Monday, June 14, 2010

Ready-made Marketing Plan

Assuming you have been following these blog posts since November 2009, you have now been through all six steps in How to Write a Nonfiction Book: From Concept to Completion in 6 Months. A recent post contained a detailed promotional plan with three strategies and a long list of tactics to achieve them. Before I leave this topic, I want to explain how I developed my plan.

I began with three statements.
  1. My book is about reflections on the writing life from a 40-year veteran.
  2. My ideal reader is anyone who works (or wants to work) with words in his or her life and career.
  3. My book's purpose is to motivate my ideal reader to take his or her career to the next level despite inevitable obstacles and setbacks.
The three strategies to achieve my book's purpose and reach my ideal reader are ...
  1. to increase visibility and credibility on-line
  2. to increase visibility and credibility off-line
  3. to drive traffic to

In the Promotion section of How to Write a Nonfiction Book are many suggestions for letting potential readers know about your book. The question I asked myself was this: Would those suggestions work with my strategies? The answer is YES.

Here's what I did: I copied and pasted the whole section into a new document, cut out all the superfluous words, and created a long list of brief, bulleted statements. Then I put each bulleted statement under one of my strategies. I admit the plan is long, and I may never get to everything. On the other hand, it is thorough and organized. While I can't guarantee that every tactic will work with your strategies, I think most of them will fit somewhere.

This approach will give you a good start on your promotional plan, and you can always cull the list if it is too long. If you haven't read the new expanded, redesigned edition of How to Write a Nonfiction Book, you might want to check it out.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The books have arrived!

I am looking at a carton of books on my office floor—eight-five copies of Words To Live By—the culmination of six months of effort and the beginning of at least another six months of intense promotion. This slim little volume (only 124 pages) has consumed my thoughts and much of my time since last November when the idea first struck me. Just in case you are a new reader of "The Writing Life," I will explain my motivation for going through every stage of planning, writing, publishing, and promoting this book on my blog. Besides feeling that it was time to write a memoir of my career, I wanted to demonstrate that the six-step process I teach really does work.

So far, I have learned more about the stages of writing a book than I ever imagined possible, despite having written many other books in the past. Here are only a few of the most recent lessons:
  1. Once I started, I became obsessed with writing. The book became of kind of "presence" that demanded every bit of the time and attention I would give it.
  2. From the first page, it became obvious I needed an editor; there was no way this book would have been anything by a rambling recollection without the steadying influence of my sister, Judy.
  3. Actually, I had four editors: Judy for content and style; Bobette for grammar and punctuation; Lois for final, microscopic copy editing; and Terry for one last look.
  4. There were dozens of decisions to be made along the way. The most important was choosing a professional book designer, Peggy Nehmen, which was a smart and absolutely essential investment. (Having gone through this process I know I will never again attempt to "design" a book on my own.)
  5. The road to self-publishing can feel like a confusing maze if you don't have a guidebook. I recommend Dan Poynter's The Self Publishing Manual, Peter Bowerman's The Well-Fed Publisher, and Mark Levine's The Fine Print of Self Publishing.
  6. Choosing a printer, publisher, or author services company requires research. This is often a case of not knowing what you need to know until after the fact. I had chosen CreateSpace before I heard Mark Levine speak and bought his book. Other than a few glitches, so far I'm happy with the results.
  7. Deciphering the instructions, links, and costs on a publisher's Web site almost drove me crazy. I registered for LightningSource but couldn't get through their layers of requirements. I finally gave up.
  8. Self-publishing does not literally mean alone. It takes a team of "professional partners" to accomplish all of the phases of writing and publishing a book. I could never have done this without my fabulous team, which also included talented writers who were willing to read the manuscript and write testimonials.
  9. What can I say about a printer's proof except read it several times, have it copy edited again, mark it up, make changes, upload a new file, and get another proof until it meets your standards. (Unfortunately, it will never be perfect, no matter how many times you read it .) I went through three or four proofs before I finally hit the button that said "Proof approved. Submit for publishing."
Of all of my books, I have to say this one has been the most personal and the most fun. It is also the most attractive, inside and out. I wrote it in less time than the the allotted six months. In fact at the end of six months, I held a published book in my hand. It is a small book—exactly the size I would advise a first-time author to write. I am excited about Words To Live By and very grateful to all of you who followed my progress since last November. Thank you providing the support every author needs to get through this process.