What I Learned About Reaching Book Launch Goals

I've learned quite a bit about book launching since my first book baby was released in January 2016. Let's talk about the number one thing every author needs for a successful book launch.

When I was five or six years old, I spotted the coolest ad I had ever seen in the weekly newspaper. It was an ad for 8 Dr. Seuss classics plus an insanely adorable red book carrying case. Immediately, I did what every child does at that age: I begged my parents to buy the set for me. 

It felt as if an eternity went by but the day finally came. I was sitting on the bottom bunk of my caramel colored bunk bed set when my parents entered my room. My mom was carrying that coveted book carrying case and those soon-to-be life-changing books.  

Now that I am an adult, I still enjoy waiting impatiently for a new book to grace my mailbox. However, I’m not waiting for pretty, red carrying cases or a set of classic children’s books these days (although, who can resist a good Goosebumps or Nancy Drew book?). Instead, I’m waiting for copies of my own creation. 

For months, I have worked tirelessly to put together my latest creation, Write. Reflect. Create.: 250 Writing Prompts for the Creative and Introspective Writer. If you’ve been following my journey for a while, you’ll know that in October 2016 I started a writing prompt challenge called “Write. Reflect. Create.”

Eight or so women signed up to be part of the three-week writing challenge, and I was very pleased with the engagement. The most touching moment was when a participant expressed sadness at not being able to continue our challenge since the three weeks were done. I wasn’t expecting that response but it inspired me to create my next book. 

I’ve learned a lot since writing and self-publishing my first book baby, 11 Ways to Jumpstart Your Thinking. One of the major lessons I learned is that no author can reach her book launch goals without support. 

You may be wondering what “support” looks like.

Support doesn’t necessarily mean “purchase the author’s book” (although, we do want our readers to do so!). If you’ve ever wondered how you can garner support for your next book baby, I have a few ideas for you.

Create a Thunderclap campaign. 

I didn’t know about this when I self-published my first book but I’m glad I know about it now. A Thunderclap campaign is similar to a Kickstarter campaign although there isn’t any money involved. Instead of giving money, supporters give you permission to have an automated message post once to their Facebook timeline or Twitter feed on your book’s release date. You can check out my current Thunderclap here to get an idea of how to create your own.

The only catch, my friend, is that if you don’t have the number of supporters you wanted by your release date, the automated message won’t post to anyone’s social media platform. While you and I may be screaming about how beneficial our books are to the world, nothing beats having others scream it loud and proud for you. Once you set up your Thunderclap campaign, it’s time to think about other ways to garner support and meet your book launch goals. 

Host or attend someone else’s event. 

Selling books digitally is a great way to make passive income; however, authors can’t rely on the internet alone to make waves. Sometimes, you gotta host an event or agree to be part of someone else’s to reach your supporters. 

Think about the themes your book is centered around. If you can’t be part of someone’s event (as a vendor, speaker, etc.), consider hosting your own. As I mentioned earlier, no author can reach her goals without support. This means you may need to collaborate with a few author pals and host an event based on the theme of your choice.

Have a reading of each book and a Q & A segment. End your night with a few refreshments and a time for the event goers to purchase merchandise from each author. I’ve learned from experience that readers are more likely to purchase if they make a connection with you. What easier way to make that connection than through an in-person event?  If events aren’t your thing, there are other ways to garner support.

Create a book launch team.

I did not have a book launch team for my first book because, quite frankly, I was too afraid. I was afraid of asking others to pitch in and help me spread the word about something I created. I didn’t know what I was doing and I didn’t want to look like a fool in front of a team. 

Can I just stop for a moment to tell you something? 

We will never be perfect. We will always have the opportunity to learn from our actions and find a better way to pull off our goals. Although I created a detailed written book launch plan for Write. Reflect. Create., I promise you, I haven’t been able to accomplish every single activity. Most of the items I haven’t accomplished are because I am realizing it’s quite difficult to do everything as a solopreneur who can’t quite hire out yet. For future projects, I will need to give myself more time to pull off a few more tasks. 

In the meantime, I can entrust my beloved book launch team to at least take care of some marketing efforts for me. 

What are some tasks a book launch team can accomplish?

Apart from backing your Thunderclap campaign (because you are doing one, right?), a book launch team can help distribute flyers. Yes, social media is important, and we should leverage its power; however, don’t underestimate good old fashioned flyers. 

If you know your audience, then your team can distribute the flyers to places around town where your readers frequent. If your book is for parents, see if your local library will allow you to post your flyer on their bulletin board. If your book is about fitness, have your launch team distribute flyers at local gym facilities or in sporting goods stores. 

Your book launch team can also help by spreading the word about your book release and launch party (you ARE having one, right?). Create shareable graphics with all the details about your upcoming book release and launch party. Make sure you create different sized graphics for each platform you choose to use. A Twitter graphic size is completely different than one for Facebook or Instagram. Trust me, the last thing you want is to have part of your graphic cutoff of Instagram because you went with one sized for Facebook! (Am I the only one who’s made that mistake?)

Another task your book launch team can handle is conducting a beta reading and providing critiques before you send your manuscript off to be professionally edited. That scene you thought would be a hit may actually cause confusion, and your team can let you know their thoughts. 

Your team can even write a review for you on Amazon or Goodreads on your release day. Sometimes, Amazon ratings can help authors land future gigs (ie. a speaking event, a book deal with a major publishing company). This is one reason many indie authors seek honest Amazon reviews. So, the next time you finish that amazing book, do your author friend a favor and write an honest review on Amazon. 

There aren’t any formulas for “the perfect book launch” because what works for one author may not work for you. However, you’ll never know what works for you and your readers until you give your launch all you’ve got. Write out your plan in detail and find the supporters you need to help you reach your book launch goals. 

If you're interested in helping me spread the word about Write. Reflect. Create., I have four different ways you can help:

book launch team EMBEDDED BLOG.png

Learn more about what you can expect to find in my upcoming writing prompt book here.


Have you published a book? What did you do to intentionally gain supporters/readers for your book baby? What worked well for you? What didn’t? Let us know in the comments below! (Remember, this is a no stone casting side of the Internet.)
 

3 Marketing Lessons Writers Can Learn from the Solar Eclipse

3 marketing lessons solar eclipse.png

21 August 2017 will forever be etched in my mind. I survived my first day of school as a school counselor (praise the Lord!). I also got to experience the epicness of the total eclipse. According to The State newspaper, my city alone welcomed visitors from at least 30+ states and 10 countries. This roughly two and a half minute event caused quite a stir in the United States, to say the least. 

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I didn’t want to maneuver through traffic with an extra almost million people in my town. So, my daughters and I enjoyed the festivities in the comfort of our backyard with our blankets and snacks. 

After this momentous occasion ended, I started thinking about what we writers can learn when building brand awareness and marketing. 

If there was any lesson to be learned from this event, it would be the reminder of how powerful marketing early is. I spoke with several people who said they had booked a hotel room or paid for a campsite at least one year in advance. Yeah, you read that right. ONE YEAR IN ADVANCE, people. 

Astronomy lovers aren’t the only ones who take advantage of marketing early though. The film industry has been doing a phenomenal job of letting viewers know about upcoming releases, too. It’s time we writers do the same. 

Even if you’re not ready to release an exact date, I don’t see anything wrong with saying “Coming Fall 2017”. In fact, that’s what I’ve been telling my readers about my upcoming writing prompt book. 

Marketing your book, workshop, and speaking engagements in advance gives readers the opportunity to get excited and it creates a buzz! This is exactly what every writerpreneur wants, right?

The solar eclipse also taught us about the power of promotional materials and supplemental items. None of us wanted to go blind looking into the sun. Fortunately for us, we could grab one of those nifty eclipse sunglasses. 

When’s the last time you thought of using a “stand out” promotional or supplemental item? You don’t have to break the bank, dear friends. Think about offering your readers something that aligns with your book or event’s theme. 

Publishing a book about money management? Why not offer an editable budget template? Maybe you’re writing a book about teens who get lost in the woods. Think outside the box and offer a unique candle scent to draw your readers in. The power of smell is nothing to sneeze at, friend. 

Have you ever walked by someone wearing the same cologne as your grandpa? Didn’t it take you back to the times he used to bounce you on his knees? Don’t underestimate the power of a good smell! If you need help with creating just the right scentsation, our friends at Book Scents Candle can help! (no affiliate, just passing along a great resource!)

What’s the use in having an event if you don’t have someone to share it with? Many families, friends, and co-workers got together to celebrate this festive occasion. Hundreds of thousands of pictures floated throughout the interwebs. Many of these pictures used eclipse-related hashtags.

As writers, we may not be able to host an event that captures millions of readers at one time (we can still keep our fingers crossed though!). Yet, we can host Cupcakes and Conversation events to spark some discussion about our latest release. We can create a hashtag for our book or event, too. Readers can share selfies with our products using our hashtag. 

Creating a community helps bring readers together, too. How cool would it be to have your readers share their excitement with fellow fans?

Unlike a total eclipse, every writer will not draw in a one million plus crowd to an event. That’s okay.

Writers can instead use the power of marketing early and creatively to build a community of raving readers who will bring life to the creations we’ve birthed. 


What other lessons do you think writerpreneurs can learn from a solar eclipse? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

5 Common Writing Mistakes

Stockphoto courtesy of Ivorymix.com

Stockphoto courtesy of Ivorymix.com

Let’s face it. We’ve all been there. Inspiration is flying high and your fingers race to keep up with the firework finale in your mind. You finally catch your breath and look at the outcome of your hard work. Right after pressing the submit button, you spot it. 

An error. 

It happens to the best of us. Don’t sweat it, friend. We all make mistakes. 

Although we know mistakes will happen, we can still take measures to ensure our work is top quality. Let’s talk about five common mistakes found in our writing. 

Homophones. Those pesky words sound the same but are spelled differently. You know, words like to, too, and two. Or attendance and attendants. 

When we’re writing, it’s so easy to mistake one homophone for another. Sometimes we place greater emphasis on the sound of words than the correct spelling. Before finalizing your work, make sure you look out for any homophones you may have used incorrectly. 

Another common mistake we’ve all made is using apostrophes inappropriately. Take for example the sentence below:

Gloria, it’s about time you go on a date! 

In this case, “it’s” means “it is”. “It’s” is often confused with “its”, which is used to show possession. Take a look at the next example:

The bird is in its treehouse. 

There’s no apostrophe needed because “its” is used to show us that the tree house belongs to the bird.  

I’ll spare you the grammar lesson, friend. Just remember “it’s” is a contraction and “its” shows possession. 

Now, let’s talk about commas. I can’t lie to you. I used to put commas wherever I wanted because honestly, I didn’t think it mattered! (Sorry Dr. E and Mr. Lemahieu!) Now, I know better. Commas are pretty important. You don’t think so? Take a look at this next example:

Let’s cook Mom. vs Let’s cook, Mom. 

The first sentence insinuates you want to cook your mom. The second sentence clearly demonstrates you’re asking your mom to cook with you. Correct punctuation saves lives, folks. 

Tweet that >> Correct punctuation saves lives, folks! 

Not only do we need to check for commas, but we also need to make sure we haven’t confused words. Take the famous “accept” vs “except” example. Let’s pretend you were offered a position at your dream job (go you!). You would respond by saying, “I accept this position.” 

Accept” means you either receive or take on the responsibility of something. 

If you’re looking at the contract and notice the salary is less than what you discussed, you would say, “I agree with everything except the salary.” “Except” means you are excluding something. 

Other commonly confused words are yoke vs yolk and loose vs lose. I know we all make mistakes, but I cannot tell you how many grey hairs grace my crown every time I notice someone incorrectly using “loose” and “lose”. Just kidding, guys--sort of. Lol!

We could go on and on, but let's talk about one more common writing mistake. As you are about to wrap up that angelic piece you poured your heart into, make sure to check your spelling. I think everyone probably has access to spell check, but it wouldn’t hurt to proof your spelling anyway. You may catch an error that wasn’t recognized by good ol’ technology. 

No matter how much you proof your work, you may end up finding an error after you schedule that blog post or newsletter. It’s not the end of the world though, friend. If anything, mistakes remind us that we are human. 

What I’ve found to be helpful, however, is to have someone else proof my work. Having a fresh pair of eyes works wonders. Sometimes we get too attached to our work and this attachment blinds us from the improvements we need to make. If you’re looking for a fresh pair of eyes to help you with grammar and punctuation, flow, consistency, and sentence structure, then check out my editing services here. I'd love to help you polish your next writing piece before you publish it!

What are some common writing mistakes you've come across? Let us know in the comments!


What to Do When Your Creativity is Resistant

We need to learn to respect the process and grant our creativity the ability to bloom when she wants.

Writer’s block is the devil. 

Every writer knows what I’m talking about. 

You’ve changed scenery and even read books and articles for inspiration. You keep journaling and journaling, praying that what flows from your fountain pen or keyboard will manifest itself into this AH-MAZING piece that you can be proud of. You want the pure satisfaction of knowing you are indeed a writer who can’t be beaten by the infinite possible arrangements of twenty-six letters. 

You’re a writer for crying out loud. That’s what you do. You write. 

So, when you’re faced with a screen filled with incomprehensible rubbish, you want to pull your hair out and hurl yourself to the floor like a two-year-old who can’t have that sweet piece of sugar-coated goodness. 

Related 4 Ways to Beat Writer's Block

This has been my life, ladies and gentlemen. For the past few weeks, I’ve been able to share must-haves for writers on vacay, I wrote content revolved around improving your writing, and I even wrote a book review on Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give. 

Yet, when I sit down to write a personal essay, I become a toddler again, learning to walk for the first time. I stumble to find my way. The words flow, but with resistance. Ideas appear but are muddied. 

Why is it so much easier for me to write content for writers than personal essays? 

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love writing instructional and fun pieces--BUT, my soul longs to bathe in the sweet bliss that only personal essays can give me. The high I feel when I bare my naked soul has to be what people experience every time they take a hit of some good stuff (so I hear). 

I want to feel that natural high every time I pick up my purple pen or pull out my Green giant-sized laptop. I want to dive into a pool of this feeling and never come up for air some days.

Yet, I’m learning I have to come up for air. Otherwise, this incredible high will consume me completely, and I’ll overdose on the very thing that breathes so much life into me. 

I wasn’t given this passion so I could escape my day-to-day life and responsibilities. In fact, I’ve come to learn writers must live to produce life-changing words. 

We need to have tea with our daughter and paint a picture with our son. Go to a jazz club with our significant other and dance the night away. It may seem as if we’re not doing anything to propel our stories, but this isn’t true. We need to live to create. 

Instead of forcing creativity to be kind, what I need is patience. 

Patience to let my incomprehensible rubbish reconstruct itself into manna. 

Patience to respect the process and the head space I must be in to commune with my creativity.

Great writing takes time. I cannot rush to build my Rome. I must grant my creativity the freedom she needs to bloom as she deems necessary. 


What do you do when you struggle to write in a specific genre? Let us know in the comments! 

How to Plan and Host Your Writer Interview Series

Stock Photo By CreateHerStock

Stock Photo By CreateHerStock

You wanna host a writer interview series, huh? Great! Before getting started, you need to know why you’re conducting this interview series. What is its purpose and what do you hope you and your readers gain? If you’re stuck, think about a problem your readers mentioned. Create your interview series as a way to provide answers your readers need. 

For example, in my May series, every writer I interviewed revealed how they gave themselves permission to write authentically. Writing authentically is a huge struggle for some writers. The May series served as a way for writers to learn tips on how they, too, can write authentically and unapologetically.  

See 5 Reasons Writers Struggle with Authenticity

Got your purpose in mind? Good. Let's start thinking about who you want to interview.
 
I know you know tons of writers, but you need to choose only writers who can best help you reach your overall goal. Grab a pen and notepad, friend. Make a list of potential interviewees who would be a great fit for your series. Are you looking for writers from a specific genre or with a certain skill level? Whoever you choose, your interviewees should add value to your readers’ knowledge. 
 
You may be wondering what to do if you don't have enough writers to interview. If this is the case, you can always reach out to others via social media. Who knows? You may know someone who knows someone else who would be a perfect fit for your interview series. Whatever you do, consider having a screening process. Check out the potential interviewee's website, blog, and social media platforms. Ask yourself if this person aligns with what you’re looking for. 
 
Don’t be afraid to pitch to writers you know would add value to your interview series. This is a mistake I made. I wanted to pitch my idea to three writers I admire, but I chickened out! (more about this in another post) Fortunately, I was still able to attract enough writers for my May series

See A Seat at the Writer's Table
 
I’m a pretty big (over) planner. So, I thought it would be great to create a list of questions to ask each interviewee. After checking out each person’s website and social media handles, I was able to tailor my questions to that person’s area of expertise. You don’t have to do that, but I feel like it lets your interviewee know you’ve done your homework. 
 
Once you have your list of questions, you need to decide how to conduct your interviews. If you're fortunate, you’ll be able to use video to record your writer interviews. Your readers will love putting a face to a name. Watching your interviews also helps your readers feel more connected to you and your special guests. However, if your schedules do not align, you can always email your list of questions and have them respond that way. Email interviews can be a little less personal, but they still give your readers access to a wealth of knowledge. 
 
If you’re using Zoom to conduct your interviews, just remember to ask your interviewees to choose the video option (if that’s your preference). I forgot to do that with two of my special guests and I had a few people who were bummed because they could only see me on the recording. 

When planning your writer interview series, decide how long you will need to conduct each interview. One big mistake I made when doing my May series is that I did not give myself enough time to record and schedule the interviews. I wasn’t sure how long it would take to complete everything, especially since I ended up with twice the amount of writers interested than I anticipated!

Look at your calendar and choose dates you’re available to record the interviews. Give yourself time to edit the videos if necessary, too. You may end up with an interview where the volume is an issue (like one of mine), and need someone to help you fix that problem. It’s best to give yourself enough wiggle room so you’re not stressed when trying to meet deadlines.
 
Not only do you need time to record and edit the interviews, but you also need time to summarize or do some sort of write-up about it on your blog. I’ve seen some writers provide a transcript of the interview, however, I chose to tell my top three takeaways from each interview in my May series. Do your best to work ahead of schedule and batch as much of the process as possible. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later!
 
A great way to encourage interest in your upcoming interview series is to create promos. If you’re on a budget, no shame. You don’t have to hire a graphic designer to pull off stunning visuals. Try your hand at using some FREE 99 templates in Canva or Snappa. Or get a little creative and come up with your own design. 

When in doubt, go simple. Minimalism is all the rage these days, and a super clean design will help your audience focus on the important details. Speaking of details, don’t forget to include the name of the series (if applicable), the date(s), where they can find the interviews, and maybe even a teaser of who they can expect to hear from. 

When posting your promos, make sure to create separate images for each platform. Use the same image, but make sure the size is appropriate for each platform. Don't forget to also create a promo for your header on Facebook and Twitter! Here are some examples of something simple I created in Snappa to promote my May interview series.  

I used this image as my twitter header. don't forget to make room for your profile picture!

I used this image as my twitter header. don't forget to make room for your profile picture!

I used this image on instagram.

I used this image on instagram.

Now, I know this process may sound like a lot of work (and it is, lol). However, I want you to consider mailing handwritten thank you cards. It’s not a requirement, but it does add just the right personal touch. I tried to be secretive by looking on my interviewees’ websites and email footers, but alas, I had to spill the beans to a few of them. I really wanted to show my participants that I valued their time and I hope they enjoyed collaborating with me. Remember, friend. It’s all about building genuine relationships with others in your industry. 


Have you ever planned and hosted an interview series? What advice do you wish you had beforehand? Share your questions and cool stories in the comments below!