Tag Archive | brand

Reblog: 5 New Years Resolutions for Authors

Here is another gem from Book Marketing Tools.  I do not agree with everything in this blog post, especially this idea that you can and should try to do all/most of this EVERYDAY.  I find focus is very important to my writing and my productivity; do things ONE at a time or you will burn out trying to be everything at once.

 

Here is that post in full:

5 New Years Resolutions for Authors

Happy New Year!

A new year causes us to look back at the previous year and see all that we have (and have not) done.

A new year also allows us to look ahead to the coming year with renewed optimism and excitement for what is to come.

A new year wouldn’t be complete without some resolutions. Some people want to lose weight. Others want to be more productive. Some want to start a new business and others want to take their business to the next level!

As a self-published author, there are some things that you can do to improve your business, further your brand, and hopefully make more money by selling more books. Before we dive into our list of 5 great resolutions for authors, let’s look at what makes a good resolution.

What Makes A Good New Year’s Resolution

Lisa Lahey, a Harvard professor, says, “People in the New Year’s resolution approach are just going directly at trying to change their behaviors. For the majority of people… it is just not going to work because it is not fundamentally a behavior problem: It is a mindset problem.”

The key is to not focus on changing behaviors. Many behaviors are ingrained in us and usually have a deeper root cause that, if not addressed directly, will cause our surface behavior change to be short-lived. You may succeed in the short-term, but you will usually fail in the long-term if you are trying to just change behaviors.

So how can you make resolutions that you can stick to? The key is to focus on what Lahey calls “technical goals”, those that require learning a new skill or implementing a new behavior. Instead of making a goal to “lose more weight”, you can focus on a technical goal such as “walk 1 mile, 4 times per week”. Such a goal is related to “lose more weight”, but this type of goal can be measured, tracked, and is something you are in control of. If you resolve to lose more weight but your body doesn’t cooperate, then you can become discouraged. By creating goals that you are in control of, you can control whether they are accomplished or not.

How does this relate to authors?

All authors wants to sell more books (of course), so that usually becomes the focus of their goals and resolutions. The problem is, you are not directly in control of whether or not you sell more books (unless you are buying them all yourself, which defeats the purpose.) You CAN control the steps you take to help you to sell more books and those are the types of goals that a self-published author should focus on.

What Can You Do To Sell More Books This New Year?

Here are the 5 New Year’s resolutions for authors:

  1. Spend 30 Minutes A Day On Marketing – Marketing is important but it is often neglected. Either authors don’t like the idea of marketing, they don’t know what to do, or they would just rather be writing. Whatever the case is, marketing is often neglected and if you aren’t marketing, you probably aren’t selling as many books as you could be. Marketing is simply telling other people about your product. Resolve to spend just 30 minutes a day finding and adding readers on Twitter, Google+, or Facebook. Work on reaching out to blogs that have a similar subject matter as your book, finding reviewers, or setting up passive marketing mechanisms like calls to action in the back of your book. There are plenty of things to do, so if you can devote just 30 minutes a day to marketing, you will definitely be able to sell more books in this new year!
  2. Write More Books – While I don’t believe in the philosophy of simply writing more books as your only form of marketing, I do think that the more books you have, the more opportunities you have to gain readers and sell more books. Focus on publishing as many books as you can this year (even if it is just 1 or 2), because different books will grab people’s attention in different ways, but once they see and like your writing style, they will want to read more books from you so it pays off to have more books to sell to them!
  3. Set Up Your Mailing List and Send People To It – If you do not have a mailing list set up, read here to learn why you should set up a mailing list. If you already have a mailing list, or after you set one up, work on leading people to the mailing list. Create an enticing offering, whether it is a piece of art, a novelette, or something appealing to get them to sign up to your mailing list. Talk about your mailing list and the exclusive content they can get by joining the list on Twitter, Facebook, on your blog, etc. This is the single most important marketing mechanism you can have in place, so put your focus on growing your list this new year.
  4. Find 2-3 Blogs A Week That You Can Promote Your Book On – Finding blogs that deal with a similar subject matter as your books is one of the most effective ways to market your book. Does your main character love her cat? Find cat-lover blogs and tell them about your book, possibly even offering a free copy to the blog owner. They get a free book, something to write about that their readers will love, and you get a way to promote your book that isn’t saturated with other books and that can drive some solid sales to your book! It is a win-win strategy for all involved: you, the blog owner, and the blog readers! Seek out and find 2-3 such blogs each week and reach out to them (this can be done during your 30 minutes of marketing a day!) Expose your book to new readers at each blog who would love to know about your books!
  5. Connect With 3-4 Other Authors You Can Cross Promote With – The idea of “self-publishing” creates a feeling of having to go at it alone (the word “self” doesn’t help), but you do not need to go on this journey alone! Find 3-4 other similar authors early in the year and reach out to them to see if you can work together with them to promote each others’ books. You can run discount promos together, you can tweet about and share each others books, and you could even make boxed sets featuring 1-2 of each authors books. Many more promotional opportunities are available when you work together with other authors. You can share your audience, your reach, and get more exposure all from working together! Work together with other authors to help boost sales for each of you this year!

Charging Ahead in the New Year

There is always some type of marketing you can be doing, but there are never enough hours in the day to write more, market more, and do all of the publisher duties such as editing, formatting, etc. But, you can make small, measurable goals or resolutions to improve your marketing this year by resolving to do a few (or all) of the resolutions above! These steps will help you to accomplish the ultimate goal to sell more books and get more readers!

Here’s to a happy and prosperous year!

– The Book Marketing Tools Team

Repost: Sales Lesson Vodafone and Apple: Unhappy Customers Don’t Buy Read

Earlier this week I received this blog post about not selling to unhappy customers.  It is poignant and very sound advice.

 

Read it at  http://blog.thesocialms.com/sales-lesson-vodafone-apple-unhappy-customers-dont-buy/

by 

Last week my smartphone was stolen. It was brand new – only in my possession for 2 days. It was a shiny new BlackBerry Passport – and I loved that phone. For me phones are there for freeing up time because I can get work done on them – not for wasting my free time watching music videos on Youtube. It was perfect for that.

Yet, it was stolen from me. I am also pretty broke right now so I won’t be getting a new one any time soon. I was angry. I still am.

Here Is why Apple Needs A Sales Lesson

The phone was taken from a pocket of my jacket which was originally zipped close – yet my phone was gone. The whole thing happened in the Apple Store in Berlin (Kurfürstendamm 26 if anyone cares…). And that is where I learned the lesson that Apple Store employees don’t learn anything about sales.

Naturally I went back to the Apple Store a couple of times the last few days to check whether my phone had turned up – and the Apple employees tried to sell me an Iphone.

Sales Lesson

Seriously… I just lost a brand new BlackBerry. Worse: It was stolen from me. I am angry. I am sad. I am unhappy!

And: Unhappy customers don’t buy.

What the hell do people tell you when you start working at Apple? I mean – you are working for Apple, are you not? That’s the company that is supposed to be the holy grail of marketing? Don’t you guys learn anything?

They didn’t even stop when I told them I’m not interested. Guys I want a workhorse for … work, not a toy for watching videos.

And that is a lesson you should learn, fast. Because what you achieved that day is the following: Apple could now release the greatest phone ever, let’s say the “IMEGAPhone” and I still wouldn’t buy it. Ever. Because this is always going to remind me of that day. (I will continue buying their laptops – just because I’m already used to them. But phones – hell no.)

Let me write the following in bold: If you want to sell to someone who is unhappy – make him happy first.

In the case of the stolen smartphone that would have meant something along the lines of: Comfort me for my loss, tell me to show up again tomorrow and ask about it. Give me a phone number to call in. Tell me that you are going to look for it. Whatever.

I would return to the Apple Store with a much better feeling in the future – and would probably spend a lot of money in the future.

I know – Apple can get away with this – at the moment. But isn’t Apple also a company that should know that dark times can always come? And that it is how you treated your fanbase during the good times that decides how they treat you during bad times? That wisdom used to be Apple’s Marketing Mojo – seems they are losing it.

Vodafone Needs a Sales Lesson, Too!

On with the story: I went to the next Vodafone store to get a new SIM card for my old BlackBerry. And there it happened again: Seemingly even before my wish to get the SIM card locked and get a new SIM card was being carried out, they had already started to work on me.

If I wanted a new phone – I could simply order a partner card (25€/month) on top of my existing contract. I don’t need a fucking partner card – I just had my phone stolen. I’m angry, I want someone to shout at (I kept quiet for the most part…).

On paper all these people did everything right: They identified that I was in need of something they could provide and sell me, so they jumped right at me. And believe me – Vodafone really tried hard. Wouldn’t my parents be grateful for a new contract (without a new phone – are you serious…)?

Seriously – when jumping shamelessly at unhappy customers you shouldn’t expect great results. This is not the way to start a relationship with customers and even if you manage to sell something, the customer is still not going to be happy with his purchase. He is going to regret having bought from you. He will not come back. He will cancel his contract as soon as he can.

As for me – I left the store and promised myself to never enter this particular Vodafone shop again.

What Happened to Building Relationships?

It is really scary that these big corporations don’t even get these essential things right.

Both of these could have built a relationship to me that day. I’m not asking for freebies – but a little comfort would have done wonders. I expected both of them to do better – and am seriously disappointed. I mean – Apple is famous for its great marketing – but this is really marketing 101. And Vodafone should know better, too – they actually close contracts on cold calls. And do that a lot!

So what is the moral of this? Maybe Apple should ask every employee a question: “Would you sell an unhappy customer an Iphone?” And then fire anyone who says yes.

Just kidding. But they should take that image of being helpful to a new level.

And Vodafone? Well, my contract lasts for two years now. Doesn’t that suck?

Five avoidable errors by Indie authors

Cover art for The Great Succession Crisis, 1st edition paperback as published in September, 2012.  Thanks to constructive criticism from reviewers, this cover art changed for the revised edition.

Cover art for The Great Succession Crisis, 1st edition paperback as published in September, 2012. Thanks to constructive criticism from reviewers, this cover art changed for the revised edition.

Great Succession Crisis paperbackIndependent authors have a mixed reputation.  With big publishing houses no longer serving as gatekeepers, deciding who to publish and what works will be published, the market trend is towards self-published, independent authors.

Publication by a big name doesn’t guarantee quality — as a recent conversation with a friend regarding the infamous “Fifty Shades of Grey” revealed, a book widely regarded in literary circles as filled with unprofessional writing and countless technical errors — not to mention shallow characters and the glorification of what many people consider abusive behavior towards women.

Even so, ask most people if they expect great literature from a big name publisher or an independent author, the perception remains to side with big name publishers.

After interviewing authors for consideration for this blog, certain errors do seem to come up over and over again.  Let’s look at them and how you can avoid them in your own writing:

1.  Grammar/punctuation errors

There is a reason why the advice sites tell authors to hire an editor — or at least have a friend go through manuscripts with a fresh set of eyes before publication.  Editing yourself is HARD.  People miss errors in their own work that others will catch.  Looking at the 1st edition of “The Great Succession Crisis,” my own struggles with this are pretty clear.  That edition was far from perfect.

Fortunately, some very kind souls gave me constructive feedback reviews which I listened to.  The result: in January 2013 I released the revised edition.

Let me be clear:  errors are normal.  The difference between a professional and an amateur (in my humble opinion) in this print-on-demand publishing world is what the author does about errors once located.  Do you let miss-spellings, grammar errors, and/or punctuation issues persist, or do you edit and resubmit once you find mistakes?  

Professionals want their work to be as absolutely error-free as possible and make the edits.

2.  Poor cover art

Not everyone is a graphic artist or has great visual instincts.  But most readers can spot stock book covers (such as those created in cover creator programs) a mile away.

Your book cover is the very first thing a reader uses to determine if your book is worth reading. It’s your critical first impression.  If it looks like you just slabbed some text over a generic image, odds are really good potential readers will not take a second look.

3. Over/under pricing

Pricing is hard; it’s taken me a fair amount of trial and error to figure out how to price my books.  But as a rule, the extremes look bad.  That is to say, if you offer your digital book for free or 99 cents (special, limited promotions not withstanding), people are going to often times assume it’s not worth paying for at all.  Unless your “book” is a very short work, DON’T DO IT!

Likewise, don’t price your book outrageously.  A digital book of less than 600 pages selling for more than $20 (I’m going extreme here) comes off as arrogant and not worth buying.  In fact, the poorest reviews I’ve ever seen on a digital book were for books priced well above and beyond normal expectations.

4. Poor book descriptions

Your book description is the second piece of information potential readers see when looking at your work.  Book descriptions ARE HARD as I’ve discovered from personal experience, especially if your book falls into more than one genre at the same time or involves a particularly complex story.  At the same time, your description needs to be clean and professional.  This is not the time to show off your fluency with colorful colloquial language.  When people see grammar errors, spelling errors, and colloquial language in a book description, the inevitable conclusion is the rest of the book is of the same character.

5. Publishing before your work is ready.

Is your story compelling and interesting TO OTHER PEOPLE?  Have you researched your setting and other details thoroughly? Do your characters make sense?  Are your details accurate and believable.

Writing is not about you; it’s about your readers.  Publish quality work others want to read.

Remember:  you are your brand.