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Posts Tagged ‘author blogs’

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.

__________________

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.

__________________

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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