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How a Good Ghostwriter Helps You Find Courage and More

Posted on: January 10th, 2018 | No comments 


Becoming an author can help you grow your career or business, or share a story you feel must be told. You will have new opportunities to speak and write. A book opens doors.

The problem is that writing any book is a challenge even for professional writers. Writing a good book is very hard.

We have seen many highly-accomplished business people humbled by the process. They may have run big corporations, led thousands of people, and started magnificent enterprises.  Yet after months of toiling alone they show up at our door because they can see for themselves that, “It’s just not good enough.” Or perhaps they were turned down by agents and want to know why.

These are the clients we love to work with most because  A) they usually have strong content and ideas and B) they are high quality professionals with the great work ethic that writing a book requires.

They just don’t know the craft.  We, on the other hand, have spent our lives working on books.

Herb and I often marvel at how the same writing issues seem to come up again and again. So I thought it might be helpful to share the three most common challenges we see, and explain what we do to help.  Here goes.

Ivy Leaguers and CEOs

Can they write? Of course they can. They aced their way through grad school. They’ve been writing briefs and proposals and emails all their lives. They’re used to having an audience listen to what they say. The problem is that they often send us pages of really smart stuff that reads more like an A+ term paper—not a book.

  • How a ghost can help:  Facts are great, but not enough. A good ghost helps this writer get his or her unique voice

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.

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.

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 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

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


Neuroscience and the Writing Process

Posted on: October 10th, 2012 | 1 comment 

It’s often said that writing is an art, not a science but from what I’ve learned in the past month, I
may have to dispute that saying. Okay, I’ll confess. I am not a science-oriented person. From an
early age, I was fascinated by the arts and literature and imagined penning a novel one day. So
it’s surprising that I find myself working on an exciting campaign about cognitive neuroscience—
the intersection of psychology and the study of the brain.

Immersing myself in neuroscience these past few weeks has helped me understand how my
brain works and ways I can maximize my productivity and performance. For example, when
working on a complex writing project, sometimes my brain gets overloaded with information
and I can’t think as clearly. I’ve learned that this is what happens when I try to tackle a problem
that is too big for my conscious mind to solve. However, if I walk away, distract myself, and then
return to the writing project, I don’t feel as overwhelmed.

Similarly, after I write something, I leave a decent amount of time before editing the document.
That’s because stepping away from a problem (or writing project) and then coming back to it
gives you a fresh perspective. (Neuroleadership expert Dr. David Rock covers this phenomenon
in a Harvard Business Review blog post titled Three Ways to Think Deeply at Work.) I find good
distractor tasks such as exercising, talking a walk, or even reading something unrelated to what I
am writing about often spur my thinking.

So, how does this relate to the campaign I’ve been working on? Big Fish Media has partnered
with Dr. Rock and his firm, the NeuroLeadership Institute, to promote the NeuroLeadership
Summit, a two-day conference being held in New York City from

Book Apps: A Marketing Opportunity for Authors

Posted on: September 27th, 2012 | No comments 

Book apps represent a new territory for authors. Our advice? Don’t be intimidated by
this digital technology; an app is a new way to interact with your readers and one that
augments the reading experience.

You know the stats: According to the Association of American Publishers, U.S. book
publishers brought in more revenue from e-books than hardcover books in the first
quarter of 2012—a first for the industry. What’s driving the e-book growth and
craze? Very simply, the explosion of the tablet and e-reader market. Former Morgan
Stanley analyst Mary Meeker’s highly regarded Annual Internet Trends Report
(2012) noted that 29 percent of U.S. adults own a tablet or e-reader—up from two
percent less than three years ago. In 2011 alone, 48.3 million iPads, Android tablets
and e-readers were sold to U.S. consumers according to research by the NPD Group.

The growth of the tablet market brings new opportunities for book publishers with
one particular area ripe for exploration and experimentation: the app market. The
iTunes App Store alone has more than 660,000 apps, of which, 65,102 are primarily
for books. By all accounts, more people will use mobile/tablet platforms than PCs
making apps more relevant and mainstream.

How does this affect book publishers? They’re being pushed to become multimedia
companies by creating audio, video and interactive components for readers. Thus,
publishers are learning that apps are one way to sell content and reach an engaged
audience. Besides understanding app functionality, enhancements, pricing and
marketing, book publishing professionals must answer these questions:

  • Should a book become a dedicated app or an enhanced e-book?
  • Do these “immersion experiences” make people happy when they read their books?
  • Does it add value to the reading experience or does it get in the way of enjoying a book?

Not all books lend