The New Author

Technology is rapidly changing the landscape for marketing books. A few years ago, authors were encouraged to have a website and develop a mailing list (email and snail mail) for their fan base to maintain contact and market their current and upcoming titles to. However, the new interactive Web 2.0 has changed how authors are expected to market their books.

The number of Web 2.0 user-created content websites that authors can use to promote their books is increasing on a daily basis. Keeping up and learning how to use each of these time-consuming activities to promote books can be confusing and overwhelming.

Dennis Cass, an author with HarperCollins, recently created a very funny video with his take on what is expected of authors from their publishers in marketing their books. I think Dennis has done a great job of encapsulating many authors’ feelings in his video that is posted on YouTube.

Do you feel like Dennis?

The Cardinal Sin of Marketing

I hate to admit it, but I did it. I committed the cardinal sin of marketing. Here I am, the author of a marketing book, a speaker on publishing and marketing, and I went and broke Rule Number One of marketing.

The number one rule of marketing is that authors (or any business person for that matter) should never ever be without their business card that promotes their book. But here I was, at an event with authors and I did not bring my business cards.

I really have no excuse, but let me tell you about it. This past weekend, I attended Christian Book Expo in Dallas, Texas. I placed my business cards in my briefcase and had them with me. One afternoon, I attended the Authors Picnic put on by AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association). This was an indoor picnic with well-known authors. Since I was going to lunch to listen to these authors speak, I only took my purse, not my briefcase. I neglected to transfer some business cards into my purse prior to attending the picnic. When I arrived at the luncheon, I discovered that most of the attendees were authors and that part of the time was devoted to networking with each other. There I was, the author of a book on marketing Christian books, without my business cards. Talk about looking foolish. I jokingly told the ladies at my table to do as I say, not as I do since I had just broken the cardinal rule of marketing.

At the luncheon I met many wonderful women authors. A number of these authors shared with me disappointments they had with the publishers of their books. These disappointments ranged from feeling like their publishers did not listen to their input on cover designs to feeling like the publisher did not provide them support for marketing their book. One author told me that initially she was excited when she found a publisher for her book, but that her excitement quickly turned to disappointment when the publisher did almost nothing to market her book. This saga is not new. I often hear similar ones from new authors.

When you write a book, that book is your baby. No one will love that book or be as invested in that book as you. As parents, after we give birth we don’t hand our children over to someone else to raise. The same should be true for authors. After your book is published, don’t hand over the responsibility of marketing your book to the publisher. You, the author, should throw yourself into marketing your book. You are the one with the passion and the drive to sell your book. No one else will be able to market or sell your book as well as you can. If you have a publisher that is spending money and effort  on marketing your book, then the combined effort between you and your publisher will only make your book that much more successful.

I encourage you to do all you can to market your book. Start with carrying your business card with you wherever you go and always have a few copies of your book in your car so that you can make an instant sale when you meet an interested consumer.

Have you ever missed an opportunity to sell your book because you weren’t prepared?

It Only Takes 12 Seconds

One of the things I love about marketing is that there really is no limit on what can be done to promote a product. A creative person can turn almost anything into a marketing gimmick. With all the new social networking tools popping up on the Internet, the field is ever-expanding for the availability of marketing ideas.

Take Pastor Andre Butler. He recently authored the book Not in My House. This book deals with Biblical principles of money management and applying these so that the current recession does not disable you and your household. His website incorporates a great little marketing gimmick using social networking techniques. He invites his readers to post their own unique video message saying, “Not in My House.” You can view the webpage at http://www.notinmyhousebook.com/how-do-you-say-it/.

What smart marketing! Pastor Butler has invited his readers to engage with his book and help him promote his message.

Some new applications online have made it easier to include this type of feedback on your own website. Ease of use and ease of application are both extremely valuable when asking your readers to engage with you and help promote your books in this fashion. The easier the application, the more people will actually do it.

One such application is http://12seconds.tv. This cool website is to YouTube what Twitter is to Blogs. The idea behind 12seconds is that you can share what you are doing with people in your life through quick, simple video taken from your cell phone. Only 12 seconds because they believe anything beyond that is boring. The video is taken from your phone and can be emailed to the site or posted directly from the cell phone unto the website.

With this cool application, people can do a 12 second video on their cell phone from any place they currently are and post it. Better yet, with 12seconds, you don’t have to wait for your customers to do the work; you can make it easy for them by using your own cell phone to video tape testimonials. As an author or publisher, you can use your own phone to interview people and get testimonials for your books wherever you are. These quick 12 second videos can then be posted to your website for use in your marketing campaign.

Take a few minutes to check out http://12seconds.tv and let me know if you make a 12 second video and where you post it.

Word Made Art

Let me share with you a new website I was recently introduced to. The site is called Wordle. You can find it at www.wordle.net. This great little site allows you to create art with words, or, as Wordle puts it, “word clouds.”

So what does word art have to do with marketing?

First of all, creating Wordles is just plain fun. The word clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. Creators can tweak their word clouds to feature different fonts, layouts, and color schemes.

Second of all, it’s great art for your promotional materials, your website, your blog, or even your profile picture for your social networks. The images you create on Wordle can be used however you like. Just save the images you create in jpeg format onto your computer.

One neat feature of Wordle is the ability to use an RSS feed to fetch the text for an art picture. You can enter any website that has an RSS feed and Wordle turns that website’s recent text into art. Here is this blog (www.marketingchristianbooks.wordpress.com) as a Wordle. mcb12

Another idea for using a Wordle in your promotional materials would be if you have a theme Bible verse for one of your books, your blog, or your website, you can turn that verse into a Wordle and post it online. Here is an example of a Bible-verse-turned-Wordle using John 1:1-3. mcb2

The best part is that using the Wordle website is free. The creator of Wordle is a part of IBM Research’s Visual Communication Lab. They are currently trying to understand how and why people are using Wordle. In exchange for using the site, I encourage you to take a few minutes to complete their short anonymous survey as a way to say thank you.

The creators of Wordle call it a toy. It truly is. One can get lost happily creating Wordles for hours. Happy Wordling!

Did you create a Wordle you want to share? I encourage you to post a link to your Wordle in the comments.

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Read an E-Book Week

I recently received an email from Advocace Media that said, “What do the iPod, Kraft Miracle Whip, and the La-Z-Boy reclining chair all have in common?” The answer: They were all launched during a recession time. I believe this current recession will have a huge impact on the sale of ebooks.

Up until now, ebooks have accounted for less than one percent of all books sold. Not a lot in the scope of things. Ebooks have been around for quite a few years, yet they never seem to have taken off in popularity the way industry gurus have consistently predicted they will. However, I believe that three things are colliding together in our society that will spur the sales of ebooks in a new way.

1. The rapid growth of technology. The creation of the Kindle and the large marketing push Amazon is putting behind it, as well as the new smart phone technology (touch screen cell phones like the iPhone and the new Blackberry) will drive more ebook sales due to the convenience and ease of purchasing and downloading these books into a conveniently portable, reading format.

2. The economy. Our current recession, which economists are predicting to be drawn-out over an ever-expanding period of time, has impacted people’s spending. Couple this with the government’s expanding spending policies and we may well see a new era where personal spending money is greatly diminished. With less money to spend, people will look for ways to conserve money while still enjoying their leisure pursuits. Ergo, ebooks will become more attractive due to their bargain price when compared to print books.

3. Green initiative and the growing interest in protecting the environment. The warnings about global warming over the past decade are making Americans more conscientious of our impact on our environment and the resulting repercussions. Warnings of impending fuel crises and rapidly fluctuating fuel prices are causing us to reconsider our publishing practices, as can be seen in the rise of pod printing for books, resulting in less waste. The slogan, “Read an ebook, save a tree,” has already taken root. As people become increasingly environmentally conscious and have less money to spend, reading digitally will be pushed to new limits.

I believe these three things will result in more ebooks being sold in the coming years. In future years, we may look back and add ebooks to the list of products launched or made popular during a recession period.

Read an E-Book Week was first registered with Chase’s Calendar of Events in 2004. This is the first year I have been made aware of this event. I am not new to publishing or the publishing world. My job is to stay informed about the changes and events occurring in this realm, yet, until this year, Read an E-Book Week has not appeared on my radar.

The industry is beginning to see the era of ebooks and with this vision, ebooks and events supporting ebooks are becoming more visible. The purpose of Read an E-Book Week is to officially recognize ebook authors and publishers and give them a certain extra “legitimacy” to promote the new technology of ebooks during this week.

Ebook week is March 8-14. More information can be found on the organizer’s website at www.ebookweek.com. If you are an author or publisher of ebooks, take advantage of this week to promote your ebooks. The website provides ideas for promotion during this week and they provide free downloadable banners like the one displayed here for your use. The neat thing about Read an E-Book Week is that it dovetails with Small Press Month (www.smallpressmonth.org), so if you are a small publisher, you can combine the two for powerful promotion.rebw_bannerad1

What are your plans for promoting your ebooks?