What’s In Your Book Marketing Tool Kit?

Your best resource to market your book is you. Reach out to the people you know and those they know. Your book will get discovered if you market your book using these 32 tools:

  1. Facebook
  2. LinkedIn
  3. Google+
  4. Twitter
  5. Pinterest
  6. Website
  7. Email
  8. Business card and name
  9. Logo
  10. Directories and lists to sell to
  11. Your blog
  12. Other bloggers
  13. Skype
  14. FreeConferenceCall.com
  15. Texting
  16. YouTube
  17. Facetime
  18. Webinars
  19. Podcasts
  20. Apps
  21. FourSquare
  22. AroundMeApp.com
  23. TimeTrade.com
  24. EmailFinder.com
  25. SalesForce.com
  26. Spokeo.com
  27. GoToMeeting.com
  28. Webex.com
  29. FreeScreenSharing.com
  30. SurveyMonkey.com
  31. Zoomerang.com
  32. KwikSurveys.com

Good luck!

 

Brian Feinblum is the chief marketing officer of Planned Television Arts (rebranded as Media Connect), the nation’s largest and oldest book promotions firm. Brian has worked in the promoting industry since 1989 and has worked with clients of varied professions such as magician David Copperfield and best-selling author Og Mandino.

What If Authors Were Treated Like Athletes?

The NBA and NFL lockouts remind me why I love sports but hate the way the pros operate. Every bailout, strike, contract negotiation, free agent signing, and stadium-naming deal reaffirms professional sports are more like corporate America. The fan or customer is an afterthought and taken for granted. If only the fans could muster the ability to override their addiction and boycott for a long enough time period to reassert who is in charge, we’d see a very different sports landscape.

In thinking about sports and how it mirrors life at times, I wonder how book publishing can mirror pro sports. What if

  • Authors formed a union, like the players, and dictated terms to the publishers?
  • Authors could be named to annual All-Star teams or named as Hall of Famers for their career contributions?
  • Authors were applauded by a sports-arena-sized crowd?
  • Authors only had a 4–5-year career the way most athletes do?
  • Authors wore uniforms and sold merchandise with their name on it?
  • Books had sponsors and advertisers filling every other page?
  • There were daily television casts dedicated to books the way networks cover sports?
  • There were statistical data to rate an author’s book, other than total sales, similar to all the stats used to rate players and teams?
  • People booed authors at a signing the way fans curse at ballplayers from the stands?
  • Celebrity gossip columnists kept track of which publishers and editors are sleeping around the way they track the conquests of athletes?
  • An annual awards show for authors was televised like the Oscars, Emmys, and Grammys?

The truth is authors are not treated like star athletes, celebrities, or politicians. They struggle to get published, to be read, and to be appreciated. Sure, some books become best-sellers and gain some fame and small riches, but by and large, millions of gifted writers conclude the year wishing they received more media attention, more money, and a wider acceptance as a writer.

Many writers write because it’s their gift and their passion and they find reward in knowing they penned what they believe is a good book. But every writer wants the applause, the critical praise, and the validation. Some even want to change the world.

So when you watch the Super Bowl or World Series this year, imagine, just for a moment, the players on the field are writers. They are you and everyone is watching and cheering. Stand up and take a bow. It may be the only recognition you will ever get.

 

Brian Feinblum is the chief marketing officer of Planned Television Arts (rebranded as Media Connect), the nation’s largest and oldest book promotions firm. Brian has worked in the promoting industry since 1989 and has worked with clients of varied professions such as magician David Copperfield and best-selling author Og Mandino.

Marketing My Writing: How I Learned to Love It

When I first got back into freelance writing, I spent little effort marketing. I called my sources at companies I’d covered at my staff-writing job at a local business journal and let them know I was freelancing, and it kind of rolled from there.

I called a couple of local magazines, pitched them, and got assignments. I answered an ad and found myself writing web content for a $1 billion corporation.

Looking back, it was a golden time. My career ran easy, like water flowing downhill. It never occurred to me it wouldn’t always be like this.

Then came early 2009, and the downturn started to really take hold. My editors began getting laid off, publications changed, and companies stopped developing content.

I realized I needed to get out there and market myself more aggressively. I needed to make new connections and find new clients.

At first I thought, “Ugh!” I’d never really sold anything to anyone. But over time, I kind of got hooked on the marketing side of my business. I discovered that in a weird way, it’s fun. No, I’m not kidding.

Now, I enjoy this side of my business, too—maybe not as much as I do writing, but marketing is no longer a dreaded chore for me.

You can learn to love marketing, too. Here are my tips:

  • Keep the online job-ad searching to a minimum. At first I wasted hours a day browsing the online job ads, before developing a system for scanning them fast. Now, if I’m looking over online ads, I only take time to reply to the best prospects. Generally, online job ads are not a source of high-quality leads, so limit your time here, and free up more time for better marketing methods.
  • Learn more about marketing. If you don’t know a lot about marketing, learn. Take a class. Read a book. This is not mystical knowledge. The information you need is out there.
  • Develop a marketing plan. Don’t go in a million directions at once. Take a 3–6 month period, decide what you’re doing, and then consistently do it.
  • Meet live humans. Whether it’s in-person networking, cold calling, or informally schmoozing up shopkeepers in your town, remember that computers won’t give you a writing gig—only people. If networking makes you nervous, relax, you can learn how to do it.
  • Try different methods. I have done in-person networking at a half-dozen organization events, some cold calling, sent queries, answered job ads, used LinkedIn features, promoted my writing on Twitter, built my presence in natural-search results for keywords, and more. See what works for you.
  • Approach it like a scientist. Think of your marketing as an experiment. Track what you do and evaluate the results. This helps you take a little bit more dispassionate attitude toward putting yourself out there.
  • Think of it as a game. Instead of feeling vulnerable and scared, try to detach yourself emotionally from the process. Think of it as a game of Chutes and Ladders. You go here and there, rolling the dice, trying different moves. When you get a win, it’s like Yahtzee.
  • Be impervious to rejection. Learn not to take it personally when you don’t get a gig. Seriously. You want to drop that attitude. It’s just business. Have a businesslike approach to marketing.
  • Persist. This is the most important thing to know. Sending one query letter is not a marketing plan, it’s a waste of time. Know that you will likely have to go hard at it on marketing for at least several months before you start to see the results you want. I had a revealing conversation with one writer online about a strategy I used that won me a great, $1-a-word new client. She said she’d tried that once and it hadn’t worked. I said, “Oh. I tried it 30–40 times, and it worked once.” Moral: The persistent marketer gets the gig. So keep going, if you’re serious about writing for a living.

 

I marketed aggressively—like mad, really—for about 18 months straight, gradually rebuilding my customer base until I became fully booked. Now, I’m able to drop clients and pick and choose the ones I want to work with again. It feels great, and I know marketing got me here.

 

Carol Tice is a freelance writer who focuses on writing and ghostwriting business books and e-books. She’s written for Delta Sky, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Seattle Magazine, Costco, American Express, Shopify, Freshbooks, and many others. Carol founded the award-winning Make a Living Writing blog in 2008, which has been repeatedly named to Writer’s Digest’s Top 101 Blogs for Writers list. It now offers over 1,000 free posts on how to break in and grow your writing income. Her Freelance Writers Den learning and support community was founded in 2011 and has over 1,000 members. Carol has taught over 20 online courses and self-published 10+ e-book titles for freelance writers. She’s also the author/coauthor of two traditionally published business books for entrepreneurs.

Welcome to Book World, the Greatest Theme Park

How come there aren’t any theme parks dedicated to books and publishing? I think it is a billion-dollar idea waiting to be acted upon. I am sure one day we’ll see billboards or Groupons for AmazonWorld—or maybe Barnes & Noble Land. Wouldn’t you bring your family and friends to a place that celebrates ideas and creativity, that honors the written word and free speech, and that makes reading fun?

This past week I had the pleasure of taking my wife and two young kids to several theme parks in Orlando. Never mind that the parks only cater to people who can afford to drop $100 per person per day and who are willing to pay for the right to then purchase overpriced food and licensed products that further promote their properties. I also paid the tourist tax (speeding ticket) for attempting to turn the 180-mile trek to Boynton Beach from the parks into a quicker excursion. We had a great time and plan to be back again—albeit with a lighter wallet.

The theme parks have the right idea—they hype their existing content and repackage it in a way that makes it appealing to all ages. If movie studios can do this, why not publishers or those in the book industry?

Books connect to everything because they are written about everything—real and imagined, past, present, and future. A theme park can show what a book looks like in different languages. It can show us how books are treated globally or culturally. It can show us how books entertain, educate, enlighten, or inspire. Books, like the Bible, can be powerful, or they can be merely thrill-seeking, like Fifty Shades of Grey. The park can reflect a diversity of thought, significance, creativity, and commercialism.

Maybe bookstores should be turned into theme parks. Then they’d become entertaining destinations and people would want to be where books are.

The publishing industry is like a play yard. It has tradition. It has many facets to explore—the legal side, the cultural side, literacy, how books influence people and societies, and how our history is preserved in books. There are millions of words in millions of books and not one theme park is dedicated to books.

We have museums dedicated to art, history, and science. We have zoos and circuses to highlight nature and animals. county fairs, championship sporting events, theme parks, amusement parks, and huge concert arenas . . . even businesses have conventions. When we think about it, most industries have a hall of fame. Yet there are no publishing theme parks.

Can’t we muster together a little bit of Trump extravagance and apply it to books and come up with a place that exceeds what is offered at the biggest palaces of fun in the world? We can! A book park could be divided into so many unique sections that highlight interesting aspects of the book industry, such as

  • All-time best-sellers
  • Historically-significant books
  • The evolution of publishing technology
  • The history of the printed word
  • The future of books and all formats
  • Books turned into audiobooks, TV shows, movies, plays, etc.
  • How books are written
  • How they are acquired, edited, packaged, sold, promoted
  • Self-publishing
  • E-book mania
  • Era-specific books such as 18th-century romantic poets or 1950s sci-fi
  • Region-specific books such as those by or about the south
  • Book-specific sections such as Catcher in the Rye or Chicken Soup for the Soul
  • Author-specific sections such as the works of John Grisham or Janet Evanovich
  • Genre-specific sections such as what’s new in erotic vampire thrillers or diet and fitness

Think of what can be sold:

  • Food
  • Games/Toys
  • DVDs
  • CDs
  • Clothes
  • Stuffed animals of book characters
  • Replicas of things referenced in the books
  • . . . and BOOKS!

There can be displays that include:

  • Book showcases
  • Videos
  • Rides
  • Games
  • Lectures
  • Readings
  • Reenactments
  • Workshops
  • Concerts
  • Tricia contests
  • Historic manuscripts
  • Printing presses
  • E-book devices

Maybe there’d be a university on site, a special academy that is a school for writers and those who want to work in the book publishing industry.

There could be sections for adults and children. There could be sections of books highlighting industries such as automotive, gardening, or sales. There could be a hobby section, a fantasy section, a children’s section—really, you could put anything in the park as long as it relates to books. And everything connects to books.

Of course, some might say the best way to honor books is to buy and read them, share them, and live them. But imagine a place that bibliophiles can call home, a place that is part library, bookstore, e-reader, website, Disney, Vegas, Indy 500, Miss America Pageant, Mall of the Americas, Mardi Gras, and Time Square.

Take me to Book World—or write a book about such a place. Book World should exist and needs to. Books are still popular but they also are under many threats. It is not government censorship or Communism or war that threatens them. It is cultural laziness, a degraded education system, economics, and entertainment competition that puts books in danger. Book World could be a great boost for the publishing industry, while being fun for the whole family.

 

Brian Feinblum is the chief marketing officer of Planned Television Arts (rebranded as Media Connect), the nation’s largest and oldest book promotions firm. Brian has worked in the promoting industry since 1989 and has worked with clients of varied professions such as magician David Copperfield and best-selling author Og Mandino.

Have You Read an Audiobook?

June is audiobook month and it’s a good time to examine how a segment of book publishing is doing. In fact, my firm conducted a radio tour to promote the Audio Publishers Association earlier this month, so I have a good feeling for the audiobook industry.

There are many plusses to audiobooks. Certainly, they are great for the blind or if you are traveling, whether it’s a work commute or a long vacation, sometimes it’s nice to just close our eyes and not stare at a screen or printed page and just experience a book in another format. It’s also a great way to learn while driving, rather than just listening to mindless Top 40 songs.

Audiobooks can offer some interpretation to the book, because the reader uses voice inflection, injects passion and energy, and paces the listener. Hearing another voice, other than our own, also makes us feel less alone when digesting the book.

Audiobooks are not movie adaptations. We almost always hear, “The book is better than the movie.” Audiobooks are word-for-word readings of the book. Sometimes they are slightly condensed versions of the book, but they aren’t rewritten or altered otherwise.

Some prefer how-to-type audiobooks. Want to learn a foreign language or improve on some aspect of our life? Listen to an instructional audiobook. Others like travel guides in audiobook form. Some may want to consume fiction via audiobooks. It’s nice to know that we have so many choices to take in our books today—printed, e-book, audiobooks, etc.

My son recently listened to an audiobook, Marley & Me, about a man’s relationship with his dog. He’s only six and I was surprised he patiently listened to several hours of a story, intended for grown-ups. He told me he imagined what the dog must have been like based on the vivid descriptions voiced to him. It’s a great tool to help kids read when they are young and they are like sponges, taking everything in with such enthusiasm, openness, and acceptance.

Here a few factoids from the Audio Publishers Association (APA):

  • According to data from the APA, audiobook listeners are affluent, well-educated book lovers who use the audio format to fit more books into their lives.
  • In the past year, 90% of listeners read at least one book.
  • People who listened to four or more audiobooks read about 15 books in the past year, compared to six books read by people who don’t listen to audiobooks.
  • Authors love audiobooks too. Brad Meltzer, Stephen King, Judy Blume, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Tom Wolfe, and Lisa Scottoline all listen to audiobooks.
  • The average audiobook listener spends about five hours a week listening.
  • Audiobooks are a great tool for building literacy. Teachers and librarians report that listening to audiobooks helps children build better vocabularies and also helps them to read with better expression.

As a writer, think about how you can create an audiobook for your market as well.

 

[Editor’s note: In the years since this article was published, audiobook sales have continued to grow. The 2017 report, which was released in June 2018,  from the Audio Publishers Association marked a six-year trend of double-digit growth in audiobook sales in the United States.]

 

Brian Feinblum is the chief marketing officer of Planned Television Arts (rebranded as Media Connect), the nation’s largest and oldest book promotions firm. Brian has worked in the promoting industry since 1989 and has worked with clients of varied professions such as magician David Copperfield and best-selling author Og Mandino.

Don’t Let Book Marketing Fears Keep You From Achieving Success

Not everyone can write a book. Not everyone can sell a product. As an entrepreneurial writer, you will need to do both—or outsource your book marketing. Do you have any of these fears that hold you back from executing a book marketing campaign?

  • I don’t think I have enough resources—time and money.
  • I am not sure my book is better than others.
  • I don’t like to sound like I am begging.
  • I don’t want to appear too pushy.
  • I fear rejection.
  • I am afraid I will be asked questions that I don’t know the answers to.
  • I am not sure what to do to be convincing.
  • I don’t like to talk to others.
  • I am not confident about my appearance.
  • I don’t know what to say.
  • What if they don’t like me?
  • What if they laugh or yell at me?

The key to conquering any fear is to acknowledge it, seek solutions, and get help. Or admit defeat and hire others to help you. Else, you will need to be content with the negative consequences that your fears tend to bring about. To overcome your book marketing fears simply jump in the water and start selling. You may just learn to swim.

 

Brian Feinblum is the chief marketing officer of Planned Television Arts (rebranded as Media Connect), the nation’s largest and oldest book promotions firm. Brian has worked in the promoting industry since 1989 and has worked with clients of varied professions such as magician David Copperfield and best-selling author Og Mandino.

Do You Know Joseph Finder?

My firm was just hired to promote the newest novel from Joseph Finder. We’ll conduct a radio tour to promote the late June publication—a spy thriller. We’ve promoted his books a number of times. What surprises me is how many people have never heard of him, although when I first started promoting him, I didn’t know of him either.

It’s interesting that someone as successful as he has been—five New York Times best-sellers with four million copies in print—can be under the radar. Then again, in a country of 310 million, it’s easy for the vast majority to not recognize best-selling authors, movie stars, politicians, Grammy-winning musicians, or leaders in major fields and industries. There is simply too much to keep track of. Plus, the top people in their given area of expertise, may “only” have tens of millions of fans—or just a few million, still leaving 250+ million people who don’t know anything about the Joseph Finders of the world.

What surprises me is if something can break through, like a Harry Potter book, and gets lots of publicity, ad support, and praise from fans, how come it doesn’t go all the way, and get into the hands of practically everyone? Is it getting to the point that our society’s interests are so varied that we can’t get the majority to like the same thing or know about the same things?

Social media may be contributing to this, to a degree. We’re fragmented. Few national discussions or centralized platforms exist. Instead, we have people tweeting and blogging to a core group of self-selected followers and we have, literally, millions of public discussions going on simultaneously but nothing to unite us. And yet it is probably social media that affords us the best chance to rally the masses to focus on specific issues, people, events, or even books.

I know that we’ll schedule a great radio tour for Joseph Finder. We’ll get him a few dozen interviews with top-tier markets and inform millions of listeners about him. Now we just need to reach the other 300 million people.

Random thought: 51% of Americans age 12 and older have profiles on Facebook, up from 8% in 2008, according to a recent Arbitron/Edison Research survey. What can you conclude from that? I’m surprised to see 49% don’t have profiles, but then again, why does this study include pre-teens? Does a kid really need a Facebook page?

I also thought about seniors who still may not be as active online as others, as well as illiterates, people who can’t afford a computer, and those who don’t speak English well. Really, that 51% number is probably more like 80% of the people who are active and contributing to society. What’s most interesting is how in just a few short years the majority of the country lives on one social networking site. That’s a lot of power and potential there, but how are we harnessing it to market books and to make the world a better place?

Also, Google is king of the search marketing industry. Over 2 million searches take place using Google every minute, according to the New York Times.

 

Brian Feinblum is the chief marketing officer of Planned Television Arts (rebranded as Media Connect), the nation’s largest and oldest book promotions firm. Brian has worked in the promoting industry since 1989 and has worked with clients of varied professions such as magician David Copperfield and best-selling author Og Mandino.

Can Any Book Survive the Future?

All creative artists want their work to be embraced by a loving public, even long after they are dead. They want to leave a legacy and to be appreciated by others. It doesn’t matter if it’s art, film, books, architecture, or other forms of creation—the desire and drive of all creators is the same.

Sure, some are ego-driven, money-hungry, fame-seekers, but all, at the heart of their efforts, want to see their work valued and to know it has inspired, enlightened, entertained, and informed others. They want to know they sparked a dialogue, provoked action, stimulated thought, and led to a change in society or impacted lives. Writers want to think that they created something not just for today or for a generation, but something everlasting and permanent.

The truth is it doesn’t work that way. Not at all.

The other day, I was in a public library helping my eight-year-old son do research for a school report he was writing for his second-grade class. While we looked for books about the Blue Iguana of the Cayman Islands (we found none), I happened upon a volume titled “Colonial History to 1877.” As I flipped through the pages of the book, I realized how much has happened in our nation’s history of nearly 237 years, and I said to my son: “You know, there will come a time when all of the history you will spend your school years learning will be taught in a day.”

Eventually, there will be little difference between 1813, 1913, or 2013, because so much history will have taken place over the years. Here’s what may happen:

  • The more recent history of the present era will seem more significant and important than the distant past.
  • So many more significant things will happen in the centuries to come that by the time it is 2513, to reflect on the quaint times of today will seem insignificant.
  • As time goes by, the time dedicated to studying history will be replaced, in part, to be used to learn new skills that future technologies will bring about.

Our ability to record news, find facts, publish analysis, and share information will overwhelm the education system and forbid it to properly give students enough time to discuss any specific event or subject in great detail.

Every year that goes by, the amount of classroom time spent learning about history generally remains the same but the amount of time put to any one event or person shrinks because more history is created and has to be covered. History books have three decades of history and five more presidents to write about since I graduated high school in 1984.

How much longer will the school year need to be in order to properly cover future history? I calculated I spent about an hour per day in class on history—some 2,160 school hours (an hour per school day, 180 days per year, 12 years). That is about 10 hours dedicated per every year of this nation’s history. That means another 290 hours of instruction would be needed just to cover the last 29 years. What will that come to in 100 years? 1,000 years? 10,000 years?

So, I come back to my opening remarks about the lifespan of a creative artist’s work, especially books. We still read old books—the Bible, works of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and some ancient texts, but compared to all that has been written and published, how many books are read well beyond an author’s lifetime? Most books expire. They have a shelf-life even if they can exist forever online. Relevance, discoverability, language—all of these things doom most books.

But it does not stop us from writing as if our words will last forever. Heck, before we can think about our works being read and enjoyed a century from now, we struggle to find readers today. But we can strive to write today and hope the words live another day.

The odds of being read today are much greater than they will be even next week, when, at least 7,000 more books will have been published by traditional publishers. Write as if you’ll be read tomorrow, but hope to be read today.

Remember these words, for chances are they won’t live beyond your lifetime: Create because you reflect the truth. Create because you need an alternative to the truth. Create because you don’t know the truth. Create, to inspire greater truths.

History will tell us what really was true, if only history were complete, unbiased, and accurate. Who knows how long your words will exist, so make them count right now. If your words do their job to inspire greatness, change, and more creativity, then they will become useless and unneeded with time. They will have led a revolution that will render them obsolete. Perhaps being made obsolete is the honor to strive for.

Will your words stand the test of time?

 

Brian Feinblum is the chief marketing officer of Planned Television Arts (rebranded as Media Connect), the nation’s largest and oldest book promotions firm. Brian has worked in the promoting industry since 1989 and has worked with clients of varied professions such as magician David Copperfield and best-selling author Og Mandino.

Battle for Book Sales Beyond Amazon

The marketplace for books—whether print, digital, or audio—is clearly owned by Amazon. According to RR Bowker, as of October 1, 2012, Amazon accounts for 27% of total units sold, which is an improvement from 21% a year earlier. Barnes & Noble went from 17% to 16%. Other than these two retailers, no single company scored in the double digits. In fact, no single category of sales channel hit double digits. Here’s how the rest of the book marketplace breaks down:

  • All independent bookstores, combined – 6%
  • Other ebook and audio download sites – 6%
  • Other e-commerce sites – 6%
  • All book clubs – 5%
  • Discount, closeout, and thrift stores – 5%
  • Walmart – 4%
  • Non-traditional bookstores – 3%
  • Warehouse clubs – 3%
  • Christian bookstores – 2%
  • Target – 2%
  • Books-A-Million – 2%
  • Supermarkets – 1%
  • All other means – 12%

The book marketing battlefield runs beyond bookstores or e-commerce sites. Books are everywhere and nowhere. But however they are sold, there is no doubt that sales will always be driven by savvy book marketing and the garnering of news media coverage. Word of mouth makes a big difference but only once there is a critical mass of interest that builds up form marketing exposure. Publishers and authors will continue to identify their target readers, sell their books everywhere in every form, and market to their core readers. Promote—or perish!

 

Brian Feinblum is the chief marketing officer of Planned Television Arts (rebranded as Media Connect), the nation’s largest and oldest book promotions firm. Brian has worked in the promoting industry since 1989 and has worked with clients of varied professions such as magician David Copperfield and best-selling author Og Mandino.

What’s a Book Worth?

As the debate rages within the publishing industry over how much information is worth, a May 3rd Sotheby’s auction yielded a $170 million windfall for 44 works of art. There was one painting—a Picasso—that sold for $21.3 million. It made me wonder why we don’t value the written word the same way.

Now, granted, books, other than ancient or rare manuscripts, will never fetch millions of dollars, but why is information today being devalued in the marketplace?

The Internet poses many challenges to information peddlers. Book publishers, newspapers, magazines, and websites are still searching for the ideal pricing model. Part of the problem is there’s so much information out there and a lot of it is free. But the art of writing should not be commoditized, where we weigh words by the pound. It’s the quality, more than the quantity, of content that should count.

As it is, many authors fail to earn much from their work. Publishers Weekly reported on a study performed last year that showed 7% of all books published generate 87% of the sales revenue. Further, 93% of all published books sold less than 1,000 copies each. In fairness, many sales happen off the radar (via authors’ sites, seminars, bulk organization sales, etc.) and thus there are probably more successful authors thank this study shows, but still, these are sobering statistics.

Book publishers have made a tactical error in making ebooks so cheap. As a result, they undercut the perceived value of all published writings. It’s a model that, the longer it persists, will be harder to reverse. I would prefer they give extra value to a higher purchase price, rather than lower the price.

There are many factors weighing on the pricing of information, including the following:

  • We’re still in a recessionary mode and for some, buying a book or subscribing to a magazine poses some challenges.
  • Publishers are playing follow the leader, letting Amazon, Apple, or Walmart dictate terms. If a publisher tries to push its own model, it has to compete against what the vast majority has established.
  • All information is competing with each other, so people are choosing what to spend money on—while also reading free blogs, posts on social networking sites, and tweets.
  • More than ever before, people are spending time creating content and writing and, therefore, devote less time reading and buying the works of others. Our nation is moving from consumers to producers of content.
  • Aside from free and purchasable information, there is a competition for time and mindshare. People also devote hours and hours to television, radio, video games, on-demand video, and a host of other entertainment forms.
  • As the number of e-readers increases, more people will secure information digitally, and thus, the printed version of content is likely to suffer lower sales.
  • Global competition online. Walking into a bookstore used to confront you with hundreds of thousands of choices but online, the choices extend to the millions. Books never go out of print online and no boundary of store or country stands in the way of your accessing materials from around the globe.

 

In time, the dust will settle. I would venture a guess that in a few years a clearer model of pricing will develop and the lines will blur as to what even constitutes a book. Information will merge and the distinction of what’s a book, a magazine, a newspaper, or a blog will become less clear.

Just look at television and movies. The boundaries of distinction are decreasing. Not long ago the major TV networks produced content and then syndicated reruns were shown on cable stations. Now cable stations produce original shows. Netflix used to rent old TV shows and movies. Now it’s getting into the game of airing shows that didn’t air elsewhere first. More importantly, people are not going to movie theaters as often as they used to and not buying DVDs as often as they used to. They watch it on TV or through streaming online video, for free or little charge. Even worse, millions of homes are off the TV grid.

Nielsen reported that 3.5% of all homes do not own a single TV. Some of it is attributed to the recession, although TV-based entertainment is cheaper than almost all other forms. Some of it is attributed to the switch two years ago over the elimination of antennas, thus requiring transition to cable or the purchase of a converter box. Others may simply believe TV offers nothing of redeeming value and avoid it. But the real culprit may be the Internet. People are watching TV for free online.

So what does all of this add up to when it comes to pricing books? I would suggest publishers stop lowering their prices and curtail all of the free content to a degree. Or else look for ways to trumpet the uniqueness of a book. Authors devote their lives to their writing. Shouldn’t they get paid more than what comes out to below-minimum-wage royalties? This is true for self-publishers and print-on-demand authors: don’t devalue your own work. Once we’re all on the same page, the market shall improve.

But if writing doesn’t pay off for you, consider investing in art. I hear there’s money to be made there.

 

Brian Feinblum is the chief marketing officer of Planned Television Arts (rebranded as Media Connect), the nation’s largest and oldest book promotions firm. Brian has worked in the promoting industry since 1989 and has worked with clients of varied professions such as magician David Copperfield and best-selling author Og Mandino.