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Author Strategies

Neighborhood BookDrop

This article appeared in a neighborhood newsletter, MainLineNeighbors.com on 4/11/19.  I thought it was a great idea, so I am passing it one.

Late last fall we planted a Little Free Library in our front yard.  Have you seen the boxes around town?  It’s a wonderful book-sharing program.

We ordered one unfinished: my daughters painted it their favorite blue.  We invited the neighborhood kids to come add colorful thumbprints, so everybody could feel a part of the action.  And then the weather got cold.

Recently, like the splashes of daffodils, little people in bike helmets have been popping up in our yard, the youngest of them crawling up on the rickety bench (need to fix that!), to peek into the box and see what treasures are inside.  I love it.

I read like a fiend as a child.  I remember a time, though, when homework took over and pleasure reading took a backseat.  I feel like I’ve been making my way back to reading-for-fun ever since.  As an old(ish) person, if it’s too late at night, after kitchen cleaning and helping with homework, sometimes even page-turners can’t keep me awake.

My middle-school-aged daughters are about to enter some rigorous required reading years.  I want them to keep books in their lives, but homework is already loading up.

One night last week, my family agreed to get up from the dinner table, ignore dirty dishes and math worksheets, and grab a book each.  We sat quietly together in the living room, reading for 30 minutes.  The girls insist they want to do that again.

Fingers crossed for little reading seeds to sprout up everywhere.

Grab a book!
Katie L.

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Tips for Getting Massive Book Sales

In 2011, Derek Doepker was a broke rock musician, working as a valet at a restaurant, and had to sell his keyboard to pay his rent.  Fast forward to today, he is now a 7 time bestselling author who has sold over 50,000 copies of his books. Derek learned a system for massive book sales that he shared in this month’s SkillBites Show.  To listen to the show, click here.

As Derek is the first to admit, he had no special talent or knack for marketing.  His first book sold 3 copies, one of which was to his mom. He learned from his failure and from others who were successful.  His second book skyrocketed to #1 bestseller on Amazon, making $6000 in its first 11 days. How did he do that?

Derek identified several keys to his success, which are elements of the system he created to be able to replicate that success.  First, it wasn’t enough just to write a great book. He promoted his book heavily so people knew about it. Second, even with powerful marketing, a book isn’t going to go very far unless there are people who want the information.  He made sure there was high demand for the topic of his book. Third, he didn’t skimp on the book cover, and chose a title and subtitle that would grab the reader. Books need to have an attractive cover and a title and subtitle that express who the book is for and why they should read it.  Fourth, he chose a narrow niche for his book. Books that fit a narrow niche tend to do better than books in broad categories. For example, a book on raising kids on a raw food diet will do better than one on raising kids to eat healthy. Fifth, he found other people with large networks of the target readership for his book to promote his book, which gave it much greater credibility and visibility.

Derek also shared his 3 C’s for book sales success:

     ●  Collect intelligence. Research what other books are out there on the market on the same subject.  Identify the ones that are selling the best and review their covers, titles, descriptions, etc. to get a sense as to why they are doing well.  Also, get on people’s mailing lists to get their emails. Which ones grab your attention? You should build an email list and then create email campaigns that incorporate the elements from others’ emails that attracted you.  Essentially, you should imitate what is working well for others.

     ●  Create your big idea.  One of Derek’s big ideas, for instance, was to develop a system that enables people to change bad habits in just 5 minutes per day.  Identify your unique spin; what do you do differently, or what do you offer that’s different from what else is out there?

     ●  Collaborate with others.  When you collaborate with influencers, websites that promote books, book reviewers, etc., your book will get in front of many more people and consequently do better.

Derek offered the SkillBites audience a free copy of his eBook, Why Authors Fail.  Go to his website, www.bestsellersecrets.com to download that.

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Book Marketing FAQs

This is the 3rd blog post in a sequence, and it is on book marketing FAQs.  The prior 2 were on book writing FAQs and book publishing FAQs.

1. How do you run a book launch?

Answer:  There are many different types of book launches.  Some people have small cocktail parties, some have large events, some have book signings, some launch their books through social media and blogs, and some do discounted or free book campaigns with joint venture partners contributing free products and services to anyone who buys your book on the launch date.  What kind of launch you should have depends on your objective for the launch, the preferences of your target audience, how much effort you want to put into it and how much money you want to spend on it. It’s a good idea to plan a launch about 3 months after you expect your book to be published. That way, if there are any snafus with the publishing, you won’t have to postpone the launch.  

2. How much time should I plan to spend promoting my book?  

Answer:  The more you promote your book, the better the results will be from it.  If you spend only a few hours promoting it, you won’t get much in the way of results.  If you don’t have the time to spend promoting your book yourself, you may want to hire someone to promote it for you.  Plan on spending at least 40 hours during the months leading up to your launch sending emails, posting on social media, preparing press releases, sending your book to reviewers, getting your book on your website, planning your book launch and other marketing tactics.  Then figure on spending at least 10 hours/month after your book is published.

3. What are some of the best ways to market my book?

Answer:  There are many book marketing tactics.  In fact, there’s a book called 1001 Ways to Market Your Book, by John Kremer. You can conduct an email campaign, a social media campaign, a blog tour, a PR campaign, a free book campaign and a bestseller campaign, to name just a few.  Some are free and relatively easy to do yourself, such as the first 3 listed, while others take more time and require more expertise to do right, and can cost a lot of money.

4. With so many different ways to market my book, how do I decide what actions to take?  

Answer:  Three keys to determining what actions to take when marketing your book are (1) know your objective – what do you want to achieve from your book? (2) Know where your audience is likely to be — are they on social media frequently?  Do they read trade journals? Do they listen to certain radio stations, or follow particular blogs? And (3) identify tactics that align with keys (1) and (2) and fit your available resources.

5. Why would I want to run a free book campaign?

Answer:  If your aim for your book is to get more people to appreciate your expertise, then running a free book campaign will get your book in front of more people.  It also tends to create momentum that leads to book sales once the campaign is over. In addition, people who receive a free book tend to write more reviews.  Getting good reviews can also help your book sales after the free book campaign is over. You can run a free eBook campaign through Amazon’s Kindle Select program if your book is exclusively on Amazon.  You can run a free print book campaign on Goodreads.com.

6. How do I get book reviews?

Answer:  This is a good question, as books that have a large number of good reviews do much better than books that have few reviews.  Amazon has started denying the reviews of anyone they think might be in the author’s family or network. Still, start with your friends, family and colleagues and ask them to post reviews.  Here are a few more tactics:

     ✔️ Include a sentence in your book requesting that the reader provide a review for you.

     ✔️ Do a search on Amazon for books like yours and try to reach out to anyone who reviewed those other books to see if they will review yours.  Sometimes their contact information is available.

     ✔️ Try a free book campaign, which can lead to more reviews.

Do you have questions on book marketing that you want answered?  Email me at judy@skillbites.net and I’ll get back to you with my answer.

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Book Publishing FAQs

In last week’s blog, I answered several FAQs concerning book writing.  This blog covers FAQs concerning book publication.

1. After my book is written, what comes next?  

Answer:  There are several steps needed before your book can be published.  The three main steps are:

  • Editing and proofreading
  • Book layout design
  • Book cover design

After these are done, the publication process can begin.  You’ll need to have created your meta data (e.g., the price you want to charge for your eBook and print book, and your book description).  You should review the digital proof of your book and after you determine that it looks OK, you should order a print proof. Once you sign off on the print proof, you can approve your book for publication and it will be live within 5 business days.

2. How long will it take from the time my book is written until it is published?  

Answer:  The timeline depends on a number of factors.  Key among them is your ability to turn around drafts.  When you get an edited draft of your book, will you review it right away or will it take you some time to get to it?  How many rounds of review are you asking for from your editor, book layout and cover designer? Also, how long is your book?  Editing and proofreading take twice as much time for a 100 page book as for a 50 pager. On average, SkillBites is able to perform editing, book layout, cover design, formatting and publication of a 50 page book in 4 to 5 months, when the author is able to review drafts and provide feedback and responses quickly, within 3 days from getting a draft or inquiry.

3. Should I create an eBook, a print book or both?

Answer:  I recommend that you create both an eBook and a print book.  With an eBook, it is easy to send the eBook file to a prospect or colleague, and it’s free.  You can also use the eBook as an opt-in on your website, to help you build a list of prospects.  With the growth of e-readers, many people prefer reading on a tablet, where you can increase the font size, and you don’t have to carry around the books that you want to read.  However, the majority of readers still prefer print books. Unlike eBooks, people can take notes in print books. Also, when you hand a hot prospect your paperback book, it is much more powerful than sending them the eBook file.

4. How much should I expect to spend on publishing my book?  

Answer:  The cost depends on many variables. A short book will cost less than a long book.  If an illustrator is needed to create illustrations for the book, that will cost more than a book with stock images or no images.  A book printed in color will cost more than one in black and white. The cost also depends on what you decide to do yourself and what you choose to outsource to others. You can do it all yourself, but of course it will take quite a bit of your time, you’ll probably become frustrated when things don’t work the way you think they should, and you may not get the quality you desire.   The average SkillBites customer who has written a 50 page book and hires SkillBites to provide editing, book layout, basic cover design, formatting and publication on Amazon as an eBook and print book, spends roughly $2500.

5. How do I find a publisher?  

Answer:  Finding a traditional publisher is hard.  You need to write a lengthy proposal, and you can anticipate a lot of rejections.  Publishers are looking for authors with a blockbuster book, a large following and a strong marketing plan.  It’s rare that they accept a new author unless the author can show great promise of selling a lot of books. That being said, you can read the acknowledgement section in books in your industry, and you’ll often find an agent or publisher listed there that you can contact.  If you want to get your book published quickly, you can either self-publish or utilize a hybrid publisher such as SkillBites to manage the publication process for you.

6. What kind of royalties can I expect from my book?  

Answer:  From a traditional publisher, you can expect to receive somewhere between 5% and 20%.  From SkillBites, you would receive 75% of the net revenue with most of our packages. So if SkillBites has published your book on Amazon for $20, Amazon will take out its share, and you’ll receive 75% of the amount paid to SkillBites, which will yield to you about $7. Keep in mind that you can make much more from leveraging your book to get more customers buying your services and products than you can from the sales revenue from the book itself.

Do you have questions on book publishing that you want answered?  Email me at judy@skillbites.net and I’ll get back to you with my answer.

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Book Writing FAQs

In this blog and the next 2, I will answer some of the frequently asked questions I get on writing, publishing and marketing a book.  This blog covers FAQs on book writing.

1. How long should my book be?

Answer:  Your book should be as long as it needs to be to get your message across.  That could be 30 pages or 300 pages or longer. Keep in mind that most people don’t read 300 page books any more, particularly non-fiction books.  In fact, the average reader gets through just 18 pages of a non-fiction book before putting it down and not getting back to it; so if you write a short book with the most important information on your topic, your readers will appreciate it.  Besides, if your main purpose is to use your book to get people to recognize your expertise, then a short book is fine.

2. How many words do I need to write for a 100 page book?

Answer:  The number of words you need to write depends on several factors, including the dimensions of the book, as well as the size of the margins, the type and size of the font and the quantity and size of any images, graphs or charts in the book.  A common size for books is 6” x 9”. There are about 250 – 300 words/page using normal margins and font, and no images. So a 50 page book in 6” x 9” without pictures is about 12,500 – 15,000 words, and a 100 page book is roughly 30,000 words.  

3. What if there are lots of other books on my topic?

Answer:  The fact that there are lots of other books on your topic is actually a good sign – it means there is lots of interest in your topic.  How many weight loss books are there out there? And yet there’s always room for more. Most of the information in books is available on the internet for free anyway, so why would anyone buy a book when they can get the information for free?  Because it can take hours to find good quality free information, and information in a book is perceived to be good quality. In addition, books are generally well organized, provide guidance and action steps toward overcoming whatever it is that the book talks about and thus save time, energy, effort and money for the reader.

4. How do you find the time to write a book?

Answer:  This is one of the biggest issues for business owners and professionals who are already overburdened with work.  There are three key steps to finding the time to write a book. The first is determine whether your book is truly a high priority for you. If so, then you’ll make it happen; if it’s not, then you’ll find other issues taking up your time, and you’ll lose interest.  The second step is to understand why it is important for you. When you know your why, it will help you evaluate whether to work on your book or do something else that has come up. The third step is to create a plan for getting your book done. The plan would identify when and for how long you will write, where, when you will be done with the writing, etc.  You need to schedule the time just as if you were scheduling an important meeting, and keep to your schedule unless issues of greater priority intervene. If you can carve out even as little as 15 minutes per day, you can make progress.

5. How do I find a topic that my audience would be interested in reading?

Answer:  I have a 5-step process for this.  Basically, you want to identify a topic that solves a problem that your target audience faces.  It doesn’t have to be entertaining. Provide value: save money, save time; make things easier, get over a hurdle; reduce aggravation or pain; increase revenue; obtain some other benefit.  Once you’ve identified the topic you want to write on, you should confirm interest in that topic. You can do that by conducting a survey, or hold a focus group, or reach out on social media.  You can also do market research on Amazon or Google, or on blog posts and YouTube videos.

6. How long does it typically take to write a book?

Answer:  That depends on many factors, such as

     ✔️ the length of the book you are writing,

     ✔️ the amount of time you devote to it,  

     ✔️ how much material you have already created on the topic of your book that you can incorporate into your book,

     ✔️ how clear you are on your topic and how much research you need to do, and

     ✔️ whether you will do the writing yourself or hire a ghostwriter.

If you are writing a short book (50 pages) yourself, you are clear on the topic, and you don’t need to do any research, then if you can spend roughly 5 hours/week, you can get your book written in about 2 to 3 months.  That does not include the time for editing and other post-manuscript services, but is a ballpark timeframe for the writing of a first draft of a short book.

Do you have questions on book writing that you want answered?  Email me at judy@skillbites.net and I’ll get back to you with my answer.

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