Archive for November, 2013

Should You Print More Copies of Your Book… Or Is This Madness?

November 28, 2013

“Should I pay for another print run of my book?” I get asked this question so often by self-published authors who are confused by cleverly-written marketing blurb that I just had to write a blog on this topic.

So here’s the scenario. You’ve already handed over your hard-earned cash to a self-publishing or print-on-demand company and your book has barely been on sale for a a week.

Then, wham!  You’re sent a tantalising ‘special offer’ suggesting that they print you an extra 3,000 copies for the greatly reduced price of $6,000. They’ve ‘discounted’ this price down from an astronomical sum like $15,000 to make it sound super-enticing.

Your ‘personal invitation’ describes the plight of disappointed readers hunting high and low for your book in high street shops, but having to go away empty-handed. They cleverly argue that an extra print run will ensure a copy of your book in every bookstore in the United States or Australia or New Zealand or Japan – or wherever it is that might take your fancy. And they point out that this ‘discount’ will improve your profit margins as the price of bulk printing is much lower. They might even call it something fancy like ‘offset printing’ or ‘an offset print run’. Very thoughtful and altruistic of them, I must say, to put so much time and effort into thinking about your profit margins rather than theirs! Especially when the price of all this is the equivalent of a week in a 5* hotel.

Ok, listen up: let’s get serious for a moment. You will thank me profusely for what I am about to say. Because I am about to save you money, time, and possibly your sanity. I strongly recommend that you do NOT get out your credit card or pay another dime until you have sold at least 1000 copies of your book.

Here’s why:

i) Only 1 in 7 books is bought in book shops. Contrary to what these ‘smart Alec’ copywriters may be arguing, most people go online if they want to buy a book. You need to establish your market online FIRST, before you plunge in with the offline market. Why saturate a market with books that are likely to gather dust on the shelves or end up in remainder bins? Or worse still, pulped and lining the surface of roads like the M6?

ii) Passionate and enthusiastic buyers aren’t that bothered about the price of a book. If people don’t buy, it’ll be because your book cover’s not attractive enough. It’ll be because your blurb’s not compelling enough.  Or maybe your topic doesn’t interest them. Seriously. Think about your own behaviour when you spot a book you feel excited about and passionately want. Are you going to change your mind just because it’s $5 more than you want it to be? I don’t think so. Readers are much more influenced by emotional factors like perceived value – and ‘value’ isn’t always quantified in dollars and cents. It’s how important something feels in a particular moment.

iii) You need a proper marketing plan to tackle any market, let alone the USA, Australia, New Zealand or any other territory. If you don’t have one, then you’re not really serious about the success of your book. If you don’t already have proper mechanisms in place for driving customers to your website to buy your books, what makes you think they are going to hunt them out in over-filled bookshops?

iv) You need to do some market research before launching of any product – and yes, unromantic as it might seem, a book qualifies as a ‘product’. Surely you’d want to see a proven demand before blasting the market with thousands of shiny new paperbacks.

The only exception to this is if you’re already 110% certain that you have a strong marketing and publicity strategy in place and that every one of your books is going to be sold.  Unless you’re already an experienced self-publisher with many book sales under your belt, it’s unlikely you can be this certain. If you are that zippy-zappy confident, you’ve probably drunk one too many energy drinks this morning!

Don’t get me wrong. I want you to have confidence in your book and I want you to have faith that your books will sell. But that confidence and faith needs to be backed up with market research and a powerful marketing plan. Leaping in without this is just madness!

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What If a Publisher Steals Your Book Idea? The Stupidest Advice I’ve Heard This Year…

November 13, 2013

A new author came to me recently saying she’d been advised not to pitch her brilliant book idea to Hay House “in case….” drum roll… “they STEAL your idea.”

Well that certainly made me choke and splutter on my fruit smoothie first thing in the morning. The thought of publishing icon, Louise Hay, STEALING someone else’s idea. Crikey, did I hear that correctly? I asked the author to repeat what she’d just told me. And yes, she was certain this was the advice that she’d been given.

I’d like to dispel a big MYTH here about publishers nicking book ideas off unsuspecting authors.

Publishers are inundated with book ideas. Some of them are receiving over 1,000 manuscripts per DAY. Do they really need to pinch your book idea when they can barely cope with what they’re being sent already?

Just supposing that an editor did this in a moment of madness, would they get away with it? In this Internet age, when blogging and social media are prevalent, how on earth would they keep this secret? Wouldn’t we all know about it via viral media? They might get away with it once. But twice, a dozen times, a hundred times? How would the publishing house stay in business when authors stopped sending them their manuscripts?

I’ve been working in publishing for over 20 years now. I’ve yet to witness anything that convinces me that this actually happens. What I do see though – and regularly – is opportunists taking advantage of authors’ anxiety that this might happen. Because guess what? It just so happens that the ‘experts’ who share such nuggets of wisdom have their own publishing presses which can… wait for it… publish your book at a price. Gee, thanks!

Cowboy publishing experts aside… if you’re really worried about your idea being copied, you can ask the other party to sign a ‘Non Disclaimer Agreement’ (NDA) or simply trademark your book title. Be warned though that NDAs are off-putting to most publishers and literary agents, unless for example, you have good reason to hide your identity like Belle de Jour. It is also difficult to completely trademark a title, as it’s still relatively easy to mimic a brand. Take for example, my event, The Millionaire Bootcamp for Authors which was recently ‘copied’ by one of the speakers who attended it under the title of The Millionaire Summit for Authors. But imitation is the highest form of flattery, right?

Many authors are understandably anxious that their book idea might be used by someone else. You may worry if: another writer has the same book title; if they launch a book with a similar plot or topic; or, if they have a writing style like yours. When you discover a book with the same idea, you may worry that “someone else got there first” or “there’s no point in me writing my book now”.

But here’s the good news. No one else is ever going to write with your unique voice, your passion, your dedication, your amazing experience. Another book may have the same title or plot. But it’s impossible to replicate YOU.

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel – and sometimes it’s a great advantage to ‘piggy-back’ off someone else’s fantastic book idea. You only need to consider ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘Westside Story’, or ‘Jane Eyre’ and ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’, to realise this.

Some literature experts argue that there’s only a limited number of archetypal plots in all books, whether fiction or non-fiction. The generally accepted point of view is that there is only ‘one’ basic plot. Ie. There is a problem – the problem is explored – the problem is resolved. This problem is usually dealt with in a sequence that typically follows the pattern of: Exposition – Rising Action – Climax – Falling Action – Denouement. This pattern can be repeated once or many times throughout a book.

With over 2 million books already published worldwide this year, it’s unlikely anyone will come up with a totally fresh and original idea. But your wisdom, your enthusiasm, your vision, will always be as unique as your fingerprint.

And no one can EVER steal that from you.