Sometimes It Only Takes One

I'm pretty sure that there isn't an author out there who can say they've never been discouraged. Maybe now more so than ever, it's tough to stay positive. Publishers are publishing less, publicity budgets are shrinking and audience/reader attention spans have reduced to that of a few minutes in many cases. More and more stuff tries to get our attention on a daily basis from the Internet, TV and even radio still fits into the mix. Sometimes it's easy to feel that our book will never be found, or if we're earlier in the game, that there isn't much point writing it because no one will get around to reading it anyway. If you've felt or feel that way, don't worry you aren't alone.

Also, don't get too worried overall, there's still good news too. There are still people who get excited about books and meeting authors. I met one via email today. She's a teacher at a local school and I emailed to ask if her school does meet the author kinds of events, if she could point me in the right direction for contacts etc.

Before she answered my questions, she let me know how great she thought it was that I'd written a book. When she did answer, her excitement jumped off the page. There aren't many times in email when you want to see all CAPS, but when someone is saying she really hopes you can visit her class, a sentence of all caps is most welcome.

It just took one email to make my day brighter and to remind me why I go through all the rest of the stuff in writing & publishing. Just one. It may be a while until I get another like that, or it could happen tomorrow but it's wonderful to know there are still people out there who want to write them.

How about you? Have you gotten an email or message like this? Have you sent that note that was "just one" for someone else? Could you?

Good Writing & God Bless,
Cheryl Pickett


Do You Carry Books With You?

Today's book marketing concept is very simple. Do you carry books in your vehicle? I'm guessing at least some of you are able to answer "yes" to that one. Cool! Now how about your spouses vehicle or in any other vehicle you ride in regularly (i.e. maybe you go to lunch with your mom/dad on a regular basis in his or her car).

If you take public transportation, could you fit a copy into your backpack or briefcase? At the barest minimum, do you have information with you that has at least a description or cover art and website/point of purchase?

If not, why not?

One of very few reasons I can think of for why not to is if your book is for such a small niche market that you don't run into your readers during your "normal life" activities. Another possible reason might be if your topic is of a sensitive or particularly adult nature and those you run into regularly needn't know you have it. Fine.

Other than that, if you don't carry books, or at least information about them regularly, I ask you, how much do you really want to sell them?

Good Writing & God Bless,
Cheryl Pickett


Borrowing from What Already Works

I was made aware of two promotional strategies recently and it popped into my head that they have two things in common: the methods have already been proven to work, people already respond. The groups using them just put a little twist on them to better suit their purposes. As they say, "there's nothing new under the sun", and in marketing that's often the case. There are so many successful strategies out there, re-inventing the wheel is really not necessary, especially not when you're first starting out unless that's an area you excel in.

The first one is called The Amazing Book Race and is obviously based on the CBS show, the Amazing Race (which my husband and I happen to enjoy). It was highlighted this week on Sarah Bolme's marketing blog. The show itself has won best reality Emmy for a few years now. The basic concept has proven itself to be popular, why not start there?

The second is called The Spirit of Christmas Catalog and was brought to my attention by Carolyn Howard Johnson (frugal book marketing guru :-) ) Depending on how old you are, you might remember getting department store catalogs before Christmas and pawing through, dog-earing the gifts you wanted. Or maybe like me, some of you used to do a lot of shopping by mail order catalogs. Before the Internet, I did a lot of that. Still get a few now but not as many. Again, a concept that is known to have worked in the past in paper; this one just has a 21st century digital spin. BTW, if you're an author, this one is open for your participation at the moment.

So if you're trying to figure out some new fancy schmancy way to market your books and coming up empty, it might be time to figure out what you know works, put your own style to it, and see what happens.

Have you done this? Let us know.

Good Writing & God Bless,
Cheryl Pickett


Major Christian Publishing House Announces POD (and my thoughts about that)

One of the things I like about the whole social networking phenomenon is that there are opportunities to talk to people you would never likely meet any other way. Case in point, I follow Michael Hyatt CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing on Twitter, Facebook and I also subscribe to his blog. And while you may get the impression that this sounds obsessive, don't worry, he's amazingly open to interacting with those who wish to (as long as it's done professionally I'm sure).

Today, when he announced his company is teaming up with a major fee-based/POD company to provide those services under a new imprint, I saw it quickly and was able to pop over to see what was going on.
The vast majority of the comments so far are a combination of the angels singing allelujah and "way to go". Those of you who have been following me for any length of time are probably not surprised that I immediately checked out the site to compare it against those companies that are already out there that I've researched in the past. As with most things, good and bad with this new venture.

As far as good, the premise behind starting the POD is good hearted. Hyatt admits there just aren't enough slots at traditional publishers to accomodate everyone who wants to be published and that won't change anytime soon. This is their way of trying to do something about that, to be proactive and that's definitely good. It might not be quite the right answer, but it's movement in a positive direction.

Also in the positive column, unlike most PODs, they are offering a version of full service distribution (see more about distribution in my series on it a few weeks ago) along with the typical online distribution. And that's were the not so good starts. Westbow (the new company) has some of, if not the most expensive packages in that market. Part of that is said to be because of the association with Thomas Nelson and an implied trust factor you don't have if you pick another company just from Google. I'd say that's true unless the POD experience falls apart as it has with so many other firms.

A couple other current issues are that there's no royalty info, nor book price/cost to author info in any of the packages which makes no sense to me. Be upfront, there's no reason to hide it. Don't make people jump through hoops to get such a important info.

Going back to my earlier statement, cool thing about Michael is he really likes interacting, so I made the above comments on his blog where the announcement was made-and he answered within a hour or two. He also asked a rep from Author Solutions to do the same. If you scroll through the comments to about the last third or so (as of now), you'll see the conversation. Pretty much standard stuff from the POD rep which was disappointing. He trotted out the same tired example that's been used for quite a while now as far as a success story. If I didn't respect Michael so much, I probably wouldn't pay much more attention to this, but we'll see how it goes, if they can really be different in a good way.

Check out the whole deal here Would love to know what you think, if you make a comment over there.

Good Writing & God Bless,
Cheryl Pickett


What Business Are You In?

What business are you in? Well, considering this blog is aimed at writers and authors, your answer is probably going to include something in that realm. Your business is selling your writing, selling books. To an extent that's true, but because the world of publishing, authoring, and even how and what we read has changed quite a bit, it's probably not the full answer.

I've touched on this topic before, but today I came across a video by Seth Godin that puts it in a way I haven't seen before (or if I did see it, it didn't sink in). In case you don't know who Godin is, he's a well respected, world renowned expert on marketing, particularly in figuring out why people do what they do when it comes to buying along with other social trend type stuff.

The premise of the video is this: you're not necessarily in the book business, you're in the souvenir business. To put it another way, some people will buy your physical book because they want to own a part of the experience that is you or your style or your story. Just like you go to a concert, play or Disneyland, love the experience and then want something to buy to take a bit of it home with you. Your job as an author either on your own, or hopefully in tandem with your publisher, is to create that desire.

The video runs 35min but in my opinion it's worth at least one view, maybe even two. Here's the link.

When you're done, let me know what you thought okay?

Good Writing & God Bless,
Cheryl Pickett


The Art of a Cover

Take a minute to pop over and see the design recently picked for Pastor Rick Warren's newest book about the Lord's Prayer. Don't read the accompanying article just yet please (go ahead, I'll wait...).

Now I've got three thoughts for you:

1. It is widely accepted that today readers take only a few seconds, like less than 10 to decide if they want to pick up or look further at a book based on its cover.

2. On first impression, what do you think of it? Did anything stand out? How about the "O" in the middle? In the article, the comment is made that by design, the "O" appears you could fall right through it. If you didn't notice before, now that you read that comment, look again. I definitely feel that and I find it intriguing how such a simple sparse design accomplishes it. So often designers/authors think the more stuff, the more info you can cram on the better. Sometimes maybe, but a good designer will not only think about the information to be conveyed, but also the tone and feel of the book. If the cover can communicate that from the get go to a potential reader, it's probably a winner.

3. The cover art design was chosen through a contest. Whether you suggest it to your publisher or do it yourself as an independent, or maybe even fee-based, holding a similar contest can help you in at least a couple of ways. First, you can get a wider variety of ideas or new resources. Sometimes the more heads on a project the better. Typically, if you work with a designer you'll only get 2 or 3 unless you pay for more. Next, you can use it to build pre-publishing buzz. I didn't happen to hear about the contest itself ahead of time, but with the ease of Twitter and Facebook, as you asked for entries, it would also alert potential readers to follow you and stay tuned.

Usually, the design for a cover is referred to as "cover art" and as you can see, the term "art" definitely applies.

How did you/will you choose your cover art?

Good Writing & God Bless,
Cheryl Pickett