Posts tagged ‘platform’

June 9, 2016

Something Big Is Coming

Something Big is Coming--be a part of it!

Something Big is Coming–be a part of it!

I’m intrigued by the idea of serialized publishing.

Two men are trying to rescue Big World Network, an indie serialized publishing business, by turning it into a non-profit organization, and I’m just as intrigued by that.

They’ve agreed to allow me to write a post about them and what they’re doing. Be on the lookout for it sometime this weekend or early next week–and if you like the idea of keeping Big World Network alive, please take a look at their GoFundMe account: https://www.gofundme.com/27dxeth7

 

 

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August 14, 2013

Slow Blogging, emotions, and marketing

Best-selling writing elicits emotions strong enough to move a reader to action. Could this apply to blogs?

Best-selling writing elicits emotions strong enough to move a reader to action. Could this apply to blogs?

About four months ago, I came across an idea called slow blogging. I’ve seen it several times since then, and wondered about whether or not it’s a good idea–specifically when health, hearth and other obligations recently kept me away from my blog for more than two weeks.

As I understand it, slow blogging refers to blogging less frequently, but putting more time and thought into posts–kind of allowing them to age.

I admit, my first reaction was one of skepticism. How, exactly, are writers supposed to develop a decent platform for selling their work without gaining followers on their blogs? And how, exactly, are bloggers supposed to build their followings without writing three or four posts a day, at least?

Then I came across this guest post at ProBlogger, written by Brooke McAlary (SlowYourHome.com). This is what she had to say about it:

I’ve been writing about simple living for over two years, but it wasn’t until I started applying the elements of slow blogging that I saw vast improvement in my work, my community and my readership.

Slowing down, posting less frequently, spending more time thinking, studying and writing my posts, has ultimately led me to attract a much bigger audience. My readers now are engaged, inspired and my greatest champions, and I put much of that down to my decision to go Slow.

I’ll say that part again, because it bears repeating.

My readership has grown as I’ve posted less.

I’m giving the idea of slow blogging some serious thought now, partly because, although my readership dropped when I wasn’t posting, I kept gaining followers.

Mind you, I like getting followers, but that’s not why I blog. I blog because I’m a talk-a-holic, and I sometimes just have to get things out of my system.

I blog because I like the online community of writers, photographers and other artists–everyone has something wonderful to share. I like to be there to enjoy it all.

Also, I blog because I have a nagging need to learn, and it seems like the best way to really internalize what I’m learning is to share it with someone else. Blogging is the perfect medium for this.

I can’t say I don’t enjoy the feeling of attracting readers who think about and dream about the same things I think and dream about. I appreciate the fact that these people form part of my platform, but I really value them as a network of real-life friends that I just haven’t had the chance to meet in person yet. The really important thing about blogging, for me, is not so much the possibility of using my contacts to promote my work as the fact that my blogging friends add joy to my life.

Who doesn’t like joy?

And that brings me to my next point: my recent marketing studies have convinced me that if I really want to get the hang of writing books that sell, I need to get the hang of writing books that evoke emotions strong enough to move a reader to action.

From Dave Farland’s Million Dollar Outlines:

Do you see the relationship between reading and other forms of recreation? Here it is: when we read, we buy into a shared dream, a fiction, and by dong so we put ourselves in emotional jeopardy.

Later he wrote:

At the very heart of it, reading stories or viewing them allows us to perform an emotional exercise. And the better you as a writer are at creating fiction that meets your audience’s deepest needs, the better your work will sell.

(Read more about what I think about this book here.)

From Jonah Berger’s Contagious: Why Things Catch On:

When we care, we share.

This includes sharing things on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets.

Berger also wrote:

When trying to use emotions to drive sharing, remember to pick ones that kindle the fire: select high-arousal emotions that drive people to action.

I’m convinced that emotion-provoking writing is a must for fiction. It’s likely a must for nonfiction, as well–and maybe it’s even more important in that arena.

But how does it relate to blogging, and slow blogging in particular?

My initial thoughts are these:

  • If I’m blogging fast because I’m feeling emotional about something, that’s probably going to be apparent to my readers, and it might be okay to share that. If, however, I’m blogging fast just to blog something–anything–then I may just be blowing smoke and wasting the time of readers I respect and care about.
  • If I’m blogging slow, I have time to savor my own thoughts before I share them with others. Since I tend to be impetuous, this might save me from the embarrassment of sharing things that are too personal. It also gives me time to think about what I have to offer my online friends, hopefully protecting them from seeing careless posts they feel uninterested in but obligated to respond to.
  • The more I control my blogging, the more real writing work I do–and that’s emotionally rewarding on an entirely different level. Conversely, if I’m discouraged about something, I tend to avoid my works-in-progress (and any other uncomfortable challenge) and focus solely on my blog. I have to wonder what kinds of emotions my readers pick up from me then.

At this point, I’m not sure how seriously I take slow blogging. It may happen on my blog by default as the demands of life create new priorities. A quick note here: I refuse to get frustrated by this. 

If slow blogging becomes a bigger part of my life, it won’t be because I don’t enjoy blogging. Rather, it will mean that I’m enjoying the balance of ALL of my life–blogging included.

 

May 13, 2013

Write more and sell more

If everything you write is a pebble or a grain of sand, someday you'll have a beach where good things will wash up.

If everything you write is a pebble or a grain of sand, and you write a lot, someday you’ll have a beach where good things will wash up.

Does anyone else follow The Passive Voice? I’ve been getting updates from this site by e-mail for a while now. On the whole, there’s a digital warehouse full of good information for authors—what’s going on in the publishing world, for instance, and what’s going on in the self-publishing world, and tips for marketing your books so you can make money as a writer.

Most of the posts here have been reposted from other spots around the internet. My favorite so far was a post entitled What’s Your Novel Worth? NVP and Cash Flow, by author and publisher Jeff Posey (check out the comments on his site, too–some are very insightful).

He said this:

The most productive thing a publishing writer can do is write and publish.

And, a few paragraphs later:

Lesson: Write more, do other stuff less.

Posey has an MBA in corporate finance and uses this article to teach authors to think of their writing in terms of Net Present Value, or what your novel is worth financially. He uses three examples to show how to evaluate this, and then says it’s not cash flow. His advice, for authors who want to build a nice residual income, is to be persistent, talented and patient. It takes some time to get where you want to be.

This particular post was inspiring for me partly for two reasons:

  1. I was wondering how much time I should be spending marketing and promoting books. Although I believe this will always be a large part of the formula for success for any author seeking to actually make money through writing books, perhaps it still can be looked at in a different light. Writing and writing well is still the most important thing. That makes me happy! Writing a lot, and getting it out there where people can find it, seems to be a true strategy for success.
  2. Knowing that it takes some time to build up a clientele makes writing feel like a business rather than a hobby. It becomes something you can build a solid business plan around. Most of the writers I know hold other jobs, too, but this allows them to at least daydream realistically about the future when they will be able to set everything but writing aside.  I read somewhere else—and now I can’t remember where—that it takes nine years for a nonfiction author to build a solid platform for marketing books. Perhaps fiction writing is similar. (The lesson here, I think, is not to give up if your first few books don’t magically change your life. Keep at it, and chances are this dream can still come true. )

Although the analysis was geared toward authors, I bet this advice can be applied to photographers, painters, poets and artists from every other persuasion. Just enjoy what you do, and don’t give up. It’s the whole Rome-wasn’t-built-in-a-day thing.

With that in mind, I’m wishing everyone a happy and productive week. 🙂

February 25, 2013

Thoughts on Secrets of Successful Writers, by Darrell Pitt

One of the best things about writer’s conferences is that you get to network with other authors. You find out what works for them in everything such as the best time to write and low long to write every day to how to price books, how to develop a platform and how to promote your books.

Darrell Pitt‘s Secrets of Successful Writers might be the next best thing to attending a writer’s conference or an ongoing, very inclusive writer’s group. This book introduces us to fifty authors (including Pitt) and how they deal with the pertinent issues.

The chapters in Secrets of Successful Writers are conducted interview-style, so you get author’s answers back in their own words. You might as well be having a conversation with them.

Here’s some of the advice I gleaned from this book–remember, not every author uses every technique, but these are the techniques that jumped out at me most:

When and how much you should write

  • This varies widely from writer to writer. Some sleep late and work late; some work early, and some write just when they find the time and inspiration. The tricks seem to be flexibility and the willingness to experiment with your own schedule until you find what works best for you.

Marketing–always the big one :

  • Be nice to your readers; be sociable online and make friends
  • Methodically use the Amazon discussion boards to promote your book
  • Do every interview you can
  • Visit Joe Konrath’s blog for some great ideas
  • Find a readership using ebooks
  • Network with other indie writers enough that their fans get to know you, too
  • Use facebook and Twitter
  • Author Heather Killough-Walden also said the following: 

Create a stark, eye-catching cover that draws readers to your book out of all of the books surrounding it on the Amazon or Barnes and Noble page.

Pricing:

  • Some of the authors were traditionally published, and their publisher took care of that.
  • For indie authors, pricing seems to be as arbitrary as when you work and how long you work each day. The general idea among many of the authors was to play around with pricing until you’re comfortable; however, a lot of them priced their books between 99 cents and $2.99, and one said she was uncomfortable pricing her books over $5 each.

General advice:

  • Write as much as you can.
  • Pay attention to quality writing
  • Writer’s block is a signal that you need more input. Go gather some information, come back and start writing again.
  • ebooks are the future of the publishing industry. Bookstores and libraries are more about the experiences they provide–the smells, the textures of printed books, etc.

My favorite part of the book was this question-answer set:

Darrell Pitt:

What advice would you give to someone about to publish their first novel as an ebook?

John Locke (the first independent author to sell one million ebooks on Amazon):

The minute you send it out into the world, start writing the next one. Don’t worry if your firs t one is going to sell, because it probably won’t. And if it does, your public is going tow ant the next book anyway, and you’ll have nothing in the tank to give them. Your readers want to know you’re committed to providing them with content. In this regard, writing is like a friendship. Do you want to be my friend? Then BE there for me!

How can you not smile at a statement like that?

An upside of this book: you can read an interview a day, stay enthused and feel like you’ve made a new friend. Pitt also included web sites, Amazon pages, and similar information for the author at the end of each interview. If you find you have a lot in common with a particular author, it’ll be easy to use that information to follow them or even get in touch.

This book was both helpful and friendly.

About Darrell Pitt: something to encourage all indie authors

Besides editing Secrets of Successful WritersDarrell Pitt authored the Teenage Superheroes series and The Steampunk Detective. He now has a major publisher looking at his books. I’ll be following up with him about that when he’s able to share more.

In his own words:

It’s a real confirmation the indie publishing can lead to great things.

TeenageSuperhero-2240x1400 [Desktop Resolution]  TheSteampunkDetectiveFINALWebRes

February 20, 2013

Platform, promotion and a possible daily plan

I wasn't going to do any promoting with this booklet--but how can I resist the urge to experiment? It's become my KDP Select guinea pig.

I wasn’t going to do any promoting with this booklet–but how can I resist the urge to experiment? It’s become my KDP Select guinea pig.

According to Rachel Gardner, literary agent with Books and Such Literary Agency, there’s a difference between developing a writer’s platform and promoting your book. In a recent blog post, she wrote the following:

You can’t promote your book without first having a platform. However…

A platform is not enough. To sell copies of your book, you have to actually promote the book.

Shocking, huh?

You can have a huge platform — thousands of Facebook fans, Twitter followers, and blog readers. Maybe you’re even a public speaker, have a popular newsletter, you’re a go-to expert on your topic, or you’re already a bestselling author.

But if you don’t actually put your latest book in front of people and make it easy and advantageous for them to immediately click-to-buy, nobody is going to buy it.

Gardner differentiated between platform-building activities (blogging, social media, author branding, etc.) and book-promotion activities, which includes things like contests and giveaways, targeted advertising, and book clubs. It’s got me thinking about the way I spend my online time.

More appropriately, it’s got me thinking about how I intend to spend my online time once I have another book ready to promote.

Right now, I’m using the two books I’ve published on Kindle (The Night Ones Legacy and The Experiences and Thoughts of a Simple Freelance Writer) to test the waters. I’m coming up on the close of my contest for The Night Ones Legacy, which has been an incredible education, and I’ve just decided to try KDP Select for Thoughts of a Simple Freelance Writer. I hope I learn as much from that as I have from my contest.

When it comes right down to it, though, I spend the majority of my time online on blogging, social networking and other platform-building activities (that’s excluding time for research for particular assignments). I spend less time on book promotion, partly because I’m just testing the waters, but also partly because it’s easy to set up a contest or KDP Select and just let it go. I’m assuming that book promotion would come in here if I spent more time actually promoting the contests or the book itself…

I feel like I have something entirely new and fun to spend my time on, even though it’s always been there.

The big question for me is how to divide my time between platform building and book promotion. Gardner indicates both are necessary if you’re going to sell your writing online.

From a time management perspective, I think spending half the work day writing, a quarter of the work day on building a platform and other business-related activities and a quarter of the work day actually promoting my writing might be doable.

Is that realistic?

I’d also love to know what platform-building activities have worked for other authors, and what book-promotion activities have worked.

I’m slowly getting the hang of social media, and I’m becoming a fan of contests and giveaways. I know there’s more out there to educate myself about, and that makes this writing-publishing-marketing game extremely fun.

Gardner has another great new post on her site about self-promotion.

One more thing: The Experiences and Thoughts of a Simple Freelance Writer will be free on Amazon from February 27-March 3, if I’ve set my KDP Select up right.

January 30, 2013

Turning your book into an ideavirus: eight elements to consider

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The cover of Seth Godin’s Unleashing the Ideavirus features these two sentences:

Stop marketing AT people! Turn your ideas into epidemics by helping your customers do the marketing for you.

I was immediately hooked. Instead of going to bed like I intended to, I sat at my desk and read. And took notes. And read some more.

The book itself was an entertaining read, not too technical but packed full of good marketing information.

By the time I put the book down, I had these thoughts on the matter:

  • Most writers want their books to sell, sell, sell, but understanding how to make that happen is a real challenge
  • This is especially true when most of us would rather spend our time writing instead of marketing our writing.
  • Our books contain our ideas, though, and so perhaps they’re eligible to become part of the sales epidemic those two sentences allude to.

I immediately began thinking about the value of the ideas contained in my writing. Certainly some of those ideas must be compelling, or I wouldn’t have any kind of clientele. Fiction is different than the nonfiction articles I write, though, and I honestly don’t know how good my make-believe ideas are.

Even more intriguing, if I found out through a myriad of comments and feedback that my fiction ideas were stupendously wonderful, I still wouldn’t really know what to do with them.

Godin wrote this:

Why should we care? Why does it matter that ideas can instantly cross international boundaries, change discussions about politics, crime and justice or even get us to buy something? Because the currency of our future is ideas, and the ideavirus mechanism is the way those ideas propagate. And the science and art of creating ideaviruses and using them for profit is new and powerful. You don’t have to wait for an ideavirus to happen organically or accidentally. you can plan for it and optimize for it and make it happen.

Kind of brings a spark of hope to the darkness of self doubt, doesn’t it?

Another of my favorite quotes from this book:

Just because ideaviruses have usually spread through unknown means or accidental events doesn’t mean that there isn’t a science to building and managing them.

Godin describes eight elements of the ideavirus formula. I’ve read through all these and think I understand them, but I’ll be studying them more in depth later on. Here is what I gathered about the eight ideavirus elements as I read the book tonight:

  • Choose your sneezers–Basically, these are the people who spread the word about your idea
  • Choose your hive–a target market
  • Velocity–this is how fast your idea spreads
  • Vector–ideas usually go in one direction, not all over the place. Godin suggests studying which direction you’d like your idea to flow.
  • Medium–this is the means by which your idea spreads, or the way your idea is spread from one customer to another
  • Smoothness–This is what hooks you on a new idea. For writers, I think it means analyzing what it is about your idea (your book) that grabs other people and makes them feel like they need to have it.
  • Persistence–this is how long your idea keeps circulating. The longer it circulates, the more units of your idea you can sell.
  • Amplifier–This is how you amplify the positive things about your idea while dampening the negative ones

I’m thinking here about how very uncoordinated my marketing attempts have been so far. I’ve been learning principles, but this book pulls everything together. It’s sparking strategies for different campaigns in my mind. When my contest is over, I’ll be practicing in other ways. I suppose a proper understanding and utilization of all of those elements could lead to an effective writer’s platform.

Of all the elements of the ideavirus formula, I think I was most taken with the idea of smoothness. This is particularly because, in a previous post, I discussed David Farland’s idea that books will only sell if they’re similar enough to other books to resonate with potential readers.

Sooo…If we want our writings to sell, they need to be similar to other writings, in unique ways. Do I understand that correctly?

Let me know what you think.

Meanwhile, I highly recommend Seth Godin’s Unleashing the Ideavirus This is another marketing book that I couldn’t put down and will probably return to again and again.

December 28, 2012

More marketing tips for writers from Chuck Sambuchino’s new book

(A quick note:  I’ll be posting on Drawing on the Power of Resonance in Writing, by David Farland, sometime early next week. If there’s a book you’re interested in learning about but don’t have the means to peruse yourself, please let me know. I’ll see what I can do about it.)

Chuck Sambuchino during a critique session at the 2012 Midwest Writers Workshop. Mr. Sambuchino freelance critiques query letters, synopses, book proposals and novels. Check out his Editing Services page at http://www.chucksambuchino.com for more information.

Chuck Sambuchino during a critique session at the 2012 Midwest Writers Workshop. Mr. Sambuchino freelance critiques query letters, synopses, book proposals and novels. Check out his Editing Services page at http://www.chucksambuchino.com for more information.

Back to my marketing book review: in the second section of Create Your Writer Platform: The Key to Building an Audience, Selling More Books, and Finding Success as an Author, author Chuck Sambuchino said writers should do two things right away: create a web site, and start using a few different ways to build a platform.

Web sites was discussed in detail at the beginning of the section. My first question was–can my WordPress blog count as a web site? That was answered in one sentence:

 Know that, by web site, I do not mean merely a blog.

I felt chagrined for a moment, until I read the following:

That said, if you have nowhere to turn to, just use WordPress–simple software that will guide you through creating a web site or blog or both.

If I understand right, one the advantages of a web site is a static landing page (compared to the fluid landing page of a blog).  There should be an ‘about me’ page with a short bio–not a long one, if you’re just starting out–and a head shot. A page listing your books or showcasing your portfolio is a good idea, and a ‘contact me’ page is essential.

Sambuchino spends an entire two pages discussing your head shot.

 “You’ll need it for your website and interviews and lots of other places–and sooner is better for having it done because you ain’t getting any younger.”

He’s not kidding. That’s probably what makes me feel so shy about it.

His notes on bios are to keep them short:

Over the years, I’ve noticed that long bios can actually hurt you. The more things you sell/mention (i.e., the more you stuff into a small space), the thinner everything becomes.

An entire chapter is devoted to blogging. Surprisingly, my favorite advice from that chapter is to avoid posts that are too personal or boring. Who doesn’t like to write about their personal life? I know I do. Since I work at home, it’s sometimes difficult to separate my work life from my home life, and I’m pretty sure that shows here.

Like Caples, Sambuchino suggests spending a significant amount of time on each blog post headline. At least five minutes per headline, he said–which can be difficult to do when your mind is bursting with thoughts for the next post.

The last portion of this section (Chapters Nine through Thirteen) deal with the optional things you can do to build your platform. They include:

  • Starting an e-newsletter
  • Article and column writing
  • Public speaking
  • Using social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, effectively
  • Side doors to Platform

There’s just too much in those sections to write about, and there’s more to do than can possibly be done here. I sincerely appreciate Sambuchino’s advice at the beginning of this section, when he says you shouldn’t try to do everything.

You should not dive in everywhere. That’s right. I am officially telling you not to tackle every opportunity or go down every path.

Nice, isn’t it, to know there are so many options out there? And that you’re free not to use them, if you so choose?

This section of reading has left me with three questions for my fellow bloggers:

  1. Has anyone reading this used WordPress to generate a web site? I’m intrigued. Is that different than what I’ve done with my blog?
  2. Does the idea of having a head shot here make anyone else feel shy?
  3. Who has experience with public speaking? What did you speak about, and what was it like?

I’m looking forward to your replies!

Due to a sick baby, this was as far as I read in Chuck Sambuchino’s book. I’ll be finishing it this afternoon, but this is as far as I plan to post. The final section is filled with case studies of authors who have been through what Sambuchino writes about in this book. I recommend buying the book and keeping it on hand for future reference.

December 28, 2012

Marketing for writers: tips from Chuck Sambuchino’s new book

Chuck Sambuchino's book, Creating Your Writer Platform, is one of the best books for writer's I've read yet.

Chuck Sambuchino’s book, Creating Your Writer Platform, is one of the best books for writers I’ve read yet.

I’ve been telling myself for years that writers don’t get paid to write anymore. They get paid to market their books.

I don’t know when this idea first popped into my head, but it seems to coincide with publisher’s ideas of platform. Now, after intentionally shunning the idea that I needed a platform, I’m finally listening to myself, and I’ve started studying marketing (for writers in particular) in earnest.

Last week I read John Caple’s Tested Advertising Methods and gleaned what I thought was a veritable writer’s pantry full of information. I’ll use it someday. For now, that information is stored on my pantry shelves like so many ingredients. And I’m adding to my stores.

This week, I started reading Chuck Sambuchino’s Create Your Writer Platform: The Key to Building an Audience, Selling More Books, and Finding Success as an Author.

Remember him from his Guide to Literary Agents?

One of the first things Sambuchino says in this new book is a simple but strong definition of what a platform is:

“Platform, simply put, is your visibility as an author.”

The first section of this book is called The Principles of Platform. I read that section tonight and was too excited to share what I was learning to go to bed…so here I am, late at night, writing a post that I hope will help you as much as this book has already helped me.

I was delighted to see that Sambuchino studied John Caple’s work, too. It made me feel as though last week’s marketing experiment was COMPLETELY validated. Sambuchino wrote:

Communities are vertical now–“tribes” of like-minded people, says marketing expert Seth Godin.

One theme stressed in the first section of this book was a platform is essential–absolutely ESSENTIAL–for people who write nonfiction books. While it’s a good thing for fiction and memoir writers, it’s not quite as necessary.

That said, Sambuchino still insists that finding a niche can be nothing but helpful for any writer. Chapter Five–Platform for fiction and memoir–was especially enlightening.

In this chapter, Sambuchino lists three different types of blogs/niches that can be used to start building a fiction or memoir platform. These include:

  • The Loose Connection niche, in which a theme from one of your books becomes the theme for your blog
  • The Altogether Different niche, in which the theme for your blog has little or no connection to your books or memoirs. This may go against common sense, but Samuchino indicated that if it’s something you’re passionate about, you’ll probably write about it often enough and well enough that you’ll still gain blog followers, and this will count toward your writer’s platform.
  • The Writing Focus niche, which focuses on your writer’s journey.

All in all, I’m having a great time with this book. Once this post is published, I’ll delve into it again. I’ll share ingredients from the next section in a post sometime tomorrow morning.

Meanwhile, let me share three quotes from the first section that totally resonated with me.

“A conversation is not a nuisance to me; it’s an opportunity.”

No wonder I like this book so much. I feel the same way. There’s something extremely satisfying in talking about writing with other writers.

“People innately respect those who have paid their dues.”

He says this as a means of encouragement, telling us writers to hang in there; success most likely won’t come overnight, but if we work hard enough and long enough at it, the success will come.

“No matter what you want to develop expertise and authority in, it will help a whole heck of a lot if you enjoy what you’re doing.”

Again, justly said. And really, would any of us be writing at all if we didn’t enjoy it?

Well. I feel as giddy as a five-year-old at show and tell. I can hardly wait to post on the second section. Back to the book I go!

One quick note: I’m enjoying my marketing studies so much that I’m adding a new page, Marketing for Writers, on this blog. I’ll link all the pertinent posts I write on that page. I intend to keep reviewing marketing books, and I’ll joyfully share what I learn.

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