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Monday, May 18, 2009

Marketing Strategy 4: Continuing Education

As I get older I realize how much I do not know. I know at heart I am a perpetual student. I love the researching part of the writing. I enjoy the hunt, uncovering little tidbits of knowledge so much that I don't want to start writing the manuscript, no matter what the topic. Maybe you are not like me and you feel learning is a drudgery. I will share with you little short cuts to the learning process and how to make a small amount of time pay off in a big way.

Learning encompasses so many facets of the writing process. Everything from the research needed to set a location in some-faraway-exotic land, to where does that darn semi-colon go in a series...and my favorite when do you use a comma before AND and when don't you! (Don't worry, if you are a grammarian you will enjoy these blog posts for the fun it will give you in finding errors.)

Yet, the learning I'm referring to here is not only to hone your punctuation skills (you can hire a good editor for this and I have 4 right off the top of my head I can refer to you), but also for learning about the publishing process. Even more important is the marketing that is needed to sell that book. I really wish I had known the importance of marketing when I first began. I know to many of you it may seem self-evident, but to most authors just wanting to complete the first manuscript the entire process can seem daunting without adding marketing into the mix.

I am a self-published author who turned down a 4-book contract. I work with authors who are published by traditional publishers and those who are self-published and even authors that I have personally published, through my company Media Angels, Inc. This experience has given me the edge and what I have learned could fill a book, and has. It's title? Information in a Nutshell: Writing and Publishing.

Maybe you are a natural and do not need formal education, but I can't say that about all authors...believe me, some of my own manuscripts have needed major overhauls before they could see the light of day! Not all of us can go back to college and pursue journalism, communication or other writing intensive degree. So, if you have a day job, what are your options?

I thought you'd never ask. There are many options that are surprisingly free on the internet if you know where to find them, and, some that are a small cost and worth every penny. One of the best ways to stay ahead of the crowd is to study internet marketing. I have done this for about two years. I've taken copious notes, listened to more podcasts, CD’s, and watched more DVD’s, than there are grains of sand on Ft. Myers, Beach. Alright, that may be a slight exaggeration, but sometimes it feels that way. And what have I learned? That I have a long way to go in learning about Internet marketing and if I continue to learn, I will be on the cutting edge of technology. The only reason I care about this at all is that it has already proven that it helps to sell books.

My sales have grown exponentially since the first of the year and all of this in a down market. If I used the marketing trends as they are meant to be used, I am sure the sales would increase. One way is to blog daily. The biggest obstacle to blogging that I am still working on overcoming is the realization that every blog does not need to be profound! For that reason I don’t blog daily (yet). I am working toward that goal!

Here is what I have learned and you can implement quickly:

Stay up to date with marketing trends by subscribing to a free e-mail, (or paid) subscription, of Publisher’s Weekly, or other similar literary magazine.

Listen to marketing and publishing podcasts. A good one to start with is my upcoming podcast, Information in A Nutshell on Another one is hosted by Cindy Rushton, also on BlogTalkRadio …The Writer’s Radio Show. Both of these will bring you information you can use, now! Check for times and topics at

Take a free (or subscription) writing course. I have offered a free writing e-course on my website that is available online. This course will give you some good information on the writing process and how to hone your skills. I will be teaching several others this year online as well.

If you are serious about your writing you can’t learn too much, especially if you plan to launch your book with a bang. I have done both…launched books with a bang and a fizzle. Believe me, the bang is always a more satisfying feeling. The fizzle translates into books that trickle out the door. If you do your homework and at least one of the things I have encouraged you to look into above, your book launch is sure to be a success!

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