Locke welcomes the rest of us to try our luck, but his explanations of his experience made sense to me, so I did very little of the above.
Sunday, October 30, 2016
You have written your book and now have to get someone to read it, and better yet, get many people to buy it. That was the problem I was faced with. If you are a memoir writer, you have the advantage of a fairly popular genre and the disadvantage of having only one memoir and not a series of memoirs that might support each other. If someone likes your memoir, you do not have another to offer.
Early in my quest for book marketing insight, I found John Locke’s (2011) How I Sold 1 Million Ebooks in 5 Months! His ebooks were novels, sold at $0.99 each, nine different titles, five with the same “hero,” the somewhat unsavory Donovan Creed. Locke sold this How-To book for $4.99, correctly predicting that would-be self-publishing authors, such as myself, would readily ante up the big bucks for it. Glad I am that I did. Well, pretty glad.
I will paraphrase Locke’s “Business Plan” and compare it with my own efforts for my book:
1. Write the best book you can. Done: Ting and I: A Memoir.
2. Create a website. Done: tingandi.com .
3. Use Twitter to get people to your website. Done: “@douglaswcooper” has approximately 10,000 “Followers.”
4. Answer all your emails from readers. Will do.
5. Create a simple blog site. Done: http://douglaswinslowcooper.blogspot.com. By June 2015, I had posted over 400 blog entries in a four-year period. They averaged about 100 visits per entry. Not a big deal, but not chopped liver, as they say in New York City.
6. Use Twitter to call attention to your blog. Doing it. Facebook, too.
7. Epublish your ebook. Done, through Outskirts Press and as Kindle book through Amazon.
8. Repeat the cycle with other books you write. Doing it.
Locke maintains that his low ebook price, $0.99, encourages uncertain buyers to try his novels, as it did me. He by-passed conventional publishing houses because he wanted to write his books his way, not theirs. He tried many of the suggestions offered him for marketing, but eventually came down to his website - blog - Twitter Internet triad for success. He emphasized, as well, that he wrote his books with a particular kind of reader in mind, his market niche. Depending on the kind of life you have led, you may have significant constraints on niche-seeking. Some of Locke’s luster lessened when it was found that he had paid for many of the favorable reviews that helped propel his books high on the bestseller lists.
Amanda Hocking, twenty-something author of “young-adult paranormal” novels [USA Today, February 9, 2011] sold 450,000 ebook copies of her nine titles, most priced at $0.99, in January of 2011 alone. She writes about vampires, zombies et al., and promotes her book through a blog, Twitter and Facebook. Social media move ebooks as well as helping to sell conventionally published works.
Back to Locke, who emphasizes writing for one’s target audience, finding them, interacting with them, listening to them. With a memoir, perhaps your audience is People Like You. There are elements of our story Ting and I that should have had wide appeal to:
1. Women who like romance stories.
2. Would-be career women whose marriages had to come first.
3. Asian - American women, especially those of Chinese ancestry.
4. Couples in their second marriages, with step-children.
5. Couples with one member seriously handicapped or critically ill.
6. Nurses, doctors, social workers who deal with the critically ill.
7. Families providing prolonged health care at home.
8. Those making decisions about hospice care.
9. All who like inspirational stories about a person’s success against the odds.
Your book will have a different niche, or niches, but as you identify them, they should suggest key words to use in Internet searches to find the magazines and ezines that your potential audience reads. We were able to get some articles that mentioned our memoir published in magazines and ezines that served these niches.
Both the United States’ and Britain’s national multiple sclerosis (MS) societies accepted articles about us and our book, “Undefeated” and “A Book for My M.S. Heroine,“ as Tina’s quadriplegia is due to M.S. The online monthly publication, asiancemagazine,com, for Asian American women, has accepted each article I submitted monthly for the past fifty months. Youandmemagazine.com accepted three pieces, as they are interested in first-person articles dealing with aspects of medicine. Wellspouse.com accepted “Interracial Stepparent and Caregiver.” Marriage Magazine accepted “Together Forever.” I have been less successful in getting pieces in publications for seniors or into any of the general-circulation magazines, such as Women’s Day, which magazines tend to limit their acceptances to writers with established national reputations and clippings.
Joining the Orange County [NY] Chamber of Commerce opened up many useful channels. I have written several pieces that were published in their monthly public newsletter [circulation 80.000], gotten excellent advice on marketing and help in doing it from fellow members, and have enjoyed involvement with a nice group of people, thus alleviating some feelings of isolation. The Chamber members I talked with encouraged me to start a blog, a personal web site that contains samples of my writing and allows others to comment on them. A member gave me valuable advice on improving our web site and others are planning to go well beyond that in improving my visibility in social media.
Concerning advice he received from others, John Locke noted that the following did not work out for him:
1. Trying to get his books into bookstores [need an agent and a publisher].
2. Trying to get interviewed by newspapers. [We did get a very nice interview article in a local weekly paper and an exceptionally sympathetic and well-received article in a local monthly magazine.]
3. Hiring a publicist.
4. Sending out press releases.
5. Radio interviews.
6. Paid advertising in various media.
Locke welcomes the rest of us to try our luck, but his explanations of his experience made sense to me, so I did very little of the above.
Where does that leave us? Good book, web site, blog, Twitter, and prayer.
P.S. In 2015, after four years of my promoting my Ting and I, I was given the gift of an hour with a professional book publicist from the Bradley Communications group. We discussed what I had done to promote the memoir, and he told me I had done the right things and that memoirs from unknown people rarely do even as well as the few hundred I had sold.
Excerpted from my opus, Write Your Book with Me, published by Outskirts Press and available from OP and online booksellers like amazon.com and bn.com.
My writing-coaching-editing site is http://WriteYourBookWithMe.com
Monday, October 24, 2016
On Becoming a Businesswoman… Advice from Her Dad
I just read that 60% of Americans hope to own their own business, but only 10% do. Women world-wide and over 60 may be similar.
A successful European businessman, Patrick Gruhn, recently published a fine book, Good Business, written primarily for his daughter. Though she is not likely now over 60, his ideas apply to would-be entrepreneurs of all ages.
Gruhn favors cooperation versus competition in business. Believing that women tend toward nurture, men toward battle, he wants more women in entrepreneurial positions. Written daily over a period of 500 days, his book seems to have over a thousand good ideas. We’ll explore some here.
Generate Value for Others and for Yourself
Fundamentally, business is the exchange of value for value. "Ultimately, by creating value for others, you will create wealth for yourself." To do so, you need to have a vision. You should have a passion for your work. Look for the area of overlap between their needs and your skills.
Gruhn quotes Steve Jobs, “It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.” Jobs’s premature death only underlines this. Allocate your time to what matters most. Pace yourself. Life’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Strategy: Playing the Long Game
“Play your life like a game of chess.” Plan ahead. To thrive in the long run, reduce friction. Minimize unnecessary conflict. Avoid micromanagement of others.
We are advised to hedge our bets, not put all our eggs in one basket. However, having too many irons in the fire means none gets really hot.
You’ll often hear, “Don’t throw good money after bad.” Not your investment, but what your prospects are, really counts. The same goes for your “investment” in personal relationships.
Be Prepared for the Changing Tides
The late U.S. President John F. Kennedy noted, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” At high tide, it is hard to distinguish the true winners from the others. “It is only when the tide goes out that you can see who’s been swimming without shorts.”
Stick to it. Be reliable in speed, quality, and outcome of your efforts. Say what you’ll do and do what you say.
Eleventh-century British King Canute is said to have demonstrated to his fawning courtiers that even he could not control the tides.
Heed the maxim, “This, too, will pass.” No trend lasts forever. Stay lean. Minimize debt to reduce the risk of going broke.
Don’t Limit Yourself
Much of our limits are due to hypnosis. Clear your mind. “When the student is ready, the master will appear, and when the master is ready, the student will appear,” Gruhn quotes. Readiness is key.
Gruhn urges you to stand out: “They laughed at me because I was different. I laughed at them because they were all the same.” He advises his readers to accept advice only from those who have truly succeeded.
What’s Your Management Style: Hard or Soft?
Perhaps a woman will usually be more comfortable with being relatively non-confrontational, although if you are naturally tough, you can go with that style. However, a softer approach has its strengths and is less wearing on its practitioner and its recipients.
Gruhn writes, “…effective leadership hinges on your ability to make people choose to follow you.” Else, you have to rely on command, a subset of force. With orders, you get at best what is ordered, neither more nor less.
At Work: Be Effective! Be Efficient!
Effective is getting it done. Efficient is getting it done economically. Ideally, you’d be efficiently effective. The adage “haste makes waste” alerts us to the tension between speed and quality.
Information: Dig for the Words You Need to Hear
People will give compliments freely. They rarely give criticism, especially to those above them or those from whom they hope to get favors. Dig for the diamonds of truth. Collect information and opinions, but weigh opinions carefully, considering the motives of those who offer them.
Building a successful business will require making connections that are not immediately apparent. “Think of making a deal like having a dance. Someone is going to lead and the other is going to follow, and you better make sure that it is you who leads and be very careful not to step on anyone's toes when you do it. The reputation of the bad dancer usually spreads quickly, and you might find yourself standing in the corner alone with nobody to dance with."
As Frank Sinatra Sang, “Luck, Be a Lady”
Luck plays a role in success, sometimes a big role. But to become you’ve got to be playing in the game, “you’ve got to be in it to win it,” as the New York State Lottery slogan goes. An unknown source wrote, “The harder I work, the luckier I become.”
Having Prospered, Give Appropriately
Once you’ve got enough, be generous! Avoid the takers, embrace the makers, doers, earners and sharers. As for your own friends and loved ones, empower growth, don’t enable dependency.
The Good Life
“The paradox is that we work towards having the good life, but then we get too busy to enjoy it,” Gruhn warns. You have to work out the right balance for yourself.
“Life is not all about business. It’s not all about work and it’s not all about money.” Though money is nice, “achievement is its own reward.” Seek to be proud of the person you see in the mirror.
Questions: What business have you considered running? What have you done to get started? Please join in the conversation.
Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D., is a former Harvard science professor. He still publishes, and he helps others write and publish their books via his http://WriteYourBookWithMe.com. His life's central theme has been his half-century romance with his wife, Tina Su Cooper, quadriplegic for over a decade due to multiple sclerosis, now receiving 24/7 nursing care at home, care discussed at their website here.
Published in somewhat edited form at
Saturday, October 22, 2016
You have written your book, gotten it published, obtained some favorable reviews, given a few talks here and there, and gotten some press. Despite that, you have sold a hundred or fewer copies, just like the overwhelming majority of non-celebrity, first-time authors.
Where did you go wrong? Like me, you thought, build it and they will come, write it and they will buy it. As recently successful author, program developer, marketer Danny Iny of Firepole Marketing explains: one must build one’s audience first.
Makes sense, actually. Celebrities have successful memoirs because they already have big audiences, and unless the book is a dud, they are going to sell myriads, or at least a whole lot.
Iny’s book is THE AUDIENCE REVOLUTION: The Smarter Way to Build a Business, Make a Difference, and Change the World. It lives up to its title. Well, maybe “change the world” is a bit premature.
Iny has a great line: “failure is only failure if it happens in the last chapter. Otherwise, it’s a plot twist.” This 2015 Easter morning, minister Joel Osteen spoke about one of the messages of Easter: it’s not over just because it seems to be a failure; something better beckons. A sage is said to have remarked, when asked what is universally true, “This, too, will pass.” We must persevere.
Those of us who have not yet built an audience can still do so. In the next chapter of our lives, we should take Iny’s advice: examine our passions, find what others have asked of us already, and look for the intersection of these that marks our best choice for making a contribution others will value.
This book offers a link for a site with a video and worksheets to help in this exploration.
Excerpted from my Write Your Book with Me, available from amazon.com and other online booksellers as well as from Outskirts Press, its publisher.
Saturday, October 15, 2016
Self Publishing eBooks, lists not 4 Ps or 5 Ps for success, but 12 Ps:
· Product: What are you offering? What is it worth?
· Proof: Be sure you are better than your competitors in meeting readers’ needs.
· People: Who wants or needs your book? What are they like?
· Perception: How attractive are your book, your ads, and your writing?
· Position: What is your USP, your Unique Selling Proposition? What’s “best” about it?
· Price: Bareham believes the $0.99 ebook is on the way out. Amazon favors $2.99-$9.99, and the market is willing to pay more for “how-to” books than for other types.
· Problems & Pitfalls: Try to predict and avoid them!
· Promotion: “…pretty much everything that you do to boost sales: your website, your blog, participation by you and others in reader forums, reader reviews, advertising, video, etc….”
· Pro-active follow-up: Get opinions from your readers.
· Place: Where your books can be found, obtained.
· Processes: Ease of purchase, guarantees, etc.
· Persuasion: Ethos, pathos, and logos…credibility, emotion, logic.
Bareham (2012) has separate sections in his guide on using the following to promote your books:
· YouTube videos
· Weblog (blog)
· Sample chapters given away
· Audio book format
· Social networks
· Book reviewers
Near the beginning of his eBook author success guide, he admonishes us to:
· Keep writing, as the more books you publish, the better known you become and the more your books will sell.
· Keep promoting yourself and your books.
· Solicit 5-star reviews from likely providers.
· “Understand viral leveraging.”
· Use apt “tags” on your Amazon book descriptions.
· Avoid a book title that is too cute. [It can get lost among Amazon’s 10 million, he warns.]
· Consider the substantial advantages of Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing.
· Get to know and use GoodReads.
Excerpted from my own guide, Write Your Book with Me.
Excerpted from my own guide, Write Your Book with Me.
Friday, October 14, 2016
Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D.
"The Holy Grail of data analytics, at least with respect to sales, is to increase the effectiveness of the individual. When individuals are more productive, motivated, engaged, and happy, the organization will be more successful. The real power comes when big data gets personal." Thus does Jenny Dearborn, Senior Vice President and Chief Learning Officer for software giant SAP, describe the value of what she covers here.
I requested a copy of this book from a friend who was involved in its preparation. I have long had an interest in statistical analysis, and my recent venture into entrepreneurship, through my small business, WriteYourBookWithMe.com, made me curious about what such analysis could do for marketing and sales.
When I previewed the book, by examining the ratings it got on Amazon reviews, I was a bit surprised to see not only a series of five-star ratings each with typically a couple of reader endorsements of the value of the enthusiastic review, but also one two-star rating, with nearly a dozen statements of the value that the readers had obtained from that rather negative review. This strong difference of opinion grabbed my attention, and I sat down to read the book, which took about four hours. I'll summarize what the author has done, and then I'll tell you why I think there were such divergent evaluations.
The book is a well written combination of story and analysis, handsomely presented by the publisher, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., with numerous graphs, charts, and tables and a comprehensive index at the end.
The story starts with our heroine, Pam Sharp, in her new position as Chief Sales Officer of the mythical Trajectory Systems, meeting with a subset of the relevant individuals she manages, to discuss how to overcome the deficiencies that have caused a disappointing sales year. Each department head has a story that clears that department from responsibility for the disappointing results.
Clearly, Pam has got to find a way to analyze what has gone wrong, to convince her subordinates of her analysis, and then to determine and implement the policies, strategies, and tactics needed to turn things around.
Author Jenny Dearborn provides non-technical explanations and fictional examples of four uses of data analytics:
1. Describing quantitatively what happened
2. Diagnosing what went wrong
3. Predicting what lies ahead
4. Prescribing what to do.
Describing can be done with familiar statistical and graphical techniques.
Diagnostic analytics involves trying to determine why something has happened, typically relying on methods of showing relationships between variables, such as outputs versus inputs. Very often correlations are highlighted, but only some of these reflect causation. Others are coincidental or are products of being influenced by a common third factor.
Predictive analytics answer the question, "What could happen?" Dearborn points out this analysis may include "statistics, modeling, machine learning, and data mining." For technical details, she directs the reader to books such as Siegel and Davenport’s Predictive Analytics. Here and elsewhere she does not require the reader to understand mathematical equations, but she does give appropriate references.
Prescriptive analytics involves using mathematical models to determine the optimal choice among various options, and can be as simple as using multiple linear regressions or as complex as the kind of machine learning that is sometimes used for email programs to distinguish spam from desired communication.
As the story progresses, Pam and her group overcome some organizational and personal obstacles to implement, and then demonstrate the value of, data analytics.
One of the early challenges is to obtain the appropriate data. Dearborn lists the following advice:
· "Cast a wide net."
· "Consider exclusions."
· "Be sensitive to the sensitivities (and politics)."
· "Marshall the right human resources."
· "Communicate your needs."
· "Be patient."
The team's mythical mathematician consultant, Henry, describes the various pitfalls that erroneous data or hasty generalization can create.
The rest of the book shows improvement in sales revenue and the use of these techniques to help the sales representatives upgrade their own performances. While not technical in nature, the description does explain in detail how to implement the results of data analysis to further the goals of the company, the departments within the company, and the individuals.
The book will not in fact help small businessmen such as myself, because we lack the data that make data mining and analysis worthwhile. Somewhat larger organizations might well benefit from hiring a consultant to set up such a system and to implement it. Larger organizations still might find this book useful to introduce members of the affected groups to the possibilities and methodology of analytics and a proposed data analytics system. Even major corporations may have use for this book, depending on their current state of awareness regarding data mining and analytics.
So, the objection that this book does not show how to do data analytics is valid, but this was not the goal of the author. Nor does it give a real-life demonstration of the value of these methods. Rather, the book will serve to help convince a certain class of readers of the value of such techniques and perhaps induce them to obtain the expertise to apply them to their own situation, to become “data driven.”