Today, we get a rare treat… an interview with one of the top, B to B communicators in the country, Mark Amtower. Mark is known as “The Godfather of Government Marketing.” He is a consultant, self-published author, speaker, social media and CEO coach, and a radio host. (To find out more about Mark, visit his various sites at http://www.FederalDirect.com, http://www.GovernmentExpress.com, http://www.GovernmentMarketMaster.com, and http://www.EpiphanyBook.com.
Here’s what Mark had to say:
• Tell us about your self-published books.
“Government Marketing Best Practices” (Jan, 2005) is about marketing to the government. It is a book version of a seminar I developed in 2002. The seminar was on the road and delivered in over twelve cities around the U.S. over forty times. This book went through five printings and sold over 9,000 copies.
“Why Epiphanies Never Occur to Couch Potatoes” (Nov 2007) started as a lunch speech at a business conference. Originally titled, “Amtower’s Laws on Survival and Success,” one person who was at the original speech described it as “what happens when Stephen Covey meets Conan the Barbarian.” It is a straightforward look at the business and life rules I have developed and have chosen to live by.
• Why did you decide to self-publish your books?
The first book was self-published because I was in a hurry to get it out. The book was already written and ready to go, and the submission process seemed very slow. I also had little desire to be edited by anyone not familiar with the government market.
When I was ready for the second book, I had established relationships with my printer/publisher and again, decided I did not need editing.
• What have been the advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing?
Advantages are you completely control content. Disadvantages are you have to pay for everything.
• How have you marketed your self-published books successfully?
I generate lots of publicity for myself (quoted in over 200 publications since 1995; guest on over 50 radio stations around the country since 2006). I make certain key people in the press and on the web (bloggers, web radio hosts, etc) get copies of my books with a “one-sheet.” I also send copies to people I know who have large followings (enewsletter, social media, etc). For “Government Marketing Best Practices,” I also identified three bulk buyers (a conference, a government agency and a major government contractor.)
• What advice do you have for authors who are considering self-publishing their books?
First, make certain the book is really ready to go when you submit it. Have it edited by others for clarity, grammar, etc.
Second, be prepared and able to do your own publicity. If you publish it, no one will come unless they know it is there and there is a compelling reason to purchase it. Make certain all local press (local to you and pertinent to your title) get copies.
Third, start with a short run – no more than 2,500 copies. It is easier to print more than to pay for storage of too many copies.
Fourth, do not count on it being a profit center. Very few books generate serious income for authors, even if you are with a major publisher.
Fifth, select a printer that can do distribution as well. The printer needs to be able to support Amazon and the other online bookstores as well as any brick and mortar bookstores that want to carry your title.
Sixth, the title and the cover are the most important elements. Make certain your cover is designed to attract attention. Pay the cost and get it professionally done. For the title, take a pad of paper and go into a bookstore and start writing down the titles of books that get your attention. Look at the titles of books in your category that sell well. This is one area where emulation of others is a really good thing
• Is there anything else you would like to add?
If it is a business book, think of it as a great way to introduce yourself to prospective clients. If you want it to sell, be prepared to work hard – and smart- to get it out there.
Thanks for your excellent advice Mark!