Marketing Tips

Survey Says…. What Matters Most

We asked 4000 of our top selling authors about their marketing plans and what they think mattered most to their success. Here’s what they had to say:

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Key Takeaways

Positioning your book and understanding your audience are key to success. Offering an attractive printed book as well as an eBook version online to generate word of mouth interest and validation via customer reviews should be your goal.

What Should You Do?

  • Prepare your book in eBook and print formats
  • Get a professionally designed cover for each format of your book
  • Focus on building reader reviews and incorporate them into your book cover, book description and website.

Additional Resources

eBook or “Real” Book: Which Should You Publish First?

Lulu Tip

If you ever need professional publishing services in a hurry, browse a list of our offerings here: http://lulu.com/services.

Going Up: Crafting an Elevator Pitch for Your Book

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Many bestselling authors pick their topic or approach to a topic specifically because they know it will be of interest to their audience. The pairing of those two strategies – targeting an audience and delivering a unique message – is what sells books. As one author in our survey said, “We wrote the book for a specific market giving them information we knew they needed.”

In the marketing world, this is called positioning – understanding your audience and explaining why your book is uniquely suited to their interests. You might also think of it as “finding your niche.” Once you’ve found your niche, you’ll have a clear, easily articulated understanding of what your book is about, who it’s for, and how it fits into the existing body of published books within your domain.

elevator PitchHere’s an exercise for you. Entrepreneurs are often challenged to come up with an elevator pitch for their business. An elevator pitch is a short, interesting way to explain what value your product offers to the world in the time you’d have in an elevator with someone. It must be concise and informative and inspire the person you’re speaking with to take action to learn more.

To show how powerful a good elevator pitch can be, let’s play a game. Below are four elevator pitches for best-selling books, presented as though they were new books on the market.

Western meets suspense meets a Tarantino-esque hit man. A cowboy stumbles upon a drug deal gone bad, takes the money, only to find that he’s being hunted by a relentless killer.

~~~

Hearts will race for the tween girl who would risk her soul for the everlasting love of the vampire version of James Dean.

~ ~ ~

If you love puzzles, religious symbolism and a great crime mystery, you’ll hang on every action-packed moment as our hero decodes his way across Europe to uncover an ancient secret, zealously guarded by a clandestine society that will stop at nothing to protect it.

~ ~ ~

What if dinosaurs could be cloned? For the child in all of us that still marvels at T. Rex in the natural history museum, this novel set in the modern age tells the story of an adventure theme park whose proprietors have brought dinosaurs back from extinction.

See how just a few sentences can create interest in a book for the reader? That is the power of positioning. That is the power of knowing your book, your audience and how to bring them together.

Think you know the books pitched above?  Click here for the answers.

What Should You Do?

Develop and practice a concise pitch for your book that entices readers to learn more. Always have a few business cards on hand with your contact and website information. Practice your pitch on members of your target audience. Edit the pitch based on their reactions.

Key Takeaway

Remember, you are the best salesperson for your book. Be prepared.

Additional Resources

Know Your Audience

Find Your Audience

Develop a Distribution Strategy

Market Your Book: Developing a Distribution Strategy

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In the book business, determining where your target audience shops and how to get your books into those places is called developing a distribution strategy.

While every author wants to walk into their local bookstore and see their books prominently displayed on the selves, there is much more to consider when developing your distribution strategy. Some authors leverage their professional connections to make sales – i.e. book as business card. Others teach classes and sell their books to students and/or attendees. Still others sell their books through their churches or they partner with websites.

There are innumerable ways to distribute your book and it takes some trial and error to find the right distribution channels. Since every book is different, we wanted to see if there was a pattern as to where authors sold their books.

We asked 4000 of Lulu’s best selling authors where they sold their books. Here’s what they had to say:

 

Marketing Series 3 Where to sell your books

Distribution channels for authors, both traditionally published and self-published, are changing. With the closing of large brick-and-mortar booksellers, all publishers are reevaluating their distribution strategy. In August 2013, Bowker released a study citing a 5% increase in online book sales in the U.S., up to 44% of total book sales compared to 39% in 2011.

What does this mean for you? As an author, you must focus on your audience and develop the best distribution strategy for them. If you are communicating with your audience through your existing channels or through online networks and communities, Lulu.com’s marketplace can be a strong component of your distribution strategy. If you need to target a broader audience that seeks content all over the Internet and online stores, you may want to expand to additional retail distribution channels.

Getting Your Book Noticed

E-book Formatting Fairies did a survey of readers in August 2013 that revealed fantastic insights into how readers perceive books and authors. We’ve compiled a few highlights of their findings below:

  • 95% of respondents were more likely to buy a self-published book from an author who is known to them.
  • When asked where readers get information about new books, Facebook came in first place.

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  • When readers were asked where they get information about their favorite authors, Facebook and author websites were virtually tied.  These findings reinforce the need for author’s to create and maintain author platforms that incorporate both social media and author websites.

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What Should You Do?

Ask your readers or people in your target market how they discover new books and where they shop for them. The answers to those two questions are the key elements in developing your distribution strategy.

Key Takeaway

Create an online presence from which potential readers can learn more about you and your book.

Additional Resources

Know Your Audience

Find Your Audience

Build Your Online Marketing Presence

Guest Blogging: Building Your Online Reputation

Market Your Book: Finding Your Audience

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Build your audience and sell more books with these tips from successful Lulu authors.

In our last article on marketing, we talked about knowing your book’s target audience. Now it’s time to go out and get them. We asked 4000 successful Lulu authors how they found the audience for their book.

Here’s what they said:

Marketing Series 2 Finding Your Audience

Most authors wrote for audiences they either consider themselves to be a part of or groups whose needs and shopping behaviors they have familiarity. This made the process of determining how to reach their audience easier because they had an idea which marketing channels would most effectively grow their reader base.

Is this true for you? For example, if your book is on health and fitness and you have identified your audience as other like-minded fitness enthusiasts, you may already know several websites these enthusiasts regularly visit to learn about fitness and to make purchases.

If you are writing for an audience you do not know that well, you are not alone! Nearly a third of authors conducted online research to discover what made their audience tick and how to find them. They identified pre existing professional networks, organizations and online communities to reach readers who would be interested in their content.

What Should You Do?

Make a list of and, if possible, join professional networks, organizations and large communities to promote your book. Remember, pitch the hook not the book. Start out with your area of expertise, then mention your are an author.

Key Takeaway

Often, bestselling independent authors are a member of the group for which they are writing. If you are not, research ways to discover their interests and reach out by joining and participating in their communities.

Market Your Book: Knowing Your Audience

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You wrote and published a book. Congratulations!

Now it’s time to think about the business of marketing and selling it. The most important challenge you face after publication is getting your book in front of people who want to buy it. Where do you start?

We asked 4,000 of our top selling authors to share some of their secrets to success. Over the next few weeks we will share their insights. While you may find some of their answers to be painfully obvious, others may surprise you. The first question asked why author’s why they thought their book had found success.

Lulu-Marketing-Your-Book-eBook28web-final29_pdfThe top 3 answers are all representative of understanding and providing content for a very specific audience. Again and again the words “niche,” “audience,” and “filled a need” came up in answers to this question. As one author said, “Make it your overriding passion to learn as much as you can about your audience and then give them what they crave.”

Take note of two related answers “Only book of its kind” and “Subject matter / topic.” Many authors stress that successful books require a fresh perspective on a popular topic or that they address a subject that’s never been written about. One author said their book was successful because “it fills a niche with no competition for content, quality or clarity of presentation.”

Also, take a second look at the votes for “Author platform.” Later on, we’ll look at the different elements of an author platform, and which parts of the platform our best-selling authors think helped them the most.

What Should You Do?

Define your audience. What are they interested in? Where do they spend time online and in the real world? How do they satisfy their need for content similar to yours – for example, blogs, magazines, social communities, events, or video? What can your book oƒffer this audience that’s not available anywhere else?

Key Takeaway

The most important step in effectively marketing your product – whether it’s a book, a business or a lemonade stand – is understanding your audience. Successful independently published authors credit knowing their audience and filling a niche as their key to success.

Additional Information:

How Authors Can Build Their Marketing Presence Online
Guest Blogging: Building Your Online Reputation

Pitch Perfect: Pitching a Guest Post

Have I got a Story for youFor authors and writers who are just beginning to build an audience, guest posting an article on an established, related blog is an excellent means to expand your reach. Your post will be seen by a completely new audience who may then decide to follow your blog or maybe even purchase a book or two. The challenge for new writers is in finding sites with a dedicated readership related to your area of expertise that are also willing to accept unsolicited articles from an unknown writer. Therefore your pitch letter must be near perfect to catch the editor’s attention.

 

What is a Pitch?

In its purest form, a pitch includes:

  • An introduction: Who are you?
  • Relevance: How does your proposal fit with the existing audience?
  • Topics: What do you propose to write about?
  • Value: What benefit will readers get from the article?

Your pitch should not be a bulleted list, nor should it be an epic love poem in long form. Keep it brief, to the point, and grammatically correct. This is the one piece of your writing an editor is guaranteed to read. A convoluted, poorly composed, error-filled pitch does not make a good first impression.

Do Your Research

Spend some time reading, yes actually reading, the blog to which you intend to pitch your article. Look for existing topics you think can be expanded upon by your expertise or fresh outlook. While researching, take note of not only the subjects, but also the typical article length, their structure, tone, and use of imagery.

Also, a little investigative work on your part goes a long way in making sure your pitch is welcomed. Addressing an editor by the wrong name, wrong gender, or the generic “to whom it may concern” makes a terrible first impression. Find out as much as you can about the editor and their interests, then incorporate that information into your introduction to make a connection.

Get Their Attention

Based on these subject lines, which email would you open first?

Posting Inquiry

E-Reader Covers: What They Say About What You Read

Enough said.

Show Them What You’ve Got

Nothing gets a reader’s attention like effective imagery. You will get more notice with original work than from stock photos.

Be Patient

Depending on the blog’s popularity and posting scheduled, there may be a publishing calendar that is planned out for the next 10 days to two months. There is no need to follow up every day to see if the editor received the follow up you sent yesterday. If your article was accepted, the editor will let you know when it will go live.

While You Wait

It’s acceptable to write articles ahead of time while you wait for responses, but we recommend you do not publish them. If you plan to submit an article as a guest post, it should be an original post.

Don’t forget to compose an author bio that is accurate, succinct, and relevant to the audience. Include a link back to your blog or a link to your book page so that your potential new fans can find you.

share share shareCongratulations!

If your article is accepted, tell all your friends, post about it on your blog and link to it from your social media sites – all of which boost your article’s search results and your online reputation. And, don’t forget to send a thank you note.

 

Guest Blogging: Building Your Online Reputation Using Someone Else’s Platform

Author Platform 1Since joining the Lulu team, I have attended publishing trade shows around the country in an effort to keep up with industry trends. After a few years, I noticed a distinct pattern. Each year it seemed the industry latched onto a particular theme or buzzword around which all shows were organized. One of the first of these themes focused on the need for creating an author platform.

Once I learned what an author platform was, it seemed like a rather simple and logical approach to publicizing your work. All you need to do is set up a website, start a blog and interact with your fans on social media. Easy right? According to the experts, an author platform makes current fans feel connected to the author while at the same time attracting new readers thereby ensuring a steady flow of money into an authors’ bank account.

The thinking here is solid.  If we conduct a quick online study we will find most successful, independently published authors already have an author platform in place – likely built by a member of their publishing team (another year’s theme). If you conduct a search for these authors on the internet, not only would their books be returned in the search results, but also links to their social media pages, discussion boards, blog posts, and articles – all of which contribute to their online reputation.Guest Bloggers Welcome

For new authors the question then becomes, “How can I get some of this search engine goodness for myself?” If you don’t have access to a social media team or a neighborhood kid to build your website, the easiest option is join a few discussion groups or to make use of another person’s platform by guest blogging. Both of which give you an opportunity to reach new audiences.

You may respond “I don’t write for free.” Well, yes you do. You write for free until someone buys your book. Once enough people have bought your book you can set your own price for articles. Until then, your best bet is to find a site that appeals to your target audience and pitch them an article. Most bloggers are constantly on the lookout for new material. So much so they will even let you plug your book in return for free, compelling content..

This strategy is a win/win for everyone. The site owner gets content to fill their pages.  You get more search hits, a new audience for your work, free advertising, and a bump in your online reputation score.

Coming up: Tips on Pitching a Guest Blog