Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Swim With People Who Love Books

Earlier this year, I met syndicated newspaper columnist and bestselling author Harvey MacKay who wrote the classic business book, Swim With The Sharks. If you haven't heard the statistics about the book business lately, here's a bit of reality check for you--it's in steady decline. If you want more detail, then I recommend you read and follow the links in Mike Hyatt's entry from July 20th about The Current Bookselling Environment.

If you love and respect books like I do, then be prepared for a bit of a downer. But it doesn't have to be that way. Some books continue to move and people are still purchasing books. You have to figure out how to relate to those particular people. My recommendation with this entry is that you try some of the networking websites that Publishers Weekly recently highlighted.

Before you groan and say I'm pushing you toward something that will completely waste your time. It doesn't have to affect you in this way. For example, a friend told me about Shelfari which is one of the networking sites highlighted in the Publishers Weekly article. In a matter of minutes, I registered, added a short biography (which I have from other places) and a photo. I selected a few of the books that are on my shelf and current reading stack and created my profile.

Is there more to do here? Absolutely. Will I be doing more? I don’t know but at least I have a small presence on this particular networking site. It doesn't have to absorb loads of time and effort. I want to be visible wherever people love books and this resource is something else to think about.

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Monday, July 30, 2007

Are You On BookTour? I Am

As an author, I want to constantly work to raise my visibility in the marketplace. This principle is true whether you have one book or many books in print. Or whether you are dreaming about getting your book in print.

In the last few weeks, I stumbled across Book Tour, Where Authors and Audiences meet. I checked out the "About Us" section of this site and learned the chairman is Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired and the author of The Long Tail (a book which continues to stir people).

Whether you are a reader or an author, you can register for this free service and use the tools. I found them flexible, menu-driven and easy to use. Here's my profile. While my Book Proposals That Sell has been out for two years, I'm still promoting it and "touring" with it. I added the various dates where I will be at writer's conferences in the next few months. My profile includes the Texas Christian Writers Conference in Houston where I'll be on Saturday.

I didn't take much time to experiment with Book Tour yet I did notice several factors which will improve your listing on the site. Notice the links in my profile and in my events are "clickable." If you drag your mouse over the profile or the event, you can click a link which will take you to another website. I used a simple HTML link inside my entries to get them to be clickable. I found a number of well-known authors who are using this site--yet aren't adding this additional exposure.

If you love books, I recommend you check out Book Tour.

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Jott A Note To Yourself

Last weekend I was in the John Wayne airport waiting for my flight home from the Southern California Writers Association. The airport gift shop included some items celebrating 100 years of John Wayne. I almost purchased something that I didn't need--another coffee mug. Why?

I loved the saying on the inside of the coffee cup. In fact, I pulled out a scrap of paper and wrote it down: "Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway." I suspect each one of us face situations where we are scared to death and summon the courage to saddle up anyway and move ahead. It was a line worth remembering--even if I didn't purchase the mug.

I wrote down this saying using the tried and true method of pen and paper. Because my script is difficult to read, I usually print the words--and depending on the care I take when I do it, even those words are a challenge to read sometimes.

With a tip of the hat to Mike Hyatt's excellent blog, I've learned a new method to jott these notes or memos and have them magically appear in my in box without cost. He wrote about a service called Jott.com.

The registration is simple. You confirm your email where you want the note to be sent. You also confirm your cell phone number and say where you want the note to go or "me." I've tried it several times and the transcription is accurate and comes within about 15 minutes of the recording. It's perfect for many different applications--and it’s free. Jott.com provides a number of ways to use the service.

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Friday, July 27, 2007

Regular Writing Encouragement

Some regular readers of these entries about The Writing Life shook their heads in wonder when they read their email. Others probably discounted me as wasting my time. I'm talking about the latest issue of the Right Writing News which I sent out about 1 a.m. Pacific time. It contained 22 pages of rich writing content from many different writers and sources.

While the length of each issue varies, I'm committed to producing a quality publication for my readers and for several years I have consistently delivered it. This 28th issue included a variety of articles from different authors with each focused on helping the reader improve their writing craft. Some readers have told me they would pay for such a material but I'm giving away this content free. In fact, there are over 400 pages of how-to-write information that only Right Writing News subscribers can access.

If you aren't a subscriber (or horrors, you've dropped your subscription), here's the good news. You can still get the information because if you subscribe, you will receive a link which gives access to the back issues--including the one that I sent today.

For many years, I worked as a magazine editor. I know the routine of gathering quality articles for my readers. I'm always looking for additional articles to use in future issues of the newsletter. If you have some of this how-to-write material, drop me a note and let's see how we can get some of it in a forthcoming issue.

I hope each of you will be subscribers to my newsletter. More than simply getting on the list, I hope you are reading and your writing career is improving as you read (and practice) the teaching in these articles.

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Unusual Request

This week the short email surprised me and it probably shouldn't have done so. Writers ask me all sorts of questions and I've invested a great deal of energy and time to provide resources for them. Part of my motivation for creating sites like Right-Writing.com and these entries about the writing life is to help others succeed with their writing dreams.

From my five years as a book acquisitions editor, I saw many writers floundering and not understanding how to produce what the editor needed to secure a book contract. I poured a great deal of thought and energy into Book Proposals That Sell and I continue to receive feedback about how this book is helping people. In fact, I like to receive feedback about it and find it encouraging.

Earlier this week, I received this email:

"I hope all is well. I have completed reading "Book Proposals that Sell," and I am ready to submit my book proposal to publishers. However,before I submit it, I need your expertise. I have attached a copy of my book proposal to see if you could review it to see if my format is correct. Any advice you can give me will be helpful. Thank you."

The book proposal was attached to this email. For over 20 years, I've read a how-to-write book about once a month but I have never presumed to write the author of one of these many books and ask for their specific input about my project just because I had purchased their book. Notice this person didn't offer any compensation (not that it would have made a difference with my response). Former editors and agents are good at saying no. I did respond to this author and encouraged looking into other resources for input.

If you have created a book proposal or a book manuscript, where do you go to get some professional input? I applaud this writer for wanting to get some professional help before sending it out into the marketplace. Many writers don't get input before they send out their materials and they only get one chance to make a good first impression--and instead make the wrong impression, get rejected and have no understanding of the reason.

In addition to Book Proposals That Sell, I created an audio product with over three hours of my teaching and ideas about book proposal creation called Editor Reveals Book Proposal Secrets. You can order this product which is covered with my 100% Love-It-Or-Leave-It Guarantee. Click the link above and read every word on that page to learn more.

Writing critique groups are another resource to get input from others. This group can be an online group or face-to-face group. For many years, I belonged to a small four-person group that met once a month and we critiqued each other's materials. I learned a great deal as a writer during those years and highly recommend such a simple system. I give a lot of details about critique groups in this article.

Writer's conferences is another place to get specific help about your proposal or project. It is an investment to attend these gatherings and they come in all shapes and sizes. You have to determine what you need at a particular point in your writing life and which conferences to attend. I've got a lot of information about conferences at this link. Make sure you scroll to the bottom of this page where I link to some specific conferences.

Beyond these resources, maybe you need to use a ghostwriter or consultant or a book doctor for your proposal. Be prepared to pay a fee for such a service but it’s something else to explore in this realm. There are numerous people who do this sort of work. One large resource with this information is to pick up Rick Frishman's Million Dollar Rolodex as a free resource when you sign up for his newsletter at Author101.com. Rick’s resource is about 55 pages and packed with solid information.

And before you fire off that email asking if I will review your book proposal. Stop and consider some of your other resources. Then you will not be making a memorable impression with your unusual request.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Catch My Training Session

Last week I held a telewebcast for my affiliate program. I created a study guide for the session which I used throughout the session. While I didn’t have a large crowd for this session, I did have some participation and it helps to record the material in front of a live audience. A number of people submitted questions in advance of the telewebcast which I used to shape the content of my material.

The training was recorded. I took the MP3 file and briefly edited it using Sound Forge. If you don't know, Sound Forge is a simple software program that allows you to edit sound using identical keystroke commands to Microsoft Word. It requires no programming skills. Besides doing a bit of editing, I added "needle music" to the beginning and the end of the session. The few seconds of music gives the overall recording a professional output. Then I took my edited audio file and created an audio postcard using audio generator.com.

The creation of my audio postcard gave me a tool that I could send to each affiliate. Then the individual can listen to the seminar on their own schedule. Also the audio postcard provides a tool that I can send to new affiliates and provide on-going training. In the days ahead, I will be adding more training for my affiliates. The affiliate program is free and anyone can join and catch my training session. The information that I provided about affiliate programs are applicable to many other affiliate programs on the Internet. I know my training session worked because several affiliates who had not been using the program got started last week after listening to the program.

Why do I invest in such training for others? It's part of my on-going promotional effort to spread the word about the products that I'm creating--and share the commissions with affiliates. You will touch people that I will never reach and I want you to profit financially from your efforts. It's a way for you to gain passive income simply for leading someone toward the product.

Through the more than 70 five star reviews for Book Proposals That Sell plus the endorsements on the book from editorial directors, acquisitions editors, literary agents and bestselling authors, I know this product is helping writers who want to get into the traditional book market. I'm continuing to promote and sell the paperback version and the electronic version of the book. When I was in Southern California on Saturday, I brought my book and sold it. Yesterday I mailed another review copy of my book to an author who may join my affiliate program after looking at it. Many authors believe their publisher should be the on-going promoter of their book. That sort of thinking is out dated in my view. Instead, every author needs to play an active and on-going role in telling people about their book.

If you have a product such as an ebook or an audio product where you can pay a portion of the profits to affiliates, you can get your own affiliate program through the same program that I'm using. My shopping cart includes the affiliate program. The software is web-based and simple for anyone to learn.

If you have authors or would-be authors who go by your website or if you have an e-zine or newsletter of any size or just want to work on developing a newsletter or audience, then I encourage you to join my affiliate program for free, then use my study guide and training session. It's another way to keep growing and learning.

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Monday, July 23, 2007

I Participated In Publishing History

Saturday morning I had an early flight to Orange County, California. In the airport crowd I spotted a few readers carrying their orange Harry Potter books. It indicated they had been in the crowd at the bookstores who were able to purchase the book after the stroke of midnight or maybe they bought it in the airport bookstore. I spoke for several hours at the Southern California Writers Association luncheon about Secrets Editors DO Want You To Know. They gathered a terrific crowd for this event and I appreciate the opportunity.

After the event, I spent a bit of time with Bill Kritlow who lives in Fountain Valley. Back in the 1980s, Bill and I were in a local writer's critique group. In this group, four writers once a month for breakfast and worked over each other's material. Bill wanted to go to Barnes & Noble and pick up a couple of copies of the Harry Potter book. It was perfect because I was also looking for an excuse to get to the bookstore. I took the opportunity to purchase the final Harry Potter book. I've read the other six and look forward to this final installment in the series.

In terms of book design, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is wrapped in simplicity. Other than the bar code, there is nothing on the back cover. The front inside flap gives the price, the Jacket artist and the jacket designer along with the words: WE NOW PRESENT THE SEVENTH AND FINAL INSTALLMENT IN THE EPIC TALE OF HARRY POTTER. That’s it.

The back flap gives the contact information for the publisher and nothing else. See why I called it simple? There is no enticing hook or summary of the book or any information about the author. There are no glowing endorsements or reviews or anything to attract additional readers. Scholastic probably decided it wasn't needed and would be overkill.

In the first 24 hours, an estimated 8.3 million copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows were sold. It's a new record in publishing history and I was a participant.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Literary Agent For J.K. Rowling / Harry Potter

The tension and excitement have been building for weeks. Last weekend The Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix movie released which is about the fifth book in the series. This weekend, the seventh and final book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. This book has been perched at the top of bestseller charts for weeks and will break printing records and other areas of the book business.

This week I was talking with another literary agent and he called to my attention a short article from The Observer in England about a little-discussed aspect of the Harry Potter story. While almost everyone knows that J. K. Rowling was an unpublished children's writer and a single mother who wrote the book in a coffee shop and dreamed of getting published. How was the book discovered and brought into the publishing world?

J. K. Rowling overcame some incredible hurdles in publishing to get that initial book contract. Some of those hurdles she passed through with sheer good luck. There is no other way to categorize it.

Repeatedly in these entries about The Writing Life, each of us involved in publishing have incredible passion for the work and the results of what books do in the lives of people. Yet first at the same time publishing is a business with the normal way things are done plus situations where events fall outside of the normal route. Rowling's experience definitely fell into the "other" option category.

I'm regularly approached with children's manuscripts despite the clear submission guidelines. It's hard for any children's author to find a literary agent. Why? Most of it relates to economics. Most children's advances are small and the sales are small. Because agents work on a commission or a percentage, it's hard to get a skilled literary agent excited about doing the same work to place a children's book author as they would to place an adult author at substantially greater return.

As you read this article about Christopher Little, notice how Little became a literary agent--mostly with his first client who was a schoolfriend who he represented and sold a thriller from Philip Nicholson called Man on Fire which went on to sell 7.5 million books worldwide and become a Hollywood film. Little's agency did not represent children’s books.

Here’s the two key paragraphs (in my view) from this article: "The agency, run in 'cramped' and 'near-Dickensian' offices in Fulham, south-west London, was cash-strapped until touched by Potter's magic wand. Literary folklore has it that Rowling, then a penniless 29-year-old single mother, walked into a public library in Edinburgh, looked up a list of literary agents and settled on the name Christopher Little because it sounded like a character from a children's book."

"Bryony Evens, his office manager at the time, has said that it went straight into the reject basket because 'Christopher felt that children's books did not make money'. But its unusual black binding caught her eye, prompting her to read the synopsis and show it to Little. He recalled: 'I wrote back to JK Rowling within four days of receiving the manuscript. I thought there was something really special there, although we could never have guessed what would happen to it.' He managed to sell it to Bloomsbury for £2,500, but later reaped huge rewards from international rights and has won a reputation as a brilliant deal-maker who puts Rowling first."

With the current exchange rates, £2,500 is just a bit over $5,000. Also this article mentions the agent has received an estimated commission of over $100 million. Not a bad return for pulling a manuscript with an unusual manuscript with black binding from the reject basket.

Don't assume your material can go into this "other" category for how it becomes published. I'd encourage you to work through the normal channels as much as possible but be aware that some times a project will jump to the front of the line. I was fascinated with these details about the Harry Potter books. And yes, if you are wondering, I'm going to read the last book in the series since I've read each of the six published books.

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

More Complicated Than First Appearance

It should be one of my S.O.P. (standard operating procedures) yet I usually forget. Most of these projects such as moving a website or blog are more complicated than it looks at the first appearance. It turned out to be the case for me as well. I attempted to use the free Word Press blog and quickly discovered it has limitations, rules and restrictions. The support person warned me in one of their first responses, that I was dangerously close to them officially taking down the site. I was a bit confused because I know a number of people who do many more fancy things on their blog and websites with Word Press than I was attempting to accomplish. Then I discovered the distinction. They are using the downloaded software which is hosted on some site (for a fee). I'll be making the change but it will not happen as quickly as I was originally forecasting. In the meantime, I have added a button for my blog on every page of Right-Writing.com which is a step toward merging everything into one virtual place. The change over to Word Press is going to take some time yet it is still in the works.

I've been working on my study guide and executive summary for the free instant telewebcast that I'm holding for my affiliates next week. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, I'd encourage you to sign up and learn about it. If you can't make the time of my scheduled training, then you can listen to the replay of it after the event. I plan to store the entire training session in the private area which is only available to registered affiliates. The tips and training I will be providing work on any type of affiliate program so they are broadly applicable throughout the online world.

As I prepare my study guide, I've been learning how to use SnagIt software. I downloaded the free version last night (good for 30 days). It's a terrific tool to copy anything that you can pull up on your computer screen. You can select it with the tool and save it into a document. Then make this document into a PDF or email it or any other way you want to use it. It's another one of those simple yet effective resources to know about and learn to use because it can be used over and over.

For example, some of the pages that I want to show during the seminar are located in a password protected area. With this software, I can show the pages or a portion of the pages and not lose the teaching opportunity. It's another tool for you to investigate and possibly use for your own writing life.

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Integration and Moving

For some time I've had the feeling that my days on blogspot were numbered. Yes, I have written over 680 entries on Google's tool, Blogger so there is a lot of information in these entries about The Writing Life. It always amazes me how people will comment on some entry that I wrote several years ago--but it happens infrequently.

Three or four times over the last six months, I've been told that I need to be on Word Press and to get off blogger. Yes, it took several times before I got the message. I was fighting the typical resistance each of us have to making a shift in how we've been doing something. The most recent encouragement came when I was listening to some CDs from Mega Book Marketing 2006 in Orlando, Florida. Armand Morin told about taking the country music world with an unknown country singer and placing the record on the Billboard music charts. Morin is one of the top Internet marketers. It turns out that Morin confessed to being the country artist that was promoted in this manner--Michael Lee Austin. One of the keys that Morin used to get this buzz was a Word Press blog. He made it crystal clear in his presentation that it wasn't a blog on blogger but on Word Press. He had the Nashville music executives calling him and wanting to know exactly how he achieved such an instant success. He gives the details in his presentation and it came from keen Internet marketing.

For some time, I've had several separate sites and I'm now working to bring them into one location. I've taken some of the initial steps. You can see if you go to Right-Writing.com and look at the top button under the home page--which says "Right-Writing Blog." If you check out this button it takes you to my new Word Press blog. Word Press has a tool which imported all of my entries on blogger (over 680 of them plus all of the various comments (more than 1600 comments). Like any move, everything is still in transition and not perfect but it is in motion. I'll get it merged together in short order. One of the elements which is only partially changed over is my blogroll but that will be handled in the next few days.

I have not changed my feedblitz subscription--yet. If you are reading this entry using that method (and more than 200 people are using this system), when I make this change I will change the feed so it comes from my current blog and not the old one. There is no need to resubscribe or change and that transition should be fairly seamless. My challenge is going to be the various links. Many people have used the blogspot address instead of the URL which I have had pointing at the blog: http://www.thewritinglife.ws/.

Watch for the changes.They are in motion.

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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Looking For A Few More Affiliates

Do you have associates or affiliates? According to the Merriam–Webster dictionary, an affiliate is someone that you have a close relationship. Several months ago, I started an affiliate program which is a part of my shopping cart. Some people have signed up for this free program. My sign-up page is simple and can be completed in a few minutes. After you sign up, then you receive an email with your own affiliate number and link to my products. Also you will have access to my banners and promotional emails for different products. Several of my affiliates are actively using their links and earning the benefits of such activity. They are receiving checks for their efforts.

Yet the majority of my affiliates have signed up and aren't making any sales. I'm unsure of the reasons. Maybe they don't understand how to use the links or haven't taken the time to put them into emails or on their websites. I don't have any idea what their particular barrier is to using their links—but I'm working to get this information.

Some of the most successful affiliate programs provide training and sales ideas for their partners. In about nine days, I'm going to provide an affiliate training TeleWebcast. I've sent an email to all of my affiliates telling them of the specific date and time for this free training. The TeleWebcast allows them to ask their questions. I will organize the training around these questions plus give them some innovative ideas about how they can improve their affiliate marketing. I hope a number of these people will be able to attend the live training. If they can't get to the training session, then I will take the replay and store it in the affiliate area so they can listen to it on their own schedule.

If you have not signed up to become one of my affiliates, I hope you will in the next few weeks. And if you have questions about how to use an affiliate program, then ask them during my forthcoming TeleWebcast. As an affiliate, you touch people that I will never cross their path. You can tell them about my products and lead them to the landing page. If the individual buys the book or product, then you receive an email and I receive an email notifying us of this purchase. Then following the unconditional guarantee period, I pay 50% commissions from this referral. It's a good way to boost your passive income and help other writers in the process.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Extra Degree of Effort

What will take your writing to the next level? Is it a writer's conference where you invest and travel across the country and have a significant conversation with an editor? Or maybe it's a class which you take from one person at the conference or several of them. Or it's an email that you get from a writing friend which spurs you ahead in your craft.

It's easy to get discouraged in publishing if you look at the massive amount of material in circulation for consideration or the large number of books which are constantly being released (and few of them selling in a significant way). Rather than look at the negative, it is better to be focused on the positive. What can you do today that will make a difference in your life and move you along the path to success? Where is your personal "tipping point" to use a phrase from the best-selling book by Malcolm Gladwell called The Tipping Point. I've had other entries about this book.

If you need a bit of inspiration, I recommend you check out this short film, 212 The Extra Degree Movie.

May this presentation inspire you to put out the extra effort and not only today but into everything that you write. I've watched this inspirational piece several times. See if you can raise your efforts by one degree.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Inspiration for Book Marketing

It's a national holiday in the United States as we celebrate our independence. Because it falls on a Wednesday this year, I received the regular Wednesday Minute from Alex Mandossian. If you want to subscribe to The Wednesday Minute then follow this link. It is a free resource and I’ve only been taking it for a month or so. From the sign-up page, Rick Raddatz started this endeavor but now Alex is carrying it forward. Ignore the munching on this page and sign up (it goes on a very long-time--so please ignore it and quickly sign up). Rick is the co-creator of InstantTeleseminar.com.

Today's Wednesday Minute is about The Greatest Ad Of All Time. According to Alex, it's a wonderful tool for Writer's Block plus you can learn something in the process. I always learn something listening to this brief presentation and I thought you'd like to know about it. I will not steal Alex's teaser by telling you about the specifics of this ad but it was a surprise to me and appropriate for today.

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Monday, July 02, 2007

How Do You Consume Products?

In these entries about The Writing Life, I've written a great deal about book covers, back covers and book titles as key to draw the reader into the pages of your book. If you want to read these entries, then I suggest you use the Google search engine tool in the right-hand column.

What if you looked at the question from a much broader view? I'm talking about consumption and how products are consumed or purchased. Over the last few months, I've been learning from Alex Mandossian. If you go to his website, you can download his free Ebook, 5 Secrets To Making Change (which is excellent and something I've read). If you glance through his background, you will see why I appreciate this experienced marketer.

Last week I was listening to Alex and podcast with Paul Colligan and the lessons they've learned from 50 podcasts at Marketingonlinelive.com. At the top of the page for Marketing Online Live and right in the center of this page, there is a sign-up box for email bonuses. I signed up--simple with first name and email address. Why do it? You receive the link and information for Consumption Secrets by Alex Mandossian which is a $247 course. From signing up, you receive over 60 pages in an Ebook format plus five MP3 files of Alex teaching. You can download the material and listen to it on your computer or your iPod.

I've been listening to the teaching and I have read through the Ebook and found it valuable information for anyone who cares about how to improve your relationships with your customers. Whether you are a writer or not, this resource can help you improve that communication.

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