Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What Is Your Definition of Marketing?

This question was posed to me a bit ago, which left me pondering how my conceived definition of what marketing is in comparison to how others defined it.

So...just what is marketing?

Marketing is essential to any business if you wish to remain in business. However, there are so many varied definitions of what marketing is floating around, so much so that the core definition of it is lost. It seems that various industries have many different approaches and definitions of what marketing is as well as what it isn’t, which can be confusing. 

To put it simply, marketing is the process of creating a desirable attraction of wants, or perceived needs in a potential customers’ mind for a product or service, with the end result of obtaining the purchase.  Some would argue that advertising and marketing are one in the same. They are not.  Advertising can be thought of as a subset, (tactic) of marketing. Marketing encompasses the strategy, implementation, and execution of tactics that obtain results. 

Going further, analyzing the results (researching) gives answers to whether the intended strategy worked or not.  If the strategy worked, great! If not, the marketing objective, strategy, and/or tactics need to be revised.  A good marketing campaign can sell just about anything. It’s all about knowing your intended target audience and “knowing” what they want or think they need, customer perceptional positioning yourself (service or product) favorably, then giving it to them. 

When it comes to marketing, the big ticket item here is positioning, perception, and creating or filling the “need” to have what is being offered.  In order to create the desire or package your product or service to fit the needs or perceived needs of your target audience, you must know who you’re marketing to and how to market to them. What does your target audience consider a need or a must have and why? What features and benefits are they looking for? What are their “hot buttons”? Can you deliver? Can you show that you have the features that can benefit them and they value?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Smut Fiction Classified As A New Category Fiction: New Adult?

Just what is the definition of smut fiction?  Or for that matter, New Adult fiction? Bridging the gap between Young Adult and Adult fiction is the new hot ticket and both smut fiction/New Adult fiction is supposedly the new category that young readers can't get enough of these days.  Ask a few authors that have been cashing in on this new coined budding genre.  

 Ah, the coming of age. If you can remember back…remember Judy Blume books? During those times, Judy Blume was the coming of age hit, without the sexual tension that the this new category brings with it. Now we have the new wave of coming of age stories, more erotic, sensual, and sexual to boot.

Some critics want to go as far as saying it’s not real literature? People read it, right? Sounds like literature to me. To call it smut brings a negative connotation that some may view as a put down toward the authors that write in this category.

However, marching to the bank to the tune of at least $200,000 in just a few months, is hardly a put down to me. I’m going to go ahead and reach out on a limb and say that authors such as Colleen Hoover, who wrote Slammed, and others that are cashing in on this wave, and say they probably don’t think so either.  Publishing houses are now taking notice of "smut" fiction as some self published authors such as Colleen Hoover has proven that there is indeed a market for these types of stories. A few of these authors have now landed deals with the same publishing houses that once turned them down.

Take a look at the NBC news broadcast below: 

To read the full article that goes with this video, click here

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Spring 2013 - Best Selling African American Books - The Power List

As an Urban Publisher, we would be remiss if we didn't share this information:

Troy Johnson:
Gwen Richardson:
Ron Kavanaugh:

African-American Literature Web Sites Launch “Power List” of Best-Selling Books

(April 22, 2013 — New York, NY)  — Three leading African-American literature web sites announced the launch of the Power List, a quarterly compilation of best-selling books written or read by African Americans.  The Power List is a joint project of, and, three Web sites which have promoted African-American literature for more than a decade.

The founders of these companies believe there is a need for a comprehensive list of best-selling African-American books.  “Currently, the data is dispersed over a wide variety of sources,” said Gwen Richardson, co-founder of  “We wanted to compile and analyze the data across the board and present those findings to the public.”

Besides collecting data from online book sellers and random samples on relevant Facebook pages, the Power List has a unique feature:  Its findings include a quarterly survey of 1,200 African-American book clubs.  “African-American book clubs are well-established in urban communities across America,” said Troy Johnson, founder of “The survey results tell us not only which Black authors are gaining traction among Black readers, but they also let us know which non-Black authors have garnered their attention.”

The Spring 2013 list is divided into separate categories:  Hardcover fiction, hardcover non-fiction, paperback fiction and paperback nonfiction.  Best-selling ebooks and classics will be added in future editions.  The list will be released on the fourth Monday in the month following each calendar quarter.

Notable information about the Spring 2013 list:
  • Urban fiction author duo Ashley & Jaquavis have a total of four books among the top ten paperback fiction best sellers
  • Author Sister Souljah has titles on both the paperback and hardcover fiction lists
  • Best-selling author E. L. James’ Fifty Shades of Gray was a top seller among African-American readers
  • Two titles by politically-conservative African Americans were among the best-selling titles in paperback non-fiction books
“Our ultimate mission is three-fold,” said Ron Kavanaugh, founder of  “To promote African-American literature; to assess the reading habits of African Americans; and to report those findings to the public.”

The Spring 2013 lists may be viewed at the Power List web site:  Updates will be included on the Power List Facebook and Twitter pages.  For more information, contact one of the individuals listed above.

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Bird's Eye Perspective: Traditional Publishing vs. Self-Publishing

So the question was asked, as it gets asked quite often…which is better, to publish through a traditional publisher or to self-publish? There may be pros and cons to both sides, per say. So let’s start with the pros of self-publishing, shall we.

You have full creative control of the content
You keep more profit
You also control whether your work gets published
Less waiting time to publish
You get to market it the way you see fit and get it in the hands of your target readers….more on this in a bit.
Notoriety from friends and family now that you are an accomplished author

With technology today, it’s possible for anyone with a laptop or a desktop to tap and keystroke their way to a novel, short story, poetry piece, etc. and put it out there for the world to view, admire, and gobble up with anticipation of the next alluring piece that you pen, right? Um, well, that is partly true.  Now, let’s take a look at the cons.
You have to market it aggressively. You have to market it aggressively and did I mention that you have to market it aggressively?
Limited distribution
Low stock if any book copies in bookstores
Less profit than you bargained for

One question before we go any further, how many authors do you know that didn’t try to get published traditionally before going the self-published route? Most authors want to be published traditionally but have not yet had the chance to be picked up by a publisher for a myriad of reasons.  Again, with technology, you no longer have to wait. Along with not waiting, honing and perfecting your craft more, and continually writing, self-publishing does offer the benefits of getting out there, but how far can you really get out there.

Sure, we’ve all heard the success and sensation of Amanda Hocking and John Locke (who previously was traditionally published and established). The truth and reality is is that most self-published authors sell less than 200 books after going through all of their friends and family, while the traditionally published average sales range from 3000 to 4000 books.

One big hurdle is that you need to know who your target market is, where to find them and how to reach them. A traditional publisher has an advantage in this department. Yes, it is true that most publishers don’t go all out to market for you (unless you are a an author at the top of the echelon and by this time, you don’t need to be marketed as much because you already have a thriving fan base waiting for your next piece of work). 

So this means, you will spend more time than you imagined marketing your book. If you have a marketing background, it can make the job less stressful, but most authors don’t. You will get some sort of marketing help; however, you will carry a lot of it on your shoulders. Having a publisher that has a dedicated marketing representative and events coordinator that works to get you seen is a huge plus and not to mention a money saver on your part. There may be a couple of these publishers out there, usually smaller presses, but their funds are more limited. Nonetheless, you will get more personalized attention in this department.

Then there is the question of distribution. Most booksellers won’t order books from self-published authors. There are independent bookstores that may take a chance, but your goal is to have your book in as many bookstores (and selling) as possible. Having this connection is a necessity or you will have a very limited distribution circle outside of the online community. Yes, you have the opportunity to publish and distribute your e-books online through Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, and other outlets, but not much in the brick and mortar stores. 

Overall looking at it from the traditional publisher’s side is about money, it’s a business.  Not only it is a business, but to be successful at it and make the money to sustain the business, it needs to have great authors that can churn out the books that readers love will review your books, spread the word and help the bottom line…make you money as well. 

With this said, check out our website and view the submission guidelines and what we do in the way of marketing for you. If interested, submit a query. You never know, it may get accepted.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Recipe For A Best Selling Novel …According to Best Selling Author Dean Koontz

Let’s face it; we all think we have a story inside of us to tell. There are some of us that have been told “you should write a book and tell your life story.” Many of us think that we are sitting on a best seller! Is there really such a thing of just getting it right every time you pen your next great novel? Are you writing what you would want to read or are you putting rigid constraints on yourself and writing what you think people want to read; hoping to hit that sweet spot? We all dream of the six figure advances, the mindless spending of penned earned money on the once dreamed of home, cars, clothes, etc. Paying things off in cash, being debt free….well, you get the picture, and you probably carry that mental image around with you on a daily basis back and forth to work which makes that dream even more desirable and your current life and reality the lesser.

So how are you to be transformed into this mega writer? Well, bestselling author Dean Koontz sat down with Beliefnet and has some tips worth mentioning that could possibly lend a hand and push you on your way to the top. He is worth an ear seeing as though according to Beliefnet’s editor, he was reported to have annual sales of at least $24 million. But remember, as authors, we all have our own way of writing and there really is no wrong or write (and yes, I meant to say write) way to go about this, but it won’t hurt to take in these suggestions. Who knows, maybe you could be the next best sensation!
Here are his tips:
1. Your writing should be personal to you. It should come from deep inside of you. (Well, so much for writing what you think people want to read, or mimicking.) Zombies may be in now, but who knows what will be in in 4 or 5 years from now. You will struggle trying to tap into a market you are not really interested in.
2. Drop the outlines; they hold you inside the box. We as authors love to think outside the box and outlines don’t seem to support that line of thought.
3. Get rid of the self-doubt. Nothing like self-sabotage, huh?
4. Love the language and fill your writing with metaphors, similes, and other figures of speech. In other words, be more than one dimensional and flat. Be vivid in your writing, enrich it and be colorful. That may be a challenge for some and easy for others.
5. Write with passion. Write what you are passionate about. See tip #1.
All of these tips are awesome pieces of advice. Challenge yourself; push yourself to higher aspirations in your writing. You may surprise yourself when you just let go and flow freely.

Reviews, Reviews, Reviews!

Your life, blood, sweat and tears you have poured into your book needs to be acknowledged, right? You want people to know that you have crafted an awesome story. One filled with action, romance, adventure, suspense, or whatever the theme or genre it falls in. One word or a few words about your book is what can help sustain and help you gain momentum, an audience, or a following. Reviews can be an extension; the lifeblood of your work. Just as a food critic rates a restaurant, reviews can make or break you.

In the business world, Google heavily weighs reviews, along with other components; in its algorithm as far as user queries are concerned, and serves up its most relevant findings. As a professional Marketing agent, stressing getting reviews ranks high on my list. Most people trust what others have to say about a product or service….and your book. If you have great reviews, your book most likely has a great chance to be purchased. If you have no reviews, people may pass you up for fear of not wanting to spend their hard earned funds on an unknown author. With the deluge of self-published works, which some may view as being under par (which we cannot say this is true), or a small press author, the odds are stacked against you from the start. However, you have to start somewhere right?
So, to make it easier to gain reviews quickly, here are a few tips:

Provide QR codes on the back of or inside the covers of the book, catching the reader while they are still “into” your book.  Readers are probably more likely to leave a review right after finishing the book as opposed to writing a review days or weeks later. Catch the readers while they are hot.
Reviews being left in multiple locations is a plus as well. Providing a few links can optimize your chances of getting a multitude of reviews at various locations, thus taking up more real estate in searches and platforms.

You can also ask the reader by including verbiage with the QR code, to refer your book to a friend. If they are willing to do a review right there on the spot (assuming they loved your book), they may also be willing to share your work with a friend via an email, word of mouth, or even send a message or post their thoughts on Facebook.

Provide links to your Goodreads profile for reviews. If you don’t already have a profile, get one. This is another valuable source for “sharing” and reviewing information about your book.

Reviews are not the end all or be all, but they are great indicators for others to follow and can pique curiosity for the roaming reader searching for their next read. Writing and publishing the book is the easiest part, marketing it is another monster. However, as an Urban Prints Production author, we lessen the stress on you and carry a lot of the marketing duties for you, leaving you to do what you do best!