As more and more people are self-publishing books, apps, and e-books, they also need to figure out how to sell their work. Apple, Amazon, Smashwords, and others are doing their part to distribute the work, but how does one go about marketing oneself? Well it's not easy. It has to be a consistent, well-planned out plan that has to be done every day, and every hour after your book has been published. I even recommend you pre-market your app at least 60-90 prior to it being published as well.

When I set out to market our first children's book, I spent a month blogging, writing articles, tweeting, telling people on my facebook pages, and sending articles to Digg. I created a movie-trailer for our app using software from Apple and posted photos of some of the drawings. I did notice a substantial increase in traffic the few weeks before the announcement and for around one week on and around the release. I believe the pre-marketing helped. Looking back though, there was and still is so much more I can do. Small publishers usually have small budgets and little time; so what can be done. In addition to the places I mentioned before, here is a partial list of some of the things you can do at little to no expense to you.

1. Go to Kickstarter.com and start a new project to raise money. Kickstarter allows pretty much anyone who has a creative talent and needs to raise funds. I have seen amounts raised from as little as $250 to hundreds of thousands of dollars. One such fellow is Joe Murray, a professional animator that lives in California. He created two very popular cartoons (Rocko's Modern World, and Camp Lazlo). His idea for a project was to raise funds to create three cartoon shorts of his new animation, Frog in a Suit, and to build a web site that showcases independent animators. The idea is to give more creative control to the creators and not the studios. Fox, Cartoon Network, and NICK are three studios that buy properties from their creators. They retain all copyrights and in turn they pay out a royalty or percentage of sales to the creator from what they get. Depending on the licensing contract, this can also include licensing deals like (mugs, teeshirts, stationery). Joe raised more than $20,000 to fund his project. The great thing about Kickstarter is that not only can your friends donate, but so can anyone in the world. In turn, you provide them with gifts for their help. All the info is on their site. It's a win-win for everyone involved because you're raising money, while raising awareness of your company and building a following of fans that are invested in you.

2. Another great idea is to create a group on LinkedIn.com. It's free and you can create one on your craft, or your message and build people who are excited about the same things you are.

3. Meetup.com is another way to get people excited about what you are doing. They do charge a fee, but it can be offset with advertising that you sell.

4. Try writing for Examiner.com, Helium.com, or Yelp.com. These are three social networking sites that have national audiences that will read your articles. The first two will actually pay you but more importantly, they will give you a national voice. I almost got a book deal from a very popular publisher from an article I wrote on Examiner.com

5.Tweet at least 10-15 tweets a day, but don't use the forum for spamming. That's when you send out the same tweet over and over again. Spamming if frowned upon.

6. Set up a page just for your book, imprint, or app on Facebook. Then send out blasts to all your email contacts and encourage people to "Like" your page.

7. Also in Facebook, post your Youtube videos on your site to give your friends and the public ways to see your movie trailers or sample chapters

8. Make a Movie Trailer on Youtube.com. It costs nothing and if you get a lot of hits, you can ask Youtube to monetize your video.

9. Send out composite drawings of your characters and tag you and your friends on them and send them out to your friends and fans.

10. Blog, blog, and blog as much as you can. And then send out your blog in your tweets, on facebook, on linkedin, digg, and examiner. Also don't forget to send tweets to those people and companies that you talked about.

This is a full time job, so until you can hire out an agency to do this for you, try these helpful tips and watch your web site traffic and hopefully your sales sky rocket! If you have additional ideas, please let me know. Every little bit helps!

Thanks for reading! –Nick Nebelsky, www.intensemedia.com


 
 
Our studio has been one person for most of its short life, but that's changed when my wife came on board to do most of the coding. She fell in love with the simplicity of .lua and the great articles and resources from Ansca Mobile the creators of Corona SDK. Although she isn't on board full time, it's great to be able to bounce ideas off of her. She is most definitely the Left-Brained side of the buisiness, but is very creative as well. As I write this, we're testing two really cool features for the next major update to "Hippos Name" which in its third day is selling quite well. On its second day, it topped "Miss Spider's Tea Party" and "Toy Story 2" which I thought was quite impressive. So our original plan was to pump out four books a year. As I was finishing "Hippos Name", I was also writing the script for the next book because our schedule was so tight. My wife realized that I was a bit overwhelmed and thought that we should "ReThink" our plan and devote more time to Marketing the first book, before tackling all of the new issues of the second book. Since Marketing is such a crucial role for any small studio, I agreed. We were originally hoping to get the second book out for Christmas, but we realized we would only have about four weeks to do so. And we'd much rather have a quality product out there than one that was rushed in to meet a deadline. This is fine by me as I actually love the marketing aspect of the process just as much as I enjoy the creative.

And while my wife is busy making "Hippos Name" even better, I can try to get as much exposure for the company as I can. Now let me tell you, this is no easy feat! Your best bet is to have a marketing plan. I have a general plan of tweets, announcements, blog posts, and articles that I need to write. But it also means building a detailed plan for specific marketing objectives with deadlines built in. I probably won't be able to build that plan until next week, since I'm taking a small break this week.

I will tell you though that what I am doing is working. My stats on traffic have increased 1000%. I had somewhat modest figures to start. On an average day without any marketing, I was getting about 25 unique visitors; a real drop in the bucket. I noticed that when I increased my tweeting, blog posts, and such, that those numbers doubled! And each subsequent month, it was increasing by 20-25% across the board. This month is entirely different. My numbers for the month to date, is now three quarters of what last month were. My goal for hits was 8,000 for the month; still very modest. I should see closer to 12,000. And I'm now averaging 200-250 visitors a day! Why is the reason for the uptick in traffic, you ask? Well for one thing, any time I introduce a new app, my traffic always spikes. But it's different this time. It's very probable that September and October will equal Jan-Aug for traffic. And there's good reason for it, I'm working even harder to make sure that people see us. I'll talk more about that in my marketing plan that I'll release in November.  I'd love to hear from you with a comment if I'm on the right track. It will help me to deliver better content. Thanks for reading! –Nick
 
 
It has been almost a week since I heard of Steve Jobs' death, and I still get choked up. I know that there is more than one brilliant person at Apple and that Apple will be fine without him. But when I think of the driving force behind a team of great people suddenly disappearing, it's sad to think of the possibilities. Apple has always brought us great products and I'm confident there will be more coming down the pipeline, in fact, I can't wait. R.I.P. Steve!
 
 
 
 
If you're like me and love to create, then you'll love the present. It's a great time to be alive! I was fortunate in that I have this creative talent that has been unlocked! I love what I do and couldn't be happier knowing that God has given me the talents, and Apple has given me the tools to help me succeed! I just celebrated my first year wedding anniversary, and Apple has given me a gift that I'll never forget; the permission to sell my new app, Hippos Name in the App Store! This is only the beginning, but it's the start of something big. I've already started the wheels turning on the second book and have a mile long list of things I need to do for the first one. But this is where the fun continues. I get to tell people about how much fun it was to create this app. How I started with an idea almost 18 years ago telling stories to my niece and nephew and taking those characters today and weilding them into something more than words in the air. It was my nephew who at age 18 told me to take those characters that I created and make them real. Draw them out. Give them names and personalities and traits. That was eight years ago. And I did do that that three years ago, but it never came off the ground. I had trademarks, logos, a web site. But it just wasn't there still. So I changed the name of the collection, kept the original names, and changed the focus. It's now turned into something wonderful and I'm very proud of it. I'd love to one day be able to hire my nephew and write books together, but I'll have to sell a lot of apps to do that. In the meantime, I hope you will join with me in celebrating this great feat. In the next few days, I'll post some of my original pencil drawings and how the characters have matured over the course of three years.
 
 
How can one man make a difference? Just read the headlines of one of the most prolific men in our century. Some called him a brilliant marketer! Others called him one of the greatest inventors of our time and that he should be mentioned along side with Einstein and Edison! I merely knew him as someone whom changed my life. I remember seeing my first Mac in 1984. My coworker and roommate bought one and brought it to the office at a local Time Warner Cable branch where we worked. 

Fresh out of college, I created parodies at college even before the "Onion" was around. From 1980-1984, we cut and pasted from copy machines. The desktop publishing revolution happened in the mid-to-late 80s. I graduated in 1984. The Apple Macintosh was this little beige, box with a mouse. All I remember is how fascinated I was with the prospect that not only could I change the text or font from Courier to Palatino, but that I was learning about page layout, typography, and design. These were things that were not taught in college. And even if they were, they couldn't have accomplished what I learned in those fleeting moments sitting in front of a Macintosh, this game-changer. I like many of my college graduates wasn't sure what direction my life would take. Here I was, a promising business graduate from the largest university in New York State and I had no direction. Steve Jobs helped change that. Getting my hands on the Mac as much as I could was not only my mantra but a hunger. I quit that job, went back to school to learn more about this crazy machine called the Macintosh. From that point on, I worked at jobs that had large Macintosh installations. I worked for the first magazine to incorporate the Macintosh in 100% of the production, design, and editorial of the magazine (American Demographics magazine). I later went on to work at an Apple Retail store where I took classes from Apple on how to sell more Macs and educate the consumer. I founded two greeting card companies (NickCards and Fishlip Greetings) where I created my work on a Macintosh. The latter is where I was awarded a Finalist award for the LOUIE awards. It's the most prestigious awards given out to greeting card writers and illustrators. I later became a graphic designer with an award-winning, advertising agency in New York State where we worked on Macintoshes. And now here I am more than twenty-seven years later, an Apple Developer, Apple stockholder, and Apple owner of some of the most amazing technology that was ever designed. And behind every design, and every conceptual idea, Steve Jobs was there helping me along the way. Providing me with the tools to succeed. I followed his every step. I have all the magazine covers, have attended numerous Mac conventions. I followed him at NeXt and Pixar.

Steve Jobs is personally responsible for my successes and helping my dreams become reality. He has taught me that you can dream and do whatever your heart desires. Just believe in yourself and go do it! And for this, I will miss you. Thank you for your contributions to my life and those around me. You are an inspiration, and I'm thankful I got to know you.


 
 
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Some cool facts that book publishers should be made aware of is that there are now 250 million iPads out in the world now. It used to be that you wanted to stretch your reach, you would need to publish on the iPhone to reach the 400 million iPhone users and only 50 million iPad users. But now that we're reaching more and more iPad users, our content won't be compromised. That's great news for us as we try to create experiences only on the iPad that would simply be futile on the smaller screens of the iPhones and iTouches.

The other thing that is very exciting is that Apple has reported that there are now 1,000 schools participating in a program to award one iPad per child  in their schools. So if we continue to provide great content aimed at children, we'll have even more eyeballs directed at our products.

Some other news in the news is Adobe. Back before the Flash debacle between Adobe and Apple, Adobe was creating apps using their software. And then Apple lowered the iron fist on third party software developers and told them only xcode would be allowed to make apps. Well the reigns have loosened and now you'll see more and more companies that are building software frameworks that sit on top of xcode. One of which is a new software title called, Adobe Digital Publishing Suite. Create single, custom iPad applications for a one-time payment of just $395. Leading publishers and companies are already using Adobe® Digital Publishing Suite to deliver their next generation content—and soon freelancer designers and small design studios can too. Starting next month, create dynamic reading experiences, attract new audiences, and broaden your business capabilities. With new Digital Publishing Suite, Single Edition, you can use the classical design qualities of print, add interactivity, and draw on your imagination to develop engaging content for the iPad—all within the Adobe InDesign® CS5.5 software you already know and love. More to come when we hear more about this.

If you don't know by now, we use Corona SDK to build our apps. The first one, My Basketball Stats was built directly in xcode using Objective-C. The last one, "Opening Rome" and the new one, yet to be released, "Hippos Name" was built using a combination of "Kwik" extension for Photoshop and Corona SDK. Both work very well together. Corona gives us the flexibility to create special effects for our app that would have taken months to figure out in Xcode alone. Granted this process isn't entirely easy. We've had some hiccups along the way we hope to resolve soon, so that you can see our great new book, "Hippos Name!"

All in all, it's an exciting time for all of us involved in technology and publishing. We're off to a great start in 2011, and 2012 promises to be even better! Keep coming back for more info. Enjoy!

 
 
We're in our second week of waiting for approval on our app. The second go-around is even more excruciating than the first one. Usually Apple takes about a week before you hear whether or not you'll be approved or not. For us, it takes six days and then on the seventh day it goes from "Waiting for Review" to "In Review" to "Ready for Sale" or "Rejection" all on the seventh day. This go-around, we've been rejected for a strange error called SIGABRT. It's extremely frustrating because Apple said the app crashed a number of times and we never had problems when we were testing it. Now that we think we fixed the issue, we won't know until day 14 at Apple.

So what are we doing while waiting? Luckily, I padded our release date to "early October" in most of marketing information. I've used this time to market our professionally-looking, new trailer on youtube and on our web site and have been pleasantly pleased with the traffic. The only criticism I've gotten is that my voice isn't on it. I'm also putting together our ebook using the original .psd files from the artwork. It's a little time-consuming because there were so many changes to the original files that I have to recreate them. This is our first ebook so I'm not as confident. We're also using MyPublisher.com to create some printed versions of the book. I need to get an ISBN number if I want to sell it on Amazon. Add that to my list. I've looked into a couple of different sites that help you produce an online ebook. Two of which I talk about on here. I've done some homework, so you don't have to.

BookBaby.com
They're affiliated with CDBaby.com.

redistribute your ebook to the top four selling sites
(Amazon.com's Kindle, Barnes and Noble's Nook, Sony's eReader, and Apple's iBookstore).
$99
you take 100% of the royalties AFTER each publisher takes their cut.
charge you $19 per year for each year the book is for sale.
charge you $19 for your ISBN number and have a series of extras from design to file conversion (basic file conversion is included).
They also charge you $2 per image after ten images which excluded us from using them since we are a picture book publisher.

Smashwords:
  • 85% net back to the author/publisher/agent
  • Distribution to Apple, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, Diesel, others
  • FREE ISBNs
  • FREE ebook conversion to nine formats
  • FREE unlimited updates to book and metadata
  • FREE exclusive marketing and selling tools such as our Smashwords Coupon Manager!
We decided to go direct. We're going to go right to the source and bypass the middle man. Both Amazon and Barnes and Noble charges nothing but you have to have your ducks in a row. Make sure you have your ISBN number. www.bowker.com for more info on that. Also make sure that you have an epub file. Adobe Indesign will save to epub. I'll let you know more how the process unfolds as it happens. Enjoy!

On Tuesday, I'll go over some of the awards and contests that are available to you!

 

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