Archive for September, 2009
Here at Smart Author Sites, we’ve worked with many authors, a fair amount of whom are self-published. And one question that I frequently get asked by authors who are self-publishing is how easy/difficult it is for an author to sell their book themselves through the book web site. If you’re wondering whether to take the plunge, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Think $$$. There’s no question that the profit on book sales is much, much higher if you sell the book yourself (as opposed to linking to Amazon to sell the book). You get to set the price and keep a much larger percentage of it.
- Don’t forget about distribution. Some authors intend to actually house copies of their own book and manually send them out to people who purchase the book through the site. That’s great when you’re talking about selling 10 books a month, but what do you plan to do if your book takes off like wildfire? You may want to look into distribution right off the bat so that you know what you’re getting into.
- Talk to an accountant about taxes. Depending on which state you live in, there may be different laws about how you have to tax purchasers of your book both in and out of your state. Make sure you do your proper research on this before selling the book on your own, as not charging tax could get you into some hot water.
- Choose the right shopping cart for your needs. The only thing that’s a given when it comes to selling books online is collecting payment. But there are so many different shopping cart services that go above and beyond just payment collection. Obviously, the simplest and cheapest way to go is simply to allow people to pay you through PayPal, but that doesn’t really allow you to charge different tax rates for people in different areas, etc… There are also shopping cart services through web hosting services (GoDaddy, Network Solutions…) that offer more enhanced services, such as product details and tax rates per county, but they are a bit more expensive and can involve a lot of setup work. Do your research into different types of shopping carts and figure out which one best meets your needs before jumping in.
If you want to see what other authors are doing, here are a few of the clients that we’ve worked with who are selling their own books:
Feel free to contact us any time for more tips and advice on selling your book through your author web site!
So what’s a book trailer? Or a viral video for authors? How do you get one made? What should be in such a video? How do you get it to actually go viral? How does this lead to book sales? We’ve got the answers from a variety of sources…
From Michael Volkin the author of the new hit book: Social Networking for Authors-Untapped Possibilities for Wealth:
Viral videos are a great way to sell books. According to Wikipedia “A viral video is a video clip that gains widespread popularity through the process of Internet sharing, typically through email or Instant messaging, blogs and other media sharing websites. Viral videos are often humorous in nature”.
There are three key points to consider when creating a viral video campaign:
1) Provide great, but ambiguous, content – Everyone loves to hear a great story. But in a viral video, the story has to be short (less than three minutes). Don’t think of creating a video that will sell your book, think of a video that will keep people entertained.
2) Generate a “residual” fan base – Once your video is built you can integrate other social media tools to build a user base and communicate with them. To do this, follow the lessons learned in Social Networking for Authors-Untapped Possibilities for Wealth. It could be as simple as a subscribe link that notifies users of your updates.
3) SEO it– Your video has to be easily discovered through YouTube search and other popular online video sharing sites. Videos should have clear titles, an accurate description and appropriate keyword tags so that they can appears correctly in a YouTube search and targeted specifically.
A good viral video will spread over the internet like wildfire. See the top 20 viral videos circulating around the Internet now at: http://viralvideochart.unrulymedia.com/
Check out this viral video I created for an author during the last presidential election. It got great coverage. The video is ambiguous but gets people curious as to what is coming next. A typical viral video will cost about $2,000 but will be a great return on your investment if it works properly:
Michael Volkin the author of the new hit book: Social Networking for Authors-Untapped Possibilities for Wealth. His book can be found at SellaTonofBooks.com
From Sheila English, Founder of Circle of Seven Productions:
On creating a good book trailer…
Some key elements to a book trailer are:
- Clearly state what the book is about
- Don’t have too much text
- Make sure your text is readable. Pretty text isn’t always easy to read.
- Don’t have your text and visuals compete for the viewer’s attention
- Follow all copyright laws- Use only photos or music you own or have licensed.
- Convey the genre or genres
- Set a mood with your music, audio, text or visuals
- Keep them under 2 minutes (30-90 seconds works best under most circumstances)
- Don’t give away the whole story!
On distributing your book trailer…
Anyone can put a video up on YouTube and MySpace. And if you are using TubeMogul (www.tubemogul.com) you can get your video up on 15 or so sites at one time. But, which of those sites are best for your book or brand? With over 450 online sites that take book video do you really want to have yours only on the sites where everyone else is? If you’re writing YA or chicklit are you posting to TeamSugar or Popbytes? If you’re writing urban fantasy are you sending to TerrorFeed or Crackle Horror? If you’re writing historical are sending your video to Clipblast or Magnolia? You need those micro sites that reach out to people who already have shown a predisposition to like your genre or storyline.
Distribution should go out to online communities to reach people, but it should also go out to booksellers, libraries and book clubs. All COS videos are sent to over 300 booksellers and over 5000 libraries. These are essential venues.
On services and cost…
We offer several different kinds of video. We have a Cover Story video that starts at $300 that includes distribution to popular and micro sites, booksellers and libraries.
Here is a link to where you can see the different types of videos:
Whether you’re going to use COS or some other company you should take some time to know what you’re paying for and make your expectations and goals clear. Get references on the company if you’ve not used them before. Ask them what you will get for your money. A book trailer is a marketing tool. Like any tool you need to know how to use it for the best results.
Includes: White paper on Residual Marketing Effect of video utilization.
Publisher’s Weekly also published a blurb yesterday about one particular book trailer (or viral video). This one has broken from the traditional mold — basically, a movie trailer for a book — and is going viral on YouTube as we speak. Not a bad idea … thinking outside the box when it comes to book trailers.
Check out the book trailer for God, the Universe and Where I Fit In: A Psychic’s Reflections on Figuring Out the Rest of Your Life (HCI)
Read the full Publishers Weekly article:
Whew! That’s a lot of information. But are you sold yet? The truth is that creating and distributing the right video can make a huge difference in terms of really getting your book out there.
Every author web site has a “contact” page. It usually includes information on how to contact the author’s publisher, agent, etc… It may even include an email address where the author himself can be contacted. But here’s why it SHOULDN’T.
If you allow a site visitor to simply send you an email, you aren’t taking full advantage of the contact you’re making with them. You may or may not get their full name, which you might want to use later. And, more importantly, you won’t have the rights to send them an email newsletter down the line.
Instead, an author contact page should include a contact form. You can see examples of this on all of our SmartAuthorSites.com client websites (e.g. http://www.thelossofcertainty.com/contact.html).
By requiring that people contact you via this form, you’re collecting any information you might want about your readers (full name, location, etc…). More importantly, you also have the chance to add a simple line at the bottom of the submission form which, unless the site visitor un-checks it, gives you the legal right to add their email address to your mailing list.
This is HUGE! It allows you to start building an email list of people who are interested in your book, your writing, etc… This is like a ready-made marketing list (which some people would pay a lot of money for). It allows you to send out a simple email to everyone on that list when you have news you want to share (i.e. an interview coming up) or a new book coming out. Such a mailing list puts the ball in your court. Rather than people having to come to your website to learn about what’s going on with you, you can now reach out to them. This can help exponentially in terms of promoting yourself and selling your book.
Maintaining an email list is quick and easy. It’s as simple as keeping an Excel file with all the contact information. It’s something that you can do on your own, or our production team can do for you, should you build a site through us. Ditto with the actual email newsletters. You could send out simple text newsletters through your personal email address, or you could send out fancy, designed, HTML newsletters through us for as little as 2 cents per recipient.
No matter what you decide to do with your list (and even if you don’t know what you’ll do with it), make sure to start building one. There’s nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain.
Ready to get started? Contact us today to start discussing your writer website!