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 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Voice Record Your Book Content

This week I share a quick video tip for creating content for your book. Whether you're at the beginning stages of developing your manuscript, you're stuck with writer's block somewhere in the middle, or you're trying to wrap it all up, you'll love this easy way to develop compelling content.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Get Equipped to Query

Have you finally reached a point at which all you want to achieve is one thing in your writing life? That’s to become published, either in a magazine or by a commercial publisher. 

You’ve done enough research to know it begins with one well-written letter, a query. Yet, it doesn’t seem so simple. Each draft is either too long, too weak, too boastful or too wrong to accomplish your goal. The question of how to grab the attention of an agent or editor seems like a harsh joke.  

I've developed a three-paragraph formula that works well for a query letter. Here are my tips for each paragraph. 

Paragraph One:
Give an idea of how your lead will read. Show the flavor or flair of it.  Instead of saying, “I would like to write about how the economy is affecting mid-level female professionals for your publication.” A more enticing opening would be: “A woman rises from a fitful sleep, and the realization is clear – she needs to change careers.”  In short, if the opening paragraph of your article showcases suspense, include that in your letter. If the editor approves your pitch, it's a good idea to switch the lead paragraph of your article or story slightly to show that you can come up with a great pitch AND another wonderful story lead.  

Paragraph Two:
 Mention the type of people you plan to interview in the book or article. For example, will you interview an accountant or a manager and include their personal insight?  Maybe you’ll add a career coach as the expert. If the person is a celebrity or household name, mention his/her name. The most important part of paragraph two is stating what makes you qualified to tell this story. Is it because you are a published writer/author, an expert on the subject or best-case scenario, both? 

Paragraph Three: 
Include your contact information; specifically, the best number and email address to use to contact you.
It sounds easy, but  the main reason that most query letters fail is because people do not include these basic elements. The secret to learning what publishers and editors are looking for from writers is to review the writer's or submission guidelines. If I do not subscribe to a magazine I am pitching, I always review the writer’s guidelines, study the content either online – if that is where I am submitting – or I actually buy the magazine. 

If it is an agent or publisher you are submitting to, they also have guidelines posted. Follow them closely. Some do not like email queries, while others do. The guidelines will mention the typical time in which you can expect a response, as well as whether the publisher or agent will consider multiple submissions, meaning you have sent your query letter, book proposal or manuscript to others simultaneously. Finally, research the authors and books that the publisher or agent represents to ensure your story is a good fit. 

Feeling equipped to query now? What has been your query letter experience? Leave your comments.


Jill Cox-Cordova is the owner of Write Avenue, which specializes in promoting positive outcomes for aspiring journalists and writers. Her niche for individuals is book proposals and resumes. Based in the Atlanta area, Jill serves clients nationwide. She is writing a book to help aspiring and veteran journalists.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Who Are You, What Do You Know and Why Should I Care?

Motivational powerhouse and speaker, Les Brown, once said in a speech that there are three questions audience members ask themselves anytime they see a speaker walk onstage: Who are you? What do you know? Why should I care? That's pretty tough stuff, considering that it's hard enough for most people to speak before an audience. Knowing that your audience is already somewhat skeptical and waiting for you to prove yourself ups the ante quite a bit for the brave soul with a message to share. So what about authors?

Most likely, the audience for your book – other than the loyal friends and family who purchased your book simply because you told them to – is asking the very same questions. If you, the author, cannot intelligently answer those three questions, you're in big trouble. Okay, maybe not trouble, but you certainly face an identity crisis to be addressed, not ignored. In particular, if you've written a self-help, tips, how-to or instructional book, readers want to know that they're getting valid, accurate, timely information from someone who has been there, done that and got the T-shirt. Honestly, the same is true if you're a memoirist. No one wants to buy the book in hopes of learning from someone who, herself, hasn't learned the lessons, lived the dream, made the mistakes or the millions, gone the extra mile, fallen and gotten back up, gone from rags to riches or risked it all and come out better for it on the other side.

Those three questions should haunt you the entire time you're writing your book. This is what inquiring readers want to know, and it's what you'd better be willing to bear (as in your soul) through the pages of your book. Consider your favorite non-fiction book. Did the author expose a little piece of himself to let you know that you were reading the words of "The Real McCoy?" Were the examples, case studies and recollections of the author so true to life that you absolutely knew she had learned everything you always wanted to know, but were afraid to ask? Yes, that's the reaction you want your readers to have from your book. So how do you get there?

Ask and honestly answer these three questions:

Who are you? As a non-fiction author, you have to be transparent. People want to know your story, where you came from, what your background is, where and how you started and what obstacles you've overcome. 

What do you know? Do your readers a favor and tell them of your expertise. You had better know something if you're going to write a book to teach others. You have to value your knowledge, experiences and expertise in order to instruct someone else. If you don't see yourself as the expert that someone is seeking, your message will likely become lost. Even worse – or perhaps better, in this case – you won't even bother to write the book because you know good and well that what you have to share isn't worth a hill of beans. But really, that isn't true. Of course you know stuff. Get clear on what you know before penning your book. Your expertise is valuable to others who want to be where you are, know what you know and do better in their own lives.

Why should I (your readers) care? Your book needs to clearly describe what readers are expected to get out of the content. So what if you climbed Mount Kilamanjaro ... why should I care? What did you learn about yourself, about life, about taking risks, about failing and succeeding against the odds? So what if you've started five successful businesses ... why should I care? What about the 20 businesses that you started and failed? What have you learned along the way from which I can benefit? So what if you're a phenomenal speaker ... why should I care? How can I learn from your awesomeness? How can I command the attention of large audiences and demand a big, fat paycheck for standing up there knowing full well that everyone in the audience is asking ... who are you, what do you know and why should I care?

Do you get my point? To be effective as a non-fiction author you, in essence, have to spill your guts on the pages of your book. You've got to tell it all and teach it in a way that allows readers to feel your pain and celebrate your victories. You must tell your story in a way that makes readers believe they can do it now ... whatever it is you're teaching. They can only learn that from an author who has answered those three crucial questions. 
So ... who are you, what do you know and why should I care?


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".