What’s in it for me?

What's in it for me_

We would love to tell you that all readers are motivated by a pure interest in hearing your story and supporting you as an author. But honestly, those traits likely only apply to one person… your mother. The truth is that readers choose books based on the question “What’s in it for me?” In the same way that people purchase food to satisfy their hunger and hire plumbers to fix their drains, readers buy books that will do something for them: either entertain, inspire or educate.

While the idea of self-interest may seem greedy, it has been proven to be one of the greatest generators of capitalistic societies, such as the one we enjoy in the United States. In his acclaimed work The Wealth of Nations, published in 1776, Scottish philosopher Adam Smith notes that free markets are enabled by the self-interest of its laborers:

It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.

With this information in hand, we must change our approach to marketing, In his book, Sell Your Book Like WildfireRob Eager states:

You will maximize the power of your marketing when you take the focus off yourself and place it on satisfying the self-interests of others. Let go of the idea that the public may be fascinated that you’re an author. Concentrate on answering their internal question: ‘What’s in it for me?’

So what does this look like practically?

1. Offer expert insight

When searching for a recipe, why do we often seek out successful chefs’ cookbooks? Because we want assurance that the recipe is tried and true and will turn out just as expected. In the same way, your reader has a problem they are trying to solve. They need an expert to help them. They don’t want advice from a novice.

I’m not expert, you may be thinking. But wait. Have you experienced something, learned from it and come through the other side with fresh insight and wisdom? Then you are an expert in that  subject.

  • Have you walked through a difficult divorce and found wholeness and healing? You’re an expert.
  • Have you started a business, launched a product or been promoted through your field? You’re an expert.
  • Have you walked through infertility, miscarriage, or extended singleness and still found God to be faithful? You’re an expert.

Leverage these experiences to offer hope, help and tips to those who are at the beginning of a similar journey.

2. Offer value

Tell the reader specifically what value your book offers.

Instead of saying:

This book chronicles my experience with cancer,

say

I will help you face cancer as an informed and empowered patient.

Which would you be more likely to purchase?

Rob Eager suggests using “value statements” in your marketing. These statements begin with the phrase “I will help you _________,” such as:

  • I will help you live with confidence instead of fear.
  • I will help your company build teams that finish tasks faster with less conflict.
  • I will help you regain the pain-free life you used to enjoy.

3. Put yourself in your reader’s shoes

Who is your reader? Why are they looking for a book on your subject? What problem are they trying to solve? One of the best ways to put yourself in your reader’s shoes is to think back to why you chose to write your book. Rob Eager asks:

What was the big reason that drove you to expend so much mental and emotional effort? consider the central reasons you were motivated to write you book. Had you recently overcome a challenge? Did you see injustice that needed to be addressed? Were you moved by the headlines that laid the foundation for a compelling story? If you experienced a personal result in your own life that led you to write your book, then that same result is probably true for many of you readers…

Thus, examine how the message of your book improved your own life. then use that knowledge to write powerful value statements for others.

At Certa Publishing, we see every day the value that our authors offer. We are passionate about helping you spread your message and attract as many readers as possible. Contact us today to see how we can partner with you.

 

 

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7 Easy Steps to a Killer Blog Post

7 EASY STEPS TO A KILLER BLOG POST

Let’s be honest. The internet is full of blah blog posts. We’ve all clicked on them, only to know within the first paragraph that we won’t be back. But you are capable of so much more…capable of writing a killer blog post that keeps the reader hooked from start to finish.

Karen Hertzberg, of the Grammarly blog, has compiled a great list of tips to get you started on your next post. Enjoy!

You sit down. You stare at your screen. The cursor blinks. So do you. Anxiety sets in. Where do you begin when you want to create an article that will earn you clicks, comments, and social shares? This simple formula will show you how to write a blog post by guiding you from blank page to finished work.

1. Choose your blog post topic

I know quite a few writers whose abandoned personal blogs are languishing in some dark corner of the Internet. These writers launched their blogs with joy and enthusiasm, but their momentum fizzled because they found it too hard to keep coming up with inspiring topics. Don’t let this happen to you. Here are some great ways to choose a topic that will resonate with your audience.

  • Pick something you’re passionate about. When you care about your topic, you’ll write about it in a more powerful, emotionally expressive way.
  • Pick something your readers are passionate about. What does your audience care about? It’s important to know so you can engage them. And don’t be afraid to go negative (e.g. Ten “Healthy” Foods You Should Always Avoid). The human negativity bias is legit.
  • Get inspired by research. Some of the best articles I’ve written germinated when I grew curious about a subject and decided to explore it.
  • Get inspired by other writers. No, I don’t mean you should plagiarize or blatantly copy ideas. But you can take a look at what your competition is writing about and put your own spin on these subjects. What new information or ideas can you bring to the table?

Keep a log of every topic idea that comes your way. You never know when you’re going to be stumped by the question “What should I write?”

Here’s a tip: Use a bookmarking tool like Pocket or EverNote to store clips and notes. Use your clip file for inspiration whenever your idea well runs dry.

2. Pick one clear angle

You’ve got a topic. Awesome! Now, what’s your angle? Avoid a broad approach—get specific. You’ll get overwhelmed if you pick a huge subject like organic vegetable gardening and try to cover it all. Instead, go with “10 Budget-Friendly Ways to Start an Organic Vegetable Garden.”

Think about the best approach to your topic. If you want to explain how to do something, a step-by-step how-to article could work well. Want to write about your favorite autobiographies or offer your best tips for throwing a memorable dinner party? Consider a listicle. There’s nothing wrong with a straight-up essay, either, as long as it’s well-organized.

Speaking of which . . .

3. Get organized

Whenever my dad had a disagreement with someone, he’d make his case and then storm off, but inevitably come back minutes later, one finger raised in proclamation, saying, “And another thing!” He did this so often that it became a running family joke.

Don’t write like my dad debated. Many bloggers make the mistake of not organizing their thoughts before they begin, which leads to “and another thing” writing. You’ll continue adding thoughts in a random, incoherent fashion. Articles like that don’t get read and shared, they get ignored.

If you’ve ever grown impatient while listening to someone tell a story, wanting them to just get to the point, then you know what it’s like to read an article that lacks organization. My dear content creators, no one wants to try to fish a few salient points out of your stream of consciousness.

Organize your thoughts with an outline to make your message focused and clear for your readers.

Check back soon for Karen’s last four tips to writing a killer blog post!

At Certa Publishing, we aim to offer our authors all the tools they need to get their message from the head to the page. Contact us today to see how we can partner with you.

The Do’s & Don’ts of Writing About Family

The Do's & Don'tsof Writing About Family

It’s coming. That Christmas family dinner at your home. Or the annual family gingerbread house competition. Or your yearly trek across the country to visit mom, Grandma, and cousins. Inevitably these events include some sort of reminiscing…about past practical jokes, hilarious childhood mishaps and even sentimental discussions of family members who are no longer with us. Yet under the surface of these sweet memories runs the undercurrent of less delightful ones…the pain of a divorce, reminders of abuse or unforgiven wounds that you’d rather forget.

As a writer, we promise that this thought will strike you more than once this holiday season. I really should write a book about my (crazy, sweet, dysfunctional) family. But as soon as the thought arrives, common sense will knock it down. I could never dishonor them by opening up our family history for anyone to read. No, those hilarious/ridiculous/turbulent memories belong only to us.

Will you please kindly reconsider? There are few more powerful narratives than those written from the author’s own experience. Yes, there are brilliant fiction writers who can conjure up fantastic stories, yet nothing carries the weight of someone’s actual experience.

In our recent post, Writing from Pain, we noted:

There is one phrase spoken during difficult times that can either draw you in or push you away: I know how you feel. When spoken by someone who has not walked in your shoes, this phrase can be difficult to hear. Yet when spoken by one who has experienced your pain, it can bring great relief. In fact, during periods of suffering, we often seek out those who truly know how we feel because their experiences and advice bring us comfort.

Yes, it will take great courage to tell your family’s story, but the resulting benefit to your readers will be tremendous.

So, once you’ve decided to embark on this journey, it is important to take into consideration these four factors:

1. Find the “why”

Like any book you write, a family memoir needs a purpose. It is important to define why you are writing this book. And here are a few reasons why you should not write it:

  • To tell your side of the story
  • To get revenge on a family member
  • To expose a family member
  • To get the information “off your chest”

Instead, ask the Lord to help you synthesize the work He has done in your life as a result of the family he placed you in. Has He taught you to forgive? To overcome? Has he given you the opportunity to serve the sick, disabled, or lonely? Perhaps you’ve walked through a divorce and found Him faithful to pick up the pieces of your life. These lessons make incredible foundations for books because they offer the reader hope and tools that they can use as they walk on a similar journey.

2. Write about whole people, not stereotypes

As an author, you have immense power over the way your family is portrayed in your writing. By focusing on certain stories, qualities or quirks, you can easily (and unfairly) misrepresent someone to the reader. Be vigilant about writing about them as whole people, not stereotypes. Was your father an abuser? Perhaps. But that’s not all there is to his story. Find a way to write about him in context.

In her post for Reader’s Digest, Kerry Cohen, advises:

Writing about others with compassion means writing about them as whole people. Your parents are not only the people who did those crappy things to you when you were 10 years old. They are also people who were once children themselves, who also had parents who may or may not have done crappy things to them. Maybe one grew up in a Detroit ghetto and had to share a can of beans with three other siblings for dinner every night. Or maybe the other grew up in a time when women were treated like possessions. Or maybe no one ever talked to either of them about sex when they were teens, or they were bullied as children, or they had to learn to speak English in a strange, unforgiving country.

3. Be upfront with your family

Please don’t let your family find out about your book from someone else. If you have the courage to write about your family, then you must first have the courage to tell them you’re going to do it. Approach the discussion with confidence and purpose.

Instead of saying,

Mom and Dad, I’m going to write about what a disaster our family is,

try…

Mom and Dad, you know that we had some tumultuous times in our family, and the Lord taught me so much about how to overcome and forgive. I’d love to share my story so that others can learn from my experience.

I think you’ll find that the second presentation will earn you a great deal more support, even if they still aren’t crazy about the idea.

In her post, How to Write About Your Family… Without Getting DisownedKellie McGann shares her own experience of talking to her parents about her memoir:

To my surprise, after I explained that I wanted to share our story to inspire and encourage others, they were supportive. They joked about the ridiculous things my mother says and how that deserves a book of it’s own.

This step is especially important as you approach the publishing phase. Having a conversation prepares the person, and is a professional way to approach the situation.

To be honest, it will also relieve some of your stress. Whether the conversation goes well or poorly, you know what their reaction will be, and they know the deeper reason you want to share the story.

4. Write from a place of forgiveness

This one is so important that we didn’t know whether we should put it first or last! If you still harbor unforgiveness towards your family members, you simply cannot continue your writing. Otherwise, bitterness will become the undertone of your manuscript, whether you like it or not. And honestly, God cannot bless the work.

Instead of seeing this as an obstacle to your work, we encourage you to thank God for the opportunity to face your unforgiveness head on and to deal with it once and for all. Friend, we promise you that there is no greater freedom than releasing someone else from the bonds of your resentment. As they are freed, so you shall be.

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13)

At Certa Publishing we believe in helping our authors tell the story God has given them to tell. How can we help you? Contact us today.

From Bland to Breathtaking: How to spice up your writing

 

FROM BLAND

Are you ready to take your writing to the next level? Enjoy this excerpt of 9 Easy Tips that Will Improve Your Writing by Karen Hertzberg of the Grammarly blog:

Just like food, your writing needs spice. Keep these tips in your cupboard to take your writing from bland to scrumptious.

About a year ago, I got interested in cooking. For most of my adult life, I’d been making things like spaghetti with sauce from a jar, macaroni and cheese complete with powdered “cheese,” and the occasional boxed meal (just add ground beef!). Sometimes, I went a little wild and threw some canned tuna into the mac and cheese, or added real frozen broccoli to the boxed meal. My family ate it. They didn’t know any better.

But then, spurred on by a retired chef I befriended, I decided to give cooking a try. Real cooking. I bought fresh veggies and meats. I practiced until I had the knife skills to slice, dice, and julienne. I learned that stovetop burners aren’t meant to be set to high heat unless you’re trying to boil something. (Who knew?) I learned that basic salt and pepper make everything delicious. Throw in some well-chosen herbs and spices, and I can elevate the taste of my food to a whole new level. The kind that makes another friend kiss the backs of his fingertips like a French chef in an old movie and declare my meals delectable.

Writing is a lot like cooking. You can string together bland, canned phrases and hope that readers who don’t know any better won’t mind, or you can pull some spicy new tricks off the shelf and make your content truly delish.

The Basics

Before you can improve your cooking skills, you’ve got to learn a few basics. It’s the same with writing. Keep your text lean, use flavorful language, and express yourself confidently.

1. Begin with lean writing.

Flabby writing is unpalatable. Trim excess adverbs and use strong verbs or adjectives instead. (The comedian wasn’t very funny, she was hilarious.) Learn what a preposition is and how to streamline prepositional phrases. (The car didn’t come over the top of the hill, it crested the hill.) Slash extraneous words and phrases.

2. But don’t make it too lean.

Just as a cut of meat can be so lean that it’s dry and lacking flavor, writing that’s overly sanitized can sound sterile. Using an occasional adverb as a conscious style choice can make your writing sound more natural and conversational. Just don’t overdo it. Every adverb you use should have to justify its existence. If you can’t explain why you think it enhances your text, then out it goes.

3. Write with confidence.

Timid knife skills are dangerous when cooking. Timid language is a danger to writing.

Are you hedging your bets, using language that sounds unsure and wishy-washy? Eliminate phrases like you may want toit’s possible that, and they can try, and weasel words like probably and sometimes.

You don’t have to give your readers an out clause unless you’re truly sure that what you’re suggesting might not work. And, in that case, ask yourself why you’re suggesting it in the first place.

4. Use powerful words and imagery . . .

If you use a lot of “to be” verbs (be, am, is, are, was, were, been, being) or other linking verbs (appear, feel, look, seem, remain, sound), search for opportunities to spice up your writing with livelier verb choices.

Weak Verb

Alex felt anxious when it was time to give his speech.

Rather than telling the reader that Alex felt anxious, paint a word picture. Help the reader see Alex and recognize the feelings Alex is experiencing. The example below uses strong verbs and the time-honored advice given to writers: show, don’t tell.

Strong Verb

Alex’s hand trembled as he adjusted the microphone. His heart hammered in his chest.

5 . . . but keep your language simple.

Yes, use colorful, expressive language. But no, don’t hunt through your thesaurus in search of exotic words no one’s going to recognize. Don’t use fancy words just for the sake of it.

Keep your audience in mind. I had a colleague years back who regularly used SAT words that sent even those of us with stellar vocabularies scrambling for our dictionaries. We wrote for the video game industry. The average gamer is plenty intelligent, but most don’t flock to read articles full of words like cynosureexcogitate, and perspicacious. What a sesquipedalian that guy was!

Once you’ve mastered these basics, it’s time to find your writing style. Tune in next time as we share the remainder of Ms. Hertzberg’s article.

At Certa Publishing, we love partnering with authors who are passionately pursuing quality writing. How can we help you? Contact us today!

Don’t Let These Writing Myths Hold You Back

Don't Let These Writing Myths Hold You Back

Most writers don’t start out as such. Instead, they are often insurance adjusters, school teachers, associate pastors or immersed in any number of other “ordinary” careers. And then slowly the Lord begins to shine His light upon the gift He’s given them. As the desire to be a writer grows in their hearts and minds, a mental roadblock often appears. But I’m not a writer. Writers are moody… or dysfunctional… or grammar Nazis. I’m just an electrician with 3 kids and a mortgage. I don’t fit the type. I won’t make it in the field of writing.

We are here to dismantle that roadblock and these other myths about writing that may be holding you back.

Myth No. 1: All writers hate their day jobs

Often we assume that writers spend their 9-to-5 hours trapped in a dreary cubicle, counting down the ticks of the clock until they can escape and do what they really love… write. This is a myth. Just like the successful doctor who also runs triathlons or the thriving high school teacher who plays in the community orchestra, many part-time writers are perfectly fulfilled in their primary occupations. In fact, authors frequently attribute part of their success to the inspiration and preparation that their day jobs provided.  So whether you plan to make writing a career or not, we encourage you to give yourself fully to all the work you do!

Myth No. 2: Writers lead dysfunctional lives (and that makes them better)

On the contrary, to be a successful writer, your life needs to be balanced, functional and firing on all cylinders. Meeting deadlines, handling critique and rejection… these all require soundness of mind and a steady composition. Sure, there are famous examples of writers who churned out bestselling work in between bouts in rehab, but this is not the norm and certainly not recommended. Make every effort to be emotionally, physically and spiritually healthy, and there you will do your best work.

Myth No. 3: All writers are ex-English majors

Great writing does not require a complete mastery of the APA Formatting & Style Guide. Still not sure when to use a semi-colon? Occasionally misuse there/their/they’re? You are not disqualified as a writer. Editors exist for a reason. If grammar is not your strength, utilize all the grammar tools you can find and hire a quality editor. Embrace your weakness, do what you can to improve, and don’t be restrained from using your gift of writing.

Myth No. 4: All writers are hermits

The bearded, pipe-smoking writer sits on the front porch of his mountain cabin, surveying the scenery as inspiration floods his mind. Is that the view you have of great writers? Sure, many find solitude helpful in getting work done, but there are plenty of successful authors who write in car lines, buses and noisy Starbucks corners. There are also many writers who are full of personality and don’t exhibit the stereotypical traits of the introverted genius.

In a recent Certa post, we excerpted author Jon Acuff, who wrote:

In our heads we see a small isolated cabin in a quiet patch of woods. There’s a porch with a swing out front. We sit on that when we need a break from all the amazing words we’ve written inside. There’s not much behind that cabin door, just a humble table like Hemingway probably used, a chair our grandfather made by hand and some sort of way to gather our words. For some, it’s a stack of fresh, white paper and a favorite pen. Others see a typewriter that makes real clickity clack sounds with each brilliant word you capture. The days pile up as the pages do too and we emerge from this literary sabbatical with a book and a beard. (Unless you’re a lady, the beard is not nearly as cool in your story.)

I thought that would be my life when I became a full time writer.

He goes on to explain how this is not his reality, nor the reality of most writers he knows. Don’t buy the lie that there is a one-size-fits-all personality type that all authors must fit in to.

At Certa Publishing, we love nothing more than watching someone discover their God-given gift of writing, and then help that gift bloom right there in the midst of their every day lives. Contact us today so we can partner with you!

 

 

 

Pro-Tips You Can’t Ignore

 

Pro-Tips you can't ignore

 

If I set a goal to run a marathon a year from now, who should I seek advice from? My co-worker who runs the treadmill twice a week? My neighbor who has been trying to finish a 5K for the past three years? Or my old college roommate who runs (and finishes) 4 marathons a year? That choice is easy.

When it comes to writing advice, we encourage you to seek out the marathon runners… those who have pushed past the initial growing pains, endured more than a few bad reviews (or even books that have bombed), and have managed to establish a successful career.

Today we offer you such an opportunity! We’re excerpting an article written by bestselling author and former publishing executive, Michael Hyatt. In What I’ve Learned About Blogging From Writing More Than 1,000 Posts, Mr. Hyatt lends us the wisdom he has gleaned from many years in the trenches as an author, specifically as a blogger. Enjoy!

I started blogging eight years ago. Since that time, I have written 1,115 posts. At an average of 750 words per post, that is 836,250 total words—the equivalent of about fourteen full-length books.

During that time, I have learned a great deal about blogging:

  • I’ve had times when I felt creative and the posts flowed—and times when I couldn’t string two sentences together.
  • I’ve had times when I loved writing and didn’t want to stop—and times when I hated writing and couldn’t start.
  • I’ve had times when I thought about starting a second or third blog—and times when I wanted to quit the one I have.

I think I have just about experienced it all.

But I keep going, one post at a time. Why? Because blogging has benefited me in seven specific ways:

  1. Blogging has helped clarify my own thinking. This is the single biggest benefit of blogging to me. It’s why I started blogging to begin with. Sometimes I joke that I don’t really know what I think about a subject until I have blogged about it. Writing helps me untangle my thoughts.
  2. Blogging has given me a way to build a platform. When I started, a platform involved having a radio or television show, a bestselling book, or a highly visible speaking career. It took money, fame, or both. It was mostly unavailable to the average person. Since that time, blogging has provided a way for almost anyone to gain visibility and build an audience.
  3. Blogging has led to new opportunities. Probably half my friends today are people I met through my blog or social media. In addition, almost all my income today is derived either directly or indirectly from my blog—advertising, product sales, speaking, consulting etc. It has even provided the raw material for several books.
  4. Blogging has provided a way to engage with my tribe. My commenting system enables my readers to respond to my posts and to engage with one another. This has gone to a whole new level with the addition of my “Community Leaders.” These comments provide near-instant feedback and sharpen my own thinking. They have made me a better, more thoughtful writer.
  5. Blogging has resulted in a treasure trove of content. I am increasingly finding new ways to re-purpose the content in my blog archives. In the last year alone, I have used it to write two books (i.e., Creating Your Personal Life Plan and Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World), launch a new podcast, and record a new audio program.
  6. Blogging has established my authority and expertise. It used to be that you had to get a Ph.D. or write a book to establish your expertise in a subject area. While these are still valid paths, blogging provides a third alternative. For example, I do not have a degree in leadership nor have I written a book on that topic. Yet, I am constantly asked to speak on leadership and am interviewed by the media on this topic. Why? Because I have one of the most popular leadership blogs.
  7. Blogging has provided a way to contribute to others. It is the way I share what I have been given. I love curating information and packaging it up so that it is more easily digested. When I hear or read something stimulating, I want to pass it along. For me, blogging is my art. It is a labor of love.

One of the best parts of blogging is that you can learn as you go. Not every post has to be perfect. You can publish and tweak your way to success. The important thing is to start. And, if you have started, keep going.

At Certa Publishing, we encourage our authors to write, write, write! Perhaps you have a neglected blog that can be dusted off and made fresh. Or maybe you’ve never given blogging a try. We hope Mr. Hyatt’s article inspires you to make full use of this valuable tool!

Contact us today to see how Certa can come alongside you in your publishing process.

Have You Overlooked This Free (but Amazing) Marketing Tool?

 

Have you overlooked this free (but amazing) marketing tool- (1)

 

The writing world is full of expensive marketing tools. But there is one completely free tool that many authors are either neglecting entirely or failing to use to it’s potential: the Amazon Author Page.

But I already have a website, a Facebook page, and a LinkedIn page… do I really need this too? YES. While your other platforms may be well-done and informational, they are often only found when a reader intentionally seeks you out. However, an Amazon Author Page “lives” where readers live: on Amazon. Once the reader has found one of your books, it only takes one click to send them to this in-depth resource. And did we mention that it is free?

Still not sure what we’re talking about? Head over to author Paul Wilbur’s Amazon Author Page. With the help of Certa, Paul was able to create a dynamic, informative page that is helping him sell books and engage with his readers.

So let’s get started:

  1. Head here and follow the instructions for setting up your page.
  2. Add a biography. That’s the blurb that shows up on the left of the page. Make it brief, yet amazing. (You’re a writer after all!) Don’t forget to mention any awards you’ve won and links to your other platforms (website, social media, etc). Be sure to include your Twitter handle, since Amazon will auto-update your page with your latest tweets (yet another reason to keep those tweets interesting and fresh.)
  3. Add events. Include upcoming speaking events, book tour dates or podcast releases. Be sure to keep this up-to-date and remove any old events. Few things will send readers to that BACK button like seeing a 2-year old event on your page.
  4. Add as many photos as it allows. First, include your headshot, but feel free to get creative with the others. Your photos should reflect your genre and personality. Are you a travel writer? Include photos of your destinations. Does your cat make frequent appearances in your work? Include Fluffy’s picture! Readers love getting to know you better.
  5. Be sure that all of your books are listed. Many readers visit Author Pages to find the writer’s other work.
  6. Customize your URL. Instead of an Amazon-issued URL like http://amazon.com/john-smith/e/F007KHIY6, you can have http://amazon.com/johnsmith. Definitely more attractive.
  7. Add the RSS feed to your blog and new posts will automatically show up on your page. This is another great way to offer your reader a deeper insight into who you are and create meaningful connections.
  8. Use the “Customer Reviews” tab to respond to reader reviews. Readers LOVE to receive a personal comment from an author. This type of one-on-one contact can quickly turn a passive reader into an adoring fan.

In her post, How to Optimize Your Amazon Author Central Page, tech expert Carla King sums it up this way:

Amazon loves to sell books and Author Central gives us the opportunity to make more money, which, of course, helps them make more money.  So take advantage of it. Make it a living page by keeping it current and embedding your RSS feeds so that it’s always fresh and new.  (And make sure you’re updating your blog!)  List your in-person and virtual events. List your custom URL on your website, business card, and your email signatures.  If you’re like most authors, you’ll sell more books via Amazon than any other retailer.  Optimize here, and boost that number even higher.

Perhaps you find this all a bit intimidating. We understand! That’s why at Certa Publishing we specialize in walking with our authors each step of the way. Need help setting up your Amazon Author Page? We’d love to be of service! Contact us today.

Have the Confidence to Market Your Book

have the confidence to market your book

Just because you are an amazing writer doesn’t mean you are great at marketing. This realization can be very intimidating to new authors… enough so that it can spell the demise of a very valuable book. In our recent post, I’m a Writer, Not a Salesperson! we articulated this quandary:

You’re a pastor. Or maybe an elder in your local church. You might be a stay-at-home mom or a teacher. But you’re probably not a professional salesperson. So now that you’ve written a book, it needs to be sold and you’re feeling a little squeamish. Why? Because it’s likely that your initial “customers” will be friends and family, and that feels awkward. You don’t want to be that friend or family member who is selling a product and making everyone feel obligated to buy it. And yet, you need the support and word-of-mouth marketing of your inner circle. So how do you sell your book to those closest to you without it getting all weird?

We suggested three ways to push through this self-doubt:

  • Be confident
  • Be helpful
  • Be authentic.

In his recent post, 3 Reasons We Need You to Shout, bestselling author Jon Acuff offers inspiration for writers who feel less than up to the task of marketing:

For a lot of people, the hardest part of a project is what happens after it’s done.

It’s one thing to start a business, write a book, make an album or become a photographer.

It’s another thing to tell people you did one of those things.

The creation is hard, but for lots of peopl e, the marketing of it is even harder.

The temptation is to go quiet, to get shy with our work.

I don’t think you should do that.

In fact, here are 3 reasons we need you to shout:

1. People will miss it.

Whenever we do a book tour, I do my best to tell people about it online. I blog about it. I tweet about it. I post it on Facebo

ok and LinkedIN and Instagram. I feel like I talk about it so much that I’m bothering people. The day after each tour stop, I post a photo of the event. Every time, someone sees the photo and says, “I wish I had known you were coming to my city. I would have loved to come to your event!” I might have felt like I was over-talking it but the reality is that the only person who sees everything you say, is you. Most people miss most things you say unless you say them more times than you are comfortable.

2. It’s not for the haters.

There might be people who get mad that you’re talking about your thing, but guess what? They’re not your audience. Those handful of people weren’t going to buy your thing anyway. Whether you promote it 10 times or 100, they weren’t going along for the ride. Knowing that, why should we let them dictate how we promote our thing?

3. We need it.

If you’ve got something you believe will help people, hiding it isn’t humility, it’s cowardice. We get this in other professions. If my toilet explodes and you’re a plumber, not telling me you can help isn’t a kindness to me. I don’t think, “I’m so glad they didn’t over promote.” I think, “I wish I had a plumber.” If you believe in your work and it will help people, share it.

The biggest thing you have to remember is this, if you’re worried about sharing it too much, you’re already in a good place. You know who never worries about over promoting? People who are over promoting. The act of concern indicates you’re already going to be taking a careful, considerate road.

At Certa Publishing we have helped countless authors grow from marketing novices to experts. Contact us today so we can partner with you!

So what’s your excuse?

so what is your excuse-

The idea for a book comes. You lay at night pondering, “writing” aloud, crafting the perfect illustrations, imagining the cover, chapter titles, and the dramatic opening line. Yet as pen goes to paper, doubt creeps in.

Does anyone really want to read this?

My topic is too niche. My experience is too unique.

No one knows who I am.

How will my book even get noticed?

And if I do manage to write this book, who will want to publish it?

The obstacles are too great, the path too unsure. 

No, I’m not the person to write a book. Perhaps I’ll just blog or journal. That’s the extent of it.

Before you shelve that dream entirely, let’s consider another writer who faced more obstacles than most could imagine, and had every excuse possible to lay down the pen.

John, the disciple, sat inside a prison camp on the dusty, secluded island of Patmos. This tiny outpost near present-day Turkey in the Aegean Sea was the perfect place to be forgotten. To die in obscurity. To fade away. Instead, John wrote the book of Revelation, which is the final authority on the end times and spells out our hope of the Lord’s return.

I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.  I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea. (Revelation 1:9-11)

While many of Christ’s disciples were executed, John met a different fate. He was arrested and sent to Patmos, where prisoners were sentenced to work in the island’s mines. Surely the Lord’s command to “write what you see in a book,” must have caught him by surprise. Write a book? While imprisoned? Even if he could find the time and materials to do so, how would his writing ever be distributed? It seems John had quite a plausible excuse to lay down his pen.

And yet, he wrote. We don’t know exactly how his writings were “published,” but we can be certain that Lord’s hand guided the process. What faith John must have had to pour out his visions onto paper, never knowing if they would be read or even received as truth.

And yet he wrote. And what an impact his writings have had.

Although a skeptic, author Jonathan Kirsch states in his book, A History of the End of the World, that:

[Revelation] has come to play a unique and ubiquitous role in the world in which we live today. Indeed, Revelation has always served as a lens through which the recorded history of Western Civilization can be seen in fresh and illuminating ways. Across the twenty centuries that have passed since it was first composed—and, above all, at every point where contesting ideas of culture and politics have come into conflict—Revelation is always present, sometimes in plain sight and sometimes just beneath the surface.

So we ask you today… what obstacles do you face as a writer? What doubt plagues you? If the Lord has clearly called you to write, do it. Look to John as your inspiration as you push past the fear and hurdles to deliver the message God has given you.

At Certa Publishing, we believe in the message inside our authors. Our goal is to provide you with all the tools and support you need to transform your message into a published book.

 

From Mint Tea to Moleskin Notebooks: 3 writers share their habits

mint tea

This week we’re featuring some of Copyblogger’s fascinating insights into the writing habits and environments of their editorial team. Copyblogger has been at the forefront of content writing since 2006 and their parent company now boasts a client base of more than 200,000 unique customers.

They asked several members of their editorial team to divulge their habits and preferences on the following points:

  • Setting
  • Time of day
  • Beverage
  • Tools
  • Music or silence preference

We have included several of the answers here:

Stefanie Flaxman, editor-in-chief

Setting: My desk is my favorite place to concentrate on writing.

Time of Day: I like drafting and jotting down notes all day, every day. But my butt-in-chair writing time typically happens in the afternoon, after I’ve already completed my editing work for the day. That routine works for me no matter what type of writing I’m working on, but morning or evening writing sessions definitely happen when the words have already written themselves in my head and I need to get them out.

Beverage: Green tea. Mint tea. Cold-pressed green juice. Water.

Tools: MacBook Air and an outline in a Moleskine notebook. If I start a digital draft before sketching out an article in a notebook, it usually takes me longer to tie all of my ideas together.

Music or Silence?: I write with music. Sometimes a topic I’m writing about will inspire me to listen to a specific album. If that doesn’t happen, The Decemberists Radio or Tom Waits Radio on Pandora are my default writing stations. Editing and proofreading happen without background noise.

Kelton Reid, VP of multimedia production

Whether I’m working on a writing project or multimedia production, my habits and rituals tend to be pretty similar.

Setting: I’ve had great success working in coffee shops on tight deadlines, and studies show that working in a public space somehow motivates one to be more productive (not necessarily more cogent — interesting note there).

But I find that scheduling chunks of time, uninterrupted writing sprints in the privacy of my office with short breaks for coffee and stretching, is most productive if I have enough time to let a project marinate before editing.

I always come back to:

“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.” – Stephen King

Time of Day: I’m best first thing in the morning after breakfast and coffee — kid is at school, no one’s in the house kind of early — until lunch.

I will get a second wind of creative flow from 3 to 6 in the evening, and occasionally after 10:00 p.m..

Beverage: Black coffee. Green Tea. No fillers.

Tools: Thoughts that I can capture typically land in a small, pocket notebook that is always nearby, and if deemed useful, find themselves on a yellow legal pad in scrawled, rabid sentences that need to be vaccinated and put on leashes.

Healthy sentences often migrate to a full-fledged outline on 4X6 cards that pile up and must be clipped together. A Google Doc is another favorite for getting them all in one place.

Finally, a blank text document will be opened and a terrible first draft will emerge. A first draft needs air. I generally try to walk away from it as long as possible, and then get some fresh eyes on it before attempting to forge it into something anyone would ever want to read.

Music or Silence?: Ambient music I can ignore on the headphones. (Spotify is home to a lot of music for concentration.) Film soundtracks are great for productivity, as are simple white noise apps with rain and whatnot.

Loryn Thompson, data analyst

I tend to have the same routines for whatever I’m working on, although doing my best work writing often involves a lot fewer distractions, whereas when I’m doing data work and writing reports, I may be able to keep chat open.

Setting: Depends on the time of day. In the mornings I like to be at a quiet coffee shop (preferably where people don’t know me and therefore don’t try to talk to me), and in the late afternoon I prefer to be at home.

Time of Day: Morning (7:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.) or late afternoon (4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.)

Beverage: Cappuccinos or matcha lattes at the coffee shop, tea or coffee at home (with a mug warmer — I can’t drink lukewarm coffee!).

Tools: Laptop with email and chat closed. Sometimes I’ll even turn WiFi off if I know I won’t need it for research. Headphones are required. For my reports I use Google Docs, but when I’m working on a true writing piece I prefer a plain text editor.

And no phone. Having my phone anywhere near me — even just in the room — is a huge productivity killer. I usually leave mine downstairs most of the day, and only check it on breaks.

Music or Silence?: Music, but it can’t be distracting. Either it has to be music I’ve practically memorized or instrumental (more mood/ambient than classical, though).

What do you think? Are any of these habits similar to yours? Or were you surprised at how other writers work? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!

At Certa Publishing we strive to bring ideas and inspiration that help our authors develop and thrive. Contact us today to find out how we can partner with you!