Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Hurricane Katrina's Effect on Booksellers & Publishers

I was just reading an email note from Pat Sabiston, executive director of the Publishers Association of the South. While I'd been hearing a few notes about Katrina, I hadn't begun to understand the impact it was having.

Rob Schauffler of Forest Sales & Distributing was still in the New Orleans area with a car that would not start. He and his wife were going to hide out in their attic from the armed gangs roaming the area. That's scary.

Several bookstores will have no inventory other than soaked and muddy volumes.

It could take two years or more for New Orleans to recover from the devastation of the flood. A million people are refugees. Many may no longer have houses they can come home to. Basic services will takes months or more to restore.

If you'd like to donate, contribute to your local or national Red Cross (800-HELP-NOW) or Salvation Army (800-SAL-ARMY). They can pass the money and help on to those who need it.

A number of publishers and other members of the publishing community have offered use of their offices or second homes to Southeast publishers who need a temporary place to operate their business. National Book Network has also offered to handle distribution or fulfillment for companies that need help.

If you'd like to offer any additional help, contact Pat Sabiston via email at executive@pubsouth.org.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

How to Know If a Book Is Good

Sometimes when you get so many books to read, look at, review, or provide testimonials for, you might have to follow the simple method used by the great Polish anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski to decide which books are worthy of your attention.

Because he did not have time to read every new book in his field, Malinowski would take each new book he received, open it immediately to the index, and check to see if his name was cited there (and how often). The more Malinowski, the more compelling the book would be. No Malinowski, and he doubted whether the subject of the book was anthropology at all.

I have used this same method when I receive new books on publishing, self-publishing, and book marketing. If my name is not cited in these books--and often, they can't be worth much. If my 1001 Ways to Market Your Books is not mentioned, they are hardly worth the effort to crack the spine. My thinking is very simple: If they do not cite me or my book, they do not know much about the field of publishing and marketing.

You should use the same criteria when reviewing books in your own special field. If they don't cite you, ask them why. And they better have a good reason.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

America's Most Literate Cities

Jack Miller, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, has conducted a study of America's Most Literate Cities for 2003 and 2004 (rated according to five criteria: education, publications, newspapers, libraries, and booksellers). The top two cities for both years have been Minneapolis, Minnesota and Seattle, Washington.

3. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
4. Madison, Wisconsin
5. Cincinnati, Ohio
6. Washington, DC
7. Denver, Colorado
8. Boston, Massachusetts
9. Portland, Oregon
10. San Francisco, California

Below are the top 10 cities for bookstores:

1. San Francisco, California
2. Cincinnati, Ohio
3. Seattle, Washington
4. Madison, Wisconsin
5. Atlanta, Georgia
5. Minneapolis, Minnesota
7. Louisville, Kentucky
7. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
7. St. Louis, Missouri
10. Scottsdale, Arizona

Given this information, you'll have some idea which cities are most open to new authors and new publishers. If you live in any of these cities, you have a much greater opportunity to promote your books than authors who live in small towns like Fairfield, Iowa. Go for it!

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Display at the Southeast Booksellers Association

Florida Publishers Association is offering a display of books, catalogs and other products at the September 17-18 Southeast Booksellers Association (SEBA) Trade show in Winston-Salem, NC. To receive a PDF of display details, simply email Betsy Wright-Lampe at FPAbooks@aol.com and ask for a reply with the SEBA PDF.

For those who are not interested in displaying but would like author/title information disseminated at the show, FPA is offering listings in its Southeast Authors List, a hardcopy flyer that will be both handed out and placed in attendee packets at SEBA. It includes the author’s name, location, discussion topics, most current book title/ISBN, geographic availability, date availability, and contact details. Authors are listed alphabetically by last name. Cost for a listing is only $10. For information on how to submit a listing, email Betsy Wright-Lampe at FPAbooks@aol.com for the Southeast Authors List PDF.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Express Yourself Authors Conference

The Express Yourself…™ Authors’ Conference, September 30 – October 2, 2005, at the Sheraton Park Ridge in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, is "unlike any other conference because our entire focus is on helping authors to become more successful in selling their books." At this annual event writers, authors, presenters, editors, agents, and leading publishing experts – including Penny Sansevieri, Dan Poynter, John Kremer, Brian Jud, and Melanie Rigney – share ideas and exchange information throughout the weekend in seminar presentations, panel discussions, shared meals, and one-on-one consultations. Registration is $639.00, including lodging and all meals. For complete information, visit: http://www.authorsconference.com.

Friday, August 19, 2005

First Book Summit: Coming in September

The first Book Summit will be held on September 29, 2005, at the Sheraton Park Ridge, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. The summit brings together industry visionaries for a round table discussion about the future of publishing as influenced by the dynamics of changing roles. Author-originated publishing is empowering authors with more control over their books. Printers are becoming distributors. Publishers are becoming retailers. Bookstores are becoming publishers. Niche retailers are becoming booksellers. The market is increasing with more titles being published but generating less revenue. The expanding roles have the ability to put fair profits back into publishing. The registration fee for an industry seat is $395. Publishing professionals are welcome in the gallery of this historic event for a $95 advance registration or $125 at the door. More info: http://www.booksummit.com.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Bestseller Ghost Writer for Hire

Here's a new service I'm now offering: Helping potential authors to write book proposals for best-selling books. Lots of additional services. All detailed at my new web site: BestsellerGhostWriter.com.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Book Promotion Web Site for Authors

Reader's Suggested Web Site: "A service that you should add to your site that has worked very well for me is http://www.TheAuthorConnection.com -- This site provides a network of sites that charge a resonable bundled fee with 100% money back if they don't deliver. I've had 4 authors use them and all 4 were very, very happy. I thing AC should charge more for what they offer but in talking with one of the owners they said it's against what they are about. They don't gouge. You should really push this company."

Well, so here I do. Check them out. It seems like a reasonable program.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Biology of Belief

Excerpted from the Southern Review of Books, a monthly ezine edited by Lee Xavier and published by Anvil Publishers.
Wonder if Amazon.com can be of any use to small publishers? Wonder no more. Take the case of cellular biologist Bruce Lipton, whose story was told recently by Elizabeth Gillespie of the Associated Press. One by one, the big houses in New York looked at the manuscript for his Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter and Miracles, but eventually said no. “I wasted a whole year with them,” Lipton told her. Then he signed on with an independent press that relies heavily on Amazon.com. Since then, he and his publisher say, more than 42,000 copies have sold in six months...
Today, when I checked, the book was rated at #83 on Amazon.com -- and without an Amazon.com bestseller campaign of any kind.

If you'd like your story featured in the Southern Review of Books, email the editor-in-chief Lee Xavier at lxavier@anvilpub.com.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Speak Up to Sell Books

Wall Street Journal recently contrasted two new fiction releases: The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova and The Traveler by John Twelve Hawks.

According to the Journal, the reasons for the great success of The Historian vs. the more modest success of The Traveler were, as follows:
  • Kostova's excellence at public speaking (Twelve Hawks, on the other hand, refused to be interviewed or tour)

  • Her January prepublication tour

  • Her publication tour

  • Her ability to connect with booksellers, especially independents

  • The fact that a tale about vampires is generally more appealing than a science fiction novel.
If you get out and speak — and make friends by creating relationships — then you will be successful as a novelist. Anything less simply won't create the magic word-of-mouth for your novel.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Motivational Speakers and Authors

Marketing with Fran:
Motivational Speakers and Authors – The Secret to Their Success

“Whatever your mind can conceive and believe it can achieve.” -- Napoleon Hill (1883-1970)

“You become what you think about.” -- Earl Nightingale (1921-1989)

“Fear of failure becomes fear of success for those who never try anything new.” -- Wayne Dyer

“You can have everything in life that you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” -- Zig Ziglar

The four most prominent motivational speaker-authors share five similarities that help account for their success:

(1) Childhoods laden with hardships
(2) Insatiable curiosity about human potential
(3) Desire to help others
(4) Backgrounds in careers that required speaking and outgoing personalities, i.e, sales, broadcasting or journalism.
(5) Persistence, persistence

Napoleon Hill was born into poverty in rural Virginia and his mother died when he was 10. Earl Nightingale also grew up poor, in Long Beach, California during the Depression, and his father left the family when he was 12. Wayne Dyer spent the first decade of his life in foster homes and orphanages. Zig Ziglar was born in rural Alabama during the Depression and his father died when he was still a boy.

From an early age, Napoleon Hill tried to find the answer to how people from meager backgrounds with no discernible advantages manage to reach tremendous heights in life. Striving to overcome a handicap of birth of ignorance and superstition, he studied the greats–Emerson, Paine, Edison, Darwin, Lincoln, Ford, Carnegie and his namesake, Napoleon–and tried to reshape his own character by emulating them. As a mountain reporter working his way through law school, Hill had an assignment to write a series of success stories of famous men and interviewed Andrew Carnegie. The steel magnate then commissioned the young reporter to interview more than 500 millionaires to find a success formula that could be used by the average person. It took Hill over 20 years to produce his ground-breaking book, Think and Grow Rich, in 1937.

In the book, Hill tells a story that illustrates his philosophy that “whatever your mind can conceive and believe it can achieve.” A man named Barnes was bent on partnering with Thomas Edison. One day Barnes showed up at Edison's door and Edison thought he looked like a tramp. But impressed with the determination on his face, Edison offered Barnes a job in his office at a nominal wage. It was not exactly the golden horseshoe, but when the opportunity did present itself, it turned out differently than Barnes expected. Edison had invented a dictating machine that left his salesmen unenthused. Barnes knew he could sell it so Edison gave him a contract to market the machine all over the nation. Barnes made a pile of money and proved that he could really “think and grow rich.”

Like his idol, Napoleon Hill, Earl Nightingale was hungry for knowledge. As a young boy he would frequent the Long Beach Public Library in California, searching for the answer to a question similar to Hills’s: “How can a person, starting from scratch, who has no particular advantage in the world, reach the goals that he feels are important to him, and, by so doing, make a major contribution to others?”

As a member of the Marine Corps, Nightingale volunteered to work at a local radio station as an announcer. Years later, he would become host of his own daily commentary program and for three decades was heard on more than 1,000 radio stations across the U.S., Canada, and 10 foreign countries. When he was 29, he read Think and Grow Rich and its message, “We become what we think about,” would become his credo. As owner of an insurance company, Nightingale spent time motivating his sales force to greater accomplishments. His sales manager begged him to put his inspirational words on record. The result, entitled The Strangest Secret, reveals the answer to the question that had inspired him as a youth. The recording was also the first spoken word message to win a Gold Record by selling over a million copies.

Zig Ziglar grew up with insecurities and small expectations. As a salesman, he had little confidence until a sales exec told him that if he would only recognize his ability he’d become a great one. Ziglar went on to become a star salesman and many of his books focus on improving the self-esteem of sales people around the world.

Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, author of 20 self-help books, is the only author in the self-improvement section of Barnes & Noble on 82nd Street and Broadway, to have a shelf embossed with his name. Affectionately known by fans as the father of motivation, Dyer began his career as an educator and eventually earned a doctorate in counseling psychotherapy.

He too borrowed from Napoleon Hill, especially the philosophy that we become what we think about. One principle he lives by is to focus on what you want and refuse to let anyone stand your way. He uses the example of the Wright Brothers. “I don’t think Orville and Wilbur said to each other, 'This thing is heavier than air, so how will it get off the ground?'”

How can we emulate these four masters of self-improvement? While we have no control over our birthright, we can expand our curiosity, help others to achieve their dreams, and always keep our eye on the ball.

Francine Silverman is editor/publisher of Book Promotion Newsletter, a bi-weekly ezine for authors of all genres, and author of Book Marketing from A-Z (Infinity Publishing 2005), a compilation of the best marketing strategies of 325 authors from all over the English-speaking world. Visit Book Promotion Newsletter and click “Ask the Experts” for answers to your book marketing questions.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Write a Book Now

I couldn't pass up this deal. Steve Manning wants to give me double my normal referral fee if anyone buys his Write a Book Fast program in the next eight days. So here's his program description:

Have you ever wanted to write a book, fiction or non-fiction, but you just couldn’t get it started, or didn’t have the time, or couldn’t think of a plot or had writer’s block, or didn’t think you had anything important to say, or didn’t think you had the writing talent, or had something else that was stopping you?

Well, I’ve just discovered a web site that is specially designed to help you write your book faster than you ever thought possible. In fact, there’s information here that will lead you to write your book in 14 days!!

Now, I know that seems hard to believe, but when Mark Victor Hansen (co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul and dozens of other books) saw the information, he not only said it was some of the best stuff he’d ever used [other than, of course, my 1001 Ways], he even asked the owner of the website to speak at his next seminar! And Mark is using this information to crank out still more books!

This stuff is so powerful that absolute novices are using these techniques to write books faster than they ever thought possible. There’s even a free email course that gets you started FAST! So if writing a book has always been your goal, your dream, your desire, get yourself over to Write a Book Now.

Yup, that's referral link. But the program really will help you get out of a funk if you are having trouble starting a new book or finishing the great American novel. Enjoy.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Celebrate POD and E-Books This Month

"Q. What is the quality of a print-on-demand book? A. The quality is identical to what you would purchase in a book store."

I saw this statement on a print-on-demand web site recently. Please note that current technology does not allow a POD book to be identical in quality to a normally printed book you would purchase in a bookstore. Most experienced readers can tell a POD book from an offset printed book just by the resolution; for those of us with poorer eyesight, we can tell the difference by looking through a magnifying glass.

POD books are still printed with dot technology. Such technology cannot equal offset printing. The quality is getting closer and closer every day, but it is not there yet.

Now, for most practical purposes, a POD book will stand up next to an offset printed book pretty well. Most naive consumers won't be able to tell the difference. And POD books are books in most every other way.

POD books certainly have their place in this world, especially for first books from unknown authors, family memoirs, reprints, limited edition books, books that need to be updated often, and other books with a limited market. At some point in the sales cycle of a book, though, if it is selling, you need to switch to offset printing for better prices, finer detail, your selection of quality paper, and sometimes better binding.

I've used POD publishing to print my book, The Self-Publishing Hall of Fame, because I'm always adding new people to it. I also, of course, make it available as an e-book, which is always more up-to-date because it's my working file while the POD book is updated only once or twice a year.

I love POD publishers and authors. I have nothing against either. They serve a great purpose. Plus they have certainly expanded the market for my book, 1001 Ways to Market Your Books. I sell many copies to POD publishers and printers. Plus I speak at several conferences sponsored by POD publishers.

The one thing POD publishers have done well is to make it possible for so many new authors to get a book published. To open the doors to the publishing world to these new authors. It's now possible to get a book published for very little upfront cost. Offset printing, because you need to buy in quantity, often sets the bar too high for entry into the world of self-publishing.

That's why I heartily support POD publishers and authors. They are changing the world of publishing, one book at a time. I have written an article on why bookstores should support POD books and authors. Check it out here on my web site: http://www.bookmarket.com/tipblog2.html.

I think it's appropriate to celebrate POD and e-books during August, especially since it's National Publish Your E-Book Month!

If you'd like to locate some great POD and e-book publishers and providers, check out http://www.bookmarket.com/ondemand.html.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

SPAN Marketing Conference

I hope you can be with me, Rick Frishman, Marilyn Ross, Penny Sansevieri, and many other good people when we speak at the upcoming SPAN Marketing Conference and Trade Show, October 21-23, in Denver, Colorado. To learn more about the conference go to http://www.spannet.org.

Here's part of their promotional brochure on the conference:

Publishing is a journey and all publishers want theirs to be perfect. Publishers have an opportunity to improve their chances for a smooth trip by attending SPAN’s 10th Annual Marketing Conference and Trade Show. Held at the Denver Marriott South, October 21-23, publishers will learn how to sell more books, make greater profits, and increase their professional standing.

Please come if you can. I'd love to meet you there.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Get Paid to Speak on College Campuses

When I was at the National Speakers Association meeting in early July, I discovered that a friend of mine was presenting a College Speaking Success Book Camp.

Now, I've always known that you could make a lot of money speaking on college campuses, but I never really knew how to do it. But James Malinchak, my friend, has been doing it for years. He calls himself the King of the College Speaking Market.

Well, his next Book Camp is coming up in September. If you've ever desired to speak on college campuses and get paid for it, now is your chance to learn from someone who has been doing it a long time.

If you want to find out more, read his free report on “10 Deadly Speaker Marketing Mistakes to Avoid” now at College Speaking Market.

You can get the free report by clicking the link above -- and you can find out more about his next Boot Camp. It's a great program if you want to break into the college speaking market.

Since a few people have been clamoring for me to note when I get paid referral fees for recommending programs that I like anyway, please note that when you click on the link above, I will get paid a referral fee if you end up buying anything.

Again, please note, I like this program. The basic informational web site is at College Speaking Success. This is not a referral link.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Unethical Trick or Useful Promotion?



John H. Johnson, publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines, died yesterday at the age of 87.

The following two paragraphs are excerpted from his listing in the Self-Publishing Hall of Fame.

At the age of 24 in 1942, he self-published Negro Digest, using a $500 loan secured by his mother's furniture. In 1945, he launched Ebony magazine with a press run of 25,000 copies. From this meager beginning, he built up a billion-dollar publishing and cosmetics empire. In 1982, he became the first African-American to be featured on Forbes magazine’s list of the 400 richest Americans.

To encourage a distributor to pick up Negro Digest, he asked co-workers to ask for the magazine at newsstands around Chicago. His friends bought most of the copies at these newsstands to convince the dealers that the magazine was in demand. In turn, Johnson bought the copies from his friends and resold the copies they had bought. He continued to use this tactic to open up the markets in New York, Detroit, and Philadelphia as well. Within a year, Negro Digest was selling 50,000 copies a month.

Was he unethical in what he did? Some would say so. But it worked. It made an incredible difference in the life of African-Americans at a time when they couldn't play major league baseball or vote in many states.

But let's look a little closer at the ethics of what he did:

First, he asked his co-workers to ask for the magazine at newsstands. Was this unethical? You could argue it was if the co-workers had no intention to buy the magazine. Perhaps, in the beginning, the co-workers had no such intention. But, chances are, that within a few months they were regular buyers and readers of the Negro Digest. So, ethical or unethical? It really is hard to decide since we have no way to judge his friends' intentions. That the ploy worked was significant in allowing Johnson Publishing to weather the hard times of a start-up with limited resources.

As book authors, we often do something similar when we ask family and friends to ask for the book at bookstores or libraries. Many of us have done that at some time in our careers. Are we being unethical in making such requests? On a rigid scale of ethics, we are being unethical (no question about it) since our family and friends probably have little intention to buy our book at a bookstore or even check it out at a library. Does that make us bad people? No. Do we need an ethical check-up? Probably yes. And, yet, I might still recommend this ploy to some authors. I have in the past, so I am likely to do so again.

Second, Johnson bought back the copies of Negro Digest his friends had bought at the newsstands. And then he resold those copies. Was he unethical in buying back those copies? Yes. It would be hard to argue otherwise, if you subscribe to a strict ethical viewpoint. Now, he resold the copies -- so someone, in the end, actually paid for the copies. So, if you wanted to walk on a slippery ethical slope, you could argue that the copies were bought by readers who actually wanted the magazine. By looking at this larger picture, you could then argue that Johnson acted ethically. Personally, I like to look at this larger picture.

But, then, on the other hand, I would never recommend to authors that they buy back copies of their books from friends who bought them at bookstores. No matter the reason. Whether to get distribution, to build momentum for a bestseller list, or to make bookstores happy. I do see such moves as being unethical. Now, if their friends and family buy the books for themselves, then there is no ethical question. The sales were truly legitimate, even if coaxed or pressured by the author.

Since the many comments on the ethics of the Amazon bestseller campaign last week on this blog, I've been more attuned to ethical questions. It could be easily argued that John Johnson acted unethically. But, somehow, I can't accuse him of that. I don't know quite why. Perhaps it was his underdog status at the time. Perhaps it was because it might have been the only way he could have launched the magazine during those days.

Gosh, I have always loved Robin Hood as well. But he did steal. He did break a major commandment. Can we excuse his action because he gave the money to the poor? When you start asking these questions, you begin to understand why people study ethics in college. And why many students get only more confused as they debate the issues. Actions in a limited context can easily look unethical by anyone's standards. Stealing is bad. It is unethical. It is wrong. So when is it right? Should Robin Hood be a hero?

How about our American patriots? They stood behind trees to shoot and kill the British redcoats. Was that fair? Was that ethical? The British expected men to come out and fight on a fair battlefield. The colonists valued their lives, so they shot the British while hiding behind trees, boulders, and other hiding places. Were the colonists ethical? If yes, then are the terrorist bombers also ethical? If the colonists were unethical, then is our country founded on bad seed?

You can ask all sorts of such confusing questions when discussing ethics. It is easy to accuse another of unethical behavior. It is much harder to hold yourself to such standards when acting in real life. Thus, is the standard Amazon bestseller campaign unethical? I don't think so. BUT, its results can definitely be used in an unethical manner. Personally I think it's wrong to say your book is a bestseller just because it was #1 at Amazon for a few hours. But I do think it's ethical to say it was an Amazon.com bestseller.

Now, I've probably opened up the whole can of worms again. If you'd like to comment on this post, anonymously or as a real person, please hold comments to discussing whether or not John Johnson acted ethically. I'd really like to know what you think.

Personally, looking at the larger picture, I believe he acted ethically. But on a black and white scale of ethics, his actions are definitely in the gray area. I don't think they merit being placed on one extreme or the other.

I believe most of our actions fall in the same gray area. I doubt very many of us act in a black or white manner when it comes to ethics. Our actions are rarely purely good or purely evil. Our goal should be to act ethically at all times. The reality is that we often miss the mark. But most of us are still good people. I would trust most of you who read this blog with my life. That's my ultimate measure of ethics. Can I trust you with my life?

The Long Tail Phenomenon at Amazon.com

For those of you who would like to get a better look at how Amazon.com works in between the top 100 and the bottom millions, check out the discussion of the long tail at Amazon at http://longtail.typepad.com/ the_long_tail/2005/08/a_methodology_f.html.

It is a long discussion, some back and forth, with a bunch of technical details and numbers, but it really shows the unpredictability of Amazon.com, especially in the 1,000 to 100,000 range of sales rank.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Book Marketing for Novelists

Reader Question: John, I love your Book Marketing Update newsletter, but can you please do an entire issue specializing in how to market your novels? There are a lot tools that are the same as non-fiction but at the same time it is a totally different ball of wax.

John's Answer: In our BMU print newsletter, we usually don't do an entire issue on just one subject. But this is what we will do: We'll devote a half-page or page in each issue to marketing fiction, novels, and poetry. How's that?

Meanwhile, check out the new section on my other web site just for novelists: http://www.book-marketing-bestsellers.com/novels.htm.

National Publicity Summit

National Publicity Summit: September 28th to October 1st

Attend Steve Harrison's National Publicity Summit in NYC, Sept 28 - Oct 1st and personally meet over 70 top editors and producers from major magazines and TV shows like ABC's The View, MSNBC, Fox News, Live with Regis & Kelly, Newsweek, Alternative Medicine, Time magazine, USA Weekend, and more.

As a result of attending in the past, authors have been appeared on The View, Good Morning America, MSNBC, Fox News Channel and many other top shows. I'll be there in September and you should be too! Only 100 people are allowed to attend and only a few spots are still open.

More info here: National Publicity Summit.

Please note that the link above is an affiliate link, which means that I do make a referral fee if you sign up for this summit. Whether you use my link or not, I have found previous summits to be very useful for people ready to hit the national stage. And I will be at this one, too.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Relationships Are the Key

The National Football League held their initiation for new hall of famers today. One of the statements I most remember from that ceremony was one made by Dan Marino, holder of many NFL quarterback records. "I've accomplished many things," Marino said, "but what I cherish more than any record I hold, fourth-quarter comeback, or any wins I was involved in is the relationships."

What have I been teaching you all along in this blog? Relationships are golden. They are the key. They are how you will be remembered.

Make some new friends this week. Create some golden relationships. Enjoy. And have fun.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

A Lesson in Copywriting

The following is taken from an email I received from Joe Vitale earlier today. I thought it made a great point about the importance of copywriting in making sales. Note how he quietly promotes his own web site in the process of critiquing another. He advocates that you read his web site to see how much better the copy is there. Well, if the copy is as good as he says it is, you might well end up buying whatever he sells on that site.

So his point is to show you how copy sells. But his hope, as well, is that you will buy from his well-written copy? Do you dare read it? You might end up buying or getting an automobile...

Does copy really make a difference on websites? Can't you just make sales with a few words, a good headline, and an order form? Well, let's see....

Brad Yates pushed for the quick release of our audio teleseminar called "Money Beyond Belief." While I felt his quickly done site, well, sucked, I agreed. Result? Few sales. Brad was disappointed.

I advised him to add some endorsements, pictures, and bonuses, and to clean up the copy. He did. I then announced the site again. The result? Eighty-five sales almost instantly. Keep in mind going from almost zero to 85 is good for anyone, whether you're BMW or Brad or me. It's *not* great, but it's better than nothing.

The site still isn't the best, but now there's enough copy there to get the job done. But how could Brad make the site even better? What could he do to really bring in the sales? Here's where the real lesson begins.

I told Brad to compare his site to my site on how to attract a new car. I told him to note the differences. The new car one rakes in the sales. Why?

It's loaded with strong copy, long copy, convincing endorsements, a slew of bonuses, terrific pictures, powerful headlines, several PS's, a clear guarantee, subtle convincers, price comparisons, bold headlines and hypnotic sub-heads -- and much more.

The attract a new car site is probably 100 times better than the money beyond belief site. See for yourself. Look at both of the sites:

money-beyond-belief.
attract-a-new-car.

In fact, print them both out. Study them. Put them side by side. Which do you think is better -- and why?

This is a great education in marketing. And it's yours freeeee. Go for it. -- Dr. Joe Vitale

I get no affiliate income if you buy from either site. I just think that actually looking at both sites side by side will provide you with a superb education on how long copy, well-written copy sells. That's something we all need to learn more than once. Not just you but me as well.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Book Publicity and Having Fun

If you watched the Harry Potter phenomenon pass by, one thing you will have noted is that Scholastic enforced an embargo on all bookstores: None could sell the book until the publication date (July 16th). Anyone who broke this rule would not be able to buy from Scholastic again -- and would not be allowed to sell the next Potter title.

Well, from what I read, only one store inadvertently sold three copies. The three people who bought the books were tracked down and offered an autographed copy of the book in exchange -- with a promise that they would not tell anyone what they had read. The embargo really worked.

Now, why am I writing about this embargo? Because you can play off the idea if you'd like. Here is a suggestion from Martin Foner, publisher of the Publishing Newsletter monthly email:

Note that the secrecy, keeping the books in boxes until a specific date and time, is simply another marketing tactic designed to create more and more hype. It didn’t hurt that a court in Canada had to issue an order to recover a dozen ‘pre-sold’ books. It also didn’t hurt that dozens of websites created huge lists of questions and possible resolutions to the various themes and sub themes of the series.

How can YOU take advantage of this kind of promotion? I have thought about it and have come up with this very much off the wall idea. When it works, send me a note about how you did it and your results:

Choose your title carefully. This will work one time and one time only, so make it a really interesting title, one that will have bestseller potential, or one whose subject would benefit from this odd approach.

Send a package to your reviewer/media/buyer lists with a notice printed on the manila outer envelope:

NEW BOOK FROM ABC PUBLISHERS. DO NOT OPEN THIS PACKAGE UNTIL (SET A DATE AT LEAST 30 DAYS AFTER THEY WOULD RECEIVE IT) OCTOBER 15.
IF YOU OPEN THIS PACKAGE BEFORE THE DATE, A MICROCHIP WILL TURN THE REVIEW COPY INTO A BLANK BOOK.

Of course, no one can resist such a challenge, and every person will simply rip open the envelope. Inside they will find your media materials, press release, and related info, all as normal. When it comes to the book, they will discover a blank covered, blank 32 page book, with a note clipped to the cover stating if they did (accidentally!) open the package prematurely and their book is blank, to call you/email you at…. and you’ll be glad to send them another copy of the book.

You might find this a juvenile way to do business, but it will open your eyes as to how many of your reviewers/media/buyers are actually opening your packages. And THAT is one very important piece of information for future campaigns. Notwithstanding, the buzz and response you’ll get for being creative will exceed the usual attention level your materials have been receiving in the past.

Yes, some people will actually ask you how the book turned into a blank book. Do not give away the secret. Just send them a new book and keep their name on a hot inquire list for the future.


There are two big advantages to trying this experiment once: 1. You might get more attention from reviewers. 2. You will get a better idea how many people open your packages. That's something worth knowing.

Now, before anyone accuses me of cheating and deception, please remember that I am passing along an idea from Martin Foner. If you have problems with this little fun, please email him at mfoner@nplconsulting.org.

I actually believe that you should have fun sometimes with your press releases and test variations, mailing packages, etc. You never know what will get through the gates at various media outlets. So experimentation is a vital part of your publicity arsenal. Have some fun with your publicity. Don't be shy. Ask stupid questions. Do stupid things. You won't know what really works until you try. Stop being so tied up by rules, mine or others. And, believe me, I have lots of rules. But I have fun, too.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Internet Explorer Toolbar Builder

Internet Explorer Toolbar Builder -- http://www.iebar.com

One way to keep visitors coming back to your site is to integrate your site directly into Internet Explorer by giving visitors a custom toolbar. The web site above makes it quick and easy for you to generate a custom IE toolbar with all the bells and whistles, including your branded images, multiple search boxes, password boxes, drop down menus, and much more. The software to design, license, upload, and track your custom toolbar downloads runs $129.99. A no-cost trial is also available at the site.

If you've ever wanted to offer a custom IE toolbar, this web site seems to offer exactly what you want -- at a low cost and fast (they say you can create one in as little as 10 minutes).

I learned about this web site in Larry Chase's Web Digest for Marketers ezine. You can subscribe to this wonderful ezine by going to http://www.wdfm.com.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

1001 Ways to Market Your Books

"I used your book, 1001 Ways to Market Your Books, in 1998 here in Australia and created a #1 national non-fiction bestseller -- all at the tender age of 22 and unemployed!" -- Bret Kelly

I just received this nice email note today and it reminded me that I should post on this blog that the 5th edition of 1001 Ways to Market Your Books is now officially out of print. The new 6th edition will come out in November.

I have a few copies of the book in house yet that will be used to fulfill existing orders, but after those are gone tomorrow, I won't have any copies to sell. Neither will Amazon.com or my distributor NBN.

Now all I have to do is finish writing the 6th edition.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Book World Services

Question: Is there a specific reason that Book World Services in Sarasota, Florida was not included in your list of Top Independent Book Distributors?

They are listed by Ingram as a major distibutor. I am considering contacting them, but wanted to make sure that you do not have negative information about them that resulted in their exclusion from the list. Please advise.

John's Answer: Yes, there is a reason I do not list them. They have never liked my listing of them and continually pestered me to change it to their liking. Eventually they threatened to sue if I did not change it. Since I did not want to change the truth, I deleted any reference to them. Why bother giving publicity to a company that only pesters you?

By the way, my listing simply said that they have way to many ups and downs for me to recommend them as a distributor.
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