Tag Archives: Book Business Plan

Author Success: A “Well Business Planned” Future, part 12

PART TWELVE: Show and Tell

You have done it all! You have completed your Book Business Plan! We’ve covered:

But … I’m a Writer, Not a Businessperson, Your Subject Hooks and Selling Handles, How Long, Author Platform and Book Platform, Target Markets, Your Exposure Plan, Your Promotional Plan, Your Competition, Resources Required, Bio and Photo and Book Outline Requirements

It’s time for Show and Tell! Time to use everything you’ve worked so hard to put together (almost as hard as you worked to write the book!).

A serious author, one who plans for a full career as a writer, understands all the elements we’ve covered. They know that writing IS their business. They understand the responsibilities of promoting their business, expanding it, growing it … building it. A successful author is aware of the market, how to write for it and sale to it. That author knows that some battles – like developing an entirely new market or bucking what the readers, agents and publishers are asking for – just may not be productive. The point of gaining sales success is to also gain the ability to write what they want. Everyone must pay their dues, be seen, heard, watched and followed. It’s just how the world works.

An author with a strong Book Business Plan has established a commitment to their career. They’ve made the effort, did the work, faced the questions and created perfect solutions for marketing themselves and their books. They understand that this shift in the industry (the shift that drops marketing responsibilities onto the author’s shoulders) is not a bad thing. It is a challenge, but it’s also a boon! Authors who take the reigns into their own hands are always happier with the final results, especially if they’ve efficiently planned for those results. Think of it as a 12 step program to take us all from what the publishing world used to be … to what the publishing world will be. AND, making sure we’re all ready to ride this new machine to the winner’s circle.

Never forget, your Book Business Plan is a living breathing thing. It’ll change with the market, the industry and every new direction you choose to approach for bigger exposure and more book sales. It’s a perfect collection of all the elements and bits of information you will need to try something new with your marketing. It is your friend; it’ll gain weight and lose weight, it get cranky and be sweet. Treat this plan with respect and it will serve you well. And remember, with your next book – fiction, series or non-fiction – you’ll be developing another plan. Sometimes, especially if you are writing a series, you can simply hook onto the successful strategies you created in the first plan. But remember, there are ALWAYS new and expanded directions to reach possible readers. So keep your Book Business Plan fluid. It’s a template for your career, your future and just may become your best friend ever.

And now … (just in case you thought I was finished, LOL) …

There are a few advanced tools and strategies, among them the skill to sniff out and identify multilevel marketing and promotional opportunities. So, the next series in the Author Success blogs will cover just that.


Author Success: Multilevel Marketing and Promotion

This NEW series will cover …

  • The world’s most effective book launch
  • Understanding how to dig deeper into your manuscript for even more selling hooks
  • Taking your platforms to even more effective places for awareness and sales results
  • Taking what you know of your market and expanding it
  • E-book sales success strategies
  • Playing the genre game
  • Cross marketing your book
  • Ongoing sales strategies for when the book launch honeymoon blush is gone
  • Time management that gives you TIME TO WRITE
  • And more

Come join me for the next in my Author Success series … Multilevel Marketing and Promotions. The publication world is changing and YOU, the author, can be sure to be successful no matter what happens. How? By dancing through the raindrops and coming out dry and smiling.

PARADIGM WARRIORS

Author Success Coaching

Publicity Marketing Promotions

writerchef@sbcglobal.net

Author Success, A Well “Business Planned” Future

12 Lessons and they start here, But … I’m a Writer, Not a Businessperson

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Got Your Book Business Plan Rocking for 2011?

It’s a new year. 2011. Got your Book Business Plan rocking? What we know of the coming transformations in the publishing industry keeps changing even as you read this sentence, but the things we are sure of impact everything about the way we get published, and more importantly, the ways we promote our books. It’s become critical that an author understand strategic planning for success. How does an author do that?

So many have asked …

Building an effective Book Business Plan is the only sure route to victory. Your book (and future books) are your business and you must organize and set up the success you want for them. The publishing industry is shifting and altering, groaning under the weight of the old and power of the new. Without the right kind of plan, your book … your business … your career as an author … can seriously falter and fail. I’ve been doing online workshops and speaking at writing groups on this subject for nearly a year now, and am currently writing an Author Success Coaching book that focuses on the subject of Book Business Plans, why we need them, how to create them and how to make them more efficient as the market and industry changes.

I’ll be teaching this particular online workshop at least three times in 2011 and doing several live speaking engagements in the Los Angeles area between January and June on the subject. The first online Book Business Plan workshop coming up is at WOW (Women on Writing). This one is a full month long, and gives me the luxury of doing intense interactive work with the participants. Whether an author is traditionally published, e-published or self-published the basic tools and techniques in the workshop can make a world of difference in their success. WOW is the only place I do the entire, 4-week online workshop so sign up early.

January 17 – February 11, 2011

Women on Writing (WOW): Creating an Effective Book Business Plan

THIS IS A MONTH LONG WORKSHOP!

One of the most productive things an author can do is write a Book Business Plan. It’s a required exercise for authors writing non-fiction book proposals and easily as important as actually writing the book, whether non-fiction or fiction. Why?

  • Writing is a business
  • Writing is YOUR business
  • Nothing reminds a business person about the importance of their business more than a business plan

This is the reason the very first serious effort you should make in building your platform should start with a Book Business Plan. Want success? Click on the link above and join me!

Syllabus:

  • Putting it all together
    In one place and at your fingertips!
  • Your Hooks and Handles
    How to write your 25-30 word elevator pitch to carry you from gaining an agent, through full blown press and marketing promotions
    What about your book will make readers run to buy it?
  • Market Exploration
    Knowing who you’re writing for and where to reach them makes everything from conceptualizing the plot to envisioning the sales venues a whole lot easier.
  • Exposure and Promotional Plans
    Attention! We just love attention, but only the best kind. How to get it and how to make it work for you
  • Estimating and Limiting Costs
    Things to watch out for
    The difference between Free, Cheap, Reasonable, and the levels of effectiveness
  • Resources Required
    Expenses, permissions, packaging, and so much more
  • Book Promo Elements (The Pre-Launch)
    Visibility and Exposure: Website? Facebook? Twitter? Press release campaign? Advertising? Book Trailer? Book Signing Events?
    Expenses – in money and time – for this exposure
    How a powerful pre-launch is planned
  • Press Plan
    We’ll cover elements needed to help you develop effective press exposure
    Author Platform/Book Platform
    The critical differences
    Discussion covering elements and importance
  • A Last Word on Professionals
    What you know, don’t know and should know about professionals who can help create your success

I’ll be keeping you updated on the many other workshops I’ll be teaching and where they’re available in between my regular blogging.

It’s 2011! And it’s going to be one spectacular year for us all!

For more on Book Business Plans …

Writers Write. Successful Authors Write a Book Business Plan.

Author Success, A Well “Business Planned” Future

Lesson 1, But … I’m a Writer, Not a Businessperson

Lesson 2, Your Subject Hooks and Selling Handles

Lesson 3, How Long

Lesson 4, Author Platform and Book Platform

Lesson 5, Target Markets

Lesson 6, Your Exposure Plan

Lesson 7, Your Promotional Plan

Lesson 8, Your Competition

Lesson 9, Resources Required

Lesson 10, Bio and Photo

Lesson 11, Book Outline Requirements


PARADIGM WARRIORS

Author Success Coaching

Publicity Marketing Promotions

writerchef@sbcglobal.net


Author Success: A Well “Business Planned” Future, part 11

PART TEN: Book Outline Requirements

Yes, I totally understand your confusion. You’ve written a fiction and don’t understand why a book outline would be required for anything? The book is done, right? Had you written a non-fiction and created a book proposal, it would make sense. After all, in that case, you’re pitching a book you haven’t actually written yet and the publisher has a right to know what will be in it and how it will be presented. Sooooo … why do you need a book outline for a fiction?

You don’t, not for getting published or writing a book you’ve already written. You need a book outline to lay the groundwork for your marketing, promotion and publicity strategy.

Think about it. What can you do if you have a clear chapter by chapter outline of your book?

Locate a passage from your text
Recall a character’s specifics
Determine locations in the book
Determine plot events in the book
Find quotes from the book
Talk intelligently about your book

Now, let’s explore these one at a time.

  1. Locate a passage from your text – Why would you ever want to do that? Well, imagine you’ve just been asked to do a reading. You’ve been reading from the first chapter every time you do a reading and you realize that a few of the people coming to this reading may have heard it all before. Oh, where is that scene on the river? Was that in the middle? Nothing is more frustrating than trying to locate a passage buried in 85,000 words you wrote over a year ago. Having a chapter outline takes the pressure off for finding what you want.
  2. Recalling a character’s specifics – You sit at your computer with a big grin on your face because you’ve had such success with your first book, your ready to start writing the sequel! But … what was that guy’s name? How was it spelled? Was he from New York or St. Louis? Knowing as much as you can about your secondary characters saves a lot of research and repairs later after you’ve finished the manuscript. A good book outline is like a road map, helping you find, remember and confirm bits of information that can easily get lost.
  3. Determine locations in your book – There are several reasons to know this. If, for example, your book has an exciting event occur in Key West, you may want to connect Key West in your marketing and promotions strategy. If the event happens at a specific bar or restaurant or corner, you may want to do a book event right there. If you’re not traveling to Key West, creating a connection with the Key West bookstores may gain you a venue. If the book has a special situation happen in a specific location, perhaps you can display the book or a poster of the book there. Locations in your book can lead to terrific secondary venues for book exposure and sales. Knowing how to quickly locate those bits of information is fantastic.
  4. Determine plot events in the book – Again, this is wonderful to know at the drop of a hat. You may not be writing a sequel, but you may be writing a different book in the same genre. You can recall the general information surrounding an event you wrote two books ago, but are you repeating something in it? The location? The time of day or night or weather? Don’t you hate searching for hours for a little bit of information you really need about that event? Organized means time is saved. How cool is that?
  5. Find quotes from the book – Whether fiction or non-fiction, there will at some point be a time when you want to use a character quote. Where was that? Which scene did she or he say this or that? You may want to use it during a speaking engagement to discuss the development of that plot, or you may simply want to make that quote an identifying factor when people think about your book. It would be such a boon to easily locate that darn quote.
  6. Talk intelligently about your book – As we’ve discussed early in this Author Success series, being able to tell someone what your book is about in 25 words is super important. It serves as everything from a pitch to a sound bite … but your whole book is not 25 words. Its thousands of words and there will be times when you need to talk a little more. If you wrote the book over a year ago, went through the editing process with your publisher, began the sequel and/or possibly a different book all together and find yourself suddenly asked to talk about your book … you will need a few reminders. It’s only natural. You’ve moved on and if you don’t review the outline, you could come off sounding a bit confused. Talking intelligently about your book tells the interviewers and viewers or listeners a few important things.
    1. That you are excited about the story
    2. That you are thrilled to tell them about it
    3. That you are completely focused on what they want to know

The prospective reader really doesn’t want to know or care if you’re mind has moved on to the next project. It’s like actors doing interviews to promote a new movie. That work was done over a year ago and that actor is deep into a different role all together. He still must generate excitement for the movie he’s being interviewed about.

I do understand that creating an outline of your entire book seems like a strange, time wasting activity but trust me, as you develop your marketing, promotions and publicity strategies, everything in that outline is a reminder of yet another direction you can go. It may take some time to type out the whole outline, but the time saved down the road will be astounding.

Go on, don’t do it and you may learn the hard way that even though you know your book intimately, there’s no way on earth you remember that tiny detail you need NOW. Save yourself some frustration, come into the light and type an outline, LOL.

When you think about how many times you must refer back to your actual manuscript when developing a promotion, targeted marketing strategy, or simply trying to recall a detail for accuracy and continuity in your next book, you’ll be so glad you have an outline.

PARADIGM WARRIORS

Author Success Coaching

Publicity Marketing Promotions

writerchef@sbcglobal.net

Happy Halloween Everyone!

Author Success, A Well “Business Planned” Future

Lesson 1, But … I’m a Writer, Not a Businessperson

Lesson 2, Your Subject Hooks and Selling Handles

Lesson 3, How Long

Lesson 4, Author Platform and Book Platform

Lesson 5, Target Markets

Lesson 6. Your Exposure Plan

Lesson 7, Your Promotional Plan

Lesson 8, Your Competition

Lesson 9, Resources Required

Lesson 10, Bio and Photo


Author Success: A Well “Business Planned” Future, part 10

PART TEN: Bio and Photo

I can hear you now … “Oooh, this one’s gonna be easy! I already have a bio and photo.” Wait. Don’t think so fast. There are several things to consider when you’re creating the correct image for yourself. You’ll notice I didn’t say the “perfect” image for yourself and there’s a very good reason for that. This part of a Well Business Planned Future covers the obvious – a bio that honestly and correctly states your qualifications and a photo that shows not only who you are, but how you want to be perceived. In addition, today we’re going to slip into the realms of  voice, timely poise and action. In other words, we’re going far deeper into the complete image of who you, the author, are.

Why? Because if you aren’t interesting, no one will want to know about you, interview you, show your face in a story or article, or talk about you. It’s only half the package to promote your book and never make yourself a powerful force behind that book, especially if you’re writing a series or if you write in a specific genre that attracts loyal following. Many agents (including mine) say that the reader doesn’t give a squat about the author, only the book and title. My response to that is simple … BULL PUCKS!

Seriously. It’s this kind of thinking that has put authors in a terrible position. Because of the shifting publishing industry, the author suddenly needs to not only understand and implement marketing and promotion solutions, but they need to create image. Literary agents are begging their clients to build platforms, but on the other hand, telling them that the reader doesn’t care who the author is. How can one build a platform without a hammer? More precisely, how can you build a platform without being an author who is visible and approachable?

It’s time to take the reigns, ladies and gentlemen. Listen to everything and rather than shiver like deer in the headlights over this whole thing, drive the wagon where you want it to go. What makes sense and what doesn’t? Advice comes from a hundred directions, but sometimes it’s tainted with old tried and true systems that simply don’t work any longer. Book/Author marketing and promotion has slipped into a new place, it has unique, hybrid needs that require unique, hybrid solutions. Say “Bull Pucks” to your agent and/or advisors who tell you … “Readers don’t care about the author, only the book and title, and oh by the way, start building a platform” … and let’s get your image how you want it.

  • Bio and Photo. All right, kiddos, when I say you need a bio and photo I don’t mean just a bio and photo. I mean a BIO AND PHOTO. Your bio must be true, accurate and impressive. It should identify you as the one and only person qualified to write the book you wrote. Your photo must be up to date and attractive. Yes, I know you prefer to sit at your keyboard wearing a sweat shirt and baseball cap but trust me, you are not making the kind of statement you want to make by using such a photo in your Media Kit (or on your twitter or Facebook page, but that’s another rant all together). Do yourself a favor and be honest with your photo. Remember who’s looking at it – i.e. television and publication people who might want to interview you or include your photo in their story. Remember the movie A League of Their Own? No one wants to be the Marla Hooch who only gets the long distance shots or radio interviews. Respect yourself and what you’ve accomplished. You’re an author.
  • Polish and Poise. Yeah, I said polish and poise. If you have created a powerful Book Business Plan, you will need to back it up with a polished and poised image. Let’s slip into the future a bit. You have built a wonderful media kit, displayed prominently in your author and book platforms (in the media rooms of your author website and your book website). A writer from the L.A.Times takes a look. She discovers that you are writing in a genre that is selling like crazy, that your book is coming out soon, where it will be distributed and what it’s about. She has just about all the information she needs … except we want her to want more. She checks out your photo and unlike your original photo (which may have looked like a smiling homeless person holding an ugly dog), this photo tells a clear and precise story about the author are. You look awake, bright and intelligent. Now remember, I’m not telling you to hire a professional studio photographer to take a corporate portrait of you. Your best friend might have shot the perfect photo while you were reading in the park amidst autumn leaves, or while speaking to a group of other authors, or even while simply sitting on your sofa holding a copy of your book. What I am recommending is that the photo represents your personality in an inviting and interesting way. Now, let’s say Miss L.A.Times writer likes what she sees, she likes your look and your bio information sprinkled with wonderful bits of information about why you became an author. Now, she’s a little more interested and pops you and email, requesting an interview.
  • Action Polish and Poise. It starts the same way, a radio or television interviewer with a book-talk show responds to your request or press release, comes to your websites for the media kits and sees what he sees. Will you be interesting enough to present on radio or television? Is there enough information in the bio and photo to make a lively interview? Say they think “yes” and give you a call. You have questions to ask. Don’t get all flustered and excited and just say you’ll be there with bells on. Your questions should include:
    • What questions will they be asking?
    • Will they require a copy of you book to read before the interview?
    • How long will the interview take? Is it live or taped? How long will the total interview be, after editing?
    • Should you arrive early?
    • If television, what should you wear (colors or styles)? How much makeup should you wear, or will there be a makeup artist there?
    • If television, what should you bring? A book? Your banner or poster (the one you should already have for promotional events)?
    • If radio, will they be asking you to read an excerpt?
    • Will they provide you with a copy of the interview for your website media room?
    • What day and time will the interview be aired?
    • And finally … what kind of cookies do they like because you should always remember to treat them nicely. A sweet thank-you is always appreciated by the interviewer and staff, and doing something nice keeps you in their memory, a great thing for when your next book comes out.
    • In the meantime, if this is your first interview, try practicing. Get a tape recorder and listen to your responses to the questions they’re going to ask. Are your answers interesting? Is your voice clear or garbled? Are you talking too fast or too slow? Don’t panic, practice makes perfect. Listening to yourself talk or videotaping yourself as you make responses can be priceless in helping you polish your presentation style.

Now that we’ve covered Bio and Photo and a little more, what are you going to change about your current image? Are you ready for the big time because the truth is carved in stone … the Big Time doesn’t come to you, you have to lure it in!

PARADIGM WARRIORS

Author Success Coaching

Publicity Marketing Promotions

writerchef@sbcglobal.net

Author Success, A Well “Business Planned” Future

Lesson 1, But … I’m a Writer, Not a Businessperson

Lesson 2, Your Subject Hooks and Selling Handles

Lesson 3, How Long

Lesson 4, Author Platform and Book Platform

Lesson 5, Target Markets

Lesson 6. Your Exposure Plan

Lesson 7, Your Promotional Plan

Lesson 8, Your Competition

Lesson 9, Resources Required


Author Success: A Well “Business Planned” Future, part 9

PART NINE: RESOURCES REQUIRED

Fact number one: Writers are poor. Fact number two: Much of this information is repeated but oh how important it is, so read carefully.

With all the things you need money for, especially in this economy,  it’s super important to take inventory of the resources needed and the resources on hand before planning your book marketing and promotion. Sad, but long gone are the days when authors could take a cleansing breath and smile after signing the publishing contract. These tough economic times have hit the publishing industry just as hard, so … no free rides, no ready prepared schedules or built-in promotions for you, first time, brandy new or midlist author. You must know your target and toot your own horn to get the sales required to earn the second or third or fourth publishing contract.

Writing is a business and your book is the product your business has produced. We want to sell our products and it does take investment to do that but before you begin to hyperventilate, there’s investment … and there’s investment – investments of time and creativity as well as investments of cash.

Fear not, I have tips!

THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR

If you’ve crossed into the circle of writers who’ve finished a book, fiction or non-fiction, and begun to discuss this within various universes – writing and critique groups, online author groups and social networking venues – you will notice that suddenly you’ve become very popular. You’re receiving emails from businesses and professionals you never heard of. They’re offering free workshops and seminars, as well as workshops and seminars that cost a few (or more than a few) bucks. Someone has a plan, a system that can catapult you to the top, whether it’s a self publisher with a shiny, mesmerizing website, or a person with the right contacts to get you seen. Some are selling services they themselves implement, and others are selling a package of techniques that, though not complicated, are extremely difficult for the novice to use. No, they’re not all scams and I don’t want you to think everything that pops into your email box is a scam. Just be careful of the short cuts because guess what? There are no shortcuts.

Be careful to avoid the pretty bells and whistles, at least at first. The key to this part of the process is to be like a choosy shopper, read every label, think about the “value” over the “cost” and be smart.

AVOID THE BAD JUGGLING ACT

Your book is written and you’re about to move ahead onto the next phase of the journey. Whether it’s to choose an e-publisher, a self-publisher or traditional publishing process by going the query route, you still must begin your campaign toward success NOW. Just as you wouldn’t query or submit a badly written manuscript laden with typos, you shouldn’t assume marketing solutions will magically become visible and work for you. Don’t think it’s not your responsibility to plan or implement marketing strategies until after your book is represented, printed or sold to a well known publishing house. You must think and do NOW.

Publishers want to see that you are on top of your game, that you have taken the reigns and begun the journey toward being noticed, recognized and desired as an author and for the book you wrote. This is how you get noticed in the first place. If you don’t think the first thing an agent you’ve queried does is Google, go on, send out your queries and set up Google alerts for your name. You’ll be amazed. The bottom line? Goggle only recognizes you if you’ve been active. Active represents seeds of marketing. Marketing represents visibility and voila! Now you have shown the big boys who control your destiny that you are not only ahead of your game, you’re in control of it.

Be consistent! Avoid juggling, it can go bad. Bad juggling is when you vacillate. When you choose one path or image for your plan then change gears halfway through. It’s like shifting lines in the grocery store because the other one seems to be moving faster and damned if it’s not. This is why your plan must be solid and clear. Waffling is a no-no. Be sure of your path and walk it. You can’t be dropping all your balls.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that new and exciting possibilities will never tempt you. Being tempted is okay, just remember to be careful.

BE TEMPTED THE SMART WAY


You must set a budget for several reasons, if nothing else, to control your trajectory. At most, to control your cash flow as it goes out the door. Here are a few words that should be burned into your brain as cool, exciting and tempting promotional concepts cross your path.

  • Free
  • Cheap
  • Reasonable
  • Effective, High Visibility
  • Effective, Target Visibility

Free – First of all, nothing is ever really free, so always be watchful. Everyone wants something and if a professional or friend offers you something for free – time, a reading eye, suggestions or contact names – they will always want (and deserve) something in return. Field these opportunities carefully. Obviously you can’t get every service you need to market your book for free, but you can make good use of those offerings of free help, as long as you have something of value to the person doing the offering. Are they secretly writing a book too and might they want your good eye as a reader? If they’re stepping up to help with a book event, don’t forget to ask what special events they might have coming up and offer a hand. There’s a mutual give-and-take that makes free services work. Never totally discount an offer of free service, but always look closely and consider the returned favor … or hidden clause.

Cheap – Ouch, there is no uglier word in the budget language. Think about it. When something is cheap, it obviously is only a semblance of what it should be. It has holes or only works a short time, it functions only during the full moon or is only for left-handed users. When the price for a service looks too good, it usually is. Bait and switch is firmly planted in these offers too. Of course, you get what you pay for but hey, you can get so much more if you just pay so much more. If the service is significantly cheaper than the others, be a detective and find out why before you chance losing some of your precious budget.

Reasonable – Good word, reasonable. But what is a reasonable price for a promotional service? Let’s take book videos. Your genre and following have qualified this as a viable avenue for promoting your book. How do you know the best price? Think value. Look at every sight offering the service, write to the contacts at those companies, ask questions and never forget to inquire what additional services they offer that makes them better than the competition. Making a book video is cool, but what about marketing it? Does the company offer proven effective strategies for exposure of your book video? What is the added cost? How does it compare with other similar companies? Can you negotiate? Mix and match production packages? Does it fit in the budget? This takes some time but think about every element of this process the way you’d think about buying a house or a car. Reasonable is only reasonable if it has value.

Effective, High Visibility – Okay, this one gets a little complicated but let me simplify it for you. You have determined a budget. Let’s imagine the overall marketing and promotional budget is say, $2,000 and not a penny more. How you use and distribute that budget should depend on your strategy. A high visibility strategy is very different from a targeted strategy. It’s like shooting a bunch of pellets from a shotgun and watching them spray everywhere … or shooting an arrow aimed for the center bull’s eye target. Both approaches work for their specific goal, but what is your goal?

If you’ve chosen high visibility as your strategy, you’ll need to be very creative and careful with your pennies. Look for and at every free exposure you can get from book reviews to setting yourself up as an expert on something within your book. Connect with groups focusing on that subject of expertise, be willing to get where ever you need to go and speak to these people. Promote yourself online, use your strong platform then … and only then … start spending your budget wisely. Press campaigns can be free or they can be expensive. Release services rage from $25 to thousands. Be aware of when, how and where these services distribute your release. Choose one that allows attachments (i.e. book cover, author photo, etc.) for when you need them. Only use a service that reports that the press release did in fact go out and how many targets received them. Keep track of responses. Aside from a press campaign, budget for promo campaigns. Is your book one that should have tee shirts and mugs? What will you do with them? Will you sell them on your website? Give them away at events? Are they creative enough to be successful? Will you advertise and purchase ads?

High visibility means big exposure and while your book is waiting for publication, you need to be very vigilant about assuring that you are building a reading following that is waiting for the book. Keep in mind, you may need to expand your budget and hire a professional to assure your bucks get all the bang possible.

Effective, Target Visibility – Big difference here, and sometimes this is the most powerful way to build your following as it begins early and in your own back yard. You will focus your energies in your local exposure and expand it out. Speak at local book stores and libraries on your subject hook, and belong to local related groups you can easily participate in (i.e. vampire and fantasy lovers groups, foodie groups, gardening groups, whatever relates to your book will work). Create your own “completely” free press release contact list by calling local newspapers, magazines, television and radio stations and finding the correct contact. Make sure they know your name, so that when you email press releases, they recognize you. Get visible everywhere. If your book is coming out soon, announce it on a simple flyer posted at your dentist’s office, your vet’s office, your insurance man’s office, even on those local market and grocery store bulletin boards. Reach into your community and get some face time by helping with trash cleanup days or gardening days or even holiday local parades and picnics. It’s the original social marketing and it still works. Now you’re all friends and it’s no big deal to tell them you have a book coming out. Plan a big launch party and make sure you invite all your new friends in addition to the media. Celebrate the old fashioned way.

Now, combine this with online social marketing. Reach your fingers out further and further with a really powerful blog (updated at least once a week), strong Facebook and Twitter presence and all along, keep building an email list. Notify all your subscribers of any news. Keep the excitement growing.

All this and you have yet to spend a penny, so plan your $2,000 strategically. Expand into purchasing press broader release services as you get closer to your book launch. Use your budget wisely. Choose the perfect professional to help you push through.

THE BOTTOM LINE AND THE BUDGET

Where does the budget come from?

If you need a new pair of shoes for a job interview, you invest in a new pair of shoes, right? It’s the same with investing in your business (your book and you as an author). Some writers set aside a savings, accruing it along the writing road. Save coins in a big jar … add five bucks for every blog entry written … ten bucks for every 5,000 words written … fifteen bucks for every query sent … twenty bucks for every time they proudly call themselves a writer in public … a hundred bucks for signing with an agent … until they have a budget they wish to work with. Many authors seeking traditional publishing, project book advance figures and plan all or a portion of that advance for their budget. Either way, it’s an investment an author must make just as all professionals invest in themselves and their business.

Now, time to dust off that Excel program and get down and dirty. You have determined a realistic overall budget figure, now break it down.

Don’t forget the obvious. Your general expenses count too. Phone, postage, printer ink, internet service fees and phone expenses all count.  Next comes the professional services you are willing to contract for, this includes an attorney, editor, webmaster, publicist or assistant to help make everything happen. Now on to the PR, marketing and promotional expenses, book videos, advertising in book publications, audio books, book signing events and launch party. Also in this category would be banners and signage you may want for your book events, book plates or even posters. Next, travel expenses. Yes, travel expenses, even if you are targeting your promotions primarily to a local or statewide market, you must include travel expenses. Gas, meals, tolls, parking and the occasional hotel room. Don’t forget gifts and gratuities, for example, if someone is kind enough to reach out and invite you onto their radio or television talk show, nothing makes a better impression than a small gift. Chocolate works every time. Let’s talk about Donations. Will you be purchasing or ordering books to donate to an organization to help raise money for a charity? Remember to add the cost of those books or at least the postage into your budget. Yes, it will be tax deductible but you must pay first, right? Now we should consider education. As part of your budget and your book business plan, you should always be open to ongoing education. When there’s an author you love coming to speak at a conference, you will want to attend and learn what you can from him/her. Not only have you seen an excellent speaker, but the other attendees have seen you. Budget for it. And finally, the all important slush fund. This is a little bit of budget set aside for the absolute perfect service or promo that has tempted you and passed the “great value” tests.

Now, this obviously represents a full budget, not just your $2,000 for promotion, but do not be intimidated by all this. A well planned budget works within the parameters of reality and stretches things a bit. Naturally, you shouldn’t create a budget for $100,000 when you only have $500, but a dream budget as an addendum to the real budget is a perfect way to open your imagination to creative thinking. For example, if there’s no way you can afford a professional publicist, surely you can afford a few wonderful books to teach you. If hiring a book video company is too far out of budget, you can learn how to make a video yourself.

Be smart. Budget not only your money but your time. Create a timeline that will take you from finished book to book launch date and beyond. Know you’ll get there and just put one step in front of the other!

Last and most important, watch and monitor your budget like a hawk. Be honest, be realistic and get value from every penny.

PARADIGM WARRIORS

Author Success Coaching

Publicity Marketing Promotions

writerchef@sbcglobal.net

Author Success, A Well “Business Planned” Future

Lesson 1, But … I’m a Writer, Not a Businessperson

Lesson 2, Your Subject Hooks and Selling Handles

Lesson 3, How Long

Lesson 4, Author Platform and Book Platform

Lesson 5, Target Markets

Lesson 6. Your Exposure Plan

Lesson 7, Your Promotional Plan

Lesson 8, Your Competition


Author Success: A Well “Business Planned” Future, part 8

PART EIGHT: Your Competition

Who is your competition? If you write paranormal romance, that would be every book on the (physical and cyber) bookshelves that include romance or paranormal characters. If you write memoirs about 1950s housewives, your competition would be every other memoir about the 1950s and every fiction about the era. If you write cookbooks, it’s every chef, celebrity or otherwise, who finds a publisher. If you write erotica … okay, now it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty and erotica is a good place to start.

If you’re thinking “Oh hell, my book is better than any other book in my genre,” you could be absolutely right. But think hard. Are books the only competition you’ve got? I mentioned the cyber bookshelves, and e-books are something to seriously respect. If you’re writing them, the battle for visibility is growing as fast as the e-book market.

But really, who IS your competition?

WARNING! SHOCKING SPOILER!

There’s a lot more competition out there than you think. Let’s take the genre for erotica as it will clearly demonstrate my point easily. (Stop grinning like that, this is serious stuff.) Okay, quiet class and listen up. If you write erotica in any form, your competition includes:

  • Erotic books
  • Erotic compilations and collections
  • Erotic E-books
  • Erotic magazines
  • Porn magazines
  • Free erotica and porn on the internet
  • Erotic and porn videos
  • Erotic and porn movies
  • Erotic, porn and fetish clubs
  • Erotic, porn and fetish toy stores

Now, let’s take this a step further. This part no longer applies to simply the erotic genre. This applies to ALL writing genre, mediums and resources.

Now … really … who IS your competition?

DOUBLE WARNING! EVEN MORE SHOCKING SPOILER!

MONEY. Yes, money. As a writer you need to be very honest with yourself as to who your competition is and where it comes from. These are trying financial times – as is clearly evident by the current condition and shaky landscape of the publishing industry. And not just this industry either. No need to list the tough reality of unemployment and struggling finances everywhere. What this means to an author is that the few dollars a person has to spend will be carefully delegated. If an average person in these tough times allocates $100 per month for entertainment, where might that hundred bucks go? Dinner in restaurants? A night at the theatre? Netflix? An amusement park? Museum? Maybe it’ll be saved up for a vacation. How much of that “entertainment” budget will go for books?

Obviously the expenditure on books has dropped drastically. Considering the contents of your own wallet, how many books have you considered, how many have you actually purchased and why?

This is where knowing the shifting paradigm of the market is important. The reason traditional publishers do not promote an author (unless they’ve already proven Best Seller status) is that they simply can no longer afford it.

So, what’s a new or mid-list author to do? Understanding that our competition is a book written in the same genre is sure enough to make us write a better book. Knowing that we’ve got competition for our genre on the internet, from e-publishing and a dwindling entertainment dollar is even more important. Now what? Back up and punt?

No silly. Now that you have taken pencil and paper and clearly outlined not only every obvious competitors you have but the not-so-obvious ones too, it’s time to get to work and plan a strategy to truly compete.

Step back and take a deep breath then think it all through.

Which authors out there are successful? What are they doing? Do you like their promotions? Events? Blogs? Websites? How do they compare with yours? Are your efforts as many? As strong? As effective? How long have you been building your platforms? That could be the problem. If you haven’t been active much until you thought maybe it was time … it was way past time. Your platforms – both author and book – need to begin EARLY.

Competing isn’t fair at all. Everyone doesn’t just show up on the field of play and end up glorious winners. Think muscles. Think strategy. Think Maximus the Gladiator. He had a few things going for him, like knowing how to fight, long before he had to face his enemy in the Roman Coliseum. The arena looms girls and boys, and there are hundreds of competitors, big and small, waiting to cut us out of the game. The only way you can make competition fair, is to be as buff as your toughest competitor.

Now, hit the gym and get your platforms big and shiny. The world awaits your success!

PARADIGM WARRIORS

Author Success Coaching

Publicity Marketing Promotions

writerchef@sbcglobal.net

Author Success, A Well “Business Planned” Future

Lesson 1, But … I’m a Writer, Not a Businessperson

Lesson 2, Your Subject Hooks and Selling Handles

Lesson 3, How Long

Lesson 4, Author Platform and Book Platform

Lesson 5, Target Markets

Lesson 6. Your Exposure Plan

Lesson 7, Your Promotional Plan


Author Success: A Well “Business Planned” Future, part 7

PART SEVEN: Your Promotional Plan

Trust me, you NEED a promotional plan. A good, strong, well organized and pin point targeted promotional plan. I’ve been in PR, marketing and promotions most of my professional life and this is truly a subject you simply can’t ignore. I’ve seen it happen in every industry, not just the business of being a writer. It goes back to the basics of being a professional.

The basics are the nuts and bolts and these principals have been vital since the cavemen convinced each other to trade shells and feathers for goods and services. If you don’t tell someone you’re an expert at something, how will they know? If you don’t show them your skill, how can they decide they want it? If you don’t promote … you basically don’t exist.

Promotion is vital and it’s vital early. As writers, we’re all told to have a web presence. I have heard several people tell me that yes, they have a website for their book but it’s basically static. Not good. You MUST update your book and your author websites often, just like your blog. Granted, a blog may receive far more self gratification through responses and viewer numbers, but don’t confuse numbers with creating awareness. Your sites are where your creative juices and polished talent get to really shine.

Update your websites at least once a month, more if possible with anything that works – news, snippets of cut scenes, interviews with your characters. Remember, a writer has an unwritten agreement with a reader. If they come to your website, they need to know that you were there too, that you continue to talk with them and that you are aware of them. The other side of the coin is a static website, one that gives a reader/viewer/follower no good reason whatsoever to pop by at all. If you write literary novels, add a page that can feature your research techniques. Fantasy? Explore fantasy through the ages. Update information as to where you are on your next book, or how to buy your current book. List where you will be speaking or signing your book and what events you’ll be attending. Do small pieces on your characters. Be sure to put sample chapters up (more than a small excerpt )to hook your visitors. Make sure you have a ‘contact the author’ button so visitors can communicate with you. Embed your blog.

Your websites should NEVER be stagnant. They need to be living, breathing sales entities AND you need to tell as many people as possible that there’s always something new to see there.

Another promotional tool is social networking to shout out your accomplishments, but always remember that social networking loses its power when all the viewers see is you trying to sell your book. Be a person, make some friends, have some fun and your new found circle will be interested in knowing more.

Find other venues to promote yourself and your work. Step outside the box. Find other websites to become visible and active within. Find interest groups and connect on a common subject with your book’s topic. Make friends with other authors. Share excerpts with them. Look for other authors to promote when you tweet or blog or update your own site. Friends help friends and friends trust friends. It’s a basic key to good promotion. Look into free and minimal cost promotional services. Book videos and wonderful interviews you give mean nothing if you don’t promote them and no one ever sees them.

When do you start all this? Here’s the kicker, you should have started when you got the idea to write a book. Honest. When an agent or publisher is interested in you, the first thing he or she does is Goggle your name. When was the last time you Googled yourself? It might be a good time to check your online presence by taking a look. If you have little or no presence, no matter how great your book is, you may discover that not only is an agent or publisher less willing to look at you seriously … but so are prospective buyers for your book. They just don’t know you exist and it’s your job to tell them.

Promoting yourself and your book should be easy and exciting. After all, you are passionate about your book or you wouldn’t have written it … and second, making friends and telling your story as an author is a fabulous, quickening experience.

Get out your notebook and let’s get started.

  • Review your products (that’s you and your book) and clarify your message. This is vital, you do have a message, whether you write non-fiction how-to books or supernatural fantasy novels. Hone in on your message.
  • Understand your competition. Take some time to look at other authors and books in the same genre. Examine what they’re doing to promote, track their success and understand how the market accepts, understands and embraces them. Nothing serves a promotional plan better than knowing what works and doesn’t work … especially when someone else did all the legwork. (BTW, with a little luck, someone someday will be shadowing your promotional efforts too.)
  • Perfect your multi-level strategy. Determine how many powerful targets you want to approach and take aim. Good promotional strategy speaks to at least three targets in as many as a hundred different ways. Press releases. Social networking. Electronic media. Publications. Live appearances. And much, much more. Where, when and how do you want to shout out your message? Plan carefully and keep records. After all, any good promotional plan will happen again and again, but how do you know if, for example, buying a billboard on Sunset Boulevard actually worked if you don’t track its response? How many people came to a speaking engagement purely by word of mouth, how many from info in your Author Website Media Room, how many from press releases printed in newspapers or magazines, how many from a previous interview at a radio station or online blog? Know these things and every time you regenerate your promotional plan, you’ll be able to tighten it more and more until it holds nothing but the elements that work best for you and your book.
  • Careful with your timing and budget. There are good times and there are not so good times to promote. If your book is about a tsunami and one hits an island somewhere in the south Pacific right before your book is released, is it good timing or bad timing? If your book is about zombies, still unpublished but represented by an agent and there are fifteen new zombie books hitting the shelves in the next eight months, is it a good time to promote or not? Is it worth the time to drive across the state (or across the country) to speak at bookstores, libraries and writing groups? Is $10 too much to pay for an online ad? Is $800 too much to pay for a book video? The answer to all these questions lies in just two more questions … What value do you get for your dollar and/or effort? What’s the payoff? The answer to those questions helps you be more careful and efficient with your time, promotional timing and budget. For example, an $800 book video that also offers promotion for the video that can be tracked, as opposed to a book video made by your geek video-making friend then plopped on YouTube, may make you think twice. Is the expenditure worth it? If you must spend not only the time working with your geek friend to create your free book video, then spend additional hours trying to get everyone to pop in and see it, maybe it just doesn’t compare to paying a legitimate company $800 for a professionally created book video that’s guaranteed to appear on real television. Think value. If driving across the country requires staying in motels then speaking to massive groups of people waiting to see you and buy your book, there’s the payoff. If your zombie novel kicks butt over any other zombie book because it’s so unique, that’s counting coup. If your book sales soar because your romance book video appeared on the Lifetime Channel, you win. If not? Back to the drawing board. Being careful with your timing and budget means doing all the homework first.
  • Good follow-up matters! Even if you think it doesn’t, it does. If someone comments on your blog, respond immediately. If a fan sends you an email, return an email. If you send one press release to a newspaper and they don’t print it, keep that contact on your media list and send the next release and the next and the next. Eventually, they will print your news. If a reporter wants to talk, of course you would respond in a heartbeat. If someone wants to sell you a service, listen to them too, it might have value (if not for you, perhaps for another author you know, thus you’ll create two friends). If a fan writes every time you post a new entry on your book website, thank them for their loyalty. These follow up activities are easy, usually free and worth millions. Never leave anyone unanswered, and never forget to talk to that person, business, media outlet, agent, editor, publisher or movie studio when they ask to talk to you. And don’t ever forget – the lowly fan who simply posts a happy face on your blog is as important and Mr. Movie Studio Man. Good follow-up matters, because it’s how we build our public and fan base. It’s why people like Niel Gaiman and Russell Crowe use twitter, it’s the reason authors have facebook fan pages, it’s the reason the newspapers eventually do respond to your press releases and grow to respect you. Nothing makes a newspaper person happier than good follow-up.

PARADIGM WARRIORS

Author Success Coaching

Publicity Marketing Promotions

writerchef@sbcglobal.net

Author Success, A Well “Business Planned” Future

Lesson 1, But … I’m a Writer, Not a Businessperson

Lesson 2, Your Subject Hooks and Selling Handles

Lesson 3, How Long

Lesson 4, Author Platform and Book Platform

Lesson 5, Target Markets

Lesson 6. Your Exposure Plan