Tag Archives: Tate

Growing Beyond Your Local Area

Last week, I was talking to Sheldon Larmore, author of Be Quiet and Listen. It is the story of his family’s journey through the pain and loss that came through their son David and his will to live as long as possible with spina bifida. After he passed away, they set up a memorial fund to help children with disabilities, and they fund it with the proceeds from their book sales. Sheldon told me they have had great success and feedback locally, but they haven’t been able to get much going beyond that. He and his wife still speak at churches and civic groups at least once a month, which is still quite active. This is a common thing I hear from authors. How do you take that activity to the next level?

Moving your book beyond your local area involves personal appearances, which means the pace will need to be adjusted according to your availability, interest, and desire for doing them. The cost of travel will need to be taken into account as well. This works best when you have established a solid footing locally, so if you haven’t yet, do that first. With all those things in mind, here is the idea:

Whenever you go to a group to speak, ask them who they know in the next town that might benefit from having you come. Then contact those people and set up speaking engagements there, and so on. You can expand out as far as you want to travel. Work towards the major metropolitan areas because you can get in front of more people in less time that way.

The reasoning behind this is that the best way to spread a message is still by word of mouth. Technology has increased the reach for all of us, but it is still word of mouth that causes your audience to grow beyond your reach. So the question becomes, how do you increase word of mouth?

It starts by asking for it. Every time you speak, add a simple sentence to the end: “Tell everyone you know about this.” The fact is that most people won’t do that, but it’s just as much a fact that some will. And those who do will tell a lot of people. And some of those people have reach well beyond just their local area. See Readers, Fans, and Evangelists for more details on getting others to help you grow your audience.

It helps if you give them something to spread. This is where social media fits in. If you speak, start a YouTube channel. Get someone with an iPhone to record a video of you sharing 30-second to 1-minute bites of some of your best stuff. Post them as often as you can (weekly, monthly, etc.) Take the audio and turn it into a podcast. I’m no expert on any of those, but do a Google search of those terms and start educating yourself. If speaking is not your thing, you probably haven’t even read this far, but get better at it or get very good at blogging. You can learn how to do that here.

If you’re reading this thinking, “Man, this sounds like a lot of work!” Congratulations. You’re right! It was a lot of work for the Apostle Paul trying to spread the gospel of Jesus, too. Thankfully, we don’t have to put our feet to the ground (or our boats to the sea) as much as he did, but the attitude and work ethic are the same.

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Filed under Growing your platform, Internet ideas, Niche Marketing, Reputation building, speaking engagements, Uncategorized

Top 3 Marketing Questions Most Authors Have

Most of the authors I work with are brand new to the worlds of publishing and book selling (and make no mistake: those are two different worlds). Even though these questions are addressed in a lot of websites and blogs, they remain prevalent in the minds of authors who are trying to wrap those minds around an industry that doesn’t work at all like it seems in the movies. So I thought some pointed and concise answers to these 3 questions would be helpful.

1) Who sells books to bookstores?
The quickest answer is no one. That’s because bookstores don’t need to buy books this way anymore. They used to have to try to guess which books were going to succeed the way a mutual fund manager picks stocks. They employed buyers who showed an ability to be right more often than they were wrong, and their profits from when they were right would more than make up for when they are wrong. Now, all a bookstore has to do is look to see what is selling on their website. So they laid off all those buyers. They can carry an infinite number of books on their site and a finite number of books on their shelves. The ones that sell best on their sites make it to their shelves. Your publisher fills orders that bookstores place, but they are not out there trying to convince bookstores to guess when they have no good reason to do so. Buyers for stores now watch trends on their sites and in their stores to determine what to order.

2) Why should I buy copies of my own book?
Simple: To sell them. You don’t have to become a slick salesperson or open your own bookstore to do so. You do need to learn how to connect to the natural audience for your book. Unless you have an audience clamoring for everything you write, you will sell more books this way than any other way, you will make money per book, and you will get it faster. And if you do it right, it is the easiest way to sell books. (Ask any of the millions of authors who have tried to push their way into bookstores.) It’s also a lot of fun because you’re spending your time among like-minded people. The more time you spend among them and the more people read your book, the more you’re seen as a leader. That increases your opportunities and the cycle continues upward to greater and greater success.

3) What should a marketing consultant do for me?
There are three things a good marketing consultant does that you can’t do for yourself:
1) Get your book in distribution – Really, this is what a publisher is for. If your consultant doesn’t work with a publisher, they may still have contacts to help you. This is what makes your book available to bookstores. In all likelihood, your book will start on their website before it is physically in a store, but it can’t rise up the list if it isn’t on their site. Tate Publishing, who I work for, does all that for our authors with every major retailer and distributor.
2) Teach you how to grow your audience – You can do this yourself, but book marketing consultants have the benefit of not only our own experience, but the experience of every author that we’ve worked with. We know the most common potholes and pitfalls to avoid. We know the things that are most likely to produce positive results. Most importantly, we know how to communicate this to you.
3) Publicize your events, your release, and your achievements – Again, you can contact the media yourself, but do you know when are the appropriate times and who are the appropriate contacts to reach? We do. We also have the tools for doing so. Contacting the media and getting interest back are two different things, but you can’t get the latter without the former. If you aren’t getting media coverage, it’s not because our team is bad. It is because you, your book, your message, and your activity are not yet noteworthy enough. That’s a sign that you need to do more or give yourself more time to grow your audience.

Most authors would rather skip all this and just be a household name selling books without much effort. I wish there was a spell or an enchantment I could utter to make that happen, but I’m not a wizard or a genie. The real world doesn’t work that way.

There will be some who will interpret things I’m saying here as blaming the author or trying to escape my responsibility or some other nonsense. It is nonsense, but it is understandable, and I don’t blame you if you feel that way. However, this isn’t a judgment on the quality of your book, your message, or you as a person. It is a reality check to let you know where you stand on the track where you’re trying to run. If you haven’t seen the book sales you want to see — and getting no reports from your publisher means you’ve had no sales — then you are closer to the starting line than the finish line, and it is time to run.

If you are an author not signed to Tate Publishing, contact us and one of our acquisitions editors will be happy to talk to you.

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Filed under bookstores, Niche Marketing, Reputation building, retail marketing

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.

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Filed under bookstores, Reputation building, retail marketing

What Does the End of Borders Mean to You as an Author?

You might have heard it on the news. Maybe you read it here.

The question on the mind of every author — and everyone in the publishing industry — is, “What does this mean to me?”

Tate Publishing is preparing a statement, and I don’t know what the official word is yet. However, I wanted to share a couple of my thoughts as our leaders prepare theirs.

The first thought is this: DON’T PANIC! We’ve been saying for months that this could happen. We’ve also said that even if every single bookstore in America closed, we would still have a plan for our authors. Unlike most publishers, our plan for our authors’ success does not depend on anyone but us and our authors. Having others involved is great while it lasts, but we don’t rely on it. In fact, as independent bookstores have closed in large numbers, and other publishers have reacted by laying people off and shrinking production, Tate Publishing has added staff and increased production. June was a record month for book sales at Tate even as the economy sank again. Authors who follow our plan are succeeding. If you are following our plan, Borders closing means very little to you personally.

The second thought is this: There are some major points in the article linked above that I’ve been saying for a long time. Here’s one: most traditional publishers don’t have a plan beyond bookstores. Consider this quote from the article:

“It saddens me tremendously because it was a wonderful chain of bookstores that sold our books very well,” said Morgan Entrekin, the president and publisher of Grove/Atlantic, an independent publisher. “It’s part of the whole change that we’re dealing with, which is very confusing.”

It’s only confusing if your plan relies on things you can’t control. We’ve long told authors that they need to focus on the things they can control. Any author that spends any energy on trying to move bookstores without moving people to those stores is putting their fate and the fate of their book in someone else’s hands. With this in mind, Borders closing is a reminder to focus now more than ever on what you as the author can control.

Here’s another quote from the article:
The news exposed one of publishers’ deepest fears: that bookstores will go the way of the record store, leaving potential customers without the experience of stumbling upon a book and making an impulse purchase. In the most grim scenario, publishers have worried that without a clear place to browse for books, consumers could turn to one of the many other forms of entertainment available and leave books behind.

Not only has Tate NOT shared this fear, we’ve been saying this very thing for over a year. The experience of “stumbling upon a book” is alive and well on Amazon.com. While this is welcome news, I’ve never thought that any good plan includes much reliance on “stumbling”. Apparently most publishers haven’t noticed that consumers have been turning to many other forms of entertainment for decades. That doesn’t mean no one is reading books. It just means that they are less likely to choose them first. What does this mean to an author? That books, in and of themselves, are not as much of a draw as they used to be. Another mantra of mine stems from this: “Don’t lead with your book.” When seeking speaking engagements, focus on what you have to offer the audience in terms of your message. If they buy you and your message when you’re speaking, they’ll buy your book when you’re finished.

Finally, there’s this:

Publishers said with Borders gone, they would plan for smaller print runs and shipments.

This is yet another area where Tate is ahead of the curve. We’ve pioneered the business model of smaller print runs and shipments. The days of publishers killing thousands of trees with books they are just going to throw away may finally be coming to an end.

So if you published your book with Tate, be confident that your publisher has been prepared for this for a long time. In fact, if you go back to the emails you’ve received from your marketing rep and replay their phone conversations with you in your head, you’ll realize that your publisher has been preparing you for this for a long time. And don’t forget that we’re here to help you implement the plan.

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