Biographies Are Hot Right Now

In this era where digital virtual reality is taking over, readers are going crazy for biographies and memoirs. The reality of inspiring people is something that we all strive to relate to.

Writers today are hooked into more research tools via the Internet and writers are being pushed into it – To quote the old adage, “Truth is stranger than fiction.” Who wants to read fiction?

Details and facts are only one part of a successful biography. The real key when writing a life story is to showcase facts and information about your subject not previously known by the reader.

But that’s not all: You need to take fiction devices and apply them to your story.

The fact is that less than 10% of autobiographies are written without ghostwriters. Is this a bad thing? Why should we expect someone who’s lived a successful and interesting life to also be a prolific author?

Ghostwriting is a legitimate skill: being about to live in someone else’s skin, view the world with their eyes and speak with their voice so nobody even expects the ghostwriter.

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Speaking Gigs as Extra Income

Do you want to increase your income and boost your writing profile as you do it?

If so, then you need to sign up with a speaker’s agency.

The education market is a great opportunity for young adult and children’s book authors. Are you a non-fiction author? No problem, because the corporate market loves you.

Writers with an existing profile are of course the most sought-after as speakers, but it’s a good idea to work on their presence before approaching an agency.

You need to do your research before signing up with an agency – specifically looking at the engagement terms. Run though this checklist before committing yourself:

  • How is the agency’s commission worked out? Percentage? Set fee?
  • How much did the agency bill the customer?
  • Who pays for insurance, and what is required? Professional indemnity? Public liability?
  • If your state requires a police clearance, who pays?
  • How is sales tax (or other local taxes) charged?
  • When does the agency pay the speaker? On the day, or only after the customer has paid?
  • Is the agency slow when paying speakers? You probably have to ask other speakers, not the agency itself!
  • If the agency hasn’t been paid, how will it collect from customers?
  • Does the agency charge per event or per head? What if attendance is lower than the customer expected?
  • What’s their cancellation policy?
  • Is the agreement exclusive or can you have multiple agents in different niches or states?
  • How does the agency choose its speakers? Do they require a trial event, and does the customer pay?
  • What’s their travel and accommodation policy? Who pays?

Remember that writers are only a small percentage of speakers of an agency roster. Writing and presenting are completely different skills but because both writers and speakers are usually articulate, there’s more overlap between the two industries than most other niches.

Writing a relevant, punchy speech is very important. If you’re looking to do speaking gigs on a regular basis, you should write a new speech for each event.

If you’re going to focus on the corporate market, some of the most popular topics include business, the economy/finance and sports.

Sometimes you’ll be asked to give a free talk, and that’s okay – but you need to know when these events will actually cost you money (either in travel, accommodation or lost income).

Doing free work also doesn’t guarantee that you’ll sell loads of books, but it can mean diluting your brand as a writer and it keeps you from actually writing.

Tips for public speaking

  • During a speaking event, have a camera set up so you know what your ‘performance mode’ looks like. Get a friend to watch it and offer honest criticism.
  • Eye contact is very important and you need to learn techniques to maintain it, especially since your audience can be 200 plus people.
  • Understand that depending on the audience size you need to vary your voice and how you use it.
  • Understand how and where to stand – Practice makes perfect!
  • Learn to control arm and body gestures
  • Get used to the technology you might be using (overhead projector, laptop, etc.)
  • Practice! After committing your speech to paper, you need to practice delivering it as a presentation. Do it a couple of times by yourself then do it for a friend (a professional coach is even better).
  • You need to evolve: Keep improving your speech so it doesn’t get stale and keep recording it. Talk to your audience after to see what can be improved.

Suggested public speaking rates

Speaking and teaching (such as at literary festivals, residencies, writers’ centers and other public events which aren’t schools)

  • Whole day (max. 6 hours): $800
  • Half day (max. 3 hours): $500
  • Per session (max. 1 hour): $300
  • Keynotes: $1,000 (print and online publications to be negotiated separately)
  • Weekly rate (max. 5 days – average 6 hours a day): $3,600


  • Whole school day (max. 3 sessions): $600
  • Half school day (max. 2 sessions): $450
  • Per school session (max. 1 session): $300
  • Weekly school date (max. 4 days – average  sessions per day): $2,500

Public speaking can be competitive but it’s also exciting for writers to get out there and generate some momentum.

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Give Your Book Away to Generate Interest

Most authors believe that as soon as they have finished their masterpiece and “get the word” out, millions of people will be queuing up to buy. It doesn’t quite work that way!

Success as a writer is a three step process: Write the book, print the book then sell the book. It’s that last step that authors often pay the least attention to – Even though it’s the key to success.

You need to identify your readers early on. Not everyone is going to buy your book and you need to be okay with that fact. Ask yourself how you can get in front of the kind of people who will convert into buyers. Take very specific actions every day and work toward a goal. Continually working is half the battle.

You will want to give up. Everyone wants to give up at some stage. Powering through the difficult times is what separates successful authors from those doomed to be “aspiring” forever. It will take perseverance and stick-to-itiveness, but eventually opportunities with present themselves, whether with publishers, literary agents or publicists.

If every author sat down and clearly defined the market for their book, almost every book would sell. Stick to working every day – whether you feel like it or not. There isn’t even a “worst case scenario” as there are millions of other marketplaces to sell your book other than the big bookstores.

What kind of business card should a writer give to prospects? Their book, of course!

If you don’t believe me, try it. Send fifty copies of your book to execs at direct sales companies. You’re not trying to get a response from all 50 sends, but you might get one or two. They might then place an order for 500 books! You never know unless you try.

Coaches and professional speakers (specifically look at the personal development industry) use their book as a loss-leader to promote themselves and get customers worth hundreds of times more than the cost of printing a $12 paperback. Such a plan may even open the door to high-paid consulting gigs.
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Preparing Your Manuscript for Agent Submission

The best publishers don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts but they probably receive thousands of them every month anyway – only to send them to the “round file” (bin).

That means you need a literary agent. Your first step should be to get the list of literary agents, which includes every US literary agent in Excel, CSV and PDF formats. You also get a Microsoft Word mail merge template to make sending a query letter easy.

The literary agents listed are the industry’s best-performers and don’t charge fees – Plus, there won’t be any costly surprises!

Fixing Up Your Manuscript

Don’t stress too much about what your manuscript looks like.

The universal guide is:

  • Double-spaced
  • Simple, professional font, like Arial, Courier or Times New Roman
  • Page numbers on each page
  • Loose sheets (no staples)

The List of Literary Agents includes email addresses for most agents, s o you could send them an email along with the posted copy.

You Are an Entrepreneur

Stop being afraid. If you want to be a successful writer, you will need to do manuscript submissions. You don’t want to stress each time you’re getting ready to submit because you’ll be stressing for the rest of your life!

You need to reset your thinking. You are a writer, but also a salesperson. The product that you’re selling is your book. You have the power to produce the best product you can.

Remember: Most of the rejections you’ll receive (and you’ll get a few!) have nothing to do with the quality of your book, so don’t take it personally.

Just start work on the next lead (agent) on your list. This one might be the winner!

Selling your book is an important component in your work, something you can’t afford to ignore.

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Writing a Book That Sells

Writing a saleable, marketable and viable book is hard. Even major publishers aren’t able to guarantee how well a book will sell. Buyer preferences are affected by so many variables – including flash trends and world events.


I’m going to show you how to leverage the sales-factor in your favor.


1. You need to know your readers


Get specific. Important details include:


  • Age range
  • Marital status
  • Geography
  • Occupation
  • Other books they’ve read


Put together a profile including where they shop, whether they’re apart of any club or organization, etc.


Having this data means you can incorporate these aspects into your book plus you could find new marketing opportunities.


2. You need to know your market


Use some detective work to figure out what the market’s like for your book.


How many publications are related to your book’s topic? Are you reading ALL of them? Could you fill some “holes” in your niche?


3. Books which are similar to yours


How many other books have been published on your topic? If you haven’t already, you need to read all of the books in your niche.


A successful author knows every detail about similar books and what potential readers think of them.


It’s not bad if there are already books out on your topic, you just need to angle yours differently.


4. Stay up-to-date with your industry


Do you know what’s hot in your industry? Do you know what people are wanting today and what might be next?


Talk to lots of people and ask them to take a quick 5 to 10 minute survey. They’ll tell you everything you need to know.


5. What’s going on in the media


What’s the media talking about? Take note what other books they’re promoting. Read everything – not just the first page!


You could check out what the media in other states (or in other countries) is interested in easily via the Internet.


Identify any trends in their coverage. Even the smallest thing might be the key you’re looking for.


6. You need to do speaking gigs


The best way to engage with a relevant audience is via speaking gigs. Being in direct contact with your audience will have a positive influence on your finished product and it will create buzz.


Get them to sign up to a mailing list so you can keep them informed of any developments, such as when your book is coming out.


7. Take advantage of upcoming events


Think carefully about options when you plan to release your book. Good tie-ins include regional events and holidays – Check your calendar!

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Re-energize Your Book Marketing

Marketing a book is definitely a process, but sometimes it takes a lot longer than we’d expected. That’s why first-time authors need to step back and look at the promotional work you’ve been doing. This will reveal areas that might be getting neglected or opportunities that haven’t been considered yet.


You need to get yourself a white board or something as big. Now write up what you’ve accomplished so far – Don’t leave anything out! Add everything from when your first book proof arrived.


Hopefully this process will offer some new perspective on what you’ve been working on when promoting your book. It’ll identify areas which you’ve been spending way too much time on plus what’s working and what’s not.


Keep in mind that goals like “bulk sales” and “international media” are long-term and will take more time.


For example, if you’ve been doing lots of radio, maybe it isn’t working. Now is the time to look at another promotional avenue, i.e. speaking engagements. Have you kept up with your speaking gigs? Find out what isn’t working, then cut it – Work on something else.


You should have a pretty good idea about your promotional progress. Put together a to-do list to help boost your campaign.


Staying “in the trenches” often means we don’t have a clear overview of the big picture and this causes us to work on items which aren’t very effective and neglecting things which could be huge.


Taking a step back for a minute gives us vital breathing room to regroup and re-energise ourselves.


Remember: You need to be in control of your marketing. Only you have the passion and determination to get your message across. Don’t leave it to someone else then wonder why nothing seems to work!

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How to Do Your Own Book Marketing

Building a base of people to market to is a goldmine for selling your book once you get published or even to get noticed by a publisher. If you bring value from the start, a big advance should follow. The key question is, how do I do it?


1. You already know people – Start with them first


I’m sure you have some form of list, in your email address book or a holiday card list. Whether it’s small (10-39) or large (300-500), send out an initial message letting everyone know that you plan on sending them regular notes, newsletters or whatever you’re planning to send. You need to give them the chance to opt-out if they aren’t interested. I’m sure most will stick around as they’re friends and family and interested in hearing what you’re up to.


2. When you meet someone new, add them to your list


If you want to succeed as a writer, you need to be out there and meeting new people at least once a month. Useful venues include networking events, writing classes and speaking engagements. If you’re a non-fiction author, you need to do speaking gigs. This will establish yourself as an expert in the field and allow you to get the attendees’ contact details to add them to your list.


Signing people up is important – just ask any successful author. E. Lynn Harris had a trick at his book signing events: He would sign your book if you signed his. Since they didn’t feel they were being directly marketed to (although they were!) they were happy to be on the list.


Remember: Before adding someone to your list, get their permission and let them know how often you will be mailing them. If they want to opt-out, let them.


3. Use a list management service


Your email account may not allow you to send mass-messages – but this depends on your email provider and your Internet service provider.


There are a number of online list management services which not only maintain the list itself but help you send out beautiful HTML formatted messages.


Most services provide a link which you can add to your web site and it adds the person to your list and keeps track of how people have signed up.


4. Send to your list regularly


Have a regular schedule to send to your list, this means they won’t forget about you.


Options include notes, cards, daily inspirational quotes, whatever: It’s up to you.


E-mail newsletters let you share news about you and any recent activities plus useful content for your readers (and potential book buyers).


Giving free tips, for example real estate deals, marketing ideas or cooking recipes, you’re showing your list that you’re an expert in your field. It’s also a good reason for staying on your list – they’re getting a lot out of it!


Remember to include your book details and any reviews it has received.


5. Create buzz from your list


Send out an email blast when your book is nearing publication. Let your readers know it’s coming!


This will generate pre-sales and you can share reviews as they come out. Don’t forget to send date and times of when you’re at an event.


Often people list their book on months before its actual publication date. Pre-orders generated from your list will boost it up the ranking: Bookstores will know you have an audience in buy mode and it looks great to have statistics.

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Book Promotion: How to Effectively Sell Your Book

Most new authors are under the impression that as soon as their book is written, their books will fly off the shelves and they will be swamped in sales. They’re brought back to reality when they open their royalty check. The real truth is that the author’s real work starts when their book is finished.


Great authors started by selling books out of the back of their car. Their career didn’t start with a bang and they did not have a budget for publicists and PR firms, but they are hugely successful today.


You need to work on marketing, promotions and networking every day. We’re talking for the life of the book, while you balance your own life.


A common misconception is that book signings and individual stores stocking your book will be the key to success. I’m sorry to tell you, but that’s wrong. Even in larger centers with massive promotion, a signing or reading event may get you a couple hundred one-time sales.


Small stores can expect less than ten sales. You’ll be spending over two hours at the event, is it worth your time? This isn’t even counting your preparation, event marketing and promotion materials, which you may have paid for in advance. Signing events don’t pay authors to appear, so any books sold might not even cover your travelling and hotel costs. What about parking, supplies or any time off work?


The worst part: The sales you get only last the duration of the even (or a couple days before/after) but rarely long-term.


Term Another shocking statistic is that most book stores only stock less than 1% of the three million plus books on the market. Stores have discount arrangement with publishers, and authors’ royalties are paid only on what the publisher gets.


So is it really worth the hassle to get your book on the shelf?


I’m not saying you shouldn’t do signings or events, but you need to think outside the box. Focus on areas that deliver the best results. Expect some people to have a negative attitude – both in the media and your audience. Promotions and marketing is a long-term game, you need to persevere to succeed.


Lots of authors live in small towns and have normal jobs or physical limitations which prevent them from doing out-of-town promotions. The good news is that you can still promote successfully.


Use the Internet and think outside the box. Work your contacts – remember: Be persistent!


Everyone thinks about newspapers, libraries and bookstores. Because they’re the most obvious, it’s hard to get their attention. You should work on your image and produce beautiful promotional materials which makes you stand out.


To succeed, develop a marketing plan for the long-term – and don’t give up! Make sure you work hard for the full length of your contract with the publisher. Keep notes so you can draw from your knowledge when promoting your next book.


New authors when faced with promotional tasks get overwhelmed. It’s true: it takes a lot of effort to market a book. You need to plan a set of tasks for the week, then focus a goal for today. Do it every day. It’ll help you form a steady pace and stop you taking on too much.


One last tip: Newsletters can be useful when promoting your book, although the subscriber numbers are usually between five and seventeen thousand.


Online newsletters (or e-zines) typically have more than five thousand subscribers. If you are featured in a few of them in a month, you could be reaching a large amount of people.


You don’t need a lot of money or a publicist to succeed, you just need to be extremely determined.

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Your Book’s Cover: More Important Than You Think

You know the old saying, don’t judge a book by it’s cover? As unfortunate as it is, people do.


Your book’s cover design could be make or break for you as an author: If you have an ugly cover, people will skip your book, meaning no sales. Publishers drop authors who have no sales.


Designing the inside of your book is also important. You need it to be easy to read to share your message with your readers. The inside design should be complete before moving on to cover design and you should present friends and family with options before setting it in stone.


Where possible, include pictures and/or graphics if they’re relevant to your message.


Remember: A poor design reflects on the book and its contents. Do it right!


You need to work with a graphic designer who knows his or her stuff. These are the magic services you need to look out for. To keep costs low, try to find one person who is knowledgeable in all areas.


Book cover design


Case wrap design


Book jacket design


Text layout


Barcode and image scanning


The major stages in a best seller are:


Part one: Design component

The design component encompasses the book cover design, general book layout and the inside pages.


Part two: Publishing


This includes editing, copywriting and typesetting plus illustration.


As soon as you have completed these two major steps, it’s time for printing.


You need to be aware of the spine width of the cover, which is determined by the page count.


The last process is deciding whether to print as hardbound or softbound. Make sure everything’s in order (such as titles, subtitles and headings) then send off your manuscript in Adobe PDF format.

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How to Give Your Book a Great Title

Publishers employ expensive people to work exclusively on titling books and headlines with the goal of making the book as commercially viable as possible.


Many great books were initially given lousy titles. Let me share some examples:


Gone With The Wind was originally Tomorrow is Another Day


Peyton Place was originally Blossom and the Flower


Free Stuff For Kids was originally The Rainbow Book


The Zucchini Book was originally The Squash Book


Lady Chatterly’s Lover was originally John Thomas and Lady Jane


The Great Gatsby was originally Trimalchio in West Egg


Of Mice and Men was originally Something that Happened


Catch 22 was originally Catch 18



Here’s an exercise: Go into your local book store and browse through the best seller section. Watch the other store patrons, especially how they choose a book, quickly scan the front and back covers, then move on to another book.


Time them, this process usually takes around two seconds per book. That means you have two seconds to make the only impression on a potential reader (and customer). You must target all of their senses: Sight, speech, hearing and touch and smell.


1. Sight: Your book’s title has to be aesthetically appealing: When a potential reader initially comes in contact with your book’s title, it’s usually via the front cover. What this means is you need to consider spacing, fonts and colors.


2. Speech: If a potential reader has difficulty with the words, you have made it 10 times harder to market your book. Tim Ferriss pained over his first book’s title (The 4-Hour Work Week) and you must too.


3. Sound: Jim Rhone, the noted business philosopher said you must have something good to say to have effective communication. You need to get your message across as well as possible, as many times as possible. Lots of people will hear your book’s title, you need to make sure that, firstly it’s good and secondly, it’s said well.


4. Touch: In the sense that it’s relatable and has an influence over potential readers. Your book’s title must touch people and have a strong influence over them. Remember: The goal is to sell books!


5. Smell: Once again, in a figurative sense. Your books’ title must give off an aroma! That doesn’t sound very concrete, but it needs to project an atmosphere, or at least a special quality. If potential readers perceive a lot of thought went into the title – that it actually means something – they will assume the same about the entire book.



Lastly, but most importantly, your title needs to be short and simple. Nothing complex! Take a look at this week’s best seller list. Out of 20 books, how many have a one-word title? How about a two-word title? Keep it simple!

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