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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, 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

Authors: Boost Your Blog Posts

Posted on: October 13th, 2015 | No comments 


As a nonfiction author, you’re an expert on a topic—be it health care, personal finance, or neuroscience. This is what sets you apart from others and makes your blog posts more interesting. From time to time, it’s important to offer your readers a different perspective for the content you write—so you are not predictable or promotional. Here are four ways you can make your content more intriguing.

1. Offer expert critique of the hottest issue in the news if you are qualified. Alternatively, you can amplify what someone else is saying about the issue. The Ebola virus has become a major health concern and one that transcends borders. If you’re in health care, write about how to not catch viruses in general or clarify any myths about Ebola.

2. Show readers parts of the profession/work you do that they don’t know about. If you’re an expert don’t repeat the advice people get everywhere; write about topics that only you would know about from experience. For example, if you’re a venture capitalist, what do you observe about entrepreneurs in their closed-door meetings and pitches that people don’t see? If you’re a financial planner, what are some of the situations clients bring you that are most common? Think about what you see or know and offer these insights in a post.

3. Make a “best of” list. Nobody has the time to read everything, which is why “best of” lists are popular; they winnow down content into bites of information. Plus, they are fun and interesting. Think about ways you can simplify the universe of information on your topic and come up with recommendations—“5 Best Movies on Finance and Wall Street” or “5 Best Business Memoirs” or “10 Worst Book Jackets.”

4. Ask other experts in your field or a

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

Finding Facebook Friends and Fans: What Authors Need to Know About Big Changes in Facebook

Posted on: January 25th, 2014 | No comments 

Chances are once you’ve published new content to your website, you automatically update your other social media platforms to reach friends and fans: you send out a tweet, update your Pinterest and LinkedIn accounts, share on Google+, and post to Facebook. What you may not know is the new content you just posted on Facebook will not automatically appear on your friends or fans’ newsfeeds. In fact, your content will reach smaller number of fans than before. If you want to ensure reaching all your fans, it will be at a cost.

In the good old days it was a given that your posts would appear in your fans’ newsfeeds (where people spend the majority of their time) but according to Facebook, the onslaught of content has increased competition for what is limited space. Over the past six months, Facebook changed its algorithm; now, fewer fans are reading your content in their newsfeeds.

Reaction to the changes at Facebook has been mixed. The small business owners profiled in the New York Times article, “Facebook Revamps Ads to Compete With Google,” are not complaining; in fact, some have embraced the changes. But comments posted by other small business owners to an Advertising Age article (“Facebook Admits Organic Reach is Falling Short, Urges Marketers to Buy Ads,”) are far from happy. To read candid comments on the relative worth of Facebook for business owners, irrespective of the changes, read “A Social Media Marketer Assesses Facebook’s Advertising Platform” (NYT).

There is no doubt that Facebook is an important tool for authors. It’s where you can generate “Likes” for your work, comment on posts, and interact with your fans. But with these new changes, you’ll have to decide whether it’s the right social distribution channel for you. Our recommendation?

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.”

Key Elements of Author Websites (post 1 of 4)

Posted on: October 14th, 2013 | 1 comment 

Big Fish Media has added website design to our portfolio of services.  During the last six months, we have developed the official website for the legacy of C.K. Prahalad; and the website for the book Choosing Change, by Susan Goldsworthy and Walter McFarland.  We’ll have more news about our planned offerings soon; along the way, we’ve been doing our homework on top issues for nonfiction authors deciding to develop a website for their book. Over the next week or so, we will publish four posts offering insight, tactics, advice, and best practices to authors, drawn from our experience and analysis of successful nonfiction author websites.

Remember that in almost every case, authors need to be active in social media as well as operating a successful website. And, as Jason Allen Ashlock wrote in his excellent column The Truth About Author Websites, many experts believe a bad website does more harm than good.  Because of the importance of costs and providing updated and new content, we still recommend WordPress as the best development platform and learning to self-admin your site is critical.

Consider a few of these basic must-dos for an author’s website, assuming his or her book is going to be published commercially and in distribution:

1. Keep content fresh: whether via blogging, news updates, interactive Q&A features, or other means; don’t allow your site to become stale (if you’re going to have a blog, be committed to creating new material at least once a week). Link to your social media.

2. Invest in a WordPress-savvy designer for a simple, elegant and functional approach. That may seem like obvious advice.  What’s important is to visualize information in a style that consumers are used to: note the design on Simon & Schuster’s new websites. 

3. In terms of functionality, the

How to Meet the Self-Publishing Challenge: A Case Study with Nonfiction Author Susan Price

Posted on: September 18th, 2013 | No comments 

by Sarita Venkat

I just finished reading Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch’s book APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur—How to Publish a Book. In excruciating detail, the authors take the reader through a step-by-step process on how to self-publish by (fittingly) self-publishing APE. The book is a guide and resource for authors exploring an alternate publishing route. It’s also a good reminder that in the digital age, it doesn’t hurt writers and publishers to know about the social and technical tools available and accessible to them.

That said, self-publishing isn’t for the fainthearted. The information is overwhelming and the choices numerous. So it got us thinking—why don’t we help demystify the process by shadowing a nonfiction author as they navigate the self-publishing maze?

Meet Susan Crites Price. Susan is a Washington, DC-based freelance writer, book author, and speaker. She an expert on the topic of family philanthropy. Susan has talked about this issue on television (Oprah, NBC’s “Today”) and has written about it in various publications (Working Mother, The Chronicle of Philanthropy).

In 2001 Susan published The Giving Family: Raising Our Children To Help Others, a highly regarded book in the philanthropic world. According to Susan, the book helped her secure some speaking engagements, allowing her to talk about a topic she’s passionate about and in the process, sell more copies. Susan is currently writing an updated version taking into account technology’s role in charitable giving. (“Twelve years ago kids didn’t give online. Today, they do a million things online—including philanthropy.”)

Susan has already traveled the traditional publishing path with her previous six books, so this time she’s decided to self-publish. Why? Similar to many people she wants more control over the publishing process and prefers not to spend time finding an agent or publisher.

So, we’ll

The Power of Posting Up

Posted on: July 23rd, 2013 | No comments 

Our clients and health care reform gurus Al Lewis and Tom Emerick (working from time-to-time with Vik Khanna) are selling books and generating buzz through a series of blog articles in major news and information sites ranging from the Wall Street Journal to Harvard Business Review to Fortune and The Health Care Blog.

What makes their content marketing so effective? First, they’re outstanding writers with an unusually sharp ability to frame an argument. Just as important, they take a clear position, they know the editorial needs of the brands where they want to be published, and they take direction from editors. All writers can all take a page out of their book.

We’re pleased we could work with them on placements that include (check them out—they’re funny and persuasive):

To learn more about Tom Emerick’s and Al Lewis’ landmark new handbook for managing (and saving) health care, Cracking Health Costs, visit their websites: or


Ways to Invigorate Your Blog: Guest Posts, Interviews, and Reader Questions

Posted on: September 13th, 2012 | No comments 

A few weeks ago, we wrote about how guest posts can boost your content marketing,
offering tips and links to five websites you can target. But what about the other side
of the guest blogging discussion? In addition to soliciting other blogs, why not invite
bloggers to post on your website? After all, in the age of social media, aren’t we all
content producers?

In a past life, I managed a company blog in Washington, DC. The blog was successful
because of its simple yet effective policy: 70 percent of the posts were written by
guest bloggers; 30 percent by the firm’s employees. The blog, Re: Philanthropy, was a
platform for those in the nonprofit sector who want to share new ideas and thoughts. It
was a win-win situation: guest bloggers promoted their work to a wider audience and the
company used the blog to engage their clients. Important tip: Don’t forget to ask your
guest blogger to share the post with their personal and professional networks.

I know you’re thinking—“How do I manage a blog (corporate or personal) so my tone
and voice aren’t diluted or worse, lost?” The answer: by maintaining a clear policy and
guidelines on who you’ll invite to guest post, how you’ll determine a topic, and how much
editorial control you’ll have over the content. The key is to be ruthless when posting
content that’s relevant and augments your brand. So, if you write about social media
marketing, only invite experts in this field to contribute. If your expertise is early child
development, ask people knowledgeable about the topic to offer their insights.

Realistically, a 70/30 split will not work if you have a personal blog. However, explore the
idea of inviting a guest blogger to write for you once a month. Or,