Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Networking Miracle

The following blog post was originally written by J. Steve Miller, author of Enjoy Your Money! How to Make It, Save It, Invest It and Give It. He offered to let me repost it here.

Get out there. Keep meeting new people. Take an interest by asking what they do. Offer your assistance or help. It's called networking, and there's something very mysterious about it.

So last night I almost skipped a networking event - a local alumni gathering for the university my wife attended. But I went because I always seem to meet someone I need to meet at these type meetings. Also, they offer free food.

So the first few people I met were interesting, nice, and I felt like I was able to encourage or offer some direction in their pursuits. We exchanged business cards. It's always fun to be useful to someone.

The fourth and last person I met was a financial planner, so we naturally hit it off - my latest book is on personal finances. He mentioned that he was raising two boys, trying to help them toward independence, so I mentioned that getting my own 7 boys independent inspired my recent research and writing. Finally, I offered him a free copy, thinking he might find it useful. And, who knows, he might could recommend it to clients or when he teaches seminars or something.

So he says, "Hey, my wife works with a textbook distributor to schools. I'll let her see it."

I thought, "A textbook distributor to schools? A TEXTBOOK DISTRIBUTOR TO SCHOOLS!!!"

It just happens that my top marketing goal for this year is to figure out how to get my book into schools. I don't have a distributor to schools. I need one.

This is so bizarre that it almost defies imagination. On the way home, after giving him a copy (always, always, keep copies of your books in your car), I looked at all the lights of stores in Kennesaw and thought, "Out of the 30,000 people in Kennesaw, Georgia tonight, what are the odds that one of them works for a book distributor to schools? And what are the odds that I would meet that person's husband at a random event that had nothing to do with book marketing, and that the meeting would occur in the very month I was prioritizing marketing to schools?"

Coincidence? Because of my faith, I have to believe that this was a God thing. As someone once said, "a coincidence is when God works a miracle and decides to remain anonymous."

On the other hand, there tends to be a human part in miracles - someone prays, someone is out helping the needy, then God shows up. Networking gurus would say that miracles tend to happen more around people who are out there doing something, rather than to people who are sitting on the couch eating nachos and watching TV.

Whatever you make of this, I think it pays to get out there and meet people. I help them; they help me. That's when miracles happen.

-- J. Steve Miller, President, Legacy Educational Resources

Author of Enjoy Your Money! How to Make It, Save It, Invest It and Give It

The money book for people who hate money books.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

How to Conduct a Successful Book Signing Event

The following blog post was sent to me by Sally Watkins, author of Change Your Mindset, Not Your Man . . .

As a brand new somewhat introverted author with a very small platform It took trial and error before I got the hang of conducting a book signing event. How as an unknown can you sell yourself and your book in a public place? How do you nab passersby in the bookstore or vendor exhibit hall and get them interested in your book?

Dress up in a professional outfit and wear a badge with a picture of your book, your name and the word “Author” in big letters. I also have a poster with my picture and the book cover that is positioned by the books, and in addition have a huge banner of the book cover in a banner stand. Business cards with a picture of the book and contact information are also a necessity. All of these items I ordered from Vistaprint, an inexpensive online resource.

Then decide what your hook will be to interrupt people as they stream by. I’ve discovered that you can’t tell a book by the cover and you can’t decide who is appropriate for your book by how they are dressed. Many very upscale, successful, well read, intelligent, and educated people will be wearing sweatpants, old t-shirts, and be poorly groomed so don’t write off anyone on the way they look. Even though my book is targeted to young and middle aged women I found that older women bought it for friends and daughters and men bought it for wives and girlfriends so I didn’t rule out anyone.

The best hook that worked for me is to hold a copy of the book and stand by the stack of books and banner and say, “I’m a visiting author today and this is my book, Change Your Mindset Not Your Man.”

Since my book falls in the self-help genre I would continue, “I’m a psychotherapist and giving free advice today and talking to people about their relationships.” If I got their attention and they were either looking at me or taking a copy of the book I was offering them, I would give a monologue about the value or benefit of the book. It is important not to allow silence or wait for the person to ask questions. This is your opportunity to give them a two-minute commercial about the book.

I figured out how to respond to common reactions:

For the woman who said she was long married and had no need of the book, I remarked that she learned these things herself over the years but maybe she had a friend or daughter who hadn’t figured it out.

For the woman who said she wasn’t in a relationship but was just dating, I showed her how these ideas would help her focus on her own needs and not just form around what a guy wanted.

For the staunchly single woman I allowed that she probably had friends bending her ear about their man problems.

For the newly married I explained that this book would keep things on the best footing.

For the person on the fence about whether to stay or go, this book would give a lot to consider before making that decision.

For the guy, I would say that many men liked the book and it gave them insight into how women think and feel. You get the idea.

I found it helped rapport if I told people a little about my life and why I wrote this book. “I grew up in a family with lots of problems. I was like many women who dreamed of a perfect guy who was going to rescue me. Self-help books and therapy and going back to school helped me become the person I am today. I lived this book before I became a therapist and helped others.” It humanizes me, makes me more like them.

For people who decide to buy, offer them a generic autograph beside your printed name or a personalized inscription. For the latter, get the correct spelling of their name and add something like “best wishes” or better yet a phase that might relate to your book. I like “For Mary: star in your own life!, or “For Gina: Your relationship with you comes first!” Then sign and date.

For people who decide not to buy and are ready to walk, offer the business card, with the website and the option of reading the first chapter online. Encourage them to read your blog, view your videos, read your reviews on Amazon.

A trap to avoid is those people who are interested in writing a book or publishing and want to talk to you about your experience and how to do it. These people usually won’t buy your book and they can tie up a lot of your time while many would-be buyers are passing by. It’s very seductive because you naturally want to talk about your path to publishing and enjoy their interest but if you are there to market your book it’s better to stay on task. Give these writers your card and invite them to email you.

At the end of your time, ask the bookstore manager if they want you to autograph the books left to sell later. Be sure and write an email of appreciation to the bookstore for the opportunity.

Marketing books requires a different skill set than writing them. I hope these pointers are helpful to other new authors.

-- Sally B. Watkins, psychotherapist, life coach, and author. Visit her at or

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Books and Cereal Do Go Together

Books have been given away before via cereal boxes, but Irish publisher O'Brien Press is taking the giveaway a step further. O'Brien Press has partnered with Kellogg's cereal company and Hughes and Hughes Bookstore to give books away to kids who cut out vouchers from Rice Krispies boxes.

The difference? There are two ways to redeem the vouchers. One, mail the voucher in with a small postage & handling fee. Or readers can simply walk into a Hughes and Hughes store to pick up their free books.

Nice to see Europeans doing something innovative with drawing people into bookstores.

As the publisher noted in a recent blog post, "What I really love about this one is that it’s Irish: many multi-national brands don’t seem to make any real effort to appeal to their local audience, preferring to rely on their international muscle to do most things on a multi-national level. Kelloggs, however, have arranged this locally with an Irish-owned chain retailer and an Irish-owned publisher to appeal to Irish kids, and have put a lot of thought and effort into it – well done them, I say."

You can read his complete blog post at

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Customize Your Short URLs for Maximum Response

Here is a report I received yesterday from Jonathan Gunson of on how he uses URL shortening services to encourage greater click-throughs to his website:

Now this is really cool: I've discovered by extensive split testing on Twitter that customized shortened links from the service increase click-throughs by as much as three times.

Here's how:

I don't use the ordinary shortening, but use the custom alias panel immediately under the normal URL entry panel instead. (You'll see what I mean on the web page.)

For example, I shortened to

But I used the custom alias instead to make

This got 3 times the click throughs because of the personal branding, and it cost ... nothing.

Note from John Kremer: Other URL shortening services also allow you to create custom or branded links. Check out the URL shortening services at
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