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Authors Step Out of Your Comfort Zone: Create Your Own Radio Show!

  
  
  
  
  
  

Branding is the art of becoming the go-to person in your particular specialty or niche. Fiction writers have a steep hill to climb to hit these heights, but a non-fiction writer can use multiple outlets and become a well-known expert in very little time. One of the most influential ways to validate your knowledge and credentials is to host a radio show on Blog Talk Radio.

Blog talk radio

These radio blogs are live talks that can include on-air guests and call-in questions from listeners. Not only will your show go out live, but it will be hosted on the site as a podcast for your fans to listen to any time later.

What to Talk About

Depending on your topic, you may want to speak for a couple of minutes and then allow a guest speaker to call in. You might also host a call-in show where listeners can ask your advice on problems they have in your niche. Break your basic topic into a number of smaller detailed parts, and hold one show on each partial subject. Watch current events, listen to fans, and adjust your schedule when interesting topics arise. Make a point of talking about your books sometime during each broadcast, and always end the show with the title of your latest book and where listeners can find it for sale.

How to Do It

Go to the Blog Talk Radio website and sign up. It's a very simple process that takes just a few minutes. You can choose the free option for practice to begin with, and move on to a paid program after that. You're allowed three free broadcasts for a trial. After that the price depends on how many premium features you want.

How to Use It

The attraction isn't the fact that you'll have a live radio show on your topic, although that's important as well. The most important point is that you'll have a podcast you can embed anywhere, spreading your words and knowledge everywhere you can advertise it. Post a link on Facebook to allow your fans to listen after the fact. Put a link for every week's podcast onto your webpage. Write a blog post elaborating on the week's topic, and post a link to the topic on the side.

Ways to Advertise

Branding is a circular process, where one link leads to another, and they all eventually lead back to the beginning. Add a link to your podcast in your email signature. Mention it when commenting on blogs or on forums. Find chat groups about your niche topic and invite members to be guests. Most people will be flattered to be invited, and you'll benefit by having your show associated with your chosen experts.

Have Some Fun

Above all.....have some fun! This strategy is not for everyone, but maybe its time you stepped out of your comfort zone and lived a little! You may be surprised the follwing you can attract over time with some good discussion.

Keep the Faith and may the Force be with You!


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How Many Editors Does An Author Need?

  
  
  
  
  
  

Finishing your book and writing "The End" at the end of your manuscript is a great accomplishment, and you might feel like sitting back and basking in that good feeling. (maybe just a little) Indulge yourself for a day or so, then get back to work. A finished rough draft is only the first of many versions you'll write of this book, and you'll need some help along the way.

Book Brain

You might think of an editor as someone who slaps your manuscript into shape for publication, but that's only true in the broadest sense. There are different kinds of editors, each of whom does a different job, and you might need two or more of them for your book.

Beta Readers

While beta readers aren't normally considered editors, they're definitely the first step in the editing process. Once you've gone over your book a few times to get it into readable condition, you'll need a few trusted friends or relatives to read the entire manuscript. Beta readers stand in for your readers; they're supposed to read the book just as a casual fan would, and make notes about problems they find. Then there are expert readers for non-fiction that can give you comfort that your information is up to snuff. Compare the opinions of all your beta readers. If everyone says that a plot point doesn't work or certain data is questionable, go back and review the issue and then fix it. 

Proofreaders or Copy Editors

Proofreaders, or copy editors, are meant to be the most nitpicky of editors. They go through your manuscript and pick out every spelling error, misplaced comma, incorrect emdash, and missing capital letter you're guilty of. A proofreader is in charge of making sure your spelling and grammar are as perfect as can be, to allow for other editing to take place. They have nothing to do with the story itself, only the words and punctuation that make it up.

Line Editors

If proofreaders polish the words themselves, line editors make sure their meanings are correct. This type of editor looks through your story itself and looks for continuity problems, plot holes, factual errors, characters who simply disappear, and other instances of problems with the story itself. Line editors are the most intense kind of editor most writers will work with. Whether you're looking for an agent or planning to publish the book yourself, a line editor is the least you can do before approving your book for publication.

Substantive Editors

A substantive editor can get so involved with your manuscript that it may seem as if she's become another writer without credit. Substantive editors look at the story as a whole and decide where it hangs together and what parts of it need to be redone. If you've got a Stephen King-length manuscript, the odds are good that you've got parts in there that should be condensed or eliminated. Books with serious flaws but great hearts can benefit from substantive editors, but there have to be great bones to the story for it to be worth the effort.

Remember the old saying, "The more bookbrains the merrier" (AG, 2014). Live within your means and look for resources that can add that extrabit of insight that can make a difference in your finished work!

Keep the Faith and may the Force be with you!

 

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10 Quick Ways to a Become Famous in Your Genre: Author Discipline

  
  
  
  
  
  

Readers are creatures of habit. They'll pick up a Stephen King or John Grisham book and buy it, just because they've read and liked earlier books by the same author. They're a known entity; King with his horror and Grisham with lawyer thrillers. In order to make a living writing as a self-published author, your goal should be to become a go-to name in your genre. It's all a matter of marketing: embedding your name and face everywhere your typical reader will go, so they become so familiar with you they'll automatically buy your books.

authors famous

  1. Identify your ideal readers and market to them. If you write cozy mysteries, don't worry about vampire fans who don't buy your book. They're not your audience.

  2. Set up Google Alerts for your name, pen name, book names, genre, Twitter handle, other thought leaders, etc. Every time you get an alert, go to the site and make a comment or thank the writer for mentioning you.

  3. Study the competition. Not just the big dogs, but the indies in your genre who are making a living doing this every day. What are they doing on a weekly basis? Can you go where they go to pick up tips?

  4. Write a short bio that you'll use everywhere online. Your text shouldn't deviate by even one letter. This is the beginning of branding yourself, making your description look common and familiar to readers.

  5. Hold contests. Use Rafflecopter to give away books. Set up a giveaway using your Facebook ad. Create an attractive visual that readers will want to forward to their friends.

  6. Answer all your blog posts. Don't have a blog? Start a blog!

  7. Start conversations. Go on Google, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and start talking about your genre. Let people know you're an expert on your topic.

  8. Use multiple media. Create a series of amusing or useful YouTube videos. Make up songs and put them on Spotify. Make it look like you're everywhere.

  9. Be yourself. It's almost impossible to keep up a facade for months and years. Even if you do, readers will get angry and disillusioned when you slip and the real you comes out. Better to keep it real so you can always react with integrity.

  10. Pay it forward with HARO (Help a Reporter Out). You'll earn good karma points while getting published as an expert in your field.

  11. Bonus: Act like you're special and people will accept that you are. Make every book release a huge party. Blog like the expert you are. Help out those just starting out.

The path to becoming well known is a crooked, branching one, but the good part is that almost anyone can find enough shortcuts and side roads to cover most of the basics. Get your name out to as many places as you can. If it starts to feel like you're saturating your world with your books, you're on the right track for becoming a go-to known quantity in readers' minds.

Become more disciplined than your competion and you will have moved yourself into a position most in life do not acheive.

Keep the Faith and may the Force be with you!

 

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Audiobooks - An Amazing Untapped Market for Self Published Authors

  
  
  
  
  
  

First there was hardcover, then there was paperback, and now there are eBooks. Books are always evolving for the needs and desires of the readers. Along the way, somewhere on the side, the concept of audiobooks continued to grow. First on cassette tape, then CDs, they now exist in a digital form for audio only MP3 players and computers of all shapes and sizes.

Audio books people

With the growing popularity of eBooks, putting the effort and expense of also creating an audiobook may seem counterintuitive, but it's actually a great way to expand your reader base. There is a finite number of people who read books on a regular basis, and even Stephen King can only entice a certain percentage of them each time. The secret is in going out of the box (book) and touching those people who aren't regular readers. Who are these people who claim they never have time to read a book, even if they would like the opportunity? Audiobooks are a prefferred medium for many readers. People that listen to the spoken word may have problems with their eyesight or as described below just don't have the time. No matter the reasons why audiobook sales are growing and in 2013 reached $1.6 billion.

Commuters

It's a tough world, economically, and millions of people are in a job that includes a long commute to work every day. For 30 to 60 or more minutes in the morning, and the same amount of time in the evening, they battle traffic, listen to the news or pop music, and get more stressed out every day. These people are your ideal fan base because, once they catch on to the idea of listening to audiobooks in the car, they'll want to do it every single week. Instead of being stressed out by the traffic or international news, they'll relax and even look forward to their commute as a time when it's just them and their stories with no interruptions. Audiobooks can turn commutes from necessary evils into "me time."

Workout Enthusiasts

It's common to see people running on the road or using a treadmill in the gym with earbuds firmly in place. Usually they're listening to the latest pumped-up song hits, designed to add energy to their workout. Rhythm only goes so far, though, and the mind only connects so much when it comes to music. For those who work out to get healthy but don't necessarily love the process, anything that passes the time more quickly is a golden find. Once you get them to try a good audiobook they'll be hooked. Listening to music is pleasant and even energizing, but you can lose yourself in a book. They'll be done with their half hour on the treadmill before they realize it, all because they were caught up in what your characters were doing.

Parents

Are we there yet? Every parent's nightmare on a long commute or trip. Whether they have to travel daily to school or day care, or if they're simply taking a family vacation, parents need distractions for their kids. Audiobooks of their favorite chapter books are the ideal way to keep them quiet and interested until they reach their destination.

Audiobooks or audio books are here to stay and are an untapped source for new readers (maybe even pets?). Audio also provides a whole new slew of ways to market your book which we will delve into in more detail in a furture post!

Keep the Faith and may the Force be with you!

 

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1 - Surefire Way to Hook Your Readers for Life: E-mail Marketing

  
  
  
  
  
  

Like with any other retail business, the key to making massive sales with eBooks, print or audio books is with repeat customers. When self-publishing building your fan base and finding those loyal readers who buy everything you write as soon as you publish it is the best marketing you can do. Using social media is a great way to touch base with readers, but nothing beats sending personalized emails for keeping their interest between books.

hooked readers

Setting up an email marketing campaign is a simple task, thanks to multiple companies that specialize in this sales method. Simple enough for novice users to navigate, most of them even have free trials for a certain number of emails or addresses. Setting up the project may take an hour or two, including personalizing your email logo, but after that it's a matter of minutes to send out an email blast to everyone on your list.

Finding an E-mail Marketing Company

Do a search for email marketing and compare the offers between the most popular sites online. The right site for you depends on how much you're willing to spend and how many fans you think you'll eventually have. Choose wisely, as it's very difficult to switch companies later. Set up your account, design your email page, and grab the link to your signup page.

Spread the Word

Put the link to your signup page everywhere you can think of. The idea is to get as many email addresses as possible, so make it easy for readers to find you and sign up. Post the link on your blog and your website, put it in the back matter of every book you publish, and use it as part of your email signature.

Keep in Touch

Keep your readers updated as if they were your trusted friends. Emailing once a month is enough to keep them interested, but not so much that you start to seem annoying. The topic of emails should vary, depending on where you are in the writing process.

  • Plot twists and hints

  • Cover reveals

  • Plans for new books in a series

  • Advance notice when you publish

  • Offers for free ARCs in return for honest reviews

  • Free sample chapters or short stories as a thank you

  • Updates on you blog, interviews, signings, or any other notes on your writing life

The more readers feel like they have a personal connection with you and your writing process, the more likely they are to buy your books and spread the word to their friends about your writing. Word-of-mouth is still the best form of marketing; email marketing simply gives your biggest fans some insider information they can share with others. Keep in touch with them on a regular basis and you'll see surprising improvements in your book sales.

This is what I call a "Meat & Potatoes" strategy!

 

Keep the Faith and may the Force be with you!

 

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3 Unusual Book Marketing Methods That Really Work

  
  
  
  
  
  

You've used all the usual book marketing methods: Facebook pages, GoodReads account, Twitter, and even Pinterest. Your book is selling, but you could do a lot better. It's time to kick your marketing into another gear. People are bored with the same old ads, but something funny, outrageous, or strange will always catch their eyes. Raise your book sales (and your royalty check) by spinning a strange web of unusual marketing designed to snare readers with your creative talent.

Think outside book

Work With Your Street Team

Every successful writer has a group of fans who email regularly and who buy every new book as soon as it goes live. This group can become your fanatical, unpaid publicity machine, a street team. Street teams spread the word about your books to all their social media friends, often posting the word on blogs and websites. Assemble a street team from your email list or most familiar fans and offer them inside information about all upcoming books. Reward your team with ARCs, swag like bookmarks and stickers, virtual treats like badges for their website, and even the occasional t-shirt. They'll be loyal, being a special part of a group, and be motivated to push your books every time you release a new one.

Video Testimonial A La You

Book commercials are becoming more common, with even bestselling authors jumping on the bandwagon. Take this idea and run with it, jumping it up to the next level for maximum interest. Do a personalized testimonial about your book and some insider secrets. Create a clever or funny clip and spread it around your Facebook and Pinterest pages, encouraging your friends to share with others. Dress up as your main character and act out a scene in your book or try a visual mashup of dozens of clips to express the feeling behind your book. The more unusual the better, because memorable videos are the ones shared over and over again.

Create a New Identity

From rough draft to final product, you've lived with your book so long that the main character feels like a real person. Why not take this a step further and give him/her a personality and presence that anyone can see online? Set up a gmail account in your main character's name, then sign up for Facebook and Twitter using this account. Log onto the social media sites a couple times a week to make friends and share information. Post and respond exactly as your character would do, creating a living picture of your book's most important detail. Spread the word about your character's social media accounts to every reader, either through email or by posting the information in the back of the book. Readers will get caught up in the further adventures of your character, reinforcing their interest and creating a ready-made market for the next book in the series.

These are but a few ideas to perk things up a bit. Now.....go do it!

Keep the Faith and may the Force be with You!


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How to Build and Market Your Non-Fiction Book: Articles and Essays!

  
  
  
  
  
  

Whether you're just starting to plan your next non-fiction book or you've got a polished manuscript you're about to self-publish, writing and publishing shorter articles on the same topic can be a great way to generate interest and enthusiasm for your work.

self publishing non fiction articles

Promote By Doing What You Do Best: Writing!

Self publishing typically means handling the majority of your book marketing as well, which can suck a lot of time away from the hours you've already committed to actually writing.  Writing and sending out articles that support or expand the ideas in your book can keep you in the writing groove while simultaneously promoting your new project and building your name recognition. If you're not the kind of person who gets jazzed by writing a press release and jumping from one social media account to the next to promote your book, then this might be a more sane, reasonable approach for your book marketing plan.

Getting Started: Article or Excerpt?

First, consider whether you want to try to publish an excerpt from your book or a separate article that is still relevant to your book's subject matter. The goal is to provide readers with an entertaining, informative read that nonetheless keeps them wanting more. You should also consider the pros and cons of writing a "fresh" piece; this can be exciting and give you a boost of energy after completing a long book, but don't underestimate how long it can take to write a good pitch and complete an article for publication. You don't give away all the "good" stuff in an excerpt, but also avoid writing an article that's just a thinly veiled commercial for your book. Try to write a solid stand alone piece that will genuinely engage readers, then simply include the link for your book in your author's bio.

The Pitch

Next, it's time to pitch some editors of either online or traditonal brick and mortar publications. And yes, this is exactly the kind of stress you got to avoid when deciding to self publish! However, daily news, subject specific and culture publications thrive on variety, so if you've got a solid pitch, you have a good chance of getting that "yes" from a website or magazine publisher.  Browse a site like Poets and Writers to get a sense of which print magazines are open to pitches for articles.  You can also pitch local newspapers and magazines with an article that puts a regional spin on your subject matter.  Many websites and blogs also accept pitches for articles, so if you have a site where you think the audience could be a good fit for your work, be sure to clearly read over the guidelines before contacting the editor.  A good pitch is succinct and clear, and establishes that you are a professional author with a unique, well developed idea to share with readers. Be sure to include a professional bio that provides information on your current book project, and always follow up within a week or two to be proactive and get the ball moving!

Shifting from long form to short form can help energize your writing practice and hone your self-promotion skills, all while generating new connections and potential readers to introduce to your self published book. Start today and start building: piece by piece, reader by reader!

This is what I call a "natural strategy" for writers!

Keep the faith and may the force be with you!


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How to Write More in Less Time : And Keep the Quality

  
  
  
  
  
  

For some writers that golden number is 1,000. They're happy if they reach 1,000 words a day. Many full time writers boast about a consistent 2,000 words a day. While this is a respectable number, if you're in this group of writers you could be doing much more with your time. We're all busy, and most writers only have a certain number of hours in the day in which they can write. Why not make the most of what time you have? Using these techniques, you can double your word count per hour, or more, without losing any quality in your writing. The secret is to set yourself up for optimum writing power each time you sit down at the computer, increasing your productivity on a regular basis. Call it behavior modification or a self published author under self hypnosis, it can be done!

Write more less time author

Know Where You're Going

How many times have you been writing smoothly at a good pace, and suddenly come to a dead stop, trying to figure out what comes next? This ruins your flow, and it takes time to get back up to speed once you straighten out the plot point. You write best when you know exactly where you're going and you just have to write it down. Why not ensure this happens every time you write?

Take five minutes at the beginning of your writing session; no more and no less. Pull out a pad of paper and write down a detailed outline of what you're going to write today and how to get where you're going. Do a fully-detailed outline you can use as a roadmap when you do the actual writing. You'll be surprised how much you can plot out in five short minutes. Once you begin to write, you'll know exactly where you're going, plot point to plot point, and how you're going to get there. You'll write smoothly without any breaks, significantly increasing your productivity.

Timing is Crucial

You may notice that sometimes your writing flows smoothly and the words just appear magically, almost before you need them. Other times, it's almost like pulling teeth to put together a paragraph. Some of this might have to do with the way your story is going, but a lot of it is influenced by your body and your environment.

Start keeping a log every time you write. Note the time you started and stopped writing and the word count you accomplished. Also write down where you were when you wrote, the mood you were in (hungry? crabby? sleepy?), and the resulting flow of your words that day. After a solid month of keeping notes, look back to see similarities. If you're like almost every other writer in existence, you'll have more productive times and times when your word count plummets. Your goal from here is a simple one: schedule your writing sessions at the time and place where you're most productive. If 2:00 at Starbucks or midnight in the basement produces the most words per hour, that's your ideal writing window. Use it and you can finish your novel in half the time. Oh and by the way there is no free lunch...

Keep the faith and may the force be with you!


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How to Create an Author Mastermind Group: Absorb Success!

  
  
  
  
  
  

Now this is a really fun and effective strategy to get to the next level!

Yes, writing is a solitary occupation, but talking things out with other writers almost always makes for better finished novels and works of non-fiction. You've done the Facebook writing groups, posted on KindleBoards' Writer's Cafe, and may even have started your own writer's bulletin board or forum. These are all good resources, but you may be craving a more detailed and personalized approach to take your writing career to the next level. You might be searching for a mastermind group without really knowing it.

Author Mastermind eye

What is a Mastermind Group?

Less than a partnership but more than a forum, a mastermind group is a small group of like-minded professionals who get together on a regular basis to discuss the challenges of their business, and to brainstorm solutions to problems. Usually a group of four to six people, the best mastermind groups aren't made up of people in the same profession. Your optimum group may include editors, graphic artists, bloggers, and even marketing entrepreneurs. As long as you're all freelance creative people with the same amount of drive and determination, you can make an effective mastermind group.

How Does it Work?

Group members meet on a regular basis, whether weekly, monthly, or whatever works for their group. Today's mastermind groups can use Skype or Google+ Hangouts, message boards, or IM. You can even find apps that allow you to host virtual meetings on your smartphones. Each member gets a certain amount of time to present, and the group can discuss afterwards. You can develop your own agenda, but a good start is to have every member state what they're working on, what they've learned since the last time you've met, and what they need help with. This is where having a more diverse group comes in handy, since having different business points of view can engender unique solutions to problems that you might not have ever considered.

Build Your Own Group

Building a mastermind group is a personal thing, so no two groups are ever alike. There are basic methods to creating a group, techniques that help ensure a viable group that helps all the members equally. Search your own online groups and social media hangouts for people with the same amount of drive and ambition as yourself. You're probably already friends with some, but may only know others superficially. Don't concentrate on writers alone; a mastermind group is better with a variety of talents. Narrow the list down to 3-5 names and email them all an explanation of mastermind groups, and ask if they'd be willing to commit to one. Choose a venue, either a chat room, live hangout, or phone call. Decide on a meeting schedule; most people find once or twice a month a good start. You'll need to make adjustments as members drop out or lose interest, but in a matter of months you can have a viable group that will work well together for years.

I am currently conducting a mastermind with one other person on a weekly basis. We may expand the group but we may not. Why not? Because we are having very effective and enjoyable sessions and the time is not right...yet... to bring in other "minds". Give it a try you may be surprised at the outcome!

Keep the faith and may the force be with you!


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A Writers Fix for Plot Block or Derailment: Interview Your Characters

  
  
  
  
  
  

It happens to plotters and pantsers alike (although, admittedly, more to pantsers): your book goes off the rails into a new direction, and you don't know where you're going or what's going to happen when you get there. Your main character had done it again and run your novel off your envisioned track. While you might find a bit of serendipity here if a great plot twist reveals itself, it's more likely going to end up with muddled chapters and a complete lack of direction. Sooner or later it's going to bog down with your story going nowhere, fast.

Character Interview

So what's a poor self published writer to do when headstrong characters insist on going their own way, running around off in different directions with the tattered rags of your plot trailing behind? A big part of the problem may be you and your lack of knowledge about your characters. What do they want? How would they react in different situations? Before you write a word you should know your main characters at least as well as you know your neighbors or cousins. And the best way to do that is to set up an interview.

The Interview Topics

Just like when you interview a real person, it's a good idea to make a list of topics before you interview your main character. Not every writer needs to know the same details and motivations, but some subjects are surprisingly universal. Whether you're writing a love story, a political thriller, or a science fiction epic, your character's past will influence his presence. Was he abused or abandoned as a child? Did his first true love cheat on him, giving him major trust issues? Does he have a large hidden tragedy in his past? Significant events in our past dictate our actions and reactions in the present. Find out why your character does what he does, and you'll know what he'll do six chapters down the line.

It's in the Details

Whether you ever mention them in your book or not, it's the details that combine together to form your main character into a fully-realized person. They may seem insignificant in terms of your planned plot lines, but tiny details may affect her actions, and will always add realism to your storytelling.

  • Is she an alcoholic? Obvious or subtle about this?

  • Long hair or short? If long, does it ever get in the way?

  • What is her most annoying habit?

  • If you're writing a mystery, what's her history with the victim?

  • Did your historical character know any royalty? What was that meeting like?

  • How well does he know the other players in the conspiracy? Did they used to have coffee together?

They may all seem like trivial questions, but the answers can combine to create a richer view of your character, plus can give you clues about how she will act and react to upcoming plot points.

Keep the faith and may the force be with you!


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