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June 2012

How Will You Sell Your Book?

It's a great time to be an author. There are more ways to publish a book than ever before and more ways to find and connect with readers.

But the low cost and ease with which books can now be published have also created a downside for authors. More books mean more choices for readers and has resulted in more competition for readers' dollars than ever before.

To make matters even more confusing, while publishing is thriving, bookstores, the traditional outlet for the majority of book sales, are in trouble. Independent bookstores are closing at a rate of approximately one per week nationally. Larger chains are cutting back. Depending upon your category, for every available space on a bookstore shelf, there are 100 to 1000 titles competing for that space. The chances that your book will make it to the shelf are slim - and once it gets there, the chances that your target reader will find your book and purchase it are almost nonexistent.

Despite all this, there are a number of things you can do  to sell your book.

Less that half of all book sales are actually made in bookstores. Books are sold in a wide variety of retail stores, from large chains to tiny boutiques. They can be found in museums, gift shops, craft stores and sporting goods stores. They are sold on websites.

To successfully sell your book, you must think beyond the bookstore and large internet sites. To sell your book you must find your target audience. Find your own special niche - the one area in which you are the expert. Particularly in nonfiction, the more targeted your market, the better. That doesn't mean that you have to settle for small sales, however.  A tightly focused target audience does not automatically mean a tiny one.

The average book sells about 300 copies. But you can beat those odds. There are as many ways to market and sell books as there are authors to write them. In a future post, we will share what we consider to be the ten basic rules for marketing a book.

[This post was created, with permission, from excerpts taken from Sell Your Book, written by Karen Hodges Miller.]

Dan Poynter's Seven Principles of Financial Success

Dan Poynter identifies seven reasons why writing and selling a nonfiction book can lead to financial success. Here they are:

1. There is more money in selling product than in selling hours. When people sell their time, they are trading dollars for hours - and there are just so many hours in a day. A book, on the other hand, is always working for you - even when you are not working.

2. There is more money in selling information about a product or service than there is in the product or service. Pick any area of business and you will probably find that the consultants, authors and seminar leaders are making more money that the other businesss owners.

3. Books reach more people. Although the second principle is true, you can only reach so many people with seminars, speeches and consulting. Books are the most effective way to multiply your efforts and bring your message to millions.

4. A book is the ideal product. Once written, a book becomes a quick, fairly inexpensive, and easy to manufacture product.

5. You control the product when you are it's sole source. Do not invest time and money producing and promoting something that buyers can buy from someone else (often at a lower price). When you control the product, you control the price - as well as the other aspects of your book business.

6. As a publisher in today's environment, you get paid sooner. Customers for many products are dealing directly with manufacturers. However, traditional publishers follow the wrong model. They manufacture books on spec and place them in bookstores hoping someone will buy them. With digital printing, you can print smaller quantities (even print on demand) and inexpensively test the market.

7. You are your best investment. Do not spend time on frivolous activities or daydreaming. Each day, you are given 1440 minutes. Put more of them to work. Invest in your future by using your time to write your book.

[This post was created, with permission, from excerpts taken from Writing Nonfiction, written by Dan Poynter.]


4 Tips to Make Your Book Business Flourish

Marketing a book is basically running a business. For your book to be successful, your business must be. Here are four tips that can help your book business flourish.

1. Make it easy for people to do what you want them to do. This applies to individual consumers, trade customers, publicity people - everyone, everywhere. Remove the roadblocks, and you'll have better results.

For example, let's assume you would like to get an article you write published in a prestigious magazine. Scrutinize the magaine carefully to find a column that gives readers useful information. Then write your piece following the format in the magazine, adhering to the word count and other guidelines. Such customizing can land you valuable magazine space.

2. Follow up. The squeaky wheel does indeed get the grease. You have a better chance of getting results you never would have achieved by continuing to ask for the sale, staying visible, and being politely persistent about PR. There is a rule of seven in business. What this means is that people must hear about you seven times before they are moved to act.

3. Apply the 80/20 rule. The 80/20 rule says you'll get 80 percent of your results from 20 percent of your efforts or customers. In essence, it means you need to determine what's working and focus on that priority.

4. Ask for what you want. A person will usually accommodate your wishes, assuming they are reasonable, if you let the person know what it is you want. Want a pleased customer to write a customer review on Amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com? Simply ask them. Want to be a speaker at an association conference? Request to be on the program.

Building these tips into your promotional efforts will help you maintain the stage for your book to perform well.

[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.]


What Makes a Great Nonfiction Book?

You want your nonfiction book to be great. As you are writing it, here are some things you perhaps have not thought about.

1. It has been reported that most book buyers do not get past page 18 in a new book. They buy it, bring it home, begin reading, and then put it down on the bedside table - and never get back to it.  Your nonfiction book has to be exciting in the initial pages to keep the reader involved and reading.

2. Getting a customer to buy your book is not enough. You want your reader to read it, underline it, highlight it, talk about it, move to action and profit from it.  Satisfied readers will recommend your book to friends.

3. Readers want information fast. Do your best for your reader by writing the solution to his or her challenges in as few words as possible. Use brief wording and paragraphs. Your reader wants just the information - he or she is not reading your nonfiction book to be diverted.

4. Use an active rather than passive voice.

5. Avoid using prepositional phrases when you can.

6. Put subjects and verbs at the beginning of sentences.

7. Avoid jargon, cliches and hackneyed expressions.

8. Remeber, your book is never finished. Parts of it become out-of-date the moment the ink strikes the paper. Your book is alway a work in progress. Think of the next printing being an update.

9. Your book can give you credibility and become a foundation for your business. It speaks with more authority than other media.

10. If you plan to seek an agent for your book, expect rejection. Even great writers have had their work returned.

Writing is a creative art. Building a nonfiction book requires planning, structure and lots of labor. It involves distilling the pertinent information for your readers and crafting just the right words to convey your message.  Publishing your book may be your goal, but the process can be fun.

 [This post was created, with permission, from excerpts taken from Successful Nonfiction, by Dan Poynter.]