12 Tips for Marketing and Sales Success: Tip 6 – What Matters Most?

Okay, you’ve conquered the art of developing an audience, positioning your book and targeting your readers with an effective distribution strategy. Now let’s talk about that book you want them to read — yours.

Ever looked at the bestseller lists and wondered, “What are they doing that I’m not doing?”

It’s important to know what attributes of your book will make it stand out and what marketing activities will best highlight these strengths to help drive sales. To help you understand these steps, we asked our authors what made a difference for them.

Here’s how authors ranked specific items and the frequency with which they said they were important:

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12 Tips for Marketing and Sales Success: Tip 5 – Know Your Book

Many best-selling authors pick their topic or angle 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 to them – is what sells books. As one author 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.

Here’s an analogy for you. Entrepreneurs are often challenged to come up with an elevator pitch for their business – it’s a short, interesting way to explain what value their business offers to the world in the time you’d have in the elevator with them. It has to be concise and informative while driving the person you’re speaking with to take action. For you as an author, the elevator pitch for your book may sound a lot different from that of a start-up, but it still affords you the benefit of successfully positioning your book to your audience.

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 on a drug deal gone bad, takes the money, only to find that he’s being hunted by a relentless killer.

~~~

Hearts will race for lovers of fan fiction . For the tween girl that 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 sci-fi adventure 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. Think you know which books these are? To see the answers, visit this link on the Lulu blog.

http://www.lulu.com/blog/2013/10/crafting-an-elevator-pitch-for-your-book

Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 6.39.43 PMFind The Helix Review here: http://lulu.com/services/helix-review.

 

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Screen Shot 2013-11-27 at 3.55.19 PMWell gang, it’s that time of year again, where we gather around with friends and family and celebrate what we are thankful for. Here at Lulu, we are thankful for all of you, our amazing authors, who continue to support us and inspire us to help you share your works of art with the world. So, in the spirit of the holiday, Lulu would love to know what you are thankful for this year. Below are some thoughts on thankfulness this holiday from our employees. We want to hear from you too!

  • Bob Young, Founder of Lulu.com (and a native of Canada) is thankful for having TWO Thanksgivings. Thanksgiving in Canada is the second Monday of October.
  • Rachel B., Sr. Manager of Customer Voice is thankful for working with a talented team that she can trust to do the best job possible, and water. Water is used to make her two favorite beverages, coffee and beer.
  • Sarah B., Distribution Services Advocate, says she thankful for being an omnivore apex predator.
  • Christian S., Customer Voice Advocate, said I’m thankful for being able to be around my family this Thanksgiving. After spending 6 Thanksgiving holidays deployed in the Middle East, one learns to appreciate even the smallest of things. My family and the memories we create is what means the most to me this Thanksgiving.

Hope you all have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

12 Tips for Marketing and Sales Success: Tip 4 – Beyond the Lulu Author Experience

Distribution channels for authors, both traditionally published and self-published, are changing. With the closing of many large brick-and-mortar booksellers, the most notable of which was the exit of Borders, all publishers are reevaluating their distribution strategy. In August 2013, Bowker released study findings 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? Focus on your audience and the best distribution strategy for them. If you can reach them via your own existing channels or easy-to-find networks and communities, selling to them on 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 in stores, you may want to expand to additional distribution channels.

Another more recent survey of book buyers’ perceptions may be helpful. The eBook formatting fairies did a survey of readers in August 2013 ( http://e-bookformattingfairies.blogspot.com/2013_08_01_ archive.html ) that revealed fantastic insights into how readers perceive books and authors. We’ve compiled a few highlights of their findings below.

To view larger image or download the entire guide, click here

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12 Tips for Marketing and Sales Success: Tip 3 – Know Where Your Audience Shops

In the book business, figuring out where people shop and how to get books to those places is called a distribution strategy.

There’s more to a distribution strategy than just bookstores. Some authors leverage their professional connections to make sales. Others teach classes and sell their books to students. And still others sell their books through churches or partner with niche websites.

There are numerous ways to distribute your book, and it takes some trial and error to find the right distribution channels. Every book is different, but we wanted to see if there was a pattern in where authors sold their books. Here’s where our best-selling authors sold their books:

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Helix Review Author Round Up

Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 10.13.03 AMBack in early August, we began featuring authors that have used the Helix Review to gain insight into their writing style and how to better market their books, so we could share what they learned with you. The Helix Review analyzes your book’s content and writing style and compares it to the most successful literary works of all-time, giving authors a valuable insight into their manuscript.

From my own perspective this has been a learning experience. Not only did authors share with us what they had learned from Helix, they also shared how they were implementing these insights into their work.

We’ve spoken to over 20 authors and I want to share some of the most valuable feedback my team and I heard:

1. Helix is instrumental in defining a direction and audience for your book.

  • “By comparing my book to another text that I have a great deal of respect for, and receiving a favorable review, I can proceed with confidence as I work on my next book.” – Read the interview with John Locke, author of Stuff I’ve Written So Far

2. Understand how your book fits in your genre and compares to similar books.

  • “I gained a sense of confidence in seeing that my writing is comparable to other works and measured favorably when compared to other books in the field. – Read the interview with B.D. Salerno, author of Forensics by the Stars: Astrology Investigates

3. Using Helix to narrow down your target publishers based on genre and style.

  • “The information provided in the 21 page report helped me target specific publishers, it has provided me with 10 other best selling books that I can compare and use when discussing books that are rated as similar in writing style.” – Read the interview with Gregory L. Truman, author of Hitting the Wall

Authors continue to inform and educate us on how they are finding the review valuable and how they are using it to identify new audiences for their book. If you are an author that has used the Helix Review for your book, we’d still love to hear from you. You can submit your feedback here.

For the complete list of Helix Review interviews, click here.

 

3 Marketing Must-Do’s to Sell Your Book

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From L to R: Glenn Hunt, Lulu’s community manager; Kelli and Daniel Segars, the powerhouse couple behind FitnessBlender.com; and Dan Dillon, Lulu’s director of product marketing at the 2013 Self-Publishing Book Expo

It’s actually not so lonely at the top. Not if you’re a rock star author who has published through Lulu. At the recent Self-Publishing Book Expo, author, activist and cultural icon Kevin Powell was joined by Daniel and Kelli Segars, the power couple behind the Fitness Blender craze, on a panel featuring rock star authors. They shared copious insights and advice about how to reach as large an audience as possible and how to successfully market a self-published book. Here are the three must-do pieces of advice they shared:

1. Content is king
It’s easy to market a great product. It’s not so easy to market a bad one. The quality of your book — from the story to the format to the cover — is critical to its reception in the market. Make sure your book is ready for the audience you’re aiming to win over. If you’ve done all of the work that you can to make your book as remarkable as it can possibly be, your readers will market it for you. Word of mouth is the most powerful form of advertising, and you can’t buy it with money. You earn it with an awesome book.

2. Whet people’s appetites
There’s a trend in the book market where authors are releasing small pieces of a larger story to build an audience. Think of this as the contemporary version of serialization. The best ways to make sure your readers are satisfying their appetite for your work is by creating blog posts or podcasts to issue a chapter at a time, or do a reading of your book and provide commentary about how an aspect of the book was conceived — a key character, a plot device, the setting or some other interesting dimension of your work.

3. Dedicate time
Just as you set aside time to write your book, you need to set aside time to market your book. It’s a discipline, one that requires focus and resolve. In the free guide to marketing your book to maximize holiday sales, more than 60% of Lulu’s most successful authors spent fewer than 5 hours per week marketing their book. But the key here is that they spent time doing it. Set aside one hour each day to actively market your work and you’ll gain traction. For ideas on where to start and how to make the most of your one hour per week, download the free ebook, “How to Marketing Your Book for Holiday Sales”.

Follow this advice from our rock star authors, and perhaps you’ll be on Lulu’s successful author panel at next year’s Self-Publishing Book Expo.

12 Tips for Marketing and Sales Success: Tip 2 – Finding and Building Your Audience

Now that you know the importance of identifying your target audience, it’s time to go out and get them. We asked successful authors how they found the audience for their book.

Here’s what they said:

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Most authors wrote for audiences they either consider themselves to be a part of or whose needs and shopping behaviors they were already familiar with. This may have made the process of determining how to reach their audience easier because they had an idea of which marketing channels would effectively grow their reader base. Is this also 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 they may regularly visit to learn about fitness and make related purchases.

If you’re writing for an audience you don’t know that well, you’re not alone! Nearly a third of authors conducted research to find out what made their audience tick and how to find them. They used pre-existing professional networks, organizations or online communities to reach readers that would respond to their content.

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12 Tips for Marketing and Sales Success: Tip 1 – Know Your Audience

Spoiler alert.
The most important step towards effectively marketing your product – whether it’s a book or a business or a lemonade stand – is understanding your audience.

We knew this was true for Lulu.com as a business, and wanted to see if this basic principle was also true for successful authors. So we posed a question to a large group of our most successful authors: “Why do you think your book was so successful?” Here’s what they said:

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Screen Shot 2013-11-11 at 9.57.11 AMThe top 3 answers that authors credited for their book’s success 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.”

For now, 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 cover a subject that’s never been written about. One author said their book was successful because “it fills a niche with no competition either for content or quality and clarity of presentation.”

Also, take a second look at the votes for “Author platform.” Later on in the book 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.
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Richard Coady’s “The Maya Papyrus” Wins 2013 Global Ebook Award

Screen Shot 2013-10-18 at 1.18.31 PMOn August 19th, Richard “Ric” Coady’s book, “The Maya Papyrus,” was awarded top honors by the 2013 Global Ebook Awards for the category of Historical Literature Fiction – Ancient, set before 500 AD. The result of 13 years of writing and research, including collaborating with an Egyptologist to confirm the accuracy of the story, “The Maya Papyrus” is a political thriller detailing war and adventure as the protagonist Aye rises to power. Coady spoke with us recently about the Global Ebook Awards and he shared a glowing review of the process.

“The accuracy of the book was critical to its success as it directly impacts the readability of the text,” said Coady. “I was pleased to see that the judges of the Global Ebook Awards are experts in the area and would appreciate my dedication to keeping the story as true to life as possible across the lifespans of several kings. I am excited to see the positive reviews from readers online and was ecstatic to hear that I had won the Gold Award.”

Registration for the 2014 Global Ebook Awards is now open! If you are interested in learning more about the award and submitting your work for consideration, please visit http://globalebookawards.com/registration/.