Joe Wikert had an interesting post yesterday, Author Marketing.
Recently Joe noted the obviously effective and concentrated online marketing plan for The AdSense Code, by Joel Comm, which rose from 12,000 at Amazon to the top few spots in the space of a day, a meteoric rise unusual for any tech title (and a tide which seemed to lift other boats as well, including a title I rep, Google Advertising Tools: Cashing in with AdSense, AdWords, and the Google APIs, by Harold Davis, which simultaneously rose to the top ten in the computer and internet category).
Joe talked to Joel and cracked his marketing code (sorry!), which turned out to be a blend of co-marketing and sponsored “add-on” content (e-zines for one). Joe writes —
“For example, letâ€™s say youâ€™re writing a book about Excel. Maybe Iâ€™ve got a small business selling Excel add-onâ€™s. If I offer up my mailing list and a free piece of my core product, I could be a sponsor for your book. Gather enough of these sponsors and you suddenly have a completely new value proposition for your book: â€œBuy my book this week on Amazon and youâ€™ll get over $300 in third-party Excel add-onâ€™s.”
It’s common to license demo-ware, time-expired software, etc. for books but we rarely then ask for an email blast campaign or multi-partner co-marketing plan on top of it. Based on Joel Comm’s success, it might be a good idea to coordinate such a program in any book that features value-add bundles. I know I’m going to try it with a book I’m working on right now. It’s a great idea. The only caution I have is about certain “pay for play” scenarios where good advice might be trumped by better marketing — i.e., I don’t like your product but boy do you have a great email list and maybe I’ll partner with you anyways.
Either way, you have to deal with this sort of third party marketing while you write the book, you have to plan ahead.
Of course this sort of software “add-on” is somewhat unique to the tech publishing industry, but you might be able to bundle coupons, special offers, online memberships, in a variety of books.
In some cases the book is just the come-on to the extra content: look at what Kevin Trudeau did with his book, Natural Cures They Don’t Want You To Know About, offering limited memberships to his web-site as an “add-on.” You don’t spend ten million dollars marketing a book unless the book is just the tip of the iceberg. And although Kevin is somewhat controversial it’s worth noting that other well respected Alternative Health authors also have a robust online presence, from Deepak Chopra to Andrew Weil.
Another point of interest to me, Morgan James seems* to be one of the newer hybrid publishers, a sort of cross between POD and more hands-on self-publishing consultant. Here’s a link to a recent PW article on hybrids, Link, and here’s the “About Morgan James” page, Link.
Morgan James calls their model the “Entrepreneurial Publishing Model” — and they’ve trademarked it :-). I’d be curious to learn what sort of brick and mortar success they’ve had. They say —
“We actively work with our authors to help them not only maximize revenue from their book royalties, but also build new business and increase their revenue substantially through follow-on sales to their readers.”
That sounds cool. And (or but)–
“We’ve also set up a number of imprints, like Knowledge Exchange Press, where authors can republish (and customize as they wish) books that are in the public domain. No other publisher is actively offering turnkey publishing packages like this, to our knowledge.”
That sounds like pretty much standard POD. What other publisher talks about “turnkey publishing packages?”
*I’ve written to them to learn what I can about their business. I’ll report back.
I had a nice long talk with David Hancock at Morgan James, and it does sound to me like this is something of a hybrid model: no advances but reasonably high royalties; they may use offset printing on first runs but will probably replenish the channel with print on demand; they use Ingram Publishing Services for distribution; and they have what they call an author-centered approach: i.e., the author retains the rights to resell the project to another publisher, and retains audio, and other subsidiary rights. He re-iterated that they like to call their model “entrepreneurial publishing,” which, as far as I can tell, boils down to coaching the author to generate as many leads and direct sales opportunities as possible. In all he sounds like he has a reasonable plan, and this sort of publishing may work well for projects where the author has a strong platform and sales channel, or where an author wants to control the rights to his or her book. And that seems to be their focus: business, finance and related self-help. Their author list confirms this, including folks like Jay Conrad Levinson and Tony Alessandro. It’s important to note that these authors have great platforms. They tour and speak constantly, and they have the experience and pedigree to function as a sort of “co-publisher.”