How to get featured in our app – Exhibit your book at a major book fair

All last week and this week we’ve been discussing marketing methods to get featured in the “Blog” category of the Outskirts Press app. We have established that the best way is to focus on being featured in one of these blog categories from our Outskirts Press blog:

Author Spotlights
Book Spotlights
Monthly Bestsellers
Virtual Book Tours
Award Winners
Book Fair Participants

We have already covered everything on this list except Book Fairs.

At Outskirts Press, we help our authors with the logistics involved in exhibiting their books at the four largest international book fairs: The London Book Fair, The Book Expo of America, The Beijing Book Fair, and the Frankfurt Book Fair.  Since we publish so many children’s books (with our illustration packages, it’s no wonder), we also help authors exhibit their children’s books at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair.

Not surprisingly, precious few authors have the resources to personally attend events in London, America, China, Germany, or Italy, respectively. But that doesn’t mean their book cannot attend and still get seen by agents, publishers, readers, and other industry insiders from those countries and around the world.  That’s where our Global Book Tour and a la carte Book Fair options come in.   When our authors have us facilitate their book’s exhibition at one or more of these book events, it includes a number of perks, including being listed on our blog and in our iPhone app prior to the event. Then, after the event, each author receives a “Post-Show Wrap-Up” with details about how to follow-up on any leads generated at the show, along with pictures of the event, like this one from this year’s BEA in New York.

And with that, we wrap up our topic on how to get featured in the “Blog” category on our iPhone app. Whew — that only took two weeks. Next we’ll discuss how to get featured in the other  categories in our iPhone app: “Authors,” “Videos,” and “Twitter.”

“How-To” Videos on YouTube for Self Publishing Authors

Over the past several posts I’ve been discussing different methods a writer — or anybody, really — can use to add video content to a YouTube channel for the purposes of self promotion, book promotion, company promotion, and/or search engine optimization. We have already discussed television commercials, book videos, book teasers, and platform videos.

The final method I’m going to discuss is the creation of “how-to” videos. These are typically low-budget, self-made, videos you shoot in the comfort of your own home using a home video camera, such as the affordable $200 “flip camera.”   Set-up the camera on a mini-tripod aiming at your mug, add a main light source and a secondary light source (so both sides of your face are illuminated), and then record away.

So then the question becomes, what do you record?  It depends upon the content of your book, or the purpose of your video channel.  Non-fiction authors have an advantage here, since the content of their books are more conducive to “how-to” videos.  But even fiction and poetry authors can create how-to videos by drawing a connection between the content in their books and a self-help concept. For example, an author of romantic fiction or poetry could record a series of “how-to” videos about how to behave on a first date, or how to dress for a fancy dinner, etc.

The point is, how-to videos are relatively popular on YouTube and do not need to feature expensive production values. In other words, the value is high in relation to the entry-barrier, which is low.  Another good idea is to feature the work or ideas of someone else, and then provide the appropriate attribution. This serves two purposes: 1) it gives your videos some credibility and 2) it may even persuade that other individual or company to promote your video to THEIR marketing lists, increasing your video exposure tremendously.

Lisa Orrell, a marketing coach, did just that with her “how-to” video that discusses methods for increasing book sales on Amazon.  Her video highlights ten of the tips I explain at length in my book Sell Your Book on Amazon.  Instead of canniblizing my ideas, she plugs my book very nicely in her video, in such a positive manner, I’m likely to promote her video (and therefore her company) to my lists.   Kinda like I’m doing now.   The result?  She creates a great video and gets further exposure for her business. In fact, the very nature of the way in which she leveraged these exact marketing concepts in her video impressed me so much that we partnered with her to offer a Social Networking Webinar to our authors.  It’s coming up on November 2nd, and the details are in our blog here.

Here’s her “how-to” video:

Altering the Amazon cover graphic

Yet another posting referring to the screen shot I took of an Amazon search results page which displays two larger graphics for my most recent book, The Highly Effective Habits of 5 Successful Authors.   Already we’ve discussed the importance of adding a Kindle edition to secure two such listings, and the importance of not having a white cover, lest it get “lost” among all the Amazon screen clutter. 

But what do you do if you have a white cover? Or what do you do if you want to increase the size of your book cover on Amazon (as I have done with many of my books). You change your cover graphic on Amazon…

I wrote on this topic a while ago, where I detailed the advantages of increasing the size of (and/or changing the color of) the Amazon cover. 

Take a look over to the right and see the cover of the second edition of SELL YOUR BOOK ON AMAZON (it’s right below Self-Publishing Simplified).

That’s how the cover looks of the actual book. But, strangely, that’s not how I want the cover image to look on Amazon.  And this has to do with online marketing in the new millennium, combined with the aspect ratio of books in relationship to the aspect ratio of the graphic footprint Amazon uses on its sales pages.  In other words, a 6×9 rectangular book cover is not OPTIMAL for use within a 260 x 260 square space, which is the graphic footprint Amazon allocates for product images on its detail pages.   Showcasing portrait-shaped books results in a graphic that is 260 pixels HIGH, but only uses 50% of the available WIDTH.  In other words, most book covers on Amazon sacrifice some of the space Amazon is giving to them.  And let me tell you, with the number of shoppers on Amazon, that is some expensive square-footage going to waste.

So, the solution is to provide Amazon with a different graphic other than the “actual” graphic of the book cover – one that is square rather than rectangular.  Of course, most books are rectangular (portrait) so this means you must ”change” the appearance of the cover.  You can either “squash it” so that the entire cover fits in a space that is 33% shorter. Or you crop off a portion of the cover in preference of greater online sales.  I opted for choice number 2.  

So when SELL YOUR BOOK ON AMAZON was first published in its first edition, I manually uploaded an alternate “square” cover image (doing anything “different” through Ingram or Amazon requires some manual intervention).  By “square” I don’t mean boring — rather I mean that it utilizes ALL the space Amazon allocates for the image, thereby making the cover image “bigger” than other cover images within search results, or even within Listmania or Guide listings (see the image of Sell Your Book on Amazon along the left-hand side of our screen shot for an example).

Of course, the more observant readers may also notice another difference between the Amazon version of the graphic above and the “real” version to the right — other than the shape.  Yes, the Amazon version is a nice garish YELLOW.  And this brings me to one of the most wonderful things about marketing on the Internet — you can have your cake and eat it, too.

What do I mean by that?  I would never design an actual cover of a book to look like the image above. It’s too… well, “ugly” for lack of a better word.  I don’t want ugly babies, because I submit my babies to contests and awards and I want them to have a chance to win.   But sadly, what makes an effective cover “in person” is not always the same as what makes an effective cover online.  That yellow sure is ugly, but when you’re scrolling through 25 books about self-publishing on Amazon’s search page, guess which image your eye is going to see first?  The big ugly yellow one… 

In other words, yes, you can have a great actual cover that wins lots of awards and you can have an image on Amazon that attracts lots of attention. Having your cake and eating it, too.

This marketing tactic isn’t just reserved for authors of “Amazon books” either — Outskirts Press is going to soon launch a new a la carte marketing service to help any author perform this function, regardless of where you decided to publish your book.

Previously on this blog I’ve provided other examples of this, and here’s a good link to one of those…

Self publishing book marketing services

I have been discussing the differences brought about to our business model with the introduction of Version 4 of our website at Outskirts Press.  The main difference is that we are starting to offer a la carte services to writers regardless of where/how they publish their book(s).  Of course, authors publishing with Outskirts Press get deep discounts.

I previously summarized the Writing Services. We also introduced a la carte book marketing services with the launch of Version 4 on Memorial Day weekend, and like with the Writing Services, we launched with a limited number of available options as a compromise to maxed resources and an aggressive launch date.

Out of the gate, the Marketing Solutions “aisle” of our new site featured 7 items:

  • 5 hours of Personal Marketing Assistance with one of our professional marketing experts
  • 5 Celebrity addresses and pitches with our Celebrity endorsements option
  • 500 customized bookmarks
  • 500 customized postcards
  • 500 customized business cards
  • 5 large posters (roughly 2 feet by 3 feet)
  • 25 small posters

We quickly added the Amazon Kindle Edition within a month after launch, since it is one of our most popular marketing services month in and month out. To encourage authors to publish with us, we offer deep discounts to our authors on all our new a la carte services. For instance, authors who have published their book with Outskirts Press can get an Amazon Kindle edition for 25% less than someone publishing elsewhere.   Even still, at $135 it’s the lowest price I was able to find for what we deliver (although I didn’t spend hours and hours looking around). And the best part of the deal, and one few of our competitors can match, is that the author keeps ALL their profits.  Amazon pays them directly, so they know Outskirts Press is not taking any of the Kindle revenue. We’re not even involved in the financial loop at all.  This alone is enough reason for many authors at competing publishers to eschew their publisher’s Kindle edition (if they offer it all) in preference for ours.

But with 8 marketing solutions available on an a la carte basis, we have a long way to go to introduce ALL the marketing services and products available to our authors. And a growing number of authors from elsewhere are starting to join us on that journey. We welcome them, and are excited to be helping them.

Sell Your Book on Amazon – cover tactic

Previously I discussed some of the cover issues to consider when publishing a book and marketing it on the internet, particularly Amazon.  I encouraged authors to consider altering the cover image they submit to Amazon to utilize a greater percentage of the “space” Amazon allocates for the image.

Let’s look at an actual example, using my book SELL YOUR BOOK ON AMAZON

Most people won’t search for your book by title or by your name. They will search on Amazon for a keyword or phrase that captures their interest. One of the very popular keyword phrases I optimize for is “book marketing.”  When conducting that search on Amazon today, my book appeared number 10 in the listings on the first page, as shown below:

It comes in directly below The Frugal Book Promoter and two places above Jump Start Your Book Sales.  But I’ll bet your eyes naturally gravitated to THOSE two books first, prior to mine in the image above.  Well, that’s not good — at least, not for me.  The white in my cover gets lost within the white of the webpage, while both those covers are bright. In fact, they’re yellow… hmmm, I wonder why that is…

Granted, The Frugal Book Promoter and Jump Start Your Book Sales are both very good online covers because, surprise surprise, they’re about book marketing, too!  The authors are experts in doing exactly what they’re doing for their own books.   My point is, in all likelihood, your book won’t be competing with marketing experts.  If your book is about bank financing, your competition may not be online marketing savvy, but that’s all the MORE reason to take steps to make YOUR book about bank financing outshine the others, right?

But which image does your eye gravitate toward in this next screen shot? It’s the same search for “book marketing” on Amazon. The titles are all in the same order… I’ve simply adjusted the image that comes up for my book cover:

My image is almost twice as big, which makes the title stand out more, and I’ve replaced the white with a bright, obnoxious yellow to attract attention.  I’m not trying to win any design contests here on Amazon — I’m trying to sell books!

This is an Amazon marketing option we’re considering offering to our authors, so we’re in the process of guinea pigging it — yes, I’ve made that an active verb again — with all my books and then keeping an eye on the Amazon Sales Ranking to see if it makes a statistical difference…

There are two problematic elements to this that we’re currently ironing out. The first is that the “larger” image gets degraded a little bit if Amazon adds the “Look Inside” graphic for Search Inside the Book books.  The second is that the Kindle edition graphic, in my opinion, looks too similar to the paperback and hardback editions on Amazon.  Sure, Amazon adds that little “kindle graphic” on the detail page. But I don’t think that’s good enough.  For example, due to the “look inside” graphic outlined above, you will notice on the screen shot below, that the Kindle edition of my book actually looks MORE appealing than the paperback.   There might be some situations where that’s preferable, but this isn’t one of them.

Hint: the first book is the paperback edition and the 3rd book is the Kindle edition.