Archives: Social Media

It’s expensive to launch a “successful” book, whether the investment is the publisher’s, yours, or a combination of both. And by successful, I’m not even talking about New York Times bestsellers, whose successes seem as much the result of a quantifiable financial investment as they are the result of unquantifiable variables like reader enthusiasm and sheer serendipity. By successful, I’m referring to any book that earns out its publisher’s investment and sells through its first printing. Any author who’s gotten that far should be immensely proud.

Here are some of the most critical costs I’ve seen responsible for creating a successful book:

*Print run (the number of books printed)
*Co-op (exhibition or shelf space the publisher is buying, whether at Barnes and Noble or Amazon.com, to offer your book exposure to browsers. Involved explanation here.)
*Marketing & publicity (ranging from advertising to a freelance publicist)
*Buying back books (for events or giveaway/review purposes)

For authors who receive an advance in the tens of thousands of dollars, a robust first print run, co-op, or hefty publicity/events support isn’t likely. And even the rare, proactive publicist who works with you at your publishing house…his/her efforts may simply not translate. If your hope is to exceed expectations and give your book a real shot on the market, you will need to find ways to supplement what’s lacking in the publisher’s investment.

Here are some ways to properly prioritize your time and energy that won’t cost you a dime, excluding gas money.
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It’s the best of times and the worst of times. A great time to be a thriller writer, and a not-so-hot time to be a literary novelist. At least that’s the conclusion one draws in reading this article on the 15 highest paid authors of 2012. Taking aside luck, timing, and arguably talent, why are these 15 authors as successful as they are? What, as an author or aspiring one, can be gleaned from this “data” to guide one’s work toward saleability?

The authors chosen for this list, not listed in order of wealth are:

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As creative types, those of us who work in publishing and those with MBAs may speak in different tongues, but the way business school graduates are taught to think—analytically, strategically, and always with a mind toward the revenue opportunity—can be valuable in almost any industry. Speaking with MBAs is a complement to the everyday creative, people-y industry of publishing, an industry still largely functioning without predictive data. Maybe we’re getting there.

I was inspired to write this blog immediately and largely unedited when I had breakfast today with an MBA and serial entrepreneur who’s recently gotten interested in the publishing “space,” as they say. As a reader and author himself, he pointed out what he saw to be the Type I and Type II Errors we’re currently making as book consumers.

Type I: You hear about a book, are lured in by a blurb or a book jacket you like, catch the author featured in a media outlet. Excited to read this book, you then find that it really disappoints. You wish you’d spent those hours reading something more enlightening or entertaining.*

Type II: A book, title A, has come across your radar, but you see maybe one Amazon review. On your Goodreads shelves, 3 friends have recommended another book, title B, and you’re seeing that author quite a bit on Facebook, so… you opt for B over A. Title A was actually good, really good – it could have been the next Downton Abby, a sensation – but you passed on the opportunity to read it, and went for something else.

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How many authors here today know what co-op means, what a typical print run is for his/her type of book, or how returns factor into sales? How many editors know how LinkedIn or Pinterest can relate to book marketing, in what ways authors are using their social networks, and what connections they may have to larger organizations? Often, we’re not asking these questions of each other. We’re doing what we can, in silos.

Imagine if authors and publishers could inform and strategize with one another. Imagine if we were all really on the same page. This begins with having a shared strategy built on the principle of transparency. There is a way to learn, enjoy different perspectives, not put so much pressure on ourselves, and still, at the end of the day, be productive. It’s the result of an open collaboration between parties, which becomes possible as our roles expand.

Collaboration, beginning with defining parameters and goals, is key to excitement, energy, and execution. Here are ways in which it can be developed at the very first meeting:

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Whether you’re a blogger or writer looking to get an idea out there, seek representation, or find a like-minded community; or an author looking to reach rock star bestsellerdom (or simply more readers), using Twitter has become non-negotiably important—at least that’s what your agent, editor, or publicist has told you. Twitter, despite popular misconception, is not about what you ate for breakfast this morning. It’s about finding news, defined loosely as any cultural phenomena or trend, and talking about that news, in real time.

Book news makes no exception—media and readers want to be in the know about new books, and Twitter is increasingly the forum where everyone from serious journalists to your mother’s book club friends go to learn about and share views on what’s happening.

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Even the biggest authors don’t rely on traditional media to break out their books.

In the past several decades, Paulo Coelho has sold more than 140 million books worldwide and is the all-time bestselling Portuguese language author. His most recent book, Aleph (Knopf, 2011), was featured on the front page of The New York Times’ Arts Section. But despite this prime feature and his already profound reputation, the book, initially, couldn’t break the Amazon top 100. Read more »

For all aspiring or established authors today, it’s impossible to emphasize enough the importance of marketing, and doing it early. Marketing for books boils down to one simple premise: reach as many potential readers as possible. Where mainstream publicity is known to be hit or miss, there are cases in which a strong, dedicated and smart approach to marketing is proven to return value. PR needs to integrate social marketing.

In a new weekly series this month, we’ll look at 3 wildly successful marketing programs that have returned value and/or investment, sometimes without or in spite of traditional media attention. Read more »

With so many authors looking for marketing and publicity support often critical to a book’s success, there’s a question publicity firms are asked repeatedly. “Is it too late to hire a publicist for my book?”

If you’re asking the question, you’re most likely in one of two positions:

1) you’re approaching the paperback launch of your hardcover published many months ago, which received varying degrees of attention,
2) you’re now months past your initial publication, and feeling like the book you spent countless hours and days to write (!) didn’t get the momentum you’d hoped for.
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We asked, you answered.

We’re happy to host Todd Aaron Jensen, author of a collection of celebrity essays called On Gratitude, Chris Semal, author of mystery/noir Trial of Tears, and Rebecca Regnier, author of humor/diet/social media book, Your Twitter Diet in a virtual conversation on the ups and downs and tricks of the trade in today’s “new school” of publishing.

1) With over 3 million people wanting to write books, why did you feel yours needed to be written, or would stand above the rest?
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Do you hate newsletters? I do, too. Often.
Do you read some over others? I’d love to know why.

I’ve been known to encourage authors to send mass emails and newsletters. (Bansky’s going to oppose me on this one: even if all of Bansky is a form of lobbying for something.) And so, in my “year of walking in an author’s shoes,” to better understand the whole experience of social networking that’s now non-negotiable in author promoting, I’ve decided on my stance where newsletters are concerned. I believe there is value in getting your books on the radar
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