Archive for Platform Building
Spirit Authors is well-known for its ‘bestseller’ book launches. So why is book marketer Lynn Serafinn advising an alternative plan for marketing your book?
A couple of weeks ago, a new client sent me an email asking, ‘How many social media followers would you consider “enough” for me to move onto planning a full book launch?’
My reply to her was that there was no simple answer to this, as there were so many variables. As I was explaining these variables in some detail in my email, it occurred to me that my readers here on Spirit Authors would probably also like to know the answer to this question. So today, I’ll be looking at the factors that I believe contribute to a successful book launch, as well as an alternative to the big ‘bestseller launch’, which I believe is a viable, economical and more sustainable book marketing option for many new authors.
The Golden Era of Launches
My first exposure to ‘bestseller book launches’ (also called ‘Amazon launches’) was in 2008 when I attended a seminar in London with Janet Switzer, one of the marketing brains behind the book Chicken Soup for the Soul. That was the first time I had ever heard of ‘joint venture partners’ and the idea of collaborative Internet marketing campaigns. It was clear that the key to success was in the strength of your network. One person even naively asked Janet if she would share her partner mailing list with us (!). Of course, she gracefully declined, explaining that this was not only a breach of confidentiality, but that she had spent years cultivating and nurturing the relationships with these partners. The people on that list would have no relationship with the new person. Thus, without relationships, the list would be of no value whatsoever – even though, for Janet, it was THE most valuable asset she had.
(As an aside, in hindsight I realise that what Janet did NOT talk about was the fact that the ‘Chicken Soup’ books themselves are collaborative projects, as they are comprised of dozens of different authors. That’s a whole different subject I won’t delve into here, but it is a major defining factor in the success of these books.)
I had attended the seminar because I was just about to self-publish my book The Garden of the Soul, and wanted to get ideas for how to give it a good ‘birth’. While the seminar opened my eyes, it also raised more questions than it answered, and I embarked on a quest to research everything I could find on the subject. I incorporated ideas I liked, and discarded those I didn’t. But the one thing I could see would be the biggest determining factor in my success would be my network. I started a radio show. I created free Garden of the Soul audio meditations. I made Garden of the Soul video poems for YouTube. I started blogging on a special site just for the book. But the most effective thing I did was set up a Garden of the Soul network on Ning. Sadly, no longer a very popular social media platform, many of my closest network partners today originally came from my Ning network. It was a lovely ‘micro-universe’ where I made close connections with a few hundred people who were 100% committed to helping me when my book came out a few months later. As a result, I was able to get the book to #18 in the spirituality category on Amazon, which wasn’t bad for a one-person act who had never done a book launch before. I was able to return the favour by having many of these people as guests on my radio show. Dozens of them continue to be my book launch partners today, and a few even became book marketing clients.
Since then, I’ve coordinated dozens of book launches for clients. I have a superb team who know exactly what to do and when. It’s become ‘systematised’ to such a degree that I can pretty much guarantee a client will hit #1 (or at least #2) in one or more category on Amazon. With each launch, my network of partners grows, and our relationships become stronger. Now my own circle of partners (along with my team) has become my most valuable business asset.
To Launch or Not to Launch?
So far, you might be thinking, ‘Great. All I need to do is find a person like Lynn or Janet who has a strong partner list and I can do a bestseller book launch.’
Well, when I was just starting out doing these launches as a business, I also made that assumption, thinking my clients could ‘ride on my coat-tails’ so to speak. But let me tell you from experience, this assumption is completely WRONG.
After a year or so of doing book launches, I started to see some patterns:
- CLIENT A: Those clients who depended primarily upon my partner network might get to #1, but it was harder to get them there and it didn’t necessarily result in big sales. Furthermore, once the launch was over, it was sort of like, ‘Ok, I’ve spent all this time and money. Now what do I do with myself and my book?’
- CLIENT B: Those clients who had strong partner networks of their own (which were then combined with my network) would rise to the top of the charts more quickly, and stay there longer, resulting in more book sales overall. However, as books are cheap, it was only on rare occasions that their profits from these sales would cover the expenses they had laid out to do the launch. Thus, they’d write it off as a business expense, and just return to ‘business as usual’ after the launch, meaning the launch made no significant change to their business.
- CLIENT C: Those clients who had strong partner networks AND who had ‘spin off’ products and follow-up offers for their customers not only made better book sales, but they also made residual income after the launch. This was the only group who actually profited financially from doing a book launch.
As I saw these patterns emerging, I decided I would no longer offer book launches as an option to clients in the ‘A’ category. I felt it was unethical to ask them to commit so much time and money for something that would give them ’15 minutes of fame’ and then a big crash and burn (if not a credit card debt) at the end of the tunnel. Instead, I worked with them to build their marketing platforms and their networks – sometimes for as long as a year. Some would go on to do a book launch, but many didn’t feel the need, seeing the platform building as a steady and sustainable alternative to business growth and book sales.
Clients in Category C, obviously, had the greatest potential to benefit from doing a book launch, and I am happy to do a launch project with them.
Clients in Category B are ‘borderline’. What I tend to do with these clients is work with them for a while to create their follow-up offers so they can ‘ascend’ to Category C before their launch.
Back to the Question of the Day
OK. Now, taking all that context into consideration, let’s get back to my client’s question: ‘How many social media followers would you consider “enough” for me to move onto planning a full book launch?’
What you might notice is that, so far, I haven’t even MENTIONED social media followers. When I referred earlier to ‘strong partner networks’, I was NOT talking about big mailing lists or large numbers of followers on Twitter or Facebook.
That’s not to say that large social networks are not important. The fact is that your partners will appear from these networks. Of course, it’s up to you to recognise potential partners and cultivate your relationship with them (I talk a lot about this in my Twitter book Tweep-e-licious).
Numbers have to be looked at in context. For one thing, the number of ‘followers’ that is considered substantial will vary from one social media network to another. While 2,000 Facebook friends is a lot, it’s not particularly exceptional on Twitter. Also, low numbers in one network can be offset by exceptionally high numbers elsewhere. For example, one of my clients has a minimal presence on Twitter, but has over 60,000 fans on his Facebook fan page.
But most of all, it’s not just about quantity, but about quality. Things I would assess before considering someone for a book launch are:
- The level of engagement they have in their social networks (quantity and quality)
- The amount and quality of informational content they have created and shared online
- The degree to which that content reinforces their overall brand message
- The amount and consistency of traffic they are driving to their website every day
- Their mailing list size AND the consistency/relevance of their communication with that list
- And, as already mentioned, the level of connection they have to potential PARTNERS who have equally solid platforms as them
I hope you can see that making the decision to embark on a book launch cannot be reduced to a numeric equation. The decision comes from looking at a combination of factors, including your marketing platform, your partner network and your business/brand development. Think of a finely crafted watch. The only way it works is: 1) for all the parts to be of good quality; 2) for them to be assembled and working together as a unit correctly and; 3) for them to be maintained regularly.
Frankly, I think the ‘golden era of book launches’ is dying out. I believe building a solid platform and making a plan for how your book marketing will support your business growth is far more important that the ephemeral ‘rush’ you’ll get from being #1 for a day. It’s like winning the X-Factor and then not being able to make a career out of singing.
This is why we at Spirit Authors (now a branch of the 7 Graces Project CIC) have been focusing more and more deeply on developing a range of platform-building packages for our clients. We feel, for the majority of clients, these options give greater long-term value and are more sustainable than a book launch.
If you’re writing a value-rich book, you run an independent ethical business, or you’re planning to launch a new product in 2014, have a look at our platform-building packages and then drop us a line via the contact form on this site to set up a free 30 minute consultation to discuss your needs.
11th December 2013
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LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.
Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.
Guest blogger Nancy Goodyear Virtual Assistant shares tips for writing articles that will make your audience sit up and take notice of what you have to say.
As a Virtual Assistant, I help independent business owners build their social media presence. The biggest part of what I do is proofreading blog articles. I always approach proofreading as a reader, so I don’t just look for typos, but for readability. I read the article aloud to myself to see how the words flow, how they sound and, most importantly, so I can hear if the article makes sense.
In my work with clients, I have noticed that many new bloggers tend to make the same mistakes. For that reason, I’d like to share my top 7 tips for writing blog articles that are informative and easy to read.
TIP 1: Know WHO you are writing for
Although this may seem self-evident, you must always remember that you are writing for someone else—your reader! But this is often all too easy to forget when you are absorbed in getting your idea down on paper.
Before you start writing, ask yourself Who is my reader? They’re probably your customers or potential customers. They’re probably people who share similar beliefs and values to you. Or, they might be people who are simply curious and want to know more about you and what you stand for.
If you know who your reader is, it will be easier to imagine them as you write. If you find it difficult to think of them as a group, you might find it easier to imagine a single reader and write just for that person.
TIP 2: Know WHAT you are writing about
Be really clear what you want to tell your reader. What do you want them to learn from this article? If you don’t pin this down before you start writing, your article will be vague, and is likely to go off on tangents and be hard for your reader to follow.
Take the time to plan your article so you know it will do its job when it’s done. Once you know the message of the article – STICK TO THE POINT! If you find yourself straying off the point but you don’t feel you want to delete the tangent and move on, save the subject of your tangent for a future article.
Also, consider the impact you want your article to have on your reader. Do you want to make them think about something in a different way? Do you want to make them angry about some injustice in the world? Or do you want to warm their hearts and make them smile. Again, if you know the answer to these questions before you start, it will flavour your article as you write it and you will be able to assess whether you have achieved that when the article is finished.
TIP 3: Remember that your reader is NOT a mind reader
You might know your subject matter inside-out and back-to-front, but remember that your readers probably do NOT share your same insight. They don’t necessarily know you personally so they don’t know what you think or feel. They don’t share your experiences or knowledge or even your opinions about your subject. And yet, it’s really easy to make intellectual leaps without realising it, leaving your poor reader wondering whether they’ve missed something. In the worst cases, you’ll leave the reader not being able to understand the most crucial point of your article, because you assumed they ‘got’ what you meant without really explaining it.
This is when having someone else proofread your articles come in handy. An objective reader is in a much better position to see what needs further explanation and what doesn’t.
If you have an international audience, also consider the examples you give. I recently proofread an article that referred to American TV networks and TV programmes. As a Brit, I didn’t have a clue what they meant. The author of the post was American and hadn’t realised the names wouldn’t mean anything at all to a UK audience.
The same applies to acronyms and jargon that is specific to your field. Don’t assume your average reader will know what they mean. At the very least write acronyms out in full the first time you use them. And simply try to avoid using jargon. Jargon could be specific technical words or words that are in everyday use that are used in a different way in your field.
NB: if something needs explanation and the explanation doesn’t seem relevant to the article, then consider the possibility that the point is actually an unnecessary tangent and remove it.
TIP 4: Don’t make your reader WORK too hard
It is important to use sentences that flow nicely, which are neither too long nor too short.
Sentences that are too short are choppy and unsettling. There is no flow to the article and it can be hard to see how one sentence links to the next.
On the other hand, very long sentences can be incredibly confusing for your reader. If you use too many sub clauses (phrases between commas that explain what came before), or too many brackets, or too many lists (like I’m doing here) it can be really hard for your reader to follow the thread of the sentence. Sometimes when I’m proofreading, in order to understand the basic message of the sentence, I have to read it leaving out all the extra bits so I can see what the sentence is actually saying.
You might feel that all of these extra bits and pieces are necessary to make sure your reader has all the information they need in order to understand the article, but this information will be lost if it is presented in such a way that the poor reader has to concentrate hard just to piece it all together.
Making your readers work too hard will backfire on you, as they will probably give up before reaching the end of your article, and will be unlikely to return to your site another day.
TIP 5: Have the COURAGE of your convictions
As the author of a blog article, you are the teacher teaching the message of your article. As the teacher it’s up to you what you put in and what you leave out. You need to decide what is essential to this article for this audience at this time and what can be left out or saved for a follow up article.
Too often, people try to get everything into their articles and end up with long lists of examples, lots of explanatory sub-clauses, lots of tangents and too many either/or’s. You can over-explain for fear of leaving something out or offending someone or being challenged on what you’re saying. If you fall into this trap, you run the risk of seeming uncertain of your message and you will certainly dilute the power of your message by making it too hard for your reader to follow it.
The antidote to this is to practice the Grace of DIRECTNESS (from Lynn Serafinn’s book The 7 Graces of Marketing). A good exercise, if you have this tendency, is to decide what you want to say and say it by the most direct route, that is in the fewest possible words. It will probably look very bare and blunt but you can flesh it out later with adjectives and explanation where it’s needed in order to make it flow.
TIP 6: Be Mindful of the Impact of Your PRONOUNS
This is a subtle one. Perhaps you want to write an article that challenges the way your reader thinks or what they believe. There’s nothing wrong with this. But sometimes your choice of pronoun can create the impression you are accusing or attacking your readers, or making them ‘wrong ‘. For example, if you use the pronoun ‘you’ you are removing yourself from the sentence. In doing so, you can sound accusatory, i.e., ‘You are wrong, I am right ‘.
On the other hand, if you use the pronoun ‘we’ you are including yourself in the sentence. Sometimes, this can sound a bit too cosy or can even be inappropriate if you are not actually part of the group you are talking about. There’s nothing wrong with saying something like ‘We’re in this together’ if you are talking about ‘we, the human race’. But if you are, for example, a man talking specifically about women’s experiences, saying ‘we’ is inappropriate and perhaps even a bit patronising.
If you use the pronoun ‘I’ you are excluding your audience and it can sound too personal and confessional if you’re not careful. It’s useful if you are sharing a personal anecdote to illustrate a point but can be too much like a rant if you write a whole article about something like the destruction of the planet entirely from your own perspective.
TIP 7: Inspire with your PASSION
In TIP 2, I carefully avoided suggesting that you might want to inspire your reader with your article. The reason for this is that I believe if you set out to inspire you are likely to fall flat on your face. You will be tempted to use words like ‘amazing ‘, ‘life-changing ‘, ‘awesome ‘ and even ‘inspirational ‘. You will be tempted to use loads of bold, shouty fonts, and loads of exclamation marks!!!!!!!!
The truth is, if you set out to inspire, it can sound really bossy and fake. Neither of which are particularly inspirational. When you write like this, your reader will think, Yeah, so what?! Stop telling me what to feel, stop telling me how I’m supposed to respond to this article, I’ll make my own mind up, thank you!
You can’t tell someone to be inspired any more than you can tell them to love you. But inspiration itself IS contagious. If you really want to inspire your reader, write about something that inspires you. Let your passion and inspiration shine through your words. Show your readers how YOU are inspired by whatever it is you are writing about. In this way, they are more likely to be ‘infected’ by your inspiration.
The best advice I can give you is this: once you’ve finished writing your article, read it aloud to yourself (or even better get someone else to read it for you). This will tell you:
- How the words will sound to your reader
- Whether it is easy to understand
- Whether there are any bits that need more (or less) explanation
- Whether you’ve gone off on a tangent
- Whether you’ve been too wishy-washy and timid in your message
- Whether it sounds too aggressive or argumentative
- Whether you have succeeded in saying what you set out to say
- Whether you have managed to create the impact you intended
I help independent business owners and authors with their blog articles every day of the week. My aim is to get their message out to the right audience through regular blogging and social media, so their businesses and sales can flourish. For this to happen, their blog content must be relevant, understandable and well-received. These 7 tips are essential ingredients to achieve this.
If you would like to explore the many benefits of strategic blogging, I invite you to contact Lynn and me at Spirit Authors to discuss our Platform Builder packages. These are 13-week programmes where we work with you to create an effective blogging strategy for YOUR audience, and support you by doing a lot of the ‘legwork’ to get your articles edited, proofed, published and distributed to your network. To speak to us about our Platform Builder packages, drop us a line via the contact form on this site and we can set up a free 30-minute consultation.
If you have found this article useful, please SHARE it and leave a comment below.
Nancy V Goodyear
5th June 2013
Nancy V Goodyear is Virtual Assistant & Life Coach who loves to help social entrepreneurs and small business owners get organised. With a BA (Hons) in Learning Disability Nursing, she has extensive professional experience working in health & social care within the non-profit sector. She is fluent in French having lived in France for some time. She is a graduate of the Coaches Training Institute and the Co-Active Leadership programme. She is especially enthusiastic about creating and nurturing innovative business relationships and partnerships, both within and between companies and sectors. Her over-riding aim in all her work is to help you create space so you can focus on reconnecting to who you are and how this awareness relates to your business, what you and your business need, and your dreams, passions and desires.
NOW You Can Get The Spirit Authors Blog
Delivered Directly to Your Kindle!
Now you can have access to the latest tips in writing, publishing and book marketing everywhere you go. Get our Spirit Authors articles delivered 1-2 times a week directly to your Kindle for only 99 cents a month (77pUK). Instead of reading someone else’s book on your way to work, get information on how to make your OWN book a success.
LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She was recently named one of the Top 100 marketing authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was selected as a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. Her eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Through her company Spirit Authors, her marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling self-help and mind-body-spirit authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project, a budding social enterprise whose aim is to help grow a new generation of passionate entrepreneurs who want to serve both people and planet through innovative, ethical, independent enterprise.
When authors have a book launch, they very often gather together a group of network partners to support the launch by offering a bonus gift. Offering a bonus gift for someone else’s launch can be a great way to find new targeted subscribers for your mailing list (see more information about why you might wish to join a campaign at the end of this article).
I manage many book launches every year, and every time I do it’s necessary for me to give some guidance to network partners about what makes a good, appropriate and effective bonus gift. If you are going to be offering a bonus gift for a book launch, it is essential you choose the right kind of bonus gift AND present it properly. Otherwise, you are likely to be very disappointed with the results of all your efforts.
I thought I’d share this information with my blog readers because it is not only relevant to bonus gifts for book launches, but pretty much to any kind of special offer you might use for leads generation. These guidelines are based upon years of experience in what works and doesn’t work in YOUR best interest, and hopefully increase the probability of opt ins for you.
What IS a good bonus gift?
- It must be 100% FREE
- It must be DOWNLOADABLE
- It should be something special that is NOT routinely and easily accessible via your website (especially your home page!).
- It must be in a format accessible to most (PDF, MP3, MP4 are all recommended formats).
- Suggested gifts include eBook, special report, audio course, eCourse, templates, video series, etc.
What is NOT a good bonus gift?
- An offer of a discount for something they must buy.
- An offer of free coaching or consulting (see more below).
- An offer of a free place on a live course on a specific date.
- Something you would have to send to people via snail mail.
- Something which would cost YOU money to give (such as a printed book).
- Something in a non-universal format (e.g., an eBook in MS Word doc format would not be acceptable).
- Something anyone could easily find by visting your website.
What is an “opt in page” and why do I need it?
Your opt in page is the place where people will come to REQUEST (not receive) your bonus gift. It should include a sign up form where they are required to enter their name and email (I suggest you do NOT ask for any other information).
How do I get a sign up form?
Any email delivery or autoresponder system such as AWeber, GetResponse, Constant Contact or Mail Chimp will allow you to create a sign up form. If you don’t have any of these services, I recommend you get one. Mail Chimp is free for the first few hundred subscribers.
What should my “opt in page” look like?
It should be VERY basic with no distractions, such as outbound links, adverts, etc. It should ONLY show your bonus gift and the opt in form. It should be on a special stand-alone page that is NOT on the home page of your website.
What happens after people sign up?
The opt in form will have a function where you can tell it where to send people after they sign up. They should be taken DIRECTLY to a download page. THEN, you should also set up an automated follow up message that says something like, “Thanks for downloading my bonus gift (Title of Gift). Just in case you didn’t get the chance to download it, here’s the link to the download page again: (link to the page).
But I’m looking to get clients. Why can’t I offer free coaching (or whatever it is you do)?
Frankly, because you never will be able to fulfill the requests you will receive.What if you receive 100 requests? Are you prepared to give away 100 precious hours of your time? You shouldn’t be. If people are asking for free coaching and have no intention of hiring you, you are simply wasting both their time and yours.
Instead, give people a free downloadable gift (eBook, MP3, etc) that costs you no time to deliver, and then, if you want, put a message at the end of the eBook that you will offer a free consultation to the first 10 requests, or something along those lines.
But I want people to visit my website so they can check out my products and services. Why can’t the opt in page have info about these?
Please remember, on these launches people will be clicking to receive DOZENS of free gifts. They are not interested in checking out anyone’s site while they are doing this. It’s overwhelming enough for them (yes, it’s actually overwhelming for people to have so much choice). If you overwhelm them further with “information overload”, or it looks like you are trying to sell them something, they will CLICK AWAY from your page. Trust me, I have had many a JVP not follow my advice, and not receive but a handful of opt ins during a campaign.
Personally, I typically get hundreds of opt ins on my bonus gifts BECAUSE I make simple, not distracting pages that do not attempt to “sell” people anything. Remember: once people are on your list, you can send follow up messages with information on how to take the content further. You can also put this information IN the product itself (in fact, you should).
~ EXAMPLE ~
If you want to see an example of a bonus page that receives LOTS of downloads every week,
so you can try to model your page after it, have a look at this one:
~ JOIN A CAMPAIGN ~
If you would like to be a partner on a book launch, check out the latest campaign I am running HERE:
~ NOT SURE WHY YOU WOULD WANT TO BE A PARTNER? ~
Find out 7 reasons why you would want to partner on someone else’s book launch NOW in an article I wrote:
I hope you have found this information helpful! And do check out my upcoming book launches, and come join us if you like.
Until next time, I send you warm wishes,
About Lynn Serafinn, Creator of Spirit Authors
Lynn Serafinn is a transformation coach, book promotion coach, radio host and bestselling author of the book The Garden of the Soul: lessons from four flowers that unearth the Self.
Her upcoming book, The 7 Graces of Marketing, is coming in June 2011.
She also works as a campaign manager for mind-body-spirit authors and has produced a long list of top-10 book campaigns, including many #1-sellers. She created Spirit Authors to offer training, coaching, business-building and inspiration for mind-body-spirit authors, whether established or aspiring. Contact Lynn about YOUR book project at at http://spiritauthors.com/contact.
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