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Mel Hopkins

Special Sales & Guerrilla Book Distribution Ideas

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When I worked for Penguin USA and G.P. Putnam's Sons - I worked in Academic Marketing & Sales and Special Sales, respectively.   Big 5 Trade book publishing houses don't just have A Marketing department, they have several marketing and sales department for children's books, Young Authors, Back List  etc... Here's where I'l will post some ideas on ways to distribute your titles beyond bookstores and online retailers such as Amazon.  If you think of some please include them too..  Thanks to @Sharon Wilson for reaching out and remind me! 

For starters: 

  1. How about writing a grant for your favorite charity that could benefit from your book?  This way your charity can purchase your book wholesale and distribute it to the stakeholders. Not only is your book bought, it's  also distributed it too! 
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Are you collecting sales, likes or customers? 

 

One thing that soured me on selling books through  amazondotcom  and even luludotcom was both companies had information on those who purchased my books that I didn't have.   Not knowing my customers put me at a disadvantage. It meant that when I had a new book they might like I had to wait until Amazon or lulu got around to telling them.  What if I just wanted to keep in touch?  I'm a firm believer in KIT Marketing (Keep in Touch Marketing)  I also couldn't reach out to them to find out what they liked about my book...( knowing what customers like helps you to create more of it.)  \

 

All this to say; 

2. if you haven't already started, It's time to build your own mailing list. 

 

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3. Think Like an Editorial Director - and curate and create News your audience can use. 
 

Even if you have one name on your mailing list treat that one person like she represents 1,000 subscribers because she does if we can depend on exponential growth.   Sometimes good content could be related to your book's subject matter - especially if you're an expert.   Other times you may have to think beyond your book and really know what your customers need. 

 

For example,  @CDBurns  runs a website with the tagline "in-depth sneaker info.   http://arch-usa.com/  I haven't sign up for his mailing list but I do follow him and his conversation on disqus.   Chris Burns designs,and runs his shoe business but he also has his own publishing arm to the business too.   Burns is ahead of the curve.  Major Brands are now just realizing that they need a media department. 

 

I thought about him when writing this post because just yesterday,  he told me about Brooks running shoes and their partnership with Black Girls Run.   

 

I'm not a sneaker head but his information appeals to me.  This means when I think of sneakers, I remember him.   

You connecting with your audience through your expertise means they will remember you too.

 

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Academic Marketing & Sales

 

Did you know there are many associations that host about 352,300 conferences and meetings that are attended by professionals who can make purchasing decisions, such as making a wholesale purchases of your book? 


Conference exhibiting is another way to knock on a backdoor market to reach your readers.   If you’re only exhibiting your books at book conventions you’re missing out on quite a few opportunities.   Source: MARKETING YOUR BOOKS TO THE ACADEMIC COMMUNITY

 

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I haven't been logging in as much because I've expanded my network of websites to 4 sneaker and sports based websites. You are exactly right Mel. We  have given away our power by living our lives via social media. Having your own site and building old school webrings is the way to go. I've done this with AHN and now my site and network in the course of a year and a half have grown from around 3000 visits a month to 400,000 visits a month. The sites generate income and sales and when we hit 1 million visits a month we will be in the rare air of sneaker sites that generate considerable interest. Several sneaker sites have gained investors with amounts ranging from 2 million to 50 Million dollars. As long form content becomes more important those with their own platforms are the people who will benefit. Social and search continues to change requiring paid engagement. It's not the way to build a long term business. 3rd party should be used in support of, not primarily.

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It is actually great that you are visiting a network of other sites related to your business!

 

I agree with the premise of everything your written.  Brands are already know they are at an disadvantage when there are less than a handful a places to promote their products. 

Content rich websites are the way to rich a specific audience.  I've know this for years by simply comparing ad engagement on my website versus what I see on social media.  Plus, social media ad engagement over time has only gotten worse and more expensive.

 

3,000 to 400,000 visits a month is incredible growth --  congratulations!  Have created a video or article describing this success?  If so please share it in the Strategies section of #ReadingBlack

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On 2/3/2018 at 7:01 PM, CDBurns said:

building old school webrings

 

@CDBurns  This ^ is the term I was trying to remember! Thank you!  Yes, please share a video in strategies ! 

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Now I have to be clear in stating that it's the network that's garnered that growth which is still considerable. The funny thing is the primary site  that has grown considerably in the network (Housakicks) when I first started working with him he was barely getting 1000 visits per month and he has since crushed my totals at 300K+ per month. My site suffered from my stupidity. I accidentally deleted it and it killed my sitemap and indexing with Google. I finally updated my sitemap and my traffic has started growing again but I'm only up to about 25000 visits per month. The other two sites are about the same. It's taken almost two years to grow the network, but long form content is actually making a big come back.

 

I don't have a video because it hasn't been a straightforward process. It's primarily content. That's it. Combined we write between 20-40 articles per week as a unit. Creating the network has been vital. I could definitely do the same thing with Troy if I worked on CBP enough and you Mel, but the AHN takes up so much of my time and it's the money maker so I stay in that space.

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On 2/10/2018 at 9:48 PM, CDBurns said:

Combined we write between 20-40 articles per week as a unit. Creating the network has been vital.


This right here is helpful @CDBurns !   And when ever you get a chance to map and share the process -that would be helpful too! Thank you!

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Yes at @CDBurns, that would be helpful.  I have been working with a video production company who have committed resources to develop video content for Black books.  The Primary platform is The Tea, who have a YouTube channel.  They produce high quality videos and are trying to build their audience.

 

The are a cadre of others who create Black book video content on Youtube as well.  Collectively they call themselves "Book Tubers." I've been trying to figure out way for all of us to strengthen our network. 

 

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Troy you already have this platform, but people would have to be willing to submit articles to you. Which is probably the hardest thing for people to do if they don't think you will give them Huffpost type publicity (which we all know isn't really publicity).  Since people won't submit, you have to take it upon yourself, as always, to aggregate the data. In other words begin compiling the videos you find on your site with short posts and links back to those people. Then when you share it out to social (which honestly doesn't really drive traffic but people think it does) then tag those people. They may not reciprocate, but they will share it because it's their stuff. 

 

I subscribed to The Tea on YT already. 

 

As far as sharing the process that's hard. It's an ongoing thing. The most critical thing has been catering to what people want to read, while also creating the articles that people need to read. I know that I'm a sneaker elitist. I like discussing things from a business perspective, but sneaker culture really doesn't care about that. They want to know how to tell if their shoe is a real shoe. I decided to do a video for every shoe I carry (not every size, style). That has generated more traffic than I have with really poignant articles. However, the really in depth posts have garnered me an appearance on Marketplace Morning Edition and in prominent investment sites and on various news sites like Portland Business Journal.  There has to be a fair mix. Most important there has to be time. I've lost everything taking the year off from selling (not self imposed, I closed my Amazon store cold turkey and lost half a million) and that year off allowed me to build the network. I knew years ago that my time had to be invested in my own platform, but doing so isolates me which is miss so much here. It's a sacrifice and it's difficult, but in the last year or so, sneaker blogs and networks have pulled in over 100 million in investments... yep sneaker blogs. I gotta hit that magic number of 1 million visits a month and I can get some of that action.

 

I think ultimately you would have to take over design of the sites. I do all of the updates and layouts of WP for all of the network. When there is an issue I fix it. I have taken on that responsibility but my partners are willing to let me in their dashboards... I have to wonder if that can happen in the book world.

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I believe if could happen in the book world to @CDBurns

 

Sneakers are a lot more popular and sexy than books (to many people).  I'd be willing to bet the average Brother owns more pairs of sneakers than hardcover novels (man that sounds so cynical, and it felt bad to write it, but seriously I would not be surprised if it were true).

 

Historically I could not attract the content the way huff post could, but this is changing and the new site will probably make this even easier.  I have also been able to take my content in repurpose it in new ways that I was impossible with the old site.  My event page is is more popular than ever -- same content, but now it is in a database so it is easier to maintain and can be greatly expanded.

 

I've spend the two years upgrading the site and now there is a light at the end of the tunnel --- checkout the revised version of your page: http://chrisdburns.com/ I just, this instant, put this in production -- The Enhanced AUthor Profile pages are the first pages to be upgraded.   I still have a lot of work to do converting page types but once they are done I can change literally thousands of pages on one shot -- this would have been inconceivable before I started the upgrade.

 

Oh once I can get past this upgrade and focus solely on content watch out baby!

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I completely understand. If I had to write code for the site I would lose my mind. I'm sure you're using php which is quicker and easier, but still the idea of updating so many pages would prevent any progress, but you said you've made it an easier process so I can't wait to see what happens when you can focus on creating content. As you know the more there is the greater the search results. Which is all that matters now since people no longer browse the web and discover new sites. You are relying solely on converting people who discover your content via search.

 

On the shoes vs books, there isn't even a competition. Kicks by a thousand miles. I wouldn't hesitate to say guys have a minimum of 10 pair of kicks and maybe half a hardback. They may have some paperbacks, lol. I make it point to prominently display books in all of my videos. I used to have my whiteboard covering my office book shelf now it's in every video. I think it's important people see that stuff. Let me know if I can do anything in my daily updates.

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@CDBurns, I'm still migrating pages from HTML to php after almost two years.  It will probably take forever LOL!  

 

@Damani, If there are any active author webrings I'm not aware of any. I've really been racking my brain trying to find a suitable alternative to a webrings. I've been working with different groups looking at alternative mode of collaboration promotion.  Unfortunately, on the web, the locus of power on the web has shifted from many indie sites to a handful a massive corporate site.  As a result we are pretty much at their mercy in terms of discoverability.  This condition would probably render webring ineffective unless we take back so level of control -- something I spend as much time trying to do as I do selling books. 😞 

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22 minutes ago, Troy said:

 

@Damani , If there are any active author webrings I'm not aware of any. I've really been racking my brain trying to find a suitable alternative to a webrings. I've been working with different groups looking at alternative mode of collaboration promotion.  Unfortunately, on the web, the locus of power on the web has shifted from many indie sites to a handful a massive corporate site.  As a result we are pretty much at their mercy in terms of discoverability.  This condition would probably render webring ineffective unless we take back so level of control -- something I spend as much time trying to do as I do selling books. 😞 

 

@Troy, I remember webrings from the early days, but had/have no real concept of how they worked.

Stay strong, my Brother, on fighting for control.  Very essential for self-determination.

 

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I use a webrings with my student.  It just makes it easier for me to visit all of my student's pages when grading assignments.  If any one breaks the ring they lose points.

 

Webrings predated search and allowed visitors to discover websites.  Of course the webrings were self regulated; bad players were naturally excluded. One might argue that this process is less efficient than using search to discover a website because webrings can't scale to millions of websites.  But I'd argue neither can google because few searchers go past the first couple of pages of search results -- that is assuming Google does not hijack the searcher first with their own service.

 

Where Google really shines is finding content on web page.  They are so good at this it is mind boggling.

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I'm popping up again, lol. I recently added the RSS Feed from the network sites to each homepage of the sites. That is the closest thing to a webring I've found. It also diminishes writing posts for more than one site. Authors are all content to remain on Facebook and IG basically screwing themselves out of any potential additional revenue via affiliates and ads. It's so unfortunate. With the sneaker site it has turned into my writing site. My books have never really taken off, but as of late I've been interviewed several times about diversity in footwear because of posts I've written on the site. I've basically become a writer because of blogging, when I was a novelist without any readers. My work is being read more than ever which is the most important statement I could ever make. If writers are creating their own content on a consistent basis, they are going to have travel everywhere and go to every event to build an audience. If they simply woke up each morning and updated their own sites they would improve search and opportunities. Sorry I've been missing, but there have been some incredible things taking shape because of the posts on the site and I've been completely focused on building that momentum.  I hope everyone is well!!!!

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Thanks for popping by @CDBurns, please posts some links here from time to time and share the news of your successes -- especially the interviews.  Keep up the great work.  I may make it to Memphis this summer and will reach out.

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Thanks everybody! Don't have anything to add right now because I'm too busy considering how to incorporate all these great strategies into my marketing plans. 

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