Welcome to 2013!

2013 is an open book filled with magicThe New Year has begun, filled with all sorts of possibility and wonder. For some reason, the changing of the years seems to remind us to look back at what’s behind us, and eagerly anticipate what’s ahead of us.

However, in business (and in life), each new day yields the same opportunity. Learn from the past. Plan for the future. Dream big, live fully, love deeply, fail fast, and grow more.

With 365 new beginnings lying before you this year, what dream are you pursuing today? Or are you simply trying to keep up with the demands of Life?

Set aside time each day to step back, think about where you are right now, and where you want to be in the future. Are you positioned to get there? If not, what changes do you need to make to adjust course?

For your business, review your business plan. (This applies, even if you are a personal brand!) If you don’t have one, sit down and write one. Without it, you have no discernible measure of where you are in relation to your goals. If you have one, is it current or does it need updating?

The process of having to document your business, your products and services, your position in relation to competition, etc., helps to clarify and define your business. This makes it easier to make decisions about growth opportunities, future direction, prospective client projects, and much more. Without a business plan, you’re simply reacting to events as they unfold, left to the whim of others.

Michael Hyatt, former Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, also recommends having a life plan for your personal affairs as well. Certainly if you want to be in control of your life, instead of reacting to events all the time, knowing what you want out of life is important. Having a plan will help you balance the demands on your time and resources, while also allowing you to create the legacy you want to leave.

How does your business plan align with your life plan? Are there areas of conflict that need resolution? For example, if spending time with family and friends is a huge part of your life plan, does your business plan ensure you have the time and freedom to do that?

By understanding where you are now and where you want to go in the future, you’re well-equipped to figure out the steps required to get from here to there. Check back regularly to ensure you stay on target. Keep both plans updated as things change.

You don’t have to wait for a New Year to create the life you want. You just have to decide here and now, in this moment, that you’re starting. Then, let nothing stand in your way!

As a thank you to my readers, and with permission from its creator, Dave VanHoose of the 7-Figure Speaking Empire, here’s his Success Goal Workshop worksheet to get you started thinking. I’ve already filled mine out and have been re-reading it frequently the past few days.

And if you’re free today at noon ET, join Dave for his Be Legendary BlogTalkRadio show. Today’s topic is on planning your goals for 2013, and you’ll be able to call in to get your questions answered. If you miss the live show, you can always explore the archive!

As always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to post them below. We’d love to know what your big goals are!

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?

What’s Your Social Media Foundation?

Pam Moore - Marketing NutPam Moore at Marketing Nut published a blog post last week entitled “My Promise to You Social Media Friends.” In it, she related how the recent passing of her Granny made her reflect on how thankful she is for the relationships in her life, including those with her blog readers and social media friends.

She concludes the piece with a very revealing set of questions. I wonder how many of us ever truly consider them as we tweet, share, post and blog. They are:

What is your foundation for social media? What are your beliefs? What promises are you living or do you need to make to your social media friends?

If you’ve ever written a business or marketing plan, the answers to these questions should be a part of it. And those answers should be consistent with how you implement and use your social media accounts.

For me, both my company and my online interactions are guided by a biblical passage found in Ephesians 4:29.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

I believe that everyone of us has unique gifts and abilities. When we use our gifts to contribute to the world around us, the world becomes a better place to live in.

My particular gift is to take complex ideas and communicate them in ways that are easy to understand. I did that for over 20 years as a technical writer and trainer. I’m doing it now as a speaker and consultant. And that is why this blog will always be used to educate my readers, providing you with useful information that builds up your ability to market your product or service online.

I wholeheartedly believe in the old Chinese proverb:

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

I know that a lot of my readers are do-it-yourself-type people, whether by nature or due to financial constraints. While Aleweb is here to serve your social marketing needs, we will always have a firm commitment to teaching you how to fish as well.

So, to echo Pam’s questions… What is your foundation for social media? What are your beliefs? What promises are you living or do you need to make to your social media friends? I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas.