A note from the new head of the Small Publishers Association
January 10, 2013

On Dec. 31, 2012, Brad Flora resigned his position as the head of the Small Publishers Association of North America (SPAN). As of Jan. 1, 2013, I have assumed responsibilities and leadership as SPAN's Executive Director.

The current membership benefits will continue. The SPANnet online community and the premium educational content at SPANpro.org will develop and grow. The existing educational programs will be expanded to include more book-marketing webinars, articles, conferences, and blogs.

Stirrings from the Old and New Publishing Scene out West
December 19, 2012

For 36 years, an undaunted Irwin Zucker, himself a public relations professional, has been hosting bi-monthly meetings of the Book Publicists of Southern California, bringing together at each event a hundred or so published authors and authors on the way: to share ideas, display their works, and to learn how to sell more books.

As with IBPA -- which started a few years later as the Publishing Association of Southern California (PASCAL), with then former PW Publisher Dick Bye as President and Jan Nathan as Executive director. It then became PMA and is now IBPA, a 3,000-member strong national organization -- Zucker reveled in the trenches of book publishing outside the mainstream channels. He brought enthusiasm, hope and know-how to equip authors with the tools to work around barriers to entry and, eventually, if they found a strong enough audience, to find their way into the mainstream; or, more often, to stay independent and pocket the proceeds and the glory on their own.

Monkey Traps and Marketing
December 11, 2012

There is a unique way to trap monkeys in the islands of the South Seas. The natives drill a small hole in a coconut, hollow it out and fill it with rice. Once a monkey puts its hand in the coconut to get the food, it cannot remove its clenched fist. Refusing to let go of their prize, the monkeys are unable to escape.

Publishers can get caught in a similar trap.

Avoid the Christopher Columbus Method of Planning
November 20, 2012

Some independent publishers use what I like to refer to as the Christopher Columbus method of planning:

  • They do not know where they are going.
  • When they get there they do not know where they are.
  • And when they return, they do not know where they have been.

This is not a good way to run a business.

You can avoid this situation by writing a strategic, functional plan to market your books. Your plan should identify the most promising business opportunities. It should clarify your goals and the procedures you will use to move toward them efficiently. And it should integrate all the elements of a complete promotional mix into a strategic program to launch coordinated action. For a view of a new planning formula, look through these "ize"s.

Getting Your Words' Worth: Turning Radio and Television Interviews into Book Sales
November 9, 2012

Two concepts determine your relative success in answering questions during a television or radio performance: preparation and flexibility. In most cases you will not know the questions you will be asked during the interview. But if you know your topic and know beforehand what you want to get across to the audience, you will be able to perform more successfully.

What makes a good guest for the show does not always make a good show for the guest. If all you do is answer the interviewer's questions informatively (whether or not they lead to meeting your goals), the host will think you are a great interviewee and perhaps ask you to return. But there is no future in being a professional guest if you do not sell your books in the process.

8 Ideas for Writing More Persuasive Marketing Copy
November 2, 2012

Do you think people actually read all the information in your literature, in your press releases, or on your website? Think again. Most people do not read your marketing copy word for word, but quickly scan the page looking for information that is helpful and important to them.

People look at your promotional copy with an expectation of some possible benefit for continuing to read. They rarely study your text word-for-word. Instead, they scan the page, looking for words that are pertinent to their needs. A recent study found that 79 percent of test users scanned any new page they came across; only 16 percent read word-for-word.

30 Ways to Get Free Advertising
October 24, 2012

What if there were a way to make your book known to every potential buyer—for free? There is, and it is called word-of-mouth advertising—people talking to people. It is the most inexpensive and productive way to spread the word about your books. People singing your praises removes the aura of commercialism and instills a sense of objectivity about their recommendations. Here are 30 ideas for stimulating word-of-mouth advertising for your books in places other than the Internet:

24 Benefits of Test Marketing
October 5, 2012

Have you ever done something and later regretted having done it? Or wished you could change part of what you did? There is a way you can minimize mistakes in producing and marketing your books.

Why Bad Things Happen to Good Titles: A 27-point pre-launch checklist
September 28, 2012

In some ways, books are like humans. They enter the world as babies, full of potential and opportunity, with proud parents boasting great visions for their future success. But as they grow, something happens and very few become the success their parents hoped they would be.

When the same thing occurs to books, their authors usually never fully understand what went wrong. But you can improve the chances of your offspring's success by using a checklist to predict if a particular book has a chance of becoming successful.

Below are some general characteristics of a potentially winning title. How does your title match up?