A Good Book is No Longer Enough

It used to be that you could write a  book and stand out in your market because you did it.  You are an author, and therefore a cut above the others in your field who had not done this magnificent feat of getting themselves published.

It used to be that having a book with your name on it – even if you had to share that cover space with other co-authors – would be enough for you to command a slightly higher fee for your services.

Well the rules have changed.   It’s no longer enough to just have a book, to be an author, to have something published with your name on it.  Now, your ‘average’ quality publication is competing just as hard against every other publication out there.   You see the rules have changed because it’s now so much easier for everyone to compete in the same space that the cream rising to the top is now having to be that much creamier than the rest.

Find out how this affects you here Continue reading

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Writing a Good Book Takes a Team

It takes a whole village…

Writing a book is not a ‘one-man’ job, and if anyone tries to tell you differently, they are wrong.  In fact, the ‘writing’ part is only a part of the process  and even that is team effort.  Now for anyone reading this so far and thinking, ‘Hold the Phone… I am the writer of my own words’ this is not a debate about all writers are authors and not all authors are writers*.

Let’s take the writing part of the process of writing a book.

When you are writing a good book, the primary writer is the person who sits at their keyboard and creates the story or commits the information to paper/computer and in that way he or she writes the manuscript.

A good writer will then use readers (often these are friends, family, or colleagues) to give feedback and help them to hone and refine the content.    Then the writer is able to fine tune the manuscript to the point where they can hire the services of a professional manuscript reviewer who will help the writer apply the final polish to their manuscript. 

A professional manuscript reviewer will help the writer apply the final polish to their manuscript.

An editor will also be engaged to ensure that the manuscript is very reader-friendly, suited to the audience the book is being written for, and is ready to publish.   In some cases, a very robust system of writing under the care and guidance of a book writing coach may diminish the need for some levels of editing.

When the manuscript is finally ready for publishing, a proofing editor will be required, reviewers who can endorse and recommend the book will be sought out, a cover designer, internal typesetting services, and printing services will be needed to get the book into the finished product.  If you are also preparing the book for online publication, you may need help to ensure the book is eBook ready and uploaded to the appropriate channels.

Finally, you need a good Public Relations plan and the help of professional marketing people to ensure your market knows about your book.

A book shepherd helps the writer work through the whole process from start to finish and engage the right people along the way to do their parts and take the guesswork out of the process.

A book shepherd helps the writer work through the whole process from start to finish and engage the right people along the way to do their parts and take the guesswork out of the process. 

Many books make it to market without the help of a book coach or book shepherd, but I highly recommend using one of these as there is so much you won’t know as you start the journey of writing and publishing a book the first time.

It takes a whole village to raise a child and it takes a whole team to get a book written and published.

Who do you already have on your team and who do you need on your team?

*Some authors are not the writers of their own books and hire ghost writers to put their words together for them, and many writers choose not to be authors.   

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What’s Your Publishing Priority?

I was talking a potential new client this past week, who was in the midst of writing her first book, and very keen to work with me to get her book published.

“Hold on”, I said.   “What about getting it written well first?”

She was half way through writing, and had big ideals about working with a publisher who would magically want to publish her book and have it ready to launch in time for the 1st week of September (this year) as that date was of significance to the contents of her book.

I explained that this was highly unlikely to happen, and that even if self publishing her book, she’d need to have it written, edited, and completely ready to publish by late May or early June if September was remotely possible as a launching time frame to aim for.

My biggest concern with this lady was that she was only half way through writing.  Now while I know for certain that

it is possible to write and be publishing ready inside of 12 weeks

, assuming that starting from scratch by the 1st April, you could expect to be ready by the end of June, final editing and design would likely take up to six weeks (and that’s a pretty fast objective).  That’s still only allowing two weeks to print and prepare to launch her book.

You might assume that if she’s already part way through, writing this within eight weeks is entirely possible, and that my concerns are unwarranted.   However, experience has taught me this:

1) A first time author who is ‘part way through writing’ their book has almost always got a lot more writing to do than they think they have, and are likely to have put very little planning into their book at the start of their writing project.  This can actually have adverse effects as some undoing and/or extra editing is often required.

2) Books almost never, ever go smoothly from the writer’s head to the printed book on a set time frame, and the tighter the timing, the more chances there are of things going wrong.

I decided it was best that this lady and I part ways before getting too involved in her publishing project. Sometimes it’s best that way, and I don’t like setting myself up to fail on behalf of someone else with expectations that are somewhat unmanageable.

But I wanted to share this blog with you all, and remind writers that your highest priority is this:

Write a really good book.  Don’t cheat your book on time, give it the best of you you can, so that your book shines, and

this in turn will make the publishing process relatively easy

 and straightforward.

And if you need help with this journey, I’m here to support and guide you.

 

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Tips For Finding New Subjects to Write About

Every time I sit down at my computer, I’m nudged to write.  Write anything!  “Sure, that’s easy for you to say”, I quietly curse the insistent voice in your head that’s trying to urge your fingers to start working magic on a keyboard.

The challenge of using writing as a means of conveying your expertise to your market, is that if you are prolific in your writing intentions, sooner or later you might feel you are running out of new things to say

sooner or later you might feel you are running out of new things to say

.   New headings that are easy to work with as SEO headings only complicate this further.   Things that play through a writers mind are not limited to:  But what if everyone is already writing about that, how do I maintain some valid point of difference?  How will I know if I’m hitting the right mark with my words if this is a crowded market subject?  What if I’ve gone backwards in my abilities to articulate well, instead of growing with my subject?  And the worse one of all, What if no one ever reads it? 

I’m sure even great writers sometimes wonder – just as a singer must always worry that ‘this album might flop’ regardless of the 10 Grammy awards already won.

Perhaps the easiest way to assuage the fears of the expertise writer is to encourage new subjects that are well linked to the old ones in your repertoire.   Here are a few helpful ways to stretch your subject matter:

1) Take an old blog or article from about two years ago, note the main points only, put it away, now take those points and write a 400 word blog for each.   This helps to stretch your viewpoints and drill down into the subject further.

2) Write down three ways your topic has changed in the last decade.  For example. if your specialist area is leadership, how has social media impacted on leadership options.  What tools are available now that were not 20 years ago, and how has that changed  things in your industry.

3) What is the one thing, only one, that you most want your spouse, partner, child, parent to know about what you do.   Now write a list of 10 things.   Each can become a blog topic about aspects of your industry that you may not have thought about before.

4) What is one way you would like to see your industry type grow over the next few years, regardless of what the futurists are predicting.

There you have several means of identifying new material to write about that doesn’t necessarily take you ‘off-topic’ but does enable you to stretch your thinking about your expertise, and how you might like to share it with your market. Finding new subjects to write about might be only moments away from your imagination taking hold of them.  Research might slow you down, but it also might propel you forward into a new passion for your favorite subject. 

Finding new subjects to write about might be only moments away from your imagination taking hold of them.

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Beginners Guide to Writing Easy, Excellent Blogs

What makes a great blog?

ELEVEN Essential TIPs for  ExcellentI’ve just launched my latest book – Idea to Author-ity® which is essentially about How to Write a Book, publish and market it, and use it to become an author-ity in your industry.   And today I woke up to not one but three great articles and blogs in my inbox about blogging, creating content and why it’s important to have great content for marketing online.   Then, two of my Facebook contacts asked the question ‘How do you write a great blog?’

Now I’ve been harping on about blogging and the importance of blogging for several years now, and regularly read blogs, have written blogs, and more recently have studied intently the aspects of guest blogging from the great Jon Morrow – who offers a brilliant course on this and is quite simply one of the best bloggers in the world.   Check out Copyblogger for some examples of fantastic blogs by the way.

But how do you create a great blog? 

11 Essential Tips for Easy, Excellent Blogging:

  1. Have a purpose for every blog.
  2. Know your subject – don’t just write bland opinions.
  3. Make it relevant to what you do and want people to know about your expertise.
  4. Include links, and make these relevant too.
  5. Keep it friendly and personal – write like you are talking with a friend or colleague about your subject.
  6. Write it in basic language – so a 12 year old could read it – don’t pitch it at the level of an English professor.
  7. Less is often more – a 300 – 600 word blog is ideal, I usually aim for 400-500 words.   Less than 300 words is arguably a Facebook post, and 600 + is really a short article.
  8. Use a very good subject line – research this.
  9. Use good keywords in your blog that you’ve researched and know are what your market is using to fine your topic.
  10. Share your blog via your social media broadcast system.
  11. Read other people’s blogs – follow trends, and get to know who else is writing on your topic.

I also advocate not getting stressed on perfection – this is a blog – much like yesterdays newspapers, the life of each blog can be relatively short, (it gets lost in the mass of other blogs on the internet), and so having one or two typos in it are often highly forgivable.  That’s not to say you should not edit and check it carefully before publishing your blog, but the idea of a blog is that it’s short, easy, and straightforward to read, and to write.     Don’t spend a week laboring over getting it perfect – you could spend the same amount of time writing 3 more which will serve you and your readers better than having magazine publishable journalist quality writing.

 the idea of a blog is that it’s short, easy, and straightforward to read, and to write

My book – Idea to Author-ity® helps anyone identify topic, flow of content and plan for writing a book, but also helps to narrow down blogging content – or in reverse, to help you take your blogs or articles and turn them into a book.

If this beginners guide to writing easy, excellent blogs still has you feeling stuck, then you can do two things:

1)      Start – just practice and keep at it – the more writing you do in this style the easier it gets.

2)      Hire a blogger to ghost write for you.  There are a growing number of writers for hire online.

Writing a blog will help you market your store, products, services, expertise…  quite simply other people who are potentially your customers or clients want to know about what you know.  You on the other hand, have become so entrenched in what you do that you most likely find your field either boring or think ‘but everyone probably already knows that’.  Not so.  Think about the most common questions you are asked by friends or customers and make a list of those FAQs – this is your best blog topic list.

Happy writing everyone. 

Maria

PS – Of course the ‘Idea to Author-ity®’ book will also help you find and write your best tips and material.  Click here for details or to purchase today.

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Creating a Super Team

For the last three years I’ve been in the special position of working as an executive coach to a CEO who heads up a very special software development company.   It’s a role that’s now grown to include management of the marketing team that’s been created over the last year, and allowed me to observe the company growth at close quarters as it’s doubled in size during that time.

We’re aiming to become an eight figure company within the next 12 months, and with a great team in place, it’s easily achievable.  In April 2014 members of the company sales team from four corners of the globe joined up for a two day meeting in Brisbane;  it’s the first time the company has had this kind of gathering of it’s people.

One of the biggest things to come out of the mini-summit is that we are now well on our way to becoming a collaborative team working in a niche area, providing special solutions to very large companies around the world.   And the way we are getting there is by thinking right outside the box about how we do business.

Imagine This:

The business development team is based in Los Angeles, London, and Melbourne, the Head office and support team is in Hamilton (New Zealand), the sales and marketing teams are managed from Brisbane, with team members scattered from Los Angeles, Hamilton, and the programming development team is scattered throughout New Zealand.  Most of the strategic work, and management of implementations is done via Skype, Webex, and phone.  In fact, most of the clients are in the northern hemisphere, while most of the management and strategic, and development work is done from the southern hemisphere.  And it works!

This is perhaps not so unusual nowadays, to have a productive company growing at such a fast pace with relatively little face-to-face connection between all stakeholders.   One of the things that this allows to happen well though, is that by utilizing the global connections well, and being confident in the management of processes without geography getting in the way, the company is able to afford top quality people, not necessarily on a full time basis, so that the ability to maximize the use and affordability of the best teammates is exceptional.

It’s an exciting journey to be part of and now we’re creating a super team to ensure the best use of the best people, doing their best work to produce exceptional results.  But this makes me wonder about the way work/teams/business is changing.   Who is on your team making a difference because they don’t fit into a typical mold.  Maybe it’s a consultant, coach, part time and/or remotely located worker, virtual assistant, or strategist.  Maybe your best revolution waiting to happen in your business will come about by a select group of non-employees who work within your company as a super-team to ensure that the employees are able to fully maximize their skills and ability to deliver on KPIs.

Maybe affording the best people comes down to thinking beyond having expensive full time staff, and more independent consultants who can work with your people in different ways.

My challenge to you reading this is to think about how you could grow and develop a super team for your business using the best people you can afford to have, and not letting old systems, geography, and traditional thinking get in the way.

 

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Hey Mr Telemarketer… don’t call me Darl!

So I’m doing my morning ablutions, and with toothbrush in my mouth, hear my phone ringing in the other room.   Quick rinse, dive for the phone – expecting it to be a call I was waiting for – and the man on the other end of the phone starts blabbing on about having thought he was going to voice message.   Strike 1!

Then he introduces himself – sort of – and says he’s in the purchasing and fulfilment industry, and was there any chance I might be interested in some extra business.  Wary now, realising this is most likely a telemarketer, I pause and probably did the eye-roll thing, before saying, ‘tell me what you want to sell me’.

He then explains that the company he’s actually doing some work for at the moment is Bartercard (Strike 2!) and “would it be possible to have some time to talk with me some time Darl'”  (Strike 3 and OUT!)

I explained politely that I’d ‘absolutely no interest in Bartercard, and please don’t call me Darl!, and that in fact calling me that sealed the deal on my wanting to end the call…’ which I did.

Look, I understand that many businesses do rely on telemarketing, and that it’s not an easy job to do.  I also appreciate that there are challenges to that kind of job.  But what are we in – the 1970s?  ‘Darl’ is one of the most condescending terms anyone could use in any way when talking to someone in business. It’s second only to ‘Love’.   If I’ve not met you, befriended you, formed a relationship of closeness with you then you have no rights to call me anything other than by my name.   Period!

And if you use telemarketers to front your business, and they are using this kind of approach, then my advice is to invest in some training for them, as they are going to cost you business – not just today, but in the lost opportunities your reduced reputation causes you to miss out on.

 

 

 

Speaking is Part of Writing

One of the big things a lot of writers and new authors don’t understand when they are writing their first book, is that once the book is launched, then the hard work really begins.

I attended a full day event on Friday where one of the presenters really drove home the need for having a book as part of your marketing strategy – it was music to my ears, and a song I also regularly sing to my clients.  But – while a lot of people are starting to cotton on to the fact that a book is good marketing, there are two things most people do overlook.

1) You have to write and publish a GOOD book.

2) You have to be ready and willing to speak publicly about your book.

The days of having a publishing company get excited about your book and sign you up, give you a big advance on royalties, and arrange a million dollars worth of free publicity for you are long gone.  If you have written a book about a subject that you feel people need to know about, then it’s up to you to drive that publicity.  The easiest way to do this is to get out there and speak publicly and professionally about your topic.

There are a lot of ways and places to do this.  But the biggest challenge for many people to overcome with the idea of speaking publicly is nerves, fear of speaking, and lack of experience.  The good news is you can overcome these things.  The good news for your book is that if you do this, your book has a much greater chance of success than if you leave it up to social media, online marketing, and everyone else talking about your book to spread the word about it.

So do yourself a favour and adopt the mindset early as an author, that speaking is part of writing.

What holds you back from being a writer who speaks?

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3 Extra Tools for Educating Your Market

We all know that a website, brochures, and billboards (either mobile, fixed, or online) can be hugely useful when you want to get a message out to your market.  But what about using your ability to speak about what you do.

Here are three easy ways to communicate a big message to your market using your ability to present your message:

Free speaking opportunities

Don’t overlook the opportunities afforded you at BNI, Rotary, and other networking groups.  When you have a message to share, and you are able to secure 2 minutes, 5 minutes, or 20 minutes to be the guest speaker for the meeting, make the most of every single minute.  Plan a careful presentation that fits within the time frame you are allotted, have appropriate and relevant handouts ready to leave behind, and allow time for Questions at the end.  It might be a small group, but it could be a very engaged group.  

Speaking – seminar or workshop

If a quick freebie is not enough, then plan a seminar or extended workshop where you can fully share your expertise with invited, and often paying, attendees who are there because they want to learn from you. A seminar is easier to create than you might imagine, and well worth doing if you have plans to promote a coaching or training event that can  follow on from it.   Whether it runs for a couple of hours or a full day, plan it carefully, ensure you have excellent material, and then a good lead into what you want the end game to be.

One way to help promote your seminar or workshop is to enlist the help of colleages and associates to spread the word about your event. Using programs like Event Brite is a wonderful way to organise payments and extend the promotion of your event.

Webinar

If you are shy, don’t like to speak publicly, or prefer to work in your jammies, then you can easily create a webinar program. Just like live seminars, webinars take planning and you still have to present the content, but it’s all done using your computer and screen sharing options.  There are many programs available for webinars – my favourite is still “Go to Webinar” as it has excellent recording and screen sharing options.

The great thing about webinars is that you can record them and then share with people after the event in case anyone wants to review the content.   Of course you can also have these running in any corner of the world, with attendees from anywhere in the world.  You are also not restricted to the size of the room you hired.

If educating your market requires more than a just a brochure or commercial, then try one of or all three of the above options.  Once you see how easy these can be, you’ll be hooked on this extended form of marketing.

What’s holding you back from speaking about your business?

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Using Keywords in Content

Think about what you most want to be known for.   Maybe it’s leadership, maybe it’s customer service, maybe it’s for making the very best skateboards in he world.  OK – that’s the easy part.   But your website needs to know what you most want to be known for, so that you can attract the best traffic through the search engines. This is the tricky part.

1)  Search out your best keywords.   Not just individual words, but the kind of string that someone might use to search for you.  Let’s stick with the Best Skateboards theme for a minute.  Ok – are you ready for this?

Your keywords might include ‘best skateboards’ but also try ‘manufacturers of great skateboards’, or ‘who makes the best skateboards’ or even ‘great skateboard brands’. Think like a skateboarder…  are they likely to search up Manufacturers of great skateboards, or more likely ‘great skateboard brands’.  If you are not sure and you have a list of likely search terms listed in front of you, then you can use Google Keywords to narrow it down and identify the BEST terms to use in your marketing.

2) Use your best keywords in your content.   This includes writing those terms into the body of text you use on your page.  For example:

  • Not only are ‘Pioneer the makers of great skateboard brands, but we also service our boards too…   or 
  • When it comes to great skateboard brands, you have to know what it takes to create a product that…   or
  • Great skateboard brands like Pioneer…  

NOTE – (Pioneer is NOT a skateboard brand so far as I’m aware – this is an example). 

What you need to notice here is that you need to blend your keywords into your text, in a consistent way, but not in a way that makes if look like you have just repeated the same set of words over and over within the body of the test.  You should NOT write a page with a lot of repetition of your keyword sentence – it looks dumb, reads badly, and Google wont’ like it.   But you could take any of the examples above and write something like that on your home page… then perhaps another example on another page.

Mix it up a bit… and write like you’re an intelligent conversationalist, including your best keywords into your text, then ensuring these are also used in your SEO set up for the pages that have that text.

Do you struggle with identifying your best Keywords and how to use them in your marketing?

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