Guest post about books and success by Geri Schneider Winters, Wyyzzk, Inc.
Marketing your own book is a necessity, especially when you are published by a “real” publisher. This is a lesson I learned the hard way.
In late 1996, I was asked to teach a class on a specific technique for writing software requirements. The students loved the class, and asked me if there was more information on the topic. At that time, there was not. Someone said, “Will you write a book for us on this topic?” So I said yes! I talked to a friend who had published a software book, and when he found out the topic, he got really excited. His publisher (a top publisher of software books) was looking for a book on exactly that topic! My friend introduced me to the publisher, and a book was born.
And so, by a very lucky sequence of events, I was a published author of a best selling book with the top publisher for the industry There were no other books on that topic for 3 years, and the topic was hot.
I knew nothing. I thought the publisher would take care of everything. So there I was riding the top of a great wave, and I did nothing about it. No marketing, no followup, no promotions, no speaking engagements. No method for finding out who was purchasing my book.
The publisher promoted the book for a while, primarily by sending notices to book sellers and text book salesmen. But over time, they had other, newer titles to promote. And because I knew nothing, my contract drastically limits my options as to what I can do myself.
Fast forward to 2005, and I had become interested in marketing and promoting my business. Over several years, I learned all kinds of things about how to promote my self as an expert. Warren taught me the things I should do as an author. And I have been kicking myself these last several years for not doing this earlier.
You see at this point, I am trying to build a market, when 10 years ago, I had one. I gave up all the advantages of being an author, and it is really hard to bring that back. People want to know “What have you done for me lately?”, not what did I do over 10 years ago. If I contracted with a publisher today, I would retain rights to e-books, books on tape, or at least be able to give away sample chapters.
Once my book is out of print, I can apply to recover the copyright and do anything I want to with it. But the book is still in print and still selling a hundred copies or so a year. So chances are, by the time I get the copyright back, no one will be interested in the topic.
I have also learned that books stay in print far longer than I ever thought. I have to consider 10 years or more of demand for my books, and consider how I will satisfy the demand for the book, as well as follow on products and services. And that means I have to know who buys the book.
What am I doing today? I wrote another book last fall, and am testing it on a few people in my market.
I have some refinements planned based on feedback, and have some nice quotes from reviewers. When I am happy with the book, I will create a full marketing plan for it, along with plans for follow up products and services. Will I go with a regular publisher? I have not yet decided. I will be looking a lot more carefully at my options, and making sure that any contract I sign gives me the flexibility to promote my new (and future) books. Because now I know the publisher will not do it.
Warren’s advice in this area is priceless. He has taught me – and many, many other people – what to do to avoid the mistakes I made the first time. I hope I have a great topic again, but I am not going to depend on that. I am going to do the right job with marketing and promotions, and use the book to increase my business.