Posts Tagged ‘profiting’

When it comes to the commonly espoused belief that a nonfiction book automatically confers credibility on an author, my feeling has always been maybe, maybe not. After all, surely it depends on whether the book is any good with respect to delivering on its commitment to the reader, and isn’t just a 250-page equivalent of what Steve Jobs called “fart apps.”

When aspiring authors ask for my opinion on what they can do to make their book more credible, my answer is always “research.” Because, as one Harvard Business Review blog post commenter (thanks, Mark Mccarthy, whoever you are!) creatively pointed out in response to an article by a couple of consultants, “…without the research data (this information) could be as useful as a chocolate fireguard.”

Before you go running for the hills at the sound of the “R” word, let me assure you it’s not necessary to go to the lengths of the three co-authors of The Customer Experience Edge: Technology and Techniques for Delivering An Enduring, Profitable, and Positive Experience to Your Customers (McGraw-Hill, 2012).

Having the resources of their employer SAP at their disposal in order to commission an independent study, Reza Soudagar, Vinay Iyer, and Dr. Volker G. Hildebrand might have been expected to come up with a credible book; but not necessarily so. It wasn’t just a question of doing research, but also the kind of deep analysis and organization of material that enables the average reader to immediately “get” the data’s applicability. If that doesn’t happen, all you end up with is another data-heavy, dry textbook yawn-fest.

Let me give you a brief backgrounder to how this book came about, before we look at how to scale-down their approach for the kind of credible book you might write.

The authors had taken notice of IBM’s Global CEO study, which found that getting closer to customers was the number one priority for the executives polled. So they commissioned Bloomberg BusinessWeek to research the topic by surveying their reader base and interviewing companies that had achieved significant transformations through a primary focus on customers. Deciding to weave those findings into a book didn’t strike them until the research was completed, 12 months’ later, co-author Vinay Iyer told me.

What the authors did was to break down that mass of information, extracting four essentials of customer experience: Reliability, Convenience, Responsiveness, and Relevance, which were validated by the real-world responses from 307 director-level and above executives at midsize and large companies. They then mapped these essentials onto three key technology-related areas (they work for SAP, remember) and used specific company examples to show how this framework results in the “customer experience edge.”

What can those of us do, who don’t have the resources to support this kind of large-scale research or want to wait 12 months before getting started on our book?

Why not personally interview a sample of industry or business experts to gather their perspectives about your topic, using that material as a key feature in your book? At the same time you’re gathering advocates to help market the book when it’s published.

Or you could develop a short Wufoo or SurveyMonkey questionnaire, promoting that through your social media channels, to gather relevant data.

Certainly there’s nothing wrong with writing a book based only on your opinion—although preferably if it’s been honed and refined over many years and tested against a wide range of situations. But without the added credibility of research, as the man said, your book could end up as useful to the rest of us as a chocolate fireguard.

Coming Next on Thought Readership: A Legend In Its Own Lunchtime: What A Developmental Editor Could Have Done For This Book!

Liz-AlexanderLiz Alexander is a prime example of how childhood passions are the best indicators of future careers. She’s been writing since she could pick up a pencil, was reading newspapers at age two, and Homer’s epic poems by the age of 8. As “Dr Liz” (granted after five years in the educational psychology doctoral program at UT Austin), she draws on 25 years of commercial publishing experience to transform subject matter experts into best-selling thought leaders. Instead of the usual bio blah, blah, you can find an infographic depicting her communications career here, as well as social media links. Liz loves mutually respectful, intelligent arguments; feel free to challenge anything she writes here, or on her website
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12 Ideas and Tips for Finishing Your Book on Time!

by Roger Parker on December 12, 2011

Here’s a list of proven daily writing ideas, habits, and tips for finishing your book on time & with minimum fuss.

Writing a book doesn’t have to take over your life! Your book doesn’t have to prevent you from participating in the activities that are important to you. Nor, do you have to suffer the stress, embarrassment, and costs of missed deadlines.

The following ideas & tips based on my experiences, the experiences of my clients, and the experiences of the 500+ successfully published authors I’ve interviewed during the past 10 years.

1.    Visualize your success

Remind yourself why you’re writing a book. Visualize yourself signing books at your local Barnes & Noble. Think how pleased you’ll be speaking at your local Chamber of Commerce, watching your friends—and your competitors–taking notes. View your growing online presence and the growth of your e-mail mailing list.

The more you visualize your success, the easier it will be to keep yourself motivated.

2.    Avoid “binge writing”

Commit to consistent progress based on short, frequent, writing sessions. Avoid the temptation for heroic gestures, like staying up all night or sacrificing weekend or vacation time with your family.

You’ll get more done in 30-45 minutes each weekday day than you would by sacrificing your Saturdays or Sundays.

3.    Make “appointments” to write

Schedule your daily writing sessions in advance. Don’t expect to write your book in the time “left over” from your daily tasks and family obligations. Identify your most productive times of the day. Commit specific starting and stopping times for your daily writing sessions. Develop your own writing habits and rituals.

4.    Prepare to write before you start

Review your writing goals as early in the day as possible. Before you leave home, or as soon after arriving at your office as possible, look over what you wrote the previous day, and review the next topics you want to address. Looking back and looking forward engages your mind, so your brain will be processing ideas while you’re driving or performing routine tasks.

5.    Isolate yourself from interruption

Engage the support of your co-workers and family. Share your writing goals and progress with the people around you. Let them know how important your daily writing goals are, and the benefits that all will share.

Close the door to your office and use your telephone answering machine to shield you from all but the most important interruptions. Avoid incoming emails until after your writing session.

6.    Focus on quality, not quantity

Express your ideas as clearly and concisely as possible. Two pages of unique content are better than ten pages that restate the obvious. Prospective book buyers will be more impressed by the relevance and helpfulness of your ideas than the weight of your book.

7.    Realistic expectations

Avoid unrealistic comparisons with published authors. Don’t compare your first drafts with a published book. You’re not in competition with them. In addition, it’s very easy to forget that published books have usually been extensively edited and rewritten. Plus, you don’t know how long they took to write their “classics.”

8.    Set a time limit for each writing session

Avoid burnout. After 45 minutes to an hour, most authors find their productivity tapers off. Leave something for you to write tomorrow!

In addition, use a timer to alert you when the end of your session is approaching. This saves time to tie up loose ends before returning to your other tasks and concerns.

9.    Avoid premature editing

Resist the temptation to self-edit yourself during your writing sessions. Your goal is to get the first draft written as efficiently as possible. There will be time, later, to review your work from a fresh perspective, making any necessary changes. Often, authors unconsciously use perfectionism as a delaying tactic to avoid

10. Avoid unnecessary risks

Always make a back-up copy of your work at the end of each writing session. In addition to backing-up your working file, print-out your latest work on 3-hole paper and add it to the 3-ring binder where you’re storing your manuscript.

11. Share your ideas with your followers

Immediately explore ways to convert latest into marketing opportunities. After backing-up your work, make a list of topics for articles, blog posts, speeches, or tip sheets based on what you’ve just written. Take action by adding these ideas to your marketing editorial calendar creating drafts of future blog posts.

12. Review your progress at the end of each day

Review what you’ve just written and your writing goals for the next day before you go to sleep. Reviewing what you’ve written will reinforce a feeling of progress. More important, reviewing your next day’s writing goals will re-engage your mind. While you’re sleeping, your brain will be searching for connections and organizing ideas. When you start to work, your brain will be primed for action.

Bonus. Don’t be a loaner

Remain open to new ideas and resources. Get help when you need it. Olympic athletes and Fortune 500 CEO’s regularly employ coaches to help them improve their focus and performance. Why should authors be any different?

What are your writing habits?

How do you keep on schedule, so you can finish writing your book on time? If I’ve overlooked an idea or tip that’s an important part of your favorite daily writing habit or ritual, please share it, below, as a comment. And, let me know how these ideas and tips work for you. We can all learn from each other’s experiences.

rcp-heming-picRoger C. Parker helps others write books that build brands. He’s written over 30 books, offers do-it-yourself resources at Published & Profitable, and shares writing tips each weekday. His latest book is Title Tweet! 140 Bite-Sized Ideas for Article, Book, and Event Titles
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Note by Will Reed

A few weeks ago, Roger sent me an email telling me he was adapting my One-Year Planning MandalaChart, described in Flexible Focus #64: The One-Year Plan, into a writing and marketing tool for authors. I immediately asked Roger to share his ideas as an ActiveGarage guest post, and he agreed. His post appears below. I think you’ll agree it’s a great example of “tinkering” with an idea and putting it to work in new ways.

Why author’s need an Author MandalaChart


I’ve been following, and learning from, William Reed for most of the last decade. I tend to listen when he speaks. He’s introduced me to numerous creativity ideas and resources, including mind mapping.

I’ve been reading, and saving, his Flexible Focus series since it began. But, I knew that Will had really outdone himself when I saw his One-Year Plan MandalaChart.

The One-Year Plan MandalaChart resonated with me because it addressed several of the most important challenges authors face when planning, writing, promoting, and profiting from a brand-building book: book, including:

  • There’s more to book publishing success than simply “writing.” It’s not enough to provide a clearly and concisely written advice; the advice has to be relevant, and the book has to be visible to its intended readers.
  • Publishing success involves simultaneously addressing multiple tasks. Publishing is not a linear process. Success requires addressing multiple issues at the same time. For example, how authors intend to profit from their book should influence their choice of publishing options.
  • Success requires goals, priorities, and deadlines. In a time-strapped world, it’s more important than ever that goals and tasks be accompanied with deadlines. Without deadlines, days, weeks, months, and years can go by without progress, resulting in a terrible waste of opportunities..

Modeled on, and inspired by, Will’s One-Year Plan MandalaChart, my Author’s MandalaChart provides a visual way to create goals, prioritize tasks, and measure your progress as you move forward.

Author’s MandalaChart matrix

The starting point was to adapt the 8 topics Will addressed in his original One-Year Plan MandalaChart to the specific needs of authors.

Will’s original matrix was addressed the following spheres, or activities, of an individual’s life:

  1. Personal
  2. Financial
  3. Study
  4. Business
  5. Home
  6. Society
  7. Health
  8. Leisure

When adapting the One-Year Plan to my Author’s MandalaChart, I included the following activity areas that authors must address:


  1. Goals. Goals involves answering questions like, Why are you writing a book? and How do you intend to profit from your book? As publishing has changed during the past few years, it’s become more and more important for authors to view their books as new business ventures. Books have to generate income beyond that which comes from book sales. 
  2. Readers. Reader topics include answering questions like Who are your ideal readers?, Why should they read your book?, What do they need to know?, and How will they benefit from your book? Nonfiction publishing success isn’t about how much you know; success is determined by offering the information that your ideal readers need to know.
  3. Competition. Books are not self-contained islands; new books must offer something better than what’s already available. Success requires identifying existing books and analyzing their pros and cons, so you can answer the question, What’s the “missing book” my ideal readers are waiting for?
  4. Message. From analyzing your goals, readers, and competition, you should be able to position your book and organize your ideas into chapters and subtopics within chapters. Your book proposal and press releases must be able to quickly answer questions like, What’s your book’s big idea? and What will readers take away from your book?  
  5. Format. Information can be communicated in lots of different ways, for example, step-by-step procedurals, case studies, personal experiences, question and answer, etc. You can also publish a big book or a small book. Format questions include, How much of a book do you need to write? and How can you simplify your book so you can get it into your reader’s hands as soon as possible?
  6. Awareness. Books are not magnetic, they don’t attract readers like a magnet attracts steel filings. You have to help your reader find you, answering questions like, How can I get my book reviewed? and How can I share my ideas while writing my book?
  7. Demand. Awareness has to be converted into demand, demand must stimulate purchases. Questions to address include, How can I stimulate pre-orders for my book? How can I sell as many books as possible when it’s available? and Where can I sell my book outside ofnormal bookstore channels?
  8. Profit. Finally, authors must leverage books into back-end information products or coaching, consulting, or paid speaking and presenting events. Questions include, How can I help readers implement my ideas? and What kind of marketing materials are speaker bureaus and event planners looking for?

Setting and attracting goals

The most important part of Will’s original One-Year Plan MandalaChart was the way it encouraged users to address each topic in matrix from four perspectives:

  • Current status. Where are we now? What are the strengths and weaknesses of our current position? What are the forces we have to deal with?
  • By December. What are our goals for the remainder of the calendar year? What do we want to accomplish by the end of the year?
  • Image for the end of a year. How can we visually communicate our accomplishments after 12 months?
  • Steps to reach this. What do we have to do to achieve our December and our One-Year goals?

In my version, I made a few simple changes, as follows:

  • Situation. (the same)
  • 90-days. This addresses the fact that “By December” implied an August starting date.
  • 1-year. Rather than a visual image, I felt a description of accomplishments during the past 12 months would be most helpful.
  • Steps to success. (Simple wording change.)

Author’s MandalaChart benefits

Writing and self-publishing involve a curious blend of creativity and self-discipline. Success requires a flexible perspective that combines long-term vision and consistent action in 8 different activity areas.

Although all projects are a work in progress, I feel the Author’s MandalaChart achieves its primary goal of helping authors avoid the common myopia of focusing entirely on writing and makes it easy to maintain a “big picture” view that encourages action in all 8 areas. The Author’s MandalaChart makes it easy to describe short term and long-goals in each area.

In addition, it creates an engaging visual to display on your wall as well as share with co-authors, agents, editors, and—when appropriate—your blog and social market community.

Conclusion

In addition to building on Will Reed’s already strong framework and adapting it for a specific vertical market, the Author’s MandalaChart shows the importance of constantly being on the lookout for ideas and tools that you can put to use in new ways.

The power of idea-sharing venues like the ActiveGarage is that it creates a community of achievers, constantly looking for ways to do a better job to address the challenges we all face, including the need to get more done in less time.

Editor’s NoteRoger C. Parker 37-part ActiveGarage Author’s Journey series offers practical advice for writing a book. He invites you to visit Published & Profitable and download a free proof of his do-it-yourself guide to developmental editing, 99 Questions to Ask Before You Write or Self-Publlish a Brand-building Book

rcp-heming-picRoger C. Parker helps others write books that build brands. He’s written over 30 books, offers do-it-yourself resources at Published & Profitable, and shares writing tips each weekday. His latest book is Title Tweet! 140 Bite-Sized Ideas for Article, Book, and Event Titles
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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.)

rcp-heming-picRoger C. Parker helps others write books that build brands. He’s written over 30 books, offers do-it-yourself resources at Published & Profitable, and shares writing tips each weekday. His latest book is Title Tweet! 140 Bite-Sized Ideas for Article, Book, and Event Titles
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