Survey Says…

What’s in a title? That’s my question, well part of it, to you. How important is the title in selling the book? Or is a good book cover more important to generate sales? I’ve been asking myself these questions for some time now and have decided to ask you, my readers (all seven of you, ha ha), what you think. I’m contemplating changing the title of my current novel, Rescue on White Thunder. I’m also going to put it into paperback and have a new cover design. Does the title make you want to read the book? Or does it seem a bit ingenuous to you? I’d really like to hear what you have to say. I will remove the eBook from Amazon (too many issues, I won’t go into here) and move it over to Lulu Press, where I have my nonfiction nutrition book . A former classmate once told me she thought the title sounded like a Hardy Boys’ novel (ouch). Do you think that’s true?

So I’ve set up a survey to hear what you think about the title and whether I should change it. I would greatly appreciate your input, readers, to help me decide. I definitely will upgrade the cover work as the original, in my opinion, looks cheesy. That’s what I get for having a graphics student do it instead of a graphics professional. You get what you pay for, right?

I’ve also included three options for a tag line, one which I already use. Feel free to comment on which one you like, if any.

Thanks for helping me out.

 

Tag/Secondary Line (I like to use these):

A Novel Adventure (no change)

A Braddock Novel

A Braddock Adventure

Book Promotion Tips

 

I didn’t make a notation at the bottom of this list, so I don’t remember where I got the information. Sorry. I’ve also added advice (Note) and links based on personal experience.

So you have written a book and had it published. Congratulations. Now you face the challenge of what to do next. Many authors think that marketing is a job for the publisher so they sit back and wait for the royalties to roll in. You might have a very long wait. The market for books is extremely crowded and most books do not sell well. However, there are a number of actions the author can take to move from writing to marketing:

  1. Send review copies to all the journals and magazines that review books in your genre. This is something that most publishers do for you but if you’re self-published (like me), this is all on you. Don’t forget the many online sites that review books. (Note: might want to ask them first, see if they accept review copies, as there might be a fee involved or a very long wait list.)
  2. Get friends, colleagues, clients or anyone who likes your book to place reviews on Amazon and other online book stores. Amazon is highly influential and the reviews matter, so encourage anyone who says they enjoyed your book to place a review. 
  3. Offer yourself for interviews on radio stations. Most radio stations/podcasts are looking for interesting interviews and the author of a newly published book has a good chance of getting on air. (Note: I’ve done some good interviews via Radio Guest List. They have a HUGE database of  a variety  of podcast shows – in other words, something for everyone, and are always looking for guests. The audience size varies, so check the websites of the podcasts where you want to be a guest for guest criteria.)
  4. Create a web page for the book. Ideally you should have a separate website with an address that features the book title. Now you can exchange links and drive traffic to the site with comments, blogs, quotes and extracts. Be sure to show people how they can buy the book. Encourage user feedback, comments and reviews.
  5. Offer sample chapters as free downloads. Take a couple of your best chapters and turn them into pdf files. Let people download them for free. Think of this as the equivalent of letting people browse through your book at a bookstore. (Note: With self-publishing sites like Lulu, this is offered with each published item.)
  6. Use material from the book in your blog. Start a blog and quote from the book. Lift sections and acknowledge the book as the source. Build a community of interest around the topics in the book.
  7. Review other books in this field. Become a reviewer on Amazon. Use your own name accompanied by ‘author of the book……’. Review other books and when people read your reviews some will click through to your book. 
  8. Start an email newsletter. Encourage people to subscribe on the website and then send out an occasional newsletter with interesting new material in this book’s field. But you cannot just plug your book – you have to add value with new information and comment.
  9. Give away copies to the right people. Use the book as your calling card. Give copies to potential and existing clients. Encourage them to read it and pass it on. 
  10. Offer books as prizes. Local radio shows, magazines or societies will often be interested in running competitions and will give you valuable publicity if you give them a few books to give away as prizes. (Note: I did this on Goodreads – they offer the opportunity to do ‘giveaways’ and it’s good publicity.)

Some authors do book signings in local bookstores but unless you are well-known (or have a good relationship with the store owner), this activity is unlikely to produce worthwhile results. Finally, you could consider using the book as a platform for launching your speaking career. You will need a different set of skills to succeed here but the book can make an excellent starting point and every talk will help sell more books. (Note: I teach my nutrition book as a seminar/workshop in local community colleges and adult learning programs.)

 

Writers: Do You Podcast?

Are you a writer? Do you podcast? Have you been considering doing a podcast? Have you considered doing a podcast on your writing? I could go on with these questions. For some time now, I’ve been considering doing a podcast. But every time I look into it, I become overwhelmed by all the technical aspects (due to the fact that I’m NOT the least bit tech-savvy). The whole process of putting together (producing) a podcast, uploading the podcast to a hosting site, making it available to Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), learning Audacity or Garageband (Macs only)…gives me the willies. I’ve been told more than once I should be speaking to audiences and I admit I feel very comfortable talking into a mic (I’ve recorded before). But the thought of me having to do ALL of it without a producer or at least a friend with some broadcasting know-how seems a hurdle too huge to jump at the moment. But the urge grows within me.

Currently, an average of 1 BILLION (that’s right) people listen to podcasts, and roughly 47% of Americans listen to radio, according to Edison Research and Triton Digital statistics. Think about it; we have the whole world at our disposal if we can find the right stories to tell, find the right niche to fill. That’s the tricky part, I imagine. With millions already podcasting out there (and the numbers grow each year), how to not be the veritable needle in the haystack with your message? I suppose it all goes back to the same process we go through with our writing and the marketing of our books/work.

So I Googled podcasting sites and a here’s a short list of some good ones: Podbean, Libsyn (I personally like this one), Buzzsprout (like this one, too), Podomatic, Sound Cloud, Conclusion, and Archive.Org. Podbean wants $200 per month to let you monetize your podcast (in other words, ask for a ‘donation’ so you can afford to keep producing shows); that seems a bit steep for my taste so I’m looking elsewhere for an affordable option.

Buzzsprout has a page, How to Make a Podcast, where they literally walk you through every step of putting together a podcast and it’s jam-packed with good information. For writers unsure of which topics to cover in their podcasts, here are two of several suggestions from the same page:

  • Repurpose Your Blog Content Are you a blogger? Finding a great podcast ideas is as close as your blog. Take your readers’ favorite posts, add extra content, and *presto* it’s a podcast. Bonus: you’ve already tested this content and know it matches your demographic’s interests.

  • Recreate Popular Content With Your Spin Even if you don’t have a blog, you can use a similar strategy. What is your target audience reading and listening to? Improve it! See lots of complaints on popular posts? Create a podcast that provides the missing pieces.

This is the year I think I will make the leap from writing blogs on writing (and other topics) to recording podcasts discussing a variety of topics (social, environmental, and economic issues) that will hopefully cause folks to think more critically. I miss dialectic and want to create a podcast where I invite intelligent discussion, discourse, and argument. And in the process, perhaps, create a small revolution (change) in the way we perceive this world and our places in it. 

Remember:

“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius. And it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.”

Unknown

Writing as One Profit Center

I was in the mood to read a book today so I snagged a book I’ve been working my way through from the bookshelf. I’ve mentioned this book before – Making a Living Without a Job by Barbara J. Winters. I’m in a bit of a pickle at the moment (I won’t bore you with the details but suffice it to say that my life will be turned upside down as of end of this month, which could turn good or bad). I’ve been racking my brain on how to create more of what Barbara calls Multiple Profit Centers or MPCs. It’s her theory that by creating MPCs, you increase your potential for prosperity and a more balanced life. Each profit center/idea/ job/entrepreneurial adventure has its own rhythm; over time, you create a steady stream of income because while one or two MPCs may experience a lull in business, one or two other of your MPCs will be on the upswing and generate income.

She even mentions getting paid to write articles. Personally, I’ve not had much luck in this area (the getting paid part). In a previous blog, I wrote about getting exposure for your work via trade journals. In my experience, this type of exposure doesn’t pay (if it does, please let me know how – and now!). But I would enjoy writing articles for other publications; problem is, I’m not sure how to go about doing that (query advice anyone?). If any of you have had some success in this area, please share your experience and expertise so that we who have not yet tasted that kind of success can take a step closer.

Something else in her book got me thinking – and it made perfect sense. This is from her chapter on creating MPCs and is a quote from author and former London Business School professor Charles Handy (she quotes him in her newsletters), who advocates developing MPCs:

“Think of it this way, ” he advises. “You will have a portfolio of work like an architect has, or like your stock portfolio, no prudent investor puts all his savings into one stock, and no sensible business goes after only one customer. Yet that’s what you’ve been doing with your work and talent all these years….Now is your chance to go ‘portfolio’: to diversify your interests and do some things for money, some because they interest you, some out of love or kindness, and some for the sheer hell of it. And, moreover, it’s your chance to flex your portfolio to leave you time for all those other things – for travel, for discovery, for golf, for dining.”

Wow. That brought me back to one of my early blogs, Be Careful What You Wish For. I just realized I have already created MPCs, except that they don’t yet pay the rent. I guess I need to come up with a few more MPCs to cover the downswing of the current ones. It’s just that I feel lost amid the millions of voices already out there clambering for everyone’s business. All I can come up with at the moment is that I (and you, too) need to find a way to STAND OUT by doing something DIFFERENT with my (and your) skill set. Only then can my writing become a Multiple Profit Center that truly pays (emotionally and financially) – and supports my no-more-nine-to-five lifestyle.

What’s your MPC? 

Losing Your Mind on Social Media?

This morning I came across an interesting article in one of my LinkedIn Groups, Book Marketing (amidst so many others that are not – at least to me). The author, Kirsten Oliphant, writes about the overwhelm many of us experience these days with Social Media (SM) and how to choose which ones will work best for each of us. As I read the article, knots formed in my stomach. I admit I’m not tech-savvy in the world of SM and just reading about it gives me the willies. She makes a good point, though, at the beginning, about struggling with mastering SM and balancing the marketing we do there with finding time to write.

She provides three options: 1) Hire out (don’t know about you but I certainly can’t afford this option), 2) gripe and procrastinate (welcome to my world), and 3) master and manage (oh, here come the willies again). While she makes valid arguments for all three, I’m focused on the third, master and manage. If only I could learn, understand, and utilize at least a couple of SM to my advantage as a writer.

Good news: Kirsten provides a free resource guide describing many platforms in detail, so that even I, the un-savvy, can understand and utilize SM. She also provides sensible advice: choose one or two platforms you’re comfortable with and start with those. And maybe use only those, as she does advocate not going hog crazy and trying to be everywhere and everything on SM. This makes sense to me, as it allows for time to write (and work a full-time job since writing has not yet completely replaced the J-O-B lifestyle).

Still, I’ve not heard of some of the SM sites she mentions and I’m likely to stay with what’s familiar (Facebook, etc.). I’m toying with opening a Twitter account; have any of you found it to be useful for your published works? I’m just not a big fan of being “followed” by anyone, and evidently I have to follow others first for that to happen. And by nature I tend not to follow others – rather, I prefer to take my own, less-traveled road, so I don’t know if Twitter is right for me. Which means I need to read her booklet in more detail, because who knows what I may discover. Perhaps I’ll find a SM site that doesn’t overwhelm or confuse me; perhaps I’ll discover an inroad to a new marketing adventure. Regardless, I know I’ll learn something that can help me to the next step in the process, all the while not losing my mind over the there-are-too-many-options-to-choose-from menu of Social Media.

You can check out the full article here.

Showcase Your Work: Trade Journals

I don’t know about you, but I’m overwhelmed by all the internet options for marketing books. Where to begin? Which to choose? How much to spend? On a weekly basis, I scour newly discovered sites hour after hour, page by page…then I’m back to feeling overwhelmed, because there are far too many options. I’m driving myself crazy with agida (see this  post) while trying to keep track of all the marketing options and whether or not they’ll work for me.

Then a book blog I subscribe to sent an interesting post this week on marketing our work in, of all places, trade journals. What a great idea! idea light bulb

Why didn’t I think of that before? Oh, wait…I have…at least once…which is why my work (actually, an excerpt of my nutrition book) is currently published in Qi Journal magazine. Based on the blog’s suggestions, I opened my ‘ideas notebook’ titled “The best way to get something done is to begin” and started making a list of trade publications in my field. Why didn’t I think of this before? 

 

Qi Journal Summer 2016

All too often, I get caught up with and excited by the new opportunity and forget to continue down that same road to increase my chances of success. Do any of you experience this? You know, the can’t-see-the-forest-for-the-trees kind of thinking? Or maybe the internet is finally frying my gray cells to the point of no return from all the TMI (too much information)…

My trade journal list is a work in progress; I have to do a bit more research but am hopeful of the success I will have, based on my good luck with Qi Journal. When their Summer issue came out, a fellow acupuncturist contacted and informed me that she loved the article/excerpt and purchased a copy of my book. It was the validation (from a professional colleague) I sought for work well done. And it has provided the confidence to submit my work to other journals in my profession.

If you don’t have a ‘profession’ to speak of, don’t be afraid to send your work to trade publications that are related to your subject matter, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction. Take a chance on an area where your target market is already defined – and ripe for the picking.

 

 

 

 

Success and Failure: The Yang and Yin of Writing (& Life)

I’m more than a bit of a fatalist. I start each day at my computer by checking a particular set of websites: my blog (Mestengo Books), my Fan pages (ROWT, 5 Element Nutrition), and my LinkedIn page. Before I do all that, I check my “fate” for the day at ifate – I leave it up to the Universe as to which type of fortune-telling card shows up (I-Ching, Tarot, or Runes). Today, it was an I-Ching reading that I found relevant and is my lesson for the next twenty-four hours: Hexagram 47 (this link provides a fuller explanation).

In summary, the lesson of Hexagram 47 for today is about oppression and hope – that even during difficult or bad times we must dig down deep, not fear failure (the inevitable downswing of the life/writing-cycle), quietly embrace it, and carry on with the understanding (hope) that all will be better again (the inevitable upswing of the life/writing-cycle). Does that sound like your life or your writing? It certainly does mine. 

It got me to thinking – since I’m licensed in Chinese medicine and I see the world through the lens of Yin/Yang relationships (Universal Law of Unity of Opposites) – that oppression, defined in the hexagram as “a form of troublesome worries,” is a kind of Yin/failure that sooner or later will turn into Yang/success in the cycle of life/writing. Some days the words flow, other days they don’t. Today I struggle with finding the right words for this blog while I wrestle with a work-related decision that must be made. I can’t wait for that upswing…

I’ve also been struggling with marketing my new book (due mainly to budget constraints and lack of marketing acumen) and am looking at non-mainstream options. I know it won’t be a NY Times bestseller and I’m okay with that – it’s not what I really want anyway, because it’s not where I fit. It’s been a slow climb. Recently, however, I’ve had the good fortune to be published in Qi Journal, a wonderful publication highlighting Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Chinese medicine, martial arts and Chinese culture in general. As a result, sales of my book increased. And I’ve been invited to publish with them again (and possibly ongoing). It was a chance email I’d sent to  them inquiring about writing an article for them (because I was looking for different avenues for book marketing) and ended up with the opportunity to publish a portion of my book. Talk about Yin moving into Yang!

Failure  happens to everyone. It’s how you handle the failure. Ride it out, like a big bump in the road and you’ll come out the other side wiser, and perhaps, more successful. In whatever way that means for you.

failure should be our teacher

 

 

Banish Elevator Pitch Shame – 5 Secrets to Crafting an Intriguing Intro

How to craft an elevator speech bursting with personality that appeals to your ideal audience – perfect for coaches, consultants & personality-driven biz.

Banish Elevator Pitch Shame – 5 Secrets to Crafting an Intriguing Intro

Your Elevator Pitch is BORING. Do Something About It Now.

The typical elevator pitch goes like so:

I help the blah blah blah do the blah blah blah… YAWN!

Does that sound like yours?

Are you excited about sharing your elevator speech, or do you drag your feet in those networking events hoping you’d never have to whip it out?

After spending 6 weeks agonizing over an elevator pitch, how many times have you actually used it?

Is whatever script you landed on so freakin’ boring and formulaic that you’d rather dress like captain underpants than recite your elevator pitch that makes you sound like everybody else?

I hear you.

 

Source: Banish Elevator Pitch Shame – 5 Secrets to Crafting an Intriguing Intro

Armchair Experts and Me

More thoughts on conscious writing:

What can I say, I’m on a roll….

I’m on LinkedIn and so are a lot of other people. A LOT. Probably explains why the few groups I joined  seem to be brimming with what I call “armchair experts” (any more than that seems a waste of time and TMI for me). Don’t misunderstand, some (perhaps many, I haven’t taken a poll) are successful with their work. But many (or perhaps some, I still haven’t taken a poll) are not – but think they should be, based on their expertise. (And why haven’t I heard of these experts?)

One of the groups  – Book Marketing – sends me a weekly digest of (too many) topics being discussed. I’m amazed (and often overwhelmed) by the varying opinions (remember, we’re all experts on our opinions) on how to market one’s work, publish to the masses, find that secret to getting the world to recognize our work, etc. Sometimes the advice seems ridiculous, sometimes it helps. Mostly you have to “read and weed” through the junk to find the proverbial needle in the haystack that will help advance your writing/work. 

One of my top pet peeves is (and has always been) people who talk like they know when they don’t. I refer to them as “armchair experts (AE).” Here in the U.S., the number of AEs appears to have grown exponentially with the advent of social media sites. Or is it my overactive imagination, mixed with a pinch of cynicism and a dash of arrogance? With so many of these AEs online, it seems they have solutions to my problems – both personal and professional. In my (expert) opinion, there is a lot of preaching about what one “should do” but how many are asking “Do you want my advice?” in the first place?  I’m reminded of a poem of sorts I have stashed away somewhere in storage, on the definition of a friend, and this is one piece from it: a true friend is someone who does not give advice without your request.

That’s called preaching.

One definition of preaching (as a verb and in secular text) is “to do this in an obtrusive or tedious way.” So i looked up obtrusive (an adjective, for context): “having or showing a disposition to obtrude, as by imposing oneself or one’s opinions on others.” (I added all the italics.) How many people start their sentences (verbal or written) with some form of “you should…”? The moment I hear that sentence, the tone in the voice, and watch the body language, I think – uh, oh, here it comes. The preach. The “I-know-just-what-you-need-though-you-didn’t-ask-me” monologue. No faster way to get me to leave the table, the room, or the website/blog. If you haven’t taken the time to ask (then truly listen), then you don’t know what I need (or want). You can’t assume I want to hear what you have to say, no matter how wise or beneficial your words may be. Let me first ask.

It’s rather like a famous diet (yes, more conscious eating metaphors) – The Paleo Diet, The Virgin Diet, The South Beach Diet, and on, and on… As with these famous “diets,” some of us will succeed in following the diet, others will not. And some will find the courage to take our own roads with our writing and learn the accompanying lessons, since it’s about the journey, not the destination, after all.

Any thoughts? (Yes, I’m asking…hee hee)

Conscious Writing as Important as Conscious Eating

Conscious Writing – the must-have recipe for success

On the Fan page for my nutrition book, I posted a blog on conscious eating. In writing that blog, an idea formed in my mind that we, as writers, must also write consciously. Not that we’re sleeping while we write, mind you; it’s more about being present, relevant, and aware of our work in quality and quantity. We’re all so busy racing to Twitter, to post to Pinterest, Google+ and too many other online venues to get our work noticed that we each lose something along the way. Much of our vocabulary has changed to a texting-style spelling (you, too is now u2, and so on) to save time and in the process, some have lost the ability to express thoughts and ideas clearly. Hence the concept of ‘conscious writing.’

A food recipe lists the ingredients, the quantity of each ingredient, and how many people it will serve. Conscious writing is no different. Your main topic is the recipe and each point you make to support your topic is one of the ingredients. Once all the points are covered, you have a recipe for a complete article/book/blog. As for how many people it will serve, that will depend on your ability to market your writing – be it a blog, a book, etc. Also, the quality of the recipe/story needs to be relevant and interesting. Don’t forget about good grammar and spelling (as they too, have all but disappeared from many a blog/article) – use spell check and thesaurus religiously to weed out homonyms and incomplete or run-on sentences. (In other words, get out of the habit of writing as you speak.)

In a recent blog on Puttylike, a website for self-described “multipotentialites,” I read an article (several times already today) titled, “I saw it as the one defining principle of my life that kept me from achieving greatness.” It’s a must-read for anyone out there who’s not sure where they fit in the bigger scheme of things, especially in the world of writing.

That being said, I’d like to add my opinion (remember, I’m an expert on it) that the more varied a life we live, the more interesting our writing will be, since we have a wider range of subject matter from which to choose. Unlike all those so-called experts who spend their adult lives specializing in only ONE area of interest and are unable to see how their expertise is connected to many other areas, our recipes/stories are both unique and relevant.

And hopefully conscious.

Conscious Marketing

And it dawned on me that marketing, advertising and PR are a part of that recipe, the conscious writing process. How can I give my work to the world if I don’t know how to package it? What are the ingredients (a dash of marketing, a sprinkle of advertising, and two tablespoons of PR) that make up a good dish/story? It’s different for each of us. Every now and then, someone shares a few unique approaches/recipes for success. In her blog, Build Book Buzz, Sandra Beckwith shares with her readers a wonderful little success story about how one woman came up with some different ways to sell herself and her book. You can read about her unique approaches here.

I met with a friend on Tuesday to brainstorm and he told me about a friend of his who wanted to get her book into Barnes and Noble. So what did she do? Did she take the traditional route of hawking her wares to the book buyers? Not even close. She simply walked into a local B&N store and left a copy of her book on a shelf. Then, when someone went to buy the book, they couldn’t because it wasn’t in the system. The clerk had to add the book to the system and they had to buy copies, since there was a demand.

Talk about conscious marketing!