Allan Mayer’s Weblog

Archive for January 2009

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I wish you could know Jennifer Abel, says Carolyn Ferrante at newbornbooks.  At first introduction you would see a quiet, unassuming woman. Soon, you would be charmed by her lush English accent and soft-spoken way.   

Well I did know Jennifer Abel, or Jenny Short, as she was then. We were students at Chester College about… well, some years ago now. I tracked Jenny down recently and found that she looks no different and, it would seem, is as engaging as ever. Jenny is also a self-published author, and has agreed to share some of her marketing experience…

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 Jennifer Abel

  

Successful marketing originates the moment an author is inspired to create, carrying his work almost involuntarily over myriad struggles to become an expression in words or images. It is a beautiful gift, this compulsive desire to produce, knowing that our message is somehow mandatory – that the world needs our perspective or story! And it is this audacious passion that will birth resolve in us to pursue what might become thankless years of marketing. Yes, for there is, realistically, no easy way through marketing for most of us! Besides enthralled commitment to our task, any marketing strategy must equally be based on our confidence that we have guarded the integrity of the published word through precise editing, arriving at a polished end product. Our work has to be the best it can be if we are to be authentic and maintain self-directed momentum for the process. If we have the fervor of these convictions, we may launch a disciplined business plan and push through our writing adventure, embracing the rewards and challenges, step by intentional step.

 

Thankfully, we live at a pivotal point in the publishing industry. The marketplace is more accessible than ever before, through necessity. Thousands of people are writing books today and the bottleneck of previous years in traditional publishing houses has caused the entrepreneur spirit to rise up and challenge! I steered through mazes of agents receiving nods of approval but not able to hit the all-important and very narrow niche that would grab a manuscript sale. So, with writer’s compulsion and in order not to waste years, I opened my own publishing house by buying a small number of ISBNs. For independent spirits or control freaks, this is our wonderful modern alternative! But with this move, I also consciously entered a lower key realm of marketing. Therefore, I am sharing a smaller scale approach here. Of course, it can be challenging for artists, who may not be predominantly business minded, to run their whole show, but unless one has floating cash readily available, there’s no real need to pay expensive consulting fees. There is a wealth of free information online and in libraries as we search for it. We need to escape the idea that if we don’t make a big splash with our work within the first two months, we have not or cannot succeed. There is not the same huge rush for independent authors to make a mark as for big-time marketing firms with narrow deadlines and limited shelf space – we have time on our side as the smaller people, we have the personal touch, and our walk is only limited by the degree of our resourcefulness over years. Yes, we want to take every opportunity, and success is measured in quantity and publicity, but the quality impact and effect of a work on each life is perhaps more important in the long run.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

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Here are several practical steps I took to gain exposure for my books. After buying my ISBN’s, I applied to become a business and purchased a domain name and website (www.newbornbooks.com). There is credibility in a professional look and the Internet is also our lead into global networking. Furthermore, anything sold automatically needs to be reported for sales and tax. But a business doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive – if a private site is not an affordable option and if side advertising isn’t too much of an issue, there are free pages available for the starting up phase. Leave your URL everywhere, on emails and on networking sites, anywhere that isn’t spamming! Print business cards through one of the online outlets. In the States, Vista Print has good prices and great sales. Create an image or idea on your site to wrap around your books to enhance their reach, thus creating your niche or identity. For example, I interview inspiring people, and post international ministry profiles on my website whose work I actively support. Those who interview also help to spread the word to their colleagues and that engenders further interest. Usually, these people will put an image of your work on their own site – this is meaningful collaboration. Likewise, writing articles for other websites is another way for exposure. Keep your tone honest and accurate – there’s nothing worse than a shallow sales pitch. Appreciate each opportunity and learn from it. Other ideas on my site include running a small poll, keeping content and gadgets interesting, and I have sent out monthly and annual newsletters to buyers and friends. I have also linked a blog to my site, have a guest book for feedback, and I have excerpts of my books available – and lots of photos: People love images! Continuously gage what is working for you and what can be dropped. Either sell your book from your website through a portal like Paypal, or link into amazon.com. It is nice having the shipping and handling taken care of by another company. In the past year, Amazon has opened a brilliant sister-site called Create Space (createspace.com) expressly for independent authors. For free, authors may upload their polished .PDF and cover, and Amazon will advertise a listing with print-on-demand available through their normal site, putting each book on a level with any other book on the market. It is not the most lucrative sales point but the potential exposure is valuable.

 

By far the most effective ways to sales and profit for me have been through an established community of support and through speaking engagements. I spoke very briefly at my church to people who had known I was writing, and who had been waiting for publication day with me. Friends were delighted that I autographed their copies, and I had no overhead fees there. Depending on the size of congregation, this can make an excellent foundation. This model can be transferred to any venue where you relate with a group. Print up as many books as needed to obtain the best bulk price, but without going overboard. You don’t want 2000 books in your basement for years, but you will need copies on hand for each opportunity. I spoke at another meeting completely unrelated to my book but it validated me as someone to be listened to in that circle, the effect of which cannot be underestimated. Every time there is a function, I have books available, every time I interact with people, they ask what I write – it’s a lifestyle. I carry those business cards and books in my car, and I give discounts generously to friends. I give a gift copy to any speaker that talks near my topic or who has influence in any greater sphere. I want to bless with my work and I also want to spread the word freely in appropriate directions. Each book is a potential seed.51izrzzxa8l__ss500_

 

It’s also good to know that trying out ideas and making mistakes or losing a few books to error, just goes with the territory. For example, I took a few books to a local bookstore but found that the stocking charge was 25%, which, after my printing charges, really made little sense considering the effort involved – this was a low-traffic store. One also has little control where a book is placed for visibility within stores, whether Barnes and Noble or a small outlet. I returned weeks later to one store to find my volumes lying on a shelf where few would happen to look! I also phoned a local radio show, which is a great idea, and I met with enthusiasm, but the same week the show stopped interviewing authors! Chalk up such events to experience and move on with a smile. Some people will love our work quickly, others will be apathetic, and it may have nothing to do with how good or bad our product is! Enthusiastic, energetic friends are a huge help, though. Not only do they give vital encouragement, but a couple such friends have been champions of sales for me, too, even refusing a commission. I was able to bag-mail a crate of books to a significant contact in the UK, where they are now advertised on a respected website, and also to send books to Australia for my highly sociable friend to eagerly distribute for me! It’s not a matter of forcing attention everywhere but of following to the max any honest interest that comes. I calculate that I have fifty more years to talk on my subject, and I have books to back me up! It is very easy these days to update content via .PDF, too. My next project will be to write a study guide and hold a local book study group, and perhaps to present on the wildly popular YouTube to see where that may lead. The ideas need never stop!

 

In the end, we must simply keep going and marvel at the path. Ultimately, we pursue this passion for the love of the work, not for the notoriety we must derive from it. Let’s continue till that famous day when others may catch the strain crying out from our pages and our readership may indeed break through to the thousands upon enthralled thousands! Until then, I feel successful every time readers spontaneously approach me and, sometimes with tears in their eyes, tell me from their deepest parts how much my books have meant to them. If the work says yes, the process says yes, and so we must write our passion, push on, and we will never be defeated!

 

           
To learn more about Jen and her work go to http://www.newbornbooks.com/author_ask_chat_christian.html

 

 

 

 

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Just a quickie to say- received this from YouWriteOn tonight:

Dear Allan,
 
We are pleased to inform you that your book is now ready to order from YouWriteOn and Legend Press. Your book has also entered book distribution channels and our books are already starting to appear on sites like Amazon. Please follow the ordering instructions below exactly so that we can process your order.

 

 To order copies of your book, email us, with your book title in your email header. In your email, include the following information:

 1)      Your Book Title again

2)      Your Name

3)      Your Delivery Address, including postcode

4)      Your telephone number, required for those who choose tracked orders

5)      How many books you wish to order

6)      Important Inform us of the email address which you plan to include in your Google checkout payment for your book order (link will follow your email). This is very important as we cannot tie up orders with book titles unless you specify the email address from which you will pay in your email to us

7)      Whether you would like standard delivery (Royal Mail) or tracked delivery – see below for further details. We can only inform you of delivery prices once you inform us how many copies you wish to order

 Package and Posting Terms of Delivery

 We will inform you of package and posting costs depending on the amount of copies you inform us you wish to order. For other countries, we will notify you of delivery costs and delivery times. The postage and handling charges are charged by our printers Lightning Source to us for delivery of your book. Lightning Source are one of the world’s largest print-on-demand companies. Note that Lightning Source do not replace any books that may go missing as a fault of Royal Mail delivery, so we cannot do so either. By placing an order with us you accept this as a condition of delivery. If you would like a tracked mail delivery through DHL (UK), please inform us in your order email above, and if it goes missing Lightning Source will resupply the order if they are satisfied the order was placed and went missing. We hope you enjoy your book!

 The YouWriteOn Staff and Legend Press Partnerships

This is slightly edited. For those of you who are interested in the financial side of things: the book sells at £8.99. With author discounts I will make just over £2.00 per copy (half of which goes to Derian House Children’s Hospice) but I have no idea yet what the P&P will be.

 

 

                    

   Look very closely at these two book covers. Can you spot the subtle differences? (No prize if you can- if you can’t you win a ‘Specsavers’ voucher!)                                        

   Not 'Tasting the Wind'    Tasting the Wind as seen on Amazon

  front-cover1

 Tasting the Wind  as seen on Waterstone’s

When I found that Tasting the Wind had appeared on Amazon- if only in name- I clicked on a link to e-mail me when it was available… 

Today I received that e-mail, but nothing seems to have changed on the site. The cover is still that of a book called My Brother’s Keepers, which the info says is 408 pages long, whereas mine is 364. Wally, a YouWriteOn author from Canada has added a note of caution for anyone else who is at this stage. Quite understandably,  he had started to circulate information about his book, only to find that the ISBN was not his.  So I am doing no ordering or promoting until the correct information has appeared.

Thanks to Paul Ekert, who sent me the following link: Bookbutler . This shows all of the places where Tasting the Wind is becoming available. There are a range of delivery times and prices, although I don’t know yet if these relate to my book or the other one. Some of the suppliers have actually started to show the cover- here, for instance:  Tasting the Wind on the Waterstone’s site.

 

I also received this information in my comments from Leela Soma:

 Re sending review copies( Iam being asked that ) it is very costly. I ordered 20 copies from YWO and my book which is priced at £ 6.99 I got copies for £5.59 plus postage of £7.50 which effectively made it £ 6.00 a copy . So maybe you need to order at least 100 to get a decent discount. Also Im having big problems re my local bookshop etc wanting to stock them but discount offered is not enough for them to make it worthwhile, sale or return for POD ’s is also a problem. On the bright side my local council and Library are making an event of my book on World book day and giving me a slot and advert etc locally.   http://leelasoma86.t35.com

Although I don’t believe that YouWriteOn have  let writers down- the possibility of books not being published by Christmas was clear in the original contract- it can’t be ignored that there is a lot of disgruntlement.  Looking at my blog stats this weekend the search engine terms which brought people there included: ‘YouWriteOn scam’ and ‘fed up of YouWriteOn.’

Some people are getting very frustrated out there. Hopefully all of the YouWriteOn books will soon be ready, however many there are.

And as there are still less than 300 available through online booksellers, it is clearly going to be nowhere near  5000.

                

  Well nothing else has been simple about the process…

 I had been hoping by now to be announcing that ‘Tasting the Wind’ had appeared on Amazon. Well it has… sort of. I went on to the site today, searched, and there it was

”Tasting the Wind, Author : Allan Mayer.’

But the cover and details belong to a different book. You can see it  here.

I had heard that other books had appeared like that, so I would imagine that it is something to do with Amazon’s process- the title appears, and the cover and details follow. It’s a bit like watching someone beaming aboard the Starship Enterprise- slowly.

But it’s getting there. Watch this space!

This was rejected as a jacket photo

This was rejected as a jacket photo

It’s been a varied day. This morning I was doing an aromatherapy massage in the ‘sensory room’ where I work. After lunch I attended a meeting about ‘Person Centred Reviews.’ This is a really positive thing in Learning Disability services which is getting away from the old, formal annual review to one which focuses more on celebrating a person’s achievements.

Since the local press release word has gone round that I’ve got a novel on the way, and I keep getting asked to sign copies when they eventually arrive.

When I got home I checked Amazon. Still not there, but the good news is that I have had another piece accepted for the collaborative fiction, Greyling Bay. So I do have something to blow my own trumpet about (and it can be seen at http://greylingbay.blogspot.com/ )

I also found out today that I have a nickname at work. Is it Brad Pitt? David Tennant? No…

 

rushdie

salman

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

 

 

 

 

Perhaps I could make a living as a Salman Rushdie tribute act…

At last! Received an e-mail from YouWriteOn saying that my book, ‘Tasting the Wind’ is now ready. Just waiting  for it to start to appear on Amazon and Barnes and Noble (which I am told can take 1-4 weeks.)

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One of the best things about blogging is that you meet so many interesting like-minded people. One of these is Whitney Keyes.  Amongst other things, Whitney writes a business blog for the Seattle Post Intelligencer and has worked as a senior marketing manager for Microsoft…

I’m sorry… I think I understated that. Let me quote from the CV on Whitney Keyes’ Website:

She eventually made her way to Microsoft where she worked directly with executives including Bill Gates. She helped create many of the company’s global initiatives, managed the launch of Office 2000 which at the time was an $8 billion dollar business, and led some of Microsoft’s first viral and social marketing campaigns.

(So yes, I think we could say she’s a ‘big hitter.’)

Some weeks ago Whitney asked if  I would like a copy of  her guide book: Media Tips for Authors: How to get Free Publicity for Your Book, and would I mention it on my blog.

 Would I?

 At the moment the words ‘free’ ‘publicity,’ and ‘book’ mentioned in the same sentence are guaranteed to get my attention.

Media Tips is a well-presented and easy to read guide to one specific area of book marketing. I have blogged previously about press releases from the point of view of someone who is learning the ropes. Whitney Keyes has been there and writes from the position of someone who has tried and tested the techniques and can vouch for their success.

What I hear from a lot of authors is We are writers, we are creative, we are artistic: the business and marketing side to publishing is alien to us. Unfortunately, the reality is that if you publish through POD, self-publishing or a small publisher, then you have to market or you aint gonna sell a thing. If you are one of those people who is put off by technical, stuffy, formal marketing advice, you will find  that Media Tips will utilise your creativity and not turn you into book marketing’s version of Gordon Gecko.

Whitney Keyes’ advice is presented in small, easily digestible sections and provides you with exercises to create such things as your own ‘news hooks’ to get the attention of newspaper editors.

At a compact twenty pages, the booklet provides an antidote for the information overload you can experience when researching book marketing ideas. It also contains a resource guide of books, experts, organisations and websites.

For more information, to sign up for her free weekly marketing tips, and to buy Media Tips (Also available as a download) go to  http://www.whitneykeyes.com/     

She is also a host on Web.TV site:   http://www.whitneyandwyatt.com/  and can be found at:  Seattle Post-Intelligencer articles

… ’nuff said?’


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