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Being Author-prenuerial When the Bottom Line is Wavy

When the bottom line doesn’t add up to figures in black – without red dashes before them – what does a writer hope to gain by the publishing of a book?

A new author sent me a list of questions to answer regarding her first month of publishing, which occurred at the end of last year. I’ve now been in the publishing business for four full years, which is practically nothing in the grand scheme of things.

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Why has anyone ever published their work? Has there ever been a financial guarantee?

I had to face and disclose the fact that the outlay of investment so far has been well beyond the income from selling books, and what’s more difficult to assimilate, the outlay of investment would continue to be a calculated risk if she continued to buy advertising and publish other books.

Here are ten gains to consider when you are deciding whether an author’s journey is worth taking.

1. A waterfall of education in literacy and marketing publicity occurs in the life of every rookie author (one to five years expected). People often see hybrid publishing as a way to work themselves into being offered a deal by a traditional publishing house.

2. The opportunity to persevere stakes out its garden lit walkway (character growth).

3. Attending, or presenting to, writers conferences in exquisite places become a surprising blast of wind through the back door. (travel).

4. Bonding with other creatives whose values are similar to your own, or who may enlarge your territory, such as editors, artists, philanthropist partners, agents, publicists, and publishers whose goals intersect with yours and who bolster the vision and energy that you value so highly becomes a wonderland in a world of chill factors (understanding, heart, worldview, exposure).

5. Experiencing the surreal ripples of new connections between and among the four hemispheres of a writer’s brain and physiological moments will make your mouth water, your tears fall, and your lungs fill with the aires of a-ha! (personal exploration of life, engaging curiosity).

6. You will tell your story your way. By the grace of God you will use your voice and your God-given experience to reveal something meaningful to new audiences (calling and ministry).

7. Learning to use criticism as a springboard to excellence will improve your voice and your value to yourself and others (posterity).

8. Discovering the benefits of silence and solitude will make you more at home with yourself than ever before (isolation from the rat-race).

9. Learning to budget the business will grant you control and creative ideas to succeed (accounting, taxes, laws related to income, losses, copyright, and royalties).

10. Cafés☕️📚… and coffee… and classrooms (enjoying alternate universes).

If any of these pro’s outweigh the con’s, I recommend that you set up a savings account in order to publish and/or market not only your first book but also your second. You may have to eat less, forego shopping sprees or vacations.

You might be familiar with the wisdom of old that advises entrepreneurs to count the cost before building a house. But, for me, counting the costs in building a publishing house was not an option. That is, there was no trail of breadcrumbs through the forest leading towards the line items as to how things would add up.  I learned many things in a backward manner and spent time and money that I now see to be the price of personal education. Now, things are clearer.

Different things make different people tick.  Consider shopping, fashion, child care, workout equipment and reps, television, stage performance, animals, industry or career, all of these are things that consume one’s budget, time, and effort.  They bring their own social circles into your life.

If publishing your work is the thing that makes your clock tick, either use the other areas in your life as props, ideas, and research for your book or begin to reclaim the amount of your priority with them and siphon off that priority towards your writing goals.

Tonya Blessing, the three-year author with Capture Books (Soothing Rain and Whispering of the Willows), says,

I also think that passion is a huge piece of writing.  I have a pas|sion (strong and barely controllable feeling) about writing. I like creating a story. I like how writing brings things out in me that I didn’t even know existed. And, I am happy with the responses from readers I’ve had in this past year.”

Use the “author life” as a worthy and reasonable goal for your personal quality of life.  Do this psychological shuffling even if no-one else understands you.  Talk about the joys and frustrations you have with reading and writing and arithmetic to your friends and associates.  Out with it!

When all of this begins happening, and your initial choices begin to snowball into life priorities, you may find yourself in a sardonic mood from time to time.  Do you wrestle with the necessary line items in your pitiful household budget? Not everyone has a difficult budget, but many creatives and writers do. It may be something to get financial counseling specifically related to your author’s line-item budget.

It’s tempting to capitulate into the pool of guilt over budgeting funds towards the costs of launching an author-perineurial business. Don’t do this.  You will need to invest in yourself and create new boundaries for yourself in order to succeed.  This is how anyone in business approaches success.

Take Away: When advertising goes bust or the book expo leaves you addled with waste, then pull out your list of why’s and add to them the how’s.


Laura Bartnick, the Managing Partner at Capture Books, (author of Welcome to the Shivoo! Creatives Mimicking the Creator). She is available to give this presentation in writer’s groups and to field questions in person or over the airwaves, or online.

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Move Mindfully from Fake to Real

Have you heard of the Imposter Syndrome?

It “is a concept describing individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and have a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. The term was coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes.[1] Despite external evidence of their competence, those exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved.”  (Fall 1978). “The imposter phenomenon in high achieving women: dynamics and therapeutic intervention” (PDF).)

The Problem.

If you are an entrepreneur journalist or author-preneur, you understand that you are always curiously walking into new and unexpected timewarps, new-to-you environmental situations, and talking with experts who know more about their field than you do.  That’s why life holds the goods for you, but that’s also why you may feel nothing like an expert at ANYTHING.

I’ve experienced the imposter syndrome myself. Here are three issues I have faced feeling like a fake.

  1. My industry is often viewed as a fraudulent spin-off of traditional publishing.

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  2. In my musical quartet, one person became sick. Others of us had our doubts, fears, baggage from life, and time constraints that made for a pile of imperfections. Besides that, we wrote our own music. How could we possibly tell if there was even a market for our music, much less present ourselves as professionals?
  3. The first time I approached a DJ to speak about Capture Books on the radio, I didn’t know that radio hosts are beholden to an agenda dictating what they are able to put on the air. Agendas are either self-imposed by their persona or show or imposed by the broadcasting station. I soon learned that wanna-be speaker-authors are a dime a dozen.

What is the Answer?

You’ve heard some of these things before but perhaps applied to other arenas of life. So, as you are thinking about the overwhelming challenge to present yourself an expert in the field you have written about, break down these two TIPS, A & B, below, and apply them to your new writing business.

Tip A: 

Come Across in a Powerful, Vibrant Persona

This is how you “should” come across. Oh, yeah. Of course, just putting a “should” into the mix tends to tighten up the flow of consciousness! “Shoulds” can plug up your ready laughter, and bring on comparisons that cause wet patches to grow under your armpits. Yes, acting like the perfect example of an Alpha-personality, even if you aren’t, can be faked!

Slouching in your chair, or walking with your shoulders slumped over does not create the image of movement, good humor, or education. It certainly does not convince your audience that you are their next kicker!

So, here are the basics to win your next interview with a media host:

1. Be on time, and swing your arms. Relax your shoulders and loosen your neck in the car or elevator, or while you are waiting in the appointed hot seat (but do not crack your neck noisily before a stranger!).  If you have a hot and angry topic, it will eventually rear its head during the interview, but start out sweet and savvy!pexels-photo-261617.jpeg

  • If a media host gives you directions to the studio or station, write them down.  I once attended a radio interview that could not be found on anyone’s GPS. The host did not tell me why he was giving me directions, and I assumed he was a bit of a dinosaur, but I wrote them down anyway. Don’t let GPS destroy your whole reputation!

2. Smile at everyone and try to remember names. You can hear smiles in a voice, and you want to win them over to you and your cause, not isolate yourself. A show host may begin by talking about someone he or she works with, and knowing this  helps to orient you into this world where everyone is important, not just the radio host;

3. Facts tend to sober up the emotions.  Learn something to fulfill the value of your pexels-photo-355988.jpegtime slot. If you really, really don’t know, then do your research! During your interview, read your polished-up cues taken from factual notes from your research. No-one expects you to wing it all. And, even if you side with the minority, your opinion on the facts will draw interest and controversy. So, bring to the table your own polished hook on a given topic.

In my first stressful years of learning to publish and market authors, when I spoke of my professional struggles and self-doubt to my own authors, they offered some facts they had encountered personally to allay my fears. They told me why they found my services valuable. One of them repeatedly told me that Capture Books filled the niche between self-publishing and traditional publishing. One of them insisted that we charge her more money for our services because she wanted Capture Books to be around in the future! Understanding these facts offered by the primary source – from the authors I served – tossed my emotional devaluation and angst over the cliff into oblivion.

When I mentioned what our hybrid publishing company was doing to my first radio host, this proved to be the angle that excited him to book our authors!

Bringing facts to bolster your media interview includes quoting

  • something from the news, or
  • from classic history, or
  • something literary;

4. Turn your attention away from yourself by being genuinely interested in the person you are reaching out to, whether it is the DJ or pexels-photo-270288.jpegthe audience behind the wheel of the car.  Don’t worry about what you are going to say or when to say it. The radio host, DJ, podcast host or television host will introduce the questions he or she has prepared for you in its proper time. Prompting you at the right time is their job;

5. Use questions if you feel yourself lecturing or “promoting”.  Asking one or two conversational questions, on topic, stops your run-on monologue in the moment, breaks down the doldrums of saying the same thing repeatedly, and creates a new personal application or thought process in the mind of the listener that grabs attention;

I was in a presentation by a television host who said that she had never been asked a question by someone she was interviewing before.  One day, someone asked a question that rocked her world. She became a different person because of it.

6. Simply start a story.  There is an inner child in everyone who loves a good story or a good joke.  Have one prepared for each segment;child-childrens-baby-children-s.jpg

7. Gipper says, “Even if you are not yet brimming with confidence, simply holding your body in a strong position will give others the impression that you are confident about yourself, and they will treat you as such.” (SoSuave)

TIP B:

Shift from “My Presentation isn’t Ready/Perfect” to “It is Good Enough”

If you’ve ever caught yourself saying: “It’s not ready” or “‘I’m not sure it’s what they want” — this tip is for you, reports Jeanine Blackwell (Create6FigureCourses).

Jeanine says, “the truth is: we NEVER arrive at perfect. We never know for sure that this is THE thing they want.

“And the challenge is, if ‘perfect’ is the bar, we’re pretty much guaranteeing that we are going to be stuck in the process of creating, refining, and switching gears forever rather than getting our work out into the world.

“One of the most important mindset shifts we can make as entrepreneurs is to switch from ‘it has to be perfect’ to ‘this is good enough’.”

I found this to be true regarding our musical presentations. We had to move forward with our commitments in faith. Cancelling would have ruined our reputation. When we did our best, people always responded and the music books sold well.

It’s easy to underestimate the superpower of the hybrid business’ competitive edge. Hybrid authors can add on something really fast if there’s something we have to fix, even if it has to be tackled together.  We can respond quickly if there is a gap between what we see ourselves delivering and what the audience wants. It’s easy to think because we aren’t big, we don’t have enough resources. It’s actually the opposite.

Here’s the mindset move:

  • Get your work in front of your customers as quickly as you can.

It is a mistake to try to psyche yourself into confidence.  True confidence is built through action. To engage action, use

  • courage to pursue and test. Then,
  • pursue, accepting the high grades and low as any good student does,
  • pursue, and become the expert presenter you always wanted to be.

Leave your dreams in the dust. Instead, follow through with every opportunity to become real.

Go Brave!

A Golden Hearts Club for Authors

Sometimes New Authors Feel like Solopreneurs.

You begin publishing, then you learn that maybe you would sell more and gain a wider audience to blog aspects of your book, your opinion pieces, or other parts of your know-how in order to build an audience.

That being said, you decide to find new reviewers to build credentials. Then, you write a sequel.  You seem so busy, but has all this business built you a better microphone? You may be learning many valuable aspects of marketing and publicity, but what are you lacking?

Answer: You need to begin to market your expertise through other channels and platforms.  You need to be the self-starter in asking for this fun new relay to begin transmitting shared signals.pexels-photo-68086.jpeg

Why?

  • Because other people have their own following and are willing to give you access to them in exchange for something they may be interested in.
  • Because no matter how proudly you have embraced your author title, others may have never heard of your book, or your expertise, or the one thing you can offer their clients that they cannot.
  • Because there comes a time when you absolutely must reach out for help. And for savvy business owners, that help often comes in the form of Joint Venture partners.

Also called affiliates, JV partners act as your own private sales army, spreading the word about your products and services to a whole new audience—theirs. Not only do you reach people who might otherwise never encounter you, but you also benefit mightily from your JV partners’ existing relationships. By promoting you, an affiliate is endorsing you to her audience. She’s saying, “I know this seller; I trust her, and you should, too.”28423608_10215713252292125_7059743526985625089_o.jpg

Capture Books did this with Colorado Lark & Lavender Farm for their authors’ Mystery Box promo.

Three Unusual Places to Find JV Partners

Even with all those many benefits, coaches, authors, speakers, and by-product sellers sometimes struggle to find great partners. Sure, lots of people will register for your affiliate program, but the Pareto Principle is alive and well when it comes to JV partners: 20% of your affiliates will do 80% of the work you may ask them to do. That means your goal is to recruit higher performing, loyal, or more experienced partners.

The only question is, where do you find these great partners?

A. Pick the Brain of your Virtual Assistant

Chances are good that your Virtual Assistant, whom you might find here, works for other business owners in similar niches. If you’re a business coach, your virtual assistant very likely works with several other coaches or other business partners, and of course, he or she’s in a position to know…

  • Where the clients are in the business development cycle (ideally you want established partners, not newbies);
  • The audience demographics of his or her own clientele (Are they a good fit for you?);
  • The other business coaches’ willingness to promote (some people simply don’t do JV partnership, so it’s a waste of time to approach them);

B. Look to Your Best Clients

Especially if you’re a business coach, your clients might just be your biggest fans—and they’re in a position to recommend you to friends, family, social connections, and elsewhere.

If you are a spiritual guide, teacher, or coach, you might ask your followers to give you one firm lead to a new audience.  Often they will think up two or three leads, happily. When your approach the new leads, what is especially wonderful about this process is that you can say that “so-n-so just recommended that I reach out to you for an event you may be organizing…”  There!  Your #1 problem is solved.  For this name is your opening hook.  If so-n-so has recommended you, then for your recipient to see that familiar name in the first line of an e-mail, or hear that name in the first line of a phone message,  the potential lead will want to at least hear you out. Be sure your clients all know that you:

  1. offer a referral/affiliate program,
  2. how to sign up, and
  3. what the benefits are.

Right now, if you haven’t done this already, draft up your personal referral/affiliate program through your blog, through social media or through an email blast, a “just hit reply and I’ll send you the benefits of referring me” e-mail.  Imagine if you figured this program out on all three list platforms!


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Never be disappointed with just one referral. This may be all you can handle at first.  Do the one referral justice, and you will gain many more.  Reputation spreads love, and love spreads reputation.


Right now, if you haven’t before, contact your fellow authors and ask them about being guest speakers or guest bloggers, or reviewing your book.  Offer a valuable lead to them or ask what is a need you may be able to help them fulfill.

C. Your Competitors

It’s true—your competitors might just be your biggest affiliates, if you give them a chance.

When you partner with a competitor, you learn many things.

Competition in circles is the best way for each business to attract its most interested followers. Have you ever noticed that where you see a Home Depot you see a Lowes? Where you see one retail outlet, you see a host of them knitted together in a mall?

In some circles (such as business and relationship coaching) clients tend to “graduate” from one coach and move to another. This is normal and to be expected. And when you’re on good terms with your competitors, the coach their ex-clients move to might just be you.

Don’t be afraid to look in unusual places for your next Joint Venture partner. You really never know who can connect you with potential clients and partners. Think big. Big hearted.  A Golden Hearts Club.

Think about all your relationships—from your team to your social circles to your competitors and colleagues—and consider all of their relationships and how far that might stretch.

Then pick up the phone or draft an email and start leveraging your contacts!

 

What’s a Great Headline for a Creative’s Anniversary?

I didn’t realize. It had actually been two years already. What? Wow. That’s been a bit of a roller coaster, to say the least.

(Is this post public? Eh-hem.)

Nevertheless, I’m excited to discover that – well, yes – I have indeed written a book. The “Shivoo!” may as well commemorate and celebrate the culmination of these first years of managing a publishing company for Christian creatives. Welcome to the Shivoo! it’s called. Subtitled, Creatives Mimicking the Creator, and it is coming out next month. $0.99 pre-orders are taken by Amazon on Kindle.

WHY DO CREATIVE CHRISTIANS STRUGGLE TO FIND BELONGING?

The human impulse to create is a reflection of the Creator’s image shaped inside of us. So, why does a sense of value seem so elusive? Maybe it’s because creatives don’t quite understand our origin. Continue reading “What’s a Great Headline for a Creative’s Anniversary?”

Response to Publisher’s Weekly News

This is good news from PW, At IBPA Meeting, A Push for Parity, from the hybrid publisher’s viewpoint.

I work for https://www.CaptureMeBooks.com (doing marketing for several authors) but the biggest problem is POD. Barnes & Noble clerks tell customers that it is the publisher’s fault that they do not shelve our authors’ books, but I know that we distribute through Baker & Taylor, so the real problem is that the brick n mortar stores do not want to cut their 55% profit or pay for POD prices any more than the authors and hybrid publishers do. They have rookie authors over a barrel. When an author or small publisher must pay for all the print and shipping, handling (%43.5 value) and brick n mortar distribution cut (55% value) plus the marketing of each book purchased in the shade of traditional platform publishing models, – and then not get paid royalties for 90 days to a year,- the investment outlay is akin to financing a car or new home! Return is under $2 per book. To new authors, it can feel like an exercise in hubris to consider the costs together with those risks. When our books can only be found on Amazon or Nook, (here’s one below), authors should only be required to pay the online standard split of 30% since that is the distribution reality/risk brick n mortar stores are presently taking. http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/mister-b-a-l-byk/1123105411…

I also appreciated Christian Smyth’s opinion and will be utilizing the branding techniques found here (Three Tips on How Publishers Can Brand Authors in Our Media-Saturated Times) for the distribution of promotional materials with A.R.C.s  on Soothing Rain, which is a new group study for lively women by authors, Tonya Jewel Blessing and Sue Summers.

Plunge Ahead!