Archives for May 2013

Ten Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Start Writing

May 28, 2013 Leave a Comment

By: Karen Rowe

Question-MarkI spend a lot of my time with new clients finding out who they are and getting a real sense of their overall goals for their book. This is often a matter of listening and asking the right questions. I get so many writers that write and write and write and but forget to ask key questions until after they’ve finished their book. Successfully publishing a book means asking yourself these key questions:

Are You Treating This Book As a Business Or As A Project? One of the biggest myths of the book industry is that authors are going to get rich from publishing books. There’s no money in books. So if this book is a pet project, a tribute to your grandparents, a memoir to honor the death of a loved one, a therapy book to work out all your issues, that’s fine. But be clear about that before you start, and don’t expect to get much of your investment back.If your objective is to create a book for posterity’s sake, then the good news is that you won’t have to invest a lot of time or money to produce something that’s quite acceptable. If your goal is a business venture, then treat it the same as you would any other marketing tool.

What Do You Want the Book To Do For You? Are you looking to build a speaking career, attract more clients, establish credibility and expertise, become a full-time children’s book author, land a publishing deal or write a book that your friends and family can be proud of and read for all eternity? I’ve said it before, the biggest difference between a successful author and one who has never been heard of is the ability to set clear, definable goals. Create a list, and then go about building a book that will do what you want it to, and will work for you.

What Kind of Market Do You Want the Book In? Knowing your market will sell more books. Niche books tend to do well. Nonfiction books with a clearly-defined topic, a compelling hook and a specific target audience will be more successful than a book appealing to the masses. There are also certain topics that will always sell:

a) How to make more money
b) How to find or have more/better sex/love/romance will always do well.

Fiction is a little tougher to predict, but some genres do better than others. This is why it’s important to do your research and also why traditional publishers like authors with loyal followings. There’s a balance that you have to strike between finding a niche that you can dominate, and selling enough books in that niche each month that it matters.

Who Is Your Target Market: Please don’t say ‘my book is for everybody’, because it’s not. If you write your book “for everyone”, you are more likely to attract no one. The more clear and specific you can be about your target reader, the more likely you are to attract them. Getting clarity on your target will inform your writing choices throughout the process. It will also help you find them and get them to buy the book at launch time.

How Do You Want to Help People? Zig Ziglar said it best: “You can get everything you want out of life, if you just help enough other people get what they want.”Whether or not they realize it, your reader will always ask, ‘what’s in it for me?’ If you can clearly identify the problem they are experiencing, solve that problem and then demonstrate how you can help them, they will automatically connect with you. It’s also a way to immediately position yourself as the expert that they must listen to because you have the answers. They will keep reading, they will tell their friends, and (in theory) you will sell more books.

What’s the Message You Want to Communicate? Let me give you a hint, you are the message you want to communicate. Six-time Emmy-Award Winner Shawne Duperon asks a much better question: what are you broadcasting? “What signal are you transmitting in business”… and in your book? Whether you’re networking, posting or writing your book, you are your message. Having a message that is directly in line with who you are, what you do and what’s important to you will help you authentically connect with your reader. It will attract the perfect client and ultimately grow your business or your career.

What Do I You Have To Contribute That Is Not Already In The Marketplace? Part of doing your research is finding out what others in your field are up to. Penny Reading Sansevieri, author and CEO of Marketing Experts, Inc. says, “success leaves clues.” By following and getting to know other authors in your market, you will find out what’s trending. Their work will not only familiarize you with how others are addressing your topic, but also highlight what’s not being said, and how can you expand on that. What can you add to the conversation? What should people really be discussing? What’s your unique value proposition? Another way to position yourself, is by disagreeing with the expert opinion. When done properly, this can carry great weight and influence. It also helps you to be on top of new information, and gives you the opportunity to add any missed information.

What Is Your Budget? I meet a lot of writers who aren’t willing or prepared to invest in their books. It’s funny how authors often think that being an author doesn’t require an investment. This is mostly because they’re not yet clear on how to generate energy around that book and get a return on that investment, or have the book work for them as a marketing tool. Decide on your investment and then ask yourself: How much money am I willing to lose? Yep, I did say lose. You may earn your money back in book sales, but you may not. It’s impossible to predict how any book will do so make an investment that you are prepared to lose if things don’t go as you’d hoped.

How Do You Want To Publish? You have several options. You will want to start thinking about this at the start of your writing so you can get the ball rolling long before you complete your book. You can self-publish, seek a traditional publisher, or a hybrid route, which combines the two. Regardless of your choice, it’s important to know about digital platforms such as Amazon Kindle, iBookstore for iPad and Barnes & Noble Nook. Did you know that you can make more money selling a book digitally at $2.99 than selling a traditional book for $24.99?Get the information you need to make an informed choice. More on this in a different post.

Who Do You Need To Collaborate With: Writers tend to be the worst self-promoters. Typically what makes you a great writer (ie: you might be an introvert) makes you a terrible self-promoter. You just wanna write. If this is you, and you know this is you, then you may need to hire a team to help you finish, publish and/or market your book.

Asking all these key questions before you get started means you will be further ahead than a large portion of first-time writers in the industry.  If you want additional direction, please consider attending my upcoming webinar with expert book marketer, Lynn Serafinn – more information on this will be provided shortly.

AND FINALLY, DON’T FORGET to subscribe to the ‘Write Better’ authors blog via the form at the top of this page for more tips on writing, editing, digital publishing, book promotion and marketing and much more.
And of course, if you’d rather have someone write your book for you, just drop me a line via the contact on this site.

How Leaders Gain Influence: Actions

May 24, 2013 Leave a Comment

By John C. Maxwell.
May 24, 2013

Influence doesn’t come to us instantaneously; it increases gradually. Nor does influence develop by accident. Instead, it grows as we purposefully take action to earn the trust and win the respect of others. In this post, I outline five actions essential for anyone aspiring to gain influence in their family, community, or workplace.

1) An influencer enlarges people.

If you want a quick-and-easy test of your leadership, simply look around at your people and ask: are they growing? As Alan Loy McGinnis said, “There is no more noble occupation in the world than to assist another human being—to help someone succeed.” Leaders make their people better, helping them to go higher than they could have by themselves.

2) An influencer navigates for people.

On whitewater raft trips, before travelers ever enter the water, the guide warns them of the dangers that lie ahead. During the voyage, before reaching particularly rough stretches, the guide pulls over to the riverbank and leads rafters uphill to show them upcoming rapids and whirlpools. That way, the rafters can see ahead of time the hazards they are going to encounter.

Like rafting guides, leaders have the responsibility to look ahead, spot problems, and inform others of difficulties looming in the distance. Additionally, leaders take responsibility for charting the course ahead. That is, they’re not only problem-spotters but also solution-givers. An influencer leads others through rough terrain that they could never navigate on their own.

As a leader, you can always make the trip faster by traveling solo. However, your goal as an influencer isn’t to be done first, but to have someone with you when you cross the finish line. The most rewarding success is shared success.

3) An influencer connects with people.

Singer/songwriter Joan Baez once commented, “The easiest kind of relationship for me is with 10,000 people. The hardest is with one.” Indeed, personal relationships demand large amounts of energy and commitment, and the skill of connecting with people often represents the missing link for those in leadership positions. For some reason, people in authority assume those below them are responsible for initiating contact. Their mindset is that, “I’m the leader; others should come to me.” Nothing could be more counterproductive to gaining influence.

Leaders have the responsibility to reach out to their people and to discover the personal agendas and needs of those they lead. Charisma does not come from having an outgoing personality. Rather, charismatic leaders are those who, whenever they enter a room, proactively search for ways to make others feel welcome and valued.

4) An influencer empowers people.

While enlarging people deals with their individual growth, empowering people involves their growth within the organization. Empowerment starts when we see great promise in an individual, and then speak encouraging, uplifting words in order to make them aware of their potential for greatness. Empowerment also means sharing your power, position, and influence with them so that they experience opportunities to grow that they could not arrange on their own. Finally, empowerment means showing others that you believe in them. Don’t just build them up privately; praise them publicly.

5) An influencer reproduces other leaders

Plows and bulldozers are both useful machines for moving earth, but they operate in very different ways. A plow turns over the earth, stirs it up, and aerates it so that the soil becomes a good place for seeds to grow. A bulldozer scrapes up the earth and shoves it aside.

Is your leadership style more reminiscent of a plow or a bulldozer? That is, do you cultivate your people in order to maximize their potential for growth, or do you simply push them wherever you need them to go? Great leaders do not merely give orders to subordinates; they multiply their influence by developing the leadership capacity of their people.


Which habits of action have allowed you to develop influence? What is one action you would like to change in order to upgrade your influence? Take a moment to post a comment on the actions that have been most beneficial to your growth as a leader.

What distinguishes the most successful authors…from you?

May 21, 2013 Leave a Comment

By: Karen Rowe
1.1According to the book The Millionaire Next Door there are approximately 3 percent of households in the United States with net worth in excess of $1,000,000. And that net worth is accompanied by a minimum annual income just over $135,000 per year, with an average income of $260,000. That would place them in the top 3 percent of all American households.

Authors like J.K. Rowling, Dean Koontz and Stephen King represent less than 1% of the author population, and have book sales in excess of $300 Million.

So what’s the difference between them and you?

They set clear, definable goals: The big difference is that the 3 percent group have prepared written goals with specific plans for reaching those goals. Not very many people are willing to do that.

So the best way to become a successful author is to start by creating some goals for your book. Ideally you want to create a list, five or ten goals at the least, that you wish to attain by publishing your book. You also want to create goals surrounding your marketing: How many bloggers do you want to reach? How many events do you want to do? Who are you going to connect with to help you promote your book, etc. A gentle reminder: Book sales should be at the bottom of your list. Right before ‘Get Rich and Famous.’ See my post, ‘7 Biggest Lies Writers Tell Themselves About Their Books’ for more on this. You won’t get sales without exposure. The standard in marketing is that people need seven impressions to your book, message, or product before they will consider buying. Your goals should be aligned with that focus: getting as many impressions or pieces of exposure as you can. It’s not a matter of ‘what one thing will I do to get 100 people to buy my book’, but ‘what hundred things can I do to get one person to buy my book?’ Get enough exposure and book sales will follow.

They stay focused: Focus is what separates the successful author from the one who flounders and does not complete or ever publish a book.

Authors are creative and as such, we have no shortage of ideas, we love to start new projects …Squirrel!… jot down ideas on scraps of paper … and then what? Onto another bright, shiny object. I have dozens – if not hundreds—of half-started blog posts or book ideas which I’m only just now starting to do something with. (See my article on Idea Hoarding for more suggestions on what to do with these.) But many authors suck at systems, schedules, time management, discipline, and most of us are lousy as self-promotion. So we get distracted, and have a hard time with follow- through and completion. If you have to work with someone to stay focused it could be the best money you spend –ever. Which brings me to the following point.

They know what they’re good at, and what they suck at: Successful authors build a strong team to help them with what’s not working.

This has been a tough one for me. I am a starter, a big picture thinker. What I’m not is a detail-oriented person or a “finisher.” This is not good or bad; it’s what’s so. This means I’m a really great at conceptualizing. I can carry the vision for my clients’ books, help them get clear about what they want and create a plan. I’m also a strong substantive, or content,editor – the part where I get to sink my teeth into the ideas, the flow, the overall message and tone for the book and offer critical feedback.

And I’ve learned to hire a team of people around me who are detail-oriented finishers for the rest. You know these people, they are the organizers, it comes naturally to them, and they love it. They are my proofreaders and copyeditors, and executive assistants and my director of operations; these are the people I surrounded myself with.

You need people around you who are good at what they do and who know what they’re doing because they have value and expertise that you don’t. Respect their work and respect their time.

They welcome and encourage feedback: Authors who are willing to listen and learn and get valuable input to make their work better are often more successful than authors who refuse to listen to the advice of professionals who have been in the industry forever.

Authors become emotionally attached to their work, or their cover art, or an idea that simply doesn’t work is standing in the way of their own success. Surround yourself with people who aren’t afraid to tell you the truth, who may tell you something you don’t want to hear. This will help you more than any ego-stroking in the world. The market will tell you in no uncertain terms whether or not your work is good. You might as well hear it while there is still time to improve it.

Can I guarantee that you’ll be the next Stephen King? Of course not, but these tips will get you further ahead than whatever it is you’ve been doing up until now. Understanding the basic principles of the book business will help you be more successful. Not only that, but using a solid model for business will put you light years ahead of most of the other authors out there, and with 300,000 books published a year, you need a strong model in order to succeed.

So, ready to achieve success with your writing? Coming soon: Surefire Ways To Succeed in Writing.

Thank you for the prayers

May 16, 2013 Leave a Comment


This one is on a personal note to say thank you.   My mother is doing much better after a challenging few months and your prayers and warm wishes have been deeply appreciated.

Sweet Marie

Sweet Marie

Many of you know I have a special relationship with Mom.  She’s 92 and a complete dynamo.  As the youngest of nine, Mom is quite a bit older than me.  So as a kid, I sometimes felt the disconnect of having a Mom who was a generation older than my friend’s mothers.  As an adult, the significance of that has become precious to me.

Mom was a career woman in the 50s, when it was unheard of to be a career woman.  The role model she has been to me is profound and many of my strengths come from her – as a business owner and someone who deeply cares about making a difference in the lives of others.

One of the most profound things she’s reconnected me with this month is resiliency.  As a struggling child, Mom would always tell me “it’s a good thing you’re so good at doing such hard things.”

Now I’ve become an adult who sees the joy in doing the challenging.

How much will I let the setbacks in life stop me?  A few issues at work pale in comparison to watching how Mom deals with two failed hip replacements.   With severe osteoporosis, the pins have been powdering through her bones.  It hasn’t stopped her.  With each new surgery, her resolve gets stronger.  She vents a bit, moves past it and her determination renews.

And just when I thought it was not possible to love her any more, my love for her deepens. 

She lives the most profound lesson of all – it’s not what you’re doing in life that truly matters.   It’s who you’re being when you do it.

With deep gratitude for all the support.