Nov 082012
 
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Promotion is the activity around which you sell your book.

There are literally hundreds of book promotion opportunities on the internet and all around you in the real world.  Some cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, some are free. Here’s the problem … BOOK PROMOTIONS lump many authors together in one place (creating a competitive environment) or they try to create urgency sales by giving away free, 99 cent books or discounted books within a limited time period. Many of these are silly games or puzzles which in and of themselves aren’t bad ideas, except for the fact that so many authors are doing the same thing at the same time, and almost none of these promotional ideas focus on the elements that make your book special. Being herded into a tight environment with other authors is less successful than you think. Now keep in mind, I’m not telling you NOT to do any of these things … I’m simply explaining that using such promotions alone will not gain you the book sales above and beyond other authors. You have got to go further and move into areas other authors haven’t approached with your promotions.

Yay, it’s finally time to promote that book you’ve been writing, talking, blogging, Facebooking and Twittering about. Time to promote the book to all those prospective readers you’ve been reaching out to. Remember all those goals listed under Tool #1? Now you can make them happen.

The question is, how to promote? Again, it’s all inside your manuscript. Create promotions and events that are so tightly related to your story and characters you can hear it squeak. If the murder in your mystery takes place in a museum, hold your book launch events and speaking engagements in museums or museum gift stores. Find the hook and twist it tightly to make it your promotional key.  Is your main character a coffee expert, (cognac lover, cigar connoisseur)? Have your events in a coffee shop (liquor store or cigar shop), use the store’s discount coupons as bookmarks, campaign to have a coffee drink at the coffee shop named after your book. Does you story involve a corrupt lawyer poaching wild animals in Africa? Hold your events at the zoo and have tee shirts that say “So Zoo Me!”

Promotion is about making a splash but you can’t make a splash without any water, a whole sea of unique hooks you’ve already written into your book. The water’s there, all that marketing and publicity is just waiting for your activity.

E-published? Again, there are perfect venues for your promotions. The Zoo has a website. So does the museum and the coffee shop. They might be thrilled to let you show your book on that website, perhaps sell your book with a link on that website, especially if you’re donating a portion of your profits to support the zoo or museum or a charity near and dear to the coffee shop’s heart.

Get creative. Seek every opportunity and promote! And by the way, don’t forget the simplest and most effective way to promote. JUST TELL PEOPLE! Tell all those friends on Facebook and Twitter that your book is now available and where they can buy it. Let all your associates in those “hook” interest online and live groups that the book is out, and remember to get the news out to your email groups too.

Next time we’ll cover Author Success Tool #9, Resources Required.

Feel free to contact me at writerchef@sbcglobal.net with any questions or to share your success stories! If you’d like to know more, let me know and I’ll put you on the mailing list for online workshops and information about my book, Finding Author Success: Discovering and Uncovering the Hidden Power within you Manuscript, “Finding Author Success” available in print and ebook on Amazon, B&N, Apple and Sony

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Sep 202012
 
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Marketing is building awareness that your book exists. An author’s marketing tools are:

  • Your Polished Image
  • Your Platforms Activity
  • Your Social Networking

Sound a little like everything discussed in these Tools for Author Success so far, doesn’t it?

It’s important that you understand that Marketing – creating awareness – is the only way promotions can work! If no one has heard of your book when you finally begin promoting it and creating events to sell it, NO ONE RESPONDS. They need to know the book and you exist before they’re willing to spend the money to buy the book.

 If you don’t blog regularly, use Facebook and Twitter effectively and on a regular basis, keep your websites updated and Media Room neat and full with every element readily downloadable for the media to use, you’ve dropped the ball. Only with all these things in play and working like a perfectly oiled machine, can you know that you’ve done your job and created awareness for your coming book. If you haven’t, all your promotional efforts will fall on deaf ears. Sorry. Sad but true.

Marketing isn’t a general rule, it’s the life blood life force for success. Take a serious look at your marketing efforts and determine if you’re doing everything you can to create awareness, or doing the bare minimum and wondering why your book sales are not fantastic. Marketing is like wearing a red silk tie every single day … everyone around you recognizes you as the person wearing the red silk tie! What we’re shooting for here is that every time the name of your book is mentioned on social networking, blogs, living, active websites and among readers of your … you and your book’s red tie are getting more and more recognizable! Soon everyone will be wearing red silk ties and reading YOUR BOOK!

Next time we’ll cover Author Success Tool #8, Promotion.

Feel free to contact me at writerchef@sbcglobal.net with any questions or to share your success stories! If you’d like to know more, let me know and I’ll put you on the mailing list for online workshops and information about my book, Finding Author Success: Discovering and Uncovering the Hidden Power within you Manuscript, “Finding Author Success” available in print and ebook on Amazon, B&N, Apple and Sony


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Jun 142012
 
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Every Author has an idea of what their image should be. Some are so perfect and careful about it, they have no image for the fans to connect with. Others are rebellious and insist on shocking first then wondering what they have so few fans or followers. It’s kind of like that line in the film Bull Durham, where baseball catcher, Crash Davis, comments on the fact that his astoundingly talented minor league pitcher is basically …

“Your shower shoes have fungus on them. You’ll never make it to the bigs with fungus on your shower shoes. Think classy, you’ll be classy. If you win 20 in the show, you can let the fungus grow back and the press’ll think you’re colorful. Until you win 20 in the show, however, it means you are a slob.”

Okay, authors, let’s talk about your image. Please.

No Facebook or Twitter avatars your mother would be embarrassed to see. No pictures of your dog or cat cleaning itself. No photos of you drunk at a club, whooping it up. You’re an author and should be aware of your image. This doesn’t require a professional photo session with an expensive photographer, just a nice picture of you, clean and neat. We don’t need to see you working hard at the computer or appearing overly serious. You can show your personality, smile, enjoy the moment. Just remember, literary agents, publishers, other authors and your prospective book buyers are looking at that avatar. Are you really proud of it?          

If you prefer not to use a photo of yourself, your book cover is a good option. No book cover yet? Use an image that represents your book until you have one.

And one final suggestion, please don’t change your avatar picture more than once a year. It’s how your friends and followers recognize you. Don’t confuse us.

No matter what you write or who your audience is … YOU are a professional. You’re an author, be proud of it.

Next time we’ll cover Author Success Tool #7, Marketing.

Feel free to contact me at writerchef@sbcglobal.net with any questions or to share your success stories! If you’d like to know more, let me know and I’ll put you on the mailing list for online workshops and information about my book, Finding Author Success: Discovering and Uncovering the Hidden Power within you Manuscript, “Finding Author Success” available in print and ebook on Amazon, B&N, Apple and Sony

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Oct 192011
 
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Publicity is using the media to create relevant exposure for your book

Take a serious look at your book, especially your “hooks” those unique elements that not only make your book stand apart, but identify additional readers for your book beyond genre followers. What in your book or connected to your “hook” might lend itself to publicity or a charity? Connecting with a charity does several wonderful things. It shows you’re a caring author, it supports something you care about, and it connects with your story.

Don’t just randomly choose a charity. If your book has nothing to do with cancer research and none of the characters are cancer survivors, it’s not really productive to connect your book with that charity. If the charity is near and dear to your heart, by all means support it, but don’t connect it to your book, it will look and feel random.

If, on the other hand your story or non-fiction subject does directly connect with a charity, move ahead. Create fundraising events. Donate a portion of your book profits to the charity and make sure they know. Be sure to have the charity logo displayed with an announcement that a portion of your profits support Cancer Research, or The Kidney Foundation, or the ASPCA or whichever charity works.

It’s a kind of giving back that is good for the author’s soul and good for the book buyer’s soul. And, as long as you are doing well, the charity will notify it’s supporters that you are doing this. It just may result in more sales.

Be honest about this, no fake or half efforts. Charitable organizations all over the world are desperate for financial help. It’s a chance for the author to be a hero.

All of this takes place in the world of the media. Press releases and press contacts are a huge part of your publicity, and the charity will benefit from this press as well. Remember the Media Room in your Author Platform website? This is the kind of information that goes in there. If a newspaper does a story about your charity fundraising event, you post that story. If you are interviewed and/or a podcast is created, you post it in your Media Room. News doesn’t just happen, you have to make it happen.

Next time we’ll cover Author Success Tool #6, Your Image.

Feel free to contact me at writerchef@sbcglobal.net with any questions or to share your success stories! If you’d like to know more, let me know and I’ll put you on the mailing list for online workshops and information about my book, Finding Author Success: Discovering and Uncovering the Marketing Power Within Your Manuscript available November 5 in print and ebook.

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Sep 012011
 
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Time for some serious research.  What other authors write in your genres? Where can one buy their book? Are you e-published? Who else is e-published and successful? What are some of the best promotions or marketing efforts you’ve seen for a book? Do book videos work for your genre? Do you understand how the most successful authors manage their careers?

I’m sure you can come up with a hundred more questions about your market as well. It’s vital to ask the questions, explore what other authors are doing, what works and doesn’t work and how far “wide” or “deep” they go with their marketing strategies.

Don’t just look at the publishing industry either. Look around. Everything you buy is being marketed and promoted. What kind of promotions make an impact for you? Can that approach work for your book?

Next, where is your market? If you’re e-publishing, your buyer is most likely on the computer. Exploration for ways to reach them goes further than simply using your platforms, you have to reach them at their platforms. Remember when you read an interesting blog, respond to it. Comment. Become known to the author and they will frequent your blog too. (If one of your “hooks” is dog lovers, you need to connect with dog lovers online. They have blogs. You can respond because you like dogs. After all, there’s a dog lover in your book.) Use all the promotional options open for authors; blog tours, interviews, book reviews.

If you’re both traditionally published and e-published, never forget to find your prospective buyer through your “hooks”. If you don’t know who will want your book, how can you talk to them?

Next time we’ll cover Author Success Tool #5, Publicity.

AUTHOR BIO

Deborah Riley-Magnus is an author and an Author Success Coach. She has a twenty-seven year professional background in marketing, advertising and public relations as a writer for print, television and radio. She writes fiction in several genres as well as non-fiction.

Deborah produces several pieces weekly for various websites and blogs. She also writes an author industry blog, http://rileymagnus.wordpress.com/ and teaches online and live workshops as The Author Success Coach. She belongs to several writing and professional organizations. Her book, Finding Author Success: Discovering and Uncovering the Marketing Power within Your Manuscript is scheduled to be released in October, 2011.

She’s lived on both the east and west coast of the United States and has traveled the country widely.

 

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Jul 142011
 
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Yes, platforms. Plural. If a politician stands on only one platform, he reaches only one set of ears. The same goes for an author. Your job is to reach as many sets of ears as possible, to reach them quickly, efficiently and with as little difficulty as possible.

What are your platforms?

Author Website (or blog) – This website (or blog) is specifically designed to promote you, the author. It will feature you, your books, your future projects and plans. It will offer insight to your future books and tell viewers what you’re up to. This site will have a specific area for a Media Room where you’ll list announcements about your various speaking and book events, upcoming interviews and links to videos or audio interviews you’ve already given. The Media Room will show all the press releases, have a downloadable bio and photo of the author, and contact information for the media. If your book is e-published, you will use this website in a big way, creating as many avenues to promote all your work as you can, and connect with as many online readers as possible. E-published or traditionally published, your author website address should appear on your Twitter and Facebook profiles, email signatures, everywhere you can post it. This web presence is about all the author’s work, published articles, short stories, all the books no matter genre and what the author’s plans are for future books and all the news about his/her work.

Book Website – This website is very different. A Book Website is specifically designed to promote, market and expose a specific book or genre of books. For example, if you write romance, all of your romance (and sub-genre romance) books would have a showcase on your Romance Book Website. BUT, if you also write non-fiction about aviation, that would require a completely different book website. Why? Simple – these are two very different readers and a prospective book buyer will not explore a romance website for a book about landing gear, anymore than a reader wanting romance cares to explore a website about pilot qualifications. These two book websites should treat their specific audience differently and never cross reference to each other.  IMPORTANT NOTE: an announcement about a book signing for your romance series would certainly be announced on your Author Website AND your Romance Book Website, but NOT on the Aviation Website. Also, an announcement about your speaking engagement to an aviation organization will appear on your Author Website AND your Aviation Book Website, but NOT on your Romance Website. Always respect and focus on the primary viewer of that particular website.

Author Expertise Blog – This can be as simple as an ongoing exploration of the research you did to write your book or are doing to write your next book. It can explore politics in your story and even talk about choices you made for the story.  You can talk about character exploration and development, how you plot your books and where your ideas come from. You can use this blog to announce information about your promotions, and you can (and should) participate with other authors and guest blog on their blogs, announce their events on your blog and/or do interviews and reviews of your author friend’s books. It’s always wise to embed your author blog into your Author Platform website.

Character Blog – Not necessary but oh so much fun! This is a playful way of exploring your character/reader relationship dynamic. If your character is a curmudgeon and you develop a blog by him where he states his point of view and banters with the readers when they respond, you’ve made inroads into building loyalty and interest in the book. Obviously this doesn’t work so well for non-fiction, unless you get very creative and invent a fictitious expert to state his feelings on the book. You’d be surprised how many readers respond to this approach and get involved with comments. If you’re e-published, this Character blog approach is super effective. Remember, an e-published book must reach e-readers, screen readers, and those fascinated with all things techie. Have fun with this, create impact and take your cues from the responses you get.

Twitter –Yes, you must Twitter. Create an account and build your followers carefully from a pool of possible book buyers, future fans, fellow authors, publishers, editors and agents. You will be amazed how much you can learn about the industry in your Twitter stream. Be active but be careful. Don’t let it take you over. A good rule of thumb is to use Twitter at least twice a day for about 10-15 minutes each time. Interact, eavesdrop and comment on other follower’s tweets, promote your blog and website updates, and always respond when someone talks to you. Efficient and effective tweeting is a learned skill and you’ll soon discover that when done right, followers think you’re there all the time and full of fun and valuable information even though you only tweet during a few breaks a day. I suggest you use the TweetDeck as it helps you organize several streams of targets to follow, but you can do it any way that works best for you.

Facebook – There are several ways to use Facebook and I strongly suggest you Facebook every day. Not only are there different people on Facebook than Twitter, but they communicate differently. Without the Twitter limitation of 140 characters to make a point, Facebook creates several venues of communications. Everything from your current status and direct messaging, tagging and inviting friends to join events or joining groups targeted to your book are all there. Facebook every day with something interactive in your status. Build friends by reaching out and asking for friends but be careful what kind of friends you make. If you want to talk about the subject of your book which is about murder investigation techniques, you should have very few baker friends or friends who love scrap booking. Be sensible and be targeted with all your efforts. A downfall at Facebook can be the numerous social games and game forums. Choose how you want to spend your Facebook time, be practical and efficient because as writers and authors, we really need to protect our writing time. Do NOT mix your personal Facebook activities with your book Facebook activities. In other words, keep those accounts separate.

Email – Email lists. We have them, several of them in fact. We build them almost daily but what we seldom do is categorize them to make them easy to use. Create a group list for people you know who would love your book, love to read your blog updates, love to know what’s happening with your book or love to hear about your next project. It’s likely that if you explore the massive contact list your already have, you can find many people to fall under this group category. Create the group and voila, you’ve made one more contact to take one more person to your blog or your Book Website Media Page or invite to your book launch party. You’ve created one more venue for helping your author friends promote their books when you announce you’ve done a blog tour interview for them, and you’ve opened an opportunity for the receivers of your emails to pass them further to their friends and followers interested in your genre. Email. Right there under our nose. I’m sure if you think about it, you can find several ways to create email lists and use them to streamline promotional and marketing strategies.

Online Groups/Organizations – You can find them on Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo Groups, anywhere! These groups can work as support for your writing efforts, or serve as association groups to promote your book. It takes a bit to find them and decide how they’ll work for you, but this is worth the effort. Be a joiner but don’t overdo it. Remember, participate only in the groups that not only are interesting to you, but serve your efforts as well. If you do join, really make an effort to participate. Get into the discussions, especially if this is an interest group that pertains to your book plot or non-fiction subject. Never imagine that simply joining anything – a group, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Yahoo private groups and/or organizations – means automatic sales. It simply means that you’ve opened your possible audience. You’re doing it in a protected environment and many groups will slap your wrist if all you do is promote, promote, promote. You need to seriously participate in the groups, give and get support and that’s what turns into book sales.

Live Networking – With all the online and internet hubbub, we often forget our real life, living, breathing network. Your family, work friends, church. Your dentist, vet, eye doctor. The health club, the woman who cuts your hair or the masseuse you use. Don’t forget about where your kids go to school, where you shop for groceries and where you get your lottery tickets. These are breathing people who know you already. These are people who like you. Most people know few authors and are thrilled to know one. They become excited walking, talking advertisements for your book. Don’t leave this vital network out of your loop, whether you write fiction or non-fiction, are traditionally published or e-published, remember to toot your horn to everyone you know.

Next time we’ll cover Author Success Tool #4, Understand your Market.

AUTHOR BIO

Deborah Riley-Magnus is an author and an Author Success Coach. She has a twenty-seven year professional background in marketing, advertising and public relations as a writer for print, television and radio. She writes fiction in several genres as well as non-fiction.

Deborah produces several pieces weekly for various websites and blogs. She also writes an author industry blog, http://rileymagnus.wordpress.com/ and teaches online and live workshops as The Author Success Coach. She belongs to several writing and professional organizations. Her book, The Author Success Coach: Strategies for Author Success in a Turbulent Publishing Landscape is scheduled to be released in August, 2011.

She’s lived on both the east and west coast of the United States and has traveled the country widely.

 

 

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May 262011
 
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by Deborah Riley-Magnus

What makes you so special? What makes your book so special? We’ve all taken a stroll through those huge book stores and gotten that shiver of terror. Even if you’re already published and about to launch your second or tenth book, that fear trickles in and without warning you start to wonder. Who is going to buy my book when they’re bombarded with all these other books? Yes, you’re writing is wonderful and your story kicks butt, but one twirl around and you see thousands of other author’s offerings and can’t help but feel the pressure. Book store or online, it’s the same.

Relax. The solution is so simple it might shock you. The most important things you need to know to make your book stand out are not in marketing books or genre statistics. They’re not in publicity strategies or media hype. The most important elements to make you and your book stand apart are right inside your manuscript.

Your all important “hooks” are in your characters, your plot and your style. In other words, you created all the solutions you need to market, promote and publicize your book when you wrote the book.

What makes your book so special is what made your publisher sit up and take notice. For example …

  • Location. Where does your book take place? Can you build, develop and implement entire promotions around that location?
  • Character. Is there something special about your characters? Are they werewolves? Historic sailors? Contemporary businessmen? Members of a club or organization that drives the story? Is there something special about your main character? Do they have a silly saying they repeat? Wear two different size shoes? Love cats? Enjoy root beer floats? Go deep, identify what makes your characters special and consider how that element might create a powerful “hook” that resonates with a prospective book buyer.
  • Association. If your main character is a gardener, are gardening clubs a good target? If he/she loves animals, are animal rescue groups a good readership target? Does your character connect with any large group of any profession or interest? Are these possible fans? Always consider association, it can open big doors for target marketing
  • Plot. Is your book an adventure about whales or space travel or 2012 and the end of time? Is your book a romance that involves people from different backgrounds? Is it a fantasy about supernatural characters struggling to remain hidden in the human world? Here are the facts about finding your “hooks” – they can be in any and every part of your book, they’re implanted inside your story and they are ready to be effective.

The power of identifying all your possible Hooks is that you can then find more target markets for your book. Automatically, readers of a specific genre will take a look and possibly buy the book. The trick to success is to go further and dig deeper.

Next time we’ll cover Author Success Tool #3, Build Your Platform.

Deborah Riley-Magnus

The Author Success Coach

AUTHOR BIO

Deborah Riley-Magnus is an author and an Author Success Coach. She has a twenty-seven year professional background in marketing, advertising and public relations as a writer for print, television and radio. She writes fiction in several genres and non-fiction. Deborah produces several pieces weekly for various websites and blogs. She also writes an author industry blog, http://rileymagnus.wordpress.com/ and teaches online and live workshops as The Author Success Coach. She belongs to several writing and professional organizations. Her book, The Author Success Coach: Strategies for Author Success in a Turbulent Publishing Landscape is scheduled to be released in August, 2011. She’s lived on both the east and west coast of the United States and has traveled the country widely.

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Mar 312011
 
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Whether this is your first book or twentieth, the publishing industry has changed and the lion’s share of the marketing, promotion and publicity pushes are now up to you. It’s time to get down to business.

Remember when we talked about a Book Business Plan? Well now we’re going go a little further and show you the ways to gain real success with ten of the most powerful elements of that Book Business Plan.

Yes you’re a writer, an author, a creative problem solver for your plot and characters and boy you are good at it. So now you’re faced with the challenge of plotting your own success as an author but there’s no need to be afraid. Whether you gauge your success in the amount of money you make, the fact that your book is on a bookstore shelf, the best selling in its genre or simply the best selling e-book of the month, it’s important to you.

None of it will happen without at least trying these Ten Tools for Author Success. I’m going to cover these vital tools right here, one tool at a time. Here’s what we’ll cover in this and my following entries.

Ten Tools for Author Success

  • Tool 1, Have a Plan
  • Tool 2, Find Your Unique Hooks
  • Tool 3, Build Your Platforms
  • Tool 4, Understand Your Market
  • Tool 5, Publicity
  • Tool 6, Your Image
  • Tool 7, Marketing
  • Tool 8, Promotion
  • Tool 9, Resources Required
  • Tool 10, Follow up

TOOL 1 – HAVE A PLAN

What are your goals? If this is your first book, what are your publisher’s expectations? How do you propose to let the world know you have a book coming out and how do you intend to approach your market? In other words … what’s your plan?

In order to create a competitive plan, you need competitive strategies. You can start by looking to your publisher. Ask them what they expect from your book. Which of their books, genres and authors are most successful and why?

Now, knowing what expectations your publisher has, you can multiply that and set a sales goal you’ll be proud of. Within your goals should be the following categories:

  • Pre-launch exposure
    • How many pre-orders or readers do you want on a waiting list for your book? This will determine how active your pre-launch marketing and publicity will need to be.
  • First three months sales
    • Research the market, know standard sales numbers for your genre and make it BIGGER. A book’s success or failure is based on its first quarter sales, don’t sell yourself short. Set high goals and push for them.
  • Responses to your platform elements
    • You’ll see later in Tool #3 that you’ll have many platforms from which to shout about your book. Decide now how active you want the response rate to be on those platforms. This way you’ll have viewing and response goals to reach. Of course, responses can only be made to a statement and you are the only one to make the statements, so knowing how active you want your prospective readers to be, pretty much determines how proactive you are going to need to be within your platforms.
  • Demand for the next book
    • Effective platforms and promotional efforts can create demand for more books from an author. Is this something you want? If so, add it to your goals list.
  • 5 year sales goals
    • Look at your author career – where do you want to be in five years? Does writing A LOT fit into that image? Do you want to use revenue earned from your books to improve your life? The sad truth is that most authors simply can’t live on what they earn as writers, but with a plan, strategies and goals that are clear, you can create an income to substantially add to your dreams and lifestyle. It doesn’t just happen. It must be set as a goal and made part of the plan.
  • Number of successful books in 10 years
    • Seriously think about this. Some writers see themselves as the author of one or two books, the creator of a mega success that rocks the world and then they can retire. There is a difference between fantasy, goals and strategic plans. Building a career demands you identify that career. If you want a booming writing career over 10 years, you may need to plan seven to ten books, several articles and short pieces published in collections, compilations or publications, speaking engagements, possibly writing in several genres or even adding non-fiction to your mix. This is a “going wide” strategy instead of a “going deep strategy” that limits the writer to a single genre or non-fiction subject. There are several industry theories on both approaches to building an author career, but the most important opinion is yours. You’ll be living the career and doing the work.

Remember, you’re not just an author; you’re an author building a career. Once your goals are set, it’s easy to take the following tools and put a strong, effective plan in play!

Next time, I’ll be covering Tool #2, Finding Your Unique Hooks to create powerful marketing strategies.

See you then … because, after all, what’s more erotic than a SUCCESSFUL AUTHOR?

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Nov 042010
 
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By Deborah Riley Magnus

Seriously. I know no one likes to hear this, even my clients who are not of the Author persuasion, but without a business plan you are going NOWHERE.

It is vital to have a business plan because your books and you are the products to be sold. It makes most writers queasy to even imagine selling themselves but without a plan, you can hardly figure out a way for your book to sell itself. Think of it as a map getting you from staving writer to successful author.

Since I’m talking to writers, I’ve decided to take this nice and easy, no sudden movements or anything like that. Let’s start with a simple comparison … if you want to write a book, what do you need? Don’t say ‘nothing but your imagination’ because we both know that’s not so. You need a slamming idea and you need some talent.

Any writer can write a book, good bad or mediocre, but only an author knows s/he also needs to write a business plan because only a successful author knows s/he is now in business.

AT WHAT POINT DO YOU START A BOOK BUSINESS PLAN?

I’m going to toss this out so duck if you’re too afraid to catch but … the Book Business Plan starts when the book starts. A Book Business Plan covers all aspects of the product. At the moment you begin a novel or non-fiction book, you must already have a clear vision of the message, the audience and even the venues where it can be sold. This isn’t wishful thinking, guys and gals, THIS is the beginning of your plan.

My strongest suggestion has always been to ask the book business plan developer (that’s you) to start at the end. Start with your goal. Don’t be ridiculous and say you intend to be the next Dan Brown or Charlaine Harris, but trust that with the right strategy, you CAN be the next Dan Brown or Charlaine Harris eventually. They too had to go through this process, and as we all know, ya gotta pay your dues.

So, realize that when you start writing your book, you also should start writing your Book Business Plan. If your book is finished, it’s not too late, so no excuses there.

HOW TO WRITE A BOOK BUSINESS PLAN

Ready? Take a deep breath. Now, imagine you’re sitting at the bank, talking across the desk to the loan manager and asking for money. What’s he going to ask you? Those are the questions you need to answer when putting together your business plan.

1) How much money to you want? This should be an easy answer. How successful do you want to be? Think of the imaginary loan amount as the financial success you want to gain from your book sales. Be realistic, you most likely won’t make millions with your first novel, but if you set the right strategy, you could make millions down the road with your fourth, fifth or sixteenth book. Honestly, few authors are millionaires, but there’s no reason why you can’t be one.
2) How do you plan to organize and manage your product? Exactly what is your plan for dealing with the organization and management of your book(s)? Should you have a publicist? Do you need an advertising agency? A book video? Imprinted bookmarks or tee shirts? Remember to research everything and be sure of the success rate for each element you want to employ. It’s a lot to think about. Can you do it alone (after all, who knows your book better than you do)? Managing the product means clearly understanding it. So now is a good time to face the fact that YOU are the product. Your creativity, your talent as a writer, your expertise, your personality, your skills … your book(s).
3) Who will want to buy your product? Now is the time to jot down all those people who will want your book, why they’ll want it and how effective they’ll be at getting more people to want it. Know – really know – who your readership target is. Are they men? Women? Nothing is stranger than discovering more men read your book than women when you thought the complete opposite. Knowing your target reader is as important as knowing good spelling and grammar. It will determine the venues you choose when the book is ready to be sold. After clarifying your target, you can develop the perfect hook for your target. This is the bee line to reaching your market.
4) What makes your product so special? You better know this or put down your pen right now. No point in writing a book if you don’t know why or if it’s special. Many writers write books they’d love to read, many write books marketing studies show readers are buying, some write books because the subject is risky or has never been explored before. KNOW why you and your book are special. It’s the backbone of a successful Book Business Plan.
5) How do you plan to promote your product? Ugh, here’s where most writers cower into a corner. Relax. You know people, lots of people. And those people know people. You gotta put yourself out there. Of course there are the “big” things you must do; social networking, book events, gaining interviews, speaking engagements, seeking book reviews and attending book shows, but don’t forget your friends. Most writers have or have had another life, another career or another circle of activity that has made their lives full. People like to support people they know. This is a powerful, easy tool to enhance the “big” stuff mentioned earlier.
6) What are your marketing strategies? Think about it. Yes, it’s cool to have your book available on Amazon or in your local book store, but where else might it fit in perfectly? Stretch your mind and think this through. If your novel is about travel, maybe you should seek distribution at a travel agency or on travel agency websites. If the story revolves around people drinking coffee, cafes often sell gift items and books. Is the story about wine? Wineries have wonderful gift shops. If your novel is historic in nature, perhaps museum gift stores can be a venue. Be creative, after all, that’s what writers do … think creatively.
7) What if you fail? Forget it. I have a very strong theory that failure is just a lack of seeking success. When someone tells you you can’t do something or market a book that way … try it anyway. Chances are it just hasn’t been tried or it hasn’t proven effective for someone less aggressive or creative. There’s a slogan I use with my clients. “We are the can-do team.” Go on, tell me I can’t and guess what … I do. So can you.

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Sep 092010
 
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Most writers and authors I know are so much more. They are mothers and fathers, caregivers, homemakers, cooks and bread winners. They work day (or night) jobs as accountants, factory workers, cashiers, salespeople, business owners and top executives. They all struggle with finding the balance between their writing passion, their family and meeting their mortgage. Life is complicated enough without trying to write, but every one of them is driven, obsessed with their plots and characters, striving for perfection with the written word and usually dog tired. They’re courageous and talented and among the most creative and busy people I know.

Now, add negotiating the shifting paradigm of the publishing industry and what do you get? A borderline crazy person. Some writers are new and baffled by the currently vacillating publishing maze. Some are embedded in the original publishing business model and having a difficult time accepting the reality of this new landscape.

I’m proposing that change is deceivingly simple; it’s just our mindset that makes it appear complicated. Don’t panic.

Breathe.

THE QUAKING LANDSCAPE. Rising up from all this upheaval is more promise and potential than a writer ever had. There are more options and more variations available today than ever before in publishing. All should be looked at, dissected and considered for making intelligent choices. Traditional publishing, sprouting indie publishers, POD, e-publishing, market shifts in reader genre preferences, purchasing outlets and how the reader likes to read a book. (Kindle? Hardcopy? Online?). Yes, it seems like the zoo has gotten overpopulated, but really … the reader base has expanded vastly and that’s a good thing. Honest.

Breathe.

NO MATTER HOW YOU PUBLISH, YOU MUST MARKET. All authors are terrified of this prospect but in truth, I have never met a writer who isn’t so completely sure of their story, that in a few excited words they can’t sell it. You CAN speak in front of a group. You CAN talk to the media. You CAN do this. All an author needs to do is believe it and make the time for it. Time was carved from a hectic, full life to write the book, there’s no logic in deserting your baby just as it’s about to take flight.

Breathe.

MAKE PLANS. Don’t shy away from this, it’s no different than plotting your novel. All you’re doing now is plotting your success. You need a book business plan, a marketing plan, an author platform and a book platform, a press campaign plan, a speaking engagement/event/book signing plan and a plan for your next book. Close your eyes and imagine the success you want, then simply get it down on paper.

Breathe.

DEALING WITH PROFESSIONALS. Of course, you may have a literary agent and you will have a publisher to deal with. Those are based on your informed choice and you deal with them as you would your doctor or lawyer; respect them, stand your ground and smile. But there are other professionals, all clamoring for your attention, your project, your money and a coveted place on your coattail should you make it big.

There are knowledgeable people everywhere and they’re knocking on your door. You’re no longer a lone, private writer tapping away at your keyboard. Now, you’re visible. Early on you may have come across an Author’s Liaison, a newly created professional geared toward helping writers find self or join publication for their novel. If you’re not super duper computer savvy, you may be either approached by, or on the prowl for, a website designer. Later, when your book is a reality, you’ll meet local media people, bookstore owners (real and cyber) and a slew of other authors. All these people are brimming with great advice and want to help you … some for a cost. You’ll consider hiring an assistant to help organize all the wonderful book events and speaking engagements you see in your future. Then you’ll notice that all these eclectic, scattered, dismembered efforts require someone to pull them all together and keep them targeted and you may consider hiring a publicist.

Here is a vital piece of advice regarding any and all of these professionals: If they don’t know when to hold your hand and say “Breathe”, then they’re not worth their salt, much less their fee.

Everyone clambering to be part of your future success is not always there to support you, the author. Everyone you come across who loves your book and knows someone who knows someone related to Jeffrey Katzenberg or Oprah, is not necessarily your ticket to the big time. They may be, but keep your head on straight and don’t forget to …Breathe.
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Breathe deep and do it often, with intent and determination to remain centered and think clearly. This is where all those plans you made earlier come into play. They target the goals and help you keep your eye on the prize. With the right attitude you can attract the right professionals to get where you want to go. The best professionals understand that there are times an author needs to be reminded to step back, think, and enjoy the ride.
Be happy and remember to …

Breathe.

For more information on Deborah Riley-Magnus and/or the Author Success workshops she’s teaching:

PARADIGM WARRIORS
Author Success Coach
Publicity Marketing Promotions
writerchef@sbcglobal.net

I blog – http://rileymagnus.wordpress.com/
I fiction – http://coldincalifornia.com
I write – http://deborahriley-magnus.com/
I play – http://whispersofthemuse.org/
I cook – http://vampiresdonteat.wordpress.com/
I tweet – http://twitter.com/rileymagnus
I facebook – http://facebook.com/deborah.rileymagnus

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