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What To Do When Your eBook Isn’t Selling

June 14th, 2012 . by Peggy

Here are some tips not just from me, but from other Authors or creators of information products.

1. Write a second eBook.

Yeah, I know, this sounds completely counter-intuitive, but this one really does work. Why? Think “inbound links”. In terms of discoverability, the effect can be magnified many times. (Think SEO benefits.) This is a great place to expand in greater detail or to focus on one particular topic area. Every sales book I’ve ever read talks about this in some way, and yes, it has personally worked for me. It’s given me credibility as a topical expert, and has gotten me speaking gigs, where I ultimately sold more books.

2. Check that you’re being really, truly visible.

If you’re not always on the move, producing more content, the market will know. It’s a wheel that takes a lot to get rolling, and if you stop pushing it, the momentum you’ve built can only take it so much farther without you. Are you blogging? It creates more traffic to your sales page. Using social media? Twitter is free and works on any smartphone. Talking about your eBook somehow, to someone, every single day? Are you doing speaking? All of this is what’s known as “working it”, and that’s the real job of an Author – not writing. Never underestimate the power of a t-shirt with your domain name on it. I’ve gotten at least a half-dozen clients a year from that alone.

3. Revise it.

I’ve had one book that’s had three titles and four covers. Admittedly, they were not all great, but when sales have not been as expected, I take it down, revise it, put on a new cover, or change the platform. (Ie., if it’s not selling well as a PDF, try moving it to the Kindle format. Fresh market, new links, etc.) This is exploiting the most advantageous aspect of an eBook: it’s not carved in stone. It’s a living document that you can re-upload at any time. (Watch your version tracking, in a hidden spot in each book’s copyright page that tags it v.1.0, v.1.1, etc.)

4. Create parallel content.

By parallel content, I mean creating content that is not exactly what is in your eBook, but that is very clearly and closely aligned to it. If your eBook is about weight loss, create a low-cal recipe blog. Make a few cooking videos for YouTube with links to buy the eBook. (Video is so simple now that it really is inexcusable to not do this for such a visually-oriented subject.) If you’re talking about how to be a great consultant, write a few articles about how to manage your billing and accounting. Thinking with empathy about the needs of your audience will clue you into topics of interest very quickly.

5. Solicit some reviews.

There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of review exchanges out there – just Google “book review exchange”. (The concept is, “I’ll review your eBook positively if you review mine.”) They are typically no cost, and can mean anything from an Amazon Kindle review to an actual interview or blog post. I’ve heard one very successful Author suggest that you should aim for a few more each month. Again, this is actually about creating more inbound links to your content, ie., SEO benefits.

6. Examine your metadata.

Metadata is all the stuff you don’t see, but your computer does. For example, when you upload your eBook to Kindle, you are asked for keywords related to your eBook, and to choose a category, name all the contributors, write a description, and more. Did you actually do all of that? Does it need refreshing? Did you add keywords and check the page title and so on when you built your blog or website? Did you max it out? Hidden stuff mixed with quality visible stuff is what attracts traffic.

7. Setup an affiliate marketing program.

This takes a little more effort, but once setup, can be a virtual money machine. (Again, I have an upcoming Cheat Sheet about this. Watch my announcement list or the Facebook Page for details.) Essentially, offering to pay other website owners or list owners for marketing your eBook can be extremely cost-effective, and can be done almost indefinitely. You can listen to an audio about this topic that I recorded here: http://funnygirlmarketing.com/ (Once you sign up, check out week 3′s recording. It’s free.)

8. Examine your consistency.

By this I mean not just consistency in how often you do certain actions, like a certain number of tweets per week or writing a blog post each Tuesday, but also consistency in your messaging. Have you been sending mixed messages to your audience? Are you known for certain catch phrases? Do you use them often enough? Do you clearly align your objectives for each chapter with the messaging for the entire eBook? Does your blog also reflect that same mission and attitude? Do you practice what you preach? Do you slip? (We all do – don’t knock yourself up over that. Just get back on track.)

9. Check the usability of your shopping cart.

This is one of those stupid things that we might assume is working, but perhaps isn’t working all that smoothly from the viewpoint of the buyer. It’s amazing what can cause a consumer to abandon a shopping cart. I’m not talking about system failure, but instead, how easy and obvious things are. I have a “filter” person that I ask to test all things like this for me – my Mother. If it passes the Mom Usability Test, it’s good enough for the general public. It has often surprised me what things can trip people up. Sometimes it’s the location of a button, or the words actually on the button, or the colour of the button. It’s crazy.

10. Check your Klout.

Klout.com is an impartial way to know and gauge how you’re doing in the world of social media. Examine your rating, the details and explanation, and compare yourself to others in your business. For those lower on the scale than yourself, watch for the up-and-comers. For those higher on the scale than yourself, what can you learn from them? What can you emulate?

In my experience, for my own books and those of my clients, it’s often the little things that make the biggest difference. This list is a starting point that may lead you down side roads that you had not considered. Testing things scientifically is important: make one change at a time, and watch the results. And of course, everything is worth testing.

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How to Think Like a Successful eBook Author

June 5th, 2012 . by Peggy

 


Rodin's The ThinkerBecoming successful in any field often requires a shift in thinking. Here are some of the shifts that I myself experienced, and that I continue to witness in clients and other successful eBook creators.

1. Stop thinking of yourself as an Author.

Authors are amazing, creative, driven, and professional people. However, as the motivated creator of an eBook trying to crash into what might be a crowded niche, you need to shift yourself from almost all traditional thinking, and quickly.

My own fantasy of what it meant to be an Author was probably like that of many people: the Author as an introvert creative, working from behind a leather-topped desk in a quiet study, the oak-paneled walls lined with books, and a dog stretched out on a thick carpet at my feet. Occasionally, I would fetch myself a whisky from the mini-bar in the corner, or gaze out at my ocean view for inspiration. My publisher would take care of everything, and send me fat checks once a month, all because I was gifting the world with the gold that came out of my brain.

Yeah, that’s pretty far from my reality. Instead, after a rowdy morning of getting the kidlet off to school and taking something out of the freezer for dinner, I whip through Starbucks on my way to an office that I share with a crowd of marketing types. I then run down my whiteboards and address whomever is screaming the loudest. I eat lunch while typing or talking on the phone, scramble to meet deadlines, meet with new and existing clients about 3 times a week, test out new technologies or tools, write blog posts like this one, plan and execute official launch dates for ebooks or new information products, setup affiliate marketing data for the products of myself and clients, and then when that’s all done, dinner’s over and the kidlet asleep, I do a bit more market research to try to find the next niche that I can exploit to the max.

While I’m not in that luxury den, I must say that I find this much more rewarding. NO, this is NOT a life of luxury, but it is fulfilling. I love marketing. I love technology. And I especially love the freedom that I have to keep reinventing myself and my work over and over again. The reality is that successful fiction Authors (versus me as a product creator) do a lot of the same things I do, all day, every day. They might call themselves something other than an information marketer, but really, that’s what all of us are. Once our false expectations fade about the exotic life of an Author, we discover that this, being a marketer with a sort of literary bent, is actually way more fun.

2. Get into a tech groove.

Let’s face it: books mean technology. Even if you are writing for print in the most traditional sense, with a publisher and (perhaps) even an advance, you’re still in a technology-run business. There is simply no working around that. The time of Authors being lumped in with lawyers and real-estate agents for their lack of tech knowledge has passed. Content creators must now at least understand, and hopefully fully control, all aspects of their content distribution.

At the very least, all Authors must get used to the basics;

  • Writing on a computer, using appropriate word-processing software. 
  • Creating eBook content using a standard word-processor. 
  • Using social media. 
  • Blogging or creating other web content. 
  • Deploying and managing their content (and things like reviews) on popular eBook platforms like Kindle or Nook, etc.
  • Linking to places where people can buy the books, and making them easily accessible.
  • Managing a mailing list properly.

The more advanced techy types will take it to the next level;

  • Setting up a shopping cart on your website to sell books and eBooks. 
  • Formatting your own eBook uploads.
  •  Managing your own blog platform, on WordPress. 
  • Setting up things like feeds for your blog or website.
  • Tracking visitors to your blog or website, to see where your visitors are coming from.

And then there are the ones that really exploit the technology that makes money;

  • Conducting webinars or teleseminars. 
  • Using web video conferencing for lectures or virtual signings. 
  • Managing an ongoing affiliate marketing program.
  • Managing digital ad campaigns to sell books or eBooks.
  • Using podcasting to gain recognition and drive traffic.

If you know you’re stuck in the first paragraph, or less, at least know what you need to delegate to the techy types – and how to explain to them what you want.

3. Stop waiting.

The slowness of the literary industry is improving, but it is still its Achilles heel. Independent product creators must work faster in order to meet demand and build market share. In my observation over many years, the idea for a novel does not get better if it steeps for a few years. Instead, it gets neglected. It’s not just about writing every day, which is also essential, but about setting up a production schedule. This allows you to move from one completed project to the next, without losing your momentum or enthusiasm or joy for the content. In the case of non-fiction, there’s often a window of opportunity that is fleeting and small. You either grab it, or you miss it. Speed of production is the way to make money.

4. Keep producing.

If all you have in you is one novel a year, please be sure you have another job. (But don’t stop writing that one novel, either!) One product does not a company make. But, one product can a market open. What I mean by this is that you can do a lot of work to launch one product into the market, and once you open that door, you then capitalize on that by creating more products to fill the market space you have created. Once you have your spearhead product created, be sure to follow it up right away with a companion product, or a sequel, or a study guide, or a series of implementation exercises, or a new edition, or, or, etc. As the expression goes, the second eBook takes 1/10th of the work, and makes you 10 times the money.

5. Template what works.

If I were to consider selling my business, I know that the part that would be assessed for the greatest value would be my templates. I have systems up the ying/yang. Spreadsheets for processes, lists for checking off, template documents with fill-in-the-blanks, step-by-step guides for myself and for clients, pre-formatted documents for creating everything from class handouts to new eBooks, etc. etc. This is where your real value in a business lies: in its systems. This is true of almost every company. McDonald’s is nothing without its templated systems for everything from food processing and handling, to uniforms for employees, to how to scrub a toilet. Templates are what allow success to repeat. I rarely do anything more than once, because in everything I create or do, I look for a way to be able to do it again without any extra work. Yes, I have a lot of wall charts. Yes, I keep a pile of post-it notes in my bathroom magazine rack. Yes, that makes me look like a major geek. But I know that if I want to look professional, I need to save time, and templating is the only way I know to do that effectively.

The moment I let go of the unrealistic fantasy was the moment my company was born. I found real joy in offering something of value to a market that wanted it. I love sharing this with consulting clients, and watching them make the same shift and get real. No, I don’t have an ocean view (especially here in Las Vegas!) but I do have constant inspiration.

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18 Book Promotion Tips

April 24th, 2012 . by Peggy

Check out this list of 18 ways to promote your self-published (or traditionally-published) book or ebook.

1. Create a blog.

If you still don’t believe in the power of blogs for book marketing, check out this article by Nancy Hendrickson: http://ezinearticles.com/?Why-Authors-Need-to-Blog,-Even-If-No-One-Is-Reading&id=797505. Remember that the blog is not in addition to your website, it IS your website.

2. Write on the blog.

It sounds like 3+ times per week is the magic number to build traffic. Although, some Authors disagree, such as John Locke, who says that blogging more than once per month is a bad idea. Read his book How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months! to find out why.

3. Build your list.

I use 1shoppingcart.com and MailChimp.com to do this, but you can also use aWeber.com and any number of other services. Build a list of people interested in your product up to a year before it’s released, and you’ve got pre-sales, my friend. Hint: all the social media stuff you hear about is really about building your list. Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.

4. Use podcasts.

I have a face made for radio, and I work it: check out the OLD podcasts I’ve created at BlogTalkRadio.com. Download ‘em, trade ‘em with your friends. I also do mobile interviews with two headsets on my laptop, and record them as .mp3′s for regular release on this blog. Use Audacity (it’s free!) to record, edit, and output high-quality .mp3′s. As easy as a VCR.

5. Offer a free downloadable sample chapter of your book.

When people sign up for your email list, give them something nice in return, such as a free chapter in .PDF form. Ask the Artist who typeset your print book to deliver this as part of their package of services to you, so that you can be sure to deliver the download in the same attractive layout. Or, be sure that you offer a sample chapter of your eBooks on Kindle. One way or another, let them try out your stuff.

6. Create a simple and clear landing page.

The idea here is to create a special page on your blog that is designed only to sell the book – that’s it. Make sure that people can easily and quickly “get” who you are, even if this is their first taste of what you have to offer. Place attractive “buy it now” buttons that leap directly to your shopping cart in highly visible locations. If they want to know more, give them links back to your regular blog, which also has easy “buy it now” buttons in highly-visible locations.

7. Use affiliate marketing.

It was Dan Poynter, self-publishing guru and author of over 100 books who said rightly, “A bookstore is a lousy place to sell a book.” Make online selling your primary sales venue, and the way to do that is with an affiliate program organized through 1shoppingcart.com. (For additional info on how to actually implement this, see my other blog posts or forthcoming Cheat Sheet on the subject.)

8. Read John Kremer’s book, 1001 Ways to Market Your Books, Sixth Edition.

I just love this guy.

9. Setup an email signature.

Mine is linked to my RSS feed, so that whenever I send out an email, people can click on a cute little headline bar and read my latest blog posts. At the very least, setup one that links back to your landing page.

10. Tell your Mother about the book.

My Mom is great about bragging about her kids – yours could be your greatest marketing asset. But don’t stop there – the idea is to work your personal connections. It’s amazing who knows who in this world.

11. Expect to give away about 10% of your printed copies, or about 200 copies of your security-protected ebook as promotional copies.

Send these to reviewers in magazines, radio hosts you admire, other authors you admire, industry leaders, teachers, trainers, favourite Bloggers, etc. Just be sure that all promo copies are being given to someone appropriate in your niche – don’t give a cookbook to a political talk show host. Biggest thing to remember here is to empower your promo recipients: give them tools to help you sell, such as a link to leave a review on Amazon, your website, the link to purchase the eBook, and a link where they can signup as your affiliate.

12. Create 3 short talks of 20 minutes or less that concern your book’s topic, and present at local service club meetings.

Find these groups in your local directory, Chamber of Commerce, etc., and ask to speak to the person who organizes speakers for the group. When you present, don’t be too “salesey”, and be sure to give away a free somethingorother, which may not necessarily be your book. (I always give away chocolate, and tactfully leave the book on a nearby table offered for sale.)

13. Partner with another Author.

Don’t think of them as competition. (There is no such thing anymore, anyway.) Instead, if they offer a compatible product or service, you can target new markets together. Perhaps even form a small group of Authors – the more, the merrier!

14. Approach your local independent bookstore.

Small bookshops, rather than large corporate sellers, always appreciate an opener something like, “I’d love to create an event at your store that would draw in more foot traffic…”)

15. Get vinyl letters cut for your car.

Put your domain name (which is exactly the same as your book’s title, right?) on the back or side (or both) of your car. This is so cheap now that everybody should do it for almost any business.

16. Keep the car (above) clean!

17. Don’t hand out business cards – hand out postcards.

This was a great tip given to me years ago by a beloved business mentor. People toss business cards, but they keep attractive postcards that have content of real benefit to them. In addition, you have more space to tell your message, make a special offer, etc.

18. Write articles for eZineArticles.com.

These don’t have to be deep or complicated, but they do have to be good quality. Cap them at about 500 words for greatest readbility, and keep it tight. Read their submission guidelines here: http://ezinearticles.com/editorial-guidelines.html

Want more of these tips? Subscribe to my newsletter and you’ll get this stuff all the time. Click here to subscribe: http://eepurl.com/jQ-lf

 

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I am not a journalist.

May 17th, 2011 . by Peggy

I am a blogger.
I observe.
I rant.
I question.
I have definite opinions.
I have freedom of what I write and when.
I am an incurable romantic.
I don’t like everyone I write about, and it’s OK to let that show.
I would never ‘out’ someone without their permission.
I make inappropriate jokes.
I may choose to tell only half the story.
I don’t have to question my writing.
I run nothing past a higher authority.
I honour my conscience.
I am not always objective.
I don’t have to look good in front of a camera.
I don’t have to soften the message.
I write for an audience that feels the same as I do about freedom of information.
I go places that others would not dare.
I am a blogger.

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Journalists Vs. Bloggers: The Smackdown

October 16th, 2009 . by Peggy

Here’s a clip I took today during this morning’s keynote at BlogWorld, “The Death and Rebirth of Journalism”, with a panel consisting of (from left to right) Joanna Drake Earl (Current TV COO), Don Lemon (CNN News Host), Jay Rosen (Journalism Prof at NYU and Blogger), and Hugh Hewitt (Radio host and lawyer). The panel was moderated by  Brian Solis (Principal of FutureWorks).

In this video, Don Lemon is describing his feelings about social media vs. big media.

I should note that Mr. Lemon took a few major checks against the boards this morning at this panel discussion, and in my personal opinion, while some of them were rather tough, some of them were deserved. There were some heated moments when I turned my head to see if there were any security guards in the room. Being that I was sitting in the very front row, not 10 feet away from these panelists, I admit at times I felt rather uncomfortable, uncertain how far people might exercise their obviously strong feelings.

The essential points from the Blogger community amount to that they find traditional media to be slow, cumbersome, incomplete, and not without a certain amount of unjustified self-assurance that comes across as arrogance. The traditional media claims not to feel threatened by social media, and furthermore, they want to work with social media to form a more “horizontal” system of news gathering and distribution, rather than a “vertical” one. “Let us in the loop,..” they ask. (This particular comment inflamed the Bloggers in the audience, who felt that they were being asked to do the “dirty work” of data-gathering for journalists, rather than being treated like equals.)

Another heated point related to the issue of fact-checking. While it’s true that the gatekeepers of traditional media make judgements about what to report based on what they feel will be of greater interest to their viewers (read=have greated ad-selling potential), they also perform an essential task when reporting on events: fact-checking.

Lemon openly stated that of course the system could not be perfect, and it was simply not possible to fact-check every single bit of information before it makes the airwaves. Bloggers however, want it understood that while there are some “bad apples” who perpetuate misinformation, perhaps maliciously or more often simply out of ignorance, most bloggers consider themselves ethical enough to want only to report that which can be substantiated and which they know to be true and accurate.

The debate will doubtless rage on for decades more, but this was a very interesting event for me to witness. As I said, heated moments, which made for stimulating and thought-provoking conversation for the rest of the day.

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Going to BlogWorldExpo.com

October 10th, 2009 . by Peggy

I’m heading to Blog World Expo again this year for some educational fun. Speakers this year include Guy Kawasaki, Chris Brogan, and Chad Vader.

OK, I admit I’m most excited about seeing Chad, the internet video sensation created by Matt Sloan and Aaron Yonda. Everyone’s favourite grocery store night manager, Chad has captured more than my own heart. (Even George Lucas gave it his thumbs up.) My main mission at the Expo this year is to go to sessions about podcasting, and the brains behind Chad Vader’s viral video success are two that I wish to pick, if only from a safe distance, down there, in the audience. Perhaps I can sit next to Chad’s girlfriend Clarissa.

What’s your own podcasting mission for your enterprise? Lately, I’ve become more bipolar in my own approach, as I created a more polished set of videos for TheBookBroads.com’s YouTube channel, and yet streamlining my “joie de le moment” approach for certain cell-phone generated video content. (Soon to be released.) There are advantages to each approach, and I enjoy doing both.

I will be interviewed and interviewing all weekend at the show, October 15th through the 17th, from the show floor and various locations around Las Vegas. You’ll find any new videos at the Wizard of eBooks’ new YouTube channel at YouTube.com/wizardofebooks.

I’ll be happy to do my best to honour any special requests for specific blog or podcasting-related info from the show made via email, Twitter, or comments on this blog.

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Low-Carb Writer’s Snack

April 1st, 2009 . by Peggy

Let’s face it: writers don’t get a lot of exercise. I’ve discovered this recipe that makes a really crunchy and filling low-carb snack.

Low-Carb Crunchy Writer’s Snack Mix
(This makes enough to last at least a week or more.)
- 1 box Bran Buds
- 1 bag raisins
- 500g toasted sunflower seeds
- 500g toasted pumpkin seeds
- 250g toasted sesame seeds
- 1 Tablespoon sea salt

Toss in large airtight sealed jar, and spoon out when you feel munchy. Little goes a long way.

The raisins add some carbs, but they are more than offset by the bran, and seem to reduce cravings for sweet stuff. The seeds provide omegas and keep one from feeling hungry because they take a while to break down. If I eat about 3-4 Tablespoons of this before midday, I eat far less lunch.

Makes a nice snack with fried onions – just chop an onion, fry in EVOO, and add the mix to the pan. Can also add spices, curry powder mixes, other low-sugar dried fruit or nuts, chili flakes, bran flakes, flax seed, dried vegetable flakes, etc. Use it to top off soups or mix into tuna salad. Delish!

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More Blogging Tips for Authors

March 23rd, 2009 . by Peggy

Here’s a quick post about blogging for authors, written by Joanna Penn – she re-states everything I’ve been saying about effective blogging tips.

Link to: http://bookmarketingmaven.typepad.com/book_marketing_maven/2009/02/-top-10-tips-for-effective-blogging-for-authors.html

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Concrete and New Media

September 24th, 2008 . by Peggy

The next time a client tells me they’re not sure that blogging, social media marketing, and new media will work for their company, I want them to watch this video.

Bruce is not ashamed to stand in a booth at BlogWorldExpo and beg people to blog about him and his company. It apparently worked, because his booth was swarmed by people. In fact, I’m extremely proud to say that just as I was putting away my own video equipment form this interview, the anchorman from the local newscast in Las Vegas dropped in the booth to beg for a short interview. (Gee, did I get in before you guys? Awww, that’s too bad.)

What I was late on was finding out about the concrete company’s product, because it might have save me about 10k on the construction of my new house. Oh well: next time.

Play
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My First Day at BlogWorldExpo

September 20th, 2008 . by Peggy

Well, it’s a day of combined impressions. Firstly, this show is not nearly as big as I had anticipated. But secondly, it’s more meaningful for me than I had ever imagined.

Frankly, I can’t understand why a topic with an obvious application to almost every business on the planet can only book 62 booths into a trade show. However, the conference schedule and speaker roundup is 29 pages of the show schedule booklet. The sessions were what seemed to be more valuable to most of the attendees, including myself.

Of the three sessions that I attended today, the most valuable was the “Making Money with with Podcasts” session, which was a panel discussion with three hosts including JB Glossinger of MorningCoach.com.

Glossinger has much in common with my own finance guru, Mr. H, who is constantly telling me to “…just get it done now – stop thinking so hard.” Glossinger truthfully introduced himself as “different” after hearing the other two panelists speak about their own success by explaining that he’s “…not a marketing expert…”, nor does he want to “…make you think I know everything about business…” But, he’s got a very clear understanding of two key areas of online business: speed and guts.

In the early days of his business, Glossinger knew that he wasn’t doing everything right, but he knew that podcasting was a great vehicle, and that he needed to just keep doing it to gain an audience. He knew that he had to be consistent in his offerings, and he knew that he had to keep his promise to delivery a 15-minute daily morning podcast. When he started, nobody knew who he was, but he had the guts to keep going. Now, he’s a well-known speaker and trainer in not only the field of personal coaching, but also in the field of online business. He’s a bit confrontational, and I just loved that.

What’s equally interesting about Glossinger is that his income model is not based on what seems to feed most podcasters, which is banner ads, ClickBank, and (low-)paying content creation. Instead, Glossinger uses his free podcasts to build his profile, build his traffic and subscriber base, sell items off his site, increase his bookings for speaking, and fill his classes with people who already understand what they are there to learn. Yup, I’m on my way there.

More updates tomorrow, Sunday evening, plus some video that I shot today and will add to tomorrow.

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