Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Reluctant Web Master

"I will never design another Web site," I told my friend, Felicia, after I struggled though creating mine for Words To Live By and hers for Amazing Journey. Let me say at the outset that neither of these sites is going to win awards for originality or razzle-dazzle. That is OK with me. was intended to introduce my new book and make it possible for people to buy it. Like most basic sites, it includes the book cover, the author's photo and bio, a description of the book, testimonials, and order and contact information. To those I added links to to my main Web site, blogs, a media center, and other books I've written. Felicia's turned out to have even more pages than mine.

"I am not a Web designer," I insisted when my friend Marti asked me to create her site. She was crestfallen; I gave in. She didn't want anything elaborate, she said, which was a great relief since "elaborate" is not in my limited range of abilities. The result was

What had not occurred to me was that designing these sites was the easy part of the process. Once they are created, they must be set up with a Web host and uploaded to a remote server. This involved a dozen phone calls, numerous user IDs and passwords, and navigating through a maze of directories and mysterious folders.

I confess that, while I am up to my eyelashes in computer technology, none of it comes naturally or easily to me. That I succeed in any my endeavors is something of a miracle; but with the help of Verio's amazing techs, my personal Web and Mac gurus, and just sheer tenacity on my part, somehow things come together.

I don't know exactly how I came to be the "Web master" for four Web sites, but in the wacky world of creative entrepreneurialism, that has become my newest set of responsibilities.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Deciding where to put my most precious resource—TIME

In my June 14th post, "Ready Made Marketing Plan," I explained how I constructed my plan for Words To Live By. I wrote:

"In the Promotion section of
How to Write a Nonfiction Book are many suggestions for letting potential readers know about your book ... 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."

The result was a very ambitious document—more a wish list than an actual "plan"—and, even when I wrote it, I never thought I could do every single thing on the list. I have a friend whose book came out at exactly the same time as mine. We had a book launch together, which was a delightful experience. We both sold several books. Then, I went back to work, and she went back to marketing her book. Comparing the amount of time each of us put into promoting our books forced me to sit down and reassess my priorities.

It's all about resources, especially the most finite of resources—time. How much do I have, and where do I want to spend it? I know. I have the same number of hours and minutes everybody else has. It's an old, well-worn argument, so I will spare you the calculations of exactly how much that is.

Even if we subtract the time we sleep and do all things involved in simply living, we end up with roughly the same amount of disposable time to spend as we choose. In my case, I can spend it marketing my book or marketing my business. Or, I can divide the available time in half or some other fraction, and try to do both. My strategies for marketing my book are as follows:

  1. Increase my visibility and credibility on line
  2. Increase my visibility and credibility off line
  3. Drive traffic to my original Web site,

When I first developed these strategies, they were in no particular order. Now, I'm wondering if they should be. Which one is most important? The answer is definitely number 3. Numbers 1 and 2 should contribute to 3, because 3 is the way I earn my living. is all about helping authors by writing their books for them, guiding them through the book-writing process, or editing what they have written.

So, when I ask myself what takes precedence, it has to be my business. I love my book; and I want to let people know it exists, why they should read it, and where they can buy it. But that effort is a means to an end, not an end in itself. I teach people how to write books, but I always remind them that money is not the best reason to do it. Very few authors make enough from a single book to support themselves. It's sad but true.

This has been a one-woman exercise in brainstorming, which is often what blogging is all about. If you are reading this, you may be asking yourself similar questions. There is only so much disposable time in our lives. Where do you want to spend yours?