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.

Keep those great questions coming!