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Monday, September 23, 2013

How to Minimize Being Flagged by Spam Filters

#spam #email #newsletters
Have you ever spent significant time researching and writing "original" content that you think might be informative and helpful to people, but once it's posted or your email newsletter goes out, you get little response? It's possible that you might have used some trigger words in the title or body that were tagged as spam and it went to people's spam folders, never to be seen again.

How many times have you used the terms: free giveaway, free book, book sale, discount? 

I have definitely used them, and I would guess that most of us have. Using these words will not necessarily land you in everyone's spam folder, but it could increase the possibility. Spam filters are set to various strength protection levels and some are more strict than others. Keep in mind that they scan more than the headline or subject line, but the entire email or blog post.

As technology has increased and evolved, spam filters now take into consideration many algorithms besides word and term usage, such as the IP addresses and domains to determine a poster's reputation. For instance, you might get away with using a specific term a few times, but if you are sending out multiple sessions of emails and posts from your domain or IP on a constant basis with the same terms, your info could get flagged and may start landing in spam filters. Other factors include abuse complaints and content scores.

HubSpot posted a list of commonly known words and terms that should be used minimally to keep your posts from going to the spam slush pile, The Ultimate List of Email SPAM Trigger Words. It's quite extensive and broken down under specific categories. Once you browse through this list, you may be left wondering what you can use! Keep in mind that this list doesn't mean you can never use these words, but you might want to limit them. It's just like the cliches in writing that we should only use sparingly and for the right circumstance.

When possible, It's best to keep your subject line short and to the point at 50 characters or less. While you might want to establish branding your newsletter, if you use the same subject line each time, it will decrease the open rate. For example, News from Author John Smith as the subject line each time, doesn't distinguish it from previous emails. What is different about this email than last month's email that would entice me to open it? Be creative, but not deceptive like the cliche of a used car salesman.

  • Sending out too many emails within a given hour or day. 
  • Too many exclamation points. 
  • Using all caps. 
  • Coloring fonts bright red or green
  • Design a Word doc and converting it to an html file

SpamAssassin is one of the best known spam filters for internal testing used by most marketers. Any email that scores 5 points or more is considered to be spam.

For More Info:

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Video Book Trailers - Tell Your Story in Action!

In just over a minute or less, we will transform your words into life and create a powerful, compelling video that will tease your readers to want more of your story. Will this work for everyone? Is it a guarantee?

Unfortunately, no. There has never been a product that was perfect for everyone.

But we CAN create a video that will appeal to the genre and brand of your books and target YOUR readers. 

We have 3 options available.

Basic Video Book Trailer - $300
  • Length 30-60 sec
  • 7-10 still photos and background images - (we provide stock images)
  • Panning & minor effects
  • 1-2 video footage (as appropriate)
  • 1 song 
  • 1 sound effect (as appropriate)
  • Animated transitions 
  • We write the script based on the cover blurb you provide 
 ~ Sample ~

Premium Video Book Trailer - $500
  • Length 61-130 sec 
  • 9-12 still photos and background images - (we provide stock images)
  • 2-4 video footage (as appropriate)
  • 1-2 motion graphics (as appropriate)
  • Animated transitions 
  • Up to 2 songs 
  • Up to 2 sound effects 
  • We write the script based on the cover blurb you provide
~ Sample ~

Cinematic Video Book Trailer - $800
  • Length 80-140 sec 
  • 15+ still photos and background images - (we provide stock images)
  • Cinematic opening with music
  • 3-5 video footage (as appropriate)
  • 3-5 motion graphics (as appropriate)
  • Animated transitions 
  • Up to 2 songs and/or voice over
  • Up to 4 sound effects 
  • We write the script based on the cover blurb you provide
~ Sample ~

See More Samples

Video Book Trailers

Book Cover Designs - More Choices to Fit Your Needs!

~ e-Book Covers ~
(See Samples)
$300 ea
We design everything you need for print and digital marketing materials. Here is what you will receive: 

  • Up to 3 cover concepts 
  • Up to 2 revisions
  • 300-dpi jpg for print use
  • 150-dpi jpg for digital use
  • 3-D gif file on a transparent bg
  • Stock images included

~ Print Book Covers ~
$500 ea
We design everything you need for print and digital marketing materials. However, print covers are a little more detailed since you will also need the front cover, the spine, and the back cover. Please talk with your printer and send us the necessary specs that are required since each printer is different. Here is what you will receive:

  • Up to 3 cover concepts (includes front cover, spine, back cover)
  • Dust jack with inside flaps for hardcover (if needed)
  • Up to 3 revisions
  • 300-dpi for print use
  • 150-dpi for digital use
  • 3-D gif file on a transparent bg
  • Stock images included

Cover Designs

~ Book Covers for Series ~
$200 ea for e-Book Covers (up to 3)
$400 ea for Print Covers (up to 3)
Higher discount if more than 3 books in a series
If you need a book cover design for a whole series of books, we will first work on a design template and then individual covers for each book in the series. This will give your series a branded look with continuity. The higher the quantity of books in the series, the bigger the discount for each book. Click on the down arrow to see all prices. Here is what you will receive: 

  • Up to 3 template concepts (includes front cover, spine, back cover)
  • Dust jack with inside flaps for hardcover (if needed)
  • Up to 3 revisions
  • 300-dpi for print use
  • 150-dpi for digital use
  • 3-D gif file on a transparent bg
  • Stock images

Series Cover Designs

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Public Speaking Tips: How to Be Prepared to Fill-In for Another Speaker

Ever had one of those moments when someone asked you to speak at a function, you agreed, and then you panicked because you had no idea what you would speak on? If so, then you know what I'm talking about. 
If you are a public speaker, most likely, you hang around other friends who are also public speakers. All of us are human and have unexpected things that happen out of our control - illnesses, accidents, loved ones with emergencies, etc. You may be asked to fill-in for a friend if an event cannot be canceled. Let's face it. If you're being asked to fill-in for someone, you may not have time to prepare as you would if asked weeks and months in advance. Would you be READY? 

 Below are a few tips to make sure you are ALWAYS ready.

Prepare speeches when you don't have to speak. This may sound crazy, but the moment you're driving down the road, listening to a podcast, or reading an article and an idea for a speaking topic pops into your head, write it down. Begin working on an outline immediately. Then start working on a PowerPoint presentation and get it ready. Save it in a Speaking folder somewhere on your computer. It doesn't matter that you don't have it scheduled for anything specific or a target audience in mind. What matters is that you have a collection of drafts for when you are scheduled to speak and you can modify it to your target audience when needed. This way you won't be starting from scratch. It takes the panic out of the guess work and the anxiety out of the lack of available time. 

Learn how to make PowerPoint presentations sizzle, and include videos and slideshows when you don't need them. You probably learned in high school and college that visual aides are just as important in a presentation as the speech itself. Use them to keep your audience's attention and drive home your point. They shouldn't distract from your message, but enhance it. At the same time, you don't want to be using outdated media and technology. These days, a poster board won't cut it. Go ahead and create these visuals when you create your presentation or write your speech. It's much easier to find the perfect photo or video to convey a message when you have time to search properly than in 48 hours because you're filling in for someone. 

Don't think you'll never be a replacement for someone else. As I discussed earlier, people get sick and have family emergencies all the time. Life happens. This is the perfect time for a new speaker to take advantage of this opportunity that they otherwise wouldn't have. Event coordinators know it will be harder to get a well-known speaker in an emergency. Their schedule will most likely be full. This is where you can be ready to make a difference. 

Always update a speech or presentation. It doesn't matter if you spent hours and weeks going over your speech and fine-tuning it. After leaving it alone for weeks and even months, you'll come back with a fresh pair of eyes and a new perspective that will help you make it better. Plus, each new audience may require a different angle or the changing times initiate you to target your message differently. If you included stats, you may need to update them. What have you learned since the time you originally created it? Updating a speech or presentation takes less time than thinking through and creating one from scratch. You'll still be ahead by taking this approach.

Find out the logistics. Will you be able to provide a Powerpoint presentation and use video equipment? Will you need to provide a DVD, CD, memory stick, or bring your laptop? If you cannot use any electronic equipment, find out the number of attendees and try to have copies available as handouts. If you don't want to carry them on the plane due to packing constraints, find out if you can ship the copies ahead. If you do this, be sure to bring one copy as a back up plan. You could always arrange to have Kinkos, Staples, or some other service company make copies once you arrive. 

Brainstorming ideas for topics. If you don't know where to begin on choosing topics, think about your interests, hobbies, the kinds of articles you're prone to read. Research (Google) articles and speeches on these topics. You might find videos on speeches others have given. Take notes on what you like and dislike. From this strategy, you'll be able to start narrowing speech topics down and can begin working on a presentation, or outlining a series of presentations if the subject is broad enough with several subtopics. 

Are any of these suggestions helpful? What other ways have you found to be ready when unexpected speaking opportunities arise? 
Join our Upon the Rock Speakers Bureau! 


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