Monday, September 19, 2011
Interview with Author Steve Miller
“Whether you’re traditionally published or self-published, the author must do the promotion. This book provides solid guidance and is full of valuable tips.” - Publishing authority Dan Poynter
Welcome back to my blog, Steve. Please tell us about your new book.
We've found some creative solutions that we think can help other low profile authors. Back in 1993, I wrote a book called The Contemporary Christian Music Debate, to help church staff and parents navigate the confusing decisions about new musical styles and the church. Yet, I had no platform to write such a book. I didn't have a degree in music. I wasn't a professional musician. I worked as minister of youth at Flat Creek Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Georgia. That's worse than a platform – that's a hole in the ground! Yet, I snagged a first rate publisher – Tyndale House – and the book has gone through several printings and has been translated into Spanish, Dutch, German, Romanian and Russian. It still sells regularly today, over 17 years later.
We've self-published most of our subsequent books, on diverse subjects such as personal finance and writing and even a word game dictionary called BackWords. We're pleased with the sales. We'd like to help other low-profile authors learn what we've discovered about how to get our books out there in the marketplace, see daily sales, and ultimately see people impacted through our writing.
Is this book only for beginners just starting out or can this book help experienced authors?
It's for all authors who want to learn or update their book marketing skills. There are so many great ways to market books these days! The first part is about how to write a marketable book. We also discuss publishing options and how those can impact your marketing. The second half details how we and other low profile authors are successfully selling our books.
A Reviewer wrote, “…a comprehensive guide to marketing a book… that’s loaded with specific tips. Brimming with creative ideas, Sell More Books! should prove to be a low profile author’s best friend.” What are two “specific tips” for promoting your book?
First, we emphasize that each book and each author are unique. What works for one book may not work for another. So forget the five step formulas. Instead, think about where the audience for your book congregates. For my personal finance book, I found the 200 most popular personal finance blogs and e-mailed each of the blog authors, suggesting a timely post related to the book ("Financially Illiterate Graduates") and offering a free copy for review and another for a giveaway. About 50 (one out of four) requested a free copy and about 20 came through with reviews. Thus, 20 popular bloggers were recommending my book to their faithful followers. No wonder my sales tripled, more than paying for the books I sent out. I have an entire chapter telling specifically how I did this. This strategy can work for novels as well as nonfiction.
Second, we emphasize that the best ways to sell your book are often counterintuitive – not what you'd first expect. For example, when I studied low profile authors who sold a lot of books, I found many of them selling tons of books locally. Most advice today centers on reaching people via the Web and social networking, but we overlook the fact that if we get our book into the hands of our next door neighbor, she can tell the world through her social networks. One first-time novelist sold 200 copies of his book in six months through a locally owned restaurant. What if he got his book into 100 such restaurants? We detail exactly what this author did and how others can take advantage of local sales.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
We kept precise records of each of our own marketing initiatives, to learn what was working for us and, just as important, what wasn't working. For example, I was interviewed about my money book on two of the most popular Atlanta TV stations and as far as I could tell, sold no books at all as a result. I discuss what we learned from this. We kept in touch with other low profile authors (personally and in forums) and we told each other honestly what worked and what didn't. We read many stories of low profile authors who sold tons of books. Additionally, we read about 25 books on book marketing and other general marketing books as well.
I've often heard that two heads together are better than one. What is it like to write a book together as husband and wife? Are there any interesting experiences you had while writing this book as a team?
I was enthralled by contributing regularly to our blogs and Facebook - for about a month. I became doubtful about the value of certain aspects of social networking for the majority of authors. Then Cherie started a blog that took off and got publicity in major news. Also, she tweaked her use of Facebook in ways that I didn't, making it a much more useful tool. So we revised one of our main chapters on social networking several times based largely upon her experiences, to try to help authors see how some use these tools profitably and others waste tons of time.
I think it's wonderful that you two can work together like this. Do you have any closing remarks?
If you're a new or low profile author and your sales are either dismal or nonexistent, don't assume that you're a bad writer. Typically, books don't sell until you figure out how to market them. I challenge you to dedicate some time each day to learn the business side of writing. Cherie and I love checking (multiple times per day!) to see which of our books are selling on multiple platforms. It's both fun and deeply rewarding to see people buying and reading our books. We want more authors to experience this thrill.
Thank you, Steve, for this wonderful interview. I hope everyone learned something new today.