I hope you enjoy Part One of my interview with the wonderful and talented book marketing expert and author, Penny Sansevieri.
I first met Penny when she spoke at the Bay Area Independent Book Publishers Association several years ago. We reconnected last fall when we were both speakers at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Conference. I attended her session and was again amazed at her depth of knowledge, especially about Amazon.
I was thrilled when Penny agreed to this interview. Look for Part Two of the interview next Monday!
There are so many issues we can get into about book sales but let’s start with the question about pricing. Mark Coker did some research about 18 months ago and determined that $2.99 was an ideal price point for eBooks. (I believe this was his conclusion.) Do you agree with that assessment? What experimentation have you done with eBook price points? And as a follow-up question, is there a perfect price point for paperbacks?
First off, I 100% agree with Mark and my research has shown the same thing. Though I will say that I do vary this between $2.99 and $5.99 – I bounce pricing around, even going as low as $.99 for a day or so. Why do I do that? Well, books have their own sweet spot when it comes to pricing. It’s sort of like the studies that show that X day is the best day to post on Facebook. I think as a general rule that’s fine, but audiences are different across the board. So when you look at pricing, play with it a bit to find what seems to resonate most with your market. Fiction, for example, will tend to have a lower price point than non-fiction – specialized books (so trade topics, etc.) will probably skew higher, too.
When an author with a new book first approaches you, what are your initial suggestions for helping that author sell his or her books?
Well, that’s a great question, and also a tough one. First of all, when an author comes to me wanting to sell a lot of copies of their book, I always have a conversation about understanding the metrics of marketing. So, marketing is about exposure, and that’s what you should focus on. How many exposures will this get for my book? And you may think that ads will do that but that’s not always the case. Your goal for marketing should be getting your book in front of your audience in a variety of ways. I know this probably sounds basic, but a lot of authors don’t often think this way. They want a big bang and then wait for the royalties to roll in. However, with 4,500 books published each day, that just does not happen anymore (though I’m not sure it ever did).Book marketing is about exposure via @BookgalClick To Tweet
So, in that vein, I would suggest that the author use social media, but use it wisely. It’s not about being everywhere but being everywhere that matters. So if your market isn’t on LinkedIn, don’t bother with it. You only have so much time, and there’s a lot distracting you – and your reader. I read a study recently that said that with all of the billboards, ads on TV, social media and whatever else we see on a daily basis that we read on an average of 175 newspapers a day. A day!It’s not about being everywhere but being everywhere that mattersClick To Tweet
Next: with whatever you do, be consistent. You would be amazed how many authors are not consistent with whatever they do. If you blog, blog each week – at a minimum. If you’re on Facebook, post daily and so on. Many folks dabble–they try this and that – that’s not a good way to get your message out to the masses.
Pick five things you’re going to do – just five. I promise if you are consistent and focus on doing five things you will be head and shoulders above 90% of the folks publishing.
Create a plan: and this doesn’t have to be some elaborate plan with pages and pages of ideas (though that’s great, too) but you should have a calendar with dates you’re going to do X. Plan your blog posts out and pre-write some if you can.
Attend events: you would be amazed how much you can learn from attending writers conferences like the San Francisco Writer Conference, IndieReCon and Romance Writers of America, just to name a few. Oh, and even if you don’t write romance, the romance events are pretty amazing. I try to go to all of them because I’m always learning from these folks. You should always be in a state of learning and also networking with other authors. Writing and promotion can be a pretty isolating experience and being around other authors who are facing similar challenges will be helpful for your learning, but also your motivation, too!Want to sell more books? Attend events Click To Tweet
What suggestions do you have for an author whose book isn’t selling well?
Well, a couple of things. First off, evaluate what you are doing: does it really make sense? If you aren’t sure or you feel like you’re too close to it, seek some guidance from a professional to evaluate what you are doing.
Also, are you doing the right things? Do you know what things you should or shouldn’t be doing? If you aren’t sure, here’s a great test: go onto Google and look up authors similar to your market. Do a search using your genre and the word “author” and see what pops up. I want you to ignore big brands. Names like James Patterson, Nicholas Sparks, etc., can do anything they want, and their audience will follow. If Patterson got onto MySpace tomorrow, I can almost guarantee you he’d have a million followers there within a few days. Instead you want to look for authors you don’t know that well but who are still on page one or two of Google. Getting ranking like that isn’t easy and if they are ranking well you know that you’ve found an author who may very well be doing all of the right things. Take a look and see what they are posting on their blog, what social media sites are they on, and how often are they there? Success leaves clues, and this could help to open up some new channels or give you some additional insight into things you may have overlooked.
Second, maybe it’s time to put out another book. I see a lot of authors who publish one book and decide they want to “see what happens” – it’s quite rare that a first book will just take off. Even mega hits like Gone Girl weren’t first books, in fact, I think that was her third book if I’m not mistaken. One of the keys to success is to publish consistently. If this feels daunting to you, consider this: short is the new long. Shorter books are doing as well and sometimes better than longer ones. How short is short? Well, 20,000 to 30,000 words generally. And consider this: we had an author who wrote a long (long) fiction book. She released it as an entire book and then broke it into two pieces (so part one and two) and put them up on Amazon. Why did we do this? Well, because I wanted her to have more books on the virtual shelf. The idea being that if you go looking for a particular book, let’s say a romance novel, a lot of that shelf is filled with her titles and hence, she sells more.One of the keys to success is to publish consistently via @BookgalClick To Tweet
To learn more tips from Penny, check back next week for Part Two of this interview!
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Penny Sansevieri is the founder of Author Marketing Experts. She is a book marketing and media relations specialist. She coaches authors on projects, manuscripts and marketing plans and instructs a variety of courses on publishing and promotion. Her own book: No More Rejections. Get Published Today! was released in July of 2005 to rave reviews. See all of her books here. To subscribe to her free ezine, send a blank email to: [email protected]
About the Author of this blog: Frances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. You can receive a free copy of her book Twitter Just for Writers by signing up for her newsletter. Connect with Frances on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+