We all remember the fervor that overtook the publishing industry when e-books hit the mainstream. Suddenly, it was the fastest growing segment and everyone was anxious to make sure their books had an Amazon Kindle e-Book Edition, a Barnes & Noble NOOK Edition, an e-book edition that was available on iTunes, and through Apple iBookstore, etc.
And the excitement of the new e-book market lasted for several years, in fact, to such a degree that some authors began publishing their books ONLY as e-book editions, because they liked the speed and convenience of it.
But then a funny thing happened. With the exception of a fortunate few (you know, the e-book authors you’ve read about in the news), e-book-only editions failed to reach the lofty promises of all that hype! It turns out, people still like touching actual books. So the publication of paperbacks and hardbacks jumped back into the fray, along with their newfound format–the e-book!
And then, almost overnight, another new format caught readers’ (or should we say listeners’) attention: audiobooks. With longer daily commutes, not to mention the convenience afforded by Audible, and the tendency of people to multi-task more than ever, audiobooks soon became the fastest growing segment.
Add Large Print and/or multi-media-enabled editions, and traditional publishers were looking at greater complexities and thinner profit margins for each book they gambled on. Soon, in many cases, particulary for the “mid-listers,” traditional publishers were having to make tough choices about which format(s) they would publish/maintain, and which format(s) they would allow to “expire” (much to the chagrin of their authors). Without the zero-inventory convenience available through POD self-publishing, traditional publishers frequently could not justify the time/expense of supporting a growing family of formats for every book. It just stopped making economic sense.
Which is why more books are now self-published than are published by all the traditional publishers combined! With print-on-demand (POD) self-publishing, you never have to worry about your publisher expiring one of your editions, ceasing future print runs, or not helping you pursue each and every format you are interested in.
Hint: You should be interested in all of them.
After all, you never know whether the potential reader you reach via your marketing efforts is going to prefer a paperback, an e-book, a hardback, a large print edition, or an audiobook; so make sure all those choices are available. Once the initial cost of publishing each format is absorbed, the economies of scale in the POD self-publishing world allow authors to affordably maintain all the formats they want, for as long as they want.
We talk a lot about book publishing on this blog. We cover promotions, discounts, new publishing options. Sometimes marketing takes a backseat because, let’s face it, every book and every author is slightly different. It’s challenging to arrive upon hard and fast rules that will work for everyone (although 5 hours with a personal marketing assistant is pretty close, because of the personal nature of the marketing plan and 1-on-1 follow-up).
But given our nearly two decades of experience helping writers become published authors at Outskirts Press, we have been able to identify five top marketing tactics that can help authors find the success they are looking for. Here they are…
Social Media – We know, we know. We mention this a lot. And you’re either already interested in social media marketing, or you aren’t. And by interested, we mean, you find yourself engaging in social media in your free time. If you naturally gravitate away from social media, you won’t have success marketing your book this way because, even though it is mostly free, it is also time consuming. And the only way time consuming things are profitable or “successful” is if you’re having fun doing it anyway. Fortunately, the term “social media” has become so broad nowadays that you have a pretty good chance finding something you like. You might find success on one platform but not another. Lots of people spend lots of their free time on Facebook when they can’t imagine anything more annnoying than Twitter. You’re usually either a Pinterest fan or a SnapChat fan. So instead of trying to cover all the social media platforms simultaneously, engage onlywith the platform(s) that you want to be on when you’re not promoting your book. Your fans or followers or friends will start to get to know the writer behind the book and before you know it, casually promoting your book from time to time won’t strike them as quite so gratuitous.
Blogs – In some circles, blogging can fall into the more broad catch-all term of “social media” but blogging is a special kind of artform, and therefore a different opportunity, especially for writers. Since blogging already features the medium you are promoting (the written word), blogging is a natural promotional platform for many authors. Writers typically love to write, and most people are by defition of the “instant-gratification” variety. Well, blogs are the perfect combination of those elements. You can be writing at 9am and be “published” on your blog at 10am. And the more followers or subscribers you have, the more (and more immediate) the feedback is that will you receive. This, in turn, often fuels bloggers/writers to submit content to their blogs even more frequently, which, in turn, feeds the voracious appetites of their growing subscriber lists. Talk about a virtuous circle!
Email – If you read any “cutting edge” marketing articles, or find yourself speaking with a marketing expert under 30, you might think email marketing is dead. Statistics show, however, that nothing can be further from the truth. For one, if your potential customer doesn’t use their email account anymore, they also aren’t going to read your book. If their attention span is only capable of 140 characters at a time, what chance do you have to attract them to your 700-page book? Those aren’t your buyers, so don’t try to pursue them. But your buyers probably WOULD be attracted to a newsletter or free ebook or whitepaper that you offer from your website or social media account in exchange for their email address. Just remember to always include an “unsubscribe” link at the bottom, always give them valuable content, and always treat their time with respect. Building an email subscriber list takes time and is not a get-rich-quick scheme, but once you have one comprised of loyal and appreciative recipients, you’ll rarely feel disappointed by the results of sending them some valuable (and, yes, promotional) information.
Online Reviews – If you’re a writer, you’re probably also a reader. So take a moment to write a book review on Amazon after finishing reading that latest page-turner. You can sign your review with your name, and add that you’re the author of such-and-such. Amazon gets so much traffic, often writing a valuable, thoughtful review for a very highly-ranked and popular book will lead to a noticeable uptick in the traffic to your book (just make sure your sales page turns browsers into buyers). You can also systematically (and respectfully) target the top 100 Amazon reviewers and offer to send them a free review copy. They get inundated with offers, so don’t press it or become belligerent; but if they like your query, and think they’ll like your book, they’ll almost certainly request a copy, read it and write a review for it. This is an actionable way to gather more online reviews for your book and you want as many reviews as you can get. Think about it. If you’re thinking about taking a new book to the beach, are you going to try the one with 100 reviews, or 2?
Publish Another Book – Sure, coming from the A+ Rated and #1-Rated self-publishing company according to the Better Business Bureau and Top Consumer Reviews, respectfully, this tactic sounds a bit self-serving (remember that valuable and promotional tactic mentioned above?), but in addition to sounding self-serving it is also true. Our authors who publish a series of books have a built-in audience for every book after the first one. And when they take advantage of other opportunities (like mentioning their previous books and reviews and blurbs in the pages of their new ones), it’s like getting free advertising to a very select, very desirable market. This is leverage. It simply does not take three times as long to market 3 books as it takes to market one. And the more leverage you have, the faster and more successful your book marketing is going to be.
As they say on a popular HBO series, winter is coming. In fact, winter has come! So, is anyone else interested in taking a cruise to the Virgin Islands? If so, you may be lucky enough to run into successful Outskirts Press author Ingrid A. Bough as she promotes and sells her book, Violet Loves the Letter “V”: Virgin Islands Pride.
Fresh off her appearance at the National Book Festival at the end of August, Ms. Bough will be doing a book signing at the popular UnderCover Books & Gifts bookstore/giftshop on the island of St. Croix in 2 days (November 14th). Readers and residents of St. Thomas won’t be left out. Her delightful illustrated children’s book (available in paperback or hardback) can be found at the Owl and the Seahorse bookstore.
And as you can see from the synopsis of her book (below), there’s a reason Ingrid is targeting the Virgin Islands with her book promotion efforts.
Virgin Islands Adventure in V Words. Violet Discovers Her Virgin Islands Pride
In a story set in a tropical island paradise, we meet Violet who is named after the violet flower. She loves her name and discovers the colors violet and purple have long been associated with royalty and majesty. Violet tries to identify as many V words on her beautiful island and while creating a story using as many V words as she can, discovers her island territories are rich in history and culture.
Violet learns to appreciate her beloved islands even more as she learns that the United States Virgin Islands, once known as the Dansk Vestindien (Danish West indies) have been influenced by faraway places like Africa, Denmark, Spain, France, England, Vieques, Puerto Rico, the British Virgin Islands and many more.
So many V words, what is a girl to do? Throughout the day, Violet’s imagination takes her on an island roller coaster of twists and turns and she gains a sense of pride in herself and her homeland: Virgin Islands Pride. Violet takes pride that she is from such a unique place surrounded by the blue waters of the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.
What is the book marketing lesson to be learned here? “Go where the story takes you,” to quote another maxim. In other words, if you’ve written a book about the Virgin Islands, sell your book in the Virgin Islands. If you’ve written a book about Paris… Texas, then, by all means, sell your book in Paris, Texas. T-shirts, shot glasses, and spoons aren’t the only memorabilia tourists buy. They also buy books when on vacation to commemorate their travels. This is especially true for children’s books! Bookstores, gift shops, and certainly stores in the airport, are always interested in books specifically about the location they’re located in.
Congratulations on your success, Ingrid! And thank you for offering us a fun way to bring up an important marketing tactic for self-publishing authors everywhere. Happy (and safe) travels to everyone during this upcoming holiday season.
Nowadays there is so much activity in the non-traditional publishing space that authors sometimes become confused by all the seemingly random terms being thrown around by various companies. And who can blame them? For one, many of the terms are so new or broad that it seems like many companies fall into more than one category. And the non-traditional publishers are not doing themselves any favors by sometimes mudding these waters in their marketing efforts to broaden their potential client base.
In spite of some of the liberties that many of these companies take, there are some generally agreed-upon, broad stroke definitions that may help writers successfully navigate this tricky terrain of the wild-wild publishing west.
“Traditional Publisher” is the most commonly-used term to define publication whereby the author submits a manuscript (typically through an agent) and if the manuscript is accepted (a big if), the publisher not only foots the entire cost of the publication but in many cases also rewards the author with some kind of an advance. In most writing circles, this is far and away the most desired type of publication. But did you see that big “if” up there? That “if” is why traditional publication now trail non-traditional publication for the majority of books being published.
Here’s where things get messy, because the terms self-publishing, vanity publishing, independent publishing, ebook publishing, hybrid publishing, author-assisted publishing, and others have all been used to define an equally-established, yet rapidly growing segment of the non-traditional publishing space. Some terms hold more malice/stigma than others, and hence we experience the non-traditional publishers’ creative methods of removing said malice/stigma by arriving upon yet another term, thus adding to the confusion.
Almost all of these non-traditional publishing companies can correctly fall within the broadest term among the bunch: self-publishing. If you are not accepted by a traditional publisher, you are therefore publishing your book yourself, in one manner or another, and you’re either doing so with your own time and/or money, or both. In this broadest of definitions, you are therefore self-publishing your book.
But among that broad definition exist more specific definitions as companies attempt to carve out marketing- or service-oriented niches in this growing segment of the publishing business. “Vanity publishing” is a term that is falling by the wayside as “self-publishing” becomes more accepted while the traditionalists who introduced “vanity publishing” in the first place are losing interest in participating in a losing battle.
Independent publishing is now most often associated with the process whereby an author wears all, or nearly all, the hats involved in publishing the book without the assistance of a company, online platform, or publishing service. He/she vets cover designers, vets interior designers, requests quotes from off-set printers, works with wholesalers, distributors, and retailers, markets, and handles all the financials (positive, like book sales and negative, like printer bills and taxes). That’s a lot of work for most people, especially writers who tend to gravitate toward right-brained abilities. But for the proper author with the right tenacity and author platform, this is still a viable way to go.
Contributing to the slow demise of “independent publishing” is the rise of publishing services and online platforms, which promise to do most of the work (mentioned above) for the author while still leaving all the rights, royalties, and creative control in the hands of the author. There are some “self publishing companies” that offer these services for a fee, much like when one pays for the services of a doctor, lawyer, accountant, hair stylist, etc.; and there are some online, computerized self publishing platforms that offer these services for free. The right choice typically comes down to the author’s budget and the author’s own faith in their work or the quality they desire for their masterpiece. It’s rarely difficult to identify a book published by a service-oriented company compared against one published by a conglomerate’s algorithm.
Hybrid publishing is a term cropping up more and more these days and is the closest cousin, in terms of pure business model, to the now nearly defunct “vanity publishing.” In most cases, this business model requires the author to relinquish their rights (and often the rights of their future books) while also promising to purchase a set number of books (typically in the 1000s) in exchange for “free publishing” on the hybrid publisher’s dime. Like independent publishing, this can sometimes work for authors already possessing a successful author platform and a lot of tenacity since the initial investment is usually roughly the same as with independent publishing. Since hybrid publishers often sell their own authors book quantities in the 1000s, they are more likely to use off-set printing to lower per-unit costs. While that helps keep the retail price down, it becomes channeling for the author is he/she is not confident they have the marketing prowess to sell 1000s of books.
Many writers enter the self-publishing industry with an expectation about what their published book’s retail price will be once it reaches bookshelves. This expectation is based upon their life-long experiences of buying books from authors like Stephen King and J.K. Rowling.
They are often surprised and confused when they discover that their 300-page self-published print-on-demand paperback cannot have the same retail price as a paperback of comparable length that is published by Random House. “Why?” they ask.
The answer is because the retail price must be higher than the sum of the trade discount (typically 50-55%) and the production/printing cost of the book. Why are POD printing costs so much higher? The answer is: “economy of scale.”
Wikipedia has a fairly extensive article on economies of scale that can be found here:
Most important among that information, as it pertains to self-publishing authors, is the following paragraph:
“The simple meaning of economies of scale is doing things more efficiently with increasing size. Common sources of economies of scale are purchasing (bulk buying of materials through long-term contracts), managerial (increasing the specialization of managers), financial (obtaining lower-interest charges when borrowing from banks and having access to a greater range of financial instruments), marketing (spreading the cost of advertising over a greater range of output in media markets), and technological (taking advantage of returns to scale in the production function). Each of these factors reduces the long run average costs (LRAC) of production by shifting the short-run average total cost (SRATC) curve down and to the right.”
Basically, the more books that are printed at one time, the less expensive each individual book is to produce, which thereby allows the retail price to be lower. This is why a Harry Potter paperback is “inexpensive”, even at 600 pages, compared with a POD book of similar length. The publisher of Harry Potter printed 10 million copies all at once, thereby bringing the per-unit cost down to pennies. Of course, the publisher also made that sizable, risky, investment up-front – an investment that equaled millions of dollars. Granted, that’s not much of a risk when you’re printing a Harry Potter book, but for 99% of the writers out there (even the ones who have traditionally published in the past), it is a risk few traditional publishers are willing to take nowadays and an investment even fewer writers are capable of.
Enter print-on-demand (POD) self-publishing. A book that is published POD operates on the exact opposite pricing model. Each book’s printing cost is based upon printing only one book at time, which protects the authors from making a sizable, risky investment up front. Of course, that means the printing cost for each book costs dollars instead of pennies. And since the retail price must exceed the trade discount AND the printing cost, the retail price is naturally going to be higher.
The good news for Outskirts Press authors is that, when combined with EDI distribution through platforms like Amazon and Ingram, self-publishing writers never incur out-of-pocket printing costs for books sold wholesale, because the book is only printed after it is sold to the consumer. The printing cost is extracted from the retail price, along with the distributor/retailer’s portion, and the printing cost itself. Whatever is left is the “profit” from the book. The amount of “profit” that the author receives depends upon the self-publisher you’ve chosen, and varies from 20% – 100%. Outskirts Press is one of the few self-publishers that pays 100% of the profit to the author.
To publish your masterpiece with the A+ rated and #1-rated self-publishing company according to the Better Business Bureau and Top Consumer Reviews, respectively, visit Outskirts Press today.
A well-planned book launch party can get your book marketing efforts started off on the right foot by attracting the media and capturing new readers. Whether you are planning on hosting a book launch party at your own house or a more public place (recommended), these 10 rules are ones every author should follow:
1. Set Realistic and Measurable Goals
While a book launch party can, and should, include celebration, it is important to realize that it is also a marketing event; and its main purpose is to sell books. Therefore, think of it as a business venture as well as a party. Track every cost so you can determine the ROI (return on investment). For instance, will you use custom printed postcards or note cards featuring your book as invitations or using Evite.com? Will you host the party at your home, at a free venue like a bookstore, library, etc., or will you rent a professional party space for the event. Will you be engaging the services of an event planner, or handling all the details yourself? Event planners are an added expense, but they may possess the experience necessary to drive attendance. Be sure to set goals in terms of attendance (readers and media) and book sales (and book reviews). By determine your strategy and your budget in advance, you can analyze the results and make improvements for your next book event.
2. Pick an Appropriate Theme
Your event must appeal to your target readers to increase the chances of them attending – and of having positive word-of-mouth afterward. For instance, if you’ve written a mystery, host a “murder mystery party.” By picking a theme that relates to your book, and making that theme a clear component of the invitation, you ensure that everyone who attends is a prime candidate to buy your book at the end of the evening when you pull out your signing pen.
3. Call Upon Your Guests
Follow-up on every RSVP with a personal “thank you” that promises them a good time, a goodie bag (see below), and a great discount on a signed copy of your book. Also ask if they know anyone else who might be interested in attending the book launch event of the season (hyperbole is okay when it’s tongue-in-cheek). Make sure your guests know that they are welcome to invite/bring others to the event. If your guests start to use their social media reach to promote your event, your guest list can quickly climb, which means more book sales and more book reviews.
4. Market to the Media
Appealing to the media requires having a unique and compelling angle. Fortunately, if you did a good job connecting with your readers, you probably already have a unique and compelling angle right at your feet. Now just write a press release about it:
Local Mystery Author Launches Highly-Anticipated New Novel with a Murder Mystery Party and YOU are invited!
Not a bad headline for a press release, right? Once you have your press release written, send it to your local newspapers, television, and radio stations. The more local the media, the more interested they will be. Are you going to attract Good Morning America to your book launch? Probably not (see Rule #1). But will the local news channel feature you in a segment? Perhaps, especially if you’ve accumulated an impressively large guest list. When the segment airs, record it and post it to your social media. Share it with your attendees. They’ll all brag about being at an event that got on the news. What does that mean for you? More book sales!
5. Get Social Online
Before and after your event, be sure to use the power of social media to spread the word. Prior to the event, use your social media platform to drive awareness, answers questions, promote the event, and solicit attendees. Afterwards, share lots of pictures of the fun time had by all (along with a link to your book, of course). Even if people aren’t able to attend in person, they’ll love to see the pictures and they still may buy the book (which is, after all, the whole point!).
6. Get Social Offline
Even though many writers are introverts by nature, your book launch party is not the time to be shy. So step out of your comfort zone and embrace the gregarious published author inside you. Strike up conversations with every single person in attendance. Be generous with your time and your smile. Rather than going for the “hard sell” take lots of pictures with everyone instead, using THEIR phones as well as yours. If they have pictures on their phones, they are more likely to post those pictures on their social media platforms after the event, along with links to you and/or your book. Those online postings last a lot longer than your event ever will.
7. Get Really Social Offline
The more fun your guests have, the better your sales will be at the end of the night (since everyone will still be there) and the better your word-of-mouth will be after the event (which means the better your sales will be afterward, too). So get ready to live it up on the night of your party! Create lots of photo opportunities and encourage all your guests to take as many pictures as they can, not just of you or your book, but of the venue and/or decorations. Did your murder mystery guests don costumes (did you encourage them to by adding a costume contest to the proceedings)? Have them take posed pictures. Would your romance novel lovers mind posing next to a life-size cardboard cutout of a male hunk? Probably not. By connecting with your readers, creating a theme, and having fun, you’ll create an atmosphere that encourages reader engagement, and that will translate to more book sales at the end of the night — in other words, a perfect book launch party!
8. Joint Ventures are Your Secret Weapon
A “joint venture” is a collaboration between two people or companies with mutually-beneficial goals and results. Any good party has goodie bags, right? But rather than giving away copies of your book (you’re trying to sell copies, after all), partner with local businesses who are seeking marketing opportunities of their own. Would your romance novel lovers enjoy the local bakery’s cookies (along with a coupon) inside their goodie bag? Of course! Would your action aficionados like a coupon for a free tub of popcorn with the purchase of tickets to the latest James Bond movie playing at the local Cineplex? Absolutely! Joint Venture partnerships like this are relatively easy in this day and age of social media, and you may be surprised how many of them will advertise YOUR event on their social media platforms, too.
9. Prepare to Sell Books
When you’re in the middle of a fun party, the last thing you’ll want to be burdened with is handling book orders. But of course, taking book orders is the whole point of throwing a book launch party. What a dilemma! Fortunately, with advance planning, you can make sure this important step goes just as flawlessly as the party itself. Consider the logistics in advance in terms of cash, check, or charge. If you plan on charging sales tax, determine a discount to offer on your book that rounds the final cost to an even number (preferably in a cash-friendly denomination like $10, $15, or $20). You can promote the discount and you don’t have to worry about counting pennies for change. If you plan on taking credit cards at the event, is your smart phone hooked up with a way to do that, either with Square or PayPal, for example? It’s easy to hand-out business cards with your Amazon link printed on it, but the reality is that people attending a book launch party will expect to be able to buy a signed copy of the book that night, and you want them to! Who knows whether they’ll buy it the next day?
10. Call Upon Your Guests Again
If your attendees are old friends (or new friends who had a great time), they’ll be happy to help you spread the word about your book – but they might not know how. So tell them. Be sure your venue has a number of placards or signs with instructions for posting reviews on Amazon, sharing pictures on Instagram, or commenting on the event on Facebook. Be sure to follow-up personally with every attendee via email after the event with links to write a review, post a picture, or share a selfie.
Now that you have a mailing list, you can also notify them when your next book event takes place. And it’s sure to be even better than your first one. Throwing your first book launch party is always the most difficult. But perhaps these rules will make it easier (and more successful).
If you’re a self-publishing author who is finding it difficult to “get your book out there,” reserving 5 hours with a Personal Marketing Assistant may make all the difference. We can help you even if you didn’t publish with Outskirts Press, the #1-rated self-publishing company according to Top Consumer Reviews.
If you’ve spent much time with your latest manuscript, you may have begun to notice that certain errors are both easy to make and easy to miss when revising. This is true of the self-publishing process. If you want to be taken seriously as an author, a professional author with a successful book, there are some common mistakes you can easily avoid when self-publishing your book.
Here are five recommendations to get you started:
1) Don’t feel pressured into formatting the interior yourself!
Just as our beloved Dr. McCoy on Star Trek had to remind his fellow adventurers often that he was a doctor, not a physicist (or engineer, or bricklayer, or a myriad other things), let us remind you that you’re a writer, not a book designer. (Unless you actually do design books for a living. In which case, move on to the second point.) There are few things as time-consuming as researching the stringent requirements of each publishing medium (print and digital) and then finding the software and the time to do it right. When it comes to book interiors, it’s best to leave this task to the professionals and focus your time on writing and promoting your book.
2) Invest in a Professionally Designed Custom Cover.
Most readers do, in fact, judge a book by its cover, so having an eye-catching, quality cover that professionally represents your book is essential. Most template covers will look and feel like cookie cutter designs with no effort put into them, even if you make small changes to it. It’s worth your while to invest in a professionally designed, dynamic custom cover unique to your book.
3) Don’t (just) edit the book yourself!
No matter how great of a writer you are, or how excellent of an editor you are of other peoples’ works, you cannot edit your own book! It is far too easy to miss mistakes because you are too familiar with your work, even if you take all possible precautions, like reading the whole manuscript aloud to yourself. No: when it comes to editing, this task requires a professional. And even if you are a professional editor, it requires someone who is not you and who will not be bogged down by the human brain’s predilection to fill in gaps when it knows where a story is headed. Those gaps may not matter to your subconscious, but they will most definitely matter to your readers! Pay for top-notch editing services in addition to your other beta readers, if you can; this means using a professional editor and not your sister-in-law or next-door neighbor.
4) Don’t neglect the back cover.
Once your manuscript is ready to go, as well as your front cover and interior formatting, and you are in all other ways ready to self-publish your book, one of the first things you’ll be asked for is your back cover synopsis and author biography. This isn’t something which can be rushed, unfortunately, so take a moment to slow down and breathe. Don’t just throw something together without much thought! Readers will look at your back matter and determine whether or not they should buy your book. Everything counts, from an ISBN number to a well-edited synopsis to a visually appealing author photo. Consult an expert if you need one!
5) Last but not least, don’t rush.
This may be the last recommendation on our list today, but it’s most definitely not one to be tacked on like an afterthought. In fact, learning how not to rush through the process may be the most important of all of the points we’ve included here today! Sure, you are anxious to self-publish your book (and we’re eager to help you do so speedily as well), but don’t rush. Producing a quality book, one with a great cover and copyedited pages, simply takes time. It’s a reasoned process! Be patient now, and considered in all of your decisions, and you will be glad you did once you have a finished, published, beautiful book to be proud of.
There are many great self-publishing success stories! You can be one of them by avoiding these mistakes and following the recommendations. Visit us online at www.outskirtspress.com to chat with a Publishing Consultant or call us at 1-888-672-6657 to find out how to finish your manuscript and get it ready for publication.
Have you recently self-published a book? The more time you spend exploring your options and opportunities, the clearer it becomes that self-publishing a book is a lot like launching a start-up business … and that the more you plan, the more you’ll get ahead.
There are countless considerations and decisions to make once you make that big commitment to self-publish! And if your new book is your new business, you need to keep many things in mind prior to, during, and after publication. First off, you absolutely must take some time to sit down and plan out your next steps. Planning is something you’ll need to return to, as well, throughout the process! Taking time periodically to evaluate, and possibly re-evaluate your plan, is necessary to ensure that you are still on the right track.
Looking for some ideas to get started? Ask yourself these questions and you may just find the answer that will keep your book, and you as an author, in business for a very long time:
What business are you in? This is an important initial question and everything you do should build from this. What things are you interested in? Will your book be a product of your interests? This question may seem deceptively simple, but it’s foundational to literally everything else.
What is your product? Again, this may seem like a simple question but it really isn’t. Can you describe your book as if it were a product? What are its major features? Is your book a niche product?
What are your goals and objectives? Determining where you want your book-as-a-business to go is an important step when starting off. Consider if you want to market this book locally, regionally, nationally, or even globally. Set goals for yourself and for the sale of the book itself. Sit down every now and then and find out if those goals are reasonable, or perhaps they need to be changed.
Who do you want to buy your book? Every business needs a target market. We all would love to say that everyone will be interested and want to buy our books, but the reality is that this is never, and will never be the case. Now is the time to think about who that market will be for you. Think about your customer’s characteristics, their geography, age, gender, possibly even their income status.
Who’s your competition? Scope out your competition. Has someone written anything similar? Do some research at your local bookstores and libraries and find things out about other books that compare to yours.
How will you price your book? Pricing is an integral part of being able to set a budget for your book. You don’t want to set the price too high, and you certainly don’t want to short-change yourself by setting it too low. Thinking of the previous question you asked yourself, consider your competitors when setting your price. When determining your budget, be sure to set this to your comfort level and to a price that marks it as a quality entry in the genre. Pricing and budget ought to be evaluated on a continual basis, as the market changes rapidly.
What’s your inventory? The last thing you want to happen is to not have books available when a person wants to buy. On the other hand, you don’t want to have too many on-hand. Look into the advantages of print-on-demand (POD) publishing, and make sure to inquire after discounted author copies!
Have you crafted a strategy? Answering all of these questions can generate some complicated, even overwhelming to-dos, but crafting an overarching strategy to cope with your new business responsibilities is a vital part of the process. Start by taking all of these questions and letting them percolate for a while. Everything that follows needs to go hand-in-hand with the answers to achieve all of the goals and objectives you set out to accomplish
What’s next? Usually, the fun part: marketing! There are so many things that go into marketing your book and your business, including creating your brand, launching promotions, sales, and advertising as well as navigating distribution channels and much more. Create a plan that satisfies all these things, and all things you want to do to market your creation. Where do you want to make your book available for purchase? Who will sell your book? What avenues do you want to use to advertise your book?
Always be sure to keep in touch with your fans and followers. After the success you’re bound to have with your latest book, you’re going to write many more … right? Keeping in touch with your fans will make selling that next book that much easier.
It’s almost December, and that means one thing is most definitely on everyone’s minds: the holidays. We’re in the final stretch to Christmas, with New Year’s already peeking in over the horizon. And while it may be too late to crank out an entire new holiday-themed book for publication by Christmas, this does make the perfect time to talk about what it is that actually makes for a successful holiday-themed writing project! After all, the good thing about the calendar is that it keeps bringing the good things back around again, year after year.
There are two key things to keep in mind that are specific to writing holiday-themed books: saturation and genre. Genre is important because there are several which are known for holiday-themed installments, particularly romance, non-fiction and children’s picture books. The first two provide opportunities for additions to ongoing series, featuring beloved characters or ideas but with bonus added holiday appeal, while holiday-themed children’s picture books offer bountiful opportunities for rich illustrations! And while any genre can definitely be enriched with a little extra holiday appeal, you will have to choose between writing in a genre where your book will have lots of competition but also a massive built-in readership, and writing in a genre where you will be the innovator and trend-setter. Pick wisely, and with your heart!
Secondly, when we use the word saturation here, we refer to the degree to which the holidays figure in your book. It is vital as you set out to craft a holiday-themed book that you don’t get so carried away including festive imagery and festive language and festive references to Frosty the Snowman and so forth that you forget all of the other vital elements of craft: plot, characterization, style, and voice to name a few. It’s best to set a couple of guidelines for yourself going in, to outline––even if you don’t outline your entire book––the specifics of what will give your book a holiday appeal. Before you pick up your pen or open your laptop.
Keep these two guiding stars in your constellation of inspiration, and you’ll produce a book which has massive sales potential around the holidays––and which will also hold lasting appeal, regardless of the season!
Not sure where to start? It may be time to lean on an expert. If you’re looking to write and publish a holiday-themed book, there’s never a better time than now to inquire. Visit us online at www.outskirtspress.com where you can chat with a Publishing Consultant or call us at 1-888-672-6657.
Long before Outskirts Press became the fastest-growing self-publishing company and became rated #1 by Top Consumer Reviews, we were doing something differently, something better: We were taking a serious interest in the success of our authors and their books after publication by providing each and every published author with consistent online advice, coaching, and help — the acronym for which we trademarked as The Marketing COACH.
Well, the Marketing COACH is about to get even better! In January, the New & Improved Marketing COACH is launching for all our published and soon-to-be-published authors. Now, fiction writers will get marketing advice geared just for them, while children’s book writers will receive marketing tactics focused on promoting their juvenile books. Different genres require different marketing tactics, and the New & Improved Marketing COACH will only send you the marketing information you need for YOUR book.
Of course, if you’ve published multiple books, in multiple genres, as so many of our authors have, the Marketing COACH will help you with each genre you’ve published under, from among four encompassing categories:
The New & Improved Marketing COACH joins the extensive array of included (free) book marketing support provided to all Outskirts Press authors, like…
The Free Book Marketing Resource and Bookshelf
The Book Marketing RoadMap and Tip Sheets
The 7 Tactics of Successfully Published Authors
The 28 Day Launch Calendar
If you’re an Outskirts Press author, keep a look out for your first contact from your New Marketing COACH during the week of January 9th. Happy holidays!