self publishing

How Useful Are Your Post-It Notes?

Board Image with Post-It Notes ID © Roman Milert | Dreamstime.com 2609687

ATLANTA – Written by M.L. Childs, Paranormal Romance Author, Screenwriter, Copywriter and Dramatic Historian

Do you use Post-It notes? I find them repulsive because even though they are meant to keep me organized, they end up looking like a bunch of colorful clutter with words on them that are obscure or obsolete once I go back to review them. Their original intended use may not work well for me, but I have discovered the perfect use for them within my writing process. I am currently working on the sequel to my novel, The Vital Sacrifice. I was pleased with the finished product of my first novel, but I admit that I wasn’t very organized in the writing process the first time around. Since I have many more books to research and write soon, I thought it would be a good idea develop a writing routine that I can apply to each of my projects so that I won’t get tangled up in the production process.

One way that I have planned to keep my book layout and writing plan on track is a technique that I learned in a screenwriting class. Excellent screenwriters (film writers) lay out their scenes using index cards. They usually lay the cards out on the floor or they may have a large cork board on which they pin the index cards.  This method of organization allows them to move scenes around easily if and when they need to make changes to the script before they start writing the screenplay.

While most screenwriters use the index card method, I have found that using the poster board and Post-It notes method is more convenient. I find this process very useful and satisfying because I can see everything that needs to happen in my book scenes laid out in front of me, similar to an outline. Unlike an outline, it is easier to move scenes around as I change my mind about the storyline. Also, having the Post-It notes on poster board is great because, as all you writers know, we need a change of scenery sometimes and this is a light, convenient thing to carry around the house or around the world.

I’m not sure what your approach to writing is but I usually start by laying my book out in acts or parts.  I create a Post- It for each of the acts and put those on the poster board.  From there, I start filling in scenes under each part.   I have moved scenes and gotten rid of them by just moving a Post-It note.  Once I am comfortable with all the things laid out in my acts, I then group scenes together to formulate a chapter.  But I loosely create chapters at this point because I don’t want to restrict my creative process too much. The goal with my poster board and Post-It note method is getting organized enough to avoid writer’s block.

How about you? What techniques do you use to keep yourself organized during the research and writing process? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Image courtesy of © Roman Milert | Dreamstime.com 

Advertisements

Characterization in the Book Marketing Process

 

Every writer knows how effective characterization is during the writing process but who has ever tried to use it during the marketing process?

I have recently been playing around with the idea of continuing characterization into the marketing process.  Using characterization during the marketing process allows fans to learn more about my characters’ lovable personalities.

One way that I do this is by creating make-believe identities for the characters using Pinterest.  Each of my main characters have a Pinterest board that includes what they like to do or like to wear or like to eat.  This allows fans to gain more insight into the personalities of the characters in my books — things that I can’t explain during the story because it would serve as TMI or “too much information.”  Creating a Pinterest board for them allows the characters to have personalities of their own and creates an interactive experience between the characters and the readers.  The characters “share” their favorite things which allows for fans to engage with the characters.  This interactive experience works well because Pinterest is not only digital display board but also a social media marketing tool that is able to lead followers to the boards I’ve created and eventually to the website I have listed on the Pinterest page and finally to my book sales page which is the ultimate end goal.

Below is an example of how one of my Pinterest boards looks for my character Anwar.  You can also click here to see more samples on my Pinterest page.

From the cover image above and the image below, a reader can discern that this character is into historical topics, particularly those related to Turkey.  I also created a blurb about the character which also includes his zodiac sign and other things about him that the book may not readily reveal.

 

As writing and publishing continues to change, so will the marketing strategies associated with book marketing.  It is no longer enough to be able to tell readers “Read my book because it is so good!”  That’s been everyone’s spiel for many years.   Social media is making visual interpretation much easier for just about every market and the writing industry too will become much more visual as it pertains to the marketing process.

What do you think about this technique and what other techniques are you using to encourage book marketing?  Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Ways to Attract Clients to Your Website Without Being Annoying

Image courtesy of Stocksnap

ATLANTA – Written by M.L. Childs

The game is changing in the world of advertising.  Gone are the days of using gimmicks and tricks to lure customers and in its place has come  an era of intelligent consumers who don’t want to deal with prestidigitation.  Now, there is a level playing field across the board and success lies not in flashy, cheap attempts at getting clients attention.  Success lies in using content not to sell – at least not at first – but to encourage a conversation.

Think of this new age of marketing just like a relationship.  If you went on a date with someone and the person had an agenda behind taking you on this date, then clearly you would not want to go on another date with this person.  This is what old marketing tactics look like – desperate attempts to get someone to do something they don’t want to do.  However, if a date showed up with no set agenda and only wanted to go with the flow and exchange jokes, get better acquainted and help you feel more relaxed, then you would probably want to keep dating that person to see where that relationship could lead.  New aged marketing is just that – taking time to build a relationship rather than going for ‘in for the kill’ immediately.

Keeping this in mind, here are some ways that you can personify your content to make it act as a relationship builder for your company rather than a complete waste of someone’s valuable time.

Don’t Even Think About Selling Anything

This command speaks for itself.  Remember the analogy about the date? If you have a preset agenda, then you go on the ‘date’ with expectations and clients can feel that desperation a mile away.  When sharing on social media, don’t create content that screams “Hey, buy me, please!” Instead, present intriguing information that serves as a hook that will make a reader want to click and continue reading on your site.

Provide Clients With Something That Really Is Helpful and Useful but Free

Keeping in line with the first suggestion, once the client arrives at your site, don’t lure them into a buying situation.  Make sure that what they link to is still the same helpful, free information that they were enjoying while on social media.  If they decide that they want to purchase after reading the article, by all means, provide a call to action that gives them this option.  However, don’t let the social media link lead to nothing but a “buy, buy, buy!” thirst trap.

Be Conversational With Your Tone, Not Prick-ish

That show in the 1980s, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, was a great show and the narrator had quite the pompous voice.  However, in this day in age, content shouldn’t have Robin Leach’s tone.  People don’t want robots or one-sided individuals guiding their buying process.  Entertain them, excite them, and let them get comfortable with your tone of writing, not be turned off by it.  Engagement is key and clients can’t engage if you have a pompous flair in your communication, even in your written communication.

Try a Little Humor

Have you noticed that once insurance companies started creating hilarious commercials, that everyone seems to want to create funny commercials?  Well, funny stuff is memorable and engaging. So, you can’t blame them for incorporating this approach.  When you are out on social media engaging clients, try to sprinkle in a little humor.  It just might make someone’s day and lower their guard enough to at least hear what you have to offer.

Use Quality Images

This can’t be emphasized enough.  But I want to emphasize that quality doesn’t just mean high resolution.  Make sure that your images are retrofitted for social media, too.  Keep in mind that images display differently across different platforms and you should go through the painstaking process of making sure that your posts are displaying images properly across the board.  Have you ever saw a great post on the phone but it displayed differently on a desktop?  Or, have you seen a photo on Instagram that looks quite different on Twitter?  Of course you have.  I wish that whatever image is posted social media retrofitted its own self according to that platform, but until someone creates such a plugin, you are left on your own to make sure that your images are displaying properly.

 

There you have it – five ways to be compelling enough to attract clients without annoying the heck out of them.  Stay tuned for more helpful tips on how to develop engaging content.  Join the conversation by commenting below and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Facebook @thescriptanubis.

 

Image courtesy of Stocksnap.io

How Can I Write More Intriguing Book Blurbs?

ATLANTA – Written by M.L. Childs

Can you imagine that only a little over 150 years ago, public access to books was virtually taboo? The first “public” library wasn’t even invented until the early 1850s and the Dewey Decimal System was created about 20 years later in the 1870s.  Nowadays, everyone and their mama, great-granddad, sister, baby mama, and cousins 3rd generation removed has access to books.  The information age is in full swing, and we are so inundated with words that we are almost sick and tired of them.

So with this being said, how in the heck can you make your 150-250 word blurb stand out so that you can sell your books?

Well, first you have to realize that this isn’t an easy task.  I’m not kidding when I say that garnering your market share of attention for your own work is going to be really tough in these modern times.  I’m sure that Mark Twain, Edgar Allen Poe, Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson – heck even Shakespeare – would have significantly benefited from the social media and other resources we have today to get the word out about our books.  But the world is operating at a much faster pace than during their times, and unfortunately, everything is competing for our attention so its very hard to stand out in an overcrowded marketplace.

And some of you may be thinking that you can just unload your wares onto a traditional publisher and viola, this solves all problems because they will sell your books for you.  Newsflash – THE BOOK INDUSTRY IS CHANGING.  So, this hands-off approach to your own success in writing is changing too.  The book marketing process is the most costly and time-consuming aspect of bookselling and most publishing houses know this.  As a result, if you don’t have the next killer book with the potential to turn Hollywood upside down and rake in billions of dollars from a franchise instantly,  then tossing your book over to a publishing house and wishing they will do all the work to make you successful is writing career suicide.  Bottom line – writers not only must write, but they also have to sell, too.  And with all this chaos in the marketplace, writing a damn good book isn’t necessarily going to make you a “best-selling” author, particularly if no one knows about it.

So here are some things that I believe can help make you write much more interesting blurbs so that you can better market and sell your product.

 

Learn How to Sell.

Selling has gotten a bad reputation over the years.  But to be a writer and say “I can’t stand selling” or “I don’t want to sell” and then have the audacity to aspire to be a “best-selling” author is lunacy.  How can you detest something but miraculously want to benefit from it?  Face it, if you’re going to be a best-seller in today’s marketplace, you need to know at least the fundamentals of what moves people to buy and learn to deal with rejection.  I would recommend that even if you eventually want to become a full-time writer, in your spare time, pick up a part-time job doing something that requires you to sell so that you learn how to do it.

Learn about Copywriting and SEO.

Sales and marketing go hand-in-hand, and marketing for writers is something called copywriting.  Unlike its sister, copyrighting, which protects your work from intellectual property thieves, copywriting is the art of writing with the intent of selling something.  A great way to learn this is to either do freelance writing work and learn as you take on gigs; or of course, you can try to get a job doing this.  Advertising is going to be the most common way to do this type of writing, but the market is stiff because you have to be extremely good to break into copywriting at an advertising firm.  If you only have no time to do either of these options, then just teach it to yourself by reading books about it and observing brochures and websites.  What about the brochure or website makes you want to buy?  Apply those techniques into your copywriting style.

 

Join social media peer groups in which you can share your blurb and get feedback.

Many of us writers want to get exposure for our writing, but we are usually timid for fear of criticism.  My advice: GET OVER IT!  You are going to be judged, you are going to be criticized, your work is going to cause controversy, your work is going to piss some people off.  That is the nature of the business, so you have to put your work out there to get feedback.  Sometimes these groups are good because they usually include aspiring writers but some of these writers may have a little more or less experience than you.  They, too, are in the same boat as you trying to become successful so the pain from their criticisms won’t be as painful as it is from professional writers.  Join these types of groups and get critiqued and do some critiquing of your own.  This practice will open doors for you in improving your book blurbs because when you notice what others are doing wrong, you can avoid these mistakes yourself.

 

Develop a less is more mentality when preparing your marketing material.

Sometimes we can’t see it, but we writers are verbose.  We don’t always get to the point fast enough, and that may cause potential fans to lose interest.  When you are preparing blurbs, this is not the time to compete with Charles Dickinson to come up with beautiful prose.  Save that for your novel.  Blurbs are designed to sum up your book in as few words as possible.  So when you shift gears from writing your book to marketing your book, get out of the mindset of writing long paragraphs to explain what’s going on.  Say it quick and say it interesting is the name of the game when writing blurbs and the way you do this is have a mindset of ‘as few words as possible’ before you even approach the marketing process.  If you want hands-on experience with saying it quick and interesting, get a Twitter account and post regularly.  This social media platform forces you to tell a lot with a few words.

 

While you are at it, develop a KISS (keep it simple stupid) mentality when preparing your marketing material.

Do people really need to know the backstory of the backstory of the backstory? No.  Leave that for them to read in the book.  And like I said before, this is not the time to showcase more of your knack for prose.  And another thing — think big.  Yes, of course, you want to sell your book directly to fans of your genre; but your book most likely will need to cut across genre lines and even across international borders to become a best-seller.  So, keep the English straightforward and translatable.  Can the words on your blurb be easily translated into Spanish, French, Chinese, etc.?  And, if so, does it retain its meaning across cultures?  Then, my friend, you may just have an international best-seller on your hand waiting to happen because no matter what language audiences speak, concepts are universal.  Learn to speak conceptually and stop being caught up in how impressive your English skills are when you are writing blurbs.  Remember you are aiming to be a best-selling author, and though great writing skills play a part in this, the ability to resonate across audiences with what you write about will be much more rewarding in the end.

 

Consider letting your fans or even your beta readers help you write the blog.

Why — because they tend to know what works and what is interesting in your novel.  And you don’t really literally have to let them write it, but their feedback is what you can use to help you write your blurb.  As a writer, you may think that all your writing works and it’s all awesome.  But from the outside looking in, these people can tell you what really moves them and what you need to emphasize in the sales and pitching process.  You can also, literally let someone else, like your beta readers, write your blurb.  This is because you just may be too close to the piece and unable to get your mind into sales mode.  If you are someone who cannot distance yourself from your work, then consider having someone else write the blurb for you.

 

Do you have some writing advice to add on how writing great book blurbs?  Share your comments and don’t forget to follow me on Facebook and Twitter @mlchildsauthor.

Do-It-Yourself Book Trailers

Clapperboard image courtesy of Stocksnap.io

ATLANTA – Written by M.L. Childs

For many years, film advertisers have enticed us with movie trailers.  They seem to know how to juxtapose the right scenes together in a very theatrical sequence that leaves us wanting more.  In recent years, book authors have been dabbling in what is now known as book trailers.  These are a marketing tool that authors are using to market books in the same way that film marketing teams market movies.

This trend is not as popular as film trailers, however.  Very few authors take advantage of this marketing tool and likely because it is relatively new and also because it can be quite expensive.  To have the dramatic effect that films trailers have and the maximum level of suspense needed to interest an audience enough to purchase and read your book can cost a lot of money, especially if actors are included.  If you are a self-published author or a traditional author and you have the financial means to get a professional book trailer for your book, by all means, invest in this option.

A few years ago, there was a wave of companies springing up assisting with creating book trailers.  The cost used to range from $1500-$2500.  Maybe companies didn’t see any real profit potential in book trailers and discontinued this option because I don’t see many options in Google searches anymore.  If there are any companies still doing this, I’d say go for this option.

Another option that could be more economical is partnering with aspiring student filmmakers in your local area who may be able to assist you with creating a book trailer.  They are usually eager to build their portfolio.  Thus, your book trailer could be one of their many directing opportunities creating a win/win for both parties.

If both of these options seem too costly or cumbersome, another option is the option for the “starving artist” or guerilla book marketer who doesn’t have a large marketing budget but happens to be quite creative.  That is the do-it-yourself option.  Even if you aren’t very creative yourself, if you have a graphic design buddy who could work with you on this project, then this could work wonders for your guerilla marketing efforts.Startup Stock Photos courtesy of Stocksnap.io

The first thing you would need to do is create a PowerPoint presentation.  I would avoid the standard templates that PowerPoint has and opt for a made from scratch design.  You could get your graphic designer or photographer friend to develop cool backgrounds or if you don’t have such friends, find some stock photos online that relate to your book’s subject area.  You could even call up your musician friend to develop some music for your trailer so that you avoid copyright infringement issues. No musician friend?  I’m sure you probably have a friend with a great reading voice that could narrate for your book trailer similar to the way voice over actors narrate for Hollywood film trailers.  Just be careful with the sound because you don’t want to capture heavy breathing or overly loud talking in the recording for the trailer.

If you want to go all in and try your hand at indie filmmaking, you could video record and embed the video into a single PowerPoint page.  However, this option will require some great filmmaking and editing skills a because a horrible video recording and sound could hurt your efforts.  But if you want, be the next Stephen Spielberg of book trailers if you like for Christ’s sake. Heck, you might do so well with your own book trailer that you could develop your own small side business to help other writers in addition to your book writing.  Just a thought.

Once you create the PowerPoint presentation to your liking,  record the presentation in PowerPoint.  I would stick with1 min 30 seconds or less and short, snappy phrases on screen because this is an ad after all and people’s attention span is short when it comes to ads.  Get right to the point ASAP.

Once you have the PowerPoint presentation perfected, you will need to convert it to a video in .wav or mp4 format.  Then take this video format and upload it to YouTube.  The conversion process takes a while so be patient.  Once it is loaded, embed it into your website, social media, or start encouraging clients to visit your YouTube page and subscribing.

Again, I’m not saying that do-it-yourself book trailers are the option you should choose.  If you have better options available to you, choose those.  But DIY book trailers can certainly be a good alternative option for those who have a tight book marketing budget.  I think you should always seek out professionals when working on designs of any kind.  But if you are a designer yourself or have friends or family that can help you make this book trailer be as professional as possible, then I’d say go for it.  There are no guarantees with anything.  Afterall, look at all of the dazzling film trailers that Hollywood has released only for the film to be less than stellar.  Look on the bright side, anything is possible.

Your book is your dream and if you want your dream to become a reality in spite of the doors being closed to you, then try, and try again until you become the best-selling author that you are striving to be.

I hope you enjoyed this article and look out for more guerilla marketing tips from me in upcoming posts.  Do you have some DIY book trailer tips to add?  Be sure to comment below and don’t forget to follow me on Facebook and Twitter @mlchildsauthor for more writing and publishing tips.

 

Click Here to Read More Blog Posts

 

Images courtesy of Stocksnap.io.

Book Trailer courtesy of YouTube


Here is a simple book trailer for my novel that I created using PowerPoint, converted it into a video and uploaded it to Youtube.  Check it out:

 

How Can I Find Goofs in My Own Work When I Proofread?

ATLANTA – Written by M.L. Childs

Proofreading is an intimidating task and proofreading your work is even more challenging. One reason it is so complicated is that you as the writer see what you think you see on the page, not what is there.

If you just don’t have the resources available to hire an editor, especially if you are a self-published author struggling with a budget, one convenient way to proofread your work is to use the read-out-loud function in Adobe Acrobat Reader.

First, you save your work in Microsoft Word and convert the file into a .pdf file.  Then, open the file using Adobe Acrobat Reader and using the view tab, navigate to the ‘read out loud’ feature in Adobe Acrobat Reader.  This will provide you with the option to ‘activate’ the feature.  Once activated, other options will be made available that will help you to proof your work.  Finally, grab some headphones or speakers and listen for errors in the audio of your written document.

While this simple proofreading technique is not the answer to all of your editing needs, you can get rid of obvious goofs in your writing project because this feature reads your writing on the page as it is and you will hear the errors as you listen.

For instance, if you type “Sally made a trip store to buy groceries” your mind may not see the error. However, Adobe will read this to you exactly as it is and you will be able to hear how ridiculous this sounds, thus be able to correct the error.

 

We will address other editing and proofreading issues in another article, but for now, keep this technique in mind as an affordable way to self-edit.

Share your comments.

 

 

Click Here to Read More Blog Posts