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What To Do When Your eBook Isn’t Selling

June 14th, 2012 . by Peggy

Here are some tips not just from me, but from other Authors or creators of information products.

1. Write a second eBook.

Yeah, I know, this sounds completely counter-intuitive, but this one really does work. Why? Think “inbound links”. In terms of discoverability, the effect can be magnified many times. (Think SEO benefits.) This is a great place to expand in greater detail or to focus on one particular topic area. Every sales book I’ve ever read talks about this in some way, and yes, it has personally worked for me. It’s given me credibility as a topical expert, and has gotten me speaking gigs, where I ultimately sold more books.

2. Check that you’re being really, truly visible.

If you’re not always on the move, producing more content, the market will know. It’s a wheel that takes a lot to get rolling, and if you stop pushing it, the momentum you’ve built can only take it so much farther without you. Are you blogging? It creates more traffic to your sales page. Using social media? Twitter is free and works on any smartphone. Talking about your eBook somehow, to someone, every single day? Are you doing speaking? All of this is what’s known as “working it”, and that’s the real job of an Author – not writing. Never underestimate the power of a t-shirt with your domain name on it. I’ve gotten at least a half-dozen clients a year from that alone.

3. Revise it.

I’ve had one book that’s had three titles and four covers. Admittedly, they were not all great, but when sales have not been as expected, I take it down, revise it, put on a new cover, or change the platform. (Ie., if it’s not selling well as a PDF, try moving it to the Kindle format. Fresh market, new links, etc.) This is exploiting the most advantageous aspect of an eBook: it’s not carved in stone. It’s a living document that you can re-upload at any time. (Watch your version tracking, in a hidden spot in each book’s copyright page that tags it v.1.0, v.1.1, etc.)

4. Create parallel content.

By parallel content, I mean creating content that is not exactly what is in your eBook, but that is very clearly and closely aligned to it. If your eBook is about weight loss, create a low-cal recipe blog. Make a few cooking videos for YouTube with links to buy the eBook. (Video is so simple now that it really is inexcusable to not do this for such a visually-oriented subject.) If you’re talking about how to be a great consultant, write a few articles about how to manage your billing and accounting. Thinking with empathy about the needs of your audience will clue you into topics of interest very quickly.

5. Solicit some reviews.

There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of review exchanges out there – just Google “book review exchange”. (The concept is, “I’ll review your eBook positively if you review mine.”) They are typically no cost, and can mean anything from an Amazon Kindle review to an actual interview or blog post. I’ve heard one very successful Author suggest that you should aim for a few more each month. Again, this is actually about creating more inbound links to your content, ie., SEO benefits.

6. Examine your metadata.

Metadata is all the stuff you don’t see, but your computer does. For example, when you upload your eBook to Kindle, you are asked for keywords related to your eBook, and to choose a category, name all the contributors, write a description, and more. Did you actually do all of that? Does it need refreshing? Did you add keywords and check the page title and so on when you built your blog or website? Did you max it out? Hidden stuff mixed with quality visible stuff is what attracts traffic.

7. Setup an affiliate marketing program.

This takes a little more effort, but once setup, can be a virtual money machine. (Again, I have an upcoming Cheat Sheet about this. Watch my announcement list or the Facebook Page for details.) Essentially, offering to pay other website owners or list owners for marketing your eBook can be extremely cost-effective, and can be done almost indefinitely. You can listen to an audio about this topic that I recorded here: http://funnygirlmarketing.com/ (Once you sign up, check out week 3′s recording. It’s free.)

8. Examine your consistency.

By this I mean not just consistency in how often you do certain actions, like a certain number of tweets per week or writing a blog post each Tuesday, but also consistency in your messaging. Have you been sending mixed messages to your audience? Are you known for certain catch phrases? Do you use them often enough? Do you clearly align your objectives for each chapter with the messaging for the entire eBook? Does your blog also reflect that same mission and attitude? Do you practice what you preach? Do you slip? (We all do – don’t knock yourself up over that. Just get back on track.)

9. Check the usability of your shopping cart.

This is one of those stupid things that we might assume is working, but perhaps isn’t working all that smoothly from the viewpoint of the buyer. It’s amazing what can cause a consumer to abandon a shopping cart. I’m not talking about system failure, but instead, how easy and obvious things are. I have a “filter” person that I ask to test all things like this for me – my Mother. If it passes the Mom Usability Test, it’s good enough for the general public. It has often surprised me what things can trip people up. Sometimes it’s the location of a button, or the words actually on the button, or the colour of the button. It’s crazy.

10. Check your Klout.

Klout.com is an impartial way to know and gauge how you’re doing in the world of social media. Examine your rating, the details and explanation, and compare yourself to others in your business. For those lower on the scale than yourself, watch for the up-and-comers. For those higher on the scale than yourself, what can you learn from them? What can you emulate?

In my experience, for my own books and those of my clients, it’s often the little things that make the biggest difference. This list is a starting point that may lead you down side roads that you had not considered. Testing things scientifically is important: make one change at a time, and watch the results. And of course, everything is worth testing.

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18 Book Promotion Tips

April 24th, 2012 . by Peggy

Check out this list of 18 ways to promote your self-published (or traditionally-published) book or ebook.

1. Create a blog.

If you still don’t believe in the power of blogs for book marketing, check out this article by Nancy Hendrickson: http://ezinearticles.com/?Why-Authors-Need-to-Blog,-Even-If-No-One-Is-Reading&id=797505. Remember that the blog is not in addition to your website, it IS your website.

2. Write on the blog.

It sounds like 3+ times per week is the magic number to build traffic. Although, some Authors disagree, such as John Locke, who says that blogging more than once per month is a bad idea. Read his book How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months! to find out why.

3. Build your list.

I use 1shoppingcart.com and MailChimp.com to do this, but you can also use aWeber.com and any number of other services. Build a list of people interested in your product up to a year before it’s released, and you’ve got pre-sales, my friend. Hint: all the social media stuff you hear about is really about building your list. Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.

4. Use podcasts.

I have a face made for radio, and I work it: check out the OLD podcasts I’ve created at BlogTalkRadio.com. Download ‘em, trade ‘em with your friends. I also do mobile interviews with two headsets on my laptop, and record them as .mp3′s for regular release on this blog. Use Audacity (it’s free!) to record, edit, and output high-quality .mp3′s. As easy as a VCR.

5. Offer a free downloadable sample chapter of your book.

When people sign up for your email list, give them something nice in return, such as a free chapter in .PDF form. Ask the Artist who typeset your print book to deliver this as part of their package of services to you, so that you can be sure to deliver the download in the same attractive layout. Or, be sure that you offer a sample chapter of your eBooks on Kindle. One way or another, let them try out your stuff.

6. Create a simple and clear landing page.

The idea here is to create a special page on your blog that is designed only to sell the book – that’s it. Make sure that people can easily and quickly “get” who you are, even if this is their first taste of what you have to offer. Place attractive “buy it now” buttons that leap directly to your shopping cart in highly visible locations. If they want to know more, give them links back to your regular blog, which also has easy “buy it now” buttons in highly-visible locations.

7. Use affiliate marketing.

It was Dan Poynter, self-publishing guru and author of over 100 books who said rightly, “A bookstore is a lousy place to sell a book.” Make online selling your primary sales venue, and the way to do that is with an affiliate program organized through 1shoppingcart.com. (For additional info on how to actually implement this, see my other blog posts or forthcoming Cheat Sheet on the subject.)

8. Read John Kremer’s book, 1001 Ways to Market Your Books, Sixth Edition.

I just love this guy.

9. Setup an email signature.

Mine is linked to my RSS feed, so that whenever I send out an email, people can click on a cute little headline bar and read my latest blog posts. At the very least, setup one that links back to your landing page.

10. Tell your Mother about the book.

My Mom is great about bragging about her kids – yours could be your greatest marketing asset. But don’t stop there – the idea is to work your personal connections. It’s amazing who knows who in this world.

11. Expect to give away about 10% of your printed copies, or about 200 copies of your security-protected ebook as promotional copies.

Send these to reviewers in magazines, radio hosts you admire, other authors you admire, industry leaders, teachers, trainers, favourite Bloggers, etc. Just be sure that all promo copies are being given to someone appropriate in your niche – don’t give a cookbook to a political talk show host. Biggest thing to remember here is to empower your promo recipients: give them tools to help you sell, such as a link to leave a review on Amazon, your website, the link to purchase the eBook, and a link where they can signup as your affiliate.

12. Create 3 short talks of 20 minutes or less that concern your book’s topic, and present at local service club meetings.

Find these groups in your local directory, Chamber of Commerce, etc., and ask to speak to the person who organizes speakers for the group. When you present, don’t be too “salesey”, and be sure to give away a free somethingorother, which may not necessarily be your book. (I always give away chocolate, and tactfully leave the book on a nearby table offered for sale.)

13. Partner with another Author.

Don’t think of them as competition. (There is no such thing anymore, anyway.) Instead, if they offer a compatible product or service, you can target new markets together. Perhaps even form a small group of Authors – the more, the merrier!

14. Approach your local independent bookstore.

Small bookshops, rather than large corporate sellers, always appreciate an opener something like, “I’d love to create an event at your store that would draw in more foot traffic…”)

15. Get vinyl letters cut for your car.

Put your domain name (which is exactly the same as your book’s title, right?) on the back or side (or both) of your car. This is so cheap now that everybody should do it for almost any business.

16. Keep the car (above) clean!

17. Don’t hand out business cards – hand out postcards.

This was a great tip given to me years ago by a beloved business mentor. People toss business cards, but they keep attractive postcards that have content of real benefit to them. In addition, you have more space to tell your message, make a special offer, etc.

18. Write articles for eZineArticles.com.

These don’t have to be deep or complicated, but they do have to be good quality. Cap them at about 500 words for greatest readbility, and keep it tight. Read their submission guidelines here: http://ezinearticles.com/editorial-guidelines.html

Want more of these tips? Subscribe to my newsletter and you’ll get this stuff all the time. Click here to subscribe: http://eepurl.com/jQ-lf

 

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Keyword Research – Download This

April 8th, 2010 . by Peggy

This is the revised version, April 2012.

Keyword research is so very important that I want to highlight this tip sheet for my readers. Please download this free PDF for a fast introduction to the why and how.

I recently gave a talk for the Nanaimo Women’s Business Network here on Vancouver Island, and for the Ladies Who Launch in Vancouver, and we talked about keyword research quite at bit more than I had intended to. I suppose I really am an Uber-Geek, because I actually enjoy doing keyword research. Seriously. This is how I spend my evenings while all of you are out dancing at the local pub.

You should do a basic keyword research exercise (30 mins to 2 hours) before you do any of the following;

  • write a book
  • even think about writing a book
  • decide on the final title for your book
  • design the cover for your book
  • create a company logo
  • setup your website
  • create business cards or brochures or advertising
  • write a business plan (especially this!)
  • create a blog post
  • put anything on social media sites
  • create a podcast
  • revise any of the above

I’m not trying to freak you out – I’m just trying to make it clear how important this is. The document is free, so please feel free to re-distribute it to friends.

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Next-Gen Storyteller: Felicia Day

February 12th, 2010 . by Peggy

If you haven’t heard of @FeliciaDay, you’re missing out on the next Carol Burnett. She’s what I call a next-generation storyteller – and here’s why.

Of course she’s beautiful, hysterically funny, and wickedly clever, but more importantly: she understands what technology will do for her. It’s not what you’ve got, but how you use it.

Day’s Wikipedia entry reads like someone much older than her youthful 30 years. (Like, turned down acceptance to Julliard? Whoa.) A master of a number of art forms, she is an accomplished violinist, opera singer, dancer, screenwriter, actor and scholar. Her real new media fame came in 2007 when she embraced web video for her project “The Guild”, which is a web comedy available for viewing and download on a variety of web video sites, including iTunes.

But, what makes her a “next-gen storyteller”?

Two things: extension and technology. It’s not just that she has a trendy web show based on computer gaming – it’s waaaaay beyond that.

Day makes high quality and often personal connections with her audience, both real and virtual. She regularly mingles with fans at various conferences (such as ComicCon in San Deigo each year) and many live screenings and non-profit events. She understands that the story extends off the screen, however small it may be. Then, she uses all technology mediums available to her to extend this story, including a wide variety of social media outlets, and even a music video (“Do You Wanna Date My Avatar”) in which she sings and dances to a song of her own composition. (To-die-for-funny: $1.99 on iTunes.)

Check out this timeline:
- 2007: releases first season of “The Guild” loosely based on her own experiences as an avid player of online games. The primary outlet is YouTube, and it’s free. Halfway through this year, she grabs a Twitter ID and starts posting.

- 2008: At least partly thanks to exposure from The Guild, Day is cast in a variety of other parts, including the genre-defining “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” (another web comedy).* She even has a guest spot on the TV series House. She also releases Season II of The Guild, and works on another web project with her Guild co-star Sandeep Parikh, Legend of Neil. MSN makes a deal with The Guild to expand releases to XBox Live, MSN video, and Zune, and suddenly, Day is earning money from this venture.

- 2009: The third season of The Guild is released to its’ now rabid fans, and Day herself achieves one of the most coveted social media trophies: the #3 most-followed person on Twitter. (As of now, she’s somewhere around #50.) She also continues to guest star on a variety of mainstream TV shows like Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse.

Just three crappy years, and it appears that she’s so busy doing web video that she no longer has time to pursue work in film, which is much more risky and far less fun.

Day uses all that the web has to offer: iTunes is just the tip of the iceberg, even though for most this would be considered killer bread-and-butter distribution. The deal with MSN is freakin’ brilliant, allowing her to penetrate even deeper into the community that has supported her from the beginning: online gaming. She’s every Gamer’s dream girl.

Like Madeline Kahn and Mae West before her, she plays down her obvious beauty, and writes, directs, acts, and allows her comedic nature to help her story. She is one of those multi-talented women that has been allowed to explore her creativity – and we love her for it. She is still warmly received by her community, and often pokes fun at the roles she’s played, and any possible criticisms of ‘selling out’ (Parikh: “Where’d you get all this money? We make a web series..??!!??”) by making even more content with that community.

I have to admit, my favourite part of this story is the music video. Again, quality rules: the crossover only works because it’s actually a good song. It offers the other cast Members a chance to really strut their stuff along with Day. (Wow – check out Parikh’s backflip, and it turns out Okuda is a fantastic dancer.) Her people love her, and she loves them right back.

Can anyone replicate this recipe? Of course. If you can’t cook, ally yourself with people who can: Felicia allies herself with technology experts (even though, importantly, she has a strong grasp of the technology herself) and with other actors and creatives.

The NG Storyteller never goes it alone, but they boldly blaze the trail for those that support them.

*DHSAB is a creation of the brilliant Joss Whedon, inventor of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (where she has previously guest-starred), Firefly, and a string of other mainstream and web hits.

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FaceBook Pages: A Great Example

December 10th, 2009 . by Peggy

Check out the Facebook page run by Self-Published Author Carla Johnson-Roorda about her book “Magnetic Real Estate Photography”, which by the way, is a really great book. (Now also available at Chapters.ca.)

Hers is an excellent example of how to “work the page” – she updates it regularly, keeps it focused yet interesting, and spreads her reach to parallel industries, such as real-estate investing. Nice job again, Carla!

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Podcast: Freado.com and BookBuzzr.com

July 14th, 2009 . by Peggy

Here’s a quick interview with Vikram Narayan, President of Freado.com, which produces two great new promotion tools for self-publishing Authors. Think Social Marketing for Authors at high speed.

This 15-minute interview introduces Freado.com and BookBuzzr.com, which allow any Author to promote a book excerpt, promote how to buy their book, and almost any other marketing info you can think of. These tools make it easy for any blogger or website to pick up and display your book, plus, there is direct integration for social media tools like FaceBook and Twitter.

All Authors know how hard it is to drag traffic to your website, but these tools about outreach – it’s about pushing your stuff to where the people already are. As Vikram rightly says, “… marketing your book online consists of a number of small activities that need to be done regularly… making your book extract available on your blog or on your facebook profile is very basic… and this takes your book extract to where the traffic is.”

Recognizable Authors using this service include Dan Brown (Angels and Demons), Jodi Picoult (My Sister’s Keeper), and and Joel Osteen (Become a Better You).

There are some “blips” in this recording due to the long-distance phone recording, so just for reference, the friend of Vikram’s who wrote the book that inspired the project is Chetan Dhruve, and his book is titled “Why Your Boss Is Programmed to Be a Dictator: A Book for Anyone Who Has a Boss or Is a Boss”. Other success stories include Tony Eldridge’s The Samson Effect.

(Note: I say in the recording that it’s early June, 2009, but it was actually recorded this morning, July 10th, 2009. What can I say – I recently gave up caffeine.)

Enjoy!

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Facebook – You Made Me Love You

April 28th, 2008 . by Peggy

I didn’t wanna do it, I didn’t wanna do it… Being old and married, I didn’t really think that Facebook had anything to offer me. I was wrong.

It’s true that most traffic in social media is just that – social. I can’t host an open author-training Skypecast without somebody asking me what colour underwear I’m wearing.  But I’m obviously part of huge-and-growing marketing and business sector that is using these services. The third item in the top menu bar at Skype is now labelled “Business“, right after “Download” and “Use Skype”. And I’m still discovering new stuff on Facebook everyday.

It’s very important to know that when one is creating groups, events, inviting friends, writing on walls, and adding applications that the key thing to remember is to keep it a very soft sell. People don’t want to be oversold on anything – to offer them something of genuine benefit may have a cost associated with it. But that’s still cheaper than trying to sell something to someone who doesn’t want to buy it.

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The Social Media Diet

April 24th, 2008 . by Peggy

I have been on a diet for most of my adult life, but I’ve only been practicing social media marketing for less than a year. I’ve decided I like doing the marketing part more, not only because the results are quicker, but because it’s almost as rewarding as chocolate at midnight.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about how I’m conducting a marketing experiment on a client of mine, Jeri-Lyn McCrea. Jeri is a perfect candidate for social media marketing (SMM) for several reasons. She’s beautiful, clever, and is also now a published author. (Did I mention she’s single, guys?) It’s easy to talk about her and her lovely book online, because the book demonstrates a number of things we all have in common: hope, struggles, stress, and believing in ourselves. You don’t need to be in the same room with someone to understand these universal themes.

I’ve been using the five major techniques from that post, and several minor ones, to tackle the job of creating a “buzz” about her book. Until a few days ago, I didn’t know if it was working. But just like that morning when you step on the scale and see yourself a pound less than you were yesterday, the effects are starting to add up.

One of the so-called minor efforts we’ve been making has been to use a handy-dandy SMM tool that’s been around for a relatively long time in online terms, Meetup.com. We setup a meetup.com meeting for Jeri, called the Words in Action Meetup Group, and linked it to the Facebook group for Jeri, which is now getting attention by capitalizing on the friend networks that both she and I already have there.

The first meeting is meant to be a very casual “meet the author” sort of thing, at a local coffee house. It makes sense that the group could be a really strong regular thing after that time, because journaling is an activity that often benefits from a bit of support. Setting goals, keeping them in your sights, and constantly working towards them is very, very hard work. All the Meetup.com group really needs to be self-sustaining is a regular clique of people who want to attend. There isn’t even a cost involved, because we’ll keep paying the fees.

Dieting is hard work. So is SMM – researching target markets and mechanisms, sending out emails (individually written for each person – no form letters, please), spending hours on the phone, sending out sample copies of the book to various people, etc. I’ve done so much of that this week that I’m working up a sweat. But that’s ok – SMM is such good exercise that I’ve already lost two pounds. That’s better than I did last time on South Beach.

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