Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sell BOXES or TRUCKLOADS of Your Books

by Vanessa Lowry

Many think the hardest part of publishing a book is writing it, but that’s the easiest part for most authors. Marketing is equally important.

Even before you publish, think about who the primary reader of your book will be. Then identify companies who market to that demographic and could benefit from buying BOXES or even TRUCKLOADS of your book. Here are some ideas for generating special market sales.
Books sold to special markets are typically discounted from the retail price and/or offer customization of the book cover and possibly an interior page. With print-on-demand printing, you can even customize small quantities of 50 or 100 books affordably.
Can companies use your book as a training tool?
When re-releasing a new version of his book, Never Fry Bacon in the Nude, author Stone Payton contacted a company that uses his book in their sales training. He offered to customize the book by adding their company name to the front cover, replacing the ISBN on the back cover with their company logo and adding a page with a custom message from the president just after the title page. The company purchased 100 custom copies of Never Fry Bacon and gave the book to employees at the quarterly sales meeting.
As a supplement to his speaking fee, Stone also offers customized versions of his book to organizations that hire him for keynote presentations.
Do the companies mentioned in your book give out promotional items?
Approach those companies prominently and positively featured in the content of your book. Suggest a customized version of your book as their next tradeshow giveaway or to be packaged as a gift with purchase of a new product or service they are launching.
Does your book have a motivational message?
Approach top-level distributors in multi-level marketing (MLM) companies to purchase your book as a gift to those in their down-line. Rich Dad Poor Dad author Robert Kiyosaki encourages people to get into their own business. Bulk sales of his book to MLM distributors helped his book gain national exposure.
Is your book location specific?
TW Lawrence, author of an anthology of short stories titled Take Me to Texas, sold 100 copies of his book to a partner of a law firm in Texas. While he didn’t customize the cover or content of the book, each book was hand-signed specifically to each person on the attorney’s holiday gift list.

Get creative, think big and don’t be afraid to ask. Put on your marketing hat, or call a professional like Anita Paul or Vanessa Lowry to develop your strategy to sell boxes … or even truckloads … of your book. 

Vanessa Lowry is a marketing consultant, graphic designer, author, radio host and speaker. She leverages nearly 30 years of design and marketing expertise to support book authors who are self publishing.
Twitter @vanessalowry

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


This weekend, I took a road trip with my guy to Greensboro, North Carolina to attend an historic reenactment of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse. I’ve become quite a history buff over the past few years, discovering all sorts of facts about U.S. history that I never learned in school. Whenever we travel to these locales, I find it quite fascinating to see the historic reenactors who depict scenes, skirmishes, lifestyles, and events from the past. 

On this particular trip, I witnessed the reenactment of this deadly battle between British forces and American Colonists during the American Revolution. The narrator of the reenactment was dressed in a British Army uniform, much different from the outfit he has worn in the past when he narrates the event. Typically, he dresses in the uniform of the Americans of the 18th century, he explained. He mentioned that this year he wanted to share a different perspective of the battle. He went on to explain the strategy of the British to help the onlookers understand that, while the Americans won the ultimate fight for freedom, the British won at Guilford Courthouse. It’s always interesting to examine how the victors tell the story of their victories. The storyteller always has the best part of the story. In each case, it’s all about perspective.

Perspective in your book is important, not only for you, but for your readers. Are you writing from the perspective of a particular individual, group, or belief system? How do you determine from what perspective to write? Two things to consider when deciding on your perspective are: 1) who your ideal readers are; and 2) what you want your readers to think, feel, or do after reading your book. 

The perspective you choose for your book is heavily influenced by your ideal readers. After all, they’re the ones who will read your text. Are you hoping to entice, inform, inspire, or influence them? From what standpoint, knowledge level, or belief system are your readers approaching your book? You must know this if you’re to accomplish your goal of impacting them with your perspective.

How can you influence what your readers think, feel, and do after reading your book? Perspective gives readers an insight into the story being told or the information being presented. Rather than give readers the same perspective they could get in another book, surprise them by providing a different perspective or outlook on your subject. Let your book broaden the perspective your readers have of an issue and cause them to think or rethink their own belief system or knowledge of a topic.  

Perspective is a powerful tool that you should learn to use effectively as an author. Understand that everyone won’t agree with your take on things. Be okay with that, and share your perspective anyway.

What are some of your favorite books whose perspectives impacted you as a reader?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Date to Remember: The Ides of March

by Nanette Littlestone

“Beloved March, the herald of spring. Its gentle stirrings bring forth new awakenings.” When I think of spring I picture new buds on tree branches, flowers pushing through the earth, a hint of warmth in the air.

The month of March derives its name from the Latin Martius, which comes from the Roman god Mars. Best known as the god of war, he was also the god of fertility, a protector of cattle, and the god of spring. His parents were Jupiter and Juno, and he fathered Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome. 

All that is well and good, but not many people are familiar with the god or the founders of Rome. They are familiar, though, with an important day this month. A date before the Vernal Equinox. The 15th.  The Ides of March.  

Originally, the Ides of March was the day of the full moon. This day corresponded to the 13th in most months of the Roman calendar, with the exception of the 15th of March, May, July, and October. The reason we know about the Ides of March is largely due to William Shakespeare and his play about Julius Caesar. The words from the play that live on in our minds are as follows: 

            Caesar: Who is it in the press that calls on me?
            I hear a tongue shriller than all the music
            Cry “Caesar!” Speak, Caesar is turn’d to hear. 

            Soothsayer: Beware the ides of March. 

            Caesar: What man is that? 

            Brutus: A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March. 

Caesar was assassinated on the ides of March, stabbed to death in the Senate at the hands of his friend Brutus and others. Directly after Caesar’s death, the phrase “the Ides of March” came to represent the assassination and the betrayal of Brutus. When we hear that phrase today we think of secret plots and vengeance and murder. 

Are there important dates in your story? Something that coincides with revenge? Or murder? Perhaps there was a famous wedding, or a birthday. Can you place your characters in an event readers will recognize? If you’re writing historical fiction, look at the timeframe around your story. Search out details you can weave into your narrative to give your readers a sense of time and place. If you’re writing something contemporary, dates are still important. The seasons give us a sense of change. Spring is an indicator of new growth, new beginnings. What changes are happening in your story? To your characters? 

Let history or current events give you the structure for something riveting. Then use your imagination to fill in the rest. In the meantime, steer clear of the 15th. You never know when Brutus might pop up.

Nanette Littlestone is a freelance editor, writing coach, and author who has worked with both fiction and nonfiction for 20 years. She specializes in helping authors to use their passion to achieve their own unique voice and message. For more information, please visit

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

10 Ways to Meet Deadlines

It seems that no one likes deadlines. Yet these dreaded due dates loom in practically every aspect of our lives. There’s a deadline for filing taxes, a deadline for taking advantage of offers, a deadline for event regitration, a deadline for refusing to do something, and even a deadline for responding to invitations (RSVP = respond si vous plait in French, or respond if you please).

So, how good are you at meeting deadlines? Well, you must first understand that a deadline represents the FINAL date at which you are to complete or respond to something. This does not mean that you have to wait until the deadline date; simply that the deadline is the last point at which you must act. Unfortunately, deadlines have become somewhat flexible in society, causing many to virtually ignore them. We’ve gone from due dates to deadlines to “drop dead” deadlines to final-final deadlines. 

Even with your book project, there are numerous deadlines to meet: the deadline to complete your book plan, to finish your book outline, to complete your manuscript, to edit or proof the document, to get the edited version to the printer, to send copies of your book to reviewers, etc., etc. Okay, you get the picture. 

Deadlines pop up everywhere in your book production process. The key is to figure out how to meet these deadlines in the most efficient way with the least amount of stress. Here are a few ways to help you meet the deadlines in your life:
  1. Start with a plan. So much of your success with meeting deadlines is contingent upon having a solid plan. Whether it’s a life plan, a business plan, a book plan, a marketing plan, or some other plan, you must know what you want to accomplish. Your plan should also include why you want it, how you plan to accomplish it, how much it will cost, how much time it will take, and what your results should be. Each of these elements is extremely important to helping you complete projects on time and seeing the success you expect from any activity you undertake. 
  2. Examine how realistic the deadline is based on the other activities in your life. If you know for sure that you can’t meet the deadline, try to change it; the sooner, the better.
  3. Prioritize the deadlines you must meet, not in order of the deadline itself, but in order of its importance to your ultimate goals. If completing your book is most important to you, look at the deadlines that relate to that project. Prioritize those first, in order of the deadlines. Then, take the next most important goal in your life and prioritize those deadlines. Perhaps generating more revenue or income is the next most important item for you. Look at the deadlines that relate to revenue-generating items and prioritize those by the deadlines. 
  4. Take one bite at a time. As the saying goes: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Okay, maybe elephant soup isn’t on your task list, but when you have big projects with short deadlines, or several projects with tight deadlines, it’s often easier to view them one task at a time. This is where your plan really helps. Setting a start and complete deadline for each task will help lead you through the process in an efficient and timely manner.
  5. Focus on one thing at a time. When you spring into action, try to focus on the activities of one deadline at a time. Multi-tasking is great, but it can be distracting and cost you more time in the long run. Focus on one deadline-driven activity at a time. Make progress, and then, if needed, switch your entire focus to another deadline-driven activity. Avoid trying to do several activities at the same time. 
  6. Get help. Doing it all yourself is a recipe for disaster, especially when you have a multitude of things to do (and don’t we all?). Get off your high horse and enlist the expertise or assistance of others. You’ll likely find that delegating can help you meet the deadline sooner than you would trying to go it alone.
  7. Set reminders, either manual or electronic. These are excellent ways to remain on track with accomplishing tasks and meeting deadlines. Use an electronic task list with reminders that pop up onscreen. Post sticky notes in obvious places. Write key dates or activities on a dry-erase board or calendar. Create “tickler” files in your filing cabinet that show dates of the month and include activities for each date. Make a handwritten to-do list and keep it in your wallet, purse, or car.  
  8. Cheat. If you know that procrastination is an issue for you, cheat a little. Set your personal deadline two weeks or so prior to the actual deadline. This way, you should feel the pressure to get the task done sooner. And seeing that you’re going to procrastinate anyway, you have a few extra weeks or days to get it done on time.
  9. Examine how you feel about the deadline. Honestly, there are times when you will view deadlines as stupid, limiting, distracting, or unnecessary. Consider why you feel that way. It could be that you have no connection to the project or the outcome, or that the WIIFM (what’s in it for me?) isn’t obvious. In this case, review the task, find at least one benefit that you could achieve (even if it’s the experience), then change your attitude and get ‘er done. Think about it this way: It’s only going to hurt for a little while!
  10. Learn to say no. Seriously, you can’t do it all. Biting off more than you can chew only leads to indigestion, exhaustion, and a really bad reputation. Learn to say no to new projects that interfere with what you’re already doing. Offering people options is one of the easiest ways to say no. When asked to meet a deadline that you know you can’t meet, your answer could be: “Sorry, I can’t help with that project because it doesn’t fit into my business model (or my life plan);” or “I can’t meet that deadline, but I could have it to you two weeks after that;” or “I’m unable to do it, but I know someone who could help you.”
See how easy some of these strategies are? Try out a few and watch your ability to meet deadlines increase! 

What are some of your strategies for meeting deadlines?