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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Marketing Strategy 2: Create a Platform

Info in a Nutshell: Blog

So you've written a book, now is the time to get out there and speak and promote. Right?

Information in a Nutshell: You should *already* have a speaking platform before you begin writing the book.

So, now what do you do? First, if you have not finished your book, great. This information is very timely for you. If you already have a book, but it is in the draft form (or pre-publication) you are still in good shape. If you already have a book, every minute that ticks by is costing you money.

I have worked with people that don't have a speaking platform, and truthfully? It is much, much harder to sell their products. You may be surprised (or not) to learn that an Internet presence can count as a speaking platform. But, there are many very easy ways to maximize your exposure. How is anyone going to find out about your book? You may answer that it is the publisher’s job to promote your product, but sadly it is not.

You as the author know your book the best. You are passionate about your product or service. If you are not, then why would you bother? I've heard it all. I just want to write the book, attend my book signings and leave the marketing for someone else. If that is your opinion, I wouldn't want you as one of my authors, and I dare to say that most publishing houses would agree with me, except for the ones that take your money first, then say they will promote you.

Yes, there are some good Print on Demand groups out there that do a very nice job in getting you a finished product. But, they are pricey and the individual book cost is very high. I just spoke to an author’s wife the other day that shared the book she sells at 24.95 retail costs them 12.00 each to purchase through their POD. They books are available online, and can be ordered at book stores, and they have the individual ISBN number that is registered to the author. This is very important. If you learn nothing else from this blog, know that you should own your own ISBN number. It is your company fingerprint.

I will discuss the pros and cons of Print on Demand, and now is not the time, but just know that even you are paying someone else money, that doesn’t mean they will deliver. And, a real publisher won’t ask the author to pay for printing a book. In fact, they give you a contract with information about you making money.

Of course it goes without saying (but one can never assume that the reader is on the same page, so I will clarify exactly what I mean!)…if you are not a natural public speaker, please study the craft. Practice, learn, and take courses on communication skills. In rare instances books will take off without help from the author. But, these instances are rare.

What can you talk about? Well, the sky is the limit. If you are a non-fiction author you can talk about the topic of your book, or one or two points about the book. Are you an authority? Can you teach a topic? If you are a fiction author, many times you can stage a short book reading of a chapter or two. This is especially effective if you are a children’s book author. Or, you can talk about elements of writing a fiction story, detailing characterization for example.

So now you are well versed in public speaking, have some topics you can discuss, know to keep your talk to about one hour. Less is better, and be open to questions from the audience. You are ready to begin.

Here are some quick ways to get on the speakers trail:
• Begin one-on-one conversations with potential customers
• Volunteer
• Church Meetings
• Groups
• Fundraisers
• Internet
• Radio
• Television

One-on-One Conversations
I can not tell you the number of times I have shared that I am an author and publisher and I have been invited to speak. Just the other day I had lunch at a small restaurant with a potential client, only to find the proprietress was writing a book.

How many times do you find yourself in situations as a volunteer that an organization needs speakers? Once a big name did not show up for an event and the organization knew I was a versatile public speaker and asked me to fill in. I had a disappointed crowd on my hands, but soon had them laughing and all went away not as disappointed.

Church Meetings
A good number of authors I know began by teaching Sunday school classes, teaching women groups, and sharing with many people before writing one sentence. This is a great place to get your feet wet, and sell books down the road.

All good businesses are members of some groups and once these group leaders know your potential (which you will share of course), you may be asked to speak. Please be good at what you do or the repeat invitations will be slow in coming.

Use your book as a fundraiser and perhaps you can also be a speaker for the event. When you speak to a group like this it may need to be short. See what is needed and as the old adage says, try to fill the need.

Yes, many Internet gurus are making money hand over fist with their infomercials and products, eBooks, etc. But, unless your product is a good one and you have a persuasive speech, leave it to the experts.

This is a make it or break it time for many. You can either do great on the radio or very poorly. It is not the time to “wing it” but to practice your radio voice. I am one that does not like to hear my voice (yes, I even know the science behind this!), but I have grown comfortable with a microphone. I will soon be starting a BlogTalk Radio program, but this is after years of preparation.
I have been a guest for several years on other talk shows, live radio and internet radio, and created 4 DVD presentations with a live audience. I am not shy when it comes to public speaking. Before you begin your appear on someone else’s program, know what you will say and get some experience under your belt.

I have been invited to speak on television and have shunned all opportunities so far. That is not to say that I won’t change my mind in the future. The stage is easier for me at this point (or the Internet!). My partner on an online venture, appeared on a Public Broadcast television channel with world-wide coverage. Our website had over 50,000 unique IP hits for months after this…yes, you guessed it, from all over the world. This is a good way to maximize your potential. His was an interview and it is the most prized of all talk show seats.

Remember, you don’t need to start on television. The Internet is a wonderful way to begin. Work on your platform as you are finishing the book. The two really go hand in hand, and will make your publisher very happy! In fact you can possibly get a book contract because you have a following. Begin today.

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