Feb 132014
 
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By Dr. Amy Marsh

As a writer and in my career as a sexologist, the situations I find most personally challenging are the “hurry up and wait” experiences. These are usually the times when I’ve found myself courted (often out of the blue), urged to produce something which will be published or presented in what appears to be a desirable forum, and then once I meet the deadline—nothing. Time and again I’ve experienced a flurry of communication designed to elicit my favorable responses—plus a solid piece of work—and then, somehow, there are no longer any reciprocal exchanges from the person or persons who so avidly sought my acquaintance and professional expertise. Even brief, patient emails a month or two later may go unanswered. Phone calls are not returned. The publication dates, or other matters which have an impact on me and my ability to strategize, bootstrap, and promote, are simply left dangling. And I am left to twist in the wind.

Have I been dumped after putting out? Am I just another notch on an interviewer’s belt or a social media website? Or has a cascade of life crises interrupted the process and the reporter, publisher, or agency representative really will get back to me as soon as the carnage clears?

Sure, “sh*t happens,” but why does it so often happen after I’ve turned in a piece of work?

It’s very hard to know what to do in this case. Do I “squeaky wheel” it, become annoying and persistent in a way that is frankly foreign to my socialization and inclination? Or do I assume a Zen-like exterior of uber-professionalism while patching up my slightly shredded self esteem in private? Or is it just that people have lost the art and etiquette of following up?

Writers need aftercare and check-ins, too! It’s not just for BDSM anymore!

Perhaps there should be a self-help book titled Writers who Write Too Much… and the People who Exploit Them. If there were such a book, I’d be most interested in learning how to keep my sense of plucky optimism while still waiting for all those blogs, books, and other promised projects to come to fruition. I’d like to learn how to professionally and constructively convey my desire to know publication dates and other key pieces of information, and to be informed about delays in a timely manner, so that I can—you know—twitter and blog and facebook about it. In other words, do my share of promoting the whatever-it-is, which usually also includes promoting and boosting the company, website, or whoever is hosting the whatever-it-is…

Did I mention that much of what I’m talking about are writing projects almost entirely done on spec? Sometimes with a promise of a modest bit of change coming along later (always welcome in my pre-divorce world)? Did I mention that it’s awfully hard to know just how to separate the truly wonderful opportunities, chances to collaborate with people who have struck my fancy as creative, marvelous individuals, from those who are simply out for as much free content as they can get? And instead of choosing me for my expertise, do some people see me as a reliable fallback because they think I’ve got nothing much else going on?

I have been operating on the assumption that acting professionally would elicit professionalism in return. Sometimes it does. A couple of writers interviewing me for books actually do send me a copies when they are published. On the other hand, that New York writer who wanted a free session in order to write about it has yet to communicate clearly about when his article is appearing in that hip, happening fashion site. And there are other matters left hanging out there, ones which baffle me in strange, painful sort of way.

To redeem this blog post as something other than my own personal lamentations and frustrations, here are a few cautionary words:

1) Don’t count on, or wait for, the publication of an interview to handily coincide with your self-promotional efforts. Occasionally an interview will come out just at the right time, and you can use it to promote your classes or create more buzz about your book—the operative word here is “occasionally”; even if the interviewing party has promised its publication by a certain date, don’t build your marketing or other schedules around that interview ahead of time. Create several different promotion strategies for your projects so that when the promised article fails to appear, you won’t be crushed or left without options.

2) Remember that everyone is far too involved in pushing their own agenda and advancing their careers to focus too keenly, or sometimes even care, about yours. Even people working in good faith will often have so much on their plate that memory lapses and communication gaps are an inevitable part of the process. Find a way to accept that gracefully, and again, create a few different strategies for dealing with situations on a case-by-case basis.

3) If you are able, try to find out as many details as possible before committing to create content, especially for people and organizations you don’t yet know and trust. Not every opportunity is a good opportunity; if someone wants a large chunk of your time for free, you may be better off investing that time elsewhere.

4) If you haven’t seen a response two weeks after emailing or phoning the person who courted you, you’ve probably been dumped or the project has been shelved. Pick yourself up and move on. Be civil if they actually do get back in touch at a later date. Any delays may not have been their fault. Maybe there really were extenuating circumstances.

5) Don’t become obsessive about checking the places where you think your interview or work may still be published. Just do it every now and then, and then forget about it (or try your best to forget about it).

There are probably harsh industry realities which exacerbate these problems for writers and other creators of content. And we—being on the outside—may never know what they are. All we can do is carry on, stay fresh and frosty, and above all, never become excited about something that looks like a big break. It’s probably no such thing, and you may be better off looking for the little breaks to be found with trusted professionals.

 

—Amy Marsh

 

Amy Marsh, EdD, DHS, CH, CI, is a clinical sexologist and AASECT certified sex counselor, certified hypnotist and hypnosis instructor, and an associate professor of human sexuality at the world’s most radical sex school. She is a former Carnal Nation columnist. Learn more at dramymarshsexologist.com or follow @AmyMarshSexDr on Twitter.

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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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