This month’s Featured Author interview is with Brian Jud, an incredibly resourceful author who is extremely active in the publishing world. As an industry expert, he conducts monthly Book Marketing 201® webinars for the Association of Publishers for Special Sales, an organization that he is the Executive Director of, as well as conducting the Book Marketing Monthly® webinars for CreateSpace. He also is co-owner of the Premium Book Company and owner of Book Marketing Works.
Suffice it to say, Brian eats, sleeps and breathes publishing and book marketing. I have often been amazed when in conversation with him at how his mind works, and all of the valuable insights and resources he has at his disposal.
I had the pleasure of meeting Brian in a social setting a couple of years ago, where we enjoyed talking about books, writing and the publishing industry in general. At that time, he was still very active in an organization that he’d started, the Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association. As a newbie in the midst of writing my first book, I aspired to be at that level someday and Brian was gracious with his knowledge and advice.
That’s no less true today. Brian regularly speaks at writers’ conferences and other industry events, as well as providing consulting services, and focusing his efforts on more lucrative and “out of the box” sales activities related to book marketing and promotion.
We reconnected this summer at The Business of Writing International Summit, and had a great time picking one another’s brains.
In this interview, he shares a bit about how he got his start as an author, and some of the techniques that have worked well for him in marketing his books.
Tara: What motivated you to write a book?
Brian: After being laid off from my job in Corporate America, I sought a new career. With twin sons about to graduate college, I began by compiling notes to help them get a job. It worked, so I turned my notes into the book Job Search 101 and began a new career. Note that I didn’t intend to simply write a book, but start a business as a multi-title author.
Tara: What publishing options did you consider?
Brian: After being turned down by several publishers, I self-published my first book. I was the general contractor and hired sub-contractors in the form of an editor, cover designer, page-layout artist and printer.
Tara: Why did you settle on the option you chose?
Brian: My decision to self-publish occurred before digital printing and print-on-demand publishing existed. I ran the numbers to see if it was a viable alternative and, being an optimistic author, I made the numbers work. I also had more control over the production, distribution, pricing and promotion processes.
Although there were significant costs up-front, the residual revenue was much greater, making it an attractive choice.
Tara: How easy was it to get your book done?
Brian: My first book took about a year to write, and it was fairly easy to accomplish since I had completed the foundation for it in the notes and articles I had written previously. After being laid-off, I did some consulting work for income, so time management was the most difficult part. I did a lot of reading (especially Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual) about how to produce a quality book, find designers, hire printers and arrange distribution. My 20 years in corporate marketing helped me in many ways, too.
Tara: How did you distribute the book after publication?
Brian: I sought bookstore distribution right from the beginning. I evaluated the distribution partners available at the time and chose one with which to work. We hit it off very well right from the start. I had a solid marketing plan, including heavy promotion and distribution support.
Tara: How are you marketing and promoting your book?
Brian: I quickly learned that bookstores are not the best place through which to sell books. So I sought niche markets, such as colleges, state governments and others who could use my content. My latest book (How to Make Real Money Selling Books) helps publishers do the same thing. So I market to publishers through personal presentations, direct marketing and webinars. I also use my book as a business card and brochure to solicit speaking engagements and consulting opportunities.
Tara: What’s working best for you to generate sales? Are there things you’d recommend avoiding?
Brian: I find direct selling to buyers in non-retail market niches as the best way to generate large-quantity, non-returnable, profitable sales. I recommend avoiding reliance on sales through bookstores (bricks and clicks) and non-bookstore retailers since these sales require a distribution network and the subsequent fees, and all sales are returnable.
Tara: Which social network do you use the most and why?
Brian: I use Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter, but I prefer Linkedin. The people posting there seem to be more business-oriented (rather than just selling books), and the content of the information posted is more useful with less social and personal information. I tend to follow the advice of “Tell me quick and tell me true or else, my friend, the heck with you.”
Want to learn how to put your best foot forward on LinkedIn? Check out my “Creating an Awesome Profile” course on Udemy!
Take your profile from ho-hum to AWESOME!!
Tara: If you had one piece of advice for someone thinking about writing a book, what would it be?
Brian: Have reasonable expectations about the quantity and cost of actions necessary to succeed, as well as the time necessary to become successful. There were over 300,000 new ISBNs assigned last year and your book competes with them for shelf space, media time and share of wallet.
Run the numbers to determine how many books you have to sell to be profitable and what you will have to do to make that happen. Are you willing to invest the time and money to do all that is necessary to reach your goals? If you have limitations in money, time or skills, then reassess your outlook or hire people to do work for you.
Understand that this is a very competitive business and it will take time to build the reputation and following necessary to succeed. Help the process unfold over time by planning how you will manipulate the 4 Ps of marketing: Product (printed book or ebooks?), Place (distribution to retail and non-retail buyers), Price and Promotion (publicity, advertising, sales promotion and personal selling) – both online and offline.
Want to learn more from Brian? Here’s a great interview he gave on The Lisa Saunders Show on How to Make Real Money Selling Books.
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