Archive for tips

How Many Followers Do You Need before Doing a Book Launch?

Spirit Authors is well-known for its ‘bestseller’ book launches. So why is book marketer Lynn Serafinn advising an alternative plan for marketing your book?

A couple of weeks ago, a new client sent me an email asking, ‘How many social media followers would you consider “enough” for me to move onto planning a full book launch?’

My reply to her was that there was no simple answer to this, as there were so many variables. As I was explaining these variables in some detail in my email, it occurred to me that my readers here on Spirit Authors would probably also like to know the answer to this question. So today, I’ll be looking at the factors that I believe contribute to a successful book launch, as well as an alternative to the big ‘bestseller launch’, which I believe is a viable, economical and more sustainable book marketing option for many new authors.

The Golden Era of Launches

My first exposure to ‘bestseller book launches’ (also called ‘Amazon launches’) was in 2008 when I attended a seminar in London with Janet Switzer, one of the marketing brains behind the book Chicken Soup for the Soul. That was the first time I had ever heard of ‘joint venture partners’ and the idea of collaborative Internet marketing campaigns. It was clear that the key to success was in the strength of your network. One person even naively asked Janet if she would share her partner mailing list with us (!). Of course, she gracefully declined, explaining that this was not only a breach of confidentiality, but that she had spent years cultivating and nurturing the relationships with these partners. The people on that list would have no relationship with the new person. Thus, without relationships, the list would be of no value whatsoever – even though, for Janet, it was THE most valuable asset she had.

(As an aside, in hindsight I realise that what Janet did NOT talk about was the fact that the ‘Chicken Soup books themselves are collaborative projects, as they are comprised of dozens of different authors. That’s a whole different subject I won’t delve into here, but it is a major defining factor in the success of these books.)

I had attended the seminar because I was just about to self-publish my book The Garden of the Soul, and wanted to get ideas for how to give it a good ‘birth’. While the seminar opened my eyes, it also raised more questions than it answered, and I embarked on a quest to research everything I could find on the subject. I incorporated ideas I liked, and discarded those I didn’t. But the one thing I could see would be the biggest determining factor in my success would be my network. I started a radio show. I created free Garden of the Soul audio meditations. I made Garden of the Soul video poems for YouTube. I started blogging on a special site just for the book. But the most effective thing I did was set up a Garden of the Soul network on Ning. Sadly, no longer a very popular social media platform, many of my closest network partners today originally came from my Ning network. It was a lovely ‘micro-universe’ where I made close connections with a few hundred people who were 100% committed to helping me when my book came out a few months later. As a result, I was able to get the book to #18 in the spirituality category on Amazon, which wasn’t bad for a one-person act who had never done a book launch before. I was able to return the favour by having many of these people as guests on my radio show. Dozens of them continue to be my book launch partners today, and a few even became book marketing clients.

Since then, I’ve coordinated dozens of book launches for clients. I have a superb team who know exactly what to do and when. It’s become ‘systematised’ to such a degree that I can pretty much guarantee a client will hit #1 (or at least #2) in one or more category on Amazon. With each launch, my network of partners grows, and our relationships become stronger. Now my own circle of partners (along with my team) has become my most valuable business asset.

To Launch or Not to Launch?

So far, you might be thinking, ‘Great. All I need to do is find a person like Lynn or Janet who has a strong partner list and I can do a bestseller book launch.’

Well, when I was just starting out doing these launches as a business, I also made that assumption, thinking my clients could ‘ride on my coat-tails’ so to speak. But let me tell you from experience, this assumption is completely WRONG.

After a year or so of doing book launches, I started to see some patterns:

  • CLIENT A: Those clients who depended primarily upon my partner network might get to #1, but it was harder to get them there and it didn’t necessarily result in big sales. Furthermore, once the launch was over, it was sort of like, ‘Ok, I’ve spent all this time and money. Now what do I do with myself and my book?’
  • CLIENT B: Those clients who had strong partner networks of their own (which were then combined with my network) would rise to the top of the charts more quickly, and stay there longer, resulting in more book sales overall. However, as books are cheap, it was only on rare occasions that their profits from these sales would cover the expenses they had laid out to do the launch. Thus, they’d write it off as a business expense, and just return to ‘business as usual’ after the launch, meaning the launch made no significant change to their business.
  • CLIENT C: Those clients who had strong partner networks AND who had ‘spin off’ products and follow-up offers for their customers not only made better book sales, but they also made residual income after the launch. This was the only group who actually profited financially from doing a book launch.

As I saw these patterns emerging, I decided I would no longer offer book launches as an option to clients in the ‘A’ category. I felt it was unethical to ask them to commit so much time and money for something that would give them ’15 minutes of fame’ and then a big crash and burn (if not a credit card debt) at the end of the tunnel. Instead, I worked with them to build their marketing platforms and their networks – sometimes for as long as a year. Some would go on to do a book launch, but many didn’t feel the need, seeing the platform building as a steady and sustainable alternative to business growth and book sales.

Clients in Category C, obviously, had the greatest potential to benefit from doing a book launch, and I am happy to do a launch project with them.

Clients in Category B are ‘borderline’. What I tend to do with these clients is work with them for a while to create their follow-up offers so they can ‘ascend’ to Category C before their launch.

Back to the Question of the Day

OK. Now, taking all that context into consideration, let’s get back to my client’s question: ‘How many social media followers would you consider “enough” for me to move onto planning a full book launch?’

What you might notice is that, so far, I haven’t even MENTIONED social media followers. When I referred earlier to ‘strong partner networks’, I was NOT talking about big mailing lists or large numbers of followers on Twitter or Facebook.

That’s not to say that large social networks are not important. The fact is that your partners will appear from these networks. Of course, it’s up to you to recognise potential partners and cultivate your relationship with them (I talk a lot about this in my Twitter book Tweep-e-licious).  

Numbers have to be looked at in context. For one thing, the number of ‘followers’ that is considered substantial will vary from one social media network to another. While 2,000 Facebook friends is a lot, it’s not particularly exceptional on Twitter. Also, low numbers in one network can be offset by exceptionally high numbers elsewhere. For example, one of my clients has a minimal presence on Twitter, but has over 60,000 fans on his Facebook fan page.

But most of all, it’s not just about quantity, but about quality. Things I would assess before considering someone for a book launch are:

  • The level of engagement they have in their social networks (quantity and quality)
  • The amount and quality of informational content they have created and shared online
  • The degree to which that content reinforces their overall brand message
  • The amount and consistency of traffic they are driving to their website every day
  • Their mailing list size AND the consistency/relevance of their communication with that list
  • And, as already mentioned, the level of connection they have to potential PARTNERS who have equally solid platforms as them

Closing Thoughts

I hope you can see that making the decision to embark on a book launch cannot be reduced to a numeric equation. The decision comes from looking at a combination of factors, including your marketing platform, your partner network and your business/brand development. Think of a finely crafted watch. The only way it works is: 1) for all the parts to be of good quality; 2) for them to be assembled and working together as a unit correctly and; 3) for them to be maintained regularly.

Frankly, I think the ‘golden era of book launches’ is dying out. I believe building a solid platform and making a plan for how your book marketing will support your business growth is far more important that the ephemeral ‘rush’ you’ll get from being #1 for a day. It’s like winning the X-Factor and then not being able to make a career out of singing.

This is why we at Spirit Authors (now a branch of the 7 Graces Project CIC) have been focusing more and more deeply on developing a range of platform-building packages for our clients. We feel, for the majority of clients, these options give greater long-term value and are more sustainable than a book launch.

If you’re writing a value-rich book, you run an independent ethical business, or you’re planning to launch a new product in 2014, have a look at our platform-building packages and then drop us a line via the contact form on this site to set up a free 30 minute consultation to discuss your needs.

Lynn Serafinn
11th December 2013


NOW You Can Get The Spirit Authors Blog
Delivered Directly to Your Kindle!

Now you can have access to the latest tips in writing, publishing and book marketing everywhere you go. Get our Spirit Authors articles delivered once a week directly to your Kindle for only 99 cents a month (77pUK). Instead of reading someone else’s book on your way to work, get information on how to make your OWN book a success.

Take a 14-day free trial at:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/ZlW7HT

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/131495j

Join us on the Spirit Authors Page on Facebook

Connect with us on Twitter.


LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.

Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.

Twitter:

@LynnSerafinn   @SpiritAuthors @7GracesMarketng @GardenOfTheSoul

Facebook:

LynnSerafinn SpiritAuthors 7GracesOfMarketing 7 Graces Global Garden (group)

eBook reader on book shelfE-book author Erica Martin interviews book marketer Lynn Serafinn about her top marketing tips for authors with a small (or non-existent) marketing budget.

Next to writing a great e-book, effectively marketing your e-book is probably the  most crucial step to getting sales.  But many people, myself included, don’t have a lot of money to spend on e-book marketing.  That’s why this week I’m excited to publish a guest post by e-book marketer Lynn Serafinn, where she answers some of my questions about e-book marketing on a budget.

Erica: How did you get started in e-book marketing?

Lynn: First, I just want to clarify that I don’t just work in eBook marketing, but in online book marketing in general. I actually got started (as many who do book marketing do) by learning how to promote my own books. I attended many seminars, both online and in person. I learned the best and rejected the worst (least ethical) ways to market a book. Then, in 2009, I launched my first (paperback) book using the online marketing strategies I had honed and it became a bestseller. Soon after, someone asked me to write an article about my process on their book marketing blog. From that, I got my first book launch client. I got her to #1 bestseller status. After that, I had a steady stream of clients coming my way, all wanting to use my services. Since then, our company has grown and I have a team of 6 others who help me create book launches. We also offer other services such as online platform building for the author just starting out. Lately, a lot of authors have also been hiring me to write the copy for them that goes on their online book pages (on Amazon, etc.).

Erica: What are your thoughts on using fiverr to find someone to do e-book marketing? Is it potentially a good resource or can an e-book author do it themselves for cheaper?

Lynn: Honestly? I’ve never used these services and any time one of my clients has hired via these types of sites they often get ‘budget’ quality support. For me, ‘doing e-book/book marketing’ is about designing a strategy and developing a regular practice with it. I think budget assistants can help you implement the ‘legwork’ of your strategies, but they cannot ‘do’ marketing for you.

When I work with an author, I work with them to find out about the heart and soul of the book they are writing. What is the message? Who is most likely going to want to read it and why? Who is the author as a ‘brand’? What else (besides their book) does the author have for their audience? What is the bigger aim of the author’s business? Is it just about writing books or is there something else? How can we make this a long-term sustainable enterprise for them? These kinds of considerations are what distinguish successful authors from struggling ones, even if they are self-published.

Based upon the answer to these (and many other) questions, the author and I then build an online marketing strategy. At that point, and only then, when we are really clear about what needs to be done, you might approach hiring Virtual Assistants to help you.

From experience, I know that looking for the cheapest price can often end up costing you more in the long term. I’ve had several clients who chose to hire ‘budget’ assistants from sites like fiverr or eLance thinking this was the best way to go. They see a price of $4 an hour as opposed to $50 an hour and think it’s a bargain. But honestly, I have never seen budget hires actually save money (or time) for my clients, because while they might understand basic graphic design or basic social media principles, they don’t understand marketing at all. One of my clients paid hundreds to get her website designed by a budget hire. It looked very pretty but it was completely non-functional from a marketing and customer experience perspective. She ended up having to spend a whole lot more to get it sorted out. Another hired a budget assistant to work on getting her followers on Twitter. When I looked at her followers, about 50% either didn’t speak English (which was my client’s language) or were inactive accounts. It took me weeks to clean up her account and rebuild. Another client hired a cheap assistant who immediately got her account ‘stuck’ by following too many people too quickly, and she had no way to help my client to undo the damage. The stories go on and on.

I think the best ‘budget’ marketing is to learn as much as you can yourself, either by spending a little more to hire a marketing strategist who comes highly recommended to guide you. You should also read as many articles and books on book marketing as you can, and attend webinars on the subject. Know that you do NOT need to use everyone’s ideas if they don’t resonate with you. The best and most natural marketing is when you combine the best ideas of others with your own style and make it feel good to you.

Once an author knows how to create a good marketing strategy, he/she can then direct their hired help to implement it. But if you rely upon cheap hires to create a marketing strategy for you, you will only end up wasting your time and money, and are likely to get discouraged.

Erica: Everything I’ve read says that the most important tool for marketing a Kindle book is the Kindle book page – what tips can you give for writing a good book description?

Lynn: Writing a great book description (sometimes called a ‘wholesaler description’ or ‘wholesaler blurb’) is extremely important and, again, it’s a marketing issue. I have many clients who hire me JUST to write their book descriptions (called ‘copy writing’). It’s often difficult for an author to be objective about their book, and see it through their potential reader’s eyes.

This is a big subject, so rather than diving deeply into this here, Erica, I’d like to direct your readers to an article I wrote on this very subject called ‘How to Write Good Blurbs and Back Pages for Your Book’. In that article I go step-by-step through the process of writing a good book blurb that speaks to the audience rather than from a subjective perspective.

Your readers can find the complete article at http://spiritauthors.com/news/how-to-write-good-blurbs-and-back-pages-for-your-book/

Erica: Do you have any tips or suggestions for e-book authors with a small (or non-existent) marketing budget?

Lynn: In my experience, marketing is not just a monetary issue for authors; the truth is, they don’t really want to spend time on marketing. Many also imagine that if they can get a publishing deal, their marketing woes are over. This is a gross misunderstanding. Most publishers these days won’t sign you unless they see you already have a strong marketing platform established. The reality is that the modern authors simply must take ownership of their marketing, and build marketing into their business routine and their budget. That said, online book marketing doesn’t have to cost a fortune or take up all your time IF authors are willing to study and learn how to do it themselves, or learn just enough about it to direct their assistants to support them.

For me, the best, cheapest and most long-term book marketing strategy is to:

  1. Develop a large body of great blog and/or video content
  2. Drive traffic to this content through social media
  3. Develop a consistent, ‘do-able’ social media strategy
  4. Syndicate your content to article directories and other relevant blogs
  5. Watch your stats and make sure your site’s SEO is working for you
  6. Develop business relationships and build collaborations with others you meet on social media

Of course, there are other things you can do like organise virtual blog tours, radio tours and big book launches. I do these things for many clients. But these are far more expensive marketing choices because they require the help of other people (and these people need to be experienced). You don’t necessarily need these glossier marketing strategies if you devotedly focus on the ‘slow burn’ instead of the ‘big flash’, and are willing to wait for the results.

If you aim towards developing a consistent, continually evolving, long-term reputation, you will eventually see a tipping point where your books start to sell consistently. Your older books will experience an increase in sales every time you bring out a new title, and you’ll start to make a steady income from your books. The key is to stick with it. In my experience, most authors start to make real money after they’ve published their THIRD book. Keep writing. Keep building.

Erica: What other marketing resources can you suggest for e-book authors who are on a budget?

Lynn: I have dozens of free articles on book marketing on my Spirit Authors website at http://spiritauthors.com. I try to publish a new article every Wednesday (although with my busy schedule, that can get tough sometimes!). Authors can subscribe for free and receive these info articles via email every week. They can even get Spirit Authors articles delivered directly to their Kindle for 99 cents a month.

Authors may also wish to check out my book Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically, which is available in paperback and Kindle (other eBook formats coming in September).

The can also get loads of online book marketing ideas from my free 90-minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com

And, of course, if authors are looking for some guidance, we offer a platform-building package for authors. It’s not a ‘budget’ package, but we really do provide a great service. Your readers can read about this at http://spiritauthors.com/hire-us-for-your-book-launch/ and then drop me a line via the contact form on the website if they’d like to discuss it.

I hope this information was helpful to your readers, Erica. Thank you for inviting me to speak with you today.

This article originally appeared on Erica Martin’s blog ‘My eBook Journey’ on August 6th, 2013 at  http://myebookjourney.com/ebook-marketing-getting-the-word-out-on-a-budget/


NOW You Can Get The Spirit Authors Blog
Delivered Directly to Your Kindle!

Now you can have access to the latest tips in writing, publishing and book marketing everywhere you go. Get our Spirit Authors articles delivered once a week directly to your Kindle for only 99 cents a month (77pUK). Instead of reading someone else’s book on your way to work, get information on how to make your OWN book a success.

Take a 14-day free trial at:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/ZlW7HT

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/131495j

Join us on the Spirit Authors Page on Facebook

Connect with us on Twitter.


LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.

Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.

Twitter:

@LynnSerafinn   @SpiritAuthors @7GracesMarketng @GardenOfTheSoul

Facebook:

LynnSerafinn SpiritAuthors 7GracesOfMarketing 7 Graces Global Garden (group)

Write Your Book Now

Author and book marketer Lynn Serafinn tackles the most common excuses she hears from aspiring authors, with tips for how to move past them and write your book.

Over the years, I’ve worked with authors at many stages of their writing development. While most authors come to me for help with self-publishing and marketing, others come to me because they’ve found themselves stuck somewhere in the writing process. Maybe they have a wealth of ideas but are finding it hard to express them in words and develop them into a book. Maybe they have written hundreds of thousands of words, but they lack cohesion and focus. Maybe they’ve got into a pattern of starting and stopping, and now their project seems to be dragging on forever.

Whatever the scenario, all of these aspiring authors feel frustrated and powerless by the writing process, rather than empowered. The more powerless they feel, the more frustrated they become. The more frustrated they become, the less they feel like writing. And, of course, the less they feel like writing, the less they get done.

Writers are supposed to be great storytellers; but sometimes their greatest stories are the ones they tell themselves. Authors who get stuck in the vicious cycle of non-productivity often do not realise that the problems they are experiencing come from their own stories—their unconscious beliefs about themselves as writers and about the nature of the writing process in general.

The trouble is, once these stories take hold in their belief system, they become justifications and excuses for why their book isn’t getting written. And the more we feel justified in our reasons for not doing something, the more it will NOT get done.

So, for anyone out there who is struggling to start, make progress with, or complete a book project, I’d like to share the ‘Top 5 Excuses’ I’ve heard throughout my years of working with authors. As you read, ask yourself whether or not these same excuses might be getting in your way.

Excuse 1: ‘I can’t find the time to write.’

Truth: There’s no such thing as ‘finding time’. You have to create it.

I cannot count the number of times I’ve heard authors use this excuse. My response to it might sound brutal, but it’s the truth: there’s no such thing as finding time; you have to make the time.

Saying that you have to ‘find the time’ to write your book means you have not yet given your book top priority in your life. When I set the intention to write a book, I block out chunks of time to get it done. That could (and often does) mean taking a month off from ANY other work commitments, so I can write full-time. Or, it can mean setting aside specific days or specific hours of the day when I am 100% focused on the book project.

Of course, everyone’s life commitments are different. But even if you have a 9-5 job and a family, you can (and must) block out time that is sacrosanct for your writing and nothing else. Even if it’s only 2 hours every Tuesday night, you’ve got to create the space for your book project.

Unless you consciously schedule this time into your life, you will ALWAYS leave your book as your last priority. And when you do manage to write, your book will probably lack cohesiveness. Not creating time to write will also make your project drag on and on, which can dampen your motivation.

Excuse 2: ‘I’m not good enough.’  

Truth: NO writer is ‘good enough’ unless they spend time at their craft.

Good writers are the product of diligent practice. If you don’t write because you think you’re not good enough, you’ll never find out how good you can actually be. In his book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell talks about something called the ‘10,000 hour rule’. This ‘rule’ states that for someone to excel in their craft—any craft—they need to have spent a minimum of 10,000 hours of practice at it.

How long is 10,000 hours? It could be 3 hours a day for roughly 10 years. It could be 6 hours a day for 5 years. Or, it could be 8 hours a day for about 3 ½ years. Gladwell cites several examples of people who spend virtually every waking hour on their craft (such as Bill Gates’ time spent working with computers), showing what it takes to become a leader in any given field.

There’s another ‘rule’ that one of my high school English teachers told me: If you want to learn how to be a great writer, you must first become a great reader. An integral part of honing your craft as a writer is reading. As writers, we read at a different level from those who read simply for pleasure or diversion. Reading improves our vocabulary. It reinforces grammar. It gives us creative and structural ideas. And it deepens our aesthetic appreciation for our craft.

So, if you want to be a good writer, start by writing every day for at least a couple of hours. And when you’re not writing, be sure to read a couple of hours a day. But the one thing that will never get you going is to avoid writing altogether because you don’t think you’re good enough.

Excuse 3: ‘I can only write when I feel inspired.’

Truth: Real writers know how to write ‘on demand’.

This is a HUGE excuse for writers, and it is possibly the one that creates the biggest obstacle. If we wait for the ‘muse’ to touch us with her wand before we sit down to write, we will never get our books written.

Inspiration doesn’t always strike BEFORE we write. Sometimes, you have to sit down and start writing and THEN inspiration will hit you. Back when I was a musician, I practiced every day, whether I wanted to or not. I didn’t feel particularly ‘inspired’ when I went to practice. But after I got started, and I felt my muscles wake up and my fingers move with more dexterity, I started to gain momentum. Sometimes I started out by telling myself that I’d practice only for an hour, but then  end up practicing for three, four or even five hours because I got into it.

Make it a daily practice to sit down to write regardless of how you feel. Believe it or not, inspiration will arrive even if you feel totally unmotivated before you start.

Excuse 4: ‘It’s all been done before.’

Truth: Every author has a different story to tell.

I’ve heard this excuse SO many times. An author wants to write a book on a particular subject, but they cite a dozen ‘famous’ authors who have all done it before. This kind of thinking zaps their confidence, and leads many an author to abandon their writing project.

The fact is, even if the ‘story’ has already been told, every author has a unique angle to bring to it. Think of all the best-selling vampire stories on the market right now! If Stephanie Myer had said, ‘Gosh, Bram Stoker’s already said it all,’ her career would never have taken off.

Writing non-fiction is no different. Ok, let’s say you’re writing a book on alternative health. Instead of thinking that authors like Louise Hay have ‘said it all before’, think of ways of citing your predecessors’ work in your own book, and expanding the topic. When I wrote The 7 Graces of Marketing, for example, I cited hundreds of other authors to show my unique angle on the topic of ethical marketing. If I had really wanted to sabotage my efforts, I could have told myself that there were already ‘enough’ marketing books on the market, and that there was no need for mine. That would have been a huge mistake, both for me and for my readers.

You also must remember that every reader has a different preference, and that different authors provide readers with different reading experiences. For example, in the field of personal development, I love Susan Jeffers for her simple, direct style, Martha Beck for her relaxed, humorous style, and Deepak Chopra for his philosophical, poetic style. All of these authors talk about authenticity and inner connection, but they all bring something different to my reading enjoyment.

For a reader, being able to have these varied reading experiences is just like having a rich and varied diet: it makes us healthier and happier. So never doubt that there is room for your perspective on the market.

Excuse 5:’No one will be interested.’

Truth: It’s up to you to create the interest.

The only way people will be interested in your book is if you are really clear about who might be interested in the subject AND you create a way to connect and communicate with them.

By identifying who might be interested, you are identifying your ‘target audience’ (I prefer to call this your ‘ideal’ audience). By creating ways to connect and communicate with your ideal audience, you are making your marketing strategy. Without putting care and attention into both of these things, it’s true: ‘No one will be interested’.

This is where my job as a marketing consultant comes in. I help authors create public interest in their books by identifying their ideal audience and creating marketing strategies. Regardless of whether or not you work with a marketing consultant to do this, it is something that MUST be done to ensure your book reaches the public.

Book marketing is not luck or rocket science; it’s a craft just like writing is. If you want to learn more about book marketing, I invite you to browse through the many free articles on the Spirit Authors website.

And, of course, if you are looking to build a marketing platform for your book, drop me a line via the contact form on this site to discuss the options our team at Spirit Authors have to offer you.

Lynn Serafinn
25th September 2013

NOW You Can Get The Spirit Authors Blog
Delivered Directly to Your Kindle!

Now you can have access to the latest tips in writing, publishing and book marketing everywhere you go. Get our Spirit Authors articles delivered 1-2 times a week directly to your Kindle for only 99 cents a month (77pUK). Instead of reading someone else’s book on your way to work, get information on how to make your OWN book a success.

Take a 14-day free trial at:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/ZlW7HT

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/131495j

Join us on the Spirit Authors Page on Facebook

Connect with us on Twitter.


LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.

Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.

Twitter:

@LynnSerafinn   @SpiritAuthors @7GracesMarketng @GardenOfTheSoul

Facebook:

LynnSerafinn SpiritAuthors 7GracesOfMarketing 7 Graces Global Garden (group)

Book marketer Lynn Serafinn shares her tips for making a professional-looking book layout that creates an enjoyable experience for your readers. Part 5 of a 5-part series on self-publishing.

In the previous four blog posts, I’ve been sharing my 10-part checklist for self-publishing. So far we’ve covered ‘must do’ items 1-9:

We’ve finally reached the end of our checklist! Here’s what we’ll be looking at today:

Must-Do #10: Formatting, Uploading and Ordering Your Proof

So let’s get started.

Why It’s CRUCIAL to Give Attention to the Interior Layout of Your Book

One of the most common criticisms self-published books receive is that the formatting looks shoddy and unprofessional. Nonetheless, when new self-publishing clients come to me, I often find that formatting is frequently the last thing on their mind. Typically, they’re far more concerned with the message of the book and about getting a good cover than they are about the aesthetic experience their readers will have as they turn the pages.

While a beautiful cover is an invitation to your readers to pick it up and check it out, a poor interior layout will cause these same readers to close the book and STOP reading. Even if your content is the definitive revelation of the mysteries of the Universe, poor attention to font styles, sizes and line spacing contribute greatly to the physiological impact of a person’s reading experience. Lack of attention to ‘pause points’ where you break up the text with sub-headers (for non-fiction) or little glyphs/images, can deprive your readers of breathing space and make it difficult for them to absorb and locate relevant information.

About 5 years ago, I created a basic ‘house style’ for my own books. I know this style works because I have received dozens of letters from readers who have told me things like:

  • ‘Wow, I’ve never read a 400 page book so quickly’ or
  • ‘I literally couldn’t stop reading’ or
  • ‘I found your book so easy to read’.

While you might think these kinds of statements are reflections on the content or writing style of the books, I believe they are equally reflective of the layout. A clear, clean and ‘spacious’ layout that delivers an aesthetically pleasing visual experience can keep your readers reading. A bad layout can make readers fatigued, unfocussed and just plain bored, even if they are interested in the topic. Ask any skilled designer and they will confirm this.

The bottom line is this: even if a million people buy your book, unless they enjoy the experience of reading (hopefully to the end), they won’t remember it or talk about it to others.

DIY or Hire Someone?

Knowing how important your interior layout is, it’s crucial you make the right decision about who is going to format your book—you or a professional. This decision really depends upon two things:

  • Whether or not you have the technical skills and software to do it
  • Whether you have the time, patience and interest to learn how to do it right

At this point, it’s also important to add that formatting for paperback is entirely different from formatting for eBook formats. Furthermore, formatting for Kindle is significantly different from formatting for Smashwords. Below, we’ll look at a few considerations for all of these scenarios.

Preparing for Paperback

Most professionals who do interior book layout use InDesign or similar programmes. Back in the ‘old days’ (10 years ago) I used to use Adobe PageMaker. These kinds of programmes are generally necessary if you intend to use offset printing.

However, for digital printing, such as those used in POD (print-on-demand) services like Lightning Source, you can actually format your paperback book in Word and convert it to high-resolution PDF. If you’ve done it correctly, the print book will look exactly as it does in the PDF.

Using Word doesn’t necessarily mean your book will look less professional than if you used InDesign IF you know what you’re doing. I’ve formatted at least a half-dozen books using Word (for myself and my clients), and I’ve had several major publishers tell me that they looked really professional.  None of them guessed I had used Word for my layout (which is when you know you’ve done a good job).

It’s beyond the scope of this article to write a detailed ‘how to’ for formatting your book in Word, but here are some basics:

  • Plan ahead. For non-fiction books, be sure to organise your book into clear sections, chapters and sub-headings within the chapters.
  • Define and use formatting styles in Word. Most people who use Word will format every word or paragraph individually. Word has the capability of defining styles (similar to the idea of CSS style sheets on websites).  Spend some time getting to know how to use these styles and plan out the styles for your book. It makes formatting much easier and more consistent,
  • Define headers, footers and page numbers carefully.  Ensuring there are different styles for odd/even pages and first pages of sections can make your book look much more professional.
  • Use section breaks and page breaks. Putting section breaks for each chapter can help you organise your headers and footers, and ensure all your chapters start on an odd numbered page (on the right side as you’re looking at the book). Again, be SURE you understand how to use these properly because you can end up making a mess of your headers and footers if you don’t.
  • Use branded glyphs/graphics as dividers. It’s always a nice touch to use some sort of graphic to put at the beginning and/or end of chapters. This should be something ‘branded’, i.e., something that relates to the cover of your book. For example, for my book Tweep-e-licious, I used the image of the Twitter bird that appears on the cover of the book.
  • Use high-res (300 dpi) images. For print, images should be 300 dots per inch or they’ll look blurry or fuzzy. Images you got from the Internet are typically 72-96 dpi.
  • PRINT your finished layout and check it MULTIPLE times. NEVER send your final layout to the printer until you’ve seen it in a hard-copy. Print out your entire book and check everything including headers and footers, section breaks, consistency of where chapters start, etc. And don’t forget to check that your Table of Contents (TOC) has the right pages listed. Circle in RED any mistakes you find and meticulously correct them in your manuscript, checking them off as you go along. Then, after it’s all fixed, print the whole book out AGAIN and check it one more time.
  • Use a commercial quality PDF converter. For digital printing, you need to convert your book to a 300dpi version PDF. Be sure to embed all fonts. Word 2013 has this capability. If your version of Word cannot do this, you might need to buy a PDF converter or ask someone else to do it for you.

Ebook Formatting

I spoke a bit about the different eBook formats (and also their royalties, etc) in my previous article EEEEEE-Books!! 5 Top Questions – A Short Intro to Digital Media for Authors Who Haven’t Got a Clue.

Once again, you can do it yourself, but if you haven’t done it before, or you don’t have time to learn how to do it, I strongly recommend hiring a highly recommended professional for this. You might start by asking other authors, or by checking Smashwords’ list of Independent Smashwords Formatters and Cover Designers.

If you decide to do it yourself, be sure you read the style guides for your chosen eBook distributors.

I’ve done all the formatting for my Kindle eBooks as well as those of many of my clients. Amazon says you can upload a plain Word Doc, but really it’s not so straightforward. The first few times I did it, I had to upload my book several times before I got it right. In the end, I opted to create an HTML file, as I feel comfortable with HTML code, and I can troubleshoot most issues more easily in it than in the messy code of MS Word. Using a good HTML editor (I use Dreamweaver) has many advantages over Word when you’re making sure your images are placed properly, your font styles are displaying correctly and your hyperlinks within the document are working right.

Just as you did with your print layout formatting, it’s important to think carefully about the experience you want your eBook readers to have when they read your book. For example, if the print version of your book has a lot of footnotes or references, you’ll need to hyperlink directly to these references from the body text. That way, the reader can move quickly to the reference without having to scroll through your entire book.

You should also hyperlink from your TOC to your chapter headings. I did this for my books the 7 Graces of Marketing and Tweep-e-licious. The latter presented an even bigger challenge because it’s a reference book, containing 158 Twitter Tips. For someone who is reading the paperback, they can easily flip back and forth between the TOC and the relevant page number of the tip they want to view. I did my best to replicate this experience by listing EVERY tip in the TOC, and hyperlinking directly to where it appeared in the book. Then, at the end of every tip, I put a hyperlink that said ‘Back to Table of Contents’ so people could jump back to the list. This took me a LONG time to do, but it really paid out in the end product because it allowed my eBook readers to use the book as it had been intended—for reference.

Lightening Source (LSI) also has eBook distribution services, but their formats are very limited. I think if you stick with the two distributors above you should be able to cover all the bases.

NOTE: You cannot use the same ISBN for your eBooks as you did for your print book. Also, each of the above eBook formats will need a UNIQUE ISBN.  Smashwords also requires you say ‘Smashwords version’ on your front pages, so as to distinguish it from other versions. Please read more information about this in their free Smashwords Style Guide.

Uploading Your Materials and Getting Your Proof

Each of the above self-publishing formats has different requirements for uploading. I won’t go into uploading your materials to Kindle or Smashwords, because they have all that information on their websites, but here are a few key points for Lightning Source.

For Lightning Source (LSI)

For your print version at LSI, you’ll need to submit:

  • The Interior of your book as high-res PDF
  • The Cover/spine/back of your book as PDF

My experience is that some browsers get ‘hung up’ when trying to upload materials to LSI. I recommend uploading via Google Chrome, as I have had the best luck with it.

At the time of uploading, be SURE you request a proof copy of your book. The last time I checked, this was about $40 USD.  You should receive it within a week. Go through this proof CAREFULLY. Look for obvious errors like unplanned blank pages, missing images or weird characters. If there are errors, you’ll have to go back to your layout and make corrections and re-upload and request another proof.

NEVER, EVER, EVER approve a title until you are holding a finished copy in your hands that is free of errors. If you rush the proofing process, all your good effort will have gone to waste. Take your time. Breathe. The world can wait one more day for your book to come out.

Once your proof is approved, your title will be fed/distributed to wholesalers (Amazon) for sale. The book will automatically appear on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. within a couple of weeks. It will say it’s ‘out of stock’ but don’t worry. This is normal. See my article, How to Kick Start Your Book Sales – Part 2 for information on how to get your book to appear ‘in stock’.

And that’s it! You are now a (self) published author! Congratulations.

Now, all you need to know about is how to market your book. And for that, I hope you’ll take a look around this blog and subscribe so you can receive all our future info articles.

And lastly, if you need one-to-one personal help with your self-publishing or book marketing journey, drop us a line via the contact form on this website.

Lynn Serafinn
24th July 2013

NOW You Can Get The Spirit Authors Blog
Delivered Directly to Your Kindle!

Now you can have access to the latest tips in writing, publishing and book marketing everywhere you go. Get our Spirit Authors articles delivered 1-2 times a week directly to your Kindle for only 99 cents a month (77pUK). Instead of reading someone else’s book on your way to work, get information on how to make your OWN book a success.

Take a 14-day free trial at:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/ZlW7HT

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/131495j

Join us on the Spirit Authors Page on Facebook

Connect with us on Twitter.


LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.

Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.

Twitter:

@LynnSerafinn @SpiritAuthors @7GracesMarketng @GardenOfTheSoul

Facebook:

LynnSerafinn SpiritAuthors 7GracesOfMarketing 7 Graces Global Garden (group)

Lynn Serafinn shares a template for writing good marketing copy for your wholesalers, and discusses what to put on the back cover and back pages of your book. Part 4 of a 5-part series on self-publishing.

Over the past month, I’ve been sharing my 10 ‘Must Do’s’ of self-publishing. So far we’ve covered:

The problem is, I keep thinking of more things to say! First it was going to be a single article. Then, 2 parts… 3 parts… 4 parts. Today I finally decided it needed to be a 5-part series. Today is Part 4. In this article, we’ll be looking at:

Must-Do #9: Blurbs, back cover and back pages

So here we go!

How Your Book is an INVITATION

Your book is not just a book. It is an invitation. First, you are inviting your reader into a new space, where you make them a promise to deliver something they want. Secondly, it is an invitation for them to become more deeply connected with you beyond the pages of your book.

To ensure your book is an effective invitation, you need three vital components:

  • A powerful book description (‘blurb’) for wholesalers
  • An equally powerful back cover blurb (if publishing a printed version)
  • Attractive ‘back pages’ that attract the reader to explore more

Let’s look at each of these, respectively.

Your Wholesalers’ Blurb – technical considerations

The wholesalers’ ‘blurb’ is the words that are fed automatically from your distributor (for example, Lightning Source) to wholesalers and online retailers about your book. In Lightning Source, they also refer to this as the ‘meta’.

Different distributors have different ‘rules’ and specifications for their blurbs:

  • Most have a character limit. For example, Lightning Source has a limit of 4000 characters (including spaces) for their ‘meta’.
  • Some (like Lightning Source) require you to input HTML code for the blurb to read properly. If you don’t, when it appears on Amazon or other websites all the paragraphs in your blurb will be run together into one long block of text. This looks unreadable (and unprofessional) on people’s computer screens, so it’s vital to prepare your HTML properly before submitting your blurb.
  • Note that any character limits INCLUDE your html coding. So if your limit is 4000 characters, try to stick to around 2500 characters of text/spaces when you’re writing the blurb. That way the extra characters from your HTML code won’t take it over the limit.
  • Some companies will accept Word docs and your formatting will (or should) carry over to the online version.

Before starting to write your blurb, be sure you address these details with your distributor or subsidiary publisher, so you don’t end up disappointed.

TRICK: I discovered that the HTML tags <h2></h2> will translate into a lovely header on Amazon that uses its ‘house style’ orange colour.

Your Wholesalers’ Blurb – writing your copy

It’s important that your blurb is constructed properly so that you will attract the attention of the right customers when they read it online. Think of your book as a journey. People will ‘embark’ on the journey when they start to read it. However, you have to remember that they’ve been on their own journey long before they found your book, and something has led them to find you.

Any copy for a non-fiction book must address and acknowledge where your readers have come from, where they are now, and where you are going to take them. Here’s a rough template of how your blurb should go. Be sure to make each section SHORT with 2-3 sentences maximum in each:

  1. HEADLINE/BIG IDEA: Start with a headline that addresses the ‘big idea’ of the book. Make it short and to the point. Some people recommend putting keywords in your headline. That can be a very useful idea to help get your book to appear in searches, but be sensible about this, and don’t just ‘stuff’ your headline with keywords if they don’t actually convey the ‘big idea’.
  2. THE DESIRE: In your first paragraph, talk to your reader. What’s the journey they’ve been on? What are they looking for? What are the challenges they have faced?
  3. THE PROMISE: In the next paragraph, give a broad view of how THIS book addresses what the reader is looking for.
  4. EVIDENCE: In the next paragraph, give specific examples of how the book delivers on the promise. You might say something like, ‘You’ll learn X, Y, Z, etc.’ This is a good place to use a bullet-pointed list to make it easier for people to absorb.
  5. CREDIBILITY:  Somewhere in your text (it could come in the ‘evidence’ part) bring in your credibility. For example: ‘Mary Smith draws upon more than 20 years in the holistic wellness field to give you…’
  6. USP: This stands for ‘unique selling point’. After you’ve given the ‘evidence’, people are going to start asking ‘Yeah…so what?’ There are countless other books on the market in your niche. Why is THIS BOOK different? What’s the angle? What does it do that no other book does?
  7. BONUS MATERIALS: If your book contains a link to any bonus materials, such as a downloadable MP3, worksheets, etc., here’s the place to mention them.
  8. END RESULT: Close your blurb with a simple, one-sentence rewording of ‘the promise’, reminding them of what they will gain from reading the book, and assure them that if they’re looking for X (‘the desire’) they’ll find it here.

ADVICE: Avoid schmoozy hype and over-blown descriptors in your copy. Don’t use words like ‘amazing’, ‘life-changing’, ‘incredible’ etc. Just tell people about the book. Remember: it’s an invitation, not a demand.

Making a good blurb for your wholesalers’ description requires skill and practice. It’s not something you should do flippantly or hurriedly. Get other people to read it and make sure it’s proofread. AND, if you’ve never done one before, you might have to do it a few times before it actually looks right on Amazon and has the right effect.

Your Back Cover Blurb

Your back cover copy is also an invitation. This time, it’s an invitation to readers who may be physically picking up your book in a book shop or at a book event.

Essentially, your back cover blurb should be a (significantly) reduced version of your wholesalers’ blurb. For it to fit, you’ll probably have to cut it down by as much as two-thirds, depending upon your layout. Make sure you have at least one line from each of the 8 parts of the template above, but strip it WAY back.

Leave room on your cover for other elements:

  • A short (50-75 word) author bio and headshot
  • 2-3 endorsements (see Part 3 of this series)
  • Your bar code and price

Your Back Pages

While the above ‘blurbs’ are invitations for your readers to step into your book, the back pages of your book must be an invitation for your readers to step into a deeper connection with you. These should not be big blasting sales pages but information that can help the reader do any (or all) of the following:

  • Read more about you (i.e. your ‘about the author’ page)
  • Find/buy more of your books
  • Sign up to receive a free offer of some kind
  • Join an online community you lead
  • Listen to a radio show you host
  • Get involved in a project you are doing
  • Find out more about courses you deliver
  • Contact you for a private consultation
  • Connect with you on social media

TIPS:

  • For long links, use a shortener like http://bit.ly and then customise the link (example: http://bit.ly/TweepKindleUS is a custom link to buy the Kindle version of my book Tweep-e-licious on Amazon US).
  • While providing your readers with links is important, for print books (not eBooks) you might consider using QR codes as well.
  • Don’t just use words; show pictures of your books or logos of your show, etc.

NEED HELP?

While many self-published authors feel confident with writing book blurbs, many others find it challenging to distil the thoughts and language of their book into marketing copy. Others don’t know how to use HTML or how to ‘chunk’ the information visually so it becomes easily digestible on a computer screen.

Writing blurbs is something I do all the time for my clients, and some even hire me solely for this purpose. I spend a long private session interviewing you so I can extract the real ‘promise’ of your book and your work, and to get a real feel for the ‘desire’ of your ideal audience. I’ve repeatedly been told my copy writing really captures the essence of my clients’ work in an authentic way. On the technical side, I’m also great with HTML. I’ve been using it every day in my work for years. My MA is in distance education, and about 10 years ago, and as part of my degree I had to create a pretty complex educational web directory using only HTML code).

So if you’re in need of a help in these areas, give me a shout and we can set up an appointment to chat about it. Just drop me a line via the contact form on this site: http://spiritauthors.com/contact

And, of course, if you’d like to discuss building a marketing platform for your book, an Amazon book launch or any other marketing help, give me a shout too.

I do hope you’ve found this article useful. Let me know what you thought about it (or ask me any questions you might have) in the comments below.

AND…subscribe to this blog if you want to be sure to get Part 5 (finally) of this series, where we’ll be looking at:

Must-Do #10: Formatting, Uploading and Ordering Your Proof

Lynn Serafinn
17th July 2013

Happy birthday to my mother, Margaret, who would have been 90 years old today if she were still alive. Thanks for teaching me all about grammar, Mom.

NOW You Can Get The Spirit Authors Blog

Delivered Directly to Your Kindle!

Now you can have access to the latest tips in writing, publishing and book marketing everywhere you go. Get our Spirit Authors articles delivered 1-2 times a week directly to your Kindle for only 99 cents a month (77pUK). Instead of reading someone else’s book on your way to work, get information on how to make your OWN book a success.

Take a 14-day free trial at:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/ZlW7HT

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/131495j

Join us on the Spirit Authors Page on Facebook

Connect with us on Twitter.


LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She was recently named one of the Top 100 marketing authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was selected as a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. Her eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Through her company Spirit Authors, her marketing campaigns have  produced a long list of bestselling self-help and mind-body-spirit authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project, a budding social enterprise whose aim is to help grow a new generation of passionate entrepreneurs who want to serve both people and planet through innovative, ethical, independent enterprise.

 

Twitter:

@LynnSerafinn @SpiritAuthors @7GracesMarketng @GardenOfTheSoul

Facebook:

LynnSerafinn SpiritAuthors 7GracesOfMarketing 7 Graces Global Garden (group)

Author consultant Lynn Serafinn looks at the artistic rewards of self-publishing, how to work with an editor, and how to approach endorsers for your book.

I believe our digital era—digital printing, digital distribution and digital (online) marketing—has liberated independent authors from ‘needing’ to have publishers or subsidiary presses to publish their books. No longer must we feel at the mercy of big business to share our words, ideas and imagination.

I’m sure part of my passion for self-publishing comes from my many years as an indie musician, when I preferred to publish via my own record label than to be taken seriously by major record companies. Ironically, after years of thinking a record deal was my ‘goal’ in music, when our electro-trance band was offered a record deal in 1994 with one of the biggest labels on the planet (along with all the trappings like MTV videos and going on tour with big name acts), I suddenly realised I didn’t want it. The A&R guy (the person who signs the acts) was already trying to seize too much artistic control. I feared we would turn into something we were not and end up appealing to no one, only to be dumped by them a year later because we didn’t sell enough records. It happens all the time in the music industry.

I believe Madonna (whether you like her as an artist or not) took a sensible and fruitful approach to working with record labels. She started out as a pro-active, ambitious independent artist, highly focused on building her following. By the time record labels started to approach her, her identity (i.e., her ‘brand’) AND her fan base were so defined, record labels didn’t TRY to change her. Her clarity about who she was as an artist (even though it changed every year) and who her fans were meant that she gained a reputation as someone who was able to maintain artistic control even within a corporate environment. Later, she had enough clout (and money!) to break free from corporate influence altogether, and created her own record label. In a way, she went BACK to being an independent artist, the master of her own artistic destiny.

I believe Madonna’s career serves as a great lesson for authors in the digital era. Committing to being self-published, possibly for several years, while you put your attention into building your ‘brand’ and your fan base IS a highly sensible route. Then, you wait until you reach a ‘tipping point’ where a publisher might be able to take your sales to the next level AND you are a ready-made asset for a specific publisher (or niche of publishers). Only then is it the time to approach a major publisher. When you can show you have a clear market, a clear identity, a strong fan base and some marketing know-how, the ‘right’ publisher will sit up and take notice when you approach them (typically through a literary agent; but that’s another story).

Then again, maybe you don’t WANT a publisher after all. Maybe you’ll decide that self-publishing is actually better for you. Maybe you’ll develop a love for the entrepreneurial spirit and freedom of self-publishing. Maybe you’ll be so good at marketing and distribution (or you’ve outsourced great people to manage it for you) that you’ll start building a small empire with your books. Maybe you’ll even publish other authors.

Anyway…

That’s enough of the pep talk. I just wanted to take a moment to get you into the right state of mind before we get back to work.

Back to Our Checklist…

Over the past 2 weeks, I’ve been sharing my Top-10 ‘must do’ items for self-published authors. Here’s a quick review of what we’ve looked at so far. You can click the links below to read more about them.

In Part 1, we explored:

In Part 2, we took a detailed look at:

Today, in Part 3, we’ll be looking at the next two items on our ‘must do’ checklist:

So here we go!

Must-Do #7: Working Through Your Edits and Proofs

Many new authors think that once they finish their draft, their editor will ‘fix’ everything for them and that when they get their edit back from the editor, everything will be ready to publish.  This is a big misunderstanding of the role an editor plays in the publishing process.

While many new authors think editing is just a matter of correcting errors in grammar and spelling, it’s far more than that. A good editor will typically make suggestions for changes that will make your book tighter and more cohesive. They might recommend re-writing certain sections, changing the order of your ideas (or whole chapters). They might recommend that you elaborate on an idea, trim something down, or even delete parts that are redundant. They might point out inconsistencies in point-of-view, verb tense or continuity, and make suggestions for how to fix them.

An editor might notice certain idiosyncrasies in your writing that they ask you to address personally. For example, my editor told me to search through my ENTIRE manuscript to find every instance of certain adverbs I tended to overuse (like ‘really’, ‘quite’, ‘actually’ and similar fillers), and then delete as many of them as possible. This part of the process can be a real emotional journey for an author, especially if they have never worked with a good editor before. You might wonder why the editor didn’t do this herself. I’m glad she asked me to do it because a) it gave me the chance to decide which instances of these words should stay or go and b) it helped me improve as a writer. I notice that I am much more mindful of my ‘filler’ words since being challenged by my editor to address this issue.

Learn to relish the challenges your editor gives you as a valuable learning experience. Do not see his/her suggestions as criticisms but as tools to make you a better, more professional writer. This is why choosing the right editor is so important. A great editor is not only a master of words, but is also unafraid to ‘give it to you straight’.

Of course, you have to be prepared for this—emotionally AND in terms of time. BLOCK OUT a month of your time to go through your editors edits. Treat them with as much care and delight as you did when you wrote the first two drafts of your book.

After you make the changes your editor suggested, I strongly recommend sending the edited draft back to your editor (or to a proofreader, if you are using someone different) so they can go over it with a fine eye for typos, spelling and punctuation errors. Again, they will probably send the proofed draft to you using ‘track changes’ so you can approve the changes manually. That means you’ll need to block out another week of your time for this. Do NOT rush this process or do this when you’re tired. That’s when mistakes happen. Going through the corrections yourself manually (rather than trusting the proofreader to make the final call) is important in case they misinterpreted what a misspelled word was intended to be. Only you will be able to evaluate whether the corrections are actually ‘correct’.

Must-Do #8: Obtaining Endorsements for Your Book

Obtaining endorsements for your book before it comes out is an important part of your publishing process. The time to seek them actively is AFTER you’ve completed reworking the edits your editor gave you, but BEFORE the manuscript goes for final proofreading. Most endorsers are happy to read through an unproofed and semi-formatted PDF version of your book.

Your endorsers should be experts in the same or similar field as the subject of your book. Preferably, they should be other authors or other well-known personalities in the field. They could also be leaders within well-known and widely respected organisations related to your field. Some obvious candidates for endorsers would be people you cite or mention within your book. Others could be colleagues in your business networks (including your social networks).

Many new authors choke at the idea of asking for endorsements for their book. They worry about being rejected, or they worry they’ll look silly. But there really is no need to be shy about asking for an endorsement, as there is an incentive for people to give you one. After all, their name, book title and (possibly) website will go either inside your book or maybe even on the front or back cover. That’s free ‘advertising’ for them to their target audience.

Think of it this way: You want their endorsement because if their readers see them endorsing your book, they’ll think it might be of interest to them. But conversely, if your readers see your endorsers’ names mentioned in your book, they might think to check their books out too. You are happy, your endorsers are happy, and your readers are happy. It’s a win-win-win.

When you contact people asking for an endorsement, try to be mindful of the following details:

  • If you already know the person, all you really need to do is ask them if they’ll let you send them a copy of your new book, so they can write a short endorsement. At this point, just tell them the title of the book and the date you expect to be able to send it to them for review.
  • If you DON’T know the person, make the initial letter only slightly longer. Open by telling them who you are and why you are writing to them, specifically, i.e. you cited them in your book; you admire their work in their field and it is closely aligned with the topic of your book, etc. Then, ask permission to send the manuscript to them.
  • Give your potential endorsers a brief (one or two sentences) description of the book. Never, EVER use ‘sales language’ or hyped up words like ‘life-changing’, ‘amazing’, etc. Just tell them what the book is about.
  • Always assure your potential endorsers that they do NOT have to read the entire book.
  • Assure them that 1 or 2 lines of ‘blurb’ is perfectly fine. We are not asking them to write a review.
  • Assure them that their name, (one) book title and link to their website will be guaranteed to go into the front pages of your print book (I tend not to include them in eBooks)
  • Let them know that 3 of the most compelling endorsements will go on the back cover, and the most compelling will go on the front cover. Of course, you and your cover designer have to be ok with doing this before making that promise.
  • Assure them you will include these endorsements in promo materials you will be sending to radio shows, etc. (you never know; their book titles might catch someone’s attention).
  • Assure them you will post their endorsements WITH their web link on the book page of your website. This gives them a back link and more free promo.
  • Assure them you will give them a month to look at your book and get their blurb back to you.
  • Assure them that it’s ok to say no.

Below is some advice from author Erica Tucci, who has been very successful at getting many relevant and well-known endorsers for her books, including her upcoming book Radiant Survivor. I thought you might enjoy reading what she had to share. Erica suggests sending a sample chapter to people on first contact. That’s not normally something I recommend, but it seems to have worked for her:

To obtain endorsements for your book, find people who have a shared interest in its subject matter. For example, do you quote a potential endorser in your book? Or have they experienced a similar situation as your own? I quoted several passages from Dr. Nancy Qualls Corbett’s (a Jungian psychotherapist) book in my novel Anything is Possible, and thus she gave me a wonderful endorsement.

Most recently for my book Radiant Survivor: How to Shine and Thrive through Recovery from Stroke, Cancer, Abuse, Addiction and Other Life-Altering Experiences, I was able to obtain agreements to endorse my book from Kevin Sorbo (aka Hercules) and Dr. Bernie Siegel, an internationally renowned physician. Kevin had several strokes in his late 30s so he understood my story since he had “been there, done that.” Bernie, as Dr. Siegel prefers to be called, has authored many books on healing and is an expert in complementary and holistic medicine, so perhaps he felt that my book fell in the same category as his, at some level.

When you contact potential endorsers, send them the intro and a chapter or two of your book for their perusal. Then send the complete manuscript if they request it. Ask them politely to please return their endorsement within a certain time frame.  Also, it’s important to make them feel like they want to give you their endorsement. Tell them that you love the work that they do. Maybe you have quoted them. Appeal to their altruistic side. That you have had a similar experience as they have had, or that you have read their books, and that you would love to have their endorsement as a testament to the benefits of reading your book. If they too are authors, as Kevin and Bernie both are, they will understand how important endorsements are…Although I feel that it was more their graciousness that led them to agree to giving me endorsements. And I am very grateful for them being willing to do so!

ENDORSEMENT TIP: Sometimes very ‘busy’ endorsers will ask YOU to write the endorsement for them. That might seem a bit disingenuous, but it happens all the time. If fact, it’s probably more common than uncommon when you are requesting endorsements from bigger names. If one of your endorsers asks you to do this, don’t panic or be offended. Think about who THEY are and what their message is. Then, in two sentences, try to think what they would say about your book from their perspective. Try to include the ‘money shot’ in it, where there are two or three words that can be extracted and used on their own.

Then, send this suggested ‘blurb’ to your endorser and ask them to tweak it to make it their own. If they’re truly the right endorsers for your book, you will get back something personalised and genuine that can also be promotional gold-dust for you.

That’s it for today…

We’ve covered a lot of ground today. Hopefully you gained some useful information from it. Next time in Part 4, we’ll be looking at:

  • Must-Do #9: Creating effective back cover, back pages and META copy for your book
  • Must-Do #10: Final stages: formatting, uploading and ordering your proof

Closing Thoughts

I hope these articles are helping you get more excited and more confident about self-publishing. I’d really like to know what you’ve most gained from the information I’ve shared, so PLEASE share your feedback (or questions) in the comments box below.

And be sure to subscribe to this blog to make sure you receive Part 4 of this series, plus all our Spirit Authors articles.

AND LASTLY, if you’re looking for personal help in your self-publishing and book marketing journey, have a look at our Hire Us page to read about our services. Then, if you’re interested in speaking about working together, drop me a line via the contact form on this site and we can set up a 30-minute consultation to discuss your needs.

Lynn Serafinn

10th July 2013

 

NOW You Can Get The Spirit Authors Blog

Delivered Directly to Your Kindle!

Now you can have access to the latest tips in writing, publishing and book marketing everywhere you go. Get our Spirit Authors articles delivered 1-2 times a week directly to your Kindle for only 99 cents a month (77pUK). Instead of reading someone else’s book on your way to work, get information on how to make your OWN book a success.

Take a 14-day free trial at:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/ZlW7HT

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/131495j

Join us on the Spirit Authors Page on Facebook

Connect with us on Twitter.


LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She was recently named one of the Top 100 marketing authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was selected as a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. Her eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Through her company Spirit Authors, her marketing campaigns have  produced a long list of bestselling self-help and mind-body-spirit authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project, a budding social enterprise whose aim is to help grow a new generation of passionate entrepreneurs who want to serve both people and planet through innovative, ethical, independent enterprise.

 

Twitter:

@LynnSerafinn @SpiritAuthors @7GracesMarketng @GardenOfTheSoul

Facebook:

LynnSerafinn SpiritAuthors 7GracesOfMarketing 7 Graces Global Garden (group)

Print-on-demand has made self-publishing affordable, but many authors find the process overwhelming. Lynn Serafinn explains how to get your book set up properly. Part 2 of a 4-part series ‘Self-Publishing – a 10-Point Must-Do Checklist for Authors’.

Last week in Part 1 of this 4-part series, we looked at the first five items on our 10-point self-publishing checklist. We talked about the importance of choosing the right title and subtitle, finding a professional editor and proofreader and finding a highly recommended book cover designer. We also talked about creating a publishing company and how to get your ISBNs for your book.

If you haven’t had a chance to read that article yet, you can do so by clicking HERE.

As I wanted to go into detail, I’ve decided to break the next five points into three separate articles (a total of four altogether). So today, in Part 2, we’re going to be looking at the nitty-gritty of getting your book ready for publication, as we go through the next item on our checklist, which is:

Setting up your title, prices and categories with your print-on-demand company

So, if you’re ready, let’s get started.

Must-Do #6: Setting Up Your Title, Prices and Categories with a POD Company

OVERVIEW

Back in the old days, if you wanted to publish your own book, you had to get a large quantity printed in advance. This was because the price to set up the printing plates was expensive, and unless you bought around 2000 copies of the book, the price per unit would never absorb the set-up charges. Of course, this is perfectly fine if you have the distribution channels or enough live speaking engagements to ensure you can sell 2000 copies of your book before they get dusty, faded, old-looking or out-of-date. But if you’re like most new authors, you don’t have the capability of shifting 2000 units quickly, and you are likely to end up with boxes of unmovable stock. Thus, what looked like a good deal at the time ends up being a big financial loss. It’s also not exactly environmentally friendly to print thousands of books that will only end up being recycled into pulp in a few years’ time.

But now, with the dawn of digital printing, the cost of set-up is radically reduced, and we also have the ability to order our books on a ‘print on demand’ basis (POD). POD means exactly what it says: your printer can now print ONE book at a time for you, meaning there is no surplus to deal with (unless you happen to over order) and no need to run yourself into debt by having to order massive quantities.

The company I use and recommend to my clients is Lightning Source (http://lightningsource.com), which I’ll abbreviate as LSI. LSI is a print-on-demand company that has global distribution. When you set up an account with them, your book goes into all the major distribution channels, including all the Amazon sites, Barnes & Noble, Ingram and Baker & Taylor. What this means is, all you need to do is publish your book through LSI’s distribution channel and they take care of telling retailers and distributors about your book, and fulfilling any orders that come through. You, as the publisher, are able to place your own orders if you want, paying only for printing and shipping costs. Unlike subsidiary presses (see Part 1 of this article series), LSI do not take ANY publisher compensation (i.e., royalties) from you. Apart from very nominal set-up charges in the beginning (I think it’s around $40 per title) they will only charge you for printing and shipping.

Some people shy away from LSI for two reasons: 1) they can’t navigate through their (admittedly) confusing website and 2) they’ve heard horror stories about their books being labelled as ‘out of stock’ on Amazon when they go through LSI. Please trust me when I tell you that both of these fears are down to people not understanding how the system works:

  • Yes, LSI’s website IS confusing when you first see it, but if you have a good Client Services Rep, he or she should be able to help you through it. They also have a live chat help desk open during business hours. Also, once your account is set up and you get used to the idiosyncrasies of their website, it’s really simple to use. Besides, my rep tells me they are well aware of the unwieldiness of their website, and they have plans to revamp it and make it more user friendly.
  • The whole issue with ‘being listed as out of stock’ on Amazon is a NON-issue. If your book is ‘print on demand,’ it WON’T be ‘in stock’ until Amazon orders some books. The way to get around this is to order one or two yourself. Within two weeks this listing will go away, as Amazon will have made an order for your book. After that, if they run out, it will say ‘temporarily out of stock; more on the way’ just the same as they would for any other book. See my earlier article ‘How to Kick-Start Your Book Sales – Part 2’ for more information about this.

SETTING UP YOUR ACCOUNT

LSI is a business-to-business company. They assume you are a publisher, not an author. Therefore, LSI assume you already have ISBN numbers associated with your publishing company, and they will ask you for a sample of one of your ISBNs when you register. So, make sure you have already received your ISBNs (see Part 1 of this article series) before you try to set up your LSI account.

When setting up, be sure you select ‘POD Direct Distribution’ rather than the ‘print to publisher’ option. This gives LSI permission to distribute your titles to anyone in their distribution chain. You will need to sign several documents that give them permission for this. There will be a different contract for each country in which you give them permission to distribute: US, UK, Australia and Europe. LSI can also do eBook distribution for you, but bear in mind that this does NOT include Kindle, as this is a proprietary format that you can only arrange directly with Amazon (we’ll look at this in Part 3 of this article series).

SETTING UP YOUR TITLE

Once your account has been set up, you can set up your first title. You CAN (and should) do this before your book is ready to be published because you’ll probably want to go back in and change things before you finally submit it to LSI’s system. Set up the title of your first book, along with its ISBN, and set a date in the future as its publication date (LSI will ask you whether you’re sure this ‘future’ date is what you intended; just say it’s ok and continue).

After setting up your title, you’ll need to define several details:

  • Retail price of your book
  • The wholesale discount
  • Your book’s categories
  • Your book’s description, also called the ‘Meta’

The ‘meta’ is something we’ll look at in Part 4. Right now, let’s just look at price, discount and categories.

SETTING YOUR RETAIL PRICE

(this section discusses pricing for your PRINT book; pricing for eBooks and Kindle will be addressed in Part 4).

Setting your price is partially down to the length of your book, as well as whether it is fiction or non-fiction. The general opinion amongst publishers is that non-fiction books can be priced slightly higher than fiction. My area of expertise is in non-fiction books, so what I will share here is based mainly upon the assumption you are a non-fiction author.

Let’s say your book is 80,000 words in length. At roughly 300 words per page, and allowing for front and back pages (which we’ll talk about in the next article), that would end up being about 275 pages long in a typical 5’ X 8’ or 6’ X 9’ book. Your printing charge from LSI would be $4.47 USD per unit ($0.013 per page plus $1 for cover/assembly). Typically I recommend setting a retail price of approximately four times the cost of your printing, which in this case would be $17.95. You could set the price slightly higher, of course, but you have to think of the average price point for the customer. Setting a price of $19.95 might make you more money per unit, but if it ‘feels’ too high to customers, they might opt for a different book. Of course, if your book is a book about business (where people how to profit from it), paying a few dollars more is not always the deal breaker if the content is unique and highly recommended by other readers.

UK readers: LSI’s printing costs in GBP are 1p per page plus 70p for cover/assembly. Thus the above book would cost you £3.45 per unit to print. Using the same logic, your suggested retail price would be about £14.95.

PRICING FOR DIFFERENT COUNTRIES

You will need to set up your prices for EVERY country in which you have signed a contract to sell through LSI. To do this, use an online currency converter to calculate the current exchange rate, and then round it UP to the nearest unit to allow for market fluctuation. One converter I use frequently is located at http://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/. After you do your conversion, be sure to make the price something like £14.95 rather than £15.

SETTING YOUR WHOLESALE DISCOUNT

Sticking with our suggested retail price of $17.95, we now have to set up our ‘wholesale discount’. Our wholesale discount is a percentage OFF the retail price we agree to give to wholesalers and distributors. A wholesaler who buys the book at this discount would then sell the book to retail shops for a small mark-up, and then the retailers will sell the book at or near the retail price you have set.

I typically suggest self-publishers set their discount to either 45% or 50% (some big publishers will even offer a 55% discount). This means that if your book retails at $17.95, a wholesaler will buy it for $8.98 (if you set a 50% discount) or $9.87 (if you set a 45% discount). You will receive this amount MINUS the cost of printing. The final figure is the ‘publisher compensation’ (or ‘royalties’) you will receive.

If we do the math, this means that you, the publisher, will make the following royalty/compensation per each book sold:

USD: 275 page book at $17.95 retail sold at 45% discount = $5.40 royalty per unit sold

USD: 275 page book at $17.95 retail sold at 50% discount = $4.51 royalty per unit sold

GBP: 275 page book at £14.95 retail sold at 45% discount = £4.77 royalty per unit sold

GBP: 275 page book at £14.95 retail sold at 50% discount = £4.02 royalty per unit sold

ABOUT AMAZON

Amazon, although technically a retailer, purchases your books at your wholesale rate. This gives them a tremendous competitive advantage in that they can discount the price of your book significantly, to make it look more attractive to customers. Be assured that if Amazon or any other company that sells your book for LESS than the retail price, it does NOT impact your royalties in any way. They could choose to sell it for 1 cent more than what they bought it for, and you would STILL get the publisher compensation as above.

DON’T GET GREEDY

Some book marketers will tell you to set your wholesale compensation to 20% discount, giving you maximum publisher compensation per unit. But I believe this is foolhardy advice. You have to consider the motivation of the retailer. I was a retailer for over 20 years, and I can assure you if an item did not have a good mark-up I simply wouldn’t buy it. A mark-up of 20% is not enough of an incentive for me to stock an item because a) it forces me to sell it at full retail price, which puts off my customers and b) it means I can’t mark it down to sell it quickly if it’s unpopular.

Try to understand the whole distribution chain and offer your retailers and wholesalers a mark-up that is attractive both to them and to their customers. Never set your wholesale discount to less than a 45%.

SETTING YOUR CATEGORIES

The last thing you’ll need to do at this point is decide in which three categories your book should be placed. LSI uses ‘BIC’ categories (‘Book Industry Communication’). These are standard throughout the industry. Your BIC category placement is vital. Don’t go for broad, general, top level categories. For example, ‘Business & Economics’ is a top level category. There are thousands of business books on the market, and placing your book in this category doesn’t tell the retailer or the customer enough about your book. It will also put you in competition with blockbuster titles, which gives you no advantage at all.

You can choose three BIC classifications for your book. Choose subcategories that best define your book to both retailers and customers. You even might think of having two of your subcategories under one top level category, and one subcategory under a different top level.

One word of warning: For some mad reason, although BIC is supposed to be standard, most retailers have their OWN categories that are not the same as BIC categories. Let’s take a brief look at how this impacts your listing on Amazon.

AMAZON CATEGORIES

Amazon sets your categories based upon the BIC categories you set in LSI. However, sometimes they get it ‘wrong’ and interpret your categories weirdly. If you feel you’ve got the BIC categories ‘right’ but Amazon gets your category placement very ‘wrong’, you can always contact Author Central on Amazon and ask them to fix it. However, as Amazon will not allow you to set up an Author Central account until you actually have a book PUBLISHED with them, it means you might need to go through a month or so of ironing out the ‘kinks’ if this is your first book. This is another good reason to ‘Kick-Start Your Book Sales’ (click the link to read my previous article on this).

Also bear in mind also that EVERY Amazon site (US, UK, Canada, etc.) has different categories and subcategories. This can be terribly frustrating for an author/publisher. I’m really not sure why they don’t standardise it, but that’s the way it is. So be mindful that while you might be appearing on the perfect categories on one site, you might not on another. If that’s the case, contact them through Author Central.

Lastly (and to make things even more confusing), your categories for the Kindle edition of your book will be DIFFERENT yet again, and will need to be set via Kindle Direct Publishing, which is something we’ll discuss in Part 4 of this series.

Ok, that’s it for Part 2. Next time, in Part 3, we’ll be looking at:

Then finally, in Part 4, we’ll be looking at:

  • Must-Do #9: Creating effective back cover, back pages and META copy for your book
  • Must-Do #10: Final stages: formatting, uploading and ordering your proof

Closing Thoughts

I hope this information has been useful to you. I know navigating through the quagmire of self-publishing ‘must-do’s’ can be extremely daunting when you’re a first-time self-publisher, but please believe me when I say it gets easier. I could have made this article shorter and less detailed, but I get asked these same questions SO many times, I thought I’d put it all in writing for you.

Please do let me know what you think by leaving a comment below. And don’t leave without subscribing to this blog if you’re keen to receive the rest of this series, plus all our Spirit Authors articles.

AND, of course, if you’re looking for personal help in your self-publishing and book marketing journey, have a look at our Hire Us page to read about our services. Then, if you’re interested in speaking about working together, drop me a line via the contact form on this site and we can set up a 30-minute consultation to discuss your needs.

Lynn Serafinn
4 July 2013


NOW You Can Get The Spirit Authors Blog
Delivered Directly to Your Kindle!

Now you can have access to the latest tips in writing, publishing and book marketing everywhere you go. Get our Spirit Authors articles delivered 1-2 times a week directly to your Kindle for only 99 cents a month (77pUK). Instead of reading someone else’s book on your way to work, get information on how to make your OWN book a success.

Take a 14-day free trial at:
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/ZlW7HT
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/131495j

Join us on the Spirit Authors Page on Facebook
Connect with us on Twitter.


LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She was recently named one of the Top 100 marketing authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was selected as a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. Her eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Through her company Spirit Authors, her marketing campaigns have  produced a long list of bestselling self-help and mind-body-spirit authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project, a budding social enterprise whose aim is to help grow a new generation of passionate entrepreneurs who want to serve both people and planet through innovative, ethical, independent enterprise.

Twitter:
@LynnSerafinn @SpiritAuthors @7GracesMarketng @GardenOfTheSoul

Facebook:

LynnSerafinn SpiritAuthors 7GracesOfMarketing 7 Graces Global Garden (group)

Part 1 in a 4-part series of top tips on how to make your self-published book look like it’s been published with a major publisher. From book coach and marketer, Lynn Serafinn.

If you read this blog regularly, you’ll know I’m a huge believer in self-publishing. Far from making an author a ‘second-class citizen’, I believe self-publishing has many advantages over going with a publisher or a subsidiary press like Create Space, Balboa Press or iUniverse. The three main advantages of self-publishing over these other options are:

  1. You make far more money on each unit sold when you go 100% self-published. Most publishers pay between 7%-12% of retail in royalties. Subsidiary presses typically pay 50% of net. With self-publishing, you earn 100% of net. For example, if you had a 250-page book that retailed at $20, you would make about $2 from a publisher, $2.50 from a subsidiary press and $5.50 (or more) if you went the self-publishing route. Of course, the actual figures would depend upon the cost of printing (I have estimated $4.50 per unit) and the wholesale discount at which you offered the book to retailers (I have used a typical rate of 50%).
  2. Self-publishing gives you 100% artistic freedom. While subsidiary presses don’t generally interfere with your artistic process, they also don’t tend to offer a whole lot either. Publishers can provide a lot of artistic input, but they can also take control of it. If you go self-published and hire the right designers and editors (or maybe even a self-publishing adviser) for your production team, you can produce something you feel is truly ‘yours’.  It also permits you to be in complete control of the dates for your book launch and to drive the image/brand behind it.
  3. Self-publishing also gives you the potential for growth. Your publishing enterprise could turn into an actual business with time. You will have the flexibility of negotiating wholesale deals with shops, entering publisher contests and maybe even bringing other authors into your company. While that’s not something that may be on your mind when you are publishing your first book, it at least leaves the door open to possibilities.

While that all might sound great, many authors face three major obstacles when attempting to self-publish:

  1. They don’t know how to self-publish a book AND
  2. Because they don’t know how to do it, they tend to do it badly AND
  3. Even if they do it ‘right’ they don’t know how to market their book

As I focus a lot of my blog posts on the art of book marketing, I thought it would good to devote some time looking at the first of these two obstacles. So, over the next two articles, I’ll be walking you through some of the basic ‘must do’ items on your self-publishing checklist, along with tips on how to do it right so your book doesn’t end up looking self-published.

As there’s so much to cover, I’m breaking this 10-point list into four articles (links to the others are at the end of this article). Today, we’ll be looking at points 1 – 5 on the checklist, as these are the ones you will need to address earliest in the process.

NOTE: While most of my articles address the specific needs of non-fiction authors, most of this information is equally applicable for writers of fiction books.

Must-Do #1: Choose Your Title and Subtitle METICULOUSLY

I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a great title for your book. In the case of non-fiction authors, the subtitle is equally (and sometimes even more) important as the title. Your title is the ‘hook’ that will make people remember your book in the plethora of others on the market. Your subtitle is the ‘promise’ you will bring to the reader.

I routinely help my clients craft winning titles and subtitles for their non-fiction books. I shared some of my tips in a recent article called ‘How to Choose the Perfect Title for Your Non-Fiction Book’. Rather than repeat the information here, I recommend giving it a read.

When to do this: If your title just isn’t working for you, try to work with someone who can help you craft it. Your title and sub-title can be a great asset to you during the WRITING process as it can help you find focus. At the very least, you should ensure you have your title finalised a good 5 months before your projected publication date, so you can begin pre-publication marketing.

Must-Do #2: Find a Highly-Recommended Professional Editor and Proofreader

Too many authors neglect this crucial step in their publishing. No matter how good a writer you are, a good editor and proofreader is vital to keeping your book from looking and reading like a typical ‘self-published’ book. In fact, it’s the lack of good editing that has often given self-publishing a bad rap.

My tips on finding and working with an editor/proofreader are:

  • Don’t say you can’t afford one. The truth is you can’t afford NOT to have one.
  • Never leave it to the last minute. Good editors have a full roster of clients. Book your time with one well in advance. Make sure they are free during the time you need them.
  • Choose an editor who comes highly recommended by an author you trust. Please make sure to choose someone who edits whole BOOKS and not just short copy (web copy, articles, etc). Book editors are experienced in looking for continuity and flow, which is what you need.
  • Be sure to allot enough time for edits to turn around. Many authors underestimate how long the editing process will take. You should allow about one month for an editor to send you their initial edits. Then, you will need to incorporate those edits and suggested changes into the manuscript, which might take you up to a month depending upon how complex the edits are and how much time you have in your daily schedule to work on them. Finally, you’ll need to send this editing manuscript back to your editor (or a separate proofreader) for a final edit and proofread. This might take another month. So, altogether, you should be SURE to allot a good 3 months for the whole process. (I’ll be talking more about this in part 2).

When to do this: Find your editor while you are still writing your first draft, hopefully a good two months BEFORE you need them to do their first edit. Then, be sure to send them your manuscript for the first edit at least 5-6 months before your projected publication date.

Must-Do #3: Find a Highly-Recommended Cover Designer

Again, many self-published authors tend to skimp on this step, saying they cannot ‘afford’ a professional designer for their book. Some succumb to marketing pressure from their subsidiary press, and they use in-house designers. In my experience, these designers produce really sub-standard work that does NOT express the heart and soul of your book, primarily because they don’t know you and are working from a brief. If you really want to have a self-published book that looks professional, you WILL need to spend some money on a professional designer.

My tips on finding and working with a designer are:

  • The same as the above tips for finding and working with an editor. Please don’t find a designer on eLance or any other budget site. Ask around on social networks for referrals to find designers who come recommended by people you trust.
  • Don’t be tempted to go DIY. Do not do the cover yourself or ask a friend to do it UNLESS you/they are skilled designers.
  • Don’t use a generic designer. By ‘generic’ I mean those who work in-house for subsidiary presses. Hire an independent designer who will meet with you, discuss your brief, and be willing to work closely with you to create something unique.
  • Don’t allow your designer to use stock images. Stock images might be ok if you’re making a small (under 20,000 word) Kindle eBook, but not if you’re publishing a full-length book. Hire someone who can make original artwork.
  • Don’t put your own photo on the front cover. Unless you are a famous author, speaker or celebrity, your photo does NOT belong on the front cover. Save it for the back cover in the author bio.
  • Ask to see examples of their work. Like any artist, every designer has a different style. They might be the best designer in the world, but they might not be right for your book. Ask to look at examples of other book covers your designer has made and choose the one that most closely matches the feel of your book.
  • Have a CLEAR idea of what you want. Designers aren’t mind-readers. Don’t assume they’ll know what is perfect for your book without you giving them some idea about what you want. Come up with some concepts and colour schemes that you think match your book. If you can make a mock up in Photoshop or a rough sketch to give the designer an idea, that’s even better.
  • Get a fixed price on the project. I recommend negotiating a fixed price in advance with your designer rather than agreeing to pay by the hour. Hourly rates put pressure on both you and the designer. Agree on a fixed price AND make sure that this covers a specific number of drafts/edits as well as the back cover design (if you are doing a print version of your book).
  • Don’t be afraid to say you don’t like it. A lot of authors I meet hold back from giving feedback to their designers. They don’t like their cover, but they also don’t like ‘conflict’ AND they’re afraid of spending more money (especially if they’re paying by the hour). By not speaking up, you’re going to end up with a cover you really can’t stand, but feel you are ‘stuck’ with. Don’t let this happen.

When to do this: Try to get your FRONT cover made 5-6 months before your projected publication date. The sooner you have your front cover finalised, the sooner you can start creating the ‘buzz’ for your book so people know it will be coming out soon. The back cover can come later, about 3 months before projected publication date. In fact, I recommend LEAVING the back cover until you have the final draft of your book done, so you know your back cover copy matches what’s inside the book.

Must-Do #4: Create a Publishing Company

Depending upon where you live, starting a publishing company is often as easy as making up a name for your publishing house. If you are already self-employed, this can just be another enterprise under your personal name. It doesn’t necessarily have to be ‘officially’ registered as a company.

In choosing a name for your publishing company, choose one that goes beyond the message of your current book, and expresses the message of potential future books. What is the theme of your over-arching message? Where do you see yourself going as an author?

You DON’T necessarily have to come up with a logo for your company, but it’s a nice touch if you do. You may or may not use the same designer you use for your cover. Crafting good logos is a separate skill set. Again, unless you are a graphic designer with logo experience, please don’t attempt to do this on your own.

When to do this: As all of the above, set up your company 5-6 months before your projected publication date. You can make your logo later (if you intend to create one) but make sure it is complete before your designer makes the back cover/spine of your print book (as this is where the logo typically goes) or your layout designer does the layout for the interior (covered in the next article)

Must-Do #5: Get Your ISBN Numbers

Once you have established your publishing company, it’s time to get a batch of ISBN numbers.  ISBN stands for ‘International Standard Book Number’. An ISBN is a thirteen-digit number assigned to every book before publication. Furthermore, you are REQUIRED to use a different ISBN for every format of the book you publish. In other words, if you intend to print a paperback, a hardback and ONE version of eBook of the same book, you’ll need 3 different ISBNs. Many authors don’t realise that you will require a different ISBN for each format in which you publish your eBook (i.e., Smashwords, Kobe, PDF, Kindle, etc). While Smashwords and Kindle can assign you an ISBN, remember that technically they’re the ‘publisher’ if they do so. This doesn’t matter so much on Amazon, as Kindle is a proprietary format, but I do recommend using your own ISBN for other eBook publishing formats.

If you publish a new edition of your book, you will also need a new ISBN. This is not necessary if you are simply making minor changes/edits to your book (you can call that a ‘2nd printing’ rather than a ‘2nd edition’) but if a book has been changed substantially enough to be considered a different edition, you will need to use a new ISBN to distinguish it from the old one.

ISBNs are always associated with the publishing company. Something you might not realise is that if you go with a subsidiary press and have them assign your ISBN, THEY are technically the publisher, not you. This does not infringe on your copyright as an author, but it does limit your ability as a publisher.

The organisations that assign ISBNs are different for each country. Below are the agencies for the US and the UK. If you are in a different country, you can find your ISBN agency by doing a Google search for “ISBN in [name of your country]”.

Some ISBN providers require that you purchase a minimum of 10 ISBNs at a time. I recommend doing this because you’ll go through them more quickly than you might think, especially if you are a prolific writer and you are publishing in multiple formats.

When to do this: Again, do this 5-6 months before your projected publication date. If you are a first-time author who is just setting up your publishing company, you might have some paperwork to fill in, so allow a few hours for this. After you request your first batch of ISBNs, it can take up to 10 working days for you to receive them (although one of my clients received hers within 2 days).

NEXT TIME…

In Part 2 of this 4-part series, we’ll look at:

  • Must-Do #6: Setting up your title with your print-on-demand company (including setting your price & book categories)

Then, in  in Part 3 and Part 4, we’ll be looking at:

Do be sure to subscribe to this blog so you’ll receive that article, plus all our future articles on writing, publishing and book marketing.

I hope you found this article useful. As always, I welcome your comments and feedback below.

AND, of course, if you’re looking for personal help in your self-publishing and book marketing journey, have a look at our Hire Us page to read about our services. Then, if you’re interested in speaking about working together, drop me a line via the contact form on this site and we can set up a 30-minute consultation to discuss your needs.

Lynn Serafinn
26th May 2013


NOW You Can Get The Spirit Authors Blog
Delivered Directly to Your Kindle!

Now you can have access to the latest tips in writing, publishing and book marketing everywhere you go. Get our Spirit Authors articles delivered 1-2 times a week directly to your Kindle for only 99 cents a month (77pUK). Instead of reading someone else’s book on your way to work, get information on how to make your OWN book a success.

Take a 14-day free trial at:
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/ZlW7HT
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/131495j

Join us on the Spirit Authors Page on Facebook
Connect with us on Twitter.


LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She was recently named one of the Top 100 marketing authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was selected as a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. Her eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Through her company Spirit Authors, her marketing campaigns have  produced a long list of bestselling self-help and mind-body-spirit authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project, a budding social enterprise whose aim is to help grow a new generation of passionate entrepreneurs who want to serve both people and planet through innovative, ethical, independent enterprise.

Twitter:
@LynnSerafinn @SpiritAuthors @7GracesMarketng @GardenOfTheSoul

Facebook:

LynnSerafinn SpiritAuthors 7GracesOfMarketing 7 Graces Global Garden (group)

Guest blogger Nancy Goodyear Virtual Assistant shares tips for writing articles that will make your audience sit up and take notice of what you have to say. 


As a Virtual Assistant, I help independent business owners build their social media presence. The biggest part of what I do is proofreading blog articles. I always approach proofreading as a reader, so I don’t just look for typos, but for readability. I read the article aloud to myself to see how the words flow, how they sound and, most importantly, so I can hear if the article makes sense.

In my work with clients, I have noticed that many new bloggers tend to make the same mistakes. For that reason, I’d like to share my top 7 tips for writing blog articles that are informative and easy to read.

TIP 1: Know WHO you are writing for

Although this may seem self-evident, you must always remember that you are writing for someone else—your reader! But this is often all too easy to forget when you are absorbed in getting your idea down on paper.

Before you start writing, ask yourself Who is my reader? They’re probably your customers or potential customers. They’re probably people who share similar beliefs and values to you. Or, they might be people who are simply curious and want to know more about you and what you stand for.

If you know who your reader is, it will be easier to imagine them as you write. If you find it difficult to think of them as a group, you might find it easier to imagine a single reader and write just for that person.

TIP 2: Know WHAT you are writing about

Be really clear what you want to tell your reader. What do you want them to learn from this article? If you don’t pin this down before you start writing, your article will be vague, and is likely to go off on tangents and be hard for your reader to follow.

Take the time to plan your article so you know it will do its job when it’s done. Once you know the message of the article – STICK TO THE POINT! If you find yourself straying off the point but you don’t feel you want to delete the tangent and move on, save the subject of your tangent for a future article.

Also, consider the impact you want your article to have on your reader. Do you want to make them think about something in a different way? Do you want to make them angry about some injustice in the world? Or do you want to warm their hearts and make them smile. Again, if you know the answer to these questions before you start, it will flavour your article as you write it and you will be able to assess whether you have achieved that when the article is finished.

TIP 3: Remember that your reader is NOT a mind reader

You might know your subject matter inside-out and back-to-front, but remember that your readers probably do NOT share your same insight. They don’t necessarily know you personally so they don’t know what you think or feel. They don’t share your experiences or knowledge or even your opinions about your subject. And yet, it’s really easy to make intellectual leaps without realising it, leaving your poor reader wondering whether they’ve missed something. In the worst cases, you’ll leave the reader not being able to understand the most crucial point of your article, because you assumed they ‘got’ what you meant without really explaining it.

This is when having someone else proofread your articles come in handy. An objective reader is in a much better position to see what needs further explanation and what doesn’t.

If you have an international audience, also consider the examples you give. I recently proofread an article that referred to American TV networks and TV programmes. As a Brit, I didn’t have a clue what they meant. The author of the post was American and hadn’t realised the names wouldn’t mean anything at all to a UK audience.

The same applies to acronyms and jargon that is specific to your field. Don’t assume your average reader will know what they mean. At the very least write acronyms out in full the first time you use them. And simply try to avoid using jargon. Jargon could be specific technical words or words that are in everyday use that are used in a different way in your field.

NB: if something needs explanation and the explanation doesn’t seem relevant to the article, then consider the possibility that the point is actually an unnecessary tangent and remove it.

TIP 4: Don’t make your reader WORK too hard

It is important to use sentences that flow nicely, which are neither too long nor too short.

Sentences that are too short are choppy and unsettling. There is no flow to the article and it can be hard to see how one sentence links to the next.

On the other hand, very long sentences can be incredibly confusing for your reader. If you use too many sub clauses (phrases between commas that explain what came before), or too many brackets, or too many lists (like I’m doing here) it can be really hard for your reader to follow the thread of the sentence. Sometimes when I’m proofreading, in order to understand the basic message of the sentence, I have to read it leaving out all the extra bits so I can see what the sentence is actually saying.

You might feel that all of these extra bits and pieces are necessary to make sure your reader has all the information they need in order to understand the article, but this information will be lost if it is presented in such a way that the poor reader has to concentrate hard just to piece it all together.

Making your readers work too hard will backfire on you, as they will probably give up before reaching the end of your article, and will be unlikely to return to your site another day.

TIP 5: Have the COURAGE of your convictions

As the author of a blog article, you are the teacher teaching the message of your article. As the teacher it’s up to you what you put in and what you leave out. You need to decide what is essential to this article for this audience at this time and what can be left out or saved for a follow up article.

Too often, people try to get everything into their articles and end up with long lists of examples, lots of explanatory sub-clauses, lots of tangents and too many either/or’s. You can over-explain for fear of leaving something out or offending someone or being challenged on what you’re saying. If you fall into this trap, you run the risk of seeming uncertain of your message and you will certainly dilute the power of your message by making it too hard for your reader to follow it.

The antidote to this is to practice the Grace of DIRECTNESS (from Lynn Serafinn’s book The 7 Graces of Marketing). A good exercise, if you have this tendency, is to decide what you want to say and say it by the most direct route, that is in the fewest possible words. It will probably look very bare and blunt but you can flesh it out later with adjectives and explanation where it’s needed in order to make it flow.

TIP 6: Be Mindful of the Impact of Your PRONOUNS

This is a subtle one. Perhaps you want to write an article that challenges the way your reader thinks or what they believe. There’s nothing wrong with this. But sometimes your choice of pronoun can create the impression you are accusing or attacking your readers, or making them ‘wrong ‘. For example, if you use the pronoun ‘you’ you are removing yourself from the sentence. In doing so, you can sound accusatory, i.e., ‘You are wrong, I am right ‘.

On the other hand, if you use the pronoun ‘we’ you are including yourself in the sentence. Sometimes, this can sound a bit too cosy or can even be inappropriate if you are not actually part of the group you are talking about. There’s nothing wrong with saying something like ‘We’re in this together’ if you are talking about ‘we, the human race’. But if you are, for example, a man talking specifically about women’s experiences, saying ‘we’ is inappropriate and perhaps even a bit patronising.

If you use the pronoun ‘I’ you are excluding your audience and it can sound too personal and confessional if you’re not careful. It’s useful if you are sharing a personal anecdote to illustrate a point but can be too much like a rant if you write a whole article about something like the destruction of the planet entirely from your own perspective.

TIP 7: Inspire with your PASSION

In TIP 2, I carefully avoided suggesting that you might want to inspire your reader with your article. The reason for this is that I believe if you set out to inspire you are likely to fall flat on your face. You will be tempted to use words like ‘amazing ‘, ‘life-changing ‘, ‘awesome ‘ and even  ‘inspirational ‘. You will be tempted to use loads of bold, shouty fonts, and loads of exclamation marks!!!!!!!!

The truth is, if you set out to inspire, it can sound really bossy and fake. Neither of which are particularly inspirational. When you write like this, your reader will think, Yeah, so what?! Stop telling me what to feel, stop telling me how I’m supposed to respond to this article, I’ll make my own mind up, thank you!

You can’t tell someone to be inspired any more than you can tell them to love you. But inspiration itself IS contagious. If you really want to inspire your reader, write about something that inspires you. Let your passion and inspiration shine through your words. Show your readers how YOU are inspired by whatever it is you are writing about. In this way, they are more likely to be ‘infected’ by your inspiration.

Closing Thoughts

The best advice I can give you is this: once you’ve finished writing your article, read it aloud to yourself (or even better get someone else to read it for you). This will tell you:

  • How the words will sound to your reader
  • Whether it is easy to understand
  • Whether there are any bits that need more (or less) explanation
  • Whether you’ve gone off on a tangent
  • Whether you’ve been too wishy-washy and timid in your message
  • Whether it sounds too aggressive or argumentative
  • Whether you have succeeded in saying what you set out to say
  • Whether you have managed to create the impact you intended

I help independent business owners and authors with their blog articles every day of the week. My aim is to get their message out to the right audience through regular blogging and social media, so their businesses and sales can flourish. For this to happen, their blog content must be relevant, understandable and well-received. These 7 tips are essential ingredients to achieve this.

If you would like to explore the many benefits of strategic blogging, I invite you to contact Lynn and me at Spirit Authors to discuss our Platform Builder packages. These are 13-week programmes where we work with you to create an effective blogging strategy for YOUR audience, and support you by doing a lot of the ‘legwork’ to get your articles edited, proofed, published and distributed to your network. To speak to us about our Platform Builder packages, drop us a line via the contact form on this site and we can set up a free 30-minute consultation.

If you have found this article useful, please SHARE it and leave a comment below.

Nancy V Goodyear
5th June 2013

Nancy V Goodyear is Virtual Assistant & Life Coach who loves to help social entrepreneurs and small business owners get organised. With a BA (Hons) in Learning Disability Nursing, she has extensive professional experience working in health & social care within the non-profit sector. She is fluent in French having lived in France for some time. She is a graduate of the Coaches Training Institute and the Co-Active Leadership programme. She is especially enthusiastic about creating and nurturing innovative business relationships and partnerships, both within and between companies and sectors. Her over-riding aim in all her work is to help you create space so you can focus on reconnecting to who you are and how this awareness relates to your business, what you and your business need, and your dreams, passions and desires.

 

 


NOW You Can Get The Spirit Authors Blog
Delivered Directly to Your Kindle!

 

Now you can have access to the latest tips in writing, publishing and book marketing everywhere you go. Get our Spirit Authors articles delivered 1-2 times a week directly to your Kindle for only 99 cents a month (77pUK). Instead of reading someone else’s book on your way to work, get information on how to make your OWN book a success.

Take a 14-day free trial at:
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/ZlW7HT
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/131495j

Join us on the Spirit Authors Page on Facebook
Connect with us on Twitter.


LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She was recently named one of the Top 100 marketing authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was selected as a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. Her eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Through her company Spirit Authors, her marketing campaigns have  produced a long list of bestselling self-help and mind-body-spirit authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project, a budding social enterprise whose aim is to help grow a new generation of passionate entrepreneurs who want to serve both people and planet through innovative, ethical, independent enterprise.

Twitter:
@LynnSerafinn @SpiritAuthors @7GracesMarketng @GardenOfTheSoul

Facebook:

LynnSerafinn SpiritAuthors 7GracesOfMarketing 7 Graces Global Garden (group)

 

http://bit.ly/Pf5mAU
Categories : News, Writing & Editing
Comments (4)

Is there a right and wrong time to hire a marketing consultant? Author and ethical marketing consultant Lynn Serafinn believes so. Today Lynn shares 10 criteria that can help you avoid making a disastrous business decision. 


Recently I’ve been getting a lot of requests for consultations from potential clients, and I have to admit I’ve turned away more clients than I’ve taken on. You might find it surprising to hear that I’m the one doing the turning away considering people are hiring me. After all, aren’t they the ones doing the hiring? Isn’t the client the one who makes the decision of whether or not to hire me?

Well, back when I first started my business…when I was clueless and desperate…that might have been the case. I wanted clients—any clients—so I could pay my bills. But over time, I learned that this open policy worked neither for me nor my client.

These days I have certain criteria that determine whether or not I am willing to take on a client. I’ve found them to be extremely useful in helping me avoid months of frustration on ineffective collaborations. In looking at them, I thought these criteria would be just as useful to anyone who might be considering hiring a marketing consultant, PR or business coach. So I decided I’d share them with you today.

WRONG TIME #1: When you’re just starting out
Since the start of the so-called recession in 2008, more and more of us are entering the world of self-employment. The trouble is, many people who are just starting out may be good at what they do, but have no idea what is involved in planning and running a business. The tendency is to want to run out and hire help in the form of a business coach and/or marketing consultant. In my experience, this is the WRONG time to do this. If your brand and niche are ill-defined, you are apt to choose the wrong consultant, who will lead you in a direction that may not be where you actually want to go. Furthermore, you’ll spend a heck of a lot of money on them that should be spent on other essential start up expenses.

WRONG TIME #2: When you’re clueless
Most new authors are a bit clueless as to what is needed for their business or project. While I don’t mind authors coming to me with little idea about what is involved in a book launch (which is my specialty), I do mind them coming to me clueless about the value of what I offer them. If I have to spend all my time validating my strategies to a client during our sessions together, it holds both of us back.

Clueless people have “UNconscious incompetence”, meaning they don’t know anything but they have no idea what it is that they don’t know. Before you even ask for a consultation from a consultant, take some responsibility and do a little homework. Do some research; attend some webinars; read some books. Become what I call a “conscious incompetent”: someone who KNOWS what it is that they don’t know. Then, you’ll not only be able to choose the right consultant, but you’ll be able to understand what they’re talking about. But most of all, you’ll be able to ask the right questions during your initial meeting.

WRONG TIME #3: When you don’t know what you want
Never enter a client-consultant relationship if you don’t know what you want from it. If you don’t know what you want, you’ll never know if you’ve gained it. The first thing I ask clients when they call me for a consultation is what they WANT from the service they’re asking about. You’d be amazed how many authors who call about a book launch have no idea why they want one, except that it sounds glamorous. Glamour is not measurable. I want to give my clients measurable results. It’s up to you, the client, to know what you want to gain before you enter into that relationship.

WRONG TIME #4: When you have no game plan
It’s equally vital to have a bigger picture in mind before you call a consultant. Where do you see your business going AFTER you end your contract with the consultant? If you’re hiring a marketing consultant for a particular project or product launch, how will this help the business? Where will you take customers after the launch? My MOST successful clients are those who took our work together and created a bigger game plan from it. My least successful clients are those who jumped into a book or product launch and then stopped short, without a clue of their next business step. I try to help my clients with this as much as I can as we work together, but ultimately it is up to them to see this through.

WRONG TIME #5: When you’re desperate
I hate, hate, hate it when a client comes to me and says, “My business was doing great until this year. Now I’m in trouble. I’m hiring you to help me get out of this situation in the next 3 months or I’ll go out of business.” I’ve received such calls on more than one occasion. Some were from long-established companies that had global reputations. I can’t speak for other consultants, but I feel stressed if someone wants me to be their “saviour” or last resort to bring them out of a crisis. There are so many factors that can take a company to breaking point, and pumping up the marketing may NOT be the best solution. Besides, marketing is a long-term process. It’s about relationship building and brand identity. Furthermore, if your company’s really in crisis, you’re going to be panicking (and cursing your consultant) if your marketing campaign doesn’t work. You’d do better to sit down and do some market research with your audience to see what’s going wrong.

WRONG TIME #6: When you’re broke or living on credit
For many of the same reasons as #5, it’s the wrong time to hire a consultant if you’re having serious money problems. And if you’re thinking it’s OK to max out your credit cards to pay your consultant but your current income is barely enabling you to pay off the minimum monthly payments—well, that’s just plain dangerous. While your consultant SHOULD be able to help you increase your revenue in the long-term that does not mean the return on investment will happen before your bills are due. Do not even think of hiring a consultant unless you have some positive cash-flow in your life.

WRONG TIME #7: When you’re not ready to put in the effort
My most successful clients are those who “did their homework” in between sessions. My least successful clients are those who sent their assistants in to do all the work, and they didn’t even dip in to discuss and design strategies with me. A consultant is NOT another “hire”. They are there to help you build strategies for your business, brand or project. If you are not willing to put in the effort, you will not reap the rewards.

WRONG TIME #8: When you lack entrepreneurial spirit
If you’ve only just recently come out of employment and you still have a “regular salary” mentality, you are unlikely to be very comfortable with the financial ups and downs of entrepreneurship. A true entrepreneur understands the value of good, sensible business expenses, whereas a novice just sees everything as costing money. If you lack entrepreneurial spirit, and you do not enjoy the roller coaster ride, you will bring a fearful, restrictive energy into the client-consultant relationship, and hamper the results you get.

WRONG TIME #9: When the consultant doesn’t work within your niche
Make sure your consultant understands your audience AND has connections within your niche. So, it should go without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that YOU need to understand your audience and that you are already established in your niche before you hire a consultant. Some clients come to me to help them crystallise their niche and branding, and that’s OK as long as we are clear that is the task at hand. But if you launch into a marketing project together and there is a mismatch or misunderstanding about what your brand or niche is, you’ll end up wasting a lot of time and money (not to mention finding it a frustrating and stressful experience).

WRONG TIME #10: When no one else works for your company
If you are a small or sole-proprietor business consider hiring a Virtual Assistant (VA) or other support staff before you hire a consultant. Most of these kinds of hires are outsourced. Create systems with them that make your business into an actual business. Then, if and when you do hire a marketing consultant, you’ll have a better idea of your strengths and weaknesses, and you’ll also have a team of people to help implement the work the consultant recommends.

I consider myself to be an ethical marketer. If someone comes to me and I believe it is the “wrong time” to call me, I tell them. I don’t want any old client—I want the RIGHT clients. Some of these probably carry more weight than others, but if a client ticks more than one of these boxes, they are probably not ready to work with me yet.

And you, the client, should also want the right consultant. I hope these “10 wrong times” were useful to you as you shop for one…at the right time. When you do get it right, the relationship between client and consultant can be a dynamic, creative and fulfilling one for both parties.

If you think you’re ready take that step and work actively and strategically with a marketing consultant, drop me a line via the contact form on this site and we can have a chat. If you’re NOT ready, I recommend you check out my books:

Thanks for reading. I’d love to hear your comments and experiences below.

~ Lynn Serafinn

27 February 2013 


If you’re an author needing help with marketing your book, give Lynn Serafinn at Spirit Authors a shout via the CONTACT FORM on this site and we can set up a FREE 30 minutes Skype chat to see if I can help in any way.

AND FINALLY, DON’T FORGET to subscribe to the Spirit Authors blog for more tips on writing, publishing, book promotion and new mind-body-spirit book releases.

NOW You Can Get The Spirit Authors Blog
Delivered Directly to Your Kindle!

 

Now you can have access to the latest tips in writing, publishing and book marketing everywhere you go. Get our Spirit Authors articles delivered 1-2 times a week directly to your Kindle for only 99 cents a month (77pUK). Instead of reading someone else’s book on your way to work, get information on how to make your OWN book a success.

Take a 14-day free trial at:
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/ZlW7HT
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/131495j

Join us on the Spirit Authors Page on Facebook
Connect with us on Twitter.

 


LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She was recently named one of the Top 100 marketing authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was selected as a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. Her eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. In her work as a promotional manager she has produced a long list of bestselling mind-body-spirit authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project, a budding social enterprise whose aim is to help grow a new generation of passionate entrepreneurs who want to serve both people and planet through innovative, ethical, independent enterprise.

Twitter:
@LynnSerafinn @SpiritAuthors @7GracesMarketng @GardenOfTheSoul

Facebook:

LynnSerafinn SpiritAuthors 7GracesOfMarketing 7 Graces Global Garden (group)

 

http://bit.ly/Pf5mAU

Authors may be gifted when it comes to writing books, but lacking when it comes to knowing how to write copy for their website or other promotional materials. Guest author Debra Jason shares her K-I-S-S ideas for writing effective marketing copy.


Want to know how to write compelling copy that’s easy for your prospects and customers to read? KISS them!

While some people equate this acronym with “Keep it simple stupid,” I prefer to use “KEEP IT SIMPLE SWEETHEART!”

Clarity is extremely important in writing marketing content – be it a brochure, blog, direct mail piece or Web site. You want to create a conversation between you and your audience, but how to you do that when you’re not face-to-face?

The difference between conversation and writing is that during a conversation we give the other person time to understand what we’ve said. We pause between sentences, repeat ourselves and space our ideas apart.

The secret of writing is to leave space – create these pauses. In The Art of Plain Talk by Rudolf Flesch, he outlined these 7 helpful steps:

1. Start out with short, simple sentences.
Start your copy with a sentence of 8 words or less. This is the average sentence length in the English language, and it is considered very easy to understand. Here’s a breakdown of how longer sentences are interpreted by your readers:

  • 11 words – easy
  • 14 words – fairly easy
  • 17 words – standard (AVERAGE READER)
  • 21 words – fairly difficult
  • 25 words – difficult
  • 29+ words – very difficult

As Herschell Gordon Lewis said in The Art of Writing Copy, “Clarity has to come first, no matter what you’re writing or to whom.”

2. Two short sentences are easier to read than one long one.
Always try to break long sentences into shorter ones. Sometimes you might even use one-word sentences.

3. The rules of grammar do not always apply in marketing copy.
Lewis also advises, “Copywriters are communicators, not grammarians. What matters isn’t your knowledge of which tense is which; it’s your knowledge of how to transform the lead of drab fact into the gold of lustrous attraction.”

4. Use bullet points.
I often advise my clients to use bullet points. Rather than make your audience plough through a lengthy paragraph, break it up into easy-to-read bullet points. Make the content inviting to the readers eyes!

5. Be personal. Use “you.”
Your reader is a current customer or prospect. So talk to that reader. Avoid mentioning “the client” or “the customer.” Let your prospect know you’re talking directly to him or her, one-on-one. Use the word “you.”

Your readers come first. Write to people not at them. Incorporate a friendly, conversational tone as if your reader were sitting right across the table from you.

In his book, Direct Mail Copy That Sells!, Herschell Gordon Lewis explained, “When you write a letter that says, ‘Only you. . .’, you’ve told the recipient that to you he isn’t a unit, an anonymous number in a computer, a faceless organism with a zip code. . . You also project an attitude of friendliness.”

6. Whenever possible, talk about people, not ideas.
Tests show that we enjoy, and are better readers when, reading about other people more than about anything else. Sentences can be written so that the logical subject is a person. Use personal pronouns (theirs, yours, you) or human interest words (woman, man, child, boy).

7. Use active verb forms that have life in them.
Words like dance, sing, add, run, etc. make your sentences ‘move.’ To see the difference in impact, here are some examples from author Patricia Williams’ Creating and Producing the Perfect Newsletter:

Passive: The lobby was the site of a rally led by Tiger boosters Tuesday.
Active: Tiger boosters led a rally in the lobby Tuesday.
Passive: The basement was flooded with water.
Active: Water flooded the basement.

8. Punctuation makes reading easier.
Punctuation puts in visual pauses and stresses important points. Use commas, hyphens, dashes and ellipses to achieve this effect.

9. Give your readers something useful.
Ad man David Ogilvy said, “Give the reader helpful advice, or service. It hooks about 75% more readers than copy which deals entirely with the product.”

So, are you KISS-ing your readers?

If you liked this article, please SHARE it!
AND please share your thoughts and comments below.

~ Debra Jason

http://www.writedirection.com

http://facebook.com/writedirection

 DEBRA JASON is the former President of the Rocky Mountain Direct Marketing Association (RMDMA), and a seasoned copywriter with more than 25 years of experience. Owner of The Write Direction, she offers copywriting services for Web and direct marketing communications, delivering captivating content that converts your prospects into loyal customers. Debra is also a recipient of the RMDMA’s Creative Person of the Year Award.

Note from Lynn Serafinn: Many thanks to Debra for sharing these useful tips. I especially like tip #9. I hate receiving newsletter and email shots that are just sales letters. I believe the best “marketing” is when we don’t market, but provide our readers with great content…like this.J

 


If you’re an author needing help with marketing your book, give Lynn Serafinn at Spirit Authors a shout via the CONTACT FORM on this site and we can set up a FREE 30 minutes Skype chat to see if I can help in any way.

AND FINALLY, DON’T FORGET to subscribe to the Spirit Authors blog for more tips on writing, publishing, book promotion and new mind-body-spirit book releases.

NOW You Can Get The Spirit Authors Blog
Delivered Directly to Your Kindle!

 

Now you can have access to the latest tips in writing, publishing and book marketing everywhere you go. Get our Spirit Authors articles delivered 1-2 times a week directly to your Kindle for only 99 cents a month (77pUK). Instead of reading someone else’s book on your way to work, get information on how to make your OWN book a success.

Take a 14-day free trial at:
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/ZlW7HT
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/131495j

Join us on the Spirit Authors Page on Facebook
Connect with us on Twitter.

 


LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She was recently named one of the Top 100 marketing authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was selected as a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. Her eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. In her work as a promotional manager she has produced a long list of bestselling mind-body-spirit authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project, a budding social enterprise whose aim is to help grow a new generation of passionate entrepreneurs who want to serve both people and planet through innovative, ethical, independent enterprise.

Twitter:
@LynnSerafinn @SpiritAuthors @7GracesMarketng @GardenOfTheSoul

Facebook:

LynnSerafinn SpiritAuthors 7GracesOfMarketing 7 Graces Global Garden (group)

 

http://bit.ly/Pf5mAU
Categories : News, Writing & Editing
Comments (4)
7 KeysCampaign manager Lynn Serafinn shares a simple formula to give power to your words (this is an updated version of an aritlce orginally published on April 5, 2010).

If you are planning an Amazon campaign for your book launch, you will need the help of a great network of personal and professional friends to help you. But something you might not have thought about is the fact that you will need to provide some “ezine copy” for them to use to help promote your book. That’s right: YOU will have to provide the article or articles your “joint venture partners” (JVPs) will send out to their lists.

The reason for this is two-fold. First of all, your JVPs are probably pretty busy, and if you ask them to write an article for you, it is less likely they will have it ready in time to meet your timetable. Secondly, YOU are the person who knows best what you want to say about your book. Those are the two most important reasons why you should write the “copy” (article) for your JVPs’ newsletters when they offer to promote you. And you’ll need to write several over the course of the campaign, in order to speak to the different audiences your partners represent.

I know this might sound a little daunting to some of you, especially those of you who don’t like the idea of “selling” (which covers just about 99.9% of the mind-body-spirit authors I know), so I thought I would give you a little formula to get you started, so you could see it is not so much about selling at all, as it is about connecting and inspiring the reader.

When you write your copy, make sure it meets the following criteria:
  1. It is between 400-700 words.
  2. It is written casually in the 3rd person as if the JVP is writing about you.
  3. It arouses curiosity in the title and opening line.
  4. It inspires the reader by sharing something meaningful about you and your book.
  5. It has a specific place where the JVP can (and should) personalise it.
  6. It’s NOT a sales letter but…
  7. It has a short, clear call to action at the end (i.e., it tells people when, where and why to get your book).
Ways to Keep it Real
  1. Remember  that the primary purpose of your copy is to arouse curiosity, and not to “sell” your book (yes, I thought you’d be happy to know that!).
  2. The other thing to remember is to write it in the third person about you, as if your JVPs were writing the article. There is tremendous power in your partners’ saying, “I found this book to be inspiring.”
  3. Make sure you have places in the article where partners can personalise it to make it more their own. And if “keeping it real” means that you need to send a copy of your book to your partners (at least a pdf version of it), BE GENEROUS and do so. It will help them say (nice) things about you in a much more authentic way.
  4. Don’t make your ezine copy just about the book. Make it also about YOU. Audiences like to know the person behind the book. Talk about how the book came to be. Bring the reader on a personal journey. Let them into your world. If you only talk about the book, a vital human connection will be missing.
  5. Your ‘call to action’ should be consistent with the character of the article. In other words, do NOT make it schmoozy and salesy. Make your call to action short and INVITING rather than hitting people over the head with ‘you’ve gotta get this book because it will change your life’ kind of attitude. Let it emerge naturally from the body of the article instead of jumping out like an attack!
See an example of this in action

If you want to see an example of this in action, have a look at the article I wrote called “How to Have a Life Well Lived”. I was the campaign manager for Patrick Ryan’s book campaign, so I made this copy (and several others) for the JVPs on his Amazon campaign. If you analyse it carefully, you will see 7 key elements I mention above. It must have worked, because his book went to #1 in spirituality in Canada and #2 in the US on the day of his launch in April 2010. :-)

Are YOU Planning a Book Launch?

If you are seeking a manager for your mind-body-spirit campaign, give me a shout via the CONTACT FORM on this site and we can set up a FREE 30 minutes Skype chat to see if I can help in any way. Please note I only accept a limited amount of clients per year and require a 6-month lead in time for a full-service launch.

Please DO leave your comments below. I LOVE hearing from you!

AND DON’T FORGET to subscribe to the Spirit Authors blog for more tips on writing, publishing, book promotion and new mind-body-spirit book releases.


Lynn Serafinn, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing: How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell. Her eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. In her work as a promotional manager she has produced a long list of bestselling mind-body-spirit authors. She is the of Spirit Authors, a site dedicated to providing information on publishing and book promotioin for and about mind-body-spirit authors, both established and aspiring. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project, a budding social enterprise whose aim is to help grow a new generation of passionate entrepreneurs who want to serve both people and planet through innovative, ethical, independent enterprise.

Twitter:
@LynnSerafinn @SpiritAuthors @7GracesMarketng @GardenOfTheSoul

Facebook:

LynnSerafinn SpiritAuthors 7GracesOfMarketing 7 Graces Global Garden (group)

Your book is magic! Bestselling author and book marketing consultant Lynn Serafinn shares her top reasons why an outline can help you get your book written.

If you are in the middle of a book project and you keep getting stuck, or it seems to take on a life of its own and go ‘all over the place’, it’s probably because you have no outline OR you did at one time and you have since abandoned it. Because I have seen that so many new authors writing their first book do not make an outline before beginning their project, I thought I’d share with you the TOP 10 reasons (plus 1) why defining a structure and creating an outline for your book is so important:

  1. It makes writing easier. When you go to sit down to work, you know exactly what parts of your book need to get done. And remember, just because you have an ordered outline, you are NOT committed to writing it in order. You can start anywhere.
  2. It makes reading easier. Books that have a structure are easier for readers to comprehend.
  3. It makes your message memorable. Readers can remember your message when there is a structure attached to it. It makes abstract concepts more memorable, and enables readers to feel they have gained something they can take away from the book, after they have finished it.
  4. It helps ensure you are thorough. If you have an outline, you won’t accidentally omit something vital to your message or storyline.
  5. It helps limit continuity errors. While thoroughness refers to ensuring that all important thoughts and details are included in your text, continuity refers to ensuring your thoughts and events following a logical sequence. An outline can help you see the continuity of your book before writing it.
  6. It helps ensure your book has symmetry. Symmetry means that all the assembled parts of your book have a “shape” when pieced all together.
  7. It helps ensure your book has balance. A good outline can help you see if some parts of your book are less substantial than others. A well-balanced book is organised in such a way that the ideas are balanced both in quantity and in quality against each other.
  8. It helps keep you focussed. When you have an outline (and stick to it) you won’t be as tempted to go off on a tangent. This doesn’t mean you will NEVER deviate or come up with great new ideas. But if the outline is there, you can see how these new ideas fit into your original intention.
  9. It helps to motivate you. When you have an outline, you see yourself making progress and ticking off the “boxes”, so to speak. This helps keep you motivated as you move closer and closer to your goal of finishing your book.
  10. It helps you develop a regular writing practice. If you have an outline to depend upon, you are far more likely to sit down at your desk (or wherever you happen to write) and START WRITING rather than waiting for the “muse” to shoot arrows at you.

And here’s the +1 bonus reason…

It keeps your READERS engaged. When you are writing a book, you are like a tour guide taking your readers on a journey from point A to point B. If you don’t know where your readers are starting from, you won’t be able to ‘meet them’ and get them on board at the beginning of the book. And if you don’t know where you’re taking them, a lot of them will hop of the bus (i.e., put down your book) before they get to the destination…if you manage to take them there at all.

Case in point: did you notice how I used structure to create cohesion in this article? FIRST decided I would find 10 top reasons, and then wrote down the reasons. Then, I started writing. Because I organised my ideas through a structure, the article seemed to write itself. And for you as a reader, isn’t it a lot easier to remember them than if I simply talked about the topic without a structure?

‘When you are writing a book, you are like a tour guide taking your readers on a journey from point A to point B.’

When I first started writing my book The 7 Graces of Marketing in 2010, I didn’t have a structure. I wrote a lot, but I ‘waffled’ a heck of a lot too. I kept moving things around and couldn’t see where I was going. I found myself saying the same thing over and over without realising it, and there was no real over-arching point or direction for what I was writing. Then, one day, about an hour before I was going to deliver a talk on ‘spiritual marketing’ to a group of business owners at the One World Festival here in the UK, I felt really stuck in knowing how to communicate the ideas I felt intuitive, but couldn’t quite put my fingers on.  I ‘called out to the heavens’ in sheer frustration asking (out loud), ‘What IS it? What IS it?’ I needed to know the ‘hook’, the outline, the structure of what I was trying to say because without this ‘map’ even I was lost! Amazingly, the 7 Graces (and 7 Deadly Sins) of marketing almost magically appeared in an instant. After that, the book took me another year to write, but I knew my direction every step of the way.

Don’t ‘fear’ the parameters of your outline or turn it into ‘gospel’. Just because you decide upon a structure doesn’t mean it can’t (or shouldn’t) bend flexibly as you go along. In fact, if you don’t allow your book to flow where it wants to go within the essence of your structure, you will not be honouring your creative spontaneity, and you might limit the impact of your book. You might first come up with a single outline structure, and they you find more structures within that structure as you write.

For example, when I sat down to write my new Twitter book Tweep-e-Licious (coming out Oct 2012) I challenged myself to write 100 Twitter ‘tips’, which I did. Then, when I looked at them, I saw they could be broken into 14 categories, which helped me organise them even more. Then, as I started writing, I found I needed to merge some tips, split some tips into two or three separate tips, and add others I hadn’t thought of when I first started. Eventually, I ended up with 160 tips. Then, I also found the book ‘wanted’ to draw upon the 7 Graces to bring more relevance to the book. Then, the book ‘wanted’ to go beyond practical tips and get into strategies and issues around ethics. The end result was something that was VERY different from my original concept of a ‘quick little eBook on Twitter’. But what I got from it was a substantial, meaningful book with which I’m much happier and I think will bring more value to readers. And the amazing thing is that I wrote this book in less than two months, compared to the two years I took to write my previous books. It all started by creating a structure early in the process, and then allowing the structure to bend and flow. It kept me extremely motivated, and I wrote just about every day because I was genuinely excited about how I felt when writing.

And THAT is probably the best reason of all to have
an outline, structure or ‘hook’ to your book.
It makes you love writing.

If you’ve got a book, or a project in you, or a BRAND in you, having a structure to ‘hang it on’ can really clarify your direction and purpose. But many times creative individuals find it difficult to define the ‘hook’ needed to take a book, business or speaking platform forward. While most people know me as a marketing consulting, helping to clarify structures and brands is another way I help authors, speakers, business owners and social entrepreneurs. If you’ve been struggling to find your structure or your unique ‘hook’, please drop me a line via the CONTACT FORM on this site, and we can set up a free 30 minute consultation.

So what do YOU think? Are outlines necessary? Are they liberating, doorways to creativity or just plain restrictive strangle-holds? Please share your own book and outline writing journeys with our Spirit Authors readers by leaving a comment below.

AND DON’T FORGET to subscribe to the Spirit Authors blog for more tips on writing, publishing, book promotion and new mind-body-spirit book releases.


Lynn Serafinn, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing: How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell. Her eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. In her work as a promotional manager she has produced a long list of bestselling mind-body-spirit authors. She is the founder of Spirit Authors, a site dedicated to providing information on publishing and book promotioin for and about mind-body-spirit authors, both established and aspiring.

Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project, a budding social enterprise whose aim is to help grow a new generation of passionate entrepreneurs who want to serve both people and planet through innovative, ethical, independent enterprise. Join their community on Facebook at http://facebook.com/groups/7GracesGlobalGarden.

Watch for Lynn’s new book Tweep-e-Licious: 160 Twitter Tips and Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs and Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Businesses Ethically (coming October 2012).

Categories : News, Writing & Editing
Comments (4)

Author, publisher, educator, Barbara Techel speaks with Lynn Serafinn about a lucrative avenue for public speaking and book sales that is not always explored by authors.

Authors are always looking for new ways to promote their books. While I specialise in online promotions, there is certainly a need for authors to know how to promote and sell their books “in person” to their potential readers. In the past, many authors have depended upon book signings at book shops, but in this day and age, with millions of new books coming onto the market every year (Google estimates there are 130 million unique titles currently in publication, and others say even this figure it’s far too low), it’s getting harder and harder for authors to get their books into bookshops.

So are there any unexplored avenues for book sales authors many not yet be exploring?

Author, publisher, educator, Barbara Techel thinks so. Barbara is the author of several children’s books including the award-winning Frankie, the Walk and Roll Dog, which is based upon the life of her dog, Frankie, who moves about in a doggie wheelchair owing to having contracted disc disease that caused paralysis. Since 2007 Barbara and Frankie (who is in a doggie wheelchair) have shared their positive and inspiring messages with thousands of children and adults at schools and libraries around the United States.

Having had wonderful success with this, Barbara wrote a book called Class Act: Sell More Books Through School and Library Author Appearances, with the aim of inspiring other authors to connect directly with their audiences and experience the enriching rewards of speaking at libraries and schools.

I recently interviewed Barbara on my radio show The Garden of the Soul, and was mightily impressed with the wealth of information she shared with my audience. In fact, the show ran much more like a teaching webinar than a radio broadcast. I was so impressed with her information, I wanted to make sure my Spirit Authors audience listened to the broadcast. You can hear it (or even download it) by the podcast player below:

If you cannot see the player on your screen, CLICK HERE to listen to it on the BlogTalkRadio website.

During the interview, Barbara shares:

  • how to find, pitch and book appearances at schools and libraries
  • how much to charge for your talk
  • how to promote your event
  • how to plan and prepare your most effective speaking approach
  • what to include in your presentation and tweak it to appeal to various audiences
  • how to arrange and fulfill book orders that result from your talks
  • how to use the modern technology of Skype to reach classrooms everywhere (a really novel idea, no pun intended)

While Barbara’s experience is mainly in the area of children’s non-fiction books, and her audience is primarily school children, I do believe all you authors out there whose books are not specifically in the children’s market can equally gain a lot of valuable ideas from this interview, so do give it a listen. After all, you are creative! Tweak Barbara’s ideas and make a brand new marketing campaign for yourself. :-)

AND… if you’d like to check out Barbara’s book, here are the links to it on Amazon US:

Paperback on Amazon US:
Class Act: Sell More Books Through School and Library Author Appearances

Kindle on Amazon US:
Class Act: Sell More Books Through School and Library Author Appearances

I’d love to hear your comments about this info after you’ve listened to the show, so please DO share them below.

AND DON’T FORGET to subscribe to the Spirit Authors blog for more tips on writing, publishing, book promotion and new mind-body-spirit book releases.


Lynn Serafinn, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing: How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell. Her eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. In her work as a promotional manager she has produced a long list of bestselling mind-body-spirit authors. She is the founder of Spirit Authors, a site dedicated to providing information on publishing and book promotioin for and about mind-body-spirit authors, both established and aspiring.

Passionate about re-establishing our connection with the Earth, Lynn also supports the work of the Transition Town Network in her hometown of Bedford, England.

Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Global Conference, or 7GGC, a meeting of minds taking place in various cities around the world and via worldwide live stream. The aim of 7GGC is to bring together business owners, marketers, media professionals, journalists, conscious consumers and eco-focused community groups, who will create a Tipping Point for change towards greater awareness of and responsibility for the impact our work has upon our health, happiness, economy and natural environment. Come BE the change at http://the7gracesofmarketing.com/7GGC

HeadphonesAuthor, book promotion coach Lynn Serafinn shares her tips on building your list by giving away great audio to your social media network.

Authors are always looking for ways to promote their books online. However, many are under the mistaken impression that promoting your book means you need to put excerpts on your blog or give away free chapters for download. And while giving away parts of your book might seem to make a lot of sense, it’s not necessarily the most effective way to promote your book online. The Internet is flooded with information. Even free content has got to kick some serious butt to make an impression on readers these days, who probably have a backlog of things on their “to read” list.

So instead of running the risk of becoming yet another unread masterpiece, I’d like to suggest authors put down the pen (or their keyboard) for a little while and start recording their voice instead.

Yes, I’m talking about giving away audio instead of all your precious writing. Why audio? Well, for one thing, if you follow some of the tips below, you don’t have to do much to produce the content. Secondly, audio has a higher perceived value than simple text. And lastly, audio get your audience closer to you. Speaking to your audience directly, and letting them get to know the sound of your voice, is both powerful and intimate.

What kind of audio can authors give to their readers?

Here are some ideas:

  1. Get yourself booked on some Internet radio shows and then give away the recordings of some of your interviews (ask the host if it’s ok first, of course). Make sure the interviews are content-rich and interesting to the listener. If they are just “pitches” about your book, no one will be interested in them. In a future article, I’ll give you some tips about getting booked on shows.
  2. If you don’t have any interviews in the coffers, set up a webinar on your topic (or a series of them), use the recordings of those. Not only will it be a good promotional activity on the day, but you can reuse the audio as an ongoing give-away gift.
  3. You can also do a live reading of the most powerful part of your book in front of a small audience and record that, or record it directly into your PC if you don’t happen to have an audience on hand.

Use your imagination, but make sure you give away at least 15 minutes of audio as your free gift. Some of my giveaways have as many as 8 hours of audio, depending upon the subject matter.

How good must the quality be?

If you are recording at home, be sure your audio is recorded and mixed down to MP3 format at a sample rate of 44.1kHz at 16 bits. If your recording is from an Internet broadcast, it will be compressed and the audio quality will be much lower resolution, but for a free gift, that is usually acceptable. Some conference line recordings, however, are at set to such a low fidelity they are really not usable. Do a test run first and listen back to it. If there’s a lot of noise (indicating low bit rate) or it sounds like you have a lisp every time you say the letter “s” (indicating the sample rate it too low), it might not be a wise choice.

MP3 PlayerHOW do you deliver your free audio gift?

Be sure you have created a way for people to DOWNLOAD the audio, rather than use an online player (such as Audio Acrobat). Remember that people like to play MP3s on their iPod or other portable player while driving in their car or commuting on the train to and from work.

Secondly, don’t deliver your audios all at once. Spread them out over a few days or send one audio per week. There are two reasons for this. The first reason is to allow your audience to take their time “consuming” your content. People might be speed readers, but there is no such thing as a “speed listener.” An hour of audio takes an hour to listen to it. When you deliver too much audio all at once, people are LESS likely to listen to any of it (I still have a couple of my offers set up like this, and keep meaning to change them). But the other reason why it is a good idea to spread out your delivery of audios is this: when you deliver four audios over a period of four weeks, it allows you to build a stronger relationship with your audience.

Make your “squeeze page” (the page where they enter their name and email to get your audio) as MINIMAL as possible. Don’t confuse the reader with other offers or links on your page. Make the audio the-one-and-only offer on the page, and resist the urge to link out to other pages of your website.

On your download page (the page people go to after they sign up for your audio) make sure you have a “call to action”, which should comprise of a picture of your book, a quote from a great endorsement, and a link to buy your book online (don’t forget to use your affiliate link if you have one!). Also put this same call to action at the end of any follow-up emails you might send them. If you are delivering a new audio every week, your readers will see this call to action every time they go to retrieve their new audio.

WHERE do you offer these free audios?

Ok, so here’s where the magic comes in. Here are some of my favourite uses. And the nice thing about them is that once you have them set up, you just walk away from them and let them do their magic:

  1. As a ‘thank you’ gift when they subscribe to your ezine/ newsletter (this is probably the most common way people use them)
  2. As a ‘welcome gift’ when they “like” your fan page on Facebook
  3. As a ‘bonus gift’ on a JV campaign for another author’s book launch
  4. As a ‘Thanks for Following Me’ gift to new Twitter followers using Social Oomph
  5. As a ‘random gift’ on Twitter or Facebook. Every now and then when you tweet, just tell people you’ve got a free audio for them. You can use Twaitter to schedule them to go out 1x a day, 1x week, or whatever you like.

And here’s a Bonus Tip:

*** Give your audio as a totally ‘unexpected gift’ in your bio at the end of an article… like the one you see below. 😉

I myself have numerous audio offers going out on a regular basis throughout the year, which add hundreds of new names to my list without my even trying. I hope these ideas spark your creative juices and help you build your own list and social media following with lots and lots of wonderful new people.

I love to know whether or not you found this article to be helpful. Please DO leave a comment below to let me know, or to write to me at http://spiritauthors.com/contact ask any questions you may have about this information.

Happy recording!

======================

Did you know that a lot of nice people hate marketing?

Artists, authors and holistic business owners are some of the most common. Maybe YOU are one of these people? Find out about the relationship between marketing, business owners, and the future of our planet in this 10-page eBook and 18 minute audio book “Why Nice People HATE Marketing” at http://spiritauthors.com/pages/bonus/why-nice-people-hate-marketing-request.html which is a sneak peek at just a handful of the cutting-edge ideas presented in the upcoming book The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sell by Lynn Serafinn coming at September 2011. You can pre-order the book now on Amazon.

Photo from 123RF

When authors have a book launch, they very often gather together a group of network partners to support the launch by offering a bonus gift. Offering a bonus gift for someone else’s launch can be a great way to find new targeted subscribers for your mailing list (see more information about why you might wish to join a campaign at the end of this article).

I manage many book launches every year, and every time I do it’s necessary for me to give some guidance to network partners about what makes a good, appropriate and effective bonus gift. If you are going to be offering a bonus gift for a book launch, it is essential you choose the right kind of bonus gift AND present it properly. Otherwise, you are likely to be very disappointed with the results of all your efforts.

I thought I’d share this information with my blog readers because it is not only relevant to bonus gifts for book launches, but pretty much to any kind of special offer you might use for leads generation. These guidelines are based upon years of experience in what works and doesn’t work in YOUR best interest, and hopefully increase the probability of opt ins for you.

What IS a good bonus gift?

  1. It must be 100% FREE
  2. It must be DOWNLOADABLE
  3. It should be something special that is NOT routinely and easily accessible via your website (especially your home page!).
  4. It must be in a format accessible to most (PDF, MP3, MP4 are all recommended formats).
  5. Suggested gifts include eBook, special report, audio course, eCourse, templates, video series, etc.

What is NOT a good bonus gift?

  1. An offer of a discount for something they must buy.
  2. An offer of free coaching or consulting (see more below).
  3. An offer of a free place on a live course on a specific date.
  4. Something you would have to send to people via snail mail.
  5. Something which would cost YOU money to give (such as a printed book).
  6. Something in a non-universal format (e.g., an eBook in MS Word doc format would not be acceptable).
  7. Something anyone could easily find by visting your website.

What is an “opt in page” and why do I need it?

Your opt in page is the place where people will come to REQUEST (not receive) your bonus gift. It should include a sign up form where they are required to enter their name and email (I suggest you do NOT ask for any other information).

How do I get a sign up form?

Any email delivery or autoresponder system such as AWeber, GetResponse, Constant Contact or Mail Chimp will allow you to create a sign up form. If you don’t have any of these services, I recommend you get one. Mail Chimp is free for the first few hundred subscribers.

What should my “opt in page” look like?

It should be VERY basic with no distractions, such as outbound links, adverts, etc. It should ONLY show your bonus gift and the opt in form. It should be on a special stand-alone page that is NOT on the home page of your website.

What happens after people sign up?

The opt in form will have a function where you can tell it where to send people after they sign up. They should be taken DIRECTLY to a download page. THEN, you should also set up an automated follow up message that says something like, “Thanks for downloading my bonus gift (Title of Gift). Just in case you didn’t get the chance to download it, here’s the link to the download page again: (link to the page).

But I’m looking to get clients. Why can’t I offer free coaching (or whatever it is you do)?

Frankly, because you never will be able to fulfill the requests you will receive.What if you receive 100 requests? Are you prepared to give away 100 precious hours of your time? You shouldn’t be. If people are asking for free coaching and have no intention of hiring you, you are simply wasting both their time and yours.

Instead, give people a free downloadable gift (eBook, MP3, etc) that costs you no time to deliver, and then, if you want, put a message at the end of the eBook that you will offer a free consultation to the first 10 requests, or something along those lines.

But I want people to visit my website so they can check out my products and services. Why can’t the opt in page have info about these?

Please remember, on these launches people will be clicking to receive DOZENS of free gifts. They are not interested in checking out anyone’s site while they are doing this. It’s overwhelming enough for them (yes, it’s actually overwhelming for people to have so much choice). If you overwhelm them further with “information overload”, or it looks like you are trying to sell them something, they will CLICK AWAY from your page. Trust me, I have had many a JVP not follow my advice, and not receive but a handful of opt ins during a campaign.

Personally, I typically get hundreds of opt ins on my bonus gifts BECAUSE I make simple, not distracting pages that do not attempt to “sell” people anything. Remember: once people are on your list, you can send follow up messages with information on how to take the content further. You can also put this information IN the product itself (in fact, you should).

~ EXAMPLE ~

If you want to see an example of a bonus page that receives LOTS of downloads every week,
so you can try to model your page after it, have a look at this one:
http://spiritauthors.com/pages/bonus/why-nice-people-hate-marketing-request.html

~ JOIN A CAMPAIGN ~

If you would like to be a partner on a book launch, check out the latest campaign I am running HERE:
http://spiritauthors.com/latest-book-launches

~ NOT SURE WHY YOU WOULD WANT TO BE A PARTNER? ~
Find out 7 reasons why you would want to partner on someone else’s book launch NOW in an article I wrote:
http://spiritauthors.com/news/7-reasons-to-partner-on-someone-elses-book-launch-now/

I hope you have found this information helpful! And do check out my upcoming book launches, and come join us if you like.

Until next time, I send you warm wishes,

Lynn Serafinn


About Lynn Serafinn, Creator of Spirit Authors

Lynn Serafinn

Lynn Serafinn is a transformation coach, book promotion coach, radio host and bestselling author of the book The Garden of the Soul: lessons from four flowers that unearth the Self.

Her upcoming book, The 7 Graces of Marketing, is coming in June 2011.

She also works as a campaign manager for mind-body-spirit authors and has produced a long list of top-10 book campaigns, including many #1-sellers. She created Spirit Authors to offer training, coaching, business-building and inspiration for mind-body-spirit authors, whether established or aspiring. Contact Lynn about YOUR book project at at http://spiritauthors.com/contact.

Be sure to subscribe to this blog for regular book writing and promotion tips (just fill in form at right of your screen).

Sign up for Lynn’s bi-monthly newsletter Creative Spirit (fill in form below) packed with inspirational articles, self-promotion tips, broadcast guide to her radio show, and news about upcoming spiritual author book releases.

Throughout the year, Lynn also hosts large-scale telesummits with world-class speakers on a range of mind-body-spirit topics. Your subscription to Creative Spirit will ensure you’ll be the first to know how to attend these free events.


Receive Creative Spirit

Subscribe to my 2x monthly ezine and receive 2 free audios on personal transformation.

Comments (0)

Book promotion expert Lynn Serafinn from Spirit Authors shares her tips on what every first-time author should know about royalties, retail price and printing costs before they self-publish a book.


Recently, in one of my LinkedIn Groups, a new author asked, “Does anybody have experience with self-publishing companies and the way they pay royalty fees?” I thought the answer to this question was something many new authors would like to know, so I thought I would share my response with my Spirit Authors readers. Below is a copy of the post I made on December 15th, 2010.

Hi there LinkedIn,

Here’s a breakdown of how most self-publishing royalties work:

By self-publishing companies, I assume you mean “publishers” such as iUniverse (probably the most known, but really only one of many) who set up your book to be distributed via print-on-demand (POD). The company I used for my first book is a small company called Authors Online – http://authorsonline.co.uk. I chose them because they are a small friends-and-family run company who take good care of their clients.

The POD press most often used is a company called Lightning Source. There are 2 major Lightning Source plants (when I last checked), one in Kentucky and one over here in England in Milton Keynes.

These kinds of companies don’t generally get your books into shops, but rather focus on Amazon, B&N, etc. The self-publishing publisher sets up your ISBN and arranges for your book to appear on all these online retailers. But be SURE you read the fine print. I had a scenario not very long ago when one of my clients went with Create Space (Amazon’s own print-on-demand publishing company) and they did NOT place the book on all 6 (now 7) Amazon sites throughout the world, cutting down SIGNIFICANTLY on my client’s sales. So be sure you ask if the company GUARANTEES you will be on all Amazon sites… but (if your book is in English), most especially Amazon US, Canada and UK.

Ok, so here are 7 facts about self-publishing and typical royalty structures:

1) Amazon buys your book for 45% of the retail price. That means, if you book retails for $10, Amazon pays your publisher $4.50 (not you… unless you actually START a publishing company and are selling the books directly to Amazon).

2) From that $4.50, your publisher subtracts their printing costs. Not sure of what they are in the US, but here in the UK, the costs are typically 1p (let’s say 2 cents) per page, plus 70p (let’s say $1.25) for the cover. So a 100 page book would cost $3.25 to print (don’t quote me on the exact figures; these were current as of 18 months ago in the UK. DO ask your publisher these questions).

3) If the book costs $3.25 to print, and you have received $4.50 from Amazon, it means your NET is $1.25.

4) Most self-publishers do a 50/50 split of the net, or in that ball park. That would mean your royalty per book sold is a whopping $0.67. Most payouts are quarterly, starting 4-6 months after publication.

5) Of course, you could also set the retail price higher to ensure you get a higher royalty. The best thing to do is to go online and check out similar books in the same niche, and check out their page count, and see how much their retail price is. Bear in mind, that Amazon will normally sell you book for LESS than retail, but you will still receive 45% of retail unless you tell them you are willing to take less in order to drive up sales (not recommended for first-time author, frankly!).

6) If you go FULLY self-published (i.e., set up your own ISBN, deal with Lightning Press, etc), then your royalty is 45% of retail. Subtract your printing costs from that, and that is your net profit per book. That is what I am doing with my next book.

7) Last option: getting the books printed in bulk (most do this overseas) can drive the cost per book WAY down, but you have a massive front-loaded investment at high risk because the minimum run is usually 1000 books or more to get a good price. PLUS you have the set-up costs, as it is not the same as digital POD. Any time I have seen new authors do this, they end up with a house full of hundreds of unsold books, and feel very discouraged. I don’t recommend it unless you have a solid promotional platform and good distribution set up. ALSO, bear in mind that if you go this route, book distributors tend to take the books on consignment and they don’t pay anything if the books don’t sell. And who do you think is responsible for the marketing? You guessed it – you. Furthermore, they might take 300 books from you when they first come out, but they can RETURN every book that hasn’t sold (or worse–been returned to the retail shops!) after a certain period of time.

BTW, I help self-published mind-body-spirit authors via my site Spirit Authors at http://spiritauthors.com. I’m re-opening Module 3 on self-publishing in February 2011. The course for writing your book (Module 1) and building your online platform (Module 2) are already available. You can take a 7-day test drive of those courses for only $1.

I also do full-service Amazon book launches at http://spiritauthorscoach.com. Drop me a line if you would like to chat.

Warm wishes,

Lynn Serafinn


About Lynn Serafinn, Creator of Spirit Authors

Lynn Serafinn

Lynn Serafinn is a transformation coach, book promotion coach, radio host and bestselling author of the book The Garden of the Soul: lessons from four flowers that unearth the Self.

Her upcoming book, The 7 Graces of Marketing, is coming in June 2011.

She also works as a campaign manager for mind-body-spirit authors and has produced several top-10 book campaigns, including FOUR #1-sellers, in 2010 alone. She created Spirit Authors to offer training, coaching, business-building and inspiration for mind-body-spirit authors, whether established or aspiring. Contact Lynn about YOUR book project at at http://spiritauthors.com/contact.

Be sure to subscribe to this blog for regular book writing and promotion tips (just fill in form at right of your screen).

Sign up for Lynn’s bi-monthly newsletter Creative Spirit (fill in form below) packed with inspirational articles, self-promotion tips, broadcast guide to her radio show, and news about upcoming spiritual author book releases.

Throughout the year, Lynn also hosts large-scale telesummits with world-class speakers on a range of mind-body-spirit topics. Your subscription to Creative Spirit will ensure you’ll be the first to know how to attend these free events.


[mlb/]

Book Promotion expert and Founder of Spirit Authors, Lynn Serafinn, shares a morsel from her 10-week course Module 2: “Pre-Publication Marketing Musts” (subtitle “100 Days to Build Your Online Promotional Platform”).

LinkedIn is perhaps the most elusive of online tools for many new social networkers. Many people first come to it and cannot understand how it can possibly help them with business and network building, but that is simply because, on the surface, LinkedIn appears to be starkly formal with little opportunity for interaction compared to the colourful interface Facebook provides, and the face-paced exchanges found in Twitter.

But while LinkedIn is definitely more of a professional network than it is a social network, when you explore all it has to offer you will find it to be not only a place where you can thrive and establish your renown as a professional (including a professional author), but also where you can find a virtually endless supply of information and referrals, as well as have access to thousands of people in your target audience.

While there are so many aspects to explore in LinkedIn, today I just want to share 1 very quick tip with you that can help you make LinkedIn work for you as you build your online platform, either for your book promotion or other business.

What’s the tip?

To establish yourself as an expert.

How do you do that? You do this by answering questions others post in the LinkedIn Q&A. You can access the Q&A by clicking “more” in your LinkedIn profile, and then selecting “Question”. When you are prompted, select “answer questions.”

When people post questions on LinkedIn, they have to put them in at least one category and/or subcategory. I recommend searching for a topic that is closely related to your specific area of expertise. I frequently answer questions on writing/editing, technology, internet marketing, etc. Have a look around for subjects that match your expertise most.

When you find a question you think is “juicy”, and which you feel confident about providing information, read over the replies received so far and then give an answer that gives added value to the person who asked the question. BE GENEROUS in your reply. Share from your expertise and experience. Give links to outside sources you believe would help the person. The key to this process is to focus on what you can GIVE the other person. There is nothing more irritating to me when I go on LinkedIn and read replies to questions that are obvious spam or simply attempts to gain attention. Invariably it backfires on the person. But if you are generous with your wisdom and your professional knowledge, people really appreciate it.

After a question has been online for some time (usually 7 days), it closes unless the person who asked the question keeps it open. After it closes, LinkedIn sends a request to the person who asked the question asking them to rank who gave the best answer to the question. If your response to the question is selected as the “best”, you then are ranked as an “expert” in that particular subject. Your expert status is then a permanent part of your LinkedIn profile. Every time your answers are selected as the best, you gain another accolade as an expert.

Establishing yourself as an expert on LinkedIn helps others to see that you are knowledgeable on specific subject areas AND that you are a generous and helpful person. People can also click your expert status and see exactly what kind of knowledge and information you are sharing, which further establishes your credibility.

The long-term benefit of this is that people will come to trust you both as a professional and as a person. If you think that will not have a positive impact upon your business (and even your book sales) think again. Because LinkedIn is a professional network, as opposed to a social network, it does indeed have limitations on how you can market yourself compared to Twitter or Facebook, for instance. But in helping you establish your professional credibility, LinkedIn becomes a great balance to the other components of your online platform.

There’s a lot more to LinkedIn, what to speak of blogging, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and many other components on online promotion. I cover these in GREAT detail in my course Spirit Authors Module 2: “Pre-Publication Marketing Musts” (or “80 Days to Build Your Online Promotional Platform”).

This 10-week online course is open to new members, and you can sample the first week for only $1.

At the end of your $1 test-drive, if you choose to complete the course, it’s only $197 for 10 lessons, with access to the site for a full 12 weeks.

  • Lessons include audio, video, written transcripts and workbooks.
  • You receive 1 lesson per week, and all materials are fully downloadable and yours to keep.
  • The lessons are SUBSTANTIAL. The audio lessons average 90 minutes in length.
  • You do NOT have to attend live classes, and can download the material in your own time.
  • While you are enrolled on the course, you are invited to attend the monthly Spirit Authors member calls.
  • You also have access to the member forum, to share ideas and establish connections with others
  • PLUS: lots of bonus gifts when you join (2 bonuses when you take the test drive, and more when you sign up for the complete course)
  • AND: Access to a members-only resource area
  • This course is also suitable for holistic business owners who want to develop their online presence.

To take the course for a $1 test drive (or to read more about it), go to:
http://spiritauthors.com/register-module-2

You will be charged only $1 for the first 7 days

Then, if you choose to continue, pay only $197 for this 10-lesson course (please note: the cost of this course WILL be going up in 2011).

Course content:

  • Lesson 1: Your readers: knowing, finding and reaching them
  • Lesson 2: Your pre-launch essential checklist and action plan
  • Lesson 3: Integrating and leveraging blogs and RSS
  • Lesson 4: Using autoresponders, newsletters and giveaways
  • Lesson 5: Unlocking the secret powers of Twitter
  • Lesson 6: Unlocking the secret powers of Facebook
  • Lesson 7: Unlocking the secret powers of LinkedIn
  • Lesson 8: Multimedia platforms (YouTube, BlogTalkRadio)
  • Lesson 9: Choosing and using forums to expand your influence
  • Lesson 10: Tricks for staying sane, saving time and keeping it real

OR… if you’re just starting a book project, you might be interested in my 8-week Spirit Authors Module 1: “Starting and Writing Your Book.” Read more at http://spiritauthors.com/register-module-1.


About Lynn Serafinn, Creator of Spirit Authors

Lynn Serafinn

Lynn Serafinn is a transformation coach, book promotion coach, radio host and bestselling author of the book The Garden of the Soul: lessons from four flowers that unearth the Self. She also works as a campaign manager for mind-body-spirit authors and has produced several top-10 book campaigns, including FOUR #1-sellers, in 2010 alone. She created Spirit Authors to offer training, coaching, business-building and inspiration for mind-body-spirit authors, whether established or aspiring. Contact Lynn about YOUR book project at at http://spiritauthors.com/contact.

Be sure to subscribe to this blog for regular book writing and promotion tips (just fill in form at right of your screen).

Sign up for Lynn’s bi-monthly newsletter Creative Spirit (fill in form below) packed with inspirational articles, self-promotion tips, broadcast guide to her radio show, and news about upcoming spiritual author book releases.

Throughout the year, Lynn also hosts large-scale telesummits with world-class speakers on a range of mind-body-spirit topics. Your subscription to Creative Spirit will ensure you’ll be the first to know how to attend these free events.


[mlb/]

Book promotion coach and campaign manager Lynn Serafinn from Spirit Authors shares her tips on what authors should NEVER say to new online network connections.

Recently I received a private message from a new connection on LinkedIn that I thought was so exemplary of everything one should NOT say in a first contact letter, I thought it would make an excellent article for my readers.

Below is a paraphrase of what I received:

Hi Lynn,

My name is Fred Flintstone and I am inviting you to view a few chapters of a soon to be released classic. It’s a controversial memoir about being a Stone Age man in a modern world. Please let me know what you think via the Guest Book at www.fredflintstonetheauthor.com. Please forward the link to someone else who may benefit from it.

Fred

(Please note: Of course, this is NOT the actual letter I received, and did tell the real author I would be sharing this example with my readers)

Let me ask you this: If ‘Fred Flintstone’ were actually a real person and this were a real letter from someone with whom you had just connected (and had not yet even exchanged any messages), what would be your reaction? Be honest.

Well, my first reaction was quite dismissive, if you want to know the truth. I was almost ready to archive it without replying. But then I thought, What was this person really thinking and feeling when he wrote this? I imagined that he thought this letter made him sound confident. After all, our culture is always talking about people needing to embrace self-belief and have a feeling of self-worth. So was this letter a display of genuine confidence or was it from someone who was trying to appear to be confident according to some guidance he learned somewhere?

While my instincts told me this was the latter, I felt it wasn’t fair of me to dismiss the letter simply on the grounds of how authentic I deemed it to be. However, I knew full well that many other people on LinkedIn were likely to dismiss Fred’s letter, not giving it a second thought. And then, what would have been to point of the poor author’s efforts, trying to reach out to his connections?

… Connections! I thought. Ah, yes, that was the real problem.

Fred was not connecting with me. He was talking ‘to’ me, not ‘with’ me. He was not engaging. He was telling me what I should think about his book (that it was a classic) and, furthermore, was asking me to forward it to others ‘who may benefit.’ The words take the ‘high ground’. When you are on high ground, you cannot connect with your reader.

I decided to check out Fred’s profile. Now what was SO interesting is that he worked in the marketing industry. And frankly, to me, the letter showed it. Most of traditional (or what I call ‘Old School’) marketing does not, as a rule, embrace connection as one of its strategies (or values). Furthermore, ‘Old School’ marketing (hey, should I spell it ‘Old Skool’, you think?!) has no qualms about telling us what we should think about their products. Old Skool Marketing (oops, there I did spell it that way) is, in my view, disconnecting and disempowering to its customers. That is precisely why I don’t use it. Still, the old methods are taught in so many marketing training programs even today.

This got me started thinking about my own values and how I believe in empowering people. If I simply deleted Fred’s message, ‘rejecting’ and judging him in my mind, how would I be honouring my life purpose and all I stand for?

I wouldn’t be.

So do you know what I did?

I decided to write Fred back, telling him honetly about my reaction, and giving him a suggestion of what he might have written. It was exactly the same kind of feedback I would have given one of my own clients. Here’s what I wrote back:

Hi there Fred,

Hmm… as one marketing person to another, may I be so bold as to advise that possibly the worst thing you could EVER do in your first communication with someone is to say, “I am inviting you to view a few chapters of a soon to be released classic”?

You might think it sounds confident, but it actually does not impact the reader that way. It comes across as bragging, as we do not know each other at all yet. What’s more, LinkedIn has a very different ethos from other networks, and messages like this are generally not seen as good form.

I’m not writing this to criticise you, but rather to advise you so you don’t end up alienating people on LinkedIn or your other social networks. In social networking, the first rule of thumb is to connect at a personal level and to be generous with your advice and personality.

Here’s an example of an alternative “hello” letter you might have sent:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hi Lynn,
My name is Fred Flintstone. When I read your profile I wanted to connect because I see you are a fellow author and that you work with other authors.

I’d love to hear more about your book, your message and what you do to help authors. Drop me a line and tell me more when you get the chance.

I just published a memoir about being a Stone Age man in a modern world at www.fredflintstonetheauthor.com. As you are experienced with promoting authors, I’d be most pleased if you visited it sometime.

Looking forward to connecting,

Fred

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Can you see the difference, Fred? In your letter, it’s all about you. Furthermore, you are asking me to help promote you without even bothering to talk to me as an individual. In the one I just wrote, you show that you have looked at my profile and considered me as a human being. Then, you are inviting me to tell you more about myself. THEN when you ask me to visit your site, it is humble and appreciative and not “you should read my book because it is a future classic”. That will never win people over to you.

BTW, this is the sort of stuff I teach people all the time. I help authors build their platform, which means building relationships. I have produced 6 top-10 authors this year alone, 4 of them have gone to #1. So trust my advice and it will help ensure your book has a chance at becoming a classic. :-)

Warm wishes,
Lynn

Ok, I have to admit, when I hit ‘send’, my heart did a little flip-flop and I asked myself if I wasn’t been rather BOLD in sending this letter. But then I thought, I’ve got nothing to win or lose here. My intentions are actually to HELP this person succeed in his project. He can reject it completely if he wants. He can write back to me and tell me I’m an arrogant jerk who should mind her own business. I was prepared for whatever happened.

As it turns out, Fred did write back a few days later.

He wrote:

Hi Lynn

Thanks for your letter. It was… enlightening.

What do you charge for your services?

Fred

I SWEAR to you, this is a true story!

ALWAYS REMEMBER: Your contacts on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc., are real people. They have hearts and souls and desires and talents just like you. Connect first. Find out to WHOM you are writing. READ their profiles. Ask questions. You don’t need to sell ANYTHING if people like you.

Connect! Connect! Connect!

I hope you found this real-life example useful. AND I want to thank Fred, who is a GREAT sport for letting me paraphrase his message, for giving me some great content for my readers. I know it will help many people.

Fred, I really do hope your book becomes a classic.


About Lynn Serafinn, Creator of Spirit Authors

Lynn Serafinn

Lynn Serafinn is a transformation coach, book promotion coach, radio host and bestselling author of the book The Garden of the Soul: lessons from four flowers that unearth the Self. She also works as a campaign manager for mind-body-spirit authors and has produced several top-10 book campaigns, including FOUR #1-sellers, in 2010 alone. She created Spirit Authors to offer training, coaching, business-building and inspiration for mind-body-spirit authors, whether established or aspiring. Contact Lynn about YOUR book project at at http://spiritauthors.com/contact.

Be sure to subscribe to this blog for regular book writing and promotion tips (just fill in form at right of your screen).

Sign up for Lynn’s bi-monthly newsletter Creative Spirit (fill in form below) packed with inspirational articles, self-promotion tips, broadcast guide to her radio show, and news about upcoming spiritual author book releases.

Throughout the year, Lynn also hosts large-scale telesummits with world-class speakers on a range of mind-body-spirit topics. Your subscription to Creative Spirit will ensure you’ll be the first to know how to attend these free events.


[mlb/]

Spiritual author and book promotion coach Lynn Serafinn from Spirit Authors gives top tips on how, when and why to tag people, fan pages and groups on Facebook. As always, your comments and feedback are most welcome below!

I get some of the best ideas for blog posts from questions friends ask me on Facebook. Tonight, my one of my friends asked me how you “tag” people in Facebook. I realised in my written explanation to her that there was actually a lot of detail and subtlety involved, so I thought it would make a great blog post to share with other authors, and people who want to know more about developing their online platform.

“Tagging” is one of the most powerful tools on Facebook. A “tag” is basically a link you create to a person, page or group on Facebook that you place within your wall posts, photos or notes. When you “tag” a person in a wall post Facebook, your post will automatically appear on their wall as well as on your own. If you tag them in a photo or note, it will appear in their updates.

Here are some guidelines of HOW you put tags in a Facebook post:

  1. When you type an “@” sign into a wall post, Facebook recognises that as a signal you want to tag someone. Let’s say you wanted to tag me in your post. My first name is Lynn, so you would type “@Ly” (important: do not put a space after the @ sign) and then WAIT a second or two. Facebook will open up a window with everyone in your friends list whose names have “Ly” in them. When you see my name, CLICK on my picture, and I will be tagged. You will know the tag is activated because my name will turn blue, and it will turn into a link that takes you to my profile page.
  2. You can tag a maximum of 6 names in a single wall post.
  3. You can also tag PAGES or GROUPS. Just follow exactly the same steps as above.
  4. As mentioned above, when you tag a person, page or group in a post, your post will appear on THEIR wall automatically. This is a great way to spread messages virally and it also means that the parties you are talking to or about will see your message without checking their updates.
  5. The other advantage to tagging is that NEW people will see you who might not have seen you before, especially if you are tagging to a page or a group. Anyone who checks out the group or fan page will see your post.
  6. You can also tag people in a note or a photo. There is a section on the right side of the note that lets you create tags exactly the same way as above. You can tag more people in a note or photo than in a wall post (the current limit is 30).
  7. NOTE: You cannot put a tag in a comment. You can, however, put a web link in a comment.

Now here’s the obvious question: WHY would you want to tag someone?

One way to use tagging is to tag people, groups or fan pages to say something nice about them or to help spread some news that would be of interest to the people (or members of the page/group) being tagged. Here are a couple of examples of when you might use tagging to a page or group:

  1. If you want to share some news about the page or group to you profile page (such as a new blog post, event, book, video, radio show or other news item THEY have posted). In this case, you might post the news to your personal Facebook profile, but tag the page/group in the post. That way, it will appear on their wall, and they will see you are helping to spread the word about their good work.
  2. If you see or create a news item, tip, video, event, etc., you think would be of interest to the members of the group or fans of the page, but you also want your own friends to see it, you might post the news to your wall, and then tag the page or group. For instance, if I wanted to bring a post to the attention of Spirit Authors, I might say, “Spirit Authors, you might find this useful” (Spirit Authors would be tagged).

Below is an example of a post I made on Facebook recently about a new page I had found by one of my networking friends. I “shared” the page use the “share” link, and then I wrote this tagged post to accompany it:

Just discovered my good friend Dana Lynn Smith‘s new page The Savvy Book Marketer. She is a wealth of information. Spirit Authors and Next Top Author folks, check her out and “Like” her page for great tips. Dana is also a member of the Virtual Faculty at the Spirit Authors membership site, btw. :-))

Note there are four tags in the post: 1) Dana Lynn Smith’s personal page, 2) Dana’s business page “The Savvy Book Marketer”, 3) the “Spirit Authors” business page and 4) the “Next Top Author” group. That means that, altogether, this single post was (on the day I posted it) visible to over 5000 people, just about all of them authors. I noticed that within a few minutes of posting this, Dana’s fan page increased by 5 members, and if people start “liking” or commenting on the post, it is likely to generate more interest. Not bad for a post that took a few seconds to compose.

In this post, I am not only helping Dana Lynn by sharing her page and saying something nice about her, but I am also helping the people I have tagged in the post (Spirit Authors page and Next Top Author group), because they are a targeted group of authors, all hungry for new information about book promotion. Furthermore, as I “shared” The Savvy Book Marketer page, people will see the logo and description of the page, which makes the post far more visible and attractive, and makes people far more likely to check it out than if it were a simple link.

But the beauty of this is that I am also gaining from this. How?

Because I am being seen as someone who likes to give value to others. And because of this, people enjoy staying connected to me. Furthermore, because the tags make the post appear on Dana’s pages, new people might see me on either Dana’s personal page or on her business page. If they perceive me as being someone who can offer good value to them, they are likely to seek me out as a connection. They also might see the Spirit Authors link and check that out too. Believe, me, I have more Facebook invitations these days than I can keep up with.

IMPORTANT TAGGING NETIQUETTE:

  1. NEVER abuse tagging to SPAM your Facebook friends or Facebook pages. Spamming means that you just tag people for the sake of them paying attention to a promotion you are doing. Do NOT do this. If you want to invite people to a promotion, create an event, business page or group and invite them to join voluntarily. If you are running a promotion, go ahead and post it in your updates, but don’t tag people in the updates unless they have something to do with the promotion OR you know them very well personally, and they would wish to know what’s happening (e.g., if you are launching your book, and close  friends and family would like to be informed).
  2. Don’t be a Facebook “squatter” or “poacher” on other people’s pages. By “squatter” I mean someone who uses tags or hangs out on someone else’s business page ONLY to promote themselves. By “poacher” I mean someone who joins pages solely to find people to invite to their own pages. For instance, if I had gone to Dana Lynn’s page and said, “Hey all you Savvy Book Marketers! I’m the best thing since sliced bread. Come on over to my page,” that would be pretty tacky. Now, if DANA said such a thing about me to her own group, that would be completely different.

What I am showing you here are some of the fundamentals of social networking, and indeed what I call “spirit-based” marketing. Social networking is the cornerstone of my business and of all the promotional platforms I help authors create for their books. But even though it is a powerful tool for your book promotion, always remember that the key to spirit-based social networking is to help others, and to gain a reputation as someone who willingly and joyfully helps others, trusting that there is enough business and prosperity in the world for all of us.

Tags in Facebook are very powerful if you use them correctly. Use them with sincerity, creativity and generosity, and over time you will see your network grow and your business flourish. Besides… I think they’re FUN.


About Lynn Serafinn, Creator of Spirit Authors

Lynn Serafinn

Lynn Serafinn is a transformation coach, book promotion coach, radio host and bestselling author of the book The Garden of the Soul: lessons from four flowers that unearth the Self. She also works as a campaign manager for mind-body-spirit authors and has produced two #1-selling book campaigns, and another #2-selling campaign, in just the past 4 months. She created Spirit Authors to offer training, coaching, business-building and inspiration for mind-body-spirit authors, whether established or aspiring.

Be sure to subscribe to this blog for regular book writing and promotion tips (just fill in form at right of your screen).

Sign up for Lynn’s bi-monthly  newsletter Creative Spirit (fill in form below) packed with inspirational articles, broadcast guide to her radio show, and news about upcoming spiritual author book releases.

Throughout the year, Lynn also hosts large-scale telesummits with world-class speakers on a range of mind-body-spirit topics. Coming up over the next few months:

  • 3-day summit on Evolution of Consciousness
  • 3-day summit on Cellular Memory Release
  • 4-day summit on Healing the Corporate World
  • Your subscription to Creative Spirit will ensure you’ll be the first to know how to attend these free events.

[mlb/]

Recommended:

HootSuite - Social Media Dashboard As Featured On EzineArticles
Blastation Interactive Goal Setting and Life Coaching Software to Organize and Activate Your Best Life Ever - START YOUR FREE TRIAL TODAY!
Free 30-day trial

Catch my radio show Wednesdays