How Can Authors Create Superfans and Transform Book Sales? With Melanie Herschorn

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In this episode of the Business Superfans Podcast, host Freddie Mixell talks with Melanie Herschorn about her transition from a celebrity publicist and journalist to a marketing expert for authors. They discuss the importance of engaging with readers to create superfans and the effectiveness of giveaways and incentives. Melanie shares success stories, including improving a financial advisor’s book sales through LinkedIn and a children’s book author’s pre-sales strategies. They also touch on the challenges of predatory practices in the publishing industry and the need for authors to actively market their books. Melanie offers resources and advice for authors looking to enhance their book marketing efforts.

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Transcript
Freddy D:

Melanie Hirschman wants to make your book and brand shine. As a nonfiction and children's book marketing strategists for authors, coaches, consultants, and speakers worldwide. She's on a mission to support and empower her clients to build a business with their book as the foundation, and to help them share their message with the world. Using her unique combination of entrepreneurship, award-winning journalism and PR experience. Melanie gets her clients to create brand awareness, sell books and position themselves as subject matter experts. So they can make a big impact with their book. Her new book Make A Big Impact With Your Book is out now. Hello, Melanie Hirschen. How are you today? Welcome to Superfans podcast. We're excited to have you here.

Melanie Herschorn:

Thank you. I'm so happy to be here.

Freddy D:

So tell me a little bit about your background, how you got yourself started into authoring and then moving on to basically helping authors publish their books, market their books and become successful authors, because it's one thing to write a book. It's another thing to actually have it. Be marketing, selling and generating revenue.

Melanie Herschorn:

And if I can do a plug for your book called super fans, that is really great. And everybody should read that. I'll just say that.

Freddy D:

Thank you.

Melanie Herschorn:

You're welcome.

Freddy D:

Thank you.

Melanie Herschorn:

So, how I got into it was totally not linear at all. I graduated from college and I had no idea what I wanted to do and a friend of mine in Toronto said, you'd be really good at PR, why don't you try that? And I said, okay, that sounds good. I'll try that. And so I worked as a celebrity publicist for a couple of years, and then I decided to get a master's in journalism. And I worked as a radio journalist for a few years. Then I had to move across the country with my husband and we had a new baby. And I thought, well, I can get a job as a journalist and pay a babysitter more than I'm going to make, or I can do something else that's kind of been tapping on my heart, which was to design and manufacture breastfeeding clothing.

Freddy D:

Oh, wow.

Melanie Herschorn:

It's not linear, right?

Freddy D:

No, that's a complete left hand turn.

Melanie Herschorn:

It was, and yet it wasn't at the same time because I've always been so interested in fashion and I didn't feel confident like I could ever do haute couture, but I could help new moms with finding something functional and fashionable to wear. So I designed and manufactured clothes for about seven years. And my last year of business, I hired somebody to help me with my marketing. And it was a very toxic relationship. She was very condescending and just mean and really belittled me to the point where I couldn't even open my office door anymore and it was my home office. So I shortly thereafter closed the business, sold off what I had and said, okay, what now? And I realized that. Marketing was something that I'd been doing consistently throughout my career. As a publicist, as a journalist, as a designer of clothes, I was always marketing stuff. And I realized that I could help other people. Do their marketing in a supportive way, in a way that would not make them feel like they were an inch tall. And so I said, all right, that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to try it. And when authors started calling me, I went, oh, okay, I'm onto something here because there are, well, first of all, the boundaries that there are none to publish now. You can have an idea, write a book, publish it to Amazon KDP tomorrow, and guess what? You're a published author. It's not like in the, in, the yesteryear when you had to find somebody, an agent, you had to get a publishing company to, to back you and no, there, there are no barriers to entry anymore. And what happens is people have these incredible ideas and they put them in books and then They don't do anything with them. They think, okay, well, it's all about the launch and then the launch comes and it goes and then no more books are selling and they don't know why and instead of doing something about it, they just throw their hands up and say, well, I tried. And they move on. And so it was sort of a natural thing for me to say no, you can make an impact with your book. And I'm going to show you how you can write it effectively and publish it and then market it so that you can have all these. all this beautiful success, like speaking on stages where they require a book oftentimes, and, improving or increasing your consulting fees. And, all the great things, the credibility the awareness that come along with.

Freddy D:

Yeah, when I wrote my book, it was a combination of many years of sales and marketing experience on a global scale. And I did do the book launch and everything else. And it did, you got that spike and then I did some. Amazon, marketing, but when you and I got together, it really took it for a whole different turn. I've, redid some things to improve the messaging of the book. And I'm putting, I'm still working on the things that we've talked about, but now the podcast is actually, a reality. My community is a reality. I've been posting things on social media and got some tools that help me do that, and I'm getting sales every month. Am I making, tons of sales? No, but every month I see a steady amount of sales. Where before it was very sporadic. Now I count on X amount of books being sold on a monthly basis. So, you're exactly correct. And what, helping you've helped me get a better direction on promoting, my book, creating business superfans.

Melanie Herschorn:

Well, that is such an honor. And I appreciate you telling me that, it's amazing what can happen when you're really saying the right things to the right people. And, so much of this is in your book, it's almost, it's a little meta to talk about it, but it's also something I think important to mention that we don't get rich on book sales. It's really.

Freddy D:

It's a vehicle.

Melanie Herschorn:

It's a vehicle. It's how we leverage it. So for you, people picking up your book and saying, wow, these are really great strategies and tools to, to, for client retention for new clients or customers. And then they might call you up and say, Hey Freddie. Can you be a consultant for our company? We really need help. And then you're not talking about, a few dollars. You're talking several thousand dollars as a return on your investment from this book. And that's the magic of it really.

Freddy D:

Well, funny you bring that up, because that actually took place this morning. So, I had a 8. 30 meeting with somebody that I've been doing some marketing consulting with aside of my other opportunity that I handle, and they're now looking to go on a bigger scale, and they're looking to, we talked about partnership, and because of the fact that, The things I wrote in the book that gave credibility to my sales and marketing knowledge. And that's the area that they need is they need help and sales marketing and some of the technologies to put it together, to get things to flow for them because they're doing things too much manually. So they can't grow their stock. And so that's, so yes, exactly what you said. It does manifest itself.

Melanie Herschorn:

And it happened today. And that's the best thing ever. Yep. And that's, oh my gosh, let's take a moment. I love that. I and I wish I could say that never happens, but it really happens all the time.

Freddy D:

Yeah, it really happened.

Melanie Herschorn:

Yeah.

Freddy D:

This is, I've been working with this individual for two years and handling some of their digital marketing stuff on the side. And it's not been a big thing, it's a side gig for me because I still have customers that I've been dealing with for over 10 years on doing some of their online marketing things. And how many people can say that they've got customers for over a decade still working with them because I practiced the things are in the book. And like I say, they reached out all last week while I was on vacation, and we set it up for early this morning to talk about possibilities. So yeah, absolutely. So let me ask a question here is, how do you encourage authors to engage with their readers?

Melanie Herschorn:

So there are so many ways to do that. One of the biggest mistakes is to just post on social media and walk away. Right? You have to reach out to your readers using social media, and you can do that if they leave a comment, reply to their comment. If they like a post, Send them a direct message and say, thanks for liking my post and always ask a question because then they feel compelled to keep this conversation going. You can do all sorts of things. You can reach out through summits like online summits. You can invite your audience over your email if you have an email marketing platform that you use. And anytime you're out anywhere in the world. Remember that as an author, you are your best marketer. So it's silly, but I carry a copy of my new book with me everywhere I go. And it's a conversation starter. And then people say, Oh, what do you do? What? Well, here's a copy of my book. And, then it's an instant credibility boost. But in terms of getting more audience members to engage, more ideal readers to engage, I really think it comes down to other than all the, strategies we talked about. I really think it comes down to what you say. What you're saying, is it resonating with them? Are you speaking about, using like jargon that isn't really gonna land with the people you wanna reach? Are you saying let's lose five pounds when the people that you wanna reach are saying, I just wanna tone my arms? Those sound like they're the same thing. But they're actually very different. So I think market research can really help with that, figuring out, creating an avatar, creating a customer avatar to where you can identify the specific person or entity that. It would resonate with what you wrote about exactly. And then, you can use chat GPT to figure out what would be the right thing to say, right? Or you can also go to the business superfans. com website and pick up the avatar workbook that we created which is second to none. And it not only helps you create the avatar, but also your elevator pitch.

Freddy D:

And a multitude of other things.

Melanie Herschorn:

That's a great resource. Yes.

Freddy D:

The other thing that I've done in my case, you say carrying the book, I've got mine someplace here, I've carried it to networking events, and I've sold it on the spot, and I've had to go back out to the car and grab another one. What I've done, though, is I've followed up to those people that bought it at those events to see what their thoughts were, and et cetera. And that's the way that I've stayed in contact with the people that picked up my book. If they sell it online, and they bought it online, if they bought it from Amazon, you don't know who bought it. Except if they do comment or give you a review, that's about the extent of it as far as I know.

Melanie Herschorn:

Yeah, there's no way Amazon's going to give up their customer information. So I love that you're doing that because when you are continuing that conversation, that's where, the magic happens. That's where the consulting opportunities come in. It's. It's again, it's about creating that engagement and sticking with it. And I know you mentioned that in your book. I mentioned that in my book. It's really about developing relationships. Marketing is about creating relationships. It's not about, putting up a billboard and just hoping that it works for you because not everybody's going to be interested in what's on your billboard.

Freddy D:

Right, so how can authors, to want to create superfans of their book and get those superfans to promote the book for the author?

Melanie Herschorn:

I like giveaways and incentives to get that to happen. So for example, I would say, think of it like a Starbucks gift card and do a giveaway and say, Hey, anybody who wants to get a book for themselves and get a book for their friend will be entered to win the Starbucks gift card. So any kind of incentivized. Giveaway or contest is really going to allow people to say, Oh, I want to be part of this because people want to belong to things, right? They want to be part of something. So they want to be a super fan, for example. So they're going to join because it makes them feel like they're part of something bigger than themselves.

Freddy D:

Right. Okay. So, a little bit about how you work with an author that's either in a process of writing the book or they've written their book, like in my case, how you and I connected up and then kind of, marketing it, but sort of hop along until they get some direction and it transforms their outlook and outcome of book sales.

Melanie Herschorn:

Sometimes authors come to me and they are just about to publish or they have already published and they haven't gotten traction. And so what we do is we start from the beginning. You have to build your marketing foundation and that includes everything that you put out on the internet. It needs to be cohesive and coherent, and then you can move into the more glamorous pieces of, pitching yourself to podcasts, pitching yourself to the media, being on stages. So we go through all those in a very cohesive way. It's sort of, well, it's linear and it's also never overwhelming because marketing as a whole can just, people can be like a deer in headlights. They just, it's so overwhelming. So what I do is I break it down step by step so that authors always know what's next. And then when you take a look back and you go, wow, I've come so far in six months and now I'm getting. PR opportunities, and I'm speaking on a stage next month that I wouldn't have been able to if I hadn't started marketing myself. And also, we are now helping people who are not yet authors. So, professionals, business owners who say, I want to write a book. I should write a book. I've been telling myself that I should write a book, and everybody I know tells me I should write a book, but I just don't know where to start. We have a 12 month program that takes you from writing the book, editing the book, self publishing under your own imprint, and then marketing the book as well so that you get all the benefits of the increased consultant fees and the speaking fees and the visibility and awareness. One thing that is That I find, and we can talk about this if you'd be open to it, the difference between traditional publishing and hybrid publishing and self publishing. Sure, yeah. I feel like that's something that people get confused about. What was the way that you published your book? Now I'm turning the tables on you and asking you questions. I apologize.

Freddy D:

It's all good. I self published.

Melanie Herschorn:

Okay. So did I, and I wouldn't have done it any other way.

Freddy D:

No, I agree. It was a much better experience, I'm in control, and I keep the majority of the revenue, and I can make tweaks, I can create a version two etc. So it's, maintaining the control of the book is everything in my mind.

Melanie Herschorn:

I feel the same way. I had a client once who, she was adamant that she traditionally publish and she wrote, it's like a 35 page proposal that you have to shop around to agents and publishers that are the traditional publishers. And she got a, an advance. It was not a very significant advance. And then she had to wait 14 months until they published her book. And I know for me, if I'd had to wait another 14 months, I don't know that I would have been able to. I mean, it's like you have this drive, you want it out there. And so as a self publisher, you just have so much more control. Yes, it can cost money as opposed to not costing money, but the marketing is never covered anyway, no matter how you publish. So you're paying to get marketing advice or to. Have it done for you,

Freddy D:

Right. And yeah the, that window is a lot of wasted time. I mean, to lack of a better way of wording it, it's a lot of waste of time because a lot can happen in 14 months you could have been building up the book sales, you could have been building up your brand, you could have landed some consulting opportunities, you could have landed a multitude of different things, and in 14 months, you're sitting there twiddling your thumbs, not knowing what direction to go, because you're no longer in control.

Melanie Herschorn:

Yes, and I would not have wanted to wait that kind of time. And, in the end she's doing well. It's the book is doing well. But, I was even thinking, what if the information in your book has changed so drastically in 14 months? Maybe you talk about somebody who was alive, they're not alive anymore, or someone like Elon Musk buys Twitter and changes the name and it's not Twitter anymore. I mean, those things happen.

Freddy D:

Technology changes. You recommend products and they change. That's one of the things in my book is that I had initially listed all these tools that I recommended. And then I realized. You know that wow, they're gonna be locked in that book. And so now I Modified it and if you recall, I just have a page that tells you go to this website and this link and get the latest and greatest Recommendations because they change so absolutely so share a story Melanie and on Somebody that you help besides this guy. Getting them direction and getting them results where before they were a boat in a boat with only one oar and going around in a circle,

Melanie Herschorn:

it's a great visual. So what for those of you just listening, I was. Pretending to paddle. I have a couple in mind, but I'm going to start with my client Mike, who had written a book for financial advisors. He himself is a financial advisor, and he wrote a book for financial advisors, and he was not posting on LinkedIn. He was on it every day, but he was just lurking and so when we developed a LinkedIn strategy. His connections started reaching out to him and saying, Hey, we'd like for you to come speak at our event. We're going to pay you and we'd like to buy 200 of your books and that continued because he was Leveraging the power of that social media and then also the power of relationship marketing which is something that we teach because it's not enough to just Post on LinkedIn. You have to do other things. And then, I have a client named Lynn, who is a children's book author and she just published another book and she had 800 pre sales. 800 books in presale because she's utilizing all the tools that she has as an author marketer to get book sales, to get PR, she's getting PR coverage. And so, I mean, all those pieces are possible. When you have a book. I was talking to a woman yesterday. And she said, Oh, I really should write a book. And I said, Oh, okay. She said, Yeah, I've been thinking about it for a long time. She said, I've actually been turned down from speaking events. Because I didn't have a book and they wanted me to be able to sell it at the back of the room. And that's just. One humongous door that can fly right open for you when you publish and you market.

Freddy D:

Yeah. It's one thing to have it, and it's another thing to everybody know about it and want it.

Melanie Herschorn:

Yeah.

Freddy D:

Because if nobody knows, and you got the greatest gizmo in the world, and nobody knows about it, it's irrelevant.

Melanie Herschorn:

Absolutely. And I think that's kind of, so the publishing industry as a whole. I love being part of it, but there is a lot of predatory crap happening. Can I say crap on your podcast? Okay. There's a lot of predatory stuff happening and you will find, I'm sure you experienced this just like I did. As soon as I put the word author on my social media profiles, I started getting all these unsolicited emails from people promising to make me a star with my book through podcasts and this, all you need to do is pay us thousands of dollars. And I went. Whoa, what is this? This is not okay. And so one of the things that I like to do is just. Explain that, this is not how it has to be. You do not have to pay somebody, or like a bot basically, a whole lot of money to get your book out there. You have the power within you. To learn how and then to leverage what you already have.

Freddy D:

Right, yep No, you're absolutely right because I did once I people I had a podcast and author and speaker to my profile. You know as you had and I had talked I got solicitations of well we can you know for several thousand bucks, we'll get you on podcast shows. Well, there's a platform that I use that I pay 39 a month, and I've been interviewed on it 10 times so far. And so, There's a multitude of things. I've had people reach out to me on LinkedIn and invite me on their shows. So yes, there are predatory stuff out there, unfortunately.

Melanie Herschorn:

It is unfortunate. And so I feel sometimes like I'm a one woman, I'm on a one woman mission to try to say, you have so much more power than publishers sometimes are willing to offer. Like publishers in general don't offer marketing and what they. The way they sell to a customer, a client is your book is going to do all these things, but they don't explain the how. They say it's just by virtue of the fact that you have a book. I feel like it's incumbent upon me to say, well, that's not exactly how it works. Cause just like you said, if a tree falls in the forest and no one there to hear it. So the bottom line is that publishing a book is not the end of it. And I think that there's a lot of misinformation out there that all you need to do is publish. No, not exactly. All you need to do is publish and let people know that you've published and continue that, I always call the consistency in marketing the granny panties of book marketing because it's not sexy. it does what it's supposed to do. And going back to the, we talked a little earlier about, creating superfans. I've experienced this, is I've had people read my book, and in my case, it's a business book. I've got a picked up the book or in some cases one of them bought 10 copies of the book and then has passed it out to clients. They've become my superfan saying that you need to read the book. I got a guy in Michigan. He's 85 years old. He used to have his own his own radio show and He called me last night and talking about the ways of how we can work together and everything else and he's my superfan because he wants to be promoting my book at some of the rotary clubs and he just joined some other club and he's 85 and still going. He's invited me to be on his radio show again. So yeah, the book opens up opportunities provided people know about it, because if nobody knows about it, like I said before, the gizmo, but here we're, let's talk about books. If nobody knows about your book and it could be the best book ever written, but goes nowhere. It goes nowhere. It can't make a difference. It can't make the impact that you had initially envisioned for it.

Freddy D:

So let's explore another story that you perhaps can share of, where someone was floundering and you turned that around. They were discouraged because of the fact that they were floundering and now they have a whole different outlook on everything.

Melanie Herschorn:

I mean, that's a lot of people there, Freddie, so I'm going to have to pick one. But actually there's one that I think would be a really good story. So I had a client who wrote a book and it was basically a pandemic memoir. And I don't know about you, but I don't ever want to talk about the pandemic again.

Freddy D:

No.

Melanie Herschorn:

So, this was already post pandemic, so, he said, what do I do? What, how do I market this thing? I wrote it, I, it's based on my blogs I want to make a big deal out of this and so I think he was discouraged because he realized that, people, once they are out in the world again. They didn't want to go back.

Freddy D:

Right.

Melanie Herschorn:

So, even in a book, so when I read the book and I, we worked together, I looked at it and I thought, okay, this is not a pandemic memoir, but it's also the story of a father realizing that he has a child who is neurodivergent. How that came to be and what lessons you learned from that and how you can show other parents, here's what we did, here's what worked, here's what didn't. And so. When we reframed it, he felt more inspired and he actually got his book to be sold at a very prominent bookstore in Colorado based on the pitch that we created together. So, again, that was more spring in his step because he realized it could make a difference and it wasn't stuck in 2020.

Freddy D:

Right. Very cool. Good story. Good story. So, as we're wrapping up here, how can people find you?

Melanie Herschorn:

Well, I'm everywhere on the internet, but also I can be specific. If you would like to read a copy of my new book, you can go to VIPBookMarketing. com and it will take you right through to Amazon. You can also get freebies. A lot of freebies on my website, including the ultimate book marketing checklist, and I'm on LinkedIn. I'm on Instagram and Facebook and yeah, I'm generally here to answer and to support.

Freddy D:

Okay. Excellent, thank you very much for being a guest on a business super fan podcast show. Very much appreciate the information you shared and we look to have you on another show down the road.

Melanie Herschorn:

Thanks so much for the opportunity.

Freddy D:

All right, Melanie. Thank you.

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