Archive for the ‘Book excerpts’ Category

Moss Rock Review – January 2012

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

Where is Storytelling headed?

With the sale of perhaps 12 million tablets during December alone (guestimating 3 million Amazon Kindle Fire, 6 million Apple iPad, and 3 million combined for Nook Tablet, Kobo Vox and other Android tablets), the purchasing power of owners of these devices is throwing the book industry into a tizzy. People who own tablets are showing an overwhelming preference for buying and reading ebooks and apps, rather than buying printed “dead tree” editions. Sales of ebooks are now surpassing those for either of hardcover and paperback editions, and in some genres ebooks are outselling both paper editions combined. Purchasing is steadily shifting from neighbourhood stores to online outlets, such as Apple’s iBookstore and Amazon’s Kindle store. Publishers, editors, illustrators, designers, agents and authors are scrambling to adapt.

The ebook market is already splitting into two streams: basic ebooks and apps. Basic ebooks are typically created in ePub format (not unlike .html or .rtf or .txt formats), and are essentially a stream of text that can be read on a smart phone, iPod or first-generation eReader, such as the Kindle. By comparison, apps for iPhone and tablets can be all-singing, all-dancing elaborate productions, with narration, animation, videos, interaction and a mini-library of background material. As the tablet-owning audience grows, the pressure is increasing on publishers to create these expensive and technically complex app editions.

Our Agio Publishing House had the wonderful opportunity to create Canada’s first enhanced (also called amplified) ebook app for iPad, which was released in December. It is called “Cool to be Clever: the story of Edson C. Hendricks, the genius who invented the design for the Internet.” That experience drove home to me many differences between producing an iPad app and our usual work in producing printed editions.

CONTENT: for a printed book, an editor is generally culling out extraneous material and honing the words to tightly guide the reader through a linear reading experience. For an app, background material and related features are not only possible, they are expected, so the editor/producer/director is curating a multi-media, multi-path experience.

DESIGN and FORMAT: the design of the printed book is an art form refined over centuries. Generally there were only two editions, hardcover and paperback, which are substantially similar to produce. However, to create an app, new (to most publishing houses) concepts and skills are in play: digital video and audio, animation, games, interaction, social media linkages… Plus there can be multiple versions to suit all the sizes of screens and orientations for iPhone through to iPad, and systems from Apple’s iOS to various flavours of Android OS.

AUTHOR’S ROLE: traditionally the author’s skill was to stir the reader’s imagination through choice of words in a line-by-line, page-by-page sequence. An enhanced ebook app still requires the foundation of a strong narrative story, but also needs scriptwriting and illustration and direction/choreography of all the diverse elements. The “reader” is encouraged to be actively involved. In many ways, app-creation goes even beyond producing a stage play or film.

DOING IT YOURSELF: over the past two decades, with the introduction of personal computers, word processors, low-cost graphics programs, print on demand (POD) and internet distribution, indie authors and small publishing houses have been increasingly equipped to participate in the book and basic ebook marketplace. Low-cost and simple-to-use tools for self-publishing an enhanced app are just beginning to appear (Apple’s iBooks Author is a prime example), but a creator does need to master (or gather collaborators for) the many disciplines required, such as filming and producing videos, recording and editing audio, directing, etc.

LONGEVITY: printed books that are centuries old can still be easily read. Books printed today will still be usable for centuries to come. Sadly, today’s ebooks and apps, because of the steady changes in computer formats, will likely not be functional even 5 years from now (like those 8-track music cassettes in your attic).

REVENUES and ROYALTIES: publishers of printed books are lucky to net 30% of the retail price after paying for printing, and pass on about one-fifth of that to the author. By contrast, for ebook and app sales, the publisher gets a whooping 70% of the retail price. Literary agents are working to see authors receive about half of that.

In case anyone has doubts about the “masses” affording tablets, the retail price of some of these devices has already dropped below $200 and prices could drop significantly during 2012. As the prices tumble, more people will buy them (in many cases abandoning their PCs), and the pressure on publishers will increase to have multiple editions of books/ebooks/apps to serve this demanding marketplace.

In India, their government is distributing to poor school children millions of tablets, each costing only $35 (yes, thirty-five dollars!) to produce. By providing free online access to a full kindergarten-to-grade-12 curriculum of school courses, India is hoping a whole generation of children from the slums can essentially home-school/ distance-educate themselves into higher education.

A decade from now India’s investment in its children’s education will create a huge market for Victoria authors’ creativity. So keep on writing! And let your imagination run wild about what the final product(s) could look like and encompass.

(c) copyright 2012, Bruce Batchelor

New kids app reveals who invented the Internet: COOL story tackles bullying and being “different”

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

COOL to be CLEVER app for iPad is available today!

For immediate release
contact: Producer Bruce Batchelor, bruce.batchelor@gmail.com, 250-380-0998
www.agiopublishing.com/coolapp

(Victoria, BC, and San Diego, CA)
Is your child intentionally getting lower grades to avoid being ridiculed as a ‘nerd’ or a ‘geek’? A just-released iPad app provides an inspiring message: “It’s COOL to be CLEVER” — based on the true story of Edson C. Hendricks, the genius who invented the design for the Internet.

When Hendricks was bullied at school as a youngster, he retreated into an imaginary world where he had machine parts, rather than biological organs and emotions. Years later, as a computer scientist working in IBM’s Cambridge Scientific Center in the early 1970s, Hendricks’ unique ability to “think like a machine” led him to invent VNET, the world’s first “connectionless” communications network.

VNET quickly spread to link IBM’s facilities around the world, then spawned other networks using Hendricks’ software, including EARN in Europe, NETNORTH in Canada, BITNET and USENET/UUNET in the USA. In the early 1980s, this connectionless design became the basis of the new inter-networking (“internet” for short) standards.

Developed by Agio Studios (part of Agio Publishing House of Victoria), COOL to be CLEVER is available as of December 1st on Apple’s App Store. The script was written by children’s book author and former teacher Leanne Jones. Now a private investigator, Jones uncovered Hendricks’ role as Internet inventor while interviewing retired US intelligence officers for a novel she’s writing. Hendricks now lives in San Diego, California.

“I wrote the COOL story to inspire and encourage others who may feel they are ‘different’ and may be bullied or stigmatized,” said Jones. “They may have important ideas that will change society like the Internet has.”

The app includes up-to-date bullying prevention tips and research provided by the Canadian Red Cross, The Council for Exceptional Children and the US Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports.

“For the app, we videotaped twelve interviews with Mr. Hendricks, on how his mind works, true inventions, overcoming bullying, predicting the future, tips for programmers and other topics,” said app producer and director Bruce Batchelor. “His voice was so rich that we then asked him to narrate the story — which he did superbly.”

Internet history junkies will find a treasure trove of ‘backstory’ material in the app: information on the first ever email virus, the 1979 IBM Systems Journal article by Hendricks and Tim Hartmann chronicling the technical development of VNET into a world-wide network years before the Internet was launched, dozens of anecdotes about creating VNET and meetings with Vint Cerf and other scientists, trip reports, internal memos and documents detailing IBM’s bungled opportunity, and a 160k log of pre-Internet emails between scientists debating standards.

The original music score was composed and performed on piano by Leanne Jones. Anna Mah provided the illustrations.

An APP LAUNCH EVENT, with Edson Hendricks as featured guest, will be held on MONDAY, DECEMBER 12, 2011 at SIMPLY COMPUTING, 2639 Quadra Street, Victoria, from 7 PM to 9 PM. Brief presentations will be made by Edson Hendricks, Leanne Jones, producer/director Bruce Batchelor, Jim Roepcke of Roepcke Computing Solutions (developer of the COOL to be CLEVER app for iPad), Adam Blainey of Pterotype Digital (producer of THE UNINVITED horror anthology magazine for iPad) and others. The public is welcome, especially cool, clever kids (and adults) of all ages.

Copies of the illustrated hardcover edition of IT’S COOL TO BE CLEVER will be available for purchase at the event. The COOL to be CLEVER app can be purchased directly from the Apple iPad App Store.

Passing the tipping point for eBooks and audiobooks

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

By now, most people will have seen someone reading a book using an Amazon Kindle eBook reading device, Sony Reader, Kobo (from Chapters-Indigo), Apple iPad or a smart phone. Early adopters include traveling retirees, who love being able to take along dozens of new books to read in a compact, 9-ounce, $200 device.

In June, I reported analysts’ claims that, “During 2010, over 8% of all book sales will be in electronic formats, compared to 4% during 2009, 2% in 2008 and about 1% in 2007.” That trend would have been exponential, DOUBLING each year.

Well, like a weatherman’s long-term outlook, those predictions should be revised with more recent data. It turns out that eBook sales have more than TRIPLED so far this year, and will likely be at around 14% of all book sales. Wow! Clearly what some people labeled as a “fad” isn’t going away until it eats everyone’s lunch.

A recent UK survey found that 19% of all British adults have downloaded at least one eBook from the Internet in the past 12 months. About 7% made a purchase, while the other 11% found free books. Either way, that is a lot of reading that wasn’t purchased in local bookstores. Likely residents of Canada and the USA are acquiring eBooks at a similar pace.

When Ken Follett’s 1,008-page “Fall of Giants” was released in September, it sold 20,000 copies in Amazon Kindle eBook format in the first 7 days – more than in hardcover, even though the eBook was priced higher (US$19.99) than the hardcover edition (discounted to US$19.39). Ken likely makes 50% of the retail price on eBooks, so he pocketed $200,000 just for the sale of Kindle copies in a week. Not a shabby start, eh?

How will eBook sales growth impact bookstores, authors and publishers? In many ways. But first let’s look at another segment of the book publishing marketplace where the change to online sales is even more dramatic: audio books.

Most of us have listened to a book being read to us by a recorded actor. Back in the 1950s in Winnipeg, my childhood included listening to Jimmy Stewart reading “Winnie the Pooh” stories in a rather bizarre attempt at a British accent. Those were 45 rpm discs. Vinyl recordings gave way to cassette tapes. Then CDs took over the market. And then DVDs. Now the era of having a physical audio book is nearing its end. So far in 2010, we’re at a pace for 43% of all audio book sales to be via download, compared to 57% for all physical media. At some point soon – a tipping point – it will no longer be economical for publishers to manufacture the CD or DVD versions.

Unfortunately, downloads of eBooks and audio books are bad news for local bookstores, since those are sales NOT happening through the store. How long stores will survive will depend on what else in offered (gifts, food, coffee, live entertainment…) to replace declining book sales. (Ironically, used book stores may weather this transitional storm in better shape, as new-book stores become less common.)

The growth in eBooks has been good news for those independent authors who have a talent to online self-promotion. Using social media (Facebook, twitter, blogs, Lexy, etc.) it is possible for a “little guy” to break into the Kindle bestseller ranks – sometimes even without a version of the book available in printed format. In the new eBook marketplace, the big publishing houses no longer have the huge advantages of dominating the supply chain (as they did with placing printed books on bookstore shelves).

A few of our authors who offer their writing in both eBook and printed editions have begun selling more eBooks than printed books, something that wasn’t happening six months ago. The good news is that their sales numbers for printed books are not decreasing, so total royalties are going up.

Not wanting to miss out on sales, publishers (our Agio Publishing House included) are scrambling to ensure all their titles are available in a wide range of electronic formats and through all major online distributors. At this point, some reading devices use proprietary formats (such as Kindle’s .azw and Sony’s BBeB), and most can display .epub. As the reading devices become more sophisticated, they will be able to display the trusty Acrobat .pdf format and the new HTML 5.

No one is sure how much included video and hyperlinking will become the norm, as books appear to be evolving from basic words-on-a-page-with-a-few-illustrations to full on multimedia entertainment. The borders between a “book” and a “movie” and “educational/entertaining products” are blurring.

Fortunately most authors appreciate that there will be many choices in the months to come, as the book industry moves through tipping points and re-aligns itself to new market forces. Indeed, as one of our authors, retired RCMP Superintendent Scotty Gardiner, wrote in his memoir, “There is no such thing as LUCK. Instead focus on PREPARATION, so you recognize OPPORTUNITIES.”

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Selling eBooks: my crystal ball gazing

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

This week’s news reports revealed that Amazon’s Kindle store will pay Smashwords 42.5% of the retail price for eBooks that Amazon sells. Usually Amazon only pays 35% to publishers. Smashwords is an aggregator of content — which means it operates like a distributor or wholesaler does for printed books, by selling the product to other retailers on behalf of ‘content providers’ who may be publishing houses or even individual authors.

Since Smashwords is contractually obligated to pay 85% of its revenue to the publisher, we can assume that Smashwords itself will receive 50% from Amazon. I wouldn’t be surprised if 50% or better is already being offered to larger publishers, distributors and other aggregators.

My sense is that we’ll see a steady eroding of Amazon’s margin as Barnes & Noble and hundreds of others begin competing more strongly to get into the eBook sales game. Where it will end is anyone’s guess, but I don’t see much ‘customer loyalty’ involved because the web makes it so easy for the public to obtain the optimum price from any hole-in-the-wall outfit that offers a better deal on the identical product. So if Amazon wants to charge $9.99 and give the publisher $3.50, expect to see someone else offering the publisher $4.00 and selling for $4.99! Then someone else offers publishers $4.25 and sells for $4.79, etc.

Selling eBooks is the ultimate in easy commerce: no staff, no inventory, no personal service, only databases talking to other databases, low set-up costs, no barriers to entry, only ‘cash’ sales… So there will soon be hundreds, then thousands, of competing vendors. They will shrink their own margins as they compete, heading to near the ‘break-even’ mark, which I feel is only a few pennies above the wholesale price of publishers/aggregators, plus credit card costs.

My hunch about the long-term situation? Publishers (at least the bigger ones) selling eBooks and audiobooks directly from their own sites (Harlequin is already doing this), with smaller publishers selling through cooperatively-run (or at least sympathetically-run) e-stores. Plus thousands of e-vendors, none of whom dominate the marketplace, like Amazon and Barnes & Noble have for printed books.

The wild card? Google. They could set up their own store and direct search traffic there. What may hold back Google is its worries about ‘monopolistic practices’ — it doesn’t want the Feds to crash its merry, highly-profitable party.

Ending returnability will save Canada’s book publishing industry over $330 million per year and end senseless waste of natural resources

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

The book industry is in dire straits — more publishers and retailers are going bankrupt every week. Massive lay-offs are happening. The pressures seem to be coming from every direction: the recession causing lower sales in stores, digital books threatening to erode sales of printed books, the cost of printing rising… Yet the best hope for regaining profitability is to FIX AN UNDERLYING BUSINESS MODEL that is hopelessly inefficient and scandalously wasteful of money and natural resources.

A simple change could be implemented within six months, and would save the Canadian book industry over $330 MILLION each year. All that’s required is for publishers to stop providing books to retailers on consignment (“returnable”) terms, and also grant booksellers a discount similar to other industries.

There’s a huge environmental component to this story — fantastic amounts of resources are wasted and pollution caused by overprinting tens of millions of books, transporting them back and forth across the continent, and processing the waste.

Please go to www.bookindustrybailout.ca to learn more. Thanks for watching the following video and for doing what you can to build awareness and bring pressure to bear on publishers and retailers.

Experiments [or plainly loopy behaviour?] by desperate book publishers is becoming the norm

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Thanks for appreciating the oddness in book publishing. Clearly the announcements get less logical by the day as publishers desperately try to hash together the latest trends to market their traditional content.

Perhaps I can shoulder a fraction of the blame — years ago I was telling publishers to think expansively and create multiple editions to be “products” for all the emerging “long tails” of retail distribution [pdf eBooks, POD, hardcovers, paperback, Kindles, Sony, audio books, etc.]. Even if you only make a trickle of revenue from each stream, I suggested, if your cost to participate is very low then that combined revenue might be enough to save your asses jobs as the landscape evolves.

What I didn’t anticipate was someone believing that you could profitably take a manuscript written for reading in a printed book format, and chop it into 140-word [think of one third of a page] episodes — then email some episodes as “tweets” [Twitter text messages] to subscribers’ cell phones. THEN, the publisher GIVES AWAY the book free, and hopes readers will discuss the book in their tweets among themselves. Note that there is no plan yet for anyone to PAY for reading these books…

Here’s the news clip about Picador’s experiment:

http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/bookselling/picador_launches_140character_book_club_112203.asp

I wonder how even Charles Dickens — perhaps the most successful serialist of all time — would have fared with such short episodes? Try taking your favourite manuscript and chopping it into 140-word excerpts. Books simply aren’t written for this format. And the concept of encouraging critiques and book-club-like discussions online has been tried — without success — with forums, listserves, websites, blogs, MySpace, FaceBook, etc., so why would Twitter be any more productive?

Well, one has to give the innovator at Picador some credit for at least experimenting!

thanks, cheers,
Bruce

Getting closer to the eBook reader that will catch on

Monday, September 8th, 2008

Certainly the folks behind Amazon’s Kindle, Sony’s eBook Reader and other devices are trying valiantly to reach some sort of threshold or tipping point whereby their device will become as ubiquitous as Apple’s iPod is for listening to music. I have no doubt we will get to that point someday — and sales of printed books, newspapers and magazines will plummet just as have the sales of music CDs.

If you want another parallel, think about how video stores will be closing as we all take up downloading movies instead of going to your local Blockbuster or Pic-a-Flic store.

Back to eBook devices… my point is that Amazon, Sony, iRex et al are missing the boat. The device that will change book publishing will not be primarily a book reader — instead it will be a general purpose device: cell phone, music player, PDA, camera, recorder, projector, gaming device, TV, web browser, emailer, etc., etc. Given that concept, the device has to be portable (i.e. small) yet have a big enough display.

How do you get both small and big? By having a flexible display that rolls or folds up. Seems that a company called Bridgestone [yes, the tire company] has a working prototype of a thin, light, flexible, colour (!) display that uses e-Ink technology, so the power usage is very low and there is no need for a backlight on the screen. Check it out at this link:

http://www2.bridgestone-dp.jp/global/adv-materials/QR-LPD/future.html

Now imagine a cel phone that is tube-shaped, and has a rolled-up, pull-out screen. Seems we are getting closer to the breakthrough device rather quickly.

For more commentary on the future of newspapers, anticipating these digital reading devices, check out a New York Times story:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/08/technology/08ink.html?_r=1&th&emc=th&oref=slogin

A small-but-large, flexible reader due to be unveiled this month is from Plastic Logic of Cambridge, UK. Go to www.plasticlogic.com. They’ve got $200M US in venture funding, an indication that big money is chasing ‘small’ change.

Introduction from BMD: The marketing mix framework — your template for conceptualizing and planning

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

This is an excerpt (the introduction) from Book Marketing DeMystified …

The marketing advice presented in this book will give you a huge boost, whether you have a contract with a mainstream publisher, or are an independent (indie) author publishing all on your own or with the assistance of a publishing service.

Book publishing can be defined as causing a book to be in a printed form and available to the public for purchase. Over the past decade, the first part — getting a book into printed form — has been dramatically simplified because of Print-on-Demand (POD) manufacturing. POD allows authors to avoid paying for a large print run and managing an inventory, yet to still have exactly as many printed books as needed. Pages of a POD book can be in full color or black on white; the binding can be paperback or casebound (hardback) with either a dust jacket or a laminated cover.

The second part of the definition — making books available to the public for purchase — has been a marketing responsibility shared by the publisher and the author. Making available can be thought of as having two components: making potential buyers aware of your book, and ensuring copies are readily accessible for those buyers to purchase.

Depending on your publishing house or service, you will have access to different tools for building the awareness and accessibility. This guide will help you, as a new author, better understand the bookselling environment so you can be most effective with your marketing initiatives at whatever scale and by whatever means you decide to promote your book.

Marketing is not the same as high-pressure selling

Some people are terrified and paralyzed by the irrational notion that marketing is synonymous with personally badgering people, somehow coercing them into buying something they don’t particularly want or need.

Relax! You really don’t need to transform yourself into an obsessive, self-promoting ego-maniac to be successful.

Such common misconceptions can prevent an author from seeing that marketing is actually a creative exercise, an intriguing puzzle-solving process with limitless possibilities. Authors are very creative people and, therefore, well-equipped to find marvelous solutions. All they need is a practical framework for decision-making, plus some basic knowledge of the book trade and the available options.

For the marketing of your book to be sustainable, one needs to find a balance weighing ones home life and other priorities on one hand, with your time and financial commitment to book selling on the other.

Balance is easiest to sustain if you can select marketing tactics that suit your fancy, so you can enjoy promoting your book, rather than feeling drained or uncomfortable. This book presents many options to consider and true stories of other independent authors experiences. I’ve confidence you can find the time and the commitment to carry out a few high payoff promotional activities. After all, you had the personal discipline to write an entire book, didn’t you?

The purpose of this guide is to help you identify marketing strategies that match your purpose and resources. I will:

  • provide a practical framework for planning your marketing efforts, explain the somewhat bizarre workings of the book industry, and
  • give practical examples that have proven to be effective and fun for other authors.

Before you and I go any further, let’s agree on what marketing means and entails.

Surprisingly, even though one can get an advanced university degree in marketing, there is no consensus in academia nor in the business world about a definition of this word. I know this because I have taught marketing at the college level. Imagine the confusion when I moved on to manage a communications consultancy, and clients would say marketing when they meant in-person selling, or advertising, or setting up distribution networks, or promoting franchises or running contests or just about anything. This was frustrating, at times embarrassing, and always counter-productive … until I devised the definition shown below. This definition is the conceptual framework for the marketing mix you will develop while reading this book. This framework has been used with remarkable success to build tens of millions of dollars of wealth for authors and other business clients.

When you are developing a marketing strategy in any line of business, you will be thinking about how to allocate resources and align your efforts in a number of areas simultaneously, trying to juggle priorities.

The classical marketing mix I once taught to business students asserts there are only four aspects (the 4 Ps) to be considered: product, price, place and promotions. This definition of the marketing mix was created by Jerome McCarthy in his 1960 book called Basic Marketing: A Managerial Approach. In the real world, the 4 P framework is clearly inadequate. I propose that you use a following more robust definition with 14 Ps when you are plotting how to sell your new book.

Marketing is the process of creating, implementing, monitoring and evolving a strategy for the complete marketing mix, which is:

  • having a needed product (or service) available
  • at a convenient place (and time)
  • for a mutually satisfactory price (value),
  • while ensuring that the correct segments of the public
  • are aware (the promotional mix) and
  • motivated (positioning),
  • all in a manner which takes advantage of strategic partnerships and
  • contributes to the overall purpose (passion).

The promotional mix includes personal sales, publicity & public relations, paid advertising, and sales promotions.

Ideally, this will be done with respect and consideration to financial profits, the planet (our environment) and people (society).

While you digest that mouthful, consider that, as you solve your books marketing mix puzzle, you’ll often be substituting creativity and personal connections for the brute-force, expensive strategies employed by the large publishing houses. Here’s a rather blunt assessment of conventional book marketing by Richard Balkin:

Of all the major industries in the United States, surely book publishing is the most primitive, the most disorganized, and the most haphazard. Consider the following: What other industry would launch a national campaign for an untested product whose life span is usually less than a year and whose chances of recouping its investment are worse than one in three? What other industry would manufacture so many competing products with only the barest notion of which of them might succeed in the marketplace? What other industry would sink a hefty percentage of its capital into a variety of mechanisms designed to stimulate sales, knowing full well that the most effective method — that elusive word of mouth — is totally beyond its control?

In many ways, a publisher acts like a Hopi shaman praying for rain: They both execute a number of rituals designed to convince themselves and their followers that they can control uncontrollable events, and then go home and cross their fingers. If rain doesn’t fall, they blame themselves or their acolytes for not adequately performing some of the rituals, thereby angering the gods and spoiling the magic. Go out and get some really smooth stones this time, they say, and let’s try again.
[from Richard Balkin, A Writers Guide to Book Publishing, pp 199-200, Plume Publishers, 1994, ISBN 0452270219]

That sounds pretty gloomy and Richard didn’t even touch on the financially-suicidal practice of selling books on returnable terms. But, hey, don’t get too discouraged by Richard’s assessment. He was writing about the conventional book industry, not what indie authors are now accomplishing. [His book does have excellent information about the industry.]

Remember: with a little knowledge and clever choices in your 14 P marketing mix, you can be more cost-effective at selling your book than the industry pros. You’ll create a world of possibilities so you won’t need those really smooth stones.

Why did you write your book? The answer is very important — as you will see, we’ll keep coming back throughout this book to your motivation (your purpose or passion).

Each authors reasons for writing are unique. Some want to change the behavior of others (possibly by teaching the reader about health or religion or politics). The simple desire to entertain is the motivating force for some writers, while many others feel compelled to record memories of a time and place they cherish. A book can be an essential tool to build a consulting or public speaking career. It could be the proud unveiling of a lifelong compulsion to create poetry or invent a sci-fi series. Some people use the independent (self-) publishing process as a market test, hoping to attract the attention of a film producer or impress the acquisitions editor at a major publishing house. Your motives may have some urgency, or may have the long-term time frame of introducing a romance trilogy or series of thrillers. A few writers blatantly proclaim their quest for fame and fortune, while others value their privacy and time too much to thrust themselves 100 percent into promotional efforts. All are valid reasons, none better than others.

Before you read the next chapters, please take a moment to write out a few sentences about your purpose. It need not be eloquent.

Planning the marketing mix

At its most basic, your marketing plan can be as simple as answering the questions at the start of each chapter (also found in the marketing mix template at the end of this book). If you accomplish this, you’ll be way ahead of most other self-promoting authors and many industry pros because you’ll have a clear overview and can focus on those factors you’ve decided to emphasize. As important, you’ll have decided, and are comfortable with the decision, on what not to do.

As mentioned previously, this guide is organized into chapters for each of these 14 P factors. We’ll describe the business situation and provide examples of what other authors have done. As we go along, you can be thinking about your book and jotting down ideas for your marketing plan.

Ready? Allons-y! Here’s a delicious story to illustrate how to concoct a great marketing mix.

The great taste of Marketing success!

Back in 1981, Joan Bidinosti and Marilyn Wearring, two women living in rural Ontario, decided to create and market the best book we could.

“We did a lot of research and really thought things out,” Joan told me. “We wanted to make a book that we liked. We wanted to be proud of it, then hoped other people would like it. Making money really didn’t enter into it.”

They ignored conventional wisdom in the publishing trade and created a book on a single theme: muffins. Muffins: A Cookbook [ISBN 0969134509] didn’t have photographs (another no-no), nor a hard cover. Instead they created a quite small, handy, coil-bound book. They tested every recipe thoroughly, had only one recipe per page and the page number clearly visible in large type. Directions were numbered and simply explained.

The oven temperature and baking time were at the top.

Baking tips were printed on a colored sheet of paper inserted at the book’s center — this helped cooks navigate by remembering if a favorite recipe was before or after the middle. Joan’s daughter, Susan, created whimsical drawings for the cover and insides.

They knew the ideal gift price: $4.95, and found a printer who could work within their budget. One thousand copies were printed, a few letters sent to the local media, and the two authors took the first copies to a gift store and a book store. Marilyn sold copies to her friends at the curling rink and exercise class, who came back to buy more copies for their friends. Within a week, the local TV news program ran a short item, which prompted the newspaper to run a full-page story.

From that point on, the two authors had a tiger by the tail. During the next decade, they sold over 200,000 copies of Muffins: A Cookbook, plus 60,000 copies of a sequel called Salads: A Cookbook.

Looking back, Joan can reminisce about dozens of successful marketing initiatives. The authors made hundreds of personal sales appearances in department stores, bookstores, gift shops, trade shows — always passing out delicious samples and always selling large quantities of books.

“There was a sheet on the last page of the book, providing an address for ordering more copies, with a discount for ordering 5 or more. It was word-of-mouth through friends who liked everything about it that sold our book,” Joan believes. “We’d get lovely letters with the mail orders.”

What was Joan and Marilyn’s marketing mix? They had a clear purpose which led them to create — often at odds with expert advice — a remarkably useful and likeable product at an ideal price point. With that solid foundation, any and all promotions worked well.

“Luck follows hard work,” says Joan about the research they did in advance.

By careful attention to the purpose, product and price factors in their marketing mix, these authors had a winning recipe, and achieved spectacular results.

Read on to learn how others have found marketing mix solutions, so you too can mix those Ps and solve the puzzle!

The next excerpt will be about the first P in the marketing mix. Chapter One — Purpose (aka passion)

Preface from BMD – The Invention of POD Publishing

Friday, September 28th, 2007

This is an excerpt (the preface) from Book Marketing DeMystified …

I’m Bruce Batchelor, the fellow credited with inventing on-demand book publishing, also called print-on-demand or POD publishing. That’s the business process behind the services offered to independent authors by AuthorHouse, BookSurge, Lulu, Xlibris, Spire, Agio Publishing House, Trafford and other “author services” companies. “Invent” is an odd term, since I didn’t design any particular machine or gizmo, but rather I took existing devices and processes, recognized how they could be combined into a viable business model, and then set up a company to prove the concept really works. The POD publishing services portion of the book industry now generates about $200 million per year in sales volume, and has enabled about 100,000 authors to be published since its inception back in the mid-1990s.

Here’s a bit of background to that invention …

Probably just like you, I have had a lifelong love of books. From following along as my mother read to me as a toddler, through my pre-teen years captivated by the Biggles and Hardy Boys books, I was mightily impressed with the printed word. Then, while working on my high school’s yearbook, I discovered that one could create books simply by being so bold as to typeset the words and pay a printer to make bound copies! After that, there was no stopping me.

In the 1970s, I wrote, self-published and successfully marketed two bestselling books, doing so independent of any conventional publishing house, somewhat oblivious to how selling books was supposed to be so terribly difficult. The marketing for those two titles was so obvious and straightforward that I thought marketing for all books would be as simple. I no longer believe that!

For the past 30 years, I’ve worked at editing, ghost-writing, publishing and marketing, sometimes with conventional publishing houses and more often assisting the self-publishing authors who bravely live on the fringes of the book industry.

During these three decades, my wife Marsha and I also operated a communications consultancy. We created marketing programs for business, non-profit and government clients. We designed, typeset and pasted-up literally thousands of books, magazine issues, brochures, technical manuals, reports, newsletters and ad campaigns. Generally, I was involved in the writing and editing of each job to some extent and Marsha was the graphic designer. We won numerous awards – the most gratifying ones were for the effectiveness of campaigns, rather than prettiness. I’ve taught marketing at the college level, and also worked as a newspaper journalist and magazine editor. When writing work was scarce I worked as a surveyor, fisherman and parks patrolman. Going way back, I was a computer programmer/analyst, and earned an honors degree in pure mathematical problem-solving. In the mid-1970s, I lived in a log cabin in the Yukon, sometimes going on long winter camping trips with a team of sled dogs, and often just sitting and thinking.

That eclectic background provided me with a unique vantage point in 1994 to foresee an amazing opportunity emerging from the convergence of certain technologies and trends. Print-on-Demand (POD) equipment + the Internet information super-highway + Internet search engines + credit cards + e-commerce + desktop publishing + email + Adobe PostScript(tm) + authors anxious to be published … I envisioned a book publishing service that would help independent (or ‘indie’) authors everywhere. It would conform with the conventional publishing industry by having ISBNs and copyright registration and library cataloging, yet it would be different in two very important ways. It would conduct most of its business over the new Internet, and it would use print-on-demand manufacturing to produce only as many books as needed. To keep costs to the absolute minimum, we would go one step beyond ‘just-in-time’ inventory to be totally ‘on-demand’, printing books one at a time only after an order came in. Most people thought I was nuts.

Within a year, Trafford Publishing had been established in Victoria, BC, and we had our first paying clients. These were pioneering authors who were departing from the book industry’s old distribution model (of having preprinted books sitting in warehouses and on bookstore shelves on a consignment basis), for the novel concept of promoting and selling books largely over the Internet.

By 1996, Amazon.com had begun to popularize the notion of buying books over the Internet. As well, Baker & Taylor, one of the USA’s largest book distributors, had set up POD equipment to print back-list titles for publishing houses, calling their service Replica Books. Then Ingram Book, the USA’s largest distributor, built a monster POD printing factory in Tennessee beside their largest warehouse, so POD books could flow into Ingram’s distribution system and out to bookstores and online retailers. Initially called Lightning Print, this print service later became Lightning Source Inc. (LSI). Soon other companies opened and adopted Trafford’s POD business model of serving independent authors: Xlibris, iUniverse, AuthorHouse and dozens of others. Now some newer publishing services, such as Lulu.com and Blurb.com, offer on-demand book printing without book trade distribution.

During my 11 years as Trafford’s founding publisher and CEO, it grew to become one of the world’s most prolific publishing houses with more than 10,000 active titles from indie authors living in more than 100 countries. Currently, thanks to Trafford and similar POD publishing services, over 30,000 new authors are published every year.

Now we authors are entering a wonderful new chapter in indie publishing, highlighted by ever-expanding distribution using eBook editions, audio books and truly global POD production. I call this coming phase the multiple long tails era and predict that greater awareness and availability of indie books will significantly boost the average number of copies authors sell, and quadruple the count of new indie titles by 2010.

Helping authors realize their dreams is magical for me. In July of 2006, I left my leadership position at Trafford to return to working personally with authors, their manuscripts and those dreams. Once again, as we did before launching the POD revolution, my wife and I are operating a small publishing company – Agio Publishing House (www.agiopublishing.com). I feel very fortunate and privileged to be editing and advising creative people.

I recently interviewed top executives in the largest POD author service companies and dozens of indie authors. The result is my new book, Book Marketing DeMystified [Agio, ISBN 978-1-897435-00-7]. We’ll soon have it available as a podiobook, an eBook, trade paperback, casebound edition and a German language paperback edition. For those who want the audio edition on a CD in MP3 format, we’re arranging that too. The widest availability possible is our aim; and to maximize awareness, we’re having fun learning and implementing many of the fabulous marketing tactics I discovered while interviewing authors for this book. This blog is one example!

If you’d like your manuscript published in similar fashion – as a handsome, well-edited book with effective marketing – contact us here at Agio Publishing House. We’re looking forward to working with like-minded people. Email me directly at bruce (dot) batchelor (at) gmail (dot) com or call us at 250-380-0998 (9 to 5 Pacific time, weekdays).

A big thank you to all the authors who embrace print-on-demand publishing and who continuously amaze the world with your writings and thoughts.