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The BK Author Marketing Workshop: Five Key Learnings

Jeevan Sivasubramaniam Posted by Jeevan Sivasubramaniam, Managing Director, Editorial, Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc.

The BK Author Marketing Workshop: Five Key Learnings

Associate Marketing Director Mike Crowley attended the whole workshop and even he learned one or two new things. However, as a service to our community, he decided to share his new-found knowledge with these five key takeaways about books, publishing, and marketing:

1. A clever twist or gimmick isn’t enough any more. If you are going to try to be a thought leader in a particular area you have to do one of three things: predict the future, sound the alarm, or call the game. More importantly, what you predict, sound, or call shouldn’t be the same as what others have already predicted, sounded or called. The U.S. economy is going down in flames and the resulting instability could impact financial markets worldwide? You don’t say! Actually, everyone has already said it.

2. LinkedIn is your corporate boardroom - Facebook is just your playground. Facebook is useless for promotional purposes if you’re a business author. You want someone to “like” your work on Facebook? Fine, but that person will also “like” a bunch of other things like “Laughing so hard that milk shoots out of your nose.” You are judged by the company you keep. LinkedIn is where people go to find serious professional information, and that’s where you should put your energy. So fill out your profile, join key professional groups, and leave Facebook for recommending movies and sharing vacation photos. Sure, mention your book, but that’s not what’s going to sell it.

3. “If it’s good enough to steal it’s good enough to productize.” Think about things you’re giving away at your presentations. If people are grabbing them like popsicles in the Sahara maybe you could charge something for them. Presenter Michael Soon Lee did speeches to realtors, who are always desperate to prove to their clients that they’re actually doing something. He made a list of 13 things realtors do. They loved it! So he started selling it for a buck. Then he decided to make it fancy: he laminated it for maybe $.25. And sold it for $4.95. That’s better royalties then he would make per book!

4. Budget? What budget? To put publishing companies’ minuscule promotional budget in perspective: Procter and Gamble brings out about as many products every year as Berrett-Koehler-about 50 for P&G vs. about 40 for BK-with roughly 10,000 times the annual sales. Bigger publishing companies have bigger budgets of course, but they bring out hundreds of products. Overall the numbers are the same. The publishing industry is like the Bumble Bee - somehow it flies, but it shouldn’t.

5. A personal brand is more than what you think it is. One way to strengthen your personal brand is to actually make it personal in a way that connects with your audience. Presenter (and BK author) Mark Levy had a brilliant magician as a client, but the guy was struggling. His client had started doing magic as a kid growing up in a very affluent community, performing for what was, he realized in retrospect, a very demanding audience. So he knew these people, he knew how they thought. Mark took that and rebranded him as “The Millionaire’s Magician.” Mentioned his background, got him to dress better, and pitched him to very upscale audiences. He did the same tricks-I mean “illusions”--as before, but he is now a millionaire magician among millionaires.