Posts Tagged ‘promote’

Resist the temptation to start your Author’s Journey to a brand-building book by immediately starting to write. The Author’s Journey refers to my series of 34 ActiveGarage posts describing the steps involved in writing a nonfiction book to build a personal brand.

Instead of immediately starting to write, take the time to ask the right questions. It’s important for you to get your bearings by developing a “big picture” view of your writing project.

An important part of the “big picture” is focusing on the desired end result. By identifying the goals of your journey, you’ll be better able to make the right decisions at every stage, so you can write and market toward them as efficiently as possible, helping you focus your writing and avoid digressions, false starts, and wasted time.

There’s magic in asking questions

Perhaps Brian Tracy, said it best in his international bestselling book, Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life: How to Unlock Your Full Potential for Success and Achievement:

The very act of questioning opens your mind and expands your options. It increases your creativity and stimulates your imagination. Questioning enables you to think more effectively and reach better decisions.

Brian Tracy re-emphasized the importance of authors asking questions before writing during a recent Published & Profitable interview, (Number 100 in my recent series). He discussed how asking questions helps authors focus on their readers, their needs, and their hot buttons while sharing the process he has used to write 50 books that have been translated and are sold in over 37 countries.

Alexander Ward, American author and pastor, stated it differently:

Before you speak, listen.

Before you write, think.

What kinds of questions & answers?

There are 4 categories of questions you should ask before starting to write your brand-building book. These correlate to Published & Profitable’s 4 steps to Writing Success: Plan, Write, Promote, and Profit.

Your answers to these questions don’t have to be elaborate or formal. You don’t even have to work on your computer; it’s entirely to jot down your answers by hand.

The ideas behind your answers are what matters! So just quickly write down words, ideas, and phrases that you can go back later and expand. There’s no need to write in full sentences, and you don’t have to be concerned with grammar. The answers are for your eyes only- – it’s OK to change your mind when you go back later and review your answers.

Planning questions

There are three types of planning questions:

  • Your goals and objectives. Start by identifying your long-term goals and objectives beyond the rewards of selling your book. Concentrate on how you are going to leverage your book into lasting and profitable relationships with your readers. Avoid writing and publishing decisions that might limit your ability to achieve your goals.
  • Reader goals. Who are your intended readers, and what do they hope to gain from reading your book? The more you know, the easier it will be to target the right readers, choose the right title, and provide the right right content.
  • Competing books. Finally, you have to analyze competing books, so you can position your book as a better alternative to anything that’s currently available.

Just as you wouldn’t start a business without a business plan, you shouldn’t start to write a brand-building book without knowing your goals, your market, and your competition.

Writing questions

Next, you have to answer a series of questions about your ability to write as consistently and efficiently as possible, so your book is completed on time. This involves answering questions like:

When you’ve answered these questions, you’re ready to start writing!

Promoting questions

Books- -even the most helpful and best-written books- -don’t sell themselves. Authors have to begin promoting the book while writing the book.

Ideally, book promotion never really ends, because your book’s brand becomes your brand!

Creating a book promotion plan involves evaluating current online visibility (or author platform), looking at ways to build your expert network, exploring free promotional tools, and creating an integrated book marketing plan.

Profit questions

Leveraging your book to meaningful and lasting profits involves answering questions about looking at how other authors profit from their books, evaluating ways to create and manage information products, and looking at ways to attract lucrative speaking opportunities.

Questions, answers, and action

The above are just some of the ways that questions lead to answers, and answers lead to informed action. Take the time to ask- -and answer- – the right questions and save time writing the book your market is waiting to read!

If you’d like to get on the inside track to learning more about asking the right questions before writing a book to build your brand, drop me an e-mail or sign-up to receive my weekday blog posts in your in-box.

Use the Four P’s To Get Your Ideas MOVING:  Be Pleasant, Be Professional, Be (Somewhat) Patient and Promote Like Crazy

Picture this scene:  You are the new person at your office.  You’ve been there a month and a great idea just occurred to you.  This idea will help your group save money and deliver a better product or service.  You describe the idea to your colleagues and they like it.  So you mention it to your boss and she likes it too.  You are now very excited!

Adopting the idea won’t cost your group much money and the savings are remarkable, so you would like to get the idea adopted . . . yesterday. . .  immediately.  But nobody else seems to share your sense of urgency.  So what should you do?   Pick one.

  1. Push like Hell.  You probably have enough people believing in the idea already.  Make this your signature cause and get noticed.  Stand out as a change agent and do it now.  If you back down now, people will see you as a quitter.  This would be a bad reputation to get when you just arrived.  Make as much noise as needed to get that idea adopted and senior management will have to notice you!
  2. You are just too new to push ANY idea.  Convince your boss, who knows the group and how to make things happen, to push the idea, hopefully bringing you along.  Organizations fear change anyway, especially if the change is pushed by somebody new like you.  If your boss won’t champion the idea, drop it like a hot potato.
  3. Change jobs. If your group will not act on a great idea that is this OBVIOUS, you will never get them to change.  And if you cannot contribute, why are you working there?  You haven’t been there long enough for the job change to even show up on your resume.  Move on.  These people are dinosaurs and you will never fit in.
  4. Push the idea gently but don’t lose focus on your job and your career.  If you can’t get this idea adopted with gentle, steady persuasion, there must be some other reason(s) for the resistance.  Walk away.  Rethink it.  Repackage it.  Growing in your current job is more important than satisfying your ego.

Before we give you OUR answer, we’ll give you the secret to making things happen at work:  the four P’s – – – Be Pleasant, be Professional, be Patient and Promote.  Do these things and you will get your ideas accepted, guaranteed.  [Unless they are bizarre, aluminum-foil-on-your-head ideas, in which case you need the fifth P – – – Prozac.).

The four P’s are easy to do.

  1. Be Pleasant:  This doesn’t mean you have to suck up to anyone or abandon your deepest principles.  To be pleasant just think “face and back” – – –  Smile whenever you meet or greet people face to face.  Make it look like you are genuinely glad to see them.  Even better, BE genuinely glad to see them. Every time.  With everyone.   And never, ever say anything behind a person’s back that you haven’t already said to their face.  Ever.  And lastly, let others have their say.  This applies to your idea or to any idea or concept or world event or . . . well . .  . anything.  Let other people talk and don’t feel that you have to correct their opposite-from-yours view on the subject.  Practice letting it go. Go reread “Desiderata” and practice it!   Whenever tempted to go nose-to-nose with a real dufus, remember the phrase “Never wrestle with a pig.  You both get dirty but the pig likes it.”
  2. Be Professional:  You were hired to do a job.  Learn to do that job better than anyone on the planet.  And stay focused on that huge task.  Every day.  Be passionate about learning everything there is to know about your job.  (See our previous post about passion titled “Get a Fire going In Your Belly”).  Talk with other inquisitive, curious people about the work you do, why things are done the way they are, what problems existed previously and how they were solved, etc.  Always take the wide view of a situation and ask “what am I missing here?” when tempted to snap at someone.  The PAUSE is a powerful thing and it is sooooo easy to use!  More on that in a future post.

Next week we’ll show you that a little patience is desirable but that too much can be a very bad thing.  We’ll also show how you can promote your idea without becoming that boring/aggravating person everyone avoids at the lunch table

Copyright: Solid Thinking Corp.

The publication of your first book marks a milestone in your life and in your career. You’ll probably never forget the excitement you felt when the first box of books arrived and you reached in and could hold your book in your hand.

Hold that thought! Because your feeling of joy and satisfaction will soon be followed by the question, What am I going to do next?

Where’s the second act?

At some point, your agent, clients, friends, and publisher are going to ask you, What are you going to write next? It’s not an easy question to answer, here are some of the things you should be thinking about:

  1. Write or market? Should you devote more time to marketing your current book, or should you move on to new projects?
  2. Topic. Are you going to write about the same topic, or a different topic?
  3. Format. Will you write another book, or will your follow-up project be an audio, video project?
  4. Distribution. Are you going to self-publish your next project, continue with your current publisher, or seek another publisher?

Some of the answers to these, and other, questions may be beyond your control. Depending on your agent’s, or your, savvy, your current publishing contract may limit your options. Unless the dreaded “Right of first refusal” clause was deleted from your contract, for example, you may be limited in your publishing options.

Likewise, if you don’t have clear copyright ownership of your book title, or, at least, the key words in it, you may not be able to take the title elsewhere or use it for creating your own back-end events, products, and services.

Your book’s sales also make a difference. The sales of your book will influence your desirability and bargaining power with your current publisher and your reception at other publishers.

Is your title expandable?

Most important, Were you looking to the future when you chose the title for your first book? Did you choose an accurate, distinct, and memorable title that you can expand into a series of books? Was the core idea of your first book so specific that it won’t survive the test of time? Or, did you choose a title that describes a condition that will be around a long time?

The ideal book titles balance brand and specificity.

  • Narrow book titles, like How to Get Rid of the Water In Your Basement, doesn’t provide many opportunities to build your brand. These titles are so literal that there is nothing to remember.
  • Branded titles, however, emphasize an attitude, approach, or perspective, such as the 5-Thumbed Homeowner’s Guide to Getting Rid of Water in Your Basement. Now, using a title formula, you can do what Jay Conrad Levinson’s Guerrilla Marketing series, the …for Dummies series, or Robert Kyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad series, did and create a series of best-sellers that can be added to over the next 20 years!

When you’ve chosen a branded title, you can create a series of 5-Thumbed Homeowner Guides to building outdoor patios, renovating bathrooms, or converting a spare bedroom into a home office!

Should you re-invent the wheel?

Thus, when selecting topics for follow-up books, avoid the temptation to reinvent the wheel. Instead, look for ways you can build on the brand you began with your first book or e-book.

The following are some topic ideas you can use when choosing a topic for your follow-up book:

  1. Go deeper and narrower. In your follow-up book, you can explore a particular aspect of the process described in your original book, going into greater detail than you did in your original book. Often, a topic that you covered in a single chapter of your original book- -or, even- -just part of a chapter, can form the basis for your next book.
  2. Different formats, different prices. In contrast to going deeper, you might explore ways to write a less expensive version of your original book, perhaps one designed to appeal to newcomers to your field. If your first book was an expensive Handbook, for example, your follow-up book can be a Weekend Guide. By offering a lite version of your original book, you can appeal to a particularly price sensitive market.
  3. Narrower market focus. Another alternative is to narrow your focus, and focus your next book on a particular market segment. If your first book introduced 10 ideas or tools, for example, for online marketing, your follow-up books could apply the ideas or tools to particular business categories or occupations. A series of books on home maintenance, for example, could be created targeting different geographic areas, i.e., cold climates, warm climates, humid coastal locations, etc. Jay’s Guerrilla Marketing series, for example, has been adapted for financial planners, non-profits, performers, and writers. There are also versions targeting techniques, like online marketing.
  4. More helpful. Even if your original book contained exercises and questions intended to help readers apply your ideas to their specific situations, there’s usually room for improvement. In this case, consider offering a workbook containing worksheets and planning sheets readers can use in conjunction with your original book.
  5. Case studies and profiles. One of the best ways to return to the theme of your original book is to describe the experiences of readers who read your book and followed your advice. Undoubtedly, new ideas and perspectives will emerge as you interview your original readers, which will add interest to the follow-up book.
  6. Updates. New challenges, opportunities, technologies, and trends are constantly appearing, and new case studies are likely to emerge. In some situations, there are opportunities for yearly updates. In other cases, however, you can wait for new tools to establish themselves before writing a book describing their impact on your field.

The importance of planning ahead

Planning has been a constant at every step in this Author’s Journey (see previous installments in the Author’s Journey series). Whether you’re picking a topic, analyzing the competition, creating a table of contents, or setting up a blog, you start with a plan. Serendipity will always present itself, but it’s essential that you look to the future when planning, writing, marketing, and profiting from a book.

During the past few years, it has been increasingly obvious that the whole point of writing a book is not to sell books, but to build long-term and profitable reader relationships.

Yes, there are authors who support themselves with six figure advances and huge royalties, but there are also those who buy one lottery ticket and win millions of dollars.

In either case, you can’t count on favorable outcomes. The odds are too much against you.

A much better strategy, with a much higher probability of success, is to consider your book the core of your long-term self (or business) marketing plan. In this scenario, your book becomes the hub of a relationship-building strategy that begins long before your book appears and continues for years afterward.

Building “hooks” in your book

Long-term success requires inserting “hooks” into your book intended to drive readers to your website. This important marketing and profit task deserves your attention as soon as possible. There are two reasons why:

  1. While you’re planning your book, you need to select the type of relationship-building bonus content you’re going to offer readers and how you’re going to promote the bonus in your book.
  2. While writing your book, you need to be setting up, or delegating and supervising, the set-up of the online support structure needed to distribute your book’s bonus contents, i.e., autoresponders, landing pages, etc.

The above are too important, and too complex, to be left to the last minute.

Using your book to drive website traffic

Let’s start with the basic premise; readers who buy your book are your best source of coaching, consulting, and speaking profits.

If someone invests $20, or more, in a copy of your book, they’re raising their hand and indicating that they’re interested in what you have to say. Their purchase is proof they have problems they want to solve, or goals they want to achieve.

More important, by spending their hard-earned money on your book, they’re indicating that they think you’re the one to help them; you’re the obvious expert they trust, and they want to know more!

Your job at this point is to provide opportunities to learn more about you and the services you provide, information that shouldn’t appear too prominently in your book! No one wants to pay $20 to be advertised to- -save the infomercials for late-night television!

Registration and bonus content

Your big challenge, as you plan and write your book, is to come up with a way to subtly drive readers to your website.

Once readers of your book are at your website, you can introduce them to your marketing funnel; you can offer them access to bonus content in exchange for signing-up for your e-mail newsletter. In addition, once they’re at your website, you can describe additional ways you can help them solve their problems and achieve their goals.

As described in my Streetwise Guide to Relationship Marketing on the Internet, there are several categories of bonus content you can share with readers of your book:

  1. Assessments. Assessments are worksheets or interactive forms that help readers self-assess their understanding of your book, or evaluate the areas of their business where change is needed, such as my Making the most of Microsoft Word assessment.
  2. Checklists. Checklists, are similar to assessments in that they can either be downloadable and printed or filled-out online. Checklists help readers monitor their progress as they complete tasks described in your book.
  3. Deeper content. Ideas that are only introduced can be converted into detailed case studies and, often, step-by-step procedurals that will help your readers put your ideas to work.
  4. Excess content. Often, working with your editor, you’ll discover that there is no room for some of your best ideas. Instead of discarding them, use them as downloadable bonus content to thank your readers for buying your book.
  5. Pass-along content. One of the best ways to promote your book to new prospective book buyers (and clients) is to provide readers with information that they can pass along to their friends and co-workers.
  6. Specialized content. As an alternative to going deeper, i.e., great detail, you can adapt the ideas in your book for different vertical markets, such as different occupations or industries. You can also adapt your book’s content into beginner’s guides or offer advice for more advanced readers.
  7. Updated content. New ideas and examples are certain to appear the day after approval of the final proof of your book. Although you can, and should, use your blog to share new content, often you can use it as reader rewards.
  8. Worksheets. The best worksheets are those that help readers overcome inertia and avoid procrastination by immediately starting to implement the lessons described in your book. My sample Book Proposal Planner is an example of an online worksheet.

You can distribute the above bonus content ideas in a variety of formats; Adobe Acrobat PDF’s, password-protected pages, streaming audio or video, or- -if appropriate- -as mailed reports or CDs and DVDs.

How do you limit bonus content to legitimate readers?

Many authors only share their book’s bonus content with readers who register their name and e-mail addresses. Others limit distribution to readers who enter a password that appears in a specific location of their book, i.e., The second word at the top of Page 138.

These limiting strategies can be self-defeating and project an inappropriate image. The goal of writing a book is to build lasting and profitable relationships with readers, not test their persistence.

One of the techniques I used with my Relationship Marketing book, above, was to offer downloadable PDF’s of each of the worksheets in my book, and include the URL for the worksheets on the pages of the book referring, or displaying, each worksheet.

Getting a head start

As you can see, authors who only begin to think about marketing their book after it’s been published are at a significant disadvantage compared to those who address reader relationship building while planning and writing their book. Don’t make the mistake of failing to have a plan for converting readers into clients by driving them to your website as they read your 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.

One of your most important marketing and promoting decisions is choosing the right incentive to offer as a bonus to visitors who sign up for your e-mail newsletter or weekly tips.

It’s not enough to offer great information delivered at consistent intervals via e-mail; you have to go further and sweeten the pot with a sign-up bonus if you want to grow your list as quickly as possible.

Why you must offer an incentive

You have to strike while the iron is hot! One of the reasons to offer an incentive that is immediately delivered via an e-mail autoresponder is to immediately contact visitors who have signed up for your newsletter or weekly tips.

Visitors have short memories; if you’re midway between monthly newsletters or a weekly tip sheet mailing, by the time the next issue rolls around, visitors may have forgotten that they signed-up for it. This won’t happen, however, if they immediately receive your incentive and a thank-you for signing up.

Characteristics of successful incentives

Your sign-up incentive should reflect the quality of information you share on a consistent basis with your clients, customers, prospects, and readers. Key characteristics include:

  • Engaging. Pay as much attention to the title of your incentive as you pay to the title of your book. Your incentive must immediately communicate a benefit that will help visitors solve a problem or achieve a goal. For help choosing the title of your incentive, use the same techniques used to choose article, book, & event titles.
  • Helpful & relevance. The success of a sign-up incentive is based not on how well it “sells” your services, but on the quality of the information you share in it. Let your information be your salesperson; don’t hold anything back- -share your expertise and leave your visitor looking forward to learning more.
  • Actionable. Avoid incentives that are long on theory, but short on information. Instead, focus on concise and simply-stated ideas that your market can immediately put to work.
  • Perceived value. Pay attention to the quality of your incentive; let the packaging, or the design and layout, of your incentive add value to your words and ideas. The design of your incentive should project an appropriate image, one that tells a story and differentiates you and your firm from the competition.
  • Low-cost or no-cost. Electronic incentives, like Adobe PDF’s, downloadable audios, or streaming videos are best because there are few out-of-pocket costs involved in creating them and no costs (other than the low monthly fees for an auto-responder) involved in distributing them.
  • Trackable. In order to test, and, thereby, continue to improve, the desirability of your incentives, it’s important that you carefully track the number of incentives you distribute and the conversions- -or sales- – that result. A simple spreadsheet will help you correlate newsletter or tip-sheet sign-ups to specific blog posts or pay-per-click advertising.

Types of incentives

As mentioned above, sign-up incentive can take many forms. Format options include Acrobat PDF files, audios, videos, and- -even- -templates to be used with popular software programs. The following is a rundown of the types of content options you can choose from:

  • Assessments. An assessment can be as simple as a questionnaire, or as sophisticated as a self-grading interactive form. Assessments help visitors determine their needs and identify areas where improvement is possible.
  • Best-of compendiums. Your hard-drive may contain hundreds of previously-written articles, case studies, ideas, strategies, and tips, that you can assemble into a “Best of” incentive. Another source of information may be as close as your blog posts, which can be easily harvested for your incentive.
  • Checklists. Another popular incentive category idea includes checklists. Checklists help visitors evaluate their performance as they complete a task or work towards a goal.
  • E-courses. An e-course is simply an incentive sent by autoresponders at timed intervals. Typically, the first “lesson” is sent immediately, with follow-up lessons sent every few days or at weekly intervals. Each follow-up mailing reinforces your brand and your message, increasing the likelihood of a favorable outcome.
  • Glossaries. Every field has its own professional terms and jargon. Newcomers to your field are likely to appreciate a list of important terms and their definitions.
  • Resource compilations. What are the recommended books and online resources in your field? Who are the big players in your field? You can enhance your reputation as the knowledgeable “go to” individual in your field by positioning yourself as an expert “filter” who helps visitors save time locating and evaluating resources they’ll find useful…and you’ll get the credit for introducing them.
  • Software templates. Software templates, prepared for use with the popular programs like Microsoft Excel or Word, Adobe In-Design, or Mindjet’s MindManager, help prospects get a head start on their projects. Spreadsheet templates can help prospects make better decisions, and newsletter templates provide a ready-to-use framework for creating a one-page newsletter with Microsoft Publisher.
  • Speeches. Be sure your next speech is recorded, so you can offer it as a downloadable audio or a streaming video.
  • Survey results. After creating a survey of your clients, customers, prospects, and blog readers, compile a report summarizing the major trends. Survey incentives become more valuable each year, if you update the results and include comparisons with survey results from previous years.
  • Tip sheets. Tip sheets are one of the most powerful tools available. A tip sheet can be as simple as 10 tips printed on one side of a single sheet of paper, or they can become as elaborate as you desire.

Your sign-up incentives are going to be judged by their appearance as well as their contents. Ideally, the appearance of your incentives should reflect the brand associated with you and your book.

  • White papers. White papers which are educationally-oriented reports focusing on current challenges and new developments in your field are an excellent lead generation and list-building tool. The ideal length is 12 pages, or less. The key to a successful white paper is to avoid overt marketing or promotion until the very end, where you can stress your firm’s role in developing and delivering the latest advances.

Content and format options

Here are some things to bear in mind when harvesting previously written content from your hard drive and previous blog posts:

  • Clients and prospects have a short memory. Blog content quickly ages, no matter how carefully you have organized your blog posts by category. By drawing attention to valuable content 6 months, or so, older, you’re performing a valuable service for your market.
  • Different prospects prefer different formats. Just because you addressed a topic in a previous newsletter, and you have it archived on your website, doesn’t mean every prospect is aware of it. Thus, repurposing previous newsletters and blog posts into audios and videos exposes them to prospects who may welcome the information because it’s new to them.

Takeaway

Don’t make the mistake of focusing on writing the perfect book, but fail to offer a helpful, relevant, and actionable incentive. In many ways, the title and content of your sign-up incentive is as important as the title and content of your book. Successful incentives lead to successful books!


Welcome to Step 3, Promoting, in your 4-step Author Journey to a published book. The first step in marketing and promoting your book is to evaluate your current online visibility.

Your ability to market and promote your book is based on your ability to promote yourself and your book online. Online visibility brings up the topic of your author platform.

What’s your platform like?

Your author platform refers to your ability to promote yourself and your book online- -where books are sold and product and service decisions are made. Your platform is a measure of the quality and quantity of your website presence plus your ability to keep in touch with clients, prospects, peers, and opinion-makers.

  • Start by asking, What shows up when you enter your name, or your firm’s name, into a search engine like Google.com or Yahoo.com?
  • Then, enter the keywords, or terms clients, prospects, or the media use when asking questions or searching for information about issues and topics in your field. Does your blog or website show up on the first page, or two, of results? Are there a lot of results, or just a few?

The stronger your platform, i.e., the more visibility you already have, the easier it will be to get your book published and into the hands of readers who you hope will turn into prospects and customers.

Questions to ask when evaluating your online platform

The best way to evaluate your online platform is to evaluate your current web presence by asking questions like the following:

  1. When did you last update your website? Visitors and search engines like frequently updated websites, beginning with the home page. Just as you wouldn’t buy your daily newspaper if the front page always looked the same, your website needs to be constantly freshened with new content.
  2. Can you update your website by yourself? Your ability to promote your book and your career is based on your ability to easily update your website yourself, without needing to contact and pay money to a webmaster or web designer.
  3. Do you have a blog? Blogs are no longer fashionable options for sharing the details of your daily existence. Today, blogs are fundamental marketing tools that permit you to develop and share your expertise by easily and efficiently adding text and graphics by yourself, without incurring the costs and delays of paying someone else. In an age of WordPress blogs, there’s simply no excuse for a website you cannot edit and update yourself.
  4. Does your site offer a sign-up incentive? It is essential that your website contains an incentive for visitors to sign-up for your email newsletter or tips. Unless you have a way of capturing your visitor’s e-mail address and permission to contact them via email, you’ll only get one chance to sell the visitor before they go elsewhere and forget about you and your site. Capture their e-mail address and permission, however, and you can convert that one-time visit into a long and profitable relationship.
  5. How often do you send e-mail updates? Do you remember E.R. on television, the drama that took place in a hospital emergency room? Remember the oscilloscope displays tracking the heartbeats of the patients? Each time their heart beat, the trace rose to the top of the screen. But, it never stayed there. The rise to the top was quickly followed by a drop to the bottom of the screen. The same effect happens with your marketing. Each time you send out a tip or a newsletter, your visibility rises to the top of your prospect’s attention. But, the more time that goes by between your e-mail contacts, the more likely you won’t be visible when your prospect is ready to buy. Short, weekly e-mail updates are far more effectively than monthly or quarterly contacts.
  6. How often do web visits turn into sales? Are you able to track the conversions, or sales, that originate on your website? If you’re not able to track your website’s performance, how do you know what it’s contributing to your firm’s profitability? If you can’t track your website’s performance, you can’t test your offers, your prices, and your headlines? You’ll never know which keywords to include in your headlines and body copy. Websites and testing go hand in hand; making it easy to test each variable until it delivers maximum sales for each of your product and service offerings.
  7. How helpful and relevant is your site’s content? If your website consists primarily of empty claims about how great you are, it’s probably not contributing much to your bottom line. Success today is based on sharing genuinely helpful information with clients and prospects. Givers get. The more information you share, the more you will be viewed as an expert in your field, paving the way to book sales and back-end product and service profits.
  8. Is your site’s image unique and accurate? Content is king, but content, by itself, isn’t enough. The design of your website says a lot about you, pre-selling the importance of your words, projecting a distinct and appropriate look that differentiates your site from the competition and resonates with prospects, inviting repeat visits. If your website looks old and tired, however, your message will look old and tired.
  9. How well are you using web audio and video? Are you taking appropriate advantage of streaming audio and video? It’s a mistake to think that everyone wants to read as much as you do; today’s world is dominated by iPods, podcasts, and online videos. If you’re not taking advantage of them, your profits will suffer. It’s imperative that you offer prospects their choice of message formats.
  10. How regularly do you submit articles online? Your website is just one of your online marketing tools. Articles that you write and submit to article distribution sites like www.ezinearticles.com permit you to expand your search engine visibility and drive addition traffic to your website.
  11. Are you taking advantage of social marketing? How effectively are you using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other specialized sites to cultivate relationships and referrals from clients, co-workers, friends, prospects, and subject area experts? It’s never been easier to create quality connections with others who share your interests or challenges and drive traffic to your blog or website.

Conclusion

Once you have realistically evaluated the effectiveness of your online presence and author platform, you’ll have a baseline, or starting point, for moving forward. You’ll be able to plan a realistic enhancement of your author platform and search engine visibility. This will pave the way to building your brand and selling more books by taking advantage of the historically unique combination of amazing technology and low cost online marketing opportunities currently available.

There are three basic approaches to getting others to help you write your book. As always, your choice should be determined by your goals and your resources. The three options are:

  1. Paying for Help. This option involves locating co-authors, ghost writers, and other forms of reimbursed writing assistance. Reimbursement can be based on a fixed-fee, work-for-hire basis, with the money coming either from the author’s pocket or publisher’s advance. Reimbursement can also be based on future royalties and book sales. Authors must carefully identify exactly what they’re looking for from others, and structure responsibilities and rights to avoid disappointment down the road.
  2. The Network Approach. Another option is to approach other authors and subject area experts in your field for chapters, stories, or suggestions. This often works well when combined with approaching clients and prospects with surveys and offers to contribute case studies or stories to your book. The better known you are in your field, the easier it will be to get free contributions for your book in exchange for acknowledgments and inclusion in the Resources section of your book.
  3. Social Media Approach. A newer approach is to combine the power of social media, like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, with the outreach power of online surveys, from sources like SurveyMonkey or Zoomerang to locate others who can help you write your book. This approach leverages the power of the latest Internet tools to help you save time writing a better book.

Social Media Approach at a glance

The social media approach offers many advantages and continues to evolve and improve.

The social media approach frees you from the limitations of the first two approaches. It eliminates the costs, possible disappointments, and possible future “entanglement” costs of working with co-authors. No agreement, no matter how well constructed, can anticipate all future scenarios, and—at one time or another–all books and relationships involve differences of opinion.

The social media approach can open the door to new relationships with others who are interested in your topic, or have had experience in it. This can broaden your perspective and pave the way for new friendships, ideas, and profit opportunities.

The social media approach to getting others to help you write your book involves 2 steps:

  1. Locate strangers with relevant information. This involves using a combination of search engine marketing, social media, and online surveys to locate others interested in sharing their views.
  2. Requesting follow-up interviews and stories. Your initial survey should contain an option allowing survey participants to share their e-mail address and permission for you to contact them in the future. This is your gateway to follow-up e-mails and, when appropriate, possible telephone conversation and interviews.

By participating in your survey, individuals are indicating their interest in your topic. This makes them likely to be willing to share their experiences and stories  with you in your book.

Driving traffic to your online survey

After creating your survey with SurveyMonkey, Zoomerang, or the dozens of other free online survey providers, there are several ways you can drive traffic to it.

You can begin with promoting your survey on your blog and in your website. You can promote your survey in your permission-based e-mail newsletters. You can Tweet about it, and encourage your followers to Retweet your requests for survey participation.

You can also add survey modules to your Squidoo lenses, and create a LinkedIn Answers campaign or post your question on Facebook. Step-by-step advice for working with LinkedIn Answers can be found at Dummies.com.

Finally, you can use pay-per-click ads to attract the attention of those interested in your field and drive them to your survey. Even a relatively small budget can be enough to drive qualified traffic to your survey each day.

Help a Reporter Out

Peter Shankman’s Help a Reporter Out, or HelpaReporter, is perhaps the most powerful, popular, and free outreach option for authors. Help a Reporter Out is a free subscription service that sends members 3 e-mails a day containing a digest of brief questions posted by authors and journalists.

Authors can use this service to drive traffic to their online surveys. They can simply ask for individuals interested in sharing their experiences to visit your survey page and answer a question, rate their concerns, or share their favorite shortcut or tip.

Over 29,000 journalists subscribe to HARO, which enhances the program’s power to drive qualified traffic to your online survey. In addition to attracting the attention of people interested in your topic, your query may prompt a journalist to contact you for a possible interview.

Being quoted as an expert in your field, of course, will introduce you to additional potential readers as well as potential contributors.

Tips for following-up surveys

Here are some tips for interviewing individuals who have participated in your survey:

  • Always record and transcribe your interviews. Recording your calls, with the interviewee’s permission, frees you from the necessity of taking notes during the conversation. You’ll be better able to pay attention to the interviewee’s responses and ask for clarification or more details.
  • Obtain permission for quotes and stories. Clarify your intent to include portions of the interview in your upcoming book. Be sure to keep careful records of interviewee names and e-mail addresses. Your publisher’s Permissions Department will want to follow-up and confirm permission before your book appears.

Conclusion

Never before has it been so easy to get others to help you write your book. Social media makes it easy to locate others interested in your topic; free online surveys make it easy to begin relationships that can lead to in-depth interviews that can add richness and depth to your book.

Before you can write your book, you need to create a content plan for your book. Mind mapping makes it easy to identify and organize your ideas.

Mind mapping software, see directory here, allows you to work visually. Ideas are displayed as clouds, or topics, organized around the main topic. The main topic can be the title of a book, a newsletter editorial calendar, or a quarterly marketing plan.

When creating the content plan for #Book Title Tweet: 140 Bite-Sized Ideas for Creating Compelling Titles for Articles, Books, and Events, I followed the same 3-step process I always use when starting a new book:

  • Step 1: Sections. I identify the main sections of the book.
  • Step 2: Chapters. Next, I list the chapters and main ideas with each section.
  • Step 3: Export. When finished, I export the mind map to Microsoft Word.

This approach is extremely efficient. It eliminates duplicate typing. The mind map I use to plan my book and share with potential literary agents or publishers is also used to create a formal book proposal and prepare the manuscript for publication.

Step 1: Sections

Figure 1

Figure 1, created with Mindjet’s MindManager, shows what my project looked like less than two hours after I started work. If memory serves, it took me about 30 minutes to identify the major sections of the book, and another hour, or so, to fine-tune the section titles and their order.

At this point, my intention to write a book about book titles has already begun to take shape. There hasn’t really been much “stress,” and I’ve rather enjoyed the process of dragging and dropping sections into the correct order. And, I actually left the office early, after sharing copies of the map with a few key individuals.

Step 2: Chapters

Figure 2

My next step was to begin to populate the map with the next level of information, chapters.

In the case of the THINKaha book series edited by Rajesh Setty’s, the “chapters” consist of Tweets, or 140-character, ideas and examples. Accordingly, I began to write the book in MindManager, as shown in Figure 2.

A couple of things to notice:

  • Automatic numbering. MindManager, like many other mind mapping software programs, can automatically number each subtopic. This made it easy for me to track my progress and include the right number of points.
  • Keeping track of characters. Note the numbers in the call-outs. After I developed each idea and provided an example, I copied and pasted the text into Microsoft Word. I could then use Word’s Tools, WordCount feature to see how many characters I used (or had to edit to fit the 140-character limit. This quickly became a pleasurable game.
  • Notes feature. I used MindManager’s Notes feature if I had any additional ideas, such as alternative examples, for each entry.

You may have noticed that the subtitle in the mind map has been changed to “140 Bite-Sized Ideas for Compelling Titles for Articles, Books, and Events.” Change during the course of writing and editing a book is a normal, and healthy, sign of progress. Change is a positive byproduct of the collaborations and conversations between authors and publishers.

Step 3: Export to Word

When I was through, I exported my mind map to Microsoft Word, and was able to view the book from my readers’ perspective.

My initial manuscript editing was relatively easy, since, from the beginning, I was able to visually preview the order (or context) of each 140-character topic. As a result, there were no unpleasant surprises along the way.

Likewise, since my mind mapped plan was on target, there were minimum editorial queries or problem areas to adjust. The experience reminded me of what Jack Hart, veteran writing coach, had written in his A Writer’s Coach: The Complete Guide to Writing Strategies that Work and had emphasized when I interviewed him: Writing problems are usually the result of planning problems.

Only, in this case, starting out with a strong plan, writing (i.e., choosing the right words to communicate my ideas) was easy.

Conclusion

Good content plans create good books. Use the right tools to convert your intention to write a book into a framework you can use to sell, test-market, and write your book. The sooner you create your book’s content plan, and the more thought and care you put into it, the easier it will be to sell your book to the right publisher and finish your manuscript on time. What’s your favorite tool for creating content plans? Share your ideas, comments, and questions, below, as comments.

I’ve heard few authors say that they “found the time” to write their book! Time is not something you “find,” like a needle in a haystack (or, the New World).

Instead, time to write is something you create, and you create time using tools like planning, commitment, and efficiency.

Here’s a proven, 4-step process for making the time to write that works for me, and many of my clients.

1. Start with a plan

Whether you’re writing a book or a blog post, progress comes quicker when you know what you want to write before you sit down to write.

Your “plans” don’t have to be elaborate, and they don’t have to be formal. As you can see from the content plan I created at the start of this series, a simple mind map is enough to provide a framework for your writing success.

Likewise, if you’re starting a book, your plan might be as simple as a list of the 10 chapters you’re going to include in your book, plus the 7-10 main ideas (or topics) you’re going to discuss in each chapter.

For example, I just added a copy of a mind map I created a few years ago for a major project to my Active Garage Resource Center. It was one of my first maps, but it was enough to sell the project and help me write the project on time.

2. Commit to daily progress

Once you have created a content plan, or framework, the next step is to forget everything you ever heard about deadline-based “writing marathons.” Likewise, forget about “getting away” to write a book and myths like “I write better under pressure.”

I’ve interviewed hundreds of successfully branded authors, and the majority of them don’t believe coffee-inspired writing marathons. Instead, they commit to consistent daily progress, often in working sessions as short as 30 minutes.

Books are best written in short, daily working sessions, not stressful marathons!

It’s amazing what you can accomplish in 30-minute working sessions if you know what you’re going to write about. The act of creating a content plan, activates your brain so it is constantly working in the background, sifting and organizing ideas, searching for the right words, while you’re doing other tasks during the day, and when you’re driving or sleeping.

Fewer expectations equal less stress

One of the reasons that short working sessions are so productive is that there is less stress- -primarily performance anxiety- -involved in short 30-minute working sessions than in vacations or weekends. One of the reasons for this is that if you only expect to write a page or two during a working session, you’re not as likely to be disappointed.

But, if you have vowed to write a book over the summer at a vacation cabin, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Why? Because the expectation of a completed book leads to the worrisome thought, What do I do if I don’t finish my book? Won’t I be a failure? Won’t people laugh?

Likewise, expecting to write a book during weekends and holidays, creates guilt-based stress because you’re not spending time with your family.

3. Harvest your time

Begin by taking an inventory of your time, locating specific time periods each day when you can commit to 30 minute working sessions. Look for opportunities like:

  • Getting up 30-minutes earlier each day, preferably before the family gets up.
  • Staying up 30-minute later each night.
  • Arriving at the office 30-minutes earlier and closing the door.
  • Taking your lunch with you, and eating a sandwich at your computer.
  • Taking your laptop to a coffee shop or bookstore café during breaks or mealtime.

Then, make both public commitment of specific times each weekday. Don’t say, I’m going to write a little every morning! Instead, specify, I’m going to get to my office by 8:30 AM and check my messages or e-mail until 9:00!

Your daily writing sessions don’t have to be at the same time each day; your working sessions on Monday might be between 7:30 and 8:00 AM, but your Tuesday working sessions might be 8:00 PM to 8:30 while the family is watching television.

Once you’ve made a commitment to daily progress, and shared it with others, you’ll find it much easier to keep your project on track.

4. Track your progress

Since we all find the time to do what we want to do, it’s important that you keep yourself motivated.

That’s why the final step is to find a way to demonstrate your daily progress. One of the ways you can do this is to add a check-mark, or a strike-through, to indicate finished chapters and topics on your content map.

Another way to show progress is to print what you’ve just written during each writing session on 3-hole punched paper, and store them in a 3-ring binder.

Each time you open the binder and insert new pages, you’ll enjoy a feeling of accomplishment, as you see your finished pages mounting up.

Conclusion

All the “how to write” books and workshops in the world won’t get your book written if you don’t make the time to make the time to actually write your book. The 4-step process of planning your content, commiting to short, daily working sessions, harvesting your time, and tracking your progress is a formula that works. But, it’s up to you to put the process to work!