Monday, April 19, 2010

Youtube, video and selling books!

There is clearly nothing new about the concept of using Youtube to promote products. In fact, self-publishing authors have been doing it for awhile. I first came across the idea when visiting Morris Rosenthal's blog on self-publishing.

Rosenthal is an advocate of selling non-fiction books by giving away valuable content. One of the ways he engages in this practice is through the use of homemade videos on a specific topic that he films and then posts on Youtube and embeds on his website.

The majority of my book sales are related to coaching basketball and video is a medium that lends itself to sharing information with other coaches. However, writing, scripting, filming, editing and producing a film can be a daunting task. It does not have to be though.

My goal in creating short videos to link to my coaching website is not to sell the videos to other coaches. These videos are not meant to be 75-90 minute instructional videos complete with game footage, practice footage, staged demonstrations and video of my talking about the specifics of the content being shown.

Rather, the videos I have created are meant to be stand alone 4-8 minute segments of me discussing a single topic of interest to basketball coaches. They are not for sale and I am much more interested in providing coaches with information that is valuable to them than I am in producing a short film that is worthy of technical praise for its quality. I am sure that with time my little films will be of better quality because, for me, anything involving technology has a learning curve involved.

Thankfully, I have a Macbook laptop computer which comes with its own camera and in my case, the software for the film editing program iMovie came with the laptop. You can film directly into the program via your computer camera or you can film with a conventional digital camera and download the footage onto your computer. The software is fairly easy to learn and I am sure the more I use it the better videos I will be able to produce.

Each of my videos will end with a short commercial for one of my coaching books. I figure the information I am providing entitles me to include the commercial! This is worth experimenting with and if you have iMovie on your computer, it might be a valuable marketing tool for your book. I encourage you to think about the possibilities!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Predicting Book Sales on Amazon

No, this is not an explanation of a special formula on how to forecast future sales on Amazon. In fact, I have no clue on how to predict anything on Amazon. This is a bit frustrating as the inability to forecast sales in a predictable manner makes it difficult to plan effective marketing/promotional strategies to drive sales on Amazon.

The quandary is in measuring sales as they relate to marketing efforts. Time might be the best ally in this process as over a period of several years, with careful record keeping, it might be possible to recognize trends in sales on Amazon for a specific title.

The sales of my own books have been maddeningly erratic. The only trend I have been able to track is one really good month will be followed by a horrible month in terms of sales. The other months level out and have a consistent level of sales. I have yet to be able to determine any connection with a single marketing strategy with a measurable boost in sales.

I have been able to see an overall average increase in sales since adopting Morris Rosenthal's strategy of providing free information, or content, to readers from my website. Since I have made the effort and invested the time to create and make available files with free content, there has been an overall increase in sales over time. But no sudden jump to pinpoint what free content drove sales so more content of a similar nature could be provided in an effort to generate more interest in my site and expose more potential customers to my books, thereby increasing sales.

I have also noticed that sales of my books are seasonal. Most of my books are about coaching basketball. Sales increase prior to the start of practice in the fall, level off and increase again late in the spring semester as coaches start to plan for the coming season the next school year. How to take advantage of these seasonal peaks is something I need to get a handle on.

Why all the mental worry about predicting sales on Amazon? In the words of the late great P.T. Barnum, "If you don't promote a terrible thing happens. Nothing." Like all self-publishing authors I want my books to sell. If they are going to sell, I am the one responsible to promote them. Since I am a one man shop and have a "real" job, my time is valuable. I need to spend my time and energy on marketing efforts that produce real results in terms of sales. 

For the foreseeable future I will still be collecting data on my monthly sales figures, keeping records of my marketing and promotional efforts and trying to see if there is a connection between the two, positive or negative, in terms of my Amazon sales.

I would love to hear from other self-publishing authors on this topic and would share any useful information that is brought to my attention. Comments can be posted on this blog or e-mail me at

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Free e-copy of 301 Frequently Asked Questions About Self-Publishing

Well, sort of free. If you are interested in obtaining a copy of my latest project prior to publication, 301 Frequently Asked Questions About Self-Publishing Answers to Common Questions About Self-Publishing, Print-on-Demand, Book Marketing, Using CreateSpace and More, please e-mail me at and I will send you a PDF of my latest book for individuals interested in self-publishing.

In return, I would appreciate feedback about the book and its contents. It has not been edited yet and before I go through that process, I want the book to be as close as possible to its final form.

Also, I am in the stage of collecting blurbs to use to market and promote the book. So, if you are willing to write me a blurb for the book, I would appreciate that as well.

This offer is only good for a limited time, ending on April 20th. So, if you would like a copy, contact me before that date.  Thanks!