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Thursday, June 25, 2009

You Wrote a Book - What Now?

Let me make a prediction.

By 2015, based on current trends, 50% of the books available online and even offline, will be self published.

How will this happen? Simple. Print on Demand technology has already progressed to the stage that even the big traditional publishers are using it - which means, yes, now we're all equal.

Plus, distribution networks are now seeing that there is money to be made stocking and distributing self published books - as long as the writers are diligently involved in their promotion.

Book marketing is now no longer the sole responsibility of a publisher's sales staff. More and more trade publishers are requiring, even demanding, that authors self promote their books.

So, whichever way you go, you will have to get out there and sell your books yourself. But what does self promotion actually involve?

Are there any special skills you need?

Yes, but don't fret - you're a writer. Much of what you need to do is already within your skill base.

Here are nine pointers for the serious newly published author:

1. Create a Web Presence

Having an author website is a must - but there's more to be done than that. Having a presence on the web to promote you book(s) needs a more strategic approach.

You need to hunt down any and all Net platforms - including social networking sites - from which to promote you and your book.

2. Make your Website Interactive

You need to run a newsletter, a blog and have useful resources for readers and writers to make your website 'sticky' - which means giving people reasons to find your website and keep coming back.

Do whatever you can to build a mailing list, online and off.

3. Use Ads to Generate a Following

This may require some investment of money and time. Book sales don't just happen. They never have. Authors throughout history - from Geoffrey Chaucer to Jeffrey Archer have spent money publicizing themselves in the short term to gain book sales in the long term. If you believe in yourself and your writing, follow their example.

Online this may mean using Google Ads. Offline you may need to consider printing up posters, business cards and bookmarks, putting ads in the paper and sending out promotional material to bookshops, libraries and schools.

4. Create a Stream of Press Releases

One is never enough. You need to catch the eye of the media. And the way to do that is to make your book relevant. Follow the media daily and reshape your press releases to reflect and include current news headlines. Make yourself relevant. Send out press releases consistently - and have a ready made 'press pack' available for any journalist who may call.

5. Contact Radio and TV Stations

Deliberately target news media outlets in your press releases and then follow up. Find out when and where the media airs shows about authors and books - and let them know you're available for interview.

Okay, this is scary - but it works. And don't be nervous. Once you've done it the first time, it gets easier. Trust me.

6. Do a Launch Tour

It used to be that a book launch was a fun one-off activity. Not anymore. You should plan a tour of book launches. In your own town there may be half a dozen places you could hold them.

Plan on touring interstate, even internationally, and doing as many launches as you can.

Not just in bookstores and libraries but nightclubs and community centers, gyms and pet stores. I'm not joking. You can make these things work. And try this: invite celebrities to your launches. You just never know who will come!

7. Do a Lecture/Personal Appearance Tour

You might think that only the extroverted are best suited for giving talks and workshops on their books. You'd be wrong. And I'm willing to bet you can do it too.

Don't think in terms of making a profit on your speaking engagements - but do take lots of your books with you. The money is made at the back of the room, after your speech.

8. Keep Looking for Opportunities

Whenever you're out and about, deliberately build networks of useful contacts. Visit other writers and talk with them, share your self promotion tactics. (Here's a tip: buy them lunch - it's tax deductible.)

Online, join discussion groups that focus on self promotion. It's all useful for developing a mindset, even if you don't use all of the strategies made available to you.

9. Keep Writing

Most of all, don't lose sight of your art - the reason you're doing all this promotion. You want to be a professional writer, so you'll need to keep coming up with the goods.

A famous bestselling author once told me he spent 60% of his year writing, 20% promoting himself and 20% resting, usually in a far off country. That sounds about the right balance to me!

All this may sound rather daunting to the newbie and to the newly published. But the good news is that doing at least some of these activities will generate book sales.

Now all you need to do is consider this:

If you're going to be doing all this self promotion, would it be more profitable for you to be self published - or share all your hard earned royalties with a trade publisher?

This is the real reason why self publishing will become so important in the future. It's way more profitable to self publish.

Think of it this way:

The average book sells less than 500 copies - shocking but true.

With 10% earnings, your standard royalties from a trade publisher, and you'll make around $1000 (if you're lucky, after the usual contractual deductions - don't get me started on this one.)

Sell 500 copies of your own self published book at the same retail price and you'd make around $5000 - if not more!

You don't have to be a genius to work out which option most enlightened authors will be taking in the future.

Thanks for reading!
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