Author Archives: Kim Staflund

About Kim Staflund

As a book publisher, Kim Staflund works with businesses and individuals around the world to produce superior quality ebooks, paperbacks, and hardcovers. As the founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG), she has extensive experience with the traditional (trade), vanity, and supported self-publishing business models as both a service provider and an author. Kim built her company from the perspective of the author—taking the best practices from each business model to create a company
that puts its authors first, while ensuring a professional, saleable result.

Think of PPG as a skilled project manager for self-publishing authors.
Using the supported self-publishing business model, the company assists authors in producing truly professional books by guiding them through the entire process from conception to publication. PPG helps both individuals and businesses to publish quality books and provides them with online distribution opportunities throughout the world.

In addition to her writing and book publishing background, Kim has a
substantial sales and sales management history that includes new business development, both inside and outside account management of all types and sizes of companies, and personnel management and leadership experience within unionized and non-unionized environments. Add her firsthand knowledge of records management, process management, and project management into the mix and you have everything that is required in a professional book publisher to help authors everywhere succeed.

Kim’s number one priority in each of these roles has always been, and will always be, to earn (and keep) the trust of each of her clients by providing honest, ethical, and thoughtful customer service that meets or exceeds their expectations.

Marketing: 10 Tips to Make It Work for You, Part Two

Marnie Lamb

 6. Go on NetGalley: Dock your boat at a big, densely populated island where the inhabitants know you’re coming and at least some of them want to meet you. NetGalley is an online service that connects book reviewers—including bloggers, members of the media, booksellers, and librarians—with authors and publishers seeking to promote their books. As an author, you sign up to have your book listed on NetGalley for a specific term. During that term, book reviewers can request a digital copy for review. Sounds fabulous, right? It is, but for authors, NetGalley comes with a few caveats.

The first is the cost. While NetGalley is free for those seeking to review books, those wishing to have books reviewed must pay a fee for their listing. The cost for an individual author to list a single book for six months is approximately US$450 (C$571), a heavy duty to pay for landing on NetGalley Island (https://netgalley.uservoice.com/knowledgebase/articles/105722-do-you-work-with-individual-authors-). Fortunately, you can join a co-op, which allows you to purchase a listing at a reduced price. Through Xpresso Book Tours, the company who arranged a blog tour for my book, I bought a three-month listing for only US$180 (C$228).

Deciding who should review your book is another challenge. NetGalley has over 175,000 registered reviewers (http://xpressobooktours.com/xpresso-book-tours-netgalley-co-op/). While no book will interest all reviewers, you may be in the lucky position of receiving hundreds or even thousands of review requests. However, as Xpresso cautions on its website, a small percentage of the reviewers on NetGalley are simply looking for free books. You want to promote your book, but you don’t want to be taken advantage of. How do you know which reviewers to trust? Although you can’t be certain of the answer, you can try to weed out the inhabitants who are simply going to grab a copy of your book, run off to the other side of the island, and never be heard from again. Set parameters for who reviews the book. For example, you could stipulate that reviewers must have a social media following of at least 500, and or that they must have posted a review on NetGalley within the last six months. As part of its NetGalley service, Xpresso undertook this weeding process for me. My contact at Xpresso, Giselle Cormier, asked whether I wanted to stipulate any other parameters as to who could review my book (such as the ones I’ve suggested above). As a first-time novelist, I decided that I would welcome everyone who wanted to read my book, so I didn’t include any additional restrictions. I’m glad, though, that I had Xpresso protecting my interests by choosing who would and wouldn’t receive a copy of my book.

Finally, as with all marketing, be careful what you wish for with NetGalley. During the three months that The History of Hilary Hambrushina was listed, it received numerous review requests, which resulted in reviews being posted on Goodreads, Amazon, and elsewhere. Having cleared the hurdle of finding reviewers, I now had to worry about their response to my book. While my book earned some heartwarming praise, it also gathered its share of criticism, some of it snarky. Yes, some island inhabitants are going to roll their eyes at your art, and you are powerless to stop them. Instead, be grateful that your book has garnered interest, and at the risk of sounding a bit slimy, try to make peace with the old adage about all publicity being good publicity. Point nine offers a more in-depth discussion about dealing with negative reviews.

 7. Be careful how you set up giveaways: As you’re rowing around the ocean, you may wish to toss a few freebies to the island inhabitants. Keeping the prizes small and light will ensure that you’re not weighed down or distracted from all your other marketing duties. I found this advice in several articles about giveaways, but I didn’t always follow it. So I think it bears repeating here.

I’ve run several giveaways (contests) in connection with my book promotion: two on individual blogs, one through my blog tour with Xpresso, and one on Goodreads. The first guideline of giveaways is to resist the temptation to offer your book as the prize. Otherwise, you’re taking away potential sales. After all, if people think they can get something free, they won’t buy it. On Goodreads, you can offer only books for giveaways, but blogs and blog tours provide the chance for different prizes. On the two individual blogs, I did offer my book as a prize, and in one case, I offered two different rewards: one print book and one ebook. Giving out two different prizes can be confusing, though, because winners may think that they have a choice of prize and they may both want the same one. So if you have multiple prizes, simplify the process by offering two of the same prize.

For one of my blog giveaways, I offered a $10 charitable donation to a charity of the winner’s choice, in addition to a copy of my book. I felt that this was a unique prize in keeping with both my life philosophy and the themes in my book. The prize did involve a bit of legwork in terms of setting up an account with the charities, but I’m happy to have been able to use my success to give back a little. Depending on your values and budget, you may wish to incorporate a charitable element into your giveaways. Overall, though, I strongly suggest keeping your prizes as simple as possible.

What prize is both simple for the donor and enticing to the recipient? You can’t go wrong with an Amazon gift card. Gift cards may seem unoriginal, but they give the winner a choice in what he or she wants to buy. When I was first looking into gift cards as prizes, I began considering other popular stores and places that tied into some of the themes and characters in The History of Hilary Hambrushina, such as The Body Shop, Lush, and Cineplex Odeon. But that just raised more questions. In which countries do these stores operate? Are the cards transferable between countries? Will readers even want one of these cards? A certificate to an online retailer, which can be easily accessed in any country, is more straightforward. And anyone who’s visiting a book blog clearly likes books, so why try to guess what else the person might like?

I think I was trying to be as innovative with my giveaways as I am with my writing. Setting up a giveaway is not an exercise in creative writing, however. By the time of my book tour, I’d learned from my earlier missteps, and as the end-of-tour prize, I chose a US$50 gift certificate to Amazon, which proved popular with blog readers. So don’t get too fancy with your prizes. You have enough other marketing tasks without trying to complicate this one.

 8. Take advantage of small promotional chances: In the midst of all the large promotional opportunities—going on a blog tour (see point five), getting your book into bookstores, and running a giveaway on Goodreads—it’s easy to overlook more modest marketing venues. But islets have fruit-bearing plants, too.

For me, the best smaller promotional opportunities came with marketing my book to colleagues. As an editor, I’m blessed to be part of a profession filled with people who love to read. Editors Canada (the national association for editors) provided me with several chances to tell other editors about The History of Hilary Hambrushina. The first came in the monthly e-news update, which contains a section for members’ news. I typed a short description of my book and sent it in. The blurb ran in the next update, which was distributed to 1300 editors nationwide.

Sometimes, a chance to market your book can be the fringe benefit of another opportunity. Three months after my blurb ran in the Editors Canada e-news update, I was featured on the Editors Toronto blog in its series Editor for Life. Although the article’s purpose was to profile my career as an editor, I piggybacked on the publicity by mentioning my book and including a link to my publisher’s website. Similarly, at a recent Editors Toronto monthly meeting, I spoke on a panel about branding for editors. Again, the panel’s purpose had nothing to do with YA novels or marketing fiction, but I made sure to mention my book in the biography the host read before I began speaking.

Have these promotional gambits resulted in many sales? I don’t know yet, but these marketing tasks involved little time and no money, so choosing to pursue them was a no-brainer. I know I made at least one sale through the blurb in the e-news update: The membership coordinator, to whom I’d sent my announcement, emailed me a week and a half later to say that she’d purchased my book and really enjoyed it. As with any marketing task, you need to ask whether smaller opportunities are worth your effort and money. But if they are simple and free, go for them. After all, no sales can be generated from people who don’t know about your book.

 9. Manage your emotions: During your journey, you will sometimes be riding high, hair billowing behind you, lungs breathing in the fresh sea air, as your boat crests the top of a wave and you survey all the islands you’ve conquered. The next minute, your boat will be pitched down into the roiling ocean and your body drenched in frigid water. As you emerge, gasping for breath, you’ll have salt up your nose, seaweed in your ears, and a bad case of the chills. The main cause of this cresting and pitching? Reviews. As a friend sagely warned me just weeks before my book went on NetGalley, “Amazon is good, but Amazon is horrible.”

I remember confidently telling two people at a party a couple of weeks later that while I knew my book, like any other, would receive one- and two-star reviews, I simply wasn’t going to read those reviews. “Good for you,” my listeners responded. Yes, good for me, only my resolve was about as adhesive as glue from the Trudeau era—Pierre, not Justin. The first review I came across had rated my book two out of five stars. Unable to stop myself, I clicked on the review, read the criticism, and immediately felt a six-inch-square knot crystallize in my chest. I read the first dozen reviews of my book—including, I’m happy to say, several four- and five-star reviews. Still, I had trouble sleeping for several nights, haunted by the snippy comments in some of the negative reviews. Soon, though, after I’d had my fill of masochism, I found the Justin-era glue, slathered it on my resolve, and stopped reading reviews that were fewer than three stars, a resolution I’ve stuck to.

If your willpower is stronger than mine and you can avoid reading negative reviews from the start, kudos! I don’t believe that anything positive can come of reading bad reviews, so if you can crush your curiosity immediately, you’ll be in a better emotional state than I was. Realistically, though, I suspect that many writers, particularly first-time novelists, will find it impossible not to unstop their ears for at least a moment as they row past that island of hecklers. And that’s OK. Indulging your curiosity about bad reviews is a part, albeit a painful one, of the writing journey. However, if you’re finding that you’ve been sucked in to landing on Heckler Island and you simply cannot move your feet to get back in the boat and row away, put out an SOS call to a loved one to rescue you.

Share your heartache with compassionate, supportive people who are good listeners, people who will let you rant without shelling out that useless advice, “Don’t worry.” It’s easy for people who haven’t had to endure public (or even private) critiquing of their art to tell you not to worry, but many writers are sensitive souls who are natural worriers. With apologies to Geico, if you’re a worrier, you worry. It’s what you do. You can’t will yourself to stop worrying. You will be anxious about bad reviews. How you handle that anxiety, however, is key.

Aside from connecting with supporters and trying to avoid reading bad reviews, you can use several techniques to deal with negative publicity. You can try rationalizing it by telling yourself the following: “One review is just one person’s opinion” and “If that reviewer didn’t connect with my book, that’s unfortunate, but I can’t expect that everyone will like it.” Personally, though, I don’t find rationalizing a very effective technique, at least not at the start of the process of recovering from heartache. When I feel badly, I need to feel well, not think well. So if you’re like me, prioritize positive feeling over positive thinking. I keep a separate file folder on my computer containing some of the four- and five-star reviews given to The History of Hilary Hambrushina. When I’m feeling down about marketing, I read these reviews to remind myself that regardless of what else does or doesn’t happen with my book, it has touched the hearts of strangers tens of thousands of kilometres away. That in turn touches my heart. Rewarding yourself also induces positive feelings. After reading those first dozen reviews, I bought several bags of tea, not of all which I needed. But the luscious lemon liquid and calming camomile concoction revived and soothed my body, mind, and heart.

Most importantly, regardless of how you’re feeling about your marketing, take breaks from both it and your book. Making a small excursion on the ocean before returning to the mainland to rest and refuel before heading out again is more than fine; it’s necessary. As difficult as it is to remember, you are not your book. For your own emotional and mental health, you need to separate the two.

 10. Define the extent of your marketing: Decide when you’ll return to the mainland. One of the best parts of being published with a company that doesn’t provide marketing is that you control your book’s promotion. Yes, the responsibility of creating and implementing the marketing plan falls solely on you. But so do all the decisions about where—and how far—you want to take your marketing.

I offer this advice with some trepidation because I don’t want to appear to be contradicting everything I’ve said thus far. So don’t think of this advice as telling you that the marketing route you’ve taken has been incorrect and you need to row your boat back to the dock from which you departed. Rather, see it as plucking you out of your boat, suspending you several hundred feet above the ocean, and giving you an aerial view of the path you’ve travelled and all the possible paths you could take.

When I began promoting my book in earnest this past spring, a well-meaning cheerleader urged me to “Reach for the moon. If you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” While I appreciated the sentiment, I dislike this expression for three reasons. First, it’s a cliché, often said without any deep thought about the particular situation in question. Second, it’s illogical. Think about it. The stars form about as solid an alliance as a sieve. They’re not necessarily going to catch you if you miss the moon. Who’s to say that in shooting for the moon, you won’t wind up flat on your back on the Prairies? Third, it’s harsh. It implies that any endeavour that doesn’t attain, or at least attempt to attain, a heavenly body is a failure. And that’s narrow thinking.

Let’s review. If you’re at the point where you’re marketing a book, you’ve already accomplished so much: creating the story and characters, writing the book, rewriting and editing it, finding a publisher, dealing with the lows and highs of rejection and acceptance, and maybe even running a crowdfunding campaign to cover the book’s publication costs. Those accomplishments comprise more than most hopeful writers will ever achieve. Yet, these achievements are often portrayed as not enough. What’s the motto of the biggest global competition, the Olympic Games? “Faster, higher, stronger.” You can always have more sales, more income, more accolades, more publicity, more glory.

When I first spread the news about the upcoming publication of The History of Hilary Hambrushina, several people made bold predictions: “Think of how much money you’ll make!” “You could be the next J.K. Rowling!” Fortunately, as someone who has worked in the publishing industry for over a decade, I have much more realistic expectations about where my book publication will likely lead. Furthermore, I have no interest in being the next anyone. I’m the first Marnie Lamb, and I’m proud of that.

However, some people will always tell you that you haven’t done enough. Ultimately, though, you need to take the marketing journey for yourself only. Marketing takes time, money, and mental stamina. Most of us have families and careers, from which we can be away for only so long before we begin to suffer in other ways. (Remember: You are not your book.) So one day, you may decide to dock your boat permanently and move on to other oceans and land masses. When that day comes, be proud of everything you’ve accomplished. Moving on is not the same as giving up.

Finally, rout out that festering weed of a word, “enough,” from your vocabulary. Your achievements aren’t impressive enough, inspiring enough, praiseworthy enough, or amazing enough. They are impressive, inspiring, praiseworthy, and amazing. Full stop. Don’t limit your accomplishments by qualifying them. Celebrate them in all their glory.

Happy marketing!

© Marnie Lamb

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Author Bio:  Marnie Lamb is a Gemini incarnate: half writer and half editor. She earned a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Windsor. Her short stories have appeared in Journey Prize Stories 25 and various Canadian literary journals, including filling Station, The Nashwaak Review, and The Dalhousie Review. Her first novel, a YA book named The History of Hilary Hambrushina, was published by Iguana Books this past spring. She pursues her other love, editing, as the owner of Ewe Editorial Services, which offers copy editing, indexing, permissions and photo research, and proofreading services to educational, scholarly, and trade publishers. When she is not writing or editing, she can be found cooking recipes with eggplant or scouting out fashions—preferably ones with polka-dots—at Toronto’s One of a Kind Show.

Marketing: 10 Tips to Make It Work for You, Part One

Marnie Lamb

This past spring, my first book, a young adult novel named The History of Hilary Hambrushina, was published by Iguana Books, a Toronto-based hybrid publisher. Hybrid publishers represent a third way, a cross between traditional and self-publishers. Like a traditional publisher, Iguana maintains high quality standards and will not publish manuscripts that do not meet those standards. Like a self-publisher, Iguana does not include free marketing in the services it provides for authors. Instead, authors are responsible for promoting their own books.

After having successfully raised money for my book’s publication costs through crowdfunding (see my earlier two-part article on crowdfunding), I turned my attention to marketing. I wasn’t a total greenhorn. I’d been running a freelance editing business for seven years, which necessitated some self-promotion. But for me, marketing was always the grimy other side of the coin to the polished artisanship of writing and editing. During my years in Ryerson University’s Publishing Program, I studiously avoided all the marketing and sales courses. I wanted to focus on the careful crafting of books, not on the dirty, cutthroat business of selling them.

But once my book was in the process of being published, I had to accept the grime and begin navigating the treacherous waters of selling. However, Iguana didn’t just toss me off the pier and walk away. My contact there suggested that we have a phone conversation with a colleague of hers who had marketing experience. In it, they sketched out a rough map of the marketing ocean, highlighting some of the islands at which I should stop. The planning of the route, the paddling, and the embarking and disembarking were all up to me, though.

The Internet offers a cornucopia of information about marketing for writers. Some fruits appear multiple times in the cornucopia. For example, many wonderful articles have been published about the importance of having an eye-catching, informative website and becoming social media savvy. In this article, I’ll focus on some of the smaller fruits that remain hidden in the middle or at the back of the horn of plenty, as well as on the arrangement of the fruits in the basket—that is, on marketing as a process.

Here are ten tips I’ve learned in my marketing journey with a hybrid publisher.

 1. Give yourself as much time as possible: If you’re being published by a company that doesn’t provide marketing services, chances are that the publisher is either a hybrid or self-publisher. Therefore, you probably have at least some sway over the publication date. You may be tempted to set the earliest possible date so that you can send your masterpiece out into the world immediately and begin bragging to everyone you know about your book’s being on Amazon. But doing so is rarely a wise marketing strategy, especially for an unknown author whose book doesn’t yet have any buzz surrounding it.

Marketing is multi-faceted. Not only are there many islands to explore, but these islands are all part of archipelagoes, and each island in the archipelago must be visited or at least considered for a visit. For example, when Iguana advised me to “go on Facebook,” I had many more tasks to complete than simply signing up for an account. In fact, before I even signed up, I needed to decide which type of page I wanted: business or personal. Then, I faced a multitude of decisions about my friending policy, my security settings, the tone of my posts, and the amount of control I wanted to grant to others (would they be allowed to initiate or only respond to posts on my wall?).

Every aspect of marketing is a journey in itself. So allowing yourself enough time to formulate and execute a marketing plan before publication is crucial. Six months is the average time that a writer must wait after publication before receiving the first royalties cheque. If you rush to publication and haven’t had time to spread the word about your book, you’re unlikely to garner many sales, which could mean a delay in receiving payment. You’ve already worked so hard to get your book published, so why not start earning money as soon after publication as you can?

Even more sobering is the possibility of your book going out of print after only a short time in print. Most publishers, including hybrid publishers, have a clause in their author contract stating that if sales fall below a certain threshold, the publisher will cease to print copies of the book. Garnering sales can be a slow process because you often have to try various marketing initiatives to see which ones are most fruitful for you. If you wait until after publication to begin marketing, you risk having very low sales over the first few months or even year, which could put further printing of your book in jeopardy. The few months before publication are a precious time to get a jump on your book promotion.

Start your marketing at least six months in advance. If that means postponing the publication date, do so. Production wise, my book was ready to be published at the end of February. But I wasn’t ready. Fortunately, in earlier consultation with the publisher, I had chosen May 31 as the publication date, which gave me an extra three months of marketing time. By the time that date arrived, I felt comfortable knowing that I had made a push to spread the word about The History of Hilary Hambrushina.

 2. Talk to someone before you start formulating your marketing plan: If you push your boat out before making a map, you’ll quickly become lost at sea. But even creating a map is tricky for a newbie cartographer. Speak with an experienced mapmaker who can give you an idea about how to chart your course. For me, this person was my Iguana contact’s colleague. If your publisher cannot provide any advice about marketing, seek that guidance elsewhere.

Chances are excellent that you know someone who knows someone with marketing experience. If you’ve successfully crowdfunded your book’s publication costs, the network you’ve built during your campaign will come in handy now. If you’re lucky, you may know someone who works in marketing or publicity. But people who have some background in promotion, even if they’re not marketers per se, may be helpful. Maybe the daughter of a friend took a marketing course in her publishing program and would be glad of the opportunity to hone her skills by assisting a newly published author. Or perhaps a colleague’s spouse had a book published and can offer his perspective. However, ensure that whoever you choose does have marketing experience, preferably with books. Many well-meaning people will give you ideas, solicited or not, for promoting your book. But when you’re beginning your marketing, you need to first talk to someone who’s been out on the ocean, however briefly.

If your circle of acquaintances doesn’t yield fruit or you want further advice, consider taking a seminar or reading a book. I picked up some good tips at a morning-long course from the Toronto-based Canadian Children’s Book Centre titled “The Business of Writing: Selling Your Books, Selling Yourself.” The newer and more convenient cousin of seminars, webinars, ensures that as long as you have Internet access, living outside a large metropolis is no barrier to availing yourself of educational opportunities. Shop around online and look for marketing courses aimed at writers and offered by professional institutions such as universities or writers’ groups.

With all the advice about marketing for writers available online and in print, you may be wondering why you should bother having an information interview with a marketer or spending money on a course or book. But before you begin reading articles, knowing where to start is essential. If you don’t which islands are out there, how will you know which travel guides to read?

 3. Make and remake a to-do list: Once you’ve spoken with a cartographer, sketch out a plan for which islands to visit in which order, and revise the plan as many times as you need to.

Most people work better having a written plan for major endeavours. I’m no exception, and as an indexer, I love lists. So after speaking with Iguana about marketing, I saved a new copy of the notes I’d typed during the meeting and began putting tasks in the order in which they needed to be completed. At first, I grouped tasks under different headings such as Author Website, Social Media, Readings and Bookstores, and Other. Although this was visually pleasing because the to-do list was not presented as one big chunk, the presentation was impractical because it meant that I had to look under multiple categories to figure out what my next marketing task was. So I collapsed all the categories and simply made a long list. For every completed task, I wrote “done” in uppercase pink letters at the end of the line (or “n/a” in red letters if I’d decided not to pursue the task). For ease, I highlighted in blue the tasks that I needed to perform next.

You may prefer to group tasks by category, or perhaps you’d rather use an Excel spreadsheet or pen and paper instead of a Word document. Experiment with different list formats and find what works for you. Regardless of format, include timelines for completion of a given task. Return to your list every time you work on your marketing, and refine it by adding, deleting, or moving tasks around.

 4. Realize the limitations of non-traditional publishers: Sadly, books from self-publishers, independent publishers, and hybrid publishers are not welcome in some quarters. If you attempt to land on those islands, you’ll encounter hostile inhabitants who will bar your ship from entering the port.

This fact didn’t come up during my marketing conversation with Iguana. Instead, my status as authora non grata was a distressing lesson I learned soon after I began researching book bloggers to whom I could send my novel for review. Some bloggers state in their review policy that they won’t consider self-published books. Because of its newness and connection with self-publishing, hybrid publishing is equally suspect in some quarters, and books published by such companies are lumped in with self-published books.

I wish I had a way of busting open these ports, Commodore Perry style, but I don’t. You’re better served by advice warning of the existence of these islands and suggesting that you move on. As an individual writer, especially a new one, you’re unlikely to change anyone’s mind about non-traditional publishing. More likely, your impassioned pleas and carefully reasoned arguments will annoy bloggers. This anger is justifiable. After all, you wouldn’t send a query about a romance novel to a blogger who specifically states that she does not review romance novels, so the same applies to non-traditionally published books. Also, book bloggers are a close-knit community. They talk to one another. If you send too many “will you make an exception for me because my book is awesome?” emails, you might be pegged as an obtuse pain who wastes bloggers’ time because he doesn’t read review policies properly. And as someone trying to promote your book, you definitely don’t want that reputation.

The tide of opinion about non-traditionally–published books has shifted over the past twenty years. When I was studying for my master’s in creative writing, self-publishing was called vanity publishing, and our seminar instructor assured us that none of us would ever have to stoop to the degradation of publishing our own work. Now, with the commercial and critical success of more and more self-published books, including Canadian Terry Fallis’s first novel, The Best Laid Plans, non-traditional publishing is becoming more respected. You can do your part to help this opinion shift by writing the best book you can, promoting it to the best of your ability, accepting that some still people won’t want to read it, trying not to take this rejection personally, and moving on.

 5. Go on a blog tour: A blog tour is a virtual book tour. Instead of visiting bookstores, reading from your book, and signing copies, you have your book featured on several blogs (the exact number depends on the tour package you choose) over a set period. The blogs offer excerpts and reviews of your book, author interviews with you, and guest posts written by you—all important promotional opportunities. The best part? You can hire a blog tour company to organize a tour for you. Inviting someone else to chart a course and steer my boat for a while was the smartest marketing decision I made and the best money I spent.

When I first learned about blog tours, my reaction was “why bother?” Many individual reviewers have guidelines for how authors can contact them. I figured that if I could contact reviewers myself, I could save money by not hiring someone to reach out to people for me. I was confident that I could secure the same number of reviews and promotional opportunities that a blog tour would produce. I resolved to resort to a tour only if I struck out with the bloggers I was contacting personally.

Within a couple of weeks, I realized my error. Iguana had provided me with a list of over 600 YA bloggers. I spent several days combing through the list and narrowed it down to 184 who were the best candidates to review my book. Then, I spent another two weeks reading over some of these blogs, crafting personal emails to the bloggers, and sending out queries. Of the 96 bloggers I emailed, I received 8 responses: 3 yeses, 2 maybes, and 3 nos. Given the number of books out there and the number of authors, publicists, and publishers jockeying for reviews, I suspect that an 8% response rate is decent, especially considering that I was a first-time author with no published reviews and only a fledgling web and social media presence.

Nonetheless, I found the process demoralizing and time consuming and the result disappointing. I’d hit a sandbar and knew that I couldn’t continue. I checked my pride and made an SOS call to a blog tour company that specialized in YA fiction. Thankfully, Giselle Cormier of Xpresso Book Tours responded immediately and agreed to come to my aid.

As I was researching potential blog tour companies, I realized just how arrogant I’d been to assume that I could quickly make the kinds of connections that tour hosts have taken years nurturing. Blog tour companies are deeply connected; Xpresso has ties to over 2000 bloggers. Unless you’re someone who’s already securely plugged in to a network of bloggers, I strongly recommend hiring a professional to organize reviews and other promotional opportunities for you. As with any other hiring decision, do your homework. Tour companies specialize in certain genres of writing, so make sure you’re targeting organizations who will promote your type of book. Investigate their credentials. How long have they been in business? What are their qualifications? Is their website professionally designed and free of grammatical and spelling errors? Does it have a testimonials section?

Promotional opportunities organized by tour companies have another advantage over those you organize yourself. If a blogger says she’ll review your book, that’s not a guarantee that the review will happen. Life sometimes has other plans. With a blog tour, there are no guarantees, either. However, you’re more likely to get the reviews requested. For example, Xpresso added a couple of extra stops to my tour to compensate for any bloggers who might not be able to post. In the best-case scenario, everyone would post and I would get a couple more stops than the twenty for which I’d paid; in the worst-case, I’d still have my twenty posts.

My blog tour provided The History of Hilary Hambrushina with great exposure. I first noticed the effects on the giveaway I’d been running on Goodreads. After five weeks, around 400 people had signed up to win one of ten free copies of my book, not exactly a stellar turnout. Then, Xpresso posted my tour sign-up sheet on their website and began promoting the tour. In the last week of my giveaway, the number of entrants spiked to over 1300. During the tour, I ran another giveaway organized by Xpresso. Over 2000 people entered, meaning that those 2000 people were now aware of me and my book. I would never have been able to attract that many eyeballs on my own. If you take only one piece of advice from this article (except for point ten, coming in part two), take this one.

© Marnie Lamb

CLICK HERE TO BUY NOW!

Author Bio:  Marnie Lamb is a Gemini incarnate: half writer and half editor. She earned a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Windsor. Her short stories have appeared in Journey Prize Stories 25 and various Canadian literary journals, including filling Station, The Nashwaak Review, and The Dalhousie Review. Her first novel, a YA book named The History of Hilary Hambrushina, was published by Iguana Books this past spring. She pursues her other love, editing, as the owner of Ewe Editorial Services, which offers copy editing, indexing, permissions and photo research, and proofreading services to educational, scholarly, and trade publishers. When she is not writing or editing, she can be found cooking recipes with eggplant or scouting out fashions—preferably ones with polka-dots—at Toronto’s One of a Kind Show.

Automotive Author: Build Your Brand and Business with How-To Books! Reach Even More Automotive Clients!

Now available through AMAZON and KOBO!

There is a form of online book sales and marketing known as “rapid release” publishing that many of today’s most successful independent authors are using to sell thousands of books every year. Some of these authors are consistently earning six-figure incomes. 

WHY AUTOMOTIVE SERVICE TECHNICIANS ARE PERFECT CANDIDATES FOR SELF-PUBLISHING

I believe automotive service technicians are among the perfect candidates for this form of self-publishing. Why? Because of your diverse demographic (e.g., seniors, middle age adults, young adults, males, females, et cetera) and the varied subject matter you can cover (e.g., vehicle maintenance and repair for all kinds of different makes and models, various automotive parts and how they work, et cetera). When it comes to topic matter, the sky is the limit in your field; and “rapid release” publishing provides an opportunity for you to expand your business to genuinely help more people—the do-it-yourselfers—without over-extending your current workload. Think of this as a unique way to clone yourself.

Browse through the table of contents for this ebook and you’ll see a blueprint for how automotive service technicians can design how-to guides for their clientele. Throughout this book, I share case studies and links to other experts who are reaching out to people like you, via the Internet, to show you how to grow your business in all kinds of unique ways you may never have considered before. You can do the same thing with the “do-it-yourselfers” in your own industry—you can teach other aspiring automotive service technicians how to help themselves, too.

As someone with 25 years’ experience in book publishing, sales, and marketing, I can show you how to self-publish automotive service technician guides that will allow you to supplement your income in an efficient way. I know you’re already busy enough as it is, and there are only so many hours in the day, so efficiency is crucial. I get it, and that’s why I think this professional self-publishing program is perfect for you.

WHY EBOOKS ARE THE PERFECT “HOW-TO” FORMAT FOR AUTOMOTIVE SERVICE TECHNICIANS

Everyone learns in his or her own unique way. Some people are more visual learners who prefer to savour and digest the text in front of them, at their own pace, in the quiet comfort of their favorite learning areas. An ebook allows them to do this. It also allows them to go back and review what they’ve read, to give it further thought later on.

Here’s another huge benefit of ebooks and ereaders for aspiring automotive service technicians. They are highly portable, and several ebooks about various automotive topics can be stored together in one compact device. This allows learners to prop their lessons up on a table or wall next to their work stations rather than clumsily thumbing through bulky paperbacks or hardcovers.

WHY SIGNIFICANT INCOME IS POSSIBLE FOR AUTOMOTIVE SERVICE TECHNICIANS

Over the years, I’ve learned that the traditional (trade) book publishing method doesn’t work well for everyone. I come across more and more professionals who want to publish a book for all kinds of different reasons—to promote a business, educate or inspire others, et cetera—and they want it done quickly (e.g., within four to six weeks), and with a minimal upfront investment. This ebook will take automotive service technicians through an easy-to-follow, fast self-publishing process that can lead to significant passive income down the road.

NO INTEREST IN WRITING A BOOK YOURSELF? THAT’S OKAY. YOU DON’T HAVE TO.

Although some automotive service technicians have the time and ability to write their own books, others might choose to hire a professional ghostwriter to help them create that compelling narrative. Both are acceptable ways to produce a book. In this ebook, I’ll show you how to find an affordable professional ghostwriter to help you write your how-to series so you can keep doing what you do best on the side.

* * *   * * *   * * *

As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2017 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

Crowdfunding: 10 Tips to Make It Work for You, Part Two

Marnie Lamb

 6. Go on social media: Blow your own tuba but don’t be a one-person band. Support your campaign by using your social media accounts to spread the word about your crowdfunding project and drive people to the campaign page.

This is another tip that I didn’t take full advantage of during my own campaign. Although I now have an author website, a Facebook page, and a Goodreads account, these all came after my crowdfunding ended. I had no social media presence during the campaign. Quite the opposite: For various reasons, I had been a dedicated Facebook loather for almost a decade. When I signed a contract with a publisher who doesn’t provide marketing, I knew that I would have to become more active online to promote my book. However, I was so focused on the short-term goals—ensuring that my publication costs were funded and getting the book to the editing and design stages—that I failed to look to the long-term goal of marketing. I was going to have to set up a Facebook page and an author website at some point, and I wish that I had done so before the campaign. Not all of my current Facebook friends are people to whom I’d promoted my campaign. So I can’t help but wonder how many more people I might have reached and how many more pledges I might have secured had I made my mark on social media earlier.

Another advantage of being on social media is that it helps willing supporters promote your campaign. Even if you’re a newbie to social media, chances are that you have several friends and family members with a large social media following. Enlist their help by asking them to post, tweet, and share. Several of my supporters did so, some without being asked. But I would have made their promotion so much easier by having been on, for example, Facebook and posting messages myself. Supporters would then have been able to simply share with one click, as opposed to typing new messages themselves.

Finally, if you’re on social media, you can engage with the people who read posts or tweets related to your campaign, by thanking your supporters, responding to comments or tweets, and liking people’s responses. This engagement shows you to be a live person rather than a paper cut-out named “my friend, the faceless author who is not online.” Generally, people will respond better to those whose profiles they can see and interact with. If interested parties can click on your profile and be taken to your author website, where they can read more about you as a writer, so much the better. All this information whets people’s appetites for your book, and maybe some of those diners will order a copy to satisfy their cravings.

7. Get extra funding from generous donors: Find angels who don’t fear to tread. Angel investors are people who are willing to spend money on a cause for the love of the cause—or of the person promoting it. Due diligence is involved, but because angels often have a personal relationship with the fundee, they are usually more willing to part with their money than are venture capitalists. In the context of crowdfunding, I’m using the word more specifically to refer to supporters who are willing to pledge money without receiving anything in return. This is where the no-reward pledge, discussed in part one, is essential.

Because my campaign was premised on selling advanced copies, I assumed that I would raise all the money through book sales. However, for a couple of reasons, that didn’t happen. First, several people on whom I’d been counting for donations didn’t come through. Second, many people who bought copies purchased the paperback, which was half the price of the hardcover, so I was earning less money than I expected. I wouldn’t have come close to reaching my goal without the help of a few winged saviours who swooped down and blessed the money pot with large-denomination bills. I wasn’t expecting to have to rely on this heavenly support. But if you’re planning a campaign, consider sounding out people to whom you’re close and who might be able and willing to be your angels, depending on how the campaign goes.

And depending on the content and specificity of your book, you may also wish to approach organizations with which you’re connected. For example, say you’re writing a historical novel about Chinese railway workers in late-nineteenth-century British Columbia. Perhaps you know someone at a Chinese-Canadian historical society or friendship association that might be interested in donating money to help disseminate your story to a wider audience. Organizations will probably respond more favourably if you’re able to offer them something in return, such as an invitation to your book launch, a thank-you on the acknowledgements page, or cross-promotion of their work. I wouldn’t advise approaching organizations with whom you don’t have an existing relationship. People may not react well to a sponsorship request from someone they’ve never heard of. Then again, if you’re an assertive personality with strong selling skills, you may be comfortable with this approach. So much the better for you.

As with a guardian angel, you hope you don’t have to rely too much on angel investors. But if you do need their help, you’ll sure be glad that they’re around.

8. Manage your emotions, part one: Tune out the elevator music. One of the most surprising and unsettling developments of my crowdfunding campaign was how emotional the journey was.

Hope. Fear. Despair. Joy. Anticipation. Uncertainty. Excitement. Anger. Anxiety. Disappointment. Elation. I felt every emotion throughout my campaign. The experience wasn’t the clichéd roller coaster. With a roller coaster, you can see what’s coming, and the ups and downs are always extreme. Rather, my journey was more like riding an elevator with one button. When I entered the elevator and pressed the button to check my fundraising progress, I never knew where the elevator would take me. Would I shoot up several floors (“Yay! Three hundred dollars more in donations!”) or plunge down several (“Ugh! It’s been five days and still no new pledges!”)? Would I bump up one floor (“Another paperback sold!”) or drop down one (“Nothing new. Oh, well. I had two new donations yesterday.”)?

Even the most equable person will be buffeted by waves of emotion during a campaign. Crowdfunding is a high-stakes proposition. You spend years crafting a manuscript, you find a publisher or decide to self-publish (probably after many rejections), and you bravely share your story (or at least a chapter or two of it) with the world. Now, you must wait weeks to see whether the public expresses enough interest in your manuscript to make publication viable. You don’t have to be a highly sensitive person to find this situation nerve-wracking.

That’s why maintaining some life–crowdfunding balance is critical. Yes, spending time on the campaign is important. Every night, I completed or initiated one piece of promotion, always asking myself the same questions: “Who can I tell about my campaign who hasn’t heard about it yet? Who can I follow up with who hasn’t donated? Where and how else can I promote it?” But when spending time on your campaign, be sure that you’re actually working productively on it, not morosely navel-gazing about it. Checking your campaign’s progress every hour is like constantly looking in the mirror to see whether your acne medication is working: Checking isn’t going to make the medicine work faster, and if you don’t detect any change from your previous scrutiny, you’ll feel depressed. I looked at my campaign page a maximum of four times a day and sometimes not at all on weekends.

Take breaks and recharge in environments that soothe and relax you (for me, this environment is yoga class). This self-management is essential for your health, both mental and physical, but also benefits your campaign. Feeling too confident or too despairing can result in you giving up on promoting the campaign, causing you to think, “Why bother?” for opposing reasons.

9. Manage your emotions, part two: Tune out the jeers and tune in to the cheers. The harsh truth is that not everyone in your life will be supportive of your publishing endeavours.

But, you might argue, surely this isn’t unique to the crowdfunding process. No, but any lack of support is made clear during that process. After all, someone could claim that she bought a copy of your book after publication, and you don’t have any practical way of proving otherwise. During the crowdfunding, however, you can see who has purchased a copy. On PubLaunch, for example, a list of supporters appeared on a public page of my campaign. However, Iguana and I also had access to a private page, which listed the names of the supporters (including those who had chosen to be listed anonymously on the public page), their email addresses, the rewards packages they purchased, the amount they spent, and the date and time of their purchases. So at the end, I knew who had not ponied up. Some people had excellent reasons for not having supported my campaign. But not everyone did.

I had two friends, both of whom I’d known for over a decade, who fell into the latter category. During the campaign, one told me that while she would try to purchase a copy of my book, she couldn’t make any promises. After all, it was “a busy time of year” so she might not be able to set aside the time it took to buy the book online. (This after I had spent over an hour travelling to her birthday party.) The other bought the book under protest, after having phoned me to warn that the crowdfunding sounded “dangerous on many levels” and that “no one [she] talked to thinks this is a good idea.” When my campaign succeeded and her doubts were proven wrong, she stopped speaking to me. Not surprisingly, both of these relationships had been rotting for quite some time. But the news of my book publication and crowdfunding campaign painfully exposed the depths of the disease at a time when I was already vulnerable and under stress.

I don’t think it’s ever possible to be emotionally prepared for such betrayals. The best you can do is handle these attacks by connecting with kind, level-headed supporters who can talk you through the rough patches. One of the best pieces of advice I received from such a person was this: “People are going to be jealous of you. Don’t even give it air time.” That encouraged me to keep my eyes focused on my goal, not on the hecklers jeering from the sidelines as I sprinted past. The cheers of the people who’d encouraged me throughout the publication process helped propel me forward to that goal.

10. Keep supporters in the loop after your campaign ends: Silence is cheap. Regardless of your campaign’s outcome, share the result and next steps with all your supporters. If your campaign failed to meet its target and you’ll be refunding the money that was donated, let supporters know when they can expect reimbursement. If your campaign succeeded in meaning its target or if it failed but you’ll be financing the shortfall yourself, let supporters know the next step in your book’s publication process (e.g., “The book will be moving on to the editing and cover design stage.”).

Many of my supporters came from one of several groups: family, friends, fellow worshippers at my church, and fellow members of two professional associations to which I belong. I crafted slightly different emails for each group and sent them off immediately after my campaign concluded. A few supporters didn’t fall into any of the above categories, so I contacted those people separately. I also enlisted the aid of some supporters in updating others who were mutual friends. In all instances, I made sure that my deep thanks were prominently conveyed in the communication.

As an alternative to email, social media is an excellent way of informing multiple groups of people about your campaign’s progress. Be sure to reach out individually to people who are not on social media, too. If that means sending a postcard to your technologically challenged great-uncle in rural Manitoba, do so. He supported you, and he deserves to know where his money is going.

Not long before my campaign started, I was asked to support another crowdfunding campaign. I happily did so and received a couple of updates about the campaign’s progress. Then, silence descended. The person running the campaign didn’t keep in touch about whether the fundraising had succeeded. In fact, in her initial communication, she hadn’t indicated a deadline, so I didn’t even know how long the campaign was running. Only once I joined Facebook several months later did I receive a message from this person inviting me to like a page she had created for her cause. It turns out that the campaign had succeeded, but had I not joined Facebook, I probably wouldn’t have known. And in those preceding months, I was left wondering where my money had gone. This situation puzzled and irked me. Don’t risk annoying your early supporters, many of whom are probably your family members or close friends. Take time away from celebrating or moping to write those emails and mail those postcards.

If your book publication is going ahead, keep communicating after you’ve relayed your campaign’s result. Sharing milestones with your supporters—revealing the book’s front cover, showing off your glamorous new author photo, and announcing the publication date—is fun and rewarding. Your supporters will get almost as much joy by reading about your book’s journey as you will by sharing that journey.

********************************************************************************

Having read this far, you might be thinking, “Why bother crowdfunding? It sounds risky, stressful, and difficult.” For many people, crowdfunding is all three. However, it offers two important benefits.

First, crowdfunding saves you a lot of money. Funding a book’s publication costs solo requires a huge outlay of money, more than many people can afford. Combined with covering the marketing expenses, paying publication costs means that the likelihood of you recouping your investment in your book, let alone turning a profit, is miniscule. Unloading the burden of a huge chunk of the expenses gives you a much better shot at profiting financially from your book. And why shouldn’t you make money on your book? Without your hard work and dedication, none of the other partners—the publisher, the printer, the distributor—would earn money. Surely, you’re entitled to your share.

Second, crowdfunding operates as a dry run for your marketing. If you can’t sell your book to family and friends, how are you going to sell it to strangers—people who have no emotional investment in supporting you? Crowdfunding enables you to gauge your promotional skills. You might find that, like me, you could make better use of social media. Maybe the information you presented about your book could be more compelling: a snappier synopsis or a more enticing excerpt. At the end of a successful campaign, you’ll find that you want to adjust your promotional strategy, even if only a little. If your campaign failed, you have much to ponder and assess before you embark on trying to market your book to a wider audience. Marketing is a trial-and-error process. Crowdfunding is a great trial (in many ways!) during which you can learn from your errors and successes before your book is published.

The crowdfunding world offers no guarantees. Ultimately, if your book doesn’t appeal to people, your campaign is unlikely to succeed. But learning from the experiences of other fundees, both successful and not, will give you a better shot at that elusive success. It’s like having a bigger boat: It won’t rid the ocean of sharks ready to drag you down, but it will increase the likelihood that you’ll reach land safely.

To see an example of a successful crowdfunding campaign, visit my PubLaunch page at http://www.publaunch.com/campaigns/history-hilary-hambrushina.

Happy crowdfunding!

An earlier version of this article appeared on the blog Hooked to Books.

© Marnie Lamb

CLICK HERE TO BUY NOW!

Author Bio:  Marnie Lamb is a Gemini incarnate: half writer and half editor. She earned a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Windsor. Her short stories have appeared in Journey Prize Stories 25 and various Canadian literary journals, including filling Station, The Nashwaak Review, and The Dalhousie Review. Her first novel, a YA book named The History of Hilary Hambrushina, was published by Iguana Books this past spring. She pursues her other love, editing, as the owner of Ewe Editorial Services, which offers copy editing, indexing, permissions and photo research, and proofreading services to educational, scholarly, and trade publishers. When she is not writing or editing, she can be found cooking recipes with eggplant or scouting out fashions—preferably ones with polka-dots—at Toronto’s One of a Kind Show.

Health & Fitness Author: The REAL Secret to Building a Successful Personal Trainer Career

Now available through AMAZON and KOBO!

The objective of this ebook is not to recommend any specific health, diet, or fitness regimens for personal trainers to follow. The primary audience for this book is self-employed personal trainers who are creating your own customized programs for various individuals, and my assumption is that you’ve been doing this for a while now. You’ve already built up a complete collection of personal trainer materials that you can draw from.

My intention is to show you how to expand the business you’ve already created—to, in essence, “clone yourself” so you can reach even more clients around the world while earning passive income on the side. Potentially significant passive income. As someone with 25 years’ experience in book publishing, sales, and marketing, I can show you how to self-publish professional grade personal trainer guides that will allow you to supplement your income in an efficient way. I know you’re already busy enough as it is, and there are only so many hours in the day, so efficiency is crucial. I get it, and that’s why I think this type of self-publishing program is perfect for you.

WHY EBOOKS AND AUDIOBOOKS SUIT PERSONAL TRAINERS

We all have a preferred learning style and strength whether it be audio, visual, or kinesthetic. Some prefer a more social gym setting where others prefer a more solitary workout environment. Obviously, ebooks and audiobooks have a great appeal for audio and visual solitary learners, and this is why they’re such a great addition to personal trainer programs.

Your more visual learners may prefer to savour and digest the images and text in front of them, in between sets, in the quiet comfort of a personal gym. A personal trainer ebook not only allows them to do this, but it also allows them to go back and review what they’ve read, to give it further thought before and after starting a new program.

Audiobooks are also useful personal trainer tools, particularly for the busy adult learners who spend much of their time commuting on a daily basis—whether they’re driving to and from work, or taking their kids to and from extracurricular activities after school. These individuals are often left with little spare time for any kind of “traditional” training, so audiobooks are a welcome alternative. Personal trainers can inspire and encourage these individuals to improve their lives by producing motivational audiobooks to complement other health and fitness programs. This allows your clients to further absorb your words of advice during a break at work, a morning jog, on a plane, or even in the car.

WHY SIGNIFICANT INCOME IS POSSIBLE FOR PERSONAL TRAINERS

Over the years, I’ve learned that the traditional (trade) book publishing method doesn’t work well for everyone. I come across more and more professionals who want to publish a book for all kinds of different reasons—to promote a business, educate or inspire others, et cetera—and they want it done quickly (e.g., within four to six weeks), and with a minimal upfront investment. This book details the independent publishing method many authors around the world are now using to earn six-figure incomes; and I believe it is a great fit for personal trainers based on all the different clients (e.g., seniors, middle age adults, young adults, teenagers, males, females, et cetera) and subject matter (e.g., different muscle groups, different food groups, et cetera) that you can cover. The sky is the limit in your field, and self-publishing provides an opportunity for you to expand your business and genuinely help more clients without over-extending your workload.

NO INTEREST IN WRITING A BOOK YOURSELF? THAT’S OKAY. YOU DON’T HAVE TO

Although some authors both qualify and have the time to write their own books, others might choose to hire a professional ghostwriter to help them create that compelling narrative. Both are acceptable ways to produce a book. In this ebook, I’ll show you how to find an affordable professional ghostwriter to help you write your personal trainer guide.

* * *   * * *   * * *

As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2017 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

Crowdfunding: 10 Tips to Make It Work for You, Part One

Marnie Lamb

Crowdfunding is becoming an increasingly popular way for people to realize their goals, both personal and professional. Crowdfunding refers to raising money for a cause through soliciting donations from a large group of people, often via the Internet. Although I had a hazy idea of the general principles behind crowdfunding, I never imagined that I would launch a campaign, much less one to raise money to get a book published. I first heard of crowdfunding for book publication six years ago during one of my courses in the Publishing Program at Toronto’s Ryerson University. I recall thinking, “Whoa. That’s a bit too new and radical for me.”

Then, last year, Iguana Books, a hybrid publisher based in Toronto, accepted my young adult novel, The History of Hilary Hambrushina, for publication. Iguana uses a newer publishing model. Iguana publishes only books that meet its editorial standards. To ensure that it doesn’t lose money on its books, Iguana asks authors to either pay the publication costs up front or raise the money through selling advanced copies via crowdfunding. At first, I was going to pay the money myself and be done with it, but Greg Ioannou, Iguana’s president, convinced me to try crowdfunding, saying that a YA novel would be a good candidate for a successful campaign. Buoyed by his enthusiasm, I agreed to take the plunge. The amount needed to cover publication costs was C$4315.

On Shark Tank, you hear about people launching a Kickstarter or GoFundMe campaign that exceeds its goal within the first few hours. Listening to these glorious tales, you might easily be trapped into thinking, “All I need to do is set up my campaign, push the start button, and wait for the money to gush in, right?

Wrong. So wrong.

These wonder campaigns are rarer than a sunny day in a Vancouver winter. According to Kickstarter (https://www.kickstarter.com/help/stats), 64% of crowdfunding campaigns fail, and 14% never earn a nickel. My informal observations about PubLaunch, a site affiliated with Iguana Books and which raises money for book-related endeavours only, show similar results. I count at least eight other campaigns that started in the months during or surrounding mine; only one was successful in meeting its goal. The amounts raised in the others ranged from 0% to 25% of the target.

So why was my campaign a sunny day in a season full of grey skies? I was an unlikely candidate to run a fruitful campaign. I’d had little experience fundraising. Before this campaign, the most I’d ever had to raise was C$150 for a charity walk. I’m also a proud introvert who generally disdains self-promotion as tacky, narcissistic, or desperate. I didn’t have an author website, I wasn’t on any social media platforms, and the only reason I had a website for my freelance editing business was that I needed to engage in some self-promotion to pay my bills.

Iguana provided me with their crowdfunding guide, which offers basic information about setting up a PubLaunch page and tips on helping a campaign succeed. However, I don’t credit my success only to having followed the guide. Rather, intuition, forethought, observations about previous PubLaunch campaigns, adjustments along the way, and a little luck were the keys. Here are the top ten pieces of advice I’d offer anyone considering using crowdfunding for book publication.

 1. Choose the dates of your campaign carefully: Don’t be the fool who rushes in. Once you’ve decided to test the crowdfunding waters, you may be tempted to plunge in immediately and start sharing your dream with the world. However, carefully choosing your campaign’s timing is more likely to set you up for success.

First, consider the when: What are the start and end dates and time of year? My PubLaunch contact advised that in her experience, Tuesday and Wednesday are the best launch days; hence, I chose the former for my kickoff. I’m not suggesting that other days will result in a failed campaign or that a magic formula exists to find the best day of the week. But try to avoid days on which many people will be busy, such as holidays or the first Saturday of the school summer break.

The same applies to the time of year. During the holiday season in December, people are distracted and busy. In January, they’re poorer after their holiday purchases and may not be willing to dish out more dollars. The exception may be a campaign for a fitness or health book. Then, you can tap into people’s New Year’s resolutions to exercise or eat better. Also, consider your own schedule. It’s unwise to launch a campaign the day before you leave for a long weekend canoeing expedition in the backwoods of Algonquin Park. You need to be available throughout your campaign, especially at the start and end, to answer potential supporters’ questions.

Next, consider the how: How many weeks will the campaign be? Some PubLaunch campaigns were only three weeks, but the idea of raising over C$4000 in such a short time made me nervous. Iguana and I agreed on six weeks. Part of the impetus for the extra weeks was that my campaign began on August 2, and I wanted to leave enough time to catch potential supporters who would be returning from vacation in September. If you thrive under tight deadlines, a shorter campaign may suit you. If not, I’d suggest a minimum six-to-eight-week run time. Moreover, consider your circle of potential supporters. If your kith and kin are procrastinators, you may need a longer campaign to nail down all their pledges.

Try to choose dates that best set you up for success, while recognizing that your choices offer no guarantees. These choices should include giving yourself enough lead time (ideally at least a couple of months) to promote the campaign to family and friends, who can in turn promote it to their circle.

 2. Choose and price your rewards wisely: Good things come in small packages, but better things come in big packages. On PubLaunch, rewards are packages of goods that supporters purchase to help fund a book’s publication. Rewards form the building blocks of a campaign, so taking time to fine-tune them is essential.

The first reward you’ll want to offer is a copy of your book. Offer each edition as a separate package, and consider combining editions and selling them at a discount (e.g., “Save $5 when you purchase the ebook and paperback together”). Iguana encourages authors to give their rewards fun names; I named mine after the characters in my book. Think, too, about including a more expensive reward for a limited-edition item. I offered a hardcover of my book, which was available only during the campaign. The cachet of exclusivity appeals to people, and you’re giving supporters real value by enabling them to purchase something special.

Rewards don’t have to be only books. An invitation to your book launch, a shout-out in the acknowledgements section, or an appearance at a book club meeting are all good rewards. Do you have a special talent such as quilting or sculpting? Work that into a package. Some PubLaunch campaigns offered a piece of unique artwork, handcrafted by the author, the ultimate example of a limited-edition item.

Pricing is a crucial part of reward preparation. Don’t gouge your supporters by charging unfairly high prices, but do charge enough. After all, the cheaper the rewards, the more supporters you’ll need for a successful campaign. According to Iguana, the paperback of my book would have a list price of around C$20. My reward package The Mom comprised a signed paperback and a bookmark featuring the cover art. I felt that C$25 for a copy that included two extras (the personalized signature and bookmark) was fair. However, C$40 would not have been. But avoid overly cheap rewards. A couple of PubLaunch campaigns offered a thank-you email in exchange for C$1. Providing such cheap options is tantamount to saving up for a cross-country trip one nickel at a time. The Mom was the most inexpensive reward I offered; I didn’t offer the cheaper ebook edition, because I knew I’d have to find more supporters if I did. If you’re concerned that your lowest price might drive away more frugal customers, you can also offer a no-reward pledge, in which supporters simply donate any amount of money without receiving anything. I did this and earned a big chunk of money from it (see tip number seven, coming in part two).

If you’re including non-book rewards, don’t assume that your publisher will produce the materials or cover the cost. I made this mistake about my bookmarks and was dismayed to learn that I would have to design, print, and pay for them. Luckily, a couple of kind souls helped out, and my work and costs were minimal. But be sure you charge enough to offset your own costs.

 3. Offer packages of multiple books: Two for the price of one is better than one for the price of one. Make ordering multiple copies of your book as easy as possible for your supporters. This is part of choosing rewards wisely, but it’s so important that it bears setting off as a separate point.

I learned the importance of such packages quickly. On the first day of my campaign, one of my supporters phoned me and inquired about ordering multiple copies. When I explained that PubLaunch isn’t set up to order multiples of the same package, he responded, “so if I want to order five paperbacks, I have to go through the process five times?” Realizing the impracticality of this set-up, I consulted with the publisher and came up with a solution: separate rewards for purchasing two hardcovers or two paperbacks. To these rewards I gave the same name as the rewards for one copy, except with “plus.” So while the Mom (C$25) was one copy of the paperback, the Mom Plus (C$50) was two.

Several of my supporters wanted to buy a copy for themselves and another for someone else. If the ordering process had been too cumbersome, I’m sure that some of those supporters would have given up on the second copy, costing me sales. I also realized that two $25 books are worth more than one $50 book. The second book offers a chance for a new reader to not only discover the book but also potentially tell others about it, possibly creating more sales. Multiples are another area ripe for discounts. Although I didn’t choose that route, you may wish to do so to encourage supporters to buy more books (e.g., “Save $5 when you buy two copies of the paperback”). Interestingly, the other successful PubLaunch campaign also made use of the multiples technique.

 4. Set your goal slightly higher than what you need: Do overextend yourself. I offer this advice cautiously, as it’s both a remedy and a poison. I didn’t actually do this on my campaign, but in hindsight, I wish I had set the bar a little higher to help cover my marketing costs.

Setting a loftier goal is a remedy in that exceeding your goal gives you a little boost in covering other book-related expenses. If you’re being published by a company that asks you to crowdfund, chances are that the publisher will be doing little or no marketing of your book (or they might provide marketing, but only for an additional fee). That promotion and its cost will fall to you. I was blessed to exceed my initial goal by almost C$500 extra, and the excess funds, given to me by the publisher, went right back into the book in the form of marketing. Some marketing endeavours will be in US$, therefore costing more in C$, another reason that raising a little extra dough may be helpful. (I’ll discuss marketing more in an upcoming article.) If you’re an assertive go-getter who feels confident about your chances of reaching your goal, think about resetting your target to net a modest amount extra, say 5% to 10% of the publication costs.

For a different personality, though, this new goal might be a poison. Publication costs are expensive, and raising enough money to cover them is already a steep hill to climb without adjusting the gradient. If you’re at all uncertain about crowdfunding or concerned about meeting your goal, stick with the original target. As I’ll discuss in part two, crowdfunding is an emotional journey, and you may not wish to invite the added stress of a higher goal.

 5. Promote your campaign early and often: Understand that if you build it, they won’t come—unless you tell them about it, draw them a map, or even strap them into a car and drive them to “it.” As Bethany Joy Carlson advises (https://janefriedman.com/crowdfunding-for-writers/), “The success of your campaign and the marketing of your book in general hinge on your willingness to embrace the role of your book’s number-one cheerleader.” Expecting your campaign to market itself is the biggest mistake you can make.

Expecting your publisher to market your campaign isn’t wise, either. While Iguana did promote my campaign by sending out a few tweets and posting a few messages on Facebook, this publicity garnered maybe two supporters. (I say maybe because both of the supporters are fellow members of a professional association to which I belong and to which I had been promoting my campaign. So I don’t know whether their support resulted from my publicity or from Iguana’s.) Definitely ask your publisher to promote your campaign—you need all the weapons in your arsenal to ensure success—but recognize that you are ultimately responsible for driving supporters to your page.

Tell everyone you know about your campaign. Family and friends, yes, but also colleagues, fellow members of any professional groups, members of your place of worship or any clubs to which you belong, neighbours, friends of friends, your accountant, your hairdresser, and your dental hygienist. Not everyone will donate, but no one will donate if he or she isn’t aware of the campaign. To build buzz, tell people about the campaign weeks before it begins and again as soon as it starts. Don’t stop promoting after your first contact. Halfway through the campaign, follow up with people who haven’t donated. I had to ask certain people three times before they donated, but persistence paid off and those pledges came through.

In your initial email or conversation after the campaign starts, make donating easy by explaining what crowdfunding is and how it works; providing instructions for donating, the link to your crowdfunding page, and the deadline for pledges; and inviting questions. Be sure to indicate the currency: Are your rewards and goal in C$, US$, etc.? Let supporters know how long they can expect to wait before receiving their rewards. People who aren’t familiar with the publication process may expect a book two weeks after your campaign ends! Even a ballpark estimate helps. If the publication date changes (as mine did), you can update supporters later with the new details.

Self-promotion does not come naturally for many people. If you fall into this category, you’ll need to be willing to be uncomfortable, at least at first. But I found that the more I spoke about my passion for my book and its story, the more I embraced the role of cheerleader and the more authentic my cheerleading became. I think that being more of an introvert and less of a self-promoter can actually be an advantage when you do have to promote yourself and your causes because it makes your marketing weightier. Your family, friends, and acquaintances know that you’re not someone who’s always hawking his or her wares. So if you’re promoting your crowdfunding project, it must be close to your heart. That will likely convince more people to listen to and ultimately support you.

© Marnie Lamb

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Author Bio:  Marnie Lamb is a Gemini incarnate: half writer and half editor. She earned a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Windsor. Her short stories have appeared in Journey Prize Stories 25 and various Canadian literary journals, including filling Station, The Nashwaak Review, and The Dalhousie Review. Her first novel, a YA book named The History of Hilary Hambrushina, was published by Iguana Books this past spring. She pursues her other love, editing, as the owner of Ewe Editorial Services, which offers copy editing, indexing, permissions and photo research, and proofreading services to educational, scholarly, and trade publishers. When she is not writing or editing, she can be found cooking recipes with eggplant or scouting out fashions—preferably ones with polka-dots—at Toronto’s One of a Kind Show.

Professional Self-Publishing for Online and Distance Educators: Reach More Students with Ebooks and Audiobooks

Now available through AMAZON and KOBO!

The objective of this ebook is not to recommend any specific approaches on how materials should be selected and organized for online and distance education programs. Nor is it my intention to advise you on how to design and teach your courses. The primary audience for this book is self-employed tutors who are creating your own lesson plans for students, and my assumption is that you’ve been doing this for a while now. You’ve already built up a complete collection of online and distance education materials.

This book will show you how to expand what you’ve already created—to, in essence, “clone yourself” so you can reach even more students around the world while earning passive income on the side. Potentially significant passive income. As someone with 25 years’ experience in book publishing, sales, and marketing, I can show you how to self-publish professional quality online and distance education guides that will allow you to supplement your income in an efficient way. I know private teachers are already busy enough as it is, so efficiency is important.

EBOOKS AND AUDIOBOOKS COMPLEMENT ONLINE AND DISTANCE EDUCATION

We all have a preferred learning style and strength whether it be audio, visual, or kinesthetic. Some prefer a more social classroom setting where others prefer a more solitary learning environment. Obviously, ebooks and audiobooks have a great appeal for audio and visual solitary learners, and this is why they’re such a great addition to any online and distance education program.

Your more visual learners will prefer to savour and digest the text in front of them, at their own pace, in the quiet comfort of a preferred learning area. An online and distance education ebook not only allows them to do this, but it also allows them to go back and review what they’ve read, to give it further thought later on.

Audiobooks are also useful online and distance education tools—particularly for the busy adult learners who spend much of their time commuting on a daily basis—whether they’re driving to and from work, or taking their kids to and from extracurricular activities after school. These individuals are often left with little spare time for any kind of “traditional” tutoring, so audiobooks are a welcome online and distance education alternative. It allows them to absorb their lessons during a break at work, a morning jog, on a plane, or even in the car.

WHY SIGNIFICANT INCOME IS POSSIBLE WITH ONLINE AND DISTANCE EDUCATION CAREERS

Over the years, I’ve learned that the traditional (trade) book publishing method doesn’t work well for everyone. I come across more and more professionals who want to publish a book for all kinds of different reasons—to promote a business, educate others, et cetera—and they want it done quickly (e.g., within four to six weeks), and with a minimal upfront investment. This book details the independent publishing method many authors around the world are now using to earn six-figure incomes, and I believe it is a great fit for those who work in the online and distance education field. It provides an opportunity for you to expand your business and genuinely help more students without over-extending your workload.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2017 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

Expand Your ESL Tutoring Service to Reach More Students: How to Self-Publish Professional Quality Ebooks and Audiobooks

Now available through AMAZON and KOBO!

The intention of this book is not to recommend any specific ESL tutoring lesson plans, ideas, or best practices to anyone. My assumption is that, as a certified ESL/TESOL/TESL/TEFL instructor, you already know what you’re doing in this regard. In fact, you’ve most likely been teaching for a while now and have already built up a complete collection of lesson plans for your students.

This book is intended to show you how to expand what you’ve already created—to, in essence, “clone yourself” so you can reach even more students online while earning passive income on the side. I’m a certified TESOL instructor, but I’m an author and book publisher first and foremost. As someone with 25 years’ experience in this industry, I can show you how to self-publish professional quality teaching guides that will allow you to earn supplemental income in an efficient way. I know your ESL tutoring service already has you busy enough as it is!

ESL TUTORING METHODOLOGIES

Every person learns in a different way. Some students are more visual learners who prefer to savour and digest the text in front of them, at their own pace, in the quiet comfort of a favourite learning area. An ebook not only allows them to do this, but it also allows them to go back and review what they’ve read, to give it further thought later on.

But in the world of ESL tutoring, visual “teacher-centric” teaching (e.g., assigning reading exercises, following the direct teaching methodology of demonstrations, visuals, and public speaking) is only a fraction of the coursework, isn’t it? Many would say the most effective way to develop new language skills is through auditory“student-centric” teaching (e.g., assigning hearing and listening exercises, utilizing the communicative and task-based learning approaches that involve fun tasks and group/pair work). In this case, audiobooks are the perfect ESL tutoring tool.

Audiobooks are also useful for the busy adult ESL learners who spend much of their time commuting on a daily basis—whether they’re driving to work, or taking their kids to and from extracurricular activities after school. These individuals are often left with little spare time for any kind of “traditional” ESL tutoring, so audiobooks are a welcome alternative. It allows them to absorb their English lessons during a break at work, a morning jog, on a plane, or even in the car—to fit their ongoing education into their busy lives.

ENGLISH LANGUAGE VARIATIONS IN ESL TUTORING

Every certified ESL tutoring professional knows that English is far from being a simple, straightforward language—all the more reason for you to hire a professional editor from the particular “Western-based” English region you’re trying to emulate in your ebook. There are many different editorial style guides associated with ESL tutoring, depending on which country you wish to represent: United Kingdom, Canada, the United States of America, Australia, et cetera. We all have different ways of spelling and punctuating the English language, so we each use different editorial style guides when editing books.

In this ebook, I’ll be touching on the importance of consistency in editing, particularly when it comes to ESL tutoring. I know of no other self-publishing “how to” guide that offers this type of advice to its readers, so it makes this ebook all the more useful to you.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2017 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

How to Sell a Children’s Book Series: Without Any Prior Sales Experience!

Now available through AMAZON and KOBO!

Who did I write this ebook for? Children’s book authors—aspiring and already published. That’s a given.

But this is not for adults alone. My intention is to take things a step further by providing key information about selling children’s books to both adults and their children. Why? Because if you or your child is anything like me, then that aspiration to write and someday publish began at a very young age. In that case, this will likely be a lifelong passion; so, why not learn some of the business aspects of this industry early on? While some children are encouraged to learn basic economics by setting up lemonade stands on the sidewalks in front of their homes, perhaps others can learn the same skills by self-publishing ebooks online—by following their lifelong passions in the process.

This is how one’s writing career often begins, particularly when that individual starts writing as a child: poetry, short stories, chapter books. Eventually, these works of art may turn into graphic novels or full-length novels. Maybe he or she will stick with fiction or move to non-fiction. Maybe the intended audience will change from children to young adults to adults as the years go by. The good news is, the sky is the limit when it comes to one’s imagination and passion. Both Dr. Seuss and J.K. Rowling have certainly enjoyed years of massive success by sticking with children’s book audiences; so, if that’s where your heart is, stick with it. It’s unnecessary to change who you are or what you desire to write about regardless of others’ opinions on the matter. That’s the truth.

Whatever children’s book is being written, there is a market for it. One simply needs to understand how to reach that target market. There are some fundamentals to the business aspect of book publishing, sales, and marketing that can help every author improve his or her chances of commercial success no matter what type of book is being sold, and that’s what this ebook is about. It outlines, from start to finish, the process that many of today’s most successful independent authors are using to sell thousands of books online each year. If it can work for them, it may well work for you and/or your child.

Since I started seriously writing and enquiring about my publishing options at age 10 myself, I’ve marked the appropriate age range for this ebook as between the ages of 10 and 15 years old even though the topic matter being covered is fairly in-depth. That’s because we’re discussing all kinds of children’s books in here (e.g., novellas, chapter books, picture books, et cetera); and, of course, the intention is for parents to read this book along with your children so you can help them with additional research and understanding as needed.

It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, that all adults who are interested in writing, publishing, and selling children’s books will also gain important insight from this ebook. This book is not only for children and their parents. It’s for everyone who is interested in learning how to sell a children’s book series online.

Why do I refer to “a children’s book series” rather than simply “a children’s book” you’re wondering? There is a very good reason for this. Read on to learn why…

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2017 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

Time-management, Productivity, and Efficiency for Busy Professionals

Jennifer D. Foster, freelance writer, editor, and owner of Planet Word

I think almost all of us are aiming for balance in our professional and personal lives.

I’m not a certified expert on time-management, motivation, or productivity. And I don’t have all the answers. But I’m a fairly successful freelance editor and writer, who’s happy to share the strategies and best practices I use in order to keep my clients happy, juggle multiple editorial jobs, and keep sane in the process.

I’ll give you a brief synopsis of how I got to where I am professionally and what I do, to give you some overall context, then I’ll talk about specifics.

I’m a freelance writer, editor, and mentor, with 20 years’ experience, 14 of those as a freelancer. As the sole proprietor of my business, Planet Word, I wear many hats and tackle many projects. I work on everything from adult and children’s fiction and non-fiction, consumer and trade magazines, web content, newsletters, and ads to style guides, curatorial material, press releases, annual reports, and book reviews. My clients and projects are vast and varied—just how I like it!

My first degree is an honours double major in sociology and mass communications from York University in Toronto. For my second degree, I went to journalism school at Ryerson University, also in Toronto.

After graduating from Ryerson, I got a two-month internship at Chatelaine magazine, while Rona Maynard was editor-in-chief. I wrote a few articles, did some fact-checking, and sat in on editorial meetings, but I wasn’t hired, as there were no staff jobs available. It was a fantastic view into the editorial world, and I wanted more!

I then worked for about three years as assistant editor at Homemakers magazine, under the leadership of Sally Armstrong. She was an inspirational boss and gave me my own section to edit after less than a year there, and after two years there, she sent me on a feature-writing assignment to the Philippines.

After Homemakers, I headed to the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) as writer and editor in the Marketing and Communications department. That was a dream job, where I got to utilize both my editing and my writing skills. On particularly intense or trying days, I’d leave my desk to wander in the galleries, remembering why I was working there in the first place! After 2.5 years, I went on maternity leave and never looked back. When my son, who’s now 14, was six months old, I felt I was going brain dead as a stay-at-home mom and decided to launch Planet Word. I had no idea what I was doing as a new business owner, but I told all of my friends, family, and business contacts that I was available for freelance writing and editing.

Fast-forward to now, where sometimes I’m juggling up to half a dozen client projects at a time, with overlapping deadlines. This is very stressful and extremely demanding, but I find the following strategies help me get through even the most intense work periods.

Know Yourself and Your Work Style

My main tip is to know yourself and your work style and embrace them both wholeheartedly.
I know that I like lots of natural light, myriad lists, an uncluttered work space, lots of herbal teas and salty snacks, great variety in my projects and that I thrive under work pressure. Be your own best friend and work with yourself and your quirks—not against them. Don’t compare yourself to others and how they work: one magic formula does not fit all, and I believe everyone’s a work in progress, so be kind to yourself.

Woody Allen said 80 per cent of success is showing up. I couldn’t agree more, so that’s why I make an effort every work day, which is often seven days a week, to wake early, eat a decent breakfast, get dressed (yes, no pyjamas or sweats for me!), and be at my computer for 9 am. I treat my freelancing for what it is—a successful business and a professional undertaking. Call me crazy, but I feel very unmotivated and unprofessional sitting at my desk in pyjamas. Getting dressed and being at my desk for 9 am gets me into the right frame of mind to work.

Carpe Diem

I’m high energy, detail-oriented, and work well under lots of pressure. I think that’s how I came out of the womb! But I’m always open to trying new strategies, and I know that I have room for ongoing improvement. My theory is carpe diem. Treat each job as a privilege. And take each day as a gift and run with it. Which brings me to another tip: don’t procrastinate! I know—we all do it. But try and jump into a project right away. As a freelancer, I never know what’s coming down the pipe and when, so I need to tackle each project as soon as possible.

Speaking of trying something new, I wanted to share a time-management method that I discovered last year, while I was writing a feature on beating writer’s block for Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market. It’s called the Pomodoro Technique. In a nutshell, this is how it works:

Step one: Pick your task.

Step two: Set a timer (traditionally, it’s for 25 minutes).

Step three: Work on that sole task until your timer rings.

Step four: Put a checkmark on a piece of paper after the timer rings.

Step five: If you have fewer than four checkmarks, take a short break (typically, it’s for three to five minutes) and then go back to step two.

Step six: After you have a total of four pomodoros, take a longer break (typically, it’s for 15 to 30 minutes). Reset your checkmark count back to zero and then return to the first step.

The main premise is to work in 25-minute blocks of time (called “pomodoro sessions”), followed by breaks. Each pomodoro session requires your full attention on a single task and then you take a break. The supposed results are improved productivity, burnout elimination, work-life balance and distraction-management.

Maybe some of you may have already tried it, and maybe it works for you. I tried it a few times, but I realized I’m more of a head-down, just-get-the-job-done kind of gal, so the timer going off was, ironically, a major distraction for me, and I found this method more irritating than anything, so I ditched it!

Make Lists

I’ll confess that I’m a list junkie. I make lists for almost everything, whether it’s business or personal, and I get a thrill crossing things off the list. My husband’s now doing it, after years of initially thinking I was crazy! He was always amazed at how much I’d get done in a day, and I told him it’s partly because I thrive on using lists. Now he’s a convert, and sometimes we jokingly fight over who will get to cross completed tasks off the chore list! Crossing jobs off a list gives me a great sense of purpose and accomplishment, and it motivates me to see lines through completed projects and tasks. I used lists with all my in-house jobs, and I’ve continued that method with freelancing.

It may shock you to know, however, that I work with a hard copy calendar and pen-and-paper lists—call me a dinosaur, but I love to get and stay organized on paper. I spend so much of my day on a screen that it’s a welcome change to actually use my hand to write, though my handwriting is atrocious! I have a work calendar that gives me a month at a glance, as I’m one of those people who needs to see the big picture, as well as the details. I write down when projects are due, and that way I can see where the bottlenecks are/could be, and that helps me know right away if I can take on any more work. I also use lots of highlighters and different coloured pens, so projects and deadlines stand out.

I make a list for the upcoming work week, usually on Sunday night, so I know what is due when and to whom for the upcoming week. That’s a smaller version, if you will, of the bigger picture. If my workload is light for that week, then I put on my marketing hat, contacting clients I haven’t heard from in a while, reminding them I’m available for work, or contacting potential clients (and yes, I have a list of potential clients!). Before going to bed, I add to the list, cross off tasks completed or move them to a newly created list. I also have an organized plan for each work day and that keeps me on track and motivated. Maybe there are apps or programs to do this, but hard copies work for me.

I also find creating editorial checklists helpful, depending on the size of the project. If it’s only a few pages, then I don’t create one. But if it’s a major project, like copy editing a 300-page cookbook, I develop a checklist in addition to the style guide I’m using. They are often a simple Word doc or sometimes I write out my checklist. I usually use the checklist at the beginning and at the end of my project, to ensure I’ve been thorough.

Get Through Every Email

Another time-management and motivation strategy I use is making it a priority to get through all of my emails before the end of each day. It’s a quirk of mine, and I realize it sounds freakishly anal and maybe impossible, but, again, this a strategy that works for me. I find it soul-crushing to open up my email in the morning, only to find a long stream of neglected emails/clients. Sometimes that just means a quick and professional acknowledgment of the email, stating that I’ll respond in more detail the next day or very soon.

Regular Breaks, Exercise, and Self Rewards

Another tip: I make time each day for regular breaks and exercise. They are essential for my sanity and my productivity. I do weekly hatha yoga, and I have an ex-racer greyhound who needs multiple daily walks. Exercise helps me manage stress and allows me to brainstorm or work through an issue I may be having with something I’m writing or editing. Bestselling author Gretchen Rubin says that doing 10 jumping jacks will boost your mood and increase your energy. I haven’t tried that yet, but maybe I should! Even when I was an in-house editor at Homemakers and especially at the AGO, I took time for regular breaks. As I mentioned, on particularly stressful days, I’d wander in the galleries, enjoying my favourite Emily Carrs and Tom Thomsons. I have very fond memories of the Yoko Ono, William Wegman and Hermitage exhibitions because I was able to enjoy the art during a weekday morning, often avoiding all the ugly weekend and afternoon crowds. For me, breaks are a form of escapism and regeneration, a chance to lose the work chains and give my brain time to recharge and think freely, which really aids in efficiency and motivation.

I’m also a big believer in self-rewards. I will say to myself that after I get X number of pages edited or y number of pages written, I will treat myself to, for example, wandering in some of my favourite neighbourhood shops or cafes, watching a BBC show, or to some pleasure reading.

Also, I take advantage of any downtime or lulls in work. Freelancing is feast or famine, so I use downtime to re-energize, strategize, and sometimes make more lists! I visit arts and antique markets, visit with friends or family, or think of potential new clients or story ideas. I also meet with fellow editors and writers to commiserate, often sharing work tips and strategies.

Just Say “No!”

Another tactic I use is just saying “No!” No to a client, no to a volunteer opportunity, and even no to myself for doing any more work that day. My theory is, it’s better to pass on a project than to take it on and do a less-than-spectacular job and ruin your precious reputation. Clients appreciate the honesty, which keeps your integrity as an editor intact. Almost every client I’ve ever said no to has come back another time with another job or another part of the job I originally declined. I recently had to turn down a copy editing project for a main client because of prior work commitments, but I was approached by that client again several weeks later to proofread the same project. Fortunately, I was able to say yes then.

I also don’t have a problem with making some nights a “get-your-own-meal” or “cereal night” at our house. My husband likes to cook, but he gets home from work around 7 pm. He is very understanding and so is our teenaged son. They’re used to this occurrence and know that sometimes a decent weekday meal isn’t going to happen, because “Mom’s on deadline again!”

Switch to Something New

Another way for me to meet deadlines and stay motivated is to work on multiple projects in one day or just switch to a different project altogether. As I mentioned, I wrote a feature last year for Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market on beating writer’s block, and many of the writers, editors, publishers, and writing instructors I interviewed do this. If my mind is wandering or if I need a break, I put aside that project and start on another. For example, if I just can’t look at that annual report pdf one more time, I’ll try writing a page for my YA novel, start working on my next book review for Canadian Children’s Book News, or research or brainstorm potential authors for the next season of Rowers Readers Series, for which I’m the administrative director. Sometimes that’s all I need to feel motivated to finish or return to the first project.

Positive Energy, Kind People

My final strategy is, surround yourself with positive, kind people. I express regular gratitude to those people in my life, as I know success is never a solo venture. It may sound cliché, but having family and friends who are supportive and respectful of you and your work will do wonders for your self-esteem and your peace of mind, which in turn has a favourable effect on your productivity, motivation and efficiency.

*****

Jennifer D. Foster is a Toronto, Canada-based freelance writer, editor, and mentor. She’s been in the writing and editing business for two decades, and her company is Planet Word. Jennifer’s clients are from the book and custom publishing, magazine, and marketing and communications fields and include The Globe and Mail, Art Gallery of Ontario, D. F. Plett Historical Research Foundation, McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Canadian Children’s Book News, Dundurn Press, Ontario Dental Association, and Firefly Books. When she’s not busy spilling ink for her first novel, walking her greyhound, Aquaman, or reading, Jennifer enjoys travelling, antiquing, gardening, camping and yoga. She’s a long-time mentor to novice editors via Editors Canada and novice writers via the Professional Writers Association of Canada. Jennifer is chair of Editors Toronto and administrative director of the Rowers Reading Series. Find her online at lifeonplanetword.wordpress.com.