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Marketing a Book – #8 Public Speaking

Marketing a Book – #8   Public Speaking

probusIn my last post, I blogged about a book signing experience then ended by announcing an invitation to speak to a chapter of Probus, an association of retired former Rotarians. That event occurred on June 15, but it took some time to reflect on the experience. This was the first opportunity to present elements of my writing to the public as a presenter and merited considerable reflection. rotary

The invitation came as the result of an interview published in our local newspaper, which was the subject of an earlier post. The request was fairly specific, asking for a presentation on how I wrote an autobiography. The presentation had to be focused and address some specific points in one hour.

· What motivated my writing?

· How was the work of writing structured?

· How was the content generated and developed?

The venue was small and the audience numbered about twenty-five individuals. A PowerPoint presentation was saved on my hard drive and backed up in Dropbox. The hall was equipped with a newly installed 42 inch flat screen television with HDMI input ports, on screen instructions and a person in charge of the AV equipment with a minimum of knowledge about the system was there to help me set up. In fact, today was the first time it had been used in a presentation like mine.

I knew that AV equipment always needed setup and every system was different, so I arrived at the hall about thirty minutes prior to the time my presentation was to start. By the time, zero hour arrived everything was connected to my laptop and few PowerPoint slides prepared to illustrate the presentation were set at the introductory slide. I was ready to launch.

The presentation was titled, A LEGACY OF EXPERIENCE: Memoirs Speak Across the Generations: What do You Want to Say and to Whom? It touched on all the points as per the request, but also included some basic ideas about memory in general and autobiographical memory in particular. It was equally important to explain the nature and origin of self-image and self-esteem, two factors which influence how we remember the events of our lifetime.

Since my audience was essentially Caucasian and Christian and much of my writing is informed by basic ideas in Buddhism, Taoism, and Zen Buddhism, it was important to explain the elements of those philosophies which shaped my thinking and writing. This audience, and perhaps most audiences I might face, need to see a shift toward Eastern philosophies as a move toward fundamental human values, not a repudiation of their fundamental belief system. The last thing one wants is to offend his audience, an issue that occupied my thoughts as I prepared for this event.

Once the basic concepts and philosophies supporting my writing were stated, the remainder of the talk focused on a structured approach to memoir writing. The concept of building an autobiography on the symbolism and structure of a Zen style garden was carefully unfolded for the audience. Each of the six elements found in such a garden was explained in terms of how it relates to the different aspects that form the narrative of a lifetime. In Through a Lens of Emptiness: Reflections on Life, Longevity and Contentment, I use this specific structural organization and symbolism to document my own life narrative in order to illustrate how that structure is applied in practice.20150523_162505 (2)

Years of experience in the classroom hones one’s observational skills. It is possible to gauge the interest and focus of an audience during a presentation (lesson) by body language, and following it by the number and quality of questions and interactions from the audience. One also learns how to pace the rate of speaking, modulate the voice, and move smoothly from the front of the hall into the audience and back again as needed to maintain contact with the audience. The power and efficacy of a presentation is also enhanced by appropriate eye contact and through the body language of the presenter.

An experienced presenter, like an experienced teacher, carry an evaluation rubric based on the above points in their head. Also, they become adept evaluators of their own behavior as a presenter (teacher) while they are speaking. While it may appear immodest to the reader, I felt pretty good about the whole event based on an evaluation of my behaviors, presenting style, and audience reaction before and after the presentation. I am comfortable making this judgement since, as a teacher, I always told my students that “I would fail my own mother is her performance warranted it”, and have always rated my own performance by a rigid and high standard.

After eight years in retirement, one always wonders if they still have the skills that made them successful as a presenter of information. This first event in my new life as an author and public speaker was an important one. I learned “I’ve still got it,” whatever “IT” is and am confident there is a future for me as a public speaker. At the age of sixty-nine (this August) an enthusiasm to make new beginnings and take on new challenges not only exists but thrives. My next challenge is to generate some more opportunities to speak publicly. I’ll let you know how that works out in a few months.

As always, your faithful blogger,

L Alan Weiss (Larry) – Author

http://www.lalanweiss.com

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Marketing a Book #5 – Keeping Pace with Social Media

steeplearning2lMarketing a Book #5 – Keeping Pace with Social Media

I began working with my social media publicist about seven weeks ago. The first few weeks were dedicated to organizing the campaign to come. This Wednesday marks the fourth week of the official relationship between the publicist and me, and I find myself climbing an ever steepening learning curve week by week.

steeplearning1

Holy Moly, this is really steep.

Each successive week’s session begins with a review of progress based on the previous session and then we move on to a new topic. The first session focused on blog and twitter strategies, The second week focused on Facebook and the third on differentiating the role of a personal Facebook page and a fan page. This week we will look at Hootsuite: mechanics and strategies, and how to incorporate Sway into a strategy. I have been working away at building up a LinkedIn presence at the same time.

The only way one can learn about social media is to work with it. In my case, I’m a generation or two out of step with how these various social media channels function. I’m learning a great deal and making some progress, but I often feel like I need to catch my breath. Even this post will become a Twitter and Facebook entry because that sort of thing is the essence of social media strategies. I’ve also signed up for something called classmates.com with the intent of connecting with people I knew in the past. So far, I have linked up with one individual and started a conversation.

Trying to stay on track

Trying to stay on track

Social media coaching is certainly beneficial, particularly for a novice. It is impossible to say how effective social media networking will be as a marketing tool, but I certainly believe I’m getting the word out about my book Through a Lens of Emptiness: Reflections on Life. Longevity and Contentment through many channels. Some individuals may even become familiar with my Nom de Plume – L Alan Weiss, part of my regular blog post sign off. I’ll continue to blog on my book marketing experiences as they unfold, including any progress made in the area of social media.

As always, your faithful blogger,

L Alan Weiss – Author

Please vista me at www.lalanweiss.com or on my newly created Facebook fan page

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Marketing a Book #4 – A Very Public Interview

My first television interview was aired at 5:30 PM on April 2nd on Cogeco’s Cable 14 – Hamilton, Ontario. I had been interviewed for employment many times, but never publicly, and never about something as personal as an autobiography. The overall experience gave me confidence and prepared me for my next interview to come, with a reporter from a local newspaper, The Flamborough Review. Here’s a bit of background information just before I launch into a critique of the interview.

In my last post, I explained that the recent TV interview came about through a chance meeting with the host of the show, who just happened to be someone I knew. That was a bit of good luck. Being interviewed by someone you know increases the comfort level of the whole process. We worked together more than twenty years before and got to know each other well enough then. He was the principal of a high school where I was Head of the Science Department. Although we hadn’t seen each other for years, and contact was limited to one congratulatory email when the host was elected mayor of Hamilton, when we reconnected everything fell back into place.

The show’s host met with me for about an hour prior to the day of the interview. During that meeting ,he engaged me in discussion and posed some general questions. At the end of our meeting, I gave him a complete bio, a brief synopsis of the book’s content, and a copy of the book itself. The interview was scheduled for the next afternoon when it would be recorded live to tape.

The interview went smoothly and I was relaxed. It really helps when you are being interviewed by someone who knows you. Nevertheless, his questions were probing. The taping was for a half hour show and that was to be the length of the interview; no retakes, no editing, and no chance to misspeak. My goal was to answer questions fully but succinctly, not use too much in the way of gesture, and mind my posture. Although I think everything went well, the proof will be in the viewing.

The setting: Our family room at 5:30 PM on Thursday, April 2, 2015

The viewers and reviewers: My wife and I

The interviewer: Larry di Ianni, retired high school principal, former mayor of Hamilton, Ontario, and a host of a weekly current affairs program in Cable 14 – Hamilton, Ontario.

The interview subject: L Alan Weiss – retired Special Education Specialist, début author of Through a Lens of Emptiness: Reflections on Life, Longevity and Contentment.

The questions posed suggested that the Interviewer had read the material provided, read selected sections of the book, and prepared a set of probing questions. His demeanour was relaxed and friendly, which put the Author at ease.

The Author seemed relaxed, but a bit stiff in affect. Perhaps I was more sensitive to this perceived stiffness than others might be. We are often our most severe critics.

The Interviewer spent the first ten minutes or so asking questions related to the Author’s life story based on the autobiographical section of the book. Why did you immigrate to Canada in 1968? What was it like to be separated from family and home? Why did you pursue a career in teaching after training for a career in research science? Why did you decide to write a book? The remainder of the interview focused on the book and the Author’s intent in writing it. Why did you select a title (Through a Lens of Emptiness) that uses a word, Emptiness, which has negative connotations for most people? Can you explain Taoism for our viewers? How do Zen Gardens fit into your book? Your book is also a memoir about the process of writing an autobiography, could you tell me about that.

The Author responded to all questions with candour and relatively succinctly. The initial stiffness rapidly gave way to a more relaxed demeanour. He answered questions related to personal choices and potential conflictual feelings directly and without hesitation. The Author (me) did not shy away from positions that might be contentious, but tempered his language in all cases. He seemed prepared to answer questions, knowledgeable about the content element of the book, and demonstrated his knowledge of related material in a confident but humble manner.

The viewers, my wife and I, thought the interview went well. My wife is my most trusted critic. She knows me like no other individual and would tell me if it hadn’t gone well without hesitation. I was satisfied with the overall result too. Although my answers were direct and to the point, there were times when they might have been briefer. It was a terrific first experience all-in-all. I’ll stop here before this post, like some of my interview answers, becomes too long.

I came away from this experience with the following insight:

· I can give a credible public interview performance.

· I might spend more time on talking points and possible questions related to my life story, which was probed more than I thought it would be.

· I came across as sincere and modest, but answer questions comfortably.

· The interview was successful because of the preparation of the interviewer and the way questions were asked.

· Not all interviewers are equally skilled and may not be as friendly, so be prepared for the unexpected.

· When you ‘put yourself out there’ answer all questions with conservative candor.

· If you can’t stand by your words and thoughts, you shouldn’t be in the hot seat.

My next interview will appear in print. The words of the interviewer and any quotations are more permanent than the fleeting words of a TV interview. It will be another interesting experience, which, of course, will become the subject of a blog post in this series on Marketing a Book.

As always, your faithful blogger,

L Alan Weiss – Author of Through a Lens of Emptiness: Reflections on Life, Longevity and Contentment

Did you have a first experience interview? How did you react? Please comment….

Visit my author website at www.lalanweiss.com

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Marketing a Book #3 The Mysterious World of Publicity and Publicists

Writing a book was challenging. Bringing it to the point of being published was a matter of time and mechanics. Seeing the book as a finished product was more exciting than I thought it would be. The next part of this author’s journey was going to be a challenge. The established author with a following sets off on this part of the journey ‘with a song in his heart and a bounce in his step’. The début author has another experience altogether.

The unknown and untested author (that’s me) has a target audience in mind which he wants to reach and not much more than that in his kit bag. He takes his first steps on a path into the unknown world of ‘putting himself and his work out there’. He walks cautiously as if he is about to walk through a minefield while marching over a bed of hot coals at the same time. On either side of his path are thousands upon thousands of books on bookstore shelves and an endless array of eBooks all clamouring for the attention of a prospective purchaser. He is in dire need of some handholding and a soothing security blanket at that moment. ENTER THE PUBLICIST!

In my case, the publishing package purchased included some great materials, like posters and business cards, flyers and bookmarks. The materials I received were beautifully prepared and gave me a professional set of publicity material. Everything was printed clearly displaying the book’s title and some distinctive portion of the book’s cover in evidence along with the necessary information to purchase it. This was the beginning of branding a newly minted author, L Alan Weiss (me again), and his book Through a Lens of Emptiness: Reflections on Life, Longevity and Contentment.

My book looked great and those publicity materials had a very professional look and feel about them. However, it is up to me to make the best use of these materials as I can. I’ll get to my adventures as a self-publicist in a bit, but first let’s talk about some serious handholding and a comfy security blanket that came my way; not for free, of course. Nothing is ever free, but some things are definitely worth the expense.

Publicists come in two flavours; one works for you and comes at a cost, the other costs nothing but the author’s time and energy. I chose to purchase the services of a social media publicist to help me make the best use of that intricate and powerful domain of human interactions. Social media has such potential, but I lack the sophistication to make the most of it. I’m just guessing, but my social media publicist is probably 35 to 40 years younger than I, which is just perfect. He’s sure to be knowledgeable about the social media domain. He sounded enthusiastic and interested in helping me as best he can.

I purchased a twelve-week package of support, including an audit of the social media elements I already use and a social media campaign prepared during the first week of our association. Over the remaining eleven weeks of the campaign, he will monitor the effectiveness of the campaign and make appropriate adjustments as we progress. In the end, I will receive a final report on the campaign. I will report on the experience, to you my followers and readers, in the form of a post on this blog.

The real adventure in publicizing my work begins as I act as my own agent, my own ‘boots on the ground’ publicist; an impossible task without two crucial happenings. The first was so unexpected that I can only use the word “kismet” to explain it. About four months ago I was meeting with someone over coffee at a local café, when a person from my past recognizes me and stops to say hello. In the course of our brief conversation, he asked me what I’d been up to since retiring, so I told him I had been writing a book which was close to completion. “That’s interesting”, he said.

This man, who was the principal of a school where I had taught in the early 1990’s, now hosted a weekly half hour show on local cable television. He said, “Keep me updated and let me know when it is in print, I’ll interview you on my show.” And so it has come to pass that on Wednesday, March 25th the interview was recorded live to tape, for broadcast on April 2nd. What a great opportunity for me to get my agent/publicist’s feet wet. See what I mean by “Kismet”. I’ll write a review of my interview in the next post in this series.

The second happening was born out of the social media endeavour. The agency that provides the service had me complete an extensive questionnaire, including many items that forced me to discuss and describe my book in a number of ways. The effort put forth in completing the questionnaire yielded enough material for me to produce a good press release document. Hopefully, that document will generate a few more interview opportunities and some local speaking engagements.

My life as an author/agent/self-publicist will certainly provide material for more blog posts at the very least. I will continue to update my followers and new readers on my adventures.

Until the next post . . .

As always, your faithful blogger,

L Alan Weiss – Author of Through a Lens of Emptiness: Reflections on Life, Longevity and Contentment

Visit my author website at www.lalanweiss.com

Are you working with a publicist? What is your experience?

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Marketing a Book #2 – Lemony Snicket’s Great Advice

Marketing a Book #2 – Lemony Snicket’s Great Advice

Wouldn’t it be great to come up with a concept as neat as Lemony Snicket. Of course, that idea reflects the genius of David Handler. It is up to others to come up with their own ideas for a great and entertaining series of books in the genre of their own choice. There is one product of David Handler’s thinking that we might all copy without fear of copyright infringement. That idea was expressed in an article by Sarah Shaffi in the Bookseller ( http://www.thebookseller.com/news/lemony-snicket-urges-authors-connect-indie-bookshops Oct. 16, 2015)

In the article, Shaffi relates Handler’s ideas on using indie bookstores to market your book, and that’s exactly what I plan to do. Obviously this is just one of several marketing techniques planned for my campaign to sell copies of my book Through a Lens of Emptiness. In Marketing a book #1, I already discussed using Google Ads and Social Media to get my book some profile. Here’s how I plan to implement Daniel Handler’s idea.

I have already approached my local independent bookstore, Pickwick Books in Watertown, Ontario, with the idea. I have asked them to give my book placement in their shop in return for free advertising on my personal website. The plan is for me to provide a few signed copies of the book for sale in their store, and for me to share the profit on the sale with them. Since I can get copies of my book at a discounted rate, and can set the sale price for those copies as I wish. This arrangement is a win-win for Pickwick Books and for me every time a book sells.

Working with my local independent bookstore is logical but clearly only good for moving a few books. To make this a viable plan of action, I’ll need to line up as many independent bookstores in as broad a geographic region as possible. Not only will this take some effort on my part, but also some thought as to how to approach a bookstore with the idea and how to select the stores I want to approach. The number of books I purchase at a discount from the publisher is limited by the resources available to me ($$$$ + time + proximity). Because of these limitations, I need to establish some meaningful criteria to guide my choices.

These are the criteria I will apply to selecting which bookstores to approach:

1. The store needs to have a good location and regular clientele.

2. The bookstore should be relatively well established.

3. Use the post office and a phone call to introduce myself.

4. The owner of the bookstore should show some interest in the content of my book.

5. The bookstore should be within one to one and a half hours drive from my home.

That’s the plan and this spring is the launch date. I’ll keep my readers informed about the efficacy of this plan as it unfolds. I thought Lemony’s Dan Handler) idea had real merit. My only innovation re his suggestion is to provide free advertising for each bookstore participating in my plan on the web.

Until my next post, as always your faithful blogger,

L Alan Weiss (Larry) –
Author of Through a Lens of Emptiness: Reflections on Life, Longevity and Contentment

Visit my author website at http://www.lalanweiss.com

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Manuscript editing completed–now what?

My last blog post followed receipt of the Quality Edit review of my manuscript which presented few things to be addressed. Since then, I have listened to the entire text twice more (using my beloved text to voice application) and made the required corrections. There were still a few areas where the prose lacked flow and there were a few word choices had to be reconsidered. I am just about ready to send the whole thing back to the publisher for the next phase of the process.

At the same time the Quality Edit material was received, a copy of my marketing text copy was included, and that was really a good thing. I had written the original marketing text to accompany the initial manuscript submission more than one and a half years ago. As you might imagine, much had changed since then. Needless to say, a complete revision of the text was necessary.

Marketing text refers to the copy that appears on the back cover of a paperback or the first section of an eBook web advert. It needs to be short and sweet and consists of; an Author Bio of no more than 50 words, a brief one liner Keynote tag line,  a list of Keywords to attract the target audience to your title,  and no more than 200 words for a Back Cover overview. Compared to a work of about 66000 words, this is a trivial amount of copy, but those words were the most difficult to write, and in some ways the most important.

The Author Bio needs to be a quick portrait of the author portraying both qualifications and character. The Keynote tag line needs to be a real zinger that captures a potential reader’s imagination. The Keyword list needs to reflect the content of the book as a reflection of the interests of the target audience. The Back Cover overview is meant to be a “teaser” or “movie trailer” like device designed to capture a potential reader’s interest and encourage them to look further into a book’s content and encourage a purchasing decision.

The other considerations relevant to this phase of the publication process are decisions on whether to pay a professional proof reader and to have the book professionally indexed. This adds some costs, so you have to consider their value. The proof reader reviews the PDF proof copy of the book prior to, a tedious and critical task to be sure, and for a moderate dyslexic an impossible task. An index may or may not be required, but my project is a work of creative nonfiction and has some content the reader may wish to reference while reading, or for future reference. I’m certain to employ the proof reader. Professional indexing is something I need to consider further.

Although I am unable to release any content of a book in the pre-publication stage, I’m sure the title can be mentioned: Through a Lens of Emptiness: Into the Void and Back Again in Search of Understanding. I’m still deciding about including a subtitle or not. I might even alter the word Understanding to Self. Anyone reading this blog is welcome to comment of the subtitle dilemma.

I won’t mention the name of the publishing house that will publish my work until it is actually published, but I will continue to update those following this blog on my progress. I’m thinking about a blog post re: motivation verses motive for self-publishing.

Until then,

Larry (L Alan Weiss)

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Some Simple Truths – Caught Between a $ and a Hard Choice

The only certain way to self-publish with a minimum of expense is to be an expert in all areas of editing and marketing. The novice writer, who is also a newbie to the world of self-publishing, most likely thinks of copy editing as the only editing required to achieve a publishable work. The budding author who has an excellent grasp of English grammar believes he or she has the editing tiger by the tail and is sure to produce the perfect manuscript. To be sure, a copy-edit (line by line edit) is essential, but as an individuals experience of working with a self-publishing house grows, editing requirements take on new dimensions of complexity. Consider the following sequence . . .

* A writer drafts a manuscript and submits it to the publisher. (N.B. the writer has purchased some level of publishing package from the self-publishing house prior to submitting a manuscript)

* The manuscript is reviewed and  feedback provided – at this point the publisher may say the work is not acceptable for publishing, but will most likely refer your project to a development consultant.

* After a conversation (or conversations) with the consultant, various services are offered at a per/word cost, which one is free to decline – at this point the writer can either work up the manuscript based on the commentary of the preliminary review and submit the revised manuscript for review at a cost – or – elect to go with one of the many editing/author support services offered.

* The hopeful author needs to be prepared for other consultants, offering support and services, to call. A call from a marketing consultant is a certainty.

There are two simple truths for those who become engaged with a self publisher: first, the more types of editing and the more self-promotion a writer can do, the less it will cost to publish a book – second, some of the services offered have value and merit, so the writer might pick and chose which are worth the investment in $$$ required to take advantage the service/s offered.

Think about the section found at the beginning of most books (or sometimes at the end), the acknowledgements. When the author thanks the editors provided by the publisher and all the individuals who provided other supports for the creative process that resulted in a book, they are thanking a host of formal and informal editors and reviewers. Those individuals, who may be few or many, provided development edits, substantive edits, content edits, quality edits, copy edits and feedback on the writing itself. The difference between the established author and the self-published author is who pays for all that support. Money and financial backing flows to the established author before, during, and after his or her book is published. Some money (dreamed of royalties) may flow to the self-published author after a book hits the market, but the financial backing of that book is the responsibility of the writer.

The jury is out on the self-publishing process. More evidence is required to make a judgement about this process. Reading the comments and critiques of others as related to the quality or lack of quality in the self-publishing world can shake one’s confidence a bit. While there are certainly some valid complaints and criticisms published, it is possible they may originate with the individual making negative assertions in part or in whole, and not the publisher at all. With all the books that are self-published these days, one would expect more complaints and criticisms than there are. Work honestly through the process, have realistic expectations of how much support you will actually receive, put in the effort required to edit your work and one should achieve a reasonably good published end product.

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