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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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

Do you need an author assistant?

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Many authors, especially self-published authors, are hiring author assistants to help manage the business end of their publishing business.  If you aren’t sure  whether or not you need an assistant, try one of these assessments.

Track your time for two or three days.

Determine how much time you spend on every single task. Be honest and be accurate. A summary that reveals you frequently interrupt your writing to check Facebook may indicate a need to either organize, limit or delegate your social media activity. You may also be surprised to see how many non-writing tasks you handle on a daily basis. Using an Excel spreadsheet or Word document table is a simple way to organize this information.

Professional self-assessment.

Answer these questions. The responses may indicate areas where you need help.

  • Are you meeting your writing goals and deadlines?
  • Is your social media regularly updated?
  • Do you avoid tasks because you dislike and/or lack the ability to perform them?
  • Are you losing writing time to repetitive, basic tasks?
  • Do you procrastinate to avoid certain tasks?
  • Is your creativity and/or productivity suffering because you feel overwhelmed?
  • Do you feel like you are working harder than ever but not making progress?
  • Are you losing writing time trying to figure out how to perform certain tasks?
  • Do you want to expand your career and/or grow your readership?
  • Are you turning down opportunities because you’re too busy?
  • Do you need better work/life balance?
  • Are you disorganized and unproductive?
  • Are your personal work relationships suffering (i.e. working with spouse, friend, family member)?
  • Have you taken a vacation (a real vacation) in the last three years?

While there are many reasons to hire an assistant, there are also indicators that now might not be the right time to recruit assistance.

  • Are you fully committed to a publishing career?
  • Do you have clearly defined career and production goals?
  • Can you afford to hire a qualified, experienced, knowledgeable author assistant?
  • Do you know where you need help?
  • Are you prepared to invest the time, energy and effort required into building a partnership with an assistant?

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: Storytelling with photographs

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imagesJust 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 images that reflect a mood or emotion.

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Contemporary romance author Chris Keniston (R) at a costume-party reader event.

2. Compose photographs with contrasting, surprising or unexpected elements.

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A romance author in a military hangar? Heather Ashby makes it work.

3. Focus on unusual details or perspectives.

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This reluctant reader was still willing to promo Jacki Delecki, one of her favorite romantic suspense authors.

4. Aim for spontaneous vs. staged.

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Cover model Vikkas Bhardwaj sends a personal message to a fan.

5. Develop photographic themes related to your branding.

Madeline Martin Wineglasses

Historical romance author Madeline Martin often pairs wine and romance on her social media.

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: Marketing inspired by National Readathon Day

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Just Five Things, a list of simple actions that can enhance your publishing career. One tip five-706893_960_720for each day of the week related to every aspect of publishing from time management to marketing to writing.

Saturday, May 21, 2016, is the second annual National Readathon Day, sponsored by Penguin Random House and the American Library Association. This is an awesome marketing opportunity for authors. Read on for tips.

Readathon2016

1.   Host a reading party for your review crew or street team. Send “invitations,” create graphics for your blog or social media channels, develop content to foster engagement such as questions related to reading, inviting recommendations, etc.

2.  Donate 5, 10 or 50 copies of your book (digital is easiest and least expensive) to new readers so they can participate in your sponsored Readathon event.

3.  Share information about National Readathon Day in your newsletter or on your blog. FAQs are available on the Readathon Day website.

4.  Invite readers, fans, friends and fellow authors to donate to #Readathon2016. The American Library Association uses funds for its Every Child Ready to Read program. Match donations (up to a set amount) to encourage generous giving.

5. Get pictures of National Readathon Day activities to post on social media. Photo themes: great places to curl up with a book, people reading your book, favorite snacks when reading, pair wine and books, favorite opening line or pets and books.

Reminder: Tag your marketing messages with the official event hashtag: #Readathon2016

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: Book cover graphics for promo applications

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Blank CoverJust 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. Ask your cover designer to provide files (usually a png or jpg) for the book’s stylized title and your name. Make sure they are on a transparent background. You can overlay these on ads, teasers, etc.

2. Resize your book cover jpg so you can provide the correct size for ads or promotions. Commonly used dimensions are 200×300, 600×900 and 1400×2100.

3. Ask your cover designer to provide a 2-D (flat) version and a 3-D version of your book cover. Each has different uses.

4. Ask your cover designer to provide a high-resolution jpg of your book cover without the text (title, author name, cover quotes). You can use the image or parts of the image to create backgrounds for teasers, social media banners, etc.

5. Make sure you know the name of the font used for your book cover text elements. You may want to use the same font when creating promotional graphics.

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: Creating blog content

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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.   Curate content.

2.  Invite guests to write a blog or contribute content.

3.  Develop regular features such as What I’m Reading, Five Favorite Things, Friday  Freebies, etc.

4.  Identify a common problem for your readers and offer a solution.

5.  Comment on a recent article (be sure to link to the article and cite the source) or topic.

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.