BOOK EXPO AMERICA
Book Expo America is held the end of May and is attended by members of the book publishing industry, authors, the media, and booksellers. The primary focus is to showcase publishers’ forthcoming books to booksellers. It’s the most important conference of the year for the book publishing industry. Many author events are held—from breakfasts and luncheons featuring famous authors, to official autograph signings, to publisher in-booth signings.
It’s an exhilarating conference. Many people use the word “overwhelming” to describe Book Expo. Truly, I absorb so much up-to-date information on the book publishing industry that it takes a while to digest everything and decide what action to take on the many marketing leads that developed during the show. Also, since I’m published by six different publishers, it’s a great opportunity to touch base with the many editors, marketing, and publicity people I’ve had the pleasure to work with over the years. Invariably, we’ll talk about my future book ideas, and many new books have originated at Book Expo. In fact, this year, I met with one of my editors and she is very interested in several of my new book ideas!
I’ll cover three main topics in this newsletter, all related to Book Expo: “Tips for Published Authors,” “Tips for Unpublished Writers,” and “Tips from John Kremer’s Book Marketing Seminar.”
TIPS FOR PUBLISHED AUTHORS
If you are a published author and would like to do a signing next year, you should contact your publisher’s publicity department early in 2010. A limited number of slots are available. Tell your publisher that you would be happy to do an official autographing or an in-booth signing AND that you’re willing to pay all of your own expenses. It’s worth it! Book Expo America is very expensive for publishers and they will only pay travel expenses for their most famous authors. By my willingness to meet the publisher half way, I’ve done official autographing events at four BEA conferences and two in-booth signings. It’s terrific exposure! Your publisher will provide 50 copies of your book. You will greet people (mostly booksellers) and sign copies very quickly in a 30-minute period. Plus, your publisher will send you an “author” badge that gets you into the conference for three days (a $200 value).
TIPS FOR UNPUBLISHED WRITERS
It’s usually best to follow the conventional route of getting published—writing a book proposal, finding an agent, who will then find a publisher for you. However, if the conventional route has not landed a book contract for you, all is not lost. After Mark Victor Hansen and Jack Canfield, the Chicken Soup for the Soul co-authors, were “fired” by their agent and turned down by 30 publishers, they decided to go from booth to booth at Book Expo with their collection of heartwarming stories and a database of 10,000 people who said they would buy their book once it was published. While this was an unconventional approach, it was very smart. All publishers send their top people to Book Expo, including acquisition editors. Mark & Jack came across a very small booth, Health Communications, Inc. (HCI). This publisher was willing to take a chance on their collection. And, of course, the rest is history—200 titles and over 112 million of the Chicken Soup books have been sold to date. Now, at Book Expo, the HCI booth is every bit as large as the Random House booth (the largest publisher on the planet). The message: Don’t give up!
TIPS FROM JOHN KREMER’S BOOK MARKETING SEMINAR
John Kremer is the author of 1,001 Ways to Market Your Books, a resource I highly recommend to all writers. I had the pleasure of taking part in his afternoon seminar on book marketing. Here are some key points and helpful reminders:
Any book you write should have a three-year marketing plan. You should love the book so much that you’re willing to spend three years marketing it.
When writing a book proposal or publicizing a book, promote the benefits of the book, rather than the book itself. Ask yourself: What will the reader get out of this?
Figure out a way for the book to stand out. What does it offer to consumers that other books don’t? What value will they receive from the book?
Make sure your audience knows your book is right for them. When I Am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple is an example of a book building slowly that was targeted to the right audience. This was the type of book that publishers didn’t feel would do well—a collection of stories and poetry geared for older women. But women aged 35-55 constitute the largest book buying audience. Sandra Haldeman Martz, the book’s editor, knew women would love the collection and tell their friends about it. She networked and got copies of the book into women’s hands. After 2-1/2 years, her anthology made The New York Times bestseller list and went on to sell four million copies!
Another great way to help a book grow is to get out and talk about it. Once someone hears you speak, they become a champion of your book and will tell other people about it. If you are passionate about your subject matter, you’ll be a good speaker because that passion will come through. For example, if you have done spiritual books, you can go on the Unity Church speaking circuit. Copies of your book will be sold in Unity bookstores.
One interesting revelation: 90% of your marketing efforts will be wasted. While that sounds discouraging, it means you simply haven’t found the 10% that works. Once you know something works, you have to concentrate on that. Kremer compared this 90/10 principle to sales—generally sales people, on average, will get nine “no” responses before they hear one “yes.” For this principle to work, YOU have to do the work—get the nine “no’s” so you can get to the one “yes.” Go knock on doors; somebody will say yes. Then, if you’ve been fortunate to determine what works, focus 90% of your efforts on the 10% that works.
A lot of success in book marketing will come through the relationships you develop—whether it’s with booksellers, the media, other authors, publishing people, or distributors.
One of the most important things in book marketing is to create a database of key people who need to hear about your book. Focus on key media contacts—not a scattershot approach.
Whenever you hear that it’s difficult to obtain media coverage, to get your book listed in a catalog, or to have a retail store chain pick up your book, keep in mind that the media are desperate for the best stories, catalogs are desperate for the best books, and stores are desperate for the best products.
Realize that you can’t do everything. Set your priorities. Decide what you can do best with your time and your money, and what you enjoy doing.
Every once in a while, shake things up. Break some rules. Rock the boat—or you could be missing out on some great opportunities!
MAKE NO LITTLE PLANS. They have no power to stir a person’s heart. Don’t let other people make small plans for you. Don’t let anyone stop you from your dream.
John Kremer said that as much as we’ve heard “doom and gloom” about the book publishing industry, it’s simply not true. Book sales overall have not fallen off; rather, former “book store sales” are simply going elsewhere. For example, if you think your book would do well in a special sales environment (outside of a bookstore), you need to be able to tell a buyer for a store such as Pottery Barn exactly where your book would fit in their stores and why it will appeal to their customers.
John Kremer finished his workshop by stating, “The key to marketing is to give and give. It all comes back to you!” You can subscribe to his very helpful newsletter at his website: www.bookmarket.com.
© 2010 June Cotner, publishing consultant and author of the bestselling Graces and Dog Blessings and 24 other books. PO Box 2765, Poulsbo, WA 98370 firstname.lastname@example.org
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