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Making Writers Great Again

January 20, 2016

Folks, I’m very, very, very pleased to announce the grand opening of my Donald J. Trump Writers Workshop. Together, we will determine the course of America and the world for many, many years to come. We will face challenges, we will confront hardships… wait a minute. That’s my inaugural speech, not my Writers Workshop description. Shit. Let me try it again.

Folks, I’m very, very, very pleased to announce the grand opening of my Donald J. Trump Writers Workshop. This is going to be huge. And, believe me, you’re gonna love it, everybody. You’re gonna love it.

Just like my sucessful popular Trump University, the Trump Writers Workshop will help graduates make a ton of money, while stepping over the strewn bodies of other writers. You’ll learn how to live just like me, with a big-ass house, cool looking cars and lots of chicks that you can grab wherever and whenever you want to, because you’ll be famous. Or how to grab men by the balls, if you’re a chick or tranny. Is that great, or what? read more

All Entries Business and Work The Arts

On Becoming a Successful Writer

January 19, 2016

Do you have a book in you? Most people think they do. Sometimes, more than one. If you’re ready to become a best-selling author, take a moment to review the steps below. These are just a few of hundreds of mechanics behind successfully selling books.

The steps below are divided into four areas: Before you begin writing, Developing your manuscript, Marketing and Follow-up and maintenance. The suggestions aren’t necessarily in order, so pick and choose which ones you want to use, and when to use them. The important thing is let technology and social media work for you behind the scenes, while you focus on other efforts that require in-person visits.

Getting started

There are at least three ways to see your book project through to publication:

  • Do everything yourself. This is the least expensive approach, with limited or no commitments to anyone other than yourself. It takes the most time, because unless you’re already familiar with the publishing industry, it has the steepest learning curve. You won’t have the benefit of others’ experience and you’ll invariably make mistakes – mistakes that can’t be repaired later.
  • Hire an independent publisher. Hiring an independent publisher gives you the flexibility of using your skills in conjunction with the publisher’s in-house professionals. You can pick and choose from a menu of items that include cover design, editing and marketing. Costs are usually affordable for quality results. They’ll also make sure your book has a valid ISBN, convert your manuscript into an attractive eBook and make sure your book appears on all the major book retailer sites.
  • Find a publisher. Finding a publisher who will take on your project is rare – especially for first-time authors. They have the means and the experience to make your project successful. However… they still won’t do everything for you. You’ll still need to market your work.

Regardless which direction you choose, you still have a lot of work ahead of you. Even well-established authors have to market books themselves.

Before you begin writing

  1. Research other titles currently on the market. How does your book differ from them? How are they the same?
  2. Determine your market share. Do you want to sell it to just relatives and close friends, people in your local area or around the world?
  3. Research book covers and size. Publishers will tell you that the most important element in book sales is a good cover design. Does it reach out and grab the reader? Does it stand out in a crowd of other books on a table of new releases? How about the size? Investigate what book size sells the best. Large, tabletop books are difficult for brick and mortar bookstores to stock and display. Postage is also high for large books.
  4. Register a marketable, meaningful domain name – or two.
  5. Create an email address that uses your domain name. Or, better yet, create several. You can use each of them to tell you how readers are reaching you. Under no circumstances, use Hotmail or Gmail – it’s the signature of a rank amateur.
  6. Have professional headshots taken. Make sure that they’re high-resolution and reflect your personality. Avoid using sports and selfies in your marketing efforts, unless they are pertinent to your title.
  7. Build a website and blog. A good place to start is WordPress, Weebly or Wix. If you’re not technically oriented, be prepared to devote a LOT of time until it’s finished. Your website should project a professional, accurate image of who you are and what you are selling. Tantalize your readers with excerpts from your book as well as new offerings. At the minimum, your website should include a link for your visitors to sign-up on a mailing list, your author biography, how to contact you (without posting your email address or telephone number), a book page and sample of our work.
  8. Install website statistics for your website, so you can determine what works and what doesn’t work for your book and its marketing approach.
  9. Build a Store page on your website for book sales.
  10. Determine your total budget. How much will you devote to book design and publication? How much can you afford to spend on marketing? Will you have to do everything yourself, or can you afford to hire seasoned professionals?
  11. Develop a marketing plan as early as possible. Who are you targeting? How many people are in this group? Are there any regional considerations? Does your book target a special niche, or will it appeal to everyone? Can you use special holidays, such as Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day or others?
  12. Back up your computer files. Use a service like Carbonite. The worst thing you can experience is a lost manuscript, cover letters, press releases, emails and graphic files.
  13. Develop an Elevator Script. An Elevator Script is a 30 second summary of your book, why it stands alone and why your readers should buy it. Commit this to memory.
  14. Submit your book to Baker & Taylor and Ingram book distributors. Most brick and mortal sellers buy their books from these two distributors. Look into others, as well. Even though they charge for their services, they’ll be able to reach businesses that are out of your reach. They’ll also free you to spend time on in-person efforts.

Developing your book

  1. Employ the services of a well-reviewed book cover designer. What about the back cover? Some people feel that back covers are more important than front covers. Check out what other writers have done.
  2. Solicit testimonials as early as possible – preferably before the book goes to the printer. You can use them in your back cover design. If you couldn’t secure testimonials before the initial printing, consider adding them for the future printings.
  3. Solicit celebrities to write the preface or introduction and print their name on the front cover.
  4. Stay away from fancy, ornate fonts. Use a point size that is easy to read for readers over the age of 40.
  5. Build a Table of Contents and Index.

Marketing your book

  1. Don’t be afraid to try anything.
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask. If you don’t ask, people can’t say yes.
  3. Be consistent and persistent. Just because one thing doesn’t work the first time, doesn’t mean it won’t work the next.
  4. Create accounts for all of the major social media engines: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and any others. Use them to tell the world what you’re doing, and your interests. Re-tweet comments using hashtags. Consider using a service like Hootsuite, so you can send one post that reaches multiple social media accounts. Three streams are available for free; additional streams are available by subscription.
  5. Create a Facebook page for your book. Never use your personal Facebook page to market your book to strangers. You can always link your book page to your personal page.
  6. Consider marketing your book to Amazon Global Services around the world, such as Australia, the United Kingdom and others. Be sure you have eBooks available at these markets.
  7. Create several Facebook Ads. Adjust the keywords to see what are most effective. You can easily touch consumers all over the U.S., Europe and Australia with a single ad.
  8. Maintain at least a dozen copies (more if you can afford it) to send as marketing materials. Send them to Journals, magazines, radio stations and book reviewers.
  9. Make sure you have PDF, epub, and mobi versions of your manuscript. To save money and time, send them instead of printed copies of your book to reviewers, if they’ll accept it.
  10. Schedule book signings through local bookstores, bookstore chains, local libraries or other retail venues that agree to working with you. Be prepared with several dozen printed copies (for sale and autograph), a sign-up sheet for your email list, postcards, bookmarks and other swag.
  11. Record simple, short, audio or video files where you read excerpts of your book and post them on YouTube and your website. Wavepad Sound Editor is a good place to start. Enlist friends to video your personal readings and messages. Before publishing your videos, brush up on production skills.
  12. Write a powerful press release. If you’re not sure how to write one, get help from the PR resources, mentioned below.
  13. Speak at meetings like Lions Club, Rotary International, local Chamber of Commerce or other gatherings of people – especially meetings where you already know people. They’ll usually say yes.
  14. Create and advertise book giveaway contests. Stipulate a short time period (10 days) and describe what the winner will get. Second runner up?
  15. Schedule special events at libraries, retail outlets and other venues where you think the people will be receptive to your book.
  16. Create an email list and post a subscription list on your website and blog. Constant Contact and Mailchimp are the most popular and easy to use.
  17. Purchase email lists of independent book sellers, libraries and others. com is a good place to start. They’re very reasonable and you can reach thousands of potential customers at one time. Note: be prepared for a substantial number of dead ends. It’s a risk you can’t avoid. The best email addresses are the ones people submit themselves.
  18. Register with promotion sites like Mediabistro, Authormedia, and Smith Publicity. Some are free. Others aren’t.
  19. Submit posts to other authors’ posts. Invite them to post to your blog.
  20. Post book reviews for other people’s books on their website. Make sure that your electronic signature points to your domain and blogsite.
  21. Attend in person, writer’s conferences and other events where you can rub shoulders with other writers and publishers.
  22. Register with Help a Reporter Out (HARO) as an industry expert in your field. Keep checking and respond whenever you find a good fit.
  23. Schedule interviews on television and radio shows. I appeared on NBC News, The Hollis Chapman Show and The Author Show. Most, if not all, are free. See if you can buy a copy of your interview and post it on your website and social media pages.
  24. If you have a marketing budget, research affordable sites like FIVERR.
  25. Strive to connect to readers by attending book signings (other authors as well as your own), book club meetings, writing groups, school visits, special workshops offered through libraries, community colleges and literary readings. Contact your university Alumni Association and bookstore to see if they’re carry your book and be interested in hosting a special event.
  26. Take the opportunity to promote your book when on vacation. It may qualify as a tax deduction.
  27. Promote your book on Bookbub.com and Ereader News Today.
  28. Register your book with book consignments at popular bookstores. Boulder Books and Tattered Cover in Colorado have reasonable consignment programs that cost around $150.
  29. Start a newsletter for subscribers of your site.
  30. Post a FAQ page on your website to help people understand why you wrote your book and why they should buy it. Your answers may resonate with potential buyers.
  31. Conduct Virtual Book Tours. See Enchanted Book Tours.
  32. Register with Radio-locator.com to see where you can schedule radio interviews.
  33. Share your stories and excerpts on Wattpad.
  34. Send hand-written Thank You notes to people who have helped you the most.
  35. Create and enhance your Amazon Author Page.
  36. Write an appealing and effective Author Biography.
  37. Have friends host parties and book signings to help you get the word out.
  38. Visit local retailers in person and ask if they’ll carry copies of your book. Be sure to keep track of all sales activity, including a weekly or monthly maintenance schedule.
  39. Blog on Amazon’s Blog at Amazon Connect.
  40. Register with Talkwalker and net to monitor your social media activity.
  41. Search Press Clubs to see who can help you.
  42. If your website or blog is through WordPress, install the Mybooktable plug-in.
  43. Create an abbreviated ebook you send to potential clients for free. Include sample chapters, FAQ and other material to motivate them to buy the full book.
  44. Donate books to retirement homes, hospitals, libraries, camps, doctors’ offices and hair salons – anywhere people have time on their hands with nothing to do.
  45. Register with Novel Market to see how you can participate in podcasts.
  46. Write articles or an advice column for local newspapers and include your contact information in the published footer.
  47. Create and give away free book-related swag, such as T-shirts, coffee mugs, pens and keychains. Keep your book in front of buyers. Look at sites like net.
  48. Add a book related signature to your email.
  49. Order “Autographed Copy” stickers to put on books at special events. You can find them at PSprint.
  50. Get your book on Amazon, Goodreads, Booksamillion, Barnes & Noble and others.
  51. Enter contests. Start with the Colorado Independent Publishers Association. Other good choices are Literary Classics Book Awards or the CLC Top Honors Awards.
  52. Submit your manuscript or book to as many book reviewers as you can afford. Many of them are free – some charge. At the very least, include Amazon book reviewers,and Kirkus Reviews,
  53. Conduct book signings. Coordinate them with special occasions like holidays or bookstore special events (e.g. Author’s Night).
  54. Share any relevant experiences you have on Author.Pub – especially if you have unique, marketable skills.
  55. Submit your book to the following author promotion sites:

Following-up and maintenance

  1. Monitor your website statistics. What do they tell you? What needs adjustment?
  2. Tweak your Facebook Ads. See what parameters need to be changed to bring in more visits.
  3. Continue to visit retail outlets where you’ve successfully sold books in the past. Don’t depend on them to call you when they’re out of books.
  4. Look for advertising specials in local newspaper.
  5. Write a column, using your special knowledge.
  6. Monitor your social media accounts, daily.
  7. Continue searching for unique, creative ways to market your work. The publishing business constantly changes.

Writing a book is easy. Selling your book can be challenging, frustrating, time consuming, but rewarding if you plan your marketing strategy effectively. Don’t be afraid to ask anyone for anything. Be creative and note what works and what doesn’t work, so you’ll know what to do for your next book. read more

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