The Juggling Act of Marketing While You Write

I learned a lot from the publication and release of my first bookInstead of dwelling on what I did wrong or inefficiently, I’m focusing on improving those areas when Getting Through What You Can’t Get Over releases in April, 2015 via Barbour Publishing.

Authors on Facebook

Mention Tiny Excerpts from Your Work in Progress

For instance, while writing my first release, if I had known then what I know now, I wouldn’t have held my enthusiasm back. I would have let my natural flow of excitement transfer into some of my Tweets, Facebook posts, LinkedIn shares, and Pinterest pins. I wouldn’t have sold to people, but would have offered a few teasers, a new sentence, a punchy line taken from my project, while I was writing it, getting people interested early. Word of mouth is still the best marketing vehicle around.

I would have blogged about the process more. (Something I just started doing on my Writing Wednesday posts.)

Authors on YouTube

Open Yourself Up to Your Audience with YouTube Videos

I would have posted a few videos on YouTube about struggles, victories, disappointments, encouragements, life interruptions, cave-dwellings, along with other writing downs and ups. Adding more visual author media to marketing efforts enhances the experience for readers. This allows audiences to read tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language, as well as words.

I would have listened to Michael Hyatt’s fantastic audio series, Get Published!, while I was writing, not shortly after my book released. Then I would have acted on many of his insider suggestions.

While I juggle writing, marketing my current book, pre-release marketing for my new one, family, friends, speaking, coaching, and the occasional unexpected crisis, I’m also celebrating a few things I did right on the first go around.

Michael Hyatt's Get Published

I Highly Suggest This Audio Series for Publishing and Marketing

I made new connections, and built some solid and life-long relationships with people who can benefit my writing career, but more importantly, are now my friends. We help each other, encourage, pray, and genuinely care about what happens to each other, more than we care about what happens with our careers.

I proved myself capable as a professional writer and marketer. Building credibility and practicing integrity at the foundation of your career provides a solid footing to propel you forward as you move ahead with new books, articles, and posts. I see myself as a slow and steady author, who will win the race through consistency and solid growth. I’d rather experience longevity, versus a fast start that sputters in a flash.

I made some marketing mistakes, but didn’t let them become catalysts for giving up. Instead, I evaluated where things fell apart, and used those insights to make informed decisions and new plans. Some things I need to cut out completely, but most only require a few tweaks, and my updated marketing plans will prove more profitable.

Believe GodBut the most powerful thing I did right the first time, and am continuing to do now, is this: I am not leaning on my own understanding. Instead, I am asking God where to invest my talents. Who are the readers? Where should I market? What is the best use of my energy? When should I time marketing efforts? How should I balance the juggling act of marketing while I write?

In the end, none of us knows the perfect marketing plan. But, those who succeed exhibit similar qualities. Guts, consistency, resolve, humility, a teachable spirit, listening ears, watching eyes, and a quitting-is-not-an-option determination. No matter how much juggling is required.

What do you know now that you didn’t know before about marketing?

After You Sign the Contract

You did it! You succeeded in acquiring an agent, your book sold, and you just signed your contract. Ahhh. Life is amazing.

But…

There’s more work to do. Maybe the hardest work of all. This is where an author truly needs encouragement, practical ideas, and inner strength. But it all starts with thoughts.

Magic of Thinking Big Book

Little Thoughts Keep Your Writing Small

“Success is determined not so much by the size of one’s brain as it is by the size of one’s thinking.” The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz

Allowing any task to become daunting can deter us from doing all we are capable of. Especially when there’s a lot at stake — like the completion of a life’s dream. I know, I almost let it happen to me.

I was approximately 85% finished with my final manuscript and three weeks from deadline. Then I froze. There’s no reasonable explanation I can offer as to why. My outline was solid, and until that morning, my words flowed smoothly.

At first, I attributed it to exhaustion. After all, I was still working over sixty hours a week as the general manager of a large river resort, and it was early September. But after taking a couple of extra days off, catching up on rest, and trying again, still no go.

I panicked. A swell of fear felt like it was swamping over me. In a choked voice, I told my husband, “I guess I’ll send the advance money back.”

“What’s wrong?”

“I can’t finish.” I felt my chin quiver. “I don’t know why I ever thought I could write a book. It isn’t good enough to send in, and I can’t get any new words on the page.”

“I thought you wanted this.”

I ran out of the room. My husband meant well, and he was right. It was what I wanted, but in that moment, I didn’t know how to get it done.

First Hired Last Fired

Available in Major Bookstores and Online

The next morning, I awoke feeling no less anguished, but one thing had changed. My determination not to give up. My husband’s final words on the subject resonated in my heart. I did want this. So I got on my knees and thanked God for helping me finish what He had started. Then I took advice from my own book, First Hired, Last Fired — How to Become Irreplaceable in Any Job Market, and resolved to get the job done, regardless of how I felt.

I won’t lie and tell you things suddenly got easy. Those final pages were excruciating, and to this day, I can pick them out of my book by the weakness I see in the sentences forced into existence. But I did it. Exactly on my deadline date, I submitted the full manuscript according to contract. And I learned something.

Michael HyattI’m not the first author to experience soul-crushing panic deep into the book writing journey. Many have relayed similar experiences, including best-seller Michael Hyatt.

But I also learned how to push past my fears, and whether the world likes it or not, to put the message out there. It was hard, but the satisfaction is sweeter than my earlier efforts and emotions.

I’m not sure where you are on the path to publication. But if you’re new to the process, be prepared for some emotional bumps after you sign the contract. And remember — sometimes we need to do what we love, versus what feels safe.

Have you ever panicked in the middle of a big accomplishment? It’s never too late to start again.

Anita Fresh Faith

Preparing for a Radio or Podcast Interview, Pt. 1

I’m not sure where you are on your writing journey, but if it hasn’t happened yet, hopefully it will one day soon. Your invitation to guest on a radio program.

First Hired by Anita BrooksWith the release of my book, First Hired, Last Fired — How to Become Irreplaceable in Any Job MarketI’ve done several interviews now, while working to line up numerous others. (If you want to listen in, I’ve got links to those who provided them.)

Imagine my surprise when the podcast host for Engaging Life and Leadership called. Podcasts are Internet radio shows, so they enable you to reach global listeners versus a regional audience. Think of it like this: Podcasts are the big-city landscape of audio, while most traditional radio programs have a home-town community feel. Each has its strengths and weaknesses, and each reaches different wants and needs.

Engaging Life and LeadershipSince my guest spot on Engaging Life and Leadership went over so well, I was asked to return — again and again. It didn’t take long until the unexpected happened.

“Will you join the show as a permanent co-host?” Darren Dake asked.

We’ve now recorded over twenty episodes as a male/female team, discussing relevant answers for Christian men AND women in 21st century leadership. At last count, we are reaching 17 countries.

But why did I just tell you all of this? For a few reasons actually.

  1. As authors, there’s constant pressure to build your platform. From the beginning, I’ve trusted God to design mine, and partnered with Him in the building. He continues to do more than I could possibly have imagined.
  2. My heart beats to help others, especially my writing brothers and sisters. Consider this an open invitation to be our guest on the show. Regardless of your book’s genre, there’s a place for you. All authors and speakers run their own businesses. You are thought-leaders. We can help you find a topic relevant to our program that will enable us to promote your project. Email me if you’re interested. anita@anitabrooks.com.
  3. The nail-biting prospect of guesting can terrify the most confident of men or women. So I want to share what has helped me survive small, nationally syndicated, and global radio programs.

Here’s my pre-show routine:

Radio Interview Mic

Have You Interviewed Yet? Prepare Yourself.

  • In Michael Hyatt‘s awemazing Get Published! program, he advises the creation of a briefing book as a guide during your interview. I created a PDF synopsis of my book, including the questions sent to the host in the media release. If you’d like a copy of mine as a sample, feel free to email me at anita@anitabrooks.com. (Half of the hosts never asked the arranged questions, but my briefing book kept me on track when they strayed.)
  • Double-check dates and times, (accurate time zones especially) to ensure I don’t experience a faux pas, and either scramble last minute or extend my nerves and frustration from a longer wait. My worst fear? Missing the opportunity altogether.
  • Get a good night’s sleep the night before. I’ve discovered half a Melatonin is a great way to enhance my natural sleep rhythm, providing deeper rest.
  • Walk or exercise prior to my interview, making sure I finish an hour before show time.
  • I take a shower about forty-five minutes before to freshen up.
  • Share my prayer need on social media. Friends and family appreciate the chance to support me in advance. (Plus it reminds some who want to listen in.)
  • About fifteen minutes before, I get prostrate in prayer. Literally. I lay on my living room floor, as flat as possible, and humble myself before God. I ask the Holy Spirit to guide my words and still my tongue when appropriate. He hasn’t failed me yet.

There’s more I’d like to share, but I’ve run out of room. Next month, I’ll list the things I do during the interview to help me spread the message in a more effective way. Some are plain old common sense, but a couple will surprise you. See you then.

Have you interviewed? If so, what do you do to prepare?

What I Want on my Pizza

…or in my queries.

The hubby and I have been eating a lot of pizza lately. Namely because it is rather okay to eat when cold, and new babies often necessitate cold-food eating. My favorite pizza is Hawaiian–Canadian bacon and pineapple. Yum! Although, I won’t turn my nose up at pepperoni or mushroom and black olive. Still, even the thought of a Hawaiian pizza makes me drool a little bit.

Similarly, while a well-written query letter is edible, there are certain queries that make me pay a bit more attention, that make me email the author back asking for a partial, a proposal, or even a full manuscript.

I have had several conversations with authors about what stands out to me when I am reading through the slush pile. Sometimes it’s a certain spark–something in the tone of the actual letter. Or sometimes it is in the fantastic writing, itself–the story, a certain character, the beautiful language. However, there are also a few tangible things that really impress me, as well.

1. Numbers Both online and in person. In other words, platform. An author needs to be connecting online via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, his website, his blog, his online newsletter, etc. If all of those overwhelm you, pick two or three that you can grow consistently. Start with ten minutes a day. He also needs to be speaking (and keeping track of how many people attended each event) as well as writing for print publications. If the author is a nonfiction writer, then he needs to focus on non-fiction articles. If he is a novelist, then aim for literary journals.

2. Names I often request a partial or a full if the author mentions that a certain celebrity or high profile person is willing to endorse her book. If that person has the endorsement included in the email, then I am even more impressed. Obviously, most of the endorsements come after the book already has a publishing house, but it never hurts to have those connections ahead of time.

3. kNowledge :) When authors mentions things I like, information gleaned from my biography, I take a closer look at their query letter. I don’t mean that you should be a creepy stalker for the agent you are interested in (that would probably have the opposite effect), but you should research the agent. Know what she wants to read; know what interests her.

4. Names Oh, I mentioned that one before? Spell the agent’s name correctly in the query letter. My name has an ‘h’ at the end. I have rejected authors because they spelled my name incorrectly. All right, I am not that cruel–I did read through the query letter before rejecting, but it did nothing to gain brownie points, and speaking of brownies…

5. Nuts I don’t like nuts in my brownies, but I do like chocolate chips. So, you know, if you really want me to take a look at your query, be sure send me some. I’m kidding. Kind of.

Just like most people will eat any kind of pizza, every person has his/her favorite. Each agent has certain things that he looks for in query letters, but building your platform, connecting with high profile people, and doing your research about that particular agent will definitely help your query letter stand out among the hundreds in the slush pile.

Questions: What tips/tricks have you learned to help your query letter shine? Did they work? What hasn’t worked for you?

 

A Top Tip for Getting Readers to Your Blog

Most authors realize they have a huge responsibility to market themselves. One way to do this is to create and write a blog. In this post, I’d like to share my best idea for getting your blog posts noticed.

iStock_000020504124XSmallGoogle Analytics helped me see what my most popular blog posts were in 2012. I predicted it might be the post I wrote for Michael Hyatt because he has several hundred thousand readers each month. I did get a lot of views, but not anywhere near the amount my top three posts received.

Here are my top three posts in regard to number of views:

Life Code by Dr. Phil – A book review

The Surprising Happiness Lessons Downton Abbey Teaches Us

Gotye’s Somebody That I Used to Know and Emotionally Focused Therapy

The mission statement of my blog is to offer help for hurting people. I also like to include  ideas related to physical, emotional, and spiritual selfcare since that is the focus of my soon-to-be-released book.

So what is it my three most popular posts have in common? In addition to offering help, they all deal with topics that are popular in mainstream media. Romans 12:2 tells us not to conform to the pattern of the world. However, we can use the culture to draw readers to our books and our blogs.

Life Code, written by Dr. Phil, is being published by his son’s publishing seo services company: Bird Street Books. (It is only available through their online bookstore at TheBookNook.com) The book tells you how to deal with users, abusers, and overall “bad guys” we all have in our lives. It also includes 16 tactics for winning in the real world. For the past month Dr. Phil has been featuring various aspects of this book on his daily talk show. So when people search for “Life Code,” my book review shows up.

Downton Abbey is a British period drama that first aired in the fall of 2010. The show depicts the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants around the time of World War I. The series has received critical acclaim from television critics and won numerous accolades, including a Golden Globe Award for Best Miniseries and a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Miniseries. Now in its third season, Downton Abbey has become one of the most widely watched television shows in the world. I was able to tie my happiness ideas into aspects of the show.

In case you missed it, Gotye’s song, Somebody That I Used to Know, topped the US, UK, and Australian, as well as 23 other national charts, and reached the top 10 in more than 30 countries around the world. The song has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide, becoming one the best-selling digital singles of all time. The song is so popular there are several hundred re-mixes on Youtube. The video perfectly characterizes a couple who can’t connect, so I use that to talk about marriage counseling.

The secret to getting a lot of views on your blog is to find something that is a really hot topic and then try to conform your blog message around that topic. I’ve been getting about 200 readers a day, from all over the globe, for my review of Dr. Phil’s book.

Here are some tools for helping you figure out what is popular:

Online article: Ten Tools to Tell You What’s Hot

http://www.searchenginejournal.com/10-tools-to-tell-whats-hot-today-right-now-even/47886/

Goodreads List of Popular Books

http://www.goodreads.com/book/popular_by_date/2012

Top 100 Songs:

http://www.billboard.com/charts/hot-100#/charts/hot-100

Goodreads Popular Book Lists

http://www.goodreads.com/list/popular_lists

 Most popular shows, celebrities, Movies, Videos

http://www.tvguide.com/top-tv-shows

Thomas Umstattd Jr just posted a really helpful video yesterday: 

12 Secrets of Excellent Blogs

What are some popular topics you’ve noticed lately? 

5 Ways to Break Up a Writing Iceberg: The Book Proposal

I remember the day well.

After four years, hours and hours of writing, time away from my kids, countless books read on craft, writing classes Spring TX, and two professional edits, I finally finished my 260 page memoir.

“Success is a finished book, a stack of pages each of which is filled with words. If you reach that point, you have won a victory over yourself no less impressive than sailing single-handed around the world.”- Tom Clancy

Mr. Clancy’s quote, once my eyes stumbled upon it, coaxed a satisfied sigh from my gut. I closed my eyes, imagining myself at the helm of a ship, arms stretched out like Rose and Jack from The Titanic.

Jack-And-Rose-jack-and-rose-dawson-24253023-1000-710

But seriously, like the next day, my excitement and feelings of great accomplishment hit an iceberg when I forced myself to pay attention to two words that had floated around my mind throughout the project:

BOOK PROPOSAL.

If my manuscript is the Titanic, then the book proposal is the iceberg.

A book proposal is a thorough description of a manuscript, the market it would serve, and a sample of the story, usually the first two or three chapters.

And something I had no idea about until my manuscript was nearly completed.

Once my manuscript was finished, I assumed I could change the sail on my writing ship, pound out a quick proposal, and venture into new waters of querying agents.

Not so.

I had no idea about the painstaking amount of work a thorough, well-written, well-representing book proposal entailed. It took time and several confusing revisions to write an acceptable book proposal.

So here’s some advice, sailor to sailor:

1) Discern the genre. Book proposals, and when to submit them, are different depending on fiction or non-fiction. Fiction and memoir manuscripts should be completed before the proposal is submitted to an agent or a publisher. Non-fiction books can and do sell on proposal with a couple of chapters to provide the flavor and quality of the writing.

2) Work on your proposal while you are writing your manuscript. I should have started researching book proposals right away. Writing the proposal while working on the manuscript would have provided needed focus. A proposal can be a great map of where you are in your project, and where you need to go.

3) Write well. Your book proposal is probably the first writing sample a prospective agent or editor will see from you. Don’t rush. Let the voice rendered in your manuscript seep onto the proposal page. Agents and editors see many proposals. Take the time and attention required to make your proposal flawless and flavorful.

4) Stick to the basic elements of a proposal. Some include a cover page, an overview of the story, the hook, a biography of the author, marketing strategies, chapter summaries, and sample chapters.

I purchased a template from a famous author. It was a great way to get me started, but once an agent was landed, she preferred I use her agency’s template. Though similar, it wasn’t quite the same. Realize that an agent or editor will probably want you to tweak your proposal.

5) A successful book proposal requires research. Learn from the best. Check out:

Terry Whalin’s Book Proposals That Sell: 21 SECRETS TO SPEED YOUR SUCCESS

Have you written a book proposal? Are you in the process of writing a book proposal? Any advice? What’s been the most challenging part of the process? Please share with your fellow sojourners.

One Hundred Thirty-Eight Points and Bestseller Lists

Have you, like me, been intrigued by the story of Jack Taylor, the Grinnell College basketball player that scored one hundred thirty-eight points in one game? It was so striking that it even caught the attention of some NBA players . . . Kobe Bryant being one.

However, upon looking closer, one realizes that perhaps the performance wasn’t so stellar after all. The team supported his effort to complete this task by letting him rest during defense and setting him up for most of the shots. Evidently, the coach of this team has a “system” designed to get a few of his players record-breaking scoring runs. If you read the link, please forgive the two swear words in the first paragraph, but it was the most detailed analysis of this particular basketball game and why Jack Taylor prehaps broke the record.

Does a coordinated team effort take away Jack’s achievement or not? Hmm….

Jack’s effort (and that of his teammates to get him recognized in that fashion) reminded me of a current marketing strategy that some authors are using to get their titles on the bestseller lists and that basically is composed of narrowing your tribe’s purchases to one week so that the spike in sales causes it to rise on said lists. I have known several authors to employ this strategy–usually coupled with giving away a lot of free stuff. The most notable would be Michael Hyatt, former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing.

My question for you fellow wordsmith journeyers: does this make a true bestseller?

First, what makes a novel a bestseller? In my research, these things were mentioned.
1. Good Book
2. Favorable Press (Oprah helps . . . just a little.)
3. Word of Mouth (The purpose of your tribe.)
4. The Subject Matter
5. The Title
6. Marketing Campaign
7. Power of the Internet

But, as this article (though long, it is well worth the read) also outlines, a bestseller happens basically two ways:
1. Selling many copies in a week
2. Selling steadily over months and years though maybe not ending up on any lists

So I wonder, will people begin to scoff at claims of bestseller status from an author employing this strategy? What if their book hits a bestseller list for one week but rapidly falls off and is never seen there again? Or, is it merely good business sense? Here is one blog post that outlines a similar strategy using the Kindle Direct Publishing system and offering the book for free.

My guess is, we’ll begin to take a look at how long the book was on the list. Being briefly on an Amazon top 100 list may become meaningless. Some already say that rising on an Amazon list (particularly the 100 free list) does not a bestseller make even if the author claims that status.

If the buying habits of your tribe can be manipulated strictly for the purpose of tightening sales into a one week period . . . is the novel really a bestseller? And let me claim here and now that I’m not saying I may never try this.

I’m curious to hear your thoughts. What do you think of this marketing strategy? Does it make a novel a true bestseller?

The Best Resource to Build Your Author Platform

Are you so sick of the word platform you want to throw all wooden boxes into a huge bonfire?

Everywhere authors turn we hear about the importance of author platform. Many pre-published authors have no idea how to go about building a successful author platform. You just know that you need one.

Even seasoned authors know we need to keep adding planks to our platform, making it larger every day.

I was one of 100 people recently chosen to participate in the launch of Michael Hyatt’s new book, Platform: Get Noticed in A Noisy World.

This in itself was pure genius. Every one wants the invitation to the private party, we want the behind the scenes all access pass. To read the call out, here’s the link to Michael’s invite. Did you notice it’s not just about what you can do for him, but what it will do for you?

That is the number one lesson from this book. Everything you put in front of your readers, from blog posts to social media updates, must provide value to them!

Michael really knows how to take this to the next level. Here’s the link to his Platform book page. He breaks down the benefits his book provides to the reader. Many books, or book pages, fail to spell out what the purchaser will get from reading them.

This book doesn’t just tell you a few key points or things to do, it teaches you. Michael provides numerous links to extra info and also gives tons of examples. I’m a visual learner, so this is key for me.

God has been reminding me that it’s not about me. And the same is true in all aspects of our lives, as both authors and human beings. I ultimately write for God’s glory, and adding glory for Him is what’s all about. Remember to always add value, in everything we do.

What are ways you can add value to your book? How can you add value to the readers of your blog? How has an author added extra value for you?

Here’s an added value if you haven’t already read 7 Tips for Self-Editing Your Novel with Promotional USB Drives Before we can create a platform, our content must be amazing.