Tag Archives: Michael Hyatt

Writing Wednesday: Five Tips for How to Promote without Selling Out

6 Nov


One of my anxieties about going to Lowell Celebrates Kerouac this year was that people might think I was there just to hawk my recently published Beat Generation book, Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road.”

That was not the case! Now, I’m not going to lie. Of course I wanted people to find out about the book and purchase it. Not only am I proud of the book, but more so if I were someone interested in Jack Kerouac’s literature and literary development I’d want to know about the book. Therefore, I want people to know about the book because I honestly think they’d actually want to hear about it and get value from it.

But I didn’t go to the festival to push the book on anyone. Truth be told, if I’m not into something, it’s really obvious. Sorry, Lady Gaga, I have no poker face. I would probably turn people off from buying my book, if I went somewhere just to sell it.

I’ve been to Lowell Celebrates Kerouac before I ever had a book deal, and I went again this year because I was excited about the festival. I was excited to attend the events. I was excited to catch up with friends. I was excited to reencounter a town that I’ve been reading about for years and that has come to be familiar to me. I was excited to escape the hustle and bustle of New York City for a long weekend.

At the festival, I was happy to talk about my book when anyone asked, but I didn’t shove postcards for it in people’s faces the way one author did one year I was at the festival.

I’m by no means an expert, but these are my top 5 tips on how to promote your book without selling out:

1. Believe in your product. – If you don’t think your book has worth, you shouldn’t be selling it or even giving it away for free. If you honestly believe your book is great, then it’s only natural that you’ll think others will want to hear about it too. People will hear the excitement in your voice. They’ll want to know more, and you’ll be able to tell people about the book without sounding like you’re giving a sales pitch.

2. Be genuinely interested in others. – One of the great lessons I learned while teaching a writing workshop at the Festival of Faith & Writing is that as much as people pay big bucks to learn, the time they spend actually engaging in conversation and talking about their own work and interests often feels more powerful to them. I’ve gotten to spend some time with some of the people that have “Liked” Burning Furiously Beautiful on Facebook, and it’s been so rewarding hearing their stories.

3. Don’t look at people as if they have dollar signs over their heads. – Not everyone is a potential customer. Some people may not be interested in your subject matter—gasp!—and that’s okay. They’re probably still great people. Engage them about themselves and enjoy the conversation. Maybe you’ll even become friends. It’s good to have friends with varied interests. And who knows, maybe they’ll end up being your biggest promoter simply because they have a large network and are enthusiastic about the conversation they had with you. Even if that’s not the case, there’s more value in relationships than money.

4. Enjoy the event. – If you’re just going to work the room at a festival or conference, you’re not going to have any fun and no one’s going to want to talk to you or buy your book. Don’t bother going to events that you’re not actually interested in. It’s just not worth it. Mingle with people, attend readings and tours, let your guard down.

5. Be prepared. – Don’t feel anxious about promoting your book. If it’s something people are interested in knowing more about, you should be able to talk about it in a natural way without droning on and on. If you don’t have the book on hand to sell, have postcards, flyers, or business cards to give. Nothing’s more annoying that finding out about a great book and then not remembering the name of it later on. Also, some people are prone to losing things or not remembering what the business card is for, so it’s good to also get their contact info and follow up with them.

What are your tips for promoting yourself without selling out?

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Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” is now available as an ebook and paperback!


Social Media Lessons from SXSW 2012

11 Jul

Calvin Reid makes insightful remarks about the role e-technology and social media are playing in publishing in “SXSW 2012: New Publishing Models and the Rise of the Referral Economy.”  If you’re new to publishing and looking to make your mark on the industry and find readers, I’d highly encourage you to read the entire article.  To his point on “curating,” here’s some remarks of his that you might find especially helpful:

  • “Altounian said he’s targeting a demographic under the age of 40 that wants to read on an array of devices anytime they want and they don’t want to pay much, if anything, for the content they read on them. … Altounian was making the point that, at least for emerging artists, getting their content in front of readers through traditional publishers is an uphill battle that doesn’t work for everyone; that his goal is to build a list of self-branded artists (using social media tools) and by offering some free content now, and some for-pay content later when the freebie-oriented audiences for these artists reaches critical mass and wants more of their stuff.”
  • “Certainly one of the most intellectually vivid panels was Curators or the Curated, a panel examining the phenomenon of content sharing—essentially the practice of any and everyone linking to content and sending it out to followers and friends around the web—and what that means to publishers, creators and the curators themselves. … In theory curators bring attention to content and drive traffic to the original site; in practice some curators are having more impact than the publications they curate from. And its generated a debate about the practice and what it means—and of course how to monetize it.”
  • “He also rejected some of the anti-advertising curatorial comments, noting that business platforms were important and that he had worked for a Minn.-based newspaper that did away with escort ads and the loss of revenue killed the newspaper.”

What I take away from this is the following:

Writers need to start building a platform NOW—as in, even before we’ve written our book, we need to start curating content on our subject matter.  This means tweeting, forwarding, and “liking,” other writers’ posts related to our subject and also blogging, tweeting, and writing our own status updates on our subject.

Generate content and don’t be afraid to give it away for free.  It’s better to give our writing away for free in the beginning so that we can establish ourselves as authorities on that topic and/or as interesting storytellers.  Eventually, people will love you and want to buy your writing—but it might take a lot of giving your work away for free first.  Michael Hyatt is a big proponent of giving away free content.  Not only does he give away valuable information on his blog, but he also created an ebook that he gives to anyone who subscribes to his blog.  Both the blog subscription and the ebook are free.

Don’t be all holier than thou about advertising.  Solicit advertising for your blog.  I personally would suggest keeping your advertising in line with your brand—and your brand should probably be consistent with how you’d want to be thought of by your friends and parents as well.  What I mean is, I personally would rather go hungry than earn money from escort ads.  The best ads are going to be ones that relate to your subject matter.  So if I’m writing about Greek identity, ads about learning how to play the harmonica aren’t going to be controversial but they won’t be as relevant as ads about learning how to speak Greek.

Humbly consider the rights to your content.  Bloggers may quote rather heavily from anything you post—and by heavily, I mean they might use your work entirely and just give you credit via a link.  This might be a breach of your copyright, but before you get your knickers in a bunch consider if their promotion of your work might be helping you out with some free advertising.  Maybe it’s bringing new readers to your work.  …But then again, maybe it’s not.  Therefore, always be careful with what sort of content you put on your blog.  Sure, someone could pirate your whole book, but it’s more likely someone will repost a blog entry than your entire book.  With that in mind, be prepared that what you publish on your blog might end up elsewhere.

Pay attention to your e-rights.  Landing a book contract is about more than just the print rights these days.  Make sure your contract expressly states an agreement about electronic and print-on-demand editions.

It feels like writers—and artists of any sort—get a raw deal.  We have to give a lot of free content away.  Professionals in other industries don’t seem to have to do this to the same extent.  Lawyers may work an occasional pro bono case, but they’re not expected to work for free before making it big.  Doctors may do Doctors Without Borders to give back and help people, but this is a personal choice they make.  I suppose in some ways artists giving away their work—and having it stolen from them in the case of extreme curating—is an internship of sorts, but the difference is that artists are expected to intern their entire lives or at least until they hit it big.

Therefore, I’d encourage all artists to be savvy.

Yes, you might feel pressured to build your platform and give away content for free, but make sure you’re getting something in return for your investment.

Don’t let your platform overtake your writing.  Your platform is a means to an end—your book project.

Use the system.  There’s nothing wrong with giving away content for free.  There’s nothing wrong with soliciting ads.  There’s nothing wrong with social media.  Don’t let anyone or any platform rule over you.  Keep your goals in perspective and use the system to your advantage.  Find your target audience, make connections, earn money, promote your projects.

You can find me not only here on this blog, but also on Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.

Writing Wednesday: Michael Hyatt’s 5 Steps to Building a Platform When You Hate Selling Yourself

27 Jul

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/tap10 / via Michael Hyatt

In a recent blog post, Michael Hyatt, chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers, listed the “5 Steps to Building a Platform When You Hate Selling Yourself.”  If you go to the blog post you can read the five steps, but I want to point out one line I especially liked.  In one of the steps Hyatt says that writers should share relevant news about their writing.  For example, we should share if we’re doing a reading or were recently published.  He says:

This isn’t selling; it is informing.

So true.  Self-promotion always feels like bragging, but the way I think of it is that I’d want to know if my favorite writer were doing something cool and wouldn’t think they were showing off if they informed me of their upcoming book or recent clip.

So, what would you like to inform me of?