EbookEriMo Tip #3 – What To Do When Shit Happens

ebookwrimo 3 001.001Paul’s Note: yesterday for various reasons I didn’t get to do any writing – here’s a post I wrote a while back that was originally written for my bass guitar students and then adapted for running an online business.  It applies just as well to the task of writing a book in 30 days.



How To Maintain Your Business Routine When Shit Happens

In the 1994 movie ‘Forrest Gump’ there’s a scene where Forrest is running and steps in dog crap. Someone asks him if he knows that he’s stepped in dog crap and Forrest replies: ‘It happens.’ The guy says: ‘What, shit’ and the movie makers cleverly cross cut to a truck with a bumper sticker that says ‘Shit Happens’ that’s just about to get blindsided at an intersection by another vehicle.

What’s That Got To Do With Online Business?

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EbookWriMo Tip #2 – Schedule A Time For Your Main Writing Block

ebookwrimo 2This might seem obvious – but make sure you get a block of time allocated in your day’s schedule for your main writing period. (I say main writing period, because you can ‘top up’ with strategies like the Furious 500 and the Nifty 350 as mentioned in yesterday’s post.)

As well as making sure you’ve got a block of time allocated, try and make sure that block is located in the writing periods of the day that work for you.

I like to schedule my main writing to start once the kids have gone to school. So at about 9.15 AM Monday to Friday I sit down at my writing computer, fire up Scrivener, turn off the internet, cue up my writing music in iTunes and start writing.

As well as making sure you’ve got a block of writing time scheduled, I’d advise making your main writing block as early in the day as possible.

I can tell you from experience that if you schedule it for night time it’s much, much easier to get derailed by unexpected events or fatigue.

There’s Another Benefit Too…

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EbookWriMo Tip #1 – Don’t Start Without A Solid Outline

ebookwrimo 1In the fiction world – and the world of NaNoWriMo – writers tend to divide themselves into two categories: pantsers and planners.

Planners are writers who plan their stories ahead of time. And pantsers are writers who fly by the seat of their pants.

For non-fiction writing though we should all be planners. And if you’re trying to write an eBook in a short period of time then you need to start before Day 1 of your writing challenge, and make sure you have a solid outline prepared.

Why An Outline Is Necessary

These EbookWriMo tips are short posts so I won’t go into chapter and verse about this, but solid outlines help your writing in these ways:

  1. Reduce writer’s block. A lot of writer’s block is caused by the blank page and not knowing what to write. Your outline should tell you.
  2. Eliminate structural editing. Structural editing is taking a completed draft and reworking the order to make the parts you’ve written flow better or fit better. Structural Editing is done at outlining stage.
  3. Organizes your material. You know not only where you start but also where you’re going to finish. And most of the steps along the way. Finishing your book is simply a matter of writing all those steps.
  4. Reduces writer’s block (2) Because your outline organizes your material there’s no need to write in the finished order of the book. Is there a section you’re really keen on writing? Then write that first.
  5. Allows You To Write In Chunks A great productivity tip I got from the fiction world and NaNoWriMo came from author James Scott Bell. He calls these ideas the furious 500 and the nifty 350. You’ll find more about them here: http://www.right-writing.com/disciplines.html But an outline allows you to tailor your writing to the chunks of available writing time that you have.
  6. It Makes Your Writing More Focused…because you’ve done the work of exploring exactly what your book is about in the outline stage, in the writing stage you can focus on writing only the words that are necessary at each point in your book.
  7. …which gives the reader a more coherent read. Your outline gives your writing focus – that focus grounds your reader and gives them a sense they are in the hands of an author who: (i) knows where they are going; (ii) and won’t take any unnecessary detours getting there

There Are Other Jobs A Solid Outline Does Too…

Because you know what you are going to write in your book you can start the ball rolling on all the other tasks that need doing prior to publication – e.g. preselling, cover design, marketing, interviews, etc etc. This post is solely about the writing stage, so these other tasks aren’t relevant to this post.

So Tip #1 Is: Don’t Start Without A Solid Outline

I started work on my outline at least 10 days ago. And I was thinking about this book before then. So having my outline solidly in place has allowed me to select a day as Day 1 (which was yesterday) and just start writing.

EbookWriMo Word Tally – Day 2

Today is the 4th of November and the fourth day of NaNoWriMo, it’s the second day of my personal EBook Challenge.

On Day 1 (yesterday) I wrote 763 words.

Today (Day 2) I wrote 1202 words.

So my current total is 1965 words.




Welcome To eBookWriMo – My November Write An eBook Journey

ebookwrimoSo you’re probably wondering what eBookWriMo is?

Two years ago, the folks over at Copyblogger ran a challenge to write an eBook in a month:


This challenge lines up with a fiction writing challenge called NaNoWriMo – which stands for National Novel Writing Month. In NaNoWriMo fiction writers attempt to ‘win’ by writing a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. (Though let’s be clear, that’s not a finished novel – it’s a first draft of a novel.)

If you click the link above to Copyblogger’s eBook challenge you’ll see that they set the challenge to write an eBook of some description in 30 days.

That’s A Challenge I’d Like To Accept…

I’ve been planning to do my own eBookWriMo 2014 challenge and write the first in a series of eBooks. This eBook should be published at some stage on the Kindle platform around mid December and I plan to create some posts on One Spoon about the process.

The reason I’m going to write about the process is that I can use these posts as a guide to help me when I write Book 2. And book 3. And so on.

And there may be some non-fiction writers who will benefit from reading these tips at some stage in the future when they are writing their own ebooks.

The Other Reason For Taking The Challenge Publically

The other reason for posting about the process is that it provides a further layer of motivation for me to get this done. No-one likes failing – and especially not in public.

So if I’ve not published this book to Kindle by mid-December I’ll have failed. Every time I post on the process here on The Spoon it will serve as motivation to ensure I’m putting in some serious SOPSOC time. (SOPSOC=seat of pants in seat of chair!)

I’ve outlined the upcoming book and estimate it’s going to weigh in at around 25 to 30 thousand words.


In November I plan to write the main draft of an eBook that will be published on the Kindle platform by mid December.

I plan to post some short articles/tips here on The Spoon so that: (a) I can use the writing of this book as a blueprint for the writing of further books, and: (b) in the hope that will inspire other bloggers and writers to commit to writing their own eBooks and publishing them in some form.


If you have any questions…don’t hesitate to ask them in the comments.


Pre-Selling Lessons For Writers From Release Of Taylor Swift’s Album 1989

Over the last couple of months I’ve been watching with interest the ‘pre-sell’ campaign for Taylor Swift’s upcoming album 1989. In fact, it launches on Monday the 27th October – the day that I publish this post.

And it’s been interesting to see the single Shake It Off used as the central pillar that this pre-selling campaign has been hung on – especially in conjunction with YouTube.

Let’s look at the campaign in more details.

Step 1 – Teasers

In early August Swift started the buzz amongst her fans by posting a video on instagram, tweeting a cryptic photo and tweeting an image of a Yahoo Home Page.

This led to Step 2.

Step 2 – Announce The Product

Swift announced the new album in a live stream – and at the end of the live stream announced that the album was available for pre-order and the official video for the single Shake It Off was published on YouTube.

This song is the lead song from the album – take a look at this screenshot where you can see the short description that’s been entered into the video:

taylor 2

Notice the offer there for Taylor fans: pre-order the album 1989 today and get the MP3 of the song immediately.

Now Swift has probably promoted the song with live appearances on various shows – I believe she appeared on The X Factor in the UK. And as well as promoting Shake It Off as a single, she also promoted the upcoming release of 1989. (Also check out the impressive number of views on the video….220 million!)

Step 3 – Additional Launch Content

On September 11th more content was released on Youtube. These were three “out-take” style videos where Swift is interviewed and talks about segments of the Shake It Off video featuring different styles of dancers.

If you check out the info on the screenshot, you’ll see the offer for fans who pre-order the album that we saw on the originl video. We’ll look at that pre-offer in a moment. Here’s the screenshot:

taylor 3


Step 4 – Additional Launch Content

Here’s how more launch content was sed:

September 16th – Outtake Video 4 published to YouTube

September 23rd – Outtake Video 5 published to YouTube

September 30 – Outtake Video 6 published to YouTube

October 7th – Outtake Video 7 Published to YouTube

October 14th – Outtake Video 8 Published to YouTube

Additionally on October 18th Swift added a further track as a download for pre-orders, a song called Out Of The Woods. And on October 20th a third song from the album was added as a download for pre-orders – Welcome To New York.

Don’t forget that all of these ‘static’ promotional activities were combined with personal appearances and interviews on chat shows, music shows and the like.

Let’s move on and examine the pre-sell offer.

The Pre-Sell Offer

There were two components to the Pre-Sell offer being used:

  1. Three different versions of the album available
  2. Entry in to a competition called the ‘Taylor Swiftstakes.’

Here’s a screenshot showing the pre-sell details and the three different product levels:

taylor pre-buy

And as well as getting one of the album versions on release date, fans who pre-purchased the album were also entered into a draw where there were 1,989 prizes to be won:

Taylor swiftstakes



Results Of The Pre-Sell

These results are UK results….and were taken on Sunday, 26th October prior to the official album release. First here’s a screenshot from iTunes in which you can see that the album is #5 on the iTunes chart:

taylor 6

And here’s a screenshot from Amazon showing that the album was #4 overall in Amazon’s music chart, and #2 in the ‘Pop Music’ bestseller list on Amazon:

taylor 5

On the morning of 27th October around 8 AM UK time I cross-checked the Amazon.com listing – and the album was #1 on the Amazon.com music chart. I just read on Wikipedia that Shake It Up also debuted in the US singles charts at #1.

I’ll update later this week with more results on various charts as well.

The Takeaways

I’ll post later in the week some thoughts on how some of the strategies that Swift used could be adapted for an info product (e.g. a course, or a book).

Here are the main takeaways from looking at this launch:

  1. The record company for (arguably) the biggest female singer in the world currently used a comprehensive pre-sell strategy for an eagerly awaited new album from a singer with a big fan base. And this started two and a half months before the album’s release.
  2. Notice the progression from teaser announcements, to unveiling of the upcoming product (the album) and the use of an excerpt (the single) to build the launch campaign around.
  3. This one isn’t specifically spelled out in the information above – but 1989 represents a shift from ‘country’ to ‘pop’ by Taylor Swift. And to forestall objections to this, in interviews Swift talks about this switch plus Shake It Off is about her reaction to other people’s reactions. This is about killing objections in two ways – by talking about it, and by showing the ‘new’ style in the single. (Additionally the single/album was produced and co-written with a songwriting team who worked on songs on the last Swift album – so emphasizing continuity to help bring fans to the new album who might be put off by talk of ‘going pop.’)
  4. Another point not specifically spelled out above – on all the pre-sell pages there are social media buttons to help her fans share details of the pre-sell itself and of the competition. And hopefully to create buzz.
  5. Use of different social media channels ranging from Instagram to Youtube to a live stream on Yahoo and all the personal appearances on conventional TV.


In this post we’ve looked at the pre-launch for Taylor Swift’s 1989 album.

And it’s instructive to note that the album released today, October 27th, but that the pre-sell started in early August.

The pre-sell was cleverly built around the first single off the album – Shake It Off.  Different forms of media were released as well as lots of personal appearances.  And the results have been impressive – the single debuted in the US Chart at #1 and early on the day of official release it was #1 on Amazon.

Later in the week we’ll look at some ways we could model some of what has been done with this launch and see how we could apply them to a conventional info product.