Brand Interview: Diane O’Connell, Write To Sell Your Book
How long has your company been in business? Please tell us a bit about your company, its mission, goals…
I went out on my own and began my business as a freelance writer and editor in 1993. Over the years, it has evolved so that my work is exclusively helping authors succeed in the publishing world. As the publishing industry evolved, it became harder to get a traditional book deal, but at the same time opened up a wider range of self-publishing and electronic-publishing options. Amidst this landscape, I founded Write to Sell Your Book, LLC in 2010.
My mission is simple: to turn unpublished writers into successfully published authors.
Do you donate to charities? Tell us about that also and why.
I donate to a range of charities and cultural institutions. However, the two I am most dedicated to are Citymeals-On-Wheels, which donates food to the home-bound elderly and poor, and the other is to the Penguin Repertory Theatre, an equity theater in upstate New York that gave me my early start on the stage before I had turned to publishing. They do wonderful work there and also have a strong educational outreach. Also, I’m an avid supporter of animal rescue organizations. In fact, my golden retriever and my cat are both rescued animals.
Tell us about your brand.
The reason I came up with the name “Write to Sell Your Book,” is because that is my goal for every one of my authors – that they don’t just write for years with no end result. The point is that they actually do achieve their goal of writing and publishing a book. It’s not just writing a book; the end result is to have a product that sells, whether it is a traditionally or self-published book. Everything I do in this business, from my weekly newsletter to my blog to my speaking engagements to the work with my authors is all geared toward helping unpublished writers becoming published authors.
I also believe in nurturing authors and working with them to get them to be the best they possibly can be. Truly mastering the craft of book writing is intertwined with greater chances of being published. I believe my methods depend on honesty coupled with a nurturing approach. They need both to succeed.
How did you know what typeface (font) would be right for your company wordmark or logo? If your logo has an illustration, describe why that art was the right thing, animal, place, object, etc…
I love the simplicity of our logo’s font; so often, first-time authors who approach me are so overwhelmed, confused or have so much on their minds that I wanted to construct a look that was as clean as possible. At the same time, our modern font contrasts a bit with our logo. If you look closely, you’ll notice that the book has a very clever watermark shaped like the ornate tip of a fountain pen. I think it gestures toward my roots at Random House. The book literally symbolizes the end product. The fact the book is open also tells people that we are an open book for them.
How did you decide on the right color palette to fit your company look and feel?
We were first drawn to the blue and orange combination because of its striking compatibility; as opposites on the color wheel, blue’s peaceful hue invites feelings of serenity, while orange revitalizes and warms. I feel my role as a developmental editor and book crafting coach does just that; I guide my authors in a way that helps them feel less overwhelmed about this huge process they’re going through, while making sure I can help facilitate their artistic growth in a warm, enthusiastic way. If you look at my website and blog, you’ll see these colors repeated throughout, to mimic Write to Sell Your Book’s comforting yet stimulating environment.
How did you decide which type of designer to work with, or did you design your own identity and web presence?
Well, it’s kind of like the domino effect – one thing lead to another. I originally set out to have some SEO work done on my existing website to bring in more traffic. I found my designer through a colleague in one of my network organizations. After going through the SEO with him, it became clear that my site had been coded all wrong, and there was no way he could enact the SEO that I had paid for. Then, we started to talk about him taking over the site and making it more modern and accessible to visitors. During the process of redoing the site, it became blaringly clear that my old logo, which had been cobbled together by myself and my former web designer, looked too clunky on this new, clean website. Fortunately, my web designer also had a great team of graphic designers who worked with me to design this logo.
In what order did you present your company to the world? Did you start with marketing and products, or website, blog and social media?
It evolved over time from just being me and my network of referrals to adding in a website of my own, which evolved into Write to Sell Your Book. After I created Write to Sell Your Book, I became active on social media platforms and started my blog. Everything came together at once.
How long after the launch of your company did you start pitching in social media?
Immediately. However, it was admittedly a half attempt with the social media. It wasn’t until I brought on board a very talented Executive Editor who really knew her way around social media that I’ve been able to have a real presence.
Did you do research or study any software, take webinars, teleclasses, before approaching any area of your marketing or web presence?
All of the above; I’m an avid learner.
Do you advertise locally in newspapers and/or nationally in magazines? Are they effective?
Do you advertise online using Google, Facebook or on other company sites? Are they effective?
Years ago, I experimented with Yahoo click ads and it was a total waste of money. Now, I don’t do any advertising, not even AdSense. All the work that comes to me is either through the website, through referrals, former clients, or my networking organizations.
Which social media site to spend the most time on and how does it help marketing your business?
I’ve come to love the writing community on Twitter. And, Pinterest is just so much fun, especially since I’m such a visual person. Even though I don’t spend much time on LinkedIn, I have gotten some clients who found me that way. I’m not real fond of Facebook. Over all, it still remains to be seen how effective all of this social media will be.
Do you belong to community sharing websites? Which ones and how effective are they in building your audience? What are the best features that help your business?
When you printed your products, packaging, business cards and other print marketing did you choose an online printer or visit a local vendor?
I used Vistaprint. They’re fast, inexpensive and reliable.
Did you know anything about different types of papers, when you wanted to print your marketing materials?
Right now, my only marketing materials are either virtual brochures, or business cards, which are heavy stock and glossy.
Have you ever used “green” technology in printing, using FSC certified papers or recycled paper and if not, how likely are you at trying this on a next project?
I don’t know anything about this but I’m open to finding out more.
Do you speak at events? If so tell us about that.
I love speaking at events. My favorite one is the annual BookExpo America, the premier publishing industry event in the country. I love the energy, meeting the authors, sharing with them, etc. I’ll also be speaking at the annual American Society of Journalists and Authors next year. I also frequently speak to smaller networking groups such as In Good Company and Savor The Success. I am definitely looking for more opportunities to speak at writer and business conferences throughout the country.
What is coming up in the year or two we should watch for?
There’s a lot! I’m planning an invigorating fiction writers’ retreat up in Lenox, Massachusetts for April of 2013, which I am really excited about. Also, I am developing two products – one is based on my talk, From Brand to Book: Turn Your Expertise Into A Book That Sells – And Sells Your Business, which will be a step-by-step guide for entrepreneurs who want to develop a book. The other is Writing Your Novel From the Ground Up, which is a product for novelists.
I will also be putting more focus on working with my premier level clients, taking them from the idea stage all the way to completed book.
Lastly, I’m also planning on producing a series of short instructional videos on the writing process.
Is there anything you haven’t yet tackled, but will want to do soon?
I have a goal of creating a Mastermind Retreat for entrepreneurs to develop their book.
To learn more about Diane O’Connell and Write To Sell Your Book, visit the links below: