Interview with Thomas Umstattdt, Jr. of Castle Media

1. What are the 3 most important things an unknown published author can do to get noticed and sell more books?

1. Build an email newsletter,  

2. Create a website to grow the email newsletter

3   Thrill your email subscribers.  

There is nothing more  powerful  for an author than a list of thousands of people who have opted in to hear from you. Email is bigger than every social network combined. Many people only visit Facebook after they get an email from Facebook telling them about something new. I know authors who are able to regularly make tens of thousands of dollars off  their  email lists.   

I was talking the other day with one of the top folks at CBD.com and she said that 65% of  their  sales are “pre-sales” which means they were sold mainly via email.  

2.   What are the most common mistakes authors make in designing their websites?

Focusing on the author instead of the reader is the biggest mistake I see. They spend all thier time and money making the website pretty that they forget to make it  interesting  of valuable. Authors need to realize that the website is not for them, it is for  their  visitors. Focus on thrilling your visitors and you will find you will get more visitors and more sales.     

3.   When you look out over the book publishing landscape what significant changes do you see coming in the near future as it relates to marketing?

I think audiobooks are the next big thing in publishing and marketing. Audible is one of the fastest growing bookstores in the world right now. If you can get in it will supercharge your sales not just of the audio version but of the paper version as well. I am already hearing from authors who’s audiobooks sales equal  their  ebook sales. Few people have a Kindle but most now have a smartphone where they can listen to your book. An audiobook opens you up to a whole new market of readers, a market with far less competition.

4.    What are you doing at Author Media to prepare for these coming changes?

I try to encourage our clients to get  their  books made into audiobooks.  We are also about to release a cool new tool that will allow authors to  inexpensively  put an affiliate store on  their  website to sell the books and audiobooks without having to pack a single box or lick a single stamp.  

5.    What do you see as the single most significant change for authors in marketing and selling their books that is going to impact the book publishing market?

Every year more books are sold online and fewer books are sold via traditional retail. This trend will continue. But don’t worry. Paper books will become like  vinyl  records and will never die. They will continue to be purchased by a small group of “paper sniffers” who are willing to pay a premium for  traditional  books.   

Authors now need to write well AND know how to use the web to sell books to succeed. This means you either need to be time rich (to invest the time needed to learn how to do it yourself) or cash rich (to build a tech savvy marketing team). If you have  neither  time nor money you need to reevaluate your priorities.  

6.    What 2 or 3 very important things would you  tell newly-published or about-to-be-published authors to do immediately if they haven’€™t already done so?

1. Invest in education. Most  beginning  authors waste a lot of time and money learning things the hard way. This can get discouraging after a while. Read books about writing and marketing, go to writer’s conferences and considering joining an online learning community like the Bestseller Society.   

2 Think like a business. Many  beginning  authors think of themselves as artists and then subsequently starve like artists. If you want to put your children through college, you need to think like a business. Your book is just one of your products. You need to budget. You need to advertise. There are many different ways to make money, like speaking, merchandise and on book e-products.  

3 Invest in a good website. Your website is the hub of all your marketing. It is where people go to subscribe to your newsletter, learn about your book and find you on social media. It is also the one asset you own. Twitter could go away tomorrow and Facebook may delete your page but your website will always be yours. Trying to market your book with a poor website is like trying to run a marathon with a twisted ankle.     

7.      What is the single biggest mistake newly-published authors make when thinking about marketing their books?

The biggest mistake I see authors make is spending hours on social media chitchatting with other authors thinking they are “marketing.” Very few authors get  their  time or money’s worth out of Facebook marketing because they don’t know what they are doing. Here is a good rule of thumb: Never spend more time on social media than you do writing. Never.  

Some quick tips for using Facebook to market your book:

1. Build a Business “like” page not a personal page

2. Advertise to fans of  similar  authors

3. Create viral images that your fans will want to share.  

4. Don’t post updates about your day to day life.  

8.    Any other thoughts or ideas you’€™d like to share about yourself, Author Media, or in general?

Author Media is a team of experts who specialize in working with non tech savvy authors.   In other words, we  help make authors famous. If you need help marketing yourself online we would love to help.  

Bio:  Thomas Umstattd Jr. built his first website at the age of 13 and taught his first web design class at only 16 years of age. He has been helping authors and small businesses use the web ever since. He currently serves as the CEO of Author Media, a company that builds websites for world-changers.

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