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Welcome to Toolbox Saturday where you’ll find tools for various things from writing to whatever.

I’ve blogged about using a training budget before, but sometimes you may find your budget is hovering around $0. What do you do then? Spend time trolling through other author’s blogs, especially those who offer eBooks (and other types of media) covering topics you’re interested in, and prowling over social media networks. There are three things to be gained from this.

Read the rest of 3 Ways to Get Free (Or Almost Free) Training.

This blog, The Road to Writing, will be discontinued Dec. 31, 2011. If you would like to continue receiving great tips and inspirational posts please remember to subscribe to my new blog by RSS or email for LOL Mondays, Spirit Wednesdays and Toolbox Saturdays.

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If you’re a highly sensitive person like me, then you’ll understand how stressful marketing yourself, your product or your business can be. If you aren’t an HSP, then today’s marketing landscape with its hurry, scurry push in social media probably doesn’t bother you. You may, in fact, thrive on the pressure, the excitement. The downside to that is that mistakes can be made at a faster rate and be more challenging to correct.

It’s also true that HSPs will suffer more stress and anxiety if we jump into all of the things we’re told we should be doing before we take the time to fully plan where we want to end up or if we don’t pace ourselves the way we need to — at a slower rate than the rest of the world. Regardless of whether you’re thinking about blogging or using Twitter or Facebook or any other social media, as an HSP it is imperative to think it through and take your time.

I’m currently working my way through Kristen Lamb’s WE ARE NOT ALONE: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media, which I highly recommend, but I have to continuously remind myself that I am not in a race. As Kristen has pointed out in previous blog posts, writing is more of a marathon than a sprint. Building an author platform goes right along with that. I may not be able to fit in 15 minutes each for Facebook, Twitter and MySpace (or whatever other social media outlet I’ve chosen) everyday, but I can certainly spend that much time on one per day, blog at least once per week and still have time left to work on my “masterpiece”.

Jumping into anything before you’re truly ready, or even mostly ready, gives a higher possibility of failure. It also means a greater possibility of losing your passion to write altogether. Still, it’s very difficult to reign in our enthusiasm, especially if we’re newer to the process. As Jody Hedlund says in her post The Pressure To Jump In Too Soon, “It’s hard enough to have patience. Therefore, when we get involved in the cyber writing world, eventually, we might begin to feel left behind or the pressure to keep up with what others are doing—even if we’re right where we need to be.”

Jody suggests 5 things newer writers can do to keep those feelings of pressure to a minimum, which I think really speak to HSPs:

  1. Concentrate on your writing because that is what will sell.

  2. You can put aside the book you’ve written without editing it. Consider it a project to revisit later when you’ve had more experience.

  3. If your story isn’t working or you’ve lost the passion for a project, it’s okay to put it away unfinished.

  4. Take the time to try out other genres. You may find your best writing isn’t in the genre you thought it was.

  5. Most importantly, spend less time thinking about what everyone else is doing and more time being you. As an HSP you know you’re unique. Capitalize on it.

It’s not the popular choice to take the slow lane when trying to forge ahead in a writing career, but for highly sensitive people it can be the best way. What other ways have you discovered to keep your career moving ahead while maintaining the balance you need as an HSP?

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As those of you who have been following along will know, I’ve been working with the BookBuzzr people to test out whether their service was a better choice for me as an Independent Author versus Scribd. After looking over their services and comparing stats from both, I’ve come to one conclusion… neither one is perfect for my needs when used alone. It’s not that either one is just a bad service, it’s that each one has different things I really like and things I wish were better.

Just looking at the stats, I’ve had 112 reads on Scribd since uploading my excerpt on April 13, 2010, and 203 full screen views (800 widget views) on BookBuzzr since May 4, 2010. If I looked only at the stats, then BookBuzzr would be the clear winner, but there is more to marketing than that. I need detailed information for one. I can get those details easily on Scribd, but BookBuzzr only gives totals (and yes I read each entry in the FAQ looking for info on getting more detailed stats with BookBuzzr).

I also liked that Scribd was so easy to upload my document to. With BookBuzzr I had to fill out three pages of forms, upload a .pdf version of my book excerpt and then a .jpg of my cover. I then received an error message that said something about my file either being too big or in the wrong format so it wouldn’t be converted. A day or so later I received an email that said my book had been converted into the BookBuzzr format. Huh? When I checked it out my book was there, just as the email said, so why the initial error message?

In marketing techniques, however, BookBuzzr was the clear winner since Scribd doesn’t have any marketing options included. With Scribd you have to do all of it on your own. BookBuzzr has numerous ways available to market your book from mini-widgets you can use just about anywhere…

www.bookbuzzr.com

…to automated tweets when your book excerpt is read. It all makes marketing your book just a little bit less stressful, which is all to the good for every busy writer since our main occupation is to write, not sell.

The main issue I’ve had with BookBuzzr is in it’s claims that their widgets can be easily shared in a variety of places. As ongoing readers can attest, I’ve had my share of difficulties getting their mini-widget to “stick” to a blog post intact. I have to thank the tech people at BookBuzzr for staying with me as we worked to solve that particular problem.

In that process I also found out that the larger widget cannot be shared on just any wordpress blog. You must have a wordpress.org blog for it to work. Sorry, but if you’re using wordpress.com BookBuzzr can’t be shared to your blog and you can’t put it in your sidebar as they say you can in their FAQ. I hope they will change that entry soon to let people know that little fact before the next person to try the share option is as disappointed as I was.

On the other hand, the widget works beautifully on my Facebook profile. It even has its own little spot on the sidebar that encourages visitors to “grab it.”

As for their claims to have an email signature authors can use, as best as I can tell it only works with Yahoo!Mail, at least easily. For any other email client you have to do a bit of work to put the widget in your signature. For instance, if you use Gmail, like I do, then you must:

1. Open the BookBuzzr.com / fReado.com website in Firefox
2. Login to your account which leads to ‘My Books’ profile.
3 Open Gmail in another tab of Firefox and click on Compose Mail
4. Click on the flipping book image (i.e. left click with your index finger)
5. Keep your index finger pressed on to the browser and move the mouse-cursor to the new tab. You will see that the image outline moves along with your cursor. When you get to the new tab, release your index finger from the mouse.

Please note that since Gmail does not allow for creating a default BookBuzzr signature you need to repeat the above steps for every email composed.

That seems like a lot of work to me. The other drawback is that you have to use a particular browser. Since I only use Google Chrome, that’s not going to work. I hope, again, that BookBuzzr will fix that problem in the near future.

Lastly, my attempt at sharing via the main widget to Twitter sort of garbled my book title: Fear-Not:-Discovering-God\’s-Promises-for-Our-Live. It should read Fear Not: Discovering God’s Promises for Our Lives. It’s a minor thing, but one this perfectionist didn’t like. The auto tweets, though, have all looked just fine: My book ‘Fear Not: Discovering God’s Promises f…’ was viewed in the last 24 hours on #BookBuzzr by 7 Readers.

I like the ease of uploading and the ability to get detailed stats from Scribd, but doing all the marketing on my own takes up time I need to work on other projects. I like the marketing gadgets available with BookBuzzr, though I can’t use them all due to technical issues. In the end, until BookBuzzr makes everything easy to use across a lot more platforms, I’ll be using both to grab the attention of wayward travelers on The Road to Writing.

Update


For Further Reading:

3 Ways To Boost Potential Book Sales Using Samples

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It’s probably every writer’s dream, secretly or otherwise, to make a living as a freelancer. Unfortunately, the reality seldom meets the dream and most of us either suffer until we die or, more likely, until we get a “real job.” Enter the idea of self-publishing.

Many Independent Authors plunge into self-publishing as a way to make more money sooner, or so they believe until reality hits them like a freight train. “The average number of sales for a POD book is 500…total, and I often wonder if that is an exaggeration,” writes Jeremy Robinson in POD People. That is a very disheartening fact, one we each have to come to terms with in our own way. A great number of would-be authors give up at this point. Most begin to at least doubt the possibility of reaching their heart’s desire. But does that mean the dream has to die?

Absolutely not. If it’s truly your dream, then it is imperative to keep working toward it. That means marketing by using both old ways (basic word-of-mouth and PR) and new ways (using social media such as facebook and twitter). There are a lot of great resources out there to aid the Independent Author in his or her marketing strategies. (I’ve mentioned a few in earlier posts, just take a look at the posts in the marketing category.)

Marketing, however, is not the only thing the freelancer needs to be concerned about. You are your own boss, which means you are the one in charge of the finances. That does not mean debt and financial struggle is inevitable anymore than having a 9-to-5 job means financial security. It does mean doing extra planning. As Joseph D’Agnese and Denise Kiernan say in The Money Book for Freelancers, Part-Timers, and the Self-Employed: The Only Personal Finance System for People with Not-So-Regular Jobs “Having your financial house in order brings peace of mind. It also puts you in a better position to survive and thrive, no matter what the economic climate.”

I am no financial wiz, but as an up and coming Independent Author I’ve come to realize that money matters — a lot. Like others of you struggling to “make it” as a writer, I want to succeed, to see my dream become a reality. I refuse to buy into the myth, as Joseph and Denise call it, of the “struggling artist.” I don’t just believe in the possibility. I know it exists and I will be following the financial roadsigns of success on The Road to Writing.

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