BAIPA board member John Byrne Barry captured these key takeaways from the August BAIPA meeting, which featured the following three presentations:
- Lee Foster on How to Monetize Your Book Content More Effectively
- Bob Heyman on Getting Your SEO Right
- Shari Weiss on Setting Up and Implementing Your Social Media for Your Book Marketing Success
How to Monetize Your Book Content More Effectively
Board member and travel author Lee Foster has 18 books, 14 traditionally published and 4 self-published. One recent book, Backroads California, he could not do independently; it has to be physically printed in large quantities to be successful.
His most inspirational monetizing moment was back when CD-ROMs were new. He had developed a “book” on California travel, with 20 texts and 1,000 photos. No way he could publish a traditional book with that many photos. But he connected with a company that called itself ebook and they said they wanted to work with him on a CD-ROM called California Travel. They’d sell it for $20. Lee would get 10 percent. They made a deal to get two units in every one of Radio Shack’s 7,000 stores. The day they produced and shipped the CD-ROMs, Lee made $28,000.
“You need to keep your content ready for opportunities like this,” he said.
Here are some of Lee’s tips to monetize existing content:
- Get book content set up for Amazon and Ingram print-on-demand. Eliminates the whole warehousing and shipping and the costs associated with it. Someone anywhere can order your books.
- Get your e-book version up. I recommend Amazon Kindle + Smashwords to serve the non-Amazon world.
- Get your book up as a website book on WordPress. An approximation up on the web. Monetize it with Google ads. One ad directly on the left side of every post. How relevant is the ad? His text is about Monterey. The ad is about the aquarium. You decide where to put the ads. (He earns about $.25 for every 100 people who come to his website. Setup is free.)
- Create additional products if you can. Consult for a fee? Speaking? Everything you do should draw people back to your website and your books/e-books.
- Focus your social media on giving something away for free. Announce this free content on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+.
- Where might your book be helpful to someone? Could it be an audio book? Could your book be translated into other languages? (Lee has a successful California travel book in Chinese.)
- License your book content. A travel agency licenses 100 of Lee’s articles for three years. They saw his books on his website.
Getting Your SEO Right
Bob Heyman, who is credited with coining the term SEO, has written four books including SEO for Authors. He came early to the web. The band Starship needed a website. Bob knew some kids. They build jstarship.com.
“But one evening,” he said, “I got a call from the manager of Starship. He was screaming. The band was proud of their site, but couldn’t remember the URL. They had looked it up on Alta Vista and Lycos, the search engines in use at the time. It turned up on the bottom of page 2. They demanded to know why they were on the bottom of page 2.
“I promise to make them number 1. Had no idea how to do it. My coders reverse engineered the 19 sites ahead of them. Turns out what makes you number 1 was repeating Jefferson Starship a hundred times. Keyword stuffing. Since we were already using a black field, we wrote the name of the band over and over again. The band was thrilled. Now it is number 1 in the search.
“‘What do you call it?’ They asked. ‘Search engine optimization,’ I said.”
With that as his core practice, Heyman and his colleagues developed a clientele and wrote a bunch of books.
Search is a new paradigm of the internet. In the past, you bought something because you saw an ad or a product in a store. You didn’t use to be able to search the way we do now.
But there was word of mouth. Search is like word of mouth on steroids. How people find out about things.
The most powerful keywords are usually your competitors’ names. If someone is looking for Chevy and you’re Ford, you know they’re in the market for a car.
The keyword stuffing doesn’t work anymore. Tricks don’t work for Google. In fact, you can be penalized for doing what Heyman did for Starship. The only thing still gamed — if you posted on google+, then google counted it more.
Content. To the search engine, new content has authority and relevance. It weeds out spammy stuff.
Searches generally reward consistency. Keep posting once a month. Keep posting things of similar length.
Another thing to think of is what audience am I targeting and why are they searching? Put yourself in the shoes of your target audience. Someone looking for Jefferson Starship is going to be happy to find it.
People are often frustrated because people came to their site but didn’t buy. But now they know about the site. People rarely buy on their first click.
For example, a redwood lumber company sells through lumber yards. They want to build buzz about redwood as material to build with. They have to fight Trex, which is eating their lunch.
Who is their target audience? What are they looking for? Well, they’re looking at pictures, not articles. Looking for the kind of look they want. Through imagery. So their strategy was to dominate the image search for things related to redwood. They used images of Frank Lloyd Wright homes, redwood jewelry.
- Fish where the fish are. Use tools in google or bing to figure out where the volume is. Things can be too competitive.
- Be the answer to a question. How do I do this? Try to be the answer to a commonly asked query.
Authors often need to find something in the news, do a post or blog, take advantage that that subject might lead people to their site.
Sorry, no notes on Shari Weiss’ presentation on Social Media. Maybe you can help make these takeaways more complete by helping with taking notes and writing up a summary. We’re trying to get these takeaways up for every meeting. Contact me if you’d like to help at a future meeting. (You can plug your books at the bottom, like I do.)
— John Byrne Barry is a BAIPA board member and author of Bones in the Wash: Politics is Tough. Family is Tougher and Wasted: Murder in the Recycle Berkeley Yard.