Monday, March 29, 2010

Join Our Free Book Publicity Teleseminar on April 7, 2010

My colleague Terry Whalin, a publisher, author, and former literary agent, has talked me into doing a free Q&A teleseminar for the subscribers of his newsletter (Right Writing News; subscribe here) and I’d like you to join the call, too, if you can.

It’s Wednesday, April 7 at 8 p.m. EST (7 p.m. Central, 6 p.m.Mountain, 5 p.m. Pacific) and will last just an hour.

Terry and I are going to talk about my favorite subject: How to build book buzz.

He uses a fun approach for these calls: Participants submit questions in advance. That way, we make sure you get just what you need from our Q&A session. So . . . if you could ask me ANY question you wanted about how to build buzz for a book, what would your question be?

Here's your chance to ask me directly and get registered for our call on Wednesday, April 7, 2010. Go to to register. Once you do, you can download my free special report, Beyond the Press Release: 10 Exciting Book Buzz Ideas That Will Take You to theTop. You will receive the complete report when you ask a question and register for this teleseminar.

After you submit your question, you’ll find out how to get phone and Webcast access to Terry Whalin and me for our LIVE telewebcast, April 7th, 2010. Don't worry if you can’t be on the call -- go ahead and sign up anyway. The entire teleseminar will be recorded and everyone who signs up will receive an e-mail with the replay link.

I hope you can join us. I will share lots of helpful information -- information you're asking for -- so I know it will be good use of your time.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Skinny on Amazon Bestseller Campaigns

A recent posting on a writers’ forum asking about the Amazon bestseller campaigns got me thinking. The author asked if forum users thought she could create her own campaign without purchasing a pricey program that tells you how to do it.

These bestseller campaigns rely on a simple concept: Buy the book on a certain day and the author will give you lots of free electronic downloads – books, booklets, audio files, and so on – as a reward for purchasing on that specific day. You can create one of these campaigns without purchasing a system if you know the formula, have saved sample messages you have received from others who have employed this technique with success so you know what language generates action, and if you’re already a skilled marketer and copywriter.

Here’s the basic formula:

  • Set a sale date for your campaign a few weeks into the future
  • Compile a list of e-zine publishers or marketers with large mailing lists that already reach your target market; convince list owners that folks on their list would welcome a marketing message about your book
  • Scour the Internet for reports and other free products that should be interesting to your target audience and secure permission to offer them to people who buy your book on the designated day
  • Write a series of marketing/sales messages that need to go out to all of the lists
  • Create and implement a marketing plan to support your campaign
  • Create a Web page to house links to all of the free downloads
  • Have a system in place to get the URL for that Web page to everyone who buys your book on on the designated bestseller day

I understand the appeal of these campaigns to authors. Really, I do. But they’re not as effective now as they were when the concept was novel a few years ago. Let me explain a little bit why, and then I’ll explain why these campaigns make me uncomfortable.

They’re less effective because they rely on electronic mailing lists comprised of people who are savvy enough about Internet marketing by now to know how these things work. Unlike your Great Aunt Tilly, who might think that getting all of these free e-books when she buys a book on Amazon is a super duper deal, the people on these lists are a little jaded. Been there, done that. They have already received these freebies or others like them elsewhere in their travels and discovered that they didn’t have time to read or use them. The novelty has worn off. So…the return on investment for bestseller campaigns might not be as great today as it once was.

Why do these campaigns make me uncomfortable? Because they aren’t authentic. Campaign book buyers are often buying a book they have no interest in simply to get the freebies. They’re either interested in the free content or they are people who can’t resist a bargain – shucks, for $12.43 on Amazon, they get lots of stuff they didn’t have to pay for – “a $563 retail value!” If it works as hoped, authors end up selling their book to people who would never have bought it otherwise – which seems a bit like a scam to me.

Yes, I’d love to claim bestseller status for any of my books, but honestly, I’d want the buyers to make the purchase because they want to read the book. It’s a bit of a purist attitude, I know, and maybe it’s one that will cost me a few royalty checks at some point. And I’m all for adding incentives to make the purchase more appealing, but making those incentives available only on one day? That’s like admitting that your book won’t sell without them and I’m not willing to do that.

What do you think about these campaigns? If you've done one, what were the results?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Register Before Monday to Get ASJA Writers Conference Discount!

The 39th Annual ASJA Writers Conference is April 24 & 25th, 2010. I'm in; are you? You have just 48 hours left to cash in on big savings and take advantage of the early registration discounts that expire at the end of the weekend (

You won't want to miss this year's expanded schedule offering 20 sessions on Saturday, including specialized tracks geared toward writers at all stages of their career. Whether you're just "Getting Started," are a "Beginner" or "Advanced" writer, or fall somewhere in the middle as an "Intermediate" writer, there are panels just for you. There's also an all-new Technology track that will walk you through things like how to use the hottest "must-have" gadgets geared toward writers and how to put Twitter to work for you.

Here are a few of the highlights from our friends at ASJA:

  • Querying 101: Make the most of your first impression. Senior editors at three major magazines give inside tips on the best way to introduce yourself, what to include in a really great pitch, when it's too soon to follow-up, what subject lines grab their attention, and more. You'll also get some examples of their favorite pitches and letters of introduction.
  • Creating Kill-proof Copy: Cut out edits. Editors from three major national magazines tell how to avoid common mistakes that result in multiple edits, pieces getting killed or, most importantly, not being considered for future work.
  • Posting for Dollars : Why not get paid to blog and tweet? Learn how to brand your blog, develop your platform, and get paid for those posts and witty tweets. Hear from editors who hire freelancers to blog and tweet as well as writers who are earning money with each click.
  • Content into Cash: Create and Sell Information Products: Give your income a hefty boost by creating and selling e-books, reports, and instruction manuals, and more. Come hear how to turn your intellectual property into information products without the involvement of a book or magazine publisher. (I'm a panelist on this one.)
  • Links, Friends and Tweets. Using Social Networking: Blogging, tweeting, connecting and podcasting can open doors with editors and agents. Hear how to increase your social networking platform and learn just how social editors expect you to be.
For up-to-the minute news about the conference, be sure to follow the conference on Twitter at @ASJA2010.

I'll be there; I hope you'll join me!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Are Facebook Fan Pages Effective Marketing Tools?

Harvard Business Review reports in the March issue that companies using Facebook and its fan page application to market themselves to customers can significantly increase:
  • Sales
  • Word-of-mouth marketing
  • Customer loyalty
According to research at Rice University's Jones Graduate School of Business cited in the article, Facebook fans of Dessert Gallery (DG), a popular Houston-based café chain:
  • Made 36 percent more visits to DG's stores each month.
  • Spent 45 percent more of their eating-out dollars at DG.
  • Spent 33 percent more at DG's stores.
  • Had 14 percent higher emotional attachment to the DG brand.
  • Had 41 percent greater psychological loyalty toward DG.

Does this apply to other businesses? When Duck brand duct tape used its fan page to introduce its digital camouflage duct tape to its nearly 1 million Facebook fans, the company sold hundreds of rolls online in minutes.

What's the best use of a fan page that you've seen?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

5 Publicity Myths

You don't need special skills or experience to generate publicity for your business, organization, product, or service. And you definitely don't need to be discouraged from trying to get media exposure by people who tell you otherwise. Here are the top five publicity myths I'm seeing and what you need to know about them.

  1. You have to express yourself well in writing. Sure, it helps to be articulate and get to the point quickly, but if you've got a great story to tell, it will shine through, whether you write "your" when you mean "you're" or make a few spelling mistakes. Journalists are more forgiving when the source of a good idea is somebody who doesn't write or pitch for a living.
  2. It's important to send your news to as many media outlets as possible. In fact, that could get you in trouble. You want to send your news to the most appropriate media outlets. That might be a handful, it might be 100. Be realistic about who might care about your story.
  3. You must have media connections. If you've researched your targeted outlets and determined which reporter/producer/gatekeeper is the right person to receive your pitch and if you've got the right story for them, you don't need special connections. I once placed a story on the front page of The Wall Street Journal through a reporter I had never communicated with before. It was a good story and I got it to the right person.
  4. Fairy dust is a must. Effort is what's really required. Make the effort to offer a good story, understand what your target media outlets use, find the right person to pitch to, and express your idea clearly.
  5. If you don't experience immediate success, you must be doing something wrong. Sometimes you're in the right place at the wrong time. One of the keys to publicity success is persistence. Don't give up. Learn as much as you can about why your idea was rejected and use that knowledge with your next pitch. Your skills will improve with practice, and so will your success rate.

This isn't rocket science. You can do it yourself. Take the time to learn about the process and how it works, and you'll be better prepared to enjoy the success that many others who don't do this for a living -- including retailers, physicians, consultants, authors, and nonprofit leaders -- experience on a regular basis.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Real Winner in the Childish Milkaholic Lindsay Publicity Stunt is E*Trade

Lindsay Lohan's silly $100 million lawsuit against E*Trade over its milkaholic baby commercial sure has gotten the troubled actress back into the headlines, hasn't it? Yes, people are laughing about the baseless lawsuit, but they're talking about Lindsay Lohan again. And when you crave attention, you don't care what people are saying about you -- all you care about is that they're talking about you.

While Lindsay is foolishly pointing out a possible-but-not-likely connection most of us never even saw in the funny commercial, the E*Trade brand is getting a lot of priceless publicity it didn't ask for and couldn't buy. I hope the company will leverage adult Lindsay's narcissistic legal challenge by creating a blatant parody video with the milkaholic baby Lindsay ranting about how she will file a counter-suit citing defamation of character. It will go viral quickly.

Today's news reports addressed the lawsuit; tomorrow's should feature lighthearted interviews with E*Trade's marketing team having a little fun with this. I hope they milk this for all it's worth.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

How to Submit Your Books for Review

This posting originally appeared in the February 10, 2010 issue of my free e-zine, Build Book Buzz. A subscriber asked me to offer it here, too, so she could link to it from her blog. I hope others find it helpful, too.

Our guest columnist this issue is my friend and colleague, Dana Lynn Smith. Dana is a book marketing coach and author of several books, including The Savvy Book Marketer's Guide to Selling Your Book to Libraries. For more tips, follow @BookMarketer on Twitter and visit Dana's book marketing blog. Get a copy of the Top Book Marketing Tips e-book when you sign up for her free book marketing newsletter.

Book reviews can be a powerful marketing tool for books of all types. Potential customers learn about books by reading reviews in newspapers, consumer magazines, professional journals, newsletters, e-zines, book review Web sites, online bookstores, and other blogs and Web sites. In addition to bringing books to their attention, well-crafted book reviews also help the reader determine if a book is a good fit for them.

Submitting books for review can be time consuming and the costs can add up quickly, but the selling power of reviews is well worth the effort. You can save time and money by planning in advance, being selective about where you send review copies, and following submission guidelines exactly.

Competition for reviews in newspapers and book review journals is fierce. When submitting review copies to publications, make sure your book's subject matches the audience and the book meets the publication's review guidelines. Some publications review only certain types of books and some only review prior to or within a certain time after publication. For example, The New York Times only reviews books available in retail bookstores.

Book reviews in newspapers are getting harder to come by, but many special interest magazines and newsletters do book reviews or mention books in articles related to the book's topic. Use a search engine or library reference desk media directory to find consumer and trade publications or check the magazine database at Wooden Horse Publishing (there is a small fee).

Bookstore buyers and librarians base many of their ordering decisions on reviews in the major book review journals. Eligibility and submission instructions vary by publication, so be sure to read the requirements carefully.

Online book reviews can also be a great book marketing tool. Having lots of good reviews on can boost sales, especially for nonfiction books where customers are comparing several different books on a particular topic. There are numerous other Web sites that feature book reviews. Even if reviews on these sites don't generate many sales, they are a good source of testimonial quotes to use in your marketing. Use a search engine to look for book review sites and book blogs related to the type of book you write.

For a list of online book review sites, along with tips on getting reviews on and other Web sites, read Annette Fix's article about online book reviews at the WOW! Women on Writing Web site. Yvonne Perry at "Writers in the Sky" has also compiled a list of people and organizations that do book reviews.

Use caution when sending review copies to individuals who request them. Some people have good intentions, but simply won't find the time to write a book review, while others offer to write reviews mainly as a way to get free books. If you don't know much about the reviewer, it might be a good idea to politely inquire what other book reviews they have done and where they were published.

"I sent copies of my book to book bloggers who responded to my e-mail that they indeed wanted to review the book, but who never reviewed it. I later realized that I wasn't anyone to them, so my book got buried in the avalanche of books they receive," says Phyllis Zimbler Miller of "I found that bloggers on my virtual book tour and book reviewers whom I connected with through social media were much more committed to actually reviewing my book."

Several publications, including Kirkus Discoveries and Clarion, offer paid book review services. In addition, many online book review sites will guarantee a review within a certain time frame in exchange for a payment. However, the practice of paying for book reviews is controversial. Some people think that paid book reviews are biased since they are done for a fee and that it's a waste of money. Others maintain that paid reviews are just as fair as other reviews and that reviewers need to be compensated for their time.

Librarians and booksellers know which publications do paid reviews, so reviews from those sources won't carry much weight with them. But paid reviews might be seen by consumers and they could generate good quotes for book marketing purposes. If you do use paid reviews, be cautious about investing too much.

Wherever you choose to send your galleys and review copies, plan ahead and get them out as quickly as possible. And, whenever customers give you good feedback on your book, be sure to ask for permission to add their quote to your testimonial list and ask if they would be willing to post their comments on

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Why Media Coverage Usually Covers More than You

When The Wall Street Journal does a front page story about eyelash products, I pay attention, especially when I've just seen a "Today Show" segment on eyelash enhancers a few weeks before. But it's not because my thin, light lashes need help. It's because I know that one of the brands featured in the publicity has got a good campaign rolling and I'm wondering which one is the machine behind the excellent national media exposure. It's hard to tell because each of these pieces uses multiple sources and features competitive products.

And it wouldn't surprise me if one of the marketing executives at the company funding the campaign is disappointed in this exceptional exposure because it is not all about his product.

Anyone pitching the media on a new trend/product/service needs to understand that 9 times out of 10, it will not be about you and only you. When it's only about you, it's an advertisement, not an article, and publicity is about the news side of the business, not the advertising side. This is important because it's one of the biggest issues I see among those who are not informed about how the publicity process works. Their expectations are unrealistic (and nobody has taken the time to educate them and manage expectations).

Tip: When pitching a story or segment on your new product/service/trend, do the legwork for the journalist -- identify others they should interview to get a complete and well-rounded story, provide industry statistics, offer to help acquire appropriate illustrations or graphics.

Even when a media outlet profiles you, it's not always just about you -- the writer will often talk to co-workers, competitors, or friends to round out the story.

Back to the eyelash enhancers: Kudos to the team using the media to bring these products to our attention. You're doing a good job of it. And if one of your clients is complaining that the news coverage also puts the spotlight on competitors, show him this piece.