Sunday, April 29, 2007

Selling Books on the NYC Subway

The following post is excerpted from Fred Gleeck's ezine, Fred Gleeck Insights. Fred is a great marketer. He tells a great story here:

subway car interior

I love New York! One of the days when I was running around like a chicken with it's head cut off on the subway I saw this guy hawking something further down the subway car. In my typical NYer style I averted my gaze, hoping not be accosted to give him money.

Lucky I couldn't do it. I squinted out of the side of one eye to see what he was selling. In his hands he had a fairly large load of paperback BOOKS. His books it turns out.

I watched him graciously take a $10 bill from a lady a few seats away from me. I tried to see what the title of the book was with no success. So, I stopped him and asked him what was up.

He told me that for the last 3 years he had been riding the subway every day selling his book. He reported to me (and I have no reason NOT to believe him) that he had sold a tad over 48,000 books. That is not a misprint. He has sold a LOT of books through this ONE channel of distribution.

I promptly invited him to come to the upcoming publishing seminar as my guest. I'd love to give this guy 10 minutes to tell the rest of us exactly how he did it. I'm not sure he's coming, but you should come to this event if you sell books or any other information products.

Let me do the math for you on this one. He was selling his book for $10 - CASH! I'm sure that he is diligently recording every dollar he makes. I know he's pretty savvy because he told me (when I asked) that his printer in Bang Printing in Minnesota. A well known book printer that I have gotten quotes from in the past myself.

The book was about 120 pages. If he prints 3,000 at a time he probably gets them for around $2. So he's making $8 on every book.

Since he sells about 15,000 copies a year, that comes out to $120,000 net. Not bad. Given he's on the train so much I'm sure he has an unlimited travel card which costs him about $40 a week or so.

When people tell me they can't sell books, I'll be referring them to this individual. His story was about his experiences as a gang member and I don't even remember his name because he promised to email me. Hopefully you'll be hearing more from Mr. X!

A couple of points to make:

1. Get creative! Books are not just sold in bookstores. In fact bookstores are a lousy place to sell books. Reason being is that you don't make the kinds of margins I detailed above. If you have a book in a bookstore that's great, but what about using the old NOGGEN and looking for other creative channels?

2. No invoicing, this guy got paid on the spot. Good idea.

3. Exposure of this kind breeds additional benefits. He told me that he's been asked to speak at a dozen different universities from Pennsylvania to Europe.

John Kremer is a master at showing people how to sell their books through different channels. After all, he's the author of 1001 Ways to Market Your Books. If you don't own this book, you should!

What ways can you sell your information products that are non-standard? Look for them and you'll make a lot more money and find customers that you would otherwise never find!

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Power of Blurbs: Use Them Correctly

In a column in Sunday's Times Book Review, Henry Alford criticizes the inappropriate use of blurbs. He cites as an example a Random House advertisement for Charles Frazier's novel Thirteen Moons. They quoted a Lev Grossman review in Time magazine: "Genius." That was it.

Too bad. Now Alford didn't like the excerpt because it was misleadingly taken from a much longer quote: "Frazier works on an epic scale, but his genius is in the details." Now, from reading the full quote, you can see how using the simple word GENIUS is clearly misleading.

But what saddens me is that the full quote is a much more powerful testimonial for the book than the one-word misquote -- or as Alford calls it, a misblurb.

Random's excuse: "We were being very short and punchy. We have limited space."

A sad commentary on their understanding of good sales copy. Genius is a boring word by itself. In the context of the actual quote, it blazes. Too bad they didn't use the full quote. I'd have bought the novel based on that quote. Never would have touched the novel based on GENIUS. It doesn't say anything. Blah.

How are you using your testimonials? Be sure to use the best copy. Don't sell the blurb short.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Capital One: What's in Your Wallet? - A License to Steal

I'm starting a short series of blogs on companies that have customer service issues. Capital One wins the lottery for the first such company.

Ten years ago Capital One had one of the best customer service groups in the country, and Capital One was sitting high. Now they have problems.

Today, I discovered why. Capital One has lost its customer service emphasis. Their customer service reps aren't allowed to make decisions. They have to follow a very restricting script that doesn't allow them to really serve the customer.

Last year when I was moving, I failed to pay my Capital One VISA card within 30 days (didn't get it until way after the time limit because mail had to catch up with me). So they canceled my good rate and started upping the charge. When I checked out my credit card statement today, they were charging 28.95% interest. Now that's just outrageous. No justification for that kind of rate, even with the most marginal of customer. And I'm not marginal.

It is scary to think what credit card companies are charging. 28.95% is way over any justifiable amount. They are either really bad at investing or doing business, or they are literally stealing. What's in your wallet? I'll tell you. Simple: A license to steal. Truly scary.

When I called to get my rate returned to the original agreement, the customer service representative couldn't help me. She didn't have authority to keep a customer, even after hearing my explanation for why I missed several payments (simply delayed). There was a time not many years ago when their customer service reps could make changes. Now they can't.

No wonder Capital One is falling behind. Bad customer service is the harbinger of worse things to come from a company.

They lost my business today. And will never get it back. They've made a ton of money via my account, but didn't seem to want to keep it.

Their customer service stinks. No wonder companies like Nordstrom stand out for their customer service. It's not hard when you're being compared to services such as Capital One.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Free? A Great Word?

There's a great story in the January issue of Reader's Digest where a woman tells how her husband set a good set of tires outside on the curb with a sign saying: FREE. Several weeks went by and no one took the free tires.

So he decided that he would change the sign. Now it said: $20.00.

The very next day, all the tires were stolen.

Sometimes we simply don't value things that are free. There are many people who do not see the value, for example, of the free Book Marketing Tip of the Week newsletter I send out each week to more than 10,000 readers. My guess is that in any one week, maybe 1,000 actually read it. What a waste. Of course, it doesn't happen just to me. All free email newsletters have similar readership levels.

If you've missed any issues of my Book Marketing Tip of the Week newsletter, you can still read the back issues by going to

Don't sell yourself short. No one will value you. Set a fair price for you, your book, your services, whatever it is that you offer. Most of us set way too low a price. Put it a little higher than you would normally be inclined to do. The worst that can happen is someone will come along and steal it.

At least that way you get your story out. :))

Monday, April 16, 2007

This free teleseminar should be interesting and useful.

Steve Harrison is doing a special teleseminar this Thursday, April 19th, on how to become a more successful author. The teleseminar is free. To sign up for it, go to Top Author Secrets.

You can attend the teleseminar either at 2:00 p.m. Eastern or 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

This should be a good teleseminar. Here are a few of the things you'll learn on the teleseminar:

* Why the seven key differences between top authors and all the rest aren't obvious things like writing a good book or having a catchy title.

* The secret reasons behind bestsellers like Rich Dad Poor Dad, Body for Life, and The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

* Why understanding these strategies is critical even if you don't really care about money and just want to share your message with others.

* Having trouble getting your books into stores? Learn how top authors overcome the many problems and frequent obstacles of the bookstore distribution system.

* Want massive publicity for your book? You'll learn the real reason why top authors are able to get tons of media exposure for their books -- and it's not just that they have good stories and hire top publicists.

* How you can use the top author secrets to make a six-figure income from your book even if you only sell 10,000 copies and never get booked on Oprah.

* Want to sell your book to a major New York publisher for a six-figure advance? You'll learn the single biggest thing you need -- and no, it's not a great manuscript or book idea though those are important. If you've got it, getting a publisher is easy. Without it, you'll probably struggle to get your work published.

* An incredibly simple thing you should immediately do to dramatically increase the profit you make from every book.

Again, to sign up for this free teleseminar, go to Top Author Secrets.

Please note that while this teleseminar will feature some great tips, Steve will be selling you something at the end. Listen to the teleseminar for some practical and actionable tips. Then listen to the pitch and see if it makes sense to you as well.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Need a Website? Here's a Simple Way

If you're an author and you need a down-and-dirty website fast, then follow Seth Godin's strategy for creating a website in a few hours by linking a blog, a Squidoo lens, and a Flickr collection of photos. He says you can do it all for $60 per year. You can read his blog post at: Seth's post.

But that's by paying $5.00 per month to host your blog. Alternatively, you can host your blog here at You go to to set up a blog, which is then actually hosted here at Same company, just different URLs.

You can easily set up a blog here with your name or your book name so it reads something like: Then go over to to set up a lens (a web page) about you and/or your book. You could actually set up one lens (page) about you and another about your book. Read Seth's post to find out some of the things you can do with a Squidoo lens.

Finally, go over to Fickr to post some photos of you, your book, you at a booksigning, etc. With a Squidoo lens, you can have your blog syndicated on the page along with your Flickr photos, plus whatever else you want to post to the page.

Again, read Seth's post to get a good idea how to go about all this.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Teleseminar: How to Create a New York Times Bestseller

On Tuesday, May 8th, 8:00 p.m. Eastern, I'll be hosting a two-hour teleseminar on how to create a New York Times bestseller. The system I will be describing on this teleseminar is a proven method of getting a book on the New York Times bestseller list. During the teleseminar, I'll be describing a step-by-step method for getting your book on that list -- and by extension -- onto the front shelves of every bookstore in America. Front and center, discounted, prime placement -- all yours for the asking.

If you want to sign up for this step-by-step, full-disclosure seminar, go to -- On that page are listed all the bonuses you will received as part of this teleseminar program.

The New York Times doesn't want me teaching this system. They like to think that no one can influence their bestsellers list, but the truth is that the big publishers do it all the time. The system I will be teaching doesn't require that you be a big publisher, but it does require an integrated marketing plan, some additional cash, and a lot of time to do it right.

Question: Is this program just for new books or can it be done for any book? My book came out in May 2005.

Answer: It can be used for any book no matter how old, but you do have to have bookstore distribution in place. That doesn't mean your book is in the stores now, but you have to have access to the stores.

If you believe that your book deserves to be on the New York Times bestseller list, then you need to hear this teleseminar. More info at:

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Distribution with Bookstores

Question from reader:

You like stories so here is one. I am on my 3rd year in business as a publisher and can not understand why not one of my 18 printed books have been accepted by Barnes and Noble nor by American for BAMM. We put out a nice professionally covered book, use #60 white paper, children's books are 8 X10's in beautiful covers and illustrations with games at the end of the 42 page books to help with retention, etc, etc. I have been struggling to hold on. Well, by accident I found out why our books have not been picked up by those stores, and why my authors cannot get appearances there. It seems that B&N has barred us and marked us as a publisher that does not take back our books. Crock! It is marked on Bowker, has been explained to the stores by the authors, etc. We just learned that that is the way that Barnes and Noble and the others notify all of their stores that we are not to be stocked nor appearances given. But no explanation to us!

I have emailed Marcella Smith who does not even return an email acknowledging that she received mine, and her assistant is the one who let the cat out of the bag when we were once again told that because we do not accept our books back that our authors cannot get appearances. I do not understand why Barnes and Noble has shut us down. We have done nothing against the rules, we are new and innovative but are not outside the scope of norm. So why on earth would any of my authors believe you when we know that you cannot get us in every big store. The only store that works with my company is Borders and Amazon, so from now on, we will not honor any orders from Barnes and Noble, B Dalton nor BAMM unless it is for an appearance for one of our authors, and we refer all customers to Borders, Amazon and our new bookstore on our site.

John's Answer:

I know few books that get into every bookstore. It's impossible with 6 million books in print and 175,000 new ones every year. Even the biggest stores only carry 100,000 or so titles. They have to be selective. And all stores, whether an independent or a chain, tend to have a bias against small publishers. Given a gardening book from a big publisher and a gardening book from a small publisher, they will almost always carry the one from the big publisher (even when the book from the smaller publisher is better).

Over time, many small publishers grow by continuing to produce great books and finally breaking into more and more bookstores -- or finding other avenues for selling their books. I've seen lots of great small publishers grow from one book to many, creating great covers, doing superb publicity campaigns, etc. And, then, eventually getting accepted into the major chains.

Don't deny Barnes and Noble and BAM any orders they do place. They have to get comfortable working with you. They will come around. Just keep knocking on their doors, keep producing good books, keep doing knock-your-socks-off publicity and promotion.

And, if you really want to get into these stores, get a distributor. With the number of titles you have, you should be able to find a good distributor. And you should have one.

Friday, April 06, 2007

The best author website I've seen in a long, long time

Here is a link to the best author website I've seen in a long, long time. It probably took the author an hour or two to put it together (probably longer than that to think of it and do some of the writing). What a fantastic idea!

See it here:

I wrote the above before I finished reading the entire site (takes about six minutes to read the entire site). Apparently, using her primitive technology, some things did take a bit more time, but she eventually discovered a faster way.

Please note that she does send you to another of her websites that is not nearly as good. Indeed, for book promotion or easy of reading, it doesn't work at all. To order the book, she sends you to I think a lot of people will order her book. I'm certainly tempted.

In Praise of a Blank Cover

Yesterday in his blog, Seth Godin wrote In praise of a blank page. Here is what he had to say about book covers:

"A friend just sent me a book he worked on. It's a terrific book, but it has an astonishingly mediocre (if that's possible) cover. I can just see how the cover came to be. There were proposals and meetings and compromises and a deadline. As the deadline loomed, the compromises came more often, until they ended up with a cover that didn't match the power of the book.

"They should have just shipped a cover that was blank.

"Knowing that you need to ship a blank cover if you can't come up with something great focuses the mind and takes the edge of the conversations about compromise. If 'good enough' isn't good enough, and if the alternative is certain failure, people will dig in and come up with something better."

I think if publishers published more books with blank covers, we'd eventually end up with more great covers. Read Seth's post. He has more to say than what I quoted here.


In fact, while you're there, read his post from today as well: The most important rule.

In today's post he cites the following rule: By a factor of three, what you do is not nearly as important as how it makes people feel.

That's a rule I have to practice more. Sometimes, in the hustle of day-to-day details, I forget the larger picture -- which in my case is this: Why I'm doing what I'm doing. In short, I'm doing what I'm doing because I want to help people. Everything else is secondary.

What is your big picture? Why are you writing books? Why are you doing what you are doing? Answer that. And, if somewhere in your answer, there are no people, put some people in. People matter. Blank pages are great!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

M-Books: Mobile books from

mBooks feature excerpts from bestselling books delivered via cellphone text messaging. The first series of mBooks from features 76 bestselling books including The Power of Now, You Can Heal Your Life, Ask and It is Given, The Power of Intention, Inner Peace for Busy People, Spirit-Centered Relationships, Creative Visualization, Journal of Inner Dialogue, Lessons for Life, Angels 101, Simple Truths, and Praying Naked. As you can see, their original focus is primarily on spiritual and self-help titles.

Each book is delivered via text messages over a period of time, one quote per day. Books sell for around $7.99, although a few are free and most can be sampled. Moka members pay a $5.95 monthly membership fee. Authors and publishers are paid a small royalty per book sold.

Essentially, for authors and publishers, mBooks are rights sales. You license the right to to publish your book in excerpt form as an mBook. Check out for more information on what they are doing.

Monday, April 02, 2007

7 Practical Ways to Earn More by Working Less

Here is a great article on how to work more productively, courtesy of Terry Dean of My Marketing Coach.

The motto of my coaching business is Earn More, Work Less, and Enjoy Life! This is something every business owner wants, but they often feel it's too difficult to achieve.

Too many of us have been programmed by the employee mindset of working hours for dollars. Employees get paid by the number of hours they put in. Entrepreneurs get paid based on the value they create for others...whether they're actively working or not.

Here are 7 practical steps to begin on the road to earning more by working less.

#1 - Hire a Personal Assistant

Quit trying to be a one man (or woman) show. Even if you're currently a small business of just one person (such as a home business, life coach, or real estate agent), you can't do it all yourself.

Hire someone to help you with the routine tasks of answering emails and phone calls. Have them do secretarial work. Figure out what parts of your current work can easily be handled by someone else. Either hand it to a staff member or outsource it.

#2 - Eliminate the Time Vampires

Quit wasting your time. That short call you had to answer became a 30-minute delay. The email you once answered for a non-client has produced 10 additional emails and help requests from the same person ... who still hasn't purchased. That individual who stopped by your office for a quick word with you is still here after one hour.

Try putting an egg timer on your desk and remind yourself every call or contact needs to get to the point within the next 3 minutes.

#3 - Quit Working On Your Weaknesses

We're told to acknowledge and work on our weaknesses to be a well rounded person. Forget about it! Acknowledge your weaknesses, but quit trying to work on them. Build a team and hand off responsibilities where you're weak.

Concentrate on your strengths and giftings. You do what you do best. Hire out the rest. If you're horrible at writing, hire a copywriter. If you don't like administrative paperwork, hand it off to someone else who's qualified.

#4 - Raise Your Prices

I've helped many businesses develop their unique client focus. In a few cases, they were one of the lowest cost options. Yet this is NOT the unique client focus I prefer to have. It's the most difficult one to build a business on.

I'd much rather see you use one of the other 17 ways to develop your uniqueness in the marketplace. You'll often find that by raising your prices and focusing on a more upscale market segment, you'll eliminate many of the time consuming problems of your business.

#5 - Work One Less Day a Week

If you want to make more money, work one less day a week. It sounds crazy, but it has been proven time and time again. If you're currently working 6 days a week, drop to 5. If you're working 5 days, drop to 4. By removing one day from your schedule, you'll be forced to focus more on the days you're working. You cut the garbage out and get down to business. You'll quickly find that a lot of the things you used to think were essential weren't needed at all.

#6 - Take Time to Plan

Plan the schedule for your next day in the last 5 minutes of the day. Plan your schedule for next week on the last ten minutes of your last day of the week. Take out one day every quarter to plan the next 90 days for your business. This is only a small investment each day, but it pays huge dividends for what you accomplish. Of course you can purchase a time management course, but this is the simple basis of planning your time.

Decide on the essentials that must be done in the coming period. And always plan time to work on your business instead of just in your business.

#7 - Hire a Coach

It's so easy to keep following the status quo. I'm sure you've heard that one definition for insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. If you want to earn more while working less, you have to make some changes.

And the absolute best way to make these changes is bring in someone from the outside. They have a different viewpoint and experiences in helping other entrepreneurs just like you. A good business coach knows how to ask the right questions to help you discover exactly how to transform your business into a profitable business instead of just a low paying job.

Terry Dean is the president of MyMarketingCoach. Discover the 10 Key Strategies Any Business Owner Can Use to Earn More, Work Less, and Enjoy Life in a special free report by going to My Marketing Coach.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Free Teleseminar: 10 Most Important Things You Can Do to Market Your Books

Free Teleseminar May 15th, 8:00 to 9:00 pm Eastern Time

PTA President Rick Frishman will interview John Kremer, a publishing expert who has helped thousands of authors and publishers. He will identify the 10 most important things you can do to market your book in today's world.

John will reveal how to use the:

* Internet to sell more books.
* Bookstores to sell more books.
* Media to sell more books.
* Resources of your network to sell more books.
* Creation of your brand to sell more books.

Here's how to participate: Please call 620-294-4000. Then press in the code: 222089#.
blog comments powered by Disqus