Articles tagged "marketing"

How to use Pinterest to Market your Book

Pinterest is a new social media networking site that lets you pin up images to a virtual cork board that you can share with your friends. The site has gained popularity in record time and can be a great tool to help you sell more books.

What makes the site addictive is that it makes it so easy to find images that are inspirational, beautiful, funny, touching, awe-inspiring and creative. This makes it the perfect place for photographers to come for inspiration and also to share their own sources of inspiration. Note: I said find and share sources of inspiration – NOT use this as another place to plaster your own content. Like with any social network, the relationships are founded on two-way interactions and the sharing of valuable resources and knowledge. Ensure you have this foundation before you start to market your own products. Once you’ve established a loyal and engaged network, then you can begin to promote your own products here, but do so sparingly. These efforts will have a much more significant impact on sales if they do not overwhelm and bombard your audience.

In an article called How To Market Your Consumer-Based Business On Pinterest, author Kelsey Jones provides impressive stats about the growth of Pinterest. She also links to several brands that are using the site well for marketing purposes.

Get creative and give the site a try. It has great potential for all creators, but we wanted to specifically call out the obvious fit for people who create their own photo books. For example, I just did a quick search on Lulu for books on photography and came across Photography by Virginia Perry-Unger, which has beautiful images that I would definitely pause to examine if I saw them posted on Pinterest.

Photo Books make great Pinterest posts

 

If you’ve got other helpful tips for using Pinterest, we’d love to see them in the comment section here. We’d also love to connect with you on our Lulu Pinterest Page.

Tackling Twitter, Part 1

(Click here for Tackling Twitter, Part 2: Replying, Retweeting & Using the Hashtag, Oh My!)

It’s hard for some writers to express a thought in 140 characters, but in today’s world of Pinterest, Facebook, and blogging it’s necessary. As The New York Times recently noted, “With the digital age comes new conceptions of authorship.” This is especially true for authors who don’t have the marketing muscle of a publishing house at their disposal.

Not everyone has been quick to jump into the “Twittersphere.” Explains author Lucas Klauss, “I was — like a lot of writers, I imagine — initially pretty suspicious of Twitter and its supposed benefits. I thought it would end up being just a big time-suck. And sometimes it is! But I’ve been happily surprised at how fun it can be.”

He used the social media platform to promote his book trailer (more on these at a later date). “By far most of the views I got were from Twitter — people retweeting it and saying they thought it was funny. And it connected me to other authors I hadn’t yet met.”

Wanting to be on Twitter and actually getting the mojo to join and keep on top of it are very different. It can also be intimidating and, take it from me, just plain weird at first.

Don’t let it be.

Remember how you tackled the blank page and completed a book? Well, trust me, Twitter has nothing on that. However before you start crying from the Twitterverse’s rooftops, remember the following:

Define your online persona: Being on Twitter means others will come to “know” you so think about which part(s) of yourself you want to put out there. What interests and hobbies will you promote? Your writing and reading, sure, but maybe you also love old Nintendo games, tulips, or your Subaru? Whatever it is take note and once you join, seek out similar folks with whom you’ll want to have a dialog.

Contribute to the conversation: Someone you follow is looking for a book recommendation? Answer him or her. Another person posts a link to a blog post you loved? Say so. The point of Twitter is not to tirelessly promote your own work but build your own community of online “tweeps” who will answer your questions and hopefully support you

Stay committed: The most popular people on Twitter tend to update their feeds often so plan on tweeting at least twice a day. If you’re worried about making such a big commitment, strategize. Keep a running log of future tweets as far out as you can handle. This can help reduce the pressure to always be by your phone or computer

Cross-pollinate: I’m not normally a big fan of corporate buzz words, but in this case it makes sense. Basically, you want to make sure that all of your various social media platforms are interconnected, meaning that your Twitter profile points to your blog and vice versa. This helps people become aware of your entire body of work. Thankfully, this linking process isn’t usually very difficult!

Be patient: Building followers takes time. It’s unlikely you’ll acquire 5,000 followers overnight but that’s okay. You want quality — as in people with similar interests who you can have a dialog with — over quantity.

Check out next week’s column for tips on using the hashtag (see below), the difference between replying and retweeting, as well as a whole host of general do’s and don’ts!

(Click here for Tackling Twitter, Part 2: Replying, Retweeting & Using the Hashtag, Oh My!)

Be Bigger Than Your Book: Author Spotlight with Jeff Taylor

Author Jeff Taylor

Jeff Taylor is a marketing genius with a heart of gold.

Having worked as a channel marketer for several top-tier companies such as Nortel and iContact over the years – Taylor started noticing a lot of common trends across all industries.

“Customers today want more than a product,” says Taylor.  “They need an experience or a  personal tie to a product and companies need to bigger than what they’re selling to build meaningful, lasting customer relationships.”

Taylor highlights exactly what he means in his new book Bigger than the Widget, available on Lulu.com.  And he has even taken his own advice in marketing his work by attaching it to a recognized brand and a good cause:  The V Foundation for Cancer Research.  All proceeds from Taylor’s book will be donated to the organization.

“If you want to have any success, if you truly want your product or service to be bigger and do bigger things, you have to be aware of the present trends and work to create an emotional connection with your customers,” says Taylor. “My family has been touched by cancer and the V Foundation was the most logical choice to associate with my book.”

Available Now on Lulu.com

When coming up with the idea of his book, Taylor was surprised by how many people tried to tell him it wouldn’t work.  But Jeff knew what his true motivation was:  this book was for his grandfather and he couldn’t be stopped.  He even considered going the traditional route first but couldn’t ignore the speed and customization self-publishing offers authors.

“The world of publishing is changing very quickly,” says Taylor.  “Companies like Lulu are so clearly the gatekeepers of the this new era of publishing.  I was honestly shocked at how easy it was to get to the right people and get my work done – even when it came to approaching organizations for sponsorships.  People are willing to help, you just have to know how to position yourself and be committed to your ideas. Then, you can accomplish anything.”

For more great marketing tips from a true professional, be sure to pick up a copy Bigger than the Widget by Jeff Taylor on Lulu.com and help support important cancer research today.


How to Write a Great Press Release

Writing a book is no small feat and you should be proud of yourself for all the hard work you’ve done.  The next step is to let the world know about your story and where they can find it.  A good press release can be just the thing to spread the word quickly and generate some buzz around your work.  But what makes for a great press release?  These 10 tips should help.

Know Your Audience and Stick to the Facts: Most press releases will be read by a journalist.  They aren’t interested in being sold something or helping you drive visitors to your product page.  The best way to increase the likelihood that your release will be picked up is to do as much of the work for the journalist as possible.  Provide interesting facts, numbers, statistics from analysts, or quotes from yourself or your readers.  Do your research and include it in the release – anything you can do to provide unique, interesting information will increase your release’s credibility and its chances of being picked up.

Write in Third-Person: A press release is always written in third person because you are announcing news to a fresh audience and need to make the subject of your release as clear as possible.

Say Who or What in the First Line: Journalists are very very busy and receive tons of releases everyday.  A good release should be able to get your point across within the first paragraph because most journalists only have time to read that far. It isn’t always possible, but if you can mention the subject of your story within the first sentence, better yet, the first word of your press release, you can immediately set an expectation for what the release is about and if it is relevant to the reader.

Keep It Simple: Try to focus on one main point throughout your release – otherwise you risk confusing your reader.  A great press release should make the journalist want to call you to learn more, not scratch their heads halfway through.  A good rule of thumb to help is to keep your release down to one page and around 300 – 500 words.

Call to Action: Every release needs to finish with a call to action.  In many cases, with a book release, the call to action would be along the lines of:  “Jim Brown’s book, The Greatest Book Ever, is available at www.lulu.com.”  Or, “To learn more, visit www.lulu.com.” Without a call to action, readers will finish your release and say:  “Ok, now what?”

Avoid Buzzwords: A journalist is interested in finding the story in your release so they can write their own.  Buzzwords like “innovative,” “breakthrough,” “revolutionary,” are all an immediate turn-off to a journalist.  They are more interested in the facts that can back claims like this up.

Boilerplate: Every press release has a short, two to five sentence paragraph at the bottom called a “boilerplate.”  This is a high-level summary about the press release’s subject material.  For an author, think of it as a brief bio about yourself to give a journalist more information if they need it.  Items like how long you’ve been writing, where you’ve been featured, where readers can find your work, awards and accolades, etc. are all good things to mention in a boilerplate and establish yourself as a reputable source.

Think of a Catchy, Thought Provoking Title and Subheading: I list this close to the bottom because a great press release title should summarize the content of the release in one line.  A clever title can often be just the thing to catch a reader’s eye.  If you can’t think of anything catchy, then try to highlight the most interesting, exciting news from the body of the release. You don’t have to use subheadings, but they can be a great way to give just a little more detail about your release upfront.  This should be complimentary to your title, and aim to further hook the journalist into reading further.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Think of keywords associated with your work and the audience you want to reach.  Good SEO can help drive your release up further in search results on sites like Google and Yahoo!. Simply including keywords relevant to your subject will increase your release’s visibility.

Sending It Out: There are many ways to send out a press release.  I recommend a wire service like PRWeb, PRNewswire, or GlobeNewswire.  Services like this typically charge a one-time fee that lets you use their distribution lists and will let you optimize your release in multiple formats such as a PDF, HTML, or plain text to ensure you reach the most readers.  However, you may have your own list of contacts too.  Emailing a release to a journalist is fine, but remember, you don’t like to be spammed and they certainly don’t.  Emailing a journalist multiple times, addressing them by the wrong name, or sending them content that isn’t relevant to their field of coverage is a sure way to get yourself blacklisted from ever getting coverage from them.

Now that you’re ready to tell the world your story, feel free to use the handy press release template below.  Just copy and paste the layout into a document and plug in your own information. Note the “###” at the bottom.  This indicates the end of the release.  Also, if you mention Lulu, please be sure to include this line at the end of your boilerplate:  “The views and opinions expressed in this press release do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Lulu.com or its affiliates.” For more examples, also check out the Lulu press center.

Press Release Template

Using Your Book as a Business Card

Thanks to the Internet, the world is getting smaller everyday.  People are more connected now than ever, which means there is more competition to stand out than ever.  In a CNN article titled Why Just Being Good at Your Job is Not Good Enough, journalist Mark Tutton talks about how getting lost in this ocean of noise can even have a direct impact on your career.  With so many people so readily available, proving your relevancy may seem next to hopeless.  But it’s not.

Right now, at this very second, you have at your fingertips all the tools and resources you need to do anything. Really.  We live in an age where you can just wake up one morning and decide to cut an album, make a movie, or publish a book and can unleash your remarkable ideas upon the world in an instant.  Gone are the days where you had to maneuver around the various barriers into these industries.  Now, you just have to have some motivation and know where to start. You’re reading this blog too, so you’re already looking in the right places.

Building a successful career begins with knowing your worth.  Lulu is centered around the idea that everyone is an expert in something – no matter if you’re a model train builder, a prized physicist, a world-class chef, or a dedicated couch potato.  Your unique knowledge and experiences are what make you, you, and what better way to share that knowledge and expertise than through a published book?

“Writing a book…instantly establishes your credibility to potential customers and employers” Dan Schwabel, author of Me 2.0, told Tutton.  “You can self proclaim you’re an expert in your field all day long but the book is…your calling card.”

Whether you’re going for a job interview, meeting colleagues at a conference, or working on a big partnership, imagine how much more memorable you’d be when everyone else puts their cards on the table and you sit down your book. Or think about the lasting impression you’d leave if you said:  “Oh, you can find me in the iBookstore and on Amazon.”

“If you look at two resumes and they look the same, but one person wrote a book on the topic you’re interviewing for, you’re going to show more interest in that person,” Schwabel tells Tutton.  “Whether it’s a blog, an eBook or a published book, you’ve got to have something now, and a book has the most credibility.”

To Schwabel’s point, if writing and publishing a book seems overwhelming right now, try starting a blog or anything else that gets your name and your content out there.  You’re building a brand for yourself though, so remember to treat yourself like a business and be respectful of anyone you’re reaching out to.  For more help on marketing your work once you’ve gotten it out there, check out this recent post.

 

Marketing Your Book with Promotional Materials

Looking for a way to keep excitement of your book going after a speaking event? Bringing along printed marketing collateral is a great (and inexpensive) way to reinforce your message, and promote your book.

Here are a few ideas to include for your printed collateral:

  • Your book cover should be prevalent
  • Mention your book title several times throughout the page
  • Point out where your book can be purchased
  • Highlight a short review or quote made about the book
  • Consider a special offer
    • Example: Link to a free chapter eBook preview
  • Encourage readers to visit your site, sign up for your newsletters and your Facebook and Twitter pages

If you’ve collected contact information from your audience, be sure to write them a note of thanks. A little follow up can go a long way in keeping the momentum of your great event going!

Need extra help? Lulu now offers a paid service where you can purchase promotional materials including: posters, bookmarks, postcards, and business cards.

Lulu Promotional Material

How does the process work? Once this service is purchased, you will provide us with the front cover image of the book as a high resolution JPEG or PDF. We’ll also need additional information about your book, such as a back cover description or a quote from the book which can be placed on the print piece. This should be enticing and give your reader a glimpse into the book. Be sure to provide enough information to catch their attention and leave them wanting more.

Click here to read more about Lulu’s new promotional materials service.

5 Things to Avoid When Creating an eBook

UPDATE:  Learn More About eBook Publishing at Our New eBook Page

A little known fact about eBook distribution is that each retail channel has their very own set of requirements for accepting content that your eBook must meet before it can be sold. These requirements may sound scary at first, but they are actually pretty great.  By following the requirements set by each retailer, you can be sure your customers get the most robust experience from reading your work.  To help, here are the top five reasons we’ve seen eBooks bounce back from distribution.

  • No description or description too short – Describing your work might be the most important step of all.  Not only does a book description double as a great marketing tool to get readers interested, it’s also used to catalogue your work in retail channels all over the world. For this step, you’ll be asked to provide details including category and genre, keywords, description, language, licensing and edition number. It’s crucial you provide consistent information here that matches any details you have already provided or stated in your book and on your cover. Many retailers require this information to be accurate in order to list your content and make sure it gets in front of the right readers.
  • Metadata” mismatch - Simply put, metadata is the who, what, when, and where of your eBook.  Much like your eBook’s description, metadata includes items like your title, author name, volume number, price, etc. and are what most retailers use to appropriately list and categorize your content.  Metadata must perfectly match so that customers searching for your eBook in a catalogue can find it.
  • Up-selling or listing a price on your cover – You can adjust the price of your eBook at anytime and we encourage you to experiment with different prices that are competitive with other books in the same genre.  With that in mind, avoid listing the price of your eBook anywhere on the cover, in the description, or in the eBook itself so you can be flexible to change the price later if you need to.
  • Inappropriate or illegal content (erotic, malicious, or plagarized content) – This one is pretty self-explanatory.
  • Non-English content – Unfortunately, we’re unable to distribute non-English eBooks at this time.
  • Poor image quality (borders, pixels) – You’ve probably come across a picture on the Internet that was hard to see no matter how much you zoomed in or reloaded the page.  Pixelated or blurry images won’t show up on today’s high resolution computers, tablets, phones and eReading devices. This means they can’t go in your eBooks either.  If you decide to include images in your eBook, we can only accept high-resolution, three color, RGB (red, green, blue) formatted pictures.  Four color, CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, key black) images will not translate properly.


 

Marketing Your Book at Book Fairs

This past May, Lulu team members, along with numerous works by our remarkable authors, attended Book Expo America 2011 in New York City, the largest book convention in the United States.  Book Expos such as BEA offer great opportunities for authors to display their content, meet fellow authors, and hear insights from industry professionals.  Check out the video above of the action from this year’s BEA and see why Lulu’s booth was the talk of the show – drawing such great crowds.  If you are thinking about attending or displaying your book at a book fair, here is a list of up-coming events.  Hopefully this video will get you excited for BEA next year, as we’d love to see both you and your book(s) at the show.

Everybody Needs an Editor

Happy Editing Month, everyone. Didn’t know May was Editing Month? Well it is, because Lulu says it is! And we all have our virtual red pens poised and ready to edit some great books!

“I was an English major, so I don’t need editing.” “My professor already edited it.” “My mother was a teacher for 27 years; she can proofread it.”

We here at Lulu have heard every rationalization authors have for not investing in professional copy editing. It’s completely understandable—editing can be costly, especially if you have a very long manuscript. And for some, it may seem preposterous to pay someone else to do what your professor or a relative has already done.

So why should you consider a professional copy edit?

First, remember that, while it is great that you have friends or family that will closely read your book (trust me, not everyone is that lucky!), more than likely, these people are not editors by trade. A teacher is not an editor. An English major, while he or she may have a better grasp on the English language than most, probably isn’t up-to-date on the changing style rules. (The Chicago Manual of Style is on its 16th edition—which edition is that dusty copy of yours?) Not to mention, your friend knows how hard you’ve worked on your book and may be afraid to tell you that your dialogue is dry and unrealistic, or that Chapters 9 through 14 go off on a tangent they didn’t understand. An editor doesn’t know you from Adam, and isn’t concerned with hurting your feelings—they want your book to be as good as it possibly can be.

Second, a proofread is not a copy edit. What your friends are probably doing for you is checking for typos and grammar mistakes. While these are, of course, very important, they only scratch the surface of what a true editor looks at in a manuscript. A professional editor is also looking at syntax, word choice, organization, plot and character development, text flow, inconsistencies in tense, among other issues.

Third, consider the value that a copy edit will add to your book. You wouldn’t go out the door without looking in the mirror to make sure your shirt is buttoned correctly, right? Now imagine if you had a stylist from Vogue stopping you at the door each morning to tell you if your shoes are inappropriate for the interview/wedding/wrestling match you’re headed to. That’s what editing does for your book. It adds credibility—you obviously think so much of your book, and of the information you are relaying, that you won’t settle with only one pair of eyes going over it. Yes, the cost of editing might be higher than what you’d planned to spend on the whole pre-publishing process, but it’s really an investment in your book’s future.  You’ve worked on this book for months, or maybe years—you certainly don’t want your reviews to start, “Great message overall, but couldn’t get past the glaring typos and strange sentence structure.”

How can Lulu help with editing?

An Editorial Quality Review is a great place to start. This service is included in our three main Pre-Publishing Packages, and is also available on its own. This review not only provides helpful feedback that you might use in your own revisions, but also recommends one of our three levels of copy editing. And to celebrate Editing Month, we are offering the Editorial Quality Review itself, normally $199, for $149, plus 15% off the price of whichever copy edit we suggest. And if you decide to take that polished manuscript all the way to the finish line with one our publishing packages, we’ll reduce the cost of the Review from the package price. To get started, just click “Add to Cart” here.  This promotion, along with Editing Month festivities, will end on June 1, 2011.

What Do St. Valentine and Book Publicity Have in Common?

In a nutshell they are both misunderstood. Poor St. Valentine–there is actually no historical evidence that his sentiments were intentionally romantic. It is reported that he healed the blind daughter of his jailor and then wrote her a note signed: “From Your Valentine.” That was his name after all; how else would he have signed it?

Just like the St. Valentine story, perceptions of the best way to promote your book are not always true. You might want to dump the idea of promoting your book and start courting the notion of promoting yourself. Let’s remember whose idea the book was: yours!

You are the best publicity tool, not the book.

It was never the Valentine’s Day card that did it for me; it was the message in the card that made me smile thinking of the sender. For fun, let’s say your book is the card and its contents are the message. The most compelling part of that idea is the author behind it, you. Think about the last few books you’ve loved. You should be able to tell me something about the authors: their history, credentials, education. Those are the things your readers will need to absorb to make the same connection with you. Once that connection is bridged, you might have a relationship that surpasses a first date, your readers will know you as the expert on the topic or a leading resource in your genre.

How does this happen? For example, if you’re an expert on ancient Rome, and have written a book about Roman saints, now would be a great time to be promoting your expertise. Think of all the newspapers, magazines, and TV shows that want to talk about the origin of Valentine’s Day! You could be their go-to person to explain the myths and little-known facts about poor misunderstood St. Valentine.

We’ll never know if St. Valentine’s intentions of romance in his note were real or not. What IS real, however, is the impact that a great publicity campaign can have on your book sales!