Thursday, December 27, 2007

Legs to Walk

I recently received an email from an author explaining something that every small publisher wishes every one of their authors understood. This author’s book just came out and we’ve been working closely with him on ways that he can promote the book, set up events, get local media interested in writing about the book, etc.

He said that at this point in the publishing process, he’s conceived and birthed the baby (the book) and now it’s time to give it legs to walk. He gets it. Too many authors think that because they’ve spent years researching and writing their book, once the manuscript is complete and off to the publisher, their job is done. It’s not. Authors who think this are sending their babies out into the world without legs and the results are always predicable. The book won’t do well and the author won’t understand why. When authors understand that writing a book is one step in the process and that promoting the book after its release is another step, it makes working together with them to publicize their book a lot easier.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

What Publishers can do for Book Sellers, a Bookstore’s Viewpoint

Earlier this month I wrote a post titled “What Publishers and Authors can do for Book Sellers, a Publisher’s Viewpoint.”

I also wanted to get a book seller’s two cents on the subject. I can describe how I think a publisher and author can help a book seller sell books, but what really helps them? I ran this question by Bjorn Skaptason with Abraham Lincoln Book Shop. He provided a thoughtful answer which I am including below as a guest post on the subject. I hope other publishers and authors find it as useful as I did.


Thanks for asking for our comments on what authors can do to help booksellers sell books. At Abraham Lincoln Book Shop and Virtual Book Signing we view publishers and authors as partners with the mutual goal of selling books. Sometimes, simply keeping that in mind while pondering publicity strategies will help.

The three points you raised in your December 7 post are very important. The willingness of authors to provide signed copies of books will help the book sell. This can be accomplished in person or with a book plate, but the willingness to personalize the customer’s book in some way is the important part. Also, when authors and publicists provide downloadable publicity materials, such as press releases and author bios, it makes it much easier for the book seller to advertise an event. Try to make the book seller’s life a little easier, because we all hope that they will be plenty busy filling orders. Finally, the value of media exposure, compared to paid advertising, is immeasurable. Work hard to get media exposure, and when you get it use it to tell customers how and where to buy your book.

Here are a few more suggestions that can make a book event successful:

We want authors to know that shameless self-promotion is a good thing. You wrote a book! That is a big deal. Don’t be shy about sharing your enthusiasm for your topic with others.

Before traveling to an event authors and their publicists should research the local market and find opportunities to give media interviews. The book seller might be able to provide leads, but the author and publisher need to do the leg work to book the events.

Let the book seller know your publicity plans. They might wish to cooperate. We will sometimes buy ad time for an author’s event on the radio program that does the interview.

Plug your events during your interviews. Don’t count on the interviewer asking “So, how does someone buy this book?”

Technology is changing the book world from beginning to end. The notion that an author writes a book, then hands it off to a publisher, who then hands it off to a book seller, with each party doing their “job” is no longer true. There are too many books coming out, from too many authors, and too many publishers, via too many resellers for the old model to work. The parties must work in partnership right up to the point of sale to create excitement about a book, reach the right audience, and deliver the book to the customer. The author must be involved throughout. The author was there to write the book, and the author will be there to sign it after the sale. After all, it is the author’s book.

Best Regards,

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Book Signings – Going Virtual?

Publishing and book marketing newsletters frequently mention the decline of the traditional author book signing tour as we know it. Articles are appearing on the subject too. Here’s an example of one that appeared in The Christian Science Monitor a couple weeks ago.

Of course there’s something to be said for meeting an author in person and getting an autographed copy of their book, but virtual book signings and tours have many advantages. For starters, anyone anywhere who is interested in the book’s subject or the author’s work can hop on to the Internet and watch the interview. How many people in one city will attend a traditional event versus those who can “attend” from their computer at home? Or, as the article above mentions, you might see a recorded message from the author in your local bookstore. If this is played in dozens of bookstores throughout the country, imagine how many more people can view the message than if the author traveled to each of those cities.

The Abraham Lincoln Book Shop has a nice Virtual Book Signing program set up where viewers can interact with the author and interviewer live during the event by emailing in questions and orders for the book. After ordering a copy, the author will even personally sign the book to you on screen. Pretty cool. Our books Shiloh and the Western Campaign of 1862 and The Maps of Gettysburg have recently been featured in these events. With travel expenses to think about and no guarantee of how many people will show at each event, this is a great way for publishers and bookstores to change with the changing industry.

Friday, December 7, 2007

What Publishers and Authors can do for Book Sellers, a Publisher’s Viewpoint

As a publisher, we want to make it as easy for bookstores and non-trade outlets (such as museum stores, gift shops, etc.) to sell our books as possible. Here are some relatively easy things you, as an author or publisher, can do to help these outlets.

1. Signed books/bookplates and “Autographed Copy” stickers

Offering autographed copies of books has always been important to us, and it’s a reason why many resellers and book dealers buy our books from us instead of elsewhere. The majority of our books come signed by the author. When it isn’t feasible for the author to sign all the books himself (a few of our authors live overseas), we have them sign bookplates which we include with every order. Signed books sell faster and provide the seller with something customers can’t get on Amazon or at other stores.

We also provide resellers with gold sticker labels that say “Autographed Copy” which they can place on the front cover of our books. It’s an easy way for the buyers to know they are getting something special. There are different varieties of stickers available on book supply websites and a couple of rolls of the labels are an inexpensive investment.

2. Downloadable material

It’s in everyone’s best interest to have a successful book signing event. The publisher, author, and bookstore all want to sell as many books as they can at these events. We work closely with bookstores to promote the event beforehand. Most bookstores like to (and should always) put up some sort of book display and posters in their store prior to an author event. They usually also have an “Events” page on their website listing upcoming events and mail or email event info out to their database of customers. Make sure to provide the bookstore with a digital image of your book’s cover and an author photo. Many bookstores also appreciate a description of the book and an author bio. You can email these to the bookstore events coordinator. Or, make them available for easy download on your website. The Publicity section of our website has downloadable information sheets for each book and computer and print quality images of all of our book covers and author photos. Bookstores and members of the media can easily download these at any time.

3. Media

As Ted Savas mentioned in a recent blog post, the publisher has a limited amount of time and budget for each book. If we think a book will do well and we have the author’s full support in our efforts, we’ll put more time into marketing the book. Promoting events beforehand with in-store displays, community event calendar listings, and media coverage such as a local radio interview and book review in the local paper all help. As much as we’d like to think people will magically flock to an event just because the book is great, it doesn’t happen unless you draw the people in.

The book sellers you work with will appreciate these small things you can do to help them sell your book. If you already do one, try implementing the other two and see what a difference it makes. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog post: What Publishers can do for Book Sellers, a Bookstore’s Viewpoint.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

My Chatroom

“Thank you for calling (insert company name here). Please listen to the following options carefully, as our menu has recently changed. (Do they really change that often?!) If you know the extension of the person you are trying to reach, please dial it now. (Usually I don’t.) To dial by name, please press 1. (I can’t get the darn system to correctly register the first three letters of the name I punched in 50% of the time.) If you are calling to . . . (And, if you are lucky, you can reach a real, live person by pressing 0.)”

Sound familiar? One of the things we try to do is be as readily available as we can to customers, media, and others by phone and email. We also implemented the Savas Beatie Chatroom when we redesigned our website earlier this year to give people another way to contact us. You can enter the Chatroom and ask a question about one of our books, an upcoming release date, placing an order, etc. and we are there to answer your question immediately, much like an instant message conversation. You don’t need to set up an account username or password or give us your email address to get in. Just put in whatever screen name you like and enter. We try to have someone available during business hours for immediate help, but if no one responds, we can email you a response given your contact info.

And we promise not to change our phone menu options too frequently.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

My Thoughts on Press Release Timing

This week your thoughts might be on defrosting the turkey in time for Thursday and planning all the side dishes to be ready at the same time. This week I was also thinking about the best time to send out a press release. How does a national holiday such as Thanksgiving affect when you should send out a press release?

We asked ourselves that question this week regarding the release of our book Building the Green Machine: Don Warren and Sixty Years with the World Champion Cavaliers Drum & Bugle Corps. Lucky for us, author Colt Foutz lives near the Cavaliers based in the Chicago area and he is contacting local media and spreading the word about the book’s release, which happens to be next week. His question to us was, “Is it best to send a press release out this week, a short work week, or next week when people are back in the work routine?” We opted for Tuesday of next week so it doesn’t get overlooked as someone is flying out the door to hit the road today, or get buried under a pile of emails and faxes they will face come Monday morning. Always think about the timing of weekends, holidays, and other events that may affect whether your press release is given a second glance or lost in the confusion . . . and good luck timing that turkey dinner.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

My Author Tips for Selling to Gift Shops

Last week I received an email from Linda Carlson, who wanted some thoughts from PMA members to help her write an upcoming PMA Independent article. She is compiling information from publishers about distributing books to gift stores and other non-book retailers and wanted some real-life examples from publishing companies that work with these types of outlets.

It got me thinking about our history titles that are in museum gift shops throughout the country and how our authors help us get their titles into these outlets. Given that many of our titles are general and military history books, they fit well in national and state parks and museum gift shops. Here are some great ways authors can get their books into these outlets.

1. Check out gift shop book selections.

When visiting specialty bookstores and museum gift shops in your area and while traveling, comb through the store’s book selection. Do they have a particular focus in the type of book they carry? Do they just carry local interest titles? Will they be featuring an upcoming exhibit that ties in with your book? Will they carry books by local authors regardless of the subject matter? Find out.

2. Be available for speaking engagements.

Throughout the year, many parks and museums put on special weekend events and anniversary celebrations and hold conferences the public can attend. Many times authors speaking at these events can tack on a book signing. Our author Jerome Greene has a number of Western history books and is a frequent speaker at parks and museums throughout the West. This weekend he is speaking at a Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum and will bring in copies of our book Indian War Veterans as well as some of his other titles for the museum to sell. Make yourself available for events, set up a book signing while you are there, and be sure to leave extra copies of your book autographed when you go so the store will continue to carry (and sell!) your book.

3. Think broader.

Last weekend, our author Gary Moore was a panelist at the National WWII Museum’s conference on baseball and WWII. While signing copies of his book Playing with the Enemy in the gift shop, he noticed that the museum had a wonderful, broad selection of WWII titles. Gary, being familiar with our books on the German WWII submarine U-505 (here and here), shot us a quick email and let us know they would also be a perfect fit for what the gift shop carried. Because his book ties in well with our U-505 titles, it’s a win-win-win for the author, publisher, and the buyer to have all three of these titles available at the same place. What titles would your book sell well with? Find out where these books are selling and get your book there too.

Be on the look out for ways to tap into the lucrative gift shop outlet. Museum and park visitors are always anxious to pick up a book about a place they just visited or learn more about a local interest topic.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

My First Post

Hello, and welcome to my new blog On Marketing (Working with Authors)!

We are jumping into the blogosphere here at Savas Beatie. Better late than never, right? Working as marketing director for a small, independent publishing company you learn a lot about every aspect of the publishing industry, from editing and coordinating bulk sales to working with authors and planning book tours, and everything in between. It is my goal to use this blog as a place to share with you tips and insight I have gathered from working with authors and promoting our titles. I will also use this place as a sounding board for ideas, both new ones we have and those you may have as well.

I’m really looking forward to spending some time here every week. Your comments, questions, and ideas are always welcome.

~ Sarah