3 Benefits of Joining a Masterclass

I have found that the best workshops for my learning style are like mini-boot camps. They are goal-oriented and time-sensitive with students who are enthusiastic and ready to achieve their goals. 

I want to be surrounded by people who, like me, are hitting the pavement, ready to go.

What is a masterclass?

A masterclass or mastermind group is a peer-to-peer mentoring concept used to help members solve their problems with input and advice from the other group members.

In addition to you achieving your goals (e.g., fully funding your book), participating in a masterclass has at least three tangible benefits.

1) Accountability

When you know you’re meeting every week and will have to speak up and discuss your project, you end up getting more done than when you operate in a vacuum.

I’ve met so many authors who have said that they have completed manuscripts that are collecting dust for years. YEARS! Life gets hectic and in the way of accomplishing our goals.

All of a sudden, what we once thought was a priority gets replaced by the urgency of the NOW and we end up dropping our work. It happens all of the time.

By joining a masterclass, your peers are committing to holding you accountable, and likewise, you are serving as their accountability partner. Simply by asking someone, “What are you struggling with this week?” forces a type of self-reflection that may be missing in the lone writer’s world.

2) Expert guidance

As lovely as peer-to-peer groups are, and I’m part of many of them, it’s extremely helpful to have an experienced person guiding the group. Masterclasses are generally organized by someone with experience who is not only skilled at managing people but at helping them reach their goals within a certain time period.

When I hired my marketing coach, I desperately needed direction. I needed someone to ask me questions that I didn’t know were important and hand me an extensive to-do list that would advance my career to the next level. I didn’t know what I didn’t know and I needed help. Big time.

Without an expert guiding the way, peer-to-peer mentoring groups remain largely self-serving. Yes, you will probably reach your goals, but it won’t have the time-sensitive boot camp nature that masterclasses or masterminds often have.

Really great masterclasses contain exercises and action items to help the participants cruise through the material, apply it, and advance more quickly than working solo.

3) Personalized tutoring/mentorship

Readers of blogs and listeners of podcasts are subject to the limits of the creator’s pace. A masterclass incorporates established material (courses, blogs, podcasts, etc.,) with tutoring to allow participants to advance at their pace, ask questions, and receive individualized support.

The opportunity to ask questions, gain clarification, and obtain peer and mentor support is a unique feature of the masterclass design that is lacking in other online course forums.

Helping more authors successfully crowdfund their books 

After beta testing my Crowdfunding for Authors course, I noticed that the group interaction was where a lot of the magic happened.

However, the course is self-paced, and some students didn’t launch their campaigns at the same time. That’s totally fine but I saw a missed opportunity.

By grouping together crowdfunding authors who are all launching at the same time, we can create a network where we share resources, leverage marketing opportunities, and get real-time support before and during their campaigns.

The mentoring support happens in the crucial pre-launch phase and the peer-to-peer support happens during the campaign phase.

Crowdfunding is all about community and so often, writers find themselves trying to build a community from scratch. It’s much much much easier to build momentum, rally positive energy, and battle the self-doubt when there is a network of like-minded people doing the same thing at the same time. (the whole, A rising tide lifts all ships, concept).

Interested in joining a master class?

If you want to join a group of authors who are all laser focused on crowdfunding their book between now and April/May 2024, then check out my Author Launch Accelerator Program.

Frances Mackay shares 8 major tips for launching your book on Kickstarter

Frances Mackay

Frances Mackay’s publishing career started during her 20 years as an educator. She’s published over 90 books for Scholastic, Oxford University Press, Folens, and more. 

Her latest picture book, Baby Worries, is live on Kickstarter (and a Project We Love), and she’s here to share her lessons learned from the pre-launch and launch process for authors looking to crowdfund their books on Kickstarter.

Frances Mackay’s 8 Major Tips for Launching Your Book on Kickstarter


I thought I’d share with you my Kickstarter journey and some tips that may help anyone considering doing a Kickstarter. My campaign has just begun – but there’s a lot to share about the journey of getting there.

My tips for getting yourself ready for your first KS campaign:

    1. Plan well in advance! I first thought about doing a campaign in April, and I planned to do the launch in July, thinking that 3-4 months would be long enough to get ready.

      I live in Australia, and I didn’t consider the summer vacations in the UK and USA, so I changed the launch date to September instead – and thankfully, I did because I just didn’t anticipate the work involved in getting everything ready.

    2. Look carefully at other book campaigns already launched on Kickstarter. Study the pages – how the video has been done, what their page looks like, the graphics, etc. Compare the differences between the successful campaigns and those that didn’t succeed – and note of what appears to work best.

    3. Back some campaigns yourself. Kickstarter likes to have creators who have backed other people before they create their own campaign. It also gives you an insight into how the platform works and the types of messages you receive as a backer. Note what you liked and didn’t like about the information you received from these campaigns.

    4. If you can afford to do so, get guidance from Kickstarter consultants. I used the services of Lisa Ferland, who is very experienced in helping children’s book authors create their campaigns. You can get one-to-one help or purchase her vault of guides and templates – it is very thorough – I couldn’t have created my campaign without this help.

    5. Purchase Canva Pro. I can’t recommend this app highly enough – it’s not very expensive per month and is invaluable in creating everything you need – videos, graphics for social media ads and posts, flyers, brochures, worksheets – you name it – Canva has customizable templates for everything. It’s the one app I couldn’t do without in my marketing creations.

    6. Build up an email list. I started with 65 people in April, and I now have 1900 emails! An email list is invaluable because over the months before the campaign, you can communicate with these people, give them freebies, tips, and ideas, etc., to build a relationship with them – and hopefully, they will be your biggest supporters when the time comes.

    7. Invest in a mailing site to send your emails out. I use Mailerlite. The main reason I chose it was because it offers 24/7 chat support – even at the lowest cost level. And this chat service has been a huge help to me when I was learning how to use the program – as it’s very tricky at first!

    8. Finally – find out as much as you can about printing, shipping, and fulfilment. Decide if you are going to use offset printing and have the books sent to you where you have to store, pack and ship everything yourself or POD – or a combination of both. Working out what was best for me took a long time. It will be different for everyone, and it’s vital that you work out the costs involved to make sure the rewards you offer are profitable.

 

If you found these tips helpful, please consider supporting Frances with a Kickstarter pledge at any level as a way to say thank you and support the crowdfunding author community.

The illustrations are adorable and kids love laughing at all of the animated characters and scenes.

Click here to see her campaign on Kickstarter

Frances Mackay

Frances Mackay

I taught primary school for 20 years in Australia and the UK and have published over 90 books for Scholastic, Oxford University Press, and others. Baby Worries is my fourth book now available on Kickstarter with bonus materials perfect for teachers, parents, and librarians.

The Secret to Marketing Your Book Without Annoying People

Marketing is cited as the #1 pain in the rump for most writers, which is funny because…

1) marketing and then selling our books is the only way we can continue to write and do what we love,

2) marketing is a great way to creatively express your ideas, and

3) you’re a writer so you are already skilled in the best marketing tool there is—more writing.

But, I totally get it because I often feel the same way. We are selling books, literature, art! We aren’t marketing gadgets or gizmos.

Our stories came from our hearts and it feels wrong to “push” them onto people. We want people to love them just like we do.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. 

If people don’t see your books, they won’t know they are available for purchase.

As writers, writing should be easy, non?

Facebook ads and Amazon ads, etc., are all great but you gain external credibility when another website publishes your personal essays or articles that are tangentially related to your book(s).

Is it slower and more work to market in this way? 

Perhaps, but it should be part of your marketing toolkit and you’d be remiss in not trying it.

Non-annoying strategy #1 – write and publish personal essays

Here’s an example of how to market your book in a personal essay

This personal essay in Conde Naste Traveler “How My Mother’s Travels Shaped My World View” focused on a the writer’s relationship with her mother.

At the end of the personal essay, the author mentions,

“She wanted to travel the globe, and she did. Because of my mom, I decided to work in food media after college, even though I had zero connections in that world and all my peers were going into finance. I wrote a cookbook while working as a full-time journalist.”

The author bio at the bottom linked to the woman’s cookbook and voilá! This author is effectively marketing her book to a very warm audience. 

In fact, she is providing entertainment value and making herself relatable to the audience before inviting them to buy her book.

That’s how you market your book without being annoying.

Do you think readers are more or less likely to share an article about a moving emotional essay about interpersonal relationships than they are an Instagram graphic that says, “Buy my cookbook!”?

Readers are more likely to share writing that speaks to them on an emotional level than they will a clear advertisement. 

You have to wine and dine your readers before you ask them to buy. It’s how it works.

Write essays and publish them everywhere

Once you write a killer personal essay with your audience in mind, start pitching it to external outlets.

The bigger the outlet, the tougher it’ll be, but the sweeter the credibility and ultimate reward (more readers).

Research the tone of the articles featured by the publication and match your personal essay to their audience.

This approach gets your book in front of a lot of people all at once without annoying anyone.

You can (and should) feel proud pushing the article on all of your platforms because it’s not screaming, “BUY MY BOOK!”

The downside is that it’s not easy to (successfully) pitch third-party websites your essays and it requires a lot of lead time.

There is a ton of rejection involved in freelance writing and if you’re not experienced, you’re going to become quickly frustrated.

Alternatives to publishing on third-party websites

Don’t have time to pitch and get rejected over and over again?

Here are some alternatives to third-party exposure:

—Publish your essays on Medium
—Publish your writing on LinkedIn
—Publish your writing on your own website (you should have an author platform, hello!)

—Publish your personal essays directly on Facebook itself. Facebook loves long reads because it keeps readers scrolling and scrolling. End with a strong call to action and link to buy.
—Coordinate with other bloggers who might have smaller-than-Conde-Naste-size audiences and see if they take guest posts

Follow the example above—offer authentic, genuine writing that is attractive to your intended audience and weave in the fact that you’ve written a book toward the end of your essay with a link in your bio.

Non-annoying strategy #2 – Optimize your homepage

If the website doesn’t allow links to books/products, then definitely ask for a link to your homepage and make sure your homepage is optimized to send people to your book.

For my current children’s book Kickstarter campaign, I optimized my homepage to be a landing page. 

My homepage sent people directly to my Kickstarter campaign that way if any third-party website articles take off and link to my homepage, readers will be clearly directed to my book’s campaign.

So, in conclusion, forget the ‘Buy my book!” messaging and write another story. Write a behind-the-scenes story. Write something emotional or transformative.

Write your best work and when readers love your essay, they’ll rush out to buy your book when given the opportunity.

Keep your homepage simple and clean, and when in doubt, add a big button to direct people to your crowdfunding campaign.

Don’t lose that traffic that you worked so hard for!

An optimized homepage is the LEAST annoying thing you can do.

Non-annoying strategy #3 – Automated email sequences

Are you neglecting your email newsletter list?

You remember – the group of people who agreed to give you their contact information, but you never send them emails because you’re afraid of annoying them?

Here’s how to send emails to your newsletter list without fear of annoying anyone at all:

1 – Send an automated welcome email that is human, casual, and simple.

This lets your readers know that A) you received their information, B) they can learn more about you, and C) they can respond to the email and feel reassured that a real human being is behind the computer.

2 – Test out different headlines. 

If someone doesn’t open your email, it means that they didn’t see your message/content OR call-to-action (like ‘Check out my campaign on Kickstarter!”). 

Monitoring your email open rates is really important and super informative on what email headlines are grabbing people’s attention and which ones are being ignored.

When you retarget people with a new headline, send the new email ONLY to those people who never opened your first email.

You’re NOT sending them too many emails because they already aren’t reading them and you KNOW IT.


So many authors have this hang up about unsubscribe rates or “bothering people” — I mean, you don’t want people on your newsletter list to just sit there and collect dust, right?

Isn’t the entire point to generate a conversation? Add value to their lives? Get feedback from beta readers?

How can you do any of that if you aren’t regularly engaging with them?

Let’s look at it this way — if you have ZERO issues putting out content on Instagram and responding to comments there, then you should have ZERO issues sending emails to your subscribers.

It’s the same exact concept. They gave you permission to email them, so be sure to email them! 

If they don’t like your content, they’ll unsubscribe and be on their merry way — no stress, no drama.

So, test out those headlines and stop worrying about emailing “too often” – there’s no such thing as long as you’re sending them quality content that is engaging, educational, or inspirational.

 

Want 25 Creative Ideas to get your book in front of readers? 

Whether you are launching your book on Amazon, your website, or on Kickstarter, you need to put your book in front of readers 7 different times before they’ll take action.

Here are 25 ways to do it!

Click here for instant access (no email required).

I send out helpful marketing emails every Friday. Be sure to join my newsletter list to get these tips and tools!

Do you want to launch your book’s Kickstarter campaign without annoying anyone?

If you’re interested in learning HOW to create a marketing strategy for your book’s Kickstarter campaign that doesn’t annoy your readers, then you are invited to book a 60-minute discovery call.

Serious inquiries only — you must have big goals ($10k or more) and be ready to work hard and invest in your own success.

Let’s dig deeper!

 

Top 5 Cons when launching your book traditionally instead of on Kickstarter

top 5 cons to a traditional book launch

Affiliate Disclaimer: The following article contains Amazon affiliate links below.

Many authors (me included) who experience success on Kickstarter and build a large audience will then launch subsequent books directly to Amazon or host pre-orders on their websites. 

Why? 

Mostly time and effort.

Kickstarter campaigns require a lot of organization and it’s very tempting to skip over all of the hype building and coordination of multiple stakeholders and publish directly on Amazon via Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) so that your book is available TODAY and ready to buy.

Children’s book author Leigha Huggins, raised nearly $14k for her first book, Love Lottery, on Kickstarter and recently released her second book, The Giving World, in October 2021 directly on Amazon.

I asked her what her honest experience was launching in both methods and she generously shared her true feelings on a Kickstarter vs. traditional book launch. 

The following is from an interview with Leigha in her words.

What results did you see in a 30-day launch on Amazon vs. a 30-day Kickstarter campaign?

To be quite honest, the traditional book launch has been a bit of a letdown. I haven’t been really impressed with the soft launch of The Giving World on Kindle Direct Publishing.

I think we broke $100 in sales during our first week, but it was nothing compared to the excitement of reaching a goal of $4,700 on day one of my Kickstarter for Love Lottery. (See Fully Funded in 24 Hours for how Leigha did this.)

What are three pros and three cons you’ve experienced launching your book traditionally compared to your previous Kickstarter campaign?

Traditional book launch on Amazon

Pro #1 – I don’t have to fulfill orders (I’m printing with KDP so orders are all handled by Amazon).

Pro #2 – I didn’t have to create a promo video.

Pro #3 – Instant availability – readers don’t have to wait for the campaign to be over or for a print run of books.

Con #1 – There is no urgency. It’s one of those things that I think people will just check it out at some point on Amazon, but there’s no incentive for them to do so during launch week.

Con #2 – Just hitting the publish button (well a bit more than that) is kinda like getting a high-five as opposed to throwing a party!

The excitement with an Amazon launch just wasn’t as grand as having launched a Kickstarter for Love Lottery.

Both books were equal in terms of the love and the intention of bringing both books to life but the feel of the launches was very different.

Con #3 – You can’t do a Kickstarter once you publish… or could I still possibly run a Kickstarter for The Giving World hardcover edition?

(Lisa’s answer: Yes, you can run a Kickstarter campaign for a hardcover edition or limited-edition print run.)

Con #4 – You wonder what your Kickstarter launch would have raised…

Ha… one more …

Con #5 – You have no idea who bought your book on Amazon so you are unable to follow up with your customers when you launch books in the future.

Would you say that your pre-launch time and effort for a traditional book launch was more, less, or about the same amount as your Kickstarter launch?

Not at all close.

Where you put effort, you usually see a reward.

Let’s just say I put a lot, lot, lot of effort into the launch of Love Lottery – and still a good amount of time for The Giving World.

What would you change about your traditional book launch (if anything) to have more of a Kickstarter-like effect?

I wish I would have done a launch date or even promoted a date for a “Now Available on Amazon” launch.

I could have then built up some excitement with a countdown.

Do you prefer the Kickstarter model or the traditional book launch model? Does it depend on the title you’re releasing?

I’m sure it would depend on the title and the purpose of the book, but hands down the best way to introduce something into the world is with the support of other creatives, not just your book in the sea of Amazon listings.

I would 100% recommend running a Kickstarter – especially if this is your first book. But in the same breath, a traditional launch has its place too.

Would you do a traditional book launch again or do you prefer Kickstarter?

I think it would depend on the situation. Kickstarter is my preferred method of introducing my passion project into the world.

But timing and urgency – and just time, in general, lead us to launch our newest release on Amazon.

Anything else you want to mention?

I have had mixed feedback on the cover of The Giving World.

With Love Lottery, I loved the interaction on Kickstarter and allowing backers who supported you to vote and have feedback on things that were still in progress.

It would have been wonderful to have people give their insights and let them give us feedback on the cover options.

Bio

Leigha Huggins The Giving World

With love, purpose, and warmth, Leigha Huggins invites you into her world with her heartfelt stories. Leigha believes intention and words are the guiding force in life. Visit her website to learn more about The Giving World.

Website: www.thegivingworld.org

 

 

More Books by Leigha Huggins

Related

I too, had some regrets about launching my book directly to Amazon. Watch the video below for more:

Want to work together? 

If you’re serious about launching your book on Kickstarter, then I’m here to help you figure it out without needing to recreate the wheel.

I offer free tips here and on my YouTube channel as well as a personalized comprehensive 1:1 crowdfunding coaching program that keeps you on track and organized.

Click on the link below to book a 60-min discovery call and fill in the questionnaire to see if we are a good fit to work together.

Lessons Learned from Launching 7 Kickstarter Campaigns

Joseph Becker is currently raising over $20k on his 7th Kickstarter campaign for his children’s book series Annabelle and Aiden. 

Joseph was kind enough to answer some questions and provide some insights to how he was able to use Kickstarter as a marketing tool for his books.

You’ve launched 7 different campaigns on Kickstarter for your books and it’s clear that your audience has grown with each success. Why do you enjoy launching on Kickstarter versus a more traditional book launch on Amazon or your website?

 
Kickstarter is a wonderful platform because it draws a large crowd who apparently browse Kickstarter for projects to fund. A surprisingly large amount of funds always come from this cold audience.
 
Also, I think of Kickstarter as free advertising: it costs nothing upfront, so there’s really no risk involved. And every pledge you get is another free signup on your email list.
 
This is a great way to gain a following and a community behind your books. It’s the ultimate marketing tool.

For each campaign, your funding goal was very low compared to how much money you raised. What do you think contributed the most to get people to back the campaign vs. waiting for the official publication of the book? 

The first thing that comes to mind is getting large (and I mean huge) Facebook pages (with hundreds of thousands or millions of ‘likes’) that align with the “mission” of your books (whether celebrating diversity, environmentalism, or childhood development) to share your campaign.
 
That is the number one thing. 
 

How much audience education do you typically do before you launch?

That’s a tough one. Now, I just post 2 to 4 “Kickstarter coming soon” posts weeks before to whet everyone’s appetites. There used to be a tool called Thunderclap that was the best tool to build excitement for an upcoming Kickstarter campaign, but they were shut down by the social media giants.
 

Do you find it gets easier with each campaign or do you face new challenges each time?

Both. It gets easier to raise money but at the same time your standards and expectations and goals get higher, so they are harder and harder to reach.

I’ve done 5 campaigns. For the first four, every single one raised $7,000 more than the last. However, the 5th one raised $3,000 less than the fourth. That was a bit tough for me, even though it still raised $17,000: a number I would have been ecstatic about just 2 years earlier.  

 

How did you meet your illustrator?

Through searching with Google. We’ve done 5 books together, all through email. I still have never spoken with her, which amazes people. She lives in Italy.  
 

What advice would you give an author who is in the middle of their campaign and still hasn’t funded?

I’d give them pointers and encouragement, and let them know the Kickstarter algorithm does kick in at the end for a strong finish. 
 

Will you continue to launch new books via Kickstarter?

Probably. 

What are you currently working on?

I have a few book ideas, and have started one or two, but I am really going to try to turn my business model over from print-on-demand to printing through China and selling through Amazon Advantage. That will take time and lots of money, but that’s my next step.

I may take a break from creating new books for a year or so, and try to up my game in selling the five titles I already have. 

 

Anything else? 

Folks could learn more at www.AnnabelleAndAiden.com

Be sure to check out his campaigns below to see how he priced his rewards and structured his campaigns.

Be sure to check out his current Kickstarter, Oh My Gods!

 LIVE now

Bio

Joseph Becker holds a B.A. in Philosophy and a Juris Doctorate from Emory University School of Law. When he’s not practicing entertainment law, playing drums, or enjoying the great outdoors, Joseph enjoys all the science and philosophy books and podcasts he can, pondering the bigger questions and dreaming up ideas for future children stories.

Visit his website at annabelleandaiden.com.

Why Your Book Sales Numbers Tell Only Half the Story

book sales analytics lisa ferland

Book Sales Don’t Tell the Full Story

Indie authors, mainly, love to focus on SALES as a measure of success. Authors must understand that there are many models and paths to publication.

How many books did you sell? What’s your Amazon Best Seller Ranking?

A great benefit to social media is that we can connect with fellow authors around the world and learn what they are doing.

However, there is a dark side to seeing too often what our fellow authors are doing.

It can feel a bit disappointing to think that your well-written, professionally edited, and beautiful books are super successful only to see a Facebook post by another author with better book sales numbers.

It is hard not to allow doubt to creep into the picture if your amazing book isn’t selling as well as the rather mediocre books that claim to be “bestsellers.”

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”—Theodore Roosevelt

couple having a dialogue

Think back to the pre-Internet era where writers could keep their heads down and clack on typewriter keys until something slightly publishable emerged.

Professional comparisons and rivalries still happened to the likes of Hemingway and Fitzgerlad, sure, but they weren’t reading daily claims of literary success by their peers in closed Facebook groups.

Perhaps that’s why Thoreau isolated himself on Walden Pond.

He was probably tired of seeing others’ books sales and massive book tours plastered all over his Facebook newsfeed.

“I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time.”

Henry David Thoreau

Maybe we should all find a virtual cabin in the woods. A place where we are insulated from Facebook notifications, and indie book sales brags.

If you find yourself peeking over at other author’s shoulders more often than writing your work, it might be time to turn OFF all social media notifications until your writing is solidly underway.

Comparison Can Be Useful

Sometimes, what we don’t know does hurt us. Knowledge is paramount to remove fictitious barriers we construct that block us from success.

For example, before I met children’s book authors Laurie Wright and Diane Alber, I had no idea that it was feasible to sell 50-100 books/day per title.

I had no idea.

After hiring them as mentors and learning from them, I discovered how much effort and marketing dollars go into getting those numbers. Without that knowledge, I wouldn’t know it was possible.

While knowledge is vital, we’ll still make mistakes even with those expert insights from mentors plowing the field before us.

Authors Don’t Usually Discuss Their Marketing Spend

One thing that many authors keep close to their vests is the amount of money they put into marketing.

Authors are thrilled to share their sales numbers, but they remain reluctant to share their ad spend. Why?

Well, it’s a lovely thought to believe that our books are selling well because they are wonderfully written, well-edited, and professionally illustrated or designed and NOT because we’re spending tons of money to market them.

But in many cases, mediocre books with large marketing budgets will routinely outsell beautiful, well-written books with smaller marketing budgets.

That’s how marketing works.

It takes a lot of money to stand out in front of potential readers in a crowded market.

For example, to market my Halloween book, I spent $5k on Amazon and Facebook ads over a six-week marketing blitz. I had studied, planned, and added fuel to the fire when my return on advertising was optimal. My SALES were terrific.

However, sales are only half of the picture.

If you looked at my balance sheet and saw all of the expenses I incurred to achieve those sales, you’d have a different story. You’d have the whole story.

comparison book sales apples to oranges

Don’t Let Comparison Steal Your Joy

So, in summary, comparing your progress to others’ can be a learning experience.

It’s important to be inspired by other authors’ success, but you can’t dwell in that space for long.

If you can’t help comparing yourself to someone, it’s better to become a measuring stick yourself. Compare your book sales with your previous years’ book sales.

If you have a seasonal book, use your first year as a baseline to compare future sales so you can see where you can improve.

Keep track of your monthly sales and marketing efforts so you can try to identify what techniques or marketing outlets were fruitful and which ones to drop for next time.

We are fortunate to be working in a medium that never expires, and books that are over 30 years old can be at the top of the bestseller charts.

Remember, it’s never too late to be a bestseller, so don’t let comparison rob you of your joy.



Go Deeper

Learn to Hook Your Audience using Tricks from Disney/Pixar
The Three Layer Approach to Writing Excellent Dialogue
Overcome Procrastination With These 4 Tips

4 Tips to Delegate More Tasks as a Writer

woman writing at desk delegate

What tasks should you delegate as a writer? Jana Buchmann has 4 tips that will help you be more effective and productive in your writing business.

How many hats are you wearing?

It’s inevitable. As a small business owner (and you ARE a business owner as an author who wants to sell books), you will wear many, many hats.

Writer.

Marketing manager.

Bookkeeper.

Content developer.

Coach.

Technical support staff.

But while this type of task juggling is to be expected, you have to be aware that not all of your hats are created equal.

Marketing outweighs bookkeeping, for example, because without marketing, there will be no cash to manage.

Not only that, but you have to consider how much time you’re spending in each area as well. If you spend all day tweaking the design on your website and put off sending an email to your list, what have you gained?

Sure, you might have a prettier website, but you lost an opportunity to drive traffic to your offer.

Delegate more tasks as a writer

There comes a time in every entrepreneurial venture where you realize you simply cannot do it all yourself.

Sure, when you’re just getting started you really are the “chief, cook and bottle washer.”

But as your business grows, it becomes painfully obvious that trying to do everything is only going to lead to:

  • Frustration (when critical tasks don’t get done and deadlines are missed)
  • Burn out (when you’re working yet another 12-hour day)
  • Overwhelm (when your to-do list is longer at the end of the day than it was at the beginning)

There are many ways to combat this business-growth hurdle, but one of the best tools is automation.

Imagine a completely hands-off system that works for you even when you’re hiking on a remote mountain or lounging at a spa.

But here’s an even better reason to automate: it lets you scale your writing business.

Think about it, the less manual work you have to do, the more time you have to do the money-making tasks such as networking, marketing, and most important: WRITING.

What should you automate?

You can automate almost everything, but start with:

Email Funnels

What happens when a new subscriber joins your mailing list? Do they just sit in waiting on your list until you have time to send an email?

While broadcast emails have their place—especially in time-sensitive promotions—be sure to also set up an autoresponder series. You will want to set up this series to tell the reader more about you and give them that freebie they signed up for.

Chances are if they signed up, they already read something of yours they enjoyed and would like to learn more about you.

You can tell them more about the progress on your next book for a few days or share some illustrations to entice them. You can give away the first book in your series.

No matter what you use the autoresponder for, just make sure you’re starting that relationship.

And the best thing?

Once your autoresponder is set up, it will continue to work even when you’re not. MailChimp or Mailerlite are great options with free plans.

Email is a great task delegate as a writer so you can focus on creating more content.

Social Media Management

Yes, it’s important to be personable and engaging on social media, but that doesn’t mean you have to log in to Facebook just to post a link to your latest blog or be on Instagram all the time.

Automate that kind of update and save yourself hours of time each and every month. Not only that, but you won’t have to worry about missing an update, either! Check out the free plans of Buffer or Hootsuite.

There are dozens of options for automating every aspect of your small business. As you grow, you’ll find new and better tools to make everything run more smoothly.

But there is one thing you need to think about: You really can’t do it all alone.

No small business becomes a big business with a single person at the wheel.

It takes a team of experts to scale your efforts.

How to build a team

The problem is, building that team brings its own stress.

How can you know who to trust? Where will you find the time to explain your needs? What if you can’t afford to outsource?

These and other questions are what can prevent you from growing your sales and leveraging successful marketing. Here’s what to do about it.

Know Your Personal Work Style & Preferences

Not everyone works in a similar style. Some people love to touch base by phone, while others prefer email.

Some people require a couple of coordination meetings, others work better when you leave them alone until they have some results.

No way is right or wrong, but if you’re a phone person and you hire an email lover, there’s going to be conflict.

Look for team members who are a fit with your preferred work style, and you’ll be much happier with the end result.

Start small

Start by hiring one person to take on the tasks you most dislike, then slowly grow your team and their responsibilities.

Eventually, you’ll be left with only the work you truly want to do and that you enjoy: WRITING! (and your author’s business will run even more smoothly).

When you delegate as a writer, you avoid Shiny Object Syndrome, prevent writer’s burnout, and get more readers subscribing to your emails.

Bio

Jana Buchmann is a children’s book author assistant who takes on the tasks you don’t want to do so you can focus on writing.

Jana is a specialized author assistant who understands the importance of engaging regularly with readers and helps authors maintain their newsletters, social media, and ads.

Learn more about Jana’s author services here: https://www.jbauthorservices.com/

Translating Your Books Into Foreign Languages

translating childrens books pirate ship

Want to reach more readers by translating your book into foreign languages? Be sure to read this article to see if it’s a good idea for your business.

Translating books


Many indie authors are interested in translating their books into other languages to reach as many readers as possible.

As the publishers of our work, we own the rights to translate our words into any language, which is pretty amazing.

However, translating books can become an expensive endeavor with very little return if you don’t think through every aspect of the publishing process.

Foreign publishers contacting you

Sometimes, a foreign publisher will contact you offering their translation and publishing services of your book into their language.

I recommend hiring a foreign rights agent to help you negotiate these contracts so you get the best deal possible.

Contacting foreign rights agents

John Penberthy received almost $40,000 in advances when he sold the foreign rights for his motivational self-help book, To Bee or Not to Bee, to multiple foreign literary agents. 

He researched the email addresses of foreign literary agents and sent them a descriptive email, including a link to his book trailer. 

This effort resulted in offers and translation rights in Korean, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Slovenian, Chinese, and Romanian. 

He said, “I strongly recommend using literary agents (as opposed to contacting publishers directly); they are worth their weight in gold.” 

If you’re interested in learning more about translating your fiction/nonfiction, head to ALLI’s blog on how to sell your foreign rights. 

You can also check out Bookbaby’s foreign translation services.

For children’s book authors, keep reading.

You’ve been warned—this is about to get ugly.

translating childrens books pirate ship
Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

Translating Children’s Books—especially those that rhyme

Working with foreign rights agents may work well for straightforward fiction and nonfiction, but it’s a different story when it comes to children’s books—particularly books written in rhyme.

Balancing proper rhyme, meter, story plot, and reader interest is difficult to do in any language and often doesn’t translate well.

Rhyming books will never translate directly between any two languages (nothing ever does), and the language for children needs to be applicable.

This always results in the creation of a new storyline.

Oh, and you’ll need a snappy new title with market appeal in your target language.

A revised storyline requires one of two approaches:

—commissioning new illustrations ($), or
—shoehorning your new story to match your existing illustrations.

Translating a rhyming children’s book can become quite expensive for the indie publisher and difficult to market if you don’t know the language.

Click the image to purchase the hardcover version
VI FIRAR HALLOWEEN INBUNDEN
Klicka länken att köpa inbunden boken

My experience translating English rhymes into Swedish

When I originally planned to publish my books in two languages—my native English and my adopted language Swedish—I didn’t fully grasp the consequences of my idea.

I was naive in thinking that since my books were short children’s books, we could find words that rhyme in both languages.

It doesn’t matter if your books are 300 words or 3,000—if there is rhyming involved, you might want to reconsider taking on this arduous task yourself and pay a foreign rights agent their hard-earned 20%.

Merely finding a Swedish author to help me take on this task took a few months.

I reached out to numerous children’s book authors who wrote in Swedish rhyme, but nobody seemed interested. It’s a tough job!

I finally connected with a local author, Veronica Linarfve, who was a delightful collaborator and relished sinking her teeth into a new project so different from her novels.

Veronica had to do the heavy lifting as I could not offer intelligent alternatives to improve the meter. I can barely trust my ears to hear meter cadence in English, let alone detect it in my second language.

Fortunately, Veronica is super talented and stuck with me. We found words that worked and Swedish kids and parents absolutely love the book. 

Veronica Linarfve o Lisa Ferland
Photo credit: Veronica Linarfve

Ohh, but merely translating the words does not a book make. 

You may need new illustrations ($$)

Fortunately, I was able to crosswalk most of the existing illustrations from the English version and repurpose them for the Swedish book.

VI FIRAR HALLOWEEN spoke

Kevin the ghost needed a new costume with the words “Bus eller godis” but otherwise remained the same

Other considerations included a new book title, book cover design, title page, copyright page, ISBN, updated sales page description, and a marketing plan.

You’re definitely going to need a new title

Your translated work may have a completely different title based on the market appeal and genre of your book.

“When the clock strikes…” is a well-known phrase in English, but it doesn’t mean anything in Swedish.

The new title has to mean something to potential readers, so we changed it to, “Vi firar halloween” (Swedes don’t capitalize their titles like we do in the US/UK) which translates to, “We celebrate Halloween.”  

It doesn’t have quite the same gravitas as “When the Clock Strikes…” but Swedish readers are enjoying it and that’s the most important part.

How are you going to market your translated book(s)?

Oh yeah, marketing, don’t forget about that! No book sells itself, and neither will your translated book(s).

If you don’t know the language, you’re going to struggle to get it in front of potential readers. Google Translate will only take you so far.

Writing persuasive copy in your native language is tough and now you’re in charge of doing it in a foreign language? Ehh, ok. 

I live in Sweden, so I can take my book around to markets and stores and sell it in-person.

If you’re translating your book into Korean and you live in the US, how are you going to get it in front of Korean readers?

My long-term solution is to get my Swedish books into the Swedish version of Amazon (bokus.se) via a local fulfillment center.

Until I can get the books in circulation, I’m selling them on my Shopify website, which has been quite simple to set up and get moving.

I’m directing traffic to that site via Facebook ads.

None of this is remotely easy as I’m working in my minority language.

Again, Google Translate can only do so much.

US-based solutions, like Shopify, are super helpful but their buttons aren’t in every language so some English may remain on your page.

Here’s what my Swedish book looks like on my Swenglish Shopify page.

An Alternative Solution for Rhyming Books

But wait! I don’t come to you with only problems, I also offer potential solutions.

Tamara Rittershaus is an experienced poetry coach and editor living in Mexico.

Her family is trilingual, and she understands the need for books to be available in multiple languages.

“You need a translator and editor experienced with stories for children, because translating stories is it’s own art form,” Tamara explains.

“The translated text not only has to convey the story itself, but the jokes and puns still have to be funny, the language rich and beautiful, and the vocabulary simple and accessible to children.”

Tamara has teamed up with other bilingual professionals to offer translation services for children’s book authors in English and Spanish.

If your story is in rhyme, you have options: 

1. The story in verse can be translated as a story in prose. A good translator can use rich language to bring your story to life without using rhyme and rhythm.

2. The story can be translated to have a lyrical, rhythmic feel, but not be in rhyme. This is a step harder for the translator. He/she will need the freedom to change small details, like the order of words or the details described, to make the meter work. 

3. The story can be translated into poetry in the target language. Most likely, this is only possible with straightforward texts. It will probably require editing some details of your story and maybe even changing the illustrations. Depending on the topic and tone of your story, it may not be possible. 

Note that Option 3 is the path I chose for my Eng-Swe books. I wouldn’t really recommend it to everyone.

Be sure to contact Tamara about these options and discuss your manuscript with her team. 

They can help you decide which option is best for your story.

Pro tip: Wait until your manuscript is FINAL before attempting any translations whatsoever

If you’re publishing two separate editions —an English edition and a Spanish edition— wait for translation services until everything in your original version is finalized. 

If you’re still making changes to your text or illustrations, it’s not time to start another language edition yet. 

If you’re publishing a bilingual edition, you need to have your bilingual text ready for the illustrator early on so he/she can create the space required for the text within each illustration. As you make changes, you’ll need both an English and a Spanish editor to review the finished manuscript before publication. 

Tamara and her team offer a complete translation & editing service: 

– Professional translation services 

– Professional editing in English and Spanish 

– Digital text placement for your bilingual or Spanish edition 

They also offer marketing assistance to help you sell all of those beautiful books you had painstakingly translated.

Tamara’s website: https://www.picturebooktamara.com/

I will admit that I was a bit ambitious with my first books and eager to get them to market despite it taking an entire year. 

It will take time for me to get the books into Swedish circulation but I know that it’ll be successful once it does. We learn by doing, which is often a bit painful and expensive, but that’s how we make progress.

Whew! Ok!

So how are you feeling about translating your book?

Ja? Nej?

 

We Love Communities: How one author dominated the #1 spot before her book’s release date

we love communities

Maartje Blijleven knows how to organize communities and is an expert at helping businesses maximize their social reach.

It should come as no surprise that she was able to organize her community around her book, We Love Communities,  and rocket to the #1 spot for a month on the bestseller charts in the Netherlands by organizing her community.

Over the past 20 years, Maartje has developed thriving communities and has built an incredibly strong network of entrepreneurs, small businesses, and corporate professionals.

Her book, We Love Communities, contains not only her wisdom and experience but the interviews of other experts in the field who share their tips on strengthening communities in business.

Becoming a Chart Topper

Maartje knew how many books it would take for her book to compete with the current bestsellers in her genre.

In order to maximize the number of pre-orders of her book at full retail price, Maartje had to get creative and offer incentives that would appeal to her ideal reader—businesses, entrepreneurs,  and conference leaders looking for keynote speakers. 

Because Maartje was focused on getting a large quantity of pre-orders prior to her book’s release, her pre-order campaign looked something like this:

—Pre-order 10 books and get the ebook one week before it’s official release (savings of 30.50)

—Pre-order 25 books and get access to her 10-week online training program on building communities (savings of 888.25)

—Pre-order 50 books and get 1:1 VIP strategy coaching from Maartje herself at an incredible discount (savings of 1920)

—Pre-order 100 books and get a remarkable 75% discount on her keynote speaker fees (savings of 3490)

You can see that with each reward level, the savings get greater and greater and appeal directly to her ideal reader.

How did Maartje learn this pre-selling incentivized-rewards selling technique?

She took the self-paced online course, Crowdfunding for Authors, and got tons of feedback on her landing page. 

Click here to learn more about the course so you can rock your book’s pre-sale campaign.

Lessons Learned

Maartje worked with a traditional Dutch publisher and experienced all of the same writing anxiety and self-doubt every writer faces.

“I felt very vulnerable. Creating something out of nothing feels like you’re asking everyone to take a look inside your head. You cannot hide.”

“At first, I felt insecure to show people my work at an early stage. If I could do it over again, I would’ve involved people sooner in the process so I could have more time to process all of the feedback. The book is so much better with people’s input.”

Tips for your Pre-order Landing Page

1. Know your goals

Do you want a high number of pre-orders like Maartje had or are you trying to raise extra funds to cover the cost of production?

2. Keep it simple

Maartje directed people to pre-order their books on the Dutch equivalent of Amazon.

People who pre-ordered their books then filled out a simple form indicating which reward they ordered.  

Maartje offered four (4) reward tiers. Too many options will spoil the soup.

3. Offer rewards your IDEAL READER wants

Maartje was releasing a book around community development so all of her rewards were specifically targeting what people in the community development space needed and wanted.

4. Build your community FIRST

Maartje had 20 years of experience working with businesses, entrepreneurs, and developing a strong network of people who would not only support her book launch campaign but also wanted to employ her services and speaking opportunities.

Without a community of people to whom you launch your book, you’re launching to crickets.

5. Promote your pre-order campaign

Every campaign needs a deadline for people to take action. For Maartje, she started promoting her pre-order campaign on August 3 with a September 24 deadline—so nearly 60 days of promotion.

 

Would Maartje do it again?

When asked if she’d do it again, Maartje said she would definitely run a pre-order campaign like this again.

With over 1,000 books pre-ordered, future keynote speeches confirmed, and a slew of new clients, the results speak for themselves.

Bio

Maartje Blijleven is a digital community expert and has been building successful online communities since 2000.

As a co-founder of the communities IncludeNow. & WomenTalkTech knows how to start and grow a community. 

 

With We love Communities she helps entrepreneurial professionals and entrepreneurs to be successful with their own online community: for different companies, people and purposes.

Connect with Maartje at her website: https://welovecommunities.com

On Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Shine Your Light Books—Surprising Lessons Learned from 2 Kickstarter Campaigns

and so much more

Children’s book author, singer, and all-around super talent, Jessica Collaço, launched her children’s books on Kickstarter.

Her first campaign raised over $12k and her second raised over $20k!!

Find out some major lessons in audience building, publishing, and crowdfunding in this interview with Jessica.

Jessica found success on Kickstarter in 2013 and 2016 and while social media strategies may change over time, her advice is timeless.

How much audience building did you do before launching your first campaign?

 
By nature, I’m not much of a planner—I tend to go for things and figure out how fly while I’m free-falling. Not always the smartest way to conduct things, but, in this case, it worked out well.
 
For both campaigns, I did very little audience building before the campaign started, save for my usual social media posting.
 
My audience before my second campaign was built very much by my first campaign and the other readers I gained from “Firenze’s Light“.  
 

What type of preparation, education, or research did you do before launching your first campaign? 

 
I had no intentions of self-publishing. The more research I did on traditional publishing, the more I realized I would have to grind just as hard to market my book, but for less of a cut in the traditional model.
 
Each time I tried to blow off the idea of self-publishing, the perfect resource or information would show up.
 
For instance, I had no idea how to find an illustrator. A friend of mine happened to work for Jim Henson Productions and put me in touch with some interns in their art department.
 
I had no idea how to get a book printed. My cousin happened to know someone who worked for a printer in China and she talked me through the process and estimated costs.
 
Most of my research was focused on the process of self-publishing and the costs. 
 
I have a rebellious streak and have a sometimes-good-sometimes-bad habit of ignoring “the way things are supposed to be done”.
 
For my second campaign, I did a lot of research on crowdfunding and how it had evolved since my first campaign for “Firenze’s Light”. The “Firenze’s Light” campaign happened when crowdfunding was relatively new.
 
By the time I campaigned for “And So Much More”, everyone and their lost dog had a crowdfunding campaign.
 
It felt much harder to get people’s attention.
 
There were also many campaigns that raised hundreds of thousands of dollars because they had a huge marketing budget to put behind it.
 
Rather than get discouraged by the slick, meticulously planned campaigns, I stayed simple. 

As a rule, I stopped researching and worrying about too much planning, and just stuck with what worked the first time: a good story and a clear, simple campaign.
 
I did reach out to more bloggers and publications for my second campaign, but I almost felt like it would have been more valuable to spend that time directly approaching new potential backers. 
 

“I stopped researching and worrying about too much planning, and just stuck with what worked the first time: a good story and a clear, simple campaign.”

Did you get a lot of repeat backers who supported Firenze’s Light to support your second campaign?

 
I did get a lot of repeat backers and a lot of new ones as well. I made it a point to approach my original backer list first because I had faith that they would be excited about my next book. 

 

What surprised you the most about launching on Kickstarter?

I knew it would not “just happen”  after my campaign went live, but I was surprised how it was a full-time job for 30 days.
 
I spent that time texting, emailing, messaging, social media posting, singing songs, making up new reward categories, doing FB live, making videos—anything I could think of—to get more eyes on my campaign. It was non-stop—and I have 3 kids LOL. Thank goodness for my husband!
 

What advice would you give someone considering crowdfunding their book?

Keep it simple.
 
A lot of people replicate their campaigns off of the most-funded campaigns that have a huge budget and staff that can support crazy, swaggy reward tiers.
 
Even if you’re not looking at the big dogs, the smaller dogs replicated the medium dogs who replicated the big dogs.
 
Shipping and random rewards like t-shirts, plushies, and toys can eat your budget so quickly and steal your focus from getting your book made when your campaign is over.
 
My rewards were mostly books.
 
Some of my higher level rewards were illustrating people into my book, self-publishing consultations, original songs, author readings—all things that are easily deliverable and that are services rather than products.
 
None of those items had shipping costs—speaking of which-spend a lot of time budgeting out your costs including your reward shipping, taxes (you have to pay taxes on your donations), Kickstarter’s cut etc. 
 
I also love the idea of having some “back-pocket” rewards to add value throughout the campaign.
 
These are rewards that you add to the 5 or 6 base rewards after the campaign is running.
 

When you’re on day 21 of 30, no one wants to hear about your book one more time. 

But they may want to hear about that original poem you will write their kid when they pledge $100 or tier up from $25 to $100. 

It keeps things fresh and can goose someone who already backed at a lower tier to a higher one. 
“Crowdfunding is great, but I find it takes me on a detour away from selling the books I already have.
 
I simply can’t wear all of those hats at once.”

Would you launch future books (or other creative projects) on Kickstarter?

 
I am very proud that the two books I have written have funded the beginning of my third.
 
My goal has been to self-fund the rest of my books by reinvesting all my profits.
 
If I get to Spring 2020 and I need printing funds, I might consider doing a small campaign to finish up, but I’d honestly rather publish a Kindle book or two this fall and get it printed that way.
 
Crowdfunding is great, but I find it takes me on a detour away from selling the books I already have.
 
I simply can’t wear all of those hats at once.
 
If I had to chose between 30 days of Kickstarter and 30 days of creating two Kindle Books, I’ll take Kindle.
 
However, if I were starting all over again today and didn’t have that choice, I would most likely do it. 

What would you do differently?

From a crowdfunding point of view—not much.
 
From a publishing point of view—I’d have the knowledge I have now, 5 years later.
 
I know so much more about writing for the market, good covers, great titles, smart writing.
 
I’ve spent a lot of time backtracking or working around those mistakes. 
 

Anything else you’d like fellow authors to know?

 
When you are doing a crowdfunding campaign, any time you talk about it, in any group, list your link.
 
I see so many people post in FB groups about their campaign and they don’t have a link.
 
Also, have fun  and enjoy the ride! It can be thrilling.
 

Bio

jessica collaco

Tired of searching for books that both empowered and entertained, Jessica set out to write ones that do both. She loves writing books that cultivate a world with more kindness, love, peace, compassion and connection.

Connect with Jessica at shineyourlightbooks.com.

 

Check out Jessica’s books here