Thursday, December 8, 2011

Five Things I learned from Steve Job

I've been staying up nights reading the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Issacson. Okay I know that's a lame excuse for not posting, but I'd wanted to read this biography ever since I caught wind of it before Jobs died.

Why? I had a MacBook and loved the way it was so user friendly compared to my former Thinkpad and Dell laptops. In fact, I liked it so much I got an Ipad, then eventually an Iphone.

And last summer when Copyblogger Brian Clark did an interview with former Apple evangelist Guy Kawasaki, I became more intrigued with Steve Jobs--who nearly 70 percent of visitors on the Time Magazine website said deserved to be the person of the year. And in spite of Jobs saying "Americans don't read," his biography racked up 379,000 sales at Amazon the first week it was released, and was the best selling book in 2011. How's that for book sales?

I couldn't wait to get a copy of this book and learn his secrets.

I'd heard he was brash and egotistical, but when you hear someone is a visionary, it sets you up to expect a typical "hero's journey," with the big transformation in the end. Don't look for that in this book. In fact, many people interviewed for this book thought Jobs brash, insensitive, prone to temper tantrums and some said he even took other peoples' ideas and passed them off as his ideas. So like many reviewers, at first I couldn't get past the fact that Jobs didn't seem likable. I obsessed about it, even looked online and there I found some people did like him, even thought he was kind.

What impressed me was Steve Jobs set out to change the world and he did pushing "both design and engineering to the edge," developing brand new products, not just better examples of existing products. I mean what did we have before the Ipod, the Walkman? Seriously compare the two.

As this Huffington Post article puts it, this biography takes off the "rose colored glasses" for an honest look at "one of the greatest minds" of our generation.

Here are five things I learned from the Steve Jobs biography:

1. Get inspired about your book, article or project, go with your gut feeling. One person found Jobs fascinating because "whatever he was interested in he would generally carry to an irrational extreme."

2. Be passionate, fall in love with what you do. If you aren't passionate, mediocrity the result. Take a look at books and products and see if you can discern which were produced with passion. Two farmers from Ayers Creek Farm in Gaston, Oregon come to mind when I think about passion and quality. The two words naturally flow together.

3. It's okay to obsess about details and seek perfection, follow your path, don't listen to critics, believe in your project with all your heart.

4. Ask for what you want, speak boldly with confidence, don't be creepy but don't accept "no." I was amazed to learn how Jobs' courted artists for put Itunes together, Jobs' audacity in approaching people and asking for exactly what he wanted amazed me.

5. Surround yourself with talented people. Brainstorm frequently. I found this theme throughout the book from his collaboration with Steve Wozniak in his garage, to Pixar, to Apple. When I read that Toy Story wouldn't have happened without Jobs, I wanted to see the movie again.

It was tough to reading at times; I sometimes cringed when Jobs was so brutally honest with everyone, even the nurses in his hospital room. But I wondered isn't there a place deep down inside where many of us have wanted to be brutally honest? Mostly we can't, we're too polite, constrained by society. Not Steve Jobs. Still, I wouldn't exactly call him a hero, but he was a visionary.

At his Stanford commencement speech, he told three stories about his life. (Remember the power of story.) This quote, played often in the news this past year is one of my favorites:

"Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You're already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."

Get inspired, roll up your sleeves and get busy with the work you love.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Reflections and Thanks

This is my book at the Gathering Together Farm store. It's so cool to see my book on sale at this farm stand that I had written about. This farm store is one of the many things I'm thankful for this Thanksgiving. And the book itself was life changing because my food world expanded with each farm I visited and included in the book.

Thanksgiving is a time for reflection and giving thanks and even though Abe Lincoln helped weave the sentimental myth of Pilgrims and Indians sharing a meal on Thanksgiving, I'd like to list eight things I'm grateful for when it comes to my book:

1. My publishers who took a chance on me and do an amazing job of getting my book out there.

2. My writing group--Kathy Gehrt, Sharon Morris, Elsie Hulsizer, Jan Schwert, Wendy Hinman, and Sheila Kelly--for listening to and critiquing my writing every week. We're a dedicated group, each with our own projects, and we come together on a weekly basis to share our writing. We also share marketing tips and media leads. Check out this great article Wendy shared recently about book marketing budgets.

3. My cute assistant who poses for my food blog every week and my husband Tom for putting up with all the food photos and my soup-of-the-week project. Oh my cute assistant should be listed first since he's really the one who runs this dog and pony show.

4. The farmers I met who opened their farms, barns and homes to me for the profiles in my book. I don't think I'd know half as many farmers if I hadn't written The Northwest Vegetarian Cookbook. And I'm still meeting more farmers. Recently at an event at the North Cascades Institute, I visited Anne Schwartz of Blue Heron Farm, a certified organic farm that's been in the Skagit Valley for decades.

5. The great people who invited me to amazing events like the Sourdough Speaker Series at the North Cascades Institute. These events are really well organized and it was great to return to the North Cascades National Park.

6. My neighborhood farmers' market. And kudos to:
7. This place I call home, and the opportunity to write about the challenges and rewards of the farmers who grow our food.

8. The many opportunities and rewards that sprang unexpectedly from the book.

9. All the bloggers, cooks and food writers I've connected with since the book was out, here are just a few:
10. The abundant food options that make this place I call home special.

Where ever you are this holiday, remember to count your blessings, wet noses and all.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Book Selling: Persistence and the Personal Touch Wins Sales

When she isn't sailing, Elsie Hulsizer is in my Wednesday writers' group. On her last trip, she discovered that shoe leather marketing pays off and authors can do a lot to get the word out about their books.

I was happy when Elsie offered to write a guest blog. I hope you enjoy it. I'll return next week to resume my Tuesday posting schedule.

Personal Touch Sells Books

By Guest Blogger, Elsie Hulsizer

When my second book, Glaciers, Bears and Totems: Sailing in Search of the Real Southeast Alaska (Harbour Publishing, 2010) was published, I had visions of it being prominently displayed in bookstores throughout Southeast Alaska. I’d given the publisher a list of magazines, newspapers and bookstores to target in Southeast Alaska and the publisher had issued press releases, sent out review copies of the book, advertised on the web, included the book in their catalog, and promoted it to distributors. And of course, I had my own website and blog promoting the book. I assumed the bookstores would clamor for it. The attractive cover of Glaciers, Bears and Totems would appeal to the impulse buyer and all those cruise ship passengers wandering in and out of the stores were an obvious market.

The summer after Glaciers, Bears and Totems was published, my husband Steve and I sailed to Southeast Alaska. We planned to visit the bookstores, but I expected just to be encouraging an existing market.

I came away from our summer trip with three important lessons on selling books;

Lesson 1: Publicity doesn’t equal selling. Old fashioned salesmanship is still needed.
I came down to earth with a crash in Ketchikan, the first Alaskan town on the way north. I made my way to a downtown bookstore we had visited regularly on previous trips and eagerly scanned the Alaska shelves looking for Glaciers, Bears and Totems. No joy. Perhaps they had sold all their copies. I went up to the checkout stand with my bookmark and asked the saleswoman at the counter if they carried it.

“This certainly looks like something we would want to carry,” she told me. “But I’ve never seen it and we don’t have it in our computer. Why don’t you come back when the bookstore owner is in?”

I was dismayed. If this bookstore, whose owner knew me and carried my first book, didn’t have it, what were the chances others would carry it?

I returned two days later with a copy of Glaciers, Bears and Totems to show the owner. She promptly went online and ordered several copies.

“I think I saw a mockup of it at last year’s booksellers’ conference,” she told me. “But I was busy and forgot about it.”

With a couple of exceptions that’s how our visits to Southeast Alaska bookstores went. The owners or buyers would say they hadn’t heard about Glaciers, Bears and Totems but immediately ask how to order it and how soon they could get it.

Lesson 2. Nothing sells a book like putting it in a reader’s hands.
Since we didn’t find Glaciers, Bears and Totems on the bookstore shelves, we went into high gear to sell it ourselves. I placed signs in the window on both sides of our boat so passerbys on the docks would see it. I ordered more copies from the distributor to keep onboard, and we showed the book not only to bookstores but to boaters and other people we met. I was surprised how easy it was to sell. In the middle of a conversation, Steve would say, “My wife wrote a book about Southeast Alaska.” I’d bring out Glaciers, Bears and Totems and hand it to them and they’d buy it. Sometimes they didn’t even open it, but bought it on the strength of seeing the cover.

Once we were in a restaurant in Sitka with a box of books I had just picked up from the Post Office when I sold one copy each to the two couples at the next table. They were so pleased with the book and to be meeting a real author that they insisted on taking pictures of all of us together with the book. When we went to pay our bill, I learned one of the men had paid for our lunch.

Lesson 3. Pushiness pays as does repeated exposure to the book.
At one point I thought Steve was getting too carried away with selling. Walking by a large powerboat at the marina in Sitka one day, Steve pointed to a woman washing the boat’s deck and said loudly, “This woman looks like she needs to buy one of your books.” I was so embarrassed that I looked around for a place to hide. So imagine my surprise when I heard,
“Are you Elsie? I was just wishing I had bought your book. I heard you talk in Anacortes and didn’t buy it then.”

Our experience in Southeast Alaska was a good reminder that even in this digital age, selling books requires old-fashioned salesmanship.

Read more about Elsie Hulsizer and her books at her website.
Photo: A sign in the window of our boat advertising my books to passersby.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

How to Keep the Buzz Going Long After the Book is Out

The idea and content from this post come from my friend Kathy Gehrt, a savvy book author and excellent marketer. Check out her book Discover Cooking with Lavender, visit her website and read her blog posts to learn more about this amazing purple flower.

Here are her tips for following up on published article or interviews that can generate publicity for your book.

1. Comment on the article or story online.

2. Post a link on social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and other social media networks.

3. Stimulate a dialogue with people in your community about something in the article.

4. Write a blog about the interview.

5. Provide new information about the topic.

6. Email the article to people in your community who might be interested in it.

And if I may add this one:
7. Offer to post a guest blog about the topic or article.

Here's to smooth marketing and keeping the buzz alive, until next time dear writers and authors.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Tips for Presentations: Make an Event Checklist

One of my goals this year is to cut wasteful spending (sound familiar?), and those cuts include book promotion. I don't do many "free" events like I did last year for my book, where I end up spending big bucks on hotels or drive all day to get there. I have a set price for a fairly simple demo event that's under 100 miles away and if I'm really interested in the venue. If the the event is under 10 miles away, I'll do it free of charge, with the requirement that I sell my own books.

Recently I agreed to do an event at the Slow Roots Food and Music Festival and I had agreed to do the event before going over details. It's a learning experience, I know, and in the early days that followed, I ferreted out details from the hosts. As I requested items, including a fee, my friend Kathy Gehrt suggested writing a post on an event checklist.

So here's one of those useful tip posts to help navigate the waters of event ambiguity.

Here are five tips for your event checklist:

1. Ask a lot of questions
  • Who (is your contact? Get email, phone, best time for contact?)
  • What (lecture, talk, demo, class, how long, what is the line-up?)
  • Where (how far, parking, unloading, general set-up--inside, outside)
  • When (when are the biggest crowds most likely? check calendar, write it down)
  • How (many other presenters?)
2. Check the organization's web page. Try and imagine that you are at the event. Make a list of things the presenter needs to do to meet your needs. For example--at the Slow Roots Festival I need a two burner set-up, a handwashing station and an assistant.

3. Mention fees long before the event; have a handy list of what you charge.

4. Know the things that are most important for your event.
  • Projector
  • Stove, burners, kitchen equipment, assistants
  • Props and books for show and tell presentation
  • Parking arrangements at the event, unloading, prep time and place
5. Make a list of what you need early on. That way, if you need additional items from the hosts, you can ask well before the event and you can be more relaxed the day of the event because you took the time to get organized early.

The less ambiguity and murky details you can clear away before the event, the smoother your presentation will go.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Catch and Release Books at Book Crossing

Book Crossing is an amazing ocean of books circulating through the jet stream of readers around the world who log-in with the book's journey and a book's travel adventures can take on a life of their own.

I'd wanted to join Book Crossing for a long time, but I couldn't quite reconcile how an author can generate sales through participating in the site. A few years ago Penny Sanseveri mentioned that she too had released her new books into book crossing, and said it was good marketing, but I wasn't exactly sold on how sending books into book crossing worked as a marketing strategy.

I mulled it over in my mind about sending books on a journey, but what really got me to investigate the site was this blog that I've been working on with a friend where we promote free things--sidewalk art, things found in gutters, free sofas, etc.

Book Crossing seemed to be a fun site to promote. So I decided to register my two books for release.

Like a message in a bottle; maybe someone will get it and log on but maybe not.

I picked a release place, date and time--two different coffee shops in Edmonds. And after ordering coffee and taking an out-of-the-way table, I set the books free. In Tully's, the ower or "Jim" was two steps ahead of me. He left a box full of books labeled "Jim's Book Corner" with the take a book leave a book concept. Who knew, coffee houses are now becoming lending libraries for used books.

The odd part about this experience was that I felt a like a shoplifter or their as I left the coffee shops. How funny that leaving something pushes the same buttons as stealing something.

As far as a marketing strategy the only way I can see that it helping authors market their books is to shout out where you released your books, like a giveaway-- on FaceBook, Twitter, blog and newsletter. That way you promote book crossing and your book--a win-win. Otherwise you're just releasing without any idea of who might pick up the book. Which is what I did, because like many other people, I often get caught up in the details and miss the big picture. (I can always go for a second release, and that may happen soon.)

One thing about book crossing is it's an honor system. You hope a fellow bookcrosser may pick up the book, or at least someone curious enough to log on and tell a story. I didn't think much about those details--checking the time and place then sending the babies off. But do think ahead because it's your child's future. And you should probably also tell your journey as a writer on the book crossing site to go along with the book. Just a few tidbits of wisdom learned after the fact, before you log in and join the crowd.

I can't say whether this Russian roulette method of book marketing will make a ripple let alone a spalsh, but the fun thing is,I get optimistic that my book will go far. Kind of like this design blog with pets-on-furniture Mondays that I sent my dogs picture to . You have to let the book go on an act of faith, hoping that somehow it will reach the right readers and inspire them.

Here are a few reviews if you want to check them out before sending your book into the stream of book crossing readers. Even if you don't think the publicity angle won't pan out, joining book crossing is a ticket to fun.

And who knows, it may just be the perfect cup of tea to feed your soul and begin a new journey.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

From Platform to Book

"Do you need to build a platform?" asks Kelly James-Enger in an article in the August edition of The Writer.

A platform is about what you bring to the publisher, and Enger says it's as essential as writing ability when it comes to writing for a living. A platform is your ability to reach your book buying audience, your influence as an expert and all the connections you bring to a book project. Publishers want to know that you can write a book and more importantly that you can sell product, a fact that many authors gloss over or don't really think about.

The problem with building a platform is it's as much work as building a house and it doesn't stop after your book is published. Find your crowd and be an expert, but don't come off as preachy or have a money-grubbing buy this book approach. Join communities, help others by providing useful content that pays dividends and can increase over time.

If you don't like selling products, even your own, you must read 5 Steps to Building a Platform when you hate selling yourself.

The ideas is to become a well-liked expert. Here are 5 tips to the road to success:

1. Pick a venue like Facebook or twitter and start sharing information and making thoughtful comments. It's not about your or your book but contributing to the community.

2. Set yourself apart from other people with similar platforms without being competitive. Copyblogger recently had a great post about beating online-obscurity. I liked his idea of promoting other people to promote yourself and following

3. Start commenting, but leave the "that's fabulous" or "sounds delicious" comments to a minimum. It's a waste of time to leave trite comments and who really cares that you're going to make that recipe right away? Instead why not actually read through the post and make a relevant comment. And when someone comments on your blog, remember not many comments are random, most come from bloggers who also want their blog read. It's common courtesy to look at the link and check out the commenter's blog. At the very least acknowledge and answer questions raised.

4. Practice content marketing and share news items and information your readers can actually use. Food bloggers share recipes. Interior Design blogs like this one and this one do it with cool photos, enticing people with dream homes, rooms and furniture. Who doesn't want to live like that? Everyone has their content antennas on high alert with their WIIFM (what's in it for me) factor.

5. Remember the lost art of saying "Thank you." Cultivating relationships, adding value to other people's lives--that's what internet marketing is all about according to Gary Vaynerchuk in the Thank You Economy. Retweeting, saying thank you on FaceBook walls and generally personalizing the way you do business. In other words, do unto others. Social networking is a cooperative framework for building a platform, sharing information and online book selling.

Now all you have to do is put in farmer's hours to get the results you want. Now where did I put my hoe . . .

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Selling Books at Nontraditional Book Venues

One of the best things about writing a book is the journey it invites you on. New doors open, new opportunities appear, and new friends sprout up along the way.

Perfect bookstore events, where you get great attendance and sell loads of books are sometimes hard to come by, so last summer I bought Penny Sanseveri's Red Hot Internet Publicity. When I bought the book, I signed up for the newsletter 52 Ways to Sell More Books. Penny is generous with her promotional tips. One by one the tips arrived and tip #37 arrived just a few days ago. The tip was about doing book signings in unique venues and going beyond bookstores for book sales.

This tip reminded me of a similar post I wrote last year.

My writing group friends are great examples of these events.

I've done cooking demos at markets, slide presentations at local churches and this weekend, I'm participating in a Farm-to-Fork dinner at Whispering Winds Farm. Sixty people have already reserved tickets for this farm-cooked meal, a farm tour, a chance to win door prizes (which I must say are amazing) and the best part for me?

Meeting the people who grow our food in the Northwest. If you're going you'll love farmers Char and Doug Byde, Char always makes me laugh. I'll have my own table at the event, but what I'm really looking forward to besides Each step of my so called book promotion, even in this second year, takes me deeper into farms and food, my platform and the growing audience for local foods.

In tip #37 Sanseveri says think "video stores, electronic stores, grocery stores, restaurants, coffee shops and even Hallmark stores." I once saw an advertised book signing at Ivars Restaruant at Mulkito Landing while I waited in line for the ferry. Who would think Ivars could host a book signing? Book publishing and promoting today--times are certainly changing.

Instead of lamenting the difficulty of successful bookstore gigs, go beyond the bookstore and let no possibility of possible promotion escape you.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Seven Elements of Story

The power of personal narrative can catapult book sales and compel people flock to your blog with each post. Just check out the comment section at Pioneer Woman or Orangette, if you don't believe me. Even Michael Pollan discussed high end organic food narratives at Whole Foods in his best selling book The Omnivore's Dilemma a few years ago.

I mentioned the power of story when I wrote about serving up stories and Phillip Margolin, a master of suspense novels and one of the most entertaining authors I've ever heard. And he's the only author I've seen who never really mentioned his recent book(sitting on display close by.) But he told the most fascinating narrative about his own journey and with such enthusiasm, I felt like I knew him. I had to get his book, and now I'm now a big fan.

The problem with story is many writing coaches stress the power of it, but few discuss it's basic elements. As a result bloggers and free lance writers often tell only half stories or anecdotes or scenes leaving readers only partially satisfied like a bad meal.

Many people suggest reading Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces, but if you just want the Cliff Notes edition because you want to write a compelling blog post or a short story, here are the seven elements I learned one year from a screenwriter at Write On the Sound, a writers' conference in Edmonds, Washington.

1. Once upon a time . . .

2. And everyday . . .

3. Until one day . . .

4. And because of this . . .

5. And because of this . . .

6. Until finally . . .

7. And ever since that day . . .

This is the bare bones structure your story should have. Use it as your cheat sheet to see if you've actually told a story and let me know how it the story ends.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Kathy Gehrt on the Magic of Lavender and the Opportunities of Self Publishing

I first met Kathy Gehrt in Roberta Cruger's writing group in 2005. The group met every Tuesday evening in the old Carnigie Library in Ballard, Washington. Kathy was writing about lavender then and she brought in essays and recipes to share each week. Eventually she decided to go with self publishing. After she went through the process of getting photos and putting her cookbook together, she published it last year. It's been amazing watching her connect with lavender growers and I've learned a lot with my front row seat watching Kathy's niche market book grow and blossom.

I've wanted to learn some of Kathy's secrets for some time. It's my pleasure to share them with you.

1. How did you decide to write about lavender?
I'd been searching for a topic, when my friend suggested lavender. At first I thought it was a crazy idea. The next day, "Sunset Magazine" grabbed my attention. The cover featured lavender--tips for growing along with recipes such as berry crisp with lavender. I was intrigued. The more I learned about lavender, the more convinced I became and I eventually wanted to write a book on the topic.

2. Why did you choose to self publish? What are the benefits and challenges of self-publishing?
I choose to self publish for two reasons:
  • Content control: I wanted to select the recipes, the format, the photography and the design.
  • Business/financial: I believed in my book concept completely and I was willing to invest in it, and I wanted to reap the rewards.

The benefits include editorial control and timing.

The challenges include the financial investment, plus lots of decisions and hard work.

3. Since your book has been out for a year now, what keeps you motivated?
  • Connecting with people who enjoy good food, vivid fresh flavor and healthy eating keeps me excited about sharing my recipes.
  • Meeting lavender growers throughout the world. This past weekend I demonstrated "Latin Lavender Salsa" and "Lavender-Infused Fruit Saute" at Willakenzie Lavender, Helvetia Lavender and Barn Owl Nursery--fantastic farms in western Oregon.
4. What has been your biggest surprise about the book?
How quickly my book Discover Cooking with Lavender found its following. Foodies, lavender lovers, farmers' market shoppers, wineries and spas seem to love my book. I've also been surprised by how much fun I've had meeting people who enjoy fresh and flavorful food. I also learned that self publishing is easier than I'd imagined.

5. Can you give me five tips for marketing your book in a niche market?
  • Identify your potential readers. Be specific regarding gender, age, interests and values.
  • Find out where they shop what they read and topics they follow.
  • Reach out to shops, online stores and publications that serve your readers. Find out if you can do a demonstration and if they want to carry your book.
  • Establish and maintain a dialogue or conversation with your readers using Facebook, Twitter, your blog and newsletter.
  • Promote your book and look for opportunities to tell readers about what they will discover by reading your book.

Kathy is persuing the art of story telling these days. You can read her engaging stories about lavender growers on her blog.

If you want more about lavender, check out lavender musings on my other blog.

This a blueberry-lavender cooler from Kathy's book--a treasure that will make you fall in love with lavender for all the right reasons.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Veggie Queen on the Challenges and Rewards of Ebooks and Online Marketing

Jill Nussinow (aka The Veggie Queen) is one of the first people I virtually met on Facebook . I've followed Jill's healthy plant-based lifestyle and quenched my thirst with all the helpful information she finds and shares on Facebook and Twitter. Jill is simply amazing. She's a freelance writer and cookbook author of these two books:
  • The Veggie Queen: Vegetables Get the Royal Treatment
  • The New Fast Food: The Veggie Queen Cooks Whole Food Meals in Less than 30 Minutes (currently available as an ebook dowload).
Jill also stars in the DVD Pressure Cooking: A Fresh Look: Delicious Dishes in Minutes. Jill has been a culinary educator and Registered Dietitian for the past 25 years. Her website is

I'm always amazed at how often Jill finds and shares useful news stories and when her book The New Fast Food was recently released, I knew Jill would be a whiz at online marketing.

Here is my recent interview with Jill about ebooks and online marketing.

1. Why did you choose to do an ebook over traditional publishing?

The ebook was part of a traditional publishing deal where I would get to sell the ebook prior to the print version release. It was a way for me to make more money.

What I have discovered is that a PDFD download book is an easy way to deliver a book. It's almost an automated process and once the book is written, I had very little that I had to do. Also, if you find there are any mistakes or typos they are easily spotted.

2. How long did it take you to write this book? How did you fit it into your busy schedule?

It took a number of months. It's really hard to say because I develop the recipes for years as I go along so the actual writing of the book goes rather quickly. I am constantly developing new recipes so I can continue writing books, but I mostly do recipe development so that I can have more fun at my cooking classes.

There is no way to fit writing your book into a schedule but if you want a book somehow you make the time. I said no to things when I could and curtailed my involvement with other groups for awhile to free up time. I also let my husband know that he might see less of me for a few months.

3. What is the biggest challenge of an ebook?

I don't have a physical product to sell when I am teaching. I think that I am going to remedy that by putting the PDF on a thumb drive (a computer memory stick) and sell it that way. I plan to bundle with with my first book which is also now available in PDF downloadable format.

Also it seems hard to market an ebook. And if you want to sell the ebook for various ebook readers, you need to have the "book" formatted differently for each type of reader.

4. What is the biggest surprise about your book?

How easy it is to sell with the help of other people. I can add on to the ebook anytime I want. Currently I offer a bonus ebook of recipes from other cookbook authors and bloggers. The process happens so easily and I think that I get more emails and comments from those who purchase the ebook. Maybe it's a friendlier format.

5. What are your five best tips for online marketing?
  • First is perseverance.
  • Second, play with various ways to market your book through your own social media, blog and newsletter. Always work on building your list and growing your platform.
  • Be public about what you are doing. Tell people that you are selling a book. Don't be obnoxious but let them know. Put it in your email signature, mention it any time that you can.
  • Be strategic about how you market. I have Google Alerts for my name, pressure cooker, pressure cooking and The Veggie Queen. I review what I get back to see what's happening with the topics that matter to me. I like to spend at least a few minutes each day mining for ideas online. When I'm very busy, I don't always get to it, but I make it a goal.
  • Collaborate and network with the people with whom you feel most aligned. I post on other blogs when appropriate. I reach out to people on Facebook and Twitter and engage in conversations via email.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

What Seeds and Intersections Taught me About Intriguing Blog Posts

I bought this bean seed from Peace Seedlings at the Corvallis farmers market last summer. This was the first year that I'd planted beans from seeds, not plant starts, and I thought about Jack and the Beanstalk as I poked seeds into soil. That was a week ago.

I wasn't thinking about blogs at the time.

On a sunny day this weekend, the plant burst from the soil and sprouted leaves. Soil and water intersected with sun and seed at just the right time and the bean sprang forth.

But what do bean seeds have to do with blog posts?

Finding Intersections

After I planted the bean seeds, I read the Medici Effect: What Elephants and Epidemics can Teach Us about Innovation by Frans Johansson. Though the book isn't new, I hadn't read it before and I became fascinated with the concepts of brainstorming and linking unalike concepts. I became a little obsessed about looking for quirky connections, like beans and blogs, in posts of popular longtime bloggers.

I found the most intriguing intersection posts were linked to celebrity. These bloggers linked in amazing ways. Check out these posts:

This isn't a shortcut to great content and consistent message, but wrapping your content around a current odd ball news topics, even the current celebrity meltdowns, can bring your post into the present moment. Current newsworthy mentions--whether books, singers, movies or politicians--makes readers smile and encourages them to return to your posts.

Clever titles and good content, can grow your platform and online presence like bean seeds sprouting in the sun.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Five new things I learned about blogs and blogging

Just when I think I've read my fill about blogging, Copyblogger comes out with a fantastic post about Facebook marketing with all these crazy links that can consume an entire morning or day if you get really obsessed and aren't watching the clock.

Before you know it, your day is shot and when someone asks what you've been doing all you muster up is your next move to promote your blog, which was supposed to support your book but now consumes your interest like a bad boy boyfriend.

Yesterday I decided my approach needed to be more organized, so I got a notebook (the old-fashioned kind that requires a pen) and like a workout geek with a clipboard at the fitness center, I'm keeping a detailed record all the things I'm doing to help promote my book. How many blogs do I read and leave comments on? What sites am I participating in? What works and what doesn't to promote my blog and get my platform out there.

Here are five blogging tips I picked up:

1. Steal from your competition. "Good Poets borrow, great poets steal." I stole that from a post in Lifehacker, one of the blogs I read every week. Turns out nothing is original, but if you can't think of an original post, it's not the end of the world. Thats where finding links comes in.

I followed links on the Lifehacker post and found this blog which is a fun picture post with gems of ideas like "you're only as good as the stuff you surround yourself with." And this one, "Your job is to collect ideas, and the best way to collect them is read." Read the weather, the signs on the road, the faces of strangers and the more you read the more you'll surround yourself with choices for posts. The secret is do good work and put it where your audience can see it.

2. Develop an elevator pitch for your blog. I first heard about this concept in a class taught by Penny Sansevieri an amazing book marketer who started her career marketing her own books and is considered by many people the expert on socal media. You blog represents your platform and your goal is to get your message to readers in a conscise way. "People don't buy a book, they buy a brand," says Sanseveieri. Understand your brand and you know what your blog and your platform will look like.

3. Pay attention to colors, photos and overall visual appeal. Sometimes we don't notice things that are right in front of us and color is something that people subconsciously connect with. I've been experimenting with color in my blog lately but just this moring I found this cool blog called color lovers that has famous paintings and the color combinations out to the side. Now that I see those combinations, I think I'll tweak the colors in my blog again.

4. Connect topical news stories and celebrity. You may think how you can possibly connect with celebrity stores, but try thinking outside the lines for connections. I laughed out loud when I read this post awhile back from Copyblogger and if you can't connect to celebrity and the news is too depressing, a good bad dog post will can be just as intriguing

5. Engage in social media and sharing sites to take your blog from obscurity to a higher level. Check out this post by Jim Raffel about the power of social media. And Penny Sansivieri, author of Hot Internet Publicity has amazing tips on participating in social media. But remember you aren't trying to reach everyone as copyblogger noted in this post about how Buddha solved his marketing problem.

Here's a bonus tip I found before I go: If you want to be persuassive and influential make your blog enchanting like Guy Kawasaki. I found this podcast on Copyblogger and when Guy talked about likability and trust in marketing and how marketing isn't a zero sum game, I decided to order a copy of his new book, Enchantment: the Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions.

I've decided Tuesdays are posting days for this blog.
Mondays and Fridays are special topics for Food Connections, and Sunday, well that's up in the air what I'll post. In between I'll work on article pitches and articles. In the meantime check out this event in July and this one coming up in September. I'm thrilled about both of them.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Blogging: A Love Story

It's been awhile since I posted on this blog and I might start whining with excuses, but just saying that reminds me of this blogger's advice about whining on a blog, and then I reread his post, laugh and waste a few more minutes of writing time.

I might have posted today anyway (even though I was planning a post for this blog) but what really inspired me to write was this opportunity to attend a blogging retreat on June 4th, hosted by this author and blogger who used to lead my writers' group. I love Theo Nestor because she also helped me get over writer's block, get on with my book and she gave me great advice for the farmer profiles in my book.

Anyway, to backtrack a bit, I started this blog Food Connections to help support my book; my idea was people would automatically follow the blog when they bought the book. (Dream on readers, I soon learned a blog doesn't entitle you to readers just because they bought your book.) So when the book came out last spring, I thought it would also be fun to track what works and what doesn't as far as marketing so I started this blog. (Here's another tip readers, don't start two blogs unless you want to spend a lot of time writing for no pay.) With my postage stamp-sized budget, marketing in the traditional sense is too costly (transportation, food for cooking demos, postcards to hand out etc), so I'm taking it online and I've been reading blogs for tips.

Ever since I read this one on how not to suck at blogging, I've plunged into the blogosphere big time, seduced by the idea you can promote yourself online without going broke. (Okay, I've also wasted more than a few hours on Facebook, Twitter and I'm just about ready to jump into Tumblr, and then I'll seriously wonder where all my writing time has gone.)

Anyway, ever since I started these blogs, the more I post, and the more it intrigues me. I muse about popular blogs like this one and I wonder if I can ever get there and whether it can help book sales.

I think blogging is a tool to improve sales but only if you don't come off sounding self-centered and continually promote yourself. Since entering the blog world and after reading plenty of blogs, I grow inpatient when a blogger only talks about herself. I won't point out any specific blogs, you know who you are. When you weave in personal stories or have beautiful pictures like this blog or a funny narrative like this one, still every reader, I think wants to discover something that will make her smile or somehow improve her life. The question now it how to reach out to wider and wider audiences?

My goal on Food Connections was to write blog posts that will change the way people think about the food, give them a new recipe, lead them to a new food destination or maybe just make them laugh or smile. I hope the blog helps my book sales but the truth is, I've fallen in love with blogging, maybe more than my book. It's like having two children. Do you like one more than the other?

One of my favorite blogs is this one by Heidi Swanson whose new cookbook debuted at number 6 on the New York Times nonfiction best seller list. I've also been following this blog, this blog, and this one for tips on how to improve my blog posts.

Has my blog helped my book sales? Only my publishers know for sure, but I've got to say, when it comes to my publishers, Timber Press is the best at getting promotional materials for this fabulous farm dinner event I'm doing in July, and sending a copy of my book to events like this one--The Sourdough Speaker Series--that I'm doing at the North Cascades Institute on September 25, but as for sales, I'm holding onto a ray of hope that my book (my first born) isn't on this kind of table any time soon.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

One Strategy for Authors Plugging Books Online

Information is passed around the Internet at such a fast pace, as an author, it's crazy not to be connected. But with so many places to choose, where do you start? FaceBook, LinkedIn, Twitter? Blogging?

If you're a nontechie or are new to this game, right now is a great time because books on social networking and plugging your book online are hot. Peruse the selections and take your pick. My two current favorites are Red Hot Internet Publicity by Penny Sansevieri and Social Media 101 by Chris Brogan. Together they deliver enough tips and suggestions to keep me going for a long time.

This is one of my favorites:

The What's In It for Me (WIIFM) factor
It always makes me feel a little creepy when an author says something like "Please support me, buy my book, tell your friends about it, and spread the word." Why should I?

Both Sanseveri and Brogan address how people surf the Net, what they're looking for, and why people will not only make time to read your blog or newsletter, they'll pass it along or post it on social networks. Sansevieri says people scan and search for the most relevant information, with one burning question: "What's in it for me?" Whether learning a new skill, discovering a distant land, or gathering information for a project, Brogan says to consider the recipient of your message before you start sharing tidbits about your Xbox, cats or exercise routines that you think are so interesting on your food or travel blog.

"I'm glad you're proud [of running a marathon or meeting a celebrity] but is that really what you want to tell me?" asks Brogan. Be concise; get to the point. If I'm a customer, user, reader, you know what I'm thinking, right? How will this benefit me or enlighten my life? This means rethinking details that you think readers care about. Readers are liklely to leave and not return if you don't deliver usable information. Brogan gives an example of an ice cream truck that says "In business for 35 years," on the side, then Brogan asks: "Is it fresh? How does it taste? And, is it fun?" (Check out sales ads to see which ones address consumer benefits and which ones miss the boat entirely.) Focus on delivering benefits and you'll have readers who pass your blog post or newsletter on to friends and relatives.

Niche Marketing
Any book can be defined by it's niche or specific area of focus. Keep your focus in mind. "People don't buy books, they buy benefits," Sanseveri says.

For example, say you've got a great coffee table travel book with fabulous photos like this one about sailing in search of Southeast Alaska. A marketing message might say, "The pictures are so vivid and the stories so captivating, it's almost like you're there with the author." Or take this beautiful book on Treadwell, Alaska--the town that was built for gold and disappeared because of it--here the descriptions are so vivid, you learn how hardrock gold is mined and the details of a thriving company town that disappeared long ago.

Sanseveri's and Brogan's book are packed with tips, tricks, Websites and online communities. If you've already got a plateful of books to peruse right now, why not take in a social media workshop like this one at a local library just north of Seattle this Saturday.