6 Reasons to Add Postcards to Your Author Arsenal

There’s no doubt that book marketing can be challenging.  And giving advice or instruction on how to market a book is also not without its challenges. What works incredibly well for one author with one book may not deliver nearly the same results for a different author with a different book.  That is why the best recommendation of all is to start deliberately, slowly, and small – with measurable steps that produce measurable results. Then, once you find something that works, ramp it up.

postcards

For instance, some authors have a wide variety of branded and customized promotional materials at their disposal: business cards, publication announcements, postcards, posters, etc.  These are typically best suited for the extrovert author – the type of writer who loves the public eye and attends book fairs, book signings, and author events. At these events, every person you meet is a potential recipient of a branded piece of collateral, especially a business card.  Posters, too, are obvious in their purpose (book event signage to make your space stand out). But what about postcards? Well, stay tuned! If you are an extrovert author (or even if you aren’t), here are six great reasons to add branded, customized postcards to your book marketing arsenal:

  1. Invitations. If you’re attending an author event or book fair, postcards are the perfect way to notify everyone in advance. Sure, you should post the notice on Facebook and your other social media platforms, and email everyone you know, but in this day and digital age of electronic media, there’s still something about receiving a postcard in the mail that makes it stand out.  And standing out is what good book marketing is all about.

  2. Solicitations.  What if there is an event or conference that you want to present at? Same rule applies from number one.  An inquiry into a speaking engagement will literally speak volumes if said out-reach arrives in the way of a branded, customized postcard with your (eye-catching) cover on the front.

  3. Influencers. Speaking of out-reach, a successful book marketer never stops promoting themselves, their book, and their business (with diplomacy, of course). If you’re looking to catch the attention of influence-makers (other authors, experts, bloggers, and book reviewers), a handwritten custom postcard will certainly increase your chances.

  4. Media Chow.  Members of the media get bombarded with interview requests from self-publishing authors all the time, but most of those inquiries come in the form of email, Facebook, Linked-In, or Twitter.  Imagine the impact you would have on a local journalist or DJ if he/she actually received a handwritten postcard from you in the mail, with your eye-catching, full-color book cover on the front and a short pleasant note on the back introducing yourself and asking for a short meeting to pitch your story (remember, you pitch stories to the media, not books, and not yourself).

  5. Follow-Ups.  Many of the people you meet as a published author will present opportunities. In fact, you may not even realize what the opportunity is until later that day or even the following-week.  Sure, you exchanged business cards with them, but so did everyone else. Which author is going to follow-up with an email and which author is going to follow-up with a custom postcard in the mail?  And of those two, which author do you think those influence-makers are going to take the time to contact?

  6. Thank-Yous.  With all these book fairs and author events you attend, and all these media contacts, influencers, and writers you meet, eventually it will be time to thank someone. And that’s a great time for a personalized, branded, customized postcard. You can’t give a free book to everyone you want to thank, and a business card isn’t a “thank you” (it’s a gimmee), so postcards are the perfect compromise!  People typically only receive postcards from loved ones on vacation (if that anymore!), so postcards still possess a degree of intimacy while being entirely professional and appropriate.  And for that, not coincidentally, your recipient will thank you, also.

brent sampson
In 2002, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Semi-Finalist Brent Sampson founded Outskirts Press, a custom book publishing solution that provides a cost-effective, fast, and powerful way to help authors publish, distribute, and market their books worldwide while leaving 100% of the rights and 100% of the profits with the author. Outskirts Press was incorporated in Colorado in October, 2003.
In his capacity as the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Marketing Officer, Brent is an expert in the field of book publishing and book marketing. He is also the author of several books on both subjects, including the bestseller Sell Your Book on Amazon, which debuted at #29 on Amazon’s bestseller list.

7 Simple Steps to Succeed at Book Fairs

London Book Fair

Selling books at book fairs can be an exciting event for newly published authors (or any authors, actually). Book fairs, author signings, and other live events offer your chance to meet readers face-to-face, mingle with other writers, and most importantly, sell some books!  Book fairs take place year around all around the country and the world. Your local library most likely has a calendar of upcoming book fairs, or you can always conduct a search online. Once you schedule your appearance and reserve your space at a book fair or author event, it is time to consider what your “space” is going to look like.  Typically, you will be provided a 10-foot x 10-foot space with a 6 foot long table and two chairs. The rest is up to you. But it’s what you do with this “blank canvas” that often separates a successful event (where every attendee stops to check out your book) from an unsuccessful one (where you watch in misery as the crowd passes you by to check out other authors and other books).

So how do you make sure your author space is unskippable? By following these seven simple steps.

  1. Dress to impress. That doesn’t always mean dressing professionally. It means dressing in a way that is related to your book or to your author brand.  Have you written a series of children’s books? Dress as the main character. Do you write spy novels? Dress like James Bond. Westerns? Wear your sharpest cowboy attire, spiffiest cowboy boots, and shotguniest cowboy hat. You get the idea.  

  2. Act the part.  Don’t just stop with the outfit.   If you’re dressing as one of your characters, introduce yourself as the protagonist (or antagonist) of the books on your table. Does your character have an accent? Use it.

  3. Be approachable. Even if the character you are playing is a gruff sour puss, you certainly don’t want to be.  Put on your friendliest face and your biggest smile for this event and stand at the side of your table rather than sitting behind it.  Greet everyone who approaches with a friendly nod, a bright smile, or a chipper “Hello!”

  4. Dress your space.  Now that we have you covered, let’s discuss your space.  Certainly having a lot of copies of your book(s) on the table is important, but that’s not enough to attract the kind of attention you want. This is where posters come in.  Two large posters of your book cover are worth their weight in gold (and are reusable from book fair to book fair). Hang one from the front of the table and one on the wall (or divider curtain) behind you.  This is just another reason why a stellar cover is so important. Make sure your cover is an eye pleaser and a crowd pleaser.

  5. Dress your table.  Depending upon the event, your table may or may not come with a table cloth.  Which is why you want to bring one. Be sure the color contrasts with the cover of your book so your books “pop” while on display.   Another way to make sure the books “pop” is to display them artistically or creatively. Rather than just placing a stack of them on the corner of the table, arrange them face out and at different heights by resting them on and against various sized props or boxes.

  6. Prop your table.  Books aren’t the only thing that should grace your table.  If you have any book awards, be sure to display them. If you don’t have a physical award, print out the certificate or award image and display that instead.  If you have received a glowing review or endorsement, print that and bring it, as well. Or better yet, select the best blurb and incorporate that into your poster.  It’s also not a bad idea to have a dish of candy or some sort of edible “treat” (and if it ties in with your book, all the better!).

  7. Bring business cards and pens.  Another item for the table is a stack of business cards (ideally, they’re also branded with your book cover and include ordering information).  Many of the people you talk with may not buy your book right then and there, but they’ll always take a business card and that may turn into a sale down the road. The pens aren’t to give away (unless you have branded pens with your website on it, which is a good idea); the pens are to sign copies of all the book you’ll be selling, because you’ve followed these seven simple steps to succeed at book fairs. Way to go! 

    brent sampson
    In 2002, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Semi-Finalist Brent Sampson founded Outskirts Press, a custom book publishing solution that provides a cost-effective, fast, and powerful way to help authors publish, distribute, and market their books worldwide while leaving 100% of the rights and 100% of the profits with the author. Outskirts Press was incorporated in Colorado in October, 2003.
    In his capacity as the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Marketing Officer, Brent is an expert in the field of book publishing and book marketing. He is also the author of several books on both subjects, including the bestseller Sell Your Book on Amazon, which debuted at #29 on Amazon’s bestseller list

Is Print & Online Advertising Worthwhile for Self-Publishing Authors?

print advertising printer head

Rumors of print’s “death” are greatly exaggerated.  Where else but with specific magazines can you find such a passionate and voracious audience in such a specific niche? How else but through advertising in such specific magazines can you reach every single reader/subscriber with such a passionate interest in that niche? You can’t!  In fact, one might argue that the “print is dead” argument is actually narrowing the focus of magazines, targeting its readership, and therefore helping advertisers successfully discover the specific people (customers) they seek.

If you’ve written a book about dogs, for example, do you think advertising in a dog lover’s magazine would be a better, more focused use of your marketing dollars than advertising on, say, Facebook?  Dog lovers read dog lover magazines cover to cover; they save them; they re-read them; they reference them. And best of all, they see your ad over and over! Compare that to an advertisement posted on Facebook that scrolls by faster than the NY subway they’re taking to work while on their mobile devices.

And once you combine those advantages with bundled/packaged deals nearly all magazines offer to also bring your advertisement to their online audience, print & online advertising really is a marketing and promotional opportunity worth considering.

But this kind of marketing is not without its challenges.  First you need to do your research…

    1. Conduct a Google search. Look for appropriate magazines based upon matching their target audience with the target audience of your book. Compile a list of the 5-10 best options.
    2. Determine the magazine’s subscribers/circulation/print-run.  These numbers are all different, so understand their differences.  Advertising managers will likely lean toward quoting “circulation” because they use a formula (typically created by their own marketing department) that multiplies the print-run total by a “passed-along” variable (which is often exaggerated and differs from magazine to magazine). But they cannot exaggerate a print-run number, and that allows you to compare apples to apples when looking at your 5-10 options.
    3. Determine the magazine’s website visitors.  Here you want to compare monthly unique visitors.  Time spent on the site is also a good parameter.
    4. Determine the magazine’s audience and its reach (demographics). In other words, how successfully is the magazine reaching its target market and is that audience a good match for your book?
    5. Determine print specifications.  This will affect your cost.  How big will your advertisement be (full-page, half-page, 1/3 column, etc.)? Will it be in black/white or 2-color or full-color? How frequently will it run (you typically receive cost incentives to contract for multiple impressions up-front).  These specifications are also important for when you (or your professional designer) create the ad. Some smaller magazines may offer to design the ad for you in order to “close the sale”, so be sure to ask. Don’t know how to design an ad? Your publisher may have a solution.
    6. Research the magazines editorial calendar.  All magazines have an editorial calendar and most of them share it with potential advertisers. The editorial calendar allows the advertiser to match their ad with the content destined to bring the largest and most appropriate audience to a specific issue. If your book is about a Black Labrador, not only do you want to advertise in the dog lover’s magazine, but you want to advertise in the issue featuring a Black Labrador on the front cover.
    7. Get the best deal possible. Print magazines may not be “dead” but many are struggling. Their niche audience is great for you, yes, but in many cases are not reaching the heights (in terms of circulation numbers) most magazines were used to last century.  That usually means you can get a great deal by packaging an advertising buy with some online impressions on the magazine’s website.

 


brent sampson
In 2002, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Semi-Finalist Brent Sampson founded Outskirts Press, a custom book publishing solution that provides a cost-effective, fast, and powerful way to help authors publish, distribute, and market their books worldwide while leaving 100% of the rights and 100% of the profits with the author. Outskirts Press was incorporated in Colorado in October, 2003.
In his capacity as the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Marketing Officer, Brent is an expert in the field of book publishing and book marketing. He is also the author of several books on both subjects, including the bestseller Sell Your Book on Amazon, which debuted at #29 on Amazon’s bestseller list.

In Your Corner: Ask the Right Questions!

questions ideas

Regardless of whether you are holding out for an old-fashioned publishing contract or taking matters into your own hands with custom self-publishing, here are 5 questions you should know the answers to when you decide to publish:

  1. What is the minimum number of books you have to purchase, and what does
    each book cost you? Many require certain quantities to be purchased at highly marked up prices. That is how they ‘get you.’
  2. Who determines your retail price? How much is it? Here’s another one to look out for. You should have that control. Publishers that don’t allow that are often in the business to make money on your book. You’ve done the work. You should see the rewards.
  3. Who determines how much money you make from each book? Another good test. Your publisher should pay 100% of the difference between the wholesale price and the production price of the book. Most publishers pay anywhere from 5%-50%.
  4. Do you receive marketing support after publication? Free services like the Marketing COACH offered by Outskirts Press is an invaluable collection of proven tactics shared to help improve your book sales.
  5. Do you retain all the rights to your book? You definitely should. Check the contract of wherever you publish.

Whatever questions you ask, the sheer willingness to ask them will make a world of difference to your self-publishing experience. Those who don’t ask questions end up trapped in contracts which leave them underserved, or worse, while those who do ask questions are on a constant quest for self-improvement and the improvement of their circumstances and sales. That questing spirit? That’s one of your greatest assets.

Never be afraid to ask the hard questions.

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

Self-Publishing News: 2.26.2018 – Publishing Trends Roundup

February concept. stationery and notebook, business background

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing, specifically regarding publishing trends within the publishing industry, and their implications for all authors!

Our first stop on this week’s tour through the week’s news when it comes to publishing trends is the UK, where The Bookseller‘s distinguished contributor, Gordon Wise, offers up a salient and timely defense of … well … the country’s success! Or rather, the successes of the Association of Authors’ Agents (or AAA, not to be confused with roadside assistance). This organization, which is now more than 100 member institutions strong, provides vital services to these members, not least its ability to raise the profile of publishing at large. Writes Wise, the AAA has become “a named body that the Intellectual Property Office has consulted on various publishing-related matters,” including matters as lofty as Brexit and the goings-on at 10 Downing Street, where the Prime Minister makes his home while in office. But this isn’t just a celebration of hard-won successes already in hand; it’s a rallying cry for industry professionals in a country riven and likely to continue being riven by deep political and cultural conflicts–many of which have the potential to impact all creative industries. A worthy read!

Next we move to Australia, where the BooksAndPublishing.com.au website has recently posted a report on the findings of a Macquarie University study into innovation within the Australian publishing industry. The full article is restricted to subscribers, which many of you may already be. If not, you’ll have to be content with the highly suggestive hints delivered in the first paragraph, or you can sift through the research summary published on the Macquarie University website (go to: https://www.mq.edu.au/newsroom/2018/02/08/australian-book-publishers-lift-their-game-to-be-more-competitive-but-some-are-faring-better-than-others-new-study/ for more)! The general consensus seems to be: yes, everything’s not perfectly peachy, but Australian authors and publishers are finding a way, and one of the contributing factors to their adaptability is the rise of self-publishing!

Last but not least, we go to Gillian Tett of the Financial Times, who recently published an article digging into that very same rise of self-publishing, only from the perspective of a mother to young writers–writers who are taking full advantage of the many self-publishing options open to them, including Wattpad and others. This article, which reads more like a journey of self-discovery than it does an exposé or a crunching of the numbers, provides a valuable insight not often to be found in reflections on self-publishing: what it’s like to come at the industry from the outside, and from a place of personal connection to very young writers, writers who are completely untethered from traditional publishing’s stifling expectations and even the first wave of self-publishing companies’ insistence on following the form as closely as possible. A fascinating aspect of this transition to the brave new world of second- or third- or fourth-wave self-publishing is that it’s firmly rooted in the social–not just social media, but the social motivation, a desire to write for others and place one’s work within the larger ongoing conversations of one’s peers. It’s an insightful look, and well worth reading the full article!


spa-news

As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry.This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog every Monday to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

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In Your Corner: Should You Self Publish a Large Print Format?

seniors large print type

It’s no secret that writing a book is hard. That is why most authors publish multiple formats of each book they write. Why only publish one format when the same words can be used to publish many different formats?

As the average lifespan increases, the overall population is aging and that makes it a perfect time for LARGE PRINT editions. A large print edition of your book is exactly that — the same words, just formatted at a larger print size (usually 14-16 point font) to make it easier to read for seniors.

Imagine opening up a whole new marketing opportunity for your self-published book. If your current book is already successful, publishing a large print edition may add another great revenue stream. And if your book isn’t performing so great, a new edition may give it the shot in the arm it needs to find a new market, and re-attract interest in the original edition, as well.

Seniors are a huge market with a voracious need for books (plus disposable income). They are their own niche market, and yet, a niche market that is general enough to seek cookbooks as well as poetry as well as general non-fiction, and fiction. If you’ve been having trouble finding a niche for your book, seniors may be the place to look (and if you haven’t had any trouble, that’s even more reason to add seniors to the list!).

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

How to Make a Book Club Kit as a Self-Publishing Author

How would you like to sell 10-15 books at a time, rather than just one? You would?! Well, then keep reading, because Book Club Kits are one of the best-kept secrets of savvy book marketers.

book club

What is a book club kit, you ask?  We’re glad you asked! A book club kit is a bunch of your books and some other materials all packaged together in either a canvas bag or a storing box (or something even more fun and creative).  The most obvious customers for book club kits are book clubs, but the less obvious (and more fruitful) customers for your book club kit will be libraries.  Rarely do book clubs purchase books anymore, since that requires buying 10-15 copies of a single book.  Book clubs usually rely on libraries.  But even finding 10-15 copies of the same book across multiple libraries is challenging, which is why many libraries stock book club kits to loan out to local book clubs.  Rather than loaning out 10-15 copies of a book, they loan out one book club kit.  Who sells book club kits to libraries?  Authors!  

And that’s where you come in. So let’s get started.

  1. Decide how many copies of your book you are going to include

The best thing about making and then selling book club kits is you get to sell multiple copies of your book at once.  But don’t get overzealous.  If you cram too many copies of your book into your kit, the kit sales price may be too high for some libraries, and the kit itself may be too heavy.  Most book club kits range from 8-15 copies, and the number often depends upon the size of the community being served by the library.  So how do you decide how many copies to put into your kit? You ask!  Visit your local library and ask to browse their book club kits.  See how many books are in other kits. Ask the librarian which kits are the most popular.  Ask the librarian how many copies he/she would recommend, or what their budget is for purchasing kits.  All this information will help you decide how many copies to include in your kit.  Remember, your kit doesn’t have to be the same size for every library. You may have one kit comprised of five books for a smaller neighborhood library and another kit comprised of 15 books for a large metropolitan library.  

  1. Decide how you are going to package your book club kit

The number of copies you decide to include may determine how you are going to bundle your kit, since a canvas bag doesn’t carry as many copies of a 400-page hardback as a 28” x 18” plastic storing bin. On the other hand, a customized canvas bag (more on that in a second) makes a better first impression than a big bulky bin. Although if you opt for the bin (available in different quantities for different prices on Amazon), be sure to at least create custom stickers to put on the outside of the bin identifying yourself and your book.

  1. Customize your bag or bin

If you opt for a canvas bag, you can customize it by printing either your book cover or your author photo on the outside of the bag, along with its title. You may even want to add “Book Club Kit” onto the side of the bag, too.  How do you create custom canvas bags?  Through websites like Zazzle or CaféPress.  They’re a little more expensive if you do single-units, but they represent the most economic way to start until you grow confident enough to buy larger quantities, at which point you can go to a local printer for a better deal.

If you opt for a plastic storage bin, customize a sticker to put on the outside of the bin (using the same print-on-demand sites mentioned above).  The title of your bin is NOT the title of your book.  The title of the bin (or bag) is BOOK CLUB KIT.  The subtitle is your book title, and your author name.

  1. Create your “table of contents”

The similarities between a book and a book club kit just keep going and going, don’t they? Not only have you titled your kit BOOK CLUB KIT but now you get to create a Table of Contents… and in this case, it literally is a listing of all the contents of your kit.  You can get fancy and make this single piece of paper colorful, or artistic, or even laminated, but the ultimate purpose is to specifically mention every component of your kit, including the quantity of each component (especially important in regard to the number of copies of your book).  This is how the librarian will ensure kit has been returned without any missing “pieces” after each club borrows it.

  1. Include your author photo and author biography

Book clubs discuss books, sure, but they also discuss authors, so be sure to include your author photograph (8.5×11 on glossy paper, if possible), and your author biography.  These are typically elements you’ve already created for your book’s publication, so it’s usually a simple matter of reprinting them for the purposes of your kit.  It’s not necessary to print more than one copy of these elements, even if your kit contains 10-15 books.  The book club leader or administrator will hold onto the rest of the elements of your kit, including your photo and biography, for display and/or discussion during their actual meetings.  You may even want to include more comprehensive and personal information about you and what motivated you to write the book. After all, these are the elements of a book club kit that makes it valuable for book clubs.

  1. Include discussion topics

Most book club kits suggest discussion topics for the leader or moderator of the club as a means for spurring conversation about your book once everyone has read it.  One of the most magical things about being a published author is being the creator of your particular “world” in fiction, or the expert voice over your particular subject in non-fiction.  Members join book clubs for exactly this insight, so be sure your book club kit delivers.  Ask questions about your main characters. Offer alternative endings your considered.  Mention particularly difficult choices you, as the author, had to make when writing your book.  Summarize the choices you made and why. Ask the book club members what they think about your choices.  These discussion topics should “match” your author biography page in the kit, so if you laminated your author bio, laminate your discussion topics, too.  Every element of your kit should look professional and branded.  Many authors include all the separate pieces of paper in a branded or customized folder, to keep them pristine while rattling around in your kit surrounded by heavy books.

  1. Go social

Book club members also join book clubs to learn about new writers and to experience new books.  Even if they just borrowed your book from the book club kit for the purposes of their meeting, that doesn’t mean they won’t buy your book after-the-fact.  Be sure to include one piece of vital information in every kit: Purchase information and, if you’re open to discussing your book personally with readers, author contact information. Even if you shy away from one-on-one contact, you can suggest to members of the book clubs that you welcome honest reviews on Amazon and you often respond to individual reviewers in the “Comments” section.  The possibility that their review could spark a reply from the author may provide enough incentive for your book club readers to compose reviews on Amazon and/or Barnes & Noble (which is always a good thing).  If you are the more extroverted type of author, you can even suggest the coordination of a skype or facetime discussion, or offer your time to “appear” on a book club’s blog as a special guest.  

  1. Put it all together

Once you have all the components of your kit, bundle them all together in your canvas bag or plastic bin.  Then, find your customers.  You can do a search for libraries on Google.  Price your kit so that it’s a good deal for the library and also profitable for you (the books will typically be priced at the wholesale, rather than retail price).   Congratulations! Your book is now part of the book club circuit!


brent sampson
In 2002, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Semi-Finalist Brent Sampson founded Outskirts Press, a custom book publishing solution that provides a cost-effective, fast, and powerful way to help authors publish, distribute, and market their books worldwide while leaving 100% of the rights and 100% of the profits with the author. Outskirts Press was incorporated in Colorado in October, 2003.
In his capacity as the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Marketing Officer, Brent is an expert in the field of book publishing and book marketing. He is also the author of several books on both subjects, including the bestseller Sell Your Book on Amazon, which debuted at #29 on Amazon’s bestseller list.