Monday, December 21, 2009

Merry Christmas! (and Happy New Year)

Hello, friends. I just stopped by on my way to the airport to wish all of you a Merry Christmas. As you can see, I got my hot chocolate to go, today.

Did you notice the sign on the door as you came inside? Our fine proprietor is closing the coffee shop for the next two weeks. Let's meet here the first week in January to find out who won the drawing for Become a Real Self-Publisher by Michael N. Marcus and to talk about our plans for 2010.

Gotta run!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Self-Publishing and Paid Marketing

Hi, everyone! Let me unbundle - that wind is really whipping out there. You can see that I brought company with me, today. Pull up a chair for Mr. Michael Marcus. I invited him to talk to us because he has a unique voice in the on-going discussion about how to get your nonfiction book published. (Link to Writer Beware! Blogs to view a summary of some of the discussion.) Mr. Marcus had books published by both large and small traditional publishers, but was unhappy with the books and the income. As a businessperson, he is skilled at finding solutions to problems so he applied his abilities to finding a more effective way to publish his books. In 2008, he formed Silver Sands Books through which he has published five books to date. His book Become a Real Self-Publisherhas been on two different Amazon bestseller lists for business books. His blog for writers and readers is

A Christmas gift to one of our followers will be a copy Become a Real Self-Publisher. The only requirement for being eligible for the drawing is to "follow" and be a member of the community by December 31, 2009. (Sorry Marsha Moore, you won our first drawing, so you're not eligible for the rest of the year. Yes, folks, I'm making up the rules as I go along, so let me know if I get too far out with them.)

Mr. Marcus will pick up where Marsha left off last time with marketing your book. Marsha talked about free services, Michael will tell us about his experience with paid services.

"When your book is ready to go on sale, use a paid-for press release distribution service. I've been quite pleased with PR Newswire and PR Web. Both companies offer various packages with different prices based on distribution and the included photos, audio or video. PR Newswire can even display giant photos in Times Square in Manhattan. The prices at PR Web range from $80 to $360. At PR Newswire, you can spend from $680 to several thousand bucks. If you are only interested in state or regional coverage, you can pay less.

With press release services, as in most things, you get what you pay for. The free press release services are pretty much worthless.

"Late last year I self-published a humorous memoir called I Only Flunk My Brightest Students: stories from school and real life. I chose the top-level $360 package from PR Web and was amazed by the performance. Within an hour of the distribution, Google showed many news websites picking up the story. After a week, there were about TEN THOUSAND links in media all over the world. Some of the links were on my own websites or on the sites of stores selling my book, but the vast majority were the results of my $360 payment to PR Web.

"I started writing -- and promoting -- my Become a Real Self-Publisher back in February. The number of Google links grew gradually by about 10, then 20, then 30 per day. On November 6, I had 971 Google links. My book had an official pub date of October 15, but the final version was not available until about November 10, so that's when I launched my paid PR campaign with a release sent out through PR Web.

"Today, Google shows about 8,300 links! That's a big number and certainly shows the power of PR, but links to a book title are only meaningful if people are searching for that title. I'm more interested in capturing potential book buyers who are searching for a topic that's covered in my book. But a popular title helps that too. A search for part of my title, "real self-publisher," shows four links -- but they're all for my book. A search for "self-publisher" has my book on the first and second Google pages. It changes frequently and has had the top two positions on many days. A search for "self publish" puts my book on the fifth page. That's not page one, but it's better than six, or 14.

"Earlier this year I published a book titled Phone Systems & Phones for Small Business & Home. Its title is well suited for a key word search, and comes up on the first Google page for "small business phone system. It's important to keep in mind that non-fiction books can reach potential purchasers who are not planning to buy books. If you've written a book on do-it-yourself bicycle repair, you might sell a book to someone searching for information on patching a flat bike tire, or someone who wants to buy a headlight or helmet.

"I really don't know how many people use Google to search for books. A study three years ago showed that Google had 91 million searches per day, so now the figure could be 100 million, or more. I'll gladly settle for a tiny percentage of 100 million -- especially since I spend so little to get Google to notice my books."

By using the power of marketing, you can make a significant difference in the number of people who read your book.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

This Little Author Went to Market

Brr! Come in out of that cold wind, Marsha! Let me take your coat. A little pot of tea ought to warm up your insides. Do you have some writing tidbits for us to go along with the Christmas cookies we've been eating? Excuse the crumbs and carry on…

"There's no such thing as isolation nowadays, even for writers. Creating a platform and a web presence, particularly for nonfiction writers, is critical to the success of your book – and even to getting an agent on board. Many agents now admit the first thing they do upon receiving a nonfiction proposal is to Google the author. Do you exist in the cyber-world?

"These days, the most important tools a writer can have in their marketing arsenal are three-fold: a website or blog; Facebook; and Twitter. You don't need to be a technological genius to use any of them, but you do need to put in the time and effort to keep them current. There's nothing worse than going to an author's webpage that hasn't been updated since 1998; it's almost as bad as not having one! The best part of these marketing tactics is they're free. It may take you awhile to get your head around them, but getting on the web can create a ready-made market without spending a cent.

"Blogger and Wordpress are the two most popular templates for bloggers. If you're starting a blog and you want to build up your readership quickly, it's best to pick a topic and not stray too far. For example, if you're a travel writer, you may want to blog about travel destinations. If your expertise is in medicine, you can keep your readers up to date on medical advancements. You can throw in personal tidbits (it is a blog, after all) but stay professional. Keep in mind that potential agents and publishers may read whatever you write, so check your spelling and grammar. Make sure to add links to other relevant websites and put a button for readers to subscribe.

"Starting up a Facebook fan page before you've had anything published might seem a little premature, but you can use it as a way to advertise your expertise, articles or even promote upcoming talks. Share links, photos and build a base for future book buyers.

"Many have derided Twitter as nothing more than frivolous time wasting (and yes, it's good for that, too), but it's a great way to network with other writers, share links, and promote yourself at the same time. Just be careful: plenty of agents and publishing types frequent its pages, so don't say anything you wouldn't want a potential agent to overhear.

"Get into the cyberspace game now and when the next agent Googles you, you'll be everywhere!"