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.