Generate book sales by offering webinars

A great way to generate money from your book writing is by offering webinars.

You’ve probably heard of and even attended seminars. A webinar is exactly the same, except that’s done over the Internet.

Since you’ve written a book, you’re more than half done with creating a webinar. All you’re really in a webinar doing is turning your written, published information into an event. You share that information with others, just as you would in a book, but instead say it aloud to a live audience.

Webinars mark an affordable, easy way to sell more books. When you host a webinar, you place your expertise and hence your books right in front of potential readers. You also get people to notice you, as webinars can be much more effective than blogs at attracting attention and garnering new sign-ups for your mailing list. You’ll gain authority as well; by simply presenting valuable information to others, people respect you as a maven in your field. Lastly, you can bond with your readers; for them, seeing you on a screen and conversing with you through it is the next best thing to standing next to you.

Putting on a webinar involves several steps.

Begin by writing a script for the webinar. You can draw material from your book but be sure to present new information as well. Spend about five minutes on an introduction in which you welcome everyone and tell a little about yourself; this gives people a chance to show up late or to fix their faulty connections without missing the presentation. Then spend at least 25 minutes, but no more than 45 minutes, on a presentation. Leave 10 minutes at the end for a Q&A. Have material prepared so that if there aren’t many questions you can provide some additional information.

Next, you’ll need to ensure you have a way to technically deliver the webinar. A laptop camera or other way to take video that can be streamed live via the Internet is necessary, as well as a microphone on your computer; for the latter, you probably will want to used a dedicated mic for superior sound quality. A number of options exist online so others can interact live with you; most authors use an app on a page at their website where the webinar is embedded (btw, the URL for this page is revealed only to those who sign up for the event). The free Google Hangouts on Air is popular for this; with it, you can offer a slide show presentation as well as appear live on camera.

Once you have a script and the technical hardware/software, practice and rehearse. This will ensure your delivery goes smoothly and that you don’t have any technical problems during the webinar.

Lastly, you need to promote and market the webinar. Many authors who’ve held webinars report the most successful strategy for promoting the event is to treat it as like the lead-up for a book launch. Start by adding a registration page to your website. Then write a blog entry about the event, including a place where people can list their questions that you’ll answer during the event. Next, pen guest blogs for other sites; mention the webinar in the post or at the end where your bio is given. Make regular posts on social media about the event with link to where can register. Send three promotions with a registration form to everyone on your email list; the first email should be sent a week before the event, the next one four days before, and last one the day before. Typically, only about a quarter of the people who’ve signed up for the webinar actually attend; you can boost that number by sending out an email to all who’ve registered just before your presentation begins.

Authors can take home office deduction on taxes

The use of your home – regardless if you own or rent – usually can be deducted from your federal taxes. It is called the home office deduction.

Not all home offices qualify for the deduction, so you must be careful to ensure that you meet IRS requirements. First, the space for your home office must be regularly and exclusively used for your business. If you set your laptop on an ironing board in the laundry room, that’s not going to cut it. Secondly, the home office must be the principal place of your business. The room is where you meet clients and talk to them on the phone about projects; it is where you do the bulk of your work.

When taking the tax deduction, you have two options – the regular or the simplified method.

The regular method involves determining the actual cost of running your business out of your home and might include burglar alarms, insurance, mortgage interest, rent, repairs, utilities and depreciation (more on that later). Typically, the deduction is based on the percentage of your home devoted to business use. So if you have a 2000-square-foot house and a 200-square-foot-room in it is your office, 10 percent of your home is used for business purposes. That means 10 percent of the insurance, mortgage interest, rent, repairs and utilities may qualify for a deduction.

The simplified method is much easier to determine, reduces the amount of recordkeeping you must do, and actually may allow you to deduct more money than you could by using the regular method. All you do is multiply a prescribed rate by the allowable square footage of the office. So if the prescribed rate is $5 per square foot, and your office is 300 square feet, then you can deduct up to $1500.

Grammar Court: Judgment vs. Judgement

Which spelling you use largely depends upon what side of the Atlantic you’re on. And if on the British side of the pond, then it’s only slightly more complicated.

In American English, judgment (no e) is the preferred spelling. This is because back in the 1820s, Noah Webster, when he wrote the first American dictionary, decided to simplify the spelling of a number of words. Today, The AP Stylebook and American Heritage and Merriam-Webster’s dictionaries among others echo this spelling.

In British English, both spellings are used, though they have the same meaning. Judgment is used in official court documents while judgement prevails elsewhere, however.

A simple memory trick: “Add the e if in England” (which many Americans often incorrectly call the entire United Kingdom…but that’s another topic for later).

Build your book into a business

Rarely can an author make a living solely from book sales. However, authors can achieve their dream of independence by building a business around their books.

Creating a business centered on your published works largely means monetizing your expertise. For example, you could deliver a service or provide products related to your book. You might sell attendance at workshops, online courses, teleseminars and webinars or videos that you offer about your book’s topic.

People always want and are willing to pay for expert advice. Writing a book on a topic – presuming you seriously researched it – makes you an expert. So long as your writing develops reader trust and likability, this expert status allows you to use your books as a springboard for selling related services and products.

Once you’ve published a book, ask yourself how you might sell services or products based on your title’s subject. If you’ve published a book on canoeing or kayaking, for example, you might offer outfitting services. If you’ve written about personal finance, offering investment consulting services makes sense.

To get business for your service, become a public speaker and offer workshops, classes, teleseminars and webinars about the topic. The fact that you’ve written a book makes you an expert who can give such presentations, which in turn creates opportunities to pitch your book. Such events also can help you leverage media appearances. Ultimately, however, the presentations and your books aim to generate personal services – like the aforementioned outfitter or investment consultant – that pay far more dollars to you than public appearances or Amazon.com royalties.

Many products beyond books also can be sold. For example, if a nutritionist or a dietician, you might create food products that follow your recommended meal plans. Or you might simply offer coffee mugs and T-shirts with your brand name on them.

Building a business around your book does mean you that you’ll spend less time writing. In fact, you’ll need to keep penning and publishing new books related to your business; the outfitter, for example, might pen kayaking river guides, while the personal finance author might knock out books about niche topics, such as investing in the stock market or how to save for your kid’s college education.

Your writing, presentations and services always benefit one another. After all, experts who offer services and products sell more books. As people learn about your services and products, visits to your website and attendance at your presentations will rise, generating more awareness of and interest in your books and services. More book sales in turn means more business and people attending your events. So long as your books and presentations help people to at least partially solve their problem, they will seek you out to meet additional, related problems that they experience.

Even better, as you provide more people with products or a service that they need, you develop ideas for new books, while high sales of particular titles you’ve written can help shift the direction of your business to areas that are more lucrative.

Admittedly, building a business based on your book does more readily lend itself to nonfiction authors. Writers who’ve published multiple books on the same topic or in the same genre also will find their efforts easier going. However, many novelists and authors of a lone title with a little creativity have successfully built a business around their book, usually in the fields of coaching other writers or manuscript editing.

A symbolic problem: Literally vs. Figuratively

The difference between these two words is one of apples and oranges, figuratively speaking that is.

Literally means “actually” and “without exaggeration.” To wit: When I told him to go fly a kite, I didn’t mean for him to literally do it.

Literally is overused these days, primarily because it’s become an intensifier, as in I was literally on fire. Arguably, it’s also misused, for literally as an intensifier virtually means the opposite of “actually” and “without exaggeration.”

When literally is used as an intensifier, the speaker probably should have used figuratively.

Figuratively means something is “metaphorical,” as in The wildfire figuratively cast a shadow over the holidays.

So remember – when using these two words don’t literally mix up your apples and oranges!

Include these pages on your business website

Whenever creating a website for a business that springs from your books, you’ll want to include certain pieces of information on it.

All such websites should include the following six pages (though one or two of them can be combined):
• Home – This is the landing page where your potential clients will first learn about you. Because of that, you must clearly convey what your services are. Your pitch should focus on why you should be hired, which can be done by showing why you are the best at the services you offer.
• About the Service offered – This gives more detailed information about your services, such as a bulleted list of specific work that you’ll do for clients, a fee/rate schedule, and any special requirements you have in the way you conduct your business (such as a refund policy).
• Testimonials – Select comments that show the breadth of your skills and talents. Also try to show that you serve a wide range of clients.
• Bio – Your biography should not be long, say 300 words at the most. Emphasize your experience that makes you qualified to perform the service you offer. In addition, keep an upbeat, exuberant tone.
• About Your Books – Focus on those books related to your services. Include a thumbnail of the cover and a two-sentence summary of its contents. You can include titles unrelated to your service at the bottom of the web page.
• Contact – Always include a page in which potential clients can email you. Contacting you, after all, is what you want them to do!

In addition, include links to your blogs and social media, usually at the bottom of each page. You want people to follow and friend you at their favorite social media platform so that they follow your posts and stay up to date on your latest news.

Lastly, be sure to include a page about your services on your author’s site where you promote your books. The more ways people can discover your services, the better for your business!

Strive for web pages with high scanability

Few people read text on a web page like they do a book. While most approach a book by reading it word-for-word, most Internet readers scan. That is, they peruse, looking for the key points to get the gist of the text or to find specific information they are willing to read word-for-word. Because of this, you want to ensure any text you write for the web has high scanability.

This is true even for author’s websites. Although you’d think that avid readers and writers would prefer to look at every piece of writing in a word-by-word approach – especially when looking at an author’s website – the fact is that most don’t. There’s something about the medium of the Internet that makes scanning the natural way to read it; perhaps it’s the size, shape, brightness, or subtle underlying pixelation of the screen.

How to create a scannable page
Fortunately, scanability is easy to achieve through a number of techniques:
• Use clear navigation for the page – Include a headline and subheads, which often appear in a larger font size and are boldface, to help readers quickly identify the page’s main points. Headlines tell in a few words exactly what the web page is about. Subheads act as signposts that help visitors located particular points supporting or elaborating on the main idea given in the headline.
• Place main idea in first paragraph – The most important information – what the web page’s text is about – needs to appear in the first paragraph. This may seem redundant given that’s what your headline does, but the opening paragraph also shows why knowing this information is important and sets the page’s tone.
• Chunk your content – Limit each paragraph to one topic, specifically a point that supports or elaborates on the main idea given in the opening paragraph. You can include examples. A paragraph shouldn’t be more than 2-3 sentences long. Paragraphs can be grouped together by using a subhead.
• Use lists – Bulleted points are the ultimate way to quickly deliver information. They are very useful when you have a long paragraph of multiple points. Simply separate each point into a bulleted point and give it a two- to six-word leader.
• Utilize font style changes – Placing headlines, subheads and bulleted points in boldface help readers quickly locate the main points. Italics also can be used, especially for examples or for emphasis, to ensure they stand out. Just don’t overdo it, or the font style changes lose their effectiveness, as they can’t be easily picked out.

Need an example of each of these listed techniques? This article is written with each one used.

Standalone pages
You can help readers a lot by ensuring that each web page is independent of all others at your website. If this page had required visitors to first have read my web pages about readability and tone, then the text here probably won’t make much sense to them. Visitors can come to any page on your website through a variety of means – a search engine, a tweet, a Pinterest post, another website’s link – and that means they often bypass your home page and don’t read your web pages in sequence.

If you have web pages with related content, create a link on your page so that visitors can go to it. Including the related information in text rather than via a link only dilutes your web page’s hyperfocus on a single topic.

5 Sci-Fi Writing Prompts: Novums

Science fiction stories typically arise from a novum, a scientifically plausible concept that is a “reality” in the tale. The novum might be an mechanical device like robot servants, artificial intelligence, or faster-than-light spacecraft; it also can be a hypothetical idea such as “The Earth is a scientific experiment run by aliens to determine the meaning of life” or “The government outlaws books.” The author then asks “What if?” exploring how the world with this novum is different than ours.

Among the problems of many novice science fiction writers is instead of introducing a new novum they rely on used furniture – that is, they borrow novums from popular SF series. After all, how many novels have you read that use starships exploring the galaxy for the Earth-based Federation? Barely changing names to appear as if you are not appropriating – a starcraft seeking M-class worlds for the Earth-centered Alliance – still doesn’t cut it as original or fully using the potential that science fiction offers to examine our culture or humanity.

To help SF writers, here are some novums of potential near-future inventions from which stories could be built:

Choose your own actor
What if you could choose which actor/actress played a part in a movie or a television show? AI and access to previous digital recordings of performers will allow this to become a reality.

Creative cuisine
What if synthetic biology allowed us to create food that could be preprogrammed to spell out messages or to create pictures? For example, using an app you might ask the chef to mix up a chocolate cake in which the icing spontaneously arranged itself to spell “Will You Marry Me?” after it arrives.

Energy-generating floorboards
What if floorboards used electro-magnetic induction to generate electricity from footsteps? This electricity could at least partially power homes and buildings or in large-traffic areas perhaps even the entire facility.

Linear artificial gravity
What if we could create artificial gravity by accelerating a spacecraft in a back and forth motion rather than by rotating around a central point? What would be the advantages and disadvantages of such a system?

New York City seawall
As sea levels rise thanks to global warming, many coastal cities either will be swallowed up or will have to take countermeasures. For large cities that are economic centers – like New York City – seawalls are erected.