The Organised Writer: How To Stay on Top of All Your Projects and Never Miss a Deadline by Antony Johnston
I recently had a chance to review this new book published by the Bloomsbury team that publish the Writers' and Artists' Yearbooks. Here in Australia we have a wonderful writing community - they are supportive of fellow writers, share experiences and helpful tips, and band together particularly on social media. To be honest, I loathe Twitter (I find it poisonous) but when it comes down to writers, illustrators, publishers, libraries, and others in the book trade, there's a lot of love and support out on that platform and other social media sites. We really do have a special industry here and we should celebrate and use that to learn and communicate with each other.
With that said, if you are interested in writing as a profession and don't have time or money to do any of the courses frequently offered via Writer's Centres, Author associations, community colleges, or even the publishers who offer training, this book is a really good place to start.
"Ask ten writers to describe their ideal writing environment and you’ll get eleven different answers."
Antony gives the reader some helpful tips and tricks on time management and writing in general. First of all it's important to create a system to increase and maintain efficiency - you need to be able to meet deadlines and not forget anything. In fact he references "clean mind theory" and "memory distraction" and how to stop sabotaging from within! You need to be focussed and organised! So to start, figure out your daily writing quota, work out the number of days you have to submit, add 25% for unforeseen issues, block out days in calendar, and stick to it. Of course that sounds perfectly do-able, right?
Well not if you aren't good with email so Antony writes about getting smart with email. Throw away traditional productivity systems. Flag emails, label emails - your job is to write and not be distracted.
So what do you need? You need a task manager. A task manager is a permanent fixture in your workflow as it contains projects which in turn contains tasks. We use one here at RM Marketing Services - ASANA - however for our marketing pipelines we use Less Annoying CRM which also provides tasks and notes specific to the channels in which we work.
Antony also talks about the power of saying No - which is also important and many writers have a hard time saying it. "Saying no gives you power both over your destiny and value". The book also talks about productive procrastination and organising your personal life.
Writers must be able to take notes quickly and easily record any thought, idea or task that comes to mind so naturally how to use your phone and computer is covered in the book. Many writers we have worked with have basic tech skills but it's time to brush up folks. Do your research and use the best devices and apps that work for you.
One of the helpful tools he provides in the book is Job Sheets and Templates - so look out for them. There's also a download link. The Organised Writer also covers basic advice re money, invoicing, pricing, set-up, and one that I think a lot of authors (and indeed marketers!) don't pay enough attention to - taxonomy. There are summary checklists and a decent reading list.
The book is A$26.99 and is published by Bloomsbury. You can order it on their website here or ask for it at your local bookshop or library. It's also available in ebook format via ProQuest's Ebook Central so if you are affiliated with a university or organisation that has access to the platform, do look for it there.
At the end of the day The Organised Writer is an uncomplicated read with some good basic advice to get you set up to write, keep organised, and deadline driven. We hope you find it useful.
A Guide to Book2Look
The Book2Look (B2L) service has been around for years now and is a helpful "look inside" tool for publishers and authors - it is designed to help sell books online by recreating the bookshop browsing experience. If you're not familiar with B2L, it's a URL that contains a package of marketing goodness as it contains your (online) promotional material in one central portal.
A B2L widget (biblet) allows readers to flip through a book, read more about the author, watch video or listen to audio, read reviews, order the book through shopping links and more! It also provides publishers with analytics to track views, clicks, embeds etc to work out what promotional activites and channels are creating the most engagement.
Here at RM Marketing Services we buy B2L widgets in batches for our clients as they are often part of the marketing mix for new books. We've been using them for a couple of years now and thought it was time we gave a rundown for publishers and their authors as to the best way to use the service to promote their books.
Setting up the content
Firstly, before you create a new biblet on the site, decide on what section of a book you'd like to offer up as a "look inside" for readers. It might be the first chapter, several chapters, selected pages. A fiction book, for example, might offer up the intro, set the scene, and then cut it off at the point the reader is invested in the story and wants to keep reading. A non-fiction book might provide longer chapters for viewers to get a feel of the book whereas a highly illustrated work would require selected pages to "show-off" the work. Scholarly presses would consider Table of Contents and contributor information, perhaps a chapter that provides a good overview of what the work covers without giving away the essence of it. Decide on your content and prepare the PDF. We prefer to extract the pages from the typeset file and have them in one separate file which you would mark as 100% view. Otherwise you can load the full content and select the nominated pages when you set up the widget.
What's not surprising about this particular widget is the view count. Views are very high (B2L provides a number of analytical tools) as it's been marketed in social media channels, EDMs, and websites. The book is $69.95 so the consumer can look inside and ascertain if the book is what they are looking for - either for them or as a gift for someone - before ordering online or going into a bookshop to purchase it.
One of the downsides to B2L is the rather limited number of websites they offer up as standard - particularly if you are in Australia and New Zealand. Of course they have Amazon, The Book Depository and Booktopia but we have a vibrant independent bookshop culture here who have a good online offering. As these logos don't come up automatically in B2L we endeavour to save our preferred bookshop logos, resized for B2L, and manually load them for each widget we create but this does take time, particularly if the logos are rectangle/too long for the available logo space in the platform.
We then put the shopping links in order as to the booksellers who have ordered stock or have it available to purchase. If an independent bookshop is doing a marvellous job marketing the books to their community, we put them higher up the scale to support their endeavours. If a chain bookseller has taken lots of stock, we take that into account as well. We provide readers with options - direct selling from the publisher's website, indies and chains. And yes we've had clients who don't want to list the almighty Amazon and those that want all the major sites to be listed. Find out the business philosophy and sales strategy that's right for you. Our one is to not limit sales avenues - an order is an order, make it easy for readers to buy your books, preferably with one click.
When you set up your B2L pre-publication you might not have reviews available but over time collate your URLs and add them to the widget. Another downside to the site is that you can't ATTACH a PDF of a review - it must be a URL and in the day of paywalls, that isn't a great experience for people wanting to read more about the book if the review requires a subscription to access.
Make sure you save your favourite quotes from a review and add them to your own product page - if selling directly from your site - use that URL as the primary link for the book when you set up shopping links. We always put the publisher's website first.
Over time the B2L site will pick up bits and pieces automatically to add to the reviews - it might be reader reviews from GoodReads or articles about the author in the mainstream media. You can actually use the tools on B2L to "fetch reviews" and can then manually add anything that hasn't been picked up via SEO. We try and check in our links every month or so for active titles.
Audio Files and Video Content
You can load audio files so if you've got an author reading an extract from the book, add it in the widget. Video content is also super helpful - and it's easy, grab your URL and include it in the relevant section. We put in book trailers for example.
Book2Look widgets are available through Thorpe-Bowker/My Identifiers and Nielsen. And of course RM Marketing Services offer them as part of a marketing campaign. Buying a single biblet through the bibliographic agencies can be pricey (pending special offers from time to time) so we buy in bulk for our clients to bring the cost down. Another reason to consider using RM Marketing Services for marketing, publicity and promotional campaigns. Contact us today.
The latest edition of How to Market Books, 6th edition has arrived. Written by Alison Baverstock and Susannah Bowen, and published by Routledge, the new book must indeed be THE bible for the publishing industry today.
It won't surprise you to know the first thing I did was go to the index to see if my name and business name were listed. Indeed they were! I wondered what quotes would be picked up so I looked at the relevant pages. The first one about customer service and making adjustments in line with how your buyer wants to receive book information was more of an off the cuff remark but the second one got to the heart of what makes me tick - database marketing and making sure your message goes to the right people. That goes way back to direct marketing in the early 90s and years of sending out promotional materials - flyers, catalogues, postcards - to a database of contacts and ensuring everyone was coded to their field of expertise to yield higher response rates. The principles still apply for digital marketing. But I digress.
The 6th edition has everything a book marketer needs. In fact if every publishing house doesn't have a copy of this book somewhere in their office, I'd be annoyed. It should be required reading. Particularly by people who come into book publishing thinking it's like other industries. It's not. It's unique. It has a language of its own. It has its quirks. And it has its issues. You need to understand the basics and then the industry as a whole. And at 480 pages, this book may just cover everything you need to know to be successful in publishing in an ever changing industry. Because the book publishing industry is changing. Always changing. And marketing has to adjust to these changes.
How to Market Books, 6th edition is very comprehensive. Part 1 covers general principles and understanding - marketing and marketing in publishing; what's for sale?; market research and other sources of marketing information; the role of marketing within the business of publishing. Part 2 covers putting principles into practice - reaching the market (how best to approach your customers); how to write a marketing plan; selling; direct marketing; digital marketing; publicity and PR; working with authors and other vital partnerships; organising events, presentations and other opportunities to share content; techniques to writing effective copy; the layout and design of marketing materials. And Part 3 is specific advice to particular markets.
Some of these chapters could be stand alone books. They would make excellent podcasts and even videos on training sites. They are essential reading.
I'm so overwhelmed by the content in this book that I can't simply put it on my shelf with the rest of my business and publishing industry books. Even though I've been in the industry nearly 30 years, this book is a living, breathing document and one I think I'd like to pick up more frequently so I'm putting it close to me while I'm working. For me, there's very little in here I don't know - but it's great to have the refresher from time to time.
But of course the biggest surprise of the book came in the foreword by David Shelley, CEO of Hachette UK. As I read through it a name jumped out at me. It was my own. Of all the people he could have quoted in this industry, he quoted me.
This is one hell of a book for one hell of an industry. Congratulations to the authors and everyone in the industry who contributed to the book. A five-star reference.
Get a copy now from your preferred bookshop or online bookseller.
For more information click here to go the publisher's website.
Rachael McDiarmid has been in the Australasian book trade since 1990. Working in trade, academic and professional publishing as well as library supply and book distribution, she's worked with thousands of publishers, distributors, library vendors, and authors around the globe. She loves a belly laugh, strong coffee, wine, and good food. She is known for her no bullshit approach. This is her blog.