Posts Tagged ‘persistence’

What does carrot cake have to do with book marketing?

At a recent meeting of the Phoenix Publishing and Book Promotion Meetup, a very interesting question arose:

You keep saying that we have to start marketing long before the book is written. Fine. But what if, after months or even WOMyears of work, an author decides the book just isn’t going to happen. Wouldn’t he have wasted all that marketing effort, and even suffer for failing to keep his promise?

That is, truly, an excellent question. I answered it as best I could, off the top of my head:

From where I sit, making a public declaration is perhaps one of the best motivators in the world to take action and complete a project. Keep telling people your book is coming (a.k.a. marketing it) and those people will keep you honest and on track by asking you how it’s coming  even if that process takes longer than you might feel it should.

One of my clients began her book in December 1991 and published it this past May. Through all those years, she was supported by the friends, family members, and colleagues who continued to ask, “How’s the book coming?” They all cheered her success when she was finally able to put printed copies in their hands after years of telling them she was “still working on it.”

Yes, it’s possible the book will never come to fruition, but I’d much rather market a book that never happens than not market a book and wind up with 20 cartons of them in my garage or standing out on the street corner trying to find readers.

I asked the rest of the group for their input on the question, and most seemed to agree. One member said, “It’s like the chicken and the egg, in terms of which should come first. Both are essential. Without the book, you’ll have nothing to market. On the other hand, without the marketing, you’ll have no one to read it.

One member then volunteered a story that I found delightfully relevant. Here it is, paraphrased.

Years ago, Lois and her husband owned a health food store that had a restaurant. They hired a chef who planned a great menu. However, they had only one item on their dessert menu: carrot cake. The carrot cakeproblem was that the chef was having some trouble getting the carrot cake recipe just right. Cake after cake came close, but none was exactly what they were after.

All that time, they were open for business and continued to tell their customers that the carrot cake would be “coming soon.”

One day, as a new patron again asked about the carrot cake, another who knew they’d yet to serve it piped up: “They’re out right now, but the carrot cake here is delicious!”

Of course, they perfected the carrot cake and actually began serving it shortly thereafter.

That’s the kind of advance work marketing your as-yet unpublished book can do for you. So what are YOU doing to create buzz for your book, whether you’re still perfecting the recipe or you’ve been serving it up for years?

Here’s to starting your marketing while your book’s still cookin’!



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


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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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.



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!



We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.


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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VICTORY: A modern communications parable

Once upon a time, when an American wanted to communicate with someone other than their immediate family or neighbors, they wrote words … on paper … with quills dipped in pots of ink. Men on horseback carried these letters to their intended recipients, but not further than a few miles.

Then, one day, the threat of the Civil War and the need for faster communication between the East and the West spurred men on horseback to do the unthinkable: riders from each coast left simultaneously to deliver words written on paper with quills dipped in pots of ink to people on the other side of the country. This rudimentary mail service lasted for just 19 months, until a new system was perfected for transmitting messages from a distance along a wire, breaking the connection to create a code.

Unbelievably, voice messages were soon transmitted along wires, eventually at long distances. No longer did one need to hire a horseman to deliver messages; no longer were choppy sentences transmitted via broken electronic signals the norm. One shared this verbal line of communication with between two and twenty other people, and could talk only five minutes or so before someone else would want to use the service. Privacy was a concern, as anyone on the party line could pick up their receiver and listen in on another’s conversation.

Fast-forward some 70 years, and a new technology takes hold. No longer does one need pick up a phone to communicate. Now, they can type letters on their computers and shoot messages across networks of wires to receivers as close as next door and as far as the other side of the world. Just 10 years later, it is impossible to spot a person emerging from an airplane without a new-fangled object, a voice messaging device that bounces signals off of satellites, affixed to their ear.

Of course, everything just keeps speeding up. With the advent of cell phones comes the ubiquitous typing of short text messages into these magical handheld devices, followed shortly by social media. People now list “making calls” as the third most common use for their cell phones.

Today, in late 2011, we are in communications overload. Text users send and receive between 50 and 100 messages a day, while the average active email user now receives about 120 emails a day, and sends 30 of them. It’s no wonder our messages get ignored and deleted without being read.

This is where our story begins.

Our intrepid heroine has accepted the call to wrangle a minimum of 4 nominees for elected officer positions for the regional affiliate of a national organization. The jobs will entail the usual: Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary, Treasurer. Being that everyone in the WORLD is juggling about 200 things at one time these days, and getting people to volunteer to chair and run a group that meets quarterly would be ONE MORE THING, this seemingly innocuous task will prove more difficult than our heroine would have imagined.

The campaign begins.

One e-mail goes out to the whole tribe, announcing the election to be held in 2 months’ time and explaining the roles of each officer.

About 2 weeks later, a second e-mail goes out, reminding people that the nominations are open.

Amazingly, 2 individuals respond, throwing their hats in for 2 of the 4 positions! “Yippee – we’re halfway there!” our heroine thinks.

A third e-mail goes out, again reminding people of the positions, and encouraging them to self-nominate or nominate qualified others.

It’s now about a month away from the election, and the presidents are asked to announce the elections at each local affiliate meeting, which – presumably – they do.

Crickets chirp.

The election is 2 weeks away.

Help is enlisted to call the presidents to try to round up some interest and candidates.

Another e-mail goes out.

The election is 2 days away.

Our heroine re-emerges, this time armed with a secret weapon: that newfangled device that allows voice messages to bounce off the satellites. Please remember, this is a reluctant heroine who does not favor phone calls, but prefers the less invasive e-mail and texting as her favorite forms of communication. Nevertheless, she’s facing down the clock, so she bites the end of her pen and presses the buttons for the first number. “No, I’m not interested in running, and I don’t really know anyone else who would be.”

Down the list she goes, leaving messages and cajoling people to phone her if, sometime in the middle of “The X Factor,” they hit upon the perfect, but as yet untapped, candidate.

Then, something magical happens during call #8. “I’m not really ready to take on one of those roles. Maybe next year.”

“You’re not ready? What does that mean? Tell me more,” our heroine prods. Voila – with just a tiny bit of encouragement, Miss “I’m Not Ready” becomes a willing candidate.

Another phone call, this time resulting in the suggestion of another perhaps willing individual.

One more call, and she’s done it. Our heroine has 4 nominees for the 4 spots, all willing to step up and help run this great organization. But it never would have happened if she’d held fast to her phone-phobia and relied solely on e-mails.

You’re an SBM*, so I won’t beat you over the head with the moral to our story. But I will encourage you to pick up that phone if you’re not getting results with e-mail. Whether it’s about scheduling a book signing or inviting people to attend. Get out your contact list, sit down with a glass of water, take a deep breath, and start calling. Your results may amaze you.

Happy phoning!


* Savvy Book Marketer


We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.


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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