News & Events
#015 – How To Market Your Scrummy Book
- 20th September 2017
- Posted by: Nicky
- Category: Episodes
Self-publishing is so accessible to everyone now. But there are some basic rules before we even think about launching it out into the big wide world. Then how to market a book and build marketing success.
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Is the story worth telling? Is it your personal story or are you writing a book to share your expertise? Either way, you have to know people will want to read it. And I’m not talking about novels here as they are slightly different so we’re going to focus on how you can publish a book related to your business.
I worked with an elderly guy who wanted to write about his experiences in the Marines. He wanted to leave something for his children and grandchildren to know about that part of his life. It was fascinating.
So, he didn’t want to sell it then?
No, just a memoir for the family. Published as a paperback for them to keep.
How lovely. Take my book for example. It’s partly about my story and what drove me to set up in business, but it also includes marketing knowledge and experience that I hope people will identify with together with some ideas they may like to put into practice.
I’m sure they will, Nicky. Self-publishing is so accessible to everyone now. But there are some basic rules we need to follow before we even think about launching it out into the big wide world.
What are those?
Think about how long your book will be. A standard business book in paperback will be between 50-60,000 words.
That’s a lot!
Indeed, it’s also so that when it is on a shop bookshelf, the spine width is comparable to others, otherwise, it would get lost.
What about an e-book?
Well, with a book for Kindle etc. it can be a lot less, even as little 7-10,000 words. And this brings up another important point. What is the purpose of the book? Is it because you want to raise your profile and position yourself as an expert or is it because you want to make some money.
I imagine that’s quite difficult!
It is! The business book market is very overcrowded, so that’s where marketing comes in. But just before that, it might just be worth mentioning the difference between a traditionally published book versus a self-published one.
There’s still some stigma attached to self-publishing, isn’t there? Like people don’t think it’s a ‘proper’ book.
Very true. And a lot of that comes down to the editing. Here’s another basic rule. Get someone else to read the book before you publish it. There will definitely be mistakes but you won’t be able to see them. But it’s important to say that the self-publisher is in control of everything: what to publish, costings, editing, design, layout, choosing and dealing with the printer, the print run, marketing, publicity, sales, packing and delivery of the books
And ultimately typos! The writer is too close to see it so always, always, always get it proofread. It just gives completely the wrong impression if all your hard work is ruined by something that could so easily be remedied but actually puts the reader off reading any further.
I could not agree more, Nicky! Goes for all marketing communication and material.
I think I’d add here that there is a big difference between proofreading and editing. If you can find someone who knows your subject well, it is always a good idea to get them to read and make some observations on the structure, the tone and the language you are using. Depending on your audience you don’t want to find out too late in the day that you’ve either pitched the writing too low or indeed alienated people by making it too complex.
Yes, a good editor can be hard to find but bear in mind a good editor will hold you accountable, so you do need to be open to their suggestions, otherwise, you may find yourself facing far greater criticism after your work is finished and after you can actually do anything about it.
So you have to have a thick skin then?
Well, I think today anyone putting themselves out there has to have that don’t they.
What about traditional publishing? Is it worth trying?
It can be a disheartening process, but if you’ve got a good book, it’s definitely worth it. What people may not know is that you don’t have to have finished the book before you pitch a non-fiction piece to a publisher.
No, you can pitch the idea and the first couple of chapters to see what they say. If you’re not getting a response, then you may as well go down the self-publishing route. But they may say, yes we’re interested, then you finish the book and take it from there.
People can get details of publishers from something called the Writers and Artists Yearbook, which appropriately is published every year, so it’s up-to-date with the names and details of publishers in the UK. It also states what type of book they are interested in.
That’s a really important point, Nicky. Writers need to do their research on publishers. It’s pointless just sending out a blanket proposal to every publisher. Take time to do some research to see who has published books like yours before so you can personalise your approach and give them reasons why they should be interested in what you have written.
And even if you are lucky enough to get published, you will still have to do your own marketing. Publishers will expect you to provide a marketing plan showing how you intend to promote your book, what channels you will be using, how big your database is, how many followers you have on social media etc.
Yes indeed. So, before we look at the different ways of marketing your book, let’s remind listeners that The Marketing Menu podcasts are free to download every fortnight on a Wednesday via iTunes, Stitcher, Blubrry and TuneIn or via our website www.themarketingmenu.com. We also publish a transcript of every podcast so you can go back and read what we have talked about it and access some of those all important web links.
So, we have our book, brilliantly written, edited and proofread, what’s next?
I would say think about the cover. If you’re going to have a hardback or paperback, or even a self-published book which is going to be featured on Amazon, you need a cover that is going to stand out.
I would advise not to go for a self-designed cover unless you are an excellent graphic designer as it will look really obvious and what you don’t want is to give the potential reader an impression that doesn’t reflect the quality of what is in the book.
Yes a cheap and poorly designed cover could put readers off, I know I am dreadful at choosing Kindle books particularly simply based on the cover art
Yes, exactly that! If you think about when you are looking for a book on Amazon, what are the ones that stand out? Ones with striking covers that make you want to find out more. Important when you are trying to stand out amongst all the hundreds of other books available.
It’s also very important to use the right keywords if you are publishing on Kindle. You need to think quite broadly about how people could potentially find your book in their search.
I know it sounds weird, but if you can get some reviews before you launch your book, that’s really valuable too. Obviously not from your Mum or Dad or other relatives with the same surname but maybe a colleague or client would put together a few sentences for you and you can include them in your marketing and in your description on Amazon.
It’s worth saying at this point that there are, of course, other platforms available but Amazon is certainly the biggest and is a good starting point.
What about ISBN numbers Liz, I know in a past life we seemed to have a bit of difficulty with deciding whether we needed one of those?
Good point, well a self-publishing author is not obliged to buy an ISBN. It is, however, virtually necessary if you want to sell your book on Amazon or in bookstores. Getting your hands on your ISBN is actually very easy.
Before you apply for your first ISBN, you need to decide how many titles you are likely to publish. The basic question is less than, or more than, ten different titles (or editions).
On the basis that you will probably opt for less than ten, you then apply for a publisher number – after this, you can tell friends that officially you are a Publisher!! Yippee!
Am I right in assuming you need an ISBN number to create a barcode if you’re planning on putting your book on shop shelves for example?
Ah, good point. Glad you brought that up!
The ISBN is very important for your marketing and selling, but in terms of getting your book made, you’ll need to provide the printer with a hardcopy barcode that represents your ISBN, for them to put on the back of your book. There are a bunch of companies that make the little plastic barcode that you need to give the printer. They just ask you for the ISBN and do the rest for you. When you receive your ISBN pack, it will contain a list of suppliers for you to contact.
So, now we’ve got the ISBN and the barcode, we’ve had everything edited and proofread numerous times now I’m thinking you may want an official launch; a date on which you start promoting your book either completely online or by holding an event. Either way, you’ll want to make a song and dance about it, so you may have sent a press release to local or trade press about the book and put an embargo on it until launch day.
Then you can start using your social media accounts to promote details of the book. But, be warned, asking people to ‘buy my book’ won’t work!
Do those discounts work, do you think?
They can, and if it’s just about raising your profile, then the free promotion you can get for Kindle is worth doing. But again, it’s about perception. Do people think it’s a serious book if you’re giving it away for free?
What’s the going rate for a business book?
Well, as we’re not recognised business writers, I would say between £5-£10 (hardbacks are more expensive obviously), and the Kindle version would be cheaper. The best thing to do is research what’s already on Amazon in the same genre and work it out from there. Having said that, there is currently a book by Richard Branson on there for £7.49!
Interesting! Any cheaper than that and I guess people don’t think it’s a serious contender?
Exactly – just like when you’re looking at a cover.
Then I guess it’s looking at how else you can get your book noticed. Blogs are a good way of doing this. Make a list of book bloggers and send them a copy and ask them to review it. Again, do your research, so you are targeting the right person who is likely to be interested. You can also become a guest blogger, where you use someone else’s blog to talk about your book.
It’s free, right?
Yes, they will do it for free, but inevitably they’re usually inundated, and the response won’t be instant. And, of course, it’s impartial, so they will say if they don’t like it. But, on the bright side, having someone blogging positively about your book is great marketing collateral.
I think this is also something you can do as part of a Virtual Book Tour. It’s where you’re promoting your book completely online, for between one to three weeks, rather than literally doing book signings in bookshops which are increasingly rare these days.
Yes, it’s mainly independent bookshops who would host a book launch now – the likes of Waterstones have pretty much stopped doing them unless the book is written by a celebrity.
So with the Virtual Book Tour, you have different stops each day so you might be on a blog one day, a podcast the next and then a radio show. It does take some planning – aren’t we always talking about planning here at The Marketing Menu – and requires time and effort.
But if you don’t do it, no-one will even see your book.
I had an author client who used to say it was like laying on the Amazon ocean floor!
Yes! You have to swim to the top to get noticed! And, as we said before, even if your book is traditionally published, you will be expected to do a lot of the promotion yourself.
So back to our old favourite, social media, what else can we do?
Well, you might think of hosting a competition to give away some free copies of the book, asking an appropriate question to get people hooked in. And, of course, you can share free content from the book in your posts to when people’s appetite. Not forgetting to go and comment on other people’s posts and blogs to draw attention to yourself.
Good point. When creating the posts, really showcase your expertise. You could also think of writing an article, based on your book, for LinkedIn using their blog platform, Pulse. What about a video, Nicky?
Yes, you could shoot a short video talking about the book and why you wrote it, then post it on YouTube and use it on all your social media platforms. Let the readers see who you are and your passion for your subject!
There are also opportunities to speak to local groups about your book. Libraries are particularly keen to bring in outside speakers and you can generate some great publicity around promoting the talk.
Funnily I noticed that just the other day at my local library they had a big A board outside for a local author but is this even for a self-published book?
Absolutely. In fact, if you have published a paperback or hardback, donate a couple of copies to your local library and keep a check on how often it is taken out.
And of course, there are other groups you can talk to – business events, networking groups, there are loads of opportunities if you go looking.
And last but by no means least, make sure people can find details of your book on your website! It sounds so obvious, but if you don’t have the facility to buy directly from your website, it’s very easy to forget and just direct people to Amazon, or wherever it is available.
So, the moral of the story, if you pardon the pun listeners, is that once you’ve written the book, that is just the start. Be prepared to market the bejeezus out of it if you want it to get noticed.
We hope that hasn’t put you off writing your book, everyone! It’s hard work but like most marketing efforts, so worth it.
I found this interesting Liz there was loads of stuff there I hadn’t considered thank you.
Well, that just leaves us to say thank you for tuning in to this episode of The Marketing Menu. Please do feel free to share with your friends and colleagues who you feel may benefit from what we have talked about, particularly if any of them are thinking of writing a book.
Don’t forget; we also do offer a free transcript of all our podcasts on our website themarketingmenu.com so if you’re not listening on our website, do head over there to download your copy.
And we’re also on Twitter & Facebook where we share interesting and valuable marketing tips every day so come and give us a follow.
So, tune in again on Wednesday 20th September when we’re going to be focusing on Positioning. And that doesn’t mean the way you are sitting – it’s about where is your product or service in the marketplace and do you need to think about repositioning to a new target market.
Until then, it’s a goodbye from me, Liz.
And me, Nicky, thank you and goodbye!
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