Once upon a time, my car broke down in Lebanon Kansas, the exact geographical center of the U.S. A big storm was coming, the sky was dark, and the air was perfectly still. As in a fantasy story, a mechanic showed up in an old jeep, carrying a toolbox with just a hammer and a wrench.
He told me that he couldn’t fix my car. I asked why not and he said, “I don’t have the tools.”
Astonishingly, a second mechanic drove up in a big pickup truck with locking tool cabinets all over the outside. He diagnosed my problem, fixed my carburetor throttle lever and sent me out of the vortex of the continent and the storm. The right tools made the difference.
Do you have the right tools?
Do you have the right tools to sell the most books possible? I recently looked at a group of independent publishers’ web sites to survey their tools. In an admittedly small sampling, I examined 10 randomly chosen independent publishers’ website.
The surveyed Web sites used these tools:
Free excerpts/articles 80%
Provided shopping cart to purchase books 100%
E-mail signup and e-newsletter 30%
The Essential Tools Are Easy
My survey indicates publishers are very good at the basics of providing both information about their books and expertise and pointing to a way to buy them. The survey also shows a trend toward a significant lack of the use of more powerful tools such as newsletters, mailing lists, and blogs.
Creating vital community with real benefits to your prospects is critical for selling more books and services. Newsletters and blogs that encourage two way communication and user generated content are the means to produce interaction within your community.
The essential tools don’t have to be complicated. A consistent newsletter, a mailing list, and a blog are all you need to increase the vitality of your community.
One important concept is that the communication should be two way and efficient. You can communicate with your community one at a time via e-mail, but the power of a mailing list will sell more books.
A Few Resources for the Essential Toolkit
Blogging: A free and simple blog service is Blogger.com. This is great place to get started.
A more powerful and more complicated free system is WordPress.com. Many publishers use WordPress as their total website system.
Newsletter mailing list systems: Three popular newsletter and mailing list systems are ConstantContact.com, MailChimp.com, and aweber.com.
The solution to success as an independent publisher and author is so powerful and simple that it could fit on a bumper sticker. It says, “The best way for an independent publisher to succeed is to develop a community around your expertise.” The best way to develop a community around your publishing company is through using the essentials tools of a well written website, a newsletter, a mailing list, and a blog.
Don’t get caught with an empty toolbox when the competition has the essential tools.