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5 tips for a greater blog challenge experience

As I mentioned in my final post of the inaugural Author Bog Challenge, I had several goals in hosting the challenge:

  • Bring a group of interesting authors together and give them fodder to grow their blogs, improve their SEO, and enhance their Web presence.
  • Help establish myself as a leader in the “book marketing for self-publishing authors” industry.
  • Meet new people.
  • Have some fun.

I feel I accomplished all those goals, and then some. I also noticed some things in reading the participants’ posts that prompted the following – 5 tips that might be helpful to bloggers participating in just about any blog challenge, including the Ultimate Blog Challenge, a quarterly challenge that begins today.

  1. Trust the process. If there are prompts, the host probably had a reason for selecting them. If you choose to follow the prompts, trust the process. If you allow yourself to go with the flow and follow the prompts to their organic conclusion, you might be surprised with your results.
  2. Put dates on your blog posts. I don’t for any reason understand not dating  one’s posts. You might also consider creating a specific category for posts written for the challenge.
  3. Use good keywords in your blog post titles. Allowing the blog service to generate a random code for your post title works against your SEO. Write creative, inviting headlines that include your keywords for best results.
  4. Use your imagination and be playful. A prompt is just an idea to trigger your imagination. It needn’t be followed literally or to the letter. Your readers might love to see your playful side if you give yourself a chance to let your creativity run riot.
  5. If you’re in it, be in it. Focus beyond just posting your own stuff. Also read the rest of the participants’ posts and comment/contribute (other than complaints) via the Facebook group or whatever post-sharing mechanism the host has in place.

As for the next Author Blog Challenge, I think I may be somewhat stricter about the rules:

  • Minimum 250 words. An image with a description does not qualify as a post.
  • No reposts; to qualify, each post has to be new content.
  • No reblogs; to qualify, you must write the content yourself.

A blog challenge offers all kinds of opportunities, including growing your readership and improving your SEO. Here’s to making the most of it!

Have a great Challenge!

Laura

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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 July 18 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 (7/18/12); Week 2: Twitter (7/25/12); Week 3: LinkedIn (8/1/12); Week 4: Pinterest (8/8/12); Week 5: SlideShare (8/15/12); Week 6: YouTube (8/22/12); Week 7: StumbleUpon (8/29/12); Week 8: Ning (9/5/12); Week 9: Blogging 1 (9/12/12); Blogging 2 (9/19/12).

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What comes after “the end”?

Today is the last day of our little detour from the traditional marketing posts you’ve come to know and love on the Marcie Brock blog as I lead by example and follow my own writing prompts for the Author Blog Challenge.

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Day 28 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?

I already addressed the better part of this question in today’s post on the Author Blog Challenge site, but I’ll try to put a little different spin on it here.

In 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey points out that we must begin with the end in mind. I, of course, had a number of ends in mind when I started the blog challenge:

  1. Bring a group of interesting authors together and give them fodder to grow their blogs, improve their SEO, and enhance their Web presence.
  2. Help establish myself as a leader in the “book marketing for self-publishing authors” industry.
  3. Meet new people.
  4. Have some fun.

#1? Check. #2? Check. #3? Check. #4? Check.

I also knew logically that the Author Blog Challenge would end in just 28 days, but I had no idea how much of my focus I would devote to it over those four short longest weeks of my life. And while this installment is now complete, the goal is for the Author Blog Challenge to become a semi-annual event, so it’s not really done. Nevertheless, now that I will have a bit of down time and breathing room, it’s time to seriously consider what’s next.

It’s been fascinating to read the Challenge participants’ comments about their plans for keeping motivated and staying in touch. Some expressed an interest in continuing to hang out in cyberspace. To them, I say, “Go for it!” The Facebook group will remain open and I will continue to post on the Author Blog Challenge site, although I will likely pull that back to just once or twice a week. In the short term, I’m going to take a break for a while and attend to some other areas that have been a bit neglected over this last month.

Never one to sit idle, however, I pitched the idea of a collaborative fiction project and so far have had a dozen folks express interest. I have some great ideas about how that will go – but we’ll have a powwow about it in a week or two to see what the others think. In the meantime, I’m following Hollywood’s lead and simply referring to it as the Unnamed Collaborative Fiction Project.

I also made the decision today that I will again participate in the Ultimate Blog Challenge, which begins July 1. At first I thought, Are you freaking crazy?! You’re just recovering from the HUGE responsibility of running a challenge. Take a break, woman! Then I realized we’re talking one post per day, not three – and no admin work. Piece of cake!!

It’s been a privilege and honor to run the Author Blog Challenge. Thanks to Marcie’s regular readers for hanging in there with us! Thanks to the new readers, subscribers, and commenters for your input, as well. Our regularly scheduled programming should resume shortly…

Happy resting –

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

In honor of our 1-year anniversary (May 2, 2012), we’re hosting the Author Blog Challenge! It starts June 2 and is open to published authors, authors-in-progress, and would-be authors. Come check us out!

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“How are you making money at this Blog Challenge stuff?”

For just 2 more days, we’ll be taking a little detour from the traditional marketing posts you’ve come to know and love on the Marcie Brock blog as I lead by example and follow my own writing prompts for the Author Blog Challenge.

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Day 27 writing prompt:

What has been the best part of participating in the Author Blog Challenge? What are your suggestions for improving the next Author Blog Challenge?

Talk about a softball question. The best part of creating the Author Blog Challenge has been seeing such an amazing group of people get together to support each other and grow in their knowledge about their books and the publishing process. I’m compiling a list of testimonials from within the posts and the comments – will be sending them around to ask for participants’ OK to use them to promote the Challenge. Of course, if anyone would like to write something specific, that’d be gratefully accepted as well.

Things I’d do differently next time? First and foremost, look at my calendar a little more closely!

Had an interesting conversation with my husband’s grandmother at the end of Week 1 of the Author Blog Challenge. She wouldn’t know a blog if it bit her on the ass, but she did ask me how I’m making money at this. Hmmmm… what an interesting, thoughtful, and provocative question. I’ll make tons of money when all these fantastic authors hire me to edit their books and/or help them with marketing! And if and when that happens, it will be great.

But the better way I see of taking Grandma’s challenge to heart (“You’d better find a way to make some money on it before you start the next one!”) is by offering and soliciting sponsorships. Yeah, yeah, yeah – you anti-marketing types may not like the idea. But this was a labor of love, and Grandma’s right: next time I need to get compensated for it. Not sure what form the sponsorships will take just yet – if you have any ideas, please kick them my way!

Also, will definitely hire a VA to handle the nitty-gritty details, like the registrations and tracking who blogged when.

Another challenge in which I participated used Google Groups instead of Facebook for tracking the posts. I considered this, but rejected it because it’s just another extra step. I’m on Facebook every day. For the Google Groups, I had to go there deliberately and it just felt cumbersome to me. I realize that not every author on the planet is on Facebook – but for now, I think I’m going to stick with this format. Again – if you have any ideas, please put them in the Comments section below!

Overall, I think things went well. I really enjoyed hosting and getting to know all of the participants. I’d like to grow the next Challenge to 200 participants, so please help me spread the word! I know that certain people felt the marketing was overdone, but I’m inclined to stick with it – in part because it’s my niche, but also because I know you can’t sell books without it. By the time most of my clients come to me, their books are done – or about to be done – so I don’t really address the writing process very much. There are plenty of others who focus on that, so if you’re looking for an emphasis on the writing process, I encourage you to go find the myriad blogs and challenges and groups and experts who can help you.

In our down time – and at a much more relaxed pace – the Author Blog Challenge participants who choose to will be joining me in a collaborative writing project. Just so you know – this isn’t just for fun. We’re gonna publish this baby and split the proceeds, so make sure you bring your A game! If you want to learn more or participate, drop me an email: collabfiction@writemarketdesign.com.

Thanks to all who’ve participated, even marginally. It’s been a great ride, and I look forward to doing it again – albeit for just 14 days – in December!

Happy resting –

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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In honor of our 1-year anniversary (May 2, 2012), we’re hosting the Author Blog Challenge! It starts June 2 and is open to published authors, authors-in-progress, and would-be authors. Come check us out!

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Questions and more questions are coming up next…

For the next 3 days, we’ll be taking a little detour from the traditional marketing posts you’ve come to know and love on the Marcie Brock blog as I lead by example and follow my own writing prompts for the Author Blog Challenge.

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Day 26 writing prompt:

What is/will be the subject of your next book?

Of course you’ll find it difficult to believe that I – the person who scheduled the start of my work with a political campaign to overlap directly with running the Author Blog Challenge – would ever take on too much. I’ve been working at putting on the back burner the ideas that don’t need attention right away in order to focus on the things that take priority now.

To that end, this question of the next book feels hazy and challenging and makes me very sleepy. Nevertheless, it’s a question any publisher will ask you, so I’ll do my best to answer it here.

I have two streams of thought on this idea of a next book. The first is to take the 1,001 Real-Life Questions for Women and break them down into smaller booklets, according the broader categories into which the questions already are organized. I could then target specialty groups with each booklet, like Passion Parties with the sex and relationship questions; women’s finance groups with the money questions; and moms’ groups with the parenting questions.

As I write this, I realize I find that idea somewhat boring, which is probably the reason I didn’t break the book into categories in the first place. However, if I can go outside my own entertainment considerations for a minute, there may be some real marketing sense to it. Ah-ha: outsourcing! I’ll find someone to handle it and reap all the passive income rewards. I can live with that.

The second idea I have is to create a following for this book – yes, I realize that means I must first focus on sales – and then create a Volume 2, subtitled Questions from the Readers. Invariably when I talk to new people about the book, they try to pose topics or questions they bet I haven’t covered. About 50 percent of the time, I’ve asked the specific question they’re thinking of. But often, even if I’ve addressed the general topic, I haven’t come at it from the perspective they have in mind. And I say it right there in the book – there’s no way it captures EVERY potential situation. So there’s lots of room to do a volume 2. Maybe we’ll stop at 500½ Questions from the Readers. This one sounds much more fun to compile.

Both go on the back burner … for now.

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

In honor of our 1-year anniversary (May 2, 2012), we’re hosting the Author Blog Challenge! It starts June 2 and is open to published authors, authors-in-progress, and would-be authors. Come check us out!

Read Full Post »

Never too many thank you’s

For the next 4 days, we’ll be taking a little detour from the traditional marketing posts you’ve come to know and love on the Marcie Brock blog as I lead by example and follow my own writing prompts for the Author Blog Challenge.

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Day 25 writing prompt:

Time for some shout-outs. This may mimic your acknowledgement page, but whom would you like to publicly thank for their help in creating your book or completing it to the point where it is presently?

As many books as I’ve read in my life, I’ve never really been one to read the acknowledgments. Perhaps it’s because they all sound the same: To my husband/wife/SO for their support. To the kids for giving me time to write. To my agent/attorney/publicist for believing in me. To  my editor for making my words mine, but better. Blah-blah-blah. It’s not that it’s unimportant to thank people – I could write PAGES on the importance of gratitude and the role it’s played in my life. I just don’t have a whole lot of interest in an author I don’t know thanking a whole raft of other people I don’t know.

I’m much more interested in watching the credits of a film than I am in reading the acknowledgments in a book – if only because I’m working on a screenplay and enjoy seeing how many people it takes to put a movie together. It’s also interesting to start to notice the same names popping up in secondary (to most people’s way of thinking) areas, like casting.

When I sat down to write out my own list of thank-you’s for my book, I realized that there weren’t just one or two folks to thank. I did, of course, start with my mom and dad. But then there were my sisters (one of whom I cherish, and one of whom I haven’t seen since my mom’s funeral last August); my niece; Sr. Laurian, my sixth-grade English teacher; Fr. Renna, my senior HS English teacher; Nancy Mairs, my favorite college professor; and Scott White, my personal trainer, who encouraged me every day I worked with him. And as I thought of each of those, I thought of 10 more people. Eventually, it came down to a decision to either list them all or list none of them. I opted for list them all.

Here’s the Thank You page from my book, recreated as-is, here. Of course, I’ve probably met more people in the last 6 or 7 years than in the previous 38 all put together, and not everyone from the last couple of years has necessarily made it onto this version yet. If I met you and you impacted my life, please know you belong on this list.

THANK YOU!

This book did not come into being in a vacuum. Rather, it is an accumulation of all the steps of my life, each of those steps eventually leading me to where I am today. The following list mentions those most significant to me along my journey. I have lost touch with many of the people named here – others have departed this world. But all affected my life, if even in some small way – and because of their influence, I have become the person I am today. To each of these and all who have touched my life in any way, I say thank you.

Mom & Dad • Ann Rendon • Corina Orsini • Samantha Rose Wood • Dolores Diaz • Marta Glueck • Michael Glueck • Rita Lettner • Arthur Orsini • Fr. Frank Orsini • Carmen Perez • Silveria RendonHortencia Reyes • Loretta Roldan • Joe Torres • Jimmy • James • Chip • Mrs. Gore • Kenny • Loretta, Steve, Bill, Mike, Tim, & Dave • Mr. & Mrs. DavisNick, Edith, & Jimmy Ruccolo • Steve Bowers • Tony Blanco • Janine, Mary, & Dan Piatkowski • Jimmy Adams • Chris Bishop • Marvin Brooks • Stephen Davis • Brian Hiers • Susan Finnerty • Kathy Freeman • Leslie Gugliamo • Kelly Jordan • James Lewis • Michelle Mangosing • Manuel Romero • Jerry Moudy • Paula Myscow • Carol Pachek • Chene Valdez • Darrell Stettmeier • Jeff Walker • Cindy Brown • Eddie Perez • Matt Korp • Chris Winters • Brian DeLong • Brian HolderAndrea Piña • Cindy Purigraski • Stephanie Sanchez • Sr. Laurian • Fr. Murray Phalen • Sr. Cecily • Sr. Augusta • Mrs. Hillman • Miss King • Roberta Kase • Therese Martin Portman • Christine Mollitch • Mrs. Vales • Dr. Tan • Ron, the orthodics guy • Mrs. Galia • Pat O’Friel • Mrs. Partridge • Linda Pilon • Fr. Anton Renna • Emily Wolf • Lisa Pflaum Regalado •NHS racquetball crew: Mike, Herman, Phil, Gilbert, WeeGan, etc. • Jane Oh Kim • James Kim • Troy Newman • Toby Newman • Anthony Gimino • Marie, Rich, & Rich Jr. Gimino • David Baker • Jon Lazar • Diana • Mark Macumber • Keith Manning • Mary Greene • Rich Wilner • Maria Bongiovi • Kathy Crook • Gregg Derr • Matt Dudek • Beth Frketich • Mary Fitzpatrick • Margot Fuentes • Christine Glass • Colleen Koors • Doria Kryzwicki • John Cooper • Lisa Munninger • Anne Marie Kuban • Patty McDermott • Eddie Meehan • Matt Mnichowicz • Kay Philippakis • Dave L. • Debbie Riebe • Stacey Seaman • Chris Stevens • Cory Sullivan • Tom • Leslie • Vickie Laramie • Pat • Marylou Bessette • Jerry Smith • Chris Hogan • Jayne Tucker O’Sullivan • Tom O’Sullivan • Shirley, Tim, & Mike Tucker • Dawn • Bobbie Jo Buel • Steve & Edith Auslander • Elaine Raines • Mike Downs • Gawain Douglas • Fred Araiza • Nancy James Baetz • Keith Bagwell • Joyce Bertschy • Erin & Zach • Al Bravo • Patty Brest • Marlene Dekker • Judi Erickson • Dave & Johanna Eubank • David Koen • Steffennie Fedunak • Tom Frankman • Tom & Christia Gibbons • Linda Gutierrez • Collette Bancroft • Donine Henshaw • Susan Knight • Rick Gary • Javier Morales • Scott Peterson • Joe Salkowski • Kristin Cook • Mari Schaefer • Ron Somers • Angela Soto • Sid & Elena • Miles Standish • Mike Tucker • Betty Johnson Wittenberg • Maureen • Lynn Zacek Kosmata • Johnny Kosmata • Brian Carlson • Mary Biel Haney • David Haney • Ed Quigley • Payton Bissell • Eric Wakatani • Richard Karsk • Mari Olsen • Tamzen Smith • John Whetzel • Andi, Chris, & Rick • Jim & Matt • Nancy Mairs • Homer Petty • Richard Shelton • Fr. Robert Burns • UA Newman Center folks • Fr. Bede • Fr. Nathan • Fr. David • Sr. Dominic • Joan Canty • Bernardo Quinteros • Anthony Lewis • Dale & Diane Lewis • Wendee Lewis Dunlap • Mike Balk • David Wood • Sean, the car rental guy • Ken Bolden • Barbara Vaccaro • George Rossi • Manja Agnese • Susan Berdel • Kevin Boyle • Debbie • Carolyn Weiss Clayton • Fran Bresnan • Anne Chan • Joe Buscemi • Maryanne Glassen • Doreen Ciccone • Ray Jacobs • Tamara Jones • Amy Lehman • Barbara Muller • Jessica • Karen Oak • LuAnn Osterhoudt • Elizabeth Painter • Peggy Perry • Lori Rose • Alison Richards • Luisa Rossillo • Jen Seibert • Christine Sweeney • Juliet Campbell • Chris Fuller • Victoria Worthington • Joanie • Wayne • Sam by the ferry dock • Tom Ferriter • Pete Kelegian • Debbie Carver • Nancy Clark • Peggy Scriva • David Oakes • Miguel Trelles • Patty Jordan • Carlo • Stephanie Regalia • Bev Simonelli • Christine • John • Nadine • Silvio • Stephanie • Everyone from the CWT Washington D.C. office • Kathy, Bruce, & Jill Eric • Mary Weidenborner • Anna Sank • All the Spence-Chapin folks • Every adoptive parent or prospective adoptive parent I ever spoke with • Judy Link • Judi Greene • Sandy Ripberger • Kathy Legg • All the Spence birthmoms • Dr. George McQuilkin • Terry • Nursing staff at St. Mary Hospital in Hoboken • Kirk Rule • Jayson Berkshire • Nick Firoozye • Nathan Hosner • Janet Eng • LauraAnne Pafundi • Mickie Thomas • Jim Dykema • WFC cleaning ladies • Patricia Anderson • Peggy Arciero • Kathy Paulik • Karin Anderson • Howard Ponzer • Lynn Franklin • Arianne Anthony • Anne Harvey • Lisa Venezia • Maryl Tolge Darko • Fr. Albert Felice-Pace • Candace Rondeaux • Barry Stein • Tim • Carl • Leo Sanchez • Cheryl • Floyd • Scott • Krista Knight • Tom Poindexter • James Macumber • Brian Carey • Julian Altbush • Fr. Vic Kennedy • the Blanchards • Lady at the hotel in Colorado Springs who asked me about reading a map • Old lady who always rode the bus and PATH train between JC and the WTC • Homeless man in JC who ran when I approached him • Ed, my mechanic • Claire Behun • Evie & Reilly Carpenter • Emilio Ruiz • Sam & Will Falconer • Nevada Gellerman • Little Annette Ruiz • Alex Stuart • Marshall & Tayler Tucker • Lucas Turner • Mariah Yaeger • Anna, Courtney, Lindsay, & Melissa • Alan Jones • Lori Hart • Karen Estrada • Rick Reeker • Satwant Singh Khalsa • Jaswant Khalsa • Karen Paxton • Susan Richie • Susan McGinn • Jeff Finley • Mary Castro • Nick DiCarlo • Leo Beus • Joanne Brooks • Hopi Castaneda • Tammy Cole • Laurie Craig • Patty Crawford • Tina Daniels • Stephanie DeBuhr • Sherry Delgado • Paul Gilbert • Jim Harrison • Kim Jackowski • Eric Kamps • Christine Jones • Tim Kasparek • Kevin Kushner • Carol Moore • Jen Parkinson • Joe Pierce • Beth Pleskovitch • Dave Rodgers • Quint Seamons • Karen Stoll • Karen Sullivan • Nancy Swanner • Christine Taradash • Donna Walla • Gordon Wasson • Anne Way • Brit Worthen • the Mr. Janitor folks • Sara at TOC • All the kids I taught as a sub • Brad Benson • Aimee Brown • Brian Becker • Marc Scremin • Keith, Mary, & Marylou • Eric Gagnon • John Taylor • Luke & Holly Taylor • Bruce • Bruno • Jon • Matthew • Larry • All the guys from my Personal Ad-Ventures • Oh Family • Anderson Family • Pachek Family • Healy Family • Kathy Spade • Cami Brown • • Julia Baldazan • Lori Carter • Barbara Jones • Gretchen Goldstein • Gina Abate • Heather Homuth • Doris & Lew • Pastor Eric • Patricia Bolivar • Steve Avery • Mary Ann • George Rodriguez • Georgie, Nick, Adrian • Ruth Strauss • David Brown • Kerrell & Matt Farmelant • Landis • Jason Sanchez • Tim Gartland • Ken Conditt • Melissa Ward • Kevin • D-Backs ticket office/others: Adrian, Ann, Barbara, Chris, Christina, Christy, Craig, Cree, Darren, David, Devan, Finn, Helen, Jeanette, Joan, Joslyn, Karla, Kelly, Kendi, Kenny, Kirk, Luis, Manny, Marsha, Mary, Monique, Nancy, Natalie, Neely, Nita, Paula, Rob, Roger, Rowena, Ryan, Sarah B., Sarah P., Scott, Stacey, Susan, Syd, Tiffanie, the security guys, etc. • Annette Alvarez • Debra Davenport • Linda Herold • Lisa Platt • Heather Hudak • Vickie Mullins • Elizabeth Gannon • Yuri Haglund • Robin & Tony Muscia • Sally Baker • Vickie Champion • Justin • Baron Benham • Candace Robles • St. Theresa 6 p.m. Choir • Fr. Chuck Keiffer • Petra Boham • Ira Hayden • Connie & Jerry Kadansky • Steve Dawson • Patty & Paul • Ellen & Dan Gardner • Andrew Rulon • Everyone at Arizona Pathways: Donnie, Dan, Calli, Brooks, Northern, Kenny, Khrista, Jim, Eddie, Cadillac, Mike Y., Mike A., Adam, Patrick, David, James • Sherrie Fischer • Dave Lastinger • Deborah Wellborn • Chris Kyselka • Michelle Gillenwater • Sandy Rogers • Maruice Guinouard • Joanne Tedesco • Holly Lorant Dobbs & Jimmy Dobbs • Donna Tucker • Cecilia Cusimano • Lucinda Lintz • Sue Shipman • Kas Winters • Peggy Rostron • Dyane Welt • Lorraine Festa • Gary Gilbertson • Jessica Gunawan • Janet Magno • Matt Lowry • Jen Pfister • Paula Dawson • Mark Maxon • Mary Edmonds • Jessie • Linda Crone • Gina Keating • Allison Parker • Sandy Grimalauskso • Victor Lopez • Clorrie Smith • Thaedwood Smith • Amy, Lori, Dave, John, Ron & Mary • Steve • AJ • Jackie Hill • Candace Burton • Richard Dance • Suzanne Koivun • Raleigh Pinskey • Scott White • Ryan Johnson • William Nelson • Tara Godfrey • Kathleen Hudson • Matt Moran • Jim Norman • Buck O’Neil • Mike Salomon • Jacie Carter • Breah Parker • Lorraine DeLeon • Chris LaMont • Dave Cornelius • Norma Earl • Janet Maxwell • Toni Verso • Betsy Ingram • Sam Sites • Gilat Ben-Dor • Helen Kazemi • Lynn Ehmann • Janet Shanney • Nicole Bolde • Candace Lappe • Sherree Mongrain • Linda Leibl • Meryl Runion • Kasten Spethmann • Kim Hollenback • Lori Grobe • Barbara Sparrgrove • Sue Flaig • Ruth Breen • Sue C. • Ann Williamson • Rebecca Joy • Lou Hunt • Pam Hillyer • Irene Conlan • Ken Lettner • Emil Orsini • All the staff at the Phoenix Adult Day Care Center • All the angels from Hospice of the Valley • Fr. Ernest Larkin • Todd Smith • Norma Strange • Selena Pepe • Stephanie Shaw • Shari Gacksatter • Ted Herbig • Steve Vinson • Teel McClanahan • Ramsey Carpenter • Dr. Ed • Wendy Kenney • Lana Leslie • Harold Wong • Therese Skelly • Mitzi Lynton • Ron Peer • Jody Owen • Lindy Lutz Cash • Barbara Bengtsson • Pam Gaber & Gabriel • Mara DeFilippis • Lynn Paige • Jim Gordon • Karen Levine • Dan Levine • Anna Weber • Arleen Holtz • Michele Pariza Wacek • Cindy Wilson • Donna Bochow • Gina Van Luven • Sherry Fragosa • Dave Barnhart • Kim & Craig Jolly • Rick Sanchez • Phil Singleton • Chip Lambert • Eileen Proctor • Eileen Roth • Patricia Drain • Debbie Allen • Johnny G • David Hepburn • Lynn Rose • Bill Gluth • Jeremy Tuber • Doug Hibbard • Bill Strain • Jack Alspaugh • George Fleming • Steve & Carol Weber • Joel Block • Ken & Judy Foster • Eric Lofholm • Arvee Robinson • Melanie Benson Strick • Ray DuGray & Maria Ngo • Brendan Burchard • Matt Mannino • Adam Urbanski • Peter Montoya • Adora Spencer • Greg S. Reid • Tom Antion • Dave Lakhani • James Ray • Norma Hollis • Beth Schneider • Declan Dunn • Donna Fox • John DiMartini • James Malinchak • Stephanie Frank • Jeanette Cates • Kendall Summerhawk • Linda Hollander • Noah St. John • Lynn Pierce • Audrey Hagen • Tom Justin • Linne Bourget • Jack Lindsley • Kent Rini • Vincent Kellsey • Howard Teibel • Jay Hare • Allan Sabo • Tina Kennedy • Ryan Chester • Annie Loyd • Becky Breitweiser • Jodi Powers • Michelle Corr • Rose Winters • Bill Soroka • Terri Mansfield • Elleyne Kase • Tammy Holmes • Mollie Kidari • Krylyn Peters • Bill Greaves • Rob Nye • Patricia Brooks • Kebba Buckley Button • Ron Button • James Casey • Jeannette Chaplin • Jen Blackert • Jenn Kaye • Kathleen Hudson • Anna “Banana” Kruchten • Gary Houghtaling • Karen Watts Edwards & Bill Edwards • Helen Goldman • Kay Fulkerson • Jason Wong• Pam Donison • Janice Plado Dalager • Ben Cruz • Jennifer Furrier • Melissa Rose • Jenny Dickason • Steve & Resa Ferreira • Lisa Albinger • Vicki Christensen • Mike Hayashi • Kelly Damron • Laura Bank Witte • Karen Kibler • Leon Gildin • Daniel & Ryan • Barbara Chavarria • Beth Kozan • Carol Hogan • Tom Otstot • Sunil Ahuja • Brad Taft • Dana Ball • Suzanne Muusers • Anne Morris • Ann Terhark • Charlie Pascu• Tom Mozilo • Emily • Joey Sampaga • Linda Hall • John & Rebecca • Richard Garrard • Tom C • Dane Treat • Michael Niall • Michael & Suzie Goldstein • Brandon Oliver • Mark Cohen • Diane Busey-Bird• Teresa Cole • Steve von Ehrenkrook • Marc Hampson • Debbie Meyers • David Bell • Christine Pekrul • Debbie Black • Helen Pugh • Jeff Haebig • Linda Sloan • Tammy Smith • Brian Renner • Mark Brezinsky • Tom Buckhardt • Michele Elizabeth • Lara • Ginger • Brian • Samuel N. Asare • Ken & Laura Speer • Judy & Earl Corkett • Penni Honey • Gary Webb • Shivaun Sullivan • Gina Canardo • Charlie Jones • Shawn Armenta • Titus • Tommie Jones • John Rice • Paul Force • Guy Batty • Jane Dominguez • Rick • Karen Langston • Kevin Mogavero • Ashley Szczesiak • Brian • Peter • Sheri Nordstrom Scott & Chuck Scott • Tina Sacchi • Glenn Mark • Frannie Barrientos • Ginna Hoff • Heather Barr • Betina Frisone • Barbara Powers • LynnRae Ries • Matt Bustos • Teddiye Walton • Tunde Negron • John & Gayle Kelemen • Mary Kelemen • Gayle, Ed, & Charlotte Snible • John Kelemen, the love of my life • Me •

One very special shout-out goes to Judy Corkett, my friend who embraced my book from the first moment she heard about it, helped me get its launch off the ground, and encouraged my earliest marketing efforts. She was a godsend and I appreciate every moment she nudged me in a forward direction.

While I don’t think it needs to be done in the front matter of your book, this seems to me to be a worthy exercise for almost anyone to undertake – if not to make a literal list, but to simply realize that every person we meet, however fleeting, has a story and impacts our story. Thanks to all of those who’ve helped me on my way.

In gratitude!

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

In honor of our 1-year anniversary (May 2, 2012), we’re hosting the Author Blog Challenge! It starts June 2 and is open to published authors, authors-in-progress, and would-be authors. Come check us out!

Read Full Post »

Are you employing the 8 components of a successful book business?

For the next 5 days, we’ll be taking a little detour from the traditional marketing posts you’ve come to know and love on the Marcie Brock blog as I lead by example and follow my own writing prompts for the Author Blog Challenge.

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Day 24 writing prompt:

If your goal is to sell books, you must view your book as a business. In what ways do you treat your book as a business? Where could you improve? What resources could you leverage to improve your book business?

Virtually every successful business has a business plan – a roadmap, if you will, of where they are now and where they plan to go. This is no different for your book business. We’re often told that the best plans will contain some most of the following elements:

  • Executive Summary
  • Company Overview
  • Description of Products and Service
  • Market and Industry Analysis
  • Marketing Plan
  • Operations Plan
  • Development Plan
  • Management Plan
  • Company’s Competitive Advantage
  • Financial Plan
  • Funding
  • Appendices

But a business plan need not be long or elaborate to be complete. My friend, business coach Suzanne Muusers, has developed a 2-page mini business plan system that cuts the clutter and helps you get to the heart of the matter: understanding what your business does, where you want it to go, and how you plan to get there.

7 other crucial pieces of your book business include:

Branding.

If there’s ever a professional who needs to cultivate a personal brand, it’s an author. According to personal branding specialist, Peter Montoya:

Your personal brand is the powerful, clear, positive idea that comes to mind whenever other people think of you. It’s what you stand for—the values, abilities and actions that others associate with you. It’s a professional alter ego designed for the purpose of influencing how others perceive you, and turning that perception into opportunity. It does this by telling your audience three things:

1.  Who you are

2.  What you do

3.  What makes you different, or how you create value for your target market

A website.

Your website needs to reflect your brand and make it possible for your audience to access you and your products. I plan in the near future to hire Suzanne’s husband, Dana Ball, a brilliant, creative designer, to revamp my website. Dana gave my book cover a thumbs-up, which made me ever-so proud.

A method of e-commerce.

The only way you can collect money for your book is by having some method of e-commerce installed on your website. While PayPal is widely used and accepted, if you’ve got more than one or two titles, you may still want to look into a shopping cart service.

Distribution channels.

The point of writing a book is getting it out into the world. This most likely means distribution beyond your website. Whether it’s an eBook or a traditionally printed book, you’ve got to have a way of disseminating it. This might be through Amazon, BookBaby, Smashwords, Lightning Source, or some other channel. The point is that if you want as many people as possible to have access to your book, you’ve got to employ a source (or sources) to do that for you.

An e-mail list.

The heart and soul of any online business is its list – the people to whom you will market your current and future books. Developing a list is an important activity you must master if you intend to be a successful Internet merchant.

A CRM system (customer relationship management).

Realtors and mortgage folks seem to be masters at CRM – but cultivating and managing relationships with the people on your list is essential for any author who takes the business side of things seriously. This means knowing who bought what when, how they found you, whether their preference is for eBooks or printed titles, to name just a few.

A team.

As a self-publishing author, you may at times feel like your team is just one person: you. As I wrote in a January 2012 post:

It’s quite common for a new author to take that precipitous dive into self-publishing only to realize, even after a fair amount of research, that there’s a LOT involved. And it’s really easy to get overwhelmed. I think a good part of the overwhelm comes from the erroneous belief that you’ve got to “go it alone.” It’s not much of a stretch to make the analogy between a self-publishing author and a general contractor, if, as careers.stateuniverity.com explains, a general contractor’s job is to “coordinate and supervise the work at construction sites from early development to final product.”

* * *

Well, if there are so many people involved, how can you possibly be going it alone? Ask any leader who feels that it truly is lonely at the top. Hiring people – or contracting for their services – doesn’t mean you necessarily view these individuals as members of your team, and that’s a key component to not going it alone. Sure you’re in charge – but are the folks tasked with components of your book making and marketing simply people you’re paying, or are they members of your team who are equally invested in your success?

Yeah, you wrote a book and thought you were done. As one Author Blog Challenge participant put it, “Writing the book was the easy part. I’m still trying to wrap my head around all this marketing stuff.”

The good news is that you can sell a lot of books on your own if you set up your book business properly from the start. Will it take time? Yes – probably more time than you think you can afford to give. Will it take determination? Boatloads. Will it take some marketing savvy and computer skills? Yep – those are somewhat necessary to become a successful online bookseller. Can you do it? I’m going to go out on a limb and say yes – you can do it. Decide you want it. Make a plan. And implement.

Happy bookselling!

Laura

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In honor of our 1-year anniversary (May 2, 2012), we’re hosting the Author Blog Challenge! It starts June 2 and is open to published authors, authors-in-progress, and would-be authors. Come check us out!

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Once your author site is ranked, you must use SEO to maintain that ranking

(Click twice SLOWLY – not a double-click – to enlarge the image.)
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We’ve spent a great deal of time talking about how to build a successful author website. From design to content to eCommerce, we’ve given you a lot to think about. We talked about how essential SEO is to improving your site’s visibility and ranking in the search engines so that it is among the top results for the designated keywords.

Our first conversations about SEO were more from a perspective of getting ranked in the first place. One day, your author website is born, but how do people find out about it? They can’t, unless you put some effort, energy, and/or money into good SEO. Today I want to emphasize the importance of ongoing SEO to maintaining your ranking.

Scott White is a personal trainer in Scottsdale, Ariz., and the person who taught me most of what I know about search engine optimization. Why do I trust Scott more than any other source on the topic? Because Scott built his website from scratch in the early 2000s, spent a few years getting it ranked on the FIRST page of the major search engines for one of the most competitive search terms in the world (personal trainer – try it in Google, and you’ll see it returns 54 MILLION+ results), and has kept it among the top two pages of search results ever since.

Why is this so incredible and important? Research suggests that only 8 percent of all Web users will delve deeper than the first or second page when doing a search. MOST people won’t bother to keep looking for you if you’re not at the top. To maintain a top ranking for years on end takes skill, effort, and energy … or money.

Came across this on Facebook on 2/24/12.
Would gladly credit it if I knew who created it.

The good news is that the search term for which you want to rank your site is likely to be a lot less competitive than “personal trainer.” You can always improve your rankings by adding geocentric keywords to your search terms. For example, “dental school success tips Northeast” as opposed to merely “dental school success tips.”

Now, I am not suggesting that you hire a company to do your SEO for you, although it is something you might want to consider, if you have the budget for it and you don’t have the time and/or skills to do it yourself. A good SEO company should offer services such as:

  • Review of your site content or structure
  • Monitoring your SEO rankings and tracking your traffic
  • Technical advice on website development: for example, navigation, hosting, redirects, error pages
  • Keyword research
  • Competitive analysis between your site and others in your industry
  • Content development and regular addition of fresh content
  • Management of online business development campaigns
  • SEO training
  • Expertise in specific markets and geographies

Right up there with unreliable Web design companies, SEO service providers can be sketchy, so you’ll want to make sure you are getting your money’s worth. A few questions to ask anyone (or company) you are considering hiring to help maintain SEO on your author website include:

  • Can I see some examples of your previous work?
  • What kinds of success stories can you share with me?
  • Do you offer any online marketing services or advice to complement your organic search business?
  • What kind of results can I expect to see, and in what timeframe?
  • How do you measure SEO success?
  • What’s your experience in my industry?
  • What’s your experience in my country/city?
  • What are your most important SEO techniques?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • How can I expect to communicate with you?
  • How will you share with me the changes you make to my site and your recommendations and the reasoning behind them?

If you’re going to spend your time, effort, energy, and money to get your site ranked, don’t let it be for nothing. Do whatever you can to hold on to that ranking, because the Web is a most competitive place: someone else is just waiting to take your spot should you become complacent.

Happy ranking!

MARCIE

RESOURCES: http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=35291 and http://www.isitebuild.com/seo-maintenance-services.htm

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