Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Why I Don't Finish Every Book I Read (But I Used To)

From my early childhood, I've loved reading books. Whether riding in the back seat of our family car or perched in the corner of a room, I was turning pages of a book.  What I read has always been diverse. Yes I love biographies, autobiographies and memoirs.  Yet I also find history and self-help fascinating. Also I love reading different types of novels: thrillers, romance, genre fiction and much more. Anytime I find a story that holds my attention, I’m reading that book.

When I read a magazine or anything online or the newspaper, I'm always looking for book recommendations which are added to my reading list. When I learn about a new book, I turn to my local library to see if they are getting the book and how can I get on the list for it.  I still purchase books from my local bookstore or online but I learned my appetite for book consumption is way beyond my ability to purchase those books.

I don't have an Ebook reader like a Kindle or IPad. I love holding books and turning the pages. Another long-term habit was to complete reading every book which I started.  While I found some books boring or didn't hold my attention, I persisted until I reached the final page.

My list of books to read is always growing. In recent years, I've stopped finishing every book for several reasons. First, I know different books are for different audiences. I begin some books and learn they are targeted for someone who is very different from me.  Or maybe I find the topic boring or to me, the storytelling is not good. Obviously someone liked the content of this book or they would not have published it and brought it into the world.

Your definition for boring or good storytelling will be different from mine. The tastes of every reader are distinct. You have to discover what works for you and continually holds your attention. Authors have a responsibility not to bore their readers and if they do, then I stop reading the book.  It doesn't matter whether it is a novel or a self-help book.  I'm looking for entertainment and information.

Reading is an optional activity. If you are bored with your current reading, then look for a new genre or type of book. When you discover a new genre, it will invigorate your reading life. Ask others like librarians or friends for recommendations, and then try those books.

Here's some critical lessons for writers from this article:

1. Know and find the audience for your book. It is not everyone and you have to be reaching your audience with the message for your book. Editors and agents often refer to this process as building our platform. Get my free Ebook on this topic at: Platform Building Ideas for Every Author.

2. Understand a massive amount of new books enter the marketplace every day with the traditional and self-published books. According to some experts there are over 5,000 new books every day. It is way more than anyone can read and enjoy. As writers, we have an obligation to craft excellent books. They should not be thrown together. You should process your material with a critique group or an editor before sending it off to be considered.

3. The bulk of the promotion work for every book falls on the shoulders of the author—whether you are published from a traditional publisher or you self-publish. Jump into the fray and ask others to review your book and write honest reviews. 

On a regular basis,I see books launching which have no reviews or less than five reviews. Do the work to gather a team of readers who will read your book and write a review. Understand everyone is busy and even people who “commit” to reading your book may not get their review written. This fact means you will have to ask many more people to review your book to gather 25 or 30 reviews. I have a free teleseminar about reviewing books (use this link). Hear this presentation then apply it to your own work.

Reading should be fun and if it isn't, then you have my permission to stop reading and pick another book.


Do you finish every book you start? Check out how this editor handles it. (ClickToTweet)

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

How To Handle A Marketing Mistake

Ever made a marketing goof? Not just a little error but one where hundreds of people instantly see your mistake (but you didn't)? It's one of the realities of publishing: everyone makes mistakes. I've recently started a Colorado chapter of the Nonfiction Authors Association. The NAA has over 13,000 members and is a growing organization. There are no other chapters in Colorado and our first meeting was last month. 

On September 21st, our chapter will have our next meeting and I've scheduled our first speaker, Sandra Lamb. I've known Sandy for many years and she has written a number of nonfiction books and has a recent book, Writing Well for Business Success (St. Martins Press).

The Nonfiction Authors Association uses meetup to promote and organize their meetings. I've been learning how to use this tool. Last week I used meetup and invited over 200 Colorado writers to attend our meeting. Unfortunately the headline (and subject of my invitation read): Please accept my invitation to Sandra E. Lamb Will Speak at Our June 21st meeting. The body of the email clarified the date for the meeting was not June but September 21st. A couple of people responded and called the error to my attention. I corrected it on the website—but the emails had been sent and probably many people didn't open it with my error.

From this marketing mistake, here's what I learned:

1. Acknowledge the mistake. Yes you can deny it and other actions but the best way forward is to acknowledge the error. I quickly fixed it on the meetup page but the emails had been sent and the damage done.

2. Understand it happens to everyone. In the process of learning a new program or a new method, mistakes are made. It is a normal part of the learning curve.

3. Resend the emails then keep going (learn from it). PT Barnum said, “Without promotion, something terrible happens! NOTHING.” It is true. Writers can't come to the event that I've organized unless they know about the meeting. I will fix the error and resend the emails so hopefully a number of people come to this session.

While these lessons were key, here's some additional points: Notice my proactive stance with the mistake. I didn't just shrug it but I'm actively continuing to work to get the message out about this meeting. One reaction is to cross it off your list and do nothing. Such a reaction helps no one. If you want to achieve success, you have to face the bumps in the road and keep going.

In the journey of your writing and marketing, you will make mistakes. One of the easiest paths is to give up and stop writing and marketing. It's the action I've seen many writers take. They send out their submission and get a single rejection and assume no one wants it. The writers who get published take a different course of action.

They persevere and continue writing and looking for that right place to get published. They continue growing in their craft and reaching their audience and readers.

I hope many of you have learned something for your own writing and marketing life from my experience. If so, let me know in the comments. If I can help you, reach out to me.


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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

What Is Holding Back Your Writing?

Last weekend I was one of three editors on a panel about different ways to publish at the first Colorado Book Festival. After the session, an older writer wanted to show me his manuscript. I asked if he had a copy to give me, he said no. He could show it to me. Glancing at his material, he held neatly handwritten pages.

“Is your work on a computer to send me?”

“No,” he explained with sadness in his eyes, “I can't type.” Then he explained that he lived in a retirement community. I could see his passion and desire to get his material into a book and considered. “What I really need is an agent,” he continued.

From my years in publishing, I knew no literary agent would even glance at this handwritten manuscript. Many agents are overwhelmed with hundreds of electronic submissions every day. Even writers who have had their manuscript edited with a freelance editor can't get a literary agent to read their submission. The barriers to publication looked overwhelming for this writer.

I encouraged him to hire a student to type his words into the computer.  As I think about it, there are other possibilities for this author. He could:

--check out a typing book from his library and learn how to type. Ironically we were having this conversation in the downtown Denver Public Library. When computers were going to be on every desk in our office, the leader of our company didn't type. Secretaries and assistants had always typed for him and now he had to answer his own emails. This executive got a typing book and learned to type.

--read the book into a microphone and use a computer program to change the audio into text.

--use a self-publisher to take the handwritten material and turn it into a typed version. This option could be expensive—as much as $4 per page.

My conversation with this writer provided several insights for every author:

1. Whatever publishing challenge you are facing, understand there are multiple paths around your challenge. As a writer, you need to explore the various paths and understand your options around the challenges.

2. Every author needs to learn and follow the truth of the marketplace. This writer believed he needed a literary agent—yet agents don't consider representing handwritten manuscripts. His proposed solution was going to send him down a path which had little possibility of success. Each of us need to listen and explore the truths that we uncover as we explore different solutions to our challenges. Some solutions will have more potential than others and you need to select the right solution for your situation.

3. After you explore your different possibilities, you need to select a path and take action. I've seen way too many authors grow discouraged and put their manuscript away and never get it published.  The publishing world takes determination to succeed.

What skill or information is holding back your writing? Or maybe you have written a book and need to find new options in the marketplace to reach readers. At this event, I also spent time with someone that I met at least ten years ago, Brent Sampson who is the president of Outskirts Press, based in Parker, Colorado. We met at the Florida Writers Association and had not seen each other for years. Brent and I were two of the three participants in the panel discussion about how to get published.

The Outskirts Press exhibit was next to the Morgan James Publishing table and I noticed Brent's new book, The Book Marketing Coach.  He gave me a copy which is subtitled, “Effective, Fast and (Mostly) Free Marketing Tactice for Self-Publishing Authors.” Outskirts Press is a self-publishing company and from looking through this book (that I will read soon), I see ideas that any author can use—no matter how your book is published. The Book Marketing Coach is packed with short chapters for every author to apply to their writing.

Consider what is holding back your writing life then take action today to move forward.  Let me know in the comments section what you are doing and how I can help.


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Monday, September 05, 2016

Experiment With Marketing Efforts

Are you experimenting with the marketing of your writing? If your writing isn't getting published or your books aren't selling, are you changing or trying new venues? If not, why not? The definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over—yet expecting different results.

Not everything you try with marketing your books will work, but you have to continue trying. Sometimes it takes a while for a book to catch on and sell into the market. It's the same with your online marketing efforts or your work with magazines, you have to experiment and see what takes hold. All too often writers will try something and have meager results, then instantly discount or eliminate a particular area of the market or a book pitch or proposal.

For example, my biography of Billy Graham came out about a year and a half ago—yet I'm still doing radio interviews, promoting it on social media and at events. This Saturday will be the first Colorado Book Festival at the downtown Denver Public Library. Morgan James is one of the co-sponsors of the event and I have been encouraging our local authors to come and promote their books. A number of them are coming. I've created new bookmarks promoting my Billy Graham biography that I will be giving out. In addition, I'm working on some new promotions for early November (around Mr. Graham's birthday on November 7th  when he turns 98).

As an author, you have to keep promoting and telling people about your book—even long after it releases. You have the greatest passion for your own book and that has to translate into your on-going marketing plans for the book.  If your book has been out and it is not selling, then you need to be looking for new markets or doing more to be telling people about the book. Some books take several years before they catch on in the market. It is one of the realities of publishing and you have my encouragement not to give up on this process of marketing your books.

Last week, I told you about interviewing Rick Frishman, publisher at Morgan James, and one of the leading publicity relations experts. Rick is also the creator of Author 101 University and the 29th  such event will be held next month in Los Angeles, California (October 20–22). If you act right away, the conference price has been reduced to $197 AND you can bring a friend for FREE. If you use my coupon code TERRYGUEST then you can get an additional $50 off the registration. But to get these discounts, you have to register right away.

For the last several years, I've been interviewing Rick Frishman before Author 101 University. As an experiment, this year I'm interviewing him a second time on Wednesday, September 7th. Rick will be doing more in-depth teaching during the 45–minute session but you can still ask him a question (follow this link). I've also worked with Rick to create a second brand new Ebook, Mistakes: The Top Twenty. Everyone who registers for this event will be able to immediately download this resource. Also if you can't make the event, it will be recorded and everyone who registers will get the replay.

Will we have more people listening on Wednesday night? Will we get more people signed up for Author 101 University from this second effort? Will we help more people learn about how to promote their books and succeed in the publishing world? At this writing, I don't have answers to these questions but I'm certain about this: we will not know if we don't try it.

As an acquisitions editor, I speak with a lot of authors and potential authors. Everyone is looking for the magic bullet to sell their books with the least possible effort.  Yes you have to write an incredible book for the right target market then be telling your target market about the benefits for the reader from your book. There is no single path to creating a bestseller. If there were such a path, then every book would be a bestseller—and that's not the reality of the market place.

What experiments are you making with marketing your book? If you are needing more ideas in this area, one of the best steps I can recommend is planning to attend Author 101 University next month. When you attend, meet as many people as you can (exchange business cards) and then take action on the new ideas you gain from the experience.

In September, once again, I was selected among the top 100 marketers on Twitter. I remained at #56 on this distinguished list. As an author, I'm not just writing and talking about marketing and promotion. Every day I continue to actively work at telling new people about my work (and encourage you to do the same—stressing the benefits in this process).


Are you experimenting with different marketing efforts? Get new ideas here. (ClickToTweet)

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