Category Archives: The Book Business

[Thinking Outside the Box] T-Shaped Marketing for Authors

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

Online marketing—blogging, social media marketing, email marketing, pay-per-click advertising—to name only a few kinds, provides today’s authors with a vehicle to reach a worldwide audience where, in the past, they were limited to their own backyards. But to make any kind of real headway in this crowded space full of millions of people doing the same thing as you’re doing online, you’ve got to think outside the box. You’ve got to figure out a way to stand out among the rest by combining analytical and creative skills together. I’m talking about T-shaped marketing.

I invite you to click on this link because it will bring you to a diagram that depicts the T-shaped marketing concept really well: The T-Shaped Web Marketer. To quote the author of this Moz blog entry: “T-Shaped basically refers to having a light level of knowledge in a broad array of skills, and deep knowledge/ability in a single one (or a few).” Your deep knowledge/ability (the stem of the T) is the content you’ve written about in your book(s) whereas the flat, horizontal part at the top represents the various other creative and analytical skills you can learn to best utilize the Internet in selling your book(s).

Many of the most successful online companies of today used T-shaped marketing (also referred to as “growth hacking” which will be discussed in an upcoming blog entry) to grow their businesses when no venture capital was available to help them. AirBNB utilized Craigslist users as part of their growth hacking strategy. PayPal paid people for referrals. DropBox gave people extra storage for referrals. There are many more examples of this, as well.

I believe authors can do the same thing as these companies did to really put themselves and their books on the map. If you have any doubts about that, I invite you to read this online Forbes article: Amazon Pays $450,000 A Year To This Self-Published Writer. Mark Dawson was first trade published. But when he saw how few copies his trade publisher sold for him, he switched to self-publishing for his next book and learned how to become an entrepreneurial author instead of a mere trade published author. This is T-shaped marketing at its best.

I hope today’s blog entry will whet your appetite enough to join me again for the next one. I’ll be talking about growth hacking in a bit more detail when we meet each other again.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2017 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

Modern Marketing for Authors: Post Your Readings and Interviews on YouTube

There are a lot of different ways that authors can use YouTube to promote their books and get more leverage out of past publicity (e.g. radio or television interviews). Here are two examples…

Video Readings

A few years back, I decided to create a video of me reading the introduction to my third book, titled 11:11, with Canmore’s renown Three Sisters Mountain Range behind me. Mother Nature seemed to approve of the idea by gifting us with mild temperatures—it was a balmy +2 degrees Celsius on March 8, 2010, even up in Alberta’s mountaintops!—which allowed me to be filmed without a coat, gloves, or even a hat on. (You can imagine how much easier it is to turn the pages of a book without gloves on!) I couldn’t have asked for a nicer winter day.

In addition to agreeable winter weather conditions, I had the honour of working with two consummate professionals—David Joseph of David Joseph Photography and Patricia M. Gallagher of PMG Creative—who added their creative ideas to mine to help make this video come together. This is yet another testament to the fact that two or more brains are better than one. A combined mastermind can create wonderful results.

Here is a link to my YouTube video reading:

Media Interviews

In 2016, Brent Gill, a correspondent for the Central Valley Business Times (CVBT) in Stockton, California, conducted this very unique audio interview with four-time PPG author Colin Manuel … unique because Colin is 70% hearing impaired. How do you conduct an audio interview with a hearing-impaired author? With a little finagling and clever innovation, that’s how!

We asked Brent to provide us with the audio file for this interview so we could convert it into a YouTube-friendly format and re-post it for our subscribers. In the description portion of the interview, we posted all the ISBNs for all Colin’s books and let readers know where they can buy them. Now, our author can further leverage this publicity by sharing the YouTube link with his current and prospective readers any time he wants to.

Here is a link to that interview:

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2010 (original post) 2017 (updated post) Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

Media Tour: Watch for Barbara Paterson’s New Book This Coming Month!

A media tour is a series of interviews with newspapers, magazines, and/or broadcast stations to promote you and your new book. Tying in this type of publicity with a bookstore signing or an evening launch (reading) is a great way to increase traffic to the event plus establish yourself as an author. This is exactly what PPG’s latest author, Barbara Paterson, is going to be doing over the next six weeks to promote her new book titled Malignant Memory. Click here to view details of Barbara’s upcoming event through McNally Robinson in Winnipeg. 

You don’t have to be J.K. Rowling to stir media interest. All you need is a good angle. For example, if you’re from Manitoba as Barbara is, you may want to promote yourself as an “up and coming Manitoba author” to the media in that province. Or, as another example, if you’ve published an historical fiction or non-fiction work about a particular region, you can contact the media within that region for an interview.

In Barbara’s case, we are promoting her as a doctor with an interdisciplinary doctorate in nursing, psychology and education, as well as a master’s degree in post-secondary education. She served as a professor at the University of Manitoba, the University of British Columbia, the University of New Brunswick, and Thompson River University until her retirement in 2013.

Malignant Memory paints a portrait of how to put one foot in front of the other in the face of unimaginable trauma. It shows there is power in bringing dark secrets into the light, particularly in the face of acceptance and forgiveness and how bad times can become an opportunity to gain strength. The stories of abuse, trauma and grief in the book are based on actual accounts Dr. Paterson received in her work as a nurse and a researcher; they are real-life narratives of survivors of residential schools, adults who experienced profound childhood trauma and people facing life-threatening illness.

Once you reach J.K. Rowling’s level of renown, a press release with a one-liner such as “Announcing the latest release by…” is about all you’ll need to generate buzz and arrange interviews for yourself. Until that day comes, placing a personal phone call to request an interview is much more effective than any press release, fax, or email alone. Or you can hire an experienced publicist through Polished Publishing Group (PPG) for even more impact.

Who do you contact to book an interview? It varies depending on the media: you’ll want to talk to the book review editor when contacting a newspaper; your best bet is the news editor at a radio station; and you should ask for either the producer of the morning show or a community events reporter at a television station.

Each time you complete an interview, it’s a great idea to ask for a copy of it so you can continue promoting it even further. For example, you can scan a copy of a newspaper article to display on your blog; or you can ask for copies of your radio/television interviews in a YouTube-compatible file format and then post them to your YouTube channel like PPG did here:

There are many effective ways to sell more of your books … from readings, to bookstore signings, to trade shows, to speaking engagements. A timely media tour will complement all of these events to make them even more successful.

Good luck to Barbara on your upcoming media tour! We wish you all the success in the world!

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2009 (original post) 2017 (updated post) Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

Why Do We Use Social Media Marketing? What’s the Point?

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

As you know, I’m a strong proponent of social media marketing and am always telling my authors to use it in conjunction with blogging so they can sell more books. You may be asking yourself why. You may be one of the many people who ask, “How do you monetize it? How do you make money using social media marketing?” If you’re one of these people, then you need to read this blog entry because it will clarify a few things for you.

There are experts out there who will teach you specifically how to earn money using Twitter or YouTube or whatever other social media platform … and I share some of those with you in this email campaign. But I personally use these websites in a different context. I use them as advertising tools. I use them to drive more traffic to other e-commerce sites where I sell my books and various other services (e.g. personalized and customized sales coaching for authors).

I want to give you a couple of examples to help explain. Take a look at PPG’s Twitter page here. And take a look at my personal author Twitter page here. Every single day, one or two different tweets are sent out to our respective Twitter followers from these pages. Sometimes, events are being promoted. Other times, positive book reviews are being shared. We post our blog entries and links to the opt-in pages for our email campaigns here. And, occasionally, a link to where our books can be purchased online are being tweeted, too. It’s a mixture of everything, and it’s done on a daily basis.

Consistency is key. Regular advertising is all about creating top of mind awareness—staying in front of your prospective readers/customers so that, when they’re in the market to purchase what you’re selling, they’ll recall you (your book, your services) above all the rest.

We live in a wonderful world where we don’t have to pay thousands of dollars to achieve this anymore. Where we used to have to buy expensive newspaper, radio, or television ads to reach our target markets, we now have the Internet which allows us to reach an unlimited audience free of charge. All it takes is the time you have to build your subscribers, followers, likes, et cetera, on the various social media platforms.

Why do companies with prominent brands such as Coca Cola and Disney and Nike advertise regularly? Because it works! It allows them to stay top of mind for you—their prospective (possibly repeat) customer. And that’s what social media marketing can do for you and your book over time.

Go ahead and follow us on the two above-mentioned Twitter pages so you can watch how we do it. It may provide you with some inspiration for your own Twitter page.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2017 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

FREE Daily Tips Emailed Directly to Your Inbox from Kim Staflund

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

I’ve made it my mission in life to help authors the world over enjoy more commercial success. As a bestselling author and sales coach, I can show you how to write, publish, advertise, sell, market, and publicize your own book(s) using all the effective traditional and online tricks of the trade. My books, my blog, and my Sales Coaching for Authors webinars are three of the teaching tools I use.

In addition to these resources, I’ve also put together four email campaigns tailored directly toward three different types of writers/authors. By subscribing to any one of these campaigns, you’ll receive free daily tips from me directly into your email inbox. Whether you’re in the writing stages of your book or have already published it and are now looking for ways to sell it, there is something here for you:

FREE Book Publishing Guide: Learn How to Create a Best Seller

Learn How to Protect Your Creative Work! FREE ADVICE from a Trademark, Copyright and Entertainment Attorney

Writing and Publishing for Business Professionals: Learn How to Save Time, Earn a Profit, and Stand Out as an Industry Expert in Your Field!

Time Management Tips for Writers … and Everything Else You Need to Help You Write That Book!

Whether you subscribe to one—or all—of these email campaigns, you have my personal guarantee that your privacy is 100% assured and your email address will never be shared with anyone else. My intention is simply to provide you with some true value in the form of useful information that will help you achieve your goals. And I’m providing it for FREE!

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2017 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

Don’t Call Procrastination Laziness. Call it Fear. (PART TWO)

In part one of this two-part blog series, we talked about the difference sections of the human brain—the reptilian brain, the limbic brain, and the neocortex—and how they each affect our decision-making processes. We discovered that our unconscious, compulsive, automatic fear of things unknown is created in the reptilian portion of our brains. And we discussed that any of the irrational concerns we may have about book publishing, sales, and marketing are variations of the exact same thing: the reptilian brain’s unconscious, automatic “fight or flight” survival instinct triggered by its fear of the unknown.

Instinct is a good thing that serves a valid purpose in our lives. God gave us all an instinct for a reason, and we should pay attention to it; but, whenever your fear of the unknown has you avoiding potentially advantageous opportunities simply because they’re new to you, then it’s time to consult with your more evolutionarily advanced neocortex—the logical, rational portion of your brain—by writing your fears down. Articulate them to yourself in writing. Read them out loud to yourself. When you do this, you’ll begin to see just how irrational many of those fears really are.

Fear #1: What if it’s a bad idea?

I can’t tell you how many authors I’ve sat and had a coffee with who have sheepishly shrugged their shoulders and said, “It’s probably a stupid idea. Maybe I shouldn’t do it.”

To which I always reply, “How long have you been thinking about this idea? When did it first come to you?”

For many of them, the answer is, “Several months.” For others, the answer is, “Several years.”

I always tell them the same thing: “An idea is a life form of its own that wishes to be expressed. It wants to be given life, and it has chosen you as the conduit for its life. That’s a gift . Accept this gift and use your God-given talent to give it the expression and life it craves. The fact that you’ve been thinking about this idea for several months or years tells you that it’s not simply a fleeting thought. It’s a real living, breathing thing.”

As an entrepreneur starting my own book publishing business, and writing and selling my own books, I had my moments when I thought to myself, “Maybe this is a bad idea.” I’m just like you. What I did, in those moments, was seek out inspiration from other people who had succeeded before me, to help me push through that fear and self-doubt. I read books. I watched videos. I used whatever tools I could find to help myself move forward.

One of my most cherished sources of inspiration is a video of Sara Blakely (2011), the founder of Spanx, Inc., speaking to a group at The Edge Connection in Atlanta, Georgia, about how she built her hosiery company from a mere $5,000 initial investment into a billion dollar empire in a short ten years. Very early in her presentation, she describes listening to a speaker at a convention who stated that he would prove to the room, in only four words, that there is no such thing as a bad idea: TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES! Sara herself eventually went on to prove to the many early doubters, in only two words, that there is no such thing as a bad idea: FOOTLESS PANTYHOSE!

I highly recommend this video of Sara Blakely to all authors who doubt themselves and their current ideas—whether it’s a book topic idea or a sales idea you have for an already-published book. It is a beautiful example of what’s possible when one pushes past that instinctive, reptilian-brain fear and perseveres in the achievement of a goal—any goal. For those who love humour, you’ll enjoy this video all the more. This woman is not only inspirational; she’s downright hilarious. I truly admire her on so many levels.

Fear #2: What if nobody reads it?

Well, then nobody will read it. And you’ll be no further behind nor any further ahead than you are today. You’re surviving right now, right? Fear busted.

Fear #3: What if people read it and don’t like it?

First of all, if people are reading it, that’s a good thing! That’s the ultimate goal!

Second, accept the fact that you’re entitled to your own opinions— and so is everyone else. Once you can do that, you’ll experience a freedom you’ve never experienced before.

When I published my first book, everything was quite new to me, and I had an expectation (possibly an unfair one) that my friends and family members should support me 100 percent and compliment me on my book, no matter what they thought of it. Luckily, that did happen with my first book. Everyone around me was very supportive.

Unfortunately, when my second book came out, it was a different story. I received an unexpected criticism from someone dear to me that left me shocked, hurt, and unsure how to react. I’ll be honest; it took me a couple years to come to a place where I was willing to put myself out there again. During that time, I had to rethink my expectations of those closest to me and find a way to remain confident in myself and my craft regardless of others’ opinions.

In retrospect, I’m glad I experienced that criticism so early in my publishing career because it taught me a valuable lesson about how I should measure the true merit of my work. A few times, I’ve had to ask myself the question: What is the truth here? Is it the joy and enthusiasm I felt when I held a printed copy of the book in my hand for the very first time? Or is it the self-doubt I felt when someone criticized it later on? Which one of those two moments will I use to determine the value of my book?

A wise woman named Lisa Nichols once said:

Oftentimes, you give others the opportunity to create your happiness, and many times they fail to create it the way you want it. Why? Because only one person can be in charge of your joy . . . and that’s you. So even your parent, your child, your spouse—they do not have the control to create your happiness. They simply have the opportunity to share in your happiness. Your joy lies within you.

A beautiful sentiment, don’t you think? I believe the same can be said for self-confidence and faith.

I’ve gone into every book project since then with a new set of expectations that take the pressure off both me and those around me. It’s always nice when people acknowledge a new book with a hearty congratulation, but I’ve decided that’s where their obligation ends. I no longer base a book’s worth on whether others read it, agree with it, enjoy it, or discuss it with me after the fact. The truth I try my best to hold onto is the joy I felt when I held that first printed copy in my hand. I hope you will do the same for you. I hope you will find a way to hold onto your enthusiasm even if you come up against any criticism along the way—whether it’s from friends, family members, reviewers, or anyone else. Keep writing! Keep the faith!

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2017 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

Don’t Call Procrastination Laziness. Call it Fear. (PART ONE)

From the very beginning, one of my primary goals has been to ensure that all authors have access to professional-quality book publishing, sales, and marketing—even those who can’t easily afford these services. Every year, I’ve offered this opportunity to them in the form of simple contests and free giveaways. But, far from helping more authors transform their dreams from the invisible into existence, this exercise has instead provided me with some very interesting insight into the mind of an artist. It has made me rethink my whole strategy and tweak my focus so I can help these people in hopefully more effective ways.

In part one of this blog series, we’ll take a closer look at the experiment, the result, and the subsequent conclusion I came to regarding what is stopping people from moving forward with their books. In part two, which will follow in a few days, we’ll look at some effective strategies an author can use to work with his or her own brain rather than battling against it. Success as an author is just around the corner once you can conquer this.

The Experiment

The first year, I took out a specialty insurance policy which allowed PPG to offer authors a chance to win $100,000 in cash if they referred aspiring authors to us who ended up purchasing one of our book publishing packages, if they purchased one of our book publishing packages toward the publication of their own book, or if they could prove they sold fifty copies of their already-published PPG book in a bookstore consignment deal. Long story short, there were very few entries into this contest and nobody won. I deemed this experiment unsuccessful because it didn’t drum up anywhere near the new business I had hoped for; and, I attributed that lack of interest to the fact that it required people to invest a significant amount of time or money upfront for a chance to win, and that it was only a chance instead of a guarantee that at least one person would win.

So the next year, I offered a chance to win $5,000 toward a professional PPG publishing package to all Canadian adults aged eighteen years or older with a guarantee that one person would win. This time, no one had to pay any money upfront. People could qualify for more than one chance to win in various ways: by liking our Facebook page; by following us on Twitter; by subscribing to the PPG Publisher’s Blog; or by joining the PPG Writers Forum. I figured there would be much more interest across the country—and there was—but something curious happened. Despite the fact that we had quite a few contestants and one seemingly solid winner, a book was never published as a result of this contest.

The Result

Despite being given the opportunity—the written guarantee!—to have a professional-quality book published free of charge, in which 100 percent copyright ownership of both the written words and the artwork produced for that project would remain with the author, our winner still procrastinated on publishing the book for several months. Halfway through the year, we had a conversation about this. I expressed to this author that the prize was to have a book published within the year; and if we didn’t begin the publication process within the next month or two, it would be impossible to have it completed within the year, which would render the contest null and void. I provided a deadline that the winner agreed to meet; and it was also agreed that if we didn’t begin publication of the book by that date then, out of fairness to the other contestants, the contest would be re-opened to them.

The winner procrastinated some more . . . right past the agreed-upon deadline. So, a letter was sent out to all of the contestants (including the winner) offering everyone one more crack at this prize. (This letter was also posted publicly on the PPG Facebook Page.) Due to the lateness in the year, everyone was given two weeks to submit their properly-formatted manuscripts and artwork to PPG in order to qualify, otherwise the contest would be deemed null and void. Four of these contestants (including the first winner) expressed a solid interest and said they had books ready to go, so it was hopeful for one gleaming moment in time that we might have ourselves a winner. But guess what happened? Everyone procrastinated past the deadline. No one submitted their work. The contest was deemed null and void.

I can vividly recall one of these contestants using the excuse of limited time. “It’s going to take me four hours to put together everything you need in order to submit my book to you. I don’t have that kind of time right now.” I’ll admit I was not only shocked by this but also a little annoyed. I didn’t respond to the comment. I didn’t know how to respond to that, because I found it so perplexing that someone would abandon $5,000 in free cash for only four hours of work. It was the equivalent of me paying that person $1,250 per hour to do what needed be done to get that book ready for our professional publishing process; and yet, this contestant still wouldn’t (couldn’t?) do it: nor would any of the others.

The Conclusion

I’ve come to realize that an author’s procrastination has very little to do with him or her being too frugal to invest the amount of money that is necessary to produce a professional quality book; because, even when given the opportunity to do it for free, many people still can’t bring themselves to do it. And it has even less to do with simple laziness. This is about fear. Only an intense fear of something can prevent an author from publishing and selling his or her book. But a fear of what? That’s the question.

Or maybe a more accurate way to word that question would be, “What exactly causes fear?” And perhaps the answer is simple genetics—a surplus, irrational “fight or flight” survival instinct that is still present in the human brain even after thousands of years of evolution. According to an article titled The Brain from Top to Bottom, written by Bruno Dubuc and posted on McGill University’s website,

The first time you observe the anatomy of the human brain, its many folds and overlapping structures can seem very confusing, and you may wonder what they all mean. But just like the anatomy of any other organ or organism, the anatomy of the brain becomes much clearer and more meaningful when you examine it in light of the evolutionary processes that created it.

Dubuc goes on to compare the three components of the human brain: the reptilian brain; the limbic brain; and the neocortex. Of these three components,

The reptilian brain, the oldest of the three, controls the body’s vital functions such as heart rate, breathing, body temperature and balance. Our reptilian brain includes the main structures found in a reptile’s brain: the brainstem and the cerebellum. The reptilian brain is reliable but tends to be somewhat rigid and compulsive.

Your unconscious, compulsive, automatic fear of things unknown is created in the reptilian portion of your brain. It’s purely instinctual, just like reptiles. They don’t “think” or “rationalize” things through. Nor do they have any sort of emotional response to things. Reptiles simply react out of their natural survival instinct. When they are faced with a common situation that’s known to them, they either live in/on it . . . or they eat it. When they are faced with a potentially threatening (unknown) situation, they run and hide. Theirs is a pretty simple, straightforward existence.

Instinct is a good thing that serves a valid purpose in our lives. God gave us all an instinct for a reason, and we should pay attention to it; but, whenever your fear of the unknown has you avoiding potentially advantageous opportunities simply because they’re new to you, I encourage you to consult with your more evolutionarily advanced neocortex—the logical, rational portion of your brain—by writing your fears down. Articulate them to yourself in writing. Read them out loud to yourself. When you do this, you’ll begin to see just how irrational many of those fears really are.

There are the fears that come up before you’ve published your book, and then the ones that creep in during the publishing process itself. And if that’s not enough, once you get past those and actually publish your book, then there’s the fear of book sales and marketing to contend with—the anxiety you feel at the idea of exposing yourself publicly. Julia Cameron put it best in her book titled The Artist’s Way when she wrote:

Do not call procrastination laziness. Call it fear. Fear is what blocks an artist. The fear of not being good enough. The fear of not finishing. The fear of failure and of success. The fear of beginning at all. There is only one cure for fear. The cure is love. Use love for your artist to cure its fear.

All of your concerns about book publishing, sales, and marketing are variations of the exact same thing: the reptilian brain’s unconscious, automatic “fight or flight” survival instinct triggered by its fear of the unknown and coupled with its inability to feel love. That’s it. That’s the cause right there.

My goal in writing this blog entry is to do my best to put your reptilian mind at ease so you can use your neocortex more effectively in the successful publishing, sales, and marketing of your book. In fact, you’re going to use more than your logical neocortex. You’re also going to learn how to put your emotional limbic brain to good use so you can appeal to others’ limbic brains to get them to buy your book after its been published.

As Zig Ziglar, a well-known and often-quoted American author, salesman, and motivational speaker, so aptly stated, “People don’t buy for logical reasons. They buy for emotional reasons.” The most effective salespeople appeal to their customers’ emotions to sell their products and services. I hope to teach you some effective ways to do this so you can publish that book at long last and enjoy more commercial sales success as an author. That is my intention.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2016 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

How to Market and Sell Your Book in Only One Hour Per Day

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

For some, the idea of authors selling their own books may seem to be an impractical notion cooked up by contemporary publishing gurus who lack the same influence within the book supply chain as the traditional trade publishers have. For some, the belief is still held that, as purveyors of the greatest literary writers, trade publishers will do (and always have done) all the work for their authors because they’ve carefully selected only the crème de la crème … the sure sellers that will guarantee a profit for them.

In his 2013 Forbes article titled How To Market And Sell Your Book In Five Steps, Nick Morgan, comments that:

…most authors – naturally enough – are focused on the book, not on what happens after completing it. It’s enough to get the book over the finish line, the typical author thinks, let the publisher worry about marketing and selling the book. That’s human nature and it makes sense, but it’s not enough in the world we live in now. There are simply too many books published each year – a million or more in the US alone – to rely on destiny, or fate, or even good word of mouth to get your book the attention it deserves. And you certainly can’t rely on the publisher.

He nails it right on the head … except for the “in the world we live in now” portion. The truth is, it was always this way for the majority of authors. Even back in the day.

The Myth Debunked by Trade Publishers Themselves

For those who balk at the idea of self-promotion because they believe it is their publisher’s sole responsibility to promote their books on their behalf—and that all traditional publishers will take care of it for them all the time—think again. Even the Association of Canadian Publishers will tell you otherwise:

Many publishers have a publicity department that will handle this while the book is on the front list. However, once the next season is published, or you have published the book on your own, the job of getting publicity exposure for the book falls to the authors themselves.

And Canada isn’t alone in this. Not by a long shot. Even the Big Five—Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Hachette, Macmillan, and Simon & Schuster—admit they focus primarily on their front list titles; and, once those books fall to the back list, the responsibility of continued promotion falls to the author.

Based on the common twice-yearly publishing schedule followed by most trade publishers (spring and autumn), I figured that the average book would be considered a front list title for only six months which means it has a shelf life of only six months. After that, the author is on his or her own to continue selling it. I’ve since learned that my six-month guesstimate was actually quite idealistic after picking up a well-researched book by John B. Thompson titled Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in the Twenty-First Century. He delves even deeper into a trade publisher’s publicity, sales, and marketing budgets than I did in my last three books:

Today more than ever, a writer’s career is always hanging in the balance, rising and falling with the sales of their most recent books and always at risk of being curtailed by a disappointing track. Careers cut short and writers cut loose are among the prices to be paid for the logic of the field. They are the human costs of an industry where numbers rule in the end and where short-term growth and bottom-line profitability have come to assume more and more importance in the practical calculations of the major houses.

You would think that the major publishing houses with the larger budgets would be able to spend more money on promoting and selling all their books; but, the fact is, they are under even greater pressure from their parent corporations to watch their spend and focus primarily on what they consider the “big books” (which do not necessarily equate to “great literary works”) that can generate the most profit for them. The result, according to Thompson’s research, is an even shorter shelf life for the majority of books by the majority of authors:

As soon as a book shows signs that it’s going to take off, the sales, marketing and publicity operations mobilize behind it and look for ways to support it with extra advertising, trying to get more radio and TV appearances, extending the author’s tour or putting together a new tour to cities where the book is doing particularly well, and so on. … the sales, marketing and publicity operations are geared and resourced in such a way that, when they see that a fire is starting to ignite, they are able to pour generous quantities of fuel on the flames. … But if further appeals fall on deaf ears and sales fail to pick up, then the marketing and publicity effort will be wound up pretty quickly – ‘In two to three weeks we might pull the plug,’ … So how long does a book have out there in the marketplace to show signs of life? How many weeks before it becomes a dead fish that will be left to float downstream? … I would say the life of a book today is about six weeks. And quite frankly it’s even shorter than that, but you probably have six weeks and that’s it.

So we’ve gone from a six-month shelf life to a six-week shelf life with the larger, corporate publishers. Then the ball is back in the author’s court. Yikes! Scary stuff. There has to be a better way, right? I believe there is, and I’ve made it my life’s mission to help authors take control of their own book sales and marketing efforts so they can enjoy more commercial success.

Successful Selling Tips for Introverted Authors

Not all authors are introverts, but all authors can benefit from online marketing. And it only takes one hour per day, six days per week, to get the ball rolling. That’s it, that’s all. Truth.

Whether a book was self-published or produced by a traditional trade publisher, there are some effective ways the author can boost its sales that will fit well with both introverted and extroverted personality types. And here’s the best news yet: it’s possible to successfully market and sell your book using nothing more than a comfortable chair in your favourite writing room, a laptop, an Internet connection, and your own God-given talent to write.

So, what is stopping authors from moving ahead with this? That’s the question I asked myself when I wrote my most recent educational resource guide to complement my sales coaching for authors classes. Maybe you will recognize yourself in this chapter: Is this you? If it is, that’s okay. We’ll work together to overcome your fears and teach you how to sell your own book. You may just surprise yourself with what you’re capable of once you start this sales coaching for authors program.

I sincerely hope you will give it a try. I created the program specifically for you.

Educational Resources for Authors

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2016 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

A New Year’s Resolution for Authors

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

With January 1, 2017, fast approaching, many of us are thinking ahead to our New Year’s Resolutions. What better time is there for authors to set their book sales and marketing goals?

Make this commitment to yourself today: “I’m going to dedicate at least one hour per day, six days per week for the next full year, toward the advertising, sales, and marketing of my book. No matter what happens, I will spend a minimum of six hours per week, every single week for the next full year, toward the advertising, sales, and marketing of my book. I promise this to myself.” This is a small commitment of time that is totally doable. Agreed?

Attach Emotions to Your Goals

I set goals for every single one of my books, and I attach strong emotions to each of those goals. Why do I do this? Because the only way to reach a destination is to first figure out where you’re going; and if you give yourself a compelling enough reason to get there that really excites your senses, you’ll be that much more committed to making it happen. The rest (the hows) always seem to fall into place once you’ve made that firm decision inside your mind.

It’s not for me to advise you what your goal should be nor why you should want to achieve it. That’s a very personal thing that is different for every person and every book. It’s entirely your choice. My intention is simply to plant some seeds of possibility in your mind, to get you thinking about where and how you might increase the sales of your book. Achieve one goal for yourself, and you’ll be fearless about setting and achieving more in the future because you’ll know you can do it. You’ll have proven it to yourself.

Four Sample Goals for Four Imaginary Authors

On that note, here in an excerpt from my recent book titled Successful Selling Tips for Introverted Authors discussing four sample books published in four different formats by four different imaginary authors. I’ve set unique goals for each author, along with his or her own compelling “why,” to help get you started on yours by awakening the creative flow within.

  • SAMPLE NON-FICTION BOOK GOALS

    Self-published ebook cookbook titled The Cheesecake Doctrine

    This ebook was self-published on KoboBooks.com with worldwide geographic rights (meaning it is available for sale around the world in Kobo’s .EPUB format through any of Kobo’s various applications and devices such as desktops, ereaders, tablets, IOS, Android, Blackberry, and Windows). The royalty rate the author can expect to earn from KoboBooks (Kobo, 2015) is 70 percent of the listed retail price she has chosen for her book, so she has set it at $34.99 CDN for an expected gross profit of roughly $24.50 CDN per book. (She has converted that price to match the currency in each country where she’s selling this book: for example, it sells for $28.99 USD in America, £18.77 GBP in the United Kingdom, and EUR 25.83 in France based on today’s market prices.)

    As a Canadian girl who sets her goals in Canadian prices, she plans to sell 20 copies of this ebook every month this year so she can earn the equivalent of $490 CDN per month in gross profit (for a total sale of 240 ebooks at $5,880 CDN for the year). She plans to use this extra income to pay for a long-desired tropical vacation in Bora Bora next year. She’s wanted to go to Bora Bora since she could remember!

    Self-published paperback self-help book titled Quick and Easy Hairstyling Tips for Teens

    This paperback was self-published on Amazon’s CreateSpace.com for distribution on Amazon.com throughout the United States alone. The royalty rate the author can expect to earn when pricing this book at $8.99 USD is $2.34 USD per book after the distributor’s cut and other fees such as POD printing costs are first deducted (CreateSpace, 2015).

    This author plans to sell 100 copies of this paperback every month this year so she can earn $234 per month in gross profit (for a total sale of 1,200 paperbacks at $2,808 USD for the year). She plans to donate this income to her local youth homeless shelter to help provide the basic necessities of life for its teenage residents as they struggle to complete their educations. She’s always been grateful to the family who provided these things to her while she went through hairdressing school, and now she wants to pay it forward.
    . 
  • SAMPLE FICTION BOOK GOALS

    Fictional novella audiobook titled The Path Less Worn

    This fictional novella is based on an inspirational true story about a thirty-year-old man who overcame incredible odds to build a successful health supplement business from humble beginnings as an underprivileged orphan. It was originally produced as a professional quality pocketbook paperback and ebook by a supportive self-publishing house on behalf of its author. The same company has now helped him convert it into audiobook format, complete with a professional voiceover and high definition soundtrack, and has published it nonexclusively to Audible, Amazon, and iTunes via ACX, an Amazon Platform that will pay royalties for any copies sold (ACX, 2015).

    The original 4.37 x 7-inch novella was designed to be carried in one’s coat pocket for easy accessibility to inspirational reading even when travelling. Due to the pocketbook format, the author set a “pocketsize” retail price to match it: $4.99 USD per copy for both the ebook and the paperback version. For consistency, the audiobook is priced the same. Based on the publishing agreement in place, the gross profit the supportive self-publishing house, Polished Publishing Group (2015b) will earn by distributing this book online on behalf of this author is 25 percent of the list price, for a total of $1.25 per book. The author, in turn, will take home 40 percent of the $1.25 for a total gross profit of 50¢ per book.

    Luckily, because this author published through a supportive self publishing house, he has retained 100 percent copyright ownership of his entire end product (the words and the artwork produced for him in all formats of the title) which allows him more control over where he sells his books and what retail price he chooses to sell them at. As such, this author has also decided to produce and sell CD copies of this audiobook direct from his own website, which is why he granted ACX only a non-exclusive contract rather than an exclusive contract through his publisher. If he had granted them an exclusive contract, then they would be the only ones who could sell his book online. Not even he, himself, could sell them direct elsewhere. By contrast, because he has retained his right to sell his audiobooks direct through his own website’s storefront, he will take home 100 percent of the profits from the directly sold copies: $4.99 per book. No middlemen to pay.

    What a difference in gross profit on the copies he sells direct! A much better margin, indeed! But it always helps to have extra distributors (particularly distributors with trusted brands) to help sell one’s books. Having an audiobook available for sale through Apple iTunes definitely lends even more credibility to the book, and the author recognizes that.

    On that note, this author has a goal to sell 1,000 copies of this audiobook every single month: He will sell 50 percent of them through Audible, Amazon, and iTunes at an expected gross profit of 50¢ USD per book, for a total of $250 USD per month; he’ll sell the other 50 percent of them direct at $4.99 USD per book, for a total of $2,495 per month. The grand total per month for those 1,000 books is $2,745 USD in gross profit. (The grand total per year for those 12,000 audiobooks is $32,940 in gross profit).

    This author’s compelling “why” is that he would love to continue working as a travelling health supplement salesman, inspirational speaker, and author, living life on his own terms rather than being chained to a nine-to-five desk job. This book is yet another new revenue stream for a business he loves and feels so passionate about and that allows him to inspire and empower others to achieve their own dreams, just as he and the protagonist in his fictional novella did.

    Limited edition hardcover children’s book about adoption titled A Family for Bailey

    This limited edition hardcover book was originally published and printed by a traditional trade publisher 10 years ago. Because it was trade published, the publisher owned the copyright of the book and paid this author only a small 8 percent royalty on the list price of $25 CDN, for a total of $2 CDN in gross profits per book for that author over the past decade. The copyright ownership of this title has now reverted back to the author, as per the original publishing contract. Five hundred unsold copies of the original 1,000-copy print run have been returned to the author from the publisher’s warehouse, and he is storing them in his garage. It’s now his responsibility to sell them. Luckily, because 100 percent copyright ownership has now returned to him, he will also enjoy 100 percent gross profits on all the copies he sells direct.

    These are high-quality, limited edition hardcovers—priceless keepsakes for adopted children and their adoptive families to commemorate their special bonds. This author has decided to sell the remaining books at the original recommended retail price of $25 CDN each (for a total of 500 hardcovers at $12,500 CDN for the year), and he plans to put these profits into savings for his own cherished adopted child to use toward her college education.

To discover how each of these authors will reach their book sales and marketing goals, and for help in developing your own effective plan, you can order in the above-mentioned book from any bookseller in your area. Or you can visit PPG’s website to sign up for the next Sales Coaching for Authors session that works best with your schedule.

Whatever you decide, I wish you every success with your book and a very Happy New Year! Thank you for visiting the PPG Publisher’s Blog.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2016 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.