Tag Archives: social media

My Life at the Moment…

It has been a LONG time since I’ve had a blog post. That is not good. It is something I am going to have to keep more on top of, but I want to explain why it’s been so long since I’ve had one, even though I’ve had a bunch of potential blogging ideas.

The busyness of life has gotten to me. I feel as though I am overwhelmed with all of the things that are occuring in my life right now. Let me tell you about them:

(1) Book 2 edits just got done and am patiently awaiting to see the reviews back from the editor. During this time I haven’t been getting done as much stuff on Book #3 as I would have hoped (in fact, nothing at all) So, I really need to start doing that. But, the things that eat up my time in this realm is reading other people’s works on Wattpad and being an active community member there and also writing short stories that will eventually be it’s own novel when I add them all together.

(2) School. Summer school has been really rough. I am taking 9 credits over summer and that is really really difficult. 6 of those credits have been all of June and so in July now I only have one course, so it should ease up a little but i constantly have homework in that course. I need to do well in those courses so that it can increase my ability to get a job at the end of college. That is my ultimate goal.

(3) A new career opportunity that allows me to get people in shape, keep me in shape, and get paid while doing it. It is a cleansing system that is so effective. I am only on day three but can already feel the positive benefits from it. The thing is, is that I don’t have time to recruit a lot of people because I’m so busy and I have so many other things going on, so I’m not exactly sure what to do about it.

(4) I’ve been out in the dating sphere in the last couple of months and that always takes up time and money.

(5) Finally I started a new job in June. This past month, since some people have either gotten fired or quit, they have increased my “part-time” status to “full-time” and that has been the main thing that has been killing me. It messes up my workout schedule (which, btw, is another thing that takes up time, but I have to stay in shape!) and it messes up all my other schedules including my sleep schedule because I am now napping at random times during the day.

(6) The rigors of every day life. I mean, is it fair that I am CONSTANTLY working on something? I don’t think so, and that is another large issue for me. I want to be social and hang out with people at the beach, or maybe just chill and watch netflix one day, but I feel as though I can’t because of all the other extra-curriculars I am involved in. It’s actually really stressful. I think I may need to cut out a few more in order to decrease my stress, but also I think buying a academic planner will be nice. I am going to get one of those today.

So, my decision for what I’m going to do now? Well, I definitely am cutting out drinking so that my 30-day cleanse product can be more effective. Also, it will give me much much more time to do things. I am hoping by cutting out that part of my life I will be able to stay more focused and motivated on the things I like doing. I hope that that is enough to keep me relieved and if not, well, then I’m just going to have to figure out how to do manage my life even more. I am not sure what is the next thing I would cut would be, but I definitely have a few of those things in mind. I will be cutting back my work availability to not do Sundays so that I have time to blog consistently. That should help for the moment! I am going to keep you all up to date on the posts that I would have mentioned and that were somewhat mentioned in here.

 

Pre-Activate to Activate

Hey guys,

So, when I’m not writing I like to workout. One of the best DVD’s I’ve ever worked out to is TapoutXT2 in the first 60 days of this workout I lost 18 pounds. I definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to work out and lose weight and just get in shape. Anyways, I want to say that because building your audience, building your platform as an author is kind of like working out.

In any workout you don’t go into a bench press and put on 200 lbs, you put on 150, 175, 190, and then maybe 200. The thing here is you need to Pre-activate, to fully get your body ready for activation. You can’t just go in and expect. That is a line I like from TapoutXT2.

Anyways, how does this relate to writing and building your author platform? Well, you need to build a sense of community with your followers. Comment on their posts, on their blog, and then when it becomes time to lift that 200 pound bench press (the need for book publicity) they are going to be more inclined to help you out. Sending out queries to bloggers without building a solid relationship with them first isn’t the best way of doing that (although it certainly is less time intensive, but who said publishing a book and marketing it wasn’t going to be?). Communicate with others in your industry: authors, agents, publishing houses, editors, etc. Immerse yourself in that environment, and do it fast! Preactivate yourself and your platform, so that when it comes time to activate (when the book is coming out) you can and you can do so efficiently.

I recommend an hour a day if you have the time. This would be spread out between a multitude of mediums like your blog, facebook, and twitter. Respond to people, engage people, all of this will cause people to notice you more and as a good advertising adage says “there is no such thing as bad publicity…except an obituary notice”. I am going to start doing this more because I know this is something I definitely lack in right now, and I realize this now.

Where does one find the time to do all that?

There is 24 hours in a day. Most are at work from 8 – 5. That is nine hours in a day taken up. You sleep for another eight hopefully that leaves 7 hours left. Let’s say commute and dinner take up another 2 hours. So, there should be 5 more hours in your day to work with. To help you save time, I would recommend installing HootSuite on your smart phone and programming it to post stuff on your Facebook and Twitter for the whole week starting Sunday when you have a day off. This will save you time and will cause you to be more efficient.

Anyways, hope this helps, and I hope the analogy makes sense. Pre-active your social media presence to activate the potential that social media holds for anything you do in building a reputable author brand.

Marketing Media Press Kit

The Press Kit. Probably one of the most important things that need to be created for your book to achieve success (besides the book itself). I will be going through the ins and outs of creating one in this post. But first, what is a Press Kit and why do you need one?

What is a Press Kit?
-> A press kit is a succinct and compact kit that provides media sources with all the details they would ever need to know about your up and coming bestseller. It will provide more information about you, your book, and the specifics of everything book wise.

Why do you need one?
-> In the age of increased competition for books, its essential to have one. Not having one will result in dismal sales and overall the flop of your book and most likely your ambition to write more. To show the validity of your novel and also it will serve as a great piece of marketing literature for anything you want to do later on in promoting your novel.

So, what is in a Media Press Kit?
-> A few things. (A) A Cover Letter, (B) Press Release, (C) Author Biography, (D) Photograph of yourself, (E) Spec Sheet, (F) Order Form, (G) Writing Reviews, (H) Business Cards, (I) Question and Answer Sheet), (J), Mock Book Review, (K) A COPY OF YOUR BOOK!!!

(A) The Cover Letter
-> Should be brief and enticing. In this, tell what the book is about, when the publication date is, and why it is of interest to each specific person’s audience you are sending it to. Explain any promotional and advertising plans. Do you have any special qualifications as an author? List them! Make sure you start off with a riveting opening line so that it hooks the attention. Like resume cover letters, there is a general template for creating this. Here is what I did. 1st paragraph = selling your story. 2nd paragraph = What are your goals in writing your piece? Who are you planning on attracting with your book? Hit those audience demographics. 3rd paragraph = When is publication? Where is book launch party? What are you doing for marketing with it? Do you have a book tour established? All these questions should be answered here. 4th paragraph = Prompt them to return the form you should have included with your kit. This will weed out the people who want the book and who don’t. Also, it should save money on shipping out books for them not to be read.

(B) Press Release
-> It should be no longer than 2 pages double-spaced. But, the shorter the better. You want to create a buzz about your fiction by creating an interest gathering headline, a little bit about you, and a little bit about your book. You may also want to tell a little story about how you came up with the idea for your story.
-> At top or bottom of page list the specs of the book (title of book, name of author, cost, amount of pages, ISBN, contact information including phone and email, website address) I did this in using a table in microsoft office word.
-> It may also be a good idea to include the back-cover blurb in this. Tell them why your book is essential for them to review and buy. You need to have a point of difference! What is your book’s PoD? There should be something here, how else can you separate yourself from the competition. Expand on this in here as well. End with a paragraph on how they can reach you and a link to your website so you can start driving traffic there.

(C) – (G) Fiction Author Brochure
-> Okay, so you can decide to do all of these things separately. However, I highly recommend you create a fiction author brochure and you include all of C-G (mentioned above) in it. Here’s how you do it. I did a tri-fold. So a tri-fold has 6 total pages. Let’s go through each one of them.
-> 1st page = cover of the book. Name of publishing company (if you created one). List your website address.
-> 2nd Page = Back cover blurb of the book. Also, depending on how much space you have left after this, I included my spec sheet again. So here is where I would talk about pricing, trim size, page count for softcover and hardcover if you know that all. Publication date. Publisher. Distributor.
-> 3rd Page = Author biography and below it your Author Profile Pic. That should take up the whole page. Now, what should you include in the biography? Well, whatever you plan on putting at the end of your book but somethings you could touch on is what kind of things you are involved in (are you involved in any writing circles?), have you done anything remarkable, also the last sentence should look something like this “To stay in touch with Michael and receive updates and exclusion content not featured elsewhere, signup at (website stuff in here). And don’t forget to follow him on twitter at www.twitter.com/michaelethies” This will help build up your twitter following, Facebook following, whatever social media you plan on putting at the end of the sentence. But, it’s a call of action. And it’s very powerful if done right.
-> 4th page (rightmost side of inside of brochure) = Order form. Put a check box here with a few options for the person to check off and return to you. Have check boxes next to each of these below.
* We expect to review this book in: ___________ on Approximately: ________________, 20___.
* We are considering the following subsidiary rights on this title: (leave space for them)
* We are considering stocking/adopting this title.
* Please send a photo of the book.
* Please send a photo of the author.
* Sorry, we didn’t find this book suitable for our needs.

After that include a place for them to write in their name, their occupation title, where they work, their email, and their complete address. Also, have at the bottom the address where you will be receiving all of your publication information so that you can keep in contact with them.

-> 5th page (leftmost backside page) = Leave blank. There is no point to have anything on this page because they will be ripping it off and sending it back to you. If you did want something to put in here when you get more book reviews that will fill up your last page (the back cover) then put in a variety of ways that someone can help you promote your book. Here is what I put!

“It would be a fantastic help if you could utilize some of these suggestions to help promote the book.
• Buy the book on amazon.com
• Post a five-star review on amazon.com
• Call your local bookstore and ask for my book
• Ask for the book when you’re at local bookstore
• Follow me on Twitter (search: michaelethies)
• Like on Facebook (search: Guardian of the Core)
• Connect with me on LinkedIn (search: Mike Thies)
• Blog about my book; be sure to include a link to www.guardianofthecore.com
• Interview me on your blog”

-> 6th page (last panel) = Writing reviews. Get some reviews from your friends, get reviews from teachers, anyone! This will start out small, but as soon as you get more you can keep updating this. So the very first things people will see when they get this brochure will be the Cover Photo and Reviews about your book. PERFECT!!!

(H) Business Cards
-> If you don’t have some made, make some up for yourself and your book. If you have a publishing company like me, then make some with your logo and publishing company info on it. Otherwise, if it’s just you and the book, provide the cover image of your book (if applicable) but definitely your contact info and try to make it look as professional as possible.

(I) Question and Answer Sheet
-> What do you need this for? So that they already have the answers to some of the questions they would need to ask you to publish anything about you. The people you are trying to reach are very busy. So, be courteous and have all of these questions already answered for them. They don’t have time to actually interview you. With that being said, here are the questions you should answer.
1) Why did you write this book?
2) How did you become interested in the topic?
3) What did you hope to accomplish by publishing your book?
4) Who is your intended readership?
5) When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
6) How did you research your book?
7) What surprised you about the process of writing your book?
8) What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
9) Are you working on another book?

(J), Mock Book Review
-> This is simply a book review that you write. Many reviews are too busy to read your book carefully. So a mock review helps them out. So they can simply just take some passages from it and use that.

(K) Copy of Your Book
-> Pretty self explanatory but yeah, just make sure you have a copy of your book along with it. What that order form is doing up above is making sure you get advanced notice of any reviews coming your way so that you can look for them. It is not an order form saying, “Oh I want to review this book” You can screen out and qualify people through the sending of PDF formatted Galley Copies and save the hard galley copies for the “important” reviewers, the ones with more reach than the others. This will cut down on expenses.

Alright, and there you have it. Your own media press kit. Good luck in creating it. Have fun with it to. It’s a blast and a nice project. If you have questions leave a comment and I will try to answer them as promptly as I can.

Planning the Timeline

Alright,

Been busy the past couple of days, and this week is actually extremely busy for me as I meet my own deadlines, but while I mention deadlines, I figure what an appropriate place to talk about scheduling.

Something I would invest in right off the bat is a planner. Whether you have an hour-by-hour one in addition to a day-by-day one, or merely a day-by-day one, is up to you. I know the hour-by-hour one really helps me plan out my days. Why do I recommend a planner? Because you will be busy from NOW (yes, this very second after you finish ready this blog) to months after your book is even published.

We are going to use my books timeline as an example of what you should be looking at when planning your own for your book.

1) When do you want your book to get released?

  •       Originally, I was planning on having an early November release so that I could advertise Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales as well as Christmas. But, then I figured, this would HORRIBLE. There is no way I can compete with all the fierce competition that is out there. So I moved mine back to December 10th (Tuesday).
  • Reason for picking a Tuesday? It has actually been proven that Tuesday’s yield the best results for launching something (why else do you think movies come out for rent at video stores on Tuesdays). Monday everyone is groggy and by Tuesday they are back in the swing of things. Also, December is a good month because it’ll be after all the crazy sales, but you can advertise your book (if yours is targeted towards college-aged adults like mine is) as a book to read over winter break.
  • With that in mind other dates I would consider are January, February, and May (spring break for the earlier two, and summer vacation for the last one).

Once you have your date of publication, you will want to set AT LEAST 2 months of marketing up beforehand, if not 4 MONTHS. During these months you will be sending out galley copies, soliciting subsidiary rights, talking to book clubs, following up on any marketing research you were doing, doing author book blog tours, etc. A huge marketing opportunity for me is the chance to blurb my book in a magazine that goes out to over 80,000 people NATIONWIDE. Crazy marketing option that I can’t pass up but In order to meet deadlines I need a physical galley copy a month before it goes out so by end of September, early October.

2) Goal to meet is November.

  • So, working backwards, you need to allow 3 – 4 weeks for printing services through Lightning Source (POD publisher) so you have physical copies to send out. That puts us back at end of August/early September.
  • Note: If you are going offset printing, it’s typically around 6 – 8 weeks. So, plan accordingly.

3) Proofreading and Copy Editing

  • Copy editing can take about 4 – 5 weeks depending on who you go through. (These are just things I have seen personally, not saying yours will). You will want to allow for one week to a week and a half for proofreading your book (because, yes, even editors can fail sometimes even though you are paying them). With this being said it put us back to middle July.

4) Final Revisions

  • Maybe you are already here. Your manuscript is as polished as it can be at this point. Well congrats! Start with #3 and move on upwards. For me the developmental edit phase (4 – 6 weeks) and my final touch-ups (another 4 – 6 weeks) puts me all the way back to end of March! Holy shit. And that was after I thought my book didn’t need to be changed that much (boy was I wrong). I would always recommend a developmental editor, because they will catch things totally oblivious by you.
  • Use this time that it is with the editor to read up about self-publishing (or continue reading this blog 😉 ). Otherwise, use the time to develop marketing ideas (see most recent blog post), some books to invest in are “Complete Guide to Self Publishing” by Sue Collier and Marilyn Ross and even the “Self-Publishing for Dummies” (even though this latter title is way out of date).

What is this trying to tell you? That if you want to have a successful book launch, a successful book in general, you need to actually commit yourself to this project ALMOST A WHOLE YEAR before the book actually comes. It’s like pregnancy for authors.

So, my advice to all of you planning on self-publishing out there, first thing you will want to do is determine a significant release date and from there work backwards to determine your schedule. It will make your life so much more organized and efficient.

Oh, and I was going to end it there, but I have to make this disclaimer before I leave. THIS IS NOT ALL THAT YOU WILL BE DOING. Imagine that this is the skeleton for your book’s body. Now we need to fill it in with skin tissue, organs, nerves, etc. All that comes in the form of websites, social media marketing, blogging, researching, querying, and more. Oh yay! We can get more in-depth with all of that later, though. Plan this basic template, first, and then we’ll focus on filling in the gaps.

Business Plans–The Rest of It

Alright, so yesterday we looked at just the expenses part of the business plan because when you are making something like that, that is the one section you want to start with. Now, I forgot to mention this but you should also add your projected revenue. This is a TOTAL GUESSTIMATE. Especially if you don’t have an established fan-base. But for books I listed possible revenue coming from: (a) online sales, (b) e-books, (c) face-to-face selling, and (d) bookstores… Pretty basic. For most self-publishers the first 3 will be your main selling areas, and as far as calculating this you need to do some research. (1) Find out who your distributor is, I recommend Lightning Source for online, and BookBaby for e-books. (2) Research prices and start drawing up some hypothetical scenarios for where your book will fall (unless you have a “for sure” word count and page count. And then just take the profit margin and multiply it by # of books sold and then don’t forget to add in royalties to bookstores or vendors or whoever else there may be.

Now, the first four things on the business plan are (1) Description of company, (2) ownership and location information, (3) products, and (4) pricing strategy. These are definitely the easiest and for the most part self-explanatory. But, let’s discuss the basic jist of each one briefly, before going into what’s going to set your business plan apart.

ITEM #1 = Description of Company

  • Alright, here you just put what your company plans on doing. For example, “The purpose of Writer’s Block Press is to spearhead publishing and merchandising for the written creations of Michael E. Thies.” Here is where you will also want to list what type of salary you expect, and how you plan to utilize left over money.

ITEM #2 = Ownership and Location of Company

  • Who owns it. What type of company is it (i.e. sole proprietorship, LLC, partnership, etc.). Do you have employees? How many?
  • Where is it located. If you are working from your house you could say something like, “Writer’s Block Press will be run and operated in a designated office on the residential premises of your name here.
  • Who to get in touch with if approached for movie deals or sponsorship opportunities

ITEM #3 = Products

  • What type of products do you offer? For a publishing company it is most likely going to be books, and that’s pretty much about it. Make sure you tell what format they are in (print and e-book, maybe audiobook?)

ITEM #4 = Pricing Strategy

  • Unless you have the capabilities and know-how to run a POD Press, or an Offset Press, I would just say something like “Writer’s Block Press, until deemed financially necessary, will outsource production of books to POD publishers such as LightningSource or CreateSpace. As such, Writer’s Block Press is subject to their pricing for works published.”

NOW THE GOOOOOOOOD STUFF 🙂 —> Here we will be discussion a few things: (6) Production schedule, (7) Targeted Audience, (8) marketing and promotion plan, (9) web plan, (10) long-term goals, (11) summary…. (If you noticed I skipped item 5, that is because that are your finances which I already discussed in the previous post).

ITEM #6 = Production Schedule/Writing Plan

  • It’s always nice to have goals down in print. I think it helps you achieve them. So with this section you are going to list (I would say for the next 2 years minimum) your product plans.
  • So for new books make sure you include, dates to get drafts done by, dates to get edits done by, proofreading, to have galley copies ready, to have release dates. By having these items, you will really set yourself up for success. So, for example, the first book in my series, Guardian of the Core, titled “Eska’s Trials” is coming out this December. For the whole year of 2014 I have plans of finishing the second book, and of dates I need to get each draft done by, so I can release the second book of the series, come January of 2015.
  • This is the type of planning that financial people want to see. It will exude a sense of professionalism with them and that you are taking into account the longevity of the company. And of your career of course!!!

ITEM #7 = Target Audience

  • Pretty self-explanatory. Who are you marketing towards? For me, my book is New-Adult science-fiction/fantasy so a bunch of my readers will be college-aged males. Writing a romance? Well, it’s probably females. Writing a How-To Book on engineering? Well, then middle-aged men. Of course, always try to be as specific as possible with this.
  • Include answers to these questions in this section: What is the best way to reach readers? What are the number of books planned in the series? Is it a standalone novel? What is the novel about? What is the genre?

ITEM #8 = Marketing Plan

  • Sorry to disappoint everyone, but I’m an Advertising Major, so this is right up my alley. With that being said, I want to do it justice and not just give a brief overview. Check back later as this will get it’s own blog post, just like finances did. This is almost an entirely separate document than your business plan since it can be very long depending on how thorough you are and the ideas you have.

ITEM #9 = Web Plan

  • What are your url’s going to be? If you know, RESERVE THEM NOW! I am pissed because someone already has “writersblockpress.com” reserved so I had to go with the next best thing and choose “.net” but then I also purchased “www.guardianofthecore.com” and “www.michaelethies.com” and I am going to include url forwarding for all of them to my author page until deemed financially appropriate to get separate websites for the rest of them.
  • Also, here is where you want to list your presence and visibility on social media. Do you have a blog? Of course you do, you’re following mine! 😉 But, besides that, do you have a Facebook Page set up, Twitter Account, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Pinterest (I admit to not using the last two I listed, but if you have them, list them). Perhaps you have a Youtube Channel that can correlate with your company’s vision.
  • This is an important part because investors want to see your marketability and nowadays all of that marketing stuff has to do with an online presence. You need to have one!

ITEM #10 = Long-Term Goals

  • Include 3-Year and 5-Year goals in here. Again, these are just “goals” you are not bound to these. For mine, I included having another book out in 3-years, and then one more book and even other authors by 5-years from now. Also, I put in here that I will have personalized websites for the links I mentioned above within this time frame.
  • This is an important section because, as I said before, investors want to see the longevity of your company planned out. If you have goals for 3 and 5 years down the road, then they will start to trust you more as a person who wants to make this business succeed and will do everything in their power to try and make that happen.

ITEM #11 = Executive Summary

  • Summarize your entire document. Here is a sample of what I put:
  • “Writer’s Block Press will see continued growth through 2014 and 2015, and subsequent years after that. By February of 2015, Writer’s Block Press will have two titles published that will be for sale via print and e-book. Each book published by Writer’s Block Press will be of high quality, going through the necessary revisions and steps before it is released. Branding author and owner, Michael E. Thies, will never stop, nor will marketing his series, Guardian of the Core. Writer’s Block Press will be a name known to all, because name recognition equals sales or future sales for all author’s publishing under it.”

Now, that is a lot of information to take in. If you want to get your business plan critiqued I’d be more than willing to look at it, send it to me at writersblockpress@gmail.com or, what I would also recommend, is to take it to a bank and ask to speak to a loan officer and ask them this, “If I were to do business with you, what would you offer my company” hand them your business plan and get it critiqued.

Anyways, sorry that this post was so long. But there is a lot of information here, and I just grazed the surface. Look forward to the marketing plan as this is one thing that writer’s continually struggle with. Happy writing and good luck with establishing your company, whatever that may be.