Keep Your Eye On The Product
Sometimes I have been unaware of the product potential in my day to day work. I'm determined to increase my effectiveness in this area of my writing life. Otherwise you let time and money slip right through your hands--mostly through not being aware of it.
For example, over the last 15 years, I have taught at numerous writer's conferences around the nation. Typically the conference organizer will have the speaker sign a release form to be able to sell my recording also I'm able to receive a free copy of the recording. I've picked up these recordings, carried them home and tossed them in a desk drawer or a box--and promptly forgotten about them. In this process, I have left a potential product. I gathered several of my sessions about book proposal creation into over three hours of audio recordings and created Editor Reveals Book Proposal Secrets:
This past week, I chatted with about 80 participants on Book Proposal creation at the Muse Online Writer's Conference. I enjoyed answering the various questions and I typed furiously for the entire hour. I attempted to cram as much information into that hour as possible. In addition, before the session, I sent each participant a two-page handout with links to various resources.
I participated in this same conference last year. Here's the difference: last year I never asked (nor received) a copy of the transcript from that chat session. I've gotten wiser about such matters this year so I requested a copy of the transcript.
Now if you have never seen a chat transcript, it's not pretty. I turned on bold for all of my answers so they would show up well for the various participants. Here's a small portion of this seven-page transcript:
Are there different agents for different genres?
W._Terry_Whalin: absolutely. I would be a terrible agent for cookbooks or science fiction for example--since I know almost nothing about that type of book
W._Terry_Whalin: You need to find the agent who works in your material and pitch that person
Basically you write in short bursts because I quickly learned if I wrote too long, then part of my answers would be truncated and how show up for everyone.
I took about an hour today and cleaned up the transcript. I poured my answers into a single paragraph. I added working links throughout the transcript to highlight additional resources (beyond what I recalled off the top of my head during the session). I still need to sweep through it one or two additional times, but the finished transcript is attractive and the double-spaced version is 12 pages of information. Finally I changed my Word document into an Adobe PDF. It's a short report or product that I can use as a bonus item or any number of other possibilities.
Under my old way of operating, I would have pressed on to something else and left that transcript behind. I'm learning to use and repurpose everything that I've created. As you squeeze more products from a single product, you will be able to increase your own effectiveness in the marketplace. I like what Dan Poynter's The Self-Publishing Manual where he encourages you to create as many different forms for the same product as possible. Why? So you can reach the broadest possible audience. For example, some people will prefer listening to your book while others will want to read it in large print.
These types of actions will help you keep an eye on the product. It's something that I'm thinking about and acting on all the time.