I am asked on a daily basis about traditional publishing versus self-publishing. (Did you check out the Path to Publication series to see which one is right for you?) Here are the five most common myths people seem to have — and why they really ARE just myths.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
What is it about the start of a new year that’s so refreshing? I love the look of a blank calendar, just waiting to be filled in. The whole year is before us, filled with possibility.
I set goals for each year rather than resolutions, and breaking them down in a realistic way has done wonders for my self-esteem (AKA I set manageable goals that I am realistically able to achieve — versus feeling like a failure when not achieving goals that were unreachable to begin with). If you read my 2016 recap[LINK TO POST], it shouldn’t surprise you that I have big things in store for 2017, both personally and for Jodi Brandon Editorial, hoping to capitalize on the growth and momentum of last year.
This list contains my big, scary goals, more of an overview than a checklist of every single thing this year holds, as well as some ongoing tasks I want to continue in 2017. (Feel free to hold me accountable as the year goes on. And stay tuned, as plans are subject to change, right?)
Promote/Refresh Existing Products
What I love about books is that they’re evergreen: Write.Publish.Market. the book I released this past fall, is out there, available for purchase anytime. I recognize that without continued effort on my part, though, the days of big sales (like those that came during the launch period) are behind me. I plan to work on book marketing a little each week, with a bigger push (such as participating in a blog tour) quarterly.
I’m planning (and have started) a refresh of Book Prep Bootcamp based on feedback from the initial course participants, and that will also be evergreen. The possibility of more people starting their books makes me warm and fuzzy!
Launch New Products and Services
People have been asking me about writing coaching and a group program for a while now, and I have finally formulated a program that I think suits people’s needs: The Write Life, a combo virtual book planning retreat, writing mastermind, and concluding with an in-person writing retreat. We’re going to get your books written, friends! Look for more information about this one, because it’s coming soon!
This fall I’ll be launching the follow-up to Book Prep Bootcamp: Self-Publishing Bootcamp. I’ve had quite a few people tell me that their manuscript is finished but they don’t know what comes next. I’ve got you covered! I started outlining the modules for this earlier this year and think it’s going to be super helpful for my clients and others looking for post-writing guidance.
Before those two big launches, though, come smaller ones: a Lunch + Learn series on Facebook Live every other Thursday (beginning tomorrow!) as well as a YouTube channel. If you have anything you’d like to hear about that’s writing- or publishing-related, let me know.
One of Jodi Brandon Editorial’s core values is “Collaboration is king,” so you know this is a big priority for me. I hope to guest post on others’ blogs, and have guest posters on mine, throughout the year, as well as be a podcast guest on several of my favorite listens. Open to other ideas, too; working together not only brings me joy, but invigorates my creativity!
I want this to be a year of connecting: with my team, with my clients, with the online creative community, and with people in my life. (One of my personal goals is more downtime, after a hectic-beyond-hectic 2016. I think that will help with this goal!) Coffee chats were such a huge part of my 2016, and I want that to continue in 2017. (If we haven’t connected yet and you want to, please reach out. I’d love to share a cuppa joe with you!)
Behind the Scenes: Systems
Workflows and systems are always in the mix for improvement. One you’ll see very soon is updated copy on my website. Why is this one of those tasks that always moves to the bottom of the list? (Note to self: Update testimonials and the like more often, Jodi.) I introduced book writing coaching last year and STILL haven’t added the page to my site. That’s about to change, too.
My personal goals fall more into general categories than tasks. When December 2017 rolls around, I just want to feel good about where I am in each of these areas.
I’m not getting any younger, friends! I need to move more. Plain and simple. I downloaded the Couch-to-5K app and, though I haven’t been a real runner since my high school track days, I can certainly get myself out there for a few miles. Fresh air and quiet time for the win. This area also encompasses my goal to cook more at home and try more new recipes. I’m sure there will still be nights of “Let’s have cereal for dinner” in my future, but meal prepping works if it’s done consistently, so . . . I’m good about drinking a lot of water and am lucky that I enjoy healthy foods (and don’t have a big sweet tooth), but could do better with meal planning and meal prep. It just makes the week go so much smoother, doesn’t it?
Each night before I crash, I take time to write three things I’m grateful for from the day. Sometimes they’re big things; sometimes they’re not. Anything goes here. I started this practice years ago when I was struggling with infertility and, frankly, needed a lifeline to feeling good about something. Some (okay, most) days I struggled to think of just one thing to be thankful for, but it became a habit that I truly value. I believe you can find something — anything, no matter how small and seemingly insignificant — to be grateful for each day during dark times. This also falls in line with another Jodi Brandon Editorial core value: Begin each day with a grateful heart.
As a semi-extroverted introvert, I crave downtime. I am a total homebody, especially in the warmer months when we can have a glass of wine on the deck before dinner, eat outside, and there are extra hours of daylight. With a big extended family, a hectic travel schedule for my husband, and a growing business for me, downtime doesn’t happen on its own, so I plan to make it a bigger priority in 2017. My husband and I love to entertain, so more cookouts with cousins and family, more happy hours with our neighbors, and more nights around the fire pit as the weather cools are on the docket. (Just to be clear: Cool weather, yes. Cold weather like the snow outside my window right now, no thanks. Flip-flop weather for the win, please!)
What do your 2017 goals look like? Let’s hold each other accountable and make 2017 our best year yet!
If a book is (or might be) in your 2017 plans, join me on Facebook Live tomorrow, January 5, 2017, at 12PM EST. I’ll be talking about how to account for a book project in your 2017 planning!
Did you miss Part I: Writing? If so, check it out here.
While the manuscript was with the editor, and then with the designer, I kicked marketing into gear. I signed up for Angela Ford’s How to Plan a Book Launch course since this is something I haven’t done before. (I have published two other books, both traditionally and both more than 10 years ago, which meant my publisher handled marketing and promo, not to mention 10 years is a lifetime when it comes to marketing and promo.) From working in the publishing world for about 20 years, I felt pretty confident that I knew the basics, but I didn’t want to forget to do something obvious. (How embarrassing would that be?!)
To put together my plan, I started with the budget. I didn’t mind spending money but I wanted to be strategic about it since I see the book as a long-term source of income. Sure, there will be more sales during the initial launch than will drip in (aside from during future periods of promo), but this is a marathon in my mind, not a sprint. I’ll highlight a couple things I did here.
I started with Facebook ads. My wonderful VA handled the testing of two different Facebook ads so that we could use the better-performing ad during launch. Honestly, I was a bit disappointed in the results. Because it’s so hard to know what the issue was (the book? The image in the ad? Who knows?), I’m not going to drive myself batty trying to figure it out.
I also have a book sales page, which will remain active so that visitors to my website can learn about the book. It includes a look at the table of contents, reviews, a link to purchase, and more. The more detailed you can make this page, the better, in my opinion. I also have my photo, my bio, and information about the book.
For “free’ advertising, I did a countdown on social media with a cute countdown graphic coupled with pull quotes from the book text. These were well received and I would do them again.
All the while, I was lining up launch ambassadors, folks who would help me share the news of the launch with their own audiences. In the end, I had 43 people who had at some point offered to share the news of the book when the launch came. To make their “job” easier (always important when someone is doing you a favor!), I created copy and graphics that they could use and asked them to share it on whichever medium(s) they preferred. Some people used my copy, some added to it, and some created their own. I am 100% confident the book would not have launched as strongly without these ladies and their generosity.
Launch day itself was, as you know if you’ve ever launched a course or product before, exhausting and a blur. I had A LOT of support from my launch ambassadors, from my friends, and from the creative community in general. (In fact, it was a bit overwhelming and my husband could not understand why I ended the day in happy tears!) My only snafu, honestly, was an issue with Amazon that caused the paperback to not be available on launch day (even though it was there the day before!), but in the grand scheme of things, so what? The book still launched, most people bought an ebook rather than waiting for a paperback, and now the book is out there in the world. At the end of the day, I’m calling the day a success.
Have you ever launched a book? What’s your best book launch tip? I’m taking notes. You never know, I might write another book someday.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I recently wrote a book (Write.Publish.Market. launched YESTERDAY, as a matter of fact.) Since we all love “behind the scenes” peeks into other entrepreneurs’ lives, I thought it would be fun to recap the launch, from the start. This week’s post covers the writing part of the book, and next week I’ll talk about the launch itself.
Because I was self-publishing Write.Publish.Market., I got to select the launch date, and I selected November 1st. I wanted it to be early enough so that it wouldn’t get lost in the shuffle during the holiday season but late enough that I had time to get everything done properly. I knew the majority of the writing would be over the summer, because the book needed to be in my editor’s hands by Labor Day. When I work with writing coaching clients, I advise them to create a research schedule and writing schedule, so I followed my own advice. My plan was to brain dump my table of contents in early June, research the three phases of the book (writing, self-publishing, and book marketing) for the balance of June, and write in July and August. My best writing sessions (which I know, because I write every day and track the sessions) cap at about 1,000 words, so my schedule included almost all 1,000-word sessions, with some 2,000-word sessions as summer wore on.
I walk the talk when it comes to brain dumping. (You can read about the process here.) I spent a couple days narrowing the focus of the brain dump, picking out particular ideas and then doing micro brain dumps of those. By the time I was finished, the brain dump papers were a hot mess — but I could see the book taking shape, which is EXACTLY what you want out of this process. Brain dump: CHECK.
The research phase went fairly smoothly. I took my brain dumps and organized them into what would become the table of contents. I then decided which areas needed research to supplement what I’d be writing: where interviews would be helpful, where statistics would be important to include, and so on.
I know there are, generally speaking, two schools of thought regarding productivity: eat the frog (i.e., do the biggest/hardest thing on the schedule) first, or start small and gain momentum. For this process, I decided to start easy and gain momentum: The research for the writing phase of the book was done, for the most part, because I offer a course called Book Prep Bootcamp that’s all about getting yourself ready to write a book: idea generation, developing the structure, conducting and organizing research, and so forth. So it was more a matter of determining what information made the most sense to include in the book rather than hard-core research. My knowledge about self-publishing was extensive but secondhand. I work with publishing clients every day, guiding them through the process, but I had never done it firsthand. (Now I know why they drag their heels about some parts of the process!) And the final section of the book, however, was the opposite of the first: I had NO in-depth information in any coherent format about book marketing since I’d never conducted a true book launch of my own before. I set up a schedule of what I’d research each day so that I didn’t end up down the Twitter or Google rabbit hole. Some days it was a topic, some days it was a hashtag, some days it was a particular expert in a topic. I know lots of authors who don’t enjoy researching and pass it off on a VA, but I happen to love it. After two and a half weeks, my research was complete and I was ready to start writing. Everything was moving along just as I’d planned. Research: CHECK.
Okay, time to start writing. I blocked off the days in July and August that I knew would be unavailable for writing, for whatever reason: family days, an annual volunteer commitment in mid-July, etc. As we all know, life happens and our well-crafted plans are disrupted. That was the case for me this summer. Long story short, my nephew visiting from California unexpectedly spent two weeks at my house smack in the middle of my writing schedule because my mom, his grandmother, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. My mind was all over the place, but I worked when I could and wrote when I could — and thanked my lucky stars every day that I had left some wiggle room in my schedule, because I sure needed it! The MOST helpful part of that time was that my brain dump was thorough and well constructed, so I had, essentially, an annotated outline to work from each day as I wrote.
The writing itself went as one might expect: There were good days and there were not-so-good days. On the latter, you just have to dust yourself off and try again the next day. That’s what revising is for! I’m a big believer in “Just keep swimming,” and that applies to writing, too. I kept going even when the writing was lousy rather than spending an entire writing session trying to craft one perfect paragraph or section. Momentum is so important when writing a book due to the sheer number of words you’re working with. Writing a book is hard, particularly when you’re running a business and dealing with regular, everyday life, let alone when something extraordinary is happening. I doubled-down when I needed to and got the manuscript finished, though. Writing: CHECK.
I tell my clients daily that the longer they can take away from the manuscript, the better. when it comes to revision. Our eyes play tricks on us and read what we THINK we wrote, rather than what we actually did write. This seems to happen more frequently when we’re looking at text we’ve looked at repeatedly. I scheduled editing to begin just after Labor Day, and I had a conference scheduled during the the final week of August. I was able, then, to take several days away from the text, which allowed me to return to it with fresh eyes for the self-editing and revising processes. I know that’s not always possible, but it really is so important and makes SUCH a difference. Revising: CHECK.
The next month of the process consisted of me working on marketing and publishing tasks while the manuscript was being edited and, then, formatted.
Stay tuned!. Next week I’ll pick up here and talk about launch preparation and launch week. In the meantime, if you’d like to snag a copy of Write.Publish.Market., you can do so here. I would love to hear what you think.