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Archive for January, 2015

I wanna be like Apple (and Starbucks and Whole Foods)!

If you bought an iPhone during the last three months of 2014, you were one of 74.5 MILLION people who did so. That’s one iPhone sold every nine seconds for three straight months. I have an Android phone, but I’m surrounded by iPhone users and definitely see the value. Here’s the lesson most service providers can take from this: you don’t have to compete on price to succeed. In fact, competing on price can actually hurt your bottom line.

iphone 6

When it comes to book sales, there’s a definite range of prices the market will bear for your titles, depending on the genre, format (ebook vs. paperback vs. hardback vs. audiobook), competition, etc. I’ve seen people who’ve written long, self-published novels charging $25 per paperback book. The fact is that an average reader is unlikely to plunk down that kind of cash for an unknown author. However, for those who are selling ancillary products or services related to your books (if you’re not, you should be!), there’s probably room to think about raising your prices, or not setting them at the bottom to begin with.

In order to raise your prices, though, the first person who has to value your products or services is YOU. You cannot possibly sell something to someone else if you don’t believe in it. I remember a coaching session I had years ago when my coach and I discussed this issue for my business. I was reluctant to make the big leap in price she was suggesting, though I did eventually agree to it. She made me rehearse again and again saying out loud how much I charge for my services. I knew the value and expertise I bring to my author and public speaking clients, developed through years of hard work, research, trial-and-error – yet I was afraid that charging more would scare people away. It took many, many repetitions before I could get the words out without my sentence going up at the end, as if I was asking a question. Now, I am selective about my clients, and I ask – and get – what my services are worth.

Yep – there’s a tendency to want to charge less to get the client, particularly for people who are new in their businesses. You can do that, but competing on price is a no-win situation, because there will almost always be someone willing to charge a fraction less. Do you really want to be the low-price leader – the Walmart or Geiko of your industry? Or would you rather follow in the footsteps of Apple, Starbucks, and Whole Foods?

If this concept is new to you, here are a few questions to ask yourself. Do the research and be sure of the answers in order to get to a place where you know your value and are willing to ask for commensurate compensation.

  • Who is the ideal prospect for your product or service?
  • How will they use it?
  • Will it fill a new need, or will it be replacing a product or service already in place?
  • How does your prospect make his or her buying decisions?
  • Which pain points does your product or service address for your prospect?
  • What is your prospect’s opinion about others in your industry and their offerings?
  • How do your industry colleagues promote, price, and sell their products or services?

Know your value. Listen to your prospects tell you what they need. Tell them how you can help them, ask whether they are ready to commit today, and then let them speak – even if it means an uncomfortably long silence.

There are millions of blog posts and books on sales that go into this stuff in much greater depth. Many authors, though, shy away from sales training because they don’t see themselves as salespeople. If you’re not selling and marketing your book, though, you probably have an expensive hobby on your hands.

Here’s to being more like Apple when we grow up!

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

We’re one month into 2015 — are  you READY? If you haven’t yet 2015 Goalsmapped out your book marketing efforts for the New Year, it’s time to get started! Sit down with Laura – in person or via Skype – and review your book marketing plan. We’ll evaluate: what’s working, what isn’t working, and which new strategies you may want to implement for the new year (or your newest book). Regularly $150 for a 45-minute session. Marcie Brock special: $99 for the first five who respond. mktg@WriteMarketDesign.com

 

 

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You seriously have NO excuse for not finishing your book (and neither do I)

This post may be construed as controversial. It may be construed as political. It may unnerve you, piss you off, or motivate you. Any of those responses is fine with me. The thing is, nothing gets done unless we decide to do it. Our books don’t get written, published, marketed, or distributed unless we decide to write them, publish them (or find publishers for them), market them, and distribute them (or find distributors for them). If you haven’t finished your book yet, I’m here to make a recommendation that I, myself, need to follow: GET OVER YOURSELF AND GET IT DONE!

Mohammedou_Ould_Salahi

Mohamedou Ould Slahi has been a detainee at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba since August 4, 2002. By all accounts, he is innocent of any crimes yet he continues to wait with 121 other detainees for trials … release … death. But that’s not the remarkable part. Slahi, who now speaks four languages (Arabic, German, French, and English), learned enough English during his detainment to write a book in English about his torture experience at Gitmo. He finished the book in 2005, but because of the many murky channels of government bureaucracy that had to be negotiated, it was not published until January 20th of this year.

Publication of Guantanamo Diary was due in no small part to the tireless research and persistence of Larry Siems, a writer and human rights advocate who for many years directed the Freedom to Write Program at PEN American Center. In an NPR report from the UK’s The Guardian, Siems detailed the trail and many-layered steps that went into the publishing process of this amazing and all-too-necessary book. Here is a link to an abbreviated piece Siems published January 16 on TheGuardian.com. Siems is credited as the editor and author of the book’s introduction.

The story is harrowing, to say the least. Yet Slahi proves to be the biggest humanitarian of all, in that he says he would one day like to sit and have tea with his captors. Who among us could ever be so gracious? Read an excerpt from the book here.

Now, back to you and me. I’m guessing no one reading this right now is in government lockup. I know I’m not. I’ve got a busy life – especially right now due to a family health crisis. But who among us doesn’t have a busy life? Is that really what we’re telling ourselves and accepting as our excuse for not finishing our books? For not learning the next skill we need to market our books? For not “finding” the money to hire an expert to help us – or do it for us?

Mohamedou Ould Slahi and Larry Siems have proven, undeniably, that where there’s a will, there’s a way.

I’m not here to shame you. I’m in the same boat, remember? I just want to encourage you to set aside your excuses and get your book written, published, and into your readers’ hands. Don’t they deserve to have your knowledge or story to teach them, entertain them, or inspire them?

If you still need a little push, I highly recommend you buy, borrow, or check out from the library Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art. As I’ve mentioned before on this very blog, strap on your seatbelt, though, because this book is going to grab you by the throat and hold on until you’ve screamed “Uncle!”

Let’s make a pact, why don’t we? You take the next step in your publishing process TODAY and come back here and tell us about it in the COMMENTS section of this post. And I’ll do the same. Let’s compare notes and see where we end up. At least one step close to our goals, I’m guessing…

Here’s to banishing the excuses once and for all!

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

We’re one month into 2015 — are  you READY? If you haven’t yet 2015 Goalsmapped out your book marketing efforts for the New Year, it’s time to get started! Sit down with Laura – in person or via Skype – and review your book marketing plan. We’ll evaluate: what’s working, what isn’t working, and which new strategies you may want to implement for the new year (or your newest book). Regularly $150 for a 45-minute session. Marcie Brock special: $99 for the first five who respond. mktg@WriteMarketDesign.com

 

 

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SUNDAY INSPIRATIONS: Understanding reality…

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: “Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It is a way of understanding it.”

Lloyd Alexander quote

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

We’re one month into 2015 — are  you READY? If you haven’t yet 2015 Goalsmapped out your book marketing efforts for the New Year, it’s time to get started! Sit down with Laura – in person or via Skype – and review your book marketing plan. We’ll evaluate: what’s working, what isn’t working, and which new strategies you may want to implement for the new year (or your newest book). Regularly $150 for a 45-minute session. Marcie Brock special: $99 for the first five who respond. mktg@WriteMarketDesign.com

__________________

 

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Exercises in Observation

My family used to tease me that nothing ever escaped me. If someone got new tires, I noticed. Rearranged a small piece of furniture, I saw it. I spotted every new ‘do or piece of clothing. When I was in college, I worked at the local newspaper. One of my friends was an assistant sports editor who routinely shaved his beard the first day of baseball season, when pitchers and catchers Open  your eyesreported for Spring Training, and then stopped shaving the day after the World Series. Before I became familiar with his schedule, I remember seeing him about 4 in the afternoon the day after he’d shaved and noticing his beard was gone. He told me I was the only one who’d noticed. “Several people asked me if I’ve lost weight, though,” he quipped cheerily. “And someone else told me they liked this shirt I’ve worn about a thousand times.” How could you not notice a full beard missing from the face of a man you saw nearly every day?

Observation is an essential skill for a writer. It’s also a really useful one for a book marketer. How can observation enhance your writing? Well, what are you paying attention to? Ideas, details, suggestions, comments that could become lines of dialogue, problems people are trying to solve – all of them surround us daily. If we pay attention, we can incorporate them into our work – both fiction and nonfiction.

EXAMPLES

1. The front page of the January 16, 2015 Arizona Republic had an article titled “8 amazing things from the records at Yuma prison.” The story contains interesting details about prison life in the Old West. “In the days before statehood, Yuma Territorial Prison was the official slammer, and guards there kept copious records. So we read them – tattoos, missing teeth and all.” I thought immediately of an author I know who writes Arizona-based Westerns. Maybe these details aren’t for her – but they would likely be important to some author of Westerns looking to authenticate the setting of a novel in the works.

2. A few days ago, I heard a story on NPR about Walter Brinker, a Vietnam vet who now offers free roadside assistance to stranded motorists up and down the North Carolina highway system. The report explained how, with more than 2,000 free roadside assists behind him, Walter has amassed decades of experience in quick solutions to help people get back on the road without having to call AAA. He’s even put his knowledge into a book of his own, Roadside Survival: Low-tech Solutions to Automobile Breakdowns. That story just conjured images for me that could make for a transformative scene in a contemporary work of fiction. It might also find its way into the next version of my own nonfiction book, Practical Philanthropy: How ‘Giving Back’ Helps You, Your Business, and the World Around You.

3. The main character of my novel in progress, Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World, is on a journey of self-discovery via world travel. It was an audacious undertaking to write a book about many places I’ve never been – thank god for the Internet generally, travel blogs and YouTube specifically. One of the 28 countries Stan visits is the Philippines, where he is struck by the abject poverty in which many Filipinos live. In writing this section of the book, I recalled a Facebook post I’d seen about an amazing project called A Liter of Light. You’d better bet the details of this amazing project to bring light into millions of homes without the use of electricity made it into my novel. This also may be another useful example for Practical Philanthropy.

liter of light

4. Several years ago my sister, my husband, a friend, and I embarked on a screenplay that has been put to the side for now. One of our characters, however, was modeled after a man I met at a gas station. With his carrot-orange hair, a full beard, and missing quite a few teeth, he approached me to ask if I would like an unopened bag of red licorice. “Can’t eat ‘em,” he said, motioning to the absent pearly whites. A woman had offered the candy to him, and he was now offering it to me. In the process of our conversation, I learned that he’d lost his wife about a year earlier, subsequently fell down on his luck, and was now homeless – temporarily, he assured me.

All of these observations were incorporated into my writing projects. But the need for observation is not limited to the writing aspect of the publishing process. The same is true of book marketing opportunities. If you remain vigilant, they show up everywhere.

MORE EXAMPLES

5. The Summer Author Event (Aug. 2014) and Holiday Author Event (Dec. 2014) came out of my noticing some grumbling in the Phoenix Publishing & Book Promotion Meetup about the lack of opportunities for authors to connect with readers. Evidently, Elaine Mays had the same awareness before she began the League of Local Authors, a group that is constantly on the lookout for book signing opportunities. Currently, members participate in several Phoenix-area farmers’ markets a few times a month, and the appearances will certainly expand soon.

6. Robert Scanlan, author of Tigers Under My Bed: Life Lessons Tamed During Three Organ Transplants, put his book in front of several renowned transplant surgeons shortly after its release in May 2014. Now, it is being considered as an ancillary textbook in both the USC and UCLA medical schools.

7. Diana DeLugan wrote a book of ghost tales from the American Southwest. In her efforts to do some research for a second book, The Otero Arizona Land Grant Documentary, she went down to Tubac, Arizona. There, she connected with the proprietor of a hotel and parlayed that connection into a book signing event over Halloween weekend. Great timing for a book of ghost stories, isn’t it?

Good books are the easiest ones to market. Details make for good books. And observation – of people, situations, voids that need filling – is one of the most significant keys to successful marketing.

Open your eyes. Listen up. Get nosy about people. If you’re not great at meeting Mr nosypeople, practice! Try Toastmasters, where you’ll hear (and occasionally have to give) speeches on myriad topics. Read everything. If you typically read only computer magazines, expand your horizons and pick up a copy of Atlantic Monthly. If your politics fall firmly on one side of the aisle, occasionally do some opposition research: read op-eds from writers with opposing views; listen to talk radio shows of people whose opinions you “hate.”

Then, have a way to capture the details as they come in. Use the digital recorder on your smartphone. Carry a notebook with you. Text yourself. Once you begin to discover the wide, wide world around you, you’ll wonder how the small things ever escaped your notice before.

Here’s to seeing with new eyes, hearing with new ears, and writing with new zest!

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

We’re one month into 2015 — are  you READY? If you haven’t yet 2015 Goalsmapped out your book marketing efforts for the New Year, it’s time to get started! Sit down with Laura – in person or via Skype – and review your book marketing plan. We’ll evaluate: what’s working, what isn’t working, and which new strategies you may want to implement for the new year (or your newest book). Regularly $150 for a 45-minute session. Marcie Brock special: $99 for the first five who respond. mktg@WriteMarketDesign.com

 

 

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Life Hacks for Writers

I don’t know about you, but when it comes to learning of apps, sites, devices, and 123 high fiveprocesses that will make my life easier, I am a sponge. I study a new tool, practice with it, and if it works for me, I implement it immediately. A couple weeks ago, we did a post about the concept of life hacks.

LIFE HACK

Any trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method that increases productivity and efficiency, in all walks of life. It is arguably a modern appropriation of a Gordian knot – in other words, anything that solves an everyday problem in an inspired, ingenious manner.*

This being a blog that is indirectly about writing (most of my posts are about other aspects of the publishing process – most importantly, book marketing), it just seemed like a good idea to share a great resource full of life hacks for writers and authors. This post, from LifeHack.org, is titled The Ultimate Writing Productivity Resource.

The resources in this post include:

  • 9 Free Apps Every Writer Should Consider
  • 10 Online Apps and Services Every Writer Should Check Out
  • 10 Sites Every Writer Should Bookmark (Besides Lifehack)
  • 30 Lifehack Posts Every Writer Should Read
  • 5 Online Communities Every Writer Should Join

I am familiar with some of these resources and have checked out others – but you’ll need to do your own due diligence. If it doesn’t work for you, don’t use it. If any of the links are broken, let the author know. My only grievance about this post is that it is undated, meaning I can’t tell you how current it is. The single comment I can see is from November 2014, so I’m extrapolating from that that the post Life hackis fairly recent.

And if you fancy yourself a “lifehacker” or someone who has great tips to share, you might want to apply to become a Lifehack Expert. The image at the side shows just a few of the site’s more recent posts that I found interesting and/or useful.

I think it’s important that authors stick together. If you find a useful tool, the tendency may be to hoard it, thinking, “If I share it, some other author will use it, write a book, and steal my readers.” Really, though? Shouldn’t you just be concerned about writing the best book you can? And, as I’ve noted before, there’s more power in the collective than there is on your own. The Internet is a vast, incalculable warehouse of knowledge. Spend all day, every day just surfing and you will never come across all the useful tools out there. So why try? You share what you know and others share what they know. Sooner than later, the lousy apps, sites, devices, and processes fall away, replaced by great ones that really do make life and writing and marketing easier.

Here are just a couple sites sharing marketing lifehacks:

http://www.b2bmarketing.net/knowledgebank/professional-development/features/marketing-life-hacks

http://www.slideshare.net/NedPoulter/time-money-marketing-lifehacks-33921168

Here’s to sharing what you know to make your writing and marketing projects easier!

Laura

*Source:  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_hacking

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

2015 is RIGHT around the corner — are  you READY? If you haven’t begun 2015 Goalsmapping out your book marketing efforts for the New Year, it’s time to get started! Sit down with Laura – in person or via Skype – and review your book marketing plan. We’ll evaluate: what’s working, what isn’t working, and which new strategies you may want to implement for the new year (or your newest book). Regularly $150 for a 45-minute session. Marcie Brock special: $99 for the first five who respond. mktg@WriteMarketDesign.com

 

 

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SUNDAY INSPIRATIONS: Middle-of-the-night writer…

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: “You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.”

Saul Bellow

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

2015 is RIGHT around the corner — are  you READY? If you haven’t begun 2015 Goalsmapping out your book marketing efforts for the New Year, it’s time to get started! Sit down with Laura – in person or via Skype – and review your book marketing plan. We’ll evaluate: what’s working, what isn’t working, and which new strategies you may want to implement for the new year (or your newest book). Regularly $150 for a 45-minute session. Marcie Brock special: $99 for the first five who respond. mktg@WriteMarketDesign.com

__________________

 

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SUNDAY INSPIRATIONS: Sticking to possibilities…

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: “Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn’t.”

Mark Twain

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

2015 is RIGHT around the corner — are  you READY? If you haven’t begun 2015 Goalsmapping out your book marketing efforts for the New Year, it’s time to get started! Sit down with Laura – in person or via Skype – and review your book marketing plan. We’ll evaluate: what’s working, what isn’t working, and which new strategies you may want to implement for the new year (or your newest book). Regularly $150 for a 45-minute session. Marcie Brock special: $99 for the first five who respond. mktg@WriteMarketDesign.com

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