I’m going to take a moment to step away from the marketing side of things and talk a bit about one of the other frequent questions I get: how to write a book.
It’s a common question, more frequent than one might expect. It’s like any other pursuit – once you’ve done it yourself, you are viewed as the “expert” and then are asked about how to accomplish such a task.
The reality is that writing a book isn’t easy. What you’re doing is taking 75,000 words or so to write about a particular topic. Sure, it can be a general information book that has a wide enough net to give you plenty to discuss, but ultimately, you’re still writing more in a manuscript than you likely have done at any other point in your life (PhD students aside).
So what is the secret to writing a book? There’s no real “special sauce” per se, but there are a few commonalities that come with completing a successful project. Have passion
The number one thing that will create writer’s block is trying to stretch a topic or write about something that you’re not “feeling” as you’re putting together your manuscript. A publisher will be looking for you to show your knowledge and willingness to research a topic (if applicable), so you have to come in prepared.
So what’s the best way to see whether you’re ready to give your book the attention the topic deserves?
Write a couple sample chapters
The only way to tell whether you’re ready to write a book is to actually start writing. Take a couple snippets of your topic and start writing. Try to get at least 2,500 to 5,000 words written. This already will put you at a length comparable to a major magazine feature.
If you can write this long and feel like you have a lot more to say, this will be a good indicator of whether or not you are ready to write a book.
So, now that you have your topic and the confidence to be able to write your book, it’s time to partner up with a publisher. Thus, your next step is… Prepare your proposal
Whether you’re a first-time author or have written a dozen manuscripts, each and every time a publisher or literary agent is approached with a book idea, they’re going to want to see a proposal. This may include wanting to see a couple sample chapters (which you’ll have already done), but also may include:
-An identified target audience
-Identified titles that already cover your topic
-Projected sales potential
Be prepared to defend your project to the hilt. Going into the publishing world, particularly as a first-time author, is a risky venture, so you have to be able to show confidence and faith in your title. Be ready to be grilled on your project.
Finally, remember that the most important factor of book writing is to: Set a timeline
It’s easy for us to get caught up in the activities of daily life. The majority of us will never make a career of book writing, so this becomes a side project like anything else you do, say, around your house.
Thus, it’s easy to shluff off and go weeks without working on the book, which will make your publisher anxious. Make yourself a loose schedule but incorporate hard deadlines, such as having 20,000 words by such and such date.
Remember though, that no matter the topic, book writing is a creative process. You will encounter stumbles along the way or days when you just can’t write. It’s important to keep these days in perspective and be ready to face them head on.
Happy writing! Jon Waldman is a marketing and communications expert in Winnipeg. Follow Jon on Twitter @jonwaldman or connect with him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2015 has just started, and unfortunately, the year started on a mournful note as Winnipeg lost one of the true friends of the journalism world, Shawn Coates.
Shawn’s name is very familiar around the Winnipeg sports scene. Most recognizably, Shawn had been the executive director of Football Manitoba at the time of his passing, but prior to this, he had been in PR and leadership roles with the likes of The University of Winnipeg, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Canadian Football League.
It was in his position with the Bombers where I met Shawn. At the time, I was a cub journalist, carving out the start of a career with Sun Media. Shawn introduced me to the football world as I did my first Bomber interviews and showed me what a true PR professional is – accommodating, attentive, and downright caring about the place he was working at and promoting. It wasn’t a surprise to me at all when Shawn was promoted to his position with the CFL.
After Shawn returned to Winnipeg I was able to reconnect with him, and just as he was in his days of Bombers PR, he was just as kind to me in the new era of his life. In this case, it was during work on a book (that unfortunately didn’t get published) where Shawn and I crossed paths – he had now become one of Winnipeg’s premier photographers.
Reading through tributes on Facebook and other media, there isn’t a single person who doesn’t speak richly of Shawn’s mastery of the camera, and it shows in his work that has been seen in publications across not only Manitoba, but North America for USA Today.
It was in this photographic passion that I last saw Shawn. Up in the pressbox at the MTS Centre, I often saw Shawn before Winnipeg Jets games, before he would take to the arena bowl and shoot the action beneath him. Always cordial, Shawn was happiest with a camera in his hand and often shared his successes through the miniature screen.
On the occasions where I was shooting as well, it became an opportunity for us to not only talk about the status of the Jets, but talk about angles and best locations around the MTS Centre for image capture. It was the Monday prior to his passing – a game vs. the San Jose Sharks, where I said what I didn’t know at the time would be my final “cheers” to Shawn as we passed each other on the concourse.
It’s funny how a single person can shape your career and you can be not even fully aware of it. Certainly, Shawn was one of those people who touched the careers of many in the journalism world. His passion spoke louder than words and said more than any photograph ever could. Truly, the Winnipeg sports world is better for having Shawn Coates lead it. Jon Waldman is a marketing and communications expert in Winnipeg. Follow Jon’s activity on Twitter @jonwaldman or contact him at email@example.com.
As 2014 fades into our memories, it’s important to look ahead to what’s coming up in Winnipeg in the coming months, and boy are we going to be busy.
2015 will see the Women’s World Cup and the CFL’s Grey Cup coming to town, and just a couple short months into 2016, the NHL’s Heritage Classic will come as well.
Now, of course, big advertising opportunities come with these events, but should caution be thrown to the wind for the sake of exposure? Not necessarily.
There are two realities that come to mind when it comes to these large-scale advertisements:
1. You are going to get more eyeballs in a concentrated area than you will in most other situations (so long as they’re not distracted by trivial things, like say, the action on the field or ice); and
2. You’re competing for said eyeballs. Big events require big sponsorship dollars to be considered financial successes (or at least break-evens), so expect a wide variety of ad placements to be available, but not to have much luck when it comes to having exclusivity in an area.
So what does this mean for your ad dollars? Essentially, unless you’re going into one of these events with more of an eye toward the more beautiful cause of wanting to lend support to an event or sport, you’re probably better off spending your ad budget elsewhere. A happy medium
One of the keys to advertising, of course, is location. Another is location. The other… yeah, you guessed it: location.
But the key to advertising is not to just jump in headfirst into the biggest spot where you’re going to be found. Not every company who advertises during the Super Bowl gets the return on investment (ROI) they seek.
Essentially, what you want to look for is a spot that isn’t too crowded, yet has a significant number of viewers. Call it the Mendoza Line of Promotion (and yes, this is another sports reference).
The Mendoza Line originated in baseball and is named for Mario Mendoza, a player whose batting average was taken as the dividing line between a good hitter and a bad hitter.
In this case, the Mendoza promotional line (or, if you prefer, the Promodoza Line) is the spot between a good ad opportunity and a bad opportunity.
Let’s take a couple examples here: putting ads on a bus that runs along Portage Avenue may seem like a great idea since you have a great number of eyes potentially seeing you, but look at the number of distractions: billboards, storefronts, cops… yeah, you’re not likely going to get the attention you seek.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, then, would be somewhere like East St. Paul. Not as many distractions, yes – but not as many travelers (at least in winter).
So where you want to be instead is somewhere that’s going to get the traffic count without all the distractions. St. James was great for this in the days when sports stadiums ruled the area because of the long stretches of land that had little to no ads. Thus, bus ads would have been a great opportunity, since they’d be stationary outside said venues for long periods while fans walked across parking lots and sidewalks to get to the games.
Ultimately, the ad game is an arena you need to approach with caution. Do lots of research first, rather than just jumping in – otherwise, you may experience a letdown even in a promising location. Jon Waldman is a marketing strategist with Cohesive Marketing. To learn more about the services the company offers, call 204-992-6400 or visit http://www.cohesive.ca.
Recently, LinkedIn encouraged its authors to write a message to 22-year-olds – spry and ready to enter the job market.
It was an interesting theme that tied so well to what we all want for the next generation – to be as prepared as possible when they enter a job market that is competitively saturated.
The message is simple: what you do outside the classroom is as important as what you gain inside the classroom, if not more so, and this includes the text you’d use to fill everyone’s favourite essay on “What I did last summer.”
For hundreds of college students, summer is the time when you get out and get a job to do two things:
1. Bring in some cash to pay for the next semester, and
2. Have something to fill the day.
The unfortunate part of summer employment is that most students don’t take advantage of the career opportunities that present themselves and instead will take anything available, especially if it involves being outdoors (where some jobs won’t function unless conditions are just right. Trust me. These do exist.).
Sure, you’ll have your money and your time-biding job where maybe you’ll make a couple new friends, but come graduation, will you have anything to show for your summer job other than a couple stories to share over drinks? Not really.
Thus, it’s important to ensure that you’re making the most out of your opportunity and getting that all-important experience that’s in line with your career path. Heading to business school? Why not intern with an entrepreneur. Looking to enter veterinary school in a couple years? Pet stores or dog walking services will give you some of the experience you crave. Looking toward medicine? Consider working the canteen at a blood donor clinic or giving CPR lessons.
I’ll use myself as an example in this case.
Way back before I entered Ryerson University for my journalism degree, I was a young buck who was preparing for my third summer of work. My first two were admittedly not career-related – the first was working as a groundskeeper, the next doing stock in a local school.
It was in year three – the all-important transition in between my first and second degrees – where I really put my prospective skills to use.
Answering an ad for the Credit Union Central of Manitoba, I was given a three-month contract as a content developer in its web division. Now this was back in 2000, so you can imagine how different this was compared to today.
Leaving aside the writing, which was my primary focus, applying my skills to real-world opportunities of industry content generation put me ahead of the curve and opened my eyes to the world of corporate communications.
Sure, I was still a starry-eyed idealist who thought that, for certain, I would be the next big columnist for The Hockey News (and yes, I did end up writing for them for a few years), but I also had the opportunity to test the waters of a new extension of where my degree might take me. Not to mention I gained some invaluable experience in content production for the web (something I now do every day for Hep Communications).
So, as you can see, there are tried-and-true benefits to tactfully exploring for a summer job. Be sure to keep this in mind as the warmer weeks progress and plan ahead for the months to come – you never know how seasonal employment will benefit your future.
Jon Waldman is a marketing strategist at Hep Communications.