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Writing and Publishing

Writing Blog Posts In Advance

Last week’s post was long, my longest ever on this blog. It was far longer than my goal of 200 to 300 words and beyond my limit of 500. Today’s post will make up for that. It will be short.

Writing Blog Posts In Advance

When I started blogging, I’d sit down and write a post whenever I had time or inspiration hit. When it was finished, I’d post it immediately. Later I developed a blogging schedule, which put pressure on me to have time to write and be inspired according to the calendar and clock. That was too much stress.

Now, I write all my posts for the upcoming week on the weekend—that’s four posts for three blogs. I block out time and batch writes.

My mind knows that on Saturday morning, I must sit down and produce. I can’t do anything else until I do. To make it easier, I have a running list of ideas. I pick an item from the list, write the post, schedule it, and repeat it. The second post always flows easier than the first. A third one is a breeze.

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Writing and Publishing

Seven Marketing Touches Are Required for Success

Marketing experts say it takes an average of seven marketing touches before a consumer buys a product. Advertisers who run a couple of ads and give up are giving up too quickly. As writers with a book (or service) to sell, we need to keep this in mind if we want to maximize our success.

Seven Marketing Touches Are Required for Success

While we can accomplish each of these seven touches via the same promotional channel, we should tap multiple ones for greater effectiveness. What options might we consider?

Start with a press release; it’s not much, but everything helps. Email blasts, assuming we have an email list, are a great way to connect with our readers and potential book buyers. Website ads on destinations our audience frequents offer a third option. Guest blogging is a fourth consideration, followed by social media mentions and ads, especially Facebook and Twitter. There is also direct mail. Another consideration is print ads, providing we find the right publication.

This is seven options for seven touches, but don’t use every option. Pick the ones that feel right. Regardless of which ones we select, we must have our book highlighted on our own website. This is essential; it is key to success.

When it comes to booking promotion, keep in mind that just because something is available, doesn’t mean we should use it. Carefully test each option before investing time and money into it. While some options have relatively minor cost, there is still the cost of time—time that we can’t spend doing something else.

What promotional efforts have worked well for you? Have you had any epic fails? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Writing and Publishing

What Was Your Week Like?

Regular readers of this blog know that I write every day. Another goal I have is to spend weekday mornings writing and afternoons working (which involves some more writing). I seldom realize that goal, but I am moving in that direction. Then in the evenings, when my schedule permits, I work on my platform. Again, this goal is only somewhat realized.

What Was Your Week Like?

This week was a whirl of activity. Here’s what I remember:

  • I write blog posts on weekends but had one unfinished. I wrapped that up first thing Monday morning.
  • I’m working on a book proposal that an acquisitions editor asked for. I hoped to complete another section of it on Friday, but I didn’t so I finished that section (with two more to go).
  • I had talked with a literary agent about a couple of book ideas. Inspiration hit, so I wrote the opening chapter for one of them.
  • I think I spent the afternoon following up on emails for work.
  • That night I listened to some platform building podcasts, adding more items to my to-do-list.
  • On Tuesday, I wrote a chapter in another book about the church we visited on Sunday. I needed to capture my thoughts quickly before the details faded.
  • I tried unsuccessfully to connect with a writers group before lunch. Since that didn’t work out, I went to a different one in the evening.
  • Work that afternoon was a blur, but I begin working on a freelance project for three blog posts.
  • Wednesday, I made edits to the piece I shared at my critique group the night before.
  • I went to edit the piece I wrote on Tuesday but realized I hadn’t edited the prior 12,000 words. Major distraction.
  • In the afternoon I worked on TAStrader that will go out next week. Now I just need to write my column for it.
  • I reviewed cover options for another book. Both are great; now I need to pick one.
  • I finished my freelance project and sent it out. Then I charged the client’s credit card. Both are great feelings.
  • The evening brought more platform work—and another item on my to-do-list.
  • Thursday I came up with the concept for the other book the agent and I had discussed. I outlined it before I forgot. I’m itching to start writing, but that will need to wait.
  • Then I finished editing the 12,000 unedited words I discovered on Wednesday.
  • Next, I made a final edit to another book. (A book is never done, but this one is now on hold for a while).
  • Email at work stacked up, and I whittled that down to a manageable level.
  • I sent out my writer’s newsletter (WriteOn!). It only takes about an hour to do, but it also takes an hour to do.
  • I worked on something Friday morning, but I already forgot what. I’m behind at work and cut writing short to start work early.
  • In the afternoon I edited some submissions for the next issue of Connections Magazine. One article came in at 1,200 words, and it was supposed to be 750. I knew I could edit it down to hit the needed length, but that took time.
  • I ended the week finishing another freelance project and charging the client. Plus the words were really good ones. Triple bonus.

I never did get back to my book proposal, and I’ve not started my newsletter column (but I do know the topic). I have a nagging feeling I have something else, but right now I can’t recall what. In the midst of this week, I had a near meltdown and a couple of times of overwhelmed lethargy-producing frustration.

I don’t share my week to complain or to boast. I’m happy I have work to do, am overflowing with ideas, and have an agent and editor interested in my work. It is good, so very good. But the multitude of projects and ever-present distractions are insane. Sustained focus is elusive. It’s not manageable. I need to cut something out. Change starts today.

My purpose in writing this is simple: Be sure to guard your writing.

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Writing and Publishing

Social Media is a Tool and Nothing More

Nathan Jamail says that “social media is just another tool; it is not a sales plan.”

Yes, social media is powerful, he says. There are many people who have used social media to achieve many things, including authors who have tapped it to push their book to bestseller lists. Social media can help an author build a platform and become better known. It can also take “word-of-mouth to another level.” Possible social media platforms include Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. But by themselves, they will not do much to increase book sales.

Social Media is a Tool and Nothing More

The proper place for social media is to “work in conjunction with a marketing and prospecting plan,” Jamail declares. That needs to be in conjunction with other proving marketing activities.

I couldn’t agree more. Everyone, including authors, is jumping on the social media bandwagon. This isn’t a bad thing—unless, in the process, they abandon proven forms of promotion and platform building initiatives.

I agree that social media is a tool, but it is just a tool. It is not a marketing solution or a bookselling machine that can function apart from other marketing methods. If you like social media, by all means, use it. Just be sure to use it inclusively, not exclusively.

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Writing and Publishing

Is Your Writing Seasonally Affected?

You may be familiar with SAD, seasonal affective disorder. I have something similar. I call it SAW or seasonal affective writing. In the spring and summer, despite having more distractions to keep me from writing, I also have more energy to write. Though there are days when distractions usurp writing, overall my writing prevails. My output increases. Writing flows.

Is Your Writing Seasonally Affected?

During winter I encounter fewer distractions, but discouragement is more likely to overtake. I still write every day, but it may not be as much and may require more effort. Motivation wavers and production drops. Though the quality, I believe, is just as good, there is not as much of it.

I suspect everyone has a seasonal aspect to their writing, a time when they write more or better, offset by another time when they write less or not at all. It’s critical we understand our writing cycles to set reasonable expectations for ourselves—and others.

For me, I avoid starting new projects in the fall. My goal is to plod through winter with an intentional focus on existing work, not adding to a schedule that threatens to overwhelm. Conversely, I embrace new assignments and take on extra work in the spring and summer, a time when I know I can complete them with ease.

Some people, like me, write more in the summer. Others write less or may even take a break, a summer vacation if you will. The key is to embrace our seasons of productivity and protect our times of diminishing returns.

Regardless of what your summer writing looks like, may you have a great one!