Category Archives: Blogging

“Best damn marketing tool and it’s free”

Business books

I talk with clients about their book marketing strategy and there’s always the question of blogs. Should you blog, should you not blog? Some people think blogs are passé. Some think they’re not worth the effort you have to put into them. Inasmuch as I’m a great believer in blogs, I can’t tell a person how to use their time. Only they can judge that. Only they know what is most important to them. The fact is, it takes time to write a good blog post, but I think it’s time well spent.

So rather than talking about blogs in an abstract sense, I started looking around at some well-known business-book authors to see what they’re up to. Three that come to mind for me are Tom Peters (who I worked with for a number of years), Seth Godin, and Dan Pink. (Seth and Dan I know from interviews I did with them for the “Cool Friends” section of tompeters.com.)

Dan began blogging at a site called JustOneThing.blogspot.com. As the name suggests, he wrote about one thing each day. (I think you can still find those blog posts at that URL.) That began early in 2002 and ended after about a year and then he began blogging at danpink.com. Meaning he’s been blogging in one form or another for more than 10 years. Dan recently stopped blogging. (I think I read this in his newsletter.) Instead of blogging he’s posting regularly at Twitter and Facebook. And perhaps more importantly, his site, danpink.com is now a repository of resources: pdfs, videos, interviews, links to helpful articles. Dan has earned his way out of blogging, though, as I said, he’s still active in social media. He also does a monthly radio call in show, which allows anyone to ask questions directly of Dan and his guest in real time.

Seth Godin has been blogging forever and continues to blog. (It seems that Seth, too, began blogging in January of 2002. At least that’s when the archives begin at his site, sethgodin.typepad.com.) He posts every day, seven days a week. He only uses Twitter and Facebook to link to his blog. His blog is everything. No comments. He doesn’t want to be distracted by them. Neil Patel has written a blog post about the ten things you can learn from Seth about blogging. Seth posts a blog every day but that doesn’t mean he’s writing a post every day. He may write five to ten in one sitting and then queue them up for the following days. You don’t really want to find yourself in the position of having to get up in the morning and write a blog post before you do anything else. (That’s why you’ll find editorial calendar plug-ins or add-ons for some of the more popular blogging platforms.) Of course, you still have to write them.

By doing this and doing it every day and being consistent and smart and providing content that you can apply to your own life, he’s gathered hundreds of thousands of followers and with a crowd like that, it’s easy then to go on to do other projects. Which he has done. Unlike Dan Pink, who has moved away from blogging but substituted other ways of talking with his audience, Seth has stuck with the blog. In a way, he is the master.

Then there’s Tom Peters. He began blogging in 2004. Tom really embraced blogging. I remember some of those days early on when he produced half a dozen posts or more. And I’d say, “let’s save some of these for another day” and Tom would say “no” and we’d post all those and then he’d write a bunch the next day. Eventually he settled into a more or less “one a day” routine and that went on for years. I remember hearing Tom tell someone that “if you’re not blogging you’re an idiot” and that “it’s the best damn marketing tool and it’s free.”

Over time Tom began to blog less and less. But blog posts still appear now and again and whenever he speaks, his slides are posted, something we started doing at the original Tom Peters website in 1999. But an interesting thing happened with the advent of social media. Tom got turned on to Twitter and has really taken to that platform. While he shares links to information, Tom primarily converses with other people there. Most of his posts are in direct response to someone who has reached out to Tom at Twitter to ask him a question or to comment on something he has tweeted about. And people love that. Tom now spends less time writing blog posts and more time communicating directly with people.

The point here is that you’ve got three well-know business authors who’ve all used blogging as a primary means of marketing their books and their speaking. And over time, they’ve gone in different directions. But I would maintain that their blogs laid the foundation for whatever it is they’re doing now online.

So if you’re working on a business book and want to begin marketing it, and you should be doing that before you’ve published it, blogging is still the best way of putting your message out there. The problem is, is that it is the foundation. On top of your blog you have to build Twitter or Facebook or Google+ or all three or at least two. You get the picture. But your blog is still home base.

Lights, Camera, Action

Or, “Lights, Lights, and Lights.” A two-minute-twenty-second video about advantages of daylight light bulbs when making videos of yourself.

Self-publish or go with a big house? Not either/or anymore. Or, as you work, so shall you publish.

Four Views of a Book Press

Flickr photo by 802

Just stumbled across this rather caustic overview of the publishing industry from Mark Hurst. (It’s from 2008, so not recent.) Mark’s got a particularly cynical outlook about most (not all!) publishing houses.

He seems to be upset that the publishers aren’t risk-takers. Well, hello, until a few years ago these folks were running around with leather elbow patches on their herringbone sport coats! These folks aren’t bungee-jumpers! And Mark seems upset that these folks want a certain guarantee that a book is going to sell. Well, they are in business. They want to make money. Anyway, you could go on and on. Mark has some valid points. He does feel the publishers take too big a cut of the revenue given what they add to the process. That may or may not be true. For some folks, having the imprimatur of a big publishing house has a value above and beyond sales of books. But it does seem that he was overly disappointed by the whole experience of trying to work with publishers. It’s probably worth asking him what he expected going in. That might explain a lot of what happened. As it turns out, he self-published his book, Bit Literarcy.

I don’t entirely agree with Mark’s presumption about why you write. He says you don’t do it for the money, and that’s true in the short term, but you should look at a published book, particularly a business book, in a longer-term way. It is your calling card for a speaking and/or consulting career. We still live in a world where “author/authority” means something. Authors have authority. People are willing to pay to hear someone who knows what they’re talking about, someone with information that will help them in their personal and/or business lives.

Whatever authorship means moving forward, I suspect that the world of publishing will be a lot like the world of work. Work-wise, people no longer have one career; they won’t spend their working life at one place. In the old days, someone would get out of college, find employment at a big company and hang in there until age 65, then left with a gold watch. Hard to imagine, but it happened. Well, in a similar way, many authors found a home with a big publishing house and then stayed with them to their mutual benefit for a long time. These days you may work for a big company for a while and then go off on your own and you may go work for another big company. There’s no one way; there’s no linear route. That’s the same for publishing these days, too.

Look at David Meerman Scott, who is one of the commenters at Mark Hurst’s blogpost. (Read all the way through the comments.)  He self-published a couple books, then went to a small publisher and then went to a big publisher, Wiley. Where he is now. He says that he sold more copies in two weeks with Wiley than he did in years with his self-published titles. But in the future he may well revert to self-publishing again. J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, has published all of her books with a big publishing house, but now she’s setting up a self-publishing operation called Pottermore.

All by way of saying there’s no one solution these days. You do what works best for you at any one time. The one thing that doesn’t change, though, is the marketing. That all falls on the shoulder of the author, whether she’s self-publishing or working with a traditional publisher. (This is one of the things that ticks off Mr. Hurst about the big publishers.) It’s not worth complaining about anymore. It just is. Look at this blog post from Michael Hyatt, chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers. He lists four reasons why authors must take responsibility for their own marketing. He writes, “Yes, it is easier than ever to get a book into print, but it is more difficult than ever to sell it.”

If you’re going to self-publish, you need a following, you need people who are interested in what you have to say. That following doesn’t show up over night. I’ve heard Seth Godin say that you should give away your first book in digital form. As a way to attract an audience. If it’s good, it will spread. If it isn’t good, you’ll know soon. And that same audience is what the big publishers are looking for. Whichever way you go, you need your own audience.

Seth Godin’s advice to would-be authors. Here again, not recent, from 2006 in fact. But still relevant. Which I guess says something about how forward-thinking Seth is.

David Carnoy, a journalist at cnet.com, has published a list of 25 things you need to know about self-publishing.

 

Does your “About” page tell a good story?

Found this post from Amanda, who was blogging for CreateSpace.com at Book Expo America this week. The post is about “Brand You” for authors, all worth reading. But scroll down a bit, to this headline: The New “About Me”: Why Every Blogger Needs a Bigger Story. This is good material and focused on one piece of web presence—the “About” page—and as it turns out, the second most visited page at your site after your home page. So make sure it tells a good story.

Related: this “about us” page tells a good story.

Social media for books—and the people who read them

Ian Greenleigh, blogging at dare2comment put up a post titled: “Breathing new life into books with official hashtags.” Here’s his first paragraph:

The other day I tweeted out an idea, and quickly received a burst of encouraging responses. I was on to something. The idea I shared was that all books should have official hashtags so that people can discuss what they’re reading as they’re doing so. This would serve both authors and readers remarkably well.

I was pointed to Ian’s site from Domino Project, where they picked up the idea in this “Hashtags for books” blogpost and wherein they claim that in the future all their books will be published with an official hashtag. For instance, Poke the Box would have a hashtag of #ptbDomino and Do the Work would have #dtwDomino. (Looking at those names, though, I wonder if Domino Project is going to publish only three-word-titled books? Okay, it’s early in the game and they’ve only put out two books so far, and of course that is a ridiculously small sample from which to extrapolate, but…)

It seems that some authors have already been toying with the idea, to mixed results. But they haven’t been working with an “official” hashtag and perhaps that can make a difference. I’m looking forward to the day when books have a big hashtag and three-letter (or however many) abbreviation emblazoned on the cover. One new element for book cover designers to deal with.

hashtag WTF

(This image, taken from musformation.com, could be the official hashtag for a book called Working the Frontlines. That’s a joke, of course.)

Blog graffiti?

Toddgrafitti
Todd Sattersten of 800CEORead is growing out his facial hair until the book he and Jack Covert are working on is turned in to the publishers. He posted a picture of himself in his current condition. Unable to mark directly on the photo at the CEORead blog, I’ve done the next best thing…I think.

“What’s the secret?”

Last night Todd Sattersten dragged me over to 20 x 2. Here’s the blurb from the schedule of events:

Tambaleo (302 Bowie St)
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Here’s tonight’s recipe for fun. Take twenty designers, writers, musicians and bon vivants. Give each two minutes and the same question to answer, and turn them loose before a live audience. That’s the equation for 20×2, which celebrates its sixth SXSW. Join us as participants answer the question “What’s the Secret?”

I know it said two minutes, but this video of Jory des Jardins answering the question runs a little longer than that.