Posts Tagged ‘published and profitable’

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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Self-Published Authors Need Developmental Editing, Too!

by Roger Parker on October 31, 2011

Self-published authors need developmental editing as much as authors working with trade publishers. No one is immune to the need for a fresh perspective and reality check by an experienced editor.

Unfortunately, many self-published authors don’t get the developmental editing help they need…and their book deserves. There are several reasons for this:

  • Don’t consider it important. Sometimes, self-published authors, especially subject area experts, may feel their experience working in their field eliminates the need for developmental editing. Often, this belief is coupled with offers from family members and friends to “proof” their book for free. A willingness to accept professional input is often based on a misunderstanding of what developmental editing is all about.
  • Don’t know where to get it. Many first-time authors don’t know where to locate developmental editors or how to find a local editor. Even if they search on Google and explore some of the websites that appear, they don’t know what to expect, what to ask, or how to evaluate candidates.
  • Can’t afford it. Finally, many developmental editors simply can’t afford an experienced editor, and avoid the whole issue—rather than exploring what they can do on their own.

What is developmental editing?

Let’s start by analyzing what developmental editing isn’t, and, from there, explore what it is.

Developmental editing is not:

  • Prooreading. Developmental editing isn’t searching for spelling errors, incomplete sentences, misused words, or misspelled words.
  • Checking for grammatical errors. Developmental editing also isn’t grammar checking, i.e., checking for agreement between subjects and verbs, run-on sentences, passive verbs, or overuse of exclamation points! g)
  • Fact checking. Developmental editing also doesn’t get involved with verifying details, ideas, or suggestions.

So, what is developmental editing?

I view developmental editing as pre-publication, multi-step search for coherence, or alignment, between:

  • Books & author goals. Nonfiction, brand-building books aren’t written for creative expression. They’re written to establish the author’s credibility and contribute to future profits. Developmental editing can provide a reality check increasing the likelihood that the author’s writing and publishing goals will be achieved.
  • Books & reader needs. Readers don’t buy business and personal-growth related nonfiction for entertainment or writing style. Books are purchased to solve problems and achieve goals. Developmental editing provides another reality check that tests the ability of the book to help its intended market.
  • Books & their competition. Developmental editing provides an independent perspective on the other books competing for reader attention. The goal is to identify the “missing book,” or the book that’s wanted, but hasn’t been written yet.
  • Coherence within the book. Finally, development editing provides an fresh perspective on how the contents of the book, and its various parts, work together serving the author and reader’s needs.

Basically, pre-publication developmental editing provides a “big picture view” to replace the myopia that authors face writing about topics they know and love.

Developmental editing provides focus and saves time and energy because avoiding mistakes is a lot more efficient than fixing them after they show up.

Developmental editing process

The goal of developmental editing is to save you time, reduce stress and sell more books by working as efficiently as possible. It involves making the right decisions as you plan and write your book.

The best developmental editing approach involves asking, and answering, the questions associated with the 7 key areas involved in writing, marketing, and self-publishing books:

  • Goals. What are your writing and self-publishing goals? How are you going to profit from your book?
  • Readers. Who are your ideal readers, firms and individuals you want to build lasting relationships with?
  • Competition. What are the leading books that your book will be competing with?
  • Position. How can you make your book distinctively different from existing books on your topic?
  • Efficiency. What’s the easiest and fastest way you can get your book into your reader’s hands?
  • Demand. How can you build demand for your book…while you’re writing it?
  • Profit. What are some of the ways you can leverage your book into new opportunities and profits after it’s published?

The power of questions. Questions are powerful developmental editing tools because each time you answer a question, it’s likely to lead to additional questions… This forces you to question your assumptions and explore new options and alternatives.

Do-it-yourself developmental editing resources

Here are some of the ways you can enjoy the benefits developmental editing if you’re not ready to work on a 1-to-1 basis with a developmental editor, or take advantage of the benefits of group coaching.

  • Free do-it-yourself resources. Many developmental editors offer free checklists, podcasts, worksheets and white papers containing valuable ideas. While its still available as a proof, you can also download a copy of my 99 Questions to Ask Before You Write and Self-publish a Brand-building Book. This hands-on PDF workbook provides a step-by-step framework to answering the questions that must be addressed before you start planning and writing your book, guiding you as you create a content plan and business plan for your book.
  • Premium developmental editing resources. There are numerous free online resources that you can search for using terms like “book coach,” “developmental editing,” or “help writing a book and getting published.” You’ll probably find that the problem isn’t locating resources, but keeping track of them, and implementing the ideas you encounter. There are also low-cost, paid online resources that provide a “guided tour” approach to the tasks involved in planning, writing, promoting, and profiting from a book. Often, these resources include online group coaching for subscribing members. 500 pages of articles, checklists, author interviews, and worksheets.

All books require developmental editing

Self-published books need developmental editing as much as books written for large trade publishers. Whether you do the work yourself, or engage a professional developmental editor, you’ll find that developmental editing before and during writing will save you time, reduce stress, and increase the likelihood of your book’s success. What have been your experiences reading self-published books by others or self-publishing your own books? Share your experiences and questions below, as comments.

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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Flexible Focus #60: Writing Tips and Tools

by William Reed on July 7, 2011

Put Your Passion on a Platform

If we don’t stand for something, we shall fall for anything.”~Peter Marshall, Chaplain (1947)

Although we often associate the word platform with politics, in fact it has a far more profound relevance in how we live our lives and pursue our passions. As most of us are not running for election, we do not need to use our platform to debate an opponent or win over voters. A platform is a point of view, a perspective, a place to stand. Without a platform we simply drift.

One of the best ways to develop a platform is to write. Whether it is a diary meant for your eyes only, or a published platform for the world to see, the very act of putting your thoughts in writing gives your thoughts wings, and sets your mind in motion. Writing not only gives shape to your thoughts, but the process of writing makes you a proactive producer, rather than a passive consumer. Writing puts things in perspective by requiring you to take a point of view, while at the same time considering the points of view of your readers, an excellent recipe for flexible focus.

Although we all learn to write in school, few people continue to write, and many resist the process as a tiresome task. Even people who want to write often experience writer’s block, a state of mental congestion in which words jam and fail to communicate what is inside wanting to come out.

Oddly, chances are that you are never more fluent when it comes to talking about your passions. But when you try to write about them, you often find that your thoughts have clipped wings.

One of the reasons for this is the feeling cultivated in school that writing is something that you will be graded on. Poor spelling and awkward phrases may brand you as uneducated or incoherent. It may seem safer to stick to speech, rather than committing yourself in print.

And yet putting your thoughts on paper is one of the best ways to put your passion on a platform, because it is lasting, and reaches much further than your voice. Your writing can be the core element of your personal brand.

Facilitating the Process

The fastest way to fluency in writing is to form the habit of logging your thoughts in a notebook, capturing your ideas in key words, images, and visual metaphors. Your brain takes to a notebook like a duck to water. it is your space, your playground, your mental mirror. No need to worry about grades or grammar, just enjoy the power of the pen.

I have explored this process in depth in my Creative Career Path column in such articles as, Idea Marathon, Making Your Mark, and Doodle for Your Noodle. Without a vibrantly flowing river of thought running through your life, any efforts you make at formal writing will sound stilted and forced. Imagine if a company of actors put on a play without any rehearsals or practice. The results would not be pretty, and yet that is the approach that many people take when they sit down to write without the habit of daily practice.

Once you have become comfortable putting pen to paper and generating ideas, the next step is to engage in writing to an audience. Whether through a blog or an article, or more formally through a book, you are better served if you make use of writing tools which can enhance your ability to say what you mean in a memorable way.

Words gain more power when addressed with alliteration. Taking care to select the right words can help you craft your style in a way that is both conversational and concise. Because your passive vocabulary is much larger than your active vocabulary, it is important to reach into the full range of words which you already know, but may not be accustomed to using. The best way to do this is to make use of tools like Thesaurus.com. You will be surprised to see how many ways there are to say the same thing with a different nuance.

To enhance your writing experience, Scrivener is an excellent tool, available for Mac OSX, and with a beta version for Windows. Scrivener is a complete writing studio, with all you could possibly want to organize your research, format your documents, keep visual notes, manage text statistics, search your documents, or edit and add comments. It is a writer’s dream.

The Mandala Chart itself is an excellent way to organize ideas around a subject, or create an editorial calendar, allowing you to see the big picture, the fine detail, and the integration of your material with flexible focus. Another excellent tool for organizing your ideas is PersonalBrain. You can create your own 3D idea maps on your computer, or publish them in the form of a Webbrain, such as I have done for this column with the Flexible Focus Webrain.

If you want to write or present yourself professionally in print, then there is no better resource than Roger C. Parker’s PublishedandProfitable.com, a step by step resource guide to planning, writing, promoting, and profiting from a book or any other form of writing. Here you will find templates, white papers, expert interviews, articles, worksheets, and a wealth of resources for writers. Roger has also lent his wisdom on Writing for Business through his Author’s Journey series on Active Garage.

Published writing increases the size and quality of your interface with the world. It has never been easier to create and cultivate that interface through software tools and leverage your work through social media. Give wings to your thoughts, and see just how far it can take you personally and professionally.

William ReedWilliam Reed specializes in applying practical wisdom from Japanese and Asian culture to solving the problems of modern business and living. He is the author of the Flexible Focus column on Active Garage, the syndicated column Creative Career Path and the book A Zoom Lens for Your life. William is also a Representative Director and Co-Founder of EMC QUEST Corporation, which provides Coaching for Communication and Change, World Class Speaking™, and Accelerated Action with GOALSCAPE™.
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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.

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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If you’re a business owner or an author using a sample chapter of your book, a report, or a tip sheet as a list-building incentive, consider replacing it with a manifesto. A well-written manifesto can do a better job of helping you build your brand and grow your list, paving the way for you to sell more books.

Manifestos are better list builders because they take a stand. Because manifestos strongly advocate a position, and are usually passionately written, they operate on an emotional level, tapping into the power of commitment.

Cialdini and Commitment

Robert Cialdini, the best-selling author of Influence: The Power of Persuasion, has spent his entire career researching the science of influence, earning an international reputation as an expert in the fields of persuasion, compliance, and negotiation.

Influence: The Power of Persuasion has become one of the most frequently quoted psychology books among marketing professionals. In it, Cialdini describes 6 weapons of influence. The longest chapter is devoted to commitment. The main idea is simple: once individuals commit to an idea or a course of action, they tend to remain committed.

The power of commitment is rooted in an individual’s self-image and a desire to avoid appearing wrong to others; the more public the commitment, the stronger the commitment.

Commitment, social media, and list quality

I was reminded about the power of commitment when I ran across Sunni Brown’s Doodle Revolution Manifesto, one of the strongest community-building list-builders I’ve seen in a long-long time.

Sunni Brown is co-author, with Dave Gray and John Macanufo, of Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers. Gamestorming is currently one of Amazon.com’s top 1,500 bestsellers overall, as well as a leading book in several business categories.

My route to signing Sunni Brown’s Doodle Revolution Manifesto illustrates the importance of quality online content, backed up with the power of social media.

My journey to the Doodle Revolutionary’s Manifesto

Here’s the social media and quality content route I traveled that led me to Sunni’s manifesto (and this post):.

  • Friday afternoon. My journey began when I discovered Gamestorming at the local Barnes & Noble.
  • Early Friday evening. My exploration continued when I got home, searched online, and visited the Gamestorming site and blog. Later, I Googled each of the authors. My search lead me to a Tweet by @bangalaurent, Laurent Sarrazin. The post described Sunni’s free, i.e., no registration, Revolutionary’s Booklist. I was intrigued, checked it out, and downloaded it.
  • Late Friday evening. Later, after downloading the Revolutionary’s Booklist, I spent a couple of pleasurable hours with it, discovering interesting titles and exploring their authors online.
  • Saturday morning. I was so impressed with the list that I shared it with a dozen clients and friends, both local and around the world. Later in the afternoon, I received e-mails from several recipients, thanking me for sending them the list.
  • Sunday night. Pleased with my experience so far, I returned to Sunni’s site, reread the Doodle Revolutionary’s Manifesto, reviewed the names of the individuals who had already signed it, then signed it myself. I also added my name to her e-mail newsletter list (which was not required to sign the Manifesto).

Lessons from my Doodler’s Revolution journey

Here are a few of my big takeaways from my odyssey:

  1. Size of following does not equal influence. The Twitter post that began the journey was by someone who had less than 30 followers! But, Google didn’t care when they displayed their Tweet, and I didn’t care when I followed it to Sunni’s list.
  2. Content quality is more important than quantity. If I hadn’t been impressed by the Revolutionary’s Booklist, my journey would have ended. But, because the content was relevant, useful, and concise, I felt compelled to share it. Moreover, the Doodle Revolutionary’s Manifesto is just 2 pages long—it’s the Gettysburg Address of list-building incentives. I might not have read a 12-page report or an 8-page manifesto, but I had no trouble reading a well-written 2-page manifesto.
  3. Quality outsells “selling.” The Revolutionary’s Books PDF is free from selling; there’s only quality content and a clean layout, plus a tongue-in-cheek footer, “With love from www.doodlerevolution.com and www.sunnibrown.com.” A nice, light-hearted touch.
  4. Story and emotion win. The Doodle Revolutionary’s Manifesto wasn’t written by a committee and for a committee. It was written by a passionate believer speaking directly to other passionate believers. It succeeds because it’s engaging and provides a chance for believers to confirm their beliefs. In fact, the writing style is entertaining because it goes slightly overboard. But, overboard is sometimes OK! As opera proves, there’s a time and a place for colorful and passionate writing.

Takeaways and opinions

What are your takeaways from my journey from anonymous prospective reader and website visitors to a person who has publicly committed to a cause? Would a similar manifesto and online approach help you build your brand, grow your list, & sell more books? What would your manifesto be about? How could you get your prospects to commit to it? Share your impressions and questions as comments, below.

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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Guy Kawasaki’s Finishing School for Entrepreneurs!

by Roger Parker on March 8, 2011

While reading an advance copy of Guy Kawasaki’s Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions, it struck me that what Guy is providing is a “finishing school for 21st Century entrepreneurs.”

According to Wikipedia, finishing school originally referred to “a private school for girls that emphasizes training in cultural and social activities.” Intended to follow ordinary schooling, finishing school is “intended to complete the educational experience, with classes primarily on etiquette.”

Guy Kawasaki’s Enchantment is much more than shallow etiquette, as it references many of the most important and influential current books on marketing, psychology, and social behavior, such as Robert Cialdini’s Influence: The Power of Persuasion.

Yet, at heart, Enchantment is an etiquette book; its a 21st century behavior book, a guide to the subtleties and nuances of daily business life that determine whether or not others—bosses, co-workers, customers, employees, prospects, and website visitors—will like us and trust us…or simply tune-us out.

Image versus reality

Enchantment fascinates me because—on the surface–it looks, and reads, like a “simple” book. It’s a fast read because sentences, paragraphs, and chapters, are short. Topics inside chapters are short and to the point, broken up with frequent subheads, lists, and quotations that keep readers engaged and moving forward.

There are also enough graphics to reinforce important points.

Look behind the apparent simplicity and easy reading, however, and you’ll find a wealth of carefully organized, up-to-date information. Enchantment’s bibliography may only include 20 titles, but they’re the right 20 titles, and Guy Kawasaki obviously carefully read each of the contemporary business classics before skillfully weaving them into the narrative.

You’ll definitely want to read Enchantment with pen in hand, so you can underline the many ideas you’ll want to revisit.

Importance of balance

Most business books fall into the trap of either being too abstract or too practical.

  • Abstract books, often the ground-breaking books that introduce new ideas and perspectives, are often too research-oriented to be useful. They may define a new way of approaching a problem, but they don’t provide the daily nuts-and-bolts, “do and don’t” advice, that readers need to efficiently implement and profit from the new perspective.
  • Practical books, on the other hand, are often so distilled down to the “how to’s” that readers don’t understand the background, or the context, of the recommended advice.

Enchantment is one of the rare exceptions. It defines a “code of behavior” that will encourage others to like, respect, and trust you (and your ideas) and also provides the specific advice and recommendations you need to create the daily habits that will enchantment those whose approval you need to achieve your goals.

Is Enchantment for you?

Basically, Enchantment is for you, if :

  • You’d rather read 1 book, instead of 20 other books.
  • You’re interested in stories, rather than ideas. Enchantment is filled with examples from Guy Kawasaki’s own experiences plus personal stories contributed by a variety of successful entrepreneurs.
  • You’re part of the personal computing and Internet age. As a well-known Silicon Valley participant and investor, Guy Kawasaki writes from a privileged “insider” perspective about the past. This also makes him the perfect guide to introduce you to ways to achieve your enchantment using the latest online and social media technology.

Enchantment contains additional subtleties that enhance its value as a “finish school” for entrepreneurs. The table of contents, for example, provides topic lists with check-boxes for you to track your progress as you read. In addition, the Conclusion contains a self-scoring quiz you can take to test your mastery of Enchantment powers. There’s also a fascinating story, (that word, again!), describing the origins of the book cover and how it was crowd-sourced and market-tested before committing to it. (Guy practices what he preaches.) All in all, Guy Kawasaki’s Enchantment is a book that deserves your attention. To learn more, view Guy’s Enchantment slides and speech, take an online quiz, read online excerpts, or view (or embed) the Enchantment infographic.

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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You’re reading this post a week later than I originally tended. I couldn’t complete the first draft of this blog post for a very simple reason, I hadn’t organized what I wanted to say before I started writing!

As a result, last Sunday, I wasted a couple of valuable hours, missed an important deadline, and did a pretty good job of getting stressed out.

Don’t let this happen to you! Let me share some of the easy ways you can organize your ideas for articles, blog posts, books, and ebooks before you begin writing! Choose one of the options below, and make it a daily habit.

Taking the time to organize your ideas before you begin writing can spell the difference between writing a brand-building book or never getting published!

Organization and writing

Organization must precede writing. Organization provides a structure for your writing. Organization helps you “test drive” the sequence and relevance of your ideas.

Most important, organization eliminates uncertainty and promotes strong, concise writing that supports the message you want to share. Organization also helps keep you enthusiastic and motivated by making it easy for you to track your progress as you write.

Options for organizing your ideas

In a previous Author’s Journey blog post, How to Create a Content Plan for Your Book, I showed how I used mind mapping software to develop my latest book, #Book Title Tweet: 140 Bite-Sized Ideas for Compelling Article, Book, and Event Titles.

The mind map, above, represents the difference between last Sunday’s “f and f,” i.e., failed and frustrating, writing experience and today’s smooth and enjoyable writing experience.

Although I’ve written a lot about using mind mapping as a writing tool, including a 5-part blog series about creating a writing dashboard, you don’t have to use a mind mapping software program to organize your ideas before you begin to write.

Another advantage of mindmapping software is the ability to export your mind maps to your word processing program, which eliminates unnecessary typing.

10 other ways you can organize your ideas

In addition to mindmapping software, you can also organize your ideas using a variety of low-tech and software tools, including:

  1. Index cards. One of the classic “hands on” organizing techniques that authors have used for decades is to write important ideas and details by hand on index cards. The index cards are then displayed on the walls of your office, where you can easily add and delete cards and rearrange their order.
  2. Sticky notes. Another popular solution includes sticky notes, such as ©3M Post-it® notes, small squares of paper with an adhesive strip on the back that can be applied to walls or other surfaces. Advantages of this approach is that the small size of the notes encourages brevity, and different colored notes can be used to visually code the ideas.
  3. Folders. Yesterday, when I interviewed Joe Vitale, Published & Profitable’s latest author interview, Joe  described how he begins to organize new books by creating folders for each chapter, and placing print-outs or clippings in the right folders.
  4. MS Word lists. One of the easiest idea organizing techniques is to use Microsoft Word’s bulleted and numbered lists feature to flesh-out the contents of each chapter. Using lists, you can quickly drag and drop ideas into the right order and sequence. I’ve used lists to organize ideas since the earliest word processing software.
  5. MS Word tables. Microsoft Word’s table feature offers an even better, multi-column, tool for organizing book ideas into chapters and sections. You can add as much information and as many points to each topic as the tables will expand as you add content. After you’ve finished entering ideas, you can easily sort them. Worksheets created in Word can later be copied and pasted into the manuscript files for each chapter of your book.
  6. Worksheets. Before I enter text into Word tables, I often print out blank copies of the worksheets I’ve prepared for my book coaching clients, and fill them out by hand—often while watching television or while my wife is driving. In a computer age, there’s something really exciting about writing by hand. The next day, of course, I copy my handwritten ideas into Word worksheets, of course. Typing my handwritten notes the next day improves what I’ve written by giving me an opportunity for a quick edit.
  7. Spreadsheets. Many of my coaching clients who come from a corporate background use spreadsheet software, like Microsoft Excel, to organize their ideas. After many years of working with Excel, they’re so familiar with its capabilities that using it is second nature to them.
  8. PowerPoint. Another existing tool you can put to work as an organizing tool is PowerPoint. Instead of writing ideas on index cards or sticky notes, simply place each idea on separate slides. When you’re through, go to PowerPoint’s Slide Sorter view where you can drag and drop each slides into the proper location. Later, you might even print-out your presentation and use the slides to jot down additional ideas.
  9. Flip-charts/paper. If you’re working with a co-author, or a group of contributors located in the same room, consider brainstorming ideas and placing them on flip-charts or large sheets of paper. A recently published book, Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers, describes how to use flip-charts and sticky notes—together–to organize complex projects.
  10. White boards. White boards are yet another highly visual tool you can use to organize your ideas as you create a content plan for your book. Erasable white boards, hung on walls or placed on stands, make it easy to display the big ideas associated with your book, as you add supporting ideas. To learn more, I recommend David Sibbet’s Visual Meetings: How Graphics, Sticky Notes and Idea Mapping Can Transform Group Productivity.

Habit is more important than selection

Your choice of book organizing tool or technique is not as important as the consistency with which you use the tool. As you prepare the various writing projects you work on during the week, which probably includes articles, blog posts, proposals, and white papers, try out different tools.

When you find one that works, make it a habit! Commit to using it every day as part of your routine.

Remember the words of Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Les Hewitt in The Power of Focus, “Your daily habits determine your success!”

Other tips include saving your work when you’ve finished. You may be able to reuse some of the ideas that you considered including in your book, but decided not to include. In addition, try to use your organizing tool as a way of displaying progress on your project. For example, each time you finish writing about a topic, remove the index card from the wall or change the background color or text color.

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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When I am asked “Why do you write”, its usually followed by a “Everyone  knows most writers don’t make a living out of it. So, why would you do something like that?”

In answer to this,  the following quote by James Baldwin resonates with me.

“You write in order to change the world…. The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way people look at reality, then you can change it.” – James Baldwin

If you keep this in mind, you can sense the difference writers’ and authors’ tribe makes to this world. And in pursuing this passion, you come to a point, when you meet and interact with many people who are changing the world one article and one book at a time. Seth Godin says, “He writes because there is no better way to spread ideas”… I agree. So, if you look at this Tribe of authors you will see their commitment to spreading ideas, sharing ideas – like a free trade of exchange of ideas to shift the world view in a medium called “language” which is what separates human beings from animals.

When I wrote my eBook, PINk and Grow RICH, I was sharing the idea that ” RICH means different things to different people. Most successful people did not start with the motive to get rich. They were more interested in helping others”. And then it was a matter of time when I saw the power of sharing ideas through social media. I found an aspect of “creativity” and “community” that I did not know.

Creativity

This was brought forth for me by Roger C Parker, who shared his review on his popular blog leveraging social media to do so . His review focused on sharing ideas on content, design and picking a title – ideas exchange for those writing or considering to write an eBook.

Read below his post on content and design

Content & design tips for e-book success

Read below his post on choosing a title for your book

Choose a memorable book title before you begin to write your book

Community

This became visible with post from William Reed and an interview with Rajesh Setty. They became part of the community that helps you spread the ideas using social media.

Read below article by William Reed
Lessons in Leadership from Deepika

Read below interview with Raj Setty
Pink and Grow Rich; Interview with Deepika Bajaj

And their respective communities “Tweeted” and shared it with their communities. And I became part of a bigger community – a larger community powered by social media.

So, as a gift this holiday season, I am taking 40% off the price on my ebook (regularly priced at $9.95, now $5.99).

We all have people who give us material gifts, this season give an idea as a gift and become part of the larger community of folks who share your interests. Make this Holiday count for someone, who is not stepping up to his maximum potential Or someone who feels robbed of his dreams Or someone who thinks if he had more money, he would be happy….Get your copy now and gift it to as many people…and become an agent to spread the ideas.

DD-new-pic-headshot Contributed by Deepika Bajaj, President and Founder, Invincibelle, LLC and co-founder, ActiveGarage (the company behind 99tribes). Deepika is also the author of the book DiversityTweet: Embracing the growing diversity in our world and Pink and Grow Rich:11 Unreasonable Rules for Success You can follow Deepika on Twitter at invincibelle
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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.

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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