Everyday, I see at least one helpful tweet about marketing my book from none other than Penny C. Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc. Penny and her company, Author Marketing Experts, have put together some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns around. She always seems to be ahead of the social media climate and trends in publicity, and turns her instincts for great PR and marketing into sales for books. She’s worked on several successful book launches, and I knew she’d be the perfect guest for Working Writers.
Enjoy this interview.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and what kinds of services do you provide for writers?
Well let’s see, I am bi-coastal and divide my time between San Diego and New York (aka two of the most fabulous cities in the world). I do this because the world of publishing is central to NY. I also travel a lot for writers conferences and workshops. I grew up in both Southern California and in Belgium where my mom is from. She still lives there and I try to go back every year to visit her and see family. I run Author Marketing Experts, Inc, which I’ve been doing for over ten years. It’s my baby and I love it. We work with authors and publishers to help them market their books and we have a specialty in online book promotion. We use both Search Engine Marketing techniques combined with online “buzz” pieces to get the word out about your book. We’ve had 10 books on the bestseller list in the last year, all of them in our programs. They’re aggressive and effective and unique in that they are super focused. We don’t take chances with the market or direction online.
I love the valuable tweets you provide throughout the day. Tell us about your book, Red Hot Internet Publicity: An Insider’s Guide to Promoting Your Book on the Internet?
Thank you for asking! I’m so excited about this new edition I can’t even tell you. This is the 2nd edition of this book and as good as the first one was, this is light years ahead of that. In fact we can’t keep copies on the shelves of this book (I know, it’s a high quality problem to have). The book is a very thorough guide to getting online. By that I mean we look at everything from setting up a website to blogging, getting into social networking, Twitter, book videos, article syndication, creating your own ezine, hosting your own Virtual Author Tour and much, much more… there are also a ton of resources in the book, twice as many as we had last time.
What’s the biggest mistake writers make when trying to promote their work?
They promote their book. Truly, no one but your Mother cares that you wrote a book (I know. Ouch!) but the fact is people want to know what your book can do for them. Sell the benefits, not the book. Even in fiction readers want to be entertained, scared, they want to laugh and learn. Whatever it is sell that but never, ever, ever sell the book.
The publishing industry has changed quite a bit over the last few years. Where do you see things heading in the next several years regarding authors and publishing?
I think that self-publishing is really going to come into its own. Let’s face it, publishers (I’m talking about the NY giants) aren’t willing to take the kind of risks they used to when it comes to books, they want sure things and that’s why we see so many celebrity titles. Are we obsessed with celebrities? You bet. But there’s more to it than that. A celebrity has a built-in platform, an audience that will be keyed in to buy the book so the publisher can estimate right out of the gate how many copies (or at least approximate) they are likely to sell. This leaves first time authors and even authors who have three and four books out struggling to compete. Self-publishing has matured and the industry knows that in order to be successful, it has to put out quality stuff. That’s not to say that self-publishing still sees a lot of junk, let’s face it garbage in, garbage out. The statistics for print-on-demand companies is that 1% of what they publish each year is even remotely close to a good read. But now the environment is starting to shift. There’s more information out there on self-publishing and more people ready to help you make your book letter perfect. Remember there’s nothing wrong with self-publishing, your book just can’t look self-published. Save the science projects for your kids and publish something that you won’t be ashamed of 10 years from now.
The other thing that’s changed the publishing industry (and every other industry out there) is social media. The Internet has turned the tide on promotion and books that 5 years ago didn’t stand a chance of success, now find a strong audience via the long tail online. More and more books are finding success in online niche markets that they can’t find in brick and mortar stores.
The final thing is the speed of publishing and ebooks. We can now go quicker time to market than ever. If a celeb dies on Monday, by Tues there are a dozen ebooks ready to launch about their life, their transgressions, whatever. You just can’t turn a book that quickly in traditional publishing. Follow on the ebook with an expanded self-published edition that you get to market within 3-4 weeks and you’ve got a recipe for success. Consumers are an impatient lot, we see this everyday. They want it and they want it now. Ebooks feed that market very well.
What’s the most interesting book you’ve ever read?
You know I’ll read anything by Seth Godin. He’s a brilliant marketer and all of his books (and his blog posts) are fantastic.
All of our authors are my favorite 🙂 that would be like picking a favorite child, right?
Book you’re currently reading.
Why She Buys (it’s a book on marketing to women).
Do you believe in writer’s block? If so, how did you get past it? If not, why not?
I don’t actually believe in writer’s block and here’s why. Aside from marketing I also offer coaching, whether it’s marketing coaching or manuscript coaching. When I’m working with an author to push through the completion of a book I’ll first ask them to do a chapter by chapter outline. From that outline they’ve now created a roadmap. Within each chapter is a 1-2 sentence blurb on what’s covered in that chapter. Once they are done with this I ask them to create a to-do list. This to-do list can work to help keep them busy when they don’t feel like writing. You might need to do additional research, get quotes from experts, start shopping for endorsements. Whatever it is add it to the list. Then when you have a day when you don’t feel like writing, start checking off your to—do list so at least you’re making progress towards your goal. This process will keep you “in” the project which will help keep the flow going.
What’s the measure of a successful writer?
A writer who is engaged in their own success. I don’t care how many people you hire to help you market your work, you still need to be an active participant in your own success. Also, an author who puts out quality work. There are no shortcuts to success.
Advice for other writers?
Yes, learn, read, go to conferences and network. Writers tend to be an isolated lot. We’d love nothing more than to spend an entire Saturday with our characters but guess what? They don’t know anyone in the publishing industry. The way to get out there and start putting out feelers for your work is to network with other writers are writers conferences.
Where can we learn more about you?
You can visit my website at www.amarketingexpert.com and as a special to your readers, if any of them would like a free book evaluation checklist they can email me to submit their book and we’ll evaluate it, for free!
Anything else you’d like to add?
Yes, I’d like to say never give up. I know this sounds cliché and perhaps it is but the truth is, it’s your work, it’s your baby. If you believe in it get out there and let the world know you wrote a book. Be sure to do your homework and put out a quality product, remember your book is your resume. But once you do, get out there and market it and if you need help, ask for it. Ask lots of questions. There are no stupid questions in publishing and often the questions you don’t ask can cost you a lot of time and money that’s better spend marketing your book!