Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Top Blog Posts of 2012

At Write Your Life, we enjoy sharing tips and information to help you get smart about becoming a self-published author. Throughout 2012, our team of bloggers has shared valuable expertise and knowledge to help you succeed. Here, we share a few of our top picks from the year. 

Many authors do all their writing first and think that they can wait to work on plans and goals later, when the book is ready to be released. But in doing that, they’re starting out behind. Here are five questions to consider before writing and publishing your book.

Stop searching for the Holy Grail of all writing instruction materials and instead build your network of academic pros, literary pros, and colleagues to hone your craft.

Time and patience and inspiration allow great authors to achieve eloquent and emotional introductions. With a little effort, you, too, can craft a strong opening line.

Writers need to write. The learning curve can be tough. Demanding. But it’s important to your craft. If you want to get better, here are some ways to improve. 

Most often, new authors consider the dollar cost of book production as an expense rather than an investment. The distinction, as I see it, is that an investment suggests an anticipated return while an expense may not. And so it should be with your book project.

The time to begin making connections and building relationships for marketing is BEFORE your book is complete. Small, consistent steps make it easy.

Taking the time at the start of your writing journey to consider how you might wrap up your story will become one of the biggest favors you’ve ever done for yourself.

A professional edit is an essential component of a well-produced book. So why do so many authors, particularly self-published authors, skip this vital step? It could be that they do not know what to look for when choosing an editor.

Many think the hardest part of publishing a book is writing it, but that’s the easiest part for most authors. Marketing is equally important. Here are some ideas for generating special market sales.

For strategic authors, identifying an ideal reader – a target audience, as it's called in marketing – is an unvoidable and absolutely necessary first step in creating a book that will appeal to a niche market.

If you’re looking to get a commercial or academic publisher, here are the top five things you should include in your book proposal. 

The power of a dollar can go quite far with your book marketing budget. As the co-author of How to Market Your Book For Free, I have learned to use various strategies to market my books while on a budget, through healthy self-competition, for a substantial return on my investment. 

We wish you a peaceful, prosperous, and phenomenal New Yew Year. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

8 Essential Items to Include in Your How-To Book

You’re writing a how-to or self-help book and you want to teach people something. You want your readers to not only enjoy the read, but to learn something valuable and to immediately put it into practice.

How do you know if you’ve covered all the bases to help your readers maximize their experience with your book? Consider these eight items to include in your how-to book:

Who are you? Here is where you position yourself as an expert. In a previous post, I explain the three questions audiences (and readers of self-help books) ask themselves about you to help them know of your expert status. State your credentials. What education, industry experience, or certifications do you have? How and why did you decide to pursue this line of work? What do you hope readers will learn from the information you share in your book?      

Overview of the book. Do yourself and your readers a favor and clearly explain, in the introduction or first chapter, what your book is about. In addition, mention the types of readers who will get the most benefit from reading your book and implementing the strategies and information included.

Tell me a story. Although your focus is to teach a concept, readers love a good story. Sprinkle in examples and case studies throughout your book. Include stories of how you learned a particular concept or how you assisted a client. Readers can learn from the best practices, mistakes, and successes you share.

Step-by-step instructions. Your book is all about “how to.” Therefore, explain in detail how readers can apply what you are teaching. Give step-by-step instructions, explaining even the most obvious items.

Templates, tables, and worksheets. How-to books are for the “do-it-yourselfers” among us. Give readers the tools to easily begin implementing your concepts. Use charts, tables, worksheets, and other resources that readers can follow or fill in using their own unique circumstances.

Results. Your book might explain a process or system that you have created. It is fine to describe this, but sharing the results readers could expect adds a valuable component to your book. Estimate possible outcomes or, once again, use examples and case studies to demonstrate the results others have experienced by using your system.

Contact info. Imagine that readers might either have questions after reading your book or, better yet, that they might wish to become a client. Be sure to include several ways for them to reach you, such as your email address, website, social media links, phone number, and business address.

Links to online resources. Gone are the days when a reader’s experience ends on the last page of a hard copy book. Including links to online resources – especially those on your own website – further transforms your book into a useful tool. Send readers to a webpage where they can download a form, watch a video, listen to a podcast, read a blog post, or make a comment.

Use these essential elements to help make your next self-help or how-to book even more valuable for readers.

What other elements have you found useful in these types of books?

Anita Paul, known as The Author's Midwife, coaches aspiring authors to write a phenomenal book and helps current authors use their existing books to leverage their business. She is the author of Write Your Life: Create Your Ideal Life and the Book You've Been Wanting to Write, and is the creator of the Write Your Life program, through which she has created a dynamic system to Write Your Book in 90 Days or Less. She has owned The Write Image for 15 years, and has had her freelance articles featured in over 25 publications in the U.S. and Canada. Anita is also the host of "Book Your Success".

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

10 Questions to Ask When Choosing an Editor

A professional edit is an essential component of a well-produced book. So why do so many authors, particularly self-published authors, skip this vital step? It could be that they do not know what to look for when choosing an editor.

The range of editing services is vast. When choosing an editor, it’s important to know exactly what you’re paying for and the extent of the services you’ll receive (and maybe more importantly, won’t receive). Many editors do not specify exactly what services they offer, so getting the answers to the following 10 questions will help ensure a smooth and successful edit of your manuscript.

1.       Will you do a complimentary sample edit?

The best way to compare editors is to compare sample edits of the same material. Usually two pages of a double-spaced manuscript will be sufficient. From a sample edit, you’ll get an idea of how thorough each editor is.

2.      What services am I paying for?

The most basic service is a proofread. For this service, grammar, punctuation, style consistency, and typos are reviewed. Typically, no content-related revisions are suggested. A proofread is often done in one review, though I contend that more reviews are usually necessary.

The most extensive service is a thorough edit, which in addition to a basic proofread may include content revision and fact checking. A thorough edit can take two to four full reviews of your manuscript to complete, depending on its length and the changes required.

3.      How many times will you review the manuscript, and will you make the edits yourself or only note where edits are needed?

It’s important to know how many times your manuscript will be reviewed. It’s difficult to catch all of the errors in a manuscript in just one review, unless it requires only a few changes.

If your editor suggests several revisions to your manuscript during the initial review, you need to know who will proof those changes after they are made. This is extremely important because of the time involved and the possibility of introducing new errors. Some editors will make the changes themselves, but some will only point out the needed changes. In addition to saving you time, having the changes made for you will keep you from making new mistakes that are not caught, particularly with rewritten material.

4.      How much experience do you have with my type of manuscript?

If you are in need of only a basic proofread, then you have many professionals to choose from. If, however, content revision is necessary, be sure that the professional you choose has the type of experience you need. For example, if you are writing fiction, and you are not sure if you wrote well-developed characters, you need an editor who knows character development. Do not hesitate to ask how many books the editor has edited in your genre. Historical fiction and children’s books, for example, may require different expertise.

5.      What is your turnaround time?

Make sure that timelines are clear, and find out what happens if they are not met. If more than one revision is necessary, part of the time that it takes to complete your project may depend on how quickly you can make changes and respond to questions. Expect to pay more for rush jobs.

6.      What style guides are you familiar with?

Most nonacademic, new authors are not aware of style guides. For books, the Chicago Manual of Style and the Associated Press Stylebook are commonly used style guides. Your editor needs to know which style you are using and to be familiar with that style when reviewing your manuscript for consistency.

You may also use your own style, as long as you are consistent, which is difficult if you’re not aware of your style choices (e.g., which numbers will you spell out and will you use the serial comma).

7.       What correction/commenting method do you use?

Many editors use the track changes tool in Word. If your document is not in Word or if your editor does not use track changes, you might communicate by fax with comments handwritten on the document.

8.      If you have questions about my content or if I have questions about your edits, will we have a phone conversation, or do you communicate electronically only? If phone conversations are included, is there a limit to the number of calls or the duration of the calls?

Some points of clarification and questions do not translate well by email. You need to know if you can ask questions by phone and if your editor will call you with complicated questions or explanations.

9.      How and when do you invoice, and what payment methods do you accept?

When possible, don’t pay for your service in full in advance. If you do, you may not have any recourse if the job is not completed as promised.

By using PayPal or a similar service, you can file a dispute if you have problems with their merchant, and you won’t have to give your credit card number to a stranger. If your editor does not have a PayPal account, suggest that she get one. Setting up an account is free, fast, and easy.

10.   Do you have a satisfaction guarantee, and will you put the terms in writing?

Find out what happens if your expectations are not met. This information is also helpful when comparing editors.

Be sure to get your agreement in writing. Though a formal contract is probably not necessary, it’s a good idea to have clearly defined expectations and target dates in writing.

Getting answers to these important questions will help you choose the right editor for your needs. Being an informed consumer may also save you time and money. Here’s to your bestseller that you will be proud to present again and again!

See Ms. Hyde’s previous guest blog post "Errors in Your Writing Can Be Costly."


Tippi Hyde is a freelance editor whose clients have referred to her as the editor with the eagle eye, a master copyeditor, and proofreader extraordinaire. She has been hired to proofread/copyedit for Cox Enterprises (one of America’s largest private companies), the City of Atlanta, nonprofit organizations, and universities. Her editing work includes blogs, books, websites, policy monographs, grant proposals, grant reports, and doctoral dissertations, and she has copyedited documents that were presented to the White House, local government, and The Oprah Winfrey Foundation.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Are There Too Many Books on the Market?

If you’re like me, it seems that everytime you turn around someone has a new book out. Or maybe you’re not like me, because when this happens I love it! Seriously, I believe that everyone has at least one good book in them. Whether it’s a celebrity, a corporate tycoon, a survivor, a hero or one of the millions of  “regular” people among us, authoring and self-publishing a book is becoming one of the fastest, most effective ways to tell your story. But do you really need to write a book? After all, aren’t there already too many books on the market?

According to R.R. Bowker, a leader in the publishing industry, an estimated 15 million new book titles will be publshed by the end of 2012. That’s up from 3 million in 2011 and up from 1 million in 2010. That’s a phenomenal growth! So with all of that competition for the eyes and wallets of readers, why write another book to muddy up the marketplace?

Book Tunnel by Petr Kratochvil
My response is that if having “too many books” on the market in America is our biggest problem, we’re doing pretty well. After all, did you know that the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms estimated that in 2010 there were 5.4 million new firearms manufactured in the U.S., and another 3.2 million were imported. In addition, it is estimated that an amazing 14 billion hamburgers are sold in the U.S. each year. And, consider that there are 254 million registered passenger vehicles in the U.S. according to the U.S. Department of Transportation (can you say, “traffic jam!”).
No, I haven’t turned into a spout of senseless statistical data. The point I’m making is that books are among our least dangerous domestic product. So if it’s true that there are too many books – which I completely disagree with – then at least our surplus product has a benefit to its end user: to educate, inspire and inform. Besides that, if there wasn’t a thriving market for books – as in millions of people who still love to read – authors, publishing companies and others would not be producing books. In short, books are fulfilling a basic tenet of economics: supply and demand. Hats off to all you authors (and readers)!

So the next time you hear someone mention that there are too many books and there is absolutely no reason that anyone should write another one, just let them know that you’ve got a book of your own, and advise them to simply make the check out to you (thank you very much)!


Anita Paul, known as The Author's Midwife, coaches aspiring authors to write a phenomenal book and helps current authors use their existing books to leverage their business. She is the author of Write Your Life: Create Your Ideal Life and the Book You've Been Wanting to Write, and is the creator of the Write Your Life program, through which she has created a dynamic system to Write Your Book in 90 Days or Less. She has owned The Write Image for 15 years, and has had her freelance articles featured in over 25 publications in the U.S. and Canada. Anita is also the host of "Book Your Success".

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Be a Better Writer

Image courtesy of
adamr at
The first step to being a writer is to proclaim yourself. “My name is [fill in the blank] and I’m a writer.” By doing this you give voice to the fact that you have an unshakeable, deep-seeded desire to communicate with words. To describe situations. To tell stories. You can’t help yourself. You may have come to this realization early in life. Some writers begin when they’re children. Or you may have chanced upon it late in life, as I did. No matter when this amazing incident occurred, it did happen.

If you have any insecurities about who you are, take a deep breath, close your eyes, spread your arms out wide and shout, “My name is [fill in the blank] and I’m a writer.” Your voice might be tenuous at first. Even a little wimpy. But with practice you can stand there with the best of them and be comfortable.
Now that you’ve proclaimed yourself, it’s time to enhance your status. Writers need to write. It’s a given and you can’t ignore it. Beginning writers often think everything they write is perfection. The learning curve can be tough. Demanding. But it’s important to your craft. If you want to get better, here are some ways to improve.

Don’t be shy. Network. Facebook and Twitter are an okay place to start, but be brave. Hang out with other writers, in person, and be a sponge. Soak up information. People love to share about their wins and losses, their challenges, how they overcame their obstacles. Maybe they have a cool story to tell. Maybe you have a great story too. Go to events, conferences and meetups. If you’re truly shy, make it your goal to talk to just one person. If you’re dynamic and outgoing, talk to a bunch of people. Pay attention to what they figured out along the way and see if you can apply their lesson to your own journey. Learn, and see how you can help others.

Take Classes
You’ve just finished your first draft and it’s a terrific manuscript. Why would you need a writing class? I wrote six novels before I admitted I had a problem with plot. I also had weak characters and unbelievable situations. I would stake my scenic descriptions against any bestselling author, but beautiful descriptions do not a bestseller make. I found my solution in online writing classes, specifically one on plotting. Who knew that GMC was so important, or that it would offer the key to the mystery of great storytelling? I didn’t. But after that class, my writing reached a new level; one that worked!

Writers Online Classes ( and ( both offer good and affordable classes for about $30. Classes last about a month, you get 2-3 lessons per week, feedback from the teacher, and interaction with other writers. I met two amazing editing partners in one class last year who were a tremendous help with my latest novel.

Join a Critique Group
A critique group is a group of authors who read each other’s work and offer constructive feedback. Writers in a critique group are committed to writing and to learning about writing. The beauty of a critique group is having multiple eyes view your work. Fresh eyes. Your critique partners don’t know your story like you do, so they won’t make assumptions. If something doesn’t make sense in your story, they’ll find it and point it out.  

It may take some trial and error to find the right group. Not all personalities mesh, nor do all writing styles. Always, always be honest with your feedback, and be compassionate as well. Expect the same in return. And realize you’ll need to develop thick skin. My first experience with a critique group was awful. I swore I wouldn’t go back. Two weeks later I’d recovered from the initial shock and I returned. It was the best decision I could have made.
Don’t write in a vacuum. If you don’t share your writing with others, you’ll never know how good or bad it is. Consult your local area writing organizations for a group near you.

Write a Novel in a Month
November is Nanowrimo, National Novel Writing Month, the time when writers from all over the world sign up to write a novel in a month. Sound crazy? You bet. Last year there were over 250,000 participants and almost 37,000 crossed the finish line. You begin your novel on November 1. Your goal is to complete 50,000 words by midnight November 30. You have to start from scratch (you can’t use anything previously written). You must be the sole author of your work. Your work has to be a novel (not a memoir, autobiography, essay or other nonfiction). And you can’t use the same word 50,000 times.

Nanowrimo isn’t for everyone. It requires dedication, concentration and a lot of stream of consciousness flow. Fifty thousand words over 30 days means at least 1666.66 words per day. No staring at that blank computer screen. Put something on it. No editing what you’ve just written; you don’t have time. Just write. The reward is a 50,000 word manuscript when you’re done, and that’s a serious piece of writing. You’ll also meet lots of other writers and explore different ways of writing. To sign up for next year's challenge, go to  
Now that I’ve listed these tips, I’m standing up, I’m spreading my arms out wide, and I’m shouting, “My name is Nanette Littlestone, and I’m a writer!”  


Nanette Littlestone is a freelance editor, writing coach, and author who has worked with both fiction and nonfiction for 20 years. She specializes in helping authors to use their passion to achieve their own unique voice and message. For more information, please visit

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

4 Ways to NEVER Finish Your Book

So here you are at the end of another year, still wanting to write that book that’s been on your mind, yet still no closer to finishing it than when you added  “Finish Book” to your list of New Year’s Resolutions last year. Oh, I get it, things have come up; lots of things. Life got busy, priorities were rearranged and somehow the book thing was moved way down on the list of must-dos this year. Perhaps it was even shifted from your 2012 to-do list to your longer term “bucket list.”

Honestly, adding your book to your list of New Year’s Resolutions is probably one of the best ways to never finish your book. There’s too much pressure with that. Plus, there’s no plan to go along with it. Although it seems like a worthy goal to record, it just doesn’t work that way. If you want to avoid being in this same place this time next year, here are a few things to avoid at all costs, basically ways to never, ever finish your book.

Depending on when something begins, ends or changes; as in ...  “When I retire, I’ll write my book,” or “As soon as the kids go visit their grandparents for the summer, I’ll get right down to business with my manuscript,” or “When I finally finish this master’s program (or the divorce is finalized, or the kids go back to school, or ... well, you get the point), I’m going to get started on my book.” These are really procrastination tactics. Don’t fall for them. Set a real deadline with a date that makes you slightly uncomfortable, and get started now!

Keeping hidden notes. Congrats for keeping notes for the content you want to include in your book. However, when you hide them from yourself and from others, you basically engage in the “out of sight out of mind” practice of book production. Your notes should be in your face, visible and accessible so that when you get another brilliant idea, you’ve got them at the ready. Pull out those notes, dust them off, organize them and watch them take the form of your manuscript.

Being a secret agent. Akin to the hidden notes tactic, never telling anyone you know that you’re writing a book is an almost sure sign that you’ll never get it done. What are you afraid of that you just can’t tell anyone you’re writing a book? Do you think they’ll laugh at you; try to talk you out of it; nag you about whether you’re done yet? They absolutely will. So what! When you tell others – especially supportive people – of your intentions, it sets things in stone and allows them to encourage you and to hold your feet to the fire. It’s much easier to let yourself down than it is to let others down. Tell a friend.

Trying to do it all by yourself. Writing a book is serious stuff. Just as you wouldn’t undergo an extreme life transformation without the input of a life coach, or start a business without the expert insight of a business coach, accountant or attorney, you shouldn’t try writing your book without the insight of a writers group, critique group, writing instructor or an author’s coach. Yes, that’s a shameless plug!

Do all of the above (or any one of them, for that matter), and you’ll never, ever finish your book. Take my advice, and maybe, just maybe you’ll have your book published this time next year. Honestly, I’m cheering for you to do the right thing!


Anita Paul, known as The Author's Midwife, coaches aspiring authors to write a phenomenal book and helps current authors use their existing books to leverage their business. She is the author of Write Your Life: Create Your Ideal Life and the Book You've Been Wanting to Write, and is the creator of the Write Your Life program, through which she has created a dynamic system to Write Your Book in 90 Days or Less. She has owned The Write Image for 15 years, and has had her freelance articles featured in over 25 publications in the U.S. and Canada. Anita is also the host of "Book Your Success".

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Writing to Remember

I recently attended a memorial service for my friend Patrice. The service was filled with stories of her joyful life, the people she impacted and her accomplishments. Among other achievements, Patrice was an author and copies of her award-winning book were given out to friends and family after the service. Merrill, her friend for more than forty years, talked about the wonderful letters Patrice had written during their friendship and read a few excerpts.

With Patrice’s death, I was reminded of the last few weeks of my dad’s life. Daddy had been battling kidney failure combined with heart disease and was declining rapidly. When the decision was made to move him to hospice, he would no longer be getting dialysis and we knew he would live only a short time — maybe a week or two.
I set up a CarePages blog site a few days before Daddy went into hospice. On it, I posted daily updates for friends and family. I started combining memories of my dad, moments of appreciation for a particular day and updates of his status to create snapshots in time for those who followed the page.
As my entries became more personal, the messages posted began to reflect the content of that day’s update. In one of my entries, I commented, “I’m grateful for the miracle of this time of captured moments.” In response, a friend stated, “I appreciate you sharing these loving ‘minute miracles’ with all of us.”
A few days later, my update was about puzzles. My brother, his girlfriend and I had finished a puzzle that my dad started months earlier, before spending two of his last three months in the hospital. Over the years, I have many fond memories of working puzzles with my dad and siblings. (My mom didn’t enjoy puzzles — she was often in the kitchen making us something delicious to eat.) Putting a puzzle together was a way to visit about the day’s happenings while creating together.
After finishing the puzzle, I was reading When God Winks by SQuire Rushnell and was brought to tears by this excerpt … “Our view of life is limited. We go from day to day, looking at one puzzle piece at a time. But there is another perspective. While we are trying to make sense out of one odd-looking piece after another, we can take comfort know that all of the pieces DO fit into a plan that could only have been created by a higher power. Only when we near the finish and begin to attain a more global perspective does the whole composition have clarity.” I added this excerpt to my update about the completion of the puzzle.
My cousin Sherry commented, “That is a lovely thought. We are so looking forward to seeing your dad later this week, if that fits into the puzzle. What a beautiful scene his life is and has been over the years.”
At the memorial service celebrating Daddy’s life, many told me how the daily updates helped prompt their own wonderful memories of him.

After Daddy died, I created a spiral-bound book that included all the entries and comments from those who followed the updates. When I read those pages, now almost two years after his passing, I am stunned by the encouragement and love that poured out from friends and family, prompted by my few paragraphs every day.
I encourage you to write when all is well, as well as write when passing through a difficult time. When life is especially hectic or sad, as in an illness or a loved one’s transition from life to death, the days blur. A few written thoughts or paragraphs give expression to emotion — particularly when life feels too overwhelming to speak it aloud. Write to tell people you love them. It serves as a remembrance of sacred times, those filled with joy and those awash in grief. and provide free blog sites designed to keep family, friends and communities connected.


Vanessa Lowry is a marketing consultant, graphic designer, author, radio host and speaker. She leverages nearly 30 years of design and marketing expertise to support book authors who are self publishing.
Twitter @vanessalowry

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Writing Sessions: Secret to Meeting Timelines and Deadlines

Timelines and deadlines can be either your worst enemy or your best friend when writing your book. These are the goals and guidelines that disciplined authors use to gauge their progress in developing content for their manuscript. However you view these necessary elements of your book production, you must know that they are truly essential to writing a quality book that gets published sooner rather than later (or worse, NEVER).

You’ll never get your book done if you don’t sit down and do it. That takes time, intention and focus. It takes your unyielding commitment to abide by your writing sessions to help you produce results. Your writing sessions are sacred; they’re a valuable and non-negotiable aspect of the book authoring process. When you see them that way, so will others. So how do you make the most of your writing sessions and stick to your timeline to meet your deadline?

First, create a writing schedule. In my self-study course,  “Write Your Book in 90 Days or Less,” I share the importance of having a schedule for writing your book. If you don’t schedule your writing sessions and give them priority, just as you do other important aspects of your life, finishing your book by your target date will be nearly impossible. Click here for a sample writing schedule and a template you can use.

Secondly, honor your writing sessions. Think of yourself as a genius at work, creating a masterpiece or the cure for what will heal the world. There is value in the words you create, the knowledge you share, the characters you introduce, and the insight you expose. Begin to see your book as the answer to a life-transforming question that someone is asking. They will never receive that answer if you don’t honor your writing sessions and get your book done.

Third, be realistic with your time. Understand that, even when you set aside time to write, you will need some time to get into the mood to write. Give yourself time to do so. When I was writing my novel, What Goes Around Comes Around, I discovered that it took me several minutes at the start of my writing sessions to get back into the mind of the character I was writing about at the close of the previous writing session. I had to be right there in the scene, feeling what s/he was feeling and living in the same moment. The same was true for when I was writing the self-help journal, Write Your Life: Create Your Ideal Life and the Book You’ve Been Wanting to Write. I had to be in a place mentally that was comfortable and relaxed and free of worry or stress. I was writing a journal, after all. And since journaling is, by nature, an act of release and renewal, stress had no place in the creation of that book. I had to allow myself time to manage my mind and my craft.

Taking a no-excuses approach to writing your book is essential to achieving the results you want. Setting a timeline and meeting your self-imposed deadline are also important aspects of becoming a successful published author. The key to it all can be found in your writing sessions. Schedule them. Honor them. Maximize them. Your book – and your readers – are depending on it.

What’s the greatest challenge you face during your writing sessions?

Anita Paul, known as The Author's Midwife, coaches aspiring authors to write a phenomenal book and helps current authors use their existing books to leverage their business. She is the author of Write Your Life: Create Your Ideal Life and the Book You've Been Wanting to Write, and is the creator of the Write Your Life program, through which she has created a dynamic system to Write Your Book in 90 Days or Less. She has owned The Write Image for 15 years, and has had her freelance articles featured in over 25 publications in the U.S. and Canada. Anita is also the host of "Book Your Success".

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

One Dollar Marketing

I remember when, as a teenager (25 years ago), McDonald’s started promoting breakfast items for less than 80 cents. Then a trend started where other fast-food restaurants starting promoting $1 menu items. Recently, I noticed a McDonald’s commercial where the actor goes to various retail stores asking, “What can I get for a dollar?” and ends up at McDonald’s, where the cashier points to the menu featuring a variety of items for one dollar.

As a marketing major in college, I recall reading an article where the writer encouraged readers to act as if their marketing budget was $1. I thought it was an ingenious way to challenge people to be creative in developing a marketing plan. Now, in the Age of the Internet, there are a number of ways to market for $1 or less. Here, I outline a few tips on how to implement One Dollar Marketing for your book:

Budget. In the same way that you have a budget for your household, you should have a marketing budget for your book. When I am on a tight budget and have only a few dollars to spend on lunch, I strategize to determine what is the best meal I can make or buy within my budget. For example, if I only have $5, I may decide to order five items for $1 each from the value menu at a fast-food restaurant. On the other hand, I may decide to purchase items totaling $5 or less at the grocery store, and create multiple meals. Believe me, I have done both. When marketing your book, determine what your budget is, and figure out the smartest way to invest your money. The idea is to determine your budget and create a marketing plan that can help you reach your target audience. 

Competition. On a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the highest, my score for competitiveness is a 10. For me, there is no greater thrill than a challenge. If you are like me, you might approach marketing your book like you would any other a challenge. You can create your own competition with your $1 marketing budget (or any other amount). Begin by developing a marketing plan to reach a specific number of readers in your target audience. For example, if your marketing budget is $1 and you need to reach 10,000 readers, challenge yourself to develop a marketing campaign to reach that audience. Take the time to write down your top 10, 20 or 50 ways to market your book within that budget. You will be amazed at how creative you can be when there is a challenge.

Return on Investment (ROI). When marketing, it is important to calculate your ROI before spending money on a marketing campaign. Return on investment is a measure of the profit earned from each investment. Similar to the “return” or profit you earn on your investment portfolio or bank account, ROI is calculated as a percentage. In simple terms, the calculation is: (Return - Investment)/Investment. It is expressed as a percentage, so multiply your results by 100 to find your ROI. 

As you can see, I believe the power of a dollar can go quite far with your book marketing budget. As the co-author of How to Market Your Book For Free, I have learned to use various strategies to market my books while on a budget, through healthy self-competition, for a substantial return on my investment. For more tips on how to market for $1, or for free, look for the book coming soon. 

Nicole Antoinette, author, publisher, and founder of the Suwanee Festival of Books launched Faith Books & MORE Publishing in June 2008. She is an independent business consultant, professional writer, and adjunct college professor. She currently resides in Suwanee, GA with her son Joshan, an aspiring film director.

Telephone: 678.232.6156

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Characters and SuperHeroes – The Influencers

Last week, a provocative little book caught my eye – Every Moment Matters: Savoring the Stuff of Life by John St. Augustine. I admit I was slightly influenced to buy it because of the Foreword by Dr. Oz and the lovely photo on the cover. However, the real attraction was the subject, which had also been the topic of a recent conversation.

In the roughly 20-chapter narrative, the author describes pleasurable moments that many of us in our busy worlds may miss, ignore or take for granted. You know: playtimes with our pets, unplanned reunions, walking on soft earth or realizing – years later – that you’ve been influenced by someone for the better.

The chapter entitled “Captain Dracula” intrigued me. Being a Dark Shadows fan and Bram Stoker student (but a little too old for the Twilight/True Blood/etc. phenom), I had been scared out of my wits by Bela Lugosi and Vincent Price – and my father, who played COUNT Dracula at the town Civic Center’s Haunted House one year. I had never heard of CAPTAIN Dracula. John St. Augustine's name “Captain Dracula” was born of his father’s love of the Star Trek television show and his passion for Halloween: a combination of Captain James Kirk and Count Vladimir Dracula. “Captain” played Star Trek with the young St. Augustine in the back yard, fighting aliens and exploring the universe. “Dracula” redecorated the entire house and lawn to accommodate dozens, if not hundreds, of kids and parents who wanted to be enjoyably frightened by a saber-toothed, cape-wearing man who dripped “blood.” St. Augustine loved both the characters and the superheroes that his dad brought into his life – as did the entire neighborhood that joined in the celebrations.

In the final hours of his father’s life, St. Augustine relived some special moments that further bonded him to his father. The author began to see the reasoning for some of his father’s actions, and understanding his motivation, forgave him. This also led him to accept his own “faults, successes, good and bad.” He realized, years later, that in addition to being Captain Kirk and Count Dracula, his dad was the superhero and character of Wise Teacher.

The first anniversary of my mother’s death recently passed. She was a teacher by profession, and many characters and superheroes by personality. Some of my favorites were: Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (One of us kids was always getting sick or hurt.); Auntie Mame (She loved life.); Miss Martha Stewart (Wait, she’s real! But like her, my mom could create anything.); Miss Manners (We knew our etiquette, thank you.); and Miss Catholic Trivia (This was a character we made up, but was real enough, as she undoubtedly knew answers to any question about religion.). So what do we have: Dr. Auntie Martha Manners Trivia? In such a complex personality, there were numerous motivations, history and goals associated with her decisions and actions. While we didn’t always see eye to eye (literally and figuratively, as I was six inches taller than she), I am further realizing, years later, that her influence on me from all those little moments mattered, and has shaped me to be more caring, fun, creative and thoughtful.

Many of us have encountered an extraordinary person who presented tremendous opportunity to help us grow and explore. Regardless of our response to them at the time, we may look back years later to see the extent of their influence. The lesson here is this: when we describe our life or another person’s life, the conversation can’t be complete without acknowledgement of characters or superheroes that had an impact. Most of our influencers didn’t make decisions in the dark (although I just had a vision of John St. Augustine’s father creating a coffin for Dracula in a dark workshop). They had reasons. Your writing will be richer if you answer questions like these about the influencers: What were their superhero personalities? What characters did they emulate? Why did they make decisions as they did, and would we follow suit or do opposite?

By analyzing the motivation, history and goals of the superhero and character influencers, you'll learn more about them – and possibly about yourself.

As CEO of Write Advisors, Bonnie Bajorek Daneker helps clients express themselves digitally and in print. Author of The Compassionate Caregiver Series®, Bonnie released her seventh book, CLIMB, in November 2010, with Sandy Hofmann, President of Women in Technology (WIT). Her most recent book, Publishing as a Marketing Strategy, is co-written with five other contributors and was released November 2011. She holds a BA in Journalism from The Ohio State University and an MBA in Strategic Planning and Entrepreneurship from The Goizueta School of Business at Emory University
Facebook: Bonnie Bajorek Daneker, Write Advisors LLC