Editing has been, for my entire career, my bread and butter. However, I received so many requests to enter the writing process earlier over the last few years that I added coaching to my services in addition to editing. When you hire a copy editor, your manuscript is written. You can still make big changes to its structure, but that’s often easier to do before or during writing. Or what if you want someone to help you flesh out the contents before you start writing? Or what if you need help defining your goals for writing a book to make sure that your writing supports said goal (or goals)? Or what if you need help knowing how to approach beta readers and obtain reviews? Maybe you need help with all of that, or maybe just one or two or those things. Enter a book writing coach.Read More
Resource Roundup: Book Publishing PostsRead More
Let’s be honest. There’s a reason you create content: To get your message out there so you’re visible and relevant. Of course that’s why. After all, you need people to notice you if your business is going to be a success.
But no one will to pay attention to your content if that’s the approach you take with it. It’s time to grab a new agenda and make your content about your audience. Not you and your products and services.
No matter who you’re marketing to, online business owners have very little time. So if you want them to consume your content, you need to make it worth their while. Here’s how:
Every piece of content you create needs to offer value to your audience. When you’re writing your blog posts or nurturing emails or filming that new YouTube video, think about what you’re trying to teach your audience. Even when you’re creating sales copy, know that readers want to learn something—so give them the value they want so they’re left wanting more. They’re more likely to poke around a bit to see what other value they can grab from you.
Tell Them What’s in it For Them
Be sure to spotlight what benefits your audience will receive. When you’re creating content about a new strategy or approach in your industry, readers need to be clear about what they get out of it. And if you’re selling a product or service, what’s the big gain for buyers? Don’t simply spotlight the perks; focus on the outcome.
Your audience wants to know what’s in it for them. Tell them in your content. (Tweet)
Make it Easy to Digest
No one wants to read a wall of words on your blog. Or a 400-word Facebook post. Or watch a 40-minute YouTube video. Your content needs to be easy for your audience to digest so they actually get through it and get something out of it.
Unless you’re creating a true tutorial, keep your YouTube videos under 10 minutes (and under 5 minutes is even better). When you’re writing for the internet, use subheads, bullet points, bolded text and Click to Tweets to break up your text. There’s truly nothing wrong with a 1,000-word blog post as long as you make it easy to read.
Get to the Point
About that 1,000-word blog post. It’s true there’s nothing wrong with it, as long as you have that much to say. While long form content tends to get better traction on search engines, that doesn’t mean you should drone on and on just to make your post longer. If you only have 300 words of valuable content, your audience will appreciate you so much more if you leave it at that.
In other words, write until you’re done writing. Then stop. Forced content looks and feels forced, and your audience will notice.
Don’t force long form content. Write until you’re done. Then stop. (Tweet)
Find Out What Your Audience Needs
How do you determine what content you’ll create? If you’re listening to your audience, they’ll tell you what they need. And that’s what you should be building your products and services around. Sure, you have to be excited about it too. But unless they need the information in that blog post or have asked about what’s in your latest video, they’re not likely to click on it.
Pay attention in Facebook groups. Write down questions your clients are asking you. Keep track of requests that come in through email. Look at mistakes you’re seeing. And then build your content strategy around those ideas—not simply what will sell your next course.
Even when you’re creating content for your audience, you’re really creating it for yourself and your business. Because when you’re creating what your audience craves and needs, you’ll be the first person they come to when they need to buy what you’re offering.
So take stock of what you’re putting out there in the online space. It’s never too late to make a shift to help your audience and your business.
Abby is a content strategist and coach for small business owners, helping to get her clients' written message out to their audience, in their own voice and on their own terms. She specializes in working with female-owned, service-based businesses to generate ideas and strategies that help to move their businesses forward with content that attracts the perfect clients. Abby firmly believes in the power of educating and empowering business owners so they can grow their businesses without breaking the bank. Community over competition is truly her jam!
When she’s not crafting words or coaching her clients through their own writing roadblocks, you can find her exploring the mountains near her home in Phoenix or finding new ways to get her teenaged daughter to take a break from the school books and technology. You can follow her on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook.
This month I’m reviewing Happy Pretty Messy: Cultivating Beauty and Bravery When Life Gets Tough by Natalie Wise. This is a fabulous read for anyone, but especially entrepreneurs!Read More
When it comes to writing, people generally fall into one of two camps. There are the people who love writing and do it whenever and wherever they can, and then there are the people who hide under their beds to avoid ever writing anything again. (Ok, I lied. There’s a third, small camp that doesn’t care one way or the other about writing...but they don’t matter here.)
If you’re in the second camp, it’s possible that you’re suffering from a writing mindset block.Read More
Years ago, authors wrote a manuscript, photocopied it, sent it off to whichever book publisher they hoped would publish it, and waited. Those days are long gone. Most book publishers today, save for a few small and some niche houses, don’t work directly with the author until they’ve decided to publish a book. Rather, authors work through literary agents.
Today authors query a literary agency with their manuscript idea rather than a publishing house. The agent then queries (pitches) publishing houses on behalf of an author. When a publisher is interested, the agent negotiates the best deal possible for the author. A publishing house signs a book and handles the production (editorial and design), printing, and distribution tasks that self-publishing authors are responsible for. Authors typically work with publicity departments to coordinate marketing efforts, as authors assume some responsibility for marketing and promoting their books in today’s book publishing climate.Read More
About the Path to Publication Series
For the next couple weeks I’ll be breaking down the two most common paths to book publication: self-publishing and traditional publishing. That way, you know the ins and outs and can make an informed decision about with path suits you best. Always remember: There is no one right path to book publication
So what does it mean to self-publish? Essentially, you are the author and the publisher. You’re listed as the publisher on the book’s copyright page, you publish the book at your expense, and you assume responsibility for producing a professional book and distributing it to the public.
When you self-publish, you’re in the driver’s seat — which is one of the reasons so many entrepreneurs choose this path. They want to be in control. With that comes responsibility, as you are essentially acting as (or hiring) a project manager from start (idea/book topic) to finish (physical book or ebook/marketing). Instead of turning over the manuscript to a publisher and waiting for instructions about next steps (such as reviewing the copy edit or giving interviews for marketing and publicity purposes), you’re guiding the manuscript through each step until you have a finished product.
"When you self-publish, you're in the driver's seat." (Tweet)
Many companies, individuals, and services exist to assist author-entrepreneurs with the self-publishing process, at various costs, so you can heave a sigh of relief: You aren’t expected to figure it all out yourself. (Whew!) What that looks like is different for everyone. Some people hire a project manager to oversee the process and hire individual contractors. Some people hire a copy editor and a designer. Some people hire a proofreader. Some people hire all three of those people, and more.
"Many companies, individuals, and services exist to assist author-entrepreneurs with the self-publishing process." (Tweet)
Does it seem like it would be easier to hand the process over to a publisher and call it a day? Self-publishing has pros and cons. Let’s walk through some of the big ones.
So much falls into the “pro” column, but the biggest is control. As an entrepreneur, you know how critical your brand is. Your book is an extension of that brand, so you want to be in control of the book on every level: the product, the time line, the marketing plan, and more. You want to choose your cover designer — and the final design. You want to decide when the book will launch and what you will do to promote it on (and beyond) launch day.
Your book can be a passive income stream, particularly as time goes on. (Tweet)
Another big pro is financial. Your book can be a passive income stream, particularly as time goes on. (Once it’s out there in the world, it stays there. People can always find your book in an Amazon search.) When you self-publish, you keep much more of your profit. Traditional book publishing contracts are written in favor of — surprise! — the publishing house, not the author. Many authors earn just 10% of each book sold — and that’s after they’ve “earned back” any money that was paid up-front in the form of an advance. (The full term is “advance against royalties.” Let’s say a publisher offered you a deal that included a $5,000 advance and then 10% royalties after the advance “earned out.” That If your book retails for $10, that means you’re looking at $1 per book sold — AFTER the first 5,000 books sell. Tricky business!)
The flip side of having control, of course, is that you have much more work to do to keep the project moving forward than someone being published traditionally does. (More on that process in next week’s blog.) You already have a full plate.
(As someone who self-published myself, I don’t necessarily see this as a con. I knew how I wanted to position my book, and I was willing to do the work, so it made sense for me to self-publish. It didn’t hurt that the self-publishing process through Amazon is pretty foolproof.)
With regard to money, there definitely are more up-front expenses with self-publishing, as you’re paying for your team and marketing. (Don’t be fooled, though: MANY author-entrepreneurs hire editors and spend money marketing even if they publish traditionally. So it’s not necessarily an either-or situation. Unless you’re Tom Clancy or Brene Brown, you aren’t getting a six-figure marketing budget from a publishing house. Those days are long gone, publishing folks will tell you.)
MANY author-entrepreneurs hire editors and spend money marketing even if they publish traditionally. (Tweet)
When you self-publish, you need a team of experts in order to produce a professional book. You’re an expert at whatever your business is; you want to hire experts in book editing, design, and launching/marketing. Everyone has a zone of genius!
It used to be that you could pick a self-published book out quickly when placed next to a traditionally published book, because the cover looked amateur, the paper quality was not great, and it was riddled with typos because the author had not hired a proofreader, let alone an editor. That’s no longer the case (thank goodness!) and today, self-publishing is a respected path to publication. One of the biggest reasons for that is that so many self-published authors today take the publishing process seriously and realize that they need help from publishing professionals. They hire editors, cover designers, and other professionals to produce a top-quality product. Publishers have also stepped up their game as far as paper quality, cover paper material, and more.
When you self-publish, you need a team of experts in order to produce a professional book. (Tweet)
Entrepreneurs often know that they SHOULD publish a book to help up-level their business but the process seems so daunting. I explain all the time that it isn’t difficult; it’s just unfamiliar. Don’t let that stop you!
This month I’m reviewing Book Launch Blueprint: The Step-by-Step Guide to a Bestselling Launch by Tim Grahl. Grab a copy if you haven’t already checked out this book. Wonderful read!Read More
ISBN is book publishing-speak for International Standard Book Number. It’s a 13-digit number that’s used to identify and track (for sales inventory purposes) every book that is published for retail sale. Many self-publishing authors don’t pay attention to it, but that can be a mistake. This post explains what you need to know about ISBNs and how they affect you as an author.Read More
What is it about that harmless little apostrophe that trips up so many people? People ask me often about issues regarding plurals and possessives (and especially the dreaded combo of a plural possessive!). The basic definitions are simple enough, right?
Plural signifies more than one.
Possessive signifies ownership and belonging.
Yet this is one of those often-confused aspects of English, so this week we’re going old school — as in, elementary (middle?) school English class for a quick grammar lesson. Ready?Read More
Regardless of the format your sales page takes (whether you have a separate website for your book or it’s a page on your current site), it’s critical that you have one. You must have a way to capture emails to stay in touch with your readers, and Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other booksellers are under no obligation to (nor do they) share customer information with you. Think of your book sales page as a “one-stop shop” for anything and everything a potential reader would want to know about your book.
Whoever manages your website should be able to add a page or create a new site for you. If you want a simple option, check out booklaunch.io. There are paid and free versions to set up a sales page for your book if you aren’t technically inclined and don’t have an entire new site in your budget.
Keep in mind that this page isn’t taking the place of your book sales page on Amazon, but Amazon should be people’s second stop, not first. If you send them to Amazon first, they may never make it to your website, they may never sign up for a freebie you’re offering, and they may never check out your other offers and services. So where do you begin?Read More
You won’t know what the market looks like for a book like yours without conducting a book marketing analysis. This is an important step of the publishing process whether you’re planning to publish traditionally or you’re planning to self-publish. (In fact, if you’re publishing traditionally, I can almost guarantee that this will be a required part of your submissions package.)Read More
Sometimes book titles themselves are catchy and clever but don’t actually tell you what a book is about. Enter your subtitle. The subtitle can expand on the title. Don’t get me wrong: You WANT a catchy title so that it’s memorable, but you also want to be clear to readers what they’re getting in your book.
"Sometimes book titles themselves are catchy and clever but don't actually tell you what a book is about. Enter your subtitle." (Tweet)
Case in point: I recently received an email from a former editorial colleague, from my days working for publishers directly. She congratulated me on the publication of my book, Write.Publish.Market. and said that she had purchased 20 copies to gift to her editing clients. While I certainly appreciated her support (and those sales!), my book isn’t going to help her clients, who publish in academic journals. If my colleague had read my subtitle, she would have known: From Idea to Published Book: The Creative Entrepreneur’s Blueprint. My book is for book writers, not journal article writers, and it’s for creative entrepreneurs, not academics.Read More
Every year is the year I’m going to declutter and minimize the “stuff” I have hanging around in my house. And every year…it doesn’t happen.
As a business owner, I’m in the same boat. I want to reduce the number of services I offer so I can simply focus on what I love (but I love it all). I want to stop being so busy and start getting more done (but there’s so much to do). Sigh.
I’ve read all the books and pretended to do all the homework, but yet nothing changes. So when I heard about the book Essentialism, I knew I needed to check it out. And you know what? I just think I might have gotten some key takeaways that can help me get to a more essentialist mindset.Read More
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know the ways a book can help your business. To offer a quick recap, think credibility/authority, visibility, growth, and money. (You can read a full post about this HERE) A book will bring you credibility in your particular subject area, so think about what that area is. What are you known for? What do want to be known for? Then think about who your audience is (remember: It’s not everybody!) and how you’ll get in front of them. Word-of-mouth will be a huge asset with regard to book sales, but you need a bigger-picture plan, too.Read More
After hearing again and again that every business needs a blog, you finally took the plunge and added one to your website. You published some posts, and waited to be flooded with awesome new leads.
But nothing happened.
What went wrong? A blog isn’t “Field of Dreams.” Just because you built it, doesn’t necessarily mean anyone will come.Read More
How do you know if your book topic is worth pursuing? With hundreds of thousands of books published each year, are there really any original ideas anymore? Well, not EXACTLY. Before you get discouraged, though, know that your particular take on a topic IS new and original. (Whew.) Validating your book idea will ensure that there is a market for your book. Of course, that does not guarantee book sales.Read More
Do you have questions about writing? Lots of creative entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, and bloggers do. Here are some that I’m asked regularly enough that I thought, “Hey, that would make a good roundup blog post, Jodi.”Read More
I hear statements like these all the time from bloggers and creative entrepreneurs. Or they say they want to write a book but that “now isn’t the right time.” That might be true for a small number of people, but for others: nope. These are all just excuses. The truth is, you only REALLY need two things to start your book today: a plan and accountability.Read More
Chances are, when you’re writing a blog post or article, you save your notes in a Google doc or maybe even in Evernote. A book is much more complicated project to organize, due to the volume of material. Whereas you might save an article or two to read before writing a blog post, you might have 50 or 100 bookmarked for book research. A Word or Google doc can become unwieldy and overwhelm you when you realize just how much information there is to keep track of, let alone in an organized manner: articles to read, websites to look at, hashtags to search on Twitter, people to interview. Enter Trello.Read More