Nathan here! I recently met Jane Ubell-Meyer, founder of Bedside Reading, and I was struck by the way she combined her passion for traveling and books into a new company. I invited her to join me for an interview about how she created a book-adjacent career, hoping it could serve as an inspiration for anyone hoping to make that leap.
Bedside Reading places books by the bedsides in luxury hotels and helps authors with placements in the media. They take a multi-layered approach, including, social media (postings by the hotel and their own team), print media, newsletters and more. They work with all the major publishers, independent publishers, and indie authors.
Nathan: What gave you the idea for Bedside Reading?
Jane: When I was in my 20’s I dated a guy who was a scuba diver. He told me that if I got certified in diving we would go to the Caribbean for a magnificent 7-day diving trip. Well, I took the plunge and got certified. We flew to St. Martins and as we were entering the hotel suite, he turned to me and told me “he wasn’t that into me” and that he just wanted to be friends…
I was mortified. The only thing that saved me from that disastrous 7-day vacation, is my step-mother, Marsha who had handed me a book, Cry to Heaven by Anne Rice moments before I left on that trip. Needless to say, that book saved me! I was hooked on Anne Rice and from then on I always remembered to take a book with me when I travel.
So it was a natural idea to pair books (which I love) and travel.
What kinds of authors should consider partnering with Bedside Reading and what are some success stories you’ve seen?
Each author is unique and we take pride in helping all of them market their book. We work with business authors, fiction, memoir writers. We love thrillers, children’s, YA, romance. If it is appropriate and fits our hotels’ needs we can find a way to help the author.
We recently worked with Keele Burgin, first-time author of Wholly Unraveled, an amazing memoir. In six weeks her sales on Amazon skyrocketed. She claims we were definitely part of that success. She recently told me that she’s a “lifer” with Bedside Reading.
We’ve launched many books, and since we can guarantee traditional media, social media and produce placements–we feel we are an important layer of an author’s campaign when they launch their books.
One of the things that impressed me the most about your business is the way you combined a few of your different interests into a business. What advice do you have for people who want to start a business that aligns with their passions?
What a great question. I’ve had a few businesses and the one thing I can tell entrepreneurs is to look at the numbers. Understand how to read a P&L statement (Profit & Loss). Look at what makes your idea unique enough to withstand competitors trying to copy you and go slowly! What is your marketing plan? What are your goals? All great questions.
Entrepreneurs are unique, we do not fear failure, we just plunge ahead. I’m proud to be an entrepreneur.
It’s so tough for authors who want to market themselves and give their books a leg up when there’s so much competition for attention. How should authors think about setting their marketing apart?
First, we offer a free book-marketing guide on our website–this is for anyone who wants to market their book. It does work hand-in-hand with our program, however, there are 30 days of book marketing ideas.
Launching a book is a business. Ask yourself, who is going to finance the marketing campaign? Can you approach potential sponsors (a quick and easy way to sell books!)? Are you self-financing?
If so, it’s important to create a plan that includes: A book tour (libraries/bookstores), digital exposure (social media including ads on Amazon, FB, IG, etc.). TV/Radio appearances etc. Remember in today’s world you want serious influencers reading and talking about your book. That’s why I feel that this is an important layer of your marketing campaign. (That’s where Bedside Reading excels).
Examine how successful authors get their books out there. Follow the authors in your genre. One of the most important aspects of a book is a cover. Don’t do it yourself, unless you know what you are doing.
Do meet with professional book cover designers. Definitely ask for help from those who do this for a profession.
Anything else you’d like to add? The floor is yours!
Each author has to apply to be in our program before being accepted. All books are vetted first by our team, then by the hotels. I am inclusive and open-minded, however, I will not take any books that are political and books of faith. Even after a book has launched we have found that often the “buzz” or the “sizzle” has died down, and we are there to give the book another push in the marketplace.
I cannot emphasize this next point enough, one of the most important elements is the book’s cover. The cover must look professionally executed. Ask yourself, “Is this a book that a major publisher would publish?” If not, I’ll pass and you should re-think it.
I want to mention that our team is hands-on and enthusiastic with all of our authors and we deliver exactly what we promise. We don’t sell books, we market the author as a brand and the brand’s product is the book. I always tell people, our program is not for everyone, however, everyone must understand that Bedside Reading is an important layer in a book marketing campaign.
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