Archives for December 2012

When Social Networking Does Good

I’ve been providing social marketing services for three years now. Yet, one of the things I’ve seen a significant increase in this year has been the ability of social communities to rally together for a good cause. Whether it’s spreading news or raising funds, there is no parallel to how rapid a message can spread when shared over social networks.

In my local area, since August, lost dogs have been found, runaway children have been restored to their families, news of a long-time family friend’s passing quickly spread, a kidnapped child was returned safely to his guardians, and an online community formed to support two families whose lives were devastated by a home gas explosion.

When the tragic shootings took place in Sandy Hook (a neighboring community to where I live) on Dec. 14th, 2012, news spread like wildfire over the social networks. As always, I found Twitter to be the best source of news. Facebook couldn’t keep up with or spread the information quickly enough because of its closed nature. But with a few appropriately placed hashtags, I could find out everything I wanted to know as it was unfolding; actually, more than I wanted to know since my own children’s schools were also on lock-down until the situation was under control.
eMarketing Association logo
What I didn’t know until today was that the very next day, a colleague of mine suffered a tragedy in his own family. Robert Fleming is CEO of the eMarketing Association, an organization whose conferences I have spoken at over the past couple of years. It’s related LinkedIn group is the 4th largest group on that network, out of over 1.5 million groups!

On Dec. 15th, his 12-year-old daughter suffered an illness and was paralyzed from the neck down. Within 5 hours’ time, she went from being perfectly healthy to being completely paralyzed, unable to eat, speak or breathe on her own. She still remains in the ICU at this time. But is in good spirits. A website to chart her progress will be up and running in another day or two at rhanasjourney.com.

While the information I have is limited and the family deserves its right to privacy as it deals with these difficult circumstances, Robert is hoping to see good come out of this circumstance regardless. On LinkedIn today, he shared an announcement with the eMarketing Association Network group.

100% of all profits from conference registrations, certifications, sponsorships, memberships and ecourses will be contributed to a fund in [his daughter’s] name, for her care, now through the end of January.

With this offer, you’ll be able to hone your eMarketing skills as you prepare for 2013, and know that you are helping a little girl heal at the same time. So, why not take a moment and make an investment in both her and yourself. See what the eMarketing Association has to offer today. And, as Robert finished his announcement, “Our best wishes to you for a fantastic new year.”

Has Self-Publishing Come of Age?

Many people think of self-publishing as a new phenomenon, being resorted to by frustrated authors who haven’t been able to land a contract with a traditional publisher. However, as I point out in my eBook, autographed paperback, self-publishing is not just for unknown writers and it’s not something new.

Self-publishing is a viable option for many, and presents a variety of new marketing and publishing options that writers didn’t have access to before. While you’ll forgo the advance that traditional publishers may give you, you’ll see a greater share of the royalties. Instead of a 10-15% advance (and potentially nothing more after that), you’ll see an on-going 30-70% of royalties from a self-published book.

But, keep in mind, that as a self-publisher, you are responsible for everything related to the book. That includes, at a minimum, cover design, editing, formatting, layout, proofing, publishing, marketing and publicity.

On December 9, 2012, CBS Sunday Morning ran the following video segment about self-publishing.

Given how accessible self-publishing options are these days, how do you decide which way to go or if you should publish at all?

  1. If you want a traditional publisher, know your reasons why. I was talking about this with a friend recently who reminded me that no one ever makes a purchasing decision for a book based on who published it. So, why do you want to use a traditional publisher? You may have a very good reason, but be clear about what it is.
  2. If you are considering self-publishing, do you have what it takes to manage all the pieces that go into it? In other words, are you up for managing a large project? You’re going to have to coordinate a variety of skill-sets or provide the talent yourself in order to put out a quality book. Self-publishing is more than just writing the book and uploading it to a distribution site. There is an art to cover design that makes a book attractive to a prospective reader. And, once the book is open, you want to ensure that typos and grammatical errors don’t detract from the reader’s experience. Then, there’s ensuring that people even know the book exists. Your friends and family are only going to buy so many copies. So, how else will you get the word out about it?
  3. If you are self-publishing in the hopes of picking up a traditional publisher later, have you worked out a plan that ensures you’ll sell a minimum of 10,000 copies in the first year? The ISBN of a book enables publishers to see the sales history of a book, which they consider as part of their purchasing decisions. If you self-publish and sell only a few copies, you have made your journey to traditional publishing that much more difficult because you have, in essence, proven that you don’t have a viable audience.
  4. Whether self-publishing or going with a traditional publisher, have you spent the necessary time to build your platform (the audience who is aware of you and your work)? Major publishers want to see that you have a ready-made audience. One industry expert shared a few quick gauges she uses for this. Do you have a Klout score of 70 or higher, an available mailing list of 20,000 or more (yours or someone else’s), and at least 20 speaking engagements a year at $5K or more per engagement (or that you are already a celebrity in some other way)? If you don’t have these things, consider them as benchmarks you want to achieve as you build your audience. The bigger the platform you have, the greater success you’ll realize with your self-published material.

The ready availability of self-publishing options is attractive to many, and it’s certainly easier to get your material out there than pursuing a major publisher. But before you take the leap, recognize that self-publishing is a business, not an outlet. It’s not a magic wand to fame and fortune.

Make sure that you have laid out a solid plan to achieve your goals and have the necessary resources of time, money, connections (it doesn’t have to be costly) to implement the plan. If you don’t, you’ll be disappointed with the results.

If you need help getting started with a plan, consider buying a copy of The Plan that Launched a Thousand Books in either .pdf or Kindle format. It will get you pointed in the right direction.

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve encountered in self-publishing your books?

Getting Swept Away by Holiday Madness?

Rich is not how much you haveI wrote the following note to my best friend recently, but I wanted to share it with you too, especially at this time of year. I don’t know about you, but I’m personally guilty of trying to cram too much into too little time and space. What’s really important to me though, and what I’m trying to convey through this flurry of activity and spending, is my love for the people I hold dearest. So, why do I make it so complicated?

Hmm… I’m sitting on the plane, trying to work on my intro presentation for Thursday. I’m pulling together some material that I think is pretty good. If nothing else, it’ll be entertaining while giving them a sense of who I am and what I do…

When I got to the airport and checked in, my ticket said “seat requested.” I later learned that meant that I didn’t actually have a seat on the plane, although I was confirmed to be on it. I reminded the nice lady at the gate of my request for an aisle seat, and she said she’d see what she could do. Then she cheerily handed me my new boarding pass and sent me on my way. When I saw seat 21A, I thought to myself, “that’s not an aisle seat!” But, since she hadn’t said anything, I thought maybe, somehow, it possibly could be?

As I boarded the plane, it became quickly apparent that I had a window seat. (Ugh!) The two seats next to me stayed empty for quite awhile, even as the flight crew did their best to herd everyone on the plane like cattle and get them situated as quickly as possible. I began to hope that maybe the seats were free, or at the very least that when the people did come, perhaps one of them preferred the window.

When they did finally arrive, I said absolutely nothing, grateful that I had a seat and could move freely about as I chose. The wife in the couple is ill. I don’t know if it’s MS or ALS or what, but she’s having a tough time of things, and she needs the ability to get to the lavatory as quickly as she’s able when needed. Her meds are rough on her, but her husband takes very good care of her.

Then, he decided to do the same for me, saying it makes him feel useful. 🙂 When I opened the tray to put my computer on it, it had the remnants of someone else’s meal on it. So, he cleaned it for me while I held the laptop, which I’d already gotten out and had nowhere to go with. He was also watching over my shoulder as I worked on my presentation, commenting on what he likes. When drinks were served, he situated mine on his tray since mine was occupied with the laptop.

They both settled in for a nap about 45 minutes ago. Hands tightly clasped together, arms looped. Her head on his shoulder. She periodically wakes up and runs her hand over his, feeling his chest, his heart beat, his cheek, his forearm and back to reach for his hand. Such tenderness and love. I’m ashamed of having pitied her. She is richly blessed…

As much as I’m crammed in between the window and his elbow with no room to move (and pitying sardines), I’m touched by the scene unfolding next to me and, admittedly, envious. I’m reminded of a sign I have in my office at home. It says “Rich isn’t how much you have, or where you are going, or even what you are. Rich is who you have beside you.” 

Thanks for being in my life. It certainly feels much richer because of you… Your friendship enlivens my world. Thanks for stimulating conversations, a listening ear, the freedom to be silly and all of your support. It’s special to me.

Don’t let the busyness of the season sweep you away, when what’s really important is those who stand beside you.

How are you taking time to slow down?