I’m Stuck

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It’s time to finalize a title for my book so that I can move forward in some other areas – like acquiring a domain name, developing a website, deciding on a cover design, etc. The only problem is that I’m stuck, stuck, stuck. It became apparent last week, after getting some helpful advice from my cover designer, that the working title I’ve been using needs to be replaced with a more appropriate title. Here’s a great piece of advice she offered,

“…try imagining that you know nothing about your book at all. When you pick it up, what would the title and picture have to ‘say’ for you to know what it’s about and want to read it? Then start brainstorming with that as a base.”

So that’s what I’ve been trying to do. I’ve been praying a lot and also reflecting on some of the things Todd Hafer (the workshop presenter at last Friday’s Write it Right workshop) emphasized in his presentation. He is the one who created the book division of Hallmark and he said he receives 700 books/book proposals a month! The number one thing he looks for is a “hook.” He illustrated what he meant by explaining that since he deals a lot with gift books, what he looks for is a book that will cause someone to read the title and think, “This would be perfect for so-and-so!” Transferred to the book buyer looking at books for themselves, it might be along the lines of a title that would cause the potential buyer to think, “This is just what I need!

The title must captivate while also accurately reflecting the tenor of the book. Somehow I feel like I’m expending more mental energy trying to come up with a title than I am writing the whole rest of the book!

A Biblical Approach to Marketing – Part 3

Marketing 1 Comment »

A Biblical Approach to Marketing Series: Intro | Part One | Part Two | Part Three

Leviticus 25:14-19And if thou sell ought unto thy neighbour, or buyest ought of thy neighbour’s hand, ye shall not oppress one another: According to the number of years after the jubile thou shalt buy of thy neighbour, and according unto the number of years of the fruits he shall sell unto thee: According to the multitude of years thou shalt increase the price thereof, and according to the fewness of years thou shalt diminish the price of it: for according to the number of the years of the fruits doth he sell unto thee. Ye shall not therefore oppress one another; but thou shalt fear thy God:for I am the LORD your God. Wherefore ye shall do my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; and ye shall dwell in the land in safety. And the land shall yield her fruit, and ye shall eat your fill, and dwell therein in safety.

Insights for Meditation:
Neither buyer nor seller should oppress the other. Some research and cross-referencing led me to define oppress as follows: To impose upon other people for the sake of benefiting oneself. It is instructive to consider the opposite of a word to gain a greater understanding of it. There is nothing more antithetical to oppression than the “Golden Rule” found in Matthew 7:12Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

Time invested in a product should be reflected in the price. More time=higher price; less time=lower price.

Fear of God should guide the buying and selling of goods, knowing that He will judge the oppressor.

Future productivity and success is a direct result of acting in obedience to and accordance with God’s Word.

Principles for Application:
Be careful not to inconvenience potential customers or use guilt tactics in order to entice them to purchase my book.

Consider how I would want to be treated if someone was marketing a book to me.

Don’t under or over-value the time invested in writing my book.

Continue studying to learn God’s way for dealing with people and avoiding oppressive strategies.

Questions for Consideration:
How can I avoid imposing on others in an attempt to market my book?

What marketing strategies have I experienced that convey respect and compel me to purchase something?

What marketing strategies have I experienced that turn me off and compel me not to purchase something?

What can I learn from the example of Jesus about how to treat others?

Steps for Implementation:
□ Be aware of marketing strategies that I experience and compile a list of positive and negative elements.
□ Begin to develop relationships with people that I would like to help me market my book. Look for ways to help them be successful.
□ Include reciprocal links on website and be quick to recommend the resources and services of others.

The Top 10 Things You Can Do to Promote Your Book

Marketing, Publicizing 1 Comment »

John Kremer, author of 1001 Ways to Market Your Books, is known as a leading expert in the field of book marketing. He has a helpful list of Book Promotion Advice on his website.

1. 90% of marketing efforts are wasted.

2. Book marketing is all about creating relationships.

3. You can’t do everything.

4. Packaging is important.

5. Build a brand with your books.

6. We are in the business of creating and selling rights.

7. Remember that small presses can create bestsellers.

8. New standards are coming for submitting info to booksellers.

9. What was your strength can become your weakness.

10. Make no little plans, because they have no power to move the hearts of men and women.

Visit the Book Promotion Advice page to read Mr. Kremer’s elaboration on each of these points. You can also subscribe to his Book Marketing Tip of the Week e-newsletter for free by sending him an e-mail with Subscribe to Ezine in the subject line or by entering your e-mail address in the form field on this page.

A Biblical Approach to Marketing – Part 2

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A Biblical Approach to Marketing Series: Intro | Part One | Part Two

For Part Two of this study, I moved on to the next reference of the word, “sell” in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.

Genesis 37:23-28And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stript Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colours that was on him; And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it. And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt. And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content. Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.

Insights for Meditation:
Joseph’s brothers had no interest in the goods the merchants offered because they were wholly intent on carrying out their own agenda. The money they received was of secondary importance in light of their primary purpose of getting rid of Joseph.

God providentially orchestrated the events and circumstances to accomplish His purposes. God arranged the perfectly timed encounter between Joseph’s brothers and the traveling merchants to accomplish His plan.

The traveling merchants served as “middlemen” that transported Joseph from his brothers to the end customer, Potiphar.

A successful transaction is not an indicator of God’s blessing. Joseph’s brothers acted unjustly and even though God used their wrong means to bring about His purposes, they forfeited the blessing that comes from obedience and rather caused unnecessary grief to those whom God would have them honor, namely their father.

Principles for Application:
I must pray and trust God to orchestrate the events and contacts that will enable me to effectively market my book to those whom He wants to purchase it.

I must view all of life’s events and circumstances through the perspective of God’s providence and look for ways to make the most of the opportunities and contacts He provides.

I must never engage in a business transaction that will cause me to compromise God’s standards, especially in the areas of honesty and honoring parents/authorities.

Questions for Consideration:
What is the primary purpose and motivation for writing and selling my book?

What people has God has placed in my path that are potential customers and/or could serve as “middlemen” to aid me in reaching potential customers?

What marketing approaches and businesses practices will bring honor and joy to God and my parents/authorities?

Steps for Implementation:
□ Compile a list of people I could personally contact to enlist their help in letting others know about my book.
□ Maintain a database of people I can include in marketing campaigns (via e-mail or postal mail).
□ Develop a way for people to add themselves to my mailing list (via website, e-mail, postal response card, etc.)
□ Make business cards/postcards/flyers to give to people that I meet.

How to Make Money Publishing From Home Review

Reading/Researching 1 Comment »

How to Make Money Publishing from Home by Lisa Shaw covers the broadest scope of self-publishing ideas of any of the books I’ve read thus far. Like several of the other books I’ve reviewed, this one is organized into three parts:

1. The Home-Based Publishing Industry – this section covers a lot of the preliminary considerations one should make before jumping into self-publishing. It discusses some of the pros and cons of running a home-based publishing businesses and helps the reader determine if they are really cut out for it or not.

2. Your Publishing Choices – from booklets to greeting cards to software to books, this section addresses many of the possibilities for the self-publisher. Each of the different areas was further broken into these points:

  • Description of Business
  • Ease of Startup – rated easy, moderate or difficult, followed by a rationale for the rating
  • Range of Initial Investment – specific dollar amounts to give the reader an idea of what they can expect to spend to start the business
  • Time Commitment – Part-time or Full-time with a few extra details
  • Success Potential – a realistic assessment of what the publisher can expect, what the competition is like and what direction the market is headed
  • How to Market the Business – a list of the best approaches based on the business type
  • The Pros – positive aspects to the particular business type
  • The Cons – specific drawbacks to the particular business type
  • Special Considerations – random useful notes to further educate the reader
  • Profile – a section telling the true story (with the one being profiled writing their story in the first person) of someone who is a self-publisher in the particular business type and thoughts on what worked and what didn’t work for them

3. The Business of Running Your Home-Based Publishing Business – this section covered a lot of the basics for both a publishing business specifically, but also for home-based businesses in general. Since I already run a home-based business, I skimmed over a lot of this part, but for someone just starting into a home-based business for the first time, it provides a lot of important considerations.

This book is both realistic and practical while still opening up the reader’s mind to the varied possibilities available in the self-publishing world. Although I am focusing solely on my book right now, I found myself growing excited about the possibility of also publishing booklets in the future. I kept thinking of all sorts of topics that would be perfect for a booklet and had to remind myself not to get carried away and start yet another project!

A Biblical Approach to Marketing – Part 1

Marketing 3 Comments »

A Biblical Approach to Marketing Series – Intro | Part One

To begin my study of A Biblical Approach to Marketing, I grabbed my Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance and looked up the first of the key words – “Sell.” As I read and studied the first passage, I was amazed at the wealth of insights and principles it contained! Here is an outline of what I discovered:

Genesis 25:29-34And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint: And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom. And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentils; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.

Insights for Meditation:
The basic premise of selling/buying is that each party is giving something of value in exchange for something which he perceives to be of greater value. Jacob viewed the birthright as being of greater value than the food he was cooking, whereas Esau viewed the food as being of greater value than his birthright.

Jacob didn’t have to convince Esau that he needed the food. Esau already felt the need for it quite desperately.

Jacob took advantage of Esau’s physical weakness. Once Esau had satisfied his hunger, he recognized the inequality of the exchange and knew that what he had parted with was of greater value than what he received.

Principles for Application:

It is most effective to target those who already have a felt need for the topic my book addresses.

I must effectively convey the belief that what I am offering my potential customer is of greater value than what I am asking them to part with in exchange for it, presumably money.

I must strive to ensure that the product I offer is of greater value to the recipient than what I ask of them in exchange for it. I want them to remain assured of its value even after they have “partaken” of it. In other words, I want them even after reading my book to be glad that they made the purchase.

Questions for Consideration:
What lasting value will my customers gain if they purchase my book?

What is a just price to charge for my book?

Should I offer a money-back guarantee?

Is there anything my potential customers could give me in exchange for my book that is of greater value to me than money? (i.e. an endorsement, a review, personal recommendation to other potential customers, etc.) – Consider Proverbs 22:1 “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold.

Should I implement an affiliate program?

What people already have a felt need for the topic my book addresses? What is the most effective way to target them and let them know about my book?

What sorts of approaches would pique the curiosity of my target audience and persuade them to purchase my book?

Steps for Implementation:
□ Identify my target market and the best outlets for conveying information to them.
□ Compile list of people to whom to send Advance Review Copies (ARC) for endorsements.
□ Develop a referral/recommendation/affiliate plan (possible idea: for every ___ people that purchase my book and indicate a particular individual as the one who referred them, I will send that referrer a free copy of my book).

A Biblical Approach to Marketing – Intro

Marketing 7 Comments »

While attending a Christian Apologetics conference last week, I was inspired and challenged to view every area of life in light of God’s Word. This got me to wondering what the Bible has to say about marketing. So this week I’ve started a study with the aim of discovering A Biblical Approach to Marketing. I am starting with the presupposition that the Bible speaks to every issue and that from it we can learn principles to apply in every situation. I have done a lot of reading in the past month on self-publishing and marketing and have learned a lot, but I’m really excited to begin this study and see what God has to say about it.

The first step was to define the word:
Marketing – n. 1. the act of buying or selling in a market; 2. the total of activities involved in the transfer of goods from the producer or seller to the consumer or buyer, including advertising, shipping, storing, and selling.

The next step was to come up with key words that I can use as a starting point for looking up applicable passages in the Bible: sell, sold, seller, buy, pay, profit, business, merchant

I’m sure I will add to these as the study progresses, but those are the words that came to mind right away. I invite you to join me on this exciting adventure. Please feel free to add your own insights along the way!

Information Overload

Reading/Researching, Thinking No Comments »

I feel like my brain could explode at any moment. I finished reading How to Make Money Publishing from Home by Lisa Shaw this week while I was out of town and got about halfway through How to Publish Your Nonfiction Book by Rudy Shur before I realized that I was reading words but my brain was no longer processing what I was reading. This may be partially because the latter of the two books is so geared toward preparing a book for submission to a publishing house that the information seemed too irrelevant for my situation. So I did something I almost never do. I quit reading it. I abhor the thought of leaving things unfinished and often continue reading a book even if I’ve lost interest just to “cross it off the list”, so this was a big step for me.

In my efforts toward “vigorous self-education“, I’ve allowed myself to do something else I rarely do – skim or [gasp!] even completely skip certain paragraphs or chapters that I don’t perceive to be beneficial to me at this point. Normally I’m a read-and-process-every-word sort of person, so you can see I’m really branching out these days. 🙂

While these weeks of intense study and absorption in the field of self-publishing have been incredibly beneficial, I think I’m ready to adopt a slower pace as I try to retain the things I’ve learned and explore some new resources. I’m also really excited about some new approaches I’m going to be studying in the coming weeks as I start outlining the next steps in the self-publishing process for my book. Stay tuned for new developments and exciting announcements in the coming days!

The Self-Publishing Experience

Thinking No Comments »

Last week, I mentioned that I signed up for a workshop on self-publishing. I’ve been out of town and without Internet access this week (I finally found a Panera with free wi-fi so that I could catch up on some other projects!), but I wanted to do a quick post with my notes from the workshop…

A couple of friends and I attended the Write it Right workshop at Perfect Peace last Friday night. There were approximately 20 other people in attendance and Gina Nachtigal, author and self-publisher of On the Same Page, did a wonderful job giving us an overview of the self-publishing process.

She started out by highlighting some of the key differences between using a publishing house or self-publishing:
Publishing House – has total control over your idea and work, long delay (at least 9 months)
Self-Publishing – you have all the control, possible to have a manuscript printed and available within 5 weeks, you keep the profit

Once you have a finished manuscript, there are two ways to self-publish:
1. Hire a printer and you can be your own publisher – must print at least 1,000 copies to make it worthwhile
2. Print-On-Demand (POD) – good for a fewer number of copies, not as much profit margin

Cons of self-publishing:
* You have to finance the whole project yourself or find someone willing to fund it for you.
* Big responsibility on your shoulders (editing, design, printing, distribution, etc.)

The Process
* Pray a lot! Ask God for wisdom (James 1:5).
* Know what your goal is. Who is the book going to benefit?
* Decide if printing with a commercial offset printer or POD will better serve your needs. (You can literally feel the difference.)
* How to get a copyright – effective upon creation; $35 to register the copyright – http://copyright.gov
* ISBN – uniquely identifies a book – block of at least 10 required ($275)
* Barcode – $25
* How do you know when the manuscript is ready? When you think you’re almost done, have somebody else read it. And then have somebody else read it. Sometimes what we want to say doesn’t come out right. It is perceived differently than we intend. Have five or six people read it before you hire an editor. Have an editor in the profession edit the book.
*Shelf appeal – no typos on the back cover! Get endorsements – local friends, ask God to open doors. Take time to research what you want the book to look and feel like. Spend a lot of time comparing and researching the competition.
Weight of text pages – ask printer what they would recommend (50# or 60# paper on the inside)
* Once you choose your printer, find samples to make sure that your customer service rep is on the same “page” as you.

What do you do once the books have been printed and delivered?
* Don’t put them in the basement! See if bookstores will take the books on consignment to sell them. Perfect Peace will consider book proposals – the message must be compelling and go through an extensive review process.
* It’s also easy to put your book on Amazon.com. The Internet is a good way to market.
* Write a press release. The fact that you have written a book is news! Look for places to get book signings – church, library, school, bookstore, etc. (Watermark Books is very open to local authors.)

Deb Raney added some tips on how to have a successful book signing:
* Don’t give out the book to all your friends. Encourage them to come to the book signing. Crowds generate enthusiasm.
* Ask the location if there will be multiple events that day. Try a multiple self-published book signing with several other authors.
* Have your own website. Absolutely essential in the 21st century. Keep track of your site visitors.
* Give something away. (Pens, chocolate, matching bookmarks, bookpads, ask for overs from publisher and cut down to use as postcards, cut the spine off and use as a bookmark)
* Stand instead of sitting, be welcoming, (sitting behind a table seems to turn people away)

Once you’ve self-published, you have a finished concept you can send to possibly get picked up by a publishing house.

Each workshop attendee received a $10 gift card for Perfect Peace and a wonderful packet of materials provided by Mennonite Press in Newton, Kansas. The packet included a booklet with information for self-publishers, a brochure for Mennonite Press, a lovely pad of paper and several sample print jobs from Mennonite Press. It was very impressive!

Gina was incredibly encouraging and gave all of us hope that it is not impossible to successfully self-publish our books. She also reminded us that God is the one who has compelled us to write and we should continually ask Him to provide guidance and contacts along the way to help us finish the job. The workshop was very well done and I look forward to attending the next one in a couple of weeks.

How to Promote and Publish Online Review

Marketing, Reading/Researching No Comments »

This book – How to Publish and Promote Online by M.J. Rose and Angela Adair-Hoy – is a collection of very short chapters contributed by a variety of authors with expertise in the areas covered. Although overall the book is geared toward online publishing, there are a number of helpful chapters that are equally applicable to the print publisher. The edition I have is from 2001 and it’s amazing how much technology has changed in these seven years, making some of the ideas and references obsolete. It’s an easy-read, though, and has numerous lists of specific resources, like Where to Send Book-Related Press Releases and Announcements Online, Where to Get e-books Reviewed, Cheap Advertising, More Essential Online Resources, and more.

The book is divided into three parts:

Part I – Everything You Need to Know About Publishing On- and Offline

Part II – Self-Publishing Success Stories

Part III – Pounding the Virtual Pavement: Selling Your Book Online

One of the things I really found helpful in this book were a couple of chapters of interview questions and responses from people in the book review and radio industry. Their input was varied, but gave an interesting perspective of their preferences when dealing with authors. That, and a number of other factors, assisted me in coming up with my 3 Keys to Marketing for the Self-Publisher. The authors are also forthright in identifying and revealing ideas and marketing strategies that didn’t work for them. Their experiences enable them to give good advice for where to spend money and what strategies to pass up.

Overall, the book provides a handy reference tool for authors and self-publishers trying to navigate their way around the web and the lists are especially time-saving in that someone else has done the legwork in identifying good places to publicize your work. I probably won’t buy this book, but it’s definitely one worth checking out from the library again when I get to that stage of my marketing plan.

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