I’m re-reading this rather lengthy article today which reminds me of all the reasons authors don’t make that much money with their books. Tim Ferriss highlights all the math and percentages so I don’t need to go into all of it right here. At the end of the article, he also suggests speaking as a side gig for authors…
Speaking: Particularly in the business category, if you target your Fortune 500 audience well enough, you can stair-step your way into $20,000 per 60-minute keynote without needing a miracle. Hundreds, if not thousands, of authors earn this kind of money. The higher echelon can make $80,000 or more per speaking engagement. Needless to say, this adds up fast.
Even with all the disclaimers in that paragraph one would think that this is all you need to do to start making the kind of income you want. Well yes and no. Authors who write in business, medical or self-help categories can parlay their book into a speaking engagement pretty easily. But what happens if you’ve written a cookbook? How often have you paid to go hear a cookbook author speak (and no, I’m not talking about those cookbook writers who also happen to host their own shows).
Consider that your book is but one component of your entire brand.
Your book is your calling card. It gives you entry into larger venues, and establishes your credibility. It should not however, be the only tool in your toolkit. Nor should it be the primary focus. You are the brand. Your life experience, knowledge, unique perspective, upbringing, training & education all combine to make you the brand. Anyone can write a cookbook, but there’s only ever going to be one you.
Plus a strategy centered solely around selling a cookbook is not as strong and looks something like this:
- publish the cookbook
- publish a website with the book on the front page
- include links to sites that sell your book
- send out periodic updates to your Facebook friends
- schedule local or regional book signings
- hope for the best
You’re left wondering why Amazon or Barnes & Noble are making all of the money when clearly you put a considerable effort into making the product. Plus who is reading your cookbook and are they enjoying it? And why on earth are you not pocketing more than $75k in sales?
Alternatively, a platform strategy centered around the chef or baker looks somewhat different:
- Launch a platform that positions the chef as an expert
- Create an endorsement strategy
- Partner with key influencers
- Publish the first of multiple cookbooks with a clear focus and special content that directs your reader back to your platform
- Automate sales of your book and release an interactive product connected to your book
- Capture all email addresses of your readers
- Turn your readers into fans by sending them unique content
- Plan your book launch, press junkets and events and collect more fans and create landing pages and websites for each event
- Automate sales of products that are licensed to use your image/logo
- Keep giving the media a compelling reason to promote you
- Offer services that bring your brand forward – this could anything from cooking classes to custom menu/recipe development
- Sell and promote your expert knowledge about ingredients, products, locations, cookware, style, etc.
- Market and re-market products, services and ideas to your growing number of followers
- Create new campaigns, products, events and mini-sites that you market with your industry partners (for example other chefs, restaurants, bartenders, celebrities, lifestyle mavens, designers, etc.)
Happy writing, launching and selling!
It’s amazing the number of times I hear from authors who announce that Oprah will remove all the barriers and make them well-known. Yeah, so that’s kind of true – About 6 million people watch OWN daily. Beyond the reach of her active and TIVO viewers, you’ve also got reverb from her network, website, magazine, satellite radio program etc. etc. There is little doubt that you would do quite well if you landed a coveted spot under the oaks. But that’s a big IF.
That said – in most cases, if you’re a professional wishing to promote your products or services and you’re longing to make it to Oprah – your platform gives show producers the opportunity to find you, observe how people receive you, and seriously consider you for that guest seat. But the path to Oprah usually takes a detour through your local, regional and national news outlets.
If you’re attempting to build your presence online, use your press kit as a start and begin to draw attention through grassroots marketing and buzz building.
Your media kit should contain:
1. A well-written biography
2. Hi Resolution Photos of you and your products (include product logos where appropriate)
3. Questions the media can use when they interview you
4. Automated links to contact your media rep (or you)
5. Product or Service information
An excellent bio is written in a way that provides insight into who you are. A reader want to immediately gain a sense of connection to you.
To write a stand-out bio:
Share your Personal Story.
If you are an artist, I want to hear about why you love making art; who gave you your first pencil and pen; where you grew up, and why you loved skating as a kid in your hometown. I want to learn about what motivates you to make your products or deliver your service and I want to some of the unique detail – you know why? Because when I hear your story, it helps connect me with you and your products. A personal story will help you stand out when other people are focused on basic and lifeless information. When faced with so many choices, your personal story will help you stand out so your fans can find you.
Tell a Story about your Products and Services
Don’t just give me stats about your product. Here’s where I want to know about how you deliver your services, how you are using your business to reach people. I want to know how you started your business and what you were doing before you started. I want to know how what you do has directly impacted your clients – describe the story to me so I can connect with you – make me crave the same results. When you describe a product or a service in this way, it automatically gives it more value. When a product/service has more value, people never question a higher price.
An Authentic Brand is Constant
Your authentic brand is reflected in your logos, avatars, packaging material, receipts, emails, photography style, blog, twitter backgrounds, etc. All of these things can change over time but your authentic voice is constant throughout.
Tell a Story with your Photos
You’ve seen them. They’re pictures that look like they were taken last summer and uploaded with a .2-pixel camera phone. Poor quality and uninspiring pictures are a bad reflection on a brand. You’ve also undoubtedly seen press photos that caught your attention. Your images need to be high-quality and professionally taken. You will use these pictures for the next 3-5 years. Invest in high-resolution black and white and color photos to highlight you and your products. You should also include a combination of casual and professional clothes. Consider also that the color of your clothes can blend to the color of your online platform colors. Buzz builders use the power of their images, combined with their descriptions to paint a compelling and authentic picture. Your images can be re-used in all your marketing materials and press that will help further establish your company as the go-to source.
Here are a list of other considerations as you build your media kit.
These elements should ideally be defined before you create or write anything about your company. But if you’ve already published your media kit take a look at the following list of considerations and see where you can tweak what you’ve already got.
1. What are your core values – What do you believe in? How are your values made apparent in your products, policies, services and marketing materials?
2. What is your Mission – What is your life’s mission? What is the mission for your company? How do these things come together? How are you communicating this information to your fans?
3. Who is your perfect fan? – We know that your perfect fan is one that will help tell your story and add to the buzz about your success. But what else do we know about them? Where do they live? What do they drive? What do they believe in? What blogs, tweets, magazines and books do they follow and read? What will get your perfect fan to act? When you begin writing the content for your shop, website, blog and tweets, speak directly to this perfect fan.
4. What is your tagline? – Though not required, your tagline is that memorable phrase that helps further define your company, services, vision or values. One famous tagline that can almost now be used interchangeably with the company name is “Save Money, Live Better”. Be sure to choose a good tagline that allows for growth – as you’ll want to use it consistently in all your marketing materials.
5. Create a character or mascot that exemplifies the personality of your company. This character helps visual thinkers define their brand. You aren’t required to use a mascot in your marketing materials, though some companies certainly do. Sometimes envisioning a character makes it easier to describe your company personality and can also help you see how you differentiate yourself and your brand.
General Interview Questions:
When booked for an interview with the media, don’t be surprised if they know very little about your background. This is why it’s crucial to provide a list of questions you feel highly comfortable answering. In fact, the answers to these questions need to be delivered in concise “sound bites”. If you’re not comfortable with these questions, develop replacement questions that you can respond to quickly and succinctly.
Here are some sample questions that we recently created for one of our clients:
1. What are the top three things we need to know about the diagnostic process?
2. Why do you suggest that parents act as independent and skeptical observers?
3. What are some alternatives to medication?
4. What types of support systems are available through the school system?
5. From your own experience, give me an example of what your son was like when he was on harmful medications? How has that changed now?
6. What are the long term side effects of these medications?
7. What are the top 3 questions you must ask your child’s health care provider on your next visit?
If you would like to schedule your Free Strategy Session or you have questions about managing your PR program please let us know.
When people ask me for advice on how to brand themselves, I sometimes suggest they watch reality TV. I know… odd right? But a show like Married at First Sight makes it easy to illustrate a few points because I’ve found this show to be more open and authentic than other reality TV shows. If you’re in the process of building your own brand, this exercise can help.
Instead of focusing on what’s working or not with your own brand, detach a bit and pretend you’ve been asked to craft a new brand for one or two of the people you see on the show. After watching about 3-4 episodes and reading through the #MarriedAtFirstSight Twitter feed, ask yourself a few questions about the people you’ve seen:
- Of all the people I’ve seen on the show, which ones really intrigue me and why?
- What are they most passionate about?
- How would I like to interact with them? TV, Internet, Radio, Print, Podcast, Blog, Live Interaction, Talk Show?
- Do you find this person to be natural, friendly and open in front of the camera?
- Can you get a sense of who they really are?
- When are they the most open? The most guarded?
- When do they light up?
- I get a sense that they know a lot about ______.
- What other companies would I pair them up with?
- Who would I continue to follow on social media after the show ends?
- Who really causes me to have a strong reaction, whether angry, sad, happy, thoughtful, etc.?
By simply watching the show and asking these types of questions, you can really predict who has an exciting brand waiting to unfold, and who might fade into the background after a few interviews. But that’s not all – the answers to questions like the ones above have far-reaching impact. Using questions like these, I have developed:
- new marketing and sales goals
- eCommerce sites
- media kits and outreach plans
- product launches
- compelling show concepts
- speakers platforms
- intriguing blog, webisode, workshop/classroom and book content
- image and style blueprints
- studio/set designs
- identification and contact strategies for the best networks and partner brands/companies
- brand clarification strategies
- networking opportunities, etc.
So… now let’s get back to your brand…
This mini-exercise provides a few things to get your brain moving – but admittedly it’s sometimes difficult to do a proper for your own brand. Here’s where I’d suggest getting an outside party or focus group together to do an evaluation for you using whatever content or concept you’ve created so far. I think it’s important to have a new perspective, so finding a professional or unbiased analyst is ideal. If you have some followers, use your Twitter, Google or Facebook analytics data to get a sense of which content you produce that people resonate with.