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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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Building a platform from the ground up

OK. You likely noticed that I’ve been away for a while. Turns out two blog challenges in a row – one as a participant and one as the host – kicked my ass. I was a little tired in early July and just decided to take a couple weeks off. Then, I had a wholly unexpected allergic reaction to some lavender oil, and it set me on butt for an additional month. Headaches. Very pretty bumps on my face. Sleeplessness and ensuing exhaustion. I did just enough work to meet client needs, and even that was slow and cumbersome. I don’t recommend such an experience to anyone.

I’ve been touching my toes back in the social media waters these last couple weeks and finally feel it’s time to get back to my blog – which I love. I have missed being a part of things! So, here’s the first thing to come to mind.

Laura

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I have a new client who came to me as a referral – a new author. Her book is a 122,000-word World War II romance. She was seeking information/help with publishing it. In our first conversation, we discussed print options as well as eBook distribution. Since her primary goal was just to “get the book out there,” she decided to go for the simpler eBook option to start. To save her the money and effort involved in formatting/layout for each individual platform, we went with the one-size-fits-all Smashwords for distribution.

Smashwords is a good solution for an all-text book like a novel. It does not work as well, however, for books that incorporate any sort of graphics or variation in headings/font sizes. All we had to do was design a cover, fully justify the text, remove the page numbers, slip it into a Word ’97-2003 doc format, and it was good to go. Uploading it to Smashwords took a matter of minutes, and voila – there it sits. Ready and waiting for people to come and buy it. Keyword: WAITING.

This is virtually every new author’s dilemma. The book is done – now how the hell do I get the readers-cum-buyers to show up?

It was an especially challenging question for my client, because she had zero  online presence. I am NOT exaggerating. No mailing list. No blog. No website. No Facebook. No Twitter. No LinkedIn. No social media of any kind. She has a computer which she used for writing her book, and she has email. That’s it. So we are literally starting at the bottom to build her an online presence.

While there are many different paths to the same end goal – marketing her book – it was her choice to begin with blogging. I believe every author must start with the thing that is the most comfortable for them. It’s not going to do you any good if I help you build a Facebook fan page but you just don’t want to be on Facebook because you’re so uncomfortable with it.

So we set up the blog. It’s called Fox Tales, if you want to check it out – but don’t expect any posts yet. Baby steps … did I mention we’re starting from the ground floor?

Next she’ll start exploring the blog. Practice posting. And begin writing. She plans to follow my recommendations for the 6 steps to blogging success:

  1. Writing 40 to 50 posts in a ROW (weekends included) from the date of her launch.
  2. Writing quality content that is of interest to her targeted readers: lovers of historical fiction and romance.
  3. Using an image with every post.
  4. Selecting good keywords for every post.
  5. Posting on a regular schedule after the initial 40 to 50 posts.
  6. Commenting on other blogs on similar topics, and being generous with her feedback to commenters on her blog.

Will it be an uphill battle? Sure. Is it going to take a while? You bet. Can it be done? Of course!

Regardless of where you are in terms of writing or publishing your book, it’s not too soon to be thinking about marketing it! Take an honest survey of your online presence. How big is your platform, really? Your email list? Your social media contacts? Your speaking gigs? Your networking circles? Who will be clamoring to buy the book the minute it goes on sale? How excited will they be to share it with the others in their circles?

If this all scares you just a bit, that’s OK. No need to panic. Just pick up the phone and give me a call (602.518.5376) or drop me an email. The initial consultation is complimentary.

You wrote/are writing a great book. It deserves a great readership. Make sure your prospective readers have the chance to become actual readers!

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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There’s still time to get in on our 10-week program: SOCIAL MEDIA FOR AUTHORS. It starts Sept 5 and goes for 10 consecutive weeks. Sign up for single classes or pay for all 10 and receive a 25 percent discount. Week 1: Facebook Fan Pages (9/5/12); Week 2: Twitter (9/12/12); Week 3: LinkedIn (9/19/12); Week 4: Pinterest (9/26/12); Week 5: SlideShare (10/3/12); Week 6: YouTube (10/10/12); Week 7: StumbleUpon (10/17/12); Week 8: Ning (10/24/12); Week 9: Blogging 1 (10/31/12); Blogging 2 (11/7/12).

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You are cordially invited to guest blog with Marcie and Laura

Unless you’re like my friend Tim whose birthday is May 2nd, you probably don’t have that date marked on your calendar. I’m hoping to change that for you, though, because May 2, 2012 will be the first anniversary of our little blog, Marcie Brock – Book Marketing Maven. We thank all of our regular readers, whether you’ve been with us from the beginning or just discovered us last week! We’ve learned a lot over these 11 months and hope you continue to find our content interesting and useful.

Over this time, our subscribers have slowly been picking up and people seem to be commenting with some regularity. Interestingly, however, no one has invited us to blog for them and, more importantly, none of you has said, “Hey, I’d like to submit a guest post for you!” OK  let me make the confession now that we dropped the ball with the one person we met through the Arizona Book Publishers Association who offered to guest blog for us. You have my word that I will follow up with her this week to see if she’s still willing. But now we’d like to hear from you!

So, I am taking this opportunity to cordially invite YOU to write a guest post for our blog. Why you? Why not you? What would you write about? Well, there’s no end to the topics from which you might choose, but here are some ideas to get you going:

  • Describe how you first came up with the idea for your book.
  • Tell us how long you’ve been writing.
  • Describe your relationship with your editor.
  • Describe the marketing technique that’s worked best for you.
  • Describe a marketing struggle (chances are, another reader has faced the same challenge).
  • Tell us about other blogs you read for ideas, inspiration, instruction, or direction.
  • Tell us how your own blogging is going.
  • Describe how you’re using social media to market your book.
  • If you haven’t written your book yet, tell us what you envision for it.
  • Tell us a funny story about your writing process/marketing efforts.
  • Chronicle a day in the life of you, Author Extraordinaire.

You get the idea. The only caveat is that it must be ORIGINAL content. If you have an idea for an image, let me know. Otherwise, we’ll do our own graphics magic on it.

To submit your guest blog, send us an e-mail at GuestBlog@writemarketdesign.com. Tell us who you are, the name of your current book (if you have one), your e-mail address, and give us a link to your website or blog. Please submit the text of the post as a Word doc or text file. That’s all there is to it.

We’ve had a “Guest Posts” category for months now, but since there are no posts in that category, you can’t see it on the list (along the right-hand side of the blog). Wouldn’t you love to be the first?!

And hey, if you ever want us to guest blog for you, of course we would be happy to reciprocate!

LASTLY … we’re planning some special giveaways to celebrate our one-year anniversary, so please be sure you DO put it on your calendar and come back often between now and then.

Looking forward to your guest posts!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Visit the Write | Market | Design Facebook page to meet other authors and aspiring authors who have a sincere interest in writing, publishing, and selling the best books they can. And if you need a self-publishing consultant in your corner for anything from advice on structure to developing a marketing strategy, drop us a note at MarcieBrock@WriteMarketDesign.com or give us a call at 602.518.5376!

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Blogging mishap: The content is overpowered by the background image

If you’ve been following Marcie and me for a while, you may agree that we have a generally positive, upbeat attitude and outlook on life and writing and book marketing. I feel the need to make that caveat, as I’m about to post the second of two cautionary (i.e., “DON’T do this!”) posts in less than a week.

And like my last admittedly opinionated commentary (about reposting someone else’s content not being blogging), I also came across this one through Google Alerts for “book marketing.”

It is a post titled How To Create A Successful Book Marketing Campaign, written by Bob T. Taylor for Vu Books.

Please understand that in this instance, I am NOT critiquing content. In fact, I reserve comment on the content, entirely. My point here is that the appearance is problematic. In attempt to create an interesting backdrop for this blog, the designer cleverly incorporated an image of some books, photos, and writing implements. The problem is that the image is too dark, so much so that it makes the text of the blog  the entire point of the page, as you are no doubt aware  very difficult to read. As I said, this is a clever concept, but if it is to work, the background image must be MUCH  lighter, creating significant contrast with the text.

Compare for yourself…

This is an actual screen shot from the Vu Books blog.

This is a mockup of the same screen shot I created using a comparable background image. The primary difference is that I made the background image about 70 percent lighter than in the original version. In my version, the text of the books is not competing with the text of the blog post to create illegible chaos.

This lesson applies equally to blog sites and traditional websites. A background image can go a long way to build interest, brand your site, and make for a generally more favorable experience, provided that it doesn’t overpower the text you actually want your visitors to read! In this case, I  might also consider increasing the font size and putting some space between the lines. However, depending on your blogging platform, choices like that may or may not be available.

The main point is to ALWAYS keep your reader in mind. Make it easy for them to enjoy visiting your blog/website and give them a reason to want to come back. If they can’t read the text  especially of a blog post  they will most likely click “NEXT!”

To appropriate background imagery!

Laura

P.S. If you’re not using Google Alerts, you should be. You can ask Google to email you whenever your selected keywords are mentioned in new online content. It’s simple to sign up and helps you stay up-to-date on your topic, industry, trends, or even your own name.

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

Visit the Write | Market | Design Facebook page to meet other authors and aspiring authors who have a sincere interest in writing, publishing, and selling the best books they can. And if you need a self-publishing consultant in your corner for anything from advice on structure to developing a marketing strategy, drop us a note at MarcieBrock@WriteMarketDesign.com or give us a call at 602.518.5376!

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Reposting someone else’s content is NOT blogging

A while ago, I wrote a post about using public domain materials in which I said:

OK – this is just my opinion (as is most of what you’ll read on this blog), but I think co-opting public domain materials to create your own books or info products is a cop-out. It’s not illegal, but it is a lazy shortcut that shortchanges the reader, the person whom you, as a writer, want to be keeping at the forefront of your focus.

Well, the same is true of your blog posts! If you’re going to blog, you owe it to your readers to come up with your own material. This is not to say you cannot or should not reference other relevant blog posts. As you may have noticed, I do it quite often. But there’s a difference between referencing another post and simply co-opting the material and putting your name on it.

Here’s an example. I was going through my Google Alerts for “book marketing” recently, and came across two very similar posts. The first was 5 Book Marketing Mistakes That Cost You Sales, on the Smart Author Sites blog. The second was Are you Making These 4 Book Marketing Mistakes that Cost you Sales?, by Judy Cullins on BookCoaching.com.

Hmmm… I thought. These topics seem awfully similar. Because of the number discrepancy, I at first thought that Cullins had taken material from Smart Author. As it turns out, it was the other way around. Cullins mistitled her post – she actually delineates five book marketing mistakes. And Smart Author, rather than writing an actual post with any real material in it, simply “borrowed” an abbreviated version of Cullins’ post.

The entirety of original content in the Smart Author post is as follows:

I came across a GREAT blog post today by author marketing guru Judy Cullins. Here are some of the highlights, quoted directly from the post…

—————

Amen, Judy!

As far as I am concerned, this is simply cheating. To be fair, I have not read any other posts on the Smart Author site, so I am in no way alleging that this is a habit. But even in this one instance, it’s not fair to Cullins, the original author of the material. How could Smart Author have made the material their own? By adding their own commentary (i.e., work) to Cullins’ thoughts. Why do they agree? What has been their experience with the five mistakes Cullins mentions? How would they expand or digress on said mistakes?

When it comes to your own blog, please do the work. You know how you’d feel if someone abridged your book and put their name on it, right? A blog post is no different. Your readers want to hear your thoughts, your ideas, your words.

To originality in blogging!

Laura

P.S. If you’re not using Google Alerts, you should be. You can ask Google to email you whenever your selected keywords are mentioned in new online content. It’s simple to sign up and helps you stay up-to-date on your topic, industry, trends, or even your own name.

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

Visit the Write | Market | Design Facebook page to meet other authors and aspiring authors who have a sincere interest in writing, publishing, and selling the best books they can. And if you need a self-publishing consultant in your corner for anything from advice on structure to developing a marketing strategy, drop us a note at MarcieBrock@WriteMarketDesign.com or give us a call at 602.518.5376!

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