Saturday, December 20, 2008

Happy Holidays from an Independent Bookstore

Here's a too-long holiday wish from Vroman's Bookstore, a great independent bookstore in Pasadena, California.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Freelance Cover Designs via a Contest

Need something designed? A book cover, a logo, business cards, a website?

99designs ( is a website that connects clients needing design work such as logos, business cards, or websites to a community of 23,668 designers.

Connections between clients and designers is conducted via contests. You select the winning design and give the designer the award.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Reader Question: Getting Reviews for a Novel

Reader Question: How can I have my book reviewed by reputable reviewers? I am The 2008 recipient of the Schopenhauer International Literary Award for my novel The Raving Eunuch Monks. The Schopenhauer Studies Program released a press release (attached) announcing my selection, however I want to be more proactive in promoting the novel. I published through Booksurge, but I do not have much faith in their marketing packages.

John's Answer: Well, you are in good company with the award. Unfortunately, most media are not that aware of the Schopenhauer award. Yet, the other recipients of the award could get you attention.

How do you get your book reviewed? It's tough when you are POD published via BookSurge because you won't have much bookstore distribution and, without that, most reviewers won't be interested in reviewing your book.

But, of course, the first step to getting reviews from reputable media is to send them a review copy along with several good reasons why they should pay attention to your novel. The Schopenhauer award is one reason. What's another?

Also, by the way, your cover needs to be a fiction cover. It's not now. It looks nonfiction, academic, and boring.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

New York Times Tries YouTube: You Too?

On Tuesday, a full-page ad in the New York Times newspaper announced the debut of its YouTube series of Conversations featuring famous people talking about their favorite sections of the newspaper. Even with a full page ad in the NYT, however, the videos featuring famous people still have only a few hundred to a few thousand views.

For example, the following video with John Leguizamo has so far had 783 views (at least 3 are mine) in three days. In five years since this article was original posted, this video has received a little over 4,000 views. And that's with the power of the New York Times and the celebrity of John Leguizamo!

Why do I bring this up? Because many of you are putting videos up on YouTube and expecting an avalanche of views.

Well, consider this: If the New York Times can only get a few hundred views of some of their videos after a FULL PAGE ad, celebrity spokespeople, and a key feature in the Marketing Vox ezine, how do you expect your video to get views?

I've seen other major companies put videos up on YouTube and declare victory with a few thousand views, but personally (and professionally) I don't think a YouTube video is successful without half a million views.

And if you want that many views, you have to do more than simply put a video up. And do more than pay for a full-page ad in the New York Times. You have to learn how to use the viral power of the Internet.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Two Very Ugly Book Covers

John Hodgman, the PC actor in the ubiquitous Mac TV commercials, has written several books. The covers of these books are just plain ugly and can't possibly be doing much to sell the books. Nonetheless, they are selling well. Both are in the top 2,000 titles on Amazon. Apparently the content is funny because the covers are not.

The Areas of My Expertise:

More Information Than You Require:

Do you like these covers? They fade away to blah, blah, blah in the video interviews I've seen. That means they disappear, are unreadable, don't snap at all.

Since the books are from two different publishers, my guess is that John had a lot of input into the cover designs (since they look so similarly ugly).

Friday, August 22, 2008

I believe . . . Things That Go Viral

The following was emailed to me today by a lady at my local electric cooperative who had it posted near her desk. I asked her to pass it on to me because I found it interesting. I hope you like it as well. It's a great example of how something goes viral.

I believe . . . That just because two people argue, it doesn't mean they don't love each other. And just because they don't argue, it doesn't mean they do.

I believe . . . That we don't have to change friends if we understand that friends change.

I believe . . . That no matter how good a friend is, they're going to hurt you every once in a while and you must forgive them for that.

I believe . . . That true friendship continues to grow, even over the longest distance. Same goes for true love.

I believe . . . That you can do something in an instant that will give you heartache for life.

I believe . . . That you should always leave loved ones with loving words. It may be the last time you see them.

I believe . . . That you can keep going long after you think you can't.

I believe . . . That we are responsible for what we do, no matter how we feel.

I believe . . . That either you control your attitude or it controls you.

I believe . . . That heroes are the people who do what has to be done when it needs to be done, regardless of the consequences.

I believe . . . That money is a lousy way of keeping score.

I believe . . . That my best friend and I can do anything or nothing and have the best time.

I believe . . . That sometimes the people you expect to kick you when you're down, will be the ones to help you get back up.

I believe . . . That sometimes when I'm angry I have the right to be angry, but that doesn't give me the right to be cruel.

I believe . . . That maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you've had and what you've learned from them and less to do with how many birthdays you've celebrated.

I believe . . . That it isn't always enough to be forgiven by others. Sometimes you have to learn to forgive yourself.

I believe . . . That no matter how bad your heart is broken the world doesn't stop for your grief.

I believe . . . That our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become.

I believe . . . That you shouldn't be so eager to find out a secret. It could change your life Forever.

I believe . . . Two people can look at the exact same thing and see something totally different.

I believe . . . That your life can be changed in a matter of hours by people who don't even know you.

I believe . . . That even when you think you have no more to give, when a friend cries out to you, you will find the strength to help.

I believe . . . That credentials on the wall do not make you a decent human being.

I believe . . . That the people you care about most in life are taken from you too soon.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Great Book Covers

While reading the July/August issue of ForeWord magazine, I discovered a good number of great book covers. You can review these covers to help you design your own great covers.

I love the cover of this romantic thriller.

I also love the design of Mara Purl's Milford-Haven mysteries, like the one above.

Here are two poetry books with great covers.

Check out the book cover designers featured at

Monday, July 21, 2008

Book Promotion Advice

I just added a great little page to my website that offers book promotion advice. Check it out at

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Good-Bye U.S. News and World Report

Good-bye to U.S. News and World Report. With their new design and change to a twice-monthly schedule, they are clearly focusing on building their online presence rather than their print publication.

Their website already gets 5 million visitors a month, three times the print magazine's readers.

Alas, with the new biweekly publication schedule (they call it double issues: two issues in one), they will simply be providing their subscribers with fewer issues probably for the same price as their current weekly issues. Alas. They won't get my resubscription with that ruse.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Law of Networking

Here are a few excerpts from Jochem Klijn's The Law of Networking. As you know, I highly recommend making friends as a key way to market your books. To make friends, you need to learn how to network. Check out these excerpts:

Excerpt from page 4:

If you want to make a difference in how you network, try showing genuine interest in other people and listen attentively to what they have to say. If your focus is on them and not on yourself, people will notice and appreciate your character. Mark my words, people will not only notice how you present yourself, they’ll begin to gravitate to you because they want to be around someone like you -- a person they can trust and whom they can take seriously.

Excerpt from page 51:

It has been my experience with networking that there are two types of entrepreneurs. First, there are those who consider it important to meet people and try to establish business contacts. Then there are those who don’t see the necessity of it. The former are generally ahead of the game when it comes to getting positive results from their efforts. Conversely, the latter often see no results because they put little or no effort into cultivating a network.

Excerpt from page 68:

I heard a story once about a well-known soccer player on his first visit to Barcelona, who took a taxi to the soccer stadium and on the way, tried to give the driver directions on the best way to get there. It’s a rather silly little anecdote but it’s also a splendid example of pride.

Pride always has to know better and loves to show everyone. So don’t be this way. Even if you are smarter than everyone else, be modest about it because eventually others will figure it out anyway.

Excerpt from page 98:

Get to work with these steps and the rest will take care of itself!

1. Sincerely believe that networking is essential for doing business; it is a fundamental ingredient for gaining success. If you don’t see results as quickly as you would like, ask yourself what could be the reason. Be conscious of the fact that you might be wrong. If you think networking hardly works, if at all, realize that this idea has a cause. Probably you haven’t seen very many results or it doesn’t mean much to you yet.

2. You must truly believe in the principle of sowing and reaping and be convinced that with the right attitude, you will gain by it as well.

3. Take action. Decide to start networking. Make the decision to begin and trust that it’s the right one. Make a plan and get to work. Don’t just decide to change things, go do it!

For more information, go to

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Bold New Approach to Personal Advertising

Below is an interesting advertising technique featured in the Levine Breaking News e-newsletter today:

I'm just curious how many potential clients/dates/customers would be bold enough to attempt to tear her number off her skirt. I'd be willing to try. I am willing to make any sacrifice in researching markets and new advertising techniques.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Books as Decoration

Blog Tour Palooza

Looking for another use for books besides reading them? On their website, the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel offered a number of ways to display and decorate with books. As they noted, flea markets and garage sales are repositories of old books and encyclopedia sets that can be used to decorate.

Books as wallpaper -- Invest in a large number of leather-bound books in the same shade to create a wall of color. Note: Movie set decorators do this all the time. They often rent books from used bookstores like Strand in New York City.

A spot of color -- Have a monotone room? Pick out a few books in a striking color to add dimension. Several retail stores like Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters sell books but also use them to highlight color schemes for the clothing they sell (and to set a certain ambiance).

Books as furniture -- Use a book or a stack of books to create end tables, coffee tables, and pedestals. When I began self-publishing 25 years ago, I used cases of books to support a bed. Also see the book bar in the photo above.

Leni Leth, owner of Book Decor, a California company that specializes in refurbishing and selling leather-bound books, suggests forgetting the shelves, and instead using books as risers for candles and lamps, on coffee tables, and even in bathrooms.

Augment with books -- Try hanging books over the rungs of a ladder or lining the edges of a room with books.

Books as art -- When books were more rare, they were displayed face out. Take some favorite books and display them on bookstands. Many people use coffee-table books as decorative items on -- of all things -- coffee tables (actually, that's why full-color beautiful books are often called coffee-table books.

Note: The Associated Press ( pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080614/LIVING02/806140307/1007/ LIVING) also has a great article on using books as decor.

Finally, here's a great bookshelf blog (all about bookshelves!):

Saturday, June 14, 2008

John Kremer's 7 Keys to a Great Book Title

The following is taken from The Copywriting Maven blog by Roberta Rosenberg. I found some misleading statements in the article. As she notes in the comment below, those misleading statements came from the writer of the article and not from her. Nonetheless, they must be corrected. My response is highlighted in dark blue.

In the April issue of Steve Harrison’s Book Marketing Update, there’s an article based on author John Kremer’s (1001 Ways to Market Your Book) thoughts on book titling. With so many of us involved in self-publishing POD and ebooks, I thought I’d synopsize the recommendations.

1. Make your title memorable, since 80% of books are sold by word-of-mouth.

This really is the top consideration when creating a title for any book. I agree with this statement.

2. Short titles are best, most successful titles are around 5 words. Add a subtitle to expand and/or illuminate the information about your book.

While a short title, in most cases is best, I've seen many successful long titles. So the true rule here is this: The title should be the right length to describe what's in the book and yet provide the reader with the right motivation to buy the book.

3. Numbers in titles can be very effective for non-fiction, just as they are when writing headline copy.

Numbers can be effective, but 95% of titles, including the most successful, do not include numbers. Of course, my book does.

4. Include keywords for non-fiction titles. You want to put the main search terms for your subject in your title or subtitle, but don’t use terms that are too generic.

A good title is more important than stuffing keywords, unless you are selling your book primarily online. Then keywords can be important.

5. Try inventing or coining a word for your title, but strive for conceptual clarity rather than showing off how clever you are. (I coined ‘macromize” for a promotion I did for a book about um, Wordstar macros years ago. I still like it. :)

Coining words for a title is an absolute no-no, unless the coined word is a brand or can be made into a brand. Even then, coining words is generally, almost always, not a good idea.

6. Try to think brandable - the Chicken Soup, Idiots and Dummies series represent genius-level book branding at its finest.

When critiquing titles, I always work to see if the title can be made into a brand. 99% of titles cannot be made into brands, but the few that can be are often very successful.

7. Don’t try to do too much with your title. Think brand, then add the specific audience you’re going after.

Don't try to do too much with your title. The purpose of a title, firstmost, is simple: Attract attention. Get the attention of the people who really need or would want the book.

John Kremer's Book Title Critiques

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Using Cartoons to Get Attention

Have you seen the latest issue of the Journal?
It's all John Kremer this, John Kremer that, and nothing about us.

Cartoonist Stu Heinecke is credited with inventing the personalized cartoon genre of direct mail. Here is one of his wonderful cartoons, personalized for me.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Breaking through Distractions While Writing

Here's the scenario: you have a project and a deadline. Then wham! You find out your live-in lover of two years is seeing someone else. The wedding bells are now ringing like a death knoll. And your project? It gets dumped just like you did.

Is that fair? Maybe not. But it happens. People come and go in our lives, for a myriad of reasons. Yet as writers, we have to continue on our creative journey. And more importantly, the deadline is nearing. The emotional distraction didn't give a flip about you but your writing does.

But how do you get over the drama and still keep pressing on when your mind is being torn apart like a game of tug of war?

Here are four quick and fool-proof ways to work through any emotional distraction when writing is your mission but life has other ideas:

1) Write about your feelings thoughts and emotions in the 3rd person. Like you're talking about another couple. Many revealing discoveries may surface.

2) Write a journal entry, but from your best friend's or family's point of view.

3) Write from your pet's point of view. If it's a cat or a dog (I have two cats), you've got a veritable gold mine, but don't discount your goldfish's observations, either.

4) Then go back and finish that project.

My mother once told me (and of course, this is a no-no cliché, but I still like it), that people come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. We don't always get to choose which. But we can choose what we do with the experience.

The answer is as transparent as Gladwrap: we write about it. I always say experience and the changes in our lives, if nothing else, make for good fiction.

Nancy Padron is a freelance editor, writing & life coach. Her work has been published in numerous national magazines. She is one of the most sought-after freelance editors in the nation. For more information on how to break through writing blocks and finishing that project, contact The first 50 authors to respond will receive a free workshop lesson. A $50 value.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Kathleen Gage, John Kremer, and Bob Baker

Internet marketing expert Kathleen Gage, indie music marketing expert Bob Baker, and book marketing expert John Kremer caught at the Midpoint party during BookExpo America in Los Angeles, California.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

John Kremer: Whack, Whack, Whack

Here is a YouTube video of me having some fun with Matthew Peterson and Shel Horowitz on the last day of BookExpo America in Los Angeles. Enjoy!

What would you do to make the news? Whack someone? Sing and dance? More? Check out this BookExpo America short short.

Friday, June 06, 2008

John Kremer at BookExpo America

Below are a few photos of me at BookExpo America in Los Angeles (from last weekend).

The first is a photo of me with the Pope
(he was a little stiff that day :)).

Above is another photo from the last day of BookExpo America with me in the middle, Matthew Peterson, author of Paraworld Zero on the left, and Shel Horowitz, author of Grassroots Marketing on the right.

Note how Matthew is holding his book and Shel has a badge with his book -- and me, the book marketer, with nothing. Alas.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

International Day of Peace

At BookExpo America, I was told a wonderful story by Melvin Weiner, director of the Peace Day Calendar Program. Last fall, he discovered the U.N.'s International Day of Peace, which occurs annually on September 21st.

As the sales manager for a large calendar publisher, Melvin did something only a few people in the world could have done. He enlisted the help of other major calendar publishers to add the U.N. International Day of Peace to their calendars. As a result of his work, most major U.S. calendar publishers will be listing the U.N. International Day of Peace in their 2009 calendars.

Last year on the International Day of Peace there were over 3,000 events in all countries involving hundreds of millions of people; these included vigils, workshops, exhibits, school activities and more - and that was before any calendars listed it. Now with the date on the calendar, they'll be even more!

I love it when someone who can make a difference takes the time to do just that.

For more information, check out:

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Nautilus Book Award Winners: 2008

The motto of the Nautilus Book Award is: Changing the World One Book at a Time

Here are the award winners who were announced at BookExpo America last week:

Small Press Award: Getting a Grip by Frances Moore Lappe’ - Small Planet Media

Animals / Nature: The Emotional Lives of Animals by Mark Bekoff - New World Library

Art / Specialty / Gift: Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Khadromas and the Way of the Pilgrim by Simhananda - Orange Palm Publications

Children's Illustrated: The Day the Stones Walked by T.A. Barron - Philomel Books/Penguin Young Readers Group

Children's / Young Adult Non-Fiction: The Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming by Laurie David and Cambria Gordon - Scholastic / Orchard Books

Conscious Business / Leadership: The Economics of Happiness by Mark Anielski - New Society Publishers

Conscious Media / Journalism: Thirst: Fighting the Corporate Theft of Our Water by Alan Snitow & Deborah Kaufman with Michael Fox - Jossey-Bass

Cosmology / New Science: The Mystery of 2012 by Sounds True

Ecology / Environment / Sustainability: The Blue Death by Dr. Robert D. Morris - Harper Collins

Fiction / Visionary Fiction - Adult: Buddha: A Story of Enlightenment by Deepak Chopra - HarperSanFrancisco

Fiction / Fantasy - Young Adult: Gaia Girls Way of Water by Lee Welles - Chelsea Green

Food / Cooking / Nutrition: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver with Steven L. Hopp and Camille Kingsolver - HarperCollins

Grieving / Death & Dying: The Lonely Planet by Michael Stein - HarperCollins

Health / Healing / Energy Medicine: The Energy Healing Experiments by Gary E. Schwartz with William L. Simon - Atria Books

Home & Garden / Natural Living: China's Sacred Sites by Nan Shunxun and Beverly Foit-Albert - Himalayan Institute Press

Indigenous / Multicultural: Wild by Jay Griffiths – Tarcher/Penguin

Memoir / Personal Journey: Bones That Float by Kari Grady Grossman – Wild Heaven Press

Parenting / Family: Raising Baby Green by Alan Greene - Jossey-Bass

Personal Growth / Psychology: Living Deeply by Marilyn Mandala Schlitz, Cassandra Vieten, Tina Amorok - Noetics Books /New Harbinger Publications

Social Chanage / Activism / Peaceful Solutions: Loyal to the Sky by Marisa Handler – Barrett/Koehler

Religion: Secrets of the Lost Mode of Prayer by Gregg Braden – Hay House

Spirituality: The Life of Meaning by Bob Abernethy and William Bole - Seven Stories Press

Yoga / Massage / Body Movement: Yoga Calm for Children by Lynea Gillen and Jim Gillen - Three Pebble Press

World Changing Audio Books: Living the Field by Lynne McTaggart – Sounds True

For more information about the awards, check out

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Widget Example

Here's a neat little widget from

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

10 Million Eyeballs: Up Your Alexa Rank Now!

If you were to get 10 million eyeballs to see, hear, or learn about you, your book, or your website, here are a few of the things that would happen:

1. The Alexa rank for your website would jump from wherever it is to somewhere in the top 150,000 sites in the world (out of more than 150 million sites and counting).

2. You will get from 60,000 to 200,000 unique visitors to your website every month. Some months your traffic would spike to half a million to a million unique visitors.

3. Based on that many visitors, even if you only convert 1/10 of 1% to customers, that's 60 to 200 sales per month. For a $20 book, that means income of $1,200 to $4,000 per month.

4. Even if you don't sell one book or any services, you will receive $500 to $10,000 every month from Google for AdSense and display ads.

5. If you decide to sell display ads directly to companies that want to reach your visitors, you should be able to generate $300 to $1,000 per page per month from display ads. The richer your website is in content, the more you'll make in ad income.

If you attend one of my Ten Million Eyeball Events in Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Denver, or Atlanta -- and follow my advice -- I guarantee that you will generate at least 10 million eyeballs in the next two years and could easily generate 5 to 10 million eyeballs every month within a year or less.

For details, go to

Monday, May 05, 2008

10 Reasons: Pro and Con for a Book

Joseph Langen, author of The Pastor's Inferno, followed up on my advice to write about the pros and cons of buying your book. He posted his reasons on his Common Sense Wisdom blog: conversations-with-calliope_29.html.

Here are ten reasons to buy his book, The Pastor's Inferno:

1. Start to understand about how abusive priests think.
2. Take some of the mystery out of the abuse epidemic.
3. Discover some of the influences on the development of abusive behavior.
4. Learn how temptation seduces people to abandon their morals.
5. Understand why moral values sometimes fail to control our behavior.
6. See the relationship between pride and humility.
7. Appreciate how people come to ask for help with their shortcomings.
8. Explore the possibility of redemption.
9. See how you can benefit from those willing to help, no matter what happened.
10. Learn more about the human condition.

And here are his ten reasons not to buy his book:

1. I don't want to even think about evil.
2. Abusive priests should be punished, not understood.
3. It's not my problem.
4. Who cares? The crisis is over anyway.
5. There's nothing I personally can do about it.
6. It's up to the pope and bishops to handle.
7. These priests are hopeless. Lock them up and throw away the key.
8. They don't deserve a chance for redemption.
9. Counseling doesn't work for these people.
10. It has nothing to do with how I live my life.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Harlan Ellison: Writers Should Be Paid!

In the video above, Harlan Ellison, one of the great writers of the past 50 years and a multiple award winner in the field of science fiction, argues that writers should get paid for their work. He makes some great points. Pay attention.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Why Someone Should Buy Your Book: Pros and Cons

During a recent teleconference, I suggested to listeners that they might share the ten best reasons to buy their book as a text listing or a video on their website. And then also share the ten reasons why someone shouldn't buy their book. Website visitors are more likely to become buyers if you give them an objective view of your book -- both the pros and cons, why they should buy and why they might choose not to buy your book.

Sister Patricia Proctor made a video giving the two best reasons to buy or not to buy her book 101 Inspirational Stories of the Power of Prayer. You can check out her video above.

I think she does a wonderful job of selling her book even as she tries to give reasons not to buy her book. It's a good exercise for any author to do. It will help you understand why some people choose not to buy your book.

Check out my own list on why you should take my 10 Million Eyeballs Event -- or why you should not at

Thursday, April 17, 2008

From 10 People to 3 Million in Six Months

Kate Nowak, the creator of the May You Be Blessed video, kicked off her movie by emailing it to 10 people. The movie, forwarded on to many, many friends of friends, was seen by 3 million people in the first six months. Her Better to Bless website is now a community of blessers as well as a thriving gift shop.

A $20 Million Blog

The January 2008 issue of Conde Nast Portfolio magazine valued Matt Drudge's Drudge Report one-page website at $10 to $20 million based on ad sales generated from the blog's 1.33 million unique monthly visitors.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

MTV's Half-Billion Dollar Online Presence

MTV's 300 websites attracted 90 million unique visitors in December 2007. Their income from the websites exceeded half a billion dollars in 2007.

One of the keys to their success has been to free the content so it is accessible from more than just their own sites. As their president noted, “We need to make sure our content is everywhere our audiences are ... to keep our brands relevant.”

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Online Promotion Can Make a Difference

Using text messages, Facebook groups, and YouTube videos, student activists in Venezuela organized protest marches against the increasingly autocratic rule of president Hugo Chávez. One protest march featured more than 200,000 union laborers, students, housewives, and business executives. The marches helped to defeat a reform package that would have enabled Chávez to be president indefinitely. As the leader of the movement noted, “Youths in any nation, I believe, can do the same. They can make history.”

Monday, April 14, 2008

Blogger Gets $350,000 Book Deal

Since its January 2008 debut, the Stuff White People Like blog founded by Christian Lander and Myles Valentin has racked up 22.5 million hits. Lander, the main author of the blog, has just been offered a $350,000 book deal by Random House.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

40 Million Views for One Poem-Related Video

The Dash Poem Movie written by Linda Ellis and produced by Mac Anderson, has been viewed 40 million times. Linda has received over one million emails thanking her for writing The Dash. Their Simple Truths website sells a ton of books and movies.

For more such success stories for online marketing and Internet marketing, see

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Viral Videos Lead to 3 Printings

After uploading three viral videos to YouTube, the publisher of Chad Kultgen's novel The Average American Male had to go back to press three times in the first month.

Here are links to the other two videos:

For more such success stories, see

Friday, April 11, 2008

10 Million Eyeballs Event

I just finished writing a great sales letter for the 10 Million Eyeballs Events I'll be doing in late April in West Palm Beach, Florida, and in late May in Los Angeles, California (right before BEA). It's a great letter. I think you'll like it.

Read it here:

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Create an Impact

Ken McArthur is creating an interesting variation on the Amazon Bestseller campaign to promote his new book, Impact: How to Get Noticed, Motivate Millions and Make a Difference in a Noisy World.

At the very least, you can check out his promotion and download a free audio on Creating Massive Impact. Check it out here (Note the widget is no longer available).

I think you'll find his approach interesting and instructive.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Amazon POD Conundrum is apparently now requiring POD authors and publishers (that is, those who are using print-on-demand technologies to produce their books) to work with Amazon's sister company BookSurge to provide books to Amazon's site.

Now, a lot of people and organizations are making a lot of hub-bub and fuss about this change in Amazon's policy, but personally I understand it. Amazon made a good argument for making the change. It really makes sense for them to print the books at their warehouses and to send them out from there rather than wait to get books from Lightning Source or other POD printers. By printing in-house, they can ship orders around the world more quickly and also make sure that the entire order goes out right away rather than being held up by waiting for the POD book to be produced.

Now, the one nasty in this equation is that BookSurge has a hefty set-up cost which really isn't justified. If Amazon really wants to make their argument fairly, they should be providing much lower fees to authors and publishers who have already set up their books for POD (via Lightning Source or another provider). I think a $20 to $30 set-up fee per book would be fair.

If Amazon had offered such a low fee for set-up, I expect they would have avoided all the charges of piracy, monopoly, scuzzy dealing, etc. being launched their way by various associations, bloggers, writers, etc. Perhaps they will still make that change.

But all the fuss, hub-bub, ado, to-do, noise is way beyond what's going on here. The people who say "Give Amazon an inch and they will take a mile next week." are really pushing the noise level too far. Just my opinion.

Much too fussy. Get some dogs. Walk them. Learn from them. I do that every day, and their wonder at life and joy for little things just make these Amazon hijinks seem so unimportant and the fuss about the hijinks even less important.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Blogging Interviews

To promote Personality Not Included, Rohit Bhargava invited fellow bloggers to send him five questions about the book. As part of the offer, he promised that the best interview would win a signed copy of the book and a $100 gift certificate from Amazon. 55 bloggers took him up on his offer.

One blogger, for example, asked for Bhargava's elevator pitch. His response: "Faceless companies don't work anymore. In the social media era, personality matters."

Another asked him if he considered himself a Simon, a Randy, or a Paula (the American Idol judges). He responded, "Definitely Simon, because he's authentic. Authenticity to me means not blowing smoke up people's behind when you think they are stupid."

Still another asked him if the weird little wind-up chickens on the book cover had any significance. Nope. They were simply used to help the book stand out in the business section of bookstores. As Bhargava noted, "Have you seen chickens on any other marketing books?"

In his summary of this effort ( weblog/2008/04/pni-virtual-int.html), Bhargava hinted that next time he did something like this, he'd probably make it easier for the bloggers (and him) by having them ask only 3 questions.

Now, the one thing he did not report was the effect on sales. Yes, he got featured in 55 blogs. Neat. But did he sell any books? I just checked his Amazon rank (17,329 as I write this blog post). For a comparison, here's the Amazon rank for 1001 Ways to Market Your Books (with no blog campaign going on recently): 6,599.

So, while some of the bloggers praised his book marketing campaign, he never reported the key stat: how many books did he sell. Alas.

Now, I liked what he did. You might try it yourself to promote your book. But if you do, please tell me how it affected your book sales. That's the key to marketing books. You must sell books.

Monday, April 07, 2008

5 Ways Authors Can Profit from Linked In

Here's a great article from Mahesh Grossman:

LinkedIn, the social network for professionals, just changed my life.

To be honest, until a few weeks ago, I never took it seriously. From time to time a friend or an acquaintance would ask me to link with them, and I would, but I didn't understand what to do with my network. In fact, I'm not sure I ever invited anyone to link with me.

Now I understand some of the power of this tool -- and it's especially useful for authors. So here are five ways you can use LinkedIn to help you write, publish, and promote your book:

1) Ask for help with your content, including websites and people to interview.

LinkedIn has a feature where you get to ask questions, either of your network or of people in a particular industry. I am working on an ebook that will be a list of a particular group of sites. I asked the network where to find more of these sites and I got an amazing response that made this ebook my top priority. But you could also ask a question like "Do you know how I could find people to interview for my book who have a successful arranged marriage?". Not only would you get suggestions on where to find people to interview, anyone with a successful arranged marriage would be likely to offer to be interviewed.

It's also possible that people have already asked questions on your topic, so if you search the Answers section using appropriate keywords, you are likely to find some usable information as well.

2) Get introduced to famous authors and ask for testimonials.

I am shocked at how many famous authors are on LinkedIn. I have a few bestelling authors as direct links myself -- and I am only one introduction away, meaning someone in my network can introduce me -- from several authors who have sold more than ten million books -- and there aren't that many authors who have done that. So if you were to join LinkedIn and link to me, you would be one level away from the bestselling authors I know, and two people away from these authors who have sold massive quantities of books. That's pretty amazing. So if you have high quality work that has been vetted by a professional coach (one that has been published by traditional publishers!), you could approach a very big name author through LinkedIn.

3) Have a particular agent you want to be introduced to? There are 326 agents on LinkedIn.

I did a search on the term "literary agent" and found 326. I wouldn't try to get introduced to all of them, but you do your homework and find a particular agent that is the most likely to be interested in your work, it could be a good way to make a connection. Once again, you have to really have studied the publishing business and know what you are doing to make this work. But it is an interesting strategy. (And I know of a number of editors from major publishing houses who are also on LinkedIn.)

4) Want publicity? There are lots of periodical editors and TV producers you can network with.

I know several publicists on LinkedIn, and some are connected to top editors and producers. Want to get in Time magazine or Sports Illustrated? There are writers and editors from those publications. Want to get on national television? Once again, you can reach out and try to connect with these folks, who are also on LinkedIn.

5) Want to connect to people who might help market your book? Ask the right question.

Once again, LinkedIn Answers gives you the opportunity to ask how to do something, and let people volunteer to help you. Ask a question like "I'm the author of a book about living a balanced life. I would like to be interviewed on 50 teleseminars this year. How do I find people who might want to host me on a teleseminar?" Whatever your goal is, ask how you can do it, or find people to help you. Some good Samaritans will come forward and say, "I'd be happy to have you on a teleseminar."

So those are five ways to work with The bigger your network, easier it is to get help.


Mahesh Grossman is the author of Write a Book Without Lifting a Finger ( and president of The Authors Team (, a company that helps credible business experts become incredible business authors, through ghostwriting, editing, coaching, publishing, publicity and marketing. For a free list of more than 400 agents as well as a newsletter with tips on planning, writing, publishing and marketing your book, go to

Meanwhile, check out John Kremer's LinkedIn page and become a friend:

Sunday, April 06, 2008

HarperCollins New Venture: Good for Authors?

Bob Miller, founder of Hyperion, is moving to HarperCollins to start up a new program that will publish about 25 books per year, pay no advances to authors, and sell to bookstores only on a nonreturnable basis. They plan some sort of profit-sharing model instead of a traditional royalty. They also intend to focus on online publicity, advertising, and marketing.

Will this be good for authors? Not really. Here's why:

1. The books will get very little bookstore distribution, the one true strength of the major publishers, because they won't be offering returnable terms.

2. No advances mean the authors will have to write their books totally on spec with nothing to finance their efforts until well after the book is published.

3. A profit-sharing plan can mean anything. Since publishers currently make no money on three out of four books they publish, a profit-sharing plan is meaningless. So it all depends on what this plan really means.

4. While HarperCollins is probably the most innovative online marketer of the larger publishers, the emphasis on online marketing only leaves authors with very little to measure to tell whether or not the publisher is actually doing anything substantial for their books.

5. I believe authors would be better off self-publishing. They could offer better terms to bookstores than HarperCollins will be offering. They will have to pay some money upfront. Their profit-sharing plan will be very clear since they will be sharing the profit only with themselves. I know many authors who are doing more effective jobs marketing online than any major publisher.

I do think new authors would be ill-served to sign a contract with this new division of HarperCollins. At least according to the terms reported in Publishers Weekly. Authors should watch to see how this new division develops before committing the life of their books to an uncertain future.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Importance of Meter in Rhyming Books

Question from Reader: If writing and self-publishing a book in rhyme, does it matter if the meter and scan are not 100% perfect, if the book has been tested on children and parents, and they love it? Realistically, how many children and parents are going to pick up on imperfections if the book is still very easy to read?

I've just had a story professionally edited for meter and scan, and I can't see why it all matters. I am wondering if its worth the time and money when perhaps it may be better to just put the book out there and let the audience decide.

John's Answer: It does not always need to be perfect. But if there are more than two or three imperfect meters in a 32-page book, kids and parents may very well be disappointed. A key to the success of children's books is how many times children pick up the book to read it again (or have it read to them again).

Everyone will pick up on the imperfections. Always do. Whether it will matter to them is another thing. Again, some imperfections are often acceptable, but not too many.

You can always put the book out there and let the audience decide. They are the ultimate arbiters for something like this.

Now, most meter problems can be solved. It just takes a little more time to edit and refine the text. Why not try that first?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

John Kremer's Online Book Marketing Seminar

John Kremer is hosting a two-day live seminar on how to market your books online. This is very short notice. The seminar will be held in Prescott, Arizona on March 29th and 30th (Saturday and Sunday). Times: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. both days.

During this seminar, John will be teaching four insider ways to get five to ten million online impressions for your book, your ideas, your website, or whatever else you want to promote. That simple. I'll teach you the fastest way, a slower way, and a really inexpensive way that doesn't take a lot of time or knowledge to implement. But, if you don't know how to make use of 10 million impressions, this course is not for you.

The above statement is blunt, but realistic. Don't take this seminar if you're not ready to handle that kind of interest. As part of the course, I'll reveal the five best ways to convert that sort of interest into book sales -- lots of book sales!

Please note that the four key ways to reach lots of people online will not include Google AdWords (too expensive), social networks like MySpace and Facebook (too time-consuming), knowledge networks like Squidoo or Wikipedea (again, too time-consuming), or tagging networks (no control). These tools will be discussed, however, in the context of the other quicker, easier, and cheaper ways that will be revealed.

I know this is very short notice, but if you can make this seminar, you will be very glad you did.

To sign up, click here: John Kremer's Online Book Marketing Seminar.

This seminar will be very interactive. Bring your computers and online access so you can begin testing John's tips right away. Wi-Fi will be available in the seminar room.

The cost is only $497 for two days of the most intense and useful tips you'll ever receive on how to market your books and services online.

I haven't set the location yet for the seminar, but it will be somewhere close to downtown Prescott, Arizona. If you need to book a hotel or motel in the Prescott area, check They have many low-cost motels as well as wonderful slightly higher cost bread & breakfast inns. Prescott is a two-hour drive from the Phoenix, Arizona airport.

John Kremer's Online Book Marketing Seminar

March 29 to 30, 2008 (Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.)

Prescott, Arizona (specific location to be named later)

To sign up, click here: John Kremer's Online Book Marketing Seminar: shop/cgi/shop/cart/add?shopID=12&qty=1&prodID=20195.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Strong Images: Strong Book Covers

A reader of this blog brought my attention to the above cover. As she wrote:

"I always enjoy your blog posts about book covers. I came across a wonderful cover for a book called Pocket Psycho. Unfortunately, the book is only available in Australia, but gosh, I'd buy it here in a heartbeat just based on that cover! It so perfectly conveys the feelings of a modern day cubicle worker trapped by a malevolent boss. I thought you'd get a kick out of the cover, as well."

She's right. I did enjoy the cover, especially the image. The typeface on the title -- that I'd change. But I can see why she'd buy the book based on that image.

Since it is not available in the U.S., check out the website at job-search/job-market-insider/surviving-the-office-monster.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Welcome to the Book Marketing Network

1495 authors have now joined the Book Marketing Network on Ning. Let's make it 1,500. If you haven't joined yet, do it today. You can add videos, blog, add photos, join in discussions, make friends, network, create relationships, join in joint marketing programs, etc. You can join the network here:

Here is a music video a young lady added to the Book Marketing Network not long ago. Lovely song. Enjoy:

To learn more about the singer, go to:

Friday, March 14, 2008

Book Covers Sell Books

In today's interview featured in Shelf Awareness, Felicia Sullivan describes a book she bought for the cover:

"Serious Girls by Maxine Swann. The image of two schoolgirls clutching hands, their legs submerged in a pond, their backs flat on anemic grass, their eyes gazing up at a bleached sky, a smattering of red on a uniform (blood?), haunted me. I remember browsing the New Releases section in my local bookstore, and I kept walking by Serious Girls, disturbed, curious. I didn't know anything about the book or the author, but on that particular day, I knew that I wanted to learn more about those two girls."

I can see why the image transfixes her. Are they dead? Just relaxing on a hot summer's day? You really can't tell by the cover.

An interesting use of negative space with a nearly blank white top half.

Would you want to read this book? Does the cover sell you?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

7 Deadly Sins Authors Make and How You Can Avoid Them

Here's the second part of Fred Gleeck's article from yesterday. In this article, he lists the seven sins authors make and how you can avoid them. Good advice.


The most recent data I've seen says that 99% of authors make less than $50,000. Sad but true. Want to find out how to end up in the 1% who make more? Keep reading and avoid these deadly sins that most authors make.

1. Going with a Traditional Publisher. Unless you are a fiction writer, you'll make more money publishing a book yourself. My friend and client Bob Bly has had over 70 books published by traditional publishers. Every time I sit down with him he tells me that if he had it to do over again he would have made a LOT more money publishing the books himself.

2. Not including bounceback offers in your books. Whenever I do a seminar with writers in the room the vast majority don't even know what the word "bounceback" means. That's because most writers/authors/publishers have been taught the traditional model. Sell books and make money from the books. NOT. Use your book to get people to go to your website and sign up for your list. Then you can sell them much higher priced items forever!

3. Worrying about people STEALING your books published in e-book form. If you understand the new publishing model you should care less about people acquiring your e-books without paying for them. Instead, make sure to include a lot of bouncebacks AND make sure to include the following line in multiple places in the book: "Registered users of this e-book are entitled to the following free bonuses." Want to get people to pay for your e-book fast? Include this line and the bootleggers will come running back to pay for what they stole.

4. Not understanding how people learn. Although you're a writer, you'll have to understand that people learn using different modalities of learning. Although someone picked up your book, their PRIMARY method of learning may be by listening (audios) or watching (videos). It thus behooves you to create content in your subject matter in a variety of forms, not JUST the written word.

5. Not building a LIST of people who are interested in your topic. As a writer, your single biggest asset in your publishing business will be a list of dedicated fans of you and your work. Make sure to capture the names of any and everyone you can who visits your website that sells your book. Use a program like WebMarketingMagic to quickly and easily build your list. The list you build will be worth (if properly cultivated) between $.10 and $1.00 per person per month.

6. Sending people to a brochure site to sell your book(s). The line I always use is: A CONFUSED MIND ALWAYS SAYS NO! If you send people to a catch-all site that has every possible bit of information about who you are and what you do, don't expect people to end up buying the book. You've given them too many options. Instead, create a site that sells JUST your book. It's fine to have other sites, but each book must have a single site geared to selling just that book. Full stop. No exceptions.

7. Not understanding that you're no longer a writer, but an information marketer. Sure, you may think of yourself as an author or writer, but if you sell your knowledge in any other form as well, you're an information marketer. Do you do coaching or consulting on your topic? Do you do training and seminars? What about speaking? If you do anything in addition to writing, you, my friend are NOT a writer, you're an information marketer! Behave appropriately! Learn from other savvy individuals how to best leverage your skills and talents to maximize your returns!

In conclusion, the publishing business is changing. Changing rapidly. Don't get stuck using the OLD model. Learn how to maximize your revenue as an author who understands the new challenges. Understand the 7 items above and you're on your way!!


Fred's advice is something every author should read and apply. It doesn't mean that you have to follow his advice in every instance (I certainly don't), but if you do follow his advice, you'll undoubtedly make more money than if you commit any of the above seven deadly sins. It's your choice: sin or make money.

Whichever choice you make, be sure to do one more thing: Have fun. Enjoy what you do regardless of which way you decide.

To subscribe to Fred's ezine, Fred Gleeck Insights, go to

Fred offers five free books to anyone who wants them. Check them out at

Monday, March 10, 2008

Fred Gleeck Speaks: Your Book Is Only the Beginning

My friend Fred Gleeck wrote a great article in the most recent issue of his Fred Gleeck Insights ezine. I think you should read it. He's got some great things to say that I've also been saying. Every once in awhile, it's good to hear it from someone else. Here's Fred:


For the last almost 10 years I've been trying to tell authors that the money is NOT in the book. It's in EVERYTHING that comes AFTER the book. Most traditional authors (and aspiring authors) don't seem to understand this model.

That better change if authors want to make writing their full time occupation. If not, they're going to want to find a bartending job. If you know an author or someone who is thinking of writing a book, PLEASE send them a copy of this email.

I believe even more strongly than before that you can only make serious money as an author if you structure your business in a way that your book becomes the beginning and not the end of the process.

I've referred to my own books as negative cost lead generators. By this I mean that when I sell a book I make a few bucks but my REAL goal is to capture the email address of the person who buys it.

Take a sale I make on Amazon for one of my many books. Let's say the book sells for $14.95. After Amazon takes its cut I make around $6.50 per book. Since I get them printed for $3.50 a piece, I end up making $3 a book.

In the books I've got an offer on every page, trying to get people to give me their name and email address in exchange for an appropriate digital bribe.

Every author has got to understand that the sale of a book or two or two thousand does not make a BUSINESS. Smart authors build their business by building and cultivating their LIST. Your business becomes LIST BUILDING. A list that is created from making attractive offers to readers of the book between the pages of the book itself. The list that you create of people who have an interest in your topic area becomes a gold mine that you can continuously tap if you cultivate them correctly.

I was prompted to write about this topic (again) after reading Chris Anderson's most recent article in Wired magazine. Chris, if you don't know him is the author of the prescient Long Tail. In that book he explains why ITunes works. He explains that because the cost of distributing music has fallen to virtually ZERO, even the most obscure singer/songwriter can sell a download or two every month or so and have it work financially for both parties.

Similar things are happening in the book publishing business. Traditional books are now being transformed into e-books and the new e-book readers are getting better and better.

A recent book by Jeff Gomez (Print is Dead) talks about the imminent demise of physical books. It's mandatory reading if you are an author and suggested reading for EVERY info marketer. His premise is that that eventually people will become accustomed to getting their information directly from the computer and the need for a physical book will no longer be necessary.

I'm not sure I buy his premise completely, but he makes a very solid argument. In another 50 years it is entirely possible (for me) to envision a world where (new) physical books no longer exist. If we even partially buy into the argument, it becomes imperative for authors to look for other revenue sources than books themselves. Why? Because the effective COST of a book will be ZERO!

That's WHY I'm an information marketer. That's WHY every speaker, author and consultant should be building a list and creating ancillary products and services in their topic areas to sell to that list.

I spend an inordinate amount of my time reading and thinking. I consider this time well spent. I mainly think about how I can generate more revenue for myself and my clients through novel and creative ways.

Going back to Chris Anderson's article in Wired, he talks about a very interesting concept. He references a venture capitalist named Josh Kopelman. He talks about what he calls the penny gap. He postulates that FREE is one market and ANY other price is an entirely different market.

As an information marketer I'm constantly thinking about what price point a product should be released at. According to Kopelman's argument the question is really binary: FREE OR NOT?

I would suggest that you need to ask this question of yourself all the time when you produce any kind of intellectual property. It's really the FIRST question you should ask before you even produce a product. IF you decide you'll be giving it away, THEN all of your marketing efforts will be completely different.


In Fred's ezine, he attached an article he had previously written about the seven deadly sins authors make. I'll post that article as well tomorrow.

Fred offers five free books to anyone who wants them. Check them out at

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

John Kremer's Free Q&A Teleseminar

The first sessions of my free monthly Q&A teleseminar were held on Wednesday, March 4th. During these sessions, I answered many questions including the most important things for a new book author to do in marketing his or her book, the value of giving away ebooks, how to use Clickbank and other such services, selling books to catalogs and book clubs, selling books as premiums, and much more. You can listen to these two sessions at the following URLs. You can also download the sessions as MP3s for listening on your iPod.

John Kremer's Free Q&A Teleseminar: March 4, 2008 Afternoon:

John Kremer's Free Q&A Teleseminar: March 4, 2008 Evening:

For access to other free audio downloads from John Kremer, check out:

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Homer's Plea to Celebrities

In an episode of The Simpsons, Homer Simpson made a plea that makes sense to me. He asked celebrities to "Sign an autograph or two. Support a charity for something that hasn't happened to a member of your family. Let one of us regular guys write a terrible children's book."

I think his requests are reasonable. The last one, of course, has the most relevance to book authors. It has to be frustrating to write great children's books and to have them rejected in favor of children's books by celebrities. It seems nowadays, every celebrity has a story inside themselves.

Of course, the same applies to celebrities that write cookbooks that steal central concepts and some recipes from hard-working authors. Alas.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Power of Telling Stories

The September issue of Wired magazine featured the work of psychologist Paul Slovic which reveals that we as humans will rush to help a single stranger in dire straits while ignoring the masses who are suffering the same plight.

In one study, Slovic showed a group a photo of a starving child in Mali named Rokia and asked the members of the group how much they would give to help feed her. He then showed another group a photo of two starving children (Rokia and Moussa) and asked them how much they would give. He found that those shown a group of children (two or more) were willing to give 15% LESS that those who were shown only one child.

In another study, he found that people asked to donate money to help a group of dying children gave 50% less than people who were asked to donate to help one child.

How does this apply to marketing books? Simple. If you want people to respond to your the causes in your book, tell stories. But focus the stories on one person. Don't generalize. We do not respond to generalizations the way we respond to the plight of one person.

If you want people to be worried about global warming, don't talk about global warming. Too big. Too hard to grasp. Too hard to figure out how to help. Tell the story of one lone polar bear cub who is losing its home as it melts around him. We will respond to that.

Don't exhort people to be good to their neighbors or, God forbid, to strangers. If you want them to act better, tell them the story of the Good Samaritan. Be specific.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Top 10 Telephone Tips to Make Your Radio Talk Shows Pay Off Handsomely

Here is a gift from Joe Sabah, author of How to Get On Radio Talk Shows All Across America Without Leaving Your Home or Office. You can find more valuable tips as well as 1,000 updated radio talk shows at Tell him John Kremer sent you.

1. Have a glass of water handy (room temperature). When your throat is lubricated it's easier to talk. Plus the water serves as a cough button if needed.

2. Stand while speaking. Pretend you're presenting a seminar. Your voice will carry further. And you'll sound more animated.

3. Have a copy of their state map on your wall. Refer to cities in the radio station's surrounding area. This helps make you feel like you are one of them. I once made the mistake of referring to South Bend as "South Bend, Indiana." The host reminded me that I was talking on a radio station in South Bend, Wisconsin. Oops!

4. Listen to their weather and traffic report. This allows you to personalize your presentation. For example: When I was being interviewed on WHIO in Dayton, Ohio I noticed during the breaks they were referring to their metro area as "the Miami Valley." So it became a natural for me to say "I believe we can help some folks in "the Miami Valley" get their perfect job this afternoon." What a difference the right words make.

5. Get your listeners involved. For example, before the last commercial break I ask them to get pencil and paper to write down the three tips I guarantee will turn every job interview into a job offer. Then they have pencil and paper ready when I later give out my 800 number.

6. For those who are driving around without writing tools handy, ask your host if the listeners can call the station for the 800 number. As soon as you're off the air, you call the station's receptionist and give her or him your 800 number plus the title of your book.

7. Give the host some quotes from your book to use as segues. I offer quotes like: "Are You Singing The Song You Came To Sing?" And "If You Do What You've Always Done, You'll Get What You've Always Gotten. Is That Enough?"

8. After the host uses these Inspirational Postcard Quotes on the air, I also offer them to listeners who order my book. Another bonus to increase orders.

9. Always thank both the host and the producer for the good job they are doing. After the show, also send each of them a handwritten note of thanks and an offer "Let's do it again."

10. You may also want to record your show by using a device available at most phone center stores, that will record both sides of the interview. Then listen to your show to see how you can improve the next one.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Paulo Coelho: 100 million sales and growing!

I am sharing this story from David Kirkpatrick's Fast Forward blog at because I do not know how to link to it, and it is too important to ignore. I wish Fortune made it easy to link to their articles.

Forget Radiohead. Brazilian author Paulo Coelho has been an apostle of free Internet distribution for years. He figures they sell more books this way.

In 1999, best-selling author Paulo Coelho, who wrote The Alchemist, was failing in Russia. That year he sold only about 1,000 books, and his Russian publisher dropped him. But after he found another, Coelho took a radical step. On his own Web site, launched in 1996, he posted a digital Russian copy of The Alchemist.

With no additional promotion, print sales picked up immediately. Within a year he sold 10,000 copies; the next year around 100,000. By 2002 he was selling a total of a million copies of multiple titles. Today, Coelho's sales in Russian are over 10 million and growing. "I'm convinced it was putting it up for free on the Internet that made the difference," he said in an interview at this year's World Economic Forum in Davos.

Coelho, whose fiction explores universal themes of spiritual aspiration and brotherhood in unpretentious language, has been a star of the Forum for 11 years. (For an account of Davos 2008 see this column.) Before this year's Davos, both Coelho and I attended a wonderful conference in Munich called Digital, Life, Design. Onstage there he told the surprising story of his embrace of free Internet distribution. In Davos I sat down with him to learn more.

Coelho explained why he thinks giving books away online leads to selling more copies in print: "It's very difficult to read a book on your computer. People start printing out their own copies. But if they like the book, after reading 30-40 pages they just go out and buy it."

Intrigued by his growing sales in Russia, Coelho used the Bittorrent site - a favorite for illicit distribution of media - to seek out and download online translations of his books as well as audio versions. By 2006 he was hosting an entire sub-site he called The Pirate Coelho, with links to books in many languages. While he did not play up his own role, he did quietly include a link on his official site.

"So you gather together all the stolen digital versions?" I asked him.

"You say steal?" he replied. "No. I think it's a way of sharing."

His agent, Monica Antunes, who joined in the interview, chimed in unashamedly, "We don't own the translation rights to all those editions."

By last year Coelho's total print sales worldwide surpassed 100 million books. "Once we did the Pirate Coelho there was a significant boost," he says.

For all this, he kept quiet with his many publishers in countries around the world. "Sharing" is typically not the word they use to describe such activities. Coelho says the publishers have periodically taken action to remove books from the Pirate Coelho. "They think it is against me. They don't know it is in my favor. They will know it after your article," he says.

"Publishing is in a kind of Jurassic age," Coelho continues. "Publishers see free downloads as threatening the sales of the book. But this should make them rethink their entire business model."

Now Coelho is a convert to the Internet way of doing things. His online e-mail newsletter, published since 2000, has 200,000 subscribers. In 2006 he started blogging. Last year he joined MySpace and Facebook to interact more actively with readers. "MySpace is an addiction," he says ruefully. He also makes available an extensive archive of rights-free photos on the Flickr photo-sharing site.

None of Coelho's books has ever been made into a movie. But now he is using the Internet to let his readers make one for him, based on his latest book, The "Witch of Portobello." It tells the story of its protagonist from the point of view of multiple people who knew her at various times in her peripatetic life. Now Coelho and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ, Fortune 500) have created a competition, inviting anyone worldwide to submit a segment as they envision it. Coelho plans to knit together 15 winners and release the film.

He spends about three hours online every day, interacting with readers who send him over 1,000 e-mails and messages daily. A fulltime staff of six helps manage his manifold Net activities, and the entire operation costs him $15,000 each month, which he pays out of his own pocket.

"I don't understand why publishers don't understand that this new medium is not killing books," Coelho says. "I'm doing it mostly because the joy of a writer is to be read. But at the end of the day, you will sell more books."


I've been recommending that authors give away their books online now for several years. Indeed, that's why I started up the following to websites:

All Books Free: (for novels, short stories, poems, and children's books)

Free Books for All: (for nonfiction books)

In a comment below, Paulo provide a link to his blog. Here is the live link so you can go there right away:

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Book Titles Are Important

How important is a title? Critical. Indeed, it is possible to sell a book based on the title alone. That's what Cindy and Alan Garner did with their self-published book, Everything Men Know about Women. The book was written under a pseudonym, Alan Francis, and is now published by Andrews McMeel.

Why do I know that the title alone sold the book? Because the book had nothing in it except 120 blank pages. Yet the book sold well over 2 million copies!

Friday, January 25, 2008

A Brilliant Novel Marketing Idea

I found the following story in Roland Hachmann's Web Jungle. It's a wonderful example of an entrepreneurial author:

Back in 1897, novelist W. Somerset Maugham, now best known as the author of Of Human Bondage, was having trouble selling his first novel Liza of Lambeth because his publisher wasn't interested in advertising the book. So he took matters into his own hands.

He placed classified ads in a few daily newspapers in London. The copy read: “Young millionaire, lover of sports, cultivated, with good taste of music and a patient and empathetic character wishes to marry any young and beautiful girl that resembles the heroine of W.S. Maugham’s new novel.”

By the end of the week, the first edition had sold out. The novel went on to get critical praise and many, many more sales.

Now, in today’s world, a classified newspaper ad like that won’t work because people don’t read the classifieds like they use to.

But the basic strategy of tying your book into your potential reader’s dreams and aspirations, that will always work. Maugham tapped into his potential reader’s desire for love (a universal perennial yearning that every romance novel taps into).

For more such success stories of debut novelists, see

Thursday, January 24, 2008

An Experiment in Blogging

I'm helping out one of the students in my New York Times Bestseller Program, Mark Joyner of

I'm evaluating a multi-media course on blogging from the folks at Simpleology. For a while, they're letting you snag it for free if you post about it on your blog.

It covers:

  • The best blogging techniques.

  • How to get traffic to your blog.

  • How to turn your blog into money.

I'll let you know what I think once I've had a chance to check it out. Meanwhile, go grab yours while it's still free.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Double Your Order Page Orders

If you want to almost double the number of orders on your website, here are two tips for doing so:

1. If you offer a free trial for any of your products, add this word to your description of the trial: Risk Free. Instead of saying a free 15-day trial, say: a Risk Free 15-day trial.

2. If you have a two-column listing of your products, change it to a single column. One publisher who did this got an 88% (almost double) higher conversion rate on orders by making just that one simple change.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Personalize Your Books

Random House has just partnered with SharedBook to give users a chance to create personalized versions of some of its books via its website. The first book to go live is the classic children's book The Poky Little Puppy.

For $25.00, people can add a custom dedication to the book and upload a photo to the front of the book. The book is then printed on demand as a laminated hardcover. An uncustomized version sells for $4.99 on Amazon. Consumers have to sign a user agreement stating that the customized book is for their own use and not for resale.

Personally, I think they could have done more to personalize the book. For example, allowing consumers to add their child's name into the text of the book.

This is the first time SharedBook has partnered with a book publisher. It has previously partnered with Yosemite National Park,, the Little League, JumpTV Sports, and other websites to allow consumers ways to make books using the content on their websites.

SharedBook CEO Caroline Vanderlip is talking to other publishers about making similar offers. Check out SharedBook's website to find out how you could offer the same kind of personalization on your website.

They offer an API interface so you could do it if you know anything about programming API interfaces. Note: I don't. Here's a link to their how-to info on implementing an API:

Below is one example of such an interface:

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Novels Via Cellphones

A New York Times article recently covered the phenomenon of Japanese novels being written and delivered via cellphones. While many thought it a novelty, the phenomenon has turned out to be the genesis of some of the bestselling novels in Japan for last year.

Love Sky by MikaIndeed, of last year's ten bestselling novels, five got their start as cellphone novels self-published by their authors and later picked up by a publisher and bought out as a printed book.

A debut novel Love Sky by Mika was read by 20 million people on their cellphones or on websites where the novels were hosted as well. When the novel was published in book form, it became the #1 selling novel in Japan for all of last year. In addition, the novel was made into a movie. Not bad for what was essentially a self-published novel.
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