Archive for March, 2007

How Big Is Your Rolodex File?

March 15, 2007

This question loomed on the back of a book from best-selling author Harvey Mackay during the recent Mega Book Marketing University in Los Angeles. I was looking forward to Mackay’s talk during the sessions because of my long-term admiration for his writing and work. Each Monday I read his syndicated newspaper column in the business section of the Arizona Republic.

While Mackay told entertaining stories and used startling statistics in his talk (which was not recorded as a part of the CDs available after the session), one area stood out to me—his Mackay 66 customer profile (available on his website). This profile was included in our written material at the conference and involves four pages of 66 questions. For each new customer, Mackay trained his employees to collect this information, put it into a database and use it to strengthen their relationships. It’s little wonder the Mackay Envelope Company continues today as a huge success.

Each participant in the Mega Book Marketing University was given a copy of a little booklet called, The Harvey Mackay Rolodex Network Builder. As usual with a conference, I brought the booklet home. I wonder how many others in the room did the same but did they read the booklet? I did yesterday. Like the Mackay 66, this booklet talks about the value of collecting and using the information from each person you meet.

I’ve still got a number of contacts to follow-up from my time in Los Angeles. I’m committed to continuing a number of those relationships and building them. You never know which one or number of them will develop into something important for the days ahead. I suspect many people will return home and toss those business cards from a conference into a desk drawer or throw them away. Instead, I’d encourage you to see those cards as a resource and the start of something potentially important in your future writing life. It has certainly been the case for me and it might be for you.

Relationship Building Is Important

March 14, 2007

Writing is one of those skills exercised in isolation. You curl up with your keyboard and crank some words on the page. You pour your stories and your characters or your research and experiences. It’s important to work hard at the craft of writing.

In addition to the writing, it is important to build new relationships and readers. It’s a question authors continue to ask about blogging. It’s time consuming and is it worth the time or not. I’ve decided it is worth it for me because of the relationship building part of it. In the March 5th issue of Publishers Weekly they tackle this question in the area of children’s books. Sue Corbett writes in part of this article, “Okay, so blogging is not exactly how all writers like to spend their time. But the big question, of course, is, do blogs sell books? On that, everyone agrees that the answer is yes, though no one can point to any numbers, at least not yet. “Saleswise, I’m not necessarily expecting to see a post-for-post, purchase-for-purchase correlation,” said Julie Strauss-Gabel, who edits Green at Dutton. “Blogging is a long-term endeavor, one that builds and sustains a loyal fan base over a career.”

Cabot says that after she started blogging, visits to her Web site soared. [Sarah] Dessen used her blog to count down the days to her pub date for Just Listen, and readers stormed bookstores looking for their copy. “I had a lot of girls go to stores on the first day and when the book wasn’t on display, they had someone go into the back and made them open a box,” she recalled. “I really liked hearing that.””

I’m certain this discussion will continue for the days ahead. As for me and my house, I’m going to continue with these entries about the Writing Life.

Persist With Your Passion

March 13, 2007

What are you doing each day to persist with your passion? Are you passionate about fiction? If so, what are you doing to continue growing in your craft? What are you doing to continue writing the stories in your heart and get those stories on paper? Or maybe your passion is to be published in magazines? Are you faithfully pitching new ideas and writing the assignments which come your way? Or possibly you have a nonfiction idea that needs to get published? Or maybe you have a friend with a nonfiction book idea that “should” be published? What proactive steps are you taking today to get those ideas moving?

Your breakthrough opportunity might be around the corner. It certainly can’t happen if you don’t keep knocking on the doors and trying to open the way. If you read these entries, you will know one of my passions is to help writers produce better book proposals and pitches to editors and literary agents. Why? Because as an editor (and now an agent), I see many proposals which have a gem of an idea–but it’s buried or not pitched in the most compelling fashion. I can’t fix every one of these proposals. It’s impossible. What I can do is encourage writers to read Book Proposals That Sell and study the contents and grow in their abilities.

When I go to a conference, I bring several copies of my book and make a pointed case to give these books to key individuals. After the conference, I follow up and see if I can provide any additional information or open another opportunity from the gift. While my book has been out for almost two years, I continue to mail review copies to people. In fact, yesterday I mailed two more review copies. I’ve seen firsthand how persistence will pay off.

My book continues to be reviewed. This week Shane Werlinger posted a review about Book Proposals That Sell on Suite 101. I hope you will check it out.

Almost daily I received notices about selling electronic versions of Book Proposals That Sell. Some of these sales come from affiliates, who are leading people to my book and earning 50% of the commission from this web link. If you haven’t taken two minutes, join my affiliate program and begin using your own link to lead people to Book Proposals That Sell. As people read the book, they will improve their own book submissions so you will serve others in that process. In addition to helping your audience, you will be adding some passive income from the experience. The process is simple. First, join my affiliate program, then add your link to your website, your newsletter or your emails.

Everyone needs to follow the persistence of Andy Andrews who wrote the bestseller, The Traveler’s Gift. I told this story almost two years ago but I’m going to repeat it here. A popular speaker, Andy wrote a manuscript which he tried to get published. It was rejected 54 times. How many of us send out our material to this degree? He continued in his popular speaking work but did not have a book for his audience. One day Gayle Hyatt was in Andy Andrews‘ audience. She came up to him afterwards and suggested that he write a book.

Looking a bit sheepish, Andy told Gayle, “Your husband’s company (Thomas Nelson) has already rejected my book.” Gayle asked to receive a copy of the manuscript and promised to read it. Andy sent her the book. She showed it to her husband (Mike Hyatt, president of Thomas Nelson) and the book was published.

Note the perseverance in what happened next. When Andy got his new book, he gave away 12,000 copies of the book. Most of those review copies didn’t make much of a difference. But one of those copies got in the hands of Robin Roberts, a producer of ABC’s Good Morning America. Roberts selected The Traveler’s Gift as their Book of the Month. The Traveler’s Gift sold 850,000 copies and the rest is history.

The writing life isn’t easy for any of us. You have to persist with your passion. It is a key characteristic of the writers who ultimately find success.

Nurture Your Own Creativity

March 12, 2007

“There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story,” says Miss Beatrix Potter in the film Miss Potter. The film is based on the life of the bestselling children’s author of all time (according to the movie credits), Beatrix Potter, who wrote and illustrated beautiful stories about Peter Rabbit.

Miss Potter shows how much Beatrix Potter’s immediate family misunderstood the artist and storyteller. She was more interested in marrying for love instead of for social class or because she had reached a certain age. I was fascinated with this film and how it showed the creative process. As a young artist, Miss Potter was determined to get her book published and took her illustrations in person to various publishers in London. Finally she found someone who wanted to publish her stories. Her parents continued to treat her as a young unmarried woman living at home–yet outside of the family her fame and popularity skyrocketed in an innocent way.

The breathless scenery is enough reason to see Miss Potter but the acting and story will touch your heart. Renee Zellweger plays Beatrix Potter and I loved this story and what it reveals about the mixture of art and creativity and writing in a real life setting. Not everyone understands the writing life but the creator of this film did so and captured it well. Because of the innocence and simplicity of this story, the film has been modestly received. For example, in this part of Arizona, Miss Potter is showing at a single theater known mostly for artistic types of films. It may be hard for you to find but it’s worth your efforts to track it down.

As writers, each of us have to find different ways to nurture your own creativity. Maybe it will be watching a good movie or reading a good book or having a unique experience. Find ways to engage in this process.

Can You Start Something Viral?

March 9, 2007

While at Mega Book Marketing University, various speakers often used the phrase viral marketing. For example, they talked about The Secret DVD which has sold millions of copies through word of mouth viral marketing. The DVD has turned into a bestselling book which will top the New York Times nonfiction hardcover list for the next two weeks. I understand the controversial nature of The Secret yet you have to admire the viral nature of this effort.

Can you start something which will spread like wildfire? As you start it, can you give the enthused person the tools to help you spread it. Here’s one idea that came from the massive amount of information last weekend–and it’s free.

Just look at this button related to my FREE Right-Writing Newsletter:

I’ve added one of these buttons to my newsletter page. I’ve also added a different button in the right-hand column of these entries about The Writing Life:

Why in the world would I want to add these buttons? If you go to the pages, you will notice that I’ve added different buttons than the two above. This simple tool can become viral or the reader can easily pass your site on to others. It’s the type of action we want to take as we tell people about our books and other products.

This tool is free–that’s right FREE. The site is at Tell A Friend Generator. You fill out your first name, your email where you want the script and the location that you want passed on to others. In seconds, you will receive the email buttons like above yet leading people to your website. It’s just one of the numerous resources I learned about this past weekend.

Calm in the Hoopla

March 7, 2007

From the moment you walked into the room at Mega Book Marketing University, the conference was unlike any other that I’ve attended. The large ballroom wasn’t set up with simply chairs. It included tables in a classroom like environment. When you registered, everyone was given a large three-ring binder notebook which became a tool throughout the three-day experience. Each keynote speaker had their own section of the notebook. Some speakers included fill-in-the-blank types of notes while others simply included their powerpoint and space for notes. Others had blank pages for notetaking.

Each major session began with loud inspirational music combined with cheering and applause. Each of the speakers had a unique perspective on the book business and different insight about it. Over 650 people registered for this conference. Two key facts emerged to me from the overall conference. The first point is one that I’ve emphasized repeatedly in these entries about the writing life: the book business is just that–a business. Yes, people have inspiration and creativity but they also need to be using the best and latest business techniques to enhance and improve their business. A second key was meeting some extremely successful people in the business. Each of them had a commitment to giving back to the community from their abundance. At the speaker dinner on Thursday night, Mark Victor Hansen, co-author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books (over 144 million in print), talked about eradicating world poverty. Now there is a major goal.

Besides the speakers, I met a number of remarkable people one on one. After the hoopla, the key will be the follow-up and results which happen from such a conference. How will I apply the information into my daily living? Will I be one of the small percentage of people who do more than have a great experience? I want to be one of the people who apply the information to my writing life. There are some terrific conferences which are happening in the months ahead. I’ll be attending several of them and participating in various ways. The key from my view will be in the application.

A Lifetime of Learning

March 5, 2007

Late last night I returned from a marathon of marketing information in Los Angeles called the Mega Book Marketing University. I can’t recommend it enough as a life-changing experience. The people that I met were fantastic. The information was vast and diverse and the insight enormous.

Like any learning experience, the proof for the coming months will be in the follow-up and the application of the principles into every day life.

In many ways I’m on informational overload at the moment but over the next few days I’m hopeful to be able to pinpoint a few key lessons from a small portion of the overall experience. It is not going to happen today. In the meantime, if you have not done it, I would encourage you to listen to the preview calls which are stored online from this event.