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!
In my unofficial poll of the people in my circle more than three-quarters have made a negative remark about Reality TV. Which suggests that not only should the Reality TV stars be concerned about their brand and image, but so should the people producing these shows.
I actually watch very little TV, so it’s surprising to some that when I do turn it on, that I actually choose Reality TV as part of the lineup. I’m fascinated by it all because I learn so much by studying people. But I also watch with a pragmatic eye. I’m aware that it’s mostly about business. And while I do see many opportunities for improvement; by wholly condemning the medium we end up throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Sherri Shepard from The View said recently on Twitter…
Sherri raises a valid point but I think it’s important to take it for what it is – Reality TV is a medium which will always attract some viewers through drama, nonsense, violence and tragedy. Maybe some producers think that is the only way they will get us to watch. There is another side however.
The discerning can glean the positive aspects of Reality TV. Not just for branding and launching new ventures for which I take special note – but topics around relationships, communication, health and wellness, friendship, family ties, and tenacity of spirit. I acknowledge the value in all of these things and remain hopeful that Reality TV isn’t tempted to sink to the negative depths of the nightly news.
Let’s tell a better story.
It never fails… publicity, press release generation, and media placement topics are the first things my new clients want to discuss with me. But I have yet to find a new client who is actually ready for PR the first time we meet.
It’s easy to understand the thought process and the lure of publicity though… They think “If I get enough visitors to my website, I’ll be famous and rich.” But so much more goes into the virtual business process ahead of engaging the press.
Here is my condensed list of the top 9 areas that need to be on point before sending out a single press release:
- Ensure you have someplace to send them. This seems obvious, but many clients simply want to have the press call them directly. Umm no. Your virtual platform needs to be available and ready for visitors. Make sure you have your…
- If you want to talk with the press, set up your electronic media kit. Very often one media placement leads to additional placements. The reporter or producer that you didn’t initially contact will need more information, so make sure that your media kit is where they’ll find all the information they’ll need about you, your company and your services/products.
- Make sure you have a social media presence and a plan for routine communication and engagement.
- Is your back-end covered? Can the server that hosts your website handle a large amount of new traffic? You don’t want to find out it can’t handle the traffic after your press release has been sent out.
- Do you know where the traffic is coming from, what they’re reading, how long they are staying? If not, set up an analytics system to track important data so you can begin to test and segment your visitors and understand their needs.
- Anticipate a bunch of new visitors and make sure you have a unique offer tied to an autoresponder that will follow-up on all leads.
- Ensure you’re talking to all of your visitors. Not all of your readers will be customers, some will be potential partners, affiliates, or even the competition. How do you handle each of these segments? What do you want to tell them? What is your screening process?
- Create a launch plan. A press release should be one component of your overall communications strategy and launch plan, not the entire strategy.
- Because all of your press releases should have a call to action. I strongly recommend creating a unique sales landing page, mini-site or squeeze page. What is the point of sending the press release? Have something to say AND ask them to take the next step.
In a recent Facebook post, my friend Clarence mentioned that he just doesn’t get Twitter… recalling how I felt before I signed up for Facebook and Twitter I chuckled a bit; then I left a message hoping he would sign up and take a look. His question also made me think about the reasons we are constantly recommending Twitter as part of our client’s branding strategy.
Simply put, we tweet for our clients because public conversations are one of the best ways to build a brand. Unlike Google, Twitter gives you the ability to search for information in real-time. So by tracking your company, book, product or service name you can read and respond instantaneously to positive or negative feedback using Twitter. Not only is it perfect for marketing messages, it can offer a huge reach and awesome way to provide customer care. Allowing companies to share special gifts and time-sensitive information, guidance on where to go, what to do, what to click and see.
It’s an amazing little tool… Hopefully Clarence, you’ll begin to see the possibilities – and hey, thanks for inspiring this post!
I finished up a proposal yesterday for a new author (who we are super excited about launching!!!) that included a bit of history of how Jack Canfield pushed his first Chicken Soup for the Soul book to the New York Bestsellers list.
Here’s a little snippet ::
Jack Canfield and his team sold over 8 million copies of the first Chicken Soup for the Soul book and went on to produce over 40 New York Times bestsellers. They did this despite being self-published and almost unknown in the publishing industry then. Canfield developed a strategy after consulting with a variety of industry experts including marketing guru, Dan Poynter and John Kremer who wrote “1001 Ways to Market your Book” ultimately creating their own practice known as “The Rule of 5.”
The Rule of 5 suggests that we do a minimum of 5 tasks each day to move us toward our goals. Team Canfield used a combination of sustained effort, enthusiasm, eagerness and a strong desire to see their book catapult to the best seller lists. With each team member executing five things every day, Jack Canfield’s first book hit the New York Times bestseller list in 1 year.
This story had a profound impact on me when I read it; and all of our business development, sales and project plans are now based on this Rule of 5 and the power of sustained team effort.