Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Smartest Small Budget Marketing Tips

Aloha! I am back on the grid after spending an amazing week in Paradise (aka Maui). My vacation was much-needed, and am feeling refreshed and relaxed.

While I was away, I was included again on The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur (Tip #105).  Mike features smart marketing tips for businesses on a limited budget. I share why it's important to invest in a professional copywriter. I have seen first-hand what happens when people try to wing it with their web copy, and it is NOT a pretty sight.

Great marketing tips on Mike's blog! Hope you'll check it out, and I welcome you to add your personal marketing tips and feedback.

 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Aloha! I'm Maui Bound This Week!

I am taking off for sun and fun and will be in Maui on a much-needed holiday this week. 

In the meantime, check out my interview series with bestselling author Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff - he is the first author to publish a book about Osama Bin Laden and his books have topped Amazon's Bestsellers' Lists!

Aloha - I'll see you in a week!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Bestselling Author Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff Shares Why His Brand Stands Out & Discusses Upcoming Book "Shadow Falls: Angel of Death"

Part 3 - this is the final installment of my fantastic interview with Mark. 


How do you market your books and your Wordsushi.com/MYN brand? Your brand is raw, quirky and edgy and you definitely are not a 'cookie-cutter' horror/thriller writer. 

Marketing fiction is difficult and more competitive - there are thousands and thousands coming out each month. The more you put out, the more you will sell your other books. Put out a book every month. It is a monumental thing to complete a novel, but that's just a portion of the battle. I’m more of a commercial writer – I get away with what I get away with because of my brand. I don’t ever want to know what happens next and have a good career because of that. Sure, I could write twenty books with the same characters, but that's boring to me. I am satisfied with my output and eager to find prospective media partners because I have established a brand as a troublemaker. Some people freakin’ hate me because I played a character on my podcast who was a big mouth. When you are able to brand yourself in a way – and people see you as two-dimensional – you can be rebellious and get away with doing outrageous stuff. I wrote a family-friendly kid's book and it freaked people out. It's a totally different voice because that’s what I do, and I don't want to pigeon hole myself.

As a writer, do you have any weird/strange rituals that you do when you have writer’s block?

I have never had stage fright or writer’s block because I have spent my entire adult life as an artist/composer and writer. I am very tuned into my creative and mental space. I’m at it 24,7 and am writing all the time. The last thing I do in bed is write. I don't have a ritual. I am just addicted to writing. If I go two or three days without writing something, I get weirded out. Dictation programs don’t work for me. I need that moment of pause between brain and hands. I’m very fortunate because I am NOT the stereotypical writer who is a clich├ęd procrastinator. My ritual is, when the house is quiet, I put my headphones on and crank away -- best feeling in the world! 

What projects do you have on the horizon? What's coming up next?

I have a ridiculous back catalog of unexploited work. My plan is to publish 14 books in the next twelve months. I have written stuff and come back to it years later. I have a ton of completed works. I have a screenplay that I was paid to write but didn’t happen. I then wrangled the thing back with rights and adapted into a book. I am building a real platform with enough revenue coming in; writing and publishing is full-time for me. Everytime I embark on a project and someone picks up the phone to call me, an opportunity opens up. 

My upcoming novel "Shadow Falls: Angel of Death" is part of a series and has a supernatural edge to it modeled after LOST. I wrote prequel "Shadow Falls: Badlands" which is a re-telling of Cain and Abel mythology. "Diary of a Madman" is the bridge between  the two books. "Badlands" is 150 years in the past and "Diary" takes place in present day. The series isn't linear and there are gaps. "Angel of Death" is very experimental  (not "Game of Thrones"). I am eager for people to read "Angel of Death".  What I aspire to do with fiction – tell these fantastical tales and adventures with lots of violence in them. The books have deep and real themes with a high cost to tradition.

For more information about Mark's soon-to-be-released novel "Shadow Falls: Angel of Death" check out his website 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bestselling Author Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff Shares Secrets Behind Writing Success

Part Two - Interview with Bestselling, Award-Winning Author Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff

After working as a music composer for television, what drew you to write about such grisly topics – your titles alone sound gruesome: “Killing My Boss” and “Diary of A Madman”? Why did you explore these particular topics?


I wanted to be a writer and I worked as a commercial writer throughout the years. I was always drawn to Stephen King – the grisly, sci-fi type books – and it was in my creative DNA. When I became a 'writer' writer, the horror, darkness and weird stuff just naturally flowed out of my fingertips. When I started my podcast “Pacific Coast Hellway” in my car, I pushed the boundaries of the First Amendment and it was like ‘hmmm, what can I get away with?’ My podcast JUST exploded and became very successful. I was driving in my car screaming into my phone all kinds of crazy stuff. It turned into a full-time gig on Sirius radio five nights a week.

I learned that when I stopped filtering myself – if I just let myself express my crazy, dark evil thoughts – I could actually connect with people. That taught me a big lesson: when I do something MY way, opportunities just come up and turn into a full-time job. I continued to follow this pattern with my writing and books. It always fails some way if I don’t do it my own way and let it loose. If you are an artist – let it happen without letting it happen. Take a process, create and don’t worry about it. I stopped shielding that I have a dark and twisted personality – that’s who I am. I am not ‘Mr. Skittles and Sunshine’. “Diary of A Madman was a foray into extremely twisted fiction with graphic, violent scenes. I got bold and started to podcast my own stories – a serialized novel for “Diary”. I quickly found out there is a huge audience for the really twisted and dark stuff.

For self-published authors who don’t know where to start with their self-publishing journey (especially with ebooks), what are the biggest lessons you have learned? What sage advice do you have to pass along to newbies?


Writing and publishing is my full-time gig. It helped me a lot that I have a footprint online. Google is your best friend. You need to have a presence online; it lends more substance and significance and people will take a chance on you.  It’s one thing to ask your friends and family to buy your book – the people who know you as that goofball who they don't take seriously. Only five percent of your friends and family will pony up and actually buy your book; everyone else will wait to jump on the bandwagon. Brand yourself! The stronger your brand, the more people who don’t know you will take a chance on you. It is one thing to get people to click on your link, but it’s another thing for them to get out their wallet and spend money.
Appeal to people who have interest in your subject matter. I never promoted my nonfiction. I used Google Adwords because I got a coupon. I can’t even tell you how many books I sold that way. All the proper online resources – social media, blog etc. - need to inspire and be worth glancing at. Offer FREE content. The content MUST catch their eye in order to cross your threshold.

It’s REALLY important to remember that every ebook you publish is a long-tail business. With an indie publisher, it’s a long tail philosophy – it’s all about planting a seed. My book “Latte” was a total goof for me. I got a call from Access Hollywood after Lindsay Lohan assaulted her assistant and they asked me to come on the show and talk about Hollywood assistants. This happened in 2008. That afternoon I was in Burbank doing the show, and they showed the cover of my book during the story. As a result, I did a podcast and told some stories related to “Latte”, but I stopped doing it. I didn’t want to be known as “that” guy who wrote a book about Hollywood assistants. I hate being pigeon holed.

The book came out in paperback in 2007. The first year it was out I made “beer money” off the book. I totally forgot about it and wasn’t focused on it. For two years, I didn’t look at my sales statements. In March of this year, I opened up the statements and it jumped from beer money to “car payment” money. What happened??!! I realized that the book had started selling copies. How did it go from nothing to making THAT KIND of MONEY?!! I dug around and found out that when the Kindle 3 came out, there was a huge explosion in sales that coincided with Kindle apps for mobile devices: the more devices, the more people bought ebooks. It ramped up, and now “Latte” is making significant money. It now has jumped to making “mortgage payment” money. It helps that it’s on Amazon’s bestselling list, and has been consistently number one in the subcategory TV/Entertainment. I notice that it jumps up during weekends and sells more copies. On an average weekday, it sells between 100 to150 copies.

My best advice is not to be discouraged – wait a year from now. I don’t worry about doing a big big marketing blitz for a few months. I’ll wait and let my book get picked up by search engines. My sales have grown ridiculously – 100s to 1000s books a month. But lot of factors came into play. I’ve had a presence online for awhile. I have worked full-time as an indie media creator and artist. Since 2005, I have put stuff out there on the internet and it’s grown. I don't have nearly the reputation like other authors out there, but I still have a good reputation and following. I have completed dozens of different projects—all kinds of crazy stuff. I do it different than others. I created a petri dish and experimented, and received valuable feedback as a result.  Your success depends on how hard you want to work and where you focus your time and energy.


Stay tuned for Part 3 on Friday - the last post in my interview series with Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff. Find out what's on the horizon for Mark and his "Angel of Death Chronicles" series! 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Bestselling Author Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff Shares Success Behind His Book "The Killing of Osama Bin Laden"


I dusted off my journalist's hat last week and interviewed bestselling, award-winning author Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff. I appreciate Mark taking the time out of his busy schedule to talk with me about the method to his writing 'madness'. Literally - all puns intended. Mark writes dark, edgy horror thrillers including: "Diary of a Madman" and "Killing My Boss" (just to name a few!)

Mark made a living writing music for television before opportunity knocked and transformed him into a screen/TV writer and later an award-winning and bestselling author featured on “Access Hollywood.” A podcast he recorded in his car turned into a drive-time radio show on Sirius five nights a week. This led to a handsome feature in Playboy Magazine that compared Mark to Howard Stern and Jon Stewart. Mark later created an internet video series that led to him being cast as the on-screen host of TV’s “The MoShow”, a nationally syndicated newsmagazine about smartphones and mobile entertainment.

His book The Killing of Osama Bin Laden, released less than a week after U.S. Navy SEALs killed the Al Qaeda leader, has become a fixture on several Amazon bestseller lists, including the non-fiction top 100 for all books.
Your book “The Killing of Osama Bin Laden” took Amazon by storm. You are THE FIRST author to write a book about the killing of Bin Laden.  Where did you get the idea to write this book AND how did you crank it out so fast?


Mark: I was stunned by the news. It was mind-blowing  and it was one of those moments that shatter your psyche. The news that we had got “the guy” – it just struck a chord in me and I was consumed by the news. I am a news JUNKIE! I grew up in a newsroom so news is in my blood. The morning after Bin Laden was killed I was searching furiously and reading bits and pieces everywhere about how they got him. It was a Hollywood blockbuster story that was all true. I saw how all the narrative fell together; it really was a perfect story.
I am a ridiculously prolific writer. I can can write an enormous amount of content in a short amount of time. I became addicted to the process, and I put it together in four days days and worked ten to twelve hours to crank it out . I made phone calls and read everything I could get my hands on. It became apparent that I was going to be the first guy to put out a book about the killing of Bin Laden. As a result, I became enamored by the idea. Wow, I could REALLY be the first person to do it. This would be something very different for me, but not too far off from my brand.

I didn’t have big expectations for the book. I published it within a week and it exploded!  During that first weekend, it hit the nonfiction top 100 list. It spent 72 days on the Amazon History bestseller list and hit that list the first week it was published. I also hit my Kindle-only subcategory list for Middle East history in the first 24 hours. Now two months later, the book continues to do well and has been steady on Amazon’s nonfiction top 100 list.

The biggest surprise from this book was my comic book project. I was contacted by the CEO of an animation company just five days after the book was published. As a result, I negotiated a comic book series, SEAL TEAM X. Think “Men in Black” meets aliens with a sci-fi twist. The series will be launching in the upcoming months.

The best advice I’ve received since writing and publishing books is from a good friend who puts out an indie label in New York City. He told me the best way to sell your back catalog is by putting out new content. It was great advice that I’ve taken to heart – it’s helped me expand my horizons and readership.
Mark’s “The Killing of Osama Bin Laden” book is proof of that sage advice!

Stay tuned for Part Two this week. Learn more inside tips and tricks from Mark – how to effectively market and put your best face forward when it comes to your online brand.

For more information about Mark Yashimoto Nemcoff and his books, please visit http://wordsushi.com/  or his Facebook page. Mark is currently offering a FREE download of “Shadow Falls: Badland” on iBooks to kick off the next in his series of the dark horror thriller, “Shadow Falls: Angel of Death.”  

Monday, August 8, 2011

How To Conduct eBook Market Research On a Limited Budget


You have a great eBook idea that you think will take the world by storm. Before you even put pen to paper (or fingers to keypad), ask yourself this question: have I conducted market research?


I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I am fairly certain that your idea isn't new and there is probably an eBook out there already with a similar topic. It doesn't make sense to just sit down and write your book without first conducting market research: WHO will read your book and does your book topic have marketing potential? 


Here are ten FREE market research resources I suggest using: 


1. Use search engines - search for keywords that pertain to your topic and look at page rank popularity based on the topic and/or book title.

2. Check out your competition - What eBooks are selling? Is your genre/topic far too popular? Not popular enough?

3. Take advantage of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Industry Digital Publishing Forumwhen researching target markets and their demographics.

4. Who's following who on social media? Connect with fellow eBook writers on social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. How many followers do they have? Is their topic a big seller? What strategies do they use or don't use on their social media?

5. Read industry-specific articles. It's important to stay on top of late-breaking news in the publishing industry, and eBooks are a HOT topic right now. Check out http://www.teleread.com/

6. Join forums and discussion groups, and find out what eBook readers want and don't want. LinkedIn has eBook and digital publishing groups so don't forget to check them out.

7. Don't forget to check out Kindle and eBook sales stats. What books and genres sell? What are the most popular (and most sold) eBooks on Amazon, Kindle, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Sony?

8. Conduct a poll or survey on your social media networks, website or blog. Go directly to the source, and ask your followers/fans what topics interest them.

9. Don't forget international markets. If you want to target people outside of your country, make sure your book topic appeals to an international demographic. Do you speak another language? Could you translate your book into another language? Check out customs and cultures. Not all eBook topics are a good fit for an international audience.

10. Don't limit yourself to just online resources. Visit local bookstores and check out what's selling. What's popular today could be a passing fancy by next month. Stay on top of the latest trends and fads. Vampires may be yesterday's news by the holidays - you never know!

Before you start writing, research first. The topic you choose may not be the best eBook topic, and why waste your valuable time writing an eBook that doesn't have marketing or sales potential? If you want to write an eBook to further promote yourself and give it away as a freebie, that's an excellent way to draw attention to your brand and bring in new clientele. Just remember to research your topic first!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Ego Turn-Off: Why Your Email Lists Unsubscribe

As a copywriter and marketer, I support my fellow colleagues in their sales endeavors. We all have to make a living and support our businesses. But there is always that one email that leaves me shaking my head. 

Yesterday I received an email from a professional copywriter and marketer. First, I have never heard of this guy. I possibly could have opted-in to his list months ago, but this is the first correspondence I received from him.

What was the big turn-off? I can sum it up in one word - ego. He reeled me in with "So can I ask your opinion?" Sure, I'll give you my opinion. However, I stopped reading after the first paragraph. The email was all about HIM and how he's made millions of dollars for his clients. I scanned the length of the email, and it was at least five pages (possibly more). In the first paragraph, he made excuses as to why he hadn't sent emails lately. He was just too busy to bother with us lowly people, because he was too busy making other "cool" people rich. Yeah, that will win a lot of people over to your side with that kind of bragadocious tone.

Not only was the sales pitch riddled with his ego, but it was poorly written. He calls himself a copywriter and professional marketer, and claims he knows the biggies like Michael Masterson and Clayton Makepeace.

His email turned me off, and I definitely did not want to find out more about his marketing course he was trying to sell. He lost me at hello! After my experience with this email sales pitch, it made me realize (once again) that we only have a few split seconds to make a good impression. 

In email campaigns that involve sales pitches, I suggest you avoid the following:

1. Don't turn your email into a "brag book." Testimonials from clients are great, but I didn't see one testimonial in his email. I would have been more impressed if he had actual testimonials from his million-dollar clients -- instead of him bragging up and down about how he's been so busy with these clients. 

2. Offer to HELP people and be genuine! Did he offer me a free report on how I could make more money? No. Did he offer me a free consultation to discuss my marketing goals? No. 

3. Do NOT write dissertation-length emails. Who has time to read ten pages worth of copy? My head was swimming as I scrolled down his email. Far too much copy for one email! 

4. Break up key points by using bullet points, boxes, or different colors/fonts. 

5. Use a CLEAR Call to Action. I scrolled to the end of his email, and I couldn't find a succinct Call to Action, Did he just want my opinion or did he want me to buy his course? Or both? I was lost in his jumble of words, and I couldn't pinpoint a clear message -- what the heck did he want me to do?

As a result, I unsubscribed from his email list, and I sent him constructive comments as to why I unsubscribed. Maybe he'll take my comments to heart and realize he needs to dial back his ego (or maybe not).

Bravado and rambling, confusing sales pitches just won't cut it anymore. People can smell a fake a mile away, and based on his email tone alone I wouldn't spend my hard-earned money on his course. He didn't give me a good enough reason to invest in him or the course he's offering. I'm not downplaying his expertise. He could be the best marketer in the world, but how would I know that based on his rambling, all-about-me email? 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Google+: Will This Shiny New Social Media Wear Off?

Everyone has an opinion about Google+ so I thought I'd take a stab at it. I've used Google+ for over two weeks and am still learning about its bells and whistles. It feels more manageable than Facebook, and I like the Circles concept. Google has hit almost 5 million users, so obviously people are using it.

Ironically, Mark Zuckerberg is the #1 followed person on Google+. I guess he's making Google+ work in his social media favor. But that's not really saying much. It's also available as a Google+ iPhone app...get it while it's hot. Blackberry and Android users can also download the app as well.

What happens when the new social media shine wears off? Will we still, as social media users, swear by Google+ and forget about Facebook and other social networking sites? 

According to this PCMag article by Chloe Albanesius, Facebook and  LinkedIn still take the lead:

Facebook, meanwhile, recently confirmed that it now has 750 million users, but CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company didn't publicize the milestone because user numbers are not as important as they once were. LinkedIn is also now the second most-popular social-networking service as MySpace continues to decline, TechCrunch reported. 

What do you think of Google+? Will its shiny appeal fade and should Zuckerberg be worried? 

Therese Pope, Copywriter/Content Developer & Digital Buzz-icist

Content Writing & Marketing Tips ** Online Buzz Branding

** Digital & Social Media Strategies