The following is an interview conducted by BestsellerInterviews.com with John Kremer, author of 1001 Ways to Market Your Books.
Q: You've consulted with hundreds of authors, from best-selling superstars to the aspiring nobody. What's the biggest difference you see between those who make it and those who don't?
A: Persistence and a willingness to do the work themselves rather than try to find someone else to promote their books.
Q: Of all the promotion techniques you list in 1001 Ways to Market Your Books, which one is most important for creating a bestseller? Why?
A: There's not one that's most important. It really depends on the book. For example, for self-help and spiritual titles, speaking is the most important tool for creating a bestseller. Speak at churches, learning programs, garden clubs, chambers of commerce, Friends of the Library, etc.
For novels, reviews and interviews are the most important tools.
For other books, it might be Internet marketing and PR, bookstore appearances, or other events.
Q: Publishers and agents always tout the importance of having a platform. If you're completely unknown, what are some ways you can start building one?
A: The easiest way to build a platform these days is to write a blog that gets attention. But writing such a blog takes time, both in the writing and in the promotion. A second option would be to write a regular column for a well-visited website that already exists. That way you don't have to get involved in the promotional part. Having a regular column at ivillage.com, The Huffington Post, or some similarly well-known and much-visited website can make a huge impact on your visibility.
See a list of such group blogging websites at http://www.bookmarket.com/blogging.htm
Q: How important is it to start a speaking career before you publish your nonfiction book? Is it also important if you're going to publish fiction?
A: Establishing a speaking career before publishing a book is not essential, especially for fiction. But even with nonfiction, you can wait until your book is published before establishing a speaking career. Of course, if you do have a speaking career, you have a great platform for selling the manuscript to a publisher as well as selling books once published.
Q: Is it possible to become a best-selling author without a huge audience, such as the millions of people that read Chicken Soup for the Soul or Harry Potter? Should you go for the masses or a niche?
A: Bestselling books come in both flavors: mass-market interest and niche titles. Of course, you can't become a bestselling author if you write for checkers enthusiasts or some other niche market unless you write in such a way that your book touches a universal nerve. That's why some mountain-climbing books made the bestseller lists a few years ago, because they dealt with tragedies, life-and-death moments that touch us all.
You will never become a bestseller, though, if you focus on trying to find the audience rather than writing about your passion. Bestselling books arise out of the author's passion, not out of calculated attempts to sell books. Look at the bestseller Eats, Shoots and Leaves. Certainly not a normal bestselling topic, but one that grew out of the author's passion, which was then communicated to readers and reviewers.
Q: Is it easier for a book to become a bestseller when it's published with a large company like Random House? Why or why not?
A: It is easier to become a bestseller if you are published by one of the top 10 publishers. They have the distribution muscle to get the book in more stores than you could ever do on your own or even with a smaller publisher. They also have more connections with key media that can make a difference.
If you measure bestseller status by the New York Times, USA Today, or Publishers Weekly bestseller lists, it's easy to see that 90% plus of the titles come from the top 10 publishers. Those stats clearly indicate that the bigger publishers control most of the bestseller spots. But, if the larger publisher isn't committed to your book, then you will have an easier time creating a bestseller by publishing it yourself. But you will have your work cut out for you.
Q: How can an author convince their publisher to spend more money on advertising or publicity? Or is the author completely responsible for both?
A: A publisher should be responsible for most advertising and publicity. The only way an author can convince a publisher to spend more money on either is to get a large advance from them in the first place. If the publisher has committed money to a large advance, then the publisher will generally commit more to publicity and promotion.
Q: Lots of first-time authors believe that writing a bestseller will make you filthy rich. Is this true, and what would you guess the average first-time author receives in advances and royalties?
A: The average first-time author makes about $5 to $10 thousand on a book's royalties and advances. The author of a bestselling book can make from $50 thousand on up to millions. It all depends on the actual number of copies sold, the royalty rates in the contract, and the subsidiary rights sold.
Q: If your book reaches bestseller status, what are some other ways that an author can turn their fame into income? How much money have some authors made?
A: When a book reaches bestseller status, it opens many doors for the author to write additional books, write well-paid magazine articles, do more speaking engagements, consult, coach, etc. In fact, most book authors make more money from outside sources than from book sales.
How much can you make as a bestselling author? Well, Tom Clancy was the first half-billion dollar author. J.K. Rowling is the first author to become a billionaire from writing books (and selling subsidiary rights to movies, etc.). There have been other billionaire authors, but their billions came from other sources. Oprah, Donald Trump, Martha Stewart, etc. have all had a number of bestsellers, but their wealth was generated primarily from other work and investments.
Q: After this interview, I'm hoping lots of authors will go to your website and purchase your products and services. If they're just hearing about you for the first time, what would you recommend they buy first?
A: If they haven't bought my book, 1001 Ways to Market Your Books, they should do that first. Then, at some point, they should either hire me as a consultant or attend one of my Book Marketing Blast-Off Seminars. For specific needs, I also sell reports on distribution, bookstore sales, rights sales, etc. They can find out more about all those reports, databases, audios, etc. at my BookMarket.com website.
Book Marketing 105: Choosing a Book Distribution System - This vital mini-guide includes criteria for deciding how you will distribute your books. Also includes complete information on 30 distributors, 4 library distributors, 89 book publishers who also distribute for other publishers, 3 sales representatives to the chains, 27 bookstore wholesalers, 34 library wholesalers, and 23 Spanish-language wholesalers. Plus a sample book distribution contract. Ebook download, $30.00.
Top 700 Independent Bookstores - This database features 740 stores with address, book buyer, owner, event coordinator, phone, fax, email, website, and more! Cost: $40.00. This data file features an updated list of the largest indie bookstores that work with authors and buy books from indie publishers. The report comes as a data file download (your choice of Microsoft Access, Excel, comma-delimited ascii, tab-delimited ascii, d-Base, or rich text format). The data files do require that you know how to use a database or word-processing program.