Thursday, April 30, 2009

Blogging About Popular Articles

How can we get more people to read our blogs? How can we choose topics to blog about that people are really interested in?

A recent marketing newsletter recommended connecting popular, recent articles with your blog posts. Since people are already talking about an article and its topic, mentioning it can add authority and interest to your post, as well as attract readers who are further exploring the subject matter.

Example: You've written a book on personal money management. So you go to the Wall Street Journal site and browse the most popular recent articles. How do you know which are the most popular? Go to this page , which lists their recent articles in order of "Most Viewed" and "Most Emailed." It also lists the most popular by section and their most popular blog posts. (You can do the same with the New York Times, and probably other major newspapers you follow.)

The most popular article is, "Rejection, How Colleges Do It." Interesting. It's more popular than the articles on the current outbreak of Swine Flu, that has people around the country panicking and wearing face masks. But it makes sense. It's Spring, close to high school graduation, and parents are wanting to make sure their students get into college.

So, I've found a hot topic that the readers of my money blog might find helpful. I could simply summarize the main points of the Wall Street Journal article and link back to the article if my readers want to read the source.

This little trick helps me to identify felt needs and quickly provide information to help my readers.

Posted by J. Steve Miller, author of Enjoy Your Money! How to Make It, Save It, Invest it and Give It.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Week Three (Part 2) Think Local

Much of what we read concerning book publicity urges us to pursue channels at a distance: mailing the book to distant contests, book reviewers, book tours to major cities, etc. Sure, take advantage of opportunities around the country (and world), but while peering into the distance, don't overlook the possibilities close to home. Since it's difficult for me to travel, due to raising kids and caring for my 103-year-old granny, I'm spending a lot of time thinking about local sales.

My good friend David Cady, an hour north of me in Dalton, Georgia (pop. 30,000), self-published a riveting novel about a snake-handling cult entitled The Handler. In the six months of its existence, in addition to other outlets, it's sold about 200 copies at a local restaurant! That's more than the total sales of a significant number of books!

Local Potential
  • 18,000 people live in my town of Acworth.
  • 700,000 live in my county (Cobb), which is a part of metro Atlanta.
  • 5.5 million live in metro Atlanta.
Hmmm....I'd say that within an hour of my house I've got a pretty decent market. And even if I just marketed in Acworth, and fans began to recommend it to others, who recommend it to others, isn't it conceivable that we could reach a tipping point that provokes national sales? If David has sold 200 in one local restaurant, what if I could get my book into 200 stores? It's a worthy goal.

Local Stores

Last week I talked to local bookstores, local places I shop, local places I rent videos, the local gym where I work out. Most were friendly, receptive, and took a free copy to look over. [In case stores needed a book display, I bought some white, cardboard counter displays (8 5/8" wide) from Meridian Display (ask for Carole), at $4.34 each, for a box of 25 ($3.65 each if you purchase two boxes).]

Although you might have to go through more hoops with big chain stores, even Wal-Mart has has a way for local managers to purchase local products they wish to sell in their stores. It's called their "Local Purchase Program."

Local Speaking

In two weeks I'll speak to a group of about 100 students at a student organization at our local university. I'll be part of a panel on personal money management and will sell books in the back.

Think about speaking on the topic of your writing wherever it's appropriate. Civic organizations and schools are often looking for speakers on various topics. Perhaps your state has a grant like in Georgia, where approved authors are paid through the grant to speak in public schools.

Local Newspapers and Radio and Library Signing

Well, surely you've already thought about these. Your book is exciting news to your hometown. They want to know!

Excuse me, but 700,000 people in my county need a copy of my book. I'd better get out there and sell some!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Week Three: Contacting Newspaper Columnists

How do you get newspaper columnists to write about your book? The secret? It's all about them, not about you and your book. Keep that in mind and you may go far.

1) They need to produce a column each week. Give them something that would delight their readers and make the writer look good. The fact that a new book is out isn't typically a great headline. Think deeper. Here's what I'm saying in an introductory e-mail to financial columnists:

e-mail title: Financially Illiterate Graduates

Dear ____,
Thanks for your column, which helps so many with their personal finances.
With graduation season just around the corner, I knew that many of your readers would want advice for graduating high school and college seniors, who, as we are well aware, are typically clueless concerning getting jobs, excelling at jobs, entrepreneurship, and personal finance. Also, readers might want recommendations for graduation gifts (why not the gift of financial wisdom?)
My book, targeting young people (ages 16-27), just came off the press. I'd love to send you a free copy for review. I think you'll find it well-researched and documented, but written in story form to make it a quick, fun read. It covers getting and thriving in jobs, as well as saving and investing money. It's called: Enjoy Your Money! How to Make It, Save It, Invest It and Give It.
Hopefully, during these difficult economic times, the book can help young people catch a vision for working hard, living beneath their means, etc., before they get into serious financial trouble.
If you're interested in a free copy, let me know an address and I'll send it on.
Thanks again for your life and writing!
J. Steve Miller

Put yourself in the columnist's shoes. Every year at this time, she's got to come up with something new that relates to the graduation season. My book gives great ideas. It's a win/win!

2) Find the columnists.

I Googled "Major Newspapers" and found them listed by state here: . By going to each newspaper site and looking through the sections and columnists, I was able to find their e-mail addresses.

3) Personalize your e-mail to each columnist. That way, it doesn't come across as a chain letter. I'm sure they get lots of books to review.

4) Offer them something. In other e-mails, I spoke of linking to their sites from my site, recommending their books, etc. If I publicize their projects, their more likely to publicize mine.

I've sent out my first four e-mails to columnists at the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, LA Times, and Washington Post. To prep for each of these syndicated columnists, I read a book by each one and am recommending their books from my Website. All but one have replied that they want me to send them a book. Cool!

5) When you send a book, include a brochure, press release and sign the book. Since they requested it, I wrote "Requested Materials" on the front of the mailer, to ensure it gets opened.

Hey, this is fun!