Back in lovely Fresno, California, I am reflecting on whether this conference was worth the more than $800 it ended up costing my small publishing company.
My take is that it did. It provided me with a different business model that includes selling what I hope to be a significant number of books to companies and not to the end-user. While I won't get into details here, I believe I already have one client lined up. If I can pull this off, the profit from that one client will more than pay for the conference.
Can everyone do that? I readily admit that I was already in talks with this company to do "something." The conference crystallized for me what that something could be and I sent off an email. They are intrigued and we will discuss it further this week. Even more importantly, this is a something that can be duplicated with other companies in my niche market.
Now, as far as the many posts below go, this is only some of the information that came our way. I apologize to the presenters for not accurately catching all of their words and I would encourage them to stop by and post comments to clarify anything.
One of the key points that I learned is that we are not in the business of selling books. We are in the business of selling information that people need. If you want to sell a book, you need to talk about what the benefit is to the reader.
It was a great conference and I learned a great deal. Because of the fairly small size, it was possible to build up a real sense of community with the other participants. When I get a chance, I am going to post about one or two of the products that I saw that I felt will be winners.
The marketing secrets presentation at the very end mostly wasn't very secret. It was, however, a nice end to the conference. Participants had the opportunity to ask marketing and other questions. Some of the information that came out was:
Erin Eaves is a senior manager for Amazon.com's Advantage program. In her talk, she discussed Amazon's business model as well as the various programs available to independent publishers. I always appreciate a person who knows her topic and can offer it in an understandable manner. Erin does this well.
One of Erin's major points was that you must have "In stock. Shipped from Amazon." on your product page. Books sell better if you do. She also discussed the ways to make that happen including joining Advantage.
Amazon's business model has four pillars:
Price & Value include customer discounts, free super-saver shipping, Amazon Prime, and corporate accounts. Selection and availability include millions of items and hundreds of categories. Convenience & Discovery include Search Inside The Book, Fast Track, 1-Click Ordering, Sales Rank, and Customer Reviews.
The sales rank is updated hourly and is based on actual customer orders.
Your detail page (the page that describes your book) drives velocity. You will sell more books if you have more and better information on that page including:
The Amazon Advantage program is a consignment program. Amazon orders books and pays you when they sell. How many books is based on a number of variables. The benefits of this program include Amazon stores inventory, you can submit any book, and the detail page is identical to other pages on Amazon. It was interesting to see how much control you have over the detail page if you are a member.
Also, you control the content, Amazon provides fulfillment and customer service, and you receive a regular invoice. You are paid at the end of the month following the month in which your book was sold. Rumor on the street is that Amazon is very good about paying you (in contrast to other companies).
Eric Kampmann is president of Midpoint Trade Books, a distributor of independently published books. He discussed a publishing world in transition. Several reasons for the success of independent publishing:
Distribution usually requires:
The Publishing Model usually requires:
The Distribution Model usually requires:
Eric brought this up, but it was a recurring theme during the weekend: You are not selling your book. You are selling what the book can do for the person.
Barry Kerrigan, Cathy Bowman and Pamela Terry presented a panel where they dissected what makes a good book cover a good book cover. This was a worthwhile event for two reasons:
As to the rest of the content, you had to be there. So consider coming next year!
I would encourage you to check out their companies:
Pamela Terry at Opus 1 Design
Cathy Bowman at About Books
Barry Kerrigan at Desktop Miracles
Jeniffer Thompson of MonkeyCMedia and expert in creating websites that sell books and people had another chance to wow us with her knowledge. She succeeded.
Some of the information that she shared appears below. She really, truly did not have enough time to present all of her information. My hope is that I will be getting her to come over to the SmallPress Blog for an interview. Just a little of what she said is below.
Are you making the sale?
Track your traffic. This is almost always available from the back-end of your website. Talk with your hosting company.
Offering incentives to people who visit your site to sign up for your newsletter can be very helpful.
The call-to-action is where you specifically tell the person to buy the book. It should stand out from the rest of the site.
Brian Jud spoke on extreme profits in non-bookstore marketing. Since this is my focus, I was particularly interested in what he had to say.
Focus on content:
Do informal research on your market. You can find what you need to know at:
Break your market down into segments. If you sell into the military, you could sell to the Navy Exchanges, but also to base schools, libraries, military publications, the defense department, and more.
When preparing a submission package for these non-bookstore markets, you need to include:
Brian's point is that we need to be creative in how and where we sell our products. When you think of your product solely as a book, the trend is to want to sell it to a bookstore. When you expand your thinking, the possibilities are endless.
I had the opportunity to listen to a second presentation by Penny Sansevieri. This time she spoke on Red Hot Internet Publicity. Favorite quote of her presentation:
Internet publicity is niche marketing on steroids.
Types of Internet marketing:
Penny talked about the importance of having both an e-newsletter and a blog. Often they can share some content, but it helps in building or maintaining your platform. Yes, they do require work, but it is a way to regularly reach out to your customer base.
The benefits of Internet marketing are:
She also discussed using what you produce in more than one way and in more than one location. Articles that she writes for her blog end up on article sites. She shares content between the blog and the newsletter.
For my money, the best presentation of the day was given by Penny Sansevieri. She gave too much information to touch on all of it here, so I refer you to her books, Get Published Today and From Book to Bestseller. They have both jumped to the top of my "must-read" list. And since I was given free review copies, you can look forward to a review soon (as well as an interview that was actually set up prior to the conference).
Now, I want to be clear, I say the best only because she gave me the exact information that I needed today on a topic that I wanted to hear about today. Some of what she talked about was:
Set realistic goals and expectations
Is your book marketable?
You are not selling books. Emphasize the benefits!
And there will be so much more when I interview Penny. Look for that in the coming week.