Posts Tagged ‘book’

In last week’s installment of my Author’s Journey, I described the importance of creating an incentive to encourage visitors to your blog to sign-up for your e-mail marketing program.

This week, I’m going to describe tip sheets, the simplest, easiest way to create an incentive to build your list and attract new prospects to your marketing funnel.

Tip sheets are powerful and effective because they don’t have to be elaborate, as the two examples, at below left, show; each is printed on one side of a single sheet of paper. They’re judged by the value of their information, not by the number of words or pages they contain.

Why tip sheets make great incentives

Tip sheets distill your expertise into 8 to 12 easy-to-implement actionable ideas. They are judged not by the length, but by the quality of the information you share.

Tip sheets save you money because they are usually distributed as downloadable PDF files, although they are multi-functional; you can easily print-out copies of your tip sheets to carry with you and to distribute at networking functions and speaking engagements.

Not only do the tip sheets save you money, they also save time, for both you and your market. Why? Because they are short and to the point – they are easily written and easily read.

  • Tip sheets save you time. Tip sheets leverage your existing knowledge into chunks of information with high-perceived value. In an hour, or so, you can write and format an effective tip sheet. The above examples contain fewer than 500 words.
  • Tip sheets save your clients and prospects time. The brevity and concisely-presented information that saves you time also saves time for your clients and prospects. They can easily judge your expertise and appreciate the value of the information you provide.

Tip sheets, of course, don’t have to be limited to one side of a single sheet of paper, and they can benefit from professional design assistance. As the example on the right shows, two-sided tip sheets provide extra space for graphics and more information to further enhance your image and communicate your expertise.

The better-looking your tip sheet, the more likely that prospects will save it and refer to it in the future.

Tips for creating and formatting tip sheets

Here are some tips for creating tip sheets.

  • Title. Choose a title for your tip sheet that engages your market by making a promise that’s relevant to your prospects.
  • Introduction. Provide a one-paragraph introduction that “sells” the relevance of the ideas that follow. The shorter, the better.
  • Content. Base your tips on the questions that clients and prospects ask you every day in person and via e-mail. Organize your tip sheet in a question and answer format, or use a short phrase to introduce each tip.
  • Call to action. End with a call to action, which can be as simple as an offer to obtain answer questions submitted by phone or e-mail.
  • Links. Use links to your website to make it easy for recipients to take the next step. Make sure that your links are spelled out (for those who may be reading a printed version of your tip sheet) and make sure the links are activated in your PDF.
  • Graphics. Personalize your tip sheets with a photograph, accompanied by a one-sentence background or positioning statement.
  • Design. Use contrasting typeface, type size, and formatting options like bold or italics to visually set the questions, or phrase introducing each tip, apart from the body copy that follows.
  • Color. Use color with restraint; less is always more. Avoid choosing light colors, i.e., yellow, for text. As always, the colors you use in your tip sheets should reflect the colors associated with your website and your personal brand.
  • Layout. Use a 2-column layout to keep lines short and easy to read. Add extra line spacing to enhance readability.

Leveraging your tip sheets

Here are some tips for leveraging your tip sheets:

  • Print and carry. Print copies of your tip sheet on your desktop printer, or have color copies made at office supply stores like Staples. Always carry copies with you wherever you go. You never know when you’ll meet your next valuable prospect!
  • Promotion. Use the back of your business card to promote your tip sheet. Show a thumbnail of your business card, and the specific page of your website where prospects can sign up to receive it.

Most important, create new tip sheets on a regular basis. Add interest to your tip sheets, and a reason for visitors to return to your site, by creating a new tip sheet on a different topic each quarter.

But, limit access to your previous tip sheets to those who sign up for your latest tip sheet! Place links to previous tip sheets on a special landing page, with a URL that you share in the confirmation e-mail prospects receive when they sign-up for your tip sheet.

Limiting access to previous tip sheets adds strength to your offering, making it more and more important for prospects sign up for your tip sheet and e-mail newsletter.

Note: for one week only, you’re invited to download (no registration required) PDF samples of the tip sheet examples shown above; visit a special page I created for my Active Garage friends.

It never ceases to amaze me that, in the current WordPress and Typepad age, there are still authors who spend great amounts of money on websites they cannot update and maintain themselves!

This is sheer lunacy. There’s no reason for it!

If you want to fully harness the Internet to promote your book and your services, the only way to go is to have a blog-based web presence; you must be able to easily update your web presence on your own, without the costs and delays of hiring outside designers.

This is not to say you can’t hire a professional designer to set up your blog presence, but you must be able to add, edit, and delete content using basic word-processing typing and editing skills.

How blogs have changed

Today’s blogs are light years ahead of their predecessors. At one time, blogs were limited to just the posts. If you wanted a multi-page web presence, with separate pages for different categories of information, you needed a conventional website.

Now, however, blogging software allows you to combine posts with separate pages. This has changed everything, making it very easy for authors and business owners to create separate pages describing:

  • About Us. This permits you to add a background statement and list your experience and qualifications.
  • Store. You can easily create an online store describing the products and services you offer, linked to a shopping cart for ordering.
  • Testimonials. You can easily keep your client and customer testimonials updated, each time you receive a new one.
  • Contact. In addition to providing contact information in the footer of each page, you can create a page with a contact form that will help you screen your incoming e-mail and protect your e-mail address.
  • Archives. You can easily create a page containing constantly-updated links to articles, audios, and videos.
  • Bonus content. In addition to allowing you to add and create new pages, and track their traffic and performance, today’s blogs make it easy to deliver bonus content to your readers and clients. You can password-protect individual pages of your blog, or set up blog-based membership sites with automatic, recurring monthly billing that restricts content to current subscribers.


When I wrote my Streetwise Guide to Relationship Marketing on the Internet, Foreword by Seth Godin, only those who could afford 5 and 6-figure customized content management systems could update their own websites and control access to content.

Now, you can do most of the same things for free!





Best practices for new authors

Here are some ideas for authors looking for ways to market and promote a new book.

  1. Consider creating a separate blog-based website for your new book. Instead of grafting your book onto an existing website, especially a website you can’t update yourself, use your new book as an excuse to start fresh all over again. This permits you to focus your blog on your book, and the products and services that relate to your book.
  2. Reasonable expectations. There is a difference between updating a blog-based website and creating a blog-based website. Recognize the difference between setting up a blog-based website and updating a blog-based website. Updating is fast and easy; setting-up can take a lot of time…time you might be better spending in creating content and selling your services. Even though there are numerous free and low-cost blog templates, or, themes, available, you’ll often save money by having a blog-savvy designer to set up of your blog.
  3. Know what you need. A blog, by itself, is not enough; don’t settle for a partial solution! Blogs require integration with autoresponders and shopping carts. You need autoresponders to capture e-mail addresses, build and maintain your mailing list, and deliver sign-up incentives. Shopping carts are needed to sell products and services. Your blog will also require integration with today’s social marketing media, so content added to your blog will be automatically replicated on FaceBook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. You’ll probably also need training to add graphics and links to streaming audios and videos.
  4. Demand design excellence. Your blog doesn’t have to look like a blog! Blogs can be as simple and well-designed as the finest websites. Today’s blogging software permits your blog to have a layout for the home page than for the inside pages. The banner at the top of your home page, for example, can be significantly smaller on the inside pages of your blog. Make sure that you use design purposefully, to project an appropriate image and to differentiate your blog from the competition. Just because you’re using blogging software doesn’t mean your blog has to project an amateur, home-grown image.
  5. Hire the right designer. Hire a designer who has both a strong design sense as well as extensive experience with blogging software. Be careful when dealing with print-based graphic designers who are migrating to webside and blog design. Be especially careful when hiring designers who don’t have a blog themselves, or who haven’t updated their blog in months. Like all crafts, the more hands-on blogging experience a designer has had, the better. (E-mail me for a free copy of my Designer’s Qualifications Worksheet.
  6. Commit to tracking your traffic. Right from the start, commit to paying attention to the website traffic to the various pages of your website. Make sure that each of your blog posts and each page of your blog contains the information needed by Google Analytics, or an equivalent traffic monitoring system. This will permit you to refine your page titles and headlines for maximum traffic and conversions into sales.

Create a content plan

Most important, don’t start blogging until you have created a content plan that specifies how often you’re going to add new content, and the major themes, or content categories, that you want to blog about in future posts.

For example, visit the content plan I created for my series of Active Garage guest posts and download my original mind map for this series. My original map, created in a couple of hours last October, continues to guide my weekly posts.

Blogging is easy when you’re doing more than simply reacting to current events or blog posts by others. You can always add new posts when needed, but you should know how often you’re going to blog each week, and the general themes of your weekly posts, before your blog goes live.

Conclusion

Avoid the temptation to write a great book, but attempt to market it using a tired, “hostage” website that tries to serve too many different purposes. Instead, use the publication of your book as an excuse to join the blog-based Web 2.0 generation that will provide a fresh start and allow you to update your own site without the costs and delays of hiring others. Once you see how easy it is to keep your blog updated, you’ll never go back to “hostage” websites again.

Testing your book’s title before your book is printed is the only way you can be sure that you’ve chosen the right title and subtitle for your book. Title testing is easier and cheaper than it was ever before.

It just takes a little effort to test your book’s proposed title and subtitle, but it can save you a lot of frustration and lost opportunities down the road.

Testing titles on your website

Here are some of the tools and techniques you can use to test proposed titles and subtitles on your website:

  • ŸLanding pages. Start by creating separate landing pages for each proposed book title. Landing pages don’t show up in a website’s navigation; visitors have to know where to go to get there. (You can keep search engines from indexing your landing pages by adding the HTML NOFOLLOW command to the header of each landing page.)
  • Setting up a test. Populate each landing page with identical content, but add a downloadable incentive, such as a tip sheet or table of contents, on each landing page. This will allow you to not only track the number of visitors to each page, but the number of visitors interested enough to download your incentive.
  • Driving traffic. There are several ways you can test the drawing power of different titles. One way is to drive traffic to your landing pages using blog posts, or Tweets, that contain different titles. Another option would be to create an A-B home page test, or an A-B-C test, so that every second (or third) visitor encounters a slightly different home page, i.e., a home page with a link containing a different titles.

The advantage of this approach is that- -assuming you know how to add and link new pages on your website and work with online resources like Google Analytics—there’s virtually no cost involved.

The disadvantage of this approach is that, depending on your blog and website traffic, you’ll soon get an idea of which title drives the most landing page traffic and downloads. However, it may take a week, or more, to come to a definite conclusion about which title draws the most traffic.

Pay-Per-Click options

You can speed-up your title testing using pay-per-click search engine advertising. In this case, you would create a pay-per-click campaign with 2 or 3 ads, with a different title in each ad.

Pay-per-click ads provide you with immediate feedback. Within a few moments of setting up your campaign, you’ll begin to see patterns developing.

The disadvantage, of course, is that you have to pay for pay-per-click advertisements. However, you are always in control; you can specify how much money you want to spend on your title testing each day. In addition, you can fine tune by targeting specific geographic areas, or excluding certain areas (i.e., foreign countries, etc.)

Using online surveys to test proposed book titles

During the last few years, a variety of online testing sites have appeared. Survey sites allow you to create and post online surveys hosted either on your site or the survey’s website.

Examples include: Free Online Surveys, Poll Daddy, SurveyMonkey, Zoomerang, and hundreds of others.

The best online surveys are not only free, but they offer a variety of survey formats: multiple choice, ranking, fill in the blank, and ratings. Many sites start-off free, but charge minimum monthly subscription charges for more advanced displaying and reporting options.

Best practices for online book title surveys

Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your free online book title surveys:

  • ŸProvide a context. Set the stage for your title options with a short introductory paragraph that explains what your book is about, who you wrote it for, and the benefits it offers. Explain that you are looking for the titles that best describe the book you’re writing.
  • ŸProvide multiple options. Don’t just test titles, test the subtitles, too. And separate titles and subtitles. Just because you’ve paired a specific title with a specific subtitle doesn’t mean they work best in that order. Use separate questions for titles and subtitles, testing title against title and subtitle against title.
  • ŸInvite suggestions. Don’t assume that the title and subtitle options you provide include all the possibilities. Provide a text box for participants to use suggesting new alternatives.

Once you get started with testing book titles and subtitles, you can refine the process as much as you want to. For example, you can invite participants to rank the various possibilities, or ask them to rate the alternatives on scales of 1-5. You can also explore ways to qualify survey participant responses according to the likelihood of them purchasing each title and subtitle alternative.

Surveying the right people

The quality of your survey results depends on how effectively you have targeted the right market. It would be futile, for example, to invite everyone living in city of Dover, NH, for example, to comment on proposed titles and subtitles for #BOOK TITLE Tweet: 140 Bite-Sized Ideas for Compelling Article, Book, and Event Titles.

A better choice would be to survey the faculty of the University of New Hampshire’s Writing Program, or- -even- -students participating in the program. Even better, however, would be to survey Published & Profitable friends and members, or readers of my blog. So, always make sure you target your surveys to the right audience!

To learn more about surveys and market testing

To learn more about market research, I recommend Jay Conrad Levinson and Robert Kaden’s More Guerrilla Marketing Research, which you can learn more about here. Unlike many books on the target, this book was written for business owners interested in a fast track to results. I’ve interviewed Robert, and he has a refreshingly candid approach to the topic.

The book’s subtitle summarizes the book’s purpose: Asking the Right People, the Right Questions, the Right Way, and Effectively Using the Answers to Make More Money.

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When you begin to write your book, you may be pleasantly surprised to find that you’ve already made significant progress….especially, if you’ve been active in your field for a long time.

Because you may have already written a lot of your book, the first writing step you should take is to take a fresh look at your hard drive, looking for content just begging to be included in your book!

Existing content takes many forms

To help you locate contents you already wrote, I’ve added a copy of my Existing Content Inventory Worksheet to my Active Garage Resource Page which you can download without registration.

My Existing Content Inventory Worksheet will help you keep track of content like case studies, examples, ideas, opinions, perspectives, procedures, resources, shortcuts, tips, and warnings.

Where to look for ready-to-use content

Look for existing content you can reuse for your book in files originally created for projects like:

  • Articles & newsletters
  • Blog posts & comments
  • Books, e-books, & previous book proposals
  • E-mail
  • Memos & reports
  • New business proposals
  • Presentations & speeches
  • Press releases
  • Teleseminars, webinars
  • White papers

As you review your previous client, prospect, and writing files, you may be surprised at the content richness waiting for you.

During your exploration, you might want to search your hard drive for key phrases and words that might take you directly to the content you’re looking for.

What to do after locating existing content

Once you consolidate the titles, relevance, and locations of existing content onto copies of the Existing Content Inventory Worksheet, you can address questions like:

  • What type of content is it? Is the content an idea, a process or a technique, a case study, an interesting anecdote, or a tip?
  • Where does the content belong in my book? Which chapter?
  • How much of the content is useful? Where will it appear within the chapter? Will the content be used as part of the text of your book, or is it more appropriate as a sidebar interview or tip?
  • How literally can I reuse the content? Can I simply copy and paste the content, (assuming you have copyright ownership of the content)? Or, do I need to paraphrase the content? Do I need to expand the content? Do I need to verify the accuracy of the content?
  • Do I need permissions for quotations? You may not need to obtain permission, for example, if the quote appeared in a published magazine or newspaper article. You might have to get permission, however, if you quoting an individual’s comments in a recorded teleseminar interview you hosted.

In many cases, of course, you may have originally written the content in long-forgotten articles, blog posts, or newsletters.

Of course, if you already knew, or suspected, that you were going to be write your current book, you’d- -hopefully- -have tracked the content using a mind map like the one I prepared for this blog post series (among other free resources).

Conclusion

Writing a book doesn’t have to mean a time-consuming endeavor requiring you to write every word from scratch! If you’ve been active in your field for a long time, you may have already written a lot of your book! Even better, if you used tools like mind mapping to organize your content and track your writing, you may be pleasantly surprised to find how much of your book has already been written.

Roger C. Parker helps business professionals write brand-building, thought-leadership books. He’s written over 30 books, offers writing tools at Published&Profitable, and posts writing tips each weekday. His next book is Title Tweet! 140 Bite-Sized Ideas for Article, Book, and Event Titles.

No publisher wants to publish a book that covers the same ground existing books cover. Likewise, no intelligent self-publisher wants to waste the family’s resources on a “me too!” book.

Thus, not only does your book have to serve your intended reader’s needs instead of your interests or your ego, your book also has to bring something new to the table.

The starting point is to evaluate the current competition. This is a task that you can easily accomplish online in two steps:

  • Step One is to locate competing books in your field. You want to know what’s already available, so you can avoid rewriting an existing book.
  • Step Two is to organize the results of your online research into a visual format that will help you position your book relative to the competition.

The procedure outlined below will help you keep track of existing books in your field and save you time identifying the ideal position for your book.

Step l: Locating competing titles

Start by creating a 4-column worksheet similar to the Competing Titles Worksheet shown at left. You can easily do this using the table feature built into your word-processing software. You can also create a spreadsheet using Microsoft Excel, or a mind map using Mindjet’s MindManager. (A writing tool we’ll be discussing in an upcoming Author Journey.)

As an easy alternative, to get you quickly get started, you can also work by hand using sheets of lined yellow paper, as described below:

  1. Draw 3 equally-spaced vertical lines on the sheet of paper. This divides the page into 4 columns of equal width.
  2. Add “Author/title” to the top of the first column. When entering author’s names, of course, be sure to begin with the author’s last name, followed by their first name. This will pay big dividends later.
  3. Title the second column “Big Idea.” Or, you can call it “premise” or “type of book.” The goal is to briefly describe the author’s approach to the topic.
  4. The title of the third column should be “Pros & Cons.” This is where you briefly comment on the book’s strengths and weaknesses.
  5. Add “Keywords” to the top of the fourth column. This purpose of this column is to pay attention to the Search Engine Optimization keywords associated with the title. The best book titles are those that contain the keywords readers are searching for online. The sooner you identify the keywords used with successful existing titles, the easier it will be for you to incorporate the right keywords in your book marketing and promotion.

Note that the above worksheet is not intended to include every detail about the books you locate online. Instead, it’s main purpose is to provide a handy way of seeing–at a glance–what’s already been written in your field as a prelude to positioning your book.

Step 2: Visually positioning your book

In order to position my forthcoming book apart from existing books on the topic, I created a simple Book Positioning Worksheet that you can use to position your book apart from existing books. This book will help you identify the most popular categories of existing books, so you can stake out a new territory for your book.

In my case, my goal was to help business professionals write a book that would position them as thought leaders and obvious experts in their field.

Surveying the available books in the writing field, I quickly noticed how most books fell into one of eight categories. For example, there were numerous books in the following categories:

  1. Introductory books about writing and publishing
  2. Locating an agent or preparing book proposals and query letters
  3. How to self-publish a book and make oodles of money
  4. Inside story, or “publishers are mean” books
  5. Creativity and inspiration books
  6. Editing and self-editing books
  7. Marketing and promotion techniques for authors
  8. How to make money writing books

With the competition displayed in the outer 8 boxes of the Book Position Planner, I could see that the missing book–the book that no one had yet written–was a book about book titles!

And, I was off and running! The breakthrough was being able to view existing titles as groups of titles, rather than individual titles.

In the next Author Journey, I’ll address the steps I took to choosing the right publishing alternative and the right publisher.

Offer

If you like the idea of a Book Positioning Planner appeals to you, drop me an e-mail at Roger@Publishedandprofitable.com. I’ll send the first 10 who respond a PDF copy of the Book Positioning Planner shown above. (Please include Book Positioning Planner in the subject line. Thank you.)

Author’s Journey #3 – What should you write about?

by Roger Parker on January 7, 2010

Roger-Step1-Plan“Write what you know!” is a frequently heard statement.

So is, “Write about your passion!”

Yet, is that all there is to writing a successful brand-building book?

In this Author Journey segment, I’d like to share a simple, 3-step process for taking your choice of book topic to the next level. Because, no matter how much you love the topic you’re writing about, it’s your market that ultimately determines your book’s success…as well as the client relationships and profits that your book generates for your business or your employer.

So, I encourage you to look beyond your interest in your topic, and examine your ideal reader’s desired change.

Change and nonfiction book success

The starting point to planning a successful book, one that builds your brand and drives traffic to your business, is to identify the change that your market desires.

Going back to the basics, readers purchase fiction and historical nonfiction books, like David McCullough’s The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of Building the Brooklyn Bridge, for entertainment. These books are discretionary purchases; they are wanted because the subject matter or the author’s style will provide pleasure while reading.

Readers buy nonfiction books, like self-help, career success, marketing, or business leadership, however, to solve problems and achieve goals. To the extent that the problem, or unachieved goal, causes pain, costs money, or wastes time, books that address these books become necessities–and can be outstandingly successful.

If you can’t figure out how to get on Facebook.com, for example, or no one is following you on Twitter.com–or your department is experiencing unusually high employee turnover–books that address these issues are relatively recession-proof. These books become necessities rather than luxuries. The higher the pain, or lost opportunity costs, the more urgently readers will want your book.
Reader-Change-Planner

How to profit from your ideal reader’s desire for change

In order to enjoy the greatest rewards from writing and publishing a book, you have to go through a  simple process, as shown in the Reader Change Planner example shown at left.

The Reader Change Planner guides you through a simple 4-step process. These steps include:

  1. Select your most desired readers, the market segment you most want to attract to your business. (I discussed how to do this was described in Author Journey #2).
  2. Review the characteristics of your most desired readers. This will ensure that your marketing message will align with their attitudes and communication style.
  3. Identify your desired reader’s problems and unachieved goals. Ask the popular, but appropriate, saying goes, What’s keeping them awake at night? The more you can identify your desired market’s hot-buttons, the easier it will be to write the book they want to buy and read.
  4. Create a process, or step-by-step plan. Identify the steps that readers can follow solving their problems or achieving their goals. Provide them with a book that serves the same function as an instruction sheet or Mapquest driving instructions.

Coming up with a logical process, or sequence of actions, is the key step in choosing the right contents for a nonfiction book. It’s the step that will convert your vague yearning to write a book into a reader-pleasing content plan that will guide you as you write your book. It’s also the step that makes your book magnetically desirable to readers.

The importance of a process

Process is the key word. Process sends all the right messages. Process builds your prospective reader’s confidence in your book. Process implies knowledge and organization. Process eliminates uncertainty; it projects certainty.

Finally, process simplifies the apparent effort involved in obtaining change. Process breaks big projects into an organized series of smaller, more doable, tasks.

If I tell you, for example, that writing a book involves 47 (hypothetical) tasks, you’re going to think, That’s a lot of work!

But, on the other hand, if I tell you that writing a book involves 4 steps, Planning, Writing, Promoting, & Profiting, the process immediately appears a bit more feasible.

Taking action with sections & chapters

What works for you in the above 4-steps to Writing Success example will work for your intended readers, too.

Begin thinking in terms of the major steps that have to be accomplished in order for your readers to solve their problems or accomplish their goals. Your 3, 4, 5, or 7 steps will become the sections of your book.

Each of these sections will contain 2 or 3, or however many are needed, chapters. Each chapter will correspond to the major tasks needed to solve your reader’s problems or accomplish their goals.

By following the 4-step program described above, you’ll not only end-up writing a more useful and desirable book, but you’ll also find it easier to figure out what you should write about!

In the next Author Journey installment, we’ll address the importance of analyzing existing books in your field and using them as a guide to positioning your book relative to its competition.

Offer

If the idea of a Reader Change Worksheet appeals to you, drop me an e-mail at Roger@Publishedandprofitable.com. I’ll send the first 10 who respond a PDF copy of the Reader Identification Worksheet shown above. (Please mention Reader Change Planner in the subject line. Thank you.)

Roger-Step1-PlanOne of the most important decisions you should ask yourself during the planning process is, “Who is my intended reader?”

Your answer to the question will have a lot of bearing on the overall profitability of your book publishing project as well as help you make faster progress. Your response will influence your book’s title and subtitle, your book’s contents, as well as how you market your book.

More important, by carefully answering the above question, you can not only serve your most target market better, but you might also be able to write a shorter book and get it to press faster!

All readers are not created equal

Roger-Parker-Post-2-Reader-IDentif-Plnr-TWO.jpgThe market segments you want to sell to in the future should determine the readers your book targets. As every business owner and marketing professional knows, some segments are more profitable, more loyal, and easier to deal with than others.

By identifying your most desired clients as early during the planning process as possible, you tailor your book to your A-list prospect’s needs, rather than “spinning your wheels” with more B-list and C-list prospects.

Thus, start to plan your book by analyzing your firm’s past and current clients. I recommend creating a worksheet similar to the Published & Profitable Reader Identification Worksheet shown at left. Worksheets make it easy for you to answer questions like:

  1. What characteristics do my most profitable, A-list, clients have in common?
  2. What are their problems and goals?
  3. Why is this reader segment important to me?
  4. What problems and services do I hope to sell them in the future?
  5. What keywords do they use when searching for information online?
  6. Who are the experts this market segment trusts?

What your answers will reveal

Your responses to the above questions will help you get started planning a profitable book, one that will open doors of opportunity by attracting qualified prospects and search engine traffic.

Let’s analyze each question and the information your answer will provide:

  1. What characteristics do my most profitable, A-list, clients have in common? Your response will help you better understand the readers market segment most likely to turn into profitable long-term clients.
  2. What are their problems and goals? By focusing on your most profitable market segment, you can tailor your book’s contents and marketing message to their particular needs. You can “go deep” and better address this market segment’s needs, without diluting your message by attempting to appeal to the needs of every market segment.
  3. Why is this reader segment important to me? Your answer will reinforce the reasons for focusing your book to appeal to a few, key, marketing segments. You can state your answer in terms of average cost per sale, frequency of purchase (i.e., cash-flow), the number of referrals they generate, the promptness of their payments, their long-term loyalty, or ease of dealing with them.
  4. What problems and services do I hope to sell them in the future? Knowing what you want to sell them in the future helps you identify the content needed for your book. You’ll be able to subtly plant the seeds of future purchases in your book, highlighting areas of your expertise and describing the benefits of taking action with the help of your tools or your qualified assistance.
  5. What keywords do they use when searching for information online? Knowing the terms that attract appropriate search engine traffic will help you choose the right title and subtitle for your book as well as the right section titles and chapter titles. Book titles that contain relevant keywords enjoy a great advantage over their more creative, but less SEO-friendly, competition.
  6. Who are the experts this market segment trusts? Your answer will help you identify your competition, existing books in your area as well as the blogs and websites that are competing for your ideal client’s attention. Addressing this question now saves you time in the future when you are preparing the “competing books” section of your book proposal.

As you can see above, there are numerous benefits to beginning your author journey by identifying your most desired readers. In addition to doing a better job of serving their needs, by focusing on your ideal prospects, you might be able to write a shorter book. A book that serves “everybody” has to be encyclopedic, but books that target specific markets can focus on just the desired market’s information needs. Thus, a shorter book that can be brought to market faster.

Take action now

Your Reader Identification Worksheet doesn’t have to be fancy. You can create one by simply taking a sheet of paper and dividing it into three equal columns.

  • Ÿ  Left-hand column. Label the left-hand column “A-list” or “Most Desired Prospects.”
  • Ÿ  Center column. Label this “B- and C-list” or “OK prospects.”
  • Ÿ  Right-hand column. Label the remaining column “Least desirable” or “More Trouble Than They’re Worth” prospects.

Then, thinking about your client and customer experiences over the past few years, look for commonalities shared by your best clients and ways they differ from your “just OK” and toxic clients.

The business of books

If all this sounds familiar to your previous experiences preparing business and marketing plans…that’s because books are businesses!

Just as a strong business plan begins with identifying the intended market and their needs, nonfiction books should begin the same way. Books have to be sold–that’s the bottom line. It’s a waste of time to write the perfect book, only to find out after it’s been published that nobody wants it.

So, as you begin your author’s journey, identify your ideal prospects and plan to write the book they want to buy!

Offer

I’ll send the first 10 readers who e-mail me at Roger@Publishedandprofitable.com a copy of the Reader Identification Worksheet shown above. Please mention Reader Identification Worksheet in the subject line

Roger-Step1-PlanI’d like to invite you along on an author’s journey towards writing a nonfiction book. During the next 26 weeks, I’m going to share my progress towards my 39th book. I want to share with you some of the strategies and tips I’ve learned about book publishing and personal branding. I also want to share some of the changes that have taken place in publishing, as well as share the steps in the decision-making process that can save you time and help you avoid expensive mistakes.

Why do business professionals like you write books?

Certainly, it’s not the “big bucks” advances from conventional trade publishers. Celebrity 6 and 7-figure advances notwithstanding, direct income from book sales is likely not to become a significant income source for you and your family.

And, unless you self-publish, which requires you to spend money before you can earn money–you’re unlikely to profit from endless streams of recurring income from book royalties each month.

So, why do business professionals write books, if it’s not the money?

There are two ways to answer this question: the anecdotal approach and the statistical, research study approach:

  1. Post-1-MLevy-42Rules-TWO-5Anecdotal approach. The easiest and most readable way to learn why busy professionals write books is to pick up a copy of Mitchell Levy’s 42 Rules for Driving Success with Books. The 5 sections of this book provide concise, entertaining, and revealing real-world portraits of authors who have escaped the economic hell of anonymity by writing a book that positioned them as experts in their field. If you’re looking for believable role models of publishing success, this is the place to start at a very reasonable price.
  2. Post-1-RainToday_Rprt-TWO-5Research-study approach. RainToday, the research and publishing arm of the Wellesley Hills Group, has published a detailed, 2-volume, 300-page Business Book Publishing Series Report. Based on detailed interviews and surveys with published authors, these reports make a dollars and cents argument for writing and publishing a book to build your brand and attract qualified prospects.

The most telling statistic: 96% of authors reported that publishing a business book affected their practice either “Positively” or “Extremely Positively!”

So, why am I, again, beginning an author’s journey?

My last book, Design to Sell, came out in 2006, and my previous book, The Streetwise Guide to Relationship Marketing on the Internet, came out in 2000. My previous books sold over 1.6 million copies throughout the world. (My shelves are loaded with copies of my books I’ll never be able to read, i.e., Chinese, Polish, Russian, and Hebrew editions.)

My best-selling books came earlier, when it was easier to earn significant incomes from publisher’s advances and royalties on book sales. My first NY Times best-seller was Looking Good in Print: A Guide to Basic Design for Desktop Publishing, and the late 1990’s were subsidized by significant royalties from Microsoft Office for Windows 97 For Dummies, and others in the series.

Now, it’s time to write again, and there are several factors driving my decision. The relative importance of the following varies from day to day, but all of the following play a role:

  • Writing is fun. Isn’t that a crazy thing to say? Yet, it’s true. At the end of the day, there’s satisfaction to be found in whatever you’ve been able to accomplish. There’s a lot to be said for starting with nothing, and ending up with a page or two of convincing arguments that didn’t exist at the start of your writing session.
  • Repositioning my expertise. For many years, I was known as the “design guru of our generation who has taught desktop publishing excellence to hundreds of thousands,” as Ralph Wilson said. I continue to love graphic design, but at the present time, I’m more interested in teaching writing skills at Published&Profitable and writing about writing in my daily writing tips blog. The time is right for me to write a book about publishing that will attract more qualified traffic to my website and more invitations to speak.
  • Passion. I’m not only very passionate about the topic, I want to learn more about it and be able to teach it more effectively. Writing is the best way to enhance your understanding and ability to communicate it to others.
  • It’s a different world. There are some wonderful changes taking place in publishing these days. New tools are available that open up new frontier of opportunity for authors who are willing to adapt to the times. Never before have the barriers to entry been as open to entrepreneurial authors as they are now. I’m tired of writing about these changes, I want to take advantage of them myself!

I’m tired of writing about these changes, I want to take advantage of them myself!

I’m looking forward to putting today’s new writing and marketing tools to work writing and promoting a different type of book, one that only now makes sense for business professionals.

My new book also provides an opportunity for me to synthesize marketing and writing in ways that were impossible for most business professionals in 2000, and were only known to a few non-computing professionals in 2006.

I hope you’ll come along for the remaining 25 installments of this author’s journey; and, if you’re so inclined, I hope you’ll become convinced that it’s time for you, too, to begin an author’s journey.

In the second installment of this series, I’m going to address the first question you should ask yourself when writing a book: Who Do You Want to Read Your Book? The answer may surprise you.

Note: Drop me a line at Roger@publishedandprofitable.com and I’ll send you a PDF of the mind map I’ve created for my author’s journey plus a mind map of the contents of my next book!