Tuesday, March 25, 2008

How to Price Your Book to Make It Sell?

Just like any other consumer item, books must compete for buyers’ dollars. That is why quality and value are so important in a book. There is a great deal of competition out there.

In North America, upwards of 150,000 titles are published each year. To make it into the top ten percent of books sold, your book must be of superior quality and it must be priced neither too high nor too low for your market.

If the price is too high, the book will simply not sell. There are other similar books written about the same or similar subject matter that are a “better buy”. If the price is too low, readers perceive your book as being of inferior quality, and perhaps lacking in content.

So how do you arrive at a price for your book? Begin by doing some research. Go to a large bookstore, find the section that displays your book’s genre and analyze the books there.

Find the most expensive books, the least expensive books, and several in between. What do they have in common? Are the most expensive books the largest? Do they have hard covers or soft covers? Do they have the most pages, the most photos or illustrations, the best quality paper, the most attractive graphic design, the most professional editing, and the most famous or expert authors? What about the least expensive books? Are they the opposite of the most costly group? What about the median group – what are their commonalities?

Choose the books that appeal most to you. Make a list of the features you want for your own book. Knowing the specifications that you want in your book will help you to obtain printing quotes. Printing will be your biggest publishing expense if you plan on a sizeable print run.

Keep in mind that your book must be priced correctly for your particular market. There is a maximum price that the public will pay for each genre of book, and there is a lower price limit at which they believe that your book has no value. The customers will ultimately decide if your book is priced reasonably or unreasonably, so think long and hard about the price point.

The printing cost is the base from which you determine what to charge for your book, once you have decided the price range that your book will fall into. Some publishers work on an eight to one ratio, i.e., the retail price is eight times the production expense of the book. You need a large enough mark-up to cover the following costs:

• Production – 12%
• Bookstore discount – 40%
• Distribution fee – 15%
• Publicity and marketing – 25%

Example for a book priced at $20.00 retail:

• Production – $2.50 (x 8 = $20.00)
• Bookstore – $8.00
• Distribution fee – $3.00
• Publicity and marketing – $5.00

You must allow a sufficient percentage of the retail price to cover the promotion of your book. You can have the best book in the world at the most bang-on price, but if no one knows about it no one will buy it. The lack of planning for publicity and marketing funds in the business plan is the reason that many small publishers have thousands of books in the basement and no money in the bank. Don’t make the same mistake. Allow for the cost of sending out hundreds of review copies.

You may want to charge more than $20.00 for the book if the market will bear the higher cost because you will also be seeking non-traditional markets for your book. Some of those buyers require an 80% discount from retail. That means you need enough of a cushion to make a profit after you cover the print cost. However, don’t panic about the discount if the buyer is willing to purchase thousands of books on non-returnable terms. At that point you will likely do a special print run, and if the order is large enough the printing will be at a lower cost than your initial smaller print run anyway.

Know that when you publish a book, you are no longer an author – you are a publisher. You are in the business of selling books. Price your book well and sell it wherever you can as often as you can. The sales will be for a very wide variety of discounts. Analyze each opportunity well and sell, sell, sell…

[Via - How to Price Your Book to Make It Sell?]

What is the Best Way to Sell My Book on the Internet?

While most authors realize that the Internet is a good way to sell books, few understand how to do it. It’s all about “keywords”.

It is no secret that the Internet is perhaps the most powerful sales tool available today for marketing pretty much anything to anybody. One benefit of the Internet is that it is a level playing field where the “price of admission”, so to speak, is equal to all. It is, by far, the least expensive media availably for presenting services or products to the public. Virtually EVERY website starts out the same way by securing a domain name which is your Internet address. Once in possession of a domain name, a website or store front can be built for very little, if any, money. Once built, it is open for business to the hundreds of millions of Internet users. It’s as easy as that!! Or is it?

The good thing about the Internet is that there is equal access to all. The bad thing about the Internet is that there is equal access to all. There are millions of websites out there, open and ready to do business. The problem every website owner has is how to get people to know they are there. A traditional way of getting people to know you comes right out of the marketing textbook. It is called branding. That is taking an otherwise unknown name and turning it into a recognizable brand. I remember years back, at Book Expo America in Chicago, when Amazon had banners all over the exhibition hall. “What’s an Amazon?”, I thought to myself back then. Well, many millions of dollars later there are very few people who do not know who Amazon is and what it does. That’s branding.

My guess is that very few of you have that budget for an Amazon type rollout so for now we’ll leave that for those with the big bucks. Instead we are going to go with a low budget alternative called “keyword marketing”. The term “keyword” refers to words or phrases that you feel someone will enter into a search engine to find a book like yours. If, for example, your book is on the “Parthenon”, you would ideally like for your book on the Parthenon to be at the top of the search engine’s list when that term is searched. Unfortunately, there are many books as well as other websites that deal with the Parthenon. Google catalogs over 4 billion web pages. Under the search term “Parthenon”, it shows 422,000 listings. Similarly Yahoo shows 461,000 listings under the same search term. If you look closely at the Yahoo listings you will see the top two and bottom three are titled “sponsor results”. After the top sponsor results are twenty numbered listings before you get to the bottom three sponsored results. In addition to the main listings there are also some short text ads off to the right, also titled sponsor listings. Few people would disagree that to be located any place on that first page is good. Being one of the top couple listings is great.

Being placed in the top 20 numbered listings takes a lot of hard work as well as a great deal of luck. Volumes have been written on how to obtain top ten listing on the various search engines. For the purpose of this article, though, we are not going to worry about the numbered listings. We’ll leave that to the search engine “experts”.

Remember that search for “Parthenon”? Take a look at the number two sponsored listing:

The Parthenon Code While the DaVinci Code is fictional and the Bible Code is bogus, the Parthenon Code presents a genuine artists' code revealing the true history of mankind.

It is the listing for one of the books in my bookstore, www.justbookz.com. Now try searching “Left Handed Golf”. The number one listing is:

"On the Other Hand" by Steve Anderson Finally, golf-instruction for lefties, written by the PGA's only "certified" left-handed teaching professional, Steve Anderson. Includes 85 detailed photographs - $14.95.

[ Via - What is the Best Way to Sell My Book on the Internet?]

How to Sell Your Self-Published Book to a Major Player

Want to move into the big time? Many creative small presses and self-publishers are discovering a practical path for penetrating bigger “establishment” trade houses. They bring out a quality book, market it successfully, then allow a trade publisher to buy the rights. While this sounds patently simple, it isn’t. But it does often work. How do you accomplish such a victory?

Your best ammunition is a good, well-focused book. By good we mean one that has been meticulously edited and attractively crafted. Is the cover striking and clear? Has the interior designer laid out the book so it is appealing to the eye and simple to use? A well-focused book meets a specific need and is distinguishable from similar titles in one or more distinct ways. Outflank the competition by making your book more complete, more useful, or more unique.

Now that you have a quality product, go on the offensive and sell the heck out of it! Tap into every possibility for free PR—get reviews and author interviews—cultivate that all-important word-of-mouth. Place ads in specially targeted media and, if your book retails for $25 or more, consider launching a consumer direct mail campaign. Seek every opportunity to develop momentum for your title.

What does it take to interest a large trade publisher or an aggressive mid-sized house? An impressive print package and a strong sales track record. When you have that delightful duo you’re bargaining from a position of power. You’re offering a proven product; the risks have already been taken.

Research to determine who publishes your kind of book. First, look in Literary Market Place under “Book Publishers.” There is an index at the end of the section telling who publishes in what genre. Writer’s Market also has a very useful subject cross index. Second, call and get the name and correct spelling of the appropriate current editor. Next, request their current catalog. (Many will have toll-free ordering numbers you can use.) Now study the catalogs. Look for books with similar subject matter. Often you can show how your book will complement another title on their list. Or perhaps you’ll detect an obvious void you title would fill.

Now go to a large bookstore and carefully explore your subject area. Again, tune into relevant titles. The reason we succeeded in selling our Big Marketing Ideas for Small Service Businesses to Dow Jones-Irwin was because we saw their Service America while doing homework at Denver’s Tattered Cover Bookstore. We suggested our book be positioned with it.

Now develop a proposal with pizzazz. Tell how the book meets a present need and why it is different. Give them your sales figures. Include copies of reviews, large purchase orders, and newspaper interviews. This is what we did to sell Writer’s Digest Books the rights to our Complete Guide to Self-Publishing.

When negotiating a contract, you may find it makes sense to bargain in person rather than just by mail, email, and phone. This allows you to “read” the other person better, and more quickly consummate a deal. Otherwise, contracts usually go back and forth several times. Sometimes they even falter and collapse. We feel sure the five-figure advance we negotiated for one of our books would have been considerably smaller had we depended on a less personal form of communication.

The negotiation process should be a win/win proposition. Think about what you would like to have—and what you must have. But be willing to compromise. There is no way around it: Publishers Row has some sacred cows. They aren’t going to alter their position on certain issues for you or anyone else. Be reasonable in your expectations, but firm in explaining what you must have.

The success stories using this springboard technique could go on and on. Last year Putnam came out with Breaking into the Boardroom, a book we helped a client privately publish in 1986 and for which St. Martins ultimately bought the paperback rights. What Color is Your Parachute, How to Avoid Probate, and The Elements of Style are other classic examples of self-published works that zoomed to stardom. So if you want to fatten your wallet, consider pursuing a trade publisher to pick up the rights to your proven product.

[Via - How to Sell Your Self-Published Book to a Major Player]

How to Become a Successful Self-Publisher

I know there is huge worldwide interest in what constitutes an ideal business.


When I first wrote about this subject in my news-letter in the early nineties, I received more feedback on it than any other topic.

What constitutes the ideal business?

1. Enjoys low overhead.

2. Products can be sold throughout the world.

3. Is portable-can easily be moved and operated anywhere in the world.

4. Requires little capital or major investment in equipment.

5. Enjoys high profit margins.

6. Has minimal labor requirements. Can be operated with few or no employees.

7. Can be operated from home.

8. Is relatively free of government regulation and control.

9. Is highly respected in the business community.

10. Sells on a cash basis instead of offering extended credit.

11. Competitors cannot duplicate. Creation of product is legally protected.

12. Is fun for you while satisfying your intellectual needs.

13. Helps make the world a better place.

Self-publishing best meets the above criteria for the ideal business.

Tip: Publishing unique, helpful information can be an unbeatable marketing tool. Further in this issue I'll show you how to use it successfully for any business.

Let's briefly look at what self-publishers and conventional publishers typically do when they decide to market a book or special report.

1. The book is written, taking up to two years of effort. Little or no thought is given to the marketing process.

2. The title is decided by some editor often over lunch in less than 20 minutes.

3. The book is published. Absolutely nothing happens. This has been called "the calm before the calm."

The book never sells out its first printing. (This is the fate of more than 96% of all books published. Is it any wonder!)

Here are the two most important actions I always take. I recommend both as an indispensable part of your action plan.

1. Write an ad to sell the book before a single word is written.

Tip: The result is the eventual book will have the best chance to do what it should--serve the readers' self-interest. (Most books are incredibly dull and boring and are an ego trip for the author.)

Plus, of course, you can use the ad to market the book.

More than 90% of your time as a self-publisher must be spent on marketing. For my book HOW TO FORM YOUR OWN CORPORATION WITHOUT A LAWYER FOR UNDER $75, I've written more than 120,000 words of advertising copy. The book has just 32,000 words in it. Sales are nearly 2,000,000 copies to date. The reason for all the success is not the book itself, but all the marketing.

As Tom Watson, the late founder of IBM, said so well, "Nothing happens until a sale is made."

2. Create a great book title. A book title is actually a headline for the book. It's crucially important. When I create a book title, I write a huge number of potential titles. For my books HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK AND SELL A MILLION COPIES, MAGIC WORDS THAT BRING YOU RICHES, and HOW TO TURN WORDS INTO MONEY, I wrote over 120 titles for each before choosing the final one for each of these best sellers.

Best-selling authors like Harvey Mackay, author of "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive" and "Beware the Naked Man Who Offers You His Shirt," invest about $60,000 in fees for an expert to create each title for their books. They know how important it is.

Tip: Here is a business-building blockbuster.
Regardless of the business in which you are engaged, whether you market online or offline, you can use books and special reports as free bonuses to build your sales. Here are some examples of businesses and the type of material they could publish that could dramatically boost their business.

Real Estate Developer:
"Seven Easy, Low-Cost Tips Which Will Increase The Value of Your Property"

"How to Stop Leaking Faucets Yourself in Less Than 60 Seconds"

"How to Build The Beautiful Home of Your Dreams Below Budget"

"How to Prepare Ten Terrific Gourmet Meals in Less Than 20 Minutes"

Vitamin Distributor:
"Maximum Health Secrets On a Minimum Budget"

Tip: Your information should be written in such a way that it is (A) immediately useful to the reader, and (B) you do not directly benefit in any way.

What you are seeking is a special feeling of reciprocation on the part of the reader: "I got so much out of this special report, when I think about possibly availing myself of your type of product or service, I will think about you first."

The result in increased sales will delight and astonish you.

[Via - How to Become a Successful Self-Publisher]

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Business of Publishing

What exactly does it mean to be "published?" Well, the truth about publishing is really stranger than fiction and the truth is: getting published is only half the battle. The other half is to keep your reality check in balance so it doesn't bounce.

While publishing is all about creative expression, it's also about business and it's those business savvy authors who will succeed in the end. You don't have to have an MBA to be a keen business person, you simply have to understand the choices you make relative to your books future should be based on strategies that will enhance sales, not just drain your pocketbook. So, how do you do this?

Keep these guidelines in mind while you are planning your strategy for success as a self published author:

1) Reader profile: create one of these at the beginning of your marketing campaign and keep refining it as you move through the process. Refine and redefine who and where your audience is and how to get to them.

2) Time commitment: determine what you can and can't reasonably do. If you have a full time job it probably doesn't make a lot of sense to commit yourself to 40 hours of marketing a week unless your boss is on vacation.

3) Investment: how much are you willing to invest in your future? Are you willing to invest money without seeing much in return knowing that you are building a foundation or do you want to see immediate monetary results? Most authors don't see a return on their investment for a year or more. Are you committed enough to yourself or your project to keep this investment going?

4) Reality check: what's realistic for the industry you're in? Are you latching onto a fad or something with more longevity? Are you getting into a brand new market that will require lots of reader education? Or are you trying to go mainstream with a non-mainstream topic? While this is an admirable goal, it can be like swimming upstream.

5) Budget: while we encourage authors to invest in their future, we've also seen a number of people go into heavy debt, quit their jobs and even sell their homes just to promote their book. While that kind of dedication is certainly admirable, remember that although you have the potential to make a great deal of money it's not going to be overnight. The lure here is of course that "If I stick with it, this next sale will make me famous." Well, maybe or maybe not. If you've been plugging away for a while without any significant success, get a professional to give you some honest, constructive feedback about your plan, your market, and your book. It might be that a poorly designed has fallen off of the public's radar screen. Remember, as you're waiting to hit the big time you'll still need a place to sleep and Uncle Vinnie's couch will get old real quick.

6) Burnout: we hear this term often, even to the point of being overused. What we're really talking about here is author burnout. We've found the average author only markets their book for 90 days. That means 90 days of day and night marketing, radio interviews at 3 a.m. and a book signing every weekend. On day 91 they are so tired, discouraged and broke that they quit. You can avoid this by giving yourself realistic goals and a realistic timeframe in which to complete them.

There's nothing in the world like seeing your book in print. If approached realistically, objectively and with sound business sense, it can be one of the most exciting times in your life.

[Via - The Business of Publishing]

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