Posts Tagged ‘writing success cycle’

Now is the time for you to begin using video to market and sell your books and build your personal brand. Video is easier than ever. In fact, the cost of getting started has dropped to zero.

That’s right: free!

I’d like to show you can start building your online video presence today, even if you haven’t had any previous video experience!

What do you need to get started?

You probably already have what you need to get started. You need:

  • A Twitter username and password. The solution I’m recommending, Screenr.com, is based on your Twitter.com username and password. Screenr will automatically notify twitter each time you publish a video. After that, you can manually ReTweet your video on your blog and website. You can also embed the HTML code for the video.
  • Microphone. You’ll also need a microphone, or headset, connected to your computer. Headsets are better because they free your hands to advance the visuals. If you already use Skype, you’re all set.
  • Presentation software. I recommend using a presentation program like PowerPoint as the foundation of your initial videos. PowerPoint makes it easy to plan, illustrate, deliver your videos, pacing the delivery of your message.

You can, of course, use MindManager mind maps, or a desktop publishing to illustrate your points as you describe them.

What is Screenr?

Screenr.com is a web-based recorder integrated with a hosting platform and close ties with Twitter.com.

Screenr eliminates the need to:

  • Buy, download, and install new software
  • Learn new software
  • Choose a hosting platform
  • Upload files after recording
  • Manually create links to each video

Screenr is part of the Articulate Group, an established e-learning firm. Articulate publishes leading e-learning software. You may already be familiar with their Rapid E-learning Blog and their Articulate Word-of-mouth Blog.

What can you do with it?

As I see it, the most important tasks Screenr helps authors do for free is:

  • Build anticipation for your book as you write it, walking readers through your book’s table of contents as you discuss your goals
  • Preview the front and back covers of your book as soon as they are finalized, showing different options and discussing why you made the decisions you did.
  • Prepare for your book launch by sharing the details of your book launch with your marketing partners
  • Walk readers through each chapter, describing the goals of each chapter as well as previewing the illustrations and reader engagement tools, like exercises and questions, to help readers put your ideas to work

The number of ways you can use Screenr to promote your book is only limited by your imagination. You can also use Screenr to share audio and video testimonials from experts and readers. You can share new information as it becomes available. And, you can drive readers to your website and build your e-mail list by showing the bonus materials you offer to readers who register.

How do you use Screenr?

Start by visiting screenr.com and watching their 1-minute video. Then, register using your Twitter.com username and password. Screenr will verify and remember your Twitter information.

To begin your first recording, press the Record Your Screen Cast Now button. This takes you to the Screenr record screen, where you’ll be prompted to resize your screen to highlight just the portion of the screen you want to record. In my case, I set the recording screen to the size of my PowerPoint presentation, as shown in the picture.

When you’re ready, press the red Record button. When you’re finished, press the green Done button.

Screenr then takes you to the Publish Your Screencast page, where you can:

  • Preview your screencast
  • Describe your screencast in 117 characters, or less
  • Tweet! your screencast and add it to the screencasts displayed on Screenr
  • Delete your screencast, so you can start all over

What’s the most important thing to remember?

If you’re new to video, the biggest surprise you’re likely to experience is how quickly 3 or 4 minutes go by! Because time flies when creating a short- -i.e., 5-minute, or less- -video, you have to limit the number of ideas and points in your videos and you must limit the number of words used to address each point.

To master the power of conciseness, I encourage you to follow a 3-step process:

  • Step 1. Use PowerPoint to create a structure. Begin each video by creating a short PowerPoint presentations, like the one shown here, to storyboard, or organize, your ideas and provide a pacing tool for narrating each slide.
  • Step 2. Prepare a “script” for each presentation. Use your favorite word processing program to select the words to accompany each of the PowerPoint slides. The script is not for you to read word-for word during your video, but simply to drill the main ideas into your brain and guide your discussion of each point.
  • Step 3. Record, preview, delete, and re-record. Don’t expect to get it right the first time. You’ll probably require multiple takes to get it right, but, that’s OK. (That’s what Screenr’s delete button is for!) Do it again and again, each time eliminating a few ideas or unnecessary words, or replacing long words with short words. Pay attention to the elapsed time indicator as you record, if you find yourself spending too much time on a slide, do some editing!

Like so many of the other skills needed during your Author’s Journey, video success is a matter of doing it over and over again until it’s right. As you work, your comfort with this new medium will quickly advance.

My first video, for example, took me about five hours to prepare. My second video, however, took less than 3 hours! Most important, the more I work with Screenr, the less time I need. I need less and less time because I’m becoming better able to judge the number of words needed to accompany each slide.

Have you been putting off video until you “have the time?”

If you have, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to build your personal brand and sell more books. Screenr is not the only option, of course, and- -at some point- -you may select a more powerful video platform. But, right now, it offers you an easy way to get started creating an online video platform and building anticipation for your book without spending any money. Share your experiences with Screenr, or any other online video solution. Share your experiences and lessons-learned with other Active Garage readers as comments, below.

Visit my Active Garage Resource Center, where you can download the script I created for my second video, plus additional worksheets for previous Author Journey topics

In many ways, teleseminars are the ideal tool to launch your book to great success. Teleseminars make it easy and affordable for you to generate advance orders for your book, leading to a successful book launch.

Why teleseminars?

Here are some of the reasons teleseminars work so well for nonfiction authors:

  • Free. Let’s start with the obvious; most teleseminar services are free. Combine this with the “free market” opportunities of e-mail and social marketing (blogs, Twitter, etc.) and you have a dynamite marketing tool that far surpasses the free tools available to authors in previous decades.
  • Easy. Teleseminars are easy to prepare and deliver. All you need to do is prepare a simple outline, or mind map, or outline, of the topics you want to discuss.
  • Personal. Teleseminars build enthusiasm and early “buy in” for the launch of your book. Teleseminars not only build familiarity and trust, but listening to you discuss your book as you write creates a community that wants to see your book succeed.
  • Pre-publication testimonials. Discussing and sharing drafts of your upcoming book with teleseminar attendees will inevitably lead to live and e-mailed pre-publication quotes which you can use on your website and for promoting your book.

But, perhaps the most important benefit of a teleseminar series about your book is the opportunities they offer for pre-selling copies of your book before it appears.

Advance sales

There are two benefits of advance sales. If you’re self-publishing, advance sales can generate cashflow before your book appears. To benefit from advance sales, you’ll want to create a meaningful incentive- -beyond just a pre-publication discount- -such as audio copies or transcripts of your calls, or PDF copies of bonus content, such as special reports or worksheets.

Advance sales are equally important if your book is being published by a trade publisher for bookstore distribution. Bookstores pay careful attention to advance orders; titles with strong advance sales on Amazon.com and other online retailers. Bookstores will view advance orders as evidence of strong market interest in your book, increasing the likelihood they will increase their initial orders.

In addition, evidence of strong advance sales might also free up some additional marketing support from trade publishers.

Promoting your teleseminars

Promoting your teleseminar series is easier today than ever before.  Today’s authors have access to a wide selection of free, online, marketing tools that will make it easy for you to promote your teleseminars.

You’re probably already using most of the tools, such as:

  1. E-mail marketing
  2. Blogging and guest blogging
  3. Social media, like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn
  4. Online press releases

Your ability to manage your time is an important predictor of teleseminar success. Success comes from promoting your teleseminars the same way you use tools like a Google Calendar to schedule your writing time. Successful authors view their writing time as time commitments, or appointments, they make with themselves. A couple of 30-minute sessions each week should be enough to use e-mail and the Internet to promote your teleseminars and promote the launch of your book.

Teleseminar Planning

Preparing for your teleseminars

Most authors find teleseminars easy to prepare, since it is often easier to talk about a topic than it is to write about it.

There’s no reason to “script” your teleseminar, as this will inevitably cause you to speak in a “reading” voice. Instead, prepare an outline, or a mind map (download sample), that displays the topics you want to cover, and in what order.

Avoid sentences when planning teleseminar content

Resist the urge to include full “subject, verb, noun” sentences in your outlines or mind maps!

Instead, simply list the keywords, or phrases, you want to cover. Include enough information to jog your memory, and keep you on track, but keep your notes as short as possible. This will result in a much more lively teleseminar for both you and your attendees.

After all, your teleseminar attendees are adults; they’re not children who want you to read to them, they want to hear your talk about your upcoming book, and be able to comment and ask you questions!

Presentation tips

Here are a few teleseminar tips that have helped me over the years:

  • ŸMuting. Always mute your callers to avoid distractions like vacuum cleaners, dogs barking, background conversations, or- -worst of all- -answering machines.
  • Beginning. Always begin by describing the relevance of the information you’re about to share, and how it aligns with your book and your market’s information needs.
  • Middle. Don’t try to tell everything about your book in a single teleseminar. Instead, focus each teleseminar on a single chapter, or topic, covered in your book. Limit teleseminar content to 3 main ideas, followed by a short bullet list of tips. Avoid spending too much time on any one point.
  • Question & Answers. Never end your teleseminar with a request for comments and questions. If callers don’t respond, your disappointment and discomfort will be obvious, and it will sap the energy of everyone on your call. Instead, open the lines with an invitation for questions and comments well before the end of your call.
  • Resist the urge to panic when callers don’t immediately respond. No one wants to be the first caller to comment or ask a question. Give them time to respond. Once the first caller asks a question or comments, the others will follow.
  • Conclusion/call to action. End your call with a summary of the important points, and a call to action. Your call to action can be an invitation to pre-order your book, or you can direct callers to a landing page where they can download a bonus PDF and learn more about you- -or take advantage of your latest offer.

Teleseminar frequency

As in so many other aspects of marketing, success rarely comes from an individual teleseminar; instead, success typically is the result of a series of teleseminars that build on each other and reinforce each other.

It’s up to you to decide how far ahead of your book’s launch you want to begin your teleseminars. There’s nothing wrong with committing to a pre-publication teleseminar series to launch your book the day you sign your publishing contract or the day you begin writing your book. However, once you commit to a teleseminar series to promote your book and attract pre-publication sales, set up a schedule of events at consistent intervals. The commitment of a scheduled teleseminar series will ensure the success of your book launch promotion.

Visit Roger C. Parker’s Active Garage resource center, where you can download mindmaps and resources available only to Author Journey readers. (No registration required)

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.