Catherine Sevenau mused, why write? She created quite a buzz with the launch of her book, Queen Bee. Once again, she filled the space at Reader’s Books in Sonoma with friends, family, fellow writers, and excitement.
I captured the Queen as she filled us in on why she writes:
Catherine read excerpts from the second installment in her memoir. She began with “Why Write” and set the tone for many great stories.
She choose tales that brought laughter to the crowd. Grandchildren, Satchel and Temple, shared the stage with Queen Bee Catherine. They also share winning smiles, dimples, a command of the room. I appreciate they each have a wry sense of humor too.
Queen Bee’s Creative Hive
Catherine belongs to several creative groups, including BAIPA, the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association. She and I often carpool to the meetings in Novato, where we learn about changes in the industry and best practices for publishing and marketing books. I was fortunate to work with Catherine on marketing for her first book, Behind These Doors. She is a talented woman.
Replace Intentions with Actions for Astonishing Results sounds easy enough. Making resolutions for the new year is an established part of our culture. According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, 45% of Americans make New Year’s Resolutions. Only 8% successfully reach their goals. The successful ones are those whose actions match their intentions.
Making a resolution is a declaration of intention. But, there is a catch. Simply stating your intentions is not enough to translate them into reality. The critical factor that most of us leave out of the equation: taking action.
Actions Turn Dreams Into Results
Actions are what makes your dreams come true. It is great to dream. Dreams are a good place to start when creating a vision for the life you want. However, intentions will remain intentions without taking action. If you want a different result from what you have now, a change in behavior is necessary for success.
Many of my big dreams have come true. Like living in San Francisco. I didn’t just dream about it, I prepared for my move from San Diego to the City by the Bay. I did research. I got a subscription to the San Francisco Chronicle. I applied to audition at A.C.T. I saved money for my move. I made inquiries about where to live. I contacted several residence hotels and I booked a room. I turned my dreams into concrete actions.
The Power of Self-Talk
Self-talk can be empowering or it can keep you stuck. A conversation with a friend reminded me of this critical tool. The alignment of words with actions has the power to change the world. Words can move us forward or keep us in a place of denial. He told me about how his father. The old man likes to complain to his son about his health. He knows what to do to feel better and yet refuses to make any changes in his behavior. His dad is stuck in a place of wishful thinking. My friend feels that unless his father makes changes, he doesn’t have the right to complain. I agree. It is okay to express discontent. It is not okay to chronically complain about the same situation over and over again without taking action to change it. Like my friend, I noticed this pattern of self-talk and failure to take action in myself. It is a state of being out of alignment with the truth. My friend is working on being mindful of when his words don’t match his intentions and correcting his course of action. Speaking the truth is far easier than being deceptive or deluded. I feel at peace when I walk my talk. The stress of saying one thing and doing another disappears. I have more energy and a lightness when I do what I say I will do.
Alignment of Words and Actions
I couldn’t stop thinking of my conversation with my friend. I started to explore areas where I have been feeling stuck. Places where I got locked onto magical thinking. Being aware without being wrong or feeling shame. I clearly see areas where I am putting power behind my words with supportive actions. I also see ideas and goals that are languishing. Some goals are only good ideas because I haven’t moved into action to make them come true.
As my friend said, “I can do better.” It was not a put down, it was an honest assessment of himself. I too, can do better. If I take enough make small steps forward, I will make it to the finish line.
Fear Sometimes Keeps Me From Taking Action
Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear of not being perfect. I know when I do something concrete that moves me closer to my goal, I feel excited and less fearful. It’s easy to talk about what I want. It is sometimes harder to do what I must to make my dreams come true.
Authors come to me because they “say” they want to sell more books. We talk about their goals. We talk about possibilities. We talk about what they are willing to do. Those who take action consistently are the ones who move the needle and sell more books.
Breaking Through the Fear
Being willing to take action on intentions is what it takes to turn dreams into reality. My gift is being able to see a dream, turn it into a project and break it down into small actions. Actions that are doable. Energy amplifies each time I complete a task propels me to keep chipping away and going forward.
Getting out of the mindset of perfection is freeing. Getting into the mindset that doing something every day makes a difference is empowering.
If you feel stuck, I have a proven way to get you out of the quicksand. This is true whether your goal is finish your book, publish your book or sell more books. You need to the help of other people. To sell more books, you need to connect with people in a meaningful way. It doesn’t happen overnight. If you are serious about building your author platform, I can help you on your journey. One of the best tools for breaking free of feeling stuck is a book by Byron Katie, Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life.
There is another tool I use, the 5-15 Report. It is a one page document that I discovered when I worked at Smith & Hawken. It takes 15 minutes to write and 5 minutes to read. It is a way to capture what is going on over the course of a week. You can download a sample pdf for your own use.
Judy Baker is a certified Action Plan Marketing Coach, blogger, and speaker. “Marketing is a Conversation” — getting people talking is one of the ways she helps independent authors sell more books. brandvines.com delivers practical book marketing tips. Baker lives in Sonoma with her husband and three chickens, Spot, Buffy and Rosita.
You’ve done the hard work of writing your amazing book and are on the way to having it published. In anticipation of your publication date, you will want to plan a book launch party. Here are some of the reasons why:
It’s a celebration
It’s an opportunity to get publicity for your book
You can partner with a non-profit and raise money on their behalf (and get in front of their audience)
Get people talking about your book
A way to have fun
It’s a photo op (you can get lots of people holding up your book)
An excellent way to thank people who helped you get your book published
You can sell books!
The Keys To A Successful Book Launch Party
Plan ahead (3-6 months before your book is ready)
Pick a team to help you
Pick a theme
Reserve a venue
Create a budget for your party
Plan for refreshments
Get the word out (calls, email, snail mail, social media)
Invite local media to attend
Designate someone on your team or hire someone to take photos and video at the event
Order plenty of books so you have them available for the big day
Plan to sign books (bring pens)
Be prepared to sell your book
Make Your Launch Special
Get creative and find ways to tie your party theme to your book. This works for fiction and non-fiction. One of my friends, Patricia V. Davis, had a spectacular book launch party that featured live music, delicious chocolates and sparkling wine, a contest for the best diva costume and selected readings and stories from and about her book, The Diva Doctrine, 16 Universal Principles every Woman Needs to Know.
Celebrate, have fun and raise awareness about your book. Give a great party and people will enjoy themselves and talk about it to their friends. They will share photos on Facebook and spread the word about your book.
A party is also a way to acknowledge yourself and your team for all the work you’ve put into publishing an amazing book.
Watch and share this 2 minute video about the positive impact you can make with a book launch party.
Have a story to share about your book launch? Include it in the comments section below.
Arouse Curiosity on Social Sites with Teasers Announcing Your Book
Your book is amazing. If you want to sell more books you need to tell the world about it. Arouse curiosity and get people talking about your book on social sites to grow your audience. Tease them and build anticipation for your book.
Tell Your Story in Small Bites
Plan a series of posts and updates that plant ideas and leave them wanting to know more. Interesting social status updates drive traffic to your blog. Provide astonishing insights and unveil your perspective in social posts. Consider creating a series of tweets based on chapters in your book. Reveal tidbits that arouse interest. Inspire their imagination. Surprise your readers. Grow your audience with quality. Focus on why your book is valuable.
Spotlight characters or an intriguing aspect of your story if you are writing fiction. Share endorsements that give your writing credibility. Reward readers with unique, colorful content or practical information.
Exploit the Power of Imagination
Smart authors use cliff-hangers. People want to know what comes next. Show glimpses of your book that unlock emotion. Unusual or exotic elements break through the ordinary conversations on social sites. Astound readers to get their attention. Then deliver on your promise. If there a secret in your book, tease with possibilities. Build suspense.
Try Before You Buy
Publishing short excerpts from your book is a popular way to attract readers. Giving away samples is a good investment. Like the food samples in a grocery store, sampling is a low-risk way for people to try out your writing. If they like the sample, you have engaged prospective book buyers.
Before you publish your book, you want to get as many people as you can talking about your upcoming book. What aspects of your book are daring, groundbreaking, pioneering or strange? Capitalize on what is innovative in your online book teasers.
Authentic stories work. Honest emotion, underdogs, second-chances, these are hooks that touch our hearts. You can talk about your book or what it took for you to write it. Talk about obstacles. Talk about triumphs. Be bold.
Every Picture Tells a Story
Use images in your social posts to get more eyeballs on what you are saying. Your book cover tells a story. You can make a video book trailer. Post photos from your book research. Post photos of yourself as you write your book. Take a quote from your book and turn it into an image. Create your own visuals using online services like canva.com or shareasimage.com where you can combine text and images like the one you see at the start of this post.
Watch the Video
In this short (under 1 minute) video, I recap why you want to arouse curiosity on social sites with teasers announcing your book.
These are a few ideas to get you thinking about ways you can arouse curiosity about your book. Now go out there and get people talking and you will sell more books.
Surprise, Delight, Engage, And Fascinate Readers With Your Kick Ass Blog About Your Book
Start your blog before you publish your book. It’s a way for you to have a conversation with curious readers. It is the place where you can connect with your community. It is your marketing hub.
A Blog is Your Website
With WordPress it is easy to create a site that will showcase your book. I’m talking about a self-hosted site where you own your domain (url) and WordPress.org is installed. I strongly advise you to avoid setting up your website on WordPress.comwhich is someone else’s digital property. You will encounter many restrictions, you won’t look professional and worst of all, it doesn’t allow you the freedom to use powerful tools that grow your email list.
Nonfiction Authors Are Experts
Nonfiction authors can position themselves as experts by telling stories about a problem they solved in their book. People with that same problem can discover you through a search. They are attracted to your blog because they want to know what you know.
Fiction Authors Tell Amazing Stories
Fiction authors can talk about their characters, how they developed the book, research they did, how they came up with the idea for the book, and they may even post parts of the book prior to publication to get feedback from their readers.
Start Your Blog Before Your Book Is Published
Start your blog as early as possible so it can help you grow your audience before you publish your book. It’s a way for people to get to know you and the value of your writing. Each blog post is a sample of your perspective and your writing.
Curiouser and Curiouser
Use your blog to arouse curiosity about your book. Post about your process. Invite guests bloggers to participate and bring their audience to you.
Surprise your audience with value. Give them bonus information that may not appear in your book.
Delight your audience with great content.
Engage your audience by asking for their opinions. It is a way you can get feedback and improve your book before you go to publication.
Fascinate readers by giving them insider knowledge. A sneak peak behind the scenes can pull them into your world.
Each Post is a Gift
A blog about your book is a tremendous way for you to build interest and connect with an eager audience hungry for the content you offer. Think of each post as a gift for your readers. It’s a genuine and reliable way for you to generate interest in your book. People want to connect with you, the author. Don’t skimp on revealing fascinating information about yourself.
Set-up Your Blog in Under an Hour
You can start a blog in under an hour using WordPress. I’ve done it countless times. Here is an overview of what you need to do:
Purchase a domain name
I use bluehost.com as my Internet service provider. I go to them to purchase and register domains too. I appreciate bluehost’s reliable 24/7 customer service. They are only a phone call away. bluehost is my choice of providers because of their one button WordPress installation, easy to navigate user interface, security, safety and support.
A Rose by Any Other Name
Your domain name could be your name (if it is unique and available), the name of your book or the name of your publishing company. Just like the title of your book, shorter is better when it comes to a url, and if you can use key words in your domain name as in your book title, that is even better.
Even if you’re technically challenged, it is easy to find WordPress experts who can help you set up your blog and show you how to add new content. You can also find a consultant who will post for you.
A Blog is Easy and Affordable
Launching and contributing to your blog is an affordable and easy way for you to unlock a flow of exciting, revealing, important and valuable conversations with your readers.
Make Them an Offer They Can’t Refuse
Creating a beautiful blog is an unparalleled opportunity for independent authors. It is your home in cyberspace. It can attract attention, grow your audience, showcase your work, and provide media with information about you.
Make an irresistible offer of something that your target audience values. In exchange, visitors to your website will give you their email address. Email is one of the most effective ways to convert visitors into customers. Building your email list is vital to reaching your goal to sell more books.
Passion Fuels Action and Attraction
Use your imagination and breakthrough your fear. The more you write from a place of passion, the more you will enjoy posting and sharing with your audience. Authentic emotion connects to readers in a very deep way.
Each time you blog you are adding to your inventory of stories. Offer exclusive information to your readers and encourage them to become part of your inner circle.
Gather metrics on what is working for you on your blog — Google Analytics is free. Discover what touches a nerve with readers and build on it. Your blog puts a spotlight on your book, your expertise, and your point of view. Feed your blog fresh content on a regular basis and improve your discoverability on Google.
Link to Your Social Accounts
Share your posts on other social channels and pull people back to your blog. Each time you write a new post on your blog, be sure to tell the world. Link to your other social channels such as:
Amazon Author Page
Goodreads Author Page
Surprise, Delight, Engage and Fascinate
Use Your Blog to Surprise, Delight, Engage, and Fascinate Readers
Build your blog, post by post. Feed it regularly. Nurture your audience. Do this consistently and grow your audience. You will sell more books.
Tell me how you are using your blog to grow your audience. Post your comments below.
Build Buzz, Get Blurbs and Reviews with ARCs (Advance Reader Copies)
There are people waiting to help you improve your book and get the word out. And, they can help you before you publish. They can give you valuable feedback and start generating buzz. I am talking about Advance Readers!
An ARC is Different from the Boat Noah Built
In publishing, ARC is short for “Advance Readers Copy.” It is a preview of your soon to be released book. Seeing a book in print is exciting. Getting a printed ARC is worth the time and effort. With options like createspace, the cost is lower than ever before. I’ve been a designer for more than 20 years and it is really amazing that until you see it printed, you may not catch typo’s that are impervious to spell check, or those odd bits of formatting that need attention that will literally jump off the printed page yet hide on the computer screen.
Sending out ARCs to helpful and eager readers will provide you with insights and testimonials you can use in your book marketing. Advance readers can also pinpoint areas where you need to do some fine-tuning before you publish.
Advance Readers Are Invaluable
These folks are different from the editors you hire to improve your book. Advance readers are willing to read your book, give honest reactions and criticism, for free. They don’t replace the expertise of editors. They complement it. If they love your book they will tell other readers, even before your book is available!
Ask for Help
Ask for beta readers and potential reviewers before you go to press. Reach out to book critics too. Look for top influencers in your field of expertise targeting those who can boost the visibility of your book and help you reach a larger audience.
Don’t have to wait until you have published your next book to reach out to reviewers, readers and influencers. They can help you refine your book and improve it before publishing. Allow about 8 weeks for them to read your book and send back comments. You can select the best comments and use them (with written permission) on your back cover, in your publicity, and on your website.
Clearly label your “Advance Reader Copy” as such.
ARC’s are not for sale.
ARC’s can be a pdf.
You can print ARCs using a service like createspace.
Offer a finished copy of your book when it is published in exchange for an honest review.
Edit Before You Send Out an ARC
While an ARC is not a final copy and doesn’t have to be perfect, be sure you have done your due diligence and have had your book professionally edited first. Evaluations you receive from ARC readers will be different from those of the editor(s) involved in your project. Advance/beta readers may identify issues of readability, grammar, or plot, but if you have done a good job working with your editor(s), it is more likely beta readers will give you positive comments not potshots. If you learn that there are some fixes needed, you have saved yourself from prematurely publishing your work.
Where To Find Advance Readers
Goodreads is a great place to start. Reach out to thought leaders in your field or genre. Ask for advance readers by making a request to your email list. You can also use social channels like Facebook, LinkedIn or twitter to find readers.
Advance Reader Copies are part of a successful book marketing strategy.
People are usually surprised when I tell them I am shy. Most people don’t see me that way because I am a “situational extrovert.” If I have a job to do, I feel confident. I look for ways of helping others to take the focus off of me.
I learned shyness from both of my parents. It wasn’t until I was in my 30’s that I discovered I could do things differently. I learned some tips to help me go forward and connect with people instead of staying off in my own prison of shyness. After years of doubt, of feeling fearful, isolated, resentful and sad, I knew it was time for a change.
Breaking the Ice or How I Learned to Break Free of My Fears
It was the day I attended a luncheon where Susan Roane was the speaker. During the time before she made her presentation, she went from table to table asking questions. She got to know them as individuals. When it came time for her speech, I listened with astonishment. She ably included specific bits of information she learned from the 100 or so people in the room. Susan showed me a way out of my dungeon of shyness. Being interested in others and asking them about themselves was my ticket to being more comfortable with strangers. How to Work a Room, is one of the best books about creating connections.
Another favorite book of mine is Susan Jeffers’ Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. This inspired me to acknowledge my fear and do things I had avoided. She identified five truths about fear. They are:
The Fear will always be with you
The only way to overcome fear is do go out and do what you are afraid of
You will only feel better about yourself when you go out and do it!
Everyone is afraid of facing the unknown
Pushing through your fear is better than feeling helpless
Authors Can Be Shy
You can get out of the trap of shyness. You wrote a book for a reason. Focus on your purpose, your message to the world. Here are some ways for you to break free and get moving on your book marketing:
List the reasons you wrote the book and the value people will get when they read it.
Be gentle with yourself and remember nobody’s perfect . Pick one thing you can do today that will put you in front of your audience. Do this every day for at least 10 minutes. The more you practice a skill, the easier it becomes for you.
Celebrate your wins. Keep track of your successes. You might do this in a digital journal or a notebook. Include positive reviews, encouraging words, awards, those wins you can look at when ever you need a boost.
Partner with someone. You don’t have to go it alone. Get together with a friend or another author and check-in regularly. Helping others helps you.
What is Holding You Back? By Sam Horn is another book I recommend for overcoming shyness. Sam gives an assortment of practical actions you can take immediately and get on with your life.
It’s O.K. To Be Shy
Acknowledge your fear.
These are my big three fear busting tips. Do you have a tip to share about overcoming shyness? Share them in the comments area.
Headlines Attract and Entice Your Audience To Take Action
A headline is the front door of your written communication. I seem to have a knack for writing headlines. Growing up, I never imagined I would be writing for a living. It never occurred to me. I dreamt of becoming an actor. When I moved on to a career in human resources, and when I transitioned into a career as a graphic designer, and even when I became a marketing consultant. I never could have predicted that writing would be something people paid me to do.
I’ve always considered myself a communicator. Writing is one form of communication. My preferred mode is speaking. Yet writing is and has been an important element in my life. I wrote and illustrated my first book while in high school. My drive to print it myself lead to my groundbreaking entry into the “industrial arts” class. This is back in the days when girls took home economics and boys took shop classes. I was the first female student in the history of my school to challenge this model. More girls followed my lead. I was ahead of the women’s equal rights movement and the desktop printing revolution.
I found the mechanics of offset printing fascinating. Perhaps this is one of the drivers behind my career in graphic design and my focus on book production and promotion.
In each of my careers, written communication played a pivotal role. Many of my clients have said I have a unique ability to transform complex ideas into neat, understandable terms. I’ve written procedures manuals, employee handbooks, job descriptions, proposals, contracts, marketing copy, press releases, training materials, ad copy, engagement marketing content, book titles, value propositions, catch phrases, newsletters, flyers, blog posts, profiles, oh my, this is a long list for someone who didn’t start out as a writer!
My Theater Training Influences My Writing
I started out as a student of theater. From the time I put on my own plays in the backyard to studying acting in college, I loved the romance of theater. I was painfully shy as a child. By assuming a role, I became powerful and my own fears faded. It helped me put myself into the mindset of someone else, just what I need when writing marketing copy.
My theatrical training also gave me an appreciation for the importance of getting the attention of my audience. If nobody is listening, it doesn’t matter what I do or say. This same holds true for writing.
Honest communication makes a connection, whether spoken or written. People are curious. They want to see what happens next. A good headline pulls people into the conversation. A compelling headline attracts and intrigues the reader. It tantalizes. It makes a promise. A good headline is like an invitation to a party. Your goal in writing a good headline is to get people in the door.
Be real, get your reader to put herself in your shoes. Appeal to her emotions. You don’t have to shout or manipulate. Be honest.
Resources to Help You Write Better Headlines
I have two excellent resources to help you write better headlines. I’ve been using the first for two years and it has helped me improve my headlines. I am getting email open rates between 30-55%!
Advanced Marketing Institute Headline Analyzer is a free, online tool developed to measure the emotional marketing value of a headline. Input your headline, select a category, hit enter and in a few seconds, you have the results. Go here to use it.
Want to create headlines that convert? Fresh Title is an inexpensive software applicationshows you examples that are proven to work. It includes swipe files to get you started. You can see real-time headlines that are trending on Google. You can store headline ideas for future use too. http://freshtitle.com/
Call to Action
This is your money shot. After you get their attention, what do you want your audience to do next? Creating a message that moves them to take immediate action is the very definition of a call to action. Guide them with clear, easy to follow instructions and ask them to perform one specific task.
How to Get More Marketing Tips
Like what you learned today? Want more free tips? Get them by subscribing to my YouTube Channel. I post a new marketing tip about once a week. When you subscribe, you’ll get notified when a new video is available.
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To sell more books, people need to know about you. A media page on your website is the place you can list your media exposure. If you are looking for new opportunities to connect with the media, it shows them you know how to make the news and adds to your credibility as a potential speaker, guest on a show, or as a guest blogger.
What to Include on Your Media Page
You can start with a few of these items and add to your page as you expand your coverage.
Your biography (short, medium and long versions)
Photos of you (professional)
Images of your book cover(s)
Fun facts about you
Book Reviews and Testimonials
Links or pdfs to media coverage
Downloadable document with all of your media information (your media kit)
How to get in touch with you
Links to your social channels
Links to recordings of you on air (radio, podcasts, television)
Links to guest posts on other people’s blog sites
A speaker sheet (like a product sell sheet for speakers)
Sample interview topics
Quotes from media who have interviewed you
Keep it updated as you get media coverage
Update your page as you get more coverage. Go out and make some news today.
I am grateful for my hair. A year ago, I had stubble, about ⅛ inch long. I was happy for that. I finished chemotherapy in July 2014 and I had no hair at all! I began noticing that something was amiss around Thanksgiving 2013. I barely ate anything at that Thanksgiving.
I wound up in the emergency room right after Christmas where the ER doctor told me I had cancer. Not exactly the way I planned to spend my holidays.
Good News and Bad News
I was in for a big learning spurt over the next year.
I was diagnosed with cancer
I found out I have the BRCA-2 genetic mutation
I lost my hair, eyelashes and eyebrows
I have some residual chemo-induced neuropathy in my hands and feet
I had a treatable form of cancer
I belong to a genetic group that responds well to treatment
I was otherwise very healthy
I didn’t have many side effects during treatment
I had great resources to help me heal
I am a survivor
I pay attention to my health
I am more forgiving of myself and others
I don’t waste time with negative people
My hair is back
My energy is up
My neuropathy is reversing
I am feeling good
I have solid friendships
I feel confident about making my dreams come true
I am starting a daily practice of recognizing what I am grateful for
I wish you a wonderful day of thanks and gratitude.