Our first Change with Confidence newsletter launched this week after six weeks of development.
This initiative is part art project and part science experiment. The selection of the articles that Mel, Tim and I made is the art; our commentary explaining why we selected them is the science.
The most interesting part of creating the first issue was its design. Kro, my website developer, designed the template from rough drawings made in Powerpoint. He also added layout and design elements. Mel, Tim and I made revisions the same way we do on our consulting assignments – quickly, building on each other’s thoughts.
We selected MailChimp as the vehicle to create, send and track our newsletter. It was Kro’s program of choice. Also, I remember Michael Hyatt, an excellent business blogger, recommending it. MailChimp’s website boasts 6,000 new users a day and we decided to become one of them.
MailChimp is powerful, flexible and easy to use, at least when you use it correctly. I had neglected to fill in the first and last name fields in the distribution database which resulted in blank salutations during our test run. It was an easy fix that required two hours of typing. It didn’t feel easy at the time.
I really appreciate the feedback we received. Most of the notes were sent the day of distribution. There were many thanks, good ideas for future issues and offers to forward it to friends and colleagues. Some people even noted the articles they read.
Like all ongoing, repeatable projects, I am intrigued by how it will evolve. Will we make any immediate design changes, what articles will we select next time, will the tones of our commentary change? I know that each issue will be shaped by our interests, experiences and learnings, like all art and science.
My sister-in-law, Ellen, sent me a text saying that Change with Confidence had been purchased by the Toronto Public Library system. Seven hard copies and one e-copy were catalogued in their on-line database, and the e-copy had already been reserved!
This is big news to me. A library bought my book. More people will now be reading it. I wrote a library book. Like other milestones, I thought, “This is a real book.”
I am nostalgic about libraries. I remember as a boy signing-out books for school projects. As an adult, I searching through research manuals for publishers to pitch. I had a purpose and the library enabled me to accomplish it.
|Toronto Reference Library
Home of Change with Confidence
Who will be using my book and how it will be used? Will people take notes, reference quotes, write in the margins or maybe even rip out pages instead of copying them (the horror)? Will someone owe fines for keeping my book past its due date?
Mostly, I think about my book reaching a new audience. People with their own purposes using my book for free. Lady Bird Johnson said, “Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library. The only entrance requirement is interest.”
Like most great opportunities, I am thinking about how to scale it. If one library system is interested in Change with Confidence, how do I engage others who may feel similarly. I have to believe there is lots of interest.
When I started writing my book, I had a clear picture of who would read it. They helped guide my content and formatting decisions, and knowing they are time-starved business people, anything that didn’t provide quick access to practical advice was deleted. At least 30 percent of my first draft was edited out because it was not adding value. As I wrote my publisher’s proposal, I realized there are other audiences that could gain from my book and that I would need to market to them when it becomes available. Here are my three audiences:
Leaders of Change
Leaders and their teams working on big change projects, including executive sponsors (who fund and have overall accountability for projects), project managers (who run the day-to-day operations), and team members (who have project-specific roles).
I had the pleasure of co-presenting at the DRIVING CHANGE: What does it really take to succeed? event hosted by the Strategic Leadership Forum. It was exhilarating being in front of an audience again. Presenting has been a large part of my career and it felt like home standing in front of a great group of professionals. I also appreciate working with amazing co-presenters and organizers during the months leading up to the session. Being part of an engaged team is a privilege, which I miss. A party of one is not always a party.
Here are the “things to remember” I jotted down after the session:
|On the air!|
– Think like the audience
– It’s about the stories
– Less is more
– Pictures are worth a 1,000 words
– Props are good when used sparingly
– Different perspectives work really well together
– Preparation is key
– There’s so much to learn from everyone
|Phil, Sheila Legon, Len Nanjad, and Gail Severini|
A highlight happened just before my presentation. Someone I had worked with many years ago had sent an email about me to the leader of the event, Gail, which she read out as my introduction, just like at a wedding. I was blown away by the kindness of the note especially since she had sent it from the US and would have attended with more notice. I am feeling gratitude for my friend from long ago and everyone who made this event a success. Thank you.
P.T. Barnum said, “A terrible thing happens when you don’t promote yourself…nothing.” I’m sure this is true for authors so I jumped into writing my Promotion Plan with vigour. The goal is to state what I will do to sell my book (with vigour). There are many articles about how the author (not publisher) must drive awareness and sales. If not, then something terrible happens.
Passion, confidence, and commitment are three themes I have woven into my promotion plan. It has six elements:
Book Distribution to Audience Influencer: Sending copies to members of my three target audiences: leaders working on big changes (my primary target), post-secondary teachers and students, and Kraft and Cadbury employees and supporters.
Social Media Notifications:Communication about my book to my networks and business associations.
Magazines and Blogs: Reviews, interviews, and serializing content in magazines and blogs.
Keynote Speaking Engagements: Presentations at conferences, association meetings, and schools.
Book Web Site: A dedicated site including this blog, author Q&A, chapter summaries and support materials.
Award Submissions: Participation in media and association award programs.
Please let me know if I missed any promotion opportunities. I would appreciate your thoughts.
I just bought Michale Hyatt’s Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World to fortify my plan. He is offering $350 of bonus resources if you buy a copy by the end of today. Now that’s a promotion!
I have enjoyed switching gears to the book proposal writing phase. It’s familiar territory (how many proposals have we written in our careers?) and doing research again is fun. I even went to a public library and signed out two books on winning proposals!
Writing a proposal is like making a cake: each ingredient must be added in the right amount and in the right order for it to create something special. Experimentation is risky.
Most advice contains the same sections and a lot of the same tips:
- Overview – What is your premise and how does it satisfy a need?
- Markets – Who will buy your book?
- Competition – What books are similar to yours and why is yours different?
- Author – Why are you the best author for this book?
- Promotion – What can you do to help sell your book?
- Table of Contents
- Sample Chapters
One hundred and one reasons for becoming my publisher is a stretch, especially since my goal is to convince one that my book will sell enough copies to make a profit. All other reasons are icing on the cake.
|“Just the facts ma’am.”|
Initially, I omitted the organizations’ names, which made the stories impersonal, nebulous, and appear censored. It took months and expert feedback to realize that context is critical to learning, especially when presenting how organizations have managed change.
Also, I struggled with how the reader might view these stories, seeing them as overall critiques of the companies instead of the actions that were taken at a point in time. I decided to make this distinction in my introduction.
Another challenge was finding the “sweet spot” between too much and not enough detail. Too much information bogs down the story and obscures its purpose, and too little makes the story unclear and dull.
|A Writer’s Nightmare|
Expert editing has been invaluable to finding the right balance. Questions such as, “Does it really matter that the company has 5,327 employees?” and “So, who won the court case?” have helped me shape the final versions. I expect to revisit my decisions until the ink on my first edition is dry: Is it too much, too little or just right?