A post by Phil Harris – author, publisher, owner of All Things That Matter Press. Phil asked several of us about our formula to promote books — see what we shared with him.

I asked four book marketing gurus, all of which have catapulted books to the #1 spot on Amazon.com, to write formula that summarizes their secrets. The experts are Kathleen Gage, Nikki Leigh, Penney Sansevieri, and Carolyn Howard-Johnson.

I specifically asked the experts not to write any detailed explanations. The reason for this is that any explanation would be a book length response. In fact all the experts have written extensively on the subject in books, newsletter, blogs and articles.  I was really looking for a simple, bottom line equation that would summarize their basic approach to book marketing success—something that could even be put on a vision board, taped to the computer and stuck on the fridge.

The notion that if an author publishes their book readers will flock to buy it is a myth.  All marketing experts agree that the real work only just begins before the ink is dry and, actually, should begin well in advance of publication.  According to Bowker, U.S. book production alone is around 300,000 titles/ year or close to 6,000/week, (Worldwide the number is around 1 million titles). For some 90% of all titles, the average number of books sold each year, by title, is less than 100.  Clearly, if an author wants to have any kind of sales at all, something more is required than just having the title on Amazon.

Assuming you have a well written book and that there is truly an audience, or niche, for your title, how do you rise from the murky depths of that 90% well?  When you look at the following formulas, I think you will see that simple is best. By simple I do not mean little work, I mean that the way to book sale success is not complex, but it does require vision, determination and constant work. Here is what KATHLEEN GAGE has for her formula:

Desire + vision = success

Opt in list + online marketing = book sales

Bonus offers + opt in box = Subscribers and buyers

Passion + excellence = success

As both a writer and promoter of the conscious use of the Law of Attraction, Kathleen’s use of words like desire, vision and passion are near and dear to my heart. If an author is not passionate about their work, either fiction or non-fiction, chances are they will just end up with a book that sits in the dusty “no sales rank” category on Amazon. What does she mean by ‘opt in list’ and ‘bonus offers?’ My suggestion is to look at the contact information and ask her!

Kathleen Gage works with spiritually aware speakers, authors, coaches and consultants who are ready to turn their knowledge into money making products and services.

P.O. Box 551, Pleasant Hill, OR 97455 (1.541.654.0426)

http://www.kathleengage.com, http://www.themarketingmindset.com

http://www.dailyawareness.com

NIKKI LEIGH’s approach is a bit different. She says, “Authors and Any Other Business People — Yes, authors are business people. They created a product and offer it for sale – that’s a business.  There are many authors who, and rightfully so, see themselves as artists and not businesspeople.  To some, the mechanics of selling a book is to be left to the business agent.  Okay, that may be fine if you are a proven NYTimes bestselling author, but I do not think that the vast majority of authors travel in those circles.  So, if you want more than just seeing your book in print, an author must become a businessperson if they want sales.  Nikki says, “I like to focus on the online opportunities for authors and businesses, so a formula I recommend includes:

Start by offering a high quality product

+ effective and consistent blogging

+ utilizing the internet to build your brand and credibility

+ consistent and targeted social media and Web 2.0 interaction

+ reaching out to the right target market

= Getting your quality product or service in front of the people who need and want what you are selling

I love the product side of the equation because it hits at the heart of the matter and is something that we at All Things That Matter Press stress: get your book in front of those who need or want what you are selling. I am constantly amazed at how many authors do not even begin to put together a web site or blog until after their book is published.  Most marketers tell authors that if you can start pushing even a year ahead of publication that is not too soon. In fact, it takes at least a year for anyone to know that you exist.  Building a credible presence on the internet is not an overnight process, especially since every week that goes by, 6,000 new authors add their pages to the search engines.  Further, some authors might think that these types of efforts only apply to non-fiction. Well that is fiction! Any novel worth reading has some kind of message and there are those who need and want what you have to say.  If you do not believe that, then why write at all?

To see more about Nikki and her approach to marketing, visit the following:
Book Promo 201: Harness the Power of the Internet with Web 2.0 and Social Media Marketing
Follow Me on Twitter – www.twitter.com/litekepr
Promotional Services – www.bookpromotionservices.com
WE Magazine – 101 Women Bloggers to Watch for 2009

You can reach Nikki Leigh at Nikki@nikkileigh.com

PENNY SANSEVIERI offers several additional elements to the success formula. She says, “So, in my view there are a few things. First off, it’s consistency. Whatever you do, be consistent in your communication. So often authors get weary of their campaigns, or impatient for results so they change messages, focus, whatever – before the other direction has a chance to launch or get lift off. I predict that in an age of media coming at us from every direction, consistency of message will be what sets us apart. Then, it’s persistent – so whatever you do, keep doing it. It’s the long runway of promotion. Often it can take a while to get lift off.

Finally, authors need to know how to harness inbound marketing. It’s not about being on Facebook, Squidoo, Twitter or YouTube and keeping folks there, it’s about bringing them back to the author’s website. Then, on the website—author’s need to spend some money on this. Don’t design your own site or cut your own hair :) two must-never-dos for sure. For example, we just had our site redesigned – in 24 hours it quadrupled in conversion rate, meaning that folks who land on the site are doing something: signing up for the newsletter, requesting a consult. Frankly, since the site has been launched it’s been like drinking from a fire hose. All sites should be like this. The site must work for you otherwise all the work you do is a bit wasted.

So what is Penny’s formula?

consistency of message + persistency of the author + understanding and managing your inbound marketing campaign + a website that works for you = success

Penny C. Sansevieri, Adjunct Instructor NYU
Author Marketing Experts, Inc.
http://www.authormarketingexperts.com, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/penny-c-sansevieri

Office: 858/560-0121 Hotline: 619/808-BOOK
Listen to The Publishing Insiders on Blogtalkradio

In a way, Carolyn Howard-Johnson sums much of this discussion very nicely. Her formula is:

marketing = marketing = marketing > learn from other industries

She adds, “I like it because I think authors often think, Oh, that’s for big business, not me.”  The scenario goes something like this:

You have a desire and vision that must be marketed

You have a quality book and brand that must be marketed

You have a consistent message that must be marketed

Marketing is not a dirty word! There is probably very little in your life that is not there due to marketing.  Let’s face it; even your spouse or life partner is there because you marketed yourself as being someone worth spending time with.  Carolyn also points out that authors should learn from the success of others.  Why are some authors campaigns very successful and others not?  Why does one product catch the consumers’ attention and the other fades to oblivion?  Authors can learn from those who successfully sell their books and adapt those techniques to their own efforts. You can also borrow from the success of any product.  Perhaps the right logo, a good sound bite, phrase, or proper niche effort is what makes a product a success.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Instructor for the renowned UCLA Extension Writers’ Program  
Web site:
http://www.HowToDoItFrugally.com
E-mail: HoJoNews@aol.com

Award-winning author of the HowToDoItFrugally Series of Books for writers, including USA Book News’ award winners
The Frugal Editor
http://budurl.com/TheFrugalEditor
The Frugal Book Promoter
http://budurl.com/FrugalBkPromo
Blogs for Writers:
http://www.SharingWithWriters.blogspot.com ,
http://TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com ,
http://www.TheFrugalEditor.blogspot.com

Does all of this imply that only authors with big budgets can have a high sales ranks and numbers?  Not at all.  In fact, so much can be done for nothing, or with minimal expense, in this day of instant information access.  You just have to know how to do it and hopefully, the above formulas will set your marketing efforts in the right direction.

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Comments
  1. Great to have the tips of all four of these terrific book marketers in one blog post.

    FYI — Carolyn and I have a free report on what to blog about if you’re a fiction writer. People can download the free report at http://www.fictionmarketing.com

    Phyllis Zimbler Miller

    http://www.facebook.com/bookmarketing

    http://twitter.com/ZimblerMiller

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