Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Do we all have a book in us?

How many of you have heard the phrase "everybody has a book in them"? What does this really mean? We're all writers? No, it means we all have a story to tell. Living on this planet and making our lives happen creates our biographies or stories. The current trend in business is the memoir/business story. Many leaders have turned to telling others about their journeys to share life's lessons and experiences. When I read about another person's story and I see commonalities between their experiences and mine then I know I'm not alone. People like to learn and be entertained at the same time. Storytelling is a way to share that common ground with others.
One problem though ... maybe you're not a writer. Maybe you have a very compelling story to share, but writing wasn't your strongest skill. Maybe you are a fairly good writer, but you've never written more than an essay or business letter. You don't have the slightest idea where to begin your book writing process. That is where working with me pays off. You don't have to be a writer to tell your story. You can hire me as a ghostwriter.
What does that process entail and is it difficult? I work with each person around his/her needs. Ghostwriting can be done one of several ways:
Step 1: Develop the table of contents, which is really your book's map. It's good to put together the table of contents first. It organizes the book's content and gives you a firm place to begin.
Step 2a: Clients can start by simply writing out a version of what they think the first chapter should contain. I will go in and revise it and add content by doing additional research if necessary. Each chapter swaps back and forth between myself and the client. For example, while I'm working on chapter 1 the client can be working on chapter 2.
Step 2b: The other option is for me to develop sub-heads and questions under each sub-head. I will then have the client answer those questions. Once the questions are answered I write a narrative around the answers to make the entire chapter flow and make sense.
Step 2c: Clients can also record in their own voice their stories. I then transcribe those stories and write it so it makes sense.
So that is the ghostwriting process with the 3 optional approaches. Does that spark any ideas in you? If you want to open new doors to opportunities, I guarantee a book will do it for you. You'll have a chance to get media coverage, book reviews, book sales, and even be asked to be a speaker.
If you're ready to take that next step and tell you story, give me a call at 916-300-8012 or send an email to

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Is Traditional PR Dead?

Is traditional public and media relations dead?

The analysts are asking this question because of the rapid rise of social media as the main technique to start buzz and sell products. My answer is no, it's alive and well. Today, you've got more avenues than ever before to promote your books, products or services. The real answer is you've got to cross traditional public relations with trending social media techniques, but one without the other isn't the working formula.

Here is how it should go:
Step 1: Create a traditional media campaign and promote to the online, print and broadcast media.
Step 2: Set up interviews and promote book reviews.
Step 3: Take the results in the form of links and use social media to blast the results to your respective social media audiences.
Step 4: Use social media to promote to your respective audiences your own book promotions and excerpts.
Step 5: Engage your social media audience.
Traditional media campaign come together with social media campaigns to make both effectively work. Today the reality is you can't have one without the other - and that's the answer to the question.
Now go take on the day!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Failure: Falling down in business hurts

I was feeling particularly down the other day. Business hasn’t been going easily or smoothly these last few months. Then I began editing the forthcoming book by Stephen Marinaro with the working title “Brand ‘You’” and felt inspired and validated. Stephen makes some wonderful points about being an entrepreneur and the struggles. It made me realize I am not alone.
     I started to joke that I needed to write the book titled “Failure: what to do when you fall down in business.” The reason I wanted to be so blunt with the title was to help other entrepreneurs facing some of the major business issue I am facing. When I read Stephen’s book and the profiles included in our other book Habits and Attitudes, it made me feel better.
     No one wants to admit they’ve failed somehow or are facing some kind of failure. When it comes to social media we’re all about boasting about our successes. Don’t get me wrong I think a positive outlook is important. In reality, though, life doesn’t work off straight sunshine and shining, happy faces. Life can go wrong. Mistakes get made. It’s how we rise from the challenges that count.
     One thing I’ve realized is that patience plays a critical role in your rise from the ashes. I’ve often felt like these challenges just keep adding and piling on. I feel frustrated when I’m not making the kind of progress I want to make. Yet while you’re going through the lows just know that from the lows come the highs. You cannot reinvent yourself without first facing the process of rebuilding.
     Though for me as a highly educated and overall successful person I found it very difficult emotionally to realize I had some tough things to face and clean up. I wondered how someone like myself could fall on her face so hard. Did that make me less than I thought about myself? And that’s why I feel like a book that addresses what is more common than you realize would help other people.
     Why? Because as I said, no one is out there bragging how they messed up. So, when the chips are down you might feel alone and bad. You might think you’re the only who screwed up. Yet when you realize you are not the only one who faced problems and you’re not quite as misguided as you think then it’s comforting. Knowing some very successful people have pulled it out will help you.
     So, here I am. I am trying to rebuild business after some difficult times. I’ve even taken up driving Uber just to pay basic bills and keep my doors open. And I’m driving Uber with a positive attitude. I’ve met many great people doing it. It won’t be forever but at least whatever income I generate from driving I have the power to control. That is the difficult thing. You can’t always ensure sales will close. As an entrepreneur that can be harrowing when you don’t have dependable income. So driving Uber has taken off some of the stress.
     I hope my sharing on this blog makes someone out there feel a little better just like Stephen’s words in his forthcoming book made me feel better.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Tips to Freshen Up Your Writing

Today we’re going to discuss keeping your writing fresh and flowing. I have edit thousands of documents and books over the years. I see common mistakes made by new writers and sometimes even seasoned experts, too. Here are some down-and-dirty tips to improve your writing whether it is for creative or business projects.

Grammar and punctuation varies based on style usage. Did you know several different stylebooks exist? Yes, several choices are available, including AP Style, Chicago Style, Strunk and White, and Masters of English Arts. Here is the rub. Different styles make it seem like some usage is wrong. For example, if you’re an AP Style users then Chicago Style has conflicting rules. Here is a breakdown of how the stylebooks apply:

AP Style – used by the mainstream media and press. AP Style came from the media outlet the Associated Press. You’ll find AP is used for newspaper and magazines articles as the basis of journalistic rules.

Chicago Style – generally used for technical documentation and workbooks. It has uses applied to things like charts, graphs and lists. It also uses commas differently. Some online content providers use it, too.

Strunk and White – taught mostly in higher education English classes as the basis for term papers and essays. Mostly students and academics to keep their work consistent use it.

Masters of Language Arts (MLA) – definitely an academic stylebook used for things like a thesis or books.

The insider tip: whatever stylebook choice you make, apply it consistently. Don’t change your mind halfway through a document and decide to apply a different style. The end result will be the “appearance” of mistakes. Consistency in writing plays an important part in keeping it clean. While someone may not agree with your style choice, if you’ve kept it consistent they cannot say you are wrong. If you choose to create a stylebook for your publication, which many books and magazines do, then keep it consistent. No one can argue with conscious choice to do something a particular way.

Redundancy is a problem for new writers. Redundant word choices and or saying the exact same thing you said two paragraphs earlier or even three sentences before. I am working on a manuscript right now for a new author who has a following established, which is why I accepted the book. The author’s weakness is restating either entire paragraphs or sentences over again. The restatement leads to an unorganized train of thought that doesn’t flow but repeats. Don’t restate more than once. Don’t use the same word over and over again. A Thesaurus should be handy at your desk at all times or use the one in the word processor.

Insider tip: the quickest way to find out how many times you’ve repeated a word? Use your Find tool and look for the word you’ve repeated. Every time it comes up, use the Thesaurus to find a new word choice.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Targeting Your Promotion Strategies for Success

So as you’re promoting your product or book, do you know what is your metric? Obviously the key is sales, right? So, it’s good to know when you do something like a radio show or you’ve received a book review, what were the sales figures produced? 3L Publishing is different when it comes to royalties. In traditional publishing you don’t get to hear the sales figures on a regular basis, which can make it difficult to know if your methods are working. When you work with me my royalties are distributed about two months behind and you receive the sales figures.

Let me give you some examples. Douglas Stearns did a few radio show interviews. Not all of them “paid off” as well as the others. I was able to share his sales figures on the fly. So Doug knew what methods were working.

The question (and it’s the super secret sauce to the burger) is how do you identify what “might” (meaning nothing is certain) pay off? Here are some important tips.

Identify your niche. Now perhaps you have a general fiction book and you’re thinking, “I don’t really have a niche.” Every product, every book has a niche. You have to identify it. In Doug’s case his niche is science fiction, but much deeper than that his book’s theme address questions of alien life. He has drilled down to: science fiction and aliens. Then it addresses one more thing: spirituality. So, now he has three areas to pursue: science fiction, aliens and spirituality.

Make yourself the go-to expert. Now you just wrote a book on something like aliens, are you really an expert? Yes. The media will see you as an expert. You researched that topic enough to write a book about it, right? Don’t shy away from holding the title of “subject matter expert” because you feel your expertise lacks in the area. As a SME (what they call you in the industry) you can be frequently called upon by media as a go-to source of information, which gives you an opportunity to continually be interviewed on the same subject and even on the same show. Have you ever seen “regulars” who are constantly being invited on media shows? They got asked to return because they’ve become SMEs on their subject.

Identify media that targeted toward your niche. So, I am pitching Habits and Attitudes by Lance Casazza. It’s a spiritual, self-help, and motivational and inspirational book. I identified potential media sources to pitch. I’ll be looking for queries for sources looking for life coaches, relationship experts, business success experts, sources for entrepreneurs and others. I know the niche and then I need to find media interested in the niche. General media and news sources will have need for particular topics while magazines like Psychology Today would make an ideal source.

So the key take aways from this article:

Identify niche + become an expert + identify niche media = Press Coverage = Sales!!!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Writing Books: It's a Jungle Out There

Do you ever feel wishy-washy when it comes to your writing? I am constantly coming up with ideas and thinking they’re great ones. I’ll start something and just stop. I find I often lose confidence in an idea or become distracted by other projects. In my world, I am trying to hustle and make money. So when a paid opportunity arises, I always take it. Unfortunately, I then find my own writing falling to the wayside.

My other issue is losing confidence in my finished work. Oh, now I know my new novel The Abused is a great read. My focus group comments were all positive. My sensitivity comes from concerns about the marketplace. I lose confidence it will sell. As a publisher I’m keenly aware of how competitive the book market has become and saturated with many self-publishers. It takes a lot of effort to move a book into the audience’s hands. Therefore, I am nervous to spend money unless I know I’ll have time to promote it.

Are you feeling my points? As an author we face many challenges. First, we have to get our books written and then we have to get them promoted and then we clap our hands together and pray. Then we have to sit back and hear the results. Reviewers make their comments and readers make their statements. Next, we hope those reviews are positive and we actually see sales results. And you can have all of those factors come together – great writing and fabulous reviews – and then what? Believe it or not, your book can still run the risk of gathering dust on a shelf somewhere.

Yet even with all of those obstacles, we writers don’t give up. And this is why if you aren’t passionate about what you do, don’t waste your time. Getting into the author game with a singular goal to write a best seller is probably the greatest defeating purpose. Writing a book because you either (a) want to support your business or (b) feel passionate about your work and have a great story to share means whatever the results you will be infinitely satisfied.

When authors come to me and their only goal is to see their name in “lights” I send them away. Of course as their publisher I want to shoot for the big dream too. But as you’ve just read we authors face a myriad of different variables on our road to success. Sometimes you have to dig in and dig deep and prepare the big guns – your time, persistence, focus and most importantly passionate desire. Without those ingredients you’ll find the entire book publishing experience a potential letdown.

In this business the words “overnight success” are the biggest fallacy of all. I don’t know one author (not even the most successful ones) whose work became an overnight success. In fact, I don’t know anyone whose work became an overnight success. What happens on the road to the so-called “next day” is typically a whole lot of blood, sweat and tears. Just look at some of the most famous names in publishing. All of them have a story to tell, and none of them brag about that “one night” it all happened where they woke up the next day rich and famous.

The only people I know who end rich overnight are Lottery winners. And that’s my .2 cents for the day.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Polish Up Your Writing Skills

I thought today it would be fun to talk about my least favorite things in prose that bog down both story and readability. Inexperienced authors tend to do this. Can you guess what it is? Probably not because I’m being super vague LOL … hey, maybe that’s it! Being too vague. Nope, but that’s a discussion for another day. This habit drives me, your intrepid editor, crazy: too much attention to unimportant minutia or details.

I saw this discussion on one of my social media groups. The question: should you describe someone’s clothes in a scene? A very good question and the answer is: yes, but don’t go too far. Actually, that answer applies to all setting descriptions – yes, but don’t go too far. The “too-far” part of the answer is the minutia. When describing people’s appearances, for example, it’s good to be straightforward to give an idea of the person’s looks and how he/she comes across in a scene. So, let me give you two examples.

Bad: She was attractive when she wasn’t in her stern counselor mode. Her medium-length brown hair hung past her shoulders and had golden highlights and a few stray strands curled up. She wore a little makeup and base with a hint of pink blush and clear-colored lip balm with her eyelashes tipped in mascara. She didn’t seem to care about making herself up too – she felt the inner was more important than the outer.

Good: She was attractive when she wasn’t in her stern counselor mode. Her medium-length brown hair hung just past her shoulders, but she always kept it in a low ponytail. She wore little if any makeup, and she didn’t seem to care about outer stuff anyway.

Now let me break it down. Why is the first one overdone? Read them both and ask yourself, “Did I really need all those details to understand Sandra’s personality? Did I need to know she wore base and blush and tipped her lashes in mascara? Or did the scene work just fine to know she “wore little if any makeup” and that was enough to tell you that this woman doesn’t obsess over looks? The point in that description is what? To know how she applies mascara? Or to know that she’s more concerned with inner work on one’s self? The latter is the answer, and the latter is achieved in the brief description.

Want to learn a great technique? When I was a junior in college I took this great English class. We did a fabulous exercise. Take a sentence and keep cutting it down without robbing its meaning.  Here we go…

Her medium-length brown hair hung just past her shoulders, but she always kept it in a low ponytail.

Her brown hair hung past her shoulders, but she kept it in a ponytail.

I’m not proposing you take all of the “color” out of your writing, but this exercise will help you sharpen your writing. I like and encourage writers to shortcut descriptions by using specifics. Using specific references will pull the reader right to the vivid idea. For example, instead of saying “soda” use “Pepsi”. Most of us know and relate to what is a Pepsi. Want to make a point that your character watches her/his weight? Make it “diet” Pepsi. Now I’ve not only said what the character drinks, but something about their weight concerns.

Those three little tips – cutting down the descriptions, editing out extra words, and adding specific details – will instantly take your writing to the next level. Whether you’re an author or just write letters, my tip about cutting out words will also impress your co-workers and boss. Easy-to-read and understand and straightforward writing comes across more professional. As I suggested, try it. Take a few sentences and ask yourself about each word this one question:

Do I really need THAT word to make my point? If the answer is no then cut it.

And that’s Friend-Os is English class with Michelle. Do you want to learn everything I’ve been taught between my formal education and years of hands-on experience? Hire me as your book coach. It’s private lessons in writing. You can call me today at 916-300-8012 or reply to this email.

Happy writing!!!!