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A recommitment to finishing!

The penultimate post… Day 34 of the 5-Week Author Blog Challenge asks what I liked and would do differently with the Author Blog Challenge. All 35 posts for this Challenge will be focused on 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 34 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?

Far and away, I have loved participating in this Challenge more than either of the previous two – even when I felt the cold sweat on my neck as one day wooshed into another without a post, so many in a row that I found myself 8 days behind! Given that I am the creator and host of this Challenge, it just wouldn’t do for me to cop out and bring in anything less than all 35 posts before the 11:59:59 p.m. PDT deadline on Saturday, October 17th. God willing, since this is my penultimate post, I will be able to do that.

Two of the biggest benefits for me were the impetus to write every day – or make up for it when I didn’t bradbury for ABC2and the ability to make the publication of my novel more real to me. Thank you, Ray Bradbury! That’s such important advice that every writer would do well to try to follow.

As you know by now – if you’ve been reading these posts with any regularity at all – I’ve been working on this novel for a Long. Damned. Time. And I suppose life really did get in the way in a couple instances. But mostly, it’s been me sabotaging my own efforts and success. I’ve got a great support team, excellent editor standing by at the ready, and marketing plans that will ROCK! So now that the Challenge is over and I will have time for my other writing, I can fulfill the promise I know “Stan” holds.

90 percent down the pathYep – it’s intimidating to walk into a bookstore and see all the bright, shiny competing titles. It’s intimidating to be in the company of such great authors as the other participants in this Challenge and the members of the Phoenix Publishing & Book Promotion Meetup. It’s intimidating to see a news report about a local historical author earning in the six figures. But I know I’m a decent writer. I’ve spent a long time on “Stan” thus far and will follow this project through the final 10 percent to completion. This Challenge helped me recommit, find an editor, and figure out how to pitch the book (part travelogue, part social commentary, part fiction).

Things I’d do differently next time? Monetize it so that I can get help to run it. Really – it’s a LOT of work and I didn’t do all I wanted to, simply because family time commitments continued to drag me away. Life, I believe they call that.

So … 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!

Please make sure to check in again tomorrow for the final post of the Challenge, when I will tell you what I plan to do to keep the momentum going.

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 very successful Author Blog Challenge!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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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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Take the 249 Hug Challenge!

So I was on Facebook last night and I saw this post:

hugging

I’d heard that quote before, but this time it triggered a new thought:

What if we really did it?!

I am blessed to have a kind, wonderful, generous husband who hugs me regularly — but even at that, weddingI’m not sure we get in even 8 hugs a day. And we definitely don’t hit the upward mark of a dozen a day. So I thought again, What if we really did it?!

Then I did some quick calculations. A 500-hug challenge would mean 16.129 hugs per day in a 31-day month. That might be too intimidating. A 250-hug challenge would mean 8.0645 hugs per day. That was just a weird number. Finally I settled on 7 hugs per day, or a 217-hug challenge, over the course of January. Then I thought about it a little further.

Four hugs a day for survival; eight hugs a day for maintenance. If I was going to issue a challenge, the least I should do is make sure we’re aiming for maintenance. Great! 248 hugs it is. But then I had one more thought. What if instead of 248 hugs, I made it 249? Then, it’s still 8 hugs per day for the 31 days of January … with ONE EXTRA HUG to nudge us over into growth territory.

A moment later, I was googling images of hugging to stitch into this banner:

249 hugs

Then I did a little research and discovered that family therapist Virginia Satir is the one who originally made that famous 4-8-12 statement. I also uncovered a few articles about the healing power of hugging:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/11/oxytocin-aging-_n_5485373.html

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-6586/10-Reasons-to-Give-More-Hugs.html

http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/wellness_articles.asp?id=1818

Next, I created a Facebook event. For location, I stated: Anyplace you and another person are standing. And then I launched it. It all took about 25 minutes.

Yep, I vacillated about whether or not to include the grammatically correct hyphen (249-Hug Challenge) and decided to go with aesthetics and leave it out. I also fretted for a moment about whether my images were diverse enough. I decided I’ve got a great range of ages, both genders, three species … I’m OK. I could have worried about perfection, or just getting it done. I took a page out of my own advice book and followed the principle of “Done is better than perfect.”

As I write this, of the 2,500+ people I invited to the 249 Hug Challenge, I’ve had about 50 takers. But a couple people have shared the event already, and it was pretty late when I posed it, so I’m confident we’ll see that number swing up over 100 by the time the Ball drops in Times Square — or it’s midnight here on the West Coast.

What does this have to do with you and book marketing? Well, perhaps nothing. Of course, I hope you will take the challenge. You can sign up officially on the Facebook event page, or you can simply commit to giving/receiving (you can’t do one without the other) 249 hugs in January of 2015. You can also Tweet about it or share it on any of your other social networks. But I think if you do take the challenge, it will put you in a happier mood, lift your spirits, make you feel physically great — and all of those things will be reflected in your efforts in the coming month and year, including your book marketing.

hugging tweet

AND … this could be an example to you that sometimes the best ideas are the simple ones. The ones you can act on immediately. The ones that take little planning, but decisive action. Who am I to start a hug challenge? I’m the one who thought of it. What will you plan for 2015?

Let’s hug our way to success in the New Year!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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

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Release the perfectionism and find your own voice as a writer

 

Of all the books I’ve ever read, the one that stands out as the most beautifully lyrical is Sting’s autobiography, Broken Music. Perhaps that can be explained by his years as lead singer and chief lyricist for The Police. I tend to think the British flavor of his writing is also a significant factor. However it came about, I was just so delightfully surprised by the book that certain details of his story still remain fixed in my mind, though I read it only once seven years ago.

Another wonderfully gifted writer is Ed Montini, columnist for the Arizona Republic, my hometown newspaper. His attention to detail and deft use of language enable him to spin word pictures like Rumpelstiltskin spun gold. That we still get to read him twice a week is a rare gift in a world of disappearing newspapers.

My writing, on the other hand — well, you can see it for yourself — tends to be proficient, but it’s no frills. “Just the facts, ma’am,” as Joe Friday would say. Back in 2004, I made my first foray into the 3-Day Novel Contest. Though I did not win, I received what could only be considered an exceptional rejection letter, a handwritten note at the top of the form letter that said, “Laura, Stan (my title character) made it pretty far into the process. Good dialogue. Good flow. Good job.”

Heartened by the feedback, I set out to enhance and expand my original 109 pages (pretty typical for a 3-Day Novel submission) into something that more resembled an actual book. After two years, I think I might have bulked Stan up to a hefty 150 pages. Convinced I needed help, I asked my friend, Carol Hogan — an amazing poet in her own right — to have a look at it. Her feedback, while truthful, was telling of my skill (to that point, at least) as a fiction writer: “It’s a really good outline.”

I still believe Stan has a lot of promise and plan to finish his story one day, perhaps weaving in some of Carol’s fanciful and creative suggestions. The thing is, I know I’m not a bad writer. But I make a significant portion of my living editing other people’s words, which usually means paring back, NOT adding to the original text. So the gorgeous descriptions that make delicious fiction so vibrant are notably absent from mine, if only because my creative process just doesn’t seem to work that way. I would venture that the same is true for most of my writing.

That said, I do recognize and appreciate luminous writing when I see it. Two blogs I’ve recently begun reading come to mind. The first I mentioned last week: the anonymous gal who writes Stopping the Wind, in which she elegantly chronicles her commitment to personal change.

The other is Sonja Haller’s Soulful Writing. In a recent post, Sonja wrote about ditching the pursuit of perfection to begin creating. I liked it immediately because it reminded me of a post I did a few months back about my mantra for procrastinators: Done Is Better than Perfect. However, while Sonja writes soulfully of her own experience, I target the reader with an in-your-face bit of advice.

From Sonja’s post:

And almost weekly I struggle when doing a bit of creative writing because I’m waiting for some version of perfect to appear. I’m waiting for the kitchen to be all clean. I’m waiting to feel fully awake and alert. I’m waiting for some inspirational or ethereal nudge.

From my post:

And next time you are tempted to rewrite your blog message before posting it, change your social media profile picture one more time, re-read and edit your e-mail blast for the dozenth time, spend another hour editing a video, or any other aspect of what can only be called busywork, catch yourself in the act and recite your new mantra: DONE IS BETTER THAN PERFECT.

The thing is that neither is right or wrong. We simply have different writing styles. Just because I have a deep appreciation for melodious writing does not mean that everyone appreciates that type of prose. Some people are probably naturally attracted to a more straightforward, unembellished writing style. I think the biggest thing to take away from this discussion is the importance of finding YOUR voice. What about your writing makes it unique to you?

May you find a way to relinquish perfectionism and discover your voice!

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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Is your book a word-of-mouth worthy PURPLE COW?

(Please click on image to enlarge.)

OK, I’ll admit this one sounds obvious … but every single time I’ve thought something was so obvious it didn’t bear a comment, it turned out there was need of a reminder. Seriously – even if you’re self-publishing an e-book, make the best book you can. This is a little detail known as “being remarkable.” Seth Godin reminds us in Purple Cow how little it takes to be remarkable. That’s what I’m suggesting here sparkle as an SBM* by standing out from the crowd and delivering a truly kick-ass product.

Here’s the caveat: It’s make the best book YOU can … not necessarily the best book in the world. Remember our recent mantra for perfectionists: DONE IS BETTER THAN PERFECT.

Here are the components that go into a quality self-published book:

  • A good topic and strong writing
  • Professional editing
  • Professional graphics and illustrations, when appropriate
  • Professional front and back cover design
  • Professional layout and page design
  • Professional typesetting
  • A logo for your publishing company (that does not in any way reference your name)
  • ISBN and barcode
  • LCCN (Library of Congress Control Number if you intend to sell to libraries)
  • Copyright
  • Publishing date
  • Table of contents
  • Header/footer with page numbers
  • A well-thought-out index, if necessary
  • A glossary of terms, if appropriate
  • A bibliography of referenced sources, if appropriate
  • An appendix of ancillary materials, if appropriate
  • Blurbs for your cover (and inside front pages) from experts and people well-esteemed in your subject matter

If you have anything to add to this list, please do so in the COMMENTS section.

Anyone can write and publish a book, but it takes time, effort, money, and commitment to publish a remarkable book. There are just no two ways around it: the better your book, the easier it will be to market. This is not a guarantee that it will sell, but it will leave you towering above all the other books out there in an ever-more-crowded market.

See you Monday!

MARCIE

*Savvy Book Marketer

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Visit Write | Market | Design to download your Marketing Skills Evaluation. This will help you determine how close you are to SBM status, and where you may need a little extra boost.

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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If you’d like us to add a link to your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog, please send us a note. If we think it’s a good fit, we’ll be happy to add you. Of course, we’d appreciate the reciprocity of the same!

Additionally, Marcie would be happy to make a guest appearance on your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog. Just let us know the theme or your idea (preferably including a 6-panel concept), and we’ll see what we can draft for you.

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PREVIOUS POSTS

Monday, July 25 – Marketing a book is different than marketing a smartphone or a pair of shoes

Thursday, July 21Book marketing is like brushing your teethyou have to do it every day

Monday, July 18 Erratic marketing is just like once-in-a-while exercise. Results? Not so much

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New mantra for procrastinators and perfectionists: DONE Is Better Than Perfect!

(Please click on image to enlarge.)

Last post, we touched on a problem that challenges authors, entrepreneurs, SBMs* … just about everyone at one time or another. We spoke of it so briefly, however, that you might have felt a sigh of relief that we didn’t spend more time on it. Well, today’s the day we spend more time on it. What is IT? The dual-challenge of procrastination and perfectionism.

If you’ve been waiting to get your marketing campaign started for any reason but especially because you want to make it perfect first I want you to stop what you’re doing immediately. Grab a Sharpie or a pen or a pencil or a CRAYON, and write in HUGE letters on a piece of paper: DONE IS BETTER THAN PERFECT. Then, I want you to write it again. And again. And then I want you to tape it up prominently where you are constantly reminded of this new mantra.

DONE is better than perfect.

And next time you are tempted to rewrite your blog message before posting it, change your social media profile picture one more time, re-read and edit your e-mail blast for the dozenth time, spend another hour editing a video, or any other aspect of what can only be called busywork, catch yourself in the act and recite your new mantra: DONE IS BETTER THAN PERFECT.

As a reformed procrastinator, I can tell you that perhaps the best antidote to the procrastination that stems from perfectionism, fear of success, and other self-sabotaging nasties is the book The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield Strap on your seatbelt, though, because this book is going to grab you by the throat and hold on until you’ve screamed “Uncle!”

I’ve said it before and I will no doubt say it again: marketing isn’t rocket science. It’s not complicated or difficult. What it requires is diligence, consistency, dedication, and the utmost desire to succeed. But before you can have any of those, you must begin. Have a vision  for what you want to create (number of books sold, radio and/or TV appearances, speaker bookings, etc.) and fix all your attention on that. Quit worrying about the process and whether it’s good enough. Just make a plan and get started. TODAY. I dare you…

See you Monday!

MARCIE

*Savvy Book Marketer

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We’d love it if you’d take a few minutes to give us some feedback via SurveyMonkey about an upcoming Author Sales Training Webinar series we’ve got in the works. Anyone who completes the survey and provides a viable e-mail address will be eligible to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

If you’d like us to add a link to your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog, please send us a note. If we think it’s a good fit, we’ll be happy to add you. Of course, we’d appreciate the reciprocity of the same!

Additionally, Marcie would be happy to make a guest appearance on your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog. Just let us know the theme or your idea (preferably including a 6-panel concept), and we’ll see what we can draft for you.

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PREVIOUS POSTS

Monday, July 11 – Your book marketing efforts need to be as consistent as Lady Gaga’s hit songs

Thursday, July 7 What gets MEASURED gets done, when it comes to book marketing

Monday, July 4 – A commitment to book marketing means MAKING time for it

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Your book marketing efforts need to be as consistent as Lady Gaga’s hit songs.

(Please click on image to enlarge.)

Love her or hate her, one thing you cannot do with Lady Gaga is ignore her. She is a one-woman PR MACHINE! And you, my lovely SBMs*, would do well to take a very specific page out of her book: BE CONSISTENT.

To the left is a summary of Lady Gaga’s recording chart history to date. From the looks of it, every song is a hit that shows up on multiple charts.What has that got to do with your book marketing efforts? Well, the number 1 rule about book marketing is that you MUST DO IT. The second rule, though, and the one without which #1 is pretty much dead in the water, is that you must do it CONSISTENTLY. If you apply your marketing strategy as consistently as Lady Gaga has landed on the recording charts in her short career, you will be well on your way to a successful campaign.

As I once heard marketing superstar, Kelly O’Neil, say:

Bad marketing done consistently
is far more impactful than good
marketing done inconsistently.

Is this permission to be sloppy with your marketing plan? Absolutely not! You are a Savvy Book Marketer, so you take time, care, and precision with your marketing strategies. However, this IS meant to be a kick in the butt to get out there, launch your marketing campaign, and keep at it, as regularly as your time permits. It’s less important that your blog posts be perfect than they get written. So your postcard has a typo in it. Unless it’s the spelling of the recipient’s name, chalk it up to “Done is better than perfect,” and into the mailbox it goes.

We’ve spent the last few posts talking about making time for marketing. Well, just as making time to market your book is an individual decision based on your own circumstances, the concept of “consistent marketing” will likely look different from one author to the next. As a rule of thumb, a well-crafted marketing campaign will “touch” the people on your list no less than 36 times a  year. That’s 3 times a month, across a variety of mediums: social media, snail mail, phone calls, e-mail.

For some of you, consistency will mean daily, in one from or another. For others, it may be once a week, or once every other week. One Write | Market | Design client, a financial advisor, has been blogging once a week for about 2.5 years, and he’s getting a tremendous return on his efforts: all of his live workshops are now fully booked, and he’s getting 100 percent post-workshop enrollment, in the form of attendees agreeing to have a staff member from his company contact them and/or schedule an appointment with them. His consistency is paying off BIG time! You can see the same results if you apply the same effort.

Come on, all you SBMs … find the Lady Gaga in you and get your marketing campaigns rocking!

See you Thursday!

MARCIE

*Savvy Book Marketer

__________________

We’d love it if you’d take a few minutes to give us some feedback via SurveyMonkey about an upcoming Author Sales Training Webinar series we’ve got in the works. Anyone who completes the survey and provides a viable e-mail address will be eligible to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

If you’d like us to add a link to your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog, please send us a note. If we think it’s a good fit, we’ll be happy to add you. Of course, we’d appreciate the reciprocity of the same!

Additionally, Marcie would be happy to make a guest appearance on your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog. Just let us know the theme or your idea (preferably including a 6-panel concept), and we’ll see what we can draft for you.

__________________

PREVIOUS POSTS

Thursday, July 7 What gets MEASURED gets done, when it comes to book marketing

Monday, July 4 – A commitment to book marketing means MAKING time for it

Thursday, June 30 – How much TIME will you devote to marketing your book?

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