June 27, 2013

Avoid That Fail: The Top 5 Things to do to Make Sure Your Book Fails

Guest Blog by Peter Winick

I figured there are plenty of “experts” out there both online and off that will tell you everything you need to do to ensure that your book is a huge success, so I thought I would share with you the 5 things I’ve learned that will make sure your book is a failure.

This might be helpful because with all of the information readily available somehow the average business book still sells less than 2,000 units so something is clearly not working in the current marketplace.

1) Don’t define what success looks like.

Whether it’s hitting the best-seller list, getting exposure for yourself or your brand, engaging people that will follow you in the future, driving sales of a specific offering, don’t think of those things upfront — they are difficult decisions and it will all just “work itself out” once the book is released. You’ll know what success looks like when you get there.

2) Don’t ask for help from anyone.

Let’s face it — your friends and family are busy and your clients have full schedules so it doesn’t make much sense to bother anyone and ask them to help you get the word or message out. After all, most of us are too shy, it’s somewhat awkward and if we can avoid asking for help we certainly should. Most books become incredibly successful by a combination of luck, fate and serendipity.

3) Spend as much time as possible on the cover.

You can never have too many versions of the cover to pick from. 30? 40?  I’d say at least 100. Ask everyone around you for months on end to give you their input (but don’t waste time asking an expert — your friends and colleagues certainly know best). It clearly makes perfect sense given that you’ve spent a year or more of your life writing the book…it’s all about the cover.

4) The publisher knows best.

Never argue with the publisher, after all, they publish hundreds of books a year and your book is obviously the one they care the most about. They know your content better than you and the 23 year old “Assistant to the Assistant of the Junior Director of Marketing” that they will assign to market your book clearly knows what she’s doing. She’s been there for almost three months and can follow their “marketing” template fairly well, plus she read a lot books in college. You’re in good hands.

5) The web and social media are a fad.

As an author you just need to know how to write a good book. The web, LinkedIn and Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are all for kids and they probably won’t be around that much longer. Book buyers obviously go to the book store to buy books, they aren’t wasting their time online so neither should you.

Visit Peter's website at http://thoughtleadershipleverage.com

June 20, 2013

First In Wins. The Time is NOW!

The best time to write a book? NOW!

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

The immortal opening line of Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities could apply to today in terms of writing a book. In so many ways, with the rise of the internet and self-publishing, this is the best time to be an author.

Sure, I may be prejudiced in this regard, but I believe this really is the best time to write a book.

Why? Start with the fact that it’s never been easier to write a book. Computers and word processors offer an ease of use previously undreamed of, complete with spell-check, grammar-check, plot-check, and many other options.

Not only that, but the internet has opened up new avenues for authors seeking easy access to information about their field of interest and gain expertise in the subject.

Author, blogger and media whiz Guy Kawasaki says things have changed so much today, anyone with a good idea and skills can write a compelling book.

“Say you’re a science fiction  writer,” he said. “You can position yourself as an expert in science.”

How? First, you have easy access to research. Whether it’s black holes or advanced chemistry or biological or geological processes, you can find article after article that explains how things work and add to your knowledge.

Then, Kawasaki says creating an online presence that showcases your expertise and gains you an audience is easy. You can create a website, reach out to others through social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, develop your voice on a blog.

From there you can post relevant pieces and links to other posts and articles, and invite comments from others. “Curate great leads that position you as an expert,” said Kawasaki.

People will gradually begin following the posts, and eventually come to see you as not only an expert, but as someone they feel indebted to for helping them advance their interests.

Kawasaki says this last part is something that is often overlooked.

“I call it the NPR model,” Kawasaki said, referring to National Public Radio. “It’s okay for them to run a telethon and ask for money. I’m indebted to them because of the great education I get from their stories.

“If Terry Gross (host of the popular NPR program Fresh Air) wrote a book, I’d buy it.”

It’s also easier than ever to publish a book. Think back to before Gutenberg invented the printing press. You could write on a scroll or vellum, that is, if you were very, very careful (no erasers) and had outstanding handwriting. And if you could afford the cost. And if you knew how to write. And even if all those applied, there wasn’t much of an audience. Not a lot of incentive.

Move up a few hundred years, and while the population was much more literate, there were still obstacles in the way of writing an actual book. Even in the late 20th century, you were still at the mercy of a publishing industry that was motivated totally by profit. Unless someone was convinced your book had the potential to make the company money, you were out of luck.

And even if you were able to convince a company to publish your book, your troubles were far from over. Headaches could include everything from company-imposed deadlines to printing delays. You – the author – would typically have little say over book and cover design. And as for marketing efforts, you were still at the mercy of the publisher.

Compare that to today. With all the self-publishing tools that are available, it’s possible to go from finished manuscript to publication in as little as 48 hours. E-books and print-on-demand make it possible for an author to hit the best-seller lists far quicker than ever before.

The internet also has given writers easy access to editors, a key consideration for anyone writing a book, but especially for someone looking to self-publish (and especially, especially a first-time writer looking to self-publish). You also have at your fingertips a myriad of designers. There are more print and selling options available than ever before.

So back to that opening quote. It’s the best of times, but is it also the worst of times for someone looking to write a book? If they don’t have something compelling to say, if they don’t seek out professional assistance from editors and designers, if they don’t take advantage of the marketing and public relations tools available, then, well, yes.

But that’s why we’re here: To help guide you and provide the assistance you need to write that interesting, engaging, and, ultimately, successful book.

June 6, 2013

You’re a writer. So can you write a book?

You’re a writer. So can you write a book?

You can, as long as you develop and maintain your motivation. As an example, look at the bloggers who have become successful authors.

Pamela Slim writes a blog called Escape From Cubicle Nation. It tells readers how to start their own businesses and leave their cubicles behind.

She told Mashable that she considers a book a challenge and an opportunity, a way to drive more business to your blog and business.

“As much as blogging feels important, it is brief and fleeting. You can crank out a killer post that gets tons of attention, but then it fades away,” she told Mashable.

“A book … forces you to string together a whole bunch of different ideas into a cohesive story. On the business side, there is no denying that having a published book opens doors. It is much easier to get traditional press coverage, and speaking gigs. People often assume that you are a ‘real writer’ when you have a book, even if you have been writing for years on a blog.”

She’s certainly not alone. In the same piece on Mashable, Walker Lamond, who writes a blog on things to tell his unborn son to help him grow into a responsible adult, says going from blogging to writing is worth the effort. “It is still the simplest and most lucrative way to monetize your work,” he said.

Then there’s Julie Powell. The onetime government bureaucrat took on the challenge of cooking every single recipe in Julia Child’s landmark book Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Along the way, she began blogging about the experience, resulting in numerous articles about her and her blog. Then came the book, which sold beyond anyone’s expectations, including hers. It was followed by the movie Julie and Julia, starring Amy Adams and Meryl Streep.

But it’s not always an easy step. For every 100 ideas, perhaps one actually gets written. That’s why you need the determination, the stick-to-it-ivness to turn the idea of the day into a series of ideas that will stand the test of time.

Those who have managed to do so, like the above examples, have had the motivation to follow through on the commitment, even though writing a book doesn’t offer the immediacy or the immediate feedback of a blog.