Tag Archive for Messaging

5 Lessons Learned Working the BEA Info Booth

Learning on the job

Learning on the job

Message from Siri: 10 percent power remaining. A hunt begins throughout New York’s enormous Javits Convention Center. Nothing, nothing, and then finally, an outlet behind an unmanned information booth. I plug in, sit and wait, not realizing that from the other side, it appears I am the guy with the answers. I am no such thing. I am at BookExpo America as an author and blogger.

In 30 minutes, I was approached by some 50 BEA visitors looking for everything from bathrooms to an evening book auction. At first, I demurred. “Sorry, just charging.” Some smiled, some looked disappointed. So I switched it up. “I’m just charging my phone, but I’ve been here a few times. What are you looking for?” The difference was significant. Some takeaways:

1 – Even impatient New Yorkers appreciate a smile, candor and forthrightness. Authors meeting readers for the first time should not overlook the importance of open body language, getting to the point quickly, and, as the conversation goes on, finding common interests.

2 –Some people are less comfortable beginning any kind of dialogue with a stranger. Make them feel welcome by speaking first. “Bet you’re looking for the art auction,” I said when two women approached “my” booth, (and after I’d figured out where the thing was being held). They not only appreciated the directions, they also listened to a quick pitch about my novel and took a bookmark that describes the plot and lists my website.

3 – You’re not going to win over everyone. One guy had missed his flight and arrived late. Anyone could tell at a glance he was tense, out of patience, and probably hungry. The new word is hangry. He wanted info I didn’t have. I told him I was just charging. His eyes said I should have found somewhere else to power up. If I was manning the information booth, I should have answers.

4 – Some people are just the opposite, and it’s okay to have a little fun. “Where is the art auction?” another woman asked. “Where do you think it is?” I answered. A light came on. “You don’t work here,” she said. “Correct, I’m just charging up. But I’ve heard the auction is up that escalator and to the right.” Bottom line: stiff and formal is not memorable. Let your personality show.

5 – People meeting you for the first time will make a judgment in about 10 seconds. Make sure you’re approachable and try to be helpful. You’ll notice a huge difference when you look at things from their point of view. Somehow you become more interesting, which opens a door to discuss other topics. Which, by the way, helps the time pass much more agreeably while your phone is coming back to life.

I enjoyed my brief time as a BEA info man. Has anything similar ever happened to you?

Follow Steve’s “Back Story” blog by clicking here.

Outgoing Writing Students Share Tips for Success

One of the challenges of teaching writing classes to college kids is that they all come in with different levels of interest and experience.

Here are three things I do at American University to help smooth the way.AU outside

1 – Before the semester begins, I send out a short survey. I ask my incoming students how much they’ve written outside the classroom, why they’re taking the class (no penalty if it’s simply to fulfill a requirement), and their toughest writing challenges. I find the kids appreciate being asked and are happy to respond.

2 – On opening night, I pitch like a used car salesman. I know most will not go on to writing or communications careers. I tell them to think of their time with me as cross training for whatever field they eventually choose. I point to studies that show employers place high value in employees who are clear and concise. I warn they will hear a lot from me about precision and clarity.

3 – On finals night, I offer a bonus. Sharing a tip for success with my next students earns two free points. Most remember they were afforded this opportunity thanks to the previous class, and include some lesson learned. I’m always surprised by one or two comments on the tip sheet, which you can find (unedited) here on the class blog.

Follow Steve’s “Back Story” blog by clicking here. 

A New Voice for the Messaging Choir that’s Free and Easy

Fun, free app

If you can tweet it in 140 characters, you can say it on camera in 15 seconds.

That’s the concept behind Viddy (www.viddy.com), a social media app out of Venice, CA billed as a “life-streaming movie studio and real-time film festival – on the go.”

That’s a bit much, but the fact is that Viddy is fun, intuitive, and a nice addition to any self-publisher’s messaging arsenal. I’ve been using it for about a month and pumped out several mini-videos from BookExpo America in NY. Here’s my Viddy page.

Some things I like:

–       It forces you to quickly get to the point;

–       Posting to Facebook and Twitter is simple;

–       You can add a music and special effects;

–       You can use a tool like Hootsuite to re-tweet viddy tweets;

–       26 million users can’t be wrong.

Mashable’s “5 Ways Brands Can Shine on Viddy” suggests: offering a behind-the-scenes look; sharing promo codes and sales; hosting a contest; creating custom filters; and creating premium partnerships.

Have you had success with Viddy or a similar app? How about using with videos in general? Has it worked? Why or why not?

Looking Back on Year One

Modern message in a bottle.

Steve deconstructs a year in the trenches in this article for a popular self-publishing site.  “As you move from creative writing to creative marketing,” he writes, “you want coverage in traditional and new media, and that takes persistent pitching, a thick skin, and a willingness to recast words you may have already spent years putting in perfect order.”

Read the rest here.


The Messaging Arsenal – Tips 6-10

We’ve agreed that success for the self-published author begins with a well-written, marketable product, innovative use of new media tools, and the discipline to plan and stick with a rigorous game plan. Here are more tips to separate you from the competition.  (Also check out previous post).

6 – Get Social. Create Facebook and YouTube pages, and tweet whenever you add new content, which should be about once a week. Three tips: make your content different on each site, cross-link all new posts, and think of ways to solicit user-generated content. Which takes me to number 7.

7 – Market overseas. Okay, that might be a stretch. Still, friends headed overseas provide you a chance to get a shot of your book beside a famous landmark, plus send a “message in a bottle.” That is, have your traveling friend leave the book at a busy café.  Inside the front cover will be your friendly note asking for a hand from whoever picks it up. Here’s more: http://www.getbella.com/travels-with-bella/

8 – Get busy rewriting. Effective marketing requires a willingness to recast the words you spent years putting in perfect order. A hard copy version of Bella is 254 pages. On the website, it’s three lines: Isabel Moss knew she might lose her husband when he went off to war. When the call came, she was almost ready. What stopped her cold was the second call.

9 – Pay attention to the season. Over the summer, Bella was “beach perfect.” A few months later, with the holidays approaching, we saucily suggested that Bella was “looking good in stockings” this holiday season, and ran a homemade ad on Facebook with the book perched atop a Santa stocking from a local discount store.

10 – Don’t waste one email. Message your emails with active verbs and live links. Mine invite you to: Visit Bella on the Web: www.getbella.com; Friend Us on Facebook: http://on.fb.me/bellaFB; Follow Us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/wordsprof; Watch Us on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/getbella; Tumble with us at: http://stevepiacente.tumblr.com/; and, Read the Reviews on Amazon: http://amzn.to/catchingon



The Messaging Arsenal – Tips 1-5

Success for the self-published author begins with a well-written, marketable product, innovative application of new media tools, and the discipline to plan and stick with a rigorous game plan.

Here are five tips that can separate you from the pack.

1 – Build a map. Find readers from as many states as possible. Get them to read your first 50 pages, and then send back their: name, city, state, head shot, and one positive  line about your book. Use Google maps to create a free map of the U.S. on your site, and plant pushpins to display the groundswell of support already underway. The Bella reader  map is at: http://www.getbella.com/fans-of-bella/

2 – Hitch up a trailer. People like videos, so take your story, reduce it to half a dozen plot points, and find yourself a good videographer. Work together on a script and storyboard, and then get out of the way. The payoff can be substantial. Our trailer greets you on the homepage of www.getbella.com

3 – Massage your links. Take extra advantage of sites that let you shorten long links by adding a customized message. When steering readers to the Bella Amazon page, I used: http://amzn.to/catchingon.

4 – Add art to your excerpts. Every author lets you peek inside the cover. Sweeten the deal by illustrating your excerpts. It looks great and helps separate you from the clutter. Here’s what I mean: http://www.getbella.com/illustrated-excerpts/

5 – Make it personal. Your family loves you, but to prospective readers, you’re just another salesman. Add a personal touch with an author video. You can talk about your muse, the main character or pretty much anything else so long as it’s short (2 minutes max), and engaging. Here’s mine: http://www.getbella.com/about-the-author/

Stay tuned for tips 6-10, and if you have other good ideas, please share!