Monday, 25 July 2011

Step 7: Marketing & Distributing your Book

Which method is right for you? 

Given your book is successfully published, one might ask what is the point of this chapter as, surely, after my book is published the job is done? This statement couldn't be further from the truth. Your book is no good without readers. Whether you are producing a 'dream' book, a 'passive income' book or a 'credibility' book you will reach none of your desired outcomes if you do nothing with your book. Even if you don't want to make money or gain credibility, a dream book sitting at your home doing nothing was a waste of your time and money. You have written a book, now it is up to you to make sure it gets read.

But how do I get my book read? 
The answer to that is through marketing and distribution. There are three main methods of distribution and each requires a different form of marketing to make that distribution effective.

  1. Self distribution, generally used on the 'dream' book. 
  2. Online distribution, generally used on the 'passive income' book
  3. Bookstore distribution, generally used for the 'publicity' book.

Self Distribution
Self distribution and marketing go hand in hand. It is the marketing you do yourself promoting your book that allows you to distribute it. Word of mouth marketing is very powerful. You would be surprised, if you told your friends and family that you had written a book, how many of them would like a copy. Depending on the relationship, you may want to give them a free copy, but there are a lot of other potential sales right there that you would have missed if you hadn't told people what you were doing. Better still, once your family and friends know you have written a book and they have read and loved it, they have just become your best referral source. They will tell all of their family and friends about your book, generally because they are so proud that their friend, mother, father, brother, sister, daughter, son etc. has just become a published author.

When it comes to self publishing, the people you already know are your greatest asset, so whatever you do don't discount them or forget to let them know what you are doing. And better yet, don't wait until your book is finished to start telling people about it. Tell them early on, as there is nothing like the power of pre-sold books to fund your publishing process.

When you are excited about what you are doing, excitement is contagious so share it with others. Tell the person at the bus stop, your butcher, the checkout person, tell them all what you are doing. When someone asks how your day was or what you have planned for the weekend don't give a polite'good'or similar answers. They don't know that 'good' meant you've just finished the last chapter of your book or that you spent all Saturday working on your masterpiece. Tell them the real answer. "My day was great. I just finished writing my book". They may have just asked the question to be polite, but they also just may be looking for a book on the very subject you've just finished writing your book on, or better yet know someone or a couple of people who could be interested.

Never be afraid to say what you do. You are your best form of marketing and distribution for your book as no one knows it like you do. And of course if you speak in front of people in any capacity (teacher, public speaker, seminar presenter, educator, church pastor, the list goes on and on) make sure you mention your book from the stage. If you are speaking in any of these capacities, it is likely you are an expert in what you are talking about, so it would be safe to assume your book is either on the same subject matter or a related subject matter. You have a sitting, waiting, ready audience already interested in the exact subject matter of your book who would love to buy your book if only they knew it existed. So tell them. Don't miss an opportunity to get your book out there for fear of speaking up.

Online Distribution 
If passive income is your aim, online distribution is a fantastic way to distribute and market your book as everything can be fully automated for you. If you are selling eproducts even the distribution is instantly fully automated for you via sophisticated shopping carts with hidden fulfilment pages per product. 

If you sell physical products, however, the production and distribution process can still be automated for you such that your website can communicate directly with your fulfilment centre to fulfil an order, your fulfilment centre with your production house to ensure products are always in stock or you can use print on demand. Meaning you don't print the product until your customer has already paid you for it.

Now there is a good cash flow strategy. Of course, just like self distribution, online distribution only works with online marketing but this, once again, can be fully automated for you. Sophisticated e-mail marketing systems can be built into your webstore these days to automatically market people for you. Someone who came to your website and didn't buy for whatever reason can receive a series of follow up e-mails letting them know more information about your book, or offering them incentives or free bonuses when they purchase. This allows you to not only capture the sales from people who buy first time around but also from those who don't.

E-mail marketing people you already know is also a fantastic way to let them know about your new book and draw them to your website. Other effective ways to market your book online include drawing qualified traffic to your website through an appropriate Adwords campaign. The power in designing an Adwords campaign to drive traffic, that is already looking for exactly what you are selling, to your site is fantastic. If such traffic finds your site straight away and it is exactly what they are looking for, they usually buy straight away without asking questions and this is your ideal client. Of course if you don't want to pay for an Adwords campaign you don't need to. Just make sure that your website has both good internal SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and external SEO so that people can find your site organically instead of via paid-for searches. Ideally, I think a combination of the two works best, but it all depends on both your budget and what volume of traffic you want to run through your site on a daily basis. To ascertain what is right for you, speak to your web provider for more details.

Bookstore Distribution 
Bookstore distribution is most definitely the way to go if you are looking to gain any form of publicity from your book, as you want to get your book out there to as many places as possible as quickly as possible. The only problem with bookstores is there is currently a lot of risk involved. At the moment to get a book into Australian bookstores the process varies slightly depending on your distribution method but it is always something like this:

  1. You pitch your book to a publisher 
  2. Your publisher pitches your book to bookstores
  3. If the bookstores take your book they will usually order around 3500-5000 copies on average for the first order. 
  4. They pay you straight away the wholesale price for these books, your publisher prints the books and gets them into stores for you. 
  5. If your books sell straight away, each bookstore re-orders and the same process continues. 
If, however, your books don't sell in the first 3 months, they are returned to you, usually damaged and worn (from people browsing in the stores) and you have to return the money. You are left with a lot of damaged books and a large debt.

Many authors have gone bust this way and not all because their books were necessarily bad, but mostly all because their books were poorly marketed. The best form of marketing for bookstore distribution is press releases. If the media is talking about your book, bookstores are talking about your book and people are going in asking for your book and buying it. If this is the case then you don't need to worry about the possibility of your book being returned as you will be in the 5% of people who get reorders in the first 3 months of their books being in bookstores and go on to become best sellers.

Just because you have sent out press releases, don't stop there. You may have sent 1000 press releases but no media may choose to do a story on you. No story = no publicity and no publicity = no sales. Yes, even with bookstore distribution (where your publisher takes care of the full distribution process for you) make sure you always keep your hand in the marketing. Offer to do bookstore signings. Readers love this, bookstores love this and you should love this too as, while you will be promoting the bookstore, they will be selling your book.

The power of effective marketing to achieve publicity is in the combination of all media being used simultaneously. So make sure you use both paid-for and free marketing sources, both online and offline, both marketing your publisher takes care of and marketing you do yourself in order to ensure the best results. Be careful, though, if you think putting your book in stores will make you money. The wholesale rate that bookstores pay for books is very low to start with. Take out of that agent's fees to get your book in and the cost of printing each copy and you are lucky to make $ 1 or $2 per book supplied to a bookstore at the wholesale price. Saying that, if you are selling them in lots of 3500-5000 at a time, that adds up pretty quickly. In Australia, to become a best seller you need to have sold 10,000 books. At standard first order and reorder rates, this will be accomplished on your second or third reorder and the good news is that once you are a best seller, the wholesale rate increases, Bookstores now want to stock your book as you are a best seller, so now you can make a little more money from bookstores.

Remember, though, that bookstore distribution will always be the most risky form of distribution, with the least financial return but the only way to truly gain credibility as an expert in your given field.

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