Articles tagged "book marketing"

How Can I Sell More Books?

stacked_books_270pxOne of my favorite parts of my job is speaking with independent authors and listening to the challenges they face on their paths to success.  One of the most common questions during these discussions is how can I sell more books? As my colleagues and I began hearing it more regularly, we began asking ourselves how can we help them sell more books?

To answer this question, we asked 4,000 of Lulu’s best-selling authors to share the best practices that they’ve learned on their path to book marketing and sales success. Both the eagerness with which the authors replied to our request and what their responses revealed were eye-opening.

There are enough tips and tricks to fill 35 pages (download the whole report here), which the Lulu team has arranged into three intuitive and easy-to-digest sections: Know your Audience; Know your Book; and Know your Plan. The free guide also includes a section called Steal these Resources, wherein we give you access to valuable tools that can help you sell more books.

In the interest of helping self-published authors everywhere make the most of the holiday sales season, I want to share three of the most compelling insights and pieces of advice we gathered from Lulu authors.

1. 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. Nearly 60 percent of the authors we surveyed attributed their success to their book’s subject matter being targeted to a specific audience’s needs. The key questions Lulu authors answered about their target markets are: What is my audience interested in? Where do they spend time online and in the real world? How do they already satisfy their need for content similar to mine (e.g., blogs, magazines, social communities, events, video, etc.)? What can my book offer them that’s not available anywhere else? Good and full answers to these questions form the foundation of for what’s next.

2. 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:

  • The book’s title, topic and audience (ties back to #1 above)
  • Driving awareness and sales through word-of-mouth
  • Having both print and ebook versions available
  • Producing a high quality printed book with a great cover design
  • Having customer reviews available for buyers to peruse

3. It doesn’t take as much time or money as you think. More than three-quarters of Lulu’s most successful authors dedicated 10 hours or less to the marketing of their book each week. And if you think that sounds like a lot of time, more than 60 percent of them spent five hours or less. That’s just an hour a day spent on marketing that led to the right outcome. And here’s even better news: 65 percent invested less than $500 in marketing their book, while another 7 percent spent nothing at all. Where do they invest their marketing dollars? It goes mainly to advertising, website management, promotional copies, and events. For a detailed breakout of how authors spent their advertising budgets, you’ll want to have a look at page 25 of the guide.

The full guide, “Marketing Your Book for Holiday Sales,” is available for free at success.lulu.com. I invite you to download your copy now Happy selling!

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.

 

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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3 Marketing Must-Do’s to Sell Your Book

DanielandKelliSegars-with-Lulu-at-SPBE-2
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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Should you just give it away?

What’s better than free?

It might seem irrational, but one of the best ways that authors have found to gain popularity and profitability for their eBooks has been to, well, give them away. Authors have found that dropping the price of their books to $0, at least for a short time, leads to dramatically better sales when they do raise the price.

[Recommended Reading: How Free Books Build Your Brand as an Author and Authority]

Speaking on The Self Publishing Podcast, independent author David Wright found that this type of promotion works, especially with writers who work in genre fiction. “Free downloads drive sales,” he said. “Especially with the serialized fiction model, where if our readers get our first episode for free, they want to read on, so they buy the next episode or the full season.”

[Recommended Reading: How To Serialize with Lulu]

Dropping the price of your eBook can help raise your sales rank and visibility, while, at the same time, promoting other books you’ve written. Of course, the lost revenue can sting a bit, but who knows if readers would have taken the plunge on your book if you hadn’t taken the cost-free promotional plunge?

But is a free promotion right for you? For serialized fiction, the answer is yes. Get readers hooked, and then get them to buy the rest of your series or your other titles. For experts and speakers, the answer is also yes. You want to spread your brand and name, and an eBook is even better than just giving out your card. Use your eBook mainly as a promotional tool — not a revenue stream.

Here’s who this promotion might not work for: writers of long, literary fiction who depend on sales to make up for some of the painstaking work that went into their novel. It might also not work for historians, who also put in a tremendous amount of time and energy and whose specialized knowledge has a place in the marketplace and should be able to find a readership despite its cost.

Either way — it always helpful to experiment with different marketing tools. Dropping your price to zero might feel weird, but the eventual reward could be huge. If it doesn’t work out anyway, it’s just as easy to start charging more for your book, and go back to the drawing (or writing) board.

Have you tried this technique? What was your experience?

How to Market Mysteries & Thrillers

Knowing who your targeting is half the battle when it comes to marketing. In 2010, a Sisters in Crime survey found that when it comes to mystery and thriller readers, 68% are women, 35% live in the south, 48% are suburban dwellers, and 26% are 65 or older. While this doesn’t mean you should target all of your efforts to 70-year-old women living in the outskirts of Atlanta, there is a point: know where to find your audience. This also means deciding whether your book falls under any of the sub-genre categories, which include: general mysteries, thrillers, police procedurals, and the like. Once you have a sense of who your reader is you should be able to identify the bloggers and publications you’ll want to reach out to.

That said, there are a number of general tips for marketing mysteries. Here are just a few:

Attend a Conference: More so than any other genre, mystery readers and writers have the chance to meet others at various meet-ups. From the large, annual Mystery Writers Conference to the smaller “Love is Murder” convention, find out what’s going on close to you and consider attending, exhibiting, or even applying for a panel. To cut costs, consider getting a group of local writers together to jointly sponsor a table. While there, don’t shy away from others; make connections and friendships that will improve your writing and your ability to promote.

Increase your social media presence: Whether it’s Twitter, Pinterest, blogging, or all of the above, it’s important you have a presence online. Readers want to connect with writers and all of these mediums are an easy (once you get the hang of ‘em) way to do so.

How to Market Romance Novels

Rice, fish, squid and lamb by Miriiam Isa. “The book chronicles the first love encountered by the main character, Liz. It follows her observations from a tender age of 5 to present day, 2009.”

Romantic reads are hot. Literally. The genre had an estimated $1.368 billion in sales in 2011, and accounted for 13.4% of the consumer book market. Additionally in 2008, the last year for which this data is available, 74.8 million people claimed to have read a romance novel. Given the popularity of eBooks (29% of 2011 readers preferred digital), these stats are likely to go up in the coming years.

So where are these voracious readers, and how do you find them? Here are a few tips:

Join the Romance Writers of America Association: If you want in on this community, this is where it’s at. (Remember, writers of a genre are often heavy readers, too.) Formed in 1980 to help romance writers achieve success, there are now more than 9,000 members and numerous regional chapters. By becoming active within the organization you’ll not only meet others, either locally or at the annual conference who love and write within the genre, but you’ll also have an outlet for feedback and potential contacts in the blogging world.

Consider an eBook price cut: As mentioned earlier, there’s an eager market for romance eBooks so entice readers with a deal. At Amazon and other online retailers prices for an eBook can be as low as 99 cents. At Lulu, you even have the option to offer your eBook completely free to build your following. If you’re not comfortable at that price point, think about offering your novel for $2.99 or $3.99 for a day or a week. Under $5 is enough of an impulse buy that a customer will feel comfortable taking the plunge without any guilt. More purchases mean more discussion, which is ultimately what you want. Friends and family are the number one way readers discover new titles. Additionally, once your book starts selling, it will be paired with other similar titles at top retailers, which will give it more exposure.

Seek out book clubs: A Google search for “romance book club” brings up pages of results for clubs that solely read print or eBook romance novels. Reach out to the owners of these sites and ask to do free giveaways or call-in for a book club chat. Alternatively, team up with other romance novelists you know and pitch a gift basket giveaway and big video event.