Thursday, February 26, 2009

Cook Up Some Book Sales

Gloria Teague’s book, Saturday Night Cocoa Fudge, is all about the type of people she grew up with in Tennessee. The title of the book comes from the treat they always had at the end of the week. Gloria was smart enough to include a recipe at the end of the book and guess what she serves at her book signings? (Put your hand down, Vern, that was a rhetorical question.) This prompted Gloria to set up a book signing at a candy store in the mall. She’ll gave out samples of the store’s cocoa fudge and sell her own books. Everyone’s happy with this arrangement. The candy store owner, Gloria, and the folks that will sample the cocoa fudge.

If you can tie your book to some type of food, you may have an easier time finding a different target audience for your book.

Of course, some books are easier to do this with than others. Mitchel Whittington turned his chicken wing cookbook into a novel, Uncle Bubba’s Chicken Wing Fling. This was an easy book to identify with food. Every chapter has at least one chicken wing recipe. There’s an index of all the recipes in the back of the novel. It’s easy for Mitchel to attract people to his table at book signings because he always has 2 or 3 sample recipes of chicken wings made up ready to serve along with napkins so they don’t smear grease on the book.

Not quite so obvious for a food tie-in was Alice J. Wisler’s novel, Rain Song. Some of the characters in the novel made an old family treat, pineapple chutney. The recipe for pineapple chutney was included at the end of the book. Alice used this theme to do a big open house in her home to announce the book. Everyone enjoyed the refreshments – including pineapple chutney – and purchased a book. This also led to a couple of the people buying multiple copies of her book to do a canning party with pineapple chutney. See the complete story here:

Sally Jadlow had to work a little harder at finding a food theme in her book, The Late Sooner, the story of a family of homesteaders in early Oklahoma. One part of the book deals with a long drought that besieged the state. The only thing that would grow were turnips. So Sally started handing out turnip recipes to attract people at her book signings. “Do you like turnips?” is one of her icebreakers. I suggested another turnip tie-in to her. Eastham, Maine and Wardsboro, Vermont both have turnip festivals in the Fall. Go where the turnip lovers hangout to sell your book.

Some books may not lend themselves to a food theme. When promoting their book, Chic~Lit for Foxy Hens, the four authors (self-proclaimed foxy hens) would dress up with feather boas and have a large bowl of chocolate kisses on their table. “Come get a kiss from a foxy hen!” They attracted a lot of attention and sold a lot of books.

Finding a food tie-in to your book might be the way to fire up your book sales. After all, what could be better than a good book and a bit of comfort food.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Landing Page: Why You Need One to Promote Your Book on the Internet

If you want to have a book signing to promote your book, you need a place to have it. A bookstore, the library, or a restaurant are good locations. To promote your book on the Internet, you need a place to show off your book and to sell it. A landing page is the best location to do this.

A landing page? We could just call it a “web page,” but I like the sound of “landing” because that’s what you want people to do, “land” on your landing page. A landing page is where people will learn about your book and buy it. Your landing page will be an Internet address (http://www…) that you can give out to people so they can get more info about your book… and purchase it! Your landing page is the best sales tool that you have for selling your book on the Internet.

Your landing page can be a page on your web site or another web site, a BLOG, or a web site all its own. As an example, here’s a landing page for the first book I ever marketed on the Internet other than a writing book, Barbara: the Story of a UFO Investigator. Here’s a landing page with a URL of its very own for Sally Jadlow’s historical fiction book, The Late Sooner.

A good landing page does these two things. There are other things that a good landing page might accomplish, but these two are the most important:
  1. A good landing page gives the visitor all the information they need to make a buying decision.
  2. Information like reviews, excerpts, testimonials, chapter outlines, background information, study guides, recipes. Anything related to your book that will attract visitors and sell the book.

  3. A good landing page makes it easy for the visitor to buy.
  4. I’ve visited several landing pages that convinced me to buy their book, but I couldn’t find a place to buy it! There were no links or the links that were there sent me to a bookstore where I still had to search for the book. Make sure you have plenty of “Buy” links throughout the landing page. Links that will take a person directly to a page to buy your book by clicking on the title of the book and/or clicking on the cover of the book. Make it very obvious.

Once you have a good landing page, it’s easy to sell your book. The next sentence is the big secret to selling books on the Internet. Find interested people and get them to visit your landing page. Link to your landing page everywhere. The URL (http://www…) of your landing page is the link that you include in your emails, blog posts, your bio at the end of articles you write, advertisements on other websites, etc. You will also want to include the URL on your business card, bookmarks, post cards, banners… whatever material you use when you promote your book. I even see authors displaying the URL on their cars.

A good landing page is your first and most important tool when you begin an Internet marketing campaign for your book. Take the time to build this tool right and you will see your book sales sail.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Author Bob Avey - Mistaken for the Pizza Man

I was excited to have Bob Avey at my house overnight. He was signing books at the local Hastings Book Store that day, so I had invited him to stay over and speak to my critique group that night. He pulled up in his little red car that was completely wrapped on both sides with the image of his book cover for Twisted Perception. The first thing I thought of when I saw Bob’s car was… park this thing near the street at the bookstore so everyone knows who’s signing books!

Bob’s always been one of my favorite book promoters, so I thought I would do a little interview with him today.

Dan: What books are you promoting these days?

Bob: I'm currently promoting my two Detective Elliot novels; Twisted Perception, AWOC Books, April 2006; and Beneath a Buried House, AWOC Books June 2008. I'm also busy working on a third Detective Elliot novel, tentatively titled, Footprints of a Dancer.

Dan: Tell us about your most successful promotional tool or event.

Bob: I've never been one to follow the pack, and while many authors are out there trying to find places other than bookstores—because that's what they've been told to do—in which to hold book signings, I've done just the opposite. Contrary to what I keep reading, I've had great success at bookstores. My most successful event was at a Hastings bookstore in Muskogee, Oklahoma where I sold 40 books in about three hours. And my most successful sales tool has been to just get out there and talk to people. Don't get me wrong. Bookstores are not the only places I sell books. I've held book signings at arts and crafts fairs, antique shops, libraries and even some shady bars. The trick is to be congenial and outgoing, but in a subtle and professional manner.

Dan: What do you do regularly to promote your books?

Bob: When I am on the promotional go, I talk to people about my books wherever I go. If they seem interested, I give them bookmarks, or whatever promotional materials I have on me at the time.

Dan: So tell us about the car.

Bob: When my first book, Twisted Perception, was published, it dawned on me one day that even in my home town of Tulsa most of the people living there didn't even know I existed, much less that I had a book out. I decided an easy way to change that would be to have some magnetic signs made, the kind that you stick to the doors of your car. I called several sign companies and was told that due to the shape of my car this wouldn't work. If I drove over twenty miles per hour, the signs would blow off. Since driving around town at nineteen miles per hour didn't seem feasible, I asked what else I could do. One of the sign guys told me that I needed a wrap. I told him I didn't care for that kind of music. He went on to explain that "wrapping" is transferring a digital image to thin vinyl, which would then be applied to the car. When done right, it looks good, just like paint.

After Bob left my house the next day, my neighbor came over and asked me, “Who was that? The pizza man?”

“No,” I said. “That was Bob Avey, the Lone Ranger. Hi-ho Silver… away.”

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Nancy Robinson Masters and the Grocery Store Gig

I’ve written about Nancy Robinson Masters before. (See the article “Eat the Fried Chicken Before You Sign Books”) I’ll probably write about her many more times because she is one of the most successful and innovative book promoters that I know. So I was only mildly surprised when I walked into the grand opening of a huge grocery store in Denton, Texas on Saturday and found her at a small table nestled in between a clown making animal balloons and a Dallas Cowboy linebacker who was also hawking books. Across from her at the Starbucks coffee stand was a live band. Nancy had six different books displayed on her table and she stood out like a beacon amongst all that glitter and noise.

Just to give you a little background, Nancy is the author of over 25 books and 3000 articles for both adults and children, published by such notable companies as Scholastic, Franklin Watts, Cherry Lake Publishing, and Publishing. Three of her books are self-published. The Horrible Halloween Costume and The Fabulous Flying Flag Farm are both hardback children’s books with color illustrations. She has sold over 20,000 copies of each book. All My Downs Have Been Ups, a hardback collection of essays about people, places and planes she has known in her career as a writer and pilot, has sold over 60,000 copies. Nancy knows how to sell books.

Nancy does school visits; motivational speeches and workshops for teachers, clubs, and corporations; and speeches and workshops for writers’ groups and conferences. One of the topics of conversation I had with her this weekend was the fact that she had so many speaking and school visits planned the next two weeks that she wouldn’t have any time for writing. I’m sure she will figure out how to juggle her time for what she needs to do. I’ve never known her to miss a deadline or fail to complete the terms of a writing contract.

Now, back to our story. You might ask, “How did Nancy stand out with all that was going on at the grocery store grand opening?” For one thing, Nancy dressed the part. She was attired in a blue straw hat, dangling red-white-and-blue earrings and vest. Her entire appearance said, “God bless America, apple pie, Yankee Doodle Dandy, and My Country ’Tis of Thee.” When people approached, she greeted them with, “Hi, I’m Nancy Robinson Masters and I’m the author of all these books.” That Dallas Cowboy linebacker only had one book to sell. He didn’t stand a chance.

I think this was the first “grand opening” that Nancy did, but she has done book signings in several of the grocery store chain’s outlets throughout the state of Texas. She managed to sign up as one of the chain’s “preferred authors.” Her goal is always to sell at least 30 books at a store and so far she has managed to do that while sitting next to the special, “buy 10, get $5.00 off on Rotel Original Diced Tomatoes & Green Chiles.”

So the moral of this story is—look for places other than bookstores to sign books—it just might pay off.

BTW. Nancy sold 54 books that Saturday.

Contact Nancy through her web site: She’s worth having at your next writer’s conference or meeting.