Try Something New (The Business of Creativity) (To Write and Have Written)

It’s important to try new things! Don’t get in a rut with your marketing; experiment. It’s both useful and fun. Here’s what I’m trying (and it might not work!)

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To Write and Have Written: A Writer's Guide To The Business Side
To Write and Have Written: A Writer's Guide To The Business Side
Laura VanArendonk Baugh

<p>Writing is only part of a writing career -- no one warned us that we would need business acumen and entrepreneurship to be an author. Whether you're traditionally published or an independent self-publisher, it's good to have a leg up on accounting, marketing, time management, and other key skills.</p><br><p>These recordings of live discussion on craft and development, on business best practices, on explorations of fascinating and inspiring real life cool stuff, and more will help you along your writing journey and career development. Join Laura VanArendonk Baugh as she shares what she's learned and what she's learning. (Or join the weekly live discussion with your own questions!)</p><br /><hr><p style='color:grey; font-size:0.75em;'> See <a style='color:grey;' target='_blank' rel='noopener noreferrer' href=''></a> for privacy and opt-out information.</p>


Try Something New (the Business of Creativity) – powered by Happy Scribe

What if we try it with 100 percentmore sound, how does that work?

Oh, yay.Thank you.

Thank you,friendly chat minions to tell me that I

forgot to turn my micon while I was panicking.

So what you did not hearme explaining was that

I was all ready to go and I got an errormessage that my stream key was invalid,

which, you know, it’s the same streamkey and I haven’t changed anything.

And I’d been streaming my prep screen,so I don’t know what was going on.

I’ve angered some streamingminor deity somewhere.

And so this is, we’re fixed now.We’re good.

We’re ready to go, OK?

All righty, so how’s everybodydoing this week?

We’re in September, which is crazy.

I was telling a friend this week,I’m like, how can it be September?

Like, on the one hand,2020 has lasted for seven years.

And on the other hand,how can it be September?

Because I haven’t done anything this year.

So it’s this really odd dichotomy of feeling,

you know, just completely strung outand compressed at the same time.

So, OK, so this week we are going to dosomething new and that is literally it.

That’s literally the topic.

We are going to do something new.

So I just was asked about that a few

minutes ago and I was like,oh, we’re doing something new.

Oh, no, no, seriously,that’s that’s actually what we’re doing.

So we’re going to get on that.

I do want to share somenews to start as well.

So I have been calling this “the thing”for, since late July.

I think, whenever it was that I got startedhere and, you know, I didn’t want to call

it “the show’ because it sounded way toopretentious and it didn’t want to call it

the “Laura talks for a while” because,well, way to sell the product.

And I didn’t, you know, just, Ididn’t have anything I wanted to call it.

I was, what, this is like me and mymicrophone and blah, blah, blah.

But I realized that I was going to haveto name it if for no other reason then

after we’re done here, I take thisrecording and I put it on YouTube and

I need a way to tell peoplehow to find it on YouTube.

So where I know people have been listening

to the replays there and commentingand such, which is great.

Thank you guys for for being therewhen you’re hearing this later.

And then I’m also going to put itinto a podcast so that we can, because

seriously, nobody needsto see me while I’m talking.


So there has to be a title ifyou’re going to do these things.

So we have a title.

I hate titles, by the way, like

when we’re doing this,if anybody has any great creative input

on how to title things,that’s what I need you guys to do

for me, that is my weak point.

So anyway, we are — drumroll –To Write And Have Written.

A Writers Guideto the Business Side.

There we go.That sounds, I don’t know,

it sounds very pretentious and faintlywizard like and it’s what I got.

So that’s what we’re doing.

So I will be putting in.Oh, wait.

I actually, do I have.

Let me see, hold on.

We were going to oh, that’s notwhy I wanted to be sorry, hold on,

but this is what the.

There we go, look, look, a visual, hurray.

All right, if you’re on the podcast herelater, you will not be able to see that.

But it’s the same album art that youwill see in the podcast.

So so thank you guys fortolerating my fun little thing on that.

I’ve been working on that that title

for way too long because I’mnot great at titles, so.

Oh yeah.Thanks.

Chat people.I like it.

I like that you like it.Hurray.

Thank you.OK, so.

Yeah.So we’re doing this live.

I always love people to come and,and chat and ask questions and let’s make

this interactive because seriously nobodywants to listen to me talk for an hour.

Right.So please, please talk and make

interactive, make this interactiveand fun, but then it will be on YouTube.

It always takes a while to get up

on YouTube, usually about 48 hours, butthat then goes up with closed captions.

We’re not doing closed captions live

on Twitch because,I mean, that would be hilarious.

But I’ve found that the closed captioningservices don’t really like what I say

naturally, especially when I was doing mytalks about Japanese history and whatnot.

For some reason, Aizuwakamatsu is nota default in the dictionary, who knew?

so it gives me a chance to runthe the transcription and check it for

readability, sensible words.

And then that goes up on YouTubeand then it will also be on the podcast.

So that’s where we’re going with thatand brief update in the land of Laura just

because because it’s my showand you can’t stop me.

But yeah, I’ve been workingon Kin & Kind this week a lot.

I went back and oh my gosh, I haveactually quite a lot of words in this

manuscript and some of themare really good words.

And there are some partsthat are really good.

So.So there. Oh hi, Joe.

Welcome.So so that’s that’s what’s going on.

I am wearing, I will throwthis as a video.

I’m wearing my my personal

Shard of Elan swag.

This is one of my favoriteshirts.

It’s just a shirt that says

“Luca deserved better,” which isa extremely accurate line in the book.

So there you go.

So yes, I’m wearing my own swag today.

And the last couple of weeks you’ve beenhearing me talk about the story that was

due at the end of August that I was kindof panicky about because I was like,

oh, deadline, I’ve gota month to write this.

I need to get it up there.

Well, it turned out that story isnot due until the end of September.

So, yeah, I’ve gotgot a rough draft.

It’s not great, but it’s there.

But I’ve got a littlemore time to work on it.

So that was good.

And then

the end of last week,I got a little email saying, hey,

just a reminder, if you haven’t turned inthat ghost story that you agreed to write

eleven months ago and then forgot to writedown in the proper way so that you didn’t

realize that deadline was coming upand you completely haven’t even thought

of a plot for it, much less workedon a draft or anything like that.

Yeah, that’s due on the first.

Make sure you get it in.

And I kind of went, oh yeah.

So so that’s what I did this weekend.

And I wrote this fun littlehorror story in two days.

And I have I posted this on my on my pageonline, if you’ve seen it already,

where, you know,

for all that we talk about,you know, I’ve talked before about

there’s definitely a reasonto practice

cramming as many words into an hour as youcan, just working on output, you know,

turn off the inner editor,just crank as much as you can out there.

That’s not the way youneed to work all the time.

Absolutely not.

But there is an advantage to working on itperiodically for both craft

and development, which we’reactually going to talk about

in October,

I think that’s on the calendar for that,but it’s also very helpful for that situation

when you realize that you totally forgotthat you had a hard deadline

with absolutely no extensionsas per the editor’s email.

There we go.So it was like, hey,

let’s get this done.I’m actually pretty happy with that story.

It’s it’s got the surrealists in it

and post-modernism anda little bit of ghost action and.

Yeah, it’ll be fun.So.

So Natalie says that.Yeah.

“Good words.I love that.

‘Oh hey, this doesn’t even suck’feeling when reading my own work.”

Oh my gosh.

That is,you know, because we’re all used

to the to the you’re readingyour work and you’re like, hmm,

we had to have a first draft.This is it.

Hurray.OK, but then there’s those moments where

you read it and you’re like, oh wow,this isn’t awful, you know?

And then there’s also moments whenyou’re like, this is fantastic.

Who wrote this?And sometimes it appears on my computer

and I have no memory of writing it,but it’s in a file that only I have.

So it probably was me logically,

but I’m holding out possiblythe theory of the little

cobblers of the elves that make the shoes,

possibly writers have little elvesthat come in and put good scenes in their work.

I don’t know.So, OK, that’s enough of that.

Let’s oh, do we want to do a briefreminder recap, I guess, from last week.

Last week, we talked about

getting started with marketing and

just defining branding and starting to puttogether the pieces of an author platform

or let’s be more generala creator platform.

And so, again, it’s not a kit.

You’re not going to get itall done in the first day.

But you can you know,we’re starting to get those pieces in.

And one of them, one of the things I asked

you to do at the very endof that was to create a spreadsheet.

We’re going to track what we’recalling author snapshots.

I did not come up with that term,but I don’t know whom to credit.

I’m so sorry,

but it’s just the first of every month

we’re going to say, OK, this isthis is what our data is.

And then we can use that datato make good decisions.

And I was supposed to do that today,but my day did not go as planned.

I’m supposed to do a lot of things todaythat did not get done before this video.

So I will be doing those later tonight.

Yay midnight. So

I wanted to just ask, did anybodyout there in Chat Land do this?

And so one of the things that I actuallystill have mine open because I did just

a little bit of it while we weretrying to get organized here.

So I noticed I wanted to share my

email subscriber lists and

excuse me,

my my list is several thousand people.

But I just wanted to say overthe last few months, the the

it’s been fluctuating by upto about 100 and people.

So I just want to say, like in April,

it ended in 655and then May 643

637, 669,650, 587.

So it’s been going up and downover the course of the year.

And I’m not been, I’ve not been doing

a lot differently in marketingover the last six months.

But I just noticed that when I was

entering that, that’sfluctuating about 100 people.

And I just wanted to say again,that’s totally normal.

If we remember last last week when I saidI’m not worried about a change from one

snapshot to the next,I’m worried about trends.

That’s what I’m more concerned about.

So, again, don’t stress out.

You get on the scale in the morning,you’re up a pound.

Who freaking cares, it’s twenty four hours.

You can’t tell anything, right.

You don’t freak out about a pound anyway.

Just don’t, don’t do that to yourself.

But my point is like we’re interestedin trends. So.

OK, Grace is waiting for a new cover soshe can start data on a good baseline.


“So there’s no there’s noreally no data right now.”


And this is what I’m saying,like just start collecting the data.

You can process it later.

You know, Grace says “that sounds better

than I forgot,”but trust me, I’m so with you.

OK, I did.

I was supposed to do workon my ads this weekend.

So Monday I opened up my ad spreadsheet

and I was like, I am justgoing to log some data.

Look, I’m done.There we go.

And I’m not going to process it.

I’m not going to make any decisions.There we go.

Also, I accidentally let all my ads expire

so I don’t even have newdata to enter on some of them.

So that’s on me.

So I got to do some cleanupthere and we’ll get restarted.

So Natalie says she is still under a rock,

but did write it down as a thingto do later, which is fantastic.

Yeah, you know, and here’s the thing.

I just want to reiterate,

like I tell myself this all the time, soI’m just going to reiterate for you guys,

the data does not judge you.

It is just a number.

Nobody like, really, don’tgive it more power than it has.

You know, it’s just a number.

So if I look at my newsletter subscribersand I’m like, oh, my gosh, like this,

you know, this is this isless than my friend has.

You know, I have fewersubscribers than my friend has.

Who cares?

OK, like, again, first of all, a numberof subscribers is a vanity metric.

We talked about that the engagement rate

is far more important thanthe number of subscribers.

So if you have 30 percent of the people

opening your letters, and that personwith more subscribers only has five

percent of the peopleopening newsletters,

that’s a significant differenceand that’s much more important.

So, yeah, anyway, collect the data.

You can make decisions about it later.

So there’s your homework.

I’ll be doing my homeworklate tonight, so.

All right, let’s get back to.

So tonight we are goingto try something new.

And just to give you the full,

full view of where we’re goingtonight, it’s trying something new

in marketing and next week it’strying something new in craft.

So you’re going to see “trysomething new” both weeks.

But we’re still on different topicsbecause we are on our weekly topic change.


Oh, “rejoined Twitch there.

My spreadsheet is off to a good start.”Yay!

Thank you, Kate,and thank you for joining us.

Awesome.So yeah.

And then like you said,

you’re always going to adjustyour spreadsheet as you go.

So this this month I had to add a column

for Twitch subscribers because it’s thefirst time I’ve had Twitch subscribers.

So thank you guys.All right.


When we’re going to try something new,

so I’m going to talk about things that Iam attempting, things I have attempted,

things I probably shouldattempt to someday.

But here’s the thing.

Now that you’ve got that fantasticspreadsheet,

use it because you want to log it beforeand after so you can make an educated

decision on whetherwhat you tried was useful.

You want to be able to find outwhat your return on investment was.

And I’m going to say there’stwo ways to evaluate this.

One, is it making you money?

And, that is, where I’m going with that is

we’re going to skip the vanity metricsand go straight to, is it productive?


I’m not necessarily going to worry about “Ineed more Pinterest followers than,”

you know, whatever the set number is, thearbitrary number I’m going to make up,

because we know that social media isnot really going to turn into sales.

Social media is great for other

It’s great for other things,

other aspects of marketing,but it’s not really great for sales.

So I’m going to lookat what is the actual worth,

the actual monetary value of this

time and effort that I’mputting out in this new thing.

The other thing is, do I enjoy it?

Because if you hate it,you’re not going to keep it up.

So don’t do itbecause you won’t do it well.

So it’s not going to work or be worth your time.


sometimes you can do thingsbecause they’re fun.

I know, right?

But even in business, sometimes youcan do things because they’re fun.

You just have to make sure that you don’t

only do the fun things and not do anyof the productive things.

At that point, it is not business,it is a hobby.

And there’s nothing wrong with having

a hobby, so let me get that out there,but if you’re

if you’re working at it,calling it a business,

trying to make it a business, then it needsto be handled as a business

and not as a hobby.

If you’re approaching itas a hobby, more power to you.

OK, but if you want it to be business,if you want it to be a career,

then you’ve got to do at leasta little business work, I’m really sorry.

But that doesn’tmean you don’t get to also have fun.

So, for example, I’m just going to

I mentioned last week

that I technically have a Tumblr presence,but I don’t consider it

really part of my marketing because Idon’t put any time and effort into it.

I don’t develop it.I don’t maintain it.

It’s it’s not really part of my marketing,

but I occasionally have funscrolling through Tumblr.

OK, so so that’s allowed.

All right.

And then as you’re assessingthis return on investment,

some of this stuff isgoing to be a long tail.

Some of the stuff is going to takea while for you to see results.


what I know from my day jobwhere we’re we’re working on behavioral

changes and we’re using dataand all of this wonderful stuff,

there’s there’s two aspects, two reasonswhy you might need to be tracking data.

One is if it takes a while to see results,your memory is fallible.

And if you’re like, oh, well,

I think I have more Twitter followersthan I had three months ago.

But why would I remember the number

of Twitter followers I’vehad three months ago?

I like first of all, it’s 2020, andthree months ago was seven years ago.

And secondly, you know,I’ve got other things hopefully going

on in my life than staringat my Twitter follower count all day.

So your memory is not going to benot going to be super reliable.

And the other part is your memoriesare incredibly subject to emotion.

And as I mentioned, it’s 2020.

And emotion is not your most, your bestdecision making metric right now.

So I absolutely — I mean, I’ll tellthe story from my from my behavior life.

I had a client.We were working with a service dog.

And, you know, she was trying to get

the dog to to move through doorways in acertain way with her that assisted her.

And so I gave them some homeworkto work on with with the doors.

And she called me.She’s like, there’s no way I can do this.

This is insane.

It’s taking us three minutesto get through every door.

I can’t live my life to takethree minutes to get through a door.

I was, ok,OK, OK.

Let me come out.Let’s see what’s going on.

And so I came out and I timed her.

I was like, show me.

Go through this door five times,show me how long it’s taking.

Show me something.What’s going on.

And I timed her and it was seconds,

literally just a few secondsto get through the door.

And when I had actually timed her,you know, I had numbers.

This wasn’t three minutes.

This was eight seconds or whatever it was.


then she stopped and she’s like, oh, OK.I see that.

She’s like, you know,I’ve been really stressed.

I’ve been really upset.And I’m like, yeah.

So everything felt bigger and more

difficult and it felt like you were makingless progress than you actually were.

Emotions.Absolutely, absolutely

filter and influence our memories.

So don’t do that to yourself.

Give yourself hard data to work from.So.

All right, sorry, bunny trail, whee!



You’re tracking your data,you’re writing things down,

you’re going to see whether or not itactually does anything for you,

whether it’s just fun,and then you get to make a decision on

if it’s not doing anything for me, if it’sjust fun, do I want to spend time on it?

And if it is doing something for meand is fun, that’s the ideal.

That’s the sweet spot.

So OK, so and so I would say set whenyou’re trying something new, set a goal.

So I want to get morenewsletter subscribers.

I want to


50 clicks on this buy link or, you know,whatever, whatever your goal might be.

But be prepared to get a differentachievement than the one you planned for.

So maybe you didn’t get a lot of clicks

through on your buy link, but you didpick up subscribers in the newsletter.

I don’t know whatever the case may be.So just be prepared

to experiment and you won’t notice thoseother changes if you’re not tracking.

So track.All right.

So things that you can experiment

with right now in 2020,I am playing with Amazon ads,

which I had briefly ventured into before,didn’t know what I was doing.

Absolutely worthless to me because Ididn’t go in with a lot of knowledge.

So it’s not, I think Ilost like twenty dollars.

So I didn’tnot eat that month or anything.

But also that’s twenty dollarsI’m not getting back right.

I don’t wanna just set fire to money,throw it away.

So this year in 2020 I was like

OK, I should probably actually figureout what I’m doing with Amazon ads.

So I signed up for a courseand oh my gosh, did homework.

I don’t like homework.

I’m such a, I’m stillthe eight year old child inside.

I didn’t want to do my homework but doing

homework is the only way you’regoing to get get anywhere.

And so I’ve started seeing

I’ve got, I’m not deep enoughin to know the long term benefits of this,

but I’m not actively losing money,so that’s a good sign.

And so we’ll see.

I’m not yet one of those people who ismaking five five figures a month just off

my Amazon ads or whatever,that that’d be great.

Not there yet.


I started with somethingsmall that I could scale up.

I actually –no reason to be coy about this–

I signed up for Brian Cohen’s five day

Amazon ad challenge, which waswhich is a free thing.

He runs

three times a year.

I’m not sure exactly.

And maybe four, I don’t know,three or four times a year.

And it’s free.It’s five days.

It’s actually really usefulinformation for in five days.

And then you can experiment with that.

And, you know, if you want to if you wantto take that information and then go

deeper, there’s other courses you cansign up for that are that are paid

or, you know, I would say just take thefive day course and get what you want.

But I will say that’s one of those,

know where you are in the process,because if you have

one fairly niche book,it may not be the best use of your time

and money because you’re reallygoing to get a lot more out of

a good ads program.

What am I trying to say?It has approach.

There’s a.

An entire there’s a noun,there’s a noun right there.

The point is you will get more bang

for your buck if you have a largercatalog or a series to work from.

It will be easier to

to invest and get a larger returnbecause you’re focusing you can use a few

ads to sell a lot of books, you know,kind of thing, as opposed to using a few

ads to sell one bookor a lot of ads to sell one book.

So, you know, again, I’m not tellingyou that you need to do this.

I’m just telling you things I’mexperimenting with because, you know,

several years ago I triedads and I failed miserably.

So don’t

don’t do something because Ibecause I said, this is what I’m doing.

Do something.Look at look at your own situation.

But anyway, that’s the thingthat I’m working on.

And I will give youmore feedback as we go,

because like I said,I stupidly let all of my ads expire

on July 31st because I wasdistracted by something shiny.

And so then I’ll be on that.

So other things you can try that are newis experiment with a new feature.

Oh, I’m sorry, strategy.

Natalie’s helping me out in the chatand I was too busy wrapped up in my head.

Strategy is a good word.

It’s not the one I was going for,but it will absolutely fit that niche.

So, yes, you’re going to get the most,

most, most benefit from a strategythat that is benefit that is targeted

toward multiple books ora series or something like that.

All right.

Other things that I am experimenting

with or have experimented with,if you’ve got a newsletter,

try a new newsletter feature sothis can work in different ways.

I’m just going to list some things

that come off the top my headbecause I didn’t make notes.

So here we go.

But one that I did mentioned lastweek is recommending other books.

So if you are

trying to establish yourself in the horrorgenre, totally just making this up,

recommending other good horror,

ghost stories, paranormal, some, you know,just things in that vein so that people

get used to finding good stuffthat they enjoy in your newsletter.

So a recommendation feature,something that I experimented with briefly

in mine was a, oh my gosh,I even know what I called it.

Reader spotlight, something I don’t know,

but I would pull out a piece of fan art orsomething like that that I could then

include in my newsletter — with permissionand with links and all of that,

not just taking people’s stuff withoutwithout attribution,

but and then I would, you know,share that in my newsletter.

And I got a little bitof feedback from that.

But not,

I did not personally,

other mileage may vary,I didn’t personally get enough

enthusiasm generated by that to make itworth tracking things down,

multiple emails to get permissionand links and all of that.

So for me, it was notthe best use of my time.

Still enjoy it.Please show me your fan art.

Love that!OK, but that particular feature

in my newsletter, that wasn’twhat my readers were there for.

OK, great.You know, I’m still happy,

Some of them were and I’m happy

always to direct people to cool stuffthat I find, but enough to make it.

You know, that was not what madepeople open the newsletter.

So there we go.

So anyway, just think, find things,

another person I know always has “thisis where my cat is sleeping this month.”

So we just experiment.

You know, if you’ve gota readership that’s really into

cats in general or your cat,that can be a good thing to do, so.

All right.

Something else to experiment with,and again, all of this is just

experimentation,trying a new social media. Now.

We are in the middle of a

dramatic period socially and so if socialmedia is not good for you right now,

be careful where you’reputting yourself out.

so you know, don’t don’t be,”Oh, my gosh.

I’m trying to take a social media break,but Laura said I need to do this,

so I’m going to go to the most dramaticplatform and start something that–“

No, that’s not what we’re doing.

OK, but, you know, it might be a goodplace to say, OK, you know what?

I’m going to see what Instagram does forme because I haven’t been on that yet.

And then just just try something.Get your toes wet.

A great thing about social media is

there’s very littlemonetary outlay for that.

You can, you know, it costs time.

Everything costs time.

But you can be selective abouthow much time you put in.

I do strongly recommend being selective

about how much time you put into socialmedia for a variety of reasons,

everything from productivityto personal health, but,

you know, pick something and goin and and just experiment and find

out if you have a base therethat you could connect with.

You know, we talked last time about,

you know, you’re looking for peoplewho also want to watch cat videos or,

you know, whatever it isthat you have to offer.

So just go and to a new new platformand put out some material that’s pretty

representative of your brandand see if you get any nibbles.

This is where it is very important –I’m going to reference last week again —

None of this is selling.

This is not selling.

There is no part of this that is selling.

You’re just putting out cool stuffthat relates to you and your product.

But I’m not asking anybodyto buy from me at this point.

I’m just throwing out, “hey,here’s this amazing photo of three seals

leaping from Loch Ness at the same momentthat forms the little Loch Ness Monster.

Isn’t that cool?I like cryptids.

How about you?”

Like, just, you know whateverand then people can,

“Oh my gosh, I do love cryptids.

So let me follow this.There’s more cryptid stuff.

Oh, there’s more cryptid stuff.Oh you’ve got a cryptid story.

Cool.”OK, so that’s the kind of

kind of thing you do.

And yes I did post a photo like that,I don’t know, four years ago something

when I had a cryptid story coming out so youcan find things that relate

to what you are goingto be promoting later.

But right now,

when you’re first experimenting in a newplatform, it’s all just branding.

It’s just marketing, sharing, cat videos.

It’s not selling.

OK, and again, just a reminder,social media does not sell books.

Social media is great for establishingand maintaining a brand.

Social media is great for stayingin contact with readers you already have.

Social media is not good for retail.

So just keep that in mind.

Big numbers in social mediadoes not translate to big sales.

It’s just a vanity metric.

So don’t sweat that that hard.

The other thing that you can do isenhance what you’re already doing.

You’re going to try something newwith what you already have

and sometimes you just stepping back,looking at what you’re doing.

OK, let’s do a little maintenance.

I’m going to clean out the deadwoodon my newsletter list so that I’m getting

rid of all the subscribers who have notopened an email from me in 16 months,

because if you are using a commercial mail

service, those peopleare costing you money.

If you regardless of the kindof service you’re using —

By the way, when I’m talking about

commercial service or self hosted service,at no point is this you sending your own

emails off your ownemail account, that is.

Don’t do that.

We can go into that another time,but the short answer is no.


so but if you are

using a service like Aweber or Mailer Liteor something, or if you’re using a self

hosted service like Sendy,which is what I do.

Either way, having the that

those those subscribers on your listwho do not open, they actually inhibit

the deliverability of your mailto the people who do want what you have.

So getting rid of that deadwood,it hurts your subscriber list size.

But remember, that’s a vanity metric.

So at one point I had

I want to say about fifty five hundred

people on my newsletter list, but I hada open rate of just under 20 percent.

And I didn’t check anyof these numbers before this.

So I’m going off memory.

This has been a few years ago

and, you know, just under 20 percent.

I mean, it’s it’s better than industryaverage, but it’s really not great.

OK, so I went through and

ran some filters and found the people

who had not opened somethingfor me in over a year.

And I sent an email just to them.

It was actually a series of a couple

of e-mails just saying, “hey,I see you haven’t opened anything for me.

You know, I understand like life gets

complicated and whatnot,but if you would like to stay,

click this button,you’ll stay on the list.

And if you are not interested orhere’s an unsubscribe link, OK?

Or if you’re not interested,then in two or three months or whatever,

you will be removed from thislist automatically.”

And I sent just a couple of those and Igot some people who clicked to stay.

I got a couple of unsubscribes and thenI got people who just timed out.

And so then I cleaned that out.

And I want to I want to say Icleaned out like 2000 people.

That’s a lot guys, like I watched my list

just cut in half, which, augh, it hurt,but my engagement rate went way up.

And because, 1) more people,

the people who stayed were the peoplewho were interested, and 2) more people

who stayed were getting my emails nowbecause all the servers were recognizing

that a higher percentage of those emailswere being opened and therefore they’re more

likely to be real emailand not spam and everything.

Oh, my deliverability went up.


just doing maintenance on your

email list or on your social media orthe things that you’re doing is good.

The other thing that I did just recentlyand I mentioned I’ve had a YouTube channel

for a while, but I’m starting to, I’mputting these videos up there now.

And I realized that my YouTube videodescriptions were incredibly basic.

You know, like

“this is Laura talking about marketing,” youknow, whatever, not not really useful.

So I made my YouTube descriptions a little

more, a little beefier and Iadded links to each of them.

Those links ran to my

my website and my newslettersubscription form.

And to Twitch, like,

“if you like this video, here’s where it’sactually happening,” you know, thing.

And so I went through my YouTube

video descriptions and just pasted

that series of links inand I did that all at once.

Just copy paste.It’s relatively quick.

Within an hour.

I had new subscribers hereon Twitch just by adding

the video,

by adding the links on the YouTube videothat led people back to this.

And I don’t know, maybe maybe youguys would have found your way here.

But but I made it easier for peopleto find their way here by adding a link.

So make it easy.

Always rule number one, never make it hardfor your customer to be your customer.

OK, that’s just basic business.

So,you know, just going through and doing

something so simple of taking careof something that I was already doing,

it was no extra effortto paste those links in.

So I’ll be doing that moving forward.

And yes, I do know that was the sourcebecause I’m using trackable links.

So I do know exactly how that worked.

And so I’m using Switchy

Bitly is another really popular option.

I do prefer — I used to use Bitly.I do prefer Switchy.

Now, however, Switchy is

not cheap, like I think it’s actuallypretty expensive and I couldn’t normally

afford it, but I got an AppSumo deal,so, God bless AppSumo.

But whatever you’re using for tracking

your links, which I strongly recommendthat you do because you can,

it’s another way to tell what is usefulto you and what is not.

So you can see where people are finding,

you know, where to spendyour time and effort.

But make sure that your,that your links you’re using to to

to be found to share more things,make sure they are trackable,

which lots and lots and lots of those allof your freebie services will do that,

but then also make surethey are updatable.

And that’s why I switched away

from the free Bitly service whenI got the chance to get Switchy.

If you create a short link and thenshare it and then

something changes so that that linkthat that short link goes to is no longer

valid, but that short link’sare already out in the world.

So I’ll give you the example that happenedto me was, I created a bunch of links

for my newsletter that wentto MailChimp years ago.


so those are all out in print books

all across, all across the country,all around the planet.

And then I’m no longer using MailChimp

for a variety of reasons andI can’t do anything.

Those links are out there.

I cannot update it with because I made

them with the free service of Bitly,which maybe it’s changed.

I don’t know, whatever, at the time.

I could notupdate those links.

So I still get people signing up

for a newsletter on MailChimp,that doesn’t exist.

So periodically I go into MailChimp and I

harvest those addresses and Itry to bring them over.

That works because I still have an accountthat I can get into on Mailchimp.

It wouldn’t work if I, you know, in allsituations that wouldn’t be possible.


“how do you organize the link tracking?

Is there a way to tag or categorize within

the link service or isthat another spreadsheet?”

There is a way to tagin the links service.

It’s great.So I actually have folders in Switchy,

like these are the linksthat I use on Twitter.

These are the links that I useand my YouTube descriptions, you know,

these are the links that I’msending out an email or whatever.

So I can see just at a glanceI’ll open up the YouTube folder.

There’s a list of all of my links and Ican see, oh, somebody, this link’s less than

an hour old and somebody hasalready clicked through to Twitch.

And I have a new Twitch subscriber.

OK, so

so, yeah, that’s you could do it allon a spreadsheet, but most of your

link service that’s going to be worth

the use is going to havea tracking system for you.

So just drop thoseinto folders.


are you guys familiarwith AppSumo? AppSumo is the bomb.

OK, so AppSumo is a

oh, a clearing house,it’s a it’s a catalog.

It’s a service that finds usefulsoftware or services and then

and then brokers deals to get people to,you know, basically,

I’m assuming it’s a it’s a reallyfast capital builder for companies.

So so, for example, Brain FM issomething that I’ve mentioned before.

Brain FM is the

music, the mood setting music,not just music, not just mood setting,

but it’s I don’t know,it does stuff in the brain.

It’s not binaural beats,but it’s another

performance enhancing drug for yourbrain delivered via music.

And, you know, there’sa monthly subscription for it.

But I got a lifetime dealon Sumo for twenty five dollars.

I did like five, six years ago.

And so and I’ll have it forever.

So there’s it’s definitely,definitely useful.

I actually hold on.

I’m going to shamelessly,shamelessly give you guys a link to this


Hold on, doot de do….

That is, OK.

There’s a link in the chat.

So full disclosure,

that is an affiliate link to AppSumo,but I heartily recommend them.

I use them all the time.

And the customer service is fantastic.

They don’t know I’m talking, by the way.

They have no idea that I’m,

This is not a paid promotion.

But within the last year, I had a servicethat I had purchased that I really liked.

And, you know, the the service was great.

And the company said,OK, here’s what we have.

You know, these are the new updatesthat will be rolling out next month.

Look forward to them.

And I loved it.

And then

the company disappeared, like

the site that I loggedin to for the service was down.

The company’s social media still existed,but they weren’t putting out anything new.

They weren’t responding to anything.

It was like everybody had just vanished.

And so a few weeks went by and, you know,

customers are talking to each otheron social media, like what happened.

So I wrote to AppSumo and I’m like, “hey, Ipurchased this software subscription here.

And, you know, they vanished.

Do you know anything about it?”

And AppSumo’s like, “no, we don’t.Here’s all your money back.”

And so there it was, you know, really,I got I got zero complaints about them.

They’re really good.All right.

All right.

The short version is,way off the track there,

Whatever tracking link service you use

make sure that it is that you’regetting your tracking,

you’re getting your tracking data outof it and then make sure it’s updatable.

So that’s what I was after.

OK, questions, you guys, thingsthat are coming up as I as I ramble,

because I did an awful lot of talkingwithout interruption there.

I’m going to grab a drinkwhile I check the chat.



I really never intended this to be like

a weekly challenge, but last weekI told you to build a spreadsheet.

This week I’m going to tell youthink of something new to try.

I don’t care if,I don’t care if it works or not.

I don’t care if it in fact,

I’m going to say pick something thatmight not work, you know,

go ahead and give yourself permission tosay, “I’m going to I’m going to try this.

And when it doesn’t work, I’m goingto yeet it and try something else.”


the there’s so much that youcan benefit by experimenting.

Go ahead and give yourselfpermission to experiment.

And if that means you’re going to try

something with a low chance of successto start so you won’t feel bad when it

when it doesn’t turn out to bethe best thing ever

do that, if that’s going to make you morecomfortable, and if you don’t need that,

then go for the moon and good luck to you.


Oh,Grace says, “I bought a thing off AppSumo

that you recommended a few months ago,but I only just remembered.

Yes, I didn’t use it.Thanks, 2020.”

Yeah, that’sI will confess that I have on more

than one occasion logged intoAppSumo to remember what it is that I was

pretty sure I had boughtbut couldn’t remember what it was.

So I just went through my order history

until I found it like, yeah,yeah, that’s the thing.

I knew that was going to beuseful and let me go use that.

That is totally a thing that I’ve done.


again, they’re really,really good with their customer service.

And if you have something that you

purchase that you just haven’t used, they’ll refundit, like they’re just really good.

So and no, I’m not working for them.

But that is

that’s just been my experience, I havebeen very, very happy with them.


other things.Oh, so as I mentioned,

Nan Van says, “I’m glad I’m not the onlyone who does things like that.”

And it’s 2020.We’re all doing things like that.


OK, this is Sub-tember,so that is Twitch’s subscription drive.

So again, you know, if you guys are,I’m going to be here anyway.

So you guys are welcome to be here.

If you’re sitting here

with an Amazon Prime account that you’renot using for a Twitch subscription,

I would love if you would use your freeincluded Twitch subscription for me.

Thank you.I would really appreciate that.

If you don’t,

but if you’re ever considering subscribing,

not with your included Amazon Primesubscription, September’s the month to do it because

it’s up to a third offand then that’s great.

Otherwise, you know, you’re welcometo stay here and watch the ads.

I made 12 cents off ad views last month.

You guys, I’m gonna getrich off this, 12 cents.

So but if you have an Amazon Prime accountand you would like to not have to watch

the ads, please use yoursubscription. It benefits you.

It benefits me.Everybody wins.

Except the advertisers, I guess.Sorry.


and I do have a Ko-Fi.

It’s Laura VAB.

L-A-U-R-A-Victor Alpha Bravo.

But again, I’m goingto be here regardless.

So thank you guys.

And then I’m going to wrap this because

when we are done tonight,I get to go out and hide in a field.

So one of the things I, I host is

oh no, not, not in this venue, but I haveacreage and there’s search teams that come

a couple of search teams who comeand train their dogs on my property.

And so I’m going to go out and hide

in the woods and pretend to belost until a dog finds me.

Oh, hold on, there’s a chat questionand then I’ll come right back to that.

Oh, great question from Natalie.

“If you have multiple books in mid or late

revisions, but nothing in print yet,what marketing infrastructure would you

put in place early on versusstuff you can grow into?

Current books are nonfiction,but novels are on the way too.”

OK, so fantastic question.Good news.

Nonfiction is definitely the easiestway to start with this, so.

Nonfiction is all about buildingcredibility in your field so that people

know that they can get good, useful,reliable information from you.

So I had a

non-fiction blog

that had pretty good visitationbefore I released my non-fiction book.

And and that was hugely helpful becauseI was not starting a platform from zero.

So this is a great way you can start doing

this with your nonfiction, getting yourname out in discussion groups, getting.

Yeah, blogging is not dead, guys.

A lot of people were like, when when whensocial media gets big, it’s going to kill

the blog, and the blog is not dead, actually,

and it’s infinitely moresearchable than social media.

If you if somebody puts in, oh my gosh,pick a pick a topic, “how do I fix

my leaky toilet,” I’m just making stuff up.

But if somebody is goingto search for that,

that is going to lead to a blog postway before it leads to a tweet.

All right.

So don’t — again, social media isgreat for maintaining relationships

you already have.It’s not good for other things.

It’s not good for for being discoveredand it’s not good for selling.

So use it for what it’s good for.

So blog posts are good

being in communities, existing communitieswhere you can build name recognition.

So if there areoh my gosh, I’m going to show my age if

there are listservs or email lists thatare dedicated to a topic or again,

this is whereyou can use social media.

So if it’s a Facebook group or something

like that, that you can bea participant in this larger community.

Keep in mind, you are just buildingname recognition within that community.

That’s not going to be searchableto the to the outside world.

But it’s a good way to build name

recognition withinthat community as a start.

And and that can lead to word of mouth.

So that’s another thingthat that you want.

So,again, nonfiction,

you’re just going to put usefulinformation out there and people

come to view you as a sourcefor that useful information.

And then when you have a book available,

you say, “hey, you like all that stuffthat I gave you before,

would you like a more complete version,neatly packaged in one place?”

And hopefully they say yes.

So that’s that’s a good way to start

that with nonfiction for novels,you’re going to just start establishing

that again, what we talkedabout with branding.

So this is the mood.This is the tone.

This is the material.

You know, here arethe best cryptid pictures.

Here are the best cat videos.

Here are really good,

sweet romances.

You know, just, you know, things that,again, you’re becoming, you want people

to have a certain association,a tone and mood.

You’re a go to when they are in the moodfor you can supply them with.

And and then that’s going to help

establish that that brand for whenyou have something ready to go.

So I hope I hope I was in the rightdirection and answering that.


OK, jumping back to the search team,

I have a couple of search groupswho who train at my place.

And so one of the things that you’ll seeon the schedule when I posted, you know,

we have a a weekly topic,a weekly theme for this,

To write and have, to write and havewritten, I guess now that we have a title

and one of the things is a Learn With Me,which is where either I explore something.

Well, usually it’s probably,it’s me exploring something that I find

interestingthat I went to learn more about and or

something that is frequently gotten wrongin fiction or film or media of some sort.

So I don’t know.

It just occurred to me like, would a search,

would search training be a good one to cover

for that? Because it’s somethingI know a decent amount about.

But I’m certainly not an expert in it,

but it is also something that Ifrequently see misrepresented in media.

I’m thinking in particular of a TV showwhere a couple of guys are hiding

from law enforcement, pursuing them,and one of them has a sandwich.

And the guy’s like, Oh,I can’t believe you brought the sandwich,

throw it away becausethe dogs will find us if we have a sandwich.

I’m like, those dogs will find you ifyou don’t have a sandwich.

So that’s I think OK, Natalie says YES.Yes, OK, great.

Yeah.If you guys and please, please,

please always feel free to let me knowlike this is a this is a topic that I

would like to see exploredand I’d like to see gotten right.

I put out

some requests to people to to come

and chat with me about,about how to poison people —

And just in books, guys, just like,

please use this information responsibly.

But later this month,we’ll have Ceallaigh MacCath-Moran coming

on talking about folklore and howthat’s relevant to our story.

So all kinds of cool stuff.But OK, yes.

Or maybe I will talk to somebody aboutcoming and talking about search.

Search can be for eitherlive people or for cadavers.

And there are similaritiesand differences between that.

And there’s a lot of information that,

like I said, I frequentlysee misrepresented in media.

And it would be one of those things thatyou could be the person who gets it right.

So OK.

But, yeah, I always feel free to give me

a heads up on what would beinteresting for you.

So if there are no other questions,

I’m going to wrap it here, douse myselfin bug spray and go hide in the woods.


this is how I spend my evenings.Yes.

Just lying in a hole,pretending not to be here, so.

Oh my gosh.

She’s says, “my firstborn child,if you get an ethologist or biologist

to explain why 100 percent of werewolfbooks are wrong, wrong, wrong.”

But they really are.And I have some blog posts on that.

So, yeah, those are already out there.

I actually it was hilarious becauseI was invited to be on a romance panel

at a writers conference based purelyon one of my blog posts about why

the alpha male in that particulartrope kind of romance

is a misrepresentation of how actualhierarchy and animal hierarchy works.

And I’m just like,how did I get on a romance panel?

Because that’s not what I writeand it’s not really my field.

But but but I know about I know abouthierarchy and I know about pack dynamics.

So it makes me the expert here.

Yeah, I’m I’m not a good person to watch,

I’m not a good person to sharewerewolf romances with.

I’m not a good personto watch Jurassic World with.

I’m sorry.

Just let me tell you upfront,that’s my thing.

But I’m happy to tellyou how to do it better.

And I actuallyhave done sessions at conferences on

Your Velociraptors Are Broken or how to writeanimal behavior more accurately.

So there we go.OK,

thank you guys for joining me.

I really appreciate you coming here.

And if you’re catching this later

on YouTube or on the podcast or whatever,love you guys, too.

Thank you so much and absolutelyfeel free to contact me.

is where you can find all my stuff,

but also email me about anything that youparticularly want covered

because I will happily take your questionsand turn them into our long rants.

So thank you, guys.Take care.

Have a lovely evening and be safe.

Wash your hands! Bye.

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