Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Make Time to Write

Do you feel pressed for time? I do. I have multiple projects going on. I once read in the book The Secret that it’s all a matter of perspective. You always have enough time. We make time for things we prioritize. When it comes to keeping everything flowing and getting it all done I keep daily, weekly and monthly goals. I started this habit in college because I was taking up to 18 units and I needed to keep track of homework. Turned out this technique became invaluable to helping me to become an effective project manager.

Another technique I apply is to keep in mind at all times I love what I do. I try to avoid feeling overwhelmed by just sitting down and getting things done one at a time. Even though I have work that is due all of the time I make it a top priority to make time enough to work on my own book The Abused. When it comes to ensuring that my precious time gets applied to my own work too I just do it. Here are some tips to help you effectively manage your time and meet goals. While these tips are for writers it applies to all projects and professions.

Writing – if you have a writing project decide on either a time or day or page count to meet your goals. Stephen King has said he writes 8 pages a day and then calls it quits for the day. You can set aside an hour a day if that suits you better. I do. I try to write when my day has ended. I will write until I feel like I’ve hit my stop point.

Give yourself permission to do what you need to do. I feel stressed all of the time if I’m not constantly working on client’s work. I realized I was creating self-stress, which is unnecessary.

Always take action. If you’re doing something vs. thinking about doing something you will feel much better. The minute I sit down and take action I always feel better.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Tips for Great Storytellers!

I got asked a really great question by a fellow hiker, “What’s the difference between reading and writing?” He was walking behind us talking to his companion about math. They were doing math formulas. I turned and said, “Are you really solving math problems on the trail?” “Yes,” he replied enthusiastically. I admitted I was a writer, and math wasn’t “my thing.” Then he asked that specific question. My answer:

When you read someone is sharing her imagination with you. When you write you’re sharing your imagination with the world.

I like that idea, don’t you? I know many of my readers on this list are writers. We have the unique talent to tell a story in the written word and give to others. What a unique gift? I am grateful I can give something that amazing to the world. As writers we leave behind a written legacy of gifts to the world.

Speaking of writing, my new book The Abused just came back from the first round of editing. So far, the focus group readers have used words like “great” and “awesome” to describe the story. I’m pleased. The book is my most complicated story to date. I have over a dozen characters in the story. I put a great deal of attention on ensuring it was clear who is who. I don’t enjoy books where I have to flip back to figure out characters.

So, for today’s newsletter I want to share some tips and tricks about writing fiction.

Develop your characters through unique voices and descriptions. Have you ever read a book where everyone sounds the same? It makes it hard to know who is talking when they sound generic. No one talks exactly the same. Listen to how people actually talk. Use your imagination to come up with interesting, unique characters with different dialects and accents. If you’re really good at your reader will know just by the dialog whose doing the talking.

Be colloquial in the dialog but not the narrative. You can use colloquial phrases and slang in the dialog all you want. You should avoid street language in your narrative. If you do use a certain expression put it in quotes, which shows your audience it was purposeful.

Profanity is fine when it’s used in character. I have profanity in my books, and some readers might object. I use profanity to develop characters. Reality is we live in a much coarser world than Shakespeare. I’m willing to bet that Shakespeare wouldn’t object to saying “Where for art thou shithead?” LOL … totally kidding. My point is, you can’t write about a street thug who speaks proper English unless, of course, it’s a point about the character. “Keep it real” means just like it sounds.

Interest in erotica has waned the last few years. Moods shift. Sex and sexuality though are important in the adult world. I’m never opposed to writing about sex when it’s an important element to a scene or story. First, I’m not uptight or concerned about sex. I expect adults to read my books. Part of adult life involves sex. I do know the difference between sex for the sake of creating thrills and sex for the sake of telling a story. I use sex for the sake of storytelling. My feeling is readers of thrillers are inevitably reading about violence. It seems ridiculous to me that we live in a culture that won’t show nudity but has no problem showing murder. So, my private opinion is we’re all naked at one time or the other – get over it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Media Pitching No-No's

Sometimes when we’re working on certain projects, I send out queries through Help a Reporter Out (HARO). These queries put me on the receiving end of public relations pitches. In my business as a publisher and marketing specialist I spend half my day doing public relations activities. I often pitch the media myself. I thought I would take this opportunity to share some tips I’ve learned from being on the receiving end of pitches.

Here are things that DON’T work:

One-line pitches show laziness on the publicist’s part to not even attempt to convince me while his/her client is ideal for my project. I actually feel annoyed when I read a pitch that goes like this: my client Joe is perfect for your project. You can see that gives me nothing to go on. And the inherent expectation is for me to do my “homework” on Joe and be convinced.

Suggesting I watch this video or go to this website or read all of the articles is another sign of sloppy public relations work. Imagine this one: I’m sorting through 100 pitches (true for this project). Instead of convincing me why your client is perfect you’re asking me to cull through your client’s materials to make a determination. As noted, I’m sorting through 100 pitches – most of which don’t ask me to do additional research. Think about it. Am I going to give your client whom I have no idea is an ideal fit (because you didn’t tell me) an extra 30 minutes or so of my valuable time to research if he/she works for me or not?

Here are things that DO work:

A well-written pitch that builds the case for why your client should be featured wins. This means your pitch is well developed and thought out. You’ve written something that makes sense and convinces me your client fits.

Further your pitch answers the query/question and targets what is wanted. Your well-written pitch shows you understand what I am looking for in a client to feature. You read the requirements – and you show me why your client meets the requirements.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Your Book Makes You a Subject Matter Expert

Is your book or product or service just not picking up the momentum you had hoped to achieve? Don’t give up on it. You know what I just said about thinking differently? You have to think about new and inventive ways to ignite that important sales spark.

In a recent conversation with DB Stearns about writing a documentary based on his research done for his Harmonic Wars book series, an interesting discussion sparked. I told him that the documentary wasn’t necessary. He was being invited on radio shows to discuss the research put into the book series. I explained he just needed to reposition his platform of which the book is a part.

Do you understand what is “repositioning”? When you reposition your product you are finding a new angle to pitch. In Doug’s case (and I’m assuming since I didn’t ask), he was pitching a new novel about an interesting topic. What he needed to do since his responses from the media wanted to know more about the “interesting” topic was focus on the topic and position himself as a subject matter expert.

Do you know what people means by a subject matter expert? To some degree all of you are subject matter experts on something. Whether it’s parenthood or what you do in your career. When it comes to your book whatever the book’s topic can make you a subject matter expert on that topic. This concept applies to nonfiction and fiction.

Do you know that even having a book makes you a subject matter expert? Yes, the minute you publish a book on a particular subject you become a subject matter expert. What value or benefit does this give you? Here is the fabulous news from your publicist and guru (me … LOL). As a subject matter expert you can then approach media and pitch your expertise to be a guest on their shows or be featured in an article. The interview isn’t going to be about the book per se. The discussion will be on the topic at hand.

Your first pitch campaign can be just about your book, but sooner or later you will run out of reviewers to approach. What next? This is the value of the subject matter expert. Every time someone wants to talk about that subject you become the go-to expert and at the end of every interview you plug the book.

Do you have a fiction book and you’re rubbing your head asking, “How can a ‘story’ like mine make me an expert?” I’ll give you an example. My forthcoming novel The Abused is about addiction and rehabilitation. Albeit, the story unfolds in titillating style, as one of the addicts kills off the others. However, all of the time and research I put into the psychology behind addiction makes me a subject matter expert on that topic. So once I’ve run out book reviewers to approach I will be able to discuss that important topic.

So ask yourself: How can I give my book, product or service a second media life? I promise you that every single book in our catalog has that opportunity. Just brainstorm and think about it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Tips to Get Your Book Sales Sparked

I am on a number of groups on Linked-In and I receive all sorts of newsletters from Kindle/Amazon and Amazon U among others. I read the topic always looking for something to share with you or remark about. A recent topic that caught my attention was called "What to do if your book isn't selling". This topic made me think about it. I wanted to share my own opinions and insights.
The first question to ask is: Did my book ever pick up any sales momentum in the first place? One of three things typically happens when it comes to book sales. 1) The book never picked up any sales momentum and only enjoyed a handful of sales or 2) It picked up sketchy sales momentum or 3) It did pick up momentum and then when promotion died it enjoyed only a trickle of sales. I'm going to address each of these scenarios one at a time.
No. 1: No sales. Some books never catch on, period. I know for the authors this can be a disappointment. No matter what the author does he or she just can't get book to catch on. Twenty reviews later and still only a small number of sales resulted. What should you do? You might try a few quick fixes such as a new book cover. Sometimes a book cover just isn't working. Don't be afraid to switch it up. I've seen books increase sales simply by switching up the book cover. However, if it has been at least a year and you've promoted your book to the degree it has received media exposure, my advice: do a second book and move on. A second book's success can spark interest in the author's other works and may recharge the first book's sales.
No. 2: Spotty sales momentum: this means you might not be promoting or getting enough attention on your book. You have a record of some sales and that shows potential. If you're getting spotty sales, switch up your promotional method. First, you must identify what promotion has been done. Second, identify what new areas you might be able to promote and receive exposure. For example, maybe you got spotty sales by promoting on social media. Now you might put your attention on mainstream book reviews. Different media has its own target audience. Your target audience and the ability to reach them is the most important driver of sales. If you're not reaching your target audience it's likely your sales are spotty at best. The exact media exposure to your target market increases your chances tenfold of achieving sales. We call this the "sweet spot" and sometimes it takes a lot of experimenting to figure out what media is going to touch just the right spot.
No. 3: We'll call this the "flash in the pan" with a lot of potential. One major exposure in national media often ignites a flurry of sales. This flurry of sales can push your book right up to no. #1 on Kindle and No. #1 on Amazon print. Several of our books enjoyed this sudden "flash" from one prime spot on national media. Here is the rub: unless the exposure continues those sales will fade away. You have to keep promoting and not relax and ride one wave. The wave will crash, and it will likely crash after maybe a few weeks. What these quick sales did prove, however is that your book has the potential to sell big if you keep promoting.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

5 Book Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

When promoting a new product or book there are typical mistakes that can be made, especially when it comes to how much money to spend and where. I thought for this issue I would discuss what I'm going to call "promotional money-wasters". I always try to guide authors and clients with information I've gleaned from experience and observation.
Drive up a decent amount of book sales before you start over-spending. Here is why. Some books no matter how much money you invest just may never pick up that precious market momentum. I always try to encourage authors to spend conservatively before they start throwing money at the book's promotion. Sometimes the results are the results. You need to measure and gage the market. Don't just throw money at the wall and see if it sticks. You will be unhappy if the money disappears into the marketing abyss. So test the waters. See how initial sales go and overall reaction. If you've got a strong start on your sales then keep pushing and invest slowly.
Using things like bookmarks are nice to hand out but don't count on those bookmarks to generate sales. I don't think I've seen a single bookmark generate a sale. The bookmark though is a nice touch to provide contact information and cement your brand and title.
Flyers with reviewer quotes only work when you're at an event and you're handing them out while the author is at the event, too. A flyer in and of itself won't work. Only invest in a flyer when you're going to promote your book at a reading or book festival. BIG TIP (the one worth reading this newsletter for): hand out the flyers right in front of where the author is actually sitting and talk it up. Then point to your author to close the sales. Every time I do this for an author I have created lines to his table. The other authors who neither brought marketing promo nor had someone canvassing the crowd sat in awe.
Social media "boosts" don't work. Don't bother with those gimmicks. On Facebook you can boost a post. I've talked to so many professionals who have said those so-called boosts didn't do a darned thing. So don't waste your money on boosting a post. Concentrate instead on building up your legitimate network of true connections. ALWAYS interact with your community of connections. Interacting with others helps raise their awareness about you and your book/product. People who really know you will be excited to support your book.
Don't invest anything over $500 in a booth space at a festival. In fact, look for nonprofit literacy groups that put on festivals and sell booth space and tables for under $100. Just think about it. How many books do you have to sell to recoup just the booth cost? Realize that festival attendance will also be a determining factor of your success. Make sure your book festival is a well-established event with a large number of people who come. New and unknown festivals are always bad news. Paying for a booth space and sitting while you can only hear crickets is depressing.