Everybody is doing it. With easy-to-use, off-the-shelf publishing software, even producing a good looking book isn’t that difficult. Books are being written and published at the highest rate in history.
It’s selling books that is the problem. Many authors write a book and simply expect the sales of the book to propel them towards riches and financial success. But alas, Oprah is no longer on the air, and even getting a spot on The Today Show isn’t easy. In fact, the one shot grand slam strategy is pretty much the highest probability way of striking out at your first and only chance at bat. Most books published today don’t make money at all. But many authors make a lot of money, using the book as a component of a solid platform.
So what is an author to do? Very simply, you must go beyond the book.
To be successful with a book today means that you have to leverage certain specific business concepts and leadership content in a transformative fashion. I looked over the strategies that our best and most financially successful authors and thought leaders adopted to build their platforms this past year. The book is just one component to success.
The strategies identified clearly reveal that if you approach your publishing and marketing with a can-do attitude and adopt new methods with multiple income streams to reach the right target audience with refreshing value-added content and services, you will maximize what you get out of your time, efforts and investment.
1) Target Your Media and Your Market Carefully
The best way to start is to develop a targeted and focused outreach strategy to reach your target market and the media that serve them.
Step 1 — Define your Target Market— Who is your book really designed to help, serve or entertain? Create at least two or three different personas describing the age, sex, education, location, income level, work focus, role, title, job function, social groups and orientation of the people who make up your target market(s).
Step 2 – Determine where they “hang out” both online and offline—what blogs are they reading? What other authors do they follow? What trade magazines are they reading? What associations or industry groups are they members of? What do they do to reach their people?
Step 3 – Value-added Outreach—Deliver content that is of value to these people. Feel their pain. Champion their cause. Fulfill their highest desires. It could be with excerpts from your book, tools, articles, videos, or it could be fresh new material that is simply from you.
It’s easier to find 100 blogs that your target market is following and get 70 of them to run your content than it is to try like crazy to get on The Today Show. A single problem solving tips article or a feature story in the right magazine, or trade journal may be worth much more than a short talking head interview on the major networks. You will be more effective to offer value-added content to the right media every time.
2) Develop and Leverage Testimonials
The value of a single testimonial (be it from a fellow author, business person, or an academic or professional colleague well known blogger, columnist, etc.) is significant. It helps convert browsers into a buyers. The trusted evaluation and endorsement bestowed sways someone that is on the fence to move from browsing to buying. However, you need more than just a few testimonials.
Tremendous leverage comes having a dozen really great testimonials. It’s important that the people you get to endorse your book have a following much greater than yours. The action plan you develop and implement getting these testimonials can be designed and deployed so that the person who endorses you helps spread the word to their followers. For example 10 authors that have a following of 100,000 people each is a million targeted people with a much higher propensity of buying your book. This way, each testimonial becomes an endorsement that is directed to an audience that has the same circulation as many of the top targeted media you might seek coverage in. To do this you must think ahead and plan to do much, even all, of the work for them—meaning you have to create a variety of collateral, properly formatted communications for them to use (tweets, announcements about the book, press releases, videos etc etc). Be disciplined in asking them when to spread the word about your book and always, always offer to do the same for them.
3) Give Plenty of Books Away – But Only to the Right People!
For most authors and thought leaders the book is just one format that their content exists in (and quite frankly one that usually isn’t that profitable for the author). Be crystal clear about who your target market is. Identify the ways to get those books into those people’s hands. Now think of who can influence them if they were to send them a book. You can send them out with a personal note or ask them if you can send books to them if they would them deliver them to the type of people you are trying to reach.
If you want to get a book to an executive for an endorsement, you don’t send one book to the executive directly. You send two or three or even four books to the executive’s secretary, or executive assistant, asking them to pass it on to the executive. You can yet reach out to your network to see who personally knows the type of people you are trying to reach and offer to send a copy out on their behalf. If you want a speaking engagement with a large company, or organization, you don’t send one book to the president. You send a dozen books to the Presidents Executive Assistant with a request to give them to each of the reporting Directors and Vice-Presidents and meeting planners and their staff. Then you follow up with a business proposal to try to close a major deal.