Tag Archives: professional authors

The Business of Being an Author

Most authors at some point approach the sales of their book as if there is either some magic involved or as if it is something that some nebulous “other” is supposed to do for them. But book sales are neither wizardry nor a spectator sport. It’s a simple business that works like any other business. To have a successful business, you need capital, a market, inventory, and workers to fulfill the needed roles. Unlike most publishers who leave all these things to the author to figure out, Tate Publishing has a plan for each of them.

Capital – The lifeblood of your business
Without money, no business can succeed. You need it for all the other aspects. You need money to develop your market, to buy inventory, and to pay your workers. Very few people have a cash reserve ready to launch a thriving business from a dead stop, just like very few people can send a rocket into space. If you have that, use it. Start big and fast. If you don’t, start with walking or riding a bike. Buy a few books, sell them, and use the money to buy more. I’m convinced that most authors spend the money they make on books instead of investing in their book’s business, and they die on the vine. The good news is that you can start fresh anytime. If you do this right, you should only have to use your own money once, and then your book sales will support future book purchases and on and on. To do this effectively, you should establish a separate account for your books as soon as possible. It’s a good idea to check with a tax professional to see what tax benefits you can get from doing this. When your book account has more money than your book needs, THEN you can pay yourself out of it.

Market – Who is buying your book?
Expecting someone else to bring the market to you is a fantasy. It only happens that way in the movies. We can help you build an audience, but we can’t do it for you. If you are a Tate Publishing author and haven’t read the niche marketing section of the marketing guide in awhile, it might be time to revisit it. My job as your marketing consultant is to help you buy and sell your books in your niche market. If you don’t know how or where to find people where they gather, how to connect with them, or how to turn those connections into book sales, I am here to help. If you have done these things and stopped, why did you stop? Let’s get started again. When you do this right, working in your market builds capital, which you can use to help you reach more of your market. (If you’re not a Tate Publishing author, you should be. Click the link in our name to get started.)

Inventory – Books on hand
Successful authors have a minimum number of books on hand at all times. Authors who can only schedule one or two events a month may be fine to have 25 books on hand. Authors working events every week should have 50 or 100. Authors who are active nearly every day should reorder when they get down to 200. Managing your inventory is the key to being able to take advantage of unexpected opportunities. Determine how active you can be and work up to your minimum inventory as quickly as possible.

Workers – Whose hands?
Most authors I talk to these days understand their role as the face of the book. Every now and then, I still run across an author who thinks that this is my job or a bookstore’s job or the system’s job to produce book sales. Even among authors who understand their role, I often talk to authors who believe at some point they can put this thing on autopilot and expect sales to roll in. Let me make this clear: you are the CEO of your business. Not me, not Tate Publishing, not Barnes and Noble, and not a distributor. You are the CEO. You have retained our services to help you with marketing advice and publicity contacts to bookstores, non-bookstore venues, and the media, and we’re always willing to help in those ways. However, you don’t want to sit in the back seat of the car until your business is big enough to hire a driver. Don’t give up too early. Building a business of any kind takes time, and building an audience for your book is no exception.

If you keep these things in mind and set your expectations accordingly, you set yourself up for a long and successful career as a writer. As your publishing and marketing partner, we want nothing less for you!

1 Comment

Filed under Audience building, Growing your platform, Niche Marketing, Reputation building, Uncategorized

How will my book get on store shelves?

This is one of the most common questions I receive from authors. Before I answer, I want to bring up another common question: Why should I buy copies of my book?  The reality is that these two questions are closely related.

With the “why” question, the implication–and sometimes the outright statement I get–is that authors think someone else should be trying to sell their books to bookstores (the publisher, publicist, marketing rep, or some other person). But bookstores don’t buy books the way Walmart buys Mac & Cheese or notebooks or bed sheets or TVs. When Walmart buys these things, they pay the vendor and they have them until they sell them. When bookstores buy books, they can send them back whenever they want and get full credit from the publisher. If we sold books to them and there was no one to buy them, we would be left holding a lot of books. Authors don’t get paid for books that aren’t paid for, and publishers can’t make money printing books just to put them in storage. Ultimately this is a question of demand, not supply on shelves. Demand always precedes supply in the book industry.

These days bookstores do not take any chances. They don’t need to. Bookstores carry at most 20,000 titles of the more than 20 million currently in print. On their websites, they carry closer to half of those titles. If you are a Tate Publishing author, thanks to our efforts and relationships, your book is among those they carry online, and most bookstores decide which titles to put on their shelves based on what is selling online.

So how does your book become one of those? When enough people go and buy your book online to put your book in the top 20,000 titles (roughly speaking), stores notice. They go to the distributors we work with and start ordering. How many is “enough people”? There is no way to tell, but it will need to be at least hundreds and possibly tens of thousands.

This is why you need to buy books and resell them. When you do that, you are creating a market for your book. That’s what “marketing” is, in the end: Creating a market for your book. We can do that with you, but we can’t do it for you. This is true of every product in every industry, but given the way books are sold in the 21st century, it’s even more important to grasp.

Bookstores also respond to demand generated in niche markets with target audiences, which is why it is so important to establish a platform away from bookstores. This is the lifeblood of most books, as the demand must build, word of mouth must spread, and you need to get your book in front of people that need to most. As sales in niche markets grow, the online sales can increase, and stores begin to take notice.

This is why we so strongly encourage our authors to take advantage of buying books at your deep author discount to resell them. First, that step makes your book profitable quickly, and second, when you do this, you are creating a market for your book.

Publishers that are interested in helping their authors build an audience make offers of deep discounts and free items to you to help you get this start and make your book successful in multiple markets, starting in the niche market and including bookstores as well. If you are a Tate author, we can always help you explore a variety of markets and make contacts for you in areas outside bookstores to allow you the opportunity to have events in a variety of venues to see what works best for you and your book.

If you’re not a Tate Publishing author, visit TatePublishing.com to see how to become one.

1 Comment

Filed under bookstores, Reputation building, retail marketing

Blog + Twitter + Facebook = growing audience

For professional authors, writing is your job, and there is a lot of work involved in it. The hardest work is in building an audience for your writing. Nearly every other article I’ve written is about what to do to reach people near you, but people often ask how they can reach people beyond their physical ability to be there. Or maybe you can be there, but your niche is difficult to find. The internet has 3 tools you can use together to grow your audience.

It all starts with blogging. If you are an author with Tate Publishing, you may already have a website with a blog. You can ask your Marketing Consultant how to get one if you don’t already have one. Or you can start one on your own by going to WordPress.com, blogspot.com, or any other blog hosting service. Most have free options and paid options. The blog you’re reading is one I pay nothing for. So how do you start?

1) Decide your frequency

Before you post a single thing on your blog, you should decide how often you will blog and STICK TO IT! Daily is great unless you blog for three days and never blog again. Monthly is too infrequent, but it’s a good start if you aren’t sure you can stick it out. Ideally, twice a week or once a week on specific days is what you should shoot for.

What do you write? One of my favorite teachers in the world of sales and marketing is Jeffrey Gitomer, whose newsletter I try to read every week. Jeffrey’s article on writing to relax demonstrates that something you need to do for work can actually flow naturally from something you want to do to relax. Here is a the link to his article: http://www.gitomer.com/articles/ViewPublicArticle.html?key=ajcdMibak3P8c%2BzzDDgyNQ%3D%3D. (I’ve pasted it below if you don’t like to click links.)

2) Build your inventory

The surest way to fail at blogging is to have to come up with something new every time you sit down. This is like going grocery shopping every single day. I have five kids, and as I write this, 60% of them are teenagers. We already have trouble keeping food in the house when we shop every week. If we tried to shop for that day’s meals (and snacks), we’d do nothing but drive back and forth to the store. We don’t want to do that, and you don’t want to get yourself into a similar trap. The exercises in Jeffrey Gitomer’s article will help you build this inventory. Do what he says and come up with 10 or 15 or even 20 blog posts before you post a single one. That way you are feeding your audience from a full cupboard. When you have good writing days, add those to your inventory. When you have bad writing days, pull from your inventory and post away.

The best way to do this is to write in a document (Word, Pages, Works, whatever) and save it in a specific folder on your computer. Then you can copy and paste from your doc to your blog. There will be days when you have a time- or season-specific post that you write and post immediately. Good! That’s another day your inventory goes untouched!

If you are an author, you already have an inventory. It’s called your book. Have you ever heard of The Pioneer Woman? How about the book and movie Marley and Me? Both started as blogs. Many books start out as a blog, and often the book contains little more than the blog posts strung together! As an author who already has a book, you can reverse engineer that. Put your whole book out on your blog one snippet at a time. Don’t worry about giving too much away unless your book is fiction. People often ask bloggers to compile their blogs into a book. You’ll gain both online and in book sales.

If you’re a fiction author, use your blog posts as your Blu-Ray extras. Tell the back stories of your characters, the connections to real life, how you came up with the idea, where the characters go after the end, anything that gives your readers more. There will be people who find your blog first and buy your book because they already know your characters.

3) Keep it brief

I’m not following my own advice here, but I’m not trying to build an audience with this. To get people’s attention, it is best to give them short treats more often than long ones infrequently. 150-500 words should be your guide. Use the word count tool in your document until you gain a natural feel for this length. If you have a post that just needs to be longer than that, break it into 2 or 3 pieces and post on 2 or 3 different days.

4) Post and spread

I’m going to apologize for this analogy up front, because I’m going to compare our writing to manure. If you collect manure in one place, it won’t do anything but stink. If you spread it on a field, it helps bring life. You can see where I’m going: Don’t collect your writing on your blog and expect it to bring life. Now, the analogy breaks down because our writing doesn’t stink, but if even something that does can bring life, how much more can good writing?

The way to spread it is to make good use of facebook and twitter. If you vowed never to get on either, it’s time for a new vow. There are a lot of people on facebook and twitter, and there are some easy things you can do on both that will give you real benefits. It is now officially stupid not to be on them. If that offends you, be offended, but do something about it.

Fortunately, it is easy to learn. I originally wrote this as an email to the authors I serve. When I finished sending it, I copied and pasted it to my blog, just as you’ll do with blogs from your inventory. A warning before I continue: This next part will sound like gibberish to the uninitiated. I’ll initiate you later.

I have my Twitter account connected to Facebook, so anything I tweet becomes my status update on Facebook. I copy the address of my blog post and go to bitly.com. I paste it in and shorten it. (This is important because Twitter forces brevity by only giving you 140 characters.) My tweets have 3 or 4 components: The title of the blog post, a very brief explanation or shout-out to another Tweeter if needed, the shortened link, and 1 or 2 hashtags. For the original version of this post that focused more on the concept of writing to relax, my tweet said:

#Authors, writing to… relax??? Jeffrey @gitomer does it, and you can turn it into #bookmarketing: http://bit.ly/13KIjnq.

This is 122 characters, and it uses 2 hashtags and a shout-out, all in context. (HINT: Using them in context reads a little funny, but it does save characters.)

TRANSLATION FOR THOSE WHO NEED IT:
I’m going to work backwards here, so I’ll start with hashtags. What the heck are they? It’s Twitter’s way of dealing with key words that help people find tweets they are interested in, and other social media sites have begun using them as well. You’ve seen it on the screen of almost every TV show, and they look like this: #hashtag. The # symbol tells twitter it’s a keyword, and the letters after it comprise the key word. There are no spaces in hashtags, so if your key word is “adult fiction”, you’ll use #adultfiction. It’s read like this: “hashtag adult fiction”.

If you use good hashtags, people WILL find you. I know this from experience. I don’t care if there’s not a single soul following me on Twitter; I do this to help the authors who have contracted with my company. But I tried using #bookmarketing and #author on my tweets, and people started following me. (Some of you reading this found me that way.) Given how infrequently I blog, I’ve been stunned by these results. To date, I have over 300 followers on Twitter without trying much to get a single one.

Pick a hashtag that isn’t too general nor too specific. If you really do write adult fiction, use #adultfiction, but make sure you use something more specific, like #drama, #scifi, #romance, or #action. Twitter tracks these, and it learns over time what I’m interested in. So my twitter page will feed me with tweets from others who tweet about these topics. In other words, it leads you right to people in your audience. More importantly, it leads them to you.

Shout-outs are ways to hitch your wagon to another successful person who is also on Twitter. When I type “@gitomer” in my tweet, Twitter automatically turns that into a link to Jeffrey’s Twitter page.

Now do you see why you need to be on Twitter? Facebook provides similar opportunities but it also offers the opportunity to connect a little more deeply.

If you are not on either one, sign up for facebook first. Write down your username and password. Then go sign up for Twitter. During sign up, it will ask if you want to connect your Twitter to your facebook. Say yes. You’ll need your username and password, and you’ll need to give Twitter permission to access facebook. I believe it is because of this connection that hashtags became a standard on facebook within months after I posted the first version of this blog predicting that very thing. I’ve even seen people use them in texts, even though they don’t actually “do” anything there. It’s becoming a shorthand way to say, “This is the key word here.”

Accept almost every follower on Twitter and every friend request on facebook. That way what you do will show up on their pages, giving their followers and friends the opportunity to find you. I say almost because there are people who use facebook and Twitter to try to scam people or lead them to seedy sites. If it smells fishy, play it safe and decline them.

Those are the instructions for the 3 best tools on the internet. Others like Instagram and Pinterest that are more photo-based are good if you or your book are more photo-inclined. Get these three down first and then go make friends with someone who is 14-24 years old to see what new networks are out there!

Here’s the article from Jeffrey Gitomer:
Think the “Write” Way. Do the “Write” Thing. And All Will Be Well.

RELAX!

You’ve heard that word since the first time you got angry or upset. Or maybe it’s a word in your head that beacons reality. Pent up frustration, worry, or concern about the present or the future – or both – and nervousness about what’s about to happen in the world, at work, at home, or in your personal life.

RELAX! is easy to say, hard to do.

Here are my secrets for maintaining inner peace and fulfillment in a world filled with distractions, diversions, and distortions:

1. Write down all the crap clogging your brain. Get rid of your mental clutter. As soon as you write the details, you no longer have to dwell on them, or remember them – and your mind is free to think. Try it. It’s amazing and mentally relaxing (almost a relief). The bonus of an uncluttered mind is that ideas and resolutions to your issues and challenges will begin to manifest themselves daily.

2. Write down your present situation. What’s going on in your life right now? What’s the status of all things work, family, friends, life, and self? More amazing than unclogging, writing your present situation actually creates answers to situations that have been bugging you. Oh, and it also helps relax you.

3. Write down your dreams and thoughts. Everyone has thoughts of “one day I’ll…,” or “someday I’ll…,” but those words are usually just spoken. REALITY: Those thoughts are just pipe dreams until they’re written down, formalized, and crystalized. Writing your dreams will help you see a more clear and focused picture of them.

4. Find a quiet park or a garden where you can sit and think, read, or write for an hour. Invest quality time with yourself DAILY. This is the most relaxing of all outlets IF you have done the first three things I’ve recommended.

5. Read something positive, and write down the most inspiring quotes. Create a mailing list of important people to share them with. Make sure you acknowledge the author.

6. Mentally go to all the positive places where you’ve been before. Those thoughts will lead you to stories and lessons – write them down right away. Then blog them.

6.5 Blog your thoughts, ideas, and experiences. Blogging not only creates a public avenue for you to publish and express yourself, it also positions you and your views to the world. Your ideas may matter to some people in the world, and the feeling of accomplishment will give you a feeling of personal pride and fulfillment. I have decided that 2013 will be my “year of the blog,” consisting of an intensive, daily effort for me to talk about and video about sales, business, and life. You can see my blog history at http://www.salesblog.com. Got blog? Air your thoughts to the world!

There are other things you can DO beyond writing to relax…

Play with a kid. It’s an amazing elixir for relaxing and having fun.
Go shopping for yourself. It makes you feel good to do things for YOU.
Make a list of ten people from high school or college you want to reconnect with. Call them, don’t just Facebook them. These are people you knew in your responsibility-free days.
Take a walk someplace you’ve never been before. Look around as you walk. Marvel at things. Take a few pictures. Write a few notes. Sit down and soak it in.
Book a weekend trip. Make a list of the places you’ll go and the things you’ll do. Often just the action of writing and planning the getaway will change your mood and your thinking, and that can calm you.

GOTTA GET AWAY? Need a vacation? That’s because you’re not relaxing every day. When the “need to get away” is a dominant thought, it’s a symptom, not a problem or a goal. The reality is you’re not relaxing on a daily basis.

RELAXATION REALITY It’s likely you’ll need to make some personal changes if true relaxation is to permeate your life. Avoid negative events, negative things, negative news, and especially negative people.

“Jeffrey I can’t eliminate these things!” you exclaim.

Relax dude, just relax.

Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of twelve best-selling books including The Sales Bible and The Little Red Book of Selling. His forthcoming book, 21.5 Unbreakable Laws of Selling, will be available September 3rd, and will feature a national public seminar tour. Get the details at http://www.gitomer.com. It will lead you to more information about training and seminars, or email him personally at salesman@gitomer.com.
– See more at: http://www.gitomer.com/articles/ViewPublicArticle.html?key=ajcdMibak3P8c%2BzzDDgyNQ%3D%3D#sthash.FXUhwPXA.dpuf

2 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Niche Marketing, Reputation building