Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Are You Prepared to be an Author?

You've written the book, sent it to a publisher, and received that wonderful acceptance letter. All your dreams and aspirations have come true and you find yourself snoopy dancing around the living room, giddy with excitement. You congratulate yourself for a job well done and sit back and wait for those glorious royalty checks to come in. You have been told or read that self-promotion is essential to make sure your book sells and you are prepared for that. Or, are you?

Many new authors have the misconception that the publisher will do all the work for you but as you will learn, publishers leave the brunt of the promoting on you. Self-publishing and print-on-demand authors have it even harder, for all the work of promoting will fall in their hands, but the same rules apply to those authors who are published with traditional houses, too.


As any seasoned author knows, your book will not sit there and sell itself. Your publisher can only do so much. You have to think of it as teamwork. Your publisher has your best interests in mind as well as his own.

The first place to promote your book is a website. Millions of internet-users will have access to your site and building a website is not only easy once you get the hang of it, but fun, too. Sometimes, your publisher will provide a webpage for you, but if you are not one of the lucky ones, what do you do?

There are dozens of web hosts that are free or charge a minimal price. Those that I would recommend are:




Some of these come with annoying advertisements and for a small fee, you can have them removed. These web hosts are all easy to learn and provide tutorials.

Your webpage should include the following: book cover, link to where potential buyers can purchase your book, a clear crisp recent photo of you, reviews, endorsements, and contact information.

Another way to shamelessly promote yourself is to add your book details in your signature tagline with every email you send out. Round up all the addresses in your book and send them a note that your book is finally released. If you don’t get bold, your book stands no chance. Get out there and brag, brag, brag!


Are you prepared to be interviewed about yourself and your book? It's no time to be shy or tongue-tied. No one will buy your book if you have nothing to say!

You can prepare yourself for this day by making a list of questions you might think an interviewer might ask you. You can be confident they will ask you the ordinary questions like "How did you get your start as a writer?" or "What are you currently working on?”, but, are you prepared for questions such as "When it comes to promotion, what lengths have you gone to in order to increase reader awareness of your work?" or "What are the key selling points of your book?". Believe me, they will ask.

This is where your press kit comes in. Before the interview, send them your press kit. Not only will they appreciate this, but it’s common procedure and will make you look more professional. I buy a folder and place a copy of the cover of my book on the front for appeal. Inside I have another copy of my book cover, a single-page write-up of what my book is about, an author bio sheet, a recent photo of myself, any reviews that I may have secured as well as past interviews, and articles I placed in the paper myself about my book, as well as press releases. You might also want to add in a sample question and answer sheet so that the potential interviewer will have an idea of what to ask.

I also make sure this folder has side pockets for pertinent information such as my business card with my contact information listed on it.


I am a member of several online writing and critique groups. One question I asked them to prepare for this article was, “Which promotional method helps the most for selling your book?” The answer unequivocally was book signings. While one of the most feared, this was the most profitable in terms of book sales. As long as you have done your homework and come prepared, book signings can boost your exposure and sell more books than any other promotional outlet. The key here is “doing your homework”.

It might help to attend a book signing in your area before you have to hold your own. Note what makes this particular author interesting. Is he/she sitting at a desk waiting for people to come to her or is she mingling with the crowd? One prominent author friend of mine never sits. She doesn’t even allow the bookstore manager to put a chair down for her. She feels she won’t get the urge to be unsociable this way. Moving around makes her seem more people friendly and, thus, more approachable.

Another good approach many authors possess at book signings is “their signature”. One author of a children’s picture book about turtles brings her pet turtle in for a “show and tell”. Youngsters love this. This approach is good for the author who might like some of the spotlight taken off them and onto something else.

Another author who wrote a Caribbean romance story showed up at her book signing dressed in a flowery dress with dangly seashell earrings.

To sell your book, you have to sell yourself. Shameless promoting not only puts money in your pocket, but the recognition is priceless. Now isn’t the time to be shy. Get out there and promote, promote, promote!

Dorothy Thompson is the editor and founder of The Writer's Life (http://www.thewriterslife.net), one of Writer's Digest Magazine's Top 101 Website for Writers in 2003 & 2006. She is also the editor of ROMANCING THE SOUL and the author of three self-published eBooks: A COMPLETE GUIDE TO PROMOTING AND SELLING YOUR SELF-PUBLISHED EBOOK FOR FREE, HOW TO FIND AND KEEP YOUR SOUL MATE and 101 FACTS YOU NEVER KNEW ABOUT SOUL MATES. You can visit her website at http://www.dorothythompson.net

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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Self-Employment: Managing Your Money: Tips for Living with a Fluctuating Cash Flow (Part One)

The way you manage your money is one of the first things you'll change when you move from employment to self-employment.

You are moving from an environment where you received income in equal amounts at set intervals to one where your income fluctuates.

Managing money in such circumstances is unfamiliar and, for most of us, uncomfortable.

These are some tips I developed from my experience of 10+ years of self-employment.


When I first got started, an old CPA friend of mine had three words to say. “Keep good records.”

Maintaining good records of your money transactions helps you in several ways.

It helps you track your income and spending so you can create a realistic budget.

Your financial records become a management tool for your business. If your records are accurate and up to date, you can track changes in income and spending – and take appropriate action, when necessary.

There’s gold in those records. As a self-employed person you can deduct all kinds of business expenses. But you have to be able to substantiate them with evidence (receipts, invoices, credit card slips, mileage logs, etc.)

Lastly, keeping good financial records keeps the authorities happy when they come calling. The IRS audit rate of self-employed people is higher than almost any other group.


Having separate bank accounts in your business’s name does a great deal to prove to snoopy tax authorities that you are really running a business and not a hobby.

But more important, it helps you to keep your records straight.

Money you generate and spend in the process of conducting your business goes through your business account, all other money goes into your personal account.

TIP: If you are a sole-proprietor, don’t intend to have employees, and don’t anticipate a need for business loans, your account can be a separate personal checking account. All that is necessary is that your account be in the name of your business.

If your bank insists that you open a higher cost 'business acccount,' consider going to a credit union, where rates and terms are more favorable than those of commercial banks.


Managing fluctuating income is one of the biggest challenges of self-employment.

The most difficult part of having a fluctuating cash flow is dealing with the anxiety that arises when cash flow is tight.

Most people who have been self-employed for a considerable amount of time develop a simple faith that money will flow again. But it gets uncomfortable for us, too, when the downturn is severe or prolonged.

Here are some tips on coping.

Have a marketing plan and stick to it.

Shift your spending to mimic your cash flow. In other words, spend more when money comes in, cut back when it is not. And put away some cash for a rainy day.

Keep your obligatory monthly payments as low as possible. These are the necessities that are billed monthly such as telephone and other utilities, car payments, etc.

If you must put a purchase on a monthly installment, as, say, most people do when they buy a car, opt for the longest-term loan possible.

A longer loan term lowers your required monthly payment. This makes it easier to fulfill your obligations during lean months. Pay more than is required during fat months to pay down these loans (this will reduce your total interest payments and pay off the loan more quickly).

Rather than paying for web hosting and other services on a monthly basis, opt for an annual installment that comes due during a fatter month. Not only do many web hosts give you a discount for choosing the annual option, you eliminate one payment you must come up with during a lean period.


Ellen Zucker has been successfully self-employed for over 10 years.

Self-Employment 101: It's about making a living and creating a life! ... Observations, information and resources for those of us who are self employed or just thinking about it. [http://www.selfemployment101.com]

E-zine subscribers [http://www.selfemployment101.com/subscribe.html] can get Ellen's articles delivered to their email inbox.

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