The Book Designer | Practical Advice To Help Build Better Books
Practical advice to help build better books. Writers change the world one reader at a time. But you can't change the world with a book that's unpublished. Self-publishing puts your book in readers' hands.
When most new publishers think of selling ebooks, the first place they think of is Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program.
This makes sense — after all, Amazon represents somewhere between sixty and eighty percent of the world English market for ebooks. Who wouldn’t want to have their book sold in the biggest storefront of all?
Amazon has created a program — KDP Select — that rewards publishers for offering their titles exclusively through the Kindle Store. A lot of publishers — and not just new ones — decide to put all of their eggs in the Amazon basket. They make some compelling arguments for why they do so.
I don’t — do so, that is. With almost all of the books that I publish, I sell wide — that is, at as many retail and distribution outlets as possible, in addition to the ‘Zon.
I’d like to explain why.
What is KDP Select?
Before we discuss the relative merits of selling wide or sticking exclusively to Amazon, we need to look at what the KDP Select exclusive program actually entails.
First of all, it’s a fully voluntary, opt-in program — just because you’re selling on Amazon doesn’t mean that they get exclusive rights to sell your ebook. You have to enroll each title — just because you’ve got one ebook exclusively at the Kindle Store doesn’t mean you can’t sell another on the iBooks Store, the Nook Store, Kobo, Google Play, and hundreds of other retail sites.
To enroll a title (and we’ll discuss why and whether you should or shouldn’t do that in a moment), you can opt in either while creating the book after.
To enroll while first setting up the book on KDP, check the box on the Kindle eBook Pricing pane:
To enroll afterward, just click on the Enroll in KDP Select button in the KDP dashboard:
Once you’ve signed up, whether at publication time or after, the title is locked in for a term of 90 days. In order to have the title remain enrolled, you have to keep that box checked — which it will until you go in there and change something.
In order to remove your title, on the other hand, you have to uncheck the box, and then wait until the term expires.[i] Selling on another retailer before the term is up will almost certainly earn you a nasty email from the folks at KDP, and will get the title bounced from the program, and, if you’ve made the mistake before, may get it banned or your account closed.
By the way, just in case I haven’t made it clear, unless you sign up your book for KDP Select, you get no benefit at all out of selling exclusively on Amazon — aside from saving yourself the time of setting up another account or accounts elsewhere, and having to account for income from more than one source, lucky you. So if you decide to go steady with Amazon, you absolutely must sign each book up in the KDP Select program in order for it to profit from it.
The Benefits of Going Exclusive
So what do you get during those ninety days — or more?
Back when I first started selling ebooks, eight years ago, there were some nice benefits to enrolling in KDP Select. Although Amazon has added and subtracted over the years, there still are.
The current list of benefits includes:
Making your title available through the KindleUnlimited (KU) subscription service
Increased royalties in some non-US markets
That’s about it. Over the years, there have been some other goodies that Amazon offered its loyal exclusive publishers — for example, for a while having your ebook in KDP Select was the only way that you could advertise it on Amazon using Amazon Marketing Services.[ii]
For now, however these are the perks of going steady with Amazon.
This is Amazon’s ebook subscription service — a “Netflix for ebooks” setup.[iii]
The reader can “borrow” up to ten KindleUnlimited titles at a time, all for the low, low price of $9.99/month. For folks who read in bulk — the folks who are our bread and butter — this is a very nifty deal.
From the publisher point of view, here’s how it works:
Amazon estimates the number of “pages” based on the wordcount of your book. (They call this count the title’s Kindle Estimated Normal Pages or KENP.)[iv]
When a reader checks out the book, Amazon keeps track of the highest-numbered page that the reader has reached.[v] — You can keep track of “page reads” on your KDP sales reports.
Each month, Amazon announces how much money all of the KU-enrolled books will share. (It’s usually a bit over $20 million.)
That war chest gets divided by the total number of KENP “read” during the month — that’s the share each KENP earns that month.
Amazon multiplies your total number of KENP for all titles that month by the share, and adds that to your royalties.
This is the most prominent benefit for most publishers — so much so that they’ll tell that they’re enrolled not in KDP Select (the back-end program) but in KindleUnlimited (the one that customers see that’s just one of the KDP Select benefits).
Back when KU first started up, the system was simpler: each “borrow” earned a share — it worked out to somewhere between $1.40 and $1.60 a shot. This meant that it made much more sense to offer short titles on KU.[vi] Those of us netting $1.50 for a $0.99 short story were very happy, but a lot of novelists got very grumpy about earning the same amount on their 800-page $7.99 epic. Eventually, readers complained about the preponderance of short fiction in the KU library. So Amazon switched over to the new version in 2014.
Now it makes sense to offer the longest possible title. Since the typical per-KENP share is about 46/100 of a penny,[xii] you’re only going to make any money at all if people are reading your stuff in bulk. For example, if someone reads all of the way to the final page of a fairly typical 300 KENP book, it stands to earn at most $1.38. If the reader puts the book down after only 50 “pages”? You’ll make $0.23.
Because the total amount of money that Amazon splits for a particular month is fixed, this has made it particularly vulnerable to scamming, and particularly maddening for the honest publisher — your only recourse in order to earn more is to raise the total number of pages read, which means either marketing the heck out of every title you’ve got enrolled in the program (which you were hopefully doing already), offering more titles (possibly pulling them off of other retailers to qualify them for KU), or offering longer books. But as more and more and longer and longer titles go up on KU, the value of each KENP share goes down. In business terms, the value of the stock is diluted. Supply and demand.
That’s why, even though Amazon increases the size of the total pot by a bit nearly every month, the value of each KENP share has steadily been declining, and why I found my KDP Select earnings evaporating.
There are two types of promotions — Free and Countdown. In either case, you can offer the title for up to five days in a 90-day enrollment period, though during that period you can only offer one or the other of these promotions — not both.
Also, you can only offer them (at the moment) on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (the US and British sites). These won’t help you on Amazon’s sites in Canada, Australia, or India, for example (the other large English-language ebook markets), or on any of the major (non-British) European storefronts like Amazon.de or Amazon.fr. [viii]
I recently discussed the benefits (or lack thereof) of offering an ebook title for free. Suffice to say, at this point there’s not an enormous benefit to going temporarily free this way — the only real benefit might be getting some “verified purchaser” reviews or pulling a few new readers into a series. If you’re a relative unknown or early in the release of a book, that might make such a promo worthwhile.
The countdown promo is fun; it offers you one or more promotional price over the period of the promo — and keeps a countdown timer going that announces just how much time readers have before the price goes up. This is a classic marketing ploy to take advantage of customers’ fear of missing out (the famous FOMO effect).
One other nice thing about the countdown promo: it’s the only way you can get a full 70% royalty[ix] for a title priced (temporarily) under $2.99.
I have to say, I loved these when Amazon first introduced them. Unlike freebie promos, you got to keep the momentum you earned by selling more books at the lower price — that is, you keep the improved book rank. This means that your book will show up in more bestseller lists, will appear earlier on more “also bought” lists, and so will be more discoverable.
However, I have found that they seem to be less effective than they used to. The last few times I ran a countdown promotion, the sales barely increased over their usual level. In a couple of cases, they actually went down. So I actually ended up losing money. Now, I didn’t spend a lot of energy or money promoting those sales, but perhaps, given the lukewarm response, you’ll see why I might have been loath to pour my limited marketing resources into them.
70% Royalty in More Markets
The preferred royalty for most publishers selling their books is the 70%[x] that Amazon offers for ebooks priced between $2.99 and $9.99 — or other markets’ equivalents thereof.
However, even if your ebook is priced in Amazon’s “Goldilocks Zone,”[xi] there are certain Amazon country sites where you only get the 70% royalty if your book is offered through KDP Select. Those country sites are:
I do want to point out one thing: in none of these nations is English the primary language. I know that’s fairly self-evident — and the non-UK European countries aren’t anglophone either — but if you are writing and publishing in English (which, if you are reading this, seems likely), then you are unlikely to sell a huge volume of your books in those markets.
And, to be honest, you’ll probably sell more copies in those countries through retailers other than Amazon.
Which leads us to…
The Benefits of Going Wide
Back in 2014, when Amazon instituted the new KENP system for calculating KU earnings, I had about 50% of my titles enrolled in KDP Select — most of them short stories that earned incredibly well per borrow, and that served as “loss leaders” that lost me, in fact, nothing. Folks would read a short story by one of my authors (earning us both a royalty), then read one of the longer works, netting us more. Nice.[xiii]
This lovely symbiosis disappeared with the KENP setup and its emphasis on longer KU titles.
Since then, I’ve stopped enrolling titles in the program, and over the past year I’ve slowly been letting the enrolled titles lapse. At this point I have just one KDP Select title.
The rest of my titles — about eighty by twenty authors — are offered wide.[xiv] That is, they’re available on Amazon, but also on Apple, Kobo, B&N, Google, Overdrive, ScribD and many, many more.
Well, unlike the KDP Select program, the three benefits here are really simple:
I can earn more money.
I can please more of my readers.
I’m not encouraging monopolistic behavior.
Earn more money
This is what it’s all about, right?
Back when I was making a lot of money from KU, I earned as much money or more from “borrows” as from sales. Given that Amazon represents over 60% of my revenue in any given year, it made sense to have titles exclusive to the KDP Select program.
That’s no longer true, at least for me.
Most “wide” indie and self-publishers report that sales on Amazon represent 60%–85% of their ebook revenue. Myself, last year, I earned 62% of my ebook royalties through Kindle sales. In my most Amazon-slanted years I’ve earned about 80% of my ebook income from Jeff Bezos’s company.
That’s a lot.
However, I do wish to point out that that leaves 20%–38% of my income that wasn’t earned through Kindle sales.
I’d also like to point out that, while Amazon holds all but a monopoly on US ebook sales, outside the country it is a far, far less dominant market. The more my sales have gone international, the more I rely on channels like Kobo and Apple, and on distributors like Smashwords, PublishDrive, and Draft2Digital.
Still: 62% of my ebook revenue for 2017 was earned from Amazon.
Now, over the past year, for those titles that were enrolled in KDP Select, KU “borrows” represented 16% of the total revenue.
I haven’t found KDP Select promos or sales in non-English-speaking markets to make me any money at all.
So, at the very least, I was giving up 38% of the potential revenue for a book to make 16%.[xv]
I can’t see how that possibly makes business sense.
I know that some publishers feel that KU “borrows” lead to sales of other titles. I haven’t found that to be the case; I think that KU readers have gotten to the point where they read KU books, but are less likely to pay for books outside the program. It’s like the folks who only read free ebooks — spending a lot of energy marketing to them probably isn’t worth the effort since they’re not likely ever to spend enough money to justify the expense.
I feel the same way about KU subscribers.
I’d rather earn the extra 38% by distributing wide, thanks.
Pleasing the readers
Back in the early days of ebooks, folks followed the authors. They didn’t care (quite as much) what store they had to buy from — they’d buy your book wherever.
This is still somewhat true.
However, we have developed habits of ebook reading and buying, and most of our readers want to able to buy and read the book where they want to buy and read it, not to have to chase it down and convert it.
Me, I’m weird. I own four Kindles, two iPads, two iPhones, and an old Nook.[xvi] I buy ebooks from a wide variety of ebook stores. Most folks don’t: they have one they like to stick to.
I want to meet my readers where they are, and not force them to come to me — especially when the format is a non-standard, proprietary form like the Amazon mobi monster.
If my books are available everywhere — including libraries (distributed by Overdrive and others) — then not only can my readers find the book where they live, but a wider variety of readers can stumble onto my work. I’m more discoverable.
I use universal book links on my site to make it as easy as possible for readers to take advantage of this.
It keeps them happy.
Fighting the Man
Amazon is not an evil company. Not particularly, at least. It’s been very good to me — to most of us. Amazon has made the independent publishing revolution of the past decade+ possible.
And yet it sits atop the publishing world like the proverbial 800-pound gorilla. It already engages in occasional forays into monopolistic behavior — a few years back, Amazon’s Audible Creative Exchange (ACX) for independently produced audiobooks lowered the royalty rate for new titles from 50% to 40% overnight. Publishers and producers had absolutely no recourse, since Audible (and through it iTunes, which uses Audible as its exclusive source for audiobooks) account for something over 90% of the rapidly expanding English-language audiobook market. [xvii] Where else were we going to go?
Likewise, Amazon’s tendency to offer goods (including print books) at very low (and sometimes even negative) margins with free delivery has been driving competitors out of the marketplace. Don’t even get big publishers started about the kinds of pressures that Amazon exerts on them.
The ebook market is not yet as monolithic — and that is the only thing that stops Amazon from dropping our royalty rates just as they did on ACX or requiring exclusivity (rather than offering it as an option).
I want to keep it that way — I think it’s in all of our best interests — and so I make sure to support Amazon’s competitors by offering nearly all of my titles to them as well. I may be small potatoes, but there are lots of us indie publishers, and if we make sure not to put too many of our free-range artisanal eggs in Amazon’s Whole Foods basket, we can ensure that Bezos & Co. will continue to treat us with respect.
I know that selling wide isn’t for everyone, but it’s the path that I chose.
What do you think?
[i] Don’t forget to set a reminder to start selling the no-longer-exclusive title elsewhere after it isn’t part of KDP Select anymore!
[ii] This is now available to anyone with a KDP account.
[iii] There are a few other companies that offer similar schemes for reading as many ebooks as you want for a single monthly (or annual) subscription — most notably ScribD. Amazon’s has a huge marketing advantage though… because it’s connected to Amazon.
[iv] These “pages” have nothing to do with the actual page count, for example, of your paperback edition. Likewise, they have nothing to do with the line-spacing or font-size you employ, though some folks seem to be convince this is the case.
[v] This is via the same WhisperSync technology that allows for you to sync up the page on two different Kindles, or between the ebook and audiobook editions. By the way, because it’s the LAST page read, not the actual number of pages TURNED, black-hat types have engaged in a fair amount of skullduggery to massively inflate their numbers. Google “KindleUnlimited page scams” if you want to see what I mean. But imagine if you will an ebook made up of 2998 pages culled from public-domain government reports. On the first page there’s a link that reads CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR A NEW TESLA! The link transports the reader to page 3000 — since that’s the maximum page count Amazon will allow — where you find another link, this one to a raffle for a toy car on a somewhat scammy website. Voilà! That book has now earned 3000 KENP! (It’s supposed to be against KDP Select terms of service, but it’s a scam that keeps managing to be run. You’ll see why that’s particularly awful for you, the honest publisher, in a minute.)
[vi] I benefitted gloriously from this setup.
[vii] And dropping steadily.
[viii] This means that if you get a BookBub promotion, for example, you’ll only be able to use the KDP Select promotions in those two countries — the US and UK.
[ix] Minus $0.15/MB “transport fee” — grr.
[x] Minus $0.15/MB “transport fee” — grr2.
[xi] You know — not too low, not too high, but just right.
[xii] I’ve never made much selling ebooks in India, though obviously that’s a rapidly expanding market. The thing is, not only is English not the sole or even primary language — though it’s still very widely spoken and read — but the cost of living there is still lower than in most other Amazon markets, so higher-priced ebooks tend not to sell very well. You have to price competitively — under 100 rupees, which is worth a bit over a dollar. And if you price under 99 rupees, you’re only going to get the 35% royalty rate even if the book is enrolled in KDP Select.
[xiii] BTW, just in case you’re unclear on what Amazon means by “exclusive” — no, you can’t bundle KDP Select-enrolled titles and sell the collection elsewhere, nor can you sell individual titles wide, but offer the bundle on KU. Nope. No can do. Exclusive means exclusive, in parts and as a whole.
[xiv] There is a series of titles that I’m helping the Joseph Campbell Foundation offer through KDP Select — but that’s because they’ve got an agreement with Amazon to market their new combined ebook/audiobook releases this year that keeps the titles exclusive to Amazon for the first year. Sales from those releases figures into my data, since I think they’re illustrative.
[xv] I recognize this isn’t a very sophisticated analysis. Dammit, Jim, I’m an editor, not an accountant! But the point remains.
[xvi]A side-effect of designing ebooks for a living. My family is considering holding an intervention.
[xvii]There are now a couple of alternative ways to release ebooks to a wider variety of stores, including Author Republic.
I’m happy to announce we’ve just published The Book Blueprint, 252 pages of tips, advice, and plenty of guidance for authors who want to create print books.
Whether you are using print-on-demand or offset printing, print books have specific demands—and hundreds of years of conventions—that you need to address when designing your book and creating your production and marketing plans.
“If you’re embarking on the adventure of making a print book, keep this blueprint by your elbow as a guide, checklist, and reassurance.”
—Orna Ross, Founder, Alliance of Independent Authors
I’ve spent a long career as an award-winning book designer with, I believe (this is an estimate), over 20,000 books published based on my designs.
Now I want to make sure you succeed with your print books.
As more and more indie authors widen their reach and their marketing, print books will play a bigger and bigger role in their plans.
With this new book at hand, you’ll be ready to take advantage of the opportunities in print books. In The Book Blueprint learn:
How to pick fonts for your book interiors and covers, including lots of free options
Why readers expect your books to be “industry-standard”
Step-by-step instructions to handle short-run offset book printers
Keys to understanding the “language of printing”
Making the decision between print-on-demand and offset printing
Tips on design details like running heads, text breaks, and indexes for your book
Expert advice for preparing your Word files for book production
If you’re planning to see your book on bookshelves in bookstores, you’ll find lots of advice and tips to help you in this book.
Title: The Book Blueprint
Subtitle: Expert Advice for Creating Industry-Standard Print Books
Author: Joel Friedlander
ISBN: 978-0-936385-45-7 (trade paper) 978-0-936385-48-8 (ebook)
Category: Book Design / Self-Publishing
Pub Date: May 18, 2018
Size: 5-1/2″ x 8-1/2″
Price: $17.95 (trade paper) / $9.95 (ebook)
Table of Contents
I. Putting Together Your Manuscript 5
The Parts of a Book 7
Understanding Book Language 13
Getting Your Manuscript Ready for Publication 19
Hyphens, Em Dashes, En Dashes—Everything You Needto Know 23
Cleaning Up Your Word Files 29
The Local Formatting Problem 39
II. Interior Design 45
Book Trim Sizes 47
Book Design Materials 55
Book Design Workflow Overview 59
Elements of the Book Page 61
The Title Page 65
The Copyright Page 69
Understanding Book Layouts and Page Margins 73
What Is Pagination? 77
Choosing Your Paragraphing Style 87
Chapter and Part Openers 91
Designing Your Text Breaks 103
How to Design Running Heads 109
Picking Fonts for Your Book 117
My 10 Favorite Fonts for Interior Design 121
How to Format the Index for Your Book 127
Book Interior Mistakes to Avoid 135
III. Cover Design 139
Three Secrets to Book Cover Design Success When
Selling Online 145
Print and Ebook Covers, a Matter of Resolution 149
Tips on Cover Design 153
Five Great Fonts for Book Covers 157
How to Create Artwork to Foil, Stamp, and Emboss Your Books 165
Don’t Make These Cover Design Mistakes 171
IV. Printing 175
3 Ways to Print Books 177
5 Book Binding Styles Illustrated 181
Print on Demand or Offset Printing: Which Is Right for Your Book? 189
Finding and Working with Offset Printers 193
Understanding the Language of Printing 197
Getting Offset Printing Estimates for Your Book 203
Offset Printing Estimate in Detail 207
Print-on-Demand Book Publishing 213
Designing for Print-on-Demand Production 219
4 Crucial Checks Before You Publish 225
How to Check Your Book Proof in 3 Simple Steps 229
V. Working with Professionals 233
Working with Cover and Interior Designers 235
“Joel includes well written, easy to understand information which, in this case, will answer almost all of your questions on publishing a print version of your book.”
—David Bergsland, The Skilled Workman
The Book Blueprint brings together all my best writing on how to create beautiful, industry-standard print books. It’s available in print and ebook formats.
I sincerely hope it helps you reach your own publishing goals. Use this link to find out more: The Book Blueprint (Amazon)
The holiday weekends of the summer have commenced here in North America. For many, these weekends are all about relaxing, maybe going camping and getting back in touch with nature. Often part of that relaxation includes reading a good book. Just think! Maybe this time next year, someone will be reading YOUR book!
Be sure to check back here next Sunday for our Carnival of the Indies blog carnival. You won’t want to miss it!
Sandra Beckwith on Build Book Buzz How to interact with readers on Goodreads
““I can’t figure out Goodreads!” … It’s a common author lament. While Goodreads is a social network of sorts, the site for book lovers doesn’t look, feel, or operate like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms you might use.”
Nate Hoffelder on The Digital Reader Nate’s Big List of eBook Market Analytic Tools
“Finding the right niche / genre / keywords to market your book, and then parsing the sales data once your ebook is on the market, can mean the difference between a best-seller book and one no one has ever heard of.”
Ali Luke on Aliventures Everything You Need to Know About Writing Brilliant Blog Posts
“Over the last eight years, I’ve written hundreds (probably thousands!) of blog posts for dozens of different blogs. … I’ve also written quite a bit about blogging. e looking for data about an industry or you want to follow current trends, following are some resources to use.”
Deadline for General Data Protection Regulation requirements
May 25th is when the deadline for General Data Protection Regulation requirements go into affect. You may have heard these initials GDPR, but what do they mean to you? If you are an author or publisher with a mailing list or blog with a subscription feature these are the main things to keep in mind:
Companies must provide “reasonable” security for personal data collected. (What “reasonable” means we shall soon see as things unfold)
Data breaches and lack of security around personal data collected might result in fines up to 4% of your global income.
While these rules are for the 28 countries in the European Union, most of us have names and data from folks from the Union.
Which companies does the GDPR affect?
Any company that stores or processes personal information about EU citizens within EU states must comply with the GDPR, even if they do not have a business presence within the EU. Specific criteria for companies required to comply are:
A presence in an EU country.
No presence in the EU, but it processes personal data of European residents.
More than 250 employees.
Fewer than 250 employees but its data-processing impacts the rights and freedoms of data subjects, is not occasional, or includes certain types of sensitive personal data. That effectively means almost all companies.
If you’re an author in today’s cut-throat competitive marketplace, you need every advantage to convince readers that they should spend their time and money with you versus the millions of other authors.
One of the best ways to do that is by becoming an expert in one or more topics that tie into your book, and then promoting that expertise everywhere. This remains one of the biggest missed opportunities I see among those who write fiction or nonfiction.
Last month, I offered consulting sessions for several authors who registered for the Nonfiction Writers Conference, hosted by Stephanie Chandler. Each had expertise in at least one topic. But you’d never know that by looking at their marketing materials, book covers or websites.
Most looked like just another author who had written a book. I saw little that separated them from their competitors. Smart authors view their books as calling cards. They snag readers, bring them into a sales funnel, then razzle dazzle them with knowledge and sell more to them later.
If all you want to do, however, is write and sell books and you’re content to be a tiny fish in an ocean of competition, you can stop reading now. Go back to writing your book.
But If you’re up to the challenge, it’s time to learn what you must do to become an expert.
The 5 Levels of Expertise
Many authors dislike the idea of promoting themselves as experts because they’re introverts. Or they fear that someone will accuse them of being a phony or ask, “What makes you think you’re an expert?”
Expertise has several levels. Here’s how I identify them, from lowest to highest:
1. A Perceived Authority
The fact that you’ve written a book gives you a head start in this category. Most authors do mountains of research, even fiction authors who must verify the historical accuracy of their novels. A perceived authority knows more than most other people about a specific topic and can answer questions extemporaneously. Many nonfiction authors have life experience in their area of expertise. Others create content such as articles, blogs, newsletters, videos and White Papers.
2. A Teacher/Educator
This includes authors who are on the speaking circuit either as keynoters or workshop presenters, or those who teach classes at colleges and universities or for local adult ed programs.
You don’t have to be in front of huge audiences, however. Some authors spend most of their times speaking and selling books at library events. If you host webinars, teleseminars or Facebook Live events, you too are a teacher or educator. Ditto if you create your own products other than books.
3. A Star in a Niche or Industry
Stars are sought after by others. Meeting planners invite them to do keynote presentations before industry groups. The media contact them for comments on the news of the day. Podcasters invite them for interviews.
Most stars have large platforms online, including thousands of followers on social media. Some hold copyrights, trademarks and patents. Others are leaders in their trade associations.
4. A Counselor/Mentor
These authors know their topics so well that they can take others under their wings, either as private coaching clients one-on-one or in group coaching. They often host their own training events and meet most of the criteria listed in the first three categories above.
Counselors and mentors frequently get clients through referrals from other professionals who trust them. This is one of the best ways to make money: introduce yourself to readers via your book, share your knowledge and let them know you’re available when they need help.
5. An Influencer/Thought Leader
These are the go-to people in their fields of expertise. Most have a strong personal brand that their followers can identify easily. They are passionate about their topic and never satisfied that they “know it all.” Many have had their own mentors. They network frequently with and learn from other thought leaders.
As the five levels above show, expertise isn’t only about what you know. More importantly, it’s about what you do. A PhD who has done nothing with his degree isn’t as impressive an expert as a college drop-out who has started her own business and become so successful that she now mentors others who want to follow in her footsteps.
How to Promote Your Expertise
You’ll be happy to hear that promoting your expertise isn’t nearly as difficult as acquiring it. In fact, many of these ideas are simple to implement. Here are 15 ways to promote your expertise:
1. On your website
Is the word “expert” or “expertise” on the home page? Here’s my headline and blurb that explains who I am and what I do. I’ve added the yellow highlighter only for this article.
Also use “expert” or “expertise” on pages that discuss your consulting, and coaching and mentor programs.
2. In your marketing materials
These include all the pieces in your author media kit, including your bio.
3. In your 15-second elevator pitch or introduction
When you’re attending an event and you hear people introducing themselves, pay attention to how many refer to themselves as experts. Almost no one!
4. On your nametag
They might not remember your name, but if they see the words “Privacy Expert,” they’ll certainly remember what you do.
5. On the back and inside covers of your book
Sure, you write sizzling Civil War novels. But won’t readers be more impressed if they know you’re an expert in Civil War clothing, weapons or courtship?
6. In your email signature
Think of all the people who you email in only one week. Don’t miss a chance to let them know about your expertise.
7. On your social media
This can include your social media profiles, as well as banners on sites like LinkedIn and Facebook, and your LinkedIn headline.
8. In author resource boxes
This super-short copy appears at the end of articles and guest blog posts you write.
9. In your speaker introductions you write for public speaking engagements
My introduction begins, “Publicity expert Joan Stewart…” Never let a meeting planner or the person who is introducing you write your introduction or it will be a disaster. Write your own and ask your introducer to practice it.
10. In content you share
Use the words “expert” and “expertise” in video titles, tags and descriptions for YouTube videos. That’s what I did in this testimonial video at my YouTube channel.
Also use it in YouTube playlist titles and in “Click to tweet” reminders.
12. On Amazon and other book review and book recommendation sites
Include it in your Amazon book description and your Author Central profile. When you write book reviews, follow this example: “As an expert in identity theft, I was impressed with the author’s clear explanation of….”
13. During media interviews
The media seek experts to interview. So don’t be shy about asking them to refer to you as a “[fill in the blank] expert.”
14. In pop-up boxes
The Rev. Misty Tyme mentions it when she asks visitors to join her email list and receive free tips.
15. In written or video testimonials you offer to others
It gives your testimonials added weight.
Other authors would love to hear what you’re doing to become an expert in your topic, or how you’re promoting your expertise. The Comments section awaits…
Although the indie publishing world sometimes seems to be populated by young entrepreneurial authors, in fact a lot of writers publishing books today are at the other end of the spectrum—senior citizens.
It may be hard to pin down what exactly we mean by “older authors,” but I generally take it to mean people 50 years of age and over who haven’t published their own books before.
And this is a particularly good age for anyone who has dreamt of writing a book to actually do so. And there’s never been a better time for these people to publish, either.
Why Seniors Should Self-Publish
One way to look at the span of human development is through the lens of three major stages of life.
The first stage, from birth to young adulthood, when we are formed and educated
The second stage, what you would consider our “working” life, when we make our way in the world and raise a family
The third stage, after we are done with the basics of establishing ourselves and enter into the indeterminate phase before our time runs out
It’s this third stage of life I’m talking about.
Once you’ve lived 50 or more years, you have a different perspective on life. The crazy energy and passion of youth are great memories, and the long development of skills and expertise we’ve gathered in parenting and making a living are gradually coming to an end.
Many of the normal developments of life create a positive environment for those who want to set to work putting a book into the world.
What kind of positive environment?
Time, as the weight of worldly responsibilities begins to lift
Disposable income, because older people have had a lifetime to save
Skills gained during your career that may come in useful in writing and publishing
Community, gathered from friends and shared experiences throughout life
Technology that has brought low-risk book publishing into the realm of possibility
Wisdom that comes from a longer perspective on life, one that only time can bestow
In addition, there are very compelling reasons seniors take to writing and publishing their own books:
Giving back—After a lifetime of accumulating, older people often want to give something back to society, to the culture that has allowed them to thrive, or to a group our cause that has enriched their own lives. This can be a powerful motive for writing a book.
Family legacy—A lot of seniors want to memorialize their own knowledge of their family tree and leave personal accounts of relatives who will be seen as ancestors by succeeding generations.
Eyewitness to history—Seniors today may have lived through, been affected by, or even participated in World War II, the Korean war, the civil rights conflict, the Vietnam war, the rise of a counterculture, the advent of technology, and all the other tumultuous events of the past decades. Memoirs that revolve around these kinds of events are a great reason to publish.
The call of the storytelling gene—Surveys consistently show that over 80% of Americans would like to write a book someday, yet few actualize this dream. However, more and more people take the leap because it has become easier, faster, and less expensive than ever before.
Passive income for retirement—While most senior self-publisher publish for reasons that have nothing to do with profit, there are also many who would like to create additional revenue to help in retirement. This will move an author into the ranks of the entrepreneurs, but it’s a path that can work well for the right authors.
Working on the “bucket list”—Do you have “finally write that book” on your bucket list? If so, you know your time isn’t unlimited, and that book won’t write itself, will it?
Michele DeFilippo, owner of 1106 Design, and someone who helps many seniors self-publish, tells me that “Many seniors publish a book to share the wisdom they have accumulated over a lifetime. Sometimes the books are published for personal satisfaction and distribution to family and friends only and the authors don’t expect to recoup their production costs. Other times, the authors embark on a full marketing plan to share their wisdom with a wider audience.”
Perhaps you have your own reason; an idea you came up with that you’d like to spread more widely; a unique theory of historical development; innovations you created during your working life.
Michele goes on: “Topics range from family recollections, stories of growing up in a certain region, life advice for the younger generation, or a medical professional setting down a lifetime of discoveries that were ignored by peers during a long career. The topics are endless.”
All the same benefits will accrue no matter what subject you write on, but keep in mind that the audience for some of these books is going to be very, very small.
Ruth Schwartz, a publishing expert with lots of senior clients, says “Many seniors feel compelled to write their memoirs for their family members. However, I have seen many senior memoir authors get interested in getting the word out wider than family, once the book is finished. Then there are others who have been writing for a long time in a variety of genres and feel like it is now or never, that they had better get off the dime if their books are going to see the light of day.”
Obstacles that Seniors Confront
It’s important for senior authors—for every author, really—to understand their own motivations going into the publishing process, because it’s going to take time and dedication to get to the point where you have a copy of your book in your hand.
Most of these authors I’ve dealt with over the years aren’t driven so much by the chance to make money on their books, but for the reasons mentioned above.
Judith Briles, known as The Book Shepherd, deals with many seniors who want to publish, and loves doing it. She emphasizes this point as well, saying, “I become a creative partner with my clients as the book is shaped, always with ‘how’ the book will be visually presented and marketed… narrowing down the WHO the book is for; the WHY, and CORE of what brings them to create the book; then the HOW it will be pushed out, via which marketing avenues. For me, it’s important to get on the table what the author’s true objective is and what they are willing do on his or her side to deliver it.”
The three obstacles I see most often that bedevil seniors in book publishing can be summarized:
Technology—Let’s face it, many seniors are uncomfortable with the technology we use to produce and market our books. Simply putting up a website for the book can be a daunting challenge unless the author can learn this herself, or finds someone to help.
Finances—Many seniors are living on a fixed income, and that may not allow for expenses like a custom professional cover design. Luckily, there are more and more low- or no-cost offers that can blunt this problem. Seniors, like all authors, need to realize that the goals they’ve set for the book should determine how the book is published.
Confidence—If you’ve never had a “public voice” or taken a stand or put yourself out into a public arena, it’s normal to be uncertain or wary of what the effects may be. Luckily, social media sites like Facebook are giving seniors a way to experience publish “sharing” gradually.
If seniors can get over the technology problem, they will find that new publishing processes are really assets in controlling the costs and risks of book publishing. As Ruth Schwartz says, “Print on demand has certainly helped seniors (and others) move forward, actually making getting a book published a reality. That’s not how it used to be in the experience of these seniors.”
And Judith Briles points out, seniors also need to confront the question of what kind of author they want to be: “Do they just want to write? which is fine, or do they want to get their book published so others can read it? If they just want to write, I encourage them to join local writer’s groups and have fun writing. If they want to publish, then start connecting with authors who are also writing to publish or who are already published. Learn some of the ins and outs and understand that they are vulnerable to the growing number of publishing predators. Their writing time should be matched by “learning” time.”
This last point can’t be over-emphasized. Just like scammers selling fake reverse mortgage or tax schemes, there are “bad operators” in the indie publishing world, and seniors need to be educated and informed to make good decisions.
Seniors Can Write and Publish, Too!
I’m not sure it’s very well known that some of our most famous and successful authors started very late in life. Examples include Laura Ingalls Wilder (Little House on the Prarie) and Frank McCourt (Angela’s Ashes) among many others.
Judith Briles says, “What’s exciting for me in working with many in the post-60 area is their enthusiasm for writing and eagerness to learn what publishing is all about. Those who come from a business background quickly ‘get’ that this is a business and their book will be a product. They are open to learning the multitude of ways to build fans and connect with them. Social media doesn’t spook them and they are open to getting help. Many have come from amazing backgrounds and have a story to tell.”
And for all those who help seniors get their books written and into print, Judith speaks to the satisfaction to be gained from this work: “For me, the ‘win’ is that I get to go through their history, marvel at their stories and experiences, and help shape them. For the authors, the pride is what they have accomplished and the mentoring that it delivers to new audiences. It tickles me as so many of the ‘silver hairs’ head to the classrooms and share their story telling gifts.”
If you’re a senior author, what has your experience been like? Let me know in the comments.
We like to help you to be in the know where self-publishing is concerned so check out this week’s selection of articles covering a variety of self-publishing related topics, and even a publishing controversy!
Melissa Bowersock on Indies Unlimited Getting Reviews: Voracious Readers Only
“Voracious Readers Only is an interesting website with a tantalizing concept. The premise is that voracious readers (you know who you are) can sign up and choose genres they’re interested in.”
Kristen Lamb on Kristen Lamb Cocky-Blocked: How to Nuke Your Brand From Orbit
“Call me cocky for even weighing in on this issue (at your own peril). But, seriously, folks. It’s rare to run across something so epically wrong AND foolish and…ironically, cocky. As an author branding expert, I’d be remiss NOT to say something about Cockygate (though I seriously hate having to).”
Ruth Ann Nordin on Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors Writers Shouldn’t Have to Fear the Future
“This post is inspired by a very unfortunate situation that has developed recently in the indie author community.”
Self-Published author, Zoe Aarsen, gets Hulu Series offer. Originally self-published on Wattpad, LIGHT AS A FEATHER, STIFF AS A BOARD has just been greenlighted for a 10-episode season. Aarsen is not the only author to get tapped by Hulu this week. What makes this announcement so juicy is that her self-published novel was optioned the same week that Hulu also signed a Stephen King story.
At a writer’s conference last week, I met a number of authors who were pitching their books to agents and the media. This month’s DTNT is based on what I saw and heard.
What They Did
Writers tried to pitch their books for foreign rights, media attention, or for publishing deals without knowing enough about their genre’s strong sellers.
A number of the writers I met last week knew a LOT about THEIR books, but did not know enough about the books and authors that were driving their genre. I also met a number of very talented writers who were pitching editors, journalists, agents and publishers without a full understanding of what the editors, journalists, agents and publishers were looking for.
What I Suggest
No matter where you are in the publishing process, it is imperative that you become very well-versed in the industry and genre that you are working in.
In the book world, the difference between an author and a writer is that authors are writers who are willing to learn about and invest the time needed to fully understand the business of publishing. Authors are writers that do more than just write. They actively participate in the publishing process. That starts with learning about the authors and books that make up their genre. It is a simple and easy first step to create an updated and current knowledge of the bestsellers and strong sellers in your genre.
USA TODAY Bestseller List
Start by going to the USA TODAY Bestseller list. What I love about this site is that you can sort by category AND you can look back on previous dates. This site and list is one of the fastest way to become familiar with the books and authors that are doing well in your genre. These are the books that are selling online and in stores everywhere.
Want an even deeper understanding and better idea of what titles and authors are driving your category? Amazon.com is the next step. This link will take you to a list of categories on Amazon. Click on your category and look to the left. You will see opportunities to see:
Spend some time on this part of the site and you will quickly start to become a well-informed author.
Time spent on this sort of research separates the hopeful authors from the successful authors. These two sites are only the beginning. They are not the complete answer to your industry research needs, but if you want to be a successful author, these first steps will help you in a number of ways, which brings us to:
What You Should Do Then
Once you have a list of the authors and books driving your genre, you can use that list in a myriad of ways. We call these COMPARABLE (Comp) TITLES and COMPARABLE (Comp) AUTHORS.
You can search for:
that mentioned and supported the comp authors on your list. The comp authors got a lot of reviews and press when THEIR book came out. Google their names and you will find a list of journalists and reviewers. You know that those reviewers and journalists have an interest in your type of book because they have shown interest in your type of book already.
You can find potential readers for your book on book sites like GoodReads. Searching book discussion sites is a terrific way to find readers of your genre and finding readers is the key to becoming a successful author.
You can use the sales and successes of a comp title to convince a buyer or librarians of the potential success of your book. Haven’t you ever heard “If you liked XXXX you will like YYYYY?”. Sure you have. If you enjoyed SPACE PUPPIES, then you will love DOGS IN SPACE!
You can share the success of other books in your genre to convince an editor or agent that your book’s topic is both needed and wanted.
Does it sound trite? Silly? Well, it works. It works beautifully. Every time.
Spend the time becoming an expert on your category and you will be in a better position than most to become a truly successful author. Stay vigilant and informed and you will be able to converse with, sell to, and negotiate with those in the publishing industry who hold the key to your success.
We’re sometimes asked by self-publishing authors about the role that beta readers, editors and Advance Reading (or Review) Copies (ARCs) play in the process of publishing and promoting a book. If you’ve ever had any questions, I think you’ll find this article by Craig Tuch (@HiddenGemsBooks) compares all three and explains how they can all be helpful. I think you’ll find it interesting.
For most of the writing process, telling your story was likely a very solitary process – leaving you alone with your characters and world for long stretches as you worked to get everything just right. And now, with the last paragraph written, it’s finally time to let other people read it.
I’m not talking about your fan base, though. We’re still not ready for them.
No, before we send it out in the world there are a whole set of other readers that may need to take a look at it first. And you don’t want to ignore these readers, because their sole purpose is to either make your book better or help you sell more copies.
I’m referring to beta readers, editors and ARC reviewers.
Although some of the lines between these three groups might seem a bit blurry, they each serve a distinct and important purpose in the writing process and should be involved at different points. Here’s a quick chart that summarizes some of those differences.
Main Benefit to Book
When to Involve
Near final draft
Clarity & Polish
Marketing & Sales
Final draft or publication copy
Let’s dive a bit deeper into each so you can decide for yourself what the differences are and whether you need to use them.
A beta reader is someone who reads your entire book and provides you with detailed feedback on your story and character. They’ll tell you what works and what doesn’t. Some examples:
Are your characters developed well enough? Did they act in ways that made sense with who they were?
Was your storyline easy to follow, or filled with plot holes?
Did they see your surprise twists coming a mile away?
A beta reader is giving you what might be the first impression of your book by someone other than yourself, so it’s important to take that feedback seriously. At the same time, it’s important to remember that everyone comes from different backgrounds and with different opinions, so it may be a good idea to get more than one beta reader involved. Just remember that you need to manage all of the comments that come back, and the more readers you have, the bigger that job will be.
What you do with that feedback is also up to you, and while there’s no rule that you have to act on each and every piece of criticism, it’s most important to at least focus on areas that multiple readers had issues with.
Of course, hearing anything negative about your labor of love might be tough on your ego, but it’s one of the most important steps to improving as a writer – and is also the reason why it’s rarely a good idea to ask your friends or family to beta read for you. Whether consciously or not, they may attempt to spare your feelings by not giving honest feedback, especially about problem areas. Luckily, there are plenty of other ways to find beta readers, so it’s best to try those avenues first.
Just keep in mind that beta readers are not editors or proofreaders. It’s not the beta’s job to find spelling and grammatical mistakes, and they likely aren’t trained to catch them all anyway. They should be focused on the bigger picture, which is why of the three groups, they should be involved earliest in the process. The plot or character issues they identify might require the most extensive changes to your story, so using them too late can risk having to do more extensive rewriting if you’re too far along. That being said, you still may want to wait at least until after your first draft, or even after what you consider to be your possible final draft.
The editor’s job is to help you polish your manuscript into something that’s ready to publish. Editors are far more suited, and trained, to do this than beta readers, and their services can be broken down into four different categories.
With the exception of developmental editing, these services would generally be used after you’ve incorporated the feedback from your beta readers into a final draft. Editors will go through your draft line by line, fixing or identifying issues.
Editing isn’t cheap, but at least some level of it is essential for all books. Exactly what level of service is needed is really project and author dependent, but here is a quick description of each type of editing service.
This is the most comprehensive (and consequently most expensive) service and looks at the content and structure of your book as a whole to help determine how it can be improved. This can be similar to beta readers but is done by a professional and usually on an early draft – or even just based on your early outlines and ideas. While hiring an editor would normally be done after beta reading, this is the one exception.
The purpose of this service is to comb through your book, line by line, fixing up stylistic and language issues in an effort to provide clarity. The line editor may also rearrange sentences or phrases to improve the overall flow of your paragraphs or chapters.
The copy editor is focused on finding grammar, spelling and punctuation issues, as well as checking for consistency within your story. For example, if your raven-haired beauty in chapter one is suddenly a fiery redhead in chapter four, that’s something they would note and either fix themselves or bring to your attention.
Note: Copy editing is similar enough with line editing that some editors just combine the two, while others provide the services separately.
The cheapest of all the editing services and usually the bare minimum for any book getting ready for publication, proofreaders are hired to do a last pass on your final draft. They’re looking for things like typos, extra or missing spaces, repeated words, or formatting issues. Since any further changes to your book run the risk of introducing more of these issues, proofreading should be done at the end, once all other beta reading and editing is complete.
Unlike beta readers or ARC reviewers, you usually only need a single editor to work on your book – or at the very least, a single editor per editing service – although many editors offer all of the above and sometimes provide discounts for buying multiple services for a single book.
Once the editing is done, your book is ready for the final group of readers.
ARC stands for Advance Review Copy (or Advance Reading Copy) and as the acronym suggests, it’s a complimentary copy of the book sent out in advance of publication so that reviewers can read it and post reviews before it hits the stores. For this reason, the ARC reviewers are the final group to get your book before it’s released out into the world.
Ideally, ARCs would be sent out in that space of time between getting your final, proofed copy back from your editor and publishing it – but depending on your timeline and how long it takes reviewers to actually read your book, that may not always be possible. However, it’s perfectly fine if reviews come in after publication, and in fact, some authors don’t even send their review copies out until after the book is available for sale.
Other authors choose to send ARCs that have not been fully proofread. While there is some risk with this strategy, as long as reviewers are warned ahead of time that the version they’ve been sent hasn’t gone through a final edit, they will hopefully refrain from calling out small issues in their review. But it would be unwise to send out a book any earlier than the final proofing stage, when larger issues may still exist.
But why do you even need reviews in the first place?
While the idea that free copies = more money sounds counterintuitive at first, some studies have shown that reviews actually make buyers 63% more likely to make a purchase, and produce an average of 18% more sales. But they can even help towards sales indirectly. Many marketing services, like Bookbub for instance, require books to have a certain number of reviews before they will promote them.
That means you need more than a handful of reviews, although how many you want is up to you and how you plan on getting them. Review services can make the process a lot easier for a price, but building your own team by seeking out bloggers or reviewers is time intensive.
Either way, unless you’re stacking the deck with friends, family or fans (none of which are recommended if you plan on having them review on Amazon, given their stringent rules about reviewer bias and affiliation), you may end up with at least a few unfavorable reviews. You can’t please everyone, and even the most critically acclaimed books ever have some bad reviews.
Craig Tuch has been involved in the writing community for many years, and during that time he was able to identify the difficulties that self-published and independent authors have in promoting, marketing and improving their books. Hidden Gems was started in 2015 and offers an ever-expanding list of services to over 1500 authors to help them reach more readers and sell more books.
Hope you had a great week! Below is my pick of some of this week’s best articles on self-publishing that you won’t want to miss. Find a comfy spot and dig in!
Chris Syme on Smart Marketing for Authors How to Run Successful Book Promotions
“In this episode we visit with the founder of Written Word Media Ricci Wolman and discuss all things book promotions: when to do them, why to do them, how to do them, and more.”
Stephanie Chandler on Nonfiction Authors Association How to Locate Speaking Engagements–Free and Paid
“Whether you want to speak for free to sell books at the back of the room or you want to get paid to speak, there are many ways you can locate speaking opportunities.”
Belinda Griffin on Self Publishing Advice From The Alliance Of Independent Authors Opinion: Why Authors Need to Budget for Book Marketing
“It’s generally accepted that for a self-published book to stand any sort of chance it needs to be professionally edited and have a professionally designed cover. Authors will beg, borrow and save to ensure they have the finances in place to afford these necessary services. … In my opinion, the same needs to happen for marketing.”
New study shows that genres dominated by women are less expensive
A new study of US book prices shows that book genres with more female authors are also cheaper. For their analysis, researchers from Queens College in New York looked at 2 million individual titles published in North America between 2002 and 2012.
Books identified as having a female-named author cost 45% less on average than male-named. The researchers compared trends in traditional publishing with self-publishing, where authors choose their own genres and set their own prices. They found the same pattern, though the gap was narrower. “With greater freedom, workers in the gig economy may be inclined to greater equality, but will largely replicate existing labor market segmentation and the lower valuation of female-typical work and of female workers,” the researchers wrote.
In looking back over my multi-decade publishing and speaking career, here’s where 95% of my books sales came from: speaking. How did I get speaking gigs? By:
using post cards
Yep, I sent out postcards—sometimes 50 a day. Post cards that I created and printed that were all about my books.
Why post cards?
Isn’t snail mail old-fashioned? Nope, not in my marketing book. In 2000, there were over 103,526 million pieces of first class mail delivered. In 2016, it had dropped to 61,219 pieces. There’s less snail mail to compete with. Plus, it’s speedy—there’s no envelop to open. Wait-wait, there’s more. It’s cheaper than regular first class mail.
Health care was where I worked as a speaker for 20 plus years. Rotating post cards for my books:
Zapping Conflict in the Health Care Workplace
Stabotage-How to Deal with the Pit Bulls, Skunks, Snakes, Scorpions and Slugs in the Health Care Workplace
The Confidence Factor
Money Smarts for Turbulent Times
that health care professionals bought at gigs was part of my marketing routine.
On the back of each post card, was a reference to the Keynote or Workshop that went with the book’s theme. As an author of multiple books, I had the advantage of mailing out a different post card each week for a month; then I started over. Each time a post card cycled, I added a different note on each of the four.
What if you don’t have several book covers to rotate from? No big deal. How about creating:
a word cloud with your key words
a cool picture of you
an image that connects with your past
an image that ties into your expertise
even alternate book covers?
You have options—you don’t need to stick with a single concept.
Was my technique effective?
Yes, indeed! In one call, the secretary to one of my recipients answered the phone. She said, “My boss has had your post card on her desk for three months.”
Wow, I thought and then said, “Is she available for a few minutes so I can say hello?”
The call was put through … in ten minutes, the gig was secured.
Post cards worked for me. I was consistent in how I sent them out.
My marketing post card strategy would be:
First, call on the phone. I kept it very short if I got the person live versus voice mail. If I had already met her, I would remind her where it was and at what event and added that she had wanted me to call her. If she had asked me to hold a date, I would mention it.
If I hadn’t met the person, I would thank her for taking my call and identify who I was and my expertise. Hello, Susan, this is Dr. Judith Briles …
I would ask if there was any conflict within her department or hospital. I would ask if increasing productivity and reducing turnover were important. And then I would see where our conversation would go.
I offered to send additional information and/or guide her to my website and refer to a particular feature on it that I thought would be of interest.
I thanked her again; asked when I should follow-up and say goodbye.
After I hung up, a post card would be sent and I would schedule another call in my management system at a time recommended or in 7 to 10 days.
I would also send an email after the call was completed with a “tidbit” in the message that I thought might be useful—something about the industry; a news item that could have an impact; maybe something that just is pleasant or meaningful. Again, keeping it short.
When my follow up date came, I would make the scheduled call and attempt to reconnect.
Whether a live call connected or not, the process was completed. Another post card would be mailed.
Sometimes, the gig was booked quickly. Other times, more follow-up was needed.
Until I got a “yes” or “no”, I would then repeat.
If I got the dreaded voice mail (and I did 80% of the time), I would immediately start addressing the post card. A short message would be left. Hanging up, a one-line note added to the card with a stamp … a follow up date ping added to my management system and the next call was made.
This worked successfully for me. Call, post card, email, call, post card …
Since the late ’80s, I’ve tracked my speaking and book sale revenues. Using rounded numbers, in excess of $3,000,000 in speaking fees and $2,000,000 in book sales have been created. My all-time single record was a keynote with 700 in attendance that resulted in 566 books being sold within a five-hour period one afternoon that netted $16,480. All seeded from a post card.
Because I was on the road so much (150 days away from home), I had to create a method that was efficient and fast—when in the office, I could find one to two hours a day to do my marketing.
Below is a sample of what I currently send out for writing and publishing conferences. Note that there are endorsements, speaking topics, and a full bio of who I am and what I do. Now I have post cards for all my publishing related books:
AuthorYOU: Creating and Creating Author and Book Platforms
How to Avoid 101 Book Publishing Blunders, Bloopers & Boo-Boos
The CrowdFunding Guide for Authors & Writers
Snappy Sassy Salty-Wise Words for Authors & Writers
and of course, the new baby that births this month:
How to Create a $1,000,000 Speech
The front and back of one of my post cards for speaking at writing and publishing conferences looks like this:
What works for you will depend on your personality and methodology. My advice: Never underestimate the power of snail mail and the post card. I don’t do bookmarks—I do post cards—a fine book mark on its own.
If you would like a copy of my current cards that I use for marketing, I would be happy to email a pdf of what they look like—front and back. Put in the subject line of an email “post cards” and I will send them to you.