Posts tagged "writing"

Starting a Business – It’s Kind of Like Writing a Book

February 22nd, 2017 Posted by Business is ART, Business Plan 0 thoughts on “Starting a Business – It’s Kind of Like Writing a Book”
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Drawing a blank

Depending on what survey you follow, 80-90% of Americans say they’d like to write a book someday. That’s not to say they will. Most won’t even start one. Why?

Because writing a book is hard. Trust me, I’ve done it. It takes considerable time and commitment and there’s no guarantee for success should you finish it.

(see Urbana Citizen Article Growing ‘Business is ART’ Brand)

In many ways, it’s not so different from starting a business (something I’m also familiar with). Much like book writing, many people want to start their own business – over half of the US population, in fact. And just like with book writing, most of those people won’t try.

“Where do I even begin?” they think.

Whether you’re starting a business or writing a book, it starts with the same thing:

An Idea

Many people simply like the idea of creating something. The trouble is, they don’t have a viable idea to work off of. You can’t create a book or a business without some sort of concept or starting point.

If you want to write a story, this idea could be a single scene that you can build off of. Did you know that James Cameron created the Terminator franchise after having a nightmare of a metal skull surrounded by fire?

For a business, it could start with simply fulfilling a need in your own life. Airbnb was started because the founder was struggling to pay his housing bills, so he began renting out part of his home.

Both of these simple ideas went on to make billions of dollars.

Of course, this is just step one. Once you have an idea, you can start planning things out.

The Outline

Even if a would-be writer gets around to writing a book, there’s a good chance they won’t finish. They get a few pages in. Maybe a few chapters. And then they get stuck. They’re lost, with no visible way of continuing their story.

Or they simply lose their passion. And then, everything falls apart.

The same is true for people who start a business. They have their idea, they get a name, they get things rolling, and then it all unravels. There’s a key element missing here.

A Plan

Whether you’re starting a business or writing a book, you need a plan. Book writers will create an outline. They may even map out key characters and write backstories for them. This gives you a plan to follow and helps you realize parts that don’t work in your initial idea.

A business plan does the same thing. It turns your initial spark of inspiration into a workable process. It gives you an end goal to work towards.

Some writers may succeed without an outline. And some businesses might squeeze by without a formal plan. But the majority don’t. Increase your chances of success. Have a plan.

Revisions. Revisions. Revisions.

Once you’ve finished writing your book, you might feel like the battle is over. You’re wrong. Now begins the revision process. It’s time to comb through and delete as much as you can. Any part of the story that’s not working, any word that’s unnecessary, any typo that you’ve made, all of it needs to go.

If it’s not necessary in the grand picture, cut it out.

The same goes for your business. You may have big dreams and grand plans for your business. But to get things going, you’ll want to trim that down to the most basic, workable form. A minimum viable product, as it’s called.

This is your starting point.

The Launch

For both books and businesses, the launch is a big deal. You want as much momentum as possible. You need to make noise. After all, there’s a lot of competition out there. Finding your audience won’t be easy.

Work your connections. Promote yourself. Reach out to whoever will listen. Network. And don’t stop.

Now, this is the part where the book and the business get different. If you’ve put a book out there, it’s set in stone. You can’t revise and tweak and adjust as you learn from the market around you. For your business, however, the revisions continue.

You’re on a path of constant improvement.

Whether you’re just in the idea stage or your business is already out there and operating, I’d love to help you on your path. From simple business tips for success to full strategic planning, this website and my book Business is ART has the tools you need.

Learn more here.

9 (Real) Tips for Writing a Book – Part 5

July 19th, 2016 Posted by Business is ART 0 thoughts on “9 (Real) Tips for Writing a Book – Part 5”

Business is ARTWriting a Book – Each week I identify a different theme and provide you with content, some original and some from external sources, around that theme in two separate posts.

The first post represents my thoughts, experience, advice or questions on whatever the weekly theme is. Usually…later in the week, a second post will expand on the theme and/or summarize and provide links to several articles and videos from other sources, providing additional information on the weekly theme. 

That generally wraps up the particular theme for the week. This theme has been a little different, however. This is the 5th and final post in a series on writing a book.

In Part 4 of “9 (Real) Tips for Writing a Book” we discussed self- publishing. In Part 5 we will discuss hybrid-publishing.

What is Hybrid Publishing?

As the name might suggest, hybrid publishing is a cross between traditional and self-publishing. Like self-publishing, anyone can use a hybrid approach and, like traditional publishing, some hybrid publishers are very selective – meaning that just because you have a book and can afford to pay for the service doesn’t mean the publisher will accept your work.

Which brings us to a very important point to remember – hybrid publishing is a service for which you pay. In many cases, a hybrid publisher’s business model is dependent upon the fees they charge for the service to get your book published and distributed, as opposed to the book sales themselves.

This can work both in your favor and against you. In your favor is that you keep a larger percentage of royalties than you might in traditional publishing. Working against you is that some hybrid publishers might not be as motivated to promote your book. So be very selective yourself.

Services of a Hybrid Publisher

The services that a hybrid publisher provides can vary, but may include the following:

  • Content editing
  • Syntax editing
  • Reference verification and credits (if you quote or use other sources)
  • Internal design and layout
  • Cover art and design
  • Distribution
  • Sales

Compare your needs with the services provided before making a decision on which hybrid publisher to use.

Advantages of Hybrid Publishing

There are some distinct advantages to hybrid publishing. A major one for me was that I didn’t have to worry about all of the stuff I didn’t want to worry about. I got everything I needed in 1 place.

Other advantages include:

  • For some would-be readers, there is still a stigma with self-published works. This is decreasing by leaps and bounds but is still out there (unfairly so). Having the name of a publisher, even if it is a hybrid, and especially if it is a very selective one like mine, Figure.1 Publishing, can add value to your work – at least in the eyes of the would-be reader.
  • The professional look of the finished product is undeniable. I can’t help but smile whenever I hand someone a copy of my book and, before they even open the cover, they look at it and say “Oh, wow!”

Your Book is Business

Don’t forget that whatever type of book you are writing, it’s production and subsequent sale is business and should be treated as such. To better strategize and plan your business, please grab a copy of Business is ART and learn how to Articulate, Revise and Track your own work of art.

9 (Real) Tips for Writing a Book – Part 4

July 11th, 2016 Posted by Business is ART 0 thoughts on “9 (Real) Tips for Writing a Book – Part 4”

Business is ARTWriting a Book – Each week I identify a different theme and provide you with content, some original and some from external sources, around that theme in two separate posts.

The first post represents my thoughts, experience, advice or questions on whatever the weekly theme is. Usually…later in the week, a second post will expand on the theme and/or summarize and provide links to several articles and videos from other sources, providing additional information on the weekly theme. 

That generally wraps up the particular theme for the week. This theme has been a little different, however. This is the 4th post in a series on writing a book…and there is still more to come.

In Part 3 of “9 (Real) Tips for Writing a Book” we discussed traditional publishing. In Part 4, we will discuss self-publishing.

Self-Publishing

The good thing about self-publishing is that you are in total and complete control. The bad thing about self-publishing is that you are in total and complete control.

Self-publishing can be comparatively inexpensive, especially if you have the right network of friends and professionals that can provide guidance, assistance and services to you.

Join a Group

If you don’t have this kind of network, find one. Get involved. There is probably an authors’ group/club in your area. Contact it and start participating.

As with entering in to any networking group, go in with a mentality of giving not just taking. Everyone has something to give. In this case, it may be your time helping proofread the work of someone else. No one likes the group sponge, always soaking up the good stuff and never giving anything back. Don’t be the group sponge.

If you aren’t careful, the bill can begin to run fairly high when you have to hire everything out. A network of authors can help you navigate the costs much better than you can on your own. Aside from simply writing the book, other things you will need to consider that may cost you money include (but are not limited to):

  • Editing for, syntax, flow and content
  • Artwork and design for both the cover and the internal layout
  • Properly crediting other/referenced work (critical)
  • Software for producing everything from cover to illustrations to text
  • A self-publishing service provider
  • Where and how you will market and promote your book
  • Don’t forget the commerce end of things! How will you collect payments in exchange for your book – this includes how your reader will receive their purchased copy

Perhaps most importantly, a group or club can help you stay focused and motivated. It can be very easy to just quit. You need support. Your group can give it.

Are You an Ameri-CAN or an Ameri-CAN’T?

I self-published a fictional novel a few years ago. It was written as a form of self-therapy following the suicide death of a friend. I really wrote it for me…not an audience. But I learned a little something from it. In general, I’m not a big do-it-yourselfer. If I can afford to pay someone to paint the house, I’m going to hire someone to paint the house.

The same is true in book publishing. It requires someone who is far more patient and who pays far more attention to detail than I care to. If you subscribe to the theory of “close enough”, self-publishing may not to be the right path for you.

But if you have no other choice, saddle-up and get ready for the ride.

Follow Authors Who Do This

A couple of friends of mine are authors who make a living self-publishing. Check out their websites for more tips, information and some good books.

Next

In Part 5, we will discuss the hybrid model.

9 (Real) Tips for Writing a Book – Part 3

July 7th, 2016 Posted by Business is ART 0 thoughts on “9 (Real) Tips for Writing a Book – Part 3”

Business is ARTWriting a Book – Each week I identify a different theme and provide you with content, some original and some from external sources, around that theme in two separate posts.

The first post represents my thoughts, experience, advice or questions on whatever the weekly theme is. Usually…later in the week, a second post will expand on the theme and/or summarize and provide links to several articles and videos from other sources, providing additional information on the weekly theme. And that generally wraps up the particular theme for the week. This theme has been a little different, however.

This is the 3rd post in a series on writing a book…with still more to come.

In Parts 1 and 2 of “9 (Real) Tips for Writing a Book” I mentioned determining your route for publishing the book and promised to expand on the topic. Promise (partially) delivered! I hope you find this useful.

Don’t Wait To Finish the Manuscript

If you wait until the manuscript is finished before you start your journey down the path of determining a publishing route, you will have lost valuable time, perhaps incurred increased costs, and most likely wasted at least some effort.

Start the journey early. You can begin before a single word is written, and you can be knee-deep in it once you have a synopsis, an outline, and 2 full chapters written. This is more than enough to get well on your way to determining your route.

3 Primary Options

There are 3 primary publishing options. They are:

  • Traditional publishing
  • Self-publishing
  • Hybrid publishing

Let’s explore each of these.

Traditional Publishing

With traditional publishing, the author typically is paid an advance up-front. When the author’s “cut” from book sales exceeds advance, the author is paid royalties. If that threshold is not met, the author may have to pay back some of the advance.

The author excerpts very little control in the process, and receives a very small percentage of proceeds from sales, but effectively only has to worry about actually writing and promoting the book. The publisher takes care of everything else, including a degree of promotion.

The good news for budding authors is that with increasingly simpler technology available to us, it is easier than ever to write a book. The bad (perhaps, perhaps not) news is that it is more difficult than ever to land a publishing deal with a major publisher. Many of the big household names won’t accept manuscripts from unknown, unrepresented authors. They may work exclusively with agents in their approved networks or they may simply solicit authors rather than have authors solicit them.

If you are someone who has built a very massive following, are famous (or infamous), or have already written a very well received book, you have a great shot at being picked up by a traditional publisher. But if you are a first time or unknown author, in other words, like most people, you’re pretty much screwed.

Some people feel that landing a traditional publisher adds the perception of legitimacy to book (and author). If you are bent on looking for a traditional publisher, but this is your first book or you are unknown, spend some time in bookstores and online. Look for boutique or niche publishers that fit your genre, then target them.

Just for fun you might try submitting to the big name publishers if they’ll accept proposals. Hey, it’s fun to play the lottery, right? So what the heck? Go for it. Just don’t hang your future on it.

A Recommended Process to Follow

Follow this process:

  • Make a “hit” list of publishers you want to submit proposals to
  • Limit the list (I arbitrarily landed on 20 for a trade book, but you might consider 100 or more for fiction and other)
  • Research how, when, in what format they accept submissions (most post their guidelines online)
  • Determine which accepts only from a literary agent
  • Determine if you want to seek one (I didn’t)
  • If you do, be very clear about which publishers you will contact directly yourself, just so there is no confusion or doubling up
  • Write a great cover letter and synopsis (lots of great advice is available on how to do this…use it)
  • If necessary, write a great proposal…look around and ask for samples from others who have had some success with theirs
  • Start sending and keep a list of who you sent to when
  • For boutique publishers you might follow-up with a personal phone call
  • Be patient – some tell you upfront you shouldn’t expect to hear from them for many months

To be continued….

We will talk about the other routes in the next post. Meanwhile, please check out my book Business is ART on Amazon. While it is written specifically for business, your book and you as its author are in fact a small business. I think you will find it very helpful.

9 More (Real) Tips for Writing a Book – Part 2

July 5th, 2016 Posted by Business is ART 0 thoughts on “9 More (Real) Tips for Writing a Book – Part 2”

Business is ARTWriting a Book – Each week I identify a different theme and provide you with content, some original and some from external sources, around that theme in two separate posts.

The first post represents my thoughts, experience, advice or questions on whatever the weekly theme is. Usually…later in the week, a second post will expand on the theme and/or summarize and provide links to several articles and videos from other sources, providing additional information on the weekly theme. But I took a little detour last week, which you can read about in my personal blog entitled #Significance (click here).

Prepare for Distractions

There are 2 ways to look at this, but each starts with the following premise: distractions will come. When they do, your stance is either, “Don’t care. I WILL stick to my schedule come hell or high water,” or “I just can’t possibly fit everything in, so writing has to take a back seat.”

As a general rule of thumb, I try very hard to take the first stance because otherwise it is too easy to ALWAYS be distracted and never get any writing done. But last week I threw my hands up in the air and said, “Writing will have to wait” in terms of my blog. I also had to cancel last week’s Business Is ART podcast, which was very unfortunate because my guest was going to be my publisher. But between an unexpected 2-day jury duty that ran from 8am to 6pm (the subject of #Significance) and rehearsal for a musical I wrote, am producing and am appearing in, as well as a TV appearance to promote the show, there just was no left-over time or energy to get it all done.

Sometimes, you have to give up and give in…just don’t let it be permanent or frequent.

Determine Your Publishing Route

I mentioned this in Part 1 of this post and said I’d provide more in the next. I lied. It’s too long much to include in this post, as it turns out. So, I will provide a 3rd post that will be exclusive to this topic. But to repeat you will need to determine if traditional publishing, self-publishing or a hybrid-publishing model is best for you to pursue. More to come on that!

Don’t Expect Perfection

It’s OK to aim high and aim for perfection…so long as you know it is not achievable. You can drive yourself nuts writing, re-writing and re-writing again while striving for perfection. Remember, your review team and edit team are there to help. The objective is NOT to hand them a perfect manuscript. The objective is to hand them a manuscript they can work with, and that they can help you to improve.

Don’t Blabber On for the Sake of Filling the Page

Trap – “I must fill the next 3 pages in order to meet my word/page count objective.”

Better – If you’ve said it, you’ve said it. Ever talk to someone that made the point 2 minutes ago but are still going? Don’t be that person.

Best – Add a little color to it. Describe something in a little more detail if you can make it interesting. Set the emotional tone. Don’t JUST stick to the facts. Make it interesting. But don’t describe the numerical code of the particular shade of blue when simply saying “royal blue” will suffice.

People Love a Story

Some of the best advice I received from one of my mentors was to tell a story. In my case, I was writing a business trade book, which can be exceptionally boring. He advised telling a story along the way. I actually tell many stories in Business is ART but there is one central story that is carried throughout the entire book. This helps to make it not just informative (snore) but hopefully also entertaining, even humorous (applause). My goal is for anyone to be able topic it up and enjoy it even if they couldn’t give a darn about strategic and business planning.

Don’t Go Crazy Seeking Tips

Plug “how to write a book” in your search engine and you get more results than you could possibly read. Look at 2 or 3, preferably written by people that have done it and maybe even more ideally by people who have done it in your genre. Learn from their experience, apply it to your plan, and then move on. Don’t keep reading more because after awhile, it all starts to sound the same.

Be Wary

Be wary of the many, many “experts” out there that just want to sell you something, sharing some high level tips in exchange for getting you to buy their “How to Write a Book” book. Hey, if you find my blogging interesting and want to buy my book Business is ART I would love for you to. But Business is ART isn’t about writing a book and neither are my business consulting services.

Be wary of what the individual is really trying to sell you by offering a little “free” advice that isn’t very informative unless you are willing to shell out a few bucks for the real juice.

Expect Critics

There are large portions of people out there who will say your book is crap. They learned nothing. They could do a better job than you did. Etc., etc., etc. But here is the thing. They didn’t. You did! Let me say again…YOU DID!!!

I looked at writing Business is ART this way – if it helped just one person then mission accomplished!

Don’t Be Afraid to Call Yourself An Author

You don’t have to sell a single book to call yourself an author. You have to WRITE one. I kind of think you have to make it available to others as well. But you are an author. Get used to saying that. It was VERY difficult for me to start saying that and even more so to describe myself on my various social media profiles and on my website. But it’s the fact. I am an author and so too will you be. Embrace it. Don’t say it with an embarrassed tone. And don’t let the critics’ follow-up question “how many books have you sold?” bother you. Just say, “Enough.”

You Aren’t One and Done

Get started on your next book as soon as possible. I’ll admit to you I have not gotten beyond the idea and rough outline stage for my next one. But, at least in my mind I have a valid reason. In my case, following the book are two additional products: online training videos and a software to automate the planning processes and templates described in the book. So in a real sense, I am continuing to build on the book. As soon as those products launch, believe me I am off to the races on the next one.

Plan Canvas is a community and a powerful software for improving your odds of business success and personal fulfillment.

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