Good communication is all about clarity. In 2010 U.S. 1 published several articles that made that point loud and clear.
#b#Say Good-bye To Technobabble#/b#
Angel investors and venture capitalists value focus, as well as great business ideas, says Bob Baker, owner of Copy to Go in Hillsborough. “You need to rid your business plans, summaries, and your presentations of the phrases that cause funders to cringe and clutch their checkbooks rather than open them.”
Avoid acronyms — except one. There is one acronym Baker suggests every entrepreneur remember: KISS — keep it simple, stupid.
“If every other word that comes out of your mouth is an acronym, you may as well be speaking ancient Greek,” he adds. Baker realizes that often a presentation cannot be made without using some technical terms, but if you must use them, make sure you explain them.
#b#Examples and illustrations are helpful#/b#. “Don’t just say, ‘One part per billion,’ explain that it is ‘like finding two drops of alcohol in the middle of Lake Erie.’ That’s something that everyone can relate to.”
#b#Talk about results, not processes#/b#. Investors don’t care if you are talking about 10 nanometers or 100 nanometers. They are interested in the benefits,” says Baker. What will the process do for your customers that no one else can do or that no one else can do better or less expensively? How much money do you need? — What do you plan to do with the money? How much return can I expect on my investment? These are questions investors want answered.
#b#No Boring PowerPoint slides, ever#/b#. “I’ve seen too many people put up a slide with 100 words of text on it,” he says. “That’s not readable. Simplify it. Put up one sentence, or better yet, a graphic. Remember: one slide, one sentence.”
#b#Bring only what is asked for#/b#. Baker remembers an entrepreneur who came to a presentation with 28 pages of material. The only problem was that he had been asked to bring two. Investors, particularly at pitch events, see dozens of presentations in a day, and they aren’t interested in reading through pages of material to find the few paragraphs they are interested in.
Don’t be so enamored with your technology that you forget the basics. “If you can explain it in such a way that not only will your grandmother understand it, she’ll be able to explain it to her friends and they understand it; then you’ve succeeded.”
— Karen Hodges Miller,
Reprinted from the November 10, 2010, issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper
#b#Getting Publicity — No Magic Required#/b#
Tom Ewing, director of external relations at Educational Testing Service, explains how your belabored press release may get cut successively smaller by editors, advertising needs, or to make room for other stories.
Yet if it is well written, it can still be restored to an effective message. You hope.
Graduating with a bachelor’s in electronic journalism from Indiana State, Ewing entered radio, producing his local news show just before the talk show of his college classmate, David Letterman.
After five years of much work and little remuneration, Ewing enrolled in Ball State University, seeking a public relations master’s. Amid his first classes, he made a contact, and with a twist of talent and circumstance, became the point man for the lieutenant governor of Indiana. Then, following a three-year stint providing public relations services for All State Insurance, Ewing came east to ETS where he has spent the last 27 years.
#b#Promoting your assets#/b#. “ETS has been blessed,” says Ewing “by having a product in which the press is naturally interested.” However, even newly launched companies should, with a little self-examination, find several areas in which their expertise is worth noting and quoting in the media. A good public relations professional will find these proficiency fields and set about making others aware of them.
#b#Scope your audience#/b#. The most effective way to get news received is to deliver it straight to the source. Call the reporter, introduce yourself, and let him know that any time he needs a quote or expertise on certain subjects, he may call on you. Send him your contact info. “This way, you are setting yourself up as a resource,” says Ewing. “You are giving this busy editor a thing he needs, rather than pushing your interests into his face.”
#b#To release or not#/b#. “Press releases are very much to be valued,” says Ewing. “But in this 24/7 electronic news cycle, their use has changed.” Incessant search engines are pouncing on today’s buzz words — words that will be eclipsed by the following morning. If your company has a steady stream of press releases spread out widely, Ewing explains, your odds of hitting this news-need roulette are much greater.
“At the same time,” he says, “you want a short list of journalists — individuals to whom you send custom tailored releases, and follow up with a phone call.”
— Bart Jackson,
Reprinted from the February 24, 2010, issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper.
#b#Business Needs a Common Language#/b#
Understanding the culture that a language reflects has become a serious problem for businesspeople who work with speakers for whom English is a foreign language.
Too often, both communication partners assume that because they share a language, they understand each other’s intent. “The international language of choice for anyone who does technology or business is English, even if their native language is not English,” says Frederick Zarndt, owner of Global Connexions, a California-based training company in intercultural communications and global virtual teamwork, and contract content conversion specialist for three companies through Digital Divide Data. “The biggest problem in communicating is that everyone thinks they understand what the other person said, but because of cultural values that doesn’t happen very well.”
Zarndt came to understand the challenges of intercultural communication through his own experiences on information technology projects with team members from multiple countries. When working on a project for a German and an Indian company that had entered a partnership agreement, he observed that the two cultures viewed the relationship in very different ways. “For the Germans a partnership is a business arrangement. For the Indians you are part of the family, and you treat members of a family very differently than business associates,” says Zarndt. “This led to a number of misunderstandings.”
A surprising reality in cross-cultural conversations is that native English speakers have more difficulty communicating with someone who speaks English as a second language (ESL) than do two ESL speakers, who will communicate more effectively and with fewer misunderstandings. Why is this so? “People who speak English as a second language usually speak in simpler terms: they use simple, not complex sentences, and not big words, so they are easier to understand,” says Zarndt. Certainly more nuanced communication may be sacrificed, but what they do communicate is likely to be more straightforward.
So what is a businessperson to do to get through this thicket of cultural difference? Zarndt has a few suggestions:
#b#Read guidebooks#/b#. Companies like Proquest publish cultural profiles about different countries that teach some of the basics. For example, how long people spend on chitchat before they get down to work can vary by country. So can how much drinking precedes business. “In Russia, expect to sit down and share a bottle of vodka, and after it is half gone, then you start the business discussion,” says Zarndt.
#b#Be aware of your own cultural assumptions and values#/b#. “Culture is very much like the color of your skin,” says Zarndt. “You yourself probably don’t notice it very much, but everyone else notices it.”
#b#Keep it simple.#/b#
#b#Listen carefully and repeat back what you thought you heard#/b#. “This is a good rule for a husband and wife and for business associates in the same country,” says Zarndt. “It is a simple rule that is almost universally ignored.”
#b#Respect yourself and the person you are talking to#/b#. When Zarndt was working for the German and Indian partners, one of the German project managers was a woman who was technically very good. The Indian project managers, none of whom were female, were using the same software as the German woman, but not as adeptly. Yet when they needed help and reached her, they would always ask for her boss. “They were from a culture that didn’t place high value on women in business; they didn’t think women could understand the questions they were going to ask,” says Zarndt.
When speaking to another person, he says, only about 30 percent of that communication is done with words; the other 70 percent is through body language: gestures, tone of voice, and facial expressions.
“When you’re talking on the phone, you have word and tone of voice; video helps, but it’s rather limited. If you take away voice and are writing an E-mail, all you have left is words,” he says.
— Michele Alperin,
Reprinted from the August 18, 2010, issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper
#b#Writing Really Is a Butt-Busting Job#/b#
Anyone who takes writing seriously knows it’s like making laws or making sausage: we know too much about what goes into it.
There is no such thing as a writer who has not faced his or her job with a mixture of fear and loathing. As the great sportswriter Red Smith put it, “Writing is easy. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.”
It gets worse.
Consider the nature writer Annie Dillard: “I do not so much as write a book as sit up with it, as with a dying friend. I hold its hand and hope it will get better.”
Or the novelist Joseph Conrad: “I sit here religiously every morning — I sit down for eight hours every day — and the sitting down is all. In the course of that working day of eight hours I write three sentences, which I erase before leaving the table in despair. Sometimes it takes all of my resolution and power of self-control to refrain from butting my head against the wall.”
On the day one of his novels was published, F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote his editor, Max Perkins, “I am overcome with fears and forebodings. In fact all my confidence is gone.” The novel was “The Great Gatsby.”
Yes, these writers all faced the same questions you do: Where to start it? How to organize it? How to end it? What is the best tone to use? What am I really trying to say? Can I put into words all that I feel?
As those questions come up, you might feel irresistible urges to check your E-mail, visit YouTube, call your mother, change your ink cartridge, and tidy up your desk.
Hang on. Ultimately you have access to the same weapons — words, sentences, and paragraphs — that every other writer has. So you take mouse in hand and forge ahead, shaping words, sentences, and paragraphs on the lathe of your imagination and insight.
But learning to master writing is more than the matter of learning to use the right tools. From where I sit — and I often sit in front of a keyboard and monitor — writing is its own reward. As I have learned from writing my own books, it is far too rewarding to let fear of it deprive you from enjoying it.
The practice of writing takes you into other worlds. And the process of writing toughens your mind. The truth is that just as clear thinking leads to good writing, the reverse is also true: good writing produces clear thinking. Good, clear style forces you to work through the fog of uncertainties in your mind because there is no place to hide.
So how can you get from feeling anxiety about writing to the place where writing is the vehicle that liberates your thoughts, clarifies your voice, and helps you tell your story?
To help, I thought I might borrow a device — or rather, seven devices — from the world of self-help literature. So, with apologies to Stephen Covey who wrote a book called “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Managers,” I propose the Seven Habits of Highly Effective Writers.
#b#Habit 1: Make a Mess#/b#. Gather up all the raw material you can find — your own research, notes from books, your observations, opinions, stuff you find on Google and Facebook, things your friends said, quotes you remember from something you read when you were 6, laundry lists — all the most specific facts and details you can possibly get your hands on. Write it all down.
You do not need to do this in an orderly fashion. Dump your thoughts into your notebook and type up your notes. Your writing is only as good as the information and insights you have gathered. Order comes later. Be willing to embarrass yourself. No one but you will see this mess.
#b#Habit 2: Organize! Organize!#/b# This used to be a labor-union rallying cry, but it works for writers, too. After you’ve dumped your thoughts and research on the table, sort through the mess and make little piles of the same things in the same places. If you are working on a biography of the explorer William Clark, as I was not long ago, put everything about Clark’s family in one pile, put everything about his relationship with Lewis in another pile, and put everything about his relations with Native Americans in another pile.
Then look at the piles and make sure you have enough of them. Sometimes there is something missing. When I was writing my biography of Clark I realized that I had written nothing about the Proclamation of 1763, which prohibited European settlement west of the Appalachians. I did not understand its implications and knew that I could not write about western expansion unless I explained it. I remember that this moment threw me into a head-clutching tailspin because I knew I was going to have to go back and fill up my notebook again.
Then comes the bullfighter’s moment of truth. You have these piles of information, all stacked and sorted. You look them in the eye. But you need to find your theme, your sharp point of view, the one deft stroke that will hold everything else together.
One way to do this is to think of your piles of notes as if they were piles of clothespins. If you put the clothespins on the table in front of you, you could pick up a clothesline and thread it through each of the piles. Then hold both ends of the line in your hands and lift it up.
Every clothespin that comes up hanging to your clothesline is the stuff you need to keep: it’s relevant. But if it stays on the table, throw it out. It’s the same thing with your theme. Keep everything that clings to it; throw out everything that does not.
Around this point it also helps to find your last sentence. I always think it’s a good idea to write your last sentence first. Then you have an exit strategy.
#b#Habit 3: Don’t get it right the first time#/b#. Don’t even think about getting it right on the first draft. All good writing is actually rewriting. The biggest mistake a writer can make is not to revise.
When you rewrite you are putting things in the right order. You are putting the same things in the same place. You are cutting out jargon and cliches or any phrases that are familiar and overused, like a “hail of bullets” or describing little towns as being “nestled” in the hills. I would like to take a hail of bullets to all towns nestled in the hills. As Mark Twain said, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.”
The other thing cutting does is build compression and energy into your writing. The biggest payoff from compression is at the very beginning of a piece of writing, when you have to draw in the reader — or else. Consider these first sentences and how modest, unadorned, compressed and direct the language is:
“In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing.”
“Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams and found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.”
“All children, except one, grow.”
“In the great green room, there was a telephone and a red balloon.”
I suspect you recognized most of these opening sentences of “A River Runs Through It,” “The Metamorphosis,” “Peter Pan,” and “Goodnight, Moon” respectively. If you did, it’s because they are simply stated. Good writing is not fancy writing.
#b#Habit 4: Simplify#/b#. If you have read Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style (and, believe me, you should) you already know what this habit is all about. When you are revising, the first rabbits in your cross-hairs are unnecessary words. And while you’re at it, you might consider getting rid of the adjective key on your keyboard. Nouns and verbs can usually do the job just fine.
Efficient writing is elegant writing. The French philosopher Pascal once apologized for the length of a long letter by telling his friend that, “I have made this letter longer than usual, only because I have not had the time to make it shorter.”
Consider the famous first sentence of George Orwell’s novel, 1984: “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”
It’s an amazing sentence. The surprise twist of the clocks striking 13, of course. But also, in this sentence of 14 words, 11 have just one syllable. It sounds as crisp and hard as dropping a handful of pebbles on a tin roof.
Orwell was the master of the simply stated lead sentence with devastating effects. Here is Orwell again, in the first sentence of his autobiographical essay, Shooting an Elephant: “In Moulmein, in Lower Burma, I was hated by large numbers of people — the only time in my life that I have been important enough for this to happen to me.”
This is the high plain style, which aspires to be, as Orwell put it, “as clear as a windowpane.”
Here is what Orwell said once about the craft of writing — and rewriting: “A scrupulous writer, in every sentence, will ask at least four questions: What am I trying to say? What words will express it? What image or idiom will make it clearer? Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?”
And he or she will probably ask herself two more: Could I put it more shortly? (If it is possible to cut a word, always cut it). Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?
#b#Habit 5: Find your natural voice and stick to it#/b#. The idea of voice doesn’t make sense: we do not actually hear when we read. Voice is not the same thing as style. Rather, voice is a quality that underlies a writer’s prose — really more like the personality the writing reveals or, in musical terms, more like the melody than the lyrics.
Any good piece of writing is not a monologue, it is a conversation. The writer is looking over the reader’s shoulder, watching and wooing, anticipating his or her questions, or reactions, and making sure the reader is neither too far behind nor too far ahead.
What you want to do is find a writing voice that is uniquely yours. It is not George Orwell’s, Toni Morrison’s, or Annie Proulx’s, although you can profit from reading all of them.
When I am stuck at a place in my writing, I sometimes will read a writer I admire just to listen to his voice. It seems to help me the same way it helps Michael Phelps to put on his iPod and listen to his pump-music before a race. You can absorb one writer’s rhythms and voice in order to unlock your own. For me, the idea is not to borrow their style but to learn from their way of addressing the reader. Voice is the inner dialogue between a writer and his or her deepest self.
Ultimately, you have to develop your own voice — one that is reliable enough to give you confidence in all situations. Trying to slavishly imitate another writer’s voice can get you into trouble because it breaks down the connection between what you have to say and the way you say it.
#b#Habit 6: Get an iron butt#/b#. Woody Allen said “90 percent of life is showing up.” Writers need to show up too. By that I mean that you need to show up and sit down long enough to put in the time it takes to get it done.
Don’t worry about your frame of mind. It does not need to be perfect. As a friend of mine said, you can write on good days, and you can write on bad days, and afterwards you can’t tell the difference.
What do you do if you are sitting down and inspiration is just not there? The novelist Somerset Maugham confessed that, when he was stuck, “sometimes I just write my name until an idea occurs.”
There are more tips for curing writer’s block than there are for curing hangovers. They include:
Take a break.
Take a shower.
Listen to Mozart (or Hip-Hop).
Never stop for the day until you know the next thing you want to write. Hemingway used to say that he never felt good about stopping until he was in the flow enough to know what would be his next sentence.
#b#Habit 7: Read#/b#. Reading gives us understanding and insight and helps us understand our world. But words also give us sheer pleasure. Writers should savor well-made sentences the way a chef tastes pasta: al dente. There is a sensual texture in good writing we can take with us everywhere.
— by Landon Y. Jones,
Reprinted from the June 2, 2010, issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper.
Landon Jones is the former editor of People and Money magazines and the author of “Great Expectations: America and the Baby Boom Generation” (1980, Coward, McCann, & Geoghegan), which coined the phrase, “baby boomer.” His most recent book is “William Clark and the Shaping of the West” (2004, Farrar, Straus & Giroux).
Visit www.wildriverreview.com to read the online version of this article, which includes two “bonus points,” drawn from Jones’s career as a reporter and editor.
#b#Print on Demand Makes Publishers Out of Writers#/b#
Back in the mid-20th century A.J. Liebling, the celebrated journalist and shrewd social observer, commented that “freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.”
Things are different now. Thanks to print-on-demand technology, you can now “own” a press, or at least the use of one, to self-publish your own books. All you need to preserve your thoughts for posterity is a finished typescript and a few hundred dollars. You’ll wind up with a high-quality printed book, and you won’t have to order more than one at a time.
In this brave new world you don’t have to engage an agent to shop your creation around to commercial publishers. You decide whether your book is print-worthy. And while books from vanity presses appear only in their own catalogs, your self-published opus can be listed for sale on Amazon, right up there with John Grisham’s latest thriller.
Does this sound like a path to publication you want to explore? Before you decide, you should be aware that its advantages are balanced by significant downsides. I experienced both late last year when a book on which I collaborated — a memoir by Princeton entrepreneur and citizen astronaut Greg Olsen — was ready for print, but no literary agent would look at it.
I had met Greg Olsen during my tenure as director of corporate communications at Sarnoff Corporation. When we connected again two and a half years ago I had just finished two books: “Inventing the Future: 60 Years of Innovation at Sarnoff Corporation;” and “Competing for the Future: How Digital Innovations are Changing the World,” with Henry Kressel, published by Cambridge University Press in 2007. Another book with Kressel, this one on venture capital, was already in the works for Cambridge.
Olsen asked if I would be interested in working on a book about his career. Of course I would. He is a Princeton entrepreneur who rose above an unpromising youth to become a Ph.D. research scientist at Sarnoff Corporation. He later founded and ran two highly successful optoelectronics companies, both of which he eventually sold — one of them twice.
Greg gained a measure of fame by becoming the third civilian to book a seat on a Russian Soyuz rocket to the International Space Station. This was the culmination of his lifelong interest in space. Today he operates a venture fund, promotes science education, and owns a South African winery.
It’s a fascinating story, and it’s all in the book we began two years ago titled “By Any Means Necessary: An Entrepreneur’s Journey into Space.” We self-published earlier this year.
What moved a busy man like Greg Olsen to write his memoirs? And why did we decide to self-publish?
Committed to encouraging more students to become scientists and engineers, Greg felt his story might motivate young people by showing how rewarding such a career can be. Beyond that, his example would dispel the myth that you had to be a genius to be a successful scientist. He flunked high-school trigonometry and almost didn’t get into college. His achievements were largely the product of hard work, perseverance, and tenacity.
We worked to make sure his memoir didn’t come off as preachy. The motivational messages are embodied in stories funny and serious, about growing up poor and rebellious, turning your life around, building successful companies, and struggling to qualify for a space trip when you’re 30 years older than the typical astronaut.
Early response was encouraging. We sent drafts of the book to knowledgeable friends and colleagues, including a Pulitzer Prize-nominated novelist and poet. Several said they read the book cover to cover in one sitting. Everyone was positive, even enthusiastic.
Everyone, that is, but people in the commercial publishing industry.
When it came time to find a publisher we approached several prominent literary agents and book promoters, all of whom (even the ones who obviously didn’t bother to read the book) said exactly the same things: The industry was in trouble. Publishers would only look at sure-fire best sellers by established authors. Memoirs are dead, except those about movie stars or other celebrities.
Besides, “By Any Means Necessary” didn’t fit any pre-determined genre. Was it a business book? A motivational book? Career advice?
Actually, it was all of these, and that was the problem. Books have to be narrow in focus so bookstores know where to shelve them. Marketing a multi-faceted book is too hard, and it’s all about marketing, isn’t it?
After months of frustration I started to look at self-publishing, but I wasn’t optimistic. Just four years before a friend had sent me a self-published paperback. The book was as ugly as a $50 suit: plain type on a tacky, shiny white cover; the text printed on cheap beige paper with an orange tinge; a stiff, thick glue binding that snapped the book closed unless you held it with a death grip; and no graphics or pictures anywhere.
How things have changed. Print-on-demand (POD) technology has advanced to the point that today’s self-published books are indistinguishable from high-quality commercial paperbacks. You get full-color covers, the ability to include photos or graphics, high-quality book paper — the works.
Even more amazing, especially to someone who is used to traditional printing processes, each book is individually printed and bound. Your copy of “By Any Means Necessary” is printed just for you and it arrives within a week. No one, including the author, has to buy a minimum number.
To make money you have to sell a lot of books, but most self-published authors don’t. The average POD self-published book, according to industry estimates, sells around 200 copies. And if you expect your provider to help you market your masterpiece, you’ll be disappointed. Marketing is an extra-charge, and even then is so bare-bones as to be practically useless.
To be fair, unless you’re already a top-selling author, commercial publishers are only marginally better. One of the agents we consulted said that unless you’re willing to work your butt off arranging your own book signings, readings, and media coverage, you won’t sell much of anything, because your publisher will sit on its hands. Jeffrey Hayzlett, CMO of Eastman Kodak, recently gave a great talk at the New Jersey Business Marketing Association meeting, then hung around to sell and sign 20 copies of his commercially published book “The Mirror Test.”
There’s no denying that marketing a self-published book is even more difficult. As a rule the big national bookstores don’t carry self-published books, and they aren’t very eager to sponsor readings by authors whose books they can’t sell. A persuasive author may be able convince a local branch to stock his or her book, but usually only on consignment, which means the author has to pay for a bunch of books up front.
As for readings, some branches occasionally hold self-published author nights. But they’re not heavily promoted, and each one features several writers vying for attention.
It’s worth noting that LuLu has a joint self-publishing venture with Borders, while IUniverse, another POD publisher, is teaming up with Barnes & Noble. Whether this will get books into their stores, or merely have them listed in their catalogs for ordering, is a question.
Hope abounds. If all this talk of sales and marketing sounds daunting, or even depressing, you should know there are some success stories. Xlibris boasts of a computer manual that has sold nearly 16,000 copies. James Redfield self-published the mega-selling Celestine Prophecy before placing it with a commercial house. However, these are the exceptions.
But sales figures are not the only measures of success. If this is a friends-and-family-only publication, maybe you don’t care how few copies you sell.
Or perhaps you have other reasons for doing a book. One executive of a major chemical company doesn’t offer his self-published book for sale at all. He only distributes it to business partners. Other authors use self-publishing as an adjunct to their conference speaking schedules. And for some authors, it’s a way to keep their older books available when they go out of print at a commercial publisher.
We’re certainly seeing the genesis of a brave new world for budding authors.
— by Tom Lento
Excerpted from the June 2, 2010, issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper.
#b#You’re an Author — Who Knows?#/b#
You’ve done it! Finally, after months spent writing and editing, finding a publisher, choosing a cover design, debating over type fonts, suffering through proofreading and corrections, and dealing with all of the usual setbacks and delays of a complex project, you have your book in hand. It is beautiful. It is your baby. You want everyone in the world to read it, and you’re sure that as soon as a couple of book reviewers find it, you’ll head straight to the top of the bestseller charts.
Unless you market your book wisely, only your mother will buy a copy. Do you know how many copies the average book sells? Two hundred. That includes every author from Stephen King and JK Rowling to the John Doe who sells 15 copies of his book on the history of postage stamps to his philatelist club.
So how do you help your book rise above the pack and get noticed when hundreds of thousands of individual book titles are published in the United States each year?
#b#Start by revisiting why you wrote your book in the first place#/b#. There are hundreds of ways to market your book, and you can easily spend thousands of dollars trying different approaches. But don’t get ahead of yourself. The first step in deciding how to market your book is to look at your purpose for writing it — vanity? Business accessory? Posterity? Without knowing why you are doing something how will you know if you have achieved the results you are looking for?
So before you start marketing your book, rethink what you wanted to achieve in writing it.
#b#You know a better way#/b#. You are a bookkeeper who is an expert in Quickbooks, a business coach with a new method for business growth, a teacher with great ideas to share on education. You have ideas and you want to share them with the world.
#b#You want to increase your credibility#/b#. There is no better way to increase your credibility than by writing a book.One survey I read showed that people perceive a published author without a Ph.D. to have as much credibility as a Ph.D.
#b#You want to become the go-to pro#/b#. With some marketing assistance, a book can make you the person who newspaper reporters, radio hosts, or television commentators call when they need to quote an expert in the field.
#b#Increase your business#/b#. One author tells me he doesn’t care if he ever sells a book. He gives his away. “Every time I give my book to a prospective client it not only increases my chances of getting the job, it increases the amount of money I can ask for it,” he says.
What’s your reason for writing a book? Answering the questions below will help you to clarify your objectives.
— What would you like your book to accomplish for you?
— How can your book help your business?
— How will your book help others?
— Do you have other goals for your book?
Most writers I work with want to write their books first, then deal with the publishing and printing process, and then think about how to market it. But if you talk to book publicists or marketing experts they will tell you that this order is backward. Begin to think about marketing your book the day you start to think about writing it, and work to develop your marketing strategy and platform while the book is still in process.
The first thing you need is a website. If you do not already have one for yourself or your business, get one. A website does not need to be complex to be effective. There are hundreds of resources available at the bookstore and online to help you with a simple do-it-yourself website.
If you already have a website make sure you add a “coming soon” advertisement to your site. You can even ask for advance orders, but be sure to set a publication date — and know that you can honor it —- before you do. Wouldn’t it be great to start getting income from your book before it is even published? In addition, consider setting up a second site dedicated to your book and link it to your business website.
Once you have the website, start to think creatively about how to market your book. Think about both electronic and personal ways to market. Everything from twittering and blogging to good old fashioned networking should be considered. One author I know recently sold 200 books in the first 10 days after publication only using word of mouth marketing and networking in her community.
Here are few ideas to get you started on your marketing plan.
— Send out press releases to local, regional, and national publications about your book;
— Send copies of your book to book review websites;
— Have a party! Invite your friends, family and business associates and announce it to the press;
— Place a book trailer on YouTube and other Internet sites;
— Blog and Twitter about your area of expertise;
— Develop add-on products that sell your book. If you’re a fiction writer, can your book be adapted for a computer game?
— Most books aren’t sold in traditional bookstores these days. Make a list of gift shops and boutiques that sell items related to your book;
— Give seminars and workshops and sell your book as a part of the package;
— Give radio and television interviews;
— Don’t forget the new Internet-based radio stations, they are developing excellent niche audiences
Once you have decided on how to market your book ask yourself which portions of your plan you can do yourself and which will need the help of a book publicist or marketer. Sure, you can probably write a press release that will get you into the local paper, but if your goal is an interview on a national news show, you’ll need help in getting there. No one starts out with an interview in the Wall Street Journal or on the Larry King Show. Get your feet wet by starting local .
#b#Set up a timeline and a budget and be realistic about it#/b#. Marketing costs money, but it can pay for itself in increased sales of your book and increased recognition of you as an expert in your field.
Write releases, and send copies of your book with them to all appropriate media outlets. Include copies of book or book excerpts where appropriate, and don’t forget to follow-up with phone calls.
If you plan to hold a seminar, develop an outline for a one to two-hour seminar, find a place to hold it (libraries or restaurants are good), set a price for the event based on cost of the meeting place, marketing materials, seminar materials, refreshments, and announce your seminar through your website, newsletter, and press releases.
A budget for a seminar can be anywhere from the cost of materials only to $1,000 or more for an elaborate set-up at a hotel.
But think like a business person. Your book is your investment. Most writers I work with are business people. They own their own business and they understand that if they do not market their business no one will buy their services. Yet I am always surprised by how many of these savvy business people don’t understand that they must also market their book.
Marketing a book is an ongoing process. The day you quit marketing your book is the day it stops selling.
–- Karen Hodges Miller,
Reprinted from the June 2, 2010, issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper.
Miller, owner of Open Door Publications in Lawrenceville and a frequent contributor to U.S. 1, is the author of “Unlocking Your Ideas: Your Book from Concept to Publication.”