What’s so good about niche publishing? (Blog Bundle #1)

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Niche publishing sounds like it’s the true path to poverty! Publishing is hard enough, but to niche markets? Working harder and taking greater risks just to sell to fewer people?

You’re in for a huge surprise!

It may be the best kept secret in the book publishers’ trove that big money, less risk, quicker returns, and a long-term, dependable income are yours from helping fewer people. In fact, within reason, the smaller the market, the bigger the pot of gold. Best yet, here small publishers can beat the giants at their own game every time!

So I’m going to share in this Blog Bundle the inside steps about how you can quickly profit from publishing to tightly-targeted markets.

And there are two more huge benefits hiding in this little known grove:

One, before you write a word or print a page, you can pre-test and see if your book will sell, roughly how many copies, if the title works, and if you chose the best contents—for about $500. (Your goal—discussed in the next blog—is $100,000 in sales, with half of that profit. $500 is 1/200 of $100,000.)

Because being able to pre-test is such a boon, I will tell you in this blog series exactly what you do to conduct the test and know if you have a winner book in just 30 days!

The second giant benefit is that your niche book can be the first (and core) product of an empire that will triple your book income every year, and then multiply that again from related books, CDs, videos, seminars, speeches, reports, consulting, and classes you can offer to your eager book buyers and their colleagues. Why? Because your book proves that you are an expert in their field, solving their problems and fixing their frustrations. Who wouldn’t rush to buy more good stuff from that source—you ?

Niche publishing is the domain of self- or small publishers. The big houses won’t touch it, mostly because they market so poorly to chosen sections of the mass. It’s sitting there waiting for you or another writer or publisher to serve and be well rewarded!

How do I know? I backed into it about 15 years ago, and now most of my 40 published books are in niched hands! One field, dentistry, earned us about $2,000,000. We’re hoping for the same in K-12 school administration.

But I also write broader books too, and one of my biggest sellers is Niche Publishing: Publishing Profitably Every Time. It explains the whole process, step-by-step. In retrospect, niche publishing was the brightest (and most lucrative) thing I have done in decades. It gave me an opportunity to learn about the philosophy and practice, which led to a solid TCE process and the book.

I’m sharing from that book (and the 100+ seminars it spawned) in this blog, just as I did on July 20 in a webinar for the IBPA (International Book Publishers Association) called “How to Triple Your Profits and Remove Your Risk by Pre-Testing Your Niche Book.”

Which means that in the coming blogs I will discuss and explain (2) the goals and assumptions of niche publishing pre-testing, (3) defining a niche market that pays, (4) how to pick a subject and book title, (5) will you be the author or publisher, or both?, (6) your book price, range, and test measurements, (7) the cost of your niche publishing pre-test, (8) getting a free mailing list, (9) creating the test flyer, (10) a test note, (11) the accompanying postcard, and (12) the 25 steps of prepping, mailing, and evaluating the pre-test.

I’ll continue next Friday… and probably post other blogs about writing-related things on Tuesdays. See you next week. (You might tell blog-reading friends about this series too, particularly if they write or publish to niches.)

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

P.S. Every Friday until Oct. 14 I will blog about niche publishing (mostly about pre-testing). All will include the words “Blog Bundle” and the respective number, so you can find them in the search box. (#2 is about the goal and assumptions of pre-testing.) If you want to get a how-to handle on the whole concept, see the write-up of Niche Publishing: Publishing Profitably Every Time. (Also, join my free monthly newsletter where I expand more on empire building (with niche publishing at its core.)

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How to Interview a Famous Person…

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You already know the answer: about the same way you interview a lesser (known) mortal, except as humble as that person is (it happens!) they still expect a bit of deference…

The real question is, how do you get to interview a famous person?

Let’s assume you are doing this as the core of an article, or your talk with them is one of several interviews for an article. And you are proposing the article (with the interview) to the editor.

First, figure out what that interview is about, then list the best known people with something worthwhile to say. Send a lively, well crafted query letter to the editor, sell your idea, and suggest who you would like to interview for that piece. You can try many editors of different publications, but one at a time, best first.

Only when you have one clear “go-ahead” (a “let me see it”) do you approach the famous person for a short (think 15-minute maximum) interview, telling the name of the publication that gave you the go-ahead, what the article is about, and asking if/when the interview can/will be held. The conversation will probably be by phone, e-mail, or in person, and you can ask for the interview the same way (if the person has an agent, that’s the best approach; by e-mail is the least advisable means).

Then all that remains is the actual doing, and since you are both on the same track and know the purpose of the verbal exchange, the rest is straightforward. Thank them first, start with a fairly broad but pertinent question. Make the most important question the second one, and if you can segue into it from what they’ve just said, all the better. (The less obvious the questions, the fresher the answers—usually!) If you have a talk-stopper to ask (“Did you really kill the butler?”), ask that last.

Don’t talk about yourself (unless they ask, then quickly), keep the conversation friendly but professional, laugh if they say something funny (or meant to be funny), and consider ending the interview with “Is there anything I didn’t ask that you would like me to include?” At the end, thank them again, and assure them that the moment the article is in print, you will send them a copy. (Get an address if you don’t already have it.)

Remember, they are speaking with you because they somehow benefit from being in print. But their time is valuable and you will get only as much of it as you deserve. So be a journalist first, research the person fully before making contact, and stick to the topic. Only if they wonder off, let them go, take notes, and gently herd them back into the desired corral to get the information you need—unless what they are saying is even more important. Then follow them with notes wherever they go..

Have I actually interviewed famous people? Yep, five Presidents (alas, all of South American countries), movie stars, sports figures, Adlai Stevenson four times, others. My conclusion: they are just like anybody else (but famouser) if you are courteous and acknowledge your gratitude. Sometimes they are even very funny, and they are almost always articulate (if they are sober). Which is why I almost always interview in the morning. (Not for me—I don’t drink. They do!)

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

P.S. If receiving my newsletter (free monthly) interests you, great! You might also enjoy my book The Travel Writer’s Guide, where I write much more about this information gathering and article writing and selling.

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How do you make big money publishing “How to Create a High School Graduation Book?”

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That’s my 40th book and it’s being released today (July 12, 2011) as I write this blog. Most of the earlier books that we published in house earned from about $50,000-125,000. (They were empire-building books; see more about how that works in the free reports to my free newsletter, and in the monthly newsletter itself.) Several more of the books were also sold widely through bookstores, and one was a Writer’s Digest book.

But this “grad” book may not be that successful (in part because I’m only charging $10 for a paperback and $5 for an e-book.) While I’d love to have those profits, that’s really not the point here. This is a wee model book (5 ½” x 8”, 132 pages in paperback), sort of a liberation book that opens publishing, by example, for literally millions of wanna-be authors and publishers.

Don’t misunderstand. How many high school grads will there be from October to June in 2012? (Google says it was 3.2 million in 2010, so figure it won’t be less than 3 million.) Their mothers, fathers, grandfolks, even brothers or sisters are my potential market—they might leap at the chance to capture that graduation (and senior year) in a surprise gift book for the grad. It’s a giant but very loose niche. If I can find them and sell a $10 book to just 1%, that’s a gross of $300,000. If I net 25%, that’s $75,000. Twice as much if I snag 2%, and so on. And I plan to try to get as high a percentage as possible!

But there’s something extra about this book. It’s a “tell by show” book. I tell precisely how anybody can create their own “grad” book, get it published almost free by the ancillary publishers, have it back after submission in minutes (for the e-book) and days (for the paperback), and they really don’t need to understand publishing at all (beyond creating the book’s contents in Word). Sound impossible? It was until just a couple of years back. Then, for the everyday person, a miracle happened (really, a new business model appeared).

I didn’t believe any of that fast and free stuff for the first year I read about it! That’s because I’d published the old-fashioned way since 1982. But I tried it out—and it was true! Publishers like Kindle, (CreateSpace) Amazon, Pubit! (Barnes & Noble), Lulu, Smashwords (for Sony and iPad), Blurb, and Sribd would take your interior (text) file and a cover file (some even let you create a cover at their site free), they would publish your book, and they would market it through distributors everywhere. Best of all, you got the royalties for sales, from 30-85%, depending on the firm and format.

Do the books look good? You bet. How to Create a High School Graduation Book was created on Word, included some photos, and I had a lass create the same cover for all six versions I had printed by the ancillary publishers, plus an in-house version run for us. The book looks rather simple and likely makes book designers cringe, but it will defend itself in a bookstore shelf (or a digital catalog), it tells what it promises, and for non-writer/publishers who gift a similar book they create, it will delight and amaze their high school graduate. They can produce their own book with nothing more than a computer, regular software, and a simple digital camera: the book is doable, fairly easy, fast, fun, and plenty good enough for the graduate to treasure forever as the best, most personal gift they will receive.

Incidentally, the person putting it together will also be a published author, with a nice book to prove it. And if they can do that about a high school graduation, why can’t they use the same process and also write fiction, non-fiction, memoirs, a wedding book, a travel book, one about the family reunion or history, and so on. So that’s why my wee how-to book is kind of important, because if others do as it says, it lets a million people out of their publishing cages!

Sure, some of their books will be ugly, hard to understand, without much style, and some will even put the index where you’d expect the table of contents, but so what? They’ll do better the second time, if there’s a second time. But just as likely, some great little books (or huge books) will see light, even in other languages, and they will move and change the world by inches. And this wee “High School Graduation Book” edition will be one of the little engines that could help bring new books and writers to that new light. That’s the kind of payment I like too.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett
www.gordonburgett.com
GLeeBurgett (ain’t life Tweet?)

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Unwritten but needed books are hiding everywhere…

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Let me share an example that provokes this blog, though I’m changing the topic a bit so I don’t spill my friend’s beans before he even plants them.

He’s a smart fellow just retired, and in his new career-hobby in the theater he fell into the job of writing p.r. for a local acting group (while he hones his new thespian skills by walking on and off stage bellowing a line or two, usually wearing a weird hat. He also handles the curtain—and the lights when the light-man is likewise bellowing on stage!)

He thoroughly enjoys all aspects of the promotion, is good at it, and is busy talking with anybody nearby in the greater San Francisco area who is doing the same thing for a theater or something similar.

When we spoke, rather by chance, this morning, he shared his new excitement. A mistake. I asked him why he didn’t write a much-needed book for small public performing groups telling them how their promotion can best be done, mixed with the funniest stories he can gather while he interviews others to gather ideas, processes, examples of what works, and how-to steps that his compatriots could quickly apply.

“Who would buy it?” he asked. Just the other 1,000 or 2,000 folks doing the same hapless, under-appreciated task nationwide. Get a mailing list and send a flyer. Make his book available in both paperback and ebook. Keep the price low ($6-12 or so), the quality high, insert lots of appropriate humor, and he might even open up a wee empire by later putting out similar books for the other dozen or so key positions that also must be filled to keep the curtains opening. (He can then get others to write the remaining books while he produces and promotes them!)

“How can I afford to publish my book?” was his second, logical question. He asked the wrong guy! I just published a book called How to Get Your Book Published Free in Minutes and Marketed Worldwide in Days. Use the new ancillary publishers. Let them create a dandy book from his words, then market it widely (as he sells it to his niche by mail and word-of-mouth). It might cost him $50, or a $100, or $25 to get the book up and out.

The point is that in every corner of every niche there is need just begging to be met. Only now with the new publishing format can it be widely, quickly, and very inexpensively met. The book must be good. But there are thousands of very good books just waiting to be written by thousands of smart, eager, well educated souls who have (or can quickly gather) information and how-to means that others will eagerly buy and read.

Will he do it? Maybe. Somebody will. There’s too much need, too many capable folks looking for worthy feathers for their cap, and it’s too easy now to be in print.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

P.S. If this sounds like malarkey, I have more of it in my free, monthly newsletter. And three free reports too for those daring enough to sign up!

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Five biggest challenges when you write a book—with solutions!

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If I were untainted (not already in print) and I wanted to write a book, here are the five biggest hurdles I’d confront, in an order that makes sense to me.

* Finding a topic with enough substance for a book

* Finding somebody to publish it

* Figuring out who would buy it

* Getting a handle on the actual writing

* Being brave enough to let the public (including my mother, all my English teachers, and my boss) read it

Want some quick solutions from a grizzled old journalist with 40 books of my own published and somewhere in print (and about 60 more books of others that I helped see light)?

Find a topic with enough substance for a book. Think 100+ pages, 150-200 words each, divided into sensible (preferably short) chapters. Then find something you really care about and want to share. See who else wrote about it, or something like it. Read at least five other books similar to yours (probably by them) and figure out how they did it. Find a different slant or angle or update about your topic, research like you’re writing 10 full newspaper articles, doublecheck everything, don’t be afraid to interview others who know more about the theme, and then make flowing sense out of what you’ve gathered. Massage it, make it fun to read, and, last, get it proofed. Bingo—you have a book!

Find somebody to publish it. Forget the big house publishers—they can buy it from you for a nice sum later if it finds fame. See which small houses publish books like yours and query them to see if they are interested. Or self-publish it, then market it to death. Look seriously at the ancillary publishers (like CreateSpace, Smashwords, Pubit, Kindle, and Lulu), particularly if it’s fiction. They will put it in decent form and will start the selling through distributors for you–free in hours or days.

Figure out who would buy it. If it’s a broad book, like fiction or a “how to get (brilliant, tall, witty…)” thing, you must write it so well that people would be fools not to rush to get a copy. (Alas, even some non-fools will resist.) But if it is nonfiction and solves a problem, relieves a frustration, or brings its readers/practitioners huge benefits, you simply have to identify those beneficiaries and let them know that heaven (and you) have their problem(s) solved! (If it’s a niche book, pre-test it before you write a word. Read my Niche Publishing or hear me talk about this (he says modestly) in a webinar on July 20.)

Get a handle on the actual writing. If you found a topic and organized it (as mentioned above), you know where you and the book are headed and the path you must take. If you are utterly illiterate, get literate. But if you can write clear sentences, write them. Do them one at a time. Don’t edit them until the book is done. Then go back and make sense of what you said. Think lean and clear. Get the message so smooth and informative (or enticing or mysterious or whatever it has to be to be buyable) that all that stands between you and wild acclaim is a good editor/proofreader whom you will pay to expunge anything that doesn’t make what remains a bona fide wonder of words.

Be brave enough to let the public (including your mother, all your English teachers, and your boss) read it. If you mention that boss, change the name and give him a beard or her a gnarly twitch. Otherwise, if you are proud of what you are saying, it’s honest, the facts are accurate, the proofer did it right, and the end product has a fetching cover and looks professional, stand tall and get it out there so they can claim you as their own! In other words, Nike has it right: just do it. Then send a free copy to the ten most important people in your life. The rest must pay, so your task is to make all the rest of those folks aware of the miracle (your book) and how they can buy it immediately!

Way too simplified, you say? Being in print isn’t a joke.

No, it’s a book. And these are pretty much the flaming hoops through which you must leap. Just like, literally, millions of people have done since printing appeared. (Before that, maybe a half million talked books.) So if a book is what you want, get in line and get going. We need to read what you have to say.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

P.S. I also share even better wisdom in my free, monthly newsletter. And in my own books at www.gordonburgett.com/order3.htm. If the above makes sense and you do it, then need help, I do some manuscript reviewing too.

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