Posts Tagged ‘published and profitable’

Last week, I discussed some of the ways authors can attract profitable speaking invitations.

This week, I’d like to take the idea of “speaking for profit” to the next level, which involves creating, marketing, and producing special events like conferences, seminars, and workshops. These differ from speaking in two important ways:

  • Multiple presenters. Conferences and workshops, often called “bootcamps,” typically involve multiple speakers. Often, there’s a well-known keynote speaker, followed by sessions conducted by subject area experts- -often other authors- -who may be paid, but often participate because of the visibility and opportunity to demonstrate their competence to attendees who may be coaching or consulting prospects.
  • Affiliate marketers. Authors presenting conferences and workshops often depend on marketing affiliates to help promote and sell tickets to their events in exchange for either a flat fee, or a percentage of each attendee’s fees.

Major profit potential

Profits for authors presenting in-person events can be significant. Profits quickly mount up when you have 100 or 500 people paying several hundred dollars to attend a live event. Successful events also create a buying frenzy of back-of-the-room profits from books,
CD’s, DVD’s, and workbooks.

Soon after Looking Good in Print appeared, I became a lead speaker for desktop publishing conferences produced several times a year around the country by Thunderlizard Productions, a partnership of three authors. I remember staring out at hotel ballrooms filled with participants who often faithfully attended each year’s conference, as well as pre-conference and post-conference workshops.

Other sources of event profits include:

  • Booth rentals. This involves renting booth in an adjacent “open-to-the-public” exhibition space to firms interested in marketing to conference attendees.
  • Sponsorships. Often, corporations sponsor pre-conference breakfasts, sponsored lunches, and happy hour afternoon networking events.
  • DVD’s and CDs. When events are recorded, post-conference sales of audios, transcripts, and videos create excellent content for direct-marketing and back of the room sales at upcoming events.
  • Pre-registrations. Before one year’s event ends, savvy producers are usually offering significant discounts for attendees who pre-register for next year’s conference. These pre-registrations, of course, help pay for marketing next year’s event!

All is not entirely rosy, of course; promotion and space rental costs can be huge, and the potential of major losses is possible because of events far beyond your control. I also remember numerous event cancellations immediately following 9/11, and the current economic environment doesn’t encourage attendance at anything other than the most important events.

As a result of this, authors are frequently turning to “virtual events” based on computer and telephone-based teleseminars or webinars. These typically take place over several days. Whether in-person or virtual, however, the principles remain the same.

7 keys to success and profits

Even more than books, conferences and workshops are planning-intensive. Success involves careful planning and co-ordination. Planning often begins a year, or more, in advance.

Above is a copy of a mind map I’ve created to help clients plan their event’s success. The map’s purpose is to help you co-ordinate the 7 key activities that will determine your event’s success and profits:

  1. Planning. Planning involves answering 2 key questions. The first question is, Where and when do you want to hold your event? This involves identifying and contacting conference and banquet facilities in the areas where you want to host your event. Realities like availability and pricing have to be balanced with desired requirements. The second question is, Who do you want to attend your event? As a successful author and marketer, you’re probably familiar with the concept of personas, described in Author’s Journey #2: How to Target the Right Readers for Your Book.
  2. Promotion. As soon as you have locked-down space availability, it’s important to start preparing your online and offline marketing. Once you have identified your location and target market, you can start preparing landing pages and a web site for your event, even if the pages won’t go live until later. Details can always be added, but it’ essential to give copywriters and designers enough time to prepare the foundation for a multi-faceted and multimedia promotion program.
  3. Sales. In addition to creating sales copy and attractive landing pages, you have to set up a sales system which will not only facilitate online registration and sales, but also will allow marketing affiliates to sell for you. First, you have to sell your event to marketing affiliates, getting them behind your event. Second, you have to provide your affiliates with the sales tools- -e-mail copy, pre-written blog posts, graphics- – they need to sell their markets. And, finally, you need to sell- -or convert- -visitors when they are sent to your website.
  4. Content. Next, you need to create a “table of contents” for your events by identifying and contacting other experts in your field and convince them to speak at your event. Scheduling can be time-consuming because of the necessary co-ordination. Mind maps help you visually display the status of various time slots each morning and afternoon of your event. With a map, you can easily keep track of multiple speakers and multiple conference rooms throughout your event. After deciding who speaks when, you have to work with them and make sure their presentation addresses the topics you’ve agreed upon.
  5. Visuals. Most events include a video component as well as a spoken message. Among the decisions you’ll have to make is whether or not to require all presenters use a presentation template that’s branded to your event. By encouraging presenters to use the same template pays off in terms of projecting a consistent and professional image. Again, your Workshop Planning Map can help you track the status of the various presenter’s visuals.
  6. Handouts. Attendee handouts will play an important role in the perceived value of your event. This is no place for last-minute cost cutting. To your attendees, your handouts are their primary “souvenir.” Attendees, and their attendee’s friends, co-workers, and employers, will judge the value of your event by the quality of your handouts. In addition, evaluations are an important part of your event. Handouts must include clearly-marked evaluation forms that must be collected after each presentation.
  7. Follow-up. Your event isn’t over on the last day. The success of next year’s event is paved by what you do after the event. Ideally, if your event ends on a Saturday, attendees will receive a “Thank You” gift in the mail on Monday, their next day back at work. By sending a tangible expression of your appreciation to attendees- -ideally, a “bonus” item that relates to your event- -you’ll be cementing a relationship that will last for years.

Although broken apart for clarity, above, many of the above tasks have to be simultaneously addressed. By analyzing all of the tasks involved in a successful event, and displaying them on a single mind map- -especially one that can be shared online by everyone involved in your event’s success- -you can monitor what’s been done, and what still needs to be done.

Planning & profits

Planning is a constant theme throughout a successful Author Journey, as you can see from my previous 32 posts.

But, no amount of planning can protect against every eventuality; Who could have foreseen the empty planes and empty pre-paid seminar seats following 9/11? Yet, by focusing on the above issues, and giving yourself and your team enough time to do the job right, you can leverage your book into a series of profitable events that may catapult you into an entirely different tax bracket!

Author’s Journey #32: Speaking for Profit

by Roger Parker on July 30, 2010

Last week, I described some of the decisions involved in managing and marketing information products.

Authors depend on information products, workbooks, audios, and videos, they publish and distribute themselves because there’s more money in back-end products than they’re likely to ever earn from their books. The selling prices are typically higher, production and distribution costs are lower, and –with the exception of commissions paid to marketing affiliates–authors keep all of the profits to themselves.

However, the Internet is a crowded marketplace; there’s competition in even niche categories. And, expertly-crafted landing pages and sales letters aside, its often difficult to close sales online, especially as purchases prices increase.

Thus, the typical author’s need is to balance profits from information products with speaking profits.

Getting paid more than once

Authors who are speakers get paid over and over again. There are two reasons for this.

First, successful speakers don’t reinvent the wheel each time. They often have a limited repertoire that they customize for different speaking engagements. (I remember my excitement when Bill Cosby spoke at my son’s graduation, followed by disappointment when I saw he had repeated the same speech at several other colleges.)

Second, when you’re hired to deliver a keynote speech or presentation, you’re—basically–being paid to promote yourself.

No matter how good your online videos, when you meet your prospects face-to-face, or “press the flesh” after a speech or presentation, you’ve established a lasting bond that no online video or DVD can create.

Here are some of the other ways authors can profit over and over again from paid speaking engagements:

  • Speaking and workshop fees. A properly positioned author can earn 5-figure, and up, fees, plus travel and lodging, for one-hour keynote speeches. The better your track record and online promotion, and the more experienced your speaker bureau or sales staff, the more you can earn. One of the most successful techniques is to look for ways to up-sell prospects. If there is no price resistance, after securing agreement for a keynote speech, look for opportunities to add-on a follow-up workshop or seminar event. Better yet, in today’s tight-fisted environment, rather than negotiate your fee by reducing your prices, offer to provide some extra services, like a workshop or optional evening session, without charge. Half a loaf is always better than no loaf!
  • Back of the room sales. Traditionally, speakers have followed their speeches and presentations by selling information products from the back of the room, while the audience’s enthusiasm is at its highest. The key to these sales is your ability to subtly promote your products in the middle of your speech or presentation. Obviously, the more you’re paid for your speech, the less appropriate it is to aggressively promote your products. (But, that obviously doesn’t always keep authors on the straight and narrow.)
  • Coaching and consulting. As Harry Beckwith, author of such modern business classics as Selling the Invisible and What Clients Want told me in an interview, consulting assignments typically follow invitations to speak. Often, he’s brought into a corporation by a mid-level executive who has read his book and liked it. The original reader shares his copy with his superiors, and they are often intrigued enough to hire him. During the speech, Harry establishes eye contact and rapport with senior management, who often invite him to return to help them implement his suggestions.
  • Event premiums. During another recent interview, Bud Bilanich, the Common Sense Guy, told me that self-publishing offers numerous opportunities for speakers. “After I’m confirmed for an event, I ask my host if they have a budget for materials, or premiums, delivered during the event.” Bud then described how he prints a print-on-demand copy of his latest book for attendees, customizing the cover for the client and the event. Profits from these premium books can go right to the bottom line, as there is nothing to do except schedule the printing and book delivery to the conference center or ballroom where he will be speaking.

Annual encores. Corporate events like conferences, meetings, and corporate retreats, are often repeated each year. Once you’re invited and deliver a stellar performance, you’re likely to be invited back. Each return visit solidifies the author’s image as “one of us,” leading to more opportunities for selling information products and services.

Selling your speaking services

The starting point for premium speaking profits, of course, is write a good book; one that breaks new ground, tells an engaging story, and- -most important- -positions you as a thought leader with both information and inspiration.

This involves many of the topics previously covered in this series, such as:

  • Choosing a title that not only sells your book but creates a brand. A book is a one-time sale; a brand tells your story in a memorable way and differentiates you from the competition. A book can go out of date, but a brand can be updated for decades. So, choose your titles wisely! An earlier post in this series shared how to test your book’s proposed title and subtitle.
  • Book content must do more than just share information. Information is great, but information rarely inspires. Your tactical information has to resonate with broader concerns and goals. You want to inspire belief that positive change is possible, and- -through your writing and speaking style- -arouse enthusiasm for taking action.
  • Leveraging your book in the media. No matter how many books you sell, you’ll never sell a copy to everyone who can benefit from it. Accordingly, you need to target the markets and specific reader demographics you want to read your book, then attract the attention of the appropriate media. Best possible scenarios?  The month your book appears, an article appears in a leading business or technology magazine, reviews appear in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, and you’re interviewed on MSNBC or National Public Radio’s or Marketplace. Obviously, the likelihood of this happening depends on the caliber of the marketing and public resources you hire to promote your book.
  • Speakers bureaus. In addition to public relations and press resources, you will probably want to familiarize yourself with speaker’s bureaus and the protocols associated with them. Their websites often explain the criteria they look for in potential clients. More important, with a little research, you can find out the fees speaker’s bureaus are charging for authors who have written books similar to yours

One sheets and website ideas

Although you may not be ready for a speaker’s bureau, it’s never too early to prepare a one sheet describing your speaking background and the topics you speak on. An earlier post in this series, described the essentials of a successful author one sheet and included links to several of the best one sheets I’ve discovered. Here’s another blog post about author one sheets and online promotion.

Whenever possible, try to have your speeches recorded, and always ask for a copy of the recording. Even if you can’t distribute the recording, a recording of your speech will help you evaluate your performance.

Even better, when negotiating a paid speaking engagement, try to obtain rights to post excerpts from the recording on your website and blog. Even a single moment can be enough to create a compelling visual that communicates your ability to mesmerize and animate your audience.

Invitation

Share your questions about marketing your speaking services as comments, below.

Information products are an author’s best friend; they offer far more profit potential than authors can earn from book sales alone. Last week, we explored the 3 main issues involved in creating profitable information products: copyright, format, and topic.

This week, we’ll take a look at creating a process to produce, market, and schedule information products.

As I’ve stressed throughout this Author Journey, the goal of a system, or process, is to help you increase efficiency, reduce stress, and increase the likelihood of success.

The same systems I described to help you write your book also apply to creating and marketing information products that leverage off your book. The ideas I described when we discussed finding the time to write your book are equally applicable to creating information products. In both cases, success involves breaking big tasks into a series of smaller tasks, each with their own starting and completion dates.

Creating a process for Info-product success

The starting point to creating a process for managing and marketing your information products is to use a worksheet similar to the Info-product Production Worksheet, shown here, that I created for myself and my book coaching clients.

Like all Published & Profitable worksheets, it is designed to be downloaded and printed and filled out by hand.

The choice of format is important: in a world where we are usually tethered to our computers, there is often something liberating about writing by hand. Perhaps its the freedom to jot down ideas as they occur to you, and perhaps its the freedom to work wherever there’s a flat surface- -even if there’s no computer available.

The purpose of this worksheet is to be used after you have decided on the info-product formats and topics for your back-end products and services. (Other worksheets are available for evaluating options and prioritizing the information products you’re going to use to create back-end profits based on your book. )

Working with the Info-Product Production Calendar

Here are some ideas and tips for working with the Info-Product Production Calendar worksheet:

  • Multiple copies. Start by making several copies of the worksheet. Print a separate copy for each project you’ve decided to create and market. Print the worksheets on 3-hole punch paper, and store them in a a 3-ring binder. Add the project name and the current date at the top of each worksheet.
  • Dates. Note that for every task, there are spaces for entering 3 separate dates; a Starting Date, Goal date (i.e., desired completion), and Finished Date. The Finished Date is there to help you and your Info-product Team track your progress.
  • Create tasks. Begin by identifying the steps needed to create the Info-product. These tasks break down into Planning, Production, Copywriting, and Bonuses. Planning involves testing and market research. Copywriting involves preparing the marketing copy that will form the basis of online and offline product descriptions, downloadable one sheets, and press releases. Bonus are there to remind you that Info-product best practices include offering bonuses, often audios and videos, that enhance the perceived value of your offer.
  • Market. Many authors make the mistake of concentrating their time and energy on producing information products, then compromise the quality of their marketing materials by rushing them to completion. The purpose of the Market section of the worksheet is to encourage you to prepare the online pages needed for marketing your Info-products as far ahead of time as possible. Luckily, WordPress and other online marketing tools allow you to prepare drafts that won’t be published until your Info-product is ready for sale.
  • Distribution. Likewise, it’s important to schedule your time so that you and others you’re working with have time to set up and test your delivery system, such as shopping carts to take and process orders and autoresponders to deliver them.
  • Tracking. One of the most important sections of this worksheet is the final section, which permits you to track the results of your marketing and compare page visits with the resulting sales. You can also use the Tracking section to identify and test variables, such as price, headline, or marketing copy, in order to constantly refine your marketing for each product or service.

Worksheet benefits

Worksheets, such as the Info-Product Production Calendar, are valuable in many ways. They remind you of the numerous tasks involved in marketing and selling even a relatively simple Info-Product. They make it easy for you to track your progress. They improve quality and reduce stress by helping you plan your time so you’ll avoid “deadline madness.” And they provide an easy way to consolidate a lot of different project information on a single sheet of paper.

Visit Published & Profitable’s Active Garage Resource Center where you’ll find examples of many of the worksheets described in previous Author’s Journey installments, as well as other resources to help you speed your journey. And, if you have any questions or suggestions, or examples of your favorite Info-products or Info-Product marketing, submit them as comments, below.

The next logical step, after planning, writing, and promoting your personal branding book, as described during the past 29 weeks, is to create a series of information products based on your book.

Information products are often referred to as “back end” profits, since the profit goes directly to the author, and the profit is generated after a reader’s initial purchase of a book.

The purpose of these information products is to build profitable, long-term relationships with prospects who have read your book and now know, like, and trust you. The key words in the previous sentence are profitable and long-term:

  • Profitable. The relatively low selling price of most books, coupled with the costs of production, printing, marketing, and distribution, severely limit an author’s profit options. However, there is no limit to the profits that authors can earn from selling information products based on their books.
  • Relationships. An author’s ultimate profitability is determined not by a reader’s first, or, even, second, follow-up sale, but by the author’s ability to create an on-going relationship that generates multiple sales from readers of their book.

Today, with the Internet, it’s easier than ever for branded, nonfiction authors to create and market information products to their tightly-defined markets. However, authors must prepare the groundwork well in advance of their book’s publication.

What are information products?

The best definition of information products comes from The Official Guide to Information Marketing on the Internet, by Robert Skrob & Bob Regnerus, with a Foreword by Dan Kennedy. (An Entrepreneur Press book.)

In the Foreword, Dan Kennedy wrote:

Information marketing, then, is about identifying a responsive market with a high interest in a particular group of topics and expertise, packaging information products and services, matching that interest (written/assembled by you or by others, or both) and devising ways to sell and deliver it.

Dan concludes: If you can name it, somebody is packaging and profitably information about it.

Information product decisions

As we have seen throughout my Author’s Journey, success is ultimately based on an author’s decision making ability. At every step along the way, authors are making decisions, choosing one title over another, deciding how much information to include in each chapter, and deciding whom to approach for pre-publication marketing quotes.

With regard to information products and back-end profits, authors must make 3 types of decisions:

  • Copyright. Who owns the rights to the book’s title and contents? When authors choose a trade publisher, copyright ownership is usually split between author and publisher. Although, on the surface, this sounds innocuous, it can lead to future problems in terms of using the book title and key ideas to generate information product profits that are not shared with the publisher. One of the reasons many authors choose to self-publish is freedom from potential copyright hassles.
  • Format. What are the best formatting choices for information products? How should information be packaged and distributed? Authors often approach formatting decisions, i.e., printed paper pages electronic files, CDs and DVDs versus streaming audio or video. However, a better way to approach formatting decisions is from the perspective of: Which format does my market desire?
  • Topics. After making the correct copyright and format decisions, the last topic involves choosing the specific topics, or titles, for information products. Should an author focus information products on providing the latest information, implementation assistance (i.e., tips and worksheets), or should the focus be on creating customized versions of the book for specific vertical markets?

There is no universal right or wrong way to answer the above questions. In most cases, information product decisions, like planning, writing, and book marketing decisions, ultimately involve serious tradeoffs.

An author’s decision to accept a trade publisher’s, hypothetically, $20,000 advance for a  hardcover book that will be sold in Barnes & Noble and Borders, plus airport bookstores, must be weighed against their 100% ownership of the brand created by the book and freedom to control audio and video rights, and create a profitable “train the trainer” program that can be sold around the country.

Sometimes, of course, it’s possible to do both! But, this won’t happen by accident!

If an author’s goal is to create a personally branded franchise that can be leveraged around the country, rights have to be negotiated with the publisher. Or, the author should plan on max’ing out the credit cards, or taking out a second mortgage on the house, in order to self-publish their book.

Closing thought

For too long, authors have approached writing books from an ideas, or purely “writing,” point of view. A few authors, with a more enlightened point of view, have viewed books as the result of a partnership between writing and marketing.

But, now, as competition for traditional retail shelf space has intensified while the Internet has opened new avenues for self-publishing and self-marketing have opened up, it’s become increasingly obvious that it is difficult to separate books from information products. Today’s most successful authors view their books as tools for subsequent sales of information products; authors are now publishers; but can only succeed as publishers when they plan, from the start, to make the transition

During the past 28 weeks, we’ve been exploring ways to plan, write, and promote your book. Now, it’s time to enter the final stage of the Publishing Success Cycle, Step Four, Profiting.

During the next few installments, I’ll share ideas and tips for leveraging your book into higher profits for your business.

Learning from the successes of others

As we have seen so often in the past, the starting point is to get in the habit of constantly researching the competition online, studying the websites of authors who have written books in your field.

The goal of analyzing your competition’s websites is not to copy them, but to explore ways other authors have profited from their books, suggesting ideas you can adapt for:

  • Creating information products, like reports, updates, videos, worksheets, templates, and webinars that readers of your book are likely to be interested in.
  • Developing coaching and consulting services that will help your readers implement your ideas and recommendations.
  • Building your speaker’s platform, cultivating invitations from event planners and speaker’s bureaus to deliver high-paying corporate keynote speeches, presentations, and workshops.

Research tips

Here are a few ideas to help you make the most of your explorations:

  • Look beyond the obvious. When searching for profit ideas on author sites, expand your search beyond the authors and experts in your field. Explore the websites of authors in a variety of subjects.
  • Know where to look. When you’re at their websites, explore keywords and navigation links like Products, Services, Coaching, Consulting, Assistance, To Learn More, and the like. You may also locate useful ideas in the Calendar, Press, or Media sections of their websites.
  • Expand your horizons. Look for profit ideas used by others who write books in similar fields. Look for ideas that you can be the first to offer in your field!

For example, instead of just exploring author profit ideas from authors who have written books in your field, consider expanding your research using, as a guide, Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten’s The 100 Best Business Books of All Time. Start by creating an alphabetical list of the authors of the 100 Best Business Books, search for their websites, and create links to the websites. Then, visit each website and explore how each author profits from their books.

Another option is to visit the archives of Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten’s 1-800-CEO Reads Top 25 Business Books of the Month to identify successful business-oriented authors and study their websites. You can go back many years, studying the most important books from different months.

Or, you can visit the Author Page of the Harvard Business Review, and similar book publishers, and track down the websites of their authors in order to study how they profit from products, services, and speaking.

Tracking the results of your research

As always, the key to success is to carefully track the results of your research, so you can easily pull-out the most important lessons.

To help Published & Profitable members and my personal coaching clients keep track of the author websites they visit, and the profit ideas they’ve gathered from each site. You can download my Author Profit Tracking Worksheet, along with previous worksheets, from Published & Profitable’s Active Garage resource page.

You’re invited to download the worksheet, and print as many copies as you need on 3-hole punched paper. Fill out the worksheets by hand, tracking each author’s products, services, and speech/presentation topics. Then, store the worksheets in a 3-ring binder.

Author profit ideas and examples

Few authors are fortunate enough to be able to ignore profit opportunities generated by their book, beyond what they earn from the initial sale of their book!

I encourage you to spend a minimum of 30-45 minutes a week studying how other authors profit from their books. For more inspiring ideas and examples of how other authors are profiting from their book, I invite you to visit my growing (22+) online list of Author Profit Ideas at http://urli.st. In fact, you’re invited to add links to your favorite author profit ideas to my online list, or you can add submit your author profit ideas below, as comments

Week In Review – Jun 27 – Jul 3, 2010

by Magesh Tarala on July 4, 2010

What can Cloud do for you?

by Marc Watley, Jun 28, 2010

The recent AT&T/iPad security debacle provided some sensational headlines. But that does not mean you should stay away from cloud computing. If you follow Marc’s recommendations in this post, you can adopt Cloud solutions to remain competitive and do so in a secure and highly available fashion. more…

Leadership and Mythology #8: Myth, Self-Discovery and Business

by Gary Monti, Jun 29, 2010

Tired of doing things you regret? Wonder why the behaviors continue even though they sabotage your position? Vacillate from submission to aggression when making business deals? Want to stop all this and just stay on your unique path? Wonder where the Hell that path is? Read this article to understand the three level of truth and how they tie to your Myth. more…

Social Media and Tribes #4: Tribal leadership

by Deepika Bajaj, on Jun 30, 2010

The word “tribe” has become part of the popular lexicon. If you have wondered what constitutes a tribe and how they function, this article is for you. People who end up as tribal leaders are the ones who leave the tribe better than they found them. more…

Flexible Focus #8: Memory is a slippery slope

by William Reed, Jul 1, 2010

Just like there is a learning curve, there is a forgetting curve. Without periodic review we forget what we learn and in a month’s time we retain only 20% of what we learned a month before. In this article William give describes how to use the Mandala Chart to improve retention. more…

Author’s Journey #28: Creating a marketing plan for your book

by Roger Parker, Jul 2, 2010

During the past 10 weeks, Roger’s post have covered different approaches to marketing your book, including list-building incentivesone sheets, and obtaining pre-publication quotes. This week’s article ties the previous 10 installments together and closes Part 3, Planning, by discussing the importance of creating a book marketing plan as early as possible. more…

As we’ve seen in the past 5 blog posts, an author’s marketing and promotion responsibilities begin long before their book’s publication date. It’s never too early to begin marketing and promoting your book!

In this post, we’re going to examine the advantages of building your network among the experts in your field, which usually includes the authors of existing titles in your field.

The main reason to build your expert network as early as possible is so you can obtain pre-publication quotes for the front and back covers of your book. The better known the expert, the more credibility their quote will add to your book!

Books by new authors, especially, benefit from the credibility that an established author’s name and comment can add to your book. When a recognized expert endorses your book, some of their fame and trust rubs off on you; this reduces the hesitation involved in buying a book by a new author.

Why will authors of competing books endorse your book?

On the surface, you may wonder why authors are usually willing to endorse competing books.

The reason is simple; when their endorsement appears on the cover of your book, their endorsement benefits them almost as much as you. Their name and quote on your book cover reinforces their expert status in the field. Equally important, it maintains their visibility and reminds readers of their book, or books.

Their endorsement of your book also positions them in a favorable light, demonstrating their willingness to “do the right thing” and help newcomers to the field. In addition, I’ve found most authors like to help other authors. Chances are, when they were starting out, they benefited from the guidance and support of earlier experts. The support they offer you is their way of giving thanks and keeping the good vibes flowing.

Other benefits of expert networking

Once you establish communication and create an e-mail or telephone relationship with an expert in your field, of course, there’s no way of knowing where that relationship will take you. If you and the expert “click,” the benefits might extend to:

  • Interviews. You might be able to interview the expert for your book, and the expert might recommend others who might provide additional information or testimonials.
  • Increased presence in your book. If the expert really likes what they see of your book, they might be willing to provide an Introduction or Foreword for your book. They might even consider providing a chapter, or more, for your book.
  • Introductions to other experts. An expert might be able to pave the way for you to successfully re-contact individuals who, previously, did not respond to your initial e-mail or telephone communications.
  • Referrals and pass-alongs. Another advantage of establishing your expert network is that they might pass your name along to meeting planners looking for additional speakers, or refer coaching and consulting prospects to you when they can’t take on the project themselves.

So, the networking you do to obtain book cover quotes from experts in your field might be just opening the door to future opportunities and projects.

3 Steps to Success

Today, thanks to the Internet, it’s easier than ever to communicate with published authors and other high-visibility experts in your field.

The following is a simple 3-step process that has worked for me and many of my book coaching clients.

Step 1: Target the right experts

The first step is to identify the experts whose endorsement will do the most good for your book. Begin with the authors of existing books in your field, then expand your search to others who may have had firsthand experience with the problem or goal you are addressing in your book.

As you broaden your search, search for bloggers, reporters, and other commentators who write about the topic. Search for educators who may have conducted research in your field or spoken on the topic. Finally, if appropriate, consider searching for well-known business owners or celebrities who may have had personal experiences with the topic you’re writing about. If the celebrity approach makes sense, don’t try to make direct contact, but locate their publicist who could put you in contact with them.

Most important, develop a system to track the results of your expert search. In addition to their website and contact information, for example, jot down how you located them and the reason their endorsement will add credibility to your book.

During the first step, avoid prematurely contacting the individuals. Continue your research before moving on to Step Two.

Step 2: Prepare your initial contact

The key to success in building your expert network is to create connections, or build bridges, to the expert. You must pave the way for your initial contact. Here are some ideas:

  • Authors. If they have written a book, read it. Pay particular attention to the chapters that are relevant to your topic, and take detailed notes.
  • Social marketing. If they have a blog, familiarize yourself with their previous posts and comment whenever appropriate on their latest posts. Reference their blog posts on your blog. Follow their Tweets on Twitter.com and Retweet when appropriate.
  • Speeches. If they are speaking or presenting in your area, attend the event so that you can later reference the event in your communications. Likewise, if possible, try to attend their teleseminars, webinars, and workshops.

Look for connectors who may already have an established association with the expert. Connectors take many forms. Perhaps they are peers, perhaps they studied with them, worked with them, or have hired them in the past. Any plausible connection that can be expanded into the subject line of an e-mail is preferable to a cold call from a stranger.

Next, prepare a package containing detailed information about your project, but don’t include your entire manuscript, and don’t immediately send it! What I have found works well is a PDF containing:

  • 1-page mission statement describing your book’s “big idea,” it’s intended market, and a brief statement of reader benefits.
  • Detailed table of contents, with primary and secondary headings.
  • 2 sample chapters.

Experts are busy; avoid information overkill. Send the minimum needed to communicate the quality of your project. If the recipient wants to see more, they’ll let you know!

In your initial communication, be as concise and polite as possible as you explain why you’re contacting them. Reference their article, book, blog, or speech. Describe its relevance to your book.

Conclude by asking their permission to send them more information about your project, and ask them if they prefer an electronic PDF file or printed copies.

If they express interest, send your information package as soon as possible. (That’s why you want to prepare it before you contact them.) The goal of your initial communication is to get them to agree to taking a look at your materials, not to immediately generate a suitable endorsement. Remember: you’re asking a favor, and a significant one; you’re asking them to put their seal of approval on your book.

Step 3: Follow-up and track the results

Don’t despair if you do not immediately receive a response to your initial communication. Never assume a lack of response is a rejection.

Instead, allow a week, or 10 days, to go by before you re-contact them. Send a follow-up e-mail, and- -again- -keep it as short as possible.

Persistence pays off! Keep on their radar scope with short, relevant, e-mails at consistent intervals. It may take several e-mails, but, that’s okay! The expert may be traveling, on deadline, or on jury duty, only responding to e-mails from recognized clients or peers.

Eventually, however, the pressure will go away. At that point, they may go through their unopened e-mail and be intrigued enough by your persistence to respond favorably to your request for permission to send them information and samples from your book.

Indeed, they may even pick-up the phone and call you, to find out who’s the person behind the e-mail!

Visit my Active Garage resource center, where you can download a worksheets for expert networking, and previous Author Journey topics

One sheets are single page, 8 ½ by 11-inch, marketing documents used by authors to promote their books and build their profits by attracting speaking invitations and promoting their coaching and consulting services.

One sheets can be as simple, or elaborate, as desired. You can create them using either one, or both sides, of a sheet of paper. One sheets are typically formatted and distributed as Adobe Acrobat PDF files. They can be downloaded from your website, or sent as e-mail attachments. One sheets can also be printed, or commercially duplicated, as needed for face-to-face meetings or special events.

How authors use one sheets

Here are some of the ways you can put one sheets to work:

  • Sell more books. Authors typically prepare separate one sheets for each of their book titles. Each book is typically described within the broader context of the author’s qualifications and previous publishing experience.
  • Attract more invitations to speak. One-sheets make it easy for authors to showcase their qualifications and experiences to conference planners and event organizers. You can create a generic speaker one sheet that describes the different topics you speak on, or you can prepare a different one-sheet for each specific keynote or presentation topic. See sample speaker one sheets.
  • Products and services. One sheets make a lot more sense than the typical pre-printed 2 or 3-fold brochures used for promoting events, like teleseminars, and coaching and consulting services. Because of their low cost, one sheets can be targeted for specific markets. Authors frequently use them for marketing information products like e-books, e-courses, conferences, and software templates.

Print them as you need them

In many ways, one sheets are replacing traditional 2-fold and 3-fold printed brochures. Internet distribution means there are no minimums that need to be printed, and there are no distribution delays or mailing costs.

Even better, you can quickly and easily update and target your one sheets for new products or specific prospects or market segments.

One sheet power at work

As you can see from the example of Steve Savage’s speaker one sheet, one sheets formatted as PDFs combine space for a detailed message with a lot of visual impact.

It’s important to remember that, unlike web pages, one sheets formatted and shared as Adobe Acrobat PDF file’s preserve their design and formatting when downloaded and printed on conventional desktop printers.

The ability to print and share one sheets distributed as PDFs is extremely important. For example, when an event planner wants to hire a speaker, they typically will share the author’s one sheets when seeking their boss’s and co-worker’s approval. .

Characteristics of successful one sheets

Here are some content ideas to bear in mind when creating one sheets:

  • Headline. Each one sheet should begin with an engaging headline that appeals to the prospect’s need to solve a problem or achieve a goal. The headline should summarize the problem the author’s product or service addresses, or how attendees will benefit from the product or service.
  • Benefits. Each one sheet should tell a complete story. It should provide all of the information that a book buyer, event organizer, or prospective client needs to know. Categories of information include contents, the author’s qualifications, background, and contact information.
  • Proof. One sheets should prove the author’s ability by including reader or reviewer comments, typical clients, and testimonials from previous attendees, buyers, or event planners.

One sheets can benefit from direct response copywriting techniques. The headline should engage the prospect’s interest and sell the importance of the first sentence. The first sentence should sell the importance of  the next sentence, and so on through the one sheet. The goal is to lead the prospect to the inexcusable conclusion that the speaker, product, or service represents a quality, “safe” investment.

One sheet organization and design

Design will play a major role in the effectiveness of your one sheets. Like the previous example, Steve Savage’s consulting one sheet contains a lot of text, yet it is easy to read and presents a professional, upscale image. Contributing to the success of Steve’s one sheets are design techniques like:

  • Organization. Colored backgrounds organize information into logical sections.
  • Photography. The varying size and placement of the photographs adds visual impact and communicates Steve’s energetic way of engaging audiences.
  • Chunking. Information is broken up into bite-sized pieces. Lists are used to add visual interest and communicate at a glance.
  • Subheads. New topics are introduced by subheads set in a contrasting typeface, type size, and color.
  • Consistency. A few key colors are used with restraint. The same colors are used on each of Steve’s one sheets, projecting a consistent “family look.”

Templates and one sheets

Authors should base their one sheets on templates, permitting them to “design once, produce often.”

Instead of trying to create their own one sheets from scratch, (which can lead to amateurish results), or hiring graphic designers to produce each one sheet, (which can be expensive), authors should consider hiring a professional designers to create a one sheet template they can easily modify for specific projects.

Suggestion

Start your one sheet marketing by creating a single one sheet that promotes your book and the speaking and presenting topics you offer based on your book. Later, you can prepare additional individual one sheets for specific speaking topics, products, and coaching or consulting services.

Note: for one week only, you can download my One Sheet Planning Worksheet from my special Active Garage resource page.

Unless you are self-publishing your book, one of the most important steps in your journey to a published book is to attract the attention of the right literary agent. A well-written book proposal stored on your hard drive doesn’t do anyone any good. You need someone to help you with the birthing process of your first book.

Agents and midwives

Choosing a literary agent to represent your first book is similar to choosing a midwife for the birth of your first child. For example:

  • You don’t know where to look.
  • You don’t know what you’re looking for.
  • You want someone with credentials and experience, yet you also want someone with whom you feel instant confidence, rapport, and trust.

That’s quite a list!

As in so many other areas of publishing, there’s an “old way” and a “new way.”

The “old way” of locating a literary agent

Until recently, the starting point for most authors was to buy one of the guides to literary agents that were published each year. These guides contained listings of agents, contact information, and areas of specialization.

After reviewing the hundreds, if not thousands, of agency profiles, authors would prepare and send query letters to agents chosen from the profiles.

The problem, of course, that immediately comes to mind, is “How do you choose the agents you’re going to contact?” You can’t really afford to send query letters- -let alone, complete proposals- -to every agent, and “cold-calling” on the telephone is not recommended unless agents specifically invite telephone calls. So, what is the criteria you’re going to use in making your decision?

On the surface, you could choose literary agencies based on their size, (“small is good” versus “a large agency with clout.”) Or, you could choose agents based on their location, (“I want a New York City agency!), or books previously represented, (fiction versus non-fiction, areas of specialization, or best-sellers you may recognize).

Even if you make the right selection, the “guide” approach puts a premium on your direct-response letter-writing skills, and your ability to craft a letter that engages the agent’s attention and convinces to read further in the first sentence. Basically, your experiences and your potential have to be boiled down to a 10 or 30 word “hook” intended to get their permission to send them your book proposal.

Another problem is the volume of query letters sent to agents listed in the yearly guides. It’s not only hard to boil a book down to 3 or 4 paragraphs, it’s even harder to make your query letter stand out from the 10, 25, or 100 letters that might be arriving the same week as yours.

Plus, who is reading your query letters? Is it an agency principal, or is it a newly-hired intern who is hired to select a couple of query letters each day from the pile that grows a little deeper each day?

It can be done; the old way does work, and numerous first-time nonfiction authors do it every day. But, thankfully, there is a better way, a new way.

Improving on the “old way”

I’ve never been a fan of the “shotgun approach” to attracting a literary agent. It doesn’t offer potential authors enough control or likelihood of success. The competition is too great, it puts a premium on skills that might not play to your strengths, and- -basically- -the odds are stacked against you.

A refinement of the “old way” approach that slightly improves your chances of success involves attending writing conferences, where you are likely to get “face time” with potential agents. While chatting with presenters and attendees between sessions and during networking events, you might find yourself talking to an agent or publisher who might be the perfect “midwife” for your book.

A variation to this is to seek out events where there are “pitchfests” where authors get a chance to present and defend their proposal to several agents as part of the program.

The down side of pitchfests is that they’re usually time-limited, you need nerves of steel, they place you in direct competition with others, and you have to deal with conference, lodging, and travel costs- -which can quickly mount up.

Branding: the “new way” authors attract agents

The “new way” of locating a literary agent reverses the whole process: instead of authors seeking agents, it’s based on agents using the Internet to seek authors!

The Internet- -blogs, search engines, and social media make it feasible for authors to attract agents the same way authors attract readers!

The first time I became aware of the power of the Internet to facilitate getting published was when I interviewed David Meerman Scott, the author of The New Rules of Marketing & PR. In his book and interview, David described how his book’s success was driven by blogging about it and allowing readers to download chapters for free.

Since then, for Published & Profitable, I’ve interviewed numerous other first-time authors,  such as Gar Reynolds, author of Presentation Zen and others whose first books emerged from out of nowhere as highly-successful business books because of the author’s blogging activities.

During my interview with Gar Reynolds, for example, it turned out he wasn’t necessarily going to write a book, his immediate goal was to develop and share his presentation philosophy with others through his blog.

His passion-driven blog created his market and- -in doing so- -not only validated the need for a book, but attracted agents and publishers who were looking for fresh book ideas!

The key words, of course, are “agents looking for books”

And, in a nutshell, that’s what the new way is all about, and that’s the power of blogs like this which has already served as the launch pad for several successful books, as continues to do for new authors. You can visit Rajesh Setty’s Blogtastic Project for an insider’s look at the “new way” in action.

So, there’s a new way to attract a literary agent in the Web 2.0 world. Instead of going hat-in-hand to agents, doing exactly what tens of thousands of other authors are doing, you can attract agents to you by creating a blog with a title that creates a brand, and posting helpful, relevant, and useful at frequent interviews.

Do your job right, and be ready for the day you receive an e-mail or blog post comment from an agent, or publisher, who is looking for a fresh perspective on your topic and is impressed by your blog.

Resources, old and new

Here are several books describing “old way” approaches to attracting a literary agent through query letters:

The best of the “new way” resources remains the second edition of David Meerman Scott’s New Rules of Marketing & PR and his follow-up, World Wide Rave.

Conclusion

There’s finally a new and better way to attract a literary agent- -and I find it pretty exciting. No longer is agent acquisition a “blind numbers game” based on spending your time crafting 3 or 4-paragraph query letters sent to randomly-chosen recipients and waiting for an expression of interest. Instead, you can focus on developing and sharing your ideas, knowing that properly-managed content is its own reward, helping you attract literary agents who are searching for you!

Your book proposal for your first book is among the most important documents you’ll ever prepare. It often represents the formal beginning of your journey to a published book.

Book proposals serve two primary, and several secondary, purposes:

  1. Sales piece. If you’re hoping to have a conventional publisher sell your book through online and through bricks-and-mortar retail bookstores, your book proposal functions as a direct-response sales letter intended to them to invest time and money into your project. It has to spell-out the inevitability of your book’s success to skeptical readers.
  2. Marketing plan. Regardless whether you are looking at trade publishers, or intend to publish your book yourself, your book proposal must describe how you are going to market and promote your book before and after it’s publication. Your proposal has to describe the market your book addresses, the benefits it offers, how it differs from existing books on the topic, and the specific steps you’re going to take to sell it to its intended readers.

Secondary purposes include providing a sample of your ability to communicate in print. In many ways, the style and detail of your proposal are as important as the contents of the proposal. A professionally written and presented proposal communicates to literary agents and acquisition editors that you’re an author worth paying attention to. Even if the proposed book doesn’t meet their current publishing needs, a proposal can open doors to other opportunities.

But, a rambling proposal that hasn’t been thoroughly edited and proofread can close the door to future possibilities.

Elements included in book proposals

A book proposal includes seven sections. These provide the structure needed to communicate the details of your project. The sections include:

  1. Engagement. The proposed title and the first paragraph of your book must immediately engage the interest of your agent or publisher in the first paragraph, or two. The title and opening paragraph must communicate at a glance, describing what your book is about, how it differs from the competition, why it will sell, and how you’re going to market and promote it. The first sentence and paragraph of your proposal must “hook” your prospective agent or editor’s interest and “sell” the importance of reading on. Each sentence and paragraph must continue selling, providing details that support the premise, or big idea, behind your book. If the initial sentence and paragraph fail to convince, the remainder of your proposal probably doesn’t have a chance, either.
  2. Description. The second section, sometimes called an overview, provides an opportunity to step back and provide the details necessary to support the promise offered by your book title and first paragraph. Think of this section as the 30,000 foot view of your project, your qualifications, and how you came to propose the book.
  3. Market. Next, you have to prove that a market exists for your book. You have to describe the characteristics of the market you’re writing for and their goals and objectives. You have to prove that you know how to reach your prospective readers and tap into their urgent need for assistance solving a problem or achieving goals. In addition, this section must include a review of existing books, so you can show how your book provides a fresh, needed perspective that goes beyond any currently available book.
  4. Contents. After you have proven the existence of a market and the need for your book, you have to prove how your book will live up to the promise expressed in its title and the premise described in the opening paragraphs. It’s not necessary to completely write your book, but it is necessary to show that you have put a lot of work into organizing your book into sections and chapters. Each chapter should be described in a couple of sentences, followed by 7-10 bullet points corresponding to the main ideas you plan to include in each chapter.
  5. Author platform and promotion. This section begins with an overview of your current online presence, and goes on to describe how you are going to market and promote your book before and after its publication. Limit your marketing plan to the print, broadcast, public relations, and social media that you realistically expect to employ for marketing and promoting your book, and list the marketing affiliates and professional services you intend to work with. Remember that your marketing plan will be judged on both its detail and its creditability. Avoid unrealistic promises or a laundry list of media alternatives, but do emphasize your network of professional connections in your field.
  6. Qualifications. Why should a publisher trust you with their money? How do they know you will deliver. Rather than list your academic credentials, family situation, or employment background, place the emphasis on your accomplishments and achievements. It’s not important that you “love to write” or have “great passion for your topic.” It’s more important to communicate that you are driven to succeed and do whatever it takes to accomplish your goals. (Note: you don’t have to say you’re a good writer, because the writing in your proposal should speak for itself!)
  7. Details. This section, like the previous, can be relatively short. In this section, describe the anticipated size of your book and the number of pages you’d like to see in the printed book. Describe the number of colors and illustrations, or photographs, you intend to include. And briefly mention topics for follow-up topics that will expand the book into a series. Finally, provide a realistic date for completing the manuscript, following receipt of a publishing contract.

Your proposal is an investment

If the above sounds like a lot of work, it can be!

However, your book proposal is an investment that doesn’t have to be repeated! Once you have your proposal, you have done the hard part—you’ve identified a book that needs to be written, and you have identified the information needed, and you have organized that into a logical order.

You’ve also created a marketing and promotion plan for selling your book.

Many authors find it harder to prepare a book proposal than it is to complete a book!

Writing is easy when you know what you’re going to write, and marketing becomes easier when you know what you want to happen, and when.

Writing a book proposal can be a lonely proposition, unless you’re working with an experienced book coach. But, when you’re actually writing your book, you typically have access to editors and proofreaders who will provide the feedback and support necessary to create a successful book.

Prepare your book proposal as carefully as you’d prepare a marketing plan for your career. Your book proposal can be the catalyst that transforms your career and, with it, your life!