branding


We all have a book inside us. We may even have several! If you want to write a book based on your life, are you clear on the type of book you would like to write? I have seven options for you—six nonfiction and one fiction—that might fit well with your plan to write a book.

I like to say a book is a credibility card that solidifies your brand and message. Should you write a memoir, focusing on your personal story?  Would it make more sense to write a book about what you have learned, one that features pieces of your story and a short summary of it at the beginning of the book?

Many of my clients have struggled with the question of what type of book to write to most effectively communicate their ideas and establish their brand and get their message out there. Some of my clients have pivoted with their brand, and a book has been instrumental in helping them do that. For example, one wanted to move from a more straightforward health brand to one that was more lifestyle oriented.

Other clients of mine have wanted to write their story as a book so they can inspire others but soon came to see that a memoir needs to be about a specific theme in their life that ties into their central message.

My video, How to Write a Book Based on Your Life, goes into some detail about the seven different types of books you might write. They are:

An autobiography or personal history. This type of personal project lets you tell your story to future generations. How I wish that my great-grandmother had written such a book so I could know more about how she went from having just a six-grade education to running a family business! Your great-grandchildren would surely appreciate a professionally written book telling your life story.

A memoir. Memoirs are thematic and often focus on just one aspect of a person’s life. Some authors write more than one memoir. Common themes including coming of age and the hero’s journey. Memoirs have a wider audience than an autobiography or personal history.

A life lessons book. Like a memoir, a life lessons book is thematic, but the themes are summed up with compelling statements. I love the title of the book by Starbucks founder Howard Behar, written with Janet Goldstein: It’s Not About the CoffeeWhat a great title that summarizes the book’s central message! All of his chapter titles are statements and lessons that we can learn from.

A business book. A business book can be part memoir, part life-lessons book. The key is to know your best stories and match them up with key ideas you want to put across (for example, that the Starbucks brand is NOT about the coffee!)

A self-help book. I specialize in helping people write this type of book. You may have seen my video on how to structure a self-help book. In it, I offer a structure that I have seen work time and time again. The book should take readers on a journey from here to there so that by the end of the book, they feel their life has changed and they know how to apply your ideas to their own life to make it better. There are two key elements in self-help books: the takeaway and the action plan. (You do not necessarily need an action plan, but you definitely need takeaway, as I explain in my video on How to Write a Book Based on Your Life.)

A parenting book. I cowrote an evergreen parenting book that continues to sell year after year (hence “evergreen”). In fact, it has sold over 130,000 copies. Now, I am not the expert of all time on parenting (my son would agree with me on that!). However, I did interviews and research, synthesized ideas, drew on my own experiences as a child and as a parent, and put it all together with the help of my coauthor, my son’s occupational therapist who treated him. We came up with a parenting book filled with tips and strategies I knew parents needed. I turned myself into an expert in the process. (Two book award committees and dozens of reviewers and endorsers apparently agree, because Raising a Sensory Smart Child has gotten a phenomenal response from those folks.) My coauthor, Lindsey Biel, OTR/L, provided the therapist’s perspective, which broadened the appeal of the book. You might want to consider a coauthor or at least a foreword from someone who has professional credentials who can vouch for the credibility of your parenting advice.

A novel. You can “fictionalize” your life and start writing a novel. Know whether you are going to make it a mystery, a romance, commercial women’s fiction (such as a novel about a mother and daughter who experience conflict they have to resolve), or a work of literary fiction. Know the conventions of these types of books so that you are clear on what you are writing. If you are going to write commercial women’s fiction, read some novels in that category. There’s an old saying: To be a good writer, you have to be a good reader. Did you know that bestselling novelist Jeffrey Archer said he read 100 novels before starting his own? That might have been more than he needed to read, but it goes to show you really do have to familiarize yourself with the type of book you want to write.

I also talk in my video How to Write a Book Based on Your Life about using sensory detail and storytelling so that you “show, don’t tell”—another old saying in the book biz. When you write, put us in the middle of the action and the moment of the scene, even if you are just writing an anecdote in a business book so you emotionally engage us. You don’t have to go on for pages giving us exhaustive detail about a client you worked with, but give us a sense of what it was like to be in the situation that went from uncomfortable to a sense of possibility for change. Show us how you overcame your bad habit of saying “yes, of course” and instead saying, “I’ll need to get more details before I commit to doing that.” Even a nonfiction book has a narrative arc. Perhaps you will show us how you went from hating your body to feeling grateful for the healthy body you inhabit, from weighing yourself obsessively to telling your scale, “Kiss my butt, buddy,” and weighing yourself once a year, not obsessing about the number. You started at a low place and achieved success in some area of your life. People want to see how you did that, and your book can do the job of conveying your story.

Need help conceptualizing your book? Stuck on the title and overarching theme? Not sure if you should go with life lessons around your parenting successes or with a funny memoir? I can help. Give me some details about where you are in your process. Think about where you see yourself going with this book (doing podcasts and public speaking? being on local TV and radio talk shows? having a blog and newsletter along with a popular Instagram account?). And let me know if you’re ready for a one-hour consultation call and perhaps some coaching as you start your writing process. Contact me at info@nancypeske.com and let’s get you firmly on the road to writing and publishing your book.

 

how to write a book 7 ways

How to write a book based on your story or work: I can help you figure out what type of book you want to write.

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, Shakespeare wrote, but what author name do you want to use for your books? You may not have chosen your birth name, but you do have a choice when it comes to choosing your author name.

As I was reminded of when listening to this excellent podcast on Metadata for Authors over at the IngramSpark website, you want to be consistent in how your author name appears on your books, your websites, your blog pieces, and in any publicity you do as you build your author platform and following. Do you want to use your middle initial or full name? This could be advantageous if you have a common name or if there’s another author who has already established herself as Franchesca Millhouse. Believe me, you might think you have an unusual name, but when you Google it, you might find—well, not so much! Who knew there was more than one Franchesca Millhouse (or whatever your name is) in the universe and she’s all over the Internet and just wrote a book?

Once you have chosen your author name, stick with it. Buy the URL. Secure the dot com of your name and any variations on your name if you can. Dot com is still the preferred website address. It will cost you probably ten or twenty dollars to reserve your name’s URL for a couple of years. Invest in the likelihood that you will use this website address/URL. You don’t have to worry about hosting services or putting up your website—at least, not for the moment.

So whether you are known as John Smith or Franchesca Millhouse, when choosing your author name, do a little research, think about what version of your name would work best for you, and grab that URL.

 

choosing your author name write my book

Choosing your author name? Pick one you will use consistently and that will set you apart from every other person who shares your name.

Finding these tips helpful? Subscribe to my newsletter!

 

Seeking a book deal? Definitely self-publishing? Either way, you need to know how to create a comparative books list. Believe me, as an in-house acquisitions editor at G. P. Putnam’s Sons/Perigee Books and HarperCollins Publishers, I relied on a strong comparative books list to make my case to my colleagues that the book project I was enthusiastic about would be a good investment for the company. When I work with clients to create a vision plan for their book, I find they often get stuck on this crucial piece of their publishing plan. That’s why I wanted to offer some advice here on 4 ways to distinguish your book from comparative books.

 

1. Offer a definitive, big picture view. Maybe the other books out there just don’t give the broader, comprehensive view many readers seek. For example, my book, Raising a Sensory Smart Child, coauthored with Lindsey Biel, is (as the subtitle promises) “The Definitive Handbook for Helping Your Child with Sensory Processing Issues.” As the parent of a child with sensory processing disorder, I didn’t want to buy a dozen books to get the information I needed. I wanted one definitive handbook or “bible.” I’m proud to say that several parents who reviewed it called it their “sensory processing disorder bible.”

 

2. Offer a more focused view. Sometimes, your best bet is to go in the opposite direction of a comprehensive guide—to focus instead on just one specific topic. Many books grow out of a chapter in a previous book or an idea that the previous book inspired. Cinematherapy Goes to the Oscars, which I coauthored with Beverly West, looked specifically at Academy-Award-winning movies and appealed not just to Cinematherapy fans but to fans of the Academy Awards. You might expand on a topic introduced in your previous book or on a topic that came up when doing publicity and marketing for the book. Every year, Bev and I did an annual Cinematherapy Awards press release to tie in with the Academy Awards nominations, and realized that this annual event provided a great way to talk about movies—and in our case, to talk about them in a different way.

 

3. Offer a brand no one can resist. The words you use to convey your message can set your book apart in the marketplace, not just because the words are appealing but because the voice in your writing matches that branding. The bestseller You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life had an emotional appeal that made it sound like more than just a self-help book on gaining confidence so that you could improve your life. No, it’s a book about being a badass living an awesome life someone who has greatness ought to be living! The edgy word “badass” is key to the brand. Books can serve as credibility cards for your work as an expert, so choose your wording and graphic look carefully as you create or refresh your brand.

 

4. Offer an updated approach. Even books on so-called “evergreen” topics, like how to become more assertive or how to become more effective at finding a soulmate, need to be updated as society changes and technology alters how we interact with each other and find, share, and save information. Maybe all the books out there on dating don’t cover the complexities of dating when the reader is gender-nonconforming, or they don’t incorporate information on how to use the latest dating apps. Although technology changes, general ways of using tech can remain the same for several years before you need to update. Think “what’s the strategy” not “what’s the specific technology people are using today.”

Sensory Books sensory diet

A comprehensive approach might be the key to making your book stand out among comparative books.

 

I hope these tips make it easier for you to set yourself apart from comparative books. If you’re still struggling with your brand, and would like to work with me on branding, contact me at info@nancypeske.com and tell me are with your brand so we can set up some coaching sessions.

Writing a memoir or nonfiction book but afraid you’re not a “real” writer with a broad enough vocabulary and an ability to create elegant metaphors? Banish that fear. I can offer you three ways to energize your writing to bring it up to the next level so that your book is compelling and your ideas and anecdotes come alive for your readers.

1. Pick strong verbs.

Avoid variations on the verb “to be” where you can because “to be” and its forms are weak, wimpy verbs. Also, turn nouns into strong verbs that make your writing and storytelling more energetic and compelling.

 

Weak: Summer is my favorite season.

“Is” is a form of the verb “to be.”

Strong: I favor summer over all the other seasons.

“Favor” is a strong verb compared to “is.”

 

Weak: My partner made an assumption that I was not ready for change.

“Was” is weak.

Strong: My partner assumed that change would overwhelm me.

“Assumed” is stronger than “made an assumption” and it’s less wordy. “Was” is weak. Also, when you begin choosing verbs that could go into that clause, you start getting more precise with your words, which gives your writing more oomph. Here, turning the noun “assumption” into a strong verb helps tighten the writing, making it more energetic.

2. Use a thesaurus to find variations on words.

Look for the overuse of certain words in your writing. Did you use “creative” in the first sentence of a paragraph, “creativity” in the second sentence, and “create” in another paragraph on the same page? Even if your book is on creativity, you want to use a variety of words to get across the concept of creativity. A thesaurus can lead you to words such as innovative, resourceful, imaginative, originality, inventive, and more. Bonus tip: If it’s hard to find a synonym you haven’t already used, maybe you need to tighten the writing so it’s less repetitive.

3. Use figurative language and wordplay.

If you keep using the same words over and over, you’re in the company of the great writer J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, who said she became frustrated trying to find new ways of saying “corridor” or “hall” when describing the movement of characters. When it seems there’s no way to avoid overusing a word that’s key to your story, work, and message, consider using figurative language and wordplay.

Weak: I created my 40-day program for people who think they’re not creative to help them develop their creativity.

We get it! But using variations on “to create” over and over will bore your reader.

Strong: I developed my 40-day program for people who think they’re not “the creative type” to help them discover their inner playground child, the self that sees the world as a playground filled with possibilities for doing something different and innovative.

Here, the writer actually is using figurative language to energize her writing and help brand herself at the same time. As a developmental editor or ghostwriter who also does book publishing consultations, I would say, “Terrific! Now Google ‘inner playground child’ to see if anyone else is using it, and consider buying the dot com URL (www.PlaygroundChild.com) to reserve it—and setting up an Inner Playground Child professional page on Facebook to help secure your brand and a clever turn-of-phrase to go with it.” Branding is key for setting your book and your work apart from others’ in the marketplace, so I would help steer you toward words, phrases, and clauses that would be unique to you.

 

Need help with writing, strategizing, branding, and envisioning your nonfiction mind/body/spirit book? Contact me today and let me know where you are with your plan for your book and what kind of help you need. (Perhaps a Vision Plan is your next step?)

 

 

energize your writing book power

 

 

If you have no author platform whatsoever but want to write a book, you face two big challenges. The first is that you will have no feedback from actual fans of your work and ideas as you start to create a book to serve their needs. A book is as much about your audience as you. Get to know who they are by beginning to build an author platform from scratch. And your second challenge? Gathering email addresses of people who are interested in what you have to say and who are likely to buy your book, and even likely to promote it to others online using social media, email, and other means, without you having to pay them. Yes, your fans can help you sell your book. So meet challenge number one and challenge number two and start building an author platform and following now.

 

Many authors begin to set up their public presence with a website and a social media page based on their name. If your name is a common one, this might require some creativity. You have to search the Internet and Amazon.com or BN.com to see if another author or expert has a similar name. You might brand yourself as Dr. Myfirstname (if you actually hold a doctorate), use a middle initial, or use your full name with Author after it—such as www.SallySmithAuthor.com Reserve the URL (website address) and basic hosting services, and work with a website design software you find easy to use or a website designer.

 

Designing Your Site

What design platform should you use for your site? Many designers seem to like WordPress because you can customize it easily, but I find it cumbersome as someone who doesn’t want to build a career in website design. Weebly and Squarespace are other options. Personally, I like Wix, which is very user friendly, but some say it has some issues that affect search engine optimization—that is, how easy it is to find your site using a search engine such as Google. Whatever design platform you use, you will want to set up a website with a homepage, an About page, a blog, and probably at least one more page (Services if you do coaching or speaking engagements, Books for the books you’ll be writing).

Let’s say you go with Sharon McCorcoran dot com and you aren’t yet sure what your book’s title will be. You can always buy the domain name for your book title and have it redirect to your website. In fact, your hosting service might throw in a second URL for free and redirect it to your main site for you. Since you don’t have a firm book title yet, on your Books page you can note that your book is forthcoming and that anyone signing up for email announcements will be informed of its publication (more on email subscribers in a minute). You can do a mock-up jacket if you like, try out a title, or simply say you will be writing a book on your work. Or you can skip the book page for now. If you provide services or do speaking engagements, put some information about all of that on your Services or Speaking page. Many templates allow you to add some endorsements from people who have something positive to say about your coaching, consulting, or workshops, and this social proof can be extremely helpful for building credibility and gaining new clients. If you have no book or service page, then your website is simply an enhanced blog which is okay if you’re just beginning to build your author platform.

Your Website Pages

Next, on your About page, put up a good headshot photograph of yourself, and maybe some other photos that help people understand more about your work, along with the story of who you are and why you do the work you do. On your Blog, write up at least two blog pieces that show how you write and what you want to write about. Make them 600 to 1000 words and give them interesting titles that nevertheless give readers a clear idea of what’s in your blog piece. Use tags and categories: Tags are like keywords and categories are bigger concepts. For instance, on my site, you will find more than one article on Author Platform, so clicking on that category can help the visitor find lots of valuable information on this topic. A blog is very important because if you want to convey to people who you are and what your work and writing is about, visitors will check your biography on your About page, but then they will want to see what valuable information you have to offer them. Your blog could be inspirational, funny, insightful, informative, or all of those things. But if you want to sell a book to people who do not know you, you must convey what you’re all about with a website that has some basic pages and a blog. Be sure your blog allows for comments, and respond to people who post messages and comments to you. By talking to you, they are giving you valuable feedback on your work that can help you conceptualize and shape your book. Set up your blog so you can monitor your comments before they post. You’ll want to disapprove/trash any that are clearly just created by digital programs designed to embed backlinks to a junk site selling fake Gucci watches and the like.

 

build an author platform online website blog

Start to build your author platform online with a website.

 

Your Website’s Look

What should your website look like? Find websites for authors in your genre that appeal to you. How are they set up? How do they use the real estate? When you scroll down to view them on your phone (the most common way to look at websites), what’s that experience like? Is there a sense of movement, through how the background pictures and the text interact as you scroll, or through videos in the background? Do you see a book jacket and if so, is it flat or angled? Where do you find a short summary of what their work is all about? Look at websites on a desktop or tablet, too. How is the experience different? What’s the first message you get? What impression does the site make? Now, using your website design software, work with both types of layouts—desktop and vertically held mobile phone—to make the website showcase what you most want to say. Where does your message and brand meet your visitor’s needs? If I go to Sue’s website, do I immediately see her in casual, natural color clothing hugging a dog, some nature images (such as clouds or water), and the message “Natural Healing for Fur Babies”? Really take your time with this process and ask visually gifted friends to help you, and verbally gifted friends, too. (I would tend to see problems with wording, and typos, because I’m more verbal than visual. My visually gifted friends would more quickly notice that the background color doesn’t work very well with the colors of the images.)

 

Social Media Links

Next, you’re going to want to put on your website icons (symbols) for any social media accounts you have that tie in to your work. These would not necessarily be the accounts you use to share photos of your kids with Grandpa or your in-laws, but social media accounts where you know you’ll want to focus on getting strangers to appreciate your work and message. I like Facebook and YouTube for building community, and Facebook is very easy to set up right away if you want to just post photos and words and some rough videos made on your phone. You can start building a following with the ideas in my eBook 25 Powerful Ways to Get Engagement on Facebook. Social media followers who give you feedback can help you conceptualize and shape your work just like your blog followers can, so treat them like gold and always respond to them. Also, consider adding social media icons to your blog make it super easy for visitors to share your blog pieces on social media.

 

Email Subscription Box for a Newsletter and Announcements

Finally, you will want to set up an email subscription option so you can begin capturing emails of your followers. You’ll want to do a newsletter to them that will help them know about new content from you, such as blog pieces, and learn about your services, your book (when it becomes available), any other books or services or online courses you recommend, and more. Newsletters should be a mix of quality content and advertising for what you are selling or giving away (such as a free teleseminar or free eBook or audio). It is easy to set up an email subscription option with services like Constant Contact or Mailchimp. I know Wix makes it very easy and can answer all your questions for free. Typically, you can get up to 2,000 subscribers you can send newsletters to more than once a month, without paying for each newsletter blast. Be sure that when you connect your website to an email service, you set up an autoresponder email that says, “Thank you for subscribing.” I personally like having an email subscriber box on the right-hand side on a desktop view because it catches the eye. Also, I generally favor red boxes, which research shows can be much more effective at getting people to click on them. And if you use a pop up box, you should set it up to only show after people have been on your site for several minutes, or are about to leave your site. Otherwise, they’ll just close it right away so they can read what they want to read, and leave, having forgotten all about that pop up.

Want to know more about building your audience and conceptualizing and writing your book? I have many useful articles on my website and blog at www.NancyPeske.com. Or, just book a 30-min. call with me and I’ll give you custom advice (write me at info@nancypeske.com)

Questions? Comments? Talk to me!

Next Page »