Ideas from the Inside for
Book publisher, publishing consultant, and small business coach
Welcome new subscribers. It's easy to catch up on what we've covered so far:
- Vol. 1: Why another newsletter? Intro to Conspired and its reasonings.
- Vol. 2: Don't Break the Chain; the Power of Tangents; Better, Not Easier; and the Three Phases of Events
- Vol. 3: Win to the X; Defensive Entrepreneurship; Media Responsiveness; and Cold, Hard Calls
- Vol. 4: Spaghetti & Ships; Service Marketing; Curiosity; Process Events
- Vol. 5: Hustle & Grit; Amazon & Indies; Reconnecting; Coaching Tools
And, if there's something you'd like addressed in a future issue, whether a general matter or something unique to your book, please
drop me a line
Everything Goes Media, Lake Claremont Press, and Conspire Creative
Ideas Are Free, Time Is Not
Here is where we start refining some of the more brute big ideas and get-to-work declarations of past newsletters (Don't Break the Chain and Better, Not Easier of Vol. 2; Defensive Entrepreneurship and Cold, Hard Calls of Vol. 3; Spaghetti & Ships of Vol. 4; and Hustle & Grit and Reconnecting of Vol. 5).
Because there are a million little and big things we can, could, should, ought to do to promote our books, our publishing companies, ourselves as authors.
But where ideas are free and unlimited, time is not. Whereas ideas are bountiful, energy is limited. Infinite possibility, meet reality.
Whether you are a retiree with a bucket list project, a single parent making money on a book after the kids go to bed, making a go of it as a full-time self-publisher, or whatever stripe of nonfiction author you happen to be, your time and energy are limited, and therefore valuable resources to be managed.
So, yes, do five things a day (even if it's a slog), make those hard cold calls (play the numbers game), throw out the spaghetti (see what sticks), but most importantly: prioritize what matters and focus on high-value activities first.
This is a good thing. It's a way of taming the beast and wresting specifics out of the infinitude. And a way of making your time and energy your own. Once you determine what things are of most value to you, you can more easily winnow down the million little things to those most compatible with your needs and desires.
So, what is of high value to you—in general and as an author—and your book's success? Financial gain? Increased exposure? A certain type of exposure? Learning something new? Relationships? (And, does that mean new relationships or strengthening existing ones?) Promoting your other business or enhancing your reputation? How about fun, enjoyment?
- For inspiration on possible author/book goals and prized author benefits, see the list below I've compiled over the last two decades.
- Casually or more studiously, take some time as you go about your author promotions this week to evaluate the relative value of the options in front of you and choose the ones that best match your priorities in light of the time and energy you have available.
Benefits of Being an Author
You are amazing and have accomplished something wonderful and huge in writing a book. Don't forget it! Let's keep that glow alive by having you accrue and enjoy an increasing number of the rewards that can come with being an author. Learn to recognize them when they show up and enjoy a bonus glow. You can always expand the love by exploring new areas of benefit from the list below.
What benefits do you want from writing a book? (The more honest you can be with yourself, the better.) Once you have a clear idea of the few or dozens of things you hope to enjoy, gain, achieve with your book’s release into the world, you can start developing a marketing and promotion plan that works towards those things. That will go a long way towards making the months- and years-long process of book promotion less about drudgery and disappointment and one of fulfillment, perks, learning new things, and milestones.
In no particular order…
- Gaining entry into the “club” of writers.
- Participating in the community interested in one’s topic.
- Joining the conversations related to one’s book/topic.
- Making a difference in the lives of others.
- Winning converts to a cause.
- Popularizing one’s ideas.
- Swaying public opinion.
- Correcting misconceptions.
- Exposing injustices.
- Entertaining and delighting others.
- Capturing stories before they’re lost.
- Preserving history before it’s lost.
- Bringing attention to local businesses.
- Meeting interesting, new people.
- Amplifying one’s social network.
- Expressing oneself.
- Creating something original, beautiful, provocative, important, __________ (fill in the blank).
- Experiencing elevated self-esteem.
- Enjoying personal satisfaction for having written a book.
- Achieving something significant.
- Accomplishing one of the top goals of your fellow human beings, rather than just talking or thinking about doing it.
- Spring boarding to bigger and better things.
- Opening doors (public speaking, media interviews, business opportunities).
- Practicing a hobby more fully.
- Learning new skills (blogging, public speaking, media savvy, social media, networking).
- Enhancing existing skills (writing, editing, speaking).
- Overcoming personal obstacles (procrastination, shyness).
- Making a name for oneself.
- Sharing unique experiences and perspectives.
- Becoming better-known, well-known, or famous.
- Basking in the prestige.
- Calming the beast inside.
- Living a fuller life.
- Leaving a legacy.
- Establishing one’s authority on a subject.
- Showing expertise in a field.
- Defining one’s position (role) and position (perspective) in some area.
- Contributing to a body of knowledge.
- Boosting one’s reputation.
- Exhibiting leadership.
- Leveraging the power of the printed word.
- Complementing one’s primary business.
- Advancing in one’s field.
- Enlarging one’s professional network.
- Having something to give away (a calling card, gift, premium).
- Developing a side business.
- Building a “platform” (growing an ongoing audience).
- Earning passive income (royalties).
- Earning income through book sales.
- Increasing income through turning one’s book into a cottage industry (re-selling, speaking fees, etc.).
- Reaping the rewards of the content’s secondary markets (movie rights, reprint rights, etc.).
- Finding a better-paying job (with new skills and an enhanced resumé)
- Justifying a pay raise (increased value to company).
- Extending the reach of one’s business (passively locating new customers).
As time goes on, I'll be covering every one of these benefits in greater depth.
- Review the list of author benefits, noting which are important to you.
- Create a rough priority of the benefits that matter to you.
- Assessing all that your book and author life have brought you so far, how well are you faring compared to your prioritized benefits list?
- Consider which of your current activities are contributing to the author benefits you want . . . and which activities aren't.
- Around which items are you stuck or in need of ideas, advice, inspiration? Send me an email about those and I'll address them first in future issues.
As attention spans go down, abysmally down, and email inboxes overflow with more junk, a keyboard's delete button and its handy well-worn groove just asking for another hit beckons to everyone. That includes all those people who should be hanging on every word we type them, so willing and able to do their part in doing whatever it is they do that will lead to our deserved stardom and a bounty of book sales.
All those people need to write us back! Right now!
But in general they don't. They usually won't. Though sometimes they do . . .
What that means for making online connections that will further your own plans for your book is that when you receive a response to an author/book email, a marketing inquiry, or any pitch you send, it's time to seize the moment.
- Reply as quickly as possible, which means in the moment if you are able.
- Make an offer while someone is engaged with your message and paying attention to you.
- Remember that a less than perfect plan/exchange now is almost always better that sending something beautifully crafted and considered that could meet the instant click-trash a few hours or days later.
On-the-spot email responsiveness is what's working now for us. Here are some recent examples
- A real estate agent (one among dozens) we contacted about using one of our titles as a closing gift did us the courtesy of acknowledging our offer (“It’s beautiful, I will keep it in mind…”). Instead of accepting that and moving on, instead of writing back a simple, “Thanks, please do,” I wrote back immediately with an offer, “May I send a sample to your office so that you and all of the agents who work there can take a look at it?” She was engaged and replied back right away with a friendlier, “Yes, please do, that would be lovely.” I confirmed that I would send it and also added, “Great! After everyone see it, please just use it as a coffee table book in your reception area.” She will, of course, do whatever she wants with it, most likely using it as a closing gift, but the idea is there. More potential, ideal buyers are likely to see it this way and, wow, it is a handsome coffee table book she is more likely to conclude all on her own.
- One of our retail customers emailed us an unexpected re-order. Instead of just shipping the books, instead of responding with a more perfunctory, “thanks for the order,” my reply while we were engaged included an offer, “Great to hear from you. I’m including a complimentary copy of our newest title with the order so you can see if it’s something you’d like to carry at the store down the road.”
- A TV producer we emailed about a story idea wrote back that he indeed might be interested in our proposed guest. While the communication opening existed, we struck back with the information he requested and this: “If you’re interested in x, you might also like y, who blah, blah, blah. Here’s that author’s credentials for your consideration as well.”
- A blogger agreed that she would like a review copy of a new title and that we were right, it would be a good fit with her interview format. Then that blogger mentioned something in passing about a chronic illness support group, which had nothing to do with our book, her blog, or previous information exchanged between us. As an author we work with has a similar chronic illness, our email reponsiveness easily shifted to conversation centered around that coincidence—Did she think that author would also be a good interview for her site?
As you may have noticed, email responsiveness is just a variation of Win to the X (
) and Service Marketing (
There are three interrelated habits here to practice:
- First, respond as quickly as possible to author/book emails (ones that come to you out of the blue and replies to the pitches and inquiries that you send out).
- Second, maintain a bit of respectful (short, sweet, useful, non-pushy) engagement when you have someone’s precious attention.
- Third, use the opening to make an offer that’s possibly worthwhile to them that also meshes with your author goals.
30 Reviews in 90 Days
Remember just how many people you know from reviewing all your contact lists in Reconnecting (
)? Are you ready to rally 30 of those people to your aid this summer?
Join our summer challenge to keep the Amazon algorithm humming in favor of your book by enlisting 30 people (people you know or people people you know know) to post an Amazon review for your book in the coming months.
Read the process below and let me know if you’ll be joining the challenge. We’ll send a free copy of one of our new books to every author who completes the challenge and give a $25 Amazon gift card to the participating author who gets the most reviews in June, July, and August.
- Go back to your contact lists and make a new list of everyone who either may be willing to post a review of your book on Amazon or may know someone willing to do so. What kind of people may know lots of people interested in a free book and writing a review about it? First of all, perhaps most people. Second of all, people who know readers, college students, retirees, those perhaps with surplus time on their hand. Third, people who are in book clubs, author/writer groups, or have an interest in your subject.
- Try to get a list of at least 100 people to ask (always build in the cushion).
- Now, 30 reviews in any 90-day period is valuable, but what we’re going to do here (my company is joining the challenge too with one of our new books) is get a steady march of reviews posted on Amazon. We’re aiming for one review every three days to keep the computer brain behind Amazon taking continual note that people care about your book.
- Specifically, this key element of our campaign means we’re going to ask reviewers to commit to a three-day time slot this summer in which they will post their review.
- You can keep track of who says they will do that when on paper or in a spreadsheet. We’ll be using a great free program my son’s school uses for committees and potlucks—SignUp Genius—and then reporting back on its effectiveness for author / publisher projects like this one.
- Begin the asking. Emails, phone calls, in person. Invite people through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Outline the challenge and your request, and have readers commit to a time slot in June, July, or August.
- Remember to also ask those who you know have already read the book.
- Consider asking people you don’t know. GoodReads, LibraryThing, and LinkedIn groups are potential sources of readers.
- Come up with a system of reminding helpers about their review slot a week in advance.
- Check to see if people have posted their review on schedule, and jot them a quick email of thanks.
If you found this newsletter useful, will you please share it with other established and aspiring nonfiction authors you know?
Coming soon in
Conspired, Vol. 7:
Scaffolding; Other People's Parties; Changing Minds for the Better; Coffee, Tea, Breakfast, Lunch
© 2017 by Sharon Woodhouse
No part of this newsletter may be reproduced without permission.
Sharon Woodhouse | Conspire Creative
Cover Design Review and
Other Cover Services
Are you "on the chart" (see promotion at the bottom of
)? If so, it's very easy to request a review of your cover or assistance with any aspect of creating a book cover (design, back cover wording, title, pricing, spine, components, file prep). In about 20–40 minutes time ($30–$60 fee), you can have a professional evaluation of your cover, answers to your questions, suggestions for polishing, and tips on what to do next.
can also provide referrals for professional book cover designers (ebooks and/or print) as well as hold your hand through a crowdsourced cover design process (such as at