A 25-second snippet from a forum audio that turned out to be irrelevant to the message of that presentation, but perhaps relevant in other contexts.
Just as my editor does more than make sure my sentences and paragraphs make sense, my proofreader does more than ensure spelling and punctuation. Both are writers themselves. Equally important, both are avid readers.
The first proofreading pass of That She Is Made of Truth garnered some confused commentary from my proofreader, James. Plot points unclear, connections muddled — I could tell he wondered, a bit, what I was doing.
I trust his judgment.
In her blog today author Lia London tells a harrowing tale of lies, betrayal, fraud — that wasn’t her latest book, it was her previous publishing efforts.
In a Facebook group I’m part of, someone asked for recommendations for a web designer. I dropped my name on the list, already 100 posts long.
The “where should I host my site?” question is asked often, garnering the same list of responses each time: “GoDaddy!” “Anywhere but GoDaddy!” “HostThingy” “ThingHost” “HostHost” “Hostess Cupcakes” “Charlottezweb” (because I’ll never skip an opportunity to promote Jason’s marvelous hosting, even if it gets lost in the crowd.)
We’re re-watching Longmire from the beginning, hoping the long-awaited 4th season will start the night after we finish the cliffhanger of season 3. In last night’s episode Walt tells Henry the reason he’s pulling fingerprints from a car’s steering wheel instead of having one of his deputies do it: “If you want something done right, you do it yourself.”
Rather than debate the debatable truth of the statement, let’s talk about why we believe that.
How do you know when to reject well-meaning but misguided writing advice, and when to gnaw your knuckles and knuckle under because someone else was given a brief clear glimpse of something you missed in your own work?
I’ve learned the answer to that the long hard way. It’s still more art than science.
Begin by asking yourself a few questions.
Beginners ask about things some of us take for granted. It’s useful to review the questions and answers to be sure we haven’t missed something which seems self-evident to others.
I had a long online chat with Sergiy Kalyuzhny, Master at Marlow Navigation, Ukraine. He’s writing a non-fiction account of an event we haven’t fully discussed yet (though I sure hope Sergiy lets me help with the book so I can read about it.)
Since I’m posting late today, as penance, I’ll share the whole thing instead of splitting it into a half-dozen posts.
When you click on my affiliate link it’s a gift to me. Not a financial gift; that’s too obvious. The gift is trust.
It’s true that the vendor gives me a gift on your behalf, and you don’t spend one penny extra. But that’s not the point. The point is that when you click on that link you accept my recommendation because you trust me. Because I recommended a book at Amazon or hosting at CharlottezWeb or that you or your male friend shave with equipment you buy at Harry’s, You were willing to at least click the link and go look, and maybe even buy something.
Yes, affiliate links (which we used to call commissioned sales) have been done to death, and are used for every imaginable evil.
There just tools. They are not evil. They are, in fact, a way for us to grow the trust which magically happens even over the Internet when people speak sincerely and genuinely listen.
I’ve studied humanistic marketing methods extensively during the past decade. What I’ve learned changed my life, not just my business.
In 2006 the company I worked for shut down, just as my Best Beloved came home from 4 months in the hospital after a near-death experience. After struggling for 4 years we gave up the home we were renting in order to house-sit, in part because we could no longer afford to pay rent and utilities. From that poverty, we’ve come to making a decent living in 2013. I’ll define “decent living” — we pay all our bills on time these days, we’re celebrating our 10th anniversary with a loooong weekend in a bed and breakfast on the coast of Lake Michigan, and we’re planning a 3-month trip to Ireland some time in the next 18 months.
We don’t live an extravagant lifestyle, but we’re no longer poor, even by my humble standards.
Here’s what I haven’t done yet: applied that marketing expertise to selling my own books.
I want you to write your book. Not the vague generic “you” of the unnamed faces of possible readers of my blog.
I mean you, the specific person reading this right now.
I want you to be a hero.
Have you ever seen a little kid stand up to a bully? Everyone else meekly stands by, angry, but too scared to speak up.
There are bullies who want to frighten you into submission. To prevent you from writing your book. They don’t want to hear what you have to say because they don’t care what you have to say.
Stand up to the bullies. Speak out.
Write your book.
What if you fail? What’s the worst thing that can happen? You won’t die. Your loved ones won’t die.
Trust me, the worst thing that can happen is that your book will writhe in anguished silence on a lonely shelf.
But you won’t die.
Consider the opposite: what if you succeed? What if even one solitary stranger buys your book, trusts your description of it and the cover and the excerpts and all that, and shells out their hard-earned money for your book?
There are few greater glories.
But that’s not the opposite of failing. Whether your book dies on a shelf or gloriously enlivens another human being, there’s something far worse.
What happens if you don’t write your book?
Not “what happens to your book?” because there is no book.
What happens to you?
What happens if you let the bullies out there, or the toughest bully, the one inside your head, intimidate you out of your art?
What happens if you go to your grave with this book unborn?
A miscarriage is a tragic event in part because it’s invisible. We have endured such things, my Best Beloved and I, and it’s not possible to convey the level of hurt to someone who hasn’t experienced it.
If your book is never written, we might never miss the book.
But we’ll see it in your eyes. We’ll hear it in your voice. That dead, flat spot in your soul, where you’d have contentment and peace and a certain amount of joy, if only you’d write that book.
Every time you hear about a new book, every time a friend or distant acquaintance says hey, I wrote a book, every time you look in the mirror, you’ll know:
I have a book dead inside me.
Resurrection. Birth. These are eternal themes in literature for a reason: the acts of creation are Divine gifts that make us human, make us more than animal, only slightly less than gods.
Every single person who has ever written a book has dared greatly, no matter what the proportion of perceived success accrued to them.
Authors dare greatly.
Every author dares greatly.
A new question is coming up with some regularity.
“Why wouldn’t a confident marketing expert promote my book for a portion of the profit instead of charging me up front?”
The fingers of your dominant hand wrap around the bowstring. After aiming, you slowly open your hand. That’s it, just straighten your fingers. You don’t push or snap or yank. Just, let go of the string.
Continue reading “What Do Archery, Forgiveness, and Fear Have in Common?”
I’ve been a web developer for almost 25 years, so this is not simply from the perspective of an author, though I have published 18 books so far and show no signs of stopping.
An author without a website and blog is like any other business without a website.
The first place people go for information these days is the web. If you’re considering a new mechanic, and this one has a good website and the other has nothing, don’t you lean toward the one you can find out about online?
Continue reading “Why Authors Must Have a Blog”
Just spent a frustrating hour on the phone with AT&T. Normally, they’re just fine. We’ve had our cell service through them for years, and everything has been simple and obvious and working.
Sunday, I called to order a new line and a new iPhone. They let me choose a new number I liked.
It was easy; too easy . . .
Some insist that you have to give your first book away. Others claim that free means “worthless” and they won’t do it.
Free is good. If I’m talking to a prospective client, and I can impress them with my expertise and enthusiasm by mailing them a copy of one of my books that’s pertinent to our conversation, I’ve spent $7 on marketing to get what could be a $2,000 client. If I email them the Kindle version, I’ve spent zero.
What’s important to remember is that free isn’t a price. It’s a strategy.
Just posting a copy online with a price of zero is not strategic.
- Start your marketing program the minute you decide to write a book. It can take a year or two to build a platform, your tribe of fans. Start now.