Wait, Does RSVP Really Mean “Respond, Dammit?”

Remember learning that RSVP meant “répondez s’il vous plaît?” And, if you learned that as a kid, do you remember how cool and
sophisticated it made you feel? I sure do. Not only was it French — the most romantic of the romance languages — but it was like I had been given yet another key to open another secret grown-up door. And, in this case, I was picturing a very swanky, high-class door. How cool was that? All I had to do to become part of the club was to communicate. Usually in writing. Even better, am I right?

All I had to do to become part of the club was to communicate. In writing. Click To Tweet

Do You Care About Getting Your Stuff Read?

So what does RSVP have to do with writing? Not much — if you don’t care about having your stuff read. But if like many of us, your goals include getting your beautiful book babies in front of readers, then you are probably engaged in far more marketing, outreach and networking than you ever dreamed possible. You may still not be seeing the connection but, trust me, I’m getting there.

You post on Facebook and Instagram. Or Pinterest and Twitter. You interact with readers and other writers. You re-tweet and re-post in support of good people, products, or ideas but, when it comes to your own work? You’re frequently committing professional malpractice.

I’m going to break one of the cardinal rules of online communication. I’m going to (virtually) shout at you. Ready? Click To Tweet

And, to make sure you don’t miss it, I’m going to break one of the cardinal rules of online communication. I’m going to (virtually) shout. Ready?

When someone offers you an opportunity for increased exposure? RESPOND, DAMMIT!

What forms of increased exposure, you ask?

  • You’re offered an interview? RESPOND.
  • Someone asks for your author photo? RESPOND.
  • A reviewer has requested a copy of your book? RESPOND
  • A Twitter chat leader invites you to co-host and needs a bio for the promos? RESPOND
  • And what do you do when one of your contacts asks for a high-resolution copy of your book cover? Let’s hear it from the tenors, now: RESPOND.

And, for the hundreds of other opportunities that might come your way? Let’s hear it in unison, loudly, for the people in the back… RESPOND DAMMIT!!!

And Here’s a ‘Respond Dammit’ Don’t

And here’s what you shouldn’t do: DO NOT WAIT.

Believe me, I am well-aware of how busy a solo practitioner (aka indie author) can get. And, I promise you that I’ve dropped the ball on more occasions than I can count. That’s probably why I get so agitated about it: I always hate to waste a good mistake.

What no longer works is an e-mail auto-responder — or slotting these things for “later, when I have time.” You’re not going to have more time later — and email is not where many of the requests will come from. (It is, however, useful for longer communications, such as the Q&A for an online interview, but more about that in another post.)

Believe me, I am well-aware of how busy an indie author can get. And I've dropped the ball too many times. Click To Tweet

But… HOW to Give a Fast Response?

So how does a busy, perhaps traveling, author make sure she’s able to respond? The answer, my friend, is in the cloud. Not only do I keep author photos, bios, and book covers on my desktop, I’ve got them stashed in various locations in the cloud: on a private page of my website, in a documents folder in my iCloud, and in the DropBox folder that comes with my Amelia Indie Authors membership! (shameless plug).

Why does a fast response matter so much? As stated before, you’re busy. We know that. But so are the people making the request. And the longer it takes for them to assemble the pieces they need to reference (or feature) you, the less of a priority you — and your beautiful book — become. And, if you sit in virtual limbo for long enough, the initial idea becomes untimely. Or irrelevant. And it takes more work to figure out how and what to do with you. You’ve gone from being an interesting addition to a mildly annoying loose end. And that’s surely not your intention. Or your wish.

So how about looking at those requests as invitations? Invitations to a more grown-up, professional place in the writers’ community; invitations that come with an RSVP.

How about you just RESPOND, DAMMIT?

Merci beaucoup. 

 

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Not only does Andrea Patten speak French, she is our Director of Operations, currently tasked with keeping all of the plates spinning. In her “spare time,” she does her level best to keep up with her dogs — and her own writing.

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Does an Indie Author Need a Personal Brand to Reach Readers?

How can you create a personal brand and use it to your advantage?

Just as corporations build brands to promote specific products, you can build a brand based on what do you love, why do you do what you do, and the values and aspects about that connect you to your audience.

Your Personal Brand Communicates a Strong Identity

The structure of a personal brand is much the same as corporate branding. First, a strong identity is developed that represents the entity and suggests black and yellow ringed target with dart at the centerthe value a customer would want. If the entity commits to that value and consistently delivers it, customers learn to recognize and trust the entity. Over time, the symbol of the entity can by itself trigger a feeling of trust. And trust, in turn, generates more business.

Corporations typically generate many products. They may have whole families of brands that fall under one overarching brand, like Microsoft or Kraft. As an author, you also may be selling multiple products, but in truth, you are always selling yourself—who you are. You are the creator, the manager, and the face of your brand.

As an author, you may be selling multiple products, but in truth, you are always selling yourself. Click To Tweet

How can a personal brand help you?

Selling books is not easy for independents. You need to reach a lot of people. As much as you might want to or try to, you can’t physically meet thousands of customers and talk to them directly, right?

Your personal brand helps communicate who you are more quickly, broadly and efficiently to the people you do meet. It also makes it possible for your brand to go places you cannot: a poster in a window, an ad in a magazine, your business card, your website and all across the various social media accounts.

When readers approach you at a book signing or book festival, they won’t ask about your book so much as they will ask about you. Maybe they’ll ask why you chose your genre or settings, what led you to write, what is your work style, your inspiration or heritage. They may try to find something quirky in your personality. This is your brand persona, and what readers are looking for to make a personal connection.

Selling books is not easy for independents. You need to reach a lot of people. Click To Tweet

On the basis of your values and personality, and the qualities you bring to your work, readers might give one of your books a try. If they like it, they may buy anything published in your name to continue reading your voice, your style and your command of storytelling. The next thing you know, they’ll be asking you when the next one’s coming out. It’s the consistency of quality that will keep them coming back because they trust that you will deliver.

Personal Brand: it’s not about a logo

Personal branding does not mean that you sit down and design a logo for yourself. I know, designing a logo seems like the fun, easy part of branding. But believe me, good logo design is not easy. What makes a logo effective is the meaning that is embedded in it. The design comes only after the meanings are clearly defined, understood and supported.

The imagery of your brand should be based on serious soul searching and groundwork. Click To Tweet

The imagery of your personal brand should be your last consideration. When properly developed it will be based on serious soul searching and groundwork. Once that is done, the rest of your brand elements fall into place more easily and naturally. You will have a basis on which to make solid decisions and follow them consistently.

And in truth, for an author, your name is your logo. You may choose a pen name, and you may choose a special typeface to consistently show your name in a recognizable way, but remember, it is always yourself you are selling.

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Nancy Blanton’s award-winning handbook, Brand Yourself Royally in 8 Simple Steps, will guide you through the process of creating your own personal brand. She also provides occasional author workshops and presentations.

headphones on desk

Turn Your Book Into a Podcast

Did you know that you can increase your reach and create top of mind awareness for your book and blog by creating a podcast?

More reach means the potential for more book sales, blog visits and exposure for your business.  Podcasting is an excellent platform you can use to get your stories in front of more people and gain credibility as a writer.

Once you’ve set up the structure or bones of your podcast, all you need to do is learn how to set up a recording studio, record your voice, edit the audio file and upload your podcast to iTunes. When you move past the initial learning curve, podcasting is a breeze. And while podcasting isn’t for everyone, those who are willing to create quality content and make a commitment to show up can attract a responsive and supportive following.

Podcasting is an excellent platform to get your stories in front of more people and gain credibility as a writer. Click To Tweet

The good news is that you can easily repurpose the chapters of your book and blog posts for your podcast. You can generate interest in your book or blog by recording each post or portions of each chapter. You can reinforce interest with a call to action at the end of each podcast (a short audio bumper) giving thanks and inviting listeners to visit your website for a free gift. Every invitation is an opportunity to grow your list.

Podcasting allows you to serve up useful and supportive information with your unique voice. An added bonus is you will remain in front of your listeners — who are potential customers — on a regular basis.

I began podcasting in 2008 by recording my blog posts. This was a great way for me to see if I enjoyed podcasting, plus I always had content to record. I was committed to writing a blog post each week, which made it easy to commit to recording a podcast as well. My freshman podcasting experience fostered the birth of Anxiety Slayer in late 2009. Since then, the Anxiety Slayer podcast has several thousand downloads each week, over 5 million downloads since our debut, and a huge subscriber base.

Podcasting has helped me gain credibility as an author and coach, grow my following and sell a lot more digital products. Plus, it is a lot of fun!

More on repurposing your writing…

After I finished writing my first book, Life On Your Terms, I decided I wanted to create a home study program called Life On Your Terms Accelerator series. Extrapolating the workbooks from the manuscript was simple because I had already written actionable exercises to
promote interaction with my readers. Then I took things one step further and recorded all of the individual workbooks. When I was finished, my new offering included my book, 10 workbooks, and 10 MP3 audios that could be edited and repurposed for podcasts. Can you see how you might be able to do something similar?

Creating a podcast can also bring new life to an older manuscript. Click To Tweet

Creating a podcast can also bring new life to an older manuscript. If you’ve already written a book and you’ve moved on to new material, chances are your first book isn’t getting as much attention as it once was. What if you were to bring that book back to life by recording a podcast series? In the information age, we all know that content is QUEEN and the more ways you can creatively repurpose your valuable content the better.

How does podcasting create more interest in your book or blog?

  • You create an additional delivery platform
  • You build a relationship with your listeners
  • You regularly invite listeners to your blog or website for a free gift or special offer
  • You gain credibility by having a podcast on iTunes

How to structure your first three podcasts

  • Podcast Number One: An introduction or kick-off interview to let listeners know who you are and why you created the podcast along with what they can expect when they listen in. This is the perfect time to introduce your book or blog.
  • Podcast Number Two: A portion of the first chapter of your book or the blog post you want to begin with. You can use the material you’ve already written or you can summarize the subject of a chapter, article or blog post and share whatever it is that you want to teach that day.
  • Podcast Number Three: Summarize the prior podcast and continue the story or this may be the perfect time to introduce the next chapter, blog post or interview.

Creating and maintaining a podcast is one of the most effective ways to reach more people, grow your list, and sell more books: simply by repurposing your content.

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Shann Vander Leek is known to her community as a Transformation Goddess, Teacher, Producer, Voice Talent, and Author. Please leave her a comment and visit her website.

Maintaining Motivation

Maintaining motivation over the course of any large project or goal can be challenging, and that can be especially true when you are writing. As the author of three books and the co-author of half a dozen more, I know that I’ve had to be really focused on the outcome. I’ve had to utilize all my “keep it going” tricks to get the project done. In case this has been a stumbling block for you, I wanted to share a few of my strategies that helped me see things through to completion.

Maintaining motivation over the course of any large project can be challenging, Click To Tweet

Focus on the End Goal Strengthens Motivation

The first book that I wrote was entitled Marketing Ideas for the Wild at Heart and I wrote it because I had customers who wanted to buy a book from me and I didn’t have one!

Here’s what happened. After earning the top title in my direct sales company’s compensation plan I was asked to speak at events all over the United States. I wasn’t earning very much speaking at events, and it was taking time away from my own business and my family. I wondered whether I could earn money speaking, so I joined the National Speakers’ Association (NSA). There I  earned professional status by doing 25 paid speeches within a year. As part of my membership, I was able to network with other speakers and attend local meetings.

Earning from the Back of the Room

It was there that I found out that speakers earn much of their income from “back of room” sales: books they have authored or co-authored. So, I decided to write a book. That first book ended up selling about 4,000 copies over the next several years. Because I self-published the book, I earned enough on each sale that I achieved my end goal. Speaking became profitable for my business. Figure out what your end goal is and work toward that fuels the motivation to continue.

When I was stuck during the writing and publishing process, I focused on my goal of making speaking profitable.

Be the Reader

All the books I have authored have been instructional in nature, so it has been vital that I put myself in the reader’s shoes. I imagine the same thinking would work for fiction as well. The reader is our customer and for them to “get it” is the goal of our writing. Whenever I got stuck, I imagined the reader. I took my motivation from her. I saw her taking the ideas, working them and being successful. I imagined that examples in my book helped the reader take their business to a higher level.

Knowing that my book might help another direct seller earn more money made it easier to keep going. Someone could more easily feed their family or pay their mortgage or allow them to send their children to a better school. It is likely that what you write, whether non-fiction or fiction, will make someone’s life better. If you are a fiction writer, you help the reader escape or bring them joy or provide a thrill. Your contribution makes a difference. “I have a book inside me and it’s not right to keep it there,” I would say to myself. I believe that taking full responsibility for our lives means using all of our gifts — including writing.

The reader is our customer and for them to “get it” is the goal of our writing. Click To Tweet

Feed Your Inspiration

I find that I can be a better writer when I seek out things that inspire me. Listening to music is one of my motivation go-to’s.  I have a long playlist downloaded on my phone that I can tap in to. My current musical obsession is the soundtrack to the movie “The Greatest Showman.” I like to start my day listening to it in the shower and singing along.

I also find it inspirational to travel and do things out of my ordinary routine. For example, I am writing this article from a hotel room located just 18 miles from my house! My daughter and her friend are attending a local ComicCon, so I decided to get a room for the night. I chose this option so they can have a place to take breaks and change outfits — and I can stay in the room and write.

Even though it is only 18 miles from home, I don’t have the same distractions: no household chores waiting or someone calling or coming to the door. I can concentrate on my writing while looking out the 12th-floor window at the city below.

The girls and I had room service together this morning before they left for the event: it was special because I have worked hard and earned the right. That feeling of accomplishment is inspirational, too.

Focus on the end goal, be the reader and feed your inspiration. I hope these thoughts will help you see that project through to completion.

 

Focus on the end goal, be the reader and feed your inspiration. Click To Tweet

 

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