Thursday, November 20, 2008

What's your story?

Have you been to a book signing lately or read an author interview in a magazine or heard a book talk show on the radio? Chances are you remember more about the story behind the book (what inspired the author) than the book topic. That's because the most effective way to get people talking about you and your book is to create a memorable story.

Think about it. How many self-help books are out in the marketplace? Financial or investment advice books? How about fantasy novels? Yet, some authors are very successful at spinning their stories so that their books stand out in overcrowded genres and make the bestseller lists.

Rhonda Byrne describes how she was at a personal low in her life--her father died and her business was failing--when she was given a book that revealed the secret to turning her life around. Her desire to share her new-found knowledge with the world was the impetus that led first to the movie, "The Secret," and then to the book, which still remains on the Publishers Weekly bestseller list after several years.

Robert Kiyosaki told the story of his life lessons learned in his how-to-get-and-stay-rich book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad. Originally self-published, this memoir-style account of how two powerful role models in his life shaped his approach to building successful businesses topped The New York Times bestseller lists for more than 100 weeks.

JK Rowling was a single mom on welfare writing during her children's nap time when she began the Harry Potter series. Today she is the richest woman in Great Britain due to the books' successes.

It's a long road from humble beginnings to successful author. Just having a good book is not enough. So, how do you get started on the path?

Dramatize your story. What inspired you to write the book? It could be as simple as a passing comment from your partner or child or it could have been a milestone event in your life. Laura Duksta, author of The New York Times bestselling children's book I Love You More, says the story was inspired while she was praying for her sister and nephew. Deborah Sharp, author of the newly released murder mystery, Mama Does Time, says after 9/11 she turned from reporting the news as a USA Today journalist to fiction writing so she could write about happy endings for change.

Here are some tips on how use your packaged story as a base to to build your audience while you are writing your book:
1.Position yourself as an expert. Write articles for trade publications. Teach classes, seminars or workshops. Offer yourself as a guest for local radio or television shows.
2. Connect with your target audience. Start a newsletter. Write a blog. Be a guest speaker for professional or civic groups. Join groups or associations connected to your topic and take a leadership role or volunteer for committees.
3. Publicize your work. Write press releases, post your events on community calendars and participate in social networking sites.
4. Once the book is out, arrange book signings at bookstores or businesses related to your topic. One author I know sold her mystery novel set amid the fast-paced NASCAR racing scene at racetrack events.
5. Virtual book tours via blogs are sweeping the Internet. If you don't know what I'm talking about and you're still in the writing process, this is the perfect time to learn about how blogging can help skyrocket book sales.

Whether your story is about how you came to write your book or the circumstances behind your unique message, it is what your audience will remember long after reading your book or hearing you speak. This is the fine art of communicating at the core level. People who learn to do this well make lasting connections that translate to bestsellers and high demand for their services, where they get to tell their story again and again and again and... .

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