Selling your book to a publisher
Moving those books out of the garage
Increasing your writing income
Double Your Money
Are You Parlaying Your Inventory?
Reaching Business Clients
General Marketing Tips
Strategies & Tactics
Place Five Arrows in Your Marketing Quiver
Getting an Agent
Good sources for names of agents include: Literary Market Place (expensive, but you can find it in your library's reference room) and Guide to Literary Agents To sort out which agents to contact, use this checklist:
- Must represent the type of work you write. There´s no use trying to convince a romance agent to peddle your computer programming book.
- Must be currently accepting new clients. Many agencies limit their client lists and will only accept new clients as current clients leave or become inactive.
- Does this agent or his/her agency belong to the Association of Authors Representatives? Although membership does not guarantee credibility and non-membership does not always mean "bad," AAR membership does demonstrate seriousness and leans toward ethical behavior.
- Must not ask for any money upfront. While many agencies add on photocopying and delivery fees over certain limits, the truly credible ones take this out of the advance and royalty checks. If the agent mentions reading fees, processing fees, editing fees, or any other kind of upfront fees, be careful. You want an agent who earns his or her living from commissions earned by placing manuscripts — a successful agent.
- When you have narrowed your list down to prime possibilities, send them letter spelling out what book you´re working on and why it is different from anything else currently available, plus why it´s of value to a large group of people. Ask if they´d like to review your proposal or manuscript and promise to call them in two or three weeks. If they´re interested, mail the proposal immediately. If they pass on the idea, don´t try to convince them.
- You don´t want an agent whose arm you have to twist just to read the thing. Your agent must be excited about your project, and be anxious to put in the time matching it to an editor who will treat the book — and you — well.
Geoff James, author of Success Secrets from Silicon Valley and The Tao of Programming, needed an agent — "When I found myself without an agent, I called John Kremer to ask him the best way to get an agent. He told me to call everyone whom I knew who might know a good agent, especially people whom I had interviewed (for articles and such) who had best-selling books. I did as he suggested, separating my possible sources into "A", "B" and "C" depending on the likelihood that they'd have a good contact. By the time I had called everyone on the "A" list, the name of one agent had come up twice. I sent him an email describing myself and my work (with which he was familiar) and now I'm being represented by one of the top agents in the country. Thanks, John!!!
In today's marketplace, more and more writers are exploring the work offered by book packagers. Many packagers offer a flat $1 per word fee for all rights. Because packagers, in most cases, come up with their own book topics, then seek out writers to do the work, the best approach is to mail a professional press kit and offer your services. For a listing of book packagers check a current edition of Literary Market Place in your library reference room.
Source: Marketing Strategies For Writers by Michael Sedge (out of print, but worth getting a used copy).
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Selling Those Already-Published Books
- I signed up for a book-signing table at the Dallas Writers Roundtable Conference (found it on your site). But at the last minute the publisher said the book wouldn't be ready! The conference manager suggested I ask for a sell sheet, and by golly, the publisher was happy to do it. It's a colorful sheet with a photo of the book cover, a bulleted synopsis of the book's contents and a brief bio. So now I at least had something to give people interested in the book and I didn't have to cancel the table. It also gave me the idea to print up some bookmarks using the book cover graphic (I'm pretty proficient at PageMaker and did it myself). Now if someone wants an autograph, I can sign the bookmark. They can use it in the book when they purchase it. Contributed by Janet Bigham Bernstel, co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Making Money in the New Millennium.
- Promote your book online by making yourself available for interviews. Many websites are willing to interview authors. Look for interview opportunities with online bookstores, genre organizations (sites and organizations related to your genre), writing or topical newsletters and e-zines, and "guide" sites such as www.about.com.
Source: Writing.Com by Moira Anderson Allen.
- Follow-up tip: Increase your chances by preparing one or more interviews of yourself ahead of time and offering them to the content editor as a guide. Busy editors will appreciate it — possibly use one of your interviews verbatim. Editors with more time to do their own interviews will at least appreciate your input and consideration.
10 Tips for Selling More Books
- Consider adapting chapters of your book or writing related articles for magazines. If you can sell these articles, all the better; but even if you don´t, you should try to place articles in any magazine where readers might be interested in the topic of your book. Be sure to coordinate any such freelance writing with your publisher (who may already have approached the magazine about second serial rights).
- Don´t send review copies only to book review editors. In many cases, especially with cookbooks and how-to books, you´d be better off sending your books to the food or lifestyle editors. So watch for other opportunities for reviews: newsletter editors, in-house magazines, trade magazines, freelance writers, and other authors writing books in the same subject area.
- Give something away free. When promoting Directory of Book Printers, we offered a free report on how to save money in the production of your books. Many periodicals published this free offer where they might not have published the news release about the Directory itself.
- Provide free waiting room copies of your book (or the first book of a series) to doctors, dentists, and other offices where people have to wait, especially if your book is of interest to their patients or clients. Make sure you have a clear sales promotion in the back of the book or, better yet, in the front of the book. Best: Slip a couple dozen order postcards into the books.
- Offer free excerpts of parts of the book to magazines or newsletters that will provide a statement at the end of the article describing how the book may be ordered.
- Offer to change your title for special sales possibilities. Example: Meow Mix offered The Meow Mix Guide to Cat Talk as a self-liquidator to people who bought a bag of the cat food. The book was customized for Meow Mix by simply changing the title of Jean Craighead George´s How to Talk to Your Cat.
- Join the trade or professional associations in your subject area. Most publish a trade magazine or newsletter to help members keep track of the news, people, trends and upcoming events.
- Attend appropriate trade conventions and other conferences. The author of a book on child-raising went to a baby products fair. While there, the author not only sold books but also made contacts that got her TV appearances as well as invitations to speak before people who bought still more books.
- If your books are stocked by local retailers (and they should be!), print up some stickers or cards that point out you are a local author. Ask the stores if they would mind if you placed these stickers onto copies of your books in stock. Ninety percent of the stores will appreciate this bit of help.
- When writing a press release about your book, focus onto news or benefit value of the book, not its contents.
From 1001 Ways to Market Your Books by John Kremer, reprinted with permission. Copyright John Kremer. This is a must-own book if you now have or will have a book to sell or keep in print.
Idea #16 - If you're sending an email release, grab 'em in the subject line or forget it. For Business Features Syndicate, I receive a dozen or so email releases every day. I'll open and skim perhaps one of them. Nothing in the subject line of the others makes me want to take the time. Another editor said she can tell from the subject line whether she's interested 90 percent of the time.
Source: 85 Ideas for Spreading the Word … about your book, Web site, services, or business by Dana K. Cassell.
If you can't describe a book in one or two pithy sentences that would make you or my mother want to read it, then of course you can't sell it. — Michael Korda, former editor-in-chief, Simon & Schuster. Source: The Quotable Writer, edited by William A. Gordon.
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Getting more $$$ out of work you've already done: REPRINTS
- If the published tear sheet is available, send both a copy of the tearsheet and a copy of the double-spaced manuscript to your reprint market. If you're marketing reprint rights to material already posted on a website (assuming you have retained the rights to do so), send both the URL of where it is currently posted plus an emailed edition. Reason: Some publications (Reader's Digest, for example) like to see the tear sheet so they have verification of original publication and issue. Many editors like the manuscript version (or email copy) so they can more easily do their own editing of the piece. Exception: If the editor tells you ahead of time, such as in response to your query, that he or she wants only one or the other, then send only the requested format.
- Regional magazines, which usually prefer stories with their own regional slant, will sometimes reprint travel articles about destinations outside their region, especially if you can connect the location to their region in some way.
- What gives an article good reprint potential? If it appeals to several groups of people. If the material is timeless; it will apply two years from now as well as today.
- When marketing a reprint, brainstorm which groups of people would benefit from reading it, then search out publications that reach those readers. Keep narrowing down your groups of people; for example, from parents to fathers to Methodist fathers to southeastern Methodist fathers to Florida Methodist fathers, and so on. Each "group" of potential readers probably has one or more publications targeting it. Your marketing task is to seek out or keep your antenna up for those publications.
- Keep the rights to your material. Sell one-time rights only (or non-exclusive e-rights for a specified time period). You cannot sell reprint rights to other markets if you don't own the rights in the first place.
Keep the right to market your own serial rights on nonfiction book contracts. Quite often, authors can make more money by selling reprint rights one chapter at a time than publishers do when they sell serial rights to the entire book only one time. Even if you have to split the proceeds with the book publisher, you may come out much better.
- Build a mailing list of reprint markets, coded by types of material they use. Every time you discover another market that will take second rights, add it to your list. Then when you do an article, sort your list for possible markets. Send it out to all of them. Once a year, schedule that article for a "re-sort" of your list in order to pick up any markets you've added since last mailings.
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Double Your Money
How many of your sales so far this year have come from clients or editors you've worked with before, and how many have been first-time sales to new clients or editors? For the average small business, 65 percent of all sales come from current customers. Yet in a typical year, the average business will never work again with 15 to 20 percent of its customers. By simply cutting that "defection rate" in half, say from 20 to 10 percent, you can double your rate of growth. Although most writers are good at querying new editors or soliciting new clients, many of us do not devote the time needed to keep current or past clients and editors coming back to us. Count the number of queries or marketing calls so far this year to current/past clients and editors, then double that number over the next seven months. Compare your income between the two periods in that market area.
Next time you research and interview a person in order to write a profile, find out the following information for possible spin-off articles:
- Associations or clubs the person belongs to — Most organizations have regional or national levels that produce their own publications. Many of these use freelance material; some pay quite well. Virtually all are interested in articles about their newsworthy members.
- Religion of that person — I dare say every religion has multiple magazines, and most buy freelance material, especially if it is about members who are doing well and doing good.
- Heritage of that person — Ethnic magazines are big today, plus many nationalities put out publications. If your profiled subject traces his or her heritage to one that does, the magazine(s) reaching that audience may be interested in a story.
- Graduate of any college or university? Most have alumni magazines and many pay for freelance articles and profiles.
- Hobbies — All hobbies and avocations have magazines. Most of them love to have information about successful people who also pursue their hobby or interest.
Admittedly, many of these spin-off markets will not pay high fees; but because you will already have all your research done with the original profile, your income per hour should be adequate.
When setting or revising your goals for this next year, look over the material you gathered through research and interviews for assignments and in-house projects this past year (your information inventory) . . . and brainstorm what else you can do with it that will bring in another 50 percent of what it brought in last year:
- Which of it can you put into other forms — columns, fillers, picture shorts, series, booklets, books, articles — whatever form it wasn't done as originally.
- Which of it can you sell through other media — newspapers, company publications, audio tapes, video tapes, websites, software, books, e-zines, newsletters, manuals, computer disks — wherever you didn't market it last year.
Are You Parlaying Your Inventory?
This article has been updated and moved to our blog. You can read it at: http://WritersEditorsNetwork.com/maximizing-your-writing-inventory/
Almost any idea or topic will sell — if you are willing to hunt hard enough for an editor eager to use it and if you are willing enough to accept whatever that editor will pay, if anything. But common topics — like children, second careers, pets, cures and loneliness — are the things of which many sales and big money come. So your job is less one of finding ideas than of finding new and different ways to rework everyday themes. — Gordon Burgett in Sell & Resell Your Magazine Articles
Email Query Tips
Don't begin your email query by apologizing for intruding into the editor's inbox. If you have confidence in your idea and if you're positive your proposed article will be of value to the editor's readers, demonstrate your confidence by being positive about your message and your idea, beginning with word one.
Submit Tuesday through Thursday — Mondays are typically hectic for editors, plus email boxes are usually fuller. Fridays are too late in the week and too close to the weekend for email to be handled promptly, so it's either deleted or put in a bottomless hold file.
Make your lead paragraph less than 40 words in length.
Make your entire query less than 200 words, or 5 short paragraphs maximum. Editors don't have time to scroll — especially when it's a query trying to sell them something they didn't ask for.
General Query Tips
To which editor should you address your query letter? If the market listing doesn't indicate a person or position, try the managing editor or the section editor where your idea would most likely appear. The larger the publication, the less likely you should be writing directly to the editor in chief, or equivalent. More often, the managing editor or section editor weeds through queries, pulls the most promising, works them into idea possibilities for coming issues and takes those workups to the editor-in-chief for discussion and/or approval, replying to you after a decision has been made. Source: Sell & Resell Your Magazine Articles by Gordon Burgett.
Set up one day a week as your day to market. You may select Monday or Sunday or another day, but choose one day that will allow you to systematize your marketing efforts. As you receive response mail or rejections during the week, wait to respond until your designated day and you'll be more efficient, less depressed, and lose less time. I recommend sending out queries in batches of six to ten. That way, you will always be working to contact the remaining choices from your research in order of preference. — From The Sell Your Novel Toolkit by Elizabeth Lyon.
Time your article queries and book announcement releases so they arrive when the editor needs that topic . . . Most magazines schedule their theme issues or major editorial topics a year or more in advance. This schedule, known as an Editorial Calendar, is put together primarily for the advertising department to sell related advertising. (For example, that's why you will see an unusually large number of security product ads in an issue on home safety/protection.) You can obtain these editorial calendars from the advertising or sales department. Today, most magazines post their entire media kits (including Editorial Calendar, reader profiles, and other information helpful to the freelancer) on their Web sites. When you locate a target magazine's editorial calendar, look at the issues at least six months out. When you see topics or themes within your expertise (or related to the book you're promoting), contact the editor, propose an article, and mention how it will fit right in with such and such an issue. Not only will your timing and targeting be perfect, but you will stand out as a professional who understands the magazine industry.
Trying to decide what kind of articles to query for a particular magazine? Read the letters to the editor. They should tell you what types of articles (controversy, how-to, interview, etc.) and what topics have been covered recently and have drawn the most response. Think along those lines when sending that editor ideas.
Timing is everything when submitting queries, articles or stories. As a rule of thumb, print publications work six months out. So if you are targeting print magazines, keep an extra calendar on your desk, and turn over all the pages until you are at today´s date but six months from now. For example, if it´s June 10, turn your calendar to December 10. That´s the issue magazine editors are likely working on. So send your queries and manuscripts that deal with December topics (winter, Christmas, Hanukkah, Boxing Day, end-of-year tips, etc.). Each day, when you turn over your current calendar, also turn over your "idea" calendar, to see what topics editors are looking for.
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- Take 15 minutes every Sunday to scan the Help Wanted ads for potential take-home business. Look under "A" for advertising, "E" for editor, "N" for newspaper, "P" for proofreader and public relations, "T" for technical writer, and "W" for writer.
- Contact employers and tell them about the advantages of hiring you as an independent contractor: they don't have to pay benefits, they pay only for work done, and they don't have to pay overtime or weekend rates to get a job done on time.
- With effort and imagination, you may find other jobs listed in the paper that a good freelance writer could contract for. The question to ask yourself and the employer is, "What does the employer really need?" If the position entails conducting research, writing reports, developing guidelines, or writing fundraising materials, couldn't the job be done by a freelancer? If the position necessitates being on-site for only short, infrequent periods of time, a freelancer could be the ideal candidate. With more and more staff employees working from home at least part of the time, it shouldn't be too hard to convince potential clients that freelancers are a less costly alternative, and a good investment.
- Ask employers how much they would have saved over the past year if they had paid employees only for productive work, rather than for "being there."
from Got a Minute? 101 Marketing Tips for Writers by Rebecca Rohan.
- Next time you print business cards to promote your writing/editing services, have Rolodex holes punched at the bottom of the cards. This will make it easier for potential clients to retain your cards in their telephone-contact files. Caution: When you design your card, place the printing high enough on the card to allow room for the holes. Also: To save money, punch the holes yourself. You can buy a business card punch for a few dollars at office supply stores. Or, you can buy pre-punched forms (which cost a bit more) from label suppliers like Avery, then print out your own on your computer as you need them.
- Invest in multi-functioning marketing pieces. Don't print a brochure about your editing or writing services; use a promotional kit instead. For example, include (on separate sheets) a list of services you offer, a "typical" or "usual" fee list, your professional bio, a short narrative of what you've helped your clients do via the written word, a list of clients and publications, descriptions of projects you've worked on, samples, and so on. Then, when you find a potential client, customize your promotional kit according to the needs of that client or editor.
When putting together your marketing and sales plan, include the following key ingredients:
- Opportunities: What products or services do you offer that are superior to others, unique, valuable, or desired by current customers as well as new clients and editors? Each of these is an opportunity for you to exploit.
- Goals: Based on the above real-world opportunities, establish quantifiable, hard-edged goals for the next year.
- Problems: Identify the major problems that stand in the way of reaching your goals, such as your not being well-known, money to market yourself, and time. Figure out how to use your opportunities to solve your problems.
- Strategy: How do you want the relationship between your competencies and your clients to evolve? Note: If this bogs you down, skip it until later.
- Tactics: Which product or service will you emphasize or concentrate on? What kind of advertising or promotion will you do? What seminars or conferences or networking meetings will you attend and with what plan?
- Marketing Calendar: Put your tactics into a timeline, with deadlines for completion.
Budget: Create a budget to make sure your plan will be doable and profitable in the real world.
Source: Profit Rx by Dr. Revenue® a.k.a. John S. Haskell, which devotes at least a chapter to each of the above.
The primary way of gaining new clients often is by word of mouth — by referrals. The easiest way to get referrals is simply to ask.
Send a letter to your best clients. Ask them to write down, on a supplied postage-paid return postcard, the name of one colleague who would enjoy the benefits of your services. Classic mistake: Asking for more than one referral — it's too intimidating. You want to make it easy for your clients to respond.
When you receive the responses, write a letter to the potential new clients introducing yourself and your services. With each letter, enclose a return postcard with a stamp on it (most people find it hard to throw away a postcard with a live stamp). In bold letters, ask the prospect to return the enclosed card to get a free report. Send those who reply a report you've put together on how to write a more effective brochure or web page or other topic related to your services, which will further position you as an expert.
General Marketing Tips
Each Monday morning (or Sunday evening, or whenever you do your weekly planning) write down 5 marketing activities you will accomplish during the coming week. Break each down into quick-to-do tasks and larger tasks. Then schedule them into your week — and do them.
What is it you do, really? Put in writing a short — can be read in 30 seconds — description of your writing business. Then use this whenever someone asks, "What type of writing do you do?" And use it for those short author blurbs at the end of articles and columns you write.
Market strategy tip: Make a list of 5 to 10 magazines you would like to be published in; OR, make a list of 5 to 10 companies or professionals you would like to have as editorial clients. Then plan what you can do to make that happen.
Make a list of your ten favorite editors/publications, or of the ten most recent clients you took on. Beside their names, write down how they found you or how you found/approached them. This will help you determine which of your current marketing efforts are most successful. Increase those efforts.
Marketing Tip: Kevin Nunley tells of a woman who loves to take photos of places she visits. Then she selects her favorite photos of waterfalls, mountains, buildings, people, or whatever will grab attention in a stack of mail. She orders multiple 4x6 prints of these. On the back of the photos she writes a marketing message, along with the client's or prospect's address, and adds a stamp. People react when they see a photo in their mail. The personalization stands out as something nice and different. Try it with quick queries to editors familiar with your work, to tell business clients about new services you offer, or to remind people about your book that's now out. Subscribe to Dr. Nunley's weekly Marketing Tips free at www.drnunley.com.
Call every one of your best clients and editors this coming week. Thank them for their business during the past year. Then say, "I want to make sure I'm doing everything I can to help you (or provide the material you need). What long-term plans do you have for this year? I want to be able to anticipate, well in advance, what I might be able to do for you." If you reach voice mail, leave the same message. Simply add, "If anything comes to mind, please call me. Otherwise, I'll contact you (fill in the date of your next scheduled call)." Source: Art Sobczak <www.businessbyphone.com>, as shared in Markus Allen's Marketing Newsletter <www.markusallen.com>
When you run across a new magazine, how do you know if it´s a viable freelance market? Here´s a good test:
- Count the number of articles and columns over three recent issues.
- Compare editors´ names on the masthead with bylines on the articles and columns. How many have names that appear both plaaces? Subtract that number from the total number of articles/columns. You now have a sub-total.
- Look for other names that appear in two or three issues. Those are likely freelancers already in their "stable." How many are there? Subtract that number from your sub-total.
- Look at your new sub-total. That is the number of articles/columns likely purchased from freelancers new to them or not regular contributors. If you end up with one article out of 30, your chances of cracking this magazine are not great. If you end of with 15 out of 30 (or better), you have a good chance.
Place Five Arrows in Your Marketing Quiver
written by Paul Lima
Freelance writers like to write. Freelance editors like to edit. Few like to get out there and sell their services. I find that ironic, because most sales efforts require writing and editing. Think telemarketing scripts, sales letters, promotional e-mails, advertising copy, direct mail brochures, web copy, media releases, and so on.
Why is it, as writers and editors, we can so easily do for others what we struggle to do for ourselves?
The answer is simple. Many freelance writers and editors, even those who work for corporate markets, don't understand that they are in business and they fail to apply basic business principles to their freelance business. Once you accept that you are in business and that marketing is part of what makes a business successful, it is easier to use basic sales and marketing tools to develop your business.
Like any business, I have five arrows in my marketing quiver. I shoot them all in a planned and systematic manner to generate new and repeat business. The five arrows include:
- Maintain my Web site
- Generate repeat business, testimonials and referrals
- Network with friends, relatives, associates and organizations
- Advertising and promotion
- Cold calling and mailing
You can be in business without a website, but it is becoming more difficult. My website contains information about me and my services and books as well as testimonials and examples of my writing. When I promote my books and services, I always include my website address (www.paullima.com) so that those interested in buying what I am selling can find out more from me. In addition, my website is optimized for search engines so it shows up in search results based on key words such as "copywriter Toronto," "freelance writer Toronto," "media interview trainer" and others. Over half my new business comes from searches, so it pays to have a website and optimize it for search engines, as I explain in my book, How to Optimize Your Web site for the Best Possible Search Engine Results (www.paullima.com/books).
As any retailer can tell you, their next customer is most likely to be a previous customer. But they don't wait for repeat customers to walk through the door. They use direct mail and other means to invite them to return.
When was the last time you asked previous clients if they needed your services? Out of site is out of mind, so contact previous clients once every few months -- a short e-mail message will do -- and make generating repeat business one of your marketing strategies.
Most businesses also know that positive word of mouth is their friend. Deliver the goods and happy customers are likely to tell others about you. You can sit back and hope your clients will tell others about you, or you can motivate positive word of mouth by asking your clients -- by phone or e-mail -- for referrals and testimonials.
You can also ask people you know to tell others about you. This simple but powerful marketing tool is known as networking. Make a list of all the people you know -- friends, relative, associates -- and make sure they know what you are doing and who you are doing it for. Ask them if they can pass on your name, e-mail address and Web site address.
A number of organized groups -- chambers of commerce, boards of trades, and trade associations -- stage formal networking events. If you are not at those events, you are not meeting potential new clients.
Advertising & Promotion
Why not advertise? That's right, pay to promote your services. Whenever I suggest this to freelance writers and editors, they look askance -- as if it were a sin to spend money on marketing. I am not suggesting your run a full page ad in the Toronto Star. However, if you write for the automotive or financial services industry, why not take out a small display or classified ad in a trade publication that reaches your audience? Consider advertising in the Yellow Pages and on Web sites that reach your target market. Also, look into running targeted Pay Per Click ads on Google. It's what other businesses do to reach their target markets.
Why not promote your services? What do you specialize in? Writing or editing proposals for the not-for-profit sector? Writing or editing IT training manuals? Writing or editing legal, financial, healthcare, government, or other documents? Whatever you do, let the editors of publications that reach your target market know that you are willing to be interviewed for articles that deal with communication issues or strategies. You may even be asked to write a short article on your area of expertise for the publication. That is solid exposure for freelancer writers or editors who are targeting the corporate sector.
Use the Web or business directories to source business contact information and promote your services using cold calling or direct mail. Since marketing is, in many ways, a numbers game, you should be sending out five or more direct mail pitches per week or making five or more cold calls. Your goal here is to land new clients you can convert into repeat business.
Not every arrow in the marketing quiver will hit the target every time, but if you are not taking shots in a controlled and systematic manner, you will never hit the target. So remind yourself that you are in business, and start marketing like it matters. Because if you are in business, marketing does matter.
(Paul Lima is a Freelance Writer, Writing Trainer, and author of The Six-Figure Freelance: How to Find, Price, and Manage Corporate Writing Assignments and seven other books and short reports for writers - www.paullima.com/books).
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