Kelly Schuknecht | Writer, Editor, Publisher, Book Marketing Consultant
As a publishing coach, I help writers accomplish their writing, publishing and marketing goals! I have over a decade of experience in the publishing industry, including writing and editing and book marketing. When I started this blog, my original goal was to help coach authors on how to use social media to promote their books.
Guest Post by Jacqueline Jensen, author of Travel Isn’t the Answer: Live With a Sense of Curiosity, Passion, and Awe Anywhere and Everywhere.
*This post originally appeared on DeirdreBreakenridge.com
“What is the hardest part about writing a book?”
As I’ve read interviews and talked to writers, their answers range from challenges landing a publishing deal and feeling overwhelmed as a slow writer, to fears around vulnerability and the struggle to shed self-doubt. Will people read the book? Will my ideas resonate with anyone?
Most writers I have come across tell me writing a book is both extremely rewarding and at the same time one of the biggest challenges they have ever taken on.
When I decided to write my first book, I came across an ideation framework that made perfect sense to me as a former venture-backed startup founder. Even better, many of challenges I heard from experienced authors seemed to be helped along with a new approach, too.
The idea is simple, but powerful: Test your idea for a book before investing too much of your time actually writing the book.
Rather than create a product – or write a book – in isolation, Ries says that by getting ideas out into the world as quickly as possible, we rapidly see what works and can discard what doesn’t without too much invested effort.
While it may make sense to some of us to start with an idea for something we think people may want and then spend time building it, there’s a better way. What if we publicly shared the idea in its most basic form to hear what people think? What if we chose to create smarter, not work harder?
This rudimentary form of an idea is called an MVP. In the tech world, a “minimum viable product” is a version of a new product that is used to collect the maximum amount of validated learning with the least effort. In this new world of writing my first book, my book’s MVP would take the form of a 30-day pre-order campaign to gather feedback about the idea.
I connected with the team at Publishizer to get started on creating the campaign. We explored how we could move fast and embrace the idea of failing quickly, which for someone new to publishing like me felt both a little scary and incredibly bold.
“We are a NYC-based startup and crowdfunding platform that has helped hundreds of authors get published,” said Lee Constantine, Head of Growth at Publishizer. “Authors have used Publishizer to earn over $1 million in funds. Our goal is to enable exciting new book ideas and help authors land an advance-paying publisher. We launched in 2014 and graduated from 500 Startups Batch 13 in Mountain View, CA. We pride ourselves on working with world-class thought leaders, speakers, coaches, investors, and people doing interesting things.”
Within weeks, I had a Publishizer campaign page ready for the pre-order launch on September 15, 2017. I filmed a video explaining a bit more about the book idea, worked with a designer to create a book cover, and conducted research on the potential market. I even asked a creative I admire to partner with me. Carl Richards, New York Times Sketch Guy columnist, agreed to write the foreword and produce original sketches for the book!
During this process, I have felt the same fears, doubts, and challenges as the experienced authors I look up to. I realized my initial urge to plan every step before unveiling a finished book was because I was stepping into the unknown. I wanted to avoid failure. However, the secret key to creating something awesome is to get the feedback necessary early on to make it great!
During the creation of the campaign, I reminded myself over and over that the goal wasn’t to create a final product. My focus was to share budding ideas, create a space for feedback, stretch my assumptions, and show up with a learner’s eye. Bringing the “experimentation-first” mindset I cultivated at tech startups has been just what I needed jump start momentum in this new adventure.
How have you tackled new creative projects? What have you learned by sharing ideas before they are fully baked? I’d love to hear from you!
In my last post I discussed 5 Ways to Promote Your Fiction Book. Although some of those tactics will work for non-fiction books as well, I thought I’d talk more specifically about non-fiction book promotion this week.
This should go without saying, but I’ve seen a lot of bad titles and a lot of bad covers out there. Choose your title carefully and don’t settle for an ugly cover. These two things are extremely important when it comes to a potential reader’s first impression of your book.
Once you have a great title, an amazing cover and killer content, you’re ready to launch your book! Here are five ways to promote your non-fiction book:
Reviews — Getting reviews for your book will help increase its ranking on Amazon. Offer the book for free through KDP for a few days. During that time, contact your email list to let them know about the promotion and ask them to review the book. Use http://www.bookmarketingtools.com to get the word out to “free kindle” sites. For more on this tactic, visit CreativINDIE with Derek Murphy.
Pricing Strategy — Another great tactic Derek Murphy mentions is having a pricing strategy. Offering your book at a low price point (i.e. $0.99) for a period of 30 days will encourage sales and build some momentum.
Press Release Distribution — Put out a press release and distribute it through PRWeb. I am not a super big fan of the old fashioned press release approach (don’t expect news about your book to hit the front page of a major newspaper), but as Cathy Presland shares in her post “50 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Promote Your Book,” PR distribution can help create some backlinks to your website.
Book Launch Party — Schedule a book launch party at a local coffee shop or bookstore. Be sure to bring plenty of copies of your book so you can sell signed copies, and have bookmarks or business cards on-hand with all of the information about your book and where to buy it.
Guest blog posts — Seek out bloggers in your field. Follow them and connect with them on social media. Reach out to them and ask if they accept guest posts for their blog. You can write posts on topics related to your book (if not specifically about the book) and include a link to your website in your bio. Beth Barany shares some great tips on www.writersfunzone.com on running a blog tour.
Again, these are just a few ideas to get you started. Networking with other writers and published authors is always a good idea no matter what phase of the process you are in. Get involved in a community of writers, whether it be a local writing group, a national organization or an online forum so you can network, get tips and advice and swap ideas.
Not sure where to start?WritePubChat is an online Slack community just for writers who want to discuss writing, publishing, book marketing with other writers. Join us!
When it comes to writing fiction, you may love the writing process but not know where to begin when it comes to promoting the book once it’s published. Hopefully you already have a website and have established your presence on a few social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). If you have all of those things going for you already, it’s time to get an outside perspective on the appearance. Ask a friend to review your sites and give you feedback on how they look.
Try Facebook Advertising — Surely you’ve noticed ads on Facebook. Facebook makes it very easy to set up ads, boost posts, promote likes, etc., and all while targeting your specific/unique audience. Joanna Penn, indie-author, speaker and entrepreneur, shared a helpful post on 5 ways authors can use Facebook Advertising.
Get interviewed on a podcast — According to Katie Wyatt, podcaster and speaker, “a podcast is a supreme opportunity to maximise the launch of your book.” Start by reading Katie’s tips for promoting your book with a podcast, researching podcasts that might be a good fit for your book, and writing a pitch letter to send out to podcast hosts.
Leverage your book reviews — Post your reviews in the Editorial Review section of your book’s Amazon page, on your website and social media. This post on WritersWin.com provides more advice on leveraging your review to promote your book.
These are just a few things to get you started. Networking with other writers and published authors is always a good idea no matter what phase of the process you are in. Get involved in a community of writers, whether it be a local writing group, a national organization or an online forum so you can network, get tips and advice and swap ideas.
Not sure where to start?WritePubChat is an online Slack community just for writers who want to discuss writing, publishing, book marketing with other writers.
In that past I have not been very good about keeping up (or responding) when people have contacted me through my blog. I didn’t mean to ignore any of those messages, I just wasn’t paying attention like I should have. I received an interesting message today that I thought I would share here and see if my followers have any good advice for this writer.
Here’s the message I received:
I have completed my first novel about my Grandfather working for Al Capone in Chicago in the 1920’s. The book is a work of historical fiction and some family facts. The Book is titled Capone’s Wolff, Grandfather Wolff Schneider…
I have had over 60 contacts (read family and business associates) pay to read the new book and overwhelming response is very positive.
Now I need to learn how to engage a larger audience I would be interested in how I connect to an agent who has a love to market historical fictions?
Here is my response to Keith. If you have anything to add, please do so in the comments below.
I will say that I work in the self-publishing industry, so my experience is not in traditional publishing (which sounds like the route you want to take). I have posted your question here to see if any followers can chime in with some guidance for you. I also recommend you join the #WritePubChat community on Slack where you can connect with other writers and ask questions like this at any time.
Best of luck to you in your publishing project! Please come back and share with us about your journey.
Do you love to talk with other writers about what you’re working on or hear about what they’re working on? Do you like to swap writing prompt ideas? Do you have questions about how to publish a book? If you said yes to any of these questions, join the WritePubChat community on Slack! WritePubChat is a community just for people like you (and me!) who want to discuss the things we love (writing, publishing, book marketing) with other writers.
What is Slack?
Slack is a real-time messaging app that has recently become all the rage. It is typically used by businesses for instant messaging and is replacing email communication for many, but Slack is also being used for community building for people with common interests. Visit SlackList for an extensive list of Slack communities.
WritePubChat is a new Slack community for people who are interested in networking and discussing all things related to writing, publishing and book marketing. If any/all of these things interest you, we’d love to have you join us!
Join the WritePubChat Slack community by simply filling out your information in this Typeform. Let’s chat!
Named a Hot Fall Read by USA Today, Vanity Fair, Newsday, O Magazine, the Seattle Times, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Mashable, Pop Sugar, and the San Antonio Express-News
Named a Best Book of the Year by Brainpickings and Book Riot
“A must read for anyone hoping to live a creative life… I dare you not to be inspired to be brave, to be free, and to be curious.” —PopSugar
From the worldwide bestselling author of Eat Pray Love: the path to the vibrant, fulfilling life you’ve dreamed of.
Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work, embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.
MY REVIEW:I have participated three times in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), where people set out to write a novel (or at least 50,000 words of one) within the thirty days of November. I successfully completed the challenge two of those years (last year I was close, but lost steam when I went on vacation the third week of the month).
Every year I do it, I think my writing is a little bit better than the year before — the characters are a little more developed, the story is more plotted out. Also, every year I participate I ask myself a million times WHY am I doing this? I have never considered myself a writer, but I have found that for some reason I enjoy the process of trying to write a book. There’s something within me that wants to do it even when everyone around me thinks I’m crazy. I would be horrified if anyone actually read the stories that I wrote during NaNoWriMo, but I keep thinking I might re-write them and maybe some day they’ll be presentable.
Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic was just the inspirational push I needed. It has inspired me to finish (at least) one of the books I have already started. It also encouraged me to participate in NaNoWriMo again, despite the fact that I tell myself every year in December I will never do it again. And it even motivated me to make writing more of a priority in my life, not just during NaNoWriMo. Why? Because it is something I enjoy. Will I ever publish anything I write? Maybe. Will it make me rich someday? Probably not. But that is not why I do it.
If you are an artist in any sense of the word, this book is a must read. It isn’t just for writers; it is for anyone who enjoys creating something. What is your art? Is it painting, knitting, cooking? Whatever it may be, Big Magic will inspire you to take a look inside yourself, to listen to your passion and to live a more creative life.
By now it’s clear that whether you’re promoting a business, a product, or yourself, social media is near the top of what determines your success or failure. And there are countless pundits, authors, and consultants eager to advise you.
But there’s no one quite like Guy Kawasaki, the legendary former chief evangelist for Apple and one of the pioneers of business blogging, tweeting, Facebooking, Tumbling, and much, much more. Now Guy has teamed up with Peg Fitzpatrick, who he says is the best social-media person he’s ever met, to offer The Art of Social Media—the one essential guide you need to get the most bang for your time, effort, and money.
With over one hundred practical tips, tricks, and insights, Guy and Peg present a bottom-up strategy to produce a focused, thorough, and compelling presence on the most popular social-media platforms. They guide you through steps to build your foundation, amass your digital assets, optimize your profile, attract more followers, and effectively integrate social media and blogging.
For beginners overwhelmed by too many choices as well as seasoned professionals eager to improve their game, The Art of Social Media is full of tactics that have been proven to work in the real world. Or as Guy puts it, “great stuff, no fluff.”
Guy Kawasaki writing a book about how to “rock” social media is like Michael Jordan writing a book about how to rock the basketball court. Kawasaki has achieved a level of stardom in the social media world that most of us can only dream about. That said, his tips are invaluable whether you are a newbie or a seasoned social media marketer.
This book is a quick read and covers all of the basics you need to know about the most popular social media platforms. I highly recommend it, although I’m only giving it 4 stars because it’s so short and really could be more detailed. Amazon says it’s 208 pages, but the content is really only 184 pages. The format is about 5×7, so if it were a more normal size (i.e. 6×9), it would barely be 100 pages.
Starting a novel is exciting, but finishing it–that’s the real challenge. The journey from beginning to end is rife with forks in the road and dead ends that lead many writers off course. With Writing Your Novel from Start to Finish: A Guidebook for the Journey, you’ll navigate the intricacies of crafting a complex work of fiction and complete the journey with confidence and precision.
To maximize your creativity and forward momentum, each chapter offers:
Techniques to break down the elements of the novel–from character-building to plotting and pacing
Mile Markers to anticipate and overcome roadblocks like ineffective dialogue and “the unchanged protagonist”
Guidelines for Going Deeper to explore and implement more nuanced aspects of storytelling, such as finding your voice and the role of theme
Try-It-Out Exercises and 27 interactive worksheets that help elevate your writing.
No matter your level of experience or where you are in your project, Writing Your Novel from Start to Finish provides the instruction, inspiration, and guidance you need to complete your journey successfully.
MY REVIEW:I am surprised by the reviews for this book. As of the date of this post there are only two reviews on Amazon and both of them are only 3 stars. I feel like there must be some sort of secret about this book that I don’t happen to be in on. (If you know what that secret might be, please comment on this post and fill me in!) Personally, I thought this book was excellent!
If you have ever tried to write a novel (or have that on your bucket list for “some day”), this book is a must-read! I think Bates does a wonderful job of walking the reader through everything you need to know in order to put together a story that people will want to read. It may all seem pretty obvious, but having attempted to write three novels myself over the last few years, I found the information in this book eye-opening. If I participate in NaNoWriMo again in the future, I will definitely read through this book again before I begin and the worksheets in the back will be a fantastic resource.
I highly recommend this book if you write fiction and/or want to write a novel someday.
One of the features I have appreciated on WordPress is the email subscription “widget” (which you can see on the right side under the search box). This function allows readers to subscribe to my blog and receive new posts via email. My book review blog, which has been hosted on Blogger since 2010, has never had an email subscription option, but as I was thinking about how important this was, I decided it was time to figure out how to add it.
I figured it out, but also discovered that setting up an email subscription field in Blogger takes a little more work to set up than it did in WordPress. If you use Blogger, though, and do not already have this set up, it may be worth the effort. Allowing your visitors to subscribe to your blog keeps them engaged without having to come back and visit your page everyday to see if anything new has been posted.
Blogger’s version of a widget is called a “gadget.” Blogger provides instructions on how to set up an email subscription gadget here; however, I will walk you through the steps and what I learned when I set this up on my blog this week.
The Blogger instructions provide a code that you can copy and paste into the “Content” box of the new gadget you are setting up. Do not enter anything into the Title box.
Before you click to save your new gadget, there are a few very important things you need to do in order for your feed to work properly:
1) Set up a feed in Feedburner. Go to Feedburner.google.com, enter your blog URL into the appropriate box and walk through the steps to set up your feed.
2) Activate the feed. Once it is set up, click on the feed name to open the feed settings and then click the Publicize tab. Click Email Subscriptions. At the bottom of the page, make sure the service is active (if not, click to activate it).
3) Set up the feed link in your gadget. In the Preview Subscription Link… box, there is a code that looks like this:
Copy only the portion of that code between the quotation marks (shown in blue text above). Keep in mind your exact link will be slightly different from mine.
Paste that link into the gadget to replace the portion of the code highlighted in blue on the Helplogger page (where you originally got the code).
4) Replace the name of the blog. Looking back at the original code you copied from Helplogger, there is one word (helplogger) in purple. Replace this word with what you want it to say for your blog. In my case, I replaced “helplogger” with “ReadAndTell.”
5) Save and test. Save your gadget and then open your blog in another window. Your new gadget should now appear on the page. Test it by submitting your email address. Follow the steps and then check your email. You can make changes to the email language from within Feedburner. You can change the location of your gadget from within Blogger.
Easy, right? Okay, it’s not that easy. Blogger makes a lot of things easy, but this is not one of them. Once you get through it, though, you will be offering your readers a great way to receive instant notification of your new posts.
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