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Selling Your Book Can Be A Snap

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

I, Bill Ruesch, have a confession to make. Although I’ve been in and around printing for some 35 years, book publishing is comparably new to me. You see, I did something that most Americans (somewhere around 80% wish they would do) I wrote a book. Actually I wrote four, one non-fiction, two poetry, and a novel, but that is beside the point. My novel would be my break through book. It  is a children’s fantasy story set in the fictional 1950’s small Florida town of Burns. It’s called The Whistlin’ Salamander. The thing is, I didn’t know what to do next.

Does that seem odd to you? I don’t mean to imply that I don’t know how to get a book printed. I could do that in my sleep. What I didn’t know was how to get it published. So, I turned to the Internet and bought several books on the subject.  I found tons of information on the business from landing an agent, to wooing a publisher. Publishers, for the most part, I was advised, won’t even look at a manuscript that hasn’t been presented by an agent, so I tried, and tried, to find an agent.

I learned about query letters. I came up with what I believed was a dandy, and made sure it was letter perfect. Agents, I read, have zero tolerance for grammar or spelling errors. I found out that different agents required different numbers of pages to sample your manuscript, and that I had to scrupulously follow every instruction or risk immediate rejection. I was very certain that they would love my letter and the submitted pages would be hailed. In my daydreams agents competed to sign me. That was the fantasy. The reality–not so much. Not only didn’t anyone bite, they didn’t even nibble.

What next, I thought?

Aha! An old friend Karen Christoffersen, I recalled, had worked with Richard PaKarenCul Evans author of the best-selling Christmas Box. Maybe Karen could help me. I called Karen and she told me that they were working on a program to teach self-publishers everything they needed to know through a practical hands-on method. At the completion, authors would receive fifty copies of their bookstore-worthy book printed, designed, edited, and proofread. That sounded like a good idea, but I already knew how to get all of the production things done. What I needed to know was how to sell my book. The great-agent-chase convinced me that traditional publishing wasn’t ready for me yet.

Karen introduced me to Phil Davis PhilDavisthe owner of ZDocs a digital printing company specializing in short-run books. Phil, being the savvy entrepreneur that he is, had created a course to teach authors how to use the Internet to establish or increase credibility, and to sell books. He named the course T.A.P.The Author Platform. I told Phil about my quandary and he gracefully allowed me to study TAP with the proviso that I would report back to him anything I didn’t understand. Hey, I could do that. Through The Author Platform I learned the importance of creating a blog. Viola, that’s what you are reading now. I learned about social networking and you can find me on Facebook , Linkedin and Twitter, I found out that through social networking you can reach thousands of people with your sales message in less time than it takes for one person to walk into a bookstore, pickup your book, and look at the jacket.

I’ve been practicing the principles Phil teaches in TAP.  I now know that self-promotional activities are challenging. They take time, they take energy, and they require all of your creativity. How well does it work? In just a few months I’ve become connected with amazing people all over the world that I could never have met in 10 lifetimes otherwise. My network gets stronger everyday. The more I learn the more I realize there must be thousands of people in the same boat as I was, authors stuck  somewhere along the path between writing a book to successfully selling it. My need became the incentive to develop The Red Hen Association of Self-Publishing Authors. You can read the manifesto, which is just a fancy way of saying vision and purpose by clicking here.

I’ve heard sad stories of garages full of self-published books that don’t sell because the authors don’t know what to do once they have them. I would heartily recommend The Author Platform as an excellent way to begin. It costs a little money, but compared to the cost of just storing unsold books, it’s a pittance. Knowledge truly is powerful.

Are Self-Publishers Saps?

Friday, June 19th, 2009

I hope you have been reading my information on The Red Hen Association of Self-Publishing Authors. If not, you may want to stop here and click on the manifesto. Today’s publishing reality is that approximately 4% of manuscripts submitted to publishers ever become books. If you have written a book you need to face the truth. The odds of getting your book published through traditional methods are slim to none.

Recently a self-publishing author of my acquaintance inked a deal with a major publishing company for some very large bucks, maybe the largest in history for a new author. How did he do it? I’ll tell you.

  • He is very well connected. He was one of the founders of The Franklin planners. His expertise was in training. This work brought him face-to-face with the biggest names in success and motivational circles Og Mandino, and the family of Victor Frankel. He was also able to borrow credibility from the likes of Spencer Johnson author of Who Moved My Cheese and co-author of The One Minute Manager; John Assaraf author of The Answer; Teacher in the Secret; Stephen M.R. Covey author of  The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People; and Richard Paul Evans author of The Christmas Box.
  • He brilliantly, if I do say myself, chose me to expedite the printing of his book. We worked together and created a showpiece book that in the words of one NY publisher, “Would stand up against the best in the industry.” What value is there in handing a prospective publisher a completed, well-crafted book instead of a dog-eared manuscript? You tell me.
  • His friends introduced him to a successful agent who believed in the potential of the book, plus the author is a very personable man and excellent salesman. You won’t get far in any enterprise of worth if you can’t effectively self-promote. If you expect your writing to save you by itself, you are mistaken. b21bdf9aWhy was Mark Twain one of the best selling American authors of all time? Was it the quality of his writing alone? No, I don’t believe it. The flamboyance of the man helped his career immeasurably. Think of other examples. Best selling authors have always had a hook, even the poet Emily Dickinson had her spinster sheltered life to engage readers. emily-dickinsonThe back story is important. Find yours and promote it.
  • The agent held an auction. She didn’t beg the book from publisher to publisher hoping to find one. She put it up on the action block and invited publishers to compete for it, and compete they did.

To duplicate his success would be very difficult. You’d have to have the connections and the support of the best minds in your field, but does a self-publisher have to sell millions of books to make money? No. In fact, you don’t have to sell very many books at all to make money. If you can get a book published for let’s say $5, and you can sell it for $19.95, you have a profit of $14.95 per book. One thousand books could bring you $15,000, and five thousand books would net $74,750. To sell five thousand books you are looking at less than 100 per week. How hard could it be to sell 100 books a week? If you market it right, go to book signings, use social Internet sites, and promote it with purpose, 100 books should be a snap. How about 200 or 300? Think about it.

If you have a Facebook account you can join The Red Hen Association group to keep abreast of the progress. Red Hen is also on Twitter under redhenassoc. As soon as our website is launched and we have established an opt-in program I’ll be announcing it. Membership will be free. Saftey in numbers will be invaluable. Please hop on board, we need you.

The Red Hen is Off the Nest

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

NHRedMy last blog entry was the manifesto for The Red Hen Association of Self-Publishing Authors. The manifesto is a statement of the vision and purpose. I can tell that I’ve hit the right chord with the authors because so many of you are stepping forward and want to participate. So let me bring you up to speed on where we are at this moment:

  1. Of course, the manifesto has been written and published on this blog. I’m hoping that others will pick it up and pass it around, hint, hint.
  2. While we are not yet ready to accept memberships, we should be in a week or less.
  3. We are ironing out the legal stuff by meeting with our attorney tomorrow.
  4. We’ve discussed the structure of the organization and are taking steps to formalize the company.
  5. We’ve been spreading the word to the experts we know who can aid authors to see if they are interested in coming on board.
  6. I’ve been thinking about and creating lists of rights and responsibilities of vendors. Certified suppliers will have to meet certain criteria before they could be recommended.
  7. I created a Red Hen group on Facebook, and would encourage interested authors to look it up and join, this way I can keep you updated regularly, plus we can have discussions about things like certification criteria. Through interaction we can learn from each other and find the best ways to meet the goals of the Association. Your input is vital.
  8. The logo is being developed. The red hen picture above is not the official logo, but it will do as a place holder for the time being.
  9. I’m thinking that surveys will be an excellent method of gathering information. I want to survey our members every time they use a recommended vendor to determine their levels of satisfaction.  Again, we learn from one another. If a vendor pops up as a problem too often they will be eliminated from the list. We have to protect each other from the predators. For example, within the last few months I was hired by BookWise a publisher’s support company to find the best printing price for a book they were handling. The author was an extremely personable woman from Texas who had gotten entangled with a questionable firm. After shelling out $40 Thousand Dollars, she had nothing to show for it. Once she moved her book over to BookWise they were able to do the whole thing for around one quarter the cost and she had a garage full of beautiful books to market. I hate to think ill of people, but there are those who would bleed you dry and give nothing but empty promises in return.
  10. We are investigating alternative marketing methods, in addition to the tried and true. We want authors to have the best chances of selling their books. This will be ongoing, like most of the things we are doing. The Red Hen Association will be dynamic and proactive in seeking opportunities for self-publishing authors.
  11. The blog site will be up this week and hopefully we will be ready with an opt-in program to receive the newsletter. Between the blog, newsletter, Facebook group, Twitter, and any other methods of communication that may come around, we will be able to keep members informed. After all, communication, is the life blood. Hey, I just thought of Twitter. I’ll open a Red Hen account as soon as I finish this blog entry.

I’m certain I’ve forgotten something important, but I can add it to another blog, Facebook, or Twitter for you all to follow. Thank you very much for your support. As you see we have a big job to do and have given ourselves a short time frame to do it. Any suggestions will be gratefully received–and that includes spelling or grammar corrections. I’m editable.

The Easy Way To Reach Bill Ruesch
He's available to help you with any of your printing, or publishing needs. Please contact him if you need a book, marketing materials, or anything else printed. His thirty-five years of experience, and thousands of happy customers is your guarantee of satisfaction.

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learn how to sell a ton of books with The Author Platform A practical, easy to use, Internet marketing education in four simple-to-follow modules. Contains everything you need to know to make your self-published book a smash.
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© Bill Ruesch, Talking Through My Hat, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bill Ruesch, Talking Through My Hat with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.