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Author practices

Building Your Thought Leadership: Do Digital Op-Eds Make a Difference?

Posted on: September 23rd, 2016 | No comments 

You’ve had an interesting journey in work and life.  Whether you went to Africa to fight the Ebola virus, or innovated a new management technique, you’ve got a story to tell, a message to share, a company or book to promote.

You’re not naive. You know TED isn’t going to call you right out of the box.  But how do you build your reputation as a thought leader on your issue? We help our clients go about this work in many ways—from speaking gigs to media relations to book development.

But right now, let’s talk about the impact of publishing op-eds and “thought pieces” online.

Getting what we in the business call earned media–i.e. reporters and producers feature you or your work in magazines, newspapers, radio shows, or television–is harder than ever (and therefore even more valuable).  But it’s easier than ever to get published—online—with an op-ed or essay or blog post. Editors now have to feed their 24/7 content machines.

Is everyone is going to read your Huff Po piece, or that essay you wrote for Slate?  No.  But getting published online for a reputable media outlet builds your credibility as a thought leader.

It’s your job to then spread and amplify it.  Post it on your website,  your social channels, your blog, and feature it in your next email newsletter.

By building several of these bylined pieces, you have a much better chance of getting featured and profiled by major media down the road, or even next week.

Don’t get us wrong.  It’s not to easy to develop and  publish a bylined piece on a site like Fortune.com, Fast Company, or Harvard Business Review. Here are some tips that we give to our clients all the time.

  1. Be original. Or at least bring a new or surprising angle on an old

Letting Go: A Note to Authors When Submitting to Your Editor

Posted on: September 22nd, 2016 | No comments 

A few weeks ago, my oldest son Gabriel left us for his junior college year abroad ​in Athens, Greece.  It was a bigger transition than sending him to college in Wisconsin. Yes, we can fly to Athens if absolutely necessary, but he isn’t looking for that, and the flight is long and expensive.  So this represents the first time he’s really on his own beyond a day’s travel. We are thrilled for him.  But for us, it is more difficult that we expected.  It’s another way parents need to let go, and so far he’s doing well and we aren’t looking over his shoulder but enjoying the occasional Skype or text.

Whether it is birthing pains or kids leaving the nest, transitions can leave many of us feeling fragile and anxious.  This is also true of many authors when it’s time to submit their manuscripts.

Unless you’ve written one, it’s hard to understand the mental energy required to write a book to trade publishing standards against a deadline.  Writing is original, one sentence at a time thinking, and that requires the mind’s most energy-intense work over months and years.

Authors need to navigate handing over the manuscript to the publisher without getting caught up in negative feelings or fears that can make it hard to think clearly.

None of this is to say you shouldn’t advocate for your views and concerns–or even take action if a publisher is damaging the book.  But I’ve seen how important it is for authors to distinguish between their free-floating transition anxiety, and a genuine need to advocate for themselves.

For authors, while your editor and marketing team have loved your proposal, now you are entering a new relationship. Your editor has sole responsibility for turning your pages into a quality finished product, one that lives

Well-Established Authors Share Their Digital Storytelling Tactics

Posted on: October 10th, 2014 | No comments 

On my last post I talked about how first-time authors should use social media to build awareness about themselves and their work. But what about the rest of you who are advanced bloggers, Twitter users and the like? You should step it up to the next level.

This article in Mashable talks about the creative and sophisticated ways some authors are using digital and social platforms to tell stories, connect with audiences and promote their work. While these ideas make sense for authors with well-established followings and readership in fiction, first-time authors can also get some inspiration. I especially liked the idea of posting or tweeting about a variety of subjects—focusing not only on your book but also on topics that you are passionate and knowledgeable about and causes your involved in. The key being: take the time to be interesting and thoughtful.

No Author Platform? Three Ways to Get Started

Posted on: October 10th, 2014 | No comments 

I got a call recently from an agent who received a book proposal from a business professional. She liked the book idea and wanted to take it on but the prospective author had no platform. The agent wanted to know: Could I help?  It raised a good question that I think other authors frequently wonder about: How do you start from nothing?

First I went to the author’s website. He used the site mainly for speaking engagements. The design was fine, but it needed to be professionally written to market his profile and expertise.

1. If you have a website, make sure it is good. For any person or brand, think of your website as your house. It is a reflection of you and it’s the place people will go to when they want to know who you are. It’s your chance to express your value and expertise to readers so take the time to figure out how you are different from others in your space. Ask yourself: Who is your audience? What do you have to say? And watch out for typos—they will put off a reader.

After looking at his author website, I Googled his name. A fairly minimal list of results came up. The agent wanted someone to help him write and place stories and blog posts under his byline so he could start to make a name for himself. This brings me to my second point:

2. Write and place some stories on blogs, even small ones, to show off your point of view and writing. Try Huffington Post or the online version of a magazine you admire. But don’t underestimate the power of guest posting for smaller, lesser-known sites. The main point is to get your voice out there. Re-post content on your own website and share the link through your

Email Marketing and You

Posted on: July 2nd, 2014 | No comments 

Major kudos to New York Times David Carr whose latest Media Equation column on email marketing,  “For Email Newsletters, A Death Greatly Exaggerated,” is immensely valuable to all of us who promote our ideas and services and a fascinating case study in how we use information as users of the Internet.    Carr spoke to the editors of popular newsletters about why they are gaining in popularity despite being the “cockroaches of the Internet,” a supposedly outmoded form of digital communication.

What a great reminder to nonfiction authors and other thought leaders that you should collect email addresses and offer newsletters targeted to your most valued audience.  A food history author can send a historic recipe each month; a personal finance guru can curate saving and retirement tips; a yoga author could send meditations and mindfulness reminders.  As Carr notes, all you need technically are services such as Mail Chimp or Constant Contact that are popular and easy to use.  Remember to be clear up front what potential signer-uppers are getting for their subscription, and make it clear that you won’t share their names or send them other stuff they don’t want.

I know how hard it is.  My own newsletter is running late.

Media Interest Growing in What It Takes to Be a Liberated CEO

Posted on: June 13th, 2014 | No comments 

We were excited when Scott Leonard, author of The Liberated CEO (Wiley 2014), hired Big Fish Media to help him and his team get the word out about this intriguing book.  Over recent weeks, media coverage has been growing, with strong interest in Scott’s program for reinventing the workplace.   Among recent developments Scott appeared for a lengthy segment on the Unfinished Business radio program aired on KNX and KFWB hosted by Renee Fraser and Betsy Berkhemer-Credaire.    Financial Advisor ran a feature summarizing his three-year sabbatical and how it applies to the book; Entrepreneur.com published Scott’s article, How You Can Recharge Your Entrepreneurial Batteries with a Working Sabbatical, Fast Company.com featured his piece, Everything You Need to Know to Become a Remote CEO, and Upstart Journal ran a feature, and an essay by Scott, as well.

And there’s far more coverage and interviews which you can check out on the liberatedceo.com’s in the press page.  Why do you think Scott’s message and strategies are connecting across a number of audiences?  I’ll discuss this in a future post.

 

It’s Never Too Early: Self-Promote Your Self-Published Book While You’re Writing It

Posted on: January 14th, 2014 | No comments 

Big Fish Media is chronicling author Susan Price in a series of posts as she navigates the world of self-publishing. We follow the choices she faces, the decisions she makes, and the challenges she encounters in all areas, including research, production, and marketing. We’ll also offer tips, resources, and insights about self-publishing.

By Sarita Venkat

Susan is in the home stretch of completing her manuscript. As an expert on the topic of family philanthropy (she’s been immersed in the field for 15 years), Susan is writing a book titled Generous Genes: Raising Caring Kids in a Digital Age, which builds upon her 2001 book The Giving Family. Generous Genes will reflect the way kids are using technology as a tool in their giving. She started writing her book in earnest in early 2013; countless hours of research later, along with more than 100 interviews, and nearly half the words toward her goal of having a 60,000 word manuscript by February 1, 2014.

But, similar to the conundrum many writers face, it’s been challenging to keep up the writing momentum and find the time to promote her yet-to-be-published book (she’s also accepted a few paid consulting opportunities; while enticing when she’s getting no advance for her book, they have added a further wrinkle to her already tight schedule).

Publicity is critical at all stages of the self-publishing process so it’s never too early to promote your tome. As someone who has traveled the traditional publishing route with her previous titles, Susan will miss having a publicity department supporting her new book. (“Even though people complain that they didn’t get much help from the marketing folks, they still do some things for the author.”)

For example, Susan took advantage of the 2013 holiday season to generate buzz for her book

HR Magazine Features Article by Client Van Horn on the Recession and its Impact

Posted on: November 2nd, 2013 | No comments 

The October 2013 issue of HR Magazine features an article by Heldrich Center Director Dr. Carl Van Horn that draws upon the findings from his recent book, Working Scared (Or Not at All): The Lost Decade, Great Recession, and Restoring the Shattered American Dream, and distills the causes of the Great Recession and the devastation it brought about for American workers.  Big Fish Media provided editorial and media outreach services for Dr. Van Horn’s landmark book.

What Van Horn labeled the “lost decade” is characterized by several factors, including the longest recession on record, the highest unemployment in 30 years, and a drop in median family income. He identifies four forces that are driving labor-market transformations: globalization and offshoring; mergers, acquisitions, and restructuring; the transition from industrialization to a knowledge- and service-based economy; and deunionization. Van Horn explains that these forces contributed to the widespread dissatisfaction that American workers have as they try to support themselves and their families in the face of reduced benefits and decreased or nonexistent training and educational opportunities in the workplace. As the United States struggles to recover, Van Horn notes that it must “develop more aggressive pro-growth policies and devote greater effort to enlarging the nation’s economic pie rather than fighting over the best way to divide it.” Read the article online or request a print copy.

Six Steps to a More Engaging Author Website, Part 2

Posted on: November 2nd, 2013 | No comments 

In our latest post, we shared three out of six steps many of the most engaging effective author websites have in common.   In part two, we provide three more.  I’d love to hear your ideas about what we missed!

4) Hosting a Dynamic Blog: Websites with a built in blog get 55 percent more traffic than websites without a blog. While that’s a compelling argument to have a blog our recommendation is to only maintain one if it’s updated at a minimum once a week—if not more. A good blog should offer a steady flow of insight into the author’s activities, thoughts, and ideas.

  • Author and NYT journalist Daniel Coyle (The Talent Code) blogs frequently on his site. In fact, his blog is front and center: it’s the main feature on the homepage. In addition to its frequency, Coyle integrates pictures and videos and has catchy post titles—“How to Spark Motivation? (Step One: Shut Your Mouth)”; “A Two-Minute Video That Might Change the Way Your Kid Thinks”; and “Best Parenting Tip Ever.”
  • Dan Ariely, (Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions) an author and professor, posts his “Ask Ariely” Q&A column from the Wall Street Journal to his blog. The questions are varied and Ariely’s responses are brief and interesting (he incorporates plenty of behavioral science research into his answers). The bottom line: Ariely blogs prolifically about his field of interest and expertise making the blog a must-read.

5) Having a “Rockstar” Testimonial: It’s always better to have other people talk about how great you are and author Richard Florida (The Rise of the Creative Class) hit the jackpot on this front. His homepage features a video clip of U2 front man Bono recommending Florida’s bestselling book to a panel

Six Steps to a More Engaging Author Website, Part 1

Posted on: October 18th, 2013 | 1 comment 

In a previous post, we established why authors should have their own website. An engaging author website is the gateway to multiple audiences: agents, editors, the media, readers, and reviewers, and thus, it should showcase your work and ideas and give people a sense of your personality. Setting up a website yourself or hiring an affordable designer does not mean you’ll have to spend a significant amount of time or money. In fact, you’ll expend more time and energy on your Twitter and Facebook accounts than your website in the long run because once set up, all you have to do is update the site with fresh content.

In the next two posts, we highlight features from several nonfiction author websites that we think are effective in engaging readers and building traffic. We hope these ideas inspire you to be creative on your own site.  All of these can be developed by you, without spending more money  on a web engineer or designer.

1) Crafting an Effective Tagline: A tagline, which should feature prominently on your homepage, does two things: it either summarizes you and your expertise or it describes what your book is about. It signals to the reader that you are an expert and your website contains the best information on a particular subject. We also find that a tagline sets the website’s tone. Check out the following:

  • On author and entrepreneur Chip Conley’s (Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow) main website (Conley has two other book-related sites), the first thing you’ll see is the following tagline: “Creating Transformation at the Intersection of Business + Psychology.” (The tagline is placed next to Conley’s inspirational TED Talk.)
  •  “The Movement That Is Transforming How New Products Are Built And Launched.”