Business for Breakfast, V2: Chapter Five

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The following is a chapter from Business for Breakfast, Volume 2: The Beginning Professional Publisher.

The ebook is available from Amazon, Kobo Books, Barnes & Noble, iBookstore, and the paper version is available from Createspace.

However, if you’re like most publisher (unwilling to spend money unless absolutely necessary) I will also be posting a chapter a week, so you’ll merely have to have patience to read all twelve chapters.

Did you know that the first book in this series, Business for Breakfast, Volume 1: The Beginning Professional Writer is currently available as part of a Storybundle!?!?!? It is! There are so many fabulous books in the bundle about the business of writing. Check it out.

Chapter Five

Basic Marketing, Part Two

As discussed in the previous chapter, there are two forms of marketing:

  • Active
  • Passive

The previous chapter discussed some of the more important passive marketing that you can do.

This chapter will discuss a few more passive marketing techniques, as well as some of the active marketing that you can do.

Publish the Next Book

Think about your bookstore as a bakery.

If you publish a single book, that’s like baking a single type of cookie in your bakery.

Possibly you’ll have a lot of customers who like that type of cookie.

But customers want bread sometimes. Or cake. Or other types of cookies.

You need to add other products to your bakery to make customers return to your store.

So build a bakery of products. Maybe you’re only publishing yourself, and you write primarily in a series, so you’ll have fourteen different types of chocolate chip cookies, as well as seven types of oatmeal cookies, and nine types of macaroons.

Or maybe you publish other people, so will have just three types of chocolate chip, and an orange scone, and lemon drops, and snickerdoodles, and…

Build a bakery of goods. Give your customers a reason to come back and shop for more.

Plus, you’ll sometimes have a voracious reader come into your store. They’ll want one of everything. Kind of exciting when that happens.

Release Content Regularly

Compare these two scenarios:

Publisher A publishes when they feel like it. They have no schedule. So in January, they publish a short story. Then nothing until May, when they suddenly publish fourteen different pieces.

Publisher B publishes according to a schedule. They publish every other week. Customers return regularly because they’re guaranteed new content. In addition, they don’t forget about Publisher B in between times.

Publishing content on a regular basis is another way to passively market your content.

Perhaps your life is too busy to publish once a month, or even once a quarter. Still make sure that you have some kind of regular update, so that customers don’t forget about you.

In addition, remember that Tuesdays are king. All major publishing houses release on Tuesdays. Readers know to look for new books on Tuesdays. So make sure that you have all your ducks in a row to announce new books on Tuesdays. (Which means you’ll actually do the publishing work before that.)

Non–Fungible

Fungible is a term that is usually applied to goods and measures whether you can replace one of that kind of good with another. For example, a dollar’s worth of pennies is fungible, and can be replaced with a single dollar bill.

Books are non–fungible. Readers don’t easily accept one for another. If a reader likes romance, and is in the mood for a sweet, light romance, a book by Steven King is not going to fit the bill, no matter how popular or prevalent his books are.

So when you start thinking about actively marketing your books, you need to realize that not every book gets the same marketing treatment.

Let me put it this way—would you market a wedding cake the same way you would market a loaf of French bread? They’re different items. They serve different functions in your bakery.

As a small press, you have limited time and resources. As a publisher, you need to decide which books get a push and which don’t.

If you find yourself saying, but all my books are special and desire a lot of attention! you need to take off your writing hat and put back on your publishing hat.

Yes, all books are special. However, again, remember, you have limited time and resources. You must pick and choose.

NOTE: If you’re only writing and publishing once book per year, there are other things you need to address. See Business for Breakfast, Volume 1 ”Chapter Eleven, What’s Stopping You From Writing?“

How do you pick which books get more attention? It’s going to depend on the title you’re publishing as well as what is right for your business. Remember, your publishing empire is different than everyone else’s.

In this example, suppose you’re writing a trilogy and this is the second book. Your plan is to publish the third book in six months.

Do you want to push the second book? Or do you just want to give the second book a small push, and dedicate a lot more time and energy to pushing the third book when it comes out?

Usual wisdom is to not do much with a second book. But maybe it’s Christmas–themed, and you’re publishing it in November. So perhaps you do want to do more with this book.

For the third book in a trilogy, how much do you want to push it, versus now going back and doing a big push on book number one?

Maybe you write a lot of series, and this is a stand–alone book, in a new genre. Are you planning on writing a lot more in that genre? Is this an area you plan on branching out into? Or is this a one–off?

All of these factors come into play when you’re making the decision about what to in terms of active marketing for a book.

But…Then What?

There are whole degrees in marketing and advertisement. What you need to remember are two key things:

  • Marketing is all about placing the right book in front of the right customer at the right time.
  • Not all books are the same.

So who is your audience? How do readers who read your kind of genre discover new writers? How do they find the books they read?

I know, I know, it’s chicken–and–egg. You’re just starting out, you don’t have any readers yet! If I have readers, they’re already discovering me!

There are many ways to actively get your books in front of the right readers, including but not limited to:

  • Purchasing an ad in a magazine
  • Producing advanced paper copies of your books and sending them to reviewers
  • Participating in a book bundle (where other authors’ readers might discover you)
  • Purchasing space in a newsletter, such as Fussy Librarian or Bookbub
  • Sending out postcards to specialty bookstores
  • Joining a group of writers and producing something cooperative so that you’re each advertising each other, such as Book View Café (http://www.BookViewCafe.com) or the Uncollected Anthology (http://www.UncollectedAnthology.com)
  • Having the author send out a newsletter to his or her fans
  • Sending out a publishing newsletter
  • Doing a blog tour

Are there other roads to discoverability? Absolutely. Which one is right for your publishing business and this particular book? I can’t tell you. No one can. You get to decide for yourself what is appropriate or not appropriate. Plus, you get to change your mind later.

NOTE: For a great book on this topic, see Discoverability by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

Return on Investment

You’ll hear this term used a lot: return on investment, or ROI.

In order to measure what return you’re getting, you need to understand what it is that you want to accomplish with a particular marketing technique.

For example, what if you handed out fourteen paper copies of your book? And it only resulted in three paper sales? That would be a lousy return, right?

Except perhaps that wasn’t your goal. Maybe you handed out those paper copies of your book in exchange for reviews. So you got three reviews for fourteen books (which is a very large return, quite honestly.) And those reviews garnered other reviews, and more electronic sales?

Now would you consider it a good return on investment?

Again, you must know what you’re measuring in order to judge the return.

NOTE: For more information on this topic, see Discoverability by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

Continually Hustling

Even with my publishing hat on, I don’t think about marketing myself. It’s foreign to my worldview.

As a writer, I don’t push my books. It makes me uncomfortable.

Then I started publishing my fiancé’s books. I also started making book business cards. The front of the business card has the cover of a book, the back has a shortened blurb, along with purchasing information.

These cards are the same size and shape as a standard business card. I personally feel that makes them look more professional, as opposed to cards with a more artistic size or cut.

When I first created these, I figured I’d never hand them out.

However, I live in a city. I go out a lot. And my fiancé has shown me just how easy it is to hand out business cards to people. To a waiter. To a barista. To the lady who runs the dry cleaner business. I put them up on bulletin boards, community boards, the board at my bank.

I’ve gone through stacks of one–hundred business card.

My fiancé, who is a more natural marketer, is constantly hustling his books, as well as handing out business cards.

What is the ROI? I think for the first batch of cards, it was minimal. However, we’re so accustomed to ads, that we don’t act the first time we see something. Or the second. Or the third. Maybe by the fourth time.

Has handing out cards (and we’re on our fourth and fifth sets of different book cards at this point) increased awareness in my neighborhood as well as sales? It appears to be.

Plus, they’re great party favors.

The one thing to caution you on: My fiancé is charming. He also backs right down if someone says, “I don’t read X.” If you do try the continual hustling approach, you must know when to walk away, or you’ll just end up irritating people.

In Conclusion

Here are the three things you need to remember about marking, part two:

  • Books are non–fungible. Each one deserves its own special marketing push, or not. It’s completely up to you.
  • Know what you’re measuring when you do more active marketing.
  • If you’re continually hustling, know when to back down.

The ebook is available from Amazon, Kobo Books, Barnes & Noble, iBookstore, and the paper version is available from Createspace.

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Did you know that the first book in this series, Business for Breakfast, Volume 1: The Beginning Professional Writer is currently available as part of a Storybundle!?!?!? It is! There are so many fabulous books in the bundle about the business of writing. Check it out.

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