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January 30, 2010

YourBookBiz -- Your Profile is For Your Mother

Writing is a very lonely endeavor and not designed to comfort your mother. Those not afflicted with this peculiar Rjr and logbookpassion call what we do narcissistic and antisocial. Writers’ explanations on why they write are usually loaded with confusing metaphors, dangling participles, and first-person hooptedoodle. As punishment for our ability to spend so much time happily alone with our thoughts, we are, by the standards of decent hardworking non-writers, expected to do our deeds behind closed doors and to wash our hands afterwards. At the end of the writing, says Joseph Heller, “Success and Failure are both difficult to endure. Along with success comes drugs, divorce, fornication, bullying, travel, meditation, medication, depression, neurosis, and suicide. With failure comes failure.” I guess we have all signed our pact with the devil and opt for the success regardless.

It takes a certain skill set to open a vein onto the page, but very few of those attributes are transferable to the real world. Our book biz marketing strategy begins with you introducing yourself to your customers, making a first impression, so that you can eventually ask their permission to try and sell them your book. This very important effort to blow your own horn with hyperbole and flowery prose I call hooptedoodle. Most of us are committed to keeping the hooptedoodle at a minimum in our writing. Our latent tendency to take flights of literary fancy and use words like “illuminating”, “provocative”, and “soul fulfilling” is rusty. So dust off those rose-colored Lolita shades and get ready to meet the person even your mother would admit had their act together. Hey mom, that's me.

Seventy percent of people in this country turn to the web when they want to know more about anything. If your name pops up in cyber conversation, you are one click away from your first important hurdle. You must have an outstanding profile so that those wanting to find that one simple reason to NOT let you try and sell them a book will be disappointed. Instead they will be intrigued by your guile, certain of your credentials to deliver what they want, and have trust they won’t be disappointed with the experience of letting you give them a sale's pitch.

The work effort you will spend developing this online profile will also serve as the block of granite that you will chisel away at to create that terse masterpiece of self aggrandizement you will place on the back cover or inside liner of your book.

A profile reader wants to know the answer to three questions:

Why do I need this writer in my life? The very first job of your profile is to hook those reading with a provocative declaration about that crucial attribute or core attitude that makes you so darn special. The words must be sharp, crisp and convey one undeniable theme that opens an “Ah Ha” moment in the reader. Rework the sentences and words mercilessly for maximum impact. You're a writer; prove it.

Why is this writer supremely qualified to take me where I want to go? Whether the book promises daring insights, skill development, an historical window, or good old fashioned entertainment, the profile must erase any doubts that you have paid your dues, gained the chops, done the heavy lifting necessary to deliver the goods. This is the resume of publications, related expertise, life experiences that guarantees your writing will be professional and of a high standard.

Building your resume of publications should be a priority. List all of your work in print whether you were paid or not. You are a published writer. If things are thin here, get after it. Don’t make things up. Remember, your mother is going to read this. Write a post for Telluride Inside...and Out. Review a publishing book for Call the Watch or Planet and offer a story for the papers.

Tell enough about your life experiences so people understand the context in which you became a writer.

Do I feel comfortable enough in the details of this writer’s present life that my investment in time, money, and curiosity will be rewarded? Your picture is worth a thousand beautiful words. Make sure it supports the rest of your story. It doesn’t hurt to get a professional photographer to provide you with a great picture. Most writer’s brand themselves with a single photograph. In describing where and why and with whom you live, you must let the reader get their arms around your story not the dry statistics. Find ways to surprise and get a smile.

Trust is a fragile commodity. Don’t overreach, don’t be smug, don’t be tricky with words, bury your pride, shine on your inner motivation to be what people expect, lean light on specifics, and go heavy on the joyful uniqueness of your journey to the now.

As an example, my profile is listed on my own website, but any of the search engine profile sites, Yahoo, Google Maps, Facebook, Twitter, My Space, etc. are designed for the reader to jump from your hot link in that initial cyber conversation that triggered the impulse or by a name search that leads directly to your page. Some of the sites require a "friend" status to see your whole site and these may disappoint those who search. It is always best to load content on your own site.

In an upcoming post we will talk about the rebirth of the Press Release in the cyber world and why it will be one of your most useful tools in following up on that first connection customers make to you through your profile. We will construct our outreach plan.  We will also be looking at a very successful marketing strategy that has produced 10 Best Sellers and the author gives his books away for free in cyberspace and calls each of the millions of books he has sold a "souvenier" that supports his continued framing of his blog shaped ideas that help other businesses to succeed.

Mark your calendars for the second face-to-face free one-hour seminar at the Wilkinson Library Program Room at 6 p.m. on Wednesday February 3rd.  We will pinpoint where Gatsby's Last Resort: A Telluride Murder Mystery is on the road to publication, expand on the profile concept with an internet presence, and begin to discuss the next steps in getting our book business plan on the move. This program will have something for every writer to consider. No matter at what stage your manuscript is at today, you need to start this process now to announce yourself as a serious professional writer. Bring a friend and I will see you there.


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