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Open Book: 3 Great Reasons for an Unpublished Novelist to Blog

August 22, 2011 1 comment

People blog for many reasons, but for the unpublished novelist, blogging is a no brainer.

I can’t remember which self-help guru wrote that if you want to be a novelist, you have to do what novelist do. If you imitate the behaviors of novelist, you will one day be that novelist.  One of the behaviors all published authors seem to share is blogging.  Here are the three great reasons why you need to start if you haven’t already.

1.  Name Recognition – Your friends and family might know you are a budding novelist, but you will need a few more thousand book buyers when your novel is finished. Establishing a platform before your first book comes out will give your book a sales foundation.

2.  Expertise – Blogging is a wonderful way of validating your writing through your expertise.  For example, say that your novel is about a mother of a young boy who joins the Confederate army and is wounded inAntietam.  What if you blog about the Civil War?  What if you create a following of historians with your historical interpretations, suggested readings, and new findings about the topic?  Couldn’t you see yourself having a dialogue with some of your followers?  Wouldn’t it be great if your loyal followers retweeted your blog to their loyal followers? This is called viral marketing.

Your Civil War expertise gives your readers the confidence that you will be able to tell a Civil War story with confidence.

3.  Website, Blogging and Marketing – You can shamelessly promote your first novel on your website.  You can blog about it.  You can hop on related websites and leave a link to your new book to increase more widespread viewing and inevitably sales.

Today, a website is equivalent to yesterday’s business card.  However, unlike the painful process of handing business cards out one at a time, now you can reach thousands of people from all corners of the globe in a few minutes.

 Your website will reveal much more about you than merely the standard business card contact information.  From the tone, the style, and the format, your personality will emerge.  The viewer, a complete stranger, might make an intellectual (and sometimes an emotional, depending on how open you are about your personal life) connection with you.  This translates naturally into greater book sales.

And for the website, blogging keeps your site fresh.  If you understand your audience, you can select topics that you know that will keep them coming back.

It might be prudent to keep in mind that even though your candor or attempts at humor might increase your click rate, the energy expended in placating someone else’s bruised ego means less time working on your novel. You just don’t know how your life will move forward with an angry mother —or worse yet, an angry mother-in-law.  So, innocuous storytelling can have consequences.

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10 Ways to Build Your Writer's Platform

January 3, 2010 Leave a comment

1. Create your website.  This is your calling card, your business card.  It is evidence to the world that you are committed to writing.  Obviously, you do not have to wait until your published to start a website.  You should begin NOW.  It will take time, especially if you haven’t created one before. A website will establish a following, so that when you get your first book published, you can announce its birth!

2. Blog or write for an established website.  There are websites out there that pay you (minimally, of course. Common now, you have to earn the title of a starving artist.).  Check out Suite 101 or About.com.  This provides an income stream and exposure.

3. Capitalize on your niche.  Pick a theme or specialty and wrap your writing, your website, your promotions around that theme.  For example, if I am a dog lover and all my writing should be about dogs — my website, blogs, newsletters. etc.

4. Give talks about your specialty.  Many of us like to talk about writing, because that is what we do.  Be kind to your target audience.  Only writers like to hear about writing. For all the rest of the world, it is a snore.  That is why you build up your exposure talking about Not What You Do necessarily, but WHAT YOU KNOW.  People flock to topics on how to solve or resolve their dilemmas.  If you are writing fictional mystery stories, then maybe your talks will revolve around weapons.  Or say you are a romance writer, then your talk might be about the pros and cons or comparisons between online dating services such as eharmony.com, match.com, or chemistry.com.

5. Print up business cards.  These are handy and more professional than writing your telephone number or email address on a scrap of paper.

6. Offer a product.  Let’s say your book is about dogs.  What about selling t-shirts promoting you, your book, or dogs online?

7. Participate in online communities and forums.  Focus on building your writing platform by offering thoughtful comments and helpful information.  If possible, leave your website address under your name after your contribution.

8. Sell or donate articles or parts of your book to magazines and newspapers.  Writing for free can be a great way to getting noticed.  Remember to leave your email address or website address, if you can. At the very least get that byline.

9. Offer to teach classes or hold your own workshop.  You get some money for your efforts, while building your exposure.

10.  Depending on your niche and topic, get an organization to commit to buying 100 copies of your book.  Include that letter of commitment with your book proposal.  For example, if you wrote an inspirational story about a sales person.  Might not any large company like IBM think this would be a great book for their sales training…or to inspire new employees?

One word of caution.  All these suggestions will take time to implement.  And once implemented, you will have very little time for what you really want to do…and that is write.  So, guard your time wisely.  Think out your game plan…get your family to help…then, put it into ACTION.

Mini Cards – A Great Promotional Idea

September 21, 2009 Leave a comment

Are you looking for a business card that will make you stand out?  Why don’t you take a look at the mini card?

Although smaller than the typical business card, www.moo.com offers every opportunity to help you create cards that stand out.  The site is simple to navigate and execute a design.  www.usa.moo.com allows you to use your own images to create a simple, but very effective marketing tool.  You are allowed to write text or put an image in the front and write up to six lines on the back.   Templates can help the more graphically challenged.

Best of all you can mix and match to the quantity you desire without an extra charge.

Make Text CardsUpload Your Images

Since we are all writers, what is the best way to promote the birth of a new book?   I can visualize  you putting a cliff hanger of a question on the front and on the back the name  of the book, your name, and your contact information.

Best of all, you can write or use up to 100 different images or text if you order 100 cards.

Pricing is very reasonable.  If you buy400 cards at a price of nearly $80, it comes to about $.20 a card.  100 cards cost as little as $19.99.

I have not had the chance to order some for myself.  However, if you should order them before I get a chance, let me know how you like them.

The vendor has suggested a number of ways to use these cards.  Peruse the site and good luck.

LinkedIn.com: Social Networking in a New Box

September 1, 2008 Leave a comment

LinkedIn.com is a fast growing professional social networking site that allows members to create business contacts, search for jobs, and find potential clients.   Members can create a profile that can be viewed by others within their network.  LinkedIn is a free business social networking site that allows users who register to create a professional profile visible to others. 

With over 24 million linkedin users, it is an incredibly effective way to develop an extensive list of contacts rather quickly.  Your network consists of your own connections, your connections’ connections (2nd degree) and your 2nd degree connections’ connections (3rd degree).   From these contacts, you learn of job and business opportunities.  The LinkedIn Answers allows people to post business-related questions.  Responses come from LinkedIn members.

Like anything else, you will have to put some time into developing the information for your profile and inviting contacts to join your network.  I’m not sure how many people really work the network to its full potential, but it is always nice to know that in case your memory starts to slip (too many faces and names over time), you just have to browse your contacts to jog your memory.

LinkedIn also provides you with an instant way of connecting with everyone when you have an important announcement to make such as your fourth father-in-law’s brother is Lee Iacocca.

Be aware that competitors also view these profiles.  Headhunters can snatch up your best employees.  I have noticed that people feel obligated to respond to invitations and asking for recommendations might be akin to begging.  This can be a bit off putting to some.

For writers, start your network on www.linkedin.com and be in position to do viral marketing when your first book is published.