Don’t Make These Rookie Mistakes

The other day, I listened to a podcast interview of a new author. I found myself cringing as I listened to this new author make a number of rookie mistakes. Just as a book that is poorly written turns readers off, so does an interview that is poorly executed.

Media coverage—whether this is in print, radio, television, or podcast format—is a great way to gain exposure for your message and your book. Securing media coverage can help grow an audience for your book.

Rookie Mistakes by New Authors

If you are taking the time and effort to pursue media interviews as part of your marketing strategy, don’t waste your efforts by making the following rookie mistakes that will cause the audience to lose interest.

 1. Saying “Buy My Book” in the Interview.

Do not ever say “buy my book” during a media interview. Your job is to give people interesting information that entices them to want more. It’s okay to talk about your book, but don’t tell or ask the audience to buy your book. Most show hosts will ask you to tell the audience how they can buy your book. If the host does not, then you can work your website into the interview. For example, you might say something like: “On my website at authorname.com, I offer more free tips on how to improve your prayer life.”

2. Alluding to Your Book in Every Answer You Give.

Don’t talk about your book the whole interview. You need to entertain and educate the audience. Authors who mention their book in every answer on a show sound like they are conducting a sales pitch. A media interview is about giving the show’s audience useful information or entertainment that enriches their lives.

3. Not Sharing Statistics or an Anecdote or Story.

Information is great, but story makes the information stick. Think about a recent sermon you heard. Which do you remember more easily: the points the pastor made or the stories he told? Be human and interesting in your interview. Share stories or interesting statistics to drive your message home.

4. Inserting Extra Speech Sounds.

In the interview I listened to, the author sounded like she was sighing after every question the host asked and before she gave her answer. I am sure that she was using the sound to help her gather her thoughts, but it sounded like every answer she gave took effort. Avoid using extra sounds, especially “um”. Extra speech sounds are distracting and make you sound less professional.

5. Using Words or Phrases the Audience Might Not Understand.

Each area or region in the world has saying that are indigenous to the area. People who live in these areas know what these sayings mean, but those outside often don’t. For example, in the South, you might hear the phrase “I’m as fat as a tick.” This doesn’t mean the person thinks he or she is fat, rather it means he or she is full after a good meal. Be cognizant of the fact that your audience might not be familiar with words or phrases you use. If you choose to use them, simply take the time to explain what they mean to your audience.

6. Forgetting to Say Thank You.

Be sure to thank the host for having you on the show and the audience for their time. In the interview I recently listened to with the new author, the show host kept thanking the author for being on the show. It took three tries before the author finally said a simple “thank you” back. Be a gracious media guest and say thank you.

Your ultimate goal in a media interview is to make your audience feel a connection with you. If they feel a connection, they are more likely to check out your book and buy it.

If you are a new author seeking media interviews, one of the best things you can do to learn how to be a good media guest is to watch or listen to interviews of experienced authors. One podcast that interviews a number of seasoned Christian authors is The Experience Jesus Calling Podcast.

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Photo courtesy of William Stitt.

How to Capture Attention from the Beginning

Attention spans are shrinking! In this era of multi-tasking, our attention to any one particular activity is getting shorter. One British study found:

  • The average British person has an average attention span of just 14 minutes.
  • While watching television the average adult loses concentration—usually to look at a mobile device—after just seven minutes.
  • A good book keeps the average adult’s full concentration for 15 minutes.

Eight seconds! Studies show that this is the amount of time you have to engage people online with your content.

We live in a world where people read more headlines than they do articles. As a result, grabbing your readers’ attention with your headline and your first few sentences are more important than ever.

Any content you create—a book, an article, a blog post, a newsletter, a podcast, a video—needs to capture people’s attention from the beginning. Strong starts are not only important in a book, they are important in any content that you create. A strong start draws people in by seizing their attention so that they want to read, hear, or view more.

With so little time to snag someone’s attention, a strong beginning is extremely important. You can use the following five ideas to hook people into staying for more in your next piece of content.

A quote
An interesting quote that creates an emotional connection, especially from a famous person, is a good hook. An emotional pull will keep your reader engaged.

A question
Draw your reader in and create intrigue with a question that resonates with your target audience. The reader will stay engaged to get the answer to the question.

A surprising statistic
A statistic that startles your reader grabs and holds attention. It is a great way to keep your audience reading to learn more.

A controversial statement
Nothing grabs attention like controversy. That’s why the media tends to highlight contentions. You can hook readers with an opening statement that is controversial and emotional for your readers.

An anecdote
People relate to stories. Sharing a short and amusing or interesting story about a real incident in your life or someone else’s life connects the reader to the material you are sharing. People love to read about life-changing moments or moments that create an “aha” experience where clarity is gained. Funny or embarrassing stories also draw readers in.

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Photo courtesy of Olivia Spink.

Do You Need Marketing Confidence?

You have heard the clichés “Dress for success” and “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” While familiar and maybe a little overused, they are still true.

Similar to dressing for success, there are steps that you can take to build your confidence for success in marketing your books. If you find yourself lacking marketing confidence, implement these three suggestions that will boost your confidence the way dressing does.

1. Present a Professional Image.

A professional image is about dressing sharply. As an author, your website, business card, letterhead, email signature, and social networking sites are where your audience receives their first impression of you. Make sure these look sharp and professional. Use a professional author photo. Have consistency across all your platforms in image, color, and theme so that you present a branded image.

Studies show that the clothes we wear affect our behavior, attitudes, personality, mood, confidence, and even the way we interact with others. In other words, the image you present to the world affects how you think and act. So, present a professional author image and you will gain confidence.

2. Stay in The Know.

Nothing builds confidence like knowledge. The more you know, the more secure you are in stepping into that knowledge. Staying up-to-date on publishing and marketing trends helps you act more confidently. Learn what others are doing successfully and then mimic these tactics with your target audience for successful exposure.

Join writers’ or publishers’ associations to receive cutting-edge information and join with others in group marketing efforts. Network with members of the organization to learn what is working for them and for collaborative opportunities. Right now, Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) is offering a summer membership special for small publishers and independent authors producing Christian books. For just $120 you can join CSPA through December 2019.

3. Show Your Passion.

As an author, you should be passionate about your book and the message it conveys. A passionate person displays confidence in the subject they are passionate about. Let your passion shine through as you communicate with people. Enthusiasm is catchy. As your fervor for your book shines, others will also catch your excitement and want to know more about your book and how their lives might benefit from your message.

Pursue and respond to opportunities to let your passion shine. Write guest blog posts and articles aimed at your target audience. Look for speaking opportunities to share your message.

Developing a professional, well-dressed image will build your confidence and help establish trust with your readers and other professionals you interact with as you market your books.

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Lessons From a Glacier for Authors

Thought leader Seth Godin recently wrote the following on his blog:

Glaciers get a bad rap. We often talk about how slow they are. But the speed isn’t the point. The fjord near my house, surrounded by huge cliffs, was formed by a glacier. Not because it was slow, but because it was large, clearly directed, and relentless.

Glaciers make a huge impact. They don’t etch out mere creeks, they carve gorges and canyons.

Lessons from a Glacier for Authors

Authors can take a lesson from glaciers. While you might not be huge like a glacier, you can make an impact by being clearly directed and relentless—even moving at a slow pace.

Are You Clearly Directed?

Do you have a clear direction? Do you have an end goal in mind with well-laid out objectives to reach your goal?

Without a clear goal and direction, we wonder all over the place and end up making less impact. People walk the straightest path when they have their eyes fixed on a distant object. Set a goal and keep your eyes fixed on your goal.

For every activity you do related to your book, ask yourself whether this activity is moving you closer to your goal. Spend your time and energy on the activities that move you in the direction you want to go.

If your desire is to glorify God with your books, then you can be confident that he will direct your steps as your walk in the direction of your goal. You can trust that God will guide you just as Isaiah says:

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

Are You Relentless?

We expect immediate gratification for our efforts. Our culture has taught us that things should come fast and easy. Get rich quick schemes abound. There are hundreds of gurus on the Internet willing to teach you a few easy steps to grow your business exponentially. The sad truth is that it only works for a handful of businesses. Most business grow slowly and steadily over time.

Glaciers are slow. You don’t see the impact they are making right away. It can take years before you see the change that a slow-moving glacier is making on the earth. The same may be true for your efforts. It may take years before you see the impact your books and writings are having on people.

Being relentless is about perseverance. Writing and marketing your books takes a lot of perseverance. It takes an average of seven contacts to secure a media interview. It takes about nine months of regular blogging to develop a following.

David says in Psalm 127:

Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.

If your books bring glory to God, then it is God who is building your house. Your job is to be diligent and God’s job is to do the building.

You can make an impact. Don’t rush it. Move carefully and deliberately, trust God, and when you look back, you will see the fruit of your efforts.

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Five Additional Free Tools for Authors

I love free! Free resources are a wonderful gift to any indie author or small publisher on a tight budget.

Here are five free tools that can help you improve your writing and marketing efforts.

1. Improve Your Word Usage.

Words are important, especially for authors. Using the right words and the best words matter. The OneLook Dictionary search aggregates information from more than 1,000 dictionaries. You can use this free tool to search for definitions and phrases, as well as words related to a term or concept and then compare various dictionary definitions.

No author wants to overuse a word, which is why every author needs a thesaurus. There are a number of thesauruses online, but Power Thesaurus because it is a crowdsourced online resource, is very powerful. The tool provides every synonym and antonym under the sun and arranges them all based on how useful other writers have found them.

2. Make Sure Your Writing Is Grammatically Correct.

A study by Boomerang, an email management tool, found that mistake-free email subject lines received a 34% response rate, while those with errors only had a 29% response rate. Grammatical and spelling mistakes reduce the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. You can run your emails and social media posts through a quick edit to make sure your writing is grammatically correct with the free tool at Grammark.

3. Optimize Your Social Media Posts.

Twitter has a 280-character limit for tweets. Just because you are allowed 280 characters does not necessarily mean you want to use that many in your tweets. Studies have found that tweets that get the most attention contain just 100 characters. On Facebook, the ideal length of a post is 40 characters. And the best length of an email subject line is 28-39 characters.

A free online tool, Character Count Online, helps count the length of any piece of text you want. This tool not only counts characters, it also counts words, sentences, and paragraphs. It will also tell you how many times you used each word in a chunk of text. Next time you are creating a social media post or email subject line, use this tool to help you optimize your effort.

4. Find the Best Fonts for Design Projects.

Multiple fonts in a quote graphic, blog design, or other online project increase the visual appeal. Using various fonts can make separate ideas or elements distinct. For instance, in a pull quote, you might use one font for the quote and another for the source.
However, for the fonts to work together well, they must follow core design principles regarding symmetry and contrast. If you’re not a font-pairing expert, Fontjoy can generate font pairings for you.

5. Start Podcasting for Free.

Are you thinking about starting a podcast, but don’t want to invest fees in equipment and storage? You can record, store, and distribute podcasts on the Internet for free with Anchor.

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Photo courtesy of Carolina Bonito.