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You can have results or excuses – not both!

THE. LAST. POST. Day 35 of the 5-Week Author Blog Challenge asks what I will do to keep up the momentum the Challenge has helped me create. All 35 posts for this Challenge were focused on writing, publishing, and book marketing. I hope you’ll go back and read some of the other 34 posts if you’re just happening on this one by happy accident.

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Day 35 writing prompt:

What are you going to do to keep the blogging momentum going? What plans do you have to continue your connection with other Author Blog Challenge participants and the new readers you’ve generated for your blog?

So, I’ll admit there are good things and bad things about a Challenge the forces you to write every day, like:

  • You’re writing every day.
  • Your writing improves when you write every day.
  • When you have prompts, it’s easier to write every day.

There are also frustrating things about a Challenge that forces you to write every day, like:

  • You have no excuse not to write, even if you don’t feel like it.results or excuses
  • It takes a lot of time, if you’re going to write thoughtful posts that other people will actually enjoy reading. They don’t have to be long, but they do have to be good. I’ve read some of the posts from my fellow Author Blog Challenge participants. As might be expected, they vary from outstanding to just-get-it-done in quality. But the good ones aren’t necessarily the longest ones.
  • In taking time to write thoughtful posts, I’m not spending as much time on my novel, which I am committed to finishing by the day before Thanksgiving. As the host, of course, my time commitment is greater than those who are simply participating.

But I liked being productive. I liked seeing my readership go up and getting feedback from readers. My blog’s not really about my novel, though, so I think it’s time to turn back to my primary focus: book marketing for self-publishing authors. I certainly tried to make most of my Blog Challenge posts about my own experience useful to the readers … but sometimes you have to read all the way to the end to get to the “useful part.”

To that end, I will issue myself a new personal challenge: To write 3 content posts per week, along with my regular Sunday Inspirations. And to finish my novel by November 25th. I will also post every blog post on the ABC Facebook page – and encourage all the other participants to do the same!

What are YOUR publishing goals? What are you doing to get them done? A friend of mine started a FB group 100 dayswhere a group of motivated people are getting together to cheer each other on for the last 100 days of the year. We’re posting our business goals, personal goals, and the steps we’re taking to get there. Today it’s 76 days until the end of the year. Are you speeding or coasting to the finish line?

So there it is: 35 days of blog posts in a row – with a few bonuses thrown in. Thank you for reading, whether you’re just reading this post or have been with me all the way through! Whatever else you do, keep writing!

We’ll do another Challenge, maybe six months or a year from now. Stick around. Details will arrive in your inbox if you’re a subscriber. Maybe next time you’ll join as a participant!

And for the record, I’d love your feedback on my Author Blog Challenge posts! And, of course, would really love to have you support all of the bloggers in the Challenge. Find their links here.

To a YOUR writing and publishing success!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________SM for authors COVER

If you’re new to social media, my book Social Media for Authors goes into much greater detail about when, how, and where to post for the greatest chances at succeeding with your specific goals. Get your copy today! It’s never too early to begin planning!

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35 days … Will I finish my book or finish the Author Blog Challenge first?

Well, if you’ve been reading along for the last week or so, you’re aware that I’m launching a new Author Blog Challenge today. That makes this the first of 35 consecutive days’ posts, all on the topic of writing, publishing, and book marketing. I hope you’ll stick around through all 35 posts. And if you want to take part, come on in – the water is great! You can register here.

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Day 1 writing prompt:

What are your goals for the Author Blog Challenge? Do you want to introduce new readers to your writing? Increase traffic to your blog? Get in some extra writing practice? Share your very important message with the world? Use your first post to talk about why you joined the ABC, what your goals are, and what you hope to learn from the experience. In short, let your readers know that you’re participating in the ABC and why.

As the ringleader of this little adventure known as the 5-Week Author Blog Challenge, I find myself in the position of REALLY needing to meet the Challenge by 3d coverwriting posts to address all of the prompts that I created. Sometimes, this is an easy task. Other times, like when life or my business or my husband demand call for immediate attention, it’s not as easy to just bang out the posts.

I could have cheated – ahem, planned – and written ahead (everyone can see 5 days’ advance posts), but to me, that doesn’t seem to serve the spirit of the Challenge. It may yet happen, but not today!

This is the longest of the three Author Blog Challenges, beating the inaugural one in 2012 by seven days. I went back and borrowed a bunch of prompts from that challenge, and reviewed my posts in the process. Interesting how I’m pretty sure I’ll answer virtually none of the posts in the same way, which is good for Marcie’s SEO, and for her long-time readers.

These days, I’m pushing to finish my first novel, Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World, so all of my posts that are related to a specific book will be geared at that one. I’ve admittedly been working on it for a very long time, and it’s limping its way to completion. The good news is that I like the story – and my characters – more and more and more as I spend more and more and more time with them. Now, it’s time to finish things up so I can send them out into the world for the rest of you to meet!

So I hope you’ll stay with me for the next 34 days of this excursion into my personal thoughts about writing, publishing, and book marketing, as applied to my own books (rather than my clients’ books).

Would love any feedback! And, of course, would really love to have you support all of the bloggers in the Challenge. Find their links here. If you have time to read only one other post today, please check out Josh Hoyt’s blog!

Saddle up, ’cause here we go!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________Anatomy of a Book Launch

If you’re getting ready to launch your book and would like help to put together a successful event, download my free special report: Anatomy of a Book Launch. Then CALL me at 602.518.5376 to schedule your complimentary 15-minute consultation. It’s never too early to begin planning!

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Stumped for blog post topics? Author Blog Challenge to the rescue!

A little stumped for subjects for your blog posts? The Author Blog Challenge will help! We’re daily-writing-promptgetting ready to launch the third Author Blog Challenge tomorrow, Sept. 13. This one gets back to basics, with a focus on writing and publishing. Every day of this 5-week challenge (35 days), we’ll offer a writing prompt you can use for the day’s post – or you can write on the topic of your choice. The biggest caveat is that you must have your own blog on which to post!

Just to whet your appetite, here are the first four days’ prompts:

DAY 1
What are your goals for the Author Blog Challenge? Do you want to introduce new readers to your writing? Increase traffic to your blog? Get in some extra writing practice? Share your very important message with the world? Use your first post to talk about why you joined the ABC, what your goals are, and what you hope to learn from the experience. In short, let your readers know that you’re participating in the ABC and why.

DAY 2
When did you begin writing? Describe your earliest memory of writing. Are you formally trained, or did your writing begin as a hobby? How did your writing habit/process/career develop?

DAY 3
What kinds of classes, programs, or workshops have you taken to hone your skill as a writer? What sorts of exercises did/do you use to improve? Have you ever taught a writing class or workshop?

DAY 4
Who are your writing role models? Whose writing has most influenced you? Who are your writing mentors?

A blog challenge is a great chance to improve your writing, draw new readers (and subscribers) to your blog, expose your book/writing to potential new fans, demonstrate your expert status, and connect with other talented authors. Will it take some commitment? Of course! But anything worth doing takes commitment.

Everything is spelled out on the Author Blog Challenge site. Peruse the Guidelines­, Prompts­, Giveaways­, and posts­. Then REGISTER­ to take part!

Here’s to your BLOGGING success!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Want to learn lots more about launching a successful media campaign to help you build your author platform? Book your complimentary 20-minute consultation (phone or Skype). Or get my comprehensive book, The Author’s Media Tool Kit today!

602.518.5376 or phxazlaura on Skype

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When it comes to your author blog, trust the process

The most recent topic at the Phoenix Publishing and Book Promotion Meetup was “Blogging Success Tips for Authors.” We’ve covered blogging at length before here at the Marcie Brock blog. Here’s link to a number of our posts about author blogging.

TRUST THE PROCESS.

TRUST THE PROCESS.

While we’ve offered lots of guidance around creating and maintaining a successful blog (defined as one that gets traction, shows up in the search engines, and positions you as the expert you are), here’s a recap of some of the most important success tips:

  1. Determine your goals for blogging.
  2. Identify your target audience.
  3. Identify the topics/themes that are important to your target audience.
  4. Upon launching your blog, post 40 to 50 days in a row.
  5. Decide how often you will post.
  6. Always include a call to action!
  7. Use an image with every post.
  8. Make time to blog.
  9. Calendar your blogging time – and stick to it.
  10. Write ahead and post later.
  11. Let your readers know your posting schedule.
  12. Read and comment intelligently on other related blogs.
  13. Avoid sending mixed messages, or failing to stay on topic.
  14. Make it easy to subscribe to your blog.
  15. Get your SEO keywords right.
  16. Be patient – results take time.

Mind you, this is just the recap of a prior post that expands on all 16 points.

During our Meetup, when we got to #4 – upon launching your blog, post 40 to 50 days in a row – the response was pretty typical. Gasps, followed by the one-word question: “Really?” Yes, really.

Here’s the thing. Blogs are much more dynamic than traditional websites, because the well-maintained ones are continually adding new content, and search engine spiders love new content. When you’re first launching your blog, you’ve got to prove to the search engines that you mean business by showing up day after day and week after week with brand new content. Once they see new content continually show up on your blog, they will begin to add your data to search engine results pages (SERP), provided that you’ve done a good job tagging each post with proper keywords.

Translation: People will type in your keywords and start finding your blog posts.

I’ve offered this advice to a number of clients. One was a few years ago, and he was really skeptical at the get-go. Then, six or seven weeks went by, and I received a call from him. “Hey, guess what! My blog is picking up traction. People are starting to read it and comment on my posts, and my subscribers are increasing. You were right, after all.”

And so it goes. Here’s an excerpt from a post from the most recent client I advised about the importance of blogging.

So I was set this challenge by my publicist “write 50 blogs in 50 days” including Saturdays and Sundays. This she promised me will get much needed traffic to my blog. She also said that the blogs should be 300 – 500 words in length and when I can, make the content about something topical. (You just got a piece of free advice).

This sounds like work to me. Blogging for me is when I feel inspired to say something or share an opinion. I do not own a television, I stay away from news websites and I do not listen to talk radio. It’s not that I don’t want to know what is going on but I get so disillusioned when I read or hear news that the Ku Klux Clan is recruiting in North Carolina, or about murders by people who are there to “protect and serve”, or about bombs in Israel and Palestine, or that girls are stolen and not yet returned, or about kids who are locked in cars in sweltering US summer heat, or that the media is giving us hope by telling us what movie stars are doing.

To maintain my sanity and my peace of mind I usually stay away from all media and live in my own little bubble of words.

Maxine Attong has written a new book, Lead Your Team to Win, about creating a Safe Space in the workplace. A #SafeSpaceAttong_cover is critical to a well-functioning team because it allows every team member to take risks, learn, grow, and ultimately perform at optimal levels. I’ll have more details soon about her October 3 virtual launch. In the meantime, visit her blog. Her posts are thoughtful and conversational, just like she is.

And yet, even though the idea of blogging daily for 50 straight days initially seemed daunting to Maxine, she’s starting to see results, just like my other client did. Just like I did. Just like you will, if you follow through, keep blogging, and trust the process.

Sure, it’s easy to get discouraged when it feels like you’re blogging into the wind. Hanging your heartfelt words or well-researched posts out for the world to see, yet no one seems to see them. Remember, you are trying to make a dent in the INTERNET. You are trying to grab your little share of attention, notoriety, and fanfare on a very crowded stage. It won’t happen overnight. And it won’t happen at all if you give up on it, do it haphazardly, or do it once every six months.

Follow the steps above and see where it leads you. In 40 or 50 days, come back and tell us how it’s going. Share the link for your author blog with me, and I’ll add it the list of author blogs on my sidebar. I’ve repeatedly made this offer, and have only had 2 takers. You can be #3!

Here’s to all my fellow author bloggers!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Check out Laura’s newest book, Practical Philanthropy: How ‘Giving Back’ Helps You, Your Business, and the World Around You. A percentage of all book sales is donated to Art4TheHomeless.org and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

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Book marketing is about SHOWING UP!

Libraries and bookstores are dangerous places for writers, especially aspiring authors. On more than one occasion, I’ve found myself looking around at the shelves and piles and stacks of books, thinking, “What could I possibly have to say that hasn’t been said before?” The other day, I was walking through the mystery section of Phoenix’s main library and found myself on this train of thought:

I wonder how many books the library buys just sit on the shelf and never get checked out. They sit there quietly watching people wander the aisles, hoping, “Pick me! Pick me!” They quiver with excitement as the hand reaches out … to grab the book next to them … again. Each time they’re overlooked, they’re saddened that they’re not living their purpose.

I also wonder about the path of the books that wind up at the dollar store.

standout

The point of this post isn’t to discourage you. It’s to say, I GET IT! It’s a big job to write a book. Bigger still to publish a book you can be proud of. But the really hard work is in creating an interest in your book in the middle of a very crowded field. Bowker (the company that issues ISBNs) estimates there were 391,000 self-published books last year. If you read many book publishing blogs, it’s easy to get down, because so many of them focus on how so few authors are able to make a living at writing and how few authors actually sell books, mostly because they’re just not very good marketers.

When I first started this blog, three years ago tomorrow, I began with one post and zero readers. Then I added another post. And another post. And slowly the readers came. Now we’ve got lots of regular readers, and new people are subscribing daily. I still get distracted and step away from the blog occasionally, and I never post as often as I want to, but I keep at it, and in doing so, I’ve accomplished more than 95 PERCENT of all bloggers. That’s right. It’s estimated that as many as 95 percent of the 152 million (or so) blogs in existence have been abandoned by their owners/creators. Which just serves to emphasize that one of the most important parts of marketing is to actually do it regularly – to decide to show up and keep showing up!

At the start of this blog, I talked a lot about how important it is for authors to think – and act – like marketers. The problem is that very few authors do. That’s why they’re don’t sell very many books and get discouraged. Most authors – most business owners, I think, regardless of their industry – would much rather work on their area of expertise than take on marketing tasks. But if you’re a solopreneur, or an author with aspirations of making a dent in the Amazon chart or guaranteeing that your book gets checked out of the library, marketing has to be a significant focus. 

It doesn’t matter if you don’t like marketing. It doesn’t matter if you (think you) are not good at it. You must embrace it, or let your fantastic book wither away in a tiny, unexplored corner of the Internet where a handful of people will be lucky to stumble across it. Remember, 95 percent of bloggers quit. How many authors do you think quit marketing, or never get started in the first place? So how hard is it, really, to gain at least some  recognition for your book?

Books are such interesting items to market because they’re so personal. A book is not a commodity like tires or groceries or things we use and replace. Nor are most books a significant investment, like a car. They’re in the middle there – things we buy to help us solve problems or entertain us or give us ideas or teach us something. Sure, a voracious reader can plow through a couple books a week, but that’s rare, and he or she is more than likely not your market. You are looking to connect with a reader who will value your story or your information or both. And the only way to do that is to find him … which means marketing to him.

This means creating a website. It means blogging. It means learning to use social media for things other than posting pictures of adorable animals. It means learning how to create short videos. It means learning how to write news releases and what to do with them. It means finding a Toastmasters group and getting over your public speaking fears. It means partnering with nonprofits that share your goals and vision. It means asking for opportunities, instead of waiting for them to come to you.

Yep, at the very least it’s going to take the investment of some time. I run the Phoenix Publishing and Book Promotion Meetup, which meets twice a month for a couple hours per session. Though there are 120 official members in the group, we’ve got about 25 aspiring authors who regularly show up to get educated and share ideas about various aspects of book publishing and marketing. At the end of every meeting, we each announce the action steps we plan to take before the next Meetup. Then we publish those action steps on our closed Facebook group. And at the beginning of every session, we start by asking whether or not people met the goals they set for themselves. This provides accountability and support. Maybe there’s a similar group in your area. If not, who do you know who could help you start one?

If you want to spend less time on the marketing, you’re going to need to spend some money. I’m getting ready to launch a marketing mastermind for authors (and aspiring authors) who want to move off the sidelines and really master the art of marketing. If you’ve been reading this blog quietly for some time, but have not acted on any of the dozens of marketing ideas we’ve discussed – particularly out of fear that you still don’t know all you need to know – perhaps this mastermind is right for you. Please email me at mastermind@writemarketdesign.com to request an application.

Marketing is not an innate skill for most people. I was blessed to have masterful teachers – but I also had a thirst for knowledge and a willingness to work hard to master the things I learned. You’ve written (or are writing) a great book. Now it’s time to invest in yourself so that you can get that book into the hands of the people who need it!

Happy marketing!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below."Practical Philanthropy" book cover

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Check out Laura’s newest book, Practical Philanthropy: How ‘Giving Back’ Helps You, Your Business, and the World Around You. A percentage of all book sales is donated to Art4TheHomeless.org and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

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december tip of day

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for Marcie Brock – Book Marketing Maven. We were quiet for a great deal of this year – and still we managed to snag a few visitors. Woo-hoo!

For example:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. Marcie’s blog was viewed about 15,000 times in 2013. If we were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see us!

Click here to read the complete report about how Marcie fared in 2013.

What does this mean for our Tip of the Day? It’s simple.

Everyone is bound to hit a slow point, a time when your time, enthusiasm, and/or know-how just seem to wane – but that doesn’t mean you have pack it in and give up on your dream of creating a book people like so much they tell everyone they know. Pick up where you left off and … keep on keeping on. Keep blogging. Keep writing media releases. Keep updating your Facebook page. Keep tweeting. Keep building relationships with book bloggers in your genre. Keep pursuing speaking engagements. Keep thanking the people who’ve helped you come this far. Keep setting goals!

So what if you fail? At least you’re moving in the right direction – the key word being MOVING.

There’s an old Will Rogers quote that says: “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.

What are your marketing plans for 2014? Share your best ideas in the comments section and we’ll put together a post with all of them!

Happy New Year to all!

Laura & Marcie

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Want a professional book cover that doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg? Visit our website Template 5to peruse our selection of 25 book cover templates, and download our complimentary special report, “Book Elements: Organizing the Parts of Your Book” TODAY! 

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Winter Author Blog Challenge #1: The Genesis of Marcie Brock

Woo-hoo! The Winter Author Blog Challenge is underway. This time around, the Challenge is just 15 days, and our focus is social media. The goal is for participants to post all 15 days, following the daily prompts provided, if they so choose. As with the inaugural Author Blog Challenge that took place last summer, I’ll be playing along with all of the posts, even though Marcie and I are the hosts!

With that, here’s the first prompt:

Tell us about your blog. How long have you been blogging? Do you write on a regular schedule? Do you plan your topics in advance or write as the spirit moves you? What was your favorite post? At which post do you look back and wonder what you were thinking when you wrote it? What has been the best feedback you’ve ever received? Have you ever written anything that was perceived as controversial, though you didn’t intend it that way? What tips would you offer other author bloggers?

Marcie Brock was born on May 2, 2011, so she’s about to turn 2. Marcie is my alter-ego. She’s a savvy communications expert who LO & Marciewill share with you everything she knows about marketing your self-published books. The blog came about as I moved deeper into book marketing as a significant component of my business. After years of working as an editor, helping my clients get their books written and published, I began to notice that most of them had very little skill when it came to marketing these books they’d worked so hard to create. I had marketing expertise, so it was a natural fit to expand my services to first include — and now focus on — marketing their books. I now specialize in teaching self-publishing authors to think like marketers, meaning that they are planning their launches, building their platforms, and crafting their marketing strategies from the moment they begin writing.

As valuable as I KNOW writing on a regular schedule to be, life and business don’t always allow for it. It helps me stay organized to have  themes, and I believe it also helps my readers, as topical series allow me to explore topics much more fully than random single topics would. Of course, being a continuous learner who loves to share what she learns, I also write impromptu posts fairly often.

It’s funny that what I enjoy writing is not necessarily what readers seem to see, like, or comment on. Of course, blog posts that teach (which is most of them) are fun. Blog posts where I tell stories about real-life incidents are also enjoyable. But the post I truly love is the one titled, “The Art of Captivation: What makes us LOVE that book, movie, song…?” U2 is my favorite band on the planet. I was listening to the A side of Joshua Tree for perhaps the 500th time, when the question occurred to me. What makes me LOVE this music so much? And what draws us to particular art or movies or books?

The post that shattered all records was just about a year ago, on March 7, the eve of International Women’s Day. Marcie Brock had been getting some good traction in the search engines because I was posting pretty regularly, and then a strange thing happened. It seems that traffic to the International Women’s Day site itself – which had the #1, #2, and #3 results for that term – overwhelmed the site to the point that people were unable to load the pages they were seeking. Our post contained just basic information about IWD, with links to a few events around the world and a link to the main IWD event calendar. But it must have been enough of what people wanted, because we captured the residual benefits from ranking #4 for the term “international women’s day” with NEARLY 1,000 HITS over March 7 and 8! Our previous high had been 192 hits in a single day.

In July 2011, I wrote a post I thought was very clever, titled 10 Ways Marketing is Like Bowling. It was a fun little post inspired by a girls’ Marcie the bowlernight out with some new friends. Imagine my surprise to receive this EXTREMELY disapproving comment:

Too bad you brought beer into this article. It was quite funny and interesting, but then you mentioned alcohol and you lost my attention. People really should stop advertising alcohol and associating it with fun. Alcohol is the leading cause for accidents, violence, abuse, job loss and heart attacks and strokes. Advertizing it is wrong.

Seriously? I wasn’t glorifying drinking, but obviously this was a trigger issue for the commenter. One thing I’m learning the more I put stuff out there: there’s no pleasing everyone. I choose to allow unfiltered comments on my blog, as I don’t want to put any extra barriers (besides the internal spam filter) between my readers and their ability to comment. And so far, this is the worst feedback I’ve received. When people write snarky comments on your blog, you have the options to comment back, hit the delete button, or let them stand without reply.

For more ideas about blogging, see the many posts I’ve written on the topic.

Happy blogging!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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