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Sometimes the idea of writing is easier than actually doing it. Commonly referred to as ‘writer’s block’ nearly any one who’s written, or attempted to write, has encountered this inconvenient phenomenon. So, what do you do when you’ve ran smack dab into the middle of the wall? You turn seek out other places to jump charge your creativity. The best place to look is also one of the most accessible – the internet. Here are a few areas worth exploring when you find yourself at a loss for words.
With millions of blogs already in existence and thousands of new ones popping up daily, you’re bound to find some interesting perspective to kick start your engine. Head over to Google and start searching for blogs with a few choice keywords to see what you get. Don’t feel overwhelmed or think that you need to read each and every blog or post that surfaces. Instead, do some skimming and when a headline or sentence grabs your attention, dive in for the details.
One of the most overlooked repositories for excellent and inspiring nuggets, forums exist on nearly every topic and subject that you can imagine. They’ve very simple to search and quickly scannable. Find one that strikes your fancy and dig around a little to see what people are talking about, sharing or weighing-in on.
Beyond YouTube there are plenty of other video hosting sites like Vimeo and Blip.tv. Videos are power sources for great content that stimulates multiple senses and sometimes that all you need to get going.
Not only is this one of the most popular social media bookmarking sites, but it’s also a hot bed of resources and saved blog posts, articles, headlines and URLs that can easily be scoured to spark an idea or two. You can search by keyword or user and you also can see how many other people are bookmarking the same topic. This makes it effortless to identify trends, as well as duds.
If you’re having a hard time trying to find motivation, take a look at what’s happening online. Happy hunting.
When it comes to promoting your book using public relations as a platform to extend your reach is a solid way to go. One of the most simple ways to generate buzz and create awareness is through book reviews. By developing a list of media outlets and key influencers you can appeal to targeted journalists and bloggers that have the ability to offer insight and feedback to others about your newly published body of work. Here’s how you can get started.
Begin by building a customized list of potential contacts. The recipients should be a blend of general and well-known book critics, as well as off-the-beaten-path reviewers that are more prone to reading and writing about niche authors. Beyond building a database of reviewers consider including bookstore owners/buyers, trade associations and specialty stores too.
Good places to look for contacts are the National Book Critics Circle and BookMarket.com’s list of review editors. You can tailor your list of well-known reviewers and also dig around on the net for some of the lesser known critics to fill in any gaps on your list.
Send out a letter, or email, of introduction that briefly describes who you are and what you book is about. Like most book-related correspondence don’t forget to include a hook that will entice the recipient to yearn for more. Explain how they can receive a complimentary copy of your book and about how long it will take for the shipment to arrive. Some outlets will only review galley copies, or early manuscripts that have yet to be edited. Be prepared to accommodate these requests if necessary.
Another group that can be tapped to solicit reviews from are the mentions within the book itself. If your book talks about companies, businesses, locations or specific people you can reach out to them and let them know that you’ve created free PR and would appreciate reciprocation. Use this opportunity as part of your PR efforts and to generate backlinks to your online book page.
Since it’s often difficult to know who’s reviewing and what they’re saying about your book, youo’ll want to use Google Alerts to set-up notifications based on chosen keywords. This will help you monitor links and coverage about your book so that you can collect and use as testimonial and reference on your book’s website.
All good writers should have a blog. It gives you an outlet to provide real time updates on events ad happenings and it can be a platform that you use to position yourself as someone who’s an author and a resource that others can count on for credible information. Now if you want to give your blog a major traffic boost you should consider guest blogging. By following these guest blogging tips you’ll have a better chance at landing a guest blog spot.
1. Know the Blog
Don’t pick a blog with the most readers and then hit up the blogger with a request to guest post. Guest blog for one that you read regularly and follow yourself. Consider what it is about the blog that you like and what draws others to it.
2. Understand the Owner
Ask about guest blogging policies and find out who has guest blogged in the past. The more you know the easier it will be to create content that’s on par with what the readers want to hear about with your own special twist.
3. Stick to Your Deadline
Seriously, enough said.
4. Proofread Again, Again & Again
We’re all prone to errors and let’s face it, SpellCheck only catches so much. Do a thorough proofreading and read through for error-free submission.
5. Post Linking
This doesn’t mean linking to your blog, but instead linking to relevant posts on your guest blog. This demonstrates your familiarity with the blog and shows that you’re a fan and reader yourself.
6. Promote Your Post
Let everyone know that you’re guest blogging. Use your available social media tools to get the word out with links, tweets and status updates.
7. Visual Appeal
Take the time to find good graphics and imagery to make your guest blog post a stand out. It shows you care and that you’re willing to go the extra step.
8. Use SEO
Optimize your guest post. The goal is to make it easier to find on search engines and if that happens, readers will see that you’re the genius behind the writing. Good publicity for you.
9. Add Value
Truly focus on adding value to the guest blog. Remove the ‘all about me’ factor and make your post the absolute best that it can be.
10. Sell Yourself
Work out the details on linking back to your own blog and including a snappy byline so that readers know about you and how to find you.
If you think runners on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange have it rough think again. The book writing and selling and realm is one of the most competitive industries around. Staying abreast of what’s moving off the shelves and what’s getting picked up by publishers can help you increase the likelihood that your own creation won’t become a stalemate.
To learn more about what books are selling and what books aren’t sign-up for the Publisher’s Lunch at publishersmarketplace.com. You’ll receive a weekly recap of the previous week’s top book deals which provides some great insight into what genres are gaining traction. You can use this to focus your own strategy before you put a pen to paper or fingers to a keyboard.
Another break in technology that seems to be gaining momentum is the use of digital autographs. By using a services like Long Pen, authors can virtually sign their books for fans and cut costs associated with travel and touring for book signings. Award-winning author Margaret Atwood has employed and utilized Long Pen with great success. For more information visit Syngraffi.com.
There are many outlets that are beginning to use on demand print options like the Espresso Book Machine (EBM). The equipment allows businesses to print as needed and when requested which is a huge cost saver compared to traditional book publication methods. This technology is available throughout the United States at select libraries and book stores and is anticipated to become more widely available as others integrate EBM into their list of services. A complete list of EBM publishers can be found at ondemandbooks.com.
Access online communities for authors like Redroom and BookTalk and visit the forums to learn more about how other authors and readers are discovering trends and innovative ways to market and publish their books.
If you’re thinking about going the book or author promotion on your own you might want to think about what some of the causes are for ineffective marketing. There are many resources available that will tell you all of the right things to do, but there are only a handful that highlight what not to do. Before you begin launching your strategy take a quick moment to read up on what can potentially hinder your success.
Not Knowing Your Audience & Your Budget
Marketing your book or yourself isn’t a hobby and it’s not something that just ‘add water’ to and then sit back and watch the magic. You need to have an understanding of who your target market is and what type of funding you have available to reach them. If you don’t determine where your audience is it will be difficult to know how to allocate dollars and create a spend forecast with enough longevity to make an impact with them.
Lack of Ambition & Commitment
As mentioned earlier marketing your novel and yourself means that you must be prepared to work and work hard. Many authors and speakers fail to register as a blip on the radar because they aren’t stepping up and building relationships, setting up meetings, scheduling events and initiating the activity necessary to generate interest and awareness about their product.
Inability to Understand The Process
Despite having immediate access to the internet and countless free tools, many folks still struggle with how to utilize them properly. It’s one thing to set-up a Facebook Page for you or your book and it’s an entirely different thing to know how to work the Page to your advantage. There are many different communication tactics, as well as applications that need to be executed with thought and purpose. In doing this, you’ll reap bigger and better rewards by connecting with your audience.
Not everyone has the time or the skills required to build out a strategy and maintain, or adjust, it on a constant basis, not to mention measure its outcomes. It can be an overwhelming process for anyone who’s new to the game. Fortunately, professional resources, like Leili McKinley, can help alleviate the burden and provide you with outstanding results.
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One of the most challenging parts of writing your first, or ninth, novel is trying to come up with an idea. For anyone who’s made an attempt at pulling together a background or concept for a book you know what a headache the process can be. Whether you’re a novice or a professional, nearly every writer struggles with overcoming many of the same hurdles. Follow the steps below to help begin the process.
1. Write It Down
Organize your ideas by using mind mapping tools and idea clouds. By writing everything out you’ll begin to see how connections can be formed and you might discover a few new angles too.
2. Outline The Content
Once you’ve decided how your ideas will be pulled together, organize them. This means transitioning from the free thought approach that you took in step one. Use the outline to illustrate logical steps that will take you as a writer and also the reader from the beginning to the middle to the end of your book.
3. Edit, Edit & Edit
Actual writing is a wonderful thing. You’ll feel elated as you begin to see the pages accumulate in your manuscript. However, as proud as you may be it’s important to take a step back and include unbiased individuals in the review process. Use a professional editor or a trusted (and experienced) member of your target audience to flesh out inconsistencies and errors.
4. Print & Publish
Once you’re satisfied with your final creation it’s time for printing and publishing. Depending on what route you’ve chosen to take, you may be working with a literary agent, a traditional publishing house or perhaps you’ve decided to self-publish or explore print on demand options. Whichever path you choose you’ll need to weave in how you’ll distribute, sell and market your book.
Undoubtedly there will be hiccups and mishaps along the way, but remember to stay strong and be persistent. Positive thinking and enthusiasm are instrumental in the process and in reaching your final book goals.
For an author, using email, social media, the web and traditional broadcast outlets are all fantastic ways to get the word out about your book. Beyond the previously mentioned mediums one that is often overlooked is speaking. Perhaps its because most people are intimidated by public speaking, after all, it can be daunting to get up in front of crowd and then start talking about yourself or your brand.
On the other hand, public speaking carries a great deal of clout because it allows people to get a true sense of who’s behind the book and how an author has pulled together concept, characters and plot. If you’re heart palpitates and your skin prickles at the very thought speaking then read on for some tips on overcoming the fear.
Before you step out in front of a hundred pairs of eyes, give yourself a game plan. Build an outline and break down what you want to say into small chunks. Share a brief introduction on you and your background, talk about other books you’ve published and then give a brief synopsis of your latest endeavor. Focus on a particular aspect of your book and share some hidden nuggets that readers would be intrigued to know. Planning ahead will give you the confidence to speak.
Be The Expert
People want someone who’s genuine so speak from your heart. Take a deep breath and go with your gut. Keep this in mind, your audience is there because they value what you’ve created ad see you as a leader. Be authentic in your delivery and feel confident about your topic and you audience will embrace what you have to say.
Respond To The Audience
Once you begin speaking it will be easy to gauge the mood and energy level of your audience. Spice things up with an anecdotal story, voice inflection and even body language to keep people engaged with you. Standing in one spot and speaking softly in a monotone voice won’t win you any new fans. Be your own cheerleader and inspire your readers.
Make A Sale
As you’re concluding your speaking engagement don’t forget to let your audience know where you’ll be for upcoming book signings and most importantly, let them know that you’ve brought plenty of inventory with you as well. Offer to autograph copies and you’re sure to be a hit.
Whether you’re laying out the plot for your next novel or planning for an upcoming speaking engagement, developing a natural flow of ideas and communication can be cumbersome. Many authors and speakers utilize mind mapping software to help them create connections in an illustrative format. Mind mapping software allows users to take the process of brainstorming from a simple thought and putting together in a well-organized system.
One of the more popular programs is MatchWare’s MindView. It’s available for both Windows and Mac and you have the option of trying before buying with a free trial or signing-up for a live demo to see the capabilities that it has to offer. MindView integrates seamlessly with Micrsoft Office Suite products, which offers additional opportunities to organize your project notes about characters and settings or detail transitions between various seminar topics. Take it for a spin to get a feel for how it works.
Next up is MindGenius. What makes MindGenius unique is that has an array of export features so that users can send data to other applications, including PDF formats. A free 30-day trial is available so that you can experience the product first hand. Compared to other mind mapping programs, MindGenius has some excellent graphic functions that support images and it showcases ideas, priorities and actions in a well-organized manner. If you’re writing something complex this might be a tool worth exploring.
Whereas the previous two tools are desktop applications, MindMeister is web-based. This offers several advantages to users. First, you can determine the level of use and features that you’ll need and then choose from an appropriate payment model. Second, you have the ability to access your files from any computer in the world, as long as you’re able to connect to the web. Last, if you’re collaborating with more than one person on a book or an upcoming speaking event, everyone can login and contribute to the development process.
Although mind mapping tools are often associated with business development, they can easily be used to pull assemble ideas for other projects.
Squidoo is an excellent and free way to promote yourself as an author, as well as the books that you’ve written. Create by Seth Godin in 2005, Squidoo is a social community that allows users to build lenses, or single online pages, to showcase a particular subject. Squidoo is like having a one-page website that will share images, links and other details on just about anything that you can think that’s worth promoting.
Getting started is easy. Sign-up for a free account and you’re off to the races. Squidoo recognizes that the majority of its audience aren’t tech-savvy and a simple content management system has been implemented to walk you through the ‘lens’ set-up process. If you’re new to the community, it might be in your best interest to take a look at other lenses to get a sense on how they’re used and built. This will make it easier to determine how to create our own.
So, what’s the point of having a Squidoo lens? First, Google loves Squidoo and values it as a highly credible source of content and information. This means that even if your personal website is buried somewhere on page 25 of the Google search engine results pages, you still have an opportunity to nab a piece of the limelight via Squidoo. Most lenses appear in the top 10 of Google searches and that’s a great thing for those of us who are just starting out.
You can build a Squidoo lens for each one of your books and even for yourself and then link them altogether for a collection of lenses that are all about your body of work and expertise. Pretty snazzy. Many authors feature downloadable ebooks, upcoming book signings, future speaking events and other details about where they’ll be and what they’re doing. You can even use your lens to help drive traffic back to your blog and website.
There are plenty of Squidoo resources available to help you get things going. The best sources tend to be from the Squidoo lensmasters themselves. Explore and enjoy.