Be An Expert:
Reach Your Niche Market
and Add to Your Bottom Line
Are you the author of a how-to or how-I book? Then you should not be surprised to find that you are a premier expert on the subject matter you have authored. Add to your bottom line and reach the people who want to buy your books as well as others interested in your specific niche. Share your knowledge and experience as an “expert”! Publishers with numerous authors, take note! Encouraging your authors to be experts can sell more books and increase income for you and for your authors! Capitalize on your expert knowledge by offering yourself as a consultant, workshop leader, keynote speaker, or other kind of presenter; in turn, you can collect a decent fee, and at the same time, sell more books.
Am I an Expert?
If you an author or publisher with specific knowledge to share, then you are very likely an expert. By way of example, I will share some personal experience as a starting point for understanding how to reap the rewards of being an “expert”.
I write book about art for children, books of activities and projects that reflect my specific philosophy that children benefit most by creating true art rather than copying cutesy crafts adults have made. Because I have a focused philosophy to offer educators, librarians, and others who work with children, I am often hired to give workshops, full-day trainings, keynotes, and other kinds of presentations to share my perspective. The highlights of my offerings are the hands-on art experiences I bring to my presentations, art supplies and materials and projects to explore! I am the “expert” on children’s creative art education, with knowledge and experiences to share, and because of that, I am in demand around the country to share what I know. I am paid well to do so, and at the same time, sell the books I’ve written to back up the experience for my listeners.
Ask yourself: Am I an expert? Though you may not feel like you one, no doubt you actually are an expert, and you can enjoy how that will increase the bottom line!
How Do I Find Work as an Expert?
Now that you’ve agreed you are an expert, how do you find those consulting and speaking gigs? Better yet, how do they find you and invite you?
Heard of Facebook? it’s one place to begin. Create a spin-off page from your personal Facebook page that is dedicated to your professional life as an author and expert. Then begin describing and offering your services, including your full contact info and a link to your website where all your fees, speaking topics, FAQs, and author information can be found by those seeking to hire you. Make it easy for them to contact you through email and telephone. And when they do, get back to them same day or as quickly as possible. Don’t be shy about asking to be compensated.
Another great use of Facebook is to search for organizations in your area of expertise. For me, I search for Child Care Resource & Development groups, state Associations for the Education of Young Children, state librarian associations, and so on. “Friend” the ones that relate to your knowledge, say hello, and let them know you are available for keynotes, consulting, workshops, or whatever you wish to offer. Don’t overdo it, but make yourself known.
Another Facebook approach after “friending” these organizations, is to be sure and post interesting things to their pages that relate to their field, post news about interviews or magazine articles you may have done, or post any news or research or events that they will find helpful or interesting. Don’t make your posts just about you; post information that shows you are in the know and a great resource for them.
Heard of Google? Search for organizations who may benefit from your expert knowledge. Send them emails, or write letters or even just a friendly postcard. Include your website and contact info. Many many of my own successes have come from these “reach out and touch someone” efforts. When someone replies, have a packet or brochure or sheet about “you” and what you offer. Mail or email/attach this immediately. Then follow up.
One of my most successful tools has been to reply with a sheet of FAQs that covers just about everything anyone might ever ask. People seem to love this easy way to learn about my presentations and workshops, all on one sheet, filled with answer to the questions they would ask. I also send them what I call my “Checklist” that lines out who does what and what to expect at my workshops and presentations. It’s all there. Contact info, tax number, who pays for hotel, who pays for art supplies, who sets up the tables, who makes the hotel reservations, and much more. I’ve been told that this is a huge hit with the organizers of our events, because it’s “all” there and saves tremendous time in planning for both the group and for the presenter.
Some author-experts have a “press room” on their websites that has all the presentation information clearly offered. It can be extremely important to have a video clip of yourself talking in person. This one idea can sell you as an expert more than all other details you provide. A simple video clip made with a smart phone is good enough, just 30 seconds and you’re done!
Heard of blogs? Find blogs on the Internet that relate to your interest area. Post comments and become involved. After a bit, offer the blog owner a “free give-away” of your book to their followers as well as an interview of you and your knowledge. Use these interviews to propel you further along as more and more people learn to recognize your name and your books and how you can help them in their field. Blogs are an amazing way to be discovered and invited to be a speaker, consultant, or presenter.
Though Facebook, blogs, and websites are powerful, remember Twitter, magazine and journal articles, online radio interviews, and other various efforts will bring you into the sights of those who will want to hire you, so keep at it!
A word about free events: The more you are in the public eye, the more chance you have of being hired to offer events or consultations. Speak at your public library, offers talks at bookstores, and show up at community events (possibly with a sales table) and I suggest you always have something to give-away for free, even if it’s just balloons for the kiddies. Remember to have a stack of your promotional brochures about your speaking engagements with you.? Business cards are great, but that brochure will have your FAQs and presentation topics ready to hand out, and won’t be easily forgotten.
What Am I Worth?
You may have a sense of what you should charge based on what you have paid for consultants or conferences in your own experiences. Maybe you know someone doing something similar and have an idea of what they charge. If you’re not sure, it’s a good idea to ask others in the same field what they are charging to get a ballpark figure to work from. In my field, a full day training running 8am-4pm will run anywhere from $1500-$5000 per day, plus expenses (hotel, airfare, rental car). For shorter jobs, the fees remain about the same, because a day away is a day away. As well, different kinds of venues may require different fees, so be ready to adjust as needed. Fees can always be negotiated, so value yourself and don’t undersell your skills. You are an expert, afterall! The more experiences you have under your belt, the fees you should charge will be easier to estimate. Be sure to save a list of contacts from your various engagements so that recommendations can be given to new clients.
How Will I Sell More Books?
Part of being an expert at your events is to be sure your books are available to be sold before, during, after, or prior to said event. Pre-sales are a great way to get attendees excited about your topic and your visit, and give you a better idea of how many books to bring or ship. Giving a special price for pre-sales is motivational and friendly. People love autographs, so plan to sit and chat and autograph your books as well, usually during lunch (no, you don’t usually get to eat a real lunch!). If possible, ask the folks giving the event to handle the sales of books you provide, and always make credit card purchases possible. (The new cubes that fit on an iPhone or other device are great!) You will be too busy to do it all, so be sure you have the sales portion of your event set up in advance.
If you have handouts or other promotional materials, be sure to include a list of your books and how people can find them for purchase. If you prefer to use Amazon only, it’s easy for you, but you may prefer to use your own website as the sales venue of choice. Some experts field all their sales to their distributor, a wholesaler, or even a local independent bookstore. The choice is yours, but make it clear and easy whatever it is. Remember to include an old fashioned order form with your handouts. Some people still like to mail in a check (yes, it’s true). Above all, the important thing to know is, you will sell more books!
How About that Bottom Line?
How much can you add to your bottom line as an expert?A little or a lot? Yes, both definitely, but it’s up to you to set the parameters. Because it is difficult to guess what any one particular author-expert might achieve in one year, let’s look at one example, and you can plug in your own numbers to get an estimate:
Example — Do the Math:
One author-expert offers 5 strong events in one year (200 people attending each) with a fee of $4000 per event = $20,000. Add sales of one $20 book for an estimated half (100) of the attendees = $2000. Expenses are covered, so there’s no further deduction needed. Deduct book costs of $2.00/book and minor expenses $100. There you have it. $21,700 give or take added to the bottom line for five events, and this is only a very loose estimate. Book sales can be much higher if you have numerous titles, and if you add more events both large and small, the total goes up quickly, as do the sales of your books. If you piggy back events in one city, the expenses are less, and the sales are higher! The more events you offer, the more you will be invited to do more!
Will I Have Time to Write?
One of the considerations about adding all this newfound excitement and days away from the office into your life as an expert is that time to write becomes more difficult to fit in. You have to be honest with yourself and disciplined with how much you can add on to what you already do as a busy author. Some author-experts like to space out the events over the year leaving room to write in the months between. Others like to squeeze their events as close together in one big hunk of time and then be done with it for the rest of the year. Know yourself, and decide to make writing a priority above all else. After all, that’s how you become an author-expert in the first place. You have to have time to write another book, and another.
Ask any author-expert: What is the best part of interacting with your readers and sharing your knowledge? Most will answer, “They inspire me to write!” And that’s a bonus!
MaryAnn F. Kohl is the owner of Bright Ring Publishing, Inc. (1985) and the author of 20+ art education books for teacher/kids/parents. She writes for both Bright Ring and for Gryphon House, Inc. Visit MaryAnn’s website at www.brightring.com. MaryAnn is on the IBPA Board of Directors, a BN.com “Parent Expert”, and a winner of numerous Benjamin Franklin Awards. Bright Ring’s books are distributed to the trade by Legato Book Distribution.