Amazon is Changing the face of Book Sales Yet Again

Rumor has it that Amazon is getting into the brick and mortar book business big time. Mall reps and human resources rags are talking about it and articles are popping up all over the place calling attention to it. What will it mean for indie bookstores to have the largest retail book giant in the neighborhood? Well, what did it mean for the locals when B&N moved in and eventually out? Given the diversification of the lines sold at B&N and the rebranding as stores akin to libraries sporting coffee shops and other push-in offerings that keep potential customers milling about for hours at a time, there’s still hope for an unsullied bookstore. Will Amazon fill that role thereby ousting smaller shops once and for all? Well, it remains to be seen where these shops will open. Right now, it’s Seattle, Wa. and word is hot on a new location in La Jolla, Ca. As test sites we’ll all begin to see the kind of technology that will be put in place. Lips are flapping about eliminating the checkout process with data on the book/item being transmitted alternatively. I bet there will be a 3D printing and filling stations for Kindles as well. As far as the imagination can take us, knowing Amazon is never afraid to be the trendsetter. 

Author Platforms: The Holy Grail of Getting Signed

It's tough in the publishing world. There's so much competition and  as authors, it's absolutely key that you represent your "business" — you and your work — with a solid foundation. Industry-speak for this holy grail is the author platform.  This author platform (cue the angels singing) is the meat and potatoes to building awareness for your work while at the same time also creating an entree to the agents and publishers you are hoping to sign with. In part, because it means you are not only bringing a product but also a market of  readers who are ready to purchase any books you write.  Coming with a platform in hand (or in proposal) also shows a willingness on your end to do some of the heavy lifting of marketing. And I say heavy, because building this following is NOT an easy task. 
An author used to be able to sell a great manuscript solely on the idea of great writing. The current wave of traditional and self-publishing success includes an author platform that is preferably established during the drafting stage of your book. Taking this proactive approach to your writing career will help establish a resume detailing your accomplishments in an effort toward making you and your book a success. A success because you will already have created a dynamic author-reader dialogue to build your database of readers, gain endorsements or “supported by” backing and maximized your personal brand and professional reputation in the process.
So, what exactly is this author platform thing? Your platform details who you are and what you are known for — your public face — as well as showcases your ability to promote yourself in the marketplace.  Each of your marketing efforts contributes to the layers and strength of your platform, and thus the presence and power you wield in your industry. If you were a Jedi, it would be your force.  Your platform is how you reach out to readers in order to build exposure, a network and name-driven notoriety.
Your author platform is a mix of marketing elements optimizing benefits from the publishing, journalism, technology and business areas in your arena.  Here’s how you can get started in building your author platform.  
  • Create a great Web site. Freakin' Genius Marketing will design a crackerjack, customized site that you can customize to represent your public YOU. It's important to feel empowered by your content management system as you must update your content regularly. No one likes a static site. It's like the needle getting stuck on the vinyl record. Keep your site fresh and up-to-date with the changes and growth of your career and a blog jam packed with keywords to drive traffic. Include information about you and your book, pictures of your cover, reviews, a schedule of speaking events, endorsements, articles or any other press materials, video clips and anything else that may help in boosting interest to your site.
  • Be prepared with a press kit. Your kit should include a one-page press release highlighting your unique direction and the benefit of your content, an author bio and perhaps a photo and a sell-sheet with book ordering information. You can even include extras, such as a jpeg file of your author photo and book cover, an article detailing the key elements of your book and storyline, a DVD containing your media clips, and a suggested interview with ten questions and answers that may be used for print media or an actual interview.
  • Get endorsements or blurbs from experts within your industry or recognizable names. This association will add a boost in professionalism to your name and work.
  • Connect your topic to breaking news. The media is interested in tying related topics to the news happening right now. If your writing is in relation to current news, contact the appropriate venue as an author with knowledge on the topic. Watch those RSS feeds and create sidebar article pitches. 
  • Speak on your topic. Develop a speech that combines your expertise and book topic that is also tied into current events/news. Keep a calendar of your speaking engagements, who your audience is and the number of attendees. Speak for free if you have to and also look into teaching adult extended learning classes in your city.
  • Write a blog. Become involved in the writing community. Your blog should be less about pitching your book and more about contributing to a discussion. Start conversations, engage, have fun and write consistently. Tie it into your social media and newsletters to keep a fresh batch of eyeballs on your posts regularly.
  • Utilize audio and video. You may create an author interview, discussion, or even a type of trailer for your book. Add it to your Web site, create a link within your e-mail and post it on YouTube.
  • Join writing organizations. Involvement in organizations helps to build a network of professionals within your same industry. You may learn from and utilize this affiliation in building your writing career.
  • Be a friend to All bookstores. Never walk by a bookstore without going in and introducing yourself. Shake the hands of managers and employees and thank them for helping in the success of your book. We all tend to recommend on experience — someone we know and like. A personal touch to those directly dealing with consumers may result in the suggestion of your book to potential readers.
  • Consider a marketing professional. Hiring a marketing professional or publicist like Freakin' Genius Marketing can help polish your materials and presentation as well as introduce you to varying media contacts. You will also gain inside knowledge and techniques you can apply throughout your career.

You are not building an author platform to sell your book; you are building your career and introducing yourself to the industry.  This platform is the foundation of your business and your personal brand,  that, with an investment in time, will open up literary avenues and a direction of opportunity. Your platform is absolutely INTEGRAL to getting media attention and book reviews. It will become leverage to move your book through the circuit because you are much more valuable to a publisher if you bring a crowd of followers that think you are the bees knees. 

6 Tricks to Building an Amazing Personal Brand

Branding. A term that's long been associated with companies. Not so much anymore. Today almost everyone has a personal brand. Despite being concerned with what others' think of us, not too many of us have consciously cultivated our own personal brands, but they exist nevertheless. A footprint exists in perpetuity in the sands of digital time and space crowd sourced by everyone you know be they friends, colleagues, or bosses. In case you aren't up on the hype, in the lands of the internet, a digital footprint is used to describe the trail, traces or footprints that people leave online.  So, hold onto your socks when you read this little tidbit. In 2014, an AVG study reported that 92 percent of children under the age of two have a digital footprint. 
The question isn't whether or not you have a personal brand, but how you choose to cultivate it.  Do you choose to be defined by what you may have put out on the internet or social media at some point in your life when you weren't thinking of what it would look like years later?
Here are a few ways to start consciously building your own personal brand. 
Start thinking of yourself as a brand
What do you want for people to think of when they hear or read your name? Is there a certain topic, effort, or category in which you want to be perceived as an expert? Are there character or personal qualities you want others to connect to your brand? When you have an idea about how you wish your brand to be perceived, you can start to be much more strategic about creating that persona. This doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn't be human, fallible or relaxed, on the contrary. Michael Simmons wrote, "Authenticity is key in the digital age." Your brand is valued at some extremely high ROI no matter where you view it from.
Keep a keen eye on your online presence
You can’t mold others' ideas of you without first understanding the current status. Remember, perception is reality to others. Google yourself and set up alerts for your own name on a regular basis. If your name is somewhat common, use your middle name or middle initial to differentiate your search. Cultivating a healthy personal brand is just as much about being responsive to what is being said now as it is about creating new discussions yet to be had.
Get your own personal website
Having a personal website  is one of the best ways to rank for your name on the search engines. Ensure that when your name is typed into search engines, your website comes up first in the results. Your website doesn’t need to be filled with dynamic content that you need to manage every day. It can be a simple two-to three-page site with a short biography and some links to your most active social platforms. When you have time, add elements to it and perhaps a blog. 
Have a purpose for what you share with others
Every tweet, every status update, and every picture you share contributes to your digital footprint. Your personal brand is like a poetic fusion of your multiple daily actions. Once you understand how you want to be perceived, you can get a whole lot more strategic in your messaging and positioning.
Associate with other strong brands
Your personal brand is strengthened or weakened by your connection to other brands. Find and leverage strong brands which can elevate your own personal brand. Start with the three C’s: company, college, colleagues. Where did you attend college? Are there groups or associations you can join? How about an alumni newsletter you can contribute to? Find hidden opportunities available within your company and organizations you are involved in. Contribute. Contribute. Contribute.

No ruts for you
A strong personal brand is dependent on a strong narrative. In other words, what’s your story?  Find your theme song. Reinvent yourself. If you have multiple passions or areas of interest, a narrative becomes even more crucial so there can be unified theme. But like in life, the only thing that stays consistent is change, so a strong personal brand should be ubiquitous and ever evolving.

If you're interested in kicking around more ideas about how to build your personal brand, contact Freakin' Genius Marketing for a consult.

Think about things differently in 2016! Happy Holidays From Your Friends at Freakin' Genius Marketing

Retrospection is Key in Memoir Creation

Part three of a three part series. 
“Writing memoir is like preparing yourself to go to confession,” says Frank McCourt, who didn’t publish Angela’s Ashes until he was 66. “You have to examine your conscience.” And that entails honesty. You can’t write an effective memoir if you’re worried about family and friends looking over your shoulder. Even if the truth hurts, if it is truthful, then there’s no other way to present it. At the very least, readers will recognize the courage in that and respect you for it.
The most integral part of successful memoir writing is retrospection. It’s not enough to just chronicle your life as if you were a newspaper reporter. Memoir demands that you write about what you’ve learned from your experiences. For instance, Jeannette Walls, author of The Glass Castle initially wrote about her childhood as a detached observer, and the result, her literary agent told her, was a story that read like it was “wrapped in cellophane.” Only when she assumed the persona of herself as a little girl did it become real and powerful.
In many ways, writing a memoir is like painting. You slap some words on a blank canvas, take a few steps back, look at how they’re coming together, then refine things further. That step back is retrospection. It’s thoughtfulness. It’s an attempt to figure things out. It’s the search for your truth.
“A smart therapist once told me that what I had done in this book was exactly what he tries to get patients to do, and that is confront the truth,” says Walls. “For many years I was running from it, but the truth has a way of catching up with you, and this was my way of coming to terms with it. The things that haunt you, the things that have power over you—once you confront them, they lose their power. So many people ask me, ‘How can you forgive your parents for treating you that way?’ Well, actually, the person I had to forgive was myself. By sitting down and telling what really happened, I was able to understand it for the first time.” 

6 Tips for Starting Your Memoir

Part II of a III part series
1. Write a memoir, not an autobiography
An autobiography is the story of an entire life, but a memoir is just one story from that life. You can only ever write one autobiography, but you can write countless memoirs. It’s a much less intimidating project if you view it that way.
2. Diagram your life
Some people have one burning story to tell. Others find it difficult to immediately pinpoint anything. Tristine Rainer, author of Your Life as Story, recommends diagramming your life to gain perspective. To do this, get in a retrospective mood, enlist the help of a friend or spouse, and map out your life’s six most significant moments. When you do it thoughtfully and honestly, there will usually be one pivotal event that stands out as particularly  meaningful. If there isn’t, don’t worry. There are many different ways to map out a life. Try categorizing  yours by challenging choices, powerful people, conflicts, beliefs, lessons learned, even mistakes repeated. Experiment until you find the one story that wants to be told, the one experience that really shaped you.
3. Don’t begin at the beginning.
Don’t tell your story chronologically. That’s too predictable. Think of your favorite books. Most don’t start at the beginning. Instead they grab you with instant action and intrigue. A good beginning is a tease. It will give your readers just enough action to hook them without divulging the outcome. Then it flashes back to the real chronological beginning and fills in the holes.
4. Use all your senses.
The best writers create vivid new worlds for readers to inhabit. Yet most budding memoirists produce first drafts that are flat. To transport readers, write in great detail. This is done through deep descriptive vocabulary and by using all your senses to fully re-create a moment in time. You can teach yourself to do this. The next time you’re waiting in a restaurant, a doctor’s office, or even in traffic, notice the various sights, sounds, smells, and textures. It’s what writers do, both in reality and in their stories.
5. Build your writing muscle.
You have a writing muscle, and it needs exercise to perform well. Set a daily goal of writing 200, 500, or even 1,000 words. Set aside a regular time, like early morning, and be disciplined. Don’t worry about making what you write perfect. Just focus on getting the story out.  Above all, relax. Memoir is the easiest type of writing to do well. You’ve already done the research and are intimately familiar with every character. Now you just need to paint a picture of it with words.

Do You Have a Memoir in You ?

Part I of a III Part Series
You don’t need to have had a hardscrabble youth in order to write a memoir. You don’t need eccentric parents. Believe it or not, you don’t need anything dramatic. And you certainly don’t have to publish it. It's a sad but true truth, 99.9 percent of people lead boring lives. But every single one of them is trying to make some sense out of his or her existence, to find some meaning in the world, and therein lies the value and opportunity of memoir. It’s therapeutic for the writer, and it eventually even helps his or her descendants understand themselves better.
“Memoir is about handing over your life to someone and saying, This is what I went through, this is who I am, and maybe you can learn something from it,” says Jeannette Walls, author of Glass Castles. “It’s honestly sharing what you think, feel, and have gone through. If you can do that effectively, then somebody gets the wisdom and benefit of your experience without having to live it.”
Writing about your life is also about coming to a fresh understanding of it at an age when you probably think you know yourself pretty well. Novelist Stephen King has said, “I write to find out what I think.” He means that until you set an experience down on paper, until you ponder the perfect words to describe it, you can’t fully appreciate or understand it. When you weave related experiences together, you will see a pattern in the quilt of your existence. It’s about creating a legacy that doesn’t have dollar signs in front of it but has far greater long-term value for those that know and love you.
There are as many different types of memoir as there are people. Like Walls you can write about your childhood. You can write about places you’ve visited, as Elizabeth Gilbert did in the blockbuster memoir Eat Pray Love. You can write about a crime or injustice you encountered, as Mary-Ann Tirone Smith did in Girls of Tender Age, which traces the murder of a classmate. You can write a memoir about anything, no matter how small or seemingly inconsequential. Everybody has stories shelved in his or her subconscious, awaiting translation.
The challenge is getting started, coaxing the story out. (Indeed, there are those who say beginning is half done.) Since there is inherent worth to the endeavor beyond public acclaim, you don’t have to be a professional writer or someone with connections in publishing to succeed. You can write it for yourself and truly enjoy the process.