Friday, August 31, 2012
Something else I just learned is that I-pad and I-phone are Kindle enabled. Which means you can read mobi on your I-products without having to buy a kindle. Kindle also has free apps for computers. I have read a number of books on my computer even though I own a kindle. Great for taking notes
Thursday, August 30, 2012
In a recent report - “The Hunger Games” is reported to have sold 4:1 Kindle to Amazon on the Amazon platform. That doesn’t take into consideration books sales in bookstores, nor does it reflect other sales on-line but it’s a very impressive ratio since this is one of the best selling books today on what is the biggest on-line publisher right now. Simon and Schuster just announced that 21% of its sales were digital sales. That means a conventional paper book company is receiving nearly 1/4th of its income from the digitals.
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
High concept movies are the formula movies the bit studios put out. They come from a pitch given to a producer that in only a few words describes the movie. The best pitch I’ve heard recently is “Cowboys and Aliens” – you simply don’t have to say more. Think of the pitch for Legally Blond – a stereotypical dumb blond goes to Harvard and becomes valedictorian of her class. Think of the pitch for Miss Congeniality. The least attractive, most unpleasant and unpopular woman in the FBI goes underground in a beauty pageant and wins the title Miss Congeniality. You give the pitch line and then you have to think of the ways in which to make that happen. The pitch line doesn’t have to completely describe everything that happens, just the through plot that makes the story interesting.
Monday, August 27, 2012
Book Clubs have a nice feel to them, so why won’t I do them? Because every minute I’m not writing I’m losing money. I have to get to a Book Club or Signing at my expense – gas, wear and tear on the car. 5-10 Book Club members may buy the books from Amazon or I may have to supply them. I make between $2.06 and $6.00 per book at the signing and perhaps I generate some word of mouth. Then I spend time talking about my book, signing my book and socializing. So that’s several hours out of a day not writing. Since I can write a $2.99 short story in an afternoon, two at the most, and I can sell 100 -1,000 perhaps more over time each time I post a short story, that’s $300-$3,000 I’ve lost not including gas by taking time to sell 5-10 books. As nice as it is, it’s not worth it. In the business world it’s called Return On Investment. Book Signings have even less to recommend them. Since I publish on the digitals, I limit my marketing to the digitals. I participate in every interview I can get on line. But mostly I figure out what people want to read and deliver it to them.
Friday, August 24, 2012
Do not confuse ISBN numbers and their barcodes with product barcodes. By products I mean tapes, CDs, DVDs, T-shirts, etc. Product Barcodes are different animals all together. You can get product barcodes at: www.buyabarcode.com (888) 446-CODE (2633) Bar Codes are required for most in-store sales these days - they are used to track inventory and shopping patterns among other things. This is a good company, I've used it for Suzy Prudden's DVDs.
Thursday, August 23, 2012
ISBN numbers are numbers that have international recognition for books. Bowkers.com manages ISBN Numbers. You can’t get into bookstores without one. However, you can post on most of the digitals without one. You see them on every single book you buy (paperback and hardcover)right in the bar code. You can get them at: Bar Code Graphics, Inc. 444 N. Michigan Ave #3500 Chicago, IL 60611 800-662-0701 x145 312-595-0725 Fax Bar Code Graphics will also sell you a bar code number so you don’t have to get one at Bowkers.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
The newest announcement of digital expansion comes from Barnes and Noble http://finance.yahoo.com/news/barnes-noble-offer-award-winning-113000173.html which has announced that it’s opening up business in England. It’s a couple of years behind Amazon in that respect – as it has been throughout the digital explosion – but it’s a good idea. I do well in England. However Amazon is already in Germany, Italy, Spain, France and as of today in India as well as England. I have some sales in Germany - none in Italy, Spain and France. Too early to tell about India. The interesting thing is what sells in which countries, informs what you write of course. The interesting thing is the way the world has opened to us. Quite marvelous.
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
One of the people I communicate with said she writes her blog as if she was talking to a client. Indeed that’s how everything gets written. If you know your reader (or the person you want to be your reader) you talk directly to that person – in terms of fiction you write a novel for someone who likes your genre and reads your competition. As in every business identifying your market informs everything. I remember going out to rent an office and the needs of my clients informed access to parking, access to elevators and so forth. It seems like the most obvious bit of basic business 101…AND a surprising number of people don’t do it. Isn’t it fun how business is business whether it’s writing books or selling hardware?
Monday, August 20, 2012
A great way to write a book if you’re not a writer is to blog about your subject. An idea a day for a month or two will give you a meaty little book. If you’re in a profession you know a lot about that profession and each professional brings something unique to the way they do business. You can tell people about what you do in paragraphs – that way they don’t get overwhelmed while you talk about what you do. Ditto for a product – what attracted you to the product and how has it helped you. Ditto for the benefits of your product – for example who can use it, how and why. You can get a free blog at www.blogspot.com. However…blogs and articles are not books. They have a different rhythm and a different arc. Make certain to adjust them to the book.
Friday, August 17, 2012
Writing, like every other business is 20 percent writing and 80 percent marketing. Even if you’re published by a big house you’re going to have to do your own marketing. Do you remember Sarah Palin driving all over the country for book signings? Have you heard Robert Reich promoting his books on MSNBC? Every single blurb that I have published on Facebook and on my blogs are part of my marketing strategy and they take time, effort and thought. They also take time away from writing the books and stories that are my product. In many ways the product is the easy part. Whatever your business the 80/20 rule applies even when your business is in the arts.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
For those of you who spend too much time on the social media – or other on-line addictions – let me introduce a Chrome App to help. Strict Pomodoro can be activated when you want to get something like writing done and you’re experiencing resistance in the form of internet distractions. It gives you 25 minutes during which time you cannot access the social media. If you’re truly dedicated to work avoidance, you can then clean your oven – or you can do the writing or whatever else you’ve been resisting. At the end of 25 minutes the App gives you a break and then you can click it on again and get another 25 minutes of work. It’s a great way to build exercise into your day. Instead of going back on line to check your email, walk around the block before beginning your next block of work. It’s only accessible from Chrome. And it’s a marvelous little tool.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Case histories are very popular in writing. They make pages of dull explanation come alive. AND you have to be very careful not to open yourself to legal action when using them. There are a number of ways to handle case histories in writing. First you can contact the person you are writing about and ask for permission to use their story in your book. Be sure go get that permission in writing and be sure to ask if you can use his or her real name in the book. If they say “yes” you’re covered. If they say you can’t use their real name make a footnote that says “Not her real name.” Referencing the real name is also done with a footnote. If a digital publisher program will now allow footnotes simply put the information in parentheses just behind the story or the story title. Finally, if you do not get permission to use a specific story you can write a composite story. Use different parts from different people’s stories so that it is clear to a client or patient that you did not use their story in your book. I generally put in “not his real name” for double protection and to give an edge of credibility to the story.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
By looking at what your competition has done you can research their keywords and learn how to place yourself on the internet. You can look at their covers and see what’s appealing about them, research consistent colors and themes. You can see what they’ve talked about and identify what you can offer to the field that’s different. Successful competition is your greatest teacher in all areas of your field. I’m fairly sure that applies across the board to every kind of business. Learning from your competitors doesn’t mean you are stealing from them. I am not promoting plagiarism. Learning from them means you are unearthing all the different possibilities in your own field. If you quote from your competition at length, be sure to check with their publisher for permission. Usually permission is given because it promotes sales, sometimes it isn’t and you open yourself for suits. And don’t forget to credit them if you do quote them. Honoring others in your field is the highest compliment.
Monday, August 13, 2012
Suzy Prudden and I have written a book called “Body Wisdom” which is about the connection between your body and your life. I used the information we developed in that Body Wisdom book in my book “The Character Book.” Example: The Nose represents how you present yourself in the world. The best story example of the nose is Cyrano – who was so embarrassed by his large nose that he used a surrogate suitor - the very handsome but not very intelligent Christian - to woo the fair Roxanne. Roxanne fell in love with Christian because of his intellect not his looks and both Cyrano and Roxanne were deprived of their great love because of Cyrano’s nose. Quasimodo in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” had a deformation in his upper back – the area of betrayal. Body parts and what they represent in people’s lives are wonderful character traits and great places to begin character development. Writing “The Character Book” was one of the most delightful exercises I’ve ever done. It made me so aware of the skill other writers bring to their craft. It makes me think when I’m writing about what I should add to my characters in their development. I wish I had had it when I was an actress. I consider it the best bathroom reading available because the information comes in small bits. Much like this blog.
Friday, August 10, 2012
They are vitally important to sales. When you’re working in keywords in Kindle in that front sales page, you will notice that on some of the keywords numbers come up. I used to think that that was the number of people searching for the keyword…it’s actually the number of people using the keyword. It is better to go with a lower number that is a closer fit than with a bigger number that 20,000 people are also using. Also, finding descriptions (several keywords in a cluster) rather than just single words will bring the reader you’re looking for closer to you. Look for the long string combinations with the shorter numbers and then make note of them and use them on Smashwords, Kobo and Nook as well. In this exercise, you are looking for YOUR reader, the person who is looking for your book or product with keywords, more in terms either of people searching generally or others using the same word is not necessarily better. The same hold’s true for your business. Narrowing your market in big venues like yellow pages is always better as long as you know that people are looking for what you’re selling. Example from my old days…”Weight Loss” are terrible keywords. They encompass everything and everyone everywhere. "Los Angeles Weight Loss" is better because at least you’re only competing in one city. "West Los Angeles Weight Loss" narrows the field a lot. "West Los Angeles Weight Loss Hypnosis" is about as narrow as you’re going to get. So, when the yellow pages salesman tells you that they got 50,000 hits for "Weight Loss"… don’t bother to be impressed. That’s not a good thing. Look into the narrower field and see what they got if they even bothered to check. 200-300 really interested possibilities would be a nice number in that narrow field because they’re probably looking for you.
Thursday, August 9, 2012
Keywords are how your readers find you. On the digitals, limit the number of keywords you select to 10… Kindle and Nook limit for you, Smashwords doesn’t tell you until after you’ve chosen too many. This is important: Kindle has two sets of keywords and it’s vital to make certain the second set is activated. The first set is implanted into the application page you fill out when uploading your book, cover and publishing information during you’re posting process. Once the book is posted, go to Amazon.com and type in your name and the book title. THEN click on the cover picture which will bring up the sales page. THEN scroll down to “tags customers associate with this product.” Type in a keyword. Start with the genre. You should see the number of people looking for books in this genre appear. If you don’t you’re not in a specific genre and you’ll have to redefine what you’re looking for. To do that look at the keywords your competition has selected. Put in ten or so keywords. If you’ve discovered that you don’t have the right keywords in the back end because you're getting better choice selections during this process – go back and fix it. The great thing about the digitals is nothing is written in cement.
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
That actually turns to your advantage. However, the first time Smashwords refused to publish a short story of mine (3,102 words) because it didn’t have a Table of Contents I threw a temper tantrum. Then I realized it was a blessing. I only need one link to my story, but I could then link to my author page and each of my sample chapters. This accomplishes two things. First, it makes all your marketing material really easy for the reader top navigate. Second it informs the reader right at the beginning that there’s more in this short story than just the short story - that you are giving away free samples. It informs them of the additional material right in their sample package before they even buy the story. The Table of Contents on the digitals does not link to pages (you don’t paginate on the digitals because that shifts according to font size, table size and other factors) it links to chapter headings and titles. Then, as an added benefit, you can link directly to sales pages for your samples. Finally, since Smashwords makes a Table of Contents for you anyway – something along the lines of “beginning, middle and end” if you have posted one short story, you might as well take charge of the process and make a really good Table of Contents that you use as a marketing tool.
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
On the digitals after you write “The End,” refer readers to your author page which will take the reader directly to everything you’ve written. Kindle, Pubit and Smashwords all have author pages. I don’t have a sufficient number of stories up on Kobo to figure out the author page yet but I’m sure it’s there. Follow your author page link with your sale page blurbs and 200 word samples for a select number of your good sellers – or stories you want to be good sellers. You can get live links because you’re on the digitals. Make certain that your links are specific - Kindle to Amazon, Nook to Barnes & Noble and Smashwords to Smashwords. It’s a great thing to put up 200 tantalizing words because Kindle only allows 10% display of your story which (a) might not be juicy and (b) includes all your introductory information so it’s a teeny sample and giving away more is better. I keep all my individual links on separate word documents for easy cut and paste access. Notice that in the paperbacks you read they very often have the first few chapters of the next book that’s coming out in the back of the book. Same idea here. Don’t be afraid to give stuff away, lots and lots of stuff. You want to give enough to get people interested in what you have written.
Monday, August 6, 2012
...which holds true in non-fiction as well. For example people who write diet books, follow the diet book with cook books, and exercise books, and smart shopping books. The same holds true for produc ts and how they build on each other. I see buying series in my own purchasing patterns - if I like a series, I’ll snap up every book in that series because I want to find out what happens next. Every novel has an arc that takes it from beginning to resolution. Series have longer arcs. Sometimes each story is complete within itself. Sometimes a novel is actually a bridge to the next novel – same for movies. An example in a familiar movie series “The Return of the Jedi” is one of those bridge stories that gets us from the first to the third movie – a good story but not nearly as satisfying or stand alone complete as the first and third. Almost every third book in the Harry Potter series is a bridge book although JK Rowling pulls them off better than many series authors. Lee Child with his Reacher series really writes stand alone stories that are not at all dependent on each other and you can see the character evolve through the series. Always think in terms of how you can use what you’re writing in a series right from the beginning – whether you’re working in fiction or non-fiction.
Friday, August 3, 2012
If you self publish paper books Baker and Taylor (which for some reason is also on Smashwords) is probably the easiest distribution house to work with - although there are different distribution ho uses for different purposes. I have them list in my “How To Write A Book That Positions You As An Expert In Your Field.” Distribution through the distribution houses is a bear. The big distribution houses expect that if you are going to work through them that you have a national program in place. Even if you tell them that you are only going to work the California market they do not listen and then they get annoyed when you don’t make New York sales. You have to decide early in the game of writing exactly what you are going to use your books for and realistically how you’re going to market them. And most importantly how many you really need. You have to decide how much of your time you’re going to spend marketing, how you’re going to market and where. If you only need a few dozen books for back of the room sales you can go the print-on-demand route. You make less profit but you still make profit. You can make your books available on the digitals and you can make your paperback books available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Be very realistic about how much time you are going to spend marketing and what you project the results of your efforts are going to be. If you order 2,000 books that is going to mean that you have boxes and boxes of books that have to be stored somewhere. If your business pops and you suddenly need 2,000 books you can get them in a matter of weeks from your on demand printer. My advice – be very, very conservative in the beginning. Read over Create Space for print on demand. It’s an Amazon company – and I’ve had good luck with Amazon so far. Keep in mind that the bookstores don’t like Amazon – BUT the bookstores particularly the big chains like Barnes and Noble are not Indie writer friendly any way.
Thursday, August 2, 2012
An interesting side note. This week’s Smashwords informed us that five of their authors are on the New York Times Best Seller’s List. That doesn’t mean that Smashwords put them there all by itself, but it does signify the significance of the digitals in the publishing industry. If you don’t know the story – Borders went out of business because it failed to see the new digital trend. By the time Borders realized the power of the digitals, Amazon was already making 50% of its sales on their Kindle platform. Barnes and Noble had introduced Nook and was well on its way to the 50% point. Borders woke up and found that the world had changed and that didn’t have either a digital reader or a digital platform. It simply could not compete. As someone from South Africa told me – back in the paper book days they would first have to figure a way to send dollars and then they’d have to wait six weeks for a book to arrive. Now they pay in whatever currency they pay in and they get the book they want in ten seconds. The book world has been placed on it’s head. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens next.
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Writeordie.com is a program into which you type the number of words you want to write in a given time frame. Then you start to write. If you stop f or any reason, the computer starts turning colors and then it starts yelling at you. You’re allowed one bathroom break. It’s a phenomenal way to get started when you’re not in the mood to write. I use it a lot during the Write A Novel In a Month competition. Last year I got pushed by the program (and myself) so hard that instead of writing 50,000 words in the month I wrote 93,000 and now I have to unscramble all the overwriting. Generally I use it to start myself and then I copy what I’ve written and carry it back to a Microsoft page and continue without the bells and whistles. I don’t need that kind of stimulus for too many hours. It’s a brilliant program and for those who get writer’s block because it doesn’t give your internal judgmental editor time to stop you.