Tuesday, March 27, 2012

TUESDAY TIP @AmazonKindle Book Extras from @Shelfari Make the Reading World Your Stage!

Today's the first of a 2-part blog tip on Book Extras for Amazon Kindle (device +/or app) users. This Amazon/Shelfari (the same company now that Amazon bought Shelfari) feature is not (yet) available for other platforms so ePub (Nook, iOS etc.) readers can't use them but they're an untapped potential for Kindle readers.

What are they? Here's a direct quote from a recent KDP newsletter defining Book Extras to those Indie Authors who'd never heard of them. It was also mentioned in 2010 on a Shelfari blog on the subject. It might even be on a 2009 blog somewhere. Book Extras have been around a while. Who knew? Probably very few of those reading this blog:

Book Extras are curated factoids by the Shelfari community that provide readers with helpful information while they’re reading or deciding if they should read a book. These Extras include character descriptions, important places, popular quotations, themes, book-specific glossaries and more.

Sounds pretty boring, doesn't it? Also sounds useless for a reader trying to decide whether or not to buy a book. Or trying to get more out of a book they loved. Or trying to connect with a book beyond the words on the page--there's nothing "extra" about the feature as described above.

The thing is, Book Extras haven't caught on because Amazon/Shelfari are pitching Book Extras to the wrong market. Again, that's just what I believe. YMMV.

I think Amazon/Shelfari keep promoting Book Extras as sales tools for Authors but I don't think Authors should be encouraged to embed sales pitches into their books--and let's be honest here, given half a chance, Authors will embed a sales pitch anywhere they can! Sad, but true.

Book Extras are definitely a way to access Amazon's sales tools but having access and using it wisely are not the same thing. There's a fine line between the sales tools on the book's sales page and the marketing opportunity of a Book Extra on Shelfari (or the Book Extras submenu on a Kindle app).

I also don't think readers (the correct target for Book Extras) really understand the point of the Book Extras feature because no one's ever used them in a value-added way. Click through the jump-break to see how I think Book Extras should be used--and by whom. It might surprise you.

Monday, March 26, 2012

MONDAY MARKETING Positioning 6-Repositioning the Competition #pubtip #indie #selfpub #promo #marketing #positioning

Welcome back to my marketing series on Positioning. It's a concept coined in 1969 by Al Ries and Jack Trout to describe the space in your customer's mind that products occupy--and the head space you're trying to claim for your books! Positioning is obviously tightly tied to branding, so be sure you know who you are, as an Author, and that you're branding yourself as the Company you want to keep. There's no point in climbing a product ladder if it's leaning against the wrong wall!

In the first several entries of this series, I discussed the "over-simplified mind" and the relationship between our products and our customer's perception of them. Then I moved onto the discussion of a French expression, cherchez le creneau or finding and filling a "hole" (creneau) in the market.

Today we'll look at what to do when there don't seem to be any creneaus left to fill and you can't think of one to create. There's always a Third Alternative (as my favorite proactive "can do" man from the 1980s, Stephen R. Covey, calls it). Click through the jump break for more.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

TUESDAY TIP Facebook Timeline Ready? Set? Gotta Go "Like" it! #howto #pubtip

Starting in about 10 days, your Facebook Profile and/or Brand Page will be switched over to the Facebook Timeline format--whether you like (or "Like") Timeline or not! You're going to be given 7 days to modify it before the public sees it and there are a few steps you can take to get ready and make it less painful.

Timeline's a bit disorienting when you're used to the old newsfeed format so you may want to take this next week-long grace period to get used to it. Click through the jump-break to get started with a basic fly-through the new features.

Monday, March 19, 2012

MONDAY MARKETING Positioning 5: Not All Creneaus Are Created Equal #pubtip #selfpub #indie #marketing #positioning

Welcome back to the new marketing series on Positioning: a concept coined in 1969 by Al Ries and Jack Trout to describe the space in your customer's mind that your competitors products occupy--and the head space you're trying to claim for your own books! Positioning is obviously tightly tied to branding, so be sure you know who you are, that you're branding yourself as the Company you want to keep.

I've already discussed the "over-simplified mind" of our customers and the relationship between our actual products and our potential customer's perception of them. Those concepts were tied together with the discussion of "filtering perception" in the 3rd entry of this series, and last week, I talked about finding and identifying a creneau, French for a "hole" in the market. Today we'll look at different kinds of creneaus--and discuss how they are or are not suited to the Indie Author.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

TUESDAY TIP 3 Facebook Page Basics #pubtip #selfpub #promo #marketing

With Facebook Timelines being forced upon both personal Profiles and brand Pages, it's necessary to really understand (a) the difference between the two and (b) the point of a Facebook presence for a brand--such as, an Indie Author. As always, I started with a Mashable Guide and moved on from there.

A lot of today's tips are just my personal advice based on my personal experience. Your mileage may vary (YMMV) as they say but I think you'll find these basics really are the bare bolts foundation for creating an effective presence on Facebook as an Indie Author. Click through the jump-break to get started.

Monday, March 12, 2012

MONDAY #MARKETING Positioning 4-Establishing Leadership #pubtip #selfpub #indie @stephaniebrail @alizasherman

Welcome back to the new marketing series on Positioning: the concept coined in 1969 by Al Ries and Jack Trout to describe the head space in a customer's mind that your competitors products occupy--and the head space you're trying to claim for your own books!

In the first 3 articles I reviewed the "over-simplified mind," the relationship between products and customer's perception of them, and the concept of "filtering perception" to climb the customer's product ladders. Today, we move onto the power of how you approach versus what you do when you get there because as the saying goes, you can't there from here.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

TUESDAY TIP @PayPal Censorship of @Smashwords + How U Can Fight Back @EFF #indie #pubtip @markcoker

If you haven't heard yet (where've you been?) the global financial services company, PayPal, has notified Smashwords, an international distributor of eBooks, that Smashwords must refuse books PayPal considers unsuitable. To wit, PayPal would like Smashwords to ban the selling of ebooks that contain “bestiality, rape-for-titillation, incest and underage erotica.”

I got a kick out of the example givven by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF): the Judeo-Christian Bible should be banned for its descriptions of incestuous relationships--from Cain and Abel and their presumed "sister-wives" (whose parents were...if not Adam & Eve, the only other two people in existence, then...who?) to the situation of Lot and his daughters (you get 25 years in prison for that these days *snicker*)

Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, met with the EFF folks on Friday. Click through the jump-break to read about what came of his meetings. Links on the other side of the break! Don't forget that this week is Read an Ebook Week (and Dicky's Story is 50% off at Smashwords. Just use coupon code REW50 at checkout!)

Monday, March 5, 2012

MONDAY MARKETING Position 3-Filtering Perception to Climb Ladders #marketing #pubtip #indie #selfpub

If you're just joining in, I'm running a new Monday Marketing series on the topic of Positioning for Indie Authors, based on the book made famous decades ago by Al Ries and Jack Trout, the guys who wrote the book and I mean the book. They also coined the phrase Perception is everything and that's the crux of the concept of positioning.

In the first entry of this new series, I introduced the concept of how the prospective customer (aka the prospect) will filter information using their so-called "over-simplified mind." Then I went on last week to discuss how perception and product sales are related. In summary, it is better to be a big fish in a small pond than to be a small fish in a big pond--so be first, be a leader, be the unique and special snowflake you were meant to be.

This week, I'm going to revisit the concept of "product ladders" first introduced in my Immutable Laws of Marketing series, where I adapted the famous Ries and Trout book to the Indie Publishing. The Law of the Ladder (Law 7) advised a strategy for a "tortoise" (rather than "hare") approach to climbing up the sales ranks--patiently taking one rung at a time and never stopping. The way to do this  was hinged upon the idea of focus and positioning. Click through to read more about how to do just that.