Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Yay! A book festival! But public speaking freaks you out. Now what?

Yes, public speaking isn't for everyone, but as an author, you cannot let an opportunity pass to market your books. So what do you do now?

Book Festivals are not only about speakers, but there also has to be listeners too. Here are 6 tips to help with marketing your books at a book festival:


Be an active participant. Attend a discussion session or workshop about a topic or two that interests you. Take an active role in the discussion. Be sure to introduce yourself (Hi, I'm Linzé, I am a fantasy romance author, and I have a question about...) when you engage the speaker or another attendee in a discussion.


Be nice, just because. It takes nothing from you to be courteous to people. You don't have to like everyone, but you are talking to your market. Readers and book lovers like to engage with authors. Personally, I dislike being photographed, but I have learned that it won't kill me to be in front of a camera. If a reader asks to be photographed with me, I offer a genuine smile because someone will only go to that trouble if they want to be seen with me.


Dress well; your image says a lot. My daily life is spent in mostly casual clothing and I have been known to write in my pajamas, but it won't do when facing my readers. There is no need to dress up in heels and hose (unless you really want to) but taking care of your appearance also shows respect for your readers. It conveys a message of professionalism. You cannot expect your market to take you seriously if you don't take yourself seriously.


What does your brand say about you? For the authorpreneur, branding is an all-encompassing approach to your business as a published author. You spend time and money on the image portrayed by your book covers to showcase your product to the world. When you engage your readers and fans, be aware of the image, and brand, you want to them to associate with you as a person. If people make you nervous, make a point to learn to engage with people one on one. They will appreciate the attention and leave with a good impression and maybe a few of your books.


What to say, what not to say. It is a book festival, so people want to talk about their passion: books. If someone wants to talk about your books, you smile and chat and answer questions and autograph books for them. You do find people who want to talk about other people's books. If you are a fan of the same author, you will have common ground, but be careful not to spend too much time chatting when you have people waiting who want to talk to you about your books.
You could also face the situation of genre bashers. This happens when erotica writers are confronted with people who want to rip them apart for daring to write sex scenes in a book. If erotica is your genre, keep a cool head and suggest that they support other authors at the festival instead. If they bad-mouth another author for whatever reason, don't get into an argument and never agree with them. Rather suggest that not every book is to everyone's taste and that there are many other authors whose books they could read.
Avoid bad mouthing other authors because it reflects poorly on you. You might have an audience of fans of the other author and making them angry will not help your case.


Offer something in return. People like free stuff. This is a marketing opportunity where you can also give things away to gain more sales.
Think about the ads on television. Buy two tires from us and we will give you a movie ticket. Buy four and get two tickets. Car tires are expensive, so you will only replace them when safety becomes a concern. So why not treat yourself and drive your now safer car to the movie theater for a night out?
Book people, love book related things. Coffee mugs, bookmarks, shopping bags, gift cards for other books, etc. Or offer something where they can enjoy reading (or writing) at the same time - a foot massage voucher, pedicure, or a voucher for free coffee at a local coffee shop.


This is a basic list to help you get started, and there are more ideas that you can explore to market your books at a book festival.


Want to learn more about marketing your books? Take a look here.


Monday, 28 August 2017

I paused, and took a breath

Source: Medium
  
The project I am working on (at work) will soon be ending, and I will technically speaking be out of a job. Other projects are starting and some more in the pipeline, but the company has many project managers, and not all of them have a technical background to fall back on. As an engineer I also some experience as a system engineer, so I have more options to consider.
But I decided to take a metaphorical breath. While the project is not yet at an end, it is now a good time for me to reflect on my own future. Do I go back to engineering? Find a position as a systems engineer? Project manager? Or am I ready to do something else?
In 2018 I will be celebrating my fiftieth birthday, and as frightening as that feels sometimes, I have decided that I am not too old for a career change. I have changed careers before, but I had been younger, and the change was not as drastic as the one I am contemplating right now.
Then everything just fell into place. Whether you believe in fate, karma, or God (I am a Christian) when so many things fall into place, you know that the universe is on your side.
It all began with the course I recently completed. If you are a leader or have aspirations to go into management in the future, I can recommend the Values Based Leadership (VBL) Course, presented by the Graduate Business School of the University of Cape Town. The course is available online, and I had classmates from all over the world which added to the perspectives one needs to be exposed to in this environment.
You might readily wonder what the course did to trigger this radical change in my life because I am already in a management position. It wasn't the content of the course, it was the eye-opening it gave me at the lack of leadership and guidance for the younger generation of the workforce. In South Africa, and my industry especially, the concept of a generation gap is very real. In fact, that gap is about twenty years wide and if that doesn't scare the executives of any company, nothing will.
Why is it that bad? Engineering is engineering, isn't it? Unfortunately, when it comes to the military industry is not that simple. The design of a weapon system is not taught at university. How a system needs to be designed around constraints outside of your control (the military environment) is another thing not taught at any academic institution. So the real world is the only learning platform. But with the skilled and knowledgeable labour force about to retire, who is going to fill that gap? How are the executives going to ensure that the company will survive until the next generation is ready to step into those strategic leadership shoes?
Succession planning, knowledge sharing and vocational mentoring are the answers for the technical skills. But the organisational environment is changing almost every year, and the old guard has little interest in the new styles of leadership to encourage and motivate the younger generation. And that was what the VBL course taught me, or rather opened my eyes to the future.
I have had mentorship training at a previous employer, but that is not what I am aiming for in my career change. I want to be a life coach.
I don't know more than other people, nor can I claim to be a better engineer or project manager. But I have been where they are heading to. In fact, I am standing there right now. A four, five, six-way crossing leading away from me into an unknown future. Cross-roads are nothing new in anyone's life: personal, professional, financial, etc. Decisions that affect the future of your life either scare most people into inaction until it is too late, or they make the wrong decisions for themselves and their futures.
Life coaching was a natural choice for me, given my interest in training and mentoring. But it is so much more than that. People know deep inside where they want to go with their lives and sometimes they just need someone to help them find their way.
So I spent weeks thinking, praying, scribbling deep (and often scared) thoughts in my journal only to find yet more signs that the choice is the right one for me. I swallowed my trepidation at the radical choice and enrolled into a life coaching course online.
While the qualification I plan to do is more expensive, I decided to do that as soon as I can. My goals for this year remain in place, but this year is almost over. My current project will soon end.
I needed to look at my future.
I paused and took a deep breath.
I have a new goal. And a plan for my professional future.

Monday, 14 August 2017

This is why my 2017 Goals are still on Track (mostly) – Part 1

A badge Linzé earned in a group
where writers hold themselves
accountable for daily writing
I wrote my first word of a first draft way back in 2001. While my odyssey to publication took another eleven years, I didn’t just write this one book. This first book was not my first published book, for that, I had to write some more before publication would be an option.
Why eleven years? There is no magic to this number, it was how long it took for me to figure out that I might actually be good enough.
What I did in those eleven years, established the foundation of why I now describe myself as a writer—I wrote.
In fact, I wrote another eight full-length novels: two are published, and the third is planned for October this year. The rest must wait their turn…it is a series after all.
In the years since that first attempt, writing became a habit. A daily habit that to date produced several more manuscripts, to the effect that this year my total creative word count now stands at over 2,200,000 words.
I started keeping a spreadsheet that I update at the end of every evening’s writing session. It was more curiosity in the beginning, but it has become more than that…it’s my daily ‘personal trainer’ if you like.

Source: Medium
Seeing the number of words I have written thus far is inspirational, but it is the words that have yet to come to life, that truly gets my writing brain into gear. So many stories that still need to be told!
Of course, I did not write as many words back then as I do now. In my own defense, it did take a while for my blonde brain cells to truly get the message: if you want to write, it is exactly what you should do. Write. Every day.
Some people set themselves a daily word target, others a daily time to write. I fall into the latter category. With a full-time job, my writing time is limited, and I want to squeeze every second that I can get out of it.
NaNoWriMo months change the goals a bit, but the words still count. They must. With an annual goal of one full-length novel, plus a few shorter stories to keep the creative juices flowing, I simply cannot help myself anymore—I have to write. When I don’t, I feel as if I am going to work without wearing a bra—something essential is missing.
Fortunately, that is one piece of clothing I have not yet forgotten!
I suppose it becomes a habit like brushing my teeth or putting on said bra. So that means when those words are not written, my creative mind will rot in a manner of speaking. Trust me, the zombie look will not look good on me.

Source: Medium
Whatever the target is you set for yourself, time or words, make it a habit. Habits become entrenched in the definition of who we are.
If you write, you will feel like a writer, you will think like a writer…you will be a writer.

Before you disappear back to reality, please take a moment to share this post with your friends. Thank you! 💜

Linzé Brandon is the author of several books and short stories. She is a project manager, closet artist, sometimes blogger and wife to an engineer who likes to play with a camera. The unicorns and fairies love playing with their German shepherds almost as much as their human pack members.