Saturday, July 30, 2011

I am Blogger Hear Me Roar!

A blog is an important part of your platform when your building a business or you're an author trying to establish a platform. Your blog is your point of view. Some people don't understand what to use their blog for. I've seen all sorts of misuses of blogs that are sometimes funny or just amusing. Here are some ways NOT to use your blog:

The Random, The Meaningless and the Mundane. To take random and meaningless photos of your dog eating does not a blog make. This kind of blog falls into the who-cares catalog, but some writers mistakenly believe that they must post every day, which is true, but that those posts can be absolutely meaningless. My dog ate dog food is not a blog post. I ate French fries ... not meaningful. I'm bored and I have to do this ... nope not that either. Unless you're a famous celebrity -- and even that is sketchy -- your random ramblings about your favorite coffee, not scintillating.

The Mono-Syllable Blog. A few years back, blog "preachers" used to teach people to post one-line blogs just to include content. These days, people who post a one-line blog will not attract an audience. Now you're competing with video and audio and other blogs loaded with fabulous information. Here is the real deal. If you're too distracted or busy to properly blog, don't blog at all. The blog world is full of competitors who do have meaningful information to share. Readers will spend their time on those blogs, and not your one-sentence, half attempt to throw up meaningless messages that no one cares about. So commit to your blog. Take your time and write useful information.

Blogging Because My Mommy Said So. The message behind building a platform is to blog to build your platform, your viewpoint, your message to the world. Reluctant bloggers will not commit and spend the necessary time to build a powerful blog loaded with a wealth of good information. If you're not all in and ready to build a great blog, then don't include the blog as your platform tool. Do something else that brings value to your view point. Maybe spend more time on social media instead and time on your fan page where it's OK to post only a few lines at a time.

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Tone and a Style for Your Audience

A recent faux pas made me think of this blog. I wrote an article for After the Manuscript and because of the turmoil this week, I inadvertently sent my First Word version, which isn't the same as what I would formally submit for publication. In First Word, my readers have met me at one time or the other so I can unleash my playful, sarcastic side; but unless you know me, you might construe that one as borderline. I had, in fact, written an appropriate version for the San Francisco Book Review that was professional and straightforward -- maybe just not as funny. The lesson is, there is a right tone for the right audience. You should always consider your readership when you write anything. Who are you trying to appeal to? Whether I am writing a novel or a non-fiction book, I keep tone and style in mind for the audience I am speaking to. Always write to a specific audience even if you have to imagine them in the theatre seats listening to you. If you miss your target audience/market, you will not be able to position your manuscript or article for that matter correctly on the market. That is called "market positioning" and it's your bull's eye of who you want to reach and sell to. Not hitting the target correctly can derail your sales. And no one wants that.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Pushy Sales - Bad Idea

"Here just try some!" "Take my product." "Let me get you some literature." "Oh, take my card too." Those are four sentences that no one wants to hear. Pushy sales no matter how pretty the package have the opposite effect of what you want. Last night while networking, my group of gal pals experienced the pushy sales technique from this vendor. These folks were non-stop. They practically chased us around the room, shoving product and literature in our faces. And here is what we all griped about when we got in the car, "Did you get a load of that vendor?" No one was impressed. Truth is, the vendor products were probably excellent, but it wasn't the product that killed the sale. When you are selling products or services, be very careful and never do the following:

1. Desperately chase me around the room.
2. Demand I try your product by shoving it in my face or insisting I put my hand out so you can apply it.
3. Shove literature at me when I did not ask for it.
4. Keep showing up and trying to talk to me even when I've clearly moved on.
5. Just keep talking and rambling until you look nothing more than desperate and overly eager.

None of these approaches work. They earn you a reputation as a pain in the ass. People will make negative comments about you behind your back. And if they do buy something, it won't be because they liked or wanted it, but because they wanted you to go away.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Truth About Three Degrees of Separation

I am finding a good laugh hard to come by these days, but I really need some serious chuckles. When I did First Word Radio the other day, we had two great interviews -- one with an actress and exotic dancer Kendall Lake from my all-time favorite show True Blood. Kendall was a sweetheart and very kind in regards to my family situation. I was super excited to dish on the show with her. In a twist of fun irony, I had tried to "friend" my favorite True Blood actor Alexander Skarsgârd on Facebook. I wrote him a note and laughed that he should friend me because you never know when our paths might cross -- turns out they sort of did. I told Kendall to tell him he should have friended me -- and she thought it was funny and said she would (as if he really cares), but in other more amusing tales. I read his interview with GQ magazine while we were in Alaska, and if you read the interview, then you know Skarsgârd loves to whale watch. Well, I was actually, and this is funny, whale watching on the deck of the cruise ship when I read the story. I couldn't help but chuckle when Skarsgârd sarcastically expressed his disappointment over not seeing any whales and repeats the captain's statement that at least there was "bird activity." The sarcastic "bird activity" comment became the catch phrase for our trip. We laughed about our own constant "bird" sightings and after about the 20th bald eagle sighting, we added that joke too. So, I told Kendall to share with Skarsgârd, he had created a whole new phrase to be appropriately used when on trips, say, like a safari when you expect to see lions and all you see are birds ... or, of course, in this case whale watching where you see nothing more than a fish jump and a seagull fly overhead. So what's the moral to the story ... well, truly in this strange world we live in, you are, in fact, about three degrees of separation from people you want to connect with. Since I'm a screenwriter (and PS our new script Beauty School got a big thumbs up from an A-list producer and another major producer is looking at it now ... and since I spoke to these folks, it's true and not a liar, liar pants on fire situation), you do not know when your paths will cross -- even with a famous actor. And what Sonja Fisher ultimately says is that you really are about three degrees of separation from someone who can help you achieve your dream. In Skarsgârd's case, you never know. I might have a script he loves ... and there you have it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The New Normal

Let me say that after getting hit by an emotional truck last week, I am trying to get back to work. I am always so enthusiastic about everything and love my life -- but John's passing just took the wind out of my sails in an unexpected way. I just feel like someone walked by and forgot to pick up the brick they dropped on my head. Unfortunately, now I know how families feel when a member dies and the cause of death is a mystery. I guess that is the piece of closure we all need. Of course, the unexpected nature of the situation is also difficult since it came out of nowhere. Then my sweetheart of a husband noted that the Alaskan State Trooper reality show was involved in the search, and he did a pre-emptive strike to ensure my family's tragedy does not end up a segment on a reality TV show. I had an even bigger pit in my stomach when I realized the graphic nature of that show. It seems to me privacy should be respected, especially when asked. Well, I will slowly get back to feeling like my old energetic self. Actually, lessons are to be learned for authors who write true stories and here are some pointers.

1. If you write about your family, make sure you get sign off and I don't mean verbal. Use a release form and have the people mentioned in the story sign off. You never know when family members will be upset and sue. You don't want a lawsuit. The book business is hard enough.

2. If you use photos, make sure you have credited the photographer and had a release form signed from all of the people's images used. Another layer of paperwork, yes -- and another layer of prevention.

3. If you cannot get sign off, then you need to change the names and make sure the person cannot identify that person as being him or herself. If they can clearly draw a line back to their identity and the events happened to them, you have a potential lawsuit on your hands.

4. If you cannot get sign off, then change it to a novel and make sure you change the story enough so that it cannot be identified as your family's story. You've heard the message before on shows like Law and Order where they say the story is fictitious. Change your story enough to make it fiction.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

In Loving Memory -- John Andrew Gamble, 1962-2011

I rarely discuss my private life on my blog, but I wanted to take a moment to pay tribute to my brother who passed unexpectedly sometime in July in Wasilla, Alaska.

John was a true mountain man. He wasn't the least bit materialistic and never cared about worldly possessions. In the last 20 years after he moved to Alaska, I saw him three times, so we were not close; but I admire that he decided to live life his way up in the wilderness fishing for endless numbers of day. I always wondered how he seemed to never bore of it. He would catch so many salmon, he would live off fresh fish year round. He loved to cook, and I honestly have no idea why he got a degree in marketing from Sacramento State. Looking back on it, I think he would have made a terrific ranger.

From an early age, he loved nature. He used to catch trout with his hands up at our family cabin. We would wander the forest together. When we were little, we spent sometimes two to three weeks up there, hiking around the wilderness area, playing with our toys, and exploring. We would jump from big rock to big rock and play tag. Later, in the winter time when we snowmobiled, we would sled down the big mountain behind the cabin with our cousins Tim and Casey. I was always the only girl even in our neighborhood and family, so I became the sidekick that no one really wanted around. After all, I was the girl. We also tied the sleds behind the snowmobiles and got dragged around the back meadow. It was a lot of fun. In the summer months, John and I would follow the creeks all the way to the spring mostly out of curiosity. Once we hiked for what seemed like miles to find the source of the cabin water supply all the way up the mountain. Since the cabin was already at some the 8,500-foot elevation, we tired easily but trudged to the top to find the little trickle of the source of the water. It was anticlimactic, but interesting. We hiked everywhere and got to the know the countryside as well as anyone might know every inch of their backyards. He would tirelessly hike down the front of the mountain and into the meadows below. Once we ran into a porcupine, and I don't know why it stands out, but it does.

My family also named a small mountain in front of the cabin, "Scroungy," and it became an annual obsession to plead and beg to hike to the top of it. After all, it sat right in our view from the deck, calling to us like a true siren to the real "rocks." So when we were older probably around ages 10 and 12 respectively, we tackled the Scroungy climb, which was so strange to me. The mountain looked really rugged and just crumbling even from through the binoculars, but when you actually climbed it, it was huge boulders mixed with big rocks and rocky soil. It didn't look at all the same up close. We also hiked to Lower Relief Reservoir any number of times. John didn't mind the cold water at all and would plunge right in for a swim. In fact, cold never bothered him the same way it did me; hence, the ruggedness and fortitude that drew him up to Alaska. I could never get through a cold winter up in Alaska, but never once did I hear a single complaint from him.

When we became teenagers, he loved to swim and ran long-distance track. I don't know if he was good at it or not, but when he passed his friend Nord reflected how fast he could run. No surprise. He was 6'5" -- a tall, tall guy. My son Cole will be as tall as his uncle. In his teens, he was lanky and grew so fast his poor body couldn't begin to keep up. And then he started eating to maintain. Oh, man he could put the food down and want more just seconds later. I was never a big eater, so it wasn't a competition to get food before he ate it all.

The teenage years became more difficult, and eventually we became estranged, but not after spending a few good years, playing around together. He didn't like his friends flirting with me, and I saw his protective instincts come out. We would also go to the midnight movies together and see Rocky Horror Picture Show and sometimes go out dancing. But over time, our lives and interests parted us. If you would have met him as an adult and met me you wouldn't make the connection. We couldn't have been more different. He never married and he left behind no children, which I suppose is good in the way that he didn't leave a widow and fatherless children. I understand he ended up as a manager of seafood and meat in Safeway. I don't know if he liked his job; but I do know he loved the great outdoors more than he loved anything else. He died in the great outdoors, and I feel some comfort in knowing at least he died in the place that he spent all of his adult life, and for that, I am grateful.

I don't want to reflect on "the why" anymore. It's too painful to think about. I just like the idea that now he is the great mountain man, exploring the vast land of the Universe and fishing for endless salmon, trout, and blue gill (his "starter" fish). Here's to you mountain man! May you rest in peace!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Angry or Funny? You be the Judge

A fine line exists between humor that is funny or humor that is just angry. If you use sarcasm in your writing, best to be careful that it doesn't tip over into sounding just pissed off or mean-spirited. I love to use humor in my newsletter First Word (sign up on the 3L homepage). I sprinkle the funnies in my blog too, but I try to balance what's funny between solid information. If I do nothing but post humorous reflections -- and I'm a serious business woman -- you might not think there is any substance here. So a nice surprise and a funny once in awhile work too; but recently I started doing some research on some humorists to pitch the book Confessions of a Las Vegas Motorcop and noticed that some bloggers out there try to be funny or sarcastic. Problem is some of the posts are just mean or angry. You don't need to be mean to people and call them out in a way to embarrass them to be funny. And if you think name-calling makes you sound funny and you're expressing all your suppressed angst instead, well, not so funny. Sad maybe. Funny no. I would imagine these writers don't realize that their mean-spirited writing isn't funny. They probably think they're hilarious. What they don't know is that behind the scenes, people aren't saying how funny they are. They're saying other less impressive things. So if you're a humorist, try and be benign and cause no harm. When I call people out, I never use names. I rearrange the story so they won't recognize themselves. I recently received some pretty, pretty bizarre pitches for my radio show (see previous post), and since I knew many of those folks might read my blog, I didn't cite anything specific when I made fun of the ridiculous -- and that is a pretty harmless way to go. In other words, were there really circus freaks involved? Hmm ... my hint: probably not. Were there some strange pitches that involved some "freakish" things. Hmm ... my hint: probably.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

So You Want Exposure

In the public relations and marketing business, your number one goal is to increase visibility and exposure. Why you ask? Because the more visibility and exposure your company has, the more people know about your company and the more likely it is your business will increase. It's pretty simple math really but some small businesses, in particular, whose owners might have little experience with public relations and marketing don't understand the value. They don't understand that the wider they cast the net, the more likely they are to increase their business. Small businesses are often the ones that struggle with gaining enough exposure to grow. The reason is they are small and don't use key techniques to spread the word they exist. If you are a small business, here are some important things you can do to increase your visibility and hence your exposure.

1. Always network and make your company known. Networking in the post recession world is probably the most important technique you can use to win business when businesses are being very careful with each dollar spent. Gone are the days when businesses could risk a little money on a faceless company. The wagons have been circled around those business people they know and trust.

2. Because other members of the "club" want to support their own, also make sure you show up. Don't do a hit and run, thinking that you've networked this once now you're golden. You have to join the "club," meaning you are committed and you keep coming -- and the business will follow. This is called personal exposure. The networking groups knows you personally and over time, members understand what it is your company does. It takes up to 10 impressions for people to actually remember what your company is about.

3. Go bigger and wider with a public relations campaign. You can only effectively network in about a 100-mile radius from your home base. A public relations campaign where your practitioner works on placement of real stories about your company, product or service is superior to an ad in terms of increasing your visibility and exposure. A story about your company gives you more credibility than a paid advertisement. The bigger the circulation or audience of the media, the more visibility the greater the exposure. Now more people in your region who didn't know about you before or more people nationally who have never heard about you, have heard about you. Nothing can help a company go national than an effective national PR campaign. Last year, a feature ran on 3L Publishing in Success Magazine, and as a result, we gained three new national clients. Now we have clients in Pennsylvania, Florida, Colorado, Georgia and more.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Query the Masses Turn Up the Strange and Bizarre

I just posted a query for First Word radio and got up this morning to find an astonishing 200 pitches in my in-box. To suggest I will spend the next several days sorting through those is an understatement. I had to laugh, because I've heard a query on HARO produces that kind of response. What really blew my skirt up were the really weird ones. I was somewhat astonished by things like JoJo the Dog Boy who became a dog because he got in a fight on the playground. Or Moesha the Monkey Wrangler ... now I am half-hearted kidding, but not really. I don't want to specifically cite any of the real ones, but what I just described is pretty darned close. Rest assured, I won't be inviting JoJo on the show. What I also discovered aside from the odd assortment of circus freaks were various trends in books. Now this piece of information could really help me out. I noticed reinvention was a big one. Chin up and all that sort of stuff. The coaching books and success books -- also big. I now realize some topics that would be best to avoid since everyone and their aunts, uncles and cousins is writing about it. So literally stay tuned. We have an assortment of really great guests coming up on future shows, but again, poor JoJo. He will have to stay leashed to his pen. No radio for you JoJo.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Why Does Ditching It All Sound so Appealing?

I've noticed a trend since the Eat, Pray, Love book sparked a run on trips to Italy, people are embracing the less-is-more lifestyle. I met an author who wrote a book about how to ditch it all and travel the world. I just received a story about a retired couple who ditched it all for a ride across country in their RV. I have to tell you, I get it. Another friend of mine has become somewhat of a gypsy moving from place to place, abandoning property ownership in favor of a nomadic lifestyle where she relies on the good graces of friends and family to house her as she moves around. Do you suppose in our overstuffed material world, some of us have just had enough of the "over-enough?" Americans have been a materialistic society for a while now but I think the never-ending recession has caused more than just job loss. It has shifted lifestyles and maybe pushed people to re-think their over-stuffed stuff. It's really more a spiritual juncture we've come to. Lives previously tied down by possessions are being abandoned in favor of freedom to roam and venture around the country or across borders into other countries. "Abandon" sounds kind of great on days when responsibilities tie me down, but I am not old enough or free enough (children you see) to hit the road. But I must say, it sure sounds nice. Ah, back to work...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Hype over Substance!

OK, I hear this all of the time. "But that company made it sound so great!" And when it came down to the actual work, not so great! I know some people whose products and services are just garbage, but these same people are masters of hype. They tell you how exciting it is. How great they are. How successful! If you intend to invest in companies like that, here is your best advice for "consumer protection." Don't get sold on hype! Get sold on substance! Here are some tips to help you avoid the hype and find out if it's true.

1. Samples -- If someone has hyped it all up and made it sound all glamorous, look at the truth. What do their products look like? If it's a publisher, what do their products read like? Are they loaded with editorial mistakes and weak information or plot lines? Watch out and make sure that whatever samples, they show that these are really their products. You would be surprised about misrepresentation. Also, in the publishing world, if someone is putting out there, they know publishing, writing and editing, then they should be a qualified editor. If they're offering editing or writing services, ask to see samples of "published" (published as in a reputable magazines or periodicals). This one isn't that difficult. Google their professional name. What comes up outside of their website or blog? Do you see any bylined pieces out there if they're a professional "writer?" I don't think someone who has never been professionally published anywhere outside of his/her own company is a true pro.

2. Credentials -- OK, now we're getting down to the meat. What is that person's credentials? Their true credentials NOT what they've hyped it up to be. We can all one day decide we're going to be something and put down a title. Check their credentials -- especially if you're going to spend money with this business. What is the leader's education? Is it nutrition when they're marketed themselves as an editor? If they're education isn't on the money, then how many years did they spend working hands-on in the field? The RIGHT field. Again, if they're a publisher, how many publications did they work on prior to becoming a publisher. Check it out thoroughly. You may be unpleasantly surprised that there is not substance to all that hype. It's your money, so be careful.

3. References -- Ask for references directly from those products the person is saying he/she produced. In the case of publishing (but this applies to websites and marketing collateral too), ask to talk to the author of that book he/she is saying his/her company produced. The author has the authentic experience with the company and can reflect back the experience. So make sure you talk to the client and/or author.

4. Hype is hype -- You can make anything appear sexy and glamorous -- it's called marketing. Most business people are not going to admit their business isn't doing so well. But if a business owner is saying he/she is super successful but, in truth, are not profitable or even filed bankruptcy, watch out! Especially watch out, if they're out teaching how to be successful when they have never personally achieved success.

3L Publishing Business Tip of the Day: Increase You Sales by Networking

Business slows due to summer vacations and absent colleagues? Most of the time I vacation in July and December, because these are the slowest sales months of the year. This year, though, I changed up the game plan. If you're facing slow sales growth, time to get out on and meet and greet. I am always surprised by people who complain about slow sales or tell me they need to grow their sales yet when I encourage them to network, they have dozens of reasons why not. The real reason usually comes down to, "I am not motivated enough to do something that makes me uncomfortable." The real scoop is if you're not uncomfortable that means you're probably not growing and going for the big time. You can stay in the comfort zone to succeed. You have to push boundaries and you have to try new things. Last week, I was really concerned about our slowed sales so what did I do? I got my behind out of the office and went to a networking meeting, which was free by the way. I met some new friends and new opportunities naturally arose. I wasn't out pitching. I was just mixing and mingling. Networking is your no. #1 sales tool -- and you don't have to sell. You just have to show up. So next time, you think I need more sales or more funds, go network. Get out, shake some hands, enjoy a drink with someone new, and get to know them for the sake of just to get to know them. You will be pleasantly surprised!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Dieting and Staying Thin

This blog is for all those ladies out there who read the "girl" magazines that focus on things like weight-loss. I read this article in Allure recently about thin women advising other women on how they stay effortlessly thin. The premise was that these women didn't diet and yet the rest of the article read like a Weight Watcher's ad, and while these thin women reportedly "ate what they wanted," I noticed that the list of food sure did have a diet-like feel to it. So, I wanted to write about this as a woman who has been a size 4 since she was 16-years-old and really give you the insider information. I am not nor have I ever been on a diet. I have had two children and gained 40 pounds with each one and immediately lost it each time. No, I did not hire a personal trainer or go on a diet. I merely resumed my normal eating habits, and yes, I do eat whatever I want. Here are my tips to staying thin for a lifetime not a few months or years -- a true lifetime.

Moderation and satiation -- I love dessert as much as the next person. I love food too. In fact, I love reading about food; hence the reason why there are now three cookbook-related type books in the 3L Publishing catalog. I love beautiful pictures of food, etc. But when I sit down to eat, I only eat until I am comfortably full and that's the end. No need to push into the stuffed mode. If I want dessert, I order it. Once in a while I eat the whole thing, but nine times out of 10, I eat two or three bites. Not because I am consciously trying to limit my intake, but because I'm full as it is. I just want a taste -- enough to "satiate" my pallet.

Snacking -- I don't have time to snack and I don't make time to snack. I have a busy schedule and two children. But when I do snack, no, I don't go for the healthy choice. Yes, it's Dorritos and it's only once in a while. I love salty foods and it's a known fact it's not good for me. But you know it's back to moderation. I have never in my life eaten an entire bag of Dorritos. I eat maybe five or six chips, pallet satiated and I'm done.

Whole foods just taste better -- let's get honest, I also enjoy whole foods and fresh food. If I had a choice between a plate of fresh salmon with mashed potatoes and greens over a processed meal out of a bag, my first choice would always be the plate of salmon. It's my preference. Again, I'm not sitting around thinking about whether or not I'm going to eat X or Y. I am just naturally gravitating toward healthy choices. And even when I order the potatoes, I still don't eat the entire heap of them. I eat until I am full and then it's done. I'm happy. My stomach is happy.

The carbs rebellion -- how many celebrities and the like go on about the carbs war? You know what, I want a slice of bread, I eat a slice of bread. I don't eat 10 rolls and I don't eat five slices. I eat a slice or even two. I do not actively sit around and fear the carbs. If you're going to make carbs your foe then you're going to needlessly over focus on it and probably eat too much of it, because you're focused on it. Forget it girlfriends. Just eat the darned carbs and get over it already. Carbs are carbs -- they're are not Darth Vader ready to smite you into overweight misery with a light saber. Eat your carbs and smile!

Two meals a day work just fine -- the other thing I hear all of the time is snack all day long to stave off hunger and over eating. Oh, forget it. If you're not hungry, don't eat or snack. Seriously why eat if you're not even hungry to stave off something else. This is strictly my theory, but if I had to snack all day to stay thin, I would be overweight. So, that's not a rule I subscribe to. I don't eat breakfast except on weekends with my family. I'm not hungry in the mornings! That's the ticket right there. If I'm not hungry, I don't eat. I know nutritionists will scowl at what I just said, but you asked how I stay thin. And there is your answer.

Friday, July 15, 2011

You Are What You Eat ... or Think!

Spiritual lesson of the day straight from Be the Hammer Not the Nail: You are what you think the most about. The slow summer months have slowed our business growth. Today I got more news that ruffled my usually pristine feathers. I realized as my old business associate used to say, "They're dropping off like flies!" Well, in this case it has to do with contract shifts and completions. My panic button set off for about two minutes, and then I realized I needed to outwit and out-promote the entire situation. That line went through my mind, and I quickly decided to not go into panic mode, but go into positive-thinking and resourcefulness to get out ahead of the situation. I can't spend my day worrying about this. Instead I need to expend all of my energy thinking of ways to attract new business and growth. So, if I'm going to become what I think most about, it needs to about success! And if any of you out there are reading this and struggling in any way, shape or form, the rule applies. Don't become what you're thinking about all day by thinking about negative situations. Put your game face on. Plunge in and get her done!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

What Ever Happened to Good, Old Boundaries

Now I'm not writing this to get you all shocked. I just read a query for a book where one of the questions was, "Do you think people would be flattered or creeped out to find out someone masturbated to a picture of them in their minds?" OK, good jumping whatever-its-face. Really? Are we now so coarsened and completely pushed past any decent boundary that someone is even asking this question? Can't anything at all be kept discreet and private? Here is the truth. I don't need the answer to that question to feel flattered or anything in between. Why do we need to ask it at all? We're all adults, yes, but isn't it about time people quit pushing the boundaries so far past anything private? No one needs to even ask that kind of question. I don't want to know. I don't care to know -- and I don't understand why it's going into a book. What value is that going to offer to society? Probably zero! Zero value whatsoever. And it's not just that! It's all the other pushing past boundaries that is just totally disturbing. I can tell you this much. No one at their next book club meeting is going to ask that question. I'm positive.

Hi

So this status post on Facebook sparked a discussion about how people start or try to start a chat with you by sending a one-word supposed conversation starter -- "hi." All by itself. Nothing else. Just "hi," and somehow I'm going to be blown away with your amazing conversational skill (singular) that I just must reply. So, I'm thinking what should be the monosyllabic response to "hi?" It must be scintillating and provocative. Enough to blow their minds. Something that is equally as exciting as "hi." Hey, here is one: "hey." "Hi." "Hey." Yes, I believe those are nice bookends to each other, don't you think? Here is the deal. If everyone didn't start trying to chat me up this way, I would not have noticed. But I swear to the Greek Gods, every single random guy will send me that chat-starter. "Hi." I don't get it. Did some policy-maker at Facebook send our a memo to all users that said: When trying to start a chat with an unfamiliar male or female, we recommend all users adopt the plain English word of "hi." Is this in some Facebook user training guide? See under "Chats" all methods to start conversations. Go to page 10. And there you will find the instructions to only use the word "hi." What I really find amusing are the ones where the person sends me a half-dozen hi's. Now THAT is impressive! Oh, I know maybe the word "hi" replaced "knock, knock." "Who's there?" "Hi." "Hi." "Hi who?" "Hi."

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How to Get Promoted

I just read Sonja Fisher's new chapter about women in business that is coming out this fall I believe, and I will give you the exact title when I find out and help her promote it. I loved what she wrote, and while I don't want to use her advice verbatim, I thought I would put it through my own experiences. So, here are some tips if you're working in Corporate America or just want to create success. These tips are political steps to help you succeed in business.

Always dress better than your boss -- this one really surprised me. First, I don't think I've ever not dressed better than the people I have worked for, but it had more to do with my zest for fashion than any strategic maneuvering I was attempting to make. What Sonja says is that you should dress for the position you aspire to. Now given that I saw some people show up for work in their sweatpants (p.s., sweatpants are never a good fashion statement either personally or professionally), I suppose this is good advice.

Always support your boss and try to make him/her look good. This is very good advice. First, your boss is the one who will support you as your rise up the food chain. Outwardly acting insubordinate only creates tension in the relationship. An executive is in the position he or she is in because of their experience and ability to make grounded, informed decisions (a-hem, most of the time). When juniors take a stand against their superior it under minds their superior's authority -- and no matter how you slice that one, it doesn't come out well. In other words, no executive wants their authority under-minded. Be very careful with insubordination even when you think you're right. Some companies outwardly do not support junior personnel and do not weigh out the who's-right-or-wrong factor. Their executive position is to support the other executive right or wrong. In all honesty, I have never once seen the junior professionals prevail over their executive leader. Not once. And I have to tell you, I always agreed with the juniors' viewpoints. Your position on the food chain will put you in a negative light. I have a friend who had a boss come in front the outside and despite the entire group's protests against the boss, they all got reported and put under negative scrutiny. So play the game and play along -- or just play nice if you want to be promoted.

Solutions not problems. Also, I've seen this on numerous occasions, young professionals don't understand that you bring solutions to your manager not problems. Managers have so many stresses pulling at them. They don't want the person in their office who does nothing but load them up with problems. Smart young professionals will face a problem head-on, solve it, and then offer the problem-solution equation to their managers. This approach makes you look like you're smart and know how to take initiative. I can tell you when I managed a department of 10 people back in my corporate days, the person I didn't want to see in my office was the one sure to heap my plate full with problems. Don't be that person.

Advice for Entrepreneurs

People make assumptions about being an entrepreneur or your own boss. They don't realize that it's sometimes a 24-hour job that when you're not working you're thinking about what you need to do. If you want to own your own business, you will enjoy the ups and downs. Don't assume independence = play time. That is the biggest assumption people make about business ownership -- that your freedom equates to a lot of free time. Business owners who do mistake ownership for play time quickly discover that business isn't going to sell well, because as I just said, when an owner isn't working he/she is thinking about the business. I've seen numerous people attempt to launch their own businesses only to fail. What happened? I can tell you the most obvious mistakes, and these are as follows:

Business will come to me -- some people absolutely hate networking. They would rather get their teeth cleaned (actually my BFF for real would always rather get her teeth cleaned). They try to find people to handle deliver business direct to their desktops. Reality check: Most business leaders have to network and make connections. Few businesses exist where you can sit and the business will come. If you hate networking either get over it or forget it.

You better develop a real appetite and charge after your next meal. The other common mistake is not being hungry enough to charge after your business. I'm not suggesting you become an aggressive sales person -- no one likes that. But the most common mistake I see is a lack of initiative and desire. You're literally not motivated enough to go hard charging after new business. When you're an entrepreneur you're always thinking of how to find new work. You're assertive and aggressive. You are motivated and take initiative. You don't say I need money, you go make money. If you say, I need money (and need is a strong word) then pull out those horns and starting working it. Think of ways you can make money. Network, connect, make proposals, take meetings, marketing, promote and do what you need to do. Because if you need something then you should be motivated to go get it.

Attitude and positive outlook count. Keep your chin up, stay positive and never say never. Yeah, sometimes you'll get down and frustrated, but don't wallow in it. Move on and keep your eye on the ball. Tell yourself you can do it, you can do it -- and like the little train you can. Winners don't look in the mirror and cry and say, "I suck." Winners look in the mirror and say, "I am awesome and great -- and I can do it!"

Smart business overrules emotion. The greatest mistake women business owners make (and more new businesses are being opened and managed by women than ever before). Don't let your right or left brain for that matter overrun the other. Use critical thinking and apply reason, logic and most importantly math to the situation. If the math goes into the negative, it's not a sound decision. How you feel about that decision should be measured on ethics and the greater good. Always error on the side of the greater good, because an error on the side of the least good can equate to a disaster in wait. Be smart, careful and judicious.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Texting or Working? That is the question ...

We have become a world of people that look like this: bent over, face lit up by LCD screen, fingers moving. I don't even have to tell you what I'm talking about and you know exactly what I'm talking about. The worse part of our little e-world is the completely loss of social graces. We text (at least try to) while driving, so they have to make a law to stop this. Now texting while driving is the craziest thing -- and obviously not safe. I once drove with a former associate that I had to tell her, "Quit texting! You're scaring me!" But the biggest offenses include: talking on the cell phone while socializing with someone else, talking on the cell phone during a meal with someone else; talking or texting in the car while you're with someone else; and my favorite, texting in the movie theatre. I once worked with this woman whose obsession with texting ran so deep, she texted non-stop. The only problem was it wasn't really for business. And when it came to answering actual business calls, well, she ignored those. At first, I thought she was texting about business, but then over time I came to realize she was either texting friends, flirting with potential boyfriends she met online, or texting family. All the while, she was supposedly working. Texting is kind of interesting that way too. If you do text for business, all your personal stuff can be masked by doing it for everything. The least busiest person can make it appear as though they are just swamped. The non-stop texting is really a veil for playing and goofing off. So, don't be fooled if someone spends more time moving their fingers on a keyboard than getting actual work done. It's all just a smoke screen!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Three Things You Didn't Know 3L Publishing Offers

3L Publishing didn't start as a publishing company. We began as a marketing, PR and custom publication provider. What many people don't know about 3L is that we provide a number of services way beyond just publishing. Even some of our own clients don't often realize that they can actually get all of their marketing and PR needs served under one umbrella. Here are three things we do that the average prospective or current customers often doesn't realize.

Website Development -- yes, we provide all of the affiliate author sites you go to when you want more information about the book you just purchased or to know more about the author. We've been building websites since the Web was born. We still do stand-alone websites outside of just author sites too. We recently built our travel agent client's website for a World Less Traveled. We will be building a Nu You by Julie, an alternative health and wellness site, in the coming months. If you need a website, check out some of our other sites and hire us: Silent Voices, Blood Over Badge, Beyond the Iron and Daughter of the Caribbean.

Blogs and Newsletters -- yes, we also provide design, branding and content for other company's blogs and newsletters. Most people don't realize we blog for others. We've been doing the World Less Traveled's content for two years for her blog and newsletter. If you don't have time to do your own content for your blog, you can turn the work over to 3L Publishing's team and simply approve content.

Custom Books and White Papers -- not all of our books are meant to be published in the mainstream. Some clients come to us and want a custom book for their business platform or a special event.  We've written technology white papers for years and can help create yours. If you need any kind of custom publication, we offer full-service including content, editing, design and production.

Do you like our products? Do you feel confident we could serve your needs? Call us today at 916.300.8012 or send an email to info@3LPublishing.com.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The eBook War: E Vs. Print

I don't know what exactly I was expecting. The eBook market flipped almost six months ago. I see people reading books on their various readers when I'm in airports. I guess now that I think about it, more people are reading off readers these days than print books. So, when our first book A Feast at the Beach by William Widmaier came off the eBook "assembly line," I have to be honest. I really didn't think we were going to do many sales. I was following the obvious market trends that were stupid to ignore, but at the same time, I was just making sure we were doing the right things and doing eBooks, period. After the book got reviewed on Culinate, I was happy to see the review, of course, but didn't consider that it might trigger the first set of eBook sales. It did and the ranking shot immediately down to #76 while the print version took a little while to catch. I'm fascinated to see how many eBooks will sell vs. print copies. The market trending suggest, eBook will beat the print version. Let's see if the market will speak. In the meantime, A Feast at the Beach is now available in Kindle and Nook, and next week becomes available on Kobo and iBook. We're waiting with breath that is baited to see who wins out in the eBook war.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Always Know What You don't Know!

I tell people all the time not to do it all on their own. Do you realize how much time you waste doing things that you are either not competent at doing or you don't know how to do. I used to win that game all of the time, "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" the home version when pitted against someone who was supposed to know everything. Why? Because I know a lot ... BUT I know what I don't know. So when I would get asked to use one of my tools (phone a friend, etc.), I knew to take the option. In business, it works like that game. You need to know when you don't know. For example, my state sales tax is due. We were using a different seller's license. We needed to not only transfer the license, but also pay the tax. I was clueless. Although Malia, my trusty right hand, had send me some number to call. I knew I would get stuck in some bureaucratic maze of voice-mail hell and probably not wind up with a breathing human on the other side. Instead, I decided to save myself the wasted time where it was quite likely I wouldn't get my answer anyway and still be faced with the same problem. So, I picked up the phone and called our new accountant. Guess what! SHE knew what I didn't know. It's her job to know. And voile! Problem solved. She took over the situation. So you see it works. If you don't know something, but best advice is hire someone who does. Your time is precious and time wasted on finding an answer is just time wasted.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The "Onward" Spirit

Being an entrepreneur requires a constant passion to succeed and a huge scoop of optimism. If you don't work in a brick-and-mortar office, you're going it solo. You have to motivate yourself. Give yourself the daily pep talk. Stay positive and earnest. Try and do things like a vision board so you can refer to it to keep your spirits high. Use a coaching service like the Daily Whip, Erika Lyremark's inspiring program designed to keep your spirits high and attention focused on your goals and aspirations. Believe me when I say some days I run into quirky, strange barriers. People are unpredictable. They can make oddball requests. They can decide to use another business instead of yours for often the strangest reasons. Don't try and put rhyme or reason around "crazy." Move on and stay focused on big picture dreams, goals and aspirations. If someone brings you down or fills your head with "no-go" ideas, stay away from them. Surround yourself with people who are willing and able to support your goals. In life and business, the lessons are learned every day. Do learn your lessons. If you don't learn them you are doomed to repeat them. I laugh at myself a lot too. I think I've risen above a challenge and then suddenly there is that very same challenge presented in again in familiar wrapping paper. I have just learned to try and figure how to step around and move forward. My new phrase adopted from a friend of mine, "Onward." So, today it's "onward!"

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Back to those Playboy Poses on Facebook

My Facebook crowd has grown dramatically. I've got roughly 1,100 connections, and with the new connections comes broader exposure to the citizens of Facebook. And comes broader exposure ... comes a reality check on people who play and work there. Now for me, I use Facebook for marketing and promotion for my business 3L Publishing. I don't play too much although I am guilty of posting the occasional rant or strange reference. I have a nice, conservative head shot and I don't post pictures of my bikini body or shots where I am wearing little more than a strip of gauze as clothes. So I find it pretty shocking the sheer number of strange head shots that are either bizarre and say nothing understandable about you; shots that are just grainy and ugly; or shots that should really appear as the Playmate of the Month. So, here are some recent shots to either make you scratch or just shake your head in disapproval.

The barely there wear -- now women are not the only offenders of the photos where they "oops" seem to have lost their ability to put on clothes that either fit or cover up. If you're on Facebook to meet men, then why did you friend me? I am not there for that. My profile clearly shows I am there to network only. The offenders might start off with a conservative photo, but I've noticed over time the barely there shots are popping up. It's Facebook people not Playboy, Hustler or Penthouse. Put your clothes on. And men, please don't show up with your abs as the shot! That is creepy!

The grainy, up the nostrils shots -- this photos are just a head-scratcher. Some people think that a close-up shot of what appears to be nothing more than their nostrils is somehow mysterious. Or I liked the really strange one that included the corners of their eyes AND their nostrils. If you think this creates an attractive, mysterious photo you are wrong. It simply grosses me out and makes me want to send you out to give your nose hairs plucked!

The obtuse, bizarre picture of what? shots -- these often include strange objects with a person's name next to them. Is it a logo? Is it an object? It's a noun -- person, place or thing? I have no idea, and if I don't know your "friends" don't either, which is not a good head shot.

Last but not least plain old grainy shots -- why are you posting the worst pictures ever taken of you? Your face is twisted, contorted and grainy? Grainy pictures of your last outing is fine. But for your head shot, please get at least a clear shot done where you don't look like Jack the Ripper.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Ambush Sales is a Big No, No

When you want to sell something to a prospect, here is the number rule: Don't be disingenuous in way, shape or form. Always be honest and open about your intentions even if you think the person will say no. First, you have to respect your prospect's time. For example, if you ask for a meeting and you vaguely reference what it's about that is a big no, no. You ask for a meeting and you say to discuss X. You don't ask for a meeting and make no reference to what it's about. That is what I call an ambush. If you want to meet with me to discuss "how we can do business together" and I have no idea what you mean by that and you want to either get a job or sell me something, this is not the right way to do it. You tell me what you're interested in discussing -- direct, honest and to the point. If I'm interested I will agree to meet you. I've had the "ambush" meeting request several times, and the moment I sense a lack of honesty, I know it's because someone is trying to manipulate me into meeting with them. If I sense at all some kind of strange manipulation, I'm out.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July

On a national holiday, I can't be all business like and serious -- that would be boring and anti-celebratory. So I thought I would instead try to entertain you with my "wit and charm," which some of you right now are totally rolling your eyes. First, I thought the flowers to your left might remind you of bottle rockets! Yeah, bottle rockets ... no? Not bottle rockets, okay how about just beautiful flowers blooming up in Tahoe right now. Yes, I shot those on a recent day trip. I love Tahoe in the summer ... and winter. All right so onto the business of the amusing. Here are three things I find annoying in general. You will relate.

Posting Nike shoe photos on my Facebook page. All right I have share something I bet only a few of you know. I don't wear running shoes. There I said it. Even when I'm working out I wear cute tennis shoes. Here is the real deal, though, some clueless person by the name of "Bow Berry," a gal I friended that I should have thought about twice once I caught her come-hither photo with the barely there orange outfit that only covered the modest parts. Seriously, I warned "Bow," whom I am assuming sells Nike, to stop posting the spam on my wall. My warning fell on deaf ears. She got de-friended this morning. You cannot use social media to advertise your Nike account! Those of you reading this shocked by this announcement and posting spam on social media, you will quickly find your following has waned.

Speaking of come hither ... what is with the Playboy poses on Facebook these days. Really? The aforementioned spammer seriously had a photo that for intents and purposes could have been a pin-up. I thought boudoir shots were private unless you are a professional stripper ... or lady of the evening (LOL). Don't you know that prospective employers might catch an eyeful of you on the ground crawling like a panther about to strike? The same goes for those party pictures. This one person, who I thought knew better, thinks that posting picture after picture with her holding various alcoholic beverages makes her look fun and fabulous. For the come-hither photos, you look sexy all right and provocative, but why do you want that image out in your professional network? And as for party Bahama Mama, let me ask you this? Why do you think that group shots of you holding non-stop glasses of alcohol make you look fun and fabulous? A partier, yes! A drunk, maybe! But party pictures on professional social media or your business site ... um! No! Here is what you really look like? Unprofessional and addicted to alcohol. Neither is good for business.

Asking to meet and not saying about what ... makes me weary. Every once in awhile someone asks to meet about doing business. Sometimes they just out of the blue will ask via social media. I have a really busy schedule, as do most business people. So, it's important you tell me what you want to meet about. If you tell me it's to sell me Nike shoes and you just did this via social media, big faux pas. Don't be ambiguous as to why you want to meet me. And don't use the opportunity to sell me stuff I don't need or to sell me at all. Also, don't ask to meet to try and get me to hire you. First, I'm not hiring. And while some strange business book might have suggested this will get you in the door, it won't. Employers don't hire people by random and unrequested meetings. If you want to meet, be upfront, tell me what about, and give me the opportunity to decide if I want to clear my busy schedule or not.

If you do want to know more, visit our website at 3L Publishing.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Who is Your Book's Audience

I see all kinds of manuscripts land on my desk. Many of them, the authors clearly has not considered their audience. The first thing you ought to do before you touch fingers to keyboard is consider your audience. The biggest mistake you can make is to just write whatever you heart's content (or "content" LOL). You can sure do that absolutely, but don't for a moment consider that it's going to sell unless you've strategically considered its marketability. Here are some important things to consider before you start writing and your idea is just a genesis in your mind.

1. Who is your audience? Men or women or both -- and what age group do you intend to appeal to? The young millennial generation, generation Y, generation X or Baby Boomers? Each of these groups has different likes and interests and ways of doing things. The millennial and Y generations are your tech-savvy group who will soon expect all their content on e-readers. You have to keep these points in mind as you move forward.

2. Is your book a general interest book or does it need a platform to sell? Self-help and non-fiction business books sell best as a part of the author's platform. Self-help and spiritual and inspirational work best as a platform. General interest and novels work best being sold into bookstores and the general public.

3. Does your audience have Internet access? Seems like a crazy question to ask, but there are still many groups that don't have access or don't use the computer to shop. If you intend to sell a book online and yet your primary audience is from a region with little Internet access (think rural America) then you're going to have a problem.

If you need some insight and consultation on this, please send an email to info@3LPublishing.com.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Horrible Bosses

I will try and post author Nancy L. Clark's great article titled Horrible Bosses later next week. Her book 18 Holes for Leadership is written as the definitive solution for a horrible boss to learn, well, not to be so horrible. I've had a handful of horrible bosses over the years. So, I thought I would do a spinoff of Nancy's article and describe some of my worst supervisors and why they were so awful. I'm sure many of you can related.

One-line Cave Woman aka Non-Communicator Candy -- twice now I've worked with people who cannot answer a question in any meaningful way. When you ask them something, they give you pat answers and most of the time those answers consist of "yes" or "no." I once had a boss who was away six months and during this long absence, she didn't stay in touch and when she did respond those monosyllables were her words of choice. 

Finger-Pointer Fanny -- remember when we were little and our parent's pointed a finger at us as an emphatic warning about something? Well, in my last year of employment I worked with a finger-pointing, over-the-counter pill popper whose menacing and crooked (not kidding) finger would come out to chastise those around her. I remember spending an inordinate amount of time staring at that crooked finger, wondering why it was crooked. Let's keep it simple. Pointing your finger at your staff is demoralizing.

Yells a lot Linda -- again, another parental habit often involves yelling. Yelling to get your way with full-grown adults is not an effective management tool. The volume of your voice to the ratio of work to be completed doesn't equate. No one likes to be yelled at, including children. If your go-to leadership style involves your ability to raise your voice, perhaps you would be better off taking an anger management class.

Drugged-Out Diane -- another thing sure to land you in the middle of a lawsuit is to take prescriptions drugs, send out masses of email all night long because you have insomnia, and then admit that maybe your email was inaccurate -- you were on valium (true story). All I'm going to say is, if you need valium to function perhaps it's time for a little R&R preferably on the other side of the globe where they don't have email and you're forced to stay offline until you're "offline" on those drugs. 

Email Elaine -- ever worked for someone who sends you millions of emails ... per minute. Another terrible trait of someone who doesn't know the phone still works. Email Elaine is trigger happy with the send button. She can't help herself. It's like that button when the mouse gets a treat for tapping it. If you happen to work for Email Elaine who can't actually engage in mouth-to-mouth communication, it's very likely your entire existence consists of sitting at your desk, trying desperately to answer her emails lest she yell at you.