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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Why I have stopped reviewing books from Celebrity Authors

#BookReviews, #indie, #authors, 

  • Copyright: Vladimir Kolen's/Shutterstock
Lately, the book and product review process at Amazon has been in the news a lot. Amazon itself produced the latest, sensational industry news by suing four websites to stop them from selling fake, positive product reviews. 

Naturally, Amazon recognizes the value of objective reviews. Scanning and reading reviews has become part of the shopping process. Customers rely on objective reviews to make their purchase decisions. While at Amazon everybody who reviews only one book or product is considered to be a reviewer (now about 29 mio.), outstanding among all reviewers are the top reviewers. 

Because Amazon top reviewers are trusted by thousands of readers and buyers, product manufacturers and indie authors pursue and court them vigorously. Indie authors may even have a special reason to seek their reviews. A large number of reviews from Amazon’s top reviewers can substitute for a review from a professional service.
Kirkus charges $425 to $575 per review.

Naturally, celebrity authors have it easier to get reviews. Their books are being sent out by their publishers – to newspaper book reviewers, online magazines, as well as Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus, and other paid review services. Plus, famous authors know a lot of famous people, who might lend a helping hand.

Being a known indie author and top reviewer myself puts me in a front-row seat to observe all efforts – from both sides. Indie authors have a tough life. Critical reviewers are never shy to point out unprofessional looking covers, formatting errors, and grammatical errors even though they know that at least some indie authors don’t have the financial means to hire help as they might like to.

Celebrity authors’ books are in an entirely different league. Published by legendary, established publishing houses, these books are brilliantly written, have awesome covers, and a team of editors made sure that no grammatical or other error slipped through.

Which brings up the question, do celebrity authors and indie authors even have anything in common?

Yes! – Both groups are known to write autobiographical books.

Typically the indie authors’ perspective is that they want to help others who may be in the same situation. Because most people tell their own stories best, many of these autobiographical books from people you have never heard of are incredibly moving and honest in a riveting way.  

Also, both groups, indie authors and celebrity authors, are involved in social causes. Many indie authors donate a percentage of the proceeds of their books to charitable organizations, usually to those that are tied to the theme of their book. 

Celebrity authors’ autobiographical books are designed in part to create a legacy. I am not talking about Lance Armstrong’s It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life, which is a work of fiction; I am talking about the image campaigns scattered throughout celebrity authors’ books. It appears that many celebrities are guided by their causes, involvements, and especially – values. Most recently, I read nine celebrities authors’ autobiographical books. Absolutely all of them somehow focused on their social responsibilities.

I used to work in logistics, where transmitting precise information is essential. Thus, it is natural for me to send all authors a tweet when I post book reviews. Amazon, a leader in logistics, encourages that by offering the tweet with an already embedded URL. They know it helps authors to find out about reviews, as well as to sell books.

Probably because of the huge shake up on the reviewing stage, sending this tweet is the moment when any similarities between indie authors and celebrity authors end. Indies get happy and excited, celebrity authors only favorite the tweet if they do anything at all. I have never noted that a celebrity author tweeted back only as little as the three letters THX.

Hmm??! Could it be that celebrity authors take reviews for granted?

NO, absolutely not! Especially in their autobiographical books celebrity authors point out their struggles and that they know that absolutely nothing is guaranteed in life.

That was a baffling recognition. I pondered over it a bit and suddenly the scales fell from my eyes. As mentioned, I had just read nine books penned by celebrity authors.

NOT ONE of them asked for a review in the back of their book! Though all of them asked to follow them on social media and some even offered communities to discuss their books on Facebook, not one celebrity author asked for a book review. On the other hand, all indie authors ask for book reviews, which is why they are so grateful when they receive them.

Since celebrity authors are very focused on their social responsibilities, they probably realize that indie authors need book reviews so much more than they do. Celebrity authors know that people, including me, will always read their books. But it appears that they just don’t want to take up anybody’s time; in the half hour that it would take a reviewer to write a really good book review, any reviewer could also review an indie author’s book; and they are the ones who are asking.

~~*~~

Multi award-winning indie author Gisela Hausmann authors and published books under her 'naked (meaning no-fluff)' brand.

"NAKED WORDS: The Effective 157-Word Email"
"Naked Truths About Getting Book Reviews"
"Naked News for Indie Authors: How NOT to Waste Your Marketing $$$"
"Naked News for Indie Authors: How To Get on TV"
"Naked Determination, 41 Stories About Overcoming Fear"
@Amazon 


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© May 28, 2015 by Gisela Hausmann

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Project Management Triangle applied to Winning Customers

#ProjectManagment #scope #quality #time #costs

  • Copyright: winui/Shutterstock 
Very few people know that my Alma Mater is located in the Imperial Palace in Vienna. The University of Vienna’s Institute for Arts of Theater, Film, and Mass Media was founded in 1945, right after WWII ended. At the time, Vienna lay in ruins from the bombings but of course the Allies had spared the Imperial Palace. Therefore the palace was the perfect location for the new university institute.

One of the institute’s reference libraries was located in the Albertina building (today an art museum), which borders the Imperial Palace. This reference library was open only once per week, on Wednesdays from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. That’s right; this particular library was open only for two hours per week. Admittedly, not too many students visited there. Probably, funding was short.

This reference library’s books could not be lent out but had to be read in the small reading room. Why do I still remember this, twenty-seven years later?

Because I visited there - every Wednesday - for weeks.

At this reference library, books were locked away; a clerk had to retrieve them from a backroom where they were stored. This specialized library had only one clerk, who helped visitors on a first come first serve basis. Since I was in a hurry to graduate, I had to come up with a plan to obtain the needed references fastest.

The clerk was an elderly lady who had a limp. To gather a dozen, typically heavy, reference books and bring them to the counter could take her twenty minutes. That meant, fifteen percent of the entire visitor time might be spent on waiting for her to deliver the books of only the first visitor.

If I wanted to proceed according to my plan I simply could not allow any student to beat me to being the first person to receive books. So, I arrived every Wednesday an hour early, at 2:00 p.m. Sitting on the cold stone stairs in front of the door, I studied while I waited. On many Wednesdays, one or two other students arrived closer to 3:00 o’clock. If I saw the same student twice, the following week I made an effort of showing up even earlier. I figured that one of them would try to beat me.

As soon as I received the books, I leafed through them and inserted paper strips (sticky notes were not allowed) to mark the needed information. Promptly at 4:15 p.m., I began to copy all relevant pages. Copying was not a quick process; the library had posted procedures to be followed. Wrinkling a page might get a student expelled. Each copy cost ten cents; adjusted for inflation, that would be 21 cents per copy today. Still, the investment saved me from having to take notes and enabled me to make best use of the short time frame.

These were the days when I learned the value of PROJECT MANAGEMENT and THOROUGH RESEARCH. If I forgot to look up something, I had to wait an entire week to get access to the library again. If I did not check the page precisely, I might come home and find out that the text was referring to other text printed on pages that I had not copied. Only once, at the beginning of my research, I had to ask the clerk to pull the same book a second time.


The project management triangle shows that we cannot execute projects of high quality also cheaply and quickly. At any given moment, at least one of the three cornerstones (scope/quality, time, costs) is a constraint. In this instance, my constraint was time. While the quality of my thesis would always be the result of how much work I put into it, the “time I was able spend at the library” was the real constraint. To overcome this hurdle, I needed to spend a lot of money for copying every bit of information.

The lesson learned from executing this project was much more valuable than what I learned about the topic of my thesis.

Having literally been in the trenches of scientific research, waiting on cold stone stairs, leafing through thousands of pages, copying hundreds of pages and keeping them in order, I am baffled that today so many people skip looking up omnipresent information. Today, one click with a mouse would do the trick yet so many people don’t invest that little time.  

For instance, just recently I received an amazing e-mail from an e-book cover designer. As an e-mail evangelist, I have high standards; and even though I don’t like canned e-mails, I will admit that e-mail was the most beautifully written “canned” e-mail I ever read. It featured the following, very elegantly written lines:

***
“… Branding the author is imperative, the designer is responsible for presenting their image as a first impression to the public, special thought and time should go into font, color scheme and placement.
As a designer I feel that hearing the heart of the story from you, the author, your passion for your creation fuels my creativity and design process…”
***

Doesn’t this e-mail sound great?  Its writer seems to address authors’ (my) needs.

Still, I would not even open this designer’s website and check out his work. That’s because I know for a fact that this designer did not make the effort of clicking his mouse only ONCE – to look at MY website. This effort would have taken no longer than three seconds.



These are covers of my books.

I already publish books under my own brand of  “naked”’ books; they are non-fiction books, and with the exception of one, they are not story books. 

So, what branding and hearing the story was this designer referring to?

Quite obviously, he did not invest the minimal effort of clicking the link to my website but was fishing for business with his standard e-mail.

Of course the designer could argue that clicking the link to every author’s website would cost too much time and therefore shooting blind e-mails without checking is the more efficient strategy.

Then again, typically authors, who publish more than one book use the same cover designer again and again.  Because of that, more likely than not, their books will be branded and will have the same style. Consequently, any authors who publish often and consistently will have the same reaction as I had when I read this canned e-mail.

 “What is this designer talking about? My books have a branded look.”

Obviously, all authors know their book covers and the thought process that led to their creation; only the cover designer who did not look does not.

The remaining authors, who may have published one book or who are only about to publish in the near future, might be swayed by a beautiful canned e-mail. They do not have a branded line.

But are they the best customers for the cover designer?

These authors may publish only one book every three years. Heck, they might even be frustrated if the first book doesn’t take off and never write another one.

So, therefore, wouldn’t the cover designer be better off, checking out every author’s website, see if he finds authors, who publish a branded line, make suggestions for improving the line and thereby hopefully pull ashore customers who are ideal customers?

Let’s call the cover designer’s efforts to win new customers a “project”, and look at it from that angle.

The best (HIGH QUALITY ) customers for a cover designer are authors who publish books frequently; in other words, they can become repeat customers. Let’s remember that the SCOPE OF THE DESIGNER’S WORK is the same, whether the book is good or bad, or long or short, a bestseller or only a mediocre selling book.

To find these high quality customers, the cover designer can spend money/ COSTS (e.g. for ads) or invest TIME contacting authors like me when he finds lists at Goodreads or other online forums. 

But here is the catch – Time is Money, too.

If the author is trying to SAVE money by contacting authors directly he should not WASTE time/money by sending the wrong emails to his potential customers.

It is like they say in project management courses: You can’t execute a high quality project by doing it quickly and cheaply.


© May 25, 2015 by Gisela Hausmann
~~*~~

Multi award-winning motivational indie author Gisela Hausmann published the following books under her own 'naked' brand.  


  • "NAKED WORDS: The Effective 157-Word Email"
  • "Naked Truths About Getting Book Reviews"
  • "Naked News for Indie Authors: How NOT to Waste Your Marketing $$$"
  • "Naked News for Indie Authors: How To Get on TV"
  • "Naked Determination, 41 Stories About Overcoming Fear"
  • "Naked Elaboration: Our Time to 'Fix Things' Is Running Out"


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© May 25, 2015 by Gisela Hausmann

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Do NOT hire a publicist to get on TV - You can do this Yourself!

In my early twenties, I worked in the movie industry. Mostly I worked as a production manager, thus I was not involved in the artistic process. It was my job to get permits for locations, lock off streets, even have cars towed, secure parking, and keep the team happy by ensuring that food arrived on time and any and all problems were solved. My work paused when somebody called “All quiet please – Lights – Camera – Action” and began only again after the director called “Cut.” That gave me time to watch and study the director and the actors work. Sometimes, we shot and re-shot the same scene about a dozen times until it was perfect (in the eyes of the director).


These days, these experiences are my biggest handicap when I myself am on TV. The second after I say a sentence, I know how it could have been said better and I worry about my hair and posture constantly. There is no director’s assistant who signals with wind-milling arms somewhere in the background. I know how it could be done perfectly, yet I never get there.

Most recently I have published four ‘naked’ (meaning no-fluff) books which shed light on many problems indie authors face. The books also explain how to solve these issues cheaply and more effectively. One of these four books, “Naked News for Indie Authors: How to Get on TV,” elaborates on that indie authors should NOT hire a publicist because they themselves can pitch TV stations much more effectively. This book is not getting too many reviews. That’s not because it is not selling; it is probably because the readers, indie authors, are intimidated. They see and read the plan and the path. And then, they begin worry, just like I worry every single time I enter a studio.

“Can I really do this?”

“What if I mess up?”

“Maybe I should just wait.”

I have been on local TV four times. Just recently an anchor has asked me to be her to-go expert, which means I am getting to be on TV more often. Here is the gist of my knowledge.

  • Everybody (not only indie authors) can get on local TV easily.
  • All it takes is to pitch a TV-station properly.
  • You must offer yourself as a “local expert” when you pitch a TV-station, because that tells the anchor that you are somebody who is not a one-time passer through but you could be his or her to-go person in the future.
  • Shooting a 30 second commercial takes three days (with about 15 people/staff working on it)
  • Shooting a 30 second movie sequence takes three hours (with up to 50 people staff working on it)
  • Shooting 30 seconds for TV takes 30 seconds (with 3-4 people/staff working on it)
  • Therefore you can never be perfect, just like I can’t. It takes years of practice to achieve perfection and all TV anchors know that, because they have done it.
  • Local TV anchors need to-go people. If they’d show only syndicated program from the main TV station, there would be no need for their own jobs. Thus they will always prefer to invite a local expert.
  • You should try to get on TV at least one time. Even if you mess up, you can pull a screen print which you can put on your website, thereby adding “expert on TV” to your portfolio. The picture won’t talk but will look impressive.  
  • Thus, throw all “what-if” thoughts out the door, and pitch a TV-station.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” - Mark Twain
Here in this video you can see

  • Me, not too perfect (It was extremely humid and my hair did not want to cooperate)
  • One of the anchors messing up
  • The beautiful "commercial" the TV station presented about one of my books

You can have that for your book too. 


For details how to pitch professionally please read my book "Naked News for Indie Authors: How To Get on TV"

~~*~~

Multi award-winning motivational indie author Gisela Hausmann published the following books under her own 'naked' brand.  

"NAKED WORDS: The Effective 157-Word Email"
"Naked Truths About Getting Book Reviews"
"Naked News for Indie Authors: How NOT to Waste Your Marketing $$$"
"Naked News for Indie Authors: How To Get on TV"
"Naked Determination, 41 Stories About Overcoming Fear"
"Naked Elaboration: Our Time to 'Fix Things' Is Running Out"



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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

8 Reasons Why You Should Love E-mail & 7 Ways to Make Yours More Effective

#emailetiquette #emailmarketing #emailmarketingbestpractices
#direct mail #directmailadvertising #directmailmarketing

Copyright: Nata-Lia/Shutterstock


E-mail is the most effective way to reach customers, acquire new customers, and sell to customers – worldwide.


A 2014 study by McKinsey & Company proved that e-mail marketing is nearly 40 times as effective as Facebook and Twitter combined.


91% of all US customers use e-mail, whereas only 71% of online adults use Facebook, 23% of online adults use Twitter, and 28% use LinkedIn. (2014).


Additionally, the average order value as a result of e-mail marketing is 17% higher than that of social media marketing, which may be contributed to the fact that e-mail is more personal than social media.


Obviously, customers who receive e-mail offers believe that they belong to a selected group that has the opportunity to take advantage of a special offer.


Advantages of writing e-mails, particularly for the Small Business Owner


Writing e-mails levels the playing field. A skillfully written e-mail from a small business owner can look superior to a lackluster e-mail written by an employee from a huge corporation.


Quite often, small business owners receive unexpected or unusual requests, to which they may not have all answers; in fact, they may not even know if they can fulfill the request. Sending a skillfully written e-mail buys them time to solve their issues while looking professional.


Writing great pitching e-mails to media persons gives small business owners the opportunity to get exposure via guest blogging or to be featured on TV or in a magazine.


So, what can you do to write most effective e-mails with personal appeal?


When getting ready to compose an e-mail, think “product – product – product” and focus solely on how your product or service will affect your customers’ needs.


Avoid writing the word “I” as much as possible, instead – find ways to say “you” and “your”.


Avoid writing standard phrases. Instead of using run-of-the-mill phrases like “Please feel free to call me” write “If you have any additional questions, please call me – anytime.”


Never ever use a template. If you found it on Google, chances are somebody else is using the same template. If writing is not your strong suit rather hire a writer to create unique content.


Never ever use a standard greeting like “hi” and “sincerely”. “Sincerely” is the most overused word in all e-mails – worldwide. Writing “sincerely” indicates “I am like everybody else” and/or “you are like everybody else to me.” In the 21st century, we strive for distinguishing ourselves.


Avoid simply “listing” features of your products or services. Ideally, your e-mail should have the same personal impact like a short meeting with a future client.


Read your e-mails out loud to yourself before you click that ‘send’- button. Listening to your own writing is the easiest way to find out how your e-mail will sound to the recipient. Don’t believe that this works? -- Just open your sent-folder and read any e-mail you sent four weeks ago! Does it sound effective and personal?


~*~


Gisela Hausmann is an e-mail evangelist, who has analyzed 100,000+ e-mails for effectiveness and personal appeal. She is the author of “Naked Words: The Effective 157 Word Email”.  

Follow Gisela at your favorite social media platform

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© 2015 by Gisela Hausmann, All rights reserved.



Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Write Your Emails Like a Soldier in the Field

Catherine Jones/Shutterstock
#email #DirectMail #Marketing #Sales


Imagine yourself being a soldier in Vietnam, long before cell phones, social media, and video chat were invented.  The only way you would have been able to communicate with family and friends was via snail mail.

Replies meant that your base cared about you, that you were still ‘in the game’ even if it had been months since you saw your people last. Of course your family would never forget you but what about your girlfriend? Was maybe another guy trying to score with her and promising her bigger and better things? And, what about your buddies from school? Were they pushing their careers and maybe forgetting about you?

Considering that there was not going to be an opportunity for a face-to-face meeting anytime soon, you‘d weigh each word carefully. You’d brag a bit about heroic acts while at the same time you’d assure everybody that you were with a great team, that you had the very best support in case things got tight. You would write about your platoon and describe how they contributed. Also, knowing that each letter might be your last one, you’d make certain that you wrote how much you thought and cared about your loved ones.

Most certainly, you’d never write platitudes, because every single word was part of shaping the life you would enjoy – if you made it out of the jungle.

In 2003 Donald Trump told Mark Burnett, the producer of ‘Survivor’, to forget ‘his Amazons and Africas’; in Trump’s opinion New York was the real jungle. Together they went on to produce ‘The Apprentice’. 

The show’s candidates wrote ‘letters’ too, only these were emails. They too weighed every word carefully; surely none of them wanted to get caught forgetting to put something important in writing. 

There are many more similarities between the war in this jungle and in that jungle. Not surprisingly, “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu has become a cult book for business leaders.

Everybody has to succeed with his own mission and not worry about some distant front. Today’s business emails are as important as the US troops’ letters to their loved ones and friends; they are the building blocks for our future in business. Therefore


  • Never send a canned email. They hardly ever lead to exceptional success, just like military awards and decorations aren’t given for doing ‘canned actions’.
  • Mention your team, often. Nobody believes that a ‘lone wolf’ can be successful forever.
  • Write often to stay in touch. Everybody likes to read a friendly email for no reason, instead of only being asked for ‘care packages’.
  • Make each word count! When writing important emails apply Steve Job’s concept of wondering if he was doing what he would do if he knew it was the last day of his life. Similarly, write each business email as if this was your last chance to pull a major business deal ashore. This will lead to success.
  • Be personal! Just like the letters written during the Vietnam War your emails are the lifeline to your future. The result of each email should be furthering a relationship that will last a long time. 
 ~ * ~


Gisela Hausmann is an Email Evangelist. She has analyzed more than 100,000+ emails for effectiveness and personal appeal. 

Writing best emails is the fastest way to achieving professional goals because everybody appreciates good communicators. 

Gisela graduated with a master's degree in Film & Mass Media from the University of Vienna, Austria.




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© 2015 by Gisela Hausmann, All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Do You Want to Sell Something or Get Somebody to Do Something?

#email #business #communication #DirectSales, 



Most of us send emails trying to convince somebody to do business with us. Every day, 100 billion emails get sent, worldwide. That implies that our emails have to be effective and PERSONAL. 

Not only do we, the senders, have to prove that 

  1. we and our products are special, 
  2. we also have to prove that the recipient is special and important to us, and not just "another" client.

Having analyzed 100,000+ emails in the past I can say with certainty - It’s all about the little details.

Here is an illustration from another arena – social media.

Last week I posted that my cat Artemis got sick. That prompted 87 of my 475 friends to send well wishes to Artemis. Quite a few wished HIM a speedy recovery even though the posting announced that SHE is not well. A few friends renamed her ARTEMUS or ARTIMUS. These wishes were sort of bunched together. Naturally, I know how this happened. Somebody saw the picture of my sick cat and barely registered the name…

Artemis… Artimus… something like that… E or II or U

The first person to (not really) read the posting and then write “Artimus” assumed that my cat is a boy cat. Some people, who sent their well wishes later, skipped reading the posting and read the last few comments which caused them to think that my cat is a male cat.

Naturally, Artemis does not care how her name is spelled. Plus, since she is neutered she probably does not care if she is a he or a she.

Here is the SIGNIFICANCE of this story.

Of course, I (and everybody else who read the entire posting) could identify who did NOT read it. However, even for me, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE to know who of my almost 500 FB friends

  • cares enough about me to know that I have a female cat named Artemis or
  • who simply read only this one specific posting with UTMOST CARE, maybe even jotted down notes, and then composed a thoughtful reply.

It is the same for business emails. When we receive a thoughtful email, which addresses our needs, we do not know if the sender has known about us or our business for years or if the sender has acquired his knowledge in the last three hours. And, in reality it does not matter. This person will probably be the best business partner. His or her email advertises “I am a business partner, who works hard, I care about every detail, AND therefore I will do the best job for YOU.”

Thus, MAKE THAT EFFORT!  The people, who get the business are always the people, who write every email as if it will be the last email they'll ever write. 

Emails have 7 parts, which need to be improved for best results. 

~~*~~


Email Evangelist Gisela Hausmann, the author of "Naked Words: The Effective 157-Word Email", has analyzed 100,000+ emails for effectiveness and personal appeal. 

Gisela graduated with a master's degree in Film & Mass Media from the University of Vienna, Austria.

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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Why you have to be careful when checking out #free materials on the web, e.g. how to connect on Linkedin

#email #DirectMail #communicaton #LinkedIn


This screen print comes from an expert's #free educational materials. It is supposed to teach how to use Linkedin best.
Unfortunately, it is riddled with mistakes.

1.        “I…I…” => This email is all about the sender and not about the recipient. This mail has only three sentences. Two of them begin with the word “I”. The word “your” comes up only once and is used incorrectly.

2.        This short  e-mail contains two grammatical errors. “Your” is used incorrectly, it should be “you are interest-ED.” The sentence is also missing a comma. 

3.        Never suggest things like “otherwise please ignore” because a) the recipient knows that anyway and b) by mentioning it, the sender is in fact reminding the recipient that he should ignore this note.

4.        Never write “thanks” but “Thank-you”, "Thanks" is too informal at this stage; obviously the sender does not know the recipient.  

In short: This "expert" does not know how to properly connect on Linkedin. This mini-lesson does not teach anything, with the exception of how-not-to do it.

You get what you pay for and this ' #free lesson” is simply not good.


~*~

Gisela Hausmann is an Email Evangelist, who has analyzed 100,000+ emails for effectiveness and personal appeal. 


Writing best emails is the fastest way to achieving professional goals because everybody appreciates good communicators. 

Gisela graduated with a master's degree in Film & Mass Media from the University of Vienna, Austria.

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