How do I market and sell my book?  By far,  it’s our number one question from authors. So after connecting with Alexa Whitten I knew I found someone who was better equipped to answer that question!  Alexa is a head book coach at the Book Refinery, where she offers help with writing and publishing services for all aspiring authors. Here are her proven strategies:

Writing a book is such a powerful way of showing off your expertise, but many fall at the last hurdle –

Download a handy infographic

Step by step guide to market your book

There is not much point in going to all that effort, if your marketing isn’t spot on, and you are not able to get your book into the hands of your targeted readers. Many people wrongly assume that if they list their book on Amazon, they will become wealthy – but unfortunately that is not true. Amazon has had some terrible press recently (and rightly so, in my opinion) as they expect self-published authors to give a discount on the cover price, and the actual money made, once they take their cut, is pennies. Amazon is more interested in getting books out FOR CHEAP – and they will browbeat the supplier (or author, in this case) for the privilege.

So, instead of turning straight to Amazon, give these 7 simple strategies a try – and get the maximum profit for the book you’ve worked so hard to produce.

Number 1: Create a landing page for your book. This is most effective, especially if you can obtain a URL that is close to your book title. It costs roughly $20 a year for a domain, and it looks really smart when you use the URL in your advertising. Then you create a simple landing page (check out this site for what a good landing page should contain) and have a clean, easy to use, system for people to buy the book.

Number 2: Your List. Now depending on what kind of book you’ve written, I am going to assume you have a list of people who you regularly keep in contact with. Don’t have a list? Well, start!  Begin  by getting people to ‘opt in’ to your business website by offering something of value for free at the front end. In fact, you could offer the first chapter of your book – ask your designer (or whoever created your book) to make a nice PDF version – that includes the contents and the first chapter – then offer it, for free, with no obligation. You can do this in print ads too. Once you have searched out and ‘found’ the people who are technically interested in your writing (by requesting the free chapters) you then know they are the figuratively ‘raising their hands’ for more info.

Number 3: Publications. So, where do your targeted readers hang out? What papers do they read, what magazines do they buy? If you know that, then test small ads (or better still, try and get an editorial piece in the publication itself) offering your book and sending them to your landing page. Do your research and find out what your readers read. Also, offer the publication something of value – a reader offer. It’s a win, win situation – the magazine gives something of value for their subscribers, you get to distribute your book to targeted customers.

Number 4: Book Launch. Now most book launches are very self-serving – they promote the book, with little take away value for the attendees. If your book is aimed to get leads (written to position yourself as an expert) then use your book launch to continue that premise. Here’s an author who did just that – you can read all about it here. It doesn’t have to be about just  ‘your book’. Try and step into the shoes of your attendees, and gain leverage on that audience.

Number 5: Social Media. Now this is a no brainer. No matter what book you’ve written, social media is a great way to advertise your book. But be careful, no one really cares about your book per se. They care about the RESULTS it provides, so make sure you communicate that in your posts. Make it about the reader, not about ‘selling your book’. Offer competitions, reader specials (first 10 responders get 50% off cover price) and engage with your social media followers. With so many other people vying for attention, make sure you come from a different angle, and highlight the benefits of your book.

Number 6: Radio. This one can be really effective, as long as you approach it in the right way. Firstly try and get the names of the people at the local radio station – dealing with the right person holds lots of credit. Make sure you pitch your ‘talk’ or ‘interview’ as a benefit to their listeners. Again, people don’t want to hear you prattling on about your book…however, they would love to hear you talk about how you can help them in the area that your book is covering. Make sure you convey this to the radio station – and I’m sure they will be biting your hand off for you to come in and fill in a half hour slot. Make sure you advertise your books landing page when giving out details. (This is where having a URL with your book’s title is very effective, makes it much easier for the listener to remember.)

Number 7: Affiliates. In any line of business, you will have companies that offer parallel services to yours, and it’s these people you can approach to offer a special deal to their customers. This could be a very effective way of getting in streams of new clients and even if you offer your book for free, look at the revenue that could be gained from the back end. One new client could easily pay for the free books you might give away. Your joint alliance partner will also be offering their customers a great deal, as they are offering something of value – for free. It really is a win win.

You can find out more about Alexa and her company on her website: www.thebookrefinery.com

Visit pubgraphics.com for more information.

Even though we’ve been printing for almost two decades and see hundreds of titles everyday, most of us still get excited to see nicely designed and printed books go through the plant. In our increasingly electronic world, there’s nothing quite like print: the texture of the paper, the richness of the imagery, the satisfying snap of turning pages.

So get inspired…. and enjoy this new collection of books, hot off the PG presses!  (All photos by Jeff Kulinski)

POD books in full color

Full color bleed, gutters too!

POD for art books

Lots of white space and clean layout

Hardcover books with full color

So vibrant, the hand looks real!

casebound small size POD

Small but mighty

 

POD digital book

A picture worth a thousand words

Perfect bound POD

What will your next book be?

 

As 2014 comes to a close, we’d like to take this opportunity to reflect on what we’ve seen this year, both in the print/publishing industry and at Publishers’ Graphics.

A good time to reflect on 2014Here’s a few things we’ve noticed:

Print still rules. We’ve seen no let-up in sales of our print books, in fact, just the opposite.   Several recent studies seem to confirm this, like this article: Teens Still Prefer Print.

Bookselling is back, or more specifically Indie-bookselling is back.   Publishers and readers are searching for new outlets, other than Amazon, for reviewing, finding and buying books. And while there are still a fair number of bookstore closings, there are many openings too, like this one in Chicago, about to launch its 3rd location.

Social sharing continues to grow. Social media continues to disrupt traditional marketing, and for millennials especially, might soon outpace other forms of communication, marketing and advertising. By the way, we’re getting more active on Twitter; you can follow our tweets on @podprinter.

Greater demand for multi-channel distribution. Publishers (and authors) know they need to get their titles into a lot of different channels to drive sales and build awareness. We are well positioned for this need!   Watch for announcements early next year!

PG Highlights:

Customer service survey. We initiated a satisfaction survey with every order that we shipped.  We wanted to know what customers thought of our service, turnarounds and quality of products. We read each and every survey!  Keep them coming!

We bought a company! With the purchase of Commercial Letter in St. Louis, we made our second company acquisition.

We moved a company! We completed the physical move of Commercial Letter to the PG offices in Earth City in early December. This involved a major renovation of the PG offices to handle the added staff and equipment.

IMG_6635

The end of the year… a good time to reflect on 2014.

We’re evolving…. into a one-stop solution for our customers. Direct mail, list and data services, book and journal printing, and mailing, warehousing and distribution services are all part of the mix now.

We installed new equipment. We added two new Xerox 150 printers in our Carol Stream, IL headquarters, expanding our portfolio of high speed book printing equipment.

Tradeshows and conferences. We attended some high-profile conferences this year including the London Book Fair and Book Expo America in New York City.

We look forward to providing the best products and services possible in 2015.  Great things are coming up in 2015!  Stay tuned!

 

goodmove artwork

Over the weekend, the Commercial Letter team moved across town into the PG facility in Earth City, Missouri. To accommodate the added staff and equipment, the PG plant was remodeled: walls were knocked down, cubicles broken down and reassembled, offices rearranged, electricity and security enhanced—all topped off with a fresh coat of paint.

Behind the scenes, system integration is well underway and new technology platforms are being developed.  There’s more work ahead, but overall we’re pleased with our progress.  By the looks on these smiling faces, everyone is happy that this phase is completed!

With the CL and PG staff now situated under one roof, it’s full steam ahead!  Here’s some photos from the big move!

 

From time to time we like to print comments from our customers, and this is one the nicest—if not the nicest—we have ever received.  This letter comes from Dr. Susan Swartwout, the publisher at the Southeast Missouri State University Press.   So please bear with us as we do a little shameless self-promotion!

Jounals and book printing

Journey is an annual literary journal that publishes original writing by students of Southeast Missouri State University.

I first learned about Publishers Graphics from an Illinois journal editor in 1994 when I was an assistant editor, looking for a good printer for a poetry journal. When I became the publisher of the Southeast Missouri University Press—publishing books and several journals—I continued to rely on Publishers Graphics for high quality printing at very reasonable prices. According to state regulations, I have to acquire three bidson many of our publications. Publishers Graphics consistently offers the lowest bid and is awarded the job.

Their online quote system is fantastic. Instead of waiting a week for a print quote, I have the emailed quote in my mailbox within two minutes of submitting the specs in the online form. The quotes are stored for 30 days, and the quotes that I accept are kept online so that I can easily click on the title and get a quote for reprints by changing only the quantity. The reprints are ready in a short turnaround time. This is extraordinarily convenient for keeping a small but sufficient inventory.

And did I mention friendly and supportive? I never have to wait long for an email response to a question, and I can count on Publisher Graphics associates to be courteous and always willing to help.

Beautiful books that get loads of compliments, great pricing, fast quotes, good turnaround, friendly, and great support:   I highly recommend Publishers Graphics. They’ve been a major contributor to the success of our University Press.

About the Southeast Missouri State University Press:

Southeast Missouri State University Press, founded in 2001, serves both as a first-rate publisher in an under published region and as a working laboratory for students interested in learning the art and skills of literary publishing. The Press supports a Minor degree program in Small-press Publishing for undergraduate students in any major who wish to acquire the basic skills for independent-press publishing and editing.

Recognition won by our books include the John H. Reid Short Fiction Award, the Creative Spirits Platinum Award for General Fiction, the James Jones First Novel Award, the Langum Award for Historical Fiction, the Missouri Governor’s Book Award, the United We Read selection, and the Kniffen Book Award for best U.S./Canada cultural geography.

POD, print on demand

A trio of recent titles from the University Press at Southeast Missouri State

 

Have you written your book? Are you ready to start marketing?   Now comes the hard part:  building an author or book website to promote your book. Creating a website can be fun project, but it’s often easy to get caught up in the bells and whistles of web technology and forget the real purpose of a website.

In this post I’m interviewing Brandon McDonald, a graphic designer who has built a thriving business that helps small business, non-profits, and entrepreneurs. He’s designed many websites and has several suggestions that can help you tackle this time-consuming project and improve your web design experience.

It seem like websites have evolved from being art projects to becoming more of a marketing tool. What trends and changes have you noticed in website design?

Over the past 15 plus years, I have witnessed website design shifting from the hands of developers to designers and marketers. With this shift websites are generally more attractive and are often first approached from a marketing perspective. A great-looking website is often rendered useless when the needs of the target market aren’t considered from the very beginning of the plan. Great websites have carefully considered design, development, and marketing—all working in tandem.

What’s the most important thing that clients can do to work with website designers to make their websites more effective?  

Have a plan. Know what you want to accomplish. Who is your market? How are you different than your competitors? What makes you special? Effective designs come from effective plans. Many designers are great out-of-the-box thinkers. Including your designer early in the process can help shape a more effective end-result.

Is blogging worthwhile? Should a blog be part of a website?

Blogging can be very worthwhile. Adding valuable content on a regular basis will keep people engaged and give a reason to continually visit a site. More content also means more organic search results, which are very helpful with search engine optimization (SEO). Sharing expertise and knowledge is a good way to add value for readers and solidify a reputation as a leader in a particular field.

Blogging can also be a liability. When blogs aren’t updated regularly or contain little to no value it can make the company or person look lazy, disengaged, disingenuous, or otherwise bad.

Ultimately, it is up to the person or company to consider whether or not they can keep on top of the blog. If so, go for it! If not, maybe consider a different route, such as social media.

What else can authors/publishers do to make sure they’re on the right track?

Google Analytics and other site measurement tools are invaluable for data collection. With this data, you can see what is working and what isn’t. You can see where your site traffic is coming from: search keywords, links from other sites, etc. With this information you can better craft your next steps. The web is ever-changing, so adapt your strategies.

Don’t forget traditional media and promotion tools. Many businesses focus so heavily online that they neglect more traditional delivery methods, such as print. Print, coupled with web, can be more effective than either alone. Human beings enjoy the tactile. Targeted mailing to existing clients or serious prospects can be that extra thing that sets you apart from the competition and ultimately wins you a person’s business. A great designer will ensure that your online presence and printed materials match and create a cohesive brand.

Do you think social media can be used effectively to promote a book or author?

Social media is just another media to connect with an audience. It ideally is part of a larger promotional plan. It can be a highly effective sales tool for folks that can keep up with it. Check it often and always respond when a reasonable question is asked. It is a lot like customer service mixed with a fan club. Used in conjunction with a website containing a stellar blog, look out!

 

 

Lauren Pizza is an author whose memoir Meant to Be, was recently picked up by a publishing house.  When I met her last year at the Frankfurt Book Fair, she was there checking out the publishing industry.  Lauren’s story illustrates how important it is to stay the course and use every contact and promotional tool at your disposal.  Here is her inspirational story:

I never dreamed that I would walk into a bookstore and see a book that I wrote on the shelves. Not only was it available in the “New Releases” section, but my book was surrounded by other fabulous memoirs like Lea Michele’s Brunette Ambition and Robin Roberts’ inspiring Everybody’s Got Something.

Little did I know the amount of work that needed to transpire beforehand. So after my experience, I’ve come up with a few tips to help writers just starting out.

  1. Enjoy the process of writing (while you can): I fell in love with the creative process. It was truly a therapeutic experience, and I reveled in the idea that my work would reach others. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would write a memoir, let alone that people would actually buy it.
  2. It truly is all about who you know (and trial and error): Like any other 21st century human, I Googled how to get my book published. I came back with Nicholas Sparks’ agent among others. I figured going straight to the top would work out fabulously. The name of Sparks’ agent would have been great if I actually knew someone who could introduce us. Upon this realization— as well as no responses from
    POD book printing, short run book printing

    Jersey Girl, Lauren Pizza

    those top literary agents— I then began asking everyone who might know someone in the publishing world. I was even brave enough to email the entire manuscript to James Patterson (well, I emailed his wife, and I am still waiting for that reply).

  3. Be prepared for change: Not only did the title of my book change throughout the process, but so did the focus of my book. I finally found a successful person in the publishing world when I asked my husband’s lawyer if he knew anyone. The lawyer knew someone who had written two books, yay!   But, the process certainly didn’t stop there.  
  4. Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt to take others’ advice (especially regarding something you don’t know anything about):  I sent my manuscript to the publishing lawyer and heard nothing for five weeks. By that time, I was planning on self-publishing or just shelving the manuscript and calling it a day.  Then, I received the email that changed everything.  Meeting this man was like magically finding a goldmine. He told me that I write better than Norah Ephron and that I reminded him of Erma Bombeck. He also said I had the complete wrong list of literary agents and handed me a new list, told me who to call, and what to say.  He also encouraged me to learn as much as possible about the publishing industry, and I would give the same advice to any aspiring writer looking to get published.
  5. Marketing is everything (and never-ending): When Skyhorse Publishing agreed to meet with me, I was thrilled! After 45 minutes of an amazing performance on my part, the owner of the Publishing Company said: “Yes, I will publish your book!”   From that point on, marketing took over. You can write the greatest book ever, but if it doesn’t reach anyone, then what is the point? I began by hiring a publicist and working with a PR firm. We called radio stations, recorded a song as the soundtrack for my book, and even created and distributed 30 second commercials to various networks that played during prime time viewing. All that work was maybe even harder than writing the book!
  6. Establish a “brand” along with your bookI did that with my last name. Some people might try to hide a last name like “Pizza, but since I’m from New Jersey and we take pizza very seriously, why not sell that? I sent my book and promotional materials out in a pizza box. The magazines and media companies on the receiving end loved it. After all, wouldn’t you remember a book sent to you in a pizza box? Getting noticed is about selling what is unique about you as a writer. And by getting that noticed, you get remembered. I also went all out on Social Media reach with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, U –Tube, Linkedln , etc.

What is my best marketing tip?   Marketing will always be one of the most essential parts of your writing career.   So pretend you are running for office and sell your book that way, (maybe without kissing babies and all that).

 

 

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