Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Reality Sells

Advertising is a form of communication for marketing used to drive consumer behavior. For years, advertisers used sexual images in ads to help sell a product, thus the term “sex sells” was born. With the onset of reality television shows that cover topics ranging from betting on your toddler for a college fund, to risking your life for thrills, to women arguing with each
other on camera, the shift has changed to “reality sells.”

Millions of people watch television shows daily. Studies are inconsistent as to why people are fascinated with reality shows; however viewers seem to enjoy the idea of peering into the lives of others. This obsession could provide authors an opportunity to take advantage of this trend.

Beginning writers as well as more seasoned authors have something in common; they have something to sell. Oftentimes, authors brilliantly develop a story through the written word, but fall short when the time comes to market their book. Smart authors capitalize on the creativity used to write their book to develop a message that will attract readers and persuade them to buy through an effective message. A strong marketing message should be consistent across media platforms—online, print, and broadcast. The message for a book should tell the story of why the book was written in a way that people can relate to, so authors can take advantage of the opportunity of “reality sells.”

In the book, How to Market Your Book Free, Anita Rochelle and I provide readers with an easy to follow method to describe their book to deliver a message that will sell. The book includes a section titled “The Point” that is described as follows: A strong thought-provoking message or key point is critical to marketing a book. In this section, your goal is to develop the main point of your book and turn it into a message to encourage people to immediately buy your book.”

Developing a compelling message is easier said than done. However, most authors already have the skills to develop a message; they just need a little coaching to get started. Here is a process to try:

Consider how many authors describe their book to potential buyers: “Hi, my name is ___________ and I wrote a book titled “___________ .” This kind of introduction generally receives a lackluster response, if any response at all. To continue the conversation, the potential buyer might inquire further, but for the most part the author still may not connect with the potential book buyer. However, if the author tells the story behind the story, why s/he wrote the book or the experiences that brought about the formation of the book, the potential buyer is more likely to be intrigued. People like reality, as demonstrated by the extreme popularity of reality television shows. They do not simply want to know the title of the book; they want to know what inspired the author to write it. Therefore, in a concise manner, the author’s message should tell the story (i.e., provide the reality).

In one paragraph, authors can develop a compelling message by including the following:
•    Describe the situation
•    Describe your goals when you decided to write your book
•    Describe the actions you took to address the situation
•    Describe the outcome

A proven message that is detailed in the book has secured several speaking opportunities and radio interviews for me. Now, it is time for you to work on your “reality sells” message.

Nicole Antoinette owns and manages Faith Books & MORE Publishing in Gwinnett County, GA. She believes writers have an obligation to preserve their thoughts, experiences, creativity, and most importantly, their faith in print, as well as through other forms of media. To learn more about publishing your book or republishing this article, contact Nicole Antoinette at or 678.232.6156.

Copyright © 2012 by Nicole Antoinette Smith.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Writing the Next Chapter – Allowable Deductions for Authors

So how do you get started? Your daily calendar and journal are going to take on a new role starting today. A few extra notes on your calendar and journal each day will capture deductible expenses and mileage that may otherwise slip through the cracks. Record your odometer reading in your journal. Record the date and purpose of each business-related trip (bank, post office, book signing, library, office supply, etc). You can use Google maps or other online systems to calculate the mileage to the various locations. 

Your calendar of appointments will be a backup to validate required travel. Mileage logs require that the records be kept “contemporaneously” occurring in the same period of time. A daily journal will meet those requirements. Several of my clients increased their mileage deductions by 50 percent when adopting this method because the memory for small trips becomes blurred as time passes.

You can deduct business expenses on your income tax return. These expenses are the current operating costs of running your business. To be deductible, a business expense:

1.      must be incurred in connection with your trade, business, or profession;
2.      must be ordinary and necessary; and
3.      must not be lavish or extravagant.

For example, you went to your favorite steakhouse for dinner alone, you treated yourself to drinks, the biggest steak you could eat, and after-dinner drinks. The total bill was $250. While this might be “reasonable” for a dinner for two or three people, it is not deductible for one person. From the receipt, the IRS could determine that the dinner had no business purpose, and therefore, the meal failed the directly related test. The receipt would have shown the number in the party, the location as local (not an away business trip), and lastly, the cost would have been considered lavish.

On the other hand, you just had a business dinner and you saved the receipt and credit card charge ticket; what now? In addition to the receipt, you need to be specific about the “Who” (who was there?), the “Why”(what was the business purpose of the meeting?), and the “Where” (where was the event?). Was it in an atmosphere conducive for business discussions? You might ask why you need to keep the receipt because the charge will appear on your monthly credit card statement. The IRS wants itemized receipts so they can ferret out personal items that are not discernible from the credit card statement. 

You may be living in the electronic era with a minimal amount of paper documents; however, the IRS still wants to see “written” documentation and paper receipts. There is a thin line between satisfying the IRS’ requirement and not cluttering your life. Neat receipt scanner, cell phone photos, and other available programs can help you preserve deductible transactions without changing your entire lifestyle. Protecting your records should not be taken lightly. If you have selected electronic record keeping, be sure to backup up your data on a regular basis.

Does the IRS accept excuses for not having adequate records? The general answer is no, although there are a few acceptable excuses; however, it’s better to be safe than sorry. The IRS takes a hard-line view on business entertainment and it is up to you as the author to keep the appropriate records to support the deductions. Although the IRS does not require receipts if the cost of the entertainment is less than $75, they certainly will ask for substantiation. 

What other deductions can authors take against sales revenues, speaking engagements, and royalties?
·        Professional fees and dues including licenses, professional associations, union dues, and credentials.
·        Continued education expenses for courses and material supplies, reference materials, and seminars.
·        Books and textbooks purchased for research. Use caution on including every book you purchase as research. Apply the reasonable test and answer the question: business or pleasure?
·        Computer, briefcase, and software.
·        Printing, business cards, and clerical services. If you pay more than $600 for services to an individual, you are required to provide a 1099 to that vendor.
·        Online services for Internet, data backup, cloud computing services, DVDs, films, and streaming videos for research. Some of these may be limited depending on the nature of your writing.
·        Legal and professional services such as accountant, agent, business advisor, and attorney.

As an author, you are considered a “Cash Basis Taxpayer” unless you have elected to be treated otherwise. As a cash basis taxpayer you deduct expenses in the year in which you pay them; however, there are a few exceptions to the rule. If you purchase a computer and software at the end of the year and charge it on your credit card, as long as you have placed the computer “In Service” (turn the computer on and start using it) by December 31st, you may claim all the costs or a portion of the expense as depreciation. If you need a new computer as well as deductions for the year, this is a valid year-end planning strategy.

This article is not meant to be tax advice and should not replace the advice of your accountant who knows your individual tax situation. This article is intended to raise your awareness and provide tools to save you money and help you to be better prepared to validate your business deductions. Upcoming articles will cover topics on automobile deductions, home offices, and hobby losses.

If you would like a more extensive list of deductible expenses send me an email with subject “Writer’s Deductions.

Photo by Byron Small
Mary Rodriguez is the founder and president of HilRod Group, a professional services firm providing financial leadership and specializing in strategic financial solutions. Mary is a Florida CPA and Fellow with the Georgia Society of CPAs with more than 25 years of accounting and finance experience. She holds the degree of Master of Accountancy and is designated a Chartered Global Management Accountant by the American Institute of CPAs. She is an active member of the Atlanta Venture Forum, the Association for Corporate Growth, and The Women's Finance Exchange. She served a two-year term on the Board of Advisors for the Georgia Small Business Development Council. She was recognized by the SBA as Women in Business Advocate of the Year and has chaired CEO roundtables for several years. 


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Be A More Productive Writer

If you're like a lot of authors, you might have a little trouble from time to time being productive during the process of getting your book written. It's a challenge that almost every author faces at one time or another, but you can overcome it with these three tips.

1. Have a goal
2. Have an outline
3. Have a writing schedule

Beginning with your goal: What is your big, fat, hairy goal? What's your compelling reason for writing this book in the first place? What do you want to get out of it? What do you want your readers to get out of it? What satisfaction will you have once you're done with this book? That reason or goal is what drives you through the difficult points. When you have a reason and a why that's big enough, compelling enough, and personal enough, you will remain driven and focused during the times when life gets busy, when challenges come up, and when you're faced with the dreaded writer's block.

The second thing that can help you be a more productive writer is to have an outline for your book. Oftentimes, authors think they have a great idea and lots of notes and that they already know what their book will be like; however, they get stuck in the process because they don't have an outline. Whether you're writing fiction or nonfiction you need an outline. Your outline can be rough. Of course, you can adjust it throughout the writing process, but you need to have some idea of how your book begins, what happens in the middle, and how your book should end. That is what an outline will do for you. It will help you be a more productive writer because you'll know what comes next and it will keep you from having to make up things as you go along.

The third concept that will help you be a more productive writer is to have a writing schedule. Some people cringe at the thought of a writing schedule because it sounds much too structured. Creating a writing schedule seems almost impossible for people who have busy lives, but who doesn't these days! You have a plethora of other things to do besides write your book. But you have to make your book a priority; schedule it.

I'm offering you a free, downloadable PDF of a simple weekly writing schedule. You can download it here for free. It helps you structure your weeks to determine how much time you have to get your content written.

You want to develop your writing schedule and stick with it. Sticking with it is the key to success. That is when you block out everything else on your to do list except for writing your content. This is not the time when you ask your family, "Do you guys mind if I take a few hours and write my book?" No! This is the time at which you tell your roommate or your family, "This is my writing time. Do not disturb me for the next few hours; I'm writing my book."

These are some strategies that can absolutely help you be a more productive writer.

What other ideas do you have for writing productivity?


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 the-book 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".
Facebook: Write Your Life Coaching Program
Twitter: @AnitaRPaul

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

De-cluttering the E-clutter Toward a Simpler, More Productive Way to Write Your Book!

Coming from someone who recently wrote my first book, I get it when it comes to distractions and excuses for doing ANYTHING other than sitting down and writing your book. For most, the getting started part is the hardest. Once you begin, you’ll be amazed at how steadily the words seem to pour out of your head and onto the keyboard. For me, the reward for getting each chapter complete was a key motivator. Sunning, shopping, walking the dog, exercising, a fresh cup of coffee, a Chai Crème frappuccino … whatever it is, make it worth it!

One of the biggest distractions we all suffer from is the daily onslaught of emails trying to grab our attention. Now it’s time to face your inbox and realize that the goal is to process instead of putting out fires. “How in the world do I do that?” you ask. It’s simple and elegant. For every single email you will now, and forever more:

Make 1 of 5 choices:

1.     Let It Go.  How do you Let Go of an email? Delete it.

2.     Let It Go To Someone Else. How do you Delegate an email? Forward it. A quick and easy way to track those that you delegate is to ‘blind copy’ yourself on these and when they come back to you, drag them either to your tasks on the dates they are due, or create a folder called PENDING RESPONSE and drag them there to track.

3.     Do It Now. How do you Do It Now? Use my “2 minutes or less” rule: As emails come into your inbox, if you can pop them out into someone else’s “court” in two minutes or less, just do it. During this de-clutter process you can choose to either do all of these now or drag them to an AWAITING MY RESPONSE folder to do when you have the time.

4.     Move to a Future Reference Folder. For all emails that you may need to refer to later but don’t need to take action on now, simply click on one email or group of emails and drag them to an appropriate Future Reference Folder in your inbox or save to your hard drive. You may need to create new folders in your inbox or hard drive to store these.

5.     Move to a Further Action Folder. For all of the remaining emails that require you to take further action on, you have some options for how to track these including using your email client calendar program or setting up weekly action folders under your inbox. There are too many options to go into here, but the simplest way to deal with these is to drag them into your new PENDING RESPONSE folder where you’ll be able to sort through them and delete them as you complete the task and no longer need them.

The big key here is processing as you go so you don’t end up with the backlog you started with EVER AGAIN. I can’t say this enough … “Process people, PROCESS!”
Don’t let your email inbox be the distraction it continues to be. Get a handle on what you have going by processing your emails, and then get back to writing your book.
Here’s to getting control of your e-clutter so that nothing (at least not this) stands in the way of your book writing!

Wendy Ellin, Founder of Atlanta-based Momentum, is a Workplace Productivity Life Changer & Author of the new book “Enough Is Enough, Get Control of Your Stuff!
Wendy shares her insights into living a productive and organized life with humor, a twist of irreverence and a level of passion that motivates her audience to TAKE ACTION IMMEDIATELY.  Her approach to training is engaging, interactive, and with a “let’s make a difference in your life” attitude.  She talks about real challenges that we all experience on a daily basis, such as excessive clutter, email overload, being on time (or not), reasonable expectations for getting things done, over-committing, and much more.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

No-Cost Marketing Strategies

Marketing is one of the most neglected aspects of book production. That's a fact. Whether you self-publish your book or go the traditional route, marketing is the do or die aspect of the entire process. If people don't know that your book exists, what it's about, and how they can benefit from its contents, they won't buy it. So your job as a published author is to get the word out about your book. That's marketing: everything you do to let people know that your book exists.

What stops most authors in their tracks is time and money. Yes, it takes time to get out there and talk about your book, to show up at events and share your message, to develop materials (an ad, a website, or a video) that tell of your book's value, and to prepare for media interviews. And yes, marketing your book can also require a substantial investment of dollars if you want to see results. But it doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. In fact, there are dozens, dare I say hundreds, of free ways to market your book. Here are just a few:

Ezine Articles: Expert authors and writers post their articles to be featured in numerous ezines. The searchable database of hundreds of thousands of quality original articles allows email publishers hungry for fresh content to find articles they can use for inclusion in their next newsletter. This benefits you as an author by providing free advertising (your bio helps promote your book and your platform); viral marketing (RSS feeds help you gain website traffic); and sales leads (article readers are now interested in buying your book because you have positioned yourself as a knowledgeable resource).

BlogTalkRadio: This provider of thousands of Internet talk radio shows is an excellent way to reach thousands of potential book buyers. You can either host a show or pitch yourself as a guest on an existing show. Both ways allow you greater visibility. (

Networking: This is simply the concept of interacting with people. You meet people at business, personal, and civic gatherings, collect their contact information, share about your book, and in the process build interested buyers and advocates for your book. So get from behind your desk and away from your laptop and experience the valuable face time of networking.

Trade Associations: Connecting with trade associations can help build visibility for your book and awareness of your brand and your platform. You could present yourself as a speaker for annual conventions, professional development sessions, webinars, and other meetings and events. You could also offer you book as a training manual or industry guide to further establish yourself as an expert.

Help A Reporter Out (HARO): Having firsthand knowledge of the types of stories, guests, and experts that television, radio, and print reporters seek is of tremendous value to you as an author, and HARO provides just that. Sign up for the free emails and promptly respond to inquiries related to your expertise and the content of your book.

Be creative with your book marketing, develop a clear message around your book, and consistently communicate that message in a variety of ways. Remember, marketing your book doesn't have to cost a fortune. You'll find 101 free ways to market your book in my new book, How to Market Your Book Free. ________________________

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 the-book 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".
Anita Paul Facebook
Write Your Life Coaching Program Facebook
Twitter: @AnitaRPaul