Wednesday, March 19, 2008

After the writing comes the selling

Just back from a publishing seminar in Los Angeles.

A few short notes. No time to blog...

1. Writing is half the job. Selling is the other half.
2. The first three months, publishers market books aggressively. After that, less so, if at all.
3. Royalty income is a myth for 99% of the books published. I talked to a best-selling (in my niche market) writer, and she said that she earns most of her money from seminars and selling books on the table at the back of the room.
4. Everything changes when you publish a book. People treat you differently. I signed my first autograph this weekend. I was returning from lunch when someone said, "You're Tony Levelle!" and asked me to sign their copy of Producing With Passion.
5. When looking for a book idea, ask yourself, "What do I want to be talking about in 5 years?"
6. Book income these days comes from book signings, workshops, seminars, etc.
7. Best formula for long-term writing success is this: provide an honest, high quality product that makes people's lives easier and saves them money.
8. When leaving home for book signing gigs, pack books not clothes. That way if the bookstore has no books when you arrive, (maybe sold out while waiting for you to appear) you pull books out of your suitcase and stack them on the table.
9. When the distributor's sales person pitches the book to a bookstore buyer (Barnes and Noble, etc.) he or she will likely have 2-3 seconds to tell the buyer what makes your book different, and why the buyer should stock it. 2-3 seconds! That's all the time a typical buyer will take to decide whether to pass on your book. When I asked the distributor's rep what she needed from me, as a writer, she said, "Don't tell me about the content. I don't need to know that. What I need to know is 'what makes it (your book) different than all the other books out there. Why should the book buyer take it. Tell me why it's different."
10. When writing books, aim for a steady stream of 'doubles and singles' as opposed to the 'home run.' Home runs are always possible, but a steady string of doubles and singles will build income and a sustainable career.
11. Create a "myth" for your book. Every book has a story behind it. Tell that story.
12. Learn to use Amazon. Post short videos of yourself (giving useful information), add comments, use list features... Amazon is continually tinkering with the site and developing features that authors can use to increase book sales. Read the Amazon "increasing your book sales" tutorials.
13. Foreign sales and translations are a Big Deal. When you are speaking or holding a workshop in a foreign country, it really helps to have a translation on the table. Even though everyone reads English, a translation will increase sales.
14. Revise a book when you have 20-30% new material.
15. When you revise, try to keep the page numbering the same. This lowers the cost to the publisher. They don't have to 're flow' (do a new page layout) on the book or create a new index.
16. Use Power DVD to do screen captures.
17. A copyright consultant told me that single frames of movies, with acknowledgment of copyright holder, are "clearly legal" under Fair Use law. (This is NOT LEGAL ADVICE. This is 'gossip over the water cooler.' If you want to use someone's copyrighted material, talk to a copyright lawyer.)

Much more to write about. Collected about 10 pages of notes.

With two books out (Producing With Passion, June 08. Digital Video Secrets, Spring 09) I'm told that my plate is full. I have a full time job creating buzz for the books, writing magazine articles about the books and planning workshops and seminars.

Meanwhile, I continue daily writing discipline and collect material for next book.

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