Guerrilla Marketing

If you are a publisher or an author, you have probably heard the term “guerrilla marketing.”

Coined by Jay Conrad Levinson, guerrilla marketing is a technique that uses unconventional means to achieve conventional goals. The intent is to get maximum results from minimal resources (dollars spent).

Typically, guerrilla marketing campaigns are generated using time, energy, imagination, and information. They utilize unexpected and unique techniques to generate buzz about the product or service.

Don’t confuse guerrilla marketing techniques with simply using guerrillas as this company did.

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Don’t Let This Happen to You!

A member publisher of Christian Small Publishers Association released a children’s book last month to coincide with the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS). This publisher arranged for the author to do an author appearance with a book signing at the show to promote this new release.

The weekend before the show, the book’s author, Kim Simac, had the chance opportunity to meet Glenn Beck, a conservative talk show host. Glen was so impressed with the author and her book that he decided to feature the book on his show during the week of ICRS. That same week, the Supreme Court handed down the landmark decision in a 5-4 ruling that overturned Chicago’s ban on private citizens keeping handguns in their homes. This decision placed the media’s attention on the Second Amendment, a complete publicity coup for this publisher.

The day after the ruling from the Supreme Court, Glenn Beck did feature “With a Rifle By My Side,” the second amendment children’s book by Kim Simac, on his show.

This is the type of media attention every publisher craves. National publicly generates book sales, often lots of book sales.

In this case, there was a problem. Being a new release and not anticipating such immediate media attention, the publisher was behind in getting the book into distribution. As a result, consumers who heard about the book on Glen Beck’s show could not purchase the book from the major online retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Borders, nor could they walk into their local secular bookstore and order the book. The result—lost sales; many lost sales.

Every publisher can take a lesson from this story. You never know when your big media break will happen. Some happen by chance, some by careful planning. Either way, the moral of this story is be prepared!

Distribution for a new book should be established a minimum of two months prior to the release of a new book; with the optimum time frame being six to eight months prior to the release of a new book, especially if you are seeking bookstore sales. The goal is to have your book available through as many channels as possible. The more places consumers can purchase your books, the more books you will sell when your big publicity opportunity breaks.

Take a lesson from this story. Be prepared. Get your distribution in place before you release your next book.

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Amazon’s eBook Sales

Amazon recently reported that it sold three times as many Kindle ebooks in the first half of 2010 as it did in the same period last year. This data includes the books sold with Kindle apps that can be read on iPads, iPhones, and other devices.

There is no doubt about it. eBook sales continue to rise.

The interesting piece of information in Amazon’s press release is the following:

The Association of American Publishers’ latest data reports that e-book sales grew 163 percent in the month of May and 207 percent year-to-date through May. Kindle book sales in May and year-to-date through May exceeded those growth rates.”

In other words, the increase in sales of ebooks for the Kindle is rising faster than the rate of increase of overall ebook sales as reported by publishers to the AAP (Association of American Publishers).

Why is this?

Let me give you my educated guess.

Publishers reporting to the AAP are, for the most part, large publishing houses. Hence, the AAP’s numbers do not reflect the small publishers or the large number of self-published authors around the nation. These micro-publishers and self-published authors can and do publish their ebooks directly to Amazon’s Kindle platform.

I believe the large number of books produced by this group of people is what is driving Amazon’s ebook sales growth. The number of ebooks being sold from this group of publishers is not reflected in the AAP reports and statistics.

Small and self-publishers are growing and as they grow, they are collectively beginning to sell enough books to make a difference in the statistical reflections of book sales.

I think Amazon may finally be recognizing the power of small and self-publishers. After all, they recently introduced 70 percent royalty rates for authors who publish their books directly to the Kindle platform. Now for the rest of the industry to catch up.

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Scales of Judgment

It has happened again, another lawsuit in the Christian publishing realm. Every time I hear of a Christian suing another Christian—including a Christian business entity—I think of I Corinthians 6 where Paul is admonishing the believers for taking their disputes to be judged by unbelievers.

Verse 7 of I Corinthians 6 states, “The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?

The latest report of believers in the publishing world taking their case to court involves William Paul Young (the author of the bestselling The Shack) and his former Windblown Media partners Wayne Jacobsen and Brad Cummings. Mr. Young is suing his former partners over accounting improprieties that he claims have deprived him of $8 million in proceeds of sales (just through December 2008).

I do not know if Mr. Young sought arbitration before taking his suit to the California courts. Nor am I here to judge William P. Young or the Windblown Media folks.

I am here to say that it breaks my heart to see Christians in the business of writing and publishing books designed to bring people closer to God end up maligning the name of Christianity, and undermining the message of their books. After all, isn’t The Shack all about forgiveness and God’s love?

For those of you who do not know the story, Mr. Young could not find a traditional publisher to produce his book, The Shack. So, he and two friends, Wayne Jacobsen and Brad Cummings, formed Windblown Media to publish the book themselves. The book became an overnight success.

Wikipedia says that The Shack had sold over 10 million copies and had been at number 1 on the New York Times Best Seller List for 70 weeks as of May 1, 2010.

That folks is a lot of books and a lot of revenue (meaning $$$). Instead of falling into the footsteps of Pastors Francis Chen and Rick Warren, who have renounced the millions of dollars their books have made to help the less fortunate and spread the gospel, Mr. Young is asking a secular court system to give him money that he feels he has been cheated of.

Oh that we would let God settle our disputes rather than attempt to settle them in a way that does not bring glory to God’s name and tarnishes the reputation of Christianity.

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Staying Viable in a Tough Economy

In an era of decreasing reading and book buying, what can publishers do to ensure that they survive?

This was the subject of Publishers’ Institute: Embracing the Next Decade at the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) last month.

Other questions posed and answered at this seminar included:

  • When should your marketing campaign for a new book begin?
  • What veto rights should you give an author on editorial and design changes?
  • In this age of print-on-demand technology, when should a publisher deem a book out-of-print?
  • Which age-group uses the Internet the most? Where do they hang-out on the Web?
  • How does social media marketing differ from traditional marketing?
  • How do I create a successful social media strategy to market my books?

This two-hour seminar featured three speakers, Darren Henry of STL, Brian Flagler of Flagler Law Group, and Sarah Bolme of CSPA.

If you are itching for the answers to these questions, you can purchase the audio version of the seminar on Christian Small Publishers Association’s website for just $14.00. Just click here.

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