On the heels of my love affair with the social media book, “Content Rules,” I’ve been looking at that in context. There have been some interesting recent statements regarding the accessibility that the cyber highway gives us all.
Josie Leavitt has written in Publishers Weekly (and remember, we are keeping mind the authors of “Content Rules” theme that everyone is a publisher!) Leavitt was lamenting the volume of e-mails received that are, well, boring and uninformative. Interestingly, she says that if she sees in a subject line something like, “August Newsletter,” she deletes it. One would have to be a diehard fan of the sender/group to open and read it. Point well taken.
She also said this: “The subject line is important. It’s a lot like the set-up to a joke. It should give me a good sense of what the e-mail is about and tell me enough that I want to know more. Specificity and urgency are what’s missing from most subject lines.”
Finally, Leavitt gives this bit of advice: “Take an extra moment or two and think about your subject line is going to look in an inbox. It has to say something real; just being a newsletter is not enough. Is there a coupon with the newsletter, an extra discount, free shipping? Tell me more and I’ll open it.”
It’s rather amazing what a herd-mentality most of us tend to have; we get stuck in things like sending out a “newsletter” announcement. That’s the way it’s been done for a long time. So, think in terms of advertising your book with a subject line such as: “New Title: Dennis Kucinich – Unplugged.”
Ann Handley, co-author of “Content Rules,” puts it like this on her blog: “Blogs, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other online platforms are giving organizations like yours an enormous opportunity to engage directly with your customers. That’s a lucky thing: Because instead of creating awareness about your company or your brand solely the old-school way, you now have an unprecedented and enormous opportunity.”
Something that thrills me, truth be told, is seeing heretofore reluctant friends begin to explore the use of social media. One friend in particular was asking me this week questions about self-publishing an e-book. We had been having this conversation, based on a previous conversation I’d had with a fellow who’d written a book with a narrow focus, yet his e-book version has sold several thousand in a short time. Factoring-in Amazon’s cut, he’s still made a tidy sum (enough to buy some skyrocketing gold!).
My reluctant friend now sees that he could do the same thing; his book is finished, in the editing stage, and has a much broader appeal than the one I barely described above.
Do you see how exciting this is? For me, seeing budding entrepreneurs navigate this soggy economy is just amazing.
My friend is like much of the rest of the country, nervously eyeing the Obamaconomy and reckoning it might be time to go Kit Carson or Grizzly Adams. Yet, he might not have to do that. Here’s why: Coming from a different career background, but possessed of a keen mind and a flair for writing, he has a real opportunity to publish. He can disseminate his message to a wide audience – global, in theory and maybe actual practice – make a handsome living, and do it from home while counting gold ingots. Maybe. Hopefully.
His one concern is marketing, and that’s where social networking comes in. Added to the mix is good old-fashioned networking, where a friend of a friend of a cousin’s chiropractor is Cynthia Ozick’s cleaning lady. And that might get you a book review. And that might result in quite a few downloads of your e-book (Ozick? I know, but dudes –stranger things have happened).
Here are a few practical things to mull over as you nurse your depression because you haven’t started your own book (but want to, of course):
- A reasonable size for a book is only about 30,000 words. Some would disagree with me and say that’s too short (that will “publish-out” at about 140 pages or so, give or take); some will say, actually, you could do 24,000 words and enhance with images/photos, etc. This ain’t such a daunting task now, right? You’re talking about the content of several blogs.
- For a few hundred clams (or real money), you can have your book formatted and uploaded on Amazon.
- Twitter, Facebook and a few other social media sites are available to you to work. Get yourself out there. Talk to people. Engage. Stretch yourself.
These three small points can add-up to a big deal: You can actually make money from your writing perspiration, but now you don’t have to cough-up tens of thousands of dollars for old-fashioned, traditional publishing avenues.
And remember, writing success stories are happening every day. Kathryn Stockett’s now-famous account of being turned down three-score times with her novel is the stuff of legend. That novel, “The Help,” is all the rage in theatres. So much so, that when a column writer like me (in the mold of Walter Matthau) asks Stockett’s publicist for an interview opportunity, he hears, “Why, thanks, but Kathryn is so busy with movie stuff and promotion, she doesn’t have time!”
That kind of story thrills me, it really does. And it can happen for you. You just have to roll up your sleeves, dust off the old Royal (or MacBook Air; sweet), and turn out that bestseller. Then, if you keep in mind some basic marketing tips from folks like Josie Leavitt and Ann Handley, the rest is a walk in the park.
On the way to your book signing at the Barnes & Noble at Union Square, treat yourself to dinner at Delmonico’s. You’ll deserve it.