Archives for August 2011

Second Story Syndrome

Choose the best answer from the list below.  Second Story Syndrome is:

  1. Paranoia or psychosis associated with fear of the ‘second story’ of a building.
  2. An irregular story where the ‘secondary’ plot is overdeveloped and overwhelms the primary plot.
  3. Hesitation by a reader to read the ‘second (or any other) story’ written by an author when they dearly loved the first work…for fear it won’t be as good.
  4. A burglar who is obsessed with entering houses by an upstairs window.
  5. The struggle an author endures after his/her first book is successfully launched and he/she struggles to write the ‘second story.’

Guess which one I’m wrestling with?

Seven Deadly Sins of Self-published Authors

The list below contains common editing and marketing mistakes made by self-published authors.  It could also be called “The Biggest Mistakes I Made or Almost Made.”  Self-published authors have the onerous task of writing, editing and marketing their books.  From a business perspective, we are the Production/Operations department, the Sales/Marketing Department and of course the Finance Department.  Few entrepreneurs can bring all that to the table, and as a self-published author, you are most definitely an entrepreneur.

SIN ONE:  Unrealistic expectations of revenue and expenses.

-The cliché it takes money to make money remains true with self-publishing.  The list of expenses you receive from self-publishing companies is a good start.  However, even if it includes some promotional items such as business cards and mailers, there is so much more to promoting your book.  Take a look at my May and August calendar.  Every event costs money, in one way or another…tent, tablecloth, give-aways, marketing to promote the event, new outfit… it all adds up.

SIN TWO:  Editing your own manuscript or having a “friend” do it for you.

-Punctuation issues, grammar errors, tense jumps and POV shifts are distracting to a reader.  You and your mom may think your novel is ready for print, but if you haven’t had it professionally edited, you’re wrong.  I thank my publicist for not letting me make this mistake!

SIN THREE:  Having a lousy website or no website at all.

-For self-published authors, your website is likely the stop your potential readers make before buying your book.  A lousy website is as bad or worse than no website at all.  It is a reflection of you as an artist.  Would you take a fitness class from an out of shape aerobics instructor?  Connect the dots.  If the image on your website isn’t one of a professional writer, get back to the drawing board.  Or better yet, hire a professional.  I’m an author, not a web designer or a marketing guru.  So I hired an expert in Marketing, Collective Alternative, and had them develop a site that would reflect my image and promote my book…and future books.  Visit my website and see how they did.

SIN FOUR:  Winging your book’s marketing and promotion.

-For many authors, marketing is the big black hole because we don’t know what we don’t know.  Should you promote your book using traditional marketing or social media?  What are some easy or inexpensive ways to start?  Consult a writer’s guide, like this one.  Even traditionally published authors are doing a lot of marketing these days.

SIN FIVE:  Spinning your wheels in the Social Media circuit.

-I was the over-achiever in this particular sin until I saw a post that summed up what I was doing wrong, Twelve Twitter Mistakes You Should Avoid.  If you are going to use social media, there is a myriad of information on how to do it right—and how to do it wrong.  Invest a few dollars in doing it right.  I bought Twitter Dummy from the website above and went from 22 followers to almost 200 in less than two weeks.

SIN SIX:  Information overload.

-When you are asked about your book, do you oblige by giving the never-ending answer leaving your listener with bleeding ears and no desire to ask a follow-up question?  Consider consulting The “Secret” Formula for Creating a Short Synopsis for Your Book by Mike Wells.

SIN SEVEN:  Not enough time or energy left to promote your book once it is completed.

-Have a plan.  Gain some knowledge.  Be prepared to invest time, energy and finances in the success of your book.  If you are waiting around to be discovered, it will be a long wait.

Twitter is for Twerps

I’m not interested in up to date Tweets regarding where people are eating lunch or who was mad at their friend…and why…nor do I believe anyone would want to know the same about me.  But my agent insisted I be a part of Twitter.  (She reminds me occasionally, I’ve hired her to tell me what to do).  So she set up my account and said, “Tweet.”

Well, perhaps she gave more helpful instructions—and perhaps I wasn’t wearing my listening ears.  So after a couple months of scattered unproductive tweeting—mostly posting links to my blogs and upcoming appearances—I was ready for a change.  As luck would have it, the perfect Tweet appeared!  (One thing I did right was follow some great people.)  http://www.johnpaulaguiar.com/12-twitter-mistakes-you-should-avoid/.  Admittedly, I was guilty of a half of these mistakes, but my number one issue: lack of clarity.

John states in his intro, “…That’s why you need to have your end goal in mind…(to) stay focused and on point and not get sucked into wasting unproductive hours on Twitter.”  His words were spot on.  Twitter is about relationships: give-and-take.  You have to decide (1) What you want to know (2) Who you want to know it from (3) What you want to share (4) and Who you wish to share it with.

Once I clarified my goals, it was time to learn the ‘how.’  Unwilling to waste time (again) figuring it out, I sought more expert advice from John Aguiar (http://www.twitterdummy.net/).  His guide teaches everything from setting up your Twitter account, to finding followers, to making money with Twitter.  I’m 1/3 through it, and it’s awesome!

Twitter is for Twerps.  That’s what I used to think before I had direct access to industry gurus…and before people I never knew began to follow me.