Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9 pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with Stephanie Chandler, @Bizauthor. Stephanie is the author of several books including The Nonfiction Book Marketing Plan: Online and Offline Promotion Strategies to Build Your Audience and Sell More Books, Own Your Niche and From Entrepreneur to Infopreneur. Stephanie is also CEO of Authority Publishing specializing in custom book publishing and social media marketing services, and runs a marketing community for authors www.nonfictionauthorsassociation.com. She’s also a blogger for Forbes. Check out her new book The Nonfiction Book Marketing Plan.
SmallBizLady: The number of people self-publishing is increasing each year. What are your thoughts on this trend?
Stephanie Chandler: Many authors have gotten turned off by traditional publishing and self-publishing is easier than ever. Traditional publishers can change your book title, manuscript content, and design a cover you don’t like—and you won’t have a say in the outcome. They also aren’t doing much marketing for authors and are paying paltry royalties averaging about $1 per book. Many authors have bid farewell to traditional publishing in favor of self-publishing, including Seth Godin, J.A. Konrath, and myself. Self-publishing puts the control back in the author’s hands.
SmallBizLady: What are some benefits for an entrepreneur publishing a book?
Stephanie Chandler: Being an author makes you an instant authority in your field. A book can help you impress clients, land speaking engagements, increase your rates, and much more. Nearly every entrepreneur can benefit from publishing a book.
SmallBizLady: What are the first steps a new author should take to begin building an audience?
Stephanie Chandler: First, you have to identify who you want to reach. I am a firm believer in carving out a niche. If you cast the net too wide it’s harder to connect with your audience, but if you narrow it down, you’ll have a better chance of success. For example, if you’re a life coach writing a book about transforming your life, consider a niche. Could your book be about life transformation for baby boomers? For women going through divorce? A niche will help your book stand out.
SmallBizLady: After the audience is determined, what should happen next?
Stephanie Chandler: Start with a blog and update it at least twice per week. Blogging was practically made for authors. When you update yours regularly, you will increase website traffic and engage readers. Your blog is also the heart of your social media strategy. Share each new post across your social media networks and watch the magic begin to happen.
SmallBizLady: What are some of your favorite strategies for leveraging social media to promote books?
Stephanie Chandler: Twitter chats—ha ha! Social media is loaded with opportunities for book promotion. In addition to sharing blog posts, you can reach out to your audience and build alliances. You can also promote book excerpts, give-aways, events and contests. Get people excited about your book! Book marketing was a lot harder before social media came along.
SmallBizLady: Are authors still using traditional publicity strategies or is everything online now?
Stephanie Chandler: Traditional publicity is still helpful, but most press releases go into the abyss. A better strategy is to contact media pros directly with a simple email pitch. Keep in mind that reporters need you as much as you need them! They need fresh story ideas. Make their jobs easier by pitching news-worthy story ideas. It’s not about your book; it’s about a theme from your book that benefits their audience.
SmallBizLady: What are some other strategies you use to build an audience online?
Stephanie Chandler: Reach out to bloggers for reviews and guest posts. This takes time, but can produce great results if you reach bloggers in your niche. Also, participate in internet radio interviews. This is an underutilized opportunity for authors. These shows are typically promoted online and archived to YouTube. Find shows to pitch via http://BlogTalkRadio.com, http://voiceamerica.com, and http://womensradio.com.
SmallBizLady: Do you think it’s a good idea for an author to publish an ebook without a printed book?
Stephanie Chandler: If you’re going to produce an ebook, put it in print too. Otherwise you miss half of your readers. Ebook sales exploded in recent years, but they are leveling out. Many readers still prefer to hold a book. Plus, media pros won’t consider you an author unless you have a tangible book. My clients find that ebook and print book sales tend to keep pace with each other.
SmallBizLady: What are some common mistakes you see authors make?
Stephanie Chandler: The biggest mistake authors make is to wait until the book is released to start marketing. If possible, start building your audience a year before your book comes out. The other big issue is that they lose momentum. After the book launch, the frenzy dies down in a month or so and frustration sets in. I call this “author post-partum.” Authors get frustrated with marketing and give up. But it takes action to produce results.
SmallBizLady: If you were starting your author career over today, what would be the first thing you would do?
Stephanie Chandler: Start a killer blog with content geared toward a niche audience. Then add social media, which is like the frosting on the cake!
SmallBizLady: You have some resources for authors. Please share them:
SmallBizLady: What’s the ultimate key to successfully selling a book?
Stephanie Chandler: Keep the momentum going and don’t make excuses. Even New York Times bestselling authors have day jobs and must make the time for marketing. Book promotion takes ongoing, daily effort. And it’s a marathon, not a race. Do three things every day to promote your book and you will have no choice but to succeed!
For more tips on how start or grow your small business subscribe to Melinda Emerson’s blog http://www.succeedasyourownboss.com.