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The most difficult problem you face in writing your book can be summarized in just two words.
You have a brilliant idea, of course, and an outline or some notes. Maybe even a chapter draft, or two. But now what?
If you are like most will-be authors, you begin casting about for other things that demand your attention — first.
The birdfeeder needs cleaning. The gardening stuff at the back of the garage needs weeding. Heck, the entire garage needs to be emptied and put back in pristine order. It’s good feng shui, you tell yourself.
In other words, after the brilliant idea, the outline, the notes, and the drafts, you’ve earned the right to your resistance.
Why? Because you don’t know — that is, know specifically — what to do next with your book. Writing it feels so frustratingly vague, so frighteningly VAST.
So, you tackle the things that you do know how to do: birdfeeder, gardening stuff, garage. And then you feel guilty and pained. Uncomfortable.
But wait. You needn’t be stuck in discomfort. There is a solution to resistance. A simple solution. It is a . . . Box.
Yes, a box. Not a literal box, but the imagined form of a box, which you can use as a magical tool to get to work on your book — without suffering from let’s-just-do-other-things-first-itis.
Here is what it takes to create a Box:
::: First, you set a “start” time for your writing period. This is the top of your imagined box. (10:00 AM, say)
::: Second, you set a “stop” time. This is the bottom of your imagined box. (11:00 AM, say)
::: Third, you write a list of small and very specific tasks that you will complete during your allotted sixty minutes of writing time. This is one side of your imagined box. (For example: Write notes for Intro, list contents for Chapter Three, check Amazon for books about _____)
::: Fourth, you check off each task as you complete it (surprisingly reinforcing), during your pre-set writing time. This is the other side of your imagined box. (Notes: check; Contents: check; Amazon: check)
Why does this oh-so-simple Box strategy work?
Because, when you know precisely what you need to do, your mind will help you walk down precisely that road . . . writing the notes, listing the contents, doing the research.
But when you don’t know, how is your mind going to help you do that? It isn’t possible.
And so, your mind presents you with all sorts of other tasks, tasks it does know how to do — a brilliant solution for an unsolvable problem!
But the take-away is this: It really is up to you to tell your mind what to do. And you can do that best by creating a Box: Start Time, Stop Time, List of Tasks, Checklist (aka: Top, Bottom, One Side, Other Side).
One word of caution: Begin using the Box by assigning yourself a short, thirty-minute work period with a few quickly accomplished tasks. Practice a little, before you Box a full-out session of, say, two hours or more.
While you’re planning your starter session, I’ll tell you how I happened to invent this resistance-dissolving tool.
Several years ago, after my parents passed away, I was faced with the overwhelming job of organizing and selling the accumulated (and I do mean accumulated) contents of their home. I spent days wandering from room to room and floor to floor, wondering where to begin.
Finally, I started writing down what needed to be done in each room. And what needed to be done overall. And what might come first, second, third, fourth . . .
By writing lists, I made sense of the seeming chaos that had no discernible starting point for establishing order.
After that, I made a task list for my first day of real work, drawing courage from the preliminary order that my Big Picture lists had given me.
But in reading my task list, I felt myself slipping into avoidance. Should get light bulbs before stores close. Only seven hours left.
Thirty-five things shouted up at me from my task list on that first day. Important Task! Very Essential Task! Get This Done, or Else!
But, I reasoned, I had all day, so. Why not take a break, for right now? Go buy those light bulbs.
Ironically, a light bulb went off in my mind, just then. The avoidance-busting Box solution had arrived.
I made a new list, one with just three things on it. Then I looked at my watch, gave myself an hour, told myself that if I got all three things done in under sixty minutes, I could have a small reward. Thus primed and motivated, I set to work. And it worked.
After my reward (not buying light bulbs), I Boxed another hour’s worth of tasks and churned through my second set.
On good days, I was able to get through seven or eight work periods this way, leaving my parents’ house after nine or ten in the evening, driving an hour and a half to get home and feed my cat, before falling into bed, exhausted.
In the end, I got it all done by using the Box. There were estate sales, the house sold, and the rest is a strategy that can be used for anything.
But it is especially helpful for authors struggling to leap over their resistance to writing . . .The Book.
So, whenever you feel stuck, just remember this little resistance-dissolving mantra:
Start Time, Stop Time, Task List, Checklist.
Box Your Book Time, You . . . Won’t . . . Resist, BigTime.
Laurel Marshfield is a developmental editor, ghostwriter, and co-author who helps new and experienced authors prepare their books for publication. For daily book tips, advice, and book news, follow Laurel @BookEditorLM on Twitter. To learn more about her editorial services for authors, please visit her website: BlueHorizonCommunications.com She is a member of the Virtual Faculty here at Spirit Authors.
Note from Lynn: The topic of resistance Laurel discusses in this article is also addressed in Week 5 of Spirit Authors Module 1, where we explore “Knowing What Blocks Your Progress.” Get a preview of that lesson HERE.
Many people hire me to create and manage their Amazon book campaigns, or to support them as a book promotion coach/consultant. In either case, I have noticed many of my clients experience a steep learning curve at the beginning of their campaigns, as they try to get their heads around all the components and how they work together.
For that reason, I thought it might be a good idea to write a short article giving an overview of the initial steps I use when I put together an Amazon campaign, so you can become an Amazon bestseller like my clients.
The basic concept of an Amazon book campaign is to drive people to a special page you will create that tells them about your book, and to get them to return to that page to buy your book on the specified day of your launch. The reason why you want them to come on a specified day is to drive up your Amazon sales rank. The reason why people will want to return to your page (as opposed to just going to Amazon to buy your book) is that after they buy your book, they can come back to your page to claim some great bonus gifts.
Who is offering the gifts? A group of “JVPs”, or “Joint Venture Partners” you have brought together. Finding and choosing JVPs is a topic I cover in the first week of Module 4 at Spirit Authors. For now, let’s assume you already have a good selection of JVPs who have confirmed their participation in your launch, and let’s move on to our 5 steps to get your campaign going.
Step 1: Design the Timeline and Components of Your Campaign
First off, you will need to choose the components of your campaign, and construct a timeline showing when all these components will occur. Here are a few examples of components that go into a typical Amazon campaign:
- Bonus gift offers from JVPs
- Email/ezine blasts
- Twitter campaign
- A Contest
- Virtual Blog Tour
There are different strategies, technical aspects and creative elements to each of these components, which would take too long to discuss here. For now, let’s say that you decided you were going to utilise all of them in some way.
Step 2: Coordinate Your JVP Materials
Assuming you have already determined the level of commitment promised from your JVPs, your next step would be to gather relevant materials from them, such as headshot, bio, and bonus material information, including a link to the opt in page where people will sign up to receive their gift.
A word of advice: It is highly likely you will need to guide many of your JVPs as to what is an appropriate bonus gift. A good bonus gift should be a downloadable entry-level gift. A not-so-good gift is one that requires the customer to buy something else to receive it, or requires them to travel to specific geographic location. The bonus should also not be an offer of free or discounted coaching or consultation, because if they have a high number of requests, they might find it impossible to honour them all. You, as the manager of your campaign, need to guide your JVPs to choosing the right kind of gift.
As you collect this information from your JVPs, make sure you use some sort of tracking system to cross check you have received all the info. I use an Excel spreadsheet for tracking.
Step 3: Creating Your Pre-Launch Page and Follow-Ups
Next, you will need to assemble all your JVP information, along with key info about you and your book, onto a webpage we are going to call your “pre-launch page.” On this page, people will find out about you, your book, the date of the launch, and the bonus gift offerings. Make sure you standardise the format in which you will publish the JVP content on the web, so everyone’s entry looks similar.
Apart from the JVP information, the key ingredient on this page is a sign up form, where they will sign up to receive a reminder about the book launch. This sign up form should be connected to an auto-responder that sends them a follow up message saying something to the effect of, “Thanks for your interest in my book. I’ll be sending you a reminder the day before it comes out so you can get those great bonus gifts you read about. Be sure to mark your diary.”
Step 4: Create Promo Copy
The next thing you will need to do is create some great promotional copy for your JVPs to use for your campaign. There are basically 3 types of promo copy you will prepare for your JVPs:
- Newsletter/ezine articles
- “Tweets” (for Twitter)
- “Virtual interviews” (if you are planning to do a Virtual Blog Tour)
I usually make two contrasting pieces of ezine copy for my JVPs per month, to give them diversity and choice (they are likely to send only one per month).
I usually make 50-100 Tweets for my JVPs—and I try to make them 120 characters or less. It’s really not as complex as it might sound, and it can make your campaign vibrant, fun and very effective.
A “Virtual Interview” is when your blog tour hosts send you a few questions in advance before the date of their “stop” on your tour.
I cover the details of how to create all these types of copy on Module 4 at Spirit Authors. In fact, I dedicate an entire week to EACH of these types of copy.
Step 5: Create Clear Instructions for Your JVPs
The last step to getting your campaign off the ground is to create a set of clear, written instructions for your JVPs. I always include a timeline, a description of the components, and a break down of how everything will run. I write it in such a way that it is visually easy to read, and convert it into a PDF document. I give them tips on how to use the materials, and how to increase traffic to their bonus.
Follow a Real Live Launch
As I am currently the project leader for the upcoming Amazon campaign for Patrick Ryan’s book Awakened Wisdom: A Guide to Reclaiming Your Brilliance, the easiest thing you can do to understand the things I have been describing would be to look at the page we have put together for that launch at http://www.awakenedwisdom.com/Public/Amazon/booklaunch/index.cfm. As of this writing, we are still finalising some details on it (and there are a few more JVPs coming along). Of course, I also hope you’ll check out Patrick’s book and sign up for a launch reminder while you’re on that page (I made the video, by the way. Do you like it?).
And if you are on Twitter, follow me at http://twitter.com/LynnSerafinn and you can see some of the Tweets I’m sending out about the book. Hopefully they will give you ideas of how to make your own. Most everything I have learned about online promotion is the result of watching others who know what they are doing, so now it’s my pleasure to invite you to do the same (hopefully I know what I’m doing!).
This article has been a very brief overview of the 5 steps needed to put together your Amazon book campaign. If you’d like to know more about creating, running and benefiting from an Amazon book campaign for your upcoming book, have a look at my 8-week course on the Spirit Authors website: Module 4: Your Book Launch – Designing and Delivering. For a limited time, you can take a 14-day test drive for only $1, and receive some special bonus gifts that are yours to keep just for trying it out.
If you feel you need a more personal touch, fill in a contact form on the Spirit Authors site to request a 1-to-1 consultation. Please be aware that I only take on a limited amount of book launch clients throughout the year, and that we will require 4-6 months to work on your launch, depending upon the strength of your online platform.
I hope you found this whistle-stop tour useful. Drop me a comment below to let me know what you think.