Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Five C’s of Passion

Earlier this week I got to hear a former member of our photo club give a talk. It wasn’t just about photography though! Jackie exhibited passion for what she did, and a desire to fearlessly keep pushing forward. The items she discussed can be applied to anything in life and I’m stealing those points to show you how.

You need to maintain consistency. This can refer to your writing, maintaining the right POV or keeping details straight. This can apply to an author, as each book should at least as good as the previous one and giving people what they expect. It can be for the speaker, who should deliver quality talks every time.

This may seem obvious, but there’s more to it than that. What is it about you that’s unique? Take a different approach to your story. Try something completely new when speaking. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Give people something other than the same old thing. Let the creativity in you flow and find your strengths.

Customer Driven
Not that the customer is always right, but give them what they want while still remembering you are the professional. Work with them, but don’t be afraid to say no, this is best. Your readers want the story to go this direction? Weigh the options and then make the best decision for all, including yourself.

We call it networking. Building a platform. But it’s not just a 1000 blog followers or 5000 Facebook friends - it’s making quality connections. It’s establishing and maintaining relationships - meaningful connections with writers, authors, speakers, publishers, etc. This builds loyalty and leads to referrals.

This is the best one! A candle can light another candle. As we learn, change, and grow, we gain knowledge and experience - and this can be passed on to others. Giving it away doesn’t diminish us - like the candle, we are still lit. We can now share and teach and help others. And they in turn can pass it on to even more people.

As I listened to Jackie, I realized our journeys were very similar. While I am still writing, I am now in the teaching mode, and it dawned on me how much that is my passion. That’s why I do seminars on publishing and promoting. That’s why I offer private consultation for writers. That’s why I format books for authors. That’s why I do motivational talks for businesses and colleges. THAT is my passion.

And spurred by Jackie’s talk, I redesigned my professional website to appear more dynamic and unique, which is something she also talked about - Spunk On A Stick

How about you? How can you apply the five C’s to your passion? What is your specific passion?

Monday, July 25, 2011

How Far Have You Come?

Do you ever stop and consider how far you've come in your writer journey?

This Monday night a former member of our photo club is teaching the session. She was an excellent photographer when she left four years ago, and now she's critically acclaimed and does photo workshops and classes.

I've been a professional photographer for over twenty years, but I'm nowhere near her level. I'm sure many of the others will look at her accomplishments and wonder how she got to that point and be in awe. I thought that for a moment, and then it hit me.

How did I wind up a motivational speaker? How did I end up teaching classes on publishing and promoting and am now putting together a book on the subject?

How? I just kept learning and moving forward.

We often look at the achievements of others and see only the glamor. But success doesn't just happen. There's a lot of work involved, most of it boring. So often we're caught up in that work, we fail to stop and realize how far we've come. We may not be where we want to be, but we're so much further than if we'd never begun the journey. And besides, the journey doesn't really end until we take our last breath.

How far have you come? Have you really stopped to think about it?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Borders is Gone - How Will We Adapt?

Borders Inc. is closing all remaining Borders and Waldenbooks by September 30th. They had hoped for a buyout that would keep some of the stores open, but it fell through, and now they are liquidating all stores. I wanted to share some details and my thoughts on how this will affect authors and writers and how we can adapt.

While it’s tragic we’re losing 399 bookstores, it’s the 10,700 employees losing their jobs that tears at my heart. I know so many of those employees through my book signings. I called several on Tuesday, getting their email addresses so I can stay in touch.

Borders Inc. has been in trouble for years. I wish Waldenbooks had never merged with them, as those stores were my favorite to visit. The former Borders CEO ran another company into the ground - not sure why anyone expected different results here! Borders was so focused on competing with Barnes and Noble. They closed many profitable Waldenbooks just to support their big stores. Just over seven years ago, there were 700 Waldenbooks. By September 30th, the remaining 100 will also be gone.

Mismanagement wasn’t the only problem though. There’s the recession. More people are shopping online. Print sales dropped 25% in the past six months while EBook sales soared. Twelve percent of all Americans own an EReader. (And considering just over half of all Americans purchased at least one book last year, 12% is a huge number.)

What does all of this mean for authors? There’s bad news and good news.

Less shelf space is obvious. But there’s another issue - liquidation. Borders will slash prices to move merchandise, but 50-75% of it will be returned. Now, the average for hardbacks is 31% returns. (Scary, huh?) Just think what will happen when that number doubles. Authors can expect a big dip in royalties when this happens. Publishers will also feel the squeeze - and many will also take a big hit from the millions they’ll never recoup from Borders’ outstanding debt.

One article stated that this means less new authors will be discovered because of fewer employees recommending books to customers. Two thoughts on this-
First, the big publishers pay for those recommendations. (I remember Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters came out during one of my book tours - employees had to promote the title and they all HATED the book. Ironic, huh?)
Second, how do most people find new authors nowadays? Online and by word of mouth. No bookstore employee needed.

Here’s the good news for authors with small presses and self-pubbished authors - the Internet is a more level playing field. Bookstores have always been owned by the Big Six. They pay top dollar to have their books placed up front. And while they still do that to some extent online, there is more opportunity for smaller books to gain the reader’s attention. Small publishers also have niche markets outside of the bookstore that the big publishers overlook.

If you’re a small publisher author or one who’s self-published, now is your window of opportunity! The Internet is yours. EBooks are booming. There are thousands of retail outlets besides bookstores who carry books. Businesses and organizations buy specialty books. So many options! But you must move quickly - the big publishers are slow but they’re not stupid. They will still try to dominate. (Did you know Amazon once had a special where for $1000 your book would appear prominently next to the big publishers’ books on the main pages? The Big Boys protested and the program stopped. Doesn’t that make you mad?)

Now, what are your thoughts?

And I’d like to thank the wonderful employees of Waldenbooks and Borders for all the years I was able to invade their stores. I will never forget you!!


Monday, July 18, 2011

Promoting Tips From an Award-Winning Author

(If you're here for the Inspiration Blogfest, it's the post below - HERE)

I have the honor of welcoming my dear friend and mentor, p.m. terrell, to share with you about promotions. I’ve admired Trish from day one and have strived to attain her level of grace, poise, and generosity. Watching her put together Book ‘Em NC has been amazing! She knows how to promote - and she’s here to share some tips today.

The most intense adjustment I’ve ever made as an author was making the transition from solitary writer to carnival barker.

When my first book was released, I believed the public would beat a path to my door. All I’d have to do is start writing the next book while the first was flying off the shelves.

Then reality set in.

My publisher’s marketing rep, Wanda, began the long process of educating me on sixty percent of my new job—selling my own books.

When the book is in production, it’s time for the author to start the book buzz. It begins with review copies to all the Usual Suspects.

And for me, it begins with a grassroots effort.

Over the years, I’ve accumulated thousands of contacts—followers on Facebook, Twitter, or my blog; people who have signed up to receive my newsletters; and those who order directly from my website.

My first step is scheduling the book tour. I still do a physical, multi-state book tour because it gives the media in those locations a reason for printing feature articles about me and my book.

I write a series of articles as if I am the reporter interviewing the author. I’ve found that print media rely more on articles they can cut-and-paste than the overhead associated with interviews and unique articles. Thirty to sixty days before I will be in their area, I email the articles to the media in that region. I also attach two high resolution pictures: one of me and one of my book cover. I often arrive in those cities to see articles reprinted verbatim.

In fact, with my historical books, I took that method a step further.

I pulled out a map of a river journey taken by the Donelson party of 1779-1780, the subject of my award-winning book, River Passage. Then I googled the print media along that river route, wrote an opening paragraph on how the book specifically included history of their region, and completed the article with an abbreviated story of the Donelson party’s journey. The results were front page articles spread over a thousand miles.

I also turn to social networking, letting my followers know my next book will soon be released. It’s important to avoid blatant selling. Instead, I mention reviews as they’re released or provide snippets of background on the writing of the book, the plot, and the characters.

As I get closer to the release date, I mail post cards with the book cover and review quotes on the front, and ways to buy the book on the back.

Today’s authors need a platform.

A platform is the author’s stage and how large their audience is. If one percent of that audience purchases the book, would it result in sufficient sales? And if each person who read it enjoys it and tells someone else, would it help to propel the book to a higher status?

Authors at the top of their game have national media to help propel their sales—an appearance on The Today Show, for example, will reach millions. If they’ve already written a bestseller, they have a built-in audience. Their platform is enormous.

When authors are not yet at the top of their game but working their way up, they have to build that platform.

It all comes back to exposure.

I once knew an author who spent $30,000 to advertise one week’s book signings. It was a terrible move. Have you ever turned on the TV, the radio, opened a newspaper and a magazine, all to find one person splashed across it? Now flash forward one week and the person has disappeared. Move forward another month and without a sustained presence, all that publicity has become a distant memory.

And so have the author and the book.

Book publicity is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. Not only do you have to start the buzz, but you must find ways to keep the buzz going and growing.

p.m.terrell is the internationally acclaimed, award-winning author of 12 books, including Take the Mystery out of Promoting Your Book. For more information, visit her website and blog.
And for more information on Book ‘Em NC, visit the official website and blog!

If you ever get a chance, you simply HAVE to meet Trish in person!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Inspirational Blogfest

I double-booked for Monday, so this post is for the Inspirational Blogfest, hosted by Summer Ross at My Inner Fairy.

My scheduled guest, author p.m. terrell, offers promotional tips in the following post.

I have chosen to post an inspiration photo as a my prompt. Please enjoy one of my most popular photos, “The Mist.”

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Challenges of the Next Book

Or, how not to confuse my readers!

I am now at the halfway point of my next book. Composing a manuscript based on my Publishing 101 & 102 seminars has been both easy and hard.

Easy, because I’ve been teaching these seminars for almost five years. My handouts and notes are very detailed and loaded with references. Writing it all out is like spending a six-hour stretch giving both seminars. And it’s nice that I now have time to explain things in greater detail.

The hard part is two-fold. I want to provide as much detail as possible. I want to list every pertinent website and book. I have many listed in my handouts, but the amount of publishing industry bookmarks I have online is frightening. Plus things are changing so fast. It will take some time once I’m through writing to put it all together.

The other difficult thing is comprehension. I know this stuff forwards and backwards, but as I’ve seen from those who attend my seminars, some people don’t have a clue about publishing or promoting. (Some aren’t even online!) My concern is that I will leave out something that I just assume everybody knows and confuse someone.

So I will ask you - what are some critical websites for writers and authors, beside the obvious? (Writer’s Digest, Preditors & Editors, Etc.) What part of the process confuses you and needs explaining? I want to make it concise and complete for my readers, but I just know I’m gonna leave out something critical!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Managing Expectations

Today I have a very special guest, author and woman extraordinaire, Karen Walker. We met a few years ago through a blog tour class and I soon discovered we’d lived in Albuquerque for a whole five months together - although we never met. Karen’s book, Following the Whispers, is a powerful memoir, and I recommend that everyone pick it up. It recently became available as an EBook, so I asked Karen to share today about managing expectations.

First of all, I’d like to thank Diane for helping me format “Following the Whispers” so that it could become an e-book. She is awesome to work with. It’s funny how you come to love people you’ve not met in person through an online relationship, but it’s true.

This is the first stop on my virtual book tour and the topic is managing expectations.
Expectations get me in trouble. If I expect to either: have a good time, have the best vacation ever, meet the man of my dreams, lose those 20 pounds, fill in your own particular thing here, I’m doomed. Because we cannot control results.

What we can do is have a dream and hope for a certain outcome. We can set our intention and place our energy and attention on whatever it is. But to expect to get what we want sets us up for disappointment and for me, puts me on an emotional roller coaster--one that doesn’t stop.

As a writer, I wanted to be published. I had dreams of being on Oprah. Those dreams were dashed when I couldn’t even find an agent after almost two years of trying. I had to ask myself what I hoped to achieve by publishing my book. The answer came: I wanted to share my story with others in hopes of helping those struggling with similar issues. It wasn’t about making a lot of money or becoming famous. If I had expected those things as a result of publishing, I would have failed.

So dream away, hope all you want, set goals and take the steps to reach them. But don’t expect anything, accept what does occur, and your emotional journey will be a bit more peaceful.


BTW - you should hear the spunk in Karen’s voice! Matches that red hear perfectly.

Karen can be found blogging at Following the Whispers

Following the Whispers can be purchased at:
Amazon or SmashWords

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Searching for a Publisher?

There’s always Google (my favorite Internet word) but it’s more productive to browse through a list.

For those of you ready to query (or you will be very soon) here’s some sites that will help you find your dream publisher:

Publishers Global - I recently discovered this site and it’s a gold mine! A very large listing of publishers from around the world. It also lists publishing resources much like the Literary Marketplace - printers, distributors, illustrators, etc. Excellent site!

Publishing Central also has a list of publishers and you can search by genre. (Be warned - the first couple presses listed in any search are often subsidy presses.)

Every Writer’s Resource has a listing of publishers - and more.

Everyone knows Preditors and Editors! You can only search by name, but it great for checking out potentially bogus publishers, editors, and agents.

SFWA has a section called Writer’s Beware.

And Aeonix explains why you should avoid subsidy presses.

Before you begin searching for the ideal publisher, be sure to visit BISG and determine your manuscript’s exact genre.

Happy searching!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Discussion - Length of Blog Posts

Another blogger contacted me this weekend about post length and what is too long. That got me to thinking, so I decided to open it up to everyone here for discussion.

I think a lot depends on a blogger’s style, format, and topics. That said, anything over 1000 words is generally too long in my opinion. Some bloggers have a small group of friends they visit and have time to read longer posts, interviews, and writing excerpts. Most of us follow a larger circle of blogs though, and we don’t have time to read really long posts. It’s a shame, because I follow a couple excellent writers and rarely get to read their posts due to the consistent long length.

On my own blog, I try not to go over 1000 words, and usually my posts are in the 300 - 600 range. During the A to Z April Blog Challenge, they were under 200. I know a couple bloggers who masterfully hit 500 or less every time. (And I know them because I have time to read them!)

But that is just my opinion! What is yours on the subject of blog post length?