All Posts by admin

Cola or Champagne – service levels and what they mean

I work in an industry where a lot of people put their hands up and say ‘Oh I can do that for you’, or ‘me too’.  I’m talking about coaching – in any format, and regardless of speciality, there seems to always be someone waiting to offer their card, promote their services, and be ‘that guy/gal’ at the networking event.

For a long time Coaches have been compared with real estate agents and car sales people for their sheer enthusiasm when it comes to ‘I can do that for you’ style of pitching for business.  I asked my own coaching tutor who was a master practitioner at the time back in 2003: ‘If everyone wants to call themselves a coach, and there’s no legal or educational requirement that they be properly trained, then why are we (on the 2 year program I was on) working so hard to want to ‘be coaches’. She responded with a well considered answer:

“What you will do is bring coaching skills to the table when you do what ever  else you will do, and you will be significantly better at THAT because of it.”

My ‘that’ has turned into publishing, which for more than a dozen years now has meant that my business is all about helping others to write, produce, publish and market their non-fiction books – to a very high level of content and overall production quality.   And for me, it does not end with the finished product arriving on my authors’ doorsteps;  we keep working together to ensure the marketing and the fine tuning of the distribution and leverage opportunities is maximised for the long term.

I know that a lot of people are populating the publishing industry – expecially in terms of self publishing or Indie trade, with promises to help people write a book.   Others are then saying they can help print, design, format, edit, produce, or even get the book onto Amazon.

Yay!  And please excuse my cynicism – but there are a lot of these helpful people out there.   Sigh!  The terrible tragedy is, that as a result of many people doing a ‘good enough’ job, there is a glut of ‘barely average’ quality books all vying for attention in an overcrowed market.   In non-fiction books alone, under the category of Leadership, there are 100s of thousands of titles.   And it grows every year… as do all categories.

The Book Business is BOOMING!

While this seems to be the age of ‘fast and furious’ in many ways, from the demands for instant gratification for Gen-y’ers, faster internet speeds, faster travel, fast-track education options and even speedy restaurant services, when it comes to some things, you just can’t rush them.  In order to do the whole job, well, and achieve outstanding outcomes so that you really are standing out from the crowd in any busy market place, you must slow down and Get.It.RIGHT!

With books, you have to expect it’s going to take time to do a great job of writing, then publishing your work.  While I have also managed (once) to start and publish a book in under two months (with multiple authors contributing which in some ways helped and others hindered the progress) this is certainly not ideal, due to the increased chances of mistakes being made – errors than can ultimately damage the reputation of the writer(s).

There are a number of new companies out there all promoting what they can do for authors to fast trak their publishing journey – I think of them as the Cola beverage options; yes they’ll quench a good thirst, but ultimately put a lot of dirty sugars and chemicals into your system which can slow you down.    By comparison, a glass of fine wine or Champagne is to be enjoyed,  with others helping to drink it,  and if it’s of excellent quality it won’t give you a headache the next day.

I don’t like being the cause of other people’s headaches.    And while a quick ‘thirst quenching’ option might be a good one in some instances, a slow and steady team effort that is remarkable for outstanding results is surely a better option for professionals who are sincerely focused on having excellent books to support their marketing efforts.

If you are serious about writing, producing an excellent non-fiction book to position you as an authority in your field, and you really do know how to own that position, then please don’t undersell yourself by doing an average job of sharing your wisdom.  Your book deserves better and so do you.

Invest a little more, extra time too,  and enjoy a Champagne journey towards becoming an Author-ity.

 

 

 

 

Like it? then Share... thanks!

Key Words and Writing Descriptively

You wrote the book, and the back cover, and the marketing material, and even a great press release… and you’ve uploaded the book to Amazon, put some ads on AMS and Facebook, and then what happened… ?

Nothing.  Nada. Zip!

So you sat down and cried – because all that hard work seems to have been for nothing.  Right?

Wrong!

Maybe you just got the creative description wrong.

What might be missing is the description, being laden with great sharp-as-a-butcher’s-knife decriptive writing with seo keywords.  Maybe your heading is not done with an SEO Keyword Search Tool used to ensure it’s easily found by anyone doing a Keyword Search.

Do you see what I just did there? 

I used a number of relevant, descriptive keywords for SEO searching in the paragraph I wrote.   I also made the title of this blog post an SEO Keyword rich, descriptively written title.    And just to really drive home the point, I’ve also boldened the particular keywords I’ve used.

Let’s take a paragraph with two versions of the same information from the back of a business book.   One version is SEO Keyword rich, and the other just reads well.

If you’re seeking a new way to do business, and get more out of every penny you spend on marketing, you’ll find this book is a must read.  It’s loaded with resources, ideas, and clever ways to maximise your marketing and advertising, so that your strategies are better employed for improved ROI.

Get more ouf of all your marketing investments, and discover a better business solution through smarter marketing and advertising strategies.  You’ll find marketing tools and business resources and an abundance of  Return on Investment ideas that really work, and more.

Now clearly you wont want to bold up each keyword, that’s not the point of using keywords in creative writing, but you will need to ensure that a few key points are highlighted so that even the scanning reader will pick up on them.

The point being that if you do a lot more about ensuring your descriptions are well crafted so that more people find what you want them to find, your traffic goes up.

And if you ensure that y our creatively written descriptions are filled with hooks and enough bait on them to ensure the readers are inspired to take action (ie click and buy) then you will sell more books.

Some copywriters assert that the first lines needs to be very short, sharp and powerful, to then inspire the reader to get to the next longer and more descriptive text in the next paragraph.  The idea being that as the reach the end of the description they go BACK to the top or opening lines and that is what they have still jiggling their neuropathways as they then open the book to review the first few pages.  I am inclined to agree with this and am adapting my own descriptive writing for back covers to accommodate this line of thought.

It’s the hooks that make someone want to pull up a chair, grab a cup of coffee and keep reading.   It’s the seo keyword research that will help people find your book first.

I’ll write more about hooks next time… 

For now – just as we all need to do, it’s time to refine some of my keywords in the descriptions of my copywriting a little more.

Happy writing everyone…

Dixie

Like it? then Share... thanks!

NaNoWriMo and a busy November

If you’re into various author and writing forums you’ll be aware of this looming thing tht happens every year now called NaNoWriMo…  which basically stands for National Novel Writing Month. Its a global call to action for writers to pen a novel of  50,000 words within the month of November.

It’s a great idea and particularly helpful for anyone in need of  a jolt to their writing habits.  I for one am  very tempted as ameans of testing myself to see if I can do it – but then I am the competitive type.   And I know my habits lately have fallen a little flat in terms of dedicated daily or even weekly work on manuscripts.

And – while this is a site for Non-Fiction authors, the real hook here is that the better we craft our abilities to write stories, the better our non-fiction writing becomes.

But – I’m very torn by the idea of focusing what amounts to mayby 50-80 hours within November  – a busy time anyway for me – with a new project when I perhaps really should be focusing on projects I’m already committed to.

But what would I give up to do this? Facebook in the mornings?  Watching the news at 6 for a month?     How can I fit in an extra hour every day – maybe somedays two whole hours – to undertake drafting another novel.  Maybe I can give up reading for a month?

On the persuasion side of this conundrum, I have two stories that I really do need to write a sequel to and I know if I got going, I could bang the first draft out quite quickly.   I’m bothered mostly by the idea that if I really want to be a writer, I must write – and I know in my guts that I’m not doing enough of that.

If I joined one of the many groups who all focus on helping move the project forward and holding us all accountable I could get a lot out of that.  the NaNoWriMo official site has a great process and members all over the world.   Hundreds of thousands of authors all  writing together does sound like a brilliant project to be part of…

So what’s a girl to do?

Stay tuned…  I’m still deciding!

If anyone else is thinking about it and stillon the fence with the idea at this last end of October, maybe we should compare notes on what’s holding us back and what really is pushing us forward.      

 

Like it? then Share... thanks!

A Perfectionist’s Nightmare

“There are two kinds of people in this world… ” Well actually I think it’s more than that.  Let’s go deeper – there are two kinds of AUTHORs in this world – perfectionists, and every one else!

Authors who are perfectionists by nature, are always going to struggle with the concept of their books not being 110% perfect.   The more relaxed author (see I’m trying to be polite here) is quickly going to get the idea that their book is ready to pubish when it’s 95-99% perfect. In fact, they are likely to throw the word perfect out long before even starting their books, let alone at that critical final sign off time.

But seriously, if it wasn’t for the more relaxed authors among the population, then Amazon would have a lot more storage space.  Art galleries would have more bare walls.   Songs would never be performed live.  Because perfection and the desire to attain it are the killers of creativity.  And while it’s possible to have editors, proofers, and in some cases many of them and countless (literally – we can lose count sometimes) runs back past the final book before that green light is given to proceed to print, there is still likely to be an error (or three, four, five… you get the idea) in a book.

The reason for that is that editors, and proofers are not perfect.  Add to that Continue reading

Like it? then Share... thanks!

Publishing a Book is Like Having a Baby

For all parents who have been through that final stage of pregnancy, then the birth of a child, you know that sometimes it’s a matter of things not always going to plan right at the end.

Then finally, jubilation at the arrival of that new life, and the pain and anguish of the delivery are soon forgotten – well somewhat forgotten! 😉

It’s the same with books.   You can get right up to the wire, have everything ready to upload your book into Amazon, or send off to the printer, and then BAM!   A curve ball comes smashing through your plans and everything gets delayed.  For a few hours, days, or even a week or two.

This past week I’ve been busy with THREE books in various stages of release.  One was derailed  while uploading to Amazon Create Space because:

  • First the there were some unidentified errors that needed fixing.  And no, the editing and proofing stage is not always 100% – in face I’ve read books by some of the highest selling authors in the world that still have the odd error in them.
  • Then the page numbers for some reason kept ‘irritating the margins’ so they had to be fixed.
  • Then there were a few minor other wee things that needed attention, but were easily fixed, but still delayed the process.
  • The files were fixed but showing as still needing to be looked at, and we couldn’t figure out why.  But they seemed to come right once we just reloaded the (same) file.

And of course on CreateSpace, you have to allow for their own process of checking files before you can go further into the completion stages of uploading.

Another book – one of my own – was giving me grief at the final stage of uploading because:

  • First there was an issue with the inside cover page,
  • Then something wrong with the contents list, and finally the cover was not loading properly.   This was addressed by my asking the designer to check and resize, and he laughed and advised that it was definitely already the correct size. So back to the helpful people at Createspace, who advised that the cover was ready, which it wasn’t, and some flapping about with that debate, until suddenly it all came right.   We’re blaming technology and lack of caffiene on that one. 
  • Finally the ordering of the proof copy got stuck in the system.

Finally, one more book is so far seamlessly uploading, everything is going exactly according to plan – textbook perfect!

So you just never know exactly how the final delivery is going to end up.  

All you can do is trust the process, the helpful souls at Amazon – who by the way are brilliant when there is an issue – and that you will get there.

 

Like it? then Share... thanks!

Video – the Final Frontier of Fear Based Marketing

“Aaaahhhhhh!  No, I dont’ want to do video.  I would not like it here or there… with green eggs and ham… or anywhere else… Sam i Am!” 

That’s the phrase that typically runs through my head when anyone says – You have to start doing video.   I have avoided it like the plague for so long now, but finally, last week, I was told in no uncertain terms that enough was enough – camera shy be buggered, get over yourself and just DO it ok!

Ok, I quietly said in my head, but inside I was quacking!   Oh no – how am I going to get out of it this time?

There was finally no way out!   Why I think of video as fear based marketing has nothing to do with the reality –  sharing information visually with clients is not frightening for them – it’s just that for me, I’m fearful of doing it wrong!  Always.

Along came Grant! 

Grant from Focused Video is a young 30 something year old man who has had a passion for video and directing for years, and after a successful career start workiing in global corporate business, headed home to Queensland and studied towards his passion becoming his life’s work.

And the results of working with someone passionate, young, and enthusaistic is that even the hard stuff becomes easier.   And for me, the camera has always been my nemisis.  Grant made it not so scary.

It still took a couple of hours to shoot enough material for a three minute introduction I’m putting on my new website this week, and I was grateful for my past experience doing some video work, including TV interviews.  The ability to ‘get over myself’ was also enhanced by listening to an Amy Portfield interview the day before where she was talking with a veteran video based marketing specialist who reiterated again and again, that just be yourself, and remember that the audience want’s the information – and to not share that is ultimately selfish.

I finally got it.   

I applied the necessary war paint, memorised the script – which was actually partly a waste of time because we ended up going a lot further than what the script said anyway – and got down to business.

Grant also tried the questions and answers option – so that for a while we grabbed some footage of me just talking about what I do… more naturally and unscripted.  This gave me a chance to find my groove too.

And you know what?  No one died, the house didn’t fall down, and the sun still came up the next day.   I didn’t mess it up – although I did say a few bad words when I fluffed my lines – and we got the job done.

Sometimes it’s doing the hard work and putting our fears aside that enables us to make significant breakthroughs and find our voices.

I learned a couple of big things on Friday.

  1. It really helps to have expert help to get the job done.
  2. Using excellent tools for the job is absolutely necessary.
  3. Practicing, and writing down what you want to say clears the mind.
  4. Sharing your information can help others, so why hold back?
  5. You have to make time to learn and grow in your own business, and that means doing the things you don’t always love to do.

I’m expecting to not look as glamorous as Julia Roberts when I see the video – as much as I’d prefer to look like her.  I’m expecting to see me, and maybe me is the best person to be talking about me after all.

When it comes to promoting your work, your book, your speaking, and your programs, video is undoubtably unbeatable.  We all have to start embracing ALL the ways we can get better at getting ‘out there’.

What’s holding you back from writing that book, making that video, developing that training program?  I bet it’s not as hard as you think it might be, if you have someone to hold your hand through it, the right tools for the job, and an incentive to share your work.

PS – Video will be up next week…

Like it? then Share... thanks!

The Role of Your Pre-Launch Team

One of the things I keep going on about, and am often asked to explain further is the concept of having a great pre-launch team, or Beta Readers.

Who are they?

Maybe friends, family, colleagues, or other writers.  Maybe perfect strangers.  But often the best people to have on your team are fans of your books.  People who will give you  straight up advise and feedback about what they do and don’t like about your manuscript – before you publish it.  You can recruit fans in all sorts of ways, but mostly I get mine through my social media accounts.  When I’ve finished a manuscript, I post about it, and ask for beta readers.

These people may offer editing tips, and tell you about the many mistakes you still have in your manuscript, but taht’s ok.  Forewarn them they will be there for finding.  This process is usually part of your pre-edit phase.

Invite them to tell you what they do and don’t like, what they would suggest you add, change, or think about.   Invite them to review your manuscript formally with a letter outlining your expectations for their getting an advance look at your latest work in progress.  (If you sign up for my newsletter, you can obtain a copy of the beta readers template I use, among other resources available FREE on this site – just head to the bottom of the screen.)

Their Responsibility

You must remind them that editing and proofing is not what you’re seeking – but that all errors will be gratefully noted.  And invite them to look out for the finished version which will be published and available etc.   But also ask if they like the book, to please post a review on Amazon please.

And most of all, remember to thank them for their time and response.  You might put this into the acknowledgements, or send them a personal note, and a printed, autographed copy when it’s published.

Most of all, the value of having a good team of beta readers is that the dozen or so key readers – some people invite more, but I find that hard to manage – is that they are fresh eyes on your manuscript.  Even your editor and publishing coach can end up getting too close to your work to be able to step back and see some of the missing bits or overplayed parts easily.

Fnally, a warning.  You have to be thick skinned if you want real objective feedback.  You may not like the critiquing, but it’s worth having.  And then you will have additional writing to do.    But chances are you will also have a much better book as a result.

Like it? then Share... thanks!

It takes a whole village…

Who is on Your Team?

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.   See my other blog about Beta Readers Here

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.

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.[/pullquote]

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.   

Like it? then Share... thanks!

How Long Does it Take To Write a Good Book

How is it possible to write a book in one weekend?

I’ve recently been hearing about publishing coaches who offer to help people write a book in only 48 hours.   Intrigued I looked into this further and am surprised to find this really is a trend. However, having written, published, co-authored, and developed dozens of quality books in the last 10 years I can honestly tell you that there is a process, and it’s a reasonably lengthy one. Significantly longer and more complex than what can be achieved in under a week.

How long does it REALLY take to write a book?

Well some would argue that you can simply write a book by planning a few sexy chapter headings, dictate your material then give it to a publisher.  That does sound like a very good short cut way to become an author.  However the reality is that getting your content out of your head is only a small part of the process.

For a start, there are LOTS of barely average books hitting the market every day.  Millions of new titles are being released every year.   If your book is going to even see the light of day, it has to be good.  Your content has to be far better than average, well edited and reader friendly. Without these boxes ticked, Continue reading

Like it? then Share... thanks!

The Road to Retirement for Professional Experts

Here’s Why you can’t rely on having a job anymore! This is the age of freelancers and consultants and investing in becoming one might be your only option for a healthy retirement.

I have two sons. One works for a very large corporate industry and it’s hard to imagine his life ever taking a turn where he can’t get work.  Or for that matter, that his current job might ever become replaced by robots.  But as the old saying goes – yeah right!  Remember the last 30 years of privitisation, industrialisation, and mass redundancies despite fierce unionisation?  Not to mention the looming spectre of robotisation of just about everything we do…

My other son is talented, creative, works in a job that is typically transient, and service oriented, and he’s working on becoming a ‘something’ in the performing, creative, or entertainment industries.  And in my opinion, he’s the lucky one.

How is that possible?  Well, he’s in a great position to learn and enhance those skills that make it possible for him to earn from a multiple range of income sources, freewheel his way through use of his entrepreneurial skills, and live by his wits.   And while I do hope he is more than a smiling barista or struggling actor in his dotage, I know that the freedom he gets to enjoy while making flexible choices will be worth it for him.

But remember when we as parents all hoped for our kids to grow up, leave school, go to college, then settle into a nice long term job with a solid company offering good prospects for promotion?  The sad reality it that the entire world has changed, and this is no longer possible for most of the kids coming through the universities and tech institutes these days.  Plus, add to that the ever widening range of choices, and the temptation to jump from one career path to another while finding your passion is an added complication.

So – what is the best course for anyone concerned about how the world works and how that work might dry up faster than a puddle in the desert for this millennium?  Find out how to embrace all your skills market them, and your Expertise, Wisdom, Experience (EWE) and get some leverage on those.  And if Continue reading

Like it? then Share... thanks!

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)