All Posts by Erin K Casey

A Journey through Writing Competitions

Are you looking for a way to jump-start your written words? Earning recognition in a writing contest is one way to create buzz for your book or credibility for your brand. A winning entry will give you a sense of accomplishment and a needed boost of motivation for the next project on your list. It may even open some marketing doors for you.

The Contest Landscape

Contests come in all shapes and sizes—some without entry fees, some aimed at book promotion, others designed to attract content for the sponsor. Some competitions even provide feedback to entrants or prize money for winners. Niche contests may specialize in e-books, short stories, poetry, novels, or literary fiction. Whatever material you offer, a contest awaits your submission.

More than cost alone, your goals should help determine the right program to enter. A contest with a category that matches your content will increase your chances of winning. You can assess various contests by comparing their websites. If you’re a self-published author seeking national exposure, this article from Publishers Weekly includes a list of leads to get you started.

Writing competitions will cost you time and money. Therefore, consider whether your marketing budget has better opportunities elsewhere before entering. After all, your work may not win. Even if your flawless piece will impress most readers, a contest judge may not like it. As writers, we know that our content will not appeal to everyone, regardless of its quality.

Our Story of Traversing the Landscape

Shortly after publication in 2016, my wife, Debbie, and I entered our book Wheels of Wisdom in a few contests. We’ve cycled thousands of miles throughout America and lived to tell about it. The book is very personal to us because it carries a unique message of hope and encouragement based on God’s work in our lives. It had come through the publication process with what felt like divine favor.

Contributors, endorsers, and early reviewers had encouraged us greatly. Among those contributors was Erin Casey of My Writers Connection, whose direction early on helped focus the content and improve the writing substantially. We came to believe strongly in our project and wondered if it might have broad appeal. Consequently, we were willing to invest in a couple of contests to see if it would place. When the National Indie Excellence Awards selected it as the winner in their Inspiration category, we decided to enter it into more contests—after we got over the shock, that is.

Each time the book placed in a contest, we had another opportunity to renew promotion for it. In effect, the accolades extended the launch time frame. We had news to share with media. I prepared a news release at selected intervals to create buzz for the book. Some media outlets responded favorably and chose to run an article or an interview.

In our case, the awards have been a stimulus, creating promotional opportunities, strengthening our brand, and encouraging us to push forward with more projects. Despite the honors, however, book sales to date have been hard to come by. Nevertheless, we’ve received intangible benefits from these awards that have justified the investment.

Taking the Trip Yourself

If your entry wins a contest, don’t expect a spike in sales or agents to come pounding at your door. While the recognition can enhance discoverability, an increase in sales may or may not follow. Before proceeding, I’d encourage you to read The Truth about Book Awards to manage your expectations.

Successful placement in writing competitions can invigorate your writing career and persuade you that your creativity has value. Unless you’ve already landed in the small pool of authors who have achieved success and notoriety through sheer skill, hard work, and persistence, you’ll find the recognition from an award to be of infinite value as you tell the world your story. God has appointed certain readers for it. You are responsible not only to write the story with excellence but also to help connect it to the select few. Writing competitions are one more tool to help you find them.

 


At age 52, Tim Bishop left a successful career as a corporate treasurer, married his dream girl, and embarked with her to parts unknown—on bicycles. Tim and Debbie have since coauthored four books about their midlife bicycling adventures. Their latest, Wheels of Wisdom, has won eight book awards, including four 1st-place finishes. Publishers Weekly dubbed the book “a roadmap for life.” The Bishops bring a strong Christian foundation to their inspirational, self-help books.

In addition to his writing and publishing endeavors, Tim volunteers as a “HopeCoach” on TheHopeLine, a help service for young people who are struggling with life issues. Tim is a three-time Maine chess champion, a CPA, and a consultant for small businesses. In 2014, he penned and published a business book, Hedging Commodity Price Risk. He is still out to prove that the writing contest he won as a college freshman was not a fluke. The Bishops blog at OpenRoadPress.com.

Indie-Publish Like a Pro — Podcast with the Wealthy Speaker Jane Atkinson

The saying used to be that “those who can’t get published, self-publish.”  With business leaders, like Seth Godin, and fiction titles, like The Shack, proving that self-publishing (aka indie-publishing) can be done well and profitably, that old saying no longer proves true. So what have you got to lose? 

With print-on-demand, anyone can publish a book these days. The trick is doing it in a way that boosts your credibility. On this episode of The Wealthy Speaker Show, speaking coach and podcast host Jane Atkinson and I talk about indie-publishing and using your book as a tool to market yourself and earn more as a speaker.

  • The advantages of indie-publishing.  3:05
  • People do judge a book by its cover.  7:10
  • The most important piece of the puzzle.  9:55
  • Write about what you know and love.  15:50
  • People judge you by your book, so make it great!  20:20
  • Secrets & writing hacks.  26:10
  • Murdering your darling.  33:40
  • When to hire a ghost writer.  36:50

Listen in! And if you have a question about indie-publishing, leave a comment below.

Are you ready to write your book? Get started today with these 7 Simple, Proven Steps.

How to Write & Publish Your First Book

Do you have a book in you? Popular polls indicate that 81% of people say they want to write a book … someday. If you are one of those people, you are clearly in good company! And if you’re a speaker, coach, expert, or leader, a book is a powerful way to build your brand and share your message. But how do you get started? And what do you do when the first draft is complete?

In this podcast interview on The Simply Marketing Show, host and marketing expert Alison Teare  and I discuss some of the most common questions new authors have about writing and publishing.

  • Do you need a publisher?
  • How do you make a start?
  • How do you make money from your book?
  • Is Amazon the best place to publish?
  • Where to write?
  • How much to write?
  • Ways to write when you’re not a natural writer?
  • The difference between traditional publishing and self (indie) publishing

Listen in and add your own question in the comments below.

Are you ready to write your book? Get started today with these 7 Simple, Proven Steps.

 

How to Tell a Great Story

Stories help bring meaning to your message. In this interview with Rory Vaden, we talke about the power of story telling–and how to do it well. We discuss the critical elements that make up a great story and the most common mistakes people make.

Interview Highlights:

• People want authenticity and connection. Stories create that connection. –@ErinKCasey

• If you’re writing, you need to have a hook–something that draws people in. –@ErinKCasey

• To be effective, you have to be relevant. –@ErinKCasey

• Tell an “I” focused story with a “you” focused message. –@Rory_Vaden

 

The Rory Vaden Show

How Much Should I Pay for a Ghostwriter?

A motivational speaker / business coach recently sent me a great question about ghostwriting. Because there are so many variables (and more than a few scams out there), I wanted to share the question and my response with you, too.

Question

What are upsides & downsides to getting book done with a ghostwriter? [I’m] Getting bids from ghostwriters offering to write 20,000- to 30,000-word books using my speaking and coaching recordings at a cost of $250-$400.

Answer

Ghostwriting is an excellent option for people who simply don’t have time to write or who have a story to tell but don’t have the skill or language background to do it well. That’s the upside.

The downside is that it isn’t inexpensive.

A fee of $250-400 is exceptionally low—barely covering the cost of transcription—even for a short book. That might equate to around $8-15/hour if the writer could knock out 2,000 words an hour. As a professional, would you work for that rate?  Continue reading

Want to publish a book? Do this first.

When most people think about publishing a book, they think about getting an agent, or submitting a proposal, or figuring out self-publishing (or what’s also known as indie-publishing). But before you get there, in fact to HELP you get there, you have to get great at sharing your message.

It may sound silly, or too simple, but to succeed with publishing you have to actually share your message. And that can be scary!

I remember the first paying article I ever turned in to an editor. It was actually on paper, and as I handed it over to the editor, my hands were shaking so badly that the paper rattled. The article wasn’t personal; it was an assigned piece. I don’t remember the topic, but I do remember the feeling of being vulnerable and putting my words and myself out there for someone else to edit, critique and comment on. Continue reading

Finding Your Blogging Voice

Aaron Hogan holding his first copy of Shattering the Perfect Teacher Myth. An awesome moment for any author!

Blogging is one of those things that most authors, coaches and speakers know we “should” be doing. It helps us test our ideas. It allows us to gauge audience interest. It provides an opportunity to reflect on our experiences and explore new concepts. And it’s a practice that I have yet to master. That’s why I love to hear from people who are doing it well. Aaron Hogan included some great insights on the why and how of blogging in his new book, Shattering the Perfect Teacher Mythand he graciously offered to share some of his thoughts on blogging here. He speaks from an educator’s viewpoint, but I believe his message is applicable to any field. If you’ve been thinking about blogging or about blogging more consistently, Aaron’s advice will help you find your voice, figure out what to write about, and fit it into your busy schedule.

Finding Your Blogging Voice

Everyone has experiences that are worth sharing. That includes you. (Yes, even with the excuses that just ran through your head.)

But it’s not enough to simply have some experiences that are worth sharing. Thomas Paine said, “I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection.” Make no mistake–blogging, or any other form of sharing your learning, is an act of bravery. I love that Paine isn’t saying that it’s brave because there’s a big audience waiting or because of what others might think. I think his claim recognizes how hard it is to thoughtfully reflect on our own experiences. What he’s talking about is disruptive. 

Make no mistake--blogging, or any other form of sharing your learning, is an act of bravery. ~ @Aaron_Hogan Click To Tweet

It’s courageous. It’s risky, yet rewarding. Yet it’s surprisingly simple for you to pull off as a blogger.

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Get Scrappy with Your Book Promotion

I loved watching my friend Terri Sjodin on Today this morning promoting Scrappy: A Little Book About Choosing to Play Big. As I watched, I noticed a few things she did extremely well. Here are a four quick nuggets from her interview that may help you promote your book:

  1. She never says “buy my book!” (There’s no better way to turn off listeners and ensure you won’t be invited back.)
  2. Instead, she appeals to the audience’s need to connect with interviewers by offering valuable advice. When you do an interview about your book, the interviewer and audience don’t really want to know about you or your book. They want to know how you and your book can help them. They’re asking WIIFM (what’s in it for me). That’s what the conversation needs to be about.
  3. She drops the name of her book into the conversation naturally–smart and Scrappy!
  4. Her book came out in August 2016 and she’s still promoting it! SUPER Smart. The message: Keep sharing your message–and then share it again and again!

 

Too Much Is Not Enough

If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, chances are you like change. You like to shake things up. You don’t like to do the same thing over and over and over again. You like variety! And you hate feeling stuck.

Those are all excellent traits, but they come with a downside. How do I know? Because I have experienced both the upside and the downside of moving on.

Moving forward in your business can take you to great places. But moving on too quickly may mean that you never really get your message into the hearts and minds of the people you serve. And when it comes to marketing your book, moving on too quickly may mean that you are unintentionally sabotaging your book’s success.

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