Tuesday, December 28, 2010

An Example of a Great End-of-the-Year 2010 Tie-In News Release

I just received the following news release. It's a great end-of-the-year tie-in for 2010 news stories as the new year approaches. It's long, but provides everything a news media needs to do a great interview or news story. News media love end-of-the-year roundup stories or commentary:

The 2010 Execution Round-Up: Six Companies That Couldn't Get It Done This Year (and Two That Did)

No doubt about it: 2010 saw its share of losers (and the occasional winner) in the business arena. Business execution expert and president of OnPoint Consulting Rick Lepsinger analyzes a few of this year's headline makers and offers up the lessons that can be learned from each of them.

It's that time of year again: time for business owners and senior executives to take stock of the past twelve months. What did 2010 look like for you and your company? Did you struggle to regain your post-recession footing? Were employees engaged and focused? Are financials on track? The questions you could ask during your year-end assessment are endless. But according to Rick Lepsinger, there's only one that really matters: Did your company effectively execute its plans and initiatives?

"If an organization can't get things done, nothing else matters--not the smartest strategy, not the most innovative business model, not even game--changing technology," observes Lepsinger, president of OnPoint Consulting and author of
Closing the Execution Gap: How Great Leaders and Their Companies Get Results (Jossey-Bass, www.onpointconsultingllc.com). "And for many companies, there is a clear gap between intent and execution—we've seen plenty of evidence this year."

Lepsinger's assertion is backed by hard evidence. Recently, his company, OnPoint Consulting--which specializes in helping clients close the gap between strategy and execution and create a culture of getting things done--conducted a study of over 400 companies. They found that 49 percent of the leaders surveyed in the study reported a gap between their organization's ability to formulate and communicate a vision and strategy and its ability to deliver results.

This wasn't the surprising part, though. What really shocked Lepsinger and his team was that only 36 percent of leaders who thought their company had an execution gap had confidence in their organization's ability to close the gap between strategy and execution. That means a staggering 64 percent of leaders who saw an execution problem didn't believe their company could fix it.

Lepsinger's research uncovered five characteristics and competencies, which he calls The Five Bridges, that enable people to traverse this execution gap. It is these bridges that differentiate the companies that are consistently able to get things done from those that aren't. (Lepsinger calls the former Gap Closers and the latter Gap Makers--and he profiles some well-known examples of each in his book.)

Of course, time has marched on since Lepsinger's book was written, and plenty of other well-known companies have dropped the execution ball in the meantime (BP in the most spectacular fashion). To help the rest of us learn from what he calls the living laboratory of real-world companies, he presents the following lists—the first lamentably longer than the second!

OnPoint Consulting's 2010 Execution Gap Maker Round-Up...

Execution Gap Maker #1: BP (Need we say more?)

It's obvious from recent events that BP experienced an enormous execution gap. (More like a chasm, really.) Had the company focused on recognizing and closing that gap, it would have prevented this year's unprecedented disaster. Lepsinger says that while the oil spill is a complex and tragic event, the cause can be traced back to BP's failure to build the critical bridges described in his book Closing the Execution Gap.

Lepsinger notes that leading up to and after the oil spill BP violated almost all the guidelines of effective execution, including lacking an effective structure and lacking clear accountability. These gaps created another problem for them: In the critical stages following the spill, BP was unable to get input from those who had the knowledge and experience to make the best decisions about how to handle it.

What's more, BP failed to empower people to use their best judgment and take appropriate action. Consider that hours before the explosion the rig crew was arguing about the best way to finish the oil well and move the rig to the next site. A Transocean mechanic testified that he overheard a company man telling rig workers how it's going to be, and that although the rig workers felt the plan was too risky, they reluctantly agreed. And just after the explosion, as workers were scrambling for safety, a worker was yelled at by the captain (who worked for the rig's owner, Transocean) for pressing the distress button without authorization, and when another worker was asked if he had called to shore for help, he said he had not because he did not have permission to do so.

The BRIDGE that failed: Employee Involvement in Decision Making...among others.

THE LESSON: In order for any company to execute successfully, the right people have to be involved with the right decisions. BP provides a devastating example of what can happen when this isn't the case.

"Obviously, this lesson is even more critical when there is as much at stake as there was in the BP disaster," notes Lepsinger. "But really for any company trying to gain footing in a constantly changing business environment and tough economy, empowering the right people to make the right decisions can be the difference between landing that next great customer or account or not."

Execution Gap Maker #2: Nokia

Nokia's share of the worldwide market for mobile phones continued to slip in 2010. It may surprise you to learn that about five years before Apple introduced the iPhone and three years before it launched an online applications store, Nokia was ready to introduce its own Internet-ready touch screen handset with a large display and had an early design of an online applications store. So what happened? Why was this once-dominant player unable to execute and maintain its market position?

"It appears Nokia was not able to coordinate decisions and activities across departments or levels of management," says Lepsinger. "Many innovative ideas became the victims of in-fighting among managers who had competing objectives. Plus, as a result of a lack of cross-organizational coordination and cooperation, Nokia wasn't able to improve its proprietary operating system, Symbian, which would have allowed it to support a more sophisticated smartphone."

Execution Gap Makers #s 3 and 4: The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and the Agriculture Department

In August of this year, thousands of consumers became ill after eating eggs that were contaminated with salmonella. The discovery of the contamination resulted in over half a billion eggs being pulled from store shelves. How could something like this, and on this scale, have happened?

"Much of the blame has been attributed to poor federal oversight," says Lepsinger. "And the cause appears to be a significant lack of coordination across federal agencies. You see, the responsibility for food safety is split between two agencies: The Agriculture Department is responsible for chickens, the grading of eggs for quality, and regulating liquid eggs that are used in industrial food production. But the FDA oversees the safety of eggs still in their shells."

So who inspected the Iowa farms to make sure the eggs were safe for human consumption? "It turns out that no one did," observes Lepsinger. "It just fell through the cracks. The lack of coordination between these two agencies is one reason why so many consumer advocates believe we suffer from a dysfunctional food safety system."

The BRIDGE that failed for Gap Makers #2, 3, and 4: Company-Wide Coordination and Cooperation.

THE LESSON: It's critical that organizations learn to coordinate and collaborate decisions across organizational boundaries. But doing so requires more than faith and words alone.

"Shared goals and clearly defined roles provide the foundation upon which cooperation and coordination can be built," notes Lepsinger. "In addition, people must be held accountable for results. This requires a combination of direct leader behavior and systems that encourage and reinforce the appropriate behavior among employees."

Execution Gap Maker #5: Johnson & Johnson

It's been a bad year for J&J. Since 2009 McNeil Consumer Healthcare, the J&J division that makes over-the-counter drugs, has had eight recalls, including popular children's versions of Tylenol, Motrin, Benadryl, and Zyrtec. Most disturbingly was what has been called the phantom recall, in which contractors hired by J&J carried out a scheme to buy every package of Motrin by going store to store without informing the FDA.

"Poor execution doesn't happen overnight," states Lepsinger. "It can often be traced back to a pattern of behavior that gradually erodes a company's ability to deliver consistent high-quality results. At J&J it may go back to 2005 when employees reported a lack of alignment between manager behavior and company values and policies. When one million bottles of St. Joseph aspirin failed a quality test after a sample did not dissolve properly, quality workers who blocked the distribution of the bottles claimed their supervisor ordered them to retest the drugs and then average the scores to get a passing grade.

"Fortunately, there was not a problem with the batch that was released, but it appears that the misalignment of leader behavior with company values in this situation laid the foundation for poor execution, and a potentially dangerous situation, in the future," he adds.

The BRIDGE that failed: Alignment Between Leader Actions and Company Values and Priorities.

THE LESSON: Leader behavior must be aligned with company objectives and values. While Lepsinger admits this phrase has been said so often that it's become a cliché, he says companies can't afford to ignore it.

"You don't really understand how important value alignment is or the impact it has on effective execution until you see what happens when it's not there," says Lepsinger. "That's why stories like the Johnson & Johnson one are so important. They remind us not to take it for granted or assume it's a no-brainer."

Execution Gap Maker #6: Toyota

During 2010 Toyota recalled millions of cars due to a variety of defects. This was an extraordinary number for a company once recognized for the quality of its vehicles. What went wrong? It appears Toyota's decentralized structure, which served it well for many years, turned into a liability as the company continued to grow and dominate worldwide markets.

"For example, some of Toyota's former U.S. senior executives believe that keeping the U.S. operations separated in a functional structure—rather than reporting to a single headquarters—forced each to report back to Japan," says Lepsinger. "This required customer complaints to first make their way through the U.S. operation and then over to Japan where they were reviewed by a special committee—which would then have to communicate back to the U.S. All this had to happen before a recall could be issued."

The BRIDGE that failed: A Structure That Supports Execution.

THE LESSON: Make sure you have a structure that supports execution. Lepsinger notes that a good structure enhances accountability, coordination, and communication. Plus, it ensures that decisions are being made as close to the action as possible. Toyota's structure slowed down decision making and the company's ability to effectively respond to the recall crisis.

"The Toyota breakdown also illustrates that the five execution bridges are not permanent," notes Lepsinger. "In fact, they are quite fragile. Once you've built them, you must keep vigilant watch over them and work hard to maintain them over time. It's quite possible for a company to have a bridge in place one year, only to discover that over time it has weakened or even crumbled and is no longer able to help your people traverse the gap."

Execution Gap Closer #1: Netflix

Netflix received considerable media attention this year as it demonstrated its ability to successfully execute its strategy to provide video over the Internet. The company began streaming movies to TV-connected devices such as the Nintendo Wii, Microsoft Xbox 360, and a new Blu-ray Disc player, and the strategy is already showing signs of paying off. Although the ability to deliver streaming video has just recently become a reality, Netflix has been preparing to replace its original business model of delivering DVDs through the mail since the company was formed in 1997.

"The company's readiness for change is incredible," observes Lepsinger. "A decade before the technology was even a commercial reality, it recognized that the delivery of movies over the Internet would eventually replace mail. Even the name they chose for the company reflected this awareness. They named the company Netflix and not Mailflix, which would have been an easier concept to understand more than a decade ago."

Execution Gap Closer (Well...Maybe) #2: Barnes & Noble

Lepsinger would like to classify Barnes & Noble as a success, but it's just not clear yet whether the company really fits in that category. The move to electronic books has caused booksellers to take a close look at how they do business, but the jury is still out on whether Barnes & Noble's response to the dramatic changes in the publishing industry will be successful.

"Barnes & Noble appears to be doing a lot of the right things," says Lepsinger. "It developed the NOOK and has devoted significant space in its retail stores to display and promote it, and it has a broad online library. The big question is whether the company is fully committed to this change. Will it turn out like Netflix and successfully make the transition to a new method of delivery? Or will it end up more like Blockbuster, which has struggled to adapt to new technology and shift from bricks-and-mortar stores to an online-based business model?"

The BRIDGE that held for Gap Closers #1 and 2: The Ability to Manage Change.

THE LESSON: The ability to manage change is critical. Yet, despite all the effort and resources that have been devoted to helping them achieve this, managers and organizations still often get poor marks in this area. That said, yet another change management process or program is not the solution, emphasizes Lepsinger.

"Change is made one person at a time," he says. "And our research, as well as the research of others, indicates that successful change is connected more to the individual and collective mindsets of employees than any process. People change when they are ready—not just when they understand the need for change. The most successful companies facilitate change-readiness and don't just rely on making the business case to drive people's motivation to change."

Yes, as these stories illustrate, execution is the real bottom line and Lepsinger's constant battle cry. It's what he pushes his clients to focus on as they seek to improve organizational performance--and it's the lens he urges all leaders to look through as they review 2010 and make their business resolutions for 2011.

"Execution is not a single-point event," says Lepsinger. "It's an ongoing process. But since your ability to execute well and consistently is the very fabric of success, I can think of no better place to focus your time and energy."

# # #

About the Author:

Richard Lepsinger is author of Closing the Execution Gap: How Great Leaders and Their Companies Get Results (Jossey-Bass/A Wiley Imprint, June 2010, ISBN: 978-0-4705313-0-3, www.onpointconsultingllc.com). He is also president of OnPoint Consulting and has a 25-year track record of success as an organizational consultant and executive. His client list includes Bayer Pharmaceuticals, Citibank, Coca-Cola Company, ConocoPhillips, Goldman Sachs, Johnson & Johnson, NYSE Euronext, PeopleSoft, Prudential, and Subaru of America, among many others.

In addition to writing Closing the Execution Gap, he has coauthored four books on leadership, including Flexible Leadership: Creating Value by Balancing Multiple Challenges and Choices, The Art and Science of 360° Feedback, The Art and Science of Competency Models: Pinpointing Critical Success Factors in Organizations, and Virtual Team Success: A Practical Guide for Working and Leading from a Distance, all published by Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer. For more information, please visit http://www.onpointconsultingllc.com.

About the Book:

Closing the Execution Gap: How Great Leaders and Their Companies Get Results is available at bookstores nationwide and from major online booksellers.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Word of Mouth Helps Sell a New Memoir

Here is a success story from Jan Fishler, author of Searching for Jane, Finding Myself (An Adoption Memoir) - http://www.searchingforjane.com:

Of the various marketing techniques I’ve tried, word-of-mouth has been the most successful. I didn’t set out to employ this particular technique, it just happened.

About three months before my book's publication date, I started telling friends that I was writing a book. Pretty soon, the ones I saw most frequently began asking me how it was going. This prompted a mini-buzz.

A month later, I sent an email to my family and close friends letting them know that my memoir was coming out in June. I didn’t say what the memoir was about and of course, the curious wrote me back.

Over time I revealed the title, Searching for Jane, Finding Myself (An Adoption Memoir), and a few details... it’s about how it felt to be adopted… why I searched… what I found.

Before the book was available online, I sent the manuscript to my most connected friends, asking them for feedback. About a month before the publication date, I posted the book cover on Facebook, and asked the friends who had previewed the book to comment about it. By the time the book was on my website, I’d created quite a buzz. Book sales that first month were far better than I ever expected.

My family members couldn’t wait to find out what I’d said about them. My friends—especially people who knew me in high school (forty years ago)—became my biggest fans.

I’ve been actively marketing the book for the past four months. Initially, I thought my target market would be limited to people who have been touched by adoption, but I’ve discovered that the book has a much broader reach. Whenever anyone asks me what they can do to help me get the word out, I tell them to please recommend it to a friend.

-- Jan Fishler has joined the nationwide effort to create fair and compassionate adoption standards and is working to inspire the reform of antiquated state laws. For 20 years, Jan was a corporate scriptwriter, video producer, and a marketing and public relations consultant. She produced the DVD writing series, “The Path to Publication,” distributed by Films for the Humanities and Sciences, and is the co-author of a series of articles on post traumatic stress disorder published by VietNow National magazine.

Searching for Jane, Finding Myself is her first book. Order copies from Tin Cat Media at http://www.searchingforjane.com for $12.95.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Future of Publishing - A Very Clever Simple Video

The following video was prepared by Dorling Kindersley Books for a sales conference. It was such a hit internally that it was shared via YouTube. In 9 months, it's had over 645,000 views. Be sure to watch the first two minutes. There's a neat surprise in the middle.

Again, this is a video that would be easy to recreate for any idea, book, website, or product. It would be very easy to create the video, a little harder to write something as clever as the script for this video.

Cool Book Trailer: Incredibly Easy to Duplicate for Any Book

Now here's a cool book trailer, that's not a trailer. It's for Jennifer Belle's novel The Seven Year Bitch. I bet this video has received more than the 69 or fewer views Belle's seven official book trailers received (http://www.youtube.com/user/1156ruby).

You can easily create a similar book trailer for your book. Why not do it today? If you do, let me know.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

You Know Your Query Letter Sucks When You Write: Dear Agent

This blog post is courtesy of Jeff Rivera, founder of HowtoWriteaQueryLetter.com.

First impressions are so important to a literary agent, especially when they receive hundreds of query letters a day. They're on auto-pilot and can click delete faster than you can blink an eye. You've got to grab them and you've got to be cautious not to give them any reason to click delete.

I still can't believe I have to even mention this because to most, it seems so obvious but you'd be surprised how many query letters I see that have this fatal mistake: "Dear Agent" or, worse yet, "To whom it may concern..."

Um, hello! Would you be interested in reading a letter that didn't address you by your name. It's bad enough to get those spam emails we get using our full legal name but how much worse when they say "Dear Friend" or something even more impersonal.

Literary agents are people first, and agents second. Treat them like a human being and they'll treat you like a human being.

Yes, they know you're querying other agents. They're not stupid, but they don't want to hear about it. It's like when you're first dating someone. You know you're not exclusive yet but you don't want to hear them talk about the passionate hot steamy sex they had with someone else the night before. No, and the same goes for an agent. They want to be treated as special.

If you can make your query letter as personalized as possible, starting with using their name (not "Dear Agent") you'll be that much closer to landing an agent.

Remember, you only have one shot with these agents, so make sure your query letter is as solid as possible. If you need help writing a winning query letter, email John@GumboWriters.com and we'll help you. 100% of the query letters we've ghost-written have received requests from at least 10 top agents to read the manuscripts or proposals.

Jeff Rivera is the founder of http://www.HowtoWriteaQueryLetter.com. He and his works have been featured or mentioned in Publishers Weekly, GalleyCat, MediaBistro, Los Angeles Times, New York Observer, NPR, and many other media outlets.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

How to Land a Literary Agent: First Get a Platform

The following guest blog post is written by Jeff Rivera, founder of HowtoWriteaQueryLetter.com.

Your voice must be heard. There is no greater way to do this than to write a book. If you've ever given any thought to seriously landing an agent or being published, I'd like to offer a few tips that will speed up the process.

First, let me explain, I'm a book publishing executive who writes regularly for the #1 online trade magazine for the media & publishing called Mediabistro. I also write for GalleyCat, Huffington Post, and other key sites. I've interviewed everyone from major agents and editors to bestselling authors like James Patterson, Janet Evanovich, and Nicholas Sparks. I also do something else, I help connect writers with literary agents.

Publishing has changed so dramatically in the last few years that getting published isn't more difficult, it's more challenging. There's a difference and that difference must begin first with a shift in your mindset. Once you know what literary agents want, it's rather easy to land an agent.

Let's move beyond the fact that you need to write a great manuscript, because you already know that but did you know there's something else more important to an agent than ever before? Your platform. That is your built-in fanbase of readers poised and ready to purchase your book. Demonstrate you have this with at least 5,000 readers and you can land an agent quicker than you ever dreamed possible.

How do you do this? First understand, there's a difference between having 10,000 Twitter followers and having a platform. Anyone can get Twitter followers. You can even pay people to add them for you. That's not a platform.

I don't know about you but I don't tweet that often and I definitely don't read everything every person I follow tweets every day. I am not necessarily a dedicated fan of theirs. If I see their tweet, then I see their tweet. If I don't, then I don't.

As my friend, former Simon & Schuster editor Marcela Landres says in her ebook, How Editors Think, "It's not who you know, it's who knows you." Think about that difference.

The following are a few examples of legitimate platforms that will have literary agents licking their chops:

1) An opt-in mailing list of people who read your information regularly
2) If you are regularly on television
3) If you have a web series with at least 10,000 views each episode
4) If you are a public speaker
5) If you are a journalist with a column of loyal readers
6) If you have a regular broadcast radio show, podcast, or internet radio show with a significant audience
7) If you've self-published a number of books before and sold at least 5,000 copies of each
8) If you have a website with thousands of unique visitors each day
9) If you're the president of a large association or charity
10) If you're a celebrity already in another industry

There are a number of other examples of platforms you can view by visiting HowtoWriteaQueryLetter.com. You'll also see over 60 examples of query letters we ghost wrote that successfully garnered requests from top agents to read our clients' manuscripts.

Remember, you only have one shot with these agents, so make sure your query letter is as solid as possible. If you need help writing a winning query letter, email John@GumboWriters.com and we'll help you. 100% of the query letters we've ghost-written have received requests from at least 10 top agents to read the manuscripts or proposals.

Jeff Rivera is the founder of http://www.HowtoWriteaQueryLetter.com. He and his works have been featured or mentioned in Publishers Weekly, GalleyCat, Mediabistro, Los Angeles Times, New York Observer, NPR and many other media outlets.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

A Book Trailer That Sells - Tim Ferriss' 4-Hour Body

Here's a great book trailer (could be greater), but it should be effective as is to help Tim Ferriss sell his new book, The 4-Hour Body.

Short, dynamic. Good link to http://www.fourhourbody.com (with time enough to write it down)

Does it convince you to look further?

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Best Time of Year to Query Literary Agents

The Best Time of Year to Query Literary Agents by Jeff Rivera, founder of HowtoWriteaQueryLetter.com

As any book publishing professional will tell you, now is the time when the industry goes on hiatus. But guess what? This is one of the best times of the year to pitch agents. Why? Because agents may slow down during the hiatus period but they cannot help but sneak a peak at their email.

I know because I deal with literally hundreds of literary agencies every year.

They're constantly searching for the next hot thing to represent. And if it's sent to them now, they will have enough time to spit polish it before the industry starts back up again in January.

What's so special about January? Editors come back from the holidays with a fresh new perspective. They're also loaded up with their expense accounts all over again so they'll be ready to rock n' roll when they use those accounts to lunch with your new agent.

Expense accounts are often on a "use it or lose it" basis. If the editor didn't use all their lunch money last year, they'll receive an even less amount this year. It's also around the time when editors and editorial directors have set or are about to set their editorial schedules. So, what better time to submit to agents!

If you have something solid and ready, get your query letter together. And it better be good because you only have one shot with these agents. What are agents looking for right now more than ever?

1) Middle grade - If you've written the next Diary of a Wimpy Kid, especially a funny book for boys now's the time to pitch it.

2) Young Adult fiction - Hot, Hot, Hot! If you have a YA book, nothing's hotter in the industry. It's the one genre that has not dipped in sales tremendously. In fact, agencies are adding more agents to their rosters, specifically looking for this genre. More agents means more opportunities for you.

3) Graphic novels - If you're an author who has had a difficult time selling your novel, think about adapting it as a graphic novel. The great thing is, you don't have to be able to draw. Simply align yourself with a great artist. Create a 5-page sample of your work, a detailed summary and presto! That's all you need. 100% of the clients we've done this for have gotten agents.

4) Celebrity Memoirs - If you've got connections to celebrities, even D-List Reality TV star celebrities, this is a sure bet. Submit a solid book proposal co-written or ghost written by you and your hot celebrity and two things will happen: 1) The sun will rise tomorrow 2) An agent will request to read your proposal.

5) High Platform Nonfiction - If you have a huge opt-in mailing list, are the president of a large charity or organization, own your own PR firm, or have strong media connections, now's the time to write a book. Remember, if it's a nonfiction book, you only need write a book proposal, not the entire manuscript. With a strong platform, you'll have agents chasing after you instead of the other way around. 100% of the clients we created book proposals for have landed agents and damn good ones within a week or two.

Remember, you only have one shot with these agents, so make sure your query letter is as solid as possible. If you need help writing a winning query letter, email John@GumboWriters.com and we'll help you. 100% of the query letters we've ghost-written have received requests from at least 10 top agents to read the manuscripts or proposals.

-- Jeff Rivera, author of Forever My Lady (on Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000QRIGYE/bookmarketingupd

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

You Know Your Query Letter Sucks When You CC It to a Dozen Agents at the Same Time

I wanted to vomit when I saw this. It was just so sad to see a perfectly skilled writer ruin their chances of landing an agent. They actually CC'd the same query letter to a bunch of agents all at the same time.

Now, come on now! Seriously. Don't you hate it when you get those FWD's and chain letters warning you that you'll have 500 years of bad luck and eternal damnation if you don't forward their email to 3000 of your closest friends?

It's the same way with agents. They know you're simultaneously querying other agents but why rub it in their face? It's not necessary.

You need to make each query letter unique and make the agent feel that you understand exactly what their needs and desires are when receiving submissions. You can see some great examples of personalized queries here: http://tinyurl.com/25t2mkj.

Yes, they know you're querying other agents. They're not stupid, but they don't want to hear about it. It's kind of like when you're first dating someone. You know you're not exclusive yet but you don't want to hear them talk about the passionate hot steamy sex they had with someone else the night before. No, and the same goes for an agent. They want to be treated as special.

If you send a bulk email out to them and 30 other agents, no one is going to respond to you other than to ask you to take them off the list. That's not what you want.

Write a unique query letter tailored for each potential agent and you'll be one step closer to landing an agent. If you would like to see an example of query letters that worked, visit: http://www.HowtoWriteaQueryLetter.com.

Remember, you only have one shot with these agents, so make sure your query letter is as solid as possible. If you need help writing a winning query letter, email John@GumboWriters.com and we'll help you. 100% of the query letters we've ghost-written have received requests from at least 10 top agents to read the manuscripts or proposals.

Jeff Rivera is the founder of HowtoWriteaQueryLetter.com. He and his works have been featured or mentioned in Publishers Weekly, GalleyCat, Mediabistro, Los Angeles Times, New York Observer, NPR and many other media outlets.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Another Debut Novel Success Story

Johanna Skibsrud's debut novel The Sentimentalists has just won Canada's most prestigious fiction award, the $50,000 Scotiabank Giller Prize for 2010. Her publisher Gaspereau Press, because of its commitment to artisanal quality, will have a hard time keeping up with demand. And, as most book publishers, Gaspereau will enjoy having that problem.

For more stories of successful debut novelists, see http://www.bookmarket.com/debutnovels.htm.

Another Viral T-Mobile YouTube Video

The following video has had 2.5 million views in two weeks. No instruments were used or harmed in the making of this video:

Monday, November 08, 2010

Is This Short Enough? - Book Blurbs and Elevator Speeches

One of the people I met at the recent 21st Century Book Marketing Conference was Beth Green, author of Memoirs of the New Age. As an author who feels the need to promote her book but finds it very time-consuming, she found the conference a little frustrating (because it was overwhelming).

In response, she blogged about her effort to create a 30-second pitch (http://www.bethsplace.org/?p=572). Here is her first pitch attempt:

Hi. I’m Beth Green, and I’m a spiritual teacher. I’ve written a book called ‘Memoirs of the New Age,’ and it’s a magical book of fables, poems, prayers and stories, which bring you into a world of special charm.

As she noted in her blog, the above pitch doesn't solve a problem. So she tried again:

Do you wake up every morning wondering if your relationship with your Higher Power is authentic? Do you have hidden resentments toward God? If you do, read ‘Memoirs of the New Age,’ a book of fables, poems, prayers and stories, which illuminate the way we are and bring us through our anguish and anger, until we achieve reconciliation with the divine.

Then, of course, she heard people saying you can't talk about God in today's world. So she rewrote the pitch as follows:

Hi, I’m Beth Green. Do you wake up every morning wondering if your relationship with your Higher Power is authentic? Do you have hidden resentments toward divine consciousness?

Well, I like the pitch with God in it, but I'd make it shorter. Here's my pitch for her:

Do you wake up every morning wondering if your relationship with your Higher Power is authentic? Do you have hidden resentments toward God? If you do, read ‘Memoirs of the New Age.’ It will change your relationship with God.

At the end of her blog post, she featured a prayer from her book. I liked it. I thought it summarized her book very well: God - Let's be friends. Amen.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Blog Challenges: A Way to Connect with More People Online

Here is a recent post by D'vorah Lansky, a new member of The Book Marketing Network, where she describes what's working for her:

What is working really well for me is participating in blog challenges. Typically they are 30-days long and require that you blog at least 30 times during the 30 days.

Participants of the blog challenge help one another by tweeting and retweeting with a link to your blog post.

I'm currently participating in my fourth blog challenge in six months. My twitter followers have doubled (current at 2324), my subscribers have quintupled and the number of people who retweet my comments seems to grow weekly.

My connections and friendships have grown through my participation and my business is growing due to being seen on the social networks by more people and being introduced to movers and shakers in my industry.

D'vorah Lansky - http://Twitter.com/marketingwizard

Visit The Book Marketing Network

Friday, October 15, 2010

8 Websites to Promote Your Next Booksigning or Author Event

The following guest post is from Joan Stewart, The Publicity Hound:

The next time you're promoting a booksigning, teleseminar, book club, meet-the-author reception, or any other live or virtual event, don't promote it only on your Facebook fan page and write a few tweets, and then expect crowds to beat down the doors.

Authors and publishers should be using high-traffic sites that accept calendar listings, articles and photos, in addition to much smaller niche sites that can help you target people who are passionate about a particular topic.

Mix in social media sites where news about your event can really go viral, and you have a great chance to draw huge crowds.

Consider using these eight websites the next time you need to promote:

AuthorsandExperts.com - This fee-based site provides a way for members of the media or organizations interested in your area of expertise to find you. But anyone can post free listings to the event calendar.

GarysGuide.org - This is one of the top business event calendars in the world. It covers technology, media, finance, healthcare, legal, biotech, cleantech and other events like conferences, un-conferences, forums, workshops, seminars, Meetups, Tweetups, mixers, parties and more in 40 cities in the U.S. and more than 35 cities internationally.

The audience is a highly targeted mix of influencers and connectors including C-level executives, managers, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, investors, marketing/PR pros, technologists, analysts, bloggers and others.

The Chicago Council on Science and Technology listed a members-only reception, presentation and booksigning with Rebecca Skloot, author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Lacks was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells — taken without her knowledge — became one of the most important tools in medicine.

MeetUp.com - Use this online social networking portal to draw people to a wide variety of offline events such as booksignings, readings, author receptions, book clubs, writing classes, or anything else you’re hosting.

It’s also a great place to find people in niche markets. Let’s say you’ve written a book about Chihuahuas and you want to meet owners of that breed. I used the search box and found three MeetUp groups for Chihuahua owners. If they’re in your city, you can join them. Or start your own Meetup group for people who care passionately about the topic of your book: http://www.meetup.com/create.

TweetUps - Host a Tweetup for your next book signing like hundreds of other authors do. A Tweetup is a chance for Twitter fans to meet offline to share information with each other about a particular hobby, interest or activity. Tweetups don’t even have to be well-organized events. You can host a Tweetup at a local coffee shop, for example, to discuss your book.

Use Twtvite.com to promote it. Learn more about how to host Tweetups here: http://www.mytechopinion.com/2009/09/10-reasons-to-tweetup-10-tips-for-success.html.

Craigslist - This high-traffic site has more than 20 billion page views per month. The Community category includes four sub-categories authors might consider: activities, events, classes and politics. It also has more than 100 discussion forums devoted to niche topics. You can post only to the city closest to you, and only to only one category or sub-category.

Craigslist has sparked controversy many times over the last several years. But it's still one of the best websites where you'll find millions of people who are looking for something to do in their own cities and neighborhoods.

Flickr.com - Flickr makes it easy to share photos or videos. Authors can use this several ways. If you own all the rights to your book’s content, you can upload photos from your book to Flickr and include information about an upcoming event, like a booksigning. You can also share photos or videos of the booksigning afterward.

Yelp.com - Yelp is an online urban guide that helps people find cool places to eat, shop, drink, relax and play, based on the informed opinions of a vibrant and active community of locals in the know. It lets you talk about what’s great and not so great in your world. Started in San Francisco, Yelp is now throughout the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland and France.

You can search by topic, location, city, zip and neighborhood. Post your event, and encourage people who attend it to review it on Yelp.

Going.com - This site is for people who love to go out. It’s great for nightlife events and also includes categories for culture, activities, neighborhoods, and networking. Be sure to upload a photo. You can even track and print guest lists, sell tickets, and email your list. There’s a Recession Busters designation for events that are cheap or free.

I’ll share 40 more websites during the webinar on October 19 on 50+ Places Online to Promote Your Live & Virtual Events to Reach Your Target Market & Pull Sell-out Crowds. Register here: http://www.publicityhound.com/publicity-products/marketing-tapes/promotevents.htm.

What other websites do you use as a tool for promoting events or attractions?

-- Publicity expert Joan Stewart, a speaker, trainer, and consultant, specializes in how to dovetail traditional and social media to promote any product, service, cause, or issue. She lives (and tries to stay warm) in Port Washington, Wis. She blogs at PublicityHound.net.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

How to Write a Query Letter That Genre Agents Want Now

This is a guest post form Jeff Rivera . . .

Everyday I'm on the phone with top agencies and literary agents that would have most writers salivating. They tell me on the down-low exactly what they're looking for in a writer and some of the inside secrets in getting them, to sign you. I thought I might share with you a few of the genres that they are dying for right now:

1) Middle Grade - If you write middle grade fiction and have a unique funny voice, agents will be ringing down your phone. Especially, if you write books for boys 9 -11 that are funny, funny, funny. "Stay away from bathroom humor," one agent who just sold a 3-book deal for her client said, "but let's face it, some of the biggest selling boy books are full of farts, snot, and talking butts" (literally).

2) YA (Young Adult fiction) - Beyond just the Twlight books, YA fiction is one of the biggest selling genres right now in books. In fact, although most book sales have gone down, this genre has gone up. If you have a background in education, or are a camp counselor, babysitter, parent, aunt, or uncle of a teen, definitely mention this in your query letter. Edgy, edgy, edgy - that's what they're looking for. Don't be afraid to have sex scenes or violence or curse words. And if you write clean cut Christian fiction, don't be afraid to mention that too. There's definitely a call for that as well. Don't talk down to teens talk up and keep your protagonist between 15 -21 years old if you can.

3) Graphic Novels
 - Oh, my God. If you want to light a fire and get a huge reaction from agents then tell them you have a graphic novel or better yet a graphic memoir. They're dying for them. You only need a 5-page sample of your art work and a full summary. So, even if you can't draw, you can team up with an artist. We can help you with that by the way at: http://www.GumboWriters.com. One tip: Try to stay away from comic book style art and do more of a style in the vein of Stitches by David Small or the Pulitzer Prize-winning Mause if you can.

4) High Platform Nonfiction Books - Platform is king, not content. One agent who just sold a book deal last week for over a half million dollars told me that editors are looking for one thing only, platform. Who cares if you can write? They can always hire a co-writer or ghostwriter to write with or for you.

If you have a huge platform, mention it in your first paragraph. I would say in your first sentence, literally. I did this for one client a week ago and he had over 30 agents that responded to his query letter in less than 24 hours. As you know, a platform is a built-in fan base. It's guaranteed buyers (not potential ones) that are poised and ready to by it. One big wig publisher at a Harper Collins imprint told me a few days ago that saying you can get a lot media coverage isn't going to cut it nowadays. It helps to have pre-buys and bring those to the table. Exactly how many? And what can you do if you think you don't have a platform? Well, if you want to know more about how to do that, stay tuned and we'll go into more of that next time.

For more tips visit my new site: http://www.HowtoWriteaQueryLetter.com

And by the way, we're having a special for our query letter service from today to Monday, October 18th. 1/2 off, yes that's 50% off our normal price but only until this Monday then it goes up to its normal price. We guarantee we'll get at least 10 top agents to request to read your manuscript or proposal or double your money back.

- Jeff Rivera of GumboWriters.com

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Writing Articles to Sell More Books

Below is another success story, as told by Stefania Lucchetti, on how she gets more attention for herself and her books:

One of the most successful techniques I have used to market my book has been to write and submit articles for various blogs and websites. I have used Steve Harrison's Reporter Connection (free service) and PR Newswire (paid service) to receive requests from bloggers and website owners requesting content for their website and regularly submitted article proposals.

I also regularly write for Technorati. The articles never need to be particularly long, though they do need to be interesting. All my articles have been published and they have helped me gain a lot of exposure and regular new subscribers to my newsletter. Also, writing articles has helped me expand and develop content which I have then used in my speaking engagements.

- Stefania Lucchetti (http://www.stefanialucchetti.com) is the author of The Principle of Relevance (how many emails do you receive on any day? Are you overwhelmed by information overload? My book teaches you how to train yourself to process digital information more effectively so that it becomes a tool of empowerment rather than a form of distraction). Stefania also regularly speaks for Fortune 500 companies on time management, leadership, and making ideas happen.

Partner with Associations to Sell Your Books

Here is another success story from a small publisher on how they sell more books:

Fehrman Books is a new independent publisher of design, fiction, and animal welfare titles. We just published our first book for children, ages 8-12: The Corpse that Wasn’t There by Gayle Nastasi. It's a mystery involving a young girl and her psychic Saluki hound who solve crimes. The Corpse that Wasn’t There takes place at a dog show and while the girl, her dog and friends are solving the crime, young readers are also learning about the sport of dog showing with an extensive glossary of terms provided.

To publicize this book, we have a web page at http://www.FehrmanBooks.com as well as a Facebook and Twitter page under the name of Fehrman Books, but we have also established some unique promotion lines for the novel.

Since The Corpse that Wasn’t There is the first in the Junior Handler Mystery Series which will continue to be involved with dogs and dog shows. We partnered with STOLA, Saluki Tree of Life Alliance, the national Saluki hound rescue charity. We will be donating a portion of profits to STOLA for their rescue programs. In turn, they will help us promote the book to the Saluki community. We are also negotiating with the American Kennel Club and a number of dog magazines to make their populations aware of the book. Also, because the book has an educational component, it is being well received by the schools and libraries we are contacting.

The Corpse that Wasn’t There is available as an e-book at Smashwords.com and as print and Kindle books at Amazon.com and FehrmanBooks.com. - Cherie Fehrman, publisher. Email: fehrmanbooks@earthlink.net.

Word of Mouth Sells Books

Here is another story, told by Michael John McCann, on how he sells his PurpleUmpkin children's book:

The best way that I have sold books so far is really word of mouth, readers recommending my book to other readers.

PurpleUmpkin is a children's book about kindness, tolerance, love, and understanding. A book that gets children and parents to interact with each other, PurpleUmpkin is about having fun with words. Lots of fun. What works is that the book gets people to interact with each other. For more about the book, see http://www.purpleumpkin.com.

Early childhood educators think the book is great especially with its colors and rhyming words. All reviews have been 5 stars.

I am known as the Mayor of PurpleUmpkin. - Michael John McCann, author. Email: support@purpleumpkin.com.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Creating a Series of Short Videos to Promote a Book

Below is a story from Andrew Cort telling how he has had some success selling his books. His books sound interesting, as does his story about the videos he created. Check them out.

My books are about the inner meaning of the symbols, images and metaphors that are found within mythology and scripture. One of the most misunderstood features of the Bible is the position of the Feminine. It is generally believed that the Bible is sexist and women are treated as second-rate. This is apparently true when the stories are taken literally, as if they were merely accounts of history or lessons about morality. But when the symbology is understood it turns out that the stories are saying something quite different and quite wonderful.

This past summer, I produced a series of short (about 3 minutes apiece) videos in which I discuss the inner meaning of the stories of Eve, Sarah, Rachel, Rahab, the Samaritan woman, the Virgin, Mary Magdalene, and other fascinating women in the Bible. The videos are available on Youtube and on my website (http://www.andrewcort.com). They have been watched by quite a few people so far, which has brought traffic to my website and sold a few books. I of course hope that many more people will watch them in the future.

My current books include Love, Wisdom, and God: The Longing of the Western Soul and The American Psyche in Search of its Soul. In early 2011, my major work will be published: The Purpose of Religion: Enlightenment, Meaning and Love in Jewish, Christian and Islamic Symbology. (One of the things my books make clear is that the real underlying purpose of all our great traditions is always the same: the enlightenment of the human soul. When this is understood, the justification for religious hatred and war disappears.) - Andrew Cort; Email: andrew@andrewcort.com

Author Success Story: An author's persistence despite obstables

Here's another author success story based on her persistence despite some key obstacles:

Struggling to fund the printing and publishing of my book left little to nothing to market it and regardless of what people tell you, you need money to make money. If these factors were not disadvantageous enough, I was non-ambulatory, bed bound and homeless. I had a great and marketable book, so I turned to the Internet and set up shop with a website and the whole nine yards (without the bells and whistles).

The website (http://www.dorothybarron.com) appeared to and did work when I tested it, but I begin getting calls from people whom I had called about my book, Slinging Stones when United States Congress has lost control and American Courts are out of control. Unfortunately, these individuals had tried but could not purchase the book from my website order page.

Even though physically limited, I began calling practically everyone I knew and whose phone numbers I could get my hands on. It became dangerous for anyone to come within my sphere, be it friend or stranger, because they did not leave until they had purchased a book.

You see, I gave everyone at least one valid reason to read my book. I may not have had a functioning website, but interested individuals could go there and at least view a picture of the book after I had given them a verbal introduction. The most effective and successful way of marketing and selling my book was through word of mouth - from me. - Dorothy Barron, author. Email: barron.dorothy@yahoo.com.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

How Cookbook Authors Can Do a Great Cooking Segment on TV

This article is courtesy of Scott Lorenz of Westwind Communications ...

Authors of cookbooks have an advantage over traditional authors because they can employ a TV appearance to increase book sales. One of the best ways for cookbook authors to get this extra exposure is to demonstrate their capabilities by showcasing recipes and talent on an in-studio cooking segment on television.

A lot of things can go wrong on a live in-studio cooking demo. Here are some tips to insure that your cooking segment is great.

Most importantly, find out how much time you have to work with. There’s a big difference between a 2½ minute segment and 3½ minutes. My advice is to plan on a 2½ minute segment. Ask yourself what can you do in that time period and plan accordingly. Anticipate and have strategies to deal with interruptions. Practice by setting up a camera in your kitchen so you can film and time your process.

Don’t do a lot of talking during the segment. You are there to demonstrate how to prepare a certain dish and that’s what your audience and host expects of you. So keep the words down.

Remember that there are three groups that you need to satisfy – the producer, the audience, and yourself. The producers are looking for interesting/compelling television; your job is to make them look great. The audience wants to learn something. What’s their takeaway? What will you do to make their lives better? Among your goals is to point people to your website. A great way is to offer a free item like a recipe or appetizer in your restaurant. Once they sign up for the free item, use their email address for future marketing.

It’s very important to find out in advance about the capabilities of the studio kitchen. Some studio kitchens look good on TV but the stove may not even be hooked up! Come with a prepared cooked version of your dish that can be displayed ahead of time and have another ready for the demonstration.

It’s always a good idea to bring some extra samples for the crew. I’ve never see them turn down food! Outdoor segments, such as barbecuing, really go well in the summer because that’s what audience members do in the summer. For the fall, a tailgate segment is great.

Here are some practical tips for that great cooking segment:
  • The camera loves food that sizzles, bubbles, and flames. Keep that in mind when selecting the dish you will prepare. Can your dish be prepared and plated in the allotted time? Pre-cook the dish halfway if necessary to meet the time limit.
  • If there are promotional screen graphics provide the producer with the information several days before the shoot.
  • Make a packing list of all the gear you need to cook off premise. Double-check your list and pack efficiently. Arrive at the studio 45 minutes before air time. Bring a cart to transport your gear and ingredients from the car to the studio quickly and efficiently.
  • Digital TV cameras can be unforgiving so bring some make-up to apply in the studio.
  • The camera loves color so bring some colorful ingredients as well as a seasonal table decoration.
  • Upon first arriving at the cooking set, check all burners to make sure they work.
  • Be set up 15 minutes before air time. Walk in front of the cooking table and scan what the camera will record. Is the tablecloth on straight? Are all ingredient labels faced outward?
  • Are the ingredients balanced in uniform fashion?
  • Provide the host with a list of suggested questions. This will help the host stay focused and on track and will help prevent any ringers from being thrown your way.
  • Always refer to the host by name. Make direct eye contact and smile.
  • Go with the flow. Some hosts will ask distracting, non-relevant questions so have a plan to deal with that possibility.
For many of my clients, I suggest they use a professional media trainer to better prepare them for the television or radio appearance. One trainer I frequently recommend is Jess Todtfeld, former FOX News producer and President of Success in Media (www.SuccessInMedia.com) Among the suggestions Todtfeld gives to help deliver a great cooking segment are:
  • Don’t expect the studio to have a stylist for you. You must take the necessary steps beforehand so you look as beautiful as you are and so your segment is great from beginning to end.
  • Bring all the ingredients, tools for preparing, and a finished version of your dish. Don’t expect to really cook it during the segment.
  • Bring extra finished food for the crew. The quickest way to their hearts is through their stomachs. It will be worth every penny in materials when they decide to book you again.
  • Have your entire segment planned out from A to Z to make the producer’s life easy. That, in turn, will make him love you and book you again.
  • It’s not all about the food. Be fun. Show your personality.
  • Give a copy of the recipe and let them know they can place it on the station’s website.
  • Days before the segment ask if they can prepare a “for more information” graphic for the lower third of the screen that will display your website address so people can find you after the show. It’s a pretty standard practice but if you don't ask they might forget.
  • Have something free on your website to plug, such as your five most requested low-cal recipes or a chapter of your book. Be sure you are able to monetize the value of your free gift.
  • Make sure all the vegetables and cuts of meat are fresh and will appear appetizing. Place them in clear glass dishes along with pre-measured spices. There’s only so much you can prep ahead of time; some things need to be done in the studio.
  • With HD cameras viewers can see everything from water spots on your glass ware to fingernails in need of a manicure and a five o’clock shadow. What may be acceptable in your kitchen may not play well on TV so be keenly aware of your appearance.
A great cooking segment will produce hundreds if not thousands of new diners, book sales and recipe downloads. It’s all possible with planning, preparation and effort. Your success will be assured if you engage the services of a professional media trainer and marketing professional and practice your demo again and again.

Just for fun, if you’d like to see how a lack of preparation can lead to disaster then you’ll want to see these videos I’ve uncovered. The first disaster occurs because the chef did not anticipate that the two co-hosts, Kathie Lee and Hoda, would do a lot of distracting talking while he was trying to prepare food and he had no strategy to deal with the distraction. Take a look:

In the second video things go totally awry because Paula Dean does not take charge and gives a free hand to Al Roker and creates a massive time crunch for herself. Get ready to laugh at:

The bottom line: Great food and a great cooking segment on TV is no accident; it’s all in the preparation. Good luck!


Scott Lorenz is President of Westwind Communications, a public relations and marketing firm that has a special knack for working with individuals and entrepreneurs to help them get all the publicity they deserve and more. Lorenz has handled public relations and marketing for numerous authors, doctors, lawyers, inventors and entrepreneurs. Lorenz grew up in a family hotel and restaurant business and has a degree in Hotel Administration from UNLV.

Learn more about Westwind Communications’ book marketing approach at http://www.westwindcos.com/book or contact Lorenz at scottlorenz@westwindcos.com or by phone at 734-667-2090. Follow Lorenz on Twitter @aBookPublicist.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Long Tail in Writing and Marketing of Your Books

The following guest post is by Daniel Hall of RealFastBook.com

I want to start by telling you about a book I’ve been reading. The name of the book is the New York Times bestseller, The Long Tail by Chris Anderson.

I have scanned and read parts of this book in the past but I have never taken the opportunity to digest the significance of the ideas it describes until now. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the premise of the book, let me briefly describe it.

Mr. Anderson researched the top Internet-based businesses, companies like Amazon, iTunes, Rhapsody, Netflix and eBay, and learned some rather astonishing things about what happens when consumers are given more choices in the marketplace. He documented what is called in statistical analysis a long tail in just about everything people purchased online from books to coffee beans.

The idea of a long tail is this: When you graph what consumers with choices do when shopping at such places as Amazon or eBay, there is a group of products which make up the highest volume sellers. That is, the hits or the products that sell the most. Graphically, these are the products that make up the biggest bump on the graph. However, when you look past the 8,000 or 9,000 bestsellers at these sites the curve dramatically decreases to near the baseline but never quite going to zero sales, aka the long tail.

Now here’s the interesting thing: Anderson’s research found that the vast majority of products, the non-hits at such sites as Amazon and Netflix, sell at least once a quarter. And needless to say there are many more non-hits than there are bestsellers. This phenomenon is statistically represented by a very long tail when graphed.

Be that as it may, the long tail of the sales--as it turns out--is BIG business and the major online retailers know it. It is the reason why Amazon will actually carry books that may only sell once every other year. Fact is it cost them next to nothing to have the product listed and available for sale--just bandwidth and a copy or two of the book on the shelves. For retailers like iTunes and Rhapsody all that’s required to sell is bandwidth since everything sold is digitally delivered.

In effect, the Internet has transformed the supply chain. It used to be that consumers were mostly restricted to buying whatever local brick and mortar stores were selling. For their part local retailers were forced to stock only those products that would sell to the local market. The Internet now makes it economically feasible to list and sell myriad different products without restriction. The curious thing that has developed is that markets now organize themselves around niches based on personal preferences, tastes and affinities but not usually locality.

So what does all this have to do with YOUR financial freedom?

Well, as I read
The Long Tail it dawned on me that the journey to your financial freedom and mine can be greatly accelerated by employing the business model of sites such as iTunes and Amazon. Or, said another way, we should strive to recognize and cultivate a bevy of long tail products and services in our own businesses.

Here’s what I realized: Using print-on-demand services to write, publish and distribute books such as I teach at http://www.realfastbook.com and produce and distribute DVD’s such as I show in step-by-step detail at http://freewarescreencapture.com, you too can reap the benefits of the long tail in much the same way as the big online retailers do.

That is, you too can put out books, audio programs, DVD’s and other physical products that are manufactured on demand and drop-shipped to customers without inventory costs and little to no set-up fees.

As you add new products you will naturally start to reap the benefits of the long tail. That is, some of your products will sell better than others and some will be more profitable but the real key is THEY WILL ALL SELL. The idea is to put enough products into the pipe and then you’ll really start feeling the financial impact of income rolling in from multiple sources. In effect, each new product becomes another of YOUR financial assets.

And it gets even better because these products can be literally set-it-and-forget-it propositions.

What do I mean?

Let’s say you wanted to do a short historical book on the battleship "Aurora" which on the firing of its guns signaled the start of the Bolshevik revolution. (I only use this example because as I write these words I am sitting in port in St. Petersburg, Russia near where the battleship is still berthed on the Neva River.) Now with print-on-demand you could easily research, write, publish and internationally distribute through Amazon a short book on the subject.

Now here’s the cool thing: Once you have it listed on Amazon, it is henceforth and evermore FOR SALE. You won’t have to pay any fees to continue to list it and you won’t have to promote it or try to sell it because here’s the cincher: When you put a book or other product up on a major marketplace like Amazon, you put the product in the path of traffic. People interested in Bolshevik, Russian, or naval history find you and your product. Many will buy it, as well.

Once you have one product up, you simply rinse and repeat. That is, you put out other products. You keep stuffing the pipe with new product.

Now, if you really want to turbo-charge your success, you don’t just willy-nilly create products. You first figure out what the market wants or what is selling in the particular niche you’re interested in. Then, only after doing your due diligence and research, do you create your products. If you need help with this, I devote an info-packed lesson on determining what will sell before you write it in my http://www.realfastbook.com training.

Now to maximize the selling power of your long tail it is also better to create products that are related or at least of interest to the group who purchased your last product. Let me give you an example: I broke into this business with a very unique and useful product called
Speak On Cruise Ships: 8 Easy Steps to a Lifetime of Free Luxury Cruises, a product that continues to sell quite well to this day. By inferential logic I knew a couple things about the group who purchased this product. I knew that they were interested in travel and public speaking. I further knew that there were a good many professional speakers, coaches, consultants, trainers and authors among my buyers. Thus, it was rather easy for me to determine what types of products they want. I simply do my level-best to offer high-quality info products that deliver on the promise of the title, but most of the products are somehow related.

Another big benefit to developing related products is you can cross-promote them within your other products. This will result in more sales. In effect, the more related products you have the larger the net you can cast.

Needless to say the content of all your products should be of the very best quality. That is, they should deliver on the promises of the title. This is the best way to keep your customers coming back for more.

But again I want to stress as you add more products you will see a similar graphical representation of your sales as the major online retailers. That is, some of your products will sell more frequently and some less, but the exceedingly encouraging thing is probabilities are high that they will all sell. That’s the long tail at work--at work for you.

In this way, you build assets for yourself and when you build enough of them you will start seeing a real difference in your bottom line and a quantum leap toward you financial independence. I know, I’ve seen it in my own business.

So the question remains, how does one self-publish lots of high-quality, highly profitable products? Fortunately, I have some solutions for you. If you want to see my number one secret for producing books lickety-split you should check out http://www.realfastbook.com. And, if you know how to produce high-perceived value DVD’s cheap and quickly, you should check out http://freewarescreencapture.com. Yes, these are both products in my long-tail. Now go get some in yours!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cool Library Desk - Created Completely with Books

Here's a great photo of a library information desk composed completely of books:


Friday, September 10, 2010

Book Titles: Should You Be Able to Read Them?

Below are the book jackets of some of the books that editors from larger publishers were promoting at BookExpo America in 2005. In fact, these are the titles the editors selected to present during the Editors and Booksellers Buzz Forum.

Now, what I want to know is very simple: Do the titles matter? Look at them. It’s almost as if they were designed to fade into the woodwork in almost every case. It’s true that with a little bit of work I can make out most of the titles. But if you look at the titles, it really looks like the designers of the buzz-worthy books intentionally were trying to hide the titles.

Jonathan Harr’s title is unreadable at this size (the size in most catalogs and websites). I think it says something like The Lost Painting, but I cheated. I made the graphic larger to make out the last word.

Skinner’s Drift is readable with some work, but who is the author? And why is Skinner’s fading out into the background?

The original cover of Maybe a Miracle had a lopsided a in the title, a faded white title against a mottled blue background, an author name fading into nonexistence, and something diving into a fishbowl. Above are a few of the covers that have been used since then (the last is for the audio edition).

The Tender Bar is one of the more readable titles. But, in the original cover showcased at BEA, the title was cast in a faded white against a light background. And the words under the title appeared to read: a novel. Perhaps the publisher was not sure either. [It turned out to say: a memoir and, amazingly, the book became a New York Times bestseller.]

The Trudeau Vector does stand out, but even it is compromised with a small THE and two colors breaking up the rest of the title (in the original cover). In the finished cover, they used only one color but now the title runs off the page. Alas.

In the original cover, the author name was also unreadable against the background of the waves or ice. In the finished cover, they put the name against a plain background.

The True Story title stands out but is written in thin splotchy type, mixes two colors, and has (at this size) a lot of distracting and unreadable type above it.

The paperback edition on the right is also hard to read. In both covers, the author's name is difficult to make out clearly.

The Widow of the South is slightly readable, but again, it’s set with faded type against a splotchy background.

If I were judging these covers, my first impression would have been that the publishers really did not want you to read these books. Every one of these covers would fade away into the background if put face out into a sea of other books. Only The Trudeau Vector might stand out, although there’s nothing in the cover that says: Read me, read me.

My guess, at the time, was that these books were not going to do too well. I felt bad for all the authors whose names were made to fade away, except for Jonathan Harr, who got star treatment with a name bigger than the title by far.

Of course, at the larger size of a cover on a real book, many of these books would have been readable, but none of them, again, said buy me, take me home, read me.


Book Cover Critique: $125. I've watched key book wholesalers, chain store buyers, and producers of major TV shows pick up a book and make an instant decision on the book WITHOUT opening the book. How important is your book cover? Without a good one, your book won't sell. I'll help you to pass that First-Look Test. All for only $125. Each critique includes a 15-minute feedback session via telephone.

Email johnkremer@bookmarket.com to set up an appointment.

“As a publisher on a budget, I can confidently say that consulting with John on the cover of The Way of Leading People: Unlocking Your Integral Leadership Skills was the best money I spent promoting my book. John provided me with clear, concise feedback while making several valuable marketing suggestions.” — Tim Warneka, founder, Asogomi Publishing International

“This was the best investment I've made on my book.” — Sandra Lewis, publisher, My Health Record

Book Title Critique: $125. While a book title critique is included in the book cover critique, I've often had to tell people to go back to the drawing board completely because their title was all wrong. If you are looking to brand your book or want to create a bestseller, a book title critique will help you to create a bestselling book before you hire a cover designer (and spend up to $3,000 on a cover with a bad title). Each critique includes a 15-minute feedback session via telephone.

Email johnkremer@bookmarket.com to set up an appointment.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Article Writing Template That Gets People Talking About You and Your Topic Right Away

Here is a great article from Eric Gruber of Complete A-Z Article System:

I recently wrote an article entitled Article Marketing Debate: Is Article Marketing Dying as the Use of Video Soars? I then submitted it to top websites like PowerHomeBiz.com, BookMarket.com, and SiteProNews.

One day after it was published, my article was being talked about on forums like The Warrior Forum – a top forum for internet marketers. For example, John Hocking (the10minuteexpert.com) wrote: "I was just reading an interesting article on the use of article and video marketing. Read the article here: http://blog.bookmarket.com/2010/08/article-marketing-debate-is-article.html. Then, let me know what you think? Is video marketing replacing article marketing or are they just two tools you can use to get traffic and referrals?"

That forum posting received responses like:
"There are still far too many people that have difficulty with video (dial-up users, for example). Plus there are a lot of people who would rather have something they can print out to read offline. I think they are two tools and I don't see either one replacing the other."

"Well, I don’t think that video can outweigh article marketing. It’s just like saying people should stop reading and only learn by watching videos"

"I truly doubt that article marketing will be dying. Because not everyone prefers the same method of learning. A lot of people learn better if there is a video showing them how to implement a certain task, while others pick up on the material being presented if they where to read it. So with all that being said, no article marketing will not be going anywhere."
You see, this new article template has accomplished the following:
  • Created the buzz I need on the Web
  • Has people talking about my article on popular forums and blogs
  • Generated support for article marketing. I can use their comments as social proof in my marketing activities. And, social proof is an amazing psychological trigger.
  • Increased website traffic, built my list and made me even more money!
So, How Does This New, Instant Article Template Work?

Step 1: Create your article title. First, put in your keywords than add the word debate. Then think about the conflicting viewpoints in your industry. Now, add a provocative question to the title that is related to one of the controversial subjects. For example:
  • Article Marketing Debate: Is Article Marketing Dying as the Use of Video Soars?
  • Article Marketing Debate: Is the Duplicate Content Penalty Just a Myth?
Step 2: Write your introduction. Now explain the controversial topic and why people think opposite of you. Give the reasons for the opposing view.

Step 3: Show real proof that your view is the right view. For example, I show real results that my clients are getting.

Step 4: Give some tips on how they can take the appropriate action you want now. Provide useful, valuable, take-away content that proves you are an expert. This way they’ll want to come to you when they need assistance.

Step 5: Remind them of the results they can get if they stop falling into the trap of believing what others have to say about the topic. This is an important step as you want them to take the action you describe in your bio box. Now, that you have my proven instant article writing template, start writing your articles and submit them to top websites and ezines.

If you need additional help, check out my instant article writing templates at http://www.www.FreeArticleCreationTemplates.com. Just for checking the site out, I’m giving you 3 free article templates.


Article marketing expert Eric Gruber created online marketplace opportunities for authors, small business owners, speakers and internet marketers who want more website traffic, prospects and profits. Now you can get started with writing and marketing your business with articles, by getting 3 free article templates that will help you write articles faster. Get it now at: http://www.www.FreeArticleCreationTemplates.com.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Article Marketing Debate: Is Article Marketing Dying as the Use of Video Soars?

Here is a great article from Eric Gruber of the Complete A-Z Article System:

It seems that a lot of people are questioning whether article marketing as a lead generation tool is dying because of video. Here’s real proof that article marketing is alive and kicking:
  • Key Organization Founder Denise Landers became a key contributor to Entrepreneur Magazine’s website. Entrepreneur.com receives more than 4 million hits per month! Can you imagine the amount of business she receives by getting her articles published on the site?
  • Technology expert Dan Kaplan had his best year in 29 years of business. Dan’s referrals dried up to the point where he thought about shutting down his business and entering early retirement. Now, because of articles, he is known as the distribution technology expert and he is now one of IBM’s top resellers!
  • Mark Hyman added article marketing and article submission to his marketing mix – and hit the #2 spot on the New York Times bestseller list
  • With just 4 months of article marketing coaching, organizational leadership consultant Skip Weisman received a new $25,000 consulting contract!
  • By following the strategies in my online article marketing course, Jason Dove published his book, Crystal Reports Formulas Explained, and sent it from selling zero copies to being number one in its specialist chart on Amazon. He secured a 95,000 euro contract and it allowed him to launch an info product to share his expertise with others and generate a modest passive income.

Now I will admit that video is playing a huge role in internet marketing today. YouTube has become one of the fastest growing sites on the web. And, people are slapping videos on sales pages instead of making prospects read a 10- to 12-page sales letter. But video marketing and article marketing should go hand-in-hand. In fact, for every informative article you write, you should be turning it into video and vice versa. Remember article marketing is about getting the right messages to as many targeted prospects as possible in as many ways as possible.

So I think it’s quite bizarre that people think article marketing is dying. Newspapers still publish articles. All the big news sites are still delivering news. The blogosphere is still growing and ezines are still one of the best marketing tools. I bring in leads every single day from my articles on top websites like About.com and SiteProNews.com. And, because I’m posting articles on my LinkedIn group, I’ve seen my website traffic increase by an additional 18% last month.

So where is the slow death?

I figure it’s because people equate article marketing with distributing to ezinearticles.com, isnare.com, articledashboard.com, etc. With everyone jumping on the bandwagon and many talking about Google slapping duplicate content, the competition on the article directories has become fierce.

For me, article marketing is not dead because I’ve never limited it to that. Article marketing is using articles on your own site, contacting BIG and targeted website/newsletter publishers directly and REALLY getting your content out there, instead of just passively submitting to directories.

Use your articles to your advantage by re-using them in different and unique ways.

7 Ways to Use Your Articles
  • Turn your articles into press releases
  • You should be blogging every day. And, these blog posts should be automatically posted on your Facebook fanpages, LinkedIn profile, and Twitter account.
  • Develop an e-course. You can write a series of articles that you can distribute as an e-course. An e-course, or course by email, is typically a brief lesson sent over several days or weeks. This type of course a very simple way to give away some of what you know so that people get a taste of what it would be like to work with you. You can sell your e-course. Or give it away for free as a marketing promotional tool.
  • Create an online publication like HealthyWealthynWise.com, SmallBusinessCEOMagazine.com and InternetMarketingTNT.com!
  • For every article you write, create a video and podcast. Now, submit your articles, videos and podcasts to the top websites, ezines, video and podcast directories.
  • Create your own Facebook fan page and LinkedIn group. Every article I write for my blog and for article submission, I link to it in my article marketing group and fanpage. As of this writing, my Google Analytics shows an 18% increase in website traffic due to my LinkedIn group and a 5% increase in website traffic due to my Facebook efforts.
  • Dominate your niche with your very own resource and article directory. With this directory, you can promote your products, affiliate products or both! You can use your content and ask others to submit their content. You can even make it a reviews site and have others rate products, services and your articles. Make sure you put Adsense on every page. And, do not forget to sell advertising space.

Article Marketing Is Not What It Used to Be

No longer can you submit an article to thousands of article directories and expect the traffic to come pouring in! Whether you're just starting out in article marketing, or you already run an article marketing campaign, you have to learn how it should be done in today's world if you want it to succeed. Over the last couple of years, article marketing and article submission has evolved into a tactical marketing strategy that must be executed properly in order to realize it's full potential.


Article marketing expert Eric Gruber creates online marketplace opportunities for authors, internet marketers and small business owners who want more website traffic, prospects and profits. Now you can get started with article marketing fast with Eric’s free instant article writing templates that will help you write articles in 30 minutes or less.

A Fantastic Bookshelf - Cool!

Note: Yatzer.com is offline for at least 24 hours so this wonderful bookshelf won't show up until they come back online. Alas.

‘Oh, the farmer and the cowman should be friends’, Ron Arad 2009
Corten and mirror-polished stainless steel
5.5m wide, 3.5 m high, 40cm deep
Courtesy Ron Arad Associates and Timothy Taylor Gallery, London

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Book Marketing Minute video series

Here is a revised version of my first attempt to produce an on-going series of book marketing tips as videos. I can already see how to make it better, but I thought I'd share my process as I make it better and better.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Book Marketing Bestsellers Blog Index

I've just indexed the 5 and a half years of my Book Marketing Bestsellers blog so you can access all the great tips, resources, and success stories I've shared there.

You can access the six pages of index entries by visiting http://www.bookmarket.com/bestofblog.htm.

The index includes pages devoted to tips, resources, success stories, articles, videos, and book design tips.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

100% Guarantee - Can You Deliver?


I love the following 100% guarantee offered by keynote speaker Tom Connellan. Can you deliver on such a guarantee for your book, speech, coaching, etc.? Think about it.

Here’s our 100% Guarantee. Because my schedule, fee, content, or delivery may or may not fit with your group, there are two parts to my guarantee.

Guarantee #1: If I deliver a presentation for you, you are 100% guaranteed to be 100% satisfied. If for any reason you’re not, you’re entitled to a full refund.

Guarantee #2: If I don’t fit your needs, let me know what you’re looking for and I'll point you to someone who can fill your needs.

Give us the dates of the meeting, the nature of the audience, a rough idea of your budget, and any other information you think is relevant.

One way or another, you’ll end up with a great speaker for your meeting.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Now, This Is a Bookstore

Found the above photo of a Vancouver bookstore (McLeod's Books) at http://www.beyondrobson.com/vancouver_city_guide/2010/08/the_top_5_book_stores_in_vancouver

Now, that's a bookstore you could get lost in. And probably find some great books.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Ford Fiesta - Does Advertising Work?

If I were to buy a new automobile today, my first choice would be the new Ford Fiesta. I'm not sure why. I don't like their TV ads (because they don't really sell the car), but I have heard enough about the Ford Fiesta to make me interested.

It seems to be a well-made car, inexpensive, fuel efficient, yet features the Ford Sync technology. Nice-looking car as well.

I think the media and many consumers under-appreciate the Ford Sync technology. I think it's as significant and life-changing as the Apple iPhone. At least, it could be. It has great potential. You should check it out.

I wouldn't be surprised if the Ford Sync is used eventually to deliver podcasts, video, ebooks, and more. It's already doing that to some extent. It just needs more attention to make it something special.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

5 Ideas for Sharpening Your Next Speech

The following article is courtesy of Michael Angelo Caruso, speaker as well as author of the Present Like a Pro DVD:

August 7 is Professional Speakers Day. Here are 5 cool ideas for sharpening your next presentation.

1. A good pre-game show will help you get your game on. When creating your presentation, write it backwards, starting with the call-to-action.

2. Use my Power of Three to speak without notes. Many people are nervous when speaking in front of an audience. Nerves only make it harder to seem relaxed and stay on message. The secret is to focus on only three points.

3. Do six things in the first five minutes of every presentation. I cover all six tips in on my DVD, but here are two: 1) Teach the audience something they don't know and they'll pay attention to the rest of your talk. 2) Get the audience to do something right away, such as write something down, raise their hand, etc. This precedent will come in handy when you issue a call-to-action at the end of your presentation.

4. What you say with your body is more important than what you say with your mouth. Body language doesn't lie. Saying you're confident is wasted breath, if your body language says the opposite. Learn to present with congruity.

5. Always ask the audience to take action. If you are very specific and give a reasonable time frame, they are more likely to follow through.

Now, here's the half-price offer: Order the Present Like a Pro DVD this week and pay only $24.50. As with all my products and services, you will get much more than you pay for.
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