Just Five Things: Characteristics of credible, effective publishing industry influencers

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five-706893_960_720Just Five Things, a list of simple actions that can enhance your publishing career. One tip for each day of the week related to every aspect of publishing from time management to marketing to writing.

Influencers – Individuals who have the power to affect purchase decisions of others because of their (real or perceived) authority, knowledge, position, or relationship. (Definition per Business Dictionary)

1. They are actively engaged on social media (consistently post content and have a high level of interaction with their audience).

2. They are widely recognized within the publishing community as an expert or authority.

3. They have a genuine passion for books, publishing, reading and authors.

4. Their audience has an authentic interest in you and your product (books).

5. They support positive experiences and authentic relationships, meaning they are respectful, professional, reliable and honest.

See you next week for another list of Just Five Things.

If you have a tip to share or need help with a challenge, email me at myauthorconcierge@gmail.com.

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Just Five Things: Conference Etiquette

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number-5Just Five Things, a list of simple actions that can enhance your publishing career. One tip for each day of the week related to every aspect of publishing from time management to marketing to writing.

1. Networking is an important part of attending conferences but not always an easy or comfortable process. Show an interest in other people by listening and asking questions. Reciprocate the courtesy – if someone shows interest in you, return the favor.

2. Do not occupy multiple seats, especially in crowded workshops/presentations. Store your stuff under your chair, not on the one next to you.

3. Do not stalk or monopolize the time/attention of agents, editors, publishers, speakers, etc.

4. Do not share photos of other individuals on social media without asking permission. Do not post compromising or unflattering content of others on social media.

5. Be quiet. Silence your cell and avoid distracting extraneous conversation during presentations.

These tips are based on the article Conference Etiquette a la Rob Lowe.

See you next week for another list of Just Five Things.

If you have a tip to share or need help with a challenge, email me at myauthorconcierge@gmail.com.

Just Five Things: How to network with publishing professionals

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5Just Five Things, a list of simple actions that can enhance your publishing career. One tip for each day of the week related to every aspect of publishing from time management to marketing to writing.

1.  Networking is about building authentic professional relationships so be prepared to offer solutions and benefits to others. “True networking occurs when there’s an understanding that everyone in the room has equal value. In its purest form, it’s about people enjoying other people, communicating passions and connecting with others who share those passions.” — Andrew Vest, How to Network the Right Way: Eight Tips

2.  Practice your networking skills prior to formal events. Read How to Network: 12 Tips for Shy People by Meridith Levinson, who offers these practical suggestions: Smile. Ask a question. Listen.

Bonus tip: Memorize 3-5 icebreakers to start conversations with strangers. Here are a few suggestions.

Hi, my name is ____.
What’s been your favorite workshop so far?
Tell me about yourself.
What do you write?
What are you currently working on?
What are you most looking forward to during this event?
Do you have any tips or suggestions for a first timer?
How did you get started in publishing?
I’m a fan of your books/company/work.
What advice would you give someone just starting out in publishing?
Who are you here to meet?
Who do you know here?

3.  Be prepared to share information. Have business cards and/or bookmarks/postcards. Refine your “elevator pitch” about your book(s) and about your author brand/career.

4.  Many networking events include social activities, but remember these are professional settings. Do not reveal inappropriate personal information, do not drink to excess, do not overstep personal boundaries.

5.  Sometimes interacting with “important people” is intimidating, but don’t let this cause you to miss valuable opportunities to connect. In 3 Tips for Making Conversation with Really, Really Important People, Lily Herman suggests treating them like real people, finding personal connections to springboard conversation (“I see you like cats. I have a Siamese named Oscar.”), and making sure to follow up.

See you next week for another list of Just Five Things.

If you have a tip to share or need help with a challenge, email me at myauthorconcierge@gmail.com.

Just Five Things: Conference ‘thrive & survive’ tips

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5Just Five Things, a list of simple actions that can enhance your publishing career. One tip for each day of the week related to every aspect of publishing from time management to marketing to writing.

1. Pack a wardrobe with these key considerations: comfort, (business) casual, cross-purpose-able, low maintenance, flexible. Pick one or two basic colors to more easily coordinate shoes and accessories. Include options for dressy occasions and downtime.

2. Pace yourself. Get sufficient sleep. Stay hydrated. Don’t overindulge (food and alcohol).

3. Set realistic expectations. Acknowledge that you won’t be able to attend every workshop, event, gathering, party, etc. Don’t expect your dream editor to offer you a six-book contract. Identify 3-5 practical outcomes, such as meeting 10 new people, learning more about a certain topic, identifying potential cross-promotional partners, etc.

4. Familiarize yourself with the conference/event before you arrive. Where are meeting rooms located? What is the schedule of events? Who are the presenters/attendees? Are there any special requirements or considerations?

5. Prepare to have fun. Many people attend conferences completely focused on business, which can create an intense, intimidating aura. Going into the event with a positive, cheerful, upbeat attitude makes you approachable, personable and appealing.

See you next week for another list of Just Five Things.

If you have a tip to share or need help with a challenge, email me at myauthorconcierge@gmail.com.

Are you reluctant to hire an author assistant?

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The two most common excuses given by authors as to why they do not hire an assistant is expense (“I can’t afford an assistant”) and not knowing what tasks to delegate. The third most common excuse is lack of entitlement (“I’m not published yet” or “I only have a few books out”).

Other reasons authors may be reluctant to hire an assistant include concerns about reliability and confidentiality, past negative experiences and the potential for mistakes that could damage income/reputation. They may also lack management or business experience and be uncomfortable in a supervisory role.

Let’s address the three most common reasons authors are reluctant to hire an assistant.

I can’t afford an assistant.

Publishing high-quality books that will sell and attract readers costs money. As you develop your business plan and budget, consider building in funds for an author assistant. Some assistants are willing to accept project work (such as putting out a monthly newsletter), will work with you on an as-needed basis, allow you to commit to just a couple of hours per month or offer discounts if you purchase blocks of time.

Here’s an interesting fact: Many assistants offer a wide variety of skills such as proofreading, ebook formatting, website maintenance and graphic design. While prices for these services vary, you could save money by hiring a (qualified) assistant instead of a cover artist or website developer.

For new authors, especially, working with an experienced assistant can save you costly mistakes and prevent embarrassing actions that reflect poorly on your professionalism. If you are new to publishing, consider hiring an assistant to mentor or coach you. Some assistants offer consulting services, which provide authors with resources and how-to knowledge.

I’m not published yet/only have a few books out.

The most effective strategy for establishing your author career is to write more books. Both traditionally and self-published authors hold accountability for non-writing related tasks, such as accounting, marketing, advertising and engaging with readers. While full-time writers have 40-60 hours per week to dedicated to all career-related tasks, many authors work full or part-time “day jobs.” Add in family obligations, health issues, commute time, college classes, travel, etc., and you see how the time available to actually write quickly dwindles.

Delegating one or two labor-intensive, non-writing tasks to an assistant can free up more time to write. More writing equals more books. More books equal more sales. The key to making this type of investment pay-off is to carefully evaluate how much time you are applying to non-writing related tasks and what tasks you can afford to hire out. Using the 80/20 rule is one method to identify decisions that will lead to more effective management of your resources: time, energy, creativity, and money. According to this adage, 20 percent of your activities generate 80 percent of your income. They key is to minimize how much time you spend on activities that don’t generate income and focus instead where the pay-off is greatest.

I don’t know what to do with an assistant.

Many authors, particularly self-published authors, are control freaks and perfectionists. That’s one reason many choose to self-publish in the first place. However, these traits can inhibit your career growth and undermine goal achievement. The reluctance to delegate tasks to an assistant is often rooted in fear, distrust and uncertainty. Will the assistant perform the task correctly? Will the assistant meet deadlines? Is the assistant really as skilled as s/he claims?

There are strategies to overcome these concerns (see the section Getting Started with an Author Assistant), but the first step in overcoming this objection is educating yourself about author assistants. Learn how other authors and assistants work together. Ask what kinds of tasks your peers delegate to their support staff. Attend workshops given by author assistants to become acquainted with the attitude, personality and conduct of these professionals. Lastly, realize that developing an working partnership with an assistant is just like any other relationship; it takes time to build trust, rapport and empathy.

Do you have questions about working with an author assistant? Contact My Author Concierge for information, tips and advice.

thinpaperback_795x1003This content is excerpted from DO LESS. WRITE MORE.: The Author’s Guide to Finding, Hiring and Keeping an Excellent Author Assistant.Copies are available from most online vendors:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1INjCRv
BN: http://bit.ly/1LnQlsl
iBooks: http://apple.co/1NjbtmE
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1VVvT79

Just Five Things: Nurture your creativity

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5Just Five Things, a list of simple actions that can enhance your publishing career. One tip for each day of the week related to every aspect of publishing from time management to marketing to writing.

1.  Before making any decision, spend 3-5 minutes brainstorming.

2.  Infuse your physical environment with creative elements – music, photos, inspirational sayings, toys, candles, colored pens, etc.

3.  Tap into collective brainpower for new ideas – exchange ideas with a critique group or writing partner.

4.  Observe your surroundings and pay close attention to what you see and hear. These observations can provide inspiration for new ideas.

5.  Change things up. If you normally work on a laptop at home, write longhand at a coffee shop. If you usually plot your story, try free writing or pantsing. If you write linearly, start by writing the ending first.

See you next week for another list of Just Five Things.

If you have a tip to share or need help with a challenge, email me at myauthorconcierge@gmail.com.

Just Five Things: Cross-promotion strategies for authors

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5 1Just Five Things, a list of simple actions that can enhance your publishing career. One tip for each day of the week related to every aspect of publishing from time management to marketing to writing.

1.   Look for cross-promotional partners who bring different resources, talents or strengths to the group.

2.  Consider cross-promoting with groups, organizations or individuals who offer services or products that compliment your books.

3.  Create a group campaign or project and coordinate promotion across each partners’ social media, mailing lists, etc.

4.  Promote your partners in your books’ back matter, on your blog, on your social media or in your newsletter.

5.  Invest time and energy in building positive, reliable cross-promotional partnerships. Identify author who write in a similar genre or have a similar readership; engage and support their marketing efforts, reciprocate when they support you; be professional but require accountability and participation.

See you next week for another list of Just Five Things.

If you have a tip to share or need help with a challenge, email me at myauthorconcierge@gmail.com.