It’s no secret that many people choose to self-publish because they can’t get a traditional publishing house to publish their book. Many times this is due to lack of a platform. More often it is due to less-than-stellar writing skills. A while back I was reading the blog post, Mystory, by author Rachel Starr Thomson. I was strangely inspired to discover that her latest release, Coming Day, was almost ten years in the making and went through approximately seven complete rewrites before making its debut. Rachel is a fabulous writer, and I think this is why. She knows when her work is not good enough to publish. Oh, that more writers were blessed with such sagacity!
Curious to learn more about the process of writing, editing, and bringing a book to completion, I asked Rachel to consider addressing this issue on her blog. I am thrilled that she has agreed to tackle this topic and has begun a series of posts called, When Is Your Writing Good Enough?. You can read part one on her blog for starters, but then stay tuned for what I’m sure will be a plethora of great thoughts and helpful advice for all aspiring authors! As I mentioned in my CD, Journey to Self Publishing, I employed upwards of 30 people in various aspects of editing my book, Pajama School. I’m excited because I think Rachel’s suggestions will not only provide valuable tips to pass on to editors, but may also help me reduce the number of editors to a figure as low as, say, 20 in the future… 🙂
According to Book Business, “The No. 1 reason people buy a new book is because it’s written by an author they like.” This statement was made in an article of Fourteen Tips to Increase E-book Sales in the latest issue of their bi-monthly magazine. Addressing the question, “Do book browsers convert to book buyers?”, writer Peter Hildick-Smith offers this tip: Play to your author’s strengths.
This is a fascinating insight, equally relevant in print books, because the number one frustration I have experienced in marketing my book – Pajama School – is that people express interest in reading it, but that interest rarely translates into sales. I knew it would be hard to break into the market as a new author, but I had no idea just how hard it would be! That’s probably why the above observation resonates so much with me.
What exactly does this mean for new authors? Apparently, somehow they have to get lots of people to like them. 🙂 How this translates in practice I really don’t know. But if you have any tips or thoughts you’d be willing to share on the subject, I’d love to hear them!
Some time ago I subscribed to the Biblioscribe blog, however I just finally got around to perusing the site in greater detail. I was thrilled to see that you can sign up for a free membership and submit press releases, articles, and other promotional information that can be included on their website and made available through their databases. And, of course, I was kicking myself for not discovering this sooner! You can check out the profile I set up a few minutes ago. I also submitted a press release and article. We’ll see what happens with it!
One of the ways that I determine whether to take the time to register and submit information with different sites is based on their Alexa rank. Do you have the Alexa toolbar installed on your browser? If not, you definitely should! Here’s a helpful post about what the Alexa rank means. If you read the article, you’ll see that an Alexa rank is not a perfect measurement of website traffic, but I find that it does give me a general idea of the traffic level of the various sites I visit, especially when those sites are likely to attract the same demographic.
So, here’s how I make a quick decision based on Alexa rank. I click over to Biblioscribe and notice that it has an Alexa rank under 1,000,000. Seems like a worthwhile investment of several minutes to register and upload my info to their site. A little while later, I come across another site that has an Alexa rank above 30,000,000. Maybe not such a good use of my time right now, so I close the tab and move on. There are exceptions to this, of course, but right now with time at a premium and the potential for overload at a high, I have to set up boundaries for myself so that I can “budget” my time wisely. And this is one way that is working well right now.
One of the magazines I started getting automatically once I registered my publishing business/book is Book Business. In their current issue, I was especially interested in the following statistics under the heading “Who is Reading Books?” in one of the articles. Here is what they reported:
- The average age of today’s book reader is 44, but 50 is the average age of the most frequent book buyer.
- 58 percent of readers are women; 42 percent are men.
- Women purchase 65 percent of books.
- 50 percent of Americans ages 13 and older bought a book last year.
- 41 percent of all books purchased are by buyers earning less than $35,000/year.
- $10.08 is the average price paid for a book last year.
- 31 percent of in-store or online purchases are impulse buys.
(Statistics presented by Kelly Gallagher, general manager, Business Intelligence, for R.R. Bowker and chair of BISG’s research committee.)
In an effort to continue to learn and develop more effective marketing strategies, I just finished the book, Marketing Strategies for Writers by Michael Sedge. The book is primarily geared toward those who have or are launching full-time careers as freelance writers, so not all of it was relevant to my situation. Here are some key quotes and thoughts that I pulled from its pages, though:
“The long-term goal of any good business plan is to consistently expand your market share.” p.18
“Concentrate on ‘thinking’ like a marketer. Opportunities are everywhere. The difference between success and failure is often your ability to recognize and take advantage of these situations.” p.24
“The first thing you must do to achieve marketing success is to step into the shoes of your customer, figuratively speaking. Always take the approach of ‘How can I help you?’ rather than ‘How can you help me?’ p.26
Ask, “Who am I? What do I have to offer?” [Sedge recommends making a list of qualifications and experiences that make you uniquely qualified to offer various services, articles, angles, etc.] p. 29
Two keys to keep in mind: 1. Be constantly looking for a need to fill; 2. the importance of networking cannot be underestimated. p.37
“You must never, ever call an editor [insert media rep, agent, bookstore owner, etc. for a self-publisher] with a vague idea or no idea at all.” p.59
“Have the mindset to consistently take initiatives. Never stop…and never, never, never take an initiative without following up.” p. 156
List your five major audiences and the five major ways you plan to reach each one of them (idea from John Kremer’s 5×5 matrix marketing plan). p.216
Wow…I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since my last post! It’s certainly not due to a lack of working on book-related projects. I have lots of things I want to post, and some really helpful links I want to share, but for the moment I thought I’d just post this list of Top 10 Reasons to Self-Publish. The inspiration came to me quite suddenly this week in the aftermath of the arrival of my truckload of Pajama School books (hooray!) and as I thought back over the long process that it took to arrive at this point. Enjoy! 🙂
1. You’ve always heard people complain about high levels of stress in their jobs and you’d like to experience some of that first hand.
2. You have too much money sitting in your savings account and would rather take the risk of printing a couple thousand books, having no idea whether they will sell or not.
3. You’ve gotten a little too comfortable with your current skills and responsibilities and want to try something new that will make you constantly feel like you don’t have a clue what you’re doing.
4. You think you’d enjoy the mental stimulation of juggling all the details that publishing houses usually employ 25 different people to handle.
5. You want to test the love and loyalty of your family by periodically acting like a crazy wreck and seeing how many times they are willing to help pick up the pieces of your emotional wreckage.
6. You get a thrill out of doing cost comparisons and trying to figure out what supplies you will need for order shipping and where to purchase them and how to ship them.
7. You love filling out on-line applications and waiting for days to have your accounts approved and/or updated so you can cross items off your to-do list and move to the next item.
8. You’re feeling a little rusty on your math skills and want to spend hours calculating how much square footage your order of books will require and what size boxes you’ll need in order to ship the various quantities that will be ordered by customers and wholesalers.
9. Your current workload is too light and you wish you had a list of extra projects to fill all of your free time. In fact, you’re curious to try eliminating sleep from your regular routine and see how long you can maintain your sanity.
10. You have dreams of spending the rest of your life doing shameless self-promotion and exploring every possible marketing strategy to hopefully sell all those books you’re storing and maybe even reclaim some of your life savings.
Last week this large box of 200 bubble mailers arrived. It fits just fine under the table in the back corner of my studio.
But there’s a problem. That’s where I was planning to store the cases of books. 2,500 books to be exact. I think I have a problem. The bubble mailers are 1/4-inch thick. My book is 3/4-inch thick. Now I know why my business-savvy friend raised her eyebrows when she asked me where I was planning to store my books and I said “a back corner of my studio.” I don’t think I really have any concept of how much space these books are going to require. But I’m starting to get the picture that maybe I should formulate a Plan B.
So, Plan B – Please, everyone go pre-order Pajama School – stories from the life of a homeschool graduate so that I don’t have to find a place to store 2,500 of them!!! Do you think that will work? 🙂
In case it doesn’t, uh, help!? Anyone have any brilliant suggestions for storing an inventory of this many books?
Here are a handful of interesting self-publishing success stories in a recent Publishers Weekly article. I love reading real-life stories of the process people went through to write and publish their books. Right now I don’t have any plans of signing on with a publishing house, but the last sentence of the first story is what scares me:
“When administrative and distribution work became too onerous, however, Tillman was ready to find a publisher.”
Right now I’m just trying to take one step at a time, but we’ll see what the future holds!
HT: John Kremer’s Book Marketing Blog
…but such is not the case. 🙂 I’ve just been so hard at work that I’ve been negligent in posting updates for the past month or so. Sorry! Here’s a quick list of some of the things I’ve been working on:
- Implementing the editors’ suggestions and marks into the final manuscript.
- Meeting with various people who are helping with the project – editors, a marketing advisor, my interior page designer, etc.
- Gathering pre-publication endorsements.
- Creating a Pajama School Fact Sheet.
- Designing a new website/blog for Pajama School (soon to be live!).
- Opening a bank account for Sibro Publishing.
- Opening a PayPal account for Sibro Publishing (I’m linking to it in case you want to make a donation to the cause 🙂 ).
- Setting up an Amazon Advantage account so that I can sell Pajama School on Amazon.
- Acquiring a business license from our city.
- Thinking and praying a lot!
A Biblical Approach to Marketing Series: Intro | Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six
Mark 10:17-23 “And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?
And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother. And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth. Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions. And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!”
Insights for Meditation:
Jesus’ command for the rich young man to sell his possessions was only a means to a greater end.
Jesus gave clear direction as to how the profits should be used – to give to the poor.
The great wealth of the young man kept him from obeying Jesus’ command. He was so blinded by his love of riches that he didn’t perceive the greater value of eternal life.
Trust in riches/financial gain is a hindrance to entering the kingdom of God.
Principles for Application:
Honestly evaluate my motivation for selling and consider how the profits will be used.
Be cautious about pursuing marketing strategies that appeal to my greed or that convey an attitude of desiring to enrich myself.
Look for ways to use my financial gains to help the poor. Consider partnering with charitable organizations to sell my book and benefit their causes.
Determine not to let financial success divert my trust in the Lord to trust in money or effective marketing strategies. Realize that success is ultimately from God.
Questions for Consideration:
If my book generates substantial profits, what will I do with the money?
How can I guard against developing a spirit of greed?
What principles does God give in the Bible for the use of money that I need to take into consideration?
What organizations might be interested in partnering with me for the benefit of their charitable causes?
Do I have a passion for a need that I could better meet by establishing my own charitable cause, foundation or scholarship fund?
Steps for Implementation:
□ Write out a proposed plan for the use of profits generated from my book.
□ Compile a list of organizations/charitable causes to contact regarding partnering to promote my book and their causes.
□ Look into guidelines for establishing scholarship funds and foundations.
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