On many occasions, an author will say "This is the first book in a series" or "I also have three follow-up manuscripts ready for publishing." It is admirable that any person would be able to write and create content for even one book, much less several potential titles, but authors sometimes get so wrapped up in the creative process that they forget to take a step back and consider the business side of a building a book.
Many of us probably remember our very first economics class, in which we were introduced to the hypothetical “widget.” In that class, we were asked to design and sell our widget, asking questions along the way. Some of these questions were:
Who will buy my widget?
Why should they buy my widget?
Where can they learn about my widget?
How will they find my widget?
Where can they buy my widget?
When will my widget be ready to sell?
How much does my widget cost to build?
What is the best price for my widget?
Are there similar widgets in the marketplace that my widget will be competing against?
As an author, you should be thinking of your book as a creative process and as a widget. Before you jump into the second and third books, you should focus your energy on making sure the first is a success. Remember to ask:
Who will buy my book?
Why should readers buy my book?
Where can readers learn about my book?
How will they find my book?
Where can readers buy my book?
When will my book be ready to sell?
How much does my book cost to produce?
What is the best price for my book?
Are there similar books in the marketplace that mine will be competing against?
These questions may be challenging for authors who have poured energy and emotion into writing their books, but the results can be a major factor toward the potential success of a book.
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Your Twitter profile is your introduction to new followers; your first firm handshake. It helps to establish you as an expert and shows other Twitter users exactly why they should follow you. To grow your platform and utilize Twitter to the fullest, avoid these common profile mistakes:
- No profile picture. People want to see who they are communicating with. Don't hide behind cartoons, logos, or--worst of all--the dreaded Twitter egg (the default image when you aren't using any photo, and the mark of a spammer).
- No description. If you can't describe who you are, what you do, and what you can offer your followers, no one can.
- No link to your website. Don't leave followers guessing about the person behind the Twitter account; make sure to include a link to your website, which should be hub of your platform.
- No location. Build a strong local following by including your general location--a city and state will do.
- Protected tweets. You want to build your platform and establish yourself as a public figure; protecting your tweets cuts you off from your audience and can be discouraging to potential followers.
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How do book buyers make their decisions?
What do they look for in a book?
Will they actually read my book?
These are questions that authors ask on a daily basis. They ask these questions because they don’t understand why their book was rejected, or why they can’t get a book buyer to return their phone calls. There are a myriad of factors that help buyers decide whether or not to bring in your book.
The number one factor: timing. Book buyers make their buying decisions 6-7 months in advance because they have a limited amount of space in their bookstore. At best, they can only carry a thousand titles, but there are millions of titles published every year! So, when an author contacts a store to carry their newly-published book, buyers simply don’t have no room for it at the time.
Additionally, publishers need to plan for the number of books they are going to print. By getting feedback from the retailers 6-7 months in advance, they can plan their print runs more accurately and maintain control over the printing process.
The second biggest factor involves the specifics of the ordering process. There are some bookstores that will buy directly from an author; however, the vast majority use a wholesaler and do not buy from an individual. These bookstores prefer to order the book through their wholesaler because it streamlines the ordering process. If your book is not available through a wholesaler like Ingram or Baker & Taylor, it is highly unlikely that your book will be available for purchase in brick and mortar stores.
An even stronger factor here involves the returns process. Bookstores know that they will inevitably need to return books for various reasons, and that this can be done efficiently through the wholesaler. The bookstore or buyer also knows that trying to get the author to take the returns directly can be very problematic, and prefer the certainty of a wholesaler.
A third factor in the buying process involves the cover of a book. Readers and buyers alike do judge a book by its cover. The cover needs to standout and be appealing, but it also needs to reflect the content and genre of the book.
Because calculating all of these factors is no easy task, an author is strongly encouraged to enlist the help of an industry professional. While many authors may have friends who are graphic designers or know their way around Photoshop, these friends are often unfamiliar with the expectations and criteria for designing a book cover. Unfortunately, these are VERY easy to spot, and buyers will shy away from any book that looks self-published.
The last factor to consider is pricing. Most authors want to price their book in such a way that it covers the cost of production and makes a significant profit. The reality is that pricing competitively is key -- you must match your price to what the genre dictates based on page count and binding (hardcover versus paperback). In many cases, authors over-price their book and then get frustrated when they don’t see the sales they were expecting.
Although book buyers consider timing, ordering ability, cover, and pricing to be the most important when deciding to buy a book, other factors like your author platform, book marketing and PR do play a role in their decision to take or leave your book.
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All of us at Greenleaf Book Group send congratulations and best wishes to our authors who have books launching in July!
The Feedback Imperative by Anna Carroll
Dark Hope by Monica McGurk
The Resilience Breakthrough by Christian Moore
The Good Dog by Todd Kessler
Walk Away Wealthy by Mark Tepper
Revenge of the Cube Dweller by Joanne Fox Phillips
The Silver Rings by Samuel Valentino
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By Scott Lorenz, Westwind Communications
A new way to use the power of Amazon and Twitter together was announced recently, and it should help authors sell more books. It's called #AmazonCart and it combines the best elements of Twitter with the shopping and buying power of Amazon.
Here’s how it works: Whenever anyone sees a tweet containing a product on Amazon and wants to purchase that product, they simply reply and type the hashtag #AmazonCart. The product is automatically and seamlessly added to their Amazon shopping cart.
Amazon then responds on Twitter and by email with a message confirming that the item is in the user’s shopping cart. In order to use this tool, which is available only to Twitter users in the United States and the United Kingdom (it’s called #AmazonBasket” in the UK), the user must connect their Twitter account to their Amazon account.
I fully expect that #AmazonCart will be readily accepted and used by impulse buyers, who will appreciate the ability to purchase without navigating to Amazon.com, entering a user name and password, searching for the item, and adding the item to their cart. Now they can simply respond with the hashtag and continue reading and sending tweets. This makes it even easier to buy books and other goods while online, as expressed by the program’s slogan: “Add It Now. Buy It Later.”
Twitter isn’t getting any revenue for adding this feature but is adding the tool as a forerunner of its expected venture into ecommerce in the near future. And the tool does help keep users on Twitter longer. And of course, #AmazonCart is expected to increase revenue for Amazon.
What does this mean for authors? As you promote your book on Twitter, you’ll now want to make sure to add the Amazon URL to all tweets. That’ll make it much easier for people who see the tweet to go ahead and buy. It’s really at the perfect intersection of inspiration and decision—so start doing it today! Start experimenting now with #AmazonCart and become familiar with it as a sales tool, because in the near future Amazon will very likely also make similar deals with Facebook and Google+.
But what about the statistic that upwards of 70 percent of items placed in shopping carts on retail sites don’t make it to checkout? This may be true in some cases, but it’s still important to get your book off the shelf and into the cart. As they say in hockey, you can’t score unless you shoot!
For anyone wanting to use #AmazonCart to sell content, attention must be given to the product description on Amazon’s site. It should contain all the information the consumer needs to push the order button. Beyond the sale, on-page content in Twitter also can result in product reviews or book reviews.
Mediabistro has already tracked the use of #AmazonCart and found that several authors have already begun tweeting Amazon links to encourage their followers to use the new feature.
Goodreads has also taken note of #AmazonCart and suggests that it can be very helpful for self-published authors. “Self-published authors can now use the social media network to sell books directly to their fan base,” stresses Michael Kozlowski, editor-in-chief of Good e-Reader. “Often books are for sale via the Kindle Store or physical titles using Amazon Createspace, or even the audiobook edition via Audible. Authors can now tweet product links out to their followers or pay famous people to endorse the link to their book. This is a brand new marketing vertical that all authors should be embracing.”
The Bottom Line: #AmazonCart will help authors sell books. Start including your Amazon URL in your tweets. Do it today! Watch this video for more information.
Book publicist Scott Lorenz is president of Westwind Communications, a public relations and marketing firm that has a special knack for working with authors to help them get all the publicity they deserve and more. Lorenz works with bestselling authors and self-published authors promoting all types of books, whether it's their first book or their fifteenth book. He's handled publicity for books by CEOs, CIA officers, Navy SEALS, homemakers, fitness gurus, doctors, lawyers, and adventurers. His clients have been featured on Good Morning America, Fox & Friends, CNN, ABC News, Nightline, Time, PBS, The Howard Stern Show, and in the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, the Washington Post, and Woman's World, to name a few.
Learn more about Westwind Communications’ book marketing approach at http://www.book-marketing-expert.com or contact Lorenz at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 734-667-2090. Follow Lorenz on Twitter @aBookPublicist.