Articles tagged "how to sell books"

Why Authors Need Their Own Website

If you're an author, a website is crucial for marketing your writing career.

You’ve written your book. You’ve published it. Congratulations! So…what’s next?

If you’re like many authors, you want to start selling it. But it’s not enough to just make it available for sale and cross your fingers. After all, you have a lot of competition out there. And while you have a lot of control when you independently publish, that comes with a lot of responsibilities, too. You have to do a lot of the heavy lifting for marketing on your own. It may seem daunting, and you might not even know where to begin.

Why not start with a website?

While selling your book in bookstores is great, let’s face it: you need to be found online. Your job in marketing yourself is to remove as many barriers as possible for potential readers. You want it to be easy to find you, easy to learn about you, and easy to buy your book.

Part of this is building your personal brand. That’s right, brands aren’t just for multinational corporations to slap on packaging and billboards. Building your personal brand lets readers know you outside of your book and helps you connect with them and build relationships. This will make them more likely to want to buy what you’re selling.

Websites and social media have made this easier than ever, because it allows you to directly share your thoughts with people. If you have a marketing strategy that doesn’t involve a website, you’re missing out on a lot. Plus, having a site just might make you a better writer.

Here are four ways having your own website will boost your writing career.

Engage Readers

How do you stand out in a world full of millions of people selling their books? By making it personal. Build relationships with readers by sharing your thoughts, responding to comments and questions, and entertaining them – in other words, by being a real person and not just a name on a book cover.

Building close connections to a group of fans can add up quickly; in fact, it’s the whole idea behind Kevin Kelly’s 1,000 True Fans premise. If you can give people a place to find you and you have a conversation with them, showing that you care about them and not just about their money, you’ll be well on your way to building your fanbase.

Sell Your Book

Hopefully your book is available in every place that will carry it, from Lulu to Amazon to brick-and-mortar stores. But there are a lot of benefits to selling your book on your own. Setting up a storefront on your website – allowing readers to find out about you and buy right away, without needing to go to another site – removes a barrier for purchase and makes them that much more likely to click that “Buy” button.

Network

Readers aren’t the only ones you’ll be able to reach with your website. Fellow authors, publishers, and booksellers are also online, and your website will allow you to network with them. Guest blog posts, for example, let you share tips and tricks and, even better, let you tap into someone else’s audience to build your own. Writing collaborations, workshops, author events – the bigger you grow your network, the more inroads you’ll have to great marketing and writing opportunities.

Practice Writing

Sure you’ve published a book, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement! Even the best authors are always striving to get better. If you’re updating your website regularly, you’ll get a ton of practice writing, whether it’s responding to visitors, posting writing exercises, or learning how to write concisely with your author bio. When you’re an author there’s no such thing as writing too much, and when you’re writing for your site – contributing to your marketing efforts – you’re killing two birds with one stone.

Getting Started

Making your own site has never been easier. Using a blogging platform like WordPress is a great place to start; you can create static pages that will remain relatively unchanged – for example, your bio or contact information pages – and have a built-in blog for regular updates. Or you can choose a platform like Squarespace and use their templates to make creating your own page a snap.

Some platforms are free, only charging you for extras, while some will run you a small subscription fee. And even purchasing your own domain name only comes out to a few bucks a month. No matter what route you go, look at the time and money you’re putting into it as an investment: a little work now will pay dividends as you continue to grow.

Do you have your own website? Tell us about it in the comments! Share your insights with your fellow authors about what works for you (and what doesn’t).

E-book or “Real” Book – Which Should You Publish First?

eBook print bookIn the past, traditional publishing followed a well-defined path of first releasing a “real” book in the most expensive format possible, followed by a less expensive paperback and an eBook. Today, with self-published authors determining the formats and release order for their work, is the traditional path still relevant? Should a print book be released prior to an electronic book?

Most of the books I have published are available in both print and electronic formats, but when I published Reality Check, I only published it as an eBook. The reason was that I wanted the book to be available quickly with a minimum of delay. The book was an exploration of the issues I faced as a Brit who moved to live in Brazil in 2013 and I wanted it to be very fresh with comment on current affairs during this time.

The book did well. Amazon featured it as the #1 book about Brazil for a long time and as I look at their charts while writing this article, I see it remains in the top 20 for books about South America. Yet, I now believe it was a mistake to release it only as an eBook.

The real answer to the question eBook or print book is “both.” I don’t think the publishing order matters now, so long as the versions are released at approximately the same time. Some readers are eBook fanatics. They only download books and consume them on their Kindle, iPad, phone, or other reading devices. Other readers want to feel a physical book in their hands and to decorate the bookshelves of their home with beautiful objects.

However, the process of self-publishing an eBook and a print book is slightly different. You will probably need to take your final edited manuscript and subject it to two separate preparation processes.

Getting your manuscript eBook ready for publication means the manuscript must be formatted in a machine-readable format, usually HTML (Lulu provides an excellent eBook conversion tool for non-technical authors). You can’t specify details such as the font size because the reader may change all of this on their eReader anyway. You will also need to add links, similar to website links, so the reader can click and find key places in the book, such as the index or chapters.

Getting your print book ready for print publication is more of a what-you-see-is-what-you-get process. You need to ensure that your document is formatted to the correct size for your printed pages, that your font and character sizes all look exactly as you expect in the book, and details such as page numbers and starting a chapter on an odd-numbered page are applied.

These are two separate processes and having done both a number of times now, I suggest the quickest way to get your book out there once you have a final edited manuscript is to launch the eBook first. The preparation process for an eBook is quite fast as there is only a limited amount of formatting allowed and you can use free preview tools, such as Calibre, to see how it will look on an eBook reader. Once submitted to Lulu, your eBook will be available for purchase almost immediately.

Once you have the eBook out there you can focus on taking the same manuscript and formatting it for the physical book. This process takes longer because once you have the book ready, you still need to purchase a single copy and check that it has printed correctly. You might get it right the first time, but I have found that I usually miss something the first time around and get the printed version right on the second attempt.

With luck, you can have the eBook and physical book published within a week or two of each other and both available so that customers who like either format will be satisfied. And, that book I wrote about Brazil? The second edition is going to be published as a paperback on Lulu next month because I don’t want to ignore all those people who still love “real” books!

Author BIO

Mark Hillary

Mark Hillary is a British author, blogger and advisor on technology and globalization based in São Paulo, Brazil. He is a regular contributor to journals including The Huffington Post, Reuters, The Guardian, and Computer Weekly.

Mark live-blogged the 2010 UK General Election for Reuters. He was an official blogger at the 2012 London Olympics. He was shortlisted as blogger of the year in 2009 and 2011 by Computer Weekly magazine.

Contact Mark: www.markhillary.com (@markhillary)

Mark on Lulu: http://j.mp/lulumarkhillary

 

Facebook CEO resolves to read 26 books in 2015

Could yours be one of them?

 

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, is known for his ambitious New Year’s resolutions. Last year he learned to speak Mandarin. In past years he became a vegetarian (except for animals he killed himself), made an effort to meet a new person everyday (who was not a Facebook employee), wrote a thank you note everyday, and wore a tie every day (well, this one isn’t as extraordinary).

This year’s resolution, announced on January 2nd, is as equally impressive. “My challenge for 2015 is to read a new book every other week — with an emphasis on learning about different cultures, beliefs, histories and technologies”

He is also challenging all Facebook users who like his A Year of Books page to read the same books in the same time period. The page invites everyone to “read a new book every two weeks and discuss it here…. Suggestions for new books to read are always welcome.”

As of this writing, A Year of Books has received over 225,000 likes and Amazon announced that the first title to be read, The End of Power by Moisés Naím has already sold out. Lucky for us, print-on-demand books never sell out!

We are encouraging all Lulu.com non-fiction authors who specialize in cultural writing, belief systems, history, or technology, to tell Mr. Zuckerberg about your book.

It’s easy to do

  • Visit the Facebook page, A Year of Books and click the Like button to join the group.
  • Pitch your book on the page. Tell Mr. Zuckerberg how your book will help him learn about different cultures, beliefs, histories and technologies. Think of this as your 30-second elevator speech and don’t forget to include a link to your book to make it easy to find.
  • Tell your fans, friends and family that you’ve nominated your book to be read so they can like your post.
  • And, finally be sure to let us know you submitted your book for consideration. Simply tag us in your pitch by including Lulu.com in the post or using the hashtag #Lulu.

We wish you the best of luck and hope to see your book on Mr. Zuckerberg’s 2015 reading list.

Email Marketing 101: Making the Most of Seasonal Sales

Let’s try out a few seasonal metaphors for your email marketing efforts…

Stuff your readers’ stockings with email! Deck the halls with deals on eBooks! Pass the turkey and mashed potatoes… and… strategically develop an email marketing plan that takes advantage of Lulu.com’s sales and special offers…

Okay, so that last one doesn’t really flow. But – it’s good advice all the same. Email marketing that coincides with Lulu’s impressive special offers is the next best thing to having your books carried right down your readers’ chimneys.

What’s so great about it? For starters, email marketing works. Social media may seem the savvier approach, but email is roughly six times more effective at bringing in new buyers than Facebook and Twitter. Email gives you a great platform for sharing special offers and introducing new books, without your carefully crafted content getting lost in the endless scroll of tweets and status updates.

And it’s simple. We were recently inspired to share a template with you based on an email from one of our authors to his reader base. So, you can take what’s below based on an offer we currently have running – and be sure to get the email out soon.

 

Email Subject Line: Get <Book Title> for 35% Off

Email Body:

Have you ordered a printed copy of <book title> yet? <Placeholder for one line description of title> If you haven’t placed your order already, then today is the day to do it.

Until December 3, you can save 35% by checking out with code WQT32 on Lulu.com. Simply visit the link: <Placeholder for link to book>, add it to your cart and apply the code at checkout to have your discount applied.

Plus, you can grab copies at a great deal to share with friends and family.

Grab a copy today! <Link to book>

<Author name>

 

See? Simple. You can highlight the current savings, briefly describe the book, and gives easy instructions. It’s low-pressure, good-natured, informative and brief. You can even provide a link right to your Author Spotlight and save your readers from searching.

And, though we are currently entering the season of sharing and shopping, this strategy works year-round. At Lulu.com, we’re always looking for ways to promote you and sell your books. Whenever we have a sale — seasonal or otherwise — send out an email blast letting everyone know. After all, ‘tis always the season for reading!

Expand Your Distribution and Reach More Readers

At Lulu.com, we want to give every author the tools they need to have a chance at success. After all, there’s a lot to do with your self-published book between editing it, formatting it and designing the perfect cover. That doesn’t even include writing it! But there’s one aspect you might not have given a lot of thought to yet: how exactly are you going to sell your book?

Selling on Lulu.com is a great start, but to reach the largest pool of potential readers you need to be in the most stores possible – that means Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and more. Luckily, Lulu.com’s globalREACH distribution service lists your book on websites around the world in a few quick steps.

So why should your book have globalREACH? Well, there’s no reason not to get it! Worried that it’ll take too much time and effort on your part to get everything set-up? Think again – it couldn’t be any easier.

You Can’t Judge a Book By Its Cover. But….

We’ve all heard the old idiom, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” And that’s totally right — judging something based on a first glance often leads to false impressions and close-mindedness. However, covers, even in the age of eBooks, are still an incredibly important part of the browsing experience, and are often the first interaction a prospective reader has with a book. A cover should be artful, interesting, and represent some essence of the book. Often, it’s the only actual image a reader will receive to spark their imagining of the world of the novel.

But, sometimes, especially with first-time authors, or authors whose art is solely the written word, covers can bring you the wrong kind of attention. For instance, you don’t want to show up on Nathan Shumate’s Lousy Book Covers Tumblr. While his site has caught a lot of flack, and unfairly ridicules artistic endeavors, he does offer some wise words in a Huffington Post article for authors when it comes to book design:

“Print design is a mode of communication all its own, and there is at least as much study and experience involved in gaining a competence in design skills as there is to becoming a credible wordsmith…a book’s author is not automatically qualified to design her own cover.”

It’s true that there are tons of authors out there who are also insanely capable and skilled artists, but sometimes, we writers tend to overreach. We think, because we have just finished a book, why not just knock off the cover art right there? It’s best to take a step back and think about different artistic skill sets. The last thing an author wants to do is put off a potential reader because of an unattractive cover.

Like everything else an independent author does, getting a nice cover for your book is a mix of networking and savvy. One idea is to take the whole cover design project and to make it into a promotion for your book. Post a sample chapter of your book and ask readers to use it to come up with ideas for a cover. Have a design contest, with the winner getting a free copy of the book they helped design. It gets the word out about your book before it’s published and can help you reach out to readers and fans. Another option is to use one of Lulu’s Book Cover Design services. A great way to avoid the “lousy cover” trap is to put the job in the hands of a professional artist.

And even though they are important, don’t fret too hard over the cover. As prominent book cover artist Chip Kidd reminds us in an Esquire article titled How to Make People Buy Books: “There are so many factors that go into whether somebody buys a book — the jacket’s just one of them.”

And, to end on a high note, we have plenty of noteworthy examples of exemplary book covers by independent authors. You can peruse them in our Pinterest Indie Cover of the Day Album.