This summer I am working on a second edition of my Complete Guide to Online High Schools. I hope to be finished by the middle of August, but it will have about twice as many schools, so this is a much bigger project than the first time around. The hope with this book has always been that I publish a new edition no further apart than two years. And, yes, that means I need to publish it this year!
In anticipation of that publishing, I have begun to ponder how to have greater sales with the second edition than I did with the first.
One of the things that I have learned about book sales, at least my book sales, is that I need to drive traffic toward the book. In this case, I have a website that is the largest website in its niche. I sell many books using that website. Truth be told, near as I can tell, it is my top "store."
While being the largest in that niche, I readily admit that this week it is not a large niche (although it is growing by leaps and bounds). I decided this week that others will soon decide to stake out part of my niche, so I need to pursue a preemptive strike. I purchased nine domain names that I will be populating with WordPress blog software. Why WordPress? Because I thought it was something that I was capable of learning in a reasonable enough fashion not to embarrass myself and my book.
You can see the first two here:
Not great and I will be adding more as I go, but I put up both those sites today. You will note that there are three ways that I can earn money from the site now. They are:
As I have said time and again, small publishers are successful who have multiple revenue streams (and, yes, that could be multiple books). One book does not get you there.
I am spending today writing an article, a free article, for a website. I have said, time and again, that I don't write for free. As it happens, I am at a point in my career where I rarely need to do that. All that being said, why would I write an article for a particular website for free and what are the parameters that I use to decide whether or not I should?
As you know, my writing area is online learning (and some other things). I am the author of traditionally published and self-published books on the topic (and, yes, the self-published have made me more money than the others).
There are a few, a very few, major websites related to distance learning and bunches of smaller ones. As it happens, one of the largest is eLearners.com. I have written an article in the past for them and they emailed me last week asking if I was interested in doing the same again. I should mention that first article was also for free. I, of course, jumped at the chance.
It's very simple math. Really. They have:
Google PageRank = 7
Alexa Rank = 6665
What this means is that their rankings are on an entirely different planet than my Best Online High Schools website. Google and Alexa both reward your site for incoming links from sites ranked higher than yours.
This is a no-brainer. It should boost my ranking and it will provide scads more traffic. As folks who have read this blog know, I am well aware that the more traffic I receive, the more books I sell. I track such things when I get major and minor press. It happens.
So, today, I am writing an article for free.
Now, if you look at other possibilities for writing, there are many websites where I would not produce a completely new article because there is no benefit. That being said, I have certainly modified articles for sites. Links are my friend. Links are your friend, too.
Well, should you? Please don't tell me that you are not on Facebook. As of today, February 28, 2009, Facebook has an Alexa rank of 5. That's 5 on the entire Internet. Why would you not want to be on a site that is ranked so high when, let's face it, most of our own sites are nowhere near that high?
Small Press Blog, by example, has an Alexa ranking in the 700,000s. Best Online High Schools is in the 300,000s. The point is to piggy-back on their high page rank and increase your contact opportunities.
Do not start a Facebook group for your book. Do start a Facebook group for your topic. No one beyond your mother is going looking for your book on Facebook, but, if the topic is right, many will come looking for your topic.
Starting a Facebook Group is a very simple process. All that you need to do is:
Importantly, make sure that you add all of the contact information that you can. Here is a chance to make sure that they have your email address and a link to your book website, your blog, or your sales page. The whole point is the contact opportunity.
This afternoon I wrote an article over at Hubpages about starting a Facebook Group. You can find it here: Should you start a Facebook Group?
How do you sell more books? How do you create more readers of your books? How do you build your platform?
There are many ways to do all of those things, but the single-best way is to make sure that your audience knows what you are doing these days. One new way that I am now using is Twitter. With Twitter, I can provide my readers/followers with information on my online high schools site, my online writings, my books, and so much more.
It is easy to do and you can even tweet using your cell phone. Makes it easy for people to follow you.
In March, I wrote about how much to give away for free. At the time, I was offering very little free information on my online high schools website. As loyal readers know, that website is one of the major ways that I sell my book, Complete Guide to Online High Schools.
My theory was that the greater the traffic, the more the money. As you might recall, I earn money in three ways from that website:
Book sales on that site are all driven to Amazon (which is part of my marketing plan). Traffic for the first year of the site was about 30,000. In the four months since I began to give away more information, the number of hits has been 60,000 (for a total of 90,000 this week).
What did I learn? I learned several things including:
Thus, while I think you need to be careful with how much you give away, the Internet is driven by information. You absolutely need to have something worth reading and, importantly, something worth exploring.
Bill Frederick is on a virtual book tour promoting his e-book on, surprisingly, virtual book tours. If you have not seen one in action, I encourage you to follow him from site to site. Also and importantly, take a look at his My Virtual Book Tour Secrets. If you interested in winning a free copy, read to the end of the interview, and Bill will tell you can do just that! If you have questions, Bill will be around to answer them Feel free to leave a comment and he will respond.
TN: Why did you decide to write this book?
BF: I have two self-published books coming out later this year, "The 5-Minute Writer," and, "Timeless Promises." After paying for their printing and binding, I have no money left to pay for their promotion and advertising. I had to find a way to promote and advertise them basically on a $0 budget. About the same time, I was reading author and friend Glenda Watson Hyatt's blog where she mentioned that she had just completed a "virtual book tour" for her self-published autobiography, "I'll Do It Myself." The journalist in me became curious and I started researching virtual book tours. It wasn't long before I realized that I had found a way to promote my books on a $0 budget. And, I share, step-by-step, how anyone can set up a virtual book tour in My Virtual Book Tour Secrets!.
TN: Why should someone do a virtual book tour? Should everyone do one?
BF: Good question Tom. In addition to their low cost, which I’ve already mentioned, virtual book tours allow you to target your specific audience with laser-like accuracy. There are blogs dedicated to any topic you can imagine, all you have to do is find and contact the ones that are already catering to your potential readers.
Even with these benefits though, a virtual book tour is not for every author. If your readers don’t spend any time online or you’re trying to promote a textbook or some other highly technical book you’ve written, a virtual book tour may not be the best way to market your book.
TN: In your e-book, you discuss seven types of virtual book tour content. Perhaps you could share one or two of those with my readers.
BF: Sure. One of the easiest types of content you can produce for your virtual book tour, especially if your book is non-fiction, is a guest post. You simply write a short article or essay discussing some aspect of your book that relates to the theme of the blog. The blog owner then posts your article on their blog. Another type that looks really fun, but I haven’t tried yet, is virtual book readings. There are 3-D virtual worlds on the internet where people create characters, businesses, homes, entire lives, and interact with each other through text messages, audio and video. A lot like people do in real life. Well, several authors have set up virtual bookstores where they hold virtual readings very much like you’d see at a Barnes and Noble or another local bookstore. And they’re selling books. They’re very futuristic. And, let’s not forget the interview, like we’re doing today.
TN: What are some things that you should do before the virtual book tour?
BF: Yeah, you can’t just start contacting blog owners tomorrow morning to schedule a virtual book tour without some preliminary work. There are several things you need to have in place before you begin thinking about a virtual book tour.
First, you need to have a book to discuss. Not an idea for a book, an actual book or ebook. You should also have a blog or website set up where you can announce your virtual book tour. You also need a media page on your website where you can post your author’s bio and your photo, cover images, press releases, reviews of your book and any testimonials, as well as your contact information. You should also be able to produce original content quickly and can commit one or two hours for each tour stop you schedule. After you have all of that in place, you can begin contacting blog owners.
TN: A different sort of question: Why did you decide to do an electronic book instead of a print one?
BF: I have several reasons actually. Once your book is published and online, the cost of delivering an electronic book to your readers is $0 and they can purchase 24/7.
Second, and more importantly, the internet is a dynamic and ever changing place. Websites are sold, change their focus or even go out of business. The ability for me to update the ebook wile keeping expenses to a minimum is also important. Who can predict what new methods and tools will be available next year, next month or even next week for that matter, that authors can use to promote their books. I want to provide my readers the most up-to-date information available.
With an ebook all I have to do is make the changes, upload the ebook to my website and send a brief email to everyone who’s already purchased letting them know there has been an update. Since they’re already customers, they can then download the updated version free.
As a way of saying thank you, Tom, I'd like to give one of your readers a free copy of, "My Virtual Book Tour Secrets!" For anyone interested in winning a free copy of "My Virtual Book Tour Secrets!", visit this site, read the instructions, and enter. Your odds are good because I'm giving away a free copy on each of the blog tour stops. You can increase your odds by visiting the other blog tour stops and entering on those sites as well.
Like many Internet entrepreneurs, Bob Martin makes his money in a variety of ways including websites where he sells products and blogs where he "sells" information. His Virtual Earner blog is a regular read of mine. Recently, Bob and I have been having conversations about his potential for self-publishing information in book and e-book formats.
You will notice that the interview below is about a number of things including Bob's new book, 49 Ways to Make a Living in the Philippines. I would caution you strongly not to assume that this book is not for you because you don't happen to live in the Philippines. I read it with the idea that it should apply to just as much in Fresno, California as it does in Davao, Philippines. With a few exceptions, these 49 ways will work for you as a way to expand your publishing empire.
TN: Why did you decide to write this book at this time?
BM: I decided to do this for for a number of reasons. I enjoy helping other people become able to live a life in the Philippines like I do. I am an American, but have lived in the Philippines since 2000. I get a lot of emails from people all over the world asking me how they can get a job in the Philippines so that they can also escape the rat-race in the West and live a more simple life here. Unfortunately, you can't just come here and "get a job" as these people hope to do. Jobs are very hard to find here, and wages are very low, only a few dollars a day. Because of this, if you want to enjoy a good life here, you must learn to create your own opportunities. It got to the point that I was answering this email so many times each day from various people that I put together the book. Another thing that pushed me to write the book is that I have a website that is all about living in the Philippines and it is a very popular site. However, things like PPC (pay-per-click) advertising do not work well to monetize this site -- it is too much a community-based site, and PPC rarely works well on sites like that. So, I was looking for ways to better monetize the site, and a book along the same subject line seemed like a good way to go.
TN: Are there any plans you would like to share for your publishing future?
BM: Well, I have a number of plans in the realm of publishing in the near future. Firstly, I want to write some additional books to sell on my Auctiontopia Bookstore. Right now, I am offering only two titles (both of which I wrote myself), and I want to build that to at least ten titles of my own.
In addition, I want to get some of my other expat friends who live in the Philippines to write some books of their own, and I will publish them, and handle marketing and sales through my site. This will help my friends earn money, and also make some additional income for me, too. I am already doing the work, so adding a few more titles written by others really won't add much additional workload for me. So, it's a win-win.
TN: How does self-publishing fit into your other other efforts?
BM: I consider myself to be a publisher, and I have for a long time. Over the past decade and a half, I have been publishing content on the Internet, and forking my effort into the more traditional area of books is simply a different path along the same road, in my opinion. The main difference is that people are conditioned to feel that what is on the Internet is (or should be) free, while they are willing to pay for books (be they electronic or paper formats). Because of this, I consider doing the more traditional publishing of books in addition to Internet publishing means that I can better monetize what I am already doing. The way I look at it, I can continue offering what I consider to be excellent and valuable content for free on the Internet, while offering more premium content in the form of books. People who enjoy and find value in what they get for free will be pre-disposed to purchase a book if it is on a topic that is of interest to them.
Thus ends the first half of the interview. Stay tuned for the second half on Thursday. If you would like to purchase Bob's book, it is available here:
By channel, I mean YouTube channel. This is a place where you can upload all of your videos into one easy location or, and this is important, you can favorite the videos of others and get them onto your channel.
I recently did this with my online high schools book. I started a channel that will feature videos on online high schools. Why? Because it gets people to come to me.
I have plans to start a second channel on self-publishing this month as well. Why? Because it gets people to come to me.
Sometimes it really is that simple.
You can see my YouTube online high schools channel here. I already have a couple of schools that would like to send videos in my direction. One more place for them to advertise and one more place for me to market my book.