Archive for September, 2009

Vote for Your Favorite Cover for Rick Warren’s New Book

Thursday, September 17th, 2009
Vote on Rick Warren's next book cover.

Vote on Rick Warren's next book cover.

Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life,  which has sold 30 million copies, has done something unusual for the cover of his next book, The Hope You Need (From the Lord’s Prayer). He is holding a design competition at 99designs.com where hundreds of designers are competing for $5000 and the chance to have their artwork seen by millions of people.

Trust me, this will be a huge coup for whomever wins.

It’s also an educational opportunity for authors. How often do you see a ton of designs for one project?

For me, from just the first page, there was one cover that stood out from the rest. (It may not be on the first page by the time you look.) This cover was a clear winner.

But one person’s opinion is a very small sample size.

So here’s what I’d like: I don’t think you can actually vote at 99designs.com.

Instead, vote on this blog– and I will announce the winner both here and to my email list.

Go to http://budurl.com/l87r and look at the cover designs.

Then make a comment on my blog as to your favorite design– ideally both the number and a little about the design itself and why you like it best.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

Oh, and one last thing: I read about this on Yahoo Finance. I’m writing about it, as I’m sure others are. This was a masterful stroke on Warren’s part to get early publicity for his book. If you are clever, virtually everything about your book can help you get the word out.

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7 TV Shows Authors are Guaranteed to Get On

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

What do Elvira, The Food Network’s Bobby Flay, and comedian Tom Green all have in common?

They all started out on public access television.

PBS affiliate KTCA even picked up a program called Mental Engineering that started at SPNN, the public access channel of Saint Paul, Minnesota.

With more than 700 stations throughout the world, public access television is the easiest way for any author to get on the air virtually anywhere. (For a list of U.S. stations, go here:  http://mappingaccess.org/)

And if you create just one video, it will get multiple plays.

My local community television station, CTV of Santa Cruz, (www.CommunityTV.org),will air a half hour or one hour show a minimum of ten times in the first month. If you create something short, they will air it even more often.

And they have three different channels: one for government related programs, one for educational material, and one for general material. So any work that can deemed educational in nature, which would include anything in the self-help or how-to categories, and probably even children’s books, will air on two stations.

The kicker is, they have to air anything of a non-commercial nature that any resident of Santa Cruz County brings to them. All you have to do is fill out a form and make sure your video meets their technical requirements.

And here’s the secret sauce: I can bring them ANY video—by anyone. So you could live in Zimbabwe, send me a video, and if I bring it to CTV, they will air it.

And if you bring my video to your station, at least in the U.S, they will put my show on your channel. So if you can get enough friends, relatives, clients and/or subscribers to bring your video to a community television station, you could literally create a national show.

You could easily create seven shows—or get one show to air in seven cities.

Gerard Butler could have easily gotten a literary agent when he went from public access TV to a regular broadcast show in The Ugly Truth.

Gerard Butler could have easily gotten a literary agent when he went from public access TV to a regular broadcast show in The Ugly Truth.

There’s another reason this is important. Video is already the future of the internet. According to Business Week, as far back as last November there were more video views than searches: 12.7 billion viewings as opposed to 12.3 billion searches.

So you should be making videos anyway. Why not use the same videos to air on your local TV station?

Plus, your chance of getting a video on the front page of Google is 45 times greater than the odds of getting your text page on the first page of a search.

For this strategy to be fully effective, you need to have a reason for people to come to your Web site after they see your show. You could give away a special report, or fr/ee chapters of your book—or if you are a children’s book author, you could give away some coloring book pages with images from your book.

(By the way, this is a killer strategy for children’s book authors. Do a show reading your book, and get it to air everywhere. Or team up with two other children’s book authors for a show, and use everybody’s connections to get the show on the air in as many locations as you possibly can!)

Once you know a show will air, call up the bookstores in the area and make sure they carry your book.

You could even promote a bookstore appearance this way—then tape your appearance at the bookstore and put that on television. Some of these shows air for years—which could mean continuous sales for your book anywhere your show is on.

And if you dream of getting your own TV show, community access could be a good beginning. If you make the leap to a major cable or broadcast show, you wouldn’t be the first.

As a publicist once said to me, “Things lead to things.”

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A Surprising Way to Create a Fanbase

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

I just created a new feature for my e-zine:
Author Freebie of the Week.

I’m finding some great ebooks, podcasts, teleseminars and videos that people are giving away. These items are extremely useful for authors, so I’m enjoying passing them on.

There’s always somebody who is suspicious– in one email
I was asked, “You have got to be kidding nothing is free,
what is the bottom line?”

The truth is, because you’re competing with a simple
Google search, if you want to sell anything, you have
to give a decent amount of content for free. Otherwise,
it’s too hard to land a customer.

A lot of the time the free stuff that’s available on the net is behind a “squeeze page”
where a prospective customer is required to give up their
name and email address in order to get the material
they were promised.

But Ryan Deiss has created a new model where
he gives away the first part, which in his case is a
video, without asking for anything. Then, once you like
part one and you want parts 2,3,4, and 5, you’ll
need to *pay* by giving him your contact information,
which  allows him to pitch you
his products.

You can see an example of how he does this on his Million Dollar Napkin page.

Get a Literary Agent by building a fan base by giving away free information.

Get a literary agent by building a fanbase. Start by giving away free information.

Chris Anderson, whose last book, “The Long Tail”
created a phrase that became a standard part of
current business vernacular, has a new book out
called Free: The Future of a Radical Price. In it
he describes how several offline businesses are profiting
from giveaways. Think cell phones– they are being sold
or given away for free in order to get your subscription.
Publishers Weekly mentions  a surprising example in their review of Anderson’s book:

” . . . In China, piracy accounts for about 95% of music consumption—to the delight of
artists and labels, who profit off free publicity through concerts and merchandising.”

Anderson gave away more than 210,000 copies of his book over a 5 week period. You can still get the first fourteen pages.

And Amazon.com has a twenty minute podcast of Anderson.

Of course, in the book business, there are dozens of stories
about people giving away books for free in order
to develop a following. Seth Godin is the most famous
example in the US. He allowed several hundred thousand
people to download his book, Unleashing the Ideavirus
for free, and then offered the book in hardback for $30.
He sold 40,000 copies–and grossed a neat $1.2 million
dollars. (It may have been 30,000 copies at $40 apiece,
I never remember. But the total value was the same.)

Paulo Coelho, a much richer author, was disturbed that
his books weren’t selling in Russia. He used the same
model–and a million copies were downloaded. He ultimately
wound up selling more than 10 million books in Russia–
and we’re talking novels, not non-fiction.

So if you want to build a fanbase, in today’s market, you have to give things away for free. Everybody’s doing it. Why? Because it works.

And if you want access to my Author Freebie of the Week, plus  a list of top literary agents seeking authors, fill out the form to the right.

Hey, I practice what I preach.

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Get in Chicken Soup for the Soul

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

If you want a literary agent, it can't hurt to get a story in Chicken Soup for the Soul.

If you want a literary agent, it can't hurt to get a story in Chicken Soup for the Soul.

If you want a literary agent, it helps to have some writing credits. One good writing credit to put on your resume is a story in Chicken Soup for the Soul.

You probably already know the fairy tale success story behind this series. Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen put talked to all the speakers they knew and put together a collection of their best stories. Then they tried to get a publisher.

Literary agent extraordinaire Jeff Herman sent their proposal to 50 editors and couldn’t sell the book.  Jack and Mark pitched the book to an additional 75 publishers and still got turned down. Finally, they convinced HCI to take a chance on their book by showing them a box with 20,000 order forms ready to go.

144 million books later, there are a lot of people who have had to forgive themselves for saying that a collection of short pieces would never work. One of my friends is in that group.

At any rate, there is a  unique scoring process that’s used to build the Chicken Soup books. They take 101 stories out of all the submissions. The finalists are sent to a fairly large group of readers who rate them on a scale of 1 to 10. (I heard this story from Mark several years ago, so I hope I’m getting it right. I’m thinking there are about 40 readers.) Only the stories that get the highest scores from the group wind up in the book. As I recall, a story really needs a 10 across the board to get in.

That’s what makes this a wonderful credit for you. If your story gets in, beause of their careful vetting process,an agent doesn’t need to read it to know that you write well.

Oh, and last I heard, they’re paying $300 per story.

Here are what they are looking for during the next few months. Remember, a Chicken Soup story is supposed to warm the cockles of your heart– though I suppose they won’t turn down something that makes  you laugh, either.

Dieting and Fitness

Got a story about how YOU changed your eating or exercise habits? Got a system that lets you cheat with a hot fudge sundae once in a while. If you have a story that can inspire others, this is the place to share it.

Deadline: September 30, 2009.

Endurance Sports
Do you run, cycle or swim? Or are you a triathlete? The Chicken Soup team wants your best story about your triumphs, tragedies, life lessons from your sport or even how you the hours of practice into your life. You can be an amateur, a student athlete, or a pro. Deadline: September 30, 2009.

Mothers and Daughters
The relationships between mothers and daughters can be both complicated and wonderful. If you’ve got a mother-daughter or a mother-daughter story that’s moving or funny, this book might be for you.

Deadline: December 31, 2009.

Christmas and Holiday Stories
Share your Christmas, Chanukah and Kwanzaa stories. Deadline: January 15, 2010.

Grandmothers

Whether you are a grandmother (or stepgrandmother or honorary grandmother) with a story about your grandchild, (or vice versa if you’re an adult), if you’ve got a wonderful story, send it in.

Deadline: March 31, 2010.

Grieving and Recovery

This next Chicken Soup collection is meant to be a support group in the form of a book for anyone who has suffered a loss.  They are looking for stories that let people know they aren’t alone, that they can get through the grief, and that there is life on the other side of their pain.

Deadline March 31, 2010.

Grieving and Recovery for Cat Owners

Losing a cat can be a painful process. This book will help cat owners deal with their loss. Stories about aging cats and getting a new cat after losing a  cat you adored are also welcome. Deadline: March 31, 2010.

Grieving and Recovery for Dog Owners Everything mentioned above for cat owners applies to dog owners, who will get a separate book of their own.

Deadline: March 31, 2010.

For submission details, go to:

http://www.chickensoup.com/form.asp?cid=possible_books

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