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Different ISBNs are required for different disk formats, so if you publish on floppies and on CD-ROM, make sure to give each its own number from the list allocated to you as a publisher. When packaging several components, such as a book with disks, one ISBN number covers everything in the package. For example, this book, which includes a disk, has only one ISBN because the disk is not available separately. However, if you have a print version and a disk available separately, each requires an ISBN.
Software publishers do not give new ISBNs to new versions of their programs because these revisions and enhancements usually make the previous version of the program obsolete and not readily available to purchase. However, you need to think carefully about a new issue of an electronic publication to assess whether it ranks as a revised edition of a book and justifies a new ISBN.
If you are really serious about marketing your work through trade channels, you will probably also want to use the ISBN/BOOKLAND EAN barcode, which enables your ISBN to be printed in a worldwide compatible barcode format. Although you can generate barcodes from a laser printer, you might find it more cost-effective to get a barcode master film from one of the suppliers on the list that Bowker will provide with your ISBN allocations.
Even if you do not plan to sell to libraries or through the book trade, still consider getting an ISBN. It might enhance the credibility of your work to the particularly important marketing medium considered next: the journalists who might write about your book, or review it.
Editorial publicity, contrary to what many do-it-yourself marketing books tell you, is not free. It requires an investment of time and money, both of which are expensive. If you are prepared to use your own time, the actual cash outlay can be very modest and limited mainly to creating and mailing hardcopy and on-disk information to carefully selected media people.
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As a former public-relations consultant to several major companies, you might expect me to suggest that you get professional help from the experts. Not so, unless it is very important to use someone with the right media contacts. If you are able to create an electronic publication that merits attention by the media, then you are probably the best-qualified person to create the editorial material to promote it. Thousands of press releases from PR professionals all over the world have crossed my desk, and I can tell you that it's not difficult to do as well, or better, than most of them.
For a start, most media releases are boring. They lack human interest and genuine news angles. Presumably, to write a book you feel some enthusiasm about the subject, perhaps even a passion. If you're passionate about your book, so much the better. Try in your publicity to communicate that passion to the media, and give journalists topical news angles and human-interest stories about you, your book, or the subjects covered in it.
Don't expect journalists plowing through piles of PR mail every day to see the stories unless you hit them right between the eyes with attention-grabbing illustrations and strong informative first paragraphs. Customize your approach to the special interests of the targeted journalists and their publications. For example, your electronic book on model railways featuring long-forgotten sounds of steam engines as audio clips has one angle for the popular, general-interest media, and probably something quite different for the magazines catering to model railway enthusiasts.
Don't hesitate to back up your printed media release with a copy of it on a floppy packed with other relevant information, including a complete review copy of your title, if that is possible. Get a jump on others who haven't woken up to the fact that almost every journalist now writes on a computer and so is receptive to well-compiled promotional material on disk. Journalists appreciate being able to search efficiently through text files, and abstract quotes, excerpts, and illustrations without needing to retype the text or make time-consuming telephone calls.
Don't expect the New York Times to carry word-for-word the story you submit about your work, but there are hundreds of other
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publications that might do so with minimum editing if you present it to them in universal forms such as ASCII and RTF that they can dump straight into their electronic editing systems. Some of those smaller publications might actually be more effective in reaching your target markets than the big guns.
A well-planned mail shot of promotional material and review copies to the media might be all you need to do to kick-start the direct selling of your electronic publication. This will only work, though, if you have a really hot title or can provide unique information that will appeal to the specific target markets covered by the publications in which you seek exposure, whose readers have a definite "need to know" what you are offering.
For example, if you have compiled on-disk the most comprehensive and up-to-date information on stamp forgeries and counterfeits, editorial publicity about your product in Linn's Stamp News and a few other specialist philatelic publications would reach a large proportion of your target market very cost-effectively. To get such editorial coverage, however, you must prepare an effective media release.
Keep your media releases tight and written in the editorial style of the publication(s) or broadcasting organizations in which you hope to get them used. Double-space them on one side of standard, white, letter-size bond paper, with your name, address, and telephone number prominently at the top, as well as at the foot of the last page, if there is more than one.
The ideal release is a single page answering the basic how, where, what, when, and why questions that comprise a publishable story, then describe your book and why it is worthy of editorial mention. There is a myth perpetuated in marketing and publicity courses that journalists will only read one page of anything that lands on their desks. Don't confine yourself to a single page if your message is strong, and particularly if you are pitching to feature editors who are more likely to run longer stories than in the news pages.
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An effective compromise to overcome the printing and mailing costs of long releases is to have such a strong message on one or two pages that you get the journalist to explore the full-text version on disk. Start with a heading in uppercase that is crisp, descriptive, and eye-catching. Make your first paragraph topical, hard-hitting, and appropriate to the publication. Make your second paragraph informative and comprehensive. If possible, try to achieve your publicity objectives in those first two paragraphs, so that you get your point across if that is all that the newspaper or magazine uses.
Try to construct your release in the traditional inverted pyramid structure, with the strong essential details at the top, and the less important information below. Then the editor (or the compositor, at the stage when stories are being patched into page layouts) can more easily cut the story to fit the available space by trimming complete sentences or paragraphs from the bottom.
Again, don't forget to include or offer to supply a longer, more comprehensive text on disk so that the editorial staff can download it into their electronic editing systems without retyping. In some publications with low budgets and few staff, such a labor-saving offer could get you far more space. It is always worthwhile putting the full text of your media release in a separate file (or directory, if necessary) on the disk containing your electronic publication. Draw the editors' attention to it in a covering letter or note on the summarized hardcopy of the release, and include simple instructions on how to access it on the disk label, also.
In the text of your release, don't try to sell too hard. Write a feature or news piece about the subject matter contained in your book, in which you quote the book or yourself as the author so that you discreetly bring in the publisher's name, price, and address or telephone number as the source.
You might be tempted, particularly when doing a large mailing, to be stingy in providing journalists with free review copies. Or you might compromise by including a postcard (preferably postage-paid) to make
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it easier for them to request a review copy. Such measures can be a false economy in times when journalists are spoon-fed by publishers seeking publicity, and when disks--even CD-ROMs--are so cheap.
Unless your release is very strong, you will get a very low return rate of requests for review copies. If you have chosen your media mailing list carefully, try to make the small additional outlay required to deliver the review copy at the same time as you pitch the editorial story. The ease with which you can provide books for review compared to the costs incurred by print publishers gives you an edge that you should exploit.
However good your release, it won't get published unless you deliver it to the right person at the right place. To achieve that, you need reliable and up-to-date mailing lists. The Writer's Market directory is one familiar to most writers, and likely to be on your desk already. It is full of useful contacts and tips, but is not a comprehensive listing. To track down publications that are more obscure but still important, go to the library and examine the listings in such directories as the Literary Marketplace and those covering organizations likely to have newsletters. There might well be an industry, trade, or volunteer group with thousands of members interested in your subject, who you can reach at virtually no cost through the organization's journal.
Another source of lists for electronic publishers seeking publicity is International Features, the organization that publishes the Bates Directories of different media, as well as listings of public libraries throughout the U.S. The shareware version of the Bates Directory of U.S. Daily Newspapers provides information about all of the 1,600 daily newspapers in print in the U.S. When you register, you get the latest version, plus worthwhile editing and mail-merge features that make the $45 fee a bargain--you could spend more renting an inferior list for just one-time use.
Note that this list does not include names and titles. You can add these, as necessary. If you are doing a large mailing to the media, you might prefer to rent a list that includes, for example, the name
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and official title of the editorial staffer or freelancer responsible for book reviews or the computer column. However, while newspapers rarely move addresses, I have found that many media lists that give names and titles become outdated so quickly that they can be expensively wasteful. Journalists change jobs more often than almost any other occupation, so use the telephone numbers in the Bates directories to call a carefully selected list of prime review prospects, and find out the names of the members of the editorial team to whom you should address your media release and review copy.
For larger mailings where making many telephone calls is not practical, customize the listing to produce address labels by editorial title alone. Although media offices get swamped by mail, most are fairly efficient at skimming through everything to sort out what might potentially be important, so letters addressed to, say, "The Drama Critic" should at least reach the correct desk and be opened.
Depending on the nature of your electronic publication, there are other Bates media directories that might be useful for you. The Bates Directory of Selected Weekly Newspapers lists 2,000 weeklies in the U.S. with circulations over 5,000. If you have a product of specific interest to the business community, then $10 is a remarkably cheap way to get the Bates listing of over 100 city and regional business journals.
If your product lends itself to radio or television coverage, then get the Bates Directory of Selected TV and Radio Stations for $35. I know from my own experience how radio phone-in chat shows can generate sales if listeners have an immediate way of making a purchase. Offer radio contacts the opportunity to do live interviews and phone-in shows, and be ready to respond immediately in filling telephoned orders.
Coordinating fulfillment with publicity is often difficult with conventional publishing. I once did an hour-long syndicated radio show that got tremendous listener response, but my publisher, which set up the publicity opportunity, did not have my book available in stores at the time the show aired. Many other writers have had similar frustrating experiences. If you are self-publishing an electronic book,
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you should be able to give a telephone number over the air at which orders can be taken, and arrange for copies to be duplicated and shipped immediately to meet the demand.
Consider also the Bates Media Hitlist, which zeroes in on over 300 of the leading news organizations in radio, television, and print. For $45, it provides contact addresses for television talk shows and the radio and television syndicates. However, it is only worth chasing such media if you have a really hot product on a subject that is genuinely newsworthy. The competition to get the attention of the media on the hit list is very intense, and often important, serious subjects are of no interest at all to the mass-market television shows. Don't try to get Oprah Winfrey's attention with a learned work on archaeology, but you might well score if you have profiled transvestites as an underprivileged minority.
Likewise, if your title is very specialized, the mass-market media are probably of little interest to you. You might not generate as good a response from publicity reaching millions of viewers of a top television talk show as you would get from a carefully targeted effort reaching only a few thousand people.
Don't worry too much about negative comments in reviews. Use valid criticisms to try to improve your product, but almost any exposure will help the marketing effort. Dr. Samuel Johnson's message to fellow authors was, "Sir, if they cease to talk of me, I must starve." The famous lexicographer frankly admitted, "I would rather be attacked than unnoticed, for the worst thing you can do to an author is to be silent as to his works."
If you want to mail to libraries, a good starting point is the Bates Directory of U.S. Public Libraries, which has 9,000 listings and the ability to generate mailing labels for all, or a selection, of them. There are directories also for colleges, universities, trade and technical schools, and public high schools.
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For more information on the Bates directories, contact
International Features P.O. Box 1349 Lake Worth, FL 33460 ph: 407-582-8320In Australia, the contact is
Southern Media Services P.O. Box 529 Kiama, NSW 2533 ph: 042-331-773
Local or national television shopping channels have proven excellent vehicles for hardcopy book marketing, particularly for self-help, lifestyle nonfiction, and children's books. Sales of 10,000 copies an hour have been achieved, and authors who have appeared on television to promote their books generally seem to have found it a worthwhile--even enjoyable--experience. The QVC home shopping network, plus its Q2 service being launched in 1994, are the leaders in this field.
The shopping programs are live, and authors go to the studios at specific times for broadcasts of, perhaps, 20 minutes duration. A good hook to get purchases during this situation is to offer signed copies; you can sign a well-packaged electronic book just as easily as the fly-leaf of a printed volume. If the promotion works, be prepared to sign several thousand copies to be shipped directly from the warehouses.
To sell by television, you must have a title that is appropriate for the audience at the time of day the program is scheduled, which for many electronic books might be around the slots devoted to selling computers and other electronic products. A shopping channel also gives you an opportunity to show video clips and other visuals, or to demonstrate something, if that is appropriate to your title.
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When selling on television, try to have attractive packaging, even if there is essentially only a floppy disk as the product. The exposure could help with any retail, direct mail, or other selling activities in which you are engaged.
Electronic books make ideal back-of-the-room products for sale at seminars, adding greatly to the profitability of such events. Business seminars, in particular, are likely to attract a high proportion of computer users with low resistance levels to paying premium prices for information on disk that they need.
If your publication is information-rich, incorporate hypertext or other sophisticated search facilities and call it a database, which should enhance its image and the price at which you can offer it.
If you can create such a product that would fit well with the many seminars now run on financial management for retirement, establishing a home-based business, investing in real estate, or similar popular topics, you might have the ideal distribution route for direct sales, particularly if the organizers do not have a good selection of their own back-of-the-room merchandise.
Once you have adopted the concept of paperless publishing, you can save time and money and increase your efficiency by trying to extend the use of your personal computer into other aspects of your creative work and its subsequent marketing.
Jim Hood's ventures into electronic publishing include a really comprehensive work on backache relief, his Professor P.C. Laptop tutorial on the use of portable systems, and his very successful PC-Learn title, which takes beginners through the history of computers to selecting and using a system appropriate to their particular needs.
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"Not only do I now publish electronically, but I also market many of my products electronically via CompuServe classified ads, and other methods," Jim Hood says. "Many of the functions of my home-based business--marketing, publishing, research, customer service--now take place electronically, and paper is never used.
"This method of operating continues to 'collapse' into a smoother and more rapid way of working," he continues. "It does not need high-level technology, just a simple 286 computer, 2400-baud modem, and an ample supply of recycled diskettes costing only 15 cents each. This rather low-tech 'trailing edge' technology produces stunning results."
Jim's use of on-line services such as CompuServe has become an attractive proposition for nearly all electronic publishers. It is possible to upload your files to the services, which provide the medium by which thousands of people can download them for evaluation, and the services then process registrations for you, collecting credit card payments on-line and passing them on to you with a reasonable percentage deduction.
"The shareware industry is now organizing itself into very efficient publishing-marketing-distribution channels which can be remarkably profitable for the new SOHO [small office, home office]," says Jim.
This shareware expert is now also finding an increasing number of registrations for his products coming via the low-cost shareware collections on CD-ROM. These are becoming a major means of distribution, some even circulating as promotional "freebies" to support direct-marketing campaigns.
Having got your attention with the heading, there's some bad news and good news about marketing your titles on CD-ROM. First, the bad news is that you won't get published profitably anywhere for nothing unless your work is worth publishing by the distributor's
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