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October 2011

Some Great Ideas on How to Reach the School Book Market

The school book market covers an amazing range of possibilities, including day care centers, K-12, adult education, community colleges, four-year institutions, universities, special education programs, homeschooling and vocational programs. They all have the potential to be large scale buyers.

However, to break into these markets takes some long-term thinking. Promotional material sent now may not result in orders for six months or a year downstream. The plus side is that sales once made are often repeated each new semester, and discounts can be a low as 20 percent or less.

Here are some ideas to consider if you are targeting the school book market.

  • To help educators appreciate why your book would be appropriate, it's critical to emphasize any benefits that make it more likely for adoption. These might include chapters arranged a certain way to make it easier to teach, inclusion of exercises and quizzes, or review questions at the end of chapters.
  • Even if your work is not suitable as a text, it may be useful as supplemental or related material for course planning. Supplemental texts also find a fertile field in continuing education courses.
  • To get started, call the Board of Education at the nearest large city to find out who is in charge of curriculum for the subject area of your book. Often sending an examination copy can lead to an opportunity to supply a quantity of fliers that will be distributed to schools in the district.
  • A specialized mailing list can be a perfect means of reaching your target audience. Many detailed lists can be purchased for one-time or multi-use purposes.
  • The best time to mail to colleges is the beginning of summer for the fall semester and prior to October for the winter semester. Educators will expect to receive an examination copy on which they can base a decision. However, qualify your prospect before sending out an examination copy.
  • Don't overlook the homeschool market. This industry is growing steadily, and every household needs books.

One additional thought. Mailing to educators is only one way of reaching them. Most areas of specialization have focused teacher associations.  And these associations have journals and conferences. Offer your book for review, mention or exhibiting at their conferences - and track down information for attending and/or exhibiting.

The education market can indeed offer lucrative opportunities for book sales, but success will take diligence and perseverance.

[This post was created, with permission, from excerpts taken from The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing, 5th edition, co-authored by Marilyn Ross and Sue Collier.]

How to Create a Retail Bookstore Experience Over the Internet

By guest author Dana Lynn Smith.

When consumers browse in a retail bookstore, they typically scan the spines of the books until one catches their eye. Then they glance at the front cover, spend a few seconds reading the back cover copy, then flip through the pages for a closer look. For nonfiction books, people usually look at the table of contents and possibly the index.

The best way to create that experience when selling books online is to offer free book samplings or book excerpts. With nonfiction books, consumers are often comparing several books on the same topic. It's crucial to SHOW them (rather than tell them) the kind of information they will be getting, what they will learn from the book, and why your book is the best choice.

One easy way to do this is to offer a book excerpt in downloadable PDF format. Just save your sample as a PDF document, then insert a link to the document on you website or blog. Don't include all of the front matter from your book in the sampling. This is a marketing piece, and people may become impatient with scrolling through pages before they find the content they really want to see.

Fiction book readers are often reluctant to shell out money for a book by an author they aren't familiar with. Novelists can give away the first chapter or two, to draw potential customers into the story and give them a chance to appreciate the writing style.

In addition to hosting a free sampling on your own website or blog, it's a good idea to make your sampling available on other websites as well. This will increase the chances of people finding it and builds links to your own site for search engine optimization purposes.

If you plan to sell your book on Amazon.com, the "Look Inside" feature is the closest thing you can get to a retail bookstore experience. Potential customers can view the table of contents, scroll through the first few pages, and search by keyword to find specific information within the book. The number of pages that can be viewed is limited, and the pages cannot be printed.

Another advantage to participating in the Look Inside program is that Amazon's search engine may find your book when people search for books using relevant keywords.

BarnesandNoble.com has a similar "See Inside" program and also offers audio samples for audio books.

Remember, people love to try before they buy. Use these tips to sell more books by giving away free book samplings of your work.

[Dana Lynn Smith is a book marketing coach and author of the Savvy Book Marketer Guides. For more great book marketing ideas, visit her on her website at www.SavvyBookMarketer.com.]

Launching Your Book - A List of Action Items to Follow

For many writers, holding the first copy of their book in their hands is a defining moment in life. Savor it. Then roll up your sleeves, because the real work of self-publishing is just beginning. The following action items will help you get started.

  1. Save a handful of copies from the first printing for yourself. If your book takes off, you'll enjoy having a few of the earliest copies on hand.
  2. Earlier, you may have received requests from book reviewers who prefer finished books, rather than copies of the galley. Mail these review copies right away, because reviewers prefer "fresh" books.
  3. Send one-page book announcements to newspapers, radio and TV stations in your geographic area, as well as the publications of school you attended, and social, fraternal, religious and professional groups of which you are a member. Offer excerpts, interviews and live appearances.
  4. Send additional book announcements to print and broadcast media that focus on subjects closely related to your book. Offer print media the right to excerpt from your book. Offer broadcast media live interviews. Emphasize why your book is newsworthy, and how they can contact you for expert commentary in future reports.
  5. If you have received advance orders, ship them promptly, with a note of thanks and a request to tell others that the book is out. Invite each buyer to post a review at the site where they ordered the book.
  6. Donate a copy to each library, school, church or other organization in your area that might invite you to hold a live event. Offer to do readings, signings, workshops or seminars.

Here are a few other things to keep in mind.

Make your events more than just book signings. Call them "workshops" or "seminars" and try to give the audience information of practical value.

You may not want to send the announcements mentioned above strictly by email. In today's world, there is so much spam that emails are often deleted unread. Consider sending announcements by postal mail or fax.

Book reviews and media coverage may be the best ways to promote your book. They are better than advertising. First of all, media coverage is free. In addition, the public finds reviews and reports more credible than advertising.

Note that we have not mentioned bookstores. This is because most bookstores (especially fhe major chains) prefer to order from wholesalers, expect big discounts, full returnability and take a long time to pay.

And remember, even though the above steps are all important at the time you release your book, most likely you will want to repeat some of these procedures as you book gains in popularity.

[This post was created from excerpts taken, with permission, from U-Publish.com 5.0, co-authored by Dan Poynter and Danny O. Snow.]

9 Great Ideas for Promoting Your Book Through Lectures and Seminars

As an author you are an expert on your subject. People will be anxious to hear your opinions of your work. Giving lectures and readings can play a major role in your book promotion.

Any writer can find speaking engagement opportunities at church groups, the Y, PTAs, civic groups, libraries, women's and men's clubs, professional organizations, adult educational institutions, and senior centers. You might also consider giving in-store demonstrations if your subject matter lends itself to a commercial tie-in. To maximize your exposure, here are nine great ideas.

  1. Be selective and accept only those engagements for highly specialized audiences or large groups where there is more likelihood that a reasonable number of sales will be generated.
  2. Be sure to go armed with sales materials whenever you speak. If you are donating your time, don't hesitate to pass out literature, or at the very least have it available at tables.
  3. Naturally, you will need to have a case of books with you - and lots more in your vehicle.
  4. If you accept credit cards, don't forget to take the machine, order slips and table signs.
  5. To avoid the difficulty of making change, many authors figure any sales tax, then round off to the nearest dollar to keep things simple.
  6. Some authors give a small discount - perhaps 10 percent - to induce immediate sales.
  7. Be sure to weave into your presentation that personally autographed books will be available afterward.
  8. After your talk, ask the introducer to announce something like, "The speaker will be in the back of the room to autograph books." Many authors have sold thousands of books this way. Some professional speakers make more from their "back of the room" book sales than they do from their lecture fees.
  9. You'll find that establishing good communication at the early stages with your sponsor and the person introducing you will yield a smooth presentation. Make each occasion a performance!

If you feel more comfortable in a classroom setting, you're in luck. There are adult learning centers everywhere seeking experts (like you) on an expansive range of topics. Check out schools and libraries. They sometimes have budgets and enjoy bringing in speaker-authors.

With each speaking presentation, you discover your ability to perform will become better and better. As you become more comfortable as a speaker, your lecture and seminar events will become more fun and enjoyable - and you will sell more books!

[This post was created, with permission, from excerpts taken from The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing, fifth edition, co-authored by Marilyn Ross and Sue Collier.]

Six Tips to Help You Start Your Book Project

[Dan Poynter and Danny O. Snow offer the following great advice for anyone beginning their book writing project.]

Perhaps the most difficult part about writing a book is getting started. If you are planning to write a book, the tips listed below may be of great help to you.

1. Write about a subject you know well, and one that you enjoy. This will not only make the process of publishing more pleasant, but also more profitable (if you are planning to sell your book).

2. Begin writing with a specific plan that includes the topic, market(s) and physical description of your book.  For example: "My goal is to write a paperback book about organic fertilizers that I will sell for $14.95 at garden centers, tree nurseries, flower shows, horticulture clubs, from my own website and with a limited amount of direct mail. It will be about 15,000 words (roughly 100 pages) in length, 6x9 trim size, with a full color cover, black and white interior, a few illustrations, index and bibliography.

3. Make sure that your own web site is highlighted on the cover and inside your book.

4. Pick a style manual, such as the AP Stylebook or Chicago Manual of Style. Both are available at most libraries and bookstores. Follow the guidelines consistently. For example, when a quotation ends with a question, does the question mark appear inside the quotation marks or outside? Either way is okay, but your manuscript should be 100% consistent throughout.

5. A big part of writing well is economy of style: express your points clearly and simply, with as many words as needed, but not a single word more. Economy of style will later translate to economy of budget - reducing your editing costs, typesetting and layout costs, printing costs, shipping costs, and more. Non-essential pages also do a disservice to your readers.

6. Work with an editor, or at least a qualified proofreader - someone with a working background in spelling and grammar. This is true even if you are a gifted writer. Authors are often so close to their own work that they overlook problems that might seem obvious to an outsider.

And above all, enjoy the project!

[This post was created, with permission, from excerpts taken from U-Publish.com 5.0 written by Dan Poynter and Danny O. Snow.]