The RIGHT book at the RIGHT time, for the RIGHT readers…

I was talking today with someone about writing a book about a tough subject, but one that could have lasting positive – and maybe a few negative – repercussions.  For her, writing the right book, at the right time for the right readers, means a book that gets attention.  A book that inspires change.   A book that is hard to walk away from.  It’s about writing what needs to be written – and sometimes it’s not always the one you think is burning to be written.

Last week, over brunch on a Sunday morning, I talked this over with another author I’d worked with last year, who mentioned that her business coach discussed this with her, and they both agreed, that her first book was the one that has had the most impact, and means that her next book – the one she originally thought she should start with – will have a lot more impact.

You see, you have to be willing to put it out there as to why what you want to say  what matters.   If you just focus on sharing the wisdom without the story that goes behind your gaining that wisdom, it’s potentially not going to have the same levels of connection for the reader.  Readers like to know that you have the right to share and give advice.

About 20 years ago, I was adviced by a colleague to read Anita Broddicks book about The Body Shop.   He felt that because she was a dynamic woman in business, and he viewed me as having similar potential perhaps, that I’d get a lot out of it.   As I respected him and his views, I brought the book and ploughed slowly through it.  Then decided never to read it again.   She was not a single mother, working like a trojan to raise kids, pay the bills, survive the chaos and loneliness  of an existence that I was enduring at the time.   Her kids had grown, she had a husband, and money to put into her dreams.  All things that were unrelatable for me.   I wanted inspiration from someone that had walked my journey, and could give me hope that I’d survive beyond next month.

If you wish to inspire, provoke, lead changes, become a recognised author-ity in any area, you have to earn the right to the respect of your readers, your fans, to ensure that they get who you are and why they should care about what you’re banging on about.

It really is that simple.

So how do you know if what you want to write is the right book for now, for what you want to achieve?

First, identify what it is that you are really aiming for.  It may not be quite what you think.  For example:  If you’re going to write about leadership, how can you demonstrate that you get the kind of leadership that YOUR readers want to learn about?  Ahh, so who are those readers?  The real first step is to identify them.

I’m currently about to launch ‘That Sex Book’.   It’s a sassy little number about having great relationships, dating, and excellent sex for over 50 year olds.  It’s for predominantly straight single women, aged 50 – 75.  It’s intended to give hope, discuss ideas, and share some of the funny and interesting stories about these three things.   Yes, married people will maybe read it too, and so might some from the LGBT Community.  Some men will also read it, I’m sure of that.   But the people most likely to buy it and read it and share it are those outlined above.  So I’ve ensured that as I’ve written it, I’ve kept Sally, the 55 year old, sassy attractive, single for the last two years, friend in mind.    I’ve also considered that Janet, my married for 40 years, still sexually active friend is also going to enjoy reading it, and might share it with her husband who will laugh and perhaps recommend it to his best mate too.

I’m possibly going to be asked by any interviewers why I have not gone into more detail about some aspects of sexuality for the LGBT Community but quite simply, that’s both not my primary market and also it’s a demographic I have very limited personal experience with sexually.

No one said you have to write a non-fiction book that is only about facts and ideas.   You can write any kind of book you want to write, because it’s YOUR book.   You don’t get to ask a new parent why they decided to have children with blue eyes instead of brown.   It’s just how it worked out.    Write the RIGHT book at the Right time for the Right readers first.  Open them up to who you are and why you care, so they know why they should care too.

 

If you want more on how to develop this skill of the right book, right time, right readers, please check out the details for the Online Idea to Author-ity Course Here

 

Preparing Your Book for the Editing Phase

If you’re selling a car, you are likely to wash it, clear all the junk out of the boot, and wipe down the dashboard, vacum even under the seats, and ensure you’re going to get a good price for it.   If you are selling a house, then you’ll likely fix those irritating little dripping tap and sqeaky floorboards, paint the spare room, and maybe replace the curtains in a couple of rooms, right?

Why do you do this?  It’s not only because you want to present your car or house in it’s best view, but because you know those things need doing, and so you do them, because you know there’s maybe a little more money to be made by doing so.     When it comes to getting your manuscript ready for an editor to go through it, you need to think like you’re selling your house or car.  The things you know are there that need fixing and can be taken care of by you, will translate into two things:

  1. A lower fee charged by your editor for him or her not having to take care of the obvious tasks.
  2. A little more respect from your editor for your having taken the time and made the effort to present your manuscript as ready for them to work their magic.

Why are these both so important?

If you check with your editor and /or publisher before the professional editing phase about things like use of ” or ‘ to show dialogue, UK Evs US English, various spellings of some words, how they like to treat footnotes, indexing, or references etc, you are going to save perhaps hundreds of dollars invested in their time and efforts by their not having to change simple things.   Some things you can even line up on with your editor or publisher from when you start to write.   This will also save you a lot of time to get right at the start.

Your editor needs to be able to focus on the sentence structure, the content that flows, the parts that don’t work, and the things that don’t make sense.   That’s what you use an editor for.   However, every editor I know  – and I’ve worked with quite a few now –  hates having to do simple and obvious corrections all through a manuscript – it slows down the process considerably. And can be frustrating.

Having your editor respect your efforts to get your manuscript ready for them, means they are more likely to love doing your editing, and given how much reading they have to do for a living, having them love your work just makes for a better relationship all round.   And that’s worth having don’t you think?

Your editor should be part of your team – work closely with them and you’ll find your writing improves signifiantly over time too.

 

Happy Writing…

 

 

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 nuch 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.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

The Importance of Book Reviews – Why and How

Guest Post by Jeanne Felfe, Author of the Booklife Prize 2017 Quarterfinalist novel The Art of Healing

After you read a book, do you leave a review in at least one place: Amazon, Goodreads, Kobo, B&N, Net Gallery, skywriting, etc? You can usually leave a review anywhere books are sold online, regardless of whether you bought it there. In 2015, I decided to leave at least one review for every book I read. Why? Mostly because I had to honestly ask how I could expect readers to review my books if I wasn’t willing to do the same. I keep track of the books in a simple spreadsheet—title, author, genre, date read, quick thoughts, where reviewed, and how I know the author (in real life (IRL), Facebook, signing, etc.)

Why is it important to write reviews?

Bottom line—reviews help readers decide which books to spend their money and time reading. I always read reviews prior to purchasing, especially if it’s by an author I’ve never read. Reviews provide genuine feedback that helps me allocate limited resources. By reviewing books you’ve read, you can have a direct impact on convincing others to also read it (or not). Word-of-mouth plays Continue reading

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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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

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

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

Book Stores and Online Stores – The Difference Down Under

If I had a dollar for every time I was asked one question back in 2010, I’d have retired already. That question was, ‘how do I get my books on Amazon?’

Back then I’d usually answer with, ‘Why Bother?’

The bricks and mortar stores in Australasia were still selling books, albeit, not terribly well. However, many were closing, and most had diversified beyond selling books, and had ‘warehouse sales people’ behind their counters, many of whom were far from passionate about books, and were unable to be of much help if the requested book by a customer ‘wasn’t in stock or on the computer yet’. Add to that, due to the sheer volume of books available, book store owners and managers were simply challenged beyond believe to know what might be worth stocking and what might gather dust and end up heavily discounted a few months later. It was hit and miss to stock shelves, and Indie Authors missed out most of the time, as much due to the quality of their books, but also due to the lack of sales channels that led them easily to get their books noticed by buyers.

Amazon was equally challenging back then, because due to their own internal rules about needing to have enough stock on hand to supply orders quickly, the warehousing of books and distribution channels meant that if you didn’t have some kind of managed warehousing of your books based in the northern hemisphere, you would likely be rejected by Amazon anyway.
Forward to 2017 and all the rules have changed. Now, it’s easier than ever to upload your books to Create Space, Ingram Sparks, Barnes and Noble, Nook, Kobo, Kindle. E-books can be sold via Kindle within minutes of being uploaded, and Create Space can fill orders within days of your setting up an account.

The quality of print on demand is outstanding, and the need for warehousing hundreds or thousands of copies of your books has gone. No more expensive outlays for authors to stock printed copies, fulfil their own orders by lining up at the post office. The royalties are paid when and as expected, with full reporting functions built into all of the platforms available to sell on.

So, what’s the problem with all that?

Ignorance mostly.

Authors are still struggling to know what to do, how to do it, and the learning curves around uploading can be fraught with deep time-wasting pits of despair. It takes time, and a lot of reading the fine print and understanding the process to do your first upload onto either Create Space or Kindle. Working out how to price your book, determine the best categories and why this is important, and even understanding the special ways that Keywords work for or against your book’s success takes time and knowledge.
Unfortunately, the average newbie author often does not see the value in paying for expert help, despite the fact that they are now saving significant amounts on the production and printing of books. And this is the one thing that needs to change for authors, especially in Non-Fiction genres. Getting armed with the knowledge needed to do this well, is as critical an investment in publishing a book as editing and cover design is.

Being an author is time consuming, often for low returns, and yet is one of the most creatively rewarding things a writer can do. Seeing others benefit from your shared stories, wisdom, experiences is priceless and getting those reviews that mean you know you’ve contributed valuable knowledge to someone anywhere in the world is heart-warming to say the least. Getting those checks from Amazon is also pretty exciting. But if we’re all going to do it well, and ‘ace it on Amazon’ we have to start approaching the technical ends of publishing. That means paying for expertise sometimes, just as you would for social media specialist work, and design skills.

In 2018, I challenge all authors to up-skill – not by diversifying their studies across too many publishing topics, but mastering one or two necessary areas, and sharing that knowledge with others. That will still keep the overall cost of successfully publishing down to an acceptable level for most indie authors – and make it even more viable to pay for the specialist areas you need to dive into occasionally.

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