Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Seth Godin's lessons from the Domino project

Today, Seth Godin wrote about what he learned from The Domino Project in a blog post titled The last hardcover. In the post, Godin also announced that he is closing down the Domino Project after publishing a string of 11 best selling books.

I've copied his entire post here. It is a brilliant analysis of book publishing and writing in the digital age.



"Today the Domino Project is publishing Sarah Kay's new book. It's a short poem, a great gift and a book I'm proud to publish by an author on her way to big things. I hope you'll take a look.

"Almost exactly a year after we started, Sarah's book is the last print book we'll be launching. Twelve books, twelve bestsellers, published in many languages around the world.

"I've posted a history of what we built, along with some of what we learned along the way.

"By most of the measures I set out at the beginning, the project has been a success. So why stop? Mostly because it was a project, not a lifelong commitment to being a publisher of books. Projects are fun to start, but part of the deal is that they don't last forever.

"The goal was to explore what could be done in a fast-changing environment. Rather than whining about the loss of the status quo, I thought it would be interesting to help invent a new status quo and learn some things along the way. Here are a few of my takeaways:

"Permission is still the most important and valuable asset of the web (and of publishing). The core group of 50,000 subscribers to the Domino blog made all the difference in getting the word out and turning each of our books into a bestseller. It still amazes me how few online merchants and traditional publishers (and even authors) have done the hard work necessary to create this asset. If you're an author in search of success and you don't pursue this with singleminded passion, you're making a serious error. (See #2 on my advice for authors post from five years ago, or the last part of my other advice for authors post from six years ago.)

"The ebook is a change agent like none the book business has ever seen. It cuts the publishing time cycle by 90%, lowers costs, lowers revenue and creates both a long tail and an impulse-buying opportunity. This is the most disruptive thing to happen to books in four hundred years. It's hard for me to see significant ways traditional book publishers can add the value they're used to adding when it comes to marketing ebooks, unless they get busy with #1.

"Booksellers have a starfish problem. Without permission (see #1) it's almost impossible for a publisher to be heard above the noise, largely because long tail merchants haven't built the promotional tools traditional retailers have long used to highlight one title over another. You Linkused to be able to buy useful and efficient shelf space at a retailer. Hard to do that now.

"There is still (and probably will be for a while) a market for collectible editions, signed books and other special souvenirs that bring the emotional component of a book to the fore. While most books merely deliver an idea or a pasttime, for some books and some readers, there's more than just words on paper. Just as vinyl records persist, so will books. Not because a reader can't get the information faster or cheaper, but because there's something special about molecules and scarcity.

"When you combine #1, #3 and #4, you get to Kickstarter, which it seems to me, is going to be ever more important, particularly to new authors, authors that don't write genre ebooks and anyone with a tribe who wants to produce something like a book.

"Sponsored ebooks are economically irresistible to readers, to sponsors and to authors. I'm proud to have pioneered this, and I think it's a trend worth pursuing. The value transfer to the reader is fabulous (hey, a great book, for free), and the sponsor gets to share in some of that appreciation. The author gets a guaranteed payday as well as the privilege of reaching ten or a hundred times as many readers.

"The ebook marketing platform is in its technical infancy. There are so many components that need to be built, that will. Ebooks are way too hard to give as gifts and to share. Too hard to integrate into social media. And the ebook reader is a lousy platform for discovery and promotion of new titles (what a missed chance). All that will happen, the road map is there, but it's going to take commitment from Apple, B&N and Amazon.

"If you're an author, pick yourself. Don't wait for a publisher to pick you. And if you work for a big publishing house, think really hard about the economics of starting your own permission-based ebook publisher. Now's the time.

"Most of all, the character of people in the world of books hasn't changed since I started in this business 27 years ago. Every author I dealt with was a delight. Smart, passionate, honest, humble (and yes, good looking). Readers sense this, I think, and treat books and the people who make them very differently than someone hawking a vitamin or a penny stock. Publishing is about passion and writing is a lifestyle, not a shortcut to a mansion and a Porsche. Bestselling authors are like golfers who hit holes in one. It's a nice thing, but there are plenty of people who will keep playing even without one."

Monday, November 7, 2011

Cat Monday

Capturing video using PowerDirector 10 on an older computer

I am using PowerDirector 10 to capture DV from an older camera on an older computer. The challenge is to capture video on a slow computer without having dropped frames.

First I shut down everything except PowerDirector 10... including the antivirus, cloud backup, clock and weather gadgets, and wireless internet connection.

Next I selected PowerDirector 10's "non-real time capture"option. (I selected this after Real time capture failed, with hundreds of dropped frames.)

I was able to capture two hours of DV with no dropped frames.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Do you need film making skills to get a job?

Today Seth Godin explained "How to Get a Job With a Small Company."

His blog post is brilliant and workable (as usual). One of his recommendations is to 'learn how to produce extraordinary video and multimedia.'

For the past couple years I've been writing books and articles that teach people how to produce extraordinary video. My publisher, MWP is a good place to find books that teach all the skills you need. I am probably prejudiced, but think my own book Digital Video Secrets is a good way to get started. It may be the only book you need.

I've excerpted Godin's post, below, with notes in (parentheses) showing how each step applies to film making...

"1. Learn to sell. Everyone has sold something, some time, even if it’s just selling your mom on the need for a nap when you were three years old. A lot of people have decided that they don’t want to sell, can’t sell, won’t sell, but those same people need to understand that they’re probably not going to get a job doing anything but selling.
(To learn how to sell, look for books on pitching, marketing, acting and auditioning.)

"Small businesses always need people who can sell, because selling
pays for itself. It’s not an expense, it’s a profit center.

"2. Learn to write. Writing is a form of selling, one step removed.
There’s more writing in business today than ever before, and if you can become a persuasive copywriter, you’re practically a salesperson, and even better, your work scales.
(To learn how to write, look for books on script writing, story building and mythology for writers.)

"3. Learn to produce extraordinary video and multimedia. This is just like writing, but for people who don’t like to read. Even better, be sure to mix this skill with significant tech skills. Yes, you can learn to code. The fact that you don't feel like it is one reason it's a scarce skill."
(To learn how to produce video and multimedia look for books on documentary film making, editing, auditioning, casting, budgeting, cinematography, guerrilla distribution, directing and acting. For technical books on things like coding, you can't do better than the books, videos and conferences from O'Reilly Media.)

Friday, October 21, 2011

A book is like an iceberg

"A book is like an iceberg. 10% writing and 90% marketing." Jack Canfield, author of Chicken Soup For the Soul.

144 publishers turned down Chicken Soup For The Soul before it was eventually published. So far, the book has sold more than 10,000,000 copies.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sixteen ways to sell out... your books

When my book Digital Video Secrets was published, I decided to keep promoting the book until the first print run sold out. That was three years ago. This summer we made it. Here are a few things I learned along the way.

1. Get 25 Amazon reviews as quickly as possible. It is OK to ask people directly. I usually say something like, "Please review the book and give it your honest review." I had to ask about 50 people to get the first 12 reviews of Digital Video Secrets.

2. Make a web page for your book. It can be as simple as a Google Blogger.com page. Include a brightly colored Buy Now button on the page. Make it easy for people to click the Buy Now button and buy your book.

3. Set aside a regular time to work on promotion. Perhaps one or two hours each day, or one or two days a week, whatever schedule works for you. Otherwise promotion can (will) interfere with your writing. Book promoting is an infinite series of possible tasks. Setting aside a time for promotion is a way to limit the job and keep it from taking over your life.

4. Search for bloggers in your field, and contact them. You might offer to write for them as a guest blogger. Start following discussions and leaving comments on their websites. Look for mid-level bloggers as opposed to superstar bloggers. The superstars are often too hard to reach. Start an Excel spreadsheet with the blogger's names, URLs, and a note about the content and popularity of their blogs. Keep going until you can identify the best 20 or 30 mid-level bloggers in your field -- and the next 100 - 200 with smaller followings. Find 5 new ones a day and within a month you will have over 100.

5. Restrict your social media promotion to the one or two programs that you are comfortable with. Don't be seduced into using a program you don't like because someone says it's good for promotion. For example, I don't really understand or feel comfortable with twitter, so I have not used it to promote my own books.

6.Social media promotion is really about having conversations with people. Use things like blog comments, email, Facebook, and LinkdedIn to start conversations with interesting people and organizations that you contacted when you were researching and writing the book. Send a few of them copies of the book. Ask them for Amazon reviews. Ask them to review the book on their blogs, and mention the book on their blog, Facebook or LinkedIn accounts.

7. Offer to speak at organizations, seminars and events that are related to the topic of the book. The goal is not to sell books. It is to start stimulating conversations with people who have an interest in the subject of your book. (This is tricky. It can be expensive and time consuming for little apparent return.)

8. Offer to speak to classes at Universities. Again, the objective is not to sell books but to start stimulating conversations with interesting people. The book sales will happen if enough conversations get going.

9. Post a downloadable sample of the book online, linked to a Sample button. Perhaps the first 10 or 20% of the book. At the end of the sample, put a link to buy the book. Kindle is great for this.

10. The first sentence of your sample should capture the reader. By the middle of the first page, the reader should be entangled in the story you are telling. Don't be afraid to use your best anecdotes in the sample. Give the reader one potato chip, or three! (H/T Jon Franklin)

11. Look for organizations that might buy the book in truckloads. Perhaps a nonprofit, or a corporation with a compelling interest in the subject of your book. Offer to sell them 5,000 copies or 10,000 copies at a reduced price that they can give away as promotional items. If they really like the book, they might pay for publicity and a speaking tour. You will be their captive author and star.

12. Look for the most active forums in the field. One or two will stand out above all the rest. On these forums you will find respected professionals (like yourself) who are commenting and discussing critical issues every day. Forums tend to be more oriented to problem solving and advice. Get involved and offer your hard-earned expertise in the subject that the book covers.

13. If you do not already have a detailed audience description, I'd take a day or two to write one. When you know exactly who you are trying to reach, the job of finding and reaching them becomes much easier.

14. Create a 5-7 word description of your book, but no more than 7. Less is better. The reason is to make it really easy for people to copy the description and a link to the book and forward the whole thing via twitter. My son tells me that many RSS feeds only show the first 7 words of a title or sentence. Make it EASY for people to copy and forward the description and link. The title and subtitle as it exists right now might be all you need.

15. Put a link to the book in the signature line of your email address. Include that link and the short 5-7 word description in every email, comment, and communication. Like this:

Tony Levelle
email: info[at]tonylevelle[dot]com
website: www.tonylevelle.com
Digital Video Secrets The basics distilled into one essential guide.

16. Do radio shows. Buy a national directory of radio shows. Call the producers and offer to be interviewed. Take as many gigs as you can get, including those in small regional markets. The best shows for selling books are the hour-long interviews, but three minute clips are excellent. Remember, you never know who is listening. One person in the radio audience could mention book to the right someone, and make a huge difference. When an Internet radio show wants to interview you, their audience is--by definition--your niche audience.

Hope this helps. As always, feel free to comment (good or bad) and to contact me directly.

Fourteen things you can do to sell out

Fourteen things you can do to sell out has moved to a new address.

After additions and changes by readers, Fourteen things you can do to sell out has become Sixteen things you can do to sell out.

You can read it here.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Seven TED talks about filmmaking

The following seven links are taken from an excellent article by Nadia Jones at NoFilmSchool.com. You can read the whole article here.

Seven TED talks given by famous filmmakers, producers, and directors.

1. Jehane Noujaim Wishes for a Global Day of Film: In this TED talk, Jehane Noujaim discusses the power of film and the potential it has to change the world.

2. Jeff Skoll Makes Movies that Matter: Discussing the things that inspire him and his dreams for the future, Jeff Skoll gives a TED talk about his media production company.

3. Deborah Scranton on Her “War Tapes”: Filmmaker Deborah Scranton discusses making her film The War Tapes and discusses what inspired her to create this experience.

4. Shekhar Kapur: We Are the Stories We Tell Ourselves: Shekhar Kapur discusses where creative inspiration comes from, while exploring his thought process behind the making of the film Elizabeth.

5. James Cameron: Before Avatar… a Curious Boy: Immensely famous director James Cameron reveals his fascination with the fantastic and the uncanny.

6. Morgan Spurlock: The Greatest TED Talk Ever Sold: Documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock discusses film as a means for discussing important societal issues.

7. J.J. Abrams’ Mystery Box: Writer, director, and producer, J. J. Abrams discusses his passion for “the unseen mystery” and how that mystery inspires his films.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Call Burner -- A Really good call recorder for skype

I use Call Burner to record Skype calls on my Windows computer.

Call Burner is a really solid product. Easy to use, and just flawless. I recommend it highly.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Finding an editor (Editorial Freelancer Association)

A good place to find an editor is at the Editorial Freelancer's Association. http://www.the-efa.org/.

Seth Godin (author of a dozen best sellers) wrote this about editors:

"For the last twenty seven years,every single movie that managed to win the Oscar for best picture was also nominated for best editing. Great products, amazing services and stories worth talking about get edited along the way.

"Most of the time, the editing makes them pallid, mediocre and boring. Sometimes, a great editor will push the remarkable stuff. That's his job."

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The forever recession (and the coming revolution)

The future of work?

Today's blog post by Seth Godin is an important summary of his thoughts about the nature and future of what we call "jobs" and "work."

Everything I've learned in the past five years while learning how to set up a book writing
business tells me that today's post by Godin is exactly right.

The forever recession (and the coming revolution) by Seth Godin

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Get drunk with bloggers to hit Amazon Best Seller list?

After Timothy Ferris's book made the Amazon Best Seller list, Ferris gave an interview to GalleyCat in which he briefly described the publicity plan for his book.

Blogger Robert Scoble said of Ferris's plan, "It sounds like get drunk with bloggers." Ferris replied, "sounds about right..."

In reality the Ferris interview is very good. He lists four easy steps you can take to publicize your book, and he also tells how to connect with bloggers. (You don't *have* to get drunk with them, but...)

H/T to Jason Boog of GalleyCat

Monday, September 12, 2011

Every book we write is based on a myth.

Unfortunately it is almost impossible for most of us to see the mythic structure of our work. We are too close to it.

While waiting for the lunch truck at the Future of Story conference last month, I was talking to author Pamela Jaye Smith about mythic structure, and how it influences daily life, politics and the books we write.

I told Smith about a nonfiction manuscript that I've been struggling with for the past year.

As we waited for the chefs to fix sandwiches, I absently tossed off the question, "So what is the myth of my manuscript?" Her answer floored me.

"It's the myth of Job," she said.

I immediately saw what my manuscript was missing, and why it didn't work.

In the myth of Job, Job loses everything he has, through no fault of his own. Then he goes through increasingly awful problems, and is rejected by everyone. Eventually he regains everything he has lost and more.

My manuscript was missing the the final chapter in which the central character regains everything he has lost! (I am rewriting the book now, to include this chapter and appropriate foreshadowing.)

If you are writing a book, screenplay, or nonfiction book, call Pamela and schedule a consultation. She may be able to save you months or years of painful rewrite.

Thanks Pamela!

Pamela's contact info:
Website: http://www.mythworks.net/
Phone: 323-874-6042
Email: pjs@pamelajayesmith.com

Smith's books:
Pamela is the author of INNER DRIVES: How to Write and Create Characters Using the Eight Classic Centers of Motivation, THE POWER OF THE DARK SIDE: Creating Great Villains and Dangerous Situations and SYMBOLS, IMAGES, CODES: The Secret Language of Images in Media.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Erica Reitman's 11 blogging tools

Useful stuff from a thoroughly entertaining webinar with Erica Reitman during a recent MediaBistro Social Media Marketing Bootcamp. (Good course. You should take it.)

Uber blogger Erica Reitman says the key to successful blogging is having the right tools. She is the founder and owner of the highly successful blog, Fuckedinparkslope.com. Her blog gets over 500,000 page views per day. She employs 14 writers, and one managing editor.

The tools Reitman uses, ranked in order of importance:

1) Skitch
Skitch is a screengrab and lightweight photo editing software. Skitch is a Mac and Android tool. Use Skitch to make your photos fun and interesting. Reitman is obsessive about using an image in every blog post. (TL Note: TechSmith's' Jing is a roughly equivalent tool for the pc.)

2) Evernote
She says she uses Evernote to organize her life. It is like an "online notebook on crack." You can tag stuff as you capture it online. In addition to capturing online notes as you surf the web, you can use Evernote to:
- store scanned copies of driver license and passport.
- store passwords
- collect story ideas, information for blog posts
- brainstorm future projects
- links for useful tools.
With a $5 account you can share notebooks with other Evernote users.

(TL Note: I think the Evernote Essentials book is required reading. You can install and use Evernote instantly, but to get the most out of it, I suggest you plan on setting aside a day or two learn how to use Evernote. Later, you might decide to start using some of the cool programs and tools that work with Evernote.)

3) Pinterest
An addictive visual notebook. Reitman says it is a cross between a photo album and notebook. Space to save ideas. Also a social network. Good for lifestyle blogging. Save images for blog posts, image search tool. Social network for lifestyle focused folks. Images inspire post ideas.
(She says she is "a super fascist about including a picture with EVERY SINGLE POST".)
Reitman likes Pinterest as a place to search because the photos are curated. It's also a good way to discover neat blogs and people.

4) Outbrain
Outbrain is a tool for publishers and marketers that ensures none of your site's content is dead RIP. When you publish a lot of content, valuable content can disappear into the "old" category and never be seen again. Outbrain reposts "old" content on the front page of your blog. Site visitors have access to content even after it has cycled off page. All posts link back to other related posts on blog. You can make $$$ off Outbrain by selling ad space.

5) Zinio
Zinio is a Mobile reading app for magazines (ipad, iphone and online.) Reitman likes to keep all her magazines on her ipad. You can transfer your existing magazine subscriptions to zinio and have your magazines with you at all times.

6) Morguefile
Free photos by creatives for creatives.

You can use these images on your blog without permission or attribution. Morguefile is a public image archive by creatives for creatives. When you use Morgue file you can stop worrying about photo credits.

7) Flickr pool
Flickr.com is a way to let your readers, friends or family take photos for you. Then you sit back and relax. You can start a group (pool) around any topic you want.

8) Disqus (prounounced discuss)
Social media commenting system. Add photos, etc. across social media. Disqus helps you build a community on your site. Strangers don’t see all your comments. (Do I need a Disqus account to use or view the disqus home page? See the Wikipedia page for disqus details.)

9) ISocketLinkSelf-service tool for selling ads on your site. Easy way for bloggers to sell ads. With Isocket you can manage your own ad sales. You can set up a self service area for people to set up their own ads and check stats, etc. The system is super easy from a blog publisher's standpoint. A good way to get exposed to people who want to buy ad space on your site.

10) Kapost
“A way to manage content when you have more than one writers on your blog.” When you have several people working on columns and stories on your blog, managing all this quickly becomes a second job. Kapost is an "online newsroom for web publishing that handles everything from pitches to payment."

11) Editorial calendar.
An editorial calendar can be a simple as an excel spreadsheet. On the calendar, mark the days and times when you intend to publish. Reitman says you must have an editorial calendar for your blog. The goal is to make sure that you post at regular times . The calendar gets more important the bigger you get.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Portable MFA in Creative Writing - excellent eBook

The eBook version of the New York Writers Workshop's Portable MFA in Creative Writing is (no longer free) on Amazon and on Barnes & Noble. H/T to Jason Boog at GalleyCat.

The Portable MFA in Creative Writing is a remarkable book. It contains excellent, practical advice on plotting and writing your novel.

The introduction honestly describes most creative writing programs, and why they come up wanting. I've attended dozens of creative writing classes so I know a tiny bit about this world.

If you want an MFA's worth of knowledge in writing and you don't have $50,000 and a couple years to attend university, this book is for you.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Interactive story app -- walking tour of Paris

This clever iPhone app takes you on a walking tour of Paris. Using an app to tell a story is a challenging and potentially game-changing option for writers. Become a backer, and for a few dollars you can follow the progress of the project and learn how it's done.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Recipe for viral video

From Kevin Allocca presentation:

Recipe for viral videos (if there is such a thing as a recipe). All the really viral videos have these qualities.

1. Entertaining
2. Engaging
3. Effectively leveraged
(leveraged means you need to work--apply elbow grease--to get it out to people. this would include keywords, platform, optimization, etc.)
4. Non-oppressive

Viral within a subculture

Videos can go viral in a specific location (Austin, Tx) or subculture (gaming). Here are two community and subculture related viral videos that did well in June- July 2011 as discussed in a Kevin Allocca presentation.

PS: I really liked Don't Talk!

1. Don't Talk. (Movie culture)

2. Ocarina of Time. (Gaming culture)

Top trending video ads from 2011

Three most successful videos put out by a brand so far in 2011 as of August. All funny, engaging, interesting, topical, and subtle. They actually had a global audience. You don't have to speak English to understand these ads.

1. The Force Volkswagen commercial.

2. T Mobile Royal Wedding

3. Unbelievable David Beckham

YouTube Insight

YouTube Insight is a reporting tool you can use to find out who is viewing your videos, when they are viewing them, and where they are viewing them.

How videos go viral

The man ways Videos accrue (get huge viewer numbers). Notes from a presentation by Kevin Allocca of YouTube.

1. Embed
The video gets embedded in many places. Optimize your video for embedding, including multiple resolutions and sizes.

2. Searches on You Tube.
YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world. Optimize your video for search. Properly identify your video and select keywords.

3. Sharing
People share video on all social media platforms. When you script a video, think about how to make it easy to share.

4. Related/surfing
People click on the "related" videos on the side of the screen as they surf YouTube videos. Keywords you choose are hugely important for this.

5. Subscribers.
If someone with a large number of subscribers feature your video, you get strong exposure.
To get an idea of how important this is, consider that Ray William Johnson has had more than a billion views! He puts up a lot of videos, and he works hard to promote his channel.

6. Paid Promotion
Straight up promotion where you buy search placement for your video.

You Tube Memes over the years

You Tube Trends -- a tool to track videos

You Tube Trends is a constantly updated and human-edited website that tells you what is trending (going viral) now.

The You Tube Trends website describes itself this way...

"YouTube Trends, is a destination for daily insight into the zeitgeist of the world's largest video site.

"The idea for YouTube Trends started with our desire to find new ways of identifying the viral and newsworthy content people love to share and packaging it in an easy to digest format. With over 35 hours of video now uploaded to YouTube every minute, we wanted one place to distill the videos people were sharing and discussing with their friends as well as understand what YouTube could teach us about our culture and current events."

Cinch for easy podcasts

Cinch is an easy way to create interactive audio podcasts from your phone.

Cinch is essentially an audio twitter. There are Cinch iPhone and Android apps. You can take a photo or type text and attach your audio to it, and post the resulting photo/text/audio on your Facebook page.

Robert Scoble uses Cinch very effectively, here.

Dell Laptop lessons

I have two Dell laptops. A newer Vostro 3500 for daily work, and an old Vostro 1000 as a backup. Both of them died last month, right in the middle of an online course.

Lessons learned:

1. Dell power adapters die often. Keep a spare on hand.
2. Dell power adapters come in two flavors, 65 watt and 90 watt. Upgrade all adapters to 90 watt versions.
3. Lithium batteries in backup laptops need to be charged regularly.
4. The cells in multi-cell lithium batteries can short out. If a Dell laptop boots up and says "Cannot charge this battery" or "Cannot identify this battery" there's a good chance that the battery has failed. Best option is to remove the battery and run the battery-less laptop from a 90 watt adapter while you wait for a new battery to arrive.
5. Carbonite automatic online backup works. It lets you retrieve your files when your computer dies.

Links for Social and Viral Video

Articles on social and viral video, from the MediaBistro social media marketing boot camp.

I really urge you to watch all the videos at these links--even if you are not interested in making a viral video. Many of them are simply wonderful.

If you ARE interested in making a viral video, they are "essential reading."


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Future of the Story seminar--August 27 in LA

The Future of Story is a one-day seminar for screenwriters, novelists, bloggers, journalists... anyone who needs to tell a story.

This small gathering could also be a great way to start connecting to people in the film industry.

The conference is being produced by my publisher MWP Productions. If you see me there, be sure to say "Hi!"

Monday, June 27, 2011

Help your book go viral with a Social Media Release

A social media press release (SMR) is a powerful free tool that will increase chances of your story or your book going viral. An SMR tells a story about your book, using video, audio, social media and text.

Unlike traditional press releases--which have not changed in 100 years--the SMR makes it easy for people to copy and retweet key elements of your release.

Here's what an SMR might include, in order of appearance:

1. Contact information.
Email, phone, Facebook page... All the ways to get in touch with you.

2. A short and relevant headline
The headline of your press release should be less than 120 characters, so the reader can retweet it, with a link. The headline must include relevant key words. Otherwise, the reader will never read the release. In a world where information doubles every year, all we get is one glance. No more. If the title is not catchy and relevant... game over.

3. Core news facts:
Bullet points describing the core facts.

4. Relevant multimedia.
Video, audio, graphics with embed codes. Make it easy for the reader to grab the media clips.

5. Links to resources.
Add links to further resources. Your goal is to make it easy for your reader to research and write an article about your book.

6. Pre-approved quotes
Blurbs etc. that speak highly of your book.

7. 130-200 word (or less) paragraphs.
Make it easy for the reader--journalist, blogger, or PR person--to cut and paste the paragraphs into a blog piece or article.

8. Social media sharing buttons.
Put buttons in the press release for all the major social media sharing tools: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. Make it easy for the reader to click and share.

Links to resources:
Version 1.0 of an SMR template.
Version 1.5 of an SMR template.
Brian Solis explains social media releases.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

mPact free blogger campaign tool

A blogger campaign tool... mPact.
Has free option.

Free Guide to blogger outreach

Here's Blogdash's guide to blogger outreach.

Three affordable blogger outreach tools

Here's a review of three blogger outreach tools, including a couple free ones.
The tools mentioned are: eCarin, GroupHigh and BlogDash

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Monday, May 23, 2011

Fantastic Journalism, 2010

100 superb works of journalism from 2010. Compiled by Conor Friedersdorf, associate editor at The Atlantic, and founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction. Follow him on Twitter: @conor64

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

SEO keywords after Google Instant

This report at Covario, SEO is not dead yet seems to indicate that keywords are still important. Only, now, they have to be more sophisticated.

Two recent developments made keyword optimization more difficult.

First, Google changed their search algorithm to depend less on keywords and more on a site's incoming links and content.

Second, two new search tools, Google Instant and Google Wonder Wheel give people the option of choosing detailed results for their searches.

Recent studies show that this is exactly what people are doing. Instead of searching for Movies, someone might search for: Movies, horror, werewolf, in London.

If your website is about werewolf movies, a keyword like "movies" or "Werewolf" is not enough. Now you need specific keywords like "American Werewolf in London."

For best SEO the keywords should also appear in the content of the website.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Social media through the centuries

Social media today...
There Are Some People Who Don't Wait. An establishment journalist tells how young writers are breaking in to major publications by writing for social media, blogs, and "free" ezines.

And "Social media" through the centuries...
How Writers Build The Brand, by Tony Perrottet. How writers have used their current 'social media' to promote themselves since the time of Herodotus.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Social media policy wiki

Altimiter Group has a social media policy wiki with examples from many companies.

Useful Facebook resources

From the Mari Smith keynote during the MediaBistro boot camp:

21 Creative ways to increase your Facebook fan base.

Top 75 apps for enhancing your Facebook page.

Strutta for running contests online.

Wildfire tools for social media.

Hyperarts for really cool Facebook page design. (They did the Enchantment page.)

What you need to know about Facebook Promotions

Cool Facebook page for Enchantment

The Facebook page for Guy Kayasaki's book, Enchantment.

Note: clicking "Like" reveals two free ebooks.

The page was designed by the folks at Hyperarts.com

Getting traffic for your blog

A few things I learned while taking Media Bistro's Social Media Boot Camp.

1. Write good content
The first step to getting readers for your blog is to write entertaining, interesting and useful content, and to publish it on a regular schedule. You might commit to 3x per week for a year, like Chris Guillabeau did. Before going live with his blog, Guillabeau wrote 3 months posts in advance and kept them in reserve, so he would never miss a publishing day.

This blog post gives tips on how to write quality content fast:

2. Find influencers in your field
Finding the people who wield influence in your field is one of the hardest and most important parts of a 'social media marketing' program. Here are some tips:
- Sign up for eCairn. Use eCairn to find the people in the "magic middle," people who have influence but are not yet 'stars' in the field. (It is possible to start conversations with people in the magic middle, but stars are very difficult to contact.) The eCairn software is unique in this field. It will identify hundreds of influencers, and show you which ones are in the "magic middle." eCairn can also produce a map showing how influencers connect. See the eCairn website for more information.
- Read twitter lists for your field, and see who keeps showing up on them.
- Do a Google search for top blogs, forums, listservs and authorities in your field. Subscribe and read them for a while and see who is respected and influential.
- Read the top magazines in your field, see who writes articles.
- Search for annual conventions, seminars and workshops in your field, see who is on the speakers lists.
- Use Google Wonder Wheel to find the keywords for your field, and then do searches on the keywords. (If you can't get Wonder Wheel to work, turn off Google Instant search in Google Preferences. If WW still doesn't work, turn off your browser's extensions and run the browser in 'safe' mode.)
- Search Facebook, and look for people in your field who have a both fans and influence.

This blog post The Poor Man's Guide To Finding Influencers gives more tips.

3. Start conversations with influencers
The next step is to start conversations with the bloggers and influencers who share your passions. The basic strategy on starting conversations is to listen first. The best conversationalists are the best listeners.

A few notes on starting conversations. When you begin to respond, respond thoughtfully. Seek to add value to the conversation and try to be helpful. It also helps to learn a few basic rules about the etiquette of blogging before you start responding.

Here are a few ways to start conversations with people who share your passions and interests:
- "Like" them on facebook and leave thoughtful comments on their FB posts.
- Sign up for their blog's RSS feeds and leave thoughtful comments on their blog posts.
- Follow them on twitter, occasionally retweet and occasionally respond thoughtfully to their tweets.
- Eventually offer to write guest posts on their blogs.

Murray Newlands is one of the best writers on this subject. Here's a collection of his Best Posts.

Hope this helps. I am struggling with this myself smile

Friday, May 13, 2011

How Writers Build the Brand

.... “For artists, the great problem to solve is how to get oneself noticed,” Balzac observed in “Lost Illusions,” his classic novel about literary life in early 19th-century Paris.

"As another master, Stendhal, remarked in his autobiography “Memoirs of an Egotist,” “Great success is not possible without a certain degree of shamelessness, and even of out-and-out charlatanism.”

Those words should be on the Authors Guild coat of arms..."

From How Writers Build the Brand, by Tony Perrottet in the New York Times.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Kindle formatting guide

Amazon Kindle formatting guide. If you decide to do your own conversion, this guide will show you how to create and test a Kindle eBook.

5 free formatting guides for your eBook

GalleyCat article with links to free formatting guides for your ebook. Covers the major eBook formats including Kindle.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Scott Galloway speaks on digital competence, how Facebook may become the Internet, and how old people (some of us anyway) do not "get" social media.

Three Cups of Tea -- selected links

A collection of links to articles and blog posts about the Three Cups of Tea scandal.

The list is in chronological order, with newest links on top. At the bottom of the list is a link to Jon Krakauer's 72 page article that started everything, Three Cups of Deceit: How Greg Mortenson, Humanitarian Hero, Lost His Way.

17. Three Cups of BS Foreign Policy magazine (Newest link)
16. It's not about the Tea Stanford Social Innovation Review
15. More and More Mortenson (and less and less New York Times) Alternet
14. Now Outside Questions Mortenson's Record India Times
13. The High Priestess of Posterity 87 year old Elizabeth Hawley records all Nepalese climbs.
12. Can't Get There From Here Outside Blog
11. That's Right, Blame the Co-Author eReads
10. Stones Into Dollars: Why Mortenson's Math Does Not Add Up iTrevino
9. Another Three Cups of Tea Story: With A Different Ending bNet
8. Jon Krakauer's Hunt For Truth The Daily Beast
7. Three Cups of Humble Pie Marianne Elliott
6. Collecting Three Cups of Tea Posts Good Intentions are Not Enough (collection of 150+ posts)
5. Three Cups of Tea: Doing Good is Hard Work Forbes
4. Three Cups of Platitudes FT.com
3. Greg Mortenson's Dizzying Fall From Grace The Guardian
2. Greg Mortenson Speaks Outside Blog
1. Three Cups of Deceit: How Greg Mortenson, Humanitarian Hero Lost His Way by Jon Krakauer.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Marianne Elliott's Guide to Twitter and more

A very good guide to using Twitter by writer and human-rights activist Marianne Elliott.

Her advice on finding an agent, community and using social media is here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

11 things journalists know about writing fast and good

Professional journalists have to know how to write fast, get the facts right, and keep a reader interested. The body of knowledge that journalists gain in "J School" is complex, and not at all obvious to outsiders.

Here are 11 simple things I learned the hard way.

1. Write it down. The journalist's notebook fits in a pocket, and is ideally designed for note taking. (4x8 inch journalist notebook on Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/3ln5jhz

2. When researching something, remember to ask yourself "who, what, where, when and why." These five questions will guide you through most stories.

3. Know the difference between a primary source and a secondary source. If I tell you, "I like Starbucks." I'm your primary source, and you can write "Tony likes Starbucks." If my friend Joe tells you "Tony likes Starbucks," Joe is a secondary source. Always assume secondary sources are wrong or lying, and don't use the information unless you can verify it.

4. Write the title and introduction last. You may find your title in a quote or sentence within the story.

5. As you write, visualize your reader standing or sitting in front of you. Write to this imaginary reader the same way you would talk to a friend standing there.

6. Write fast and write with intensity. You can revise at leisure, but writing fast and with intensity will draw out your best writing.

7. Always revise. Let your writing cool off, and re-read it before you press "send."

8. Learn to write well. Roy Peter Clark's free online course 50 Writing Tools is the best course that I know of. The URL of Clark's course is: http://www.newsu.org/courses/writers-workbench-50-tools-you-can-use

9. Always verify facts. As the old reporter's saying goes, "If your mother says she loves you, check it out." Get at least two sources for every fact, three if you don't trust the source. Never go on what one source tells you.

10. Use a digital recorder for interviews. I tell people I am recording the interview, press "record" and place the recorder on the table between us. When I transcribe the interview later, I am always amazed at what I hear. Inflections, suggestions and facts that I missed during the interview often leap out at me.

11. If you plan to do a lot of writing as you build a platform or brand, join the Poynter Insitute at http://www.poynter.org/ . Membership is free. They offer inexpensive, practical classes in the craft of writing and just about every related skill.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Embracing social media

Sara Sheridan has written an excellent article in the Guardian about the need for writers to embrace social media http://tinyurl.com/3qrhgst .

Sheridan's social media progression -- 1) building a basic site, 2) contributing to others blogs, 3) creating a facebook page, and then 4) embracing twitter -- seems like a workable path to social media effectiveness for a writer.

This simple four step path avoids the mind-numbing confusion of social media tools and marketing techniques, and focuses the writer on what writers do best--having conversations.

In the article, Sheridan talks about the importance of net neutrality. My geek friends have been warning me about the network neutrality issue for the last couple years, but I never really understood the issue. Sheridan explains the implications for writers, and why everyone in the writing community should be deeply concerned.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Guy Kayasaki landing tab for ENCHANTMENT

OK... here's a brief example of a FB landing tab.
1. Go to Guy Kayasaki site.

2. Click the ENCHANTMENT icon on the left side of the page.
and up pops this landing page. Note the FB LIKE button at the top of the page.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

3 best ways to sell books--mid 2011

I asked someone who has been successfully marketing books for years what three things she would suggest to book authors who wanted to sell more books. She said:

a) Get 100 interesting and diverse Amazon Reviews from friends, colleagues and fans.
b) If you have a nonfiction book, do live or virtual workshops every month continuously
c) Build a real base of (your book title) fans on Twitter and/or Face book.......5,000 would be a great goal

Getting Amazon reviews

Book sales benefit from a large number of honest and diverse Amazon reviews.

The best way to get such reviews is to get current and new friends, associates and colleagues to review the book.

Here's an Amazon page that talks about getting Amazon book reviews. As with all book marketing advice, take it with a grain of salt. What worked last year might not work this year. What works for fiction might not work for nonfiction. What works for one genre of nonfiction might not work for another genre of nonfiction.
Get Your Book Reviewed on Amazon and Boost Your Sales

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Friday, April 1, 2011

Don't Be A Fool. Back up today.

Seth Godin urges us to back-up one day of the year, like today.

Don't be a fool.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

How to find the audience for a book publisher

Q. Tony Levelle

How do I find the audience for a book publisher? Is it the thousands of readers? Is it bookstore owners? Is it the distributor who prints and wholesales the books? Book reviewers? Who?

A. Braden Wright

...you have multiple separate conversation topics happening. How you address a bookstore to convince them that your product is worth carrying on the shelf, assuring them that you have supportive publicity efforts established to move the product, will be different from the message you send to an individual consumer. It's possibly different for a consumer who wants to purchase the book in physical form than it would be from a consumer who now only wants digital versions.

Identifying your business marketing goals and following backwards through the supply chain should help identify the segments you need to reach with separate messages. Of course there's overlap that will happen. Your messages to book distributors are so specific that they'll go into trade publications (if speaking about traditional publicity) but an article that creates awareness in general film-industry consumers may be seen widely by the targeted audience (consumer) and by bookstore owners and distributors.

Braden Wright, "The Messaging Coach" in the Social Media Marketing Boot Camp

A. Seth Godin

'Our customer is the reader, not the bookstores.'

(Where is source on this? I remember Godin answering this in a Q and A about his Domino publishing venture.)

How to get thousands of friends and followers

Q. Emily Bond:
How do you win friends (on Facebook) and influence people (on Twitter)? In the early stages of a social media campaign, how do you creep into the thousands? What's a reasonable time frame?

A. Patrice Yursik:
...to creep into the thousands you have to build buzz. How do you build buzz? By joining popular conversations on Twitter. By writing about hot button, timely topics. By using your contacts. By building relationships with popular bloggers, commenting on other bloggers blogs and offering to share information and posts with them.

My first thousand readers came from being a regular commenter on popular blogs, and when it was my turn, the creators of those blogs were only too happy to talk about me to their readers. So start reaching out!

From MediaBistro Social Media Marketing Boot Camp

The dog is better

Our little white dog is doing better today. He's still kind of listless, but he is improving.

Learning the skills and language of social media

People often become frustrated and overwhelmed when they try to learn social media. I think it helps to put the skill in perspective, chill out, and take it easy.

Learning to use social media is a lot like learning a new language. Say, for example, Spanish.

1. You only learn it by speaking.
2. You are going to make mistakes.
3. It takes about two years of consistent practice to get fluent.

Trying to speak Spanish overnight will only lead to failure and frustration. Trying to learn it by just reading a book will only lead to failure and frustration.
The only way to become fluent is to study, practice, and immerse yourself in the culture for a couple years.

Yes, some people can learn a language in five weeks. I had a friend like that once. He spoke 22 languages fluently, and was learning Swahili for fun. It takes the rest of us a little longer.

Patrice Yursik answers my Big Questions

Patrice Yursik (aka the MediaBistro Twitter Queen) answers my "big question" for the MediaBistro Social Media Marketing Boot Camp.
We all got to ask one Big Question of the advisors, and mine was:

How do you identify the people in your audience? ...how do you 1) identify those people. 2) find out where they hang out online 3) strike up conversations with them. 4) make it easy for them to find you.

Patrice replied:
1 and 2 - The only thing that's truly worked for me is research. So for example, your hoped-for audience would be very interested in film from a critical and intellectual perspective. Start out by identifying the biggest names in your area of interest. For you, those people would likely be film critics so you might want to begin with following Roger Ebert, Peter Travers, Richard Roeper, the guys from Ain't It Cool News...whoever is a known quantity in your space, follow them. If you aren't sure who from a particular website or publication is online, just Google their name, and Twitter to see if they have an account, or a Facebook fan page you can join. RE: Google and Twitter, I find this is more effective than using the actual Twitter search bar. Once you've found your key players, see who they're talking to, and maybe follow them or "like" their fan page. They're most likely having those helpful conversations right now and you might be able to introduce yourself and join in.

3 - In terms of striking up conversation, think of it like you're at a really crowded party and the person you want to communicate with is most likely surrounded by an active group of people already trying to talk to them. (Roger Ebert's Twitter comes most immediately to mind). How do you stand out from the crowd? By either a. saying something interesting, or b. asking that person a question worth answering. Don't be turned off or unfollow them if they don't reply the first time or even the first few times...if you're consistently engaging and interesting, you'll most likely get a response at some point.

4 - to establish yourself as someone who's discussing relevant topics or is a go-to source for **insert topic here** you should make wise use of the Twitter search bar and see what hashtags people are using to discuss what you're interested in discussing. In my particular area of interest, #naturalhair is a popular hashtag - you can also search the hashtag to find people who are worth following and communicating with. It is also worth it to sign up for WeFollow, or any of these:


LINKS from Social Media Class = Weeks 1-3

A collection of useful links from the social media class for weeks 1-3. If I don't put them here, I'm going to forget them. Week 4 in another post... this is way too cluttered...

The audience for a book publisher? Braden Wright
How to get thousands of friends and followers. Emily Bond and Patrice Yursik
GalleyCat. Twitter contacts for Everyone In The Book Business.
Mashable. Find 'Em On Twitter.
Ant's Eye View. Social media firm, used by Cisco.
Stephanie Marx presentation on SlideShare.
7 ways to engage with your customers.
Single best way for Writers to become a brand. Kristen Lamb
Got Social Media Policy? (for nonprofits) Beth's Blog
Social Media Policy. (creating one) The Altimiter
Finding your Audience. Patrice Yursik
Where will you engage your audience? Saul Colt, aka 'the smartest man in the world.'
10 Things Seth Godin Taught Me About Social Media, Neal Schaffer
Definition of Twitter Tags The easy Twitter Directory
Measuring Social Media and It's Impact on Your Brand Cisco
Cross Linking SEO FAQ SEO Marketing World
What are twitter lists and how do you use them?
Five steps to a social media strategy. Amy Sample Ward
When Social Media Backfires. New York Times
Cisco Fatty, or Nothing Is Private
NPR's Social Media Strategy
How to create a social media strategy. David Griner
http://oneforty.com/item/tweet-reach#toolkits One Forty is a respected reviewer of listening tools. This link is a list of 30 different Twitter toolkits used by community managers, and appropriate for SMB's. Start with Janet Aronica's Toolkit. She is smart, motivated, and helpful on Twitter. The trick is to a) define the problem and b) then choose the best tools to solve that problem. Just compiling a bunch of metrics will not provide an in depth analysis.
Janet Aronica's Community Manager Toolkit at One Forty
What fans want from social media. (h/t Alison Ashton)
7 ways to destroy your reputation on twitter (h/t Patrice Yurik)
Mari Smith's Top Ten Social Media Tools Facebook expert Mari Smith's top 10 tools
How to use social media to break into the music business
How to use social media to brand yourself as a writer Roy Peter Clark
Building a FaceBook Fan Page #1 free 10 part video series (start at 5). Requires email and account.
Building a Facebook Fan Page #2 another app for building facebook fan page. Requires email and account
Dirty Little Secrets of Search The JC Penny SEO debacle.
KD Paines checklist for social media monitoring
Marshall Sponder Web Metrics guru
Gary Vaynerchuk web page A social media success story. Good example of a page that sells books.
Gary Vaynerchuk facebook page. Key takeaway here is HAVE A CLEAR OBJECTIVE and then A SIMPLE PAGE DESIGN.
Gary Vaynerchuck twitter.
MediaBistro's All Facebook dot com. Landing tab design (Q: still ok since fb went to iFrame?)
Top 75 apps for Facebook Mari Smith
Networked blogs app
21 ways to increase your Facebook visibility Mari Smith