Bob Baker's Full-Time Author Blog

6 Secrets to Book Publishing Success

Are you new to this Full-Time Author blog? If so, welcome aboard! It's great to have you here.

With seven months of content currently in the archives, I wanted to help you find some of the most useful posts from earlier months. Here are my six favorites. I hope these ideas inspire you to greater heights with your book publishing efforts.

14 Things I've Learned About Book Publishing Success


One Author's Book Promotion Diary

Your Best Book Marketing Plan

How to Rank Higher on Google

Hits & Misses vs Hits & Niches

How to 'Fix' the Book Industry

-Bob

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Harry Potter Magic Fun Facts

Here are some spell-binding numbers for you Harry Potter fans and observers:

  • 325 million - number of copies the first six books in the series have sold worldwide.

  • 66 - number of languages Harry Potter books have been published in.

  • 6.9 million - number of Half-Blooded Prince copies sold in the 24 hours after it went on sale in 2005 (more than The Da Vinci Code sold that entire year).

  • 4,000 - dollar amount of J.K. Rowling's advance for the first Potter book.

  • 500 - number of copies of the first book's initial print run.

  • 40,000 - maximum dollar amount paid for one of those first editions.

  • 700,000 - number of web sites and blogs dedicated to Harry Potter.

  • 62 million - number of kids in the U.S. who possess a Harry Potter book.

  • 60 million - number of adults in the U.S. who own a Harry Potter book.

  • 44.8 million - number of dollars earned on the opening day of the Order of the Phoenix movie.

  • 3.5 billion - amount of money the first four Potter movies have grossed worldwide.

Wow! Makes me want to yell, "Expecto Patronum!"

Source: July 27 article in The Week. Also available as a PDF from this Brand Autopsy blog page.

-Bob

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Are You a Book Marketing Liar?

I've been reading Seth's Godin's great book, "All Marketers Are Liars." The subtitle offers a more accurate description of the contents: "The Power of Telling Authentic Stories in a Low-Trust World."

The title could have been "All Effective Marketers Are Good Storytellers," but that doesn't sound nearly as sexy, now does it?

You've probably heard this before. Stories sell. Not only within well-crafted novels, but when it comes to promoting books (and products/services of all kinds) too.

But Godin puts a fresh spin on this concept when he talks about how every person (or consumer) comes to the table with a specific "worldview" -- a perspective that colors everything he or she looks at (or tunes out).

The thought nugget here is this: Consumers spend their money and attention on products (in our case, books) that are marketed with stories that reinforce the worldview they already have. Yes, it's classic "law of attraction," "like attracts like" stuff -- only it's the "story" that acts as the magnet.

Let's see how this applies to three popular book titles in the same category:

Title: American Medical Association Family Medical Guide

Worldview/Story: Doctors can and should be trusted. I will find the best advice from accredited professionals.

Title: Natural Cures "They" Do Not Want You to Know About

Worldview/Story: The medical conglomerates cannot be trusted. Money and politics obscure the truth. I can find better answers outside the establishment.

Title: YOU: The Owner's Manual

Worldview/Story: Health is important, but learning about it is tedious and boring. If I had an easy, fun way to absorb them, I might actually incorporate healthy choices into my life.

See the differences? What worldview does your book tap into? What story could you tell about your book that aligns with a story that certain book lovers are already telling themselves?

-Bob

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6 Reasons to Self-Publish Your Own Book

A couple of days ago I joined John Kremer's Book Marketing Network at Ning.com. It's a very cool site with more than 500 author/publisher members and growing. I've been fascinated with all the widgets and easy interactive features that Ning provides: audio and video uploads, photos and blogs, forums and groups, etc.

I've loaded a few things to the site, including two audio tracks, which you can listen to on my profile page or right here using the Ning audio player below:



Book Marketing Network

The first track, "6 Reasons to Self-Publish Your Own Book," is an excerpt from my ebook/audio package called Self-Publishing Success Secrets. The second is a short podcast interview I did earlier this year in Halifax, Nova Scotia, during which I share some of my book publishing philosophy and history.

I'm so impressed with what Ning offers. Anyone can basically create their own little MySpace-like social networking site on whatever topic they choose. In fact, I just started a new Indie Music Success Network to tie into my primary niche of music marketing books.

It will be interesting to see how my readers respond when I announce it in the coming days.

-Bob

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Smart Ways Authors Can Use Twitter for Books

You've no doubt heard of Twitter. It's a relatively new social networking site that allows users to send short, 140-character messages to mobile phones or instant message applications. You can also read these messages on the Twitter web site.

According to the site, Twitter exists to help its users answer that probing question, "What are you doing?" Users then inflict ... er, share their bite-size messages with whoever signs up to receive them. (I know, because a few months ago I started my own Twitter account.)

For better or worse, users have taken this Q&A theme to heart. Most people use Twitter to let other people know what they're doing -- EVERYTHING they're doing! Common messages report such meaningful activities as "Stopping to get gas and buy a pack of cigs" or "Running late for the photo shoot" or "It's raining outside and I'm bored."

You're bored? Try reading through this mountain of trivial Twitter updates! Then you'll know what true agony is.

There's got to be a better!

One restaurant in Buffalo, NY, twitters its daily special to everyone who subscribes to its feed. Now that's useful. Mashable sends a headline and link for each of its new blog posts. That's smart.

How could an independent author or book publisher make the best use of Twitter? Let's say you publish books on how to make pancakes. How about a ...
  • Pancake recipe of the day
  • Reader recipe of the week
  • Syrup review of the week
  • This day in pancake history
Authors should use Twitter to alert fans about live workshops and book signings, new chapter samples, new blog posts, media coverage, where their books can be purchased, and more.

This isn't spleen surgery. It's just making *smart* use of new technology. So give people tidbits of info they can use. Even at a mere 140 characters, wasting time is still wasting time.

Unless your fans really want to know how many times a day you go to the bathroom :-)

Here are a few other online musings on Twitter worth reading:

Twitter: Use it Productively


The Top 5 Ways Smart People Use Twitter

Eight Ways Twitter is Useful Professionally

Twitter: Marketing to the Masses

-Bob

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Steve Weber on Book Promotion 2.0

Thomas Nixon ran a good interview with Steve Weber, author of Plug Your Book: Online Book Marketing for Authors, at his SmallPress Blog last week. In it Steve spells out a lot of the same techniques I've used to build my online book business over the past 5 to 10 years.

Here's one of my favorite segments from the Q&A:

Why should an author put in the time and effort to blog?

Writing a blog enables your readers to find you. Instead of trying to beat people over the head with an advertisement for your book, a blog enables your audience to discover you, and they get involved.

Blogging does take time, but the payoff can be huge. The more you blog, the more readers will find you, and contribute new ideas you can use in your books.

You're probably already doing several things now you could be using for your blog. For example, I get a few e-mails every week from readers who have a question about one of my book topics. I take the most interesting questions and post them on my blog along with my answer.

This way, more people benefit from my answer. And once my blog post makes its way into Google, hundreds or thousands more people will discover my blog (and book) when they search for a similar question.

Read the entire interview here. And check out Steve's Plug Your Book title, especially if you want to make the most of Amazon, blogging and other online promotion tactics.

-Bob

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Use Video to Promote Your Book Online

If you're using the Internet at all to get the word out about your book (and you are, aren't you?), you'd be wise add video promotion to your marketing mix.

Check out my YouTube page to see how I've been using video to promote my own books.

Then check out these articles for more insight into online video book promotion:

Pump Up Your Book Promotion with Do-it-Yourself Book Trailers (The Writers Life)

Using Video Promos to Promote your Book (The Writers Buzz)

Are You Using Video for Book Promotion? (Stacey J Miller's Book Promotion blog)

Publisher Turns to YouTube to Promote Books (Podcasting News)

Can Video Save the Book-Publishing Star? (CNET News)

Happy reading and book promoting!

-Bob

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Smashing the Book Competition Myth

There's a common refrain you hear in the book world about competition and the crowded marketplace. In particular, experts like to point out the number of new books that are published every year.

It used to be 150,000 new titles per year; now it's closer to a quarter million new books published worldwide every year. And, the gurus remind you, this is in addition to the millions of titles already in existence. (I think Amazon offers some 4 million titles.)

It's enough to scare off any would-be author and make indie publishers want to get out of the business while there's still time. The only thing is, there's a serious flaw with this logic. Let me explain ...

Yes, there are tons of books that get written and printed each year, especially now that people are learning about low-cost digital printing options. And because of the slew of companies that are eager to help you (for a fee) get your book into print. I admit, it's a noisy world with a dizzying array of messages competing for our attention.

That said, I still believe you should NOT let the Fear of Competition wrap its evil hands around your neck.

Here's the problem ...

Implying that you have to compete with 250,000 or 4 million or however many other titles is simply preposterous. It assumes that every human being with the ability to purchase books is a potential customer for every book that is available. And if you think about it for two seconds, you'll realize how ridiculous that claim is.

There are huge segments of the adult population that will NEVER buy a gardening book or a self-help book or a do-it-yourself plumbing book. Heck, there are huge segments of the population that will never buy a book, period.

And of all the people who do buy gardening books, for example, only a small percentage of them will ever consider purchasing a gardening title on bonsai or topiary or outdoor feng shui.

Here's the truth ...

You are NOT competing with every other book in the marketplace; only with books in your specific category. In the same way, every book consumer is not mulling over a decision about which book to buy among every book in existence. That kind of thinking is insane.

People buy books because they have a specific need to be educated, enlightened or entertained, so they go in search of the best book to satisfy whatever that specific need is. People also buy books based on the recommendations of friends, reviews or mentions in the media. But they only hear or read about these titles because they expose themselves to people or media that align with their interests.

Bottom line: Focus on YOUR BOOK and YOUR AUDIENCE. Tune out everything else. You'll be a lot more sane because of it.

-Bob

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How to Sell Books Against All Odds

When I first started reading Valerie Connelly's American Chronicle article, called "How to Sell Your Books When the Numbers and Odds Are Against You," I thought it was going to be another doom-filled, uninspiring view of book publishing.

Then I got to a section describing "true" self-publishers, and the clouds parted and the sun shined brightly on the book kingdom:


What drives [independently published authors] is wholly different from what drives publishers handling numerous titles. I am talking about REAL self-publishers, meaning those who have taken on the whole ball of wax from writing the book to buying the ISBNs, setting up the business, doing the layout, cover design, printer selection, website, and marketing plan. These people are driven by passion, and nothing is going to stop them from selling their books.

They are creative marketers, plugged in and turned on, never-say-die entrepreneurs. They get out of their homes and talk, talk, talk about their books. They pester the local bookstores into allowing them to do booksignings. They get into the authors groups and libraries and talk about their passion -- their book. Nothing, short of a stay in the hospital, keeps them from working every angle.

Kudos to Valerie Connelly for uncovering the true path to author success. It takes passion and a willingness to become an evangelist for your genre or topic. When you have that, it doesn't matter that there are 279,999 other new books competing for attention every year.

-Bob

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To you success!

-Bob

Sell Profitable Low-Cost Special Reports Online

One of the easiest and quickest ways to dip your toe into the world of independent publishing is to write and sell a short, 10- to 30-page special report on a specific niche topic. In fact, this is exactly how I started my own publishing journey.

Sell $7 Special Reports Online, Make Money with Info-Products Using $7 SecretsAround 1990, I began producing short reports with names like "13 Low-Cost Ways to Promote Your Band or New Album Release." Cranking out these short titles allowed me to quickly get into the publishing game, albeit on a modest level.

One of these early titles, called "19 Ways to Make Money in the Music Business," I used to interest a small publisher in putting out my very first book, 101 Ways to Make Money Right Now in the Music Business.

That first book lit a fire that has fueled my publishing activities ever since. All because I started writing and publishing special reports to get my feet wet. So you might say that this report concept is near and dear to my heart.

Even if you already have full-length books out, publishing special reports is still a good idea. Why? Because you need to give potential customers options -- various points of entry into your sales process. (I write more about this here.)

And these reports can be profitable. Take a look at my own list of music-related books, reports and audio programs. Joan Stewart (the "publicity hound") has a collection of 51 PR-related reports she sells for $10 each, or $287 for the whole batch. And indie author/publisher Jeffrey Lant is renowned for the hundreds of reports he's been offering for years for $7 each or $17 for any three.

In fact, $7 seems to be the magic number on the low-price end of the report market. I just purchased a popular $7 Secrets report by Internet success story Jonathan Leger on ... you guessed it, how to publish and sell $7 reports. It's a great primer on how to enter this market -- with his unique viral twist on it.

I encourage you to check out Jon Leger's $7 report. It just might open up a new revenue stream for you -- and motivate you to get that book idea out into the world quicker!

One more thing about producing special reports ...

It's a great way to test market the appeal of a potential book title. Years ago, Marcia Yudkin wrote a report called Six Steps to Free Publicity. She was pleasantly surprised when it sold thousands of copies -- so much so that she sold the idea to a major publisher and expanded it into a full-length book.

There are a lot of good reasons to publish low-cost reports. Maybe you should get busy writing one now!

-Bob

P.S. In addition to the $7 Secrets report, also check out Jeffrey Lant's awesome book on independent info-publishing. It was very influential in my early days.

How Tim Ferriss (4-Hour Workweek) Got It Wrong

4-Hour Workweek, Tim FerrissLast week I purchased the audio version of The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss. This book has been generating a lot of buzz, and for a good reason. Ferriss made smart use of the Internet with an attention-getting title. It's been in the top 10 on Amazon and other bestseller lists.

It's a good read (or in my case, listen) too. The author considers himself an expert on "life design," and if you want a swift kick in the pants to shake up your notion of a 9 to 5 job, I suggest you read it.

I've been prodding people to think differently about their life and work for years, so I welcome the nontraditional message of the book. Some of Ferriss's ideas I'm already living, some I would never feel comfortable applying, and others I plan to investigate further and consider.

Here's my beef with Tim Ferriss ...

Ferriss has done a lot of interviews with many prominent bloggers, including Darren Rowse of ProBlogger.net. In this interview, Rowse asked Ferriss for his advice for aspiring authors. Among other things, Ferriss said this:

Above all, do not create an e-book or self-publish as a path to a big publisher. No publisher will purchase something already self-published.

Excuse me? No publisher will be interested in a self-published book? Really? Then what about these titles ...

The One-Minute Manager
What Color Is Your Parachute
The Whole Earth Catalog
Life's Little Instruction Book
The Artist's Way
The Wealthy Barber
What to Expect When You're Expecting
The Christmas Box
1001 Ways to Be Romantic
You Can Heal Your Life
Attitude Is Everything
50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth
The Handbook of Higher Consciousness
Conversations with Millionaires
The Celestine Prophecy
Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun
Sugar Busters!
The Elements of Style

All of these books were originally self-published before being sold to major publishers. Believe me, if you're selling lots of books on your own, you will have publishers lining up to get in on it.

Ferriss may be an expert at life design, but he doesn't know much about the modern realities of book publishing.

Here's another misguided comment from the ProBlogger interview:

I'm not doing the book for income. NOTE TO ASPIRING AUTHORS: writing books is not a good way to make money. The benefits are huge, but not often financial.

The funny thing is, in The 4-Hour Workweek, Ferriss writes about creating passive income sources that free you up to travel and live wherever you want. One of the things he strongly recommends you do to generate passive income is to produce and sell an information product.

Tim, Tim, Tim. Sounds like you're talking out both sides of your mouth. On one hand, you recommend producing books and other info resources as a way to become financially free; on the other, you say there's no money to be made with books.

Maybe he meant there's little money to be made with traditional publishing contracts, even when you have a bestseller on your hands. But I'm here to tell you that there is money to be made with independently published books. I've been doing it for years, and so have many other authors. It's not easy to accomplish, but is quite possible.

I applaud Tim Ferriss for writing and promoting an eye-opening book. But I give him low marks for propagating outdated ideas about books and publishing, and for giving voice to the tired notion of the "starving artist." He should know better.

-Bob