Jul
29
2015

Little things not to say when you’re emceeing …

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There may be a million things not to say when you are in charge of a program or ceremony.

Let me share a half-dozen wee comments that, in themselves, aren’t going to get you hooked off the podium, but, done right, they will easily distinguish you as a professional who is comfortable and smooth…

For example, do you know anybody who wants to be introduced last (unless that spot is saved for the highlight of the show)? Even worse, “last but not least.” Why not say “final” or “concluding”? Or if you are using numbers, like “first speaker,” “second speaker,” and so on, just use the number for the last? Like “Many of you may have heard our fifth speaker, …”

Along the same line, “We’ve saved the best for last…” Hmm, if I was speaker #3 of five what goes through my mind? I must have bombed, or whatever one does who isn’t the best…

Ever hear, “the one and only”? That does convey special esteem, but it also makes the listeners ask, “the one and only what?” Why not tell the audience why that person is held in such high regard, like “the fastest woman in the world, …” Even there “the one and only” may be one race from being inaccurate. Consider something less transitory like “America’s most rewarded Olympic Gold swimmer, … ”

How often have you heard that the speaker “needs no introduction,” then they are introduced (usually in great length)! Two points here: (1) surely there are folks in the crowd who have absolutely no idea who the person is, so you have to say something about them or their prominence, and (2) if you are certain that the coming speaker is beyond introduction, prove it. Save the introduction.

But you can’t just point at them and grunt or push the microphone into their hands. So a compromise. “____ is well known to most of us…” and complete the introduction with a concise listing of their accomplishments or honors.

Finally, you must remember which is the podium and which is the lectern. You are standing on the podium, your notes are sitting on the lectern.

A very good emceeing guidebook full of solid advice is Dana LaMon’s Master the Ceremonies (see www.danalamon.com).

Emceeing is lots of fun–it’s also alarming the first times out. The most important thing to remember is that the audience isn’t there to see or hear you.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

P.S. Want to be an emcee for three or four hours, probably alone and usually non-stop? Give full seminars! Details at “How to Set Up and Market Your Own Seminar.”

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Jul
20
2015

Using humor to sell your magazine articles

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Funny you should ask!

One rule always: some editors/publications don’t use humor, so don’t even try. At best the editor may open her lips to chuckle (or groan), then reconsider and toss the query. I can’t tell you which such publications  to avoid because I don’t read them. But it used to be that the AARP magazines were humor dry. That getting old must be grim stuff. (So when I did write for them I kept surefire rip-roarers, even tepid jests, out of my mind lest one slide down to my pecking finger and be read by the paymaster.)

I can’t remember any editor who wanted truckloads of comedy dumped on their desk. They bought humor in measured bits deftly worked into actual (or near-) truths. Except the fillers editors who seemed to weigh jokes by the word so they could be squeezed into advertising holes. They actually did pay a pittance, when they stopped laughing–but I don’t ever recall them buying two jokes at the same time. I had a colleague who sold a joke to Reader’s Digest and included the sale in his credits in every query. One editor wrote back, rejecting his idea, and added, “I bet that RD joke was the only thing you ever sold.” Mean editors are rare, but they can be perceptive. It was about a third of his freelance bounty.

Puns sometimes worked, but if I used one I used two so they knew it was intentional. I’ve sold 1,700+ freelance articles but only once did I use a full-out joke in an article, and that was about 10 or 15 words long and the joke was the article’s lead! (Alas, it must have been far below my personal humor standard because I can’t remember a word of it!) On the other hand I wrote a travel short about 800 words long about eating guinea pig sandwiches that were cooked on the street in Quito, Ecuador. (At least they looked like guinea pigs.) I found out years later, through a Peace Corps kid stationed near Cuenca, that one of his projects was to help multiply the stock of domesticated guinea pigs to increase the meat available on the local table. (Whatever it was, it sure tasted good.)

Here was my system of weaving humor into an article’s otherwise deadly prose.

(1) Mostly I lifted deadly prose appreciably heavenward by keeping the tone light and the descriptions spry (good synonyms adorned with festive adjectives helped).

(2) I relied a lot on word play, but you have to spread it out and only do that now and then. For example, I might refer to Buffy, a wee, yapping dog, as a furry feral killer-companion or a drooling pet growler. Or a woman’s date as her knight of the night. That’s enough wit: the blog censors just told me to stop–they are thinking of your humor health.

(3) A funny, related thought to what is being said in a paragraph almost always ended that paragraph.

(4) It’s hard to give isolated examples. Find an article that intentionally makes you laugh and highlight every funny item in it with yellow underliner. You’ll see that the humor is discretely bundled in 93% topic-related facts.

(5) Just as the writer did in (5) above, if the subject had humor wanting to get out, I made the content worth reading, and let some of that humor escape.

(6) I always put some humor in the query letter, in the actual selling message, so the editor knew there would be humor in the copy that followed. I’m convinced that the humor helped sell the query. But you can’t overdue it.

(7) As a friend who teaches journalism tells his wards: if you can’t keep your humor in control, get a talk show!

Some loose how-to’s but I hope it helps. Life’s a whole lot more fun when you’re part of the wit and mirth. It’s even better when you get paid to share it.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

 

 

 

 

 

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Jul
18
2015

Promoting Your Own Seminar: Planning and Implementation

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To promote your seminar other people must know about it. Making them aware of its existence can cost you more that all of your other costs combined. So success with self-promoted seminars is directly related to how you inform potential participants, its cost, and the sign-ups resulting from that information.

Some things help before you blow the first bugle.

If you are well known, participants may come simply to see and hear you. So one tool is to make yourself better known—and worth hearing. [I talk about this in depth in the more than 20 blogs about seminars stored at this site. Just write “seminars” (no quotes) in the search box in the upper right of the first page of this blog and most of them will appear, sometimes chronologically!].

If the title of your seminar sparks instant interest, you might be able to thrive with a minimum of planned publicity, counting on word-of-mouth (and usually greed) to draw an audience. If you plan to show how to turn kitchen spoons into gold,  for example, you could probably speak at the dump at 2 a.m. and charge $100 a head and make more money than you could count. Show a few opportunists a “before” spoon and an “after” gilded creation, tell each to bring a friend who can bring a friend, and so on–you get the point. And bring several dozen spoons each! Two things are at play here: the title (or topic) and your credibility. The latter can be greatly enhanced by hordes of listeners going home with golden spoons.

A third element is crucial: audience identity. You must know to a type and age the kind of people who will benefit most from hearing you speak. Who needs to know what you will say, why, and what benefits can they expect from it? You must also have a feeling for how badly they need your message, or think they need it. And you must sense how much they will pay to attend the seminar.

Assuming that you have worked and worked at developing a clear, enticing title followed by an exciting, reward-promising description, and that you have identified who will attend and why, what remains is simple: getting as many through the door for as little expense as possible.

So first you should concentrate on the information dissemination items that are free. They may be the most important elements anyway.

Start with a news release sent to every possible outlet: newspapers (dailies, weeklies, free handouts), newsletters, company organs, any vehicle read by others who might attend your gathering. Also send a .jpeg to those with the greatest impact on potential participants. (Make sure that your appearance is in keeping with your purpose: tie and coat or business attire if you want businessmen at your meeting, etc. Shoes are a must.)

Then condense your material into radio-TV (any audio) release segments: 24 lines for a 5-second spot; double that for 10 seconds. Write “COMMUNITY ACTIVITY” on top, followed by the copy and your name, address, and phone. No photo here, of course.

What are the chances that this material will he read? Good for newspapers, if it sounds newsworthy; poor for radio; worse for TV or online—but it’s free and if it is used you are that much ahead. Any exposure makes others aware, increases your visibility, and helps.

If you use social media this way, go to it. Remember that if you call for action, they need  way to respond.

To increase your exposure even more, contact the area talk show program directors to see if you could appear on a show some days before your seminar to discuss your topic. Tell him/her why the subject would interest the listeners. (Don’t dwell on the seminar if you do appear; mention it once [maybe twice], and refer to it again before the show closes: that’s enough.)

Your best selling tool is you, so visit every group, organization, gathering or outlet you can to tell those there about your offering. Contact the meeting director and ask for two minutes early in the session. Introduce yourself, your topic, why they would benefit from attending, how to sign up, and leave enough flyers for all in attendance. Ask others interested in your program to tell friends. Put fliers on bulletin boards, in places where participants might gather, or at any logical spot where they might attract sign-ups.

Having a professional looking book that you wrote about your topic is a huge plus. Include a copy of the cover with every press release or flyer. If the book’s title is the same or similar to your seminar title, all the better. It can be self-published, but it must be impressive in appearance. You might also up the program cost and include a free copy. (Or give a free copy to the first 10 or 20 paid registrants, or whatever number you can afford. Sign the book on the inside title page and give it to the person when they arrive.)

Flyers: I can’t tell you how to make them here. Most of it is common sense, and much of that comes from using what works best on other fliers. Two places can help you with basic how-to information: art supply stores (sometimes office supply too), that sell the tools, and printers, who put the flyer on paper. Tell either what you have in mind, find an example similar among the millions of flyers in the mail and on boards, and let them tell you how to make one similar. A seminar or even a class about basic graphics and flyermaking should be seriously considered if you will be your own provider of graphics.

Keep in mind: a flyer is a selling tool. It needn’t be done in three colors on glossy paper to impress, but it must be clear, neat, errorless, and inviting. Too much copy is worse than too little: white or blank space means class. Stick to simple type, straight-forward messages, don’t be too funny, get the “5 W’s and H” down—who, what, why, where, when and how—and be sure that the title is what everyone sees first. The viewer will assume that the seminar is like the flyer. Too shoddy and they’ll stay away.

Newspaper advertising? Probably a waste of your limited funds, unless just about everybody would want to attend, you have money to buy a big splash (1/3 of a page or more) to run about three times, or you can place a key ad in a specific section read only by your people. The major exception is for a specialty newspaper, like one sent to nurses only when your seminar offers BRN credit to nurses.

Likewise, radio and TV are not good vehicles for paid seminar advertising unless the appeal is extremely broad or you can somehow focus your topic and the program-ming of the station on a specific audience: a seminar on how to become a professional umpire needs a spot, if any at all, in the middle of the sports results.

How to get started with newspaper, radio, or TV ads if you think they are for you? Go to the person who sells the ad space, leave your wallet at home (I’m not kidding), and say, “I think that ______ would be a good vehicle to advertise my seminar about _____. Do you? (Of course.) Then how would I go about setting up the best ad possible to draw the most participants?” Let the person explain, write it down, take the handouts, and go home and think. Don’t buy anything that day; don’t buy the whole package: try one ad and test. Rewrite it, if it doesn’t draw well, and test again…. Compare costs and evaluate possible results. If you decide to go ahead, do everything you can yourself, hiring others to do the rest on a freelance basis and under the condition that they will explain how they did what they did. Soon enough you’ll be able to do it all. About 90% of promotion is also common sense and a hard financial eye, plus some creativity. The rest needs tools.

Remember, you are the best advertising possible. Your enthusiasm, your drive, your planning, and your clear prose. Put that in action, on paper through friends. Let everybody know, keep a hard eye on expenses, and study everything you see in print or the media to see how others are doing it. By your third seminar you will have it down cold—if you hustle, plan, and economize enough in the beginning to survive (and thrive) until seminar four!

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

P.S. For 20+ years I offered more than 2,000 four-hour seminars. From that experience I created  a four audio cassette program, with a 26-page workbook, called  “How to Set Up and Market Your Own Seminar.” It’s now available, if interested.

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Jul
6
2015

Emceeing: another modest example, from 7/5/15

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(I was asked by a group of performers/students for some sample emceeing scripts four years ago, so here is my occasional response. This time I was asked by our Barber Shop interim director, Paul, if I’d do the emceeing for the Marin County Fair, in San Rafael, about 20 miles north of San Francisco. But there were restrictions that might affect the show, he said.

I suspected that meant I’d have to wear an embarrassing costume or, horrors, the singers would also have to dance. It was time limitation. I think we usually sang for 45 minutes. This year it would be 30. Easy enough. Either I say less, say it faster, we sing fewer songs, or if we were running out of time we’d improvise on the spot, probably by reducing the number of songs at the end.

Paul chose 10 songs, none lasting very long, and I trimmed too, so it ended right on the button, without rushing. It was a grand day too: sunny (we were in a large tent), a whiff of breeze, and maybe 80 degrees. Lots of attendees, meaning that by the end of the show our “hall” was almost full. (That’s typical: the first song is clapped at, with huge relief, by our wives and visiting cousins—relief because we all got on the stage and nobody, yet, had stepped or fallen off. By the end of the short show most of the people passing by and hearing patriotic songs they knew had gathered up, and many sat down. This crowd was active, vocal, and seemed to enjoy the program a lot.

You might also notice from the script below that we start by singing, then we introduce ourselves and welcome the curious on-lookers.

The only other item that might pique your curiosity is the reference to the plea for rain that we would sing for. It’s very dry in California, and our area is no exception, so when the song ended and I had asked them to join the plea when we, the singers, raised our hands to heaven, the audience did too, and laughed and some even clapped.

That’s it. This is a simple script—hard to go wrong with six jokes that funny—but not atypically it took several hours to write and prune. And on the stage it felt like it lasted two minutes! Happy holiday!

SCRIPT: July 5, 2015

MUSIC

AMERICA, THE BEAUTIFUL

Welcome to America’s 239th birthday, even if we’re a day late. We are the Marin Golden Gate Barbershop Chorus. It’s our honor to be invited to stir your patriotic blood again at the Marin County Fair. Last year our singers gave me the five of the funniest Independence Day jokes ever told, to share. Many are still laughing. So we are doing it again this year. Six jokes rather than just five! (You need not applaud.)

But music first. We just heard AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL. How about I’M GONNA SIT RIGHT DOWN AND WRITE MYSELF A LETTER? Then we’ll add a special song in honor of today. It’s called TODAY.

Apropos, today, July 5, we are led by our proudest display of brotherhood, a true Tory himself, Maestro Paul Wren.

MUSIC

Yes, it’s time for three of the funniest patriotic jokes ever told. Ready?

* If rats and cockroaches lived in George Washington’s home, you know what we’d call it? MT. VERMIN.

* You know what you call a fake patriot? UNCLE SHAM.

* You know what the call the protest that dogs held in 1773?
THE BOSTON FLEA PARTY.

That’s enough, three jokes at a time, so you don’t hurt yourselves…

Here’s a song for your sweetheart, your spouse, or your country. It’s called I DON’T KNOW WHY I LOVE YOU LIKE I DO.

It’s followed by a tune you all know, a kind of national prayer:
GOD BLESS AMERICA…

MUSIC

I see some of you duffers of all ages moving your mustached lips just wishing you were up here harmonizing and that you could have a red shirt like ours. So when we finish today please come up to the stage and get a card that tells how to join in. You needn’t be Caruso. If you can carry a tune and it won’t drop on your foot, come and have fun…

One more thing: you see that building over there? That’s where we put on our annual show—this year it’s on the second to last Sunday in November, the 22nd, at 2 p.m. We have some super champion quartets joining us—and we hope that all of you, of all genders, will too…

How about two more songs? Most of our chorus members are married, so for them and their suffering brides, we will sing WHEN THERE’S LOVE AT HOME. And yes, alas, some of our singers are singles—they are probably wearing white socks, or one white sock—so the second song is for them, a deterrent to despair called HELLO MARYLOU.

MUSIC

I owe you three more bell-ringers before we finish with three foot-stomping tunes…

Are you ready? They’re dangerously funny so hold on.

* If you crossed a vegetable with our first president, what would you get? GEORGE SQUASHINGTON.

* What quacks, has webbed feet, and betrays his country? BENEDUCK ARNOLD.

* And what would you get if you crossed a famous, fat founding father with a famous monster? BENJAMIN FRANKLINSTEIN

Should we give these brave singers a round of applause before they launch into the last medley?

And let us give you a hearty thank you for actually applauding our vocal efforts. Our first final song is a plea to the weather gods, called RAIN. When we plea for moisture by raising our hands at the end, please join in! (The trees will thank you.)

Then we’ll take you rain hunting when we RIDE THE CHARIOT!

And the last song you know. Why not join us singing the last verse? (To the blog readers, it was the STAR SPANGLED BANNER.)

MUSIC

END OF PERFORMANCE. (Singers fall off of stage.)

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

(There are several earlier emceeing samples at this site. Write emceeing in the search box upper right and all—or most—will appear.)

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Jun
30
2015

The most important / most profitable reason to self-publish

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I enjoy and learn a lot from Bob Bly’s frequent missives. (See www.bly.com). We sort of walk and work the same side of the street regarding professional writing and publishing, and we both agree on the importance of strategizing first, then following up with processes that work.

So the other day when Bob offered five reasons or situations where self-publishing should seriously be considered, I found myself nodding and uttered an aging “yep” at every point.

Alas, I had an extra “yep” unuttered, so I thought it fair in this blog to add number six to the list. We agree that self-publishing (1) can be a means of getting your words in print, (2) it will let you can control your tome’s contents and design, (3) if you can market well, by self-publishing you can sidestep the big-house foot-dragging, (4) when your book is complementary to your greater purpose of displaying your expertise (as, for example, using your book to secure related speaking engagements), or (5) when self-publishing is the best (and perhaps only) way to get your words and ideas past the older, established houses so potential readers and buyers have a chance to see and decide about the merits of your independent offering.

The missing reason–the unuttered “yep”–for me trumps the other five. I think that self-publishing and niche publishing are potentially the two halves of a golden egg.

In fact, they have walked hand in hand long before “open” publishing made it possible for any writer to ignore the major houses and see their work in print. Many did  profitably self-publish long ago, like Dickens, Twain, and General Roberts (of Roberts’ Rules of Order). But when the focus swung from books for general markets (risky indeed) to tightly targeted or niche markets, and pre-testing (usually through direct mail testing) allowed the publisher to define the specific buyer demand, then self-publishing let the niche publisher create publications with finely honed titles tailored to pin-point targets. It became a potentially risk-free investment since the publisher would then be able to print the number of books needed to satisfy that predetermined need.

We’re not in disagreement here since Bob sells solid products about niche publishing and my Niche Publishing–Publish Profitably Every Time also extols (and explains) the “how’s” of niching and pre-testing. I simply wanted to remind my readers that niche publishing continues to be a lucrative path (I think the most lucrative) in the grove of self-publishing.

Incidentally, blogs being structured as they are, I probably have 40 or 50 related blogs about “niche publishing” hiding right behind these words for further perusal, if interested. Just type “niche” or “niche publishing” (no quote marks) in the SEARCH box above and Word Press will kindly stack them up for you to read. (Since in my mind niche publishing and empire building can be almost synonymous, you are invited to check “empire building” too!)

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

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Jun
26
2015

How can I make my self-published memoir a big seller?

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It’s doable but very hard. It takes a combination of good things, some not much in your control.

A starting definition is required: what is a “big seller”? Almost everybody will agree that if your book has “many, many thousands of sales; royalties in six-plus figures; a book-based movie, and spin-offs of book fame like Charlie Rose, the morning shows, and widespread name recognition, that’s a big seller.

All of that can happen, despite the self-publishing (which too often is linked to poor production and artwork, weak marketing, little or no selling pre-prep, and reluctance by book distributors to keep the book in stock and sight).

Your book is most likely to break out big if you are well known or you say things that lots of book buyers want to read—and repeat to their friends. Those sales can be quickly magnified if the timing is right—the topic excites readers eager to know more about what you are saying. (I’m presuming your prose is tight, true, and flawlessly professional.)

I think I heard you say, “Fat chance! No way my message will hit the headlines—and what would Charlie Rose, or even Tokyo Rose, ask me even if they could find me?”

Yet there are self-publishers who define being a “big seller” differently, though they’d be happy to be “found” if the world started spinning in reverse. They have already sold a few thousand copies, pushed through Kindle and CreateSpace. One suspects they are about as happy as they’d be if they’d won a Noble and Pulitzer Prize and Miss Spenser, the senior literature class teacher, had given them a posthumous “A.” Their books are well written, to the point, and spotlessly proofed. But the covers aren’t bookstore stuff: free artwork, Arial type, more cartoonish than befitting a true big-house tome.

They all did pretty much the same thing. They told stories, about themselves, their families, some friends. One book was sad. It was a true story. It was patched together with such gentleness and determination that it was hard to put down. A book you gave your spouse or your aunt even though none of you know the author. Or like your friend who told you to buy it—“you’ve got to read this.”

The other two popped with humor. Both worked because the dialog sounded true–and was funny; it was how men, the key protagonists, talk—one book, three brothers and an older sister in a tense, disintegrating family all sliding apart on strings of love; the other, a loose tale of a not-so-good magician working the subway, the bus station, and a bewildering corporate bachelor party, realizing that the weaker his magic was, the funnier was his patter.

Those are also paths to “best sellerdom” for the unchosen. There are as many, or more, winning paths in non-fiction too. I suspect there are thousands of writers of wee books who are puffing with pride just having the best they can do available digitally or in paperback. They’d take the fame and chat with Charlie but in the meantime they can scarcely hide their smile when somebody whispers, “I read your book. It was great.”

And what happens if only a handful of people buy or read your book. Don’t brag too loudly about your fan club. There’s no reason to say anything. Keep that book in your goods box to give your grandkids. You wrote and published a book. How many others in your family are in print? Or your friends? You count.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

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Jun
2
2015

How to calculate your 2015 monthly Amazon-based royalties

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This was a gnarly problem earlier. Whether it was you alone closing your books at the end of the month or you had to calculate royalties for all of the authors in your publishing crew, it was a brainbuster to figure out where or how the Amazon outlets shared the good news.

It’s better now. It couldn’t be easier with Create Space, Amazon Advantage’s ordering process (which wants you to send them your 110%-worth books to sell at a 55% discount!) is about as confusing as one could devise, but tallying your monthly royalties (and sales) is simple enough now, and Kindle is somewhere in between.

All are slightly complicated by Kindle and Create Space’s overseas sales, with many of those purchases in strange currencies and no quick way to convert the conversion into US dollars. Plus the fact that the Kindle extra-US sales come in at odd times on separate checks.  It matters because if you’re the publisher you must figure out how much your writer gets from the royalties, after you figure out what the royalties are worth!

OK, how to make the calculations?

Create Space first. They send you the tally sheet by email at the end of each month, lovingly itemized. The information sent tells which books were sold, the quantity, the number returned, and the royalty percentage sent. That will be paid to you two months hence, so you needn’t even check the web tallies. CS will also tell you by email before that money is in fact deposited 60 days hence, so just check that the totals are the same. Start your check up at www.createspace.com.

Amazon Advantage is reached at https://advantage.amazon.com. Sign in and find the “Amazon.com Advantage Sales Payment Summary” to see how the process works, with diagrams! Find the sales summary of each month. Payments are made at the end of each month for the previous month’s sales. If, say, $400 is listed in the total payments box, see the SHOW link in the line above, open it, and it will tell you that Author A earned $200 (broken down by his/her products sold), B earned $100, and C, the other $100.) By the time you see those specifics, the $400 will already be deposited in your bank—and you will have been informed that a payment is being deposited, by email.

Kindle is a bit labyrinthine but it’s findable. This is where Amazon sells your digital products. Go to https://kdp.amazon.com and sign in. Find the word “reports” in the top bar,, then open up “Prior Month’s Royalties.” (It opens on the bottom of the page, so scroll down.) The total and itemized breakdown will be listed two months back (if it’s May, look for March) since they pay 60 days later. Again, go down the country itemizations to see if you are a big seller in other markets. Those sales will be deposited separately–it seems at random . Kindle sends you a cryptic email telling you of every deposit soon to be made.

That’s what we do. It’s all kind of a pain unless your books are healthy sellers, but the money spends nonetheless. (One alternative is to sell the books yourself on the street corner. Of course you could do both!)

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

P.S. A very profitable way to sell books directly to the most interested and benefitted buyers (usually at 100% value) is to practice the gilded art of niche publishing. See my book Niche Publishing: Publish Profitably Every Time, or other, directly focused products at our order form.

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May
21
2015

Also use Nook Press to publish your own book–free!

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I’ve been selling my e-books through Nook Press for four years and it’s a good way to get your book posted for sale at Barnes and Noble, which runs it. (Its platform was earlier known as Pubit!)

It’s probably the easiest free ebook press site to use. (The others most used are Kindle and Smashwords.) Simply go to Nook Press.com and there are three choices: E-Book Publishing, Print Books, and Help Services. If you want to publish and sell your books through them, go to the first. If you just want them to print your books, the second, and if you need help putting the book together, the third.

Just follow the submission directions in the publishing section, (My book,  How to Get Your Book Published Free in Minutes and Marketed Worldwide in Days, will ease your march through the steps, if needed.)

There are usually two perplexing areas in the free publishing formats: (1) who you can talk to–actually talk to, or at least type to and have them immediately type an answer back, and (2) how many copies have you sold, when, and when will those royalties be paid.

(1) Live assistance is great at Nook Press. If you have questions it will tell you where to go and how to do it immediately.

(2) Easy enough here too, if you remember that you get paid 60 days after sale and you are paid for all of that month’s total sales. For example, if you sold a book in March, you will be paid at the end of May. (They will send you an email telling you it is en route [to your bank account] at that time.) So if you sold $42 worth (say six books) in March, you will be paid the $42 at the end of May. Go to the SALES button and it will tell you the number of books sold the present month, how many were sold last month, and you can go down a list of previous months and it will tell you specifically which books were sold during those earlier 30-day periods. (There’s also a graph on the SALES page telling the number of books sold each of the past six months.)

I need that by-the-month information (in our example, for April) because it tells me exactly which six books were bought that month. That’s important to you if you have more than one ebook published by Nook Press. For me, I own a publishing company and I submit the books written by my five authors (see www.meetingk-12needs.com), plus me. So I need to know which books by which authors (and the royalty for each) they are paying. That’s so I can pass that royalty on to them.

That’s it. Consider adding Nook Press to your selling force. If nothing more, it’s another publisher in your growing in-print domain. Your kids will shriek with delight. So will your spouse when those additional royalties get heavy in your account!

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

P.S. If you want to read other comments, usually how-to, in the 400 or so blogs at this site about any of the “open publishing” sites, go to the SEARCH box at the top, right, of the first page of this blog and type in the publisher’s name (one at a time). The blogs will be lined up for you to read! What are the other related publishing outlets you might want to know about? Try Nook, Kindle, Smashwords, BookBaby, Create Space, Amazon, Lightning Source, Lulu, Scribd, Blurb, iBooks, and Kobo.

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May
10
2015

Can you use a pseudonym for publishable articles?

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Sure, I suppose in print you could call yourself Superperson or Cicero or anybody you want to. And if you own the publication, it might be fine.

In fact, there are times when I would indeed use a pseudonym. Like if I was a deacon writing porno, rest assured I’d change my name. Or if a fanged maniac was loose on the nearby streets and he was overdue on his serial schedule, I’d at least change a few letters in my surname–and apologize later.

But at least 99% of the time, or more, the question would be “Why?” The first person to ask you that would be the editor–“Why do you want to do that?” (A couple of the editors I wrote for would probably have suggested, rather than a pen name, I might disguise myself by dressing up like a decent citizen–or be inconspicuous by wearing just one sideburn.)

I know that when you write novels they want you to use the same name for the whole series. Folks buy as often as not for the author’s name–they expect the same high (or low) quality for all the books in that category. However, if you use your own name to write the “Manly Man Murder Mysteries,” they will surely want an entirely different name for, say, a group of knitting manuals.

There’s a financial issue too. If you’re Betty Smith and your by-line is Jennie Jones, unless the editor knows about the name replacement, your check will be made out to Jennie Jones–and that check can be a hassle to cash!

Two more considerations: (1) the editor may question your sanity if there’s no reason for the writer not to be you, and (2) he/she may wonder what you are trying to hide by not taking responsibility for the copy you want released, like is it unprovable, a flat-out lie, an exaggeration beyond the pale, out-and-out libel, or too badly written to want your own name attached.

Finally, if you are trying to build up your writing reputation by increasing your volume in print, switching from Ed to Ted to Red to Betty sounds counterproductive.

So, if you want to use a pseudonym, at least clear it with the editor. They need a good laugh now and then. Tell them you saw it done on a television show.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

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Apr
28
2015

What do you do if a promised article interviewee finks out?

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If you are writing a one-interview piece, a sort of bio plus, and the fink is the purpose of the article, apologize to the editor as soon as possible. You needn’t make excuses for the person but do try to reschedule it right away…

Since queries very often suggest interviewing three people to get differing viewpoints, if one backs out at interview time, find another person to substitute who is equally as well informed. Tell the editor what you did and why, and try to maintain the same pro-con-middle balance if that’s what’s expected… Do you tell #2 that he/she is second choice and the first choice ratted out? If it’s well known that there was a #1 choice, of course. They will find out anyway and wonder why you weren’t more straightforward. But if it’s still early in the planning stages, probably not. As usual, it depends…

You might ask the editor if they have a suggested replacement for the absentee if the piece is due far enough in the future–or if travel is involved. Or offer to find a substitute and check it with the editor–preferably before.

Don’t promise the editor that you will interview the Queen for your piece unless the Queen has agreed…any queen! Then don’t dawdle. But don’t panic unless the person is that caliber or is super reclusive. The world (1) will not stop spinning, and (2) is full of well-informed folk who love to talk and will be delighted to see their words and wisdom in print, even if that wisdom is questionable.

Sometimes editors get excited about a highlight series of interviews. Some years back I wrote about 15 articles related to animal orientation–dogs, cats, goats, and so on finding their way home over long distances. It was a new discipline and almost all of the top human experts in the field were alive and active. The author of a key magazine was enthusiastic too, and suggested that we pose about five central questions and ask each to reply, separately, in different articles. Unfortunately, once the schedule was ready, the questions were defined, and press drum rolls were an issue away from stirring up excitement in the readers about the coming special features, reality set in. They each wanted to know what the others were going to say first! Then Z wanted B (nobody knew who he was) included–if Z was going to participate. And C would only do it, with reluctance it seemed, if the pay was enough. At which point the editor shook her head (or so I imagine; we never met) and within months the leaders started getting too old, too forgetful, or too dead–and the editor and I were off somewhere else.

There’s another point worth sharing here. Figure out the best way to conduct the interview, for you and them. During most of my article days it was either by phone or in person, though now it can also be done by Skype or other visual means. I found that the more famous the person was, the more they didn’t want a one-on-one talk–unless TV or video were involved. So phone was it. Politicians were the reverse: true flesh-pressers. The wariest and prissiest were the academics, and the weariest were the athletes, often exhausted trying to find different, intelligible, clean answers to the two or three worthwhile questions you might ask them. And a personal bias, since I interviewed in Spanish and Portuguese too: in person, please. That was a double win, though, because I got to meet and see them laugh as well.

Just some scattered thoughts. Hope they help.

Gordon Burgett

P.S. I have several other “interviewing” blogs here. To read them, just write “interview” in the search box at the top of any blog–and all will probably appear. (In fact, you can do that with other themes or words too. A great time-saver for all.)

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