Make It a Happy New Year: Tactics for Thriving in 2009
by Bob Baker
I’m one of the more optimistic people you are likely to meet, and even I get fearful at times about the current state of the U.S. and world economy. It’s enough to make anyone—especially authors and publishers—nervous about their immediate and long-term future.
But being aware of financial markets and consumer confidence does not equal being immobilized by them.
If you’re a serious publisher, this is not the time to run for cover and hibernate. In fact, you should be doing just the opposite: be proactive to ensure your cash flow and security.
Eight Moves to Make
Step up your promotion efforts. That’s right. Instead of retreating in fear, get more active. And don’t use the “I don’t have money to spend on marketing” excuse. There are hundreds of ways to spread the word that don’t cost a dime. (Hint—and see below: There’s this thing called the Internet that can always be used more effectively.)
Stay in touch with your clients, booking agents, and organizations. If you depend partly on revenue from speaking and consulting. Sure, some companies are cutting back on speakers and consulting expenses. But when they are ready to hire someone, make certain you are top of mind.
Communicate with your readers and fans even more. If you have a decent mailing list, use it. If you don’t, why don’t you? A large mailing list of hungry fans is a great asset for any self-publisher. So start building one—or put a higher priority on building the one you already have.
Realize that people need good books in good times and bad—especially bad. View yourself as the provider of a valuable, much-needed resource. Because that’s what you are.
Leverage your content and body of work. Do you have audio or video recordings of your live workshops that you’ve never sold before? What about handouts from classes you’ve given that can be turned into an information product? Can some of your best blog posts be turned into a new book? Can your most popular book be transformed into a multiweek telecourse? Brainstorm ways you can turn what you already have into new revenue streams.
Pursue media coverage of all kinds. It’s free exposure. And you don’t need a fancy press kit to get it. All you need is a good idea that keeps the needs of the journalist, blogger, podcaster, or radio show host in mind. Then you need to contact them and, most important, tenaciously follow up.
Write—and/or urge your authors to write—articles, blog posts, and op-ed pieces about the economy. They can be funny, serious, encouraging, educational—whatever suits your style. The news is giving so much attention to the “crisis,” people are yearning for a fresh spin on the topic.
Make smart use of the Internet. Has your Web site been updated lately? Haven’t published a new blog post since May? Are you making the most of MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, and so forth? If not, get busy!
If You’ve Lost, or Are About to Lose, a Day Job
My heart goes out to you. But this could be a blessing in disguise. Based on the experiences of my circle of friends and business associates, most people who get laid off are happier with where they end up six months to a year later (if not a lot sooner). Being forced to shift gears opens us up to new possibilities we would not have explored otherwise.
Take any or all of the eight steps above, for starters. Then try some additional tactics.
For instance, this could be an opportunity to finally pour some energy into that book idea you’ve been suppressing for years. Use this time to explore your creativity and see where it takes you. Start writing that novel you’ve had on the back burner. Go to that open-mike poetry slam you’ve been too scared to attend. Create an energizing new talk you can present to local organizations, because . . . well, now you can.
Also think about creating alternate sources of book-related income. Instead of looking for another day gig in a cubicle, consider what you can do on your own to earn money. Can you edit? Teach writing classes at a local college? Do Web design or create graphics? Could you create an account at Elance.com and offer to do some virtual-assistant work part-time? Heck, you might make enough and not have to find another day job.
The Bottom Line for a Challenging Time
Don’t become a victim of the real or imagined economic woes so many people are fearing today.
Instead, embrace the philosophy behind this quote from George Bernard Shaw:
People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.
Be strong. Create opportunities for yourself, regardless of what the headlines say. And have fun doing it.
Bob Baker is the author of Self-Publishing Success Secrets: How to Create a Major Book Buzz Online and Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook. He is a full-time author, past president of the St. Louis Publishers Association, and a regular presenter at Publishing University. You can download a free copy of his “Self-Publishing Confidential” report at FullTimeAuthor.com. He can be reached at 314/963-5296; or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.