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17 Bestseller Tips – from Trade Publishers

17 Aug

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Bestseller-List

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If you ever see Marketing and Advertising from traditional puplishers, it’s for their Bestseller authors only, such as: Advance Book Reviews, posted on their book’s cover, Book Tours and Signings of celebrity authors, media coverage including reviews, speaking engagements, and placing at major bookstores who report to Bestseller lists.  How can author-publishers use the methods of global trade publishers to promote their self-published books?  You don’t need to travel to the Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany, like Johannes Kepler did in 1620 – yes, self-publishing was en vogue already four hundred years ago!

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7 Million Self-Published Titles:  Stiff Competition
Since 2010 roughly 7 million new self-published books appeared, almost all at online retailer’s websites.  And these titles will be offered for many years to come, as most of them are in digital format. The “gold rush” seems to be over and self-publishing has been dropping almost 50% per year, obviously “separating the wheat from the chaff”.  You’re not a New York Times bestselling author. You don’t have a publicist. And your Amazon sales numbers are awful. Should you quit writing books?  No, absolutely not!

For those of you who want to succeed at self-publishing, use also some traditional marketing methods, create a Business Plan and a Budget, including anywhere from 5-10% for your overall book marketing, including website, paying for IT help, designer, or Google ads.
Traditional publishing uses multiple ways to promote. Self-published authors attempt to market their books to the entire world via Amazon, social media, and their website it seems.  Publishers select books in order to stay in business, and also to determine what the publishing house’s identity is.  Here’s how you can copy traditional ways to market – adjusted to self-publishing.  One step at a time, but continually every day – split in small tasks.
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1. Start Early
Market Research – the very first step to do!  An editor will need to make a case that the book fills a market need. And to do that, the publishing house will look carefully at what’s out there. Has the competition a recent publication in this sub-genre? Does it have similar scope? Is it widely available?

Authors, and especially self-publishing authors need to study their competition carefully too:  Read their books, study book covers, pricing, reviews, and the marketing of competing books. The most powerful and essential steps you can take toward promoting your book begins long before the actual writing of the book. At least two years before the book is published, start building a network of supporters and reviewers.
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2. Print!
Traditional publishers concentrate on print books, which still make up for about 60% of the book market, depending if you look at book sales numbers or revenue per book.  Audio Books: The audio-book market is certainly growing, and Trade Publishers are not only investing in digital (even so it took them a very long time) books, but also in audio-books.

E-book authors might be happy with their sales on Amazon, Apple, Kobo or Barnes & Noble. You might have even turned it into an audio book. But the questions for a “real” book, paper back or hard-cover copy from conservative friends or elderly family members are nagging… And wouldn’t it be nice to walk into a Chapters or Baker & Taylor or one of these rare independent book shops and see your book in the shelf?  You will not earn a fortune, not even a living, but for a couple of months it is a nice pocket change. Only months… yes, because longer than this, barely any book will stay in the book store, unless it really is a bestseller and gets re-printed. If you go the indie route and choose for example the POD services and worldwide distribution through Lightning Source, (provided you have at least 3 books to be considered a small publisher) your book is printed on demand and will never get discarded (good: no-return-policy in POD worldwide distribution). See this article How to Distribute Your Book Worldwide.
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3. Book Sales at many outlets
Imagine you could buy all books from Penguin only in one book chain… Publishers distribute their books to as many outlets as possible, to brick-and-mortar stores, independent book sellers, mass markets, online book sellers, even via Affiliate programs.

Authors: Sell your books, e-books and audio-books not only through Amazon, but as well on Barnes&Noble, Apple and Kobo websites, to have your “eggs in more than one basket”. And don’t forget the potentially huge potential market for hardcover books, selling them to libraries all over the country!  However, there are way more online retailers for e-books and books than just Apple , Sony, Diesel, Kobo or Barnes & Noble.  Sign up with a book distributor / fulfillment company for your print-version of the book. Distributors mostly require just three books to be listed as a publishing business, and if authors have not written three books yet, they can band together with other authors to reach this minimum.  Traditional publishers and the books of their authors can be found on Bowker’s global database of books.  How to get into “Books in Print”, a worldwide database and to register your book for FREE! with Bowker is the topic of another blog posts.

Books available for future publishers:  Aaron Shepard has written two books about the topic of book distribution: POD for Profit and Aiming at Amazon, both contain very detailed information for small publishers. Another great source is Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual, a classic publishing guide-book.
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4. Sell books to Libraries
All traditional publishers sell their books to libraries.

According to statistics from the American Library Association and the Book Industry Study Group, libraries yearly purchase books for nearly $2 billion. But not only books, also audio-books and other forms of publications. Around 95% from major publishers.  Imagine, you sold your $15 book at a 50% discount to only 10% of these libraries, you will earn more than $75,000. But how can you tap into the lucrative library market?  It is explained in detail, including valuable links of wholesale companies who sell to libraries, on SavvyBookWriters here and here.
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5. Book Shows & Fairs
Representation at the applicable trade shows includes bookseller trade shows like the Bookseller Expo America (BEA) or one of the regional bookseller shows, like the New England Booksellers Association, Book Shows for the Library Association (ALA) and certainly the world’s most important, the Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany every October.

Which Book Fairs or other Literary Events will you attend in the coming months to present your work?  How to organize your participation and how to attract visitors is explained in detail in this blog post, pointing out the do’s and don’ts at book fairs.

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6. Book Signings
An author tour can take various forms. Two weeks of travel, flights from city to city, an author appearance every day, twice a day if possible.  Publishers often make their choice on the basis of three factors:  if the book can sell in quantity in bookstores; if the book can be reviewed in newspapers, not simply journals;  and if the author is presentable.

How you can organize your own book signing is explained in detail, even with a time-table, here on this blog post at SavvyBookWriters.com/blog
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7. Book Clubs
Traditional Book Publishers sometimes sponsor book clubs, or invite them to participate in a contest, such as the one offered by Random House of Canada “Book Clubs are Beautiful”.  Members suggests four or five books that they must have read and then the voting and lobbying begins until they’ve got their list. member suggests four or five books that they must have read and then the voting and lobbying begins until they’ve got their list.

Authors on the book clubs list have attended a meeting or contacted them by phone or email. Writers can find easily contact addresses of book clubs via Google. Offer them a free copy of your book, just as big publishers do. Don’t overlook virtual book clubs at Goodreads, Wattpad, Bibliophile etc.
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8. Writing Contests
Many published authors compete in writing contests, and publishing houses sometimes organize contests.

How to Get More Readers from an Award:  Publicity around a book award will boost your book sales. Contests are a great way to hone your craft and show the world how much better you are than other writers. Winning a book award for your self-published fiction or nonfiction book is a great way to gain recognition and approval. You will not only see an increase in your book sales – if you market it well – you also can add the award sticker to your cover and mention the achievement on your back cover, in your books’ description, and in all your marketing and promotions – online or offline. 25 Writing Competitions You Should Enter
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9. Content Writing for magazines & newspapers
World-famous bestseller writers from big publishing houses, such as Ernest Hemingway, Margaret Atwood, Tom Chiarella, Gloria Steinem and Stephen King did it: Writing occasionally short stories and magazine articles – before blogs became fashionable.

Your book has been launched months ago or even last year. NOW readers need to see something NEW from you. It doesn’t need to be a whole new book:
The three main assets you have already
– your writing skills
– the content you already penned
– the research you have done for your book(s) can be used to write at least 20 – 30 articles or blog posts – and if regularly posted on Google+ it is raising your Search Engine Ranking on Google tremendously.

More benefits of writing content:
– it is a subtle way to promote your book
– you receive valuable back links to your website or blog
– you will have lots of possibilities to post on Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Facebook.
– include links to your articles in email newsletter (that you hopefully send out regularly to your readers)

Post these articles on your blog or contribute guest blogs to other sites that are focused on the same topics as your book.
Content is used to draw in your ideal readers / reviewers, it will link to your book sales page or your website and it helps a lot to build a platform. Last but not least it gives you a lot of material to post and to tweet. The result: you will increase your exposure, show your writing skills, grow a loyal following and attract reviewers – in one sentence: you will achieve success with your writing – and in many cases, even get paid for it.
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10. Press Kits on your website
Bestseller authors at traditional publisher have the support of the publisher’s in-house (or out-sourced) publicity department. How much publicity support depends on many factors, but there are the basic elements that a publicity department will likely provide:  Book Press Materials.  Near publication date, the book’s publicist will email the electronic version of the press kits to a large number of applicable editors and producers to garner interest in the book. Book Media Follow-Up is the next step. The book publicist will follow up with any media outlet that responds to the mailings or e-mailings, will mail additional copies of the finished book, and will make additional calls or emails to other outlets to remind them the book is in their in-box.

To get the word out about the upcoming book launch, to receive positive articles in newspapers., magazine, book blogs, or to get interviews, writers should professionally deal with anyone who could tout their book – not only national press or TV.  Don’t make these common errors:  Not having a press page on your website for example.  Unfortunately most writers are not aware that journalists, bloggers or radio hosts need a bit more information than what they see on your Amazon page. And they won’t just copy and paste your “about the author” or the description of your book on the sales page. Check out Stephen Kings website, see how he organized his page for the media, where journalists can download high-resolution press photos.

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11. Advance Book Reviews in magazines and newspapers
Did you ever wonder why brand new books had already reviews?  New author-publishers can learn a lot in book stores:  Check out how professionally published books look like: Many of these trade books have either on their back cover (paperback) or on their binding flap (hard cover) several snippets of the book reviews, as well as endorsements from bestselling writers or other professionals, that were already written before the book was printed.
Traditional publishers may budget anywhere from fifty to several hundred “free and review” copies. Advance Review Copies (ARC’s) are what they send out half a year before book launch date.

How these pre-editions Galleys) are produced and to whom they should be sent is explained in How to Get Reviews Before Your Books Launch.  Prepare your book review query well in advance and learn what to avoid when pitching to reviewers.  Valuable tips can be found at Prestigious Reviews and How to Get Them.
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12. Radio Interviews
Bestseller authors often appear as guest at TV or radio stations. Publicists for major publishing houses have longstanding contacts to their editors and arrange interviews for bestseller authors.

Authors can go the same route, starting with internet radio stations, such as this one: The Book Report.  Don’t forget when you plan the marketing of your public events, to announce it for free on Google+ and on Goodreads, use their free Event pages.

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13. Speaking Engagements
Keynote Speakers and Motivational Speakers get handsomely paid, often $10.000 to 15,000 for a two-hour speech!  Most celebrity authors, found as speakers, are writing Non-Fiction books.

Speaker agencies, or organizers of Writers Conferences are the best approach if you want to earn more with speaking engagements than with your book.  If you are really serious about publicly speaking, join first Toastmasters.com and then the Certified Speaking Professional Association where you can get certification in public speaking.

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14. Foreign Rights
Basic subsidiary rights that publishers contract with their authors include translation into foreign languages, foreign rights, and reprint of selections by other publishers, just to name a few. An American publisher may also license a book to a British house for separate English-language publication in the UK and the Commonwealth

Foreign Rights  as well as translations into other languages can be a great way to leverage the value of your manuscript – but don’t expect big numbers right away. Additionally, it will add an international, professional image to you and your books. Revenue will be an advance and approximately 6 – 10% royalty of the retail price, minus percentage for the agent. Try to get the highest advance possible. It’s also a long-term project as it takes around 18 months until the book is translated and finally available online and in bookstores – and another half year for royalties to arrive.
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15. Bookstore Placement
Placement in bookstores, both chain and local (especially bookstores that report numbers to the Bestsellers List)  William Germano explains in his book:
Trade publishers’ marketing departments issue all kinds of catalogs to promote books—ones you see and ones you won’t unless you’re a librarian or a bookseller. The trade catalog is a publisher’s principal tool for making sales to bookstores.  Publishers with two trade catalogs bring out one per publishing season. The fall season usually begins in September and continues through the winter. The spring season begins in February or March, and continues through the summer. Books to be announced in a catalog must be securely in place at the publishing house up to a year ahead.

For those of you who want to succeed at self-publishing, use also some traditional marketing methods, create a Business Plan and a Budget, including anywhere from 5-10% for your overall book marketing including your website, paying for IT help, designer, or ads.

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16. Placement of books in big box stores
Wandering into a Walmart or Shoppers DrugMart outlet, you will most likely find close to the entrance / cashier desk the shelves of magazines and books, often from Bestseller authors. Big publishing houses sell tons of books to these big box stores – at steep discounts I must add.

If your books are selling like hot cakes, consider selling in bulk too.  Book wholesalers or websites such as ChainStoreGuide.com and TheSalesmansGuide.com, provide contact information for hundreds of buyers. You could also visit the websites of your most coveted outlets. Target even maintains a “vendor hotline” to answer questions by phone. However, be aware that having at least a dozen books is the minimum before you approach buyers at big box stores. They will not order single titles. If you have a book that should go into a specific department, for instance Sporting Goods, Electronics, Childrens, etc. contact your local store manager and ask who the buyer is for that specific department.

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17. Book Sales Page
Many big publishers and major online retailers sell from their own website print and digital books – and so can you!  How?

Get all the information you need to start selling your books from our former article:  How to Sell Your Books From Your Own Website.
Make at least 30% more on your books. Get your revenue immediately and get to know your readers, a very important point for your future marketing and to keep in contact with your customers.
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Conclusion:
This is just a small selection of the many book marketing activities that authors can copy from major publishers – beside Social Media networking.  “Just Because You Wrote a Book, Readers Won’t Line Up To Buy It!”  Yet, authors who take their publishing endaveor seriously and work as hard on their publishing business as they do on their writing, will always succeed. Read this article regarding the “Book Sales Plateau”.
Find many more detailed tips and links to all aspects of author-publishing and book marketing at SavvyBookWriters, especially how you can act like a professional publisher and take your books to the next level.  Remember that you don’t have to do all of this at once!

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