HigherLife Blog

#5 Establish a Publicity Strategy

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Strictly speaking, publicity doesn’t sell books. It’s not one of your four main sales channels. But publicity is incredibly important in terms of creating awareness of you and your book and is a very effective strategy to incorporate into the overall mix of your marketing and sales efforts.

In general you want to use publicity for the following:

1. To make people aware of your book’s message and how it will help them

2. To establish you as a credible “thought leader” about your topic

The results you want to see from your publicity efforts should be:

1. An endorsement or plug for you or your book (e.g., a positive book review)

2. A forum to talk about your message and the benefit it brings the reader (e.g., an article quote, a radio interview, a television interview, a speaking engagement)

The best way to get significant publicity for you and your book is to hire a publicist or publicity firm to work with you. Most typically a publicist will want a 4-6 month engagement to bother working with you. At HigherLife we’ve vetted several top publicity firms and can set you up with one that will meet your needs and fit within your budget.

Some publicity strategies may focus on generating internet connections for you, getting popular bloggers to write about your book or excerpt your book as a guest blog. Other publicists are stronger in getting radio and television interviews set up for you. Still others specialize in generating newspaper and magazine articles about you and your message. Ideally you want to get as much publicity as possible.

One key to remember though…in every media engagement you get, always make sure you have a strong call to action. Make sure you do or say something that will motivate the audience to respond. Just because you are interviewed on Good Morning America or some major media outlet, no matter how charming or engaging you are, if the interview doesn’t motivate people to call in to order your book, or go on line to order it, pick up a copy at the local bookstore or download the eBook, then all that publicity, while great for your ego, doesn’t translate into book sales!

#4 Buy Multiple Domains

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Even if you already have a personal or professional website, it is a great idea to purchase multiple web domain names for your book. You can then develop multiple micro-sites that each share content from your book or you can have one primary website with multiple URLs that point to that same site. Depending upon your topic and strategy, either can work. You want to make it as easy as possible for a potential buyer/reader to find your book and you.

Buying website names is both easy and challenging. The actual process of searching and purchasing a website URL is easy. At HigherLife we can do this for you or you can go to a website such as www.godaddy.com to purchase your domain names. At the same time, getting the right domain name is challenging because you may quickly discover that “all the good ones are taken”. Well, all the “good” ones aren’t taken, but most of the obvious ones are. It is time to put on your creative hat again and get brainstorming.

Think of all the creative ways to incorporate your book title, as well as your message, into your domain name. Don’t forget to think not only of the title of your book but the message and benefit of your book. For example, if you have written a book about goat farming, www.goatfarming.com is likely taken. But how about www.goatfarmingforprofit.com or www.goatfarminigsecrets.com or www.theincrediblegoatfarmer.com or www.goatfarmuniversity.com or www.yourgoatfarmingbusiness.com? You get my point.

It is possible to buy a domain name already owned by someone else. If you just know in your heart that you have the perfect domain name, but someone has already purchased it, all hope is not lost. Many people purchase domain names in bulk speculating that someone will want it down the line, and be willing to pay for it. Generally, the shorter names are more expensive, while longer, more convoluted are less expensive. First, go to the website. If it is a genuine business that is currently in operation, you are likely out of luck, but if you don’t find an actual business, then find out who owns the domain (www.whois.net) and approach them with an offer. As with any business transaction, approach it with discretion and a reasonable amount of caution.

The Missing Link in Most Marketing Efforts

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The other day, I ran into one of our author clients at a charity event.  He said, “The publicist you connected me with is doing a great job of getting me media engagements but it’s not translating into people buying my books.”  Sound familiar?  You see marketing’s job, well good marketing, is to not only connect you with the right target audience, not only convey the core benefits that you have to offer, but do so in a way that compels them to respond.  Getting media exposure and creating brand awareness are good things…but at the end of the day, if they don’t translate into a sale, something’s wrong.

You have to remember that humans are subject to a law of physics called inertia.  Inertia essentially says that objects tend to stay in their present state until an overwhelming force causes them to do otherwise.  In marketing lingo, that means people essentially resist change and don’t want to make the commitment to buy something, to change their status, to let go of their hard-earned lunch money unless you give them an overwhelmingly compelling reason to do so. You have to give them a convincing “call to action” that moves them to respond.  You have to take away all their objections, and the little voices inside their head that tell them that it’s easier to do nothing than to pick up the phone and call or go on line and click or stand at the book table and pull out their credit card.

So how do you do that?  How do you move someone who likes your message, who suspects that if they read your book or bought your product, they’d be better off, how do you get them to actually buy?  Entire seminars are devoted to this topic, but here are a few very simple principles to try:

1. Make sure before you start your presentation or interview, you state clearly that you have authored this book (and hold it up it), explain in a simple “elevator speech” who the message is for and how it will help them, and that what you are about to share is a small sample of that information.  Connect the dots between your presentation and your product.  The more often you can make this connection, the better.

2. Be clear about how they can get the book, don’t be shy in specifically telling your audience what you want them to do and how to do it.  For example: “If you’d like to put these proven principles to work in your own life, all you have to do is go to my website at www.letmehelpyou.com and click on the special offer.”  Don’t assume your audience knows what to do.

3.  Give them some kind of time-sensitive incentive to buy now as opposed to later.  For example: “As my thank you for attending this seminar, I’ve agreed to give everyone who buys my book today, a copy of my bonus report “10 More Ways I Can Help You”.  You can take this bonus report home with you today.”

You wrote your book and created your message to bring value to people’s lives.  Now don’t be bashful in helping your audience get past their inertia and make the good decision to BUY!

Back Cover Copy—what is it and why is it important

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Well, first, think about how you buy a book. You pick it up, look at the cover, and if you like the visuals, title, and subtitle, you flip the book over and skim the back cover. This is the last piece of promotional material that has the potential to sell the book.

The back cover copy must pull you in and make you want to know more!

Contrary to what most people believe, back cover copy is not a summary of the book.  It’s the tease that draws the reader in and compels them to buy it right now! It should be provocative and engaging enough to hook a reader’s interest, yet not give away too much of the story. Who-what-where-when is a good journalistic formula, but for purposes of the back cover copy, it should only hint at what’s inside.

Think of the back cover copy as valuable real estate. There is only so much space, so you want to make sure that everything included sells your book. With that in mind, consider these things:

  • Hook prospective readers with a statistic, a shocking statement or a question that forces them to think. For example: What would you do if you and your family had to survive on $500 a month?
  • Think twice before you add your picture. If it doesn’t help sell your book (which it probably doesn’t if you’re an unknown or a first time author), don’t include it. If it means a lot to you, you can put it on the inside.
  • When writing your bio, stick to information about your background and credentials. Answer the question, why are you qualified to write this book?
  • The back cover is a good area to highlight reviews a book may have received, as well as promote the author. Try to stick to 2 – 3 sentences per review since space is limited.
  • Highlight what the reader can expect to learn from the content. This often is best achieved with bullet points. (Ironic, huh?)

Consider back cover copy to be the movie trailer or preview of your book. Based on the trailer, you will decide whether to see the movie, or not. The same holds true with your book. Your cover design and copy must entice readers and make them hungry for more.

If you need help creating compelling back cover copy that will hook readers and lead to more book sales, contact us. We have professional copywriters that would love to help you share your message with the world!

You Won’t Catch Any Fish In A Parking Lot…

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There’s an old saying: “If you want to catch fish, go where the fish are.” The marketing and publishing corollary to that saying is, “If you want to reach your audience, you need to capture their attention in the way they prefer to be reached.”

Maybe you like reading the newspaper. Great. But does your target audience? If you’re trying to reach teenagers or 20-somethings, a full-page advertorial or feature article in a newspaper won’t gain you much ground.

For a younger audience, you have to make use of online social tools, like Facebook or YouTube or an iPhone app. If you’re trying to reach stay-at-home moms, think about where they hang out. They get a lot of information from online “mommy bloggers,” so perhaps you’ll go after a chance to be interviewed by one of those sources.

My point is simply this.

You need to tailor not only the style and presentation of your message to your target audience, but you also have to deliver that message through the mediums your audience already uses.

Need help figuring all that out? Let us know. We love getting helpful messages out to a culture that needs to receive them, in whatever forms and formats make the most sense.

Chapter 1, First Paragraph, First Page

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When a customer walks into a bookstore, whether it’s virtual or brick and mortar, there is a typical process she will go through in deciding if the book she’s looking at is one she may choose to purchase.

  1. First, she will typically look at the front cover and title.  People tell you don’t judge a book by its cover, but a bookstore manager will tell you that shabby covers don’t sell well.
  2. Next, the customer will usually turn the book over (or scroll down) to read the back cover copy, which should not just describe the contents of the book but appeal to the felt need of the reader.
  3. If the front cover and back cover copy grab her attention, she will open the book to the first page of the first chapter and read the first few lines.

And that’s where you come in.  Except for the back cover copy of your book (which is usually written by your publisher’s professional marketing team), the first three sentences on the first page of your book are the most important sentences you will write.  This simple paragraph is the sales pitch to the reader.  Let’s say Jack just opened up the book.  Unless Jack is your dad or brother who will be proud of you for just putting something between the covers, he’s asking himself a few quick questions:

  • How will this book make my life better?
  • What does this book promise that will make me want to plunk down my hard-earned lunch money to pay for what you have to say?
  • Will it entertain me?  Will this book teach me something that I need in my life right now?

Page one of Chapter One is the place to shine.  Hook the reader into your message.  At this point in the sale, he will either to want to read more or snap/click the book shut.

Let’s take a look at one of HigherLife’s authors, Trevor Francis.  Trevor’s book, Try Higher, is a book on the calling of every Christian college student. Trevor could have started his first page, first paragraph like this:

“Colonial institutions of higher learning communicated a sense of nobility in their school mottos. “‘Veritas’ conveyed Harvard’s quest for truth, and ‘Lux et veritas’ (light and truth), Yale’s commitment to revelation and reason.” These campuses were concerned with the transcendental, the spiritual, during college.”

Would you buy a book that started out like that?  Probably not.  Instead, Trevor’s first paragraph looks like this:

Where are the spiritual leaders on college campuses?

Where are college students willing to write their own script instead of accepting what campus life hands them?

Where are students of clarity, initiative, and resolve?

Do you see the hook?  Can you feel Trevor’s passion to inspire today’s young adult to take the lead on their college campus?  That’s how your reader needs to feel when he picks up your book and reads the first paragraph of chapter one.  Grab him and make him want to turn the page!


(Click on the book to see it on Amazon or google “Trevor Francis” and buy the book from your favorite store.)

Where to Sell Your Book

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When it comes to selling books, everyone assumes the best place to start is the bookstores. After all, that’s why they exist — to sell books, right? While it’s true many books are sold through traditional bookstores, more books gets sold through “author-directed” sources — and usually at better profit margins for the author.

Let me suggest four main ways you can sell your book.

1. Traditional bookstores and their distributors. Book sales through these channels are usually referred to as “trade sales.” In addition, there are various big-box retail outlets (think Target, Sam’s Club, Costco, and Wal-Mart) that sell a lot of books and are considered trade sales, too. Your publisher will likely need to manage this sales channel for you, since publishers have direct relationships with distributors to those stores.

2. Events where you speak, do a workshop, exhibit, or present. If done properly, event sales will be your most profitable sales channel. After all, those who just heard you speak will feel quite connected to you and your message and will be motivated in the moment to learn more from you through your books.

3. The internet. With websites, social networks, blogs, and e-blasts, there are so many powerful and inexpensive ways to let more people know about you and what you have to offer them than you could ever meet in person. A well-executed internet strategy can drive business to your website to purchase your book.

4. Specialty sales outlets. Does your book have a niche market that gathers in a certain place? Think about the benefits of selling a golf book at a golf course pro shop or a cookbook at a farmer’s market. Perhaps a college professor of economics or business would value adding your book to their syllabus. How might a specialty sales location work well for your message?

I’ll let you in on a secret: the last three options listed above are the most beneficial sources of income for you, the author. Next week I’ll share with you why that is. Stay tuned . . .

Standing out from the crowd…

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A key aspect of successful marketing is differentiation…how to make yourself stand out from, not just your competition, but all the other distractions that may not be direct completion to your product or service. They do lay down a minefield of obstacles that can keep prospective customers from responding to YOU.

Here are three things to keep in mind.  I call them the three “R’s” of good branding.

Resonate – your message needs to resonate in the mind and heart of your target audience.  Your tag line, your central appeal, your book title needs to not just make sense inside the head of your consumers, it needs to create an image or an emotion.  Why was Chicken Soup For The Soul such a phenomenally popular series of books?  Was the wit and wisdom offered in those books really that compelling or different than the thousands of similar books that were published before?  Perhaps.  But the author’s were very smart in creating a title for their book that connected with their audience.  Think about it…chicken soup for your soul?  It doesn’t even make sense.  How many times has your soul cried out for soup of any kind?  And yet, when you read or say the phrase, you instinctively get it.  The same is true for John Grey’s book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.  The title doesn’t have to make sense…it just has to resonate in the mind and heart of the potential reader.

Repetition – you hear a message over and over and it will tend to have staying power.  Think of all the slogans and tag lines that you can recall.  We do chicken right.  Just do it.  Save money, live better.  Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.  Aflac!  Tastes great, less filling. Most of these tag lines you remember because you’ve heard them over and over.

Recall – if you have a tag line or title that resonates with your audience and they hear it enough times, you will create recall or remembering!  That’s what companies pay big bucks to creative agencies to come up with.  They understand that if consumers can remember their product or service the next time they need it, or simply are out shopping, that will translate into more sales….or if you want to stick with our “R” theme, RESPONSE, or RESULTS or REWARDS! (hey, I’m on a roll here.)

So when planning your marketing strategy, book title, campaign theme or slogan, start with thinking about what will create emotion and resonate in the heart and mind of the consumer.  Make sure they have ample opportunity to hear it over and over again. Do these first two “R’s” well and you’ve got a good shot at enjoying the benefits of the second two; recall and results!

If you would like us to help you with your brand strategies, call us.  We can help you, and your team, bring a new level of clarity and connection with your consumers!

Why Invest in a Manuscript Review?

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If you want your book to be at peak publishing potential, you need to ecstatically submit your completed manuscript to a professional editor for a Manuscript Review (MR).

Why ecstatic?  Because a professional editor’s review will be the best investment you’ve made since you wrote your last sentence.  Why?

  •  Your professional editor’s review will help you to improve and tighten your writing
  • A hard copy of the review is in your hands—you can read over it again and again to improve yourself as a writer and communicator
  • You will discover how to target your book more specifically to your audience
  • Our HigherLife publishing team will use this new information to help you bring your message to the next level
  • Whether you decide to publish with us or not, your professional editor will bring new thoughts to the table on how to market your book after publication

More specifically, here are a few of the questions that your editor will answer:

  •  Target audience: define it?  Consider age, ethnicity, gender, interests, spiritual maturity, family status, background.
  • How will this book help the reader?
  • Is the chapter organization clear and on-target?
  • How well the subject matter is covered?  What, if any, rewrites, additions, or deletions are needed?
  • What is the most unique, provocative, or interesting aspect of this book?
  • How marketable is this manuscript?

A couple of months ago, I asked one of our HigherLife authors if she felt her MR for her fiction work was worth the investment of $399.  I had to smile.  Lesley replied, “I am thrilled with the Manuscript Review.  Due to the paradigm shift I experienced from gaining understanding about the difference between telling and showing, I have gained momentum and seen the story come to

life as a result. I may even consider resubmitting the same manuscript when I am done with the rewrite.”

And Lesley is wonderful to work with as a new author.  She is “thick-skinned” and willing to take advice to improve her book, work and rework her manuscript, and go the distance in making her book shine.

HigherLife has a stable of professional editors who specialize in both fiction and nonfiction editing and it’s their job to know what works in book publishing today.  If you’ve written a book and would like to invest in a Manuscript Review with one of our professional editors, contact me at hope@ahigherlife.com.

Hard Back or Paper Back?

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Should your book be a paperback or a hardback?  What about the size of the book?  There’s no simple formula or cookie-cutter answer, but there are several factors that you should take into consideration:

1.  What will the market bear?  Is price a consideration?  Hardback books typically have a retail price of about $5-$7 higher than paperback.  And they will cost you probably only a couple bucks a book more to purchase, so financially, it would make sense to publish a hardback over a paperback right?  But if your audience has some price sensitivity, then going with a hardback book could cost you both in sales and influence with your audience.

One of our clients is a successful medical professional.  His book will appeal to other medical professionals (doctors, dentists etc).  That audience won’t flinch at spending $20-$25 for valuable information. But if you are competing for the attention and the dollars of a summer romance novel reading audience, think twice about going with a hardback.  Your audience may be willing to try something from an unknown author, but probably not willing to spend twice as much as they spend to purchase a mass market novel from a well-known author that only costs them $7.99.

2.  What is the value of the information?  Are you publishing exclusive information that is not readily available?  Then, you might be able to go with an oversized hardback and charge $29.95 and more for that information.  (Heck, some professional newsletters can cost hundreds of dollars a month and are nothing more than 4-8 pages long.)  But if that information can bring the reader hundreds maybe thousands of dollars of benefit, then the cost is clearly worth paying.

3. What is the value of the author?  The more well recognized the author, the easier it is to expect the audience to be willing to pay for the added expense of a hardback book.  Tim Tebow recently released his memoirs…don’t get me started on what a 24 year old kid has to share with the world…but he is a sports and media darling for a variety of reasons.  So, when his book came out, even though he’s a first time author, the publisher released it in hardback – and thousands of people stood in line for hours at a time waiting to buy a copy.

4.  The limited access to the material.  Why do you think college textbooks cost so much?  In part, it’s because the information is not intended for a mass market or widely read audience.  It’s targeting a specific type of student taking a specific course at a limited number of colleges and universities.

There are many, many other aspects that go into creating the “ideal” size, shape, thickness, cover design and yes, binding style of a book.  Does it need to fit into a purse or pocket?  Is it better to be an oversized book with a few words and big pictures (as a children’s book)?  Or will a manuscript that’s over 100,000 words appear too daunting a read if it’s too thick, so the publisher chooses a thinner paper stock and perhaps tighter margins in the interior layout.  Maybe it’s important to be a different trim size, well, just to be different.  Good publishing takes all the subtleties into account when determining the final specifications of a book.  You should, too.

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