Archives for 2015

Get Greater Distribution for Your eBook Using Smashwords

For many of us who write, Amazon is the default “go to place.” And that’s for good reason! Statistics show that the majority of sales of digital content comes from there.

However, if you talk with any content creator, they’ll always tell you that you need to find as many ways as possible to extend the life (and expand the reach) of your content. That means finding multiple outlets and various formats that the same information can be disseminated in.

I’ve been hearing about Smashwords for years, but have never taken the time to study or appreciate its unique properties.

Smashwords Udemy course coverRecently, I was spending some time on Udemy, looking at the latest course offerings there and looking for those that might be suitable for my readers, when I came across one called “Self-Publishing with Smashwords.”

I decided to scan the content and listen to the promo video, and by the time I was done with that, I knew I needed to take a closer look.

I introduced myself to the instructor, Jason Matthews, who proved to be a very knowledgeable man when it came to self-publishing with Smashwords.

I took the course and, when all was said and done, here’s the review I left for it.

Udemy Smashwords course review

In 26 lessons, Jason walks you through things like:

  • What makes Smashwords special.
  • Formatting your content for Smashwords.
  • How to handle your Table of Contents so that Smashwords likes it.
  • Special considerations when it comes to cover design.
  • How to choose the right file format for uploading your content to Smashwords.
  • The next steps to take after submitting your content to Smashwords.
  • Publishing extras that will make your work stand out from the others.

In all, there’s about 90 minutes of content to the course.

As is my nature, I listened to most of it at 2x speed, so was done in under an hour, including taking notes. But the great thing about Udemy course content is that the platform makes it very easy to speed up, slow down, pause and take notes, rewind to repeat, and anything else you need to do in order to grasp the content you’re consuming.

So, if you’ve been wondering how to go about expanding the distribution of your self-published content, and you want to see your book on sites like Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Scribd, Library Direct and many more, this course may be just the thing you need in order to break through the barrier that’s been holding you back.

I know distributing The Plan that Launched a Thousand Books is definitely on my end-of-year plan to put on Smashwords!

 

The Science of Pricing Your Books Correctly

I’m often asked by authors how to choose the right price for a book, and there are a number of factors to consider.

The infographic from blog-growth.com (below) shares some of the science behind pricing items (whether big ticket or small). But how does that translate to books? [Scroll to the bottom to find out.]

So, how does that translate to books?

Well, let’s start with the formats you want to offer your book in. I often recommend making it available in at least 3 formats. It’s up to you whether it’s eBook, paperback and audiobook or eBook, paperback and hardcover, but give the prospective reader 3 choices.

As with bracketing, you’ll notice that people will tend toward the moderately priced item.

When you reduce the formats offered to only two, as shown in the decoy pricing segment, people gravitate toward the lower cost option (typically your eBook).

While that’s not a bad thing if you can make up the difference in price by an increase in volume, it’s still something to be aware of. (Amazon offers a Kindle pricing suggestion tool that analyzes the best price point for your book based on the volume of sales for similar titles at various price points.)

I have to admit, I’m a little disappointed that The Magic of 9 only tested 4 and 9. I’ve seen some great activity around 7 as well, especially when it comes to courses, and would have liked to have seen that included in the equation. You’ll have to decide if you want to test that out yourself or not.

As far as Deleting the Free Plan goes, that has bearing on the age-old discussion around whether KDP Free Days are a good idea or not. By itself, I tend to think not. However, there are some great strategies that can be used to leverage the visibility of a free book in order to lead new readers into other purchasing decisions. So, done right, the free offers do have a place in your marketing strategy. I just wouldn’t recommend keeping your offer free for extended periods of time unless there’s some other monetization strategy behind the free content.

What are your thoughts? What jumped out at you about this infographic? Is it in line with what you’ve experienced yourself, or have you seen differing results?

Can’t Find the Time to Write Your Book or Are You Just a Slug?

After a presentation I gave recently, an attendee wrote on the evaluation form:

I had no idea all of this existed! I am very interested in writing a book buy cannot find the time. Might it be more helpful when my last child is out of the house? Or am I just a slug?

Of course, the question made me smile, but I know that plenty of people wrestle with the same issue.

They want to write a book.

They want the visibility and authority that being a published expert in their industry affords them.

But finding the time to actually sit down and write seems nearly impossible! A book is a means to an end for them, not the “be all, end all.”

So, is there a solution to this problem?

Of course there is!

Speak Your BookAnd it’s one that actually works well with business experts who want to incorporate their book into the brand.

Oftentimes, an expert talks a million times a day about their subject matter.

They speak as a form of marketing their business and building their brand.

They know their material inside and out so that they can answer questions at the drop of a hat. (Are you liking all the cliches?)

The point is, they know their stuff.

If you’re sitting there reading this, nodding your head, thinking to yourself, She could be writing this about me! you’ll be happy to know that there is a solution to your problem.

You most certainly can write your book. You don’t have to wait until your last child moves out. You simply have to be disciplined and creative, and technology these days makes it easy to do both!

My friend, Ann McIndoo, first introduced me to this concept back in 2012, and I’ve adapted it to fit my own needs and used it frequently since for myself and my clients ever since. I use it for content as short as a blog post, and as long as a book. And you can use it to write your book too.

Here’s the secret: You can speak your book!

What does that mean?

Well, if you spend a little time planning the structure of your book, creating an outline, knowing who your target audience is, you can fill in the gaps by digitally recording its content.

Personally, I use Dragon Naturally Speaking to do that. The benefit there is, it transcribes my speech for me into the written word. (I use the Premium edition rather than the home version so that I can record using my digital recorder, and then come back at a later date and plug it into the software for transcription.)

Sometimes, people prefer to simply record themselves speaking and then have their assistant or a service like Speechpad transcribe it for them.

Either way, the idea is to dictate the book’s content and have it transcribed (real-time or after the fact). With that starting point, you can either fill in any gaps you find yourself or hire a ghostwriter to help you. Then, when the content is all written, be sure to work with an editor to polish things up.

The benefit to “speaking your book” is that you can do it whenever you have a spare moment. I’ve recorded an entire chapter while driving to pick up my kids somewhere or while exercising on my stationary bike. I’ve even recorded blog posts while washing the dishes and folding laundry!

It’s really not that hard to do. And if your business would benefit from the authority that being an author and a recognized expert would lend to it, then what are you waiting for? You’re doing a disservice to your future clients and your brand if you keep putting off writing your book.

One of the greatest benefits of writing a book is that it actually helps you clarify your message, making it easier both to present your brand to others and to fill any gaps in your knowledge or services that you might have overlooked before.

Our sister company, Emerald Lake Books, offers all of the services necessary to edit, design and publish your book when you’re ready. We even do market research as well, if you need help settling on what to write about. So, if you find yourself needing help or encouragement along the way, let us know!

How Speakers and Authors Can Use Mobile Marketing

Today’s guest post is from Sophorn Chhay, an inbound marketer specializing in attracting targeted visitors and generating sales  and qualified leads. Through Trumpia’s SMS and marketing automation solution, he helps businesses and organizations communicate effectively with their customers or members.

Trumpia is offering a free Mobile Marketing Success Kit, so don’t forget to grab your free copy.

Mobile marketing offers many channels for reaching your audience, including reminding them of events and sending them special offers for your next book. It is a great way to add some oomph to your existing marketing strategies and connect personally with your followers.

Mobile marketing for authors and speakersMobile is now the primary way that people connect with the Internet, and you can take advantage of this communication stream to deepen existing relationships with your readers and find new ones.

Here are some easy ways to increase your following with mobile marketing.

1. Create an SMS marketing subscriber list.

SMS or “texting” is one of the top activities that people use a cell phone for. Texting is the most used application on smartphones, with 97 percent of U.S. users texting at least once a day.

Use this knowledge to your advantage by offering an opt-in service for your followers.

Not sure which mobile marketing platform to use? Here’s a comprehensive list of the Top 50 Mobile Marketing Tools and Platforms for Business.

You can use this an SMS service in a variety of ways. For example:

  • Send reminders of new books or upcoming presentations.
  • Let people know when you will be in town.
  • Send out alerts for your newsletter or contests on social media.
  • Inform followers of giveaways and freebies.
  • Offer free tickets to your next speaking engagement if they share your text.

Creative ideas for SMS message marketing are being thought of daily.

You can divide your list in several ways, including by location to let readers know when you will be in their local area for a meet and greet, book signing or convention.

You can also divide the list by genre, if you write or speak in more than one topic area. Send reminders only to followers for that particular genre when events come up.

Additionally, run surveys of your readers to see which of your characters they like best or which book is their favorite.

2. Optimize your website for mobile users.

Now that more people access the Internet from mobile devices than desktop computers, you should optimize your website for mobile.

Optimizing your site for mobile will not turn away desktop followers. In fact, they may not know the difference. Many people go online using both their mobile and desktop device, and can follow you on both.

The best practice for making your site mobile accessible is by changing it to a mobile responsive theme. Talk to your webmaster to see how much work that will be.

Don’t know if your site is mobile responsive or not? Visit the Google Webmasters site to check. And if you don’t have a developer who can help you, feel free to contact us. We’d be glad to do what we can.

Mobile responsive themes respond to a signal from devices, displaying your site in best fashion for each device’s screen size. They also reorder elements of the site in a predetermined configuration. This process is automatic, making the site friendlier to mobile users.

3. Use social media sites that are popular on mobile.

Some social media sites have great apps designed to make them easy to use, making it easier to access information and share content with friends.

Instagram is a mobile-only social media site that is primarily a picture/video sharing site. You can use this to promote your upcoming events and let people get to know the real you. [You do have to upload your images from your mobile device to use this app.]

Pinterest has a very sophisticated mobile app that you can use for letting people know about events, sending out quotes from your books or your inspirational messages, and sending out advance notices of your book covers. It is a very active site on desktop and mobile, and book covers are the perfect size for Pinterest images.

Depending on your topic area of expertise, you can create boards sharing recipes, offering business advice or cosplaying your main characters (dressing up and acting like them).

Facebook is used on mobile for sharing images, videos and text, and can be adapted to mobile easily. Many authors create pages to announce new books, get feedback from readers, and let people know where they are traveling for conventions. You can even send videos of yourself meeting followers or speaking, or ask people to tag you when they post their photos to Facebook of your meeting.

Just a Start

These ideas are just a beginning to the many ways to publicize your work on mobile. You will be amazed at how easy it is to add mobile marketing to your marketing strategy.

 

An Interview with Chuck Gallagher with Some Straight Talk about Second Chances

I have to admit taking a short unplanned hiatus from my blog writing due to a whirlwind of personal and business activities the past few months.

The launch of Emerald Lake Books took off like a wild horse out of control! (But in good ways.)

And my oldest child graduated high school and headed off for Basic Training. So, the Alemany household has been just a bit flustered of late. Even the cat seems dazed and confused most days…

But now it’s time to get back into the routine of things, and bring you some great new author interviews!Chuck Gallagher, author of Second Chances

If you haven’t heard of Chuck Gallagher before, you’ll want to listen to the video at the bottom of this post. He’s got a riveting story and an engaging sense of humor that you won’t want to miss.

When I reached out to Chuck in January to ask if he’d be interested in being one of my Featured Authors this year, he was happy to oblige, but requested October for his interview month.

Why?

Here’s what he had to say about it:

I know October is strange, but that will be twenty years since I was incarcerated, so the book Second Chances will have its beginning two decades ago.

I don’t know whether to say we’re happy to help him “celebrate” the anniversary or not, but I’m happy we put this on my calendar back then. It’s just the push I needed to start working on my blog schedule again.

It looks like Chuck’s not the only one who got a second chance. 🙂

Tara: What motivated you to write a book?

“On the day I took twenty-three steps into federal prison, I did not recognize all the choices that resulted in this consequence. By the time I took twenty-three steps out of prison, my understanding had deepened. Writing this book took perseverance and led me to twenty-three insights about turning negative choices into positive results. I offer my story to remind you, and me, that our prisons are often self-inflicted.”

Second Chances, by Chuck GallagherIf writing a book can change a life, then pouring my heart and soul into Second Chances was an act of love that will bear fruit that I will never see…but that nonetheless is bountiful.

Tara: What publishing options did you consider?

Writing a book is one thing, but how that book will be published and distributed is quite another. Honestly, the concept of mainstream publishing was not an option for me. Unless you have a name or large tribe, mainstream publishers aren’t interested.  Therefore, the only logical option was some form of self-publishing.

Tara: Why did you settle on the option you chose?

The idea of maintaining ownership of and content control was appealing to me. While I went with a local provider of self-publishing services, the second edition was published through Createspace (an Amazon company) and through BookBaby. Both allowed easy distribution in both eBook and traditional print publishing. The simplicity of getting quality material to market is quite amazing and since I am responsible for the sale of my books, the easier the better. Both avenues have been outstanding.

Tara: How easy was it to get your book done?

The initial phase of writing Second Chances took me on a journey that lasted three years. Once the initial draft was complete, the project took on real and valuable form with the inclusion of a qualified editor.

As a side note, far too often I see people get so caught up in their story or their writing that they fail to secure the services of a professional editor. I can say with great candor that my editor challenged my assumptions and that the book that finally emerged was far better than the manuscript that he initially received. That taught me a great lesson. Use a professional who gets your voice, but will be willing to challenge you to make your product (your book) the best it can be!

Tara: How did you distribute the book after publication?

“How are you going to sell your book?” That was a significant question that I was asked along the way and the one thing that I caution most authors to examine.

For me, as a professional speaker, I knew that the majority of my book sales would be “back of the room” sales at seminars where I was invited to speak.

Distribution of the book would most likely be: (1) paperback copy at the back of the room; (2) through Amazon and (3) via eBook (iPad, Kindle and to a much lesser degree Nook).

Tara: How are you marketing and promoting your book?

Book marketing is 100% me. I sell the book from me to consumer. I sell the book in bulk to organizations I speak to as a “leave behind” for their people and through social media outlets from shameless self-promotion. (Actually selling your book is far from shameless.)

Tara: What’s working best for you to generate sales? Are there things you’d recommend avoiding?

You are your best sales person. Unless you’re an established author, the reality is you are expected to sell you! The one thing that is annoying to me are those who promote their ability to help you sell your book, when in fact they are more interested in selling that concept to you.

Books are bought because people feel that they will be better off because of their purchase. So the question you need to ask yourself is: What problem do I solve for the buyer?

If you can’t easily answer that question, you’ll have problems selling your book.

Tara: Which social network do you use the most and why?

Facebook for broad-based consumer connection and LinkedIn for impactful business connections.

Tara: If you had one piece of advice for someone thinking about writing a book, what would it be?

Be clear about who your audience is and what problem your book is positioned to solve.

Let’s be clear, you won’t make a fortune from selling a simple book. Rather, your book gives you credibility that can propel your career (speaking, coaching, consulting) forward, which is where the more lucrative fees are found.

Who’s your audience, what problem do you solve, and how will you position your thought leadership (through writing your book) to help you capture that audience in a way that moves your career forward.

Answers to those questions represent the key to success in book selling.

Want to learn a little bit more about Chuck? Check out what he has to say about Business Ethics in this great video.

What’s Your Social Selling Index?

Do you use LinkedIn as a means of building your business? If so, LinkedIn’s new Social Selling Index (SSI) may be of special interest to you.

You might have heard the term “social selling” before. But if you haven’t here’s a quick definition.

Social selling is when sales people use social media (LinkedIn especially) to interact directly with their prospects. Sales people provide value by answering prospect questions and offering thoughtful content until the prospect is ready to buy.

LinkedIn’s new Social Selling Index (SSI) measures the 4 key elements of social selling.

  1. Establishing your personal brand by completely filling out your profile and sharing content regularly through status updates, blog posts and engaging with the content of others.
  2. Finding the right people to add to your network by using available search tools to identify better prospects in less time.
  3. Engaging with insights LinkedIn provides, so that you can discover and share conversation-worthy content so that you can create and grow relationships.
  4. Building relationships to strengthen your network by finding and establishing trust with decision makers.

Your profile is rated daily based on each of these elements to give you a score, as well as recommendations for improvement, and an idea of how you rank in comparison with others in your industry and network.

To view your own SSI rating, visit your Social Selling Dashboard on LinkedIn.

You’ll see the breakdown among the 4 different elements, with scores for how well you’re doing with each. A perfect score is 25. If you have anything lower in a given area, it means there’s room for improvement!

Need some help figuring out how to improve your score? We offer two LinkedIn Mastery courses on Udemy, one on Creating an Awesome Profile and the other on Growing Your Network.

You’ll learn enough in these two courses to significantly shift the needle for all 4 elements of your SSI rating.

And for our readers, we have a special offer good through the end of August.
Use the coupon code “SSI2015” to receive 25% off of either course.

Creating_an_Awesome_Profile_course_listing Growing_Your_Network_course_listing

If you find that your SSI isn’t as high as you’d like, consider taking these courses, ask questions in the Discussion area, and let’s see if we can’t improve your SSI.

Happy Networking!

5 Steps to Success in Social Marketing Your First Book

”This is the first time that I’ve offered someone a Featured Author interview with whom I had no prior relationship.

Victor Prince headshotHowever, when Victor Prince reached out to me last April to see if I might support his book launch in mid-July, he did everything exactly how I tell my clients to do it.

  • He provided plenty of time.
  • He explained what his book was and why it was important.
  • He shared with me what he was offering to do.
  • He told me clearly what was in it for me, as well as for my readers.
  • He made it clear that he was willing to bend over backwards to make the whole thing as easy as possible on me.

Victor had reached out to me, I believe, because I’d co-authored a book in the same niche as the one he’s releasing, leadership. His co-author, Mike Figliuolo, had even endorsed it.

And while Victor’s original vision for how we might collaborate wasn’t exactly what fit my needs, I was impressed enough with how he was conducting his book launch outreach efforts that I asked him to share some insights with my readers.

So, here’s what he had to say… [Read more…]

Remembering What It’s All About

A friend shared a video on Facebook this morning that I found particularly inspiring. Although she shared it in the context of a responsibility that speakers have, the same message applies to authors, to coaches, to artists and to those who stand in a public spotlight sharing their thoughts and ideas with the world, in whatever medium them use.

For some creatives, we get caught up in the process of creating. Passion for our art fulfills and sustains us, and that’s enough.

The problem is, that’s a very self-focused view of what we do.

For other creatives, there’s the ego-boost that comes with having our work recognized, whether through awards or rampant sales.

And once again, it’s a very self-focused view.

That’s not to say that we ignore the business aspects of what we do, because we do need to earn a living in order to keep creating. There’s no two ways about it, unless you’re independently wealthy already.

However, we also have a responsibility. And the success of our business and the reception of our message, no matter what form it takes, can only be assured when we remember who we’re doing it all for.

If I cook a meal that looks delicious, but tastes awful, what have I accomplished?

We need to always remember the experience that we’re giving our audience. They are our customer, whether they’re paying for the experience or not.

It doesn’t matter if, as a speaker, I have an audience of 2 people or 2,000. I have to give the same performance and imbue my delivery with the same energy, because those 2 people deserve my very best.

Quality counts.

I don’t care if you’re self-publishing a book, choreographing a dance piece, giving a presentation at work, performing on TV, coaching a new client, or whatever other unique skill and talent you have to share with the world.

If you don’t take that responsibility seriously, you may as well not do it at all. Or at least, don’t try to build a business around it.

If it’s about you, it’s a hobby. If it’s about the person who’s going to experience what you have to offer, you’ve got a business.

Care to see the video that got me all fired up today? 🙂

Jamie Fox and Steve Harvey

Animoto’s 2015 Video Marketing Cheat Sheet [Infographic]

According to a recent study by Animoto, more than 7 billion videos watched each and every day on Facebook and YouTube.

You can read the press release about the Animoto Online and Social Video Marketing Study to learn more.

However, one thing is clear…

If video content isn’t part of your marketing strategy, you’re missing out! And Animoto is a great way to get started…

Consider this:

  • 4 times as many consumers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it.
  • Customers are nearly 50% more likely to read email newsletters that include links to video.
  • 4 in 5 consumers say a video showing how a product or service works (or what it’s about) is important.

Remember, your book is your product. Your name is your brand. You are your company.

So, how are you going to use video to promote your topic? Share in the comments below!

”2015

Wondering What Theme or Plugin that Site Uses?

Have you ever looked at a website and thought to yourself, Gee, I wonder what plugin they’re using for that? or Wow! I really like that theme. I wonder which one it is?

It doesn’t matter whether you have one website you maintain or scores of them, we all look for inspiration from other websites we like.

The Old Way of Doing Things

Does this story sound familiar to you?

I found a website that did something I liked, but I had no idea what theme or plugin they were using to do it.

So, I right-clicked and selected “View Source,” then scrolled through the source code, hoping I might recognize the part that provides some quasi-identifying information.

Once I found it, I’d Google it, and then try to figure out which of the search results was the one I wanted.

If I was really lucky, after a few minutes, I’d find the right one and I’d be happy.

But if there was more than one thing on the site I liked, I had to go back and repeat this process for each element I wanted to identify. [Read more…]