It’s more obvious than ever that the publishing industry is changing, and combined with the current retail slump, it is even more difficult to get independent books onto bookstore shelves. However, in addition to keeping your book distributor updated on your upcoming media appearances, there are some other things that you can do as an author to help make headway. One recommendation is to develop a strong following in your local community from which you can expand upon into other markets. Click here for some great tips from Penny Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., on how to get in good with your local bookstores.
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Your website offers the unique ability to sell directly to consumers. However, not everyone is comfortable providing their credit card information on an unfamiliar website. People may also wish to use a rewards membership with their favorite bookseller to buy your book. Therefore, it is wise to supply multiple purchasing options in addition to your own personal online store.
Bookstores may also check your website to see if you are supporting them by including them as a purchase option, so if you want to give your distributor its best shot at getting a corporate buy for your book, be sure to include purchase links to the corporate bookstore chains. If you want to get support from the independent bookstore community, then you'd better also link to IndieBound. Of course, there is the bookselling beast that is Amazon.com, but be careful not to irritate bookstores by linking only to Amazon. Sign up for the affiliate programs of the aforementioned retailers for easy linking options and to get yourself an extra little piece of the pie.
Here are links to the most common bookseller affiliate programs:
If you want to build strong support in your local market, you might also consider linking to specific bookstore websites in your area. The more purchase options, the more likely your website visitors are to buy!
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We're teaming up with independent bookselling superstars BookPeople this August for the first-ever Austin Publishing University, a seminar series for authors and aspiring authors on how to get your book published efficiently and profitably.
If you're in the central Texas area, we'd love to have you join us on the first four Sundays in August at BookPeople (603 N. Lamar, Austin, Texas). Sessions cost $15 each or $45 for all four. Attendance is limited to 60 people per session. To reserve a seat call (512) 472-5050 or visit BookPeople.
It's going to be a fun, educational event—one we hope will untangle some of the complexities of getting a book produced, distributed, and marketed, as well as answer any questions on the publishing industry attendees have, whether basic or advanced. Be sure to visit our Facebook page, and if you're the Twittering type, you can tweet about Austin Publishing University with the hashtag #apu09.
Descriptions of the four sessions of APU after the jump.
SESSION 1 – Ins & Outs: The Industry Overview
Sunday, August 2, 2009 1:00 – 2:30 pm
The publishing industry presents many business models for authors, each with its own set of pros and cons. This class will walk you through the industry and give you the tools you need to choose the best path for your project. Plus, you will gain a basic understanding of what it takes to successfully create and market content in the retail marketplace. Learn the ins and outs of traditional publishing, self-publishing, print-on-demand publishing, and hybrid models—and how to avoid publishing pitfalls along the way.
SESSION 2 – Hot Topic: Content is King
Sunday, August 9, 2009 1:00 – 2:30 pm
So you know you want to write a book, but the blank page is glaring at you and you just don’t know how to begin. Come learn some useful techniques for structuring the writing process, getting past the terrifying first blank page, and presenting your ideas in a compelling and engaging manner.
SESSION 3 – Killer Covers: Boosting Sales by Design
Sunday, August 16, 2009 1:00 – 2:30 pm
Book jackets serve a number of purposes that are essential to the success of your book. This class will teach you how to make informed decisions about your covers by examining a variety of topics including genre appropriateness, the role of research, concept and tone, using photography and/or illustration, branding a series, endorsements, author photos, printing technology, retail durability, Amazon thumbnails, and design trends. We will closely analyze examples of various cover designs including award winning work.
SESSION 4 – Storming the Market: Online, On the Air, and On the Shelves
Sunday, August 23, 2009 1:00 – 2:30 pm
As the old saying goes, it’s easy to write a book: Selling it is hard. This class will discuss how effective marketing strategies, combined with traditional publicity and new media, come together to create a successful book launch. We will review the basic timeline that you should follow, describing what to do before, during, and after your publishing date. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to get the perspective of veteran publishers and retailers from both us at Greenleaf Book Group and BookPeople.
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BookTour.com, the world's largest, 100% free directory of author events, recently announced that they have partnered with Amazon.com. Authors who list their tour dates on BookTour.com will now see those dates automatically appear on their corresponding Amazon Author Page. Check out author Daniel Silva’s Amazon page to see this in action. It's a great way to get even more exposure for your upcoming bookstore events. If you haven’t already signed up for a free BookTour.com account, now is the time! Click here to sign up.
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One of our favorite moments of last May’s BookExpo coverage was this one-liner from Bob Miller of HarperStudio: during a discussion on “Stupid Things Publishers & Booksellers Do,” he said, “No more Tuesdays with Marley?” He was, of course, referring to the hastily (and poorly) produced copycats that tend to follow breakout successes in the book world. (Here’s looking at you, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.)
The lesson is to not let market trends alone dictate the book you decide to write and publish. Most of the time, book buyers will see right through a blatant attempt to piggyback onto a successful book that was probably a success because it was a well-written and smartly packaged book—not because it contained special subject matter (boy wizards, emo vampires, etc.) that readers craved in and of itself.
Anyway, if you thought Tuesdays with Marley was clever, you’ll love the fake-bestseller contest put on by Steve Hely, author of How I Became a Famous Novelist (Grove Press). His book includes a mock NYT bestseller list [PDF alert], and he invited others to come up with their own bogus book titles. A personal favorite, from @ami_with_an_i: "Punk Girls Don't Get Fat: The Secrets of Staying Skinny on Just Two Packs of Camel Wides and a Flask of Cheap Whiskey a Day." See them all on Twitter and on Facebook. (PS: This is also near-brilliant social media marketing, obviously.)
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Some of you might remember that for an April Fool's gag, we gave seven "hot tips" for author events.
Over at HarperStudio's blog The 26th Story, they're giving you the good stuff: a great blog post with five important (real) things to remember for authors who are having book signings at local stores.
Those tips include:
- We are investing in you. Invest in us!
- Don't spread yourself too thin.
- Please don't second-guess the bookstore.
- Stay calm; do not panic!
- Enjoy your big day!
Check out the blog post, "An Author Walks Into a Bookstore (for a signing)" to get the complete information.
Other links to check out on the how-tos, goods, bads, uglies, and mathematics of book signings and author events:
- E-How's How to Do a Bookstore Signing
- Chip MacGregor's Booksignings and Websites
- Publishing Explained's book signing: organizing for success
- The Swivet's Pimpin' Your Book: The Economics of the Average Bookstore Event
- The Book Deal's Attention shoppers: Lessons learned from a book signing disaster (contributed by author Lisa Haneberg)
If you have any stories to share about author events (both as an author and as an antendee), let us know!
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The video just so happens to feature author Neil Gaiman, which you big bad book blog readers may recognize as a favorite of mine, and an extraordinaire at modern book promotional techniques.
Authors and publicists, share with us some of your favorite techniques for combining digital tools and marketing efforts for your books!
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amateur trailer for THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak
The means of advertising books and movies are many: posters in trendy locales, website ads, reviews in papers or blogs, displays at stores, entertainment segments or interviews on popular news and talk shows, and word-of-mouth that becomes increasingly easy to pass along through digital means. There are avenues, no doubt, and lots of them.
But the most ubiquitous is the movie trailer. It is the a popular and effective method of reaching people because we are an extremely visual culture. We want to see. And trailers indulge us in this craving. We are tantalized by the thirty-second or one- or two-minute glimpse a trailer offers us of the movie to come. They can be clever, dark, funny, mysterious, odd. They plant in our minds an excitement, an anticipation of something that might not be available to watch for over a year. And yet we love the trailers and their shorter brethren, the aptly-named teasers.
In recent years the publishing industry has capitalized on this success by producing their own counterpart: the book trailer. The challenges for the book trailer are unique. Those producing book trailers must start from scratch, gathering relevant words and phrases and key ideas and then translating them into images. The trailers come in multiple forms: still images with words, words by themselves, clever image-collages, flash movies, the rare animation, and on rarer-still occasions, live-action actors on sets.
It is the latter ones that I find the most intriguing.
Because they are the most cinematic, they are the most familiar to the widest audience. They could easily be mixed with their movie counterparts on websites, television commercials, even movie theatres. By pursuing cinematic techniques in book trailers and placing them in new promotional avenues, can we generate more audience interest and thus more book readers?
Cinematic book trailers can be a gamble, to be sure. The more elaborate a trailer, the more resources that have to be purchased. You risk alienating certain members of your audience who might see the shift in advertising to more resemble movies as pandering to a dumbed-down, mass-media culture. Readers and authors alike might be upset that your actors or sets don’t conform to their view of what the characters and the locations “should” look like. Many of these are the same issues encountered in book-to-film adaptations (which I wrote a post about a few weeks ago).
But “cinematic” doesn’t necessarily mean just like a movie trailer. What should be encouraged is taking what audiences know and like and finding unique ways to translate this to a book trailer. If more companies and authors see trailers as being a widespread, viable method of advertising their books, the demand for trailer creation will grow, promoting competition, increasing the quality and quantity of the product. And the more of a quality product, the more the prospective audience will see it, and thus the more people will hopefully pick up the book.
Check out the links below for some examples of book trailers who take their cues from their cinematic counterparts:
- The Indigo King by James A. Owen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nte13CIUAqw
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury: http://digitalbooktalk.com/?p=19
- A Great and Terrible Beauty by Gemma Doyle: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L93HOOy-lSc&feature=related
What is the current effectiveness of the book trailer and how can we improve it? Let us know your thoughts.
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Are you a Tweet? Or a Tweeter, Twitterer, Twit, Birdie, etc? Regardless of what charming epithet you may think to dub it, the word is out: Twitter is the newest fad in digital neuroticism. (We mentioned it way back in ‘07, but its recent rise has been so meteoric, and so important in cementing the book community, that it’s definitely worth revisiting.) Twitter is a “micro-blog,” one that limits your total characters to 140 per post. This means a certain level of succinctness that I, regrettably, find difficult to attain (this post, for example, is 3370 characters).
But that’s part of the challenge and the fun: spread the message in the most concise way possible. Think of it as a series of unlimited online text messages. Said messages are spread to your followers, who need only subscribe to your account to follow your every digital budge, shift, or stir. And when Times Online reports even famous persons tweeting their hearts out, you know that it’s a smart move (personally and professionally) to join the fray.
[Time out for a moment: Is it silly that it made me rather happy when I discovered the hilarious Stephen Fry was the most popular of the “famous persons” on Twitter? Followed by the beloved Neil Gaiman at lucky thirteen. And spread the love for Kevin Smith and William Shatner. And I am such the nerd.]
I mention the Twitter today firstly because I have finally become a Tweet, this being my preferred soubriquet. (Greenleaf has also been Tweeting for a few weeks now as well. Follow us!). Secondly—and more important to you—I mention it because it’s a unique service that offers authors a marketing apparatus that is simple, free, and at your fingertips, accessible via computer and phone, day or night. Tweet, and your followers shall hear the call. As I have mentioned before, authors and would-be authors creating and maintaining a digital presence—a way for people to find you—has become increasingly important. And for authors, especially those who are self-published or with independent publishers, services such as Twitter are invaluable as an addition to websites, social networking pages and blogs, through which Twitter can provide a seamless interconnectedness through the use of applications or widgets. Once you’ve built up a few hundred followers—hopefully relevant ones, and ones you interact often with via Twitters @ replies), do something as simple as giving away five free galleys or copies of your book to the first five respondents. The contest will most likely last a matter of minutes, and you’ve gotten your work into the hands of readers who will, hopefully, enjoy your book and then talk (or Tweet) about it.
And remember that Twitter, like all manner of online apparatuses mentioned, is not only for spreading the word about yourself. It is also about discovering others. I will do unto you as you have done unto me: the more people you follow (or friend, or message, or e-mail), the more who reciprocate in kind, and the stronger your following will grow.
If you’re completely new to Twitter, start an account, follow a few people, and then watch and listen to get a feel for how it works. (Here’s a good guide to Twitter etiquette.) To learn about more writers who Tweet, check out Felicia Day’s blog, which has a growing list of authors on Twitter. Jennifer Tribe also has a terrific list of publishers and other book people who Tweet.