The Limits of 10X​ Growth for Solopreneurs

At some point, the 10X rule stops working if you are a Solopreneur.

Say you are an artist, writer, blogger, YouTuber, musician, designer, tutor, baker, and so on. (Someone without the long leverage of new technology or capital. Which would be most of us.) 

Say you just published your first blog or released your first song. Or you printed your first t-shirt design. Or wrote the first chapter of your book. Or, recorded the first podcast. Or, sold the first bracelet through Etsy.

Say you get some interests. You get some sales. You see some tractions. A glimmer of hope. A tribe of like-minded humans. A possibility of a business of your own. Someday.

The 10X Growth Rule

The 10X growth rule would mean: 1 x 10 = 10 blogs/songs.

(i.e. 10 times more profit or paying customers or fans)

You do the second round of 10X rule. You work hard, you get professional. You invest your own money into your venture. You take a shot on yourself.

10 x 10 = 100 blogs/songs

(i.e. you are definitely having some sales and some notoriety)

You do a third iteration of the 10X rule.

100 x 10 = 1000 blogs or vlogs or songs or designs or books (chapters/stories)?

As you can see, it’s getting harder now. You are definitely playing in the middle of the bell curve. You have found a product-market fit. You have data. You have insights from the mistakes you have made.

You know what’s working and what will not work. But you are at your full capacity.

Still a Solopreneur

The truth is you are still a Solopreneur. You are still hustling. On your own. You are doing okay but you don’t know if you will make it through the end of this “hustle tunnel”.

You have high hopes but you also have doubts. You need capital. You need miracles. You need grace.

Because the 10X rule will not work for you anymore. Not unless you take on VC money or a bank loan and hire a bunch of people. (Because you need a bigger pool of customers. You need more demand from your existing customers. And, all this takes money. Something you don’t have, yet.)

And though all of that is possible, and you know you can do it, the questions remain, will you make it BIG after the next 10X?

What does it look like after the fourth iteration of 10X growth?

Let’s apply it to your business or blog or fanbase. Let’s calculate:

1000 x 10 = 10,000 blogs/customers/podcasts/products/so on

Though the 10K mark looks impressive, it may not be enough. So you need to make a critical decision now. Should you grow and take outside money and build a team.

Or, should you keep it running your business/project as a hobby? (After all, 1000 true fans is all you need, according to Kevin Kelly.)

A Mediocre Success is Worse

If you stay at the 1000 mark, you are playing in the long tail of everything. You won’t have the financial freedom this way. You will NEVER be able to quit your day job. You will never be financially and emotionally independent. You will never own your own calendar. You will never realize your dreams!

But, if you take a leap of faith and go for the next phase of growth, you will be tested by everything and everyone. The market will test you. Your family will test you. Your customers will test you. Your faith in your idea will test you.

You’ll have to work incredibly hard. You’ll have to cut all distractions. You will have to get dead-serious. You’ll need all the faith and hope that you can muster. You need all the allies and friends and partners that you can make. You’ll need an incredible amount of patience and inner calm or your ship will burn midway.

Say, you are able to cross the chasm. Say you make it through. Now, you have won the trust of your investors, partners, family, your customers, and fans, and above all, your own self.

Now you feel bolder. Maybe even a little aggressive. You are thinking the unthinkable. You are thinking of the 5th phase of 10X growth.

10,000 x 10 = 100,000

At this point, it makes sense to go all in. After all, if you can command a size this significant in any market or niche, you will always have positive cash flow.

You are no longer a Soloprenuer. You have a business. Your team size may be very small, but you definitely have made it. You may quit your day job now. You may decide to do this for the rest of your life.

You have grown as a person. You have grown a business that brings in net profit. You have survived which 9 out of 10 entrepreneurs won’t. And above all, you are just getting started.

Actually, (and paradoxically), it gets easier from here. You can take on more investments. You can grow your team by a factor of 10. And you can actually go shoot for a 6th and maybe even 7th phase of 10X rule.

In phase 6, you are at a million mark. In phase 7, you are at 10 million mark.

However, the question remains, will you or your business/platform/paying customers/etc. get to the 4th growth phase?

Can you transition from 1,000 to 10,000? If you are a Solopreneur? Can you pull in $100,000 in profits (or even in revenues)?

If the market is showing the signs, then you should go all in. Because this is the hardest jump you’ll ever make on your journey to being a successful entrepreneur.

But first, you must find your 1000 true fans. Take as much time it takes to get to this point. It will be worth it in the end.

Read More

PS: If you liked this analysis, follow me for more such in-depth blogs directly shared on my blog. If you are looking for a personal/life/business coach, I am available for hire.

PPS: Please leave your thoughts in the comments below. I would love to hear your perspectives and experiences.

Being a Salaried Employee vs. an Entrepreneur

Oftentimes we talk about being our own boss and dream of being a self-employed entrepreneur or a lifestyle business owner.

We talk about making lots of money, about quitting our boring day jobs, and early retirement?

We aspire about starting a lifestyle business and later perhaps someday even turning it into a billion-dollar empire! 

Not all career ladders go up, some are just flat 😉

Employee vs. Entrepreneur

But, have you ever wondered what would be a better course of action for you? Being a salaried employee or being a small business owner? Perhaps, the best answer depends on our particular situations and where we are in our life.

Let’s say, you are a small business owner. Whether you have an online store or you are hustling as a Solopreneur.

Small Business Owner

Say you work as a contractor (or are self-employed, for example as an uber driver).

Say, you make $40/hour and work 40 hours/week. That’s ~ $84,000 USD per year. Sounds like a lot of money, right?

But, do you realize:

You’ll be taxed 22% off that money by the Federal government

You’ll be taxed 5% off the remaining by your State government

5% will be gone into your health insurance

5% extra will be taken to match your share of Social Security and Medicare Taxes

10% of the money will go on gas, car insurance & maintenance, & other business expenses

10% will be spent on comfort good or eating out because of stress

20% of that money will be gone in unexpected emergencies and/or later years health care costs as you get older

25% will be gone in rent and utilities if you choose to live *modestly*

The Long Term Outcome

This leaves you with 0% money for investments, education (self-improvement), travel, and other life events (weddings, etc.) or life emergencies.

Now, knowing this and giving this some more thoughts, would you still do it? Would you still drive for Uber or start a small business?

If so, what would you change and how would you split your expenses and which investments and savings decisions you would make?

You don’t have to be a slave or a drone

Now let’s say you are a 9-to-5 slave to your stable biweekly paycheck. Let’s see what happens in this case.

A Salaried Drone

Say, you make $84,000 a year. Say, you get 2 weeks of paid vacation, paid okay healthcare coverage, and a 3% match on 401K contribution.

Let’s say you live in the city as the above example and your transportation, utilities and rent expenses are the same.

This means, you are spending the same money as in the above situation BUT, you are getting:

  1. Ten days of paid vacations + 10 paid national holidays each year (Read: this is your opportunity for having a paid vacation)
  2. You are saving 5% of your income on healthcare because it’s provided by your employer
  3. You are getting 3% extra income-bonus through your employer’s 401k match, and also you are forced into saving at least 6% – 10% of your income each paycheck
  4. You are not contributing double taxes in Social Security and Medicare taxes because your employer is paying it for you
  5. Because of life and income stability, you are less worried and therefore you can afford to make a plan about bringing lunch from home, not eating out, and even putting some money towards an emergency savings account.

What would you do? Which path will you take? Would you rather be an unhappy 9-to-5er or will you try to strike your own destiny?

Are you an employee or an entrepreneur? Why/why-not?

Distillation of Zero to One by Peter Thiel (On How to Build the Future)

Photo Credit: Sarah Doody
Many of you may have already read “Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future” by Peter Thiel. Some of you may not have got the chance to read it yet. I recommend adding it to your reading list.
 
(It’s a great read and also a prism to look inside Thiel’s mind, one of the smartest Silicon Valley entrepreneur).
 
This is not a book review or a summary. These quotes are my own thoughts which is the direct result of pondering over the core message of the book. In this post, I am going to basically share what I learned from this book and what thoughts best summarizes the essence of ‘Zero to One’.

Zero to One by Peter Thiel

  1. Because of the forward moving, linear nature of time, every moment happens only once.
  2. Create something new. When you create something new, you have a monopoly on it until you are defeated by your copy-cats.
  3. One superpower of technology is “ability to scale exponentially”.
  4. What is ‘your’ truth?
  5. Understating the difference between exponential (0 to 1, x^n) and linear (x to n) is key to business success. Ability to execute/build/invent a process that scales exponentially is the ‘key’ job of the founding team.
  6. Linear progress is horizontal. Exponential progress is orthogonal or vertical.
  7. It gets harder and harder to innovate as your organization gets bigger and bigger.
  8. The best advertisement spend is paying directly to your clients. Giving away a free product or service or even hard cash for joining/subscribing.
  9. A bad plan that is in execution is better than a good plan with no execution. Having a (bad) plan is better than having no plan at all.
  10. Selling the product/service is just as important as creating the product/service.
  11. If your market is competitive, your focus should be on market share acquisition and not on profit. Profit margin and competitive market don’t go together. Competition by definition destroys every competitors’ profits.
  12. Standing for yourself and thinking for yourself doesn’t mean ‘opposing’ the crowd. Opposing is an act. All acts cost attention, time, and energy.
  13. Your market is your core offering. The key functionality of your core product or service. Your competition is likely the whole market (and not necessarily the niche you serve.) For example, an Indian restaurant in New York is not only in competition to other Indian restaurants in New York but all restaurants in New York. The primary offering of a restaurant is feeding people who don’t want to cook at home.
  14. In business, sales are the most important thing. If you have a novel product, you also need an effective sales strategy. Product and Sales are both equally important. A successful business “must” have both.
  15. Sales, in essence, is all about finding a distribution channel that works. For a business to survive, all it needs is one successful product distribution channel. By this definition, the most profitable company in any market has the biggest distribution channels. (Note: It’s not the product but sales we are talking about.)
  16. It is better to be in the business in a very large market than to be a monopoly in a very small niche. By growing your market share in a very large market you can make more money but in a very small market where you are already a monopoly, you can’t grow without increasing the prices and therefore inviting new competition and destroying your monopoly.
  17. In a capitalist system, every business (no matter how large or small) fights for survival each day. Any day could be the beginning of their end.
  18. A creative business keeps their clients by keep creating and offering new categories of products.
  19. A business fails when it fails to escape competition. It’s capitalistic evolution. The survival of the fittest.
  20. All successful private companies in the world are successful because they each solve a unique problem and own a large chunk (monopoly) of their market.
  21. If you can’t beat your rival, merge with your rival or merge with other smaller rivals to become the biggest.
  22. Growth can be measured in a short timeline. Endurance (durability) can only be measured in the long term.
  23. Before starting a business or investing in one, always ask, “Will this business be still around in a decade from now? In 30 years from now? In 100 years from now?”
  24. If you have existing competition, a good rule of thumb is, it will take you to be 10X better than the current market leader (in the core offering) to be able to lead to a successful and enduring monopoly of your own.
  25. There are four ways to get 10X lead over your prime competitor: inventing something new, or creating a new market, or creating a 10X better product, or offering a 10X better UX. Ideally, you should have at least 2 of the four.
  26. To gain 10X lead over your most fierce competitor, you have to focus on one key product (one opportunity) and get 10X better there first. Dominate a small (key) market first then expand from there. (50% of $10M market > 1% of 1B market)
  27. A successful founding team is one where a core group of people is able to provide value to millions of other people. One to very many.
  28. To find the ideal business opportunity, look for ‘adjacent possible’ in the technology landscape. Adjacent possible is usually the intersection between two brand new technological developments.
  29. Nothing great is achieved without a great team. It’s a myth that you can go far alone.
  30. The challenge of creating network effect is making your product useful to its very first users (when the network is still so tiny that it doesn’t derive any value from its size or connectivity).
  31. Part-time employees are essentially consultants. Consultants are essentially part-time employees.
  32. Think how every employee can have the skin in the game? Perhaps, to start, offer to pay part salary, part equity or part bonus based on annual revenue. Those who prefer equity over cash, demonstrate long-term commitment. Those who prefer bonus or percentage of revenue from direct sales over cash show they have trust in their skill and are committed to hard work.
  33. The most productive companies define specific roles for each team member. Defining roles reduces future conflict and miscommunication.
  34. When you have identified a problem or market need that no one is working on, have a head start and innovate faster than anyone else that may come after you by essentially copying you.
  35. The 21st century has made it super easier to start a new business and incredibly difficult to succeed in one.
  36. It’s better to be the employee #17 at a unicorn startup than to be the CEO of “Hey, I Am Open For The Business Too”.
  37. Nothing lasts. Monopolies don’t last forever. Empires don’t last. Countries don’t last.
Now, let’s go and build something meaningful.
 
PS: If you liked this article and my take on Zero to One by Peter Thiel, then please let me know if you would like me to cover other books. If so, any recommendations? Thank you.
 
PPS: Spot any error/typo? Please let me know in the comments and thanks for catching.
 
Read Next: You may also like my take on Meta Learning.

Each Social Media Explained In One Sentence

Today, we live in the age of social media. We are connected with one another over several digital mediums. Some social platforms make it easy to follow influencers while some are good at keeping in touch with family and old high school friends.

How would you define each social media platform? I have given this a lot of thought and based on my past several years of personal experience with each one of them, here is my take on the big four social media platforms in as few words as possible.

Facebook

Facebook connects you with people you already know.

Twitter

Twitter helps you connect with people you don’t know yet.

Instagram

Instagram connects you with a community where you are constantly inspired to be your best self.

YouTube

YouTube is the largest TV network for millennials by millennials.

Social Media Explained

Facebook is similar to Family. You don’t get to choose much. It comes in full package, with joy and stress, laughter and gossip, warmth and judgment.

Twitter is similar to college life. You have several groups of friends tied via common interests, goals or classes. You constantly make new friends and drop those who are not best for you. Like college life, Twitter is full of activism, politics, technology, and various hobbies.

Instagram is like being single and looking for romantic partners. There is no time and space for long BS or silly jokes. You constantly seek to self-improve. You are made jealous of others accomplishments, great shape, looks, popularity, and lifestyle. In return, you try to do your best and as a result, at the end of the day, you also get better. Instagram makes you date-ready.

YouTube is nothing less than the largest TV network on the planet. There are billions of shows in every possible genre and any length imaginable. This TV network is not only for consuming entertainment and music or finding food recipes or how-to-tutorials but also a platform which allows anyone to become a film producer and creator. YouTube allows its users to play with their creativity and experiment. Best of all, it also pays you money to do your thing.

A Perfect Blog Is Like A Perfect human Body

I have been on the Internet now for more than 18 years now. And, I have been blogging for the past 12 years. Starting from the Google Groups, Yahoo Groups, Blogger blogs, WordPress blogs, to Facebook Notes to the many aggregated blog platforms.
Eventually, for me, this long journey reached its first significant milestone with the launch of “The Naked Soul” blog in 2015. The next major milestone was the launch of “The Art of Travel” blog in 2016. The third big milestone for me was the launch of my eCommerce site,  The Art of Travel Store, in 2017.
This may seem like a long time, but I feel we are in the beginning stages of a really long journey. Eventually, all humans and many A.I machines will have their own blogs, eCommerce store, biodata, resumes, medical history, and other details, all online, for anyone to access at any time, based on access level.
 
But my today’s blog is not about A.I. or the future of the Internet. Today, I want to talk about the perfect blog.The anatomy of a perfect blog. What makes a blog perfect?

A Perfect Blog

A healthy and successful blog is like a perfect human body. It has strong bones, healthy blood, lots of muscles, some fat, beautiful face, is attractive, has great skin, and has healthy-functioning joints. It is flexible. It is adaptable. It is resilient. Above all, it is living and growing.
 
I’ll take the example of my own blog here, The Art of Travel blog.
 
The Art of Travel is a baby right now. It is growing fast. It is healthy and it is cute but it is far from perfect or matured. Let’s note, it’s only an 18 months old baby right now.
 
The FREE Destination Travel Guides on our blog is its Bones.
The hundreds of Blogs are its Blood.
All the Content on the blog is its Meat and juicy Fat.
The formatting and structure is its Skin.
The Home Page is its beautiful Face.
The hundreds of internal hyperlinks in our blog’s thousands of pages are its Joints.
 
For this baby to grow into a strong, matured, perfect human adult, we are working to make its BONES strong. The thousands of FREE Travel Destination Guides need to be expanded and showcase the best and most gorgeous photos from each destination.
Like a human skeleton, these bones (destination guides) connect to each other and form sections (Asia, Europe, Australia, etc.)
 
Our current focus on the Travel Blog is building muscles and adding some “Meat” and “Juicy Fat” to it. The several hundreds of blogs that we are planning to publish each year are just that. It’s like adding meat to the skeleton. More blogs, more juicy stories, more topics are like making this blog work out and build up.
 
The Internal Hyperlinking Project (similar to Wikipedia structure) is making sure all Joints are properly linked and functioning. The more joints a body has, the more flexible, bendable and adaptable it becomes.
 
The Skin (formatting) and Face (home page) are already healthy and glowing. We are just ensuring that this shine stays.
 
A healthy blog is never complete. It is always growing. And, we will keep it growing.
 
That’s it. This is “the Secret” of giving birth to a winning blog, a healthy and growing blog. This is how we are planning to raise this The Art of Travel baby. This is it. This is all. 
 
PS: I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on what you think is the best way to grow and build a perfect blog. Please comment below.

The Ultimate Thesis On How To Crush It On Social Media

How to crush it on the social media? Today’s customers and fans expect every brand to be on the socials. And most brands are. We are. But, how do our fans judge us? What are the criteria that determine which pages, personalities, or accounts get followed or which brands are cooler?

I have found that there are three critical criteria.

Social Authority

What’s the first thing you notice when you stumble upon a brand’s social page? The number of followers it has? Right! Why do we look at this number and why is it important? It’s important because we unconsciously judge a brand by its existing social reach and authority. The bigger it is, the more trust it has.

If a million people follow a particular t-shirt company, then their t-shirts must be good. So we must also follow them to see what they have got and how can it benefit me! A big follower count matters! It demonstrates dominance and most people want to cheer for the winning player!

Social Engagement

Soon after when are back to the reality and the flashing light of big numbers fade into the background, we look for who else is excited to be part of this brand’s community? What’s their story? Who all are commenting and what are they saying? Or, am I the only one excited here until I move on to the next one.

If a brand page has half-a-million followers but no one is talking in the comments, and no one is sharing, then something is wrong. Either the brand doesn’t care about its community or the community doesn’t care about the brand. Either way, it’s just a bunch of inactive people clumped together without their consent or awareness. May be they were bought! May be they were trapped by false advertisements or giveaways! Who knows, but, this brand doesn’t look trustworthy!

Immediately your mind will go, “may be they [these fans] were bought! May be they were trapped by false advertisements or giveaways! Who knows, but, this brand doesn’t look trustworthy!”

So, as a brand, you need constant engagement to sell your story to a new prospect and to keep the current ones engaged! What could be better than to make your community part of your brand’s story? Think about it!

Advertisement vs. Entertainment

Ok, yes, I like these fan pages but that doesn’t mean my existence is for the consumption of their products. We need fun. More of it. The last criteria that we use to filter who to follow and who to unfollow is by how much advertisement they push upon us vs. how much valuable information or entertainment they share that engages me. It’s all about the value add!

What benefit am I getting by following this brand? Are they inspiring me? Do they have solutions or answers to my problems or questions? Are they affordable? Are they high quality and better than their competitors? Lastly, do they care about me as a human being or are they treating us as a marketplace for their damn marketing!?

Lastly, do they care about me as a human being or are they treating us as a marketplace for their dumb marketing!? As a brand, you must answer to these and make sure you are positioned in the best possible way!

Treat your fans with respect and love! If you truly care for them, then show it to them by sharing your best content, information, videos, Infographics, etc. for FREE! Then, go for selling and even then keep it to a minimum! Let your fans come to you for a purchase. You want to pull them with your story, not push them through excessive marketing!

Thanks for reading! You have a beautiful day!

10 Years Business Plan and 1 Million Dollars A Year Income

the right way to do anything

Today, I am going to reveal my 10 years plan. As many of you (those who are regular on the Naked Soul blog) know we started this community to connect like minded individuals around the concept of “naked soul” in summer of 2014. This blog was launched in Oct 2014.

I published the Naked Soul, book I (a collection of erotic love poems) in January 2015. We started the Naked Soul Podcast in November 2015 and here we are today. It’s already April 2016.

2015 was a great year for me. But 2016 came with disappointments. My dad was diagnosed with stage IV stomach cancer and I went to care for him full-time for almost 3 months. I stopped the podcast series, stopped blogging, stopped writing and did not get paid for almost 2 months.

I had to borrow huge amount of money from my relatives to pay for my father’s medical bills. It was brutal to say the least. Emotionally I was at my all-time low and the entire first three months of 2016 was just painful and exhausting.

After I returned back to my normal life (not sure if I am truly back to my normal state of being), I started to write and blog aggressively. I am re-starting the Naked Soul podcast and working on publishing my second book (a poetry book on a spiritual theme). Sign up for Naked Soul VIP letters to get notified when it comes out.

Okay, so coming back to main topic for today’s blog. I was assessing my standing, my expenses around running this blog, podcast among other things and my income statement today. I have to admit, things do not look over-the-top, but I do see a trend here and a viable options to create a million dollar a year company which adds probably over 100 folds in value in return to the naked soul community and society in general.

I started The Art of Travel project which we would be launching soon next month. We separated Health & Fitness and Travel from the Naked Soul and created separate YouTube channels, blogs, social media accounts, and so on. So, now, our vision and messaging is even more clear and focused.

Although, traveling to explore your inner self, staying healthy so you can be of service to others and living like a naked soul are all related. Yet, we decided it is better to separate the three so that we can serve each communities within our larger community better and effectively.

What I wanted to tell you though is you can do this too.

I am going to outline my plan and revenue streams. I have written about some of these income streams in my other blog posts so make sure to read them. I won’t be repeating anything in this blog post. Everything is new and fresh. We want to take a step forward.

To cross $100K in yearly income and to hit 7 figure income you first need to plan out your long term financial goals.
Following is my financial goal as a whole (which includes The Naked Soul, The Art of Travel, & Fit Couple Goals):
Year 1 2015 $500 (yes, I made only $500 in my first year)
Year 2 2016 $2500 (5X growth)
Year 3 2017 $20,000 (10X groth)
Year 4 2018 $60,000 (3X growth)
Year 5 2019 $120,000 (2X growth) (one person retires)
Year 6 2020 $250,000 (2X growth) (both person retires) 
Year 7 2021 $450,000 (1.8X growth)
Year 8 2022 $675,000 (1.5X growth)
Year 9 2023 $875,000 (1.3X growth)
Year 10 2024 $1,052,000 (1.2X growth)
What is X factor here?
The X denotes the times or multiplier. So for example, 5X growth means five fold growth or growing 5 times. Similarly, 1.5X means growing 150% or one and half times compared to the previous year.
Income sources
There are several ways you can bring in revenue. Some of these income sources bring in revenue for me today and some don’t. But as your community matures you can can be sure that all of these revenue sources will bring in some cash flow for the engine to keep running.
You need cash flow or else your engine will shut down. So, you have to plan this out from the early on.
(In no perticular order)
  • Blog ads
  • YouTube ads
  • Book sales
  • Podcast ads
  • Merchandise/Other Products
  • Speaking fee
  • Online Courses, Webinars, & Trainings
  • Private Consulting
  • Affiliate Income
  • Freelancing
  • Investment
  • Jobs/Gigs
There is a good chance that you are either a freelancer or a employee somewhere meaning you have a job (full time or part time). The first step is to bring in enough cash so you can safely exit and begin serving your community full time. To grow something into a self-sustainable business, you have to give your 100%.
And you can’t give your 100% if you work 8 am to 6 pm. Can you? Well, not really then read: learn how you can grow when working 8 to 6 is your only option. I was there. Been there, done that. 
My main objective is to replace my current private consulting income and begin engaging in full time entrepreneurship.
And, by year 10 (i.e. by year 2024), I want the enterprise to cross cross 7 figures in revenue. Well, revenue is not same as income, but that would be sufficient to grow these communities world-wide.  
Next, I will suggest you to draw the vision board for the next 2 years, 3 years, 5 years and 10 years. I did that. This is a very important step. Don’t skip it. Spend a lot of time creating your vision board.
Next, like ours, your biggest challenge is going to be the first three years, 2016-2018. 
But, having said that, after you have created and spent time absorbing your vision boards, just FOCUS on hitting the 2016 goal for now. Just focus on Year 1. That’s it.
Our 2016 goal is to bring in $2000. You can set a different number. It can be $100 of passive income. Or it can be $10,000 of side income in year 1. Again, it doesn’t matter. You decide and then plan it out according to the formula that I have just shown you above.
So where are we in 2016?
So far in 2016, we have made, $490 (Naked Soul YouTube) + $20 (Art of Travel YouTube) + $20 (Fit Couple Goals YouTube) + $380 (print book sales) + $200 (kindle) + $170 (Naked Soul Blog)  = $1280
$ Made = $1290 (in 120 days)
Target by Dec 31, 2016 = $2500
$ to Hit Target = $1220 (246 days to go)

I am totally confident that we are going to hit our goal.

If you noticed, one trick is to set a realistic goal; a goal that you are likely to hit and one which is not easy either. This way you won’t feel disappointed if you fail because you won’t fail too far off (if you fail at all). The point is not to avoid failure but to really hit your target. 

And, if you succeed, your small success will act as a motivation for you. This will make you more likely to work harder for your next year goal.

Let me know if you any questions? I would be happy to answer anything you may want to ask me.

Take care for now and stay tuned for The Art of Travel. It is a beautiful, beautiful website with a lot of great essays, entertaining videos, inspiring pictures from around the world, travel tips & hacks and more.

Instagram Tips: How To Succeed On Instagram

“Last spring, Forrester analyzed more than 3 million user interactions with more than 2,500 brand posts on seven social networks.

 

Unfortunately those brands achieved less than a 0.1 percent engagement rate on six out of the seven platforms, including Facebook and Twitter.
Instagram posts, however, generated a per-follower engagement rate of 4.21 percent. That means the app delivered brands 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter. Let’s look at a real life example of this difference.

This week, Red Bull posted a photo of Lindsey Vonn on both Facebook and Instagram. Currently, the brand’s 45 million Facebook fans had liked the photo just about 20,000 times, while its 2.2 million Instagram followers had liked the photo nearly 70,000 times.”

Instagram Tips

So what does this mean? Seven social platforms analyzed. It means, Vine, Periscope, and Snapchat included. Your effort should be more on Instagram than other social media. Instagram for writers or artists means:
1. Make good art consistently (which many of us love to do). Write, record audio, music, paint, draw, sing, dance, talk, whatever you do
2. Turn your art into poems, quotes, pictures, videos
3. Post them (in fact, post more frequently 4x/day)
4. Cut videos, audio, music into 15 sec or less frame & post as videos or slideshows
5. Engage with comments and other users
6. Reply to relevant DMs
7. DM other Instagram users and build a team/network of friends 
8. Collaborate and do S4S (shout for shout)
9. Unofficially advertise on Instagram through other big accounts
10. Officially advertise on Instagram through Facebook

Currently, many of us are not doing a lot of these steps in our Instagram marketing and outreach.
What do you think? Can you suggest some game plan on how someone can become more efficient in using Instagram without spending more time? Read my detailed post on Instagram:

How To Get From Zero to A Celebrity Status (Hacking Instagram Growth). 10 Tips On More Followers, Likes & Comments.

How To Succeed On Instagram

1. Post Regularly: Whether it is an old post or something small (and interesting), post regularly. You can think of recycling here.  If you have 500 posts on your Instagram, that means, you can recycle easily at the rate of 1 old post per day. That’s huge. It basically means, if you simply repost your old posts, you can literally continue to do so for one year at the rate of 1 post per day.

2. Theme: You can create a simple background theme for each of your writing we post. This strategy is widely adopted by most of the users with more than 30k followers.

3. Data & Science: Remember, according to one study done with 30 featured images on Instagram out of 8 million total, Curalate found:

  • Bright and high light generates 24% more likes than darker images.
  • Images with plenty of background white space generate 29% more likes than those with minimal space.
  • Images featuring blue as the dominant color generate 24% more likes than images that are predominantly red.
  • A single dominant color generates 17% more likes than images with multiple dominant colors.
  • High levels of texture generate 79% more likes. (Think about this one!)

The point here is not to copy these strategies but to test it out for your content and your audience. Try and test different things. And then stick with the winning strategy.

Comment below! What do you think? What would you like me to cover next?

 

###

How To Build A Successful YouTube Brand

Earlier this year, I deleted most of the irreverent videos from The Naked Soul YouTube as I want to take Naked Soul more towards the literary, self-help, and podcast domain.

Build A Successful YouTube Brand

This is what happened in the past 12 months and what I learned from it.

1. My Naked Soul subscriber count went up from 1200 to 1682. My watch time went up by 182,000 minutes monthly and 62,000 views monthly from 30,000 views/100,000 minutes in the past.

On the flip side, my earning went down from $100 monthly to $66 despite doubling my views. Why? Maybe AdWords is becoming competitive. This is bad news for every Youtuber, by the way.

2. By using custom thumbnails, I was able to grow my Fitness YouTube by 700% in just past 3 weeks. (See picture attached with my notes).

 

3. By uploading videos consistently, I was able to increase the view time for my Travel channel. (screenshot attached)

YouTube Video Marketing

1. When I did not use custom thumbnails, our total Fit Couple YouTube view was 50 for the first 3 months (Jan – Mar). After I created and upload custom thumbnails for each video, my views went up to 350 in just past 2-3 weeks. That is almost 700% growth.

2. Fit Couple Goals uses custom thumbnails on all of the videos. 12 subs and 350 views, 10 likes, no dislike, videos getting added to several dozen playlists — all good signs. Mainly because of catchy titles and thumbnail.

3. My Travel channel does not effectively uses the thumbnail technique (not yet) and therefore is suffering view counts and click-thru-rate (CTR) despite having more subscribers and total # of videos. 23 subscribers and only 400 views. Also notice, only 5 likes and less videos in playlists. Why? I guess, not having catchy title and video cover (i.e video thumbnail).

 

4. It takes time and creativity to write a good catchy video title, descriptive description, meta tags to maximize the video’s SEO and finally, a nice catchy thumbnail is the icing on the top. This is essential for YouTube success.

5. From my notes on the screenshot, you can see how adding a lot of new videos helped The Art of Travel to gain average watch time, total views, and total view time. So, that’s a good thing.

6. On the other hand, more interestingly, Fit Couple Goals did not add as many new videos but see the spike in total views after I uploaded custom thumbnails for each video. See the above screenshot for details.

Your YouTube Brand

What does this all mean? I have something interesting to share with you all (in my next post) but first I would like to hear your thoughts and opinions. What do you think is the future of YouTube videos vs. Facebook video? YouTube like revenue sharing with users or Facebook like total control over revenue from advertisements.

Facebook sells advertisements to its users and keeps 100% of the revenue. Due to low organic reach FB is no longer the first choice for entrepreneurs or new advertisers. On the other hand, YouTube has been sharing revenue with content creators and has finally turned a good profit.

Also, what about Vine and Instagram? Snapchat? Periscope? All of these platforms allows the users to broadcast and post videos of various length. Should you and your brand be on all of these platforms? My first response to this is “Yes!”

But is it that simple? Or is it even needed of you to be everywhere with your video content.

These and other questions similar to the ones I have pointed above is currently being brewed in my mind’s lab. Check out back in few weeks for part 2 of this interesting discussion. For now, bombard me with your comments! 

 

###

The Top 6 Challenges of Growing a Blog and Social Presence

As I come close to launching The Art of Travel (as one of the biggest travel & wanderlust brand in August of 2016), it is time to look back at The Naked Soul journey and figure out what have I learned and how am I going to apply these lessons to my travel venture.

Challenges of Growing a Blog

Here are the top 6 challenges that I faced while running The Naked Soul blog. These challenges are not unique to my situation. You can relate to them (irrespective of your domain) and can hopefully even learn from my mistakes.
 
1. Team: To succeed in any business, you need a great team.
Lesson: We built a team when I launched The Naked Soul and we were able to produce great results. But, due to the tight budget and marketing mistakes, I had to cut down on team and I went solo for almost rest half of 2015. I was still running the engine but the growth was slow. Time is the most precious commodity and we lack time the most. With a team, you can better manage the vast amount of tasks that needs to be done. (Team = Having More Time.)
 
2. Content: Content consistency is the most important factor for success.
Lesson: We know by now that producing daily content is the way to go. On the blog, on social media, everywhere. You need to create a schedule, publish it, build expectations and then stick to it.
For the blog, publish every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. For YouTube, publish every weekend, for Podcast, record and publish atleast twice each week. On social medial, publish daily and even multiple times each day. You can’t cut corners here and expect growth in traffic.
 
3. Budget: Money can be helpful but it can also be harmful.
Lesson: When I was launching the book, I set aside $10,000 for marketing. If I had a smaller budget, we would have been more successful. Actually, having a big budget harmed me both financially and creatively. We spent money wherever we thought we should without any data to backup our wild expectations. I was thinking I can push the book up in sales ranking by heavily advertising. I was everywhere and a lot of people did notice the book. But they did not buy it. On pinterest alone, half a million ad impressions were made. The reason was I was a no-name, first time author with a tiny platform. I could have used the money to produce my second and third books. I could have used the money to create more quality content. I could have used the money to hire a VA for the entire year.
 
4. Design: From blogs to books, Good Design matters.
Lesson: Throughout 2014 and 2015, I constantly tweaked The Naked Soul blog. I was always making changes and never fully satisfied. Why? Because, I started with a poor concept and design. I created a book website and later tried to switch to an author website. It turned out to be a very expensive transition. I still have broken links on my website and there is a lot that we can do on the design aspect of it.
 
5. Technical Problems: Throughout 2015, I was constantly struggling with website downtown.
Lesson: It took me almost a year to make the switch from a bad hosting service to a good one. My website used to be down every month and sometimes for days. The response was terrible from the hosting company. And it was not that the hosting was cheaper, in-fact it was expensive. It was just a bad company and choice. I took too long to pull the plug. Why? Because, I was distracted and spending time on lesser important matters. Website uptime is a critical factor in building trust.
 
6. Generic to Specialized: The Naked Soul brand had a mix of everything.
Lesson: It took me almost 14 months to separate fitness from writing and travel from podcasting. The Naked Soul soup was a hot mess. It was catering to everyone and therefore no one was truly loyal to it. In 2016, we have three very different platforms and we are focusing on only two. Our Travel blog and our Writing blog. Since travel will require a lot of writing as well, the two lines of business somewhat overlap.
Fitness required more of videos and spending time in the gym which was not overlapping with travel and naked soul. With this transition, we can now upload all travel videos to Travel YouTube and Fitness videos to Fitness YouTube. Health and Fitness still matter to us and remains a priority but we won’t be spending a lot of time here from the business perspective. But we still have a lot of work to do on our new YouTube channels.

Summary: What Can You Do

This is a short list of what I am doing in 2016. You can make a similar plan based on your own personal or business goals.
1. Produce daily content (written, audio, video, images, etc). Divide the work and conquer. Each team member plays to your strengths. #TeamWork
– 3 Blog posts per week
– 2 Podcasts per week
– 2 YouTube Videos per week
– 2 to 4 social media post daily
 
2. Focus on good design on The Art of Travel blog from day one. Further improve the design on The Naked Soul blog.
  
3. Spend money where it really, really matters. If there is a creative way to solve a problem, as a rule, DO NOT SPEND money. Exercise creativity. Having money actually harms your long term survival in the game. Without money, you are forced to make smarter decisions.
  
4. Figure out ways to monetize the blogs and business to make it self-sustainable. The blog should be able to pay for itself.
  
5. Find and make use of college students as volunteers. (for Content creation)
  
6. Focus on building quality back links to both blogs. Grow blog traffic to 100,000 monthly.
  
7. Check both blogs and each social media platforms daily. No downtown and no broken links.
  
8. Finish and publish my next sets of books. Do not just leave it. Be aggressive about it.
  
9. Get each social platforms to 100K range using creative ways (and not with money power). Advertisements bought from money doesn’t last long.
  
10. Do team brainstorming on weekly basis. Exchange ideas and then execute them one at a time.
  
11. Let’s become the industry leader in my respective niches. Let’s narrow down our competitors and keep a close eye on them.
  
12. Fix the descriptions, tags and SEO on YouTube. Fix the cover pictures. Do a complete audit of each YouTube channels and video.
  
13. Do a complete audit of the Naked Soul blog. (Find and fix broken links, messed up texts, errors and typos, and anything that is not at par premium quality)
  
14. Apply all new tools and techniques learned from the QuickSprout blog. 
  
15. Get The Naked Soul book to have 100+ reviews on the Amazon. Simultaneously, plan on receiving 25+ reviews upon launch of on my second book.

The Ultimate Guide On How To Market & Monetize A Poetry Collection

The Ultimate Guide for All Poets Looking to Promote Their Poetry CollectionI am a writer and a bestselling poet. However, writing is only part of my passion. The other part is creating an effective brand that adds value to the society. I make videos, engage in public speaking and offer one-on-one consultation. Building an author brand is more than just writing.

Today, I want to focus on how can you monetize your writing of poetry online? This is part 5 of an 8-part series on book promotion and marketing.


Older posts (2000+ words long and detailed)

Read part 1: How I Am Marketing My Self Published Poetry Book | Book Marketing and Promotion Plan for Poetry and Fiction

Read Part 2How I Am Going To Grow My Author’s Platform| How To Find Your First 1000 True Fans

Read Part 3: How to Make Money Online (eBooks, Blogs, Podcasts & YouTube) | A Business Model That Works

Read Part 4: Platform Building: Where & How to Spend Your Time & Energy? Promote Your Brand The Right Way


How To Market A Poetry Collection

Let’s begin, shall we?

I am going to outline what I’ve gone through to promote my debut full-length collection of poetry, “Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems”, published by The Naked Soul Press. Professional and amateur poets can monetize their poetry both online and offline. And if writing is your bread and butter, you should. You have to.

Very few poets ever live off the proceeds from their work. Most poets, even the most widely published, hold other jobs (such as teaching, lecturing, speaking) to pay the bills. That said, it is still a great idea to market your poetry book.

Marketing your poetry can help give your poetry recognition and appreciation from the wider public. In addition, for most poets, any money earned from the sales of books is appreciated even if it doesn’t pay all the bills. It certainly helps.

I am going to outline 22 steps that I have used to effectively build a brand around The Naked Soul. These steps (when combined together) have helped me monetize my writing and grow my author platform exponentially.

Everything You Need to Know on How to Monetize and Promote Your Poetry

1. Create a high traffic blog

Your goal is to cast as wide a net as possible. Your blog is your brand’s first impression. Direct traffic from everywhere (Twitter, Quora, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) to your blog.

On your blog, build a relationship with your reader by enegaing with them in the comments, asking questions, offering help and free eBooks that your readers wants and need.

Blogs are great for sharing your love of poetry, and they’re great for sharing your stories. I have even created a dedicated page on my website for my quotes and poems.

Guide your blog traffic to your book’s page on Amazon or sell directly from your website/blog.

 

2. Turn your poetry into eBooks, Books, Audio

Once you publish your work, immediately create an eBook. Or, if you have published your poetry collection as an eBook, turn it into Print as well. Once you have both eBook and Printed version of your book, start work on creating an audio book.

Before you begin though, test your audio (your own voice or someone you hire) on YouTube. 

You can do so much here. You can use royalty-free music to go in the background. You can use images and short video-clips. You can do one poem per video or several. Experiment and test what resonates with your audience.

But, at the end of it all — you must have your book in all formats possible: audio, print, eBook.

 

3. Submit Poems to Both Print & Online Magazines

You can start with simply googling the magazines that matches with your genre and style of writing. Send them your poetry. This is a challenging work but doing it correctly will get you published in a reputable source and that in turn will help you with your book (and author bio) as well.

Plus, this simply adds a lot of credibility ad instant trust to your name.

Online Poetry Magazines

Research and find all online poetry magazines in your genre and published your poems for fee or free. If it is a free magazine, make sure you are getting valuable links back to your blog and other social media sites. Sometimes, poetry magazines may want to interview you and if you get such opportunities, jump on it. All these press will later help you with your next book.

 

4. Use Social Media

Post poetry on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, everywhere possible. Your goal here again is to gain exposure. The goal of social media is not to sell your book. Selling occurs when you have earned the likeness and trust of your audience.

Social followings and signals affect trust and your author image. So, focus on building your brand the right way from day one.

For example, once you have a new book coming out, you can announce about your upcoming book to your social fans. Once your book is available, you can guide the traffic to Amazon or your website. Make connections to other poets and poetry lovers on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Google+, Goodreads, etc.

When you read a poem that touches you or a short piece that moves you, try to find that writer on social media and send a friend request. It is in your best interest to know what good poets are doing, when they’re getting published, and how they promote their work.

Social media has become a great vehicle for poets to express themselves and become discovered by poetry lovers. A serious poets should use social media to find people who like good poetry. This is where you begin your platform building journey.

 

5. Email Newsletter

This is THE MOST IMPORTANT ACTION STEP in this entire list. Start a newsletter for your fans. Email is one of the most powerful tool for marketing. I have used email newsletters to announce book launch, announce when I am doing a free giveaway, and when I publish a new blog posts.

A great email list is your best shot on success as a new author. Your goal, above all else, should be to grow your email list. More people will buy your books from your email blasts than your posts on any social media platform.  

 

6. Start a Podcast

I host The Naked Soul Talk Show (an internet radio talk show podcast) where I interview published poets and others in the literary world and provided writing, publishing and promotional advice specific to my listeners. Podcast is also great in terms of marketing since it is a less crowded medium compared to blog and other social media.

I also post my podcasts on my YouTube to find new audience. If I have a video recording of my interviews, it is a value add on YouTube because on Podcast you only listen to the talk.  Podcasts also have the advantage of being monetized if you build a large enough audience. So, start a podcast. It is a must.

 

7. Poetry Readings and Slams

Poetry books will sell if you go out and do a lot of readings wherever anyone will listen. For example, you can do poetry readings at a local library or coffee shop. You can read your poetry on a street corner with a stack of books on your side. You can participate in a poetry slam. You can even organize your own poetry reading.

“The best way to market poetry is to do live readings. Absolutely the best way. Always has been. Likely always will be.” — John Kremer, Author of 1001 Ways to Market Your Book

You might check with your local bookstore or coffeehouse to see if they host readings or other poetry programming. Next, visit the National Poetry Map on www.poets.org, click on “poetry near you” to find poetry readings, conferences & literary festivals.

Browse the event listings and plan on attending. You can not only network with other poets but also learn more about poetry readings, popular and emerging poets in your region, and other events where you can share and promote your poetry.

You can find poetry slams (a poetry slam is a competition where poets read or recite original work) at www.poetryslam.com. You can join for $20 for basic membership and get information on all kinds of poetry slams.

 

8. Perform Book Reviews

Offer book review services with link back to your website and/or amazon page. You’ll also build connection with other authors and poets who in return can later turn out to be your ally during your next book launch.

One extra tip: When you write reviews, add your book in your signature. For example, I always end my (books, movies, products) reviews with, Salil Jha, bestselling author of Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems.

 

9. Book Editing

Offer book-editing services to other writers and poets. In addition to the benefit described above in #8, editing will also give you the opportunity to hone your craft of writing. Plus, your name would come in front of new readers through book’s acknowledgment page.

 

10. Participate in Literary Festivals

Plan on participating in multi-author panel discussions (search meetups in your local area), literary festivals, and other similar events. This is often neglected but this simple outreach and outgoingness can prove incredibly value to your writing journey.

 

11. Organize and Host Events at Local Libraries

This one takes some planning, prior work and networking. Your goal here is to organize and host some type of annual (or quarterly) event at your local library. You can give it some catchy name such as Writer’sJourney, WritingLife, A Good Writer Tells, etc.

The purpose and set up of the event can be also flexible and you have the complete freedom to design the event. For example, you can invite a few of the published authors from your area and have them answer questions posed by aspiring authors on writing, finding agents, publishing, self-publishing and book promotion.

You can offer poetry publishing workshops for aspiring writers and poets. You can expand the workshop by including fiction-writing, memoir-writing, poetry-publishing and book-publishing workshops as well.

 

12. Mentorship and Teaching

Offer to mentor high school or college students interested in a writing career. You can also lead and organize a monthly writing group/workshop at your local library. Combine this strategy with #11 above.

 

13. Get Interviewed by Local Newspapers

In this age of Internet and TV, newspapers still play their role. For example, the books are rated and charted on The New York Times list. Being featured in a newspaper is still a prestige and credibility issue.

Your goal is to approach all local weekly newspaper and try to publish with them or interviewed by them. Approach them several times if you are unsuccessful the first time. Once interviewed, use that interview as a PR when approaching the next one. Usually, the first one is the hardest and then it gets easier.

 

14. Approach Local Bookstores

Give a copy of your book to all the local bookstores in your area. If they like your book, they may stock and sell it on a commission basis. A lot of people who still shop for books in physical stores (and do not know have an Amazon account or interest in online book shopping) will be able to discover your work and will learn your name. This is again a great way to gain free Press.

 

15. Local coffee shops, dentist, beauty/barber, etc.

Similar to above step (#14), talk to local coffee shops to offer up book signing event. Talk to other places you visit regularly and have good relationships with to keep few copies of your book. At the least, this is free advertisement and branding for your book.

 

16. Speaking Events

There are always some big events happening and the event organizers are always on the lookout for speakers. Mostly, these events are paid and so you get paid for speaking. Search and apply to be a speaker at such events. Beyond the big events, there are local gatherings of poets at libraries, coffee shops, bookstores, retirement homes, and other locales. If you can’t find one, you can organize one (similar to #11 above).

 

17. Online Video (YouTube, etc.)

Poetry can be a powerful transformative tool if properly used with music. Music captures far more heart than simply words. Rhythmic words when put together with good music creates an unbeatable duo. On simple yet effective way to promote your poetry is through the use of videos on YouTube, Vimeo, Vines, etc.

To begin, you can take one of favorite poems and set it to music and matching pictures (or simply words) in a short video and post it on various online video sites such as YouTube. Test it out, the results may surprise you.

I used few of my poems when I made book trailers for my book launch. Check it out:

 

Other examples:

Forgetfulness (an animated video) by Billy Collins, former US Poet Laureate and one of America’s best-selling poets, reading his poem.

 

The Don’t Quit Poem has had more than 4 million views.

 

18. Online Poetry Communities

Share your poetry in free online poetry communities besides social media. Comment and build relationships with other poets (similar to other networking advice given above). The more exposure your gain, the more chances you’ll secure for your book’s success.

http://www.deepundergroundpoetry.com/ (Me on Deep Underground Poetry)

http://www.hellopoetry.com/ (Me on Hello Poetry)

http://www.poemhunter.com/ (Me on Poem Hunter)

http://www.poetfreak.com/

http://www.poetry.com/

http://www.allpoetry.com/

http://www.originalpoetry.com/

http://www.poemish.com/

 

19. Get Great Reviews for Your Book

If your budget allows, submit your book for Kirkus independent book review ($425). Here (as an example), you can read the excellent Kirkus review for my book. 

There are also a lot of journals that review poetry. Here is a short list of many such journals.

Great 5 stars average reviews is what separate a successful, bestselling book from the crowd. Good reviews (specially from the reputable sources) also help your marketing efforts. Customer reviews are important. More the better. Your aim should be to get atleast 10 positive reviews for your book before you begin aggressive promotion. Ask your family, friends, and fans to post reviews of your poetry book on Amazon, Goodreads, and Barnes and Noble.

 

20. Enter Poetry Contests

Enter as many poetry contests as you can afford and have time for. Many of the online poetry communities (mentioned above in #18) have poetry contests as well. Moreover, here is a short list of poetry contests that you should participate into. 

“Branding is a long-term endeavor that builds steam over time. All successful writers take many years and multiple books to create that overnight success moment. Writing career success is a process of connecting with one reader at a time.” – Salil Jha, Creator of The Naked Soul

 

21. Charity Dinner/Event

Organize a dinner party and read from your books and offer copies for sale with all profits being donated to the American Red Cross or any charity of your choice. This one is easy. You can experiment with just your family or friends or family and close friends at first. May be invite 20-50 people and plan group activities and games. Have dinner (you can use catering).

You can sell the event ticket for $20-$25 per person. As an up-sale, you can read from your book and have extra copies for sale. This is in a sense similar to hosting a book launch party.

 

22. Subway or Busy Market Corner

Like music students and street rappers, some poets have been known to do quite well going to the subway station or setting a booth at a busy market corner (with their books on display) with a stack of poetry books and reading their poetry out load to the bustling crowd until all their books have sold.

This is easier said than done. If you are not comfortable with reading your poetry in a busy public place, skip this step. No biggie. But, if you want to go all out — at least give this a shot, just for once. You will gain a lot of confidence.

 

###

Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Sign up now and stay in the touch!
What do you think about my poetry marketing approach? Please leave your thoughts and input in the Comments below.

How To Write A Book Every Year: The Secrets to Writing A Million Words

Power of Words

There are many writers who are renowned for the sheer volume of words that they have written in the course of their literary career.

Isaac Asimov, the science fiction writer, produced over 400 volumes of work and was commended for his work with prestigious awards. What did it take for him to write so much during his lifetime? Writer’s Digest magazine asked him for the secret to his prolific writing and he said, “I guess I’m prolific because I have a simple and straightforward style.”

One author, Sean Platt, author of an article, “How to Write an Article in Less than 20 Minutes” published eleven books in the course of nine months. That is basically writing, editing and publishing over one new book each month for almost a year.

How was he able to produce such a large body of work in less than a year? Platt states: “Get a timer and set it for five minutes. Think of a topic and write three prompts, these can be as short as a word or as long as a question. Start writing. Don’t stop until the timer goes off. Now read over what you wrote. Your writing is better than you thought it would be, right?

This won’t seem easy until it finally is but it will happen almost immediately. Again, don’t concern yourself with quality. You can always go back and edit though you won’t need to clean up nearly as much as you think.”  

 

Secrets to Writing A Million Words

To become such a productive writer, it is important that you take the time to learn skills that will improve your writing. You can read books and blogs about writing and attend writing classes. You will then be able to apply what you’ve learned to your writing.

A key component of good writing though is remembering to edit. Georges Simenon, the author of 500 books, described his approach to the craft of writing when he said, “I have always tried to write in a simple way using down-to-earth and not abstract words.”  

A strong and moving purpose: Paul writing his epistles.

The Purpose

You also have to understand your purpose for writing. Is it a love of storytelling that motivates you? Is it the way you wish to earn a living? Is your mission to establish a literary reputation and fame and fortune?

Alexandre Dumas, the author of 277 books, wrote: “Infatuated, half through conceit, half through love of my art, I achieve the impossible working as no one else ever works.”

A highly motivated writer will write every day. John Creasey, the author of 564 books, had a set word count for each day that he writes, and stated, “How many words a day do I write? Between six and seven thousand. And how many hours does that take? Three on a good day, as high as thirteen on a bad one.”

How To Write A Book Every Year

The Daily Word Count

It is indeed possible to become as prolific a writer as the aforementioned writers mentioned in this article. Setting a daily word count will help you to potentially produce a similar output as these authors.

For example, if your goal is to produce 100 books at 75,000 words per books over the span of 30 years, you would have to write 1,000 words a day for five days a week and for 50 weeks in a year. Seems doable, if you have the discipline.

Or, you can start humbly with smaller but a manageable goal. In other words, mathematically speaking:

Monday – Friday: Write 300 words each day

Saturday, Sunday: Write 750 words each day

Weekly total: 3000 words

Yearly total: 156,000 words = That’s roughly 1-2 books each year (after editing)

 

 

The Habit Of Reading

What makes a writer even more successful is setting aside time to read. On a personal note, I have been influenced by the books that I’ve read and my stories reflect those inspirations.

Henri Junttila, a freelance writer, had another example of this when he said, “For example, I help change makers build a thriving online business so when I’m reading sales copy and it moves me to buy, I backtrack. I go inside and look at what it was that moved me. Then I think about how I can use that in my writing and business.”

Another key to success is being confident in your ability to make an impact with your writing. Rachel Toor, an associate professor of creative writing at Eastern Washington University, stated, “Perhaps it’s confidence, perhaps it’s Quixote-like delusion, but to be a prolific writer you have to believe that what you’re doing matters. If you second guess at every step, you’ll soon be going backward.”

A writer I know likes to say that over the years he has “trained” his family not to expect him to show up for certain things because they know his work comes first. You have to be willing to risk seeming narcissistic and arrogant even if you don’t like to think of yourself that way. The work takes priority.

 

The Next Step Is Yours To Take

I hope that the advice contributed by the numerous authors cited within this article will perhaps allow you to produce plenty of creative strings-of-words in your lifetime. It may be challenging at times to find the right words but remember that every great writer struggles with “writer’s block.”

I know I certainly do and what helps is thinking about the subject of your piece as you go about your day and then coming up with the ideas that will shape the direction of your writing.

You have to believe in yourself as a writer and know that with practice you can develop the habits of authors who have published a large body of work. What I’ve learned through my studies of the practices of these prolific authors is that it may indeed be possible to write a billion words in a lifetime or even less time particularly if you truly love to write.

 

###

Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in the touch!

If you would like to share your thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment and I would love to read it. If you have a writing ritual, please tell me more about your practice. I am always on the lookout for awesome life-and-productivity hacks.

Platform Building: Where & How To Best Spend Your Time & Energy

How to effectively market and promote your blog, author platform, and your books or products.

Platform building is a long and difficult process. Where and how to best spend your time, energy, and money for the best possible outcome is a neverending quest for most of the independent artists, authors, and musicians.

In this blog, I will share my best tips and tools to make your strategy successful.

Platform Building

A. Idea Incubation & Content Creation

1. Write original content (books)

            – Reading

            – Researching

            – Writing

   Travel

            – Take pictures, make videos, learn

 

2. YouTube

            – Create content (video making)

   Blog

            – Create content (writing)

            – Create email list

   Podcast

            – Create content (talking & recording)

   Instagram

            – Create content for SM

            – Post content

 

B. Marketing and Promotion

Online Platforms

3. Social Media (Share content)

            – Facebook

            – Twitter

            – Quora

            – Pinterest

            – Periscope

            – Vine

            – Google+

            – etc.

4. Email Your List

5. Broadcast your podcast

 

Offline Platforms

6. Speaking Engagements

            – Paid

            – Free

7. Attend Industry & Networking Events

            – Tradeshows

            – Meetups

            – Events

8. Book tours and book signing

            – Locally

            – Extensive

Promote Your Brand The Right Way

Prioritize in terms of revenue generation or monetization capabilities.

1. Speaking engagement > income from speaking fee

2. Podcast (or Talk Show) > income from advertisement

3. Books > income from book sales

4. YouTube > income from advertisement

5. Blog > income from advertisement

6. Social Media > income from traffic volume, shoutouts, endorsements, & brand awareness

7. Products or White label Products > income from product sales

8. Affiliate programs > income from commission

9. Online courses > income from fee

 

 

###
Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of deep souls, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in the touch!

Do you need help in platform building? I provide online mentorship and one-on-one coaching. Or, if you would like to share your thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment and I would love to read it. 

How To Make Money Online (eBooks, Blogs, Podcasts & YouTube) | A Business Model That Works

Today I want to share how I make money online. How I invest my time and where I invest my resources. I have made simple diagrams which will explain volumes. Let’s dig into it.

 

As you can see, I am spread all across the board. I am an independent consultant and I run my own business as a self-employed boss. I am also having few small-scale businesses where automation works for me.

The difference between Self-employed vs Business quadrant is primarily of automation and systems. For example, a small mom-and-pop shop is basically being self-employed. You have to ask yourself this question to identify a true business.

“If I do not work today, will my business make money?”

If the answer is NO!, then you are a Self-employed individual.

On the other hand, if you own a Chipotle franchise or a McDonald franchisee, you have a system and team of employees put in place to work on behalf of you. In this case, if you get sick, your business still runs and makes money for you.

How To Make Money Online

As you can see, I invest heavily in real-estate and that’s put me into the I (Investor) quadrant as well.

My goal is to completely ELIMINATE the “E” & “SE” quadrants and invest all my time, money, energy and brain into the “B” & “I” quadrants. In next 5 years? We’ll see.

But that’s my goal. My 5-year goal is to operate a > $5 Million USD business and grow my net-worth to > $1 Million USD. You can have your own goals and then work backward.

So, what am I doing about my financial and business goals? Well, the answer is continuing to do what I am already doing.

 

How can YOU do this too?

Yes, you or anyone can do it by putting in enough dedication and hard-work into the process I am about to describe. Just follow the steps as shown in the diagrams below.

 

 

The promotional tools are the tools where you “spend” time and/or money. These tools allow you to leverage the power of the Internet. When used properly and with creativity, they allow you to both build a brand name and do marketing for your products and services at a minimum cost of traditional marketing.

 

 

 

 

As I have said in my earlier posts on Blogging 4.0 that blogging alone or YouTubing alone or writing eBooks (or books) alone will not cut it anymore. There is simply too much competition out there. Plus, think about it and ask yourself: “What difference are you making in this world?”

You have to not only create true value for others but also differentiate yourself. One way to do so is to take advantage of Podcasting, YouTube, writing books and creating and offering products and services.

Then, you got to slowly-slowly remove yourself from the business process and automate everything. You want to be in a position where even if you can’t show up for work, you still generate cash flow.

 

###

Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in the touch!

What do you say? If you have suggestions, feedback, and thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment and I will try to honor your requests. If you would like me to expand this post, please let me know what would you like me to describe in greater details? (The first 3 commenters are always my favorite.)

How Much Money Do I Make On YouTube? | How To Make $100,000 A Year

My last 30 days on YouTube = $51.65

Can you imagine how much money do these kids make with millions of views on their videos? A lot of them make over $10,000 each month. Some make over $30,000 a month.

The point is not to join the YouTube wagon but to create multiple funnels of income.

You may be a techie, or you may be creative.

You may have books in you. You may have CDs and music in you. You may have documentaries and films in you. These are all various funnels for income.

You have social media.

You can be a consultant.

You have a job.

You can become a teacher.

You can drive Uber part-time for a limited time to make some cash. You can do Airbnb and rent your rented house.

You can invest that cash (say $1000) in a Roth IRA or IRA and then start investing $200 or whichever amount you wish until retirement.

You can create your own investments with Vanguard IRA or start a simple savings account. You can invest in Stocks or Real Estate or both.

It always amazes me to find out how people complain about being poor when all they may need is Uber + Airbnb + few consulting gigs. You don’t even need an employer. You can be your own boss.

And, if you already have a decent paying job, what are you waiting for? You are in lucky 20%.

To make money, you got to first make money so that the money you make can later make money for you!

All you have to say is “I can do that, too.” Then do it.

Learn to use every talent you have to create income. That’s the right mindset. You can also create simple gigs on Fiverr and build revenue, create simple video webinars on Udemy and Skillshare.

If you have something to share that adds value, you have an opportunity. (As the popular saying goes, if you are good at something, you should probably charge for it.)

You just have to take one step each day.

365 days it is.

I want to see where I’ll be in 365 days from now! I am interested in measuring my own progress in 365 days from today.

Game on.

Do you accept this challenge? If yes, tweet to me or comment with hashtag #365Days.

Involve your friends and make it a fun challenge.

#365Days

 

###

Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in the touch!

What are you doing to make $100,000 in next 365 days? What other creative ways one can use to make some extra cash? Share your pro-tips if something is working for you. It may help others. (The first 10 commenters are always my favorite.)

A Writer’s Daily Routine | A Day In the Life of a Writer





Writing a book can be a long, hard grind. On the other hand, writing can be fun.

Writers love to write. Writing is a true joy when it is done for the sake of writing alone. Writing is both art and meditation. For me, writing is akin to a spiritual practice. Writing gets me into the flow state. Writing keeps me in the flow. Writing is my Zen.

I write whenever I get chance. I wake up and I want to write about the dreams that I had.

When I am driving, I want to write about the flow of life. Of-course I don’t write while driving but my mind is often flooded with ideas, thoughts and new observations on human life.

When at work, I want to write about people and their lives. I want to write stories of hope and inspiration. I am writing in my mind all the time.

My mind chatters non-stop like a drunk poet until I let it loose and write something.

My heart which is like a sponge soaks in other people’s emotions, good or bad. I feel for them. Sometimes, I feel I can hear their thoughts. I want to become their unspoken voice.

I want to sing the songs of human journey. Songs of this earth, our home, this life, of love and of loss.

I write. This is why I write.

A Day In My Life

This is how I write.

6:00 am: Get up. Kiss my love. I boil water to make green tea, brush and get fresh.

6:30 am: I sit on my writing desk and begin writing.

7:30 am: Finish the morning writing session. Dress for work and prepare breakfast.

8:00 am: Leave home. Drop my love to work. Continue driving to my office.

8:30 am: I listen to podcasts while driving. I generally listen to The James Altucher Show, The Tim Ferriss Show, The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes , The Art & Business of Writing with Chris Jones and The Smart Passive Income with Pat Fylnn.

9:25 am: Make myself a coffee. Read my emails. Re-read my to-do list from last night.

9:45 am: Scan through the day’s meetings. Set up new calls or meetings based on emails from past 10-12 hours.

10:00 am: Work. No emails, no internet unless required.

12:00 noon: Take a break. Go for 10 min walk.

12: 10 pm: Eat lunch.

12:30 pm: Reply to all mentions on Twitter. Acknowledge and reply to blog comments and comments on social media such as Facebook, Instagram, etc.

12:55 pm: Reply to emails.

1:15 pm: Do a 15 minutes status call with my team*. Resolve road blocks, if any. Discuss and review results and growth.

*As a writer and authorpreneur, it is critical to have a team (atleast 1 personal assistant/researcher). My company provides Virtual Personal Assistants (VPAs) to artists and creative people: writers, musicians, anyone for $199 (part-time) and $399 (full time). If you would like to have a VPA, contact me.

1:30 pm: Go for second walk. Listen to some songs.

1:40 pm: Make myself second coffee. Write a new blog post or edit one from my saved drafts. If it is M, W or F, publish a new post.

3:00 pm: Finish rest of the work for the day. (I work as a senior business consultant for healthcare companies).

5:00 pm: Start for home. Listen to Audio books. Make phone calls to my friends and business associates.

6:00 pm: Get home, relax, get fresh.

6:10 pm: Cook and/or eat dinner. Run the dishwasher. Pack lunch for next day, if there are leftovers. We do try our best to cook extra so that we can eat our own food for lunch. Saves lunch money, time and calories.

7:00 pm: Leave for YMCA/gym. Car talk (me and my girlfriend)

7:20 pm: Run 1 mile. Do 20 minutes of elliptical. Lift weights or do body weight exercises. (Listen to music or half-finished podcasts from the day).

8:10 pm: Cool down. Do 10 minutes of Sauna and/or Steam.

8:25 pm: Head back to home. If groceries needs to be done, do that.

8:45 pm: Take shower.

9:00 pm: Make to-do list for the next day.

9:15 pm: Read for pleasure. Occasionally, watch a good movie or documentaries.

10:00 pm: Poetry writing and/or editing my manuscript.

10:30 pm: Bed time.

 

Writing Habits

Morning writing
I sit on my writing desk by 6:30 am. Then I write a few keywords from my dreams if they are still lingering in my mind. Sometimes, I will just draw an image. This is mainly for the purposes of building list for future writing materials.

Then, depending on my mood, schedule and timeline, I write new chapters of my book or edit the last one. If I have an interesting Quora question in my queue, I write answer to it.

Day writing
Depending on my day and work load, during the day I will usually write for the Naked Soul blog.

Night writing
At night, I will sit down and write poetry. I will post these pieces on my social media accounts and would tweet on Twitter.

Waiting in line
If I am waiting in line (irrespective of place or reason), I am writing on Quora.

I use my Quora answers as seed materials for my future blog posts. Vice versa, I use my blog posts as materials to answer questions on Quora.

Weekend writing
On weekends, I allocate few extra hours of writing. I would spend the time to mainly write new blog posts.

My goal is to write enough so that next time I can pick up my draft post during week days and edit it and be able to publish it during lunch hours when at work.

Solitude writing
When I am home alone for few days or a week at times, I use this sacred time to mainly write new poetry.
I also use the solitude time to do a lot of re-vision and re-writing.

Timed writing
I practice timed writing where my typical goal is to write 500 words or more in 25-30 minutes. Next time, during one of my editing sessions, when I pick up a piece from my timed writing session, I would take out a lot of fluff and leave just the cream.

Then, I would either turn it into a poetry or use it as a opening sentence for a paragraph or a new chapter or may be a new book idea altogether.

iPhone writing
The notes app on my iPhone has over 100 notes as of right now. And this is a new phone.

I am typing small notes, small pieces, small poems, small quotes, small observations all the time on my iPhone.

 

###

Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in the touch!

What do you think? Do you want to be a writer or a poet? Or are you already in the grind of life and creative process? Tell me more and share with us your thoughts. The first 10 commenters are always my favorite and I like to personally communicate with them.

Enter Blogging 4.0| Strategies to Achieve Success in the Age of All Things Online

Blogging 1.0 and 2.0 is over.

Sad but this is a fact. Read it, research it, accept it, swallow  it, and get over it.

If you are thinking of creating a passive income from your blog and you are starting now, you are entering into a very competitive domain. That said, let me show you a few things that you need to do to be successful at your online business built around a central blog.

 

Blogging 4.0 Defined

Blogging 4.0 basically means an online business centered around a blog since 2014. This is not a new concept but a new strategy and new perspective to look at the world of blogging and online business in general.

 

Enter Blogging 4.0

Blogging is competitive and it takes lots of hours. You need to research, you need to write, you need to post consistently.

Building a readership from scratch is tough (read: not worth the time investment). Building a large readership who engages with your content is even harder.

Today, you need to think beyond blogging. This is where blogging 4.0 comes into the picture.

There are over 250 millions active websites, over 8 million blogs and almost as many vlogs (video blogs), and about 115,000 podcasts (audioblogs).

 

Blogging 4.0 includes (well, more than just a blog):
1. Blog (for long form content + introducing your product/services)
2. Podcast (this is the least competitive domain)
3. Social Media Platforms (for short form content)
4. Videos (Youtube, Vine, Vimeo, Periscope, etc)
5. Repurpose Your Content (Quora, Medium, LinkedIn)

 

1. Blogging
To start, here are few tips:

  • Blog long form content. Save the short quotes and daily muse for social media. If you want to succeed in blogging, go long and detailed.
  • Try to solve a problem. Try explaining a situation from a new perspective. Tell a good story that most people can relate to.
  • Write and then offer free eBooks.
  • Collect emails so that you can email to your group when a new blog post is up.
  • Guest blog and cross promote each other.
  • Encourage your blogger friends to leave a comment. Reciprocate the generosity.
  • Provide incentives to your readers for commenting. For example, reply to your comment and answer their questions. Or simply just acknowledge them.

 

2. You need a Podcast
As I mentioned above, podcast:blog ratio is very low. Podcasts integrates with both blogging and social media. Podcasting is technical and intense. And that’s why you have less competition there.

You must explore this medium to connect with millions of 9-5 job going workers when they are commuting to work, exercising at gym or taking a long walk.

Example: Podcast Launch | The Naked Soul Talk Show | Full Human Potential | Daily Growth | Lifestyle Design

 

3. Build Your Tribe
In the past, your blog was your platform. Not anymore.

You need to build your online tribe on various social media platform as that’s where your readers are already gathering. Social media is usually the best free source to send traffic to your blog.

Read my 4000 word long detailed blog post on building your platform:
How I Am Going To Grow My Author’s Platform| How To Find Your First 1000 True Fans

How To Get From Zero to A Celebrity Status| Hacking Instagram Growth |10 Tips on More Followers, Likes & Comments

 

4. Go Video
You are writing. You are researching and inserting catchy images in your blog posts.

You are building your social authority and building your platform on each major social media.

Now go full circle. Go video.

Make videos. Make SlideShare out of your blog posts and turn those SlideShare into YouTube videos.

Make video of some of your audio recordings (podcasts) and push it on Youtube.

Make videos out of images and add music to it. Publish them.

Remember, rather than waiting for people to find your blog, you want to find your tribe. You must go where people are already gathering. Then broadcast. Let your lost tribe members find you.

Bring them home (to your blog). Reward them for following you.

5. Repurpose Your Content
Just as if you have a book to offer, you’ll most likely sell it on Amazon and through Barnes & Noble rather than your own website, similarly, you must blog on platforms which are already trusted by millions of users.

There are studies done that vast majority of readers prefer (read: trust) to buy a book (or a product) on Amazon than directly from a blog or website. And the reasons are simple.

Return. Refund. Shipping options. Trust. Existing account, etc.

Likewise, rather than publishing your posts just on your blog, be mindful that there are millions of users on Medium and LinkedIn and Quora who would not go to your blog because they spend a vast majority of their online time on these platform. They do not have any need to go to your blog.

 

So what can you do?
You repurpose your content. Change a few things and tweak it to the like of the target readerships and re-publish. Leave a link to your blog.

Those who would resonate with your content and find value in your offering would become your reader.

What do you do then? What do you do in the end after all is said?

Publish. Be Original. Be Consistent.

Consistency is the key.

Strategies & Steps to Achieve Success

Creating and Curating The Best Content
Yes, how many hundred and thousands of people create and curate the best content on Internet but eventually give up and FAIL because there were no eyes looking at their blog. There were no readers and no money coming in.

 

The Truth Behind the Expenses
I am listing the minimum that you would be spending if your blog is going to be a an online business.

You need to attract visitors, you need them to sign up for your mailing list, you want to offer them something of value in return, you want your website to load on mobile and computer, be fast and responsive to devise site and browsers.

Okay, okay. But, wait.

You also need to spend enormous time (= opportunity cost) to develop your product, market your product, engage with your customers or fans and handle customer support.

Let’s take a look at the dollar-and-time investment.

Domain name/renewal: $15/year
Website hosting: $300-$500/year
Website upgrades: $100/year
eBook creations: $500/year
Equipments (lights, camera, mike, recorder, et al.): $1000 – $2000
Podcast hosting: $120/year
Social Media promotion: $500/year
Time: between 40-100 hours/week
and a bunch of other things…

The 4.0 Strategy
What can you do? First, you know that you are a serious blogger. You are committed to take your blog as a mini online business.

Your first goal should be to break-even. Here is the 6 phases of it:

  1. Spend the minimum that you can afford and sustain.
  2. Then work your best to recoup your investment.
  3. Invest in upgrades and expansion.
  4. Invest and building a brand that attracts readerships on its own.
  5. Offer products and/or services to recoup your additional investment.
  6. Break even on quarterly basis and achieve a state of financial balance
  7. Grow your blog-business like a rockstar.

 

The caveat here?

The CAVEAT Rule
Caveat stands for:

  • Consistency
  • Authenticity
  • Value
  • Enthusiasm
  • Attitude
  • Theme

Consistency
Read my Quora answer on “Consistency”. Consistency is the most important rule for blogging to succeed.
(What are you struggling with as a blog writer?)

 

Authenticity
You have to be authentic. You have to present your true self before your audience. Your voice should sound genuine. No mimicking, no imitation, but your voice, unfiltered, afraid, naked yet true.

 

Value
Provide value. Provide Quality. Look how can you improve the quality of an information, service or product out there. It took me hours to write this answer and then organize the content in such a way that is easy to read.

Did I increase the quality of my post by spending time on it? You be the judge. Was value added by me to the blogging community as a whole by spending over 8 hours of my time) on this post?

If the answer is Yes and Yes, then I have to do the same on my:

  1. Blog
  2. Podcast
  3. Social Media Platforms
  4. Weekly emails (newsletters)
  5. Books that offer for free
  6. Books that I write to sell
  7. The products that I am building to market
  8. The services that I provide

On Quality
Quality content is integral part of providing value.

Make sure, in terms of Quality, your videos and pictures are high-resolution, clean and clear. Make sure your podcast is noise-free. Make sure the background of your videos are neat and organized.

Likewise, your blog posts should be clean, neat and organized. Add pictures. Edit the post before you publish. If you notice an error after publishing, edit and fix immediately.

Treat your blog as Apple treats its product packaging.

 

Enthusiasm
Energy is the raw material for enthusiasm. You have to stay fit, exercise and be healthy. Read What is the easiest way to live a very healthy lifestyle?

Apply the 80/20 here to get your base covered.

Now you have the energy it takes to be a real-life blogger who actually makes a living or decent passive income from her/his blog. Great! You must feel good to have all this energy to work so hard. Not 4 hours a week but 100 hours.

How do you use this raw energy to create a positive, uplifting enthusiasm that motivates your community and wants them to come to your content again and again?

Simple.

Follow these 3 Simple Rules

1. Do not engage with haters, spammers and negative people, comments, or content out there on Internet. Save your energy, every ounce of it and use it for your blog. If someone makes you angry or frustrated, instead of fighting, turn that emotion into a blog post. (Remember, everything is a material for a writer).

2. Present a positive solution, scenario and interpretation to a negative problem, scenario and story. Go deep. Go long content. When you are trying to cover a topic or an issue, get to the heart of it. Again, look at this Quora answer as an example. It is pain to type such long answer… my back is hurting; I want to drink coffee; it’s Saturday and sunny, I rather go out… but damn! my answer is not complete yet! But I am going to write until the question is completely answered.

3. Engage with your fans, readers, customers, whatsoever you call them as if your life depends on it. And it does. They pay for your services or books. They use your products. They send you thank you emails and talk good about you. These all makes your life more meaningful and makes you feel fulfilled. Do whatever it takes to make sure you are replying to all comments, even if they in hundreds. Reply to as many emails as you can. Again provide value. Be energetic. Be a lion. Be a cheetah. Be a deer. Be a rabbit. Be whatever it takes.

 

Attitude
Attitude is your mentality, your personality. How do you interact with failures? How do you take losses? Attitude is very important.

Even if you do everything right as I ask you to do in this post, there are chances that you will fail ten times. May be you wont see readership or visitor growth for 6 months or a year.

May be you are having hard time coming up with new ideas. Perhaps, it will be hard for you to allocate this much time to build a great blog.

What will do? Because, I can tell you, this will happen.

And if you are mentally not prepared, you will quit or settle for a mediocre blog which no one reads and then you will ask a question on Quora, how to get more traffic to my blog in hope of as if some magic answer will you fix your attitude problem.

Are you a sheep? Or are you a lion? Are you a giver, quitter and loser? Or are you made for hard battles and fighting until you win or die? Ask these questions before you wet your feet in the murky waters of online blogging-businesses.

Successful blogging business is not for the faint of heart. But if you think, this is You, then welcome. Start today. Hit me an email or comment. Create a network of other successful bloggers.

Share ideas, exchange tips. Help one another. Create a mastermind group (online or in your city). Create a Facebook group and share your daily wins and fails. Have fun. You have to make this process fun because it is incredibly time consuming and difficult. But can it be done with laughter while having a good time? Oh yeah, that’s what I am having.

Guest blog and mutually support one another.

I am sure, thousands of other bloggers can say the same.

Welcome to the club! Bloggers 4.0.

 

Theme
Stick to a theme (a topic). If you want to cover a slightly bigger niche, break down your blog posts into various topics or categories. Check out my blog (Naked Soul Blog | The Blog of Salil Jha) as an example. Tim Ferriss (author) does the same thing.

On the other hand, another popular blogger Maria Popova (Brain Pickings) focuses on books, art and life advice. James Altucher focuses on writing, books, and online business building.

On social media too, you would notice the biggest accounts or pages are those who stick to one theme or context such as fitness, bodybuilding, jokes, poetry, etc.

Start with a sub-niche. Then cover your niche to which your sub-niche belongs. If you are successful up until here, go broader.

That said, it is always better and more effective to cover a single theme or semi-related, overlapping ideas. Both Tim Ferriss and I, for example are doing the later.

We cover more than one topic on our blog and social but all of them are overlapping with a single goal of improving our self.

Hope this helps!

Now go build or do something meaningful!

 

###

Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in the touch!

If there are aspects of this important topic that you would want me to cover in-depth or an area you think I have missed and should have touched, please let me know in the comments and I’ll update the post or write a new one. What do you think? Tell me and share with us your thoughts on blogging 4.0. The first 10 commenters are always my favorite and I like to personally communicate with them. So share your thoughts.

Stop Blogging and Start Writing | A Case Against Blogging

The first ever blog post I wrote took over three weeks to put together before I somehow found the courage to hit ‘publishâ€. Iâ€m not kidding, for several weeks, painstakingly Iâ€d write most nights (and during the day too if time permitted) optimistically hoping that, that particular day (or evening) would be the one when Iâ€d feel courageous and confident enough to cease editing or writing and finally unleash my ‘naked†self out into the blogosphere. This was back in 2007.

I have been blogging since my college days. I have blogged on Tumbler, WordrPess and Blogger.com. I have written blogs and have abandoned them completely. Not until recently, I finally took blogging a step further and bought a domain name and started to blog one more time, but this time with a professional touch to it.

The Lessons (2007 – 2014)

I learned three simple and valuable lessons at the end of of my blogging apprenticeship period.

1. Writing. The first being that writing is just the half of it. Even after youâ€ve written what you believe to be a half-decent blog post, patting yourself on the back is not an option just because youâ€ve finished writing it. The hard work is just beginning – with plenty of other stuff needing attention. Like working on how your blog looks for starters and (more importantly) promoting it – getting people to actually read your blog also requires serious perseverance and commitment.

In short, the art of completing just one blog (in my case anyway) actually takes twice as much time and effort as you think it will. I realized that if this was going to be a regular venture for me, it would need careful planning and an immense amount of on-going hard work and conviction.

2. Fresh Unique Content. Interesting blog topics and ideas would regularly have to be thought through and planned in advance, with time set aside for researching, and writing the (hopefully) engaging copy. For each blog, Iâ€d also need to source rights-free images, add all the clickable links and find someone to proof read my copy. Blogging needs much time and attention, seemingly for little or no financial return. It is mostly a labor of love.

3. The Economics. It cost me money to have a website (where I post my blogs). It has cost me money to build my website and pay for maintenance and domain name renewal. Itâ€s hard enough for writers to make a decent living from writing anyway, so instead of blogging, given the fact that itâ€s the love of writing that brought me to creating my first blog post in the first place, maybe my efforts nowadays would be better concentrated on trying to make money through just writing instead of blogging.

 

Main Point
In this post Iâ€ll be mulling over the arguments for and against my continued involvement in the blogging world. After all, people are quitting blogging all the time these days; usually informing their readers why theyâ€ve decided to call time on their blog, through one final post. Once daily blogger from The Dish, Andrew Sullivan, did just that, quitting earlier this year – deciding he wanted to return to the ‘real world†(after blogging for fifteen years). I totally empathize. You can read his final note to his readers.

Other bloggers decide to quit for different but still understandable reasons. Writer, Sara Hepola blogged for five years before informing in her last blog: “Blogging wasn’t helping me write; it was keeping me from it”. Her post This Is My Last Entry explains a little more.

Both these authors quit for valid reasons but neither encouraged others to do the same. Below, writer L.L Barkat pitches a strong argument against experienced writers blogging, in this post that she guest-authored for Jane Friedmanâ€s blog a couple of years ago.

 

Other Arguments against Blogging
One fundamentally important argument against continued blogging is that the role of the blogger on the social media spectrum has changed hugely over the last decade.

Back in the day, sharing the latest installment of your life on a weekly or even a daily basis, to an ever increasing amount of subscribers (if you were lucky) would (hopefully) bring comments, shares, likes etc. Giving the blog author new-found confidence; perhaps kudos too, and, quite possibly, an inflated ego as well.

 

True Creativity? Honest Voice?

If your readers liked what you were writing, youâ€d put concerted effort into not letting them down, which meant working to please them, not yourself. At that time, blogging (although still hard work) became, arguably, more of a rewarding pastime than it is nowadays.

It gave published and unpublished writers with something to say an equal platform to get their voices heard. Some lucky posters even became well-known and popular in certain fields or amongst certain groups. Young or old; pro, or non-pro, company based, media or non-media outlets, anyone and everyone could (and often did) use their voice to spread their message across the blogosphere (actually even writing this word now does feel kind of dated).

Twitter

These days, itâ€s not that people arenâ€t still blogging – thatâ€s simply not the case. Blogging is still popular but not across as many different groups as it once was. Itâ€s become a lesser counterpart to the more widely used, instantaneous, sometimes quirky social media and micro-blogging tools available today.

However, writers will continue to blog because writers love to write, but with so many new (ish) kids appearing on the social media scene during the last decade: Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat (to name a handful) itâ€s blogging by those under thirty that may have had its day now!

This ties in with another extremely important thing I havenâ€t mentioned but probably should have earlier, mobile technology.

 

Mobile Technology

Sharing your life with followers through your blog on a regular basis, using, letâ€s say a smart phone would be a more drawn out and a tiresome business these days; but status updates, picture uploads or sharing whatâ€s on your mind to your group of followers in less than 140 characters, well, thatâ€s easily done through the technology we carry in the palm of our hands today.

Smart phone use for accessing social media is on the increase and the newer methods of social media communication reflect that. Blogging doesnâ€t. Mobile technology advances have changed the blogging spectrum but this definitely doesnâ€t mean that blog writing is over.

avoid writer’s block

Blogging can be anti-Writing

One last point that I want to make is blogging can become a chronic habit to avoid real writing. Writing for book or publication requires decisiveness, discipline, and mental focus. You can be relaxed with your conversational style writing when you write a blog post but if you working on a book project, your words and sentence structure matters.

Our human body is optimized to avoid stress and work and therefore your mind will do anything to avoid the real work – writing. If you feel that you are spending 80% of your writing time on writing blogs and 20% on your book, probably you should take a break from blogging and practice writing in the journal until you can reverse the ratio. Remember, blogging is to supplement your crystallized thoughts that you put into a book or other print/digital publication, not to replace it. Don’t let your blog become a form of writer’s block.

 

Arguments for Blogging

When writer, Dan Blank also guest authored Jane Friedmanâ€s blog a couple of years ago, he delivered some compelling reasons to continue blogging, and gave his take in this post on when itâ€s the right time to kill off a blog and move on.

A lot of what Dan says makes sense, despite the growth of new social media mediums and mobile technology ensuring that blogging takes a back seat in terms of production, follower growth, shares, likes etc. there are still some great advantages to be had by creating and regularly updating yours (whether youâ€re over thirty or not!)

Blogging is adding to the credibility

Employment

Most potential employees that Iâ€ve come across love it when candidates provide a link to their own blog or website, especially if its subject matter is linked to their company in some way. An example, if you blog about health and well-being and youâ€re attending an interview at a sports club, it will probably serve you in good stead, so long as it is written well.

Actually even if what youâ€re blogging about has nothing to do with the position youâ€re applying for, itâ€s still a quick and easy way to showcase your writing talent. For example, if youâ€re applying for a job as an Online Content Producer but you blog about, letâ€s say, Bee Keeping as long as your blog is well-written, free from grammatical errors and interesting, it will show that youâ€re already familiar with producing online content, putting you one step ahead of candidates who donâ€t blog or have a website. You canâ€t really say that about having an Instagram or Twitter account.

A blog is out there on the web, itâ€s easily accessible and will be for a long time to come. Also, if you notice youâ€ve made any grammatical errors etc. once your blog has gone live, you can always go back, make corrections and re-publish, you donâ€t have that kind of investment with Twitter or Facebook publishing and feeds.

 

More reasons to continue blogging

Letâ€s say, youâ€ve always wanted to write a book, but the prospect of writing one has always been a bit daunting (the amount of time, focus, and research it requires has never felt achievable) depending on what youâ€ve been blogging about. You may well have the makings of a best-selling e-book hidden within all those blog entries youâ€ve been posting over the last few years.

For example, if, over the last ten years youâ€ve been blogging weekly about the latest happenings in the Hip-Hop world, collating what youâ€ve written could well be turned into an ebook entitled The Changing Face of Hip-Hop since 2005.

Similarly, if youâ€ve been writing about gluten free healthy eating, or your secret life as a dominatrix, why not go over your posts to see if you have enough material to create an ebook or impress a publisher.

Blogging is not dead

Blogging doesnâ€t always have to lead to followers, comments, etc. some writers care little about these things because theyâ€re truly writing for themselves. Letâ€s say, youâ€re going through a hard time health wise, and you need to learn more about certain conditions, if someone else has had the same experience or diagnosis as you and has shared what theyâ€re going through on a blog, that blogger has fulfilled their need to write and created something valuable to you and future readers, no doubt paying little regard to the amount of likes and shares etc.

 

Business Blogs

Blogging can be good for business, done properly it can direct business to your company website e.g. if a savvy DIY store owner posts several ‘how to†blogs, such as – how to unblock a drain, how to unblock a pipe, etc. Their blog may help users fix stuff themselves without the need of an expensive professional if you own a plumbing shop or DIY store, sharing one or two tips about common problems, could lead people to your site and increase sales and materials. Making it a win, win situation for both parties in an instance like this.

 

Conclusion

I can understand why people need to stop blogging if itâ€s not working for them anymore (as in the case of Andrew Sullivan and Sara Hepola) if stopping feels like the right thing to do, then itâ€s the right thing to do!

But for me, continuing blogging feels exactly like the right thing to do, contrary to some of the arguments Iâ€ve included, I plan on blogging more. Why? Because I blog for pure pleasure, I am also a book writer and when I donâ€t feel like working on my manuscript or writing something new, I still want to sit down and write something and blogging helps me in reaching my daily 1000-2000 word count. Itâ€s also an easy way to answer questions that I get on social media (from my readers) or to share with others, things that I learned the hard way. By blogging I am revising my own lessons and crystallizing it into specific topics.

When I write a blog it still feels like itâ€s about my needs rather than other peoples, and I know other bloggers out there who feel that too. People will always need to share their stories and experiences, not just for egotistical reasons either, whether theyâ€re professional writers or not.

Blogging works for me because Iâ€m a fairly new author, therefore my website is not ranked high in Google. So blogging good content is my way to earn that right to show up on Google’s first page of search results for certain keywords. Iâ€m also lucky that I have a team of friends who help me generate ideas for my blog posts and a Virtual Assistant who handles my social media and saves me some time.

In spite of all my arguments for my continuing to blog, I must also add that once I get busier with my book writing, the blogging will slow down. If it ever comes down to choosing between book writing vs blog writing, I will pick book writing over blog writing any day, hands down to be honest. Iâ€m not expecting that to happen any time soon and Iâ€m also not sure that I could ever bring myself to write that final ‘goodbye and thank you†blog and have the courage to press ‘publishâ€.

 

###

Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in the touch!

What do you think about blogging? If you think there are more compelling reasons for or against blogging that I have not mentioned here, please feel free to comment. The first 10 commenters are always my favorite and I like to personally communicate with them via email (sort of like buddies). So share your thoughts. Any other questions please feel free to share with the community.

The Pain of Perfectionism | Writer Anxieties, OCD and Coping Mechanism

This perfectionism is driving me crazy

It’s getting late, you’ve been working on your article for days now, thankfully, after several “final” drafts and edits, as well as the umpteenth reread, you’re now feeling confident enough to submit your work to your client or ready to hit the publish button.

Moments after you’ve hit “send”, you let out a heavy sigh; you are relieved, elated; and it feels good because the deadline has been met or the project is now complete.
Adrenalin is kicking in, you’re actually even feeling slightly emotional, but happy.

This should be where the chapter ends; the beginning of your mind focusing on something else, or at least, as it’s late, you should be turning in for the night. But when you do, you can’t sleep.

Instead of enjoying some satisfying well-earned slumber time, your mind is slowly succumbing to niggling self-doubt. You let out another sigh, this time it’s one of dread. What if the client hates what I have written? Oh, why did I press “publish” tonight when I could have revised it one more time? I should’ve waited until the morning before submitting.

The Pain of Perfectionism

And so it goes on and on until you finally manage to get to sleep, just as the birds are beginning their chorus. And when your alarm goes off a little while later, the article (or the blog post) is the first thing on your mind. At this point you want to scream out loud and groan, you do both, annoyed and angry at yourself for caring so much.
Sound familiar to you?

Have you ever felt: I am so unhappy with what I sent yesterday, so today I am going to spend time correcting all the things I’ve been feeling unhappy with. In whatever free time you have, you focus on editing until it’s time to take a break, but then the next time you pick up you have lost your flow.

So you re-read the entire thing again before once more, you painstakingly begin deleting words, adding sentences, removing paragraphs and adding other smaller details and arguments to polish your work, word by word, paragraph by paragraph. One page at a time.

Zen and The Art of Writing

Writing well is the formation of thoughts in coherent topics and subtopics. Think of your grand idea as a big house. And your subplots as various rooms in the house. You start with the boundary or the overall description of the house but then you move inside.

You talk about the lawn and the backyard and the fences. Inside each room, you describe what is present there. You do these things until your hands give up due to being tired.

Next time you pick up, you remember the grand plot and move on to the next room and talk about it. You then go on to the kitchen and to the bathroom. But once finished, usually depending on:

1) the completion of the main story,

2) word count goal,

3) time, you edit it

You read your edited work and again find several holes. You find tangential stories which are not really driving the main plot or main argument that you are making. You remove them.

Similarly, you find holes where you are missing information so you find phrases that act like glue, joining the two chains of thoughts or paragraphs into one story. As you find these holes, you re-write and complete your story. You edit it again. Sometimes re-inserting a lot of what you have previously deleted!

You keep working on it until you have no time, energy or emotional interest left in the project. This is when your work is complete. It is not perfect yet, and you realize it will never be.

Creative by nature is anti-perfection. “What is imperfect is complete,” says Zen wisdom. Finally, you re-send the piece, hoping that your client hasn’t been anywhere near the article you have sent previously.

Work-Related Anxieties

I am devoting this blog to this topic because while I am sure many of us feel it, I haven’t seen too much written about it. Anxiety-like this is perfectly natural. It is a working style of the creatives, I believe.

First, you have to let your idea come out. You watch it from a little distance, then the draft is written and corrected. We don’t polish when we create, nor do we know how to complete the full story. Only after 80 percent of it is laid out, do we go on to finish the remainder.

I am not as crazy as those “other” writers

 

My first book Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems was written and published this way. I sent a manuscript with 150 poems and finally selected 95 for publishing. Then I later added 13 more poems (during various rounds of editing) and made changes to the Introduction and book’s back matter.

I sent the book for editing a third time (with my second editor). That’s how the book came out nicely. But ask me today, I can tell you, if the book still exists as a manuscript, I would replace certain words and leave out a certain poem and I would add another one and then rewrite some lines, and so on and so forth.

A book really never ends. There is always something more that you can do to make it perfect, a masterpiece.

 

“Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark place where it leads.” – Erica Jong

Courage to Write

The “courage” in the above quote is highly important. I think us writers are actually too hard on ourselves at times, but the very nature of the beast dictates that we will be judged.

Writing invites judgment; judgment from others and judgment from ourselves, but we are probably our own harshest critics when we should really be kinder to ourselves.

I believe that writing takes commitment, skill, patience and most of all, courage. We need to remember this whenever any hint of self-loathing or the confidence-wrecking gremlin kicks in.

“A lot of writers believe that the trauma and the angst that you feel is an essential part of the craft.” – Amy Tan

If it leaves a writer in a negative state then I don’t know if I would agree with Amy Tan‘s “essential” part, but normal yes! Is it essential? I am not so sure. It depends (writer to writer).

However, in his book The Courage to Write: How Writers Transcend Fear, writer, Ralph Keyes documents many of the anxieties that writers feel and acknowledges that fear and anxiety are both normal. But he, like Amy Tan, also believes that anxiety is an important and essential part of the writing process.

His book includes anecdotes and strategies from other writers (naked writing anyone?) and offers useful suggestions for his readers such as scheduling your writing time into your most productive time of day.

I know that this isn’t always possible, but not writing during your least productive time of day (in my case, late at night), is, and in my opinion, should be avoided at all costs.

Fear is the Opposite of Courage

Other famous writers have spoken about their coping strategies too. In an interview writer Jonathan Franzen confesses that, in the past, he has feared fame and reproach continually. And the way he has taken refuge from himself and transcended his fear?

Well, through writing and trying to create good sentences, which he feels loyal enough to continue with. So, basically, he overcomes his writing anxieties, with, more writing! As he is a bestselling author, this strategy has obviously been working well for him.

It doesn’t seem to matter how little or well known a writer you are, similar demons seem to manifest in so many of us. Author, Cynthia Ozick has also confessed her fears in this quote from brainyquote.com:

“I am afraid that the act of writing is so scary and anxiety filled that I never laugh at all. In fact, when people tell me that such and such a scene or story is comical, I tend to gape. I did not intend comedy ever, as far as I know. It’s probably all a mistake. I am essentially a lugubrious writer.”

She explains how she overcomes her fears stating, “I have to talk myself into bravery”. Cynthia acknowledges that she does fear-setting before she writes, with every sentence and sometimes with every syllable.

In Dan Halpern’s publication: Who’s Writing This?: Fifty-five Writers on Humor, Courage, Self-Loathing, and the Creative Process, an outspoken critic, Susan Sontag, outlined her discomforts and admitted: “the writer is me: not my double” making me both Frankenstein and the monster.

I totally get that. For me, writing is my soul mate but can be my nemesis too, it’s love and hate, success and failure, but I’ve come to understand that the good parts always weigh heavier than the bad.

The more I read up on writer anxieties, the more I come to understand that all writers feel this way at times. Knowing that even extremely well-known writers have felt (and still may feel) the same feelings as we do, can bring some comfort to an anxious author.

Actually, it’s not even just authors I should be addressing here as what I am talking about isn’t only something that affects authors or other creative types (although we might be the ones to beat ourselves up a bit more about our work, etc.)

Even composing something as simple as an email or text message to a person we are trying to impress can encourage negative/self-deprecating feelings no doubt to a lesser degree, but maybe enough to bring on those gremlins.

Work without anxiety or be ready to be punished

What Can Writers Do

What can writers do about their writing anxieties? I’d be lying if I said a “one size fits all” cure was in existence to alleviate every writer’s anxieties. Using a combination of strategies can go a long way when it comes to steering us poor creatives into a better place.

Know Yourself as a Writer

Be aware of the warning signs and distress triggers before your anxieties build up and take you to an impossible place. e.g. If you know you get anxious near deadline time worrying about whether you’ll make the deadline at all, set yourself a deadline one day before the piece is actually due.

Moreover, get a friend to look at your work with fresh eyes one day before you submit it as well, to ensure that it’s grammatically correct, etc. when it’s finally time to hit the “submit” you’ll hopefully feel less stressed.

Tiredness is not your Friend

I mentioned earlier that writing during your least productive time should be avoided. Rise early to complete a piece if the morning is when you do your best work.

If you know that the last time you submitted your work to client during the evening, you lay awake worrying about it, submit during the day instead, that way if you feel low about it afterward, re-writing or re-reading in the day is more productive than feeling overwhelmed at night when the gremlins can take over.

Be Rational

If you don’t hear from a client, see your work on their website or in their publication when you were expecting it to go in, it does not necessarily mean they hate it.

The client may be busy dealing with office catastrophes or scheduling your work to fit into a different magazine issue etc. Or she/he could be at lunch or on vacation. All manner of things could be occurring, so hold fire on beating yourself up. I know, it’s a cliche, but sometimes, no news really is good news!

Step Away from your PC

We all know that things can get more than frustrating when you’ve been working on something for a long time. Fresh air is your friend, go get some then surprise yourself on your return the Frantzen way, by creating some kick-ass sentences to ignite your confidence and lessen the frustration.

Love and Laugh

Ok, forgive me for rounding this off by getting a little sentimental, but writing can be like love in some ways. The reason why we become consumed by love is because we have an overwhelming desire for someone. We let writing anxiety consume us because we care so much about doing a good job once we’ve had the guts to expose ourselves within the writing arena.

And like the love arena, you feel so bad about your work when you don’t know where you are with the client, the same way as being unsure of how things stand with a loved one exposes vulnerabilities. But being elated in either arena can make everything okay (which is why we love and which is why writers write; love is a worthy risk despite its torture.)

Being a writer is a worthy risk despite its torture too. It takes courage to love and courage to write, be proud of yourself for caring so much, despite the pain.

Take it easy, boy

On a final note, try not to take yourself too seriously, laugh lots and enjoy your craft. Whenever you or any of your writer friends need something to ignite a smile, read this edition of the Pessimist about writing:

It will most likely turn every single coping mechanism I’ve written about on its head, but if it’s humorous anxiety obliteration you’re after don’t hesitate and click on the link.

If you’d like to share any coping strategies that I haven’t mentioned here, be sure to get in touch.

 

###

Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in touch!

Do you suffer from trying to be perfect? If you have relatable thoughts or experiences of having or dealing with the pain of perfectionism, please share. The first 10 commenters are always my favorite and I like to personally communicate with them via email. So share your thoughts. Any other questions please feel free to share with the community.

Hacking Instagram Growth: How To Get From Zero to A Celebrity Status

I have been using Instagram for only 8 months now and observing the very successful and unsuccessful IGers, I have some thoughts to share. The following post is my crystallized tips on how you can experience explosive growth (like me) and gain very high user engagement on Instagram. This post is all about hacking Instagram. Ready?

I am going to do this blog post a little different. First, I’ll give you the main course. Then I will serve you the dessert (i.e my own growth story and timeline) and then finally I will serve the appetizers (what I am going to do in the next 6 months).

You should chew on the main course and try to apply them to your own strategy. Then you can move on to the appetizers and try to do the same and match results after 6 months.

 

Hacking Instagram Growth

1. Engagement Rate

Engagement is the number of likes, comments, shares, mentions, tags, etc. Remember, engagement with your fans is much, much higher in importance than your number of followers. Or even the total number of Likes.

For example, @The.Naked.Soul has a little over 44,000 followers but our average Likes is somewhere in 300-400 range and average comment per media is 20ish something. That’s not a lot, but that’s not bad either. However, I would like to increase my engagement score.

Now, consider doing this exercise. Go to Instagram and find out at least two accounts (that are your size, +/- 20%) that get a lot more comments and/or likes than you. After you have found them, follow them (try to build a relationship with them). If they do not follow back, it’s okay.

Your main job is to study their post, timing, the way they write their caption and how they interact with their fans. Â Study them and try their techniques, one at a time. See what clicks with your audience. Stick with the best and leave what doesn’t work.

the.naked.soul Instagram account

 

2. Account Age

The longer you have been posting on Instagram, the more likely is that the people those who follow you will remember you (your name or your brand name). Over time, seeing your name regularly in their homepage feed, your followers will begin to trust you more, read more from you and perhaps even begin to connect with you more.

How long have you been Instagram matters! If you are reading this, my guess is you are a (relatively speaking) new account. Don’t worry. Keep patient.

Know that Instagram has only ~700 million users and at least a good 10% of them are dupes and scam accounts. My guess is the real “active” users must be in the range of 500M. So what does this mean?

This means that as more and more people join Instagram, your account will be considered older in due time. So remember, account age – it matters and over time, this factor will get in your favor as you are here for a long haul.

Naked_Soul_Poems Instagram account

 

3. Post Frequency

The more frequently you post, the more you are going to stay in people’s short term memory. The world today is an overcrowded place with too much information flow out there. People have a very short attention span.

To be remembered and trusted as a reputable brand name, you have to be constantly out there. You can not afford to not have an active presence. Besides, the more frequently you post, the more new people you reach out to. People live in different time zones and new people find you using hashtags. Each time you make a new post, your use of hashtags makes you reach new potential fans.

One more point, the more frequently you post, you increase your chances of being read by your followers. Remember, your average fans are also fans of many other things. They have several things to read at any given time. When you post frequently, you can hope that they notice you and actually read your content. And no engagement can occur unless someone feels connected to your words.

I suggest you post 3-4 time per day. This should be a cardinal rule, not to be broken at any cost.

4. Post Good Original Content

Okay, so this comes right after the point made above that you should post frequently. But you should not post recycled and boring content.

Try to post original content if they are not world class. Occasionally, you can throw in a good quote or a sweet little poem or a cute puppy picture or a half-naked selfie but try to post interesting, never seen before, new content. It could be an artsy view of the street lamp in your city or it could be anything as long as it’s artful and interesting.

Also, when you post original content you tend to get more quality followers who really enjoy your Instagram gallery. These people are priceless since they really enjoy you.

What to do if you do not have tons of good, original content? Well, in the beginning, keep to one post a day and build from there. Also being under the pressure that you got to make a new quality post will also spark your creativity. Post one original, and one daily quote.

As you can see, I have come down from 1000 new followers a week to 376 new followers last week.

 

5. Alliances

No man or woman can achieve much on their own. You need help from other people. It is crucial to build relationships with other similar accounts (early on) to gain additional visibility. Everything at the end of the day comes down to “trust”. When you build partnerships and alliances, you gain instant trust in the eyes of the fans of your partner. Use this strategy effectively.

Action Item: Find alliances you can partner with other accounts (your size) for the long term. Do not do blind shout-4-shout, as doing this a lot will make your account look “too promotional”. When I started @The.Naked.Soul account, I did some S4S (perhaps ten in total) but only after I had gained at least 1000 followers. And I never did s4s more than once a week, and rarely twice per week.

Tip: Post a lot of great content first. Gain followers. Aim to cross 1000 followers mark, or 500 (depending on your goal) and only then engage in #S4S. 

 

Naked_Soul_Poems Instagram account

 

6. Free Giveaways & Challenges

Do free giveaways based on some sort of challenge, lucky draw or even better create a competition. Plan on doing something in the next 7-10 days. No worries, trust me, give it a try. Once you have created some giveaway and/or challenge, track your performance. Write your case study and then share here in the comments.

Also, by doing these sort of thing you will get comfortable doing any future promotional event. If you are a writing account, consider organizing 8 words or 9 words poetry contests or week-long poetry challenge. Try anything new and creative. Give it a twist.

This will not only engage people but also propel words about your account. Moreover, people always love free stuff. Remember, “free” is an effective marketing strategy. The more people participate, the more new followers you gain.

7. Ton Comments and DMs

Okay, so this is the last armament in our arsenal, but very important. Without this nothing will happen. To grow on Instagram you will have to expose your account (your media be it pictures, videos or even written quotes) in front of a large audience. This is humanly not possible. This is where steps 7 – 9  comes into play.

First, you need to start engaging with real people out there. Nothing happens until you meet a few right people.

A few right Instagram friends and your comments start soaring which in turn draws other people and comment and engage in a conversation. You start commenting and building a relationship. Doing this consistently will get you cross 1000 followers mark easily.

However, if you are aiming for 100,000 followers or 1 Million followers, read on.

Next, you need a tool that you can automate to send Likes and comments on your behalf. Automated comments mostly come as spammy and therefore I do not recommend it.

Sending mass Likes is one easy way to expose your username to thousands of users on a daily basis. A lot of these users (whom you have given Likes) would check you by clicking on your username. On your profile if they find that they like your gallery or if you are an interesting person, they will follow you. Some of these people will be themselves interesting and you can follow them back.

There are three tools that I have used in the past to achieve this goal. They all work but the best two are:

1. Instamacro

2. Instagress

In this step, also remember to geo-tag your pictures as well as it will help people looking for users or pictures from a particular place find you. I used to geotag places around Boston but now I simply put my website in location.

This is another way users can see your home address without having the need to go to your bio page. (Please keep in mind, only a fraction of your followers will be checking your bio after they have followed you. So if you have a website, make sure to take advantage of geo-tagging.)

Naked_Soul_Poems Instagram account. % of pictures with geolocation

8. Engage with your Competitor’s Followers

Next, as mentioned above, you need some power users. Users those are actively engaging with the content similar to yours. One of the best ways to find such active users is by looking at the comments on the pictures of your closest competitors. Read the comments, reply to a few of the commenters.

This strategy works best when the account is so large that they ignore all the comments/commenters all together. But people ask questions in the comments all the time. This is your opportunity. Answer the unanswered questions. Â Actively engage with these audiences.

Remember they are the power users. These people have already shown interest in the niche that you are part of. Turn your competitors’ followers into your followers.

How do you do this? There are four things that you can do:

a. Follow some of these users

b. Like their photos (if they are public accounts)

c. Comment on their photos, ask questions, appreciate, talk

d. Send a Direct message (talk about why you think you guys are similar)

 

The more you engage, the more output you’ll get. Above all, never forget that you are dealing with human beings with feelings and emotions. In execution of any of these strategies, do not do anything rash. Keep patient, go slow and keep reasonable goals. Over time your account (business or personal) will grow.

9. Sponsored Posts, Product Reviews, Shout Outs

Now we come to the most important strategy. All the above-mentioned strategies will bring you the result but not at a pace which can make your account cross 100K followers in 6 months or 12 months. To really create a big Instagram follower, you would need a shout out from a big account or better many big accounts.

These endorsements, or call it sponsored post can be free or paid. The way you can have a big account give you a shout out is by sending your product for their review. They get a free gift and they post a picture of your yours or your product with your account name in their caption and boom! There you go!

This is where you start making a measurable impact. You need to DM and/or email to other, larger accounts in your niche, exposing your brand to their audience.

So how do you do that?

First, make a list of all the large accounts in your niche. (Usually 10K-300K). Leave accounts with millions of followers for now as they will most likely not hear to your request or their cost will be beyond your humble budget.

Second think beyond your niche. If you are a flower business, think of gardens, love poetry and other flower related domains.

Third, make sure you are already following these accounts, if not, follow them before you reach out to them.

Fourth, find their email address and email them. If email is not available, DM them and also comment and ask your question that you have a question how can you contact them.

When you finally do get a hold of them, ask them if they would like to receive your product for review. Tell them that you think they will like it and you have following them for some time now and you can guess if this would be a nice thing for them to try, read, apply, review, etc.

Second, ask them their sponsored post pricing. This is to be asked even if you are giving away a free product. Especially, if the account is above 100K followers, ask them. Smaller accounts will give you a shout out for no cost but larger accounts might charge you since they might be getting similar pitches from other people as well.

Third, depending on the size of their audience, stick to $19-$49 per post shout out/endorsement.

10. Instagram Tools for Productivity

There are hundreds of tools out there that can help you and your Instagram strategy. In this post I mentioned five key ones help you build your audience and engaged them.

1. IconoSquare (formally Statigram)- An app that provides analytics and insights into your account, followers and much much more. (All the screenshots and pictures inserted in this post is taken from IconoSquare)

2. Schedugram – Schedule your Instagram post for the most engaging times. If you have trouble finding times to make posts on Instagram, this tool is your savior.

3. Webstagram – A tool to find the best hashtags for your posts and people for your sponsored/endorsement posts. When you do a search for particular keywords, Webstagram will also show you the top Instagram accounts that feature those keywords.

My Plans for the next 6 months

Okay, so what’s next for me personally. As I said earlier, all the above-mentioned strategies are the tested ways to grow your followers count or to grow your brand engagement score.

However, as I have started to give more time to this blog, I have become more passive towards my Instagram growth. But, I want to change that. I do want to blog more frequently but not at the cost of slowing down my Instagram growth rate. So this is what I am going to do in the next 6 months.

1. I have not taken advantage of Sponsored posts (even though I have seen it since day one). I am going to make a list of big accounts (50K – 400K) and them send them a copy of my book and artworks and will ask for a free or paid shout out.

2. I am going to restart using Instagress/Instamacro. I used them for the most part of my earlier growth but then stopped using it. So, I will be reusing the auto-Likes feature. I am not so sure about the auto-comments at this time.

3. I am going to blog more frequently. This way I am gaining exposure that is beyond Instagram. This will also lead to further growth on my Instagram.

4. I’ll start pre-scheduling my Instagram posts. My goal is to post more frequently. My current average post frequency is 1.5 posts a day. I want to increase it to 4 posts a day.

5. I’ll keep following and taking advantage of all of the above 1-10 steps, tools and techniques.

 

###

Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in touch!

Have you used any of the tools mentioned in the post today? If you know of any other strategies to hack Instagram super growth that I have missed here, please let me know in the comments below. Also, if you are going to use my strategies, and find success, please leave me a comment as well. Any other comments, please feel free to share your rich thoughts with us.

The Future Of Publishing & Two Free Audiobooks For You

There is a lot of uncertainty regarding the future of publishing. Indie authors and traditionally published writers talk about this all the time.

The future of publishing is one of the favorite dinner table talks for anyone related to the business of ink and white papers.

Today you cannot read a single interview of a big name author and not having seen the overly used question, “..according to you, what is the future of publishing? Where do you see it going by 2020?”

Print and Digital

Well, first of all, there is no denying that a great shift is happening towards digital publishing and the landscape of publishing is changing dramatically. But there is also another fact, that it is almost impossible to predict the future.

We can correctly guess a few things that are going to happen but we cannot say for sure if the printed books will die or if the printing business will change completely. After reading almost anything (and everything) on this subject matter, here is my short summary attempting to answer the million dollar question.

Also, below the bullet point summary, I also present the powerful tools from Amazon that you should use (if you are not already using it).

The Future of Publishing & Books

Besides the obvious things that we all can guess, here are my 29 specific observations on the future of ink, book, and publishing.

1. Self-publishing will continue to rise as the de-facto route to publishing new content.

2. We’ll see more highly specialized books mainly as eBooks (for example, a book dedicated to just one insect, or a book on “Sailing in the Bay of Bengal”, etc).

3. Book pre-orders (both print and eBook) will now determine the authors those who would hit the Bestseller Lists.

4. After a few years, once a lot of people have flooded the bestseller lists of some sort, bestseller lists and that tag will mean less and less. Consumers will buy books from authors they love or topics they want to explore or read about. Best seller name tag would mean somewhat but it will lose its charm.

5. eBook retailers will embrace self-published authors. (this is already happening)

6. Book Size (page, dimension, print run, etc) will no longer matter in the book publishing world. One size will, however, will matter most — the size of one’s audience.

7. Amazon’s power and reach will keep growing. Today, almost 70-80% of all eBooks sales happen on the Kindle platform. The more people read books in the electronic form, the bigger the Kindle and the Kindle app business will get.

8. Amazon will offer free books but will charge for the book recommendation. Amazon already knows a lot about its customers and what kind of books people buy. The recommending engine (and A.I) will be the key, notifying a customer when a new book by a favorite author comes out, and so on.

In an era where the consumer is the king, Amazon gets it and is clearly winning by a huge margin. Traditional publishers won’t even come close.

9. Audiobooks sales will increase. Audio books will become popular as more and more people have less time and more books to read. People are commuting long distances for work and as more and more people are getting into the gym, audio books are gaining big time. Plus, audio books (when produced well has its own charm).

10. Also, as more and more people grow tired of reading on screen and feel tired in their eyes they will switch to audio books. As you get older or during your peak years, you would like to spend the time building something instead of sitting with a thick book. People age between 25-45 will be the biggest Audio-book customers.

11. Podcast will see an increase (for the same reason as mentioned above). Most people listen to Podcast on their phone when they drive to work or at the gym.

12. Traditional publishers will begin building relationships with their loyal readers. They will start offering gifts, giveaways, and will lower the book prices to match up with the competition.

13. Traditional publishers (just like the Indie writers) will enter into Podcasting, TV, Blogging, and radio.

14. Hybrid self-publishing (or smaller vanity press) will be a whole new market. Although Vanity press has been in existence for as long as publishing has been flourishing. But the hybrid businesses we are talking about are the ones which will prove on-demand customized services, for example, help with marketing or help with cover design and artwork/illustrations only.

15. People will slowly, slowly being to think Piracy is good. Some piracy will be advocated and will be a sign of demand of a certain sincere voice. Authors will take piracy as testing the waters and as positive signals from the masses.

16. The print books will not die. They will sell less (because of the increase in eBooks and Audio books) but print will remain in demand.

17. College text books will become cheaper and more students will start publishing eBook format of guides, exam papers, text book solution guides, etc.

18. Big name authors will sell their books directly from their website. (Often as an eBook and Print-on-demand (POD).

19. Free books will no longer bring you new readers. There will be a ton of great free books already flooding the market. The number one thing for all writers will be developing a sincere authentic voice and building their platform (their tribe).

20. Many fiction writers will publish their novels as chapters first on their blog. If by chapters 4 or 5, readers show interest, the author might turn the rest of the book as an eBook and offer up for sale. If the readers are lukewarm, the writer may just publish his entire novel for free on his/her blog as a way to attract new visitors.

21. Developing countries and African countries will become a big market for books published in the English language – good fiction, self-help non-fiction, medicine, technology, business, etc will be the most in demand.

22. Smart writers will start taking advantage of the subscription model and this will drive more people to read more books in the years ahead.

23. New copyrights laws will be made regarding print and digital books or any content for that matter.

24. More books will be written as joint-projects involving two or more writers (including fiction). This will be mainly done to gain more exposure in order to sell more books. Multi-authorship will become the norm.

25. Word-of-mouth will become the only channel that will actually sell any book (in decent volume) as consumers get flooded with thousands of new books published every day.

26. More people will read. Contrary to the belief, more people will read and consume some sort of print or digital text. Whether you are reading a poem on Instagram or a micro-story on Twitter. People who never touched books will be consuming books in bits and pieces. This is good.

27. The biggest authors will have their most money made by selling the film rights and not from the author’s royalties. Similarly, the smaller writer will make the most money from speaking engagements and consulting than from their book sales.

28. Some of the new best selling authors will come from the countries we have not heard of before.

29. There will be a lot more great creative stories and overall the quality of literary fiction will improve.

For example, The Lord Of The Rings and Harry Potter will not be the only magical books or work of great fiction. We have already seen this shift happen with The Game of Thrones.

The Power of Amazon

Amazon is the world’s largest book retailer. These are some simple hacks that you should already be taking advantage of.

   

1. Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. Then after the free 30 days, join it. The amazon prime service cost $99 per year and it gives you five unique benefits.

a. Unlimited FREE two-day shipping (no minimum order size) – yes from a single book order to ordering your supplements or anything imaginable.

b. Borrow Kindle books for free (once per month)

c. Instant Film/Video – Prime members can watch over 40,000 movies (and the list is growing) thousands of movies and thousands of TV shows at no additional cost.

Join Amazon Prime – Watch Over 40,000 Movies & TV Shows Anytime – Start Free Trial Now (Click Here)

d. Music -Prime Music provides unlimited, ad-free access to Prime Playlists and more than a million songs and albums at no additional cost.

e. Photo Storage – Prime Photos provides unlimited photo storage in Amazon Cloud Drive with an additional 5GB of free storage space for active Prime members in the U.S.

One bonus benefit

If you tell your friends about Amazon Prime and if they join and make a $5 purchase, you’ll $5 towards your next purchase.

Once you join, you can refer to your friends via email or simply share on Facebook or social media.

Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Click Here)

2. Students Listen – Amazon Student FREE two-day shipping for college students.

Best of all try it for FREE for the first 30 days. Then move on to the paid membership. Your student membership program offers special benefits such as:

a. Unlimited FREE Two-Day Shipping (with no minimum order size)

b. Exclusive deals and promotions (month to month)

 

Join Amazon Student FREE Two-Day Shipping for College Students (Click Here)

3. Try Audible 30 days FREE and Get Two Free Audiobooks

As mentioned above, these days more and more people are listening to Audio books. It is easy to read more and finish up books faster when you listen an audio book while you drive or cook or are exercising.

Switch between print books and audio version and read a lot of content faster. Also, we absorb information differently when it comes to visual vs. listening.

For maximum retention, it is great to listen to a book and then read it or vice-versa. For example, I loved listening to Stephen King’s book “On Writing” in his own voice. What a delight to listen to someone whom you admire.

Audible offers the world’s largest selection of digital audio-books and spoken word content. You can listen anytime and anywhere to professionally-narrated audio-books across a wide range of genres.  

Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks (Click Here)

 

###

Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in touch!

If you have an interesting and inspirational story to share regarding how you are leveraging the power of Amazon, please email me. (As I find more pointers, I will add them to my list.) Any other comments, please feel free to share your rich thoughts with us.

How to Handle Trolls and Haters Online | The Dark Side of Internet

Trolls and haters lurk in the depths of social media networks and their comments and actions can lead to a variety of emotions including anger, annoyance, frustration, and even hurt feelings.

There is a distinction between these two terms that should be clarified. Trolls are often spam artists and input comments to social media posts that are often not even related to the topic at hand. Haters are those who are out to insult the work of other people and inflict their hatred in social communities and forums among other places.

 

Critics Vs. Haters

However, someone disagreeing with you or your online content (even if they are loud and vocal about their differences) cannot be called a Troll or a Hater.

In a civilized society, ideas are discussed, not individuals. The simple rule here is to stick to the “issue at hand” and refrain from making any personal attacks. In summary: critics are not haters.

For example, if someone has an opposing viewpoint than yours and comments or questions on your blog, YouTube videos or social media posts, you cannot (and should not) label such a person as a troll or a hater. Because labeling someone with such derogatory term is also a form of attack. That’s not good, right! Do we all agree here?

Okay, cool. But we are not here to talk about who is a troll or not. We are here to talk about how to protect ourselves from malicious haters and stupid trolls freely roaming out there in the wild west of internet.

The various ways that trolls and haters represent themselves online were explored in an excellent way in an earlier civinomics blog post. The author described the ways that haters represented themselves in a list.

Haters

1. They always find fault and focus on the negative

2. They express themselves harshly and dismissively

3. They often characterize what others say in broad terms presenting a straw man argument which they then cut to shreds

4. They donâ€t acknowledge information to the contrary, they do not give thanks when given what they want

5. They are never satisfied

 

Trolls were described as people who “outrage and then tease the gullible into trying to save them, argue with them, prove them wrong, or whatever.” Their representations were enumerated in the following list:

1. They get personal

2. They insult and attack and provide a direct emotional response

3. They escalate to keep the fun going

4. They will never stop unless something more fun occupies their attention

 

Keep Calm and Be a Flower

There are different methods that can be implemented to reduce the influence of the haters and trolls that infect your social media channels, post reviews about your writing, or affect your personal life.

Keep your cool. Shine bright.

A freelance writer, Andrew Hutchinson, wrote an article, “Bullies, Trolls, and Haters: Dealing with Negativity on Social Media” on LinkedIn that explored methods for resolving issues that arise with these types of individuals. These methods included:

1. Listen to all feedback

a. Analyze what has been said about you and your writing, absorb it, and take from it any useful advice.

2. Seek to improve what you can (in line with your mission):

a. Know what it is that you were trying to accomplish with your writing and be confident if you know that you achieved your goal with your writing

3. Accept that you can’t please everyone:

a. Not everyone will like what you produce and thought it may be difficult, it is important to accept it, live with what they said, and try to move on

b. If you understand the path you’re on and what you need to do to achieve your goals, you’ll be more resilient and able to accept the opinions of other individuals

 Mr. Hutchinson provides good insight into being empathetic towards individuals who dislike or insult your work. He says in his article,

Be empathetic – everyone has issues in their life, complications that affect them in ways you can’t possibly know or understand. More often than not, negativity is not about you, keep that in mind and respond with kindness where possible. But also know that some minds can’t be changed. Sometimes you’re better to cultivate the community you have than expend effort on the resolution you’re never going to achieve.

 

Methods of Positivity

Some propose that the best way to handle trolls and haters is to take a step back and be polite when addressing these people. You should never stoop to their level. Do not confront them but instead respond in a way that shows that you have understood their message and will resolve to address the issues they may have with you or your writing.

Haters and trolls may impact your professional life as well. I have had coworkers that have belittled me and insulted my intellectual abilities and although their words and actions did hurt (in the beginning) I was eventually able to move on and realize that perhaps these were not the types of people I needed to have in my life.

To some degree, we are responsible for who we invite in our lives. I realized that I wanted to surround myself with positive individuals who know how to support me (or my work) and accept me for who I am. In any relationship (where two people know each other), mutual respect is not only healthy but crucial.

It can be very difficult when there are negative individuals in your life but it is important to remember that not everything they say about you is true. Try to be confident and rise above the criticisms and insults they hurl your way.

As it was mentioned previously, try to look deeper and find out where the hater’s or troll’s negativity is coming from and there might be issues that they may be coping with in their personal life.

One excellent quote by Jane Roberts that succinctly summarizes what your approach to handling haters and trolls should be is the following,

You should tell yourself frequently, I will only react to constructive suggestions.

This gives you positive ammunition against your own negative thoughts and those of others.

Negativity is an ugly fact of life that we all must cope with at some point in our lives. The key is to try to refrain from letting it impact you in such a way that it takes hold over how you live your life.

Life is too fleeting to let it overshadow the great things that you know that you are capable of accomplishing. I know from personal experience how words can affect you and have learned from others that you can’t let the haters and nay-sayers affect how you perceive yourself as an individual.

 

###

Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in touch!

So how do you fight trolls and haters? Or you simply ignore them. Please feel free to share your comments and thoughts with us.

How To Write Faster? Writing A Million Words In A Year

We all know about prolific writers such as James Patterson and Stephen King that are somehow able to produce anywhere between two to five books or more in a single year.

Are there tricks and techniques that they employ to produce books at such a high rate? This article will enable you to learn how to become like these authors and possibly even write a million words in a year.

Before we begin, let’s do some simple arithmetic:

If your goal is to write a million words each year, all you have to do is write 1000000/365= 2740 words each day.

Considering, you’ll only be able to write five days per week (on average), this brings you at 2740 words per day for (52 weeks x 5 days) = 260 days of writing. Now (260 days x 2740 words per day) =  712400 words.

Now, let’s say, 30% of what your write is omitted (not, re-written, but completely omitted during the revision and editing). This will bring your total word count to (70% of 712400 words) ~ 500,000 (half-million) words.

Writing Million Words

Now, consider for a moment, what can you produce with half million words each year? Let’s do the maths. Say, an average novel is 100,000 words and a book of 10 short stories (each short story approximately 10,000 words long) is 100,000 words. So just with 300,000 words you have published two novels and a collection of short stories. And you will still have 200,000 words left.

Wow, congratulations, at this pace, you will be able to write a dozen of novels and short stories collections and perhaps poetry collection and blog posts in just few years. Isn’t that amazing!

How To Write Faster

So what is my point here?  And more importantly, why not every writer not writing more? The reason is it is not simple to write 2740 words each day, five days per week for 52 weeks straight. You may ask, why so?

Because people cannot write fast enough. It’s not that writer’s run out of ideas but that their thoughts often time run much faster than what their hand can type or write.

So what can you do? Read on and comment at the end. If you are reading this, I challenge you to join me in 1 million words a year mission. If you can do it, it will benefit you more than me. Are you with me?

A blogger, Karen Woodward, summarized the techniques used by one author, Chuck Wendig, who was committed to writing 3000 words a day in a blog post. Read it here on her blog.

In summary, Chuck tips included:

1. Doing your writing in the morning. He wrote, “Writing in the morning has more potential than writing in the evening and hereâ€s why: writing at the end of the day means the candle is burning down. The timer is ticking. Youâ€re watching the horizon eat the sun and with it, the remaining hours before sweet, sweet slumber. Write at the end of the day, youâ€re racing the clock. Write at the fore of the day, you own the clock.”

2. Waking up an hour earlier. Woodward explained that waking up earlier results in greater productivity. You should also make sure to attain at a minimum seven hours of sleep a night.

3. Drinking coffee in moderation.

4. Using your time to write. Wendig stated, “If you’re going to write a lot, you’re going to need to feint and duck, stick and move, and reach in to grab fistfuls of time-flesh and use it for your own sinister purposes: in this case, writing. Got a lunch break? Write. Sitting at a long stop light? Take a few quick voice notes on your phone.”

5. Maintaining a schedule with the amount of work you’ll need to complete each day to meet your deadlines.

6. Outlining the content of your manuscript. Wendig wrote, “If you start the day with a mission statement already in play thanks to an outline, you can jump in, eschew any planning the day might require, and just start writing. The goal is to give as much of your time to actually telling the story as you can.”

7. Asking your loved ones for the time you need to write.

8. Finishing your first draft without editing as you go.

9. Do not doubt your ability to produce a great story.

Writing A Million Words

Write my friends, write
Tell your stories
Write, then write some more

The origin of the challenge to write a million words in a year is credited to Raymond Chandler (1888 – 1959) who had the idea that to make a living; pulp writers had to produce a million words a year. A key component of writing this quantity of words is keep track of your daily word count.

One blogger, Alasdair Stuart, wrote though that this method only made him more anxious and finally succumbed to the fact that he could not produce a million words in a year. He wisely stated:

“What’s important is the willingness to try something new that will push you and shape you and make you stronger coming out the other side.”

However, setting word counts did work for one writer, Anthony Trollope, whose goal was to write 250 words every fifteen minutes. His method of writing was detailed by the writer, William F. Buckley, in an interview with the Paris Review, when he stated,

“He had a note pad that had been indexed to indicate intervals of 250 words. He would force himself to write 250 words per 15 minutes. Now, if at the end of 15 minutes he hadn’t reached one of those little marks on his page, he would write faster.”

In an article published on Slate.com by Michael Agger, strategies for writing faster were explored.

He wrote, “Since writing is such a cognitively intense task, the key to becoming faster is to develop strategies to make writing literally less mind-blowing. It’s obviously a huge help to write about a subject you know well. In that case, the writer doesn’t have to keep all of the facts in her working memory freeing up more attention for planning and composing.”

Another strategy for increasing your volume of writing is to write in longhand. An author, Karen Dionne, wrote an article for Huffington Post, describing why this method is so successful.

She wrote:

When an author working on a computer makes a typo, as I just did by typing “Whwn” instead of “When” at the beginning of this sentence, they stop and fix it. Why shouldn’t they? The mistake will have to be corrected at some point, the author has noted the error in the here and now, and it only takes a second to correct it.

When I write in longhand, I don’t write “whwn” when I mean to write “when”. Occasionally, I cross out a word or a sentence, but there are no distracting typos, no time consuming regressions.

Writing Speed Tips

Five tips for improving writing speed were examined in a blog post on the website of Hootsuite, a social media management application, with these strategies:

1. Skip the Introduction – write your piece without the constraints of a planned introduction or lead.

2. Don’t Get Caught Up in the Wording – you have to maintain a rhythm while writing and keep the momentum going. Leave placeholders when you have difficulty figuring out what word to use in a particular context.

3. Keep Your Research in the Document – copy any quotes, information, or statistics at the bottom of your document before you start and put a line across the page to distinguish between your writing and the research you’ve compiled.

4. Write What You’ve Got – be concise and make your writing easy to digest for readers.

5. Talk It Out – ask a colleague for their perspective on your topic as they may offer a perspective that may alter the direction of your article.

 

It is now evident that writing faster is a topic that is has been discussed frequently by writers. The tips and tricks discussed in this article can certainly enable you to become a more productive writer.

An important thing to remember though is to never skimp on the quality of your work when you increase the speed at which you write.

 

###

Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in the touch!

Was this post interesting? Are you taking on this challenge? Just for one year to test what can you achieve using this method and mindset?Please feel free to share your comments and thoughts with us.

Questions About Book Publishing: How to Self Publish a Book?

I am writing this blog post in response to several emails that I get each week. These emails usually start like: How do I get published? How to self-publish a book? How to publish my poetry book?

In this blog post, I am going to attempt to make book-publishing simple for all of you aspiring writers.

The Naked Soul Partners

How to Self Publish a Book

I hope most of you already know something about publishing. In case, if you are a beginner in the publishing game, by the end of this blog post, I hope you will graduate as a publishing champ.
On the other hand, even if you have self-published before, this blog post will add some new information to your existing knowledge base.
I am going to share my own self-publishing journey and experience. Like my other blogs, I am going to be as detailed here as much possible (without getting distracted from our topic here).

Many of you might have heard of “less is more” adage before. Therefore, for the sake of clarity, we are also going to leave many of the tangential topics. I will cover them separately in other blog posts based on your comments.

Let’s begin. If you are someone having a question similar to this one, “I have my manuscript ready, now how do I publish my book?”, you are going to be happy.
I have been asked these questions so many times. These are all great questions (and it should not be mistaken as generic or common sense).
Because what the questioner is really asking is “How did you do it? Where to publish? And why? Tell me more about it from an insider’s perspective? How much will it cost me? How does the publishing process work? What are the challenges that you had to face? How much does it really cost? Is book publishing really for me? What are the steps that you had to take?”
How to self-publish / The Naked Soul Partners

Questions About Book Publishing

I self-published my debut poetry book “Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems” under my own Publishing house “Naked Soul Press”. My Print-on-Demand service was CreateSpace (owned by Amazon and now simply Amazon KDP).
I had $2000 budget and a finished second-draft manuscript. This is what I did.

Get ISBN

1. I bought my own ISBN (through CreateSpace, $99). There are many benefits to owning your own ISBN but the primary one is it allows you the freedom to utilize this ISBN with another publisher should you choose to do so.

Create a Publishing House

2. I created a publishing name (I created Naked Soul Press, $0). I have not registered the name yet but will do in the future. Cost: $250 annually.

Hire Best Editors

3) I hired the best editor(s) to do copy & line edit (I teamed up with two good editors on elance, $175 + $130)
4) I did third full-length line editing, $210

Hire the Best Designers

5) I hired the best cover designer (I used CreateSpace service, $599)
6) I hired someone to format (interior) of the print book (I used CreateSpace service, $349)
7) I hired the best artist to create 30 original images for my book, $150
8) Insert images into the book (CreateSpace custom interior additional charges), $380

Rest of the things

8) LCCN Assignment, $25
10) Kindle Conversion, $79
Total production cost: $2196 ($196 over budget).
For my next book, I will be saving my cost on Cover design. I like my cover but I feel $599 is a lot for it.
The other place I can save money is by having fewer images. You can totally save this cost if your book does not contain any pictures or illustrations.
Note: People often confuse CreateSpace or Lulu as publishers but they are just print-on-demand (POD) services. Among the top three: CreateSpace (KDP), Lulu, and LighteningSource, KDP (CreateSpace) is the best.
Understand, KDP has its own issues and is not one size fits all, but relatively speaking, it is the best option available in the market.

Be Confident. You Can Do It.

If you are seeking external validation and confirmation of your ability to publish, I am here to tell you, yes, you can do it. If you are reading this blog, you have it in you. Eventually, you will make it.

Also, your feelings and fears are totally human. Even self-confident people have self-doubts. We all need some motivations at times and especially whenever we enter into unfamiliar, new territory.

How and Where to Publish

Now we are going to cover all the necessary steps and expense associated with each individual step in the book production process.

But, first thing first, you have to decide which route you want to go. You’ve finished your novel, a poetry book, or work of non-fiction now you need to find someone who will publish it. Or perhaps you want to publish it yourself.

You can go the traditional way and you’ll have three options in front of you. Or, you can self-publish. In total, you got four choices.

You Have A Choice

You have two routes and four choices in front of you.

Route 1. Traditional Route

There are three categories of the publisher under the traditional model:

Route 1, Option A: Non-Paid Large Publishers: The term non-paid large publishers refers to those publication houses which do not charge author at all to publish the book. They pay you an advance (usually, a little sum these days).

They are your big name New York publishers such as:

  • Hachette
  • Penguin
  • HarperCollins
  • Random House
  • Simon & Schuster
  • Macmillan

Word of caution: Many book publishing companies around the world maintain a strict “no unsolicited submissions” policy and will only accept submissions via a literary agent.

This shifts the burden of assessing and developing writers out of the publishing company and onto the literary agents. At these companies, unsolicited manuscripts are often thrown out or sometimes returned if the author has provided prepaid postage.

Underage Authors

Young authors, please also note that if you’re under 18, publishers tend not to bother with all the legal hassle. Since you are not of age to sign the contract and need parental consent, this brings further problems, and publishers tend to avoid young authors for that reason.

Established authors are often represented by a literary agent to market their work to publishers and negotiate contracts. Literary agents take a percentage of author earnings (varying between 10% to 15%) to pay for their services.

Once you have decided on a few publishers (the more the better), start researching about them. Some choose to publish for adults only selected genres, but all information should be available on their websites. Some have different guidelines and word limits, or whether it needs to be solicited or not.

Some also require a summary. However, almost all publishers require a hard copy (printed) version of your story. Usually, they don’t tend to return them so keep your original with you. Also, keep in mind their specifications.

 

Route 1, Option B: Non-Paid Tiny Publishers: The term non-paid tiny publishers refer to those hundreds of small publication houses which do not charge author at all to publish the book but they also do not pay you anything because they can’t.

They are too small and they are usually publishing books in a niche. Some examples of these publishers are: Lectio Publishing (a Christian publisher), Little Red Tree Publishing (poetry and fiction), etc.

 

Route 1, Option C: Paid Publishers or Vanity Publishing: The author has to meet with the total expense to get the book published and the author has full right to set up marketing policies. This is also known as vanity publishing. This is the worst of all in this route. You not only pay to publish your own books but you also share the rights of your work.

Plus, like option B above, they are usually tiny and they are business model to make money from authors and not the book buyers.

A Word of caution

Some big publishers such as Penguin also operates Vanity presses. The Penguin sponsored Vanity Press is no better than a true Vanity Press. Also, notice the use (or misuse) of the word “vanity”. Ironic, isn’t it?

 

Route 2. Self-Publishing (Modern day, DIY)

If you want to self-publish (which I think you should) then you’ll have many options to choose from.

The big ones are, CreateSpace (now KDP and owned by Amazon) and Lulu.

Many popular authors have self-published their books from Lulu. I self-published under Naked Soul Press using CreateSpace as my print-on-demand printer.

 

Route 2, Option D. Self-Publishing

Self-publishing is the publication of any book or other media by the author of the work, without the involvement of an established third-party publisher.

A self-published physical book is said to be privately printed. The author is responsible for and in control of the entire process, including, in the case of a book, the design of the cover and interior, formats, price, distribution, marketing, and public relations.

The authors can do it all themselves or outsource all or part of the process to companies that offer these services.

Some writers follow a non-standard route to publication. For example, this may include bloggers who have attracted large readerships producing a book based on their website’s content.

Self-publishing is not limited to physical books. You can self-publish your book only as an ebook. There are a variety of eBook formats and tools that can be used to create them. The most popular formats are epub, .mobi, PDF, HTML, and Amazon’s .azw format.

Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords all offer online tools for creating and converting files from other formats to formats that can be sold on their websites.

Because it is possible to create eBooks with no up-front or per-book costs, eBook publishing is an extremely popular option for self-publishers. Some recent bestsellers, such as Hugh Howey’s Wool series, began as digital-only books.

What will you write? / The Naked Soul Partners

Did you know?

Between the Acts (1941), Virginia Woolf’s final novel was self-published by her Hogarth Press. Ezra Pound self-published and sold A Lume Spento (With Tapers Quenched) (1908) for six pence each.

Eleven-year-old John Ruskin sold a book of poetry he self-published with his father. Other authors who self-published include Jane Austen, Emily Dickinson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Martin Luther, Marcel Proust, Derek Walcott, and Walt Whitman.

Many contemporary authors have also self-published. James Altucher’s Choose Yourself (2013) sold 44,294 copies in its first month, debuted at #1 on Amazon’s top non-fiction list, and is a Wall Street Journal bestseller.

J. K. Rowling sold the e-book versions of the Harry Potter series directly from her website, Pottermore.

James Redfield originally self-published The Celestine Prophecy, selling 100,000 copies out of the trunk of his Honda before Warner Books agreed to publish it.

As of May 2005, the book had sold over 20 million copies worldwide, with translations into 34 languages. Celestine Films LLC released a film adaptation titled The Celestine Prophecy (Film) in 2006.

E. L. James first self published her Fifty Shades of Grey novels as an eBook and print-on-demand. Later when the book got viral, the publishing rights were acquired by Vintage Books in March 2012.

Conclusion

Research different publishers. You may choose to self publish, but getting published by a big-time publisher is better for getting a larger audience. Most publishers only choose to publish or even read solicited material (that is, manuscripts have gone through an agent.)

Agents usually also choose to read only material that they are acquainted with or the authors they know. Prices range. However, there are quite a few publishers that do publish unsolicited material, such as Penguin or Allen & Unwin.

But, with the recent changes in the publishing landscape, it is easy to predict that the future of publishing is self-publishing. Most of the large bookstore chains are out of the business or operating on loss. A few remaining ones might not be around in the next 5 years.

Furthermore, note that eBook sales are almost 30% of the total book sales. There is enough evidence to support that people’s buying choices are not related to whether a book is self-published or published by New York publishers.

Lastly, at the end of the day, do what is in your control. If you want to pitch your book to an agent and your book is accepted, cool, if that’s what you want. If not, you can always self-publish.

The Path of Self-Publishing

Assuming, you are going to take the path of self-publishing. Let’s start with the types of self-publishing.

Unless a book is to be sold directly from the author to the public, an ISBN number is required to uniquely identify the title. ISBN is a global standard used for all titles worldwide. Most self-publishing companies either provide their own ISBN to a title or can provide direction.

As a self-published author, I recommend retaining ownership of ISBN ($99 to $125) and copyright instead of using a number owned by a vanity press or POD company such as Lulu or CreateSpace.

Print On Demand

Print-On-Demand (POD) publishing refers to the ability to print high-quality books as needed. For self-published books, this is often a more economical option than conducting a print run of hundreds or thousands of books.

Many companies, such as CreateSpace (owned by Amazon.com), Lulu and Lightning Source allow printing single books at per-book costs not much higher than those paid by publishing companies for large print runs.

Most POD companies also offer distribution through Amazon.com and other online and brick-and-mortar retailers, most often as “special order” or “web-only” as retail outlets are usually unwilling to stock physical books that cannot be returned if they do not sell.

As a general rule of thumb, if you self-publish with Lulu or CS, there is close to 0% chance that your book will be kept in a B&N store. (Do not worry, you will be on their online store)

KDP vs Lulu vs Lightning Source

These are bog three of Self-publishing. They are similar businesses. CreateSpace cream paper is yellowish. So white paper is the only option.

With Lightning Source (even though it’s more work) it has the best options. Lulu is the easiest or as easy to work with as much as CS but they charge a little more than CS for per unit cost per book.

Just so as you know, CreateSpace gets their book printed from the lightning source.

One example could be a book for $3.80 with Lulu can be $2.15 with Lightning Source. Whereas with CreateSpace your unit can be $2.91. For the most part, the quality is the same between the three.

Besides these three there are a ton of other POD companies out there which you can find out by google search.

Read a very detailed article on CS vs Lulu vs LSI here.

Publishing Stages

Publishing includes the stages of the development, acquisition, copy editing, graphic design, printing (and its electronic version), and marketing & distribution.

Pre-production Stage

As editing of manuscript progresses, front cover design and initial layout take place and marketing of the book begins. This is the time you get on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, et al. if you are not already there.

For me personally, this was the time I started an Indiegogo campaign, roughly 8 months before my came out. I also started a Facebook page and Instagram page. I leveraged my existing Twitter, Tumblr and Youtube account. I created this blog.

Editorial Stage

The author works with editors (one or several) and is often asked to improve the quality of the work through rewriting or smaller changes.

The editors often edit the work in two rounds. In round one, they correct the grammar and punctuations. In the second round, they look for the overall flow of the text and coherence. I highly recommend doing two rounds of editing with any editor.

From my experience, editors often choose or refine titles and headlines. The real benefit comes when you take their suggestion seriously and consider improving your manuscript. You do not have to accept all of their changes or suggestions but most of the time they are pointing to a hole in your work.

Editing also involves structural changes and requests for more information. Sometimes you may want to hire an editor to do fact checking for you, particularly for non-fiction work.

Design Stage

After the editing is done, you submit your final manuscript for design. You need to have the book’s interior designed and book cover designed.

Design phase consists of laying out how the page looks, how chapters begin and end, colors, typography, cover design and ancillary materials such as posters, catalog images, and other sales materials.

Since my book also had a lot of illustrations, the design phase was more expensive and longer.

Non-fiction illustrated titles are the most design intensive books, requiring extensive use of images and illustrations, captions, typography and a deep involvement and consideration of the reader experience.

For eBook conversion, the final files are saved as formats appropriate to the target operating systems of the hardware used for reading. These may include PDF files, mobi files, or similar file types. I had CreateSpace do this for me for $79.

Author’s Proof

The first step involves the production of a pre-press proof, which the printers send for final checking and sign-off by the publisher. In the case of self-publishing, this is you.

The author’s proof (or the final proof) shows the book precisely as it will appear once printed and represents the final opportunity for the publisher to find and correct any errors. Some printing companies use electronic proofs rather than printed proofs. Once you have approved the proofs, printing begins.

Book printing process (The Naked Soul Partners)

Printing and Binding Stage

After the end of editing and design work the printing phase begins. Binding follows upon the printing process. It involves folding the printed sheets, securing them together, affixing boards or sides thereto, and covering the whole with leather or soft or hardcover.

In the case of printing-on-demand, the book is not printed until you receive an order for the book from a customer. This procedure ensures low costs for storage and reduces the likelihood of printing more books than will be sold.

Whenever someone orders your book, your book is printed and shipped.

Sales and Marketing Stage

The sales and marketing stage actually starts from the pre-production stage itself. But you need your book cover to really create a buzz.

As front cover images are produced or chapters are edited, you may want to start talking about your book with your ideal readers to build early interest.

I personally tested my poems from Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems on Instagram and Facebook. My original manuscript had almost 150 poems and depending on the feedback from my readers, I would often discuss with my editors.

I removed a lot of poems and finally got down to 97 poems. During this process, I added 12 new poems which were not part of my early editing but were part of the final line editing. The final book came out with 1o9 poems in total.

It is crucial to capture this early interest and also it will help you if you measure your engagement. I also used my reader’s feedback to design my book cover.

The sales and marketing is totally on you. You have got Google ads, Social media, your Blog and Goodreads. You work is to create a buzz around your book and get some early reviews.

For step by step information on how to do this, read my blogs here:

Distribution Stage

The final stage in publication and during Sales and Marketing involves making the product available to the public. The goal is to make your book available to as many places as much possible.

Once a book is printed (or available as POD), you may use a variety of channels to distribute it. You may want to do the following here:

1. Have your book available on Amazon and Kindle store. If you are a first-time author, consider enrolling in Kindle Select.

2. Order some Author’s copy and send to anyone (mainly book bloggers) who would be interested in reviewing your book on Amazon and Goodreads.

3. Try to talk to foreign distributors if you have readers in Australia, New Zealand, and Asian countries. Amazon distributes to USA, Canada, UK and European markets.

4. Talk to local booksellers in your area and offer them the book a commission basis. Offer them 100% return guarantee if the books are not sold.

Resources for Authors

Before we jump into some more Q&A, let me suggest two great books that will really help you.
I enjoyed both of them and learned a lot. These both are a must-read for anyone interested in Self-publishing and future of eBooks.

Questions & Answers

Photo by The Naked Soul Partners

 1. Does CreateSpace (KDP), Lulu, LSI, etc publish poetry books? Children’s books? Non-fiction books? Comics? Fiction?
Technically, CreateSpace or Lulu doesn’t “publish” anything. You publish and they print and distribute your books when a customer orders a copy of your book.
CreateSpace/KDP and Lulu is a printing service. That said KDP or LSI will print just about anything as long as it meets their formatting guidelines.
Note: CreateSpace can print full color, perfect bound, soft cover books. They can do hardcover too, but as author copies only, not for distribution to Amazon or via EDC. If you’re wanting to do your book as a hardcover to sell online, I would suggest looking at Lulu.
2. Should I use the free ISBN? Or $10 ISBN or $99 ISBN?
If you use CS’s free ISBN, CS will be listed as the publisher of record. You may not say, “Published by CreateSpace,” but you may say, “Printed by CreateSpace/KDP.”
 
3. Is it possible to publish a book with a traditional publisher without ending my contract with CreateSpace or Lulu or LSI?”
This will depend on the exclusivity of the publishing contract being offered. If they want exclusive rights which most mainstream publishers will insist on, then you will have to retire the CS/KDP/Lulu/LSI copy of your book
4. Will a publishing company accept on a book that was previously self-published in KDP?
A book once published (even self-published) cannot be automatically re-published elsewhere. Any new version would have to have significant edits and be promoted as a ‘revised and updated’ version of the original.
But truth be told, unless you are a bestselling author, most publishing houses would not want to do this. In essence, a book once self-published is not going to be re-published by a publisher later.
Also, the interesting point is why did you self-publish at all if your only goal was to be later picked up by a traditional publisher. So, let me repeat — if you are only trying to be picked up a big publisher you better become a best seller first.
Alternatively, if your first self-published book is a big hit, your second book can be picked up by a publisher for a good advance.
For example, Amanda Hocking was being picked up by St. Martin’s Press, part of Macmillan (one of the big five, based on the performance of her previous self-published books.
As a self-published author, she has sold more than 1 million copies of her book before this deal came to her.
5. What are the chances of me getting published by a New York Publisher?
It solely depends on your books sales or your potential for getting book sales. publishing companies are businesses and will take advantage of any opportunity to make a profit. once you can establish yourself as marketable, they’re usually a lot more attentive and responsive to you as an author.

But most likely, it will be hard for new writers starting out to get the attention of a publisher — small, medium or large — but there are small presses around who will working with emerging writers, as well as literary agents who can spot the diamond in the slush pile and will represent them to larger publishers.

If you have a strong platform (eg. a frequently updated blog with a decent following and active on social networks) publishers will be more likely to take a chance because the author is already familiar with some of the work they will be required to do to promote their book.

 

6. After self-publishing with CreateSpace for my personal copies, can I edit my book and publishing and sell-through to another publisher or POD?

Yes, you can (with $99 ISBN). Many authors do the proof copy with CreateSpace and later print and distribute through LSI.

 

7. Can I just order the proof copies without publishing my books at all?

Yes, you can. You can decide not to publish for the public.

 

8. I am considering publishing someone else’s book under my imprint (with their permission). Is this allowed at Create Space, Lulu, LSI?

Yes. There are several such publishers using CreateSpace and LSI in this way. CreateSpace is set up to accommodate small to medium publishers as well as single authors. However, a few things to keep in mind.

If you have your own ISBN ($99) and registered imprint name (eg. Naked Soul Press), CreateSpace will not question your right to publish another person’s work, as there is an expectation you will have formal contracts in place.

But, if you are using the free or $10 ISBN, CreateSpace might ask you for proof that the author has granted you permission. You would want to get an email from the author explicitly granting me permission to publish.

 

9. Can a (self-published) writers make their living by just selling their books? Is it possible or it is just an extra source of income?

The short answer is “No” to both questions. No one can predict if the book will sell enough to supplement a side income. (Even if it is a great book).

To provide a decent income, a book must sell consistently. And this is very difficult. There are millions of books out there and ~ 3500 new books are published each day (in the English language alone). Your competition is fierce.

But what you can do is look at writing as a side-business. You should consider writing more books and the combined sales from all of your books can become your extra source of income if your books are really good and if you have a good fan base.

You may one day be able to earn your living from writing. But, in the beginning, keep the expectations low and work hard.

You’re running a business when you get published, your business is selling your own book to others. Depending on your book and the market, you can also create other merchandise.

Summary: As a whole, most serious writers don’t earn enough to make a living, but earn enough to add to their income. The mediocre writers won’t make much though.

 

10. In the Copyright pages, is it OK to put something like: “Published by XYZ Press?” and does the publishing company mentioned have to be incorporated?

Yes, it is okay to put that. You are the publisher of your book. You can put the name of your publishing company. It always looks more professional. However, you do not have to register a company.

As a single author, your income from your books is taxed. Also, if you do choose to register your publishing company then you can show your book production expenses and other expenses. If you are thinking long term, I would suggest, it is always a good idea to register your own publishing company and run your writing career as a business.

You do not have to establish and register the company (and the imprint name) before publishing the book. But in that case, anyone can claim that business name (by registering it) and can later legally ask you to not use their trade name or logo or whatsoever.

If you are not very serious about writing and may want to publish just one or two books, I guess, you can simply use the Free ISBN or $10 ISBN and mention, Printed by CreateSpace (KDP).

 

###

Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in touch!

Was this post helpful to you in deciding which route you may want to go? Do you have suggestions, tips or your story to share? Do you have questions on publishing or need more clarification on any specific aspect of publishing stage? If yes, please feel free to share your experience or question(s) with us? Please leave your thoughts and input in the comments below.

How I Am Growing My Author’s Platform? How To Find Your 1000 True Fans

How To Find Your 1000 True Fans

I believe in cultivating a tribe around my writing which resonates with my voice. I write both fiction and poetry.

At some point in time, I want to write a memoir too. I am not a single genre writer. I like to read all kind of things and likewise, I want to write on different subjects.

Growing one’s audience is like growing one’s tribe. My tribe is my “community”. These are my readers, fans, fellow writers, friends, and those who share my values.

Cultivating a tribe is more than creating a community. Cultivation requires constant refinement, intimate communication between me and my fans, encouraging reader engagement, and most of all audience-trimming. Before, we talk about “fan-trimming”, let’s find out what having a tribe does for us?

Your tribesmen are your brand ambassadors.
Your tribesmen are your cheerleaders.
Your tribesmen are your sales agent.
Your tribesmen are your trusted beta-readers, advisers and market feedback.
Your tribesmen are your allies and friends.
Your tribesmen are your supporters and they want to see you succeed.
 

As you can see from the above bullet points, trimming becomes essential to preserve the quality of your support network, your tribe. Your tribe members can be anywhere but they are not your fans or followers on Facebook and Twitter.

Most often they are your email list subscribers and the ones those who frequently comment on your blogs, Facebook and/or Instagram posts. They actively engage with you and your writing. You should cherish them as your real family.

In this blog post, I want to share my journey and the adventure I have had since I decided to publish my work.

I started Naked Soul blog back in October 2014. I published my debut poetry collection “Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems” on Jan 9, 2015, and the eBook came out on Jan 22, 2015.

I was already having some presence on various social media and promoted my book on Google, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest. But if you are new, you can start now. Social media is cool and it helps a little. Note the word “little“.

I sent out emails and contacted bloggers to review my book. I created an email list using MailChimp and started sending out helpful tips and interesting stories from which we all can learn. I started traveling and meeting new people. I found new characters for my second book (coming out soon) based on the people whom I have met on my adventurous journey.

So what is our focus in this blog post? And, why am I doing this all? A 12-14 hours of daily writing, reading tons of books, developing new connections with people – why all this hard work?

If you are a writer or blogger yourself, you may very well be asking these same questions. So what are we trying to achieve here?

My good guess would be — we are trying to grow our audience size. We are seeking outreach to people whom we can touch and impact positively through our stories.

We are trying to tell our stories to those who would benefit from our writing. But, how do we do that? How do we meet our true fans? How do we connect with our readers? How do we grow our network and meet new readers?

I think I have an answer (tried and tested by me previously). Continue reading to take a first-time look at my detailed plan outlined here. As I mentioned, I started this blog in October last year and joined various social media around the same time (+/- a few months). Following my plan outlined here, I grew my Facebook page to 15K, Instagram account to 20K followers, Pinterest account to 3.2K followers, Twitter account to 15K followers, YouTube account to 1000+ followers (with 1 million+ views) and my mailing list to over 300 subscribers.

During this time, I was also able to get on SlideShare with three slides, got over 38K views on my Google+ page, and created my presence on Tumblr, and on top three online poetry portals (Hello Peotry, PoemHunter, Deep Underground Poetry).

I am going to outline my plan to grow my author’s platform further to a target goal that I have set up for myself for this year.

How to Grow Your Author Platform

1. Write More Books

I have these upcoming books in the next three years. God’s Original Psalm is the project that I am currently working on.

  • Naked Soul: The Journey Of Love (Genre: Poetry/Romance)
  • Naked Soul: The Sacred Intimacy (Genre: Poetry/Erotic)
  • Naked Soul: God’s Original Psalm (Genre: Spirituality)
  • Letters By A Young Christian Mystic (Genre: Spirituality)
  • Friendship (Genre: Non-fiction, Self-help/Relationship)
  • How To Travel The World Under $30,000 USD (Genre: Travel)

The best thing a writer can do is to “write more books”. Pretty obvious, right? But isn’t. Majority of the people spend time figuring out one secret technique that will make them an overnight success. I wish magic was real.

The best way to grow your author’s platform is to simply write more books. The more good books you write the luckier you’ll become. Almost like magic.


2. Improving My Organic Search Rank on Google for Greater 
Discoverability
– More quality content and Frequent blogging
– Guest blogging with other bloggers and writers
– Make blog posts shareability easy for your readers.

More quality content and Frequent blogging

I am taking blogging more seriously. I have been blogging since 2005 and have had numerous blog. After years of soul searching and discovering my authentic voice, my genuine voice, I have started this blog and this blog is going to my open diary taking note of my various adventurous journeys.

My second goal is to build a passionate community around the Naked Soul Blog by engaging the blog readers through “Comments”. Often times, what is not answered or covered by a particular blog post is answered by a reader’s comment. Comments help all the readers.

 

3. Building a Huge Email List of Interested Readers
– From blog email sign-up form
– From Facebook page giveaways, quizzes, etc
– From Instagram giveaways, etc
– From new one-on-one connections made online

 

4. Outreach & Connection With My Readers on Social Media

  • Instagram: by words as pictures and good, heartfelt captions
  • Facebook: by poems, blog post links, and videos
  • Pinterest: by pictures
  • Twitter: by tweeting short poems and quotes
  • YouTube: by videos
  • Goodreads: by posting blogs, answering fan’s questions, giveaways

 

5. Growth on Social Media Using Specific Tools

You might not need these but in case if you want more tools to explore. I would recommend sticking to the basic four.

I have used them all and they all are good and the reason you do not want more tools is simple: you won’t have any time left.

 

6. Build a Team of Core People

Your job will be to assign tasks to your team member. If you are starting out, chances are you have a day job and are busy. You may want to hire one, two or more Virtual Assistants (VAs) depending on your needs and present situation.

If you have book launch coming up, I highly recommend getting a VA. For the launch of Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems, I hired a VA from Zirtual, a US based company.

In the coming months, I will be working with two VAs from India (at the same cost of one VA from Zirtual). I have not hired anyone yet but hope to do so within a month or so. Once my team is set up, I will:

  • Decide what will my team do vs what I do? (task delegation)
  • Help my VA in outreach to bloggers and other writers
  • Train my VA on using all of the above-mentioned tools (but I’ll be managing the tools, overall strategy, and the setup)

 

7. Be Active in Facebook group for writers and on Goodreads

– Help other writers as much as I can.

– When requested and provided an Advance Reader Copy (ARC), write a book review.

– If requested write a book blurb, book’s back cover material, book’s Introduction and/or a Foreward if our genre overlaps.

– Help and promote similar (overlapping)  writers on my blog and social media

– Share and exchange our experiences and stories from our writing journey (quite an adventure so far)

The more help you provide, the better and effective you will get at using your own advice. Moreover, there is no such thing as “giving too much”. The more you give away for free — the better it is for your long term career.

Make friends, early on. Trust me, this is going to be a long ride. You’ll need a group of friends to keep you motivated in tough times.

 

8. Get Reviews From Reputable Bloggers, Book Reviewers, and Magazines

This is important. After writing your best book, the next most important thing is to get some great reviews and some media coverage. The “media” that I am talking about is not the old school “Press Release” but the presence of your book everywhere on the World Wide Web.

In other words, your book should be present everywhere a book is allowed. Internet mainly.

Getting 2 or 5 good reviews will help you get more reviews. Your initial book reviews will shape your later reviews. Also, remember, once you have collected about 25 reviews, it will be relatively easier for you to pitch your book to mid-size bloggers.

If you manage to cross 100 reviews, you may very well get coverage on The Huffington Post (books) and Amazon’s editorial newsletter and blog, Omnivoracious.

 

9. Find and Connect With the Mavens in My Field

– Keep building quality relationships on Goodreads community with Goodreads mavens

– Keep posting new works and building relationships with fellow mavens on poetry portals such as Deep Underground Poetry, Poem Hunter, Hello Poetry, etc

– Keep discovering and connecting with the mavens everywhere: Social media, Blogosphere, etc.

 

Recap

The above 9 bullet points describes my 80%-90% of activities. Using these methods (and only these 9 methods, eighty-to-ninety percent of the time) I am going to find, meet and build a one-on-one relationship with my 1000 true fans. This will take time, true, but they are all tested strategies proven to work.

 

9 Things That I Will NOT Be Doing

Below is the list of 9 another things that I will *NOT* be doing because I will probably run out of time doing the things mentioned above. (Remember 80/20 rule?) 80% of your results are produced by the 20% of your core work. So, what happens if you use 80% of your time on that 20% of core work that produces 80% of your results? Magic. After all, magic is not completely dead.

But if you have time, energy or capacity to DO these tasks as well, good for you! These are the other things (ideas) that I have tried to some degrees and find them to be useful.

But remember, prioritize your time. As an author you can *also* benefit from doing these. Here you go:

1. Attend writing/books related meetups and build new connections with readers and writers. The goal here is to not overkill it. Attend a few meetups each month. Build quality connections.

2. Join book clubs; or start a new book club in your area (or try one online). This is a low-investment approach to book marketing. The goal here is not promote your book, but be seen as the expert in your domain and/or genre.

3. Try LinkedIn publishing. If you are a full time writer go for it. But, if you are like me doing a day job and writing part-time, then you are better off not mixing up your LinkedIn (professional network) with your writing life.

4. Try podcast (in addition to blogging) to reach whole new group of audience. If I have to start one thing from this list of 10, this will be my first pick.

5. Participate in local, state, regional and/or national poetry contests. Usually, it is a high investment, low return strategy. But like a lottery (with a shower of good-luck), if you WIN, you can use the award as a book blurb in your marketing. This kind of things don’t sell books directly but brings curious readers to you. And some of them will eventually get your books.

6. Plan a book tour and do book readings. (It does not have to be grand. Start local.) A national or even a multi-state book tour would fall under my next section. But, if you are doing it locally (using your car and no overnight hotel stay), you can give it a shot. It is fun too. And it feels good as well.

7. Participate and do open mike poetry and/or poetry slams. Depending upon your city or town, this can be a good place to find your next fan.

8. YouTube – Record your readings (poetry or fiction) and share it on your YouTube channel, Facebook Page, Google+ and on Goodreads.

9. Organize Google hangouts and do live poetry readings. Engage with your fans and interested readers.

 

9 Things That I Do NOT Recommend (Time Wasters)

Below is the list of 9 things that I firmly believe to fall under time wasters. It is not that these activities will not help you but chances are they will not be worth your time, money or brain-power.

1. Try to approach bookstores to keep your book (even with the book-returns clause). First of all, sadly your endeavor is not going to be successful and even if you manage to get one or two bookstores keep and display your books, they won’t be able to give your copy a prime spot when there is already hot books out there competing for that tiny space.

2. Try to join forces with local merchants to store your books on display on commission basis. Not worth the time and effort.

3. Try to sell your books to your family members, close friends and anyone who meets you. Not a good strategy from a long term perspective. You do not want to alienate people. By pressurizing people into hard-sales, you’ll most definitely make them avoid you in future.

4. Promote your ebook for free. Only offer free books if you have other books available in the series. If you only have one book (assuming you have honestly put in a lot of time into it and it is > 175 pages), price it $2.99 or may be even $0.99.

The reason you do not want a free book is because, free-book readers are also harsh and critical. And it is simply a high risk to get in a spiral of bad reviews. One good review gets you another good reviews. One bad review gets you another bad review. You do not want your writing career to start with 3.5 star rating. Do you?

5. Paying for reviews or Buying reviews on Fiverr or anywhere. Damn it. It is both sad and pitiful that so many amateur writers are into buying reviews. It hurts you more than anything else. Readers are smart and moreover, you want your reviewers to read your book and like your writing.

It is better to send ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) to interested readers and request them to review (good or bad).

6. Send Direct Messages to random people (read: strangers) on Facebook, Instagram, Goodreads or anywhere. Do not do this. This will not get you more than grand total of 0-5 sale and ton of hate and annoyance. Again, think long term. You do not want to piss of your readers even before they got a chance to become your reader.

7. This one does not require a bullet point in itself but it is important. Do not spend a lot of time marketing your book on social media. Again, read point #6. If you are just starting out, more often than not, your shouting about your own book would only come off as self-promotion and annoyance.

Social media’s primary purpose for most reader is entertainment and connection. Discovering a new book from a no-name author would be the last priority any Facebook user can think of.

8. Big budget advertisement. If you do not have atleast three or more books out, you are better of not having a big advertisement campaign. When you promote big, your message will be seen by many potential readers (and book buyers).

Some of them might not like your advertised title but may find your other book interesting. If you have only one book, the ROI is usually a big waste of money. Save this money for later. You’ll need it.

9. Use my personal Google+ and Facebook page to reach out to more like-minded people. There is nothing wrong in doing this. But from my personal experience (and of countless other writers and artists) — this eventually sums up to only one thing — A Waste Of Time.

 

Last But Not The Least

A quick note on social media. Social media is important. There is no denying that but focus on using a few rather than all.

I feel the most important ones for a writer are (in order of importance): 1. Facebook, 2. Instagram, 3. Pinterest, 4. YouTube, 5. Twitter, 6. Google+. And you can stop right here.

This is more than you can swallow.

 

###

Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in touch!

What are your thoughts about growing your tribe? Have you tried any of these methods or tools yet? If yes, please feel free to share your experience with us? Please leave your thoughts and input in the comments below.

Are All Poets Penniless: Do Poets Die Hungry?

This week I have been trying my best to stay level headed post Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems book launch.

Truthfully speaking, I have been as excitable as a chef just before the Thanksgiving! My debut collection of erotic love poems was published in eBook on January 23 and I have sold just over 100 eBooks in the first month alone.

The softcover was released on January 9th and is also doing excellent. So far it has sold over 150 copies. The big sales number came right before the Valentine’s Day. (No surprise there.)

Well, 100 or 150 might not seem a big number and certainly it is not but what I can tell you is at the time of drafting this blog, my book is at Top #7 in Love Poem and ranked Top #47222 out of 3,000,000+ eBooks on the Amazon Kindle store.

Labor of Love or Fate of Drudgery

The reason I am taking about the sales number and book ranking is because, well, I thought it is worth talking about this ancient curiosity shared by all: “Are all poets penniless?”

Is poetry a labor of love or an occupation of toil and drudgery? I am hoping to bring some perspective and calm to my current ‘pressure cooker†mind with this current blog. This post is not just a note to myself but a new balanced perspective, something to consider, specially by the writers, poets and all the artists out there.

To start with (and I am not trying to tempt fate here or anything!) I am focusing my attention on a handful of great poets who only achieved fame and wealth after death. Well, some great poets might have died poor but their legacy is certainly richer than many of the rich from the recent times.

Are All Poets Penniless

Years, decades, and even a century or two after their passing, several major literary geniuses (who may have been blessed with the odd peak of recognition while alive) have gone on to have an unimaginable impact on the literary world – dominating classrooms, bookshelves, literati events and book groups, not just Stateside but across the globe.

Let’s take a look at some of these writers and poets.

Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson was born in December 1830 in Massachusetts. A sociable youngster who maintained good relationships and friendships throughout her childhood and youth; she began writing poetry in her teens. Itâ€s clearly obvious from her writing that the death of close friends and family members during adolescence strongly influenced her.

Her Poem Because I Could not Stop for Death is the first that springs to mind.

 

Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labour, and my leisure too,
For his civility.

We passed the school where children played,
Their lessons scarcely done;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.

We paused before a house that seemed
A swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible,
The cornice but a mound.

Since then ’tis centuries; but each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses’ heads
Were toward eternity.

 

Her most intense writing period began in her late twenties and lasted several years, she is said to have written a staggering 1100 poems during this time; some of which she did share with close friends and family, but the majority of which, she kept to herself. Pretty much a recluse by the time she died aged fifty-five in 1886, Dickson had written around 1800 poems.  It was following her death (and against her dying wishes) that family members decided to publish and share her magnificent work some years on.

 

John Keats

John Keats was born in London, England in 1795. The poor guyâ€s short life was plagued by death from an early age – with both parents dying by the time heâ€d reached fourteen. Leaving school aged sixteen, Keats maintained a healthy interest in literature even while working in the medical profession alongside his guardian (a man so deceitful he kept Keats†large inheritance which heâ€d been entrusted to look after).

Keats penned his first poem during 1816, aged eighteen; his first book called Poems followed during 1817.

A year after abandoning the medical establishment to pursue poetry as a profession, Keats†life was once again haunted by death when his brother, Tom, contracted and died from Tuberculosis, the same illness which killed his mother.

In 1819, despite mounting financial problems and ill health, Keats was somehow able to write a significant amount of poetry; he also met and fell in love with a young girl called Fanny Brawne. Sadly his wish to marry the eighteen–year-old was never realised due to his lack of finances.  As if life hadnâ€t been tragic enough for John Keats, in 1820 he too become desperately ill with Tuberculosis. Despite his illness, he managed to publish a second volume of poems. During the same year Keats travelled to Italy hoping the warmer surroundings would help with his illness. Sadly it was not to be, one of the greatest poets to have ever lived, died in February 1821, lowly regarded and poor..

 

The Eve of St Agnes by John Keats is (in my opinion) one of his best works.

All Poets Die Hungry

Edgar Allan Poe

For someone born so long ago (1809) it blows my mind to think that Edgar Allan Poe still courts such influence, interest and popularity over literary and cultural circles today.

And if you thought Keats†life was tragic, I think Poeâ€s was equally tumultuous – as a baby he was abandoned by his father and when his mother died of tuberculosis during 1811, he was forced to live with foster parents.

Poe, a military man for a brief time before turning his hand to writing full time, is attributed to having invented the detective fiction genre. His name is also synonymous with chilling and macabre poetry and stories.

Like Emily Dickinson, death featured heavily in Poeâ€s work, including in his most famous poem, The Raven.

This poem, by all accounts, turned him into a literary sensation for some time. Unfortunately, maybe because he was a heavy drinker who could no longer hold down a job, he never equalled its success with any of his following work.

Itâ€s been documented that the death of his wife Virginia Clemm (who also just happened to be his cousin, aged thirteen when he married her) exacerbated Poeâ€s drinking. Many conspiracy theories about his death have been circulated, but Poe is reported to have died penniless, dishevelled and unconscious in a Baltimore gutter, aged just forty.

 

Phillis Wheatly

Phillis Wheatlyâ€s life story is equally interesting and heart breaking. Kidnapped from West Africa when she was around seven years old in 1753, she arrived in Boston, Massachusetts, on a slave ship where she was purchased by John Wheatley as a servant for his wife, Susanna, who quickly came to recognize and nurture Phillis†writing talent. The Wheatleys decided not to train Phillis as a slave.

By publishing Poems on various subjects, religion and moral Wheatley made history by becoming the first female African American to publish a book of poems. She even travelled to London, promoting her poetry. I can imagine that for a while her life mustâ€ve felt pretty amazing, especially when compared to the lives of other African Americans at that time. I canâ€t help thinking that things wouldâ€ve had a happier ending for Philllis Wheatley, had Susanna and John Wheatley still been alive after she married.

Wheatly married John Peters in 1778. They lived in poor conditions, but worse, had to endure the death of two infant children. After her husband was imprisoned during 1784, impoverished, Wheatley was left looking after her third child. Sadly, she died young at age thirty-one. Her sick infant son is said to have died a few hours later.

Read her famous poem On Being Brought from Africa to America here.

 

Poets persecuted for their writing and beliefs

I was thinking of moving on to something a bit more light-hearted, but if you donâ€t mind Iâ€ll get one more ‘sad†topic out of the way first.

Weâ€re moving on to poets who are persecuted for their writing, as in poets who express opinions in their work, which goes against the establishment of their countries.

 

Ovid

The first that I can think of is, Roman poet Ovid, back in 8AD he was banished to Tomis, a remote province on the Black Sea, by the Emperor Augustus, itâ€s difficult to pinpoint the motivation which led to his exile but speculation points to the simple reason that the emperor was unhappy with something the poet had written!

 

Enoh Meyomesse

Sadly a similar type of punishment remains commonplace in some societies even in this day and age. Cameroonian poet, political activist and blogger Enoh Meyomesse is currently serving a prison sentence which he maintains is due to personal views expressed in his writing and for his political activism.

Read more on Meyomesse and some of his poetry here.

 

Mahvash Sabet

Iranian teacher, turned poet, Sabetâ€s translated book Prison Poems was published on April 1, 2013. She wrote this collection while serving (along with other leaders of Iranâ€s *Bahaâ€i community) a twenty year prison sentence in Tehranâ€s Evin prison because of her religious beliefs.

*The Baha’i religion was founded in Iran in 1863, making it one of the world’s youngest religions. This religion accepts all other faiths as true and valid. It also teaches that there should be no inequality when it comes to gender or race.

I am left wondering, what’s not to like? Read her Lights Out poem on this blog.

 

Successful Poets: What’s their Secret?

I have covered a lot of the tragedies and hardships experienced by poets in this blog, so I want to finish by letting you know:

It’s not all Bad News!

 

Yes, we can breathe a sigh of relief now as I am happy say that there are many poets and writers do seem to live comfortable and successful lives, many are actually poets who never gave up their day jobs.

 

Lewis Carroll

It was a huge surprise for me to find out that the author of Alice in Wonderland was actually a Mathematician (who wrote several books on Mathematics under his real name (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson).

Incredibly, he was also a teacher for twenty-six years!  But he also found time to work on a few inventions too, creating (amongst other things) a device called the nyctograph which allowed for night time writing (presumably with himself in mind because he was so busy during the day doing his other jobs!)

Read My Fairy, a poem written by Lewis Carroll when he was only 13 years old.

 

William Carlos Williams

This savvy writer, trained as a doctor and went on to publish his first book Poems in 1909, but continued practicing as a doctor in the New Jersey town of Rutherford for the next 40 years.

Read his A Sort of Song here.

 

T. S. ELIOT

The magnificent Missouri born writer and Harvard graduate settled in England after a spell reading philosophy at a renowned college in Oxford. He wrote his famous poem Prufrock while holding down a job as a bank clerk. After several years in banking he went on to become an editor at publishing house Faber and Faber, where he worked full time for forty years.

Hear Eliot reading The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrok in a Youtube video.

 

Wallace Stevens

Acclaimed poet and also Harvard graduate, Wallace Stevens, published his first book Harmonium in 1923 while working in insurance; an area he would continue in for nearly forty years eventually working his way up to Vice-President of his company by 1934, carrying on in this role even after receiving the prestigious Pulitzer Prize.

Read his wordsOf Modern Poetry” here.

 

Philip Larkin

The British born poet and novelist Philip Larkin actually managed to sneak in quite a lot of writing while working as a librarian. He graduated from Oxford University with first class honors in English during 1943, then worked for thirty years as a librarian at Hull University, where he is said to have produced a vast quantity of his published work.

Read his poem Faith Healing” here.

 

So perhaps we are onto something here. Could the secret to keeping yourself from the clutches of poverty lie in having another vocation in life? Should we all, if we haven’t already, add a few more strings to our bows?

Just in case tragedy decides to grab and drop some of us into its murky pool of torture without a second thought, leaving us destitute, penniless and forgotten until the pool is dredged some decades later. (OK, maybe I need to put the Poe books down for now!)

 

The truth is, there a plenty of writers out there that have second jobs, some connected to writing such as tutoring, lecturing and performance poetry; and as some of the last section shows, others have no connection at all. But I donâ€t think it hurts to have a plan B. Somehow, I can’t imagine Edgar Allan Poe as a doctor or librarian though.

###

Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in the touch!

What do you think about writing as a career? If you have a family to support will you take the risk? Or will you fulfill your calling as a writer or poet? Please leave your thoughts and input in the Comments below.

How I Am Marketing My Self Published Poetry Book

Naked Soul is now available worldwide

This is a blog post I originally wanted to write as “How am I going to promote my upcoming book “Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems. But I believe it is better to write this post now since the book is already out.

The Paperback was released on Jan 9, 2015. And the eBook was released on Jan 22, 2015. I am also in the process of creating an Audio Book for Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems.

How to Self-Promote Your Poetry Book

In this blog, I am not only documenting the steps that you can take as a writer but also listing the things that worked for me and the efforts that did not pay during my own book promotion.

I had a decent budget to test out my plan and here I am going to tell you exactly what I did and what I am currently doing to promote Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems.”

I am going to outline my entire plan from pre-launch to post-launch of my book. This post describes what happened to my plan of action when put into the real test. But, first let me tell you: why am I doing this?

There are two major reasons:

a.) I like being transparent and helping people. I am doing this to help fellow writers and poets who often work hard on a very tight financial budget and

b.) To outline everything that I did for Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems” which I can later use for my next book’s marketing and promotion.

Moreover, this blog post also holds me accountable to my own plan-of-action. It’s a nice way to organize a detailed plan into a checklist for anyone’s use. If you find this post helpful and informative, please link directly to my blog (this post) if you would want to share tips from my experience.

I definitely could use your little help to gain some extra momentum to bring the word out about “Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems”. I thank you in advance for helping me out.

How to Market Your Self Published Book

Alright, without further adieu, let’s begin:

1. Take advantage of your author platform

I started early but wish I could have started even earlier working on building my author’s platform. In case, if you are wondering, an author’s platform is where you connect and engage with your readers online. This is great for collecting feedback and to sense the real market demand.

The book got to #1 Bestseller on Amazon for January month in New Release in ‘Love poetry’ and ‘Themes and Styles’ category. Here, check this out:
 
#1 Bestseller on Amazon in New Release in ‘Love Poetry’ category
 
#1 Bestseller on Amazon in New Release in ‘Themes and Styles’ category
 
 
– The book has got 21 reviews on Amazon.com and 1 review on Amazon.uk.
 
– The Naked Soul platform has grown to over 14K on Twitter, almost 20K on Instagram, 3000 on Pinterest, 15K on Facebook, 1000 on Youtube (with close to 1 million total views) and with 38K view on Google+.
 
– The Naked Soul blog achieved great traction from our Google ad campaign and we gained over 250+ email subscribers. Overall, this is no minor success and we have come a long way from almost close to nothing on sites such as Pinterest, Google+ and Twitter.
 
– I have an active presence on Goodreads now with people adding Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems in their “to-read” list. We have 9 ratings and 5 reviews. (not bad)
 
– We have created some presence on other poetry portals such as HP (Hello Poetry), PH (PoemHunter), and DUP (Deep Underground Poetry).
 
– We have sold (in first 30 days) close to 250 copies in Print and eBook combined. We have stayed in the Top 100 ranking since the book launch.

Overall, I am new and my author platform (although not tiny) is not large enough to create a word-of-mouth viral outreach. I need momentum for my book to make a #1 Bestseller.

To achieve that, I need “daily” sales and more than that I need global exposure, online presence, and media coverage. So how do I do that? Well, this is what this post is all about. Keep reading.

Bonus Tips

I used Instagram and Facebook to do A/B testing for my book’s cover. I took my reader’s feedback in designing and approving the final cover of the book. See the results here.

Cover Concept Test on Facebook (I also ran a test on my own, personal Facebook page).

Everywhere the results were the same. Also, a lot of people gave input for my book also later agreed to review the book.)

Cover Concept Test on Instagram: One, Two, Final

2. Google Adwords

I used google adwords to send traffic to my website and once my book was out I used adwords to sell my books. In terms of sending traffic, google is awesome but to sell your book, it hardly produces any results.

For a person to make a buying decision where someone would need to take their credit card and mane an online transaction for a book from an unknown author… you get a sense, this is highly unlikely.

Google AdWord Spend: $535 (151,348 ad impressions; 3830 clicks to Naked Soul website)

Purpose: My plan was that let the people know that a new erotic poetry collection is out. The book is unique in a sense that it was written by a male and it is a single-author collection of erotic poetry. This genre is still new and unique.

3. Make Video Trailers

I created 2 paid book trailers (each $200 for production, casting, voice-over), 3 self-made book trailers (using my Mac and iMovie) and 3 book promotional trailers (using my phone camera) where I shared updates on how the book is progressing.

Later, I advertised the two paid trailers on YouTube and gained a lot of views but could not translate it into sales. The book trailer is necessary to create excitement and entertainment but it hardly leads to any direct sales.

Even if a sale happens, it is hard to tell if that sale came through Facebook referral or Google ad referral or from any other sources mentioned in this post.

Youtube Ad Spend: $455 (28,210 video views)

Purpose: To plant the video seeds of my books anywhere and everywhere possible. It will not give you book sales but may spread the news about your book far and away.

Link to my Youtube channel/sample book trailer:

 

Link to my second book trailer:

   

4. Use Online Communities

I started to connect with people online whether it was niche networks such as Ello, Google+, Reddit, poetry forums, etc. Unlike Facebook, you can not advertise on many of these platforms and therefore your growth will be very slow.

I got a lot of page views but people won’t connect and follow. To have people follow you, you have to follow a bunch of them at first. I also joined a lot of online forums and communities in hope of marketing my books through them.

But most often, these communities will not appreciate you posting your book on their page and will delete your posts as spam (even when your intentions are not spamming). Those who did not delete my posts did not really produce any noise.

Lesson: Google Page and Communities are “nay” for book promotion. Don’t spend too much time on it.

5. Facebook Fan Page

I started a Facebook page (Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems) for the book and initially advertised to gain targeted fans in poetry, reading, books, etc. My initial posts were just the poems that I was publishing on Instagram.

Facebook helped me initially to reach out to more people and I would get a lot of shares. That dropped after a while and I was not advertising either.

Once the book came out, I ran $30 promotion (3x i.e. three times) for book launch announcement and it did well in getting a lot of “Likes and few shares” but resulted in few direct sales, if any. Similar to Google AdWords, people won’t buy your book if you are relatively new or a no-name author.

For Facebook marketing to work, you have to develop a rapport with your existing fans first. Facebook page works very similar to how Instagram works.

Your core group of fans will support you and buy your book, but for that to happen you need to be posting and maintaining a charming presence on Facebook for a while.

In my case, I have spent too little time on Facebook and my Facebook efforts were okay. But, I hope the effort put into Facebook will pay off in time towards my second book.

My most recent next step idea is to create a Facebook group for “Writers of Instagram” and join and participate in other Book Review Groups on Facebook.

6. Instagram

As I mentioned above, Instagram (like Facebook) is a large social network (popular with a younger crowd). Instagram users are also very active. Every post that you make on Instagram goes to everyone’s home feed without any filters (unlike Facebook).

For me, Instagram was the number one driver for sales. The reason does not lie in the fact that Instagram is better than other social media platforms for writers but that Instagram allows you more expose than Facebook and that too for free.

There is no paid advertising on Instagram (as of this writing). The only way to succeed here is to showcase your work and build a loyal following. I believe, I have had half of my sales come from Instagram. My current focus is to grow my followers base on Instagram.

You can connect with me on Instagram at @The.Naked.Soul

7. Twitter

Since a lot of writers use Twitter, I could not ignore it. I started my own Twitter account and spent $10 before realizing that spending any money on Twitter is a total waste. Twitter works very differently from Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, et al.

Even if you are a big name author or Mr. Somebody, people won’t follow you as they do on Facebook.

Twitter’s number 1 rule of the game is follow-for-follow. It took me a few months to figure this out before I started to connect with more people on Twitters.

Currently, I try to spend 15 min each day on Twitter. Mostly, I acknowledge any mentions made to @NakedSoulPoems and direct replies or comments on my tweets.

8. Pinterest

It is interesting to actually remember that my first encounter with poetry as pictures was not at Instagram but on Pinterest. Positive quotations, words, poetry and everything that you can imagine within the literary domain is on Pinterest.

Moreover, Pinterest platform is still young, growing and active. It is no wonder that if you want your book to be discovered by others, you have to be on Pinterest. Pinterest is so powerful that you cannot ignore that. I started out on Pinterest with my first board “Naked Soul” and started to pin poetry and images that reflected the spirit of my book project.

Over the time, I have created over 60 boards on various themes and actively pin. Initially, I was waiting for people to follow me but within 6 months I figured it out that Pinterest is like Twitter (atleast initially).

You have to follow a bunch of people before anyone will follow you back. Once you have established yourself on Pinterest, your audience size will grow on its own.

Remember, it is not a bad thing to have a lot of “followings”. In fact a good balance in following/followers ratio gives you a more human outlook and makes you accessible to your fans.

Pinterest Ads: $120 (570K impressions, 105 repins, 400 clicks)

Purpose: To spread the seeds of Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems. Once people start re-pinning your pin (in this case, a book), more and more people will follow that lead and soon enough you will have your book jump up in search results and/or sales ranking.

9. Slideshare

I created 3 slideshares (pre-launch). None of them performed the way I have planned. The total views form all of them combined is just 800. It is as good as not having created the sildeshares at all.

This is so small a noise (like a coin dropping in a busy market place) that you can’t expect SlideShare to sell any copies.

But SlideShare is a good long term strategy and helps in getting a few backlinks to your site which in turn helps your web rank which in turn helps new people discover your blog and books and which in turn might sell you a few copies in the future.

Here are they, take a look:

10. Email Lists

Every social media is different and once you join one, you have to play according to their rules. Being on Facebook or Twitter is like renting a lot from Facebook or Twitter and then showcasing your products. This is not bad to gain visibility (especially since all major social media platforms are free to users).

But, if you want to stay in touch with your customers, fans and followers, your landlord will make it very hard for you to get any information where you can directly communicate with your fans.

Social media is great for brand development but to communicate and directly influence your fans, an email list is the best solution. When you email someone, it gets delivered in their inbox. You have a direct one-to-one relationship through email.

Also, you do not have to pay any of your landlords to promote your shop or product. Creating an email list is your own property. You are the landlord here. I have about 250+ sign ups to my blog as of today.

I am sure, a lot of these signups came from my Google AdWord campaign. Having a large email list is the best way to market your books.

My point: I am going to put more focus here in the coming months.

11. Book Reviews (Mail Review Copies)

You need a lot of book reviews (praising or critical) to make your book stand out from the noise. And you need reviews everywhere: on Amazon, on Goodreads, on Barnes & Noble, on every possible medium where you are selling your books.

The most important places to get a lot of good reviews are:

1) Amazon

2) Goodreads

A lot of people will discover your book on Goodreads (and therefore Goodreads reviews matters) but they will end up buying on Amazon or B&N. Most people will shop on Amazon Kindle or Amazon.com.

Before a person can make a wise buying decision, s/he is going to check (and read) some of the reviews. My initial goal was to get at least 50 reviews on Amazon by Feb 9, 2015 (in first 30 days).

As the time of writing this blog, I have got 21 reviews on Amazon.com and 1 review on Amazon.uk. But as you can see I am not even half way closer to my target goal. Well, getting a lot of reviews is not an easy task.

I will have a separate blog post just to discuss the book reviews. I’m writing a separate blog posts just on book reviews. Stay tuned.

I have submitted the book to Kirkus indie review and the book is going to run through the Book Review Direct in their February-May issue.
 
I have personally contacted bloggers all over and have sent a free copy of my book in exchange for their reviews. My focus for first two months are only US bloggers. But, I am planning to do more giveaways to bloggers all across the world.
 
Again, if you really want your book to stand out from the crowd, you have to generate a buzz around your book. And without having a big marketing budget, the only way you can do it is by having your book covered by as many blogs (on internet) as possible.

12. Press Release through PRWeb

I have done one PR through PRWeb so far. The results were not impressive for the $99 that I spent on it.

My Press Release total headline impressions was 29,914. About 10% of these impressions were also read (up to 100%). If you google search in quotes “Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems by Naked Soul Press”, you will see 60+ online news pickups.

Again, it is not a measurable payback but perhaps from a long term strategy perspective, this is the best you can do. Some say PR is dead but I disagree.

The objective of Press Release is to send out news about your new book. Even if your PR is not picked up by a lot of reporters, you still make a presence on the Internet since most PRs are optimized for SEO.

However, I would not recommend spending a lot of money here. Give it a shot or two. This is also a luck thing besides what else is going on in media during your book launch.  

 

13. Create Cool Merchandise

I am currently brainstorming what cool things can be made using my poetry or quotes and then use them as free giveaways to drive sales or bring awareness towards the book. Some of the things I have thought so far are: t-shirts, cups/mugs, calenders, etc. This is a work in progress. I will first test them on Instagram and Facebook. If successful, I will write a separate blog post covering this step in detail. Stay tuned.    

 

14. Crowdfunding Campaigns

I created an Indiegogo and Pubslush campaign to raise both money and awareness for the book. The book campaigns were not successful in themselves but they helped me show up in the first page of Google search. No money spent here plus it is a good way to test the market demand for your work.

If I have do it again, I’ll create a campaign for a small funding target and will spend some time promoting it. Also, this can be done way ahead of your book launch.

My Point: When you search for a vague term such as “Naked Soul”, the search engine will give you hundreds of thousands of results. For me, creating Indiegogo and Pubslush was lucky.

They helped to show my Facebook page and campaign every time I searched for ‘Naked Soul’ Or ‘Naked Soul Poem’ or ‘Erotic Poetry Book’, etc.  

 

15. Hire VAs to Help You Out

Writing is a book is hard. We all know that. But marketing a book by yourself is even harder. After you have spent a lot of time writing your book, what good it is if you can not showcase your work.

The goal is not to market your book to everybody but to those who already is a fan of your genre. But, here is the problem. How do you reach out to those readers? All the points that I have mentioned in this blog post cannot be done by one single person. You have editing and cover design going on.

You have to respond to people. You are trying to get reviews. You are busy shipping copies. You have a family and a life (hopefully) that you do not want to sacrifice. You might even feel giving up at times. Trust me, we all have been there. So what is the solution? The only solution is to build a team.

You need atleast one another person and if you can afford some extra cash, may be a team of 3 or more people. Let’s call one your team member your virtual Assistant (VA). I took advantage of Zirtual and hired a VA.

My main objective was for my VA to do research on Facebook, Youtube, Google, Amazon, everywhere to find bloggers, youtubers, et al to whom we can pitch “Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems” for an online coverage.

I also had my VA email the the book reviewers and send them a review copy. Your larger team on the other hand can do simple things such as manage your Twitter or Facebook or Instagram.

In my case, I was spending my energy in building this blog whereas my team was making sure we are growing on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. As a team, we all learned a lot which I could have easily missed if I were to do everything alone.

Lesson: There is no book launch without a team. You need more than “you” or your launch will be a disaster (unless you are already an established author).  

 

16. Goodreads Giveaways and Goodreads Advertisements

I have tried Google and Facebbok PPC (pay per click) ads and got a lot of “Likes” on FB and visits to my website (from Google Search) but hardly any direct sales. Even though, let’s say some of these visits resulted in a direct sale, it is hard for me to track. Whatever is not tracked, you can’t improve.

And if you can’t improve an ad, you are losing money, time, and opportunities. Another thing I learned was whether a visit leads to sales or not is not the right question to ask. The correct approach is to measure your cost of advertisement to your book sales royalty.

For example, if I advertise my book for $100 on Facebook and in return got sales of 10 units with $4 author royalty, then in this case I am $60 in net loss.

Same formula can be applied to any PPC ads. I wanted to try Goodreads advertisement. I have created a giveaway that is currently running (so far 65 people wants to win my book). My giveaway is going to gain atleast 200 entries if not high of 500. I also created two ads on Goodreads which is also active as of right now. No clicks and about 700 impressions so far.

I have spent $0 on Goodreads so far and my book has been added by over 50 people at the time of this writing. So far the best return on investment.  

To do: Create author profiles on Goodreads and Amazon Author Central. Add your picture, bio, link to your twitter and your blog/website, and if you have book trailer videos – upload them. People love videos.    

 

17. Active Blogging/Set up a Website

I am a first time author (although not new to writing). I have been writing for long and now hope to publish one book a year. Moreover, my first book “Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems” is a poetry book. I personally feel (certainly biased here) that the book is produced in a superior way than many others (if not most) books in the market in erotic poetry (within romance, not erotica) genre.

My book and writing is different and is popular with variety of social audiences and groups as I have noticed so far. I am a firm believer in getting community’s/reader’s feedback. I do absolutely believe in product/market fit theory. Having said and understood it, my challenge is on how to get my book more exposure. The answer is “long-term vision” and a growing web presence. Setting up a blog is a must-to-do for every writer in this era of self-publication.

There is no excuse to this rule now. Since there is so much noise out there on social media, it is easy to get lost in the ocean of posts, profiles, games and what not. I believe the solution to this growing problem is to create an authority in your domain and then dominating it with your thought-leadership.

This has been my current focus. Also, by actively blogging you first give away useful, helpful information to your readers before asking them for their money in return. People will buy your book if they feel connected to your writing. This is the new age of “free-samples” and “too-many-choices”. Also, if people like you, they will willingly support you and buy your book(s).

 
Conclusion
I guess, what I am trying to convey here from my story is the overall result from my book marketing effort is negative (in loss) in my first 30 days. But, I am hoping to reap some rewards in coming months as my book gains more visibility. If I would have not advertised, I would have made a net-profit from my book sales. But then the question is about having a long term vision. From the long-term perspective, did I do the right things or made mistakes? Well, time will tell. (I am keeping positive, fingers crossed.)
 
Ideally, any author would love to break-even or make profit but I recommend to you all to be willing to take an initial loss if in return you earn plenty of exposure as a new writer/author. As a writer you always have a second or third book in you and all the effort that you put in your first book also trickles down to your future work.
 
On the other hand, personally speaking, I would gladly spend more in promotional and marketing of the “Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems” if it helps to generate word-of-mouth viral outreach. A much needed large scale outreach indeed. But, first I have to find out if my marketing budget is large enough to realize this goals. If not, then how big and how long should my ideal campaign be? These are my current questions and would be a separate topic for another blog post. Stay tuned.
 
I am currently waiting for the Kirkus and other indie book reviews to come out so that I can use them in my future marketing campaign. I did hit #1 on Amazon in New Release in Poetry for January but that’s not enough. I have hardly sold 250 copies (print + eBook all combined) in my first 30 days. I wish I sold 5000 or 10,000 copies in my first week but alas (sigh)…I am a poet!
 
No poet makes money when they are alive. But, can this be a proven wrong? With proper planning, strategic marketing and by your reader’s help, may be yes. Why not? Can I prove that a Poet can make a living through his writing. I will absolutely try my best! I know, I wish to hear the good news as much as you do!
 
Will you help me here!? Please share this blog with as many people (writers, readers, anyone into books) as many you know. I am sure, this has ton of helpful information and insights that anyone can use. Thank you for your time.
 
 
###

Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Sign up now and stay in touch!

What do you think about my marketing approach? Please leave your thoughts and input in the Comments below.

Understanding A Book’s Copyright Page: What Does It Tell Specifically

Cast your mind back, way back to those archaic pre-internet times — long before sharing and liking were everyday actions synonymous with the online world; when tweeting was just something birds did and when copyright protection, although still a tricky business, was far less open to abuse than it is these days.

Copyright Page Demystified

History dictates that the enforcement of copyright protection has never been straightforward, but the very existence of the World Wide Web and the phenomenal explosion of the many social media networks attached to it, has altered the way we live both creating then fuelling our compulsions to instantaneously download, distribute, or copy and share all manner of things online; often with blurred vision when it comes to any legalities.

Don’t get me wrong in some ways it can be a great complement for artists if audiences like their work enough to want to copy and share (with their friends and followers) material such as poetry, song lyrics or even lustful lines from the latest raunchy novels hitting the bookshelves; but the bottom line is, that nowadays from the moment an author has created a piece of written work, copyright protection is in existence from then on.

And unless the work’s creator has given permission for others to copy and share it, scan it, add to it etc. the only thing that others should be doing with it (if it’s a book or article, for example) is reading it.

So, with copyright in mind, I’ve decided to devote this blog, to showing (probably the least looked at the page in a book) some much-needed love. I’m talking about the Copyright Page.

We’re going to take a detailed journey through each section of a book’s copyright page, looking thoroughly at what each part means.

Essentially we’re going to learn: how to decode a book’s copyright page. But right now, I think it’s probably useful to start with a reminder for anyone who’s forgotten, what copyright protection actually is.

What is Copyright Protection?

Copyright protection exists by law to protect the rights of authors of original work. The protection commences from the moment the work is created and fixed in a tangible form.

What is a Copyright Page?

So what is a Copyright page and what does it really contain? The copyright page commonly appears at the start of the book after the title page.

The information one copyright page carries can differ greatly to another depending on the subject matter and the type of book, but the copyright page usually contains the following things:

1) Information about the copyright owner

Information about the copyright owner could look like this:

Copyright © 2014 by Salil Jha
All rights reserved.

This means that the Copyright Owner (me, in this example) has sole ownership of the rights in terms of altering it, displaying it, and reproducing it.

It’s worth noting that nowadays there is no formal requirement to mark your copyrighted work with a © or with the word copyright the copyright protection still exists without it.

Some copyright notices include a lot more detail than the phrase All rights reserved. Just so readers are really clear on what they can and can’t do with a publication, it’s common for books to state things like:

This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published, etc. etc.

2) A Thank You notice

A thank you note could look like this:

Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission.


A thank you notice is frequently displayed on a copyright page, itâ€s a polite way of reminding users that they should comply with copyright laws when using the product.

3) ISBN Numbers

ISBN 13: 9780692265291

ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. Each 13 digit ISBN number uniquely identifies the book edition and therefore holds great importance to libraries, booksellers, marketing companies, distributors and anyone wanting a book to become commercially available.

Prior to January 2007, ISBN numbers were 10 digits long, but around that time the ISBN system was reviewed and they are now 13 digits long.

Worldwide, there are actually over 150 agencies which allocate ISBN numbers, but it really doesn’t matter where on the planet the ISBN number has been assigned, the beauty is, they’re an internationally recognizable way of identifying books and book-related products.

Some books contain more than one ISBN number as in the case of the above example from Naked Soul: Erotic Love Poems.

Export editions require a separate ISBN number, as do different formats such as hardback, Kindle and paperback. Several ISBN’s can be purchased in one block from www.bowker.com

4)  Library of Congress Control Number

Library of Congress Control Number: 201491378

Although the name makes it sound pretty official, the Library of Congress Control Number is just a unique bibliographic record of a forthcoming publication.

These assigned records help inform the library community of new publications through weekly distribution lists. Library of Congress Control numbers are free and can be obtained by sending a copy of the book to the relevant cataloging department of the Library of Congress in advance of a book’s publication dates, thus facilitating acquisitions and gaining entry to one of the biggest book collections in the USA.

5) Edition Information

First Edition: December 2014

Wording like this is pretty standard on a book’s copyright page and it’s self-explanatory, informing us what edition it is and when it was first published.

6) Name and location of the publisher

Large publishing houses often have a lot of info in this section. This could include several different global addresses of the publishing company, the companyâ€s website address and its registration number, but in the case of my self-published collection, these are the pretty succinct details:

Naked Soul Press
Quincy, MA 

Other things which a title page may include:

7) Disclaimers

Disclaimers vary from book to book depending on the book type. A fiction novel’s disclaimer may read:

“This is a work of fiction, names and characters are the product of the author’s imagination and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, is purely coincidental.”

Whereas a health or complementary therapy type book may state: This book is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Readers should seek medical advice in matters relating to his / her health.

8) Credits for contributors

Individuals or companies who’ve contributed to the book’s content may be listed. Such as photographers, editors or designers.

e.g. Cover illustration copyright © 2014 by Salil S. Jha.

 

Or, 

Poetry of Salil S. Jha, used by kind permission of Naked Soul Press.

9) Environmental information about products used in the book’s making

More and more over the years, I’ve seen environmental statements on the title page of books made by publishers who support organizations such as the Forest Stewardship Council ®, they often carry the organization’s trademark and have their books printed on the eco-friendly paper of that particular organization.

10) Typesetter details and printing company information

Details of the typesetting company as well as the font types and size used in the book are pretty common, as is providing details of the printing company used by the publisher.

e.g Typset by S Jha Graphics, Boston MA and

 

Printed and bound by S Jha Compositions, Boston MA

11) Translation information

e.g. This translation first published in 2013.

 

Translation Copyright © Salil Jha

I’m hoping that I’ve provided some interesting and useful information on this subject for you guys. If you’ve found at least some of my copyright page decoding useful, feel free to drop me a line and let me know.

I’m going to finish up by mentioning that copyright (although it lasts a long time) does not last forever. It eventually expires, and when this happens, the once protected work ends up in the public domain.

Public Domain Explained

If a work is referred to as being in the public domain, it means it’s now available for use without asking the copyright owners permission. William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens are just two of the many authors whose works are now in the public domain due to copyright expiration.

Any works published prior to 1923 will now be in the public domain. Works published after 1923 but before 1978 are protected 95 years from the date of publication.

For me, this is where things start to get pretty confusing because if the work was created without a copyright notice between 1923 and 1977, it has no copyright protection and has ended up in the public domain as the creator failed to comply with the required formalities at that time.

(Copyright notices are no longer a requirement for authors to be protected but it’s still useful to use them).

If work was created but not published before 1978, the copyright lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years.

And as I understand it, works published after 1977, the copyright also lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years.

Are you with me so far? Congratulations if you are because even Iâ€m finding this difficult to get my head around!

Finally, if a work’s creator didn’t properly renew the copyright on work published between 1923 – 1963, then the work will be in the public domain.

You might want to search the records of the US Copyright Office’s website for more info.

Try out the Copy Right or Copy Wrong quick quiz

We’re going to round things up with a quick quiz, just to see if you’ve been paying attention. There are a few statements listed below, read through them and decide whether the statement is right or wrong, it’s that simple:

  • If a publisher decides to sell books without placing them in bookshops or libraries, an ISBN is required. Is this right or wrong?
  • For your work to be copyright protected, a copyright notice should be included on your copyright page. Is this right or wrong?
  • Work published before 1923 remains copyrighted if author renewed the copyright properly. Is this right or wrong?
  • A new ISBN number must be allocated for different formats of the book e.g Hardback, paperback and Kindle. Is this right or wrong?

Answers

  • Wrong – No ISBN number is required in this case
  • Wrong – This was true once upon a time but itâ€s not a requirement these days
  • Wrong – The work is now in the public domain as copyright has expired
  • Right – This is correct, new ISBNâ€s are required for the different formats

 

###

Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email now and join and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Sign up now and stay in touch!

What do you think about the Copyright page article? I am sure there are things that I have missed. Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

How to Write a Sonnet, Haiku, Riddle, Poems and Rhyme

The Naked Soul Learning Zone
How to Write a Sonnet, Haiku, Riddle, Rhyme, etc.

Learn with examples and write your own.

 

How to Write Poems and Rhyme

When I was a kid, I had a huge obsession with Dr. Seuss’s books, practically every poem I read, included end-rhyme (words at the end of a sentence which rhyme with others at end of a sentence).

Put simply, a poem had to rhyme otherwise, it simply wasn’t one. Although my opinion has now changed (structure and rhythm hold importance, yes but this doesn’t always have to include rhyme) there are some people (you could even be one of them) who hold that same belief that I held as a child.

In this blog we’re going to take a look at verse forms that take rhyme and non-rhyme patterns, so if you are of the opinion that verse has to rhyme to be a poem, maybe I can help change your mind. Grab a pen and a notepad (there are a few exercises to complete during this blog) Iâ€m going to start with haiku writing.

For more information on creative writing and rhyme, please visit here.

 

The Haiku

A haiku is a Japanese poem (or English poem in haiku form) containing seventeen syllables and spanning three lines which follow a five, seven and five syllable pattern; with the third line often taking an unexpected twist.

Haikus are traditionally heavily influenced by nature and the seasons, they’re usually free of metaphors, similes and rhyme too (but are still regarded as poems!).

Poets have been composing haikus for centuries. Kobayashi Issa, was a haiku master from the late 1700s and early 1800s, this is one of his haikus:

Everything I touch
with tenderness, alas,
pricks like a bramble.

 

Ouch! Traditional haikus are generally pretty expressive with a huge focus on nature. The following haiku was written by novelist and master of the haiku, Natsume Soseki:

Over the wintry
forest, winds howl in  rage
with no leaves to blow.

 

For more information and examples, please visit here.

 

Writing Your Haiku

Some writers have expressed that the short length and simplicity of a haiku means that theyâ€re easy to write. But I think that sticking to all its associated traditions can make a haiku a little tricky to get right at first, so when it comes to trying your hand at haiku writing, feel free to break a few of the rules and experiment.

To get yourself started, try freewriting a half page or so of buzz words relating to nature, weather, the seasons, senses (taste, smell etc.) or whatever you think would sit well in a haiku poem. Basically anything to inspire you on your haiku writing journey. Feel free to pick words from the buzz word table below too.

 

Here’s my list:

Singing Tasting Snow Burning
River Creeping Sunlight Thirst
flow fish Breath Desire
Swim Tasting Waves Hunger
Singing Shells Crashing Caressing
Sea Shores Surrender Aroma
Stars Hearts Scent Entwined
Moonlight Ocean Perfume Skin
Birds Water Frozen Fluttering
Trees Leaves Timeless mistletoe
Beating Tumbling Flowering Orchid

 

Now, ready to write your first haiku?

Using words from your list (or a combination of yours and mine if that helps) write a few sentences of around 5 syllables that you feel would sit right in a poem.

Then do the same, this time with sentences of around 7 syllables.

 

My list of sentences looks like this (Iâ€ve added the syllable count to the end of each sentence).

Mistletoe and berries 6 Caged birds, loud singing 5
Ready to take flight 5  Fruitless trees, light rain 5
Melting snow, crisp white 5 Two fluttering hearts 5
Warm breath, cast shadows 5 Rose scent on my fingertips 7
Surrender to our hunger 7 Fallen pine cones, crunching feet 7
Crashing like waves we fall 6 Fallen leaves, deepening wounds 7

Now to make your haiku, throw three of your sentences together using the traditional five, seven and five syllable pattern if you can and see what you come up with.

 

I managed this first time around:

Caged birds, loud singing 5
Two fluttering hearts beating 7
Ready to take flight 5

 

I like the second one I wrote a little better:

Mistletoe, berries 5
Fallen pine cones, fruitless trees 7
Melting snow, warm breath 5 

 

How did you get on? You can probably tell that for me, as a starting point, doing it this way worked quite well. But Iâ€m not done yet.

 

To liven up your haiku writing process when freewriting your buzz words next time, try and think of words or phrases that would sit well in an erotic poem or story. Again, turn them into sentences using the traditional word count and see what you come up with. I managed the haiku below by expanding on some of the buzz word sentences Iâ€d used previously:

 

Soft scent, your fingers
Aroma, hunger, sweet, strong
Like waves we tumble

 

Hey, my first haiku inspired by Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems (an upcoming poetry book on erotic love). Maybe Iâ€ll include some of these in my next anthology! Iâ€d be surprised if you guys didnâ€t manage to get something out of trying out these simple exercises too.

Before I move on to creating poems that rhyme, letâ€s take a look at a poem that, to me, certainly looks like a poem, sounds like a poem but it doesnâ€t rhyme. The poem is called: For My People. It was written in 1942 by poet Margaret Walker:

To read the poem, please visit here.

 

Free Verse

For My People was written in free verse with, this means the poem writer has written their prose freely, following no rules using no metrical patterns (iambic pentameter) – weâ€ll discuss this in more detail later. For me, despite being rhyme free, the poem ‘For My People†has natural rhythm, ebb and flow and itâ€s is a definite poem. Is there anyone out there who disagrees with me? Would love to know why – maybe youâ€ll start to change MY mind!

For more information on Free Verse, please visit here.

 

Sonnets

In this section weâ€re going to focus on creating rhyme patterns, to start off weâ€re looking at sonnets.

Iâ€m wondering, as Elvis Presley has been labelled the King of Rock n Roll, is it OK for me to refer to William Shakespeare as the King of Sonnets? The poet and playwright wrote dozens of them. In fact, he wrote so many (154 to be exact) the poor guy found it hard thinking up titles for them all (being the writer of nearly 40 plays too, he definitely had his work cut out) so ended up just giving his sonnets numbers instead.

Take a close look at William Shakespeareâ€s, Sonnet Number 154.

 

Sonnet 154

The little Love-god lying once asleep, A
Laid by his side his heart-inflaming brand, B
Whilst many nymphs that vowed chaste life to keep A
Came tripping by; but in her maiden hand B
The fairest votary took up that fire C
Which many legions of true hearts had warmed;D
And so the General of hot desire C
Was, sleeping, by a virgin hand disarmed. D
This brand she quenched in a cool well by, E
Which from Love’s fire took heat perpetual, F
Growing a bath and healthful remedy, E
For men diseased; but I, my mistress’ thrall, F

Came there for cure and this by that I prove, G
Love’s fire heats water, water cools not love. G

 

To further read, please visit here. 

 

Youâ€ll notice Iâ€ve labelled the rhyme pattern in capitals at the end of each line, weâ€ll look at these more closely before we try out composing our own sonnets. All of Shakespeareâ€s sonnets follow the end rhyme pattern, illustrated above, of A,B,A,B,C,D,C,D,E,F,E,F,G,G

There are fourteen lines with around ten syllables in each line. This is the typical pattern of all of Shakespeareâ€s sonnets, known as Iambic Pentameter which is the most common meter in poetry. The meter uses a combination of iambic feet (or iambs) which are stressed and unstressed syllables ‘hoNEY†or ‘bisCUITâ€.

The pentameter portion of iambic pentameter refers to the number of feet (iambs) that are repeated in each line of verse (five in the case of the above poem).

 

How to Write a Sonnet

Iâ€m hoping youâ€ll join me in the following exercise – creating a poem using the same rhyme scheme pattern as a Shakespearean sonnet. Weâ€re going to be using a buzz word table again, except this time Iâ€m putting together a selection of words which rhyme or half rhyme, some with one syllable and some with more.

Wine Dine Sublime
This time Entwine Seem
King and queen Serene Sun beams
Trees Berries Sneeze
Clouds Shroud endowed
Fruitful Youthful truthful
Shaker Stake her ground
Home Grown bemoan
He Sea mystery
Eat Defeat cheat
She Be Thee

The table will hopefully help with the end rhyme of your sonnet writing it may also help if you jot down one of Shakespeareâ€s first lines on a page as a starting point to base your rhythm on e.g. Shall I Compare thee to a Summers Day or If Music be the Food of Love, Play on.

I have to admit, I found it hard to get into a 10 syllable sentence mode, but through using one of the Sonnet Kingâ€s opening lines, it got easier. It was still quite a challenge and it took a long time to get to this point, but with a little help from my ideas table, I managed to write my first sonnet. (I warn you if Shakespeare was alive today, he wouldnâ€t worry at all about my stealing his thunder!)

 

If music be the food of love, letâ€s eat
My heart is no more under lock and key
If we dine with fine wine and well cooked meat
Will you be my true love and marry me?
“To fulfil a request that seems sublime
Would seem dishonest and disrespectful
An action to marry in such a short time
Means a lifetime of feeling regretful
Hide away that designer wedding gown
Save it for another in your history
Iâ€ll be willing to smile and hide my frown
I may even allow you to kiss me”
Iâ€m happy to eat this fine tasty feast
But no, I wonâ€t kiss this arrogant beast

 

Ballads

Ballads are poems which usually tell stories. Typically these can be emotional narratives about love, pain, tragedy etc. Generally written in four line stanzas (verses) the meter of a ballad is often iambic (similar to that of Shakespearean sonnets) as in the case of the sad tale below by William Wordsworth.

 

Lucy Gray, or Solitude

Oft I had heard of Lucy Gray:
And, when I crossed the wild,
I chanced to see at break of day
The solitary child.

No mate, no comrade Lucy knew;
She dwelt on a wide moor,
–The sweetest thing that ever grew
Beside a human door!

You yet may spy the fawn at play,
The hare upon the green;
But the sweet face of Lucy Gray
Will never more be seen.

“To-night will be a stormy night—
You to the town must go;
And take a lantern, Child, to light
Your mother through the snow.”

 

To read the complete poem, please visit here.

 

How to Write a Ballad

I think the best time to write a ballad is when youâ€re feeling truly emotional about something. It might be useful to list a few things you would like your ballad to contain beforehand. However, Iâ€m not sure if employing the ‘buzz word” table method used earlier would be as useful for creating a ballad if youâ€re hoping to evoke emotion and empathy.

 

Iâ€m not feeling emotional enough to try writing a ballad at the moment but I do have a few pointers if youâ€re ready:

1. Remember most ballads are written using quatrains (four line stanzas).
2. Ballads are probably easier to write than sonnets as there are no set syllable length patterns to follow.
3. Not all the end words have to rhyme in a ballad stanza but itâ€s useful if two of them do.
4. The last thing I want you to feel is sad or low but being filled with emotion when writing a ballad will, I suspect, only enhance your ballad writing skills. 

 

What is an Ode?

Am going to finish with a section on ode writing, the complexities of some take poetry to a whole new level. The link below contains two different types of ode from way back in time called the Pindaric and the Horatian.

To further read, please visit here.

 

Writing a Pindaric Ode

If youâ€re brave enough (and youâ€ve got enough time on your hands) to write one of these, bear in mind the following before you embark on the longest literary challenge youâ€ll probably ever face:

 

A Pindaric ode is defined by the following triads:

1. Stanzas (There are so many verses in Pindaric odeâ€s, you might want to keep the next couple of months free if youâ€re planning on finishing yours)

2. Strophes and antistrophes. These are essentially any number of lines and lengths that follow whichever rhyme scheme the writer decides on but theyâ€re identical in structure. Considering the epic content of Pindaric odes, Iâ€m thinking this could be one tricky poem to master!

3. Epodes: These differ in whatever way the poet decides is best suited for their odes

 

Wow! Thereâ€s me thinking that sonnets were difficult!

Iâ€m not in a hurry to try writing a Pindaric Ode. Hats off to you if youâ€ve ever tried writing one and completed it.

 

Horatian Odes

Moving on to Horatian odes, which thankfully tend to be shorter than Pindaric odes and less intense (theyâ€re usually written in stanzas of two or four lines). If I was going to emulate anyoneâ€s odes then Roman poet, Horatio, is the one Iâ€d go for. The buzz word table might be useful in creating your ode. But I think if you have enough passion for the person , or thing youâ€re writing the ode for, this will probably serve you in good stead.

 

Iâ€ve decided to finish with my own ode and in the interest of mixing things up and breaking tradition, my ode which is to Dr Seuss, is done in the style of a haiku poem.

 

Oh say, can you say
Seuss. The man! I am a fan
Of Green Eggs and Ham!
 
 
###
Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club. Subscribe your email now and join and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Sign up now and stay in the touch!
 
What do you think about this little instruction on writing? Did you have fun reading the poems? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

Interview With R. M. Drake: Who Is This Instagram Famous Poet?

Instagram has seen a humongous growth in recent years. With this explosive user growth, we also see the rise in posts related to literary nature. Quotations and poetry, in particular, are very popular on this relatively young social media platform.

Interview With Writer Robert M. Drake

There are a lot of accounts which posts poems, quotations and short pieces of writing. Amidst this jungle of writers, one name that comes to the forefront is @rmdrk. Behind this hugely popular username (@rmdrk) is actually a Miami based young street artist and writer, Robert M. Drake.

Robert has recently published his third book Beautiful Chaos through lulu.com. His work is being read by over a million people (across the world) on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. His book is already on top third position on Amazon.com in American Poetry category.

I must admit, that it was an honor to interview the man who is not only both successful and highly creative but someone who is being followed by some of the hottest celebrities of our time. Naturally, it sparks a curiosity to meet and know more about this man!

It is impossible to find out the complete list of celebrities who follow him but the man and writer Robert M. Drake is followed by Khloe Kardashian (American reality TV star), Kendall Jenner (American reality TV star and fashion model), Kylie Jenner (American reality TV star), Sophia Bush (American actress and activist), and Shay Mitchell (Canadian actress and model).

There is little to no doubt that thousands of young and aspiring writers want to know more about Robert. This is where this interview idea came to my mind. I knew I wanted to know more about him. Well, it is my pleasure and honor to introduce Robert to all of you.

Without further ado, enter R. M. Drake.

 

Robert M. Drake: On Lifestyle and the Man Himself

Robert, are you originally from Miami, FL? 

Yes, I am originally from Miami, FL.

What’s your favorite place to eat in Miami?

Currently, I do not have a favorite place. There used to be a spot in a south beach called Van Dykes. It was a restaurant/bar/jazz lounge. It was fresh. I would kick it there several times a month. Good food, good people, good music and good drinks.

Do you like living in Miami? If you were to relocate, where would be that?