Help! How can we successfully launch an educational product for children without spending a fortune?

education,products,wildlife,marketing,project,writing,adviceDear HTWB Agony Columns

My company makes and sells educational books, DVDs and other offline and online products for schools to use as projects and as a blended boost along with their regular curricular studies. We have a new wildlife/conservation product ready to go and… [Read more…]

Personal selling on Twitter: yes, it can work

This book was successfully marketed on Twitter by personal contact from author to potential reader.

People thought I was nuts to sell a book on an individual, 1-to-1 basis on Twitter. With this “serious” title on its launch nearly two years ago. The book is about how to write nonfiction books and get them published. I found that automated tweets that work for the lower-priced gift books – even using all the right keywords – didn’t work with anything like the same success as the personal touch.

Not as crazy as it sounds

For starters the number of people tweeting about their literary works-in-progress is relatively small. This meant my target readers were reachable on an individual basis without it taking me 8 hours a day to tweet to them all. (It took me an hour a day, tops.) I found them through Tweetdeck, which is one of several Twitter management tools available on the market today. I could afford to tweet with them personally, because although the book was not self-published my royalties were substantial enough to justify the time.

Secondly, writing a book is not like buying a can of baked beans, a software package, some jewellery or finding easier ways to fill in your income tax forms. Even with non-fiction which this particular book promotion was about, the process of writing it and getting it published can be as agonising as dropping your pants and sitting down for the duration on upturned drawing pins (thumbtacks in North America!) People take their books very, very personally.

So when someone comes along on Twitter with an obviously many-times duplicated “how to write a book in ten minutes and get it to sell thousands by next week” service offer, it’s going to be about as welcome, and as believable, as a chocolate teapot.

Approaching tweeters direct is not spamming

A couple of times during the course of the book launch I received spiteful responses from people who had gotten these targeted messages. “Spam! You’re blocked!” shouted one … “go peddle your books somewhere else” sneered the other. But there were only those two. As for the rest, it was no coincidence that over the next couple of months the book hit the number 1 spot on the Amazon (UK) best-sellers list in the “writing” category, and is still selling well today.

Not only did I sell lots of books, but also I made many new friends who messaged me and emailed me to thank me for my interest in their book writing projects. Since that time I have helped several of them by giving them a bit of free advice on their individual projects. I have been hired by three of them to copy edit their books, and by two more to ghostwrite their books for them.

And a large number of them have become loyal subscribers to this site.

It may be a relatively labor-intensive way to sell books, but it’s easier and cheaper than bricks-and-mortar book tours, and with more and more book sales taking place online nowadays it’s a lot more effective, too.

Would I do it again?

Yes, but depending on the nature of the book. Where the target audience is easy to identify and isolate, as in the case of this example, it’s ideal. But for books with a broader, more general appeal to wider and more diverse audiences, to target individuals would probably be spamming .

This book has a wider and less specific remit, so needed broader-based marketing.

For example, one of my more recent books is a general tips/advice title about business writing. Not only would be it pretty hit-and-miss to target anyone on Twitter who runs a small business, but also it would be impossible to do on an individual basis due to the vast numbers. It would only be feasible using an automated system which works, too, but in different ways.  And as I’ve said in an earlier post, general promotion (whether automated or not) works very well for the lower unit cost gift books – especially at gift-giving times of the year.

This personal selling on Twitter also, I imagine, works very well for other products and services in appropriate circumstances. What do you think?

Get the writing help you need and gift books your folks and friends will love

…in Suze’s bookshop

 

Product instructions that don’t, er, quite work

Writing instructions isn’t as easy as some people think – I’ll be going into that seriously in one of my upcoming eGuides on HowToWriteBetter.net. In the meantime here are some examples of what happens when they go wrong. Some of them may be made up for fun, but I have actually seen, with my own eyes, more than one of them out there in real life…

On a blanket from Taiwan – NOT TO BE USED AS PROTECTION FROM A TORNADO.

On a helmet mounted mirror used by US cyclists – REMEMBER, OBJECTS IN THE MIRROR ARE ACTUALLY BEHIND YOU.

On a Taiwanese shampoo – USE REPEATEDLY FOR SEVERE DAMAGE.

On the bottle-top of a (UK) flavoured milk drink – AFTER OPENING, KEEP UPRIGHT.

On a New Zealand insect spray – THIS PRODUCT NOT TESTED ON ANIMALS.

In a US guide to setting up a new computer – TO AVOID CONDENSATION FORMING, ALLOW THE BOXES TO WARM UP TO ROOM TEMPERATURE BEFORE OPENING. (Sensible, but the instruction was INSIDE the box.)

On a Japanese product used to relieve painful haemorrhoids – LIE DOWN ON BED AND INSERT POSCOOL SLOWLY UP TO THE PROJECTED PORTION LIKE A SWORD-GUARD INTO ANAL DUCT.  WHILE INSERTING POSCOOL FOR APPROXIMATELY 5 MINUTES, KEEP QUIET.

In some countries, on the bottom of Coke bottles – OPEN OTHER END.

On a packet of Sunmaid raisins – WHY NOT TRY TOSSING OVER YOUR FAVOURITE BREAKFAST CEREAL?

On a Sears hairdryer – DO NOT USE WHILE SLEEPING.

On a bag of Fritos – YOU COULD BE A WINNER! NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. DETAILS INSIDE. (The shoplifter special!)

On a bar of Dial soap – DIRECTIONS – USE LIKE REGULAR SOAP.

On Tesco’s Tiramisu dessert (printed on bottom of the box) – DO NOT TURN UPSIDE DOWN.

On Marks & Spencer Bread Pudding – PRODUCT WILL BE HOT AFTER HEATING.

On a Korean kitchen knife – WARNING KEEP OUT OF CHILDREN.

On a string of Chinese-made Christmas lights – FOR INDOOR OR OUTDOOR USE ONLY.

On a Japanese food processor – NOT TO BE USED FOR THE OTHER USE.

On Sainsbury’s peanuts – WARNING – CONTAINS NUTS.

On an American Airlines packet of nuts – INSTRUCTIONS – OPEN PACK, EAT NUTS.

On a Swedish chainsaw – DO NOT ATTEMPT TO STOP CHAIN WITH YOUR HANDS OR GENITALS.

On a child’s Superman costume – WEARING OF THIS GARMENT DOES NOT ENABLE YOU TO FLY.

And while we’re on the subject of the dangers of DIY copywriting…

On the trucks of a plumbing company – DON’T SLEEP WITH A DRIP. PHONE US.

In the front yard of a funeral home – DRIVE CAREFULLY. WE CAN WAIT.

A Pizza shop slogan in the USA – BUY OUR PIZZA. WE KNEAD THE DOUGH.

Sign on the door of a gynecologist’s consulting room – DR JONES, AT YOUR CERVIX

At a military hospital-door to endoscopy unit – TO EXPEDITE YOUR VISIT, PLEASE BACK IN

On a plumber’s pick-up truck – WE REPAIR WHAT YOUR HUSBAND FIXED

Door of a plastic surgeon’s consulting room – LET US HELP PICK YOUR NOSE

Sign in a chiropodist’s consulting room – TIME WOUNDS ALL HEELS

Outside a QuickFit exhaust shop – NO APPOINTMENT NECESSARY. WE HEAR YOU COMING

In a restaurant window – DON’T STAND THERE AND BE HUNGRY. COME IN AND GET FED UP

………next time, why not check your DIY ad copy with a professional editor???

How to make sure all your writing does  work…:

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English

“Banana Skin Words and how not to slip on them”…over 1,500 spelling and grammar tips to perfect your written English

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