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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Benefits of Google+ Hangouts

If you haven't tried it yet, Google+ has a great feature called Hangouts. You don't just hangout a traditional chat room where you type to each other, but you hangout in a video/audio chat area. With the camera on your computer or tablet, it links everyone up and you can see each other and chat by audio/video. It's nice to see facial expressions and hear voices. No more typing and skimming to read text to keep up with the conversation. Some say it's better than Skype.

You can broadcast live on Google+ and YouTube. You can host free conferences for up to 10 people at  once. 

This could be a great feature to use during book launches. Instead of hosting, the same old contests where people leave a comment and the winner is drawn and posted later, you could do this live. It would had more fun and be more like an actual event. You could schedule the event ahead of time and announce it to your Social Media networks so people would know what time to "tune" in.

Have you tried Google+? If so, did you use it for book promotion? Do you think it's better than Skype?
What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Tips to Consider When Scheduling Promotional Events

While special events are a great way to promote your books, they can also be a drain on finances, time, and energy.  Therefore, you need to prioritize which events will be best for you and stick to your budget and schedule when unexpected opportunities arise.

Each event is different with varying purposes. You may attend some events for the following reasons: 1) sell books, 2) raise awareness about you and your book, 3)  to give back to the community 4) as a means to provide a ministry

Here are some recommended tips:
1) Before your book launch, plan your promotional budget for events and determine your top goals. Be realistic about your time and schedule. Leave enough time for writing and researching the next book while you promote the current book release. Macro and editing deadlines may land in your inbox from your publisher in the middle of your planning time for an event. Don't forget to leave some flexibility in your schedule.

2) Keep in mind that events where books are not sold will require you to bring your own books and you may be required to rent space, table and chairs. You may have to buy meals if it is an all day event. Also, if it is out of town, there will be travel and lodging costs. If you have to sell your books without a store cashier, you might want to consider bringing a spouse, friend or older child to help you. If someone you trust is handling the money, you can spend time talking with readers, getting photos taken with readers, and signing books. It's always nice to have someone help you carry the boxes of books, tables and chairs, and tent if you are required to park away from your location. 

3) Browse local community calendars at the libraries, bookstores, chamber of commerce, church listings, festivals, etc for events that may have a tie-in to any kind of topic in your novel. If you have a nascar book, consider a nascar event. I write historical novels in Scotland, so the highland games are always great selling avenues for me. What topic or themes in your novels can you capitalize on?

4) Google writing conferences and workshops and send an email with your credentials, bio and links to offer your services as a speaker. Often, they will cover the cost of your travel, lodging, and pay you an honorarium, as well as allow you to bring and sell your books.

5) Some book signings are still worth it even if you only sell one or two novels. It you have a local book signing, you don't have to bring your own books, you don't have the cost of travel and rental space, and all it takes is one reader who may spread the word to 4-5 more people and help you pick up more readers. Even if people don't buy your books, they may go home and Google your name, so make sure you have a large sign or banner on or by your table. This is where passing out bookmarks, postcards, magnets and business cards are key. These days half my readers are own an e-reader and prefer to by e-books. If you give them something to take home with them, they will download your book later.

6) Hold online events. You can host contests, giveaways, workshops, video Q&A, video interviews, podcasts, and digital book signings. New technology is allowing people to be very creative, accessible, and economical. Take advantage of these opportunities.

Any other ideas? Please share what has worked for you. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Advice to New Writers Through a Spouse's Eyes by Dwayne Taylor

So you you want to be an author? Ready for the money, fame and glory?

Well let me give you a reality check.

You won't make tons of money. Fame is probably not going to happen. And glory only lasts for a moment. Once your book is read, readers head for the next great book that just came out, leaving a fading memory of your book now collecting dust on their bookshelf .

Being married to an author (Jennifer Hudson Taylor), I can tell you that there is a tremendous strain that it will put on your family and your life. You will need the complete support of every member in your household (yes, even the dog). Without family support, you will not have the time, energy, or presence of mind to do what an author has to do to be successful.

My wife works a full-time job. She gets up at 5:30 am and leaves for work at 8 am, not returning home sometimes until 7 pm. So, writing time is early morning and late at night. Oh but wait, she has to make time for the family, too. Now the writing time window is even smaller.

Then there is research, networking, promotion, marketing, building a platform for yourself and so on and so on.. So where does an author find the time to be a parent, spouse, or have any kind of social life? Well, they don't, unless they have that family support that I was speaking of.

An author that works full-time needs a supporting family that is going to make the meals, clean the house, do the shopping, mow the lawn, care for the kids, be understanding, make sacrifices and most available to the author when the author has time to be available to the family or just needs the love of the family.

When tons of rejections start rolling in and you feel like giving up, you're disappointed, and depressed, only the support of a loving family will be able to build the author's confidence back up to keep them motivated to continue on.

The family must look at publication from the perspective that this is not only the author's dream, but it is a family dream. It isn't always easy and there are many bumps along the way, especially if you have children. Children don't understand deadlines, thought processes, interruptions, or the fact that you're on a roll. When they want mom or dad, they want mom or dad right then and there. As a parent you want to be there for your children. So, this is where the author must learn to have patience, understanding, and the ability to turn on and off their creative thought process.

Fortunately, my wife is a master at this. How she squeezes in so much quality time for our daughter in such little available time, I'll never understand.

My advice for those up and coming authors is to sit down with your family and discuss what it will take to make this dream a reality. Decide if being an author is a career move, a hobby, or just a desire to have your name on a book cover. Then consider the consequences of making it happen. Make your family aware of the sacrifices each of you will have to make along the way. Understand that it will be a life change for the entire family. It takes years before you actually get published as it took my wife over 10 years.

In the end, if you and your family are truly dedicated to making this dream happen, it can. You may be a one book wonder or you may be on your way to a successful career, but there is one thing I can guarantee. The first time you walk into a bookstore and see your book, it will not only be a rewarding experience for the author, but for the whole family, because in some way, they will feel that they had a part in making the dream become a reality. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Advantages & Disadvantages of Ghost Blogging

As with Ghost Writing, the practice of Ghost Blogging is becoming an increasing phenomenon-especially in the corporate world.

What is Ghost Blogging?

It's when someone hires another blogger or writer to write their blogs for them and they slap their name on it as if they wrote it themselves.

Many people feel this is deceptive and unethical.

I believe it is expected in the corporate world where many CEO's don't even answer their own email and phone calls and haven't written their own letters for years. It's "understood" that their Secretary or Administrative Assistant is writing their letters, emails, and responses.

The issue with blogging is that it's suppose to be a modern tool for transparency and a way to personally connect with one's readers--whether those readers are clients, patients, customers, students, or fans. Busy people claim they don't have time to blog like clockwork on a regular schedule. Yet, they feel obligated to blog because everyone else is doing it, like their competitors, and it truly is a great promotional tool if utilized effectively.

Should authors Ghost Blog or Hire Ghost Bloggers? 
If we hire someone to Ghost Blog in our name, are we deceiving our readers? Shouldn't we be spending our time writing those great novels that our readers can't wait to read? Don't we have an obligation to meet the deadlines looming over us like a big fat cloud that is turning darker every minute we do something else? The temptation could be great for some of us--especially if we just need to get past a deadline for a short month or two.

I believe an author should carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages--and Christian writers should seriously pray about it. It may also depend on the type of blog you own. For instance, I've made my personal decision not to hire Ghost Bloggers on my author blog--my main blog, but I do have Guest Bloggers who use their own name, and it is very different. However, I wouldn't think twice about hiring a Ghost Blogger for my Today in Carolina History Blog, which is no longer active, since all I do is post historical events that took place on that day. I'm not really writing. I'm not giving writing tips, marketing tips, opinions or any insight into my personality or life--only stating facts.

If you decide to hire a Ghost Blogger, I would like to caution that if your readers find out, you may risk them feeling betrayed or deceived. You also risk losing them as readers on both your blog and your books. A certain amount of trust in you as a leader, as well as your knowledge and authority in authorship could be broken.

What are your thoughts? How do you feel about Ghost Blogging? 

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