The Agile Writer Blog

Articles On Writing Your First Draft in 6 Months

Good vs. Bad book? Don’t Judge

(loudandcleargraphics.co.uk)

K.M. Weiland is an excellent resource for writers of all types. Her website Helping Writers Become Authors should be on everyone’s short list of helpful websites. Also, her books on writing are excellent and merge well with Agile Writer theory. But, in a recent site article by Katherine Marsh entitled “Why Do So Many Bad Books Sell on Amazon?” steps over the line from advice to judgement. Let me explain.

In the article Marsh explains that Amazon has started promoting eBooks that are newer – like only 30 days old. This has allowed ‘ghost writers’ to churn out new stories using a template from a previous book (replace princess with enchantress, replace castle with mansion, etc…). Thus, these writers are producing a book a month and getting (presumably) good sales.

What Ms. Marsh argues is that this promotes ‘bad books’. At Agile Writers the definition of success is getting your book into the hands of readers who want them. If readers are buying these copycats, then they are probably satisfied. Otherwise, they’d return them (you *can* return eBooks, you know). Therefore, these are not bad books. They are finding a home with people who crave the same plot lines with different characters and locations. The Romance genre is rife with this sort of churning.

And that’s, Okay.

It’s the responsibility of the author to work the system – to play the game – to get their work into the hands of readers who want to read it. Knowing how the game is played and then playing the game well does that.

Ms. Marsh goes on to lay out a plan to deliver *good* books (in her estimation) by splitting a novel into segments that are released every 30 days. This is a brilliant strategy the uses the Amazon system to the author’s benefit. There is no need to qualify ‘good’ vs. ‘bad.’

The READER determines what is good or bad, not the author – and not the algorithms at Amazon nor the publishers in the ivory towers of the Big Four publishing houses.

I heartily recommend Ms. Marsh’s article because it lays out the information you’ll need to get your book in front of more readers’ eyes.

However, this should be only one arrow in your quiver of promotional tools. Remember – Amazon is a *destination* site. People go there because THEY KNOW WHAT THEY ARE LOOKING FOR. Impulse buys on Amazon are far less likely than in a bricks-and-mortar store like Barnes & Noble or Books-A-Million. People go to bookstores, newsstands, drug stores, and others without knowing precisely what book they want – if any.

But because the self-published author doesn’t have the advantage of in-store sales, we have to rely on self-promotion. And by self-promotion I mean social media and search advertising.

Learn the rules of the game. Then play the game well. The definition of a ‘good book’ is one that finds its reader. Make sure your book finds its home in the hands of the reader waiting for it.

Advertisements

Is Agile Writers a Good Value?

A nearby writer’s group is offering the following:

Category Local MFA Offering Agile Writers
Instructor: MFA Grad/Novelist Agile Writer Coach
Price $1,399 $160 ($5/week)
Entry Requirements 10-page sample None.
Start Date September 9, 2019 Any time you’re ready
Class Size Limit 10 students Limited by Space
Length of Program 39 weeks
(9 months)
32 weeks
(6 weeks Storyboarding + 26 weeks writing / critque)
Meeting Frequency 1-2x per month Every Week
Number of Mtgs 13 32
Time with Coach 30 minutes 6+ weeks Agile Storyboarding
Critique Style Individual Study Groups of 3 Critique Partners
Number of Critiques 2 (from teacher and peers) 32 (6 from Agile Coach on Storyboard, 26 from peers)
Total Hours In Class 13*3 = 39hrs 32*2 = 64hrs
Cost / Hour $1399/39hrs = $35.87/hr $160/64hrs = $2.5/hr

Agile Writer Ken Hubona Publishes First Novel “Brewing Justice”

Agile Writers’ Ken Hubona has published his debut novel, Brewing Justice. Ken came to Agile Writers in 2014 to convert a work-in-progress screenplay to a novel format. Since then Ken has been a constant presence at Agile Writers informing the method and contributing valuable inputs to our study of rewriting and critique.

Ken finished his first novel “Shades” (a semi-autobiographical story about fighter pilots in Viet Nam) and put it on the shelf to cool off. He then picked up with a new story he called simply “Bob.” Over time “Bob” developed into what Ken has now released as “Brewing Justice.”

Please share us in congratulating Ken Hubona on his achievement. And take a minute to go to Amazon.com and read the first few chapters for free:  https://www.amazon.com/Brewing-Justice-Ken-Hubona-ebook/dp/B07KSNGWTQ

Legal dynamo Bob Baldwin forges corporate mergers that reap millions for CEOs, investment bankers, and law firms. Meanwhile, rank-and-file workers watch their jobs disappear, families suffer, and communities crumble. Bob soothes his guilt with the balm of a grand salary and beautiful wife. But when an act of betrayal claims his woman, his income, and even his health, he learns the pain of an indifferent world and can no longer ignore the carnage of his work. In a defiant rage, he steals millions from the law firm and flees to start a new life in a remote village where the values of honesty, loyalty, and community still survive.

Despised by a tyrannical boss, deceived by a manipulative trophy wife, and pursued by a dogged but conflicted detective, Bob struggles to rebuild the town that corporate “right-sizing” has destroyed—before his ex-employer can track him down and exact revenge. As the hounds close in, Bob realizes that war is not won by hiding in the trenches. He must take the battle to the citadel.

Brewing Justice is a story of greed and betrayal, sacrifice and loss, and ultimately love and redemption. In the worst of times, we find the best in ourselves.

Ken Hubona has been a naval aviator, attorney, engineer, and bureaucrat. He lives and writes in suburban Richmond, Virginia. He can be contacted at KenHubona@comcast.net

 

Brewing Justice is available on Amazon at

https://www.amazon.com/Brewing-Justice-Ken-Hubona-ebook/dp/B07KSNGWTQ

Speaking at “Awesomize Your Life”

I just found out about Shawn Furey’sAwesomize Your Life” seminar next week (March 23rd, 2019) in Augusta, Maine. Shawn is a leader in the heroism science community and applies his special knowledge of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey to help facilitate psycho-educational groups and provide one-on-one counseling to people in recovery from opioid addiction. He’s a true hero.

So, he asked me if the Agile Writer Method could be used in autobiography and memoir to help recovering addicts and others tell their stories. And I said yes, and many people at Agile Writers have done just that. The Hero’s Journey is superbly attuned to just such stories.

So, I signed up for Shawn’s conference and wouldn’t you know it? He asked me to speak. I’ll be presenting alongside other hero science luminaries as David Rendall, author of the book “The Freak Factor” and Dan & Carrie Chavanne who stopped a shooting at a Wal-mart in Augusta, Maine.

I’ll be talking about how we use the hero’s journey to write autobiography and memoir at the Agile Writer Workshop. I hope you’ll drop by Shawn’s web page to learn more and take a look at his Facebook group “The Hero Science Think Tank” where many people in the hero science community gather to share thoughts, opinions, and research on heroes and heroism.

 

 

https://success4.com/blog/the-hero-forge-shawn-fury/

On Awards Shows

 

Why Watch Bad Films

Every year, my writing partner on ReelHeroes.net, Dr. Scott Allison and I discuss the idea of reviewing films on the Golden Globes and Oscar nominations lists. Scott prefers to review movies he knows are going to be of high quality, whereas I like a sort of random draw – reviewing both bad and good movies. I find I learn more from a bad movie than a good movie. Scott’s position is pretty pragmatic – he just hates to spend money on bad films.

I think everyone should know what the Golden Globes and Oscars are really about. They’re not necessarily the best films – just the films that industry insiders think are good. This doesn’t mean that you, the viewing audience, will enjoy them. It’s just that their peers think they did a good job.

Golden Globes

golden_globe_trophyIn particular, the Golden Globes are awarded by the 93 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Consider this for a moment. There is an entire awards show that influences the purchase of tickets by the viewing public by a very small number of people.

Do *you* really want to go to a movie because 93 photographers and journalists from 55 different countries liked it? In my estimation, that’s a lot of power for a very small pool of individuals about whom I know next to nothing and may not even have the same cultural sensitivities that I have.

Academy Awards

academy_award_trophyThe Oscars, on the other hand, are awards given by peers of the artists creating the films – as many as 8,000 members. One thing you may not know is that to qualify for an Oscar in 2018, the film had to be released in a certain number of theaters (in Los Angelas, CA)  before December 31, 2018. And, the Academy tends to favor films released near the end of the year. So, very often, Oscar-worthy films are not released until December, and then only in limited release.

The Oscar nominations are announced in late January with the ceremony about one month later in late February. This means that many of the films and artists nominated are for films most of us never saw in theaters.

The voters are grouped in branches or divisions. The actors number about 1300 members and are the strongest influence on the award. The voting is highly political and often sentimental. So, if an actor or director happens to be unpopular among their peers, they may not get up-voted – despite having created great art. Likewise, an actor who has contributed a long life of excellent work, but has never won an Oscar, could be voted an award despite a lackluster performance – just out of sympathy.

Also, the studios will spend millions of dollars sending gifts and advertising to the voters to influence their vote. Very often, the film that most successfully courts Academy members with pre-release copies of the film and bling can win – despite the public never really having seen the film.

So, just because a film wins a Golden Globe or an Oscar doesn’t necessarily mean that *you* will enjoy it. In fact, there’s a good chance that you won’t. Because the films aren’t graded on their entertainment value for a mass audience, but on an elite cast of players’ opinion of the artistic merit of the cast and crew of the film.

Rotten Tomatoes

In my humble opinion, if you want to know if a film is any good, or if you’ll enjoy it, check out two metrics that I look at. The first is box office performance. Generally speaking, if a film tanks at the box office, there’s a very good reason for it. Secondly, I find RottenTomatoes.com is a great reflection of how an audience responds to a film.

certified-fresh.png

Rotten Tomatoes has two ratings. The first number is an aggregation of what professional film critics think of the film. That may not be useful to you. Like the professionals of the Golden Globe and Oscars, critics often look for things a mass audience doesn’t care about. The second number is based on audience members who saw the film and either up-voted or down-voted the movie.

I find this second number very telling. For example, Adam Sandler movies are often panned by the critics because the quality is very low and critics don’t appreciate sophomoric humor. However, the audience scores will be significantly higher – because Adam Sandler knows his audience and he plays to that crowd.

Recommendations

So, if you want to determine if a film as going to be entertaining, especially if you have tastes that swing wide from critics’ views, check out the Rotten Tomatoes scores. And after you’ve watched the film, check out our review at ReelHeroes.net where we review films based on the quality of the heroic elements of the film. See if you agree with us and let us know what you think.

Guest Post: Build Your Email List With 4 Specific Facebook Ad Strategies

Today there are so many ways to build an email list it almost seems like the opportunities are endless.

But what are the most effective strategies?

With this article, we are going to look at using Facebook ads to build your email list.

So, how can we get Facebook to become our marketing partner and leverage their hyper-targeted ad platform along with all of Facebook’s data to grow an email list?

First, let’s look at the traditional direct marketing customer ascension path – Suspect-Prospect-Customer- Multi-Buyer Customer- Loyal Customer- Advocate.

For this article, being we are focusing on building an email list, it will concentrate on taking people from suspects, people who you think are interested in your products and services to prospects, people who raise their hands and say they are interested.

The primary way to get people to acknowledge that they are interested is to offer something of value in exchange for their name and email address.

Offering something of value can be a pdf to download, a video, or a mini-course that is delivered via an email autoresponder.

It can be to view a webinar, attend a workshop, or to register for an offline event.

It can be to enter a contest or giveaway.

All are relevant offers that can build your email list.

Here Are 4 Specific Strategies To Leverage Facebook Ads To Grow Your Email List.

1. Write and Promote an Article 

With this strategy, write an article on a particular topic that is informative and solves a problem.

Post the article on your website or blog. Within the article include a text link, a banner ad, or a Johnson box with a call to action that takes people to an opt-in page, where the reader can enter their name and email address in exchange for the something of value, commonly known as a lead magnet.

When creating the lead magnet, you want it to be the next step in the process.

So, if the article is about bass fishing, the lead magnet could be about the 4 types of bait to use when bass fishing.

The type of Facebook ad to run for this is a Click To Website Ad. You want the targeted audience clicking over to the article on your website.

Facebook allows you to create custom audiences based on specific pages of your website.

Inside of Facebook’s Ad Manager create a custom audience for the website page with the article.

Then place the custom audience pixel on the article’s page of your site.

By putting the Facebook pixel on each article, it allows you to retarget people that have read the article, or at least visited the page of the article.

Retarget this audience with an ad sending them to the landing page to download the lead magnet.

2. Facebook Live Video Ads

When doing Facebook Live videos for an ad, try to keep the video between 2 and 5 minutes long. In reality, there is no ideal length for a Facebook Live Video. The videos can be longer, depending on how long it takes you to explain one particular topic.

Facebook is pushing live video, so this will bring new people to your Facebook page.

Follow the same strategy as outlined above. Make your video topic specific with the lead magnet being the next step in the process.

Facebook automatically records the video and places it on your Facebook page as a post.

Moreover, once the video is on your Facebook page, then add compelling copy to encourage people to watch the video.

You can include a call to action at the end of the video to download the lead magnet. Plus, in the copy of the post, you can include a call to action with a link to the opt-in page for the lead magnet.

Now promote that video post as a Facebook video ad.

The beautiful thing about Facebook video ads is that Facebook allows you to retarget people based on how long they have watched the video. So, anyone who watches more than 50% of the video, may be interested in taking the next step and downloading the lead magnet.

Setup either a Click-To-Website ad or a Conversion Ad retargeting people based on who has watched at least 50% of the video and then send them to the opt-in page to download the lead magnet.

3. Ads Going To Landing Page

These Facebook ads are simple. Target specific audiences and create either a click-to-website ad or a conversion ad and send them straight to the landing page asking them to opt-in.

Furthermore, you can place custom audience pixels on the landing page and the page after the person opts-in to download the lead magnet.

As more and more people land on these two pages and the pixels start to mature, then you can run a click to website ad retargeting the people who landed on the landing page and did not land on the second page.

Also, create a custom conversion in Facebook ad manager for the thank you page. Facebook will start tracking who is opting in and who is not opting in. Over time the ads become even more relevant and efficient because Facebook starts showing the ads to more people who are most likely going to opt-in.

4. Ads Going To A Webinar Registration Page

Webinar Registration ads are very similar to ads sending people straight to a landing page. You are providing content that is valuable in the form of a webinar in exchange for people opting into your email list. On the webinar, deliver relevant content, and then at the end make an offer to sell a product or service.

As you start implementing each of these strategies, start tracking how many leads you to get from each method. Track how many leads you are getting from each article, from each video, from ads straight to a landing page for an optin, etc. This is to compare the effectiveness of each ad campaign and to track the cost per lead each day.

To calculate the cost per lead, divide the cost of each ad by the number of leads it generated. Each ad will vary in the cost of acquiring a lead. As your business develops and you understand the lifetime value of a customer to your business, then you can start gauging what ads are the most profitable.

The nice thing about Facebook ads and using the Facebook pixels is you are building an audience by getting people to consume your content, and growing your email list. As the Facebook pixels on your website matures, the pixel becomes a valuable asset to your business, by being able to target ads to people that are familiar with you and your site.

Guest Post: The importance of colors to your BRAND

As I say often, BRANDING is largely about visibility and consistency. This relates to what people SEE in respect to your company, product, event or organization. Color plays a huge role in your overall BRAND because it is interwoven in your print marketing ( i.e. logos, business cards, flyers, brochures, banners, signage, product labels & etc.) and in your online marketing ( i.e. websites, social media cover images, online flyers, social media graphics, event flyers, blog images, email images & etc.) You should have consistent “BRAND” colors to reinforce your message and marketing.

Here are five tips for choosing the right colors for your BRAND and using consistent colors to tie your BRAND together!

1) Choose your BRAND colors.

I recommend that every company and organization have 2 main colors and potentially one accent color. Ideally you want to select your BRAND colors early on in the development of your business/organization and in the initial stages of creating your marketing plan. Everything related to your marketing should include your BRANDcolors or compliment your BRAND colors. As referenced above, your BRAND colors are needed before you even have a logo created or order business cards!

2) Colors have meaning.

There are psychological and cultural meanings to colors. The general guidance around colors and their meaning can help validate your BRAND color selection or steer you in the right direction. I found this great color chart from Xtreme Brand Makeover (see below) and it is consistent with the general consensus on the meaning of color. For example, my BRAND colors are navy blue and hot pink. According to this color chart, blue represents authority, dignity, security, confident, classic, stability and trust. Hot pink represents exciting, playful, tropical and flirtatious. Those attributes are all consistent with the BRAND of Mitchell Productions Web Design and Social Media Coaching. I want my clients to feel “secure and confident” working with me and I want the process to be “exciting”. Is this an exact science? No! But again, I think the color chart gives some great guidance.

3) Your professional pictures should coordinate with your BRAND colors.

Your professional pictures play a huge role in your BRANDING because they are included in your website, social media profiles and print marketing. When preparing for a photo shoot, select outfits and backgrounds that compliment your BRAND colors. Ideally, you want some outfits that are in your BRAND colors. For example, one of my clients, Tonya Sloans, Esq. ( www.iampowerwoman.com)  had a photo shoot and she wore a white dress, a red dress and a navy blue pant suit. Her BRAND colors are red and gold so all of her pictures compliment her BRAND.

4)  Your website should compliment your BRAND colors.

As a web designer, I endeavor to bring your BRAND to life with a website. Your website is your communication hub and your 24 hour customer service and marketing center! Your website design should include your BRAND colors. Typically, your logo design and professional pictures are completed before your web design process starts. This will ensure that the web designer can coordinate your site to compliment your logo and pictures which are all in your BRAND colors.

5) Your social media presence should include your BRAND colors.

Whether you know it or not, many small businesses and new entrepreneurs are attracting their customers from Social Media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and etc. Your BRAND colors should be very evident on your social media pages. Social Media should lead the potential client to your website or landing page and so that flow should be consistent for them. One way to do that is with consistent BRAND colors.

When designing your cover images, ensure that they are consistent with your BRANDcolors. The key to all of this is to help the potential customer experience your BRAND in a consistent way. For example, you don’t want your logo to be green and blue and then your website is orange and gold and then your Facebook cover image is black and yellow.

Conclusion

In conclusion, color is very important to your BRANDBRANDING is largely about consistency and visibility. If you have been inconsistent with your BRAND colors, you can fix that! Just start from today and work on identifying your BRAND colors and updating your online and offline marketing to match those colors.

Schedule one on one coaching sessions with Sharvette to bring consistency to your BRAND through color! CLICK HERE.

XBM-ColorMeaningChart-big2 The importance of colors to your BRAND

Compliments of XtremeBrandMakeover.com