Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Be an AUTHORity

An authority is an accepted source of information and advice, an expert on a particular subject. When you become an author, you are an authority. You are sharing your expertise with others as an indication of your authority in an area or situation. Granted, you might not be the only authority, but your knowledge, your years of experience, your confidence, and your willingness to share what you know position you as an authority. 
Three of the greatest assets you can have as an authority--and as you write your life--are:
  1. Knowledge
  2. Experience
  3. Confidence

Knowledge: Write what you know. List the points of knowledge you have gained in your life and your career and make those points the foundation of your book. No experience is a wasted experience if you gained knowledge from it.
Experience: Speaking of experience, the length of time you have spent doing something is valuable to others. No one wants to hear from a “Johnny come lately.” Readers, however, will respect your authority when they know you bring years of experience to the table.
Confidence: No matter how much knowledge or experience you have, if you lack confidence, your subject matter will fall flat. Develop a healthy confidence that you know what you know and that you are the best person to share that knowledge with your readers.
The tagline of my bi-weekly e-zine, Book Your Success, is “Be an Author. Be an Expert. Be Amazing.” In it, I share tips and resources to help aspiring authors write their books and become the expert or authority they hope to be. Sign up in the upper left corner to receive Book Your Success free twice a week, and look for some great tips to help you be an AUTHORity.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Strategies for Selling to Retail Bookstores

Every year, more than 400,000 new books find their way into print. What those who venture into the self-publishing arena are learning very quickly is that it is even harder to get your book on the shelf of  the few remaining large bookstore chains.
If a buyer at a major bookstore takes the time to look at your labor of love, he will ask: Who is going to buy this book? If he believes your book has a good shot in the marketplace, he will get into the details of where it might sell best and how many he might take a risk on.
So what can you do to improve your chances of being selected and improve the buyer’s chances of having backed a winner?
Before you get too far along into your new publishing venture, take the time to create a marketing plan for your book. Pay attention to the following:

1. Who Is the Target Audience for the Book?

What other books have succeeded/failed in your genre? What can you learn from the successes/failures of the other books? Know your target audience intimately.

2. Timing of Your Book’s Release

Is there a national or global event that could make your book launch more timely? Is there a certain month, season or holiday that offers a platform for your book release? 
Go into the bookstores in which you want your books sold and look at the books displayed during the year. Figure out where your book would fit in the product mix. In other words, understand the selling strategy of retailers you hope to do business with someday.

3. Promotion Hooks 

There will be hundreds of thousands of books competing for the same shelf space as yours. What are the angles that give your book an edge? 
Look at articles that have been written about books like yours. Identify journalists or bloggers that you feel will connect with your book. Then write up six or seven stories about your book or the making of your book that you think will be of interest to those writers. Being equipped with story ideas of your own may well inspire more and better articles.

4. Design of Your Book

I once worked for a very successful publishing mogul who never read a book in his life. He didn’t believe in PR or promotion either. All he cared about was what was on the cover. As much as I hated his lack of attention to the content, he taught me a lesson I have never forgotten: A cover can make or break a book.
I read a study once that showed it takes browsers 10 to 20 seconds on average to decide whether to purchase or re-shelve a book. That’s not a lot of time to grab a reader’s attention. Bottom line: You will never regret the time you invested designing your book and its cover.

5. What’s the Sell? 

The biggest difference between publishing and self-publishing is that the job of selling the book becomes the author’s job. And why not? No one’s voice is more passionate and inspiring than yours when it comes to your book. You dreamt it. You nurtured it. Now it’s time to sell it to the world. 
Imagine you are going into a sales meeting. Create a PowerPointTM presentation of no more than five or six pages that can be attached as a PDF to an e-mail. Your presentation should highlight the key selling points of your book in a powerful and memorable way. People have less time than ever these days, so make your points clearly and quickly. Practice your presentation until you can perform it perfectly.

6. Getting to the Buyer

There are a number of ways to identify the actual buyers for your book, either through the Internet or via the marketing department in your self-publishing houses. It’s important to start with a retail test market. Select bookstores in your neighborhood which you know friends and family will support. 
Once you have some sales, and hopefully re-orders, under your belt, you can start to build and expand your retail penetration further.
If you give serious consideration to the above process, I believe it will help you a great deal in laying the groundwork for a successful promotion and selling campaign.

Good Luck!

By C.M. Rubin, author of The Real Alice in Wonderland

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

How to Write a Great Book Title

It's all in a name. Your book's title has more than one function. Besides identifying your story, the title of a book has to attract attention and create interest.

When it comes to book sales, having the right title can make all the difference in the world. However, titling your book can be a challenge. On those rare occasions that the title comes to you before the story, or may even be the basis for the story, naming is easy. But most of the time, finding the most marketable title takes some work.

Keep Titles Short and Sweet

A title that is easy to remember is very important. Less is almost always more when titling. Using only a few words works best because people are usually scanning and will get bored or lost in a long title. The DaVinci Code is a good example of a short title. Dan Brown could have called the book The Fibannoci Follies; Solving Puzzles and Murders and Unveling Religious Secrets. While intriguing, it definitely would have been off-putting to anyone without an understanding of advanced mathmatics. Everyone's heard of DaVinci. Brown's title is descriptive and definitely conveys content, but at the same time peaks interest.

Picture This: Make Titles Descriptive

Obviously a good title should be descriptive. Fiction titles are generally more “creative” (for example, The Raw Shark Texts, A Novel by Steven Hall) or adventurous than non-fiction. But there are exceptions, (as in Steven Colbert’s I am America, and So Can You!). Generally speaking though, non-fiction titles should convey the content (Personal Finance for Dummies by Eric Tysson). In fact, most of the "Dummies" books utilize the art of description as well as the short and sweet principal, a formula that works well.

Find intriguing aspects of your story that your readers can visualize and use those words in the title.

Interview Yourself

Even the greatest authors have struggled with what to call their work of art. F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby was originally called Trimalchio in West Egg. If you've tried and tried and still can't come up with a good descriptive title, ask yourself these questions:
  • What would someone type into a search engine to find a book similar to mine? Using the "keywords" that you would type, formulate a title to encompass the words. Open up your thesaurus and find more interesting words than commonly used (but not too unusual, you still want them to be recognizable).
  • Why would someone want to read my story? What makes it interesting. What are the key elements (without giving too much away). Answer your question with a title.
Remember, titles aren’t copyrighted. The title you select may very well be in use. That doesn’t mean you can’t use it, but to avoid confusion, you may want to rethink the wording. Global Books in Print is a comprehensive bibliographic tool with millions of titles in the database.

Be Prepared to Change Your Title

The title of your book may be very personal for you, but don’t be surprised if your editor or publisher has a different title in mind. This happens more often than not, and while it may upset an author, usually the experts know best when marketing and publishing is involved. Part of entering into a publishing agreement is allowing editorial changes and relying on the expertise of the company with which you form a business relationship. However, if keeping your title in tact is near and dear to your heart, make sure to discuss your requirements before signing any contracts or deals and request that your title remain as you have it as part of your negotiations.

Courtesy of Suite 101

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Five Tips for a Successful Book Signing

I’ve attended many book signings in my life, and for the most part they’re all pretty much the same. The author sets up a table at a book store, lays out a few books, waits for people to stop by the table to ask about the book, maybe reads a few pages and hopes someone eventually buys a book. It can be a lonely experience sitting there smiling as patrons walk past your table in search of the music section or the magazine section or the latest calendar featuring kittens or teddy bears. It’s a lot of work to set up a book signing, and you want the results to be the most profitable for your investment of time and money. So how can you, as an author, make your book signings successful?
A successful book signing goes beyond ordering enough books, having a competent book seller, publicizing it and signing books. Some of the most successful book signings I’ve planned and/or attended have included several unique elements. Perhaps not all at the same time, but some combination of these or other unique approaches have aided many a self-published author in selling dozens of books and gaining a loyal following of readers as the result of a book signing. 

Photo courtesy of
1. PLAN ahead. You knew I would say that since I’m all about planning. Aside from the elements mentioned above, research the location where your book signing will be held. Who frequents this place? What are the surrounding businesses and how can you tap into their customers? What is the average customer traffic on the day of the week you’re planning your book signing (ask the owner)? What else is happening in the city or on that day (check local calendars of events) and how can you steer some of those people to your book signing? 

2. Consider the LOCATION. I know that selecting a book store for your book signing seems like the most logical thing to do, but I often advise my clients against having book signings at book stores. Why? Because there’s too much competition with other books. Patrons are not coming into the book store that day to purchase your book, so actually, you’re a distraction or maybe a temptation. You’re like the gum rack at the check-out stand at the grocery store. If someone decides to purchase your book after they’ve bought what they really came there for, it’ll be a last-minute decision. But most likely, they’ll just pass you by because that’s not what they came there for. 

Another reason to think twice about book store book signings is that book store employees are often not very helpful to authors, especially self-published authors, who want to do book signings because the book stores don’t expect many sales. If, however, you are extremely well known in the area, are considered a celebrity or have a highly publicized (and might I add controversial) story, then perhaps your book store signing will succeed. Otherwise, select a unique location. 

Is yours a children’s book? Hold a book signing at a toy store. Have you written a guide to a better marriage? Set up shop at a bridal show. Is your book about travel? Get a table at the annual boat and RV show. Do you get the idea? 

Another thing to consider is having private book events. Find business or meet-up groups -- entrepreneurs, travel, parenting, newlyweds, girls night out, single dads, book or reading groups, etc. -- and ask to do a private book reading. Offer discounts if the group purchases a certain number of books. 
3. Think THEME. Create a theme around your book signing and tie it to the title or content of your book. If your masterpiece is about cooking, decorate your table with cookware, dress in a chef’s apron and hold a knife in your hand (okay, maybe a wooden spoon would be best). Better yet, give away novelty ink pens shaped like a spatula to anyone who purchases a book. It might sound silly, but it’ll capture a lot of attention if you're set up at a large venue. 

Is your book content about time management? There should be lots of clocks around your book signing display (maybe one that chimes to attract attention). Invite guests to complete an information post card, drop it in your clock-shaped bucket and draw a name each time the chimes sound (every 15 minutes or so). Winners must be present to win. But before you draw the winner, you give your 10-minute spiel about your book and even read a page. Draw one name and that person wins a pocket planner, your CD about time management and an ink pen, all engraved with your website. Do not give away your book. After all, that’s what you’ve come there to sell!

4. Get some HELP. By all means, do not try to conduct a book signing all by yourself. There’s nothing worse than watching an author struggle to set up her table, greet guests, read from her book, sign books, manage payments and break down the display all alone. Invite a friend, family member or even pay a competent assistant to help with all the logistics of your book signing. Develop a strategy for managing the signing of books and keeping track of sales if you have to manage that yourself. 

5. Finally, have FUN. Overall, book signings should be fun. This is a way to get you and your book some attention and to make sales. It’s about visibility and exposure for all of your hard work. So, you must have a positive attitude and high energy to make the experience fun for you and for others.