Thursday, July 28, 2011

Treat Every Criticism Like Gold

Not knowing why someone doesn't like you doesn't make you better.
Most customers don't tell you why they aren't doing business with you -- they just quietly disappear.  Since it is so rare that someone will tell you, be sure to mine any criticisms or negative comments you are lucky enough to hear about your book or yourself until you get to the heart of the problem. Then try to fix it.

Understanding the Nature of Your Customer Relationships Helps You Utilize Criticism
In helping authors self publish, I understand that my work involves handling someone's baby – a book he may have dreamt of his entire life. With that in mind, my own opinions may need to be carefully weighed before I push them too hard. 

Most clients are ecstatic because we are so good at what we do. However, there is a rare frown or unpleasant long pause. I understand that an author must love their book, so if I sense any unhappiness, I sit down with them and all but beg for them to tell me any criticisms they have about me, my company, the product we created, how they have been treated -- you name it, I want to know. I assure them that I want to know what they are thinking and that they may indeed hurt my feelings, but I would be more hurt if we didn't create something they absolutely love.

Criticism is a Gold Mine of Business Intelligence
I treasure any and all criticism and/or negative comments as nuggets of gold -- little bits of wisdom I can mine both to make our company better at serving our clients, and to make products and services that our clients are proud to affix their name (in 1 inch letters on the front cover!).

Friday, July 22, 2011

Coming Up For Air Can Net You the Biggest Fish

As a book marketer and packager of many different genres, I know how distracting the various markets can be and how hard it is to catch every little fish in the pond -- let alone the big fish.  I know how bad it feels to just miss an opportunity that should have been mine, or one of my client's.  "The One That Got Away" always feels awful for a long time.

I'm sure you have experienced it, too. Everyone misses opportunities because we are drowning in information. To make it worse, the news always bubbles to the surface only one measly day too late -- you hear about an event that would have been perfect for featuring your book, or you see an article in the paper where you would have been the perfect expert to interview, or a conference brochure arrives in the mail with another author delivering your topic, or someone tells you the most horrible news of all: Oprah just did a show on just your topic.

How can you be sure you are reeling in the best opportunities when there are so many places to fish?  Realistically, you can't. You are probably forehead deep in your topic already and can barely find time to come up for air as it is.  But you need to if you are going to thrive as an author. Using tools that are available can certainly help.
Here are three of my best fishing holes for automating a constant flow of useful information. Yes, I know any angler will tell you never to reveal where the fish are biting, but these will help you be more on top of things.  
1.  Google Alerts with daily notifications:
  • Your name (and all its misspellings)
  • Your book title (ditto on the misspellings)
  • Your company name (ditto)
  • Your competitors' names (ditto)
  • Your competitors' book titles (ditto)
  • Your topic areas -- in as many ways as you can think of saying them (ditto)
  • Celebs, VIPs, experts in your topic area (ditto)
  • Associations, organizations, groups important to your topic (ditto)
2.  Conference Programming Committees often put out a notice that they are looking for experts. They will post a "Call for Presentations", "Call for Speakers", "Call for Presenters", "Call for Papers", etc.  I put this phrase in my Google Alerts with my topic areas, too -- HOWEVER, doing a weekly search and deliberately looking for opportunities will net better results.  Google the phrases in quotes, with your topic areas outside the quotes.  For example, if your topic is Caregiving, your Google searches would be
"Call for Presentations" caregiving
"Call for Presenters" caregiving
"Call for Speakers" caregiving ..... and so on. 

The results will come up with various Calls and you will be asked to prepare proposals for your presentations -- some are very short and concise with their requirements, and some are extensive proposals.  Knowing they are available is 3/4 of the battle!

3.  Subscribe to (Help a Reporter Out) and PitchRate.  Every day, you will receive an email (sometimes more than once a day). That email contains a list of articles for which reporters and bloggers are currently looking for experts to interview.  Casting your line into the water is simple, and you'll be surprised at how you can easily and quickly build your reputation for being a helpful expert. 

Come up for air, use the tools that are free and readily available, and start catching those opportunities!