Book blurbs

Before I mention book blurbs, I want to give you a bibliography of my books to look at. You can look most of these up on Amazon and see what the publishers did for book blurbs for them (I had a hand in some of the blurbs, but not all of them).

Here’s a lovely article about writing book blurbs. Although this is for fiction, it’s worth noting that the concepts are the same: you want to grab the reader’s attention and hold it, making them want to buy the book, take it home, and devour it.

When we are writing blurbs for non-fiction books, we’re not usually able to put a really compelling quote like “It shouldn’t be called ‘stalking’ if you’re really just trying to save someone,” (which is the opening line for a very good story I just heard about). But we can tell the reader why this book will answer questions about the topic that they hadn’t thought to ask and even pitch them on how this will make a positive difference in their effectiveness, their income stream, or their life.

A novel way of marketing (or a way of marketing novels)

People who enjoy fiction of all kinds should check out the Book View Café. To quote from their FAQ, the Book View Café is a cooperative site created by a group of writers who want to take advantage of the internet’s possibilities for reaching a wider audience and to distribute their work directly to their readers. There are many titles for sale, but there’s always some free, original fiction available for download. It’s a place that you need to look at for inexpensive, quality fiction.

Why am I bringing this up on a blog that’s focused on nonfiction? Well, apart from the fact that I think more people should buy fiction from the authors here, the BVC is a dazzlingly good idea for people who write and sell nonfiction, too. If you have a catalog of books, booklets, and brochures, you might consider creating a website that sells downloadable versions inexpensively and even gives some of them away. The value of a loss leader (that happens to talk about your other books on a page in the back with hot links) could be a lot, particularly if you’re writing books on related topics. You can use a giveaway ebook as a live marketing brochure that you’re guaranteed people will read.

Look carefully at the Book View Café website. It’s attractive and approachable. It’s also very easy to navigate. You could do far worse than to emulate what they’re doing. And while you’re there, consider buying an ebook or two!

Repost: “Blog Marketing Strategies for Authors – 7 Success Rules”

I’ve been having a lot of fun exploring LinkedIn groups about writing (something I recommend that everyone who reads this blog try). There are literally hundreds of LinkedIn groups for writers. (I’m making a note to do a future post on some of the groups you should look for.)

People who write blogs for writers frequently post links to articles. (We all do it.) My last post was a link to an article on the WOW! blog. Today’s post is about a blog by Judy Cullins on book coaching and a recent post of hers: Blog Marketing Strategies for Authors – 7 Success Rules.

Finding all these blogs is fun, but I’m not going to be able to explore them to the level I’d like until I’m done with the current book. Oh, well, I’ll have more motivation to finish besides getting enough sleep.

Why self-publishing may be a good idea

I recently got an interesting email from someone in a Linkedin writers’ group. He asked met about the value of self-publishing:

I am of two minds about self-publishing. On the one hand, I can’t get away from the idea of the “vanity press,” which meant little more than a bindery service, where you ended up with a garage full of books you had to market (usually to unsuspecting friends and family). And the idea of paying someone to publish me, instead of the other way around, is also a tough pill to swallow.

On the other hand, members of this and other groups praise the idea highly. And the writer Kristine Kathryn Rusch, in her blog, has done a complete 180-degree turnaround on the issue in about a year, and now sees it as the next wave of publishing and distribution. So I don’t know what to think.

Have you made a profit, or at least earned back your initial investment? Are your ideas getting exposure? How much of your own publicity have you had to do?

I really liked this. I used to also not be a fan of self-publishing, not because it was bad somehow, but there was a ton of work to be done with it and I didn’t see how to do the marketing and distribution. But thankfully, the Internet has changed all that.

As with almost everything else I do with writing and publishing, my reasons for self-publishing the current book are economic: I stand to make a bunch more money doing the book myself.

The current book is technical, dealing with a software product. If I went with a standard publisher of this kind of technical book, I’d need to show them that this book was likely to generate at least 8-10K sales in 18-24 months. I can’t do that; I’m thinking that I’ll probably sell 2000 copies in that time (based on the marketing information, the phase of the moon, and that Seven of Clubs you have in your hand). That’s just not worth it to a standard publisher. But even if I *COULD* generate that many sales (and I’d be glad to be wrong), the economics wouldn’t be worth it for me: I’d make, oh, $1.50-$2.00/copy for a potential total of $15,000-$20,000. That’s not a lot of money for the 4 months of work getting this out, even assuming I was able to sell that many copies.

Now, let’s look at self-publishing. For this particular book, I’m going to be handling the printing myself with a standard printer, rather than POD through Lulu or the like. (I’m also looking at ebook options, but go with me on the idea of printing because it’s a fixed cost.) Quotes that I’ve received are $6900 delivered for 2000 copies of a standard 9″ x 7″ trade paperback. Adding in all the other costs I’m incurring and my cost of goods will probably be about $5/copy. My sales price for this book is going to be $39.95 initially and $49.95 six months down the road.

If I sell all 2000 copies at the initial price, I’ll make $80,000, less the $10K this is all going to cost me to set everything up, for a gross revenue of $70,000 for four months work. In addition, part of my effort has been setting up a publishing company, Double Tall Press, to go along with all of this, so I’ll have a publishing venue of my very own with website, logos, brand, and so on. (The website has a placeholder at With luck, I’ll have a draft of my new website there very soon.)

Marketing for this book will be something handled largely through the company whose product I’m writing about, as it inures massively to their benefit to have this book out there. Future scheduled books have different marketing requirements that I’m addressing appropriately for each one.

Vanity presses are vanity presses, without a doubt, whether they’re classic printers or they’re online POD houses. But self-publishing can definitely work out for you.

Repost: How to sell lots and lots of your books

Speak Without Interruption, a blog worth following, recently had an interesting article about how to sell lots and lots of your books. This article briefly discussed how to use the Internet to sell your books by providing samples on your website and elsewhere.

I wanted to add that this is a major thrust of Amazon’s marketing, where they have the “Look inside this book!” option that lets you thumb your way through the TOC, the index, and a few pages to give you the flavor of what you’re getting. Not every book has this, but I’d wager that a majority of books in print do because it’s a smart way to go.

My upcoming book, being a book for a specific audience (still can’t say at this moment), will have a sample chapter available in PDF format from a number of venues (again, I can’t say specifically yet) that interested readers can download and review. If the book looks like it’s worth it at that point, they can buy it. I’m probably going to peddle it through Amazon, even though they take a 50% bite of the action, simply because it’s worth the exposure.