors create:
  • The goal of confrontation should always be restoration – not winning.
  • Oftentimes, we’re kinder to strangers than we are to our kids.
  • Sex is like superglue.
  • Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. Because as you forgive, you set yourself free.
  • No one enters a toxic environment without safety measures. Why enter a toxic relationship without protection?
Logic makes people think, but emotion makes them act. So, a good soundbite helps generate emotion in your listeners, such as laughter, curiosity, or even anger. When people feel a deeper interest in your book, then they will want to buy it. Remember, someone may be listening to your interview in their car, and it may be a while before they can purchase your book. If you find a way to stick in their memory, then you increase the chance that they will take action.

So, once you’ve created your interview questions, then come up with soundbites for each answer. Take the time to memorize your soundbites. Doing so will help lead you into the rest of your answers. When you’re booked for a radio interview, write out your soundbites on a sheet of paper and keep them in front of you.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Author Interviews 101

When you finally land that big author interview on radio or TV, do you know what to do? Many authors blow their promotional opportunity by trying to teach the audience. That's right, the attempt to teach can be a big mistake. Instead, consider this counter-intuitive approach.

Use your brief interview to tease the audience, rather than teach the audience. Now, I know the word “tease” may offend some people. You could be thinking, “It’s not right to tease my audience, that’s manipulation or shameless self-promotion.” If you feel that way, then let’s discuss the most ethical action you could take towards your audience.

For example, let’s say you wrote a non-fiction book that helps parents communicate better with their children. Or, maybe you wrote a novel about a woman overcoming deep tragedy. What is the best thing to do for your interview listeners? Is it wise to overwhelm your audience by trying to cover every teaching point you can cram into 10 minutes? Most people won’t remember what you say. So, wouldn’t it be wiser to use your interview to motivate people to get your complete message?

It’s actually more beneficial to your audience if you use an interview to lead people to what they really need – your whole book. You can throw a ton of information at people. But, that’s like a doctor throwing a box of Band-aids to someone who asks for help with a serious illness. Band-aids won’t cure the problem. Instead, a good doctor forgoes a short-term request, and leads the patient down a path to get fully cured.

Your job during an author interview is no different. Use the brief time to engage the audience, get them interested in your message, and inspire them to go buy your book.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Track Your Author Website Effectiveness

Just because you have a website doesn’t mean that it’s effective. Fortunately, there are easy ways to track if your website is helping to build your author platform.

First, you can monitor tangible outcomes, such as tracking new subscribers to your newsletter, speaking engagement inquiries, media interview requests, or book sales from your website. If you send visitors to Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.com (which I don’t recommend) you can check your book’s ranking and see if it improves. Use www.TitleZ.com to gauge your book's Amazon ranking over time.

Another good tracking tool is to analyze your website statistics. If your web designer or hosting company doesn’t provide this information, you can set it up for free with Google Analytic (www.Google.com/Analytics). After you create a free account, Google will provide you with special computer code that you embed into your website’s individual pages. Once you do this, then Google will track all of your website data for you.

When you examine your website statistics, however, make sure you concentrate on the right information. For example, basing your site’s effectiveness on how many “hits” or “pageviews” you get is a flawed notion. These are inflated figures that don’t give you accurate information about your web traffic. A better guide is to track how many “Unique Visitors” your site receives. This number reflects how many different people actually visited your site, which is a better reflection of your real platform.

If you notice a decline in visitors, sales, signups, or other factors, it could mean that people are bored with your website. So, take time each month to assess where you can add new content that provides value to your readers. If you run out of ideas, bring in guests with a similar message. People will appreciate your desire to help them, and they’ll show it by returning to your website on a regular basis. And, the more often people return, the more likely they will buy your books.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

May Comparison of ECPA Publishers

Check out the May Amazon rankings for the Top 15 ECPA Publishers. This research lets you 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.

Items of Interest this Month:

a. Top-Selling Overall Titles by Amazon Ranking:
- Book: The Love Dare at # 27 from B&H Publishing.
- Bible: English Standard Version at # 45 from CrossWay.
** Rankings exclude the self-published title, The Shack, at # 9.

b. Biggest Publisher Moves:
Charisma House jumps from # 14 to # 11 this month.
David C. Cook pushes Barbour off the list at # 15.
Harvest House falls from # 7 last month to # 9 this month.

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 April 2, 2009 rankings.

For all previous month rankings, click here.



Monday, May 4, 2009

Author Empowerment University

It's time for a new kind of "summer school." Rob Eagar is offering an affordable, group-based coaching service called the Author Empowerment University. Here's the details:

What is the Author Empowerment University?
  • 3 months of advanced book marketing instruction taught by Rob Eagar.
  • Group coaching with a minimum of 5 authors and a maximum size of 8.
  • Weekly instruction via group teleconference calls.
  • All teaching sessions will be recorded for students who miss calls or want to listen again.
  • Students will have individual follow-up access to Rob via phone and email.
  • Specialized tutorials and teaching guides provided by Rob.
  • Students will enjoy encouragement and accountability by learning together as a small group.
What subjects are covered during the teaching sessions?
  • Teach author how to make their website capture readers and market books better.
  • Learn how to acquire more media interviews and increase book sales on the air.
  • Discover how to obtain more speaking engagements and craft powerful keynote speeches.
  • Create resources and pass-on tools that help spread word-of-mouth.
  • Establish a unique brand and differentiate a book's message in a crowded marketplace.
  • Utilize newsletters and social networking to build ongoing relationships with readers and leaders.
What result can students expect? (figures based on the success of Rob's previous coaching participants):
  • Increased author book sales by 15 - 25%.
  • Doubled author website and blog traffic.
  • Newsletter growth of over 100 new subscribers per month.
  • 30% increase in annual speaking events.
  • Speaking fees increased by 30%.
  • Contact with over 250 new targeted leaders.
  • Ability to secure an extra 5 - 15 media interviews with press releases.
The fee to enroll in a group is only $2,500 per author for the 3-month program. Most authors can easily recoup this fee by landing a couple of new speaking engagement or boosting their website sales. This is the best deal available to get focused, weekly instruction at the advanced-level with Rob Eagar.

Space is limited on a first-come, first-serve basis. A new group will start as soon as five people register by May 15th.

If you would like to sign-up or get more information about the Author Empowerment University, please call 1-800-267-2045 or email:
Rob@StartaWildFire.com

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Reality of a NY Times Bestseller

Thanks to literary agent, Chip MacGregor, for passing along this great author interview with novelist, Lynn Viehl. I highly recommend that every author read Lynn's recap of how she made the NY Times fiction best-seller list - and how little money she actually made. Her account will give you a healthy dose of reality about the publishing business.

Also, when Lynn says that she did little to market her novel, keep in mind that she has already had over 40 novels published. So, she's a very experienced author with a decent platform.

I really appreciate Lynn's transparency and willingness to help other authors understand the reality of this profession. The good news is that there are many new ways for authors to make income besides just relying on publisher royalties. Multiple streams of income are available for those willing to take their books and turn them into speaking engagements, audio and video products, movie and theater scripts, coaching and consulting projects, etc.

To survive financially as an author, it's crucial to "think outside the book."

Monday, April 27, 2009

Client Success Story: Mary DeMuth

Congratulations to Mary DeMuth on the quick success of her new novel, Daisy Chain. Her book just launched on March 1st, but her publisher (Zondervan) has already gone into a 3rd printing in two months! That is an incredible feat in such a tough economy.

Mary's credentials include being a finalist for the 2007 Christy Award. So, if you're a fan of fiction and aren't familiar with Mary, you need to check out her books, such as Watching the Tree Limbs
and her latest novel, Daisy Chain.

Mary was also gracious to recently participate in a video testimonial about her experience as a WildFire Marketing client. To get a sense of how Rob Eagar helped Mary grow her platform, click here to watch her video. We're proud of Mary and the role model she serves to other authors!

For more client success stories,
click here.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

When Religion and Marketing Collide

This video is a hilarious look at what can happen when religion and marketing get a little too mixed up...

Friday, April 3, 2009

WildFire Authors Experience CBE Success

In my previous blog post, I shared the negative realities of what happened at the Christian Book Expo on March 20 - 22nd (low turnout, financial losses, lost opportunities, etc.). However, there was a positive side to the event...every WildFire Marketing client who was present experienced above-average results. Forgive me for bragging on my author clients, but their hard work and achievement deserves recognition:

Lysa TerKeurst was the only author at CBE who had a constant line during her book-signing. She garnered more attention than most of the frustrated, mega-bestselling authors who stood idle nearby. What was the difference? Lysa's daily blog was instrumental in drawing people to see her at CBE. She receives over 1,000 blog readers each day and used that part of her author platform to invite women to CBE. She reported that many attendees said, "I read your blog and really wanted to meet you." Lysa's success shows the power of smart author marketing.

In addition, Lysa's fast-growing platform also garnered her a spot at the Friday night Main Stage Showcase, which featured other elite authors, such as Max Lucado, Liz Curtis Higgs, Andy Andrews, and Henry Blackaby. The exposure created big-time awareness for her message and generated immediate speaking requests from leaders in attendance. Congrats, Lysa!


Mary DeMuth was honored as one of the only women selected to participate in the male-dominated CBE panelist discussions (2 women; 20 men...weird ratio?). She shared her expertise during the session, "Living Christianly in a Post-Christian Culture," and offered insightful perspectives to the audience. Kudos to Mary for being selected as a respected voice on culture-change issues.

Brenda Garrison experienced success at CBE the old-fashioned way - she earned it. As a first-time author, Brenda didn't have the luxury of a high-profile speaking slot or a best-selling name to help sell her books. But, that didn't stop her from getting results. Instead, Brenda consistently manned her publisher's booth, chatted with attendees, and gave away free resources chock full of value. After the event, Brenda's publishers reported that she had sold over 100 copies of her new book, which beat out most sales numbers from many experienced authors who were present. Way to go, Brenda!

Last but not least, Kathi Lipp, another first-time author, was smart enough to think outside-the-box and line up two speaking engagements in Dallas. This wise move helped her maximize the overall time spent at CBE. She sold a lot of books, added numerous names to her newsletter list, and built a stronger foundation for her message throughout the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. Most authors lost money going to CBE. Meanwhile, Kathi benefited by taking a broader approach to her book marketing strategy. Great job, Kathi!

What do these four authors have in common? Each has been through the WildFire Marketing Mentor Program and learned how to apply advanced-level book marketing skills. The proof is in the results. Our training is the best available and pays for itself through increased book sales, speaking events, higher fees, etc. If you're ready to take your author career to a higher level, give me a call at 1-800-267-2045 and let's get started.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Christian Book Expo was a No-Show

I just returned from Dallas, TX where I witnessed one of most disappointing moments in the history of Christian publishing. The purpose of my trip was to visit several WildFire Marketing author clients at the Christian Book Expo (CBE), a first-of-its-kind consumer-oriented book fair at the Dallas Convention Center. Expected attendance was over 15,000 people.

To everyone’s dismay, the total attendance was only 1,500 people, which included 275 children who got in for free. Less than 10% of the needed amount to break-even showed up. The Christian Book Expo may go down as the “Christian Book No-Show.”

Publishers sold very few books and lost a lot of money. Several famous authors stood at empty book-signing booths looking embarrassed. The few attendees who were there acted uneasy by all of the open space and quietness. It was one of those situations where you cringe and think, “This is going to leave a mark.”

I was very disappointed to witness what happened, because I thought CBE was a good idea. Unfortunately, the Devil’s in the details, and many of the event planning and marketing details got overlooked. How so?

There was talk that CBE suffered due to the current economic crisis, struggling publishers going through staff layoffs, and competition with March Madness and Spring Break Week throughout North Texas. But, I think these were minor issues compared to the real problem.

After talking with several Dallas-area church leaders and residents, their common response was “We never heard about the Christian Book Expo. No one told us it was coming to town.” As a marketing consultant, this lack of event awareness is inconceivable. How can you plan such a massive undertaking and neglect the most important part…marketing?

My wife is a professional event planner who managed corporate events at the Salt Lake Winter Olympics and numerous Christian women’s retreats. To us, we can’t comprehend that a large group of multi-million dollar publishing houses (with excellent marketing personnel) didn’t implement a marketing plan with benchmarks that monitored progress leading up to the event. For example, here’s what puzzles me:

• The official CBE website didn’t launch until 8 weeks before the event date. That’s too late to build momentum needed for a turnout of over 15,000 people. The website should have been up at the latest by last Fall.

• Three days before CBE, only 700 tickets had been pre-sold! Why wasn’t an alarm sounded weeks ago to pour on the marketing efforts? Most event planners use early ticket sales as a benchmark to indicate progress. If those benchmarks aren’t met, then the event is cancelled or the marketing efforts go into overtime. This didn’t happen with CBE.

• There are over 1,000 churches in the Dallas / Ft. Worth area. Plus, the 3 largest churches represent a combined congregation of over 100,000 people. So, why weren’t churches used as ticket sales outlets before CBE? I was told that hardly any of the churches in Dallas conducted pre-sales activity for CBE. Yet, churches routinely pre-sell tickets to music concerts, mission trips, marriage conferences, women’s retreats, etc. I don’t know if the Dallas churches weren’t asked to sell tickets, or if they refused to assist. However, the basic idea of marketing is to reach consumers where they congregate, and churches make the best fit for reaching Christian book readers. And, if the churches refused to help, then you know ahead of time that you’ve got a big deterrent to a successful event.

• In the weeks leading up to CBE, many people prayed for a successful event. But, God didn’t answer their prayers. As a Christian, sometimes I’m guilty of neglecting hard work in the hopes that God will somehow just work everything out. At CBE, God reminded us that He’s not in the “bail-out” business. Instead, He wants His children to work hard and use smart business principles in the midst of their ministry efforts.

• The CBE organizers assumed that publishers would use their connections to help reach the masses. But, publishers aren’t setup to handle this kind of function. They’re great at marketing to the retail trade. But, publishers aren’t positioned to market directly to consumers. That’s because readers care about who wrote the book, not who published it. The CBE disaster was a prime example of this truth.

Will CBE ever happen again? Nobody knows. It depends on how long it takes for the industry to remove the egg off of its face. I still think the event is a good concept. But, a future attempt will require a much more concerted effort of event planning expertise.

The positive news is that several WildFire Marketing clients, such as Lysa TerKeurst, Kathi Lipp, Mary DeMuth, and Brenda Garrison, were among the few author standouts during CBE. Stay tuned as I blog about their success in an upcoming post.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

How Author Websites Influence Book Sales

Last summer, the Codex Group, a publishing research firm with clients including Random House and Barnes & Noble, surveyed nearly 21,000 book shoppers. The objective of their study was to understand the relative effectiveness of author websites among shoppers and determine the elements that keep them coming back to a site. Result from this recent ground-breaking research revealed these important statistics:

● Book shoppers who had visited an author website in the past week bought 38% more books, from a wider range of retailers, than those who had not visited an author site.

● Visiting an author's website is the leading way that book readers support and get to know their favorite authors better. And, this is true regardless of age.

● Most author websites lack the right content that makes readers want to return, such as exclusive material or fan interaction.

The Codex research revealed that author website visits translate directly to the number of books bought. However, the data also indicated that most author sites don't attract the repeat visits needed to help boost book sales. And, according to readers, flashy design is not a key to success. Content is more essential. So, what do these new statistics mean to you as an author?

1. Your website is your most powerful book marketing tool. A website that keeps readers returning can have a direct affect on increased book sales.

2. Most author websites work against the author. The reason why is that most websites are nothing more than a boring, electronic brochure. Not much is offered to help the visitor experience the author's message, join a community, interact with fans, or get free resources.

3. If you have a lame website, you're hindering your book sales. The good news is that you can fix this problem. But, don't rely on your web designer for answers. Most web techies don't understand the needs of an author. They tend to get caught up in expensive bells and whistles that waste your money.

4. Don't assume that a fancy website is a good website. For example, the current #1 selling fiction author in America, Stephenie Meyer, has a terrible-looking website, but she's got a huge community around her books. So, you can have the best-looking site on the Internet, but if it's not getting a lot of traffic and repeat visitors, then it's a waste of money.

5. High search engine rankings aren't necessarily important for high-traffic. Don't waste money and time trying to boost your search ranking...that's an Internet myth. Instead, focus on building a website that provides value to readers and gives them reasons to return.

Click on the links below to view some before-and-after website samples of WildFire Marketing clients:

Sample # 1: Leslie Vernick
Sample # 2: Johnny Parker
Sample # 3: Mary DeMuth