Monday, May 18, 2015

Going home to the world

Something happens when you move abroad—you become forever international.

Writer Abroad thought she’d move back to Chicago, get a job at a Chicago agency or publication, and that would be that.

Instead, she maintains her internationally-minded career from the comfort of her own home.
Working with the world…from home.

In a single day she can be on a phone call with someone in Berlin, be messaging someone in Zurich, and be discussing Swiss culture with a German journalist who is based in New York City. In fact, these days, almost 90% of Writer Abroad's work comes from places more than 500 miles away.

It’s strange, but it’s also wonderful. Wonderful that it’s possible to go home again but still work with the world on your own terms—because that was one of the things that made Writer Abroad nervous about going home again: the smallness of home.

But she’s learned that once you go out into the big, wide world you’re always a part of it, even at “home.” 

Anyone else have this experience too?

Friday, May 8, 2015

5 Big Lessons Learned a Year After Publishing the First Book

You don’t need a marketing budget.

This does not need to cost anything.
Yesterday, on the one-year anniversary of publishing her first book,  Writer Abroad ended up on the cover of one of Switzerland’s biggest tabloid papers

In the last year, she gave several radio interviews, appeared in various magazines and newsletters both on and off-line, and also on many blogs. She spent nothing on any of this promotion. The key to good promotion is to:

1. Make relevant contacts far ahead of book publication—people you can draw on later who will happily help you out since they know you.

2. To have at least a rough promotional plan ready well before you launch your
book (it will help you with number 1).

Some promotion will just happen
based on other things you are doing.
3. To keep writing for publications on topics related to your book and include your book in your bio. Writer Abroad's bio in one New York Times article led to over 100 book sales within five days. Her book was selling right up in the ranks with David Sedaris' newest book—for 24 hours anyway. But it proved that in the age of online book shopping, links in the right places matter. Not big marketing budgets.

You need to start writing the next book right away.

About a month after Writer Abroad published her first book, a traditional publisher came to her with an idea for a book. They later rejected the idea of publishing it because they felt the production and marketing budget would cost too much (crazy from Writer Abroad’s point of view—see point one above), but nevertheless, she was grateful for their inputs anyway. Why? Because at that point, she was already 25% through writing it, had a concept developed, and now, just a year after publishing her first book, this new book’s first draft will be complete by the end of the month. Does she need the traditional publisher to publish this book? Thankfully, not at all. In fact, if her numbers are right, within one year of publication, she will be much better off financially without them. And she also controls all of the creative production process, which, as a copywriter with over 10 years in the ad industry, she enjoys managing.

You should take advantage of affiliate links.

All authors should do this—even those who hate amazon. This author loves amazon, but that’s another topic… Anyhow, at the very least you should sign up for the Amazon Associates Program. Then, any links to your book that you have on your website or elsewhere should link to your associate name, which will pay you around 5-6% of the selling price should someone click on the link and purchase it directly. Not only that, but if the buyer purchases other items after clicking on the link you’ll get 5-6% of whatever they buy—even if they don’t buy your book. It adds up. In a good month, it can mean an extra $100. And if you hate amazon, well, think of it this way: that’s 5-6% of the price of an item that amazon isn’t getting—you are.

You should never stop promoting.

Of course the busiest promotional period will be leading up to your launch date and in the couple months that follow. But you should never really call it quits when it comes to book promotion (it doesn’t cost anything, remember?), even if, like Writer Abroad, you end up simply promoting the book in your bio that appears after all the freelance writing work you publish. Some links do nothing, but others can sell a few—or a hundred books. Online links are most effective, but it never hurts to include info about the book in a print publication either.

There are no secrets except to work hard and to believe.

Writer Abroad often gets emails from writers wanting to know how to get into writing or how to improve their chances of publication. There are no secrets. The answer is to treat writing like your job (even if it’s just your hobby at the moment) and sit in a chair almost every day and write. Write when you’re tired. Write when you’re not inspired. Write when you’re depressed. Make no excuses and then and only then will your writing move to the next level. In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell says it takes over 10,000 hours to master something. You’ve got to put in your 10,000 writing hours, which will probably take about 10 years. Then you can expect to see results.

Also, don’t give up. Don’t let rejection get you down. Easier to say than to do. But if Writer Abroad had given up after traditional publishers told her that “no one cared about Switzerland” then she wouldn’t have the niche she has today. And if she had given up the book she had started writing last year after the traditional publisher came to her and then dropped her a few months later, she wouldn’t have another almost-completed book right now that she believes in and loves.

Anyone else have tips for writers or things they learned after publishing a book?


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