Sep 012011

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.


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, 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.


May 262011

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


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, 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.

Mar 312011

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


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?

Feb 102011

And the gods of publishing spoke.

The earth rumbled and the lightening struck. All the peoples of the writing land quivered with fear and aw. And the gods said …

“Stand all ye writers and be counted! I say unto thee one and all, those of the laptop and those of the desktop, those sparrows of the tiny Twitter and lurkers of the massive writers conferences, teachers and students of the word and mid-list authors everywhere I say unto you all … PROMOTE THYSELF!”

And when the word comes down what do we all do? We panic, we pull out our hair and tear our clothes and we whine. There’s nothing like a good whine, I always say. But soon enough, we’ve all had enough whine.

Like a garden of beautiful blossoms, fantastic advice has popped up everywhere to guide us. Magnificent, excellent advice. It abounds and the sea is swollen with suggestions for website designs, blogging opportunities, platform planks (and the nails to hold it all together). What non-fiction writers and self-published authors have known all along is suddenly the law of reality for all.


But, try real hard not to get lost in the raging pulse of great advice. Don’t drown. Take it little bits at a time; there are a million ways to cook a chicken. The key to a perfectly roasted bird is the same as the path to a perfectly executed promotional plan … patience, clarity, understanding the tools and using them well. Winging it just won’t work.

Don’t go off half-cocked (oh, another poultry pun) and blanket the world with unfocused press releases or emails to spam your (soon to be no longer) friends to death. Don’t sweat over seeking ill-defined speaking engagements or stapling posters on every telephone phone pole in sight. Your face with the scrawled words, “Have you seen this writer? He/She is starving! Please buy his/her book!” won’t actually do it.


Do it carefully and unfortunately, in order to do it at all, you must first (yes, here it comes) … KNOW THYSELF … and (uh-huh) TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE.

Know yourself, know your skills, know your abilities and know your limitations. If you don’t have the time or energy to run all over asking if you can sign books at all the tri-state B&N locations, think about hiring an assistant to help make all the arrangements. If you can’t figure out how to reach every newspaper in the northeast, hire a company that does the press release flight for you. If you can’t figure out where to start, hire a publicist. If you can’t afford a publicist, there are a hundred books, classes, clubs and organizations to show you how to proceed. Being a writer is a business, and few businesses are successful just because they opened their doors.


If you’re not published yet, make your presence known. Who knows, the gods of publishing may reach down and touch you. Then where will you be? Unprepared, that’s where. Put together your business plan right now. Outline what makes you … the author … as valuable a product as the wonderful book you’ve written.




Now, I need to go baste the chicken.

More from the Author Success Coach?

And the Publicists Says … “Breathe”

Authors Write. Successful Authors Write a Book Business Plan


Author Success Coach

Publicity  Marketing  Promotions

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Nov 042010

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.


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.


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.

Sep 092010

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.
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 …


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

Author Success Coach
Publicity Marketing Promotions

I blog –
I fiction –
I write –
I play –
I cook –
I tweet –
I facebook –