Creating a Launch Team For Your Book

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As writers, we tend to think that we can do everything solo. We wrote the whole book, so why do we need anyone’s grubby hands to touch it? Truth is that writing the book is only part of the process, and when it comes to make an effective launch, just a small part of the process. We need people who can fill our specific weaknesses. No one’s great at everything, and making a launch team will help you effectively market your new book. A launch team will help you fill these roles while still remaining an indie author.

 

Finding Your Weaknesses

First and foremost, your launch team will comprise of people who fill your weaknesses. Aside from writing the book, you need to worry about making a cover, typesetting, writing the blurb, marketing it on Kindle and other ebook outlets, setting up offline marketing and various other tasks. So, what can you do?

If you can professionally design and edit a book, then that’s great. If you can’t, then be honest about that and find someone who can do it for you. While spending time and money to build a team doesn’t sound attractive, it leads to a much better product that can really top the charts.

So, how do you go about finding your launch team? It’s not nearly as hard as you think.

 

Free Help

Yes, your launch team might be completely free, especially if you already have a fan base. Imagine being able to design a cover for your favorite author, or help market a business guru’s book. Wouldn’t you be excited to do it? Some people will even do it for free. If you have written a few books and have a good number of fans, then ask them if they are willing to offer their talents. You might be surprised be what you find.

What else can you get for free? Even if your entire fan base lacks any publishing/designing/editing skills, there is one thing that they can provide: a review. Getting a bunch of good reviews of Kindle is worth its weight in gold. Just give out some free copies in exchange for reviews. A launch can’t be effective without some buzz, and this will build all the buzz you need.

 

Approaching Free Help

Approaching your fan base is much easier than you think. Most authors will make a post on social media asking for help or reviews. If you want things to be more targeted, then you can send an email to people who just bought your last book. This may not be possible if you aren’t collecting email addresses, but it’s a great way to segment your market.

Tell them that you’ll be willing to use their name for services, or that you’ll give out a free copy in exchange for a review. That’s really all there is to it. You can also ask them other questions to get their opinion, like if it’d be best to release the book on other outlets, would anyone be interested in an affiliate program or what type of design or color scheme they would like.

 

Paid Help

In most cases, you’ll need to pay for professional services like designing and typesetting. If you have a marketing budget, then now’s the time to use it. There are various outlets that offer help with these services, such as Freelancer and Elance. In short, just put up a project and wait for people to bid on it. Be sure to check their reviews and samples to see if they’ll fit your needs.

While getting paid help is fairly easy, finding the right type of help can be difficult. It’s best to be direct about your needs so that there’s little room for error. You also have to make sure that the person is providing consistently good work to continue a working relationship. Also be sure to shop around for prices. There’s no point in spending more money than you need if it won’t improve quality.

 

Conclusion

A launch team is there to back you up. They provide all the services you need to make sure that your book is the success that it deserves to be. Getting free help is attractive and effective, but be willing to spend the money if you need more professional services. If you get the right team in order, then your book will have everything it needs to compete with the publishing houses.

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Stop the Assumptions: Ensuring Effective Book Marketing

forumMarketing is tough work, but most writers are making it harder on themselves then it needs to be. Why is that? Because most writers are assuming. The truth is that having a way with words puts you at an advantage in some respects, but it can also be a downfall. That’s because most writers aren’t trained marketers. They don’t entirely know what works, which leads to a lot of assumptions. While experimentation and theory is all well and good when it comes to marketing your book, you have to stop making assumptions if you want your book to succeed. Here are a few ways to reduce your assumptions and make more money at the same time.

 

Fine-Tooth Comb

One of the major differences between amateur and professional marketing is that professionals go through everything with a fine-tooth comb. All of their messages are clear, concise and straight to the point. However, amateurs tend to slip up and assume that readers know exactly what they are talking about.

Go through each promotional message to ensure that it says what you NEED it to say, not what you THINK it says. You should be used to this if you are editing your own book, so be sure to apply the same logic to your marketing.

 

Platform Testing

Now that the message says exactly what you want it to say, does it look how you want it to look? This is especially important with email marketing, but it also affects all other forms of online marketing. For example, sometimes extra characters will be added in place of apostrophies wit some platforms. Be sure to use a platform tester such as (Litmus) to ensure that your message looks right.

Failing to do this can lead to confused customers and an unappealing sales message. It only takes a few seconds to do, and it can alleviate a lot of headaches.

 

Confusing Book Descriptions

How many book descriptions have left you wondering, “what’s the book about?” It sounds great, but it tells you nothing about the plot, characters or direction of the book. Once again, don’t just assume that the description makes sense. Read it over and be sure that it gives people a clear idea of what they can expect with your book.

Due to the importance of the description, and because it can be hard to separate your knowledge from the book when writing the description, it might be a good idea to let a few other people read the description. If they can’t understand anything about the book’s direction, then you need to edit or rewrite it.

 

The Right Social Network

Social networking has become a major part of the independent author’s marketing toolbox, but are your efforts put in the right spot? Are you putting all your time into Facebook when Twitter would be better? While it’s good to stay on all the major networks, you will find that your book and message tend to resonate best on one or two specific social media sites.

So, how do you judge the best network? Is it based on number of responses, likes or followers? While this largely depends on the intent of your book (for example, a book to generate leads would probably do better with the most followers), we’ll assume that sales are your major concern. One of the best ways to judge this is to place a different sales link on each network. Analyze each link for clicks and conversions.

At the same time, remember to cover your bases and stay active on all of the major social media sites.

 

Keywords and Phrases

Those of you used to SEO tactics will find this familiar. If you want to increase your organic ranking, then you need to choose keywords and phrases that are commonly searched and clicked. Google has a great keyword tool that lets you see how many searches each keyword has. Find good keywords that work with your book that will bring in some traffic.

While long-tail keywords can be good, it’s best to stay away from something that nobody searches, such as “amazing book about ninjas fighting pirates and robbing zoos.” Use something like, “novel about ninjas” or “amazing book.”

 

Conclusion

The biggest problem with amateur marketers is that they tend to assume that everything is going well when it really isn’t. You need to go through every marketing message that you ever write to ensure that it says exactly what you want it to say. You also need to make sure that it looks right and that your book can be easily found and understood. These tactics will help improve your chances of making more sales.

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The Pros and Cons of Direct Sales

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The majority of people who are selling books online are using a major distributor like Apple, Amazon or Kobo. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this approach, and it works for a number of writers. However, you might be interested to know that you can easily cut out the middleman and sell the books yourself. This is known as direct sales because you are directly selling the books without a distributor. Is this actually a viable solution? Consider the following pros and cons to see if it’s best for your book.

 

Pro: More Money per Sale

 

If you sell through Amazon or any other partner, then you’ll often keep a good percentage of the sale. For example, you’ll get either 30% or 70% royalties through Kindle, depending on the sales price and where the book is sold. That’s not bad, but you can do much better if you sell the book yourself.

 

Instead of 70% as your highest commission, what about 100%? You might have to pay some money to setup a website and ecommerce account, but 100% of the sale will go directly into your wallet. If you can ensure as many sales on your website as through a distributor, then you can make significantly more money.

 

Con: Marketing Burden

 

Writing the book was hard enough, but now you have to market it. Yes, you commonly have to do marketing even if you do use a partner. This allows you to build traffic to the sales page. However, distributing partners do some marketing for you. For example, they offer a search engine where people can find your book. They might also place your book on the front page, or discount it to entice buyers.

 

You don’t have this luxury. From beginning to end, you have to market the book.

 

Building exposure isn’t enough. You also have to ensure that people actually come to the website and buy from you. This means marketing both the book AND your website (not just the book). This can take a lot of time and effort, especially if marketing isn’t your forte.

 

Pro: Total Control

 

Want to add images and make unconventional formatting changes? Go ahead. What about bundle a bunch of your books together as one product? Once again, it’s your choice. You get complete and total control of your book if you directly sell it. You can even do wacky things like make every page a JPEG or even a WAV file, though you should probably stick to more conventional file formats.

 

The point is that you can do whatever you want, without having to worry about a system or rules getting in your way. You can also sell whatever you want. Some books that cannot be sold through Kindle can easily be sold on your own website.

 

Con: Technical Support

 

What happens if there is a problem with someone’s Kindle and they can’t read your book? The person contacts Amazon to get the problem fixed. What if the person can’t download your book from the Apple marketplace? Same thing, the person contacts Apple to get the problem fixed. You are never involved in the technical support.

 

What happens if you directly sell the book and it won’t download? Then you have to provide the technical support. You have to act as marketer, writer, product provider, merchant and technical support team all at once. Though you shouldn’t expect too many problems, you will have to provide support if something goes awry.

 

You also have to ensure that you get all of the right services in order before selling your book. For example, you need a website to host the book, a merchant account to accept money, a downloading system so that people can download the file and so on. You can’t just upload the file and hope for the best, like you can with Amazon or Kobo. You have to do all of this work before you get any sales.

 

Conclusion

 

Selling your book directly takes a lot of work and marketing, but the major benefit is that you can make much more money per sale, and you can also take total control of your products. Most people prefer using a distributor because it’s easier, but the prospect of making more money can be enough to drive more entrepreneurial writers to sell their own books.

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How to Get Your Book Review Request Ignored

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Review requests are one of those things that you absolutely need to sell a book. It doesn’t matter if it’s a review from a newspaper, publication or even one on Amazon. However, it’s becoming difficult to get one because reviewers are more discerning. Not only that, but most writers don’t even know how to approach reviewers for a book. Here are a few things that will get your request promptly ignored.

 

Copied Requests

 

It seems so much easier to write one request and send it to dozens of reviewers, but this is probably the best way to be ignored. Not only do most of these people not read the reviewer’s guidelines, but the request seems very impersonal. Make it targeted for that specific reviewer by talking about his or her blogs and previous reviews.

 

You can write a template and then embellish it for each reviewer to save time, but don’t send out the same request to everyone.

 

Handful of Reviewers

 

You give it some thought, and five reviews seem like enough to sell your book. So, you send out five review requests and wait. You might even pester the reviewers until they respond. It’s a bad idea to assume that everyone will respond (they get a lot of requests and don’t have much time), and it’s even worse to pester. Keep sending out those requests. If you don’t hear anything back, then assume that the reviewer isn’t interested.

 

Social Media

 

A request through social media, even though it’s an accepted communication medium, isn’t as professional as sending an email. An email seems much more personal. This is a mistake many writers make because it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but send all of your review requests through email.

Hijacking

 

This is absolutely the worst way to ask for a review, and it will get you an angry response or maybe even a spiteful one-star review. If the reviewer is running a promotion on social media or some forum, don’t hijack the thread with free book vouchers and review requests.

 

Never, ever do this.

 

Conclusion

 

If you want a review, then you should sound professional, find reviewers who actually like your genre or topic and send out as many requests as possible because many of these people will be busy doing their own thing. If you stay professional, then you shouldn’t have many problems finding at least a few reviewers for your book.

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Getting Your Self-Published Book Into Bookstores

3It’s understandably most every writer, author or book lovers dream. Not only to have their work published, loved and revered, of course, but to see their book on the shelves — in glorious physical form — at your local bookstore.

Believe it or not, though, but accomplishing such a task — at least after you’ve actually written and self-promoted a Kindle book of your own of course — isn’t nearly as hard as you think it might be.

Today, we’re going to take a look at a few tips and tricks you can utilize to make this fantasy dream a reality. As with most things that are desirable, it’s going to take some good old-fashioned hard work on your part. So if you’re looking for a quick, overnight get-rich-residing-on-local-bookstore-shelves scheme of some sort… well, you’d well to look for such a thing elsewhere. (Or preferably not at all, considering it’s more or less a pipedream.)

Anywho, let’s get started, shall we? In no particular order:

 

Utilize a Major Book Wholesaler Such As Ingram

Although most bookstores do indeed order books in quantity from the publisher directly, they usually prefer — and oftentimes usually do — get them from a major book wholesaler such as Ingram. It makes sense when you think about it on a vast variety of fronts.

While it’s preferable that you get your book available to both major wholesalers, being Ingram and Baker & Taylor, respectively, you should at the very least see to your Kindle book being made available to at least one of them. This in turn opens up the possibility of said book being purchased by a local or major retail bookstore (or both!) much more simply and readily and takes practically no time at all.

 

Establish a Realistic Trade Discount

Trade discounts, of course, are the discounts that are passed through book wholesalers (such as Ingram) to retail buyers (existing usually as either online book sites or actual brick-and-mortar bookstores). Although online retailers require much less of a discount, actual bookstores rarely have interest for books that possess less than a 35- 40% trade discount.

It’s best to keep in mind that trade discounts will obviously also affect your profits and royalties, so striking a comfortable medium between being generous but still not losing your shirt is absolutely key.

 

Establish a Return Program For Your Book

Yet another incredibly simple and easy step you can take towards your book being on sale at a brick-and-mortar bookstore is to establish a returns policy. Like trade discounts, it’s best to establish a returns program or policy for your book before even thinking about promoting it and publishing it to save yourself a lot of potential stress and hassle down the road. Combining the fact that possessing one exponentially increases the odds your book will be put on sale at an actual bookstore only sweetens the pot even more.

 

Get Your Name Out There Beforehand

As much as we’d like for it to happen, an actual brick-and-mortar bookstore likely isn’t going to put much stake and purchase much stock of a book that doesn’t have an already establishing following or buzz (so to speak). As such, doing the most adequate, wide-reaching and complete self-marketing job for your Kindle book before ever even thinking about getting it into actual bookstores will definitely serve you well.

Whether it’s guest-blogging, free review copies, discount days or even establishing a local sit-down at the very bookstore you’re hoping to eventually be sold within, do everything you possibly can to promote your book at every possible turn and you’ll be well on your way to finally residing on the shelves of your local bookstore.

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