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What's Your Biggest Challenge with Your Book?

I'd be interested to learn what authors/publishers on this network think their biggest challenges are with their book. I wonder if there's any common, pervasive challenge we all face.

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Hi Alberta,

Bill has some great advice. For any topic there are probably dozens or hundreds of websites that already exist that can help you reach exactly the type of audience that would be interested in your book.

But to be honest, that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

I’ve been involved in the book marketing field for 15 years, and the Internet marketing world for the past five, and I can honestly say there has NEVER been a better time for authors to build a platform and a loyal following online. The opportunities are endless.

To make it happen, all you have to do is start thinking less like a book marketer and more like an Internet marketer. Here’s just one example of what I mean...

I took a look at your website to get a feel for your book and came away with a bunch of ideas for how you could potentially promote it online the way an Internet marketer would.

What we do when promoting anything online is to first break down what the book is about at a KEYWORD level. Then we can attack each of those keywords and start getting visitors and attention for each of them one at a time.

For example, while the grand theme (or at least one of them) of your book may be spiritual revival or awakening, what are some other topics you cover that people might be interested in? World War II, the Battle of the Bulge, coping with cancer, being a caregiver, how war affects family relationships, how war affects soldiers when they return home (timely now with Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.), the truth about sightings of the Virgin Mary, and so on.

This is just an example and it might be a stretch, but if you felt passionate about it you could even talk about the role of faith in politics, how it will affect this year’s U.S. presidential race, etc. (Again, it’s a little removed from your book, but it’s quite timely and there IS a connection there.) Maybe this will spark some other ideas for you.

Once you start drilling down and thinking of all the possible “hooks” or connections, I think you’ll be stunned at what you discover about your own book. You’ll most likely find things that you never noticed before.

Now, the next step is to start finding places where you would be able to get in front of people who are searching for those types of things online. It may only be a handful of people a day, but you have to think of it like you’re filling a lake. If you have only one stream that’s feeding it, the lake will be quite small. But if you have 10, 15 or 20 streams all pouring a little trickle of water into that lake, eventually you’re talking about a lot of traffic and a lot of people being exposed to your book (and a pretty big lake!).

There’s a very methodical way to do this. It isn’t hard once you know how, and once you start to shift your mindset just a little bit. This is the exact way to build a successful business online, and these methods translate perfectly when you’re trying to get publicity for your book. In fact, it’s even easier!

Anyway, I could write forever on this topic :) But I hope this little bit helps...

If you’d like to discuss it further, you can drop me a line here or send an email to chris at therichauthor dot com. I also just set up a network a couple days ago right here on Ning where I’ve posted a video and written a short guide that expands on the points above. It might be useful to you. You can download it at

Let me know if there’s anything else I can do.

Hello, I am Amanda Harrison, trying to Help my poor Hugh, get out into the open market for the very first time. He has wriiten his first childrens book, called the Adventures of Rufus the red.£4.99 plus 70p postage first class or 60 p second class. But it not easy for a New Author and also self pblishing never again. Regards AmandaHarrison
Hi, Amanda. Welcome to the forum. One of the first questions to ask about THE ADVENTURES OF RUFUS THE RED is what are your margins? If you're selling the book for £4.99, how much does it cost to produce each book? Knowing the margins will determine how much money you have available to market it. (The more money to market, the better). Also, what low-cost steps are you taking now to market and promote the book? I noticed that you have some press coverage (based on your picture with the newspaper headline). What else are you doing?
someone just e mailed me that my link had a typo
the correct link is
also try and


Morgan James Publishing
My biggest challenge with my book "Listen to Me - Whispers in the Dark" is marketing it to a niche venue.
It is about a pervasive American issue ....'At-Risk' kids, but it seems only teachers and social workers want to read it. I feel parents and grandparents whould to ,but!!!!!!!!?????????????
Hi Pam,

I took a look at your site and came away with a few impressions...

(Some of these may sound harsh, but they're delivered with the absolute BEST of intentions.)

1 - If I just skimmed the site, I couldn't really tell what the book is about.

What's the headline here? "Lessons about life taught to me by children" doesn't really explain why I have to read this book. What children? Your children? What lessons? What did you learn? Is the social services system broken? Why? What are some of the most outrageous things these kids are going through? Tell me something specific I didn't know, which gets to point #2...

2 - Even after reading the material there more thoroughly, there was never a case made for why I should care except maybe in a broad sense. No one likes to see kids suffer, of course, but as the father of a 5 1/2 year old girl and a 1 1/2 year old boy, neither of whom I consider "at risk," what's "in it for me?" What's the shocking story that makes me say "This can't be!!"?

Maybe I'm selfish, but I'm trying to figure out how to get my son to eat something other than pizza and meatloaf (the ONLY two things he'll eat at the moment). If I'm looking at a book on getting picky eaters to try new things vs one on how to save at-risk kids, I'm going to go with the former. Tell me why that would be a mistake -- or better yet, why I should buy both books. Why does EVERY parent need to read this book? Do I not realize how much my kids are trying to say to me? Am I being a bad parent? A bad citizen?

3 - What are the bullet points? Again, what did you learn?

From your website's copy, you say:

"You will not be able to put this book down! It will touch your soul....pierce your heart... and leave you asking what can I do about these kids?"

Don't tell me that, demonstrate it. Which gets to...

4 - Tell some stories.

In their fantastic book "Made to Stick," Chip and Dan Heath demonstrate why a well-told story wins out in the marketing world every time.

Sum up three or four of the most compelling stories from the book -- ones that "touch my soul" and "pierce my heart" -- and let me experience that for myself.

That's a quick summary of my thoughts. You can also reach me on Skype or via iChat (if you're on a Mac). Send me an email at if you'd like to set something up.

Chris Simeral
Just read your comments, and they were constructive...I am grateful when people speak the truth, that is what my book does,also.
Your children might not be at risk, from what you say, but over 80% of the kids in America are!
At-risk of being abused - abandoned - failing school - getting pregnant - becoming addicted - witnessing violence and not recovering from the trauma - neglected and not getting fed - no health insurance - parents who work all the time leaving them latch-key kids...and so on. The book is full of their stories as told to me . Children caught in our social service system which is failing daily....children falling through the cracks because we have an antiquated foster care and adoption system...children who are lost because child protective services in under funded - over worked with reports and paper work and many workers just barely older than lots of the kids they try to service.
Is this what I need to say??

Hi Pam,

The seeds of some great stuff are in your reply! Now we're on to something!

So, even if I see this bucolic family life, there might be this undercurrent of potential problems just waiting to bubble to the surface? See, now I'm starting to care.

Could you write articles on things like...

* Is Your Job Making Your Kids Miserable? (latch-key problem)

* Shocking Secrets Your Daughter Will Never Tell You About Her Sex Life...but that every parent NEEDS to know (unplanned pregnancy issue)

* 80% of America's Children Are at Risk! Is Your Teen Hiding a Secret Addiction? (the addiction issue, obviously)

* 5 ways to help your child succeed in school that take less than 15 minutes a day (the failing school problem)

If so, these are the kinds of things you could be writing/talking about to get exposure from the press and, perhaps even more importantly, online. Sprinkle in STORIES from the book that demonstrate and give a face to the problem -- Jane's parents never thought it could happen to them, but when she announced at the dinner table that she was pregnant...

You get the idea. That's kind of beating people over the head with a club, but with the tact I'm sure you could bring to it it could be very effective.

You could build an ENORMOUS following among parents online by talking about things like this.

Take a look at the report on my blog (just set up late last week) at It should give you more ideas.
I think for any author, locating their target audience is a challenge. (And sadly so many do not even have a specific target audience!)
I faced my biggest challenge with my first book as I battled the stigma that POD books are not returnable. Now, four books later, I rarely get that objection from a book store and have done 250 signings in less than four years.
"Challenge" was the best word to select, Bill! Obstacles tend to stop people, but a challenge implies success!
I have a big question. My small publisher has gone thru lightning source (imprint pf ingrams) to print and distribiute my book. they have the book listed as a POD and prepay. (I wasn't asked about this.) so now the stores like B&N and Borders have it available in their databases and people can come in an order it in the stores and online but they can't/won't put it on the shelves or have signings until this gets changed. because your an author and not a publisher, they won't talk with you. i've been fighting with my small publisher who says that they are full of it and there should be no problems. (he has assured me that lightning source has told them this) this isn't from one store but TWELVE branches. anyone have any ideas on getting it in view for lpeople to buy?
hello, I am hwlping My Hubby Hugh, sell his first ever childrens book here in the uk. We went self publsihing, Not easy at the moment. Luckily Hugh is not tied into the contract as we had a small print run. But its not easy selling this book. I could really shout like anything at people but I guess people are watching their pennie they spend. Regards AmandaHarrison
Most digitally printed books (POD) are non-returnable. Most of the subsidy presses use POD printers and they are rarely returnable either. (I only know of one that is!)
However, books printed by Lightning Source ARE returnable if you ask that they be - which means the publisher has to make that request. There is a charge per returned book, though.
The key is, it must state in the Books in Print database "This title is returnable through Ingram" or something to that effect. Otherwise all of the chain stores will tell you the same thing - cannot order books because they are not returnable.


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