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!
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.
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!
Make Your Hero Suffer
Do you have a novel or short story that seems a little flat? Are you looking for that extra twist? Find out what it takes to make your story a page-turner that will be remembered long after the last page is read.
Even the best fiction writers find it difficult to step back and view their novel objectively. Oftentimes the problem is that the author is affectionately attached to the hero in their story. Let’s face it, a good fiction writer spends hours and days and weeks developing the persona of their main character. That hero or heroine gets under your skin as you type, marches through your frontal lobes while you’re sipping coffee, and can even make an appearance in your dreams!
Before you get too attached to your main character, remember that it is vital that your knight in shining armor or your princess in the castle tower must suffer substantially or your reader will become bored. There are basically two types of suffering that your hero must endure to make your manuscript strong:
- Inner Conflict—what personal issues is your reader struggling with? Perhaps your heroine suffers disappointment, suicidal thoughts, anger with authority figures, rejection, grief, loss, unforgiveness, or some larger-than-life emotion that the hero just can’t seem to shake.
- Outer Conflict—what is “attacking” your character from the outside? Your hero or heroine may experience job loss, an accident, ridicule, betrayal, loss of a loved one, a handicap, or house fire.
Make the reader care about your main character—and after he suffers a good deal in the beginning of your story, you must surprise your reader with yet another round of the “unfair” hard balls that life keeps throwing at him. Each new hardship should twist the knife into the heart of your heroine’s inner conflict. The clashes build until your hero’s dream seems impossible to reach. At that point, your hero is tempted to quit and even considers it for a while. In the end, what makes the hero the hero is that he doesn’t quit and even at a great risk to himself, he pursues the dream of his heart. And that’s the content that will create the page-turner fiction that entertains, inspires, and brings readers back for more.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
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 . . .
September 25, 2012
Merriam Webster’s 11th Edition defines writer’s block as a psychological inhibition preventing a writer from proceeding with a piece. Well said. It’s too bad there’s not an entry for writer’s block cure.
In order to cure writer’s block, let’s take a look at what may be inhibiting us from moving forward.
Warning Signs of Writer’s Block:
- You’ve gotten bored with your topic.
Warning signs—Your head’s back in the refrigerator even though you’re not hungry, you forgot to write down your initial brainstorm, Solitaire is calling your name, or you find the remote control in your hand again.
- You’re stressed out about the looming deadline or the subject material itself.
Warning signs—You find yourself downing coffee at midnight, you repeatedly check the time, or you’ve nervously started an email to your editor to ask for more time, then quickly hit delete—and check the clock again.
- You neglected to research your material and it’s catching up with you.
Warning signs—You lost your library card, your google history is falling way below your bottom tool bar, or you are rubbing your temples because all this research reminds you of the English teacher who didn’t like you.
- You keep imagining a particular friend or family member reading your book and afraid of how he or she will respond.
Warning signs—You’re intimidated at the thought of sending them the first chapter for their approval, you think about sending them flowers every time you pass the local flower shop, and you’ve mulled over a pseudonym to use for just this book so they’ll never know you wrote this one.
- You know what you want to say but don’t know how to get there.
Warning signs—You forgot to outline your book or your son’s garage band somehow chose your writing schedule to practice this month.
If you can relate to a few of these warning signs of writer’s block, take heart. Here are a few cures that have helped writers overcome the pressing weight (or wait) of writer’s block:
- Let the manuscript cool for at least a week. After weeks of pounding the keyboard, it can be of a great benefit to you to pause, step back, and put the book down for a while. Let it go. Forget about it. You’ll return a week or two later with a fresh point of view.
- Read the last two chapters out loud. If you’re stuck, chances are you’ve blended a few thoughts or scenes that seem tangled to you. Read the last few chapters out loud—your ear may be just the tutor you need to hit the restart button.
- Skip the chapter where you are stuck and tackle the chapter that is inside of you right now. Writing does not have to be done chronologically. Whether you’re tackling a fiction or nonfiction project, get back into the flow by doing the chapter or section of the book that you think about the most and get those creative juices flowing again!
Lately, it seems I’ve been presented with title after title that stirs within me a resounding, wait for it…yawn! That’s right, most book titles are downright boring. Don’t get me wrong, in most cases, there’s a powerful, compelling, helpful message inside the pages. It’s just that most readers won’t ever get that far.
So what’s the secret to crafting a compelling title. What I’m about to tell you applies to book titles, product titles, headlines for magazine and blog articles as well.
1. Be Intriguing. Some headlines or titles tell me all I need to know about what’s inside. They may be factual, but their thoroughly unoriginal. Say something that will make me stop and say “Huh?” or “Hmmm.” Stop Complaining and Start Living. In traditional marketing thinking, there’s nothing wrong with this title. It’s clear. It promises a distinct benefit. It has a nice rhythm to it. But what’s missing is the intrigue. I don’t feel I need to read this book because I already know what it’s about. Now if the title were How Complaining is Killing You or The Unexpected Secret to Living Well, well now you’ve got me curious enough to at least pick up the book, flip it over to the back cover and read more.
2. Be Contrarian. Don’t always say the expected. Often times, taking an opposing or off-beat approach to a topic is a key to getting noticed, getting media attention and standing out. If everyone is telling you that short headlines sell, then a title that reads; The Surprising Truth About Long Headlines and How You Can Use Them to Build Your Business, can set you apart from your peers and help you get noticed and build your audience. Of course, you don’t want to be so “out there” that you look like an idiot. But often times, there are powerful nuggets of truth in the minority opinions and less common wisdom. Step back and take a fresh look at your subject or industry and make note of all the traditional wisdom. Now look for key aspects of that wisdom and find subtle distinctions or anomalies that can be expanded upon.
3. Be Unique. Sometimes it’s not what you say, but how you say it that makes a difference. Consider the book Freakonomics. That’s a one-word book titles that’s not even a word. But I was in an airport and that title (coupled with a day-glow orange cover) caught my attention and made me stop and pick up the book, which I eventually read. Look for unique ways to describe a situation, product, service, problem or opportunity. As is often the case, it’s not what you say, but how you say it that makes all the difference.
Stay tuned, more keys to beating the boredom blues coming. In the meantime, if you’d like some help in crafting winning titles and compelling copy, call us.
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!
I know you are writing your story, your novel, your television script, or your advertising copy to be embraced by the masses, but let’s put that out of our minds for just a minute and focus instead on talking to just one person.
The more personal your communication, the better. I mean, isn’t that always the case?
When you get two letters in the mail, aren’t you more inclined to open the one addressed to you instead of “Dear Resident”? When you’re walking down the street, aren’t you more likely to turn around when someone calls your name instead of shouting, “Hey guys!”
People don’t want to be talked at. They want to be talked to. Yet I continually read manuscripts and come across advertisements or marketing efforts that address people, not a person.
This works in public speaking, too. Good speakers master the art of making eye contact in such a way that makes each person in the room feel like they are the only one there.
So, who is that specific person you’re addressing with your own message? Can you visualize them in your mind?
How might having one person specifically in mind affect the quality of your message and what you have to say?