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Writing in English – but what kind of English?

I’ve a personal preference for reading USA English, but grew up in New Zealand, and learned English based on the good old British based Oxford Dictionary.    Some of the forums I am actively visiting online have some interesting perspective going on around this issue as it relates to authors and what we write, and how we publish our work.   Primarily the issue of which version of English to publish in seems to be all around which country you most intend to market your work in.

If the bulk of your readers are USA based, then definitely write using USA English.  This means change most of your S’s to Z’s, lose most of your U’s, and some of your T’s.   For example:  Favourite, Omelette, and Antagonise become Favorite, Omelet, and Antagonize.   The reason for our language being so different is considered to be based on one Noah Webster’s decision once upon a time to ensure ourdifferences should be political as well as Lexically.   He went on to create the Websters Dictionary, and forced an ongoing divide in how we read and appreciate our language differently.

This means that when it comes to editing, our work as authors is a little less straightforward than we might want it to be.   This is because readers in each country have been known to be quite critical of errors in spelling when faced with too much of it.  A book that is not edited properly will be commented on, and often quite scathingly by readers.   Some will refuse to finish reading something that is too filled with errors – I have personally been known to discard a book half read due to frustration of grammar or spelling.

I believe a bigger issue comes about when one comes from places like Australasia or even other countries where English has been adapted further by locals over a number of decades and some rules apply to one style and some to another.   That’s when you get a complete mishmash of English and for many readers the inconsistency is the real problem.

What can we do about it?

Well for a start, use an editor who understands the rules, and appreciates the differences between each version of written English.  Decide which version you wish to use, and stick to that.

The value of a really good editor can not be underestimated.   While it’s more than ok for a blog to have a few errors of the grammatical variety, a book has to be better than that.   Why?  Simply because it’s going to be read by readers which much higher expectations of quality.  A blog is a quick item of information sharing, a book is a ‘book’ for goodness sake!   It has a longer life expectancy, and further reach than a blog.

Take the time to consider where your book is mostly going to be promoted, and decide on which version of English you will publish in based on that.   And then ensure your editor knows your intentions around this and has the skills to deliver on your expectations.

 

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The Critical Need for a Marketing Plan

What else are you doing?

So you’re writing regularly, and churning out lots of great material.  BUT  don’t fool yourself into thinking that is all you need to do.   You own your topic, right?  So that means being across multiple platforms.  These include WRITING, SPEAKING, being interviewed for radio, TV, and special online opportunities.   Pod casting, blogging, Webinars, and hangouts online are all part of the business you are in.

Do you know what is missing from your current business model if you don’t have all those things covered?

A marketing plan.

A simple plan that outlines where and what you need to take action on to ensure you GET NOTICED, by your ideal market.

Where you will be, how you will present yourself, and who you will be aiming to turn on with your information.  When this will happen, and why should anyone care.   Afterall, there are hundreds ,or maybe even thousands of experts out there in your space right?  So what makes you so special.

Ask yourself these key questions:

  • Who do you know that might be willing and able to interview you?
  • How many times can you get yourself recorded on other peoples programs this year?
  • Who can you co-create or collaborate with?
  • What else do you need to do to become more highly visible?
  • What makes YOUR particular stance on your subject matter so interesting to your market?

You might also need to consider the evolving style of your brand, and what is changing about your area of expertise every year.

If you don”t yet have a solid marketing plan, with time lines, and action points, please don’t consider going anywhere, or doing anything over the Easter Break without setting aside at least a few hours to think through these key questions.   Your business needs you to maintain regular focus on your marketing, and these areas are of the greatest concern.  And you can’t just create one plan and then hope that will see you through your entire business life.   This keeps changing.  Every year.  In some companies, the marketing plan is updated every 90 days.

Someone mentioned recently that an ideal business and marketing plan that takes a 10 year view, should then be considered as a ‘why can’t we do this in six months’ objective.   Wow!  Imagine that!   Six months to achieve a 10 year goal.   Can it be done in your business? Why?  Why not? Something to ponder for sure.

Here’s the other things to consider as part of your marketing plan:

  • Do you need new tools?
  • Do you want to update your look?  Logo, marketing materials?  If not now, then when?
  • Are you networking with the right people/companies to help advance your business?
  • Are you priced appropriately for what you provide?  Can you increase this now/later?  Why, why not?
  • Are you up to date with all your options regarding technology and how you use it?  Social media?  Is FB or Twitter still as relevant for you as it used to be or has the time come to do more on Linked In or Instagram?
  • Where are your customers hanging out now? Are there new or old platforms you can explore?
  • Can you get yourself onto the speaker list for conventions and training opportunities for your industry?

I strongly recommend you tackle some of this… every year!  Not every five years, and certainly not every decade.  This is the current stuff you have to keep on top of in your business for it to thrive.

 

 

 

 

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Write Your Book in 90 Days – Online Program Launch

Finally, we’re ready to launch the new How to Plan and Write your book in 90 days, using Dixie’s proven formula for authors of Non-Fiction.    This is the program where authors can work through the process I use for one-on-one planning, then writing and developing a manuscript.    Due to demand for my personal time, I just simply can’t clone myself to accommodate the demand for my time do set about last year developing this special program.

Please take  a look at this landing page – where you’ll find information about the contents of this program.

Retailing for three monthly payments of $97.50, it includes a special one-on-one coaching session with Dixie personally, to keep author’s on track.   A one-on-one coaching session is usually $250.00 – that’s a HUGE saving! 

We’ve been testing this program for months now and continually fine tuning the contents and delivery and we’re very confident that the program as a guided DIY option works really well for a fraction of what you’d pay for Dixie to personally work with you on planning, writing, and developing your Non-Fiction book.   There’s also two additional courses in development that will walk participants through the produciton and publishing phases and then the marketing, distribution and promotion phases of becoming an Author-ity Author.

Here’s some early reviews for the program:

This course is absolutely fantastic! I have utilised Dixie’s book coaching services in the past which took me from idea to a published book with excellent results. The 10 week DIY Author-ity Authors Program gives me all the tools and resources I need to take my ebook idea from concept to completion. The best part is, I can work at my own pace, but still have access to Dixie’s expertise whenever I need it. KD Forsman, Freelance Writer writingforcash.com
 
“I was blogged down with too many creative ideas. This made me stop, PLAN and restart with clear focused action. Easy!  Clear direction, planning and accountability – perfect for clearing your writing head-trash!” Sue Lester, Mindset Healer & Coach,

Check out all the details here:

If you have any questions at all about this please contact us - including options for becoming an affiliate and getting paid commission for directing other people to this program.  

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Here's the link again:

 

 

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How Authors Can Support Each Other Better

Authors I work with are Non-Fiction specialists, and most of them speak professionaly or do training as part of their regular work.  For them, books are part of their marketing collateral, and in some cases act as an extended business card, and in others, a giveaway or product to sell.   What ever reason anyone has for writing a book, it’s important to know that we as authors can support each other better, and really we must to this.   Because it’s easy for us to help ourselves by helping each other to greater levels of success as authors.

Here’s how we can do this:

  1. If you are part of a mastermind group, or belong to a support group or association, ask the other members to Forward Tweets, FB, and Instagram posts about your book – not just once, but two or three times.
  2. Ask them to be part of your reviewers group.
  3. ASK THEM to share your news about new book releases with their contacts – get the momentum building up.
  4. ASK THEM to please go into your Amazon listings and buy/review/post ratings on your books.

You may have to ask several times, but if we all got into the habit of doing this for each other, we can achieve a lot together.

Those are the basic things we can do for each other, but there’s more. Continue reading

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Six Easy Steps for Promoting Your Book From the Stage

I’ve just returned from Auckland, New Zealand, where I attended the extraordinary Global Speakers Summit of 2018.   While there, I connected of course with a number of high profile speakers, authors, and several extremely talented Game Changers working in their particular areas of expertise, determinedly changing the world one speech, connection, or radical idea at a time.   It was heady stuff being in surrounded by so many extra-ordinary people, and I learned so much in a short few days.

I have attended the GSS before, and also several of the GSS member country events since 2002.  What I find most fascinating about these events, is the fact that we all have quite varied expertise, and while many authors were there, just as many of them were in the dark about how to really make their books ‘pop’ from the platform.  So I’m going to share a handful of tips I was discussing with people this past weekend and hope you find it helpful next time you’re on stage and have the chance to Continue reading

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Why it’s not really just about ‘the book’

Before, During, and After your topic development – what you most need to think about:

I was talking with someone today about what comes first – the chicken or the egg… ok… the book or the speaking topic!

The issue is often a matter of priorities – and what you’re already doing.  What have you already invested in, and how is that going for you? If you are already a speaker, getting paid to share your wisdom from the stage then start with that, and refine your topic, work out the main thing(s) you want to share, with the audience you most want to inspire with your own wisdom, experience or stories.   And from there a book is an easy (and essential) addition to your marketing materials and back of the room merchandise.

If you are already writing non-fiction and want to become a great speaker, or just get more books selling then you need to be speaking to groups and larger audiences when possible to ensure your books are getting to the hands of those you want to inspire, beyond just seeing and hearing you speak.

Either way – they are interractive and essential parts of the whole.  You can’t be a speaker who doesn’t write, any more than you can be a writer/author who does not speak.  They just go together like, well… love and marriage… a horse and carriage – ok enough with the musical cliches, but you really need to put these things together firmly in your mind!

If You Have Already Started the Journey

“But what do I speak/write about?” I hear you say…  or “what if my topic changes between one modality and the other?”

Why not start with evolving where you are currently and getting into some serious planning about your topic first… and then you’ll know exactly which Everest you wish to climb!  For example, if you are already talking about leadership, or sales and marketing, how can you Continue reading

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Creating Down-Time to Feed Your Creative Spirit Increases Your Creativity and Productivity

One of my favourite things to do over the holiday season is to turn everything off.  No emails, phones, social media – nothing for a few days.   It’s THE easiest time of the year to ‘detox’ from all work related things.  And then… after a few days of lolling about in the sun (I live down under so Xmas in the summer) and I’m totally ready to plug into my creative brain.   And then … the MAGIC happens.

I always remind my self of just how powerful down-time can be when my creative juices are seriously inspired by taking a break from everything.   In fact, last week I ‘ran away’ for a few personal reasons, to the tranquility of the beaches in the extraordinary Cook Islands.  For those of you not familiar with the place, it’s a little north of Fiji, and south of Hawaii…    the middle of the South Pacific and OMG – so beautiful… anyway I digress.   The point is, that the calm waters, absence of friends and distractions, not to mention the delicious sunsets I was able to meditate on every day for a week was enough that now I’m fully firing all of my creative sparks and ready to start my next novel.

The magic happens when we unplug for a while.  Last week I also started reading Ariana Huffington’s book ‘Thrive’.   An excellent reminder of just what happens when we do things like rest, pay attention to our sleep habits, take naps, meditate, and focus on nurturing our selves properly.   My highest recommendation for something incredibly good to sink into over the New Year by the way…

While slowing down to speed up may seem counter-intuitive, it really does work.   Magic really does happen for us creative types when we take our eye off the deadlines, necessary work commitments and turn our phones and computers off for a few days.   Even a few hours is worth doing – and just sitting and focusing on … NOTHING!

Whether you meditate or not – and this is not a blog about doing that – finding thinking time clear from distractions is the single most important gift you can give to yourself.  As  a writer, I know that clearing the decks is the only way to ensure I get to tap into the best way to move forward on anything I’m writing.   So I do usually try to do this, but making a regular habit of it, is never easy.

There are some important steps to take to do this:

  1. Commit to a time or day and/or day per week when you just turn everything off and focus on … nothing.
  2. Consider when you are at your best in terms of the time of day when you can write, create, do and honor those times.  But just before then, try to get some thinking or meditation time happening.  You will be more productive – I promise!
  3. Schedule non-breakable ‘me’ time. Whether this is weekly, monthly, annually, daily – just create what works for you – the combination of options – and COMMIT to that.
  4. Keep an ‘inspiration’ journal or folder, so that if you ever do get stuck on your ‘focus on nothing’ time, you can gather some extra inspiration from there. Fill it with ideas, dreams, quotes, ideas… don’t just stick it in your bottom drawer – refer to it often as needed.
  5. Consider what rituals might support you in your quest for time out.   Lighting a candle, taking a bath, mieditaing at sunset or sunrise, walking on a beach, spring cleaning… what ever it takes, work that out and work with that!

When you feed your creative spirit with stress free time, your creativity goes up, your productivity goes up, and your income and satisfaction, not to mention your happiness levels all go up too.

So  – what do you have to lose?

Absolutely nothing! 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

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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

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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.      

 

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