Build Your Marketing Wings on the Way Down

“The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person who is doing it.” – Chinese Proverb

“Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.” – Ray Bradbury

These powerful quotes began a wonderful book marketing seminar I attended recently with Sheri Fink, a #1 international best-selling, award-winning children’s author and creator of “The Whimsical World of Sheri Fink” children’s brand. Sheri writes books and gives talks that inspire and delight children while planting seeds of self-esteem. She is also very generous with sharing her best practices, as she has an extensive background in marketing.

No matter how you come to the table as an author, marketing is going to be a certainty for the duration of your career. How can we turn marketing into a labor of love? Sheri advises authors to “Write the story your heart wants to tell.” Although she enjoyed a very successful career in corporate America, her dream was to encourage and help children through writing. Sheri was able to leverage her work experience into a successful book launch, and within a few short years, her series has evolved in ways she never dreamed would happen. For example, she was approached by a playwright from Washington, D.C. who wanted to adapt one of her books for the stage, because he believed in her product. Over the course of a year, he shopped it around until a theater in Tennessee picked it up. It is now in production and will be playing to audiences in the near future.

During the seminar, Sheri emphasized the importance of graciousness and authenticity when interacting with readers. Going all out with a focus on creating a special event for the guests will result in a more enjoyable experience for everyone. At a recent festival in Mission Viejo, author Dean Koontz stayed hours longer than he was scheduled to attend a book signing. Why? Because he still had fans waiting to speak to him. Mr. Koontz posed for pictures and even put someone’s pet poodle on the table for a photo opportunity. This kind of attitude goes far in keeping fans for life.

The secret of your success will always be people, so grow your network and always add value for others. Be willing to give first. Know your readers and customers. When someone tells you they like your book, ask for a review. Make it easy for people to help you. Be specific in your request. Write and provide the campaign copy in advance. Always thank the people and share the result of their efforts, because books are marketed best by word of mouth. Your fans will always be your top marketers, so nurture and reward them in ways they will appreciate.

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Think of yourself as the CEO of your own business and have an entrepreneurial mindset. Your work space will be important, so create space for what you want to come into your life. Establish a physical environment that’s conducive to your best writing. Set up a schedule to support your writing, publishing, and marketing goals. Come up with a consistent font and a brand, an umbrella under which all of your projects can be covered. Be strategic in your marketing efforts. Leverage your books into a brand and promote the whole line.

Find a mentor and / or coach. Create or join a mastermind group, which is a set of 5-6 people who have phone conferences. In these meetings, the group asks each other for assistance, shares  accomplishments, and provides feedback. Be sure to leverage ideas from people with diverse backgrounds who are from different parts of the world. Hire interns to help you (pay them, set expectations, set goals, and let them know what they are getting out of the program you create). Give them a confidentiality agreement. At all times, show professionalism.

In closing, Sheri acknowledged that It takes a lot of courage to build your wings on the way down, but if you’re going to dream, then dream big. Don’t let let other people’s limitations limit you. Play to win – be fearless and take action, because you never know when you’re going to catch an elusive breeze that allows you to take off and soar to new heights.

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Sheri Fink’s first book, The Little Rose, was a #1 best-seller on Amazon for over 60 weeks, became the #1 Top-Rated Children’s eBook on Amazon, and won a gold medal in the Readers Favorite International Book Awards. Her subsequent books, The Little Gnome and Exploring the Garden with the Little Rose, debuted on the Amazon best-seller list.

From Stone Tablet to E-book

     

“There’s always room at the top,” said Daniel Webster. But who exactly he was addressing in his famous quote is up for discussion, seeing that he was a thorough-going elitist and excelled at being at the top.

However, it is true that there is always room at the top for those who set their sights on lofty peaks even if they come from lowly beginnings. For example, just look at the history of the Presidents of the USA including the present incumbent in the White House.

And there’s always a demand for talented, gifted writers, with relevant things to say.

These are challenging times for publishers, even perhaps the hardest times ever for traditional publishers. Remarkably it is only one generation ago that books and publishing had not really undergone significant change since the time of Caxton.

We, however, are already living in future-shock!

Nowadays it is fair to ask who or what is a publisher.

In times gone by, the publishing world was dominated by the big boys. The likes of Oxford University Press, Doubleday, Hodder Stoughton, Penguin Books, Faber and Faber, and Thomas Nelson to name but a few.

Now it is more likely to be ‘johndoepublishing.com’.

In the 19th century a whole new era in publishing began. A series of technical developments, in the book trade as in other industries, dramatically raised output and lowered costs. Stereotyping, the iron press, the application of steam power, mechanical typecasting and typesetting, new methods of reproducing illustrations—these inventions, developed through the century and often resisted by the printer, amounted to a revolution in book production.

Today a brave new world technological revolution has transformed the industry. We are on the verge of such dramatic and irreversible change that could effectively mean the demise of the printed, hold-in-your-hand, paper book.

Ray Bradbury’s book, Fahrenheit 451, depicted a society where books were systematically burned. In our society we simply don’t need them (printed books that is) anymore. We may see the end of the printed book in our own lifetime. Like Winston Smith in George Orwell’s 1984 we may need to search furtively in the backstreets and alleys of proletariat towns to find copies of old decaying books.

Publishing is about to take a leap into the future. The word out on the streets is change or die. Those who are always looking into the past are often blind to the present.

We can now read books on our laptops, iPads, and cell phones. It is so convenient. I can sit on train and carry a thousand books on my Kindle and access, read, interrogate, highlight, or listen to any of them within seconds.

Public libraries will one day no longer have books on shelves; instead, there will be terminals where we can ‘plug’ in and download any and every book ever written into our own personal private mini-chip. No matter what your point of view is, such a prospect is mind-blowingly amazing.

But where does all that leave publishing?

We have gone from the stone tablet to wax impressions, from papyrus to parchment, from paper to the e-book. It is difficult to predict the future of the printed book, but publishing and publishers will remain. They will, I am sure, change to meet the demands and the fashions of the times we live in. The ability to adapt is, after all, the difference between commercial success and bankruptcy.

To end my blog here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia:

“Although electronic books, or e-books, had limited success in the early years, and readers were resistant at the outset, the demand for books in this format has grown dramatically, primarily because of the popularity of e-reader devices and as the number of available titles in this format has increased. Another important factor in the increasing popularity of the e-reader is its continuous diversification. Many e-readers now support basic operating systems, which facilitate email and other simple functions. The  i-pad is the most obvious example of this trend, but even mobile phones can host e-reading software now.” 

I love the touch, the smell, the sound of turning a page in the candlelight when I am reading a real book in bed, but the future is at hand.

In the not too distant future, our children’s children may well ask, “Grandma what was a book?”

But writers will always be needed…

Won’t they?

And of course there will always be room at the e-Top.

What is your view of the changing publishing industry?

Writing Giants

Surf the web and you will see that the subject of writing is well-charted territory. No matter what your goal, a how-to manual is there to support it. Need to write grant proposals, company newsletters, technical manuals, instructional design or academic materials? Industry experts abound to provide a sea of knowledge about any aspect of writing imaginable. For advice on how to create fiction, it seems logical to consult some of the successful authors and writing giants among us.

As I began researching books on writing by authors, Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft kept appearing on the horizon. I extrapolated all that I could from that book and have started recommending it to other writers. Some of his tips include writing the first draft of a manuscript with door closed, consulting an ‘ideal reader’ that represents the audience, writing consistently each day (1,000 words or more), and writing about what the writer really knows, because that is what makes a writer unique. I’ve been applying King’s techniques into my writing regimen whenever possible. With over fifty worldwide bestsellers in his wake, clearly he knows what he’s doing.

Another writing giant willing to share his techniques is Ray Bradbury, who still cuts quite a swath. The Illustrated Man, Fahrenheit 451, Dandelion Wine and his other stories will forever swim in the waters of literature.  Bradbury’s book for aspiring writers Zen in the Art of Writing is full of sage advice. He suggests that people write about what they love or what they hate because that conviction and passion is crucial to the story. He advises authors to run after life with fervent gusto, to pursue their interests, and write about the things that make them happy.

Starting out, even surfing small literary waves can feel like riding giants. I’m getting more comfortable with what lies beneath (although it’s harder than it looks).  King and Bradbury cared enough to show the rest of us that it’s possible to conquer the sea, and when you do, an ocean of opportunity awaits. Besides, what one person can do, another can do.

Are you ready to paddle out?