Category Archives for Marketing

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

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.

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!


Two Secrets to Successfully Marketing Your Book

Recently, I attended a workshop on LinkedIn about how to use the network effectively. Prior to starting the training the presenter mentioned that in addition to helping clients with marketing, he had also written a children’s book. As someone who has written six (soon to be seven) children’s picture books, I was interested. After thumbing through his book, I asked if he knew about a trendy bookstore down the street that had a children’s section and often had events for emerging authors. He answered that he knew it but that when he approached the owners they weren’t interested in his book because it was self-published. I didn’t tell him that the same bookstore carries my books. They are self-published as well. Want to know my secret? Continue reading

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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Don’t Wait Until the Book is Finished to Plan Your Launch

When I wrote my first book, Do No Work, I knew nothing about marketing. I thought announcing the book on my blog and emailing some friends and family on my list was enough for it to sell.

After I did those things, I expected to relax—champagne glass in one hand, cigar in the other—and watch the sales roll in. Every time I clicked refresh on my sales page the numbers would increase exponentially in some sort of impossible yet glorious parabolic curve. Continue reading

How to Choose a Title for Your Book

Books are judged by their covers. Authors know that. It’s why self-published authors spend weeks or even months—getting their covers just right. A traditionally published author doesn’t always have the freedom to choose and nitpick every detail of his or her cover, but the publishing house’s design and marketing teams likely spend even more time creating a cover that will sell. Colors, images, and font choices are all important, but a great cover begins with a great title. In fact, your book’s title may be even more important than the design you choose for your cover.
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I’ll Put It on the Internet

It’s a phrase I hear almost daily from someone who has an idea for a business: “I’ll put it on the Internet.” I am flabbergasted by the number of seemingly reasonable, intelligent people who think that all they have to do is put their product or service “on the Internet” and then just wait for the money to roll in.

The opportunity of the Internet is that everyone buying anything goes there, whether it’s in the consumer arena or business to business. The great and almost incomprehensible challenge of the Internet is that everyone is also on there trying to sell something. It is the most crowded market in the universe.

The easy part is getting on the Internet. The hard part is having anyone know that you’re there. Everyone’s gaming the same search machines and using the same key words. It’s easy to be invisible in such a crowded space. Continue reading

How to Give a Great Interview

You want the world—or at least your niche—to know about your book, but how do you get the message out? Interviews, particularly radio shows and podcasts, can be an extremely effective medium for spreading the word.

I get that. I know that interviews are important, but they also make me a little nervous. As a writer, I’m generally on the other side of the conversation—the side asking the questions. I want to get better at being interviewed, and I know I’m not alone in that desire. That’s why I asked Tim Knox, host of Interviewing Authors, to share his advice on how to give a great interview. Continue reading

What It Takes to Complete a Book

Sounds so glamorous.  I remember the first time I turned down an invitation to lunch with the words “Oh, I can’t… I’m writing today.”

“Really?” my friend Laurie replied, “what an awesome way to spend the day! I can’t wait to read your book!”

Nodding and smiling, I left her fantasy intact. I knew in my heart a “writing day” wasn’t just creativity flowing but sometimes meant hours of starting at the cursor blinking and trying to string some words together in a semblance of creativity, thought and inspiration. The myriad of other tasks on my to-do list wrestled with my discipline to actually write. It’s a sad state of affairs when cleaning the bathroom looks more enticing than squeezing out another paragraph from a very dry well. Continue reading

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