Self-Publishing Reality Check: You're No Guy

Am I the only one who finds Guy Kawasaki’s success with APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur—How to Publish a Book a little depressing?

Guy KawasakiBefore I get into this too deeply, I should probably do a little disclaiming. He seems like a really nice guy. I talked to him once at the height of the Author Solutions Jared Silverstone scandal. And, for what you can tell about a person in a 5-minute phone conversation, he seemed nice. Smart and nice.

But that’s just it. I know a lot of smart and nice self-publishing authors who will never have even one iota the success Kawasaki’s had. That reality should be a bit deflating for you people out there planning to self-publish. I mean, it’s not his success per se that’s deflating. It’s the comparison. The knowing that you will almost certainly never see anything even remotely like it.

When Kawasaki’s book was released on January 7, 2013—and for a couple of weeks thereafter—the internet went APEshit. (That joke’s been made already, hasn’t it?) My Google Alert for “self-publishing” was all Kawasaki, all the time*. Review links were popping up everywhere on my LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook timelines and in my Google Reader feed. Hell, even as far back as October 2012, the man had people lining up to fill out a form just for a chance to be one of APE‘s beta readers.

By the way, he had such a large pool of beta readers to choose from that he was able to treat his solicitation for volunteers like a job posting:

“A background in writing and publishing is helpful. Looking for any kind of comments such as copyedits, content, facts, style, etc. OCD is highly desirable.”

He had so many volunteers that he was able to turn people away.

In contrast, the self-publishers I know are sometimes reduced to begging for beta readers, and the ones they get typically have little to no real experience in copyediting or fact checking. They’re usually moms and friends and writing group buddies. Those beta readers are appreciated; don’t get me wrong. But there’s no denying the potential discrepancy in skill sets.


APE wasn’t the first project for which Kawasaki had asked for beta readers. That was What the Plus! At the time, he had asked 1,100,000 of his “closest friends on Google+” to volunteer, and 241 people signed on in just 24 hours. He reported after the fact:

“I sent the Word file manuscript to all of them. Approximately 100 returned the file with comments within a week. Not counting duplicates, this is what they found: 147 grammatical and spelling mistakes, 27 factual errors.”

Kawasaki did send the book on to a copyeditor after that, but think for a moment how much valuable feedback he got (for free!) and how quickly he got it back. If that’s not impressive enough for you, chew on this: Kawasaki figured he’d gained somewhere between 100 and 240 evangelists for What the Plus! in the process.

And here we are weeks after the release of APE. People are still writing about Kawasaki and the book. Diane Brady introduced him this way yesterday on Bloomberg Businessweek:

“Every wannabe pundit knows the drill: Do something cool, preferably in Silicon Valley or against all odds; talk and write about what you learned everywhere you can; build a following; then get a book deal. That’s what Guy Kawasaki did, converting his four-year stint as Apple (AAPL)’s chief evangelist into a 1989 book on guerrilla marketing called The Macintosh Way. Kawasaki has since produced 11 more books and established himself as a marketing guru and venture capitalist. With 1.2 million Twitter followers and a popular blog, he’s a brand.”

And I think that sums it up, doesn’t it? Guy is his own brand—and he has been for a couple of decades now.

I’m not saying the man didn’t work hard to get there. I’m not saying success on that scale can’t happen to anyone ever again. And I’m not saying that self-publishing is a worthless endeavor for non-celebrities.

I’m just saying…you’re no Guy.

 

*Ten arbitrary points to the first person who can tell me the second name on the book without looking.

Photo credit: Kawasaki

7 Common Questions About ISBNs

She Self-PublishesSo, yeah. Over on SheWriters.com I do a little column on self-publishing twice a month. My most recent post answers some questions about ISBNs, those 13-digit numbers next to the barcode on all those books you read. Questions like…

  • What is an ISBN?
  • What’s the deal with 10- and 13-digit ISBNs?
  • Do I need an ISBN?
  • How can I get an ISBN assigned to my book?
  • Are barcodes and ISBNs the same thing?
  • Do all formats of my book need unique ISBNs?
  • Do revisions need new ISBNs?

I know the community is for women, but the content is available to anyone. So stop by and take a look, particularly if you just can’t go on without getting those questions answered. Read the article.

Wealthy Web Writer Review & Giveaway

Wealthy Web Writer ReviewThe Wealthy Web Writer is a site that provides a “comprehensive resource and community for anyone seeking to become or already working as a web copywriter.”

It’s been around since 2010, and in that time the minds behind the site have compiled a pretty extensive list of how-to videos, articles, and job leads for freelance web writers.

Wealthy Web Writer is associated with American Writers and Artists Inc. (AWAI), a company you may have heard of in conjunction with past International Freelancers Day events.

Free Resources

So we’re clear: the Wealthy Web Writer is a premium content site, meaning they make money from monthly subscriptions. However, they do offer some free resources and advice on the blog.  A sampling of recent topics they’ve covered include:

  • Marketing Basics: Closing the Sale & Asking for More
  • Marketing Basics: Generating Leads & Following Up
  • How to Make Money as a Travel Blogger
  • 15 Link-Building Strategies that Google Will Love

Paid Resources

This is what it’s really all about. Is the site worth the current $27 per month price of admission? That, of course, depends on your current skill level and how much you can absorb in an independent, online environment.

While there are more resources available on the site like forums and a web copywriting glossary, here’s a rundown of a few key things you have access to with a paid membership:

Improve Your Skills 

In this section, you can browse content in specific areas related to specific web writing skills. You can learn more about writing for social media, B2B copywriting, writing autoresponders, and how SEO strategies are constantly evolving in the web writing business.

Build Your Business

This section covers a lot of newbie questions regarding fee structures, contracts, basic bookkeeping and organization. It also includes advice on marketing yourself as a web writer and landing those first couple of clients.

Tech Corner

With article titles like “WordPress Maintenance 101” and “Using Google Webmaster Tools” the topics in Tech Corner will hit home for a lot of freelance writers who like a little introduction before they dive head first into a new application or platform.

Wealthy Web Writer ScreenshotTraining Center

While you can browse upcoming and previously recorded webinars and teleconferences in the Training Center, I think the 3-Minute Guru videos and Roadmap Tutorials are the most promising features here.

The 3-Minute Guru videos walk you through practical instructions on things like using Google Alerts and learning how to prevent Google from indexing your site until you’re ready for search traffic.

Roadmap Tutorials walk you through more complex topics in a series of modules on topics like:

  • Build Your Freelance Website with WordPress
  • 12-Step Roadman to Success
  • Become a Web Writer
  • WordPress Tutorials

Wealthy Web Writer even offers to generate content for its Roadmap Tutorials based on user feedback. So if there’s something specific you want to learn about, you tell them and they promise to build a tutorial or find someone who can.

Jobs

Last but not least, the Wealthy Web Writer does provide some unique freelance job leads for users. On top of that, they pay web writers too. So, if you have a content idea, you can submit it for possible publication on their site. If selected, they’ll pay you for your trouble.

Summary

I know that those of us who have been freelancing for years could still stand to learn a thing or two about running the business, but I really see this site being more beneficial for newbie freelance writers.

Also, a word to the wise: content focuses on running the business and writing specifically for the web, not on learning to write in general. So if you don’t already excel at writing, it’s probably a little premature to sign up.

Finally,  while the content seems well-rounded overall, I think from a user’s perspective the content in Tech Corner could stand to be beefed up a little.

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

[box]I was given a three-month subscription (and a three-month subscription to give away ) to Wealthy Web Writer for the purpose of evaluating the site and publishing an honest review. This post contains affiliate links.[/box]

13 Ways to Boost Your Freelance Career (Without the Internet)

By Terri Huggins

My name is Terri and I have a problem. I think most Americans can relate to it. (I can’t be the only crazy one.) I am addicted to the Internet. I always knew my excessive Internet use was a problem but I didn’t know how big an issue it was until October 2012. I, amongst thousands of other Central Jersey residents, found myself the main target of Superstorm Sandy. I was one of the fortunate people, though. I am alive, my home was intact, and we never lost power. Yet, I still found myself suffering when it came to work.

freelance writing careerObviously, never losing electricity wasn’t a problem. The problem was that everyone else did. That meant I wasn’t able to email editors, follow up on pitches, or schedule interviews and expect a response. When everyone lost all connectivity, I lost all connectivity. That loss made me feel like a fish out of water. (Of course, it wasn’t as extreme as those who actually lost electricity.) It turns out I didn’t know how to function without sending emails with instant gratification, calling people and sending tweets for sources. As a result, my productivity and business really began to suffer. It was then that I learned I rely on the Internet way too much.

Sure, having access to Gmail, HARO, and WordPress have boosted business and helped journalists stay organized, connected and on top of breaking news. However, when you lack the ability to operate without these tools your business may be in total jeopardy. It was a life lesson I learned the hard way. To spare others from learning that lesson the way I did, I’ve come up with a list of 13 Internet free tasks that can boost your freelance career.

1. Do some cold calling

Most people lost phone service during the storm. Truth be told, I got a lot of busy signals, error messages, and voice mail prompts during my cold call sessions. However, I did strike gold every once in a while. But when cold calling proved to be pointless, I decided to make a list of people I planned on contacting once business went back to normal. When it was time to return to my normal routine, having the list on hand made my work schedule easier and increased my productivity.

2. Assess your client list

It’s easy to take on clients blindly out of excitement. After all, it’s extra work and pays the bills. But they don’t always fulfill your mission or may not be worth the time. Revise, your list of clients and analyze which ones aren’t as profitable. Are you satisfied with your relationship with them? Do you have too many clients to handle right now? Do they assist in reaching a bigger goal? Can you afford to cut some loose? Do you need more clients? Now is the perfect time to reevaluate.

During the loss of connection, I found that many of the clients I took on don’t assist in fulfilling my reason for being a writer. By the time, everything was restored I was able to begin eliminating those who no longer fit my needs and work towards getting clients that do.

3. Revise your marketing strategy

It is always wise to have a marketing strategy. Otherwise, you will be moving blindly toward your goal. If you don’t have a strategy, take out a pad and scribble down your plan of attack. Should you already have a marketing strategy, decide whether or not it’s helping you reach your goal. Do you practice in-person networking? Are you writing guest posts? Do you send out email campaigns? Are they working? It’s normal for marketing strategies to not fit as businesses they grow. Take the time to analyze and see what needs to be amended.

4. Edit your resume and bio

The rumors are true. Even as a freelance writer, you need a resume. Occasionally, you still might run into the potential client who decides a resume, bio, and portfolio are necessary before hiring you. Make sure they paint an accurate picture of you. Update your resume to reflect your best and most recent gigs. Make sure your bio is still relevant. I had been putting of the update of my resume for a long time. Sandy provided me with the nudge I needed to get it done.

5. Write

As freelance writers, this one should be a given. But the truth is finding uninterrupted time in which you can draft that blog post, start that article, or complete that copywriting assignment is difficult. There’s always the distraction of an open email box, Twitter alerts, Facebook messages, and phone calls. Take the time to unplug and actually do what you’re paid to do for a living.

With no Internet and calls to follow up on, I was able to write more than I ever had in a long time. It was really rewarding being able to complete my blog posts for the month in one day!

6. Meet the neighbors

Unfortunately, constant access to Internet has made it unnecessary for people to actually see each other face to face. However, it’s good for business. Getting out of the home office for a while, mingling with others, and networking with neighborhood businesses is revitalizing.

7. Set and evaluate your goals

As time goes on, goals change. Unfortunately, we never take the time to stop and realize it. Think about goals you’ve already made. Are they still in progress? Have you reached them? Are the goals still relevant to your career path? Once you set and evaluate goals, you will be able to be more efficient as a freelance writer.

8. Assess your budget

I hate numbers. It was one of the reasons why I went into journalism. Journalism or not, numbers are important. It can’t be avoided for long. Tracking expenses, and income is necessary for running any business. Once you assess your budget you can determine if you need more income, slash your budget, or search for new clients.

9. Create templates

As great as personalized, unique documents are, they take a lot of time. They aren’t suggested for everything, but it can be very beneficial to have templates. If you happen to use the same format for email follow-ups, or some pitches, create a basic template for it to save some time.

10. Back up files

Technology is great, but sometimes we have to accept that it will fail. If you don’t have several copies of documents you are out of luck. Dedicate an afternoon to backing up all your documents. You’ll be happy you did should your computer crash.

11. Revisit your reading lists

Remember, all those magazine clippings, printed blogs, and downloaded e-books you saved? If you are anything like me, they are still sitting in your “rainy day” pile untouched. It’s about time you actually go through the pile. You may come across new ideas to pitch, potential sources, and inspiration for your blog post. Sandy gave me the opportunity to slash my “rainy day” reading file in half. I learned so much.

12. Organize your source list

There is nothing worse than scrambling to find sources for a story at the last minute. If you’ve been in the business for a while there is probably a collection of sources in disarray. Save yourself the time and stress by organizing your sources. When you need a source at a moments notice you’ll know exactly what to do.

13. Go to the library

The library is a foreign land to many people. After all, who needs the library when you’ve got Google, e-books, and I-tunes? The problem is many people forgot how to research without the use of Google. A visit to the library can help you relearn the basics of thorough research.

[box border=”full”]Terri HugginsTerri Huggins is a Freelance Writer/Journalist in NJ who specializes in bridal, beauty, relationships, education and business topics. She also writes marketing paraphernalia such as brochures, press releases, blogs and newsletters for local businesses. By night, Terri is a arts enthusiast, prima ballerina, education activist, and dedicated volunteer. Connect with Terri on Twitter: TERRIficWords or stop by her blog, www.terrificwords.wordpress.com. Professional Website: http://www.writingbyterri.com/%5B/box%5D

 

Image credit: svilen001