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Writing and Publishing

Put the Reader First or Risk Losing Them

Write for your audience, and don’t try to impress others with your skill

Put the Reader First or Risk Losing Them

I recently read a nonfiction book. My assessment was that the author wrote to impress more than to educate. Though I did learn from her words, I’d have gained much more had she gotten out of the way and put me, the reader, first. I didn’t care how educated she was or about her sometimes sassy style. I wanted her to teach me.

Regardless if we’re writing a book, article, or blog post, we need to put the reader first. Our words need to serve them, not call attention to ourselves with our clever use of words or the way we weave a phrase. The same applies to sales copy and marketing efforts for our books.

Whatever our promotional activities, we must carefully consider each campaign from the perspective of the prospect. Before we launch our promotion, even before the test marketing, we should take a step back and look at our creation as if we were the prospect.

Consider an email I received. It was set up like an email newsletter. The first item caught my attention. The email only provided a two-line teaser, so I clicked on “more” to read the rest.

That took me to a website (as opposed to the full text, lower in the email). Unfortunately, that page only provided the first four lines of the text, so I couldn’t read further until I clicked on “read the full article.” I was six lines into it when the screen grayed out and an ad popped up, covering the entire piece. Then I had to “skip” the commercial so I could close the ad.

As this happened an intriguing video played to the right. My curiosity was piqued, and I wanted to hear the audio, but there was no volume control or “on” button. Incredible!

By then I had lost interest in the article and was peeved by the entire ordeal. I closed the window and opted-out from receiving further messages from the company.

I doubt that was their intent.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

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Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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Writing and Publishing

3 Ways to Create Top of Mind Awareness

3 Ways to Create Top of Mind Awareness

Marketing can have one of two goals: make sales or create awareness. Although any marketing effort can do both of these, it will only do one of them well.

This post will discuss ways to create awareness—and when done right, top-of-mind awareness. That is, having our author brand be what a reader first thinks of when he or she considers what book to read next. Awareness, which some would call branding, is built slowly over time. Here are three strategies to consider:

  1. Articles enhance awareness both online and in print but especially in print. Publishers appreciate a well-written article that’s interesting and provides useful information. It will establish the author as a credible source and a knowledgeable resource. It creates awareness.
  2. Blogging is a great way to develop a following and increase awareness in those who read our blog. And as a post is shared more people will be exposed to us and our writing.
  3. Online efforts including guest blogging, commenting on blogs (real comments, not “buy my book”), and interacting on social media. These take time and require effort, but when done wisely they produce great results—and backfire dramatically if done badly. Each is its own art and requires time to develop.

There are other creative tactics that authors can do to increase brand awareness, but these are some of the top ones. Just remember, branding is building for the future. For the most part, it’s not going to immediately sell books, but if it does that’s just a pleasant bonus. Book sales require a different approach.6

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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Writing and Publishing

5 Benefits of Using Online Advertising to Sell Books

With an online ad, a book sale is one click away

5 Benefits of Using Online Advertising to Sell Books

I once shared columnist Andrew Brenneman’s thoughts on the benefits of print advertising. It is, by the way, a compelling list that includes things we take for granted or overlook. Print advertising is the medium of choice to meet certain marketing objectives.

Notwithstanding that list, he also shares the benefits of online advertising. Consider these when contemplating marketing your book online using paid advertising:

1) Dynamic: It is essentially immediate, and can be updated as needed. Test an ad, tweak it, analyze the results, and then make it even better.

2) Two-way: It facilitates easy interaction and dialogue. Answers and access are a click away when an ad is online.

3) Medium Resolution: Although online’s medium image resolution pales in comparison to print’s hi-rez capabilities, it also works nicely on mobile’s tiny displays.

4) Transaction-Enabled: A sale is but a click away. This allows for the easy tracking of ROI (return on investment). As long as an ad costs less than the profit on the sale of our book, we can run as many ads as we can afford.

5) Personalized: Offers can be tailored to the recipient and targeted to specific demographics.

Online advertising and marketing are getting all the attention and hype these days, in part because of these factors. If these are your goals (seriously, they must be your goals—not what you think your goals should be or what someone else told you), then embrace online book promotions and pursue them diligently. However, when doing this, don’t forget to consider the benefits of non-online advertising.

Book marketing success, as with most things in life, requires balance: online and offline promotions and marketing initiatives.

Have you thought about running online ads for your book? Where have you run book ads? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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Writing and Publishing

12 Tips to Create a Better Book Ad

Designing a great ad is an art that takes practice

In my work as a magazine publisher, I see all sorts of print ads, from good to bad, appealing to boring, effective to ineffective. While ad creation is an art, one that requires both practice and talent, it’s also something that can be learned.

12 Tips to Create a Better Book

The biggest difference between a good ad and a bad ad is the use of white space. Novices fill every square millimeter of space with stuff: information and images they deem relevant and critical to their message. And if the words don’t all fit, they simply reduce the point size of the font until it does. Then to make key words or certain phrases stand out, they use italics, bold, underline, and uppercase. While none of these are necessarily bad, they need to be used with much restraint.

Seasoned ad creators do the opposite. They know:

  1. White space is your friend.
  2. Graphics or photos are the focal points to grab attention and draw them in. Remember: “A picture speaks a thousand words.”
  3. Embellishing text with bold, underline, italic, and UPPERCASE screams is seldom a good move.
  4. Having less text increases the chance people will actually read it.

With these basics out of the way, here are some tips about the words in the ad:

  1. Put the reader first; give them value. It’s not about you.
  2. Communicate one message.
  3. Write a great headline; make it count.
  4. Use a subhead if it advances your message.
  5. Every word you use must have a purpose.
  6. Make the text readable and flow. Complete sentences, correct punctuation, and even grammar technicalities don’t matter.
  7. Include a compelling call to action at the end.
  8. Carefully proof the ad, and have other people review it.

These are the ads that get people’s attention. They elevate your book and position it as a must-read. And if the ad has a compelling call to action, they may even buy your book.

Today’s prospects look at pictures and scan headlines. They don’t actually read something unless you grab their attention first – and then you need to keep it by presenting a short and interesting message.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

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Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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Writing and Publishing

Three Reasons to Advertise in a Social Media World

Social media and its wide reach on the Internet have given rise to word-of-mouth book recommendations. Given this trend, some book marketers wonder if there’s still a role for traditional advertising. Here are three reasons why traditional advertising is critical to promote books in a social media world:

Three Reasons to Advertise in a Social Media World

Advertising Influences Recommendations: We don’t form opinions in a vacuum. Outside forces influence us. One credible source is advertising. These visual mediums provide a strong, but the subconscious influence of how we feel and think. This includes influencing the book recommendations we receive and give. Sometimes we even make recommendations about books we haven’t read but only saw in ads.

Advertising Reinforces Recommendations: Once we hear a recommendation we seldom accept it as indisputable. First, we contemplate it. When considering a book recommendation we often reject it if it lacks reinforcement. This is a subconscious act and advertising provides a key reinforcement of the book recommendation as it’s being considered.

Advertising Confirms Recommendations: Once we accept a book recommendation as a viable option, we seek confirmation. Without confirmation, the validity of the recommendation falls into question, and we’ll likely dismiss it. Advertising is a key means of confirming word-of-mouth recommendations.

In each case the role of advertising is subtle, and we can’t measure it. The influence, reinforcement, and confirmation roles book advertising play in word-of-mouth recommendations are seldom realized by those receiving it, but it is a critical factor. Without it, the recommendation will fail to materialize and produce a sale.

Wise book marketers use advertising to influence, reinforce, and confirm word-of-mouth recommendations. The only remaining decision is determining where to advertise.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

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Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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