Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Write On Target

After reading thousands of magazine articles and book proposals from writers who would like to get them published, I find the reason for rejection often boils down to one key mistake: the writer assumes that their writing is for everyone. They have no target audience so they do not hit anything.

To tackle this area of no target audience, first I want to address the writer trying to get published in the magazine market. All beginning writers should perfect their craft with short magazine articles. Every magazine has a target reader. The writer needs to determine who this publication is reaching. What is the age of their reader? What is the gender? What types of products and services do they purchase? Check the advertising rate cards for the publication because often this information is in this section of their website or printed literature. When you send in your article or query, make sure you are addressing the target reader.

Children’s writers often forget their target. The children’s market is extremely segmented and targeted with particular age groups. The gatekeepers, such as the editor or agent, wants to know you have that target firmly in your sights when you send in your work. If you aim for too large of an age range, don’t be surprised if your submission is instantly rejected.

For a nonfiction book, who will be your ideal reader? Is that target large enough and do they buy books? Make sure you approach publishers who can reach your target audience. Is there a secondary target reader? All too often writers tell me their book is for everyone. Editors and agents know that books have targeted audiences and you will increase your possibilities of acceptance if you have a target firmly in mind.

It is the same with fiction. What genre and target audience are you writing for and planning on them reading your book? If you aim at nothing, you will be sure to hit it. Be on target and have a target audience with your writing. If you have it in your mind from the beginning it will show in the words you produce.

Here are two quick examples of books I’ve recently read with great target audiences Lela N. Buchanan wrote Finding Redemption in Every Day Life (Intermedia). With engaging and warm writing, Lela writes her personal experiences about the moments of failure in her own life and the lives of her immediate family members. When you fail, what turns around that failure into a moment of redemption or something God can use in your life for good? I was captivated with her stories and they kept me turning the pages. Lela wrote with a type of reader firmly in mind for this well-crafted book.

For fiction, Joel Rosenberg has long been a favorite author of mine for telling a contemporary story that appears to be ripped from the pages of the newspaper with vivid characters who are in fascinating difficulties. In The Twelfth Iman (Tyndale), Joel firmly targeted a reader who loves contemporary Middle East political action thrillers.

Keep your target reader in mind and it will make a huge difference in your writing.

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Sunday, November 07, 2010

Wind Up Your Pitch to the Editor

Conference season is in full bloom. Writers are gathering and signing up for 15 minute sessions with editors. How do you make effective use of these sessions?

During recent years, I’ve been listening to person after person to pitch their magazine or book idea. You do not have much time.

Some writers want you to read a portion of your material which uses some of your precious time. In my view, it is an ineffective way to use that brief time with the editor. There is only silence as the editor tries to carefully read your material and on the fly come up with something profound to say to the writer.

Instead of bringing a piece of writing to the session, the writer can make much more effective use of the time through a practiced pitch. I recommend you write this elevator pitch into a concise, fascinating presentation which holds the editor’s attention, hits all the high points then allows for solid interaction and suggestions with the editor.

An effective elevator pitch is not easy but takes careful thought and consideration. First, the lead sentence is important. Begin with an interesting question or an unusual statistic or a story. Hold the editor’s attention, then what is the substance of your book or your article. Is it a how-to or a memoir or a novel? Why is it unique? What makes it stand out from the sea of other books and ideas? It is your responsibility as the author to show your passion and creativity in this process.

I suggest you write this pitch, then rewrite it and refine it until it shines. Then to make it not looked canned but totally passionate—rehearse your elevator speech several times. Do it in front of a mirror so you can see your own facial expressions. Are you smiling and looking enthused as you present the material? If you speak to the editor in a monotone—it will reflect your lack of passion for the project—and writers do this sort of boring presentation. I’ve been in their presence repeatedly and have to look fascinated—even when I am not.

Your polished pitch will pay off in the long-run because you will show your professionalism and your enthusiasm for the topic. This passion can be contagious and spread to the editor. When you pitch an article or a book idea at a conference, you are seeking to bond and form a relationship with that editor. You need this in-house champion for your work. Often that editor will have to return to their publishing house and convince others about the merit of your concept.

In the case of books, it has to translate into sales. Yes the idea is important and the writing is critical but at the end of the day. Who will purchase this book? Is there a large enough market for your book? Is the publisher equipped to reach this particular audience (some of them are and some of them are not).

Even with a practiced elevator pitch some of them will work and some of them will fall completely flat. After years in the business, it’s OK in my view if it falls flat. At the end of the day you are looking for a match and passion for your idea from the publisher. If it is not there, then move on to someone who cares. Believe in yourself. That place is out there. You may have to search hard for it but I believe you can find it.

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Saturday, November 06, 2010

A Key Decision for Every Writer

For more than 20 years, I've devoted my energies toward learning to tell good stories and capturing those stories in print. I've learned how to write query letters or pitch letters to magazines in a way which garners a go-ahead assignment from an editor. I've learned the skill of crafting a book proposal which the editor reads, decides to champion, then issues a book contract. Also I've been training other writers on these insider insights through my teleseminars like Secrets About Proposals. I continue to work with many different writers through my work as a publisher at Intermedia Publishing Group. My commitment has not dimmed to the printed page and the power of magazine articles and books to change people and propel them into new directions.

Almost daily I speak with writers who struggle to pay their bills and provide for their family yet they remain passionate about getting published and each have dreams and ambitions which are haven't come true--yet.

I decided to write about a key decision for every writer. What is your passion? How can you get that passion out to the greatest number of people? Is it getting your words into a publication like The Upper Room which reaches millions of people each issue? My photo is on the back cover of the November/ December issue of The Upper Room and people have been writing and saying they spotted my photo. My devotion appears on December 20th this year and it was a thrill to be in this publication. Yet being in The Upper Room isn't the key decision that I'm talking about.

I'm suggesting every writer needs to make a key decision to have part of their business as a stand alone enterprise. Why? While there is value in writing for publications or writing books, when you are taking these steps you are dependent on others to issue pay checks. Many traditional book publishers only pay royalties once a year or four times a year (quarterly) is the best payment schedule for a royalty publisher. As the author, it is outside of your control and whatever system a publisher has, then you are stuck in that system if you want them to publish your book. The same issue is true in the magazine world. Some publications pay on acceptance of the article while many publications pay on publication (or a difference of months or years between when you write the article and when you receive payment). This payment system is neither good or bad but simply what exists in the marketplace.

In today's market with the Internet, every writer has the ability to sell directly to their readers--if they make this decision. Possibly you have no idea where to begin or you are floundering in your search for a beginning. My friend, Bob Bly (Robert W. Bly) has written an Ebook, Start Or Jump-Start Your Internet Marketing Business, How to Take Your Online Marketing to the Next Level of Profitability and Success. I've read this book several times and highlighted different sections of it. Each time I pick up on a different detail to apply to my own independent writing business.

I mentioned the payment from writing for magazines and books. How does payment work if you have your own business? When you sell a product, that money goes directly into your paypal account. You don't have to wait around for someone else because you've taken action. As Bob writes in his book, "When is the best time to start your new internet marketing bsiness? Quite simply, it's today. And here's how...First, decide to work on your new business venture at least five days a week, at least an hour a day. Second, make a list of 10 things you need to do to get the business off the ground."

If you work through the list of 10 things, your life as a writer will take off--provided you make this one key decision and take action on it.

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Thursday, November 04, 2010

Think Beyond The Bookstore

You may be wondering what I am talking about "beyond the bookstore." Most authors are focused on getting their books into the bookstore and bookstore signings. They falsely believe the bookstores will be the best way to sell their book. There are several reasons for my statement.

1. The typical Barnes & Noble only holds 10,000 to 15,000 different book titles. According to Bowker who publishes books in print there were over a million new books published last year. Now that is only the new books. What about all the older book titles which sell consistently year after year? See why there is a problem to be focused only on the bookstore? I'm not contending to ignore the retail market but it is not the only game in town. In fact, it is not the biggest share of the book-selling market.

2. More than 60% of books sold are sold outside the bookstore. How do you as an author begin to think about opportunities beyond the bookstore? One huge opportunity is an area called special market sales. Last night's teleseminar with Ted Rogers and Vickie Rogers was filled with innovative strategies for everyone who wants their book to reach the largest number of people.

Here's one example of the thinking presented to authors during the teleseminar. You've written a book about how someone can have joy and happiness in their retirement years. You've identified your target audience as people who have retired or are nearing retirement. Think about that target reader. What types of products do they consume every day? What types of beverages do they drink? Could you approach one of those beverage companies and offer them the ability to reach that target market with a customized version of your book on how to enjoy your retirement? The book would be branded with this beverage companies logo and marketing information. The beverage company would print 50,000 or 100,000 copies of your book. Then the books are given to a convention where there will be 50,000 or 100,000 people (or maybe several conventions) and given away to the people who attend. The beverage company gets the advertising from the gift of your book and you gain huge exposure and sales with a single sale of your book. Because these books are branded, they are not returned (a problem in the retail bookstore market). The sales of the book are final and you have suddenly become a bestselling author.

Hopefully you see the innovation in this type of thinking. More than just thinking about it, the teleseminar last night helps you take practical action to make this type of special sales with your book idea. Ted Rogers and Vickie Mullins gave great information as they were answering author questions. The event was recorded and you can have instant access to the replay for this resource. Get it and listen to it today: www.massivebooksales.com

Then take one additional step forward with your book. Plan your own strategic steps to make a special market sale for your book. I can hear the skeptics to these words. You don't know my book. My book is ________. Several times during this teleseminar, I asked specifically if special market sales are for every type of book. Ted and Vickie answered yes. Today I urge you to think beyond the bookstore. This action can be a complete game changer for what happens with your book in the marketplace.

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Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Straight-Forward Information About Book-Selling

I'll admit that some internet marketers irritate me. They get you interested in their product and you get it then you learn that you really need to get into their higher level program which will cost you some additional fee. I understand these marketers want to push you to their higher paying program by only giving you part of the story in the entry level material. The deception of such practices bothers me.

For the last several years, I've been studying the world of special market sales. It's where your book is sold to a corporation or a company not one book at a time but you sell books by the truckload (thousands). I've tried to learn about this practice from several different people--yet each time I discovered their approach was like I mentioned in the opening--deceptive and not straight forward.

Then I met Ted Rogers and Vickie Mullins. These founders of Perfect Bound Marketing know how to sell books in volume. They hold nothing back in their teaching and instead give you full answers about how to achieve such a sale for your book.

It's just one of the reasons that I look forward to our teleseminar about massive book sales. You can register free and ask a question at: www.massivebooksales.com If you can't make the live event, the call will be recorded and everyone who registers will receive a notice about the recording.

Also everyone who registers will receive a free special report, 26 Secrets & Steps for Book-selling Success. I hope to speak to you during this live event on Wednesday, November 3rd.

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