Friday, August 26, 2016

Business for the Greater Good and Success


Today’s blog we’re going to discuss doing things for the sake of business. I recently ran into a moral and ethical crossroads. Do I do a project that a writer owes me when I don’t feel comfortable with this writer’s moral and ethical behavior? Well, to give you some important information, the project has been long paid for and is beyond overdue.

My personal feeling was instantly no. I didn’t want to help someone whose behavior was reprehensible. Problem is the money had been spent. If I did the project I would have the chance to recoup the losses. A moral and ethical question for sure.

In business we will run across these dilemmas. Actually in life we will run across these issues, too. I felt the question was a test for me to approach as a businesswoman and from a strictly financial point of view. Letting my personal feelings run my business only works so far. Sometimes you need to look at your business as a business and what’s best for it. Of course what is best for me as a person matters so I don’t sweep that sort of thing away.

The key was to find a solution that I could live with. I had before me an opportunity to recoup my losses. Well, I had several opportunities to regain the investment. Here is how I looked at everything. 3L Publishing’s business model has been in decline with the competition we’ve faced from lowered margins and do-it-yourself products that marginalize our value. With things in the industry in the middle of flux with the eBook revolution having a heavy impact, I’ve been looking out ahead to make changes. If it’s not working anymore time to fix it.

I had to step back and examine my business management. I do think it’s personal when you’re making people’s dreams come true. On that level, I care very deeply about our authors’ successes. When it comes to keeping the business alive and thriving my methods haven’t worked. I’ve been too casual I think about holding the line on business is business.

Sometimes you have to step back and have that “keep-it-real” moment. Sometimes you have to look at the bottom line – and that line here at 3L Publishing is about keeping the doors open and bills paid.

At that point I realized my past best practices weren’t working. We’ve been treading water now for about two years. Time to switch it up. Time to look at business decisions through a different lens.

So, I decided to go ahead and seize the opportunities. Running a business using the idea that I CAN cut off my nose to spite my face is a fail point – not to mention an unattractive look LOL. Putting it squarely as this is the way to recoup some heavy losses, but switch up the management of the projects seemed to make sense. The question of whether or not I like the author gets thrown out.

The real question is: Do I think the book will sell and make back the money already lost. The answer is yes.

Look! That’s the answer plain and simple. When running a business or promoting your book you should just keep it simple. Money is the power to stay in business and continue to make authors’ dreams come true.

I made my decision based on the greater good.

As leaders and creative people sometimes the answer is really that straightforward.

So go conquer your own greater good.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Publishing Myth Busters: Why I published my own books...


I have increased my outreach with this newsletter is my pedal-to-the-metal tactic to build and grow my business 3L Publishing (www.3LPublishing.com). My commitment is to continue to make not only my dreams a reality, but your dreams come true, too. I've recently been marketing my way through an uphill battle to stay competitive in a business being diluted by self-publishing tools and gimmicks that mislead people into devaluing the publishing profession. As a result, I have to market against cheesy self-publishing gimmicks and K-Mart prices. When I saw on my Music Choice channel that a cheese ball ad was running about selling publishing solutions, I groaned. Now as a professional with years of experience, education and skill I'm supposed to go up against $500 publishing packages that are like putting the creative process on an assembly line and expecting something creative, unique and professionally done.
 
Just so you know we don't publish publications, papers or documents like a machine produces a widget or a gumball machine dispenses bubble gum. I suppose if you want a gumball for a book or document that's doable, too, just not by 3L Publishing.
 
So in my ongoing "Publishing Myth Busters" series of articles, I want to continue to present my arguments against the article I read by the never-been-published writer who attacked our services. Now that I've reviewed log-lines and why they're actually necessary and the difference between publishing services vs. tools, I want to touch on background and experience.
 
One of this writer's criticisms was aimed at the notion that only 3L had published my books and she gave a small nod about my screenplay having aired on Showtime like this was some kind of no-brainer anyone could do. Let's start with why all of my books (not counting my hundreds of magazine articles, white papers, manuals, and documents that were published by others) have been published by my own company.
 
After 20+ years working for other companies and writing hundreds of articles for magazines such as Comstock's, Sacramento Magazine, Government Technology, Converge and many others, I decided I wanted to write a book. First, I didn't become a self-appointed publisher. I had work my way up at other companies from editor to publisher. Yes, I had also worked in Hollywood and wrote and sold a script that got made into a movie, and another script that got optioned. So, I wasn't coming at the idea of doing my first book green.
 
I decided to publish my first book Second Bloom independently. Why? Because why not? I actually knew how to do it. I knew what I wanted to say and how to make it look professional. I wanted to keep the lion's share of my royalties, etc. Now if I were an inexperienced writer who didn't already have the publishing chops I might have written a book proposal and shopped the book.
 
The critical reception received by Second Bloom is what launched 3L Publishing. Other authors asked me to publish their books. So, I ask you this simple question:

Why would I ask another publisher to publish my subsequent books? I'm not talking about vanity press here. I'm talking about basic common sense.
For an inexperienced writer to suggest my credibility was in question because I use my own publishing company to publish my books is really ridiculous. Now perhaps her point would be a little more valid if 3L only published my books, but that's not the case. We've published over 100 books in the last seven years. And while I wish I were that prolific I am not. I didn't write them all, but I surely edited them all.
 
Have we had books climb the ranks on Amazon? Yes, many times. Chocolate Flowers went to no. #1 on print and Kindle; Fertile Kitchen Cookbook did a sizable showing to eventually age out; A Feast at the Beach did very well on its Amazon ranking in its respective categories where I believe it went to #3; and that's just a small sampling of some of our successes. Yes, books age out and their ranking drop appropriately. Yet the writer also suggested our books hadn't sold well, and went on to say our books didn't win that many awards. Again, not true but I'm not going to get into a listing of the awards. You can see the front page of the 3L site (www.3LPublishing.com) that shows the honorable mentions and awards.
 
I hope this helps clarify and dispel some myths and ideas being spread by someone who really has no idea what she's talking about. I'm a "keep-it-real" person. I'm the first to admit what I don't know. I always joke to be a good editor "know what you don't know and look it up." When it comes to publishing ... well, I know what I know - and that's how to get it done.
 

 
 
 
 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Dispelling Publishing Industry Myths - Self-Publishing Tools vs. Publishing Services


As you know from last week I began to debunk some of the erroneous information some inexperienced writers spread around. Last week I discussed log-lines and why they’re necessary. This week I want to get into publishing industry costs. The woman who told everyone log-lines weren’t necessary is the same woman who is telling people they can get their books converted to eBooks for a mere $37 and that 3L Publishing book publishing packages were on the “high side”.

Let’s grab the $37 eBook conversion cost by the “3” and the “7” and call it insane. No, you cannot get your book (if it’s book size anyway) converted even in India for $37. Suggesting our conversion fees are expensive begs for a professional comparison. Please visit the Bowker website (https://www.myidentifiers.com/self_publisher). Here you’re going to see a number of costs for services including eBook conversion TOOLS. Well, actually all of the package prices are for TOOLS NOT services. At roughly half the cost of my basic 3L Publishing SERVICES you can do it all on your own (we mean "converting" it yourself), and Bowker, which is the most reputable ISBN and bar-code provider, will sell you TOOLS. Using these tools and hopefully your professional expertise as a writer and editor and conversion expertise you can self-publish and convert your own book. Now bear in mind you will also have to set up all of your own sales channels to sell your books, too.

The uphill battle I fight on a continuous basis is educating people about the difference between being a product provider (AKA tool provider) and a service provider (editing, writing, graphic design and publishing). Even the cost of the tools isn’t inexpensive, as you’ll see the packages on Bowker range from $350 to $750. Here’s the rub (and as my life partner Chris jokes): “Don’t get it twisted.”

If you want services, skill and expertise, you’re not going to get that custom and personal attention for the cost of a software program. We’re not an off-the-shelf product you can buy and upload into your computer. I am a professional editor, writer and publisher. Comparing 3L Publishing services to products sold to help you self-publish isn’t an equivalent.

Expecting publishing products to cost the same as publishing services is akin to buying a bottle of Windex and expecting the maid service to cost the same as the bottle.

You can see by this comparison the flawed thinking. Yet I come up against this kind of thinking all of the time. As a professional that can be difficult. People don’t understand the value of the service because so much misinformation and confusion exists about today’s publishing. When I come across writers like this woman who arrogantly posts on the Internet in a chat group that this is “the way it is” when they don’t know what they’re talking about my job is to educate. I have to through my own educational services like this newsletter help writers understand the flawed comparison.

When you self-publish you’re doing it all yourself! Packages sold on Bowkers are designed to help you do it YOURSELF. 3L Publishing is not a self-publisher. We’re a hybrid publishing service NOT a product.

Like any professional service it requires education, knowledge, skill and talent. These abilities come at the cost of an education, time and resources. When you visit a professional like a doctor or dentist you expect to pay for all of those skills. Hiring my team of experts to publish your book through our hybrid program is a professional service. Our costs are competitive and comparable to others. We can’t publish an entire book on the cheap. As Forrest Gump might say, “Cheap is as cheap does.” Do you want an award-winning book (several of our books have won awards) or do you want to look like you have a “do-it-yourselfer”?

Friday, August 19, 2016

How to Pitch Your Book

So, I always try to avoid reading stuff about 3L Publishing (www.3LPublishing.com) on Google searches. Every once in a while I will do a check-up, and ran across this scathing little chat about my company. While I do think all press is good press, this article and the source of it irritated me. It's always that one writer who thinks he or she knows it all, but his/her resume demonstrates they are fresh off the writing boat. Ignorance is not bliss when someone is acting like a subject matter expert and (excuse my roughness here) talking out their behinds ... LOL ... that made me laugh. It's good to be the CEO and not be censored when you want to call a spade a spade. If I were working a corporate job never in a million years could I say what I think needs to be said. It would be (a-hem) sanitized.
 
I'm going to start with some of the mythology this woman is spreading. The point is not to give her message momentum, but to answer the question. If one person thinks this way then it's my job as the experienced publisher to dispel the myths. Here we go:
 
I don't need a log-line to pitch my book to a publisher. It was funny because when this woman made that suggestion and then later left the meeting, the rest of the writers sat in bemused amazement over her assertion. She was stubborn in her assertion, too. So readers, yes you DO need a log-line. Want to call it a brief summary? Okay, we can call a log-line a "brief summary" if that clarifies anything for you. Here is what a publisher DOESN'T want to hear when you pitch:
 
Q: What is your book about?
A: I don't know.
 
Okay, now you're probably at least smiling about that one. I swear on my kids I've heard that answer. In my case, I'm patient and I'll sit through a phone call or pitch and try to help the writer who gave me that answer. In the bigger publishing business if you're lucky enough to get an agent or even a publisher on the line and that's your answer ... well ... let's just say a "disconnect" noise might be heard on your phone - that or a blank stare and a firm "next".
 
What I commonly hear when I ask writers to tell me about their books is a lot of stumbling and thinking aloud.
 
Tip: You don't need to tell me your entire story. I just need in 15 to 30 words a brief summation of your book.
 
Example: My next novel The Abused is about nine addicts who go to rehab only to have one of them start killing the others.
 
As you can see, it's brief and to the point and tells the listener exactly what the book is about. Did you know that a great tagline could get your book requested immediately? Yes! I've discovered that I know I have a hot property when I can come up with a succinct and intriguing log-line. When I give The Abused pitch, people's eyes light up. The interest is immediately high.
 
What happens when you give a "limp noodle" tagline pitch? As my life partner Chris says, "Wah, wah, wah." I love it when he says it that way. A weak pitch leads to weak results or more like no results. What happens when a writer gives a weak pitch? I usually watch the writer stumble and try to next tell me the WHOLE story to make up for the bad pitch.
 
In a successful pitching style it goes like this:
 
Pitch: Nine addicts go to rehab and one of them starts murdering the others.
Audience: Wow! That's interesting. Tell me a little more...
 
The "tell-me-more" part is when you have an expanded opportunity to share more about your book. Yet you still don't want to give a 30-minute dissertation on your book's entire story. When you get to Part B: Tell me more, be prepared with your 30- to 50-word summation. You don't need to tell the publisher or prospective reader the ENTIRE book down to each character - that's overkill.
 
If you've got them on the hook don't blow it by telling them too much and losing their interest.
 
Whenever writers start giving me the blow-by-blow accounting of the story and characters I find my mind wandering off. Unless it downright scintillating, which nine times out of 10, it's not I've gone from "Wow! That's great!" to "Ho-hum! What's for dinner?"
 
Keep it simple. Create intrigue. Make them say, "No wait! I don't want to hear anymore. I want to read the book."
 
When you've gotten a publisher or even a reader (because you will be pitching readers to buy your book) to the trigger point, that's enough. You've gone far enough. Overkill means exactly what it sounds like - you've "killed" your audience's interest.
 
FYI, the 30-second elevator pitch is how you pitch business in general. If you know how to create an elevator pitch then use that knowledge for your own book. I get asked all of the time how to write a great log-line. If you've written a book I'm assuming you're a pretty creative person. So ... get creative.
 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Power of Niche Books

In publishing land the summer heats up since most people want to sell their books, products or services for the holiday season. We just go the Harris Estate up on press and next up "Tails" from the Trail goes on press, too. Smile Power is wrapping up too. I've been encouraging author Ramin Bahram to get Smile Power printed in time for World Smile Day, which is Oct. 7.
 
Since we're on the subject of smiling, I wanted to share how much I learned in working on Smile Power about the "power" of a smile. You have absolutely no idea (or maybe you do) how the mere act of smiling can impact so many aspects of your life, from your health to your wealth, and from your relationships to your career. I never thought about the power of a smile. I just smiled, as I'm certain most of you do as well. It was fascinating to find out that while disparate research has been done on smiling there are really no books out there on the subject. So, Ramin's idea to write about smiling is brilliant.
 
Another really interesting project I just took on is Evil Information by Steve Ruport. I have an information technology background having worked on digital content and white papers for technology groups for years. I am book coaching Steve through the process. I found the entire thesis of his book quite fascinating and yet frustrating at the same time. The points he makes about the misuse and potential abuse of personal and professional information is relevant, especially with the proliferation of ever-invasive technology. So this project is going to be a winner.
 
Let's talk about niche books for a moment. Do you want to know why some niche books are often over the long-term winners? If you happen to find an original or fresh idea like smiling you're in the market for overall sales. Why? Niche books don't have much competition in their categories if any at all. When I mentioned the subject of smiling not being covered, it means that Ramin's book is going to be one of a few. So when someone does want to find out more information on this subject, whose book is going to stand out? Whose book is the one they will buy usually by default.
 
Niche books have staying power and generate long-term sales. They are not likely to become instant best sellers (although you can't rule that out either), but they will continue to sell over the long run because of the lack of other books in the marketplace. Your goal should be to find something that isn't covered overall and then write on that subject. Every time someone searches for that subject matter, what happens? Your book being the sole book on the topic will be one of a few choices. Fewer choices means yours is likely the winner.
 
Several of our niche books have had long-term staying power. What does this translate to? Habitual royalty checks being written each month to the author. In the big picture it also means ongoing passive revenue much like residuals. If you have a lot of passive revenue in the long term it can add up to a lot of money. I personally feel passive revenue comes under the old adage:
 
Work smarter not harder.
 
Any strategy that enables you to work smarter not harder is a winner. So, look for a great topic in a niche area. Long-term, ongoing sales win the game. You really don't want just a flash in the pan.
 
No go work smarter!!!
 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The One Bad Apple Policy

Here is what I've realized. If a newsletter is one of your favorites, it could land in your email box every day and you would be thrilled. Yes, I am stating the obvious, but then again I never thought about it like a favorite pillow or favorite food. I've always been aware that the word "spam" and First Word weren't a good combination, so I might want to avoid activities that could link the two concepts. Then I thought, "Why lead a business from a place of fear?"
 
Stop and think about that for a moment. Hit pause! Yes, and now what do you think? Do you find yourself worried about everything you do in business getting a negative or positive reaction? It hit me that I'm constantly worried about the criticism than the accolades.
 
Let me give you an example of why I found myself wallowing in this mindset. When you're doing something right and everybody is happy, most people don't say anything. They're happy to receive your newsletter or information. But as the old cliché goes: one bad apple spoils the batch.
 
Recently Meetup sent me the most ridiculous email saying that "members" were complaining about my articles being sent out through the group. Keep in mind I founded and maintain the group activities. The offending articles were all related to education and writing tips. The only plug for 3L Publishing said if you wanted more information to contact me.
 
So here is my reaction to this nonsense: when you say "members" do you really mean one particular "hater"? Why would writers not want FREE information to support their success? My assumption is one person didn't like it and complained. Therefore, it went from all of the quiet members (1,000 + of them) now being deprived of valuable information. See, the one bad apple theory. Furthermore, how does one construe information-based content and education as Spam? I equate Spam to blatant advertisements and nonstop Cialis and Viagara advertisements.
 
What is the net result? Everyone loses based on one whiney member who somehow construed an article titled "15 Great Tips to Market Your Book" as Spam. I soon realized the great "Spam Avoidance" complaint was the reason I was avoiding sending out information to my audience. The label of "spammer" was causing me such anxiety that I wasn't marketing and providing the kind of rich and important information to help business leaders and authors succeed.
 
And here we are ... do you avoid doing things for your business, book or life because you're trying to avoid something? What one whiney member of a group I founded and have ran for years shouldn't be able to push my buttons (or for that matter Meetup's buttons) to stop a valuable service. Meetup's general policy shouldn't be based on "whining winning over value". People are going to complain. Some people are generally unhappy campers so no amount of "love" can clear up a case of bad attitude.
 
It matters that you care. You should care, it's your life and business, right? It's when caring goes over the line and turns into general anxiety that prevents you from living your best life. Believe me. I'm no expert. What I have learned without a doubt these last few years is to set my own course and go for it. Caring too much about being the "ultimate Spammer" vs. serving my audience and fulfilling my own vision is a sad comment on personal neurosis.
 
I'm 50-years old. My mantra needs to shift from caring too much about negative reactions and promoting and reinforcing positive outcomes. It's time to quit caring about something that isn't even based on sound reasoning. If I had sent out articles that were either offensive or blatant ads then I would see the point. But labeling valuable information designed to help others in a negative context deprives everyone based on one bad apple. Does that make sense? Is that a good way to run a business. One person doesn't like it so I quit?
 
When you put it that way, it seems ridiculous, doesn't it? Meetup, your so-called "spam" policy is ridiculous! And with that in mind, here is today's lesson learned:
 
Always do what you know in your heart is the right thing. The right thing can never be the wrong thing.
 
Now Friend-Os go take on the last half of the week. And I hope First Word is that one newsletter you look forward to reading - at least that is my goal!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Harris Estate by Stacey Cotter Coming Soon

Pre-Sale link to be posted.
A family mystery unfolds deep in the heart of Texas as a grisly discovery is made in the farmhouse she has inherited. As the truth unravels so does the woman’s sense of identity and self.

Leah Murphy arrives in the small town of Oakdale, Texas with the intention of selling the Harris Estate, a property left to
her by her Uncle Kent Harris. She soon learns about hidden family secrets buried in the dark reaches of the decaying
old farmhouse. The discovery on the property sparks an investigation with local authorities, which opens up Pandora’s box. Leah’s entire identity falls apart as her family becomes a jigsaw puzzle of new pieces rearranged and fit back together. During these trials and tribulations, her marriage is tested, her desires are amplified, and she has decisions to make that will affect everyone she loves.

Harris Estate is a cryptic and intriguing story of betrayal,
buried secrets, and a woman’s life come undone.