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Who’s inside your Inner Circle?

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received about successfully launching your book – and yourself, for that matter – is to marshal the forces you already have at your disposal. Take a long, hard look at your virtual Rolodex and identify the members of your inner circle. Could be 25 people, 50 people, even 100. The pointinner circle is, these are the people who are loyal to you, who love what you do, who support you, who will go out of their way for you, who’ve been with you for the long haul, and who – when you need them most – will give you honest answers to difficult questions and help you launch your book, product, or business.

Think of these folks as a team of ambassadors or raving fans. Some may already consider themselves a part of your team. Some may be flattered when you officially invite them to join your insiders’ club. Some may thank you and decline, as they prefer to offer their support on their own terms and/or may be busy running businesses and lives of their own.

So what are the most important traits you want the members of your insiders’ club to possess?

  • Be sure they are individuals you trust and respect, who conduct themselves with character and integrity.
  • Try for a group with a variety of skills, talents, and personalities (e.g., a good mix of introverts and extroverts).
  • Look for the people who’ve already proven they are willing to stay the course with you – the ones who’ve seen you through the most amazing successes and have also stood by you through life’s inevitable downturns.
  • You may want some strong team players, as well as a few lone wolves.
  • Surround yourself with people who share your vision and enthusiasm for your goals.
  • Of course you want those who are competent and have proven track records in their own areas of expertise.
  • And, perhaps most importantly, ally yourself with influencers – just remember that someone needn’t be the gregarious life of the party to hold lots of sway with the audience you are trying to reach.

Next, figure out exactly what you want these folks to do for you. Perhaps it’s helping you with your crowdfunding campaign. Maybe it’s sending out announcements about your book launch. It could be retweeting your hashtags or sharing your Facebook and LinkedIn posts. Perhaps it’s much more subtle, in that they simply mention you in conversation to the influencers in their own circles.

In exchange for their advice and support, you can find great ways to reward your inner circle. Ideas include:

  • Giving them the chance to read and comment on your rough drafts
  • Providing advance reader copies (ARCs) and asking them for blurbs
  • Sending them autographed copies of the printed book in advance of your actual launch date
  • Hosting a private VIP event for them
  • Naming characters after them or using their stories as case studies in your next book

Lastly, find a great name to call these insiders. Laura’s Lemmings and Marcie’s Mascots are probably not the best ideas. Some call them insiders’ clubs or VIP clubs. Put on your SBM* thinking cap and come up with a great name that resonates with your book(s), your brand, and your specific group of insiders.

Here’s to identifying your inner tribe!

Laura

*Savvy Book Marketer

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

PHOENIX-AREA BOOK LOVERS: Come out to meet me and 50+ other local authors for this one-of-a-kind book Logo w backgroundlovers’ event. Several first-time authors, award-winning authors, and authors of a wide variety of genres will be on hand to sell and sign books. Genres of all sorts – from fiction to spirituality to leadership to personal finance. The first 200 attendees to register will receive goody bags! Giveaways on the half-hour. Learn more and get your complimentary ticket at HolidayAuthorEvent.com.

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SUNDAY INSPIRATIONS: Much of the writer’s work is solitary, but…

Sunday Inspirations. Send us your favorite quote, image, poem, idea … anything that has been helpful or inspirational to your writing process. If we love it, we may use it as is, or take the inspiration and modify it in some way. Give us a link to your website or blog and we’ll be sure to give you credit! Email inspiration@writemarketdesign.com or post your suggestion in the comment section below!

Here’s today’s inspiration: “Much of the writer’s work is solitary; I thrive on talking to other people about their vivid personal experiences that touch on the subjects I write about every day.” This quote is unattributed because I found it jotted at the bottom of a completely unrelated document. Perhaps something I read? Or heard in a seminar? I Googled it with zero results … so if you know who said/wrote it, please let me know!

vivid personal experiences

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

PHOENIX-AREA BOOK LOVERS: Come out to meet me and 50+ other local authors for this one-of-a-kind book Logo w backgroundlovers’ event. Several first-time authors, award-winning authors, and authors of a wide variety of genres will be on hand to sell and sign books. Genres of all sorts – from fiction to spirituality to leadership to personal finance. The first 200 attendees to register will receive goody bags! Giveaways on the half-hour. Learn more and get your complimentary ticket at HolidayAuthorEvent.com.

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What’s your book signing attention-getter?

 

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word “gimmick”?

gimmickInterestingly, the English Language & Usage Stack Exchange website offers the following pieces, in relation to “gimmick.”

QUESTION

Does the word gimmick have a positive or negative meaning? It is not obvious to me from a Wikipedia article. I also would be glad if someone could explain it in two words, not several paragraphs spread across ten articles as in wiki. I understand that there are several meanings, but what do you think about when you first hear it?

ANSWERS

It definitely has a negative connotation. It is a trick advertisers use to get your attention or to get you into their stores.

***

Yes. It can be either positive or negative depending upon context. Magicians, for example, usually use it in a positive context.

***

[G]immick implies something added on to an object or product to make the object more appealing than other similar objects, despite that fact that it might have nothing to do with the purpose of the object.

Regardless of your personal emotional response to the word gimmick, the fact remains that having an attention-getter as a regular facet of your book signings is a winning strategy.

Mary Ellen Stepanich is the author of a memoir titled D Is for Dysfunctional and Doo-Wop. Mary d is for dysfunctionEllen and her Doo Wop quartet have been singing barbershop style four-part music for more than a decade, having a ball performing for audiences throughout Arizona. Here’s the thing: Lilac Crazy, Mary Ellen’s quartet, accompanies her and performs at every book signing!

So I’m guessing the chances that you have any sort of regular musical accompaniment at your signings is fairly slim. Here’s the question: WHAT could you do, wear, or use as an attention-grabber that will set your book signings apart from others and create some authentic word-of-mouth interest?

LA Mascone is preparing to release her first novel, The Moondead, just in time for the holiday season.

moondead

When two gruesome slayings turn a remote desert city in Arizona upside down, Major Crimes lead night detective, Lt. John Padric, goes searching for answers. Local media is all over the story, calling the victims the moondead. Someone is targeting priests and nuns in the fictitious city of L’Arroyo; they’re dying on moonlit nights, the crime scenes macabre. A chance encounter brings an assist from archeologist-turned-nun, Sister Magdalen, and the convent of San Miguel. The cop and the nun meet when the detective must deliver the news that one of their Sisters was found dead of a near-decapitation.CARD 21 grandfather clock.jpg

A quartet wouldn’t quite be appropriate for Mascone’s book signing. But would you sit up and take note if a character woman in a nun’s habit appeared from the midst of the crowd at a book signing?

What could you do to garner similar attention at your own signing events? Are you the author of a Mexican food cookbook? How about a sarape and sombrero? Story about a mouse that lives in a grandfather clock? How hard would it be to cart along a cardboard grandfather clock prop to your book signing and play a background recording of the clock tolling?

Would these be gimmicky? Maybe. Is that a bad thing? Of course not – especially if you sell more books! So get over your fear of the word “gimmick” and embrace the PR stunt that will help people remember you and your books.

Here’s to making yourself memorable!

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

PHOENIX-AREA BOOK LOVERS: Come out to meet me and 50+ other local authors for this one-of-a-kind book Logo w backgroundlovers’ event. Several first-time authors, award-winning authors, and authors of a wide variety of genres will be on hand to sell and sign books. Genres of all sorts – from fiction to spirituality to leadership to personal finance. The first 200 attendees to register will receive goody bags! Giveaways on the half-hour. Learn more and get your complimentary ticket at HolidayAuthorEvent.com.

__________________

 

 

SUNDAY INSPIRATIONS: Procrastination time

Sunday Inspirations. Send us your favorite quote, image, poem, idea … anything that has been helpful or inspirational to your writing process. If we love it, we may use it as is, or take the inspiration and modify it in some way. Give us a link to your website or blog and we’ll be sure to give you credit! Email inspiration@writemarketdesign.com or post your suggestion in the comment section below!

Here’s today’s inspiration: “Most of those people who claim to take years to write a book are counting procrastination time.”

countin procrastination

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

PHOENIX-AREA BOOK LOVERS: Come out to meet me and 50+ other local authors for this one-of-a-kind book Logo w backgroundlovers’ event. Several first-time authors, award-winning authors, and authors of a wide variety of genres will be on hand to sell and sign books. Genres of all sorts – from fiction to spirituality to leadership to personal finance. The first 200 attendees to register will receive goody bags! Giveaways on the half-hour. Learn more and get your complimentary ticket at HolidayAuthorEvent.com.

__________________

 

Use – or create – a style guide for a professional finish

You may remember it: the woman athlete running with a giant sledgehammer in hand. The unnamed heroine hurls the implement at a giant screen, saving humanity from “conformity” and thereby introducing the Macintosh apple-1984-runnercomputer to the world during a break in the third quarter of the 1984 Super Bowl. While I sincerely doubt my father ever saw this ad (he was not a sports fan and seldom watched anything on TV besides the news and PBS), he was on the cutting edge, as he bought my sister and me the very first Mac Classic to aid in our studies. This was pre-pre-pre-Internet. Today we regularly send email attachments larger than the 4 mg memory of the entire Mac Classic.

So I grew up a Mac user. And it was in the book The Mac Is Not a Typewriter that I was first introduced to the idea that with desktop publishing applications, it was no longer necessary to use two spaces after a period. The reason for this is that the letters on typewriters were all uniformly spaced, meaning that a lowercase “i” or “l” took up the same amount of space in a line of type as a “w” or “m” even though the latter two are significantly wider. If you want to see this at work, check out the Courier typeface example below.

courier

In modern typography, letters take up only their actual width, so the shape of a word contributes to its readability. In documents created on traditional typewriters, every letter took up the same amount of space, so the extra space between sentences was necessary to indicate the end of a sentence for the reader. I never took a formal typing class, so I’ll admit that this was not an enormous adjustment for me to make. However, I’ve recently been doing lots of editing for a group blog by authors for authors, and I’m noticing that many, many of our authors still use two spaces after a period. I’m guessing they didn’t get the memo.

So what, right? Sort of. The thing is, since I coordinate and edit this group blog, I get to decide on the styles we use. What does that mean? It means using H2 style for every subheading. One space after periods. OK, as opposed to okay. Putting all resource boxes in italics. En dashes ( – ) with one space on either side, as opposed to em dashes with no space (—). No http:// to start web addresses. Using periods to break the segments of a phone number. You get the idea.

The particular styles matter less than consistency in applying them. If you haven’t adopted a professional style guide for your books/writing, you may want to think about creating one of your own – particularly if you write fantasy or use a language, symbols, or terminology of your own creation. IntelligentEditing.com offers an excellent post with tips for creating your own style guide.

While there’s no rule that says you must use a style guide, adopting or creating one will give your editor some standards to follow and give all of your writing a more finished, professional look.

Here’s to consistency in your work!

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

PHOENIX-AREA BOOK LOVERS: Come out to meet me and 50+ other local authors for this one-of-a-kind book Logo w backgroundlovers’ event. Several first-time authors, award-winning authors, and authors of a wide variety of genres will be on hand to sell and sign books. Genres of all sorts – from fiction to spirituality to leadership to personal finance. The first 200 attendees to register will receive goody bags! Giveaways on the half-hour. Learn more and get your complimentary ticket at HolidayAuthorEvent.com.

__________________

 

 

Nonprofit partnerships: Due diligence required on both sides

The conversation during a recent meeting of the Phoenix Publishing and Book Promotion Meetup turned to the topic of partnering with a nonprofit as an excellent way of marketing one’s book. Kebba Buckley Button, a member of the group, expanded on the topic in her Nov. 2nd post for our group blog.

Partners

In her post, Kebba gives the example of the very specific steps one might take to partner with a food bank organization, including things like:

  • Offering talks or trainings
  • Donating a percentage of book sales to the organization
  • Joining a committee or the board of the food bank
  • Creating relationships with the organizations that provide volunteers to the food bank
  • Expanding the outreach to national and international organizations that support the same or parallel causes

All told, it is an exceptional post that provides concrete steps one could take toward creating a meaningful partnership with a nonprofit to benefit both the organization and the author.

Interestingly, however, another member of the Meetup came back to me with the following equally important questions:

On the matter of collaboration between an author and a charity: Do you have information about accountability and set up? How does one ensure that the charity in question gets what is due them? How can they protect their reputation and credibility? It would seem that the direct mailing and accounting involved is difficult, time-consuming work.

As I initially interpreted the question, I read it as the author asking how to make sure they were partnering with a reputable nonprofit. While that is an excellent question, this is actually asking the reverse: How does the nonprofit protect its reputation when choosing its partners? Two sides of the same coin, really.

First, from the author’s side of the equation:

As with almost everything in life, an author would certainly need to do his/her due diligence and research the nonprofit before committing to a partnership. Two good resources that offer checklists for consideration are:

(1) http://www.npgoodpractice.org/category/guide-categories-and-concepts/board-members-guide-partnership-planning/due-diligence

(2) http://www.nonprofitlawblog.com/mergers-due-diligence-items.

I would also suggest that the author ask for referrals to a few clients/beneficiaries of the nonprofit to see if/how the organization’s goods/services are distributed. Any hesitation by the nonprofit to provide such names should raise red flags.

Secondly, from the nonprofit’s side of the equation:

While many people are under the impression that corporate donations make up the majority of nonprofit funding, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Nonprofits rely hugely on the goodwill of their volunteers and donors to sustain themselves. In fact, the National Center for Charitable Statistics provides the following statistics for 2012 charitable contributions in the United States.

nonprofit donations

And often, charities hold funding drives and campaigns in which donors, large and small alike, offer what amount to promissory notes. The thing is, the auditors require those charities to record these promised amounts as actual donations. What’s the nonprofit’s next job? Collect on all that promised money, of course! So when you see that telethon or open the door to the neighbor kid who’s collecting for next weekend’s bowl-a-thon and say you’ll give $50, but you never get around to writing or mailing your check, however inadvertently, you’ve actually shorted the charity on the money it’s already recorded as RECEIVED in its ledgers.

The same would be true for any promises an author makes to deliver in a partnership with a nonprofit. The organization has no choice but to take you at your word that you will actually come through with that promised percentage of your book sales or promotion of its cause in your newsletter or offer to speak at its next fundraiser. If the author welches, the organization is left holding an empty bag.

What can the nonprofit do to protect itself? Same sorts of due diligence the author would do. Ask for references. Google the author. Find out how long he or she has been in town, and the other sorts of community involvement he or she has on record.

Lastly, I would recommend a very thorough documentation of the precise terms of agreement for both parties: what the author is expected to deliver and the dates for delivery, as well as what the nonprofit promises to do/provide in exchange. Partnership can most definitely be a win-win for both the organization and the author – as long as both sides benefit and honor their agreements.

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

PHOENIX-AREA BOOK LOVERS: Come out to meet me and 50+ other local authors for this one-of-a-kind book Logo w backgroundlovers’ event. Several first-time authors, award-winning authors, and authors of a wide variety of genres will be on hand to sell and sign books. Genres of all sorts – from fiction to spirituality to leadership to personal finance. The first 200 attendees to register will receive goody bags! Giveaways on the half-hour. Learn more and get your complimentary ticket at HolidayAuthorEvent.com.

__________________

 

 

A book signing success story

At a recent meeting of the Phoenix Publishing and Book Promotion Meetup, we discussed the where’s, why’s, and how’s of planning a live book tour. Understandably, authors report varying success with and preference/dislike for book tours. Drawbacks mentioned include the fact that they take time to plan, can be costly, and provide access to a limited number of prospective readers.

As we head into the last month of marketing in preparation for the Phoenix Holiday Author Event, coming up on daugher sonDecember 6, I’d like to share a quick story about the power that can come of a face-to-face signing opportunity. This is my second go-round at planning a big, multi-author event. The first was the Phoenix Summer Author Event, which took place back in August. One of the authors who participated in that event was Betsie Harvie. Her book, My Daughter, My Son, is the story of an adolescent’s gender transition, as experienced by mother and child.

At the age of thirteen, after years of battling depression and body dysphoria, Luca came out to his mother as a boy trapped in a girl’s body. After recovering from the initial shock and emotional anguish of losing her daughter, Betsie embraced and supported her son’s female-to-male transition. She’s battled psychiatrists, doctors, and educators for her son’s rights, safety, and dignity. As her blurb on the Holiday Author Event website describes, “Betsie is an insightful expert about what it takes to love and raise a transsexual child. She hopes her experiences and commitment to unconditional love will help others.”

The Summer Author Event allowed Betsie to do just that. A friend of mine, Scottsdale interior designer Katie Strand, told me a week or so after the event that while she enjoyed herself, she spent the first hour or so there wondering why she’d gone. She’s a reader, but has plenty of books at home and didn’t really feel a need to buy any new titles. Nevertheless, perhaps the pressure of networking and the power of my delightfully designed postcards worked, because Katie found herself at the Summer Author Event in spite of herself. And while she was there, an unexpected thing happened.

It turns out that a neighbor of Katie’s has a child who’s going through an experience similar to Luca’s with a desire for a gender reassignment. The mother is supportive, but the ex-husband father is adamantly opposed and fighting her at every turn. Katie took Betsie’s information and passed it on to her neighbor. With estimates putting the number of the population who identify as transgender at 1 percent, it’s vital that this mother no longer feels that she’s going it alone. Perhaps Katie’s neighbor would have come across Betsie’s book anyway. Maybe she might even have met her at a support group. But the fact is that a crucial connection was made at the perfect time – a connection that occurred only because of a live book signing event. Betsie will be joining us again for the Holiday Author Event.

Getting out from behind the computer to meet real people is, in my humble opinion, always a good idea. Plan carefully and set realistic limits on your tour. But meet people in person, share your book with them, and come back and tell us your stories here.

Here’s to a successful book tour!

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

PHOENIX-AREA BOOK LOVERS: Come out to meet me and 50+ other local authors for this one-of-a-kind book Logo w backgroundlovers’ event. Several first-time authors, award-winning authors, and authors of a wide variety of genres will be on hand to sell and sign books. Genres of all sorts – from fiction to spirituality to leadership to personal finance. The first 200 attendees to register will receive goody bags! Giveaways on the half-hour. Learn more and get your complimentary ticket at HolidayAuthorEvent.com.

__________________

 

 

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