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.