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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

How To Publish A Best-Selling Book

There’s more than one way to publish a best-selling book, but here are 10 strategies that have worked so far:

1.      It’s not enough to publish a great book.  In fact, many best-sellers aren’t any better, in quality content, than most other books.  It’s good if your book is well written, edited properly, sells for a fair price, has a catchy title and is packaged nicely – but none of that alone guarantees a best-seller.  It’s a start.  To not have those elements could cost you sales.

2.      Publishing with a brand–name publisher helps, but it alone doesn’t guarantee a best-seller nor does not going with a big publisher preclude you from being a best-selling author.

3.      When you publish your book, as in time of year (gift season vs. April), will influence sales.  Further, depending on the genre you publish in, there are less competitive times to release your book, thus increasing your chances of hitting a best-seller list.

4.      The true key to a best-seller is distribution.  A print-on-demand book has almost no chance of making a bestseller list.

5.      Sales need to be accounted for in order to hit a list.  For instance, if you sold 9,000 copies of your book via your website, those sales won’t count towards a best-seller list because no one knows about them.  Same goes if you sell a ton of books directly to an organization or at an event.   Unless the books were ordered via Amazon, B&N, or independent stores or other reporting channels, the sales don’t really exist.

6.      Timing is key.  The best chance to be a best-seller is with pre-orders.  Months before your official release date you can gather pre-orders and then they will all count towards your week one sales.  Basically, you can have 10-20 weeks to gather sales as if they happened in one week.

7.      Best-seller lists are based on sales occurring in a given week, not the lifetime of a book.  A book that sells 3,500 copies in a week could be on a best-seller list, such as that of Publishers Weekly and a book that sells 35,000 copies in a year may never make a list because in any one specific week not enough sales were registered at the reporting stores/sites).

8.      To get a best-seller you need to call upon family, friends, colleagues and the vast network you’ve built up with social media way before your book is released.  You need to alert people that your book is coming out, give them a deadline to buy it by, encourage them to buy it via Barnes & Noble, other bookstores, or Amazon, and beg them to tell others to do so.  You can incentivize them with a legal bribe.  Tell them when they buy a book and email you a receipt, you’ll send them a digital gift of value.  Perhaps it’s extra content, a free pass to a webinar, a huge discount to another product or service, or something free that someone else gave you to share with others that is perceived as being useful or interesting.

9.      You can manipulate your way onto the best-sellers lists.  There are a handful of companies that arrange for authors to make a best-seller list.  The cost exceeds $150,000 – sometimes more.  You can, if you have a large list of loyal connections, ask people to buy the book and then reimburse them some or all of the cost or promise them something in monetary value that equals or exceeds the book's price.  This happens often, especially with business books.

10.  Finally, good old fashioned publicity and marketing, when consolidated over a targeted period of time, can propel a book to the best-seller lists.  It’s a numbers game.  You need volume – a quantity of quality media placements such as dozens of bloggers writing about you, doing scores of radio interviews and capturing major media attention with television or leading print outlets.

There are all kinds of bestseller lists.  Here are a few:
·         New York Times
·         USAToday
·         Wall Street Journal
·         Publishers Weekly
·         Amazon
·         Kindle
·         Nook
·         Apple
·         Kobe Reader

Some daily newspapers, like The Miami Herald, have their own lists, too.

The lists may not just rank all books over all, but by genre or format.

Many bestseller lists are calculated based on what’s reported by BookScan (believed to capture 75% of all sales) or Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Books-A-Million-Hudson’s, Hastings, Desert Books, and a few thousand independent bookstores.

Speaking tours, bulk sales, advertising campaigns, and other resources are available to help you create a best-seller campaign.  But being a best-selling author is still a rare thing.  Consider that there are 320 million Americans and about a million books are published annually.  There were about 300 New York Times bestselling authors in 2013 and 442 US billionaires.  So being a billionaire was more common than becoming a NYT bestselling author last year. 

Many people want to be a bestselling author because:
·         It will make them popular, maybe even liked.
·         The book sales will net them a nice profit.
·         Being a bestselling author helps them in their career branding.
·         They will get the attention of publishers, movie studios, or others who can offer book deals or other opportunities.
·         It positions them to be corporate pitchmen.
·         It strokes their ego and gives them validation as a writer.
·         It will help the book continue to sell and to further get out a message to the masses.

Of course one should never get into the publishing industry because they expect to get rich or famous, because neither is likely to happen and either reason is the wrong one to write books.  Wealth, glory and success are things worth achieving but only if it grows out of an initial intent to write a useful and interesting book that will entertain, inform, inspire, and enlighten others.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014

Monday, July 28, 2014

Digital Cures & Ills To Book Publicity

Sixteen minutes out of every hour Americans spend online is used on social networking and to participate in forums. That is the window of time one has to promote and market their book.

The survey findings of the The Wall Street Journal show that people spend their time online doing all kinds of things. Out of every 60 minutes online, two are spent on the news. People spend nine minutes on entertainment and five to shop.

It will only get more competitive, as the same device you email with, watch videos, stream movies, read books, and tweet from, will do even more things. We are a distracted, ADHD nation.

The people who use social media tend to be younger, but everyone’s catching up. 75% of 30-49 year-olds are on social media and 50-64 year-olds—about 65% of them—are on it. Those 65 and older? Almost 1 in 2 use social media. We’re a country of tweets and twits.

Social media is a way to promote your book—and to discover other books. But we can’t spend too much time on social media if it comes at the expense of doing other things such as:

·         Scheduling book signings
·         Seeking appearances at events or before groups
·         Contacting newspaper editors and reviewers
·         Reading out to radio shows for interviews
·         Researching the news media
·         Finding lists of people to contact
·         Strategizing and discussing a marketing plan

Social media time, for authors, needs to be split to do a number of things, including:

·         Writing blogs and creating content
·         Creating videos or podcasts
·         Distributing links to things you’ve done, said, or created
·         Networking and contacting new followers
·         Researching what others are doing
·         Learning how to use social media

It can be exhausting and intimidating to just think, as an author, about using social media to market a book, but once you get past the psychological barrier, the technical obstacles seem small. But managing your time wisely and efficiently becomes even more challenging.

The keys to using social media to promote your book are as follows:

·         Have a game plan—don’t just wander without a purpose
·         Be disciplined to focus on social media daily
·         Allocate a set amount of time—a minimum and a maximum—to work at social media
·         Spend most of your time posting/sharing links to content that will lead to book sales
·         Experiment. Twitter and FB seem like musts, but maybe you enjoy being on Pinterest and Instagram more.
·         Don’t lose hope if you have a slow start or a bad day

Good luck!

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014

Forbes Magazine is Un-American!

Something seems wrong when the publication that symbolizes American capitalism and business journalism is sold off to investors in Hong Kong. The American dream has been outsourced.

For $300 million the Forbes family, which has owned Forbes magazine since 1917, has sold out.

Forbes with a U.S. circulation of 933,000, ranks third for business magazines, lagging behind Money and Bloomberg Businessweek.

The magazine was part of Forbes Media, which also owns 24 international websites. We’d like to think that who owns the media doesn’t matter, but it does. Having outsiders own a trusted American brand will only lead to a dilution in quality, doubt in its standards, and a question in its editorial judgment.

On the other hand, having a single family dictate the business news was not a good thing either, but it set a normal standard that lasted for almost a century.

Whenever a brand publication or book publisher is sold, one wonders who will next get sold off. Either times are good and someone looks to buy another and grow or diversify—or times are bad and someone buys another simply because they are affordable and would rather own the competition than play against it.

Will editorial control changes at Forbes create a change in its content or influence? Of course it will. The only question is, by how much and in what direction?

The last half-dozen years has seen many publications trade hands, including The Boston Globe, Washington Post, Newsweek, and Maxim. More changes are coming—mergers, sales, reduced publication schedules, thinner issues, and transitions from print to digital only.

The media is run by a handful of big corporations. This is true in book publishing, magazines, newspapers, TV stations, and movie studios. So the fact that Forbes remains independent of those forces is good, but that its voice comes from overseas is not.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Did You Have A Good Purge?

I just saw The Purge: Anarchy, the sequel to last year’s original movie about a United State in the near future sanctioning a 12-hour period where you can kill, beat, rob, rape, torture, and destroy people and their property—without police interference or punishment. Whatever happens in purge, stays in purge.

Why would a society allow for such insanity?
It releases anger and unleashes aggression. So is it for the good of society that one partakes in its destruction?

We learn the annual purge creates otherwise low unemployment and safer streets the rest of the year. But what of the psychological toll? What of the lasting effects for survivors, victims, and offenders?

We see that many people like the chance to get revenge on others. Some do it for sport or money. Others kill to oppose the government. And now the government uses the day to kill those it finds a drain—ethnic minorities, the poor, the elderly. It seems many have incentives to kill. Who knew how much we hated one another?

Who would you purge?
·         Your boss or a colleague?
·         A spouse who wronged you?
·         An annoying neighbor?
·         Someone who previously injured you?

This movie series can go on for a long time. There’s no end to the plots and depictions of killings and mayhem. Maybe watching this movie is our purge. For two hours we can play along, in our minds, of how we’d act in a situation involving life and death.

The book publishing world purges daily. Publishers, authors, and retailers all do battle in the marketplace. So do book promoters and marketers. But for us, death is not permanent. We shall live to write, publish, promote and sell another day.

Every March 21—in time for “spring cleaning”—people get a chance to kill at will, according to the film. The movie implies that this is a good idea, as if it’s your God-given right, to kill, regardless of who the person is.

Some see it as a race or class war. Some seek revenge for real wrongs or perceived slights. Some people settle family scores or act out aggressively over petty jealousy.

Would you kill? What would you do to barricade and protect yourself? Are you prepared to defend yourself? Would you go out of your way to help a stranger?

The idea behind the movie is perhaps greater than the movie itself but the film keeps you on edge because you feel there’s not much distance between the onscreen scenario and what boils beneath the angry skin of humans. Once the streets become a war zone, anything goes.

I’m surprised there haven’t been copycat actions in the real world. I would not be shocked to hear a group of disenfranchised teens or neo-Nazis or misinformed Tea Party Southerners formed to reenact elements of The Purge. 

This movie couldn’t exist if people didn’t feel, deep down, a desire for such a thing. That’s what movies do best—hold a mirror to our fears and fantasies—and hope it’s enough to control our urges.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014

Friday, July 25, 2014

Have You Visited the Harper Collins Bookstore?

Book publishers have long been criticized for the following:

·         Being elitist gatekeepers as to what gets published
·         Failing to put publicity or marketing muscle behind most of their titles
·         Being late in meeting publishing deadlines
·         Failing to brand the name of the imprint or house
·         Underpaying and overworking its employees
·         Giving out advances to books that will never earn out
·         Not giving big advances to more deserving authors
·         Being slow to change and respond to the new marketplace
·         Not printing enough copies of a book and then being too slow to reprint
·         Seizing editorial control of the cover, title, and content and then not listening to the input of authors

The list goes on, most of it true, with of course exceptions to all of them.  But the big issue facing publishers is now about how they will sell directly to consumers.

On one hand, selling to consumers directly gives them a chance to cut out the middleman – wholesalers – and offers a chance to build a brand and customer base by skipping the retailer.

On the other hand, bookstores will get pissed off and struggle to survive.

Amazon’s ebooks won’t be impacted because only Amazon can sell the kindle version and the vast majority of ebook readers are Kindles.

Publishers should sell directly to consumers, but hopefully it is in a way that doesn’t hurt bookstores.  For instance, Random House sells physical books directly to consumers but offers no discounts.  Obviously, they won’t sell many books this way, but if they do, it won’t injure stores that offer discounts.  Penguin offers its website shoppers to buy books, but it provides options to use six traditional retailers.

Hachette, in a battle royale with Amazon, is the only big publisher not to sell directly to consumers.

Simon & Schuster, for the most part, sells to consumers without discounts but does offer free shipping for orders of $25 or more.

Harper Collins just relaunched its website, featuring a bigger emphasis on direct sales to customers.

What would make sense is to see bookstores owned by publishers.  Why not go to Times Square and enter the flagship store for Penguin Random House?  The store would only feature titles published by PRH.  Of course, the danger is that consumers aren’t being exposed to a diverse selection of titles.  Bookstores like B&N sell titles of all publishers – big and small – even self-published ones.  Perhaps there should be a new chain of bookstores that have investments from publishers, but still, would such stores give a disproportionate share of shelf space to its investing companies?

What we need are reading centers – places where we can have a sense of community for those who congregate.  We think of bookstores this way but should the retail market continue to erode, we would encourage governments, charities, publishers, and schools to form an alliance to encourage the creation of reading centers that combine the lending of a library, the learning environment of a college campus, the retail of a bookstore, the recommendations and reviews of a newspaper/magazine, and a place where authors can speak, readers can interact, and anyone can just come and feel welcomed.

I’m getting ahead of myself.  Before stores go under and publishers die out, we must determine how publishers should sell to consumers and ensure the book ecosystem remains balanced, fair, and supportive of all the key parties and their interests.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Book Publishing Needs Socialism to Save It

Let me just state up front that I love America and wouldn’t live anywhere else but, I also believe there’s room for a blend of socialism and capitalism to exist in a democratic society, and when it comes to how books are sold or treated, I prefer what the French and other advanced nations do.

They protect books and the printed word. I applaud them—and so should you.

Here in the U.S., thanks largely to Amazon, books have become commoditized. You can buy clothes based on price—or a desk or the hotel you vacation at. But books should not be purchased based on price alone.

Sure price is a factor. One may buy a used book vs. a new one, to save money. Others will buy a paperback rather than the higher-priced hardcover. But when books become so devalued and sell at a loss, you have to question how such pricing helps the long-term viability of books.

In the U.S. it seems the publishing market is ruled by one company—Amazon—and five major conglomerate publishers—and one physical retailer (Barnes & Noble). When Amazon makes a change, the publishing industry trembles and acquiesces.

But the Hatchette-Amazon battle is now being waged and the repercussions of it could dictate the fate of publishing’s long-term viability. However, in other countries, books are a much healthier product.

In France, where Amazon only owns 10-12% of the book market—but 70% of online sales, Amazon is contained because of laws passed to protect and support bookstores and publishers.

The law says online sellers can’t offer free shipping on discounted books. Further, booksellers can’t offer more than a 5% discount off a book’s cover price.

I wish it were that way here.

In Germany, books can’t be discounted. In fact, six of the 10 biggest book-selling countries have versions of fixed book prices—Japan, Italy, Spain, South Korea, Germany, and France.

Britain used to have a fixed-price system into the 1990s—but once it abandoned it the book world was hit hard. A third of its independent bookstores closed in the past nine years, as supermarkets and Amazon discounted some books by more than 50%.

In France, where only 3% of book sales are e-books, 70% of its citizens report having read at least one book last year. The average among French readers is 15 books a year.

Many products and services can and should compete, in part, on price, but I believe staunchly that books cannot be commoditized. To preserve the value of books, we must take the finances out of the equation. Yes, I want a touch of socialism to support the liberty of books. Save the price wars for sales of widgets, not books.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Come With Me Now,If You Want Your Book To Live

In one of the great Terminator movies a critical point comes when Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character says, "Come with me now if you want to live.” Well, Amazon has dropped a bomb on the publishing world with its new Netflix-type plan for eBooks, and all I can say is it’s time to fight back. Come with me now if you want your book to live.

A new service, Kindle Unlimited, allows those who pay just $10 a month, for unlimited access to its catalog of 600,000 ebooks. This is one of the worst things for the book publishing industry.

It limits publishing and author profits, it gives an extremely unfair advantage to Amazon over Barnes & Noble, it furthers the price disparity between print and digital, and commoditizes books like never before. 

How is any of that good for the public?

The big five publishers have wisely opted out of this service, but it still leaves plenty of publishers and books to join in. Big-name publishers are involved, such as Scholastic and Houghton Mifflin.

The all-you-can-read version is not new to publishing, but had been limited to smaller companies, such as Oyster and Scribd.  Oyster offers titles from six of the top 10 publishers and Scribd consists of big publishers, such as Simon & Schuster, Wiley, and Harper Collins.

It’s a destructive model to use for book publishing. This is not the movies or music. Movies can earn full fare in the theaters. They then can sell the DVD. They can also sell it to cable/networks to air—and then make it available on Netflix. But books get one shot to sell and there aren’t ways to make money beyond selling a book to a customer.

Books are a lifeblood to America. They double-check the media, the government, and other forms of communication. They offer ideas, information, insight and inspiration—our country can’t afford for books to falter.

When you screw with the economics of book publishing you alter the landscape of how things are disseminated. When profits for authors decrease, there’s less incentive for them to publish a book.

If people start buying through the all-you-can-read menu, they will start to take business away from new books that are not on that bulk offering. For instance, if you only want to read what you can get under the $10 a month plan, you won’t make budget or time available for new books or books not in that plan. People will skip the new phase and wait for books to be back-listed and tossed in to the heap of all-you-can-read.

I think that publishers are suicidal to participate in this. First off, it will kill book sales. Second, it will further erode their brand. Third, it gives more powerful attention to Amazon and that is the opposite of what they should do.

The problem in battling this is that consumers won’t complain about this at all. They will gravitate towards it in droves. Why wouldn’t they?

The more Amazon draws people in, the more likely other holdout publishers will join in, further leading to the capitulation of book publishing.

Soon, a person will spend more in park fees for two days at Disney than they will for an entire year of reading books. That’s a disgrace!

What will then happen, once Amazon has hooked in enough readers and further taken control of publishing, it will publish more books—but not thrust them into the book buffet—and it will raise the monthly fee faster than the rate of increases in the sectors that outpace inflation, such as college tuition and health insurance.

It’s another dark chapter for publishing and Amazon is leading the way for its ruination.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014