Monday, March 29, 2010

Not A Natural But Working At It

From reading these entries, you may "think" that I'm a natural at the marketing end of this business. I'm not. I don't believe that I'm the best writer in the room but I'm a determined writer. It's why I've been able to persist and build such a large body of work in the marketplace. By the same token, I'm not a natural marketer yet I understand that marketing is a critical skill to get out my work.

About a month ago, I attended a free day-long meeting with Mark Victor Hansen and Loral Langemeier. While about 250 people signed up for the event, less than 100 actually came. Those numbers alone show you the importance of showing up. I have heard Mark speak a number of times and I always learn something significant from his sessions. I had never met or heard Loral Langemeier and I was fascinated with her teaching. By the way, if you get a chance, pick up her newest book, Put More Cash In Your Pocket. It's straightforward advice about creating more income in today's economic times. I enjoyed reading it.

During her teaching, Loral said all of business (and publishing is a business) comes down to four basic skills: marketing, sales, finance (managing the money) and team (working as a team even if you are an independent writer). Ironically these four entrepreneurial skills are not taught in most business schools (Loral has a business degree). If you want to make more sales, then you have to be telling more people about your product or book (marketing). It's a simple principle but true.

If you want a traditional publisher to take your book proposal, then you need to be telling more editors or literary agents about your proposal. If you want to be writing more for magazines, then you need to be pitching to more editors and publications--naturally with the best crafted proposal and best crafted pitch of your idea.

If you want to sell more copies of your book after it is printed (and you should because you took the energy to put it out there), then you need to do more personal marketing for that book. It is the author who has the greatest passion for their work--so use that passion to fuel your marketing efforts.

While I continue to be committed to learning more about writing, I am also committed to learning more about marketing and improving my ability to tell more people about my various products. In each book, I look for several key "takeaways" which I can apply to my own writing life. If you are looking for it, you will find it.

This past weekend, I read Linda F. Radke's book, The Economical Guide to Self-Publishing. The title of this book might have put you off. You might have said, "I'm not self-publishing." Whether you self-publish or use a traditional publisher, you can learn something from this book.

Here's one quick example from this book. It includes contributions from other writers and includes a brief article from John Kremer and Marie Kiefer called Seven-Soul Searching Commandments for Self-Publishers. I want to focus on their seventh commandment: Ten Minutes Per Day. They write, "Are you willing to spend at least ten minutes a day for the next three years marketing your book? This is a commitment that you must keep. If you are not willing to spend ten minutes each and every day marketing a book, let someone else do it--someone who believes in your book enough to spend a few minutes every day marketing it. In just ten minutes, you can make at least three contacts per day. Write influential buyers. Phone key media people. Network with contacts that can lead to other buyers, media, and associations. Three contacts per day comes out to about 1,000 contacts each year. If you make 1,000 appropriate contacts, you can't not sell books. I know that's a double negative, so I'll rephrase it. If you make 1,000 contacts per year, you will sell books. In fact, you can't miss." (page 136)

Do you see the value in taking consistent and persistent action in the marketing area? I may not be a natural but I'm continuing to work at it--and you can do the same.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Labels: , ,


Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Thought-Provoking Title

It instantly grabbed my attention. As a long-term freelance writer, how could a freelancer be wealthy? The two words did not seem to go with my reality. I've known and met hundreds of freelance writers and the majority of them fit the expected profile of a starving artist. Yet here's a book called The Wealthy Freelancer, 12 Secrets to a Great Income and an Enviable Lifestyle. Can you see why this book caught my attention?

Each of these 12 secrets are valuable but I wanted to write today about Chapter 8: Bring Focus To Your Freelance Business. Pete Savage writes, "In my early years as a freelancer, there was nothing focused about my business..." (page 147) On the next page, he makes a profound statement, "Focus is what helped me go from barely paying the bills to busting through the six-figure income barrier. Focus is what allows Pam Magnuson to easily identify the companies and trade shows that are likely to be lucrative sources of business for her. And focus can take you from good to great."

Next Savage gives three key criteria to bring focus to his freelance business: Discover, Identify, and Position. He gives a great deal of detail about these three words but he explains it allows you to:

1. Discover what you have to offer.

2. Identify the market you'll serve.

3. Position yourself in the market.

From my experience of working with various freelancers, many of them have never done the hard work of looking inside and experimenting to see what they have to offer to the marketplace. Are you a novelist or a nonfiction writer? If you decide that you are a novelist then what type of novelist? If you decide that you are a nonfiction writer, then what type of nonfiction writer? Are you a copywriter or a magazine writer or someone who writes radio scripts? Each of us have to invest the time and energy to experiment and find the place where our writing can be used. A part of this experimentation is the willingness to apprentice and learn the skill and craft of writing instead of assuming that our work will instantly skyrocket to the top (a very common assumption for example is that an author has written a bestseller--however you define the word bestseller--which is an entirely different discussion).

Second you have to identify the market that you will serve. Please don't say your writing is for "everyone." I've seen many an editor roll their eyes (at least feel like rolling their eyes) when they hear that statement. Let's think about the book market for the moment. Books (fiction or nonfiction) are written with a primary market in focus and often a secondary market. As you identify this market, Pete Savage encourages freelancers to ask, "Is the market viable?" He asks a series of pointed questions to help the reader identify the market that they will serve.

Finally he encourages the freelancer to think about their unique selling proposition (USP) in the market. I found the contents of this chapter to mesh with the hour-long video that I watched today from bestselling author Brian Tracy speaking on 10 secrets of lifetime success.

The Wealthy Freelancer has much more than a thought-provoking title. It is loaded with valuable insight for every writer.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Labels: , , ,


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tap A Major Book Market: Libraries

I have always loved libraries. When my children were small, I made a weekly Saturday morning trip to the library, sat with a large stack of children's books and read to them.

Now years later, the public library continues to be a part of my world. In the last six months, Scottsdale opened a new branch near my home and I have been making frequent trips to check out books, movies and music. I've learned to use their online system to reserve books (even some bestsellers). If you haven't been to your own library in some time, I understand because there is a great deal of information online yet knowing and using your local library is a valuable skill which I recommend to every writer. Take the time to learn how to use your local system. Make friends with your local librarians (who are a wealth of knowledge and information). It will be a boost to your own writing career.

I've published over 60 books with traditional publishers like Zondervan, Tyndale, St. Martin's Press and Alpha Books. Have you ever searched your library catalog for your own name? When I search the Scottsdale Library catalog (which is a large system), I find one book. This book has been out of print for many years and is one of about a dozen books that I wrote for someone else so my name appears in the small print--yet it does appear so I'm listed in the library.

As an author, I've read several how-to books which include chapters on how to reach libraries. The American Library Association (ALA) estimates there are more than 122,000 libraries in the United States including public libraries, academic libraries, school libraries and special libraries. In fact, more than ten percent of the book sales in the U.S. are to libraries. While I've searched, I've never found a way as an author that I can sell my books to a library. Yes, I've spoken at libraries (a good source and something I recommend to writers) but the sales question has always been a mystery to me--until I spoke with bestselling author Max Davis.

As an author, Max has sold his books to over 3,500 libraries. On Thursday, March 25th, I'm going to interview Max and he's going to give us the inside scoop about how he sells to libraries. You can hear the interview and ask a question at: AskTerryWhalin.com. If you can't attend the session, go ahead and sign up anyway because it will be recorded and everyone who registers will receive the replay link. This one technique of selling to libraries could be critical to your own book sales for this year.

To everyone who signs up for this teleseminar, they will also receive a free copy of my Ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Author. So head over to AskTerryWhalin.com and sign up for this free event.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Labels: , ,


Friday, March 05, 2010

Publishers Cringe At This Question

As a book publisher and a former acquisitions editor, I've often heard this question from my authors. They ask a few months (or a few weeks) after their book has entered the market. They want to know, "How's my book selling?"

Because I don't have instant access to this information, I can honestly confess, "I don't know." And why do I cringe? Because I'm fairly confident the author will not be thrilled with the sales answer. I'm confident that publishers are doing everything they can to sell your book and get people to buy your book--even if as the author you don't "feel" like they are making enough effort.

When you ask this question, in reality, you are facing an age-old question that we see in other areas of our life. For example, you don't like some of the behavior of your spouse or your co-worker or some friend. Often there isn't much you can do about that situation--but wait, you can do something about yourself. It's the same situation when it comes to selling books into the market.

Often authors feel powerless when in reality they have lots of power which they are not using. While the powerless feeling may exist, it is not true. As an author, you have a great deal of power to sell your book. Who have you told about your book in the last month? the last week? the last day? How are you telling them? Are you using an electronic newsletter? Are you using a blog? Are you using social media like Twitter and Facebook? Are you involved in online groups and telling people about your book in the signature of your email? Are you using direct mail such as postcards or printed pieces such as bookmarks? Are you speaking about the topic of your book? Are you doing radio interviews and readings at bookstores? The array of possibilities are endless for authors. Use what is in front of you to tell people about your book. They will have to hear about the book multiple times often before they purchase the product. What are you doing to stir those multiple presentations about the benefits and value of your book?

As writers, we invest huge amounts of time, energy and money into learning how to write a great book. Your publisher and you work hard to create the best possible book cover and riveting, page-turning content on the inside of your book. Yet many of us (yes I include myself) fail because of marketing and sales. We haven't assumed enough of the responsibility for our own book nor told the numerous people we can easily reach about the value of our book. In case, you didn't notice, I've turned the conversation to myself. Last year, I wish more people had purchased my Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams. Instead of moaning and feeling bad about those sales, I'm recommitting to increase my efforts to tell more people about this book. It's one of the reasons that I'm getting out and speaking in a number of places during the coming months. Follow this link to check my constantly changing schedule because I'd love to meet you at one of these places.

Last week, I spent a day with Loral Langemeier and Mark Victor Hansen at a free Phoenix event. I've heard Mark a number of times (always inspiring) but I had never met nor heard Loral. The opportunity came through my email (which I read) so I signed up and attended. Over 250 people registered for the free event--but only about 80 people actually showed up (a key fact--show up when you have such an opportunity). I took pages of notes when Loral and Mark spoke.

Every author is an entrepreneur and you need to begin thinking like an entrepreneur to succeed. Loral pointed to four key entrepreneur skills: marketing, sales, finance (handling your money) and building a team. These are skills which you can learn but are not taught in business schools but are critical to learn to make money--i.e. sell your book and reach people with the message of your book. What are you doing today to market your book and your message? How are you selling your product and what steps can you take to increase that product? What steps can you take in the financial area to be smarter about how you handle your money? Some of you will be wondering about the team skill. As writers are great at working alone on our writing, but how are you working as a team with others? What sorts of cooperative ventures can you form to tell more people about your book or your message?

I'm convinced you have the power and responsibility to tell others about your book. What are you doing today to proactively move in the right direction?

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Labels: , , ,


Tuesday, March 02, 2010

7 Ways to Write for Profit on the Internet

Editor's Note: It is rare that I have used a guest blogger in these entries about The Writing Life. I'm honored to have Internet Marketing Expert Jimmy D. Brown. He is also the author of Lessons That Leave A Mark, which will soon be released (Intermedia Pubishing Group).

By Jimmy D. Brown

Can you write? If so, then you can make money online. No, I'm not talking about writing like Shakespeare or Stephen King. I’m not even talking about writing with such perfect grammar that your English teacher would smile from ear to ear. Instead, I'm referring to your ability to use simple English to explain a process to your readers. Not sure if you can do that? Consider this: If you can give directions to a friend, then you can write a "how to" article. And if you can write a "how to" article, then you can put money in your pocket. Here are seven surefire ways you can turn your content into cash… 1. Create Your Own Products One of the most profitable ways to make money with content is by creating and selling your own information products. This includes reports, ebooks, home study courses and similar products. Now here's the key: You probably won't become rich selling just one ebook. Instead, you'll become wealthy by creating a sales funnel where you sell more products and more expensive products to your existing customers. That means you might start by selling $7 reports to bring customers into your sales funnel, but after that you should be selling them $47 ebooks, $100 courses… and so on. 2. Write Articles to Promote Affiliate Offers The problem with making money by creating your own products is that you’re solely in charge of all the customer service hassles. You'll need to deal with cranky customers, you'll need to issue refunds, and you'll have to absorb the costs of chargebacks. The solution? Write articles to promote other people's offers instead. Tip: You can find digital affiliate products on sites like Clickbank.com. If you prefer to sell physical products, look to sites like CJ.com. So, what do you do with these articles? Here are three ideas:

  • Post them on your blog.
  • Submit them to article directories like Ezinearticles.com, GoArticles.com and ArticleAlley.com.
  • Upload them to social media sites like Squidoo.com and Facebook.com.

3. Become a Ghostwriter If you'd rather sell your services, then you'll want to consider becoming a ghostwriter who creates articles, products and content for other people. You can promote yourself by:

  • Join the WarriorForum.com and list your services under the "Warriors for Hire" section.
  • Join freelancing sites like Elance.com or GetAFreelancer.com.
  • Browse CraigsList.org and/or post your own ads.

4. Use Your Powers of Persuasion If you have a knack for sales and persuasion, then you can make even more money by creating sales letters, ads and other sales materials for marketers (both online and offline).

In addition to advertising in the three ways mentioned above, you may consider approaching local business owners directly to offer your copywriting services. 5. Start a Membership Site Instead of creating a series of related products to sell, you can create a membership site that you update with content monthly. In essence, you're creating an automatic sales funnel, since your customers will get rebilled every month. That means you can spend more time creating content and less time chasing down new customers. 6. Blog Your Way to Profits

If you really enjoy writing, then blogging is for you. That's because some of the most popular blogs are those where the owner blogs regularly – for sure weekly, but in some cases daily. You can make money with your blog by:

  • Publishing AdSense ads.
  • Selling advertising space.
  • Offering your own products.
  • Selling affiliate products.
  • Leveraging your traffic to gain other opportunities, such as publicity or even a book deal.

7. Create a Profitable Autoresponder Course Finally, you can make money by creating a multi-part ecourse that's embedded with links to affiliate offers. Then you create a squeeze page to persuade people to join your ecourse and start driving traffic to this page. Once you build your list, you'll make money on autopilot… especially if you load up several month's worth of evergreen messages! Example: You might write a 16 part weight loss ecourse that helps people lose 20 pounds. If you deliver these messages on a weekly basis, that's four month's worth of content. And each message gives you an opportunity to suggest additional solutions (such as weight loss supplements, exercise equipment, low-calorie recipe books and similar). Summary You just discovered seven proven ways to turn your content into cash online. Your next step? Start writing! --------------------- Jimmy D. Brown is "retiring" all of his products and services! After 10 years as an internet marketer, Jimmy is closing down all of his current sites ... removing all of his ebooks, reports, membership sites, software programs, coaching programs, etc. To find out what's still available, visit here.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button